This eco-friendly lid can cover pretty much anything

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UniLid by Two Pillars is the lid cover you’ve been needing. Made from eco-friendly silicone material, this lid can mold itself to cover almost anything in different shapes and sizes.

It’s also the perfect alternative to plastic wraps and aluminum foil. The lid seals airtight and has a special dial to remind you how long you’ve had your leftovers for. It’s easy to wash, store, and reuse.  Read more…

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This Google Photos panorama fail is actually just really awesome

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Google Photos has this pretty neat feature that will stitch together photos to create one seamless panoramic scene. Results may vary, though.

The feature is automatic, and Photos will only stitch together pictures that were taken close to each other, so you can’t really game the system too easily. However, sometimes Google will get a little confused and combine photos that don’t really go together well.

Redditor MalletsDarker took some photos at Lake Louise in Canada recently and received this panoramic photo from Google. Please admire all that this technology has to offer.

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The Best Austin Tips From Our Readers

We asked for your Austin tips and we got 182 of them, recommending Tex-Mex, local attractions, good and bad neighborhoods, and ways the light rail can go screw itself. Here are a few themes that emerged.

Swimming

Barton Springs Pool (Photo by Outdoor Craziness)

“Swimmin’ holes are a real thing in central Texas, enjoy it if you can,” says jumbo76. The most popular is Barton Springs Pool, a public limestone pool filled by natural springs. “If you have a four legged friend,” says Burning With Possums, “sneak into the northern side beyond the wall of the pool and check out Dog Springs where happy puppies frolic in the water year round.”

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Barton Springs gets crowded in the summer. “There are plenty more places to swim,” says Men’s Tights Activist:

The swimming pools and swim holes are Austin’s X factor, particularly to fight summer heat. I like Gus Fruh as a swim hole. “Neighborhood pools” are free, city pools are cheap; both are scattered all over the city.

“The best swimmin’ hole is Hamilton Pool,” says jumbo76. “It’s a ways out of town, but worth visiting.” There are two Blue Hole Parks with swimming spots, in opposite directions from Austin. Island Feathers likes the one in Georgetown; John likes the one in Wimberley.

Drinking and Night Life

Photo by Whisler’s

Downtown Austin, especially 6th St. is famously packed with raucous bars with shot specials, live music, and a mechanical bull. But here are some less obvious alternatives.

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Eleven readers mention the brewery Jester King, which specializes in sours. “Wildly beautiful,” says Katie Keurig. “I won’t forget the sunset there despite having quite a lot of sour beer.”

Hypermark has a few beer picks:

Austin has a thriving craft beer scene. There are some great IPAs, but where Austin is beginning to shine is in our sours. Places like Blue Owl and Adelbert’s are really doing a great job with sour beers (Jester King is also amazing, but it’s 45 minutes out of town). Live Oak brewery out by the airport is also fantastic, but they focus on more German style beers.

So does Drew F:

Austin Beerworks is my personal fave, but Hops and Grain is also great and I hear good things about the new Southern Heights. I haven’t been to the new Live Oak tasting room but their beers are very good. Last Stand and Jester King are about a 1/4 mile apart out near Dripping Springs, and if you make it out there drop by Solara for some vino or Treaty Oak for any of their spirits (all on Fitzhugh Road).

And so does bulletproofcharm:

My personal favorites are Live Oak (the Hefeweizen is a staple part of any healthy diet), Zilber (Coffee Milk Stout is stupidly good) and Austin Beerworks (Pearl Snap is one of the most refreshing beers you’ll have). You could spend a couple of days going to different breweries.

Hypermark also suggests mezcal bars:

Mezcal bars are kind of a thing, and we have two that I really like. The one at Whisler’s is neat. It’s above the actual bar, and the tasting room is small, dimly lit, and slightly creepy. For some reason, it’s the perfect vibe or Mezcal. I hesitate to even mention the other one because I don’t want it getting so crowded I can’t get in, but Techo Mezcaleria is my absolute favorite. It’s above Mi Madre’s, and everything from the ambience to the selection of Mezcals is on point.

Don’t settle for the default bar scene on 6th St, says DrNerdLove:

Dirty 6th is overrated if you’re over 22. There are good bars on 7th (including a secret one near The Driskill) and on East 6th that aren’t as bad. Rock Rose up at the Domain is up and coming, but isn’t *quite* there yet.

“Rainey Street is a slightly more grown-up bar scene,” says JuanDonJAWN. Peter agrees: “The Domain’s Rock Rose is being built really well. There’s a bar that’s not quite on Rock Rose. It has a nautical theme and has ropes and blue lighting on the outside.” Peter forgets the name, so now hunting it down is a fun adventure for you.

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Dewmelon recommends The Good Life Bar Bar, Hut’s (“or get your burger with a milkshake”), and Mort Subite, “a sweet Belgian bar on Congress.” Baudboi likes Small Victory—“So so hipster, so very Austin”—and dive bar karaoke at Ego’s.

Endlessshrimp knows a good time:

Chicken shit bingo on Sundays at Ginny’s Little Longhorn is the pinnacle of Austin’s cultural scene, and it’s not even close. If you’re lucky, Dale Watson will be playing, which is about a million times better than whatever crappy hipster band you’ll see anywhere else.

And weluckyfew201 has two honky-tonk picks:

The legend is Broken Spoke, maybe a 10 minute Uber from downtown. From the outside it looks like one of those faux-old-broken-down bars, but once you get in you realize it’s actually an authentic broken down old bar. But it’s a great time: amazing live music (usually from people who have been playing there for 40 years) and the dance floor is always full.

The hipper, younger version of this is White Horse, on the east side. I don’t say ‘hipper’ in any derogatory way, the bands are still on point and the crowd is still very much there to dance and have fun. It’s basically Broken Spoke: The Next Generation. 

Coffee

Photo by Cuvée Coffee

A necessity.

  • “You can get good coffee all over the city, if you go local. Austin Java, Ruta Maya, Cuvée Coffee are all excellent choices.”—DrNerdLove
  • “Summermoon. Oh god the eponymous Summermoon coffee is so good.”—baudboi
  • “For coffee hit up Houndstooth, Epoch, Cuvee, or Once Over. There’s a tiny food truck outside Once Over that sells amazing breakfast tacos too.”—John
  • “Mozart’s coffee shop.”—vtboyarc

Breakfast Tacos

Taco Deli’s breakfast tacos (Photo by Krista)

Tacos are the ideal breakfast food: Not too much bread, plenty of protein, and a tasteful way to eat veggies before noon.

  • “I absolutely LOVE Taco Deli. Go before 11am because their menu changes around lunch time. The Otto and The Jess Special are two must tries. If you go to the North Lamar location, be sure to go to Houndstooth for some coffee too!”—Peter
  • “Torchy’s Tacos for great queso and fun taco fillings.”—Ekla
  • “Vazquez (my fav breakfast tacos in Austin)”—vtboyarc
  • “El Tacorrido (best breakfast tacos in town IMO, and get the Equinox)”—bassball1985
  • “Tacodeli and Torchy’s are good for what they are, but are what most native Texans would call white people Mexican food. So my recommendation would be Ñoños Tacos on Powell Lane. There is an abuelita in the kitchen hand making the tortillas. It is basically standing room only with some outside seating.”—STX2ATX
  • “Pretty much any roadside shack will have decent breakfast tacos. Get some or some migas. I still think it’s weird to put potatoes in tortillas but they are delicious.”—katie_keys

BBQ

Franklin Barbecue (photo by T.Tseng)

Along with Tex-Mex, barbecue is Austin’s most important cuisine. Several readers recommend Franklin Barbecue, but others call it overrated, thanks to its legendary wait time. “The thing about barbecue is that it’s a game of little margins,” says Marcelo:

While Franklin is world class, you can get 90% of the quality of Franklin’s brisket at a number of places, from Terry Black’s to Ruby’s to La Barbecue to Micklethwait. So the question with Franklin is whether you are willing to go through all that trouble and time for that extra 10%, which is what takes Franklin into world-class territory.

“Franklin Barbecue is overrated unless you get to skip the line like Obama,” says Ainomiaka. “Go to Cooper’s downtown. Delicious.”

  • “For BBQ, Valentina’s is in far south Austin but well worth it. Short lines (sometimes a 20 minute wait max) and reasonably priced. It’s actually a Tex-Mex place so they have a little of both. Amazing breakfast tacos as well.”—ChalupaBatman
  • “Try Micklethwait, Black’s, Terry Black’s, Cooper’s, Stiles & Switch, Brown’s, or Freedmen’s.”—Drew F
  • “La Barbecue is my go-to if I want quality BBQ.”—afijaymz1
  • “Rudy’s Country Store & BBQ. It’s pretty awesome to go to a gas station that also happens to serve up some pretty good BBQ. Also, people will fight me, but I absolutely love the egg, potato, and cheese breakfast tacos there with the standard Louisiana Hot Sauce they have on the tables.”—bulletproofcharm
  • “Cooper’s isn’t the best barbecue, but it’s better than it needs to be given its captive audience, and it has a lot of momentoes from the Armadillo World Headquarters.”—dewmelon
  • “Take a quick drive down to Lockhart and eat at Smitty’s. Smitty’s is what Franklin is modeled after. Might as well get the real deal. And if Smitty’s doesn’t do it for you, try Kreuz’s, also in Lockhart.”—jumbo76
  • “The new guy in Plfugerville, Brotherton’s Black Iron Barbecue, has a brisket ban mi!”—RIMP
  • “For good (if not the best) bbq I always thought it was worth the trip out to Driftwood for Salt Lick. They make my favorite coleslaw ever— it’s made with sesame oil instead of mayo—and a habanero bbq sauce.”—katie_keys
  • “County Line BBQ in the west Austin hills is a drive, but the building and riverfront area is great.”—Crocell

Sushi

A dish at Uchiko. That’s beef, right? (Photo by Emily Goodstein)

Several people answered our desperate call for an Austin sushi pick:

  • “If you absolutely must have sushi, there’s Uchiko right next to Taco Deli and Houndstooth on North Lamar. Great experience, and kind of pricey. Go during their social hour for some great choices in appetizers for about half the cost of their normal menu.”—Peter
  • “Musashino was my go-to for the longest time.”—SurlyJ
  • “Uchi—in Austin—was the highest rated sushi restaurant in America a couple of years ago. Do yourself a favor and make a reservation and try it out. It truly is some phenomenal food.”—World’s Okayest Commenter

Hypermark has some other varied restaurant recs:

Urban farms are a pretty big thing in Austin if you’re into local, sustainable food, so try to check out places like Springdale, HausBar, or Rain Lilly farms. The Mueller Farmer’s Market is also pretty great. Eden East is an al fresco restaurant on Springdale farm, and if the weather is nice, it’s a beautiful location and the food is always amazing (most of the veggies come from Springdale itself).

Social Picks

We also asked for tips on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Some highlights from Twitter:

And on Facebook:

  • “Overrated? Juan in a Million. Where we go? Amaya’s Taco Village.”—James Nichols
  • “Michi Ramen is amazing but can be packed with a long wait at peak times, and no reservations. Bangers on Rainey is great food and beer but don’t be in a hurry because service is a little slower.”—Kelela Place
  • “Go to Habaneros. True Austin Tex-mex.”—Corey Bounds
  • “Luke’s Inside Out at Gibson’s, great food combined with great drinks.”—Kathryn Biber
Pinballz (Photo by Mike Prosser)

Lastly, we always love a pinball rec, and World’s Okayest Commenter came through:

There is a pretty fun BYOB pinball (and normal arcade) place called “Pinballz” right down the street from Trudy’s North Star. Just sayin’.

The big con: How tech companies made a killing by fudging their numbers

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In May 2015, Snapchat cofounder Evan Spiegel sat onstage at a tech event and said his app was „approaching“ 100 million daily active users in developed markets. 

He was wrong — or, well, he exaggerated. In June 2015, Snapchat averaged 89 million daily active users overall, per Snap’s S-1 filingHeadlines at that time said otherwise. 

Spiegel, in the midst of getting grilled by reporters Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, was answering the same question posed to every tech company: How are your numbers? 

Silicon Valley was built on metrics: users, time spent, pictures uploaded, etc. These numbers made even young startups look like they could conquer the world and make billions of dollars along the way. Read more…

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The Internet Has Made Americans More Casual About Religion

Photo: Getty

Contrary to what you might assume after hate-browsing Facebook, it seems the internet may have actually made people less dogmatic about religion. A recent study published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion has found evidence that the more we use the internet, the less likely we are to have a specific religious affiliation or to believe in and practice one religion exclusively.

Paul McClure, a doctoral student in sociology at Texas’ Baylor University, decided to take a broad look at how the internet has influenced our religious proclivities. He was inspired, in part, by previous research that suggested the rise of the internet since the 1990s has contributed to an increase of people becoming religiously unaffiliated (a group otherwise known as “Nones,” which includes, but isn’t limited to, atheists and agnostics). He analyzed data from an ongoing project that’s been managed by his university since 2005, the Baylor Religion Survey. He specifically relied on the 2010 version of the nationally representative survey, conducted by the Gallup Organization, which was the first to feature questions about people’s use of the internet as well as how they felt about religion.

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He found that a person’s greater internet use, even after accounting for factors like age, education, and political affiliation, was correlated with a higher likelihood they would endorse statements like, “All of the religions in the world are equally true,” and “All around the world, no matter what religion they call themselves, people worship the same God.” Being younger, identifying as a Democrat, and living in a larger city was also associated with being less religiously exclusive.

“I [also] found that increases in Internet use were associated with decreases in religious affiliation of any kind,” McClure told me in an email. “Of course, one can refuse to be affiliated with religion and still believe in God or a higher power of some sort, but there is obviously a lot of overlap between non-affiliation and atheism.”

McClure suggests that the internet has shaped how we interact with religion differently than other all-encompassing technologies, like TV. For instance, he found that while TV-watching was associated with spending less time on religious activities like attending church in the study, for example, the internet wasn’t. Despite widespread concern that the internet is having a polarizing effect on our beliefs, it doesn’t seem to have sent people into religious echo chambers. Instead, McClure speculates the internet has incidentally exposed people to all sorts of philosophical ideas and beliefs. That exposure, in turn, has guided us into becoming either religious “tinkerers” who pick and choose the bits we like or those who simply leave the religion box unchecked.

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This effect, if it’s real, has been largely subtle for most of us, it seems. The 2017 version of the Baylor Religion Survey, which McClure helped work on, found that 55 percent of Americans don’t use the internet to access religious or spiritual content; another 23 percent said they do so at most once a month. Three-quarters of Americans said they never talk about their religious views on social media. Adding more support to McClure’s theory, nine of 10 Americans also said that technology had exposed them to new perspectives.

For the Ned Flanders of the world, worried that the internet has led us down the path to eternal damnation, there is some solace in McClure’s research. In the 2017 survey, only around 10 percent of people believed that science and technology will someday make religion obsolete, and only around one-third of “nones” (atheists and agnostics) said the same. According to a 2015 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, around 23 percent of Americans currently consider themselves not religiously affiliated, while around 8 percent call themselves atheists or agnostics.

“I hope my research helps us think more about how technology changes us, not just how it helps or hurts us. We normally don’t ascribe to technology the power to change who we are, but that’s what this paper suggests,” McClure said. “Down the road, I hope that we can begin to map out other, less obvious ways that the technologies of the last couple decades impact who we are, how we think, and how we relate to others.”

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McClure also hopes to eventually publish research that looks more specifically at how the internet has or hasn’t influenced the rise of atheism among the public.

[Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion]

Facebook needs to kill the News Feed

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What is the Facebook News Feed for? 

In 2018, the answer is less certain than ever. Mark Zuckerberg now says it should be „good for people,“ like kale, polio vaccines, or any number of things that aren’t data-harvesting, Russian propaganda-boosting social networks.

And so, Facebook will alter your feed to favor content posted by friends and family — particularly if it’s generating a lot of comments — while minimizing stuff from brands. Everyone’s spent a lot of time parsing what this algorithm shift means, but here’s an educated guess: Not much!  Read more…

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The original ‚Age of Empires‘ is coming back in February with new ‚Definitive Edition‘

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The wait for Age of Empires: Definitive Edition — the remastered and improved version of 1997’s Age of Empires — is almost over. 

Mircrosoft announced on Thursday that Age of Empires: Definitive Edition will be released for PC on Feb. 20 for $19.99. 

Definitive Edition takes everything that made Age of Empires one of the best real-time strategy games of its time, but gives it a fresh coat of paint and some much-needed system-level improvements.

For years, the original Age of Empires has been unplayable for most people, given the 20-year-old game’s outdated computer requirements. Now, with Age of Empires: Definitive Edition, longtime fans of the original can enjoy the game once again and new players to the franchise can experience what the series was like at its roots. Read more…

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