Delta Airlines was already caught serving up different fees for the same flights when a person searched with and without identifying themselves, but the DOT called it the result of a "computer glitch." It appears inevitable that differential pricing is making its way to the airline industry. (Last week's Weekly described how to make differential pricing work for you rather than against you.)
I'm not a big fan of public WiFi, which has become a magnet for malware purveyors. But sometimes you'll be out and about when all of a sudden you just gotta get online, like right now. For those instances, there's the free WiFi Mapper app for iPhone -- and soon for Android devices, according to the program's vendor, OpenSignal.
TechCrunch's Natasha Lomas explains in a May 14, 2015, article that OpenSignal makes its money by selling anonymized cell-phone tracking data to telcos to help them determine the quality of their cell networks. By default, the app's cell-tracking feature is deactivated, but that could change in the future, according to the company. WiFi Mapper is said to offer more-accurate information about hotspots -- including whether they're free or paid -- by aggregating data on the WiFi activity of the program's 1.5 million active users.
WiFi Mapper coordinates with other sources, such as the Foursquare database, to make it easier to determine the hotspot's venue, such as whether it's located in a cafe or bar. OpenSignal intends to build on this "contextual awareness" to enhance user interaction with hotspots even further.
The 'Lime Equation': The key to monitoring employees unobtrusively
If you're a manager, you need to be able to distinguish the employees who are doing well from those who aren't. In a May 18, 2015, post on TechCrunch, SumAll CEO Dane Atkinson describes how he was able to determine which bartender at the restaurant he was managing was stealing from the till by monitoring the establishment's consumption of limes.
Here's how it worked: First, Atkinson identified a correlation between total drink sales and the amount of limes being purchased each week. He scheduled bartenders and bar backs so that he could identify who was working when drink sales no longer fell in line with lime consumption. It took only a week to identify the thief, who Atkinson caught trying to leave work one day with $2,500 in cash in his bag. The other workers were mystified about how Atkinson was able to nab the dishonest employee, which served to prevent other thefts.
After he switched from the hospitality industry to a tech startup, Atkinson applied the principles behind the Lime Equation to another work-quality indicator: the total volume of email his employees sent and received, and the ratio of internal to external emails. Whenever a worker's email volume fell below a particular threshold, Atkinson met with the employee to determine whether they were feeling disgruntled at work or experiencing personal problems.
The secrets to the Lime Equation's success are that you have to find an accurate indicator of worker productivity (or honesty, in the case of the limes), and then to keep the indicator secret from the employees you're monitoring. The result, according to Atkinson, is a workforce that doesn't feel like it's under constant surveillance, and managers who are able to get a good reading on how well their employees are doing in their jobs.