Advances in technology have made finding deals this holiday season never so easy — or so creepy. Marketers and mobile app developers have developed creative new ways to help shoppers find what they need for less. But these inventive techniques also mean more aggressive tracking and profiling of consumers, whether they are on their work computer, a mobile device or standing in the cereal aisle. Consumer advocates say this kind of monitoring opens the door to price discrimination. Jeff Chester, an executive director at the Center for Digital Democracy, said of online marketers, quote, "you know that song where Santa knows when you've been sleeping? He knows when you're awake? Believe me, that's where he's getting his information from."
A Northern California toy company says it has removed its parody of a popular Beastie Boys song from a promotional video that went viral. GoldieBlox founder Debbie Sterling posted an open letter to the band's surviving members Wednesday saying the company also plans to withdraw a lawsuit it filed for the right to spoof the song "Girls." The company filed the lawsuit last week, saying the Beastie Boys threatened their own legal action for copyright infringement. Sterling says she didn't know the Beastie Boys have a blanket ban on using their songs in advertisements. GoldieBlox makes engineering toys for girls and tweaked the lyrics of "Girls" to talk about spaceships and software. The video had spread across the Internet in recent weeks, with more than 8 million views on YouTube.
Willis Ware, a former Rand Corp. engineer who helped build early computers in the 1940s and '50 and predicted the importance of PCs long before they became ubiquitous, has died. He was 93. Ware, an electrical engineer, was on the team at Princeton University that built the IAS machine, one of the world's first electronic computers, in the late 1940s. He joined Rand in 1952 to help build the Johnniac, another early computer that was based on the IAS. Rand spokesman Jeffrey Hiday said that Ware passed away on Friday, Nov. 22. He is survived by two daughters, Deborah and Alison, son David, and their spouses, Edwin Pinson, Thomas Manoli, and Astrid Erling and granddaughters Arielle and Victoria Manoli.