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You Dont Need a $450 Router

https://lifehacker.com/you-dont-need-a-450-router-1846050989

You Dont Need a $450 Router

I love CES time—short for the Consumer Electronics Show—because we get exposed to all kinds of outlandish devices that are fun to get excited about, but nothing you should add to your shopping list right now. And that’s especially true in the wide world of wireless networking. Linksys unveiled the AXE8400 tri-band router at this year’s show, and it’s a bit of an eye-opener in three different ways.

First, it’s a 4X4 MU-MIMO router that supports Wifi 6E, the latest and greatest standard found in exactly zero devices you can buy right now. In other words, the AXE8400 is yet another “future-proofed” router geared for early adopters, or will be once it arrives in the spring or summer of this year.

Second, it costs a whopping $450 for one router, and it’s really designed to be used in a mesh setup. Linksys, to its credit, gives you a deal on a two-pack—it’s $850 for a pair of AXE8400 routers. But you’ll still be paying more for your routers than you would a new Mac Mini.

Finally, the router comes with built-in motion-sensing. Linksys bills this as a useful whole-home security feature and part of its separate “Linksys Aware” service, which will run you $3/month or $25/year. Yes, that’s right: You router now comes with a subscription service, because hashtag revenue, but it’ll only notify you if it detects motion in your home. It won’t connect to any other smarthome system—not even your smartlights—which lessens its usefulness considerably.

I don’t mean to dunk on Linksys unnecessarily. However, this router, and the excitement some will have over the “latest and greatest” device for wireless networking, is indicative of a larger issue. Namely, you don’t need to buy very expensive, new routers with technologies that might not make a lot of sense for your home setup.

Stop buying routers because of their newness (or box copy)

I try to be accommodating with new technology launches. I get the excitement; I’ve covered the wireless networking industry for years. New standards come out, companies rush to be the first to market with routers that support them no matter what, and the devices typically cost a lot more than what you’d otherwise pay for a router in a year’s time or so.

However, I think it’s important to remember a critical piece of advice: Don’t buy a router that hasn’t been benchmarked by a number of reviewers in various situations. Ideally, you want to get a good representative sample of how a router performs in various real-life situations, instead of taking the word of that one reviewer who ran a few speed tests from another room and declared it the best wireless router ever assembled.

As wireless expert Dong Ngo puts it:

“Downloading a movie (or Netflix streaming for that matter) depends on the Internet speed, which has little to do with Wi-Fi. They are two different things.

Wi-Fi is the alternative to network cables — it allows for a local network without wires. So, the increased speed of Wi-Fi 6 is only meaningful locally, within your home or office.

In other words, assuming all of your devices are Wi-Fi 6-enabled, you’ll be able to print, perform network Time Machine backups, or stream from a local NAS server, etc., much faster.

As for the Internet, currently, the majority of residential broadband services offer speeds significantly below that of Wi-Fi 5, which is already plenty fast. Consequently, if you use Wi-Fi 6, you’ll experience no improvement at all in Internet access.”

Remember, just because a router is new, and just because it has different features that allow for higher maximum speeds, doesn’t mean that it’s the best on the market. And then there’s the price factor: Honestly, if I was building out the network for a reasonably sized house, I wouldn’t buy a two-access-point mesh system for $850. I’d buy a bunch of prosumer gear and saturate that house with access points.

Most people don’t even have a super fast internet connection to begin with. And even those lucky enough to have a gigabit pipe gigabit fiber going into their homes would probably see a greater benefit from more access points around their house—even if they support a slower standard than Wifi 6E, like “mere” Wifi 6 or, gasp, Wifi 5.

A Wifi 6E router, like any router, is going to lose performance the farther away you are from it. I’d rather have a bunch of “wifi bubbles” giving me ~750Mbps downloads and file transfers across more areas of my home than one room in which the wireless maxes out north of 1Gbps, with a steady drop-off in wireless speed as I move away.

Yes, a wireless mesh setup can help address this issue, but then you’re also dealing with the occasional peculiarities of a wireless bridge. As always, I think the best solution for great wireless speeds at home is a classic one: scatter access points around your home, even if they only support 1Gbps wireless connections at most. That should be more than sufficient for your everyday needs, so long as your network does a good job about dumping you and your family’s/roommate’s/pet’s devices to the best (MU-MIMO) wireless access point as they walk around. (Your devices typically handle that handoff, but just in case, it never hurts to have a great wireless setup that can also take charge as needed.)

It’s fun to get excited about new technology. I’m sure there will come a time when Wifi 5 will seem as ancient as wireless-n. For right now, don’t waste money on expensive Wifi 6 “solutions” when you can do better, for less, with “slower” gear. Wait until you need that much networking firepower, and you’ll probably get a much better deal—and better access points.

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Bishops say avoid the J&J vaccine because it was made using fetal cells – Insider

https://www.insider.com/catholic-bishops-say-avoid-vaccine-made-with-aborted-fetal-cells-2021-3

Bishops say avoid the J&J vaccine because it was made using fetal cells - Insider
  • US Catholic bishops are asking people to seek vaccines other than Johnson & Johnson’s if possible.
  • J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine was developed using human fetal tissue replicated from aborted stem cells.
  • Pope Francis previously said vaccines derived from aborted cells could be “morally acceptable.”
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops is speaking out against the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine because it was developed using cells from an aborted fetus.

“Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines raised concerns because an abortion-derived cell line was used for testing them, but not in their production,” a statement from the conference said.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, however, was “developed, tested, and is produced with abortion-derived cell lines raising additional moral concerns,” it continued.

The conference said that if there’s a choice, people should take the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines instead, referring back to its January recommendations that people opt for a vaccine with “the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines.”

If a person has no choice of vaccine, however, the conference said in that January guidance that it was morally permissible to accept any available coronavirus vaccine “given that the COVID-19 virus can involve serious health risks.”

The new statement followed an announcement from the Archdiocese of New Orleans on Friday that described the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as “morally compromised, as it uses the abortion-derived cell line in development and production of the vaccine as well as the testing.”

Insider has reached out to Johnson & Johnson for comment.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over the weekend for emergency use. As the first single-dose coronavirus vaccine to be authorized in the US, it could help Americans reach herd immunity — the level of resistance to COVID-19 needed to keep the coronavirus from spreading — more quickly.

Pope Francis has yet to specifically address the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but the Vatican previously said it could be “morally acceptable” to take vaccines “that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”

In a statement released in December, the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that while it encouraged pharmaceutical researchers to create vaccines without employing the use of fetuses, it also advised that Catholics would not violate the church’s beliefs if they used vaccines created using aborted cells.

“The certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in the production of the vaccines derive,” the statement said, noting that using the vaccines should “not in itself constitute a legitimation, even indirect, of the practice of abortion, and necessarily assumes the opposition to this practice by those who make use of these vaccines.”

The cells used in the development of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine derive from a fetus aborted in the early 1970s and have been replicated numerous times across various scientific firms and pharmaceutical companies.

Debate over the use of fetal stem cells has raged for decades, with anti-abortion advocates arguing that supporting companies that do such research amounts to tacit approval of abortion.

The US government regularly funds research employing fetal tissue. In 2014, for instance, the National Institutes of Health doled out about $76 million in support of projects using fetal cells, according to Scientific American.

President Donald Trump restricted the use of aborted fetal tissue in research during his term, even though Regeneron, the antibody therapy he touted as a “cure” for COVID-19, was tested using fetal cells. The scientific community has released a letter to President Joe Biden calling on him to roll back Trump’s restrictions to allow for increased fetal tissue use.

“We are confident that an independent and rigorous evaluation of the scientific and ethical merits of HFT [human fetal tissue] research would find that it will continue to advance scientific research and contribute to the development of new treatments,” the letter said.

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10 Anthology Shows That Explore the Dark Side of Technology

https://lifehacker.com/10-anthology-shows-that-explore-the-dark-side-of-techno-1846377256

10 Anthology Shows That Explore the Dark Side of Technology

The recent, Jordan Peele-hosted reboot of the iconic 1959 classic, The Twilight Zone brings sci-fi stories about morality to the modern age. A camcorder that can rewind time, but cannot save a young man from police brutality. A comedian who is literally deathly funny. A podcast that seemingly predicts every moment of a passenger’s plane ride. These stories hold a mirror up to current society, making viewers think in completely different ways about fate and circumstance. Unfortunately, the show was recently canceled after two seasons, but it will live on in streaming perpetuity. (And you can always revisit the original, which produced plenty of timeless episodes.)

Where to watch: The remake is on CBS All Access (or, if you’re reading this after March 4, 2021, Paramount+), while the original is available on Hulu.

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Beleaguered Hong Kong Celebrities Change Channels

https://variety.com/2021/digital/global/hong-kong-celebrities-change-channels-go-digital-1234913063/

Beleaguered Hong Kong Celebrities Change Channels

Back in the heyday of Hong Kong movies, the city’s film stars and those groomed by the Hong Kong industry were among the biggest stars in Asia.

Now, facing the twin pressures of coronavirus’ impact on productions and performances and, for some, a cold shoulder from mainland Chinese audiences, many Hong Kong stars are becoming digital creators and entrepreneurs.

Not only have film and TV opportunities dried up, well-paid promotional gigs, such as ribbon-cutting ceremonies for shop openings and commercial launches at shopping malls, were called off throughout 2020.

Pop concerts were canceled due to strict social distancing measures in Hong Kong. In December, a concert by Hins Cheung caused a COVID-19 scare when four audience members and a show worker tested positive.

World tours taking in cities populated by Chinese-speaking communities had traditionally been a major source of income for Hong Kong entertainers, even for lesser-known starlets. But global travel restrictions have made these all but impossible.

While television productions are still happening in Hong Kong, only a handful of film projects went into production last year. And the city’s 163-day cinema closure caused release and production delays.

It was inevitable that entertainers would cultivate new opportunities online, says Winnie Tam, an entertainment publicist. “They need to find ways to maintain their exposure,” she said. Some top Hong Kong celebrities have even followed the mainland trend and are selling commercial goods online via live streaming.

Digitally-savvy younger performers are focusing on producing original content. Nearly every member of the 12-piece boy band Mirror, for example, operates his own YouTube channel and Instagram account, regularly uploading vlogs of their daily routines and interacting with their fans on live streams, in addition to promoting their musical and TV releases. Some have produced scripted mini-comedies and music gigs with other musicians. Others are selling fashion products they have designed.

Some more-established celebrities have became successful YouTubers. Remus Choy of male Canto-pop group Grasshopper shows off his cooking skills on his YouTube channel, and has accumulated over 100,000 subscribers since its launch last year. Stephen Chan, the former GM of Television Broadcasts and a radio show host, runs his own channel featuring short dramas, live music shows, celebrity interviews and political commentaries, and has amassed more than 125,000 followers. Singer-actor Ronald Cheng has more than 211,000 YouTube followers.

Some Hong Kong celebrities who have been banished from working in mainland China because of their political views are among the most active online. Actor Chapman To (“SDU: Sex Duties Unit,” “Infernal Affairs”) and singer-actor Denise Ho (Life Without Principle”) are examples. To’s “Lateshow” channel has more than 630,000 subscribers and he is expanding his channel to an online television platform. Ho runs a regular podcast interviewing folks from all walks of life on her channel with over 120,000 followers.

In addition to producing their own content, stars have been more open to making appearances on new media channels, Tam explains. Whizoo, Pomato, CapTV, Trial & Error and the Macau-based Manner are among the most popular among celebrities. “Shooting for these channels might take more time than giving interviews to traditional media, but these channels reach a younger audience,” she said.

The heavy reliance on digital devices amid the pandemic meant that celebrities were left with no choice but to find their audiences in cyberspace, said Agnes Lam, a journalism lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Young stars in particular. “They have to commercialize their private life,” Lam said.

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A-listers previously shied away from appearing on the new media also have to adapt. Superstar actor-singer Andy Lau, who never had a social media channel, opened his first account on mainland China’s TikTok equivalent Douyin. He attracted 20 million followers within four days, before the platform downgraded him for watermarking his videos and including commercial links. Singer Eason Chan also fronted a live talk show in December to promote a new single.

But the most sophisticated player, according to Lam, is award-winning actor Chow Yun-fat. Chow does not have his own social media accounts or channels, but he remains a regular on people’s social media feeds. The veteran actor known as a hiking enthusiast who welcomes selfies with fans if they run into him on mountain trails. Selfies with Chow are among the most coveted items among netizens. “People play social media for Chow. He doesn’t have to manage his own account,” Lam says.

 

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How to Overcome Zoom Fatigue

https://lifehacker.com/how-to-overcome-zoom-fatigue-1846347171

How to Overcome Zoom Fatigue

Illustration for article titled How to Overcome 'Zoom Fatigue'

Photo: Girts Ragelis (Shutterstock)

Throughout the pandemic, many former office workers have been necessarily glued to their computer monitors. As work migrated online, video tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts have become the rare outlet for regular face-time with colleagues. But short of an alternative for seeing your co-workers without a screen in the way, all this videoconferencing has led to an epidemic of “Zoom fatigue.”

According to a new study from Stanford researchers published in the journal Technology, Mind and Behavior, Zoom fatigue is basically what it sounds like—resulting from the increased strain of maintaining connections at a distance through video chat—and it leads to burnout, stress, and monotony on the job. But there are ways you can mitigate the stranglehold video conferencing might have on your spirits.

What is Zoom fatigue?

It doesn’t apply to Zoom specifically, and the company’s executives would probably argue that the term does their marketing efforts a disservice. According to Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab, the issue applies to all video conferencing services. Generally speaking, it describes the fatigue caused by needing to feel perpetually switched on as you jump between browser windows for various online meetings. It makes sense, too, given that studies have shown that increased screen time—especially when coupled with a sedentary lifestyle—heightens your chances of developing moderate to severe depression.

If you suffer from this, you’re probably usually drowning in a heavy schedule of virtual meetings, and feeling like you can barely keep your head above water.

What causes it

Bailenson’s research pinpoints four reasons videoconferencing can be so mentally taxing:

  • Intense eye contact is tiring. Locking eyes with your colleagues to show that you’re paying attention can feel demanding. Doing so multiple times a day can feel oppressive. Short of making concerted eye contact throughout much of the meeting, your co-workers might think your attention is flagging.
  • Watching yourself during video chats is fatiguing. Watching yourself in a meeting only heightens performance anxiety. The psychological cost of living throughout the pandemic is burdensome enough—why compound it with worrying about how you look to your colleagues?
  • Video chats mean we move around less. If you’re constantly shackled to a desk, you’re not moving around nearly as much your body needs to. At least in a traditional office environment you might have to walk to a conference room on a different floor. Toggling between different video meetings means we sit more and move around less, to the detriment of our mental wellbeing.
  • Nonverbal cues are harder to interpret. The challenge of deciphering nonverbal cues only adds to the stress brought on by video chats. This can lead to what Bailenson calls a “cognitive overload,” where your head might be swimming in assumed subtext from the conversation.

Ways to combat Zoom fatigue

Luckily, Bailenson didn’t uncover the issues without offering solutions.

  • For eye contact: The researcher recommends not using the full screen setting. This way your colleagues will at least look a little smaller, so you won’t feel quite as pressured to keep your eyes fixed to theirs.
  • For self-consciousness: It isn’t really necessary to keep your camera switched on for every meeting. If you’re not presenting something, what’s the point of filming yourself? If you have to keep your camera on, Bailenson recommends adjusting your settings so you only see the other person on the chat, instead of having both videos available to both parties. In the meantime though, don’t hesitate to turn your camera off.
  • For mobility: Bailenson recommends getting a different camera you can link to your feed so you can still move around, and perhaps present from a standing position if you feel so inclined. Another recourse is to turn your camera off again and to wear bluetooth headphones, so you can walk around your house or apartment.
  • For anxiety over nonverbal cues: Turning your camera off also works fine, but to reinforce it even further, the researcher recommends listening to the meeting while away from your computer. This way, if you’re only using audio and feel comfortable attending the meeting while, say, putting away the dishes, you won’t be worried about over analyzing all the micro-cues that routinely pop up.

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Confuse Google Ads With This Chrome Extension

https://lifehacker.com/confuse-google-ads-with-this-chrome-extension-1846337139

Confuse Google Ads With This Chrome Extension

In an online world in which countless systems are trying to figure out what exactly you enjoy so they can serve you up advertising about it, it really fucks up their profiling mechanisms when they think you like everything. And to help you out with this approach, I recommend checking out the Chrome/Firefox extension AdNauseum. You won’t find it on the Chrome Web Store, however, as Google frowns at extensions that screw up Google’s efforts to show you advertising for some totally inexplicable reason. You’ll have to install it manually, but it’s worth it.

It’s no secret the internet is packed with companies eager to figure out everything you do, everything you like, and what things you like more than the other things you like so you can be shown advertising that will remind you to buy and do those liked things. Such is the way of the online world—the price we pay to access content freely.

You can try to combat data-collection in all kinds of fun ways, including manually blocking or clearing the data companies have on you and preventing yourself from being tracked as much as possible with various adblockers, anti-tracking extensions, and privacy-themed browsers, but considering the number of systems out there tracking you, those methods can only be so effective.

AdNauseum works on a different principle. As Lee McGuigan writes over at the MIT Technology Review:

“AdNauseam is like conventional ad-blocking software, but with an extra layer. Instead of just removing ads when the user browses a website, it also automatically clicks on them. By making it appear as if the user is interested in everything, AdNauseam makes it hard for observers to construct a profile of that person. It’s like jamming radar by flooding it with false signals. And it’s adjustable. Users can choose to trust privacy-respecting advertisers while jamming others. They can also choose whether to automatically click on all the ads on a given website or only some percentage of them.”

McGuigan goes on to describe the various experiments he worked on with AdNauseum founder Helen Nissenbaum, allegedly proving that the extension can make it past Google’s various checks for fraudulent or otherwise illegitimate clicks on advertising. Google, as you might expect, denies the experiments actually prove anything, and maintains that a “vast majority” of these kinds of clicks are detected and ignored.

Frankly, I’d give the extension a try. Worst case, it doesn’t do anything. Best case, you find that the various ads you’re seeing around the web aren’t really specific to anything you’re interested in—at least, not as much as before, when you swore “Facebook was listening” because you saw an ad in your feed for something you talked about with a friend the day prior.

Once you’ve installed AdNauseum, you’ll be presented with three simple options:

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Screenshot: David Murphy

Feel free to enable all three, but heed AdNauseum’s warning: You probably don’t want to use the extension alongside another adblocker, as the two will conflict and you probably won’t see any added benefit.

As with most adblockers, there are plenty of options you can play with if you dig deeper into AdNauseum’s settings. For example, you can customize your filter lists and add or remove anything you want, in case you’re running into issues with adblocks (or need to block more):

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Screenshot: David Murphy

You can also adjust how often AdNauseum “clicks” on ads you’re served under its general Settings menu:

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Screenshot: David Murphy

I confess, I couldn’t get AdNauseum to produce effective results on my Firefox installation—nothing appeared “clicked” in my vault—but the extension’s adblocking capabilities worked wonderfully. However, I have a pretty unique adblocking setup at home, which could explain my issues.

AdNauseum may not be the be-all, end-all solution to thwarting online advertising, but it is an incredibly useful adblocker—a fork of the ever-popular uBlock Origin—so it doesn’t hurt to give it a whirl. If you like it, great. If you don’t, there are plenty of other tools you can try to fight online advertising—or at the very least, to prevent yourself from seeing it, even if you’re still being profiled by a thousand sites and services every time you load a web page.

And note that AdNauseum still (theoretically) generates revenue for the sites tracking you. That in itself might cause you to adopt a nuclear approach vs. an obfuscation-by-noise approach. Your call.

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