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Why AMP is a threat to the Open Web What is AMP?
AMP is an open-source
web component framework developed by the AMP Open Source Project, first announced
by Google in 2015 as a reaction to Facebook’s Instant Articles and Apple News. While it was originally aimed at accelerating mobile pages (hence AMP), it’s now a much broader project
In plain English: AMP is Google’s attempt at making pages (and more) faster. They did a good job, pages built with the AMP framework will normally load faster
. However, as this article
explains, you won’t notice much of a difference unless the AMP library is served using the AMP cache, but more on that later. The controversies with cached AMP pages
The AMP format is itself not much of a problem. In fact, we should applaud search engines that give ranking preference to fast-loading pages like AMP, but four aspects of its implementation are flawed:
- Google mobile Search’s Top Stories carousel has a premium position above of all other results, which is only accessible for AMP pages. These pages have to use a technology that was build and maintained mostly by Google (of the top 10 contributors to the AMP project on GitHub, 9 are Google employees), are then served by Google from their infrastructure and placed within a Google controlled user experience. And since this carousel generates a lot of clicks and revenue, publishers are left no choice but to embrace AMP. This has the effect of further reinforcing Google’s dominance of the Web. Fortunately, Google has announced that it's working on opening up the Top Stories carousel to non-AMP pages in 2021.
- The biggest performance boost doesn’t come from the AMP framework, but from preloading the page. It begs the question: Should preloading really be exclusive to AMP? They could introduce a way for publishers to allow or disallow preloading and if Google sees fit, they could preload those pages too, alongside AMP.
- When a user navigates from Google to a piece of content Google has recommended (or when a user clicks on a shared cached AMP link), they are, unwittingly, remaining within Google’s ecosystem and the publisher’s domain is obscured by the google.com/amp prefix. To work around this Google introduced Signed HTTP Exchanges ([Draft], , ), a web-standard that allows the browser to display the original site's URL, instead of the actual one (the one with the google.com/prefix). This would solve the original issue, but while doing so it introduced new ones (e.g. it obfuscates the fact that they're delivering the AMP page you're visiting). Interestingly enough, Google's Chrome already has support for this technology, but parties not involved with AMP are not so enthusiastic: Mozilla has deemed it a harmful web standard , and Apple has taken a similar stance.
- Google’s entire business model is about collecting as much personal data as possible, AMP is just another tool to do so. As described in Google’s Support article:
“When you use the Google AMP Viewer, Google and the publisher that made the AMP page may each collect data about you.” The controversies with non-cached AMP pages
To be clear, the above flaws are only with AMP pages cached by Google (or another party like Bing or Cloudflare) but there are also plenty of pages simply utilizing the AMP framework, recognized by URLs such as bbc.com/news/amp
/. However, these are also problematic
, mainly because there's only a small performance improvement when AMP pages aren't cached
and AMP pages tend to be less feature-rich and less diverse than their originals. And in some edge cases, it breaks stuff.
One could argue that the more popular the AMP framework becomes, the more AMP threatens the open web. That said, it should be clear that the biggest problem lies with the cached AMP pages. AMP is open source, but that doesn't make it holy.
Or as Ferdy Christant puts it quite nicely in his blog
Google’s main defense is that AMP is open source. Which isn’t just a weak defense, it’s no defense at all. I can open source a plan for genocide. The term “open source” is meaningless if the thing that is open source is harmful.
Just so we’re clear, I’m not claiming Google or the AMP project is evil (hell, they might even have good intentions!), but the fact is that AMP and it's implementation have some major flaws that threaten the Open Web. And as long as that's the case, AmputatorBot will be there to remove AMP from your URLs. AmputatorBot scans for AMP pages on Reddit and replies with the canonical version Learn more Up next for the nerds among us:
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Hey there again, you punks
So with a tip coming from some of the moderators on the board, I've decided just to quickly update this FAQ that I wrote a few months back since TI is next week and I'm sure many of you still have a ton of questions. I've gotten some more information that I can pass down to you in regards to Vancouver but also now TI as well, including updated marijuana laws and beer recommendations.
Two quick notes:
This summer has been an extremely hot season in Vancouver (at least in Vancouverite standards). Like anyone who attended in Seattle last year, there is noticeable smoke in the air in the city due to the fires all over the Pacific North West. If you have breathing issues or health related problems do to particles in the air, be advised that there is currently an Air Quality Advisory in effect so act accordingly. Wind/Rain will most likely clear up any issues going into next week, but just a heads up in case new fires flare up or we aren't blessed with some light rain. Forecast is looking to be sunny through midweek and the finals, with an average of about 23-25C.
THE PACIFIC NATIONAL EXHIBITION IS OPEN!
A staple for Vancouver residents since 1910, the PNE will be open from August 18th-September 3rd (closed on August 20th & 27th). If you're looking to do something after a midweek day, the PNE is the perfect place to go checkout for a fun night out filled with events, concerts, beer gardens, crazy carny food, rides, maybe BSJ, shopping and a lot more. This article will tell you everything you need to know about the PNE, how to get there and what's going on. ALSO BOYZ II MEN AUGUST 18TH GET HYPED.
PLACES TO STAY
- Is there AirBnB in Vancouver?
Yes, but it's not exactly regulated by AirBnB. Feel free to stay at one through AirBnB
but know that it might be a little tricky to deal with issues if they come up with your rental. Also while you're at it, check out VRBO
- How far away from Rogers Arena should I stay?
The general piece of advice you'll get from any local about where to stay for TI is going to be anywhere that's on the Skytrain Expo Line
(the line in dark blue). The Expo Line will take you to Stadium-Chinatown station, which is where Rogers Arena is 30 seconds away. As in Seattle, the closer to downtown you are, the more expensive it is to stay.
- Where are the cheaper hotels like Holiday Inn, Mediterranean Inn or Travelodge like in Seattle?
Unlike Seattle Center, there aren't very many budget hotels left, if at all in the Downtown core. The cheaper hostels are available, though fair warning, many of them are placed on Granville Street, which is a place that many Vancouverites will tell you to avoid while you're here (Though I have never stayed at a hostel on Granville, if anyone has an experience, feel free to share). Check out the Ramada Inn and the Days Inn near Waterfront for some cheaper-ish options.
- Are there any areas in Vancouver that we should specifically avoid?
In my mind, there are two places that I would keep a look-out for avoiding while you visit Vancity.
- Granville Street. During the day time it's normally fine, filled with some cool shops (Golden Age Collectibles, The Rock Shop, Movieland Arcade) but it's packed to the absolute max with dumbasses at night due to the amount of night clubs. There's police around every weeknight, but since you're in Vancouver for a good time, head towards Gastown, Chinatown or Main Street for places to party.
- Downtown East Side. If you've researched anything about Vancouver, you'll know that this area as where a large portion of the cities homeless reside. There is rampant drug use, poverty and sex work in this neighborhood, focused mainly between 5-10 blocks in the area of Main/Hastings. That being said, the community is an especially strong one, with fantastic human beings supporting the less fortunate. Though there isn't too much danger in terms of being robbed, you might want to just avoid the area at night. Be respectful to the people of this community and you'll have no problems.
Sadly, no there isn't. We know, it absolutely sucks and everyone in Vancouver is aware. Your options are public transit or a taxi.
- What's the parking situation like around Rogers Arena?
Super shitty if you don't like paying for parking. If you can, park outside of the Downtown core near a Skytrain and then head over to the Arena. Commercial Drive is pretty good for this if you can find certain spots. Tinseltown as well if you buy a movie ticket on non-event days.
- How does Transit work? What do I need?
If you've ever been to any major city, you'll notice that Vancouver shares the same load-up card/tap system that places like London share. It's called Compass Card
and it's fairly easy to use. Just load up money onto the card, tap it when you enter and tap when you leave. It'll do all the calculations for you. Note that certain zones will cost more just due to how far you're traveling.
- Does Vancouver have car-sharing?
Yes it does! Car2Go
are two of Vancouver's most popular car share services. Hot tip would be to register before you head over to Vancouver and it'll help mitigate the fact that UbeLyft aren't in Vancouver just yet. Just drive safely.
- How do I get from the Airport (YVR) to Downtown Vancouver?
The easiest way to get to downtown from YVR, if you aren't getting picked up/taking a taxi is to take the Canada Line
. It will take you directly to Waterfront station, from there you can take multiple buses, the Expo Line (the main line that will take you to Rogers Arena) or the Seabus (going to North VancouveLonsdale).
- What's the drinking age in Canada?
19 years old.
- I'm new to Canadian beer culture, what would you recommend?
Vancouver has an exploding craft beer culture and you'll be happy to find that the variety of different beers/ciders to drink is absolutely massive, probably to the point of being intimidating.
Here are some of my favorite breweries and the beers that you should look out for when you're at the liquor store/pub: Twin Sails Brewing
Dat Juice Pale Ale
Two Straws MilkShake IPA
Short Pants Mosaic IPA Brassneck Brewing
Passive Aggressive IPA
Bjorn Again Farmhouse Ale Steel & Oak
Passive Agressive IPA
Bjorn Again Farmhouse Ale Bomber Brewing
Bomber Parklife Passionfruit Ale
Bomber Snow White IPA
- Does Vancouver have any specific rules about drinking that I should know about?
Yes. First, there isn't any drinking in public if you already didn't know. Second, you must have TWO
pieces of ID on you whenever you go to buy drinks in case you're asked for your ID. First piece must be photo ID, the second piece must be something with your name on it (in order for bartenders/servers to validate the first piece). I see a lot of tourists thrown off by this, so just know that Vancouver's liquor laws are much more strict than other places.
I've heard from a few Vancouver residents that this isn't exactly enforced harshly, but just to note that it is an actual law. Piece of mind.
- What's the legal drinking limit in Vancouver?
%.05. There will be a ton of pubcrawls and side events going on for people that are attending TI and I'm sure that you'll be blasted one night or another. Please don't drink and drive. If you need a cab, here are the numbers you can contact in order to grab a taxi from downtown. Yellow Cab: (604) 681-1111 Black Top Cab: (604) 731-1111 MacLure's Cabs: (604) 831-1111
Also, a note for people from outside of Vancouver: the cab drivers in this city are notorious for being hard to deal with at times. Broken debit machines, cash up front, not providing receipts. Use your common sense to get you through pushy cabbies. If they have a broken debit machine and they are still driving, kindly reject them and give your business to another cabbie that will. UbeLyft will be here soon and karma will bite them back.
If at anytime you are in an emergency and don't know what to do, please DM me and I will provide my contact info.
- What're some places you recommend?
Vancouver is a glutenous paradise of places to eat. Instead of giving you specific places to go eat, here are some links that you might find helpful in terms of recommendations: Meowjin's Guide to TI8 The 38 Essential Vancouver Restaurants It's To Die For List
- Can I bring food into Rogers Arena?
This is not confirmed at the moment, but if the rules were anything like Seattle, you will be able to bring outside food into the arena. You are not permitted to bring liquids into the venue. You'll have to dump out your water bottle and refill it once inside. Rogers Arena might have different policies, but thankfully the venue has twice the amount of food stalls including a much more varied selection.
- What's a secret you have from being a lifelong Canucks fan for eating in the area?
Everyone from Vancouver attending will hate me, but this is going to be one of the hottest tips I can give you: there is a Costco food court
DIRECTLY across the street on the lower level of Rogers Arena that DOES NOT require a membership in order to buy food. It is the only Costco food court in Canada that doesn't need a membership to eat there. Hot dogs, poutine, pizza, soft drinks, ice cream and it's all lovingly Costco cheap. Enjoy!
- What sort of credit card/tap options does Vancouver accept?
Visa/Mastercard are widely accepted everywhere. Cards such as American Express/Discover are also accepted most places, though a few places might reject them for whatever reason (higher charge rates, issues with their machines etc..) Best case would be to make sure you have a Visa/Mastercard with you at all times as a back-up in case you run into any issues. Most places in Vancouver also allow you to use Android/Apple Pay now as well. No bitcoin though.
- How much money should I bring?
Well, that's entirely up to you. If you're staying the full week, a few hundred dollars in spare Canadian currency won't hurt you, especially if majority of your spending is going to be on plastic. There's going to be the Secret Shop, but that'll be done through online ordering and not cash payments. Just don't come with nothing. Worst case, always have at least $30-$40 cash on you just in case you run into a bind. It's really entirely up to you and how you plan on spending your time here. Do note that because of the low Canadian dollar, don't be surprised if the price of certain things is higher than usual.
- Where can I exchange money?
By far it would be the Vancouver Bullion & Currency Exchange
due to their lower exchange rates. Banks will more than likely charge you higher rates than the VBCE.
Due to the amount of fires that have started in the Pacific North West the past month or so, please do not throw your cigarette/joint butts into the street, sidewalk, bushes or wherever that isn't a proper garbage. You'll get a ton of dirty looks by locals if you do otherwise.
- Are there any huge cultural differences in Canada that I should know about?
Canadians are known to be rather polite, we'll answer questions for you or guide you in the right direction (as long as we aren't in a huge rush). As long as you're respectful of the people around you, take care of your hygiene, don't spit on the ground, talk over people in conversation or just avoiding being a total dick, you'll be fine. Though Vancouver is a somewhat socially cold city, that's mainly in dating circles. Get some new Bumble photos up!
- What's the tipping policy like in Vancouver?
Most places won't have the tip included in your bill. It's common courtesy to tip between %10-%15
of your final bill if you enjoyed your meal/drink/service. Feel free to go higher if you had a really excellent time. Some places do include the tip in the bill, but will have it noted usually at the bottom of the menu.
- I'll be taking public transit while I'm here. Any tips?
A few. Remove your backpack when you're boarding a bus/SkyTrain in order to create more space for the people around you. Hygiene again is a big one. Remember to fill your Compass card and check your remaining balance at least once a day in case you're transiting a lot. If you see elderly/disabled/parents with strollers attempt to come on board, the polite thing to do would be to offer your seat etc..
- My English isn't great and I need to ask a question, what should I do?
Don't worry at all! Vancouver is an extremely multicultural city and the residents here are used to hearing many different languages daily. Best bet is if you struggle communicating with anyone for any reason, download the Google Translate app and use it to answer questions you might have in a discussion.
- I want to ask for a playetalents autograph and I'm standing right beside them. How should I ask?
Use common sense. Most players/talent would be more than willing to sign an autograph or pose for a photo with you. But also be aware that much of the on-screen talent (Slacks, Kaci, panel members) will often have to be running from segment to segment, taking in matches and so on. If they seem to have a minute, ask nicely, thank them for their time and cross one off of the bucket list.
- I want to throw things at Slacks!
Don't throw things at Slacks.
- Will there be an outdoor screen showing games?
No update on this. Rogers Arena is mainly a concrete concourse, surrounded by a viaduct and multiple lower roads. Unlike Seattle Center (which had multiple fields and smaller available venues), the only place large enough outside the Arena that could hold a large crowd with a big screen would most likely be the "main" entrance through Expo Blvd/Pat Quinn Way.
There are a few other options in the area, but we're going to have to wait to see how creative Valve is with the space around the Arena. Perhaps they rent out the adjacent parking lots?
- Will there be a beer garden?
No update on this also, but again, there's a lack of outdoor space beyond the concrete concourse. Sportsbar Live will be open, which also gives a view of inside the Arena while you're eating/drinking. But again, it's indoors.
- Can I charge my phone inside of Rogers Arena?
From what I remember from Canucks games, yes, there are stations where you can plug your phone in to charge. But don't be surprised if a company like NVIDIA pops up a charging station outside much like in Seattle.
- What is the capacity for Rogers Arena?
- Where will I be able to see players? Will there be an open-area to ask for autographs?
One of the more obvious differences that most people will find from Key Arena to Rogers Arena, is that unlike Key Arena, Rogers doesn't have an open space concept between levels. Meaning, you won't be able to just look up to the third floor and see players hanging out like you normally would. This year, they most likely will be held in the boxes above or in the dressing rooms in the lower levels. Look for autograph times scheduled throughout the week to see your favorite players.
- Is there anything being hosted at BC Place during TI?
The only thing right now is a Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS) game on August 18th and a BC Lions (CFL) on the 25th. So if you really feel inclined, now you know.
- Where, how and when can we buy weed legally when we arrive in Vancouver?
When: On October 17th, weed will officially be legalized in British Columbia and most parts of Canada.
How: Normally you need a medicinal prescription to purchase marijuana legally. Though, because of the soon to be legalization coming up in a few months, most dispensaries will most likely write you a prescription if you tell them a valid medical reason for the marijuana (Trouble sleeping, chronic joint pain, back pain, headaches, trouble eating etc.). My friends who smoke themselves told me that hot tip, so do with it what you will. Please DO NOT buy weed from a source that isn't verified by another trusted person or a licensed dispensary. You never know what your weed could be laced with.
Where: Here are some dispensaries located close to Rogers Arena. Bloom Medical Dispensary The Dub Dispensary The Medical Cannibis Dispensary
You can't smoke anywhere that frequents children, even if there aren't kids around. So no beaches, public parks, playgrounds etc..
So just, anywhere that's away from people that don't want to partake essentially.
- Yo dude, thanks for that help, hit this shit real quick.
- I wasn't able to buy any tickets. What should I do?
If you weren't able to buy tickets from Ticket Master, you have a few options.
Post in the TI8 Vancouver Subreddit
and ask if anyone has a spare ticket.
Buying tickets from scalpers in front of Rogers Arena is fairly easy and shouldn't be difficult if you understand the basics of haggling.
- Know what you're comfortable paying and stick to it. Always remember that number.
- Be prepared to just walk away. The longer you stay negotiating, the more you show the scalper how important it is for you to buy the tickets. Play the long game.
- The less you talk, the less information you give the scalper. If he says he's got a Midweek ticket for $300, shrug and say no thanks.
- Have money in your hand/wallet when you're trying to buy tickets. When they see that the cash is right there, they'll be more inclined to just make the deal and move onto the next one.
You will most likely miss the opening ceremonies, but after that the prices for Midweek tickets will normalize and scalpers will want to just get rid of their tickets at a lesser price.
The advantage you have in this instance is that Vancouver, outside of the LoL tournament at Pacific Colosseum, doesn't have much experience with esports tournaments. So scalpers themselves won't have the same level of patience. The longer you wait to buy your tickets from them, the cheaper you can get them for. Only downside is that you'll be missing games.
The other thing you can do is literally just walk around the outside of the Arena and spot non-scalpers with extra tickets. There are always people who buy extra tickets and are just wanting to get their money back (friends flake on them, they couldn't flip them like they thought). DO NOT
panic and end up buying an overpriced ticket from StubHub, Craigslist or wherever. Tickets will be available, you just have to keep your cool.
- I'm picking up my tickets at the venue. Where do I go?
The box office at Rogers Arena is located at the bottom of the venue on Expo/Pat Quinn Way at the Toyota Ticket Center. You can pick up your tickets between these times:
Mon, August 20th: 7AM - 9PM
Tue, August 21th: 8AM - 9PM
Wed, August 22nd: 8AM - 9PM
Thu, August 23rd: 8AM - 9PM
Fri, August 24th: 8AM - 9PM
Not sure about the box office times for the Finals. Will update that when I know.
FIRST TIME ATTENDING TI
- I'm coming to TI alone. What can I expect?
So first off, understand that EVERYONE there is going for the same reason you are, DOTA. Don't be afraid to go up to people, say hello and start conversations. If they shrug you off, fuck them, they don't deserve your brilliance. Enjoy yourself. Worst case, just create a thread on DOTA
saying that you want to go shotgun a few beers. My first TI was pretty much by myself, but the combination of a beer + a garden really did wonders.
Simply put, don't worry as much as your mind is telling you to worry. All the talent (casters/players) are incredibly friendly and are pretty much the same as us, just super stoked to be there. But do give them space if they're working or running around to the next thing.
- What else do I need my Ticket/Badge for?
During TI, after every First Blood in a match, there are potential drops given to in arena attendee's who have registered their badge with their Steam ID. There will be a Steam Link kiosk/section OUTSIDE of Rogers Arena, so look out for it. You must have tapped into the Arena in order to be eligible for those drops.
The link to register your badge to be eligible for these drops will be on the back of your badge when you receive it.
- What sort of stuff should I be bringing with me on an average day?
Try to pack as lightly and efficiently as possible. My two main staples during the last two TI's were a water bottle (usually given out in a goody bag for midweek + finals ticket holders) and a portable battery pack for my phone. Also know that you might buy things from the Secret Shop, do some shopping downtown and the last thing you want to do is carry that stuff around with you all day. Though consider bringing a sweater for inside the Arena, as Rogers is a fairly cold one. HOT TIP
Try checking with bell boys/concierge at any hotels if they can possibly check in some of your bags for you. I tried this at TI7 and was surprised how chill they were. I left them a $5 tip for taking my bags and was free for the rest of the day.
- When should I go to the Secret Shop?
Avoid the Secret Shop on the first day or else you'll just spend the entire day waiting in line. Midweek the shop lines will be much more reasonable.
Well formatted thread to get you started. Also a well-detailed Google Map of venues/places that should interest people attending TI for places all across Vancouver
- What else should I do in Vancouver beyond watching DOTA?
- I have an emergency and I need help. Who do I call?
Depending on your situation, here are numbers for emergencies in British Columbia.
Ambulance, fire, police: 911
Poison Control: Lower Mainland: 604-682-5050 Toll-free: 1-800-567-8911
Healthlink BC: 811 Deaf or Hearing Impaired: 711
Crisis Intervention & Suicide Prevention: Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) if you are considering suicide or are concerned about someone who may be.
Mental health support: Call 310-6789 (no need to dial area code) for emotional support, information and resources specific to mental health.
- Who's the guy with the statue outside the Arena?
That is Roger Neilson, former Vancouver Canucks head coach and the inventor of towel power. Please treat it nicely!
- Where does Arteezy live? Where did he go to school? Where does he hang out?
- What's your 2018 Album of the Year?
How sweet of you to ask! That would be Lush by Snail Mail
Please, if you feel like you need to ask any questions, or there should be things added to this FAQ, post here or DM me. There are obviously some things that no one knows right now in regards to potential additions or subtractions from moving the event from Key Arena to Rogers. But I'll try my best to keep this thing updated if people bookmark it for future use.
Enjoy planning your trip to TI!
Privacy when using a debit/credit card. It's something very few think about but has, and will continue to have, far reaching concerns that are virtually impossible to correct.
When you use your card, a couple things happen. The business where you made your purchase opens a profile tied directly to you and stores that indefinitely. Along with the business, your bank also gathers a significant portion of information to store indefinitely. Here's a few things that the business and bank know when you make a purchase. Business
- Debit/Credit card information
- The bank your card(s) are with
- Itemized list of your purchases
- Location of store
If you have a store rewards account, which many people do, you can add these to the list
- Physical address
- Email address
- Phone number
- Store you shopped at
- Debit/Credit card you used
- Amount of the transaction
Over time, your profile at these companies build. Full itemized purchase history, exact date and time of every purchase you've ever made down to the second, and every card you've used to buy everything. Your bank doesn't have quite as many details, but they know almost as much. Once you realize all of the information that you give off by inserting or swiping or tapping a piece of plastic, it starts to become slightly concerning.
The thoughts of identity theft typically spring the the forefront and for good reason. 284 data breaches across a dozen different industries, releasing billions (with a B) of personal records and credentials
is astoundingly tragic. Almost 17 million people experienced identity theft in 2017
. You can walk into any local Starbucks, look around, and know that at least one person in the building has personally experienced identity theft. It's shockingly common.
Even though someone can open credit cards in your name or impersonate you when opening a new account, many of these things are fixable given enough blood, sweat, and tears. The real dangers are things that are unfixable once they start. Think about these scenarios for a moment.
- What if United Healthcare purchases data from Walmart and sees you purchase a 24 pack of Coca Cola once a week and have for the last six months. They might deem that to be "too unhealthy" and raise your premiums because you're a higher risk for diabetes. Maybe your dental insurance sees that too and raises premiums because you're more likely to need work done on your teeth.
- What if you apply for a customer facing job at your local retail shop but they see you have weekly transactions at a therapist for the last 5 weeks. Because of that, they think you'll be too unstable or unpredictable and would rather not have you potentially causing problems with customers or management.
- What if you're shopping from a hotel but they have information that says you've made purchases at Apple, Nordstroms, and the new a high end Mongolian restaurant in town. They decide to add $30 to your nightly rate because data shows people who shop at these places are wealthier on average and won't question the slight upcharge for simply having money.
With offline purchases being tied to your online identities, companies can make hundreds or thousands of data point connections and draw statistical conclusions based on what tens or hundreds of millions of people are doing. Google has access to, at least, 70% of credit card purchases and are linking them to you as you read this.
Some might argue that none of these things are happening now and it's all unbridled paranoia and fear mongering. Unfortunately, this isn't remotely new and is increasingly becoming more common across the world. In 2000, Amazon was called out for charging different customers different prices for DVDs.
They stated it was "random" but no one truly knows what criteria they were focusing on. It's fairly uncommon for a retailer to test price changes without a purpose to see what type of people buy what items. In 2012, WSJ did an investigation on Staples
and found that they [Staples] displayed different prices based on your location.
A Wall Street Journal investigation found that the Staples Inc. website displays different prices to people after estimating their locations. More than that, Staples appeared to consider the person's distance from a rival brick-and-mortar store, either OfficeMax Inc. or Office Depot Inc. ODP 2.56% If rival stores were within 20 miles or so, Staples.com usually showed a discounted price. Also in 2012, WSJ also found that Orbitz charged Mac users up to 30% more for their hotels.
Orbitz Worldwide Inc. has found that people who use Apple Inc.'s Mac computers spend as much as 30% more a night on hotels, so the online travel agency is starting to show them different, and sometimes costlier, travel options than Windows visitors see. In 2014, WashingtonPost did an investigation of their own across multiple ecommerce sites.
Here's some of the interesting tidbits they found.
For example, Travelocity reduced the prices on 5 percent of hotel rooms shown in search results by around $15 per night for smartphone users. Interestingly, Cheaptickets and Orbitz gave unadvertised “Members Only” discounts of about $12 per night on 5 percent of hotels rooms to users who were logged-in to their accounts on the site.
Expedia and Hotels.com conduct what marketers and engineers call A/B tests to steer a subset of their users toward more expensive hotels. [...] In this case, visitors to Expedia and Hotels.com were randomly assigned to groups A, B or C based on the cookies stored on their computers. Users in groups A and B were shown hotels with an average price of $187 a night, while users in group C were shown hotels with an average price of $170/night.
Home Depot served almost completely different products to users on desktops versus mobile devices. A desktop user searching Home Depot typically received 24 search results, with an average price per item of $120. In contrast, mobile users receive 48 search results, with an average price per item of $230. Bizarrely, products are also $0.41 more expensive on average for Android users.
How to combat this
In store, it's fairly simple. Good old fashioned cold hard cash reigns supreme. There's no way to tie your purchase directly to your (assuming you don't give them a rewards account). Their system will still log the transaction, but it won't have your name sitting right beside it, which is the entire point.
For those that don't want to carry "tons of cash" with them, a non reloadable* vanilla prepaid Visa card is great alternative. For a small fee (usually $5 - $7), you can go to the gas station, buy a card, and preload a few hundred bucks on to a card to use in whatever store you please. Transactions can be tracked by the card number but it's still fairly limited compared to a bank card due to no name attached which, again, is the entire point. However, if you just toss your prepaid card in the trash, someone can pick it up and that cards transactions with the information on the back of the card.
*You need a non reloadable card because reloadable ones typically ask for SSN.
Online purchases are just as easy but they require a couple other steps. You can use a service such as Privacy.com
to generate prepaid cards on the fly to use for online purchases. You link your bank or card to them and simply go to the website to generate a card when you make an online purchase. These are great because (for Privacy.com) you can use any name and email address you want. For Blur, you use their specific address. It feels good when you can use Bobbert McBobsen at 123 Main St in Beverly Hills when buying your new rice cooker online.
*These services are generally US only. Unfortunately, there isn't really a similar service in other parts of the world.
Like in store, you can purchase a non reloadable vanilla Visa card at your local shop, load it up, and use it online to similar effect.
A third option, for the retailers that accept it, is cryptocurrency. Most of them are not truly
private but offer substantially more privacy compared to your Chase credit card. Bitcoin is the most commonly accepted but others are starting to show up as well. For most people, prepaid cards are simpler and work in just about every case, unlike crypto.
It's well worth the time and effort to build new habits around using cash or prepaid cards. Not only for today but for your future. Never forget that once your information is out there, there's no taking it back. With that said, don't stress or worry about the past. The overwhelming majority has used debit/credit cards or signed up for rewards accounts but starting today, you no longer have to feed the machine. As your data ages with nothing new coming it, it becomes less valuable, less accurate, and less trustworthy to companies.
The saying "the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the next best time is right now" applies just as well to privacy. For those interested in keeping up with my privacy posts, I keep them all over at /gimtayida
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