Mashable

The best TV deals ahead of the big game

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 20:50:48 +0000
Samsung QLED TV sitting in living room

UPDATE: Feb. 2, 2023, 3:45 p.m. EST This story has been updated with the latest 4K and 8K TV deals. Check out our favorites below:

  • BEST 55-INCH TV DEAL: The Hisense 55-inch U6GR ULED 4K TV offers the vibrancy of mini LEDs and impressive black uniformity at a super digestible price point — $369.99 $599.99 (save $230)

  • BEST 65-INCH TV DEAL: The Samsung 65-inch QN800B 8K QLED TV is Samsung's more affordable 8K offering and is great for watching sports in bright rooms — $2,599.99 $3,499.99 (save $900)

  • BEST 75-INCH TV DEAL: The LG 75-inch 83 Series QNED TV combines mini LED backlighting and NanoCell tech for juicy color and more precise contrast — $1,499.99 $2,499.99 (save $1,000)


Upgrading to a 4K TV — even a QLED or OLED — no longer has to be an intimidating financial setback. High-quality TVs featuring punchy colors, decipherable shadows, and smooth transitions have become increasingly affordable for regular consumers, made even more budget-friendly by frequent sales from retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, and Amazon. Here are our top picks, just in time for watching the biggest game of the football season.

TV deals are categorized by brand, then listed in order of size (smallest to largest) and price (lowest to highest).

Samsung TV deals

Why we love it

Get immersed in the big game on a supersized Samsung QLED, now $200 below its price from Cyber Monday. The 2021 Q70A Series isn't Samsung's cheapest or most expensive QLED, but it checks all the right boxes for watching sports and gaming: direct backlighting with local dimming, crisp HDR, and bright quantum dot color even in sunlit rooms.

More Samsung TVs on sale

LG TV deals

Why we love it

One $1,000 discount still sticking around from Best Buy's holiday sale brings a massive LG QNED TV below $1,500. QNED is a mashup of LG's NanoCell technology and quantum dots (which amp up color depth using an extra light filter of nanoparticles) and the backlighting of mini LEDs (for more precise contrast through extra dimming zones, which will be helpful for keeping track of the football).

More LG TVs on sale

Sony TV deals

Why we love it

Sony debuted a handful of groundbreaking products at CES 2023. TVs weren't one of them. But the absence of a new line isn't stopping retailers from following the unspoken January rule of heavily discounting last year's models. Arguably one of the internet's favorite TVs right now, the A95K provides a dynamic watching experience through the Bravia QD-OLED panel, which combines the precise viewing angles of OLED and the color-boosting quantum dot layer of QLED.

More Sony TVs on sale

Other TV deals from TCL, Vizio, and more

Why we love it

Hisense's ULED line is an unexpectedly intimidating competitor to Samsung's QLED TVs and LG's mini LED TVs — especially with this price tag. The U6GR ranks below the super-popular U8H, but is still a really solid choice for most streaming and gaming. Its black uniformity is great for dark rooms, its peak brightness and reflection handling make small details legible in bright rooms, and colors are vibrant thanks to local dimming.

More TVs from TCL, Vizio, and more on sale

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The Clippy of AI: Why the Google Bard vs. Microsoft Bing war will flame out

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 20:08:01 +0000
Microsoft's CEO standing in front of a crowd of journalists, casting a shadow

Imagine your company just hired some hot new talent, a rising star in the executive suite so alluring that a rival firm just hired a lookalike. The buzz around them is intoxicating. Everyone seems to agree, from the CEO to the shareholders, this person is the future of the entire business.

Then you learn the executive has what is politely termed a "hallucination problem." Every time they open their mouth, there's a 15 to 20 percent chance they might just make stuff up. A professor at Princeton calls the guy a bullshit generator. They literally cannot tell truth from fiction. They're going on stage to unveil a new product in five minutes. Do you still push them into the spotlight?

For Microsoft and Google this week, the answer was yes. Fired up by the success of OpenAI's ChatGPT, the Artificial Intelligence chatbot with 100 million monthly active users two months after its launch, Microsoft held a last-minute-surprise event to announce OpenAI would bring ChatGPT-style search to the Bing search engine and Edge browser. Google announced an AI search tool of its own, Bard, the day before, and unveiled it at an event in Paris the day after — but ran into a hallucination problem of its own.

"A new race starts today," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told reporters who'd been summoned to the Redmond, Wash. campus Tuesday. Yes, isn't it pretty to think so? Microsoft, the perpetually uncool kid on the tech block, would love you to think that Bing — sorry, "the New Bing" — is in a race with Google search on anything.

Google's pre-response announcing Bard dripped with condescension: "We re-oriented the company around AI six years ago," wrote Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Google and the 'hallucination problem'

Which is a telling point. Google, the world leader in search, has had years to incorporate AI, and still its ChatGPT rival, Bard, is barely at the beta stage with a tiny group of testers. For all Pichai's hipster affectation, the Bard unveiling had an unplanned messiness to it. Google seems to have been caught flat-footed by all the ChatGPT buzz too.

How else to explain the embarrassing Bard mistake on full display at launch — not at the event itself, where some demo flubs are expected, but in a pre-made GIF? A user is shown asking Bard for facts he can tell his 9 year old about the James Webb Space Telescope.

One of those "facts", that the JWST took the first ever picture of an exoplanet, is untrue. Bard was hallucinating. (UPDATE: While a Financial Times reporter claims Bard's words were technically accurate, that requires a reading of the language that no human would ever employ — which is yet another problem with AI search.)

No wonder parent company Alphabet lost as much as 8 percent of its share price the day of the Bard launch. Google put the main problem with AI search front and center, and furthermore suggested that the company can't use its vast storehouse of data to fact-check itself.

Google should know better, given that it already had a "hallucination problem" with its featured snippets at the top of search results back in 2017. The snippets algorithm seemed to particularly enjoy telling lies about U.S. presidents. Again, what could go wrong?

In other words, launch your AI search tool too early and you're at risk of playing yourself. Microsoft got lucky, in the sense that no obvious errors were on display at its launch event. But if ChatGPT-based search weren't riddled with mistakes, why is it at such a tentative beta stage? Side note: If you're interested in doing unpaid AI QA for Bing, there's a sign-up sheet.

"There's still more to do there," Sarah Bird, Microsoft's Head of Responsible AI (a telling title!) said in response to a question from Wired about ChatGPT's hallucination problem. Yeah, no kidding: the 15 percent hallucination number came from a company that is in its own race to build a ChatGPT fact-checker. (UPDATE: a New York Times columnist's breathless report on New Bing revealed that it couldn't even get basic math right, or even a list of local kid-friendly activities.)

Bird added that previous versions of the software could help users plan a school shooting, but that this functionality had been disabled. Good to know! What could possibly go wrong next? Surely there is no other unintended consequence lurking in this hallucinatory beta search product that could embarrass a large and legally vulnerable tech giant.

Clippy. Zune. New Bing.

Microsoft knows from embarrassment, of course: It's the company that gave us one of the biggest misfires in software history, Clippy. The paperclip assistant was famous for dispensing unwanted advice. ChatGPT isn't Clippy, in the sense that we're coming to it with questions.

But the fact that it often hallucinates its responses — or, more often than you'd think, gives users a mundane variation on "I can't answer that" — could make ChatGPT-enabled Bing a kind of Clippy on LSD. If enough casual users of the "New Bing" get garbled results, then that's what it will be remembered for.

Doesn't matter if a product improves later on; the initial popular response is what can turn it into a punchline. Microsoft should know that, too; it gave us the Zune. Rolling out a ChatGPT product before its truly ready for primetime is no different.

"The New Bing" is already kind of asking to be a punchline, honestly. Or are you really ready to ditch Google search and your Chrome browser for Bing and Edge, should the latter win the AI search race, whatever "winning" really means here? Didn't think so. Tech inertia is profoundly underrated as a force.

ChatGPT is impressive in some circumstances — real estate agents in particular are loving it for listings-writing — and invokes fear in others. But every story about its disruptions seems somehow lesser, once you dig below the headline. It's going to lead to a wave of student plagiarism! Except it can also tell you when a paper has been written by ChatGPT, neutralizing its own threat. It passed a law school exam! Except it actually just scraped by with a C-plus.

Here's the thing: building the digital equivalent of a human brain, known in AI circles as "general AI", is really hard going. We've barely begun to arrive at the insect intelligence stage, another long-held AI goal. Will you really trust ChatGPT to deliver your search results, rather than, y'know, clicking on links yourself?

The answer could well depend on how much you yourself, dear reader, are having a hallucination problem.

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Google held a chaotic event just as it was being overshadowed by Bing and ChatGPT

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 20:03:11 +0000
Google event featuring new generative AI technology Bard

Can you get secondhand embarrassment for an entire company? Because that's what watching Google's Live From Paris event felt like.

On the heels of Microsoft's exciting news about the new AI-powered Bing, Google's Bard AI technology was reported to be inaccurate and faced event blunders. It's an uncharacteristic occurrence for the tech giant and underscored the "code red" Google declared internally following the meteoric popularity of ChatGPT.

To be fair, the main purpose of Google's event was to announce new Google Maps and Google Search features and updates that have been in the works for a while. Immersive View and Glanceable Directions are some of the standouts that would've been the big highlights in different circumstances. But ChatGPT's integration into the new and improved Bing forced Google to say something about Bard, which overshadowed the rest of the event and drew attention to Google's shortcomings compared to OpenAI's advanced conversational AI technology.

Join us as we recap the mess that unfolded.

Bard didn't do its fact-checking

As the event was happening, Reuters published a report revealing Bard's inaccuracy. In a promo video on Google's blog showing off Bard's capabilities, the AI falsely said the James Webb Space Telescope took the first ever picture of an exoplanet. It was Webb's first picture of an exoplanet, but the first picture taken occurred back in 2004.

"Information in a language model is not pulled from lists of facts and recited, but spat out by very sophisticated systems for completing sentences," Mashable's Mike Pearl reported. "Sentences about the very recent past could plausibly be more error-riddled than usual for an AI because the information in them simply hasn’t been written as many times."

In other words, this is a common issue for all current AI language models, not just Bard. But for this report to come out as the event was happening was not a good look for Google, which prides itself on its AI.

A demo phone was...misplaced

To be clear, this is not about ridiculing the poor presenter who just experienced everyone's public-speaking nightmare. But it speaks to the overall haphazard tone of the event. During the announcement about a new Lens feature, the demo phone was misplaced and the presenter wasn't able to show the demo, leaving her literally empty-handed and forced to wrap up the news with a promise to show the feature in the Q and A that followed.

The presenter showed admirable composure, but how was this allowed to happen? This was one of the features that Google had been planning to announce, so it's not like the presenter was told to hop on stage at the last minute. Was the Google event so chaotic that a phone was lost? Why wasn't there a backup phone?

Anyone who has put on an event knows that mistakes like this do sometimes happen, but it was an unfortunate blunder during an already bizarre event that had me wondering if Google needs a wellness check.

The Bard non-announcement

When Google announced it was hosting an event this week about search and AI, the internet eagerly began speculating about how it would respond to the threat of ChatGPT. Then, the company officially launched Bard on Monday which ramped up the anticipation for more details about the conversational AI technology.

Instead, we were given a glorified repeat of what was already announced. The company did share a few details about how Bard will power Google search results and will be open to testers next month. But, it felt like a last-minute addition that was shoehorned into the pre-planned event. Attendees expecting a worthy rebuttal to Microsoft's Bing announcement were left underwhelmed.

The livestream is no longer live

After all that, Google seemed to say, "let's pretend this never happened," and immediately made the livestream recording private after the event.

Given the opportunity to flex its AI muscles and alleviate concerns about being spooked by ChatGPT, Google made the situation worse by appearing panicked and reactive. Until now I didn’t think ChatGPT was a truly credible threat to Google's AI technology. Maybe OpenAI got there first, but Google would surely come out with something even more powerful to top it.

That may still happen in the coming weeks, but this event shows that Google's worst enemy isn't ChatGPT, but itself.

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'Paint' trailer: A Bob Ross-coded film that isn't actually about Bob Ross

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 19:00:00 +0000
A man with a perm paints a landscape on a canvas.

Don't be fooled by the perm, this film isn't actually about Bob Ross. 

Owen Wilson stars in Paint as a fictional painter called Carl Nargle, who has his own art show that's taking Vermont by storm. While Paint's trailer is heavily Bob Ross-coded, from the hair to the lullaby-like voice to the unmatched peace of painting a tree with the most lovable guy on TV, the film's events are entirely fictional and merely inspired by Ross' character. 

Paint follows Nargle's success, that's quickly challenged by a new painter called Ambrosia (Ciara Renée). It's a battle of brushstrokes and television, as the pair grapple with winning the crown for best comfort human. 

Paint also stars Michaela Watkins, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Lusia Strus, Stephen Root, and Lucy Freyer. 

Paint releases in theaters on April 7. 

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This is one of the best weeks for Dyson deals we've seen in a while

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 18:48:28 +0000
Hand holding Dyson cordless vacuum cleaning hardwood floor

UPDATE: Feb. 8, 2023, 1:30 p.m. EST This post has been updated to reflect the current availability and sale pricing of Dyson vacuums, air-purifying fans, and hair tools. Shop our top picks below:

  • BEST CORDLESS DEAL: The Dyson V12 Detect Slim is the cheapest path to Dyson's laser that sees dust your eyes can't — $519.99 $649.99 (save $130)

  • BEST UPRIGHT VACUUM DEAL: The Dyson Slim Ball Animal harnesses the cyclonic upright Dyson power in a more compact body — $329.99 $499.99 (save $170)

  • BEST AIR PURIFIER DEAL: Allergy sufferers should consider snagging the Dyson Pure Cool TP02 ahead of spring pollen season — $299.99 $519.99 (save $220)


The automated convenience of a robot vacuum is undeniably sweet, but for some, a Roomba just can't compare to the rush or attention to detail of manual vacuuming. That's where Dyson comes in. Shop this week's deals on Dyson vacuums below. For help comparing models, check out our guide to Dyson's current stick, ball, canister, and handheld vacs.

Our top pick

Why we like it

Dyson's best bang for your buck, the V12 Detect Slim, has finally beaten the $100 discount we've been seeing for weeks. The lightweight Mashable Choice winner comes with two cleaning heads, one being the iconic laser head that points out microscopic dust the naked eye won't catch.

More cordless Dyson deals

Upright Dyson deals

Dyson fan deals

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'The Last of Us Part I' just hit a new record-low price in the PlayStation Store

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 18:31:54 +0000
a screenshot from the last of us part 1

SAVE $20.03: The PlayStation Store has The Last of Us Part I on sale as its Deal of the Week. Grab a copy of the Standard Edition for the record-low of $49.69 (normally $69.99), or upgrade to the Digital Deluxe Edition for $59.99 (typically $79.99).


The best version of The Last of Us just hit its best price yet.

TLOU Part I is on sale for just $49.69 as part of a Deal of the Week promotion in the PlayStation Store, live now through Thursday, Feb. 16 at 2:59 a.m. ET. That's 29% off its usual retail price of $69.99 and its biggest discount to date. This beats the game's all-time-low holiday price on Amazon (where it's currently sold out) by a solid 30 cents.

The game's Digital Deluxe Edition is also cheaper until the 16th: You can snag a copy for just $59.99, or 25% off its $79.99 MSRP.

A PS5 exclusive that came out in September 2022, TLOU Part I is a top-to-bottom overhaul of the original 2013 mushroom zombie horror game for PS3 featuring enhanced visuals, improved gameplay with better controls and combat, haptic feedback, 3D audio, and additional accessibility options. It's by far the best way to experience Joel and Ellie's saga for the first time, especially if you're following along with the hit TV adaptation on HBO. (Anyone who's played through 2014's TLOU Remastered for PS4 probably doesn't *need* to pick up Part I, but if you're a longtime fan of the franchise, the stunning next-gen graphics make for a pretty compelling revisit in their own right.)

The Standard Edition of TLOU Part 1 includes a copy of the base game and Left Behind, its prequel DLC, with a multiplayer mode promised for sometime later in 2023. The Digital Deluxe Edition tacks on early unlocks of weapons, skills, and a speedrun mode.

cover art for the last of us part 1
Credit: Naughty Dog / Sony Interactive Entertainment
cover art for the last of us part 1 digital deluxe edition
Credit: Naughty Dog / Sony Interactive Entertainment
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Self-emptying robot vacuums from iRobot, Samsung, and Shark are under $500

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 18:20:03 +0000
Roomba j7+ on auto empty dock

UPDATE: Feb. 8, 2023, 12:45 p.m. EST This story has been updated to include the best deals on robot vacuums from iRobot, eufy, and more. Here are the ones to grab as of Feb. 8:

  • BEST BUDGET DEAL: The Eufy 25C has over 2,000 five-star reviews and can schedule cleanings through an app — $96 $249.99 (save $153.99)

  • BEST SELF-EMPTYING DEAL: The Shark EZ RV915S is still chilling at its pre-holiday sale price — $248 $449.99 (save $201.99)

  • BEST ROBOT VACUUM/MOP DEAL: The Eufy RoboVac X8 Hybrid is Eufy's most powerful vacuum and mop combo and is currently $330 cheaper than the non-mopping X8 — $319.99 $549.99 (save $230)


Only three things are certain in life: Death, taxes, and a few days each month when you need to vacuum but just don't have time. Whether you detest the chore or hope to make your home upkeep a bit breezier, a robot vacuum is a lifesaver. Shop models on sale below.

Robot vacuums under $200

Why we like it

A $96 robot vacuum? With actually-good reviews? We're sold. This compact Eufy vac is an easy choice for small spaces and low-profile furniture. You won't get smart mapping at this price point, but current 25C owners are impressed with its navigation when it comes to furniture and walls.

  • Only 2.85 inches tall

  • 90-minute battery life

  • Automatic suction increase on carpet

More robot vacuums under $200

Robot vacuums under $500

Why we like it

Less than $250 is a stellar price for a self-emptying robot vacuum, especially from a brand as recognizable as Shark. The EZ vacuum doesn't map your home but still maintains wall-to-wall coverage by cleaning in methodical rows. It'll return to dirty areas that need extra work, then head back to its compact dock to empty its own dust bin.

  • Multi-stage filtration system

  • 70-minute battery life in Max mode and 140-minute battery life in Eco mode

  • Self-emptying dock holds 30 days' worth of debris

More robot vacuums under $500

Robot vacuums under $800

Why we like it

Snagging Samsung's most advanced robot vacuum on sale at Amazon saves you an extra $15 over the sale at Samsung's website — totaling a 46% price slash that definitely makes this vac worth it.

Like the Roomba j7+, the Jet Bot AI+ uses an array of 3D sensors to identify small obstacles that other robot vacuums usually eat, like cords and pet waste. Like the Roomba s9+, the Jet Bot AI+ has one flat edge that offers pristine corner cleaning and wall trailing. What sets the JetBot AI apart is an onboard security and pet camera that can live stream directly to your phone.

  • Room mapping, zone cleaning, and small obstacle avoidance

  • 90-minute battery life

  • Self-emptying dock holds up to two months' worth of debris

More robot vacuums under $800

Robot vacuum and mop hybrids and dedicated robot mops

Why we like it

The mopping version of Eufy's most powerful robot vacuum has dropped to a new all-time low price. Now, $319.99 locks down both wet and dry cleaning for your hardwood, tile, and laminate floors — identical to last week's sale price for the non-mopping X8 (which is back to full price). For carpeting, the X8 uses twin turbines for the brand's most powerful suction yet.

  • Room mapping and zone cleaning

  • 180-minute battery life

  • Two turbines generating 2,000 Pa suction each

More hybrids and robot mops on sale

Are robot vacuums worth it?

The control of an upright vacuum comes with its own type of satisfaction. But if you're not one to classify cleaning as cathartic, a robot vacuum could erase that huge, agonizing task from your chore list. (And did we mention the joy of having "first-day clean" floors all the time?)

But whether robot vacuums are worth it or not comes with a caveat: It can't be just any robot vacuum. A cheap robot vac that doesn't do the job right — scattering dust, bumping into walls, getting stuck on area rugs — might actually create more work for you.

What to consider when buying a robot vacuum

Suction power is key

A vacuum is the one purchase that you hope sucks a lot. Suction power is typically measured in Pascals (Pa), with most current vacs ranging between 1,500 Pa and 3,000 Pa. Stronger sucking will be needed to pick up heavier pieces of debris (be sure to set a no-go zone around Legos) and to pull matted-down pet hair from rugs.

Know your floor type

Carpeting and high pile rugs will probably require stronger suction than hard floors, as well as special features like an extra-wide or self-cleaning brush roll to prevent hair from wrapping and clogging. Folks in homes with multiple floor types might consider a bigger, sturdier robot vacuum that can hurl itself and its wheels over mats, rugs, and transitions from carpet to hard floors.

Consider automatic emptying

Because robot vacuums are typically under four inches tall, their onboard dust bins are also small — which means they frequently require emptying. (Dustbins fill up particularly quickly in homes with pets.) A self-emptying vacuum takes that job out of your hands, emptying itself into a larger dustbin in its charging dock. These larger bins can typically hold weeks of dirt without needing to be cleaned or dumped out.

Think about your home's layout

Every robot vacuum is equipped with sensors and drop detection. But if your home has lots of rooms, lots of turns, or lots of close-together furniture, you'll have fewer navigation issues with an advanced model that uses intelligent mapping to remember exactly how your home is laid out, including labeling of specific rooms, mental notes of staircases, and ability to deploy zone cleaning.

Pay attention to low-profile furniture

No one should have to be scared about what's accumulated under their couch over the past year. A robot vacuum measuring three inches or less in height should be able to scoot under most low-hanging couches and beds.

Assess battery life and square footage

One of the main complaints people have about their robot vacuum is that it craps out in the middle of the floor. Larger spaces require more time to clean, and it all depends on how annoyed you'll be if it only finishes a few rooms at a time. Average run times for the list below range between 90 and 200 minutes, which translates to about 500 and 2,800 square feet covered on one charge.

Look for app control

WiFi-enabled robot vacuums can be synced with a smartphone app to control scheduling, manual start, and cleaning settings, as well as telling your vac to make its rounds when you're not home. Low-end models that don't connect to WiFi will usually come with a separate remote. If you're used to asking Alexa or Google to turn off the lights or tell you the weather, a model with voice integration will blend in nicely.

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'Scream VI's latest trailer teases Ghostface like we've never him seen before

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 18:11:48 +0000
Man in ghost mask holds a knife.

If you've been keeping up with Scream VI, you'll know it's shaping up to be the franchise's most ambitious film yet. It's the first in the series to take place in the big bloody Apple, and it will be released in 3D.

Taking things to a whole new level, Ghostface is now terrorizing New York City with a gun in hand and zero fucks left to give. In the film's Super Bowl spot, we see everything from a whole shrine dedicated to previous Ghostfaces to some truly hair-raising stunts that will look even cooler in 3D. As fan fave Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere) chillingly reminds us: "This isn't like any other Ghostface." 

Scream VI stars Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega, Samara Weaving, and Courteney Cox. 

Scream VI hits theaters on March 10. 

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Get six free months of DashPass membership through your Roku account

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 18:03:56 +0000
Roku x DoorDash logo on cartoon background

FREE 6-MONTH DASHPASS SUBSCRIPTION: New and existing Roku account holders can get six months of DoorDash DashPass membership for free as of Feb. 8. That's a savings of $60.


What goes better than takeout and TV? Not much, if you ask us, which is what makes the partnership between Roku and DoorDash so genius. If you're the type of person who likes to settle in with a great meal and something to watch when dinner time rolls around, this is a promotion you'll want to sit up and pay attention to.

As of Feb. 8, new and existing Roku account holders who link their streaming or smart home devices can get six free months of free DashPass membership from DoorDash. DashPass is typically $9.99 a month, so that's a savings of $60. (Note that your DashPass membership will automatically renew for $9.99/month after your six-month free trial period, so be sure to cancel it before then if you don't want to be charged.)

Your free membership serves up $0 delivery fees on any eligible delivery orders through the app. You aren't limited to food, either. There are a wide variety of retailers on DoorDash from florists to convenience stores, and you can save on delivery orders from all of them with DashPass. You can grab this deal if you don't already have an active DashPass subscription (trial or paid) or one that you've allowed to lapse in the last six months. Not sure if you're eligible? Head to the deal landing page and check the email you used to set up your Roku account.

You can save a chunk of cash with DashPass, as delivery fees tend to add up if you order takeout often. So if you're hungry to save money, this is a great perk.

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NSFW 'Strays' trailer teases adorable dogs on a quest for revenge

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 17:53:25 +0000
Four dogs walk in a line down the street.

Dogs are decidedly not man's best friend in the trailer for Strays. Specifically, one man: Sleazeball Doug (Will Forte). Doug committed the egregious sin of abandoning his sweet, naïve dog Reggie (voiced by Will Ferrell) to fend for himself in the middle of a city.

Thanks to some urging from new doggie friend Bug (voiced by Jamie Foxx), Reggie comes to terms with the fact that Doug left him behind on purpose. Now, Reggie is on a mission to find Doug — not to reunite with his owner, but to — ahem — "bite his dick off."

So begins Reggie and Bug's quest for revenge, where they're joined by fellow strays Maggie (voiced by Isla Fisher) and Hunter (voiced by Randall Park). These dogs swear, hump, and do shrooms together in what is surely the most bizarre trailer of 2023 so far.

Strays is in theaters June 9.

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Curate the soundtrack to your life with Sony earbuds, headphones, and speaker deals

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 17:40:27 +0000
Sony headphones

Quality devices that elevate your favorite music can elevate your entire day. These Sony deals are for anyone who wants to jam alone or be the life of the party. Here are some of the best Sony deals at Amazon as of Feb. 8:

  • BEST EARBUDS: The Sony WF-C500 wireless earbuds deliver crisp sound on a budget and are perfect for calls and workouts. — $68 $99 (save $31)

  • BEST BLUETOOTH SPEAKER: Enjoy music during parties, chores, and gatherings with the Sony SRS-XE200. — $96.94 $129.99 (save $33.05)

  • BEST HEADPHONES: The Sony WH-1000XM5 wireless headphones are chic, powerful, and at a great price. — $348 $399.99 (save $51.99)


Best earbuds

Why we like it

The Sony WF-C500 earbuds have a battery life of up to 10 hours, or 20 hours if you bring your charging case along. You can use them along with the Sony Headphones Connect app to customize the sound to your liking and make adjustments. DSEE technology improves the sound of music by restoring high-frequency notes lost when files are compressed so you get a better musical experience. They're also waterproof (IPX4) and great for calls, workouts, and errands.

Best Bluetooth speaker

Why we like it

Lightweight and compact, the Sony SRS-XE200 also includes a small strap you can use to easily carry it around. Want to use it during a pool party or while near water? This powerful Bluetooth speaker is waterproof and dustproof. It includes a line-shaped diffuser that transmits even sound, and it's equipped with X Balance speakers for great bass sound distribution. When fully charged, you can expect a battery life of up to 16 hours depending on use and volume levels.

Best headphones

Why we like it

If you need a pair of serious noise-canceling headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM5 is a great deal. Automatic noise cancelation adjusts to your current conditions to block out distracting sounds and let you focus on your tasks, music, and calls. The wireless headphones boast a battery life of up to 30 hours after a full charge. Four beamforming microphones transmit your voice for hands-free calls. Lightweight and comfortable, these headphones automatically stop playing music and podcasts when you remove them and restart them as soon as you put them back on.

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One phone call changes an FBI agent's life in 'The Night Agent' trailer

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 17:30:30 +0000
A man in a white shirt points a gun.

Some phone calls aren't meant to be answered. 

Based on Matthew Quirk's novel of the same name, Netflix's new series The Night Agent follows Peter Sutherland (Gabriel Basso), an FBI agent whose unglamorous gig involves working in the basement of the White House. Peter is assigned one simple task — monitor an emergency phone line for undercover spies and answer when it rings. When it finally does ring, his entire world turns upside down as he finds himself caught in a dangerous conspiracy that trickles all the way up to the President himself. 

The Night Agent also stars Luciane Buchanan, Hong Chau, Sarah Desjardins, Fola Evans-Akingbola, Eve Harlow, Enrique Murciano, Phoenix Raei, and DB Woodside. 

The Night Agent premieres on Netflix March 23

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HBO Max and Discovery+ merger may not happen as planned

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 17:08:22 +0000
HBO Max and Discovery+ logos on phone screen

If you had anxiety about the impending merger of HBO Max and Discovery+, today's news may not alleviate it, but it's something, at least.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the original plan to blend the two apps into one mega-app has been shelved. Instead, Discovery+ will live on as a separate app while HBO Max will be rebranded to just "Max." The latter service will indeed be the aforementioned mega-app of our nightmares, mixing HBO's premium cable content with Discovery's reality-centric programming.

Warner Bros. Discovery (the parent company behind both apps) is apparently taking pricing into account before moving ahead with all of this, per Deadline. HBO Max's ad-free tier is currently on the higher end of streaming service prices, coming in at $16/mo. It's hard to see Warner Bros. Discovery lowering the price, considering the new app will theoretically have more content, but hopefully there's an off chance it stays the same.

It is worth wondering if the new Max app will be worth that price, though. Warner Bros. Discovery has taken a hatchet to HBO Max over the last year or so, canceling the Batgirl movie, removing several streaming-exclusive movies and TV shows, and even cutting Sesame Street. In their places are Discovery mainstays like the 90 Day Fiancé cinematic universe.

That may not be bad, necessarily, but it's also arguably not what people originally went to HBO Max for. Today's news may not be the healing balm that HBO Max fans have wanted for the last several months, but at least it's confirmation that corporate bigwigs are often just winging it like we are.

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Put the pedal to the metal with $400 off the Original Peloton bike

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 16:58:52 +0000
Peloton bike in living room

SAVE $395.01: As of Feb. 8, the Original Peloton Bike is down to $1,049.99 at Woot, down from its MSRP of $1,445. That's a savings of 27%.


If you pledged to better your fitness in 2023 but haven't found the exercise that works best for you, here's a suggestion: just start pedaling. The interactive, at-home fitness experience that bikes like Peloton offer tend to make moving your body feel less like a chore and more like a treat. And when you feel like getting your daily movement is something to look forward to, it follows that you'll probably do it more. That's a win!

As of Feb. 8, the Original Peloton Bike is available at Woot for $1,049.99, which is the lowest price we've seen for the bike since it dropped to $1,195 on Amazon in January. That's $395 off its original price and a savings of 27%.

This Peloton model is perfect for beginners thanks to its compact footprint, adjustable seat and handlebar, and large screen. With a Peloton All-Access membership (purchased separately for $44/month), you get access to the full library of Peloton workouts in addition to cycling, including yoga and boxing. Plus, you can follow along with your favorite live instructor and compete with your fellow bikers online, which is part of Peloton's greatest allure.

This deal will be available for the next 15 hours at Woot or until it sells out, so if you're interested in jumping on the Peloton bandwagon, now's a great time to do it.

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ChatGPT could be writing a lot of Valentine’s Day cards this year

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 16:52:53 +0000
Two pixelated hands reach out for each other on a pink background.

There's a good chance your Valentine's Day card this year will be written with a little help from ChatGPT.

ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot, is basically inescapable at the moment. Now, this takeover has gotten to the point where it's seeping into our collective love lives. Tinder users already began enlisting the platform to write messages to potential matches. New data suggests people will be using AI chatbots like ChatGPT to craft the ideal Valentine's Day note.

Research from McAfee polled 5,100 individuals about their romantic lives. Amongst the discoveries comes the revelation that 42 percent of men surveyed in the United States said they will be using AI to write Valentine's messages this year. Less than one-fifth of women said they would do so.

Personal motives vary in the survey results. Some want to use ChatGPT out of laziness, others out of apprehension. 32 percent said that the tool would help them feel more confident; 20 percent said it would enhance efficiency and that they simply don't have the time to do it themselves. In fact, the survey showed that 10 percent of people said: "I don’t believe my love interest or partner would know and it would be quick and easy."

Meanwhile, 24 percent say they don't know what their partner would want to hear and, therefore, something like ChatGPT could take that stress away.

Perhaps more alarmingly (if that's possible), many of those polled weren't able to tell whether a love note was the work of a human or ChatGPT. 37 percent of respondents said there was no clear way to distinguish this; 39 percent incorrectly guessed that an AI-written love note was penned by a human.

Many of those polled weren't able to tell whether a love note was the work of a human or ChatGPT.

Digital culture has already changed the landscape of dating, with the influx of apps, etiquette, and the ensuing new ground to navigate online. With AI, there's potential for even more technologically-driven changes when it comes to love and romance.

This also isn't the first time AI-powered tools have swooped in for the Hallmark-occasion that is already Valentine's Day. In 2021, CopyAI, an AI copywriting assistant, launched a free Valentine's Day card generator, guaranteeing users could "type a sentence about your relationship and get a Valentine's Day card that your significant other will love."

Still, despite the proven demand for AI tools like ChatGPT for this purpose, people aren't thrilled at the prospect of receiving an AI Valentine's Day card. Somewhat unsurprisingly, 50 percent of McAfee survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: "I would be hurt or offended if I found out my Valentine’s message was written by a machine / Artificial Intelligence."

That may seem contradictory, given the amount of people set to use it for this purpose anyway. All of the data just reflects a new reality: that AI is being leaned on for creative assistance in unexpected ways, even if that means people will receive apparently genuinely declarations of love courtesy of a chatbot. It could be worth giving your card an extra scan next week.

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Immerse yourself in the action with these soundbar deals

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 16:38:06 +0000
girl, man, and woman on a living watching a flatscreen TV during the day

Soundbars can help you really feel the action in your favorite films, shows, and video games. Never miss important dialogue and details again after you grab one of these soundbar deals on Feb. 8:

  • BEST BUDGET SOUNDBAR BUNDLE: The Vizio 2.1 channel V-series soundbar also includes a wireless subwoofer without the big price — $119.99 $159.99 (save $40)

  • BEST SPLURGE: The Sony HT-A3000 includes subwoofers for great sound quality and is compatible with other select Sony sound accessories — $498 $699.99 (save $201.99)

  • BEST SOUNDBAR BUNDLE: The Vizio M-Series Elevate soundbar and speakers deliver top-notch sound for a quality at-home cinematic experience — $499.88 $799.99 (save $301.11)


Best budget soundbar

Why we like it

This compact bundle still provides big, immersive sound so you'll get the best at-home cinema, gaming, or streaming experience. It features DTS Virtual-X sound enhancement and Dolby surround sound with a capacity of up to 95 decibels. An HDMI input allows you to hook this system up to your TV for better control. Additionally, DTS TruVolume helps you have a more even sound so you won't be surprised during commercial breaks, ads, and variations between sound types. At $40 off its sticker price, this is a great deal for people in small spaces.

Best splurge

Why we like it

The Sony HT-A3000 is fully equipped with two subwoofers, three front speakers, and a center channel for theater-like sound quality. It delivers Dolby sound and includes 360 spatial sound mapping, a feature that adjusts sound levels depending on your environment. Use it without your TV to listen to your favorite music, audiobooks, or podcasts. This soundbar includes built-in support for WiFi and popular apps such as Spotify, Chromecast, and Apple AirPlay 2. If you have a Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa you can sync to these devices for voice control.

Best soundbar bundle

Why we like it

The Vizio M-Series Elevate sound bar and speaker bundle transmits 5.1.2 channel sound once installed. Its adaptive height speakers change direction and rotate within the soundbar depending on the type of sound involved. This ensures the best quality music as you listen to your favorite songs through apps such as Spotify, and optimum sound when you watch shows, films, or sports. The included tweeters and woofers in this soundbar bundle are capable of sounds of up to 103 decibels. This soundbar is truly a great way to get lost in sound — and at a savings of $301.11.

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Bard shared false information in Google's announcement

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 16:15:29 +0000
A graphic of Bard in opposition to ChatGPT

Big Tech is scrambling to release products that can compete with OpenAI’s ChatGPT, the sensational AI chatbot that is also the fastest-growing app ever. Google’s entry, Bard, is set to be released "in the coming weeks" according to a Google blog post, but it’s already nailing its impersonation of ChatGPT by generating inaccurate information. 

Google’s blog entry about Bard contains an animated graphic designed to demo the Bard user experience, and, long story short, the AI in it wrongly claims the James Webb Space Telescope took the first ever picture of an exoplanet. Google also tweeted the animation with this statement in it.

In September of last year, Webb took its first picture of an exoplanet, but that wasn’t the first ever picture of any exoplanet — a milestone that occurred in 2004

It’s not clear what happened, but one eyebrow-raising aspect of Bard’s claim about James Webb is how recent it is. Information in a language model is not pulled from lists of facts and recited, but spat out by very sophisticated systems for completing sentences. Sentences about the very recent past could plausibly be more error-riddled than usual for an AI because the information in them simply hasn’t been written as many times. This is likely one of the reasons ChatGPT’s model won’t tell you much past the year 2021.

This snafu speaks to the lingering problem of all generative AI products disregarding truth value, which in turn is potentially a good reason for consumers to continue using old fashioned search engines. Microsoft is in the process of integrating a ChatGPT-like answer engine into its search engine, Bing, but as Microsoft notes, "Bing will sometimes misrepresent the information it finds, and you may see responses that sound convincing but are incomplete, inaccurate, or inappropriate."

Thanks, but for now I think I'll just use Google. Er, the old Google.

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Presidents Day sales are already starting up, plus more great mattress deals this week

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 16:03:02 +0000
Casper Element Pro mattress

UPDATE: Feb. 8, 2023, 11:00 a.m. EST This list has been updated to reflect the latest mattress deals. Check out our top picks below:

  • BEST BUDGET MATTRESS DEAL: The Casper Element combines the comfort and breathability of other Casper mattresses at a much lower price — $590.75 $695 (save $104.25)

  • BEST HYBRID MATTRESS DEAL: The Layla Hybrid Mattress is a flippable mattress that employs both firm and soft sides, making it a great option for all types of sleepers — $1,499 $1,699 (save $200)

  • BEST BED-IN-A-BOX DEAL: The Purple Plus Mattress comes with a cushion-y, premium foam layer for added comfort — $1,499 $1,899 (save $400)


Splurging while online shopping isn't always advisable — unless you're shopping for a mattress. In that case, we recommend worrying less about the price tag and more about the quality of what you're buying. That doesn't mean you should scoff at a solid discount, though, and that's exactly what we're here for. Every week, we'll be rounding up all the best mattress sales from across the web. Time for some sweet deals and sweet dreams. (Note: All prices are for queen-sized mattresses.)

Best budget mattress deal

Why we like it

The Casper Element is on the cheaper side of Casper's offerings, but only in price, not quality. The Element combines the comfort and breathability of other Casper mattresses, including the brand's patented AirScape cooling layer that helps circulate air while you drift off to dreamland. If you're not trying to drop your life savings on a bed, this may be the one for you.

Best hybrid mattress deal

Why we like it

The Layla Hybrid mattress is like having a firm and soft mattress all in one; just flip it depending on your needs. One side is firm for those who need a little extra support, and the other is soft for added comfort. It's a good choice for all types of sleepers.

Best bed-in-a-box-deal

Why we like it

Purple is one of the most popular online mattress brands for good reason: Purple mattresses are known for being ultra-comfortable. The Purple Plus is no exception — it comes with a premium foam layer, a 2-inch GelFlex Grid that cradles your pressure points, and a foam core that cuts down on bounce.

More mattress deals by brand

Amerisleep 

Avocado

Bear

Beautyrest

Birch

Brentwood Home

Brooklyn Bedding

DreamCloud

Eight Sleep

Leesa

Nectar 

Purple

Saatva

Serta

Tempur-Pedic

Tuft & Needle

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Scientists find unprecedented rings around object in our solar system

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 16:00:00 +0000
rings around a dwarf planet in our solar system (illustration)

Rings are special, dazzling rarities in our solar system. Now, astronomers have found that an extremely distant world — beyond even Pluto's orbit — is encircled with unusual rings.

Scientists reported that the frigid dwarf planet Quaoar, a round body that doesn't quite meet all the definitions of a planet, has a system of rings enduring at an impressively far distance away from Quaoar. The detection is unexpected, because researchers didn't think rings could survive at a relatively far distance from the celestial body they orbit. (This distance is detailed below.)

Astronomers still have questions about how such rings form and endure.

"Everyone learns about Saturn's magnificent rings when they're a child, so hopefully this new finding will provide further insight into how they came to be," Vik Dhillon, one of the study's authors and a scientist at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, said in a statement. The researchers published their research in the journal Nature on Feb. 8.

No, there's no clear image of Quaoar and its (presumably glorious) rings. These relatively small objects are just dots in even our most powerful telescopes. Quaoar is some 4 billion miles away and, at about 690 miles across, half the size of Pluto — also a dwarf planet.

Yet clever astronomers sleuthed out the rings. They used the world's largest optical telescope (a telescope that views visible light), the 34-foot-wide Gran Telescopio CANARIAS in the Canary Islands off of Spain, and mounted a specialized camera (the HiPERCAM) to the gargantuan instrument. As Quaoar transited through space, the camera was sensitive enough to detect the dwarf planet blocking light as it passed in front of a distant star. Astronomers saw two "dips in light," one before and one after Quaoar passed through the light. This is "indicative of a ring system around Quaoar," explains a press release from the University of Sheffield.

The location of the dwarf planet Quaoar's ring system.
The location of the dwarf planet Quaoar's ring system, well beyond its "Roche Limit." Credit: Paris Observatory

Astronomers can count, using just two hands, the number of solar system objects that have known rings: Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, famously Saturn, and two smaller objects called Chariklo and Haumea. And now Quaoar.

Yet, unlike Quaoar, these other rings exist pretty close to their parent object. At such a close distance, strong forces from the nearby objects stop the rings from fusing together and forming moons. Previously, scientists thought rings couldn't exist out past a distance of three "planetary radii" — relative to whatever object or planet the rings are orbiting. For example, Saturn's brilliant rings are found within this distance, known as the "Roche Limit." But Quaoar's rings are quite unusual. Compared to Saturn, these rings are located twice as far away, at over seven planetary radii.

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"It was unexpected to discover this new ring system in our solar system, and it was doubly unexpected to find the rings so far out from Quaoar, challenging our previous notions of how such rings form," said the astronomer Dhillon.

Indeed, we can expect the unexpected in our diverse solar system. After all, our cosmic neighborhood is teeming with surprises.

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The best Valentine’s Day gifts for boyfriends

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 15:46:52 +0000
a collage of pictures of valentine's day gift ideas for boyfriends, including a dog sweater, a tabletop fire pit, a cookbook, a marvel lego set, perfume samples, and new balance shoes

Whether you just started dating or you’re practically engaged, shopping for the perfect Valentine's Day gift for your boyfriend can be a surprisingly tricky task. How much should you spend? Are you going for a big romantic gesture or keeping it simple? And what about the classic "we’re not doing gifts this year," but you still "surprise" each other with gifts anyway thing?

Seriously, though — what *is* that?

If you're stuck in a gift-giving rut, our best advice is to zero in on the items he uses daily and the topics he brings up whenever you hang out — these are easy jumping-off points for presents that'll make him feel seen. (Oh, he just mentioned in passing that his wallet's falling apart? Get him a really nice leather one that he'd never splurge on himself. Stuff like that shows you've been paying attention.)

Below, we've rounded up a list of Valentine's Day gift ideas for boyfriends that say "I love you and I get you" without being totally cliché. Spoiler alert: There will be no mention of whiskey stones or beard oil.

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Google's ChatGPT rival Bard is coming to search results next month

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 15:44:47 +0000
Google event showing generative AI launch

Not to be outdone by Bing, Google is bringing generative AI to search results next month.

At Google's Live From Paris event on Wednesday, the search giant revealed new details about Bard, its conversational AI technology. Bard, a ChatGPT-style competitor was announced earlier this week — a day before Microsoft unveiled its updated version of Bing, powered by OpenAI's artificial intelligence technology.

generative AI search in Google results
Google showed a demo its conversational AI tech in action. Credit: Google

Google senior VP Prabhakar Raghavan showed a demo of how asking about the best constellations to look for when stargazing, showed a detailed, conversational answer directly on the search page. "New generative AI features will help [Google] organize complex information and multiple viewpoints, the right insights. With this, you'll be able to quickly understand the big picture and then go on to explore different angles," said Raghavan.

Most of this news had already been covered in Google's Bard launch on Monday, though we now know a bit more on how Bard will be used in Google Search. Ever since OpenAI's ChatGPT launched, Google has been scrambling to catch up with the conversational AI technology that has taken the internet by storm and will be used to power Bing search results.

The short section of the event (that was padded with straightforward features for Maps and Search) felt like a last-minute addition, showing a rarely-seen vulnerability from the tech giant. Since the event ended, the livestream recording has been made private.

Google livestream event showing it is now private
Immediately after the livestream, the recording was made private. Credit: Google

Bard in chatbot form, which is powered by a lightweight version of Google's proprietary language model technology LaMDA, is already available to a select group of testers, but will be available to developers, creators, and enterprises through an API next month.

Needless to say, the AI race between Google and Microsoft is heating up.

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Can you sign up for Google's new Bard AI search tool? What to know

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 15:40:19 +0000
ChatGPT and Bard AI logos on smartphone screens

Everybody is hopping on the ChatGPT bandwagon, including Google. But you can't play with Google's new toy just yet.

Earlier this week, Google announced Bard, its answer to ChatGPT and Microsoft's Bing generative AI search model. You give it a prompt and it comes back with a detailed, seemingly well researched answer. At least, that's how it works in theory.

Right now, unfortunately, there's no way for most people to find out how well Bard actually works. According to a company blog post, Google has only put it in the hands of "trusted testers," but will make it more available to the public "in the coming weeks."

So, that's a bit of a bummer if you wanted to dive head-first into Bard and try to make it say hilarious things for social media likes. That said, it's not the end of the world for the AI-curious.

How to use Microsoft's Bing AI chatbot in the meantime

If you want another AI bot to try, Microsoft has your back. Sort of.

Microsoft's Bing search engine is also getting a generative AI bot that will answer prompts like "write a rhyming poem" or "create a three-course menu." Unfortunately, it's also not fully available to the public yet. However, there's still a way you can eventually get a foot in the door.

Simply go to the Bing AI page and click on "Join the waitlist" to, well, join the waitlist. You'll have to log into a Microsoft account and follow the instructions from there, but that's simple enough. Hopefully, sometime down the road, you'll get access to Bing's AI search tools.

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Something weird is happening with 'Tears of the Kingdom' preorders ahead of Nintendo Direct

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 15:16:26 +0000
a screenshot from 'The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom'

UPDATE: Feb. 8, 2023, 10:09 a.m. EST This post has been updated with new information about preorders for "The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" ahead of today's Nintendo Direct.

All major retailers have stopped taking preorders for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom ahead of today's Nintendo Direct at 5 p.m. ET. (Amazon marked it as "temporarily unavailable," Best Buy, removed its listing entirely, and GameStop nixed its "Add to Cart" button and shipping options.)

What's more, the Nintendo eShop itself briefly listed the game for $69.99 on Tuesday night — that's a $10 increase from other first-party Switch titles. It could be a sign that Nintendo is joining other games publishers like Xbox and PlayStation in raising its prices, but it also could have just been an error. Hopefully, we'll get more intel later during the livestream.

Our original story follows.


Nintendo's highly anticipated sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild finally has a name and a release date.

Revealed at the very end of September's Nintendo Direct livestream, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom will launch for the Switch console on May 12, 2023. The game was available for preorder at Amazon, Best Buy, and GameStop for $59.99 at the time of writing.

Little is known about TOTK's gameplay or storyline at this point, though its brief trailer features snippets of a stunning aerial world above Hyrule with lush floating islands and a flying bird-shaped platform. We also might've gotten a glimpse at a new Sheikah Slate rune that lets Link ride boulders (?) like an elevator (???)

"In addition to the vast lands of Hyrule, the latest entry in the storied Legend of Zelda series will take you up into the skies and an expanded world that goes beyond that!" Nintendo teased in a press release.

TOTK was originally slated for a 2022 release, but the gaming giant announced its delay to spring 2023 back in March. Legend of Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma apologized to fans in a video update at the time, explaining that its dev team needed more time "[i]n order to make this game’s experience something special." Here's hoping it's exactly that.

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7 horror films that will make you happy you're single

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 14:13:29 +0000
A composite image of characters from movies on a background of broken hearts.

For the most part, horror urges you not to stay in creepy accommodation, not to run upstairs when you should be running out the front door, and certainly not to "investigate" any strange noises in the attic.

But some movies would also advise you on another thing entirely: enjoy being single.

It's a real niche within the genre, but we've tracked down the horror movies that single people will probably get more out of than anyone else. Some are grim reminders of all the bad things about being in a relationship with someone selfish (looking at you, Sinister), while others (*cough*, It Follows) are basically arguments for a life of swearing off sex altogether.

Of course, being single means different things to different people. Not every single person out there is sexually active, or actively looking for a relationship. But whether you're simply happy on your own or perhaps fed up with the dating scene, there'll hopefully be something among the following creepy selections that's right up your dimly lit street...

1. It Follows

A young woman stands outside a house.
Don't look behind you. Credit: Moviestore/Shutterstock

What's it about?

In a nutshell, it's about a supernatural entity that gets passed between people when they have sex. Once the entity starts following you, it won't stop pursuing until you're dead.

The only way to get rid of it? Have sex with someone else and pass the burden along.

Why single people might love it...

This one doesn't take too much explaining. The plot of It Follows is like a love letter to swearing off sex altogether, a very convincing 100-minute argument about the merits of steering well clear of any and all prospective partners.

After all, is a romantic encounter really worth a life of constantly being pursued by hollow-eyed strangers that nobody else but you can see? We think not.

How to watch: It Follows is available to stream through Icon on Prime Video in the UK and on Netflix in the U.S.

2. Get Out

A young man speaks to another man, looking worried.
All is not what it seems in 'Get Out.' Credit: Moviestore/Shutterstock

What's it about?

Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) travels to meet the family of his white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams) for the first time. At the start of the trip, his main concern is how they might react to him being Black. But as the story progresses, and things get stranger and stranger, he realises their racism is just one part of a much larger secret.

Why single people might love it...

Meeting a partner's family for the first time is always a stressful experience. Jordan Peele's directorial debut takes this fear and runs with it, imagining pretty much the most nightmarish scenario possible and placing poor old Chris right in the center of it.

The lesson? If you're going to go to a new partner's house, always have an escape plan.

How to watch: Get Out is available to stream on Netflix in the UK and on FX in the U.S.

3. Ready or Not

A young woman in a bridal dress holds her hands on opposite walls of a corridor.
Worst. Wedding night. Ever. Credit: 20th Century Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock

What's it about?

After marrying her boyfriend Alex (Mark O'Brien), Grace (Samara Weaving) is subjected to a bizarre post-wedding family tradition that sees her running for her life.

Why single people might love it...

Like Get Out, Ready or Not plays on a fear of the in-laws. What if, rather than just being a bit odd, your new in-laws were actually in league with a rather unpleasant evil entity? What if they forced you to take part in their sinister traditions? And what if, when push came to shove, your new husband turned out to be an absolute wet flannel whose only steps towards protecting you were moaning a bit about the fact his whole family wanted you dead.

Luckily, in the case of Ready or Not, Grace is more than capable of taking care of herself.

How to watch: Ready or Not is available to stream on Disney+ in the UK and fuboTV in the U.S.

4. Sinister

A man holds up a newspaper clipping as if investigating a story.
Ellison Oswalt: Struggling true crime writer, terrible husband. Credit: Moviestore/Shutterstock

What's it about?

As part of his research for a new true crime book, Ellison (Ethan Hawke) moves his family into a house where the previous residents were butchered.

But when Ellison finds a box of disturbing movies in the attic, he realises that the killings may be part of a much larger pattern.

Why single people might love it...

Ellison Oswalt may be a determined true crime writer, but he's an absolutely awful husband. Despite occasionally making the right noises about caring for his wife and kids, he's so obsessed with recapturing his rapidly-dwindling fame that he a) doesn't tell his wife he's moved her into a literal MURDER HOUSE, and b) repeatedly ignores signs and warnings that whatever killed the previous residents may well be stalking him and his children as well.

Truly a reminder that marriage doesn't always end well.

How to watch: Sinister is available to stream on NOW TV in the UK and on Peacock in the U.S.

5. The Shining

A man in a turtleneck looks creepily just off-camera.
Jack Torrance may be the worst horror movie husband of all time. Credit: Warner Bros/Hawk Films/Kobal/Shutterstock

What's it about?

In a particularly Ellison Oswalt move, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) relocates his family o the abandoned Overlook Hotel to take on the job of caretaker for the winter. But as the sense of isolation sets in, and Jack's son Danny begins seeing things, Jack's grip on reality starts to slip.

Why single people might love it...

If you're going to be stuck in a large, echoey hotel over winter with absolutely no outside contact or hope of escape, you'd at least want to be with your family, right?

Wrong!

As murdery old Jack Torrance makes clear in Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's classic novel, sometimes the people closest to you are the ones that can hurt you the most (quite literally, in this sense, as becomes potently obvious when Jack gets his hands on a nearby axe).

Torrance's unpredictable and violent decline put him up there among the worst horror movie husbands of all time, making Sinister's Ellison practically look like a saint in comparison.

How to watch: The Shining is available to rent or buy on Prime Video in the UK and the U.S.

6. Audition

A woman in a dimly lit room looks down while holding syringe.
Maybe dating isn't such a great idea after all. Credit: Moviestore/Shutterstock

What's it about?

Widower Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is encouraged by his son to try dating again, so he sets up a fake "audition" to meet a new wife. But the woman he ends up falling for, Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shina) has her own dark secret.

Why single people might love it...

When it comes to dating, there's always that small background fear that the person you're going to meet might be a little bit odd. Or maybe even more than just a little bit. Audition, which features one of the most terrifying female villains of all time, turns that fear up to roughly a million.

Finding a relationship? Who needs that. Delete those dating apps off your phone and be glad there's no Asami in your life.

How to watch: Audition is available to stream on BFI Player in the UK or on Kanopy in the U.S.

7. The Loved Ones

A young man in a tuxedo looks distraught in a home.
Waking up tied to a chair is never good, is it? Credit: Screen Australia/Kobal/Shutterstock

What's it about?

When Brent (Xavier Samuel) refuses to accompany his classmate Lola (Robin McLeavy) to prom, she decides to take matters into her own hands. By violently kidnapping him.

Why single people might love it...

Like Audition, Sean Byrne's dark thriller presents a fairly compelling argument against dating in general. But also, if you're fed up with seeing photos of smiling couples and looking for some catharsis, Lola's deeply terrifying rampage will likely more than provide.

How to watch: The Loved Ones is available to rent or buy on Prime Video in the UK and stream on Paramount+ in the U.S.

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Google Maps is adding a lot of new features. See the list.

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 14:11:00 +0000
Google Maps features on a smartphone against an abstract background

With a new batch of features, Google wants to make Maps and Search more intuitive.

At Google's Live From Paris event on Wednesday, the tech giant announced new features, including an immersive way of exploring, improved resources for EV charging, and a "glanceable" way to use Google Maps. Not to be outdone by Microsoft's new AI-powered Bing, Google's announcement showcases advanced AI techniques like computer vision and predictive models.

Here's what's coming to Google Maps and Google Search.

Immersive View in Maps

Imagine Street View, but you can fly through the images. That's kind of like the Immersive View experience in Maps. Google combined billions of Street View and aerial images to create three-dimensional models of the location you're exploring. This could be useful for finding a clearer, more contextual layout of a neighborhood, or the entrance of a building. Immersive View also shows you the weather, traffic, and business to help plan your visit.

Immersive View also allows you to see inside of restaurants using something called neural radiance fields (NeRF) which transforms flat images into 3D renderings that include detail like lighting and texture. Immersive View is available to in London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Tokyo and will roll out to more cities in the coming weeks.

Screenshot of Immersive View of the Rijksmuseum in Google Maps
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam with Immersive View. Credit: Google

Google Maps improves features for EV owners

Built-in Google Maps software for electric vehicles already suggests charging stations along your route. But Maps has updated to this by automatically adding the ideal charging station based on your total trip time, driving conditions, and how long the charge will take. You can now also filter for fast charging stations, meaning chargers with 150 kilowatts or higher. Last but not least, charging stations will show up in your Maps search, for say, a supermarket so you can charge up while you shop for groceries.

EV charging stations on Google Maps in a car's dashboard
Search for fast charging stations if you need to charge your EV in a hurry. Credit: Google

How Glanceable Directions will change Google Maps for drivers

Unlocking your phone to check Maps can be tedious — and downright dangerous if you're driving. Glanceable Directions is a new feature that shows your movement in the route overview (before you tap "start") or directly on the lock screen.

The feature is available for both Android and iOS and will be launching in the coming months. On the Android lock screen, Glanceable Directions shows up through system notifications and through Live Activity on the iOS lock screen. In Glanceable Directions mode, Maps shows your ETA and updates your route automatically if you change course.

Glanceable Directions in Google Maps
Track your route without having to unlock your phone. Credit: Google

Live View in more cities, Multisearch gets an upgrade, and expanded Lens search

Google also shared that is has expanded its augmented reality Maps feature Live View to more cities and announced updates to it some of its Search tools. Multisearch, which enhances text search using images is now global on mobile. "Multisearch near me," which combines this features with your location to find what you're looking for nearby is now available on mobile in the U.S. And soon, you can use Lens on Android to search for any image on your screen without leaving the app.

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AdultFriendFinder is a hookup site with equal parts spam and porn

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 11:02:38 +0000
Phone in hand

This content originally appeared on Mashable for a US audience and has been adapted for the UK audience.

Moving to a new area or working at a new job where you don't know anybody can be seriously depressing, especially if you're already introverted as it is. What are you supposed to do? Go sit at the bar by yourself? And talk to strangers? No thanks.

Then comes the lightbulb idea: You can make friends online. If online dating is so popular and successful, there's no way that there aren't a few legit sites where you can make adult friends in your area with similar interests. After a quick search, AdultFriendFinder sounds like a good place to start.

So you're on your lunch break at work, type in the URL, and the next thing you know, you're frantically closing the tab and hoping nobody walked behind you for that split second. AdultFriendFinder is not what it sounds like.

What is AdultFriendFinder?

Made quite obvious by the words blatantly plastered across the image above, AdultFriendFinder is where you can go to "join the world's largest sex and swinger community." That photo is actually a video of a woman talking, so you may want to mute your computer or put on headphones before you click.

AdultFriendFinder is one of the most well-known sites for finding quick sexual encounters, regular hookups, and literally anything else even remotely related to sex. The rowdy feed of matches, jumble of explicit photos, and stimulating calls-to-action offering all types of sex makes is heaven for anyone looking for a good time with no filter — and hell for someone who wouldn't be caught dead clicking on a sexy online ad.

Even if you're not using it for real sex, it's always nice to have spank bank material in your back pocket. Social distancing rules due to the coronavirus made this quite obvious. Sexting, nudes, and Pornhub searches all saw a spike since people started social distancing at home. If you don't want to risk quarantine sex or aren't finding people on your level of horniness on Tinder, you're pretty much guaranteed to find someone who's just as down as you are on AdultFriendFinder. You can find someone to sext via messaging or video, watch live streams, or join niche group chats. Is it worth £10-something per month? Depends on how much fishy content you're willing to overlook for a juicy sexting session.

We reached out to Kalyn Sanders, a business development executive at Friend Finder Networks, for updated AFF demographics. Right up there with Tinder's monthly flock, AdultFriendFinder snags the attention of over 55 million visits around the world per month, on average. The majority of traffic originates from the United States, followed by visitors from the United Kingdom and Canada.

Specifics on the demographic that most people care about — the gender ratio — can be hard to track down. Sanders told us that "there's a 2 to 1 ratio of single men vs. categories like single women, couples, and groups." The split between men and women is an expected one for a lot of hookup-centric sites. At the end of the day, it's a paradise for straight men, hit-or-miss for straight women and queer men, and likely an actual hellscape for queer women.

Can you find a serious relationship on AdultFriendFinder?

If you're 100% over being grilled with relationship questions on traditional dating sites like EliteSingles and eharmony, AdultFriendFinder is your golden ticket to instant communication. Registering takes literally 30 seconds — they require nothing from you aside from an email address, a username, a password, and an introduction. Though they don't require a bio or a picture, it's probably best to add a few to up your chances for messages and flirtation, especially if you're looking for something super specific, as you're more likely to be contacted by people looking for the same thing.

After you register, you'll see that there are loads of options to completely personalise your account (way more than we expected from a hookup site, to be honest). The more you fill out, the more attractive your profile will be to new viewers. There are the basic physical appearance questions about eye and hair colour, plus more intimate details.

There's also a personality test that seemed pretty close to something you'd see on Match or eharmony, and we guess it's comforting to know that some people on here care about what's on the inside as well.

One of the funniest forms was the "Purity Test," featuring 100 hilariously-worded questions about how far you're willing to go sexually. It felt like the sexy 20 questions game that you'd play with your middle school crush when neither of you knew how to flirt, but we guess this information is pertinent when you're on a site that's all about sex.

There's no real matching strategy other than the basic info on physical appearances, so don't get your hopes up when it comes to finding a lasting connection or kindred soul — but hey, if you're on the site for the same reasons most other people are, that stuff won't really matter anyway.

How do you match on AdultFriendFinder?

Like a traditional dating site, AdultFriendFinderAdultFriendFinder gives you a collage of potential matches at the top of your personal home page. These will be random right after you sign up, but you can opt to update your preferences to refine your results: Choose your preferred gender(s), age range, location and mile radius, race, sexual orientation, body type, and marital status. They'll let you know who's online when you are, which matches are closest to you, new people who liked or messaged you, and all of that good stuff.

AdultFriendFinder is basically like a PornHub that you can interact with. We probably don't have to say this, but AdultFriendFinder is NSFW and not safe to be on while kids are in the room. Some videos will be blurred out and read "Naughty video" until you upgrade to a Gold Membership.

The message section is set up similarly to a Gmail account, and you can mark things as read or important just as you would on a real email. How professional. You'll also receive messages instantly, which is definitely a confidence boost even though you know they're probably just looking for one thing.

You can tell who took the time to look at your profile and who is sending the same thing to everyone, but it's nice to see that there is a range. Unlike more traditional dating sites, these people don't need to talk and get to know you for months before meeting. If you're tired of things moving too slowly or need a change of pace, it's pretty awesome to know you can immediately make plans for each night of the week.

What does AdultFriendFinder do well?

Once you get past the in-your-face sexplosion of naked profile pictures, horny AIM-era profile names, and explicit videos, there are actually an impressive number of resources to help make your experience as satisfying as possible. Some will cost money even outside of the paid subscription, which is kinda dumb.

Aside from the NSFW content, the website is relatively straightforward (albeit ugly). Every feature is advertised in big letters, notifications are displayed clearly with labels, and you don't really have to click around to find anything. This makes it super accessible for users of all ages, even those who aren't tech-savvy and can't even figure out Facebook. Buttons are all over the place, but you figure it out after messing around for a few minutes.

Activities range from direct messaging, sending virtual gifts, watching live videos of people in your feed, joining adult chat rooms that can get very niche, or entering photo contests.

Think of AdultFriendFinder as the dating site version of New York City — it never sleeps. You'll find people who work the regular 9-5, people who work the night shift, and people in other time zones, so it's nearly impossible to log on and not have a lot of people to talk to. You know, like that booty call who's always awake when you text them.

Or at least that used to be the case... 10 years ago. What was once a hot site that a few Reddit users were quick to hype up is now one of the dating sites that Reddit users can't help but diss — in the few instances that AFF is even being discussed at all. The Reddit community is diverse and open-minded, and if a dating site exists, someone on Reddit has used it and has an opinion on it. It's notable that, on a site where online dating is such a mammoth topic of discussion, that AdultFriendFinder has rarely been mentioned since the early 2010s. When an innocent soul does ask if it's legit, AFF usually gets dragged for sketchy pricing and being ridden with bots.

Can you sign up to AdultFriendFinder for free?

As previously mentioned, you can do a lot on the site without paying a penny: You can message people, reply to emails, and visit most profiles and chat rooms. You know, all of the basic stuff. But with just a few clicks AdultFriendFinder can send you deep down the rabbit hole, and a lot of that juicier hidden content can only be unlocked with a paid membership (called the Gold membership) or by earning points.

Points are AdultFriendFinder's non-monetary currency. If you're a free member, you'll have to earn points through on-site activity to unlock stuff that's exclusive to paying members. It's kind of like a game, with points acting like money at the strip club. You can "tip" updates, photos, or videos from a member that you like, buy "bling" (which is basically a badge that makes you look cooler), watch racy videos that are usually blurred out or access other exclusive site content, or "buy" a Gold membership for a month. The more points you have, the more you get out of the site.

But all of that stuff takes a really long time, and is honestly just a hassle. If you want access to all those features, just pay for a Gold membership and upgrade.

If you're a guy looking for girls, we might suggest getting a Gold membership as the standard. While researching on Reddit, we found a few girls who said they won't meet a guy unless he's a Gold member. A Gold membership puts a little bit more credibility behind someone's profile and makes the entire encounter a little less threatening. It's easier to believe that someone's a real person if they're a paying, active member of the site, and it's nice to know that they're taking it slightly seriously. Plus, if you see a picture or profile that looks like it's five years old, it really might be — there are a ton of non-active profiles from old members and escorts still lingering on the site.

If you find yourself spending more quality time on the site than you expected, becoming a paid member is definitely something to consider. Once you're paying, you basically become royalty on the site: Your profile will appear way higher in searches, you can use the most advanced searches, and you can read emails and message to your heart's content (messages and emails are limited with a free account).

A Gold membership can unlock everything that the site has to offer, including unlimited messaging, profiles with private photo albums, and video profiles that are only available for Gold members as well. A general rule is that increased involvement and payment on your end generally equals more success on the website, as your constant activity and heightened search-ability makes it way easier for others to find you. Plus, you'll just get bored with the free features after a while.

Like every other dating site, prices for a Gold membership get cheaper the longer your subscription is: one month is £25.08/month, three months is £16.71/month, and one year is £11.27/month.

Who should try AdultFriendFinder?

This is pretty obvious, but AdultFriendFinder is ace for people who want a quick hookup, people who are in a sexual rut, people who are tired of porn, and people who find sites like eharmony to be lame. Those long compatibility tests can be exhausting, and sometimes you just wanna skip the small talk and have sex. It's gonna get kinky out there, and that's great for those who are dying to blow off steam and are in need of someone who will respond well to a sexy message. It also might be a good place for people who are freshly out of a breakup and in need of attention.

Did we mention it's also a huge confidence boost? People are so active on this site, it's impossible not to feel adored. Just seeing the notifications of users wanting to talk to you will make your heart flutter, and you'll start to loosen up. Even if you're rejected a few times, you'll learn which opening lines and flirty comments work and which don't, making you a smoother operator.

AdultFriendFinder's pro-sex, judgment-free environment means it's open to everyone and highly inclusive, no matter your gender identity or sexual orientation. The variety of people on this thing is so massive that it's nearly impossible to not to meet someone.

As with all dating sites, catfishing is a big buzzkill. Your chances of being pursued are way higher if you have a lot of pictures of the same person (AKA you), videos, and a genuine profile that lets people know they're not dealing with something sketchy. Even if you've had bad luck with online dating in the past, AdultFriendFinder is the place to 100% be yourself.

The site may look like an ad for a strip club, but don't judge a dating site by its cover. If you're willing to look past the questionable design choices, AdultFriendFinder can seriously expand your sexual horizons and introduce you to individuals you never would have met otherwise.

Who should avoid AdultFriendFinder?

You know those warnings that thrill rides at amusement parks are required to put up that tell people who get dizzy easily or have heart problems to not get on the ride? AdultFriendFinder could use something like that. This site is not for the faint of heart — if you're a cynic, conservative by any means, or get sketched out easily, you're probably going to hate it. If you appreciate a well-crafted, aesthetically pleasing website that feels safe — no matter how badly you want to have sex — then this dating site is probably not for you. Nothing is left to the imagination here, and it's definitely not going to be everyone's cup of tea. You have got to be open minded.

AdultFriendFinder is not the place to be if you're trying to make friends, unless "with benefits" is tacked onto the end. Every inch of the site screams "this website is used to have sex," and you should really listen to that. You might get a date out of it, but don't expect the person to introduce you to their parents.

But this isn't to say that meaningful connections or finding a genuine adult friend (get it?) is impossible. There is always the chance of a pure friendship, particularly between two like-minded individuals.

What could AdultFriendFinder do better?

The entire website looks like an ad about hot MILFs that pops up when you're illegally streaming a movie. Seriously, it's bad. Even though the website is technically legit, the pictures, word choice, and exclamation points everywhere scream "scam." No, AdultFriendFinder, "98,897,765 Hot Photos" is not the way to make potential new users trust you.

We're not knocking a quick hookup or no-strings-attached relations. This isn't about morals. Genitals are quite literally in your face from the moment you make an account, and that's just not cute. There are chiller ways to go about insinuating that this is a hookup website without feeling like you're trapped in a sex dungeon with strangers.

It's difficult to get past the fact that the entire site looks like it's about to invite five viruses to your computer. We're talking terrible graphics that look like they were made on Microsoft Paint and pictures of women who look like they're from Pornhub in 2007. Reddit user Snoo53279 summed it up in a comment from July 2020: "The people on AFF are definitely real, but there is a huge smattering of bots that also get in the way so it can be a bit of a PITA to use." If they're not bots, they could be men posing as a couple to seem less threatening.

The parade of women on the landing page is questionable for two reasons. This shouldn't even need to be clarified, but not everyone is looking for a woman. At the least, the advertising just isn't inclusive — but this crosses into fetishisation territory. The cherry on top is that the women in the photos (unsurprisingly) probably aren't even members on the site, according to a disclaimer at the bottom of the landing page.

AdultFriendFinder's overall outdated vibe goes past an aesthetic annoyance — it's downright problematic at times. The "TS/TV/TGs" part of sign-up is nearly unforgivable, and we'd be scared to see some of the related rhetoric that AFF users feel comfortable spewing. Without even a dash of social awareness, it's hard to see how anyone who's not an out-of-touch straight cis man would feel comfortable on this site.

Attempting to navigate the shoddy design might just be enough to smother your horniness. Three main issues can make the site borderline unusable: It looks shady as hell, an alarming portion of the user base is made up of bots and spam accounts, and the user interface itself is outdated and rife with bugs.

Other Reddit users mention that the desktop web version won't even load for them at random times — an especially frustrating roadblock for people who want to end their membership and stop monthly charges. A solution to the laggy web version might be to clear your cache or use the smartphone app instead, but your experience probably won't get better there. AFF's mobile page doesn't even mention an Android app, and the link to the iPhone app brings up a "not available" pop-up in the App Store. For a site that claims to have over 50 million visitors each month, the lack of accessibility to a smartphone app is just plain odd — especially in 2021.

Adding to the sketchiness, a network hack in 2016 exposed around 412 million accounts, including "deleted" accounts that weren't actually deleted from the database. If this is enough reason for you to fall back on Tinder for finding a friend with benefits, we don't blame you. Signing up with a burner email and avoiding using your real name as a username are wise moves (just pick a naughty word and add 69 to the end, maybe), though keeping your personal information private is hard when credit cards are involved.

In 2007, AFF was involved in a lawsuit with the FTC over allegations that the site used malware to send explicit pop-up ads to computers owned by people who hadn't signed up for the service. Though we haven't seen reports like this recently, so we're hoping those ridiculous ads you see are at least confined to people who actually use the site.

What are the best alternatives to AdultFriendFinder?

Surprisingly, AdultFriendFinder is one of the more tame hookup sites out there. While other hookup sites have names like Swing Towns and Instabang.com, AdultFriendFinder is probably the safest in terms of your Google search history. Most have the same general idea, which is to find sexual partners, have cyber sex, etc, but with names like those, you do start to question the authenticity. AdultFriendFinder is one of the biggest players in the world of legitimate adult dating/hookup sites and boasts a way larger and more diverse audience than a lot of these newer sites.

Horny Matches is one newer dating site that could be starting to slide in, but it hasn't stolen AdultFriendFinder's thunder just yet, perhaps due to its dodgy name. It does have its advantages, though. Horny Matches' first advantage is just that it's more modern and looks cleaner. The title is more obvious, but the main page encourages "taking the first step" rather than mentioning the words "horny" and "sex" multiple times. The audience isn't nearly as large as AdultFriendFinder, though, and most people will take more options and a less over an aesthetically pleasing app.

Is AdultFriendFinder right for you?

AdultFriendFinder is possibly the easiest, most low pressure way to find a friends-with-benefits situation without insulting anyone. Everyone is pretty much there for the same reason — and though it'll feel pretty unorthodox if you've only ever used to Tinder to scope this type of thing out, AFF's blunt advertising at least means you won't have to explain that you're not looking for a relationship. It's niche-friendly, well-populated, and has a lot of interactive outlets to indulge your primal urges.

But that freedom comes with a price — the price being feeling like one of those people who falls for the ads that pop up before a free Pornhub video. It's not that a site dedicated to sex and sexting is inherently scammy — it's that AdultFriendFinder drowns you with explicit photos on profiles who might not even be real people while asking you to pay for a subscription with every click. Unfortunately, no matter how in the mood you are, some people aren't cut out for the nothing-left-to-the-imagination approach with grammar mistakes all over the place. It wants to be sex-positive so badly, but the way sign-up talks about the trans community is the furthest thing from that.

The functionality and safety of the site and the mobile app aren't where they need to be in 2021. If security measures were tightened, graphics and photos were cleaned up to feel more relevant, and decision-makers behind the scenes were given a lesson in inclusivity and pronouns/identities, AdultFriendFinder could be a handy tool to find attachment-free hookups and connect with a community that's down for anything.

If you're brave enough to jump into the action, you can register for AdultFriendFinder. Good luck out there — and don't try this at work.

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A mistake on the Webb telescope just led to a surprising discovery

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 11:00:02 +0000
an asteroid in our solar system

Sometimes, mistakes in telescope observations can lead to accidental discoveries.

That's what happened recently when scientists tried to use the new James Webb Space Telescope — an observatory run by NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency — to look at a known space rock in the main asteroid belt. Instead, they found a new asteroid, thought to be the smallest object Webb has detected so far.

"Our results show that even 'failed' Webb observations can be scientifically useful, if you have the right mindset and a little bit of luck," said Thomas Müller, an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany, in a statement.

The finding demonstrates the telescope's exceptional sensitivity at seeing the cosmos at infrared wavelengths. The researchers were able to spot the tiny 300 to 650-foot photobomber — about the size of a flying football field — from more than 72 million miles away. If the asteroid is confirmed, it could mean the telescope's Mid-Infrared Instrument will be a handy tool for astronomers to hunt for other small asteroids in the future, something it wasn't specifically designed to do.

The results were published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics this week, and they will likely lead to future dedicated studies using the telescope to observe asteroids less than a half-mile wide.

But when NASA helped break the news of the discovery Monday, some people were confused and disappointed that the agency didn't showcase a photo of the asteroid itself, rather than an illustration.

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"This was a lucky, unexpected detection of a very tiny, faint dot of light from images originally designed for a different purpose," NASA said on Twitter. "It was difficult to make that dot clearly visible against the extreme background noise of the imagery."

Millions of space rocks orbit the sun. The majority are in the main asteroid belt, a doughnut-shaped region between Mars and Jupiter. So-called "small asteroids," though, on par with this one, haven't been studied as much simply because they're harder to detect.

Asteroids orbiting in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter
Most asteroids in the solar system are found in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter. Credit: NASA / McREL

The main belt sits roughly on the same imaginary plane as Earth's orbit around the sun. The team's measurements were some of the first used on the telescope targeting this shared plane. Scientists speculate that even short Webb observations close to this plane will always include a few asteroids, most of which will be previously unknown objects.

Astronomers want to study asteroids of all sizes to better understand how the solar system formed 4.6 billion years ago. Many scientists focus their research on developing computer models to simulate how this space neighborhood came to be. More data from newly-discovered asteroids could improve their models and help discern how the solar system evolved over time.

"Repeats of these observations are in the process of being scheduled," said Bryan Holler, a Webb scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, in a statement. "We are fully expecting new asteroid interlopers in those images."

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The best dating site alternatives to Pornhub

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 10:58:53 +0000
Girl looking at laptop

This content originally appeared on Mashable for a US audience and has been adapted for the UK audience.

If you like porn but want to make things a bit more interactive, these are some popular dating sites that will help you achieve that. There’s a little something for everyone, whether you’re looking to explore your kinky fantasies, make a lasting romantic connection, search for senior love, hook up, or want to keep things safely socially distanced and just chat.

And if free videos with easy-to-search categories like Pornhub offers are what do it for you, there’s options out there for you. While these sites are by no means perfect and some of them are pretty raunchy, here's the scoop on what you're getting yourself into.

What do you need to know about dating on NSFW sites?

Keep in mind that “dating” on NSFW sites like Grindr and GetItOn is about as subtle as the names of the platforms: Users are there to find a connection for a night, a threesome, or an ongoing sex buddy situation — not a long-term partner.

Also, sites like this don’t operate without mutual consent and boundary-setting (and respecting). When you’re building out your profile, be specific and honest about what you’re looking for and wanting so you can find people who genuinely match up with you and your interests or fetishes.

Should you use a NSFW site for dating?

If you’re looking for no-strings-attached sex, or just a sexting or Skype-sexing buddy for the evening, NSFW sites can be ideal for getting your needs met and getting straight to the point. “Dating” here is a very loose term — think of these as sites and apps for hooking up.

Users on these apps tend to be fairly direct — don’t expect a dinner invitation before you get asked over to their flat. If that’s not your cup of tea and you need a little more of the getting-to-know-someone before jumping into bed with them, these might not be the right sites for you.

What precautions should you take when using a NSFW dating site?

If you’re on a site where you need to share personal information or choose a username, be careful about the information you’re giving out — and about what kind of information it is. Things like credit card numbers are vulnerable to hackers, and using your real name on platforms like these can compromise your safety if you happen to stumble upon the wrong sort of people on the sites.

Always choose a username that doesn’t have a relationship to your first name, and be careful about the personal information you share (like where you live, etc.).

What else is important to know when using a NSFW dating site?

Besides not giving away any personal information, especially for things like anonymous encounters on cam or sexting sites, know the risks when it comes to sending nude or partially nude photos containing identifying details like your face or tattoos. While it’s against the law in many places to circulate private sexual images, that doesn’t stop people from doing it.

What is the best NSFW dating site?

There are plenty of raunchy dating sites out there that should suit just about everyone, but we get that you probably don't want to spend all day perusing the options (or maybe you do). To help you find the best NSFW dating site for you, we have lined up a standout selection.

We've tried to find something for every type of dater, with popular sites like AdultFriendFinder and GetItOn making the cut. You just need to pick a favourite.

These are the best dating site alternatives to Pornhub in 2023.

Before clicking through consider yourself warned: NSFW content awaits.

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What are romance scams and how can you avoid them?

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 10:27:33 +0000
illustration of seemingly happy straight couple, with reflection revealing the man is menacing and taking money and jewels from the woman

"I fell in love with him and he also claimed to feel the same way for me," said a victim of a romance scam, who requested anonymity. They met a man called "Bob" on Facebook, who claimed to be in South Africa working for the military.

After talking for some time, Bob said he wanted to visit the victim, who lives in the United States. Sure enough, he started asking for money: "He told me he had some trouble with his bank card not working in South Africa and couldn’t get funds to pay for his flight," anonymous said. "He asked if I could send the money to pay for his [flight] and other things."

The victim, like so many others, sent money to the grifter. Romance scams are a multimillion dollar problem, and it appears to be only getting worse. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), people reportedly lost $547 million from romance scams in 2021, an 80 percent jump from the year prior. But what exactly are romance scams, and how can you avoid them?

What are romance scams?

Romance scams are also called confidence scams because they require the scammer gaining the victim's trust. They're a form of social manipulation where scammers often create fake profiles on dating or social media platforms to start talking to victims and get them emotionally attached, said trial lawyer and partner at The Clark Law Office David Clark.

Scammers often target people who are vulnerable — say if they're elderly or recently divorced or widowed. However, "it's important to remember that these scams can happen to anyone, regardless of their level of financial knowledge," said Tommy Gallagher, a former investment banker and the founder of Top Mobile Banks, a site dedicated to digital banking.

Once they gain victims' trust, scammers will start asking for money. They'll come up with excuses like they have a medical emergency, or even that they want to visit the victim, just like Bob did. When the victim starts sending money, the scammer will demand more and more until they're financially drained, said Clark.

Unfortunately, that's what happened to the victim Mashable spoke to: "Every day, he [brought] up one issue or the other, demanding for more money that I ran out of money and went into debt," they said. "When he realized I had no money left, he stopped replying to my messages and stopped taking my calls." That's when it dawned on them that Bob was a scammer.

"It typically takes a significant loss of money before victims notice things to be wrong and resist."

"When it comes to matters of the heart, even the most rational of individuals can throw caution to the wind," said Gallagher.

People may fall for romance scams because grifters meet their emotional needs, commented licensed therapist and vice president of marketing at Divorce Answers, Lauren Cook-McKay. Scammers master what victims want to hear: promises of love, compliments, messages of empathy and compassion. 

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"In fact, it typically takes a significant loss of money before victims notice things to be wrong and resist," Cook-McKay said. "This is because when our emotional needs are being met, we're willing to look past the negative in an attempt to preserve that source of emotional support."

There are multiple types of romance scams, according to Clark:

  • Military scam, when the scammer pretends to be a member of the military — like Bob.

  • Oil rig scam, when they pretend to work as an oil rigger. 

  • Exchanging intimate media, when the scammer gets the victim to send nude photo or video to use them for blackmail.

"But no matter what type of romance scam it is," Clark said, "the scammer will always make excuses to avoid their victim, such as they're too far away and can't meet with the victim or avoid video calls."

How can I avoid romance scams?

Be cautious when meeting online, and be skeptical of anyone who asks for personal information or money too soon, said Gallagher. Never give money to someone you haven't met in person, and never share details like bank account numbers or your Social Security number. 

Some dating apps, like Tinder, have verification features where users can prove they are who they say they are. Tinder and other Match Group dating apps have even started rolling out features to help people sniff out scammers. In the UK, Match and OurTime partnered up for a similar campaign with the City of London Police and reporting center Action Fraud.

If you're using a service without verification or your match is unverified, you can do a reverse image search. Clark recommends doing this on Google or a site called Social Catfish

You can also stop talking to someone who refuses to meet in-person or on video; it's a major red flag. 

Ask questions pertaining to their identity, or ask for proof. If they say they're in the military, for example, ask to see their military ID card. "They can also ask the person what their MOS [military occupation specialty code] is. The MOS identifies the person's job title," Clark said. "They can also ask questions about the military culture, such as basic training or their favorite MRE [Meal, Ready-to-Eat] treat."

If you've already given a scammer money, contact your bank and credit card companies and let them know what happened, Gallagher said. You can report them to the dating site you met them on, and report them to the FTC as well.

Beyond researching your matches and calling out scammers, Cook-McKay said to "stop falling in love with being in love." Learn how to meet your own emotional needs and validate yourself, so you don't turn to others; seek out the help of a mental health professional if needed.

Most importantly, Gallagher said, don't be ashamed to reach out to friends and family for support. You're not alone. "By being aware of the dangers and taking the necessary precautions," he said, "we can all protect ourselves and our loved ones from the heartless actions of these scammers."

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What is a borg? The water jug drink college kids are making viral on TikTok, explained

Wed, 08 Feb 2023 10:00:00 +0000
gallon jugs of water with screenshots of tweets about borgs

Things have a way of spreading from college campus to college campus: recipes for jungle juice, squirrel lore, or some website called Facebook.

Enter the latest TikTok trend: the borg. You read that right: borg. It apparently stands for Black Out Rage Gallon but "borg," not "B.O.R.G." has seemingly become the only way it's referenced. In essence it's a (slightly) new way for college kids to binge drink on the go, and it's all over TikTok.

The borg is, effectively, a rebranded, tweaked version of jungle juice. But instead of being a communal thing, it's a personal drink. Frankly it sounds better and (in a relative sense) healthier. Basically, you take a gallon jug of water and dump out about half of it. You then add some alcohol (typically vodka) in whatever amount brings it to your desired strength. You then squeeze a bunch of Mio or other similar low-cal mixer. I've seen some kids then dump in some Liquid-I.V., which is basically an electrolyte-heavy hangover reducer. Shake it up and you've got a borg to carry around the day party in college.

Now that's just the beginning of what a borg can be. First things first: They're not new. They date back at least a few years — if not further — to around 2018, according to a much younger and cooler colleague. But they are now going viral on TikTok because Old People like me are seeing them for the first time, which is probably why you're here reading this.

It makes sense. TikTok is relatively new, and your FYP serves up a lot of random users' content, unlike Instagram, which primarily serves the content of people you follow. So if you were out of school (or school age) by 2018, why would you have been following college kids on Instagram back when the borg was first created? Long story short, TikTok posts are the first you're hearing about this, and it's making you feel old.

On the other hand, I can also see Gen Z-ers making these wild concoctions on TikTok and wonder what in the hell is a borg? even though they're the right age. Everyone finds themself out of the loop from time to time.

After all, borg subculture is already elaborate. Oftentimes kids go around and show off their borgs, proudly giving it a punny nickname like Ron Borgandy or Soujla Borg. Or they'll give a tutorial on how to make their favorite borg recipe. Or an expert will talk about how it's actually not totally the worst drink they've seen college kids down — after all, the drinker knows what's in the drink and they are consuming a heck of a lot of water. Though I have seen some kids pour an entire bottle of alcohol into a borg and, please, for the love of God do not do that. It'll be fun for no one.

screenshots of people with borgs on tiktok
Borgs, on display on TikTok. Credit: Screenshots: TikTok / @dariennrinn / @redcupnews / @bellaalonzo

All in all: The Borg is a classic college thing. Every campus, hell every group on campus, probably has its own crude delivery system for alcohol. This is just the latest way to rebrand a potent but easy-to-guzzle mixed drink. It's been spread around the country, and now everyone is posting about their borgs. It's like me and my friends carrying around skippy in gas cans back in the day because Superbad did it. Party drinks come and go, but now, everyone sees it all because TikTok exists.

Long live the borg until, you know, the next big thing in binge drinking comes around.

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