How to look your best on a video call

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I’ve been on enough video calls this week to know that everyone could use a little help looking their best. From virtual weddings to work meetings, we all suddenly have to be on camera in our homes, and as a Verge video director and host, I’m no stranger to having to be camera-ready at all times and in imperfect spaces.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been optimizing my own video chat setup: from knowing where to sit to get the best light, to choosing the right microphone, to just staying comfortable. Here are my tips and tricks to becoming the video call MVP you were meant to be.

Light your face

It’s best to start with lighting because that will dictate where you are sitting. Open up your shades and let the natural light…

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Samsung is bringing 5G to its midrange phones this year

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Samsung is refreshing its Galaxy A-series midrange phones for 2020. The lineup consists of a whopping six phones, all of which are aimed at people who want high-end features without paying an exorbitant amount of money. The most affordable option costs $110, while the highest-end A71 5G tops out at $600, and as you probably guessed from its name, it supports 5G connectivity. There will also be a slightly more affordable $500 model that is 5G-ready. The good news is that the entire lineup ships with Android 10 software with One UI 2.0, and features a 3.5mm headphone jack.

I’m going to dive into each phone’s features below, starting with the two that will release first on April 9th. The rest will release in the summer. However, note that…

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How to throw a party in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

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Photo by Jay Peters / The Verge

With much of the world stuck inside due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are turning to Animal Crossing: New Horizons to recapture the feeling of interacting with the outside world by spending time on the game’s virtual islands and their anthropomorphic animal residents. But the game’s easy-to-use multiplayer that lets you host up to seven guests on an island has also become a popular way to throw real-world events like birthday parties and even weddings.

If you want to host your own party, we’ve put together a guide right here. We’ll offer some ideas on what you can do with your visitors to give you some inspiration and walk through some of the mechanics of hosting the party so that it runs smoothly.

Before the party

Mail out…

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Programmable fintech payments startup Sila raises $7.7M seed to wipe out ACH

See the original posting on TechCrunch

Fintech is white hot these days, with major acquisitions and funding rounds galore. It’s also a relatively new space, with startups only really breaching the thicket of regulations that defines the modern banking and finance world in the past few years. So it is fascinating to watch how Shamir Karkal, one of the original fintech […]

How to catch a fish using a mouse trap

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If you’ve ever wanted to catch a fish with a trap designed to catch other edible, living things, your time has arrived. I’m not sure if this is a technique that’s common knowledge in outdoor circles, but it’s frigging brilliant.

Also, what’s the deal with the guy in the top left corner of the video, two minutes, fifty-five seconds in? He just kind of melts into the tree. Creepy. Read the rest

Labyrinth children’s storybook coming this fall

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I haven’t received an advance copy of Labyrinth: The ABC Storybook [Amazon] so will have to preorder it just like you. The ToughPigs Muppet fan site posted a sneak preview.

Sometimes Muppet fans get really lucky. Not only are we getting a new book based on Jim Henson’s classic film Labyrinth, but the whole thing is written and illustrated by one of the best artistic talents in the business.

Luke Flowers, who recently illustrated the gorgeous storybook adaptation of The Muppet Christmas Carol, will be releasing a brand new storybook recounting the story of Labyrinth in alphabetical order!

The book will be in stores and online on September 29th, retailing for $18.99.

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Chill with Henry Rollins in The Cool Quarantine as he shares stories and his record collection

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Punk rock bard, Henry Rollins, and KCRW have launched The Cool Quarantine, a new online radio program where Henry goes through his record collection and shares stories. The idea is to recreate that vibe of hanging out with friends, spinning some sides, and talking about music, shows, and whatever else pops to mind.

One of my favorite things about music is that often, there’s a good story about any one album or song. I specifically put tracks into this show so I could tell you the story before we play the song. A couple of examples from this show would include a live Cramps track from 1979 that was recorded by Ian MacKaye and also, the first cassette I ever copied. Another would be a live Led Zeppelin track from the time Ian and I saw them play.

We will be playing different songs from different bands of course but we’ll also be listening to entire albums, EPs, and singles. At four hours, this is lonnnnnnnnng-form programming!

Cool out here.

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This photographer is taking lockdown portraits over FaceTime

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Tim Dunk

Lockdown has disrupted everyone’s lives to varying degrees, and wedding photographers are some of the unluckier ones in terms of the impact on their careers — there aren’t any weddings happening, and even if there were it’d be unwise or impractical to attend. Yorkshire-based photographer Tim Dunk, however, has found a way to keep on taking portraits in self-isolation: FaceTime.

Writing in PetaPixel, Dunk describes the process, which involves making use of the Live Photo button that lets you snap an image during the call. Dunk works with the subjects to find or create good light within their homes, then edits the resulting shots in Lightroom. “The image quality is not going to be great,” he says. “Embrace it!”

Dunk says he’s done more…

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The Kitchen Cube might just bring you back to cooking again

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While all the downsides of stay-at-home orders and social distancing are evident, there are at least a few small silver linings to come out of all this. For many, this time spent indoors has meant a happy reintroduction to your very own kitchen.

You know your kitchen. It’s usually the place that holds all your leftovers. And it’s where the oven lives, the appliance that handles all your one-step frozen dinner heat-ups.

Of course, that’s not really cooking, is it? But for as long as we’re sticking close to home, it’s a great opportunity to try some culinary explorations we may never have attempted overwise. Cooking for real means ingredients and measurements and likely a cascade of spoons and measuring cups to get it right.

However, reinvigorated cooks can now ditch all of those extra utensils and containers for simplified ease of The Kitchen Cube All-in-One Measuring Device.

At first glance, it almost looks like a basic toddler toy, just a 3.5-inch plastic block. But this single instrument is actually an all-purpose gadget to handle up to 19 different US and metric measurements in seconds. From cups to tablespoons to milliliters of virtually all cooking sizes, the Kitchen Cube’s got you covered.

Just flip the cube to your preferred measurement, pour in your ingredient to the fill point, and dump. It’s stunningly simple, yet this basic cube just eliminated the need for all those other measuring spoons and cups that clutter your drawers and countertops and seem to end up everywhere while you’re trying to cook. Read the rest

Legendary singer/songwriter, John Prine, has died from COVID-19

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We are sad to report that, according to John Prine’s family, he has finally succumbed to the COVID-19 virus that he’d been battling for the past nine days. Rolling Stone writes of Prine’s career:

As a songwriter, Prine was admired by Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, and others, known for his ability to mine seemingly ordinary experiences — he wrote many of his classics as a mailman in Maywood, Illinois — for revelatory songs that covered the full spectrum of the human experience. There’s “Hello in There,” about the devastating loneliness of an elderly couple; “Sam Stone,” a portrait of a drug-addicted Vietnam soldier suffering from PTSD; and “Paradise,” an ode to his parents’ strip-mined hometown of Paradise, Kentucky, which became an environmental anthem. Prine tackled these subjects with empathy and humor, with an eye for “the in-between spaces,” the moments people don’t talk about, he told Rolling Stone in 2017. “Prine’s stuff is pure Proustian existentialism,” Dylan said in 2009. “Midwestern mind-trips to the nth degree.”

We say goodbye to this great American songwriter with this performance of “Angel from Montgomery,” recorded for Austin City Limits, in 2018.

Fly, Mr. Prine. Fly.

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