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The best DNA ancestry test

By Amadou Diallo

This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter, reviews for the real world. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

After more than 80 hours of research and reporting, and evaluating results from a panel of testers representing every major population group, we think AncestryDNA is the best DNA testing service for most people who are curious about their ethnic roots or are searching for contemporary relatives. All five DNA services we tested involve compromises, and you should keep in mind that the TV ads for these companies suggest a level of certainty that is well beyond the science upon which current tests are based. But AncestryDNA presents your data in a way that is easier to understand than many of its rivals, makes use of the largest database of DNA participants we’ve seen, and is among the lowest-priced services we tested.

Who this is for

Submitting your DNA sample requires either swabbing the inside of your cheeks or, even less elegantly, spitting into a tube, depending on the company you’re testing with. Photo: Caroline Enos

DNA testing can have a wide range of use cases, from paternity disputes to informing if you’re predisposed to genetic-based diseases. For this guide, however, we focus exclusively on services offering ancestral DNA testing: tests that comb through your DNA to help find where in the world you came from, unknown contemporary relatives, or both.

Although these tests can make accurate continent predictions, information about your genetic makeup at the country level is often dubious. You should also be prepared for the unexpected: you could find relatives that you’ve never met, or find out someone in your family isn’t actually genealogically related to you.

How we picked and tested

We tested kits from five companies that offer ancestral DNA testing for under $400. Photo: Caroline Enos

Because the major companies now offer DNA testing for as little as $100, we eliminated prohibitively expensive options. We further limited our contenders to those with large databases of existing customer DNA. The experts we consulted told us that large databases of customers increase the accuracy when estimating ethnicity and the likelihood of finding relatives.

Eventually, we settled on five companies to test. After recruiting a panel of seven testers (three men and four women) with ancestries from all over the world, we had each tester sign up for the programs. We then mailed their physical DNA samples back to the companies, and waited for the results. Once they arrived, we asked each tester to complete a survey comparing the quality and usability of each company’s reports.

Privacy concerns

Testing for something as personal as your DNA sequence highlights obvious privacy and security issues. We commissioned a legal analysis of the terms of service and privacy policies of our picks by Brian J. McGinnis, a partner with Barnes & Thornburg LLP and a founder of the firm’s data security and privacy practice group. After a comparative analysis of each company’s policies, McGinnis found them to be in line with common industry practices, but he did see some room for improvement.

Our pick

Photo: Caroline Enos

AncestryDNA is the service we recommend for most people who want to learn about their ethnic heritage and/or connect with unknown relatives. It’s one of the most affordable services we evaluated and our testers ranked it among the top in offering useful information in an easy-to-understand presentation. The company also has the largest reported database of DNA customers we’ve seen, providing significantly higher odds of a successful search for contemporary relatives than its competitors. Three of our testers matched with first or second cousins.

Once the results are ready, you’ll receive an email with a link to your user page. From there, a single click takes you to an overview of your ethnicity estimates as well as potential relatives the site has flagged among its user base due to their similarity to your DNA makeup. Until you join AncestryDNA’s subscription service, the information you can glean from these family matches is limited to only their username and profile picture.

For data-savvy genealogists

Family Tree DNA may not have the fancy packaging of its rivals, but it provides a more comprehensive range of testing options than any service we tested. Photo: Caroline Enos

Family Tree DNA offers an affordably priced autosomal test that gave our panel of testers results that were broadly similar to those from our top pick. But their services extend beyond just ethnicity estimates, with à la carte options for both Y-DNA and mitochondrial testing at various levels of precision. Family Tree DNA’s most detailed tests can set you back more than three times what you’d spend using our main pick, but they provide extremely huge (even overwhelming) amounts of information. As one of our testers put it, “Family Tree DNA had the most complete info … even if you can’t really understand some of it.”

With 1.5 million users, Family Tree DNA’s database is not as large as that of our top pick, but still offers a reasonable chance of connecting with relatives. Family Tree DNA provides separate family matches for each test you order. If you pay for both an autosomal and mitochondrial test, for example, you’ll have access to two sets of matches. You’ll see users who share your autosomal DNA and could be related on either your mother or father’s side going back five generations. You’ll also see users who share DNA only from your maternal side of the family going back many centuries.

This guide may have been updated by Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.


How to set up multiple monitors for PC gaming

Unless you are willing to spring for one of those new super ultrawide monitors that can barely fit on a desk, you may be wondering just how to get your favorite 4K or gaming displays for your favorite games or multitasking glory. Sure, you have linked two monitors together no problem, but maybe that’s just not enough.

Maybe you really need extra screens for more immersion, additional apps, or a better field of vision. We’ve got your back: Here’s how to set up multiple monitors for the best gaming experience!

Note: Hey everyone, make sure you have enough desk space and free outlets first. Please.

Step 1: Check all your monitors

We’re not going to list any required monitors for this multi-screen project, but we will point out the obvious: Try to choose newer monitors that are all the same model.

Ensuring that the monitors are the same model makes it very easy to measure and plan for them, as well as setting them up and maintaining them. Without the right height adjustments, you may also struggle to get different monitors precisely parallel with each other. At the bare minimum, it’s nice to have monitors that all have similar ports. These days, that probably means that all your monitors should to have either HDMI or DisplayPort connections (yes, there’s also DVI, but that’s less likely).

You also want all your monitors to have support for the same features, such as graphic syncing. Your game may look seriously weird if your monitors have different display features and support options.

Finally, you will want to make sure that your graphics card has enough connections for three monitors. For example, if you are using three 4K monitors, you will want to make sure your GPU has three HDMI ports for use. Yes, you can mix and match ports if necessary (say, two HDMI and a DisplayPort, but again it’s much easier if you just have several of same monitor models. If you don’t have a dedicated graphics card or don’t know anything about it – well, that should probably be the first step before setting up your set of monitors. A custom graphics cards is basically a necessity for this process.

Note: There are splitters you can use if you have a great GPU but only one or two compatible ports: This isn’t quite as optimal, but it’s a common case.

Step 2: Check your graphics card

There’s good news here—today’s GPUs are typically produced with the understanding that some people will want multiple monitors, so if you’ve recently bought a GPU, support is included out of the box. That makes things much easier than it was in the old days. However, if you are buying a graphics card specifically for this project, you can make extra sure that it has the right kind and number of ports. You should also confirm particular multi-screen features, which are:


AMD is generally considered the go-to when it comes to multi-screen support, although Nvidia is currently quite competitive. Look for cards that provide the Eyefinity feature (all recent models should have this). Eyefinity ensures that the image is properly spread across all connected screens and ensures that the bevels don’t cover up any important details. It’s a very effective setting that’s necessary for a quality gaming experience. Note that Eyefinity is friendly with DisplayPort connections, so those are the ports to look in your monitors.


Nvidia’s solution is called “Surround” and your Nvidia GPU needs to have it. Like Eyefinity, Surround supports multiple monitors as well as 3D gaming. Surround works with all standard monitor connections.

If you’re stuck with your current GPU and it’s not everything you hoped it to be, there are adapters for technology like Eyefinity which can help you MacGyver a solution together.

Step 3: Hook everything up and turn it on

This step is easy. Plug everything in first, double-check your ports to make sure they are the right ones, and then turn it on.

You will only need to use one screen for setup, so don’t freak out about how the other screens look until you complete step 4.

Step 4: Change settings as necessary

For a gaming setup, we suggest skipping any operating system settings and going straight to your GPU control panel, where the real action takes place. Both AMD and Nvidia have control panels where you can setup multiple monitors and adjust as necessary. For AMD, here’s how to go into settings and make sure Eyefinity is adjust properly. Here’s how to get started with Nvidia chips. Don’t be afraid to adjust the monitor behavior if something does look right when you try to run your game.

Important note: Game compatibility

Is your game compatible with a multi-monitor approach? Well…probably.

There is fairly updated list of the games that are compatibility with multi-monitor features. If you look at it, you’ll notice that it includes most recent games and quite a few games from the past decade, too. In fact, games have probably been more advanced this way than graphics cards in the past. So chances are very, very good that whatever game you dream of playing surrounded by screens, it will work just fine. However, not every indie or older game may have full support for the features that we talked about.

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Grab a Sphero R2-D2 for $91, Kylo Ren mask or Star Wars Monopoly for $17, and more

The force is strong with this set of deals.

Following the Hollywood premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, a whole bunch of awesome Star Wars accessories and games are on sale at Amazon. This is part of the company’s Gold Box deals of the day, which means the prices that are here today will be gone tomorrow. There are a bunch of items in this sale that are worth taking a look at, and most of them you can still have delivered in time to give as holiday gifts.


Some of the best deals include:

  • Sphero R2-D2 App-Enabled Droid – $91 (Was $179.99)
  • Monopoly Game: Star Wars 40th Anniversary Special Edition – $17.40 (Was $29.99)
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi Kylo Ren Electronic Voice Changer Mask – $17.25 (Was $39.99)
  • Star Wars: Rogue One Electronic Duel Imperial Death Trooper – $7.49 (Was $19.99)
  • Poe’s Boosted X-wing Fighter Air Hog – $41.99 (Was $59.99)

Be sure to check out the full list of items that are on sale and get your orders in now so you can have something new to take when you go see the movie on December 15.

See at Amazon


Check to see if you’re covered by Google’s Project Fi network

Networks, when you think about it, come down to one thing: coverage.

If you’re not covered where you live, work and travel … well, nothing else matters. But in partnering with three U.S. carriers — Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular — Google’s Project Fi definitely has an interesting advantage. (And remember you also have calling available over Wi-Fi when you need it.)

But the question stands: will you have Project Fi coverage where you live, work and travel? And, of course, there’s a handy map for that.


To see if you’re covered by Google’s Project Fi, just visit and enter your location (state, city, ZIP) on the map — and no matter where you search, you can always zoom and scroll around to see what the surrounding area is like as well.


Like other carriers you’ll get a color-coded map that shows you the darkest green for full LTE coverage, or lighter areas for 3G and 2G. The map is pretty good about pointing out specific areas around a state or city that may come up short on coverage, and while the actual real-world experience can never be perfectly mapped this is a great place to start.

Compare Project Fi’s coverage map to those from the other carriers, and you may find that it compares quite favorably.

Google Project Fi

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Ben Heck’s Super Glue Gun: Back to the drawing board


The team has heard your pleas for change: They’ve decided it’s time to revisit the Super Glue Gun’s auto stand. After mocking up the design, the group realized their best bet is to fire Autodesk Fusion 360 back up, change the mechanism and design a new 3D model. In other words, it’s back to the drawing board. What do you think of the changes? Do you have any ideas for the super glue gun? Let the team know over on the element14 Community.


Would you trade your privacy for a car? You might have that choice in the future

We’re all used to the tech business model that provides zero-dollar access to services in exchange for our data.

From the streaming music catalog of Spotify to the myriad services offered by Google, it’s an arrangement that seemingly benefits everyone: We get “free” stuff, while tech companies get access to a rich stream of information about their users that’s way more valuable to them than a one-off purchase fee.

This business model has become standard in the software world of ones and zeroes, but it hasn’t caught on in other walks of life. Just imagine the owner of a restaurant when you fail to present a credit card at the end of the meal, and instead offer to pay by listing facts about your eating habits. Would a car manufacturer be sufficiently interested in info to knock, say, 50 percent off the price of a new BMW should you promise to let them know where you drive it? Both of these examples seem fatuous at first glance. But why?

We get a bunch of “free” stuff, while tech companies get access to a rich stream of info.

A list of the world’s most valuable companies is dominated by tech giants, many of whom have proven that their habit of giving away access to services makes sense — and indeed, cents. It’s not limited to software, either. The price of smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are bizarrely low, which is an odd strategy when Apple has shown what kinds of margins can be carved out on “must have” tech.

However, owners of the Echo reportedly spend around 10 percent more on Amazon after they buy the smart speaker than they did previously. The same is no doubt true for other “loss leaders” that give away underpriced hardware, knowing that it will give the companies something far more useful on the backend.

In a new book, a technologist for the Ford Motor Company argues that we may be entering a new era in the motor industry: one where the data that can be gathered from sensor-packed cars could offset the need to actually charge customers for new vehicles. A zero dollar car? According to John Ellis, it’s the direction things need to head.

“The model I present in the book works as follows,” Ellis, author of The Zero Dollar Car, told Digital Trends. “The original equipment manufacturer — Ford, for purposes of discussion — sells the vehicle data to a broker or to end companies. That is the monetization opportunity that everyone in the automotive industry keeps talking about. Based on what they are able to sell, they in turn use some of those funds to reduce the price of the vehicle. The more data they can sell, the more opportunity they get to reduce the price of the vehicle.”

A new source of revenue

According to Ellis, under this model car manufacturers could actually stand to make more money than they do charging a single purchase fee of, for instance, $40k. But who cares about your data? That changes by industry, but it’s likely to be the same mix of private and government groups that care about what you do online.

With a car, it might be possible to sell the data from your traction control, headlights, wipers, and barometer to an agency such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA’s job is to predict future major weather incidents like storms and cyclones. Having thousands of weather data-gathering vehicles on the road would help, and it might actually be cheaper to shell out $3,000 for a lifetime of user data than funding a giant weather station.

On top of that $3,000, a car company could sell suspension-monitoring system data to the government organizations that maintain highways, or sell voice data from microphones in your car to Google to help train voice recognition systems or target you with better ads.

2017 marked the first year where IoT devices outnumbered the world’s human population.

While Ellis is predominantly focused on cars due to his job with Ford, the same model could be used for other things. 2017 marked the first year in which smart, internet-connected devices outnumbered the world’s human population. We have smart fridges, smart clothes, smart thermostats, smart watches, smart vacuums and heck, even smart toilets. The data that these gather from users is immensely valuable to companies. In a crowded marketplace, being able to offer an item for zero dollars would also immediately result in a massive boom in that product’s popularity.

“Now, I don’t necessarily believe you will [ever get an entire] home for zero dollars,” Ellis continued. “But a home where the mortgage payment is slightly less than it would normally be because of your selling data is definitely something we can envision.”

A thorny ethical dilemma

In some ways, this is a thought experiment. A bit like the Saw movies, where people are asked how much they would do to stay alive, the question here is how much data would you be willing to share to get things for less or even zero money?

We might be comfortable with sharing health data with our insurance company if we got a top-of-the-line “free” fitness tracker, or lower premiums. We might also be happy if we received money off our food bills if our smart toilet can monitor our excrement. We may be less happy if what we say in the comfort of our subsidized home is used to sell us ads.

“Consumers must realize that what they are considering free is in fact not free but rather zero dollars,” Ellis said. “Any of the mobile ecosystems that offer ‘free’ products are in fact offering zero dollar products. Free means nothing is exchanged in return. But all of these so-called ‘free’ products receive your data. And that data exchange is then a transfer of goods from each party. Second, the issue of ownership needs to be properly sorted out. If you purchase a product, what exactly are your rights versus the rights of others? This is not a philosophical question as it is at the heart of the zero-dollar economy.”

Ultimately, there are a whole lot of complexities to this. Would people with poor credit or low income levels feel obliged to surrender their privacy in a way that wealthier folks wouldn’t? Would it be possible to change your mind at 45 after selling a lifetime of your data to buy your first car at 18? Would data need to be anonymized in the same way if you were being paid a premium to access it?

It would certainly present a fascinating development that could help people in an age of increased automation of jobs and stagnating wages, though. How much data would you give up for a zero dollar lifestyle?

“Whenever I ask people that question, the answer hinges on how close the price gets to zero dollars,” Ellis said. “The closer you get to zero, the more willing customers are to say ‘yes’ to selling their privacy.”

Would you be among them?

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FX will turn podcast hit ‘Welcome to Night Vale’ into a TV show

It’s not just Amazon hoping a podcast’s success will translate to a TV series. FX has reached a deal with Sony Pictures Television to turn Welcome to Night Vale into a TV show. Most of the details haven’t been nailed down, but Better Call Saul executive producer Gennifer Hutchison will handle the adaptation with the blessing of podcast co-creators Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink. The story certainly lends itself to TV: it imagines the fictional town of Night Vale as a place where every conspiracy theory is true.

It’s not hard to see why FX made the move. Popular narrative-driven podcasts like Night Vale frequently have rich stories and large numbers of passionate fans, but they also tend to operate on shoestring budgets even with touring shows involved. TV producers can snap up the rights at a relatively modest cost but still get plenty of quality source material.

Whether or not it succeeds is another matter. Night Vale is better primed than most, but we’ve seen podcast adaptations produce so-so results. Amazon’s take on Lore premiered to mixed reviews, and the snappy comedy of My Brother, My Brother and Me wasn’t enough to save NBC’s Seeso. FX’s Night Vale show will have to do more than pull in loyal listeners if it’s going to have a long run.

Source: Night Vale Podcast (Twitter), Deadline


Sony may finally let you change your PlayStation Network name

Many a gamer has had regrets about their choice of username — xXxDeathCrusher420xXx might not be quite so appealing in adult life as it was in your teenage years. And for PlayStation fans, that’s been a big problem when your PSN name has always been set in stone. Sony may have seen the light, though. In an interview at PlayStation Experience, the company’s Shawn Layden said he hoped to have a name change option available by next year’s Experience. So what’s the holdup? Layden didn’t dive into specifics, but he said the technical solutions were “more complex than you think.”

As Gamespot notes, Layden said in 2014 (yes, 2014) that Sony had to take steps to prevent griefing. It didn’t want trolls to cause havoc in one game, change their name and promptly ruin someone else’s play session. There’s also the matter of making sure that all your friends see the change. It’s unclear whether or not Sony might ask you to pay to change your handle, as Microsoft does on Xbox Live (again to discourage griefing), but setting up those exchanges could involve some work as well.

There’s no guarantee that Sony will have name changes in place. As you might have noticed, it’s been talking about the idea for years. The narrow time frame suggests the feature is getting close, however, and it’s easy to see this becoming a higher priority given that a PSN account is increasingly vital to making full use of your PS4.

Source: Gamespot


This $70 Philips Hue Starter Kit comes with two bulbs and a dimmer switch

Take your lights into the future!

If for some reason you haven’t already invested in some Philips Hue lighting for your house, this may be the deal that changes that. Right now you can pick up this Philips Hue Starter Kit for just $69.99 at Amazon. This is a savings of $30 on the kit that comes with two white bulbs, the hub required for them to work, and a dimmer switch that you can use to control them in your home.

Don’t need the dimmer switch? You can also opt for the regular Starter Kit for just $49.99, which is a $20 discount.


If you want to get the most out of these lights, be sure to add an Echo Dot as well so you can then control them with your voice. You’ll also want to consider picking up some extra bulbs, because trust me they become addictive very quickly!

See at Amazon


Andy Rubin returns to Essential amid questions over his past

Android mastermind Andy Rubin is back at the helm of Essential after his surprise personal leave… although you could argue that he never really left. Recode has learned that Rubin is back “less than two weeks” after the company announced that he’d taken a break. Neither Essential nor Rubin was willing to comment, but insiders claimed that he technically didn’t have to leave the building — he continued to work with his venture capital company Playground Global, which shares the same office spaces.

The end to the partial leave comes as questions linger over revelations that Rubin’s departure from Google came after an investigation ruled that he’s been involved in an “inappropriate” relationship with a subordinate. Rubin’s spokesperson has maintained that it was a consensual relationship and nothing wrong took place, but the woman had filed a complaint with human resources that led to the investigation. There’s no evidence linking Rubin’s recent leave to the Google story, although the timing has certainly raised eyebrows.

Without details of what the complaint entailed, it’s difficult to know just how much of a cloud this casts over Rubin’s work at Essential. You can safely presume that concerns over the relationship aren’t what the company at large wants, however. While Rubin’s return will reassure backers worried that Essential would face a leadership crisis, it’s having enough trouble getting people to buy its first smartphone — the conduct of its founder doesn’t help matters.

Source: Recode

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