App Monopolies Banned... in South Korea at Least

South Korea’s National Assembly approved legislation that bans app store operators such as Google and Apple from forcing developers to use their in-app payment systems. South Korea is reportedly the first country in the world to pass such a bill, which becomes law when it is signed by the president, whose party has backed the legislation. The tech giants have faced widespread criticism over their practice of requiring app developers to use in-app purchasing systems, for which the companies receive commissions of up to 30%. They say the commissions help pay for the cost of maintaining the app markets. The legislation prohibits the app market operators from using their monopolies to require such payment systems, which means they must allow alternative ways to pay. It says the ban is aimed at promoting fairer competition.

Anybody Looking for a Gig?

Stint, in use across the U.K., has grown in popularity, alongside similar apps in the United States like Instaworks and Gigpro, as one response to the peculiar ways in which economies have been rebounding from the pandemic recession. Uncertainty about the durability of the recoveries and the tentative re-openings of businesses still threatened by the coronavirus have made flexibility a top priority — for workers and employees alike.

Right to Drug!

Impatient with years of inaction in Washington on prescription drug costs, U.S. hospital groups, startups and nonprofits have started making their own medicines in a bid to combat stubbornly high prices and persistent shortages of drugs with little competition.

Interactive Chatbot

Have you ever read an article about a physical product or technology that made you tell yourself “hey, that’s a good idea and I wish I had thought of it!” This may or may not be one of those ideas. Microsoft filed a patent this year that would allow the company to digitally revive deceased loved ones as chatbots, using their data. This won’t just be a basic chatbot like what you see on social media, in fact the AI-based chatbot that would be built upon the whole profile of a person, including their images, voice data, social media posts, electronic message style and habits, to name a few. Through this data, the chatbot would then be able to simulate the person to the point that it could hold a conversation certainly through chat and potentially respond to voice commands as well.

Rain, Rain, Don't Go Away

We have known for a long time that Dubai plays by its own rules, so this next bit of information should come as no surprise. Officials in Dubai are using drones to artificially increase rainfall as the city grapples with oppressive heat, and who could blame them with temperatures increasing to and past 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This time people from Texas and Arizona can empathize instead of posting memes about how temperatures between 80 and 95 degrees are not a heatwave. In case you needed reference, your water heater in your house is more than likely set to 120 degrees Fahrenheit- have you ever tried to touch it? Not a good idea. That’s also more than halfway to the boiling temperature of water at 100 degrees Celsius, or 212 degrees Fahrenheit. In short, these are not temperatures that make people want to go outside and frolic and could potentially be deadly.

Where's the Bacon?

It looks like California may never be ok, but this time they did it to themselves and it is not an act of nature like a flood or fires. At the beginning of 2022, California will begin enforcing an animal welfare proposition that requires more space for breeding pigs, egg-laying chickens and veal calves. That does not sound like a big deal until you hear that roughly 4% of hog operations now comply with the new rules. Unless the courts intervene or the state temporarily allows non-compliant meat to be sold in the state, California will lose almost all of its pork supply, and pork producers will face higher costs to regain a key market. Sure, the California farms could get into compliance, but any pork that is imported from other states must also meet these standards, which, fun fact, a lot of California’s pork supply comes from farms that do not meet the animal welfare standards in Iowa.

Right To Repair Challenged

As software and other technologies get infused in more and more products, manufacturers are increasingly making those products difficult to repair, potentially costing business owners time and money. Makers of products ranging from smartphones to farm equipment can withhold repair tools and create software-based locks that prevent even simple updates, unless they’re done by a repair shop authorized by the company.

Where the Wood At? Part Deux

As we talked about in our article “Where the Wood At?” wood costs have skyrocketed over the last year, leaving would-be home renovators to choose between waiting in price purgatory or moving forward and possibly overpaying.

Activision Sued for "Bro Culture"

California legislators sued video game developer Activision Blizzard recently, citing its “pervasive ‘frat boy’ culture” and mistreatment of women employees. Following a two-year investigation into the company (which you might know for making Call of Duty and World of Warcraft), the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) claims that female employees—who make up 20% of Activision Blizzard’s workforce of about 9,500—were routinely discriminated against.