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Jobless Claims Surge to 316K

Jobless Claims Surge to 316K

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Jobless claims climbed higher last week, increasing by 19,000, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Labor Department.For the week ending Jan. 10, the number of people filing for unemployment benefits spiked to 316,000. The previous week claims stood at 297,000, revised up from 294,000.The Labor Department said there were no "special factors" impacting that week's figures.The four-week moving average rose to 298,000 from last week’s revised average of 291,250.

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Wealthy Women Investors Are Younger, Smarter and More Adventurous than Men

Wealthy Women Investors Are Younger, Smarter and More Adventurous than Men

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — No doubt about it. Female investors whose household incomes exceed $200,000 have a leg up on their male counterparts in just about every area.The Spectrem Group, a research and analysis organization for financial advisers that put together the study, says that while the average age of high-income men is 63, it’s only 50 for women on average.Is it because women are smarter? That could very well be since 93 percent of high-income women have a college education with just 75 percent of men able to make the same claim.Meanwhile, the percentage of high-income women and men with advanced degrees is 35 percent to 13 percent, respectively.And as far as taking more risks with their portfolios, women are the hands-down winners once more. While just 32 percent of men say they’d be willing to take a risk, 54 percent of women were not fearful of doing so.George H. Walper Jr., president of the Spectrem Group, explains that the advantage continually goes to women investors because many “are business owners and are accustomed to making their own decisions.”

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American Coffee Lovers, Meet the ‘Flat White’

American Coffee Lovers, Meet the ‘Flat White’

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Australians have a well-deserved reputation as the most laid-back people in the world. No wonder, what with the endless beaches and perfect weather, the national slogan should be, “No worries mate!”But there is one thing that they are very particular about: Coffee. Sydneysiders take their morning java very, very seriously.Americans may not know about Australia’s obsessive coffee culture, but they’re about to get a taste. Starbucks announced that it is bringing one of Australia’s most popular drinks to the United States -- the “flat white.”Considered an unflamboyant café au lait, the “flat white” is an espresso and steamed milk drink that was invented in Australia in the 1980s.We traveled to Australia to meet some of the locals who have helped build the local coffee culture.“I dream about coffee, it’s the first thing I think of and the last thing I think of every single day,” said Sean McManus, the bearded and tattooed head coffee brewer at Single Origin Roasters in Sydney.Australia’s unlikely obsession with coffee is thanks to the influx of Italian immigrants who arrived there after World War II, bringing with them a passion for coffee.“I wouldn’t use the word picky or snobby,” said Myffy Rigby, chief food & drink critic at Time Out Sydney. “I just think we have a very clear idea of what we like to drink. You might come to some cafés to drink a slightly roasted South American blend, you’ll go to others to drink something that’s ballsy and deeply roasted and heavily extracted.”Since then, coffee-mad Aussies have even developed a secret local language that might baffle outsiders. To understand this foreign coffee language, we asked McManus for a crash course on the ins-and-outs of an Australian coffee menu.First, there’s the piccolo, which is a romantic-sounding Italian term that just means small. In Australian coffee terms, it refers to a small latte.Then there is the short black, which is not Italian or romantic, but provides insight into the Australian’s straightforward approach to names.“Australia has a tendency to name everything as it is so a short black is literally a short black coffee,” said McManus.The machiatto and ristretto are both espresso drinks -- the first is served with a small amount of milk, and the ristretto -- meaning limited in Italian -- is an espresso extracted with about half the water of a normal cup.As for the flat white? Starbucks describes the offering as a cup of "expertly steamed milk poured over ristretto shots of espresso and finished with a Starbucks signature dot."

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RadioShack Could File for Bankruptcy As Soon As Next Month

RadioShack Could File for Bankruptcy As Soon As Next Month

benkrut/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- RadioShack Corp. could file for bankruptcy as soon as next month.According to the Wall Street Journal, a filing could come in the first week of February. The electronics chain said in a December 2014 filing that "there can be no assurance that our efforts to further restructure our debt or operations will be successful." Further, the company said, "we may be required to seek to implement in-court bankruptcy proceedings, which could result in a default on our debt with our lenders and/or the liquidation of the company."The company had acknowledged financial difficulties and said it had closed 175 underperforming stores in the 2014 fiscal year.

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Mark Zuckerberg: Why Facebook Operates in Countries With Free Speech Restrictions

Mark Zuckerberg: Why Facebook Operates in Countries With Free Speech Restrictions

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- When asked at a town hall meeting in Colombia Wednesday why Facebook continues to operate in countries that may restrict freedom of speech, Mark Zuckerberg brought the focus back to the reason why he founded the social network."This gets to the heart of our mission. We want to help connect everyone and give people a voice," Zuckerberg said.The CEO, who started Facebook when he was 19, said a government passing a law restricting speech should not get in the way of people in the country still being able to connect with friends and family."I really deeply believe we are best serving the world...by continuing to push for as much expression as possible," Zuckerberg said. He added that Facebook does push back when it is asked by governments to filter something.Zuckerberg was in Colombia to announce the Internet.org app that will be released in the country, providing mobile users free access to basic online services without having to purchase a data plan.It was his first visit to the South American country, and Zuckerberg charmed the crowd by telling them he was already well-versed in one of Colombia's biggest exports: Shakira."I’m a big fan of Shakira," he said when asked what he knew about Colombia before his visit. "I’m a really big fan. I don't speak Spanish but I like her Spanish music."

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Project Ara: Puerto Rico Will Be First to Get Google’s Modular Smartphone

Project Ara: Puerto Rico Will Be First to Get Google’s Modular Smartphone

Google(NEW YORK) --  Google announced Wednesday it is ready to launch Project Ara, the modular smartphone that allows users to customize the device of their dreams, with a limited market test in Puerto Rico.

 

The market pilot for Ara will be in Puerto Rico #AraDev

— Project Ara (@ProjectAra) January 14, 2015

The U.S. territory has a diverse smartphone user base, making it an ideal place to test out the phone, Paul Eremenko, the Project Ara director, said at a developer's conference.Billed as the phone for "six billion people," Project Ara lets users add various features to their phone, allowing them to get only the features they want and, most importantly, control the price.As new technology comes to market, users won't have to wait for a new phone and can instead just swap in the modules, empowering users to customize their technology.While the pricing was not immediately known, Google has said it hopes to keep the cost of the basic hardware between $50 to $100.

 

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Wall Street Drops Again After December Retail Numbers Lower than Previous Month

Wall Street Drops Again After December Retail Numbers Lower than Previous Month

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Wednesday marked another day of losses for Wall Street as December retail numbers came in lower than the previous month.The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 186.85, closing the day at 17,426.83.The Nasdaq slipped 22.18 to 4,639.32, while the S&P 500 fell to 2,011.29, down 11.74 from the previous day's close.The U.S. Census Bureau released the latest retail and food services data from December and noted that estimates placed those figures at 0.9 percent below November's data. Total sales for 2015 were up four percent, however.

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Why Rounds Video Chat App May Be the Next Big Thing

Why Rounds Video Chat App May Be the Next Big Thing

Rounds Entertainment Ltd.(NEW YORK) -- Say hello to Rounds, an app that has stealthily amassed millions of subscribers, attracted big-name investors and is now bursting onto the scene as the next big thing when it comes to staying connected.If Skype and WhatsApp got together and gave birth to a quirky child, it would be Rounds. The app offers the same free messaging users get from WhatsApp but also adds the options for video calls that can include up to 12 people in one session.It's in those group calls where the fun happens. Friends can do everything from play games and watch YouTube videos to surfing the Internet together.Dany Fishel, the co-founder and CEO of Rounds, said the app is all about "instantaneous connectivity meets fun and interactive shared experiences."With more than 25 million active users, Rounds has just a fraction of WhatsApp's estimated 700 million users.The app, however, has caught the eye of Sequoia Capital, the company that was the sole investor in WhatsApp, which was later acquired by Facebook.Rounds grabbed $12 million in funding Wednesday from a round led by Sequoia Capital, along with other high-profile backers, including Samsung Ventures and Verizon Ventures.Even if it doesn't swell to the size of WhatsApp, Rounds has at least one big achievement to brag about: Saving relationships.One reviewer wrote in the app store that she and her boyfriend are apart and use Rounds to keep in touch."Thanks to the geniuses who developed this app," she wrote. "You may very well save[d] our relationship."Rounds is free for iOS and Android users.

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How Milwaukee Brewers’ Unlimited ‘Timeless Ticket’ Works

How Milwaukee Brewers’ Unlimited ‘Timeless Ticket’ Works

Milwaukee Brewers(MILWAUKEE) -- The ultimate Milwaukee Brewers fan has the chance to attend home games at Miller Park, whether 2015 or 2050, with what's called a "Timeless Ticket."Only 1,000 of these tickets have been available since October 2014. They cost $1,000 and include a brass engraved ticket in a wooden stand, weighing one pound.It allows a fan to get one ticket to any game -- whether it's Opening Day or the World Series. This week, the team announced an added benefit: Now, there's the opportunity to redeem it for tickets to nine additional Brewers home games, excluding Opening Day and the playoffs.Though $1,000 is steep for some, that's about what it could cost to attend a future World Series game alone. Tickets at past World Series have frequently sold for $1,000 (and even higher) on the secondary market.Having said that, no one knows for sure how soon the Brewers could be playing in the World Series.

Last season, the Brewers won 82 games and lost 80. The team has only made it to the World Series once (in 1982), but they lost the series to the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-3.To redeem the "Timeless Ticket," the ticket holder needs to contact the Brewers box office with their individual information, plus a photo ID and the date of the game."After redemption, the owner of the 'Timeless Ticket' will keep the personalized brass statue to display," the Brewers' website says. "In addition, 'Timeless Ticket' holders may purchase up to three additional companion tickets for the redeemed game at the single game box office price."

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New Company Lets You Send Glitter to Ex, Rude Neighbor

New Company Lets You Send Glitter to Ex, Rude Neighbor

Shipyourenemiesglitter.com(NEW YORK) -- Getting even with your ex-lover, nasty neighbor, or irritating coworker just got a lot easier.An Australian company, Shipyourenemiesglitter.com, helps customers anonymously prank people who make their blood boil by sending them an envelope filled with glitter."I've received Christmas and birthday cards over the years from family and friends who put glitter in the cards," said Mathew Carpenter, developer at shipyourenemiesglitter.com. "I hated it and I wanted the rest of the world to feel my pain, so that's how the website was born."After you've chosen who will be on the receiving end of a sparkly surprise, enter an address and Ship Your Enemies Glitter will anonymously send an envelope filled with glitter to anyone you wish.A note will also be included informing the recipient why they've been sent this hard-to-remove gift.The note will be mixed among the flecks, "thus increasing maximum spillage," according to the company website.For a flat fee of $9.99 in Australian dollars (about $8.15 in U.S. dollars), the service ships glitter-filled envelopes to any location in the world.Ship Your Enemies Glitter launched on Jan. 12 and said it already has made thousands of dollars in sales."It's only been 24 hours," Carpenter told ABC News. "However, the overall reaction has been extremely positive."For a grosser prank, online services like poopsenders.com will actually send animal feces to the people you loathe most.

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Mark Zuckerberg Holding International Facebook Town Hall in Colombia

Mark Zuckerberg Holding International Facebook Town Hall in Colombia

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Mark Zuckerberg will host his third Facebook town hall Wednesday afternoon, this time from Colombia, where users in Latin America will have the opportunity to ask him their most pressing questions.If the questions on Zuckerberg's "Q&A With Mark" page are any indication, the CEO will likely face some tough topics, including the role he believes Facebook should have with governments and poverty in Colombia.Zuckerberg has held two previous public forums from the Facebook office in Menlo Park, California, where he has tackled everything from serious product questions and global affairs to what he likes on his pizza. (Spoiler Alert: Fried chicken.)There's still time to submit a question for consideration on Zuckerberg's Q&A page.

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Why Hundreds of Chipotle Restaurants Don’t Have Pork on Menu

Why Hundreds of Chipotle Restaurants Don’t Have Pork on Menu

marcnorman/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Hundreds of Chipotle restaurants aren't serving pork after the national chain suspended a supplier for violating its standards.Disappointed customers found signs this week that read, "Sorry, No Carnitas" outside restaurants.As part of Chipotle's "Food With Integrity" program, the company says it has chosen meat from pigs that are "naturally raised," without antibiotics and are fed a vegetarian diet since 2001, according to its website.The company has chosen to serve "naturally raised" beef since 1999, but sometimes faces limited supplies of antibiotic-free cows."Once-in-awhile we do experience a shortage in certain areas of the country and we’ll let you know at the restaurants if that happens," Chipotle says on its website.As an alternative to meat, the company is marketing its vegan tofu topping Sofritas, introduced in July 2013, with a promotion. Their new promotion can earn you a free entree just for buying one of their tofu-based meals. Buy a Sofritas entree on Jan. 26 and use the receipt to get a free entree of your choice between Jan. 27 and Feb. 28.Chipotle, which had 1,724 restaurants as of Sept. 30, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

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With Recalls in the Spotlight, Chinese Giant to Work with US on Safety

With Recalls in the Spotlight, Chinese Giant to Work with US on Safety

Hong Wu/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a first-of-its-kind agreement, a huge China-based company has agreed to work with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to stop illegal and recalled products from being sold to American consumers -- a dangerous problem the U.S. is mightily struggling with domestically, as a recent ABC News investigation found.Calling the unprecedented agreement “a victory for U.S. consumers and their safety,” CSPC Chairman Elliot Kaye said Tuesday that Alibaba Group, the largest online and e-commerce company in the world, will now work closely with the commission, including being given lists of potentially dangerous, recalled products to remove from sale. Kaye made the announcement at the Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair.Alibaba boasted 300 million annual active buyers in 2014. The company does not sell products directly to consumers, but rather connects buyers and sellers of everything from oysters to iPhones.In recent years, the company has been heavily criticized for not doing enough to remove counterfeit products being sold on its sites. Alibaba says it has spent over $160 million to block counterfeit products -- removing 114 million listings -- and bolster consumer protections. The company went public late last year.A company spokesperson told ABC News Wednesday that U.S. customers account for a “small percentage” of Alibaba’s buyers, but that given the reach of the company -- larger than eBay and Amazon combined -- Wednesday’s move is “still impactful.” He added that the CPSC commitment beefs up protocol the company already had in place to look for recalled products on its sites.Wednesday’s agreement comes just two months after an ABC News investigation in which CPSC Chairman Kaye revealed that some 80 percent of products recalled in the U.S. generally remain unaccounted for -- and that’s a “good” recall. Other times, 95 percent of potentially dangerous recalled products remain outside government control, many on store shelves, available online or inside American homes.During the ABC News report, Kaye singled out the classified online site Craigslist for not doing enough to keep potentially hazardous, recalled products out of people’s homes. While Kaye called Craigslist “morally irresponsible,” the company insisted to ABC News that it indeed takes appropriate steps to thwart the sale of hazardous products.On Wednesday, Kaye told ABC News he met with Craigslist executives on his way to Hong Kong for this week’s convention and believes the CPSC is “now engaged in a positive and productive dialogue” with that company to implement safeguards against recalled products on the site.And it appears the CPSC head took the momentum from the Craigslist dustup directly to Hong Kong.In a blog posted early Wednesday, the CPSC noted, “Last November, Chairman Elliot F. Kaye made national headlines for urging certain online sites to take far greater responsibility for preventing the sale of dangerous, recalled consumer products on or through their sites. Today, the Chairman announced a ground-breaking voluntary consumer safety collaboration between the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Alibaba Group Holding Limited, the largest online and mobile commerce company in the world.”Alibaba’s Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs on Wednesday praised the CPSC, saying the company is proud of the just-announced agreement.“Chairman Kaye is a strong leader with an excellent track record of results in protecting U.S. consumers,” Jim Wilkinson said in a statement. “We look forward to working collaboratively with the Chairman and his team to do everything possible to protect consumers.”

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The Startup that Wouldn’t Bite on $30M “Shark Tank” Tease

The Startup that Wouldn’t Bite on $30M “Shark Tank” Tease

Tony Rivetti/ABC(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The three sisters who rejected the biggest "offer" ever on ABC's Shark Tank don’t regret their decision not to sell their dating app, they said."Who knows? If we had those guys, maybe it could have been different. But at the end of the day, I think we are doing very well without those guys," Arum Kang told ABC News station KGO-TV in San Francisco.In the most recent episode of Shark Tank, season six, billionaire Mark Cuban offered the Kang sisters (Arum, Dawoon and Soo) $30 million to buy their company, Coffee Meets Bagel."We would not have accepted any buyout offers at this point, even from Mark Cuban,” chief operating officer Dawoon Kang told ABC News. “The reason is we know we can grow Coffee Meets Bagel to be a much bigger company -- this generation's Match -- and to sell our company right now, we would have sold ourselves short. We would have loved to have him as an investor though, because he is a very sharp tech investor and really knowledgeable in this field.”The sisters hoped to raise $500,000 in exchange for 5 percent equity in the company, which they say is distinct for its appeal to women."There is a saying out there that 'Once you attract women, men will just follow,' and this is totally true," Arum told KGO.The dating app is free for users, but makes money when customers use premium services. All Coffee Meets Bagel users sign up through Facebook, and are matched with mutual acquaintances at noon each day.

"One of the most popular features," the sisters said, is called "open sesame," which costs 95 "beans," and reveals who your mutual friends are."When we actually give you a match, who is a friend of a friend, there is actually a 47 percent more likely chance that the match, the introduction, will result in a mutual like," Dawoon told KGO.The company has raised $2.8 million in external funding so far, including from one of the co-founders of Match.com.Dallas Mavericks owner Cuban first said he didn't want to invest when the sisters wouldn't reveal the exact number of users they had, instead providing a range of 100,000 to 500,000.Though the "sharks" were impressed with Coffee Meets Bagel's revenue and fundraising, they declined to invest, expressing disapproval at their spending. On top of paying developers, the founders said they each earn $100,000 salaries a year. But they note that that's a "significant" pay cut from their previous jobs."Let me ask you a question," Cuban said to the sisters on the show, which was presumably taped last year. "If I offered you $30 million for the company, would you take it?"But the sisters declined the offer, pointing to Match.com's $800 million revenue in a year.In 2013, Coffee Meets Bagel made $87,000, the sisters said. In the first five months of 2014, the company made about $270,000. Last year, Coffee Meets Bagel forecasted making $1 million, the sisters said during the taping. In 2015, the company plans to make $10 million, but will break even while it spends more to acquire about four million users.Those users will generate about $2.50 each. At the time of the show taping, the customer acquisition cost was 30 cents. The company plans to spend about $3 million to $4 million on marketing spending, a slight increase, the sisters said.Cuban did not respond to ABC News' request for comment.

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Google Translate App Bridges Language Barriers in Real Time

Google Translate App Bridges Language Barriers in Real Time

David Paul Morris/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Google announced groundbreaking updates Wednesday to its translation app that will allow users to carry on a conversation in two different languages.The app allows users to select the two languages they're working with and then once the app is in conversation mode, it will take care of the rest, allowing the users to have a more spontaneous and fluid conversation.Google said the update can handle 38 languages in conversation mode, virtually dissolving the language barrier for globe trotters and people with families that may converse in several languages.Even in areas without a data connection or Internet service, the app is still operational in camera mode. Snap a photo of the text and Google will provide a translation in three-dozen languages.Skype last month unveiled a preview of a similar service in English and Spanish that allows users to converse in real-time.Skype, owned by Microsoft, said its "long-term goal for speech translation is to translate as many languages as possible on as many platforms."

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Job Openings in November Reach 14-Year High

Job Openings in November Reach 14-Year High

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — There were almost five million job openings in the U.S. last November, the Labor Department reported Tuesday.That figure represents the highest number of openings offered by employers since January 2001.Overall, openings jumped 2.9 percent from October 2014 to 4.97 million in November 2014.What's more, the increase was only partly fueled by seasonal hirings, meaning that employers are likely to hire more people throughout 2015 than they did last year.The surge in job openings could also bode well for boosting wages, which have been largely stagnant since the economy climbed out of the Great Recession five years ago.

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Apple’s iTunes No Longer Offering Free Single of the Week?

Apple’s iTunes No Longer Offering Free Single of the Week?

JOHN D MCHUGH/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Apple seems to have done away with its popular "Free iTunes Single of the Week" promotion, which used to allow iTunes users to download a free music single download each week.The promotion would begin each Tuesday with a select track -- or in some cases multiple tracks -- for free. The tracks selected for iTunes users were from a variety of genres and levels of popularity. While there has been no official announcement regarding the end of the promotion, the "Free on iTunes" section of the iTunes Music Store has been removed and there have been no free singles listed in 2015.

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Oil Prices Hit Six-Year Low as Wall Street Tumbles Again

Oil Prices Hit Six-Year Low as Wall Street Tumbles Again

tarabird/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street dipped again on Tuesday as oil prices fell to a six-year low.The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 27.16 to close at 17,613.68.The Nasdaq slipped 3.21 to end the session at 4,661.50, and the S&P 500 tumbled 5.23 to a close of 2,023.03.The national average for a gallon of gas has fallen to just $2.14, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. According to GasBuddy, 45 of the 50 states have at least one gas station selling gas at under $2 per gallon.Among the causes of the decreasing price of oil are increased U.S. production, continued flow from nations under the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries banner, and an economic slowdown in Europe.

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Where to Find the Cheapest Gas in the Country

Where to Find the Cheapest Gas in the Country

Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The cheapest gas in the country costs less than a bottle of soda or cup of coffee.A gas station in Tomball, Texas -- Stripes -- is selling a gallon of regular unleaded gas for $1.42 Tuesday morning. The price is 62 cents below the national average of $2.14 a gallon, which is among the country’s lowest levels for gas prices in five years.Stations in 45 states are selling gas for under $2 a gallon, according to Gasbuddy.com. No stations in these five states, as of Tuesday morning, were selling gas for less than $2 a gallon: Hawaii, Alaska, California, Vermont and Pennsylvania.Gas prices have dropped significantly since June, when the national average for a gallon of gas was $3.64.On average, you can now fill up your tank for $36.38. Back in June, that same amount of money would have bought you a little over half a tank, enough to go about 233 miles, according to the Energy Information Administration.U.S. oil production and European economic concerns have contributed to the dip in gas prices.

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Microsoft Ends Free Support for Windows 7

Microsoft Ends Free Support for Windows 7

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It's the beginning of the end for Microsoft Windows 7.Microsoft is cutting off free support on Tuesday for the ever-popular operating system ahead of the company's release of Windows 10 this year.Computers running Windows 7 will continue to work as usual, however Microsoft will no longer provide free assistance for any issues that arise and no new features will be added, the company announced.Microsoft will continue to provide security patches as needed until the extended support date of Jan. 14, 2020.Under Microsoft's policy, the company offers mainstream support "for a minimum of 5 years from the date of a product's general availability, or for 2 years after the successor product is released, whichever is longer."Windows 7 was released in 2009. The follow-up, Windows 8, was released in October 2012.Microsoft fanatics may notice that the company skipped over its sequential naming conventions, jumping over the No. 9 for the upcoming version of the software, which is slated for release this year.It's something a company spokesman said signals how the Windows has evolved."Windows 10 carries Windows forward into a new way of doing things," a spokesperson told ABC News after it was announced in September of last year. "It is not an incremental change, but a new Windows that will empower the next billion users."

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