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23 Mar 01:21

Halo 5: Guardians teaser turns out to be a fictional expose on Master Chief

by John Callaham

Microsoft has launched a new viral marketing campaign for the upcoming Xbox One first person shooter Halo 5: Guardians. The "HUNT the TRUTH" page on Tumblr that launched a few days ago has turned into a site that will serve as the basis for an expose on the central character in the Halo series, Master Chief.








22 Mar 23:36

Track your favorite TV shows with PushTV for Windows Phone

by Mark Guim

If you watch a lot of TV shows, it can be overwhelming to track which episodes you've seen and what days they air on TV. PushTV app on Windows Phone can help you with that. It tracks your favorite shows and notifies you when there are available episodes for you to watch. Check out our hands-on video to see it in action.








24 Mar 19:34

How to back up all of your Instagram photos automagically using IFTTT and OneDrive

by Daniel Rubino

The first video in a series of "60 Second Productivity Hacks, Tips and Insights on How to Get more Out of Our Everyday Technology Tools and Platforms" appeared today on the official Microsoft Lumia youtube channel.

The series of BrainCandy videos is being produced in partnership between Microsoft and CrowdCentric. Each week, BrainCandy will release a new Microsoft video featuring little-known tech tips, tricks and hacks to help digital professionals and consumers live better and work smarter.








24 Mar 18:16

Futurology 1.1: Smaller, higher-capacity batteries are closer than ever before

by Shen Ye

Recent advancements in Lithium Sulfur and Lithium metal anodes pave the way for smaller, safer batteries with higher capacities.

Back at the start of the year in our Smartphone Futurology series, we discussed the technology behind the battery in smartphones and what's to come in the future. This article is a quick update to that piece, looking at some of the recent developments in batteries based on Lithium chemistry — like the ones powering the vast majority of smartphones.

We'll take a closer look at what reduces your phone's battery life over time, and how high-capacity technologies like Lithium Sulfur batteries and Lithium metal anodes are closer than ever to becoming practical. Join us after the break.








23 Mar 22:49

Thousands gather along English Channel to witness 'tide of the century'

Thousands of people gathered on beaches in northern France and south west England on Saturday to watch what is being called “the high tide of the century”.

The exceptionally high spring tide, swollen by a “supermoon” effect linked to the solar eclipse on Friday, sent huge surge waves crashing onto beaches and along estuaries on both sides of the English Channel, to the delight of surfers and tourists.

The most dramatic effects of the day’s supertide were witnessed at the picturesque island of Mont Saint-Michel, off the coast of Normandy, where a wall of water as high as a four-storey building momentarily cut it off from the mainland.

For a few minutes, Mont Saint-Michel was completely encircled by the sea by a ‘supertide’ caused by the Moon’s extra-strong gravitational pull on the sea. The phenomenon is linked to the alignment of the Moon, Sun and Earth following Friday’s solar eclipse.

Spotlights illuminated the island’s medieval walled town and gothic abbey during the high tide, with visitors jostling to take photos of the phenomenon.

As the surge began to make its way along the coast and tidal estuaries, surfers took to the water in the north west town of Pontaubault and waves crashed onto seawalls along the coast, drenching onlookers.

Surfers ride the "mascaret" in Pontaubault, northwestern France (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP)

Police had difficulty holding back the 20,000-strong crowd eager to get pictures of the scene in the final minutes before the surge on Saturday morning. Similar numbers had gathered to watch the high tide on the previous day, with the tourist hotspot lit up with 60 spotlights for the occasion as night fell.

Among the crowds was France’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius.

Mont Saint-Michel, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979, is situated one kilometre off the coast of Normandy. The rocky outcrop is home to the famous Norman Benedictine Abbey of St-Michel.

Michael Dodds, the director of the regional tourism committee, said: "This natural phenomenon is an incredible opportunity for tourism in Brittany at this time of year."

People look on as the supertide hits Saint Malo ( REUTERS/Stephane Mahe)

The bay on the coast of Normandy has some of the strongest tides in the world.

Hotels were full along the coast and car and caravan parks were packed. Patrick Gaulois, the owner of several restaurants and hotels, said: “Everything was booked on Mont Saint-Michel as early as October.”

France is the world’s most visited country and Mont Saint-Michel attracts some three million tourists a year.

Eleven departements along the coast of northern France are on alert for fear of flooding and residents have been told to stay away from beaches and coastal areas.

Claude Renoult, mayor of Saint-Malo in Brittany, said: “Concrete blocks and sandbags are there to protect against waves and also to mark out safe areas where people can enjoy the spectacle without any danger of being swept away.”

Similar surges are predicted along the coast of Britain and the Netherlands over the weekend.

Surfers turned out to catch a rare high wave, or ‘bore’, on the River Severn yesterday caused by the tidal surge, while hundreds of others took to their boards off the coast of Devon.

Ben Howe, 31, a surfer at Croyde, said: “I have never seen the beach this packed down here this early in the season, the conditions are ideal. I think Thursday night’s supermoon may have affected tidal conditions too as the waves were absolutely mammoth on Friday.”

The last ‘tide of the century’ was on March 10, 1997 and the next will be on March 3, 2033, making the description something of a misnomer.

The predictions are based on the tide coefficients used by scientists to forecast wave size. With 120 being the highest, they project a 119 on Saturday. On February 21 it reached 117.

Until 1879 Mont Saint-Michel was cut off from the mainland during each high tide. That year a permanent causeway was built to prevent the tide from scouring the silt around the island.

The coastal flats were reclaimed for pastureland, reducing the distance between the shore and the island. The effect was to encourage the silting-up of the bay.

In 2009 work began on building a hydraulic dam using the waters of the river Couesnon and the tides to help remove the accumulated silt, and make Mont Saint-Michel an island again.

Last year a new 2,500ft bridge was opened to the public. The bridge allows the waters to flow freely below and around the island at high tide.

18 Mar 18:22

T-Mobile won't just pay your ETF — they'll pay off your phone as well

by John Callaham

T-Mobile's new Carrier Freedom program is designed to steal customers from Verizon and AT&T by offering to pay all of their outstanding phone payments and device leases.

T-Mobile announced this plan as part of their "Uncarrier 9.0" press event. It says that this new program is for phone or tablet customers who bought their devices on AT&T Next or Verizon Edge plans.








18 Mar 22:35

Microsoft patents hinge for dual-screen mobile phones, computers

by Jez Corden

Microsoft are one of the most prolific patent holders in the US. The Redmond firm are well and truly raking it in from licenses relating to the Android OS, and are not shy to slap a patent on just about anything, from augmented reality bananas to emotion sensing smart bras.

Many of these inventions may never see the light of day and are simply intended to fend off rivals, but these latest patents when combined with recent comments from Lumia marketing VP Tuula Rytilä create an intriguing possibility.








19 Mar 08:01

Microsoft announces the new 'super affordable' Lumia 430 for just $70 USD

by Daniel Rubino

Just how low can Microsoft's Lumia series of Windows Phone go? Evidently, very low as the company this morning is unveiling the 'super affordable' Microsoft Lumia 430 dual-SIM Windows Phone. The announcement was teased yesterday and now it has become a reality.

The ultra-budget dual SIM Lumia is destined for select emerging markets this April including India, the Middle East and Africa, Asia-Pacific, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus all for just $70 USD.

Although the specifications are on the low side, Microsoft did not cut back in the crucial areas that make smartphones important these days. Accordingly, the Lumia 430 has 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB internal storage (micro SD expansion) and both rear and front-facing cameras for video calls. Even better, the device is slated to get Windows 10 later this year when that OS is released.








17 Mar 14:06

Quick Tip Tuesday: Organized Travel

by Jennifer Jones
Jessica Kendrick

I like being organized but this is kinda OCD. I mean, bags inside of bags inside of bags? BECAUSE???

Hello pals!  I hope your week is off to a beautiful start!  I am currently in NYC for a really amazing brand collaboration, and have been enjoying my time in the city.  Always such a fun change from small town rural life.

I apologize that I will be MIA for much of the week while exciting things are happening behind the scenes.  I will definitely be checking in during spare seconds and still have a few posts lined up.  I was also hoping to share with you our hardware selection for our kitchen yesterday, however, the pieces I selected for the glass cabinets didn't work out during Saturday's installation day.  Fingers crossed the new pieces arrive and everything goes swimmingly when I get back home.

When I arrived at the hotel on Sunday, I realized I haven't yet shared a little gem of a packing tip.  I may be late to the game, but one little change really made a fabulous impact to my travel experience.


Three words: Mesh Garment Bags.  These things are amazing.  They come in a variety of sizes, and allow me to really maximize the space in my carry-on suitcase.

When I pack for a work trip, I never know what to expect in terms of clothing, weather and event experiences.  Things change at the drop of a dime, and I like to have back-up options in case I make a mess of myself or realize I completely mis-judged appropriate attire.


For this five day trip, I packed three pair of jeans (white, black and blue), two skirts and eight tops.  I also packed under garments, layering tanks, a blazer, two sets of pajamas and accessories (not shown above).

So why do I love those little mesh sacks?  So glad you asked:
  • They are less expensive than typical travel cubes.
  • I prefer to roll my clothing when I pack to save space, the mesh sack conforms to the shape of my clothing, yet keeps everything from unrolling.
  • They come in a variety of sizes to accommodate different clothing types.
  • They are small enough to bring a few extras to separate out dirty laundry.
  • They can be used to pack specific outfits for each day (include shoes, jewelry and clothing pieces into a separate sack for each day), or divide out clothing by function (sleepwear, pants/shirts, etc...).


All those pants, skirts and shirts, all nice and neat in a little laundry bags.  Good thing I played a lot of Nintendo Tetris as a kid.  I also used a delicate bra pouch for all of my undergarments and one for sleepwear/tanks.


And still plenty of space for the rest of my "necessities".


I shared my toiletry organization a few years ago and not much has changed since.  And if you were wondering if label tape holds up on the toiletry bottles even when wet day after day... it sure does!


I also love using a jewelry roll for all jewelry/accessories.

Another tip is to also collect shower caps every time you stay at a hotel.  They are great for wrapping your shoes in your suitcase so nothing gets dirty.


And since I am on a roll, and this is no longer one quick tip, I will just keep going.  Something I just started doing, is taking advantage of my Dropbox account synced with iPhone/iPad.


I scour my Pinterest boards and search for outfits that are current for my closet (for example, I will search for "white jeans" or "floral top") and then I save those images to a Travel -> Outfits folder on Dropbox.  I also create a folder for Travel Details/Docs, Photos and Receipts.  This way, I can access the outfit inspiration while dressing for an event, I can access any travel documentation, important contacts and itineraries if something becomes misplaced and I can take a photo of receipts with my phone and save them to review later, or turn in for reimbursement if applicable.  I also keep hard copies of my receipts in a small poly envelope that I tuck into my planner.  Lastly, as I am taking photos with my phone, I can update them to Dropbox and delete them from my phone to save on storage.

My last tip is to take everything out of your suitcase and hang it up instantly.  This is obvious, but it will prevent your luggage from looking like it was tossed by TSA security three times, lost, hit by a tornado and then ransacked by a dog who smells a treat at the very bottom.  Which is typically how mine looks within three minutes of arriving to the hotel.

And for fun, I thought I would round up some of my favorite travel products.  Enjoy!

suitcase

  1. Mesh laundry pouches - as outlined above, they are a great packing cube alternative.
  2. Jewelry rolls keep jewelry safe and prevent tangles.
  3. Travel sized lint rollers will ensure you are dust and lint free on meeting/event day.
  4. Mini cosmetic cases are wonderful for holding everything from daily vitamins to stud earrings.
  5. Tuck a few dryers sheets in your suitcase between clothing to keep everything smelling fresh.  They are also great for rubbing onto your blouses and skirts to prevent cling issues.
  6. Pre-pack a toiletry bag with your favorite products emptied into small, TSA friendly bottles.
  7. Select a cosmetic bag with multiple pouch options and one with handles that allow you to hang it on the back of the bathroom door or nearby hook.
  8. It is always important to add identification to your luggage.  Tech Tags that utilize cloud technology to help insure your items a safe recovery if lost. 


carry-on

  1. Headphones will keep you entertained during your flight.  Keep them tangle free with an ear-bud cord wrap.
  2. Ear-buds keep your ears happy with tunes, gum keeps your ears happy while changing altitudes.
  3. Corral all of your important travel documents and keep them right at hand with a handy travel wallet/organizer.
  4. I don't know about you, but I always feel a little rough after a flight, especially after sleeping in a crunched up ball.  I like to keep a travel size bottle of dry shampoo to give my hair a little refresh/bounce after landing.
  5. Same story for the face.  I don't pack the pressed powder in my toiletry bag; that goes right into my personal bag to rid my face of oil build-up during the flight.
  6. Mini hair brush for that mini bed plane head fixing.
  7. When I am traveling all day, I am sure to burn through my phone/tablet battery sooner than normal.  A pre-charged battery cell will get you a few extra charges throughout the day if needed.
  8. I pre-load my tablet with magazines and books prior to my flight.  This saves on bag space and shoulder pain, as I use to lug those items with me.  They are also handy to have for games, music, movies and even web browsing on Wi-Fi flights.  Lastly, load Dropbox on your tablet to keep all of your important digital files easily accessible at any time.
  9. Most often, I am meeting someone straight off of the airplane.  I like to give myself a little spritz of perfume during my quick freshen up process.  Most perfumes come in travel sized bottles, or you can purchase them and transfer your favorite scents at home.
  10. Flights always make me feel dried out; both my hands and lips.  For hands, I always keep a small tube of hand creme in my carry-on.
  11. And a little chapstick for my lips!
  12.  These folios are also great for travel docs, receipts, and any other files you may be transporting across the globe.
  13. It is probably no surprise I take my planner with me everywhere, so of course it makes the cut onto the plane.  In fact, I love to store all of the hard copies of any travel docs I have right inside the cover.

So now that I spilled my favorite travel/packing tips (which ended up being a few quick tips), what are yours?  What one item is a "must" when jet setting off for business or pleasure?


Looking for more quick tips?  Check out the entire series here!

16 Mar 15:02

Save up to 47% on SanDisk memory products at Amazon US

by Rich Edmonds

Storing media requires more than just internal memory, especially when SD slots are available on various products. Amazon US currently has a sale under way where you could save up to 47% on SanDisk memory products for today only.








16 Mar 13:26

Microsoft launches preview of Office 2016 for IT pros and developers

by John Callaham

Microsoft is now allowing IT professionals and developers to access a preview version of Office 2016, the next major version of its productivity software. The company announced the preview as part of its 2015 Convergence conference in Atlanta.








16 Mar 10:00

Facebook revamps community guidelines, shows what the social network will take down

by Rich Edmonds

Facebook has revamped the social network's community standards and guidelines to show what registered accounts can (and more importantly, cannot) share on the service.








15 Mar 15:23

Yes, Battlefield Hardline has a drivable couch called 'The American Dream'

by John Callaham

People who have been trying out the Battlefield Hardline trial on EA Access on their Xbox One console have found that the first person shooter has a drivable couch called The American Dream on one of its multiplayer maps. No, we are not kidding.








13 Mar 23:58

Get the Windows Central Ninja Cat t-shirt while it's hot!

by Richard Devine

The Microsoft Ninja Cat is all the rage with the kids right now but we've got something even better than a sticker for your laptop. Presenting the Windows Central special edition Ninja Cat t-shirt! This is the ultimate version of the Ninja Cat with about as much Microsoft on it as you could imagine. Microsoft Band, HoloLens, Windows Phone, it's all there, as is some pretty hot Windows Central fire!

Oh, and this shirt definitely "seems faster." If you want one, grab it while it's hot!








15 Mar 01:50

An 11-Year-Old Boy’s Open Letter to Sports Illustrated

Jessica Kendrick

This doesn't sound like an 11 year old at all, but I'm proud of the message?

An 11-year-old boy's letter to sports illustratedDear Sports Illustrated Magazine,

I am writing this letter because I am confused. Yesterday, I was at the mall with my dad because he needed to run some errands. We were having a fun time together. We bought some donuts and hot cocoa and were really enjoying our day. As we walked past a magazine stand, I saw your swimsuit issue. It took up more than one slot, and was right in middle of the other magazines.

I was shocked. I didn’t want to even see it, but it was right in front of me. There on the cover, was a lady in a two piece swimsuit. She was pulling down the bottom of her swimsuit and was almost showing her private parts. (And I do believe they should be private parts.)

I think this is harmful for children to see. My parents are careful about these types of things at home because they want to protect us.  I wasn’t prepared to see this and felt like it was forced in my face. I know America stands for freedom and this is why you were allowed to put that lady on your cover, but why are you allowed to take away my freedom by forcing me to look at it?

I have been taught to respect women. I even wrote a speech for school that encourages boys of my generation to be gentlemen. How are we supposed to treat women with respect when we grow up seeing them  degraded? When boys see women acting this way on TV, magazines, and movies, it makes us think it is normal to view them as just images. I hope there are other people who will also tell you that women are not just entertainment or a way to make you a lot of money. At least they shouldn’t be.

I am mad but I am also confused. Isn’t your magazine about sports? It seems to me you are just seeing how much you can get away with, like a rebellious teenage kid. I play soccer and love sports. How is being half naked a sport? My dad once called you because he wanted to order your magazine but didn’t want the swimsuit issue. He didn’t want us kids having to see it if we checked the mail. You told him that just wasn’t allowed, so he didn’t order it at all. I’m glad my dad stood up to you. Maybe other Dads don’t want this in their home either.

Kids shouldn’t have to ask adults to protect them. Adults should already know how to do this. You either don’t know this, or you don’t care. I may just be a kid, but I know I speak for many voices. I would like an apology from you. If you can’t do that, could you at least think of children in the future, before you print your magazine covers? We are more important than making money.

I went to the mall that day hoping to have a fun time with my Dad. I didn’t expect to have to deal with that. I bet other people feel the same way as I do. Maybe they just don’t think they can do anything about it. Or maybe they are just getting used to it. But I don’t think kids are used to this. They just want to be kids.

Maybe you are trying to keep up with our culture, and so you feel you have to create these images. But it’s an important life lesson to learn to stand up for what is right, even when nobody else does. Just because America wants these kinds of pictures, doesn’t mean you have to deliver them. You can respect women and sell magazines at the same time. And I would gladly grow up and buy Sports Illustrated, if it was really about sports.

Thank you for reading my letter,

An Eleven-Year-Old Boy

(This letter was drafted by my son. He kept expressing to me how mad he was about the cover of Sports Illustrated. I told him that writing is a good way to have a voice so I suggested he sit down and record his thoughts. We talked about how he felt. I edited some sentences for the sake of structure, and I corrected grammar, but these words are his original ideas.) 

15 Mar 01:54

A Teachable Moment: How OU failed Transformation 101

Jessica Kendrick

I thought this woman's perspective was very interesting and different.

I am a college professor. It is an essential part of my identity. Yes, I research, publish (not as much as I should), and consult but nothing gives me greater joy than my interactions with my students. Teaching, particularly the motley crew of pre-adults known as the 18-21-year-old demographic, is the means of grace by which I offer myself to God and the world.

Pre-adults. That’s who and what they are. When they enter our classrooms, many of them have never formed an independent thought of their own. The tapes that play in their heads that inevitably shape their interactions are created by parents, teacher, churches, and yes, our culture. Their lives are a culmination of enrichment courses, parental demands and angst, and standardized tests designed to get them into the college. They are so programmed when they hit our doors that it takes almost 4 years for them to really start figuring out what kind of ice cream they really like.

Our students sit in a middling place that is as promising as it is dangerous. They are old enough to drive cars; travel abroad; and use a credit card but they are not mature enough to always understand the consequences of driving too fast; failing to heed warnings of staying with the group; or predatory interest rates. They are high school students whose acne is just clearing up; who can buy birth control on their own, and sleep in on Sundays instead of being bothered with church. They miss more deadlines than they make; They still cry when they are hurt; and just like any 5-year-old they just want someone to hold their hand and be their friend.Sadly and often tragically, unlike high school, they find out that one bad night; one stupid decision; one wrong turn can lead to life changing consequences. However, when done right and when at all possible (barring criminal behavior) the University and its professors can shine a hopeful light and offer an opportunity to begin again anew.

Perhaps this is why the situation at OU saddens me so deeply. Because rather than confronting, challenging, AND teaching; a college community merely washed their hands and decided that their students were beyond redemption. While Bob Stoops and President Boren were making the heroic rounds as defenders of civility, in my humble opinion, they missed a wonderful opportunity to teach their students how to live, disagree, and unite as a civil community. They perpetuated our society’s Hunger Games philosophy of total annihilation- blame them, shame them and erase them.

Here are four key teachable moments from the classroom of OU/SAE that I believe were missed:

Moment 1: Outrage=Hypocrisy. No one enjoys being called a nigger, especially me. But after living 49 years on this planet in black skin in America, I am not shocked nor horrified when I hear it whether it is directed at me or not. What bothers me most when situations like this happen is all the self-righteous hand wringing and moral indignation of many late in life progressives. It is always interesting to me that when it comes to racial justice, every progressive loves to tell black folks how their families always fought against segregation; how they have always had black friends; and how they are outraged by racism. If you listen to them, they have NEVER let a racial slur slip nor laughed at an off-color joke; nor heaven forbid ever thought a negative thought about a black person, even as they locked their doors when approaching ‘that side of town.’ Since we all know that we all have said things behind closed doors that would have us vilified if they ever saw the light of day, how about we cut these boys a little slack?

Moment 2 Racism is a congenital heart condition: A child doesn’t have to have a parent that shouts racial slurs from the top of their lungs daily to learn to hate. No, rather than the explicit messages of racism like ‘coon’ ‘boy’ or ‘monkey’— children learn from what their parents don’t say. White children learn the lessons of bigotry when their parents isolate them from “those people” by sending them to private schools instead of the public schools in their neighborhoods. Their arteries become clogged with prejudice when the only people of color they encounter are those who serve their meals, clean their rooms, or carry their bags. Clots of intolerance form when they are sheltered behind exclusive enclaves that protect a lily-white existence—never allowing them to experience the diversity of humanity. Young white adults suffer myocardial infarctions of bigotry when their churches either ignore race by erasing it or frame people of color as ‘objects of mission’ rather than collaborators in the Great Commission. So after 12 years of a steady diet of erasure, dismissal, and hypocrisy when these boys have a full blown cardiac arrest of racism, rather than giving them a defibrillator of God’s grace and challenging them to see the sacred worth of all—we pull the plug and do a dance on their graves.

Moment 3: The best way to deal with a racist is to show them the dissonance in their lives. Rather than marching and shouting, what if President Boren invited the young men on that bus who sang their hateful song to sit and watch the video with the black staff members of the SAE house who fixed their meals and cleaned their rooms? Just played it over and again or even ask them to sing the song live. What if after their live performance President Boren finally allowed Walter, the man who cooked their meals for the last 15 years to ask the young men one simple question: “is this what you really think of me?” See most racists, like homophobes hold to their views in isolation. I believe when those young men came face to face with the people who cared for them and loved them, the full impact of their behavior would then be clear—“How can you profess love for a God you have not seen while hating (hurting) your brother that you see every day?” As the boys and girls who withstood Bull Conner’s hoses will tell you— the human conscious is a most power ally in the battle for social justice.

Moment 4: It is all about outcomes. Every teacher worth their salt knows that every lesson has an outcome whether intentional or not. So the question exists—what do we want these young men to learn? If we wanted them to learn that racism is bad, well we missed it. Instead, they have learned the opposite. They have learned that racism must never be articulated; it must be hidden; it must enacted but never espoused. These boys got in trouble for what they SAID not what they DID. Removing them from campus, away from the fragile constitution of Sooner nation, teaches them nothing except to make sure they aren’t being recorded when they rant and chant. Was it great PR for the University of Oklahoma? Heck yes. They look decisive and like  a bastion of civil rights. But have they really protected their students? Have they fulfilled their mission? no.

Dr. King’s most enduring premise was that while laws could give us the right to go to school and eat at the lunch counter together, only the Gospel of Jesus Christ could heal the heart condition known as racism. Dr. King’s work was grounded in the crazy idea that without the transformative power of the Holy Spirit meeting us in the convicting rooms of our own consciousness, our efforts to live in true fellowship would be hollow and half-hearted. Such conversions happen in conversations–not yelling, not screaming, but in a sincere desire to listen and be heard. Our knee-jerk reactions to the subject of  race reveal our great discomfort with real conversation regarding how this sad legacy continues to affect us all. There is a time for marching and there is a time for conversation. This was a time for conversation and intervention. By expelling these students, OU made it easier for them to hide and to avoid the real mid-term exam of their lives.

Look, I know it is easier just to be done with these students. Bashing them is incredibly popular and dismissing them from the island of humanity appears to be all the rage. Unfortunately, I am called to the two most idealistic professions—teaching and preaching and I believe in the power of conversion. I believe in the power of Grace. I believe in a God of Second Chances. I believe in a God who is a master teacher.

I know. How silly of me.

15 Mar 01:52

Ring brings ancient Viking, Islamic civilizations closer together

More than a century after its discovery in a ninth century woman’s grave, an engraved ring has revealed evidence of close contacts between Viking Age Scandinavians and the Islamic world.

Excavators of a Viking trading center in Sweden called Birka recovered the silver ring in the late 1800s. Until now, it was thought that it featured a violet amethyst engraved with Arabic-looking characters. But closer inspection with a scanning electron microscope revealed that the presumed amethyst is colored glass (an exotic material at the time), say biophysicist Sebastian Wärmländer of Stockholm University and his colleagues.

An inscription on the glass inset reads either “for Allah” or “to Allah” in an ancient Arabic script, the researchers report February 23 in Scanning.

Scandinavians traded for fancy glass objects from Egypt and Mesopotamia as early as 3,400 years ago (SN: 1/24/15, p. 8). Thus, seagoing Scandinavians could have acquired glass items from Islamic traders in the same part of the world more than 2,000 years later rather than waiting for such desirable pieces to move north through trade networks.

Ancient texts mention encounters around 1,000 years ago between Scandinavians and members of the Islamic civilization, which stretched from West Asia to Mediterranean lands. Archaeological evidence supporting those accounts, though, is rare.

The inner surface of the Birka ring’s silver body shows virtually no signs of wear. Filing marks made in the final stage of its production are still visible. That suggests that the ring made by an Arabic silversmith had few or no owners before it reached the Viking woman, the researchers say.

15 Mar 01:51

Girls Who Steal

Jessica Kendrick

This X a million.

Girls Who Steal

Girls stole from me.

It started my first year of high school. They didn't mean any harm by it. It was always little things they stole, the kind of thing that could be taken easily from a careless person. I was a careless person. They were magpies: attracted to the small shiny accessories that other girls had lying around their bedrooms. Lipsticks, a Sweet Valley High book, a half-empty bottle of perfume, a charred-looking shade of nail-polish called MINX: they were all girly items. It took me weeks to realize what was missing - sometimes, I never did. Sometimes I only realized that Marybeth had swiped my keychain when I saw it jingling brightly at the bottom of her trendy neon backpack. Sometimes I'd see my T-shirt in Grace's closet and think Oh, that's where that went.

On those occasions, I never said anything to Marybeth or Grace. Instead of confrontation, I chose the tactful solution: I locked up my possessions whenever they came over. "Marybeth, Grace" I said breezily, "let's not hang out in my room" (pushing my new pink iPod further out of view) "let's go to the mall" (sweeping the last pot of my glitter eyeshadow into a drawer) "and get milkshakes instead!"

They were easy to distract, because their thieving was petty: it was born of instinct rather than any real desire for my possessions. They were light-fingered girls, the kind who snuck into movie theatres without paying and dropped Claire's rhinestone clips into their handbags on the sly. I figured it was fine, because Claire's rhinestone clips were so ugly anyway. Even when they stole from me, I thought nothing of it. I assumed this was natural girl behavior. It was kleptomania, but in its most adorable bubble-gum form. I thought the damage was minimal.

Ten years later, I was at a bar in downtown Boston with some friends. We were halfway through our second year of law school, and employers were conducting on-campus interviews to determine where we'd be that summer and possibly the rest of our lives. Naturally, we could talk of nothing besides who got hired early and who bombed all their interviews. I was in the middle of figuring out whether Brian really had been drinking before his interview with Proskauer when someone with a smooth cold voice cut in.

"You know Weil hired Lauren? She just got her letter yesterday."

It was Emma, smiling at me as though there was no one else she'd rather see.

"I guess they're less fixated on first-year grades than they pretend," she said, "because Lauren's first year grades were"–here she made a soft clicking noise that made me want to strangle her.

"Incoming," hissed Emma's best friend, another girl who was notable mostly because her parents owned one of New York's most expensive restaurants. And sure enough, there was Lauren coming across the room, in a tiny black dress, fairly glowing with happiness.

"Wow," Restaurant Heiress said when she got to us. "That dress is so short. You never feel cold! I'm so envious!"

Lauren looked slightly confused, but nodded and smiled as though it were a real compliment.

"I heard about Weil," I said. "That's fantastic. Have you celebrated yet?"

"Thanks!" said Lauren. "I can barely believe it, to be honest."

"Me neither. However did you manage it?" Emma said, cocking her head to one side like a bright, vicious bird. And this time there was no mistaking the look on Lauren's face. Her expression crumpled in on itself like paper, softening and blurring till I could barely keep my own eyes from the wetness.

The first time I encountered the term kleptomania was in 2002, when Winona Ryder was arrested for shoplifting from Saks. The newspapers went into a frenzy. What struck me upon reading the case was the detail that Ryder cut holes in the stolen clothes in order to get the tags off. That could only mean these clothes were never intended for her personal use. If she needed a new wardrobe, she could have easily paid for it, anyway. If she stole, it was because she wanted to steal.

Emma wanted to steal. Many of us do. We wander through the supermarket aisles of somebody else's self-esteem, helping ourselves to whatever we find along the way. We don't want what we take; we take it because we want to take. The value lies in the act.

The act of stealing between women can be physical or it can be emotional. What is physical is easily replaced. A barrette goes missing, and you buy another one. As we age, we graduate to emotional stealing. But what do we do when we're robbed of our self-esteem?

I saw a girl crying in a bathroom once with her arms around her knees, indifferent to the fact that the door of her stall was open. I hesitated before asking if she was okay. She took one scrunched-up fist out of her eye, looked at me and said with drunken candor: "My friend told me my boyfriend was out of my league. She's always making me feel bad."

It was this pattern of behaviour I found fascinating: the "always making me feel bad." What the sad girl was describing was consistent, low-scale, looting of happiness. Contrary to what Eleanor Roosevelt said, it's very, very easy to make somebody feel inferior without their consent. It's easy, and it's addictive. It's so bold of you to wear that! It's great that you're not worried about your grades! Where do you get your confidence? None of these comments seem devastating on paper, but in person they're a one-two punch to your heart. They make you worry that you don't look as good as you thought you did, that you're not as intelligent as you thought. You go over subtext more than you did for any college English class. You lie awake at night wondering What did she mean? Did she mean that? Am I crazy for thinking that she meant that?

Helen Fielding, creator of beloved single-girl Bridget Jones, introduced a similar concept known as "jellyfishing" in 2001:

"The thing about Rebecca is, she's a jellyfisher. You have a conversation with her that seems all nice and friendly, then you suddenly feel like you've been stung and you don't know where it came from. You'll be talking about jeans and she'll say "Yes, well, if you've got cellulite jodhpurs, you're best in something really well-cut like Dolce and Gabbana"- she herself having thighs like a baby giraffe—then smoothly move on to DKNY chinos as if nothing had happened."

Underneath the light hilarity of this idea–(is there a more delightful metaphor than jellyfish?)—is real pain, Bridget Jones' real pain. The subtext of pain that is swept under the rug (of course, Bridget never says anything to Rebecca to indicate her hurt) as a matter of course.

Most frequently, we categorize this behavior as general cattiness. I asked my friends: "Do you have any men friends who make catty comments that fall just this side of mean, just enough so that you can't call them on it without seeming paranoid?" Many of the women said yes. The men didn't understand what I meant right away, so I tried again, saying "Sometimes it masquerades as a compliment, but it's definitely not a compliment." When the men finally understood what I was driving at, they said No, of course they didn't have friends who made them feel small. They said it with confidence, with incredulity at the idea that anybody would have that kind of friend. What kind of friends would they be?

It's tempting to think that men are better than women: nobler, kinder. I want you to understand that's not what I'm saying. Women are raised to be careful of other women, because women are catty, jealous creatures, always stealing things from each other: jobs, men, beauty, self-esteem. As girls, we grow up learning not to trust other women, because we're told there are only so many opportunities to go around, only so many good men to be had, only so much beauty to be shared. We are lied to.

I know women who say of Hollywood actresses, "Well, she's pretty, but she's not that pretty," in a tone that is, more than anything else, defensive. If you praise one woman's beauty, it is perceived as an attack on the beauty of another. So they concede prettiness, because they don't want to seem ungenerous. Then they revoke. One step forward, two back. They parse for flaws so intensely, these women. Rihanna is pretty, but. Rihanna has a big forehead. Blake Lively is pretty, but. Blake Lively is all body. It's as though they were thrown into an arena and told to fight for the prize: a single, golden apple of beauty. No sharing allowed.

This is part of the damnation of being a woman: We're forced into a false competition for everything: men, beauty, jobs. While men compete directly, we're socialized to compete indirectly. Men fight each other in the streets; they come for each other's throat in public because nobody expects them to stay polite. They say: "We're not friends. I don't like that guy." Meanwhile, women have frenemies, because god forbid we have straight-up enemies. Women are supposed to be nice to each other all the time because what are women, if not nice?

I told my boyfriend about the Emmas in my life and their stings, how the small aches and pains they inflicted added up to a large theft of my happiness. My boyfriend listened to me carefully and said: "Why don't you stop being friends with her?"

"I'm not her friend," I said in a kneejerk reaction. "I just hang out with her."

"That's what I mean," he said gently. "Don't hang out with her. Cut her off."

The idea of it shocked me. Cutting somebody off, as an adult woman, is not nice. More importantly, it's difficult. It's easy to let friendships die slowly and gently under a mass of unreturned texts and cancelled plans. Even when you're not friends with somebody–in the same weird way that I wasn't friends with Emma—cutting somebody off is difficult. Making excuses for them is easy–after all, they haven't committed grand larceny. Grand larceny runs along the lines of she stole my boyfriend. She stole my car.

We don't have meaningful shorthand for petit larceny. It's not legitimized in our vocabulary, and in our culture nothing is legitimate until it has a name. Women say nothing because we are afraid to put a name to the leakages that occur in us. We allow someone to hurt us—not with knives, with needles that siphon off just a droplet of blood. We pass these off as minor pains. Petty thefts.

Worst of all, we learn to needle each other. We learn to steal from each other until none of us has anything left.

In my last year of law school, I was trapped in the foyer of the building while a storm raged outside. I remember I was debating making a run for it when Emma approached me. I noted with envy that she held a black umbrella.

"No umbrella?" she said, looking me straight in the eye for once.

I shrugged.

"Come on."

We stepped into the rain under her small umbrella, sure we'd both get drenched instantly. But we both stayed dry. Her steps were perfectly matched with mine so we were in sync, neither of us taking more than our share. We walked home in that gale and darkness, neither of us speaking, both of us untouched.

Priya-Alika Elias is a lawyer and writer. She tweets about pop culture @priya_ebooks.

[Image by Tara Jacoby]

12 Mar 23:30

Here is the Microsoft 'Ninja Cat on a Unicorn' for your Microsoft Band, Windows Phone lockscreen and more

by Daniel Rubino

Last night, I posted on how to get a copy of the Microsoft 'Ninja cat riding a flame-breathing unicorn' sticker. Yes, you read that correctly. Just go with it.

Today, with my sober eyes a little bit more of the story is coming into focus, including some fan-created wallpapers, which I will give you the link to download directly.

However, first, some back story.








12 Mar 02:40

Here is how to order the coveted Microsoft 'Ninja Cat Unicorn' sticker

by Daniel Rubino

Around the Microsoft campus, there is a growing cadre of people sporting a hilariously awesome sticker emblazoned on laptops. The stickers appear randomly in the cafeteria and often disappear just as quickly. What's on the sticker?

Just a ninja cat with a Microsoft flag riding a fire-breathing unicorn.

The hilarity comes from the absurdity, but it also aptly represents the new Microsoft spirit. Plus, it is just fun.








13 Mar 01:49

Upcoming Amazon lightning deal cuts Lumia 635 price to $29.99

by Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Amazon has an upcoming lightning deal that will see the price of the Lumia 635 cut to just $29.99, which represents a pretty healthy drop from its normal $48.99 price tag.








13 Mar 13:09

Top Windows Phone apps for keeping track with Formula One Racing

by George Ponder
Jessica Kendrick

my two obscure interests! Windows phones and Formula 1!

The 2015 Formula One racing season kicks off today in Australia with practice rounds for the Australian Grand Prix. While NASCAR is king in my neck of the woods, the open wheel racers have just as strong of a following globally.

In recognition of the start of the 2015 Formula One season, it was suggested by one our readers (thanks Harry) that we put together a roundup of the Windows Phone apps that will help you keep track of all the Formula One races. All of the apps listed will deliver news, standings, stats and racing schedules to your Windows Phone. The collection has a nice range of designs and some are also available for Windows 8 devices.








04 Mar 05:00

IHeart: Artfully "Special" Walls & a GIVEAWAY!

by Jennifer Jones
Jessica Kendrick

You can never have enough art!

I love blogging for endless reasons, but one thing that tops the list is having the ability to pass on things that I personally heart, to YOU!  This week's giveaway is another one that is near and dear to me.  Since the day we built our home almost 14 years ago, I have been covering the walls with my own family photography.  However, over the last year, I have been trying to mix in some meaningful and beautiful art that reflects our family dynamic, personality and style.  This week, special thanks to Artfully Walls, you will have the opportunity to add something quite special to your walls as well.


Artfully Walls prides themselves on having a highly curated portfolio of artwork and quality prints.  Yet they maintain reasonable prices to help get a gorgeous selection of art onto the walls of your home.


My biggest struggle tends to be mixing and matching pieces to create a cohesive, yet eclectic feeling.  Artfully Walls knows that I am not alone, so they offer an endless variety of galleries handpicked by professional curators, as well as tips for hanging your art once you have a few of your favorites selected.


And if you are like my husband, who is extremely visual before buying into any idea, they also have an online Wall Designer so you can see what your art will look like on your walls!  Oh!  And they have an app for that too!


I know they already sounds amazing, but it gets even better.  Today, the generous folks at Artfully Walls are offering one lucky iHeart Organizing reader $400 worth of art from their website!  Now that is special!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

But wait!  There is more!  Throughout the duration of the giveaway, IHeart Readers can receive 15% off any order with code HEART at checkout!

Another week, another great giveaway!  Good luck fabulous friends!

Must be 18 years old or older. Open to US and Canada residents only.  No purchase necessary to win. All rules and entries must be followed to be eligible to win. Winner will be selected at random using rafflecopter.com and will be announced on original blog post upon drawing. IHeart Organizing official giveaway entry rules can always be found here.

02 Mar 19:57

Do You Find It Hard To Imagine That an Important Place Continues, After You Leave?

by gretchen@gretchenrubin.com (Gretchen Rubin)
Jessica Kendrick

This is very true. When my parent's house was sold and they moved out, I don't miss it per se, unless I do a drive by. Then it physically hurts-- I have the hardest time imagining other people in that house, it decorated differently, than us, particularly because my parents built it. I like to rather imagine that the house doesn't exist at all.

johnknowles

“I didn’t entirely like this glossy new surface, because it made the school look like a museum, and that’s exactly what it was to me, and what I did not want it to be. In the deep, tacit way in which feeling becomes stronger than thought, I had always felt that the Devon School came into existence the day I entered it, was vibrantly real while I was a student there, and then blinked out like a candle the day I left.”

— John Knowles, A Separate Peace

One of my children’s literature reading groups is reading A Separate Peace, and I certainly know the feeling described here — that it’s hard to imagine these institutions, that we experience so intensely, continuing on their way once we’re gone.

I get this feeling a lot when I go back to Yale Law School. Many things are the same, many things are different…and it’s hard to imagine that it’s all happening, while I’m far away.

01 Mar 17:54

The Samsung Galaxy S6, complete with 115GB of OneDrive, OneNote and Skype

by Richard Devine

Remember those recent rumors about Microsoft services coming pre-loaded on the Samsung Galaxy S6? Turns out they were true. Now the phone (and its sibling, the Galaxy S6 edge) is officially official we know that it's a thing, but a pretty limited thing. OneDrive and OneNote are preloaded, with 115GB (odd number, sure) of free storage for two years, and the hands-on our buddies at Android Central had showed Skype was also pre-loaded on the demo units.








01 Mar 08:56

IKEA to integrate Qi charging in some furniture starting in April 2015

by Andrew Martonik
Jessica Kendrick

It'll just come in a separate box with an allen wrench that you'll have to install yourself.

Everyone's favorite build-your-own furniture store IKEA has just announced a partnership to start integrating Qi charging for devices into some of its furniture. Starting in April 2015, IKEA will offer bedside tables, lamps and desks with Qi charging built in, meaning you won't need to drop any extra cables or charging bases to keep your phones topped up.








27 Feb 22:59

To Be Creative, What Are the Best Habits To Follow?

by gretchen@gretchenrubin.com (Gretchen Rubin)
paintbrushwithcolors

Assay: This post is back by popular demand, because when I tell people that I’ve been working on Better Than Before, my book about habit change, one of the questions that people most often ask me is: “What habits are best for creativity?” They want to know what habits help people think creatively — and also, actually produce.

Often, people make the case for adopting a particular habit by pointing to a renowned figure who practiced that habit, with great success. For instance…

Maybe we should live a life of quiet predictability, like Charles Darwin.

Or maybe we should indulge in boozy revelry, like Toulouse-Lautrec.

Maybe we should wake up early, like Haruki Murakami.

Or maybe we should work late into the night, like Tom Stoppard.

Maybe it’s okay to procrastinate endlessly, like William James.

Or maybe it’s better to work regular hours, like Anthony Trollope.

Should we work in silence, like Gustav Mahler?

Or amidst a bustle of activity, like Jane Austen?

Maybe it’s helpful to drink a lot of alcohol, like Fried­rich Schiller.

Or a lot of coffee, like Kierkegaard.

Are we better off produc­ing work for many hours a day, like H. L. Mencken?

Or maybe for just thirty minutes a day, like Gertrude Stein.

The sad fact is, there’s no magic formula, no one-size-fits-all solution—not for ourselves, and not for the peo­ple around us.

We won’t make ourselves more creative and productive by copying other people’s habits, even the habits of geniuses; we must know our own nature, and what habits serve us best.

In his fascinating book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, from which these examples are drawn, Mason Currey exhaustively examines the work habits of 161 writers, composers, artists, scientists, and philos­ophers.

These examples make one thing perfectly clear about creative habits: while brilliant people vary tre­mendously in the specific habits they follow, they all know very well what habits work for them, and they go to enormous lengths to maintain those habits.

I used to tell everyone that working slowly and steadily was the best way to produce creative work. Because that’s what works for me.

And I used to encourage everyone to get up early, to work in the morning. Because that’s what works for me.

And I used to say that it was better to work in a reasonably quiet, calm, orderly environment. Because that’s what works for me.

But as I worked on Better Than Before, it became increasingly clear to me that the opposite habits work better for some people.

I’m a Marathoner, but some people are Sprinters.

I’m a Lark, but some people are Owls.

I’m a Simplicity-Lover, but other people are Abundance-Lovers.

We have to think about ourselves. It’s helpful to ask, “When have I worked well in the past? What did my habits look like then – and how can I replicate them?” Maybe you work more creatively with a team – or by yourself. Maybe you need deadlines – or maybe you feel strangled by deadlines. Maybe you like working on several projects at once — or you prefer to focus on one project at a time.

With habits, as with happiness, the secret is to figure out ourselves. When we shape our habits to suit our own nature, our own interests, and our own values, we set ourselves up for success.

How about you? What habits contribute or detract from your creativity?

27 Feb 14:28

Microsoft confirms Windows 10 will support USB 3.1 Type-C and Dual Role

by John Callaham

Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 10 will support both the upcoming USB 3.1 Type-C and USB Dual Role standards for data ports. The reveal was made via a panel description for the upcoming WinHec hardware development conference, which will be held in mid-March in China.








27 Feb 15:34

Microsoft to launch official Xbox One support via Reddit on March 2

by John Callaham

Microsoft will launch official support for the Xbox One console on Reddit beginning on Monday, March 2. Microsoft employees will answer support questions in a manner similar to how they respond on their Xbox Support Twitter account.








26 Feb 20:41

This is what is new in the Lumia Denim update for the AT&T Lumia 1520

by Daniel Rubino
Jessica Kendrick

ON THE DAY I SHATTER MY 1520, at&t goes and releases the software update. ~rivers of tears~

Although app and OS updates are great, what is even better is when companies post the entire changelog of what exactly is new. Luckily for us, AT&T agrees with this idea.

Earlier today, AT&T released the Lumia Denim software update for their Lumia 1520 and now the company has posted a very detailed listing of what has changed.

Most of the features in the update are already known, but things like the 578MB file size or Femtocell closed subscriber group (CSG) access being enabled are certainly unique.