The Daily Valet. - 1/12/24, Friday

✔️ Is the Barcode Dying?

A programming note ... we will be off on Monday, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We'll see you back here on Tuesday.

The Daily Valet.
The Daily Valet.

Friday, January 12th Edition

Cory Ohlendorf

By Cory Ohlendorf, Valet. Editor

It’s been one long week, huh? But today’s Friday and I have a feeling it’s going to be a great day.

Today’s Big Story

Is the Barcode Dying?

It may’ve engineered its own downfall. And did you know it was almost a bull’s-eye?

bar codes

Beep. That's the sound of a barcode getting scanned. Few objects in the world are more immediately recognizable than those tall skinny lines all bunched up together. And they're everywhere and on everything. I love looking at old packaging on vintage products in antique stores ... the lack of barcodes is so wild. So they just, what, rang up whatever price was slapped on it? What a time.But now? More than 6 billion bar codes are scanned every single day around the world. They've become such an accepted part of our daily lives that it's hard to imagine how they could look any different. It wasn't until a technology researcher started digging into the origin story of barcodes for a book that he discovered just how close we came to a world where we scan bull's-eye or Sun symbols to buy stuff.The Conversation says it all started in 1949, when Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver submitted a patent for the first bar code. That patent described the basic structure of using pairs of lines to represent numbers that is still used in bar code technology more than 70 years later. What that patent didn't include, however, was anything most people today would recognize as a bar code. In fact, the design didn't include vertical lines at all. Instead, it used a series of concentric circles in the shape of a dartboard.Eventually, an IBM design, invented in the early 1970s by George Laurier, with that familiar rectangular, zebra-striped look, became the accepted format. Those black-and-white lines are machine speak for an item's Universal Product Code. That UPC is why a cashier (or self-serve kiosk) can so quickly scan your stuff while maintaining inventory. It's also a large part of why stores can have such a paralyzing number of options. When the barcode officially debuted in 1974, the average supermarket stocked less than 9,000 products. Today, you will find more than 30,000.According to The Atlantic, the barcode has become “the plumbing of global capitalism—revolutionary, pervasive, forgettable.” But the barcode's success in building an America that crams its stores with an ever-expanding pile of stuff might finally be its undoing. The humble unchanging design is finally falling behind in the world it helped create. Anyone can make a QR code with a few clicks, but creating a UPC barcode is a much more complicated and involved process. The barcode won't formally be phased out, but it seems destined to disappear from price tags and packages more and more as QR codes take over. It had one helluva run though, huh?


The FTC says scammers are using QR codes to steal personal information by imitating legitimate companies or sending deceptive emails and text messages.

U.S.-Led Coalition Strikes Iran-Aligned Houthi Militants

AMerican and British militaries launch massive retaliatory strike after rebels' 27th attack in red sea

The United States and five of its allies on Thursday carried out military strikes against more than a dozen targets in Yemen controlled by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia, in an expansion of the war in the Middle East that the Biden administration had sought to avoid for the past three months.The American-led air and naval strikes came in response to more than two dozen Houthi drone and missile attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea since November. The hostility (a protest of Israel's military campaign in Gaza) has disrupted global trade by making the vital passage a dangerous place for ships to transit. President Biden said the strikes were meant to demonstrate that the U.S. and its allies “will not tolerate” the militant group's attacks. And he said they only made the move after attempts at diplomatic negotiations and careful deliberation.According to the Washington Post, American officials have blamed Iran for having “aided and abetted” the crisis in the Red Sea, saying the Houthis would be incapable of threatening the shipping route if not for Tehran's technological and intelligence support.

Dig Deeper:

Who exactly are Yemen's Houthis? The Washington Post explores what the militants want exactly.

Is Rolex Making a Smartphone?

As if the titanium iPhone 15 Pro wasn't expensive enough 

Did you hear the chatter on social media yesterday about a Rolex ... phone? You know that Rolex is the top name in watchmaking. But did you know that they account for nearly a third of the Swiss watch market? Impressive. Gear Patrol wonders if “it's time for the Crown to expand and find another industry to dominate. Specifically, the smartphone market.” At least, that's what a new report would have us believe.Several tech sites were claiming Thurday that Chinese technology brand Realme was partnering with Rolex on a special version of its upcoming Realme 12 Pro smartphone. The report is based on an allegedly leaked image of an ad showing the phone alongside a Rolex Datejust, with copy in the ad describing the collaboration. But is it real, or is the image a hoax? The allegedly leaked ad was certainly a little suspect. A few of the details didn't quite add up.Not to mention, this isn't happening at CES—which wraps up today, but would make the ideal place to tease the phone. And then finally, on Thursday afternoon, GP got official confirmation from Rolex and was told simply, “This information is false.”

THere's Precedent:

In 2022, designers created a $135,000 version of an Apple iPhone with a real Rolex Daytona on the back.

A Weekend Pairing

‘Self Reliance’ + a Bottle of Storm Point

Self Reliance

After premiering at 2023's SXSW festival, Self Reliance, the directorial debut of Jake Johnson (from New Girl and The Minx) is finally making its way to Hulu. Johnson plays a loner named Tommy Walcott who gets invited to play a dark web competition game worth one million dollars in winnings if he can survive it. Can a movie be both a comedy and a thriller?You see, he has to survive for 30 days while an international pack of ninja-like assassins tries to kill him. A loophole forbids his murder unless he's alone, so Tommy must persuade someone to shadow him 24/7—bedroom and bathroom included. The film has some buzz and has gotten positive reviews—especially thanks to an impressive cast including Andy Samberg, Anna Kendrick and Christopher Lloyd. One critic said all of the lovable awkwardness of the movie feels “like an allegory for the way many of us had to shake off the cobwebs of social interaction after two years of holing up in our houses.”

Pair It With

Storm Point wine

There's a pivotal scene in the film with the two drinking wine, so why not join them? Red blends are all the rage these days and not just from the U.S. South Africa has been on this trend for a while now and this affordable blend of Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan provides an impressive balance for a $15 wine.

Also Worth a Watch:

Lift’ on Netflix; ‘Role Play’ on Prime Video

In Other News

COVID cases

The curves on some COVID-19 graphs are looking quite steep, again.

Have you heard about ...

Highway signs
31 Days

How to End a Conversation

There's a smoother way to wrap things up

Ending a conversation

We’ve all been in this situation before, right? At a social event, work function or dinner party, where someone's talking to you, but you've lost all interest in what they're saying. The other person just keeps talking and now you're wondering how you can get away without coming off as rude. Perhaps you just had a really interesting and fruitful discussion with someone, but you've heard enough and would like to move on. How do you wrap things up without offending the other person?We've talked in the past about how to be a better conversationalist, but what about when you want to end a conversation? That's a valuable skill as well. After all, you don't have unlimited time, so knowing how to gracefully bow out of a conversation is a classy move. A real gentleman understands that the way you end a chat is just as important as how you start it. Consider this your escape plan.



What We’re Buying

A little something under $20

20 under $20

You may have the retail itch in your wallet, and we're here to help scratch that. I've been told I'm a bad influence whenever it comes to retail therapy, but we all need a treat sometimes, right? But who said that to find something nice you have to spend a lot? We've rounded up a few items that are budget approved and all under 20 bucks. These cost-conscious picks will have you smelling good and feeling good while keeping plenty of money in your pocket.

Get Shopping:

Morning Motto

Enjoy the good stuff

The real luxuries: the opportunity to do it all again.


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