Brian Banmiller's blog

Pets for Vets

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How do you thank the people who fight to protect your freedom? How about a new best friend to welcome them home.

In 1991 Tony La Russa and his wife founded the Animal Rescue Foundation after a stray cat wandered onto the field while La Russa was manager of the Oakland A's. Then five years ago Tony and Elaine started the vets for pets program.

“We started out, our mission was a single mission, people rescuing animals about year three we decided that a lot of the people just didn't understand the magic of a companion animal so we made a compliment which is animals rescuing people.”  read more »

Pinterest Lens

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Wish you could cook up your favorite restaurant dish? Just take a picture of it.

Earlier this week the San Francisco based app Pinterest launched a new update aimed at all the wannabe chefs out there. Noticing that a lot more people are snapping pictures of their food the app will now send you a recipe based on what you're eating. For example if you're about to dig into a bowl of pasta, take a picture and upload it. Then Pinterest will analyze what's on your plate and suggest a recipe inspired by the dish.

The update is called Pinterest Lens and besides giving you a challenge in the kitchen it can also filter recipes by dietary restrictions such as vegan, gluten free or paleo. There is also a time filter to sift out recipes that take longer to make.  read more »

Unplug

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Its summer vacation season but this year more people are finding it hard to get away.

According to a new survey by the staffing firm Accountemps 54% of workers regularly check in with the office while on vacation. That's up from 41% percent this time last year. The people who can't fully unplug say they do it for peace of mind that things are under control, keeping projects moving along, avoiding extra work when they return and preventing colleagues from feeling extra stress. But even if your job demands a little more or you just can't let go there are ways to manage the urge and benefit from time off.  read more »

A Longer Weekend

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Feel like the weekend just flew by? There might be a way to add a little time to your time off.

David Eagleman is a professor at Stanford and author of “The Brain: The Story of You.” He says every Monday morning most people are left feeling that the weekend was wasted or simply not long enough. But he says there's a way to change that by tricking your brain into thinking its stretching time with things such as new activities, settings or experiences.

Eagleman says it all comes down to what your brain considers mundane. When you spend time doing something unfamiliar your brain focuses more on collecting the new data which creates a more thorough memory of the experience. Then when you reflect back on that memory it feels like you had more time.  read more »

Japanese Tradition

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Business owners in Japan are hoping to reverse a dying tradition with the help of a little education.

The manager of a Tokyo bath house is hoping to keep the idea of communal baths going by giving people another reason to show up. Now he is offering classes in a variety of topics in hopes of drawing in a younger crowd and getting them used to the tradition.

The manager says his family has owned the bath house since 1939. In its heyday about 500 people visited daily, now that number hovers around 100. The manager says most houses have modern bathrooms so people aren't showing up like they used to. He says since the late 1960's the owners of bath houses have been forced to come up with new ideas to keep people coming in.  read more »

Artificial Education

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It can be hard to pay attention in class, especially if your face gives you away.

A business school in Paris is about to start using artificial intelligence and facial recognition software to determine whether students are paying attention in two online classes. The software, called Nestor uses a student’s webcam to analyze eye movements and facial expressions to find out how closely they are watching the lecture. It then formulates quizzes based on the content covered during any perceived moment of inattentiveness.  read more »

Uncle Fat

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Tourists in Thailand are getting a little too generous with the wildlife and it's affecting their waistlines.

Last month pictures started circulating on social media of a morbidly obese monkey posing with tourists and scooping up the food and soda they leave behind. Now the monkey, who has been nicknamed Uncle Fat, has been caught and is being placed on a strict diet of lean protein, fruits and vegetables.  read more »

Memorial Day Travel

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It's Memorial Day weekend and if you're on the road, chances are you have a lot of company.

According to AAA almost 40% of Americans are planning to hit the roads, rails and skies this weekend as part of the official kickoff to summer. This year is the third in a row that more people have decided to take a vacation and the highest travel volume since 2005. AAA’s senior vice president for travel says higher confidence has led to more consumer spending and many people are choosing to use any extra money they have on travel for the three day weekend.  read more »

Artificial Service

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The future is going high tech, so where might you find a little artificial intelligence?

Recently the International Business Times took a look at the hotel management industry and envisioned the jobs that could one day be taken over by robots. For example the check in area and reception desk.

Experts say there will be a time when you will drive through the gate of a hotel and AI will automatically know it’s you by connecting with your cell phone or facial recognition. From there you will be assigned to a room based on your preferences that you can check into using your phone as a key. The AI will also remember exactly how you like your room and have it all set up for you when you arrive.  read more »

Route Based Pricing

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Uber is testing out a new way to pay; and it's all about the destination.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg Uber detailed a new pricing plan it has been testing in certain cities for the past few months. It’s called route based pricing and it charges passengers based on what Uber thinks they're willing to pay. And the details of your trip are what helps the company come up with the number to charge. For example, someone traveling from a wealthy neighborhood to another high end area will be charged more than someone heading to a poorer part of town even if demand, traffic and distance are the same.  read more »