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SeanPavonePhoto/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) -- When you need it, the always-open Waffle House is there. And now, the 24-hour chain is coming to New Orleans in a seriously upgraded way.

Waffle House is adding a feature to its restaurants that will upgrade the experience a bit: The New Orleans location will have an outdoor area -- the first of its kind for the chain -- in addition to its more than 1,700 square feet on the inside.

“We’re actually providing something we’ve never provided on another restaurant we’ve ever done, with a little side bistro courtyard area,” Waffle House real estate executive Bob Pence said at a meeting of New Orlean’s Board of Zoning Adjustments, according to the Mid-City Messenger.

The over 12,000 square feet lot used to be a used car shop, but Waffle House has much bigger plans for the space.

“I think that once we get this built, you will see that it’s probably the fanciest Waffle House restaurant you will ever see,” Pence said. “We tried to make it look a little New Orleans-ish.”

So watch out, all you other Waffle Houses -- there’s a fancy new one on the way.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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ponsulak/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Between mobile check-in, automatic check out and even robots delivering room service, hotel guests have decreased their interaction with staff dramatically in recent years.

And this summer, travelers staying at Marriott hotels no longer need to pick up the phone to get even the most unusual requests fulfilled. They can just send a text.

The brand has just announced its new Mobile Request app feature. It was introduced at 46 hotels earlier this month and will launch across the entire portfolio of the Marriott Hotels brand -- 500 in all -- this summer.

"Some 75 percent of people travel with one or more mobile devices and the percentage is higher for younger travelers,” said Matthew Carroll, vice president, Marriott Hotels. “We know today’s travelers want a mobile experience built around their changing needs and desire to communicate on their terms. Mobile Request is the brand’s next evolution since our introduction of mobile check-in, checkout and room ready alerts worldwide."

Mobile Request will be available to the 50 million members of Marriott Rewards, the company’s loyalty program. Members will be able to communicate with their hotel in two ways within 72 hours of their reservation and for the duration of their stay. The “Anything Else?” feature offers guests two-way chat functionality to have conversations in real time with the hosts at Marriott Hotels who can fulfill and confirm their requests. It also offers a drop-down menu with most requested services and amenities, such as extra towels and pillows.

And while a few may bemoan the loss of the personal touch at hotels, industry experts say texting is exactly what travelers want.

"Texting for hotel service is a brilliant idea whose time has come.," Professor Chekitan Dev, hotel expert at Cornell University and author of Hospitality Branding told ABC News. "Today's customer has a very simple mantra for businesses they deal with: I want what I want, when I want it, how I want it, and I want it now. In our age of instant gratification, reducing the response time from wish to fulfillment is key."

He added that his research indicates request response time is closely tied to guest satisfaction and loyalty.

Guests are getting far more creative than pillows and towels. Marriott said guests have requested running routes near the hotel for workouts, car service from the airport and even a cinnamon roll with a candle for a 6-year-old's birthday.

Marriott's not the first hotel to use texting, Dev said, but the hotels using it are still few. Marriott said the two-way chat feature is an industry first.

Texting requests is particularly attractive to millennial travelers, Dev said. They're the "hotel industry’s newest target customer, for whom texting is the preferred mode of communication."

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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tarabird/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The markets remained sluggish heading into the Memorial Day weekend, as investors remained concerned over mixed earnings reports on Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 18,232.02 on Friday, down 53.72 from its open.

The Nasdaq was down by 1.43 to close at 5,089.36. The S&P 500 was down by 4.76, to finish the session at a close of 2,126.06.

The slump came amid what appeared to be positive comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen on an interest rate hike later this year. The board said it will keep a close watch on the recovering economy before pulling the trigger.

Investors are trying to stay ahead of the Federal Reserve, as energy related stocks pushed down after the price of oil dropped.

Investors are not too fazed by new consumer prices edging up for a third straight month. Analysts say the rising costs for housing medical care, furniture, and car driving the increase.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Workers’ compensation programs are meant to help those who are severely disabled, but some attempt to game the system by faking an injury to collect disability payments, thinking they will never be caught.

Insurance fraud is typically very hard to catch than these cases, so private investigators like Bari Kroll and Bob Kiehn are hired by insurance companies to catch fraudsters on tape.

“The secret to some my success is being a woman. It’s still pretty uncommon for people to think women are private investigators.” Kroll said. “This job isn’t for everyone. But it is for me, because I’m OK waiting for something to happen.”

Kiehn, who is also an ABC News consultant, brought ABC News 20/20 along as observers on a mission to capture video of a farmer suspected of fleecing an insurance company. The farmer claimed that injuries from a car accident caused him difficulty with daily farming.

Kiehn said he was looking to capture “Anything he does that makes him look like he’s working.”

After four hours of surveillance Kiehn was able to film the farmer lifting a heavy object into his truck.

“It’s something for us to start building a case on.” Kiehn said. “You have to have a creative solution… [fraudsters] think they’re five steps ahead of us.”

ABC News Videos | ABC Entertainment News

Kiehn is the founder and president of National SIU, a company that specializes in insurance fraud investigations, and watch him in action in the video player above. Watch the full story on ABC News' 20/20 on Friday, May 21 at 10 p.m. ET.

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Every year Google's I/O Conference is the place where creators and developers unite to discuss some of the biggest ideas that enrich and change the way people interact with their devices.

This year's conference kicks off next Thursday in San Francisco. While Google isn't spilling any of its big plans yet, a look at the agenda online reveals what could be in store.

Android M

At the top of the list is sweet news for Android fans. The next flavor of Google's Android operating system -- dubbed M -- could be unveiled next week.

A mention of a May 28 session for an "An Android for Work Update" was quickly scrubbed from the calendar earlier this month, indicating that perhaps one of the big reveals of the conference had been teased too soon. The caption mentioned how Android M can open "huge new markets for hundreds of millions of devices to workers at small business, deskless workers, logistics and warehouse jobs."

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has once again become a hot topic -- with Mirosoft introducing its HoloLens mixed reality goggles earlier this year and Facebook's Oculus announcing the consumer version of its headset will ship in early 2016.

At I/O last year, Google put a fun spin on the idea, releasing its Google Cardboard glasses that can connect to a smartphone. Earlier this year, Google and partner Mattel also revealed a first look at a revamped virtual reality View-Master using cardboard and Android.

While we'll have to wait and see if any new big announcements are coming, a session called "Make Believe" next Thursday invites attendees to "explore virtual reality and how it may change our lives."

Satellite Mapping

Google bought satellite mapping company Skybox last year. We'll learn more about how the search engine giant plans to leverage that technology in a session called "The Earth in Real Time."

"With Skybox, we're looking to take the next step forward in satellite imaging and find new ways to help people use data from space to solve problems on Earth," the event description said.

In a statement announcing the $500 million cash deal last year, Google said it plans to use Skybox's technology to bolster Google Maps by keeping its imagery even more "accurate" and "up-to-date."

"Over time, we also hope that Skybox's team and technology will be able to help improve Internet access and disaster relief -- areas Google has long been interested in," the statement said.


With the rise of fitness trackers and wearables, it's no surprise that Google is carving out some time to discuss Google Fit and how the fitness tracking service is serving millions of users.

"As a fitness developer, how can you use this data to help people lead fuller lives? What kind of data is it and how are we generating it?" the agenda said. "The Google Fit team reveals all in this talk."

The Future

Expect to hear about Project Ara, Google's modular smartphone which will be piloted in Puerto Rico later this year. The puzzle-like device allows people to create phones with customized looks and capabilities.

Google also said to expect "wearables that we hope will blow your socks off."

"Our goal: break the tension between the ever-shrinking screen sizes necessary to make electronics wearable and our ability to have rich interactions with them. Why can’t you have both? We like to build new things. Sometimes seemingly impossible things," the company said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Egg prices are surging as the bird flu continues to spread through the Midwest.

The outbreak is now more than twice as bad as the last big one in the U.S., which took place in the 80s. So far, it has claimed 39 million chickens and turkeys -- including about 10 percent of the country's egg laying hens.

Not surprisingly, egg prices in the Midwest have nearly doubled. And though warmer weather means the spread of the flu is finally slowing, turkey producers have said there may not be enough time to recover by Thanksgiving.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Uber(PITTSBURGH) — Take one look at the mysterious Uber car spotted on the road in Pittsburgh earlier this month, and it's clear it isn't a typical vehicle in the ride-hailing app's fleet.

A device appears to be rotating on the top of the Ford sedan, along with "Uber Advanced Technologies" emblazoned on the side of the vehicle. A photo of the less than inconspicuous car was posted by the Pittsburgh Business Times.

As Google's driverless cars prepare to hit the road around the company's Mountain View headquarters this summer, Uber told ABC News the bizarre vehicle was not a self-driving car.

"This vehicle is part of our early research efforts regarding mapping, safety and autonomy systems," an Uber spokesperson told ABC News via email.

Uber announced a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University in February to open the Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh.

"The center will focus on the development of key long-term technologies that advance Uber's mission of bringing safe, reliable transportation to everyone, everywhere," the company said in a statement announcing the partnership.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has previously expressed a fascination with autonomous driving technology and said at a conference last year that self-driving cars would drive down the cost of hailing a ride since customers would no longer have to pay for the driver, or as Kalanick put it, "The other dude in the car."

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Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- YouTube wants to change the way people buy items and is harnessing the power of its videos to help connect consumers and retailers.

Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google's senior vice president of advertisements and commerce, announced what could be a revenue-boosting plan for the video sharing website Thursday during his keynote at Ad:Tech in San Francisco.

Google is adding products to its TrueView advertisements -- the spots that users can skip after watching for a certain amount of time. The hope here is that instead of looking away while the ad rolls, users will click on a product and be taken to the retailer's website to complete their transaction.

"In a world where people want things right away, this is the ultimate expression of a full-purchase journey within an ad," Ramaswamy said. "For the first time, viewers will be able to not only learn about products through video -- they’ll be able to shop for them as well -- seeing product listings within the video itself."

Ramaswamy said Wayfair, a furniture retailer, used the system for shopping advertisements. When compared to other video campaigns, he said they saw their revenue triple per view, along with a 20 percent increase in their view through rate, the number of people who stick with the ad until it ends.

YouTube also announced Thursday an early preview of 60 frame per second live streaming video. While the new frame rate is still in early preview, it could help YouTube make a play for gamers who broadcast their adventures on Amazon-owned competitor Twitch.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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ABC News(APPLETON, Texas) -- A family cattle ranch run by a fourth-generation farmer has gone from raising cattle for slaughter into a vegan sanctuary for their herd.

Tommy Sonnen bought his 96-acre farm in Angleton, Texas, 11 years ago and convinced his wife, Renee, to join the ranch life. They got divorced but then remarried one another about six years ago, but not before Tommy’s wife started learning about the vegan lifestyle.

Renee said she couldn’t stand the red trailer leaving every six months to take the next round of calves to the slaughterhouse because of the bonds she made with them.

“I started gaining insight into their souls and naturally started gravitating to the animals in a loving way,” said Renee. “The mother cows would cry into the night and I’d go out and cry with them even at midnight.”

That’s when Renee said she needed her husband to make a change, so she gave him an ultimatum: another divorce or become a vegan.

“I put him between a rock and a hard place,” said Renee. “I made him decide if the cows were more precious than me.”

Renee said her husband offered for her to buy the 29-cow herd from him for $30,000. She raised the money through an online campaign in under four months.

Her once steak-eating husband is now 99.99 percent vegan with the exception of his old leather boots and the occasional “accident” from not reading a food label, according to Renee.

“He did it kicking and screaming but he did it. He’ll finally admit it out loud he feels better,” said Renee, who went fully vegan last October.

They’ve turned their ranch into the Rowdy Girl Sanctuary and submitted paperwork to become a non-profit organization.

The last red trailer left the ranch in February 2014 and Renee said it’s never coming back.

ABC News Videos | ABC Entertainment News

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JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The markets bounced back on Thursday after investors were motivated to buy energy stocks after seeing a rise in oil prices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 18,285.74 on Thursday, up 0.34 from its open.

The Nasdaq was up slightly by 19.05 to close at 5,090.79. The S&P 500 was up by 4.97, to finish the session at a close of 2,130.82.

Traders were happy on Thursday with news the Federal Reserve would not be raising interest rates until later this year, along with signs of a health job market.

The Labor Department said on Thursday the number of American seeking unemployment benefits fell to a 15 year low, despite a slight rise in applications last week.

Existing home sales dipped last month more than three percent, as the National Association of Realtors says that tight inventory made it a seller’s market.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Tor Johnson/Cloud 9(VITI LEVU, Fiji) -- There's a saying that there's no such thing as bad pizza.

Now that that's been established, some places are more enjoyable than others when it comes to enjoying a slice.

Some pizza connoisseurs swear by a red-and-white-checked-tablecloth kind of joint. But we'll take this floating pizzeria in paradise.

Cloud 9, located in the ocean off the Fijian island of Viti Levu, is now serving wood-fired pizza along with a full bar and weekend DJs.

There are a few different options for getting to Cloud 9 -- including a 2.5-hour jet-ski ride -- but it's most easily accessed by a 45-minute speedboat ride from Port Denarau, a major tourist hub, or just 10 minutes from the closest resort: Musket Cove Resort, Lomani Resort & Plantation Resort.

Rather than grab a slice on the run, most visitors choose to make a day out a trip to Cloud 9 and combine swimming, snorkeling, para sailing and sunbathing in the daybeds and hammocks offered with their meal. As many as 100 people can visit Cloud 9 at one time.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Google analyzed hundreds of millions of password security questions and answers, revealing how startlingly easy it is for would-be hackers to get into someone else's account.

Case in point: What's your favorite food?

Using one guess, an attacker has a 19.7-percent chance of guessing an English-speaking user loves pizza, according to Google's findings, which looked at hundreds of millions of questions and answers for account recovery claims.

While the questions are meant to provide an extra layer of security, Google found easy-to-guess answers were a problem around the world.

With 10 guesses, an attacker would have a near one-in-four chance of guessing the name of an Arabic speaker's first teacher. Ten guesses gave cyber criminals a 21-percent chance of guessing the middle name of a Spanish speaker's father.

South Korean users were most vulnerable with the question "What is your city of birth?" With 10 guesses, attackers would have a 39-percent chance of getting into a person's account.

While the study shows how alarmingly easy it is to crack a person's password security questions, Google said the solution shouldn't be to add more questions.

Google's security researchers instead recommend users make sure their account recovery information is current by going through a security checkup. Adding a phone number or backup email address can help circumvent the issue of someone trying to penetrate your account via the secret questions.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Jobless claims were higher last week, increasing by 10,000, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Labor Department.

For the week ending May 16, the number of people filing for benefits climbed to 274,000. The previous week, claims stood at 264,000.

The Labor Department said there were no "special factors" impacting that week's figures.

The four-week moving average, however, decreased by 5,500 to 266,250.

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bizoo_n/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- One day after Takata Corp. announced a recall affecting a total of 33.8 million inflators -- one in seven registered vehicles in the U.S. -- due to defective airbags, consumers set a record, flooding the U.S. government's recall website to see whether their car was involved.

The problem: None of the 17 million newly recalled cars have been listed yet on

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said on Wednesday it expected to have most of the vehicle identification numbers uploaded on its by early next week.

A vehicle's VIN can be found on the driver's side where the dashboard meets the windshield or on the driver's side door post.

NHTSA said it was waiting for the VINs to come from automakers. Without the VIN, consumers cannot find out whether their car is part of the new recall.

"This is part of what's hard right now," NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind told ABC News on Wednesday. "Yesterday, we announced the defect. We are waiting and hopefully shortly we will have all the information from 11 manufacturers so that people can look up their VIN and know if their car is affected. ... It takes a while. We need to get that online and then we have to make sure next, that the parts are going to be available so when you go to your dealer you can get that replaced."

Takata's airbags have been at the center of controversy with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the NHTSA after the company's airbags were linked to at least five deaths, and more than 100 injuries, according to DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx. Takata found that one out of 100 recalled bag inflators ruptured during testing, sending shrapnel flying.

Experts advised consumers not to inspect airbags on their own and not to disable them because they are complex and contain explosive chemicals, so there is some risk.

Rosekind said he was going to look up his car's VIN and suggested that once all the VINs were uploaded onto the site, car owners do the same and then head to a dealer or carmaker.

"I'm a driver. ... I'm going to see if we need to get to the dealer," he said. "I'm going to basically ask, if not demand, that I get a loaner so that if possible I don't have to drive it. I'm going to push them and call as often as I can to make sure that they get the parts as soon as they can, so it gets fixed."

ABC News Videos | ABC Entertainment News

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vichie81/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Investors had a rollercoaster day on Wall Street on Wednesday, as investors waited for earnings reports, and word from the Federal Reserve it won’t raise interest rates in June.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 18,285.40 on Wednesday, down 26.99 from its open.

The Nasdaq however was up slightly by 1.71 to close at 5,071.74. The S&P 500 fell by 1.98, to finish the session at a close of 2,125.85.

Stock prices for the do-it-yourself web company Etsy took a drive on Wednesday, down 20 percent after reporting heavy quarterly losses. This was Etsy’s first earnings report as a publicly traded company.

Staples stocks also felt the pinch and a one percent drop after reporting a sharp loss in first quarter earnings.

Drivers may like the cheaper gas prices at the pump, but investors aren’t as sure. Economists were optimistic that plunging oil prices would boost the U.S. economy, but analysts say it may have actually shrunk earlier this year.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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