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Defying water, science myths and common sense in this week’s Staff Picks

Staff picks 07_13_2013 header

Andrew CoutsAndrew Couts: Everything you know about science is wrong (or at least these 50 things)

We all know that you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet. But did you know that you can’t trust everything you learned in science class either? It’s true. For example, the brontosaurus never existed. Bats aren’t actually blind. And “dog years” don’t actually equal seven human years. These are just a taste of the 50 science misconceptions blasted apart in this week’s video from know-it-all publication Mental Floss, which will blow apart so many of the things you thought were true about the world that it’ll leave you questioning damn near everything else. Which, if you think about it, is really what science is all about. But be warned: This sudden influx of contrarian knowledge will make you want to correct anyone who tries to pass off myth as fact. And that, you can be sure, will make you seem like a prick.

jennifer-bergenJen Bergen: Goodbye Microsoft, hello dancing

A little over a year ago, Karen X Cheng resigned from her position on Microsoft’s Office team, and did so with a video of herself singing her own rendition of Don McLean’s American Pie, entitled “Bye, Bye Excel and I.” We gotta hand it to Cheng ¬– if she doesn’t want to be a software engineer, she could certainly make it as a singer. But Cheng had something else in mind when she left the company: Not only was she leaving for a startup called Exec – she also wanted to teach herself how to dance in a year, documenting each day on video.

Well, her year of dance lessons (some professional, and some self-taught using YouTube videos) are over, and Cheng now says people mistake her for someone who’s been dancing for years. After watching the video below, we’re sure you’ll agree. On her website, Cheng explains that she practiced everywhere ¬– the bus stop, in line at the grocery store, at work while one hand was on the mouse and the other was practicing drills. She emphasizes that her story is about “having a dream and not knowing how to get there ¬– but starting anyway.” Cheng posted her video on July 9, and it already has close to 1.8 million views. Check it out below.

natt garunNatt Garun: This robot vacuum cleaner simulator sucks

Raise your virtual hands if you like cleaning. Did you say yes? Oh, piss off, no one actually likes cleaning. It’s the human hatred for cleaning that products like the Roomba have become so commercially successful. So if we hate cleaning so much, why in the world did someone think it’d be a good idea to create a “Robot Vacuum Cleaner Simulator” so you can glide in Roomba’s treads for the day? Yep, this simulator is a real game where players can pretend to go floor level and roam around the apartment, picking up dust balls scattered throughout. Why there are lumps of dust in the shower is beyond me, since I’m not even sure why you would want to role play as the one item you bought to do the things you didn’t want to be responsible for.

The sad news is I gave this game a shot. The good news is you get to roll around as fake Roomba while smooth jazz music classes up the apartment. The depressing news is in the time it takes for you to complete a level, you could have probably cleaned your own real-life home. Pass this game along to your boyfriend or mom, if you absolutely hate their guts.

ryan-flemingRyan Fleming: Science kicks dirt in the face of nature

Rust-Oleum has just brought to market a magic-like new chemical known as “NeverWet,” and it will blow your freaking mind. Originally developed as an industrial spray, NeverWet – and yes, that is a very silly name – will repel almost any liquid. Completely. And with prejudice. It will then point at the liquids and say “not in my house” before flexing.

But wait, there’s more! Actually, I have no idea if there is more, and I don’t know how legit this stuff actually is. To be honest though, I don’t really want to know if it turns out to be a lie. If true, it raises so many interesting possibilities.

What happens if you lather it in your hair? Can you never wash it again? If you put it on your clothes does it mean you just have to burn them instead of throwing them in the laundry? Could you put it on someone’s ice cream and then watch them cry as their chocolate topping simply slides off (assuming the chemical isn’t toxic – and it almost certainly is). Could you put it all over yourself and your clothes, then slowly walk out of a lake without a drop, creating a new religion for yourself in the process? So many possibilities.

NeverWet (seriously, what a dumb name) is made using chemicals, and possibly the blood of a unicorn. The other ingredients are being kept in a locked vault under Hogwarts. It’s available now at Home Depot, and a can will cost you around $20.

caleb-denisonCaleb Denison: A friendly reminder to lock down that router

I’ve got about four years of phone-based tech support under my belt. And in those years, I’ve dealt with some of the nuttiest phone calls and craziest people out there. So crazy, in fact, that no matter how hard I tried, I was never able to adequately explain to my friends and family just how insane my job could get. Sometimes, you have to hear it for yourself to believe it. With that in mind, check out this call that “Tech Guy” Leo Laporte took on his phone-in Internet show a couple of years ago.

The caller, “Jennifer,” complains that her Wi-Fi router disappeared. “The Linksys,” as she refers to it, just up and disappeared a month and a half ago. Adding a Wi-Fi extender hasn’t solved the problem. What to do?

LaPorte sees a red flag and painfully asks a “silly question.” Hilarity ensues as we discover that Jennifer has been freeloading off her neighbors, knows damn well that’s what she’s been doing, then attempts to justify it.

Eventually Laporte gets on his soapbox and it gets a lot less funny. But, this brings up a serious point. You MUST SECURE YOUR WIRELESS ROUTER! Yes, I’m yelling at you. If you’re rolling your eyes right now, then you got the memo. Congratulations. But if you haven’t secured your Wi-Fi router, then you are just asking for trouble. I’m assuming – and so will any other computer-savvy ne’er do well – that if you haven’t bothered to yet, then your computer’s workgroup name is probably still set to WORKGROUP. You might as well invite me into your home so I can steal your whole life. People, this stuff isn’t new anymore. My four-year old daughter could steal your identity with an iPad while cruising down your sidewalk on her princess bike with training wheels. Sack up and secure your stuff. And have a nice weekend.

Smart Home

This Silicon Valley studio rents for $1,500 per month — to 2 cats

A man in San Jose, California, rents a studio apartment for $1,500 per month for a very important reason: So his daughter's two cats have a place to call their own. It may be the swankiest cat pad on the West Coast.
Computing

Lost your router? Here's how to find its IP address to help track it down

Changing the login information for your router isn't always easy, that's why so many have that little card on the back. But in order to use it, you need to know where to go. Here's how to find the IP address of your router.
Deals

Tidying up with Netflix’s Marie Kondo? Save on ClosetMaid essentials at Wayfair

Netflix recently premiered Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, a show about decluttering and organizing. If you want to try to live by her philosophy in 2019, Wayfair is offering up to 70 percent off on ClosetMaid's organization essentials.
Smart Home

A.I.’s humorous side: Here are the funniest things to ask Alexa

Amazon's Alexa voice assistant has a wide repertoire of funny responses, jokes, and hidden replies that you can have fun with. Here are the best funny things to ask Alexa and examples of what her responses are.
Computing

Miss AIM? These are the best desktop chat clients to use today

Desktop chat clients are far from dead. In fact, they're currently enjoying something of a renaissance. So, which one should you be using? We take a peek at the best chat clients for teams, gamers and mainstream web surfers.
Computing

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than ever, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.
Smart Home

Booth babes, banned sex toys, and other mishaps at CES 2019

From female sex toys bans, to fake Tesla/robot collision stories, there was some weird stuff going on at CES 2019 this year. Here are some of the biggest mishaps and flubs at the world's biggest tech show.
Mobile

Apple Maps boosts Flyover locations, indoor mall maps, and more

In a boost for Apple Maps, the tech company has recently added more than 50 new locations for Flyover, the feature that offers spectacular 3D photo views of particular cities and famous landmarks around the world.
Mobile

Google has found a clever way to make your search history more useful

Google has found a clever way to make more use of your search history by showing links to pages you've visited before. Ideal for repeat searches for the same page, the links show up on cards at the top of mobile search results.
Web

Shutdown makes dozens of .gov websites insecure due to expired TLS certificates

The US government shutdown is causing trouble in internet security. As the shutdown enters day 22, dozens of government websites have been rendered insecure or inaccessible due to expired transport layer security (TLS) certificates.
Computing

Our favorite Chrome themes add some much-needed pizzazz to your boring browser

Sometimes you just want Chrome to show a little personality and ditch the grayscale for something a little more lively. Lucky for you, we've sorted through the Chrome Web Store to find best Chrome themes available.
Social Media

A quick swipe will soon let you keep bingeing YouTube on mobile devices

The YouTube mobile app has a new, faster way to browse: Swiping. Once the update rolls out, users can swipe to go to the next (or previous) video in the recommended list, even while viewing in full screen.
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Business

Cathay Pacific messes up first-class ticket prices — again

A couple of weeks ago, an error on Cathay Pacific's website resulted in first-class seats selling for a tenth of the price. On Sunday, January 13, the airline made the error again. The good news is that it'll honor the bookings.