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Best iPhone Game Updates: ‘Warped Kart Racers’, ‘AFK Arena’, ‘Homescapes’, ‘Subway Surfers’, and More – TouchArcade

Warped Kart Racers gets its first big update since launch, with a new Living Room track, a new campaign series with Cherie as an unlockable, and a new multiplayer episode.She’s cool as heck and a nice deep pull, but other than the one new character and some of the usual bug squishing and general improvements, there isn’t much going on in this update.Two new cars have been added, along with a new control method that adds a virtual wheel to the screen. Warped Kart Racers, Wow, this is just like that time a game got an update!There are sixty new puzzles to play, and some new tournaments have been added.This update also includes a Boss Battle against Gorr the God Butcher, some shenanigans with Kraven in the Arena, some new puzzles in the Puzzle Ops mode, and more!This feels like a new step for the game as it heads into its second decade, though it might just be a one-off before the next step on the World Tour.You get a whole new mode this time where you have to pop as many balloons as possible as you make your way around the track.There are assorted other additions like new adventures, balance adjustments, and so on, but I’ll let you pull up the notes if you want the full skinny. Temple Run: Puzzle Adventure, Running through temples, one match-3 puzzle at a time.Here’s our obligatory free-to-play matching puzzle game update for the week.We’ve got one new character in this update, and it’s Audrey Ramirez from Disney’s Atlantis.You’ve got a new set of shelves in the Treasure Trove to fill, so you’d best get to work.There’s also a new Custom Race feature that allows you to mix and match your car, track, and difficulty of choice to make your very own event.The new puzzle element is chests and keys, and I trust you can figure out how those work. That about wraps it up for last week’s significant updates. Subway Surfers, Free This time the Subway Surfers kids are heading to… Subway City? Disney Heroes: Battle Mode, Free I get the sense that after many years and with the launch of Disney Mirrorverse, Disney Heroes is finally starting to run out of steam.As usual, major updates will likely get their own news stories throughout this week, and I’ll be back next Monday to summarize and fill in the blanks.There are also some new missions you can beat to earn some additional rewards. SimCity BuildIt, Free Contest of Mayors time in SimCity BuildIt, apparently.It had a couple of updates in the last week, with the newest adding the non-limited edition Joan of Arc – Dawn Protector.Club Stradale is another Apple Arcade game with a decent update this time around.After that, head to space – space? – head to space on Operation Luna 1977 and see if you can claim the cosmic Rover tank for your own.TouchArcade Rating: Hello everyone, and welcome to the week! AFK Arena, Free Let’s wrap things up by checking in on AFK Arena.It’s time once again for our look back at the noteworthy updates of the last seven days.This game launched with a lot of issues, especially in multiplayer mode, so it’s good to see them fixed so soon. MARVEL Puzzle Quest: Hero RPG, Free World of Tanks Blitz - 3D War, Free Well, at least I can depend on World of Tanks Blitz to have its treads planted firmly in reality.Also in this update: Sean is trying to build up his confidence to ask out his crush, Katherine stumbles on the Palace of Dreams, and Mycroft organizes a charity event.I’m sure I’ve missed some, though, so please feel free to comment below and let everyone know if you think something should be mentioned.I think I can spare a coveted UMMSotW award for Spidey’s birthday, so here it goes for this week.Perhaps I’ve got it wrong and this is just a lull, but I suppose time will tell.Let’s take a big sip of coffee and see what’s in the latest version of the game.

The electricity demands of data centers are making it harder to build new homes in London

“data centres use large quantities of electricity, the equivalent of towns or small cities” The GLA notes in its letter that “data canters use large quantities of electricity, the equivalent of towns or small cities, to power servers and ensure resilience in service.” The electricity demands of data centers are only likely to grow in future, as companies switch more processing and storage operations to cloud operations, and as rising temperatures caused by climate change strain facilities’ cooling systems.The GLA said west London’s electricity grid was at capacity, and told one developer there may not be “sufficient electrical capacity for a new connection” until 2035. According to a report from The Financial Times, which shared letters sent to housing developers by London’s local governing body (the Greater London Authority, or GLA), the issue is affecting new developments in three west London boroughs: Ealing, Hillingdon, and Hounslow.The power demands of data centers can be staggering, with larger facilities using as much electricity as tens of thousands of homes.It’s not clear how many housing projects have been blocked by this bottleneck, but the FT notes that the three London boroughs affected account for around 11 percent of the city’s housing supply.

The Fed’s interest rate hike will make the housing crisis even worse

advertisement advertisement According to experts, the rate increase will lead to higher interest rates on fixed-term and adjustable-rate mortgages, affecting the ability of would-be homebuyers to pursue them while also leading homebuilders to tamp down production of new homes.“If we fell 3.8 million homes short of meeting housing needs in the best of times, imagine how far we will fall as interest rates broadly increase, and it becomes even more difficult for builders of much needed housing to access loans to produce that product,” he says.“Sometimes lower rates result in higher housing prices,” Marks says, because more people are able to access loans more easily, increasing the competition for and price of what’s on the market. advertisement advertisement Kingsella says the situation today is much different than just a few years ago, when interest rates were low, and the cost of labor and materials wasn’t prohibitively high for builders.“We are not bullish that increases to the federal fund rate will counteract rapidly deteriorating affordability, access to homeownership, and the fundamental shortage of homes that the nation is facing,” says Mike Kingsella, CEO of the nonprofit advocacy group Up For Growth.“Increased mortgage rates means fewer home sales and fewer would-be first-time homebuyers, increasing rental demand,” she says. advertisement But both Marks and Kingsella say there are still some systemic issues in the housing market that will persist despite this jump in the interest rate.On the housing-supply side, Marks says the larger challenge is the aggressive purchasing power of private equity and hedge funds that are buying up large amounts of single-family housing and turning them into rental properties.“Interest rates go up and down, lumber prices go up and down, but zoning and land use is forever,” he says.“With increased rates, the result is lower housing prices.” advertisement For would-be homebuyers on the lower end of the income spectrum, the rate hike could turn out to be a good thing, according to Bruce Marks.The overall cost of housing could come down, but with less supply and increasingly common all-cash buyers, more people will be pushed out of the housing market.The pandemic’s impact on supply chains and the cost of construction materials has likely further constrained supply over the past few years, and the interest rate hike will probably constrain it even further.“Increased demand and shrinking supply results in the skyrocketing rents we’re seeing across the country.”“Even in the best-case scenario, the amount that we build will be almost totally reduced by these cash buyers,” he says.

30% of U.S. households lack central air—and that’s becoming more and more dangerous

advertisement advertisement According to a new report studying 35 U.S. metro areas, based on the Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey, there are inequities in access to AC in cities across the nation.There’s been some progress on this in cities like L.A. and Miami, which has appointed a chief heat officer to explore best heat-adaptive practices and work with other North American cities to help implement them.The report shows the extent of the disparities, and suggests some solutions for the short and long terms for these urban heat islands, which absorb and retain heat to uncomfortable degrees.What compounds the severity of the issue is that these populations are already vulnerable because they tend to live in areas of cities with the highest temperatures, due to more paved surfaces and fewer trees.Central air is most prevalent in the South and Southwest, where many homes were built post-World War II; 95% of homes have AC in Sun Belt cities like Atlanta, Houston, and Phoenix.One of the report’s authors, Jenny Schuetz, a senior fellow at Brookings, says that’s likely because of the age of homes: more than 70% of Cleveland’s housing stock is over 50 years old compared to about 50% of Cincinnati’s housing.In the lowest-income quartile, 12% of households weren’t equipped with it, and 60% had central air; versus 6% among the highest incomes who didn’t have it, and 80% who had central air. advertisement These resilient solutions will be doubly important for the fact that AC contributes significantly to global warming, already representing an estimated 3.9% of total emissions.Nonprofits, such as American Forests, have also piloted tree canopy projects in places like Phoenix and Tucson to increase “tree equity,” where they plant more trees in vulnerable areas.Cities need to invest in durable heat protections, including cool pavements and cool roofs, and fountains and misters. advertisement Lower-income people were more likely not to have AC.Also concerning is the lack of AC among lower-income individuals and racial minorities, who tend to live in hotter and less protected areas, even within cities themselves.To help bridge these gaps, in the short term, the report suggests city governments should give portable AC units to the most vulnerable residents.“It’s likely that need for AC will go up over time if we want to protect the health of older adults and other vulnerable people,” Schuetz says.Wildfires have devastated parts of Spain and Portugal, where an estimated 1,100 people have died from the heat; and the U.K logged a new record temperature of 104.5 degrees.These incidents have exposed that those places are under-equipped when it comes to air-conditioning, either because high temperatures have been historically uncommon or homes are older.

Visiting Canada’s $50 million 1980s ghost town

Twitter Facebook Like this: Like Loading... Categories: Features The story of Kitsault, summarized: In the late 1970s, the American Metal Company placed a bet on mining molybdenum in Mount Widdzech, next to an inlet about 900 kilometres north of Vancouver. Not only a ghost town, but a ghost town that was built for $50 million in 1981, only to be shut down a year later. And when the company eventually sold the property at the start of the 21st century, it was purchased by an American millionaire who decide to increase maintenance, pouring six figures each year into keeping the homes dry and the buildings clean, a group of around 10 caretakers fixing the roofs and rehabilitating things like the curling rink and swimming pool. A couple of apartments and hospital remained from a work camp attempted a decade prior, but the rest was all new — a school and a gym, a mall and a community centre, apartments and single-family homes, winding roads and cute street lights. Not only that, but a ghost town that has been fully preserved: the roofs redone, the rooms dusted, as much kept in its place as it was 40 years ago, right down to the medical equipment in the hospital and the children’s toys in the daycare. Not only that, but a ghost town that was built for families, from the community centre to the curling rink, the grocery store to the pub. It is a long way from any major city, and not accessible by road, so the company did what must have seemed logical: built a town pretty much from scratch, in an attempt to make a place that workers would want build a life in. In the wilderness of British Columbia, a two hour drive from any town with cell reception, sits a ghost town. It’s easy to be excited about what it could be, how 100 well-maintained affordable homes and a few mid-sized apartments, connected to the power grid with running water, could become more than, as a friend put it, “a B.C. Chernobyl but someone is changing all the light bulbs.” They don’t make ghost towns anymore: temporary work camps have replaced planned communities for companies exploiting resources in remote parts of the country. There Kitsault would have ended, or at least decayed and been taken over by nature like so many ghost towns, if not for a collection of improbable twists of fate. Because the town was so isolated and the company so eager to evacuate everyone, much of the infrastructure and equipment was left behind. If it looks like an EPCOT pavilion for small-town middle-class Canadiana in 1980, well, that’s what it was. Go into most of the homes, and you’ll see the same design: a top floor with a living room, adjoining kitchen, two or three non-descript bedrooms, with an unfinished basement below. Look at photos of Kitsault when it was built, and you can see all those trees planted at the same time, ready to grow up with the families inside them. Of course, the town is completely empty, and in one sense that’s what makes it unique. And because the company held faint hopes of a rebirth for the mine, a caretaker was left in charge of basic maintenance of the property. But just as soon as the 1500 or so residents started to form a community in Kitsault, the price of molybdenum began to crash. The longer Kitsault has survived, the stranger it seems, and the more interesting it becomes: a replica of a 1980s village in the middle of nowhere might have been a curiosity in 2002, but in 2022 it’s downright historic. The caretakers allow a few dozen guests each year, through a former University of Northern B.C. program coordinator who organizes tours. The homes are filled with lush burgundy carpets and harvest gold appliances. Nothing has really taken hold, but the owner continues to funnel in money to preserve Kitsault in case something materializes. The current owner has talked about it becoming a spiritual centre, a wellness retreat, an LNG facility, and much more. And outside, there’s always a maple tree next to each house, towering over the foot-long grass. Which means, for a fee, you can drive two hours down a barely passable road.

Boss allegedly gave landlord strategies for evicting a tenant that included installing a broken AC unit, calling Child Protective Services, and knocking on her door every night

A newly published House subcommittee report alleges that an executive from The Siegel Group sent a Texas property manager a list of strategies to "get rid of" a tenant who was late on rent, including security knocking on the tenant's door "at least twice a night" and replacing an air conditioning unit with one that didn't work." Almost a third of Invitation Homes' tenants lost their homes from March 15, 2020 through July 29, 2021 after the company filed to evict them, according to the report. Invitation Homes, which reported record profits while it was filing evictions, told its government-backed creditor Fannie Mae that only 6% of its eviction filings in the six months before March 2021 saw tenants lose their homes. The report, released on Thursday from the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, found that four corporate landlords "engaged in abusive tactics" to evict tenants during the eviction moratorium at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. While the companies filed the evictions, the report said the companies did so while they were all financially stable. Pretium tenants faced the eviction process after falling $500 to $1,000 behind on rent, the report said. In a response to Insider's request for comment, Pretium said, "As we have affirmed publicly on numerous occasions, we have always complied with the CDC moratorium – no resident covered by a valid CDC declaration has ever been evicted from our homes for non-payment of rent.From October 2020 to March 2021, the company's data showed 27% of tenants lost housing through court-ordered evictions or because the tenants left after the eviction was filed.In an effort to prevent people from losing housing in future emergencies, the report said Congress and other watchdog agencies should require "states and localities provide direct-to-tenant assistance to tenants with uncooperative landlords." In a statement, the subcommittee's chair, Representative James Clyburn, said the companies' "abuses may have violated the law," and relevant findings would continue to face investigation and "potential enforcement action" from federal and state agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.All of the companies also "had policies or practices that allowed filing eviction cases even when a tenant had applied for rental assistance and was waiting for aid," the report said. Altogether, the four companies filed 14,744 evictions between March 15, 2020 and July 29, 2021." "The report clearly states that we did not engage in practices that were unlawful, a fact we know quite well since we work hard to follow the laws in all of our markets," the statement continued. In a response to Insider's request for comment, an Invitation Homes spokesperson said, "We responded transparently and in good faith to the Subcommittee's multiple requests over the past year.A House subcommittee report found four companies filed 14,700 evictions from March 2020 to July 2021. Another strategy from the executive, according to the report, was to call Child Protective Services on the tenant "if there are too many [occupants] and some are kids."

It’s Time to Invest in Climate Adaptation

Solutions that are low cost, proven to be effective, and have immediate impact include early warning systems for extreme weather events, coastal barriers, water desalination and wastewater treatment, vertical farming and hydroponic agriculture, improved cooling and insulation systems, 3D printed and modular housing, and many other measures.Currently, climate adaptation initiatives — that is, those that help people, animals, and plants to survive despite rising climate volatility rather than trying to reverse it — receive only 6% of climate-related investment.We advocate for solutions that are low cost, proven to be effective, and have immediate impact, such as early warning systems for extreme weather events, coastal barriers, water desalination and wastewater treatment, vertical farming and hydroponic agriculture, improved cooling and insulation systems, 3D printed and modular housing, and many other measures. Water and Agriculture Water scarcity is already a short-term crisis and an even greater long-term challenge that even the most robust mitigation initiatives cannot immediately address.According to a 2021 report from the Climate Policy Initiative, these types of initiatives receive only 7% of climate-related investment, allocated across a vast spectrum of needs such as flood and wildfire prevention, resilient agriculture, clean water supply, infrastructure modification, and population resettlement. Companies around the world are increasingly committing to climate change mitigation, pledging to reduce carbon emissions and water consumption across their operations and supply chains in an effort to slow the pace of global warming and better protect environmental ecosystems. We therefore believe that climate adaptation — helping people, animals, and plants to survive despite rising climate volatility — should be an equally urgent priority.Israeli firm Netafim (a $1 billion revenue company) has installed irrigation systems across more than 100 villages in India, using soil and plant data to direct measured doses of water to optimize yield while bringing down water consumption and fertilizer usage by 40%. Construction and Real Estate Our built environment is a major driver of climate change and must also be a key front in adaptation.As countries invest in cloud seeding to spur rainfall, plant drought-resistant seeds, and deploy atmospheric water capture systems, conserving water for agriculture is an obvious complementary effort. Our own Climate Alpha research suggests that investing early in climate-resilient geographies will generate more than 70% higher returns on real estate portfolios by 2030 alone. Fundamentally, climate adaptation is about evolving organizational and institutional practices and infrastructures and technologies in places that most need them — which is everywhere that faces risks such as floods and rising sea levels, droughts, and heat waves. The economic benefits of water conservation include saving money on water purchases, storage, and maintenance, all of which accrue to corporations and villagers alike.For example, the Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment (CCRI), an umbrella organization of more than 120 companies and other stakeholders representing more than $20 trillion in assets, have launched pilot projects focused on reinforcing infrastructure to withstand anticipated climate effects. Addressing climate change requires both mitigation and adaptation, and we believe the latter represents an even better business opportunity. Some of the most affordable water-related adaptation interventions involve rainwater harvesting and more efficient irrigation techniques. When governments, capital market investors, commercial lenders, and businesses from multinational corporations to small enterprises work together toward climate resilience, as well as mitigation, the result will be a stronger world economy.Particularly in regions such as India, where only 10% of potential water-saving measures have been implemented, these kind of adaptation efforts deserve significantly greater investment and scaling. A steady and efficiently managed water supply would also support more environmentally friendly agriculture such as hydro- and aquaponic food production.Olam, one of the world’s largest agri-business producers of rice, cotton, cocoa beans, and coffee that operates in 60 countries, is committing to reduce wastewater in the 30% of its upstream farms and plantations that are in water-stressed regions.London-based engineering consultancy Arup (which reports nearly $2 billion in annual revenue) has been ahead of the curve in carrying out flood control projects that increase natural water retention in Poland and flood alleviation schemes in England.Eventually, rather than building these habitats where people are, we will need to start moving certain populations to geographies less damaged by climate change, at lower risk of future effects, and with better resources and technology. Clean water generation is another essential and growing business opportunity. Astro Teller, director of the Google X Lab, suggests that we might also one day need “movable cities” to cope with climate effects. According to UN Habitat, at least three billion people will require better housing by the end of this decade, which means that 96,000 new homes need to be built each day between now and then.The houses are primarily made of wood sustainably sourced from Scandinavia because of its relatively lower climate impact, and about 14,000 of them have been erected across Sweden, Finland, Norway, and the United Kingdom, generating $250 million in revenue for the adaptation-focused manufacturer.Water is the biggest and most important input for human life and global agriculture and is thus essential for our health, sustenance, and productivity, and yet many heavily populated geographies are already stricken by shortages.Another company, Terraformation, meanwhile operates what might be the largest full-scale, purely solar-powered water desalination plant on a 45-acre reforestation project site in Hawaii.For example, from the Netherlands to Denmark and the Maldives to Singapore, developers and localities are planning or building floating cities that can rise with the tides and desalinate and recycle water for hydroponic agriculture.But, as a pair of OECD studies point out, widespread climate adaptation measures can have a positive impact on growth, especially in G-20 economies.Rainwater harvesting projects now represent a 5% and growing share of the portfolio of Kingspan, a leading Irish construction company whose low-energy insulation systems are featured in Bloomberg’s London headquarters and Singapore’s Changi airport.

The FTC just slapped Opendoor with a $62 million fine for 'misleading' customers about the true costs of its home-buying business

Opendoor Technologies/Glassdoor The agency also challenged the company's claim that it purchased homes at market prices, and said that the company's offers are, on average, below market value. "Opendoor promised to revolutionize the real estate market but built its business using old-fashioned deception about how much consumers could earn from selling their homes on the platform," Samuel Levine, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement provided by the agency. In a settlement announced on Monday, the FTC said Opendoor told customers that they could make more money selling their homes to it than they by selling homes traditionally. Opendoor, which bought 36,908 homes in 2021, is an instant buyer, or iBuyer, which buys homes directly from owners and then resells them, sometimes making small renovations to the home. The Federal Trade Commission is fining home-buying company Opendoor $62 million for "cheating" home sellers.It also said that the FTC's allegations were specifically related to homes Opendoor purchased between 2017 and 2019, and that the company has since already modified its marketing messages. The FTC said Opendoor misled home sellers by telling them they would make more by selling to it." The proposed order includes the $62 million fine, which the agency expects to use to pay back Opendoor customers who were bilked. The FTC detailed why Opendoor's marketing materials were deceptive in a 14-page report that included screenshots of Facebook ads and website charts of costs shown to customers. Opendoor issued its own statement Monday, noting that the company's leaders "strongly disagree" with the allegations but are settling with the commission anyway. The company disputes the allegations, though it says it has stopped using misleading marketing.The FTC found that in fact, most people who sold their homes to Opendoor made less money than they would have selling to regular buyers via a real-estate agent.The company is able to close on homes much more quickly than traditional buyers purchasing via a real-estate agent.

The 12 best cities to weather a housing-market downturn when a recession strikes

"If the U.S. does enter a recession, we're unlikely to see a housing-market crash like in the Great Recession because the factors affecting the economy are different," Sheharyar Bokhari, a senior economist at Redfin, said in a housing report."But a recession — or even a continued economic downturn that doesn't reach recession levels — would impact some local housing markets more than others. Bokhari says it's most likely to happen in popular migration destinations as demand from relocators and second-home seekers tends to fall during an economic downturn — a trend that has already begun." Redfin researchers looked at several indicators to rank cities on their chances of a housing market downturn in the case of a US recession. "As monthly mortgage payments skyrocket, buyers are quicker to back away from second homes than primary homes," Taylor Marr, deputy chief economist at Redfin, said in a statement. With buyer demand waning, Redfin's data shows cities with rapidly rising home prices are more at risk of downturn.But as fears of an economic recession spreads, they are now most at risk of facing a housing downturn, according to Redfin. As mortgage rates rise and uncertainty spreads, home prices have declined across the country.

Lumber prices fall to a new low this year as reality sets in that the housing market is 'going back to normal'

Email address By clicking ‘Sign up’, you agree to receive marketing emails from Insider as well as other partner offers and accept our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy Lumber prices continued their descent on Wednesday, falling as much as 5% to a new 2022 low of $495 per thousand board feet. The essential building commodity has seen a wild ride since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with prices peaking at a record high of $1,733 per thousand board feet as demand for homes picked up and supply chain woes plagued saw mills across Canada. Ultimately, the housing market is on its way back to normal, and that means lumber prices are likely to remain back in the normal trading range prior to 2020 of $200-$600 per thousand board feet. "For the last couple of years it's just been an unbelievable market where all the builders are taking orders, everybody is having phenomenal success, everybody is having phenomenal margins," LGI Homes CEO Eric Lipar said in the company's earnings conference call on Tuesday. The decline in lumber prices also backs up the view that based on it and other commodity prices that have fallen in recent months, inflation could finally be easing, something both the Fed and consumers are eagerly anticipating. That's good news for up and coming home buyers that have been boxed out of the market due to rising home prices and limited supply of homes for sale." "The last couple years are going to be an outlier as far as [home] pricing goes," LGI Homes CEO Eric Lipar said.But it's going to be similar to what it was two years and three years ago, because the last couple years are just going to be an outlier as far as [home] pricing goes," Lipar said.The weakness accelerated in 2022 as higher mortgage rates helped cool down the booming housing market, which fueled demand for lumber as homebuilders sought to cash in on the demand spike. LGI Homes is a builder of single family homes across Western and Southeastern states and has benefited from the higher margins amid the COVID-19 induced housing demand boom.Lumber prices continued their downtrend on Wednesday, falling 5% to a new 2022 low of $495 per thousand board feet.

Rats are making homes under car hoods in increasing numbers

Couple that seismic shift in rats’ everyday lives with the fact that many cars have organic wiring insulation that smells like food, and you start to see why there’s a problem. While there are certainly more rats living in New York City than in smaller towns, like, say, Chillicothe, Ohio, people in other areas are just as susceptible to chewing and damage from rodents. The New York Times reported that a surprising number of people in the city are experiencing major car problems from rats and other rodents.There is debate over whether organic materials like soy-based wiring insulation attract rodents.Those that don’t are still at risk because wild animals of all types are attracted to warm, safe spaces, which is precisely what an engine compartment feels like after living on the street.Mechanical issues, damage from collisions and accidents, and replacing worn items like tires are all common and expected parts of owning cars.Without dumpsters full of fresh restaurant food, rats have been forced to move to other food sources, and outdoor dining has provided streetside meals to the hungry scavengers.Still, the reality is that many people find their wires chewed in addition to evidence of rodents living in the engine bay.Food scraps, trash, and other waste present a smorgasbord of aromas and tastes for animals of all types, so for a city the size of New York, the solution will require significant effort and investment. Parsons believes improvements in “urban hygiene,” as he calls it, will help curb the rodent problem.You could also try an under-hood rodent repeller, like this device that uses LED lights and ultrasound to deter pests.

Amazon wants to map your home, so it bought iRobot

Amazon now owns four smart home brands (in addition to its Alexa platform, anchored by its Echo smart speakers and smart displays): home security company Ring, budget camera company Blink, and mesh Wi-Fi pioneers Eero. Knowing your floor plan provides context, and in the smart home, context is king This type of data is digital gold to a company whose primary purpose is to sell you more stuff.With detailed maps of our homes and the ability to communicate directly with more smart home devices once Matter arrives, Amazon’s vision of ambient intelligence in the smart home suddenly becomes a lot more attainable. “We really believe in ambient intelligence — an environment where your devices are woven together by AI so they can offer far more than any device could do on its own,” Marja Koopmans, director of Alexa smart home, told me in an interview last month. With context, the smart home becomes smarter; devices can work better and work together without the homeowner having to program them or prompt them to do so. Astro — Amazon’s “lovable” home bot — was likely an attempt at getting that data. Ring’s Always Home Cam has similar mapping capabilities, allowing the flying camera to safely navigate your home. From a smart home perspective, it seems clear Amazon wants iRobot for the maps it generates to give it that deep understanding of our homes.When I spoke to iRobot’s Colin Angle earlier this summer, he said iRobot OS — the latest software operating system for its robot vacuums and mops — would provide its household bots with a deeper understanding of your home and your habits.And in the smart home that Amazon is making a major play for, context is king.While I’m interested to see how Amazon can leverage iRobot’s tech to improve its smart home ambitions, many are right to be concerned with the privacy implications.Add in iRobot and Amazon has many of the elements needed to create an almost sentient smart home, one that can anticipate what you want it to do and do it without you asking.People want home automation to work better, but they don’t want to give up the intimate details of their lives for more convenience.But if I don’t know where the kitchen is, and I don’t know where the refrigerator is, and I don’t know what a beer looks like, it really doesn’t matter that I understand your words.” Each of iRobot’s connected Roomba vacuums and mops trundles around homes multiple times a week, mapping and remapping the spaces.(Currently, users can opt out of Roomba’s Smart Maps feature, which stores mapping data and shares it between iRobot devices.)Instead, it probably picked up the company (for a relative bargain — iRobot just reported a 30 percent revenue decline in the face of increasing competition) to get a detailed look inside our homes.But for a thousand dollars and with limited capabilities (it couldn’t vacuum your home) and no general release date, Astro isn’t getting that info for Amazon anytime soon.Echo smart speakers and now its thorough knowledge of your floor plan, give it a pretty complete picture of your daily life. This is a conundrum throughout the tech world, but in our homes, it’s far more personal.Amazon will need to do a lot more to prove it’s worthy of this type of unfettered access to your home.Amazon’s history of sharing data with police departments through its subsidiary Ring, combined with its “always listening (for the wake word)”The robot has good mapping capabilities, powered by sensors and cameras that allow it to know everything from where the fridge is to which room you are currently in.On its latest model, the j7, iRobot added a front-facing, AI-powered camera that, according to Angle, has detected more than 43 million objects in people’s homes. All this makes it likely this purchase isn’t about robotics; if that’s what Amazon wanted, it would have bought iRobot years ago.

The iRobot Deal Would Give Amazon Maps Inside Millions of Homes

In 2020, Amazon introduced a home security drone, and last month Ring, a company that’s forged partnerships with thousands of police and fire departments, admitted to sharing home video footage with law enforcement without a warrant. Amazon declined to respond to questions about how it would use that data, but combined with other recent acquisition targets, the company could wind up with a comprehensive look at what’s happening inside people’s homes.Should law enforcement or governments demand access, so much data about people in the hands of a single company poses the threat of being a single point of failure for democracy and human rights, Greer says.In a 2017 Reuters interview, iRobot CEO Colin Angle suggested the company might someday share that data with tech companies developing smart home devices and AI assistants.“Amazon wants to have its hands everywhere, and acquiring a company that’s essentially built on mapping the inside of people’s homes seems like a natural extension of the surveillance reach that Amazon already has.” “People tend to think of Amazon as an online seller company, but really Amazon is a surveillance company. Amazon home robots are currently unable to coordinate activity between multiple units, but Washington said climbing stairs and coordination between Astros on multiple floors are part of the product development roadmap.Since launch, Amazon pushed an update to Astro that allows people to add rooms to a home map without the need to remap an entire home. The company already has its own home robot, Astro, which it introduced last fall.At the time, Amazon senior vice president of devices and services David Limp said the company launched the robot with no defined use case.After decades of creating war machines and home cleaning appliances, iRobot agreed to be acquired by Amazon for $1.7 billion, according to a joint statement by the two companies.In an interview with WIRED in June, Amazon vice president of consumer robotics Ken Washington said the initial focus is home monitoring and security.Speakers and other devices with AI assistant Alexa can now control thousands of smart home devices, including Roomba vacuums.If the deal goes through, it would give Amazon access to yet another wellspring of personal data: interior maps of Roomba owners’ homes. Amazon has a track record of making or acquiring technology that makes those concerned with data privacy uneasy.

Home sellers are offering more wiggle room on prices now that the 'artificial' real estate market has peaked, says broker Stephanie Vitacco

Email address By clicking ‘Sign up’, you agree to receive marketing emails from Insider as well as other partner offers and accept our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy Equity Union real estate broker Stephanie Vitacco says the "artificial" housing market of rock bottom mortgage rates is over and it's time for buyers to get "picky" again. "The market slowdown is giving buyers more opportunities to negotiate, especially with sellers whose homes have been on the market for a while," Jessica Nelson, a South Carolina real estate agent with Redfin, said in a statement. "Buyers, who earlier this year had to race to beat the competition, can now take their time touring homes and perhaps even wait to see if sellers drop the price," Daryl Fairweather, Redfin chief economist, said in a housing report. Buyers can get picky again Buyers are slowing their roll in the real estate market.Data from real estate brokerage Redfin shows that for the four week period ending on July 17, the typical home spent 19 days on the market — one day longer than it did in 2021.Although it was a small gain, July marked the first time since the onset of the pandemic that the median time on market posted a year-over-year gain.If they don't, their home may end up sitting on the market and they may have to drop their price—possibly more than once—to attract buyers."Real estate broker Stephanie Vitacco says the US has been in an "artificial" housing market for the past two years. Sign up for our newsletter to receive our top stories based on your reading preferences — delivered daily to your inbox. Vitacco says although sellers got used to "crazy bidding wars" they are lucky if they even get an offer now.Additionally, during that time, the portion of homes selling above list price fell for the first time since June 2020.Data from Redfin shows that with less people competing for homes, the share of sellers slashing their asking prices hit an all-time high in July. That's because historically low mortgage rates have led to unprecedented buyer competition.

Say goodbye to bidding wars: the number of homes on the market just spiked at a record pace

It's now housing supply — not demand — that's surging at a record pace. Soaring mortgage rates have also played a major role in slowing homebuyer demand and the housing market's price surge. The uptick amounted to 176,000 more homes actively for sale on an average July day than in the year-ago period, Sabrina Speianu, economic data manager at Realtor.com, said in the report. The steady increase quickly stifled the housing demand that drove prices sharply higher throughout the pandemic. Housing market activity has quickly cooled as soaring mortgage rates crush buyer demand.While that's still well above the pre-pandemic pace of roughly 4%, the recent influx of supply and slower sales rates signal home inflation could be turning a corner. The total supply of unsold homes rose by 3.5%, reflecting the first increase since September 2019. The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage now sits at 4.99%.The S&P Case-Shiller National Home Price Index dipped to a 19.7% year-over-year pace in May, down from 20.6% the month prior. In just one year, the story of the US housing market has completely flipped. That marked the third straight month of record-breaking inventory growth. The rebound in home supply is a welcome development for Americans looking to buy their first house.The national inventory of available homes rose by 30.7% in the year through July, according to a Realtor.com report published Tuesday. Sign up for our newsletter to receive our top stories based on your reading preferences — delivered daily to your inbox.

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