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Today Is the Last Day of Obamacare Enrollment—Here’s What You Need to Do Right Now

Friday, December 15 is the final day of Obamacare open enrollment. This has been a tumultuous year for Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act), to put it lightly, with multiple efforts by the GOP-led Congress to repeal or otherwise gut the seven-year-old health law. But Obamacare is still the law of the land, Americans are still required to carry health insurance in 2018, and Friday is the last chance to sign up for health coverage through Healthcare.gov.

Here’s what you need to know about the final day of Obamacare open enrollment—and about where the law may stand next year.

The vast majority of Americans can find affordable plans

The political hurricane surrounding Obamacare since the 2016 election has led to plenty of confusion among consumers. For one, there’s been a flurry of headlines about Congress’ efforts to gut the Affordable Care Act, and all the uncertainty (and the Trump administration’s open antipathy toward the law) has also caused major Obamacare insurance plan providers to pull out of certain markets and raise premiums.

But the Obamacare exchanges are heavily subsidized, and for the vast majority of Obamacare plan holders, premium spikes are made up for by corresponding increases in federal tax credits to help pay those premiums. The lower your household income, the more subsidy credits you get. (Those earning more than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level, or about $48,000 for an individual and $98,000 for a family of four, don’t qualify for the tax credits and would have to either bear the brunt of premium increases or pay the Obamacare tax penalty for not having health insurance, which is still in effect for 2018.)

In a strange twist, many consumers shopping for health insurance during the current Obamacare enrollment period can actually get even cheaper coverage thanks to President Trump’s decision to cut off certain subsidies paid to insurance companies. (For an explanation of why, read this open enrollment guide.) Experts urge consumers to shop around and select the plan that’s best for them. For instance, mid-level “Silver” plans come with extra subsidies that reduce poorer consumers’ out-of-pocket medical costs,—so that may ultimately be a better option for a low-income family that knows it has more medical needs than buying a “Bronze” plan with cheaper premiums but higher deductibles (and no extra out-of-pocket cost-reducing subsidies). But healthier Americans with few medical needs could get a lower-tier plan for free, as the nonpartisan think tank the Kaiser Family Foundation notes.

It’s also important to recognize that there’s no need to buy health insurance if you’re already covered by your employer, Medicare, Medicaid, or some other government program. Plans sold under Obamacare are individual health insurance plans, which is just a tiny slice of the overall insurance market. For those who do need an individual plan, you can access the federal market as well as the enrollment websites for state-run Obamacare markets through Healthcare.gov.

Click here to subscribe to Brainstorm Health Daily, our brand new newsletter about health innovations.

The Obamacare tax penalty is still in place

You may have (correctly) heard that the GOP tax plan making its way through Congress would repeal the ACA’s individual insurance mandate, which states that nearly all Americans (other than those who qualify for an exemption) must either carry health insurance or pay a tax penalty. But the Obamacare tax penalty is still currently in place—and you could face a financial hit that’s actually more expensive than simply buying a plan if you lack coverage in 2018.

Just how steep is the fine? For tax year 2017, it’s either 2.5% of your total household income, or $695 per uninsured adult and $347.50 per uninsured child (up to a maximum of $2,085)—whichever figure is higher.

The Trump administration hasn’t really advertised Obamacare

President Trump has taken multiple steps to roll back Obamacare, including by issuing executive orders that undermine its regulations and cutting off payments to health insurers. The administration has also taken a very lackadaisical approach to publicly promoting the open enrollment period, even slashing outreach funding by 90%.

Healthcare.gov’s Twitter account, for its part, has been sending out a stream of reminders throughout the open enrollment period.

The same cannot be said for the Trump administration’s top health officials—a substantial departure from the Obama administration’s prominent public information campaigns and unusual considering the federal government is still tasked with enforcing the law. For instance, Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Seema Verma, who oversees Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare, has only retweeted signup reminders from the Healthcare.gov social media account in the last several days and hasn’t sent any of her own. Acting Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Eric Hargan hasn’t said anything about open enrollment at all on his Twitter account during the signup period, which began on November 1.

Obamacare signups are expected to fall

This year’s Obamacare open enrollment push got off to an impressive start, with the pace of signups easily lapping last year’s. The final week is seeing a similar surge—but, unlike previous years, 2017 open enrollment is just six weeks rather than three months. And that means the overall number of enrollees is expected to dip compared with last year.

Another 4 million Americans would have sign up for 2018 health insurance plans in the final days in order to meet last year’s federal marketplace total of 9.2 million.

Millions could lose health insurance under the GOP tax plan

The massive GOP tax plan being discussed in Congress would repeal Obamacare’s insurance mandate. That would lead to 13 million fewer Americans with health insurance in 2027 compared to current law, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The mandate repeal, if passed, could also cause already-jittery insurance companies to either exit more Obamacare markets or defensively raise premiums as healthier people who feel like they don’t need coverage fall out of the risk pool. Still, it wouldn’t exactly kill the Affordable Care Act altogether.

The most important piece of advice health experts have for consumers shopping during this open enrollment period: Shop around and choose a plan that best meets your needs.

9 paid iPhone apps that are free downloads today

The #1 Unit Conversion App. the most perfect, the most number of units.

Look at other peoples how to say:
“The best conversion app I’ve seen”
“Best looking converter. Good Ui. Currency is a plus”
“This app is small, but it very best and simply to use. Thanks for your awesome app.”
“Simple to use and customizable. What more can you want. :)”
“Great program that once mastered is pretty straightforward”

· 63 Categories, 1522 Units
· Add custom units to meet all your requirements
· Customize need to show the categories and contain units, and display order
· Support 158 country’s currency
· Currency conversion rates updated in real time
· Extremely Easy-to-Use
· Backspace key
· The simplest way to create and use favorite lists

63 Categories, 1522 Units:
Acceleration, Acceleration Linear, Angle, Area, Calorific, Capacitance, Centistoke, Charge, Circumference, Concentration Molar, Conductance, Cubic Attometer, Cubic Decimeter, Currency, Data Storage,Date, Decigram, Dekagram, Density, Digital Image, Electric Current, Electric Conductance, Electric Field, Electric Potential, Energy, Entropy, Flow, Flow Mass, Flow Molar, Force, Frequency, Fuel Consumption, Heat Capacity, Heat Transfer, Illumination, Inductance, Inertia, Length, Light, Luminance, Magnetic Flux, Magnetomotive Force, Moment of Force, Moment of Inertia, Power, Pressure, Radiation, Radiation Absorbed, Radiation Exposure, Radioactivity, Resistivity, Sound, Specific Heat, Specific Volumn, Speed, Surface Tension, Temperature, Time, Torque, Viscosity(Oil Water), Volume, Weight, Weight Mass

Save Your Time. Quickly Easily!

Gene Weingarten: The word at the root of today’s Internet-speak? kthxbai.

To: Administrators, the National Medal of Science

Re: My submission for your consideration

It is rare that this prestigious prize is awarded in the field of sociology. As a forensic sociologist, I am hoping you will review my findings below and act appropriately.

I believe I have identified a new language — more specifically, a dialect within an existing language, featuring a distinctive syntax. The core language is American English. The dialect exists mostly on Twitter and in text messaging. It is hurried and impromptu, in the modern fashion, but also highly disciplined and rule-obedient. Overwhelmingly, the practitioners of it are millennials, women and smartasses. Astonishingly, when interviewed, most seemed not to know that they have developed this patois or that they are part of a larger movement.

I shall call the language “IROL,” which is not an acronym but an appropriately truncated description of the physical act that is suggested by each communication. (If in your judgment it should henceforth be called “The Weingarten IROL,” I would humbly not object.)

Here is a classic example of the form, as created on Twitter at 11:37 p.m. on Sept. 19 by Sarah Beattie, a comedy writer: “wait if we destroy north korea and there’s a pregnant lady there isn’t that abortion we can’t have that”

Note the following characteristics, which are present in virtually all IROL communications: (1) the appearance of haste but the reality of a carefully delivered message; (2) satire and/or exasperation delivered in a saucy, dismissive manner; (3) a complete lack of punctuation, always featuring at least one run-on sentence, as though the thought was too overwhelming to control, like a sneeze. Periods are verboten. Capitals are permitted for emphasis, but seldom if ever to indicate the start of a sentence. Technically, there are no sentences.

I trace this language to a single source: “kthanksbye” (or its inexplicable phonetic derivative, “kthxbai”), which originated in the 1990s as a way to peremptorily end an online discussion and not allow a response. The form has obviously gotten far more complex.

Consider the following examples:

From young-adult novelist Lynn Weingarten (no relation), on Twitter at 2:21 p.m. on Nov. 15: “The man sitting across from me at my office space is trying to eat yogurt and granola with two coffee stirrers as a spoon and it is really horrible I’m sorry I don’t mean to sound mean but THERE ARE SO MANY SPOONS HERE can I get him one and say PLEASE JUST USE THIS?”

From my colleague Alexandra Petri, a Washington Post humor columnist: “I can tell I’m exhausted because I just told a friend ‘he is very nice’ but what I was talking about was her keyboard also it just took me three tries to spell keyboars”

Asked to explain this phenomenon, Petri texted me back: “it is part of that carefree whimsy we millennials work so hard to project. it might be sprezzatura, which someone on Twitter once accused me of. it means studied carelessness hmm I was going to say it is more free-flowing and unpretentious but the second you use the word ‘unpretentious’ to describe your own behavior it becomes a lie.”

Sarah Beattie emailed: “Well, I just think of it like my mind is vomiting. If it changes the meaning I’ll put punctuation for example I wouldn’t write I love having sex with my friends and dogs. I’d throw a comma in there.”

Noted haha LOL kthxbai

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Email us at wpmagazine@washpost.com.

It Was Twenty(-odd) Years Ago Today When The Internet Looked Much Different Than It Does Now

Last week, Mike and I were at a conference celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Reno v. ACLU, a seminal case that declared that the First Amendment applied online. What makes the case so worth a conference celebrating it is not just what it meant as a legal matter – it’s a significant step forward in First Amendment jurisprudence – but also what it meant as a practical matter. This decision was hugely important in allowing the internet to develop into what it is today, and that evolution may not be something we adequately appreciate. It’s easy to forget and pretend the internet we know today was always a ubiquitous presence, but that wasn’t always so, and it wasn’t so back then. Indeed, it’s quite striking just how much has changed in just two decades.

So this seemed like a good occasion to look back at how things were then. The attached paper is a re-publication of the honors thesis I wrote in 1996 as a senior at the University of California at Berkeley. As the title indicates, it was designed to study internet adoption among my fellow students, who had not yet all started using it. Even those who had were largely dependent on the University to provide them their access, and that access had only recently started to be offered on any significant a campus-wide basis. And not all of the people who had started using the internet found it to be something their lives necessarily needed. (For instance, when asked if they would continue to use the internet after the University no longer provided their access, a notable number of people said no.) This study tried to look at what influences or reasons the decision to use, or not use, the internet pivoted upon.

I do of course have some pause, now a few decades further into my career, calling attention to work I did as a stressed-out undergraduate. However, I still decided to dig it up and publish it, because there aren’t many snapshots documenting internet usage from that time. And that’s a problem, because it’s important to understand how the internet transitioned from being an esoteric technology used only by some into a much more pervasive one seemingly used by nearly everyone, and why that change happened, especially if we want to understand how it will continue to change, and how we might want to shape that change. All too often it seems tech policy is made with too little serious consideration of the sociology behind how people use the internet – the human decisions internet usage represents – and it really needs to be part of the conversation more. Hopefully studies like this one can help with that.

Why We Need to ‘Break the Internet’ Today

We have only two days until the FCC votes to kill net neutrality. That’s why sites from reddit to Etsy to Mozilla have joined today’s plan to ‘Break the Internet’ with an overwhelming number of messages to Congress demanding that it stop the FCC’s plan.

Take Action Now gives you three meaningful actions you can take each week, whatever your schedule. You can sign up here to get actions like these in your inbox every Tuesday.

NO TIME TO SPARE?

This week, we’re asking you to make two urgent phone calls. First, call Congress to demand it defend net neutrality. Then, call your member of the House of Representatives at 844-311-7810 and implore them to reject the latest version of the Republican’s tax plan, which gives huge tax breaks to the rich and sets the stage for cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and public education.

GOT SOME TIME?

Help net neutrality activists ‘Break the Internet.’ Sign up to tweet every 10 minutes, add a banner to any websites to which you may have access, post on Facebook and other social media sites, and email as many of your friends as you can.

READY TO DIG IN?

Last week, Congress voted for a two-week extension on the must-pass budget bill and activists are demanding that Democrats reject it if the DREAM Act has not yet passed—a distinct possibility. With 86 percent of the American people believing that DACA recipients should be able to stay in the country, this should be an easy choice. Make plans to get to DC for Operation DREAM Act Now between December 18-22 to demand that Congress take action. And if you can’t make it, be sure to call every day to demand your representatives fight for this needed law.

Have you been using Take Action Now to get involved? If so, we want to share your story! Click here to tell us how you’ve joined the resistance or fought for progressive causes. We’ll share some of the best stories in future editions of Take Action Now and on The Nation’s website.

4K TV: How much Internet bandwidth do you need? – USA Today

CLOSE

Looking for a new TV? These are the very best we tested this year.
Reviewed.com / Jeremy Stamas, Jackson Ruckar, Mike Roorda

In four years of TV evolution, 4K resolution has gone from a questionable upgrade to a near-standard feature. Buy a set bigger than 50 inches, and it’s now overwhelmingly likely to feature “Ultra High Definition” resolution (3840 by 2160 pixels) instead of mere HD (1920 by 1080 pixels). 

But finding something to watch in 4K (named for those almost 4,000 pixels of horizontal resolution) is not such a sure thing, and your two best options may require upgrading your Internet connection or the rest of your home-theater rig.

Bandwidth

Online streaming remains the biggest source of 4K content, led by Netflix and Amazon’s growing selection of original series. But many consumer broadband connections aren’t fast enough to allow reliable 4K streaming. 

Amazon recommends at least 15 megabits per second, while Netflix advises 25 Mbps. But if other devices at home will be occupying your bandwidth, 15 or 25 Mbps alone won’t suffice. 

And for some customers, that’s not an option at all: The Federal Communications Commission’s most recent statistics show that as of the middle of 2016, 21% of census blocks didn’t have a single provider offering 25-Mbps or faster downloads.

If your Internet provider imposes a data cap, remember that 4K streaming’s appetite for data — Netflix estimates 7 gigabytes an hour — can push you past that limit.

That is five times the bandwidth the company recommends for high-definition streaming. Trading up to that speed may not cost much extra if you have cable: At one San Francisco address, Comcast’s 55-Mbps service only cost $15 or so more a month than its entry-level 10-Mbps offering, with the difference even less when factoring in promotional discounts.

But it will probably require changing ISPs if you have phone-based digital-subscriber-line broadband, which rarely gets past 10 Mbps. 

Internet alternatives

Since early 2016, the Blu-ray disc format has offered an offline alternative for 4K viewing. But the selection of 4K Blu-ray remains a tiny fraction of what’s available in that format’s older HD version. Best Buy’s site shows 324 4K Blu-ray titles versus 14,563 standard Blu-ray discs. 

If you have a soundbar set up as the hub of your home-theater setup — with the TV plugged into its outputs and your streaming-media or Blu-ray player plugged into its inputs — you will also need to replace that with one that includes “HDMI 2.0” ports compatible with 4K.

Cable or satellite TV, meanwhile, probably won’t help you watch any 4K content. DirecTV does offer 4K channels, but its schedule shows only 13 live events for the rest of December. At Comcast, your only 4K options for now are two streaming apps, Netflix and its own Ultra HD Sampler, that you can run on an upgraded version of its X1 box.

“Technology is leading content,” summed up analyst Roger Entner, founder of Recon Analytics. “They’re still waiting for content.”

Broadcast TV is limited to HD today, but the Federal Communications Commission voted in November to let broadcasters start airing signals in the 4K-compatible “ATSC 3.0” format. But since no U.S.-market sets ship with tuners for that standard — also called “Next-Gen TV” — you shouldn’t expect local stations to rush to broadcast in it.

You can always watch your existing channels, streaming apps and discs on a 4K set. But if much of that content is not in HD but standard definition, a 4K set’s attempt to scale up that resolution to match its own may make it look worse than it does on a regular high-def TV.

Rob Pegoraro is a tech writer based out of Washington, D.C. To submit a tech question, e-mail Rob at rob@robpegoraro.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/robpegoraro.
 

DMV offices statewide open today as department, vendor strive to resolve computer issues

Local

The following is a news release from the Idaho Transportation Department.

BOISE — The Idaho Transportation Department will open all Division of Motor Vehicles driver’s license offices throughout the state today.

During the weekend, ITD’s driver’s license vendor, Gemalto, added additional server capacity in an effort to resolve the computer issues.

“We hope this will allow us to find the root cause of the issues we have been experiencing for more than a week now,” said Idaho DMV Administrator Alberto Gonzalez.

Although this isn’t the permanent fix, this may provide relief while ITD and Gemalto identify the long- term solution. Gemalto’s senior technical staff are in Boise and will work with ITD technical and DMV business staff to do everything possible to find a resolution to the issues.

These computer issues do not reside at the counties, but rather with the ITD computer system.

“We understand the frustration of our county driver’s license partners and our customers. We appreciate their patience and collaboration as we work diligently to solve this problem,” said Gonzalez. “Please know this is not the level of service ITD strives to provide. We are equally as frustrated and are doing everything possible to get this issue resolved.”

ITD will issue additional news releases as information becomes available.

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It’s An Electronics (and Computer Accessories) Bonanza Online Today

About Walker MacMurdo

Culture writer Walker MacMurdo covers Portland’s food, film, fashion and retail.

Preserving Today’s Internet

What needs to be documented, Lynch argues, is not only the objects an algorithmic system generates, but also the actions of the system itself, in conversation with particular users. The construction of emulators, which re-create older computer systems on new machines to help us see older digital files (and play old video games), can’t solve this problem, because the algorithmic systems we’re talking about are so huge, proprietary, and ever-changing. The goal of comprehensive preservation may be impossible: Not even the people who create the systems know everything there is to know about an algorithm, because machine learning dictates some of the system’s decisions. And even if were possible, the infrastructure needed to do it would be very expensive. Lynch points to the trouble the Library of Congress has had with the Twitter archive, the preservation of which was a hopeful story in digital archiving back in 2010. Because of legal issues and limitations in computing power, researchers still can’t access it.

Here’s Why Radius Health Is Rising Today

What happened

After presenting data from a phase 1 study at a medical conference, shares of Radius Health (NASDAQ:RDUS), a commercial-stage biotech focused on osteoporosis and cancer, rose 15% as of 11:15 a.m. EST on Friday.

So what

Radius Health presented data from its phase 1 005 trial at the 2017 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. This study was designed to evaluate a compound called elacestrant (RAD1901) as a potential treatment for estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer.

This study enrolled 40 patients with advanced breast cancer that had received an average of three prior lines of therapy. Here are the key clinical takeaways from the study:

  • Elacestrant elicited an objective response rate of 27.3%.
  • Median progression-free survival was 5.4 months.
  • Clinical benefit rate at 24 weeks was 47.4%.
  • Elacestrant was generally shown to be well-tolerated. The most common side effects were nausea, dyspepsia, and vomiting.

Here’s what Dr. Gary Hattersley, Radius Health’s chief scientific officer, had to say about the trial:

“Patients cycle through and generally do not repeat treatment regimens, limiting treatment options as their disease advances. We are pleased about the potential to offer patients who have progressed or relapsed during their current standard of care with a new treatment option. Radius is committed to developing and to providing breast cancer patients with the next generation of hormonal treatment options, as a single agent and in combination, across all lines of therapy.”   

This data gave management enough confidence to green light a phase 2 study that will kick off in early 2018. Since elacestrant has already received fast track designation from the FDA, it is possible that data from the phase 2 study could be enough for Radius Health to seek regulatory approval.

Given the upbeat news, it isn’t hard to figure out why traders are cheering on Friday.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

While elacestrant is an exciting compound that bulls need to keep an eye on, there’s no doubt that this company’s future hinges on the successful commercialization of Tymlos. Tymlos is Radius Health’s recently approved treatment for osteoporosis.

On that front, things appear to be going reasonably well. Tymlos’ sales in its first full quarter on the market hit $3.5 million, which is a decent number. The company is also making good progress with coverage as 200 million Americans now have access to the drug. What’s more, now that Amgen‘s osteoporosis drug romosozumab has been delayed by at least a year, Tymlos should have a wide-open market opportunity.

Between Tymlos and elacestrant, Radius Health’s investors should have plenty of reasons to remain optimistic. That makes this an intriguing stock for risk-loving biotech investors to keep tabs on.

Today’s Top 10 Windows Laptops According to Consumer Reports

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Today’s Top 10 Windows Laptops According to Consumer Reports

Finding the best laptop in a maze of choices can be difficult, to say the least. To make matters worse, many of the computers currently on the market come with the same components and similar designs. To help consumers and even business users find the best laptops for their needs, Consumer Reports recently published it latest ratings on laptops based on performance, versatility, display quality and more. It ranks the laptops to make it easy for people to find the hardware that trumps all others across a variety of categories. Consumer Reports makes no distinction between smaller notebook-class models and larger laptops. All these models run Windows. Read on to learn more about some of today’s very best laptops, according to Consumer Reports.

Android Wear upgraded to Oreo, rolled out today

Today Android devices will be getting a slight upgrade, as Android Oreo rolls out to all Wear devices. The beta for Oreo originally only featured on the LG Watch Sport can be presumed over, as the Oreo updates for Android Wear include adjustments to vibration strength settings, touch lock and more.

 

 Android Wear upgraded to Oreo, rolled out today

 

Hoi Lam, the Wearables Developer Advocate at Google is the source for this news as he posted in the Android Wear Developers Community, giving a short run down on the features that wearable devices will be updated with. The update will feature improvements that include a notification vibration strength setting, touch lock option, notification channels, battery saving limits and support for 7 new languages.

 

 Android Wear upgraded to Oreo, rolled out today

 

It is unclear whether the update is received yet on all Android Wearable devices, but it has been confirmed that it has hit the LG Watch Sport so there is no doubt other Android Wear products will shortly follow.

 

Lam said in his Google+ post that “Timing is determined by each watch’s manufacturer.”

Android Today: Huawei Starts Rolling Out Oreo Update For Honor 9 and Honor V9, Asus ZenFone 4 To Get In December

After rolling out Android 8.0 Oreo update for the Mate 9, Mate 9 Pro and Porsche Design Mate 9, Huawei has now added two more smartphones to the list.

Today, the Honor 9 and Honor V9 are getting the Oreo treat in China. Huawei confirmed that the Honor 9 and Honor V9 users who were enrolled in the beta program will be getting the update first and it will then be coming to other users. However, it all is starting today therefore Android 8.0 Oreo will debut on every unit of Honor 9 and Honor V9 within this week in China.

7e278_IMG_0735-2-86x60 Android Today: Huawei Starts Rolling Out Oreo Update For Honor 9 and Honor V9, Asus ZenFone 4 To Get In DecemberRelated Honor 7X Hands-On: Almost Bezel-less Premium Handset At Budget Pricing

For now, the update is limited to China, but a global push is expected to kick off by the end of this month. It’s worth noting that Honor 8 Pro users will also get the update as it is the global version of the Honor V9. Besides, Huawei’s Oreo update brings the software version to EMUI 8.0 from its Nougat-based EMUI 5.1 version. With Oreo update, the Honor 9 and Honor V9 (Honor 8 Pro) will get much-talked-about Oreo features like Autofill, picture-in-picture, redesigned Settings app, notification options, and more.

Asus ZenFone 4 to get Android 8.0 Oreo update in December

Following other OEMs, Asus is also gearing up to offer Oreo treat to its smartphones. Today, the company announced that it will be rolling out Android 8.0 Oreo update to its mid-range smartphone, the ZenFone 4. Eventually, all ZenFone 3 and ZenFone 4 will be receiving the update.

Earlier this week, Asus pushed ZenUI 4.0 to the ZenFone 4 Max. The company today announced that it will be rolling Android 8.0 update to its standard ZenFone 4 (ZE554KL) model in December. We don’t know the exact release date yet, but it will arrive sometime this month. For the rest of the ZenFone series phones (there are just so many!) we can assume that the update should arrive sometime next year.

Asus has been pretty discreet about the update timeline for the smartphones in the ZenFone lineup. The company has not made it clear how it is going to go ahead with the update cycle for the rest of the phones. As for the ZenFone 4, the update will first reach the unlocked version and will then move on to the carrier units.

Oreo for Android Wear is starting to roll out today

Google is beginning to roll out its Android Oreo update for Android Wear devices today, according to a post on the platform developers’ Google+ page (via 9to5Google).

Unlike Oreo on smartphones, the Android Wear version of the update is a much more minor affair, adding features like the ability to change notification vibration strength, manually lock the touchscreen for wet conditions, and support for seven new countries / languages.


e56e9_Screen_Shot_2017_12_07_at_9.55.04_AM Oreo for Android Wear is starting to roll out today

According to the announcement, while the update is technically finished and available now, when (or even if) you’ll see it on your Android Wear watch will depend on your specific watch’s manufacturer. So, just like your smartphones, it may take a while until your device is as up to date as can be.

Google is fixing its disastrous burger and beer emoji today with Android 8.1 release

We never expected the outrage over the design of a hamburger emoji to bubble up to the point where Google’s CEO had to personally intervene, but such is 2017. And today, our long cheese-on-bun global nightmare comes to an end with the public release of Android Oreo 8.1, which fixes the unappetizing glyph.

Android 8.1 also adds a new beer emoji, which no longer sees frothing foam inexplicably remain at the top of the mug after half the beer has been downed.

Here’s what the offending emoji looked like in 8.0:


27890_burgerbeer2 Google is fixing its disastrous burger and beer emoji today with Android 8.1 release

Would you go to a joint like this? No.

Here are the much-improved new characters in 8.1:


27890_burgerbeer2 Google is fixing its disastrous burger and beer emoji today with Android 8.1 release

Google’s new burger emoji now follows Microsoft’s approach of patty-cheese-tomato-lettuce. This is far more acceptable, though personally I applaud LG for holding the tomato.

The next time you use your Pixel 2 XL to suggest meeting friends for burgers and drinks, think of what it took to get to this point. And spare a thought for the Samsung owners in your group, who’ll still have to deal with an even more ridiculous character that puts lettuce between the cheese and the patty.

Android Oreo 8.1 is rolling out today (Tuesday) depending on where you are in the world, and comes alongside the new lightweight “Go” edition that manufacturers can choose to install on low-spec phones.

Aside from emergency emoji fixes, 8.1 enables support for the Visual Core image processing chip found in the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, letting third-party developers access the camera’s impressive HDR+ feature. The update will be available for all Pixel phones as well as the Pixel C tablet, the Nexus 5X, and the Nexus 6P.

Google is fixing its disastrous burger and beer emoji today with Android 8.1 release

We never expected the outrage over the design of a hamburger emoji to bubble up to the point where Google’s CEO had to personally intervene, but such is 2017. And today, our long cheese-on-bun global nightmare comes to an end with the public release of Android Oreo 8.1, which fixes the unappetizing glyph.

Android 8.1 also adds a new beer emoji, which no longer sees frothing foam inexplicably remain at the top of the mug after half the beer has been downed.

Here’s what the offending emoji looked like in 8.0:


27890_burgerbeer2 Google is fixing its disastrous burger and beer emoji today with Android 8.1 release

Would you go to a joint like this? No.

Here are the much-improved new characters in 8.1:


27890_burgerbeer2 Google is fixing its disastrous burger and beer emoji today with Android 8.1 release

Google’s new burger emoji now follows Microsoft’s approach of patty-cheese-tomato-lettuce. This is far more acceptable, though personally I applaud LG for holding the tomato.

The next time you use your Pixel 2 XL to suggest meeting friends for burgers and drinks, think of what it took to get to this point. And spare a thought for the Samsung owners in your group, who’ll still have to deal with an even more ridiculous character that puts lettuce between the cheese and the patty.

Android Oreo 8.1 is rolling out today (Tuesday) depending on where you are in the world, and comes alongside the new lightweight “Go” edition that manufacturers can choose to install on low-spec phones.

Aside from emergency emoji fixes, 8.1 enables support for the Visual Core image processing chip found in the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, letting third-party developers access the camera’s impressive HDR+ feature. The update will be available for all Pixel phones as well as the Pixel C tablet, the Nexus 5X, and the Nexus 6P.

Why What Bill Gates Said About the Internet in 1996 Is Truer Than Ever Today


In 1996 Bill Gates wrote an article titled, “Content Is King.” Fast-forward over 20 years, and those words are truer than ever. Gates predicted that the “big money” would be made with content. The growth of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and blogging clearly illustrates the wisdom of one of the greatest business minds of our era.

Related: 3 Ways Content Brought My Company Back From Bankruptcy

Since Gates wrote his famous words, the internet has vastly grown, and the importance of content has increased immensely. At the same time, the attention span of humans has tremendously diminished. According to various studies, humans these days have a “shorter attention span than a goldfish,” and this means it’s not just enough to have content — but instead we need material that is everywhere our clients go. If your perfect client is on Facebook for 15 minutes, then 10 minutes on YouTube and later 20 minutes on Google, it’s ideal to have content on each medium, thus increasing your impact, reach and likelihood to make sales. Having more content these days is essential to business. In fact, a recent study from Demand Gen Report found that buyers now like to consume four to seven pieces of content before engaging with a sales representative.

Understanding that content is crucial to sales isn’t new; many of us already know this. The hang-up for most entrepreneurs and companies isn’t creating content, but rather what kind of material to make. On top of that, the dilemma of our current time is how to make content that helps us be everywhere possible. As one of my friends and colleagues, Scott Oldford, says, “Being omnipresent is the key to online sales.” Ideally, we’re everywhere our perfect customers are, and when they’re ready to buy, we’re there.

Related: How to Produce Content That Doubles Your Sales Funnel Conversion Rate

Start with one type of content.

Whatever your forte with content is, I suggest you start now. If you enjoy writing, start putting words to paper. If you enjoy doing video, get in front of the camera, or if it’s recording audio then begin that podcast now. Get started now, because content, like wine, matures over time and as it ages strengthens and will gain more traffic, views and impact.

Repurpose your content for increased visibility.

The next step to content production mastery is taking one type of content and repurposing it for the other mediums. If you can master this, you’ll be more likely to stand out in the minds of your potential clients. Not only that, when your fans and leads are ready to buy, you’ll be there.

If you take a moment to study the most prolific and popular content creators, you’ll see they’ve found ways to repurpose their work so it can be everywhere their fans are. Take, for example, actor, comedian and podcaster, Joe Rogan; he repurposes his YouTube videos for his widely popular podcast. When Rogan records his YouTube show, he also takes that content and posts it to iTunes as an audio-only show. Similarly, Lewis Howes has found this recipe to be a winning formula for racking up views, fans and omnipresence on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, Pandora and all the other pod feeders online. Both these content creators have found that by repurposing their work for multiple mediums, they win more fans and ultimately help themselves become kings online.

Related: 4 Ways Instant Gratification Has Changed Content Marketing

In the pursuit to meet fans wherever they are, we can take our content and pull snippets for social media purposes. One master of this method is top-ranked blogger and multiple time New York Times bestselling author Tim Ferriss. He pulls sound bites from his top-ranking podcast and puts them on every social media channel possible. Another ingenious way that Ferriss repurposes his show is by taking his interviews and transcribing them for his books like Tools Of Titans and Tribe Of Mentors. Now, if you follow these methods, you can take one piece of content and use it to be visible on YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, social media and anywhere that sells books (e.g., Amazon and Barnes  Nobles).

If you’ve been struggling with content that makes you visible everywhere, you don’t need to stress yourself out by thinking you need to produce unique content for every medium. What you can do instead is choose whatever method you like best, present it that way and then repurpose it.

In my opinion, podcasting makes it very easy. One recording can turn into a book, a transcribed blog post, a YouTube video with still image layered over it, and a snippet can be grabbed for easy posting on social media. That being said, if you prefer blogging or video, start there. You can always take your blog post, record it for video and audio, and push it out to iTunes and all the other pod feeders online. The point is, if you want to be king on the internet, you’ll need content, and in this modern era it’s important you learn how to make content that helps you stand out everywhere possible.

Related Video: 3 Great Tips to Engage Your Audience and Build Your Brand With Content Marketing

Today’s Google Doodle Celebrates A Landmark Moment In Computer Science

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Kids coding languages: Why is today’s Google Doodle so important for computer programming?

Google Doodles are often challenging, fun and help illuminate the ideas and people that have changed the world. But today’s homepage celebrates something even more fundamental than normal.

The Doodle centres on coding – helping children to learn the languages that power the site and its homepage itself. And it even lets people do some of that themselves, helping teach some coding basics.

It is just one of the various projects by Google and its competitors like Apple that is intended to allow children to code. And it’s something the companies say is necessary not only for their own work but for the future of the world.

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    Designed by Pierpaolo Lazzarini from Italian company Jet Capsule. The I.F.O. is fuelled by eight electric engines, which is able to push the flying object to an estimated top speed of about 120mph.

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    A humanoid robot gestures during a demo at a stall in the Indian Machine Tools Expo, IMTEX/Tooltech 2017 held in Bangalore

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    A humanoid robot gestures during a demo at a stall in the Indian Machine Tools Expo, IMTEX/Tooltech 2017 held in Bangalore

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    Engineers test a four-metre-tall humanoid manned robot dubbed Method-2 in a lab of the Hankook Mirae Technology in Gunpo, south of Seoul, South Korea

    Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

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    Engineers test a four-metre-tall humanoid manned robot dubbed Method-2 in a lab of the Hankook Mirae Technology in Gunpo, south of Seoul, South Korea

    Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

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    The giant human-like robot bears a striking resemblance to the military robots starring in the movie ‘Avatar’ and is claimed as a world first by its creators from a South Korean robotic company

    Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

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    Engineers test a four-metre-tall humanoid manned robot dubbed Method-2 in a lab of the Hankook Mirae Technology in Gunpo, south of Seoul, South Korea

    Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

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    Waseda University’s saxophonist robot WAS-5, developed by professor Atsuo Takanishi

    Rex

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    Waseda University’s saxophonist robot WAS-5, developed by professor Atsuo Takanishi and Kaptain Rock playing one string light saber guitar perform jam session

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    A test line of a new energy suspension railway resembling the giant panda is seen in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China

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    A test line of a new energy suspension railway, resembling a giant panda, is seen in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China

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    A concept car by Trumpchi from GAC Group is shown at the International Automobile Exhibition in Guangzhou, China

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    A Mirai fuel cell vehicle by Toyota is displayed at the International Automobile Exhibition in Guangzhou, China

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    A visitor tries a Nissan VR experience at the International Automobile Exhibition in Guangzhou, China

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    A man looks at an exhibit entitled ‘Mimus’ a giant industrial robot which has been reprogrammed to interact with humans during a photocall at the new Design Museum in South Kensington, London

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    A new Israeli Da-Vinci unmanned aerial vehicle manufactured by Elbit Systems is displayed during the 4th International conference on Home Land Security and Cyber in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv

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    Electrification Guru Dr. Wolfgang Ziebart talks about the electric Jaguar I-PACE concept SUV before it was unveiled before the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California, U.S

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    The Jaguar I-PACE Concept car is the start of a new era for Jaguar. This is a production preview of the Jaguar I-PACE, which will be revealed next year and on the road in 2018

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    Japan’s On-Art Corp’s CEO Kazuya Kanemaru poses with his company’s eight metre tall dinosaur-shaped mechanical suit robot ‘TRX03’ and other robots during a demonstration in Tokyo, Japan

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    Japan’s On-Art Corp’s eight metre tall dinosaur-shaped mechanical suit robot ‘TRX03’

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    Japan’s On-Art Corp’s eight metre tall dinosaur-shaped mechanical suit robot ‘TRX03’ performs during its unveiling in Tokyo, Japan

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    Singulato Motors co-founder and CEO Shen Haiyin poses in his company’s concept car Tigercar P0 at a workshop in Beijing, China

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    The interior of Singulato Motors’ concept car Tigercar P0 at a workshop in Beijing, China

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    Singulato Motors’ concept car Tigercar P0

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    A picture shows Singulato Motors’ concept car Tigercar P0 at a workshop in Beijing, China

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    Connected company president Shigeki Tomoyama addresses a press briefing as he elaborates on Toyota’s “connected strategy” in Tokyo.
    The Connected company is a part of seven Toyota in-house companies that was created in April 2016

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    A Toyota Motors employee demonstrates a smartphone app with the company’s pocket plug-in hybrid (PHV) service on the cockpit of the latest Prius hybrid vehicle during Toyota’s “connected strategy” press briefing in Tokyo

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    An exhibitor charges the battery cells of AnyWalker, an ultra-mobile chasis robot which is able to move in any kind of environment during Singapore International Robo Expo

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    A robot with a touch-screen information apps stroll down the pavillon at the Singapore International Robo Expo

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    An exhibitor demonstrates the AnyWalker, an ultra-mobile chasis robot which is able to move in any kind of environment during Singapore International Robo Expo

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    Robotic fishes swim in a water glass tank displayed at the Korea pavillon during Singapore International Robo Expo

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    An employee shows a Samsung Electronics’ Gear S3 Classic during Korea Electronics Show 2016 in Seoul, South Korea

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    Visitors experience Samsung Electronics’ Gear VR during the Korea Electronics Grand Fair at an exhibition hall in Seoul, South Korea

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    Amy Rimmer, Research Engineer at Jaguar Land Rover, demonstrates the car manufacturer’s Advanced Highway Assist in a Range Rover, which drives the vehicle, overtakes and can detect vehicles in the blind spot, during the first demonstrations of the UK Autodrive Project at HORIBA MIRA Proving Ground in Nuneaton, Warwickshire

    PA wire

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    Chris Burbridge, Autonomous Driving Software Engineer for Tata Motors European Technical Centre, demonstrates the car manufacturer’s GLOSA V2X functionality, which is connected to the traffic lights and shares information with the driver, during the first demonstrations of the UK Autodrive Project at HORIBA MIRA Proving Ground in Nuneaton, Warwickshire

    PA wire

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    Ford EEBL Emergency Electronic Brake Lights is demonstrated during the first demonstrations of the UK Autodrive Project at HORIBA MIRA Proving Ground in Nuneaton, Warwickshire

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    Full-scale model of ‘Kibo’ on display at the Space Dome exhibition hall of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Tsukuba Space Center, in Tsukuba, north-east of Tokyo, Japan

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    Miniatures on display at the Space Dome exhibition hall of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Tsukuba Space Center, in Tsukuba, north-east of Tokyo, Japan.
    In its facilities, JAXA develop satellites and analyse their observation data, train astronauts for utilization in the Japanese Experiment Module ‘Kibo’ of the International Space Station (ISS) and develop launch vehicles

    EPA

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    The robot developed by Seed Solutions sings and dances to the music during the Japan Robot Week 2016 at Tokyo Big Sight. At this biennial event, the participating companies exhibit their latest service robotic technologies and components

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    The robot developed by Seed Solutions sings and dances to music during the Japan Robot Week 2016 at Tokyo Big Sight

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    Government and industry are working together on a robot-like autopilot system that could eliminate the need for a second human pilot in the cockpit

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    Aurora Flight Sciences’ technicians work on an Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automantion System (ALIAS) device in the firm’s Centaur aircraft at Manassas Airport in Manassas, Va.

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    Flight Simulator

    Stefan Schwart and Udo Klingenberg preparing a self-built flight simulator to land at Hong Kong airport, from Rostock, Germany

    EPA

The game celebrates the beginning of Google’s Computer Science Education Week. That’s just one of the projects run by the technology industry, which also include the Hour of Code.

322ef_hourofcodeshanghai Kids coding languages: Why is today's Google Doodle so important for computer programming?

And it does so by guiding children through the process of learning to code, which it hopes will just be the beginning of that work. Kids play the game and gradually put together the kind of thinking and understanding that is needed to build the tech products of the future.

In doing so, it uses a very similar technique to Apple’s Swift Playgrounds app. In that, children (or adults) also make their way through a 3D world, navigating it using coding skills.

Many tech companies argue that learning to code will be profoundly important in years to come, since so much work is going to involve computers and automation. Learning it also fosters other skills, the companies argue – since it gives people transferrable tools like logical thinking.

That was the argument made by Champika Fernando, who worked on the project to build Scratch at MIT. That’s a programming language built specifically for children, containing all the fundamental principles but not scaring them with too much complicated terminology.

 

“With today’s Doodle – the first coding Doodle ever – we celebrate fifty years of coding languages for kids by “Coding for Carrots.” In the interactive Doodle, you program and help a furry friend across 6 levels in a quest to gather its favorite food by snapping together coding blocks based on the Scratch programming language for kids,” she said.

 

“Like Logo, Scratch was developed at MIT and builds on Papert’s early ideas about kids and computers. It’s designed to be less intimidating than typical programming languages, but just as powerful and expressive.

“Kids programming on computers must have sounded futuristic and impractical in the 1960’s when Logo was first created. In fact, even in the 1980’s when I wrote my first lines of code, my working-class parents questioned how coding would ever benefit their nine-year-old daughter.

“Today, computers are used in almost every aspect of our lives. We have them in our homes, at work, and in our pockets. My early experiences with computers gave me confidence that I could create with new technologies, not just interact with them. Those early experiences not only influenced my career path, but provided me with new ways to express my ideas and influence the world around me.”

It’s an idea that spreads across the tech industry. Apple boss Tim Cook, for instance, has said that learning to code and discovering programming languages could be more important than learning English as a second language.

“If I were a French student and I were 10 years old, I think it would be more important for me to learn coding than English. I’m not telling people not to learn English in some form – but I think you understand what I am saying is that this is a language that you can [use to] express yourself to seven billion people in the world,” Mr Cook said in an interview with Konbini earlier this year.

“I think that coding should be required in every public school in the world.”

But others have argued that coding is just the beginning, and pushing computer science onto all children might lead to deficiencies everywhere else. Working with computers doesn’t necessarily mean you have to understand their fundamental languages, they say.

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Save money on your cable, Internet bill by renegotiating – USA Today

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Tame your budget-busting cable bill with these money-saving tips!
USA TODAY

Expiration dates aren’t just for leftovers: Your Internet and TV bills probably include one, too, and you’re going to want to put it on your calendar.

That’s the date when whatever discounts you got for signing up with a service go away—leaving you paying a much higher rate unless you call to negotiate something better.

Your first step is finding that date so you can put it on your calendar. That can be less obvious than you’d think: Even if you can remember when you signed up for service, not all promotional discounts end 12 months later.

If you’re lucky, that will be on your bill, but it probably won’t be on the first page. For example, a Verizon Fios bill I inspected called out expiration dates for various discounts on its second page in reasonably clear language: “$55 Internet discount includes $20 discount expiring 4/9/18 and $35 discount expiring 4/19/19. TV discount expires 4/9/19.”

The potential financial upshot: a near doubling of the bill from $99.99 to $184.99.  

(Disclosure: I also write for Yahoo Finance, a subsidiary of Verizon’s media division Oath.)  

If you don’t see any reminders about expiring promotions on your bill—or if you have paperless billing, without a detailed breakdown of your costs e-mailed to you—log into your account online and check there.

When it’s time to call and bargain for a new rate, research your options first. See what other companies will charge for Internet and TV, even if provided separately. While you may not have a good choice of broadband providers, many cable TV subscribers can credibly threaten to switch to satellite TV.

More: Five steps to cutting your expensive cable TV bill

More: After net neutrality: How to tell if your ISP is slowing your Internet

More: Why you can go over your Internet provider’s data cap

Don’t forget merger-induced complications. If you had signed up for cable or Internet from Time Warner Cable before Charter purchased that firm two years ago, you’ll eventually have to choose between paying the non-promotional rate on your old plan or switching to a newer bundle from the combined company, which now goes by Spectrum.

When you call to ask for a better deal, be clear but don’t be a jerk. Note whatever options you have as well as how long you’ve been a customer, then say you’ll switch if you get stuck with a non-promotional rate. You may then get switched to a customer-retention rep, whose job consists of getting you to stick around.

Much of the time—as I’ve seen in reports from readers and friends as well in posts in such forums as Reddit’s r/Frugal—asking will yield sizable rate differences. To put it another way, if you don’t put in a few minutes to ask, you will inevitably subsidize the people who do take the time to bargain.

Whatever the outcome of this chat, don’t forget other ways to trim your bill. Buy your cable modem if you’ve been paying rent on it. Actually, you should do that now unless there’s a high probability you’ll move in the next year.

You should certainly take a hard look at the channels on your current bundle and decide if you need them all, especially regional sports networks that often aren’t carry a separate surcharge.

Finally, if you’re not ready to cut the cord entirely, consider ditching cable service on a second or third TV in favor of online streaming or over-the-air broadcasts. That can easily save $10 to $20 in hardware fees per set, although your odds of being able to replace a cable box with a free app from your TV provider are getting better.

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Rob Pegoraro is a tech writer based out of Washington, D.C. To submit a tech question, e-mail Rob at rob@robpegoraro.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/robpegoraro.

 




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