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16 Oct 17:38

The Amazon Index: 21 Amazon Features and Services Explained

by Dan Price

You thought Amazon was all about retail shopping, right? Ok, you might have also heard of Amazon Prime Video and Prime Music. You might even know about Amazon Web Services.

But what about everything else? There’s a lot more to Amazon than you probably realize. Here is every Amazon service, explained. We start with two of the obvious ones.

1. needs no introduction. It’s the primary site of the company. Today, it sells hundreds of products every second across every retail category imaginable.

2. Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime launched way back in 2005 as an expedited two-day shipping service in the United States.

Today, the service has more than 100 million subscribers across more than 200 countries. The shipping benefits remain, but Amazon has since tagged on lots of additional services.

3. Prime Photos

If you live in the US, Canada, UK, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, India, or Japan, and you have an Amazon Drive account, you’ll also get access to Prime Photos. It’s a competitor to Google Photos.

Residents of the United States and Canada can even order prints of their images using the Amazon Prints service.

4. Prime Music

If you live in the United States, Canada, the UK, Germany, Austria, India, or Japan, you’ll receive access to Prime Music as part of your subscription. It provides free access to two million songs.

Note: Amazon Prime Music is different than Amazon Music Unlimited.

5. Prime Video

prime video home screen

All Amazon Prime subscribers receive access to Prime Video. It’s similar to Netflix; you will find a mix of Amazon Originals, TV shows, and movies.

6. Prime Reading

Prime Reading is a digital library service. It lets you borrow and return books, magazines, and comics from Amazon’s collection. It is supported on any device which has an official Kindle app.

The service is available in the US, UK, France, Spain, Italy, and India.

7. Prime Pantry

Prime Pantry is a shopping service for Prime subscribers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, India, Japan, Italy, Spain, and France.

It ships non-perishable food and household products in a single box for a flat fee. You can load up the box with your own selections, using the on-screen graphic to determine how much more space remains.

8. Prime Now

Prime Now is an instant delivery service for the Amazon Essentials range. You can receive products within one hour for a fee, or within two hours for free. It is only available in selected major cities.

Prime Now is further subdivided into Amazon Restaurants (a food ordering service in the US and UK), Amazon Fresh (fresh grocery delivery in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan), and Amazon Flex (a platform for independent delivery services).

9. Amazon Key

Amazon Key lets the company’s delivery workers enter your home or car and leave a package for you.

10. Amazon Music Unlimited

Amazon Music Unlimited is Amazon’s answer to Spotify. Residents of more than 40 countries—including most of North America, South America, and Europe, can subscribe for a monthly fee. The service has more than 40 million songs in its library.

11. Twitch

In mid-2014, Amazon bought Twitch for almost $1 billion. The live streaming platform primarily focuses on gaming-related content. You can watch eSports competitions, head-to-head league play of various titles, and live feeds of individual players. There’s also gaming-themed talk shows and other content.

12. Amazon Drive

Amazon Drive is the company’s cloud storage app. It is available in the US, Canada, most of Europe, Japan, Australia, China, and Brazil. Prime users get 5GB for free. Everyone else can pay $11.99 per year for 100GB of space or $59.99 for 1TB.


13. Amazon Dash

Amazon Dash is an instant ordering service for household items. From a consumer standpoint, there are two devices to watch out for: Dash Wands and Dash Buttons.

The wand is a glorified barcode scanner that integrates with Amazon Fresh. The buttons can be linked to a particular item (such as kitchen roll or cleaning wipes). When pressed, they’ll order the item without further interaction from the user.

Check out our guide if you’d like to learn some Amazon Dash tips and tricks.

14. STEM Club

Amazon STEM Club

STEM Club launched in early-2016. It aims to help parents get their kids interested in STEM subjects (science, technology, math, and engineering). Amazon will send a STEM-themed toy every one, two, or three months. You can choose to receive an item for kids aged 3-4, 5-7, or 8-13. It costs $19.99 per delivery.

15. Amazon Books

Amazon Books is one of the company’s forays into physical stores. The first store opened in 2015 in Seattle. Today, there are more than 15 shops. The price of the books in-store match the prices on Amazon’s website.

16. Amazon Home Services

amazon home services website landing page

Amazon Home Services is a marketplace for finding home services. The service covers professional trades such as plumbers, house cleaners, carpet cleaners, window cleaners, and garden maintenance.

17. Amazon Inspire

Aimed at teachers, Amazon Inspire provides K-12 resources for classrooms. Content includes lesson plans, handouts, and exams. You can create your own collections and share them with students or create your own content and share it with other educators.

18. Amazon Cash

You can shop without a debit or credit card in the United States and the United Kingdom by adding money to your Amazon Cash account. You can top up your account in stores or by using your mobile phone. Participating stores include brands such as 7-Eleven, CVS, and GameStop.

19. Amazon Smile

If you purchase items through Amazon Smile, the company will donate 0.5 percent of the purchase price to a charity of your choice. The service is one of the best ways to donate to non-profit organizations.

20. Prime Video Direct

Prime Video Direct lets video creators reach new viewers via the Amazon Prime Video platform. Creators can choose either a revenue sharing or ad-supported payment model.

21. Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a cloud computing platform. It is comfortably the largest provider of cloud services, controlling almost 40 percent of the global market share. The second largest provider, Microsoft, has just 11 percent.

AWS itself is subdivided into more than 90 standalone services. They cover storage, networking, analytics, application services, deployment, developer tools, and more. The two most popular services are Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3).

The division now has revenues of more than $17 billion per year.

Amazon Services That Have Come and Gone

Amazon doesn’t get everything right. Plenty of services have come and gone in the company’s 25-year history.

Some of the most notorious include Amazon Destinations (which lasted a little over six months in 2015), Amazon Local (a list of neighborhood-orientated daily deals), and Amazon Honor (a donation service for creators).

It’s also worth mentioning Amazon Go. The first no-checkout automated store opened in 2015. It bills people as they walk out of the door with their purchases. Despite the considerable hype, no further stores have opened due to technical issues surrounding the in-store shopper tracking.

And remember, the company also offers digital devices such as Amazon Fire devices and Kindle eReaders. If you’d like to learn more about these devices, check out our articles about which Fire TV device is right for you and how to find free Kindle books to read.

Read the full article: The Amazon Index: 21 Amazon Features and Services Explained

08 Oct 15:06

Amazingly impressive

670 points, 26 comments.

08 Oct 13:50

Five quotables/Sleeping Dragon/WeCroak

by Kevin Kelly

Five quotables

These gems keep ringing in my head. — KK

Don’t be the best. Be the only. — Jerry Garcia

If you really want to learn how something works, try to change it. — Matt Mazur

For something to be beautiful it doesn’t have to be pretty. — Rei Kawakubo

If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere. — Frank A. Clark

Eighty percent of success is showing up. — Woody Allen

Ambient music generator
Sleeping Dragon is a generative music application, available for free on Mac and Windows. You adjust sliders, and the software creates a unique piece of never-ending music. I listen to it while I work. If you don’t want to download the software, you can just listen to the calming sounds it generates on its website. — MF

Death reminder app
WeCroak (iOSAndroid) is a bit morbid but I love it. At random times throughout the day I get a notification banner that says “Don’t forget, you’re going to die,” with instructions to open the app for a quote. All the quotes are about dying. The app is inspired by Bhutanese culture where one is expected to think about death five times a day to achieve happiness. So far my favorite quote to contemplate is a question from Pema Chödrön: “Since death is certain, but the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing?” — CD

Logo-free baseball cap
In my never-ending quest to wear clothes without logos, I found a great source of logo-less baseball caps (better than the discontinued Daiso hats). These hefty Falari caps are $9 and come in a refreshing variety of 34 solid colors. Mine are canary yellow. — KK

An honest book about motherhood
The Female Assumption is a raw and honest look at becoming a mother and the pressures on women to reproduce. I couldn’t put it down. Mother of 3, Melanie Holmes interviewed mothers from all over to accurately portray what happens behind the curtain of motherhood. She also includes the stories of women who have consciously chosen to not be mothers. This book is a well-balanced pros and cons list for either path, and a reminder that whatever you decide for yourself is the right choice. Every young woman should read this. — CD

Magnetic phone mount for cars
I’ve tried many different phone mounts, and this magnetic one ($7) is the best. It’s a rubberized magnet that attaches to a car vent. It comes with a metallic sticker to attach to the back of your phone. When I get in my car, I just hold the phone against the magnetic surface and the phone snaps against it. It is much more convenient than other phone mounts that use spring-loaded clips. — MF


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03 Oct 17:32

Toylander 1 Kid's Electric Car

Beginning as Real Life Toys in 1987, Toylander has been making faithful, scaled-down electric recreations of classic trucks and cars. Toylander's Toylander 1 is an incredibly detailed kids-sized electric car...

Visit Uncrate for the full post.
03 Oct 17:31

I’m Delighted to Inform You That the New Suzuki Jimny Has Won a Design Award

I am not delighted to inform you that you still can't buy it in the US.

03 Oct 17:29

10 spots to scope out on a road trip through west central Florida

by Kevin Benefield

For decades, recreational boaters referred to west central Florida as the “lonesome leg.” That’s  because on their 160-mile trips from Clearwater to the Big Bend (where the panhandle meets the peninsula) they never encountered a single buoy. Today, the area is known as Florida’s Nature Coast, and it attracts adventurers eager to explore its renowned wildlife parks and nature preserves, crystal-clear springs and blackwater rivers. But this part of Florida, a magic kingdom of the truest sort, also offers travelers along U.S. Highway 19 an unexpected excursion: a journey back in time.

In Tarpon Springs, step back to the turn of the twentieth century, when the town’s sponge industry boomed and hundreds of Greek divers arrived to bring up the bounty. Up the road in Weeki Wachee and Homosassa, as Publix-anchored strip malls give way to forests of pine, palmetto, and oak, you’ll find the golden age of the American road trip lives on at midcentury roadside attractions showcasing mermaids, underwater observatories, and a hippopotamus named Lu. Hang a left in Otter Creek and follow State Road 24 back to nineteenth-century Florida and the sleepy fishing village and artists enclave of Cedar Key.

Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks
Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks

Photograph courtesy of

Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks
In 1873, rich sponge beds were discovered at the mouth of the Anclote River, and by the turn of the century, nearby Tarpon Springs was the largest sponge port in the nation. The first of some 500 Greek divers arrived in 1905 to expand the sponge operation into deeper waters. So successful were these immigrants, sponging soon became Florida’s largest industry. Visitors to the historic docks and the former sponge exchange can shop for a range of varieties—both decorative and utilitarian—including yellow, finger, wire, vase, and wool. St. Nicholas Boat Lines, established in 1924, offers short river cruises aboard historic sponge-diving vessels and demonstrations of sponge harvesting by a diver in traditional gear.

Hellas Bakery & Restaurant
Hellas Bakery & Restaurant

Photograph courtesy of

Hellas Bakery & Restaurant
Thousands of Greek immigrants followed the divers to Tarpon Springs, opening grocery stores, sweets shops, and restaurants. Today, the town has the highest percentage of Greek-American residents of any city in the nation and is a must-visit destination for Greek cuisine. Snag a table at always-bustling Hellas, founded in 1970, for favorites such as gyros, moussaka, pastitsio, and dolmades served in a kitschy dining room bathed in blue neon and lined with colorful murals of Greek village life. Indulge in Greek takes on martinis, mojitos, and sangria featuring ouzo and pomegranate liqueur. After dinner, step into the adjoining bakery for a classic Greek dessert—baklava, galaktoboureko (custard pie), or kourabiedes (butter cookies)—and a wonderfully bitter cup of Greek coffee.

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral

Dawna Moore/Alamy Stock Photo

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral
In Tarpon Springs, community life centers on this impressive neo-Byzantine structure inspired by the Hagia Sophia and rendered in yellow brick. Completed in 1943, the cathedral houses a number of treasures: crystal chandeliers imported from Czechoslovakia and an altar, Bishop’s throne, and choir stalls carved from marble donated by the Greek government (the stone was originally used for the nation’s pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair). The cathedral also displays scores of hand-painted icons; best known is the Weeping Icon of St. Nicholas, which draws pilgrims from around the world hoping to witness the miraculous formation of crystal-like drops around his eyes, first spotted in 1970.

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Photograph courtesy of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Since 1947, the 74.2-degree waters of one of the world’s deepest natural springs have served as the playground of mermaids. During Weeki Wachee Springs’ heyday in the 1950s and ’60s, it was among the most popular tourist attractions in the nation, thrilling crowds with underwater productions of Peter Pan and The Wizard of Oz. Today, visitors still pack the 400-seat indoor Mermaid Theater submerged sixteen feet below the water’s surface to watch accomplished swimmers clad in Lycra tails feed fish, drink bottled Cokes, eat apples, and perform synchronized underwater acrobatics to the beat of sock-hop standards and the ethereal strains of Enya.

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs State Park
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs State Park

Photograph courtesy of Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs State Park

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
This park traces its beginnings to the early 1900s, when trains on the so-called “Mullet Express” stopped to allow passengers to take in the springs and view the native wildlife. In the 1940s, a small underwater observatory and zoo were established at the main spring, and in 1964, the park was expanded and rebranded “Nature’s Own Attraction.” The big draws were a markedly larger observatory known as the Fish Bowl and a host of trained exotic animals who resided at the park when they weren’t appearing on TV shows or working on movie sets. (These included the bear who played Gentle Ben and Judy the Chimpanzee, who appeared in a host of shows, from Lost in Space to The Beverly Hillbillies.) After the state acquired the park in 1988, the focus turned to native species, and today visitors will encounter West Indian manatees, Florida panthers, black bears, Key deer, and alligators, as well as a host of birds. Be sure to pay a visit to Lucifer “Lu” the hippo; the beloved longtime resident was granted state citizenship by former Governor Lawton Chiles so he could remain in the park he’s called home for fifty-four years. At fifty-eight, he’s the oldest hippo in North America.

Plantation on Crystal River
Plantation on Crystal River

Photograph courtesy of Plantation on Crystal River

Plantation on Crystal River
For more than half a century, this 232-acre eco-friendly resort in the town of Crystal River has served as the jumping-off point for outdoor adventures on Florida’s Nature Coast. Guests of the 196-room hotel can rent canoes, kayaks, and pontoon boats or book fishing charters at the Plantation Adventure Center and explore the surrounding labyrinth of lakes and rivers. The center is also one of the few operators that offers visitors the unforgettable opportunity to snorkel alongside West Indian manatees in Crystal River, the only place in the world where one can swim with the endangered species. After a day in the wilds of West Florida, feast on locally sourced dishes such as pan-roasted grouper and seafood pasta featuring Florida spiny lobster tail, Gulf shrimp, and sea scallops at the resort’s West 82° Grill.

Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge

Photograph courtesy of Plantation on Crystal River

Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Between November and March, some 600 manatees gather at this refuge, whose spring-fed waters stay seventy-two degrees year-round. While many visitors view the gentle giants from boats or on snorkeling tours, those who wish to remain on land are afforded excellent opportunities to experience this annual homecoming from the Three Sisters Boardwalk. The refuge also operates an on-site visitors center featuring manatee exhibits and offers interpretative talks at the boardwalk throughout the winter.

Island Hotel
Sloping wood floors, well-worn furnishings, and slowly turning ceiling fans welcome guests to the 1859 building that has served as the home of this Cedar Key inn since 1946. Early patrons flocked for seafood dinners in the dining room and overnighted in the hotel’s cozy, simply furnished guest rooms; among them were author Pearl Buck, entertainer Tennessee Ernie Ford, and a host of Florida politicos. Plan to spend an evening over beer and burgers in the hotel’s wood-paneled Neptune Bar. Anchored by a 1948 portrait of the Roman god of the sea, the popular watering hole was the site of many an impromptu Jimmy Buffett concert in the 1980s.

Neptune Bar
Neptune Bar, Island Hotel

James Quine/Alamy Stock Photo

Tony’s Seafood Restaurant
Patrons pack the tiny dining room of this Cedar Key restaurant for steaming bowls of clam chowder, which took the top prize at three consecutive Great Chowder Cook-offs. (The organizers of the Newport, Rhode Island–based national competition inducted Tony’s into the Great Chowder Hall of Fame in 2011 and retired the recipe from the contest.) Try snagging a table by the window for a front-row seat of the always-interesting cast of characters—artists, motorcyclists, dogs—cavorting on 2nd Street, the town’s main strip. And be sure to pick up a few cans—or a case—of the creamy, kicky chowder to take home.

Cedar Key Museum State Park
Drop by this small state park to learn about the rich history of Cedar Key, which served as a railroad center and shipping port in the nineteenth century, transporting seafood and timber to markets across the eastern United States. Some displays tell the story of the area’s once-booming pencil industry, which relied on locally harvested cedar and graphite imported from Siberia. A park highlight is the former home of St. Clair Whitman, a Cedar Key resident who turned a room in his circa-1880 house into the island’s first museum in the 1940s. Visitors are afforded a glimpse of life as it once was in rural Florida, as well as the chance to view Whitman’s impressive collections of seashells and American Indian artifacts.

The post 10 spots to scope out on a road trip through west central Florida appeared first on Atlanta Magazine.

03 Oct 17:28

Bill Gates-funded Likewise app gives you recommendations from people you trust - CNET

by Gordon Gottsegen
Likewise recommends everything from books and movies to places and restaurants.
03 Oct 17:28


by (Cinema Retro)

Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Aston Martin:

  • · Seven Iconic Aston Martin James Bond cars will be in central London to celebrate ‘Global James Bond Day’ this Friday
  • · A chance to win a year-long Sky Q package and a 55” Ultra High Definition TV

3 October 2018, London, UK: Aston Martin Lagonda (AML) has teamed up with EON Productions and Sky to celebrate Global James Bond Day on Friday 5 October, launching a prize draw for fans, giving them a chance to win a wide screen television and Sky Q package.

Aston Martin cars are driven by James Bond in eleven of the 007 films; Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), The Living Daylights (1971), GoldenEye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), Die Another Day (2002), Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015).

Throughout Friday, four iconic Aston Martins from the 007 films, the DB10, V8 Vantage, DB5 and DBS will be driving through central London passing major landmarks and James Bond film locations.

Grab a selfie with the Die Another Day (2002) Vanquish, complete with bonnet mounted guns at Aston Martin Park Lane or hop over to Aston Martin Works’ heritage showroom on Dover Street where you will find the battle-scarred Quantum of Solace (2008) DBS.

Visit the ‘Bond in Motion’ exhibition at the London Film Museum and see the DBS from Casino Royale (2006) parked outside. Inside is the largest official collection of original James Bond vehicles.

Aston Martin Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, Simon Sproule said: “The connection between James Bond and Aston Martin reaches back through the decades so we are delighted to be supporting Global James Bond Day 2018. London is the home of 007 and fans should be on the lookout for some of the most exciting cars used by James Bond this Friday 5th October.”

Hints and tips will be posted throughout Friday on the @astonmartin and @007 social media channels, giving clues on the location of the cars, which will all bear decals to show they are Global James Bond Day cars. Photographs from the day should be posted on all social media channels, using the hashtags #JamesBondDay and #BondInMotion.

To be in with a chance of the fantastic Sky prize, please visit

01 Oct 17:21

The Best Scavenger Hunt Apps and Ideas

by Anya Zhukova

If you’ve ever been a part of a well-organized team-building activity, you know that it’s a great way to not only have fun together but build trust and understanding among any group of people. That’s what makes it such a great way of getting to know each other. 

Sure, icebreakers can get people talking, but if you’re looking to really make people feel more relaxed with each other, you’ll need a proper team-building activity. Like a scavenger hunt. And as usual, there’s an app for that.

How to Organize a Scavenger Hunt

So you’ve decided to organize a scavenger hunt for your family, friends, or colleagues. Don’t know where to begin? Worry not, because there are some great scavenger hunt apps available.

Below you’ll find our roundup of the best mobile apps and online resources that will do most of the work for you. All you need to do is make sure your friends know where the starting point for the scavenger hunt is.

All scavenger hunt apps have the same basic features. They allow you to create tasks for the teams or individual players to complete. Some of them come with a map, so you can assign your tasks to specific locations. Just make sure your players are equipped with smartphones that have data and GPS enabled during the game.

1. GooseChase

GooseChase is a DIY scavenger hunt platform. This means that you can either choose a theme for your game from the existing “mission bank” on the app, or you can create one from scratch. If you choose to write a unique treasure hunt, you can check out the company’s blog for inspiration. You can find things like 15 creative scavenger hunt ideas or 15 funny scavenger hunt ideas.

Once you’re happy with the end result, you can send it to the participants’ smartphones and begin the hunt.

In order to complete missions, participants submit photos through the app. The tasks vary, and can sometimes involve talking to strangers and even convincing them to take part in the game one way or another. Each mission has a set point value, and the team (or individual) that collects the most points by the end of the game wins.

The game is free if you use it for organizing a small team hunt, and GooseChase offers paid packages for large groups or businesses.

Download: GooseChase for iOS | Android (Free)

2. Locandy

Locandy is another platform that offers ready-made scavenger hunts. More interestingly, they’re not just games, but also quests where you have to make decisions. The story changes and evolves depending on what you choose to do.

Locandy offers interactive multimedia games that will help you discover your surroundings while outdoors, or a completely different city while sightseeing. The app and all games are free for users. You need to download them individually before you begin but after that you won’t even need an internet connection. Having your GPS enabled is enough.

If you enjoy the Locandy app and scavenger hunts they offer, you can become a contributor. You can request an author account, start creating your own Locandy games, and then share them with your fellow users.

Download: Locandy for iOS | Android (Free)

3. Huntzz

Huntzz is another DIY app that also offers some ready-made treasure hunts. Its main attraction, however, is its antique-looking treasure map interface.

You can create games inside the app, or if you happen to be in the place where other users or the app creators already have shared hunts, you can just pick one of those to play. Most of the hunts are sightseeing-focused, where every clue you get to comes with a so-called “scroll” full of interesting information about a landmark or an exhibit you reached. There’s also an option to choose different levels of difficulty, from simple to cryptic game clues.

When you create your own scavenger hunts on the app, you can choose to share them with other users publicly or privately. Some of the games that already exist on the app are free and some you have to pay for. There’s also an option of getting full access to all the paid games on the app.

Download: Huntzz for iOS | Android (Free)

4. Scavify

Scavify is a scavenger hunt app that offers complete treasure hunt games for different audiences, such as university students, workplace employees, educational event’s attendees, and tourists.

Scavify will offer you different hunts based on various group sizes, whether you want the game to be competitive or not, and the purpose of the scavenger hunt. The tasks in the hunt include taking pictures and videos in specific locations, solving difficult puzzles, answering quiz-like questions, and scanning QR-codes found in certain places.

One downside might be that Scavify doesn’t have a free trial option. Personal packages start at $29 for small groups of 10 players. The company also offers different packages for larger groups and businesses.

Download: Scavify for iOS | Android (Free-to-use, with paid game packages on the site)

5. Google’s Emoji Scavenger Hunt

Google’s Emoji Scavenger Hunt is a fun little game that you can play using just your phone’s camera. After you load the site and start the game, you will only have 20 seconds to complete each task. The tasks are quite simple—you need to find items Google throws at you. A neural network will then try to identify what it is you’re holding in front of your camera.

You can even keep the sound on and hear all the items being identified as they come into the camera’s view.

If you enjoy this one and feel like playing more fun Google games, check out these quick games you can play on Google Search.

6. Geocaching

Geocaching is a scavenger-type activity where users first create “caches” by filling them with items and then hide them wherever they want. They then upload the GPS coordinated to the web for others to find. Once you find a cache, you can replace it with something of equal or greater value and claim what you found.

For an updated map with listings of nearby caches go to the geocaching website or use one of the many (free) geocaching mobile apps. Caches differ based on their size, distance, and difficulty. An easy one could make for a perfect outside-the-box romantic getaway with your significant other.

More Outdoor Games to Play With Smartphones

If you experiment with a few of those apps and tools, you’ll definitely crack the formula for your perfect scavenger hunt.

In case these don’t quite hit the spot for you, even though you identify as an outdoorsy type who loves exploration and adventure—check out these fun outdoor games to play using your GPS-enabled smartphone.

Read the full article: The Best Scavenger Hunt Apps and Ideas

01 Oct 16:20

Six Reasons Why You Should Choose Martinique For Your Winter Escape

by Sylvie Bigar, Contributor
Les Salines, the Southern beach near Sainte-Anne, a charming French village in the tropics, is simply one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
01 Oct 16:15

This Wine Club Has Something for Every Type of Wine Drinker

The Gold Medal Wine Club has six different club options that offer anything and everything any wine drinker could want.

01 Oct 16:14

What’s the Best Drone for Photography?

by Megan Ellis

Aerial photography is responsible for some of the most impressive shots on Instagram, YouTube, and even good ol’ TV. But you no longer need to hop on a helicopter or biplane to get these excellent shots. While there are many different activities for drones, aerial photography is one of their most popular draws.

As drone photography becomes more popular, it’s getting more difficult to decide which devices are the best for your needs. Here are some of the best drones for photography out there—as well as the situations they suit the most.

The Best Aerial Photography Drone for Beginners
Yuneec Breeze 4K


Yuneec YUNFCAUS Breeze Compact Smart Drone Ultra HD 4K Video, White with Bluetooth Controller Yuneec YUNFCAUS Breeze Compact Smart Drone Ultra HD 4K Video, White with Bluetooth Controller Buy Now At Amazon $173.90

Why we like it: A variety of autonomous functions at a low price.

There are a few things to consider when buying your first drone. For a beginner’s drone, you want one that is relatively simple to operate, includes various automated functions, and comes with a reasonable price tag. Yuneec, known for its quality drones and competitive prices, offers the perfect solution: the Yuneec Breeze 4K drone.

This drone is specially catered towards beginners in terms of its price and its various piloting modes. These modes include selfie mode, orbit mode, journey mode, and follow me mode. This makes it perfect for total beginners who need some assistance when it comes to steering their drone.

Its 4K video recording and 13MP camera mean that it also boasts decent quality imaging, meeting most beginners’ aerial photography requirements. The 12-minute flight time is a bit limiting, but this kind of time window is similar to other compact beginner drones on the market.

The Best Budget Drone for Aerial Photography
Parrot Bebop 2


Parrot Bebop 2 FPV - Up to 25 Minutes of Flight time, FPV Goggles, Compact Drone Parrot Bebop 2 FPV - Up to 25 Minutes of Flight time, FPV Goggles, Compact Drone Buy Now At Amazon $299.00

Why we like it: Impressive quality for price. Full HD camera.

The Parrot Bebop 2 balances price and quality in a way that makes it the perfect budget drone for photography. While there are a variety of cheaper camera drones on the market, their quality is markedly lower.

However, the Parrot Bebop 2 has impressive specifications for its price range—even competing with a few drones that come with a higher price tag. The drone boasts 25 minutes of autonomous flight time, meaning that it doesn’t skimp in terms of battery power. It also has a Full HD camera with a 14MP lens.

Other features include GPS tracking, smartphone app controls, and flight stability functionality. It may not be packed with quite the number of features of some of the other drones on this list, but for its price it offers great value for money.

You can have a look at more drones at different price ranges in our roundup of the best drones for all budgets.

The Best Drone for Real Estate or Commercial Photos
DJI Phantom 4 Pro


DJI Phantom 4 PRO Professional Drone, Hobby RC Quadcopter & Multirotor, White, CP.PT.000488 DJI Phantom 4 PRO Professional Drone, Hobby RC Quadcopter & Multirotor, White, CP.PT.000488 Buy Now At Amazon $1,188.00

Why we like it: Near-unparalleled performance and quality. Suitable for a variety of commercial uses.

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro is considered one of the best photography drones on the market. It’s a favorite for consumers, professionals, and businesses thanks to its exceptional video and photo quality. In fact, when you ask professionals which drones are best for commercial photography, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro is almost always mentioned.

What makes the DJI Phantom 4 Pro great for real estate and commercial photography is that its price range makes it accessible to both small and large businesses. There are more complex drones that companies can invest in, but these come with a more difficult learning curve.

Since the Phantom 4 Pro is also consumer-friendly, it’s easy enough for businesses to use as well without needing a professional drone pilot on hand. The Phantom 4 Pro is popular among professional photographers, but is also often used for television advertisements, music videos, and other commercial videos.

Its features include a maximum flight time of 30 minutes, three-axis stabilization, Cinema 4K (C4K) video recording, and a 20MP camera with adjustable aperture.

The Best Drone for 4K Photography
DJI Mavic Pro 2


DJI Mavic 2 Pro Drone Quadcopter with Hasselblad Camera HDR Video UAV Adjustable Aperture 20MP 1" CMOS Sensor (US Version) DJI Mavic 2 Pro Drone Quadcopter with Hasselblad Camera HDR Video UAV Adjustable Aperture 20MP 1" CMOS Sensor (US Version) Buy Now At Amazon $1,499.00

Why we like it: Improves on an outstanding product. Better portability than other premium drones.

In our review of the DJI Mavic Pro, our reviewer dubbed it the best drone he’d ever flown. The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is the new and improved iteration of the original drone. Shortly after its release, it garnered the praise and awe of drone enthusiasts.

As the company’s flagship consumer drone, it not only comes with exceptional quality, but also great portability and ease-of-use. It’s equipped with a 20MP Hasselblad camera, six-axis obstacle avoidance, foldable arms, and a maximum flight time of 31 minutes.

It also has a few awesome tricks, such as the ability to create 48MP super-resolution images by patching together nine photos taken with the drone’s telephoto lens. It also has a hyperlapse function, a favorite effect among many photographers.

The drone features HDR and a “hyperlight” low-light mode to make sure your pictures achieve stunning depth and detail. The drone doesn’t come cheap, but it is the belle of the ball when it comes to drones for 4K photography.

Improve Your Photography Skills Further

While using these, the best drones for photography we could find, will give you the opportunity to capture some of the rarest views, having a drone won’t necessarily make you a great photographer.

As has been said many times before, when it comes to honing your photography skills, practice makes perfect.

Luckily for you we’ve rounded up a few ways you can become a better photographer by doing a few simple exercises. So be sure to check them out if you want an inexpensive way to improve your photography skills.

Read the full article: What’s the Best Drone for Photography?

28 Sep 15:33

Chef-Approved Tailgating Essentials

by Dacey Orr

photo: Brennan Wesley

Haskell Harris (@haskellharris) is the style director at Garden & Gun

I lived in Birmingham, Alabama, for five years before I arrived at Garden & Gun in Charleston, South Carolina, and I still miss chef Chris Hastings and the Hot and Hot Fish Club. He’s as friendly as his food and Hastings is someone who knows how to do game day, thanks to more than three decades spent mastering the high art of crowd-pleasing.

“We tailgate at the University of Alabama and the site varies, but we usually arrive about four hours ahead of kickoff,” he says. His two children, Zeb and Vincent, are Alabama alums; Hastings attended culinary school at Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island, where his tailgating experience was limited to flag football games, so there’s no family or sibling sports rivalry in sight at his get-togethers. Just good friends, a good time, and really good food.

photo: Courtesy of Chris Hastings

Chef Chris Hastings and his wife, Idie, at an Alabama tailgate.

Biggest tailgating success: His dad’s grilled chicken. “It’s marinated in Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, chili flakes, thyme, garlic, and butter for hours, and because of the marinade and the way we grill it, it looks like it’s burnt so it’s a big surprise for folks. It has a darkness to it because of the Worcestershire and a bright flavor from the lemon and it’s moist on the inside. Once people taste it they’re like ‘Oh, okay, I get it now, it’s not burnt.’”

Biggest tailgating fail: “My favorite salad in the fall is an apple endive salad with a creamy dressing that has tarragon and chervil and parsley, and one year I did it with red and white endive. It was beautiful to look at, but it was a little like somebody showed up in a tuxedo to go to a tailgate—it was out of place. I was the only one who ate it,” he laughs.


Items on chef Chris Hastings’s tailgating checklist:

Coleman Coastal Extreme Portable Cooler, 120 Quart

“This cooler has great inside capacity, holds ice exceptionally well, and isn’t too heavy. I would need five average coolers to fit what I need to tailgate due a lack of inside capacity in most.” $58

Back Forty Beer and Cahaba Brewing

“I love both of these guys and their beers, especially Back Forty’s Freckle Belly ale and Cahaba Brewing’s American Blonde ale.”


JBL Portable Boombox

“This has great sound, it’s six pounds, and it’s waterproof!” $419


Kijaro Portable Camping Chair

“These are light, sturdy, affordable, and best of all, they have two drink holders.” $35

Thermos Stainless Steel Insulator

“This is the best koozie on the planet because it holds its temperature, covers the entire can, and has a 360-degree drinking feature on the lid.” $15

CBS Sports App

“This is the ideal way to get scores and live stream games.” Free

 Weber Original Kettle Charcoal Grill

“Simple and perfect.” $149

Garden & Gun has affiliate partnerships and may receive a portion of sales when a reader clicks to buy a product. All products are independently selected by the G&G editorial team.

The post Chef-Approved Tailgating Essentials appeared first on Garden & Gun.

28 Sep 15:20

How Fishing Captains are Saving the Everglades

by Dacey Orr

“This is what’s at risk,” Captain Chris Wittman tells me. “This is what we are fighting for.” He doesn’t need to point to what he’s referring to. Open waters and islands dense with mangroves unfurl in every direction. We’ve run a Hell’s Bay poling skiff through skinny water outside Everglades City, Florida, for a morning of hunting tarpon. This is primal country, without the blemish of a single human-built structure. Untouched, or so it seems.

Two years ago, Wittman, who lives in Fort Myers, would spend three days on the water for every one on land, guiding anglers to tarpon, permit, and redfish along the Gulf of Mexico. He still watches plenty of sunrises from a poling platform, but these days he finds himself under fluorescent lighting more than he’d like: on the phone, in meetings, in legislative offices in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.

As a founding director of Captains for Clean Water, a nonprofit that advocates for the restoration of Florida’s estuaries and the Everglades, Wittman is helping channel into action a rising tide of anger over the state’s catastrophic water pollution. He and another Fort Myers charter captain, Daniel Andrews, formed the group in February 2016, after contaminated water from Lake Okeechobee flowed into the Caloosahatchee River and then into the fish-rich estuary where they have guided for decades. The toxic sludge wiped out grass beds and oyster reefs. Fish and horse conchs fled the contamination to die on white-sand beaches. The stench drove tourists out of their hotels. Fishing bookings, Wittman said, fell by 80 percent.

photo: Pete Barrett

Wittman on his eighteen-foot Hell’s Bay fishing skiff.

Captains in the area had seen this before. Florida’s waterways have been re-plumbed over the last century, and water no longer flows where nature intended. Instead of filtering slowly from Okeechobee through the Everglades, water polluted by municipal and agricultural sources shunts from the lake through a system of locks and canals into the St. Lucie River on the east coast and the Caloosahatchee to the west.

Wet years had brought high flows of tainted freshwater, but
the winter deluge in 2016 was the worst ever. “The straw that broke the camel’s back,” Andrews says. The two captains coined a name for their grassroots effort, put up a Facebook page calling for a meeting at the Fort Myers Bass Pro Shops, and wondered if they could get a few dozen irate captains to show.

They did—along with about three hundred others. “The crowd was out the door,” Wittman recalls, and included saltwater and freshwater fishing guides and anglers, commercial fishermen, tackle-shop owners, and journalists. “We realized we had a chance to do something to fix this. To influence our policy makers.”

Pete Barrett

Fixing the Everglades has been a rallying cry since the invention of orange juice, but there is hope that a window of opportunity has opened. After years of study, plans are now under way to build a 17,000-acre, $1.6 billion reservoir ringed with massive constructed wetlands south of Lake Okeechobee. The lake will capture and hold polluted runoff, filter it through the marshes, and release it slowly south into the Everglades, which have been cut off from adequate water flows for decades.

The Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir, as it is known, was originally proposed as a 60,000-acre project, and some worry that the current design won’t be large enough to result in the “optimal” benefit that the authorizing legislation requires. “But it’s a big step forward,” says Thomas Van Lent, director of science and policy for the Everglades Foundation. “If it doesn’t provide the promised water quality, the state is on the hook to fix it.” After Congress green-lights Florida’s plan, it also has to come up with $800 million in matching funding. Van Lent is optimistic the needed legislation will pass this session, and that construction will begin soon after.

For now, the captains—and the more than 2,500 other members of Captains for Clean Water—are applying pressure to state legislators, federal officials, and anyone who will listen about the chance to do something meaningful for South Florida’s ecosystem, and the famed fisheries it supports.

The Everglades are dying. I’ve heard that since I was a kid,” Wittman says. “And there are quite a few places where this effort can still fall off the tracks. But this is the best chance we’ve had for significant conservation of the ’Glades in my lifetime. We can’t squander this opportunity.” 

The post How Fishing Captains are Saving the Everglades appeared first on Garden & Gun.

27 Sep 18:37

Laser Noob: Getting Started With the K40 Laser

by Adam Fabio

Why spend thousands on a laser cutter/engraver when you can spend as little as $350 shipped to your door? Sure it’s not as nice as those fancy domestic machines, but the plucky K40 is the little laser that can. Just head on down to Al’s Laser Emporium and pick one up.  Yes, it sounds like a used car dealership ad, but how far is it from the truth? Read on to find out!

Laser cutting and engraving machines have been around for decades. Much like 3D printers, they were originally impossibly expensive for someone working at home. The closest you could get to a hobbyist laser was Epilog laser, which would still cost somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000 for a small laser system. A few companies made a go with the Epilog and did quite well – notably Adafruit used to offer laptop laser engraving services.

Over the last decade or so things have changed. China got involved, and suddenly there were cheap lasers on the market. Currently, there are several low-cost laser models available in various power levels. The most popular is the smallest – a 40-watt model, dubbed the K40. There are numerous manufacturers and there have been many versions over the years. They all look about the same though: A blue sheet metal box with the laser tube mounted along the back. The cutting compartment is on the left and the electronics are on the right. Earlier versions came with Moshidraw software and a parallel interface.

The K40 mechanics haven’t changed very much, but the electronics have been updated to USB with modern stepper drivers. Make no mistake, these are not “quality” machines. They are built down to a cost. Interlock switches are non-existent. Overheat protection for the tube is your problem. Low cooling water flow alarm? Nope, better keep an eye on that yourself. The cutting bed looks like a mixture of an afterthought and parts someone found in the spares bin. The exhaust duct is routed 3 inches into the cutting area. In other words, these are the perfect machines for a hacker.

I’ve been watching the K40 and similar machines on eBay for years. Originally these machines were shipped from China. It was a crapshoot if a large heavy gas filled glass tube would survive the trip halfway around the world. Now, many of the machines are shipping from California and other ports within the lower 48 states. I’m guessing the machines are shipped to a warehouse here in the USA, tested, then the good units are sent on to customers.

With all this in mind, I finally decided to jump in and get a K40 laser. My first problem was deciding which laser to buy. eBay and Alibaba are riddled with auctions from sellers with different versions of the K40. Everyone says they’re newer and better than the rest. Some boast different accessory packages, and things like air assist – but also cost more. There is enough information to throw even the most seasoned eBayer into analysis paralysis mode.

In the end, I decided to go with one of the cheaper (but not the cheapest) lasers with a digital front panel display. My model also came with a temperature readout for the cooling water, and wheels – for those who like to roll their benchtop lasers around.

I clicked the “buy it now” button and started waiting. The machine in its 62 lb crate would take about a week to ship from the west coast. That gave me plenty of time to order some safety equipment.

Laser Safety

While the K40 may be cheap, I didn’t want to skimp on safety equipment. There are many vendors for laser safe goggles online. There are plenty of them available from China, but I really didn’t want to risk my eyes to a company I had never heard of. I did some checking around and ended up ordering a pair manufactured by Honeywell. Amazon had them available on Prime, so they got to me before the K40 itself. Whichever pair you order, make sure they are rated for CO2 lasers. There are many types of lasers out there, and goggles meant to protect you from a UV medical laser won’t help much at all when it comes to an IR laser like the one in the K40. IR safe glasses will be clear, or nearly so. But don’t mistake them for bog standard safety glasses. These are specially made materials which will help keep you safe from the invisible blindness beam your K40 puts out when your other safety measures fail.

Lasers burn things, and it is unfortunately common for those things to catch fire inside the laser. I’m keeping a large ABC dry powder fire extinguisher near the printer. However, that’s only a stopgap. If you’ve ever had to use a powder extinguisher, you know how messy they are. To try to keep the K40 and the rest of my lab safe, I’m planning to invest in a gas extinguisher of some type. Either CO2 or Halotron, depending on which is safer for use in a basement room.

While I never plan to leave the laser running unattended, I also have smoke detectors in my lab. Finally, I added a carbon monoxide detector to make sure the K40 doesn’t fill the room with a silent killer.


Hackaday doesn’t do unboxing videos, but the impression I got while unpacking the K40 was that it is big – bigger than one would imagine from the photos. My machine measured 32″ wide x 19.75″ deep x 10.25″ high. Thankfully I had workbench space right near a window that made a perfect home.


The K40 laser is water cooled. All the lasers include a coolant pump as one of the accessories. The pump I received is a wonder of cost reduction. It’s an aquarium or pond pump, with a magnetically coupled impeller. I was concerned when after use I saw water dripping out of the pump down the 120 V power cord. It turns out the back cover of the pump isn’t even sealed. It doesn’t need to be. The motor stator and coils are potted in black epoxy. As long as that potting compound is in place, nothing can get to the motor. It does seem to work well for keeping the cooling water flowing. However, I can’t say I completely trust it with the life of my laser tube. A mod may be in the future for this system.

For coolant, I’m using distilled water. My reservoir for these early tests is a simple shoebox-sized plastic container. It holds a gallon of water and keeps the pump submerged. If the laser isn’t going to be used for a few days, I dump the water and empty the tube by blowing into the inlet line.


Cutting things with a laser will produce smoke and fumes; that’s a given. The K40 comes with an exhaust fan which is rather anemic, to say the least. It’s literally a bathroom exhaust fan slapped on the back of the laser. Smoke is pulled through a slot cut in the back of the case and sent up the exhaust hose. I already have a large Dayton fan mounted in the window of my lab. While the unguarded blades are decidedly dangerous, it moves a crazy amount of air. This coupled with the stock exhaust fan was able to keep the smell of burning wood and plastic down to reasonable levels. However, I’ll definitely be upgrading the stock exhaust in the future.

Aligning The Optics

The first step in setting up one of these lasers is arguably the most dangerous: aligning the mirrors. This is why I bought good laser goggles. Working on the laser with the doors off is something you generally don’t want to do since you can’t control where the beam goes.

Keep the laser safety glasses on at all times, close the door, and make sure no one else walks into the room. My tube was so far out of alignment that the beam exited the case through the open door and made a small scorch mark on the wall behind my workbench. It would not have been good if someone else was standing there.

There are plenty of video tutorials out there for aligning the mirrors on a K40. I found this one to be particularly helpful. The idea is to make sure that the laser dot hits the center of each of the three mirrors in the beam path. Two of the mirrors move on an X-Y table, so it’s important to make sure the beam hits the same spot no matter where they are positioned. I used Post-it notes rather than the painter’s tape many of the tutorials call for. It’s much easier to see the burn mark on the yellow Post-It than on the dark blue tape.

You don’t need a computer for these steps, just keep the stepper motors off and move the table by hand. When it comes time to fire the laser, you just have to tap the test button on the front panel.
The first thing to align is the tube itself. My tube was so far out of alignment that the beam wasn’t even hitting the mirror. The tube is held in with two metal spring straps. Rubber rings keep the straps from breaking the glass tube. More rubber acts as shims to align the tube vertically. I removed one of the shims from the left side of the tube and added it to the right. It’s a fiddly procedure since tightening too hard on the screws will break the single most expensive part of the K40 – the laser tube.

I found that even after an alignment, my K40 still wasn’t performing correctly. I cleaned the mirrors and the laser tube with alcohol, but it was no help. Finally, I disassembled the focusing head. That’s where I found my problem. There were bits of metal inside the head from when it was machined. These metal pieces were in the beam path, disrupting it. I took the 45-degree mirror and the focusing lens out, then carefully cleaned the tube. Once everything was re-assembled, my K40 was ready for action.


The laser comes with an obviously burned CD and a USB stick. My laptop doesn’t have a CD drive, so I popped in the USB stick and found… nothing. It’s not really a drive, but a dongle to unlock the laser driver software. I had to go and find my USB cd drive before using the K40. Most of the filenames on the disc are in Chinese. Some digging eventually led me to a file for Corel Laser. It’s a copy of Corel Draw with a plugin to drive the K40. The copy of Corel Draw is almost certainly an illegal cracked copy. I got access to a legit base copy from a friend who switched over to Adobe.

In simple terms, CorelLaser gives you a toolbar and can cut or engrave any image loaded into Corel Draw. Cutting and engraving are very different processes though. Cutting is a vector operation. The laser will trace the path of every line in the image. Engraving is a raster affair. The laser will draw the image line by line, left to right and top to bottom. You can also perform both processes on the same design by creating a cut layer and an engraving layer in the software.

I ran into trouble with the software pretty quickly. Whenever I tried to cut, the laser head moved slowly. Changing the movement settings didn’t help. Some digging eventually pointed me to the settings page for CorelLaser. Here I found the “mainboard” setting was wrong. The value has to match the model number silk screened on the laser mainboard. Of course, the mainboard is mounted in such a way that you can’t read the model number, but a quick cell phone photo fixed that problem. My model is 6C6879-LASER-M2. The board firmware is dated 2018-01-08, so the board must have been built sometime after that.

I expected CorelLaser to be a hot mess. Honestly, it isn’t half bad. It definitely has some maddening quirks, but overall it does what it should – drive the steppers and switch the laser. The top quirk I’ve found is line width. Corel defaults to “hairline” as line width. This is larger than the laser kerf, so CorelLaser interprets it as two parallel paths. Tracing two close paths on with the K40 will make a wide burning mess of whatever you’re trying to cut. The solution is to select everything in your document <Ctrl-A> then hit F12, and change the line width to .001 mm. CorelLaser will then operate as you expect it to.

Which Materials to use (and which to avoid)

What to cut? As with any laser cutter, thought has to be given to the materials being cut. In general, wood is safe to cut, as is paper, cloth, melamine, pressboard, matte board, cork, some rubbers, natural leather, and Corian. Engraving can be performed on materials such as glass, stone, anodized aluminum, steel (with a laser engraving coating) and other materials.

Some plastics should never be cut in a laser cutter. Anything with chlorine – notably PVC and vinyl. Burning PVC results in chlorine gas, which will kill the user, and hydrochloric acid, which will rust your K40 out so bad that your next of kin won’t be able to enjoy it. A simple test for chlorine is the copper wire burnination test, which can be seen in this 10-year-old video from [Adam] and [Zach] at NYC Resistor. ABS plastic is another one to avoid. It tends to melt and is messy to cut. It also releases trace amounts of cyanide gas. If you’re ever unsure about a material, look up on the pages of hackerspaces who have lasers. If they won’t cut it on their laser, you probably shouldn’t either.

Cutting and Engraving

Cutting and engraving are what we’re all here for, right? The fun part of learning the laser is figuring out how to set up the software for different materials. With a laser, you have three variables to play with. Laser power, speed, and the number of passes. Laser power is controlled by the front panel of the K40. It’s either a knob and an inaccurate milliampere meter or a digital control expressed in power percentage. Cutting with more than one pass is messier than just cutting the material once, so save that for when you really need to do it.

There are a few guides out there – I’ve found this page to be a good starting point for figuring out which speeds and power levels to run at for a given material. I generally will use the speed from that site, then start at a much lower laser power. Testing on scrap pieces, I’ll keep raising the power until I have a clean cut. If the power is below 50%, I’ll generally stick with it, and not adjust the speed.

You should definitely keep notes of what you use. On my laser, I found a deep engrave on ⅛” acrylic at 50% and 320 mm/s. Cutting ⅛” birch plywood worked best at 25% power and 5 mm/s. Keep in mind that quality control on the K40 is non-existent, and beam focus will matter, so your device may be different from mine. Further, materials such as plywood and acrylic can change from batch to batch depending on moisture content and other variables. Always buy some extra material to use as scrap for dialing in your settings.


So how good is the K40 in a “bone stock” condition? Pretty damn good actually. I was able to cut ⅛” birch plywood and ⅛” acrylic with one pass at less than 50% power. The parts would literally fall out as each cut complete. This is a laser, so of course, there is some charring of the wood on the edges, but nothing a bit of sandpaper can’t fix. As a torture test, I took the Hackaday logo .svg file loaded it up into CorelLaser, set the line width to .001 mm, and hit go. The K40 dutifully cut out the jolly wrencher, giving me a little puzzle of pieces to try to fit back together.
Engraving performance was good too – I was able to cut simple black and white images (and text) into wood and acrylic. I can see how this would be perfect for making control panels with labeled lights and switches.


The K40 is a cheap laser engraver/cutter. However, it is very capable, even when used unmodified. That said, the cutter is a great platform for modification. You can bet I’ll be spending some time adding things like air assist and a better bed to my K40 as well as cutting down that exhaust duct.

27 Sep 18:31

10 Rules You Should Break In Street Photography

by Keenan Hastings

I went on a photo walk the other day with a friend who mostly shoots events and does client-focused work. The majority of the time we just talked about freelance work, but every now and then we’d see an interesting scene and capture it. We both shot on zoom lenses, but when she would show me her captures, I couldn’t help but notice how zoomed in she was.

Every photograph was at around 70mm… I let the first 2 attempts slide, but after attempt number 3, I said, “hey you aren’t supposed to zoom — that’s against the rules!”.

She had no idea what I was talking about — I knew this because she responded with “they’re rules?”. I slapped my forehead and proceeded to list off a few dos and don’ts of street photography. After our brief little conversation, I noticed that she didn’t really take any more photographs. And at that moment, I knew these rules were holding a lot of us back.

See the thing with rules, it’s important to know them, but also important to break them when necessary. In order to progress we have to go against the rules at times. That’s probably how chicken and waffles got started… or brunch as a whole.

In this article, I want to go over 10 rules that I think everyone should break. Again, I’m not telling you to break these every time you go out and shoot, but you have to be open to new things…

Rule #1. Shoot In Manual Mode Only

A lot of these rules I’m going to ask you to break just to be a rebel, but this first rule I want you to break every time you go out to shoot. If you’re shooting in manual mode, you’re just making your life harder. Why give yourself something else to worry about? I couldn’t imagine trying to change my settings every photograph. If you’re in a dark area you have to adjust your ISO, if you’re in a bright area you have to rush and change the aperture… It’s just too much to think about.

Street photography is at it’s best when in P (Program) mode, or aperture priority (my personal favorite). I set my camera to f/8, my ISO to 400 minimum and my shutter speed does its own thing. I never have to worry about my camera. If I see an interesting subject, I just compose and shoot.

Some photographers call this “f/8 and be there…” You can call it what you want, just give it a try!

Rule #2. Don’t Shoot From Behind

People will tell you all the time not to shoot from behind, they affiliate it with being scared or some just think it doesn’t tell a great story… I disagree, all photographs have the potential to tell a story, it doesn’t matter if you’re in front of me, if I’m behind you, or if you’re below me… as street photographers, it’s our job to tell that story.

Now, I’m not saying walk behind people and just snap away, but what I am saying is to give every moment a chance, if you see something interesting don’t say to yourself “I’m behind this person, I can’t take this photograph”. I know I’ve done that a few times, so I’m telling you to break this rule so you all don’t make that same mistake.

Rule #3. Don’t Shoot From The Hip

Whenever you see a portrait of another street photographer in action, he’ll likely have the camera up to his face. This is how I shoot a great deal of my shots, but it’s important to try and get different angles and to do this you have to pull that camera away from your eyes. Get low, go high, shoot from the hip, not because you’re afraid but because it’s a more interesting perspective.

Related: 5 Reasons You Should Ditch Your Viewfinder

Rule #4. Be Invisible

This is the one I hate! Everyone want’s you to be invisible. We don’t all live in New York, some of us live in smaller cities… No matter where I stand if I’m taking a photograph of you with a 28mm (or 35mm) lens, you’re going to see me! It’s only you and I on the streets, it’s pretty much impossible to be invisible.

If your subject sees you, so what? Most of my subjects are looking dead at me in my photographs. It may not be your typical candid photograph, it may be against the rules, but it makes my job a hell of a lot easier and more exciting.

Rule #5. Don’t Crop

This is a rule that was created in the film days. It took a lot of work to crop a photograph back then… We don’t have that same headache, cropping is super easy and you can still maintain aspect ratio. If the photo looks better cropped, then crop it!

Rule #6. Shoot Wide

I’m not going to lie, if you ask me what focal length to shoot with, I’m going to tell you 28mm. But who am I? 35mm is a perfect length for street photographs. So is 50mm… Hell, shoot 70mm if you want. I gave it a try.

When I say break the rules, I mean just give things a chance. You don’t have to shoot at 70mm exclusively, but why not give it go and see if it’s for you? Maybe you’ll find that you like the process better, maybe that the extra compression will give your photographs a unique look.

I think a lot of people created these rules we have in place now because they broke previous ones. I’m always going to shoot 28mm, but I’m not against shooting 200mm either.

Rule #7. Shoot With Primes

When I bought my first camera, I didn’t take any pictures for 2 months because I had read that zoom lenses were frowned upon in the street community. I sold my XF 18-55 and I picked up the XF 18mm and absolutely hated the focal length. No big deal, maybe that wasn’t the right focal length for me. I later invest in the XF 35 and I didn’t really enjoy that one either, I missed every shot because it was too zoomed in. None of these focal lengths worked for me so I just kept selling and kept buying, losing about $150 each time.

I later found out that 35mm was my sweet spot after I picked up the Fujifilm X100T. I really enjoyed taking photographs with this camera, but I wasted almost a year trying to find the perfect focal length, the perfect prime lens, just because someone told me that was what I needed to do to be taken seriously.

Had I used the zoom lens, I would have had a chance to test out all of these focal lengths and probably would have found that out that I preferred 35mm a lot faster. Fast forward to today, I shoot all of my street photographs with zooms. I simply shoot at the wide end (for me that’s 28mm) and I couldn’t be happier.

I went through all of that just to end up where I started. Sometimes you have to feel things out and figure out what works best for you, I think a zoom lens makes this process a lot simpler… Unless you just like wasting money.

Related: Using Zooms as Primes: First Impression of the Fujifilm XF 18-55

Rule #8. Rule of Thirds

People always talk about composition when critiquing street photographs… I get it, composition is important, but let’s not act as if we aren’t photographing complete strangers. I can’t be like “hey, this shot would look cooler if you were a little to the right”. I mean I could, but it probably wouldn’t be as great pf an image.

Let’s face it: when you’re capturing a moment a lot of what is going on is out of your control. You can move the camera around, frame the subject as best as you can, but people need to stop acting like we have unlimited space and opportunity when out shooting.

When people critique your composition they don’t know what else is going on in that picture, maybe there is a building behind you or construction to the right of you. Maybe you only have 6 seconds to get the shot before this person enters a store or pulls their phone out. We’re only in control of one thing and that’s taking the damn image. Your job is to get the shot, and if you can compose it perfectly, great! If you can’t capture what you can and move on.

One of my most liked images is poorly composed. We have an older lady directly in the center of the frame with and in the background is a big Verizon logo that is very distracting… Yet my subject is giving me the middle finger and yeah, no one has ever mentioned how poorly composed it is. If you capture a great moment, the rules don’t seem to matter as much. Again, composition is important, but never sacrifice an image simply because it’s “against the rules”.

Rule #9. Shoot Up Close

This is a rule I live by, there something about photographing a person at a short distance that adds an extra element of excitement for me, but recently I shot with a telephoto lens and I was able to capture some pretty intimate moments. You don’t have to be in someone’s face to take a great photograph and if anyone tells you that, link them to this article.

Rule #10. Portraits Aren’t Street Photography

I take a lot of street portraits and I often document this process. It’s usually me walking up to someone, greeting them and then asking to take their photograph. I get a lot of compliments on the images that I capture, but every now and then someone will comment and tell me that street portraits are not the same thing as street photography.

Now I’m not here to debate that, but I do think this type of documentation is equally as important. Creating street portraits of this generation is necessary, the world is changing fast and it’s important that we capture its current state… People may not seem interesting now, but in 30 years when we live in a VR world, they might. Don’t let others opinions hold you back from doing this type of work. There’s nothing wrong with getting permission to photograph somebody, sometimes it even results in a better photograph.

About the author: Keenan Hastings is a photographer and blogger based in Detroit, Michigan. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his work on his website. This article was also published here.

27 Sep 18:25


416 points, 21 comments.

27 Sep 17:28

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ20 Camera

Merging digital point-and-shoot capabilities with instant camera charm, the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ20 Camera is one of the more interesting shooters in recent memory. Its CMOS sensor captures 1920x1920 shots...

Visit Uncrate for the full post.
27 Sep 17:17

The Anatomy of a Perfect Bar Cart

by Claire Lower on Skillet, shared by Claire Lower to Lifehacker

A bar cart is a deeply personal part of the home, but there are still certain basics you should keep around to make all your favorite classic cocktails. Here we show you the essentials you need to build a functional, adult, properly-stocked cart of booze. Once you have a handle on these elementary building blocks,…


27 Sep 16:27

10 Android Apps for Musicians to Record, Tune, and More

by Andy Betts

If you haven’t been paying attention recently, you might think that iOS’s music-making apps mean it’s the only platform suitable for music creation. But that isn’t true—Android is catching up rapidly in this department.

Whether you’re playing an instrument, singing, or creating electronic music, Android has some fantastic apps that can help. Here’s our pick of 10 essential Android apps for musicians.

1. BandLab

BandLab is the closest substitute Android has to a proper GarageBand alternative. It’s part DAW (digital audio workstation) and part social network where you can share your creations when they’re finished.

With BandLab, you can make your own music. You can sing straight into the app, where the AutoPitch feature will help you stay in tune, or connect your own instruments to record live. There’s a massive range of beats and loops packs to download to enhance your compositions. Or you can make your own through the more than 100 downloadable instruments.

The app is powerful and a whole lot of fun. It’s accessible even to those who have never made music before. If you’re looking for a paid alternative with a more professional edge, take a look at the excellent FL Studio.

Download: BandLab (Free)

2. Backtrackit

If you want to learn how to play the latest songs, or create backing tracks to play or sing along to, Backtrackit is the app for you.

It takes the music on your phone and breaks it down in several ways. It shows you what key a song is in and which chords are played throughout. You can slow down particular sections when you’re trying to master a solo or riff. It can also remove the voice or lead instrument from a track, allowing you to replace it with your own performance.

Backtrackit is great for learning new songs, or even for just spending an evening jamming along with your favorite artists.

Download: Backtrackit (Free)

3. HumOn

HumOn makes it possible to compose an entire piece of music merely by humming it into your phone.

Just sing into your phone, pick a genre (including rock, R&B, and classical) and the app will turn your melody into a complete composition. From there you can play with the mix and arrangement, and record vocals on top. Once done, save your masterpiece as an MP3.

There’s a serious side, too. By tapping the Score button you can see both the musical notation and chords for your tune. You can edit them and add lyrics as well. You’ll need to upgrade to the Pro version to export this as a PDF document. But as an effective way of turning ideas into actual songs, it’s well worth it.

Download: HumOn (Free, premium version available)

4. Pitched Tuner

For most musical instruments, keeping them tuned is a daily job. A manual tuner is good, but a digital one will give you a whole lot more precision.

While most tuning apps in the Play Store are geared towards specific instruments, Pitched Tuner stands out because it works with everything: strings, brass, wind, whatever.

It’s easy to use. Just play a note into your phone and the app measures it, accurate to one hundredth of a semitone. Keep tweaking your tuning until you get it spot-on. There’s also a special Instrument Tuner mode that simplifies the process of tuning stringed instruments.

Download: Pitched Tuner (Free)

5. The Metronome

The Metronome is the best way to keep time while you’re playing. It’s designed in part to work with the Soundbrenner Pulse, a vibrating metronome watch. But you don’t need one of those—the app works just fine on its own.

It’s a great-looking app, with all the features you need. You can select a time signature and dial in your required tempo, or just tap on the screen to set it manually. You’re also able to create more complex rhythm patterns using subdivisions and accents.

The app supports a song library where you can save your configurations, then combine them into a setlist for when you’re performing. You can even set the screen to flash on each beat instead of having to listen for the tones.

Download: The Metronome (Free)

6. Guitar Chords and Tabs

Providing access to an enormous database of guitar tabs for music, Guitar Chords and Tabs guarantees you’ll never be short of something to play.

The app has chords and tabs—a simplified form of musical notation for guitars—for over 800,000 pieces of music. It includes an interactive chord feature showing you the correct fingering when you need it. And if you upgrade to the Pro version, you can unlock the auto-scroll function that keeps your page of tabs moving up the screen as you play.

Each song has a lot of info to cram on screen, so Guitar Chords and Tabs is most useful on a big-screen phone or tablet.

Download: Guitar Chords and Tabs (Free) | Guitar Chords and Tabs Pro ($2.50)

7. Vocaberry

Vocaberry is a bit like Guitar Hero for singers. You get a series of songs of varying levels of difficulty, and you must sing along with them. The app rates your pitch and timing, and scores you as you go.

But despite the gamified approach, Vocal Lessons isn’t a game. It’s a very effective app for learning to sing, or for improving your performance. In addition to the songs, you’ll find a series of vocal exercises that can warm up your voice before you go on stage. It’s packed with tips and guidance, akin to having your own singing teacher.

You can also use the app to measure your vocal range.

Download: Vocaberry (Free, premium version available)

8. smartChord

smartChord is an absolute treasure trove for musicians. It’s mostly aimed at guitarists or those who play other stringed instruments, but there’s so much here that almost anyone will find it useful.

The app offers over 15 tools. You get information on playing chords, arpeggios, and scales. There’s a transposer so you can easily change the key of any piece of music. An ear training game helps you learn the sound of notes and chords. The songbook lets you download music for almost any song you can find online. The playground gives you a virtual guitar to practice on. There’s so much here.

All the basic functions are free, and you can add even more with a paid upgrade.

Download: smartChord (Free, premium version available)

9. Remixlive

You can mix beats, loops, effects, and samples on the fly with Remixlive. The app is easy to get started with, yet surprisingly powerful. You get over 50 sample packs included as standard, and you can buy more as you need them. There’s a built-in sample editor, and support for finger drumming.

When you’re done you can save your work in MP3 or other formats. You can also upload your recordings to SoundCloud, and there’s integration with the desktop music app Ableton Live, too.

Download: Remixlive (Free, premium version available)

10. Hi-Res Audio Recorder

Finally, here’s an app for recording your music. But what makes this one better than all the other audio recorders available for Android? Simple—plug in your headphones and you can monitor your recording as you go. It’s so useful for both music and vocals.

You do need a phone that supports low-latency, like some of the recent Samsung flagship devices. Even if you don’t have one, the app’s ability to record in high quality and export to MP3 make it worth a look.

Download: Hi-Res Audio Recorder (Free, premium version available)

Make Music With Android

Android is growing as a creative platform all the time. Once you move beyond the major music creating apps, you find some very powerful niche tools catering to a more specialist user, including pro-level DAWs like Caustic 3 and Audio Evolution Mobile.

Your next step might be to start brushing up on your musical skills. Check out our guide to the best apps for learning guitar to get yourself started.

Read the full article: 10 Android Apps for Musicians to Record, Tune, and More

27 Sep 16:06

Man Mowed Intricate Geometric Patterns to Win Creative Lawn Stripes Competition

by Alex Santoso

If you're a neighbor of Keith Smith, you'll know that the grass is always greener and intricately maintained in his yard.

Smith, a groundsman at a golf club in Birmingham, England, sure mows a lot of grass. In fact, you can say that he's a bit obsessed with mowing:

A garden wizard has spent 273 hours mowing an amazing geometric pattern into his front lawn - using an antique lawnmower from the 1940s.
Keith Smith, 41, cut his grass three times a DAY for three months throughout the summer - spending 21 hours a week on his unique creation - to be crowned champion at this year's Creative Lawn Stripes Competition.

Photo: @AlletMowers - via Laughing Squid

27 Sep 16:02

The Spin Doctor: How to Rig a Mega Spinning Decoy Spread

by Michael R. Shea
spinning waterfowl duck decoy

Here's how a noted waterfowl guide brings in flocks ducks, geese, and cranes with a spread of spinners

Here's how a noted waterfowl guide brings in flocks ducks, geese, and cranes with a spread of spinners.
27 Sep 16:02

Hunting Marsh Rail Birds on North Carolina's Cape Fear River

by T. Edward Nickens
two hunters in a marsh with a john boat

Rail hunting was once described as the "Sport of Kings" and enjoyed by the likes of Roosevelt and Ruark. While these odd marsh birds are no longer as popular as they once were, they're still insanely fun to hunt

Rail hunting was once described as the "Sport of Kings" and enjoyed by the likes of Roosevelt and Ruark. While these odd marsh birds are no longer as popular as they…
27 Sep 13:16

Roasted Nashville Hot Chicken

Nashville hot chicken is deliciously (and seriously) spicy. This easy take from Amber Wilson retains all the lip-tingling savor of the original with a brick-red cayenne and chili powder paste, cut with a touch of dark brown sugar—but after a quick pan fry to crisp up the skin, the skillet is transferred to the oven so the meat stays perfectly juicy as it finishes cooking through. For the full experience, serve it with white bread and sweet bread-and-butter pickles to help cool your tongue and sop up all the fiery orange juices.

For another twist on the traditional version, try our Baked Nashville Hot Chicken recipe. In either case, follow it up with our Buttermilk-Lemon Chess Pie for an authentically southern dessert that’ll soothe the burn.

And for another of Amber’s southern staples, get her Pan-Fried Trout with Pecans and Brown Butter recipe.

27 Sep 13:16

Chicken and Black-Eyed Pea Chili

A well-stocked pantry ensures you’re never too far away from a filling and delicious meal, like this easy, healthy chicken chili. Canned tomatoes and black-eyed peas are freshened up with chicken, onions, and bell peppers, plus a handful of spices, for a quick chili with one secret ingredient: a few tablespoons of brine from a jar of pickled jalapeño peppers. It doesn’t make it spicy so much as perk everything up with an acidic counterpoint. And then you can pile on as many garnishes as you like, from cheese and avocado to sour cream and scallions. If you’re up for a little extra work, try our Jalapeño Cornbread Muffins recipe on the side.

Note: If you don’t have a jar of pickled jalapeños on hand, use 1 1/2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar in place of the brine.

Make ahead: This chili is great on the first day, but tastes even better if you make it ahead of time and gently reheat when it’s time to serve.

27 Sep 13:15

minimalist barbecue sauce

by deb

Every summer, I promise that I’m going to tell you about this shortcut barbecue sauce I use when I don’t have it in me to bring home 11 bottles and jars plus 2 vegetables for what I consider the ultimate, Queen Ina’s. I love that one, regardless. I make it every year or two and I freeze it in 1-cup packages. Sometimes, like last summer, I completely forget to freeze it and find it in the fridge 8 months later and it’s completely and totally fine to eat? It’s pretty magical like that. But it’s not simple. And most of the time, when it’s just weeknight chicken or tofu skewers on the grill or even as a base for what I call Fake Baked Beans (more on this at the end), three ingredients is all you need, plus up to two more to your tastes. Don’t look askance at me; I bet you already have them all.

Read more »

27 Sep 13:06

Five Megatrends That Will Disrupt Every Industry Over The Next Five Years

by Shailendra Singh, CommunityVoice
To thrive in the competitive market environment, it is crucial not only to predict how these megatrends will affect your industry and business but also to determine how to capitalize on new and emerging opportunities in real time.
26 Sep 16:51

Hear the Last Time the Jimi Hendrix Experience Ever Played Together: The Riotous Denver Pop Festival of 1969

by Josh Jones

You know it’s got to be bad when you quit the Jimi Hendrix Experience just months after the revolutionary, expansive Electric Ladyland hit number one on US and UK charts, but if you’re Noel Redding, you’re plenty fed up with the psychedelic circus. “The recording sessions were ridiculous,” Redding told Rolling Stone in a 1969 interview, “and on stage, it was getting ridiculous.” The last straw for Redding had come a few months earlier at the Denver Pop Festival in June. After tear gas forced the band offstage, fired by police at an unruly crowd, “I went up to Jimi that night,” says the bassist, “said goodbye, and caught the next plane back to London.”

Tensions had been building for months. Hendrix wanted to expand the band, without consulting Redding or Mitch Mitchell. Recording sessions for the double Electric Ladyland had been notoriously riotous. “There were tons of people in the studio,” Redding remembered, “you couldn’t move. It was a party, not a session.” Hendrix's perfectionism had him pushing for 40-50 takes per song. But the problems weren't all under his control. The three-day Denver festival—headlined by Three Dog Night, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Joe Cocker, Frank Zappa, Tim Buckley, Johnny Winter and the Experience—was beset with violence, part of the general devolution of the decade.

Overzealous cops battled gatecrashers who showed up looking for a fight. Tear gas wafted through the air. Iron Butterfly supposedly encouraged fans to bring a fence down. Festival promoter Barry Fey remembers Joe Cocker curled up in the bathroom in a fetal position: “He was scared to death. ‘Is this what America’s all about?’”

But Jimi’s drug use had also taken its toll on his relationships. Fey’s account of his state that night is sad and sobering:

There's a lot of stories, but the worst one is Hendrix…. I had Jimi September 1, 1968 at Red Rocks. We had become such good friends in a year or so. I mean, I just loved him. He was such a great guy. And then nine months later at the Denver Pop Festival, I get to talk to Noel and Mitch, and they said, 'We're not going to play with him anymore, Barry.' I said, 'What are you talking about?' They said, 'We can't stand him. Since you've seen us last, he's discovered heroin, and you can't deal with him.' And then he showed up, and he hardly knew who I was. 

But onstage, Jimi was Jimi, cracking esoteric jokes and shredding with abandon. In the audio at the top, hear the band’s full Denver Pop Festival set, which closed out the chaotic proceedings on Sunday night. Hendrix jokes about the tear gas as the band tunes up, then they launch into Swedish duo Hansson & Karlsson's “Tax Free.”

Jimi plays “The Star-Spangled Banner”—two months before his blistering Woodstock rendition—and the audio cuts out at the end of “Purple Haze,” right before the last song of the night, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” when the police fired off more tear gas and “the wind whipped in the stadium,” writes Ultimate Classic Rock, and “blew the toxic fumes back toward the stage. With their eyes burning and their lungs choked for air, the Experience set down their instruments for the final time and fled for cover.”

See the setlist, minus “Voodoo Child,” below:

  1. Tax Free
  2. Hear My Train A Comin'
  3. Fire
  4. Spanish Castle Magic
  5. Red House
  6. Foxy Lady
  7. Star Spangled Banner
  8. Purple Haze

Related Content:

Watch the Earliest Known Footage of the Jimi Hendrix Experience (February, 1967)

See a Full Jimi Hendrix Experience Concert on Restored Footage Thought Lost for 35 Years

Jimi Hendrix’s Final Interview on September 11, 1970: Listen to the Complete Audio

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Washington, DC. Follow him @jdmagness.

Hear the Last Time the Jimi Hendrix Experience Ever Played Together: The Riotous Denver Pop Festival of 1969 is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

26 Sep 11:55

Is Artificial Intelligence Replacing Jobs In Banking?

by Vishal Marria, Contributor
The banking industry is becoming increasingly invested in the implementation of AI-powered systems across several areas, including customer services and fraud detection. But, should we be concerned that this growing use of technology will reduce the need for actual human workers?
26 Sep 11:53

Has AI Become A Utility Function?

by Frank Palermo, CommunityVoice
If your business is not fundamentally based on AI in the next couple of years, you may no longer be in business.