Good deal on a padded picnic blanket

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We went to the LA Zoo yesterday and had a picnic lunch near the kids’ playground. It was in the grass under a shady tree. We brought along this 80″ x 60″ picnic blanket ( on Amazon). It folds up into a small package and comes with a handle for easy carrying. The underside is made of a tough material to resist scratching, and the top is softer and easy to wipe down. It has a thin layer of foam to provide a bit of a cushion. We’ve used it a bunch of times and it holds up well. Read the rest

Russell T. Davies’ miniseries Years and Years is Black Mirror with a heart

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The easy pitch for the new HBO / BBC co-production Years and Years might be “What if Black Mirror, but a family drama?” But the more accurate pitch might be “What if Black Mirror, but with a full and beating heart?” That isn’t intended as a slam on Charlie Brooker’s anthology series about dystopian futures. It’s more of an appreciation of what creator Russell T. Davies has been able to achieve with his six-episode limited series, premiering Monday, June 24th on HBO. (Its run on BBC One recently concluded.)

Years and Years begins in 2019, with a focus on the complicated intergenerational Lyons clan: Muriel (Anne Reid), her grandchildren Edith (Jessica Hynes), Stephen (Rory Kinnear), Daniel (Russell Tovey), and Rosie (Ruth Madeley), and…

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Fun “urban blight” popsicle stick and graffiti art project for kids

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Graffiti Diplomacy is a Brooklyn-based graffiti art studio and educational outfit with a terrific Web site containing free lessons, handouts, and craft activities for beginning (and advanced) artists. Their “Urban Blight” diorama how-to, complete with popsicle stick picket fences, looks like a lot of fun to build and tag.

Graffiti Crafting # 1 – Learn How To Make A Popsicle Stick Graffiti Picket Fence

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Google Nest Hub is $61 today, less than half of its original price

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Google’s Nest Hub is on sale more frequently than not, and today’s discount brings it down to its best price ever. Usually $129, it’s just $61 (before tax) at Rakuten with the offer code SAVE15 used at checkout.

Formerly known as the Google Home Hub, this smart display is worth the cost if you’re invested in Google services. As noted in our review, the Nest Hub makes for an excellent digital photo frame if you have a Google Photos library. Amazon’s brand-new, freshly reviewed Echo Show 5 is currently its closest competitor in terms of features, and so long as you don’t plan to watch YouTube (it’s not supported), its $89.99 price isn’t bad if you want better audio quality and a camera with a hardware shutter for privacy.

Best Buy is…

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Son-of-Reflectacles: Kickstarting a new generation of anti-surveillance eyewear

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Eccentric eyewear maker Scott Urban first kickstarted his “Reflectacles” frames in 2016; the frames used emedded retroreflectors to make them throw back tons of light, making them highly visible (and great for things like night cycling); subsequent iterations beefed up the IR reflectivity, which blinded many CCTV surveillance cameras (they use IR to paint low-light scenes, and their sensors can be overwhelmed if enough of that IR bounces back at them).

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How to download the iOS 13, iPadOS, macOS Catalina, and tvOS 13 public betas

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iOS 13, iPadOS, macOS Catalina, and tvOS 13 are available in public beta, and you can download and install them now. The process for installing each is a bit different, but we’ll walk through what’s new and how to get the new software on your device.

Unless you’re enrolled in Apple’s developer program, this is your first opportunity to try out the new software in beta. These betas will update periodically, culminating in the final release, which we expect at the end of summer. It’ll likely be timed around the new hardware announcements made at Apple’s annual September event.

First, the usual word of warning about beta software: these releases may seem stable, but they could contain bugs that won’t be squashed until the final releases…

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iOS 13’s best upgrade is in your car

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Apple is planning to release iOS 13 this fall to iPhones, iPod touches, and iPads (under the guise of the new iPadOS). It has a lot of improvements under the hood, but the most dramatic overhaul is coming to Apple’s in-car interface known as CarPlay.

CarPlay was first introduced four years ago, and aside from gaining the ability to use third-party mapping apps last year, it hasn’t really changed since then. But in iOS 13, it’s getting a major overhaul that makes it much more competitive with Google’s similar Android Auto platform. I’ve been testing the new CarPlay in beta form and have been immediately impressed with the changes, though Apple does still have a little bit of work to do before this launches publicly later this year.

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How to post to multiple social networks

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If you’re active on several social networks, it can be a real pain trying to keep up with all your accounts. When you want to spread around some photos of your vacation, get some recommendations for your next phone, or simply complain about the weather, having to go to each service and send the same message to each — and then return to each so you can follow any responses — is time-consuming and inconvenient, to say the least.

One way around it is to use a social network manager that lets you monitor, and post to, more than one social network at a time. These handy tools used to be more available to day-to-day users, but are now, for the most part, mainly selling their services to businesses who want to use social networking for…

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