Lip-sync battles, real-life Monopoly and more in this week’s Staff Picks

Staff picks 09_28_2013

natt garunNatt Garun: NYMag editorial reminds me why I’d never quit New York

Every season, a fresh batch of young journalist hopefuls flock to New York City, hoping to make it in our increasingly connected and growing media industry. An article this week in New York Magazine’s ‘The Cut’ section highlights a 20-something writer who moved to the Big Apple to do just that, only to leave 18 months later when she found that life in the city is not as the movies romanticize. “Why would I want to make it there when I can make it everywhere else?” she ponders. “Many young journalists write to me with the same postgraduation conundrum: They know they need in-person connections and experience to jump-start their careers, but the entire media industry is located in a city that is prohibitively expensive and socially challenging … Your early twenties are going to suck no matter what.”

In two weeks, I will turn 24 years old, but I couldn’t help but feel a completely lack of sympathy or empathy for the author. It’s not that I don’t believe New York is a tough place – it’s extremely harsh – but coming here expecting life to work out like a romance novel was the writer’s first mistake. Sure, connections help build a career, but talent, ambition, perseverance, and a little bit of luck outshines any phone number Mommy and Daddy could have snuck in your Contacts list before fleeing your hometown.

It’s my last week writing full time for Digital Trends, and to say the article made me reflect is putting it lightly. I identify as a local New Yorker despite having moved here from Bangkok when I was 9. And while my past colleagues may have had some help networking their way to their positions, I come from a family with no connections – and especially not in the media industry. In my past two and a half years of professional tech reporting, I’ve met and worked with some of the most talented writers in the biz. And it’s not because I gave up 18 months into a postgraduate career; it’s because I kept my optimism high, knowing that at the end of the day, no one ever regrets following their passion.

New York may not be where I’ll finally end up in life, but it’s a place that taught me how to strive to succeed. It’s these like-minded, ambitious people that believe in New York – and themselves – that drive us to work even harder just for a taste of the reward we call success.


Ryan FlemingRyan Fleming: Before Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul loved The Price is Right (a lot)

This Sunday marks the series finale of Breaking Bad. After five years, one of the most pivotal, emotional, and consistently excellent television series of all time reaches its intense conclusion, and if you are a fan of the show, you know that there are going to be a lot surprises to come – and probably some heartbreak as well.

The show has maintained a high level of quality throughout its five seasons, and that is due in no small part to the acting, which has deservedly earned the stars multiple honors and awards. One of those actors is Aaron Paul, who plays Jesse. Paul has turned his role into a vehicle for himself, earning two Emmys for Best Supporting Actor (he is one of only five actors to accomplish that), and landing the starring role in the upcoming film Need for Speed. Paul is well on his way to super-stardom – which makes this video all the funnier.

In 2000, fresh off an appearance on Beverly Hills, 90210, Paul was selected as a contestant on The Price is Right, which at the time was hosted by Bob Barker. Paul was… well, he was definitely a fan. A very, very big fan. Check out the video below.

Les ShuLes Shu: Here’s what the Monopoly properties look like today

You may not be aware that the properties from the Monopoly board game were named after real places in Atlantic City unless you took the time to read up on the instructions (yes, there are rules to the game – believe it). While it’s not exactly a big secret, most of us have no clue what these properties actually look like in real life – only what we can imagine from playing the game or watching repeats of Boardwalk Empire. We know that you’re screwed if you land on Park Place, and you’re a slumlord if you own Baltic Avenue.

So, to discover what’s actually at these locations in today’s Atlantic City, Scouting NY’s Nick Carr took his camera down the shore and photographed all the areas mentioned in the game. Cheapo purple-card Mediterranean Avenue looks like what one would suspect (desolate and downscale), while Boardwalk is, of course, the beachfront home to the many casinos. The great part about this project is that Carr took the time to describe all the photos, adding interesting trivia that no Monopoly player would have ever known.


Andrew CoutsAndrew Couts: Check out the check-ins

It always puzzled me why anyone would use Foursquare, an app that essentially tells anyone who wants to know where you are and, perhaps more importantly, where you are not. The whole thing just seems like the equivalent of throwing up a huge sign that says, “I’m not home. Come rob my apartment!” And for what? To become “mayor” of a Krispy Kreme? But after seeing this Foursquare-made time lapse video of all the check-ins logged during 24 hours in New York City, I am at least happy that a lot of people disagree with my assessment. Visualized, this check-in data provides a mesmerizing account of where we go and what we do over the course of a day. You won’t be able to watch it just once.

Jeff Van CampJeff Van Camp: Jimmy Fallon is on fire!

I’m not sure if he’s just excited to dethrone Jay Leno and avenge Conan, or he’s just genuinely getting better at his job, but Jimmy Fallon has been doing some funny-ass stuff lately. A couple weeks ago I wrote about Joking Bad, but lately he’s had some other funny sketches.

This one makes fun of the Internet for using hashtags so much.

And this one has some of the best lip syncing I’ve ever seen. I don’t really watch late night TV these days, but maybe I should?


Microsoft is ‘handing even more of online life’ to Google, Mozilla CEO says

Not everyone is happy with Microsoft's switch to Google's Chromium engine. In a new blog post, Mozilla CEO Chris Beard writes that he believes the move is "handing online life control" to Google.
Movies & TV

Sit down and watch some of the best stand-up comedy on Netflix

Feeling a little funny? There are hundreds of hilarious comedy specials out there, and you can't be expected to comb through them all. Lucky for you, we've compiled a list of the best stand-up specials on Netflix.
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The best Christmas TV episodes and specials

To help get you in the spirit of the season, we've compiled a list of the best Christmas TV episodes and specials. Whether it's free episodes on your favorite streaming service, or stop-motion classics, look no further.
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The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
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Ice meets fire in HBO's latest 'Game of Thrones' season 8 teaser

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable, if you don't mind spoilers.

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

There are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, and though the selection is robust, finding a solid solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here, we've rounded up best PDF editors, so you can edit no matter your budget or OS.

Google Translate updated to reduce gender bias in its translations

Google is changing how Google Translate offers translations. Previously when you entered a word like doctor, Translate would offer a masculine interpretation of the word. Now, Translate will offer both masculine and feminine versions.

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Learning how to record your computer screen shouldn't be a challenge. Lucky for you, our comprehensive guide lays out how to do so using a host of methods, including both free and premium utilities, in both MacOS and Windows 10.

From beautiful to downright weird, check out these great dual monitor wallpapers

Multitasking with two monitors doesn't necessarily mean you need to split your screens with two separate wallpapers. From beautiful to downright weird, here are our top sites for finding the best dual monitor wallpapers for you.

Encryption-busting law passed in Australia may have global privacy implications

Controversial laws have been passed in Australia which oblige tech companies to allow the police to access encrypted messages, undermining the privacy of encryption with potentially global effects.

Can Microsoft’s Airband Initiative close broadband gap for 25M Americans?

A new report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says that 25 million Americans do not have access to broadband internet. Of these, more than 19 million are living in rural communities. Can Microsoft help out?

Microsoft’s Chromium Edge browser may be adding your Chrome extensions

Fans sticking to Google Chrome because due to its vast extension library might be able to switch over to Microsoft's latest iteration of Edge, as a project manager confirms that the company has its eyes on Chrome extensions.

If you've lost a software key, these handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.

Google+ continues to sink with a second massive data breach. Abandon ship now

Google+ was scheduled to shut its doors in August 2019, but the second security breach in only a few months has caused the company to move its plan forward a few months. It might be a good idea to delete your account sooner than later.