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Posts posted by NelsonG

  1. Logitech Brio 4K webcam

    SAVE $60: As of June 30, the Logitech Brio 4K webcam is $60.45 off as an early Prime Day deal — get one for just $139.54.

    Lots of us are still working from home as a result of... you know. And it looks like things are going to stay this way for the foreseeable future. So if you don't have all the WFH gear you need by now, it's probably time to start stocking up.

    One of the first things you need to pick up is a webcam (not all of us have been blessed with built-in cameras on our laptops), and the Logitech Brio 4K is a great option. As an early Prime Day deal, you can score one for $60.45 off the original price, just $139.54.

    The Logitech Brio 4K will have you looking clear as day in all of your virtual meetings — with 4K ultra video streaming, all of your coworkers will be able to see every pore on your face. (Whether that's a good or bad thing.) It also has an automatic lighting adjustment feature, noise-canceling omni-directional microphones, multiple field of view presets, and the ability to record at up to 90 frames per second.

    View the full article

  2. Two Aerogardens full of vegetables on a kitchen counter

    SAVE 30%: Don't have a yard to grow herbs and vegetables? No problem. As of June 30, scoop up any Aerogarden indoor gardening system for 30% off with code SUMMERSALE.

    It's a too late to start your summer garden outdoors, but that doesn't mean you can't grow the season's finest product indoors. We're not talking about a basic windowsill garden box either. We're talking about Aerogarden — the easy, convenient at-home gardening system.

    Through July 5, Aerogarden is offering 30% off every single model with code SUMMERSALE. This deal is only available directly through the Aerogarden site, so don't head off to Amazon looking for these discounts.

    Even if you have a black thumb, you'll be able to grow delicious herbs and produce in an Aerogarden. These systems use a full-spectrum LED grow light and hydroponics (read: water only) system that ensures your plants have all the nutrients they need to grow. Pair that with digital reminders for adding water and plant food, and you'll never have to remember a detailed care routine — these plants basically grow themselves. The grow lights also turn on and off according to a customizable set schedule, so you can schedule them to turn off come bedtime.

    Aerogardens use pre-seeded pods that have a germination guarantee, so if they don't sprout you can send them back for a replacement. Choose from 25 different herb varieties, tomatoes, peppers, and even flowers.

    This sale includes every Aerogarden model on the site, so you can opt for the compact three-pod Sprout, the giant Farm 24XL fit for an urban farmer, and every size in between.

    View the full article

  3. Silver air fryer with pizza in it

    Looking to make weeknight dinners less of a hassle? check out these air fryer deals ahead of Prime Day 2022:

    Air fryers. You know 'em, and you love 'em — and they're almost always heavily discounted during shopping holidays. Prime Day is quickly approaching, and we don't expect the air fryer sales to be any different this year.

    Whether you're looking to cut back on takeout, or just get dinner on the table faster, air fryers are handy gadgets that cut back on some of the legwork (and time) of traditional cooking methods. These high-powered convection ovens can often cook food at up to 30% faster than your oven, making you more likely to cook (and save money) instead of ordering pizza for the third time in a week.

    A few Prime Day shopping notes before you add an air fryer to your cart:

    • We're seeing mostly off-brand air fryer deals ahead of Prime Day, with a few more popular brands scattered throughout. We won't lie, there aren't a ton of good deals out yet, but not to worry — we expect the bigger air fryer brands like Ninja, Instant Pot, and Breville to hold off on releasing deals until the day or week of Prime Day. Stay tuned for those — we'll update this page as new discounts drop.

    • Using price trackers, we've noted where the sale prices of top air fryer deals are historical lows or recent drops. This ensures you're getting a deal that's actually a deal, not just a product that's been "marked down" for months on end.

    • If you need more guidance on how an air fryer works or whether basket or oven-style air fryers are better, head on over to our air fryer guide before buying.

    Basket-style air fryer deals

    Why we like it

    It's not a secret that we love the Magic Bullet air fryer, and we love it even more when it's on sale. This compact, budget-friendly little model just saw a recent price drop down to $45.89 at Amazon. It's not the lowest price we've ever seen, but it is the lowest price we've seen since Black Friday, which is indicative of a solid deal.

    This air fryer is ideal for small spaces or smaller households, but it packs a punch in terms of cooking and reheating. It doesn't have any fancy bells and whistles — just manual temperature and time dials — but it does the job well and helps you avoid turning your oven or stove on when it's hot out.

    More early Prime Day deals on basket-style air fryers

    Oven-style air fryer deals

    Why we like it

    The recent price drop on the TOA-65 air fryer brought the cost back down to the lowest price this model has seen in a year. It's not the lowest price ever, but we haven't seen this much of a price drop since around Black Friday.

    The Cuisinart TOA-65 air fryer is a variation on one of our favorite oven-style air fryers, the TOA-60, but adds a few more features. It offers digital controls, the ability to set specific temperatures in five-degree increments, and boasts eight different functions: toast, convection bake, bake, convection broil, broil, and warm.

    More early Prime Day deals on oven-style air fryers

    Multicooker deals

    Why we like it

    We don't hear much about the Ninja Foodi models until a shopping holiday rolls around, but you can almost always bet they're going to be highly discounted at events like Prime Day. This 10-in-1 Foodi model saw a recent drop back down to it's all-time lowest price, according to price tracker camelcamelcamel. We're willing to bet that there will be better Ninja Foodie deals come July 13 and 14, but if you simply don't want to sort through all the deals on Prime Day, this is still a great price.

    More early Prime Day deals on multicookers

    View the full article

  4. Composite of three TikTok filter screenshots, with grids overlaid on a face to draw makeup.

    When you hear "beauty filters," you probably think of the typical TikTok and Instagram filters that add makeup and sometimes alter your facial features, all in the pursuit of a prescribed beauty standard. Grace Choi's beauty filters don't do that — instead, these filters aim to simply help you learn how to apply real-life makeup. 

    If you're on beauty TikTok, you've probably come across the Contour, Eyebrows, or Eyeliner filters on your For You Page. They're AR filters that place a grid on top of your face. And depending on what makeup you're trying to apply, these filters also have extra, colored lines that serve as handy little guides on where to draw certain makeup techniques. 

    TikTok screenshot showing an Asian woman with dark hair using a filter that applies a grid over the eyebrow area.
    The Eyebrow filter in action. Credit: Screenshot: TikTok/Grace Choi
    TikTok screenshot showing an Asian woman with dark hair using a filter that applies a grid over the face area.
    The Contour filter in action. Credit: Screenshot: TikTok/Grace Choi

    Choi married her personal love of makeup with her professional career by inventing Mink, the world's first 3D makeup printer, in 2014. "Throughout my 10 years or so in beauty technology, I've always felt that beauty moments and experiences, including tutorials, could be a lot more personalized and immersive and effective by using AR," Choi told Mashable

    And yet, Choi never felt like there was a social platform that could properly house this immersive tutorial experience — that is, until TikTok launched an open AR platform called Effect House. Choi joined Effect House, and has since been honing her filter design skills while helping others learn how to apply makeup in a way that's accessible and personalized to each face. She's even expanded beyond makeup filters to experiment with color palette analyzers, personality quizzes, and workout aides. 

    We put the most popular beauty filters to the test. In this episode of Beauty, Hacked, Jennimai tries out the Contour, Eyebrows, and Eyeliner filters as guides for one one side of her face, and then compares it to her usual makeup techniques on the other. Which side looks better? Tune in to find out, and see whether Jennimai prefers the tech upgrade to her tried-and-true makeup routine.

    View the full article

  5. OpenSea

    If you've shared an email address with NFT marketplace OpenSea, you'll probably start getting some phishy emails soon.

    On Wednesday, OpenSea said that an employee of its email delivery vendor Customer.io has misused employee access to share email addresses with an "unauthorized third party." These are addresses that OpenSea users and subscribers to the company's newsletter shared with OpenSea.

    "We are working with Customer.io in their ongoing investigation, and we have reported this incident to law enforcement," the company said in a blog post.

    Putting aside the fact that one of your email delivery vendor's main jobs is not to leak user addresses around, this isn't as horrible as some other data breaches, as only user email addresses were affected.

    But since this is crypto, it's near-certain that basically every OpenSea user will start receiving phishing emails, with the idea to impersonate OpenSea and get them to install malware or hand over their cryptocurrency private keys.

    In its blog post, OpenSea is preparing users for this possibility with some tips on what types of phishing addresses they might see, and a list of precautions they should take, including only trusting emails that are coming from the domain "opensea.io," never downloading any attachments in an OpenSea email, and never sharing passwords or secret wallet phrases with anyone. Users should also be wary of any URLs shared in an OpenSea email, and they should never sign wallet transactions prompted directly from an email.

    This is far from the first security issue OpenSea has had in its history. In January, hackers exploited a vulnerability in order to sell users' NFTs and keep the profit; in May, OpenSea's Discord was hacked. And let's not forget that an OpenSea employee was arrested for insider trading in June.

    View the full article

  6. Florida student and gay activist Javier Gomez stands at the podium at a White House Pride Month celebration event with President Joe Biden.

    Javier Gomez recently arrived at the White House wearing a sharp cream suit and turtleneck for a moment his younger self could've never imagined.

    The 18-year-old activist from Miami, who'd organized a walkout at his high school to protest Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill months earlier, had been chosen to deliver remarks at the Biden Administration's Pride Month celebration. At the event, the president signed an executive order directing the federal government to reduce youth exposure to conversion therapy and better support both LGBTQ youth in the foster care system and queer adoptive parents, among other measures.

    Following an introduction by First Lady Jill Biden, Gomez beamed at the podium. Then he told a story. At 5 years old, Gomez knew he was gay — he just didn't have the language to express it. His classmates bullied him for being "too gay, too feminine, or too outgoing." But an openly gay teacher who created a welcoming classroom environment in the 5th grade changed what Gomez believed was possible for himself.

    "To see his happiness in life gave me hope in my life that my future would be better," Gomez later told Mashable.

    That teacher's example is partly why Gomez fought the passage of the Parental Rights in Education bill, which critics dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill. Gomez fears that the bill, which goes into effect July 1, will silence educators who are supportive of LGBTQ youth. The bill prohibits any discussion about LGBTQ issues from kindergarten until third grade. Conversations about those subjects for older students must be "age appropriate or developmentally appropriate." If parents disapprove of related instruction, they may sue the district. Critics, including Gomez, argue the bill could lead educators to censor what they share about themselves as well as avoid addressing gender identity and sexual orientation in the classroom.

    So in February, Gomez lobbied against the bill in Tallahassee. The following month, he led the walkout at iPrep Academy, joined by 100 students, per his estimate.

    Gomez is one of numerous young queer activists who have urgently fought the bill, which passed by five votes soon after the walkout. These organizers rallied their peers and gave testimony, which often made them targets for bullying and hate speech on social media. They've had to decide how vocal to be when it might endanger their mental health and physical safety. And despite the law's passage, they continue to organize against the bill, knowing the road ahead won't be easy.

    "I want to represent those kids at my school that really didn't have a voice or the luxury of coming out and being proud of themselves amongst their family and friends," says Gomez. "When I went up [to Tallahassee], I knew I was fighting for myself, but I was fighting for those kids."

    "Say Gay Anyway"

    When high school senior Will Larkins testified in April at the Seminole County School Board to protest the law, Twitter users quickly shared the video of his impassioned speech. Like Gomez, Larkins described how hopeless he felt as a child who knew he was different but couldn't name how.

    "It scares me, because what I went through is now being forced onto an entire generation of queer kids," Larkins told Mashable.

    Since co-organizing a "Say Gay Anyway" walkout at his high school in Winter Park, Larkins said the school's environment has become less hostile toward queer students, a critical shift after he'd experienced severe bullying.

    Speaking up, however, has meant receiving vitriolic messages online. Larkins suspects that he wasn't confronted by adults at legislative hearings because he's still a minor at 17 years old. He feels that the burden of organizing and protesting shouldn't rest primarily on youth trying to enjoy what's left of their adolescence and plan for their future, or on LGBTQ teens who can't advocate for themselves because the risks of coming out publicly are too high.

    By attending hearings and sharing his personal story, Larkins hoped to reach people who considered themselves neutral in the debate or allies to students like him. He believes that if those groups take a public stand collectively with activists, they can outnumber the bill's advocates.

    "Show up at the polls and vote," says Larkins, encouraging allies. "If I organize a protest, just show up and show that you care about this issue. I know so many people who could be organizers...but their family isn't supportive, so they can't fight for their right to be queer."

    Maxx Fenning, a 20-year-old college student at the University of Florida who also testified in Tallahassee, was prepared to become a target of the bill's proponents. What he didn't expect was to be called a "groomer" by them on social media. The slur, which falsely implies that LGBTQ people prey on or sexually abuse children, became resurgent once Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' spokesperson, Christina Pushaw, described the legislation as an "anti-grooming bill" on Twitter.

    Still, Fenning says he's determined to provide LGBTQ youth with information about sexuality and gender identity. Fenning leads the nonprofit group PRISM, which offers educational resources about LGBT+ sexual health and history. The group started as a fledging student club at Fenning's Boca Raton high school when he realized that even as an openly gay student leader, he'd never learned about the gay rights leader Harvey Milk and the transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson, or the HIV-prevention medication PrEP.

    "You would think I would know this information, even in that position, and I didn't know that information, and that didn't sit well with me," says Fenning, who adds that the school never sanctioned PRISM as an official club.

    Fenning worries that the bill may have a chilling effect on LGBTQ student-led clubs. Though the legislation focuses on classroom discussion about LGBTQ issues, Fenning says its vagueness about what's acceptable may discourage students and staff advisors from having candid conversations. Advocacy groups have filed lawsuits to block the bill, arguing that it violates free speech, among other Constitutional rights. If these lawsuits don't succeed, Fenning and other activists will be closely watching how enforcement plays out.

    Finding acceptance

    Dr. Cecil Webster, a psychiatrist who works with LGBTQ youth, says that young activists should prioritize their physical and emotional well-being, even as their work feels increasingly urgent. And prior to going public, Webster recommends taking stock of the risks and what kind of support to expect from friends and family.

    Though Webster's practice is in Boston, he regularly hears from youth affected by what's happening in Florida and other states. Not only are they worried about attending college in a state that's hostile to LGBTQ rights, for example; but also, they're internalizing the significance of legislation that targets queer and trans youth.

    "These young folks, as a society, are seeing messages that they're not unconditionally loved," he says, noting that research points to acceptance at home and in communities as a critical factor for LGBTQ youth mental health. Lack of acceptance can be particularly compounded for queer youth of color, who face discrimination based not just on their sexual orientation or gender identity, but because of their racial and ethnic identity as well.

    Gomez felt this deeply as a Venezuelan-American whose gay identity hasn't always been accepted by family or community members. But when he proclaimed from the White House podium that he was a "proud, gay, Venezuelan-American," the audience cheered loudly.

    Gomez says he won't forget this moment anytime soon — and that it made his public advocacy over the past few months more fulfilling than he could've imagined.

    "It empowers me even more...," says Gomez. "It was really, really amazing understanding that someone that didn't really have a voice and was silenced in his younger age now has this powerful voice advocating for people like me. It's beautiful, and I'm so eternally grateful that I was given this platform."

    If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, The Trevor Project can be reached 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 and via chat. Crisis Text Line provides free, confidential support 24/7. Text CRISIS to 741741 to be connected to a crisis counselor. Contact the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI, Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. ET, or email [email protected]org. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Here is a list of international resources.

    View the full article

  7. PL-Lion-e1562310432434.pngOver the past several years, The Football Association Premier League has been working hard to combat the availability of illegal match streams broadcast over the Internet.

    Pirate IPTV services, web-based streaming sites, and a smörgåsbord of infringing apps all create issues for the world’s most famous football league. From a practical standpoint, it’s impossible to shut them all down. Instead, the Premier League employs a strategy to make it appear they’ve been shut down in the hope it will achieve a similar result.

    Working closely with UK-based anti-piracy company Friend MTS, the Premier League uses a number of interesting techniques to detect where pirate streams are coming from and then passes this data to internet service providers so they can implement blocking.

    Given the interference in ISP subscriber communications, this cannot be done on a whim so Premier League obtains legal authority first. In the case of Ireland, the process is dealt with at the Commercial Court (part of the High Court) and this week the Premier League was granted permission to block illegal streams during the 2022/23 season.

    Injunction Extension Awarded Under Copyright Act 2000

    The blocking injunction for the forthcoming season targets Eircom/eir, Virgin Media, Sky Ireland/Sky Subscriber Services and Vodafone. It’s an extension of an injunction first handed down in 2019 and over time has been tweaked to maximize blocking efficiency.

    According to the Premier League, evidence provided by Sky shows that existing blocking measures are indeed an effective deterrent.

    The Irish Times reports that Sky subscriber numbers (Sky has Premier League broadcasting rights) have increased since 2019 and while this isn’t solely attributable to blocking, there has been an increase over the past three years.

    Mr Justice Denis McDonald agreed that an extension to the injunction was justified so that the Premier League could continue to protect its rights during the forthcoming season.

    Premier League’s Three Years of Pressure in Ireland

    After winning its first ISP blocking injunction at the High Court in London during 2017, a year later the Premier League sought to expand its program into Ireland.

    In 2019, Ireland’s Commercial Court gave the Premier League a green light to compel Eircom, Sky, Virgin and Vodafone to block pirate streams until June 30, 2020.

    Just under a year later, Premier League won an extension to that injunction to tackle piracy during the 2020/21 season.

    Following the now established pattern, in 2021 another year of blocking permission was granted, this time on an enhanced basis, using measures that given their secrecy are not available for public consumption.

    Reports do not indicate that the current extension for 2022/23 grants the Premier League any additional powers but at least for the time being, the football league appears satisfied that the terms of the injunction meets its needs.

    From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

    View the full article

  8. Battlefield Portal screenshot

    Taking video games too seriously is for suckers. That appears to be the ethos behind one of the three major modes in Battlefield 2042, anyway.

    EA’s beleaguered large-scale shooter recently got a shot in the arm thanks to the release of a big Season 1 update (and plenty of discounts in various sales). But anyone who picked it up for the first time in recent weeks is probably wondering what the heck “Battlefield Portal” means on the main menu.

    Aside from the default competitive modes and the more cooperative Hazard Zone mode (which is on its last legs), Portal is one pillar of the Battlefield 2042 experience that requires a bit of explanation. It’s for people like me who think Battlefield is at its best when you get a little silly with it, but that description alone doesn’t do it justice.

    Here’s a full rundown of how Battlefield Portal works.

    You got time travel in my Battlefield game

    Battlefield Portal isn’t about literal time travel, but that’s functionally what’s going on here. Put simply, Portal is a player-driven community playground where folks can create their own custom servers using maps, characters, vehicles, and weapons from across four different Battlefield games:

    • Battlefield 1942

    • Battlefield Bad Company 2

    • Battlefield 3

    • Battlefield 2042

    In other words, you can mash up any combination of tech from World War II, modern-day conflicts, and fictional near-future battles into a big, stupid soup of mayhem. The developers have some featured modes to choose from at top, but the real juice is in the server browser, where fans host custom games with a ton of different goofy rulesets.

    Battlefield Portal screenshot
    My sojourn into helicopter heaven was fun. Credit: Electronic Arts / DICE

    I did a brief bit of testing just for the purpose of grabbing screenshots for this article and found all kinds of dumb-but-fun nonsense to play with. Several servers pitted small groups of 2042-era Specialists against dozens of bots playing as WWII soldiers with comically small amounts of health. I spent a few minutes in the gunner’s seat of a future helicopter mowing down combatants from eight decades ago, who could only handle about one hit from my weapon before going down.

    Why do people do this? Man, I dunno. It’s not my place to say. But it sure is fun for about five minutes.

    Battlefield Portal server browser screenshot
    Lots to choose from. Credit: Electronic Arts / DICE

    There are more serious applications for Portal, too. You can create super hardcore servers without modern conveniences like regenerating health, the ability to aim down sights, and even disable the heads-up display (HUD) for the ultimate sweaty shooter experience. You can also turn off sprinting, in case you like trudging slowly around the game’s massive maps for some reason.

    I wouldn’t call Battlefield Portal the main appeal of 2042, but it’s great that it’s there. If you spent $15 to pick up a game that some fans declared dead months ago, there are worse ways to spend time than hopping around in different Portal servers to see that the hectic, idiotic spirit of Battlefield is still very much alive.

    View the full article

  9. Person with long hair using Tonal to do a lat pulldown

    The pandemic pushed home gyms so far down our collective throats that leaving the house for a workout seems downright silly. Why would you, when you can have all the fitness equipment you need in the privacy of your own home?

    Smart fitness mirrors and connected home gyms play a huge part in this. From the Mirror to Tempo, these systems promise to replace your gym membership and every other piece of fitness equipment that's been collecting dust in the back of your closet. Some of these pricey fitness tech products don't live up to the hype, but Tonal was a breath of fresh air in a fitness market thats becoming oversaturated with smart tech that over promises and and under delivers.

    How Tonal works

    Tonal has a touchscreen and two adjustable arms that feature digital weight up to 100 pounds each. The arms can be adjusted by both height and angle to complete more than 200 different movements, from lat pulldowns and shoulder presses to squats.

    Tonal with arms raised
    Tonal's adjustable arms pop out to your desired angle and height. Credit: Jae Thomas / Mashable
    Tonal with arms lowered
    Tonal's arms can easily be lowered when not in use. Credit: Jae Thomas / Mashable

    After you do the initial strength assessment (more on that later) Tonal will automatically adjust the weight for you at the beginning of each workout. You'll see a short tutorial on how to set up Tonal's arms and which accessories to attach. Then the workout, led by a trainer, is played on the touchscreen for you to follow. You'll see pop-up form corrections on the screen if your technique is wonky, and you can always adjust the weight on the smart accessories if needed. Tonal also tracks your reps, weight lifted, and a ton of other metrics so you can monitor your progress over time.

    On top of the $2,995 cost, Tonal will run you $49 per month for a digital account, which gives you access to live and on-demand workout classes. You can have unlimited accounts once you have a membership, so the whole family can work out on one membership.

    The basic Tonal package comes with the smart handles, but the smart bar, smart rope, bench, roller, and workout mat are sold separately in a $495 bundle. Tonal can also be financed monthly through Affirm, starting at $63 per month with 0% APR if the upfront cost is a bit too much for you.

    Tonal smart accessories on a fluffy rug
    The smart bar, rope, and foam roller are sold separately. Credit: Jae Thomas / Mashable

    The Tonal emits a very low humming noise when in use, but you don't really notice it until the machine is turned off. It's also extremely user friendly, and the UI is set up very similarly to an iPhone, so the navigation is pretty intuitive for iPhone users. Tonal supports both Apple Music and Amazon Music, so you can hand-pick the playlist you want to sweat to.

    You'll be able to connect your Apple Watch to the Tonal to get the most accurate metrics tracking, but it is a bit annoying to have to reconnect it every time you start a new workout. To use the Apple Watch integration, you'll need to download the Tonal watch app and start a workout from there.

    How are the Tonal workouts?

    Tonal setup begins with a questionnaire about gender, height, weight, fitness goals, and experience level. Tonal later gives you recommendations for classes and programs that will help you meet goals like getting toned, building muscle, and improving overall fitness.

    The first Tonal workout for every user is the strength assessment. This workout is designed to use AI technology that helps you figure out the ideal weight you should be lifting. You'll engage in a few different motions like lat pulldowns and bench press and get suggestions for your starting weight. Tonal will then set these weights during your workouts automatically, so you won't have to adjust them manually.

    Tonal also uses AI to monitor when you can lift more weight and when you might need a spotter boost. There are a ton of dynamic weight lifting modes too, like chains mode and burnout mode, which change the way the weight feels and can make your workout even more challenging.

    Person with long hair using the Tonal rope smart accessory.
    The smart accessories can easily be swapped out for different movements. Credit: Jae Thomas / Mashable

    As someone who only occasionally lifts weight, I found the initial AI weight recommendations to be too high. I wasn't able to finish full sets of 15 reps during the workouts with some of my AI recs, so I ended up retaking the strength assessment. There might be a bit of adjustment needed to really get the perfect weight recommendations — the AI isn't perfect.

    Both the strength assessment and the normal workouts have a ton of guidance to ensure you set up and execute your workout correctly. During testing, I replayed the first few video tutorials to get a feel for how to swap out the smart accessories, and was impressed when Tonal felt me fidgeting with the weight control and gave me pop-up instructions on the screen on how to manually adjust the weight.

    When compared to other digital fitness classes, Tonal classes really work your muscles. While you could get away with bullshitting a Peloton or Mirror workout, Tonal makes you work hard — and it'll leave you sore the next day. I inadvertently lost a few pounds during Tonal testing, and I felt like I began to get stronger as well.

    Over time, you'll be able to track your progress using Tonal's strength score feature. As you do more workouts and lift more weight, your strength scores for upper body, lower body, and core will increase.

    screenshot of tonal app showing strength score
    Credit: Screenshot: Tonal
    screenshot showing tonal's muscle readiness feature
    The Tonal app also shows you which muscles are fatigued and which ones can stand a workout, based on your workout history. Credit: Screenshot: Tonal

    The only qualm I had with Tonal's workouts is that they assume a baseline level of fitness, which might be disheartening to folks who are on a new fitness journey. Nearly every class I took, even when set to beginner, had a section of pushups and other full-range bodyweight workouts with few modifications offered that might be a bit too difficult for newbies. I can see this becoming barrier for entry for folks just starting to work out, and it would be easy to get discouraged when you can’t do all the moves of even the easiest workouts on the platform.

    What types of workouts does Tonal offer?

    Tonal offers classes across the following types: barre, bootcamp, boxing, cardio, custom, dance cardio, family fitness, golf, high intensity, kickboxing, meditation, mobility, pilates, pre and postnatal, quick workouts, recovery, strength, Theragun, warm-up, and yoga.

    Tonal's workout types listed in the app
    Filter workout classes by workout type, length, difficulty, instructor, and more. Credit: Screenshot: Tonal
    Tonal's movement types listed in the app
    Or brush up on your squats, bench presses, and more when you filter by movement. Credit: Screenshot: Tonal

    You'll also be able to filter classes to pick ones with certain coaches, goals, durations, body regions, level, muscle groups, and look at your completed and saved classes. Of course, Tonal will also recommend classes for you which will show up on the home screen (as well as the app) and you can parse through programs, live class schedules, articles, Tonal 101 tutorials, and different individual movements to get a head start on your workouts.

    Tonal vs. Mirror

    We reviewed both the Tonal and the Mirror, and the Tonal is hands down going to be a better option for strength training. The Mirror is the slightly more budget-friendly option at $1,495, but Tonal has more features than the average fitness mirror that make the higher price seem more reasonable. With a touch screen, AI weight adjustments, real-time form corrections, and all the smart accessories, I enjoyed Tonal workouts much more than Mirror workouts.

    Tonal classes also tended to challenge me more than Mirror workout classes, which needed more self-motivation since they mostly relied on bodyweight and free weights. There's something about a cool (and expensive) piece of technology to motivate you to workout, and Tonal does that. As someone who almost never seeks out strength-focused classes, Tonal made me excited to lift weights.

    Person kneeling in front of the Mirror.
    The design of the Mirror is more streamlined and stylish, but Tonal has way more smart features. Credit: Jae Thomas

    One thing to note about Mirror versus Tonal though, is that the instructors at Mirror tend to be a bit more friendly and personable than the Tonal instructors. Tonal instructors seem a little more corporate, like they're on a script. They speak about Tonal as though it were a person, saying things like "Tonal is your best friend" or "Tonal just knows you" which is a bit dystopian and slightly creepy. You won't find high-vibe wacky instructors at Tonal like you do at other digital fitness services (looking at you, Peloton), but if you're into more straightforward workout classes, you probably won't mind the scripted feeling, if you can get past the instructors speaking about Tonal as though it's a sentient being.

    What's going on with the Tonal price increase?

    The price of the Tonal trainer is set to go up in the coming weeks by $500. The new base price of the trainer will be $3,495, and that does not include tax, shipping, installation, accessories, or the monthly membership fee. Tonal attributed this price increase to "macroeconomic conditions" and supply chain issues. This isn't a big surprise considering the current state of inflation — we've seen other fitness companies moving their pricing around as well. Recently, Peloton also announced they'd be raising their monthly digital membership cost.

    We've rated the Tonal a 3 out of 5 in the bang for the buck category because we know it'll be getting a price increase very soon.

    Is Tonal worth it?

    If you manage to buy your Tonal trainer before the price increase goes into effect, it's definitely more worth it. It's a big investment, but will replace basically every other piece of fitness equipment in your home. I'm personally not a fan of strength training (I'm a die-hard Peloton bike fan), but Tonal actually made me want to get stronger — and it made weight lifting much more accessible skill-wise than going to a gym and fudging around on random machines.

    View the full article

  10. A girl in headphones looks to the sky, stares into the camera, with her eyes glazed over.

    We're aware by now that one's favourite song has the power to open a lifeline from the realm Steve calls "Vecna's red soup mind world" in Netfix's Stranger Things, like Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" did for Max.

    What would be yours? Which song do you love so much it'd drag you out of imminent peril? Spotify wants to suggest one.

    The music streaming platform has launched a new "Upside Down playlist" topped with your very own saviour song, one Spotify's algorithm reckons you love enough that it would save your butt.

    According to Spotify, "The Upside Down Playlist takes some of your favorite songs and mixes them with a handful of Stranger Things classics to create a vibe strong enough to ward off Hawkins’ most fearsome foe."

    My own playlist seems to be exactly that, with mainly indie and '80s tracks on there. My saviour song? Apparently Dry Cleaning's "Scratchcard Lanyard" would save me from Vecna's bone-distorting wrath. I do love that song, and it does have major running from pieces of falling Creel House vibes. But look, Stranger Things fans would probably secretly want Kate Bush's major track to appear for them just like Max, so you can always find that in Netflix's official Stranger Things 4 playlist.

    There's a few cute-sounding Easter eggs to look out for. On Android and desktop, the progress bar should turn into a flashlight "that cuts through the darkness of the Upside Down," and scrolling through the playlist on mobile should generate something weird — I tried this and it didn't work for me, but you might have more luck.

    Spotify has enjoyed a spot of streaming success thanks to the Netflix show — Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)" not only topped the charts again, but saw Spotify streams increase by more than 8,700 percent globally following the Season 4 release. What even is that number?

    You can find your own Upside Down playlist on Spotify while you think about all the burning questions that Stranger Things 4: Volume 2 better answer.

    Stranger Things 4: Volume 2 is streaming on Netflix July 2.

    View the full article

  11. Person using a Ryobi Electric Pressure Washer on a deck.

    If you’ve ever used a pressure washer, you know how fun it can be to use that firehose-level water power to zap everything from oil stains to bird droppings from a driveway, patio, or deck. It used to be that you’d have to rent a pressure washer due to their high cost, but in the past decade or so power washers have become much more affordable and accessible to buy. But you want to buy the right one, and there are a lot of considerations to take into account. Here’s what to keep in mind when looking to buy the best pressure washer for your needs. 

    What is a pressure washer?

    A pressure washer is a type of power tool which runs off either electricity or gas. It’s also sometimes referred to as a pressure cleaner or power washer. It works by using a motor that powers a pump, forcing water at high pressure through a concentrating nozzle. This high-pressure spray offers excellent cleaning power, and can quickly blast away dirt and grime from surfaces such as decks, driveways, and patios, among others. Pressure washers can also be used for cleaning outdoor chairs, siding, and other items with far less elbow grease and in far less time than using a bucket of soap and a scrub brush. 

    How do pressure washers work?

    Pressure washers work by using a motor that powers a pump, forcing water at high pressure through a concentrating nozzle. This creates a high-pressure spray that makes it quick and easy to clean various surfaces around your home. Pressure washing also offers general sweeping to help remove large debris from surfaces, in addition to deep cleaning surfaces.

    What kinds of pressure washers are there? 

    Not all pressure washers are created equal, and there are a few different types. Mainly, there are electric pressure washers, gas-powered pressure washers, and commercial pressure washers. Electric-powered pressure washers run off electricity and require access to a power outlet, while gas-powered washers run off gas. Commercial washers are longer-lasting and pack more power thanks to a higher PSI rating. Commercial pressure washers are almost exclusively gas-powered.

    Which is better: Gas or electric pressure washers?

    Whether you go with a gas-powered or an electric-powered pressure washer will depend on a number of factors. You want to consider how you’ll be using the machine and what you’ll be cleaning with it. Most residential applications can be tackled with an electric washer, though those with more high-intensity cleaning needs and larger areas will appreciate the extra power that a gas power washer provides.

    Electric pressure washers are convenient, light-duty machines that tend to be cheaper, quieter, and more portable than their gas-powered counterparts. This makes them ideal for residential jobs such as cleaning fencing and removing grime from siding. They’re also safer to use indoors, since there is no exhaust. 

    Gas-powered pressure washers often deliver higher pressure than their electric counterparts – more than 3,000 PSI. This makes them ideal for deep-cleaning concrete, stripping paint, and more high-intensity cleaning jobs. Unlike electric pressure cleaners, they create a loud sound and emit harmful exhaust fumes while running.

    What kinds of surfaces can be pressure washed, and what kinds can’t or shouldn’t be? 

    You can use a pressure cleaner to wash various surfaces, including: 

    • Vehicles

    • Patio furniture

    • Grills

    • Siding

    • Decks 

    • Fences

    • Patios

    • Decks 

    • Boats

    • Unpainted metal

    • Driveways

    • Concrete 

    You should avoid using a pressure washer on some surfaces, including: 

    • People

    • Pets

    • Plants

    • Wood siding

    • Electrical panels and meters

    • Asphalt shingles

    • Air conditioners

    • Lead paint

    • Old mortar

    • Painted surfaces (unless you’re stripping the paint)

    • Windows

    • Light fixtures

    • Gutters

    What should I consider when choosing a pressure washer?

    Not all pressure washers are created equal. A pressure washer should provide enough power to clean surfaces without damaging them, in addition to being lightweight and easy to operate. Here’s what to consider when evaluating the options for the best pressure washer for your needs:

    • Power. Perhaps the most important feature when comparing pressure washers is how much power it offers – as this is one of the best indications of how well it will clean. The simplest way of figuring this out is to use a formula to determine the machine’s cleaning units (CU). (Sometimes it’s listed on the box, sometimes not.) Simply take the machine’s pounds per square inch (PSI) and gallons per minute (GPM) ratings and multiply them. The more CU, the more cleaning power a machine has.  

    • PSI. PSI is very important when pressure washing, as the higher the PSI, the more force the water will have on the surface you're cleaning. Too high a PSI and you can easily damage the surface you’re trying to clean. Pressure washers in the 1,000-2,000 PSI range are considered light-duty, while those in the 2,000-2,800 range are medium-duty. Pressure washers above 2,800 PSI are considered heavy duty. 

    • GPM. GPM stands for gallons per minute, and is also known as the water flow rate. The higher the GPM, the faster the cleaning process as more water is released. Conversely, the lower the GPM, the longer the cleaning process will take.

    • Nozzles. Pressure washers generally come with either 3-4 color-coded nozzle tips, or sometimes a dial-type multi-spray pattern nozzle. Nozzles range from 0° (which shoots a direct jet of water onto the surface, in an area the size of a quarter) to 65° (which uses a larger opening to decrease velocity and increase hose pressure). The lower the nozzle range, the more high-powered the spray, and the more easily you can damage the surface you’re power washing. 

    • Hot vs. cold water. Cold water pressure washers are generally less complicated to use, more affordable, and more portable than their hot water counterparts. However, a hot water pressure washer requires less water and cleans better with less soap. You can also use a hot water pressure washer to sanitize surfaces.  

    • Portability. Lightweight and compact pressure washers are easier to carry around and store. Otherwise, you can look for a model with an integrated wheel system for added convenience and maneuverability.   

    • Price point. Finally, consider how much you are willing to spend on a pressure washer, as they can vary in price from $100-$500 or more.  

    How much PSI do I need to power wash my driveway, deck, or concrete?

    In order to clean a driveway, you’ll want to look for a pressure washer somewhere in the range of 2000 and 2800 PSI at 2-3 GPM. Pressure washers with these specs tend to be medium to heavy-duty. If you opt for a lighter-duty pressure washer, you might still be able to clean your driveway – it just may take more passes, and ultimately more time. 

    In order to pressure wash a deck, you want a machine with around 1300 to 2000 PSI at 2 GPM. Pressure washers with these specs tend to be light-duty, but you can also use a medium or heavy-duty pressure washer to clean your deck – just be mindful of the spray power. 

    To clean concrete, you’ll want a medium or heavy-duty washer anywhere from 2000-3000 PSI with a flow rate of at least 2.5 GPM. 

    What about safety when it comes to pressure washers?

    Safety is a very important consideration when it comes to using a pressure washer, as they deliver a highly concentrated and powerful high-pressure stream of water. This can cause serious injury and damage property if not used carefully. You should never spray your pressure washer closer than 6-inches to whatever it is that you’re cleaning. You should also avoid using the 0-degree nozzle in order to prevent damage or injury.

    The pressure washing process requires more than simply getting a machine and blasting away. You can cause significant damage to surfaces, including pitting, lines, and surface degradation, which may result in additional problems and costly repairs.

    Do I need an expensive pressure washer to get my job done?

    While it’s true that pressure washers come at all sorts of price points from the budget-friendly to splurge-worthy, you don’t have to break the bank to get a pressure washer that meets your needs. The major difference between prices when it comes to power washers is features, including nozzle attachments, and PSI + GPM. A lighter-duty (see: less expensive) pressure washer is adequate for most home uses, you just might need to go over the area more than once. Around 2,000 PSI hits the sweet spot of light and medium-duty cleaning needs, with plenty of options in price points to suit everyone. 

    View the full article

  12. The cool thing about producer, composer and experimental artist Dylan Tauber’s work is that even though it is on the experimental end of EDM, it’s still EDM and it’s universally palettable. Oftentimes experimental music can be sharp or harsh, as the artist gets so caught up in experimenting with sound and the science of it all, it fails to be music in the eyes and ears of some audiences. This is not the case with Tauber, whose pedigree is firmly rooted in complex composition and sonic science, because he’s also always interested in the beauty of the composition. Perhaps its his other disciplines like photography and digital art; Tauber’s always about the overall impact, and his new album He Loves Carmen, released in April on his own Son of Waves Studio imprint, certainly leaves and impact.

    YEDM started following Tauber in 2017 when he released the first of his Sounds from Space albums, the second volume of which was his most recent album prior to He Loves Carmen. Before that was another notable series called Dolphin Trance, which is where Tauber really started to make his mark on trance and rave music. Prior to that, Tauber was much more on the ambient end of EDM and on the experimental end of ambient, but it seems with He Loves Carmen, he’s committed to being a trancy pants, at least for now.

    Apparently inspired by his girlfriend, the production on He Loves Carmen is really a new level for Tauber. He’s really got the ambient/experimental and dance world to meld this time. From the vintage rave hints in album opener “Don’t Tell Me” to the 80s synthwave-inspired future bass of pseudo-title track “I Love Carmen” to the rave pop of “Let It Go,” the chill, synthy trance of He Loves Carmen has a solid, consistent feel with an emotive and heart-lifting base.

    One of the main reasons He Loves Carmen has such a unified feel and emotion to it, as well as the way in which it feels so modern despite all the vintage tones and tack is the vocalist Tauber collaborated with on the whole album. Ukrainian vocalist Anastasia Derkach has lent her unique and pitch-perfect vox to a few tracks prior to connecting with Tauber, but it seems on this release with him giving her carte blanche to really use her voice on several of the tracks like “I Miss You,” “I Love Carmen” and “All I want Is You,” it really galvanized the feeling of this album. Derkach has the sort of voice that’s both childlike and timeless both modern and vintage and ties all the styles and sounds of He Loves Carmen together even more.

    It feels odd to say that He Loves Carmen might be Dylan Tauber’s best work to-date, mostly because one could say that about each of his 14 albums and it would always be true. Tauber’s a master of sound science and creates a new world of sound for each album he releases. For the EDM, set, however, this one will hit different. Expertly produced and full of beautiful composition to keep the tech nerds happy but effortlessly emotive and covering a wide range of eras at the same time, He Loves Carmen also happens to fit in perfectly with what’s hot right now in electronica. It’s sort of a Hudson Mohawke effect, driven once again by Derkach’s vocals: the emotion, the tech, the skill and the cool all just come together here, and it’s even more poignant that it’s inspired by love.

    He Loves Carmen is out now and can be streamed on Spotify. To see more of his music videos from this and other albums, visit Dylan Tauber’s YouTube page.

    This article was first published on Your EDM. Source: YEDM Album Review: Dylan Tauber Has Summer Chill Trance Covered With ‘He Loves Carmen’

    View the full article

  13. RadioShack store

    "If you find a squirter marry her."

    That's the tweet currently taking over Twitter, with shocked reactions in the replies and quotes tweets asking, "What in the world is going on?"

    The tweet wasn't accidentally sent by a politician or a hacked company's account.

    RadioShack "Squirter" Tweet
    RadioShack's "squirter" tweet went viral on Wednesday. Credit: Mashable Screenshot

    It was tweeted by RadioShack... on purpose

    But why would RadioShack tweet such a thing? It's simple: RadioShack is a cryptocurrency company now. 

    Radio Shack Swap
    A screenshot of the Radio Shack Swap homepage. Credit: Mashable Screenshot

    That's right. RadioShack has pivoted to the blockchain and launched its own crypto exchange called Radio Shack Swap. The company even has its own token called $RADIO, currently trading at around a penny. (The crypto crash seems to have knocked it down by two-thirds of its pre-crash value.)

    If you visit RadioShack's website right now, you'll see that it still does sell some electronic odds-and-ends. But, front and center on the main page is the RadioShack cryptocurrency platform.

    RadioShack homepage
    Radioshack's main website is focused on promoting its cryptocurrency platform right now. Credit: Mashable Screenshot

    In order to appeal to the libertarian-leaning crypto "degens," (crypto slang for "degenerates," which some crypto advocates refer to themselves as) the 100-year-old electronics store has also pivoted to posting "edgy" content on Twitter. And while the since-deleted "squirter" tweet may be its biggest attention-grabbing success so far, it's not the first time the account's gone viral due to the shock value of seeing your dad's go-to outlet for old ham radio spare parts slum it up online with some tweet-then-delete edgelord humor.

    "who else high af rn" tweeted the @RadioShack account on June 16.

    "Taking the second half of an edible after feeling nothing from the first half is always a bad idea. This chocolate bar got me out here fighting for my life," it posted on June 28.

    RadioShack "This Guy Fucks" Tweet
    Edgelord RadioShack. Credit: Mashable Screenshot

    "This guy fucks," @RadioShack replied to a user who posted a photo of their old RadioShack "Battery Club" card.

    "congrats on the landing of your new giant metal cock elon" the account sent as a reply to Elon Musk on June 17.

    RadioShack's move from your grandpa's electronic retailer to its current incarnation as a cryptocurrency pumper occurred after the company was bought out by Retail Ecommerce Ventures (REV) in 2020. This was after a tumultuous period for the company, during which it closed a slew of stores and filed for bankruptcy. When REV purchased the company, RadioShack had just 400 physical retail locations, down from its peak of 7,300.

    REV is owned by Tai Lopez, who YouTubers know as the internet marketing guy that has long filled the platform with pre-roll video ads promoting "get rich quick" schemes. Perhaps his most well known YouTube video advertisement is "Here in My Garage," which features Lopez showing off his Lamborghini. It currently has more than 71 million video views.

    This isn't Lopez's first endeavor in the crypto space. He launched his own line of NFTs earlier this year, which was quickly labeled a scam by critics who claimed that Lopez "siphons out the funds" as soon as a user would mint an NFT. 

    If REV is successful in its crypto vision for a relaunched RadioShack, perhaps we'll see other companies make the pivot, too. Over the years, Lopez's REV has acquired a number of legacy brands, which include Modell's Sporting Goods, Dressbarn, Linens 'n Things, and Pier1.

    Wicker Basket Coin, anyone?

    View the full article

  14. Self describes as a “sonic journey through time and space“, 44 Ardent truly has a gift at creating cinematic soundscapes with intriguing arrangements that make for songs that will truly stand the test of time. We are so excited to premiere his latest single, “intothedeep,” the title track off the forthcoming EP slated to release in August, signed to Mammal Sounds Records.

    “intothedeep is probably my favourite song on the whole record. I was a bit self-indulgent with the synths and the sound design on this one and didn’t hold back! – 44 Ardent

    Yet again, 44 Ardent delivers a mesmerizing single, glistening with bright melodies and a mesmerizing groove that can’t help but leave you hooked the whole way through. 44 Ardent adds:

    The song sort of sucks you right in with a wall of sound as soon as the drum fill hits and then it spits you back out for a little bit before a totally different wall of sound at the one-minute mark. I’ve mentioned previously that the EP is loosely themed around climate change. I suppose this is the “ocean” song. I can imagine it being played with a powerful stormy ocean in the background.” 

    Listen below!



    This article was first published on Your EDM. Source: PREMIERE: 44 Ardent Drops Mesmerizing Single “intothedeep” via Mammal Sounds Records

    View the full article

  15. A still from the Prime Video series

    If you just watch this 30-second slice of the upcoming Prime Video series, Paper Girls, you'll pick up on a few things. Four newspaper delivery girls — Erin (Riley Lai Nelet), KJ (Fina Strazza), Tiffany (Camryn Jones), and Mac (Sofia Rosinsky) — get zapped into the future, where they meet the adult version of Erin (played by Ali Wong). There are some flashes of more intense moments, but the overall vibe is pretty light.

    There's more going on here, though. Paper Girls is adapted from the comics by Brian K. Vaughn (Y: The Last Man, Saga) and illustrated by Cliff Chiang (Catwoman: Lonely City) and its particular take on time travel is fraught with threats and danger for its protagonists. You can catch glimpses of vaguely scary imagery in the opening half of this teasing 30-second look, but that's all you'll really get unless you poke around on the internet outside the trailer.

    It won't be much longer for those who prefer to wait, though. All eight episodes of Paper Girls come to Prime Video on July 29.

    View the full article

  16. Moody illustration of a woman looking at her phone.

    TikTokkers have been sharing their results from BetterMe's "Childhood Trauma Test," but the site's privacy policy reveals that the test is a data collection tool.

    A typical TikTok about the test starts with something like, "Test shouldn't be that bad. My childhood was good," before the creator reveals their test results that show severe levels of trauma. The tags "trauma test" and "childhood trauma test" have 12.7 and 2.1 million views respectively.

    BetterMe is a Ukrainian subscription-based behavioral healthcare platform with two products: BetterMe Health Coaching and BetterMe Mental Health. BetterMe Health Coaching creates a workout and nutrition plan for you and BetterMe Mental Health focuses on meditation techniques to improve your life.

    The Childhood Trauma Test asks a series of invasive questions including, "were you often punished in childhood" and "do you easily make negative assumptions about what others are thinking about you and your actions?"

    Then, in order to receive your results, you have to give the platform your email address. Your results show your levels of rejection trauma, abandonment trauma, betrayal trauma, and injustice trauma. But there is no information on how the test was designed and if it's been vetted by the mental health community. It proceeds to offer you a customized healing plan that you have to pay for, of course.

    BetterMe's privacy policy indicates that the test collects a lot of your personal data.

    "We collect data from your mobile device. Examples of such data include: language settings, IP address, time zone, type and model of a device, device settings, operating system, Internet service provider, mobile carrier, hardware ID, and Facebook ID."

    All these data points can be used to personally identify you if you take the test. BetterMe shares this data with third parties including Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Snapchat.

    There is a questionnaire that mental health professionals use to inventory what is known as "Adverse Childhood Experiences," a term for potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood. This includes experiencing abuse or witnessing violence. The ACE questionnaire was developed by Kaiser Permanente based on their study of child abuse and neglect's impact on later-life health and well-being. However, there is no flashy end to this quiz, as it is mainly used by mental health professionals.

    If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, Crisis Text Line provides free, confidential support 24/7. Text CRISIS to 741741 to be connected to a crisis counselor. Contact the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI, Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. ET, or email [email protected] You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Here is a list of international resources.

    View the full article

  17. It’s been two years since the last NO.SLEEP mix from ODESZA, and two years before that previously, as well. Now, the duo return for an hour of vibes on Mix 13.

    The full tracklist is available in the description on YouTube and contains songs from Jamie xx, Caribou, Sam Gellaitry, Fred Again.., and more.

    Listen below. ODESZA’s album The Last Goodbye is out July 22 via Foreign Family Collective/Ninja Tune.


    Photo via Alexander Babarikin

    This article was first published on Your EDM. Source: ODESZA Drop Newest NO.SLEEP Mix After Another Two Years

    View the full article

  18. Kim DotcomThere’s an old proverb that goes something like “An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city” and that “arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.”

    Many of us have been there at some point in our lives but most of us don’t have more than 850K followers on Twitter watching our disputes play out in public. Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom does, and in recent weeks his irritation with two former friends and colleagues has started to boil over.

    Kim Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk, appeared to be great friends and business partners when building and running Megaupload together. Even after the US Government tore the service down in 2012, the trio worked hard to launch New Zealand file-hosting service Mega in 2013, aiming to emulate Megaupload’s success, minus the legal bills.

    Criticism of Mega Begins

    What happened next is unclear but according to New Zealand’s company register, Dotcom resigned as a Mega director on August 29, 2013. Ortmann gave up his directorship on April 1, 2015, but along with colleague van der Kolk, he still works at Mega today.

    During the summer of 2013, Dotcom declared he was done with Mega and was no longer a shareholder. He wanted to concentrate on building Baboom, the music platform concept formerly known as Megabox.

    A year later, Dotcom severed all ties with Baboom. Dotcom’s shares in Baboom had been acquired by an early investor in Mega and just a few months later, Dotcom declared Mega “unsafe” citing a “hostile takeover by a Chinese investor.”

    In the years that followed Dotcom periodically criticized Mega, including in 2016 when he repeated his claims of Chinese influence while warning users to backup their files. At the time, Mega chairman Stephen Hall said he didn’t know what was motivating Dotcom to make such comments but more than six years on, Dotcom is still making them.

    Ortmann and van der Kolk Become New Targets

    Turning his attention to former colleagues Ortmann and van der Kolk, last week Dotcom publicly blamed them for his exit from Mega, claiming they had “stolen” the company from him. How this dovetails with previous allegations related to his major falling out with former Mega CEO Tony Lentino, who also founded domain name registrar Instra, is unknown.

    Local media reports suggest that Dotcom hasn’t spoken to former friends Ortmann and van der Kolk for years but their recent deal to avoid extradition in the Megaupload case by pleading guilty to organized crime charges puts Dotcom in a tough spot.

    “My co-defendants who claimed to be innocent for 10+ years were offered a sweet exit deal for a false confession,” he said last week. And he wasn’t finished there.

    After a research team found that Mega was vulnerable to attacks that allow for a “full compromise of the confidentiality of user files”, Ortmann himself responded via a security notification stating that the issues had been fixed.

    In response, Dotcom accused Ortmann and van der Kolk of creating “backdoors” in Mega so that the Chinese government could decrypt users’ files. “Same shady guys who just made a deal with the US and NZ Govt to get out of the US extradition case by falsely accusing me,” he added.

    Conflict Risks Collateral Damage

    Whether this reference to the no-extradition-deal betrayed what was really on Dotcom’s mind is up for debate but whatever the motivation, he’s not letting it go. In a tweet posted yesterday, he again informed his 850K+ followers that the company he founded “is not safe” and people who think that their files are unreadable by Mega are wrong.

    Shortly after, Dotcom delivered another message, one even darker in tone. It targeted Mega, the company he co-founded and where his colleagues still work. It’s possible to interpret the tweet in several ways but none seem beneficial to his former colleagues, Mega, or its users.

    “In addition to security vulnerabilities a comprehensive report about mass copyright infringement on Mega with millions of active links and channels is in the works,” he said.


    The production of a copyright infringement report related to Mega or Megaupload is something usually associated with Dotcom’s rivals. Back in 2014, a NetNames report did just that and was met with a fiery response from Dotcom’s former company.

    In this case, however, Dotcom claims the aim of the new infringement report is to bathe Mega and Megaupload in the same light, to benefit them both. By showing their similarities, the report will demonstrate that “Mega is still like Megaupload, a perfectly legal dual use technology.”

    Whether technology is indeed the crux of this particular problem is up for debate.

    None of the charges to which Ortmann and van der Kolk pleaded guilty are technology-reliant but instead stand on a common basis of human intent. Barring technicalities, that’s often where complex copyright cases find themselves hanging in the balance.

    But perhaps the most worrying thing about this new complication in an escalating dispute is its potential to affect the minority of users that actually store infringing files on Mega. Any detailed report of “mass copyright infringement” will draw negative attention directly to them, especially if the report includes active hyperlinks as Dotcom suggests.

    Couple that with Dotcom’s allegations that the content of user files can be read, any conclusion that this upcoming infringement report hasn’t been thought through from a user perspective can be easily forgiven. That certainly wasn’t the case when users were invited to join the privacy-focused site when it launched.

    “Let them look at Mega. There’s nothing to see (because) it’s all encrypted,” Dotcom told Reuters in 2014, scoffing at the prospect of another Hollywood lawsuit.

    But even if user files can’t be read in the way Dotcom suggests, a detailed report of live, infringing links on Mega still raises issues for users. When Mega-hosted files are shared publicly, their links carry the necessary information to access the content and those files can be traced right back to user accounts.

    As usual there’s a lot to unpack here, with many ifs, buts, maybes, and sundry moving parts. If nothing else though, perhaps the most important takeaway is that when friends start fighting over emotional matters, avoiding collateral damage isn’t always a top priority.

    From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

    View the full article

  19. Madelaine Petsch as Cheryl Blossom and Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina Spellman on Riverdale.

    Sabrina Spellman has another chilling adventure coming up: an appearance on Riverdale.

    Fans, including myself, were devastated when Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was canceled by Netflix in 2020. Why should Riverdale, which resides in the same Archie Comics universe, be renewed for yet another season and not Chilling Adventures of Sabrina? When Sabrina Spellman’s appearance on Season 6, Episode 19 of Riverdale was announced, people took to Twitter to express their mixed feelings and confusion.

    Some folks are just happy with the thought of seeing Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina Spellman, our beloved teen witch, on screen again:

    However, for others, the announcement of Spellman’s appearance on Riverdale has brought back painful memories of the show’s cancellation, along with the saltiness of Riverdale’s continuation. People are concerned that the crossover will taint Sabrina’s legacy.

    According to the episode’s trailer, it seems as though Sabrina Spellman will be visiting Riverdale to help bring Archie and Jughead back from the dead. Riverdale and Greendale (where Sabrina is from) are neighboring towns in the Archie Comics universe, so the crossover itself isn’t far-fetched. However, Riverdale’s turn to the supernatural in Season 6 is a drastic change for the show, considering it’s been supernatural-free for the past five seasons. Season 6 of Riverdale kicked off with a special five-episode sequence called “Rivervale,” establishing the Blossom family’s history with magic and the supernatural. For former fans of the CW series, Riverdale’s turn to the supernatural — a hallmark of the channel — isn’t any more or less surprising than some of the show’s wilder plots and continued commitment to musicals. 

    Sabrina’s appearance on Riverdale has also left people with a burning question: Is Sabrina alive, and if she is, how? Spellman technically died and crossed over to the Sweet Hereafter (a version of heaven in the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina). If she’s on Riverdale, it either means the events of the show take place before her death, Sabrina has been resurrected. 

    This is also not the first time Sabrina Spellman has been featured in Riverdale. Her brief appearance in Season 6, Episode 4 left Chilling Adventures of Sabrina fans upset because of her short screen time. People are afraid that this might happen with her upcoming appearance in Episode 19 as well. Excitement and fear aside, fans are just upset that they’ll have to begrudgingly watch Riverdale just to see Sabrina again.

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