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Adidas Stan Smith PC Wool Sneakers

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When you see a pair of Stan Smiths, they are typically clad in leather from heel to toe. But with the chill of winter invading, even one of the most...

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lukeburrage
101 days ago
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This post in my iPad app shows how bad the "every image resized to 100% edge to edge width" messes up page layout. I can't wait until this is changed to a sensible setting again!
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gradualepiphany
102 days ago
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Nice, but they still have the crappy new rubber sole :( the old stans with foam soles were the most comfy sneaker I've ever had.
Los Angeles, California, USA

Berlin Is Banning Most Vacation Apartment Rentals

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Looking to rent an apartment on your next vacation to Berlin? Starting Sunday, you can basically forget about it. From May 1, Germany’s capital is banning landlords from renting out apartments to short-term visitors, with only a few exceptions permitted.

The penalty for breaking the law is a substantial €100,000 ($113,000) fine — levied on people renting their homes, never on the guests themselves. There will still be some loopholes that allow a few vacation apartments to persist, but it seems that, in Berlin at least, the astronomical rise of Airbnb and other short-stay rental sites is effectively over.

The transit guide helps tenants work out if their landlords are charging them too much.


The general lack of apartments in Berlin provoked the law change. Thanks in part to German rent laws that are stricter than most other European countries, short-term rentals are often more profitable for landlords than finding longer-term tenants. In a growing city, that has made good, affordable apartments harder to come by; vacation apartments have taken over large chunks of the most desirable streets, and permanent residents have been frozen out of the market. Estimates vary about the number of permanent vacation apartments in the city, with one recent article pegging it at 14,393 units, out of a total of 1.9 million dwellings in the city.

This has provided a windfall for some landlords (and tenants who sub-let on the sly), but it’s less welcome for the many people searching for their own apartments. Locals’ tolerance of loud, late-partying tourists in their midst has also been wearing thin. Many landlords aren’t pleased with the law change, especially people who rent out apartments short-term in areas that don’t have a problem with party tourism. The Berlin Senate’s ruling nonetheless reflects a general feeling across a city in which homes are getting harder to find: Berliners have had enough and they want their city back.

The new laws still don’t mean all Berlin homestays will disappear overnight. People will still be able to rent out rooms in their homes, as long as the rooms don’t cover more than 50 percent of the property’s floor space. Landlords will also be able to apply for official permits to rent out entire apartments short-term from the local borough. Their applications must include a convincing explanation of why they need to rent the apartment short-term, which will be scrutinized and quite possibly rejected by the borough. For those that are approved, the apartment can be rented for no more than the average rent per square meter for the local area.

The changes might seem drastic, even overbearing, but it’s important to remember that the great majority of Berliners don’t own their homes. Homes in the city are thus often seen as public resources first and investment assets second. The new law also hasn’t arrived out of nowhere. It was actually passed in 2014, and Berlin landlords have had a two-year grace period to comply, either by finding permanent tenants or selling their apartments.

In the past few months’ run-up to the law change, the effects have been noticeable, with the pool of available vacation rentals drying up quickly. In February, Airbnb listed 11,000 entire apartments for short-term rental in the city. By March the number dropped to 6,700. The number of apartments offered by commercial operators fell further over the same period, from 2,000 to 1,000.

But does a decrease in the number of vacation apartments automatically equal a rise in the availability of more permanent housing? The city estimates that 1,000 fresh apartments for long-term rent should appear on the market in the next few months, with the new laws expected to release 10,000 apartments for local rent over the longer term. That’s a large number (if those extra apartments do indeed turn up) but in a city of over 3.5 million inhabitants, not necessarily a game changer. Likewise, implementation of the new law may prove to be a headache. It seems likely that some unofficial word-of-mouth holiday rentals may continue even with the threat of fines.

The vacation rental ban isn’t, however, the only weapon in Berlin’s arsenal when it comes to increasing the number of permanent homes. It comes at a time when Berlin is building large amounts of new apartments, with up to 50,000 to be built in the next 10 to 15 years. There are also possible signs that the city’s recent rapid population spike may be about to plateau. This all takes place against a backdrop of ever-tightening rental laws designed to halt untrammelled property speculation and rent rises, although these measures’ effect has been ambiguous. Taken altogether, Berlin seems to be doing everything it can to make housing more plentiful, and thus more affordable in the city. It will be worth watching to see what the long-term effect of all these moves turns out to be.


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lukeburrage
327 days ago
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This is a pity for me because I travel a lot and now my apartment will be empty at home for many weeks a year. However, I know a lot of people who were living financially off subletting their apartment full time while living elsewhere, and that always struck me as part of the problem.
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Michael Tsai on TextExpander 6 and Subscription Pricing

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Michael Tsai:

You can debate whether the app is worth it, but the bottom line is that the price increase [price increase] is huge in percentage terms. TextExpander 4 was $35 in 2012, and there was a $20 update for TextExpander 5 in May of 2015, about three years later. Now, after less than a year, the price for a yearly subscription is $47.52. (There is a one-time, one-year 50% discount for previous customers.) So the price for three years has gone from $20 to $142.56. I have paid for a lot of apps recently, and the only ones that are in that price range are Microsoft Office, Adobe Lightroom, and TurboTax. TextExpander is a great app, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s in that league. [league].

With Microsoft and Adobe, it takes multiple years of subscription payments to equal the previous single payment. So it was more a change in payment model than an increase in price. And the subscription offered the benefit of never having to suddenly make a large payment.

I’ve been loath loathe to pile on here, because I try to be outspoken in favor of sustainable app pricing, especially for utility apps. But TextExpander was already well-priced. Tsai has (as usual) an incredible collection of links to commentary on this story, and there’s near-unanimous agreement that Smile is charging too much for an upgrade that to many users only takes away useful features (Dropbox and iCloud syncing).

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lukeburrage
351 days ago
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I got TextExpander 3 years ago as part of a bundle. It was amazing! So amazing I tried out TextExpander 4 as a trial, and never upgraded. Unfortunately every time I recommended it to someone, the high price put them off.
wreichard
351 days ago
When I went to look at IFTTT alternatives, they wanted $20/month in some cases to do less than IFTTT was doing for free. There has to be some middle ground.
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emilcar
351 days ago
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Otro comentario más (y buen fundado) sobre la actualización del modelo de negocio de TextExpander
Murcia (España)

Why Andy Murray’s Feminism Matters

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Murray Queen's ClubFor all the positive attention ATP World No. 2 Andy Murray has received recently for his vocal support of the WTA, equal pay, and fighting sexism, there’s also been some backlash from those who feel he’s getting too much fawning praise for inconsequential actions.

After an unfortunate press conference the other day, some in the tennis community have even been looking to excuse Djokovic’s lapse in judgement by revisiting some comments Murray made in 2013, stating that if both women and men played the same number of sets at slams, it might satisfy those on the ATP who cite the best-of-3 vs. best-of-5 issue as reasoning not to support equal pay.

The comments were actually rather benign. Murray suggested he would personally like it if the tours played the same number of sets. It’s unclear whether he meant that he wanted that because he agreed with the Bo5 vs. Bo3 argument on equal pay, or whether he was saying that many of his peers believed it, so it would be easiest to just play the same number of sets to resolve the dispute. This didn’t seem very controversial to me, but perhaps I’m being generous in my interpretation of his 2013 comments since Murray has been praising equal pay as far back to at least 2007.

Setting that aside and acknowledging that he’s been a vocal proponent of equality at least since 2013, does Murray’s feminism matter? Are we just giving him an absurd amount of praise for efforts that don’t deserve it?

On the one hand, Murray hasn’t said anything too radical. He’s certainly not a feminist icon. In the real world, it’s not all that revolutionary for a man to say that he supports equal pay.

But as we’ve learned over the years, there is always a new sexist comment being made in pro tennis everywhere we turn. Tennis is now a cesspool of sexism that ranges from little demeaning remarks about the WTA from men in power to bigger horrifying incidents like the Raymond Moore comments.

It’s exhausting to fight this brand of awfulness, and it’s not fun. We all know there are more people on the ATP circuit like Sergiy Stakhovsky than we care to admit, and many of us have swept that under the rug because it’s easier to ignore it than to risk the sad realization that many of our favorite players are not worthy of our affection.

Indeed, whenever a new sexist tennis scandal pops up, the silence from ATP players is deafening. There are a few snide tweets of support for the sexist actions or nothing at all.

But then we have Andy Murray, who has made strong, unequivocal statements in the press. He’s vocally defended his decision to hire a female coach, publicly called out people like Stakhovsky, and has done all of it without asking for a pat on the back. This is who Andy Murray is, and I would hazard a guess that he himself doesn’t understand why his beliefs are regarded as unusual or worthy of over-the-top praise. He’s simply on the right side of the issue and knows it.

Ultimately, the WTA will have to continue to fight for equality. Women’s voices should be heard the loudest in this conversation. But in order to truly change the system, men in power must also use their bigger platform to be active participants on the issue.

By having a male ally in Murray who is not afraid to show his support over and over again, we now have someone on the ATP to serve as an incredible role model for players like Djokovic who aren’t quite there yet. Among ATP players, there’s simply nobody else out there making as much of an effort as he has.

Perhaps the real reason why some of us are uncomfortable praising him is because the idea that he is alone in his beliefs on the ATP Tour is too depressing to consider. I would argue that the alternative of having no Andy Murray is much worse, because it seems that there would be no other ATP player to step into that role.

Murray won’t singlehandedly defeat sexism in tennis. But perhaps some of his male colleagues will start taking note that if Murray is receiving this much positive attention from his efforts, maybe he’s onto something.

The post Why Andy Murray’s Feminism Matters appeared first on The Changeover.

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lukeburrage
365 days ago
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Okay, not all male tennis players should shut up about this.
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Who’s Better on Sexism: The ATP or a Potato?

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potato-03Various ATP players have weighed in with some hot takes on the WTA in the last few years. To figure out how to assess those players’ comments, I thought I’d compare them to a potato’s comments on the WTA to see who comes out on top.

(Thanks to PPP for the inspiration!)

Round 1

Raymond Moore:

“In my next life when I come back I want to be someone in the WTA, because they ride on the coattails of the men. They don’t make any decisions and they are lucky. They are very, very lucky. If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have.”

“I think the WTA have a handful – not just one or two – but they have a handful of very attractive prospects that can assume the mantle. You know, Muguruza, Genie Bouchard. They have a lot of very attractive players. And the standard in ladies tennis has improved unbelievably … They are physically attractive and competitively attractive. They can assume the mantle of leadership once Serena decides to stop. I think they really have quite a few very, very attractive players.”

Potato: *says nothing*

Winner: Potato

Round 2

Janko Tipsarevic: “Ninety-nine percent of male tennis players can’t stand women’s tennis. There’s no other sport with such a big disparity concerning level of play and the money women make. A friend of mine says that a woman who wins a Slam should only earn enough money to pay for her airplane ticket home … The way women think on court cannot be compared to men. Their only strategy is ‘hit the ball where your opponent isn’t.’ Nothing more! No ‘Put more spin on the ball, this is an important point, play to her backhand’. No way! … It’s that such kind of tennis works today. Look at the Williams sisters, Sharapova or Ivanovic who hits the ball like a truck on steroids. I get a bit critical when I see how much the women earn and how their opening rounds go. That’s what irritates me the most, I feel like going to WTA HQ and *something* all of them. Look at Federer who is so dominant, he has to work so hard to beat a Starace or an Almagro, he may even lose a set and then look at Sharapova or Ivanovic who lose three games in the first four rounds. It makes me sick.”

Potato: *says nothing*

Winner: Potato

Round 3

Novak Djokovic: “I think that our men’s tennis world, ATP world, should fight for more because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches. I think that’s one of the reasons why maybe we should get awarded more. Women should fight for what they think they deserve and we should fight for what we think we deserve … I have tremendous respect for what women in global sport are doing and achieving. Their bodies are much different to men’s bodies. They have to go through a lot of different things that we don’t have to go through. You know, the hormones and different stuff, we don’t need to go into details.”

Potato: *says nothing*

Winner: Potato

Round 4:

Justin Gimelstob:

[Gimelstob] launched into an extraordinary diatribe in which he labelled Anna Kournikova a “*****” whom he wanted to harm, and described several other players at Wimbledon as “sexpots”.

During the radio interview, Gimelstob, a regular guest on the show, said that that he intended to hurt Kournikova next month, when they are due to meet in an exhibition match in Washington.

“I’m going to serve it right at the body, about 128 [mph], right into her midriff,” he said. “If she’s not crying by the time she comes off court then I did not do my job.”

Asked if that meant he hated the Russian, with whom he trained as a youth player, he replied: “Hate is a very strong word. I just despise her to the maximum level just below hate.” He added that he would not like to sleep with Kournikova, “because she’s such a ******”. Instead, “I wouldn’t mind my brother, who is kind of a stud, nail her and then reap the benefits.”

Exactly what benefits he was hoping to reap were not clear, or whether he had similar hopes regarding Alize Cornet, the French player he said was a “sexpot”, and Nicole Vaidisova, the Czech teenager he described as a “well-developed young lady”.

Potato: *says nothing*

Winner: Potato

Round 5:

Gilles Simon: “I am for equal pay in life, but not in entertainment. It’s not about how hard you work. It’s about the show. I believe men’s tennis is more interesting than women’s tennis.”

Potato: *says nothing*

Winner: Potato

Round 6: 

Sergiy Stakhovsky: “On the WTA Tour, almost every other player is a lesbian. Can you imagine? Half of them. So I for sure won’t send my daughter to play tennis.”

Potato: *says nothing*

Winner: Potato

Round 7:

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: “You know, the girls, they are more unstable emotionally than us. I’m sure everybody will say it’s true – even the girls. No? You don’t think? It’s just about hormones and all this stuff. We don’t have all these bad things, so we are physically in a good shape every time, and you are not. That’s it.”

Potato: *says nothing*

Winner: Potato

Round 8:

Marinko Matosevic:

Matosevic was asked after a first-round win over Marin Cilic his opinion of Mauresmo’s appointment and whether he could ever have a female coach.

“For me, I couldn’t do it since I don’t think that highly of the women’s game,” he said on Tuesday. “It’s all equal rights these days. Got to be politically correct. So, yeah, someone’s got to give it a go. It won’t be me.”

Potato: *says nothing*

Winner: Potato

The post Who’s Better on Sexism: The ATP or a Potato? appeared first on The Changeover.

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lukeburrage
367 days ago
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Oh dear. Shut up, men!
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Computer Glitch in Ohio Brought Gas Prices to 80+ Year Low

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Fill her up!

Gas Gauge

Some lucky motorists in Toledo, Ohio were able to purchase gas for less than 20 cents per gallon over the weekend due to a computer glitch. Most of the motorists who benefited paid around 17 cents to 19 cents per gallon of gas, though in some instances, the price dropped all the way down to a penny or two.

"I got 22 cents in and I got 13 gallons so far. I can't complain," a motorist filling up at a Circle K gas station in Toledo told WTOL.

Things took a turn for the cheap in the wee hours of Sunday morning. At around 2:30 AM, gas prices fell to 49 cents per gallon at a Pilot Travel Center, and by 4:00 AM, the price of a gallon of gas dropped even further to 19 cents. The clerk working the overnight shift blamed the problem on a computer malfunction, but continued to sell gas at the reduced rate.

The computer glitch prompted Circle K across the street to respond by manually dropping the price of gas to 17 cents per gallon to compete with the frenzied activity.

"I just filled my gas tank up from dead empty to 26 cents. I told her to put ten on it and shoe only gave me five bucks and now I need to go get my change. That's too funny," one customers noted.

Unfortunately for motorists who weren't awake in the early hours of the morning, the glitch only lasted for about 3 hours. Prices since returned to normal, which for the area is about $1.51 per gallon.

The last time gas ran around 17-19 cents per gallon was 1950, the same year that Alan Turing published a paper on human and computer intelligence that would later be called the Turing Test. And you'd have to go back 80 years or more for the last time gas sold for less than 10 cents per gallon.

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lukeburrage
397 days ago
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This happened to me once. I kept the receipt of a full tank of diesel for €0.62.
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drchuck
402 days ago
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Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.
Long Island, NY
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