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The best early Prime Day pet deals: Pet tech, beds, toys, and more

White dog playing with puzzle toy

On the hunt for pet deals? These are the best early Prime Day discounts we've found on Amazon as of July 5:

Not everyone is going into Amazon Prime Day on the hunt for a laptop, a TV, or home gadgets. Some folks are more keen to spend their money on their best buddies — a.k.a their pets.

Ahead of Prime Day, we're already seeing a ton of pet tech, pet toys, and pet beds on sale. We won't blame you if you spend a bundle on your dog or your cat this shopping holiday. (They deserve it.)

We're updating this page constantly, so check back often. All newly added deals are marked with a ✨, while deals with a strikeout were either sold out or no longer available at their sale price when we last looked. Anything marked with a 🔥 has dropped to an all-time low price. Read on to discover all the best early Prime Day pet deals we've spotted at Amazon.

Pet tech deals

Cat peeking out of a white litter box
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Credit: Petkit
Our pick: PETKIT Pura X self-cleaning cat litter box (opens in a new tab)
$499 at Amazon (save $300)
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Why we love it

The PETKIT Pura X was our pick for most well-designed litter box in our roundup for best automatic litter boxes, and for good reason. It looks more like a cat hideout than a litter box, and is jam-packed with smart features. Take advantage of app control and odor removal, as well as a thermal sensor, infrared sensor, weight sensor, and anti-pinch infrared sensors, so you'll always be in the know when it comes to your cat's habits.

More early Prime Day pet tech deals

Pet toy deals

White dog playing with puzzle toy
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Credit: Outward Hound
Our pick: Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Dog Brick puzzle toy (opens in a new tab)
$14.19 at Amazon (save $13.30)
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Why we love it

If your dog loves to gobble food too fast, a good puzzle toy can slow mealtime down a bit and offer some mental stimulation. We love the Outward Hound dog brick since it offers tons of compartments for treats and encourages your dog to sniff, nudge, and more.

More early Prime Day pet toy deals

Other pet deals

Gray memory foam dog bed
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Credit: Casper
Our pick: Casper dog bed (opens in a new tab)
Starting at $104.25 at Amazon (save up to $62.25)
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Why we love it

We know you love memory foam pillows and mattresses, and your dog will love a plush memory foam bed, too. This super supportive bed will keep your pup's joints at ease, and the removable, washable cover will keep you on top of any pet-related messes.

Even more early Prime Day pet deals

Posted on 5 July 2022 | 5:03 pm

How to report a tweet for deadnaming or misgendering someone

An illustration of the Twitter logo surrounded by speech bubbles filled with exclamation marks.

If you're on Twitter and see a person deadnaming or misgendering someone else, you should report it. It'll take you minutes, and truly matters.

The harmful anti-LGBTQ microaggression known as deadnaming (the practice of using the birth or former name of a transgender or non-binary person who has changed it) can happen by mistake. But sometimes it's used maliciously with a deliberate intention to hurt trans and non-binary people — particularly online.

Words matter. Writing for Mashable, Alison Foreman described it perfectly, "For many, unconscious biases creep into the common vocabulary by way of microaggressions, behaviors that subtly or indirectly communicate a derogatory or otherwise hostile message to the recipient. Microaggressions have the power to make those on the receiving end feel socially uneasy, culturally out of place, or even physically unsafe."

"Microaggressions have the power to make those on the receiving end feel socially uneasy, culturally out of place, or even physically unsafe."

You can also report when you see someone on Twitter misgendering another person — using a wrong name, pronoun, or form of address that does not reflect a person's gender. It's really important.

"Whether misgendering happens as an innocent mistake or a malicious attempt to invalidate a person, it is deeply hurtful and can even put a person’s safety at risk if they are outed as transgender in an environment that is not tolerant," The Trevor Project notes.

"Purposefully misgendering is not OK, and you can be a good ally by standing up for others if you witness someone being harassed for their gender. If you misgender someone by accident, apologize swiftly without making an excessive show out of the mistake or your guilt, which can create even more discomfort for the person who has been misgendered. Show that you care by doing better moving forward."

Being an ally to transgender and nonbinary people means educating yourself (instead of constantly leaning on trans and non-binary people to share their lived experience), stepping up, and calling it out — and that means online. You can be capable of being discriminatory yourself, and probably without meaning to, but just be mindful of how carelessness can be harmful to others.

SEE ALSO: 7 microaggressions to avoid during Pride and beyond

Some online platforms, including TikTok and Twitter, are making calling it out a little easier. In 2018, Twitter updated its hateful conduct policy to include a ban on deadnaming and misgendering on the platform. Here's the policy:

We prohibit targeting others with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category. This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.

We also prohibit the dehumanization of a group of people based on their religion, caste, age, disability, serious disease, national origin, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

So, if you see someone doing this, it's really easy to report it.

How to report a tweet for deadnaming or misgendering someone

  1. Click the three dots on the top right hand corner of the tweet you want to report. Select "Report tweet."

    Screenshot of Twitter.
    Credit: Screenshot: Twitter
  1. When asked who the report is about, select "Someone else or a specific group of people" unless you've been deadnamed or misgendered yourself in the tweet, in which case, select "Myself."

  2. When asked for more info, select "Attacked because of their identity," as this is the section that covers "slurs, misgendering, racist, or sexist stereotypes, encouraging others to harass, sending hateful imagery."

A screenshot of the options when reporting a tweet, with "Attacked because of their identity," selected.
Credit: Screenshot: Twitter
  1. On the next page, you'll be asked how the tweet is doing this. You can pick which options you think apply, but most importantly, select "Misgendering or deadnaming them."

  2. Twitter will then ask you which part of the person's identity is being targeted. Select "Gender/gender identity."

  3. You'll see another few screens double checking everything (it should say you're submitting a "hateful conduct report"). Keep clicking continue if everything's good, and you're done.

Twitter will then let you know that your report is in a queue for review (the company says it takes "a few days"), and that the reported tweet will be hidden from your timeline. You'll be notified if there is, in fact, a violation of the rules, and Twitter will detail in a message what actions it is taking.

It'll take you two minutes and it really matters.

Posted on 5 July 2022 | 4:35 pm

Our favorite budget-friendly Roomba is 40% off and even budget-friendlier

the roomba 692 cleans a mess on a rug

Save 40%: You don't have to empty your bank account for a robot vacuum. As of July 5, Amazon has the iRobot Roomba 692 for only $179.99. That puts it at $120 off its MSRP and only $5 away from the lowest price we've ever seen it.

Amazon Prime Day is just around the corner no matter who you are, but acting on this deal could mean a brand new robot vacuum is just around your corner, figuratively and literally.

The iRobot Roomba 692 is on sale for $179.99 at Amazon, marking a $120 price drop that brings this robot vac within $5 of its lowest price ever.

SEE ALSO: The best robot vacuum deals ahead of Prime Day 2022

Robot vacuums can cost you anywhere from $300 to $1000 (or more). This one's price would be suspiciously low if this Roomba claimed to have all the fancy bells and whistles of its $700-plus counterparts. But if you're more in the market for a vacuum that provides that super-easy everyday clean that only a robot vacuum can, we did deem this Roomba the most reliable budget-friendly Roomba out there. App scheduling means you can start cleans from basically anywhere, or set the times and never think about it again. (It's also compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa).

Over time, it'll learn the areas of your home that need a little more love with Dirt Detect, and offer personalized cleaning schedules. And yes, it can handle different floor types.

When it comes to getting rid of all traces of pet hair, it might not be the best pick. You should also be prepared for a very so-so battery life. But for an everyday robot vac that doesn't break the bank, paying under $200 for the iRobot Roomba 692 is hard to beat.

black irobot roomba with phone open to irobot app
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Credit: iRobot
iRobot Roomba 692 (opens in a new tab)
$179.99 at Amazon (save $140)
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Posted on 5 July 2022 | 3:36 pm

Save up to 56% on Blink security cams and smart doorbells ahead of Prime Day

Hand touching a smart doorbell

Security cameras and smart doorbells can offer some serious peace of mind. Here are the best early Prime Day deals on Blink home security products as of July 5:

Whether you're heading out on summer vacation or going back to the office for the first time in a few years, smart home security cameras can give you an extra layer of safety and privacy. You'll be able to check in on your pets, packages that have been delivered, and so much more.

Blink is running some serious early Prime Day deals, with nearly every smart doorbell, security camera, and bundle deal heavily discounted — at up to 56% off. These deals are only available to Prime members though, so if you haven't joined the club, it might be worth it to add an Amazon Prime membership to your subscription list. Check out the full list of Blink security camera deals and smart doorbell deals at Amazon, and read on for a look into our favorite discounts.

OUR TOP PICK: Blink video doorbell$34.99 $49.99 (save $15)

Some video doorbells cost hundreds of dollars, but the Blink video doorbell is a budget-friendly pick that doesn't skimp on functionality. Back to its lowest historical price, this early Prime Day deal matches last year's Black Friday pricing on the Blink video doorbell. You probably won't find a cheaper video doorbell from a reputable brand than this.

Answer your front door from your phone anytime, anywhere with two-way audio and a 1080p camera that works day and night. Score motion alerts, go wire free or connect to doorbell wiring and use voice control functionality through Alexa if you already own an Alexa-enabled device.

Black smart video doorbell
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Credit: Blink
Our pick: Blink video doorbell (opens in a new tab)
$34.99 at Amazon (save $15)
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BEST FOR INDOOR SECURITY: Blink Mini smart security camera, two-pack$29.99 $64.99 (save $35)

If you're looking to keep an eye on your dog or cat while you go to work, this two pack of Blink Mini security cameras is the way to go. Place them in two different rooms to see where your pet wanders during the day, and keep an eye on the house for security reasons, too. At $29.99, this is the lowest price we've seen for a two-pack of Blink Minis, so scoop them up while you can.

Two white smart security cameras
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Credit: Blink
Our pick: Blink Mini smart security camera, two-pack (opens in a new tab)
$29.99 at Amazon (save $35)
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BEST HOME SECURITY STARTER PACK: Blink Video Doorbell bundle with two outdoor cameras and Sync Module 2$107.98 $214.98 (save $107)

For folks looking to go all-in on home security, this bundle does it all — at 50% off. You'll get the Blink video doorbell, a Sync Module 2, and two outdoor security cameras to keep an eye on your front and back yard. The Sync Module 2 is an indoor add-on that helps to extend the battery life of your home security gadgets and adds on extra functionality, ideal for smart home newbies.

This is an exclusive early Prime Day bundle for members only, and with a half-off discount, you know you're getting the best price.

Smart doorbell and security camera bundle
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Credit: Blink
Our pick: Blink Video Doorbell bundle with two outdoor cameras and Sync Module 2 (opens in a new tab)
$107.98 at Amazon (save $107)
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Posted on 5 July 2022 | 3:25 pm

Save $200 on an Eero mesh WiFi system ahead of Prime Day

Eero mesh wifi

SAVE $200: As of July 5, you can score an Eero Pro 6E mesh WiFi system two-pack for $200 off its original price as an early Prime Day deal ($299 total).

Everyone hates buffering. We bet you can't find one single person who enjoys buffering. How could you not be filled with rage when you're just trying to finish up the last two movie-length episodes of Stranger Things season 4 and you get interrupted by the "25%" ring of death just as things are getting good? Tragic.

If you want to eliminate buffering, lag, and anything to do with slow internet speeds, you're going to need a strong WiFi system. The Eero Pro 6E is a good choice, and it's $200 off right now as an early Amazon Prime Day deal (just $299).

SEE ALSO: Everything you need to know about Amazon Prime Day 2022, from dates to early deals

This mesh WiFi system two-pack sets up in minutes and results in fast, low-latency WiFi coverage for up to 4,000 square feet. And when we say "fast," we mean fast — the Pro 6E can support network speeds of up to 2.3 gigabits per second for both wired and wireless devices. The system can handle over 100 connected devices at a time, works to eliminate "dead zones" in your home, and is easily kept up to date using the Eero app.

Eero mesh wifi
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Credit: Eero
Eero Pro 6E mesh WiFi system (opens in a new tab)
Save $200 at Amazon
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Posted on 5 July 2022 | 2:54 pm

The best cheap VPNs in July 2022

NordVPN on phone

This might be surprising, but the best VPNs aren't necessarily the most expensive. Some of the best VPNs are actually really affordable, which is great news for anyone looking to secure cheap online security and data protection.

You have come to the right place if you're looking for a premium VPN with advanced features, without the big price tag. We've lined up some great value options for absolutely everyone, and there is no need to compromise on security, connection speed, customer support, or anything else.

But first, there are a few things we need to cover.

What is a VPN?

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) provide valuable protection for your data and identity when you're navigating the online world. How do they do this? VPNs offer online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network that hides your real IP address and makes all of your information unreadable.

All of your activity is untraceable and secure, because your online traffic passes through an encrypted tunnel. Everything inside the tunnel is protected against online threats like viruses, hackers, and malware. VPNs are primarily designed to provide online security, but there is another reason that millions of people use these services.

VPNs can also be used to stream movies and shows from around the world, and the process is actually really simple. We've already mentioned how VPNs provide anonymity by hiding your real IP address. Well, this technique can also be used to manipulate the streaming market. By hiding your real IP address and connecting you to a server in another location, you can trick your favourite streaming sites into thinking that you are based in a different country. This provides access to all the extra content that would normally be restricted in your location.

Should you consider using free VPNs?

The question that everyone wants an answer to is whether you really need to pay for a VPN. There are plenty of free VPNs out there, but do these offer the features you need to browse, shop, and stream securely? Unfortunately, there is usually some sort of catch with free versions (usually in the form of a limitation on your data usage or connection speed).

Occasional users will probably be satisfied with a free VPN, but if you're going to be streaming or downloading on a regular basis, you should look elsewhere. The only exception to this rule is a free trial. These come without limitations, but obviously don't tend to last for a long time. PureVPN offers one of the best free trials, but this isn't a long-term solution. 

The conclusion is that the best option for securing your data and streaming more content from around the world is with a paid subscription. The sad fact is that you'll have to pay to gain access to advanced security features without limitations on your usage. It's not all bad news though, because there are plenty of cheap plans out there, especially if you're willing to commit to a lengthy contract.

What should you consider before investing in a VPN?

The process of actually selecting a VPN can be seriously tricky, especially if you don't know what to consider. Most of the best VPNs offer many of the same features with similar packages, so it's important to know what matters.

To make your life a little bit easier, we have shortlisted a few things to consider before making any sort of decision:

Network size and location — The best VPNs offer a large network of geographically diverse servers. The more servers (and server locations) offered by a VPN, the more likely you are to find a reliable and fast connection. This is also particularly important for streaming, as you should always be able to connect to a server in the country with the content you want to watch.

Trustworthiness — We recommend finding an experienced provider with a strong track record and a clear privacy policy. It's important that your VPN of choice guarantees your data won't be logged or collected. If it isn't obvious what happens to your data, you should steer clear.

Jurisdiction — It's a good idea to look for VPNs based in the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Switzerland, and other privacy-friendly countries. VPNs based in countries that fall under the jurisdiction of the intelligence-sharing alliances should be avoided: the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, France, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and Spain. VPNs in these countries can be forced by authorities to collect and hand over user data.

Customer support — VPNs can be difficult to understand if you're not an experienced user, and even if you are, problems can occur. Whether you're a total beginner or not, customer support is key for dealing with any potential issues that might arise. You should also consider whether customer support is offered by phone, email, or web chat.

Make sure you consider these features before deciding on the VPN that suits you and your lifestyle. Once you have narrowed down your options, you can begin the process of finding the best deal.

What is the best VPN?

We're sorry to burst your bubble, but there isn't one VPN that beats all the rest. The best VPN for you really comes down to your own set of personal preferences. Once you find a few options that tick your boxes, you need to consider the best deals.

We have reached out to partners in order to provide you with market-leading prices on VPN subscriptions, with performance and security in mind. All of these VPN services have been handpicked not only because of the prices and deals on offer, but because they all offer the most important features to protect your online data and identity.

There are also plenty of services to consider on this list if your priority is unlocking streaming sites like Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney+. Online security should always be the priority, but we know that many subscribers use these services to unlock more content from around the world. We get it, and we're here to help.

These are the best deals on cheap VPNs in 2022.

Posted on 5 July 2022 | 2:46 pm

The best VPNs for unblocking and watching American Netflix

Netflix on screen

Lining up all your favourite snacks and drinks, surrounding yourself with cushions and blankets, and then spending hours in front of a screen can be a truly therapeutic experience, but there is one big problem with this hobby: There is a limited amount of content out there to keep you satisfied.

Regular streamers can quickly get to a point when it feels like there's nothing left to watch, and what are you supposed to do then? Don't panic, because there is a simple solution to this problem.

If you've reached this point of saturation, you should consider investing in a VPN.

What is a VPN?

VPNs are security tools that provide protection for your information by creating a private network that hides your real IP address. All of your activity is untraceable and secure, because all of your online traffic passes through an encrypted tunnel. Nobody can see into the tunnel, and everything inside the tunnel is protected against online threats like hackers, viruses, and malware.

The act of hiding your real IP address is what can trick leading streaming sites into thinking you are based in another country.

Do you really need to use a VPN?

First and foremost, VPNs are used to provide protection for your sensitive information. This is obviously important, but there's another reason that VPNs are so popular. These tools can be also be used to watch content that is normally blocked in your location.

By hiding your real IP address and connecting you to a server in another country, you can watch all your favourite content from that location. For example, you could watch all the extra films and shows on American Netflix that are not usually accessible outside of the U.S. There is so much content out there that can be accessed with the help of a VPN.

We're all in need of something that can bypass geo-restrictions to access all of this blocked entertainment, and that something is a VPN. These services are kind of like keys to the online world, granting you access to more of the shows and films you love.

How do you access American Netflix with a VPN?

If you think accessing American Netflix is going to be tricky with a VPN, think again. It's actually a really simple process that absolutely everyone can understand.

All you need to do is open up your preferred VPN, select an American server in order to spoof your IP to a U.S. address, and then head to Netflix. This quick and easy action makes Netflix think you're in the U.S. when you're actually in the UK, so you can watch all that great content that is normally unavailable. Not too complicated, right?

If you're worried that this whole thing sounds a bit illegal, then maybe we can reassure you. It's currently legal to watch Netflix while using a VPN, although we should point out that Netflix states in its terms of service that it may restrict your account without compensation or notice if you are engaged in "improper" use. We're not entirely sure what that means, but consider yourself warned.

We should make it very clear that you still need to be subscribed to Netflix for this trick to work. A VPN is not going to grant access to the streaming site for free. A VPN provides access to more libraries from around the world, once you're subscribed.

What is the best VPN for Netflix?

There are a lot of VPN services out there that can effectively unblock American Netflix, but which is the best? There are plenty of strong options for you to consider, but we wouldn't want you wasting your time checking everything out. To save you time, we've handpicked your best options. Each service has a different set of features that will suit some users better than others, and it's all about finding something that works for you.

It's tough to pick the best VPN for accessing American Netflix, but ExpressVPN does stand out from the competition for a number of reasons. It has a streaming-friendly interface, security focused features, and strong connection speeds. All of this provides users with a straightforward and speedy streaming experience. Speed is probably the most important feature to consider when it comes to picking a VPN for streaming. Using a VPN to connect to another country often affects your download speed, which can be devastating when you are trying to binge on your favourite show. We found that using ExpressVPN consistently results in the lowest buffering time when streaming Netflix in 4K. It is however a little pricey.

ExpressVPN is at the top of this list because it combines essential features with impressive results, but it isn’t the only option available to you. We have lined up all the best VPNs for unblocking Netflix, with something for everyone on this list. We've highlighted the best deals on the likes of Surfshark, PureVPN, CyberGhost VPN, NordVPN, and ZenMateVPN.

These are the best VPNs for Netflix in 2022.

Posted on 5 July 2022 | 2:45 pm

The best VPN deals in July 2022

Surfshark on laptop

The online world can be a dangerous place, with hackers, viruses, and surveillance software absolutely everywhere. We're not trying to worry you, but have you ever considered just how much of your personal data is exposed to this sort of thing whilst you're browsing? If not, you probably should. You might be surprised.

Your personal data is seriously valuable stuff these days, and everyone is looking to get their hands on it. Once you come to understand that the internet is insecure, it's perfectly normal to feel a little concerned about how much of your data is up for grabs. There's no need to panic though, because there is a simple and effective way that you can stay protected.

To stay safe online, and keep all of your data and personal information secure, you should invest in a VPN.

What is a VPN?

VPNs provide protection for your data and identity by creating a private network that hides your real IP address. All of your activity is untraceable and secure because everything passes through an encrypted tunnel. Nobody can see into the tunnel, and everything inside is protected against online threats. This means that hackers, governments, and your internet service provider will be unable to access any of your information.

Do you really need a VPN?

We've already covered the fact that investing in a VPN is one of the best ways to ensure your safety and anonymity online. VPNs are vital tools in the fight against scammers and cybercriminals, but there's another reason you might consider these security services. And it has nothing to do with security.

VPNs can be used to unlock streaming services from around the world, including the likes of Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney+. How do they do this? It's actually a really simple process, and it can significantly boost your content options. All you need to do is open up your preferred VPN, connect to a server from another country in order to spoof your IP to another address, and then head to your preferred streaming site. This process tricks the site into thinking you are based in another country, meaning you can watch all that great content that is normally blocked.

So VPNs are really useful for cybersecurity and streaming, which means they should be a worthwhile investment for just about everyone.

What do you need to consider before investing in a VPN?

Selecting a VPN that is right for you is not easy, because there are a lot of options all offering similar packages. To make the decision a little simpler, we have highlighted a selection of the most important things to consider before making any sort of purchase:

Connection speed: This is absolutely vital whether you're looking to use a VPN for online security or streaming. It's normal for a VPN to result in a drop in your connection speed, but you shouldn't accept anything significant.

Encryption: We know that a lot of people will be using VPNs for streaming, but these services are primarily designed to provide cybersecurity, so encryption is important. The best VPNs will offer powerful protection for your data, meaning that everything is unreadable and untraceable.

Number of connections: You should seek out a VPN that offers multiple simultaneous connections, so you can stay protected on all your devices at the same time. This is also beneficial for large families or households with multiple people likely to be online at the same time.

Privacy policy: The best VPNs should be very clear about how they handle, store, and use your data. These practices should be laid out in a privacy policy, and if they aren't super clear, you should look elsewhere.

Server network: The best VPNs provide access to thousands of servers located all around the world. This is useful as you should always be able to find a stable and speedy connection for streaming, shopping, or browsing.

There are plenty of other things that are worth considering, like bandwidth, apps for certain operating systems, and customer support, but these are probably the most important features to keep in mind.

Should you consider free VPNs?

There are plenty of free versions of popular VPNs, plus free trials of VPNs with full access to everything you get with a premium plan. So why would you ever pay for a VPN? As with most things in life, you get what you pay for with VPNs.

There tends to always be a catch with free versions, and it's normally in the form of limited data usage. If you're just an occasional user, these plans will work fine. But if you're going to be streaming or downloading, this isn't going to work. Free trials are a little bit different: they come with everything you get in a paid plan, but obviously they don't tend to last very long. Trials are great for testing out a service before committing, but this isn't a long-term solution.

To gain access to advanced security features without limitations on usage, you need to pay up. The best VPNs are generally the most expensive, but there are plenty of cheap plans out there, especially if you're willing to commit to a lengthy contract.

What is the best VPN?

There are a lot of VPNs out there, and we recommend taking some time to carefully access all your options. Once you have established exactly what you need, you can turn your attention to finding the best deals on all the top VPNs.

We have reached out to partners in order to line up a list of the best deals on the most popular providers, to help you save big. You can find all the best deals on the likes of ExpressVPN, NordVPN, PureVPN, and more.

These are the best VPN deals in 2022.

Posted on 5 July 2022 | 2:43 pm

The best VPNs in July 2022

NordVPN on laptop screen

Welcome to the wonderful world of VPNs. These popular security tools protect your identity and data, bypass online restrictions to access content, and much more. If this is all very new to you, you've probably got a lot of questions. Don't worry, because we can help. We've done all the hard work for you and researched these services to provide the information that matters. We're nice like that.

Here's everything you need to know about VPNs.

What is a VPN?

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) provide important protection for your data and identity when you're online. They offer this online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network that hides your real IP address. This means that all of your activity is untraceable and secure.

Basically, you can think about VPNs as encrypted tunnels through which all of your online traffic passes through. Nobody can see into the tunnel, and everything inside the tunnel is protected against online threats like viruses, hackers, and malware.

Why do you need a VPN?

Any sort of activity on an unsecured WiFi network leaves your private information and browsing habits exposed to the world, unless you're using a VPN. There's no need to panic, because whether you're sending important emails, doing some online shopping, or paying essential bills, VPNs make sure that everything remains private and anonymous.

First and foremost, VPNs are designed to provide online security, but there is another reason that millions of people use these services: streaming more content from around the world. By hiding your real IP address and connecting you to a server in another location, you can trick your favourite streaming services into thinking that you are based in a different country. This means that you can watch all of the shows and films from global libraries, like all the extra content on American Netflix. This is the quickest and easiest way of boosting your content options, without the need to rely on a dodgy stream.

What features should you consider when shopping for a VPN?

There are plenty of things that you should consider when it comes to VPNs, but we don't have all day. Instead of listing off every feature offered by the best VPNs, we have highlighted a selection of the most important things to think about.

Before you make any sort of decision, you should look out for connection speed, server network, number of logins, and more important features:

Connection speed: Using a VPN is going to produce a drop in your connection speed, but you shouldn't accept a significant drop that is going to result in buffering. Be sure to select a VPN that doesn't negatively impact your connection speed to the point that you can't watch a film or download a file without frustration.

Number of connections: Some VPNs let you connect an unlimited number of devices with the same account. Others limit you to just a single device. You should look out for a service that offers multiple simultaneous connections, so you can stay protected on all your devices at the same time.

Server network: The very best VPNs provide access to literally thousands of geographically diverse servers. It's useful if a VPN has a lot of servers in key locations, because you should always be able to find a stable and speedy connection for streaming, shopping, or browsing anonymously. It's not a straightforward case of more is better, but it's always good to have options.

Privacy policy: It's worth paying special attention to the data-handling, storage, and usage practices of the VPN you are planning on using. These practices should be laid out in a privacy policy, and if they aren't clear, it's best to avoid. Most VPNs require access to your IP address, online transactions, and browsing history, plus your personal details when you sign up. If privacy is the objective, it's absolutely essential that your VPN is not going to store these details. If it does, the whole thing is kind of pointless.

Encryption: There are different levels of encryption, and whilst it's important to take note of the grade provided by your VPN, the best options will all offer powerful protection for your data. You are likely to come across terms like "military-grade" and "enterprise-grade," which just means that you can rely on it to do its job.

Bandwidth: There are some VPNs out there that place monthly caps on network bandwidth, meaning you can only download a certain amount of data. You should avoid these services, unless you're on a free trial. If you're paying for a VPN, you should be able to download and upload as much as you want.

There are other things to consider, like price and subscription plans, but these features are a good place to start.

Should you consider free VPNs?

The good news is that there are plenty of free versions of popular VPNs, plus free trials of VPNs with full access to everything you get with a premium plan. Alternatively, you can pay for a VPN. So which option is best for you and your lifestyle?

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for with VPNs. There tends to always be a catch with free versions, and it's normally in the form of limited data usage. If you're just an occasional user, these plans will work fine. But if you're going to be streaming or downloading, this isn't going to work. Free trials are a little bit different: they come with everything you get in a paid plan, but obviously they don't tend to last very long. Trials are great for testing out a service before committing, but this isn't a long-term solution.

What we're saying is that the best option for streaming securely and accessing the online world without restrictions is with a paid subscription to a VPN. To gain access to advanced security features without limitations on usage, you need to pay up. The best VPNs are generally the most expensive, but there are plenty of cheap plans out there, especially if you're willing to commit to a lengthy contract.

What is the best VPN?

There are a lot of VPN providers out there all offering different sets of features, with different pricing structures. We recommend taking some time to carefully access your options, and decide on what you really need from a VPN. Once you have established your priorities, you can check out this definitive list of the best VPNs this month.

We have tracked down everything on offer and lined up a selection of the very best VPNs for streaming, shopping, and everything else. We have tried to find something for everyone and every budget, and you can find popular services like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and CyberGhost VPN in this list. All you need to do is weigh up these options against your own set of priorities, and then pick a favourite from the bunch.

These are the best VPNs in 2022.

Posted on 5 July 2022 | 2:40 pm

Make fancy coffee drinks with 65% off a Sboly espresso machine and milk frother

Sboly espresso machine and milk frother

SAVE 65%: Make your favorite fancy coffee drinks at home with the Sboly espresso machine and milk frother, which is on sale for just $34.99 at Walmart. That's $65 in savings as of July 5.

It may take a little more energy and a few extra minutes, but making coffee concoctions at home is worth the effort. Not only can you save money, but you'll also get the satisfaction of knowing your barista skills are up to par. It all starts with the right machine — a basic Keurig isn't going to cut it for latte lovers.

The Sboly espresso machine and milk frother can turn your kitchen into a coffee shop, and it's on sale for only $34.99 at Walmart. It regularly goes for $99.99, so that's 65% in savings as of July 5.

This workhorse device can make four shots of velvety smooth and piping hot (167 to 199 degrees Fahrenheit) espresso in only two minutes. There's just a single knob for seamless operation and a separate milk frother that transforms milk or milk substitutes into soft, rich foam in only 40 seconds.

The only catch: You can only use medium or coarse ground coffee. That just means you'll have to pay a bit more attention next time you're grocery shopping.

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Sboly espresso maker and milk frother (opens in a new tab)
$34.99 at Walmart (save 65%)
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Posted on 5 July 2022 | 2:33 pm

How to score a refurbished Apple Watch Series 4 for as cheap as $120

a space gray apple watch series 4 with a black band against a neon abstract background

SAVE UP TO $379.01: You can snag a refurbished Apple Watch Series 4 for cheap at Woot as of July 5. The 40mm entry-level model (without cellular connectivity) starts at only $119.99, which is 70% off its original retail price of $399.

Not impressed by any of Amazon's early Prime Day Apple Watch offers? Try Woot.

As of July 5, the daily deals site will give you a refurbished Apple Watch Series 4 with a space gray aluminum case and a black band for as low as $119.99, depending on the size and whether it comes with cellular connectivity. (The entry-level Series 4 retailed for $399 upon its release in 2018, for what it's worth.) Here's a quick price breakdown:

Note that all variants are listed in "Scratch & Dent" condition, which is basically Woot's way of saying that they come with a moderate level of wear and tear. That being said, they're tested to be in full working condition with at least 85% of their original 18-hour battery capacity. (If the one you receive is really scuffed up, keep in mind that the case and the band are both replaceable.)

The Series 4 is a Mashable's Choice Award winner that features fall detection, a heart rate sensor that can take an electrocardiogram (or ECG), a water-resistance rating of 50 meters, and a 64-bit dual-core processor that makes it twice as fast as its predecessor. Apple discontinued production of it in 2019 when the Series 5 came out, meaning it no longer sells it in the Apple Store, but it's still compatible with the latest version of watchOS.

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Credit: Apple
Refurbished Apple Watch Series 4 (Scratch & Dent) (opens in a new tab)
Starting at $119.99
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Posted on 5 July 2022 | 2:24 pm

Get a refurbished 12-inch MacBook from 2017 for less than half its original price

Silver macbook with mountain range background

TL;DR: As of July 5, you can get a refurbished Apple MacBook 12" 1.2GHz 256GB SSD for just $560 — that's another 20% off from its usual price of $700.

Apple is reportedly working on a new 12-inch MacBook for release either in late 2023 or early 2024. If you don’t feel like waiting until then to get your hands on a smaller MacBook, consider this deal on a refurbished 12-inch MacBook from 2017.

When the MacBook “Core m3” was released five years ago, it retailed for $1,299. Today, it’s valued between $600 and $700, but you can snag one on sale for only $560 for a limited time. Aesthetically, it’s not in tip-top condition, with a grade “C” refurbished rating. But hardware-wise, it’s completely tested and verified to be fully functional. In other words, it has a few battle wounds from its previous life. Just pop a case over it and you'll barely even notice.

The 12-inch MacBook doesn’t just have a small screen. It also sports the super small seventh-generation 1.2GHz Intel Core m3 processor, which means it's slim, fanless, and extremely lightweight at just 2 pounds. That’s even lighter than a MacBook Air. Its size doesn’t mean it skimps on power, though. It also features a Retina display with a vivid 2304 x 1440 resolution, up to 10 hours of battery life, 256GB of SSD storage, and 8GB of RAM. That’s plenty of power and space to support your everyday endeavors. 

The cons? It only has one USB-C port and a low-resolution 480p FaceTime camera. If you’re mainly using your device for browsing, streaming, or schoolwork, those shouldn’t be deal-breakers, though.

It may not be the latest and greatest Apple device on the market, but for only $560, you also get what you pay for. Plus, you don't have to wait around for another year or two. Upgrade your work or play setup for a steal.

Prices subject to change.

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Apple MacBook 12" 1.2GHz 256GB SSD - Space Gray (Refurbished) (opens in a new tab)
$560 at the Mashable Shop
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Posted on 5 July 2022 | 1:30 pm

Prism Drive’s cloud storage plans are majorly discounted

Hand holding phone in front of laptop

TL;DR: As of July 5, lifetime access to Prism Drive Secure Cloud Storage's 10TB plan is just $89 — it usually costs $2,490, so that's savings of 96%.

Even if you don’t take lots of photos or videos, you’ve probably been a victim of the dreaded “out of storage” alert on your phone or computer. Fortunately, in 2022, there are endless ways you can keep your files in a safe space without clogging up your device storage. You’re probably aware of major brands like iCloud, Dropbox, and Google Drive, but Prism Drive can give you a whole lot more bang for your buck.

Prism Drive has 10TB of secure cloud storage for life on sale for only $89. That’s one payment for storage you can access forever, so you can eliminate at least one of those annoying monthly subscriptions from draining your bank account.

Prism lets you upload just about any file type — JPEG, MP4, PPT, XLS, etc. — and access them from virtually any device. Its simple, drag-and-drop interface makes using it as simple as moving files around on your desktop.

You can preview popular file types without needing to download the file onto your hard drive, which is extremely convenient if you’re low on desktop space. Plus, you can share folders of photos and videos with family and friends by creating a shareable link with password protection. The whole family can access it easily without worrying about data breaches.

If you or someone else with access accidentally deletes a file and you need to recover it, you’ll have a full 30 days to bring it back from the trash. No harm, no foul.

Free up space on your devices — and allow them to work at their peak potential again — by sending your photos, videos, and files to a Prism Drive. With a 10TB capacity, you'll have more space than all of the other cloud storage services combined. And it'll only cost you $89. Don't need all that space? There's also a 2TB or 5TB plan for just $49 or $69.

Prices subject to change.

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Credit: Prism Drive
Prism Drive Secure Cloud Storage: Lifetime Subscription (10TB) (opens in a new tab)
$89 at the Mashable Shop
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Posted on 5 July 2022 | 1:26 pm

It's your last chance to get this home golf simulator for $85 off

Person swinging golf club with golf scene on TV while other people watch from sofa

TL;DR: As of July 5, the SwingLogic SLX MicroSim Home Golf MicroSimulator is on sale for $163.99 with the code JULY20 — that's 34% less than its regular price of $249.

Jealous of your friend’s home golf simulator and want to invest in your own? Now’s a great time to grab the SwingLogic SLX MicroSim, as it’s on sale for just $163.99 (reg. $249) with code JULY20 — that’s 34% in savings and $25 less than the last time we featured it. The deal is only live until July 5 at 11:59 a.m., so you’ll want to add it to your cart ASAP.

The SLX MicroSim is a 7.9g microsensor that pairs with a swing stick you can use to practice your golf shots right from your living room. You’ll have to register your device and install the E6 Connect app on your PC or iOS (no Mac or Android support at the time of writing) to get it set up. A solid internet connection is a must. Then you can unlock all the various play modes.

The E6 Connect software offers the ability to play on 3D-rendered, real-world golf courses in 4K resolution with your friends (in person or virtually), practice your swing and analyze your stats, or even teach your kids how the game works. With an impressive 0.12-second reaction rate, the swing sensor is pretty accurate. Many reviewers are pleasantly surprised by its accuracy for the price.

The tiny swing sensor can read your shot distance, carry, club speed, back spin, side spin, and more. It’s not quite the real thing, of course, but it’s a fun way to improve your game from home — and even get the whole family in on it. The lithium-polymer battery offers about eight hours of continuous use when it's fully charged.

Take a closer look:

Treat yourself to the SwingLogic golf simulator while it's at its lowest price on the web. Just don't forget to enter the code JULY20.

Prices subject to change.

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Credit: SwingLogic
SwingLogic SLX MicroSim - Home Golf MicroSimulator (opens in a new tab)
$163.99 at the Mashable Shop with code JULY20
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Posted on 5 July 2022 | 1:19 pm

Save on an AI camera drone to snap your best selfies

Blue drone next to phone showing air neo app screen

TL;DR: As of July 5, the Air NEO Selfie Camera Drone is on sale for just $127.96 with the code JULY20. That'll get you 20% off its regular price of 159.95.

Tired: setting up a tripod and remote control to snap self-portraits or TikTok videos. Wired: Throwing a drone up in the air and posing, dancing, and more at your leisure. 

The Air NEO Selfie Camera Drone allows you to snap some awesome photos and videos from the sky with a simple toss. And for a limited time, it’s on sale for 20% off.

It regularly costs $159.95, but it’s just $127.96 when you use the code JULY20 at checkout. The deal only lasts until July 5, though, so this is your last chance to score it at this low of a price.

Less than the weight of a golf ball and smaller than your iPhone, the Air NEO is a great tool for content creators of all kinds. It takes stunning aerial 12MP photos and 1080P HD videos at 30 FPS. It’s equipped with AI and uses a variety of auto-fly modes to fly on its own. You can simply toss it in the air and choose from wide-angle mode to shoot from 5 feet away, zoom mode to take close-up shots from just 2.5 feet away, or video mode to shoot 15 seconds of HD video. It will automatically fly back to you once it snaps the shot.

The app unlocks even more modes, like an orbiting mode that shoots HD video from 7.5 feet away as it does one complete revolution around you. You can also choose to pilot your Air NEO manually if you wish.

See it in action:

There's no need to bring an entire tripod setup with you on the go when you can fit the Air NEO in your pocket. Be sure to use the code JULY20 at checkout to secure the $127.96 sale price.

Prices subject to change.

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Air NEO Selfie Camera Drone (opens in a new tab)
$127.96 at the Mashable Shop with code JULY20
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Posted on 5 July 2022 | 12:58 pm

19 perfect Netflix soundtracks for your own personal montage

A girl looks up to the sky wearing headphones, with eyes gone misty.

Getting stuff done right now is a hard task, one you'd probably rather watch in an onscreen montage of your own life, a minute-and-a-half of soundtracked productivity without the IRL effort.

Turning your own to-do list into an enthusiastic filmic moment is a hard ask in this uneditable reality, but I've come up with my own cinematic technique for running up that hill and getting shit done: Netflix soundtracks.

From the Kate Bush life-saver from Stranger Things to the John Hughes-channelling dreampop of the To All the Boys... series, and the swinging '60s vibes of The Queen's Gambit, Netflix soundtracks might bring a little thematic coherence to your day, whether you're working at home, need to stimulate your brain, want to expand your music knowledge, or just want to dance around a little in between tasks or cries.

For the record, I've left musicals, music films, or music documentaries out of this list (that's way too easy, and would read "just play the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend soundtrack all the time"), but if you're really looking for these, make a start with the excellent film The Forty-Year-Old Version. And everything on this list is a Netflix series or film, to avoid picks not being available in different countries.

Just for fun, I've also included a big music moment for each, just to celebrate the power a strategic song choice has (and to dredge up all that raw emotion again, you're welcome).

You love the show or movie, now stream the soundtrack.

1. Never Have I Ever

Two girls stand looking at each other in a tattoo parlour.
One of the best soundtracks around. Credit: Netflix

If you're looking for the dreampop-drenched soundtrack of apparently all onscreen teen dreams, Never Have I Ever (directed by Linda Mendoza and written by Mindy Kaling) provides. While our pal Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) navigates high school drudgery, big-time crushes, family matters, and friend fallouts while attempting to bury her grief, the show's soundtrack sits in wait to elevate the story's many butterfly-filled adolescent happenings (Cannons' "Fire for You," I'm looking at you in both seasons).

Alongside Joseph Stephens’ playful ‘80s-inspired score, and a heap of synth-pop from the likes of Selebrities, Superhumanoids, and Anna of the North, the soundtrack also features multiple Bollywood songs and big club bangers — well, mainly this is a shout-out to the moment when Paxton Hall-Yoshida slow-motion strolls into a room to the sound of Robyn's "Dancing On My Own" in Season 1. Both seasons of this show have strong soundtracks, so plenty to love here.

SEE ALSO: The Bollywood dance scene in 'Never Have I Ever' is a Hollywood milestone

Big song moment: A wild card in the show's smorgasbord of electro-pop, the most unforgettable moment in Season 1 comes from U2's "Beautiful Day." You'll know.

Where to stream it: Spotify, Apple Music

2. Dear White People

A woman sits in a radio station broadcasting, holding a headphone to her ear.
Wouldn't you know it, the music supervisor for "Dear White People" is a former KCRW radio DJ. Sam would approve. Credit: Netflix

Amid the rampant systemic racism on-campus at Winchester College sits one of Netflix's most superb soundtracks. Combined with composer Kris Bowers' stunning score, the soundtrack for Dear White People is stocked with hundreds of songs across decades and genres — from '70s R&B to 2010s hip hop, classical to bebop. Across the seasons sit tracks from Childish Gambino, Noname, Michael Kiwanuka, Rapsody, Shamir (who appears in the show too), A Tribe Called Quest, Tkay Maidza, Tyler, the Creator, BROCKHAMPTON, DeJ Loaf, Thelma Houston, Moses Sumney, J Dilla, and so many more, not to mention a copious amounts of Tchaikovsky. As well as scoring moments of college life — love, sex, heartbreak, friendship, loss, episodes of Defamation — the show's music also fuels the narrative, like the Future song that ignites a pivotal scene in Season 1.

Each episode's soundtrack has its own style depending on the featured character, thanks to music supervisor and former KCRW radio DJ Morgan Rhodes. Rhodes told Variety the aim was to create a playlist for each student, based on those creator Justin Simeon had made previously. "Because the pervasive belief is that characters and their perspectives are nuanced and varied, just like their experiences," she said. "And so, in turn, their music should be." Bowers, the publisher notes, also wrote individual score themes for each character too.

And wrapping it all up, the fourth and final season of the show was a '90s jukebox musical. Perfect.

Big song moment: Joelle Brookes' perfect version of Erykah Badu's "Tyrone." Wow.

Where to stream it: Spotify — Season 1, Season 2, Seasons 3 and 4

3. Stranger Things

A girl bathed in red light.
Music can literally help you find your way out of The Upside Down. Credit: Netflix

Clearly if you're running a Netflix show involving teen romance and you don't have an '80s soundtrack, are you even a show? The Duffer Brothers' Stranger Things at least gets to claim that it's set in the 1980s, and you can hear it all through the soundtrack. The Cars, The Police, Duran Duran, Toto, The Psychedelic Furs, Cyndi Lauper, Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, New Order — the Stranger Things soundtrack is a smorgasbord of ‘80s delights that find a new sinister tinge when side-by-side with the series' big-synth-energy original theme and score by SURVIVE's Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein.

Thanks to music supervisor Nora Felder, songs have significant power within the narrative; Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)" was all anyone could talk about in Season 4 — apart from Metallica's "Master of Puppets." The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go" plays a pretty damn important role for the Byers family in Season 1. But others are gloriously non-diegetic, like The Cars' "Moving in Stereo" in that pool scene in Season 3.

Big music moment: OK. So this was the "Neverending Story" scene from Season 2. But of course, in one of the biggest music moments of Netflix soundtrack history? 🎶Be running up that road, Be running up that hill... 🎶

Where to stream it: Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music

SEE ALSO: Spotify has chosen your ‘Stranger Things’ savior song. Here’s where to find it.

4. The Harder They Fall

Four people in Wild West outlaw costumes stand in front of a church.
The soundtrack to "The Harder They Fall" does not miss. Credit: Netflix

Directed by Jeymes Samuel, The Harder They Fall, not only boasts an incredible cast — Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Regina King, Zazie Beetz, LaKeith Stanfield, and Delroy Lindo — but one of the best soundtracks of all time. The film defiantly reclaims the Western, even before the opening credits roll. A tale of heroes and villains, the film follows Nat Love (Majors), on a quest for revenge against the formidable Rufus Buck (Elba). But he'll have to make his gunslinging way through "Treacherous" Trudy Smith (Regina King) and Cherokee Bill (Stanfield).*

The film also has an excellent original score composed by Samuel himself, along with a huge soundtrack produced by the director and Jay Z — who also produced the film. There's standout tracks from Kid Cudi, Fatoumata Diawara, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Edi Gathegi, R.J. Cyler, Koffee, CeeLo Green, Seal, Laura Mvula, Mayra Andrade, and more.

Big music moment: Show me a better opener than "Lightnin’ With The Blam Blams" by R.J. Cyler and Edi Gathegi.

Where to stream it: Spotify

5. The Queen’s Gambit

A woman in the 1960s smokes a cigarette in a room where a guitar is mounted on the wall.
The ultimate '60s escapade. Credit: Netflix

If you managed to watch The Queen’s Gambit and not Shazam every song, you must have been concentrating on the next move. A treasure trove of swinging '60s tunes, the show's soundtrack complements every turtleneck, checkered coat, and mini-dress in Beth Harmon's enviable wardrobe.

While Carlos Rafael Rivera's compelling score tackles the big dramatic chess moments, there are so many memorable '60s needle drops soundtracking Beth's story: cleaning an entire apartment to "Along Comes Mary" by The Association, drinking PBRs to Shocking Blue's "Venus," putting up with the Apple Pis obsessing over The Vogues' "You’re the One," or engaging in speed chess set to Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames' "Yeh, Yeh." Hot tip? If you're having a hard time getting stuff done, throw on "Tut Tut Tut Tut" by Gillian Hills.

Big song moment: Beth throwing down an awkward dance-flirt to Peggy Lee's "Fever."

Where to stream it: Spotify, Apple Music

6. Malcolm and Marie

A couple sit outside their house on chairs late at night.
Whatever you thought of the film, the "Malcolm and Marie" soundtrack rules. Credit: DOMINIC MILLER / NETFLIX

One of Netflix's most polarising films has an undebatable strength: an incredible soundtrack. From the very first notes of James Brown's "Down and Out in New York City," (from the 1973 Larry Cohen film Black Caesar) to the final frames over Outkast's "Liberation," the film's soundtrack almost acts as another character in Malcolm and Marie.

Zendaya (Marie) told Desus and Mero that a few songs — like William Bell's "I Forgot to Be Your Lover" — were written into the script by director Sam Levinson. "Some of them Sam wrote in because they play into where the characters are emotionally, whether that be Malcolm trying to apologise, or Marie trying to talk to him," she said. Others were selected by the film's editor, Julio Perez IV — like jazz track "Betaminus" by Zoot Sims, Jim Hall, and Jimmy Raney, which scores the making of mac and cheese.

But John David Washington (Malcolm) pitched the final Outkast track. "Hearing what Malcolm was going through," he said, "and being a frustrated artist and the relationship with the industry, there's something about Erykah Badu's verse on that, CeeLo's verse on that, always resonates. I thought it was apropos for this story to end it like that."

Big music moment: The timelessly romantic "In a Sentimental Mood" by Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, which pops up in a rare Nice Moment. Savour it.

Where to stream it: Spotify, Apple Music

7. Sex Education

Two teens stand looking at each other at a gas station at night.
So much '80s on this list. Credit: Netflix

For some reason, nothing sets a teen romance comedy more firmly in the present than an ‘80s inspired soundtrack. Combined with Oli Julian's classic teen movie score, the awkward, devastating, and hilarious adolescent chapters of Sex Education come soundtracked by '80s hits from The The, Salt-N-Pepa, A Flock of Seagulls, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, a-ha, Billy Idol, The Smiths, Talking Heads, INXS, The Cure, Roxy Music, and plenty more — including Lily's unsuccessful mood-setter, "Wild Thing" by Tone-Loc. Meanwhile, Ezra Furman adds poignancy to the series with plenty of sweet additions including newbies written for the show (you’ll spy a cameo in Season 1, with one of the best Eric-Otis moments ever). Sure, you'll want to ride through the Welsh countryside with your best friend talking about masturbating, all set to Furman's unofficial show anthem "Love You So Bad" — but for now, home listening will have to do.

Big song moment: Aimee Gibbs surrounded by her friends on the bus to Sharon Van Etten's "Seventeen." An absolute show-stopper after a powerful storyline.

Where to stream it: Spotify (Furman's tracks or the whole thing), Amazon Music, Apple Music

8. Top Boy

A woman looks over her shoulder, looking worried.
'Top Boy' features some of the UK's biggest music names in the cast and on the soundtrack, including Little Simz. Credit: Ana Blumenkron / Netflix

Created by Ronan Bennett, Top Boy goes back a decade with music at its very core — on screen with its cast, behind the scenes with its producers, and in its soundtrack. The original Channel 4 series (titled now as Top Boy: Summerhouse) centred around the fictional Summerhouse public housing estate in Hackney, London, and drug dealers Dushane and Sully (Ashley Walters AKA Asher D and Kane Robinson AKA Kano). Then, Drake revived the show for Netflix and launched a new season in 2019.

The series has seen a who's who of the UK music scene appear in roles, including Little Simz, Dave, Scorcher, Sway, Blakie, and Bashy. It goes without saying then, that Top Boy also features one of the best TV soundtracks around, brimming with tracks by Burna Boy, Jorja Smith, Kojey Radical, Central Cee, and so many more.

Best music moment: The perfection of Lloyd Luther's "Drugs on Tap," in Season 3, episode 4, when Jamie's crew takes Cameron hostage.

Where to stream it: Spotify

9. To All the Boys...

Three girls sing into microphones in a hotel room.
Always and 4eva Credit: Netflix

If you're not a romantic, you probably already hate this list with all the big-time mushy vibes around here. But I'm here to melt your cold jaded heart with LJ + PK and the delightfully loved-up soundtracks of the To All the Boys... series. Music supervisors Laura Webb and Lindsay Wolfington handpicked every song of the three films — and there are a lot of them, with 47 songs in Always and Forever alone. Songs reappear in the films for sweet impact — for example, "I Like Me Better" by Lauv plays as the bus leaves on the ski trip and heading to NYC (though remixed), and Anna of the North soundtracks both that spa scene in the first film and the bowling date in the third. The soundtracks meander through '80s-inspired (or actual '80s) electronic pop for that unmistakable John Hughes vibe, big fun chart-toppers (cue the Covey sisters singing karaoke to Iggy Azalea's "Fancy,"), fierce K-pop, nostalgic throwbacks, and new romantic indie tunes. And of course, this is a rom-com, so Lara Jean and Peter need "their song," right? Well...

Big music moment: You knew I was going start sweetly wailing "Beginning Middle End," by Leah Nobel and Quinn Redmond, first performed on an NYC rooftop by The Greeting Committee (who actually have three songs on the soundtrack), but not made iconic there.

Where to stream it: Spotify (All three films, P.S. I Still Love You, Always and Forever), Apple Music (P.S. I Still Love You, Always and Forever), Amazon Music (P.S. I Still Love You, Always and Forever)

10. On My Block

A group of teens sit in a bedroom around a camp light.
So much has happened to the "On My Block" squad, with so many tunes. Credit: Nicola Goode / Netflix

After everything we’ve been through the squad, the soundtrack for On My Block will remind you of all the high school shenanigans, first loves and crushes, heartbreak and tragedy, hardcore mystery-solving, gang violence, and general awkwardness of adolescence in Freeridge. This consistently Shazam-worthy soundtrack covers considerable ground with genres, ranging from R&B, neo-soul, Latin hip hop, low-key pop, salsa, electronic indie, the lot — with both super famous and emerging artists. Alongside New York producer Kovas' superb score (and original song), scenes of young love, breakups, and family revelations land with tracks from Amir Obé, Tattoo Money, Raury, Cherry Hill, Billie Eilish, Nao, Brent Faiyaz, and Alina Baraz, fun party scenes are scored by Crooked Stilo and Daye Jack, while RollerWorld/Lil' Ricky mystery-hunting escapades run with Sampha, Rayana Jay, and Little Simz among others. But nothing stops the show like Ruby and Jasmine performing their incredible Dillon Francis "Look At That Butt" routine, that guilty viral pleasure "Lunch Money," or Rosé's ode "Tricky Ricky." Well, there might be one song...

Big music moment: It's hard to forget DeJ Loaf's "Changes" and its connection with a certain quinceañera, not to mention its terrible re-appearance in Season 2.

Where to stream it: Spotify

11. Moxie

A girl holds up a zine called "Moxie!"
if you didn't love The Linda Lindas before "Moxie," you will after. Credit: Netflix

Starting a movement? You're gonna want some riot grrrl energy behind you. Amy Poehler's Moxie is brimming with feminist power anthems from artists across multiple genres, with key zine scenes set to Bikini Kill's "Double Dare Ya" and TopLady's "Green Light Red Light." Vivian's (Hadley Johnson) shenanigans are inspired by her mum's (Poehler) activism, and are scored to The Julie Ruin, Tacocat, Yuno, Princess Nokia, and great covers by Brandi Carlile and Lucy Dacus. But the feminist punk anthem above all, Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl," makes more than one appearance, whether blasting from headphones or performed by Los Angeles band The Linda Lindas. Gotta say it, though: Poehler wears a Sleater Kinney T-shirt and sneaks in a photograph of herself hanging with the band without any of their immortal tunes appearing in this film. I object.

Big music moment: Walking out to Ebony Bones' "W.A.R.R.I.O.R." is bold.

Where to stream it: Spotify, Apple Music

12. Someone Great

Two people sharing an earphone each sit by a river. One kisses the other on the chin.
🎶 In my heeeead, I play a supercut of us. 🎶 Credit: netflix

If you've recently gone through a traumatic break-up, it might be best to avoid this soundtrack — unless you have an immovable stallion heart. But if you need, nay, deserve a Big Cry, get amongst this one. As Jenny, Leah, and Blair (Gina Rodriguez, DeWanda Wise, and Brittany Snow) gallivant around NYC throwing smoke, mirrors, and Lizzo's "Truth Hurts" in front of a raw break-up, the Someone Great soundtrack blends escapist party bangers with heart punches (and liberal use of Phoebe Bridgers, Sigrid, Mitski, and Frank Ocean's signature melancholia). Kicking off with Lorde's mighty break-up song "Supercut," the film wields music as bookends of a relationship — from cute, flirty Vampire Weekend "Mansard Roof" beginnings to seeing each other post-break-up while Jessie Reyez performs the hell out of "Great One."

Big music moment: While I was going to pick the lovely bodega scene involving "singing it out" to Selena’s "Dreaming of You," I'll give this one to Phoebe Bridgers' "Scott Street" quietly rampaging all over the "our spot" moment in Washington Square Park. Those strings. Help.

Where to stream the soundtrack: Spotify, Apple Music

13. Bridgerton

Two people in Regency costume dance, gazing at each other.
Those classical pop covers tho. Credit: LIAM DANIEL / NETFLIX

Wait, is that Ariana Grande scoring this ball? Taylor Swift scoring this Extra Horny Episode? As the cornucopia of debaucherous Regency-era shenanigans scampered onto Lady Whistledown's pages, so did Bridgerton's soundtrack hasten into our awaiting ears.

Dear White People composer Kris Bowers continues the magic in Shonda Rhimes' outstandingly popular romance series, teaming up with the Vitamin String Quartet and Duomo for the show's signature classical covers — from Billie Eilish's "bad guy" to Ariana Grande's "thank u, next, Maroon 5's "Girls Like You," to Celeste's "Strange." Season 2 continued this train with covers of Madonna's "Material Girl," Rihanna's "Diamonds," Robyn's "Dancing on my Own," and a perfect use of Alanis Morrisette's "You Outta Know."

"A combination of a [distinct musical] palette and [distinct musical] themes really helped create a continuity through-line, even as we were changing aspects of the genre or instrumentation," Bowers told Mashable's Proma Khosla.

Big music moment: From Season 1? You know it's the "Wildest Dreams" scene. From Season 2? The excellent cover of popular Bollywood song "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham" while Edwina (Charithra Chandran) gets ready for her wedding.

Where to stream it: Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music

SEE ALSO: Behind 'Bridgerton' Season 2's inspired Bollywood cover

14. She's Gotta Have It

Two people sit opposite each other in an art studio, smiling.
Don't know what the song is "She's Gotta Have It"? Spike Lee might drop an album cover for you. Credit: Netflix

Spike Lee's Netflix series inspired by his 1986 film may have been canned after two seasons, but the She's Gotta Have It soundtrack will live on. Joining happily nonmonogamous protagonist Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise) in her daily experiences juggling sex, dating, friendship, politics, misogyny, and making art in Brooklyn comes with one exceptional soundtrack — this is a Spike Lee joint, after all. Alongside composer Bruce Hornsby's triumph of a score comes a playlist handpicked by Lee, which weaves through jazz, soul, R&B, reggaeton, and many other genres and decades — not to mention that beautiful opening theme (Hornsby's expansion of the original film theme composed by Lee's father Bill) paired with photos from around Fort Greene, where Lee grew up. And if you weren't sure of how pivotal music was to the series, Lee splices in album covers for the song you just heard as a scene transition device. Handy.

Big music moment: It seems too easy, but the montage of Nola's powerful street art "My Name Isn't ____" campaign (inspired by artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh) set to Jill Scott's 2007 track "Golden" is a magnificent way to start the series.

Where to stream it: Spotify

15. Heartstopper

Two boys and a dog lie in the snow, seen from above, with illustrations of snow around them.
This SCENE 💘 Credit: Netflix

There's a lot of teen romance in here, which, if you're doing it right, always comes with a sweet, uplifting soundtrack. English writer and illustrator Alice Oseman adapted the characters of her Tapas/Webtoon/Tumblr hit 2016 webcomic for the Netflix screen with director Euros Lyn. Heartstopper has a dreamy, floaty, electronic playlist full of Wolf Alice, Maggie Rogers, Girl In Red, beabadoobee, CHVRCHES, Orla Gartland, Baby Queen, Montaigne, Chairlift — you get it.

Big music moment: It's got to be beabadoobe's "Dance with Me," the perfect song for falling in love on a snow day.

Where to stream it: Spotify

16. GLOW

Two wrestlers in '80s gear in a ring.
Power up with the "GLOW" soundtrack. Credit: Erica Parise / Netflix

If you need a pep-up, channel your own character to join the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, and hit play on the GLOW soundtrack. If there's an '80s power hit, it's on here, being set in the decade of major hair and spandex —think Patty Smyth's "The Warrior," Roxette's "The Look," Pat Benatar's "Invincible," Journey's "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)." You'll want to make your own series main title sequence to Billy Joel's "You May Be Right," using escalators. But there's also plenty from the '50s, '60s, and '70s on here too. Pick your poison and get in the ring.

Big song moment: I've got a soft spot for Brittanica's GLOW rap — sorry, "speak-singing." Knowing the British wrestler Rhonda is played by singer Kate Nash makes it even better.

Where to stream it: Spotify, Apple Music

17. Russian Doll

A woman adjusts her appearance in a mirror.
🎶 Gotta get up, gotta get out, gotta get home before the mornin' comes... 🎶 Credit: Netflix

Sweet birthday babyyyyy, if you're enjoying the dreamy synth levels of this list of soundtracks, check out the soundtrack to Russian Doll. Natasha Lyonne’s Groundhog Day-like mystery adventure is staged alongside French pop from Jacqueline Taïeb, synth-pop from Light Asylum, and '60s psychedelia from Mae West, among plenty of other haunting songs. But of course, the signature song from Season 1 is Harry Nilsson's "Gotta Get Up," played over and over again to signal each reset. Lyonne herself referred to the song as having a "buoyant doomsday quality" in a New York Times interview, and eventually picked it over a few other options to "touch something that was out of time, and a New York and East Village that was out of time."

Big music moment: No spoilers (because of the nature of this show), but the very final moments of the show are perfectly served with Love's 1967 track "Alone Again Or."

Where to stream it: Spotify

18. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Teenagers in Halloween costumes dance in a living room.
They did the mash. Credit: Diyah Pera/Netflix

While Riverdale's doing its thing over there with "Mad World" moments, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina brings some witchy business to the town of Greendale. While Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) figures out how to be a teenage witch dealing with succubitches and regular high school student, the show's soundtrack always makes a spooky connection, often with '50s, '60s, and '70s rock and roll, from Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising," to "Strange Magic" by Electric Light Orchestra and Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man." Plus, there are some killer covers, like "I Put A Spell On You" by Sylvia Gordon.

"Like the show itself, the songs of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are current, vintage, cutting edge and familiar (with a twist), and these elements create the musical character for the show," said music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas (who also works on Riverdale and gave us the immortal soundtrack of The O.C.) in a press statement. These songs all bubble alongside composer Adam Taylor's haunted score which seems to deploy a ghostly theremin or sinister strings at every turn.

Big music moment: An early moment in Season 1, but Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kicker's "Monster Mash" at Roz's Halloween party is such a vibe.

Where to stream it: Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music

19. The Umbrella Academy

A group of superheroes stand in battle formation in a giant mansion.
This battle scene does not go how you think it will... Credit: Netflix

The Umbrella Academy and the adventures of the Hargreeves often involve big breakout needle drops, and you've gotta love it. The Netflix series about a group of superpowered siblings, often through time and space, comes with one hell of a soundtrack alongside composer Jeff Russo's score. From the first introduction to the family to Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now," to a whole fight scene set to "I Was Made for Lovin' You" by KISS, all the way to the end of the world soundtracked with Frank Sinatra's "My Way," these are music moments so deliberate and theatrical you'll need to take a breath after them.

Big music moment: I was going to go with Five fighting with his older self to "Dancing With Myself," but Season 3 kicking off with a big ol' dance battle to Kenny Loggins' "Footloose"? Correct.

Where to stream it: Spotify

Posted on 5 July 2022 | 12:22 pm

The best smart scales for tracking fitness and weight goals at home

Smart scales

Every fitness journey starts somewhere, and that starting point is usually the scales.

It’s not easy getting into shape, but it can be done. It takes focus, commitment, and a helping hand. Which, in this day and age, means tech-based assistance. There are plenty of products that will help make your journey a little easier. Everything from running watches to protein powders can give you the advantage. Another key item that could make a difference is a set of smart scales. Simply stepping onto a smart scale could be that first crucial leap towards your ultimate fitness goal.

Whether you're resolving to get in seriously good shape or just trying to watch your weight, it’s time to ditch your old analogue device and upgrade to a smart scale. But before you jump ahead and start shopping, it's worth explaining just why these scales are so smart.

What are smart scales?

Regular old scales only measure your weight, which is fine if that’s all you need. Smart scales provide you with extra data that helps tailor your weight-loss plan, with apps or online services to track various metrics and store information for you.

Most of the apps are compatible with the likes of Fitbit, Apple Health, and Google Fit, so you can sync your data to provide a clearer picture of your progress. Smart scales can provide the motivation to lose, maintain, or even gain weight.

Once you step on the scale, your information is recorded and sent to the accompanying app. These apps track your weight, providing charts that let you set goals for yourself. The ability to see goals and monitor progress can motivate you in ways that simply jotting down your weight simply cannot.

How do smart scales work?

Some scales use bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) technology to measure body composition. This technology uses electrical currents to gather measurements, so consult your doctor before hopping on if you are pregnant or have a pacemaker.

The number of measurements that are tracked will vary from scale to scale. Some only track a handful of metrics, like weight, fat, lean mass, and body mass index (BMI). Others, such as the RENPHO scale, track 13 different body composition metrics. Some of these measurements might not be necessary for you to keep tabs on. If you are just casually watching your weight, for instance, you probably don’t need a scale that tracks bone mass and skeletal muscle.

Finding the right smart scale depends on which specific metrics you want to track, which features suit your lifestyle and goals, and your medical history.

What is the perfect weight?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this, because it depends on your size and various factors, such as age, muscle-fat ratio, height, sex, and body shape.

The best way to determine whether you’re at a healthy weight is to measure your BMI (body mass index). A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy. A BMI over 30 is considered obese. BMI measurement is standard on smart scales.

It's important to not obsess over these numbers. Everyone has a different set of circumstances that may influence where you fall on the scale. The most important thing to remember is that you're on your own personal fitness journey, and things take time. Focus on feeling fitter and healthier, and the rest will fall into place.

Which app do you need for smart scales?

The best app will depend on which smart scale you purchase. Some will need you to download and use a specific app, while others will have universal compatibility that syncs with popular fitness apps such as Garmin Connect, Nike+, and Google Fit.

Make sure you check this out before making any purchase, because this could result in extra costs.

What is the best smart scale?

There’s a whole world of smart scales out there – and lots of brands you’ve probably never come across. You might feel more comfortable going with a brand you know, such as Fitbit or Garmin. These are well-trusted, top-of-the-range fitness tech manufacturers and their smart scales sync with their other devices.

Other popular smart scale brands include Withings, Eufy, and RENPHO. Tanita is another brand to consider. It makes a range of models, from low-tech basic scales to hi-tech devices geared towards specific fitness goals. We've scoured the internet and tracked down some of the very best smart scales from some of top brands. There should be something for everyone and every budget in this list. All you need to do is pick a favourite and jump on.

These are the best smart scales in 2022.

Posted on 5 July 2022 | 10:54 am

The 15 best crime shows on Netflix to add a little stress to your life

Two detectives on one side of an interrogation table show evidence to someone out of frame.

Nothing gets the juices flowing quite like crime, eh? A heist, some weapons trafficking, maybe a little arson?

The problem is the consequences. The court appearances, the jail time, the change of relationships with family and friends. Sometimes it's just not worth it. That's where crime TV shows come in: all the thrills of crime without the negative personal ramifications!

Netflix has a whole bunch of crime shows waiting to be dug into, whether it's court-focused miniseries, investigation procedurals, or action-packed spotlights on criminal activities. Netflix being Netflix, there are quite a few shows to sift through and maybe some you might miss on a cursory search, so we compiled the best crime shows you can watch on Netflix.

1. American Vandal

Three people stand around a board covered in clues.
The conspiracies flow as suspects are targeted and investigated in "American Vandal." Credit: Scott Patrick Green / Netflix

This mockumentary-style comedy series is set in a high school where two heinous crimes have taken place. In the first season, someone spray paints dicks on a bunch of cars in the parking lot. In the second season, someone tampers with the cafeteria offerings, making dozens of students lose control of their bowels. Shot through the lens of a few high schoolers trying to document their search for the truth, both season are hilarious as the mysteries unravel and we learn more about these high schoolers, their relationships, and their proclivity for hijinks. — Kellen Beck, Entertainment Reporter

Where to watch: American Vandal is now streaming on Netflix.

2. Breaking Bad

A man stands in the desert.
Walter White (Bryan Cranston) learns how to be a pretty great criminal. Credit: Ursula Coyote / AMC

Breaking Bad takes one guy involved with one specific topic, methamphetamines, and covers it from pretty much every possible angle imaginable. The series stars Bryan Cranston as mild-mannered chemistry teacher Walter White who turns to producing and selling meth to cover the costs of his cancer treatments and make sure his family will be financially stable no matter what. Things spiral out of control continuously for several seasons as the DEA (including his brother-in-law) hunts him and his hunger for power drives Walter to mingle with increasingly dangerous dealers, cartels, and gangs. The setting of New Mexico, the writing, the photography, and the entire cast is excellent. The spin-off, Better Call Saul, which is a bit less crime-y, is equally as entertaining (if not a little more so), and is also available to stream on Netflix. — K.B.

Where to watch: Breaking Bad is now streaming on Netflix.

3. Death Note

Three animated characters, one holds an apple.
Things are very, very dark in the world of "Death Note." Credit: viz media

Death Note, based on the manga of the same name, is a fantastic anime series that blends the supernatural with psychological thrills and mystery. Light Yagami, a young genius, finds a book called the "Death Note," to which a shinigami (demon) named Ryuk is attached. The Death Note allows whoever uses it to kill anyone by writing their name down in it, and Light gets to work killing lots of people he deems bad, setting off a manhunt led by a detective known as L to track him and stop him. It's weird, dark, sometimes goofy, and full of suspense and moral quandary. (There's also a live-action movie on Netflix, which is pretty bad. Stick to the anime.) — K.B.

Where to watch: Death Note is now streaming on Netflix.

4. When They See Us

Two people sit in a holding room.
Wrongly accused. Credit: Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

The most culturally significant project Netflix released in 2019, Ava DuVernay's When They See Us revisits the case of the Central Park Five in excruciating detail. Examining the wrongful convictions of five Black and Latino men — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise — for rape in 1989 (for which they would be exonerated over a decade later) this poignant true-crime miniseries offers a heart-wrenching look at the ongoing flaws in our justice system. A powerful watch, When They See Us highlights the insidious biases that plague our society and the vulnerable people put at risk.*Alison Foreman, Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: When They See Us is streaming on Netflix.

5. Good Girls

Two women sit in a kitchen listening to someone out of frame.
Two of the electric good girls from "Good Girls." Credit: Jordin Althaus / NBC

Three of your TV faves — Christina Hendricks of Mad Men, Retta of Parks and Recreation, and Mae Whitman of Arrested Development — star as a trio of suburban moms who stick up a grocery store to pay some bills. Unsurprisingly to anyone who’s ever seen a crime drama before, they quickly discover they’ve gotten in way over their heads. Equal parts thrilling and funny, with unexpected touches of emotion and cast chemistry you want to live in, Good Girls is a great time. — Angie Han, Deputy Entertainment Reporter

Where to watch: Good Girls is now streaming on Netflix.

6. Top Boy

A young boy and a young man walk together, one in school uniform.
Britain's answer to "The Wire"? Credit: Netflix

Created by Ronan Bennett, Top Boy first aired in the UK from 2011 to 2013, originally set in the fictional Summerhouse public housing estate in East London, and drug dealers Dushane and Sully (Ashley Walters and Kane Robinson). Drake revived the show for Netflix alongside Adel Nur, Maverick Carter, and Jamal Henderson in 2019, with Walters and Robinson returning to their roles, and Lover's Rock star Micheal Ward joining as new gang leader Jamie.

This meaty drama, which has been compared to HBO’s The Wire, is startlingly grounded, anchored by a young, talented cast that radiates with vulnerability. This is television at its best.*Kristina Grosspietsch, Writer

How to watch: Top Boy is now streaming on Netflix.

7. How to Get Away with Murder

Three people stand in an academic room.
The drama never stops compounding in "How to Get Away with Murder." Credit: Byron Cohen / ABC

How to Get Away with Murder is a show of complicated storylines and simple pleasures. The premise, which centers on a law professor and five students who get tangled up in a high-profile murder case, lends itself to one dizzying twist after another. But you can reliably count on the series for increasingly ridiculous plot twists, a knowingly campy tone, a super-sexy cast, and above all, a powerhouse performance by Viola Davis that elevates it into something truly special. Just be warned: You will try to binge the whole first season in one sitting. — A.H.

Where to watch: How to Get Away with Murder is now streaming on Netflix.

8. Mindhunter

Detectives sit at an interrogation table.
Getting in the heads of some of the most heinous killers in modern history. Credit: netflix

Based on true accounts of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, a now-defunct department of the ‘70s credited with establishing many modern criminal profiling tactics, Mindhunter offers a terrifying meditation on violent crime. Although much of the series is structured around the hunt for Dennis Rader (aka "BTK"), Mindhunter isn’t a police procedural in the true sense. Instead, it takes its viewers on a terrifying meet-and-greet with some of the most prolific serial killers of the 20th century, and asks why they did what they did. It’s a tremendously dark watch, but offers a nuanced portrait of criminologist history worth a watch for any true crime fan. — Alison Foreman, Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: Mindhunter is now streaming on Netflix.

9. Narcos

Three men stand around with each other, one looks at a piece of paper.
The hunt for some of the biggest players in drug trafficking in "Narcos" is intense. Credit: Juan Pablo Gutierrez / NETFLIX

Whether you caught this Netflix staple in its heyday or are circling back after getting into its successor Narcos: Mexico, you’re definitely making a solid crime show choice with Narcos. Better and better across its three seasons, this look at the life of drug lord Pablo Escobar (played by Wagner Moura, who earned two Golden Globe nominations for his performance), is deeply unnerving and tremendously dark. Still, its consistently excellent pacing and high production value make it more than a slog through underworld horror, instead offering a warped but resonant portrait of power. — A.F.

How to watch: Narcos is now streaming on Netflix.

10. Ozark

One person hugs two other people.
The Birds really get into some stuff in "Ozark." Credit: NETFLIX

As Tolstoy wrote, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. But in Ozark? The Birds get screwed in a uniquely shitty fashion. In this spiritual successor to Breaking Bad, executive producer and director Jason Bateman stars as Marty, a mild-mannered money launderer who accidentally sticks his family in the crosshairs of a Mexican drug cartel. Across three seasons — with a fourth and final installment expected in 2021 — we watch as Marty, his wife Wendy (Laura Linney), and their two kids (Sofia Hublitz and Skylar Gaertner) grapple with life and death consequences against the ominous backdrop of the Ozarks. This one is just truly great TV, with supporting performances to die for. — A.F.

How to watch: Ozark is now streaming on Netflix.

11. Peaky Blinders

Two people in 1920s dress pull beers behind a bar.
The best break from the cutthroat streets is a boozey one. Credit: bbc

Peaky Blinders is a superbly gripping British crime drama that’s loosely based off of real people and historical events. The series, created by Steven Knight, is set in post-World War I Birmingham, England, and follows war hero Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) who’s taken his place as boss of the family and crafty gang leader. Viewers are masterfully transported to the gritty, cutthroat 1920s streets where Tommy struggles to manage his family’s business, crimes, and enemies — all while dealing with severe PTSD.

The show is ripe with seduction, love, loss, mismanaged emotions, booze, guns, violence, and wits. It delivers twists and turns that are sure to shock even the most attentive viewers, and it features a stacked cast (including Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson, and Tom Hardy). The costume design is fiercely impressive, and in case you’re not hooked yet, it also has a killer soundtrack full of PJ Harvey, The White Stripes, Radiohead, and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. — Nicole Gallucci, Culture Reporter

Where to watch: Peaky Blinders is now streaming on Netflix.

12. The Sinner

A man in a suit follows a woman in a prison uniform, handcuffed.
Credit: Netflix

Saying there are a lot of crime shows out there in a roundup of crime shows feels like stating the obvious, but it does sometimes feel like a genre that's become oversaturated. As Mashable's Jess Joho wrote in her review of Season 2, though, "The Sinner is one of the few crime series more interested in innocence than in guilt. It's exactly what makes it feel so compelling and fresh."

The anthology show focusses on a different case each season, with troubled Detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) investigating scenarios where unexpected people have seemingly committed terrible crimes. Although I'd argue the earlier seasons are the strongest, The Sinner never pulls any punches and always places its well-drawn characters at the centre. — Sam Haysom, Deputy UK Editor

Where to watch: The Sinner is now streaming on Netflix.

13. Riverdale

Teens sit around a diner table.
"Riverdale" is, frankly, wack. Credit: Warner Bros.

Is it weird that a TV series based on the generally saccharine Archie comics is actually about murder, sex, and drugs? Yes. Is any of that weirdness remotely bad in Riverdale? No. Not at all. Riverdale kicks off with the mysterious death of Jason Blossom and blooms further into a smart, unabashedly bonkers CW classic that isn’t afraid to get messy. From the occasional musical number to the Gargoyle King enthralling legions of children with hallucinogenic Pixy Stix, Riverdale makes good on its most iconic line: No one’s innocent in crime town. — Alexis Nedd, Senior Entertainment Reporter

Where to watch: Riverdale is now streaming on Netflix.

14. Sacred Games

A man points a gun in a hallway.
Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan) pursues a ruthless criminal in "Sacred Games" Season 1. Credit: netflix

Adapted from Vikram Chandra’s 2006 novel, Sacred Games centers on the underworld of Mumbai and one notorious gangster: Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). Gaitonde sends a missive to police officer Sartaj Singh (Said Ali Khan) with a 25-day ultimatum for saving his city from catastrophe. It is a show that could have buckled completely with subpar casting, but Siddiqui’s performance is indelible from start to finish. Gaitonde’s every look, movement, and spitting curse word create a dynamic anchor for this sinister tale as it unravels...even if Season 1 is way better than Season 2. — Proma Khosla, Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: Sacred Games is now streaming on Netflix.

15. Unbelievable

A girl in a plaid shirt stands on a verandah.
UNBELIEVABLE Credit: Beth Dubber / Netflix

Unbelievable is absolutely one of the best shows of 2019, because it's a thoughtful crime miniseries that focuses on the victims, not the perpetrators. Thanks to Kaitlyn Dever's memorable, heartbreaking performance, viewers never forget the very real people behind the horrific headlines. In this based-on-a-true-story adaptation, a man breaks into a teen's home and rapes her, but doesn't leave any evidence, and the police doubt her story....until similar crimes start happening all over, and two tenacious detectives (Toni Collette and Marritt Weaver) join forces to finally bring these women justice. — Erin Strecker, Entertainment Editor

How to watch: Unbelievable is now streaming on Netflix.

*This blurb appeared on a previous Mashable list.

Related Video: From makeup to true crime: A look inside the weird world of YouTube mashups

Posted on 5 July 2022 | 9:04 am

Everything you need to know about Prime Day 2022 in the UK

Delivery boxes fly through the air like rockets next to the Mashable UK logo and the Amazon Prime Day logo

Prime Day is back for its seventh year in 2022, and even though you're probably pretty familiar with Amazon's exclusive event by now, we're sure you have a few questions. We're not promising to have all the answers, but if you're looking to save in this year's sale, this is a good place to start.

What is Prime Day?

Prime Day is an annual site-wide sale that Amazon puts on for its Prime members.

Prime Day began life way back in 2015 to celebrate Amazon's 20th anniversary, and was marketed as a "one-day only event filled with more deals than Black Friday, exclusively for Prime members around the globe." This inaugural Prime Day resulted in stock shortages and long waitlists for sought-after items, so the appetite for deals was clearly there. Prime Day has since expanded into an annual two-day event, with plenty of early deals available in the days leading up to the main event.

When is Prime Day in 2022?

Prime Day is taking place on July 12 and 13 this year, and there's even a press release from Amazon to prove it. Amazon has confirmed that Prime Day 2022 will begin on Tuesday, July 12 at a minute after midnight, and will offer over 2 million tantalising deals until midnight on Wednesday, July 13.

There are also rumours that Amazon is considering the idea of hosting a second Prime Day-style event in the autumn, which would be a first, but the company has yet to confirm any details.

How does Prime Day work?

We know you'll want to get stuck into Prime Day, but there is a catch. If you want to make the most of Prime Day, you'll need to be a Prime member to bag the best bargains.

If you're not already a member, you can join for free for 30 days with a trial. If you choose to continue with your membership, you can pay for the whole package at a cost of £79 each year, or pay monthly for £7.99 a month (which comes to £95.88 each year). Your subscription will automatically renew at the end of the free trial period, but you can cancel this at anytime. So you can get all the benefits of Amazon Prime membership over Prime Day without spending a penny.

It's worth noting that the official Prime Day landing page is already live, and we recommend keeping this page bookmarked — Amazon is already highlighting some of the best early Prime Day deals, so you could beat the rush by taking your pick from this page.

What should you buy this Prime Day?

There's a lot that we still don't know, so we're not going to make any bold predictions about deals. That's not to say we can't point you in the right direction, because Prime Day does tend to follow a pattern.

The best Prime Day deals are often in line with Black Friday, meaning headphones, speakers, robot vacuums, and Apple products will probably make the most impact. This could be your chance to find AirPods Pro for well below £150, and you could even find discounts on AirPods Max beyond a small discount.

Whilst you can expect to see millions of deals on just about everything, it's important to remember that Amazon holds Prime Day for itself. Deals on Amazon's own devices will feature heavily. You're guaranteed find deals on Echos, Fire tablets, Kindles, and Fire TV streamers, and Amazon will often discount these devices heavily. Prime Video, Prime Gaming, and Amazon's other subscription services will also see exclusive deals.

Can you support small businesses this Prime Day?

The biggest brands will always feature heavily in Prime Day, but thoughtful shoppers may appreciate the opportunity to support small businesses. During the build-up to Prime Day and throughout the popular shopping event, Amazon is offering shoppers the chance to win Amazon Gift Cards worth up to £5,000 by shopping with a small business.

There are hundreds of thousands of eligible small vendors in 2022, which is a lot. Everything you need to know about this special promotion can be found on the "Support Small" storefront page, which can be organised by women-owned shops, Black-owned shops, and more.

How can you shop on Prime Day?

When it comes to shopping on Prime Day, you have plenty of options. We've highlighted how you can make the most of this massive shopping event:

We don't really have a recommendation on which shopping method you should use, because it really depends on what works for you. Think about where you are going to be on July 12 and 13, and pick the option that is going to be easiest and most effective.

What are the benefits of Amazon Prime?

The list of Prime benefits is long, so we've gone ahead and highlighted the things that you should care about:

A membership is clearly stacked with benefits, including, of course, access to Prime Day deals on July 12 and 13. If you don't think Amazon Prime is for you long-term, but you still want access to Prime Day deals, we recommend going for the free trial and cancelling your membership once Prime Day is over. Just don't forget to cancel.

Once you are signed up, whether with a free trial or a full membership, you can maximise your chances to save on Prime Day 2022. With plenty of big discounts on laptops, tablets, TVs, games consoles, fitness equipment, and more expected in this shopping event, there has never been a better time to sign up.

Posted on 5 July 2022 | 4:05 am

A lifetime subscription to Koofr Cloud Storage is on sale for under £50

Cloud icon

TL;DR: A lifetime subscription to Koofr Cloud Storage is on sale for under £49.54, saving you 94% on list price.

While convenient in the grand scheme of Apple efficiency, iCloud is hardly the best cloud storage plan for your bank account. Paying monthly to store your precious photos and videos is not the move — especially when there are lifetime subscription options that allow you to pay once and be done.

A Koofr Cloud Storage Lifetime Subscription is exactly that. For just £49.54, you can get 250GB of cloud storage for life. Need more? There’s also a 1TB plan on sale for £115 (£20 less than the last time it was featured).

It’s entirely too easy to use up the storage space on your devices — especially when you’re a parent (human or pet). That’s why cloud storage is a must. Koofr is a safe and easy-to-use cloud storage service that compiles all of your existing cloud accounts (i.e. Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon, OneDrive, etc.) into a single place, makes managing your files a breeze, and keeps everything under lock and key.

You can access Koofr’s storage facility on both desktop and mobile, so you can keep all of your files synced up across devices. There are no limits on the file sizes you can upload, access, and share with others. So, yes, you can share that three-hour long sound clip you took at the Phish show. There’s also a duplicate finder, which can help you sort your existing photos and videos and remove anything that’s in there multiple times. You can also use the advanced renaming option and link appearance customisation option to organise your files in a way that makes sense to you. As a bonus, you’ll also never have to worry about Koofr keeping tabs on you or your behaviour.

If you're fed up with monthly fees, consider making the switch to Koofr Cloud Storage. It's only £49.54 for life.

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Posted on 5 July 2022 | 4:00 am

'Wordle' today: Get the answer, hints for July 5

Woman plays Wordle on her smartphone. Her first guess is the word WORDS.

Good morning, Wordlers! It's a new day and that means a brand spanking new puzzle to solve. While it's usually more satisfying to work it out all on your lonesome, sometimes you just get stuck. That's where we come in.

The answer to the July 5 Wordle, puzzle #381, can be found at the end of this article, with the spoiler clearly signposted. If you're not ready to find out the solution yet, read on for a few tips, gentle hints, and strategies to help you puzzle it out today and every day.

Who made Wordle? Where did Wordle come from?

Wordle's sudden explosion at the end of 2021 led to a round of press focused on its creator. Former Reddit engineer Josh Wardle actually came up with the game in 2021 as a private exercise for him and his word game-loving partner. It eventually became a staple of their family WhatsApp messaging, and that's when Wardle started to suspect he might have something special enough to merit a wider release.

So special, in fact, that the New York Times bought it from him in early 2022. Hundreds of thousands of people now play it every day.

Not the day you're after? Here's the Wordle answer for July 4.

What's the best Wordle starting word?

We have some ideas to help you pick the perfect first move (or as close to perfect as you can get without just magically guessing the exact right word). Such tips include choosing a word with at least two different vowels in it, plus a few common consonants such as S, T, R, or N.

SEE ALSO: The best Apple deals ahead of Prime Day 2022: MacBooks, iPads, AirPods, and more

Is Wordle getting harder?

If you've been finding Wordle too easy, there is a Hard Mode you can enable to give yourself more of a challenge. But unless you activate this mode, we can assure you that Wordle isn't getting harder. (This past week has just happened to throw up some doozies, though, so don't beat yourself up too much if you broke your streak.)

Why are there two different Wordle answers some days?

The whole point of Wordle is that everyone's solving the same puzzle, with the same answer, no matter where you are in the world. However, occasionally the puzzle game will accept two different correct solutions on the same day, in apparent defiance of Wordle law.

This aberration is due to changes the New York Times began making after it acquired Wordle earlier this year, removing obscure or potentially sensitive words from the original list Wardle put together. (For example, the word GAILY was originally scheduled to be a solution last week, but has been removed.) To make sure you're always getting the same puzzle as everyone else, refresh your browser before you play — don't worry, the site will keep your streak.

A subtle hint for the Wordle answer today:

It's a noun and a verb with a huge range of potential meanings, including ones to do with sports, agriculture, or even answering questions.

Wordle today is a 5-letter word that starts with...

The letter F!

What's the answer to the Wordle today?


We're about to tell you the answer.

Today's word is...


Reporting by Caitlin Welsh, Amanda Yeo and Adam Rosenberg contributed to this article.

Posted on 5 July 2022 | 2:27 am

Norton 360 in Australia: Everything you need to know

Norton Security

Our cybersecurity needs are constantly evolving, with brand new threats and nefarious malware showing up every day. The more our everyday lives become interconnected with our online profiles and digital identities, the more compelling targets we become for bad actors, identity thieves, and ransomware schemes.

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Norton 360 brings multiple layers of protection for your devices, with industry leading online privacy features including a secure VPN and Dark Web Monitoring.
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One of the best and easiest solutions to protect yourself and your household is finding a holistic cyber security package that best suits your specific needs. Norton Internet Security is a PCMag Editors’ Choice winner for their security suites, and a leader in the cybersecurity industry. Their most popular offerings: Norton 360, brings multiple layers of protection for your devices, with industry leading online privacy features including a secure VPN and Dark Web Monitoring. Norton 360 is designed to operate on both PC and Mac, as well as smartphones/tablets.

How urgently do I need internet security?

Simply put, there has never been a more dangerous time to surf the web. If you work remotely or do any banking or confidential business from a personal device, you’re putting both your data and yourself at risk. Norton reports that it blocks approximately 11 million+ threats every single day for its users, with a January 2022 report listing 3.6 billion threats blocked over the course of 2021. This included 54 million phishing emails, 221 million cases of file-based malware, and 253,063 potentially devastating ransomware attacks.

2021 also saw some incredibly high profile data breaches on popular services such as LinkedIn, Amazon-owned gamer streaming platform Twitch, online trading platform Robinhood, and an adult webcam site Stripchat. Over the past decade there have been hundreds of data breaches and hacks on hugely popular websites and services, so it’s quite possible that sensitive data of yours has already been compromised.

While you might consider yourself tech savvy (and perhaps you’ve never had a data scare in the past), an important point to consider is that often you’re not the only person using your device. The good ol’ fashioned family computer is a hotbed for all sorts of cyber attacks. The likelihood of a risky download or phishing scam increases exponentially when kids are involved, making parental controls an absolute lifesaver when it comes to curious kids who like to click links. Norton 360 does offer comprehensive parental controls, but to save costs for the smaller households, they aren’t available in all tiers of the service. To form a better idea of what is available and where, let's take a look at the three most popular Norton Security products in the 360 range.

Standard, Deluxe, Premium: What’s the difference?

While it may be easy to assume that the more you spend on a security product, the more secure it is, Norton doesn’t actually price this way. All of the Norton 360 packages offer the exact same technology when it comes to their Anti-Spyware, Antivirus, Malware and Ransomware Protection. So if you end up with the Standard package as opposed to Deluxe or Premium, you’ll still be just as secure.

The primary differences between Standard, Deluxe and Premium come down to the number of devices you’ll be protecting, the amount of secure cloud storage you require, and the addition of parental controls and features specifically designed around restricting children’s unsafe internet access.

We’ll go into more detail on each of these options below, but the simple breakdown is this: If you’re just looking to fully protect a single device, Norton 360 Standard should be enough. If you have kids or want to protect up to three devices, Norton 360 Deluxe will do the trick. If you are a power user and plan on regularly backing up your devices to the cloud, you’ll probably want to go straight to the Premium solution.

Inside Norton 360 Products

Intro offer of A$59.99 for first year; renews at full pricing.

Norton 360 Standard provides comprehensive protection for 1 PC, Mac, smartphone or tablet. 360 Standard gives you access to multiple layers of security with the same Anti-Spyware, Antivirus, Malware and Ransomware Protection as in Norton AntiVirus Plus, with included access to a secure VPN for safe browsing, and SafeCam for PC to block unauthorized access to your webcam. For your sensitive, crucial files and financial data, you have access to 10GB of cloud storage with PC Cloud Backup. Perfect for locking down the trusty home PC.

Intro offer of A$69.99 for first year; renews at full pricing.

Norton 360 Deluxe is PCMag Editors’ choice for the best security suite for VPN Enthusiasts. Of the three options, it provides the best value for the most robust personal internet security suite available. 360 Deluxe provides all the protections of 360 Standard for up to 3 devices, online privacy features including Norton Secure VPN, SafeCam for PC, as well as Dark Web Monitoring. It also includes up to 50GB of cloud storage for PC backup and is the cheapest access to Parental Control features such as ‘School Time’, which limits internet access to specifically educational websites and resources during school hours. If you can't make your mind up and just want to be as safe as possible across multiple devices, this is your best bet.

Intro offer of A$84.99 for first year; renews at full pricing.

Much like Norton 360 Deluxe, 360 Premium provides multiple layers of protection for up to 5 devices, online privacy features including Norton Secure VPN, SafeCam for PC and Dark Web Monitoring. For the most part, Premium offers all of the same services as 360 Deluxe. The core difference between Premium and Deluxe is in the allocated storage for Cloud backups and protection for additional devices. Norton 360 Premium offers 100GB of storage to 360 Deluxe’s 50GB.

If you’re interested in using Norton’s security technology (and given their strong results Test Lab results, you should!) It's important to also know the differences between each of the offerings in the Norton range, outside of Norton 360. To help with this check out this complete Norton Security guide here, covering all of their offerings currently available in Australia.

Posted on 4 July 2022 | 5:08 pm

'Wordle' today: Get the answer, hints for July 4

Wordle game displayed on a phone and a laptop screen.

It's America's birthday, but Wordle never takes a day off — it's a worldwide phenomenon, baby! While it's usually more satisfying to solve it all on your lonesome, sometimes you just get stuck. That's where we come in.

The answer to the July 4 Wordle, puzzle #380, can be found at the end of this article, with the spoiler clearly signposted. If you're not ready to cop the solution yet, read on for a few tips, gentle hints, and strategies to help you every day.

Who made Wordle? Where did Wordle come from?

Wordle's sudden explosion at the end of 2021 led to a round of press focused on its creator. Former Reddit engineer Josh Wardle actually came up with the game in 2021 as a private exercise for him and his word game-loving partner. It eventually became a staple of their family WhatsApp messaging, and that's when Wardle started to suspect he might have something special enough to merit a wider release.

So special, in fact, that the New York Times bought it from him in early 2022. Hundreds of thousands of people now play it every day.

Is there a Wordle app for Android or iOS? Is Wordle free?

You might find "Wordle" results in an iOS App Store or Google Play Store search, but don't mistake it for the real thing. Wordle, the original one Wardle came up with and kindly delivered unto the internet in late 2021, currently only exists as a browser game that lives right here on the New York Times website. If you're playing it anywhere else, it's — at best — a shameless knock-off that's trying to capitalize on someone else's success.

And, yes, it's still free.

Not the day you're after? Here's the Wordle answer for July 3.

Look to the future! Here's July 5's Wordle solution.

What's the best Wordle starting word?

We have some ideas to help you pick the perfect first move (or as close to perfect as you can get without just magically guessing the exact right word). Such tips include choosing a word with at least two different vowels in it, plus a few common consonants such as S, T, R, or N.

Is Wordle getting harder?

If you've been finding Wordle too easy, there is a Hard Mode you can enable to give yourself more of a challenge. But unless you activate this mode, we can assure you that Wordle isn't getting harder. (This past week has just happened to throw up some doozies, though, so don't beat yourself up too much if you broke your streak.)

Why are there two different Wordle answers some days?

The whole point of Wordle is that everyone's solving the same puzzle, with the same answer, no matter where you are in the world. However, occasionally the puzzle game will accept two different correct solutions on the same day, in apparent defiance of Wordle law.

This aberration is due to changes the New York Times began making after it acquired Wordle earlier this year, removing obscure or potentially sensitive words from the original list Wardle put together. (For example, the word GAILY was originally scheduled to be a solution this week, but has been removed.) To make sure you're always getting the same puzzle as everyone else, refresh your browser before you play — don't worry, the site will keep your streak.

A subtle hint for the July 4 Wordle answer:

It's a verb!

Wordle today is a 5-letter word that starts with...

The letter S. It also has a letter that appears twice. Maybe it's the S! Maybe it's not!

C'mon, is it the S?

It's not.

SEE ALSO: The best Apple deals ahead of Prime Day 2022: MacBooks, iPads, AirPods, and more

What's the answer to Wordle on July 4?


We'll finally tell you the answer.



Reporting by Caitlin Welsh, Amanda Yeo and Adam Rosenberg contributed to this article.

Posted on 4 July 2022 | 2:32 pm

Xiaomi 12S Ultra has an absolutely bonkers camera on the back

Xiaomi 12S Ultra

When is a phone no longer a phone, but a camera with a phone attached? Xiaomi might have an answer.

On Monday, the company launched the new Xiaomi 12S Ultra, a powerful flagship designed to showcase Xiaomi's new partnership with imaging specialist Leica. And showcase it will, as every conversation about that phone is going to start with, "Holy crap, look at that camera!"

The 12S Ultra has a triple rear camera — a 50-megapixel main unit with Sony's 1-inch, IMX989 sensor, a 48-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and a 48-megapixel telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom and a maximum 120x magnification. The whole thing is equipped with Leica lenses and housed in an absolutely massive camera bump on the back, making even the one on the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra pale in comparison.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra review: A smartphone attached to a camera

All this gear should primarily make your photos less noisy in the dark, with more dynamic range and more light captured, though we'll judge the actual results when we test the phone. The Xiaomi 12S Ultra is also the first phone, Xiaomi says, to take Dolby Vision HDR video.

Now, take a moment and observe the camera in detail.

Xiaomi 12S Ultra camera up close.
The star of this show is Sony's 1-inch IMX989 sensor. Credit: Xiaomi

After you've soaked that in, here are the other specs of this phone: It's powered a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip with Xiaomi's new "3D cooling system," a 4,860mAh battery with 67W wired charging, 50W wireless charging, and 10W reverse wireless charging.

On the front, you'll find a 6.73-inch AMOLED display with 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, and a punch-hole, 32-megapixel selfie camera. The phone is available with 8/12GB of RAM and 256/512GB of storage. Other specs of note include dual, Harman Kardon-branded speakers, and IP68 dust and water resistance.

Three Xiaomi 12S Ultra smartphones side-by-side.
Two colors are on offer: black and green. Credit: Xiaomi

One other important tidbit: The phone weighs a hefty 225 grams. Hopefully, that weight is more evenly distributed than it was on the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, which was top heavy and hard to hold due to its huge camera module.

The Xiaomi 12S Ultra will be available in two colors: Classic Black and Verdant Green.

Xiaomi also launched the far-more-normal looking Xiaomi 12S Pro as well as Xiaomi 12S. The 12S Pro is exactly the same on the front, and also has a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip, but has a slightly less powerful triple rear camera with a smaller main sensor and just 2x optical zoom on the telephoto unit. It also has a smaller, 4,600mAh battery, weighs a bit less at 204 grams, and has a 128GB storage option.

Four Xiaomi 12S Pro smartphones in a row.
It doesn't make such a bold statement, but it's 21 grams lighter. Credit: Xiaomi

The Xiaomi 12S is also powered by a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip, but it's smaller at 6.28 inches, has a 50/13/5-megapixel rear camera, and a slightly smaller, 4,500mAh battery.

All of the phones are running Android 12 with Xiaomi's MIUI 13 on top.

All four devices will be on sale in China. The price for the Xiaomi 12S Ultra starts at 5,999 RMB ($896); the Xiaomi 12S Pro starts at RMB 4,699 ($702), and the Xiaomi 12S starts at RMB 3,999 ($598). There's no word on global availability just yet.

Posted on 4 July 2022 | 2:03 pm

24 stunning astronomy photographs that will take you to infinity and beyond

A crescent nebula in various pinks and purples photographed in space.

Photographs from space are currently nothing like we've seen before.

With the James Webb Telescope taking unprecedented images of the deepest we've seen of the universe, the Hubble Telescope snapping colliding galaxies, NASA's Mars rover Perseverance peering into new parts of the planet, and astrophotographers looking up just at the right time, astronomy photography is at its best right now.

And while we don't all have a high-powered telescope or planetary rover to peer into the beyond, every year, on Earth, we rely on talented photographers to bring us a little closer to the skies — many of whom feature in the annual Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition.

London's Royal Museums Greenwich has unveiled the finalists for this year's batch. The astrophotography competition, which has been running for 14 years, received over 3,000 entries taken from 57 countries. The winners will be announced at an online ceremony on Sept. 15, and will be displayed in an exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in London from Sept. 17.

SEE ALSO: The Webb telescope just took the deepest photo of the universe ever

You can see them below, across nine categories including galaxies, stars and nebulae, aurorae, sun, moon, and more. We've added the photographers' words under each image so you can know what you're looking at.

And if you'd like to see previous years, here's the finalists and winners from 2021.


A spiral galaxy in space
"Hydra's Pinwheel" Credit: Peter Ward

Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille first observed what later became known as the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy on 23 February 1752 from the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. This image, taken exactly 270 years later, combines a deep set of H-alpha exposures along with colour data to highlight the ruby-like star-forming regions of this beautiful barred spiral galaxy.

Two galaxies collide in space
"Cosmic Collision" Credit: Mark Hanson, Mike Selby

NGC 5426 and NGC 5427 are two spiral galaxies of similar size engaged in a major interaction. Known collectively as Arp 27, the interaction is expected to continue for tens of millions of years.

A galaxy in space
"Interacting Galaxies in Eridanus" Credit: Terry Robison

This pair of interacting galaxies are in the southern constellation of Eridanus (‘the River’). They are outlying members of the Fornax Cluster of galaxies. They are so close to one another that gravitational forces have distorted one of the spiral arms of the larger galaxy, NGC 1532. These forces have triggered bursts of star formation in both galaxies, but more so in NGC 1532, where a new generation of massive stars has been created. 


The surface of the sun.
"Clouds of Hydrogen Gas" Credit: Simon Tang

Clouds of hydrogen gas give way as the magnetic field lines of the sun snap and clash together. This display of nature creates astonishing features, known as prominences, on the limb of the Sun.

An image of the sun with the moon passing in the top left.
Partial Eclipse of the Sun in H-alpha Credit: Alessandro Ravagnin

A partial eclipse of the Sun shot from the Veneto region of Italy as it reached its maximum on June 10, 2021. It was a day of low solar activity, which allowed for this crisp image of the Moon passing in front of the Sun. 

The surface of the sun.
"Solar Inferno" Credit: Stuart Green

The Sun looks different every time astrophotographers capture an image as new sunspots form, grow and eventually fade away. The photographer selectively filtered out all wavelengths of light except a narrow red band (known as the H-alphaline) to reveal an active region of change of the Sun.

Stars and Nebulae

A crescent nebula photographed in space.
"The Crescent Nebula" Credit: Bray Falls

A deep view of the Crescent Nebula in Cygnus, the result of shockwaves originating from the Wolf–Rayet star WR 134.

Plumes of purple and pink stars.
"Suburbs of Carina Nebula" Credit: Ignacio Diaz Bobillo

The main object in this image is a nebula catalogued as RCW 53c and seldom captured by astrophotographers.

Layers of red-hued stars.
"The Rolling Waves of Vela" Credit: Paul Milvain

This image captures a region on the edge of the constellation Vela. The Vela Supernova Remnant is a very heavily imaged region, but this section is not commonly associated with the supernova remnant. It shows rich star colours and the strong presence of H-alpha and SII emissions.

People and Space

A stack of stones beneath a stunning starry cluster.
"Stacks and Stones" Credit: Derek Horlock

Stacking stones has had a practical use since prehistoric times, as a navigational tool to mark trails or territorial boundaries. Stacks are common on the beaches at St Agnes in the Isles of Scilly and provide an anchor for the Milky Way piercing through the night’s sky in this image.

A starry sky over the world's highest highway and mountains at night time
"The Starry Sky Over the World’s Highest National Highway" Credit: Yang Sutie

The illuminated National Highway 219, the highest national highway in the world, snakes through the foreground, almost mirroring the majestic image of the Milky Way above. The two are separated by Kula Kangri, a mountain located in Shannan Prefecture, Tibet.

An alignment of the Moon, mountain and skyline of Los Angeles
"Moonrise Over Los Angeles" Credit: Sean Goebel

An alignment of the Moon, mountain and iconic skyline of Los Angeles following a winter storm on 18 December 2021.

Harvest moon rises behind a castle
"Equinox Moon and Glastonbury Tor" Credit: Hannah Rochford

A single exposure captures people enjoying the full Harvest Moon rising behind Glastonbury Tor in the United Kingdom in September 2021. 

A river bathed in a purple light with the moon in the sky.
"Riverside of Funakawa in Spring" Credit: Takanobu Kurosaki

When the Funakawa River was renovated in 1957, approximately 280 Yoshino cherry trees were planted on both banks of the embankment. They draw the eyeline towards the distant horizon, into an inky blue sky with only the hazy moonlight breaking through the darkness.

Planets, Comets, and Asteroids

A comet with a large tail, photographed in space.
"Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard)" Credit: Lionel Majzik

Comet Leonard was discovered by G.J. Leonard on Jan. 3, 2021 and made its closest pass to Earth on Dec. 12, 2021. The photographer secured some time with the robotic telescope at the Skygems Remote Observatories in Namibia on Dec. 27 to capture this rare glimpse of a comet that will leave the solar system and not be seen again. 

Saturn's moons are distributed almost symmetrically around the planet, balancing the composition of the photograph.
"Saturn and its Moons" Credit: Flávio Fortunato

Saturn’s moons are distributed almost symmetrically around the planet, balancing the composition of the photograph. 

Jupiter captured with three of its largest moons.
"The Jovian Family" Credit: Damian Peach

Jupiter captured with three of its largest moons. The famous Great Red Spot is visible on Jupiter itself, along with many other spots and storms. Similar details are also visible on all three of the Jovian moons. The bright ray crater Osiris can be seen clearly on Ganymede at the upper left.


The Northern Lights over the famous Icelandic mountain, Vestrahorn.
"Spectrum" Credit: Stefan Liebermann

The Northern Lights over the famous Icelandic mountain, Vestrahorn. A panorama of three photos, processed with Lightroom and Photoshop.

The Northern Lights are reflected in the still waters of a lake in Alberta, Canada.
"Electric Wizardry" Credit: Shane Turgeon

The Northern Lights are reflected in the still waters of a lake in Alberta, Canada.

The Aurora Borealis above the wreck of the Gardur in the Westfjords region of Iceland. 
"An Icelandic Saga" Credit: Carl Gallagher

The photographer went on a nine-day, 2500-mile road trip, chasing gaps in the clouds, to capture the Aurora Borealis above the wreck of the Gardur in the Westfjords region of Iceland. 

A vivid auroral corona behind a wind turbine
"Solar Wind Power" Credit: Esa Pekka Isomursu

A vivid auroral corona behind the wind turbine gives the illusion of an interaction between the two, as if the turbine was driven by the solar wind or the turbine was dispersing the aurora. This was taken during a strong auroral storm in northern Finland.


An image of half of the moon, including craters and mountains.
"Fly over the South Pole" Credit: Tom Glenn

A composite of images of the lunar south pole created on two different dates (giving different views of the region). It one of the most detailed amateur-produced maps of this part of the moon, which is very difficult to observe from Earth. 

A view of the craters and mountains of the moon.
"Fly over the South Pole" Credit: Andrea Vanoni

Due to favourable libration, in this image you can see the craters and mountains at the lunar south pole, including the crater Bailly (with its discernible basin) on the right. Under Bailly are the craters Bettinus, Kircher and Wilson. The Montes Leibnitz are visible on the edge.

An inverted view of the moon's surface with blues and greens.
"Inverted Minerals" Credit: Noah Kujawski

The lunar surface, although it appears grey and monochrome, contains hidden colours within the soil, caused by different minerals. This colour is too faint to see with the naked eye, but digital images allow astrophotographers to enhance the colours and reveal a different view of the moon. This image is the inverted view of those colours, a unique perspective on our moon. 

Want more astronomy photography? Here's the best space snaps from 2021.

Posted on 4 July 2022 | 12:09 pm

British Army's YouTube and Twitter hacked to promote crypto scams

Screenshot of the British Army Twitter page rebranded as if made by The Possessed NFT collection.

The British Army faced a breach of its YouTube and Twitter accounts, as confirmed by the Army on Sunday. An investigation is now underway.

The military force's Twitter account was reportedly hacked, replaced with the name of NFT group Bapesclan with their signature cartoon monkey as a profile picture. The description was changed to "#1 metavesto clan on the ETH chain with multi-billion dollar experience. Powered by @chaintchlabs."

The hackers also made the account appear to be associated with The Possessed NFT collection, developed by PSSSSD Labs. Several links to NFT giveaways were retweeted.

A screenshot of a Twitter account of the British Army rebranded for The Possessed NFT collection.
Credit: Screenshot: Wayback Machine / Twitter

Since, the account has been restored, with all such retweets deleted. The Army account tweeted an apology, saying they will "learn from this incident".

Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab)

Meanwhile, the Army YouTube account was replaced with the account name Ark Invest, known to be a global investment firm. There is, however, no indication that said company was behind the breach.

On the YouTube account, The Verge reports, video interviews of Elon Musk talking about crypto were promoted, along with clips of old livestreams by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. These conversations took place last June, in a conference held by Ark Invest. Thousands of viewers reportedly watched the livestreams aired by the hackers. The videos included an overlay which, according to blogger Molly White, directed users to Bitcoin and Ethereum scams.

SEE ALSO: The biggest crypto scams of 2022 (so far)

PSSSSD Labs, Bapesclan, and Ark Invest have not publicly commented on the scam.

The YouTube channel had been restored, but at the time of writing, it appears the account has been "terminated for violating YouTube's Community Guidelines."

A screenshot of YouTube showing the words "british army" in the search bar and the message "This account has been terminated for violating YouTube's Community Guidelines."
Credit: Screenshot: YouTube

The account posted a video yesterday, updating the public on air and land defence, soldiers and army sport. Commenters trolled the post though, with some writing "Great crypto advice" and "Where are my NFT drops".

Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab)

The Ministry of Defence Press Office also tweeted about the breach, confirming an investigation underway.

"The Army takes information security extremely seriously and until their investigation is complete it would be inappropriate to comment further," the account's tweet reads.

Posted on 4 July 2022 | 10:24 am

Apple Watch 8 will probably come with a temperature sensor

Apple Watch 7 seen from the side.

In September 2021, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that a future Apple Watch will come with a body temperature sensor.

Now, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says the feature is probably ready for Apple Watch 8, which will likely launch this fall. According to Gurman, the feature won't give you a temperature reading, but will warn you if you get a fever. Previously, he also said the feature might be designed to help with fertility planning.

Gurman says the new Watch will likely only offer minor changes apart from the new sensor. The display might get updated on the pricier models (so, not the Apple Watch SE), but the processor is likely to stay the same as on Apple Watch 6 and 7.

The biggest upgrade in the Watch family will probably be the rumored, new rugged model. Gurman says that model will also get the body temperature sensor.

SEE ALSO: Can the Wristcam actually make the Apple Watch a good camera?

On the flip side, Gurman listed some features that probably won't make their way to Apple's new AirPods Pro this year. This includes a body temperature sensor and a heart-rate monitor. Apple has been looking into adding these features to the AirPods Pro, though, and they might get added sometime in the future, but not this year, Gurman says.

We'll know more about these new products when they get official, likely in the fall. Apple is preparing to launch an absolute onslaught of gadgets by the end of the year; check out Mashable's quick overview.

Posted on 4 July 2022 | 9:32 am

Google reportedly shared sensitive user data with sanctioned Russian company

two sets of hands hovering over a laptop keyboard. The black hands are rested on the keyboard while the white hands are on the side.

Google may have been sharing potentially sensitive user data with a sanctioned ad tech company owned by Russia's largest state bank until as recently as June 23, according to a ProPublica report. This comes just four months after the Senate Intelligence Committee warned the tech giant to stay alert for possible exploitation by Russia and Russia-linked entities following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Google allowed RuTarget, a Russian company that helps brands and agencies buy digital ads, to access and store data about people browsing websites and apps in Ukraine and other parts of the world, according to research and data from digital ad analysis firm Adalytics. Its findings showed close to 700 instances of RuTarget receiving user data from Google despite the ad tech company being added to the U.S. Treasury's list of sanctioned entities on Feb. 24. According to ProPublica, the data sharing between the two wouldn't stop until June 23, the day the publication reached out to Google for comment.

RuTarget is owned by Sberbank, a Russian state bank that, according to the Treasury and ProPublica, is "uniquely important" to the country's economy. On April 6, Sberbank was added to the U.S. Treasury's list of Russian entities and people imposed with full blocking sanctions.

SEE ALSO: Google will automatically delete visits to abortion clinics from your location history

The analysis showed that Google shared data about users browsing websites based in Ukraine. This is of concern because critical information such as unique mobile phone IDs, IP addresses, location information, and details about users’ interests and online activity could be used by the Russian government to track people or locations of interest.

A Google spokesperson told ProPublica that the company had blocked RuTarget from using its services back in March. However, Google did acknowledge that user and ad buying data from Google was still being received before being alerted by ProPublica and Adalytics. Google did not immediately respond to Mashable's request for comment.

One of the biggest concerns from the findings and from legislators is the data from global internet users that gets passed around to companies within the digital ad buying process. This treasure trove of user data, called bidstream data, is used as part of a half a trillion dollar digital ad industry that is dominated by Google, ProPublica says.

ProPublica says that this data is auctioned off in real-time when users visit a site, whereupon entering "within milliseconds, data collected about this user is shared with potential ad buyers to help them decide whether to bid to show an ad to the user." Ad buying companies like RuTarget, regardless if they bid or not, can receive and store this bidstream data. And since Google operates the world's largest ad-buying exchange, the more RuTarget connects with ad exchanges like Google's, the more data and information it can collect.

The findings of the relationship between RuTarget and Google come at a time of increased scrutiny of tech companies from legislators concerned with how tech companies are handling our personal data.

The user data shared by Google to RuTarget and other ad buyers comes from millions of websites and apps that rely on the company for advertising revenue, ProPublica added. Most notably, information from major publishers like ESPN and Reuters was accessible to RuTarget "as a recipient of user data in cookie consent popups shown to users browsing their sites from the EU and other jurisdictions with data privacy laws requiring such disclosures."

ProPublica and Adalytics findings are troubling, to say the least. The average consumer probably wouldn't like the idea that up until a few weeks ago their information was being shared with a sanctioned Russian ad company. At the time of this writing, Google is currently in the midst of a class-action lawsuit that alleges the company "does not tell Account Holders which companies are bidding on, and therefore accessing, their personal information."

Posted on 4 July 2022 | 9:16 am

The solution to this puzzle is a QR code that could win you up to $1 million

Hands putting together puzzle of QR code

TL;DR: As of July 4, a four-pack of The 2 Million Dollar Puzzle is on sale for $80 (with the code JULY20) instead of $120, making it 33% off.

If you’re going to have a wine and puzzle kind of night, it might as well be with a puzzle that wins you money. With MSCHF’s 2 Million Dollar Puzzle, you can put the pieces together, snap a picture of the result (hint: it’s a QR code), and find out your prize. If you’re one of two lucky winners, you’ll make out with $1 million from a single night in.

What if you don’t win $1 million? Glad you asked. Every single person who completes the puzzle wins something. It could be $1, $100, $10,000, $500,000, or something in between. All winnings are between $1 and $1 million, but there can only be two grand prize winners.

You’ll be paid within four days via a digital check, which you’ll receive at the email address you ordered with. You can print it or deposit it directly via mobile banking. You can also have a printed check mailed to you, if you prefer to delay gratification for whatever reason.

We featured the 2 Million Dollar Puzzle when it first launched, but now we’re in the thick of it — and you can save on a four-pack of puzzles with this July Fourth deal. Through July 5, use the code JULY20 (for all purchases $100 or more sitewide) at checkout and pick up a four-pack for only $80 — that’s 33% in savings and four separate chances to win big. Hurry and snatch it up while you can!

The game goes until January 10, 2024 or when the supply of codes is depleted. If you don’t end up being the grand prize winner, you’ll still have a fun night of puzzling. And if you do, you’ll basically be buying $1 million for only $80.

Prices subject to change.

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Posted on 4 July 2022 | 9:00 am

Save on subscriptions to Matt’s Flights, Rosetta Stone, and more for July Fourth

Hands packing passport into open suitcase

TL;DR: As of July 4, this World Traveler Bundle ft. Rosetta Stone Lifetime Subscription, worth $1,784, is on sale for just $159.20 with the code JULY20, aka 91% off.

If you want your travel experience to be easy and breezy, you should learn the language of the country you’re traveling to. It’s more respectful, makes getting around much easier, and can definitely eliminate some frustration. You should also sign up for a discount flight finder. The less you pay for your flight, the more money you’ll have in your pocket for spending — and the less stressed you’ll be about going over budget.

You can check off those boxes and more with the World Traveler Bundle, which features lifetime access to Rosetta Stone, a three-year subscription to Matt’s Flights, and 13 hours of travel hacks and other travel-related content. A Rosetta Stone subscription alone is usually $299, but for a limited time, you can use the code JULY20 to knock the price of the entire bundle down to $159.20.

With a lifetime subscription to language learning app Rosetta Stone, you’ll have unlimited access to all two dozen different languages the program has to offer. You can learn any of them at your own pace and on your own time through interactive lessons, immersive training methods, mini quizzes, proprietary speech-recognition technology, and more. Our friends at PCMag (which is owned by Mashable’s publisher, Ziff Davis) gave it the coveted Editors’ Choice Award for five years in a row.

Next up in the bundle, a three-year premium subscription to Matt’s Flights will connect you to cheap flight deals due to airline mistakes or just super exclusive sales. You’ll get instant access to all of Matt’s best deals, plus one-on-one flight and travel planning support from Matt himself, 24/7.

Finally, there’s a 13-hour collection of travel hacks to prepare you for traveling the world. You’ll get content on how to find cheap flights, how to take the best travel photos, how to become a digital nomad, and more.

It’s worth well over $1,000, but from now until July 5, you can use the code JULY20 to get the whole bundle for $159.20.

Prices subject to change.

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Posted on 4 July 2022 | 8:31 am

Get the full picture of Excel with this huge set of courses on sale

Person looking at computer showing spreadsheet

TL;DR: As of July 4, you can get The 2022 Complete Microsoft Excel Expert Bundle — worth $4,788 — for just $34.99, which amounts to savings of 99%.

If you’re spending any time in the professional world, you’re probably going to have to learn to use Excel. Becoming familiar with tools like Excel isn’t just learning one software for one workplace. Like Word, Excel is a multi-functional tool you can put to a wide variety of uses, just as long as you know how.

Whether you’re learning for a job or by your own motivation, The 2022 Complete Microsoft Excel Expert Bundle can help you get started and possibly carry you all the way to the master level. Normally, The 2022 Complete Microsoft Excel Expert Bundle would cost you $4788, but for a limited time, it’s on sale for $34.99. 

Even if you’ve switched fields recently, one of the things that probably stayed the same is a requirement of some basic Excel skills. That’s where this bundle starts, with “Microsoft Excel 2021/365: Beginners Course” as an entry point that it quickly moves beyond. 

From there, dive into some more advanced Excel functions and commands. After that, you can start learning some of the tools that ultimately lead to using Excel as a way to automate simple, repetitive tasks. If any significant portion of your job requires finding information and entering data, “Macros & VBA for Beginners” and “VBA for Beginners” may have some exciting information for you. 

This bundle packs more than 70 hours of Excel instruction into one self-paced package. It may be intimidating at first, but setting your own pace and sticking to it can actually be better for your learning than a traditionally-structured class. 

Usually The 2022 Complete Microsoft Excel Expert Bundle costs $4788, but for a limited time it’s on sale for $34.99.

Prices subject to change.

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Posted on 4 July 2022 | 8:28 am

A refurbished 2012 MacBook Air on sale for just a fifth of its original retail price

Silver macbook air seen from back

TL;DR: As of July 4, this refurbished Apple MacBook Air 13.3” Core i5, 1.8GHz 4GB RAM 128GB SSD is on sale for just $246.39 with the code JULY20, aka 83% off its original price of $1,499.

If you want the Apple logo without the Apple price tag, buying refurbished is your best bet. For those who just need a computer that can keep up with everyday tasks, consider a refurbished MacBook Air from 2012. Sure, it’s a decade old, but it’ll only cost you $246.39 with the code JULY20 — a price that compares to the entry-level Chromebooks or basic tablets.

The model in question features a 13.3-inch widescreen display, a 1.8GHz Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of SSD storage. Fresh off the shelf in 2012, it would’ve cost you $1,199. A decade later, it’ll only cost you a fifth of that.

The 2012 MacBook Air weighs in at just under 3 pounds so it won’t weigh you down like, say, the MacBook Pro from the same year. It also has an integrated 720p FaceTime HD camera, which is the same as the 2021 MacBook Air. Yes, Apple went a decade before deciding to upgrade the FaceTime camera. The 2012 model also includes two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot, a Thunderbolt port, and Bluetooth 4.0. Not too shabby for an obsolete laptop (Apple declared MacBook Airs earlier than 2014 obsolete).

If your computer time is spent simply browsing the web, writing up documents, answering emails, and streaming the latest series on Netflix or HBO Max, this old-school MacBook Air should treat you well. If you’re hoping for a device that can power Photoshop or Premiere Pro, this is not your pal.

Snatch up the refurbished laptop for only $246.39 with the code JULY20 for a limited time. That’s 80% in savings from its original retail cost and 50% less than its estimated current retail value. This deal ends July 5, though, so act fast.

Prices subject to change.

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Posted on 4 July 2022 | 8:26 am

Everything you need to go hiking with your dog

Black and white dog in nature wearing a low-profile black harness

Now that the weather is warm, folks are flocking to the outdoors. Between visiting a national park, state parks, and local trails, there are tons of places to get out and enjoy nature. If you're a pet owner, hiking with a dog is a great way to get some exercise in for both you and your furry friend.

But before we can say happy trails to you and your pups, read up on some common pre-hike precautions to take, and learn more about the best dog hiking gear we've tested and approved ahead of your next outdoor adventure.

How to go hiking with your dog

  1. Check the trail or park website for dog restrictions. Many national and state parks have strict rules on where dogs can be. Some only allow pups on paved roads, in campsites or in parking lots, while others have designated trails that dogs can be on. Trails that allow dogs usually have a six foot leash rule, so don't show up without a lead or with a long line, even if your pup is trained.

  2. Check the weather and prepare accordingly. If it's going to be over 85 degrees Fahrenheit, plan to bring dog boots. The ground gets significantly hotter than the air temperature, so your pup can burn their paws on almost any surface — even dirt — during the summer months. You'll also want to pack enough water for you and your pup to stay hydrated, and bring sunscreen for both of you if you'll be in direct sun. Dogs can get sunburn too!

  3. Bring plenty of water, treats, and food if you'll be out for a long time. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but be sure to bring plenty of dog treats, food, and water to keep your hiking buddy going for the full hike.

  4. Get your dog accustomed to their gear ahead of time. If you'll be using boots, a new harness, or a dog backpack, make sure you get your dog used to their gear in the weeks leading up to your hike. Practice positive association games with tasty treats so they learn to love their boots and backpack.

  5. Start out slow. If your dog has never hiked before, plan to do an easy, short hike for your first go. You'll be able to build up length and difficulty the more you hike together, but don't go too hard the first time, or you might end up carrying a tired pup back to the car.

SEE ALSO: The best camping gear for dogs: We've tried (and loved) these 8 products

Does my dog need boots to go hiking?

As we noted in our Best Camping Gear for Dogs roundup, your pooch doesn't need boots to head out on the trail, but they can help greatly reduce the risk of paw injuries and help with traction on slippery sections of the hike. For dog owners who want to hike during the summer, remember that if the air temperature is over 85 degrees Fahrenheit, most surfaces, even dirt, will be too hot for your dog's paw pads. Hot ground temperatures can cause blisters on dog's paws if exposed for too long, so play it safe and opt for a pair of dog boots.

A pair of boots will also protect from paw injuries that are common for outdoorsy dogs. Pups can rip paw pads, step on sharp sticks, rocks, or stray glass, and can even break their nails while hiking, so protecting their feet with boots will save you the stress of dealing with a paw injury later on.

Don't plan on busting out the dog boots for the first time before a long hike, though. Not all dogs take to boots quickly, and your pup may refuse to walk or try to take their boots off the first time you try them out. Practice wearing the boots in the weeks leading up to your first outdoor outing, and be sure to bribe, I mean, desensitize your dog to boots with lots of tasty snacks.

Leave no trace when hiking with a dog

This might be a no-brainer, but adhering to leave no trace principles is of utmost importance when you're in the outdoors with a dog. Every dog owner needs to remember that dogs can disrupt the natural flow of nature, so be sure to pick up any dog poop, keep your pup away from wildlife, and don't allow them to dig anywhere on the trail. Following leave no trace and being a responsible pet owner keeps outdoor recreation spots beautiful and accessible for future generations of pets and hikers.

How we came up with this list

As an avid hiker, Miso (that's my dog) helped me test every single piece of dog hiking gear in our list of the best hiking gear for dogs. Read on to get our gear review for each and see what we have loved the most after hitting the trail again and again:

Posted on 4 July 2022 | 8:07 am

John Oliver has several theories about Texas' creepy beach dolls

John Oliver at his desk with a caption reading

Over the years, John Oliver's Last Week Tonight deep dives have helped to educate us about the everyday horrors of our world, from voter suppression to ransomware and predatory "ministries" taking advantage of the dire state of the U.S. healthcare industry. But somehow, he has judged this "the worst thing [he has] ever seen".

In a web-only segment, a horrified Oliver introduces his audience to South Texas' most nightmare-inducing beach trash: the dozens of semi-intact dolls, doll heads, and other doll parts that wash up on the shore with alarming regularity, empty features worn blank by the waves and orifices occupied by malignant colonies of sea life. Featured players include Oliver's "personal enemy, Barnacle Baby", one he's named Anthony, and a doll that he points out is quite clearly a sex doll, judging by its carnival-clown-like mouth opening: "That doll is different than the others in a meaningful, practical way!"

Of course, like any eerie phenomenon in this age of constant information, there's a helpful scientific explanation for why this keeps happening. And of course, it doesn't mollify Oliver one bit, and he descends into doll-inspired madness brainstorming how the cursed coastal debris can be removed from this plane of existence.

"Do we need to break some kind of curse? That would make sense," he rants. "Is there a special volcano we have to throw them into?" There's also a complex theory about the ghost of a Victorian child with the Devil in her heart, haunting the waters of the Gulf. And frankly, given the inconceivable scope of the many, many problems facing American society right now, exorcising a 400-mile-long swathe of the Gulf Coast of sinister toys sounds perfectly doable at this point.

Posted on 4 July 2022 | 6:53 am

Save 92% on lifetime access to this stacked online course bundle for students

Man sitting at desk

TL;DR: The 2022 Perfect Score Academic Success Master Class Bundle is on sale for £40.36, saving you 92% on list price.

Whether you took a semester or two off or you’re headed back to school after a decade, it can be tough to get back in the swing of things. From time management to effective study habits, a little refresher on ways to put your best foot forward couldn’t hurt. And this Academic Success MasterClass Package — which happens to be on sale for just £40.36 — is packed with helpful strategies.

The MasterClass Package includes five HD video courses taught by Dr. Shaan Patel, MD MBA, of Prep Expert, a Shark Tank and Mark Cuban company that specializes in SAT and ACT prep. Patel actually achieved a perfect SAT score himself after implementing many of the strategies taught in these courses. While you may not be in line to take the SATs or ACTs, the strategies taught in these courses can certainly still help you achieve top grades, test scores, and academic performance.

The five video courses cover improving time management, increasing productivity, studying effectively, acing standardised tests, and succeeding in university courses in general. Dr. Patel covers 100 academic strategies that have helped some 50,000 students accelerate in their academic career. He also covers how he applied each strategy to his own life for concrete examples, and how you can apply them through easy practice exercises. 

With this limited-time deal, you’ll get lifetime access to all five courses, which includes 100 lessons and about 30 hours of content. That means you can work through them on your own schedule on either desktop or mobile. There are no strict assignments or deadlines to follow, but you might want to try to get through it all before heading back to school. It’s just £40.36 for the whole package.

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Posted on 4 July 2022 | 4:00 am

Microsoft warns of dangers from toll fraud malware on Android devices

this photo shows a cellphone but the numbers to call are obscured by question marks

Android users are being attacked by malware that unwittingly purchases premium subscription services that they did not want or sign up for, according to a blog from Microsoft Security.

In a report from Microsoft researchers Dimitrios Valsamaras and Sang Shin Jung, the pair detailed the continuing evolution of "toll fraud malware" and the ways it attacks Android users and their devices. According to the team, toll fraud malware falls under the subcategory of billing fraud "in which malicious applications subscribe users to premium services without their knowledge or consent" and "is one of the most prevalent types of Android malware."

Toll fraud works over the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), which allows consumers to subscribe to paid content and add the charge to their phone bill. Because this attack relies on a cellular network to do the dirty business, the malware might disconnect you from Wi-Fi or use other means to force you onto your cellular network. While connecting to the cellular network the malware will start subscribing to premium services while also hiding any one-time passwords (OTP) sent to verify your identity. This is to keep targets in the dark so that they don't unsubscribe.

The evolution of toll fraud malware from its dial-up days presents a dangerous threat, researchers warn. The malware can lead to victims receiving significant mobile bill charges. Additionally, affected devices also have increased risk because the malware is able to evade detection and can achieve a high number of installations before a single variant can be removed.

How does this malware even end up on my device in the first place?

This type of attack starts when a user downloads whatever app the malware is disguised as in the Google Play Store. These trojan apps will usually be listed in popular categories in the app store such as personalization (wallpaper and lock screen apps), beauty, editor, communication (messaging and chat apps), photography, and tools (like cleaner and fake antivirus apps). The researchers say that these apps will ask for permissions that don't make sense for what is being done (i.e. a camera or wallpaper app asking for SMS or notification listening privileges).

The purpose of these apps is to be downloaded by as many people as possible. Valsamaras and Shin Jung identified some common ways in which attackers will try to keep their app on the Google Play Store:

  1. Upload clean versions until the application gets a sufficient number of installs.

  2. Update the application to dynamically load malicious code.

  3. Separate the malicious flow from the uploaded application to remain undetected for as long as possible.

What can I do to protect against malware?

Valsamaras and Shin Jung say that potential malware in the Google Play Store has common characteristics one can look for before downloading an app. As stated above some apps will ask for excessive permissions for programs that don't require such privileges. Other characteristics to be on the lookout for are apps with similar UIs or icons, developer profiles that look fake or have poor grammar, and if the app has a slew of bad reviews.

If you believe you've already downloaded a potential malware app, some common signs include rapid battery drain, connectivity issues, overheating constantly, or if the device is running much slower than normal.

The pair also warned of not sideloading any apps that you can't get officially in the Google Play Store, as this can increase the risk of infection. Their findings showed that toll fraud malware accounted for 34.8% of installed "Potentially Harmful Application" (PHA) from the Google Play Store in the first quarter of 2022, second only to spyware.

According to a Google transparency report, it says that most of the installations originated from India, Russia, Mexico, Indonesia, and Turkey.

Posted on 3 July 2022 | 8:47 pm

Google Password Manager just got an update

A person at a computer with a spotlight on them.

If you're terrible at making your passwords the correct strength, and then even worse at remembering them once you do, Google Password Manager just updated a lot of its services for you.

You've been able to use Google Password Manager's auto-fill option on the Chrome browser, which allows the browser to remember your passwords for all the sites you visit, for some time now. And Google Password Manager has also been able to create unique, strong passwords for you online, too. 

But now, the platform has been updated so you can also add passwords directly to the app, the company said in a blog post. Previously, you could only add passwords to Google Password Manager when Google prompted you to as you entered your password and are logging into a new site; now, you can manually add passwords at any time.

The update has also made the app a bit easier for Android users, who can create a shortcut on their home screen to instantly launch Google Password Manager. For iOS users, you can use your iPhone to generate passwords for your apps when you set Chrome as your default autofill provider.

According to Google's blog post, the features were developed at the Google Safety Engineering Center, in which privacy and security experts look into all of their work. "Of course, our efforts to create a safer web are a truly global effort – from our early work on 2-step verification to our future investments in technologies like passkeys – and these updates that we are rolling out over the next months are an important part of that work," the blog stated.

Posted on 3 July 2022 | 6:45 pm

Researchers are using AI to predict crime, again

Police sirens

Scientists are looking for a way to predict crime using, you guessed it, artificial intelligence.

There are loads of studies that show using AI to predict crime results in consistently racist outcomes. For instance, one AI crime prediction model that the Chicago Police Department tried out in 2016 tried to get rid of its racist biases but had the opposite effect. It used a model to predict who might be most at risk of being involved in a shooting, but 56% of 20-29 year old Black men in the city appeared on the list.

Despite it all, scientists are still trying to use the tool to find out when, and where, crime might occur. And this time, they say it's different.

Researchers at the University of Chicago used an AI model to analyze historical crime data from 2014 to 2016 as a way to predict crime levels for the following weeks in the city. The model predicted the likelihood of crimes across the city a week in advance with nearly 90 percent accuracy; it had a similar level of success in seven other major U.S. cities. 

This study, which was published in Nature Human Behavior, not only attempted to predict crime, but also allowed the researchers to look at the response to crime patterns.

Co-author and professor James Evans told Science Daily that the research allows them "to ask novel questions, and lets us evaluate police action in new ways." Ishanu Chattopadhyay, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago, told Insider that their model found that crimes in higher-income neighborhoods resulted in more arrests than crimes in lower-income neighborhoods do, suggesting some bias in police responses to crime.

"Such predictions enable us to study perturbations of crime patterns that suggest that the response to increased crime is biased by neighborhood socio-economic status, draining policy resources from socio-economically disadvantaged areas, as demonstrated in eight major U.S. cities," according to the report.

Chattopadhyay told Science Daily that the research found that when "you stress the system, it requires more resources to arrest more people in response to crime in a wealthy area and draws police resources away from lower socioeconomic status areas."

Chattopadhyay also told the New Scientist that, while the data used by his model might also be biased, the researchers have worked to reduce that effect by not identifying suspects, and, instead, only identifying sites of crime.

But there's still some concern about racism within this AI research. Lawrence Sherman from the Cambridge Center for Evidence-Based Policing told the New Scientist that because of the way crimes are recorded — either because people call the police or because the police go looking for crimes — the whole system of data is susceptible to bias. "It could be reflecting intentional discrimination by police in certain areas,” he told the news outlet.

All the while, Chattopadhyay told Insider he hopes the AI's predictions will be used to inform policy, not directly to inform police.

"Ideally, if you can predict or pre-empt crime, the only response is not to send more officers or flood a particular community with law enforcement," Chattopadhyay told the news outlet. "If you could preempt crime, there are a host of other things that we could do to prevent such things from actually happening so no one goes to jail, and helps communities as a whole."

Posted on 3 July 2022 | 5:11 pm

Instagram might make you post Reels instead of videos soon

Instagram Reels upload illustration

I hope you like Instagram Reels, because it looks like Instagram videos are out, and Reels are in.

After essentially copying TikTok's short video format, Instagram is taking another bold step towards becoming the app it appears to admire so much. The company is reportedly considering turning all of its videos into Reels. If this decision goes through, you won't be able to post a casual video of, say, your cat snoozing, on your grid anymore: you'll have to make it a Reel instead.

This might seem like no big deal, because, after all, there aren't a ton of differences between Instagram Reels and Instagram videos. The main differences are that creators have access to a music library, editing tools, and more filters on Reels than they do on videos, they can use audio from other creators in Reels but not in normal videos, and they can create a "remix" on Reels, which you can't do on regular Instagram video. Remix is a feature that also copies TikTok's Duet function, which lets creators make their own Reel directly next to a Reel that already exists. Basically, it reads like Instagram wants you to stop posting videos altogether — and start posting Reels instead. Reels are also more discoverable than regular videos, thanks to the good ol' Reels discover page on Instagram.

Social media consultant Matt Navarra posted a screenshot on Thursday that Instagram is testing the feature with some users. When they go to upload a video post, users are told that "video posts are now shared as Reels."

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On Twitter user, senior news reporter for VICE World News Sophia Smith Galer, pointed out that this will be tough for videos that are uploaded in a horizontal or square format — how will that look on the Reels page? Will it cut the video off on the sides, will it do that terrible blurring effect to keep it on your screen, or will it just black out the edges? And another user wondered if that means all videos will be kept to a 90-second time limit. Instagram did not immediately respond to Mashable's request for comment, but a representative told TechCrunch that the company is "testing this feature as part of our efforts to simplify and improve the video experience on Instagram."

Posted on 3 July 2022 | 2:56 pm

Recharge at your tailgate setup with this deluxe solar-powered generator

Four solar panels connected to grey and blue power generator

TL;DR: As of July 3, you can get the Generark Solar Generator: HomePower ONE + SolarPower ONE for just $1199.20 with code JULY20, which will get you 37% off its regular price of $1,897.

You may not be able to predict when your home could lose power in a disaster, but you can certainly be prepared for it. Whether it’s a sudden storm or a poorly timed blackout, you can keep your own power source on standby with the Generark Solar Generator.

This portable solar-powered generator can run your electronics, small appliances, and medical devices for up to seven days on a single charge, and during this July Fourth sale, it’s only $1199.20 (down from $1897) with code JULY20 on purchases of $100 or more. 

After Hurricane Sandy, it took around 13 days for power to be restored to 95% of residents in New York. That’s a long time without your phone, medical devices, and a hot meal. The Generark is a compact generator that only relies on the sun to recharge, though it can also get power from your car or an AC outlet. 

With this little generator, you get three AC outlets, two USB-C ports, two USB-A ports, and a car outlet. That’s enough to plug in some small appliances for cooking, your phone to stay connected, and a few other amenities that can keep you comfortable while power is restored. 

You also aren’t limited to using the Generark in a disaster. It has a handle designed for easy transport, and even the SolarPower ONE Solar Panel folds up for quick transport. It only takes 30 seconds to set up the solar panel and the monocrystalline solar cell is up to 50% more efficient than its polycrystalline cousins and can help keep you with power even when you’re off the grid. Take it camping, or it could be the star at your next tailgate. 

Through July 5, the Generark Solar Generator: HomePower ONE + SolarPower ONE is only $1,199.20 (down from $1,897) with code JULY20

Prices subject to change. 

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Posted on 3 July 2022 | 9:00 am

Make every second count with this medical alert smartwatch

Smiling person on exercise machine wearing black smartwatch

TL;DR: As of July 3, the LutiBand Smartwatch medical alert device is on sale for just $99.99, which is 41% less than its usual price of $169.95.

Modern medical alert devices can do a lot more than tell you when your loved one has fallen, especially when it’s paired with some of the standard technology in a smartwatch. The LutiBand Smartwatch, called by its creators “the next generation of medical alert devices,” puts the connectivity and analytics of a smartwatch to work to help keep your loved one safe. Normally $169, the LutiBand Smartwatch is on sale for a limited time at only $99.99. 

The LutiBand is an intuitive answer to a lot of common health concerns for loved ones you can’t always be near. The location tracker connects to a mobile application so you can view where the wearer is at all times. If they move beyond a pre-set perimeter, you can arrange a notification.

You can even check the wearer’s location against their history. The LutiBand keeps locations from the last 30 days on file in case of an emergency. If you aren’t available to check up on the wearer, you can also share location information with someone else so they can do a checkup for you. 

More than one third of adults 65+ will fall each year. If your loved one falls while wearing the LutiBand or has any other emergency, their smartwatch can call emergency services directly and have them come to the wearer’s location. You can even set the LutiBand to automatically call EMS if it detects a fall. 

Once a day, the LutiBand uses its biometric sensors to scan the wearer’s vitals. It checks for heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen, and body temperature. If the wearer calls for help, it will do another scan to have that information on hand when emergency workers get to the scene, and it can even store the patient’s medical information. 

The LutiBand also performs most other functions common to a smartwatch. Send and receive texts, make calls, and track your loved one’s fitness with this comfortable wearable. 

Normally $169, for a limited time the Lutiband Smartwatch is on sale for $99.99. 

Prices subject to change.

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Posted on 3 July 2022 | 9:00 am

Snag a new-to-you iPad mini during Fourth of July weekend

iPad on home screen next to box

TL;DR: As of July 3, you can get a refurbished Apple iPad mini 4, 128GB for just $231.99 with the code JULY20. That's 68% off its regular price of $729.

New devices are nice, and removing them from the box for the first time is a pleasant experience. However, when you can get a refurbished device minus the brand-new price tag... that's tempting, too.

This refurbished Apple iPad mini 4 may have a few years under its belt, but it is on sale through July 5 for only $231.99 when you use the code JULY20.

Refurbished to a “B” grade, this iPad mini might have a few light scratches or dents, but it still gets the job done. It comes with features including the Apple A8 chip, an 8MP iSight camera, and a 1.2MP front-facing camera. You'll also get plenty of operating time with its 10-hour battery life. 

Eight inches long and a little over five inches wide, this thing is designed to be incredibly portable considering how much power it packs. Connect a Bluetooth keyboard to it and you’ve got a tiny mobile workstation. 

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Posted on 3 July 2022 | 9:00 am

Show off that smile with this water flosser and electric toothbrush combo on sale

Black electric toothbrush and sonic flosser with replacement heads and carrying case

TL;DR: As of July 3, the Mouth Armor Sonic Toothbrush with Cordless Water Flosser and Travel Case are on sale for just $69.95, which is 74% off their regular price of $279.

Teeth don’t really do second chances. If you get lax or lazy taking care of your teeth, you’re going to feel it when you’re older. In fact, 80% of Americans wish they’d taken better care of their teeth when they were younger.

You’re as young as you’re ever going to be, so give the Mouth Armor Sonic Toothbrush with Cordless Water Flosser and Travel Case a try. This combination water flosser and electric toothbrush is on sale for $69.95. 

You'll get a whole oral care kit, the stars of which are the water flosser and sonic toothbrush. The water flosser has three adjustable water pressures and four flosser tips to direct water into nooks and crannies.

Water flossing can get messy, so the cordless Water Flosser is completely waterproof and safe for use in the shower. You might even find it relaxing!

The Sonic Toothbrush is a battery-powered toothbrush that can run for roughly six weeks on a single charge. Its built-in two-minute timer times your brush in 30-second intervals, and it tells you when it’s time to move on to a new section. Plus, you'll get some extra toothbrush heads and a carrying case.

Electric toothbrush and flosser with replacement heads, charger, and carrying case
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Posted on 3 July 2022 | 9:00 am

Save big on a pack of CompTIA courses this weekend

Person looking at computer screen next to a+ certification

TL;DR: As of July 3, you can get The Complete 2022 CompTIA Certification Course Super Bundle for just $59.99.

Looking for a way to cure your summertime boredom? Consider getting CompTIA-certified. And with the Complete 2022 CompTIA Certification Super Bundle, you can get started for only $59.99.

The Complete 2022 CompTIA Certification Bundle offers 15 courses and over 500 hours of lessons on IT basics, networks, cloud, security, and more to help prepare you for a variety of CompTIA exams. It’s brought to you by iCollege, an e-learning marketplace under the parent company XpertSkills — an official CompTIA partner. You’ll even get lifetime access to all 15 courses, so you can work through them at a pace that makes sense to you.

With over 500 hours of IT training included, you’ll have plenty of content to keep you busy this summer. You may even be ready to take some of the exams before fall rolls around.

Get the whole pack of 15 courses for only $59.99 — that’s just $3.99 per course.

Prices subject to change.

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Posted on 3 July 2022 | 9:00 am

A surveillance blimp always hung above my border town. This is what it taught me.

Aerostat is tethered high above the Huachuca Mountains with bright orange reflection from the setting sun.

For those who reside under the dry Arizona heat in the small border town of Sierra Vista between Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, the white surveillance blimp never gives us any respite from the sun. Instead, it serves as a constant reminder: You are being watched. 

The blimp rises into the sky before residents wake up and typically dips back down to its asphalt landing before sundown, commanded by a crew of people entirely on land. It floats about 25,000 feet in the air — the length of 700-some school buses or about 69 football fields — and is primarily used to detect low-altitude aircraft. The only time it isn't in the sky is when it's too windy for the tether to hold the blimp. When I asked one of my brothers to describe what it looks like, he described it as a nearly 200-foot-long "white cross between a dart and a Vienna sausage" or "a lil sky chode."

The Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) flies over the Fort Huachuca military base in Sierra Vista, which specializes in unmanned aircraft systems, military intelligence, and cyber security. The TARS provides low-level radar surveillance for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection along the U.S.-Mexico border. There are other military bases close to the border that don’t have a TARS, but there are U.S. TARS systems that float above the Straits of Florida and the Caribbean. While data is shared with many agencies, the U.S. Department of Defense is responsible for the lil sky chode. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations, there are eight TARS sites, which "represent less than 2 percent of the total integrated radars in the Air and Marine Operations Surveillance System," but account for about half "of all suspect targets detected by radar each year." The goal — to keep watch over the border — hasn’t been hidden from the residents of Sierra Vista or concealed with secrecy, but is, instead, draped with a thin veil of classic American propaganda. 

TARS rests on its ground mooring just after sunset
Here the TARS sits, ready to rest for the night Credit: Getty images

"This blimp keeps you safe," U.S. agents would tell kindergarteners on school field trips to the surveillance machine. I went on that tour in 2001, eyes alight with curiosity over what we often called the "white goldfish." Some older kids called it the "spy balloon" or "anti-drug balloon," so we always knew it was there for surveillance. It was a frequent character in our games of pretend — if you were hiding, you'd have to also hide from the blimp because it could spot you, too. If it was ever in the sky at night — which was rare — you could detect it by the three red blinking lights, but instead of thinking those lights indicated the blimp itself, we'd debate what kind of UFO was camouflaged.

The ever-present eyes of the border patrol are a staple of life in a border town, in a myriad of ways beyond just the blimp. The majority of my hometown is white (about half) and Hispanic (about a quarter), while the population of Asian and Black people in Sierra Vista is 4.46 percent and 6.91 percent, respectively. You know you're being watched or being kept safe, depending on which way your immigration status or skin color allows you to view it.

You can tell the white goldfish was built in 1986. It feels like such a retro form of surveillance. You see it directly above your head almost every day of the year, which contrasts blatantly with other tools used to surveil border towns today. Facial recognition technology, hidden underground sensors, and license plate readers blend into the surroundings and don’t appear particularly threatening, even as they make wildly invasive and scary moves using our data and likeness. Like the 160-foot-tall autonomous surveillance towers built in 2018 that pierce the sky every 48 feet along the border, and the U.S. Border Patrol's immigration checkpoint we’d have to drive through to get from Sierra Vista to Tucson, where we’d go back-to-school shopping or see specialized doctors or buy snacks from Trader Joe’s, TARS didn’t try to hide its efforts to spy. And maybe that was on purpose. Maybe the government wants us to know they're watching. 

I don't remember everything they told us on the field trip to the blimp, for which the TARS was brought down to the asphalt landing so kindergarteners could tour it and its surrounding control systems. I remember my mom was a chaperone and gave me and my best friend bubble gum on the bus, even though our teacher said we couldn't have bubble gum on the bus. That was very exciting. I remember the blimp was dark inside, which makes sense because no one is on board when it’s in the sky. It had wires and buttons and mechanical workings throughout, like what I would imagine the control room of a spaceship would be. I remember the man who showed us around was tall and skinny and wore a button-down shirt. He was white and looked more like a flight attendant than an immigration officer, which made sense to me because, to a kid, the blimp seemed more like a plane than a piece of surveillance tech. And I remember how bright it was outside when we left the blimp. The light hurt my eyes — it felt painful and bland, like walking out of a movie theater from an 11 a.m. showing.

My class was not the first gaggle of 5-year-olds who walked through the blimp, nor were we the last. When I spoke to a representative from my school district for this story, she said she didn't know how many classes had gone on the trip, but she knew it was more than just my own. There were no class trips during COVID, of course, so there hadn't been a visit to the blimp since at least before 2020. And despite the blimp's intent to watch us closely, no one keeps track of who visits it. A surveillance blimp in Sierra Vista isn’t a spectacular showing of technology, but an image deliberately intertwined with the fabric of border-town life.

When I asked U.S. Customs and Border Protection why they'd take kids who lived in a border town, many of whom were brown, some of whom were undocumented, and nearly all of whom knew someone who was, on a tour of a blimp built to watch them, I learned that when I was 5 years old, The Department of Defense was in charge of the program. But he added something along the lines of: "Hey, it's a blimp. That's interesting! Kids want to know about it!"

And, I've got to give it to him, that's true. I did want to know what it was for, and I don't recall whether the officers informed us that they were surveilling the town — it was more like telling us they were catching bad guys. Which feels good to kids, until they realize that the "bad guys" people supposedly need protection from are often those same kids’ family members, or even themselves. 

The surveillance blimp (TARS) as seen from my parents' back yard
A photo of the blimp on June 30, 2020 that my mom sent me and I very carefully edited (blimp is inside the big red circle) Credit: Tori Silva

While brown and undocumented kindergarteners might not recognize that the blimp is a tool of surveillance, as they grow older and learn the specifics of how the TARS works, it becomes a "visual reminder that they are being watched because the government does not trust people who look like them and that there is criminality associated with who they are," Dr. Nadine Nakamura, a professor at the California School of Professional Psychology, told me. 

"Whether the kids and their families are documented or not, U.S. citizens or not, they will be under suspicion because of how they look,” she said. Further, "Discriminatory environments have negative mental health impacts."

A 2008 study from the National Library of Medicine showed that perceived discrimination has been linked to hypertension, breast cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, and substance abuse. And researchers at UCLA found that when people are chronically treated differently, unfairly, or poorly, "it can have effects ranging from low self-esteem to a higher risk for developing stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression." 

Arizona already has laws that actively invite racial profiling, like SB 1070, which "requires police officers in Arizona to demand papers proving citizenship or immigration status from people whom they stop, based only on some undefined 'reasonable suspicion' that they are in the country unlawfully," according to the ACLU. Racism is a predominant function of the West. It has shaped Arizona into the place it is; one that gained statehood by colonizing Mexico and led to the rise of the "patriarch of xenophobes" like Joe Arpaio. The blimp hovering overhead is more than a blimp; it’s a reminder of the ramifications of your skin color in a border town.

"A consequence of this is to internalize those messages, [for people] to begin to believe that they don't belong," Nakamura said. "This might mean trying to prove belonging, which could also lead to distancing from their communities, and trying to assimilate."

It can increase the fear that young undocumented kids already have, as well. Psychological distress for children of immigrants is nearly double that of their first-generation immigrant parents, according to one 2020 study. And immigrant families, even documented, experience "resounding levels of fear and uncertainty," according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The blimp serves as a "visual reminder that their family members are not safe. Fear of forced separation contributes to psychological distress, including depression and anxiety," Nakamura said.

Given more recent events, like the expansion of the surveillance technology system at the border, the Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, and the way cities have become surveillance centers, it seems we’re making more moves to abandon the facade of stealthy surveillance and return to the retro blimp’s more public approach of spying — for some communities. Mass surveillance impacts us all, but the sneakier tools tend to be used on communities that aren’t already disadvantaged by their race, ethnicity, and immigration status, as Hannah Emple and Aleta Sprague from the Open Technology Institute called out. The more aggressive and obvious tools — stop-and-frisk, suspicionless search, immigration checkpoints miles inland from the border, a surveillance blimp — are frequently forced into the lives of those who are less likely to object, according to the Georgetown Law School Center on Privacy and Technology, which hosted a 2017 event, The Color of Surveillance: Government Monitoring of American Immigrants, showing that not everyone is watched equally.

When I look back on that field trip, I remember learning that sneaking around the teacher's rules and having bubble gum on the bus ruled. I learned that I loved having a day off of school. I learned that the Arizona heat is a simple fact of desert life. I also learned that being watched — by the blimp, by the immigration checkpoints — was as inescapable as the monsoons that filled Southern Arizona skies with thick, dark clouds and poured down water onto our dry terrain every summer. The rains brought with them the smell of creosote, a bush that fills the air with a musky, earthy smell from a coating on its leaves. But the blimp didn't bring with it any positive senses — only the unavoidable knowledge that we were not safe.

Posted on 3 July 2022 | 9:00 am

Simplify your PDF experience with a lifetime subscription to Wondershare

Man staring at laptop

TL;DR: A lifetime subscription to Wondershare PDFelement Professional is on sale for £98, saving you 25% on list price.

If you’re sick of PDF restrictions and the headache that comes with them, consider this deal on Wondershare PDFelement Professional. It’s a beginner-friendly option that unlocks premium features for working with PDFs — and it’s on sale for 25% for a perpetual license. 

PDFelement has all the functionality you’d expect from a PDF editor and beyond. Once you open up your document with the software, you can switch the format to practically any file type you desire. Turn your PDF into a Word document or a JPEG image. Turn your JPEG image into a PDF and vice versa. All it takes is a click or two. You can also add text, fill out forms, and combine multiple pages into a single document. 

Need to edit an existing PDF? No worries. You can change text and fonts, add or edit images, crop or insert pages, edit elements by size or colour, insert links, add watermarks, and so much more without navigating a complicated interface.

A solid collaboration tool, PDFelement also allows you to add notes and comments to PDFs, highlight, underline, strikeout text, draw directly on the PDF with markup tools, merge, split, or compress PDFs for easy sharing, and even extract PDF pages to share individual parts without sacrificing quality. You can even add password protection to your files or require an e-signature for verification, just to make sure nobody outside of your organisation has access. 

By switching from Adobe Acrobat to PDFelement, you can allegedly even cut your costs by about 60%. It’s regularly £130, but you can sign up for a perpetual license for only £98 for a limited time.

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Posted on 3 July 2022 | 4:00 am

'Wordle' today: Get the answer, hints for July 3

A smartphone displaying the Wordle game.

New day, new Wordle, y'all.

While it's always the most fun to nail it down yourself, sometimes you just get stuck — and that's where we come in.

The answer to the July 3 Wordle #379 can be found at the end of this article, with the spoiler clearly signposted, or you can make your way down in a more leisurely fashion for a few tips, gentle hints, and strategies to help you every day.

Who made Wordle? Where did Wordle come from?

Wordle's sudden explosion at the end of 2021 led to a round of press focused on its creator. Former Reddit engineer Josh Wardle actually came up with the game in 2021 as a private exercise for him and his word game-loving partner. It eventually became a staple of their family WhatsApp messaging, and that's when Wardle started to suspect he might have something special enough to merit a wider release.

Thousands of people around the globe now play this game each day, and fans have even created alternatives to Wordle inspired by the original format. This includes music identification game Heardle, Hollywood nerd faves Actorle and Framed, and variations like Dordle and Quordle that make you guess multiple words at once.

Not the day you're after? Here's the Wordle answer for July 2.

Look to the future! The July 4 Wordle answer is right here.

What's the best Wordle starting word?

We have some ideas to help you pick the perfect first move (or as close to perfect as you can get without just magically guessing the exact right word). Such tips include choosing a word with at least two different vowels in it, plus a few common consonants such as S, T, R, or N.

What happened to the Wordle archive?

While you could once play the entire archive of past puzzles, the archive was taken down at the request of the New York Times, according to the site.

Is Wordle getting harder?

If you've been finding Wordle too easy, there is a Hard Mode you can enable to give yourself more of a challenge. But unless you activate this mode, we can assure you that Wordle isn't getting harder

Why are there two different Wordle answers some days?

The whole point of Wordle is that everyone's solving the same puzzle, with the same answer, no matter where you are in the world. However, occasionally the puzzle game will accept two different correct solutions on the same day, in apparent defiance of Wordle law.

This aberration is due to changes the New York Times began making after it acquired Wordle earlier this year. To make sure you're always getting the same puzzle as everyone else, refresh your browser before you play — don't worry, the site will keep your streak.

A subtle hint for the July 3 Wordle answer:

It can be a noun or an adjective.

Wordle today is a 5-letter word that starts with...

The letter 'L.'

What's the answer to Wordle on July 3?


We'll finally tell you the answer.



Reporting by Caitlin Welsh, Amanda Yeo and Adam Rosenberg contributed to this article.

Posted on 3 July 2022 | 3:37 am

12 best websites to analyze your Spotify data

A white man holds a dozen or so phones, with several falling down.

Mining your own Spotify data is like accessing a musical window into your own soul. What genre do you listen to the most? How obscure are your favorite artists? And, wait, you listened to "Alone" by Heart how many times!?

We've scoured the corners of the internet and collected our 12 favorite websites that analyze your Spotify data. So if you're the type of person who spends your days counting down to Spotify Wrapped or who regularly analyzes your listening habits to understand yourself better, you'll love these clever tools.

A heads up that each of these websites requires you to log in to your Spotify and grant the website access to your Spotify data, and we've included directions at the bottom for how to remove each site's access once you've tried them out.

1. Stats for Spotify

Stats for Spotify is a classic Spotify data analyzer. It shows you your top tracks, artists, and genres organized by the previous four weeks, last six months, and all time. It also shows how your top tracks, artists, and genres have changed since the last time you used Stats for Spotify.

2. How Bad is Your Spotify

How Bad is Your Spotify is an AI that judges your music taste. It gained popularity in December 2020 for its snarky roasts of users' listening habits.

The AI reads us for filth, calling our taste "tay-fancore-cottagecore-omg-high-school-is-over-bad."
Don't judge me. Credit: screenshot: how bad is your spotify

3. Icebergify (aka the Spotify Iceberg)

Icebergify grabs the top 50 artists of your short-term, medium-term, and long-term listening trends and organizes them by their popularity or obscurity. If the artist is super popular (think Beyonce), they'll be at the tippy-top. But if you listen to a lot of Antichrist Siege Machine, they'll be closer to the bottom. The tool may also pull in musicians you haven't listened to in a few months, and if you don't listen to any artists in a certain level of popularity, the level will show up blank.

Three Spotify Icebergs from three of our staffers, in shades of blue.
Three very brave staffers at Mashable (Christianna Silva, Crystal Bell, Tim Marcin) share their iceberg results. Credit: share their iceberg results Credit: Screenshot / Icebergify / Christianna Silva, Crystal Bell, Tim Marcin

4. Obscurify

Like Icebergify, Obscurify tells you how obscure the music you listen to is compared to other Obscurify users. It'll also show you your top five obscure artists and will rate your music's happiness, danceability, and energy compared to other users.

5. Spotify Pie

"Bake your monthly genre pie" with this website created by UCLA student Darren Huang. Spotify Pie analyzes your Spotify listening and organizes it into a highly sharable pie chart of all the genres you've listened to in the last month. Below the chart, the website reveals your most-listened-to genres and your top artists of the month, too.

A colorful pie chart with pop as the largest chunk
Credit: Spotify Pie
A list of artists, with Taylor Swift and Harry Styles on top.
Credit: Spotify Pie

6. Zodiac Affinity

If you're an astrology lover, you'll appreciate Zodiac Affinity. It chooses five of your liked songs that align with different star signs and we honestly have no idea what the criteria is here.

7. Discover Quickly

Discover Quickly sorts your playlists, top songs, and top artists by different criteria, like popularity and danceability. It also lists all of Spotify's crazy specific genres like "deep metalcore," "acid house," and "charred death." The tool will make you a playlist of that genre or can generate a playlist of songs of a random genre.

8. MusicScape

MusicScape generates a landscape based on the tracks you've recently listened to, taking their mood, mode, energy, and key into consideration to create something unique to your sonic palette.

A landscape with a purple sky, bright yellow sun and muted yellow earth.
What does your musicScape look like? Credit: Screenshot: musicscape

9. MusicTaste.Space

MusicTaste.Space is fun because it allows you to compare your listening with another Spotify user. Just send a friend the link on the homepage and it will show you all the overlap between your top songs and top artists.

10. Receiptify

Receiptify transforms your favorite songs into a cute little receipt of your musical taste. Choose your top tracks of the last month, last six months, or of all time.

Receiptify looks just like a scan of a crumpled receipt, except the items are songs,
Receiptify gives you an Insta Story ready list of your top songs. Credit: screenshot: Receiptify

11. How NPRcore are you

How NPRcore are you analyzes how closely your music taste aligns with NPR music. Pick a period of time and this tool will tell you what percent NPRcore you are or which of your top tracks and artists are most NPRcore/

12. Moodify

Moodify makes AI-generated playlists based on the mood of the song you're currently listening to.

How to unlink your Spotify

After you've had your fun poking around your data, you can easily unlink your account from each site by going to Spotify app settings and selecting "Remove Access."

Posted on 2 July 2022 | 9:24 pm

Twitter reacts to the pure insanity that was Arizona's Republican primary for governor debate

Republican candidates for Arizona governor Karrin Taylor Robson, left, and Paola Tulliani-Zen, right, arrive on the set prior to a PBS televised debate

On Thursday, four Arizona Republicans duked it out in a gubernatorial debate that can only be described as clowns trying to out-clown each other on live TV.

Candidates Karrin Taylor Robson, Scott Neely, Paola Tulliani Zen, and Kari Lake gathered to make their pitch to voters, who will cast ballots to replace Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who is term-limited and cannot run again, in the Aug. 2 primary. The only televised debate of the primary election seemed like less of an opportunity to address the concerns of voters and more of an opportunity for the candidates to trash one another.

A highlight reel from Twitter user @endajodwod featured some choice quotes from the candidates, rife with childish interruptions.

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"God they talk over me and I'm Italian, that shouldn't happen," Tulliani Zen says. Before she can finish her next sentence, she's interrupted by Neely who replies, "I'm Irish."

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Other choice quotes include Lake, a former nightly news anchor for FOX 10 in Arizona, stating that "200,000 ballots were trafficked [into Arizona] by mules," a claim that has been widely debunked by auditors and Maricopa County officials. Later in the video, after arguments about election fraud in 2020, Lake says she "feels like I'm in an SNL skit," which many Arizonans probably wish were the case. Then Neely, who owns a concrete supply business in Mesa, notes "I haven't been on a stage with this many women since I've been to a baby shower." Yikes.

"I don't know how that's gonna go over Scott but I'll let that hang," responded Ted Simons, the debate moderator, who seemed at least moderately self-aware.

Reactions on Twitter ranged from disgust to horror and they came from voices on the left and right.

Chris Murphy, Democratic Senator

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Alyssa Farah Griffin, White House director of strategic communications and former assistant to President Trump

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Meghan McCain

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Mike Murphy, Republican political consultant

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Don Moynihan, Georgetown University professor

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If there's anything to take away from all this, it's that it could be worse. Did you see Wyoming's Republican primary debate? Actually, on second thought, it is a lot worse.

Posted on 2 July 2022 | 7:24 pm

Meta shuts down Novi, the last remaining sliver of its crypto efforts

Meta logo

One of the biggest tech companies in the world is apparently feeling the effects of the crypto crash, too.

Novi, a digital wallet for cryptocurrency that Meta debuted in 2021, is on its last legs. Per the Novi website, users have until Sept. 1 to get their info and their remaining crypto balance off the site. As CNBC pointed out, this snuffs out the final, tiny flickering flame from Meta’s crypto efforts over the last few years.

Put simply, Novi was supposed to be a safe way for people to send and receive crypto, and at one point it was supposed to work with Diem, the Facebook-backed cryptocurrency that started life as Libra in 2019 before getting rebranded later. That never actually happened because, in February of this year, Diem collapsed

Without even the ability to issue the currency made by its own parent company, Novi didn’t stand a chance. The site never even exited beta into a full 1.0 version. However bullish Mark Zuckerberg and co. may have been (and may still be, privately) about crypto, it seems the idea of decentralized blockchain currency doesn’t have a home within Meta’s corporate walls anymore.

In case you’ve been under a rock, crypto has been crashing hard in 2022. It’s not the first time this has happened, but even crypto news site Coindesk has admitted that this time feels different. A complex combination of COVID, war, inflation, and everything else seems to have made it much harder for the digital dollar dream to sustain itself right now.

With respect to those who have lost their livelihoods due to the current landscape…maybe this is ultimately for the best.

SEE ALSO: Crypto is caving in. What's up?

Posted on 2 July 2022 | 6:57 pm

Minions set to shatter box-office records because Gen Z is obsessed with it

Gru alonside two of the titular minions riding down a city street at high speeds

Reader, I have never seen a Minions movie. But that has never stopped me from delighting in the myriad joys of its babbling Twinkie-shaped underlings or Vector's orange tracksuit. One of the franchise's charms is its ability to transcend language and culture, to unite us as one Gru-tiful family. And this weekend, thanks to us, it's doing it to the tune of $129M.

That's right, Minions: The Rise of Gru is projected to make more than $129M, a new Fourth of July weekend box office record.

SEE ALSO: The best memes of 2022

How did we get here? Well, the Minions marketing team has been hard at work, but Gen Z works harder. Through a series of Twitter and TikTok posts, they've boosted the visibility of the film and transformed it from a movie to a living meme. We broke down the most popular ones for you below, because one thing's for sure:

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The soundtrack

Back in May, Jack Antonoff announced that he had produced the soundtrack of the movie, featuring covers of 70's hits from Diana Ross, Brockhampton, Kali Uchis, Phoebe Bridgers, Jackson Wang, Thundercat and more. That set the movie promotions off on the right foot, because who doesn't want to listen to Phoebe and think about silly little minions all day??

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The tickets

Fans have borrowed the "Tickets to X, please" meme that gained popularity after the release of The Joker and added a minion spin. Movie-goers and their memes have donned suits for reasons including: as a tongue-in-cheek sign of respect for the franchise, to joke that being a fan of a kid's film is mature and attractive, and to revel in the irony of wearing a straight-up suit to a children's movie.

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The suits

The suit phenomenon has become an IRL meme, with large groups attending showings of the movie in suits.

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Everything else

Just as the Minion franchise escapes categorization — is it a film for children or adults? Gen Z or geriatrics? — so do its memes. The posts below capture the diversity of content that the internet has delivered to us this weekend, in all its glory.

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Posted on 2 July 2022 | 6:53 pm

It looks like China does have access to U.S. TikTok user data

TikTok logo

UPDATE: Jul. 2, 2022, 3:18 p.m. EDT This article has been updated to reflect new information confirming suspicions about China's access to U.S user data.

Despite the repeated assurances that TikTok's parent company, the China-based ByteDance, isn't checking out data collected about users in the U.S., it looks like the company absolutely does and can.

On Jul 1, TikTok confirmed that employees based in China are able to access U.S. user data through "approval protocols." According to the New York Times, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew provided details about how it plans to keep data about its American users separate from ByteDance, its Chinese parent company, in a letter to nine Republican senators. In that letter, he noted that ByteDance employees in China were able to access TikTok data only through “subject to a series of robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our U.S.-based security team.” Chew added, “We know we are among the most scrutinized platforms from a security standpoint, and we aim to remove any doubt about the security of U.S. user data."

The nine Republican senators write to TikTok with questions about its practices after a Jun. 17 from BuzzFeed News in which they reviewed recordings containing over a dozen separate statements from nine different TikTok employees showed that engineers in China had access to U.S. data from at least September 2021 through January 2022. One member of TikTok’s Trust and Safety department said, in September 2021, that "everything is seen in China," according to BuzzFeed News. Apparently, there's even one Beijing-based engineer who "has access to everything" — they call them a "Master Admin."

That means former President Donald Trump may have been correct in his assessment of the app when he said in an August 2020 executive order that TikTok's "data collection threatens to allow" China to "access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information." TikTok repeatedly said it has never and would never share U.S. user data with the Chinese government.

In response to BuzzFeed News' investigation, a TikTok spokesperson said the app is "among the most scrutinized platforms from a security standpoint" and that it plans to "remove any doubt about the security of U.S. user data."

TikTok has already come under fire for its data collection, and this is just another step in yet another app collecting information on its users and doing whatever it pleases with it. It seems being online in 2022 is becoming more and more difficult to do while maintaining some semblance of privacy and data autonomy.

Posted on 2 July 2022 | 6:28 pm

WhatsApp could let users hide their online status soon

WhatsApp logo on phone

Tired of everyone bothering you on WhatsApp? Soon, you’ll be able to use the app without anyone even knowing about it.

As spotted by the WhatsApp news site WABetaInfo, the incredibly popular messaging app’s developers are working on a new feature that would enable users to hide their online status. In other words, the little in-app indicator that you’re online could be switched off, enabling a more stealthy way to use the app.

This goes hand-in-hand with another recent round of privacy updates on WhatsApp, which included the ability to dictate who could see when you were last online. According to the beta feature WABetaInfo found, you would be able to mirror that list to your online status, meaning the same people you trust to see your “last seen” indicator would be the same people who could see when you’re currently using the app.

The applications for this feature are numerous and obvious. Sometimes you just want to log into a service without other people knowing it. Maybe you don’t want to talk to anyone and you just want to check a certain message log, or maybe you’re trying to actively avoid an annoying family member or even a harasser. It’s honestly a little surprising WhatsApp didn’t already have the ability to use the app in stealth mode, but better late than never.

Now, time for every other app to add this feature, too. 

SEE ALSO: WhatsApp rolls out new privacy features, among other updates

Posted on 2 July 2022 | 6:04 pm

Tesla sued again for alleged racial discrimination against Black workers

Aerial photo of Tesla's Fremont plant located in California

UPDATE: Jul. 3, 2022, 11:07 a.m. EDT This article was corrected for clarity and sensitivity purposes

Tesla, the electric-car maker, has been sued again Thursday, this time by a group of current and former Black employees who say they were subject to racial slurs and harassment, according to a report by the San-Francisco Chronicle. The lawsuit further states that the company and management knew of the complaints and did nothing to stop it.

According to the lawsuit filed in a California state court, workers at Tesla's Fremont, CA. assembly plant state that they were subjected to offensive remarks from colleagues, managers, and human resource employees on a regular basis. The harassment ranged from racist graffiti in the bathrooms to flat out being called the n-word or as one employee in the suit described “Blackies” and “Darkies."

Beyond the harassment, plaintiffs in the lawsuit also alleged that Black employees at the Fremont plant were given more strenuous positions than their non-Black coworkers. In the SF Chronicle report, Tyron Aghedo says that he and other Black employees worked 12 hours a day on the most physically intensive parts of the vehicles, while their non-Black counterparts were allowed to rotate out every couple of hours.

Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit recounted instances of cat-calling from managers and leads, HR using racial remarks while dismissing employees' complaints, and in some cases retaliation.

SEE ALSO: Elon Musk feels 'super bad' about economy, wants to lay off 10% of Tesla workforce

Teri Mitchell, a plaintiff in the suit, says that after she made a complaint she was transferred to a different section and was dismissed from the company sometime later without notice, according to the SF Chronicle. The lawsuit states that Mitchell was told by an HR employee, "It is rare for Blacks to work here. I don’t know how long you will be able to stay here.”

“Hearing story after story of employees being subjected to this level of disgusting and threatening behavior and language is still almost unbelievable," said plaintiffs' attorney Mike Arias speaking with the SF Chronicle.

As of the time of this writing, Tesla has yet to make a statement regarding this new lawsuit.

According to Al Jazeera, Tesla is now facing at least 10 lawsuits alleging widespread race discrimination or sexual harassment, including one by a California civil rights agency. Tesla has denied mistreating Black workers, but in October of last year, a federal court jury in San Francisco awarded $136.9 million in damages to a Black man, Owen Diaz, who said he was repeatedly called racist names, shown racist cartoons, and subjected to abuse during 9½ months of employment at the Fremont factory. A judge later reduced the award to $15 million but Diaz has been granted a new trial to redetermine the settlement award.

This new lawsuit is just one of many Tesla is facing at the moment. Earlier this month, a Tesla shareholder sued CEO Elon Musk and the company for neglecting worker complaints and fostering a toxic workplace culture, according to Reuters.

Posted on 2 July 2022 | 3:10 pm

Google will automatically delete visits to abortion clinics from your location history

Google logo

With the downfall of Roe v. Wade last month, tech companies are left to pick up the pieces on suddenly shaky legal terrain.

One such company is Google, which announced in a blog post on Friday that an update is coming to the location history feature associated with Google accounts in the next few weeks. The update will automatically flag and delete any visits to abortion clinics (as well as other facilities like domestic violence shelters and addiction treatment centers) from a user’s location history. 

This important because, in a post-Roe world, legal abortion access changes across state lines. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has stated in no uncertain terms that the Department of Justice will protect the right to seek an abortion out-of-state, but there’s already legislation being drafted in red states that would punish people who travel for abortions if enshrined into law. 

If law enforcement has the authority to punish those who get abortions across state lines, a digital diary of every place a person has visited would naturally be desirable as evidence, hence Google auto-deleting visits to abortion clinics from its logs. There will also be an update to Fitbit to allow users to delete multiple menstrual cycle logs at once, amid fears that data collected by period tracking apps could also be used against people who need abortions.

For what it’s worth, Google said it would “oppose demands that are overly broad or otherwise legally objectionable” when it comes to using data as evidence, but that statement leaves plenty of wiggle room. As always, the best way to avoid having evidence used against you is to eliminate the evidence outright.

SEE ALSO: Your privacy is at risk now that Roe v. Wade has fallen, experts warn

Posted on 2 July 2022 | 2:51 pm

The Webb telescope just took the deepest photo of the universe ever

Building the James Webb Space Telescope

In a matter of days, scientists will release an unprecedented photo of the universe, going deeper into the cosmos than ever before and revealing some of the oldest stars and galaxies.

The image is one of 10 to 20 photos that will come from the James Webb Space Telescope, the preeminent observatory in the sky, on July 12, NASA officials confirmed during a news conference on Wednesday. For the few scientists who have seen a sneak peek, the new snapshots have inspired profound existential experiences and left some on the verge of tears, they said.

"It's an emotional moment when you see nature suddenly releasing some of its secrets," said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science missions. "It's not an image. It's a new worldview."

SEE ALSO: NASA unexpectedly revealed a Webb telescope 'first light' image

The telescope launched from Earth about six months ago, on Christmas morning, and is now orbiting the sun nearly 1 million miles away. NASA deputy administrator Pam Melroy, a former astronaut, said this week the team expects the telescope to work for a long time: It has enough fuel on board to support research over the next 20 years.

Telescope alignment test pictures have already shown the unmatched sharpness and clarity of the infrared telescope. But these upcoming images will be the first in full color and demonstrating Webb’s science capabilities as well.

The images and scientific data will be rolled out during a broadcasted event starting at 10:30 a.m. ET on July 12 from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. The public can watch live coverage on NASA TV and the agency's website.

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Taking pictures with this complex machine, equipped with four scientific instruments, isn't anything like pointing a smartphone at the sky and clicking. It takes a couple of weeks of processing reams of data for a final image to emerge.

"When you get the data down, they don't look anything like a beautiful color image. They don't hardly look like anything at all," said astronomer Klaus Pontoppidan, Webb project scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute. "It's only when you know, as an expert, what to look for that you can appreciate them."

NASA officials also said they'll present the telescope's first atmosphere study of a planet outside this solar system, in what's known as an exoplanet spectrum. The light data provides astronomers with detailed information about what kind of molecules exist in an atmosphere.

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Webb, a collaboration of NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency, will observe some of the oldest, faintest light in the universe. The powerful telescope will study a period less than 300 million years after the Big Bang, when many of the first stars and galaxies were born. Scientists will also use it to peer into the atmospheres of other worlds. Discoveries of water and methane, for example — the main ingredients of life — could be signs of potential habitability or biological activity.

Astronomers anticipate Webb will ignite a golden age in our understanding of the universe. This first crop of cosmic image targets was picked to show off the telescope at its full potential while not undercutting some of the planned observations scheduled for later in the year.

But NASA remains tight-lipped about what else is coming. Here's what we know so far.

Hubble's ultra deep field
If the Webb photo is going to go deeper than what humans have seen before, it must surpass the Hubble Space Telescope's Ultra Deep Field survey. Credit: NASA/Hubble Space Telescope

What do they mean by the "deepest" photo yet?

If the Webb photo is going to go deeper than what humans have seen before, it must surpass the Hubble Space Telescope's Ultra Deep Field survey, captured about 20 years ago. The famous, expansive image shows nearly 10,000 galaxies of different ages, sizes, shapes, and colors.

In astronomy, looking farther translates into observing the past because light and other forms of radiation take longer to reach us. In Hubble's deep field, the oldest visible galaxies date back to the first 800 million years after the Big Bang. That's an incredibly early period relative to the universe’s estimated age of 13.8 billion years.

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But Webb was built to see an even earlier period, using a much larger primary mirror than Hubble — 21 feet in diameter versus just under 8 feet — and detecting invisible light at infrared wavelengths. In short, a lot of dust and gas in space obscures the view to extremely distant and inherently dim light sources, but infrared waves can penetrate through the clouds. One Webb scientist said the telescope is so sensitive, it could detect the heat of a bumblebee on the moon.

"The initial goal for this mission was to see the first stars and galaxies," said Eric Smith, Webb's program scientist, "not the first light of the universe but to watch the universe turn the lights on for the first time."

Exoplanet transitting
When exoplanets cross in front of their host star, the star’s light is filtered through that atmosphere. Credit: ESA, NASA, M. Kornmesser (ESA/Hubble), and STScI

What will this "exoplanet spectrum" tell us?

The Webb team will present the telescope's first exoplanet spectrum, a study of the light that passes through a planet's atmosphere, revealing what molecules are in it.

Astronomers have found about 5,000 so-called exoplanets, worlds that orbit stars other than the sun, but statistically speaking, there should be exponentially more. The universe could have perhaps over 100 billion galaxies, each with hundreds of billions of stars, according to The Planetary Society. If most stars have one or more planets around them, there could be on the order of "billions of trillions" of exoplanets out there.

Scientists can use Webb to study planet atmospheres. When exoplanets cross in front of their host star, the star’s light is filtered through that atmosphere. Molecules within the atmosphere absorb certain light wavelengths, or colors, so by splitting the star’s light into its basic parts — a rainbow — astronomers can detect what light segments are missing to discern the molecular makeup of an atmosphere.

"It's an emotional moment when you see nature suddenly releasing some of its secrets."

Knowing what's in another planet's atmosphere is significant, scientists say. The composition of Earth's atmosphere changed, for example, when life arose on the planet, revealing carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Researchers think by studying atmospheres, they can determine whether other planets could harbor or be hospitable to life.

Though the researchers have not divulged which exoplanet they studied, it's likely it isn't a rocky world like Earth. Gas giant exoplanets, similar in composition to Jupiter, are easier to analyze, so astronomers likely targeted one of those first.

The planet Jupiter
Some of the James Webb Space Telescope observations will focus on objects in the solar system, like Jupiter and its moons. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team via Getty Images

Are any of the photos within the solar system?

It's not clear yet whether the first photo drop from Webb will include pictures of neighboring planets or space objects.

The first images are expected to highlight the science themes that inspired the mission: information about the early universe, the evolution of galaxies through time, the lives and deaths of stars, and the characteristics of other worlds.

By July 12, the Webb team will have conducted 120 hours of observations, collecting five days' worth of scientific data. Five days later, they'll likely have doubled that output, said Jonathan Gardner, Webb's deputy senior project scientist.

"If we don't see anything within our solar system on July 12, we will certainly see the planets very soon."

"There is an 'early release science program' that is concentrating on Jupiter and Jupiter's moons and the Jovian system," said Gardner, "so if we don't see anything within our solar system on July 12, we will certainly see the planets very soon."

That program, developed by the Space Telescope Science Institute and Webb advisory committee, will focus on getting a lot of initial data out to scientists so they can learn the telescope's capabilities and write better research proposals. This period will cover the first five months of the observatory's operations.

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What are other possible image subjects for the Webb telescope?

Though it's not clear what other "wow" images will be among that first photo drop, the Webb team has provided some clues about their agenda based on how they've divided the observatory's time for science work.

The largest chunk of time — about one-third of the program — will be spent studying galaxies and the gas and dust that exists between them. The rest of the priorities:

It's fair to say that many, if not all, of the pictures coming in the release will be dubbed "firsts" in astronomy.

"With this telescope," said Zurbuchen, "it's really hard not to break records."

Posted on 2 July 2022 | 11:20 am

The best early Prime Day travel deals for voyagers on a budget

a woman in a brown tank top, jeans, and yellow sunglasses pulls a rolling samsonite suitcase through a garden on a sunny day

Taking a trip this summer? Check out the best early Prime Day travel deals as of July 2:

Welcome to another summer of revenge travel.

Experts originally coined the term to describe the post-lockdown rush to book leisurely vacations. (Making up for lost time, as it were.) But lately it feels like "revenge travel" could apply to the way we're being punished by high gas, hotel, and airfare prices after staying home for so long.

Either way, it's a good thing Amazon's early Prime Day deals include some hefty discounts on travel gear.

SEE ALSO: Everything you need to know about Amazon Prime Day 2022, from dates to early deals

We'll be combing through the site regularly in the days leading up to the sale (which is scheduled for July 12 and 13 this year) to find the most "worth-it" prices on luggage, noise-canceling headphones, portable chargers, and other items that can come in handy on a trip. A few things to keep in mind before you start adding things to your cart:

Get set, jetsetters:

Noise-canceling headphones deals

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Our pick: Apple AirPods Max 🔥 (opens in a new tab)
$429 on Amazon (save $120)
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Why we like them

Apple's first pair of non-Beats-branded over-ear headphones can fit a little wonky for glasses-wearers and those of us with small heads. But "[when] it comes down to it, the AirPods Max check off almost all the boxes for what makes an excellent pair of headphones," wrote former Mashable tech reporter Brenda Stolyar: "great sound quality, ideal battery life, easy controls, and a stylish design (sans Smart Case)."

Amazon has revived their all-time low price of $429 from last Black Friday (down 22% from their $549 MSRP), and it's tough to see them getting any cheaper than that.

More early Prime Day deals on noise-canceling headphones

Portable charger deals

the Anker PowerCore 26800 Portable Charger
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Credit: Anker
Our pick: Anker PowerCore 26800 Portable Charger 🔥 (opens in a new tab)
$52.69 on Amazon (save $14.30)
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Why we like it

Boasting over 26,500 five-star reviews on Amazon, this beefy portable charger from Anker packs 26,800mAh of juice — that's enough to power most phones over 6 times and most tablets at least twice. It has three USB output ports, so you can charge multiple devices simultaneously.

Peep its new all-time low price ahead of Prime Day: It typically retails for $66.99 on the Anker website, but you can snag one on Amazon for only $52.69 (a 21% savings).

More early Prime Day deals on portable chargers

Luggage deals

the Travelpro Maxlite Air Large Check-in Expandable Hardside Spinner suitcase
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Credit: Travelpro
Our pick: Travelpro Maxlite Air Large Check-in Expandable Hardside Spinner 🔥 (opens in a new tab)
$144.49 on Amazon (save $105.50)
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Why we like it

Travelpro is a luggage brand beloved by pilots and flight attendants, and this 29-inch hardside spinner comes from its Maxlite collection of ultra-durable, lightweight suitcases. Available in several stylish finishes, the cheapest one being "Ensign Blue," it features a TSA-approved lock, a zippered expansion, a moisture-resistant interior lining, and interior divider panels with multiple accessory pockets.

This one's also sitting at its lowest price to date: Amazon has it listed for just $144.49, which is 37% off the $249.99 MSRP we saw on the Travelpro website.

More early Prime Day deals on luggage

Luggage sets

Checked luggage

Carry-on luggage

Duffel bags


Honorable mention: Buy at least $50 in gift cards (or reload an existing balance), get a $12.50 Prime Day credit

Bookmark this one for later: Prime members who haven't purchased or reloaded a gift card before will receive a $12.50 credit in their account when they do so on Prime Day. Its selection includes Airbnb, Amtrak,, Lyft, Southwest Airlines, Uber, and even some cruise lines — the only catch is that you have to spend at least $50.

Be sure to click the yellow "Apply code to your account" button or enter the promo code GCPRIME22 at checkout to make sure the offer goes through. You should get an email telling you that the money's been applied to your account within two days.

Posted on 2 July 2022 | 11:00 am

Fat bear thieves steal fish from very dominant bear

a large brown bear in a river

One should tread carefully around bear 856.

He's one of the most dominant fat bears of Katmai National Park and Preserve ⁠— which houses a population of internet-famous Alaskan bears livestreamed on — and his aggression and size earns him access to the best fishing spots. For much of the last decade, bear 856 sat atop the fat bear hierarchy in the park's salmon-rich Brooks River, and he remains a top contender.

It's not wise to impede upon 856's fishing territory, which is closely guarded bear real estate. An encroaching bear risks a fight, injury, or at minimum, being run off. But this didn't stop two enterprising subadult, or teenage, bears from successfully stealing a fresh 4,500-calorie sockeye salmon from bear 856, live on the bear cams this week.

SEE ALSO: There's a new giant king of the fat bears

You can watch the action in the clip below:

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This episode, while entertaining, underscores the intense competition bears endure during the summer and fall. They are competing for calories. They must fatten up before their long winter hibernation, wherein they subsist entirely off their fat stores. A bear with ample fat has better odds of surviving the brutal Alaskan winter, and also of awaking with enough energy to yet again seek out nutrients.

That's why a fat bear is a successful bear.

Bear 856, with his profound aggression, had dominion over all the other bears feeding at the Brooks River, even those bigger than him, for much of the past decade. Bears would at times flee from 856 when he appeared at the river.

But last year, the behemoth bear 747 overtook 856 as the river's most dominant animal. It wasn't a violent fight. (Brown bears usually intimidate with bold posturing, as opposed to brawling and potentially hurting themselves.) Beneath the iconic Brooks waterfall, bear 747 approached bear 856 and intimidated him, ultimately displacing 856 from a prime fishing spot in the river.

Still, bear 856 stands as a titan among some of the most successful wild bears in Katmai. Just, sometimes, young whippersnappers might find a way to steal his fish. No worry, bear 856 will catch hundreds more salmon this summer. He always does.

Posted on 2 July 2022 | 10:30 am

Deep sea scientists find strange, transparent fish on ocean expedition

a biologist holding a blotched snailfish

A fish biologist and her team spotted a see-through fish in Alaskan waters recently. It’s a rarely-seen blotched snailfish. 

"Been hoping to see one of these in person for a long time! Blotched snailfish (Crystallichthys cyclospilus)," tweeted Sarah Friedman, a fish biologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

"We found four or five so far, in the couple of weeks we've been out," Friedman told Mashable. Her team encountered these fish during a routine survey that NOAA conducts every year in the Aleutian Islands off of Alaska. 

SEE ALSO: The deep sea discoveries and sightings of 2021 are amazing

But that doesn’t mean they're common. "They’re found around 100 to 200 meters down. So I would say your general everyday person is never going to encounter one of these fish," Friedman clarified. 

Their transparent, reddish bodies are unique, and they serve a vital purpose. It's an adaptation deep sea creatures like the blotched snailfish use to camouflage themselves, based on the wavelengths of light that pass through water. Red light has the shortest wavelength, meaning it never reaches the deep dark waters and illuminates these fish. This makes deep sea animals largely invisible to predators. 

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an angler fish in the ocean
Angler fish have a rod protruding from their head which emits light and attracts prey. Credit: Neil Bromhall / Shutterstock

Snailfish have yet another cool feature, too, said Friedman. They have suction cups at the bottom of their body. This helps them attach to rocks and hold tight in strong currents. The snailfish is one of few fish species that have this structure. 

Friedman also tweeted a few other interesting species she came across during the expedition, including the angler fish. These animals have a rod on their forehead, which contains millions of light-producing bacteria, that flashes light. They do this to lure prey out of the deep, dark depths. 

Posted on 2 July 2022 | 10:00 am

The 11 best tweets of the week

illustration of twitter bird and screenshot of tweet

I don't know. I really don't. It's been a long couple of weeks, huh?

Anyway, here are the 11 best and funniest tweets of the week. Read them and enjoy.

1. Oh yeah, dude, totally. Let me just go get a little bag of water. Sure, dude. Normal stuff.

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2. This is a perfect short story and there's really nothing to add.

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3. This is chaotic and wonderful. Let's go dancing. No context. No further information.

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4. I don't even know what you're talking about, dude, this is normal stuff. Walking around with dumbbells? That's daily behavior.

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SEE ALSO: The 11 best and funniest tweets of the week

5. It's tragic. It has taken some of our brightest.

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6. Past me was happy, that's for sure. Future me might be happy as well. But present me? Oh, that guy is miserable.

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7. An obligatory dril tweet.

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8. Danny DeVito gets it. Be more like Danny DeVito.

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9. Here's a little fun fact for you.

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10. Sending a pal a good tweet — like I am doing in this story for you all— is frankly the best way I know how to show love and appreciation. You are all appreciated.

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11. And finally, this is the actual American dream.

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Posted on 2 July 2022 | 10:00 am

I tried Casper's Wave Hybrid mattress and I'm officially obsessed

Dog laying on Casper Wave Hybrid Mattress

I have a confession: I have a weird kind of magic when it comes to mattresses. My friends and family have always joked about my ability to get a new mattress whenever I need one — like a plush, pillow-top spring mattress that’s the perfect balance between soft and firm — and I typically find mattresses in pristine condition for $50 or less online. While some people might scoff at a secondhand mattress, I’ve always been satisfied with the results of my magic. After all, it’s hard to turn down a brand-new queen-sized mattress that your neighbor is tossing because they’re downsizing to a one-bedroom apartment in the city.

As a result, I’ve always been vaguely skeptical about the quality of online mattress-in-a-box retailers like Casper. The concept seemed cool and convenient, but swapping my trusty pillow top for a memory foam mattress? Not likely. 

When I got the opportunity to test out Casper’s Wave Hybrid mattress, however, I decided to ditch my doubts and put it to the test. Could a mattress-in-a-box beat out my favorite pillow-top? After weeks of trying it out, I had my answer, and it definitely came as a surprise.

SEE ALSO: Pluto Pillow review: The customization experience isn't quite there

What is the Casper Wave Hybrid mattress? 

While Casper is famous for its memory foam mattresses, the Wave Hybrid takes the Original all-foam mattress and replaces it with a hybrid construction that combines memory foam, latex, and/or gel with springs. Casper touts several variations of hybrid mattresses on its website, but the Wave Hybrid is the most advanced mattress (and definitely the most intriguing). 

Marketed as Casper's most supportive mattress, the Wave Hybrid boasts five different layers designed with gel pods and sturdy springs to create "zoned support" under your waist and lower back. Coupled with three layers of Casper’s AirScape​​ breathable foam with cooling gel, a layer of strategic gel pods, and a light spring system, the Wave Hybrid is a complex mattress built with optimal spinal alignment in mind. Particularly great for back or side sleepers, the Wave Hybrid is designed to keep you cool, comfortable, and pain-free.

close-up of the Casper Wave Hybrid mattress
The Casper Wave Hybrid mattress uses five layers to provide solid back support. Credit: RJ Andersen / Mashable

How does it feel? 

My first impression of the Wave Hybrid was shockingly good. It was relatively easy to pull it out of the box and settle it on our bed frame, and — after letting the mattress air out for a few minutes — my partner and I both flopped down on our backs. Within seconds, I could already feel a difference. Unlike other memory foam mattresses (and a cheap memory foam topper that left me wary of giving this mattress a try), the Wave Hybrid was surprisingly supportive and cool. It was sturdier than my spring mattress without being overly firm, and I could practically feel my back thanking me in those first few minutes. 

And after our first night on the Wave Hybrid, I knew I was sold. 

Even as a sensitive sleeper who has been called a real-life “princess and the pea,” it did take me a few nights to adjust to the feeling of a slightly firmer mattress, but the initial difficulties around falling asleep were well worth the dramatic increase in sleep quality. Most nights, I even found myself ditching my pillow because it felt wonderful to lay completely flat on the Wave Hybrid. 

My only complaint was that my back did feel a little warm some nights, but it wasn’t enough to feel oppressive, even on the hottest nights. Thankfully, for those who live in warmer areas or tend to overheat, Casper does offer a version of the Wave Hybrid with extra cooling built in using its new "snow technology" for an additional $500.

What about the quality?

It’s been a month since we received the Wave Hybrid, and my first impression of the mattress still stands. The quality is stellar, the support is sublime, and I’ve even noticed that the memory foam top is just as resilient as it was that first night. 

Not only does this mattress seem to be incredibly well-designed, but it’s also blown all of my expectations out of the water. I’m not someone who has ever really noticed mattress features like edge support, but now that I have it, I can’t imagine life without it. The motion transfer is also shockingly low — most nights, I can barely feel my partner getting in or out of bed, which has been a huge improvement from our previous mattress.

Dog laying on Casper Wave Hybrid mattress
Dogs love it, too. Credit: RJ Andersen / Mashable

Is it worth the price? 

Coming in at $2,895 for a queen-sized mattress, the Wave Hybrid definitely isn’t cheap. It’s Casper’s most expensive mattress, and it’s definitely on the high end when it comes to hybrid mattresses from other online retailers. However, Casper’s 100-night risk-free trial coupled with its 10-year limited warranty definitely makes it worth a try. 

Is it a good option for those who are on a budget? Probably not, especially compared to Casper’s other hybrid mattress options. But if you’re looking for a stellar mattress to provide luxury support, or you’re someone who is struggling with back pain, it might be worth the splurge.

Posted on 2 July 2022 | 10:00 am

What everyone's watching: Most streamed TV this week is a broad umbrella

Three people in a green-lit room look worried.

What's everybody been watching on TV this week?

We've got the data from streaming aggregator ReelGood, which generates viewing figures pulled from a bunch of streaming sites in the U.S. and UK, and reveals the most watched TV shows, so you can get a feel for what people are into this week.

This week, it's a broad range, with the return of The Umbrella Academy and Only Murders in the Building, Westworld, and the arrival of Loot. But of course, it'll take more than a few crimes to fully kick Obi-Wan Kenobi and Stranger Things off the most-watched list.

Here are the top 10 most streamed TV shows of the week and what Mashable's critics thought of them. Just because something is popular doesn't make it awesome

1. The Old Man

A man speaks to two people with their backs turned.
Credit: Hulu

Based on Thomas Perry’s thriller novel of the same name, Jeff Bridges leads this one as Dan Chase, an ex-CIA agent whose live off-grid is interrupted by an assassin. To find them, the FBI’s assistant director for counterintelligence Harold Harper (John Lithgow) calls Chase back into the job, working with rising FBI star Angela Adams (Alia Shawkat) and CIA special agent Raymond Waters (E.J. Bonilla). But special ops agent Julian Carson (Gbenga Akinnagbe) is also pursuing Chase. Amy Brenneman also stars as Zoe McDonald, who Chase rents a room from while on the case. — Shannon Connellan, UK Editor

How to watch: The Old Man is now streaming on Hulu.

2. The Boys

Two people smile slightly in a room with a brick wall.
Credit: Prime Video

Eric Kripke's gory superhero series has punched its way back onto our screens with a third season, following Billy (Karl Urban) and Hughie (Jack Quaid) as they go up against Homelander (Antony Starr) again after the events of Season 2. Expect gratuitous violence aplenty, from Season 1 all the way to the brand new Season 3. — Sam Haysom, Deputy UK Editor

What we thought: In some ways, Season 2 is The Boys we came to know in 2019. It's still relentlessly dark and oppressively bleak in its portrayal of the world. It's also still gory as hell, and perhaps even moreso this time. But if you're here, you already know what to expect and are prepared for graphic scenes of explosive dismemberment and compound fractures. — Adam Rosenberg, Senior Entertainment Reporter and Editor

How to watch: The Boys is now streaming on Prime Video.

3. Obi-Wan Kenobi

A woman in armor crouches on a building rooftop next to a neon sign.
Credit: Disney

Disney+'s latest Star Wars foray, Obi-Wan Kenobi, which follows the titular hero (played by Ewan McGregor) on a quest to save Princess Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) from the clutches of Inquisitor Reva (Moses Ingram) 10 years after the events of Episode III. It became the most-watched Disney+ original after its opening weekend. The people simply can't get enough Star Wars. — S.H.

How to watch: Obi-Wan Kenobi is now streaming on Disney+.

4. The Summer I Turned Pretty

Two people look about to kiss on a beach.
Credit: Prime Video

From showrunner Jenny Han, author of the To All the Boys series, comes The Summer I Turned Pretty, a coming-of-age drama across generations about first love, female friendship, complicated relationships between mothers and their kids, and of course, a love triangle. Staring stars Lola Tung, Jackie Chung, Rachel Blanchard, Christopher Briney, Gavin Casalegno, Sean Kaufman, Alfredo Narciso, Minnie Mills, Colin Ferguson, and Tom Everett Scott. — S.C.

How to watch: The Summer I Turned Pretty is now streaming on Prime Video.

5. The Umbrella Academy

Two people in a hotel hallway regarding something.
Credit: Netflix

After a long wait, Netflix's hit superhero dramedy The Umbrella Academy is back for Season 3 of the Hargreeves family saga. But this time, they don't actually really exist — the Sparrow Academy rules here. — S.C.

What we thought: Since this is now The Umbrella Academy's third installment, the "we only have x amount of time to stop the apocalypse" formula risks feeling a little overdone. Lucky for us, Season 3 avoids that pitfall (for the most part), keeping the Hargreeves' adventures feeling fresh with powerful new character developments and a fun set of villains to face off against. — Belen Edwards, Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: The Umbrella Academy is now streaming on Netflix.

SEE ALSO: Everything to remember before you watch 'The Umbrella Academy' Season 3

6. Westworld

Two people in suits stand in a conservatory of a house.
Credit: HBO

Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan's dystopian sci-fi Westworld is back for Season 4, picking up seven years after the events of Season 3. Evan Rachel Wood, Thandiwe Newton, Tessa Thompson, Jeffrey Wright, Aaron Paul, Angela Sarafyan, and Ed Harris are all here. — S.C.

How to watch: Westworld is now streaming on HBO Max and NOW TV.

7. Only Murders in the Building

Three people in a nice New York apartment stand together listening.
Credit: Disney / Hulu

Well, things didn't work out quite like they thought for our three podcasting heroes at the end of Season 1 of Only Murders in the Building, and Season 2 plunges them into a whole new mystery at the Arconia. Martin Short, Steve Martin, and Selena Gomez are back, with Cara Delevingne and Amy Schumer joining this time around. — S.C.

What we thought: Only Murders in the Building is up to something in its second season, that much is clear. It's messier and more scattered than before. — B.E.

How to watch: Only Murders in the Building is now streaming on Hulu and Disney+.

8. Stranger Things

A group of teens stand around a table as if consulting a plan.
Credit: Netflix

The most streamed (and wildly unsurprising so) show of the week is the Duffer brothers' Stranger Things, which recently returned for the first volume of Season 4. Our core characters are all a lot more grown up this time around, but Hawkins is still just as scary and monster-riddled as ever (and the soundtrack is, as always, banging). — S.H.

What we thought: You’ve waited a long time to go back to Hawkins — three years to be exact (or a whole pandemic, a few collapsing democracies, a Capitol insurrection, an ongoing war, etc, etc, etc). Certainly, Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 1 rewards that patience by welcoming you back with an over-abundance of what we've always loved about this cult hit since 2016. — Jess Joho, Staff Writer

SEE ALSO: We had 11 questions for 'Stranger Things 4: Volume 2.' Here are the answers.

How to watch: Stranger Things is now streaming on Netflix.

9. Dark Winds

Two police officers lean against a car.
Credit: AMC

Based on the Leaphorn and Chee book series by Tony Hillerman, Dark Winds is a noir set on a remote outpost of the Navajo Nation near Monument Valley. It's 1971, and Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn (Zahn McClarnon) of the Tribal Police finds himself digging into the past with a series of crimes with his new deputy, Jim Chee (Kiowa Gordon). — S.C.

How to watch: Dark Winds is now streaming on AMC+.

10. Loot

Two people raise mimosas in a kitchen.
Credit: Apple TV+

Maya Rudolph leads this Apple TV+ comedy as billionaire Molly Novak, who enjoys her gigayacht but maybe not betrayal by her husband of 20 years. When she realises she has a charity foundation run by Sofia Salinas (Michaela Jaé Rodriguez), she starts on a fresh new journey with her assistant Nicholas (Joel Kim Booster), accountant Arthur (Nat Faxon) and cousin Howard (Ron Funches). — S.C.

How to watch: Loot is now streaming on Apple TV+.

* Asterisks indicate the writeup is adapted from another Mashable article.

Posted on 2 July 2022 | 9:30 am

Save 55% on an aesthetically-pleasing block clock for your desk

White marble cube clock on top of book on table

TL;DR: As of July 2, the Cloudnola Block Clock is on sale for $19.99, or down 55% from its regular price of $45.

If your only source of time is the display on your phone, it may be worth investing in an actual clock. A clock can’t send you down an endless session of scrolling on social media. It just tells you the time — and some other essential details for your daily life, if you’re lucky.

This Cloudnola Block Clock even blends into your space seamlessly, with a sleek marble effect and 3.5-inch cube design. And for a limited time, it’s on sale for over half off. 

Want to know the time? Just tap it or make a sound. It acts in a similar fashion to the clap-on, clap-off switch from the 80s. Besides just the time, the display can also show you the temperature (in Fahrenheit or Celsius), the date, or alternate between them all. It’s designed to sleep unless you tap it or make a noise, but you can also switch it to an always-on display if you wish.

What good is a clock if you can’t set an alarm? With the Cloudnola Block Clock, you can set alarms for three different times at once, which is helpful on those days when you just can’t seem to get out of bed. Or when you want to set time intervals for work. Having an actual alarm clock, rather than simply using your phone for everything, could lead to more productivity, less snoozing, and more functional days. You never know.

Here's a closer look:

The Cloudnola works with either batteries or via USB, so you can keep it plugged in or go wireless. It also seamlessly blends into your space with a low profile, so you can use it on your desk, nightstand, kitchen counter, bookshelf, or practically anywhere else. 

It's regularly $45, but you can pick one up for only $19.99 for a limited time — that's 55% in savings and even less than the last time we featured it.

Prices subject to change.

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Posted on 2 July 2022 | 9:00 am

Save 20% on this DIY robot dog to keep the kids busy this summer

Black and yellow robot dog model on table and hands holding phone displaying control panel

TL;DR: Until July 5, you can enter the code JULY20 to get the Petoi Bittle Palm-Sized Robot Dog for STEM for $263.20 instead of its usual $329. That's savings of 20%.

If you want your kids to get off of their tablets and phones this summer, you need something exciting to spark their interest. And what’s cooler than a robot dog you can build and code yourself?

The previously featured Petoi Bittle is a DIY kit that allows you to create your own open-source bionic robot dog that fits in the palm of your hand. It’s suitable for kids 14 and over to build themselves and kids of all ages to enjoy with the supervision of an adult. Fully funded on Kickstarter (and then some) with over half a million dollars, the Petoi Bittle is a fun way for kids and adults to work on their STEM skills while bringing something tangible to life. It’s much more satisfying than simply reading a textbook.

Once assembled, the Bittle is highly programmable (with Scratch, C++, and Python) and highly extensible (with Raspberry Pi and Arduino). There’s no need to be a professional coder, though. The open-source platform, called OpenCat, can be adapted for your own purposes so you can run any customized version on your robot dog. Plus, you can share tricks and tips and learn from others in the community as you go. Mount a Raspberry Pi chip on it or customize an Arduino board to add AI capabilities or coordinate instinctive movements. The configurations and capabilities are endless, keeping your kiddos occupied for long enough that they’ll forget about TikTok for a while.

See it in action:

It’s usually $329 for the Petoi Bittle base construction kit, but for a limited time, you can use the code JULY20 to get it for only $263.20. That’s more than $30 less than the last time it was featured. This deal is only available until July 5, so act fast.

Prices subject to change.

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Posted on 2 July 2022 | 9:00 am

Want to learn to code? This 9-course Python training is only $39.

Hands in business attire using laptop in office

TL;DR: As of July 2, The Complete 2022 Python Programmer Bundle — worth $1,791 — is on sale for just $39, which gives you savings of 97%.

You could be utilizing downtime in a much more productive way. Rather than getting sucked into yet another social media debate, why not give coding a whirl? You can learn from home in your spare time with this Complete 2022 Python Programmer Bundle. And it’s just over $4 per course.

With nine courses total, each valued at $200 a pop, you’ll have plenty of content to keep you busy for over 46 hours. Lessons are taught by Skill Success instructors like Paul Nicoara, Frahaan Hussain, Edward Pie, and more. Each has a storied history in coding, app development, web and game design, and even cartography and mathematics. You’ll be in good hands. You can even work through the content on your own time and at your own speed. Just pause the lesson and come back to it later.

Designed for total beginners, there are introductory courses that give you a full overview of Python programming. You’ll start with fundamental Python functionality, such as arithmetic, conditional statements, and working with basic data structures. You’ll move on to write your own Python scripts to perform automated actions, use Python object-oriented programming, and even create your own programs from scratch. Don’t worry, you can still choose the speed at which you complete the lessons.

These courses are built for hands-on learning, so along the way, you’ll understand the concepts by actually doing them yourself. You’ll study real-life examples with step-by-step explanations, then build applications from the ground up. If you decide to use your newfound skill to find a job, you can even use these projects in your portfolio.

If you've ever wanted to code, this beginner's guide to Python is a solid starting place. Python is well-known for its beginner-friendly syntax and structure. It's also an incredibly useful way to spend your spare time.

Prices subject to change.

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Posted on 2 July 2022 | 9:00 am

What everyone's watching: Most streamed movies this week are strange

A superhero meditates while floating over candles.

So, what's everyone been watching this week?

Each week, the most popular streamed movies come down to a few things — sheer buzz, smart marketing and PR campaigns, star power, critical acclaim, or a slow burn, word-of-mouth phenomenon that leads uninterested people to finally watch it out of spite. Just to get a sense of what everyone's streaming, we've used data from streaming aggregator Reelgood, which gathers those coveted viewership numbers from hundreds of streaming services in the U.S. and UK.

With Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hitting streaming this week, it's no wonder everyone's watching it.

But just because a lot of people are watching something doesn't make it...good. Here they are, the 10 most streamed films of the week, where to watch them, and what Mashable critics thought.

1. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

A superhero in a high collar uses his powers.
Credit: Disney / Marvel

Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is back and ready to traverse the infinite parameters of time and space for the latest instalment of the MCU. Directed by Sam Raimi, the cast for this one is massive, with Elizabeth Olsen returning as Scarlett Witch alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Rachel McAdams, and Michael Stuhlbarg.

How to watch: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now streaming on Disney+.

2. Spiderhead

A man in glasses speaks into a microphone
Chris Hemsworth as Abnesti in "Spiderhead." Credit: Netflix

Based on George Saunders' short story "Escape from Spiderhead," Spiderhead centres around a facility testing mood-changing drugs on prisoners and challenging the idea of free will. The whole thing is run by Chris Hemsworth as scientisti Steve Abnesti, but when two subjects connect, Jeff (Miles Teller) and Lizzy (Jurnee Smollett), things unravel.

What we thought: Simply put, Spiderhead is a totally OK movie to sort of watch. And if that's all Netflix is aiming for now, they've gotten their gold star for mediocrity. — Kristy Puchko, Deputy Entertainment Editor

How to watch: Spiderhead is now streaming on Netflix.

3. Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

A man and woman in their underwear sit in bed with the covers pulled up, looking at the camera.
Credit: Nick Wall / Hulu

Directed by Sophie Hyde and written by Katy Brand, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande sees Nancy Stokes (Emma Thompson), retired from teaching, embarking on a new personal adventure when she hires sex worker Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack).

What we thought: By foregrounding themes of desire and mutual pleasure with that of ongoing consent and acknowledgment of boundaries, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande spotlights the importance of simultaneously respecting yourself and others when it comes to sex.S.C.

How to watch: Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is now streaming on Hulu.

4. Top Gun

A man in navy uniform sings to a woman in a bar, surrounded by people.
Kelly McGillis, rudely not asked to be in "Top Gun: Maverick." Credit: Paramount / Kobal / Shutterstock

If you feel the need for speed enough to go and see the new Top Gun: Maverick, you're probably revisiting the original at home. Stacked with a Kenny Loggins-fuelled soundtrack and That Volleyball Scene, Tony Scott's 1986 elite fighter pilot action classic is taking streamers back to the danger zone.

What we thought (of Top Gun: Maverick not the OG): How do you bring an action hero from the '80s into the 2020s without him feeling like a fossil? Incredibly, the team behind Top Gun: Maverick has managed it. — K.P.

How to watch: Top Gun (the original) is now streaming on Prime Video and Paramount+.

5. Hustle

Two men sit in a basketball stand.
Juancho Hernangomez as Bo Cruz and Adam Sandler as Stanley Sugerman. Credit: Scott Yamano / Netflix

Adam Sandler's new Netflix movie, Hustle, has gone straight to the top of the queue for a lot of you. Sandler plays Stanley Sugerman, an NBA scout who travels to Spain and discovers Bo Cruz, played by Juancho Hernangómez, a talented player who has some baggage in his past. I's going to be more complicated than Stanley thought to bring Bo into his NBA team.

How to watch: Hustle is now streaming on Netflix.

6. Downton Abbey: A New Era

Four people in 1930s tennis gear walk across a lawn.
To the South of France! Credit: Ben Blackall

The modern world comes to Downton in the second Downton Abbey film, and indeed it has in the 1930s, with the next film-length instalment of Julian Fellowes' period drama bringing the franchise quite literally into A New Era.

What we thought: Downton Abbey: A New Era is the closing chapter of a beloved story that felt already reasonably resolved, but nonetheless should delight fans of the series who've been missing these characters in their lives.

How to watch: Downton Abbey: A New Era is now streaming on Netflix and Peacock.

7. The Man from Toronto

Two people in suits stand looking worried in a posh living room.
Credit: Netflix

Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson team up for Netflix's The Man from Toronto, as a sales consultant and an assassin who bump into each other at a holiday house and mistaken identity chaos ensues. Why not?

How to watch: The Man from Toronto is now streaming on Netflix.

8. Sing 2

Animated characters: pig, a koala, and a porcupine.
Credit: Universal Pictures

Written and directed by Garth Jennings, Sing 2 sees Matthew McConaughey return as koala Buster Moon, who is apparently doing well with his New Moon Theatre. He's got big plans to debut a new show at a flashy venue in the entertainment capital of Redshore City with his animal performer buddies — Rosita the pig (Reese Witherspoon), Ash the porcupine (Scarlett Johansson), Johnny the gorilla (Taron Egerton), Meena the elephant (Tori Kelly) and Gunter the pig (Nick Kroll). But in order to do it, they'll have to convince Bono (yes, Bono) to join their team.

How to watch: Sing 2 is now streaming on Netflix.

9. The Northman

A viking stands in the middle of a village raid, covered in blood.
Vengeance is afoot. Credit: Aidan Monaghan

Robert Eggers' Viking epic has hit streaming, with plenty of folks sitting down to embark upon the bloody Nordic tale of Prince Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) on his fate-determined quest to avenge the murder of his father, King Aurvandil War-Raven (Ethan Hawke) by his uncle Fjölnir (Claes Bang), and be reunited with his mother, Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman).

What we thought: With The Northman, Eggers explores the myths of Vikings in a historical epic that is star-stuffed, action-packed, and yet far from the crowd-pleasing likes of Gladiator. — K.P.

How to watch: The Northman is now streaming on Peacock.

10. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

A T-rex roars over a dead ankylosaurus while a man stands nearby.
Everyone's gotta catch up on WTF happened in the last one... Credit: Universal Pictures

With the latest chapter of the Jurassic World trilogy in cinemas, folks are returning to the second, streaming Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom this week. This is the one where the U.S. Senate is debating whether or not to save the dinosaurs from a catastrophic volcanic eruption on Isla Nublar, where Jurassic World closed in the first one after the shit hit the fan. It's gonna be one hell of a logistics exercise.

What we thought: Moment-to-moment, Jurassic World can be pleasantly odd. Chris Pratt gets to show off his physical comedy chops all too briefly, in a scene that seems inspired by Leonardo DiCaprio's Wolf of Wall Street crawl. And whatever else you think of the much-ballyhooed Indoraptor, there's no denying she's got a flair for drama. I swear she winked in one of her scenes. — Angie Han, former Deputy Entertainment Editor

How to watch: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is now streaming on fuboTV.

Posted on 2 July 2022 | 9:00 am

Get two 4K drones for under $150 during this Fourth of July sale

Grey drone over ocean background

TL;DR: Until July 5, the Alpha Z PRO 4K + Flying Fox 4K Wide Angle Dual Camera Drones Bundle is on sale for $139.99 with the code JULY20. It usually costs $398, so that's a discount of 65%.

Grab a friend and head outside, because the weather could be just right for some air time. We’ve talked about it before, but now it’s back. The Alpha Z PRO 4K + Flying Fox 4K Wide Angle Dual Camera Drones Bundle is on sale again, but this time if you buy during our 4th of July Sale, you’ll get these two drones for $139.99 when they’re normally $398, just use coupon code JULY20

This bundle comes with two impressive drones: the Alpha Z Pro and the Flying Fox. Both are sophisticated drones with 4-channel controls for ascending, descending, flying forward and backward, or side to side. You can also command them to do a 360-degree roll, which could look spectacular on camera. 

Both the Alpha Z and the FLying Fox have a front-facing 4K camera. The Alpha Z’s adjusts up to 90 degrees, and both can be used for real-time transmission of a first-person view. Connect your phone and get a live video of your drone’s acrobatics. The Alpha Z’s 720p bottom-facing camera could be a great way to capture stunning landscape shots from above, or you can see yourself in third person! 

Though the Alpha Z has more ways to record, the Flying Fox might be more fun when you’re in the air. This sleek silver drone has gesture control for rapid recording, a follow function, headless mode so you don’t have to keep track of which end is the front of your drone and it even has an altitude hold mode for stable recordings from above. 

For both drones, when your flight time is finished, just hit the one-key return and they’ll fly back to you on their own. They might have a little ways to go though. The Alpha Z has a possible flight distance of 300 feet and the Flying Fox can make it 320 feet. 

Normally $398, for this 4th of July Sale, the Alpha Z PRO 4K + Flying Fox 4K Wide Angle Dual Camera Drones Bundle is on sale for $139.99 with code JULY20 until July 5. 

Prices subject to change.

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Posted on 2 July 2022 | 9:00 am

Get extra savings this 4th of July on a DPN that protects your devices for life

White DPN device on wooden surface

TL;DR: As of July 2, the.Deeper Connect Pico Decentralized VPN & Cybersecurity Hardware + WiFi Adapter is on sale for $198.40 with the code JULY20, which will get you 20% off its regular price of $248.

Your personal online data may not be as secure as you hope it is. Just in 2021, hundreds of millions of people were affected by data breaches. Whether it’s something innocuous like a hacker snatching up an outdated email or something urgent like a stolen identity, data theft is a real concern. If you want to work on taking your cybersecurity into your own hands, the Deeper Connect Pico Decentralized VPN is a great way to start. This tiny piece of hardware can help protect your devices, and during our 4th of July Sale, it’s only $198.40 (Reg. $248) with code JULY20.

Deeper Connect Pico is a simple, lifetime solution to a problem you may not even realize is affecting you. It’s not just insidious hackers who are after your data. Companies track your movement online so they can advertise directly to you or sell it to someone who will. 

Have you ever Googled something only to find a product related to it advertised on your sidebar the next day? It’s that sort of thing the Deeper Connect is built to protect you from. 

The Pico is a DPN, which is a step up in security from a VPN. By using your own device as the server, you don’t have to rely on other servers that can log your data or be breached. You can still use all your local services as normal, browse streaming services without geographical restrictions, shop without worry, and you won’t even see ads anymore. 

Using your DPN is designed to be user-friendly and simple. Work through the brief configuration process, and then it’s just plug-and-play. Bring it with you when you travel for secure internet abroad. Use it for work to help your company’s secrets remain secure. You can even set up Blockchain mining. 

Usually, the Deeper Connect Pico would cost you $248, but during this 4th of July Sale, you can save 20% on sitewide purchases of $100 or more, making it only $198.40 with coupon code JULY20. Better hurry though because this sale ends July 5. 

Prices subject to change.

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Posted on 2 July 2022 | 9:00 am

Sign up to Dollar Flight Club for a chance to win £4,000 towards your next trip

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TL;DR: A lifetime subscription to Dollar Flight Club Premium Plus+ is on sale for £81.55, saving you 94% on list price.

Hunting for the best travel deals can be exhausting. You have to constantly be attached to a screen, scouring every site you can think of to compare costs. It’s a lot for someone who isn’t a professional deal hunter. That’s why you should leave it up to Dollar Flight Club instead.

Dollar Flight Club (DFC) does the heavy lifting for you when it comes to shopping for travel deals. All you have to do is add your home airports and stay on top of your email inbox. DFC will alert you to the best deals from your home airports, potentially helping you save hundreds of pounds on your dream holiday.

With a lifetime subscription to the Premium Plus Plan, you’ll get access to all the best domestic deals, international deals, and mistake fares from your home airports in Business, Premium Economy, and Economy Class, perks and discounts up to 50% off from DFC’s partners (including Babbel, Acanela Expeditions, Huckberry, and more), access to a wide variety of insightful travel tips, and instant alerts, so you can book whenever and wherever.

It’s regularly £1,400 for a lifetime subscription — which could pay for itself pretty quickly, as Dollar Flight Club can save you up to £1,000 on flight deals. But for a limited time, you can save even more and sign up for only £81.55. When you purchase this deal, you’ll even get five entries for a chance to win £4,000 towards flights, hotels, food, and more on your next adventure. That £4,000 can go a long way if you're already saving money toward your flight with DFC.

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Posted on 2 July 2022 | 4:00 am

'Wordle' today: Get the answer, hints for July 2

Wordle game displayed on a smartphone.

New day, new Wordle, y'all.

While it's always the most fun to nail it down yourself, sometimes you just get stuck — and that's where we come in.

The answer to the July 2 Wordle can be found at the end of this article, with the spoiler clearly signposted, or you can make your way down in a more leisurely fashion for a few tips, gentle hints, and strategies to help you every day.

Who made Wordle? Where did Wordle come from?

Wordle's sudden explosion at the end of 2021 led to a round of press focused on its creator. Former Reddit engineer Josh Wardle actually came up with the game in 2021 as a private exercise for him and his word game-loving partner. It eventually became a staple of their family WhatsApp messaging, and that's when Wardle started to suspect he might have something special enough to merit a wider release.

Thousands of people around the globe now play this game each day, and fans have even created alternatives to Wordle inspired by the original format. This includes music identification game Heardle, Hollywood nerd faves Actorle and Framed, and variations like Dordle and Quordle that make you guess multiple words at once.

Not the day you're after? You'll find the Wordle answer for July 1 here.

More Wordle: Here are hints and the answer for the July 3 Wordle.

What's the best Wordle starting word?

We have some ideas to help you pick the perfect first move (or as close to perfect as you can get without just magically guessing the exact right word). Such tips include choosing a word with at least two different vowels in it, plus a few common consonants such as S, T, R, or N.

What happened to the Wordle archive?

While you could once play the entire archive of past puzzles, the archive was taken down at the request of the New York Times, according to the site.

Is Wordle getting harder?

If you've been finding Wordle too easy, there is a Hard Mode you can enable to give yourself more of a challenge. But unless you activate this mode, we can assure you that Wordle isn't getting harder

Why are there two different Wordle answers some days?

The whole point of Wordle is that everyone's solving the same puzzle, with the same answer, no matter where you are in the world. However, occasionally the puzzle game will accept two different correct solutions on the same day, in apparent defiance of Wordle law.

This aberration is due to changes the New York Times began making after it acquired Wordle earlier this year. To make sure you're always getting the same puzzle as everyone else, refresh your browser before you play — don't worry, the site will keep your streak.

A subtle hint for the July 2 Wordle answer:

It's a noun.

Wordle today is a 5-letter word that starts with...

...the letter E.

What's the answer to Wordle on July 2?


We'll finally tell you the answer.



Reporting by Caitlin Welsh, Amanda Yeo and Adam Rosenberg contributed to this article.

Posted on 2 July 2022 | 2:33 am

The 19 best new podcasts of 2022, so far

a man listens in happily to podcasts playing over his headphones

So far, the podcasting craze from the past few years is proving stronger than ever in 2022.

Based on popularity trends observed in 2021, consumer data company Statista even predicts that the industry will see tens of millions more podcast listeners in the years to come, forecasting approximately 160 million by 2023. But with so many new releases clamoring to meet that growing demand, you'll also need some guidance on which new audio journeys are worth your time.

Sure, we might've officially lost one longtime favorite podcast this year, with the remaining co-hosts of Reply All finally calling it quits back in May. But we also gained quite a lot of amazing newcomers.

While true crime once again dominates the digital airwaves, we've curated a diverse selection of new podcasts across all genres for you to check out. Please note: only brand spanking new podcasts or new seasons and limited series' released after December 2021 were considered eligible for our list. From Serial Productions' investigative journalism with a personal touch, or hard-hitting and vital reporting on the January 6 insurrection, to an audio virtual dating show from PRX, and even a fictional story about real-world superhero vigilantes — you'll find yourself binging these exceptional shows back-to-back if you're not careful.

1. Ghost Church

You may remember comedian/podcaster Jamie Loftus from any one of her previously critically acclaimed one-off shows, like 2019's My Year in Mensa, 2020's Lolita Podcast (which we loved), and 2021's Aack Cast. But the most recent, Ghost Church, is one of her weirdest, wildest, and most welcoming oddity deep dives yet.

This time, Loftus travels around America to chronicle the century-old religion called spiritualism, talking to modern-day believers of this Christian offshoot born out of old-timey seances put on by a pair of young twins who pretended to commune with the dead. Ghost Church displays just how much Loftus's unique podcasting craft has matured, with not only better storytelling and production, but also a deeper journalistic approach. While just as delightfully voice-y as previous podcasts, Loftus leaves a lot more room for the listener to draw their own conclusions. In contrast to My Year in Mensa, it's very much not about infiltrating and poking fun at a group of people. Like all of Loftus' oeuvre, Ghost Church instead explodes a very niche topic into a world of broader themes, tackling everything from grief, to religion, science, and existentialism.

2. Kuper Island

At the time of this article's publication, only half of this eight-part CBC series detailing the genocidal horrors suffered by the children forced to attend Canada's Catholic-run Kuper Island Indian Residential School has been released. But we're already prepared to call it one of the most vital listens of 2020. As the first episode's title states, this Vancouver institution tore first nation children from their families and communities, and threw them into a school they called Alcatraz. Only ceasing operations in 1975, it inflicted unimaginable torture on the indigenous students, many of whom died by suicide, or died trying to escape, or of starvation, disease, and mistreatment. The survivors interviewed describe enduring a constant onslaught of physical and emotional abuse, including sexual assault.

Though the podcast focuses on the stories of four students, one of whom did not survive the atrocities, host Duncan McCue also exposes the ripple effect this haunting trauma has had on every generation of first nation peoples since. Bringing not only hard-hitting reporting, McCue also delivers powerful personal storytelling through his own connection to the school as the son of a man who survived it.

This is far from an easy listen, but it also captures so much more than the pain and suffering that imperialist empires across the Americas inflicted upon this land's native peoples. There is also an abundance of collective communal resilience too, and an unbreakable spirit, seen in the way the story's subjects learn to find some semblance of peace by giving voice to — rather than burying — these irredeemable atrocities.

3. This is Dating

The pandemic sent many people's dating lives into freefall. But PRX's delightful, socially-distanced blind dating podcast This is Dating is here to catch that death spiral and send you back out there with hope in your heart. Hosts (match-makers?) Hiwote Getaneh and Jesse Baker gently guide romance seekers, often starting with relationship coach Logan Ury before sending them on a series of recorded first dates. While the couples do their thing, the co-hosts help steer the conversations when needed. Part elevated Netflix reality dating show, part Esther Perrel therapy session, This is Dating is not only riveting entertainment for all, but a genuinely heartening reflection of the modern dating scene, with lots of vulnerable moments and valuable lessons for us all.

4. Harsh Reality

You may have missed the 2004 reality TV show There's Something About Miriam — but you cannot miss this Wondery series' deep dive on its impact. The premise of the show was simple and cruel: Six cis male contestants competed for the affections of the gorgeous Miriam Rivera without knowing she was trans, until the producers revealed the information for maximum dramatic effect. An onslaught of abuse toward Miriam followed from the public, media, show contestants, and callous reality TV producers. Just about everyone lost all human dignity in the process, except that is for the ever-glamorous Miriam, who took it all in stride while never losing sight of her dream to become a star.

As the star of the first dating reality TV show centered on a trans woman, Miriam represented a lot of different thing to a lot of different folks. For mainstream heteronormative society, she was their earliest (if not first) intimate exposure to a trans person. In the trans community, she was a double-edged sword of long overdue representation steeped in a world of transphobia. But what podcast host Trace Lysette so artfully does in this series is focus on Miriam not only as a star or pioneering TV personality, but as a human being. Filled with gut-wrenching and sobering confrontations with transmisogyny as much as joyous celebrations of her glamorousness, Harsh Reality is a touching portrait of a woman subjected to some of the worst that exploitative 2000s TV had to offer. [From our Best Podcasts to Binge roundup]

5. Cover Story, Season 1: Power Trip

Season 1 of New York magazine's investigative podcast series (hosted by journalist iO Tillett Wright) is quite the trip — literally. Tackling the explosive mainstream attention that psychedelic therapy has been receiving over the past several years, the show's rigorous reporting brings some much-needed skepticism to the topic. The first half of the season dives into the wild west of the movement's early days as an underground, worldwide operation. You hear the shocking stories of multiple psychedelic therapy advocates-turned-survivors (including co-host Lily Kay Ross), whose hopeful belief in a possible cure for PTSD left them vulnerable to emotional and sexual abuse from leaders. While the first half is chilling enough, the second posits that a dangerously unquestioning push for these experimental psychological treatments to be integrated into legitimate institutions as quickly as possible threatens to subject even more to similar traumas.

6. Sympathy Pains

You probably recognize host and science journalist Laura Beil from her other hit podcast, Dr. Death, in which she tackles cases that straddle the intersection between medicine and true crime. Her new six-part series Sympathy Pains tells the equally riveting, jaw-dropping, and twisted tale of a scammer who abuses not only the medical system but the goodwill of vulnerable folks who believe her convoluted lies. For decades, Sarah Delashmit went to incredible lengths to infiltrate tight-knit support systems across a multitude of chronic illness and disability communities. From faking multiple terminal cancers, disabilities like muscular dystrophy, as well as a multitude of miscarriages, infant deaths, and much more — Delashmit's con robbed her victims of something far more personal than money. By preying on the best intentions of people who were already suffering, she robbed many of their trust in humanity and (in some cases) most treasured relationships. While stories of Munchausen's syndrome aren't new, you've probably never heard one quite as elaborate and far-reaching as this one.

7. Trojan Horse Affair

Continuing Serial Productions' reputation for exposing the universal poignance behind a seemingly self-contained true story, The Trojan Horse Affair investigates a local school board scandal that became an international news story. In Birmingham, England in 2013, an anonymous letter was delivered to a city counselor that claimed to contain documents detailing an elaborate Islamic extremist plot to infiltrate British school systems. The whole town was shocked by the allegations the letter levied against previously beloved administrators and community leaders who had helped a number of Muslim-majority schools begin to excel. Following the ouster of those accused administrators after the ensuing moral panic, media frenzy, and counterterrorism investigation, something didn't sit right with Birmingham local and aspiring journalist Hamza Syed.

Now, with S-Town's Brian Reed at his side, Syed dives back in to search for the answer to a nagging mystery no one ever bothered solving back in 2013: Who sent the Trojan Horse letter? The revealing eight-parter is a journey of inconvenient truths, shocking twists, and brave commitment to grappling with all the messy, multi-pronged realities of living with Islamophobia, xenophobia, and the pressure to assimilate.

8. Will Be Wild

The insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, left many asking the same question: How could this happen? This eight-parter by Pineapple Studios and Wondery does an excellent and deeply compelling job of answering that exact question. Hosts Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz bring a sense of humanity to their coverage of the folks who were closest to the historic attack. Interviews range from the concerned family members who warned the FBI about the potential violence they were hearing about, to the government officials who listened and tried to sound alarms about the domestic terror threat to even some Trump supporters who attended the rally. If you think you've heard it all when it comes to this once-in-a-lifetime news story, Will Be Wild will reveal just how much we still need to learn about what happened that day — and what it means for the future of American democracy. [From our Best Podcasts to Binge roundup]

9. Normal Gossip

Admit it: We all live for the drama, at least a little. Luckily, this public service of a podcast is here to serve us all the drama that doesn't have anything to do with us. On each episode of Normal Gossip, host Kelsey McKinney is joined by a roster of hilarious guests, including ICYMI's Rachel Hampton and the Scam Goddess herself Laci Mosley. Both take generous sips of the spilled tea from a listener-submitted (anonymized) piece of gossip from the lives of total strangers. Check your guilt at the door, because this pure podcasting pleasure can even educate listeners on the historic importance of gossip as a whisper network — while also saying "fuck it" and just having some harmless, petty fun.

10. Sorry About The Kid

When a police car accidentally hit and killed Alex McKinnon's kid brother three decades ago, he was too young to process the trauma of losing his favorite person. So the young grieving boy resorted to burying those painful memories instead, not realizing that by doing so he also inadvertently started burying all the good memories of his brother too. As an adult — and with the help of therapy — McKinnon now seeks to regain a sense of the brother he fears forgetting more of with every passing year. In this gut-wrenching four-parter, he interviews everyone from his therapist to his parents and friends to finally face the grief he's outrun since childhood.

11. Wild Things

Back in 2003, the story of German-born magician Roy (from the iconic Siegfried & Roy duo) getting fatally attacked by one of his own tigers during a live Las Vegas performance took over the news cycle. But decades later, when journalist Steven Leckart did an investigative piece into all the unanswered questions left in the wake of the infamous incident, he discovered just how much we weren't told about what happened that night. This riveting eight-part exposé tries to find the truth hidden behind all the illusions, taking listeners through shocking discoveries revealed through interviews with close collaborates, case investigators, and even witnesses to that awful night in question.

12. Sweet Bobby

For years, radio presenter Kirat thought she was part of a tragically beautiful love story for the ages. Sure, her long-distance relationship with a good-looking doctor named Bobby had its ups and downs — namely, the litany of medical emergencies and illnesses that kept them physically separated. But nothing prepared her (and now her listeners) for the unbelievable truth behind the web of lies that was the most important romantic relationship of her life. We won't say much else to avoid the risk of spoiling. But trust us: You'll want to stick around for the end of this catfishing story to end all catfishing stories. Like Sympathy Pains, Sweet Bobby is part of a refreshing new true crime podcast trend that examines cons that feel criminal, but that the law unfortunately cannot help make right. There's no easy path to justice, other than perhaps to shed light on the irreparable damage the perpetrators have caused.

13. It's Lit

Let's be honest: Literature — from book clubs to publishing — tends to gatekeep far too many people of color from nurturing their love of reading. But those who've been kept out are now finding more and more ways to break through the walls of white literary snobbery. The It's Lit! podcast (hosted by Princess Weekes, an assistant editor at The Mary Sue) is the podcast spin-off of the popular PBS YouTube series by the same name. Covering a broad scope of genres, it offers refreshingly invigorating takes and far more relatable perspectives to literary discourse. The guests (who include Ibi Ziboi and Mikki Kendall) and conversations cover much of what traditional literary circles too often leave out (like whether "the classics fail us" or why diverse young adult fiction is so important), creating a bookish space that's as inviting as it is enthralling. [From our Best Podcasts for Writers roundup]

14. Conviction: Season 3, The Disappearance of Nuseiba Hasan

Gimlet's Conviction has never shied away from tough cases that reveal much larger, uglier realities about our society and culture. But Season 3 feels particularly poignant, personal, and unflinching, as investigative reporter Habiba Nosheen seeks to solve a cold case where a young Jordanian-Canadian woman went missing in 2006 under suspicious circumstances. The journalist finds herself enlisted by none other than the grown-up daughter who was left behind by the sudden disappearance of Nuseiba Hasan, and both appear equally determined to uncover the truth of this vanished but not forgotten mother.

15. The Super Hero Complex

With the fiction podcast Super Hero Complex, the recent golden age of realist superhero satires comes to audio storytelling. While far more PG than either Deadpool or Prime Video's The Boys, all deconstruct the modern superhero craze in similar ways.

In the world of The Super Hero Complex (produced by Novel), superpowers may not be real, but the phenomenon of masked vigilantes who take on crime is growing in popularity anyway. Journalist David Weinberg examines what this trend says about us as Americans by profiling the most famous self-declared heroes of all: Seatle's Phoenix Jones. Some say he's the only real-life superhero the world's ever known, while others like the police (and even members of his own team) point to drug charges that reveal a larger fraud behind his persona. With some of the best, most organic performances in fictional podcasting to date, The Super Hero Complex is well worth a listen even for folks who don't usually go for this genre.

16. Chameleon Season 3: Wild Boys

Like a lot of the best true crime podcasts, Wild Boys welcomes listeners to join the host on a journey to unpack the truth behind a real-life story that they're personally connected to. That's the case for comedian and journalist Sam Mullins, who returns to his small hometown in Canada to understand the bizarre and curious incident that rocked residents back in 2003. When two extremely emaciated young brothers appeared in town out of nowhere, they told the well-intentioned locals who took them in that they'd been kicked out of their very reclusive family's home located deep in the woods. But as time went on, and officials began to question this shocking tale in which parents kept their kids in complete isolation from modern society, a far sadder secret is revealed through their lies.

17. Truthers: Tiffany Dover Is Dead

NBC News reporter Brandy Zadrozny has been on the frontlines of the viral misinformation and disinformation campaigns surrounding QAnon for years now. In this five-part series with an intentionally provocative title, Zadrozny uses those skills to tackle one specific monstrosity from the swamp of internet falsehoods, by disproving a favorite conspiracy theory of vaccine "truthers." Tiffany Dover was just a regular nurse from Tennessee back in December 2020, when she became one of the first healthcare workers to receive the new COVID-19 vaccine on live TV. But after Dover briefly fainted (only to then explain to those viewers moments later that it was a harmless byproduct of an unrelated medical condition), she stopped being a person and instead became a chess piece in QAnoners' unwinnable conspiratorial game. [From our Best Tech Podcasts roundup]

18. Broken Doors

Since the murder of Breonna Taylor (and the 2020 social justice uprisings her death helped spark), researchers and advocates for police reform have pointed to the enormous issue of no-knock warrants. In an award-winning database visualization series compiling the appalling statistics behind police shootings in America since 2015, the Washington Post found another chilling development in this trend: Increasingly, police are relying on these no-knock warrants to execute violent searches on private citizens' homes with little need for probable cause. As was the case with Taylor, these human rights violations can end fatally. Other victims accuse corrupt departments of using these searches for pure monetary profit. In this jaw-dropping six-part investigative series, reporters Jenn Abelson and Nicole Dungca shine a light on what this egregious abuse of power looks like through interviews with victims, their families, and whistleblowers from within the American justice system.

19. Violating Community Guidelines with Brittany Broski and Sarah Schauer

Podcasts from influencers are like the brightest stars in the sky: They tend to burn out the fastest. But unlike other influencer duos' experiments with podcasting, like H3H3'S Ethan Klein and Trisha Paytas' doomed Frenemies, this one is co-hosted by online celebrities with a much more stable bond. Brittany Broski (who many remember from the viral Kombucha TikTok) and Sarah Schauer describe themselves as "internet-hardened succubabes," and bring their front seats to the chaotic mess of the online world to their new podcast. Violating Community Guidelines covers everything from thirst traps to AI influencers with a personable casualness rather than expertise. The vibes are spot on, though be warned that this is more of deviating two-hour-long hangout sesh rather than a highly edited production. [From our Best Tech Podcasts roundup]

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 11:00 pm

The 20 most chilling true crime documentaries on HBO Max

Images from true crime documentaries on HBO Max

Can't get enough of true-crime tales? HBO Max has you covered with a wealth of documentaries that explore curious cases, horrendous homicides, outrageous criminals, and much, much more.

With so many options, how do you know which true crime doc is your next must-see? We've scoured the lot to select the 20 best true crime documentaries on HBO Max. In the mix are grim recountings of serial killer sprees, thought-provoking investigations into polarizing charges, empathetic explorations into the lives of victims, and even some surprisingly whimsical tales of true crime. Each one offers a chance to dive into a rabbit hole of armchair psychology, amateur sleuthing, and nonfiction nightmares.

Here are the 20 most gripping true crime projects, both TV series and films, now streaming on HBO Max.

1. The Lady and the Dale

Elizabeth Carmichael in "The Lady and the Dale."
The Lady and the Dale Credit: Courtesy of hbo

HBO has a library of sensational true crime offerings, yet this 2021 mini-series is uniquely fascinating. Directors Nick Cammilleri and Zackary Drucker unfurl the times and trials of Elizabeth Carmichael, who was not only a nationally recognized automobile executive and infamous con artist, but also a wife, mother, and transgender trailblazer.

For decades, her story has been framed by those who despise her, resulting in a narrative rife with speculation and transphobia. In this challenging and boldly funny four-episode documentary mini-series, Carmichael’s story is reclaimed by balancing the perspective of her haters with in-depth interviews with those who knew her best. With animated photography, a playful soundtrack, and a cheeky sense of adventure, The Lady and The Dale aims not only to showcase the complexity of the late Carmichael, but also to capture her spirit. All this makes for a watch that is surprising, thrilling, and unforgettable.*Kristy Puchko, Deputy Entertainment Editor

How to watch: The Lady and the Dale is streaming on HBO Max.

2. Mommy Dead and Dearest

Documentarian and true crime heavy hitter Erin Lee Carr — whose engrossing works appear multiple times on this list — covers the bizarre murder of Dee Dee Blanchard in Mommy Dead and Dearest. The 2017 film tells the story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, a 19-year-old victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, who after a lifetime of abuse conspired to murder her mother in 2015.

Some viewers will recognize the case from its serialized dramatization in Hulu's The Act, but Carr's telling offers a more nuanced look at the fact pattern. It's a flummoxing conundrum of justice that sees mother and daughter trade places as victim and attacker, and raises serious questions about the criminal justice system's ability to hand down levelheaded verdicts in morally complicated cases. — Alison Foreman, Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: Mommy Dead and Dearest is now streaming on HBO Max.

3. Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop

A still from The Cheshire Murders
Best true crime documentaries on HBO Max Credit: hbo

Another project from director Erin Lee Carr, Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop follows the strange case of former NYPD officer Gilberto Valle.

In 2012, Valle was arrested for conspiring to kidnap, rape, kill, and cannibalize women after his wife discovered hundreds of internet chat messages describing the acts in his search history. The apparent fetish seemed to go beyond hypothetical imagery, when Valle began improperly accessing the National Crime Information Center database through his NYPD credentials and drawing up comprehensive abduction plans for women he actually knew.

The documentary navigates the sticky legal area deftly, posing fascinating questions about what Valle's case means for the future of crime in the digital age. — A.F.

How to watch: Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop is now streaming on HBO Max.

4. Mind over Murder

The story of the Beatrice Six is so full of twists, turns, and uncomfortable truths that it can be difficult to know who to believe. It all began in 1985, when beloved grandmother Helen Wilson was murdered in her home. Six suspects would be collected by local police. Five would give confessions. But decades later, when DNA evidence can't prove a single one of them was in Wilson's home, the case and the community are thrown into spin.

Documentarian Nanfu Wang (One Child Nation) speaks with members of the Beatrice Six, the police force that targeted them, and the surviving family members of Helen Wilson to investigate how this case was horrendously mishandled and its impact 35 years later. Moreover, the six-part mini-series follows a local theater production that uses transcripts from every step of the case to try to make sense of this hometown horror. The result is a documentary mini-series that is rivetingly dedicated not only to the truth but also to reclaiming the humanity of all of the victims of this horrendous miscarriage of justice. —K.P.

How to watch: Mind over Murder is now streaming on HBO Max.

5. The Cheshire Murders

Adnan Syed in a football uniform.
Best true crime documentaries on HBO Max Credit: hbo max

Directed and produced by Kate Davis and David Heilbroner, The Cheshire Murders chronicles a horrific home invasion that devastated a small town in Connecticut. In the early hours of July 23, 2007, two men entered a suburban residence and began a campaign of terror against a family of four that left only father Dr. William Petit alive. It’s a truly disturbing account, which includes graphic descriptions of child rape and torture.

This project is sometimes regarded as being staunchly in favor of the death penalty, featuring damning interviews with the attackers' families actually recommending the two convicted men be sentenced to death. However, it also offers a disturbing look at the alarming lack of transparency from police regarding the perpetrators' arrests and trials. — A.F.

How to watch: The Cheshire Murders is now streaming on HBO Max.

6. There's Something Wrong with Aunt Diane

On July 26, 2009, Diane Schuler traveled 1.7 miles in the wrong direction on the Taconic State Parkway in upstate New York. When her minivan collided head-on with an SUV, she, her daughter, three of her nieces, and all of the passengers in the other vehicle died.

In director Liz Garbus's There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane, Schuler's family members, witnesses, and investigators attempt to make sense of the bizarre decisions Schuler made that day. Her blood alcohol content was reportedly .19% at the time of the collision, but Schuler had no history of alcoholism and had appeared sober to witnesses shortly beforehand. Garbus prioritizes deep and complex analysis over a tidy narrative in her take on the case. It's a sympathetic but truthful account that will leave you with plenty to chew over. — A.F.

How to watch: There's Something Wrong with Aunt Diane is now streaming on HBO Max.

7. Beware the Slenderman

If you’re a regular true crime fan, chances are you already know everything there is to know about the so-called "Slenderman stabbing." But uh, if you don't? Buckle way, way up.

In this haunting documentary from director Irene Taylor Brodsky, we revisit the 2014 attempted murder of 12-year-old Payton Leutner. The attack was carried out by two other 12-year-old girls, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, who told Wisconsin authorities they attacked their friend in an effort to impress the online character Slenderman. The film offers a chilling glimpse into the sometimes warped interactions between adolescent minds and the internet that's imperfect to say the least, but a unique watch. Some of these interviews really stick with you. — A.F.

How to watch: Beware the Slenderman is now streaming on HBO Max.

8. The Case Against Adnan Syed

Michelle Carter in court.
The Case Against Adnan Syed Credit: Courtesy of hbo max

Directed by Academy Award nominee Amy Berg, The Case Against Adnan Syed can be understood and appreciated as a standalone project. But for most viewers, the four-part docuseries serves as a companion piece to the watershed Serial podcast, which brought the murder of Baltimore County high school student Hae Min Lee to international attention in 2014.

The series explores the media fervor brought on by the podcast's popularity, as well as recounts the story from investigation through the 2016 post-conviction relief hearing of Adnan Syed, the man convicted of the murder. All told, the project isn't likely to change your mind about the case, but it offers new insights and evidence worth your (and possibly the court's) attention. — A.F.

How to watch: The Case Against Adnan Syed is now streaming on HBO Max.

9. Class Action Park

The infamous Cannonball loop waterslide, which features a full, ill-advised loop in its design.
Credit: HBO Max

Welcome to Action Park! This New Jersey amusement and water park, built by former Wall Street tycoon Gene Mulvihill, was home to attractions such as Cannonball Loop and the Alpine Slide. It was also severely mismanaged and the cause of many injuries and deaths. Class Action Park reveals just how insane the story behind Action Park was, from the park’s madcap rides to Mulvihill’s shady tactics for keeping his venture afloat.

Through a mixture of fun animation and interviews with comedians who attended Action Park as children, Class Action Park keeps things light and humorous. However, it still exercises proper seriousness and restraint when discussing the park’s fatalities. Overall Class Action Park is a wild documentary about a truly wild place - you’ll come for the descriptions of the insane rides and stay for the nuanced exploration of nostalgia and childhood in the 1980s.*Belen Edwards, Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: Class Action Park is now streaming on HBO Max.

SEE ALSO: The 15 best documentaries streaming on HBO Max to learn something new

10. The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

Efforts to put suspected serial killer Robert Durst behind bars have spanned decades. In The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, filmmaker Andrew Jarecki recaps the chillingly charmed life of the New York real estate heir, who in 2021 is just now standing trial for the 2000 murder of Susan Berman. Berman is one of three victims tied to Durst; he is also accused of having killed his first wife Kathleen McCormack in 1982 and his neighbor Morris Black in 2001.

Against the advice of his attorneys, Durst actively participated in the creation of the 2014 docuseries. Across six episodes, Durst sits down with Jarecki for a series of disturbing interviews, a number of which have since been treated as evidence in the continued prosecution of Durst. As far as portraits of truly terrible people go, The Jinx remains one of the most horrific. — A.F.

How to watch: The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst is now streaming on HBO Max.

11. Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn

Footage of cops escorting a handcuffed boy.
Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn Credit: Courtesy of HBO

The murder of Yusuf Hawkins was a hate crime, no question. But in Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn, director Muta'Ali entertains the other theories that were considered in the 1989 shooting death of the Black 16-year-old just enough for you to understand the power of the white narrative Hawkins' family was up against when seeking justice.

Thoughtful and well-paced, the 2020 documentary goes beyond the tragic facts of this death to steadily reveal the surrounding culture of racism in New York City during the late '80s and early '90s that made so many like it possible. It's a heartbreaking true crime entry, but a crucial one. — A.F.

How to watch: Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn is now streaming on HBO Max.

12. Who Killed Garrett Phillips?

The 2011 death of Garrett Phillips spurred a multitude of tragedies. Not only did a New York family lose their 12-year-old son in a senseless act of violence, but the subsequent investigation left a Black man suffering greatly under a legal system ravaged by racial bias.

Another true crime film from director Liz Garbus (There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane), Who Killed Garrett Phillips? relentlessly seeks justice on both fronts. Asking the right questions at the just the right times, Garbus produces a compelling narrative that is at once an indictment of police failings and a rallying cry for identifying the real killer. — A.F.

How to watch: Who Killed Garrett Phillips? is now streaming on HBO Max.

13. Atlanta's Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children

Director Sam Pollard tackles one of the most troubling crime trends in American history in Atlanta's Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children. Between 1979 and 1981, at least 30 Black children were abducted and murdered. But prosecutors' decision to assign all of those deaths to the convicted serial killer Wayne Williams disturbed many who doubted his involvement every case.

Over five episodes, Pollard tracks the story from the beginning of the killings to the reopening of the investigation in 2019. It's a comprehensive look at the insidious racism that has plagued Atlanta policing for decades, that only grows in importance. The tragedy of these cases, however, is that the decision to prematurely close them in the '80s may mean they're unsolvable now. — A.F.

How to watch: Atlanta's Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children is now streaming on HBO Max.

14. I Love You, Now Die

A business man at a desk
I Love You, Now Die Credit: Courtesy of HBO

Another riveting true crime project from Erin Lee Carr, I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth vs. Michelle Carter is a two-part look at one of the most senseless crimes of the modern age. On July 13, 2014, 18-year-old Conrad Roy died by suicide in a Kmart parking lot in Massachusetts. His girlfriend, 19-year-old Michelle Carter, not only knew of her boyfriend's plan to die by carbon monoxide poisoning, but also actively encouraged him to go through with it in a series of bewildering text messages that would later land her in court on charges of involuntary manslaughter.

The series follows Carter's efforts to prove her innocence, posing fascinating questions about what crimes can be committed online. This one is tough viewing, both for its heart-wrenching depiction of Roy's mental health crisis and for the helplessness one feels in knowing Roy could have been saved if Carter had interceded. But if you've watched The Girl From Plainville, the docu-drama series inspired by these true crime events, then I Love You, Now Die might well be a must-see.— A.F.

How to watch: I Love You, Now Die is now streaming on HBO Max.

15. The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley

Enter the absolutely unreal delusion of disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes in The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley. Academy Award winner Alex Gibney walks viewers through the (alleged) scam concocted by the ex-CEO, which not only garnered the support of numerous high-profile investors but even saw its entirely fake technology — a blood-testing device called "Edison" — begin a pseudo rollout in actual pharmacies.

Repurposing some incredible footage of Holmes intended for use in a Theranos advertising campaign, Gibney renders a stunning portrait of a (again, alleged) con artist. The result is a mesmerizing watch that will make you question how easy you'd be to fool when faced with one of the most notorious liars of the 21st century. — A.F.

How to watch: The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley is now streaming on HBO Max.

16. Undercurrent: The Disappearance of Kim Wall

Lt. Commander Ditte Dyreborg, Danish Navy looking at drawings of the Submarine UC3 Nautilus
Credit: HBO Max

The story of Denmark's notorious "submarine" case is rife with sensational elements, including snuff films, a heinous murder, an eccentric entrepreneur, and his personal submarine. However, documentarian Erin Lee Carr ushers her audience past the tabloid fodder, cutting through the misogynistic headlines to rediscover Kim Wall, an intrepid reporter who lost her life while on an assignment that should have been breezy, not deadly.

This two-part limited series speaks with Wall's friends and colleagues, resurrecting her story and revealing her legacy. Meanwhile, a no-nonsense submarine expert and a conflicted biographer detail how the alibi of accused killer Peter Madsen fell apart, uncovering the horrifying depths of his ruthless ambition. More than a tale of tragedy, Undercurrent explores the humanity in journalism and the horrors of toxic masculinity. — K.P.

How to watch: Undercurrent: The Disappearance of Kim Wall is now streaming on HBO Max.

SEE ALSO: It was tough, but we found the 20 best movies on HBO Max

17. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills

A handcuffed boy is escorted by police
Credit: hbo

This 1996 documentary from HBO was the first of many to question the verdict reached in the infamous case of Arkansas' West Memphis Three. And while there's plenty you'll want to research about the case after seeing the movie — seriously, you've got 25 years of legal developments that aren't accounted for here — it remains one of the most well-regarded perspectives on the disturbing crime available, not to mention an utterly transfixing viewing experience.

On May 5, 1993, three 8-year-old boys were found dead and mutilated in a wooded area known as Robin Hood Hills. Local teenagers Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr., and Jason Baldwin were soon identified as prime suspects in the crime, but their connections to the murders were flimsy. Directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky's Paradise Lost is an essential true crime watch that always strikes a nerve. — A.F.

How to watch: Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills is now streaming on HBO Max.

18. Behind Closed Doors

The double homicide of 13-year-old Aarushi Talwar and her family's servant 45-year-old Hemraj Banjade remains a world-shaking event for the people of Noida, India.

In Behind Closed Doors, documentarian P.A. Carter takes viewers into the heart of the media storm that erupted when the two were found dead in 2008. Over two parts, Carter interviews those closest to the case about everything from the small details needed to nab the killer to the broader societal issues that made this particular investigation so tumultuous. It's a particularly intriguing true crime entry, considering it allows for a broader discussion of how justice is or isn't carried out internationally in a genre typically dominated by western audiences. — A.F.

How to watch: Behind Closed Doors is now streaming on HBO Max.

19. I'll Be Gone in the Dark

Michelle McNamara looking at herself in a mirror
Credit: HBO Max

One of the best portraits of a true crime writer to date, director Liz Garbus's I'll Be Gone in the Dark serves as both a look into the terrifying Golden State Killer (also known as the "Original Night Stalker" and "East Area Rapist") and the woman who would stop at nothing to identify him.

Michelle McNamara, who died suddenly in 2016 leaving behind a daughter and her husband Patton Oswalt, dedicated years of her life to finding the man responsible for a string of murders, rapes, and burglaries across California between 1973 and 1986, despite not knowing anyone directly impacted by his crimes. A book chronicling her work, also titled I'll Be Gone in the Dark, was released posthumously and the docuseries serves as a sort of companion piece — filled with loving remembrances and overwhelming admiration for McNamara.

As far as true crime "fans" go, McNamara was the best of us. Her unrelenting passion for justice leaps from the page and screen even now, and will serve as an inspiration always. — A.F.

How to watch: I'll Be Gone in the Dark is now streaming on HBO Max.

20. McMillions

A man in a suit sits at a conference table.
McMillions Credit: Courtesy of HBO

For more than a decade starting in 1989, a veritable army of crooks and stooges bilked McDonald's out of $24 million worth of winnings from its annual McDonald's Monopoly sweepstakes. It was such a sprawling scheme that HBO turned it into a documentary miniseries directed by James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte. Across six episodes, the fascinating and frequently hilarious doc introduces us to colorful characters on both sides of the law as it digs into the particulars of the criminal enterprise and how it eventually fell apart.

By the time it's all over, you'll know the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the historic McDonald's Monopoly fraud case. But you'll also be left with plenty of questions about what McMillions' most memorable character, FBI Agent Doug Matthews, isn't telling us. — Adam Rosenberg, Senior Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: McMillions is now streaming on HBO Max.

Asterisks (*) indicate the entry description comes from a previous Mashable streaming list.

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 10:36 pm

The best laptop deals as of July 1: The early Prime Day deals are here

People using Apple MacBook Pro

UPDATE: Jul. 1, 2022, 1:25 p.m. EDT This list has been updated to reflect pricing and availability as of July 1.

What's better than a great laptop? A great laptop that's cheap. Nowadays, even budget machines can pack the punch to carry you through whatever's on your to-do list, whether it's work, watching Netflix, or endlessly browsing social media. If you're looking to pick up a new laptop but don't necessarily want to drop your life savings in one go, we'll be compiling a list of the best deals on cheap laptops right here, each and every week.

SEE ALSO: The best early Prime Day deals: Amazon devices, kitchen essentials, and more

Best Samsung deal

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro product photo
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Credit: Samsung
Our pick: Samsung Galaxy Book Pro (opens in a new tab)
Save $190 at Samsung
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Why we like it

We love Apple, but MacBooks aren't the only laptops out there. The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro is a nice alternative to the similarly priced MacBook Pro, with a stunning display, a speedy 11th-gen Intel Core processor, a 20-hour battery life, WiFi 6E support, and a sleek, ultra-thin design.

Best gaming deal

Razer Blade 15 Advanced product photo
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Credit: Razer
Our pick: Razer Blade 15 Advanced (opens in a new tab)
Save $983.99 at Amazon
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Why we like it

The Razer Blade 15 Advanced model is packed with solid internals that'll work well for PC gaming newbies and seasoned players alike. Under the hood, you'll get a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10875H processor with up to 5.0 GHz max turbo and 8 cores, as well as an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card that has the power to run some pretty visually intense games. The 300Hz screen provides buttery-smooth frame rate performance and offers full HD visuals within a bezel-less display. It's all housed within a thin, compact body that you can take anywhere.

Best 2-in-1 deal

Asus Chromebook Flip C434 product photo
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Credit: Asus
Our pick: Asus Chromebook Flip C434 (opens in a new tab)
Save $173.99 at Amazon
(opens in a new tab)

Why we like it

Having your laptop and your tablet in one place is a convenience you need in your life. The Asus Chromebook Flip C434 is a fantastic budget 2-in-1 device, with speedy performance, a full HD touchscreen, and components that should be able to handle all of your daily tasks.

More great laptop deals

How to shop for a new laptop:

Choosing a laptop is entirely dependent on what you'll be using it for. Beginner laptop owners need something user-friendly and straightforward, frequent travelers need something light with a long battery life, designers and gamers need top-notch 4K graphics and quick central processors, and everyone needs something that will last. 

The first thing you should do is ask yourself a simple question: PC or Mac? This is an important question, as it's going to make a world of difference in what you can and can't do with your computer. Are you a gamer? A video editor? A business professional? An Apple device owner? The answer to any of these will probably point you towards your final answer. If you're constantly buying the new iPhone every year, editing YouTube videos, recording a podcast, or other creative endeavors of the sort, your best bet may be a Mac laptop. Apple obsessives will be happy with their Mac's compatibility with their other Apple products, and everyone can benefit from Macs' propensity to have better virus protection than that of a PC. 

That brings us to the perks of picking up a PC. You can still complete a number of creative projects on a personal computer, but where PCs really shine are their options for customization. PCs are much easier to upgrade part-by-part, as they aren't constrained to Apple-manufactured products (like Macs). And because there is a seemingly endless supply of PC manufacturers, there are a lot more options from what brand you chose, to the software you buy, to the type of graphics card you pick out for your gaming rig. Yes, gamers should always go the PC route — they are far more powerful than what a Mac laptop can handle, and also give you the option to connect VR headsets, if you're into that sort of thing.  

What size laptop should you get?

This really comes down to two things: Personal preference and lifestyle. Personal preference is self-explanatory, really — do you like having a huge display, or do you prefer something more compact? Lifestyle is where practicality comes into play. If you're traveling often and usually have your computer on your back in some way, you're going to want to go with something more light and compact (thin, 11-inch models will most likely be the best). But if you're a huge movie buff who doesn't normally take their laptop on the road with them, spring for a 15-inch (and higher) screen with a bulky construction so you can have epic Netflix sessions. If you're getting a gaming laptop, you should probably "go big or go home," as well.  

How much should you spend on a new laptop?

This is much more subjective, and at the end of the day, it's really going to come down to your budget. But, if money isn't the number one concern for you, you should really think hard about what you're going to use your laptop for. Need a device with lots of power under the hood and bountiful storage space? Aim for something in the $800 and beyond range. Only using your laptop to edit the occasional Google Doc? Then you can probably get away with spending way below the $500 mark. In other words, don't blow your savings if you don't need to. And if you're looking to go all out, meaning buying a laptop with every bell and whistle imaginable, you can get a monster of a machine for somewhere closer to $2,000.

Are cheap laptops worth it?

You know the old saying: You get what you pay for. But thanks to the technology boom of the last few decades, a cheap laptop can actually take you pretty far and won't break down immediately. It's all about knowing which one to select. Depending on what you use your laptop for the most, staying stingy might be your best option. Check out our roundups for the ones that we think are worth it — here are our favorite cheap laptop models under $500, and the best under $300.  

What does it mean when a laptop is certified refurbished?

Don't let the words "refurbished" or "renewed" scare you away — these types of devices are usually perfectly viable options and can end up saving you a lot of money without sacrificing much of anything.

A refurbished device, in its simplest terms, is a product that has been bought, but then returned for some reason. Notice that we didn’t necessarily say that it was returned due to some sort of fault on the device’s part. While that can certainly be true in some cases, it isn’t always. Oftentimes, a certified refurbished laptop never even left its original packaging.

While yes, saving money is a huge benefit of buying a "refurb," it's far from the only reason to consider getting one. What's great about refurbished devices is that they undergo rigorous performance tests to ensure that they are still in good condition (sometimes more strictly than the stuff coming right off the production line). There's also a chance that any refurbished laptop you buy may have been so lightly used, that it could almost be considered brand-new (just way cheaper).

We're big fans of buying refurbished gear for kids, especially when it comes to electronics. If you're shopping for a laptop for a kid who is under the age of 15, then refurbished is really the way to go. For kids of high school age and beyond who are a bit more careful with their digital gear, then a new laptop isn't as risky. Of course, it depends on the kid.

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 5:25 pm

We had 11 questions for 'Stranger Things 4: Volume 2.' Here are the answers.

A group of teenagers huddle around a table.

Warning: The following contains major spoilers for Stranger Things 4: Volume 2.

Well, it's finally here. Stranger Things 4: Volume 2 — all 4 hours of it — has arrived on Netflix. And boy, was it a lot. There were tentacles, there were guitar solos, and at the end of the day, there was a body count.

But were there answers? Earlier this week, we outlined 11 questions we absolutely needed Volume 2 to answer, ranging from which characters would die (gulp) to which fan theories were correct. Now, after finishing all of Stranger Things 4, it's safe to say we got answers for most — but not all — our burning questions. Here's what we learned.

SEE ALSO: The escapism of 'Stranger Things' Season 4 just hits different in 2022

1. Is Nancy OK?

A group of four teenagers bathed in red light
How did Nancy escape from Vecna's clutches? Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Yes! Nancy (Natalia Dyer) is fine — at least, as fine as she can be after being traumatized by Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) and almost strangled to death by his squelchy, squelchy tentacles. Instead of escaping Vecna's Mind Lair by hearing her favorite song, Nancy is actually released by Vecna himself. Her freedom comes with a price: He gives her a vision of his plans for Hawkins and tells her to pass that message on to Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown).

A more efficient villain may have just killed Nancy as the fourth sacrifice and ended the world right then and there, but Vecna knows we have a 4-hour runtime to kill. So he sends Nancy on her merry way. Honestly, the biggest tragedy of this storyline is not figuring out Nancy's favorite song. Is it Madonna? Bowie? Blondie? The world needs to know!

2. Is Vecna Eleven's father?

A blonde man stands behind a young woman with a shaved head wearing a blindfold.
Vecna, you are not the father. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

No! While Stranger Things 4 never directly denies that Vecna and Eleven are related, as posited by one fan theory, it also never really entertains the question. Plus, a reveal like that would be a perfect bombshell to drop in the finale. Since we don't really hear anything about this theory in these last two episodes, it's safe to say that Vecna is not Eleven's dear old dad. And thank goodness for that. The last thing we need is the Rise of Skywalker-ification of Stranger Things. Sometimes powerful people just aren't related, but their relationships can still be compelling. Case in point: Eleven and Vecna.

3. How will Stranger Things address Will's queerness?

A skating rink full of people.
Please just let Will be happy. For once. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Very, very subtly. Will (Noah Schnapp) does not explicitly come out in Volume 2, but his romantic feelings for Mike (Finn Wolfhard) have never been clearer. Think about the painting he made for Mike (which he falsely claims Eleven commissioned for him). Think about his assertion that Mike is the "heart" of the party. If that wasn't enough, Will also delivers some pretty heavy-handed lines about how people treat you when they know you're different. At this point, the subtext is basically text.

Other characters seem to be catching on to what fans have been picking up on for a while now. The scene where Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) tells Will he'll always support him because he's his brother feels like an indirect acknowledgment of Will's queerness, and an invitation for him to confide in him should he need to. Until further notice, this question remains on the table for Stranger Things 5.

SEE ALSO: 28 binge-worthy LGBTQ TV shows to watch

4. Do Joyce, Hopper, and Murray escape Russia?

Three men and one woman in cold weather clothes stand in a barn.
So you've escaped prison. What now? Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

They do indeed, but it takes them a very, very long time. Their haphazard escape involves a prison break-out, a helicopter named Katinka, a prison break-in, and a call to the United States Government. After a while though, they're able to make it home. Along the way, Hopper (David Harbour) and Joyce (Winona Ryder) finally act on their feelings for each other, and Murray (Brett Gelman) gets to barbecue a whole bunch of Demogorgons.

5. Does Eleven officially have her powers back?

A young woman with a shaved hear stands alone in a desert.
Get 'em Eleven. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Seems like it. The Nina Project did its job, and now Eleven is able to lift heavy objects, blow up helicopters, and enter people's minds. That last ability proves extremely useful in these final two episodes, as she's able to confront Vecna as he hunts Max (Sadie Sink) through her memories. Her long-distance superpowers are a handy workaround to the fact that she and her friends are thousands of miles from Indiana. It's a pretty efficient way to join the California crew and the Hawkins party, although it unfortunately gives characters like Mike, Will, and Jonathan very little to do other than provide support.

But all of that is just scratching the tip of the iceberg, because now Eleven seems to have the power to bring people back from the dead. Max fully dies for a minute after facing Vecna, allowing the fourth gate to open and destroy Hawkins. However, Eleven is having none of it. She brings Max to life, although not back to consciousness. She's still in a coma, but given how Max was such a pivotal player this season, I'm sure we'll see her again soon. Until then, bringing people back to life seems like a pretty neat skill for Eleven to have in her back pocket. Is there anything she can't do?

SEE ALSO: Why the 'Running Up That Hill' scene in 'Stranger Things' is so powerful

6. Why do the Russians have a Demogorgon?

A man in a prison yard brandishes a fiery spear at a humanoid monster.
Let them fight. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Honestly, it's probably just so Hopper and Joyce's storyline this season could connect in some way to the final act of the California and Hawkins plots. The Russians have a ton of Upside Down monsters, including several that they've experimented on, but we never really learn why beyond "they're the baddies." Having Demogorgons and Demodogs around does allow Hopper and Joyce to fight at least one part of the Upside Down hive mind, proving to be a much-needed help to everyone fighting Vecna head-on. Will we learn more about the Soviet Demorgon program next season? Or has that plot died along with all the Russian prison guards?

7. Why has Vecna returned now?

A humanoid figure covered in tentacles stands menacingly in a red, hellish landscape.
Seriously, what is this guy's deal? Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

We still don't know why Vecna waited seven years after being banished to the Upside Down before starting his murderous rampage. At this point, I'm not sure we ever will. However, it's not like Vecna was twiddling his tentacle-y thumbs for seven years. We find out that he created the Mind Flayer and has been attacking Hawkins since the beginning. Perhaps he was just trying to conserve his energy in those early seasons, and it was only when he realized just how powerful Eleven was that he decided to bring out the big guns: teenage murder.

SEE ALSO: Who is Vecna in 'Stranger Things' and why is the internet talking about them?

8. Is Ms. Kelly the guidance counselor working for Vecna?

A young woman stares at a grandfather clock embedded in a tree trunk.
Sometimes a clock is just a clock. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Absolutely not. Ms. Kelly (Regina Ting Chen) is nowhere to be seen in these last episodes, shutting down the fan theory that she was an ally of Vecna's. But what about her connection to the murder victims? What about her grandfather clock necklace? What about the ticking sounds when Max spoke to her?

The answer to the first question is pretty simple: She's a school counselor, and it's her job to listen to troubled teens. She probably didn't draw a connection between all the victims because she has no way of knowing about Vecna's curse. The clock references like her necklace or the ticking may not be plot-relevant, but they're still tools that help build tension around Vecna. For example, the ticking clock when Max talks to Ms. Kelly after being cursed is a perfect reminder of her time running out — and of the fact that she could see the Creel clock at any moment.

9. Whatever happened to Vickie, Robin's love interest?

A high school band dressed in green and gold in a high school gym.
Good thing this wasn't her only scene this season. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Stranger Things 4: Volume 2 might as well be subtitled Vickie's Return, because she's back! Robin (Maya Hawke) spots her fellow band geek and crush Vickie (Amybeth McNulty) at the War Zone, an army surplus store, with her boyfriend. One Upside Down battle later, Robin and Vickie reunite while volunteering to help Hawkins citizens displaced by the earthquake. Vickie reveals she and her boyfriend have broken up, and she and Robin hit it off right away. Seems like McNulty will be sticking around in a bigger way in Stranger Things 5. Good, that's the star of Anne with an E we're talking about! She deserves this.

SEE ALSO: 'Stranger Things' is almost back, so here's your reminder that Hopper should have stayed dead

10. How is the basketball team's Hellfire Club hunt going?

A young woman holds a shotgun in a gun store, and a young man in a letterman jacket holds the barrel.
Stay away from her! Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

The basketball team's Satanic Panic-inspired hunt of the Hellfire Club throws a major wrench into our heroes' plan to defeat Vecna. Jason (Mason Dye) and his squad confront Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Erica (Priah Ferguson) at Creel House, resulting in a full-on fistfight. Jason breaks Max's Walkman, and his interference directly leads to her (temporary) death. So thanks for that, boys.

Jason dies when the fourth gate to the Upside Down opens, but his Satanic Panic lives on. In the aftermath of the battle, Hawkins citizens believe that Eddie (Joseph Quinn) and the Hellfire Club caused both the murders and the earthquake. This will surely complicate our heroes' lives moving forward, as Mike, Lucas, and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) were all members of Hellfire.

11. Is Steve Harrington going to die?

Two young women and one young man holding weapons stand in a dark forest.
Bring him home. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Nope, King Steve (Joe Keery), mother of Hawkins, is still alive and kicking! Phew. There were a few moments when I thought he was for sure a goner, like that monologue about his dream family, but he makes it out of the Upside Down in one piece.

Unfortunately, we can't say the same of several other characters this season. Jason gets disintegrated by the Upside Down portal. Sorry about your witch hunt, bro. Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) also dies after trying to escape the Nina Project with Eleven. He continues the proud Stranger Things tradition of characters whose names start with a 'B' dying every season: Barb, Bob, Billy, and now, Brenner. Good riddance to him.

But of course, the death that people will be saddest about (beyond Max's, which only lasted a minute) is Eddie's. The writing was on the wall for him as soon as he claimed he and Dustin weren't heroes. You knew right then and there that'd he'd do something heroic — and pay the price for it. Eddie was clearly this season's breakout character, with his love for Dungeons and Dragons and his sweet friendship with Dustin instantly endearing him to audiences. And who can forget about his rocking guitar solo in the Upside Down? Extremely metal. He'll be missed in Stranger Things 5.

Where do we go from here?

Four young men squat in the desert, one pointing towards something in the distance.
What does the future hold? Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Stranger Things 4 ends with a pretty big hint at where Stranger Things 5 will go. Vecna is still alive, and Hawkins is slowly transforming into the Upside Down. Now that the gang's all back together, it's likely that they'll unite to finally take him down, once and for all. The Duffer Brothers have floated the idea of a time jump, so we could be jumping into a very different Hawkins than the one we left. The only thing we know for sure is that Stranger Things 5 will be the show's final outing. So savor this last-ever hiatus between seasons, fans. See you on the other side.

All of Stranger Things 4 is now streaming on Netflix.

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 5:20 pm

Air fryer cheeseburgers are way more delicious than they should be

burgers with airfryday logo

Summertime is here, the Fourth of July is coming up, and that can only mean one thing: We are at peak cookout season.

And when it's peak cookout season, there's one thing I want on my plate: a delicious, juicy burger.

SEE ALSO: You've got to try homemade air fryer French fries. Here's how to make them.

But lots of folks don't have a grill handy, or don't want a cloud of smoke in their small apartment — I live in New York City, I get it — but that doesn't rule out a delicious burger this Independence Day. You can make a pretty dang tasty burger in your air fryer. Yes, really.

Now, is it going to be as good as a burger seared on a rip-roaring charcoal grill? Perhaps not. The flavor added by super-high heat and a real fire is hard to replicate. But a good air fryer burger is better than the garden variety burger you'll get at a gas grill cookout. Here's what you need to know.



  1. Place the ground beef in a large mixing bowl. Then season it generously with salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and soy sauce. Mix to combine evenly.

  2. Form the ground beef into three equally sized patties. Press them down so they are at least a touch bigger than the diameter of your buns. The patties will shrink in size as they cook and the goal is to have total bun coverage.

  3. Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss your buns into the air fryer as it preheats to toast the bread.

  4. Once the air fryer is preheated, remove the buns then spray the basket with oil. Add the burgers and air fry for eight minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, slice the romaine lettuce into thin ribbons then dress it with the mayonnaise and red wine vinegar. Slice the tomato and onion into ultra-thin slices and set aside.

  6. When there is one minute on your air fryer, cover burgers with cheese (or not, if you don't want cheese).

  7. When finished cooking, let the burgers rest for a minute. Place the thin onion slices on the bottom buns. Put the lettuce and tomato on the top buns. Place each burger on top of the onion-covered bottom bun, then place the top bun on top of the burger. You can also dress with your favorite condiments, such as ketchup or mustard, and enjoy.

SEE ALSO: Mexican-style street corn recipe is easy to make in the air fryer. And tasty, too.

The details

This is a wildly simple recipe. That's the point of an air fryer — it's supposed to make things easy. One thing to keep in mind: Make sure you season the meat well. That is probably the most important step in this recipe. The directions are just rough estimations of how much seasoning to use — I season with my heart. Feel free to swap out garlic or chili powder and add anything you like — onion powder, paprika, cayenne, or any number of seasonings would work, for instance. Just make sure you use enough salt. And I think it helps to boost that salinity with soy sauce or something similar like Worcestershire sauce or Tamari. It ensures there is salty, umami goodness throughout the burger and helps keep it moist.

That's the biggest drawback of which you have to be aware. An air fryer is effectively a small, high-powered convection oven, and cooking a burger in any type of oven runs the risk of drying it out. An ideal burger is seared on the outside but juicy and pink in the middle. This recipe does its best to get that result. Depending on your air fryer, you might need only like six minutes of cook time. If you're able, use a meat thermometer and pull your burgers at your preferred temperature.

hands with knife cutting onions
Burger toppings! Credit: Mashable

Otherwise, the recipe is straightforward. Toast the buns during the preheat (a favorite trick of mine). Cut, then dress the lettuce. I think this small, extra step adds tons of flavor to the burger. The acid of the red wine vinegar makes each bite a bit sharper, while the mayonnaise adds a little fat to the lean meat. Then cut the tomatoes and onions, add the cheese, and enjoy.

Here's how my final product looked. Not bad for an air fryer right?

burgers on cutting board
Burgers! In the air fryer. Credit: Mashable
burger cut in half
Not a bad burger. Credit: Mashable

The verdict? It's a good burger. Cooked right, it's juicy and, honestly, probably far better than the burger you get from some hack on the grill at your local cookout. The air fryer gets hot enough and circulates air well enough, that there is something resembling a sear on the burger. The dressed lettuce adds a nice touch and the seasoning in the meat means you get great flavor. If you don't have the time or resources for a charcoal grill, this isn't a bad option for your Fourth of July dinner.

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 4:24 pm

'Good Luck to You, Leo Grande' review: Respect, consent, and boundaries come first

A man and woman in their underwear sit in a hotel bed with the covers pulled up, looking at the camera.

"It’s an orgasm, not a Fabergé egg. People have them every day."

Katy Brand's spectacularly sharp script for Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is full of witticisms like this, with every moment fueled by smart discussion of sex, sex work, how important consent and respecting boundaries are to mutual pleasure, and of thinking beyond your own experience.

Directed by Sophie Hyde, this wholly sex-positive film is itself as unpredictable in its subtleties as it is powerful in its exploration of compassion, body image, ageism, and outdated social ideas about pleasure. Emma Thompson is characteristically brilliant as Nancy Stokes, a sexually repressed former teacher with naught but a skerrick of self-confidence, who, two years since her husband died, decides to hire sex worker Leo Grande, played by staggeringly talented newcomer Daryl McCormack. We're not told what immediately preceded this decision, but Thompson brings an anxiously self-interrogating energy to Nancy, who's never really thought about her own pleasure or needs — it’s clear her only sexual relationship was devoid of any value for Nancy's desires. 

McCormack is utterly compelling as the titular Leo Grande, whose self-confidence, compassion, and pride — both in himself and his work — comes through the very first moment he steps through Nancy’s hotel room door. McCormack takes Brand's script and weaves from it a truly charismatic character whose ability to alleviate tension with empathetic finesse is truly exceptional. Leo's emotional intelligence enables him to see that Nancy, full of judgement and inhibition, views herself solely from the outside — a revelation that plays out in several mirror-facing scenes.

SEE ALSO: People are more sexually adventurous right now — and more cautious

Set over four meetings, the film feels more like a play, contained almost entirely to the walls of the hotel room at The Duffield, yet moving through nuanced stages of each character’s development so seamlessly that an hour and 37 minutes doesn't feel it at all.

A man in a white shirt and briefs kneels on a bed next to a woman in a short nightgown and silk robe.
Credit: Hulu

The film champions mutual pleasure as one of the most important elements of sex, making sure each person's needs are heard, understood, respected, and explored. Nancy has never had an orgasm. Not one. It's something she's never prioritised for herself, nor did her late husband. It's also something she actually doesn’t think possible, which is unsurprising, as her one sexual partner seemingly had no interest in asking Nancy what she enjoyed. Thompson plays through this with expert care, having Nancy act out the typical stages of their passionless sexual interactions like clockwork (fake orgasm included) and laugh off what Mashable features editor and Rough author Rachel Thompson might call "unwanted sex" as an acceptable experience. Nancy describes her sex life as having had "no deviation for 31 years."

As a result, Nancy's fantasies and desires, which rarely extend beyond "getting it over with," are as limited as her own sex education. What's more, her feelings of shame over asking for what she wants are apparent throughout the whole film. In perfectly deadpan delivery from Thompson, Nancy literally makes a list of "attainment goals," or rather, sex positions she’d like to "get through" in a couple of hours, popping on her reading glasses and frankly announcing each one to a bemused Leo. It's in moments like this that Brand's script is exceptionally funny, amplifying an awkward mixture of Nancy's keep-calm-and-carry-on attitude with the discomfort around her own desires.

SEE ALSO: How mutual masturbation can help close the orgasm gap
A man and woman dance together smiling.
Credit: Hulu

The importance of ongoing consent lies at the core of Leo Grande as a truly intimate, deliberate theme. The film does not miss a beat here, with Leo leading by example by taking physical, verbal, and energetic cues from Nancy, asking for consent for every single intimate action, from simply kissing Nancy on the cheek to dancing to an Alabama Shakes song as a means to shake off Nancy’s inhibitions. Leo's expertise in empathetic mood adjustment is refreshingly comforting to watch — and should serve as a tutorial for the audience, to be honest. Nancy also continually asks for consent for physical connection, however she fails to do this for his personal boundaries. 

It’s here the film makes clear the power of setting boundaries, and the feeling of powerlessness and frustration that comes from having yours disrespected or crossed. Leo communicates his clearly, as does Nancy, however, she crosses his boundaries more than once, persistently coaxing personal information from him and ultimately leaping past one of Leo's most valued parameters: the separation of his professional and personal life, and protection of his identity as a sex worker. This breach of trust leads to a truly spectacular and devastating monologue from McCormack.

A man and woman in their underwear look into a mirror.
Credit: Hulu

As such, Nancy's sexual awakening is not her only journey, as she also opens up to self-love through debates about body image and age with Leo. Nancy's lack of self-confidence and contempt for her body comes from a deep, socially ingrained, patriarchal place — one Thompson expertly peppers throughout her performance, moving toward a wonderful moment of body neutrality for the character.

SEE ALSO: Emma Thompson has a powerful message about body image for young people

However, Nancy is initially steadfast in her views, having quite the tendency to lean toward misogynist rhetoric blaming young women’s attire for sexual harassment and openly spewing a sort of conservative moral panic about sex work to Leo's face. She constantly asks what his family thinks about his work and how he feels about it himself, specifically whether he feels "degraded" by it. Nancy tells Leo she quite literally used to set her students' "essays on the moral issues surrounding sex work, and here I am participating in it."

Without being a PowerPoint presentation advocating the full decriminalisation of sex work, the film fosters ample discussion of the profession, with Leo expertly navigating Nancy's judgmental, pre-conceived notions of the sex industry and the experiences of sex workers. Leo patiently, even playfully, deflects her barrage of insensitive questions with a wry smile, telling her, "There’s nothing crass about getting paid for your work."

In these discussions, which are some of the film’s most important, Leo makes clear to Nancy, more than once, that "You haven’t bought me. You've bought my services. I set a price and you agreed. I'm not being exploited." He doesn't avoid speaking to sex worker safety, but explains how he values his work deeply as a public service that meets people’s emotional and physical needs. "Think how civilised it could be," he says. Here, Thompson allows Nancy to truly listen and address her own bias, but also realistically limits this as, later, Nancy emotionally wounds Leo in a moment of blatant disrespect for his dignity that signals an unambiguous point of no return.

By foregrounding themes of desire and mutual pleasure with that of ongoing consent and acknowledgment of boundaries, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande spotlights the importance of simultaneously respecting yourself and others when it comes to sex. Under Hyde's intimate direction, Thompson and McCormack take Brand's script and work with it to create a truly nuanced and playful exploration of wants, needs, and compassion. Good luck to it.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is now in cinemas and streaming on Hulu.

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 4:18 pm

Best headphones for kids: Comfort, safety, and durability win every time

girl wearing headphones

You might think that the main benefit to buying headphones for your children is so that you don't have to hear what they're listening to, but there's actually a more important reason. Your child's ears are super sensitive while they're developing and it's possible to damage them by hearing sounds over 85 decibels. Adult headphones just aren't the best idea for them to use. At least not unless you can convince them to lower the volume, which is pretty unlikely.

Instead, you're best off purchasing a pair of headphones designed specifically for children. They tend to fit better on little heads and all of the best headphones for kids contain a volume limiter so the sound can't get too high. Here's everything you need to know about purchasing headphones for your child.

Should I get wired or wireless headphones for my kid?

Some of that decision is dependent on how much money you want to spend and whether you want to worry about needing to recharge headphones on a regular basis. Many of the headphones listed here have decent battery life, but they are typically more expensive than a wired solution.

However, if your child is particularly young, wired headphones can be a strangling risk, so always supervise them while they're using their headphones, especially if there are younger kiddos in the house.

What's the maximum recommended noise level for children?

Generally, many auditory health organizations recommend that the ideal noise level for a child is about 70 decibels, and then volumes should never exceed 85 decibels. (Anything above 85 decibels is deemed dangerous.) Most adult headphones peak at about 115 decibels, which is why it's important to use a dedicated solution for your child. The limit is a limit too, not a guide, so always aim to play music a little quieter if you can.

Can a child use earphones?

In-ear buds are great for adults, but they're not recommended for children. That's because developing ears are more sensitive to noise damage because their nerve fivers are still growing. Also, due to having smaller external auditory canals, the eardrum is always closer to the sound source, so you don't want that to be exacerbated by earbuds. Ears are too delicate to risk their safety.

How long should my child use the headphones for?

Similar to limiting screen time, it's sensible to restrict your child's use of headphones to a maximum of two hours a day. Any longer than that can damage your child's ears, even if they're using a volume limiter.

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 4:12 pm

The best deals to shop at Walmart this week

woman with a laptop in her lap and holding a credit card, shopping online

UPDATE: July 1, 2022, 12:07 p.m. EDT This article has been updated with adjusted prices and additional live deals at Walmart.

These are the best deals at Walmart as of July 1:

Walmart+ Weekend has come and gone, but there are still plenty of deals you can take advantage of at the big box retailer.

No need to waste your precious time scrolling through the site, though. We've rounded up the best Walmart deals for you this week, including on things like 4K TVs, kitchen appliances, robot vacuums, 2-in-1 laptops, and a whole slew of other name-brand gadgets and gizmos.

SEE ALSO: How to sign up for Walmart+ — and why you should

TV deals

Vacuum deals

Kitchen deals

Computer and laptop deals

Apple deals

Fitness deals

Gaming deals

Audio deals

Explore related content:

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 4:08 pm

Remote learning got you down? Here are the best educational sites for kids.

girl sitting at table in front of open notebooks

We are living in a new age of widespread remote, online learning.

Even before COVID-19 forced the shutdown of schools all over the world, investment in EDtech (education technology) had reached $18.66 billion in 2019 and the market of online education is projected to be $350 billion by 2025.

Today, the internet is becoming a virtual classroom for a growing number of kids as parents are turning to online resources to help plan lessons and look for activities for their housebound kids. Even high schoolers are also looking for additional test prep help from home. But here’s the good news: The quality of online learning platforms has only grown to meet this demand.

Some offer games that teach young children in a fun, engaging way that barely feels like school, while others offer in-depth curriculums in foreign languages for students whose parents only speak one language.

That said, when you’re looking for an online learning platform for your kids, especially little kids, there are a lot of factors to consider to make sure that your child is actually learning something from it. You want them to be engaged with the material and not fight you every time they need to log on. You also don’t want to waste your money on something clunky or dangerous.

What should you look for in choosing a good online learning platform?

The answer, of course, depends a little on the student you’re looking for, but in general, all good online learning platforms should meet the following criteria:

It should not be weighed down in ads.

Free educational apps might sound good, but bear in mind that free platforms often require advertising to keep the app running — and some of that advertisement might not be kid-friendly.

It is especially important to avoid ads if you’re looking for a learning platform for young children because studies of children under the ages of four or five have shown that this age group doesn’t consistently distinguish what an ad is. This greatly diminishes the educational value of the platform.

Ads can also just be cumbersome, crowding the screen or slowing down how quickly the learning platform loads, making for a clunky user experience.

They should be educational.

This might sound obvious, but just because something is labeled as educational doesn’t mean it actually provides the best educational experience. Games should mostly — if not entirely — be focused on teaching.

They should also engage kids so they're actively learning. If the platform allows the child to zone out and just “watch,” chances are they won’t remember as much. But if the platform asks them questions, has them create something, or invites them to actively use their new knowledge — much like a teacher in a classroom — chances are the child will pay more attention and recall more information.

They offer something an off-screen experience can’t.

With the rise of remote learning, this is often the feature that gets set aside, especially with early-learning apps that let kids put puzzles together or trace letters on the screen — two activities they can also do in real life instead of the screen.

The best learning platforms are aware of the dramatic increase in children’s screen time and try to offer something pen and paper or physical games cannot. Some teach children how to code, others offer them access to experts in a foreign language that simply wouldn’t be available closer to home. And others still compete with non-educational games by making learning fun.

Some of the best also spark an interest in off-screen activities. Many of the best will offer ideas for kids to continue their learning offline by grabbing a pen and paper to draw, work out a math equation, foster a love of reading books IRL, or experiment with hands-on-art projects.

They should be safe.

This means that they should not expose kids to strangers who could harm them.

Avoid learning platforms that feature online chat rooms that a stranger could join and use to talk to your child. For young children, you’ll also want to avoid platforms that link out of the app because this can lead them to browsing unsafe or unverified sites.

It is against the law, thanks to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA), for websites to collect personal information from children under thirteen without parental consent. That said, make sure you choose an online platform or tool that follows the law and has the necessary privacy settings.

If you’re not sure if a program is safe for use, you can always check with the Common Sense Media Privacy Program.

Even for older children, learning platforms that allow you to create a username — instead of their whole name — can be a wise choice, especially if there is a public aspect to the platform (i.e. a score ranking).

They should allow you or the child to track their progress.

Some will do this with a parental tracker. Others will offer grades. But monitoring progress is key so that kids can see how they’re improving and know where they need to improve. This can boost their confidence and engagement too.

For young children in particular, you might feel more comfortable with an app that also alerts you to their progress and lets you know of an issue or concern early on. This can help you know what you need to work with them on offline and one-on-one. For example, if you know that your child is behind on reading comprehension, you’ll know that you should make more time to work with them offline and find fun ways to read in the evening or on weekends.

Be careful of educational platforms that emphasize rewards instead of actual learning. You want them to be motivated to learn the actual concept being taught, not just reach the next level.

A clear sign of gamified platforms is if they rely on in-app purchases. Those platforms are steered more towards leveling up and making money than actually teaching your children. (Plus, platforms with in-app purchases can get very expensive quickly — another reason to avoid them.)

They should be clear about what age they’re geared for.

Nothing can hamper a kid’s self-esteem or confidence faster than material that is way too hard. Similarly, material that is too easy can bore children. To make sure that neither of these scenarios occurs, parents should know what ages the content is made for so they can help pick an age-appropriate platform.

For younger children, you’ll also want to prioritize platforms that make learning fun or that offer rewards or achievements for every lesson they complete. That way they’ll feel encouraged and engaged.

Do you really need it?

There’s no need to increase your child’s screen time just because. There are lots of offline activities (think: crafts, books, sports, etc.) to keep a child entertained. So there’s no need to just plunk your child in front of a screen if the platform is teaching them something they can already get elsewhere.

That’s why when you’re picking a platform, consider its true purpose and what it really offers your child. Is it teaching them something new or is just keeping them from being bored?

Here are some of our favorite online learning platforms for kids in 2022 that meet these criteria — but keep reading to get the full list below.

Best overall for early learning

ABC Mouse

With more than 950 lessons in math, reading, science, social studies, and art, ABC Mouse is a great overall learning platform for kids ages two to eight.

Best for honing reading skills

Reading Eggs

Reading Eggs is a great platform that will not only teach kids to read but hone their comprehension skills too.

Best for learning to code


CodaKid makes coding fun and teaches kids a range of different coding languages, not just the most popular ones.

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 4:02 pm

The best VPN deals as of July 1: ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Proton VPN, and more

a woman selecting a nordvpn server location from a map on a macbook

Using a virtual private network (VPN) is one of the best ways to protect your online data and stay anonymous on the web, whether you're trying to stream movies abroad, torrent, bypass geo-restrictions, or just plain browse. Most providers' plans cost anywhere from $2 to $12 per month, though many lure customers in with discounted introductory rates that skyrocket after your initial term. To help you lock in a plan that'll fit your budget in the short and long term, we're compiling a weekly roundup of the best deals on all the VPNs we've personally tested. Below, you can check out our top picks as of July 1.

ExpressVPN — save 49% on a 15-month plan

Read our full review of ExpressVPN.

A reliable server network, a user-friendly app, a strong commitment to data protection, and a headquarters in the privacy-forward British Virgin Islands make ExpressVPN our favorite full-featured VPN on the market. It also happens to be one of the most expensive VPNs out there, which is why we highly recommend taking advantage of the sale it's been running since early June: You can enroll in a 15-month plan at just $6.67/month, which is 49% off its standard $12.95/month rate. (Bonus: Your purchase is covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee and comes with a year's worth of unlimited cloud backups from Backblaze — that's a $7/month value by itself.) You'll switch to an $8.32/month annual plan after the first term is up. Bitcoin is accepted.

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Credit: ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN (15 months) + 1 year of free unlimited cloud backups from Backblaze (opens in a new tab)
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NordVPN — save 67% on a 2-year plan

Read our full review of NordVPN.

Power users shouldn't think twice about signing up for NordVPN, another industry giant based in British Virgin Islands that packs robust security features like double encryption, obfuscated servers, dark web monitoring, malware protection, ad and tracker blockers, and Onion Over VPN, a tool that combines your VPN connection with the Tor network for an extra layer of privacy. All of its subscriptions come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, the cheapest one being its two-year plan: New customers can sign up for an introductory rate of just $3.99/month, or 67% off its usual $11.99/month pricing. (That switches to an $8.29/month annual plan after the term is up.) Bitcoin, Ethereum, and XRP are accepted.

Optional add-ons include:

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NordVPN (2 years) (opens in a new tab)
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Proton VPN — save 50% on a two-year Plus plan

Read our full review of ProtonVPN.

The Swiss-based Proton VPN is another great pick for privacy wonks, with open-source apps and critical infrastructure that's stored inside a datacenter requiring biometric access. We recommend its Plus plan, which gets you full access to its server network, streaming service and P2P support, ad/tracker/malware protection, and a Tor over VPN tool that lets you direct traffic through the Tor network with a single click. Monthly subscriptions go for $9.99, but you'll pay just $4.99/month if you commit to two years (with a 30-day money-back guarantee) — that's a 50% savings. Bitcoin is accepted.

the proton vpn logo
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Credit: Proton VPN
Proton VPN Plus (2 years) (opens in a new tab)
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CyberGhost VPN — save 82% on a 39-month plan

Read our full review of CyberGhost VPN.

This Romania-based provider lays claim to the biggest, most globally diverse network we've seen, with special severs optimized for streaming, gaming, and P2P to maintain consistent connections. Sign up for a 39 months of CyberGhost coverage at $2.29/month (or 82% off its standard monthly fee of $12.99), and you'll be able renew at that exact same rate every 36 months thereafter. Like all of CyberGhost's multi-year plans, that's protected by a 45-day money-back guarantee and includes free access to its ID Guard and Privacy Guard tools. Bitcoin is accepted.

Optional add-ons include:

Editor's note: The CyberGhost website features a countdown to a deadline for locking in that three years + three months rate, but we're pretty sure it's just a marketing ploy.

the cyberghost vpn logo
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Credit: CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost VPN (3 years + 3 months) (opens in a new tab)
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TunnelBear — save 67% on a three-year Unlimited plan

Read our full review of TunnelBear.

Our go-to recommendation for anyone who's never used the technology before, TunnelBear is simple, lightweight VPN with an intuitive (and adorable) interface. Though it's incapable of unblocking streaming sites and based in Canada, a Five Eyes country, it should serve you well if you're just surfing the web. We recommend its Unlimited plan over the free version for unlimited browsing and priority customer service, which goes for just $3.33/month when you enroll for three years — that's 67% off its usual $9.99/month rate and a fixed price that won't increase after your first term. Bitcoin is accepted and refunds are offered on a case-by-case basis.

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TunnelBear Unlimited (3 years) (opens in a new tab)
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Private Internet Access (PIA) — save 83% on a 39-month plan

Read our full review of PIA.

It's nothing particularly special (and its U.S. headquarters location isn't ideal), but for users in search of a basic VPN with open-source apps, built-in ad blocking, and a free email breach monitor, PIA is worth a look. Take advantage of its Fourth of July sale to score 39 months of coverage for only $2.03/month — that shaves 83% off its regular rate of $11.95/month and includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. (You may need to open its website in an incognito window to see this pricing, FYI.) Your plan will continue at the same rate after that first term is up, which earns it some extra brownie points. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin are accepted.

Optional add-ons include:

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Private Internet Access (3 years + 3 months) (opens in a new tab)
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IPVanish — save 64% on a one-year plan

Read our full review of IPVanish.

Another middle-of-the-road pick with a U.S. headquarters (boo), IPVanish makes up for a lack of advanced security features with a minimalist, straightforward app and support for unlimited simultaneous connections. You can get your first term of its annual plan for just $3.99/month (or 64% off its standard monthly rate of $10.99), which comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and free antivirus protection from VIPRE. After that first year is up, you'll get bumped to $7.50/month. Bitcoin is not accepted.

Editor’s Note: IPVanish and VIPRE are owned by Ziff Davis, Mashable’s publisher. Any Ziff Davis products featured on Mashable are covered independently by our editorial team.

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IPVanish (1 year) (opens in a new tab)
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PureVPN — save 82% on a 27-month plan

Read our full review of PureVPN.

We don't have a ton of nice things to say about PureVPN — our review turned up slow download speeds, buggy apps, iffy Netflix support, and a questionable privacy policy — but hey, it's cheap! Enroll in a 27-month plan and you'll pay only $1.99/month, which is an 82% discount on its normal monthly rate of $10.95. (Don't be afraid to take advantage of its 31-day money-back guarantee if necessary.) You'll switch to a $4.50/month yearly plan at the end of that initial term. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin are accepted.

Optional add-ons include:

the purevpn logo
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PureVPN (27 months) (opens in a new tab)
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Posted on 1 July 2022 | 3:49 pm

Save big on Fire TVs ahead of Prime Day, plus more TV deals as of June 29

Samsung QLED TV sitting in living room

UPDATE: Jun. 29, 2022, 11:45 a.m. EDT This story has been updated with the latest 4K and 8K TV deals.

Large 4K TVs no longer have to cost an exorbitant amount of money. These high-quality TVs featuring punchy colors, decipherable shadows, and smooth transitions are actually affordable for regular consumers. And to make them even more budget-friendly, we've gathered up the best deals on 4K and QLED TVs from top brands like Samsung, LG, Sony, and more.

Samsung TV deals

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Our pick: Samsung 85-inch QN90A Neo QLED TV (opens in a new tab)
$2,599.99 at Samsung (save $2,400)
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Why we love it

A massive TV that was once $5,000 is barely over $2,500 for a limited time. The "Neo" part represents an upgrade to Samsung's QLED technology, which is made up of thousands of sand-sized LED particles that light themselves. Now, the bright and colorful quantum dot display is even more vivid with even more precise brightness.

More Samsung TVs on sale

LG TV deals

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Our pick: LG 70-inch NanoCell 75 Series 4K TV (opens in a new tab)
$699.99 at Best Buy (save $200)
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Why we love it

In 2021, LG dropped a mid-range line of 4K TVs featuring its NanoCell technology, which amps up color depth using an extra light filter. In 2022, that line is becoming more affordable.

More LG TVs on sale

Sony TV deals

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Our pick: Sony 55-inch A80J OLED TV (opens in a new tab)
$1,299.99 at Best Buy (save $400)
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Why we love it

One of Sony's high-end OLED TVs from 2021 is seeing a considerable price drop — probably because the 2022 lineup entered the chat. This isn't your average OLED, either: Instead of relying on AI to optimize brightness, the Cognitive Processor XR chip customizes adjustments to things like skin tone or background light, depending on the angle from which a scene is filmed.

More Sony TVs on sale

Other TV deals from TCL, Vizio, and more

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Our pick: Amazon 55-inch Omni Series 4K TV (opens in a new tab)
$299.99 at Amazon (save $260)
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Why we love it

After years of exclusively outsourcing the Fire TV platform to brands like Insignia and Toshiba, Amazon finally debuted its very own smart TV in fall 2021. The beloved Omni series is well-reviewed for crisp performance and ease of use.

More TVs from TCL, Vizio, and more

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 3:29 pm

The best Apple deals as of June 28: iPad, MacBook, Apple Watch, and more

a person uses the attached keyboard on their ipad

UPDATE: Jun. 28, 2022, 3:25 p.m. EDT We've updated this post with the best deals from across the Apple universe ahead of Prime Day.

You could really kill some time trying to dissect the iron grasp Apple has on the general population, but when it comes down to it, its products look good, work well, and stay cutting-edge — of course people like them. Whether your favorite day of the year is its annual September reveal event or you just want a solid computer no matter the brand, Apple's got you covered. Sure, it is a little notorious for its higher prices, but we've rounded up the best deals on iPads, AirPods, and more to help you out. Check them out below.

Mac and MacBook deals

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Our pick: 2021 MacBook Pro (M1 Pro, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) (opens in a new tab)
$2,299 at Amazon and Best Buy (save $200)
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Why we like it

Check out Mashable's official review of the 2021 MacBook Pro.

This is not an everyday laptop, so it doesn't come at an everyday price. But for people who want to multitask while editing photos or videos, room-filling speakers, a battery life that's built to last, and the workflow that only a 16-inch Liquid Retina XDR display can provide, the latest MacBook Pro is the way to go. As of the time of writing, it's on sale at both Amazon and Best Buy and only $50 shy of the lowest price we've ever seen it.

More Mac and MacBook deals

2021 MacBook Pro

2020 MacBook Pro, 13-inch

2020 MacBook Air, 13-inch

More Macs

Refurbished Macs and MacBooks

iPad deals

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Our pick: 2020 iPad Air (WiFi, 64GB) (opens in a new tab)
$469 at Walmart (save $130)
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Why we like it

Though it's not quite the $200 markdown we saw on this iPad a couple of weeks ago, the sale on this 2020 iPad Air is still worth your attention. No, it doesn't have the M1 chip of its newer counterpart, but its A14 Bionic chip can still handle photo editing and games without a problem. Plus with the new iPadOS 16 update, we doubt you'll be able to tell this iPad is two years old.

More iPad deals


iPad Mini

iPad Air

iPad Pro

iPhone deals

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Our pick: iPhone 13 Mini at Verizon (opens in a new tab)
$0 with an eligible trade-in on a select unlimited plan (save $700)
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Why we like it

Check out Mashable's official review of the iPhone 13 Mini.

Like most phone deals on this list, having a decent trade-in is essential to scoring the most bang for your buck. So why the iPhone 13 Mini? Well, you likely won't need a brand new phone to get the price tag as close to $0 as possible, you're not trading-in for an outdated model, and you get at least 128GB of storage, nice battery life, and cinematic mode without the huge price tag. You can also grab this deal at AT&T.

More iPhone deals

Apple Watch deals

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Our pick: Apple Watch Series 7 (41mm, GPS) (opens in a new tab)
$329 at Amazon (save $70)
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Why we like it

Is it the most exciting Apple Watch deal we've ever seen? No, but it's always nice when the latest Apple Watch, with its blood oxygen and ECG sensors, support of bike workouts, and ample screen space takes a $70 price cut. (It often sits at only $50 or even $30 off.)

More Apple Watch deals

Series 7


Series 3


Apple accessories deals

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Our pick: AirPods Max (opens in a new tab)
$429.99 at Amazon (save $119.01)
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Why we like it

Check out Mashable's official review of the AirPods Max.

Are the only over-the-ear AirPods ridiculously expensive? Yes. But do they offer excellent audio quality and good battery life in a stylish package? Also yes. And they're back down to their Black Friday price, which happens to be their all-time low price, in every color but pink and green.

More Apple accessories deals

Explore related content:

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 3:23 pm

Throw all the summer BBQs with this Weber grill on sale ahead of Prime Day

Weber Spirit II grill

SAVE $90: As of July 1, the Weber Spirit II grill is $90 off as an early Prime Day deal. Get one for just $549 while the discount lasts.

It's summer, and you know what that means: Horribly oppressive heat waves and astronomical electricity bills from having to constantly run your air conditioner at full blast. Also, barbecues!

If you plan on throwing the next BBQ at your place while the weather is still prime, you're going to need a decent grill. The Weber Spirit II is more than decent, and it's $90 off ahead of Prime Day, bringing the price down to $549.

SEE ALSO: Everything you need to know about Amazon Prime Day 2022, from dates to early deals

You really get what you pay for with the Weber Spirit II (a lot). For starters, it comes with a 10-year warranty that covers no-charge part replacement. You'll also get a set of durable, porcelain-enameled cast iron cooking grates, a built-in grease management system, a folding side table with utensil hooks, and Weber's patented Flavorizer™ bars (what a name!).

Get ready to be the BBQ host for at least the next 10 years — pick up a Weber Spirit II at Amazon and save $90 ahead of Prime Day.

Weber Spirit II grill
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Weber Spirit II grill (opens in a new tab)
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Posted on 1 July 2022 | 3:04 pm

Save 36% on a SodaStream One Touch — and save [redacted] on canned seltzer in the process

sodastream one touch sparkling water maker and co2 bottle

SAVE $46: Sparkling water lovers can make their own at home with the SodaStream One Touch sparkling water maker. It's on sale for just $83.99 at Walmart as of July 1 — that's 36% in savings.

With a SodaStream, all your fizzy drink dreams can come true at the touch of a button. Plus, you can stop buying so much LaCroix.

Start making your own sparkling beverages at home by picking up the SodaStream One Touch on sale for $83.99 at Walmart. That's $46 in savings on its suggested retail price of $129.99.

While SodaStream makes quite a few models (two of which made our best soda makers list), the One Touch is the only electric machine among them. Just snap on the carbonating bottle, choose from three levels of preset bubbliness, and let it do its thing.

Like all of SodaStream's machines, the One Touch can slip seamlessly into any kitchen or office with its slim, space-saving design. It comes in both black and white, but the 36% discount only applies to the black model. (The white machine is 16% off.)

It comes with a 60L CO2 cylinder to get you started, as well as the BPA-free carbonating bottle that instantly snaps onto the machine for easy carbonation. If you want flavor drops, you'll have to purchase them separately.

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SodaStream One Touch (opens in a new tab)
$83.99 at Walmart (save $46)
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Posted on 1 July 2022 | 2:48 pm

Prime members can score a refurbished Kindle for $40

a kindle with a blue cover, an iphone, and a pair of sunglasses resting on a brown canvas bag on a sunny day

SAVE $50: Amazon has a certified refurbished 10th-generation Kindle on sale for only $39.99 as of July 1. (Note that the deal is only open to Prime members.) That's 56% off the new version's $89.99 MSRP.

Woot will probably have the top refurbished Kindle deal of the 2022 Prime Day season — $28 is basically the price of a new hardcover book these days — but don't count Amazon out just yet.

As of July 1, anyone with a Prime membership could scoop up a certified refurbished 10th-generation Kindle for $39.99. It's been tested to look and work like new, and it includes the same limited warranty as a fresh-out-the-box device, so the only difference you'll notice is the price. (Brand new ones typically cost $50 more.)

A 2019 release, this particular e-reader has a claim to fame as the first sub-$100 Kindle with an adjustable front light that makes it easily readable outside and in the dark. Other highlights include a 167 ppi glare-free display, 8GB of storage for your ebook library, Audible support for audiobook listening, easy Bluetooth pairing with headphones and speakers, a battery that can last up to four weeks per charge, and a 6-inch frame that's light enough to hold in one hand for hours on end.

Former Mashable tech reporter Ray Wong docked it a few points in his review for lacking water resistance and having a lower resolution than other Kindles from its era (see: the 2017 Kindle Oasis and the 2018 Kindle Paperwhite), but it's a solid choice if you just need a basic e-reader — especially for just $40.

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Refurbished Kindle (2019, 10th generation) (opens in a new tab)
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Posted on 1 July 2022 | 2:38 pm

Prime members can snag a refurbished Echo at a very good discount

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SAVE $37: Want to turn your home into a smart home? As of July 1, Amazon Prime members can save $37 on a certified refurbished fourth-generation Echo. Grab one for just $52.99 — a 41% savings.

Budget and eco-conscious shoppers, this certified refurbished Echo deal is worth checking out ahead of Prime Day.

This recent price drop on the certified refurbished Echo brings it to the lowest price we've seen to date. It also beats the lowest historical price for a new Echo ($59.99), which we haven't seen since around Black Friday last year. By opting for refurbished, you're saving money and taking otherwise functional Echos out of the waste stream — it's a total win-win.

SEE ALSO: Should you get an Echo or Echo Dot? We compare the two.

Note that if you're not an Amazon Prime member, you can still grab the refurbished Echo on sale, but the non-member sale price is $62.99.

The fourth-generation Echo is the best smart speaker for answering questions, playing music, and controlling other smart home devices. It's a definite upgrade from the previous Echo generation, offering better sound quality thanks to its rounded shape and updated speaker system.

Of course, the Echo 4th gen is also Alexa-enabled, giving you hands-free access to your favorite music streaming, podcasts, news, and more.

Amazon's certified refurbished program ensures you'll get a device that works like new, for a fraction of the price. Each product is refurbished and tested before selling. Plus, it comes with the same warranty terms as a brand new Echo.

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Certified refurbished Echo (4th gen) (opens in a new tab)
$52.99 at Amazon (Prime members save $37)
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Posted on 1 July 2022 | 2:26 pm

How to support reproductive rights in the U.S. from outside the U.S.

An illustration of a woman, with many other female faces in her hair and clothes, against the American flag.

Following the reversal of Roe v. Wade, abortion is now restricted or downright illegal in several states in America.

The devastating ruling is already having a severe impact on women and trans and non-binary people who can become pregnant across the U.S., with more consequences expected to follow. Legal and human rights organisations have declared the ruling a public health emergency and "a grim milestone in the history of the United States". In a long history of history of reproductive justice, this loss of bodily autonomy has resulted in protests and outrage across the country.

Many living outside of America have watched, too, in horror as the Supreme Court's decision was announced.

Across the world, abortion rights differ. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), 24 countries worldwide have prohibited abortion altogether, affecting the lives of 90 million women. 41 percent of women of reproductive age live in countries where abortion laws are restrictive. In these circumstances, abortions are only carried out to save a person's life.

Meanwhile, 23 percent of women live in countries that allow abortion "on broad social or economic grounds"; 36 percent reside in countries where abortion is available upon request. The latter category includes France, Spain, Canada, Australia, Argentina, and Colombia.

The CRR says that "monumental gains" have been made globally when it comes to abortion rights over the past few decades. Nearly 50 countries have liberalised their abortion laws over this time.

SEE ALSO: What does Roe v. Wade being overturned mean to you?

In the States, the human right to an abortion is no longer protected by the constitution, taking away from years of progress and movement. The British Medicine Journal (BMJ) has released a report outlining a grim reality: that "while the impact of overturning Roe will be most acutely felt in the U.S., its repercussions will be felt globally." Roe v. Wade has been instrumental for other countries, too, as the study points out, and its reversal can have a rippling affect on public health issues worldwide.

As reproductive rights in the country — and possibly worldwide — are placed in serious peril, many residing outside the U.S. have come together in solidarity. Protests against the ruling, for example, have taken placed in the UK and Australia.

But there may also be a sense of wanting to do more, for those staring at the wall and feeling some hopelessness for those affected in America. Here's an ongoing guide about how to help, and ways to support reproductive rights both globally and at home.

Educate yourself on what's just happened

There's a lot of information out there on Roe v. Wade and the ruling that just took place. Educating yourself and reading about the decision is a solid starting point if you're looking to help.

Mashable has a slew of resources about the Supreme Court overturn. Our reporters have explained how the ruling has come to be and how it will change lives.

There's also an explainer on how privacy will potentially be eroded now that Roe v. Wade has fallen. There's analysis on the impact this decision will have on mental health. There's a compilation of interactive maps which clearly demonstrate how abortion rights will be affected by state, which crisis pregnancy centres try to prevent women from getting abortions, and more.

Donate to abortion funds and reproductive networks

If you are financially able to do so, donating to abortion funds and reproductive networks is a route to making a difference. Mashable's Chase DiBenedetto has put together a list of local organisations, Black and POC-led groups, and support networks. An example is the Black feminist leadership fund, which is split among 10 different Black-led reproductive justice organisations.

"Reproductive justice activists have long been preparing for the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade," DiBenedetto writes.

"The Post-Roe Handbook, published as a book in 2019 by reporter and abortion activist Robin Marty, shares a multitude of digital resources, including activism guides, sample legislation, and a list of practical support organizations — a broad term referring to reproductive health networks that provide a wide array of services to people on the ground. The National Network of Abortion Access Funds also has a guide to finding support networks in your area."

Online, there are documents and resources that list funds and networks worth referring to, such as the one below created by reproductive rights campaigner @helmsinki:

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There are also options per American state and region. In the West and Pacific Northwest, you can donate to Northwest Abortion Access Fund (NWAAF) or Access Reproductive Justice. In the South, you can donate to Fund Texas Choice, Yellowhammer Fund, or Access Reproductive Care Southeast (ARC Southeast). In the in the East, organisations like DC Abortion Fund and Abortion Liberation Fund Pennsylvania are further options. For the full list, refer here.

Follow reproductive justice accounts and resources

Supporting reproductive justice accounts is a tangible way to support the efforts of the many people galvanising to protect human rights. This is a great list of some such organisations, which includes the nationally recognised Planned Parenthood Action, the Abortion Care Network, Indigenous Women Rising, Sister Song, and URGE.

Resources like the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organisation committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights, are invaluable, too. There's a wealth of information, research and advocacy to be found on such platforms.

An illustration of two women holding hands, one holds a blank protest placard.
Stay up to date on reproductive justice conversations. Credit: Vicky Leta / Mashable

Find – or organise – a protest in your country

There are many protests planned in the U.S. but if you're looking to do so outside the country, there are ways.

Looking up hashtags and events on social media, for instance, is an option. Platforms like Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter are often good starting points for finding protests, which can be done by searching #roevwade or relevant phrases (beware, some can commandeer hashtags like this for harmful messaging online, so tread carefully).

Checking events by your location on Eventbrite, for instance, is also effective.

Protest tonight at American Embassy in london re roe v wade

— Andy Hollidge (@AndyHollidge3) June 24, 2022
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If you can't find a relevant protest in your location, organising one is an option. The Activist Handbook explains how to do so, starting with building a team of organisers ("like-minded friends and community members") and defining your strategy together. Deciding your goal and who you want to reach is crucial. Afterwards, you can get the word out — via social media promotions, event pages, and word-of-mouth. The most important thing is to protest safely and legally, ensuring everyone's wellbeing is prioritised.

Get involved with local organisations and reproductive justice networks

Working with organisations and reproductive justice networks at home is a powerful way to uplift reproductive rights and organise both domestic and global efforts.

In the UK, MSI Reproductive Choices and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) have supported reproductive help for decades. BPAS, for instance, encourages people to get involved, by volunteering, donating, and reading their resources. In a statement following the Supreme Court's decision, the organisation said they "are preparing for an escalation in anti-choice protests" outside their clinics, and "anticipating assaults on [UK] abortion law in parliament". These words perfectly illustrate why supporting abortion rights locally is just as crucial at this time.

In Australia, there are online groups like Reproductive Justice Australia, and organisations like MSI Australia and the Human Rights Law Centre.

There is also IPPF European Network, which is one of the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s six regional networks. They work globally, with offices in Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Delhi, Nairobi, Brussels, and more.

Elsewhere in Asia, the CRR launched the South Asia Reproductive Justice and Accountability Initiative (SARJAI), who work in the region to advance and protect reproductive rights. This includes a coalition of organisations, across India, Bangladesh, Nepal and more. Similarly, the Asia Pacific Alliance, is a network of national, regional and global organisations advocating for sexual and reproductive health and rights across the region.

Mindfully share resources on social media

Sharing on social media can be empowering and educational, when done mindfully. Using your personal networks to spread awareness can be impactful, particularly when centring the information and resources from networks (like the many above) and from others who are advocating for reproductive justice. Make sure you ask yourself why you're posting, contextualise your post, and be open to considering responses.

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 1:21 pm

NASA's new innovation could help get humans to Mars by 2040

Engineers have developed an inflatable heat shield called a Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator, or HIAD, the technology could help NASA land astronauts and massive cargo loads on the Red Planet in the late 2030s. Now a team at the space agency's Langley Research Center in Virginia is ready to test its mettle in space.

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 1:15 pm

FCC approves Starlink use in moving vehicles

Two people sitting in an RV on a road in the mountains, one driving, one taking a photo on their phone.

SpaceX's satellite internet service Starlink can now be used in a vehicle in motion after it received FCC approval Thursday, which is great news for thousands of people who want ongoing connectivity on the road.

The Portability feature, unveiled in May, allows people to take their Starlink internet with them anywhere. Using it in a moving vehicle, however, would have voided the warranty prior to Thursday's announcement.

FCC approval was granted for both SpaceX and Canadian satellite company Kepler Communications.

"We agree with SpaceX and Kepler that the public interest would benefit by granting with conditions their applications," the grant reads. "Authorizing a new class of terminals for SpaceX’s satellite system will expand the range of broadband capabilities to meet the growing user demands that now require connectivity while on the move, whether driving an RV across the country, moving a freighter from Europe to a U.S. port, or while on a domestic or international flight."

SEE ALSO: Speedtest data confirms Starlink internet is a rare win for Elon Musk

Through its Earth Stations in Motion (ESIM) terminals (that's the company's internet kits attached to cars, boats, trucks, RVS etc.), Starlink's Portability feature "enables users to temporarily move their Starlink to new locations in order to receive service anywhere within the same continent Starlink provides active coverage." You can see these active coverage areas through the Starlink Availability Map

Starlink can only be used within the same continent as the "service address" you signed up with — so you'll have to move your registered address if you want to take it with you on a boat or to another continent.

Notably, Starlink's FAQ page says the service is "provided on a best effort basis," with speeds not guaranteed, and warns moving users "can expect lower service levels" than those staying put.

"When you bring your Starlink to a new location, this prioritization may result in degraded service, particularly at times of peak usage or network congestion," Starlink says.

But considering Elon Musk's Starlink satellite internet showed big speed jump in Q1 of this year — the median download speed in the U.S. increased by 38 percent, from 65Mbps (Megabits per second) to 90Mbps — it's at least looking up.

Plus, if you're adding Portability to your Starlink account, it'll cost an extra monthly fee of $25. Worth it?

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 1:02 pm

The best gaming headsets for every platform

A set of gaming headphones

What does your perfect gaming set-up look like? We'll take a guess. We’re picturing a really comfortable chair, plenty of drinks and snacks, and maybe some atmospheric lighting. You'll also have your console and controller of choice, obviously.

What about a quality gaming headset? The gaming headset is so often forgotten about, but these devices make such a difference.

The right gaming headset will complete your gaming setup, providing a level of immersion that just isn't possible without incredible sound and music. Whether it's the intense moments in Call of Duty or the epic soundtrack of Final Fantasy, a headset will pull you deeper into the world you're exploring on the screen, making it an all-round reality.

The good news is that there are absolutely loads of gaming headsets available to purchase, with models to consider from top brands like SteelSeries, Turtle Beach, and Logitech. The bad news is that it can be difficult to find the right headset for you with so much on offer.

This is where we can help you out. Here’s some key information.

Do you need a gaming headset?

By blocking out background noise and producing accurate, detailed, and powerful sound that places you in the centre of the action, headsets are your perfect gaming partner. Gaming is all about immersion, after all.

Another reason to consider a headset is that these devices can be the difference between success and failure. Being able to pick up on subtle sounds is absolutely vital at crunch time. We realise that not everyone is that fussed about blocking out the world and dominating opponents, but there are some seriously competitive gamers out there who will be looking to find every possible edge.

What are the best gaming headset features?

There are a lot of gaming headsets out there. This is good thing, but also complicates matters. With so many headsets to consider, it can be tricky to find the best option for you. To make your life that little bit easier, we've researched everything that matters about gaming headsets and lined up the most important things to consider:

Comfort — This one might seem obvious, but nothing ruins a gaming session like an uncomfortable headset, and it simply doesn't matter if an uncomfortable headset produces absolutely incredible sound with an accurate microphone and a stylish design. If it's not comfortable, it's not worth considering.

Durability — The majority of gaming headsets are made from plastic, but this can result is a flimsy and cheap feel. If you can’t find something with a durable metal or wire frame, you should at least try and pick a headset that has a good range of movement. This will offset some of the pressure that comes with a plastic build.

Isolation — Some headsets and games make use of very slight directional audio cues, so a headset's seal heavily impacts the quality of the sound. It's important to consider how the foam of the headphone pad will mould to the shape of your head. If the seal isn't effective, find something that fits better, or purchase replacement pads. Some gaming headsets take isolation even further by offering noise cancellation.

Microphone — When selecting a gaming headset, you should consider whether it comes with a built-in mic. If not, you'll need to purchase a microphone to attach to your headphones. If it does come with a built-in mic (and it should), it's worth checking for noise-cancelling properties, a convenient mute function, and a boom. All of this combines to improve voice clarity, minimise outside distractions, and ensure your privacy.

Style — There are many more important things to consider when it comes to your gaming headset, but style is essential to many gamers. It's always better to prioritise sound and build quality, but there is no reason why you can't have both things with a stylish design.

Surround sound — Getting the edge over the competition really comes down to surround sound. This feature provides accurate omnidirectional hearing, giving you a heads up when enemies are close by. The best gaming headsets are able to map sounds to virtual 3D locations where calibrated speakers can precisely position the sounds for a more realistic listening experience. If someone is sneaking up on you from the left, you’ll hear the sound from that direction.

Keep these things in mind when you're shopping around for the perfect set.

How much does a gaming headset cost?

You can get a decent set for under £100. In fact, there are some very affordable options on this list. But you can also pay much more if you want serious quality and advanced tech. If you’re dedicated gamer, it’s worth spending anywhere up to £300-plus.

What is the best gaming headset?

That all depends on your price range and gaming requirements. To help, we have tracked down a selection of the very best headsets to suit every gamer and every budget, with something for your PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S. We've checked out specs, features, and reviews to give you a clear idea of what headset is best suited to you and your needs.

These are the best gaming headsets in 2022.

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 11:55 am

The best laptop backpacks for commuting and everyday use

Man boarding. a train and wearing a backpack

Backpacks are like life partners. We all need one to get through the day, but finding the right one isn’t easy.

There are loads of different factors to consider (we’re talking about backpacks now, not life partners) like exactly what you'll be using it for, how functional or comfortable it is, what materials will best suit your needs, and how much stuff you'll be able to cram inside.

One thing’s for certain. You want one that can fit a laptop, because you almost certainly own a laptop — the point of which is portability and the freedom to take your work and games with you wherever you go.

Selecting a backpack is also a really personal task. It depends entirely on your lifestyle and day-to-day requirements. There is a lot to think about. Almost as much as when choosing the laptop itself.

What size of laptop backpack should you pick?

If only it was as easy as simply picking a backpack that fits your laptop. As for overall size, think about how you most commonly use your backpack. If you use it while commuting, you might want a slimmer size for saving space on busy trains or buses — or maybe you need it to fit comfortably in the office or at home (which could even mean under the desk).

Conversely, maybe you double-up and take your everyday laptop backpack on hiking or weekend excursions, in which case you may want a bigger bag for packing in extra belongings and accessories. Look out for the bag’s capacity in litres. A smaller bag is around 15 litres and larger capacities are somewhere around the 30-litre mark.

It’s not just about the general size of the bag, but the size of the specifications within it. For instance, different laptop bags are built to fit different laptop sizes – from 13 to 17-inches (and beyond). But the size of the laptop sleeve (that’s the compartment intended for your laptop) will vary from brand to brand. To make sure your laptop fits, look at the manufacturer’s specific measurements. The size of other compartments will also be a factor.

Do you also need to carry a tablet and documents? Or bundles of leads and charging devices? Or space for your gym kit?

What are the most important features in a laptop backpack?

A laptop sleeve is your base requirement, of course. As opposed to a general bag compartment that will hold your laptop but won’t keep it secure, which means your laptop will be banging about.

Commuters or frequent fliers can look for backpacks that have a USB port, which eliminates the issue of needing to find a seat next to a powerpoint. They should also seek out secure locking functions. Hikers may want features such as handy water bottle pockets, extra padding on the straps, or an attachment for a torch. Easy-to-reach front pockets for holding your phone or other necessary items are useful too.

Also consider what other activities you might do with your backpack. If you’re a photographer, you may want space and extra cushioning for your camera. If you’re dedicated to fitness, look for a compartment dedicated to holding your gym gear or trainers. Whatever you need, there’s almost certainly a bag made especially for you.

What materials are backpacks made from?

Materials are always a factor when choosing a backpack. Leather and canvas backpacks will be sturdy and attractive, but will pick up wear and tear faster than synthetic options. Manmade materials such as nylon will be hard-wearing and more durable. For something water resistant, look out for tarpaulin polyester, or PVC.

What style of laptop backpack should you buy?

The backpack is not the only option, of course. There are also tote, messenger, duffel, and briefcase-style bags available. But if it’s a backpack that you’re after — and the backpack is the best all-rounder — there are still style variations to consider:

Technology — These are well suited to anyone whose job or day-to-day activities includes carrying lots of gadgets, devices, leads, and accessories; typically featuring lots of compartments for good organisation.

Vintage or classic — These bags will look like an upgrade on your school bag and will accompany timeless, no-frills fashion. See brands such as Herschel, Jansport, or Fjallraven.

Sports — These bags will likely come from well-known sports brands like Nike or outdoors brands like Osprey and North Face, and will accommodate gym gear, or offer features suitable for active and outdoors lifestyles.

Business — These bags will include a high-end style, such as laptop bags made by Samsonite, or a business casual style that will look good with a suit but shrug off the formality. Look out for brands such as Bellroy or Lily & Drew.

Just something to think about as you begin your purchase process.

How much does a laptop backpack cost?

It’s one of the big questions. As ever, you get what you pay for. Most people aren't willing to drop more than £100 on a backpack — but if you want one that’s robust and big on features, you might need to invest a little extra.

What is the best backpack for your laptop?

Whether you're looking for a basic option for the commute or a heavy-duty backpack with all the bells and whistles, we've got the best bags to fit your needs. We have lined up a selection of the very best laptop backpacks from all the biggest brands.

There is something for everyone in this list. We recommend taking your time, considering everything in this roundup, and then picking a favourite. We're confident that there is something for you.

These are the best laptop backpacks for 2022.

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 11:24 am

The best antivirus software options for Macs

A Mac computer on a desk

You've probably heard that Macs don't need antivirus software, but whoever told you that was wrong. It’s a bit of an outdated myth about Macs.

Sure, Macs are generally more secure than PCs. Windows does tend to have more security vulnerabilities because, while Apple does everything in-house, Windows operates on hardware from a handful of manufacturers. Apple's closed-loop system simply makes holes smaller, which means Mac systems are harder to infiltrate.

But that doesn't mean your Mac's security is invulnerable. Antivirus software is still a worthwhile purchase.

If you’re an unprotected Mac user, it’s time to amend that. But buying tech is tricky, especially if you’re not used to the jargon. That’s why we’re here to help. Here’s some useful information that will help you choose the right antivirus software for your Mac.

Do Macs get computer viruses?

Apple's been the cooler, more progressive option for years, but fewer people own Macs than PCs. Which means fewer targets for criminals, right? The chances of hackers deliberately going after Mac users are definitely in the minority, but not zero.

Hackers know that most Mac owners are under the impression that their laptops — or iPads, which have surged Mac OS's prevalence big-time — are invincible, and therefore might not bother to arm their Mac or iPad with any type of virus defence. They know that the population isn't paying attention. Which is a mistake.

Mac's malware problem has not just caught up to, but outpaced the PC infection rate. A report from Malwarebytes found that Mac malware saw an increase of over 400% between 2018 and 2019. That number is all but guaranteed to rise, with new threats like OSX.Generic.Suspicious and FakeFileOpener.

Adware, or advertisement-supported software, is also a problem. Though not as dangerous as a virus, they bombard your device with ads, and can go as far as to change your browser’s homepage and add spyware.

What's the difference between a virus, malware, and ransomware?

Malware (short for malicious software) is an umbrella term covering any software intentionally to cause damage to a computer, server, network, or the user of any of these things. Malware can be as dully irritating as adware (pop-ups that don't go away) or as dangerous and invasive as webcam spying.

A virus is a form of malware that self-replicates in different programs by using malicious code. The infection can stem from emails or text attachments, links on social media or streaming sites, pop-ups where you really thought you just X-ed out, or seemingly-safe internet downloads like a game or browser add-on.

Ransomware is a form of malware that blocks access to a system until a ransom is paid — essentially holding it hostage.

Does antivirus software work on public WiFi?

Public WiFi is the kind you network you hook up to in coffee shops, hotels, or airports. Unsurprisingly, it's a breeding ground for hackers, who love free WiFi for the same reason you do: connecting to the internet requires no authentication.

Hackers can take advantage by sliding between you and the connection point to eavesdrop on emails, credit card info, or logins, or by distributing malware. 

If you use this type of mobile connection frequently, antivirus software should know how to handle these threats. They should be able to safeguard your online activities, detect phishing threats or subtle-yet-sketchy email addresses, and warn you about questionable URLs before the site loads fully.

Your best-case scenario would be to use a VPN, which software packages such as Norton 360 provide. A VPN adds a level of encryption that a public network can't guarantee to provide, hooking you up to a secure server and adding an extra wall of protection around your data.

What is a password manager?

If you're one of those people who recycles the same password over and over, the number of websites or apps where that password and your email (and credit card info, or worse) are connected is concerning. Vulnerable login credentials are constantly passed around the dark web after major security breaches.

Many antivirus software options consider password-related threats to fall under the security threat umbrella and will include some type of password manager in their package.

These programs take on the task of creating and remembering a super-random password unique to each website you log into. Saying goodbye to your go-to password can be a pain, but CNET insists the security benefits are worth it. 

Do you need antivirus software for your Mac?

In a word, yes. It’s better to be safe than sorry. But which option is the best for you? The research is the most time-consuming part of this selection process, so we've taken care of that. We've taken a look at some of the best antivirus solutions out there for Macs, ensuring that extra layer of security between your data and nasty viruses. We’ve evaluated their effectiveness at detecting viruses, and lay out any of their additional security features too. 

These are the best antivirus software options for your Mac in 2022.

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 10:16 am

Technoblade, 'Minecraft' YouTube creator, dies aged 23

A logo of a pig wearing a crown.

Technoblade, top Minecraft YouTuber, has died aged 23 following a battle with cancer.

The creator's father posted a moving video on YouTube on Thursday titled "so long nerds," with a message written by Technoblade himself. The video had been planned with his family over his final months, but was written by Technoblade about eight hours before he died, his father said. In the message, he revealed his real name: Alex.

"Hello everyone, Technoblade here. If you’re watching this. I am dead," he wrote in the message, read by his father. "Thank you all for supporting my content over the years. If I had another hundred lives, I think I would choose to be Technoblade again every single time as those were the happiest years of my life."

In the video, his father said, "He was the most amazing kid anyone could ever ask for. I miss Technoblade."

Technoblade, who has 10.8 million followers on YouTube, told them of his cancer diagnosis on the platform in August 2021.

Technoblade's family posted a statement that appeared at the end of the video on Thursday.

"We, the family of Technoblade, wanted you all to know just how much he adored and respected his fans and colleagues. From Technoblade's earliest online days, he was always strategizing ways to delight and reward his audience," it read.

"Even after his eventual successes he somehow managed to keep his good-natured humility, competing with an endearing balance between his confidence and self-deprecating with. He avoided personal fame and worked hard to keep his true identity confidential, and we ask you to honor his wishes to protect his privacy and the privacy of his family."

Technoblade’s online store also has a message paying tribute to him, explaining that a portion of proceeds from online orders will be donated to the Sarcoma Foundation of America. "This online store is being run by Technoblade’s family. We know how much joy he has spread over the years and we want to make sure we continue spreading his message," it reads.

Among the products in the store is now a black T-shirt for sale with the words, "so long nerds," followed by "Alexander 'Technoblade'" and "1999-2022" underneath.

Technoblade's friends and fans have posted further truly moving tributes to him online. Some are fellow creators and collaborators, while others have watched the YouTuber for years.

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Hypixel, a Minecraft minigame server, posted a powerful tribute to Technoblade, too, as he was a frequent player on the server. In a statement, founder and CEO Simon Collins-Laflamme described Technoblade as "one of the most internationally adored YouTubers."

"He will be remembered fondly and missed deeply," the post read. "He was a kind, talented, passionate young man with extraordinary potential. We are so thankful to him and grateful to have had him be such a prominent part of the greater community. In many ways, the success of many of us is tied to the success of Technoblade.

The team also encouraged users to pay tribute on "any main lobby" on the server, with the consent of Technoblade's family.

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Technoblade created his channel in 2013, and quickly rose to recognition. He's been called "one of the best Minecraft players in the content creator space".

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 10:11 am

10 expert-approved kid podcasts to hit play on right now

An illustration of a child wearing headphones and using a laptop.

Summer break is here, which means it's the perfect time to pop a pair of headphones on your kids or plug in your favorite smart home device and listen to a family-friendly podcast to fill your time. These podcasts are not just a bunch of fun — they're also incredible opportunities to diversify your child's entertainment and supplement their education.

Common Sense Media, the nonprofit advocacy group providing expert technology and entertainment recommendations to families and teachers, recently announced a new podcast-centered expansion of its Selection Seal, which recognizes media with significant quality and impact on families and society at large. In April, the organization launched its first podcast rating and review site, which seeks to inform listeners about each shows' educational value, its co-listening ability for parents and children, the shows' diversity and authenticity, and the quality of audio. The latest announcement pulls from that in-depth review list of more than 70 child-friendly podcasts, singling out the best of the best for families and kids. Each Common Sense Selection meets the highest editorial standards for overall quality based on diversity, impactful themes, and positive messages and role models.

The newly unveiled list of Common Sense Selections feature 21 of these shows across a range of storytelling formats and topics, from stories of time travel and Puerto Rican culture to kid-friendly news and science programs, like the science sitcom Wow in the World.

SEE ALSO: The 30 best educational podcasts for learning what you missed in school

"It's very clear the podcast world is growing, but what's less obvious is how impactful and innovative kids and family podcasts are and will continue to be as they expand and evolve," said Laura Ordoñez, head of podcast ratings and reviews for Common Sense Media. The intention is to aid parents and kids in their search for educational, creative shows and help more families see the "incredibly diverse and dynamic media format as both an educational and entertainment resource for kids and families," the organization writes. 

Each piece of media on Common Sense's site is reviewed according to specific child development best practices and displays the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate, the organization explains. Common Sense also includes a star rating that reflects overall quality and learning potential. Find out more about the ratings system on the Common Sense Media website.

Check out a few notable picks below, and then visit CommonSense's website for the full list of approved and reviewed Common Sense Selections when searching for your families' next audio adventure.

For younger kids and storytelling

Circle Round, 5 stars (ages 2+)

Circle Round shares 15- to 20-minute adaptations of famous folk tales from around the world, narrated by big names across stage and screen, like broadway actress Phillipa Soo and chef and TV personality Samin Nosrat. Each episode is accompanied by original music to creatively connect the cultural tales with its overarching themes and celebrity guest, engaging even the youngest audience. In Common Sense's 5-star review, the organization points out the podcast's additional web activities, including printable illustrations and coloring pages, and notes the show's central themes of courage, compassion, empathy, and self-control.

Story Seeds, 5 stars (ages 6+)

Story Seeds is a perfect show for book lovers of all ages, as young aspiring writers team up with established children's authors like Katherine Applegate and Dan Gutman to outline and write their own books. Each episode follows the process of turning one child's "story seeds" into a full-fledged narrative, with listeners walking through the storytelling along with both adult and child authors. Common Sense Media notes that the episodes specifically emphasize representation, and foster a sense of empowerment for children who come with ideas from a variety of backgrounds. The organization rates the show 5 stars for the presence of positive role models and diverse representation, and recommends the show's bonus Q&A with each author as additional material for interested families.

Newsy Paloozi, 5 stars (ages 7+)

This podcast is a great entry point for children interested in current events or for parents seeking a way into big conversations about international politics, science, and other newsworthy topics. Episodes about heavy issues, like gun control, are treated delicately for a young audience — the episodes also come with timestamp warnings for those who may want to skip certain news — and each is accompanied by a child correspondent in conversation with an adult in order to better understand what's going on. Common Sense Media highlights this podcast for its notable educational content and positive effect on media literacy.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, 5 stars (ages 7+)

The Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls podcast is inspired by the book of the same name, part of the Rebel Girls series, which shares the real-life stories of notable women around the world and throughout history. In this audio version, other inspirational women, like model Ashley Graham and youth activist Marley Dias, take on the role of narrator to bring these stories to young listeners, which Common Sense Media notes as exemplifying positive role modeling and messaging for children. The podcast has recently moved over to its brand new Rebel Girls App, which offers the same positive podcast content, as well as additional playlists, sleep stories, and soundscapes for listeners of all ages.

For kids exploring bigger topics

Stoopkid Stories, 4 stars (ages 8+)

Stoopkid Stories, narrated by creator Melissa Victor, tells the story of a diverse neighborhood of Black children and their families navigating daily life in a fictional neighborhood, all based on her own experiences growing up in Baltimore. Interwoven with the relatable stories of early childhood, in which kids learn how to process experiences like school drama and braces, are heavier discussions about social activism, racial justice, addiction, and grief. The episodes span the realities of various communities of color in a way that's easy for young children to understand, which Common Sense Media says can help spark important conversations between parents and their children.

The Activators!, 5 stars (ages 8+)

This show spotlights the work of successful young activists working to enact social change for environmental and racial justice, food security, gender justice, and other forms of compassionate social activism. Hosted by kid activist and Disney+ actor Leo Abelo Perry, each young leader participates in a Q&A session all about themselves and their work. Many of the kid leaders run full-fledged nonprofits helping in-need communities — like Blankies 4 My Buddies and Khloe Kares — and they hope to inspire fellow listeners to get involved or start their own movement for social change. Common Sense Media notes the way that Perry succinctly communicates the institutional context behind each movement, all while emphasizing a hope for the future.

Mija Podcast, 5 stars (ages 8+)

Mija Podcast is a multilingual podcast (available in English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, and Arabic) about intergenerational family stories, with each season focused on the members and experiences of a different immigrant family. The show was created by Lory Martinez, a daughter of Colombian immigrant parents who grew up in Queens, New York. In each episode, Martinez enlists the voice of a daughter ("mija" in Spanish) to tell her family's story. Common Sense Media awarded the podcast 5 stars across the board, noting for any worried parents that the show includes descriptions of perilous experiences and racism.

A Kids Book About: The Podcast, 5 stars (ages 8+, some recommend 10+)

Based on the A Kids Book About book series, this podcast tackles sensitive, important topics for families and children in ways that foster ​​empathy, communication, compassion, courage, and curiosity, according to Common Sense Media. The episodes covers real-world issues like body image, racism, gender equality, sexuality, and even specific current and historical events, like anti-Asian racism and the Tulsa race massacre. The episodes are guided by kids and adults who have lived experiences with each topic, and the hosts invite listeners to send follow-up questions.

For the preteen and teen audiophiles 

The Two Princes, 5 stars (ages 8+)

The Two Princes podcast is a fictional audio story that takes on a classic fantasy tale of mythical beasts and star-crossed lovers. In this version, however, the romance centers on two rival princes as they defeat evil and meet a diverse cast of characters during their cross-kingdom travels. The story features queer and racially diverse characters, as well as explorations of sexuality and young love. It also has an impressive celebrity cast, including actresses Christine Baranski and Samira Wiley, so parents might be just as delighted to listen to this fantasy story about LGBTQ identity as their kids are.

Hold Me Back, 4 stars (ages 13+)

Hosted by father and son duo Aidan and Ash ElDifrawi, this conversational podcast tackles subjects that parents and their teens encounter daily, from grades to swearing to heartfelt conversations about mental health. The two — the elder ElDifrawi is a clinical psychologist and the younger will graduate high school next year — engage in healthy debates, sharing both generational perspectives, and invite special guests on the show to add an outside perspective. Episodes go over personal experiences, as well as relatable, societal struggles like social media use and the college admissions process. Common Sense Media gives the show high marks for positive messaging, role models, and education.

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 10:00 am

FBI: Scammers are interviewing for remote jobs using deepfake tech

A comparison of an original and deepfake video of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Scammers have been exploiting deepfake technology to impersonate job candidates during interviews for remote positions, according to the FBI. 

The agency has recently seen an increase in the number of complaints about the scam, the FBI said in a public advisory on Tuesday. Fraudsters have been using both deepfakes and personal identifying information stolen from victims to dupe employers into hiring them for remote jobs. 

Deepfakes involve using AI-powered programs to create realistic but phony media of a person. In the video realm, the technology can be used to swap in a celebrity’s face onto someone else's body. On the audio front, the programs can clone a person’s voice, which can then be manipulated to say whatever you'd like. 

The technology is already being used in YouTube videos to entertaining effect. However, the FBI’s advisory shows deepfakes are also fueling identity theft schemes. "Complaints report the use of voice spoofing, or potentially voice deepfakes, during online interviews of the potential applicants," the FBI says. 

The scammers have been using the technology to apply for remote or work-from-home jobs from IT companies. The FBI didn’t clearly state what the scammers' end goal. But the agency noted, "some reported positions include access to customer PII (personal identifying information), financial data, corporate IT databases and/or proprietary information." 

SEE ALSO: 13 of our favorite deepfakes that'll seriously mess with your brain

Such info could help scammers steal valuable details from companies and commit other identity fraud schemes. But in some good news, the FBI says there's a way employers can detect the deepfakery. To secure the jobs, scammers have been participating in video interviews with prospective employers. However, the FBI noted that the AI-based technology can still show flaws when the scammer is speaking.

"The actions and lip movement of the person seen interviewed on-camera do not completely coordinate with the audio of the person speaking," the agency said. "At times, actions such as coughing, sneezing, or other auditory actions are not aligned with what is presented visually."

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 9:59 am

The best antivirus software options for keeping safe and secure online

A laptop and hand with a cup of coffee

Getting decent antivirus software is as essential as a keyboard and a mouse. It’s madness to plug in and get online without it, quite frankly. Because whatever computer you have, there’s something nasty out there trying to do it damage.

Staying safe from viruses, malware, ransomware, and phishing threats is just the beginning when it comes to what a good antivirus software package can protect you from. Many manufacturers now take a holistic approach to keeping your data safe, tackling more than just the odd dodgy file that might land on your system. 

There are plenty of options out there for securing your PC, so it can be hard to know what package to purchase. Free antivirus software is an option but, typically, free solutions have fewer options and features than paid software. It's not so much the hardware that's in danger, but details like your private documents, banking details, and personal photos that could be at risk here.

Generally, you do get what you pay for, and what price can you put on keeping your computer (and, more importantly, the data on there) safe from potential threats? But buying this stuff can be a chore — with science, jargon, and impenetrable tech speak blinding many consumers. That’s why we’re here help.

Here’s some handy need-to-know information.

What is antivirus software?

Antivirus software is a programme that’s designed to detect and remove viruses and other malicious software (or malware, as it’s better known) from your computer. They work by detecting, isolating, and deleting viruses, which prevents the malware from damaging your device. Antivirus products update automatically to provide protection against the latest viruses and malware.

What’s the difference between viruses and malware?

They’re different but also the same. Malware is an umbrella term for all kinds of malicious software. Viruses are just one type of malware. Other types include trojans, spyware, ransomware, and scareware.

How do computer viruses work?

A computer virus will replicate itself and spread to devices as widely and quickly as possible (hence the name virus — named after a biological virus, which infects living things in the same way). Computer viruses infect applications and email. They are transmitted via websites, email attachments, storage devices, and even routers. Simple viruses can damage a hard disk or delete files. More sophisticated viruses can cause you to spam or have clever ways of avoiding detection.

What’s the different between antivirus and anti-malware software?

Antivirus software detects and removes viruses and some other types of malicious software, while anti-malware is a program that safeguards the system from all sorts of attackers. Anti-malware tends to deal with newer, more sophisticated threats. Antivirus software often comes built into a new PC (but don’t let that stop you upgrading) while anti-malware is usually an add-on.

What’s the best antivirus software?

It’s tricky to pick one because each one will suit different people and different types of computer usage. It’s worth remembering that having multiple antivirus software programs installed can causes issues, so it’s best to stick with one. There are features worth looking out for to help make your choice. For instance, many threats stem from internet browsing so phishing protection can be a vital feature. Spyware and adware are also a problem, so it's worth checking out antivirus software options that can scan for these too. 

Finally, you need software that provides an on-demand malware scan, as well as a vulnerability scan, so that you're always in control of what's going on with your data. Security is a fast-moving field so you want software that keeps on top of new trends, such as the recent growth in ransomware keen to steal your files from under you. 

If that all sounds a bit complicated, don't sweat it — we've checked out the best paid antivirus software solutions and will outline why they're worth the money.

These are the best antivirus solutions for every situation in 2022.

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 9:21 am

The 13 best new TV shows of 2022

A triptych image of

TV did good in the first half of 2022. From January to June, we got a supervillain-turned-hero whose narrative dismantles toxic masculinity, a stunningly unique workplace drama with a sci-fi bend like no other, queer pirates, a feel-good elementary school sitcom, Julian Fellowes back in the rich white people problems saddle, and many more excellent new additions to the forever-growing list of must-see TV. 

These are the 13 best new shows of 2022, so far. Catch up before the last half of the year brings even more new obsessions.

1. Severance

Adam Scott sitting at a computer in "Severance."
Credit: Courtesy of Apple TV+

Apple TV+'s excellent drama Severance is "an anti-capitalist fable with a Black Mirror twist." It imagines a world where workers can "sever" their work memories from their civilian memories, resulting in a bizarre, sterile office world that only exists when employees are physically in the office and "regular" people who have no idea what they do in their hours at work. Led by Adam Scott in a tremendous role, the Severance cast often plays double duty — portraying their work selves and their out-of-work selves as two entirely different characters.

The creeping mystery of what exactly their company does with their labor maintains suspense through the show's nine episodes, complete with twists no one can see coming and a cliffhanger ending that guarantees a thrilling second season. — Alexis Nedd, Senior Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: Severance is now streaming on Apple TV+.

2. The Afterparty

The Afterparty is essential 2022 viewing. It's a sprawling whodunit led by an utterly bonkers ensemble of young comic dynamos — Sam Richardson, Ben Schwartz, and Ilana Glazer, to name just a few — who are all suspects in the murder of a pop star (Dave Franco). 

There's a twist here, though: Each episode amounts to a retelling of what happened from different perspectives, and those accounts all lean on specific genre and blockbuster tropes that reflect the personality of the suspect being questioned, from big action romps to creeping thrillers to lavish musicals. All of that sits on top of the actual mystery, an elaborate puzzle that only the sharpest viewers will solve before the finale pulls all the pieces together. — Adam Rosenberg, Senior Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: The Afterparty is now streaming on Apple TV+.

3. Moon Knight

Oscar Isaac as Moon Knight in Marvel Studios' MOON KNIGHT.
Credit: Courtesy of Marvel Studios

With Ms. Marvel off to a rollicking and formula-breaking start, Moon Knight may not be the best of Marvel's 2022 offerings when all is said and done. However, that doesn't detract from the Oscar Isaac-led Disney+ series, which is wild and refreshingly untethered from the MCU formula in its own way.

Isaac stars in the dual role of Marc Spector and Steven Grant, and their respective metahuman forms: Moon Knight and Mr. Knight. Spector's powers are his reward for living in thrall to Khonshu, ancient Egyptian god of the moon. Grant's situation is...more complicated, and best left in the realm of spoilers. His suit is spiffy as hell, though. 

Propelled by terrific performances from Isaac, a great supporting cast that includes Ethan Hawke and May Calamawy, and refreshingly authentic representation for Arab and Jewish viewers alike, Moon Knight is the kind of Marvel adventure we'd like to see more of in the future. — A.R.

How to watch: Moon Knight is now streaming on Disney+.

4. Pachinko

One of the most ambitious new shows of 2022 is also among its most rewarding. Based on Min Jin Lee's best-selling novel, Pachinko spans not only decades but also generations, following a family line from an impoverished community in 1915 Korea to a prosperous Japan in 1989. The center of this moving saga is matriarch Kim Sunja, who grows from an intrepid child (Yu-na) to a pregnant, unwed teen (Kim Min-ha), to a grandmother (Academy Award-winning star of Minari, Youn Yuh-jung) too often patronized by her doting son (Soji Arai) and hotshot banker grandson Solomon (Jin Ha).

Created by Soo Hugh, this sensational drama series slides back and forth across its timeline, paralleling Sunja's journey with Solomon's. Though she was raised in poverty and he in prosperity, both face challenges of racism, weighty family expectations, and impossible loves. Incredibly, though Pachinko hits on many dark elements, it's resiliently hopeful, delivering on the promise of its exhilarating opening title sequence. If you're looking for a series to grab you, heart and soul, Pachinko is a safe bet for satisfaction. — Kristy Puchko, Deputy Entertainment Editor

How to watch: Pachinko is now streaming on Apple TV+.

5. Our Flag Means Death

Taika Waititi and Rhys Darby in "Our Flag Means Death."
Credit: Aaron Epstein/HBO Max

Do you love pirates? Do you love rom-coms? Then you're really going to love the excellent pirate rom-com Our Flag Means Death. Creator David Jenkins and executive producer Taika Waititi bring the Golden Age of Piracy to life with a healthy dose of comic irreverence, following the comedy of errors that is rich landowner Stede Bonnet's quest to be a pirate. Along the way, Stede (played by frequent Waititi collaborator Rhys Darby) crosses paths with legendary swashbuckler Blackbeard (Waititi), and their ensuing relationship is what really drives the show. Lauded for its killer ensemble cast and thoughtful portrayal of queer relationships, Our Flag Means Death is worth all the hype and more. — Belen Edwards, Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: Our Flag Means Death is now streaming on HBO Max.

6. The Gilded Age

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes turns his attention to late-1800s America with The Gilded Age, a tale of high society that pits old money New Yorkers against the wealthier and increasingly powerful new generation of millionaires threatening their social standing. The show has many of Downton's hallmarks, complete with an incorrigible doyenne in the form of Christine Baranski's Agnes van Rhijn, a wide-eyed newcomer to wealth played by Louisa Jacobson, and a beautiful, unscrupulous pseudo-heroine with unstoppable fashion sense in Carrie Coon's Bertha Russell. It's glam, it's great, it's…The Gilded Age. — A.N.

How to watch: The Gilded Age is now streaming on HBO Max.

7. Heartstopper

A teenager in a British schoolboy's uniform surrounded by cartoon hearts.
Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

From beloved webcomic to graphic novel to Netflix series, Heartstopper is a truly sweet teen romance that will steal your heart. English writer and illustrator Alice Oseman has extracted the characters of her Tapas/Webtoon/Tumblr hit 2016 webcomic and found real-life ambassadors for them in the screen adaptation directed by Euros Lyn.

Heartstopper lies on the sugary sweet end of the teen dramedy series spectrum, worlds apart from Euphoria and Skins, younger but just as delightful as Sex Education, with a new gay love story akin to Love, Viktor. But it doesn’t shy away from a poignant examination of queer identity amid steadfast heteronormativity. — Shannon Connellan, Mashable UK editor *

How to watch: Heartstopper is now streaming on Netflix.

8. The Man Who Fell to Earth

The Man Who Fell to Earth is a sequel to the 1976 film of the same name starring David Bowie, and it rules. It pays homage to its predecessor while spinning a smart, all-too-relevant story about an alien attempting to save his homeworld from total collapse. That alien is Faraday (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and his quest on Earth is to find scientist Justin Falls (Naomie Harris) and recruit her to his cause. Ejiofor and Harris are both brilliant, as is Bill Nighy, who takes on Bowie's role from the original film. If you're looking for smart, fascinating science fiction, this should be at the top of your list. — B.E.

How to watch: The Man Who Fell to Earth is now streaming on Showtime.

9. Somebody Somewhere

Jeff Hiller and Bridget Everett in "Somebody Somewhere."
Credit: Matt Dinerstein/HBO

Somebody Somewhere is an exceptional dramedy about finding community and the people who really understand you. Sam (Bridget Everett) is mourning the recent death of her sister, and she's struggling to view her hometown of Manhattan, Kansas, as her home. Enter former classmate Joel (Jeff Hiller), who invites Sam to an open mic night disguised as a church choir practice. Their ensuing friendship, through all its ups and downs, is the core of this sweetly moving show, in large part due to stellar performances by Everett and Hiller, as well as Everett’s real-life pal (and NYC drag king royalty) Murray Hill. Do yourself a favor and watch: Somebody Somewhere is something special. — B.E.

How to watch: Somebody Somewhere is now streaming on HBO Max.

10. I Love That For You

I Love That for You is a rare glimpse at comedic lightning in a bottle. Every character is perfectly cast, with quirks and personalities that exquisitely complement each other. [Jenifer] Lewis, in particular, shines as a fiercely independent woman who loves Rolos more than people and gives her one-night stands "fuck baskets" to encourage them to leave her house. And of course, the series would be nothing without [Vanessa] Bayer, who could teach a charming master class on how to be painfully awkward. Joanna’s beaming smile, over-the-top reactions, and rogue body language are endlessly amusing. Her random sound effects, voices, and flustered word salads could easily make one snort. And her unnaturally abbreviated words — from "gelat" (short for gelato) to "thank" (short for thank you) — are so cringeworthy you can't help but love them. — Nicole Gallucci, Entertainment Reporter *

How to watch: I Love That For You is now streaming on Showtime.

11. Abbott Elementary

You know that kind of feel-good comedy that's not exactly escapist because it never lets you forget the troubles of the real world, but is radiantly heartwarming all the same? That's the kind of comedy Abbott Elementary offers, making it the top of its sitcom class.

Created by and starring Quinta Brunson, Abbott Elementary is an Office-like mockumentary that welcomes viewers behind the scenes (or into the teacher's lounge) of a predominantly Black public school in Philadelphia, where the educators are as hilariously flawed as they are lovable. Among the staff, there are newbie/idealists Janine (Brunson) and Jacob (Chris Perfetti), jaded substitute teacher Gregory (Tyler James Williams), no-nonsense veterans (Lisa Ann Walter and Sheryl Lee Ralph), and a self-obsessed diva/problem-making principal (Janelle James). Together, they face budget issues, soiled carpets, faulty electricity, and a slew of other unglamorous problems that are just everyday issues for teachers in America. But through it all, Brunson and her A+ ensemble bring humor and humanity that makes the real world feel bearable. If you're hungry for TV's version of comfort food, look no further. — K.P.

How to watch: Abbott Elementary is now streaming on Hulu.

12. Minx

What happens when you pair a feminist journalist with a porn publisher? You get Minx. HBO Max's comedic take on the creation of a '70s feminist porn magazine is an absolute delight, from the heated confrontations between Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond) and Doug (Jake Johnson) to an unforgettable penis montage. If you love workplace comedies, sex positivity, and killer vintage fashion, Minx is 100% for you. — B.E.

How to watch: Minx is now streaming on HBO Max.

13. Peacemaker

John Cena in "Peacemaker."
Credit: Katie Yu/ HBO Max

The DC Comics Extended Universe has had more than a few dumpster fire moments at and adjacent to the movies in recent years, but the creative direction guiding the franchise's TV and streaming adventures is absolutely killing it. Nowhere is that more apparent than Peacemaker, the John Cena-led HBO Max series which spins off director James Gunn's bloody and brutal The Suicide Squad.

Peacemaker picks up after the events of the 2021 blockbuster, with Cena's eponymous vigilante anti-hero taking on a mysterious threat as a member of a secret government-sponsored strike team. That's only part of the picture. A synopsis can't possibly capture what makes Peacemaker so excellent. It's the characters, the writing that fuels them, and the fearless engagement with difficult topics and deep-seated traumas that makes this show sing. 

If you're a fan of the excellent animated Harley Quinn series, think of Peacemaker as its spiritual live-action sibling. — A.R.

How to watch: Peacemaker is now streaming on HBO Max.

*The asterisk indicates that this blurb was pulled from another Mashable review.

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 9:00 am

The Turbo Vibration Plate aims to help with chronic pain, and it's over $200 off

Hands setting down black vibration machine on ground

TL;DR: Until July 5, the Turbo 3D Vibration Plate is on sale for $239.99 with the code JULY20 (that's down 46% from its regular price of $444.99).

Working can take a toll on your body, even if your job has you at a desk most of the time. If the first thing you do when you leave your desk at the end of the day is groan, the Turbo 3D Vibration Plate could be a way to alleviate some of that pain. The Turbo 3D is an upgrade from LifePro’s old vibration machine that we’ve featured before. Normally $444, during our 4th of July Sale, the Turbo 3D Vibration Plate is on sale for $239.99 with code JULY20 from now until July 5. 

Turbo 3D delivers three distinct movements for different modes of recovery. It pulses, oscillates, or mixes the two. The motion could help alleviate chronic pain, tone muscles, and improve circulation.

For sufferers of chronic pain, this vibration plate could be a boon. It claims to offer “immediate pain relief” for the back, knees, and joints. While the pulsating motion of the dual motors may be therapeutic, it may take some finagling to find the right motion for you. This model comes with 99 adjustable speeds, and there are myriad workouts and resting motions you can take with it. It’s even rated to support up to 300lbs. It may take some time to find the vibration that feels best for your pain or demonstrates positive results, but you may have a pleasant time along the way. 

Though the Turbo 3D Vibration Plate normally sells for $444, during this 4th of July Sale, you can get it for $239.99 with coupon code JULY20. But hurry, the sale ends July 5. 

Prices subject to change.

Black vibration plate
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Credit: LifePro Fitness
Turbo 3D Vibration Plate (opens in a new tab)
$239.99 at the Mashable Shop with code JULY20
(opens in a new tab)

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 9:00 am

Toast to 15 bottles of wine shipped to straight to your front door for less than $6 each

Hands holding glasses of white wine to clink together

TL;DR: As of July 1, you can get Wine Insiders' 15 Bottles of Mixed Wines for just $85 instead of $300, which comes out to a 71% discount.

There’s something special about a glass of wine at the end of the day. It’s not just the antioxidants, either. If you consider yourself a wine lover, then you might like to try out Wine Insiders. This one-time purchase gets you 15 bottles of wine selected from a list with selections from around the world. Normally, 15 bottles from Wine Insiders would cost $300, but for a limited time, it’s on sale for only $85. 

Wine Insiders seems to pride themselves on the rigor with which they curate their wines. They claim that a panel of wine-tasting experts approves only 5 out of every 100 bottles they sample. That 5% approval rate doesn’t stop them from having a huge selection though. Shop for wines by category, region, or even by dietary restriction. Shop for a vegan red from France as easily as you’d pick a cabernet from the shelf.

This 15-bottle shipment of wine pulls from their reds and whites as a sort of sampler. If you’re considering becoming a member, this selection could give you insight into the quality and range of wines you could experience. You might even get one of the wines that won the 2021 International Wine & Spirits Competition Sommelier Challenge

Award-winning wines aside, this is also just a great deal on high-end wine. At $85, you would be paying roughly $6 per bottle. Just by reviewing their wine selection pricing, you could see that Wine Insiders does not have a wine worth less than $10.

Sit back and relax with a glass from a bottle straight to your door. All you have to do is make one purchase, redeem the code that’s sent to you, confirm you’re of drinking age, and then your wine will be on the way. Get 15 bottles shipped straight to your door. 

Usually, 15 bottles of mixed wines from Wine Insiders would cost you $300, but for a limited time, you can get it on sale for $85 — that's less than $6 a bottle. 

Prices subject to change.

15 bottles of assorted wines in a row
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Credit: Wine Insiders
Wine Insiders: 15 Bottles of Mixed Wines for Only $85 (opens in a new tab)
$85 at the Mashable Shop
(opens in a new tab)

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 9:00 am

TikTok proves no one is going to ask you what you're listening to

Examples of the three trends.

Strap in folks, no matter what's going on in the world the TikTokkers keep on TikTokking. This week they're making fun of what are you listening to videos, playing Taylor Swift's "Safe & Sound," and naming horrible situations.

I'm listening to...

At this point what are you listening to videos are a popular genre on TikTok. They're inescapable and have been for quite some time making them a tired premise, but recently creators have begun to play with their ubiquity. Enter the anti-what are you listening to video.

SEE ALSO: The enduring appeal of what are you listening to videos

In a traditional what are you listening to video, a creator approaches someone on the street and asks, "What are you listening to." The new twist involves someone off-camera will asking someone on the street an urgent or practical question and them responding, "Oh, I've always wanted to be asked that! I am listening to..." The trend pokes fun at people's eagerness to participate in these videos and breathes life into a played-out concept.

In an incredible example of this trend, @toekneecorrado drops a bag of tennis balls. The person behind the camera approaches him and says, "Sir, you dropped your tennis balls." He replies, "Oh my gosh, I've always wanted to be in one of these. It's 'Down' by JaySean featuring Lil Wayne." Then he proceeds to do an entire choreographed dance to "Down." The video racked up over 6 million views and 1.7 million likes.

A man walking while dropping tennis balls.
Sir, you've dropped your tennis balls! Credit: TikTok / toekneecorrado
A man dancing.
Impeccable "Down" choreo. Credit: TikTok / toekneecorrado

Just close your eyes

The latest Taylor Swift song turned TikTok trend is none other than "Safe & Sound," the haunting track Swift contributed to The Hunger Games soundtrack back in 2012. In TikTok fashion, the original meaning of the song has been discarded and TikTokkers have narrowed in on the line, "just close your eyes." They're using it to highlight situations where they wish someone had remained ignorant. It's a classic TikTok trend where people commiserate online about things they wouldn't want to share in their real lives. Makes sense!

There have been nearly 19,000 videos made using "Safe & Sound," and 15,000 of those videos were posted this week.

An example of the trend is @minioninthesink's video that reads, "when you go to show him something your friends sent you but the chat is full of pictures of his ex." Oops. Another video posted by @clemaris says, "When someone borrows my phone to search something up and safari opens to a fanfic."

A woman's face with the text,  "when you go to show him something your friends sent you but the chat is full of pictures of his ex."
Oops. Credit: TikTok / minioninthesink
Half of a woman's face with the text, ""When someone borrows my phone to search something up and safari opens to a fanfic."
Awkward. Credit: TikTok / clemaris

"I would rather have someone shoot me in the head with a nail gun repeatedly"

Two weeks ago, the adaptation of Jenny Han's novel The Summer I Turned Pretty came out on Amazon and the internet has since been ablaze with viewers choosing sides in the juicy love triangle. Are you team Jeramiah, team Conrad, or team Cam? Based on this trend, it seems TikTokkers are learning toward Conrad, thanks to his flair for the dramatic.

TikTokker @sarai posted a soundbite from The Summer I Turned Pretty audiobook: "Chapter 35 Conrad: I would rather have someone shoot me in the head with a nail gun repeatedly." The line sounds like it's been delivered with a straight face which makes it all the funnier. Unsurprisingly TikTokkers are using it to accompany things they absolutely would not want to do. The sound has been used in nearly 5,000 videos.

A couple of standouts of the trend are @hate.noel's video that reads, "imagine if you woke up and you were in your sophomore year of high school," and @brynnislame's video that says, "when we have to do bearcrawls at practice." I have not heard that word in years and wish to never hear it again.

A woman's face with the text, "when we have to do bearcrawls at practice."
Not bear crawls. Credit: TikTok / brynnislame

Childhood Trauma Test

PSA: Do not take the BetterMe "Childhood Trauma Test" that's been floating around TikTok. It's a data collection tool and there's no information if it has been vetted by the mental health community.

Posted on 1 July 2022 | 9:00 am