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23
Dec

Obsessive selfie-taking is now a mental disorder called ‘selfitis’


Selfitis was a term originally coined in a fake news story but that didn’t stop psychologists from actually researching the possibility. A group from Nottingham Trent University and Thiagarajar School of Management recently confirmed that selfitis is an actual mental behavior that leads to obsessive selfie-taking, publishing a research report on its findings in the International Journal of Mental Health Addiction.

According to the researchers, individuals suffering from selfitis use selfies to try to boost their confidence or their mood, along with other motivations like conforming and social competition. The researchers say that taking selfies can be an addictive behavior that also points to more underlying mental health issues, like low self-confidence.

To see if the hoax news story was actually based on an idea that could prove true, the researchers studied 200 individuals from the country with the highest rate of death by selfie, India. In that group, obsessive selfie-snapping correlated with six other behaviors, including looking for attention and the less-disastrous, looking to make a memory.

For study participants, 34 percent had borderline selfitis, 40.5 percent acute and 25.5 percent chronic. The obsessive selfie-taking was more likely to hit males at 57.5 percent compared to 42.5 for females. Less surprisingly, the 16-to-20-year-old age group, the youngest in the study, was also the most susceptible. Nine percent took more than eight selfies a day while about 25 percent shared at least three images on social media every day.

The research group also developed a set of questions that helps individuals determine whether their level of selfie-taking is abnormal, included at the end of the research report.

The researchers suggest that additional research could explore selfitis across different ages and geographic regions for a more representative sample.

“Typically, those with the condition suffer from a lack of self-confidence and are seeking to ‘fit in’ with those around them and may display symptoms similar to other potentially addictive behaviors,” Dr. Janarthanan Balakrishnan told the New York Post. “Now the existence of the condition appears to have been confirmed, it is hoped that further research will be carried out to understand more about how and why people develop this potentially obsessive behavior and what can be done to help people who are the most affected.”

The researchers also noted that selfitis isn’t the only hoax that ended up inspiring academic research — internet addiction followed a similar path.

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23
Dec

Obsessive selfie-taking is now a mental disorder called ‘selfitis’


Selfitis was a term originally coined in a fake news story but that didn’t stop psychologists from actually researching the possibility. A group from Nottingham Trent University and Thiagarajar School of Management recently confirmed that selfitis is an actual mental behavior that leads to obsessive selfie-taking, publishing a research report on its findings in the International Journal of Mental Health Addiction.

According to the researchers, individuals suffering from selfitis use selfies to try to boost their confidence or their mood, along with other motivations like conforming and social competition. The researchers say that taking selfies can be an addictive behavior that also points to more underlying mental health issues, like low self-confidence.

To see if the hoax news story was actually based on an idea that could prove true, the researchers studied 200 individuals from the country with the highest rate of death by selfie, India. In that group, obsessive selfie-snapping correlated with six other behaviors, including looking for attention and the less-disastrous, looking to make a memory.

For study participants, 34 percent had borderline selfitis, 40.5 percent acute and 25.5 percent chronic. The obsessive selfie-taking was more likely to hit males at 57.5 percent compared to 42.5 for females. Less surprisingly, the 16-to-20-year-old age group, the youngest in the study, was also the most susceptible. Nine percent took more than eight selfies a day while about 25 percent shared at least three images on social media every day.

The research group also developed a set of questions that helps individuals determine whether their level of selfie-taking is abnormal, included at the end of the research report.

The researchers suggest that additional research could explore selfitis across different ages and geographic regions for a more representative sample.

“Typically, those with the condition suffer from a lack of self-confidence and are seeking to ‘fit in’ with those around them and may display symptoms similar to other potentially addictive behaviors,” Dr. Janarthanan Balakrishnan told the New York Post. “Now the existence of the condition appears to have been confirmed, it is hoped that further research will be carried out to understand more about how and why people develop this potentially obsessive behavior and what can be done to help people who are the most affected.”

The researchers also noted that selfitis isn’t the only hoax that ended up inspiring academic research — internet addiction followed a similar path.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Tweet-analyzing algorithm can detect depression sooner than a human doctor
  • Redditors don’t read what they vote on, according to a new study
  • Fitbit trackers may help to improve your health — even if you don’t own one
  • If young blood can really halt death, things are going to get weird
  • Researchers are measuring ocean health with drones, A.I., and whale snot




23
Dec

Today’s archaeologists are putting down shovels and turning to tech


In 1817, the Italian archaeology pioneer Captain Giovanni Battista Caviglia set out to explore the Great Pyramid of Giza, a.k.a. Cheops’ Pyramid: the oldest of the three three Giza pyramids and the most ancient of the Seven Wonders of the World. Like a lot of Egyptologists of his age, Caviglia’s pioneering work led to some profound insights into Ancient Egyptian civilization — but at a cost. Believing there was treasure located in an undiscovered hidden chamber in the pyramid, he used dynamite to blast several holes, causing significant damage.

Jump forward 200 years to 2017.

“Our top priority is to conduct investigations that are as little damaging as possible.”

Researchers are still exploring the Great Pyramid of Giza, and uncovered a new hidden chamber in the enormous structure. Unlike Caviglia, though, you wouldn’t know just by looking at it. That’s because the team of international researchers, operating as part of the ScanPyramids initiative, were able to discover the the large 100-foot space using a non-invasive particle physics-based technique called “muon tomography,” similar to the technology that would allow a doctor to X-ray your bones. To get a better a look at the space, in the future they plan to explore it using a soft inflatable blimp-style robot that can enter the otherwise inaccessible chamber through a tiny hole in the wall.

“Our top priority is to conduct investigations that are as little damaging as possible to heritage buildings. This is why the ScanPyramids mission started with an extensive use of non-invasive, non-damaging techniques like muography,” Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mouret, a senior researcher working on the project, previously told Digital Trends. “And this is why if, one day, a team bores a hole in a 4,000-year old monument like the Great Pyramid, the hole will have to be as small as possible. Ideally, the hole would be so small that it would be invisible.”

This is just one example of the way that modern technology is helping revolutionize the field of archaeology as we know it. Yes, technology can help lead us to a brighter future, but it turns out that it’s pretty darn good at illuminating the past as well.

“There is a long history of innovative technology in archaeology, especially in Egypt.”

“There is a long history of innovative technology in archaeology, especially in Egypt,” Mouret continued. “For instance, in the Cheops’ Pyramid, there have been investigations in the 1980s with micro-gravimetry measurements, then with ground-penetrating radars, and now with cosmic-ray muons. Several robots have also been used in the Cheops’ Pyramid to explore the ‘air-shafts.’ Beyond this pyramid, satellite imagery was key in many recent discoveries in archaeology, and the list of technologies that have been useful can go on. What may have changed the game in the recent years is the power of modern computers: we can now often analyze, combine, and visualize very complex data on a consumer laptop.”

It’s not just laptops that are helping revolutionize modern archaeology, though. A plethora of tools which have once been available only inside research labs are now affordable and accessible to everyone, including those interested in peering backwards as well as forwards.

For example, last year, scientists used readily available Lidar — the tool most readily associated with helping autonomous cars to sense the world around them — to create a detailed map of a long-lost city hidden beneath the jungle in Cambodia. In Europe, an E.U.-funded initiative called the ROVINA project (Robots for Exploration, Digital Preservation and Visualization of Archeological Sites) is meanwhile taking advantage of modern robotics breakthroughs to build robots especially designed to explore historical sites. Just like the Great Pyramid, technology can be used to find new ways to gather data on historical sites that would be difficult or downright dangerous for human beings to explore in person.

ROVINA Project

“Robotics technology has a lot to offer in terms of digital preservation of historical sites,” Wolfram Burgard, professor for computer science at the University of Freiburg and ROVINA principle investigator, told Digital Trends. “In particular the ability to more flexibly move the sensors to get to view-points typically not accessible by humans, and to combine multiple views into larger models might play an important role.”

Some projects have attracted some big names, too. In Germany, Intel has leant its support to Bauhaus University Weimar to use its drones to help protect the region’s 15th century Halberstadt Cathedral. Specifically, the project uses Falcon 8+ drones to capture ultra-precise three-dimensional structural data, which can be used to advise on where repairs are needed.

VR and AR can be used to transform dusty ruins into vibrant, three-dimensional worlds.

“Some of these assets were in such a delicate condition that using ladders and building scaffolding in near proximity to the structures to carry out this task may have caused more damage,” Anil Nanduri, vice president and general manager within Intel’s New Technology Group, told Digital Trends. “The Intel Falcon 8+ drone was able to do the detailed image capture and 3D modeling without the necessity for close physical contact with the assets.”

Once this data is gathered using cutting edge technology is can then be presented to audiences in fresh ways too. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) can be used to transform dusty ruins into vibrant, three-dimensional worlds to give a sense of what it was like to be in, say, Ancient Greece at a time when it was altogether less ancient. 3D scanning and 3D printing tools can also be used to help produce either virtual or physical reproductions of objects people would never usually have the opportunity to get up close and personal with.

“New generation of innovators are now more inspired by collective multidisciplinary adventures — [such as] space adventures — than by solitary adventurers,” Mehdi Tayoubi, president and co-founder of ScanPyramids, told Digital Trends. “Innovation even in archeology is now about breaking the silos between disciplines and countries for collective action in the respect of everyone’s contribution. ScanPyramids includes artists, engineers and scientists from Egypt, Japan, France, and Canada.” The cross-pollination between these disciplines, Tayoubi suggests, can help find new ways to approach problems.

Archaeology is by no means the only field that’s currently benefiting from the enormous advances in tech disciplines ranging from robotics and AI to 3D printing and VR. However, there’s something kind of brilliant about a subject that’s, by design, focused on the past being so proactive about looking to the future for answers.

Move over Indiana Jones; it’s all about robots here in 2017!

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • IBM and MIT are working together to make sure A.I. isn’t our downfall
  • Everything we know about ‘Assassin’s Creed Origins’




23
Dec

Want better beer, fancy cocktails, and ‘aged’ wine? Try these drinking gadgets


Throwing a party can be stressful, and throwing one over the holidays can be even more so. You’ve got to decorate, wrap gifts, and mentally prepare for what will surely be scintillating conversation around the holiday dinner table. If your holiday parties always involve alcohol, then that adds another layer of complexity.

What do you serve? How much do you get? We can’t help you with that, but we do have some gadgets that will make whatever beer and wine you buy taste better, and a scale that just might intrigue your guests enough to have them make their own drinks. Here are some great drinking gadgets to get you through that holiday party.

Fizzics Beer System ($175)

We must admit, we were a bit skeptical when we first heard about Fizzics back when it was an Indiegogo project. It was a device that promised to make your bottled beer taste like it came from a keg, without CO2 or nitro cartridges. You stick a bottled beer in it, insert a tube, and pull the lever. It creates uniform bubbles using oscillating sound waves and then delivers the beer to your glass. Having bubbles that are all the same size slows the rate at which tinier bubbles give up their gas to larger ones in the liquid, resulting in flavor loss.

We tried a few different kinds of beer, including a stout from Ninkasi and an IPA from 10 Barrel, and compared them to some we didn’t put through the machine. We could legitimately taste the difference. The stout, for instance, felt less dense and tasted a little less metallic. Could we taste the difference if we didn’t have the beer side by side? Probably not, but it will make for a fun experiment at parties. It’s pretty easy to clean, too, but unless everyone is drinking the same type of beer, you’ll probably want to rinse the tubing in between. It can also accommodate a 64-ounce growler, so you can stick that in and it should last a couple rounds.

Buy one now from:

Amazon Indiegogo

Oak Bottle ($50)

Sometimes, you just want to set out a box of wine when you’re hosting a party. The stuff has come a long way in the past few years; it’s economical and makes it less likely that you’ll run out. But if you want to give your wine a bit more complexity than you typically find in vino from a box, the Oak Bottle is an interesting option. First, it’s not the kind of thing you can whip out right before a party. You need to let water sit in it for 24 hours to prevent leaking, as the oak tends to shrink when not in use. Afterward, you’ll want to leave your wine in there for 24 to 48 hours, depending on your preference for oakiness. Since the bottle tends to start a little heavy on the oak flavor and mellow with time, we left it for 24 hours. The instructions say you can taste as you go until you find the perfect amount of oak.

We were pleasantly surprised that our $20 box of wine — which breaks down to about $5 a bottle — had been transformed into a smoother, more fragrant, wine. It took something that was easy-sipping and made it more complex. We say this as regular boxed wine drinkers, so take that for what it’s worth. The Oak Bottle also works with spirits, like whiskey and tequila, adding smokier flavors. It’s definitely cool to taste the difference, but is it economical? At $80, it’s pretty steep given it only lasts about 50 uses (after that, wine gets substantially less oaky.) Maybe next time we should try to turn a $20 bottle into a $50 bottle.

Buy one now from:

Amazon Oak Bottle Indiegogo

Perfect Drink Smart Scale ($100)

Nothing says party like punch, and that’s because it saves the host from having to make a zillion individual cocktails. Either way, the Perfect Drink scale is a smart scale that can lead you through all the steps. It communicates with your smartphone via Bluetooth as you follow along using the Perfect Drink app. As you pour an ounce of gin, for example, you watch a box fill up in the app. If you overpour, it will automatically adjust the amounts for the rest of the ingredients and let you know if you have to go back and add more Lillet from an earlier step. If you want to start out making punch-sized amounts, you can change the number of servings yourself.

The list of drinks is pretty impressive, too. We found pisco sours, Ramos gin fizzes, blood and sands, and scofflaws. It has fun lists of drinks, like Prohibition-era cocktails and drinks from iconic books, films, and TV. We found a White Russian recipe so we can drink like the Dude from The Big Lebowski. From Ernest Hemingway’s cabinet, it offer the Jack Rose — which appears in The Sun Also Rises and is an amazing cocktail — but the Hemingway Daiquiri is listed elsewhere. Luckily, there’s a search bar to help you find what you’re looking for. 

We weren’t too enthusiastic about the Sidecar recipe (we prefer a 1:1:1 ratio for the three ingredients), but it’s fairly easy to edit existing recipes or add your own. That’s good, because it doesn’t have everything. We couldn’t find the Clover Club cocktail, for example. It’s an accurate scale, but $100 is still pretty pricey unless you’re absolutely serious about impeccably measured cocktails. Luckily, there’s a companion app for baking that makes it more versatile. If you have an iPad, leave the app open next to the scale and encourage guests to make their own drinks.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Coravin Wine System ($430)

We’ll be the first to admit the Coravin is not something designed with us in mind (see our previous comments about the amount of boxed wine we consume). But for some people, buying and keeping expensive wine is a hobby. It’s one that requires patience. The Coravin lets you cheat a bit, though, by granting you access to the wine inside a bottle without pulling the cork. You can enjoy a glass or two, remove the Coravin, and let the cork reseal itself.

Because it’s meant to let you taste your fine wines at different ages, but in a more casual setting, it could be fun to let people try a wide variety of wines without worrying about ending up with a boatload of vinegar on your hands the next morning. The insertion and removal processes aren’t as daunting as they look (though we did have to consult a video), and we felt very professional pressing the argon-gas-cartridge-operated trigger to release the wine. For those who turn their noses up at boxed wine but only want to drink a glass or two of wine, the Coravin might pay off. Eventually. It’s $430.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Bodybrew ($80)

At some point, your guests have to go home, which means they should switch to coffee. There are countless options, and your regular old machine will probably do just fine, but if you want to appease the cold brew lovers, the Bodybrew is a fairly simple, low-tech solution. It’s also another one you have to prepare in advance, but that means less work for you mid-soiree. All you have to do is fill up the basket with coarse grounds, fill the chamber with water, screw everything together, flip it a couple times, and wait 12 to 24 hours depending on how strong you like your brew. You can either serve it cold or add boiling water to make it hot, and you’ll have between 8 and 12 cups of coffee for your guests. Overall, it’s really easy to use (and dishwasher safe!). Our only complaint is that it can be a tad difficult to unscrew the one lid because it’s so wide.

Buy one now from:

Indiegogo

Updated 12/23/2017 to reflect new prices of items.

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23
Dec

Keep your internet browsing encrypted with VPNSecure, now 91% off


Banking information. Mortgage payment history. Your important documents. Nearly all of your life is online these days, and while convenient that can be scary. There are tons of people out there who are looking to do malicious stuff, and we need to be sure that is in the back of our brains at all times. While you can’t avoid using the internet (in most cases), you can ensure that it is a secure connection when you do use it.

VPNs have become more and more popular as the time passes because people want to make sure that the information they are transmitting is getting to the right places. VPNSecure is a great option, and right now you can score a sweet deal on a lifetime subscription to the service. With it you’ll be able to connect up to five devices at the same time, use unlimited bandwidth and more.

vpnsecure-stacksocial.jpg?itok=9HtBcKZZ

Some of the key features include:

  • Allows you to bypass geolocation blocks on your favorite streaming networks
  • Encrypts your traffic so hackers can’t access your data
  • Hides your location & IP address
  • Supports torrents
  • Allows you to connect five devices simultaneously
  • Grants you the ability to choose Data Cipher
  • Uses Stealth VPN to render your VPN traffic unrecognizable
  • Delivers unlimited bandwidth
  • Does not keep any logs of your activity
  • Includes servers in 46+ countries & counting
  • Protects against DNS leak fixes, kill switches & more

You are getting a whole lot for your money here. VPNSecure normally costs $450 for the lifetime subscription, but right now you can pick one up for only $39 — and then use coupon code BESTOF17 at checkout and save an additional 17%! You pay only $33.20!

Browsing the web can get you in loads of trouble if you aren’t careful, so be sure to grab this at its 91% discount to secure your browsing sessions.

See at Android Central Digital Offers

23
Dec

The first annual Yuletide comments thread is here


Happy holidays from all of us here at Android Central!

When I was a kid, I remember sitting up all night on Christmas eve, trying to be quiet while playing with any Hanukkah presents I might have already been given. The joy of a two-culture family is strong, especially when you’re a kid and get double the gifts.

I’m not a kid anymore, at least on the outside. Now I get more pleasure from giving than I ever did from receiving, except for that one year when I got a model rocket set and a BB gun. One thing that hasn’t changed is how I treasure holiday time with my friends and family. Something about the calendar makes these days more special than the rest of the year even with people you see every day.

I’d like to take the time and tell everyone happy holidays. Merry Christmas, Happy belated Hanukkah, and Happy New Year. Y’all are the best and a big part of why I love this job.

o-cheers-leonardo-dicaprio-570.jpg?itok=

23
Dec

Arecibo is monitoring potentially hazardous near-earth asteroid


The iconic Arecibo radio telescope has faced quite a few challenges over the last ten years, including budget cuts, a funding crisis and damage from Hurricane Maria. While it may not be the largest radio telescope in the world anymore (that honor belongs to Russia’s RATAN-600), Puerto Rico’s device is still an important asset for detecting dangers to our planet. It’s good news, then, that the telescope is up and running again to be able to check out near-Earth asteroid 3200 Phaethon.

3200 Phaethon is thought to be the parent body for the Geminid meteor shower, which gave a pretty fantastic show recently mid-December. According to the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), Arecibo’s radar images of the asteroid show its spherical shape and a several-hundred-meters large concave area, as well as a “conspicuous dark, circular feature near one of the poles.” The second-largest near-earth asteroid looks to be about 3.6 miles in diameter, which classifies it as potentially hazardous.

“These new observations of Phaethon show it may be similar in shape to asteroid Bennu, the target of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, but 10 times larger,” Arecibo’s Dr. Patrick Taylor said in a statement. “The dark feature could be a crater or some other topographic depression that did not reflect the radar beam back at us.”

Source: USRA

23
Dec

Apple’s self-driving cars could use routes others have traveled


Apple has been working on some sort of autonomous car for a while now. The system — apparently an add-on to existing vehicles — has been seen in a research paper back in November. More plans appeared in a presentation by Carnegie Mellon professor of AI Ruslan Salakhutdinov this month. Now, according to a patent discovered by Autoblog, Apple’s 2015 application for an autonomous navigation system has just been published.

The patent’s abstract describes an autonomous navigation system that creates a “characterization” of a driving route. This route is created when drivers manually navigate along the route. Once that route has been manually driven a number of times to satisfy a “confidence indicator,” then the car can drive that route by itself. The characterizations can be updated as changes in the route happen, and can include special driving rules based on “monitoring the navigation of one or more vehicles of the route.” There’s also mention of some sort of remote database of routes that cars can upload routes to and download routes from, which sounds a bit like an extension of Apple Maps.

While this patent application is a couple of years old and simply describes a logic system that Apple wanted to use to inform autonomous driving, it’s an interesting approach. Using driving data from many drivers can likely help the Apple system learn routes faster and more accurately than a single car with sensors alone. It’s also likely that such a system will need to work in tandem with vehicle-based sensors as well.

Via: Autoblog

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office

23
Dec

Fragmentation in self-driving cars will eventually be a problem


If you remember the ’80s, you were probably amazed that you could walk up to a computer, type the following in BASIC and something would happen:

10 PRINT “Robbie is rad”
20 GOTO 10

It seemed like magic at the time (which is good, because that’s also the extent of my programming skills). That’s sort of where the automotive AI world is in 2017. Artificial intelligence is on the cusp of bringing to life the sort of futuristic computer that can identify, parse and react to real-world driving scenarios.

But like everything in tech, it’s in a hype cycle that’s seeing dozens of companies, large and small, competing to make sure their technology is in the car of the future. This past year, I’ve have a non-stop parade of startups pitch me about their AI autonomous driving systems. Many of them are suspect, while a few, like AImotive and Comma AI, look like they’re destined either to be swallowed up by a larger entity or to become part of the industry standard. But don’t expect a lot to change in 2018.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“The autonomous vehicle industry is just getting started, and it’s going to be decades and decades of development,” said Danny Shapiro, NVIDIA’s senior director of automotive. As the company building the hardware underpinning many current AI systems, NVIDIA has an insider’s view. As Shapiro sees it, any standard for vehicle AI would just squelch innovation this early in the game.

Instead, for the next decade or so, you can expect to see consolidation. Automakers or large tech companies will gobble up smaller startups for their AI prowess or talent. It’s a story that’s played itself out over and over again in Silicon Valley. Over the past year Intel acquired MobileEye. GM (which had invested heavily in Lyft) invested heavily in Uber. Meanwhile Waymo is now teaming up with Lyft.

But the stakes are far higher for autonomous cars. They have the potential to save lives, expand transportation options for people who can’t drive, and change the way cities and vehicles handle parking. And, of course, they will reduce CO2 emissions, by either being an EV or hybrid, or by driving more conservatively than humans.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But there needs to be a standard eventually. At some point, autonomous cars will be on the road and if there isn’t a federally regulated standard governing how these vehicles interact with the world, there will be chaos as consumers, cities and automakers with competing systems follow slightly different rules. For example, if every vehicle treated an intersection differently, the resulting chaos would be no better than when humans are behind the wheel. Automakers understand this.

Although these companies are fundamentally using AI in the same way, there are some differences in how the data is parsed and what hardware is deployed in their automobiles. For example, Mercedes-Benz pulls information from LiDAR, hardware used to measure and map items in the real world with lasers. Instead of trying to crunch the individual pixels in the resulting images, it creates blocks of data it calls “Stixels.” Meanwhile, Tesla doesn’t believe it needs LiDAR data to teach or drive its cars.

BMW is working on its own AI tech now but sees a future in sharing. “We think that there will be an industry standard,” said Peter Schwarzenbauer, the BMW AG board member responsible for digital business innovation. “But how it will turn out, we don’t know yet. But I don’t think that you’ll see too many different systems on the planet.” In addition to appeasing US regulators, car companies will have to adjust their AI systems for every region where they sell a car. It won’t be easy, but if at some point they can reach an agreement, it will work to the benefit of all involved.

In 2018, expect to see more self-driving news out of Waymo, Mercedes, GM, Intel and other big tech and car companies. With nearly all the companies touting their method for training their AI systems in a simulation instead of on the road, expect more news about cloud-based driving tech. But there will also be many small players. Think: scrappy startups like AImotive and Comma AI that either rise to the occasion or collapse by overpromising and under delivering. But mostly be on the lookout for more partnerships like the one between Ford and Intel or between GM and Lyft (and now Uber).

2017 was all about the AI hype. In 2018, companies are going to have to start delivering on their promises to make self-driving cars a reality. Because, eventually, our lives will depend on it.

Check out all of Engadget’s year-in-review coverage right here.

23
Dec

Here’s how to clean an oven without harsh chemicals


Cleaning an oven has a bad rap because putting your head in to scrub the walls conjures up images of Sylvia Plath. But it still has to be done from time to time. If you go for a long time without cleaning out the walls and shelves of your oven, it can start to smell funky whenever you heat it up. Depending on what type you have, there are a few different ways to go about cleaning your oven. If yours is of the self-cleaning variety, congrats; this will be way easier for you. If it’s an older model without that feature, you’ll have to do a little more work. In either case, here’s a quick tutorial on how to clean an oven without using any harsh chemicals.

Inside the Oven

The inside of the oven is one of the most neglected parts of a kitchen. It’s on of those “out of sight, out of mind” kind of things. Gunk can build up on the walls, and the more you cook the harder it is to scrape the grime off.

Self Cleaning Oven

If you don’t know whether or not your oven can clean itself, look on the nob and there will be a setting for cleaning. This process isn’t complicated; all it does is heat the oven to a really high heat and burn off everything stuck inside. Your oven will emit a pretty terrible smell, so open windows and keep kids and pets away from the kitchen until it has cooled.

Step 1- For some ovens you have to lock it yourself, but others lock it automatically whenever you start the cleaning process.

Step 2- Press the button or move the knob for cleaning.

Step 3- It takes anywhere from two to six hours to complete the process and the door will unlock when it’s finished.

Step 4- Let it cool for a couple hours before opening it to avoid scalding grease.

Step 5- When you open the door, there will be a pile of burned grease and leftover food. All you have to do is sweep or wipe that out and the inside is done. If the racks still have some gunk on them, you can take them out and soak them in the sink for half an hour and then wipe everything off.

Non-Self Cleaning Oven

Many older ovens don’t clean themselves, so you have to use some elbow grease. There are a few ways to tackle the nooks and crannies of your oven. The first and easiest way is to get oven cleaner like Easy-Off, spray it all over everything, let it dry and wipe it out. If you’re worried about fumes from the cleaner or the environment, you can make your own cleaner using baking soda and water.

Step 1- Remove the racks and soak them in warm water and dish soap for a couple hours.

Step 2- Add 4 tablespoons of baking soda to a spray bottle and fill the rest with water. Shake it up to dissolve the baking soda.

Step 3- Spray evenly on every surface.

Step 4- Let it soak for an hour. If you go back and the grime is still really stuck on there, spray again and wait another hour.

Step 5- Wipe it out with warm water. You can use a car windshield scraper to get off the really stubborn parts.

Step 6- If the walls are still grimy after you’ve removed the baking soda, dilute two tablespoons of white vinegar with warm water and quickly wipe everything down. The vinegar will react with the baking soda and make it come right off with a washcloth, which leaves a nice shine.

After rinsing and drying the racks that have been soaking, put them back in and the inside of the oven is done.

Cleaning the Door

You can clean the door of your oven the same way you did the inside with either oven cleaner or baking soda. If you have a window in the door, you can use glass cleaner on the inside and outside of the window. Get rid of any food or grease that has dripped down from the stove top onto the outside of the door with warm water and soap.

Stove top

Cleaning the inside of an oven sucks, so take a break before moving onto the stove — you’ve earned it.

Step 1- Remove all the grates and if those need to be washed, let them soak in some water like you did with the oven racks. If they look okay, just stack them to the side.

Step 2- Here you are faced with the same choice you had before, whether or not to use industrial strength cleaner or make your own. If you’re making your own, use the same baking soda and water mixture from before, then follow up with vinegar just like before.

Step 3- Put whichever cleaner you choose onto the entire area of the stove and wash it off with warm water. It’s basic cleaning, so we trust you can handle it from here.

Step 4- Replace the grates and you are ready to start cooking.

Not all stoves have grates, and if that’s the case, you obviously won’t be removing them to clean. For a glass-top stove, you’re going to need special cleaner to avoid streaks, and that can be found at a grocery store. To use, just put a little on the top and use a warm washcloth or green scrubbing pad to scrub the entire top, then use warm water to rinse it off. You can dry it with a towel or let it air dry depending on when you need to start cooking.

Now that you’ve conquered the oven, grab yourself a glass of spiked eggnog to celebrate.

[Image courtesy of Kamila Starzycka/Shutterstock]

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