Get in the Halloween Spirit With The Nightmare Before Christmas Theme Played on Spooky Decorations

Get in the Halloween Spirit With The Nightmare Before Christmas Theme Played on Spooky Decorations

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It’s the perfect time of year to curl up with your favorite festive films as the holidays arrive, staring with Halloween. What’s your favorite spooky flick? A classic horror movie, or something lighter? Leslie Wai clearly has an infinity for the latter, as he’s created a wonderful tribute to Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas by performing “This is Halloween” using nothing but sounds recorded from spooky decorations.

We never realized that something as simple as pouring candy from one bucket to another had so much musical potential–but we can’t but help feel a little disappointed that Wai wasn’t able to incorporate that cheesy but iconic electronic wailing sound effect that so many animated Halloween figures use.

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October 22, 2018 at 09:03PM

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Linus Torvalds returns to Linux development with new code of conduct in place

Linus Torvalds returns to Linux development with new code of conduct in place

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Linus Torvalds, the software engineer and outspoken Linux kernel creator, has returned to oversee the open source project following a self-imposed break last month designed to help him adjust his controversial behavior. Torvalds, who has a reputation for being rude and aggressive to other members of the community, said at the time that wanted to address his “flippant” actions and proclivity for personal attacks. “I need to change some of my behavior, and I want to apologize to the people that my personal behavior hurt and possibly drove away from kernel development,” Torvalds wrote at the time.

Now, about one month later, interim Linux chief Greg Kroah-Hartman, who Torvalds appointed to oversee development of the kernel, has announced that he’s “handing the kernel tree” back to Torvalds in the announcement note for version 4.19. “These past few months has been a tough one for our community, as it is our community that is fighting from within itself, with prodding from others outside of it,” Kroah-Hartman wrote. “So here is my plea to everyone out there. Let’s take a day or two off, rest, relax with friends by sharing a meal, recharge, and then get back to work, to help continue to create a system that the world has never seen the likes of, together.”

While Torvalds has yet to release a statement of his own, ZDNet reports that he and Kroah-Hartman are both currently in Scotland meeting with Linux developers for the Open Source Summit Europe conference. Linux is an open source project, but Torvalds oversees the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML) and he and Kroah-Hartman receive funding from the non-profit Linux Foundation to maintain kernel development and manage its community of contributors.

As part of Torvalds return to the Linux community, the Linux Foundation has officially instated its revised code of conduct that now subscribes to the principles of the more widely adopted and inclusive Contributor Covenant created by Coraline Ada Ehmke. Torvalds announced the new code of conduct in his initial note about stepping back, and the move created controversy in the Linux community for its stark departure from Torvalds’ prior “code of conflict” that treated no-filter feedback and bluntness as the natural and more successful state of open source software development.

The new code of conduct asks that contributors deliver criticism constructively and to accept such criticism mindfully, that people use inclusive language, and that members of the community be respectful of “differing viewpoints and experiences.” It also prohibits “sexualized language or imagery,” derogatory comments, personal or political attacks, and “public or private harassment.” Korah-Hartman described the thought process behind pushing for a more inclusive code of conduct in the 4.19 announcement:

And we all need to remember that, every year new people enter our community with the goal, or requirement, to get stuff done for their job, their hobby, or just because they want to help contribute to the tool that has taken over the world and enabled everyone to have a solid operating system base on which to build their dreams.

And when they come into our community, they don’t have the built-in knowledge of years of experience that thousands of us already do. Without that experience they make mistakes and fumble and have to learn how this all works. Part of learning how things work is dealing with the interaction between people, and trying to understand the basic social norms and goals that we all share. By providing a document in the kernel source tree that shows that all people, developers and maintainers alike, will be treated with respect and dignity while working together, we help to create a more welcome community to those newcomers, which our very future depends on if we all wish to see this project succeed at its goals.

It’s not clear whether the state of Linux development will suddenly become more accepting and positive, especially considering Torvalds was only gone for about one month. But with the new code of conduct in place, and Torvalds’ pledge to examine his actions and improve his behavior, it sounds like productive first steps are being made to revise the Linux community’s culture for the better.

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October 22, 2018 at 08:20PM

The Obscure and Underrated Candies You Should Give Away (and Eat) This Halloween

The Obscure and Underrated Candies You Should Give Away (and Eat) This Halloween

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Graphic: Shep McAllister

Every house on the block will be giving out packs of Tootsie Rolls and Smarties. Want to give the trick-or-treaters in your neighborhood something special? Try these underrated candies.

Flavored KitKats

You know KitKat, but Japan knows how to do KitKat right. The wild assortment of KitKat flavors you can find in Japan—like green tea, raspberry, or strawberry—are easily obtained on Amazon via importers. They’re much tastier than the boring old chocolate ones you’re used to.

Lindt Chocolate Truffles

Lindt’s chocolate truffles look more like they’re getting dressed up for prom than for Halloween, but they’re the kind of gourmet candy that makes Reese’s Cups look like Mallo Cups. They’re pricier than your typical Halloween candy, so you may prefer to keep them for your own Halloween party rather than give them out to kids who, let’s be honest, won’t appreciate them like you will.

Kasugai Fruit Gummies

When it comes to gummies, Haribo may be the standard bearer, but Japanese brand Kasugai makes some of the most unique ones around. This Snack Monster pack comes with 100 individually wrapped gummies in flavors like mango, kiwi, lychee, and even ramune, in addition to more familiar flavors like grape, watermelon, and strawberry.

Plenty of other varieties of Kasugai gummies are widely available on Amazon, so be sure to to browse.

Ferrero Hanuta Hazelnut Sandwich

The phrase “hazelnut sandwich” may not sound like the kind of thing you’d give out for Halloween. Yet this chocolate wafer confection from the same company that makes Nutella is way more delicious than it has any right to be. A ~$20-$25 box (there are a few listings on Amazon) comes with 18 individually wrapped packs with two sandwiches each, so you’ll be forgiven for sticking to one pack per kid.

Coffin Crisp

Straight from Canada, Coffee Crisp is a tasty wafer candy bar with a coffee cream taste. For Halloween, though, the company introduces a special edition, Coffin Crisp. There’s not much difference aside from a spooky skeleton on the box, but you do get 30 bars for about $17-$18, which isn’t the worst deal.


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October 22, 2018 at 08:09PM

Ford’s self-driving cars hit the streets of the nation’s capital

Ford’s self-driving cars hit the streets of the nation’s capital

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Ford self-driving car in Washington, D.C.Ford is expanding its self-driving car program, which seeks to find business uses for the technology, to Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital joins Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Miami as a site for Ford’s autonomous car testing.

“Both Ford and district officials are committed to exploring how self-driving vehicles can be deployed in an equitable way across the various neighborhoods that make up Washington, D.C., in a way that promotes job creation,” Ford autonomous-vehicle boss Sherif Marakby said in a blog post.

Ford plans to deploy prototype self-driving cars in all eight of the district’s wards and to eventually establish business pilot programs in all eight wards as well. The automaker previously launched autonomous-delivery pilots in Florida, in concert with Postmates and Domino’s. These pilot programs are a prelude to Ford’s planned launch of a production self-driving car for commercial fleets in 2021. In addition to delivery services, Ford has discussed ridesharing as a possible use for self-driving cars.

Autonomous cars could potentially take jobs from human drivers, but Ford claims to be working with local D.C. interests to create jobs around the technology. In his blog post, Marakby said Ford will train self-driving car safety drivers locally, and create more training opportunities for automotive technicians. Ford will also establish a terminal for its self-driving car fleet in Ward 5 that will handle dispatching and routine maintenance.

Marakby said Ford chose D.C. as its latest self-driving car testing ground because of its large population and high annual visitor count. Support from Mayor Muriel Bowser was a crucial ingredient as well. Autonomous cars will also serve as a form of four-wheeled lobbying: Demonstrating the cars on local streets complements Ford’s ongoing push for favorable self-driving car legislation.

Ford has taken a slightly different approach to other companies in that it is already preparing to manage fleets of self-driving cars as a business, rather than just a test program. The company has set out to tackle mundane but important issues like coordinating maintenance and figuring out how human customers will interact with a driverless delivery vehicle. While some competitors may beat it to market, Ford may be better prepared to operate self-driving cars in commercial service when 2021 rolls around.

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October 22, 2018 at 06:51PM

Common Google Pixel 3 problems and how to fix them

Common Google Pixel 3 problems and how to fix them

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The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are arguably among the five best Android phones to date. They feature top-tier specs, stock Android software — and, of course, all the artificial intelligence Google can pack into them.

Of course, the devices aren’t perfect. Since the launch of the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, a few issues related to the phones have popped up — and they are issues that you might be experiencing too.

In case you have run into problems related to the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, we’ve put together this guide. Here’s everything you need to know about the Pixel 3 line’s problems, and how to fix them.

Problem: Photos aren’t saving

A number of users have reported that after taking a photo with the camera app, those photos aren’t saving — essentially meaning that the photo could be gone forever. That’s a pretty major problem, and one that seems to be pretty widespread too — a number of users on Reddit have reported running into it. The issue, in particular, seems to come up when you take a photo with the Google Camera app, then switch to another app or lock the phone immediately after taking the photo. In some situations, the photo will eventually appear again in the gallery, but that doesn’t seem to happen all the time.

The issue seems to be related to how the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL handle memory — which thankfully means that it could be fixed with a software update.

Potential solution:

  • For now, the only way to prevent losing a photo is to keep the camera app open for a few seconds after taking the photo until it saves.
  • It’s highly likely that Google is working on a software fix for the issue, and will release an Android update fixing the problem in the very near future. To check for an update, head to SettingsSystemSystem Update, and make sure you have the latest version of Android.

Bug: Music app closes when you open the camera app

Other users have reported that opening the camera app while listening to music seems to cause the music app to close in the background — stopping the playback of the music. This is another bug that seems to be related to memory management on the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. We were able to replicate the problem, both with Spotify and with Google’s own YouTube Music.

Because the issue seems to be related to memory handling, it’s very likely we’ll see a software update fixing the issue in the near future. It’s possible the issue is actually the same problem causing photos not to save — and that it all comes down to issues with the Pixel 3 not handling its 4GB of memory well enough.

Potential solution:

  • Unfortunately, the only real solution right now is to wait for a software update. To check for an update, head to SettingsSystemSystem Update, and make sure you have the latest version of Android.

Issue: Phone is locked to Verizon

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are Verizon-exclusive phones, basically meaning that Verizon is the only carrier in the U.S. with the right to sell the phones. Some users, however, have reported that the Pixel 3 from Best Buy was also locked to the Verizon network, meaning users couldn’t buy the phone and activate it on another network. Once the phone was activated on Verizon, it was then unlocked — meaning you could only then use it on another network.

Thankfully, it seems as though Verizon has, at least temporarily, unlocked the Pixel 3 completely. The unlocking was sent to Pixel 3 phones through a software update — so you should be able to set up your phone without a SIM card, update it, then activate it on whatever network you choose.

Potential solution:

  • Set up your phone and then check for a software update. To check for an update, head to SettingsSystemSystem Update, and make sure you have the latest version of Android. You should then be able to activate it on the network of your choice. Keep in mind, this issue mostly affects Best Buy customers — if you purchased your phone from Verizon, expect it to be locked again to Verizon’s network.
  • If you haven’t yet bought the phone, buy it through the Google Store, which sells the phone completely unlocked.

We’ll update this article when we hear more about issues related to the Google Pixel 3 and how to fix them.




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October 22, 2018 at 06:51PM

Garmin Vivosmart 4 review

Garmin Vivosmart 4 review

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The Apple Watch 4 Series is our top pick for fitness tracking, earning our first-ever 5-out-of-5 stars rating, but not everyone wants the advanced metrics and apps of a smartwatch. The market for fitness-focused trackers is still alive and kicking thanks to companies like Garmin that are willing to try something new. A new style, novel metrics, and a new sensor help to set its Vivosmart 4 apart from the competition.

Stylish design

Gone are the days of clunky fitness bands that are black, boxy and look alien on your wrist. Fitbit paved the way with stylish bands, and now it is Garmin’s turn to follow. Garmin’s answer is the Vivosmart 4, one of the company’s most fashionable fitness trackers to date. The tracker unit is integrated into a slim one-piece silicone band that is slightly textured for a more pleasing look. It has a small, oblong OLED touch display that is rimmed by a thin aluminum bezel. The tracker is lightweight and extremely comfortable to wear.

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garmin vivosmart 4 sensor

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The tracker unit is not removable from the band, so you are limited in your color choices. You can choose between a gray band with a rose gold bezel, a berry band with a gold bezel, a light blue band with a silver bezel, or an all-black band and bezel combination. We tested the purple-and-gold model and thought the colors were subtle and not ostentatious. They blended in nicely with both casual and business attire.

Finicky touchscreen display

Garmin packs as much as it can into the Vivosmart’s small touchscreen display, but the interface can be challenging to use. All the widgets and menu items are arranged vertically, so you have to swipe up and down to move through the options on the tracker. The interface relies heavily on icons, and it takes some time to figure out what each symbol means.

At the bottom of the display is a touchscreen button that serves a dual purpose. When you are viewing the main watch face, this button takes you to a menu where you can start a workout, spot check your oxygen status, or access the settings. This button also serves as the back button. Just tap it to reverse through the menu until you are on the main screen.

The touchscreen is responsive, but its small size can make tapping difficult. The icons and the button on the bottom are so close together that there’s little room for error. We occasionally tapped the bottom button instead of the icon we wanted. Conversely, we had to touch the bottom button as close to the bottom of the display as possible or else it wouldn’t work. We also struggled with the double tap to start or stop an exercise. Sometimes we would double tap to begin an activity, and there was a slight lag before it would start. During this lag, we would often double tap again and accidentally pause our exercise.

Fitness and health tracking

The Vivosmart is one of Garmin’s most basic fitness trackers, but you wouldn’t know it from the spec sheet.  A pulse oximeter, a wrist-based heart rate monitor, smart notifications, VO2 max estimates, and more are packed into this device. It’s not perfect, though. Garmin failed to include GPS, a useful addition that is becoming a standard feature on fitness trackers, as well as smartwatches.

Not only is there is no GPS built into the tracker, but there is no connected GPS either.  You can’t use the tracker, nor the phone’s GPS to log your miles. The tracker instead uses a motion sensor to track the distance, but this estimation is hit or miss. Sometimes the measurements were close to the actual length, and other times they were wildly wrong. We used the stride-length tool to improve accuracy, and that seemed to help some of the time. If you are looking to track steps and not miles, then this omission won’t bother you. If you always want an accurate distance, then you may want to consider one of Garmin’s other trackers that include an onboard GPS.

garmin vivosmart 4
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The Vivosmart 4 may miss the mark on distance, but it excels in health tracking, with advanced metrics that are surprising given the entry-level status of the device. It includes a pulse oximeter for blood oxygen measurements and an exciting parameter known as body battery, both of which we discuss in detail below.

The tracker is focused on getting you active and keeping you active. It uses reminders to coax you to move when you have been sedentary and sends small encouragements when you have reached your fitness goals.  The heart rate sensor works 24/7 to calculate your resting heart rate and your daily stress level. When you are overly stressed, you can use a relaxation timer to perform a guided breathing exercise.

Pulse ox

The  Vivosmart 4 is the second Garmin fitness band to include a pulse oximeter, which measures the oxygen saturation (SpO2) of your blood. This sensor debuted in the Fenix 5X Plus GPS multisport watch as a feature for hikers acclimating to low oxygen levels at high elevation. On the Vivosmart 4, the pulse ox is used to monitor your blood oxygen levels on a daily basis and during sleep, when it could detect sleep apnea and other breathing disorders.

garmin vivosmart 4 review daily insights
garmin vivosmart 4 review body battery good
garmin vivosmart 4 review sleep movement
garmin vivosmart 4 review weekly metrics

With the Vivosmart 4, you can take a spot pulse ox reading at any time to check your oxygen level during exercise or times of stress. During the pulse ox measurement, you have to stay as still as possible while the tracker shines red light onto to your wrist and measures how much light your blood absorbs. The tracker uses this information to calculate the blood oxygen as a percentage. Just like the Fenix 5X Plus, the pulse ox measurement was challenging to take, and we found that we hardly used it for spot checks.

We did use the pulse ox sensor to track our oxygen saturation levels automatically during sleep.  On occasion, the tracker would fail to record our SpO2 readings, but for the most part we awoke each morning with a tidy graph of our oxygen saturation. We loved having this data but didn’t know what to do with it. So while this feature is cool, it’s not useful unless you have a medical professional to help you interpret what the data means.

Body battery

The Vivosmart 4 is the first Garmin device to include body battery, a unique metric that measures your energy levels throughout the day. It uses a combination of parameters including workouts, sleep, heart rate, and stress to calculate your energy reserves. The tracker monitors this metric so you are always in balance, which allows you to burn enough energy to stay fit without getting depleted. The Vivosmart offers advice to keep your “body battery charged by sleeping, taking a day off from exercise, or lowering your stress level. It’s a simplified version of the training mode found on the Fenix 5 Plus series and other hardcore fitness watches.

Body battery was by far our favorite feature on the device. We used it all the time. The battery gauge is included conveniently as a widget on the device, making it easy to check our level throughout the day. We found that it was helpful to have this independent metric to remind us to listen to our bodies. It’s easy to ignore fatigue and push through it, but the body battery really keeps you in check. When our battery body level was low, we took a break and came out of the rest period feeling better. We hope Garmin continues to include this feature on all future fitness trackers.

Smart notifications

Like most fitness trackers, the Vivosmart 4 connects to your smartphone and allows you to view incoming notifications. Notifications can be challenging to read on the small screen of the tracker. The text will scroll so you can see the first line of the notification, but you will have to pick up your phone for more details.  A feature we really like about Garmin devices is that you can reject incoming phone calls and delete alerts right from the tracker.

Battery life

Battery life is good considering how small the fitness tracker is. On average, we got four days off a single charge when we used it with the pulse ox sensor at night. Turning off the pulse ox sensor increased battery life to almost seven days.

Price, availability and warranty information

The $129 Vivosmart 4 is available now from Garmin’s website and both online and in-store retailers such as Target. Garmin fitness products are warranteed to be free from defects in materials or workmanship for one year from the original date of purchase.

Our Take

The Vivosmart 4 is Garmin’s most stylish fitness tracker, but it has more than just good looks.  The tracker is packed with advanced features you wouldn’t expect to see in an entry-level device. The pulse ox sensor is helpful for people who are struggling with breathing-related issues, while body battery, our favorite feature, is an excellent metric that helps you stay fit and rested.

The biggest detractor is the lack of GPS or even connected GPS, which forces the device to estimate distance based on step count. This estimate is accurate enough for most users, but those who want accurate mileage should consider another tracker.

Is there a better alternative?

Feature-wise, the Fitbit Charge 3 gives the Vivosmart 4 a solid run for its money. The Charge 3 may not have the styling of the Vivosmart 4, but it has the performance chops. The fitness tracker has a touchscreen display, a pulse ox sensor, and connected GPS.  It also is competitively priced at $149, $20 more than the Vivosmart 4.

How long will it last?

The Vivosmart 4 may be slim and lightweight, but don’t let its slim profile fool you The Vivosmart is solidly built. We used it while hiking and biking and throughout our everyday activities without any issues for over a month. The fitness band still looks like new.

Should you buy it?

The Garmin Vivosmart 4 is an excellent tracker if you don’t need distance measurements for your activities. It offers fantastic sleep tracking and unique fitness metrics that set it apart from the competition.

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October 22, 2018 at 06:51PM

Guillermo del Toro to pull the strings behind Netflix’s stop-motion ‘Pinocchio’

Guillermo del Toro to pull the strings behind Netflix’s stop-motion ‘Pinocchio’

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Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro has found a home for a passion project many may not know he had: The accomplished filmmaker has reached a deal with Netflix to develop a stop-motion musical version of iconic book-turned-Disney-film Pinocchio.

The film will be the first animated project ever directed by del Toro, who has experience producing animated features such as Puss in BootsBook of Life, and Megamind, among others.

“No art form has influenced my life and my work more than animation and no single character in history has had as deep of a personal connection to me as Pinocchio,” del Toro said in a statement. “In our story, Pinocchio is an innocent soul with an uncaring father who gets lost in a world he cannot comprehend. He embarks on an extraordinary journey that leaves him with a deep understanding of his father and the real world. I’ve wanted to make this movie for as long as I can remember.”

It may be his first time in the director’s chair without any humans (apart from voice actors) to direct, but we have a hard time imagining that del Toro will struggle. The acclaimed filmmaker has long been considered a visionary for his ability to create complex, other-worldly characters and bring them to life on screen. Films like Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, and The Shape of Water have all been hailed by critics for their astonishing ability to bring humanity to the inhuman, with the latter garnering del Toro the Oscar for Best Director.

The choice to sign with Netflix can’t have been too difficult for del Toro; the animated TV series he produces, called Trollhunters, is also released by the streaming giant, and he’s also working on a Netflix-exclusive series called Guillermo del Toro Presents 10 After Midnight.

“Throughout his distinguished career, Guillermo has exhibited mastery in inspiring people through his magical worlds filled with unforgettable and magnificent characters, from the monsters in Pan’s Labyrinth to the aquatic beast in The Shape of Water,” Melissa Cobb, Netflix’s head of kids and family content, said in a statement. “We are incredibly excited to expand our relationship with Guillermo and we know that his deeply touching vision for bringing Pinocchio to life on Netflix will be embraced by audiences the world over.”

Del Toro has surrounded himself with some heavy-hitters for this one. The film will be co-written by Patrick McHale, who has experience writing for Adventure Time, and co-directed by Mark Gustafson, who is well-known in the animation industry for his stop-motion work on projects like The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Production is set to begin this fall.




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October 22, 2018 at 06:51PM