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Yelp Reviews For Places You Can't (or shouldn't) Go

With its user-generated reviews and recommendations, Yelp can be great for trying to find a fun spot for dinner. But there are plenty of profiles that aren't so helpful, and not just because of the quality of the reviews. Pages have sprung up for fake restaurants, jokes from Onion articles and even websites. Check out these strange Yelp reviews and be sure to chime in in the comments with your most bizarre Yelp sighting.

"Great sea urchin ceviche"

Dorsia, in New York's Flatiron district, is one of the hottest and most exclusive restaurants. Judging by the reviews, it's almost impossible to get a reservation and even if you do, it's still a pricey meal (four dollar signs). That said, the sea urchin ceviche is great and New York Matinee hailed the peanut butter soup with smoked duck and mashed squash as a "playful, but mysterious little dish."

Fans of American Psycho will of course recognize Dorsia as the ultra-exclusive haunt of Patrick Bateman. And while some of the locations visited in the movie are real (check out this blog's slightly NSFW tour of Patrick Bateman's New York), Dorsia is not. The entire Yelp page (which lists Dorsia as closed) is full of references to the movie and inside jokes about how difficult it is to get a reservation. Some of the lower-rated reviews even touch on the fact that "nobody goes here anymore" and recommend Texarkana, another fake restaurant from the movie with a very real Yelp profile.

"The line for the Lazy River was crazy packed"

An Onion article about an "Abortionplex" in Kansas created an Internet sensation when the blog Literally Unbelievable collected Facebook comments from readers who thought the article was real. Then Yelp took the joke a step further by creating a (largely inappropriate) profile for the Topeka Abortionplex, complete with more than 200 comments. Based on the reviews, the center sounds pretty great: there's a lazy river tube ride, a puppet show, a selection of vegan cookies, a full bar and even an IHOP. However, a lot of visitors seem upset that their Groupons or Scoutmob deals weren't accepted.

The Yelp page, like a great Onion article, works as a pitch-perfect parody of both Yelp reviews and the Planned Parenthood debate -- there's even a reference to Sen. Jon Kyl.

"Ah! New York's little 'vacation' spot!"

Several of New York's jails have garnered rather positive reviews on Yelp. Rikers Island has 3.5 stars, Sing Sing gets a perfect 5 stars (granted, with only one review), but Manhattan Central Booking only gets 2. In a glowing Rikers Island review, one commenter praises the food as "fusion, with various flavors of American, French but mostly Jamaican food." Another calls it a "'holiday' spot."

Unlike other jokey Yelp pages, these reviews are actually real, albeit less than serious. One reviewer of Central Booking told the New York Post that she wrote the review after spending a night for a bar fight. "It was spontaneous and it gave me a laugh at the time," said Davisha Badone, who criticized the facility as "unfun" because "junkies in withdrawal do not make great conversation."

The trend has started to spread to jails in Austin, San Francisco and Indiana. San Quentin has even crossed over to FourSquare.

"The commercials are creepy"

Yelp may be great for restaurants and other physical places, but a number of reviewers have decided to use it for the digital world as well. For example, the dating website eHarmony.com only gets 1.5 stars, with many reviewers commenting on the overall troubles of online dating or the site's TV commercials. Meanwhile, the profile for Google Headquarters has become a sounding board for any Google product ("Free email is nice, but you get what you pay for."). Likewise with Amazon.com.

And, in the predictably meta twist, even Yelp has a profile on Yelp. The verdict? 3 stars, and not good for kids.

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Design Firm Envisions the Driverless School Bus of the Future
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Engineers have already designed vehicles capable of shuttling pizzas, packages, and public transit passengers without a driver present. But few have considered how this technology can be used to transport our most precious cargo: kids. Though most parents would be hesitant to send their children on a bus with no one in the driver's seat, one design firm believes autonomous vehicle technology can change their rides for the better. Their new conceptual project, called Hannah, illustrates their ideas for the future of school bus travel.

As Co.Design reports, Seattle-based design firm Teague tackled both the practical challenges and the social hurdles when designing their driverless school bus. Instead of large buses filled with dozens of kids, each Hannah vehicle is designed to hold a maximum of six passengers at a time. This offers two benefits: One, fewer kids on the route means the bus can afford to pick up each student at his or her doorstep rather than a designated bus stop. Facial recognition software would ensure every child is accounted for and that no unwanted passengers can gain access.

The second benefit is that a smaller number of passengers could help prevent bullying onboard. Karin Frey, a University of Washington sociologist who consulted with the team, says that larger groups of students are more likely to form toxic social hierarchies on a school bus. The six seats inside Hannah, which face each other cafeteria table-style, would theoretically place kids on equal footing.

Another way Hannah can foster a friendlier school bus atmosphere is inclusive design. Instead of assigning students with disabilities to separate cars, everyone can board Hannah regardless of their abilities. The vehicle drives low to the ground and extends a ramp to the road when dropping off passengers. This makes the boarding and drop-off process the same for everyone.

While the autonomous vehicles lack human supervisors, the buses can make up for this in other ways. Hannah can drive both backwards and forwards and let out children on either side of the car (hence the palindromic name). And when the bus isn’t ferrying kids to school, it can earn money for the district by acting as a delivery truck.

Still, it may be a while before you see Hannah zipping down your road: Devin Liddel, the project’s head designer, says it could take at least five years after driverless cars go mainstream for autonomous school buses to start appearing. All the regulations that come with anything involving public schools would likely prevent them from showing up any sooner. And when they do arrive, Teague suspects that major tech corporations could be the ones to finally clear the path.

"Could Amazon or Lyft—while deploying a future of roving, community-centric delivery vehicles—take over the largest form of mass transit in the United States as a sort of side gig?" the firm's website reads. "Hannah is an initial answer, a prototype from the future, to these questions."

[h/t Co.Design]

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Google Home Is Finally Able to Multitask
NBD Photos, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
NBD Photos, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

The hallmark of any great assistant is a talent for multitasking. Now, CNET reports that this ability is now a part of Google Home. The voice-activated device can finally process and execute two tasks that are said in a single command.

With earlier versions of the software, if you wanted to ask Google Home to cancel an alarm for a certain time and set a new one, for example, you would need to speak the first command, wait for it to be completed, and then say the second. The new feature allows you to string together both requests without pausing. This is the case for tasks that are related, like playing a song and turning up the volume, as well as those that are unrelated, like checking football scores and asking for cake recipes.

To save even more breath, you can combine this tool with Google Home’s Shortcuts feature. Shortcuts lets you assign short phrases to more complicated commands (like replacing “play workout playlist on Spotify” with “workout time”). Now you can use Shortcuts to have Google tackle multiple tasks at once by saying just a couple words.

The home assistant’s new ability is limited: Three tasks is still too much for it to keep track of, even if you’re pairing a two-task shortcut with one straightforward command. So after asking for a time and weather update, you’ll have to be patient before asking Google the answer to the universe.

[h/t CNET]

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