Skip to content

Archive for


The best of biomimicry: Here’s 7 brilliant examples of nature-inspired design

Sometimes the best solution to a problem isn’t alway the most complex, and, similarly, the best answer isn’t always a new one one. While us humans man just be getting our feet wet (relatively speaking) with ingenuity, the animal kingdom has millennia of evolutionary trial-and-error to learn from.

More: Interactive map shows how animals will flee warming temperatures

Biomimicry, as it’s called, is a method for creating solutions to human challenges by emulating designs and ideas found in nature. It’s used everywhere: buildings, vehicles, and even materials — so we thought it’d be fun to round up a few of the most noteworthy examples. Here are eight of the most astounding technological applications inspired by nature.

Bullet trains inspired by Kingfisher birds

biomimicry examples kingfisher bird123RF/JoseManuelGelpiDiaz

biomimicry examples bullet train123RF/Tupungato

When Japanese engineers took on the daunting task of upgrading their high-speed bullet trains their design hit one unfortunate snag. The problem wasn’t getting this trains up to the desired speeds, but rather the massive amount of noise created by the displacement of air ahead of the trains. As the trains entered tunnels, the vehicles would often create a loud shock wave known as “tunnel boom.” The power of the shock waves even caused structural damage to several tunnels.

The design team determined the culprit to be the trains rather blunt front nose cap. To minimize the tunnel boom and increase overall aerodynamics they would need a more streamlined nose. The engineers eventually modeled the next model after the beak of the Kingfisher bird.

Kingfisher birds have specialized beaks allowing them to dive into water to hunt while making a minimal splash. Utilizing this new nose, the next generation 500 series trains were 10 percent faster, consumed 15 percent less electricity, and, most importantly, no more “boom.”

Wind turbines modeled after Humpback whales

biomimicry examples humpback whale123RF/Jostone

biomimicry examples whale powerWhalePower

Many of our modern aerodynamic designs rely on rather basic principles. To obtain optimal lift and minimal drag, sleek edges and clean lines are key. However, throughout the animal kingdom, many species, capable of exceptional lift. The Humpback whale, for example, uses bumpy, tubercle fins for propulsion — which seems rather counterintuitive.

A Harvard led research team determined that these nodules, enable the whales to choose a steeper “angle of attack.” The angle of attack is the angle between the flow of water and the face of the flipper. With Humpback whales, this attack angle can be up to 40 percent steeper than a smooth flipper. Due to these small ridges, sectional stalls occur at different points along the fin. This makes a full on stall much easier to avoid.

Tests conducted by the U.S. Naval Academy, using model flippers, determined these biomimetic fins reduced drag by nearly a third and improved lift by eight percent overall.  Whale Power, a company based in Toronto, Canada has already capitalized on this latest tubercle tech. According to MIT, Whale Power’s biomimetic blades help generate the “same amount of power at 10 miles per hour that conventional turbines generate at 17 miles per hour.”

Antimicrobial film mimicking sharkskin

biomimicry examples shark123RF/MarcHenauer

biomimicry examples  l123RF/LeonardZhukovsky

Sharks are one of the apex predators of the seas. Their hunting prowess has been fine-tuned over millennia of evolution. While sharks are well known for their acute sense of smell and regenerating teeth, new research may actually point to the species’ skin as its most evolutionary niche asset.

Sharkskin is covered with so-called “dermal denticles.” Think of these as essentially flexible layers of small teeth. When in motion, these dermal denticles actually create a low-pressure zone. This leading edge vortex essentially “pulls” the shark forward and also helps to reduce drag. Needless to say, there are plenty of applications for such a design.

Speedo notoriously incorporated biomimetic sharkskin into a line of swimsuits for the 2008 Olympics. According to the Smithsonian, 98 percent of the medals at the 2008 Olympics were won by swimmers wearing this sharkskin swimwear. Since then the technology has been banned in Olympic competition.

Similarly, while many aquatic species are known to host other marines species on their bodies (such as barnacles) sharks remain relatively “clean” so to speak. These microscopic dermal denticles also help sharks fend-off micro organisms. The U.S. Navy has since developed a material, known as Sharklet, based on this skin pattern to help inhibit marine growth on ships. Based on this same idea, many hospitals are also using a biomimetic sharkskin film to combat cross-contamination.

Sharkskin, so hot right now.

Harvesting water like the Stenocara beetle


It’s really no secret at this juncture: access to water is pivotal to any sustainable civilization and life on this planet in general. While some locations on the globe have bountiful water resources such as lakes and rivers, more arid climates must make do with limited precipitation. Technology derived from a beetle thriving in one of the harshest environments on Earth may very well help start the next generation of clean water harvesting.

The Stenocara beetle lives in the arid African Namib dessert, but the dime-sized critter has an evolutionary hack to help it literally pull water out of literal thin air. A pattern of nodes along the beetle’s back enable the creature to collect moisture from the morning fog. The droplets then slide off the bumps into small channels towards the beetle’s mouth. Academics are currently using this research to develop biomimetic patterns capable of harvesting water from the air.

Absorbing shock like a woodpecker


Woodpeckers are known for their exceptional excavating capacity. The creatures use their beaks to forage for insects and also to create nooks for themselves. As woodpeckers bore these holes, they experience a deceleration of 1200 gravitational pulls (Gs) nearly 22 times per second. To put that in perspective, a severe car crash would deliver the equivalent of 120 Gs on a passenger. Just how does the woodpecker withstand these perpetual jolts?

The answer: natural shock absorbers. Using video and CT scans, researched at the University of California, Berkeley, discovered that woodpeckers have four structures designed to absorb mechanical shock. The bird’s semi-elastic beak, an area of “spongy bone” material behind the skull, and cerebrospinal fluid all work in unison to extend the time over which this concussion occurs and therefore inhibiting vibration. Based on this multifaceted design, the team is working to create an array applications ranging from more shock-resistant flight recorders (black boxes) to micrometeorite-resistant spacecrafts.

Cephalopod camouflage

biomimicry examples squid123RF/Wrangel

biomimicry examples camo123RF/KatarzynaBiałasiewicz

Squids, like all cephalopods, are capable of glowing (bioluminescence) as well as changing their skin color. This camouflaging capacity enables them to hide from predators while the bioluminescence allows them to communicate with and/or attract a mate. This complex behavior is produced by a network specialized skin cells and muscles.

Researchers at the University of Houston have developed a similar device capable of detecting its surrounds and matching this environment in mere seconds. This early prototype uses a flexible, pixelated grid utilizing actuators, light sensors, and reflectors. As the light sensors detect a a change in the surroundings, a signal is sent to the corresponding diode. This creates heat in the area and the thermochromatic grid then changes color. This artificial “skin” could have both military and commercial applications down the road.

Ventilation systems inspired by termites

biomimicry examples termite mounds123RF/WolfgangBerroth

biomimicry examples shopping centerWikimedia

Eastgate Centre, Harare, Zimbabwe

Oftentimes, biomimicry isn’t simply about mimicking an anatomical or evolutionary niche of a species. Sometimes, we can even take cues from the structures these animals build to create better life support systems for ourselves.

Termites often get a bad rap because of their destructive properties. However, termites are infamous for creating some of the most elaborate ventilation systems for cooling on the planet. Even in some of the hottest places, these termite mounds, remain exceptionally cool inside.

Using an intricate network of intentionally air pockets, the mounds create a natural ventilation system using convection.  The engineering firm Arup built an entire shopping center in Zimbabwe based on this natural convection system. Currently the system uses 10 percent less energy than a traditional air-conditioned facility.


Space-share shipping service Roadie partners with Goodwill for donation delivery

Why it matters to you

If you’re looking for a low-cost, insured delivery service or a side-hustle when traveling, Roadie could fit the bill.

There’s never a bad time to clear out extra stuff and Roadie‘s on-the-way delivery network can help. Through the end of February, first-time Roadie users can get free donation pickup and delivery to a local Goodwill donation center.

According to Roadie, more than one billion cubic feet of excess capacity is available in passenger vehicles on the road in the U.S. at any time. Roadie launched in the southeast in 2015 as a gig economy sharing service connecting people who have thing to move or delivery drivers who are already planning to go in the destination direction.

More: Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb may have a champion in transportation pick Elaine Chao

Now expanded to all 50 states, Roadie periodically partners with national charities. Through February 28, 2017, Roadie will pick up or deliver Goodwill donations or purchases to or from the organization’s local centers. The offer is good for new Roadie users in the form of a discount up to $62 off the normal Roadie delivery fee, which means in many cases the delivery will be totally free.

Roadie matches people who want to send stuff to the appropriate drivers. People can ship boxes, furniture, and even pets. Pets have to be in kennels, but other items don’t need special packing or even boxing. Just protect the items as you would if you were hauling them in your own vehicle.

Shippers and drivers get to choose who they’ll work with based on personal profiles and what’s being shipped. Drivers who transport pets are screened to be sure they’re pet-friendly.

While the item (or animal) is in transit, both the sender and receiver can track the delivery via a smartphone app. All deliveries are automatically insured up to $500, with additional coverage up to $10,000 available through Roadie.

Roadie was designed as a way for people to earn money while they are on trips or driving around. Drivers set Gig Alerts to be notified of delivery gigs that start within 3, 10, 25, or 50 miles of their home address. Most local delivery gigs pay between $8 and $50 and long distance deliveries can pay up to $400. The Roadie website driver’s section FAQ also states “you can write off mileage on your taxes for places you were driving anyway,” but you should check with a tax professional to see if it would apply.


Ohroma’s ‘smell-o-vision’ VR wants to put your nose in a porn star’s room

Why it matters to you

Adult entertainment company SodaCam thinks the future of porn is live virtual reality with a smell-o-vision gas mask. Yep, really!

Hollywood in the 1950s, at the height of Doris Day movies and the kind of musicals La-La Land is riffing on, probably isn’t the first thing that pops into your head when you think of the porn industry.

That’s because you don’t work in the porn industry.

In fact, just as movies in the 1950s introduced gimmick after gimmick to compete with the new threat of TV, so the adult industry today is desperately trying to come up with ways of selling you things that you can’t readily get through a quick free visit to your local streaming website.

One solution? 360-degree virtual reality. Another? Live models for users to interact with. The latest? Smell-o-vision. That’s right: the infamous odor-releasing movie accessory that debuted with 1960’s Scent of Mystery is making a comeback. And we can’t even work out whether that’s a pun.

More: Oculus wants to help you set up the perfect virtual reality room

The company behind this is a “live cams” business called CamSoda.

One of the most surprising elements of OhRoma is that the scents offered aren’t… what you would expect.

“The closer you can bring the relationship between model and user, the more successful the model is, and the better the overall experience,” CamSoda president Daron Lundeen told Digital Trends. “In our labs we’re constantly on the lookout for ways to connect the two. Scent is something that’s incredibly powerful. Car manufacturers spend millions of dollars to create the ‘new car’ smell that’s going to help sell their cars. We’re trying to do the same thing for models.”

What CamSoda’s engineers have created is a gas mask-style device with various interchangeable canisters, a heating element, and Bluetooth connectivity. You then load it up with one of 30 different fragrances, pop on your regular VR goggles, and get on with… whatever you’re getting on with.

Get your nose out of the gutter

One of the most surprising elements of OhRoma is that the scents offered aren’t… what you would expect. At least not entirely. We won’t elaborate here, but presumably your mind went to the same place that ours’ did when you first heard about smell-o-vision pornography. Wrong! Well, sort of. While there are certainly scents for ““private parts,” “body odor,” and more, there are also broader categories like “aphrodisiacs,” and “environments.”

“What we’ve found is that a lot of the models wanted to go toward things like food smells and other things which create an atmosphere,” Lundeen said. “One model does a baking show. Another does a gaming show, where the scent you get is of beer and potato chips.”

Sure, beer and potato chip smells probably aren’t what Roland Barthes, the French literary critic, had in mind when he wrote his famous essay on the “Semiotics Of Striptease.” However, much as Barthes’ exotic dancer is most eroticized when concealing herself and, paradoxically, at her most “desexualized at the very moment when she is stripped naked,” so too do the olfactory parlor games of the OhRoma girls add an element that has nothing to do with sex… and everything to do with sex.

‘Smell profiles’ are now a thing

The technologically is intriguing, too. The models get to program the experience themselves, and then set off different “smells profiles” as they wish, like pyrotechnics or lighting cues in a rock show. The end user also gets to control the “volume” of the scents, and eliminate any they don’t like, which makes for an intriguingly interactive experience.

Speaking to Lundeen, perhaps the most fascinating thing is his vision for making porn cutting-edge. Pornography has always helped drive new technologies (most famously, and perhaps prophetically, the triumph of JVC’s VHS format over Sony’s Betamax was due to VHS’ support in the porn industry), but the two worlds have increasingly collided in the digital age. Few companies epitomize the crossover better than CamSoda.

In the movie Boogie Nights, Burt Reynold’s Jack Horner was patterned after studio directors like Cecil B. DeMille and Charlie Chaplin. Today, a person like (the ironically anti-porn) Steve Jobs is more likely to be an inspiration.

Jobs had a vision for the Apple ecosystem, where iPhone sales would drive Mac sales, Mac sales would drive iTunes sales, iTunes sales would drive iPad sales, and so forth. Lundeen, too, sees a whole CamSoda hardware ecosystem lined up. Only instead of tablets and smartphones, what the company wants to sell are OhRoma gas masks and “teledildonics,” connected sex toys that vibrate for the user whenever a model touches their counterpart hundreds or thousands of miles away.

It’s a connected experience and, as comical as some of it undoubtedly sounds, it’s tough not to be impressed by the breadth of vision.

Hey, it’s affordable

Right now, the OhRoma rig is available for $99, which includes the mask, as well as 30 different scents. Extra scents and top-ups then cost $5.99. Shipments are set to take place in the first part of this year.

More: Everything can taste sweet with the Taste Buddy gadget

So is this just a publicity stunt, or does Lundeen genuinely believe that this is where the adult industry needs to go?

“What we’ve found is that if we focus too much on what is going to make us or the models more money right now, and what can’t be pirated, you wind up not being innovative,” he said. “It’s far better to be creative and try new things, and see where it leads you.”

Just make sure you lock your door first. This one’s gonna be pretty tough to explain.


An ambitious Planet Coaster player has turned the Death Star into a killer roller coaster

Why it matters to you

Planet Coaster users are known for their creativity and ingenuity, but this creation has gone above and beyond — and you can download it for yourself.

The Planet Coaster community is no stranger to wild and extravagant designs. Users have created everything from pitch-perfect recreations of famous real-world roller coasters to massive post-apocalyptic theme parks inspired by the Fallout series. But one user has gone a step further and re-created one of the most famous movie sequences in film history — the Death Star trench run.

The ride starts out inside a rebel carrier, where you pass through hangars filled with iconic Star Wars ships, like the Millennium Falcon, and oddly enough, a snowspeeder. The ride kicks off with a jump to lightspeed, followed by a flight through an asteroid field and a pitched battle between an X-Wing squadron and a handful of TIE fighters.

More: Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 developer sues Atari for $2 million in alleged unpaid royalties

From start to finish, the ride is richly detailed, featuring film-accurate props and backgrounds, culminating in a tense cork-screwing ride through the Death Star trenches before a leap back to light speed. The ride itself borrows from the best parts of Disneyland’s Star Tours and Space Mountain to create an unforgettable digital roller coaster experience.

Who is the architect of this impressive feat of digital engineering? According to Kotaku, a Steam user by the name of Chuck Maurice. He’s also created two other roller coaster and theme park experiences for Planet Coaster, both of which are just as lovingly detailed as the Star Wars ride.

More: Star Wars: Episode VIII finally has a title, but who exactly is ‘The Last Jedi’?

Maurice’s first two outings, a Mount Everest expedition, and a still-in-progress recreation of a lost temple inspired by the Indiana Jones films, feature similarly detailed environments and impressive engineering.

It’s not the first time an ambitious Planet Coaster user has brought Star Wars into a digital theme park, but it’s certainly one of the most impressive examples. If you have Planet Coaster, you can download the ride right from the Steam Workshop.


The best iPhone 7 deals for every carrier, including free offers

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have been available for some time now and while the red-hot Black Friday deals have passed, you can still save on an iPhone 7  by taking advantage of the latest offers from carriers. Before you pay full price for Apple’s latest phone, check out how you can get your iPhone 7 at a discounted rate, or even for free.


Your best bet for saving on a new iPhone through T-Mobile is to switch to the carrier. The company is currently offering $150 per line delivered on a prepaid MasterCard card when you switch to T-Mobile ONE. You must sign up for a qualifying plan to get the $150 gift card.

T-Mobile isn’t providing any bonuses for trade-in models at the moment, but you can get an estimate of how much your current device will be worth online by visiting its trade-in page and entering your carrier, device, and model. The page gives you a rough estimate on the spot, however, the actual value of the device isn’t finalized until you ship it in.

See offer on T-Mobile


Verizon’s iPhone 7 current promo is a little backwards, but it still saves you money. Basically, you’ll pay for the iPhone starting at $27 for 24 months and then receive a $200 credit towards any iPad upon purchase. It’s worth noting that a two-year activation is required for iPad purchased.

You can also check the value of your old or current device to see how much you could get in instant credits towards a new iPhone 7. If you’re looking to trade in to save, head over to the carrier appraisal page to get an instant appraisal of your current device online. Simply enter the carrier, manufacturer, and other device specifics depending on the model, such as memory and storage. After you appraise your device, the site will collect all the necessary information, store it for your convenience, and provide instructions at checkout.

See offer on Verizon


Sprint’s promo is similar to Verizon’s in that it’s saving you money on an additional device, but in this case, the additional device could be completely free. Through the company’s “New Year, New iPhone On Us” promo, if you buy an iPhone 7 starting at $27 for 24 months and add a second line, you’ll get a 16 GB iPhone SE for free. Alternatively, you can purchase the iPhone 7 for the same price, again add the second line, and get $400 off an iPhone 6S. The limited-time deal requires a 24-month installment billing plan and two new lines or one new line plus eligible upgrade with Unlimited Freedom. Applicable credits are applied within 2 invoices. The offer is void in CT, RI and Miami-Dade. You can view details of the deal online, however, it’s a call-in offer only.

See offer on Sprint


AT&T may have the best deal out there if you really don’t want to spend a dime on your next phone. The company will give you an iPhone 7 for free when you switch to AT&T and have DIRECTV, which is its live-TV streaming service. To get the offer you must buy with AT&T Next, or the monthly the installment plan, and be, as the fine print states, well-qualified. To get the free phone, you must purchase a qualifying wireless service for $50 per month or more and have a DIRECTV service that costs $30 per month or more. The monthly bill credits start within three billing cycles, and after $650 in credits, your iPhone 7 will be $free.

See offer on AT&T

Keep in mind that each of these promotions basically tie you into a 2-year contract, in which the $650 price is distributed over the course of 24 months or so, with ranges from $0 to substantially more than the monthly installment amount required up front. If you leave the carrier early, any free credits disappear and you’re on the hook for whatever portion of the phone hasn’t yet been paid.

If you’re going with a trade-in, read all the fine print before you sign off on anything, double check that trade-in credits can be used in combination with other offers, and remember that the carriers have the final word on how much you’ll get for current iPhone.

See iPhone 7 offers on:

AT&T Sprint T-Mobile Verizon


‘Resident Evil 7’ is the most terrifying VR game on the market

I didn’t recognize Resident Evil 7: Biohazard when Capcom revealed it at E3 2016 with a mysterious teaser trailer. To begin with, it was a first-person game, when Resident Evil is famously a third-person perspective series. Secondly, the trailer showcased a dilapidated, cockroach-filled house that looked like it would fit in a modern horror title like Amnesia or Outlast, rather than Resident Evil’s universe of Raccoon City and the Umbrella Corporation.

However, when the jump scares were done and the title screen appeared, I couldn’t help gasping in surprise — and pure joy. Resident Evil, one of my favorite gaming franchises of all time, was back and it looked as terrifying as ever, even as a first-person shooter. What’s more, it would be fully playable in virtual reality on the PlayStation 4. All of my most nightmarish dreams were coming true.

That is, until I actually played Resident Evil 7 on PlayStation VR. I had plenty of experience with Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PS VR, and I’d never experienced the dreaded “VR sickness” that ruined these experiences for some of my peers. At least, not until the Resident Evil 7 E3 demo. About half-way through my playthrough, streaming live on Facebook, I started to feel feverish and sweaty, and minutes later I had to pull the PS VR off my face and stop the demo early. I raced to the bathroom, fearing I was going to vomit all over Sony’s booth.

Even after that bout of tummy-rumbling trauma, I still loved the idea of Resident Evil 7 in VR. When I finally held the full game in my hands, playing in VR was the first thought on my mind. Between E3 and release, Capcom had been toying with the VR mode and I had to try it again.

So, I did. On camera, of course.

The final version of Resident Evil 7 in VR is not as puke-inducing as the initial demo I played, but it still made me sweaty and hot — a precursor to full-blown, nauseating VR sickness.

But despite some pre-puke symptoms, Resident Evil 7 is a fantastic survival horror game, inside and outside of VR. It proudly carries on the series’ traditions of puzzle-solving quests, horrifying boss fights, laser-sight shooting and inventory management, but this time around, it’s all packaged in a gorgeous first-person world.

Well, it’s “gorgeous” or “hellish, blood-spattered and completely soul-shattering.” It’s all just a matter of perspective.


Recommended Reading: Is Mark Zuckerberg going to run for president?

Zuckerberg 2020?
Adrienne LaFrance,
The Atlantic

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is making his way around the US after promising to meet with people in each state before the end of the year. This nationwide tour has a very similar feel to that of someone who’s running for office. So, is Zuck going to throw his hat in the ring for 2020? Maybe not, but there are some interesting signs he might make a run.

An Oral History of Homestar Runner, the Internet’s Favorite Cartoon
Luke Winkie, io9

The title of this one speaks for itself. io9 sat down with Matt and Mike Chapman to discuss the greatness that is Homestar Runner.

How Run the Jewels Became Hip-Hop’s Most Intense Truth-Tellers
Jonah Weiner, Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone offers a bit of backstory on the popular hip-hop duo, their political voice and the recently released Run the Jewels 3.

Inside Instagram’s Reinvention
Kurt Wagner, Recode

There’s been a change in how Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom approaches the popular photo-sharing app and Recode sat down with him to find out why.

Compromise Does Not Work with Our Political Opponents. When Will We Learn?
Chelsea Manning, The Guardian

Chelsea Manning’s first column for The Guardian since President Obama commuted her sentence offers a warning for those not willing to be bold enough.


FaceApp uses neural networks to make you smile, grow older, or change genders

Why it matters to you

It’s still rough around the edges, but FaceApp demonstrates the scary future of neural network-based image editing.

Neural networks are revolutionizing computing, and image editing is one area that will experience drastic changes. Already, apps like Prisma are demonstrating this power, but a new company is using neural networks in a different way with an app called FaceApp. Unlike Prisma, which keeps the content of a source photo but changes the style, FaceApp looks to change the content while maintaining photorealism.

Available now as a free download for iOS, with an Android version coming soon, FaceApp currently offers six filters: Smile, Hot, Young, Old, Male, and Female. Tired of all those duck-face selfies? Replace them with a toothy grin with just one tap. Wonder how you’ll look in twenty years? Use the Old filter to age-progress your face — or the Young filter to do the opposite. And if you’ve ever wondered what you’d look like as the opposite sex (I mean, who hasn’t?), the Male and Female filters will show you. In theory.

More: Adobe Project WetBrush and Project StyLit could be game changers for painters and animators

Since the filters use AI to analyze the image, the results should match the look of your face. This isn’t some simple copy-and-paste Photoshop job. That said, it’s impossible to know things like what your smile actually looks like if you’re not smiling in the original photo. Therefore, in practice, the output may be loosely realistic, but it is far from real (see our example below).

Neural network-based photo manipulation may not quite be there yet, but it’s not hard to see where the future lies. Beyond simple apps, companies like Adobe are pouring resources into research and development of neural nets to create professional tools. If you’re interested in getting a peek at that future, then head over to the App Store to give FaceApp a try. It’s free, and at the very least it’s worth a good laugh with your friends.


How to a take a screenshot on a PC with Windows 7, 8, or 10

We could spend all day arguing the merits of a good screen-capture utility. They’re quick and efficient, often providing a simple way to take a JPG snapshot of an application window or your entire display in a matter of seconds, without the need to download any external software. Perhaps you need to send a screenshot to tech support, email an image to a friend, or, if you’re like us, capture a screenshot for an awesome how-to guide about how to take a screenshot on a PC!

More: Before you resort to MS Paint or piracy, give these free image-editing tools a shot

No matter the reason, Windows features several built-in utilities for capturing and saving screenshots, and they’re only a few keyboard clicks away. All four methods covered in this guide are free, straightforward, and work fantastically on most PCs. Let’s take a look.

Using the default keyboard shortcuts

Taking a screenshot is simple, regardless of which version of Windows you’re running. There are only a few steps — assuming you haven’t fiddled with the default keyboard controls — and you should already have access to all the image-editing software you need.

Step 1: Capture the image  Assuming the area you want to capture is displayed on your screen, press the Print Screen (often shortened to “PrtScn”) key, typically located in the upper-right corner of your keyboard, to capture a screenshot of your entire display. Alternatively, press Alt + Print Screen to capture a screenshot of the active window. If you’re on a laptop, you may need to press Fn + Print Screen if your laptop has another feature assigned to that particular key.

Screenshot shortcut 1

Windows10StartThere will be no noise or any other indication the screenshot was taken, but the resulting image will be saved as a PNG file to your clipboard. If using Windows 8 or 10, click the Windows Key + Print Screen to automatically save a full-screen screenshot within the Screenshots folder of your picture directory.

Alternatively, if you have Dropbox installed, the screenshot will be automatically deposited in your Dropbox directory, under Screenshots.

Step 2: Open Paint — Click the Start menu, navigate to the Windows Accessories folder — or the Accessories folder, if using Windows 7 — and click Paint. The icon depicts a painting palette with a brush on the right side, but it will vary slightly depending on your operating system.

In Windows 8, press the Windows key to open the start screen. Afterward, click the down arrow in the bottom left, press Ctrl + Tab, or swipe downward from the center of the display to access the Apps View. From there, select Paint.

In Windows 10, you can open the Start menu, go to All Apps, and scroll through the alphabetical list until you find Paint.

All three versions also include Windows Search, which can be used to find Paint by searching for — you guessed it — Paint!

Step 3: Paste the screenshot — Once open, click the Paste button in the upper-left corner of the program, choose Edit then Paste, or press Ctrl + V on the keyboard to paste your screenshot. Again, the exact navigation and wordage will vary slightly from OS to OS, but the keyboard shortcut will remain the same.

Step 4: Save the screenshot — Perform any edits you want, such as cropping the image to a specified area, and click the main File option in the top-left corner. Afterward, select Save as, title the new file, choose a save location, and select your desired file format from the drop-down menu. For most purposes, JPG will do fine, but a variety of other formats are available to choose from such as PNG, BMP, GIF, and others. Click the gray Save button in the bottom right-hand corner when finished.



Stay warm in even the coldest weather with this heated jacket from Ravean

Why it matters to you

While most jackets rely on bulk to keep you warm, the Ravean includes a healthy dose of technology to add to its heating capabilities.

You’ll never cringe again at the words “winter is coming.” At least, not because you’ll be cold. It’s all thanks to the new Ravean Down 2.0 jacket, otherwise known as the last jacket you’ll ever need. Rather than waiting for your outerwear to warm you up, you’ll now be able to slip into a preheated cocoon of warmth, which comes with back, chest, glove, and pocket warmers, gloves with heated fingers, hydrophobic down, a water-resistant shell coating, a heated option, and yes, the ability to control it all from a remote. Because this is the 21st century, not the Seven Kingdoms.

The newer version of the Ravean heated jacket (yes, there was a 1.0 version before this) comes in both men’s and women’s styles, and promises to keep you warm in temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit. How does it do it? The coats are actually battery powered, with battery pockets located under each arm so that they’re out of your way and effectively unnoticeable. And with double the amount of battery, you’ll be able to withstand double the time in the cold. That’s not the only technology integrated into the Ravean, however. Your jacket comes with a new controller that lets you decide when to heat your chest, your head, or your fingertips. It’ll also tell you how much battery you’ve got left.

More: Can’t carry your GoPro case? Wear it instead with a limited-edition ski jacket

And even though these are meant to be heavy-duty jackets, they’re not heavy. Weighing in at just 150 grams, they’ll go wherever you go — you can roll them up and pack them for even your longest, most remote trips. And if you’re traveling somewhere without power, your jacket can double as a charger for your phone.

The jacket itself is protected by a rip guard shell and DWR water-resistant coating, and boasts hydrophobic down insulation and aluminum heat-reflecting lining. That means you’ll be able to keep the elements out while keeping the heat in.

If you’re looking to get your hands on one of these jackets, they’re available for pre-order on Indiegogo beginning at $169 for the jacket alone — the Ravean is actually something of a modular jacket, with the ability to add features like the hood and gloves. If you want the whole package, you’re looking at $275 — this will get you a pair of heated gloves, a 10,600mAh battery, a heated hood, and the jacket itself, of course.

So if you live in the tundra, this may just be an investment you want to make.