19933a67980b351dc5ffa0a6e63fcf98.jpeg

New Human Trafficking Operation Targets Adoptive Families in the U.S.

If the consumerism of the holiday season tells us anything, it’s that for everything, there is a market.

There’s a market for children’s toys, a market for kitchenware a market for outdoor enthusiasts and a market for video gamers, just to name a few.

These days, as unconventional as it may sound, there’s a greater market than ever before for orphaned children in third-world countries. And with more than one million U.S. families trying to adopt each year, it’s a market that human traffickers have taken notice of.

As someone who feels like God placed international adoption on my heart from a young age, it’s easy to understand why so many Americans, and people all over the globe in developed countries, would open their families and lives to children in need. Adoption isn’t just giving the child a better life, it’s giving a family a better life.

At least, that was the experience for Adam and Jessica Davis, an Ohio couple who adopted 5-year-old Namata from Uganda in 2015.

The family paid $15,000 to European Adoption Consultants (EAC). The agency, which is based in Strongsville, Ohio, has arranged thousands of adoptions and matched the family with a 5-year-old girl, who they called Mata.

The Davises were told that Mata had been abandoned by her mom after the father passed away. She had been placed in an orphanage called God’s Mercy Children’s Home, and the Davises were able to fly to Uganda and meet her. In September 2015, they brought her home to Ohio.

But what most would see as a new life for Mata and the Davises quickly turned into an adoptive parent’s worst nightmare.

As Mata became more fluent in English, she began telling Jessica about her life back home in Uganda. She talked about her mother in ways that made everything the Davises had seen on paper sound like a lie.

That’s because it was.

It turns out Mata and her mother had unknowingly become victims of a new form of human trafficking, in which parents in third-world countries are told their child will be temporarily sent away for a better education with the promise of a later return.

What those parents don’t know is that they’re voluntarily putting their child in the hands of traffickers—con artists who are making a hefty paycheck off of the abduction, then adoption of a Ugandan “orphan.”

Mata’s stories led the Davises to question their adoption agency, as well as their own involvement with what they now believed to be human trafficking.

All too often when we hear the term “human trafficking,” we automatically associate it with sexual violence. But that’s not always the case.

Mata was never sold for sex, but she was exploited. Someone financially benefitted from her being abducted and relocated against her will, and the will of her mother.

Through research and the help of Reunite Uganda, Jessica was able to track down Mata’s mother. The organization arranged a Skype call between the two, and Mata pressed for answers. Why did her mother give her away?

“My mom was tricked,” she says after the call. “My mom was tricked.”

Jessica and Adam now faced an impossible decision.

Do they keep their daughter, who they’ve legally adopted and been granted parental guardianship to, or do they send her back to her biological mother?

“If our child had been taken from us, we would want them back,” Adam says.

The couple agreed that they would return Mata to her mother.

The Davises filed to have the adoption vacated, and one year after being brought home to the United States, Mata and her adoptive parents made their way back to Uganda, to reunite her with her mother.

Since Mata’s story, along with at least three others, has been brought to the attention of the United States as well as Ugandan government, God’s Mercy Children’s Home has been shut down, and the EAC is under FBI investigation.

Of course, the actions of few should not lead to the inaction of many. There are legitimate orphanages in third-world countries who work with legitimate adoption agencies here in the states.

The best advice: Do your research. There were no warning signs that the Davises had chosen to work with an agency who did bad business on one end or another. But there are ways to ensure your adoption agency and the processing of your adoption is ethical.

The U.S. Department of State’s website offers a comprehensive list of accredited agencies, including the more than 75 countries affiliated with Hague Adoption Convention—an international agreement enacted to safeguard intercountry adoptions.

Adoption.com suggests asking lots and lots of questions—and not being afraid to ask even more. According to their website, every agency should be willing to share contract information, proof of a valid license, their scheduling fee and estimated adoption expenses, information about their in-country relationships with social services, private orphanages and facilitators, as well as their overall mission concerning the well-being of both children and birth parents they represent.

There are thousands of children in the world who desperately need a loving forever home. The market for orphans in third-world countries has a direct line back to the United States with over one million families trying to adopt each year. That means we don’t stop from fear of scam, but we press on, knowing how to be smart in our pursuit of adopting a child through a legitimate and reputable agency.

Read more: https://faithit.com/new-human-trafficking-operation-targets-adoptive-families-in-the-u-s/

a1c21a3994fb5f157c8c6e68d194650a.jpeg

The Best Cyber Monday Gaming Deals We’ve Found So Far

We’ve already published our favorite Cyber Monday deals for 2017, but we’re making some topic-specific guides to help you navigate the immense number of deals going on over the extended Thanksgiving weekend. There are a lot of excellent gaming deals going on, and we’ve gathered some of the best right here, all available online in the spirit of Cyber Monday.

(Be sure to check out our Cyber Monday deals guide for a lot more sales.)

Handpicked WIRED Cyber Monday Guides:

Gaming Service Deals

1 Year of PlayStation Plus – $40 ($20 off)

Buy on Amazon

If you own a PS4, you need PS Plus to play online. It also gives you access to a few free games each month. This is an easy way to save a few bucks on a service that's basically required.

1 Year of Xbox Live Gold- $50 ($10 off)

Buy on Amazon

If you have an Xbox, Xbox Live Gold is a no-brainer. Not only does it get you online multiplayer access, it also nabs you a few Games with Gold each month you can play for absolutely free. So this is basically just $10 off what you already have to pay for.

Gaming Hardware Deals

SanDisk MicroSD Cards (For Switch) on Deep Discount (40% off)

Buy 64GB MicroSD for $15 ($10 off) on Amazon

Buy 128GB MicroSD for $30 ($20 off) on Amazon

A big MicroSD card is a must-have for any Nintendo Switch owner. We recommend at least 64GB, but the more the merrier. These prices are excellent, so load up!

Logitech Prodigy Gaming Headset – $35 ($35 off)

Buy on Amazon

This is a quality wired gaming headset that will work with PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and other sources. We haven't tested it, but it has strong reviews around the web. At $35, it's a great deal.

Xbox One S Console Bundle – $190 ($60 off)

Buy on Microsoft Store (extra game included), B&H Photo, $229 on Amazon, Jet

A number of retailers will offer the Xbox One S for $190 throughout Cyber Weekend. This is a very low price, and unless you have a 4K TV with HDR, there’s no reason to get a One X over a One S this holiday. The Microsoft Store has the best deal of the bunch. It includes a free game and one month Game Pass.

PlayStation 4 Pro 1 TB – $350 ($50 off)

Buy on Walmart, Amazon

Walmart has the PS4 Pro at the lowest price we've seen this season. $50 might not seem like a big discount, but this powerful console rarely dips below its $400 price, so every little bit helps.

Turtle Beach Ear Force Xbox One Wired Gaming Headset – $40 ($20 off)

Buy on Amazon

This Turtle Beach headset will connect right to your Xbox One controller. Like all Turtle Beach headsets, the sound is clear and the headset doesn't get in your way.

Blackout Yeti USB Microphone and Assassin's Creed Origins Bundle – $92 ($48 off)

Buy on Amazon

An amazing value on this bundle. The game is almost free.

Razer Mano'war Gaming Headset – $119 ($50 off)

Buy on Razer

Razer's award-winning wireless gaming headset for the PC is at a discount. PC/Mac/PS4 only. Sorry Xbox fans.

Razer Kraken Gaming Headset – $80 ($20 off)

Buy on Razer

Need a PC-compatible USB headset? One of Razer's best is $20 off right now.

New Nintendo 3DS XL – $179 ($20 off)

Buy on Walmart

If you can't afford a Nintendo Switch, the Nintendo 3DS has a back catalog of awesome games that can't be beat, and all for pennies on the dollar. Save $20 on the latest 3DS console. If you don't care about 3D (and you don't need to), you can save another $30 with the new 2DS XL, which we highly recommend.

Oculus Rift with Touch Controllers Bundle – $350 ($50 off)

Buy on Amazon

The Rift keeps getting cheaper, and that's a great thing for anyone who wants to try out VR. If you're thinking of buying into high-end VR this year on your PC, the Rift likely won't get cheaper.

PS4 and Xbox One Controllers – $40 ($20 off)

Buy PS4 Controllers on Amazon, Best Buy (Crystal Red), Walmart (Crystal Blue)

Buy Xbox One Controllers on Amazon, Microsoft Store

PS4 controllers seem like they run out of juice every day or two, and they always cost at least $60 to replace. If you’re in need, most Sony DualShock controller colors will be $40 all week, and Microsoft is discounting many versions of its Xbox One controller to match. Best Buy and Walmart have some new exclusive DualShock colors, as well.

PlayStation VR Headset with Skyrim VR – $350 ($100 off)

Buy Skyrim VR Bundle on GameStop, Target, Best Buy

Sony’s PlayStation VR headset (read WIRED’s review) works with any PS4, and it’s finally coming down in price. This bundle comes with a special version of Skyrim, two motion controllers, the headset, and camera. B&H Photo has a similar PSVR bundle with PlayStation Worlds, if the Skyrim VR version sells out.

PlayStation VR Headset with Gran Turismo Sport – $299 ($100 off)

Buy on Amazon

Even though this bundle includes fewer accessories, it's still an affordable way to get into a new PSVR headset. Includes PSVR, the PS4 Camera, and Gran Turismo.

PlayStation VR Headset (by itself) – $200 ($100 off)

Buy on GameStop

If you don't need the games, but still want the headset, it is on sale as well. You can purchase games digitally through Sony's PlayStation Store.

Nintendo Switch Travel Case – $10 ($20 off)

Buy on Amazon

If you own a Nintendo Switch, you should get a case for it. It's screen will scratch if you're not careful. This travel case is perfect for packing in your luggage.

Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Comfort Grip – $10 ($5 off)

Buy on Amazon

If you need a second grip for your Joy-Cons, seize the moment! Highly recommended if you buy extra Joy-Cons.

Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Charging Dock – $19 ($11 off)

Buy on Amazon

This charging dock works for up to four Joy-Cons at a time, which really means you can own as many as six and still get them charged regularly.

Video Game Deals

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus – $25 ($25 off)

Buy on Amazon, GameStop

The critically acclaimed, brand new Wolfeinstein game is half off today on Xbox, PS4, and only $30 on PC.

Tekken 7 for PS4 – $25 ($25 off)

Buy on Newegg

The newest edition of the long-running fighting series is finally down to a price worth checking out.

Overwatch (Game of the Year Edition) for PC – $30 ($30 off)

Buy on Amazon

The digital version of Overwatch is on sale for PC (only). Overwatch is one of the few multiplayer games that’s held interest for a year and a half now, and shows no signs of losing its community yet. With more maps and more characters, it’s better than ever.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War – $25 ($35 off)

Buy on Amazon, GameStop

Physical copies of Shadow of War are on sale. The game has a complex nemesis system and brings you into Peter Jackson's vision of the Lord of the Rings universe well.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole – $44 ($15 off)

Buy on Amazon, $50 on Walmart

Like The Stick of Truth, the latest South Park game is a well-made old-school RPG, and looks exactly like an episode of the TV show. It’s difficulty settings will also surprise you. The game is on sale for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle for Nintendo Switch – $51 ($9 off)

Buy on Amazon

You wouldn't think that a game filled with Ubisoft's annoying Rabbids would be fun, but you'd be wrong. This is a fun and utterly absurd Mario crossover collaboration that is worth picking up.

Madden 18 for Xbox One – $36 ($24 off)

Buy on Amazon

This year's new Madden game is already half-off in download form. The PS4 version has sold out.

Civilization VI – $30 ($30 off)

Buy for Mac on Amazon

Buy for Windows on Amazon

Sid Meier's Civilization is one of the defining gaming series since the dawn of the PC gaming era, and it's better than ever. This installment is the newest and got near universal praise upon its release.

Destiny 2 – $50 ($10 off)

Buy on Walmart

Destiny 2 improves on a lot of the issues players had with the first Destiny and at $30, it’s very affordable for a relatively new game. Developer Bungie continues to fill the game with new content on a regular basis, as well.

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Explorer’s Edition – $60

Buy on Amazon, Best Buy, Target

Breath of the Wild is a serious candidate for Game of the Year, and one of the best reasons to buy a Nintendo Switch (which Amazon is working to restock as quickly as possible). This special version comes with a special two-sided map of Hyrule and an Explorer’s Guide with extra lore and fun info about the game.

Fallout 4 (Game of the Year Edition) – $30 ($20 off)

Buy on Amazon

Fallout 4 has been going strong for a few years now. If you haven't played it yet, now is a great time.

Doom for PS4 – $20 ($10 off)

Buy on Amazon, Best Buy

Doom is scary and twisted, but also a very fun single player game with some solid multiplayer components. At $20, it’s hard to pass up.

Toys That Gamers Will Love

No, they're not video games, but you'll love them anyway!

Acton Blink S – $419 ($280 off)

Buy on Acton Global

Fast enough to go 15 mph and with integrated lights, the Blink S is the perfect toy for when you have to disconnect from the virtual world for a few minutes. Or, you know, commute to work. It functions as a normal longboard when the battery runs out.

LittleBits Star Wars Droid Creator Kit – $79 ($20 off)

Buy on Walmart, Amazon

We will keep picking and picking this toy to prove that it's one of the best and most enjoyable way to indulge both a bot-building hobby and a Star Wars fixation.

Lego Star Wars sets (10-50% off)

Buy on Amazon

If you've never built the Millenium Falcon, now's your chance. You're never too old for Legos.

Pixel Pals Light-Up Gaming Figurines – $10 ($5 off)

Buy on Amazon

Pixel Pals are fun pixelated versions of many iconic video game characters, including Mario, Luigi, Sonic the Hedgehog, Master Chief, and more. They light up and are a great desk item. Some of the models are on sale.

ThinkGeek has a Lot of Sales For Cyber Monday

Buy on ThinkGeek

Want a Super Mario Star for your Christmas tree? An R2-D2 screwdriver? A set of Christmas lights that look like potion bottles? ThinkGeek keeps adding interesting and crazy items every day, right through Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday Ads for 2017:

We’ve sifted through the mess of deals, but if you want to look for yourself, here are some links. Many of these ads may not be live until day-of.

Deal Graveyard

Nintendo Switch Extra Joy-Cons – $68 ($12 off)

Buy on Amazon

If you like to play multiplayer games, it never hurts to have a few extra Joy-Cons around. You can get 2 extra (one for each side of your Switch) for a bit less right now.

Nintendo Switch Console – $300 (Hard to find)

Buy on Amazon, GameStop

It's not on discount, but if you hope to get a Nintendo Switch in time for Christmas or another holiday, we highly recommend you order it now. Amazon is currently out of stock, but is still accepting orders and Nintendo is ramping up availability over the holidays.

FIFA 18 – $30 ($30 off)

Buy on Amazon

Prefer football to American football? FIFA 18 is also half-off right now.

Risk: Halo Legendary Edition Board Game – $36 ($14 off)

Buy on Amazon

Risk can decimate friendships and tear families apart, but we still love it. This edition has a 60-inch, super long map of the Halo ring and separate 2-player maps with a smaller version of the ring. It also boasts "faster gameplay," but no game of Risk is ever too fast.

Sphero BB-8 App-Enabled Droid – $130 ($20 off)

Buy on Jet

A loyal little droid for the Star Wars fan in your life to send on missions, or simply to clutch while watching the Force awaken.

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we earn a small affiliate commission. Read more about how this works.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/black-friday-cyber-monday-video-game-deals/

73536358f2eca80df9e6fa13c0cd0d81.jpeg

Lofelt raises $5.4M to develop next-gen haptic tech for gaming, AR, VR, automobile, and more

Lofelt, a Berlin-based startup that is developing ‘next-generation’ haptic technology for use in a range of products — including gaming, AR, VR, automobile, consumer electronics, toys, medical, and entertainment — has raised $5.4 million in Series A funding. Leading the round is Wolfman.One, with participation from Q Venture Partners, Coparion, and previous backer Horizons Ventures.

Lofelt describes its mission as wanting to “create a natural connection between people and their digital devices” via improved haptic feedback tech, and argues that until now the technology hasn’t benefited from the same pace of innovation seen in screen and audio technologies. To address this, the company has created a hardware and software platform designed to let companies add haptic features to their products and which takes the tech’s utility beyond gaming or mobile phones.

It is also the startup behind the rather left-field Basslet, a watch-styled “subwoofer” that vibrates to create a sub bass-like sensation for an improved audio experience when coupled with headphones. That proved an interesting use of Lofelt’s tech but as a standalone product our very own Brian Heater came away unconvinced.

“Whilst conventional actuator companies like ALPS, Precision Microdrives, AAC Technologies only produce hardware, Lofelt is the only company delivering the complete hardware, software and user-experience solution, ready for mass-production,” a spokesperson for the startup tells me.

“Lofelt’s technology offers three distinct advantages compared to other solutions: Our actuators are completely silent, the audio-driven concept drives our actuators over a wide frequency band, producing ultra-realistic haptic feedback, [and our] software is designed in conjunction with our hardware, resulting in optimum power, control and efficiency”.

As a result, Lofelt’s haptic solution for gaming & VR can be integrated without the need for additional developer support. “It delivers rich and realistic haptics with all games, movies and music out of the box,” says the company.

Meanwhile, Lofelt says it will use the additional financing to invest in expanding its Berlin-based engineering team to accelerate development of new user experiences and technologies. It isn’t disclosing which companies are using its tech, except to say that the startup is in talks with some of the leaders in the gaming, VR/AR, mobile, music and automotive industries. In addition, the company is developing an academic program, which already has participation from four unnamed major Universities.

Adds Daniel Büttner, co-founder and CEO of Lofelt, in a statement: “In the near future, Lofelt’s technology will allow the use of high-definition touch feedback to deliver truly natural sensory interactions between people and their devices. We don’t see this as being limited to just smartphones and gaming, but instead will become prevalent across nearly all industries. We are on a mission to prove that haptics complete the audio-visual experience and our investment will be the vehicle for making this vision a reality”.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/13/lofelt/

00a75271d8895e3568594d6019111d6f.png

I watched 1,000 hours of YouTube Kids content and this is what happened

The multicolored slurry of user generated content that for years has been successfully netting millions of kids’ eyeballs on YouTube by remixing popular cartoon characters to crudely act out keyword search scenarios leered into wider public view this week, after writer James Bridle penned a scathing Medium post arguing the content represents “a kind of violence inherent in the combination of digital systems and capitalist incentives”.

What do you get if you endlessly recombine Spiderman and the Joker with Elsa from Frozen and lashings of product placement for junk food brands like McDonalds?

A lot of views on YouTube, clearly. And thus a very modern form of children’s ‘entertainment’ that can clearly only exist on a vast, quality-uncontrolled, essentially unregulated, algorithmically incentivized advertising platform with a very low barrier to entry for content creators, which judges the resulting UGC purely on whether it can lift itself out of the infinite supply of visual soup by getting views — and do so by being expert at pandering to populist childish cravings, the keyword search criteria that best express them and the algorithms that automatically rank the content.

This is effectively — if not yet literally — media programming by SEO-optimized robots.

And, as Marshall McLuhan wrote in 1964, the medium is the message.

… because it is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action. The content or uses of such media are as diverse as they are ineffectual in shaping the form of human association. Indeed, it is only too typical that the “content” of any medium blinds us to the character of the medium. It is only today that industries have become aware of the various kinds of business in which they are engaged. When IBM discovered that it was not in the business of making office equipment or business machines, but that it was in the business of processing information, then it began to navigate with clear vision.

Insofar as kids are concerned, the message being generated via YouTube’s medium is frequently nonsensical; a mindless and lurid slurry of endlessly repurposed permutations of pilfered branded content, played out against an eerie blend of childish tunes, giddily repeating nursery rhymes, and crude cartoon sound effects.

It’s a literal pantomime of the stuff kids might think to search for. And it speaks volumes about the dysfunctional incentives that define the medium.

After the latest outcry about disturbing UGC intentionally targeting kids on YouTube, Google has said it will implement new policies to age-restrict this type of content to try to prevent it ending up in the YouTube Kids app, though a prior policy forbidding “inappropriate use of family characters” clearly hasn’t stemmed the low-brow flow of pop-culture soup.

The maniacal laughter that appears to be the signature trope of this ‘genre’ at least seems appropriate.

McLuhan’s point was that content is intrinsically shaped by the medium through which we obtain it. And that it’s mediums themselves which have the power to enact structural change by reconfiguring how humans act and associate en masse.

The mindless cartoon noise mesmerizing kids on YouTube might be the best visual example of that argument yet. Even if McLuhan thought analyzing content itself would merely distract from appropriate critical analysis of mediums.

All you have to do is imagine the unseen other half of these transactions: Aka all those unmoving toddlers staring into screens as they consume hours and hours of junk soup.

The thriving existence of such awful stuff, devised with the sole intent of generating high volumes of ad revenue by being structured so as to be likely to be surfaced via search and recommendation algorithms, is also a perfect example of how the content humans can be most easily persuaded to consume (aka clickbait) and the stuff that might be most intellectually profitable for them to consume are two very different things.

Algorithmically organized mega platforms like YouTube may host quality content but are expert at incentivizing the creation and consumption of clickbait — thanks to ad-targeting business models that are fed by recommendation systems which monitor user inputs and actions to identify the most clickable and thus most addictive stuff to keep feeding them.

(This is not just a problem with kid-targeting content, of course. On the same dysfunctional theme, see also how quickly disinformation spreads between adults on Facebook, another ad-funded, algorithmically organized mega platform whose priorities for content are that it be viral as often as possible.)

Where kids are concerned, the structure of the YouTube medium demonstrably rewards pandering to the most calorific of visual cravings. (Another hugely popular kids’ content format regularly racking up millions and millions of views on YouTube are toy unboxing videos, for example.) Thereby edging out other, more thoughtful content — given viewing time is finite.

Sure, not all the content that’s fishing for children’s eyeballs on YouTube is so cynically constructed as to simply consist of keyword search soup. Or purely involve visuals of toys they might crave and pester their parents to buy.

Some of this stuff, while hardly original or sophisticated, can at least involve plot and narrative elements (albeit frequently involving gross-out/toilet humor — so it’s also the sort of stuff you might prefer your kids didn’t spend hours watching).

And sure there have been moral panics in the past about kids watching hours and hours of TV. There are in fact very often moral panics associated with new technologies.

Which is to be expected as mediums/media are capable of reconfiguring societies at scale. Yet also often do so without adequate attention being paid to the underlying technology that’s causing structural change.

Here at least the problems of the content have been linked to the incentive-structures of the distributing platform — even if wider questions are getting less scrutiny; like what it means for society to be collectively captivated by a free and limitless supply of visual mass media whose content is shaped by algorithms intent only on maximizing economic returns?

Perhaps the penny is starting to drop in the political realm at least.

While kids’ TV content could (and can) be plenty mediocre, you’d be hard pressed to find so many examples of programming as literally mindless as the stuff being produced at scale for kids to consume on YouTube — because the YouTube medium incentivizes content factories to produce click fodder to both drive ad revenue and edge out other content by successfully capturing the attention of the platform’s recommendation algorithms to stand a chance of getting views in the first place.

This dismal content is also a great illustration of the digital axiom that if it’s free you’re the product. (Or rather, in this case, your kid’s eyeballs are — raising questions over whether lots of time spent by kids viewing clickbait might not be to the detriment of their intellectual and social development; even if you don’t agree with Bridle’s more pointed assertion that some of this content is so bad as to be being intentionally designed to traumatize children and so, once again looping in the medium, that it represents a systematic form of child abuse.)

The worst examples of the regurgitated pop culture slurry that exists on YouTube can’t claim to have even a basically coherent narrative. Many videos are just a series of repetitious graphical scenarios designed to combine the culled characters in a mindless set of keyword searchable actions and reactions. Fight scenes. Driving scenes. Junk food transaction scenes. And so it goes mindlessly on.

Some even self-badge as “educational” content — because in the middle of a 30 minute video, say, they might display the word “red” next to a red-colored McDonald’s Big Mac or a Chupa Chups lollipop; and then the word “blue” next to a blue-colored Big Mac or a Chupa Chups lollipop; and then the word “yellow”… and so on ad nauseam.

If there’s truly even a mote of educational value there it must be weighed against the obvious negative of repetitious product placement simultaneously and directly promoting junk food to kids.

Of course this stuff can’t hold a candle to original kids’ comics and cartoon series — say, a classic like Hanna-Barbera’s Wacky Races — which generations of children past consumed in place of freebie content on YouTube because, well, ad-funded, self-sorting, free-to-access digital technology platforms didn’t exist then.

Parents may have hated on that content too at the time — criticizing cartoons as frivolous and time-wasting. But at least such series were entertaining children with well developed, original characters engaged in comic subplots sitting within coherent, creative overarching narratives. Kids were learning about proper story structure, at very least.

We can’t predict what wider impact a medium that incentivizes factory line production of mindless visual slurry for kids’ consumption might have on children’s development and on society as a whole. But it’s hard to imagine anything positive coming from something so intentionally base and bottom-feeding being systematically thrust in front of kids’ eyeballs.

And given the content truly has such an empty message to impart it seems logical to read that as a warning about the incentive structures of the underlying medium, as Bridle does.

In truth, I did not watch 1,000 hours of YouTube Kids’ content. Ten minutes of this awful stuff was more than enough to give me nightmares.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/12/i-watched-1000-hours-of-youtube-kids-content-and-this-is-what-happened/

f0b246ef60109a50ad285faad48d75a5.jpeg

4 TechCrunch writers bought the iPhone X. Here are our thoughts

Happy iPhone X day! A few of us over here at TechCrunch received our new toys today and wanted to share some initial thoughts with y’all.

Leggo.

First up, Megan Rose Dickey, the lunatic who at one point told co-workers she felt like she was on drugs during her initial iPhone X exploration:

I could barely sleep last night because I knew that at some point today, my iPhone X would arrive. After getting showered and dressed, I went on over to my parents’ place, where I was set to receive the shipment.

FedEx arrived around 11am PT this morning and I promptly lost my shit. The first thing I did, obviously, was try out the animoji. Here’s one I sent to my colleague Darrell Etherington.

The animoji are great, but now I want anibitmoji, ya know? Anyway, the Face ID works like magic and I love it.

Next up, Sarah Buhr, who did not feel she was on drugs but was definitely grinning from ear-to-ear when the UPS guy arrived today:

My previous phone was an iPhone 6 with a hairline crack on the screen I never bothered to fix so the X was a much needed upgrade. It’s also a beautiful piece of machinery. I’m still setting it up this afternoon but so far Face ID seems to work very well. It even recognizes me with glasses on or off.

The camera lives up to the hype, too. Hi-res, high-quality. I took a pic of my living room against the window and the light and color still balanced well. Nice touch!

One thing I would like to skip is the need to swipe up after the phone IDs your face. The swiping takes some getting used to and there’s a lot of swiping with this phone. Why not just ID my face and let me in?

And Darrell Etherington, who reserved the phone for pick-up in-store first thing Friday morning so he could check out the launch-day hype in person:

This iPhone replaces the iPhone 8 Plus I had been using (which is now on its way to a new home with my dad). It’s already a huge step-up from the Plus line for me just because of the size, since it’s a lot smaller without sacrificing much screen real estate.

I, too, love the Animoji – I’ve been using them like you’d use voice messages on WhatsApp or WeChat, since they’re incredibly easy to record and I feel like if I’m asking about dinner plans it’s just better coming from a pig or a panda.


I’m also surprised at how quickly I adapted to Face ID, which I never thought would even approach Touch ID in terms of convenience. I now already find myself assuming it’s going to work on the 8 Plus and my iPad Pro, and taking a minute to remember to use my thumb or finger instead.

Fitz Tepper depended on the hospitality of his hotel and a backup order to make absolutely sure he was ready and armed with iPhone X on day one of availability:

I’m pretty weird about needing to get Apple devices the morning they come out. Old-timers will remember my first-ever post on TC was when I camped out at the only store in the U.S. to have the Apple Watch on launch day.

SO, when I found out I’d be in Chicago for a conference on the big day, I had to prepare accordingly. I stayed up until 3am on preorder day and somehow managed to get one sent to my hotel, and another one to my house. The idea was that my flight back home was at 4pm, and there was no way I’d be thwarted by a late UPS delivery. Worst case I’d just have the hotel ship me the second one to return or give to a family member.

Anyways, I’m just now getting it up and running — and my only initial thoughts are regarding the size and screen. It’s so small! Coming from many years of using iPhone pluses, it’s weird typing on a smaller keyboard. Of course the trade-off is that the device itself feels great, and fits perfectly in your hand.

One other weird thing that’s going to take getting used to — no home button. I have 10 years of home button muscle memory, and that’s definitely not going to be fixed overnight.

We’re by no means trying to sell you on the iPhone X. It’s super expensive and a lot of us will be paying it off for quite some time. But if you like the latest and greatest technology, this is it. Check out TC’s official iPhone X review here.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/03/4-techcrunch-writers-bought-the-iphone-x-here-are-our-thoughts/

3dfcc2a2043f743028435441328855a4.png

Oculus Dash replaces your computer monitor with VR

Oculus Rift has a whole new user interface that lets you customize your VR Home space and replace your traditional computer monitor with nearly unlimited VR screenspace. Oculus Core 2.0 is rolling out in beta in December.

Oculus Dash

Dash is reminiscent of a Minority Report-style interface, where windows dangle in the air and can be moved around with the wave of a hand. Dash will let you code inside VR, but also bring along your favorite desktop experiences like Facebook and Messenger, YouTube, Spotify and even Google Chrome.

Oculus Dash lets you use traditional desktop computer apps, code and communicate with friends all at once

The Oculus Dash preview showed an app picker that includes Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Spotify and Google Chrome

Developers will especially enjoy the ability to debug VR apps while actually running them via Visual Studio, Unity and Unreal. Screens appear in full-fidelity inside Dash, and you can access the rest of your PC beyond the core apps.

Customizable Home

The revamped Oculus Home lets you make your startup screen for Rift into your fantasy geek palace. You can pick all sorts of sensible or sci-fi furnishings, like art, seating and toys. You can show off trophies of your in-game achievements, and even play retro video games by popping cartridges into old-school game machines. Oculus is planning to let you hang out with friends inside Home in the future.

It all seems heavily inspired by Aech’s basement headquarters from Ready Player One. Creating a familiar, customizable spaces inside VR could get people more hooked on Oculus’ products. The Sims proved insanely popular, and the new Oculus Home could let you build your virtual home around you rather than beneath you.

Meanwhile, Dash could be the answer for developers and others who rig together multiple physical monitors to give them extra screenspace. Dash will make the screen all around you, so you could shove your music app behind you, and leave chat apps in the sky while your whole front-facing view is consumed by the work at hand. Spending whole work days inside VR sounds a bit exhausting, but for hardcore multi-taskers, Dash could truly be the new computing platform Mark Zuckerberg envisioned when he acquired Oculus.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/11/oculus-dash/

fefee7c604976612800a889123f4b654.jpeg

What Your AIM Screen Name Says About The Type Of Awkward Middle Schooler You Were

A few weeks ago, Toys ‘R’ Us declared bankruptcy and we all thought, “Okay so my childhood is officially dead.” Now, I regret to inform you that your middle school years are also dead,  because AIM is shutting down after 20 years of faithful service. Shocked to find out that AIM is still a thing? Same. But also like, nooooo don’t go! Anyone who was anyone in seventh grade had AIM—unless you had MSN Messenger, aka the Android of messaging apps—and it was where all the juiciest shit went down. Seriously. Raise your hand if you ever had a “boyfriend” who you solely communicated with on AIM and never spoke to IRL. *Raises both hands and feet*

Important AIM features included: 1) your buddy profile, which you could use to shout-out your friends and post cryptic song lyrics so people would know you are sad and give you attention, 2) away messages, which you could use to tell people you were briefly leaving your computer (this was before we took our computers with us everywhere), and, most importantly, 3) your screen name. Creating your screen name, obviously, was an enormous life decision. Right up there with where you’re going to college and what cool accessories you should get for your locker. So what did your first screen name say about your middle school self? In honor of AIM, we investigate:

Sports Related Screen Name – You’re Basic

Ex: SoccerGurl787

You’re 14 years old and lack a personality, so when it comes to creating a cute nickname that represents you, you went with a very simple formula: thing your mom makes you do + your gender + your birthday. You were probably also a baby prostitute an avid Abercrombie + Fitch shopper, and may or may not have a Juicy tracksuit or two in your closet. Uggs: yes. Opinions: no. That’s how you rolled in middle school. Hopefully that’s changed, but I doubt it.

Song Lyrics/Band Name – You Were An Emo Kid

Ex: FallOutGurlXXX

Cue the teen angst. Anyone with a band/music related screen name back in the day wanted you to know two things: They shop at Hot Topic, and they will someday go on a healthy dose of Prozac (hi!). You’re mad at your mom for…something. You’re not sure what, but you’re fucking sick of it! You can’t wait until she goes out of town so you can dye your hair black, and you often draw big Xs on your hands to show people you “go to shows” or whatever. You have a book of poetry somewhere in your backpack, definitely favor Seth Cohen to Ryan Atwood, and will bankrupt your parents on a tiny New England liberal arts college at some point in your future.

Alternating Upper And Lower Case – You’re Annoying AF

Ex: iLoVeMyCaT212

Oh good Lord. You’re one of those 14-year-olds who hasn’t been diagnosed with ADD yet so you’re just popping off at literally all times. Your teachers are constantly pissed at you, and your friends know to get decaffeinated soda for any sleepovers you may be invited to. You’re probably one of those people who spent 10 hours decorating every inch of their lockers, trapper keepers, and backpacks, and the guidance counselor was genuinely worried you were the world’s youngest crackhead. You will eventually be prescribed Adderall and become a dealer functional member of society.

Pun/Word Play – You’re Some Kind Of Genius Or Something

Ex: I can’t think of one. I’m not good at puns.

Damn. It was 2005 but you were living in 2025. You saw the writing on the wall about where screen names were going, and locked down a cool pun/play on your name early. Now that same screen name is still your handle on Twitter, Insta, and Snapchat. You won the screen name game, and are probably my boss or something now.

Just Your Name – Psychopath

Ex: PatrickBateman5

Any child who is given the option to represent themselves in any way possible and just chooses their own name is a future psycho and should be treated with extreme caution. That’s some serial killer shit. You seriously couldn’t think of a SINGLE defining feature about yourself other than the name your parents gave you at birth? Is that because you’re boring, or because your interests included things like harming animals? Serious question. Get help. 

 

Read more: http://www.betches.com/what-your-screen-name-says-about-you

d1f24b6f4f64db13d69a367042b82886.jpeg

6 Online Trolls Who Are (Almost) Too Creepy For Words

Although it started out as an experiment in friendliness and connectivity, the internet has since become a battlefield where you can get bombarded with death threats, dick pics, and worse, all because you disagreed with some blog post. But there were supposed to be rules. No pets. No elderly. No kids. You know, like the mafia. Except in recent years, it seems that not even children are safe from being used as hate-pinatas for the internet’s scum. For example …

6

Creepy Men Are Hacking Baby Monitors (And Talking To The Kids)

Let’s picture the scene: It’s 7 p.m., you’ve finally put the baby down, and you’re about to enjoy your weekly two hours of uninterrupted sleep. Then, as you drift off to half-a-glass-of-wine dreamland, you hear it — an adult voice coming from the nursery. With a strength equivalent to 12 Incredible Hulks and wielding a throw pillow like a flail, you burst into the room to confront the intruder … who isn’t there. That’s when you realize: The voices, they’re coming from outside the house.

This isn’t the start of a horror movie, but what could happen if you’ve bought a WiFi-connected baby monitor or camera but forgot to change the default password. Some creepy asshole could easily hack into it and start sleep-harassing your child. One mother from Ontario was rocking her baby to sleep when eerie music started playing through the monitor and a possibly/definitely insane person told her they were being watched. In Houston, a nanny was startled mid-change by the monitor commenting that the baby had a “really poopy diaper.” When she confronted the parents about their little prank, they had no idea what was going on. In another case, one couple was awakened by the sounds of someone screaming at their baby to wake up, pausing only to cuss out the father when he moved to unplug the device.


The real daddy’s foot was later looking for that guy’s ass.

But possibly the worst case of infant cyberbullying was in 2015. One family started having some difficulties with their son, who was claiming that a man was talking to him at night. A slightly more nuanced story than “there’s a monster underneath my bed,” but the parents didn’t buy it. One fortuitous night, they caught someone whispering “Wake up little boy, daddy’s looking for you” to their son over the monitor they’d installed in his room. They immediately unplugged the device, though burning down the house and salting the earth would have also been a valid response.

Of course, it didn’t take too long for these baby creepers to find each other and set up a cozy little hive. After one family found that their monitor was playing unsettling and mysterious music (which surely is all music that inexplicably seeps in through a baby monitor) they managed to trace the IP address of whomever had accessed it. To their surprise / utter disgust, they discovered a whole goddamn website of people dedicated to plugging themselves into baby monitors, allowing perverts and sociopaths with only grandma-ish levels of tech literacy to create someone’s nightmares.

“There’s at least fifteen different countries listed and it’s not just nurseries — it’s people’s living rooms, their bedrooms, their kitchens,” she explained. “Every place that people think is sacred and private in their home is being accessed.”

Change those fucking passwords, guys.

5

Trolls Inflated The Number Of Kids Missing After The Manchester Bombing

On May 22, 2017, some deranged asshole blew himself up in the foyer of a Manchester Arena, which killed 22 concertgoers, wounded hundreds more, and plunged the city into pandemonium. The emergency services and an army of everyday heroes rushed to the devastated site, whilst social media was abuzz with people organizing shelters, transport, and ways for people to get in touch with their missing loved ones. However, this young man wasn’t one of said missing loved ones:

Twitter

This dapper fellow is John, or TheReportOfTheWeek. He lives in the U.S., reviews food on YouTube, and is definitely not the brother of whatever anonymous fuckwit posted this moments after the attack. His picture was one of many Google Image grabs some ghouls were using to bombard the Twitter hashtag with made-up stories of victims. Among the people whose images were used to sow chaos for laughs were some internet celebrities, very Googleable handsome randos, and, because the world is dark and full of terror, a bunch of disabled child models.


Making a “Hey, I wasn’t really killed in a terror attack” vlog probably isn’t something that he was anticipating for his food review series.

When someone tracked down one of the shitheads responsible, they remarked that really, it was the media’s fault for not carrying out basic due diligence in publicizing the identities of these “missing people.” Yeah, stupid media — i.e. random everyday people on Twitter and Facebook — for believing that nobody would sink low enough to intentionally distract people from helping others during a terrorist attack for their own entertainment. Always count on trolls to prove that we all have too much faith in humanity.

4

Griefers Are Destroying Kids Minecraft Worlds

Griefers are people who have fun playing video games by making sure other people aren’t having fun playing video games. Their techniques range from destroying player homes to spamming games with pixelated dicks and swastikas to trying to get others banned to taking over people’s servers. They lie, destroy, and cheat — whatever it takes to rob people of the pleasures they themselves can’t feel in their empty hearts. And the weaker the player, the easier it is to grief them. Like children.

Griefers targeting kids are the worst of the worst. If they can get a small child to give up on their favorite game, they’ve won. What they win, we can’t begin to guess; we’re not criminal psychiatrists. However, we know that the real payoff comes in the form of YouTube videos complete with the high-pitched voices of unhappy kids. And the most popular of all are the Minecraft videos. Since entering the mainstream, Minecraft has become very popular with children, which has infuriated plenty of older players — probably because they make it harder to pretend that Minecraft isn’t just millennial Legos.

Minecraft griefers will pretend to be reviewers from gaming sites so they can lure kids into letting them into their space. Once they’ve infiltrated, they proceed to crash servers, destroy buildings, imprison characters, and basically act like your asshole brother who ruined your pillow fort after you spent a month building it. But as if that kind of cruelty isn’t enough, they then record and publish those children crying on YouTube for the enjoyment of thousands of morally bankrupt human joy-vampires — or teenagers, as we typically call them.

In fact, these videos are so popular that there’s a cottage industry of griefers who have managed to monetize the tears of children. And while this information is enough for most of us to start praying for a meteor to come finish us off like the dinosaurs, others are fighting back. There are guides on how to protect yourself from griefers, and guides for parents on how to handle it, and surprisingly few of advise them to simply start kicking any 14-29-year-old men they meet square in the balls.

And to any kids playing Minecraft reading this: Guides are great, caution is better, but knowledge is best. And know that you’ve already won, because you’re eight and you’re already better at life than these sad, sorry, C- cyberbullies.

3

YouTube Is Crawling With Horrific Gory Remakes Of Kids TV Programs

If you still think bronies are creepy, get with the program. This is 2017, when adults jacking it to rainbow-colored ponies are boring because they aren’t trying to actively scar young children with their mental issues. Not like the new trolls on the block, who intentionally want to traumatize kids via reimaginings of their favorite cartoons all gored up.

Take Peppa Pig, of Peppa Pig fame. On YouTube, there are tons of videos masked as clips from the real show which in truth feature Peppa being put through grotesquely violent things without warning. In one video, Peppa is accosted by a psychotic dentist, who rips her teeth out as she screams in agony.

Another video features Peppa being kidnapped, stabbed, and assaulted by groups of attackers who drag her into the woods while she cries helplessly. The animation isn’t great, but that doesn’t make much difference if you’re three and want to see your favorite pig not be molested.

There are hundreds of examples like this. Popular characters from the likes of Frozen, Thomas The Tank Engine, Despicable Me, Sesame Street, and many others unwillingly star in animated snuff videos. And before you remind us of the fun of Happy Tree Friends, this isn’t meant to be enjoyed by weird adults like us. With channel names like “Toys and Funny Kids Surprise Eggs” (its videos have over five billion views), part of the fun is clearly imagining scores of small children stumbling upon these freak shows and crying all the way to the therapist’s chair.

2

Stormfront Is Tricking Students With A Bullshit MLK Jr. Website

The “alt-right” is all about rewriting history, whether it’s claiming black people couldn’t be Roman legionnaires or pretending that Hitler systematically genocided entire classes of humanity as a bit of a prank, bro. They need to do this because, according to them, history has a deep liberal bias. (It’s also written by the winners, so let that inferiority complex sink in for a moment.) But it’s hard to convince fully formed minds to believe fucked-up white supremacist bullshit instead of legions of respected academics with carefully vetted facts. So when fascists run out of stupid, they have to target the young.

Since the freaking ’90s, the Neo-Nazi website Stormfront has taken to spoofing an official-looking Martin Luther King Jr. website, full of facts and figures that they’re dying for kids to red pill the playground with — including that time he beat up prostitutes, conspired with the Communist Party to take over the country, and cheated on his wife.


They even have flyers! Great for when you want to recreate that opening scene from Die Hard With A Vengeance.

The website, http://martinlutherking.org, is designed to entrap lazy students with overdue book reports who’ll take the first source Google hands them. And it works. It’s such a problem for teachers that they have to keep reminding their students that the official website of this national hero doesn’t call him a “beast” and blame his promotion on the all-powerful ZOG.

It’s weird that many young people don’t question why the guy’s official website was calling for his federal holiday to be cancelled, but they were probably too fascinated by the pop quiz which tells you whether you’re a politically correct libcuck or a woke race realist who’s definitely going to be assassinated by the government. But if you’re looking for a comforting detail, here’s one: This is a problem that’s only destined to get worse. As of now, 35 percent of students are handing in homework assignment that cite spoof websites, fake news, and bullshit statistics that wouldn’t look out of place at a White House press conference.

Oh wait. That wasn’t comforting at all, was it?

1

Role-Players Are Stealing Kids Photos And “Adopting” Them on Instagram

By now, we all know to keep intimate photographs away from the internet if we don’t want them falling into unwanted hands. But it’s no longer just your private reel of nipples and butts that people will use for their invasive entertainment. Internet weirdos will even take the most innocent part of people’s lives and tamper with it: pictures of their children.

Digital kidnapping is one of the latest fucked-up fads sweeping social media, Instagram in particular, and it’s even creepier than it sounds. These pic-nappers sift through photos of other people’s children and claim them as their own, writing up biographies, talking about fake hobbies and quirks, giving them fake names — in short, turning real children into creepy internet dolls for their unmedicated pleasure.

It starts with followers who appear to come out of nowhere. They watch your account, steal the images of your kids, rename them, and claim them as their own. It’s very distressing for parents, who are often unaware until they receive confusing messages from strangers who have seen their children under different names, with different parents and different lives — lives that would make normal people want to call the cops. Here’s a sample of the way role-playing works on Instagram:

With the *shudder* rising popularity of digital kidnapping, so-called “adoption agencies” have sprung up to supply photographs of attractive babies and even older children for “role-players” to claim for themselves. It might not seem too bad on the surface, but imagine being a parent and finding an avatar of your daughter online telling some grown man to stop taking pictures of her in bed. Another of these depicts a newborn with tubes coming out of its body, captioned: “My mother had me trying to kill me in the hospital bathroom. She had me and left me in the toilet. Luckily I clogged the toilet … I need a mommy.”

Some role-players are weirdly fixated on the nudity of the babies, on the sexual power they will wield as they grow up, or other creeptastic aspects of the process of raising a child. The comments aren’t always kind, either. One mother found a role play pic of her five-month-old baby accompanied by jeering comments about the child being ugly and malformed. Worse still, some fake parents enjoy pretending to abuse the children as part of their story. Who knew people who steal pictures of kids and then pretend they’re their children would have mental health issues?

But while digital kidnapping isn’t a crime (not yet, anyway), it can be a gateway to the vile recesses on the internet. According to Australia’s Children’s eSafety Commissioner, almost half of the filth found on pedophilia sites come from social media. Those who role-play with other people’s children are also setting up handy repositories for actual criminal degenerates to get off on. Remember, folks: This is the internet. If you can fake-kidnap a baby to take fake care of, someone else can fake-kidnap your fake baby to fake-molest it. Being a fake-parent is harder than it looks.

When they aren’t planning their island cult/utopia, Marina and Adam spread the good word on Twitter. Adam also has a Facebook page and a newsletter about creepy history that only the coolest kids are subscribed to. You’re cool, aren’t you? Prove it.

Love Cracked? Want exclusive content? Prefer an ad-free experience? We’ve got you covered. Sign up for our Subscription Service for all that and more.

Also check out 4 Things I Learned About Teenage Trolls (From Being One) and 5 Ways to Stop Trolls From Killing the Internet.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out Internet Troll Hall Of Fame, and watch other videos you won’t see on the site!

Follow our new Pictofacts Facebook page, and we’ll follow you everywhere.

Get intimate with our new podcast Cracked Gets Personal. Subscribe for fascinating episodes like I Was a Sex Slave in the Modern U.S. and Black Market Hormones & More Tales From The Trans Dark Ages.

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_25045_6-online-trolls-who-are-almost-too-creepy-words.html

2e81bfa3ab88f5cd3defc350b5f5abc2.png

Artist created vitiligo dolls and moves us a step towards representation for all

Toys are moving into the right direction with the expansion of products catered to represent all backgrounds and more creators are taking a step further in providing representation beyond race/ethnicity. 

Kay Black created a custom design boutique called Kay Customz and started creating custom-made dolls just eight months ago. Her newest creations feature dolls with the rare skin condition vitiligo. Vitiligo is a pigmentation disorder that whitens patches of skin around the body. 

“I wanted to create dolls that any and everyone can relate to. I see beauty in everyday life,” she told Mashable. “I wanted to convey the message that beauty should not be manufactured. Beauty should be based on one’s true self mirror image.”

A post shared by kays customz (@kaycustoms) on

A post shared by kays customz (@kaycustoms) on

A post shared by kays customz (@kaycustoms) on

Black is a nail technician and hair stylist, but always felt the creative side in her to pursue this found interest. She gets her inspiration from everyday people and develops different styles for each individual doll. “I love what I do and take pride in each custom design!” the artist stated on her website

The time it takes her to complete a doll can range from a few days to a week. She usually finds the dolls from thrift stores and yard sales. “I paint and customize them, not to take away from anyone else’s work. I simply use the old dolls as canvases,” she explained.

As a result of the success of her vitiligo dolls, the artist started creating dolls with facial features like freckles and individuals with albinism. She even expanded her collection to feature male dolls. 

A post shared by kays customz (@kaycustoms) on

A post shared by kays customz (@kaycustoms) on

A post shared by kays customz (@kaycustoms) on

Many people have praised her on social media, thanking her for being represented through her dolls. They’ve also caught the attention of actors Tia Mowry and Mike Epps. 

“When Mike Epps shares ur work I think it safe to say this doll went viral!!,” she captioned on Instagram

A post shared by kays customz (@kaycustoms) on

WHEN MIKE EPPS SHARES UR WORK I THINK IT SAFE TO SAY THIS DOLL WENT VIRAL!!😍🤗 #mikeepps @eppsie THANKS

A post shared by kays customz (@kaycustoms) on

While Black continues to expand and experiment with her doll collection, she has a future goal she hopes to achieve, “My goal is to go beyond the average assembly line looking doll. I want relatable, realistic dolls,” she explained to Mashable. “My goal is to have my own line of beautiful dolls one day.” 

Kay Black might be closer to her goal than she thinks. 

Every editorial product is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our journalism.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/04/artist-creates-dolls-vitiligo-skin-condition/

759e1ce26b3d982cda23e8b719177167.jpeg

Evaporation Could Be The New Source Of Renewable Energy

A new form of renewable energy could be added to solar, wind, and hydro power. Better still, evaporation as an energy source should be more continuous than most other renewables. So far, the technology has only been demonstrated on a tiny scale, but a new study shows that, if it can be scaled up at a practical cost, it could provide two-thirds of the electricity used in the United States.

Changing liquids to gasses involves the absorption of energy. Water has an unusually high specific latent heat, meaning a high amount of energy required to cause a particular amount to change state. Consequently, it normally represents an energy sink, not a source.

Two years ago, however, Columbia biophysicist Dr Ozgur Sahin demonstrated what he calls the Evaporation Engine. The engine uses bacterial spores that swell when they absorb water. If the spores are attached on each side of a piece of tape with the lines offset, changes in humidity flex the tape, pulling on a piston or rotary engine.


The rotary version of the evaporative engine. Joe Turner Lin

Normally, it would take too long for the environment to change sufficiently for anything useful to come of this, but Sahin placed his tapes inside a container part filled with water. Some were attached to a shutter. When sunlight evaporated some of the water, the air became humid, stretching the tape and opening the shutter. Outside air caused the humidity to fall, which in turn contracted the tapes, closing the shutter. Even after some of the energy produced was used to control the shutters, enough was left to drive miniature cars or power a small light.

There’s probably a market for toys powered this way, but practical application is a different matter. At the time, Sahin and his team thought it might be useful for off-grid electricity production. Now, in Nature Communications Sahin has thought bigger. Much bigger. If the engines were placed on lakes and reservoirs across America, he calculates they could produce 15 Watts per square meter in the right circumstances, and 325 gigawatts nationally, even without tapping the Great Lakes. This equals 69 percent of the electricity America now consumes.

Covering vast areas of lakes with evaporation machines would be expensive, but there would be benefits as well. Somewhat ironically, the machines reduce the rate of evaporation, preserving fresh water in dry areas – exactly the places where the evaporation is fastest, and possibly help paying for the system.

Perhaps most importantly, although evaporation is powered by sunlight and wind, it doesn’t stop even on still nights, although it will slow down. Consequently, a grid powered by evaporation would need less battery storage than one depending on solar or wind.


Evaporation is far stronger in the south-west – exactly the area where the water the engine preserves would be most valuable. Columbia University

 

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/evaporation-could-be-the-new-source-of-renewable-energy/