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Consumer Daily Reports


Trusted reliable news sources from around the web. We offer special news reports, topic news videos, and related content stories. Truly a birds eye view on news.

Consumer News: Lime is pressuring Seattle to lift its ban on dockless electric scooters

PhotoSeveral weeks after Seattle officials made it clear that they don’t want dockless electric scooters in the city anytime soon, Lime is taking its lobbying campaign to the streets.   

The company once known for pile-ups of lime green bicycles reportedly set up a “pop-up” stand in a busy city park last weekend and invited passerbys to try its electric scooters.

The technology site GeekWire was apparently tipped off to the event and reported that 100 people showed up and tried scooters throughout the day. Lime representatives distributed handouts instructing people to email their city officials and demand dockless e-scooters.

The dockless bikeshare and scooter industry has a history of aggressive business tactics and refusing to take “no” for answer. In San Francisco, Lime and competitors Spin and Bird reportedly dropped their e-scooters off in April without going through the city’s scooter permitting process, sparking a cease-and-desist letter from the City Attorney.

When it comes to dockless bikes, meanwhile, Seattle last year agreed to let the firms do business in the city provided that they pay an annual $250,000 permitting fee. The new rules sent almost all companies fleeing, as they did in Dallas. Only Lime stayed, though the firm has subsequently raised its rates in response.

Dockless bike companies like Lime are now pushing e-scooters because they say that many commuters are uncomfortable riding bicycles.

But with speeds that can reach somewhere between 15 and 25 mph, depending on the brand, it's unclear where scooter riders are supposed to go. Seattle laws currently ban e-scooters from bike lanes or sidewalks.

A recent report in the Washington Post found that emergency room cases increased in cities after dockless e-scooters were introduced -- perhaps, in part, due to bike-averse people who underestimated the coordination required to navigate a scooter through busy city streets.

Read more ...

Consumer News: Tight work schedules for mom could mean poor sleep for kids, study finds

PhotoWhile finding an effective nighttime routine can be difficult for many adults, a new study conducted by researchers at Penn State found that having a regular bedtime routine is essential for kids to have the most restful nights’ sleep -- especially if their moms’ have busy schedules.

The study found that while moms who have rigorous work schedules often have rough nights of sleep, it can also affect their kids’ sleep. However, the researchers believe that keeping the same bedtime each night is key to breaking that cycle.

“We’ve seen this link between inflexible work schedules and children’s sleep patterns before, but we didn’t know why it was happening,” said researcher Orfeu Buxton. “Our results suggest that maybe it’s about children not having a regular bedtime routine if their mother is working an inflexible job. We know positive routines especially are very important for positive child growth, so sleep may suffer if it’s not there.”

Studying work flexibility

To test the ways mothers’ work schedules affected their children’s sleep, the researchers evaluated data from over 1,000 mothers and their children.

The mothers were asked to evaluate how flexible they thought their job schedules were, along with how many hours their child sleeps each night, if they had a regular bedtime, and if they had trouble falling asleep at night. The mothers answered the questions when their children were five years old, and again when they were nine.

The biggest takeaway was that children were found to sleep less when their mothers’ work schedules were less flexible. Additionally, children were found to have less trouble falling asleep and were better at maintaining the same bedtime when their mothers’ gained flexibility in their work schedules over the course of the study.

“If parents can be there for their kids on a regular basis, and help them by having a regular bedtime routine, all of that’s very beneficial for their long-term growth and development,” Buxton said.

Lead researcher Soomi Lee, an assistant professor at the University of South Florida, wants to put the onus on workplaces to foster more flexible work environments for parents.

“If workplaces could improve employees’ flexibility and control over when and where they work, that could be helpful,” Lee said. “They could offer diverse flexible work options for employees, especially for working mothers, such as flextime, telecommuting, or job-sharing with another employee.”

Sleep matters

The researchers are looking to continue the study by evaluating how this affects sleep habits as these children become teenagers and young adults. Based on recent studies, sleep is just as important to the wellbeing of both teens and adults.

A study conducted earlier this month by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that high school students who sleep less than six hours per night are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, including substance abuse and drinking and driving.

“Insufficient sleep in youth raises multiple public health concerns, including mental health, substance abuse, and motor vehicle crashes,” said the study’s senior author Elizabeth Klerman, PhD. “We should support efforts to promote healthy sleep habits and decrease barriers to sufficient sleep in this vulnerable population.”

Moreover, negative effects associated with lack of sleep were found to last into adulthood.

Researchers at Michigan State University recently conducted a study that found that sleep deprivation impedes people’s efforts in completing tasks, and their overall memory function throughout the day.

On the other end of the spectrum, researchers at the University of Bristol found the benefits of sleeping -- particularly in shorter periods. The study found that short spurts of sleep can lead to better decision-making and problem-solving while awake.

Read more ...

Consumer News: BMW recalls model year 2018-2019 vehicles with electrical issue

PhotoBMW of North America is recalling 3,501 model year 2018 BMW 330e iPerformance, i3 Rex, i3 Sport Rex, X5 xDrive40e, i3 BEV, i3 Sport BEV and MINI Cooper Countryman SE All4 PHEV vehicles, model year 2019 i8 and i8 Roadster vehicles and model year 2018-2019 530e iPerformance, 530e xDrive iPerformance and 740Le xDrive iPerformance vehicles.

Capacitors within the TurboCord Portable Chargers may fail, possibly resulting in a shock hazard or a fire and increasing the risk of injury or death.

What to do

BMW will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the charging cable, and replace it if necessary, free of charge.

The recall is expected to begin November 12, 2018.

Owners may contact BMW customer service at 1-800-525-7417 or Mini customer service at 1-866-825-1525.

Read more ...

Consumer News: Malicious message blamed for Sony’s PlayStation 4 crashes

PhotoSony advertises that “the ultimate home entertainment center starts with PlayStation (PS4),” but some of its users report that a text-message “exploit” is bricking their PS4 consoles and necessitating a factory reset to get the unit up and working again.

Bricking is a term that means the console is put into a permanent state where it's about as useful as a real brick.

“I know this is going to sound absolutely insane, but if you are a PlayStation 4 gamer, set your messages to private right now!,” cautioned the Dealer-Gaming channel on YouTube. “These aren’t patch notes. This is an actual warning.”

According to The Verge, bugs similar to this have reared their ugly heads on mobile platforms, where a certain message or strange character can cause instability, but one Reddit poster claims that even deleting the message from the mobile app doesn't work.

“It happened to me during Rainbow Six: Siege. A player from the other team used a dummy account to send the message and crashed my entire team. We all have had to factory reset. Only one of our guys wasn't affected and he has his messages private,” posted one user.

Players come together to offer solution

Owen S. Good at Polygon, an entertainment and tech-related news site, reported that he has had friend-only messaging enabled for a while, but he can’t tell if this threat/exploit is legitimate or if going that route was the way to thwart the bricking.

As of press time, Sony has not officially confirmed the issue nor has it offered an update for the PS4 since version 6.00, which was released on September 18, 2018.

Nonetheless, PS4 fans are flocking to each other’s rescue in a “message bricking console megathread” on Reddit by offering steps to prevent the issue and the following step-by-step solution from PS4 user MikeWillsUK -- one that’s been “voted up” by more than 2,000 Reddit users:

  1. Delete the message - Use PS Messages app or my.playstation.com to remove the message which messed up your PS4 ("Leave group").

  2. Boot in safe mode - With the PS4 turned off, hold the power button for 7 seconds until you hear another beep. The safe mode menu should appear.

  3. Rebuild database - Choose the "Rebuild Database" option so that the PS4 can clear the message from its data stores. If all goes well, you should have a working PS4 with all games and saves intact.

Read more ...

Consumer News: Apple to donate Apple Watches to eating disorder study

PhotoApple is donating its Apple Watches to 1,000 participants of a new study called BEGIN, which stands for Binge Eating Genetics Initiative.

The study, which will be conducted by the the University of North Carolina's medical school, aims to shed light on the underlying biological changes that cause a person to suffer from a binge eating disorder.

A person may be diagnosed with a binge-eating disorder, such as bulimia nervosa, if they slip into a pattern of binge eating and then purge or exercise to excess in an effort to compensate for the amount of calories they were unable to stop themselves from consuming.

Monitoring biological changes

The study will enroll 1,000 participants over the age of 18 who are stuck in this cycle of eating large amounts of food in a short period of time followed by a compensatory behavior.

Each participant will be given a free Apple Watch. They will also be instructed to sign up with a mobile app called Recovery Record, which will let them keep a digital log of their thoughts and feelings.

The data logged by the Apple Watch will allow researchers to see each participant’s heart rate, with the goal of spotting any sudden increases prior to binge eating episodes. Participants will also receive tests to analyze their genetics and bodily bacteria, which will be used by researchers to gain further insight into the causes of the disease.

"We need to collect data from a whole lot of people to see what it looks like," said Cynthia Bulik, founding director of the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders and author of Binge Control: A Compact Recovery Guide. "We want to know if it has a biological and behavioral signature."

Predicting binge eating incidents

The researchers say the ultimate goal of the study is to observe a particular change that would enable them to predict binge eating episodes before they happen. With this information, a follow-up study could be designed to help set up some kind of alert when a person is at risk of binge eating.

"We're interested to find out what happens in the time period leading up to the binge and the purge," said Jenna Tregarthen, CEO of Recovery Record. "And we hope we can anticipate and ultimately change the course of that episode."

At least 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from an eating disorder, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. About 1 in 50 western women between 15 and 24 years old suffers from bulimia.

Read more ...

Consumer News: Pet care costs continue to rise

PhotoAs pets have become more like children in many households, the amount of money pet owners spend on their pets has skyrocketed.

Last year, pet owners spent nearly $70 billion on their pets, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). Some of the biggest expenses that consumers willingly -- and often unexpectedly -- shell out for are costs for drugs and medical procedures.

A report published in February of this year found that pet owners spend anywhere from $9,000 to more than $13,000 for medical treatments over the course of a companion animals’ lifetime. And most of the time, cats and dogs aren’t covered by medical insurance.

Just 10 percent of dogs and 5 percent of cats are covered by medical insurance, according to a survey by the APPA. What’s more, a recent report from the New York Times points out that since 2015, the costs of veterinary services have risen over 10 percent for medical treatments and 5 percent for regular checkups.

“It’s not what veterinarians are charging,” Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary officer for Nationwide, told the NYT. “It’s more what consumers are choosing to pay.”

Animals living longer

The lengthening lifespans of dogs and cats -- set in motion by increased education about pet health among consumers, marked by more check-ups and better nutrition -- may also be contributing to the rising cost of pet care.

Dogs are now living an average of 11.8 years, according to Banfield Pet Hospital’s 2016 State of Pet Health report; that’s up from just 11 years in their 2013 study, and 10.5 years in 2002. Cats are now living an average of 12.9 years, up from 12.1 years in the 2013 study, and 11 years in 2002.

“The cost of care for us is also related to age,” McConnell added. “It’s the reverse of the car — the older the animal gets, the more it costs.”

Pet insurance market to double

Last week, market research firm Packaged Facts released a report forecasting that the U.S. pet health insurance industry will nearly double by 2022 -- from slightly over $1 billion in 2017 to $2 billion.

Experts say several trends are fueling the growth of the pet insurance market. But “most notably, increased consumer awareness will be crucial to growth,” the report said.

“Consumers are increasingly aware of the available pet insurance plans in the U.S. marketplace. Through marketing efforts and consumer education by pet insurance companies and associations, consumers are learning the benefits that pet insurance can offer when a pet becomes ill or injured,” says David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.

“For example, pet insurance companies use social media and their websites to grow consumer awareness of their offerings by sharing information on pet health, dog and cat breeds, and how pet insurance works. As market penetration remains low, these efforts are crucial to continued growth in the number of policies in force.”

Read more ...

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