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US News from Christian Science Monitor

Norfolk Southern will pay large fines as part of a settlement over its Ohio train derailment in 2023. For many residents, that’s not enough. 
The MSPCA’s Boston community outreach unit has a nonjudgmental approach to forming partnerships.
The committee’s hearings stand in contrast to the partisan fights elsewhere in Congress – and shed new light on a highly politicized issue.
When the culture wars erupted in two small towns in the Pacific Northwest, citizens formed an alliance to work on common ground in their community.
Despite Supreme Court rulings that created a new majority Black district in Louisiana and Alabama, the court kept a coastal South Carolina district mostly white – and Republican.
What happens next as Chinese migrants enter the U.S.? Here’s how one community has developed an unofficial support structure for jobs, housing, and more.
The Bidens will welcome Kenya’s President William Ruto and his wife, Rachel, at their sixth state dinner on May 22. The creative powers behind pleasing the palates of world leaders for the past decade are executive chefs Cris Comerford and Susie Morrison.
Problems with a federal financial aid application have impacted college decisions. Faced with uncertainty around costs, how are members of the class of 2024 deciding what to do next?
The Department of Justice is suing Oklahoma over a new law that can imprison migrants for up two years. The DOJ is hoping to use the Oklahoma lawsuit to target similar laws in other GOP-led states.
The U.S. has faced setbacks to its standing and influence in Africa, losing out to China and Russia. A perennial concern on the continent has been, will the U.S. deliver on what it promised? Hosting Kenya’s leader offers a path forward.
Chinese nationals are growing rapidly as a share of migrants crossing the U.S. southern border. We talk to them about how and why they move.
The Environmental Protection Agency warns that cyberattacks against water utilities around the United States are becoming more frequent and more severe. The agency has issued an alert urging water systems to take immediate action.
As access to child care evades many parents, employers are trying to fill the void. Despite its convenience and benefits, is on-site child care a short-term fix or an integral solution? 
The death of someone you love can feel like a very solitary – and silent – experience in America. Death educators are trying to create space for people to talk about everything from wills to questions about the afterlife and their own legacy.
U.S. military aid is reaching Ukraine with much-needed ammunition and air defense systems. Kyiv wants to use Western weapons to hit inside Russia. 


Memorial Day is here, and along with the holiday has come a swath of tech deals available across the internet. In addition to the typical outdoor gear we see go on sale during this time, a number of our favorite earbuds, tablets, streaming devices and other gadgets are discounted at the moment. Most of the deals we’ve curated below represented record-low prices, or the best prices we’ve seen so far all year. You’ll likely have to wait until Black Friday (or Amazon Prime Day in July) to see even steeper discounts, but nevertheless, these sales are worth considering if you have tech on your shopping list. Here are the best Memorial Day sales on tech and gadgets that you can get for 2024.Our top picksNew and noteworthy Memorial Day dealsBest Apple Memorial Day salesBest outdoor Memorial Day salesBest vacuum Memorial Day salesBest Memorial Day sales on Anker charging gearBest Memorial Day sales on streaming services and devicesBest Memorial Day sales on headphones and earbudsBest Memorial Day sales on tech gearNew and noteworthy Memorial Day dealsBest Apple Memorial Day salesBest outdoor Memorial Day salesBest vacuum Memorial Day salesBest Memorial Day sales on Anker charging gearBest Memorial Day sales on streaming services and devicesBest Memorial Day sales on headphones and earbudsBest Memorial Day sales on tech gearFollow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/memorial-day-2024-tech-deals-you-can-still-get-this-weekend---sales-from-apple-samsung-anker-and-more-115046898.html?src=rss
Square Enix has largely kept its lips sealed about the Dragon Quest 3 HD-2D remake since announcing it three years ago, but the publisher has now revealed which platforms it's coming to. When it eventually arrives, you'll be able to play it on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC (via Steam).Since Square Enix started using its distinctive HD-2D tech with Octopath Traveller, the company has put it to use in a string of titles, including that game's sequel, Triangle Strategy, the Live A Live remake and Final Fantasy VI Pixel Remaster's opera scene. Based on the reveal trailer from 2021, the HD-2D engine is set to give Dragon Quest 3 a serious visual upgrade, nearly three decades after the original game arrived in 1988.The legend of Erdrick draws near. #DragonQuestDay #DQDay #DragonQuest pic.twitter.com/KFtqhVY61q— DRAGON QUEST (@DragonQuest) May 27, 2024 The new version may not be too far away either. The teaser suggested that the Dragon Quest 3 HD-2D remake "draws near," several months after series creator Yuji Horii said he was playtesting it. With Summer Game Fest and all its associated events just around the corner, we could find out more details about the remake very soon.Square Enix released the teaser on Dragon Quest Day, which marks the anniversary of the very first game in the series debuting in Japan in 1986. Horii took the opportunity to provide an minor update on the next mainline entry as well. Square Enix announced Dragon Quest XII: The Flames of Fate back in 2021, but there's been no sign of a release date as yet. That said, Horii wants it to live up to the legacies of key Dragon Quest creatives Akira Toriyama and Koichi Sugiyama.“Thank you so much to everyone for the many [Dragon Quest Day] congratulations!” Horii wrote on X, according to a Gematsu translation. “There has been some worry about Dragon Quest XII, but I was actually in a meeting [about it] until just a bit ago. While I can’t share any details yet, I want it to be something worthy of the posthumous work of the two [Toriyama and Sugiyama] who passed away. I’ll do my best!”This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-dragon-quest-3-hd-2d-remake-is-coming-to-switch-xbox-series-xs-ps5-and-pc-191015449.html?src=rss
Here’s an open secret: Every cheap streaming stick kind of sucks. Yes, it’s great that people can access so many shows and movies with devices that cost less than $50. It’s great that the best of them no longer force you to suffer through constant lag and performance hiccups, too. But over time, the Faustian bargain we make with these things becomes increasingly obvious. We save cash upfront, then we repay our debt through a shoddy user experience.I’ve been thinking about this since buying Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K Max a couple of months ago. It’s a good example of that handshake: It’s been on sale for $40 for most of the past few months, and at that price, its hardware is a tremendous bargain. It’s fast, it works with the major HDR formats and Dolby Atmos and it supports all the requisite apps.But Amazon’s Fire OS is shamelessly bloated. Big honking ads dominate the UI, most of which put Amazon services like Freevee or MGM+ or Prime Video — still the Blockbuster bargain bin of streaming services — front and center. Some ads straight up promote products you can shop on Amazon. Friend, you have not seen the dystopian future until the top third of your 55-inch TV suggests you buy a KitchenAid espresso machine. Once I’m actually streaming something, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is great. But I have to resist all the ads it peddles to me, to mentally block parts of the device I bought with my own money, to get the most out of it.So why did I still buy one? Mainly because I’m not using it the way Amazon intends. Instead, I’m using it to emulate old video games, which is forever the easiest path to my heart. It’s possible to run retro games on just about anything today, of course — a PC, an iPhone, a million different handhelds, a fridge and more. You can do this kind of thing with other Android streamers such as the Google Chromecast or Amazon’s cheaper Fire TV Stick 4K as well. The Delta emulator was newly allowed on iOS, and you can also get at it with an Apple TV too, albeit over AirPlay instead of a native connection. I settled on the 4K Max simply because it seems to have more of a performance safety net than most other low-cost streamers. And it’s much cheaper than a higher-end box like the Apple TV or NVIDIA Shield.Regardless, having a dedicated device for TVs is convenient in a way those non-streaming sticks aren’t. I’m not lugging a giant gaming PC from my desk to my living room, and I’m not paying extra for a mini PC when I can spend so much less on a dongle that emulates well enough. Official consoles like the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 5 have plenty of retro games in their libraries, but far from everything. And while I’m a collector who has spent way too much on consoles and games from decades past, the process of getting that original hardware to run decently on a modern TV is famously laborious. Sometimes I just want to play a half-hour of NHL ‘94, Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball or Chrono Trigger without having to pull out the SNES (or Genesis), upscaler and heap of cables from my closet. (Related: I’d also like a bigger apartment, but c’est la vie in NYC.) Emulating on the Fire TV Stick isn’t as faithful as the real thing in terms of image quality, but it’s certainly playable and generally less of a hassle to just turn on and use.After you get it set up, that is. Turning a Fire TV Stick into a retro game center isn’t especially complicated but requires a little prep. There are plenty of tutorials out there that’ll walk you through the full process, but here’s how I got it to work. First, I needed a few accessories: a Bluetooth controller, some sort of USB thumb drive (any older USB 2.0 model will do) and an OTG adapter with a microUSB connector that can power the Fire TV while connecting that external storage. I’ve been using this old SNES-style 8BitDo controller, just to get a more period-appropriate feel, though a PS4 or PS5 gamepad would also work. The USB drive holds the ROM and BIOS files for the games and systems I want to emulate. This is where I remind you that Engadget does not condone piracy, and while emulators are perfectly legal, sharing ROMs on the internet is not, so tread lightly. But backing up files of old games I’ve already bought, for personal use only, is at least fuzzier.After formatting my thumb drive and loading it up with my games, it was simply matter of downloading the popular frontend RetroArch from Amazon’s app store, downloading the “cores” for each console I wanted to emulate within RetroArch, pointing the app toward the right folders on the USB drive and configuring my gamepad’s controls. I’ve done this on dozens of devices over the past couple years as I’ve sunk deeper into the retro-gaming rabbit hole, so the whole process took me well under an hour. Demystifying RetroArch would take me another 1,000 words, so I’ll direct you to this superb video tutorial from Retro Game Corps. It’s long, but this stuff always requires a little pain upfront, and I think it’s worth it. Turning a device like this into something completely different feels like I’m getting away with something. It’s exciting, even if it means I end up sounding like this guy.As for what’s actually playable on this thing, I’ve found the 4K Max to work best emulating consoles up to the original PlayStation. Games from the PS1, NES, SNES, Game Boy, GBA, Genesis and old arcade machines have been consistently smooth. It’s technically possible to run stuff from the N64, Dreamcast, PSP or Nintendo DS, but those are more hit-or-miss, so I wouldn’t bank on them unless you’re the kind of sadist who enjoys futzing with resolution scaling and cycling between emulators. Still, this leaves me with hundreds of games to enjoy. Some are essential (Donkey Kong), some have been lost to time (U.N. Squadron), some make me want to self-defenestrate (Ecco the Dolphin) and none are live-service dross designed to disrespect my time.I understand that this is a weird, niche pursuit. Emulators are daunting at first, and many old games feel like relics for a reason. Yet, in a small way, turning this ad-riddled, data-sucking streamer into a mini retro console has felt like reclaiming ownership of the gadget I paid for. The ads are still there, and my home screen will continue to badger me to watch Anne Hathaway’s latest rom-com on Prime Video. (My wife and I caved; it was fine.) But with a little trickery, I’ve bent it to show more of what I want to see — and gained an easier way to engage in some nostalgic fun in the process.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/amazons-fire-tv-stick-4k-max-is-better-as-a-retro-gaming-device-than-a-streamer-160022685.html?src=rss
The top-of-the-line MacBooks are undoubtedly expensive, so we're happy anytime there's a sale. Right now, Apple's 2023 MacBook Pro laptop with an M3 Max chip is touting a 7 percent price cut, dropping to $3,249 from $3,499. Yes, the device's 1TB of storage and 36GB of unified memory still require a large investment, but we'll gladly take the $250 in savings. This deal is running on Amazon and B&H, but if you want to bump things up to 48GB of unified memory, that model is down to $3,699 from $3,999 on Amazon — an 8 percent discount.Apple's MacBook Pro with an M3 Max chip is great for anyone who needs a really powerful laptop, such as creatives, software engineers or developers. It offers a 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display and more than 1,000 nits of brightness for HDR content or up to 600 nits of brightness for SDR content. The MacBook Pro comes with one port for MagSafe charging, one for HDMI and three Thunderbolt 4 ones. Plus, it has an SDXC card slot and a headphone jack. Sound-wise, it has a three-mic array and a six-speaker system with Spatial Audio.If a MacBook Pro isn't your thing, the new 15.3-inch MacBook Air with M3 chip is also on sale. The model is down to $1,199 from $1,299 — an 8 percent discount — and comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of memory. Apple recently released the 2024 MacBook Air 13-inch and 15-inch models with M3 chips. While they're not going to measure up completely to the Pro (the MacBook Air never does), it performed really well in our Cinebench R23 single-core and multi-core CPU tests, compared to its predecessor. Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/apples-16-inch-macbook-pro-m3-max-is-250-off-130039352.html?src=rss
I’m a big fan of the British comedy game show Taskmaster. Each season, five comedians compete against each other to complete ridiculous objectives. The competitors are often rewarded for lateral thinking, as long as they stick within each task's rules.Every time I watch a player hilariously mess up, I often think “well, I could do better than that.” But sit me down in front of a puzzle game that demands adept use of logic or pushes me to think outside of the box, and l often get frustrated and give up quickly (unless I find a decent guide to help me out). That’s quite irritating, especially since we’re in a golden age of puzzle games.After a busy day of work, I’m far more inclined to play something relatively mindless, like Overwatch 2 or Fortnite. I tend to bristle at anything that slows me down, such as turn-based games. But the more I push myself to stick with puzzle games, the more I appreciate them. There are three recently released options that I've been bouncing between recently in Lorelei and the Laser Eyes, Animal Well and Paper Trail.I had enormous expectations for Lorelei. The last offering from developer Simogo, Sayonara Wild Hearts, is easily in my top three games of all time. Lorelei is completely different and it's not like anything I’ve experienced before.It opens with a woman named Lorelei standing next to her car. The vehicle won't start, but fortunately there's a hotel close by. As it turns out, that's where Lorelei is supposed to be to help an artist complete his magnum opus. This is a place where time is nebulous. It's 1963, but there are computers where you save your progress and a Game Boy-style system to use. The hotel is the only real constant, and even that is built out of puzzles.The visuals are astonishing, even on the Nintendo Switch. Shocks of Giallo-esque reds and pinks frequently punch through the monochromatic environments. The design language is unusual yet meticulously crafted to guide you from one puzzle to the next until Lorelei's photographic memory is overflowing with conundrums to conquer.There are all kinds of riddles to solve here, and they all feel intertwined. At first, you’ll have a few simple math problems to figure out. From there, you’ll be dealing with everything from mazes to pattern matching and spatial awareness puzzles. You’ll need a decent grasp of Roman numerals and the ability to pull together disparate scraps of information. Unfortunately for my scatterbrained self, plenty of logical thinking is required.I’m nowhere close to finishing Lorelei. Even so, I already appreciate the way that Simogo slotted the intricately layered puzzles together. My only quibble in the early going is the over-reliance on padlocks and three-digit codes that secure document tubes.My brain is not well tuned for logic-heavy puzzles, so I need to be in the right mindset before sitting down with Lorelei for an hour or two. I want to savor this one at my own pace over the coming weeks and months. I'll forego guides and try to figure out another of Simogo’s strange, intoxicating worlds by myself.While Lorelei gives the player an in-game manual in the opening moments, Animal Well offers barely any guidance at all. You (as a squishy little meatball thing) emerge from a flower into a cave with a large, ghostly squirrel on one side. It's not clear which direction to move in, what the objective is, what your character is or why you're there. All you can do is explore and try to figure it all out.This has been described as a Metroidvania, a format that sees players backtracking to unlock a new area once they acquire a certain skill or upgrade. It’s taking most folks between four and six hours to finish the main game. But Animal Well is really more of a puzzle platformer. If you know what to do and how to do it, it’s possible to beat the game in a few minutes.That’s part of Animal Well’s charm and beauty. Solo developer Billy Basso has weaved an intricate web of secrets, many of which are hidden in the shadows of its gorgeous pixel art (the game feels great too, thanks to smart use of haptic feedback on the PS5's DualSense controller). Without spoiling anything, I appreciate that the puzzles, many of which are traversal-based, are often open-ended. There are ways to progress even if you don't use an intended item or route.I don't find the puzzles here nearly as taxing as those in Lorelei. The answers are all there, you just have to poke around and try things to see what happens.The same could be said for Paper Trail from Newfangled Games. The painterly art style caught my eye when this started showing up at game showcases a couple of years back. The core mechanic is fascinating too.The aim is to guide protagonist Paige through a swathe of mazy environments toward her goal of attending school and becoming an astrophysicist. But there are many obstacles in her way. Fortunately, Paige (and the player) can bend reality. This means folding over the edges of the world, which has two plains — just like a piece of paper — to open up new paths.Newfangled finds clever ways of building on the central idea and the difficulty curve is fair but challenging. Paper Trail has a nice hint system that shows what folds to make, but not how to move Paige or any objects around.Although the controls can be finicky, even while playing it on mobile (where it's available for Netflix subscribers), it's perhaps the puzzle game I've found the easiest to engage with lately. I enjoy contorting the world around Paige and lining up some patterns to unlock a path. It's the kind of game that makes me feel smart and satisfied whenever I figure out a solution.I wager that the more I play these games and ones like them, the better I’ll get. We’ve had some downright great puzzle-centric titles over the last few years. Unpacking, Tunic and Cocoon immediately spring to mind. So does Teardown and its wildly fun destructive heists. Planet of Lana, Venba, Viewfinder, Humanity and Jusant were all among my favorite 2023 games in general.I wish I'd been able to get into The Case of the Golden Idol, but I at least appreciate what it was going for. I might also finally get around to checking out Chants of Sennaar now that it's on Game Pass.The puzzle games keep coming, as a Zelda-style adventure called Isles of Sea and Sky just popped up and grabbed my attention. And then there’s Indika, which sounds both deeply strange and remarkably mature.In any case, as in all great puzzle games, there's a bigger picture. All of these are merely practice for the ultimate test, because a VR version of Taskmaster is coming in June. I'll soon get to find out whether I'm better at lateral thinking than comedians after all.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/its-a-golden-age-of-puzzle-games-even-for-people-who-suck-at-puzzle-games-130024186.html?src=rss
There’s no finer pleasure than starting the day with a slice of hot, fresh bread dripping in salted butter. Poets have waxed on about the joys of transforming so few ingredients into such a beautiful foodstuff for millennia. But unless life has been very good to you, it’s probably not often you wake up to freshly-made bread wafting from your kitchen. Are breadmakers the answer to this, the most first-world of first-world problems? And are they able to match or outdo the stuff I can make by hand?French Bread by handIt was only when we bought our home that I decided that making bread was a skill I had to learn lest I not feel like a Proper Adult. I scoured YouTube for a tutorial and stumbled across this clip by star baker Richard Bertinet. I’ve written before about how comforting and relaxing this video is, and it’s a balm for the soul when you’re having a rough day. Bertinet made this look so easy that anyone could achieve similarly beautiful results. Alas, I could not.Mercifully, this was in the heyday of Twitter when celebrities were all around and happy to talk to fans. So, I asked Bertinet himself and got the necessary advice to remedy my woes — I wasn’t kneading the dough confidently, or for as long enough as I needed to make it work. After that, I was churning out some pretty gorgeous bread on a regular basis and my kids love eating my fougasse.The recipe itself is so simple: 500 grams of strong bread flour, 10 grams of salt, 10 grams of yeast and 350 grams of water. That’s not an error: You stick a measuring jug on a weighing scale and weigh the water for a more accurate measurement. Once mixed, you have to get the dough onto the table and work it. The mix is sticky. Don’t add flour. Trust the process.That means moving the dough, stretching it and folding air into it quickly and aggressively, really working it rather than just kneading it. If you let your hands hold on for too long, your fingers will sink into the mix and then it’s game over trying to get them out. Resist the urge to add more flour to reduce the wetness and instead just focus on keeping it moving until it finally forms. When it does, you’ll be staring at the most beautiful dough you will ever see.Once you’ve left it to rise and subsequently knocked it down, you’ll be able to throw it into the oven. Toss in some water to add some steam and you’ll get a beautifully crusty, tasty loafBreadmakersThere are benefits to breadmakers, including the fact you can have fresh bread made at home and that you can set when the process begins. Toss your ingredients in before you go to bed, set a delay and you’ll wake up with the smell of bread wafting through your home. I’ve been setting my tests to finish at 7am, so by the time we’ve all been dragged by our noses downstairs, it’s ready to go.Unfortunately, in my experience that’s where the upsides to breadmakers stop and the downsides begin. You will never get the same quality of bread from a machine that you will get mixing the dough by hand.The machines have small paddles that wheel around at the base of the mixing bowl. That action can’t mix hard enough to stretch the protein in the flour that promotes the formation of gluten. And it can’t add the same volume of air into the mix to help create a good rise and a fluffy texture inside. Normal bread recipes don’t work as well since you’ll need to add extras into the mix to improve the flavor (more on this later) and malleability, like milk, sugar and vegetable oil.That little paddle will then lodge itself in the base of your loaf while it bakes, so you’ll need to fish it out every morning. The void in the middle of your bread that’s left behind is big enough to ensure that you won’t be able to slice too much of the loaf for toast or sandwiches.The second big downside, and the one that’s more heartbreaking, is the smell that wafts upstairs each morning isn’t that great. Even on the lightest setting the bread comes out overdone compared to the real thing. No matter what recipe I tried, the smells are overwhelmingly yeasty and sour, which makes me less enthused about the morning feast. What emerges has the physical and mechanical properties of bread but very little actual flavor. Slather it in cold, salted butter all you want but, fundamentally, it just doesn’t hit as good as the most mediocre of store-bought breads.That’s just my opinion, of course, and some folks have justifiable reasons for opting for “mid” bread over no homemade bread at all. But if you must buy a machine to do your breadmaking for you, here are two of the better options on the market.Gastroback Design Automatic Bread Maker ProPhoto by Daniel Cooper / EngadgetMuch as I’m down on breadmakers, there are reasons why I’m quite fond of the Gastroback Automatic Bread Maker Pro. I’m a sucker for an easy user interface and a viewing window, the latter of which will let you keep an eye on how your mix is coming along. Admittedly, no bread maker has an “easy” UI, but this one is tolerable, with each function set with its own dedicated button. The only annoyance is cycling through the program button, and since there are 19 options, you’d better make sure you’re doing it right.After that, you just have to set the three color options (light, medium or dark) and the weight of the dough you’re creating (500g, 750g or 1,000g). It’ll tell you how long it’ll take for your loaf to be baked, and you can add on a delay for however long you need. As for options, the Gastroback will make various breads, mix doughs together for you and will even defrost meals in its pan. I wasn’t brave enough to try the stir fry settings, mind you, where you’re promised to mix and bake dry ingredients like peanuts and soybeans.But the bread it produces is what I’ll describe as “generic breadmaker bread,” which is to say it’s warm and it’s there. No matter what recipes I tried, the results were never that great.T-Fal Pain & Delices Bread MakerPhoto by Daniel Cooper / EngadgetT-Fal looked to set its bread maker apart from its competitors by giving it the ability to do plenty more jobs in your home. You’ll get all the standard stuff like making breads, cakes and mixing doughs for bread, pizza and pasta. But, in the style of all shopping channel adverts, you’ll also be able to use this to make porridge, cook cereals and prepare homemade jelly. Oh, and if you’ve got pasteurized cow’s milk you can use a bundled accessory to churn yogurt and soft cheese.The user interface is pretty much the same as the Gastroback, albeit with some chunkier, better looking buttons. But where it falls down is in the lack of a viewing window, which means you’ll only be able to see how your loaf has developed by lifting the lid. Which, I should add, you can’t do while the bread is baking, so you’ll never know if a problem is developing until it’s done. And the bread it produces is just lackluster, to the point where my kids — who signed up as willing testers at the start of this process — quickly lost interest. Fundamentally, I’m not sure the Tefal is compelling enough to warrant you buying it unless you’re really tolerant of weak bread.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/making-bread-by-hand-is-hard-are-breadmakers-better-120003160.html?src=rss
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports that AI-generated emojis may be one of the new features Apple shows off at WWDC next month. If the current emoji library weren’t overwhelming enough (let alone my increasingly growing sticker collection both on Messages and WhatsApp), Gurman writes that the company “is developing software that can create custom emojis on the fly, based on what users are texting.” Niche food emojis? Yes, please. :tunamayosandwich:– Mat SmithThe biggest stories you might have missedICQ is shutting down on June 26Doctor Who: 73 Yards reviewThe best Memorial Day sale tech deals we could find​​You can get these reports delivered daily direct to your inbox. Subscribe right here!Kobo Clara Colour ereader reviewColor pages steal the show.EngadgetThe Clara Colour is a $150 ereader that taps into Kobo’s own book library (and local libraries), but augments the experience with color book covers. Yes, Kobo beat Kindle to the punch in getting a color ereader out the door. While Amazon is busy experimenting with everything else, ereader-wise, it’s safe to assume that a color Kindle will land at some point. For now, though, Kobo’s Clara Colour is the consumer-friendly color ereader to beat.Of course, I love that Kobo spelled color with a ‘u’, but I’m not sure I can explain why.Continue reading. Somehow, Resident Evil 6 sold over a million copies on SwitchA true horror mystery.Resident Evil 6 has sold surprisingly well on the Nintendo Switch since it was ported to the console in 2019, despite it being almost universally panned by fans. The game was just added to Capcom’s Platinum Titles list, meaning it’s crossed the threshold of one million units sold. Don’t do it to yourself, please. May I suggest the remade RE2 (or 3), or one of the myriad Resident Evil 4 remakes. Or if you feel like having a heart attack, any of the Resident Evil games made for VR.Continue reading.Someone made a Flappy Bird tribute for the PlaydateCrank to flap.PlaydateA Flappy Bird tribute for the Playdate is now available to play, if you’re up for sideloading something onto your cute little crank console. Surprise: using the crank to control the bird makes it even harder.Continue reading.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-morning-after-ai-generated-emoji-could-soon-come-to-the-iphone-111526029.html?src=rss
Ereaders can stuff an entire bookcase into a device that fits in your pocket. They beat reading on a phone or tablet thanks to their E Ink screens that are easier on your eyes. And the text displays so clearly, printed pages look almost fuzzy by comparison. Some screens are even available in color now. We’ve tested models from all the major brands to come up with recommendations for a budget pick, one with buttons and the best ereader overall.What to look for in an ereaderPlenty of apps, including the Kindle app, will let you download and read digital books on a phone or tablet. But what makes ebook readers different is the screen: nearly all of them use technology from a company called E Ink. It manufactures electronic paper displays (EPD) composed of three sheets: one containing millions of microcapsules filled with black and white ink particles sandwiched between transparent electrode layers. When a charge is applied, either the black or white particles shift to the top, forming letters and the whitespace around them.Because these displays are so different from standard LED panels, you can expect most ereaders to do a number of things well. They’ll be easier to stare at for long periods of time and easier to read in direct sunlight. Also, since E Ink displays only require power to rearrange the ink, these devices have much longer battery lives than even the best tablets: we’re talking weeks, not days.The ereader market is not as saturated as, say, the smartphone market, but there are still plenty of options out there and they do have small but important differences among them. They tend to range from around $100 to more than $400, though usually the higher end options are stylus-enabled read/write E Ink tablets like the Kindle Scribe. Beyond price, you should consider physical properties like buttons, lights, storage and resolution, as well as how the software lets you find and access books.Reading featuresWith any ereader, you’ll navigate the OS via taps and swipes, and some add physical page-turn buttons. Most with built-in buttons have an auto-rotating screen so you can press with your right or left hand.As E Ink technology has advanced, resolution has greatly improved – even the budget Kindle ereader has a 300 ppi display. You can still find models with lower resolution, but we don’t recommend them.Some ereaders have front LEDs that support light temperature adjustment. That means you can switch to a warmer light after the sun goes down, which will feel easier on the eyes. If you’re concerned about blue light, you should go for a reader with that feature.Other featuresThe capabilities of these pocket libraries have advanced considerably since the early days. In addition to storing books, some let you browse the web, run apps and play music. The screen’s frame rate can’t handle gaming, but it’s good enough to show you the Wikipedia entry for New Zealand’s South Island while you read Birnam Wood.If you listen to audiobooks, you may want a Bluetooth-enabled ereader capable of playing them. Most of the models we tested have that ability, with the notable exception of the Nook ereader we tried. Keep in mind that audiobook files can take up more space than print files so you'll probably want a device with a higher storage capacity if you plan on doing a lot of listening.Above all, you should consider where and how you intend to find books to read. Most ereaders make it easiest to shop through their own ebook store, but all of them (even Kindles) will now let you download titles from other sources, like libraries, unaffiliated ebook sellers and free public domain sites.Photo by Amy Skorheim / EngadgetHow to get books for your ereaderKindle, Nook and Kobo all have their own stores that you access directly from each brand’s devices. Prices are fairly competitive among the sellers, too – as I write this, the current NYT bestselling fiction ebook is $13 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, eBooks.com and the Kobo store. The top nonfiction release, The Anxious Generation, costs $16 at all four.Amazon offers Kindle Unlimited for $12 per month, and it includes four million titles from which you can pick your next read. It includes audio and ebooks, but you won’t find many big, new releases or older bestsellers. Kobo has a subscription called Kobo Plus with about 1.3 million titles: it goes for $8 per month for ebooks only, $8 for audiobooks only or $10 for both.Buying a book from a proprietary store instantly delivers it to your device, provided you’re connected to WiFi. It also syncs your reading across devices and apps, so you can pick up where you left off on your phone if you forgot your ereader at home. It truly is the most convenient way to go, but if you don’t want to be locked into one brand’s store, or if you opt for an ereader without its own marketplace, you do have options.How to upload ePubs onto an ereaderStores like ebooks.com and Google Play have millions of ebooks for sale as digital rights-managed (DRM) ePub files, which nearly all current ereaders (excluding Kindles) can display. Titles from some publishers like Tor and public domain classics from sites like Project Gutenberg are also sold as ePubs, but without the added DRM. Consequently, Kindles do support those files. Books you get from third-party sources will look just like ones you bought from a proprietary store, thanks to the flowable, formatted nature of ePub files. While these device-agnostic ebook collections give you extra options for finding your next read, they require a few additional steps to get the files onto your ereader.To do so, you’ll typically need a computer running a free program called Adobe Digital Editions (ADE). After buying and downloading the ePub file, open ADE and plug your ereader into your computer. Your device should pop up in the left panel. Drag and drop the ePub file from your downloads folder into the main panel in ADE. The file will display as an image of the book cover. Drag that image onto your device on the left panel. If the file includes digital rights management (which protects against unauthorized copying) you’ll need to authorize your ereader, which requires using or creating a free Adobe ID. Once you’ve finished adding files to upload, eject the reader from your computer to complete the transfer process.Kindles use a web-based uploader instead of the ADE method. But since Kindle uses its own proprietary DRM technology instead of Adobe's, the only files it can accept from third parties are non-DRM files, such as from Tor Publishing or Project Gutenberg. After downloading a compatible ePub file, drag and drop it into your browser with the Send to Kindle page open. As long as you’re signed into Amazon, this wirelessly transfers the files to your associated device.Boox also uses a browser uploader called BooxDrop (along with many other methods) to deliver ePubs to the device. Open it from the Boox App menu and you’ll see a device-specific url. Type that into your browser to access a file delivery portal that uploads to your library. Boox’s built-in ereader app, NeoReader, also doesn’t support files with DRM, so you won’t be able to read current titles from most publishers using that app. Fortunately, Boox devices run nearly every ereader app out there, Kobo and Kindle included, letting you access ePubs any number of ways.How to read library books on an ereaderYour local library card lets you borrow audio and ebooks through a program called Overdrive and its companion app Libby. On a Kobo, you have have built-in access to Overdrive in a separate tab. Once you’ve linked your library card, the search function will include results for titles available from your local library; a few taps will upload your selections to your device for the length of the loan. I personally find it easiest to borrow the title I want through the Libby app on my phone. After that, the book pops up on my Kobo’s home screen once the device syncs.To read library books on a Kindle, you can either go through the Libby app or the Overdrive section of your library’s website. Once you click Borrow, you’ll see the option to “Read now with Kindle,” which takes you to Amazon’s site to sign in. After that, the book will be delivered to your device the next time it connects to WiFi.For other ereaders, you’ll go through your library’s Overdrive portal and download the ePub after clicking the Borrow button. You can then use the ADE process we described above. Devices that run external apps, like the Boox Leaf 2, allow you to read library books via the Libby app, just as you would on a smartphone or tablet.You can also use the Libby app to borrow audiobooks, but you won’t be able to access them through your ereader. (The exception is an ereader, like the Boox Leaf 2, that allows external apps). I found it was easier to listen to an audiobook on my phone anyway, regardless of whether I borrowed it through Libby or bought it from Kindle or Kobo.Photo by Amy Skorheim / EngadgetHow we testedWhen putting together any guide, the first thing we do is spend hours researching the field. We look at what’s available, what’s new, and what shoppers and professional reviewers have to say. Then we narrow a list to the best candidates for hands-on testing.I ended up getting eight ereaders, representing five different brands: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Boox and PocketBook. I bought, borrowed and uploaded books for each device using the methods above. Over the course of four weeks I evaluated each one in the areas of book access, ease of reading, extra features and overall value. Here’s everything we tested so far:Amazon KindleAmazon Kindle PaperwhiteBoox Leaf 2Boox PageBoox Poke 5Boox PalmaKobo Libra 2Kobo Libra ColourKobo Clara 2EKobo Clara ColourKobo NiaNOOK GlowLight 4 PocketBook EraThe best ebook readers for 2024This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-ereader-130013808.html?src=rss
Over the past few years, I’ve developed a peaceful little routine to make up for time spent cooped up inside working on sunny days: after I’ve closed my laptop for the day, I throw my sneakers on, open Pikmin Bloom on my phone, and go for a long walk to clear my head and plant virtual flowers with the 'min.Pikmin Bloom was released for Android and iOS in 2021 by Pokémon Go developer Niantic and Nintendo as another “go outside and touch grass” app, and I’ve been playing it pretty regularly since then. Only recently, when the app announced some special events for its 2.5-year anniversary, did it occur to me how long I’ve actually stuck with it. There isn’t all that much to Pikmin Bloom, but that’s part of the charm — it’s more of a walking buddy than a full-on game. You accumulate Pikmin, feed them nectar so they’ll grow flowers from their heads, then pick the petals and use those to “plant flowers” when you go on walks (don’t think too hard about the science of that, it’s Pikmin).Unlike Pokémon Go, Pikmin Bloom doesn’t require a lot of your attention while you’re walking around, which really appealed to me as someone who likes to stay fully aware of their surroundings while out and about. That, and the promise of being accompanied wherever I go by a horde of quietly singing Pikmin; I just love those weird little guys.I typically get everything set up before I leave for a walk, making sure I have plenty of petals ready to plant. Then I hit the ‘Start’ button and mostly leave the app alone until I take a break or am done with my walk, checking in only here and there to see if I’ve passed anything of interest. You can send your Pikmin on expeditions to pick up fruit or destroy mushrooms that’ll pop up on your map, but you don’t need to be actively walking to do this, as they’ll be recorded on a list you can revisit later. Once I’m back home, I love seeing how many flowers I planted versus how many steps I took (I still haven’t figured out the ratio), and delegating different missions for my Pikmin to tackle.There are frequent events that serve as motivation for reaching certain step count goals or planting a particular number of flowers, including some with community involvement. And, there's the prospect of collecting themed Pikmin who wear special decor outfits. Pikmin Bloom is currently teasing some upcoming Cheese Decor Pikmin for next month, and I’m going to work extra hard to try and get them. While the app does have the potential to lure players into in-app purchases, they’re by no means necessary to get the full experience. I’ve managed to make it this far without spending any money at all.Pikmin Bloom has an AR component similar to Pokémon Go’s, so you can photograph your Pikmin in the real world, but this feature can be pretty glitchy. What’s better than that, in my opinion, are the postcards your Pikmin will sometimes bring back from their travels — they’ve been known to photobomb landmarks in these pictures on occasion. If you have friends in the app, you can send postcards to them too. Pikmin Bloom also has a built-in lifelog, where you can choose a picture from your walk and jot down any notes and feelings from your day. It’s a nice thing to look back on once you’ve racked up a lot of adventures.I’ve tried out plenty of apps over the years that attempt to gamify physical activity, but I almost always lose interest in them pretty quickly. For all its simplicity, Pikmin Bloom adds just the right amount of reward to a walk without distracting from the actual activity. Plus, there are Pikmin.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/pikmin-bloom-has-been-helping-me-meet-my-outdoor-walking-goals-for-years-000025214.html?src=rss
It’s officially ice cream season, and if you’ve been wanting to try your hand at making the dessert yourself, Walmart has a deal you might be interested in. The Ninja Creami ice cream maker is $50 off right now, bringing the price down to $149 — the best price we’ve seen for it all year. The Creami is designed for ease of use and gives you control over the texture of the finished product, so you can make ice cream, sorbet, milkshakes and other kinds of frozen treats.The deal applies to the Ninja Creami model with 5 one-touch progams: Ice Cream, Sorbet, Milkshake, Lite Ice Cream and Mix-in (which lets you toss in embellishments like chocolate chips or nuts). It also comes with two 16oz pints to make and store your ice cream in. The Creami is one of our favorite kitchen gadgets and earned a review score of 90, requiring minimal work on your part to make ice cream with the ingredients of your choice. All you need to do is prep the mixture that will be your base, toss it in the freezer overnight, then pop it in the Creami for processing.The Ninja Creami won’t take up too much counter space, and most of the parts can go in the dishwasher for an easy cleanup after using it. It operates a bit like a food processor, but uses what the company refers to as a Creamerizer Paddle that has two different types of blades to get a uniform texture. There’s one for shaving the frozen base and another for smoothing it all out. It also has dual drive motors that allow for both a spinning motion and downward pressure to make for a good churn.Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-ninja-creami-ice-cream-maker-is-down-to-149-for-memorial-day-201104207.html?src=rss
iOS 18 may inject a little more fun into the iPhone experience. In the Power On newsletter this week, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports that AI-generated emoji will be among the new features Apple shows off at WWDC next month. As if the current emoji library weren’t overwhelming enough, Gurman writes that the company “is developing software that can create custom emojis on the fly, based on what users are texting.” I, for one, cannot wait to see the cursed creations that are sure to come out of that one.Apple is also reportedly making it so iPhone users will have more customization options for their apps and home screen, like the ability to change the color of app icons and arrange things more freely, rather than being locked into the grid layout. The latter especially would be a pretty big change for Apple, but surely a welcome one for any users who have been itching to get more creative with their home screen designs. Of course, these are still rumors, so don’t take any of it as set in stone.There’s been a ton of talk about Apple’s AI plans in the leadup to its annual developers conference, which kicks off on June 10, but rather than debut anything too flashy at this stage, Gurman suggests Apple will stick to practical applications for the technology. Apple is expected to announce a partnership with OpenAI and, according to Gurman, may give an AI boost to things like Safari searches, Siri, photo retouching and voice memo transcriptions. The company may also introduce smart recaps for notifications, web pages and more.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/iphone-users-may-get-ai-generated-emoji-and-more-app-customization-than-ever-with-ios-18-181215663.html?src=rss
Ah, Flappy Bird. It’s been a long time since I last gave any thought to the game-turned-cultural-phenomenon that briefly had us all in a chokehold a decade ago. At least, that was the case until this morning, when I stumbled upon a Reddit post announcing a Flappy Bird tribute for the Playdate and, without a moment’s hesitation, sideloaded it onto my device. Now here I am, absolutely hooked on this maddening little game once again. And, using the crank to control that silly looking bird, it's even harder this time around. FlappyBird by Chibisuke is free and available to download for Playdate on itch.io. You’re welcome... or, I’m sorry.FlappyBird is just like the OG game, but in grayscale. You can play using the up button on the D-pad, the ‘A’ button or the crank to guide the bird between the pipes, but I’ve been going with the latter for the extra challenge it adds. It also just feels like a perfect use of the crank, and I like making the most of the Playdate’s funky design whenever I can. There are other games inspired by Flappy Bird that you can get for the Playdate, like Cranky Bird and Flappybalt, but Chibisuke’s FlappyBird is a direct clone of Dong Nguyen’s infamous side-scroller. It’s definitely one way to get your heart rate up on a Sunday afternoon. Just, please do not ask me about my high score, I… don’t want to talk about it.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/someone-made-a-flappy-bird-tribute-for-the-playdate-that-lets-you-use-the-crank-to-fly-160647496.html?src=rss