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Comic for July 01, 2022

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We had 11 questions for 'Stranger Things 4: Volume 2.' Here are the answers.

Mashable - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 19:20
Warning: The following contains major spoilers for Stranger Things 4: Volume 2.

Well, it's finally here. Stranger Things 4: Volume 2 — all 4 hours of it — has arrived on Netflix. And boy, was it a lot. There were tentacles, there were guitar solos, and at the end of the day, there was a body count.

But were there answers? Earlier this week, we outlined 11 questions we absolutely needed Volume 2 to answer, ranging from which characters would die (gulp) to which fan theories were correct. Now, after finishing all of Stranger Things 4, it's safe to say we got answers for most — but not all — our burning questions. Here's what we learned.

SEE ALSO: The escapism of 'Stranger Things' Season 4 just hits different in 2022 1. Is Nancy OK? How did Nancy escape from Vecna's clutches? Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Yes! Nancy (Natalia Dyer) is fine — at least, as fine as she can be after being traumatized by Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) and almost strangled to death by his squelchy, squelchy tentacles. Instead of escaping Vecna's Mind Lair by hearing her favorite song, Nancy is actually released by Vecna himself. Her freedom comes with a price: He gives her a vision of his plans for Hawkins and tells her to pass that message on to Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown).

A more efficient villain may have just killed Nancy as the fourth sacrifice and ended the world right then and there, but Vecna knows we have a 4-hour runtime to kill. So he sends Nancy on her merry way. Honestly, the biggest tragedy of this storyline is not figuring out Nancy's favorite song. Is it Madonna? Bowie? Blondie? The world needs to know!

2. Is Vecna Eleven's father? Vecna, you are not the father. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

No! While Stranger Things 4 never directly denies that Vecna and Eleven are related, as posited by one fan theory, it also never really entertains the question. Plus, a reveal like that would be a perfect bombshell to drop in the finale. Since we don't really hear anything about this theory in these last two episodes, it's safe to say that Vecna is not Eleven's dear old dad. And thank goodness for that. The last thing we need is the Rise of Skywalker-ification of Stranger Things. Sometimes powerful people just aren't related, but their relationships can still be compelling. Case in point: Eleven and Vecna.

3. How will Stranger Things address Will's queerness? Please just let Will be happy. For once. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Very, very subtly. Will (Noah Schnapp) does not explicitly come out in Volume 2, but his romantic feelings for Mike (Finn Wolfhard) have never been clearer. Think about the painting he made for Mike (which he falsely claims Eleven commissioned for him). Think about his assertion that Mike is the "heart" of the party. If that wasn't enough, Will also delivers some pretty heavy-handed lines about how people treat you when they know you're different. At this point, the subtext is basically text.

Other characters seem to be catching on to what fans have been picking up on for a while now. The scene where Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) tells Will he'll always support him because he's his brother feels like an indirect acknowledgment of Will's queerness, and an invitation for him to confide in him should he need to. Until further notice, this question remains on the table for Stranger Things 5.

SEE ALSO: 28 binge-worthy LGBTQ TV shows to watch 4. Do Joyce, Hopper, and Murray escape Russia? So you've escaped prison. What now? Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

They do indeed, but it takes them a very, very long time. Their haphazard escape involves a prison break-out, a helicopter named Katinka, a prison break-in, and a call to the United States Government. After a while though, they're able to make it home. Along the way, Hopper (David Harbour) and Joyce (Winona Ryder) finally act on their feelings for each other, and Murray (Brett Gelman) gets to barbecue a whole bunch of Demogorgons.

5. Does Eleven officially have her powers back? Get 'em Eleven. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Seems like it. The Nina Project did its job, and now Eleven is able to lift heavy objects, blow up helicopters, and enter people's minds. That last ability proves extremely useful in these final two episodes, as she's able to confront Vecna as he hunts Max (Sadie Sink) through her memories. Her long-distance superpowers are a handy workaround to the fact that she and her friends are thousands of miles from Indiana. It's a pretty efficient way to join the California crew and the Hawkins party, although it unfortunately gives characters like Mike, Will, and Jonathan very little to do other than provide support.

But all of that is just scratching the tip of the iceberg, because now Eleven seems to have the power to bring people back from the dead. Max fully dies for a minute after facing Vecna, allowing the fourth gate to open and destroy Hawkins. However, Eleven is having none of it. She brings Max to life, although not back to consciousness. She's still in a coma, but given how Max was such a pivotal player this season, I'm sure we'll see her again soon. Until then, bringing people back to life seems like a pretty neat skill for Eleven to have in her back pocket. Is there anything she can't do?

SEE ALSO: Why the 'Running Up That Hill' scene in 'Stranger Things' is so powerful 6. Why do the Russians have a Demogorgon? Let them fight. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Honestly, it's probably just so Hopper and Joyce's storyline this season could connect in some way to the final act of the California and Hawkins plots. The Russians have a ton of Upside Down monsters, including several that they've experimented on, but we never really learn why beyond "they're the baddies." Having Demogorgons and Demodogs around does allow Hopper and Joyce to fight at least one part of the Upside Down hive mind, proving to be a much-needed help to everyone fighting Vecna head-on. Will we learn more about the Soviet Demorgon program next season? Or has that plot died along with all the Russian prison guards?

7. Why has Vecna returned now? Seriously, what is this guy's deal? Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

We still don't know why Vecna waited seven years after being banished to the Upside Down before starting his murderous rampage. At this point, I'm not sure we ever will. However, it's not like Vecna was twiddling his tentacle-y thumbs for seven years. We find out that he created the Mind Flayer and has been attacking Hawkins since the beginning. Perhaps he was just trying to conserve his energy in those early seasons, and it was only when he realized just how powerful Eleven was that he decided to bring out the big guns: teenage murder.

SEE ALSO: Who is Vecna in 'Stranger Things' and why is the internet talking about them? 8. Is Ms. Kelly the guidance counselor working for Vecna? Sometimes a clock is just a clock. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Absolutely not. Ms. Kelly (Regina Ting Chen) is nowhere to be seen in these last episodes, shutting down the fan theory that she was an ally of Vecna's. But what about her connection to the murder victims? What about her grandfather clock necklace? What about the ticking sounds when Max spoke to her?

The answer to the first question is pretty simple: She's a school counselor, and it's her job to listen to troubled teens. She probably didn't draw a connection between all the victims because she has no way of knowing about Vecna's curse. The clock references like her necklace or the ticking may not be plot-relevant, but they're still tools that help build tension around Vecna. For example, the ticking clock when Max talks to Ms. Kelly after being cursed is a perfect reminder of her time running out — and of the fact that she could see the Creel clock at any moment.

9. Whatever happened to Vickie, Robin's love interest? Good thing this wasn't her only scene this season. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Stranger Things 4: Volume 2 might as well be subtitled Vickie's Return, because she's back! Robin (Maya Hawke) spots her fellow band geek and crush Vickie (Amybeth McNulty) at the War Zone, an army surplus store, with her boyfriend. One Upside Down battle later, Robin and Vickie reunite while volunteering to help Hawkins citizens displaced by the earthquake. Vickie reveals she and her boyfriend have broken up, and she and Robin hit it off right away. Seems like McNulty will be sticking around in a bigger way in Stranger Things 5. Good, that's the star of Anne with an E we're talking about! She deserves this.

SEE ALSO: 'Stranger Things' is almost back, so here's your reminder that Hopper should have stayed dead 10. How is the basketball team's Hellfire Club hunt going? Stay away from her! Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

The basketball team's Satanic Panic-inspired hunt of the Hellfire Club throws a major wrench into our heroes' plan to defeat Vecna. Jason (Mason Dye) and his squad confront Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Erica (Priah Ferguson) at Creel House, resulting in a full-on fistfight. Jason breaks Max's Walkman, and his interference directly leads to her (temporary) death. So thanks for that, boys.

Jason dies when the fourth gate to the Upside Down opens, but his Satanic Panic lives on. In the aftermath of the battle, Hawkins citizens believe that Eddie (Joseph Quinn) and the Hellfire Club caused both the murders and the earthquake. This will surely complicate our heroes' lives moving forward, as Mike, Lucas, and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) were all members of Hellfire.

11. Is Steve Harrington going to die? Bring him home. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Nope, King Steve (Joe Keery), mother of Hawkins, is still alive and kicking! Phew. There were a few moments when I thought he was for sure a goner, like that monologue about his dream family, but he makes it out of the Upside Down in one piece.

Unfortunately, we can't say the same of several other characters this season. Jason gets disintegrated by the Upside Down portal. Sorry about your witch hunt, bro. Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) also dies after trying to escape the Nina Project with Eleven. He continues the proud Stranger Things tradition of characters whose names start with a 'B' dying every season: Barb, Bob, Billy, and now, Brenner. Good riddance to him.

But of course, the death that people will be saddest about (beyond Max's, which only lasted a minute) is Eddie's. The writing was on the wall for him as soon as he claimed he and Dustin weren't heroes. You knew right then and there that'd he'd do something heroic — and pay the price for it. Eddie was clearly this season's breakout character, with his love for Dungeons and Dragons and his sweet friendship with Dustin instantly endearing him to audiences. And who can forget about his rocking guitar solo in the Upside Down? Extremely metal. He'll be missed in Stranger Things 5.

Where do we go from here? What does the future hold? Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Stranger Things 4 ends with a pretty big hint at where Stranger Things 5 will go. Vecna is still alive, and Hawkins is slowly transforming into the Upside Down. Now that the gang's all back together, it's likely that they'll unite to finally take him down, once and for all. The Duffer Brothers have floated the idea of a time jump, so we could be jumping into a very different Hawkins than the one we left. The only thing we know for sure is that Stranger Things 5 will be the show's final outing. So savor this last-ever hiatus between seasons, fans. See you on the other side.

All of Stranger Things 4 is now streaming on Netflix.

Categories: IT General, Technology

Air fryer cheeseburgers are way more delicious than they should be

Mashable - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 18:24

Summertime is here, the Fourth of July is coming up, and that can only mean one thing: We are at peak cookout season.

And when it's peak cookout season, there's one thing I want on my plate: a delicious, juicy burger.

SEE ALSO: You've got to try homemade air fryer French fries. Here's how to make them.

But lots of folks don't have a grill handy, or don't want a cloud of smoke in their small apartment — I live in New York City, I get it — but that doesn't rule out a delicious burger this Independence Day. You can make a pretty dang tasty burger in your air fryer. Yes, really.

Now, is it going to be as good as a burger seared on a rip-roaring charcoal grill? Perhaps not. The flavor added by super-high heat and a real fire is hard to replicate. But a good air fryer burger is better than the garden variety burger you'll get at a gas grill cookout. Here's what you need to know.

  • 1 lb. of ground beef

  • 3 burger buns

  • 3 slices of cheddar cheese

  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce

  • About 1 tsp each of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder

  • A few leaves of romaine lettuce

  • 1 tomato

  • 1 red onion

  • 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise

  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

  1. Place the ground beef in a large mixing bowl. Then season it generously with salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and soy sauce. Mix to combine evenly.

  2. Form the ground beef into three equally sized patties. Press them down so they are at least a touch bigger than the diameter of your buns. The patties will shrink in size as they cook and the goal is to have total bun coverage.

  3. Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss your buns into the air fryer as it preheats to toast the bread.

  4. Once the air fryer is preheated, remove the buns then spray the basket with oil. Add the burgers and air fry for eight minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, slice the romaine lettuce into thin ribbons then dress it with the mayonnaise and red wine vinegar. Slice the tomato and onion into ultra-thin slices and set aside.

  6. When there is one minute on your air fryer, cover burgers with cheese (or not, if you don't want cheese).

  7. When finished cooking, let the burgers rest for a minute. Place the thin onion slices on the bottom buns. Put the lettuce and tomato on the top buns. Place each burger on top of the onion-covered bottom bun, then place the top bun on top of the burger. You can also dress with your favorite condiments, such as ketchup or mustard, and enjoy.

SEE ALSO: Mexican-style street corn recipe is easy to make in the air fryer. And tasty, too. The details

This is a wildly simple recipe. That's the point of an air fryer — it's supposed to make things easy. One thing to keep in mind: Make sure you season the meat well. That is probably the most important step in this recipe. The directions are just rough estimations of how much seasoning to use — I season with my heart. Feel free to swap out garlic or chili powder and add anything you like — onion powder, paprika, cayenne, or any number of seasonings would work, for instance. Just make sure you use enough salt. And I think it helps to boost that salinity with soy sauce or something similar like Worcestershire sauce or Tamari. It ensures there is salty, umami goodness throughout the burger and helps keep it moist.

That's the biggest drawback of which you have to be aware. An air fryer is effectively a small, high-powered convection oven, and cooking a burger in any type of oven runs the risk of drying it out. An ideal burger is seared on the outside but juicy and pink in the middle. This recipe does its best to get that result. Depending on your air fryer, you might need only like six minutes of cook time. If you're able, use a meat thermometer and pull your burgers at your preferred temperature.

Burger toppings! Credit: Mashable

Otherwise, the recipe is straightforward. Toast the buns during the preheat (a favorite trick of mine). Cut, then dress the lettuce. I think this small, extra step adds tons of flavor to the burger. The acid of the red wine vinegar makes each bite a bit sharper, while the mayonnaise adds a little fat to the lean meat. Then cut the tomatoes and onions, add the cheese, and enjoy.

Here's how my final product looked. Not bad for an air fryer right?

Burgers! In the air fryer. Credit: Mashable Not a bad burger. Credit: Mashable

The verdict? It's a good burger. Cooked right, it's juicy and, honestly, probably far better than the burger you get from some hack on the grill at your local cookout. The air fryer gets hot enough and circulates air well enough, that there is something resembling a sear on the burger. The dressed lettuce adds a nice touch and the seasoning in the meat means you get great flavor. If you don't have the time or resources for a charcoal grill, this isn't a bad option for your Fourth of July dinner.

Categories: IT General, Technology

'Good Luck to You, Leo Grande' review: Respect, consent, and boundaries come first

Mashable - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 18:18

"It’s an orgasm, not a Fabergé egg. People have them every day."

Katy Brand's spectacularly sharp script for Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is full of witticisms like this, with every moment fueled by smart discussion of sex, sex work, how important consent and respecting boundaries are to mutual pleasure, and of thinking beyond your own experience.

Directed by Sophie Hyde, this wholly sex-positive film is itself as unpredictable in its subtleties as it is powerful in its exploration of compassion, body image, ageism, and outdated social ideas about pleasure. Emma Thompson is characteristically brilliant as Nancy Stokes, a sexually repressed former teacher with naught but a skerrick of self-confidence, who, two years since her husband died, decides to hire sex worker Leo Grande, played by staggeringly talented newcomer Daryl McCormack. We're not told what immediately preceded this decision, but Thompson brings an anxiously self-interrogating energy to Nancy, who's never really thought about her own pleasure or needs — it’s clear her only sexual relationship was devoid of any value for Nancy's desires. 

McCormack is utterly compelling as the titular Leo Grande, whose self-confidence, compassion, and pride — both in himself and his work — comes through the very first moment he steps through Nancy’s hotel room door. McCormack takes Brand's script and weaves from it a truly charismatic character whose ability to alleviate tension with empathetic finesse is truly exceptional. Leo's emotional intelligence enables him to see that Nancy, full of judgement and inhibition, views herself solely from the outside — a revelation that plays out in several mirror-facing scenes.

SEE ALSO: People are more sexually adventurous right now — and more cautious

Set over four meetings, the film feels more like a play, contained almost entirely to the walls of the hotel room at The Duffield, yet moving through nuanced stages of each character’s development so seamlessly that an hour and 37 minutes doesn't feel it at all.

Credit: Hulu

The film champions mutual pleasure as one of the most important elements of sex, making sure each person's needs are heard, understood, respected, and explored. Nancy has never had an orgasm. Not one. It's something she's never prioritised for herself, nor did her late husband. It's also something she actually doesn’t think possible, which is unsurprising, as her one sexual partner seemingly had no interest in asking Nancy what she enjoyed. Thompson plays through this with expert care, having Nancy act out the typical stages of their passionless sexual interactions like clockwork (fake orgasm included) and laugh off what Mashable features editor and Rough author Rachel Thompson might call "unwanted sex" as an acceptable experience. Nancy describes her sex life as having had "no deviation for 31 years."

As a result, Nancy's fantasies and desires, which rarely extend beyond "getting it over with," are as limited as her own sex education. What's more, her feelings of shame over asking for what she wants are apparent throughout the whole film. In perfectly deadpan delivery from Thompson, Nancy literally makes a list of "attainment goals," or rather, sex positions she’d like to "get through" in a couple of hours, popping on her reading glasses and frankly announcing each one to a bemused Leo. It's in moments like this that Brand's script is exceptionally funny, amplifying an awkward mixture of Nancy's keep-calm-and-carry-on attitude with the discomfort around her own desires.

SEE ALSO: How mutual masturbation can help close the orgasm gap Credit: Hulu

The importance of ongoing consent lies at the core of Leo Grande as a truly intimate, deliberate theme. The film does not miss a beat here, with Leo leading by example by taking physical, verbal, and energetic cues from Nancy, asking for consent for every single intimate action, from simply kissing Nancy on the cheek to dancing to an Alabama Shakes song as a means to shake off Nancy’s inhibitions. Leo's expertise in empathetic mood adjustment is refreshingly comforting to watch — and should serve as a tutorial for the audience, to be honest. Nancy also continually asks for consent for physical connection, however she fails to do this for his personal boundaries. 

It’s here the film makes clear the power of setting boundaries, and the feeling of powerlessness and frustration that comes from having yours disrespected or crossed. Leo communicates his clearly, as does Nancy, however, she crosses his boundaries more than once, persistently coaxing personal information from him and ultimately leaping past one of Leo's most valued parameters: the separation of his professional and personal life, and protection of his identity as a sex worker. This breach of trust leads to a truly spectacular and devastating monologue from McCormack.

Credit: Hulu

As such, Nancy's sexual awakening is not her only journey, as she also opens up to self-love through debates about body image and age with Leo. Nancy's lack of self-confidence and contempt for her body comes from a deep, socially ingrained, patriarchal place — one Thompson expertly peppers throughout her performance, moving toward a wonderful moment of body neutrality for the character.

SEE ALSO: Emma Thompson has a powerful message about body image for young people

However, Nancy is initially steadfast in her views, having quite the tendency to lean toward misogynist rhetoric blaming young women’s attire for sexual harassment and openly spewing a sort of conservative moral panic about sex work to Leo's face. She constantly asks what his family thinks about his work and how he feels about it himself, specifically whether he feels "degraded" by it. Nancy tells Leo she quite literally used to set her students' "essays on the moral issues surrounding sex work, and here I am participating in it."

Without being a PowerPoint presentation advocating the full decriminalisation of sex work, the film fosters ample discussion of the profession, with Leo expertly navigating Nancy's judgmental, pre-conceived notions of the sex industry and the experiences of sex workers. Leo patiently, even playfully, deflects her barrage of insensitive questions with a wry smile, telling her, "There’s nothing crass about getting paid for your work."

In these discussions, which are some of the film’s most important, Leo makes clear to Nancy, more than once, that "You haven’t bought me. You've bought my services. I set a price and you agreed. I'm not being exploited." He doesn't avoid speaking to sex worker safety, but explains how he values his work deeply as a public service that meets people’s emotional and physical needs. "Think how civilised it could be," he says. Here, Thompson allows Nancy to truly listen and address her own bias, but also realistically limits this as, later, Nancy emotionally wounds Leo in a moment of blatant disrespect for his dignity that signals an unambiguous point of no return.

By foregrounding themes of desire and mutual pleasure with that of ongoing consent and acknowledgment of boundaries, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande spotlights the importance of simultaneously respecting yourself and others when it comes to sex. Under Hyde's intimate direction, Thompson and McCormack take Brand's script and work with it to create a truly nuanced and playful exploration of wants, needs, and compassion. Good luck to it.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is now in cinemas and streaming on Hulu.

Categories: IT General, Technology

Best headphones for kids: Comfort, safety, and durability win every time

Mashable - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 18:12

You might think that the main benefit to buying headphones for your children is so that you don't have to hear what they're listening to, but there's actually a more important reason. Your child's ears are super sensitive while they're developing and it's possible to damage them by hearing sounds over 85 decibels. Adult headphones just aren't the best idea for them to use. At least not unless you can convince them to lower the volume, which is pretty unlikely.

Instead, you're best off purchasing a pair of headphones designed specifically for children. They tend to fit better on little heads and all of the best headphones for kids contain a volume limiter so the sound can't get too high. Here's everything you need to know about purchasing headphones for your child.

Should I get wired or wireless headphones for my kid?

Some of that decision is dependent on how much money you want to spend and whether you want to worry about needing to recharge headphones on a regular basis. Many of the headphones listed here have decent battery life, but they are typically more expensive than a wired solution.

However, if your child is particularly young, wired headphones can be a strangling risk, so always supervise them while they're using their headphones, especially if there are younger kiddos in the house.

What's the maximum recommended noise level for children?

Generally, many auditory health organizations recommend that the ideal noise level for a child is about 70 decibels, and then volumes should never exceed 85 decibels. (Anything above 85 decibels is deemed dangerous.) Most adult headphones peak at about 115 decibels, which is why it's important to use a dedicated solution for your child. The limit is a limit too, not a guide, so always aim to play music a little quieter if you can.

Can a child use earphones?

In-ear buds are great for adults, but they're not recommended for children. That's because developing ears are more sensitive to noise damage because their nerve fivers are still growing. Also, due to having smaller external auditory canals, the eardrum is always closer to the sound source, so you don't want that to be exacerbated by earbuds. Ears are too delicate to risk their safety.

How long should my child use the headphones for?

Similar to limiting screen time, it's sensible to restrict your child's use of headphones to a maximum of two hours a day. Any longer than that can damage your child's ears, even if they're using a volume limiter.

Categories: IT General, Technology

The best deals to shop at Walmart this week

Mashable - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 18:08

UPDATE: July 1, 2022, 12:07 p.m. EDT This article has been updated with adjusted prices and additional live deals at Walmart.

These are the best deals at Walmart as of July 1:

Walmart+ Weekend has come and gone, but there are still plenty of deals you can take advantage of at the big box retailer.

No need to waste your precious time scrolling through the site, though. We've rounded up the best Walmart deals for you this week, including on things like 4K TVs, kitchen appliances, robot vacuums, 2-in-1 laptops, and a whole slew of other name-brand gadgets and gizmos.

SEE ALSO: How to sign up for Walmart+ — and why you should TV dealsVacuum dealsKitchen dealsComputer and laptop dealsApple dealsFitness dealsGaming dealsAudio dealsExplore related content:
Categories: IT General, Technology

Remote learning got you down? Here are the best educational sites for kids.

Mashable - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 18:02

We are living in a new age of widespread remote, online learning.

Even before COVID-19 forced the shutdown of schools all over the world, investment in EDtech (education technology) had reached $18.66 billion in 2019 and the market of online education is projected to be $350 billion by 2025.

Today, the internet is becoming a virtual classroom for a growing number of kids as parents are turning to online resources to help plan lessons and look for activities for their housebound kids. Even high schoolers are also looking for additional test prep help from home. But here’s the good news: The quality of online learning platforms has only grown to meet this demand.

Some offer games that teach young children in a fun, engaging way that barely feels like school, while others offer in-depth curriculums in foreign languages for students whose parents only speak one language.

That said, when you’re looking for an online learning platform for your kids, especially little kids, there are a lot of factors to consider to make sure that your child is actually learning something from it. You want them to be engaged with the material and not fight you every time they need to log on. You also don’t want to waste your money on something clunky or dangerous.

What should you look for in choosing a good online learning platform?

The answer, of course, depends a little on the student you’re looking for, but in general, all good online learning platforms should meet the following criteria:

It should not be weighed down in ads.

Free educational apps might sound good, but bear in mind that free platforms often require advertising to keep the app running — and some of that advertisement might not be kid-friendly.

It is especially important to avoid ads if you’re looking for a learning platform for young children because studies of children under the ages of four or five have shown that this age group doesn’t consistently distinguish what an ad is. This greatly diminishes the educational value of the platform.

Ads can also just be cumbersome, crowding the screen or slowing down how quickly the learning platform loads, making for a clunky user experience.

They should be educational.

This might sound obvious, but just because something is labeled as educational doesn’t mean it actually provides the best educational experience. Games should mostly — if not entirely — be focused on teaching.

They should also engage kids so they're actively learning. If the platform allows the child to zone out and just “watch,” chances are they won’t remember as much. But if the platform asks them questions, has them create something, or invites them to actively use their new knowledge — much like a teacher in a classroom — chances are the child will pay more attention and recall more information.

They offer something an off-screen experience can’t.

With the rise of remote learning, this is often the feature that gets set aside, especially with early-learning apps that let kids put puzzles together or trace letters on the screen — two activities they can also do in real life instead of the screen.

The best learning platforms are aware of the dramatic increase in children’s screen time and try to offer something pen and paper or physical games cannot. Some teach children how to code, others offer them access to experts in a foreign language that simply wouldn’t be available closer to home. And others still compete with non-educational games by making learning fun.

Some of the best also spark an interest in off-screen activities. Many of the best will offer ideas for kids to continue their learning offline by grabbing a pen and paper to draw, work out a math equation, foster a love of reading books IRL, or experiment with hands-on-art projects.

They should be safe.

This means that they should not expose kids to strangers who could harm them.

Avoid learning platforms that feature online chat rooms that a stranger could join and use to talk to your child. For young children, you’ll also want to avoid platforms that link out of the app because this can lead them to browsing unsafe or unverified sites.

It is against the law, thanks to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA), for websites to collect personal information from children under thirteen without parental consent. That said, make sure you choose an online platform or tool that follows the law and has the necessary privacy settings.

If you’re not sure if a program is safe for use, you can always check with the Common Sense Media Privacy Program.

Even for older children, learning platforms that allow you to create a username — instead of their whole name — can be a wise choice, especially if there is a public aspect to the platform (i.e. a score ranking).

They should allow you or the child to track their progress.

Some will do this with a parental tracker. Others will offer grades. But monitoring progress is key so that kids can see how they’re improving and know where they need to improve. This can boost their confidence and engagement too.

For young children in particular, you might feel more comfortable with an app that also alerts you to their progress and lets you know of an issue or concern early on. This can help you know what you need to work with them on offline and one-on-one. For example, if you know that your child is behind on reading comprehension, you’ll know that you should make more time to work with them offline and find fun ways to read in the evening or on weekends.

Be careful of educational platforms that emphasize rewards instead of actual learning. You want them to be motivated to learn the actual concept being taught, not just reach the next level.

A clear sign of gamified platforms is if they rely on in-app purchases. Those platforms are steered more towards leveling up and making money than actually teaching your children. (Plus, platforms with in-app purchases can get very expensive quickly — another reason to avoid them.)

They should be clear about what age they’re geared for.

Nothing can hamper a kid’s self-esteem or confidence faster than material that is way too hard. Similarly, material that is too easy can bore children. To make sure that neither of these scenarios occurs, parents should know what ages the content is made for so they can help pick an age-appropriate platform.

For younger children, you’ll also want to prioritize platforms that make learning fun or that offer rewards or achievements for every lesson they complete. That way they’ll feel encouraged and engaged.

Do you really need it?

There’s no need to increase your child’s screen time just because. There are lots of offline activities (think: crafts, books, sports, etc.) to keep a child entertained. So there’s no need to just plunk your child in front of a screen if the platform is teaching them something they can already get elsewhere.

That’s why when you’re picking a platform, consider its true purpose and what it really offers your child. Is it teaching them something new or is just keeping them from being bored?

Here are some of our favorite online learning platforms for kids in 2022 that meet these criteria — but keep reading to get the full list below.

Best overall for early learning

ABC Mouse

With more than 950 lessons in math, reading, science, social studies, and art, ABC Mouse is a great overall learning platform for kids ages two to eight.

Best for honing reading skills

Reading Eggs

Reading Eggs is a great platform that will not only teach kids to read but hone their comprehension skills too.

Best for learning to code


CodaKid makes coding fun and teaches kids a range of different coding languages, not just the most popular ones.

Categories: IT General, Technology

The best VPN deals as of July 1: ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Proton VPN, and more

Mashable - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 17:49

Using a virtual private network (VPN) is one of the best ways to protect your online data and stay anonymous on the web, whether you're trying to stream movies abroad, torrent, bypass geo-restrictions, or just plain browse. Most providers' plans cost anywhere from $2 to $12 per month, though many lure customers in with discounted introductory rates that skyrocket after your initial term. To help you lock in a plan that'll fit your budget in the short and long term, we're compiling a weekly roundup of the best deals on all the VPNs we've personally tested. Below, you can check out our top picks as of July 1.

ExpressVPN — save 49% on a 15-month plan

Read our full review of ExpressVPN.

A reliable server network, a user-friendly app, a strong commitment to data protection, and a headquarters in the privacy-forward British Virgin Islands make ExpressVPN our favorite full-featured VPN on the market. It also happens to be one of the most expensive VPNs out there, which is why we highly recommend taking advantage of the sale it's been running since early June: You can enroll in a 15-month plan at just $6.67/month, which is 49% off its standard $12.95/month rate. (Bonus: Your purchase is covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee and comes with a year's worth of unlimited cloud backups from Backblaze — that's a $7/month value by itself.) You'll switch to an $8.32/month annual plan after the first term is up. Bitcoin is accepted.

Opens in a new tab Credit: ExpressVPN ExpressVPN (15 months) + 1 year of free unlimited cloud backups from Backblaze (opens in a new tab) $6.67/month Get Deal (opens in a new tab) NordVPN — save 67% on a 2-year plan

Read our full review of NordVPN.

Power users shouldn't think twice about signing up for NordVPN, another industry giant based in British Virgin Islands that packs robust security features like double encryption, obfuscated servers, dark web monitoring, malware protection, ad and tracker blockers, and Onion Over VPN, a tool that combines your VPN connection with the Tor network for an extra layer of privacy. All of its subscriptions come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, the cheapest one being its two-year plan: New customers can sign up for an introductory rate of just $3.99/month, or 67% off its usual $11.99/month pricing. (That switches to an $8.29/month annual plan after the term is up.) Bitcoin, Ethereum, and XRP are accepted.

Optional add-ons include:

  • NordPass Premium (password manager) — $0.70/month $2.29/month (save 69%)

  • NordLocker Premium, 1TB (cloud storage) — $1.30/month $5.99/month (save 78%)

Opens in a new tab Credit: NordVPN NordVPN (2 years) (opens in a new tab) $3.99/month Get Deal (opens in a new tab) Proton VPN — save 50% on a two-year Plus plan

Read our full review of ProtonVPN.

The Swiss-based Proton VPN is another great pick for privacy wonks, with open-source apps and critical infrastructure that's stored inside a datacenter requiring biometric access. We recommend its Plus plan, which gets you full access to its server network, streaming service and P2P support, ad/tracker/malware protection, and a Tor over VPN tool that lets you direct traffic through the Tor network with a single click. Monthly subscriptions go for $9.99, but you'll pay just $4.99/month if you commit to two years (with a 30-day money-back guarantee) — that's a 50% savings. Bitcoin is accepted.

Opens in a new tab Credit: Proton VPN Proton VPN Plus (2 years) (opens in a new tab) $4.99/month Get Deal (opens in a new tab) CyberGhost VPN — save 82% on a 39-month plan

Read our full review of CyberGhost VPN.

This Romania-based provider lays claim to the biggest, most globally diverse network we've seen, with special severs optimized for streaming, gaming, and P2P to maintain consistent connections. Sign up for a 39 months of CyberGhost coverage at $2.29/month (or 82% off its standard monthly fee of $12.99), and you'll be able renew at that exact same rate every 36 months thereafter. Like all of CyberGhost's multi-year plans, that's protected by a 45-day money-back guarantee and includes free access to its ID Guard and Privacy Guard tools. Bitcoin is accepted.

Optional add-ons include:

Editor's note: The CyberGhost website features a countdown to a deadline for locking in that three years + three months rate, but we're pretty sure it's just a marketing ploy.

Opens in a new tab Credit: CyberGhost VPN CyberGhost VPN (3 years + 3 months) (opens in a new tab) $2.29/month Get Deal (opens in a new tab) TunnelBear — save 67% on a three-year Unlimited plan

Read our full review of TunnelBear.

Our go-to recommendation for anyone who's never used the technology before, TunnelBear is simple, lightweight VPN with an intuitive (and adorable) interface. Though it's incapable of unblocking streaming sites and based in Canada, a Five Eyes country, it should serve you well if you're just surfing the web. We recommend its Unlimited plan over the free version for unlimited browsing and priority customer service, which goes for just $3.33/month when you enroll for three years — that's 67% off its usual $9.99/month rate and a fixed price that won't increase after your first term. Bitcoin is accepted and refunds are offered on a case-by-case basis.

Opens in a new tab Credit: TunnelBear TunnelBear Unlimited (3 years) (opens in a new tab) $3.33/month Get Deal (opens in a new tab) Private Internet Access (PIA) — save 83% on a 39-month plan

Read our full review of PIA.

It's nothing particularly special (and its U.S. headquarters location isn't ideal), but for users in search of a basic VPN with open-source apps, built-in ad blocking, and a free email breach monitor, PIA is worth a look. Take advantage of its Fourth of July sale to score 39 months of coverage for only $2.03/month — that shaves 83% off its regular rate of $11.95/month and includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. (You may need to open its website in an incognito window to see this pricing, FYI.) Your plan will continue at the same rate after that first term is up, which earns it some extra brownie points. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin are accepted.

Optional add-ons include:

Opens in a new tab Credit: Private Internet Access Private Internet Access (3 years + 3 months) (opens in a new tab) $2.03/month Get Deal (opens in a new tab) IPVanish — save 64% on a one-year plan

Read our full review of IPVanish.

Another middle-of-the-road pick with a U.S. headquarters (boo), IPVanish makes up for a lack of advanced security features with a minimalist, straightforward app and support for unlimited simultaneous connections. You can get your first term of its annual plan for just $3.99/month (or 64% off its standard monthly rate of $10.99), which comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and free antivirus protection from VIPRE. After that first year is up, you'll get bumped to $7.50/month. Bitcoin is not accepted.

Editor’s Note: IPVanish and VIPRE are owned by Ziff Davis, Mashable’s publisher. Any Ziff Davis products featured on Mashable are covered independently by our editorial team.

Opens in a new tab Credit: IPVanish IPVanish (1 year) (opens in a new tab) $3.99/month Get Deal (opens in a new tab) PureVPN — save 82% on a 27-month plan

Read our full review of PureVPN.

We don't have a ton of nice things to say about PureVPN — our review turned up slow download speeds, buggy apps, iffy Netflix support, and a questionable privacy policy — but hey, it's cheap! Enroll in a 27-month plan and you'll pay only $1.99/month, which is an 82% discount on its normal monthly rate of $10.95. (Don't be afraid to take advantage of its 31-day money-back guarantee if necessary.) You'll switch to a $4.50/month yearly plan at the end of that initial term. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin are accepted.

Optional add-ons include:

Opens in a new tab Credit: PureVPN PureVPN (27 months) (opens in a new tab) $1.99/month Get Deal (opens in a new tab)
Categories: IT General, Technology

Save big on Fire TVs ahead of Prime Day, plus more TV deals as of June 29

Mashable - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 17:29

UPDATE: Jun. 29, 2022, 11:45 a.m. EDT This story has been updated with the latest 4K and 8K TV deals.

Large 4K TVs no longer have to cost an exorbitant amount of money. These high-quality TVs featuring punchy colors, decipherable shadows, and smooth transitions are actually affordable for regular consumers. And to make them even more budget-friendly, we've gathered up the best deals on 4K and QLED TVs from top brands like Samsung, LG, Sony, and more.

Samsung TV deals Opens in a new tab Credit: Samsung Our pick: Samsung 85-inch QN90A Neo QLED TV (opens in a new tab) $2,599.99 at Samsung (save $2,400) Get Deal (opens in a new tab) Why we love it

A massive TV that was once $5,000 is barely over $2,500 for a limited time. The "Neo" part represents an upgrade to Samsung's QLED technology, which is made up of thousands of sand-sized LED particles that light themselves. Now, the bright and colorful quantum dot display is even more vivid with even more precise brightness.

More Samsung TVs on saleLG TV deals Opens in a new tab Credit: LG Our pick: LG 70-inch NanoCell 75 Series 4K TV (opens in a new tab) $699.99 at Best Buy (save $200) Get Deal (opens in a new tab) Why we love it

In 2021, LG dropped a mid-range line of 4K TVs featuring its NanoCell technology, which amps up color depth using an extra light filter. In 2022, that line is becoming more affordable.

More LG TVs on saleSony TV deals Opens in a new tab Credit: Sony Our pick: Sony 55-inch A80J OLED TV (opens in a new tab) $1,299.99 at Best Buy (save $400) Get Deal (opens in a new tab) Why we love it

One of Sony's high-end OLED TVs from 2021 is seeing a considerable price drop — probably because the 2022 lineup entered the chat. This isn't your average OLED, either: Instead of relying on AI to optimize brightness, the Cognitive Processor XR chip customizes adjustments to things like skin tone or background light, depending on the angle from which a scene is filmed.

More Sony TVs on saleOther TV deals from TCL, Vizio, and more Opens in a new tab Credit: Amazon Our pick: Amazon 55-inch Omni Series 4K TV (opens in a new tab) $299.99 at Amazon (save $260) Get Deal (opens in a new tab) Why we love it

After years of exclusively outsourcing the Fire TV platform to brands like Insignia and Toshiba, Amazon finally debuted its very own smart TV in fall 2021. The beloved Omni series is well-reviewed for crisp performance and ease of use.

More TVs from TCL, Vizio, and more
Categories: IT General, Technology

The best Apple deals as of June 28: iPad, MacBook, Apple Watch, and more

Mashable - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 17:23

UPDATE: Jun. 28, 2022, 3:25 p.m. EDT We've updated this post with the best deals from across the Apple universe ahead of Prime Day.

  • BEST MAC DEAL: The 16-inch MacBook Pro (M1 Pro, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) is a powerhouse laptop built for creatives — $2,299 $2,499 at Amazon (save $200)

  • BEST IPAD DEAL: The 2020 iPad Air (WiFi, 64GB) is a high-functioning tablet that doesn't show its age — $469 $599 at Walmart (save $130)

  • BEST IPHONE DEAL: The iPhone 13 Mini (64GB) at Verizon is a mini phone with plenty of storage space and a battery life worth bragging about — $0 with an eligible trade-in select unlimited plan $699.99 (save up to $700)

  • BEST APPLE WATCH DEAL: The Apple Watch Series 7 (41mm, GPS) gives you the best bang for your buck— $329 $399 at Amazon (save $70)

  • BEST ACCESSORIES DEAL: The AirPods Max might just be some of the most stylish over-the-ear headphones out there, and they're back at their lowest price ever— $429.99 $549 at Amazon (save $119.01)

You could really kill some time trying to dissect the iron grasp Apple has on the general population, but when it comes down to it, its products look good, work well, and stay cutting-edge — of course people like them. Whether your favorite day of the year is its annual September reveal event or you just want a solid computer no matter the brand, Apple's got you covered. Sure, it is a little notorious for its higher prices, but we've rounded up the best deals on iPads, AirPods, and more to help you out. Check them out below.

Mac and MacBook deals Opens in a new tab Credit: Apple Our pick: 2021 MacBook Pro (M1 Pro, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) (opens in a new tab) $2,299 at Amazon and Best Buy (save $200) Get Deal (opens in a new tab) Why we like it

Check out Mashable's official review of the 2021 MacBook Pro.

This is not an everyday laptop, so it doesn't come at an everyday price. But for people who want to multitask while editing photos or videos, room-filling speakers, a battery life that's built to last, and the workflow that only a 16-inch Liquid Retina XDR display can provide, the latest MacBook Pro is the way to go. As of the time of writing, it's on sale at both Amazon and Best Buy and only $50 shy of the lowest price we've ever seen it.

More Mac and MacBook deals

2021 MacBook Pro

2020 MacBook Pro, 13-inch

2020 MacBook Air, 13-inch

More Macs

Refurbished Macs and MacBooks

iPad deals Opens in a new tab Credit: Apple Our pick: 2020 iPad Air (WiFi, 64GB) (opens in a new tab) $469 at Walmart (save $130) Get Deal (opens in a new tab) Why we like it

Though it's not quite the $200 markdown we saw on this iPad a couple of weeks ago, the sale on this 2020 iPad Air is still worth your attention. No, it doesn't have the M1 chip of its newer counterpart, but its A14 Bionic chip can still handle photo editing and games without a problem. Plus with the new iPadOS 16 update, we doubt you'll be able to tell this iPad is two years old.

More iPad deals


iPad Mini

iPad Air

iPad Pro

iPhone deals Opens in a new tab Credit: Apple Our pick: iPhone 13 Mini at Verizon (opens in a new tab) $0 with an eligible trade-in on a select unlimited plan (save $700) Get Deal (opens in a new tab) Why we like it

Check out Mashable's official review of the iPhone 13 Mini.

Like most phone deals on this list, having a decent trade-in is essential to scoring the most bang for your buck. So why the iPhone 13 Mini? Well, you likely won't need a brand new phone to get the price tag as close to $0 as possible, you're not trading-in for an outdated model, and you get at least 128GB of storage, nice battery life, and cinematic mode without the huge price tag. You can also grab this deal at AT&T.

More iPhone dealsApple Watch deals Opens in a new tab Credit: Apple Our pick: Apple Watch Series 7 (41mm, GPS) (opens in a new tab) $329 at Amazon (save $70) Get Deal (opens in a new tab) Why we like it

Is it the most exciting Apple Watch deal we've ever seen? No, but it's always nice when the latest Apple Watch, with its blood oxygen and ECG sensors, support of bike workouts, and ample screen space takes a $70 price cut. (It often sits at only $50 or even $30 off.)

More Apple Watch deals

Series 7


Series 3


Apple accessories deals Opens in a new tab Credit: Apple Our pick: AirPods Max (opens in a new tab) $429.99 at Amazon (save $119.01) Get Deal (opens in a new tab) Why we like it

Check out Mashable's official review of the AirPods Max.

Are the only over-the-ear AirPods ridiculously expensive? Yes. But do they offer excellent audio quality and good battery life in a stylish package? Also yes. And they're back down to their Black Friday price, which happens to be their all-time low price, in every color but pink and green.

More Apple accessories dealsExplore related content:
Categories: IT General, Technology

Throw all the summer BBQs with this Weber grill on sale ahead of Prime Day

Mashable - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 17:04

SAVE $90: As of July 1, the Weber Spirit II grill is $90 off as an early Prime Day deal. Get one for just $549 while the discount lasts.

It's summer, and you know what that means: Horribly oppressive heat waves and astronomical electricity bills from having to constantly run your air conditioner at full blast. Also, barbecues!

If you plan on throwing the next BBQ at your place while the weather is still prime, you're going to need a decent grill. The Weber Spirit II is more than decent, and it's $90 off ahead of Prime Day, bringing the price down to $549.

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

You really get what you pay for with the Weber Spirit II (a lot). For starters, it comes with a 10-year warranty that covers no-charge part replacement. You'll also get a set of durable, porcelain-enameled cast iron cooking grates, a built-in grease management system, a folding side table with utensil hooks, and Weber's patented Flavorizer™ bars (what a name!).

Get ready to be the BBQ host for at least the next 10 years — pick up a Weber Spirit II at Amazon and save $90 ahead of Prime Day.

Opens in a new tab Credit: Weber Weber Spirit II grill (opens in a new tab) Save $90 at Amazon Get Deal (opens in a new tab)
Categories: IT General, Technology

Save 36% on a SodaStream One Touch — and save [redacted] on canned seltzer in the process

Mashable - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 16:48

SAVE $46: Sparkling water lovers can make their own at home with the SodaStream One Touch sparkling water maker. It's on sale for just $83.99 at Walmart as of July 1 — that's 36% in savings.

With a SodaStream, all your fizzy drink dreams can come true at the touch of a button. Plus, you can stop buying so much LaCroix.

Start making your own sparkling beverages at home by picking up the SodaStream One Touch on sale for $83.99 at Walmart. That's $46 in savings on its suggested retail price of $129.99.

While SodaStream makes quite a few models (two of which made our best soda makers list), the One Touch is the only electric machine among them. Just snap on the carbonating bottle, choose from three levels of preset bubbliness, and let it do its thing.

Like all of SodaStream's machines, the One Touch can slip seamlessly into any kitchen or office with its slim, space-saving design. It comes in both black and white, but the 36% discount only applies to the black model. (The white machine is 16% off.)

It comes with a 60L CO2 cylinder to get you started, as well as the BPA-free carbonating bottle that instantly snaps onto the machine for easy carbonation. If you want flavor drops, you'll have to purchase them separately.

Opens in a new tab Credit: SodaStream SodaStream One Touch (opens in a new tab) $83.99 at Walmart (save $46) Get Deal (opens in a new tab)
Categories: IT General, Technology

Prime members can score a refurbished Kindle for $40

Mashable - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 16:38

SAVE $50: Amazon has a certified refurbished 10th-generation Kindle on sale for only $39.99 as of July 1. (Note that the deal is only open to Prime members.) That's 56% off the new version's $89.99 MSRP.

Woot will probably have the top refurbished Kindle deal of the 2022 Prime Day season — $28 is basically the price of a new hardcover book these days — but don't count Amazon out just yet.

As of July 1, anyone with a Prime membership could scoop up a certified refurbished 10th-generation Kindle for $39.99. It's been tested to look and work like new, and it includes the same limited warranty as a fresh-out-the-box device, so the only difference you'll notice is the price. (Brand new ones typically cost $50 more.)

A 2019 release, this particular e-reader has a claim to fame as the first sub-$100 Kindle with an adjustable front light that makes it easily readable outside and in the dark. Other highlights include a 167 ppi glare-free display, 8GB of storage for your ebook library, Audible support for audiobook listening, easy Bluetooth pairing with headphones and speakers, a battery that can last up to four weeks per charge, and a 6-inch frame that's light enough to hold in one hand for hours on end.

Former Mashable tech reporter Ray Wong docked it a few points in his review for lacking water resistance and having a lower resolution than other Kindles from its era (see: the 2017 Kindle Oasis and the 2018 Kindle Paperwhite), but it's a solid choice if you just need a basic e-reader — especially for just $40.

Opens in a new tab Credit: Amazon Refurbished Kindle (2019, 10th generation) (opens in a new tab) $39.99 on Amazon (save $50) Get Deal (opens in a new tab)
Categories: IT General, Technology

Prime members can snag a refurbished Echo at a very good discount

Mashable - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 16:26

SAVE $37: Want to turn your home into a smart home? As of July 1, Amazon Prime members can save $37 on a certified refurbished fourth-generation Echo. Grab one for just $52.99 — a 41% savings.

Budget and eco-conscious shoppers, this certified refurbished Echo deal is worth checking out ahead of Prime Day.

This recent price drop on the certified refurbished Echo brings it to the lowest price we've seen to date. It also beats the lowest historical price for a new Echo ($59.99), which we haven't seen since around Black Friday last year. By opting for refurbished, you're saving money and taking otherwise functional Echos out of the waste stream — it's a total win-win.

SEE ALSO: Should you get an Echo or Echo Dot? We compare the two.

Note that if you're not an Amazon Prime member, you can still grab the refurbished Echo on sale, but the non-member sale price is $62.99.

The fourth-generation Echo is the best smart speaker for answering questions, playing music, and controlling other smart home devices. It's a definite upgrade from the previous Echo generation, offering better sound quality thanks to its rounded shape and updated speaker system.

Of course, the Echo 4th gen is also Alexa-enabled, giving you hands-free access to your favorite music streaming, podcasts, news, and more.

Amazon's certified refurbished program ensures you'll get a device that works like new, for a fraction of the price. Each product is refurbished and tested before selling. Plus, it comes with the same warranty terms as a brand new Echo.

Opens in a new tab Credit: Amazon Certified refurbished Echo (4th gen) (opens in a new tab) $52.99 at Amazon (Prime members save $37) Get Deal (opens in a new tab)
Categories: IT General, Technology

How to support reproductive rights in the U.S. from outside the U.S.

Mashable - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 15:21

Following the reversal of Roe v. Wade, abortion is now restricted or downright illegal in several states in America.

The devastating ruling is already having a severe impact on women and trans and non-binary people who can become pregnant across the U.S., with more consequences expected to follow. Legal and human rights organisations have declared the ruling a public health emergency and "a grim milestone in the history of the United States". In a long history of history of reproductive justice, this loss of bodily autonomy has resulted in protests and outrage across the country.

Many living outside of America have watched, too, in horror as the Supreme Court's decision was announced.

Across the world, abortion rights differ. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), 24 countries worldwide have prohibited abortion altogether, affecting the lives of 90 million women. 41 percent of women of reproductive age live in countries where abortion laws are restrictive. In these circumstances, abortions are only carried out to save a person's life.

Meanwhile, 23 percent of women live in countries that allow abortion "on broad social or economic grounds"; 36 percent reside in countries where abortion is available upon request. The latter category includes France, Spain, Canada, Australia, Argentina, and Colombia.

The CRR says that "monumental gains" have been made globally when it comes to abortion rights over the past few decades. Nearly 50 countries have liberalised their abortion laws over this time.

SEE ALSO: What does Roe v. Wade being overturned mean to you?

In the States, the human right to an abortion is no longer protected by the constitution, taking away from years of progress and movement. The British Medicine Journal (BMJ) has released a report outlining a grim reality: that "while the impact of overturning Roe will be most acutely felt in the U.S., its repercussions will be felt globally." Roe v. Wade has been instrumental for other countries, too, as the study points out, and its reversal can have a rippling affect on public health issues worldwide.

As reproductive rights in the country — and possibly worldwide — are placed in serious peril, many residing outside the U.S. have come together in solidarity. Protests against the ruling, for example, have taken placed in the UK and Australia.

But there may also be a sense of wanting to do more, for those staring at the wall and feeling some hopelessness for those affected in America. Here's an ongoing guide about how to help, and ways to support reproductive rights both globally and at home.

Educate yourself on what's just happened

There's a lot of information out there on Roe v. Wade and the ruling that just took place. Educating yourself and reading about the decision is a solid starting point if you're looking to help.

Mashable has a slew of resources about the Supreme Court overturn. Our reporters have explained how the ruling has come to be and how it will change lives.

There's also an explainer on how privacy will potentially be eroded now that Roe v. Wade has fallen. There's analysis on the impact this decision will have on mental health. There's a compilation of interactive maps which clearly demonstrate how abortion rights will be affected by state, which crisis pregnancy centres try to prevent women from getting abortions, and more.

Donate to abortion funds and reproductive networks

If you are financially able to do so, donating to abortion funds and reproductive networks is a route to making a difference. Mashable's Chase DiBenedetto has put together a list of local organisations, Black and POC-led groups, and support networks. An example is the Black feminist leadership fund, which is split among 10 different Black-led reproductive justice organisations.

"Reproductive justice activists have long been preparing for the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade," DiBenedetto writes.

"The Post-Roe Handbook, published as a book in 2019 by reporter and abortion activist Robin Marty, shares a multitude of digital resources, including activism guides, sample legislation, and a list of practical support organizations — a broad term referring to reproductive health networks that provide a wide array of services to people on the ground. The National Network of Abortion Access Funds also has a guide to finding support networks in your area."

Online, there are documents and resources that list funds and networks worth referring to, such as the one below created by reproductive rights campaigner @helmsinki:

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

There are also options per American state and region. In the West and Pacific Northwest, you can donate to Northwest Abortion Access Fund (NWAAF) or Access Reproductive Justice. In the South, you can donate to Fund Texas Choice, Yellowhammer Fund, or Access Reproductive Care Southeast (ARC Southeast). In the in the East, organisations like DC Abortion Fund and Abortion Liberation Fund Pennsylvania are further options. For the full list, refer here.

Follow reproductive justice accounts and resources

Supporting reproductive justice accounts is a tangible way to support the efforts of the many people galvanising to protect human rights. This is a great list of some such organisations, which includes the nationally recognised Planned Parenthood Action, the Abortion Care Network, Indigenous Women Rising, Sister Song, and URGE.

Resources like the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organisation committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights, are invaluable, too. There's a wealth of information, research and advocacy to be found on such platforms.

Stay up to date on reproductive justice conversations. Credit: Vicky Leta / Mashable Find – or organise – a protest in your country

There are many protests planned in the U.S. but if you're looking to do so outside the country, there are ways.

Looking up hashtags and events on social media, for instance, is an option. Platforms like Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter are often good starting points for finding protests, which can be done by searching #roevwade or relevant phrases (beware, some can commandeer hashtags like this for harmful messaging online, so tread carefully).

Checking events by your location on Eventbrite, for instance, is also effective.

Protest tonight at American Embassy in london re roe v wade

— Andy Hollidge (@AndyHollidge3) June 24, 2022 Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab)

If you can't find a relevant protest in your location, organising one is an option. The Activist Handbook explains how to do so, starting with building a team of organisers ("like-minded friends and community members") and defining your strategy together. Deciding your goal and who you want to reach is crucial. Afterwards, you can get the word out — via social media promotions, event pages, and word-of-mouth. The most important thing is to protest safely and legally, ensuring everyone's wellbeing is prioritised.

Get involved with local organisations and reproductive justice networks

Working with organisations and reproductive justice networks at home is a powerful way to uplift reproductive rights and organise both domestic and global efforts.

In the UK, MSI Reproductive Choices and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) have supported reproductive help for decades. BPAS, for instance, encourages people to get involved, by volunteering, donating, and reading their resources. In a statement following the Supreme Court's decision, the organisation said they "are preparing for an escalation in anti-choice protests" outside their clinics, and "anticipating assaults on [UK] abortion law in parliament". These words perfectly illustrate why supporting abortion rights locally is just as crucial at this time.

In Australia, there are online groups like Reproductive Justice Australia, and organisations like MSI Australia and the Human Rights Law Centre.

There is also IPPF European Network, which is one of the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s six regional networks. They work globally, with offices in Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Delhi, Nairobi, Brussels, and more.

Elsewhere in Asia, the CRR launched the South Asia Reproductive Justice and Accountability Initiative (SARJAI), who work in the region to advance and protect reproductive rights. This includes a coalition of organisations, across India, Bangladesh, Nepal and more. Similarly, the Asia Pacific Alliance, is a network of national, regional and global organisations advocating for sexual and reproductive health and rights across the region.

Mindfully share resources on social media

Sharing on social media can be empowering and educational, when done mindfully. Using your personal networks to spread awareness can be impactful, particularly when centring the information and resources from networks (like the many above) and from others who are advocating for reproductive justice. Make sure you ask yourself why you're posting, contextualise your post, and be open to considering responses.

Categories: IT General, Technology

NASA's new innovation could help get humans to Mars by 2040

Mashable - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 15:15

Engineers have developed an inflatable heat shield called a Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator, or HIAD, the technology could help NASA land astronauts and massive cargo loads on the Red Planet in the late 2030s. Now a team at the space agency's Langley Research Center in Virginia is ready to test its mettle in space.

Categories: IT General, Technology
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