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This App Will Get You In and Out of a Restaurant in 30 Minutes

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Most new food apps bring the restaurant to you. Allset, by contrast, makes it easier to sit down at a restaurant and have lunch, even if you don’t have time for leisurely, hour-long work breaks.

It works much like Seamless or any other delivery app: You choose dishes from a menu, add in special instructions, order drinks, and pay (Allset adds a suggested 18 percent gratuity for you; you can change the amount, but you cannot decline to tip).

The difference between Allset and Seamless (or even OpenTable) is that you also choose a specific time to show up at the restaurant. When you arrive, a table will be ready for you and the food you pre-selected will arrive only a few minutes after you sit down. If you’re eating with friends, you can order separately on your own apps—you just have to invite your dining partner to “share your table” through the app.

Mental Floss tried out the app twice (with the help of two $10 promo codes from Allset), and found that it functioned almost exactly as designed, with a few hiccups. At a restaurant called Lasagna Ristorante, where the waiters had a “reserved” sign and our drinks waiting for us on our table when we arrived, the servers somehow switched one of our dishes for something else on the menu. But even with a minor wait for the correct entree, we still managed to make it through a two-course meal in just under 35 minutes. At another place we tried, Sarge’s Deli, we were in and out even faster. There were already pickles, cole slaw, and glasses of water on the table when we walked through the door, and our sandwiches came out within a minute. But again, one of the dishes didn’t look like what we had ordered—at least not exactly. Instead of a regular Reuben, we ended up with a hot, open-faced version that wasn’t on the app in the menu.

This highlights perhaps the one issue in the app: The menus aren’t always intuitive. They’re divided into tabbed sections like “good for lunch,” “small plates,” “desserts,” and “drinks,” but you can’t scroll through the whole menu without clicking over to separate tabs. It’s easy to get to the end of the “good for lunch” entrees and not realize there are other options. And while each restaurant obviously sets its own menu, the two restaurants we tried both had menus that were oddly structured. The menu for Sarge’s Deli listed all its sandwiches under the header “combination sandwich,” but then every meat option except one included a $5 charge over the list price. At Lasagna Ristorante, we couldn’t figure out if there was a way to add chicken to a pasta dish.

Three different screenshots from the Allset app against an orange background: one of the menu, one of the confirmation alert, and one of the bill.
Allset

And there’s a certain awkwardness that comes with using any new restaurant app. Since you’ve already paid, it can be unclear what the protocol is at the end of your meal. At the first restaurant, we had to sign a receipt for our food before we left, while at the second, where the restaurant employees seemed fairly puzzled by our entire interaction, we didn’t need to do anything before leaving.

However, Adam Honig, the owner of Lasagna Ristorante, says that the app works very well on the restaurant’s end. When you order on the app, the restaurant receives a fax with your order and gets to work. “In a busy restaurant, it’s good to get a heads up about an order,” he says, and it’s a hit with a certain type of customer that might otherwise skip out on a restaurant lunch. “For some people, it’s exactly what they want—they want to sit down, they want to get it fast, and they want to get out of there. For that niche of people, it’s perfect.”

Honig says that when customers walk into a restaurant and the waiters already know what they want, “it makes them feel good that everything is already taken care of.” It feels luxurious to arrive and sit down at a table with a reserved sign and have your drinks already waiting for you.

Allset is only available in a few places (Austin, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, and Manhattan) so far, and even then, the selection is limited. There are only a dozen options within a 15-minute walk of the Mental Floss offices in Manhattan, and there’s only one that’s within a 10-minute walk. If you’re pressed for time, a 30-minute round trip walk to get to a restaurant isn’t ideal—so it’s definitely not going to revolutionize the way you lunch, at least not until a whole lot more restaurants get on board. But if you really want to get out of the office during the day without encountering any unexpected waits, it’s a good way to go, especially if you want to feel a little fancy.

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6 Things Americans Should Know About Net Neutrality
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Net neutrality is back in the news, as Ajit Pai—the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and a noted net neutrality opponent—has announced that he plans to propose sweeping deregulations during a meeting in December 2017. The measures—which will fundamentally change the way consumers and businesses use and pay for internet access—are expected to pass the small committee and possibly take effect early in 2018. Here's a brief explanation of what net neutrality is, and what the debate over it is all about.

1. IT'S NOT A LAW; IT'S A PRINCIPLE

Net neutrality is a principle in the same way that "freedom of speech" is. We have laws that enforce net neutrality (as we do for freedom of speech), but it's important to understand that it is a concept rather than a specific law.

2. IT'S ABOUT REGULATING ACCESS TO THE INTERNET

Fundamentally, net neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should not be allowed to prioritize one kind of data traffic over another. This also means they cannot block services purely for business reasons.

To give a simple example, let's say your ISP also sells cable TV service. That ISP might want to slow down your internet access to competing online TV services (or make you pay extra if you want smooth access to them). Net neutrality means that the ISP can't limit your access to online services. Specifically, it means the FCC, which regulates the ISPs, can write rules to prevent ISPs from preferring certain services—and the FCC did just that in 2015.

Proponents often talk about net neutrality as a "level playing field" for online services to compete. This leaves ISPs in a position where they are providing a commodity service—access to the internet under specific FCC regulations—and that is not always a lucrative business to be in.

3. INTERNET PROVIDERS GENERALLY OPPOSE NET NEUTRALITY

In 2014 and 2015, there was a major discussion of net neutrality that led to new FCC rules enforcing net neutrality. These rules were opposed by companies including AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon. The whole thing came about because Verizon sued the FCC over a previous set of rules and ended up, years later, being governed by even stricter regulations.

The opposing companies see net neutrality as unnecessary and burdensome regulation that will ultimately cost consumers in the end. Further, they have sometimes promoted the idea of creating "fast lanes" for certain kinds of content as a category of innovation that is blocked by net neutrality rules.

4. TECH COMPANIES GENERALLY LOVE NET NEUTRALITY

In support of those 2015 net neutrality rules were companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter, Vimeo, and Yahoo. These companies often argue that net neutrality has always been the de facto policy that allowed them to establish their businesses—and thus in turn should allow new businesses to emerge online in the future.

On May 7, 2014, more than 100 companies sent an open letter to the FCC "to express our support for a free and open internet":

Over the past twenty years, American innovators have created countless Internet-based applications, content offerings, and services that are used around the world. These innovations have created enormous value for Internet users, fueled economic growth, and made our Internet companies global leaders. The innovation we have seen to date happened in a world without discrimination. An open Internet has also been a platform for free speech and opportunity for billions of users.

5. THE FCC CHAIR ONCE QUOTED EMPEROR PALPATINE

Ajit Pai, who was one of the recipients of that open letter above and is now Chairman of the FCC, quoted Emperor Palpatine from Return of the Jedi when the 2015 rules supporting net neutrality were first codified. (At the time he was an FCC Commissioner.) Pai said, "Young fool ... Only now, at the end, do you understand." His point was that once the rules went into effect, they could have the opposite consequence of what their proponents intended.

The Star Wars quote-off continued when a Fight for the Future representative chimed in. As The Guardian wrote in 2015 (emphasis added):

Referring to Pai's comments Evan Greer, campaigns director at Fight for the Future, said: "What they didn't know is that when they struck down the last rules we would come back more powerful than they could possibly imagine."

6. THE TWO SIDES DISAGREE ABOUT WHAT NET NEUTRALITY'S EFFECTS ARE

The Star Wars quotes above get at a key point of the net neutrality debate: Pai believes that net neutrality stifles innovation. He was quoted in 2015 in the wake of the new net neutrality rules as saying, "permission-less innovation is a thing of the past."

Pai's statement directly contradicts the stated position of net neutrality proponents, who see net neutrality as a driver of innovation. In their open letter mentioned above, they wrote, "The Commission’s long-standing commitment and actions undertaken to protect the open Internet are a central reason why the Internet remains an engine of entrepreneurship and economic growth."

In December 2016, Pai gave a speech promising to "fire up the weed whacker" to remove FCC regulations related to net neutrality. He stated that the FCC had engaged in "regulatory overreach" in its rules governing internet access.

For previous coverage of net neutrality, check out our articles What Is Net Neutrality? and What the FCC's Net Neutrality Decision Means.

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Live Smarter
This AI Tool Will Help You Write a Winning Resume
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For job seekers, crafting that perfect resume can be an exercise in frustration. Should you try to be a little conversational? Is your list of past jobs too long? Are there keywords that employers embrace—or resist? Like most human-based tasks, it could probably benefit from a little AI consultation.

Fast Company reports that a new start-up called Leap is prepared to offer exactly that. The project—started by two former Google engineers—promises to provide both potential minions and their bosses better ways to communicate and match job needs to skills. Upload a resume and Leap will begin to make suggestions (via highlighted boxes) on where to snip text, where to emphasize specific skills, and roughly 100 other ways to create a resume that stands out from the pile.

If Leap stopped there, it would be a valuable addition to a professional's toolbox. But the company is taking it a step further, offering to distribute the resume to employers who are looking for the skills and traits specific to that individual. They'll even elaborate on why that person is a good fit for the position being solicited. If the company hires their endorsee, they'll take a recruiter's cut of their first year's wages. (It's free to job seekers.)

Although the service is new, Leap says it's had a 70 percent success rate landing its users an interview. The rest is up to you.

[h/t Fast Company]

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