Every single goddamn day for the past year I have entered the lottery to win the privilege of paying $75 for one ticket to see Springsteen on Broadway, and every single day for the past year I have lost that effing lottery. The only other way to score seats has been to pony up $2,000 per ticket from those loathsome scalpers known as StubHub. Well screw them, and screw the lottery, and the Walter Kerr Theater, and all the people whose lives were forever changed for having seen the show, because Springsteen on Broadway is coming to Netflix directly following the final performance on Sunday night. Springsteen on the Couch and not at all bitter about it.
Oh, and where my cinephiles at? Don’t miss Roma, Alfonso Cuarón’s universally adored tale of Mexico City in the 1970s, which lands on Friday, and is definitely going to win a million awardsArriving This Week
Netflix originals have links to their trailers and watch pages.Monday, December 10Michael Jackson’s This Is ItTuesday, December 11 Vir Das: Losing It (stand-up special)Wednesday, December 12Back Street Girls: Gokudols (show)Out of Many, One (show)Thursday, December 13 Wanted: Season 3 (show)Friday, December 14Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter’s Tale (show)Cuckoo: Season 4 (show)Dance & Sing with True: Songs (show)Fuller House: Season 4 (show)Inside the Real Narcos (show)Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons: Season 3 (show)Prince of Peoria: A Christmas Moose Miracle (show)ROMA (film)Sunderland Til I Die (show)The Fix (show)The Innocent Man (show)The Protector (show)Tidelands (show)Travelers: Season 3 (show)Voltron: Legendary Defender: Season 8 (show)Sunday, December 16 Baby MamaKill the MessengerOne DaySpringsteen on Broadway (show)The Theory of EverythingLeaving This WeekLeaving December 10Battle RoyaleBattle Royale 2TeethLeaving December 15Step Up 2: The StreetsLeaving December 16Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
It’s Electronics Day in Amazon’s 12 Days of Deals, so it’s only natural that an Anker Gold Box is one of the highlights.
The most obvious stocking stuffer idea here is a three-pack of durable Anker PowerLine Lightning cables for $20, in three different lengths. That’s the same price Apple charges for a single (worse) cable.
This tiny $11 battery pack is another crowd pleaser. It can slip into just about any pocket, and has enough juice for nearly a full phone charge. The larger PowerCore 10000 is also available for just $19.
For anyone with a modern iPhone, this Qi charging pad supports Apple’s maximum 7.5W charging speed, and unlike a lot of similar pads, it includes the requisite Quick Charge 3.0 wall adapter that it needs to operate.
Own a Switch or a modern, USB-C powered laptop? This car charger includes a 30W USB-C PD port, so you can stay powered up on long road trips. It also has a regular USB port for your phone.
And finally, it wouldn’t be an Anker sale without some charging hubs. Choose from one with Quick Charge 3.0 support, one with 10 (!!) ports, and even a surge protector, with a few USB ports included, naturally.
Just remember unlike most Anker deals, all of these prices are only available today.
When I was in kindergarten our class participated in a riveting performance of “50 Nifty United States” a song about, you guessed it, the 50 states. Part (and by part I mean 75%) of the song entails singing the names of all 50 states in alphabetical order. Now in my late 30s, I’ve been delighting bar patrons for years with my ability to still recite all 50 states, without pause, perfectly.
Music is a great way to learn things. There’s nothing like a catchy tune to make things stick in your mind.
Lirica is an app that takes that idea and applies it to learning a foreign language. The app takes the music of artists like Enrique Iglesias and Elvis Crespo and uses it to help you learn Spanish vocabulary and grammar. Google recently highlighted the app as one of Google Play’s “Best Hidden Gems of 2018.”
Songs within the app and broken down into beginner, intermediate, and expert.
Within each song, you can choose what you’d like to learn. For instance, when I selected Elvis Crepo’s Suavemente I was given the choice of learning Spanish diminutives, adverbs, present tense, or pronominal verbs.
With each lesson, you learn parts of the language, similar to how you might with Duolingo or another language-learning app, but using music. Each lesson includes short games to play where you’re learning what’s actually being said in the song.
You can also just listen to the music with subtitles that show you what’s being said in Spanish or the Spanish with an English translation below it.
You’re probably not going to become fluent with the app, but it is a fun way to learn some new phrases quickly.
You’re driving, and something terrible happens with your car: Your brakes fail or your steering fails and you’re forced off the road, hopefully not dying in the process. You learn that others have had the same issue, and yet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration doesn’t seem too concerned. But, as The New York Times reports, there is a little-known way to change that.
It’s called a defect petition, a tactic that’s been on the books for decades but is still rarely-used, with just four being filed so far this year. Anyone is eligible to file one and, at the very least, filing a defect petition forces NHTSA to investigate your complaint and tell you in a written statement whether there’ll be a recall and, if not, explain why.
That’s more than the agency’s compelled to do if you just submit a normal complaint, of which tens of thousands are sent to NHTSA yearly. That’s in part because of the way NHTSA’s process is encoded in law. From their website:
The agency’s Office of Defects Investigation investigative process consists of four parts:
Screening — A preliminary review of consumer complaints and other information related to alleged defects to decide whether to open an investigation
Petition Analysis — An analysis of any petitions calling for defect investigations and/or reviews of safety-related recalls
Investigation — The investigation of alleged safety defects
Recall Management — Investigation of the effectiveness of safety recalls.
After conducting a technical analysis of such a petition, ODI informs the petitioner whether it has been granted or denied. If the petition is granted, a defect investigation is opened. If the petition is denied, the reasons for the denial are published in the Federal Register. Similarly, a person may submit a petition requesting NHTSA to hold a hearing on whether a manufacturer has reasonably met its obligation to notify and/or remedy a safety defect or noncompliance with a Federal motor vehicle safety standard. If the petition is granted, a hearing is held to assess the matter and decide what corrective action should be taken. If the petition is denied, the reasons for the denial are published in the Federal Register.
The upshot of all that is normal complaints—submitted via a prominent button on NHTSA’s website—can be screened, while defect petitions, by law, must be reviewed one-by-one and taken more seriously. Of course, this also means defect petitions are also more rigorous than normal complaints for the filer. In addition, like normal complaints, they must only pertain to potential safety issues and not, say, your busted air-conditioning.
Filing a defect petition is far from a guarantee that a recall will happen—NHTSA is largely understaffed and overwhelmed—but the tactic has worked in the past.
From the NYT:
Forty-three defect petitions were sent to the agency over the last decade. Concerns included engine stalling, brake problems, airbag failures, headlight failures, unintended acceleration, an uncomfortable ride, faulty gas gauges and gas tanks prone to exploding in rear impacts.
Twelve of the 43 petitions resulted either in recalls or extended warranties covering about five million vehicles.
Instructions for filing such a petition are on NHTSA’s website, but the steps are a bit abstruse, so if you hope to file, plan to put in some time and effort. And because of NHTSA being NHTSA, also plan for a possibly lengthy wait.
The agency’s stated goal is to decide whether to grant a petition within 120 days. But it often fails to do that. The agency has one petition from 2018 that is late and one each from 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013.
But it isn’t hopeless, and the auto industry is such that it often takes PR campaigns and sustained media attention to prompt automakers to do anything, such is the expense and bad press that goes along with big recalls. Still, as the NYT reports, it really is possible for one person to do it themselves.
One of those was filed by Troy Lyman, a computer programmer from Winchester, Calif., who owns a 2007 Saturn Sky. A major concern among Sky owners, which arose around 2015, had been a sensing mechanism failure that could prevent the passenger-side airbag from deploying.
“G.M. wasn’t doing anything about it. N.H.T.S.A. wasn’t looking at the complaints and doing something about it,” Mr. Lyman, 48, said. “Basically it came down to, at some point in time, there has to be an individual who will do something about it, and I was tired of waiting for it to be somebody else.”
The agency granted his 2016 petition and began asking General Motors about the issue. Early in 2017, G.M. announced a recall of 91,000 2006-10 Pontiac Solstice and 2007-10 Saturn Sky models.
One of the oldest recalls in part prompted by a defect petition is also one of the more infamous problems in automotive history, the recall of 1971-1976 model year Ford Pintos for fire danger. Though later review argued the car was no more dangerous than its contemporaries, the Pinto developed a deadly reputation for going up in flames after low-speed rear collisions. It took years of press and defect petitions from the Center for Auto Safety, but in June 1978 Ford finally issued a recall. A month after that, Ford’s President Lee Iacocca, who had been instrumental in developing the Pinto, was fired.
Image: Flickr/ Quote Catalog
If you have an Amazon Echo device, then you’ve likely gotten pretty used to saying “Alexa” whenever you want it to do something.
While the device defaults to using ‘Alexa’ as its wake word out of the box, there are some situations (for instance, if your name is Alexa) that you might want to change things up and use something different.
Amazon won’t let you change your Echo’s wake word to anything you want, but it does offer a few options. Instead of “Alexa” you can also use “Echo” or “computer” as your wake words. It’s a feature that’s been available for a while, but not many people realize it’s there. CNBC pointed it out again this weekend.
To make the change, go to the Alexa app on your phone and then tap the hamburger icon on the top left side of the page (it looks like three lines stacked on top of each other). From there, select Settings and then Device Settings.
The wake word you choose is device specific, so if you have multiple Echo devices you’ll need to swap things out on every single device you have that you want to be changed individually.
When you tap on a device, you want to scroll down to “Wake Word.” Select the new wake word you’d like from the list, and then select “OK.”
You can also make the change directly on an Amazon Echo device with a display. On those, say “Go to Settings” and then select “Device Options” followed by “Wake Word.”
And keep in mind your device will need to be connected to the web to make this change, so if you have an Echo device unplugged for some reason, you’ll need to plug it in before you can make any adjustments.
If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, then placing or being part of a Skype call can be a complicated affair. This week, Microsoft rolled out a feature to make things a little easier: captions and subtitles.
The feature adds captions in real-time to audio and video calls, enabling those who might have trouble hearing the person their chatting with a better chance of understanding what’s going on in the conversation. It also offers real-time translations for 20 languages, for situations when the person you’re chatting with doesn’t speak your language.
Once on, you’ll see subtitles/captions scroll during the call with what’s being said. The subtitles are done by AI, so they’re not perfect, but they’re significantly better than nothing.
To turn them on you have two options:Just For One Call
If you just need subtitles for the call you’re on, you can toggle them on by pressing the + button during the call and then selecting “turn subtitles on” from the menu.Image: SkypeOn Permanently
If you’d like to the captioning feature to be on by default, you can do that by clicking on your profile picture within the app and then selecting Settings. From there, select Calling followed by Subtitles and then toggle the button on for “Show Subtitles for all voice and video calls.”Image: Skype
Real-time subtitles are available in Skype version 8 on Android (6.0+), iPhone, iPad, Linux, Mac, Windows and Skype for Windows 10 (version 14).
The feature is being gradually rolled out, so if you have Skype version 8 and don’t see it, give it a few days and try again.
Anker Slim 5-in-1 Premium USB C Hub, Ethernet Port, 4K HDMI, 3 USB 3.0 Ports | $40 | Amazon | Promo code ANKERC331Anker 5-in-1 Premium USB C Hub, SD/TF Card Reader, 3 USB 3.0 Ports | $22 | Amazon | Promo code ANKERC322Anker 4-in-1 Premium 60W PD Hub, with 3 USB 3.0 Ports | $26 | Amazon | Promo code ANKERC832Graphic: Shep McAllister
USB-C will be truly ubiquitous one of these days, but for the next few years at least, owners of USB-C laptops will probably want to carry a dongle or two. Several of Anker’s highly rated adapters are on sale right now, so just be sure to note the promo codes.
Graphic: Allison Corr
It’s cold here in the Midwest, so in my estimation it’s always casserole o’clock. Casseroles are easy—plop a bunch of stuff into one dish, pop it in the oven, see ya in 45 minutes. I was two casseroles into fall this year when the inventor of the green bean casserole, Dorcas Bates Reilly, sadly passed at age 92. In her memory, I texted my mom and asked about other related recipes she had in her repertoire so I could continue paying tribute to the great art of the hot dish.
Her reply: “Ham balls, calico beans, etc…”
Me: “Ham balls is a casserole???”
No, ham balls is not a casserole, but it’s a traditional potluck dish from Iowa my mom remembered was included in my elementary school’s fundraiser cookbook. We then (together, via texting) flipped through the 19-year-old book’s pages for further research, where we discovered five recipes for ham balls alone. Mysteriously, graham crackers are essential to this dish.
Having spent 10 formative years in the Hawkeye State, I ate a lot of casseroles, and a lot of ham, but never these. I thought it proper to try these ham balls out.Photo: Kim Elsham-Vavrick
I selected the hammiest recipe; meaning, no other animal proteins were added in. (Some recipes also call for ground beef.) You’ll note the need for ground, cured ham. This doesn’t really exist as far as I could find, so I bought a small cured and sliced ham that was the closest to one pound, and whazzed it up in my food processor. That in itself made me feel very Iowan. The rest of the prep is easy: put in bowl, mix with other ingredients. Form balls.
After baking, what came forth from my casserole dish were 37 tomato-soup-hued glossy spheres, steamy and slightly browned. I couldn’t bear to eat them without a side dish, so I recommend a green vegetable of any kind to balance the rich, salty flavors.
Final verdict: They’re tiny, really hammy meatballs with a sweet meatloaf glaze. The balls kept their shape really well, even when slicing them in half with my fork. They’re salty, so serve them alongside a good starch, a crisp-cooked veggie, and maybe some extra ham ball sauce. It’s a great use of leftover holiday hams or when you want to impress your friends with a true Iowan dish of balls.Photo: Kim Elsham-VavrickHam Balls
Adapted from the Ham Balls recipe in “Johnston Schools Cooking Up a Storm,” 1989 edition, submitted by the Thoreson Family of somewhere near Johnston, Iowa.1 lb. ground cured ham (see note above procuring said ham)1 lb. ground pork1 cup ground graham crackers (!!!)1 eggs3/4 cup milk1/2 cup finely minced onionSalt and pepper to taste
Sauce1/2 can condensed tomato soup1/4 cup vinegar3/4 cup brown sugar1 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
Mix ham, pork, crackers, eggs, onions, and milk and roll into balls 1 1/2-to-2 inches wide. Arrange in a single layer in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.
Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl with a fork or whisk. Drizzle sauce evenly over ham balls before baking. Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
If you use Instagram, chances are you’ve already started to see your friends posting collages of their “top 9” photos of the year.
The first year I started noticing these I spent a solid half hour at least trying to figure out where to find the collage within Instagram’s app. Spoiler: you’re not going to find it in there. It has the look and feel of a built-in Instagram feature, but it’s not.
The collages are created by third parties. You’ve got a few options if you want one, but the “best” of the bunch is likely topnine.co. With it, you enter your Instagram username (or anyone else’s you’d like) and your email address. After a few minutes, a .jpg collage of your top nine pics of the year, as well as a rundown of how many likes you received throughout the year will show up in your inbox. This pic is actually from doing it on my desktop:Screenshot: E. Price / Top Nine
The topnine.co website is done by the same folks who run the “Top Nine” app, which you can also use to get the same results.
I’m not personally stoked about the idea of handing over my email address for this one, but the site claims you can revoke consent to receive emails anytime by going to topnine.co/forget-me.
If you’d like to create a collage without handing over an email, you can do that at the 2018 best nine site. That one doesn’t require an email address, but it does place a gnarly watermark on your collage, which isn’t ideal if you want to share it with the masses. It also takes significantly longer to get your actual collage. The first few times I tried it took so long I was convinced it was broken.
And this one might be obvious: But since these are just scraping your account, not requiring you to log in, both of these require your profile to be public in order to work.
Whenever I fly, I always end up dialing the brightness down on my laptop to its lowest possible setting. In some cases, I’m straining my eyes to be able to see what’s on the screen, but it’s worth it for the precious few extra minutes of battery life I might get while I’m in the air and away from power.
This week CNET made another battery-saving suggestion that’s worth a try: powering off the keyboard’s backlight.
The idea here is to set your keyboard’s backlight so that it powers off after a period of inactivity, not so it’s off all the time (I know I definitely need it, especially in those dimly-lit situations). It’s the same concept as the Energy Saver feature you might use to turn off the display when you’ve walked away, but keyboard specific and the feature is located in a different menu.
To get to it, go to System Preferences on your Mac and then Keyboard. From there check the box labeled “Turn keyboard backlight off after __ of inactivity” and then choose how long you’d like it to wait.Screenshot: Apple / E.Price
You can pick anything from 5 seconds to 5 minutes here. CNET recommends going with 30 seconds. That’s not a bad idea, but I can see some benefits in going shorter as well. You don’t want to do 5 seconds and turn your keyboard into a strobe of stopping and starting lights, but 10 seconds is a decent option, depending on how you typically use your computer.
Give a few settings a test drive and see what works for you.
You’re not going to save a tremendous amount of battery power with this, but when you’re away from an outlet, every second counts.