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    The FTC is reportedly investigating Meta’s VR division for antitrust violations


    The US Federal Trade Commission and at least three states are investigating Meta for antitrust violations in its virtual reality division, according to Bloomberg. The report says the FTC and attorneys general from New York, Tennessee, and North Carolina began speaking last year with third-party VR developers who have concerns about Meta’s business practices. It’s one of multiple probes into Meta’s dominance in the small but growing market of VR.

    The Bloomberg report references well-known controversies around Meta (formerly Facebook) and its VR division (formerly Oculus). Regulators have reportedly asked developers if the Oculus app store discriminates against third-party apps whose features overlap with its own offerings, and they’ve apparently questioned Meta’s strategy of selling the Meta Quest (formerly Oculus Quest) headset at a $299 price point that heavily undercuts the price of other VR headsets. The FTC declined to comment on Bloomberg’s report.

    The FTC has allegedly already opened a probe into Meta’s acquisition of Within, the company behind VR fitness app Supernatural. The US Justice Department also reportedly investigated similar claims in late 2020. German regulators publicly announced an investigation around the same time.

    So far, VR has still gotten little attention compared to other Meta divisions. The FTC is currently pursuing an antitrust lawsuit against the company over its acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp; after a setback last year, a judge revived the suit earlier this week. But as Meta has begun emphasizing its role as a steward of a VR-heavy “metaverse,” the area may invite more legal scrutiny as well.



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    Google’s critical Pixel 6 January update is here


    Google is in the process of releasing a much-anticipated update for Pixel 6 phones. Earlier today, Android expert Mishaal Rahman noted that Google posted OTA and factory images to its developer site for the January 2022 patch. That means anyone can sideload the update to their Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro now, and the official over-the-air update has already arrived on some devices (including some owned by Verge staff).

    In an email, Google confirmed the rollout has begun, and that the software will automatically roll out over the next week, depending on your device and wireless carrier.

    Using the phones’ built-in checker may start the process now, and if it doesn’t, sideloading is still an option. However, waiting for the regular rollout instead of doing a manual install may be the best way to go, given the trouble caused by December’s update.

    This patch includes numerous bug fixes and a few new features that Pixel 6 owners have been anxiously awaiting. It’s supposed to tweak the fingerprint sensor, camera, and support 23W wireless charging with the second-generation Pixel Stand. On the Pixel 6 Pro, you can use its ultra-wideband chip for digital car key access to compatible BMWs. This update also adds the “Quick Tap to Snap” integration that Google and Snapchat touted during the devices’ launch event and new bass controls for the Pixel Buds A-Series.

    Google originally intended to ship those features in the December update but halted and ultimately removed the files from its site when users complained of connectivity troubles after installing the patch. Google says that the January update has fixes for those bugs, and includes the December update’s fixes to address bugs that have driven at least one well-known Pixel 6 user to ditch the phone entirely.

    With the images public and one Canadian telecom company citing Monday, January 17th for the release, we thought the patch would arrive next week, but it’s already here. That’s none too soon for people who bought the Pixel 6 or 6 Pro expecting to get a premium device. While the hardware is truly flagship-level, the software experience hasn’t always been smooth.

    Update January 14th, 4:30PM ET: Updated to reflect that the update is rolling out now.

    Update January 14th, 4:55PM ET: Updated to note Google’s confirmation of the update, and that it includes both the December and January changes.

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    Google Pixel 6 Series’ ‘At a Glance’ Widget Getting New Settings for Fitness, Bedtime: Report

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    Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphones are reportedly receiving a new update for the “At a Glance” widget. The update is said to bring bedtime and fitness settings for users. The new settings for At a Glance are said to be a part of the January update for Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphones. The new update for the At a Glance widget — part of the January update — brings many options such as Doorbell, Timer and Stopwatch, Bedtime, and more.

    According to Android analyst Mishaal Rahman, users of Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will be getting some new settings for the At a Glance widget for the Pixel launcher. At the moment, users will reportedly be getting toggles for Timer and Stopwatch, Bedtime, and Fitness settings. The Fitness setting is said to show data from Adidas Running and Strava. It is being speculated that the Fitness setting will support other fitness apps as well. At a Glance also has an option to hide sensitive information on the lockscreen.

    Android Police reports that these new settings should be available through update 13.1.16.29 for Google app on Pixel 6 series smartphones. The settings are said to be active by default and users can check them by tapping and holding on the At a Glance widget and selecting Preferences in the pop-up menu.

    Rahman first shared the update for At a Glance earlier this month. The widget is available through update 13.0.6.29 for the Google app. The update is said to get toggles for Doorbell, Timer and Stopwatch, Bedtime, Fitness, Connected devices, Flashlight, and Safety check. At the time, Rahman mentioned that only the Doorbell setting for the widget was working as a part of a server-side update.

    As per some screenshots shared by Rahman, the At a Glance widget, when connected to a Google Nest doorbell shows a preview of the visitor as well as a notification on the smartphone when the bell rings. There is no information when the other settings will become active for Google Pixel 6 users. The update is expected to rollout to all users soon.




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    The 7 Best Mirrorless Cameras (2022): Full Frame, APS-C, and More

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    You know what’s the least important part of taking a great photo? Gear. The vision you have and the work you put into realizing it are far more critical.

    That’s not to say gear doesn’t matter, just that it’s best used in service of something larger, not obsessed over. That’s why this guide doesn’t get too deep into the weeds of megapixel counts, sensor sizes, and pixel peeping. All these cameras are capable of producing amazing images; which one is right for you depends more on your needs than the size of the sensor. 

    But choosing the right one can be confusing. I’ve spent the past year testing dozens in all kinds of shooting scenarios to come up with what I think are the best choices for different types of photographers.

    Be sure to check out our many other buying guides, like the Best Compact Cameras, Best Camera Bags, and Best Action Cameras. 

    Updated January 2022: We’ve added the Sony A7 IV, which is now our top pick for most people, and updated pricing and availability throughout.

    Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.

    If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED



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    Nvidia’s AI-powered scaling makes old games look better without a huge performance hit


    Nvidia’s latest game-ready driver includes a tool that could let you improve the image quality of games that your graphics card can easily run, alongside optimizations for the new God of War PC port. The tech is called Deep Learning Dynamic Super Resolution, or DLDSR, and Nvidia says you can use it to make “most games” look sharper by running them at a higher resolution than your monitor natively supports.

    DLDSR builds on Nvidia’s Dynamic Super Resolution tech, which has been around for years. Essentially, regular old DSR renders a game at a higher resolution than your monitor can handle and then downscales it to your monitor’s native resolution. This leads to an image with better sharpness but usually comes with a dip in performance (you are asking your GPU to do more work, after all). So, for instance, if you had a graphics card capable of running a game at 4K but only had a 1440p monitor, you could use DSR to get a boost in clarity.

    DLDSR takes the same concept and incorporates AI that can also work to enhance the image. According to Nvidia, this means you can upscale less (and therefore lose less performance) while still getting similar image quality improvements. In real numbers, Nvidia claims you’ll get image quality similar to running at four times the resolution using DSR with only 2.25 times the resolution with DLDSR. Nvidia gives an example using 2017’s Prey: Digital Deluxe running on a 1080p monitor: 4x DSR runs at 108 FPS, while 2.25x DLDSR is getting 143 FPS, only two frames per second slower than running at native 1080p.

    Of course, you may want to take those impressive results with a grain of salt, as Nvidia’s obviously going to want to show one of the best-case examples. In the real world, you may get different results with different games, both in terms of FPS and what settings you have to run DLDSR in to get it looking crisp. Given its wider game support, though, you’ll probably be able to play around with it using one of your favorite older titles — though you still will need an RTX card, and they aren’t exactly easy to get right now.

    This isn’t the first time Nvidia’s used deep learning to improve image quality and performance — it’s gotten a lot of praise for its Deep Learning Super Sampling, or DLSS, system. However, DLSS needs to be specifically supported by the game, and the list of games you can use it with is relatively small (though, as of today, it includes God of War).

    AMD, Nvidia’s graphics card competitor, has also announced tech to improve performance and graphics on a wide array of games. It calls its approach Radeon Super Resolution, and while it doesn’t use exactly the same methods as DLSS or DLDSR (AMD has its own upscaling tech called virtual super resolution), it’s aiming towards the same goal.

    If you want to try out Nvidia’s DLDSR, update to the latest driver, then open up Nvidia Control Panel app. Go to Manage 3D Settings, click the DSR – Factors drop-down, and select one of the DL Scaling options.



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    Flipkart Grocery Service Expands Its Service to 1,800 Cities Across India

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    Flipkart, India’s homegrown e-commerce platform, has ramped up its Grocery operations to now service consumers in Tier 2 and Tier 3+ cities such as Ajmer, Amritsar, Bhuj, Bokaro, Daman & Diu, Dehradun, Kanyakumari, and more, the Walmart-owned company announced on Monday. Flipkart Grocery is now available in 23 states across the country and is offering its services in 1,800 cites and 10,000 PIN codes. Consumers in these cities will now have the option to purchase groceries from a selection of over 6,000 products, the company said.

    Flipkart says it has made deep investments in its Grocery business over the last two years. It has established 22 pan-India grocery fulfilment centres that have created thousands of direct and indirect jobs which have aided in giving a boost to local employment. Furthermore, this expansion is expected to help local farmers by offering them a platform to become part of the digital economy. Now, as a fresh wave of COVID-19 cases has swept across the country, Flipkart Grocery is a safe option that lets consumers buy fresh groceries without leaving their homes.

    Smrithi Ravichandran, Vice President Flipkart Grocery, said, “…We are committed to bringing this shopping experience to consumers all over the country, as we strengthen our selection, invest in FPOs and fresh produce, and scale up our supply chain.” These efforts have started bearing their fruit as during this year’s The Big Billion Day event, the Grocery category saw consumers from up to 200 new cities making their first purchases on Flipkart. Flipkart Grocery has seen most of its traffic come from Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, NCR, Patna, and Pune. This category grew overall up to 2.3 times in orders and revenue in comparison to last year.

    As per the recently published Flipkart-Bain report titled ‘How India Shops Online 2021′, the Grocery segment saw increased acceleration and is expected to experience more growth in a post-pandemic era. To make sure that it maintains high quality, Flipkart says it has placed stringent quality controls across its fulfilment centres and Grocery supply chain. Flipkart’s Grocery fulfilment centres are completely digitised and have quality management systems that allow products to be traceable from their raw state until they reach the consumer.


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    Google is now requiring office workers to get weekly molecular COVID-19 tests


    Google will require anyone going to one of its US offices or facilities to have received a negative molecular test for COVID-19, the company informed employees Thursday in a memo obtained by CNBC. Workers going to the office regularly will have to get tested weekly, chief health officer Karen DeSalvo said in the memo, and employees have been asked to report their vaccination status and wear surgical-grade masks indoors.

    Google spokesperson Lora Lee Erickson confirmed to The Verge that a new temporary COVID-19 policy is now being implemented, one where “anyone accessing our sites in the US are expected to obtain a recent negative COVID-19 molecular test before coming onsite” and that it’s offering various kinds of tests at no cost.

    Google offers free at-home testing to full-time employees and contract workers through BioIQ’s PCR-based nasal swab tests, Erickson said, but Bloomberg reported this week that full-time employees also have access to molecular tests from Cue Health that can give results in just a few minutes. Contractors, on the other hand, are specifically being offered the mail-in BioIQ tests, according to a tweet from the Alphabet Workers Union, which means they must wait longer for a result. Erickson tells us that some Google contractors at the company’s datacenters have access to rapid on-site testing using the Cue machines, though.

    The changes arrive as COVID-19 cases have surged across the country and as the omicron variant spreads. These new policies add to Google’s directive from December requiring employees to get vaccinated or risk being forced to take leave and eventually be fired. The company delayed its mandatory return to the office to some point this year in August.

    This week, Meta also upped its health policies for employees, requiring anyone returning to its offices when they open at the end of March to have received a booster dose of a vaccine.

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    Star Wars: Ahsoka Disney+ Series Signs Mary Elizabeth Winstead

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    Mary Elizabeth Winstead has signed for a role in the upcoming Ahsoka Tano live-action series set at Disney Plus.

    According to Variety, Rosario Dawson is set to star in the title role in Ahsoka, whom she first played in season 2 of The Mandalorian.

    It was previously reported that Natasha Liu Bordizzo would star as Sabine Wren and that Ivanna Sakhno would play what is believed to be a new Star Wars character in the series. Details on Winstead’s character are currently being kept under wraps.

    Winstead’s recent feature credits include projects such as Birds of Prey, Gemini Man, and 10 Cloverfield Lane.

    She has also starred in numerous TV shows in recent years, including season 3 of Fargo at FX opposite Star Wars alum Ewan McGregor, who will reprise the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in his own Disney Plus series. Winstead has also starred in shows like Mercy Street, and BrainDead.

    The Ahsoka Tano series was first announced in December 2020. The new series is currently scheduled to begin production in early 2022.

    It was previously reported that Hayden Christensen is expected to appear in the series in the role of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, with Skywalker having mentored Tano when she was a padawan.

    Dave Filoni is writing and executive producing Ahsoka with Jon Favreau also executive producing. Ahsoka is one of several live-action Star Wars series set up at Disney Plus.

    Along with the upcoming third season of The Mandalorian, the streamer is also currently working on the series about Obi-Wan Kenobi starring McGregor, a Cassian Andor series starring Diego Luna, and The Acolyte from creator Leslye Headland, among others. The Book of Boba Fett is also currently airing on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar.


    Ahsoka

    Coming to
    Disney+ Hotstar

    • Genre Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
    • Cast

      Rosario Dawson, Hayden Christensen, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

    • Producer Dave Filoni, Jon Favreau
    • Production Lucasfilm

    For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

    1643030713 719 Star Wars Ahsoka Disney Series Signs Mary Elizabeth Winstead

    Flipkart Grocery Service Expands Its Service to 1,800 Cities Across India

    Apple Delays In-App Account Deletion Requirement, Extends In-App Purchases Exception Until June 30

    1643030714 153 Star Wars Ahsoka Disney Series Signs Mary Elizabeth Winstead

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    Microsoft Teams’ Walkie Talkie feature is now widely available


    Microsoft is making its Walkie Talkie feature of Microsoft Teams generally available to all users of its communications app today. Walkie Talkie lets Microsoft Teams users turn smartphones or tablets into a walkie-talkie that works over cellular data or Wi-FI. It was originally announced two years ago and has been available mostly in preview ever since. The feature launched widely on Android in September of 2020, but now Microsoft says it’s available for Zebra mobile devices as well as iPhones and iPads.

    Microsoft has primarily pitched this at frontline workers, employees who are customer-facing and run day-to-day operations inside companies. The software maker’s collaboration with Zebra Technologies makes it work with a dedicated push-to-talk button for quick and secure communications. These devices are used widely by frontline workers, the employees that have helped steer the world through the ongoing pandemic.

    Walkie Talkie on Zebra devices.
    Image: Microsoft

    Walkie-talkie features are still rare in communications apps. WhatsApp lets you record snippets of audio than can be sent and received, and Slack launched its Discord-like Huddles feature last year to let people drop in and out of calls easily. Apple did launch its own walkie-talkie feature on the Apple Watch in 2018, using push-to-talk over a FaceTime Audio call.

    Correction January 14th, 6:57PM ET: An earlier version of this story said the walkie-talkie feature has been in preview ever since it was announced. In fact, it launched in general availability on Android devices in late 2020. We regret the error.



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    Everyone Wants to Be an EntrepreneurApplications for new businesses rose 20 percent last year, after languishing for a decade. Many newly minted founders attribute it to the pandemic.

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    Everyone Wants to Be an EntrepreneurApplications for new businesses rose 20 percent last year, after languishing for a decade. Many newly minted founders attribute it to the pandemic.



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    ‘Dystopia Is All Too Plausible in ‘The School for Good Mothers’

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    Jessamine Chan’s debut novel, The School for Good Mothers, is not a domestic manual on keeping house. Nor is it the sort of slog that might make tidying look like an appealing alternative. Yet as I read it over the course of one snowy evening, I repeatedly put it down to complete household tasks normally ignored until morning. Dishes gleamed. Pillows got fluffed. Every last sock met its match. This book is a horror story so potent it will fill even the most diligent parent with an itchy impulse to panic-clean, to straighten up, to act like someone’s watching.

    As The School for Good Mothers opens, single mom Frida Liu is strung out from working full-time while simultaneously caring for her 18-month-old daughter, Harriet. When Harriet was a newborn, Frida’s husband left her for a much-younger pilates instructor. (His name is Gust. Like the wind.) Gust had convinced Frida to move to Philadelphia, where she has no family or support system. Now she feels stuck. In a moment of exhaustion, Frida makes a reckless choice: She abandons Harriet for an afternoon, the toddler marooned alone in a bouncer. While Frida drives off to get a takeout coffee and answer emails in her office, Harriet cries so loudly the neighbors hear. Authorities are summoned. Frida begs Child Protective Services for her daughter back, but Gust and his beau Susanna get poor Harriet. Frida is placed under constant surveillance by a snide government team set on exposing her parenting weaknesses. “This is how you show up for work?” a police officer sneers at her sloppy outfit. Frida gets knocked for not having enough friends, for having a bad attitude. Her lawyer explains that CPS has adopted a new, highly aggressive approach. She is given a choice to either permanently lose her daughter, or endure a year at a state-run reeducation camp for bad moms. Desperate to be reunited with Harriet, Frida chooses the school.

    Located in a former liberal arts college, the school in question is a prison with a genteel facade, a leafy, open-concept Room 101. The mothers are forced to chant “I am a bad mother, but I am learning to be good.” They are sorted into groups depending on their children’s age and gender, and matched with eerily lifelike robot children. The AI kiddies are equipped with cameras to record the mothers as they are given lessons on parenting. Instructors drill the women on what tone of voice to use, how many seconds to hug their kids. It is not enough to carry out the tasks required of them; they must do so while thinking the right thoughts and feeling the right feelings, too. “Data collected from the doll has suggested substantial amounts of anger and ingratitude,” Frida learns during a goal-setting session. The surveillance androids give the book its science fiction hook, but what they represent—the societal expectation that mothers be happy, damn it—is immediately recognizable, culled straight from the present day.

    Racism and classism are baked into the program at Frida’s school; most of the prisoners are Black, poor, or both. Second-generation Frida, one of the few Asian Americans, is alternately judged for being too Chinese (a psychologist tries to get her to peg her parents as “withholding” because they weren’t as physically affectionate as American caregivers) and not Chinese enough (she’s not fluent in Mandarin). She is accused of “false tenderness” while gazing at her fake daughter’s crib. She is accused of having a “hostile” grip while she practices cutting food to cook family dinners. Cooking, the school insists, is one of the highest forms of love.

    One of Chan’s canniest narrative moves is making Frida’s judgment just shaky enough to make you want to clasp her shoulders and gently tell her to get it together. Although she repeatedly tries to shrug the inciting incident off as “one really bad day,” Frida does walk out on her daughter for more than two and a half hours, a choice that does endanger Harriet. You get the sense that Frida might not have been terribly consumed by guilt if she’d gotten away with it and come home to a grumpy but unharmed child. She might have even done it again. (Even after getting found out, she remembers feeling a small thrill when she shut the door to leave her daughter.) At the school, she pinches her robot-kid’s arm in a moment of anger, and then walks right into a clear trap by starting up a flirtation with one of the men at the nearby school for bad fathers. She is not always the easiest person to sympathize with, which is, of course, the point. Frida’s flaws ask us to confront how easy it is to turn our noses up at a mom who sometimes gives in to her worst impulses, even if she is genuinely loving.

    Courtesy of Simon and Schuster

    And, oh, Frida loves. She loves so much that she hopes against hope that she’ll get her daughter back. The School for Good Mothers is compared with Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale in a blurb on its cover. The comparison is apt, albeit pat: They are both grim thrillers about future worlds where women are forcibly separated from their children. A diabolical state plan to safeguard children by controlling women propels both plots. Tonally, though, The School for Good Mothers reminds me of Kazuo Ishiguro’s speculative fiction more than anything else. Like Ishiguro, Chan writes in measured, unshowy prose. And like Ishiguro, Chan has a fatalistic streak in her storytelling. “Frida could punch herself in the face for hoping,” Chan writes. And yet she does it anyway. Where does it get her? Just as the clones in Never Let Me Go cannot escape their dark fate but still spiritually chafe against it, Frida endures her reeducation by clinging to the idea that she will be able to escape a system rigged against her, and be reunited with her beloved. But the bar isn’t just raised for Frida and her cohort, it is slippery, designed to make them fall.

    In interviews about the novel, Chan has cited the 2013 New Yorker article “Where Is Your Mother?” by Rachel Aviv as a source of inspiration. In it, Aviv follows a single mother named Niveen Ismail as she tries and fails to get her son back after losing custody following a single incident where she left him alone. After finishing Chan’s book, it is tempting to take solace in the fact that it’s a fictional tale, but Aviv’s article makes for an especially dispiriting companion piece. It is evidence that the circumstances portrayed by Chan may have some sci-fi flourishes (robot babies filled with sloshy blue goo) but it is a story fundamentally of this world, not some far-flung future. Ismail, who fights for her son for years, and who refuses to move away from their hometown even though his adoptive family gets a restraining order against her, is a loving mother who is punished less for her one error and more for who she is—an eccentric, an immigrant, a person possessing, according to the court psychologist, “certain problematic personality traits.” The fact that she didn’t carry a purse got put into her file. So did a time she offered her son too many toys. While Aviv’s account of Ismail’s ordeal is a gutting, in-depth exploration of governmental overreach and unnecessary family separation, it isn’t portraying something rare. Child-welfare agencies already admit to erring on the side of overreaction. They already often require mandatory parenting classes to maintain custody. They already take so many children away. And so calling The School for Good Mothers dystopian doesn’t feel quite right. Near-dystopian, maybe? Ever-so-slightly speculative? This closeness to reality is what turns the book’s emotional gut punch into a full knockout wallop. A mother reading it doesn’t close the book, sigh, and think, Thank god the world’s not really like this. No, she closes it and knows she must be very careful.


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    Wait, So Where Will Urbanites Charge Their EVs?

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    So you’ve got a nice house with a garage where you can charge your electric vehicle—you’re living in the future. You’re also—sorry!—far from original: 90 percent of US EV owners have their own garages. But woe to the urbanites. Chargers built into apartment parking lots are few and far between. And as if parking in a city isn’t nightmarish enough, competition for plug-friendly street spots leaves EVs stranded from the electricity that gives them life. Could you hack into the power lines above and snake a cord into your Tesla? Sure, if you prefer your biology extra crispy. But a better way is coming, because smart people are working to bring power to thirsty urban EVs.

    That’s good news, because transforming smoggy cities’ vehicles into electric ones is going to be an important part of any plan to stave off further climate change. But convincing urban dwellers to pony up for EVs is tough. Even those who have gotten over anxieties about battery ranges will find there aren’t many places to charge them. Someone’s going to have to fix that, says Dave Mullaney, who studies electrification as the principal of the Carbon-Free Mobility team at the Rocky Mountain Institute, a sustainability-focused research organization. “What’s pretty clear right now is that electric vehicles are coming, and they are quickly going to saturate the market of wealthy people with garages,” he says. “They need to expand beyond that.”

    So the goal is clear: Build more chargers. But in dense places, the eternal question is, where? And how to guarantee that they will not only be accessible, but cheap enough for anyone to use them? 

    “I’m not sure there’s a one-size-fits-all strategy,” said Polly Trottenberg, the US deputy secretary of transportation, during a media call Thursday. She would know: Trottenberg was, until recently, head of the Transportation Department in New York City, where she oversaw her fair share of EV charging experiments. At least money is on the way to help cities figure it out. The federal infrastructure bill contained $7.5 billion to support hundreds of thousands more public charging stations. States including California—which has pledged to stop selling new gas-powered cars by 2035—also have programs dedicated to building more chargers.

    Whatever the strategy, though, cracking the problem is vital if cities—and the feds—want to stick to bigger goals for improving equity, accessibility, and racial justice, which many politicians have named as priorities. After all, low-income folks can’t switch from traditional cars to electric ones until they have abundant access to affordable charging infrastructure. The capitalist temptation would be to let private companies battle to see who can put more chargers in more places. But that risks creating charging deserts, the way the US already has food deserts, poor neighborhoods where grocery chains don’t bother setting up shop. Public schools in the US have a similar structural inequality: The higher the tax base, the better the local education. And since the still-nascent charging business is actually pretty bleak right now, the government will likely need to keep directing resources or subsidies to low-income communities to make sure they’re included once the EV economy booms.

    Making charging a taxpayer-funded public good, not another corporate cash grab, could help encourage the adoption of EVs in low-income urban neighborhoods—they might even be powered with community-owned solar arrays. Pulling gas-powered cars off the road will improve local air quality, which is far worse for the poor and people of color. And installing chargers in under-resourced communities will be especially important because buyers in these areas might be more likely to own used EVs with old batteries that don’t get the optimal range, so they’ll need more consistent charging. 

    The WIRED Guide to Climate Change

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    But getting buy-in from residents in those places will be critical, because communities of color have grown accustomed to “neutral or benign neglect and sometimes even directly malignant [transportation] policy decisions,” says Andrea Marpillero-Colomina, the clean transportation consultant at GreenLatinos, a nonprofit. For communities unfamiliar with EVs, who might depend on gas stations or conventional auto repair shops for jobs, the sudden appearance of chargers could look like a harbinger of gentrification, she says—a physical sign that they are being replaced. 

    Some urban areas are already experimenting with new charging strategies, each with their up- and downsides. Big cities like Los Angeles and New York City, and smaller ones like Charlotte, North Carolina, and Portland, Oregon, have swiped bright ideas from Europe and are installing chargers next to streetside spots, sometimes even on street lights. These are often cheaper to put in, because the space or pole is likely to be owned by a local utility or city, and the necessary wiring is already there. They also can be easier for drivers to access than even a charger at a gas station: Just park, plug, and walk away. 



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    The best noise-canceling headphone deals


    With many people working from home than they used to, owning a good pair of noise-canceling headphones has become more appealing than ever. However, they can be expensive and difficult to shop for due to the range of available models, many of which cater to different lifestyles and priorities. Some are better suited for long-haul flights, while others are ideal for multitasking and marathon listening sessions.

    That’s why we’ve curated this list of the best deals on noise-canceling headphones. Here, you’ll find sales on all kinds of on-ear and over-ear headphones, all of which are designed to eliminate outside noise but come with their own strengths and weaknesses. And if you want to do even more research before making a buying decision, we’ve put together a guide to the best noise-canceling headphones, which can help you determine which is right for you.

    Highlights across the range

    Model List Price Sale Price Retailers
    Model List Price Sale Price Retailers
    AirPods Max $549 $479 Amazon
    Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 $399.99 $241 Adorama
    Sony WH-1000XM4 $399.99 $348 (with a 20,800mAh power bank and a microfiber cloth) Adorama
    Beats Studio 3 Wireless $349.99 $199.00 Amazon
    Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 $249.99 $230.99 Walmart Microsoft
    Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 $399 $379 Amazon Best Buy
    Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II $349 $299.99 Best Buy Target
    Beats Solo Pro $299.95 $129 Best Buy

    Sony’s 1000XM4 are the best noise-canceling headphones you can buy.
    Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

    Sony WH-1000XM4 deals

    Sony’s WH-1000XM4 is our overall pick for the best noise-canceling headphones. They offer excellent noise-canceling, good sound and voice quality, and the ability to pair to two devices simultaneously. You can wear these for long periods of time as well, as their plush ear pads make them comfortable to wear for as long as you need. They can even last up to 30 hours on a single charge and can be charged via USB-C.

    During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we saw the $349.99 headphones drop to $248 — their lowest price to date. They remained around that price throughout the holiday season, but, unfortunately, many retailers have since ended their sales. Some retailers, however, are offering bundle deals that are still worth considering.

    Right now, Adorama is bundling the WH-1000XM4 with a 20,800mAh battery pack and a microfiber cleaning cloth for $348. Mophie’s power bank typically sells for $39.95, so this bundle is valued at around $390. If you don’t care for the battery pack or prefer to shop elsewhere, however, Amazon and B&H Photo are also selling the headphones for $348. Read our review.

    The best noise canceling headphone deals

    Sony WH-1000XM4

    These over-ear headphones are some of the best noise-canceling headphones you can buy right now. They can last up to 30 hours on a single charge and provide a comfortable listening experience with plush ear pads.

    1643029954 885 The best noise canceling headphone deals

    The AirPods Max is a good pick for those deeply embedded in the Apple ecosystem.
    Photo by Becca Farsace / The Verge

    Apple’s AirPods Max deals

    If you’re looking for the best sound quality you can get in a pair of noise-canceling headphones, we recommend the AirPods Max. The headphones pair seamlessly with other Apple devices and sound superb, especially combined with Apple’s surround sound-like Spatial Audio feature, which allows for a more immersive experience when listening to or watching select content. They also tout the best transparency mode of all the headphones on our list while boasting incredible build quality thanks to a luxe design that takes opts for aluminum, steel, and fabric over plastic.

    At $549, these headphones are expensive, but we’ve been seeing a lot of discounts lately. Right now, Amazon is selling the AirPods Max for $479, which is about $50 shy of their best price to date and their standard sale price. B&H Photo is offering the same discount but only on the silver and pink models. The green and blue versions are $489, while the space gray set is $499. Read our review.

    Govees excellent TV backlight kit is even more affordable today

    Apple AirPods Max

    Apple’s AirPods Max feature exemplary build quality, sound phenomenal, and keep up with the best at noise cancellation.

    1643029954 138 The best noise canceling headphone deals

    The third-generation Sennheiser Momentum Wireless headphones sound great and integrate with Tile.

    Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 deals

    If you’re a non-Apple user looking for a pair of noise-canceling headphones that sound fantastic, Sennheiser’s Momentum Wireless 3 is your best option. We found that they boast detailed, bass-rich sound, a stylish, retro-inspired design, and are extremely comfortable to wear — even when you’re donning glasses. Although their noise cancellation might not rival other models on our list, they make up for it with convenient software features like ambient passthrough and a customizable EQ. Plus, unlike many other headphones, they integrate with the location tracking device, Tile.

    The headphones typically retail for $399.99, but several retailers have been selling them for $241 since Black Friday. Right now, however, only Adorama has them for $241 (and only in black). That’s nearly half their usual price, saving you $159. Read our review.

    1642907355 683 Apples latest iPad is down to its best price ever

    Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless

    Sennheiser’s premium noise-canceling headphones offer lush comfort, rich sound with plenty of bass, and a timeless design.

    The best noise canceling headphone deals

    Microsoft’s Surface Headphones 2 are great for multitasking.
    The Verge

    Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 deals

    Multitaskers will appreciate Microsoft’s Surface Headphones 2 as they offer terrific, reliable multipoint Bluetooth support. You can seamlessly pair them with multiple devices, allowing you to juggle content and switch back and forth at the same time. These headphones also offer intuitive dial controls for volume and noise cancellation, with far better quality and battery life than their predecessor. While the noise canceling isn’t quite as effective as Bose’s and Sony’s, they still adequately silence outside noises so you can focus.

    During Black Friday, Microsoft’s $249.99 Surface Headphones 2 dropped down to $162.49, which is almost half their typical retail price. We’re not currently seeing any similar big deals on them, but you can still a pair for $230.99 from Microsoft, Walmart, and Amazon. Note, however, the deal available from Walmart is sold and shipped by Microsoft. Read our review.

    The best noise canceling headphones to buy right now

    Microsoft Surface Headphones 2

    Microsoft’s Surface Headphones 2 have the same intuitive dial controls as the originals for volume and noise cancellation. But the sequel offers better sound quality and battery life at a cheaper price.

    1643029954 199 The best noise canceling headphone deals

    Bose’s Noise Canceling Headphones 700 boast excellent voice quality.
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 deals

    If you plan to frequently use your headphones for voice calls, Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are the best option on this list for doing so. They boast excellent voice call quality, meaning everybody on your Zoom call will be able to hear you loud and clearly, and they offer great noise cancellation with satisfactory sound. Like the QC45, the over-ears can also connect to two devices simultaneously, but they can’t be folded and only offer 20 hours of battery life, which is also less than other headphones on this list provide.

    We’ve seen several discounts on the 700s over the past year or so, with the best reaching an all-time low of $299. Lately, however, we haven’t seen any sales that steep. Amazon has been selling them for $379 instead of $399 for the past six months, and Bose and Best Buy are currently selling the headphones for the same price. Read our review.

    Start your weekend off right with eBays early Independence Day

    Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700

    The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 are the company’s top-of-the-line noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones. In addition to excellent noise cancellation, they have up to 20 hours of battery life between charges and can connect to two devices at the same time.

    Other great noise-canceling headphone deals worth checking out

    1643029954 585 The best noise canceling headphone deals

    The Beats Studio 3 are nearly half off and thus a good alternative if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly pair of headphones.
    Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

    Beats Studio 3 deals

    While we couldn’t recommend these to anybody outside of the Apple ecosystem, the Beats Studio 3 Wireless could be a decent alternative if you want a pair of over-ear headphones from Apple but find the AirPods Max to be too expensive. The Beats Studio 3 are comfortable to wear, fold inward for easy stowing, and feature Apple’s last-gen W1 wireless chip, which allows you to quickly connect and switch between Apple devices. Note, however, unlike those built with Apple’s newer H1 chip, the headphones lack hands-free Siri support. They also charge via a Micro USB port instead of a Lightning port or USB-C.

    They’re certainly showing their age at this point — they launched 2017, after all — but they’re currently on sale starting at $199 at Amazon in select colorways. Read our review.

    Save up to 150 on Beats noise canceling wireless headphones

    Beats Studio 3 Wireless

    The Beats Studio 3 feature Apple’s W1 wireless chip, allowing them to quickly connect and switch between any Apple devices you may own. The wireless, over-ear headphones connect via Bluetooth and also support 3.5mm for a wired connection.

    Bose QC35

    Bose’s Quiet Comfort 35 II headphones are as comfortable and lightweight as newer models.

    Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II deals

    If the newer QuietComfort 45 are out of your budget, their noise-canceling predecessor remain a great, affordable alternative. Like newer Bose models, the QuietComfort 35 II are both comfortable and lightweight. They also come with a number of praiseworthy features, including good sound quality and the ability to seamlessly switch between two paired devices.

    While their sticker price is $349, the QC35 II are frequently on sale for far less. In fact, until just recently, we saw them for as low as $179. Right now, however, Target is only selling the headphones for around $299, about $30 less than Bose QC45 are currently selling for.

    Bose QuietComfort 35

    Bose’s QuietComfort 35 II

    These lightweight, over-ear wireless headphones have one of the best active noise cancellation effects to silence distractions.

    1643029955 579 The best noise canceling headphone deals

    The now-discontinued Beats Solo Pro offer good durability and lengthy battery life.
    Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

    Beats Solo Pro deals

    When we first reviewed the Beats Solo Pro in 2019, we found the nicely designed Apple headphones offered effective noise cancellation, good durability, lengthy battery life, and a balanced sound profile. While its sticker price was $299.95, Best Buy is currently selling them in blue and red for $199.99. Note, however, these headphones have since been discontinued. As a result, Apple no longer sells them, and the retailers that do — like Best Buy — are not likely to continue stocking them in the future.

    Memorial Day has brought about some fantastic tech deals

    Beats Solo Pro

    The Beats Solo Pro are ideal if you need a durable pair of headphones while you work out.



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    Is It OK to Listen to a Butt-Dial Message?

    0


    A couple times a month, my mom, or sometimes my dad, butt-dials me and accidentally leaves a voicemail that is several minutes long. I always listen to the entire thing, even though I’ve never overheard anything interesting. Why do I continue to do this? And is it OK to eavesdrop on people’s lives without their knowledge? 

    —Scuttle Butt


    Dear Scuttle Butt,

    The butt-dial voicemail is the most aes­thetically underrated artifact of our time. Years from now, when cell phones are relegated to the museum of technological obsolescence, we will finally recognize the strange beauty of these ghostly dispatches, recordings captured without human intent, wisps of life that occasionally rose to the level of art. The muffled, vaguely sonographic rustle of a pocket, or a purse. The familiar voices that seem to be speaking from the depths of the ocean. Everyone listens—how can you not? There is always the possibility of emergency. Someone has fallen and is lying, helpless, unable to speak. A thief has broken into the house and your loved one is crouched in the closet, afraid to whisper for help. Voicemails, after all, are messages, and you wait in vain for the missive long after it’s clear that there is none, that there is only the crunch of footsteps across gravel, the buzz of an electric razor, the unmistakable sound of your mother’s laughter, reaching you for no reason as you sit at your desk on the other side of the country, eating lunch in the glow of your Twitter feed.

    That’s not to say there isn’t some garden-variety voyeurism at play. Overhearing some revealing tidbit—perhaps even about yourself—is always a non-negligible possibility. Pocket-dial voicemails belong to a larger category of technological seepage that, as far as I know, doesn’t have a name. Let’s call it “accidental surveillance.” Long before cell phones, car radios occasionally picked up the voices of truckers talking over CB. Before that, there was the party line, its circuit running through several households, carrying gossip and intrigue through the neighborhood. In John Cheever’s story “The Enormous Radio,” a couple discovers, much to their amazement, that their new radio intercepts conversations taking place in other apartments in their building. Instead of Mozart and news briefs, they turn the dial to hear marital spats, bedtime stories, the feverish tail end of a cocktail party. The wife becomes obsessed with listening in on the neighbors, much to her husband’s chagrin. “It’s indecent,” he says. “It’s like looking into windows.”

    Perhaps these examples strike you as quaint. What appeal, after all, can voyeurism still hold in an age when people gladly throw open the curtains? The windows we peer into are seemingly endless, opening onto the bedrooms of celebrities, the cabins of private yachts, the breakfast spread of British royals—images that appear in the feed alongside the intimations of ordinary mortals: the post-chemo haircut modeled by your former boss, the positive pregnancy test proudly brandished by your high school nemesis. I suspect, Scuttle Butt, that there is some measure of guilt—or fear of ingratitude—contained in your question. It cannot but seem greedy to crave yet another peek into the lives of others when you can, with a few clicks, be privy to so many intimacies.

    Maybe there’s a paradox at play. It has become something of a cliché to point out that the technologies designed to connect us end up creating more alienation and loneliness. Perhaps it’s also true that the plasticine flavor of self-presentation has made us more hungry for the raw material of lived experience—not the curated aura of intimacy, but what might be called the “deep private,” glimpses into lives as unvarnished as the one you actually live. Given that this material depends upon the ignorance of those it depicts, it is rare and fleeting. The impeccably crafted Zoom backdrop is occasionally breached by a shirtless husband; the screen-share reveals a desktop folder labeled divorce; a politician’s snarky aside to her aide is caught on a hot mic.

    Back when public life was more robust—that pre-pandemic era when restaurants were crowded and offices fully operational—our lives were rife with moments of accidental surveillance: the phone calls that carried over from the neighboring cubicle, the domestic grievances aired on the subway. Such glimpses into the lives of others could be oddly comforting, a reminder, if nothing else, that you were not the only one whose private life often failed to live up to the gleaming model of social composure you projected online. It’s a fact that is difficult to remember during periods of isolation. The writer Megan Stielstra wrote an essay several years ago about how her video baby monitor, which came with two frequencies, picked up the feed of her neighbor’s child. In the lonely throes of new motherhood, she found herself switching between channels, watching this other sleeping infant and searching for signs of its mother, who would occasionally step into the frame. One night, she heard the woman sobbing. “I shouldn’t have listened,” she writes, “but it was the first time since my son was born that I didn’t feel alone.”

    As for your question about the ethics of eavesdropping, it seems that the law is on your side. In 2013 an airport board chairman spoke freely, on the balcony of a hotel, with his vice chairman about firing the airport CEO for discriminatory reasons, only to realize later that he had pocket-dialed his assistant, who recorded the entire conversation. The chairman insisted that his assistant had broken the law by listening in on his private conversation, but the court disagreed: “A person who knowingly operates a device that is capable of inadvertently exposing his conversations to third-party listeners and fails to take simple precautions to prevent such exposure does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.” (The court noted, additionally, that phones are capable of being locked.) Given that such accidents are more common among people over a certain age, it’s tempting to see this as generational comeuppance. The frequency with which Rudy Giuliani butt-dialed journalists seemed, for a time, to augur that an administration that remained undaunted by mass protest and the rule of law would self-destruct through senility and technological incompetence.

    I would hope, Scuttle Butt, that you don’t harbor such animosity toward your parents—or anyone else who warrants a place in your contacts. With that in mind, I might recommend the Golden Rule. Would you want someone listening in on your private life without your knowledge? Surely you are not so careless as to allow this to happen. But ancient wisdom suggests that life tends toward moral symmetry. The high will be brought low, we will reap what we sow. What lies in darkness will be brought into light, and even you might wake up one day to find yourself on the dispatch end of the generational divide. Few of us today believe such justice is encoded in the laws of the universe, but it is, oddly enough, reflected in modern communications technologies, which tend to run in two directions. Where there is a speaker, there is most likely a microphone. The device that receives a videofeed also has a camera. It’s a truth that dawns on the wife in the Cheever story only after it’s too late. “Turn that thing off,” she says to her husband, in a moment of panic. “Maybe they can hear us.”

    Faithfully, 
    Cloud


    Be advised that CLOUD SUPPORT is experiencing higher than normal wait times and appreciates your patience.

    If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more.

    This article appears in the October 2021 issue. Subscribe now.

    Let us know what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor at mail@wired.com.


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    Bird Flu Is Back in the US. No One Knows What Comes Next

    0


    To understand the importance of those three ducks and the virus they were carrying, we need to take a quick tour through Flu School. Lesson One: The flu virus family tree is vast and sprawling; it contains types—A, B, C, D—and subtypes, designated with Hs and Ns. (Those are short for proteins that let the virus infect cells.) Just within the As, there are almost 200 subtypes; a few affect humans, but almost all of them can infect birds.

    Lesson Two: For a long time, scientists thought humans were in little danger from all those other flu strains. That assumption was shattered in 1997, when an avian influenza, H5N1, jumped species in Hong Kong and infected 18 people, killing six of them. To shut it down, the local government slaughtered every chicken in the territory, denying the virus a host. That worked for a few years, but in 2003 H5N1 started to move across the world again, and it has been moving ever since.

    Lesson Three: Avian flu can be dangerous to people, but it threatens some birds too. Waterbirds, chiefly ducks, carry it without illness, but it makes chickens sick. Here again, there are subcategories: Avian flu can be low-pathogenic, meaning that it makes birds mildly ill and slows down egg production. Or it can be highly pathogenic, or high-path: a fast-moving infection so vicious that it can kill an entire flock in two days. (A prominent poultry researcher once called it “chicken Ebola.”)

    To sum all that up (there will not be a quiz): The flu found in the Carolinas is an H5N1, meaning it is of the subtype that normally infects birds but in the past has sickened people. It is a high-path variety, the kind that can wipe out domesticated flocks. It belongs to a strain related to that first species-crossing jump in 1997. And, to make matters worse, it represents just one instance of a remarkable amount of highly pathogenic H5N1 showing up in the world right now.

    Last year, the World Organization for Animal Health (known by its French acronym, OIE) estimated that between May 1 and November 1, 41 countries experienced outbreaks of highly pathogenic bird flu, with 16,000 isolations of the virus reported just in October. Fifteen countries also reported outbreaks between October and December.

    Occasional isolations of avian flu in wild birds are not unusual, but last fall high-path H5N1 began erupting in the United Kingdom with extraordinary intensity. Since October and into this year, the virus has been found in wild species, including swans, geese, shorebirds, and birds of prey. But it has also invaded poultry farms, primarily in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. By January, more than 1 million chickens and other birds had been destroyed to stop it from spreading. In December, the UK’s chief veterinary officer called the occurrence of bird flu there “phenomenal,” saying the strain had spread to the largest number of farm properties ever seen.

    At almost the same moment, Dutch authorities were ordering the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of poultry on farms in the country. In the Czech Republic, more than 100,000 hens died of avian flu on an egg farm, and another 100,000 birds and about 1 million eggs were destroyed to stop the virus from spreading further. In France, farmers feared the virus would invade the duck-raising southwest, the home of foie gras. Last week, the agriculture ministry ordered 2.5 million birds killed. In Italy, more than 4 million poultry died or were slaughtered between October and December. And the Friedrich Loeffler Institute, the animal-disease research unit of the German government, said at the end of December that Europe was experiencing “the strongest avian influenza epidemic ever,” with cases reaching as far north as the Faroe Islands and as far south as Portugal.



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    Reddit’s Crowdsourced Playlist on Spotify, YouTube Is a Treasure Trove of ‘Most Beautiful Songs’

    0

    What’s the most beautiful song you’ve ever heard? That question, when asked on social media, could lead to a pool of songs that have touched people from around the world. From Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” to Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” and from Mozart’s “Requiem” to David Bowie’s “Heroes,” a crowdsourced playlist on Spotify and YouTube is booming with songs that thousands of Redditors deemed to be “the most beautiful” to the ears.

    In 2017, Reddit user GiveMeAllYourRupees posed the question, “What, in your opinion, is the single most beautiful song ever made?” on the social media platform. Not surprisingly, replies began pouring in by leaps and bounds. Some loved the acoustics of The Cinematic Orchestra’s “To Build A Home,” while others liked the soulful strings of “The Boxer” by Simon & Garfunkel. John Denver’s “Annie’s Song” also made it to these replies. And, so did Pink Floyd’s “Time.” Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love” and Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” were also part of the playlist.

    To date, the post has garnered over 15,500 comments.

    Seeing the rush of responses, another Reddit user, lofabread1, made an open request: “Because I don’t really have the time right now: could someone make a Spotify playlist of all the songs from this post? I’d really love that.”

    The playlist became a reality in no time. You can check out the playlist on Spotify.

    As mentioned, the playlist is also available on YouTube.


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    Why you might want a secure file-sharing service now that you’re working from home


    When we were all at the office, many of us were connected to the office network. We didn’t need to give sharing files much thought. But now that we’re scattered across the landscape, securely sharing important files can take careful planning. Here’s why you might want to use powerful file-sharing services to share sensitive files safely, so you can collaborate better no matter where you’re working.

    Probably the easiest way to share a file is to just attach a document to an email, or to a Slack or other instant message. But either way invites trouble on several fronts. If you rely too much on your email or messaging system, your poorly archived files could become available to prying hackers with phishing lures. If you’re sharing traditional documents that way, you could also quickly find yourself playing the “who has the most current version” game. It’s hard to keep track of updates when multiple people are working on the same document, spreadsheet, or presentation.

    While built-in collaboration tools like Google Workspace or Microsoft OneDrive (or something equivalent based on your email identity) can solve the version control problem — and might be your only option if your company insists — they can become cumbersome the moment your team expands beyond your office domain. You might inadvertently share the document with people who shouldn’t see it, or lock someone out who needs access. The more convoluted you make your sharing situation, the greater the potential for a mistake where the world (or perhaps family members) gain access to your files. We’ve all seen the news stories where a database or collection of documents fell into the wrong hands because someone failed to apply the appropriate security. Some companies won’t risk it: With one of my clients, I had to get a new email address on their domain to share their Google Docs.

    Besides Google Workspace and OneDrive, there are more than a dozen different providers of personal file-sharing services, including Dropbox, Box, and Apple’s iCloud. Many of these are free or nearly so for minimal use. But if you are contemplating these services, everyone in your sharing circle should use two-factor authentication (such as Authy) to access them, not just a username and password. Even so, they’re often second-rate when it comes to user experience (Dropbox’s collaboration features can be confusing, iCloud and Windows have a complicated relationship, and Box’s file preview feature doesn’t do such a great job). They’re adequate for single-use sharing or sharing files across your own devices, but they’re not my preferred solution.

    Instead, you should consider an enterprise-grade cloud-based file-sharing service, one that adds more layers of protection by encrypting your data, and that has fine-tuned access control. Egnyte, SecureDocs, ShareFile, and SugarSync are just a few of the more popular services; here’s a chart with a rough comparison of how much they cost and what they offer to start:

    Popular secure file-sharing services compared

    Vendor Monthly pricing Max. file upload Free trial period Application integration
    Vendor Monthly pricing Max. file upload Free trial period Application integration
    Egnyte $20/user 100 GB 15 days Extensive
    SecureDocs $250 for unlimited users Unlimited 14 days Limited
    ShareFile/Citrix $50 for unlimited users 100 GB 30 days Extensive
    SugarSync $55 for 3 users 300 GB for web clients 30 days* Limited

    *Credit card required to activate free trial

    Regardless of which one you pick, here’s what you should look for when researching a secure file-sharing service:

    • Automatic file sync for all users on all devices, including integration with Windows Explorer and MacOS’s Finder, so you can browse shared directories and keep local copies for quick access.
    • Support for Android, iOS, and web clients to browse shared directories and folders on the go as well.
    • End-to-end encryption. If someone manages to download your files without your login, they shouldn’t be able to do anything with them. ShareFile also has an Outlook plug-in that encrypts your files as an extra feature.
    • Additional login security. SecureDocs requires additional authentication by default for all of its logins, while the others I mention have it as an option. Setting this up is as simple as scanning a QR code into a smartphone app, as shown below:

    • Easy-to-disable public sharing options, or that they make it difficult to inadvertently choose to share publicly.
    • Customizable permissions and access rights to ensure that the right people are sharing the right file collections. Egnyte, for example, has numerous controls to add a password to your file, allow or disable downloads, and notifications, as you can see in the screenshot below:

    1643029371 488 Why you might want a secure file sharing service now that

    • Audit trails to figure out and fix when someone accidentally shares a file with the entire internet, or so you can quickly remove a shared file if it is no longer needed.

    Many of these products have free trials (of the ones I mention above, all but SugarSync don’t require any payment details), and you can use those periods to evaluate them. Asking yourself these questions should also help you pick:

    • Do you routinely share very large files, such as videos or illustrated PowerPoint documents? Some services place limits on individual files; SugarSync, for instance, has a limit on web client upload size.
    • What other software tools work with the file-sharing service? Some (such as Egnyte) integrate with Salesforce, Google Workspace, and Slack, which makes sharing files easier to use as part of your normal workflows. Check the fine print if this is important to you.
    • Do you need a room? Some services offer a common shared “data room” that can be the cloud equivalent of a shared network file server. ShareFile and SecureDocs both offer unlimited space for their shared rooms. Others, such as Egnyte, cap the room at 1TB, which is still a lot of storage if you’re not a video producer.
    • What other specialized services do you need? Some services integrate with e-signature apps (ShareFile works with Citrix’s RightSignature), allow for custom workflows (like document approvals) and other tasks that can be real time-savers in a corporate environment.

    Using any enterprise sharing service will take some adjustment, but I feel they are worth the effort to gain additional peace of mind, better security, and collaborative features.



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    Panasonic to Invest JPY 80 Billion to Produce Tesla EV Battery: Report

    0

    Japan’s Panasonic will begin producing its new lithium-ion battery for Tesla from as early as 2023, with plans to invest about JPY 80 billion (roughly Rs. 5,245 crore) in production facilities in Japan, the Nikkei reported on Monday.

    The powerpack could help make electric vehicles (EVs) more attractive to motorists by extending cruising range by about a fifth, the Nikkei reported, without saying where it obtained the information.

    “We are studying various options for mass production, including a test production line we are establishing this business year. We don’t, however, have anything to announce at this time,” Panasonic said in a statement sent to Reuters.

    Panasonic unveiled the 4,680 format (46 millimetres wide and 80 millimetres tall) battery in October. At around five times as big as batteries it currently supplies to Tesla, it is also expected to help the US electric vehicle maker lower production costs.

    Panasonic will make the 4,680 batteries at a plant in Wakayama prefecture in Western Japan, with output of less than 10 gigawatt hours a year, equivalent to around 150,000 vehicles, the Nikkei said.

    Panasonic is the sole maker of the more advanced Tesla battery, ensuring it remains a key supplier to the US company, at least for its pricier models, even as the EV maker seeks out battery suppliers in China and elsewhere.


    © Thomson Reuters 2022

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    Razer’s excellent Basilisk V3 mouse is selling for its best price ever


    We’re starting the weekend with some exciting news for gamers: our pick for the best wired gaming mouse is now available for its lowest price to date. For only the third time, Amazon is selling Razer’s Basilisk V3 for just $59.99 instead of $69.99. The comfortable mouse delivers notable improvements over its predecessor, particularly in regards to its scroll wheel. Depending upon how hard your scroll, the mouse can switch between ridged scrolling and free-spin modes, which make it easier to scroll down the page more freely — a perk that comes in handy even if you’re not using the mouse for gaming. It also touts a 26K DPI sensor, RGB lighting, and 11 programmable buttons, so you can adjust the controls to your liking within Razer’s Synapse software.

    Razer Basilisk V3

    Compared to the Basilisk V2, Razer’s latest iteration makes a few improvements, including an impressive scroll wheel that can ramp up speed depending on how hard you scroll. It also sports more RGB LEDs.

    If you’re on the market for a pair of affordable true wireless earbuds, today we’re seeing some great discounts on both the new Jabra Elite 3 earbuds and Jabra’s older Elite 75t. Already considered Jabra’s budget buds, the Elite 3 typically retail for $79.99 but are on sale today for $59.99 at Amazon and Best Buy, their lowest price to date. In his review, The Verge’s Chris Welch praised the earbuds, noting that they sound better than he expected given their price. He was also impressed by their performance, decent call quality, no-fuss controls, and lengthy battery life.

    However, if you’re looking for wireless earbuds that offer features like noise cancellation, the $149.99 Elite 75t are also on sale at Best Buy for just $79.99, which nearly matches their best price to date. While the noise cancellation on these isn’t quite as good as it is on the newer Elite 85t, they both boast excellent sound with a good amount of bass. The Elite 75t are also comfortable and capable of connecting to two Bluetooth devices simultaneously, a feature still not commonly found in many wireless earbuds. Read our Elite 75t review.

    1643028749 313 Razers excellent Basilisk V3 mouse is selling for its best

    Jabra Elite 3

    Jabra’s Elite 3 earbuds have a refreshed design that’s more stylish than the company’s past earbuds. While they don’t have many frills or extra features, they fare well in the key areas of sound quality, comfort, and battery life.

    1624835432 35 The best wireless earbuds to buy right now

    Jabra Elite 75t

    Jabra’s Elite 75t earbuds offer bass-heavy sound, reliable performance, and can connect to two devices — like a phone and laptop — at the same time.

    Shifting from wireless earbuds to high-quality microphones, the $129.99 Blue Yeti mic is currently on sale in select colors for $99.99 at Amazon and Best Buy; this includes the black model, which Amazon hasn’t discounted since July. While not its best price ever, this is the lowest we’ve seen the mic sell for since the holidays. A popular staple with podcasters, YouTubers, and Twitch streamers, the Yeti is capable of conforming to a number of different recording environments. It also allows you to change pickup patterns, modulate, and otherwise fine-tune your audio, rendering it one of the more versatile budget options out there for the price.

    Razers excellent Basilisk V3 mouse is selling for its best

    Blue Yeti microphone

    The Blue Yeti is a tried and true USB mic. The well-built device is incredibly easy to use and features onboard controls for simple operation, ensuring you can capture studio-quality sound in your bedroom or home office with ease.

    DJI’s Mavic Mini remains one of the best drones you can buy for under $500, however, $450 is still a lot of money. Thankfully, if you’re looking for something more affordable, its 2019 predecessor is available today at Newegg with a handful of accessories. Right now, you can buy the last-gen DJI Mavic Mini Fly More Combo for just $299.99, a solid $100 discount. The bundle includes three sets of spare propellers, a carrying bag, a propeller guard, a gimbal protector, spare batteries, and more.

    Despite the fact the Mavic Mini is an older, more budget-friendly drone, it still shares many features in common with more expensive models, like a number of creative shooting modes and the ability to automatically return to its takeoff spot. It also doesn’t require FAA registration, a boon for experienced drone pilots and newcomers alike. Read our review.

    1643028749 313 Razers excellent Basilisk V3 mouse is selling for its best

    DJI Mavic Mini Fly More Combo

    The original DJI Mavic Mini was the first drone from DJI that didn’t require registration with the Federal Aviation Administration because of its size. It comes with creative shooting modes and many features DJI’s more expensive drones boast, too, as well as 30 minutes of flight time.

    Some other ways to save this weekend

    • If you’re a Nintendo Switch owner, Amazon is selling a 12-month Nintendo Switch Online Family Membership and a SanDisk 128GB Micro SD card for just $34.99 (nearly $40 off), giving you a way to game online and expand your console’s storage space at the same time.
    • Apple’s latest AirPods are still selling at the low price of $139.99 at Amazon. They originally sold for $179.99.
    • Lenovo’s Smart Clock 2 with a built-in wireless charging pad costs $64.99 at Best Buy, down from $89.99.



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