Do Your Global Entry Interview When You Return From a Trip at These Airports

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Global Entry is by far one of the best investments in anything I’ve ever made. I travel internationally at least six times a year, often more, and customs in my home airport of San Francisco can sometimes take hours. My very first trip with Global Entry was on a return trip from Italy where I made it through a full hour and a half before my boyfriend did who was on the same flight and entered the customs area by my side.

Filling out the Global Entry form is easy, but requires an in-person interview which is less-than-easy to arrange. I wrote a post before about how the earliest appointment that was available at my airport was 8 months out when I was conditionally approved, and I walked in a week before that Italy trip and managed to get seen in 2 minutes.

Last week when I was returning from an international flight I noticed a new addition to the customs line “Global Entry Interview Upon Arrival.” Now at SFO (and some other airports), you can do that interview when you land and take advantage of the shorter lines all at the same time.

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For me, my interview lasted roughly 5 minutes when I did it in-office, but they’re typically scheduled for 15, so you might be chatting with that customs officer for a bit. That said, if you’re already conditionally approved, it’s great that you can go ahead and use the service and take care of that pesky interview part, without having to wait for an official office appointment. And you’re skipping that potentially horrendous line for the Global Entry one, even though you’re not all the way approved yet.

The ability to interview when you land isn’t available everywhere, but it is available quite a few places. The list of airports is a bit too long to list here, but you can see them all narrowed down by state here.

The service is available in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Washington. You can also enroll upon arrival at a few airport locations in Canada.

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If you’re flying into any of those from an international location soon and still haven’t signed up for Global Entry, now might just be the perfect time.

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How to recycle your used and unwanted gadgets

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Geo-grafika

You’re probably used to sorting your garbage into bins: green for paper, or blue for plastic and glass. But when it comes to electronics, we’re still used to selling those off or tossing them into the trash heap. Unfortunately, our gadget addiction has real consequences for the planet, making it imperative that we dispose of everything responsibly.

Sure, you can try parting with your stuff for cash, but it’s a pain, and it can be tough, if not impossible, to find someone who wants a busted Xbox or 20-year-old CRT. Few places have curbside pickup — in fact, some localities make it illegal to leave electronics for the garbage collectors — so you’re going to have to find a reputable center to take it. We’ve gathered some of the resources to help you dispense of your broken and unwanted computers, televisions and any other gadget flotsam that’s been taking up space in your closet.

National chains

Scrap metal, iron and computer dump for recycling or safe disposal. Ulsan, South Korea.

There is no national electronics recycling law at this time, so you won’t find any federal programs to assist you with getting rid of old devices — the USPS does run a program for federal agencies and their employees, but it’s not available to the general public. Instead, the rest of us have to rely on nationwide retailers to toss out our old stuff.

Best Buy

Best Buy has over 1,000 locations in the United States, so it’s likely you have one nearby where you can drop stuff off. You just need to take it to the customer service counter. They’ll issue you a receipt too, but keep in mind that you can’t claim the drop-off as a deduction on your taxes since Best Buy isn’t a charity. You can even recycle televisions and monitors, though you’ll be charged a fee of $25 per item to cover the higher costs of transporting and disassembling them. Best Buy limits you to three items per household per day, including up to two televisions.

Staples

There are only 300 Staples stores nationwide, but it has some perks over Best Buy — you can bring up to seven items per day and, if you recycle a printer, you get $50 off a new one. Recycling your stuff follows the same process — just bring your products to the customer service counter for a receipt. Staples Rewards members also receive a small credit of $2 for every used ink cartridge they turn in, up to 20 a month. Unfortunately, though, Staples does not recycle televisions.

Office Depot

Office Depot

Office Depot has over 1,300 locations to choose from, but unlike Staples and Best Buy, it won’t recycle your old gadgets for free. If you’re only getting rid of a few phones or batteries, those can still be turned in at no charge, but for everything else you must purchase a Tech Recycling Box, which costs $5, $10 or $15 depending on the size. Once you have the box, you can fill it with as many items as you want, provided they all fit inside, including smaller televisions. So it’s a great deal if you have a lot of stuff you want to dispose of. And if you’re looking to turn in some ink cartridges, Office Depot also offers $2 per cartridge, but only if you make a purchase of $10 or more in the same month.

Manufacturers

Stack of old, broken and obsolete laptop computer

If you can’t make it to a retail location, especially when you only need to get rid of one or two items, many companies offer recycling programs for their own products. They’ll even pay for shipping. Some run their own programs while others use outside organizations. We’ve outlined policies from a handful of manufacturers below.

Amazon

While Amazon would love to direct you to its trade-in program, you’re probably reading this post because there’s stuff you can’t sell, and for those items Amazon offers mail-in recycling. You can send in your busted Kindles, Fire TVs and even Dash Buttons, as well as select peripherals like keyboards and mice. You’ll just need to fill out some forms online and generate a shipping label, which you can slap on any box. Drop it off at a UPS location and you’re good to go — Amazon will cover all the costs.

Apple

Apple’s ‘Liam’ robot, which disassembles your old phones.

If your iPhone or MacBook is still in good shape, you should consider selling it, but if it’s old or beat up you can still score a gift card by turning it into Apple’s recycling program. For iPhones, iPad and Apple Watches you’ll be asked to fill out a form attesting to the product’s condition and given a trade-in quote, with a working iPhone 5 going for $35 and an iPhone 7 Plus scoring you $315. For Macs you’ll be asked to provide a serial number as well. Though Apple won’t give you any cash for anything deemed old or unacceptable, you can still mail it in or bring it to any Apple Store so it can be responsibly disposed of.

Dell

Dell offers drop-off recycling via a partnership with Goodwill. Not every location participates, but there are over 2,000 that do. And, because it’s a charity, you may even be able to deduct it as a donation on your taxes. Dell also has a mail-back program on its site where you can generate a shipping label and drop off the package off at a FedEx location instead.

Epson

You can ship old product back to Epson by simply creating a shipping label on its site and dropping it off at a FedEx location.

HP

If you can, HP recommends taking its products to the nearest Best Buy or Staples. But if that’s not feasible, the company participates in a program that will even buy back some items. You’ll be asked to fill out a form with the make, model and condition, and the recycler will email you a prepaid shipping label to mail the package within 30 days. If you’re doing a buyback you’ll receive a paper check in the mail. Because this isn’t an in-house program with HP, you can also send in items from other companies — check the drop down list for firms like Canon and Toshiba as well as more obscure and out-of-business manufacturers.

Other manufacturers

Many other companies use outside recyclers to dispose of their products, and you’ll often see the same names popping up again and again across different manufacturers. This should simplify things in some cases — you should be able to send in products from multiple sources in one package. You just need to fill in the make and model to generate a prepaid shipping label. However, different states have different rules on what you can return, so the drop-downs for selecting your product may vary by jurisdiction.

Two major recycling companies you’ll notice a lot are RLGA, which covers Acer, Canon, Google, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft and Motorola, and MRM, which recycles product for Alcatel, BlackBerry, Barnes & Noble (nook), TCL and Toshiba.

Phones

Electronics Recycling

Cellphones are the easiest gadget to recycle — if you haven’t already decided to sell yours off on eBay or via sites like DeCluttr, Gazelle and ecoATM. But, if you can’t or won’t make some cold, hard cash off of it, you can send it to:

Call2Recycle, which has drop-off centers all over the country in many chain stores, including Lowes and Home Depot. They’ll also accept rechargeable batteries as well.

Cell Phones for Soldiers, which accepts phones in any condition and sells them to refurbishers or recyclers. The proceeds go toward purchasing phone cards for troops so they can call their friends and family back home. To be clear, the phones are not given directly to the soldiers.

All four of the major carriers, including Verizon and T-Mobile, offer free recycling as well. You can trade in your old device in-store or send it in for a credit toward a new phone, or let them straight up recycle it. AT&T participates in Cell Phones for Soldiers, while Sprint runs the 1Million Project, which works to get disadvantaged kids devices and internet access.

If you do decide to try your luck with Gazelle or ecoATM to see if your old phone is still worth a few bucks and it turns out it’s worth nothing, you can at least rest easy knowing that both companies will recycle your phone responsibly.

States

computer parts for electronic recycling

There may not be a national law dictating that you must recycle your electronics, but at least 26 states have passed their own rules that vary widely on what they demand of both manufacturers and consumers. Almost all states that do collect products for recycling provide this service for free, with the bill footed by the companies in some way. Most provide some local programs to help you get rid of your stuff, regardless of whether recycling your gadgets is required or optional.

States where you can no longer dispose of electronics in the regular trash and must recycle them include: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

The following states have laws requiring manufacturers to pay for recycling, but you, the consumer, are not actually required to recycle your electronics: Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

The following states have some special circumstances worth noting:

California: Consumers pay a small fee of $5 to $7 when they buy televisions and laptops. This is used to reimburse recyclers for the high cost of recycling these items, so you don’t get it back when you turn in these items for collection.

Connecticut: Does not allow recycling centers to charge you a fee for turning in electronics, so many organizations that would usually charge for recycling televisions and monitors do not accept them. Since you cannot dispose of them curbside, you can take them to a municipal transfer station for free.

Michigan: In addition to hosting numerous drop-off sites, Michigan will also pay for you to recycle your old gadgets by mail.

Pennsylvania: Does not allow retailers to charge you a fee to recycle, so places like Best Buy and Staples will not accept televisions or monitors. Many recycling centers have also closed as a result of underfunding. Some non-profit recyclers may still accept the items, and you should check to see if your local government is hosting any drop-off events. Lancaster and Dauphin Counties also still run civic recycling programs.

With it becoming more difficult to get rid of an old TV in Pennsylvania, with some people even resorting to illegal dumping, state senator Richard Alloway II introduced a bill last June mandating a fee on new purchases to offset the cost to recycling facilities. It’s been sitting in committee for the past year.

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The rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes, who started Theranos when she was 19 and became the world’s youngest female billionaire before it all came crashing down

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Elizabeth Holmes

These days, blood-testing startup Theranos is on its last legs. 

But in 2014, the billion-dollar company and its CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, were on top of the world. Back then, Theranos was a revolutionary idea thought up by a woman hailed as a genius who styled herself as a female Steve Jobs. Holmes was the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire, and Theranos was one Silicon Valley’s unicorn startups. 

Then it all came crashing down.

The shortcomings and inaccuracies of Theranos’s technology were exposed, along with the role Holmes played in covering it all up. Theranos and Holmes were charged with massive fraud, and the company was forced to close its labs and testing centers. 

This is how Holmes went from precocious child to ambitious Stanford dropout to embattled startup CEO. 

SEE ALSO: Leaked video shows Theranos employees playing the video game they created where you shoot at the reporter who exposed the startup’s problems

Elizabeth Holmes was born on February 3, 1984 in Washington, D.C. Her mom, Noel, was a Congressional committee staffer, and her dad, Christian Holmes, worked for Enron before moving to government agencies like USAID.

Source: Elizabeth Holmes/TwitterCNN, Vanity Fair

Holmes’ family moved when she was young, from Washington, D.C. to Houston.

Source: Fortune

At the age of 9, Holmes wrote a letter to her father: "What I really want out of life is to discover something new, something that mankind didn’t know was possible to do."

Source: CBS News

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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This crowdfunded, low-speed, electric 2-seater is ‘the iPad of cars’

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This crowd-funded, low-speed, electric 2-seater is “the iPad of cars”

Disclosure

Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

The two-seater Eli Zero NEV is a low-speed electric vehicle.
The two-seater Eli Zero NEV is a low-speed electric vehicle.

Image: eli electric

Electric-vehicle manufacturer Eli Electric has created a futuristic but odd-looking electric car. You can pre-order it today on … Indiegogo? 

Yes, that’s right: A crowd-funded car. That’s not something you see every day. 

The Eli Zero, a two-seater electric vehicle that looks suspiciously like a go-kart with doors, has, in its first few days of crowdfunding, already surpassed its $20,000 goal

We’ll be the first to admit that this thing looks absurdly fun to drive. Its compact size makes it ideal for zipping around the city, or for quick jaunts to the grocery store or gym. But it has a top speed of 25 miles per hour and a starting range of 55 miles, so forget driving it on the highway — or anywhere of consequence, really. 

CEO Marcus Li, who has a background in architecture, was inspired to form his Long Beach, California, and Beijing-based company after he saw how cars have made communities congested, sprawling, and parking-obsessed. 

“We believe the world doesn’t need another car,” Li said in a phone call this week.

So he developed what he calls an “urban friendly,” environmentally friendly vehicle for short trips. “We have an unhealthy obsession with speed,” he said.

He wants the Eli Zero to replace families’ second cars, and believes that for urban city dwellers like himself, it could be a supplemental ride mixed with with car-sharing and ride-hailing.

“It’s like the iPad of conventional cars,” Li summed up.

The EV can't go on highways or roads faster than 25 mph.

The EV can’t go on highways or roads faster than 25 mph.

Crowdfunded vehicles aren’t unheard of, but they’re pretty rare, and historically unsuccessful.

A spokesperson for Kickstarter (birthplace of a number of major transportation projects, including the Boosted Board and the original hoverboard) couldn’t recall any projects seeking to fund cars on its platform, noting that the site caps all pledges at $10,000. 

The Eli Zero is in a federally designated class of car called a neighborhood electric vehicle, or NEV, so it’s not trying to fit into any traditional car molds, and that includes price. The vehicle is priced at $10,900, but its online campaign is offering discounted pre-orders starting at $7,699. 

Indiegogo declined to comment about cars on its platform, but a similarly tiny solar car called Sion did launch there in 2016. That car is still in the pre-order phase and not yet available for purchase. A few other electric car campaigns linger on the platform, but all appear to have closed without meeting their goals. 

Li plans to have the first Eli vehicles on the road by the start of 2019. To fend off anything like Tesla’s production woes for its affordable electric sedan, Eli is starting with just 100 vehicles. (Not surprisingly, his team has a background in golf cart manufacturing.)

If this thing makes it out of the pre-order stage alive, it might be the first of its kind to do so. Hey, there’s a first time for everything — including hopping into a glorified golf cart to pick up some milk.

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8 life lessons from Jeff Bezos, pulled from Amazon shareholder letters

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8 life lessons from Jeff Bezos, pulled from Amazon shareholder letters

Teach us, Bezos. Teach us.
Teach us, Bezos. Teach us.

Image: Yves Forestier/Sygma via Getty Images

Jeff Bezos is rich. Jeff Bezos is wise. Jeff Bezos is bald. 

Therefore, when Bezos drops pearls of wisdom, we shall string them together to form a necklace of nuance, the considerate capitalist’s manifesto, The Philosophy of Bezos.

From his most recent letters to shareholders, here are some of the tenets that Jeff Bezos lives and works by. (What’s the difference really, anyway?) Study and practice them as you track the package that is your life. 

All quotes taken from Jeff Bezos’ 2016 and 2017 letters to shareholders.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com (Photo by Chris Carroll/Corbis via Getty Images)

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com (Photo by Chris Carroll/Corbis via Getty Images)

Image: Corbis via Getty Images

“If you take me on your basketball team, you can teach me many things, but you can’t teach me to be taller.” 

Skeptical.

Skeptical.

Image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“There will be many elements, multiple paths, and many traps.”

Discerning.

Discerning.

Image: David Ryder/Getty Images

“Most people think that if they work hard, they should be able to master a handstand in about two weeks. The reality is that it takes about six months of daily practice. If you think you should be able to do it in two weeks, you’re just going to end up quitting.”

Unrelenting.

Unrelenting.

Image: Alex Wong/Getty Images

“The standard is there, and it is real, even if it’s not easily describable.”

Searching.

Searching.

Image: Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images

“The football coach doesn’t need to be able to throw, and a film director doesn’t need to be able to act.”

Leading.

Leading.

Image: Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images

“Once you’ve tasted high standards, there’s no going back.”

Appreciating.

Appreciating.

Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

“Do we own the process or does the process own us?”

Contemplating.

Contemplating.

Image: JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

“Experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings.”

Growing.

Growing.

Image: Yves Forestier/Sygma via Getty Images

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Oil spills can be sucked up by this ‘sponge’ that’s also made from oil

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Oil spills are disastrous for the environment, but a newly developed absorbent polymer could prove a novel cleaning solution.

Developed by Australian and European researchers, with details published in the journal Advanced Sustainable Systems, the material is actually a combination of used cooking oils and sulphur — the latter of which is a waste product of the petroleum industry.

Like a sponge, the polymer sucks up crude oil, which then can be squeezed and reused again. While there have been other sponge-like solutions to oil spills mooted in the past, this new polymer solution is created from waste products, which is of additional benefit to the environment.

“This application can consume excess waste sulfur that is stockpiled around the globe and may help mitigate the perennial problem of oil spills in aquatic environments,” Justin Chalker, the research’s lead and synthetic chemistry lecturer at Flinders University, said in a statement.

Sulphur and cooking oils are hydrophobic, which means they repel water, but they have an affinity for hydrocarbons like crude oil.

As per a laboratory demonstration, it takes less than one minute for the polymer to absorb the crude oil, forming a floating cluster that can be then removed with a net. 

In 2017 alone, there was approximately 7,000 tonnes of crude oil spilt by tankers into the ocean, according to the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation.

Currently, there are several ways to clean up crude oil spills. If there is no risk of polluting coastal regions or marine industries, the oil can be left to break down naturally.

For heavier spills, the oil is contained with booms and skimmers that are deployed to remove the substance off the water’s surface. Biological agents or dispersants can be introduced to speed up the oil’s degradation.

When produced at scale, researchers anticipate the polymer to be an inexpensive solution to cleaning up oil spills, given the low cost of waste cooking oils and sulphur which forms the basis of the polymer. That low cost means it could be an effective solution for smaller, localised oil spills in countries where clean-up resources can be limited.

The world’s largest oil spill, BP’s Deepwater Horizon in 2010, released 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, costing $61.6 billion to clean up.  

“This is a new class of oil sorbents that is low-cost, scalable, and enables the efficient removal and recovery of oil from water,” Chalker added.

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Learn how to build a WordPress site that actually attracts visitors

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Learn how to build a WordPress site that actually attracts visitors

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.

Learn how to make your website pop.
Learn how to make your website pop.

Image: pexels

If you’re building your own website, or even just planning to, odds are you’ve considered WordPress as a foundation. After all, 29% of all sites are built with WordPress, and nearly 60% of all sites use WordPress as their CMS. There’s a reason that’s true, but you won’t fully understand it unless you master the format with the WordPress Essentials Lifetime Bundle, a series of online classes that are currently on sale for less than $20.

The four included courses have more than 20 hours of content and will teach you WordPress skills that go way beyond just setting up a blog. You’ll learn how to effectively write copy, use basic programming for marketers, and customize your site with web development techniques. 

Next, you’ll learn how to drive visitors to your site with SEO techniques and how to understand the traffic with web analytics. You’ll master the hard stuff (organizing, designing, and structuring your website, focusing on audience needs) and the fun stuff (masterminding your social media presence).

This is a lot of information — $880 worth — available in the Mashable Shop for just $19 — that’s 97% off. 

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When the brief says “design a recliner/rocking chair/hammock”

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cocoon_chair_1

Sitting on the Cocoon is a strangely comforting yet new experience. It looks a little revolutionary, no doubt… but sitting on it gives you an experience that’s difficult to actualize in words. Rest your body against it, and it feels like a hammock, with its woven fabric. However, it doesn’t consume you, like a hammock would. Lie down in a hammock, and the fabric gives in to the shape of your body… lie in the Cocoon, and it feels like you’ve still got some lumbar support. It feels more like a recliner than a hammock. And then there’s experience number three. Designed with a curved frame, the Cocoon swings to and fro, unlike a hammock that swings side by side. The Cocoon somehow manages to combine rocking, lounging, and relaxing all into one beautiful seating device perfect for a lazy afternoon with a cup of hot cocoa… as shown above!

The Cocoon is a winner of the A’ Design Award for the year 2018.

Designer: Timmy Kwok

cocoon_chair_2

cocoon_chair_3

cocoon_chair_4

cocoon_chair_5

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Here’s How Much Potheads Spend On 4/20 Weed And How Many Actually Make It To Work

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marijuana joint

Shutterstock / MWesselPhoto

Today is 4/20, the beloved marijuana holiday for stoners everywhere. A very happy 4/20 to you and yours! This is a very special day for California since it is their first 4/20 since the state legalized marijuana on January 1, 2018. With all this green goodness on 4/20 are stoners going to actually make it to work today? Let’s find out.

A new survey has delved into the 4/20 spending habits of potheads as well as if they plan to ditch work on the day of cannabis jubilee. The website LendEDU surveyed 1,001 Americans ages 18 and up that were planning on lighting up on April 20, 2018. And it sounds like a lot of you aren’t going to work today.

The survey found that 35.66% of the burnouts said they planned on skipping work on 4/20. Surprising, I know. Slightly more stoners will make the effort to go to work (41.86%), but out of those dedicated employees making it to work, 20.05% said they are going to their job stoned. Can’t let a little thing like work slow your roll. Another 10.26% were unsure if they’d go to their job under the influence.

Then there was the decent amount of cannabis enthusiasts who didn’t need to worry about work ’cause it’s Friday, they ain’t got no job… and they ain’t got shit to do. The survey found that 22.48% of respondents said they are currently not employed. Keep in mind that the current unemployment rate is 4.1%.

So how do these weed fans spend their money on April 20th? Of the potoisseurs, 55.44% said they had already planned to include 4/20-related expenses into their monthly budget. And who said stoners aren’t fiscally responsible? The respondents said they spend an average of $146.12 on 4/20 and about half ($71.35) will be spent of the drug itself. You can’t talk about smoking up without talking about the munchies. Cannabis users said they would spend $40.34 on munchies. That’s a lot of f*cking White Castle. Weed lovers said they will spend $34.43 for new marijuana paraphernalia. Bongye West and Action Bongson, meet your new friend George W. Kush.

[Entrepreneur]

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Cannabis is having its ‘smartphone’ moment

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PAX / Quang Le

“It’s very similar to having a phone, you wouldn’t want just one or two apps on it. You’d want to be able to have a wide selection,” Bharat Vasan, CEO of PAX, told me in his company’s downtown San Francisco office. He’s referring to the range of “pods” available for the PAX Era weed vaporizer, likening fewer weed options to only having Instagram or Twitter on a phone.

PAX makes some of the best-known cannabis vaporizers in the industry. But during our interview, Vasan doesn’t mention the words “high,” “stoned,” “weed,” “doobie,” “blaze” or “dank” once. Instead, he talks about “platforms,” “apps,” “experience” and “updates.” PAX is one of a handful of technology companies making weed accessible to a generation that doesn’t want to roll their own. A generation that wants, even expects, to customize its experience via an app on their phone. A user that’s more likely to update their firmware than clean out a pipe.

Today is 4/20, the Christmas of cannabis, and PAX is using it to launch a limited edition Era vaporizer with a celebrity endorsement from weed-friendly electronic duo Thievery Corporation. The Era uses “pods” of cannabis oil, which snap into place on the pen-like device; the user only needs to inhale and enjoy. The launch also includes a new pod from Blue River called “Lebanese Blonde” (a meta reference to a Thievery Corporation track, itself named after a variety of cannabis) and a new album from the duo.

The cannabis oil in these pods requires a high-tech, convoluted extraction process. JJ O’Brien, VP of the Era product line, told me “the [new] pod is really incorporating as close to a traditional Lebanese hash-making as possible. So there’s no CO2, there’s no ethanol, no butane.” In technology terms, it’s an attempt at authenticity, reminiscent of when iOS apps tried hard to look like the analog items they replaced.

It’s not just PAX that is bringing cannabis into the mobile age. Bloom Farm’s range of “Highlighter” vape pens come in rose gold and space gray-esque colorways. The pens include a capacitive tip on one end so you can navigate your work email while you casually stick it to the man by supping on the other end. Just this week I received a product release announcement from another company that espoused a new vaporizer’s spec sheet, complete with 64Kb of memory and pass-through charging. No wireless charging or contactless payments yet, but I am sure they’re coming.

It’s a cliche, but PAX is often likened to “the Apple of vaporizers.” Its products are slick, with soft glowing lights, seamless Bluetooth connectivity and strong cosmetic design. They also come at a premium (the Era is only $30, but the pods are pricey compared to the same weight in “flower”). The flagship PAX 3, which works with any flower or concentrate, costs $250.

The Era’s pod system is a proprietary format, something Apple is also very fond of using. On the other side, companies like Bloom Farms or ABX use generic connections, meaning you can often pick and choose which hardware to use with which cartridge of oil. PAX’s closed system is going for the “it just works” approach, but it also locks you into its products.

Showtime

“Originally, we had some Afghan Black, and were going to call the song that.” Rob Garza from Thievery Corporation told me backstage at the launch event. Apparently someone else that day was from Lebanon, and said that they had a type of hash called Lebanese Blonde. The group decided that sounded better, and the title of their song was born. In turn, kicking off a chain of events that would, years later, find that name etched onto the side of a vape cartridge. Which beats an iPod with U2’s signatures on the back in my opinion.

The new strain is made by Blue River. PAX does not make any cannabis-based product, only a means to enjoy them. Tony Verzura, Blue River’s CTO (yes, cannabis manufacturers have CTOs too), was enthusiastic in explaining the process. But mostly he talks in metaphors about the importance of layers, comparing weed making to music and its “transition from analog to digital.”

In a transition that Samsung would have been proud of, Verzura and Garza later took to the stage while O’Brien introduced them. Like a well-groomed PR machine, they repeated the exact two anecdotes they told me in an interview moments prior. When the presentation finishes, the music takes over and the atmosphere lifts gently upward with every subtle wisp of Lebanese Blonde exhaled in the room.

If PAX is the Apple, and everyone else is the Android, then there’s another challenge in store for weed’s digital update: copycats and clones. Much like there are endless wannabe iPhones, connected cannabis could end up saturated with inferior “me too” devices before too long, and the audience for cannabis might not be large enough to support them. The e-cigarette and nicotine vape market is already plagued by cheap devices with ridiculous features that are endlessly iterated. Weed vapes could end up going the same way.

Since cannabis culture started embracing technology, there has been the natural split between purists and progressives. It’s vinyl versus digital all over again. But, like MP3s and ebooks caused their respective industries a headache, they also democratized their enjoyment. Now, there’s a new wave of consumer that thinks digital is best, apps are better and sure, throw in some fancy LEDs for good measure. That is to say, that much like some people only know a phone with apps and a camera, soon a whole generation of weed consumers won’t know what to do with a grinder and papers.

Modern weed is for a modern user though. Vaporizing is discreet and (almost) smell free, devices like the PAX 3 or PAX Era have Bluetooth, mobile apps and child locks. The PAX 3 even has games on board. I asked Verzura if vapes with features like this have somehow legitimized cannabis to a new generation, and he told me about how he was now able to consume it at a baseball game. “People might smell it for a second” he said, “but no one really notices.”

And that, perhaps, is the important change that smarter weed devices can offer. A way to consume that’s much easier for everyone, much more convenient and much more culturally acceptable.

I asked Vasan: If the current PAX devices do their job well, then why don’t they just leave it at that, and retire on a beach? “You know, I’d love that. That’s not how the consumer space works. I feel like there’s a lot more that PAX can do to make the experience like other mainstream experiences in your life” he responded. “There are other mainstream products like Rings and Dropcams and August locks in your life. This experience should parallel the best of those.”

Better make sure you keep your vape’s software up-to-date.

from Engadget https://engt.co/2qPUsLM
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