More snarky comments about crappy design

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“While most beds provide convenient ingress/egress from the sides, I wanted to design one where you need to crawl in and out through the foot of the bed. I also wanted it to be difficult to make the bed each morning.”

I’m so glad Core 77 started the Weekly Design Roast, in which they make sarcastic comments about poorly designed luxury garbage of the kind that appeals to criminal oligarchs and those who aspire to the lifestyle of criminal oligarchs.

Previously: Enjoy this weekly dose of snark about bad product designs

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Buried in the TOS: free Starbucks refills

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Lifehacker bravely read Starbucks’ Terms of Service and reports that you can get free refills on certain drinks. This is news to me.

According to the company’s website, to qualify, you have to have purchased your original drink using the Starbucks app with a Starbucks card connected to your account. You’ll have to present this to a barista to obtain a refill.

One other thing: if you leave the store, the deal’s off.

(Just for fun, I’m using this photo of a Starbucks in Kyoto. I went there when I was in Japan last year, and it’s by far the coolest Starbucks I’ve been to. See more photos here.)

Image: Starbucks in old town Kyoto, by f11photo/Shutterstock Read the rest

How to save battery life on your Android phone

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Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

My first Android phone was the original Motorola Droid, which I purchased and loved using despite its abysmal anti-woman marketing campaign. And one of the things I loved about it was that it had an interchangeable battery. I always kept an extra charged battery on hand, and simply swapped them out when needed. It was a lot more convenient and lightweight than dragging around a heavy battery pack, and kept the phone going strong over the course of the busiest workday.

But as phone designs changed over the years, swappable batteries were abandoned by phone manufacturers to keep their phones sleeker and to accommodate wrap-around screens. Batteries are getting stronger, but phones are also getting more use. So despite advances in power…

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This portable fire pit is pretty nice to have around

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I was absolutely thrilled with this hot burning, nearly smoke-free portable fire pit.

If you are dispersed camping and you do not want to dig a fire pit everywhere you go, or you just want to enjoy a wood-burning fire in your backyard without scorching your pavement or yard, this fire pit has me convinced.

A friend joined me at the coastal camping site I’ve enjoyed this week. When he asked whe he could bring I told him firewood would be awesome, as the camp hosts were selling stuff that just wouldn’t burn. I’d tried lighting some charcoal and using it as a base to start my fires, but they were still just smokey and unfun. I had given up on reading by the fire with my whiskey and had taken to going to bed early.

Lo and behold my friend arrived with the Solo Stove ‘Ranger’ — a portable firepit that is designed to maximize airflow to the fuel, burn hot, radiate heat but thrown off almost no smoke. It is ‘lightweight’ for car camping uses and only weighs in around 15lbs. He took the Ranger out of its bag, threw some wood in it and then set the fire off with a tablespoon or two of the white gas I keep around for my Coleman Stove (we’ve both know White Gas as ‘LBS’ or liquid boy scout since our teens.) Instantly the fire was started and within a few moments it was roaring along!

The Solo Stove only put off smoke when there was wood fuel above the top line of the stove. Read the rest

For San Diego Comic-Con weekend, it’s time to re-watch Galaxy Quest

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Photo: DreamWorks

There are so many streaming options available these days, and so many conflicting recommendations, that it’s hard to see through all the crap you could be watching. Each Friday, The Verge’s Cut the Crap column simplifies the choice by sorting through the overwhelming multitude of movies and TV shows on subscription services, and recommending a single perfect thing to watch this weekend.

What to watch

Galaxy Quest, a 1999 science-fiction comedy in which the cast members of a canceled but still beloved Star Trek-like television series are whisked away by Thermians, a high-minded but credulous alien race. Not realizing their heroes’ adventures are fictional (they can’t grasp the concept of storytelling), the Thermians have modeled their…

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This soup has been simmering for 45 years in a Bangkok restaurant

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A family-run restaurant in Bangkok has had a the same giant pot of soup simmering for 45 years. When it runs low, they top it off.

From Great Big Story:

It’s a beef noodle soup called neua tuna. It simmers in a giant pot. Fresh meat like raw sliced beef, tripe and other organs is added daily. But any broth leftover is preserved at the end of each day and used in the next day’s soup. It’s an ancient cooking method that gives the soup a unique flavor and aroma.

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Boing Boing’s own Rob Beschizza interviewed on the Cool Tools podcast

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Kevin Kelly and I interviewed Boing Boing’s Rob Beschizza for the Cool Tools podcast. Rob is a fascinating person, as you probably already know from the thousands of posts he’s written here. He is an excellent artist, designer, coder, and writer, and has a delightful sense of humor. Rob is also the founder of Txt.fyi, an effectively invisible publishing platform and low-key internet cult. It’s always a huge treat to be able to chat with him.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show notes:

Vortexgear Tab 75 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
“Mechanical keyboards — the appeal is in the old-fashioned key switches which have a more tactile, more clicky feel to them, and there’s all sorts of different types that you can get depending on your preferences. It’s just great for people who type a lot who just don’t like modern keyboards or who are getting sick of butterfly keyboards from Apple. I think for anyone who listens to a tech podcast or is familiar with the cult of mechanical keyboards, a big part of the appeal is you can swap out the keys, so there’s a cottage industry of key caps and sorts of different color schemes and styles. You can have a keyboard that looks like an old typewriter or one that looks like a very specific 8-bit computer that you had 30 years ago, or that looks like a nuclear missile launch silo console. Read the rest

All of the Apollo anniversary swag you can buy from dumb to fun

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The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission is upon us, and along with the history, remembrances, and tributes comes the inevitable cash-grab. A whole bunch of companies from around the world have been working to figure out how to inject a bit of moon nostalgia into their products, and while that has produced some really interesting and fun things to pick up, it means that there are some dumb ideas as well.

Here are some of the worst, and best that our commercial culture has to offer.

Dumb

Image: Dairy Queen

Food companies have been jumping at the bit to latch onto any bit of nostalgia over the last couple of months, releasing a whole bunch of products “inspired” by the Apollo 11 mission. Dairy Queen unveiled its…

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Vergecast: Hear what happened when big tech went to Capitol Hill this week

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Look, I’m going to be honest with you. We had so many topics we wanted to discuss on The Vergecast this week that we basically jammed two or three shows worth of material into one episode. You’ll see (or hear) why.

First, we had to talk about the big tech hearings in Congress this week with our reporters who watched them (policy reporter Makena Kelly and senior reporter Adi Robertson). Hear why some members of Congress think Facebook should not launch their cryptocurrency and what Senator Ted Cruz had to say to Google.

In the second half of the show, we talk to Verge deputy editor and Elon Musk expert Elizabeth Lopatto to help us figure out what his “brain machine interface” Neuralink is and how it can possibly work.

And of course, we…

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The 2018 MacBook Air is $799 at Micro Center, its cheapest price yet

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Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Apple’s 2018 MacBook Air is cheaper than ever at Micro Center (via Slickdeals). Normally $1,199, it’s now $799 for the base model, which has an 8th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 128GB of storage. If you want to double the storage (but sadly not double the RAM) that model now costs $999.

The latest MacBook Air revision for 2019 improves on last year’s version in subtle ways, according to our review. This year’s model has a True Tone display, allowing the screen to automatically adjust the color temperature based on the ambient lighting, and model starts at $1,099, which is $100 cheaper than last year’s base model sold for. If those differences don’t sell you, Micro Center’s deal is probably worth taking up.

The Google…

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Using university syllabi to map the connections between every scholarly and scientific discipline

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Joe Karganis writes, “This is the ‘Co-Assignment Galaxy’ created by David McClure. It maps the top 160K titles in the new Open Syllabus 2.0 dataset, based on the frequency with which those texts are assigned (reflected in the size of the dot) and assigned together (reflected in the location and clustering of the dots). It’s US centric given the composition of the syllabus collection, but also a unique representation of human knowledge as a collective, connected project.

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Where to catch me this weekend at San Diego Comic-Con!

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I’m headed back to San Diego for Comic-Con this weekend, and you can catch me on Friday, Saturday and Sunday:

Friday, 5PM: Signing in AA04

Saturday, 5PM: Panel: Writing: Craft, Community, and Crossover (with James Killen, Seanan McGuire, Charlie Jane Anders,, Annalee Newitz, and Sarah Gailey), Room 23ABC

Sunday, 10AM: Signing and giveaway for Radicalized, Tor Booth, #2701.

I hope to see you there!

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Getting Started With Python

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In this article, we will install Python and create the first “Hello World” application using Python.

What Is Python?

Python is a high-level, general-purpose, interpreted, Cross-Platform, Case Sensitive, and Object-Oriented programming Language. Python was created by Guido van Rossum and first released in 1991. It uses an Object-Oriented approach which makes the programmer write clear, logical code for projects. Python has become one of the most popular programming languages used in the world. It is easy to learn because its syntax is similar to the English language. It uses a new line to complete commands and indentation to indicate a block of code. Python is derived from C, C++, Algol-68, Unix Shell, and other scripting languages, etc. The latest version of the Python is Python 3.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is a satisfying blend of superheroes and Diablo on Switch

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Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order isn’t the latest superhero blockbuster. It doesn’t have a huge, emotional storyline that impacts various facets of the massive Marvel universe, one that expands on years of worldbuilding. Instead, it offers something much simpler: the chance to create the superhero team of your dreams and enjoy some deliciously mindless action.

It’s been 10 years since the last Marvel Ultimate Alliance (and even longer since its predecessor, X-Men Legends), so a refresher was definitely in order. Essentially, the franchise is a Diablo-style action role-playing game, only instead of fighting demonic hordes you’re battling the minions of Ultron and Doc Ock. The twist is that it’s built for team-play; you form a…

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This bundle teaches you how to market on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, & more

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Theoretically, there’s never been an easier time for marketers. The ubiquity of social media means a good word – or a good brand – can spread like wildfire with very little effort. But as limitless as the internet is, there’s a lot of competition and noise to contend with. And the vast graveyard of failed start-ups out there pays testimony to the fact that what works on what platform won’t necessarily get traction on another.

Enter the Silicon Valley Digital Marketers Bundle, a master class for online advertisers that truly covers all the bases.

This comprehensive series of 11 courses cover the principles that apply to any savvy marketing effort, but also dives deep into the specific social media sites that will give you the biggest bang for your marketing dollar – and if you’re marketing right, you might not even need to spend a dollar.

Copywriting – Write Marketing Headlines That Sell: Good copy is good copy, no matter what the platform. Learn how to write it and tailor it to your audience.
Facebook Ads & Facebook Marketing Mastery Guide 2019: How to work the algorithms on the world’s biggest social media site.
MailChimp 101 – Learn Email Marketing: This course teaches you how to use the mass mailing service to reach eyeballs without your message landing in the trash folder.
How To Start a Profitable Social Media Marketing Agency: Ready to take your marketing game to the next level? There are plenty of businesses that need a digital mouthpiece. Read the rest

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