A VPN can stop internet companies from selling your data — but it’s not a magic bullet

A VPN can stop internet companies from selling your data — but it’s not a magic bullet

A VPN can stop internet companies from selling your data — but it’s not a magic bullet

Earlier this week, Congress voted to repeal privacy measures that would stop internet service providers from sharing their users’ internet activity with third parties. Those rules were passed in October, but not only does this vote undo them, it prevents the FCC from reinstating similar rules in the future. This is great for broadband companies, but if you’re one of these companies’ users, what are you supposed to do?

One popular recommendation you might have heard is to use a virtual private network, or VPN. You can find a lot of comprehensive online explanations of what VPNs are, but in the simplest terms, they create a secure, encrypted connection between your computer (or phone, tablet, &c.) and a private server somewhere else, preventing anyone else from seeing or modifying that traffic. When you browse the internet, data goes to the server, which passes it securely back to you. When you send data out, it appears to come from the server, not your computer. While it doesn’t make you anonymous — the VPN can see your traffic, and law enforcement can request information from VPN companies — it obscures what you’re doing online.

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The border wall made of pipe organs isn’t real, but it’s still getting construction offers

The border wall made of pipe organs isn’t real, but it’s still getting construction offers

The border wall made of pipe organs isn’t real, but it’s still getting construction offers

When artist Jennifer Meridian signed up as a bidder for Donald Trump’s US-Mexico border wall, she didn’t think much would come of her plan. Meridian, part of Pittsburgh-based JM Design Studio, had wanted to make a statement about the wall’s absurdity. So her studio imagined a series of subversive, welcoming “barriers” made of lighthouses, hammocks, and pipe organs. “I just did it as a very light gesture,” Meridien says. “I imagined it would just be discarded immediately.” Then, she got her first pitch from somebody who wanted to help her build them.

The first vendor to approach her was hawking a product called EZ Slide, an “anti-climb coating” as slippery as ice that would “improve the aesthetics of the wall, protect it from the environment, and be a significant additional deterrent to climbing.” The company had reached out to JM Design Studio in a general pitch to interested bidders, and it offered to send her a sample, in case her design received one of the government’s $200,000 to $500,000 contracts to build 30-foot prototype walls. More emails followed — from construction subcontractors, historic preservation consultants, and other companies looking to capture a piece of border wall funding.

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SpaceX’s hyperloop race was a milestone for the futuristic transportation system

SpaceX’s hyperloop race was a milestone for the futuristic transportation system

SpaceX’s hyperloop race was a milestone for the futuristic transportation system

Last weekend, excitement ran high at the SpaceX Hyperloop competition, a culmination of a year’s work on dogged research and development to imagine and build the transportation of the future. Just before the first finalist’s pod launched, a rustle ran through the crowd of SpaceX employees, hyperloop teams, and journalists. Elon Musk appeared on the stage.

Back in 2013, Musk released his white paper that theorized the possibility of aerodynamic aluminum capsules filled with passengers or cargo that could travel in a nearly airless tube at roughly the speed of sound. “Hyperloop Alpha” teased the possibility of traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles in just 30 minutes. His idea inspired engineers and investors around the world, ultimately prompting Musk to launch the design contest. Part one was held at Texas A&M University last year, while part two — in which actual pods were propelled through an actual hyperloop tube, a global first — wrapped up last Sunday.

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SpaceX’s hyperloop race was a milestone for the futuristic transportation system

SpaceX’s hyperloop race was a milestone for the futuristic transportation system

SpaceX’s hyperloop race was a milestone for the futuristic transportation system

Last weekend, excitement ran high at the SpaceX Hyperloop competition, a culmination of a year’s work on dogged research and development to imagine and build the transportation of the future. Just before the first finalist’s pod launched, a rustle ran through the crowd of SpaceX employees, hyperloop teams, and journalists. Elon Musk appeared on the stage.

Back in 2013, Musk released his white paper that theorized the possibility of aerodynamic aluminum capsules filled with passengers or cargo that could travel in a nearly airless tube at roughly the speed of sound. “Hyperloop Alpha” teased the possibility of traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles in just 30 minutes. His idea inspired engineers and investors around the world, ultimately prompting Musk to launch the design contest. Part one was held at Texas A&M University last year, while part two — in which actual pods were propelled through an actual hyperloop tube, a global first — wrapped up last Sunday.

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SpaceX’s hyperloop race was a milestone for the futuristic transportation system

SpaceX’s hyperloop race was a milestone for the futuristic transportation system

SpaceX’s hyperloop race was a milestone for the futuristic transportation system

Last weekend, excitement ran high at the SpaceX Hyperloop competition, a culmination of a year’s work on dogged research and development to imagine and build the transportation of the future. Just before the first finalist’s pod launched, a rustle ran through the crowd of SpaceX employees, hyperloop teams, and journalists. Elon Musk appeared on the stage.

Back in 2013, Musk released his white paper that theorized the possibility of aerodynamic aluminum capsules filled with passengers or cargo that could travel in a nearly airless tube at roughly the speed of sound. “Hyperloop Alpha” teased the possibility of traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles in just 30 minutes. His idea inspired engineers and investors around the world, ultimately prompting Musk to launch the design contest. Part one was held at Texas A&M University last year, while part two — in which actual pods were propelled through an actual hyperloop tube, a global first — wrapped up last Sunday.

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Amazon’s Echo Spot is a sneaky way to get a camera into your bedroom

Amazon's Echo Spot is a sneaky way to get a camera into your bedroom

Amazon’s Echo Spot is a sneaky way to get a camera into your bedroom

Amazon unveiled six new hardware products at its surprise event in Seattle yesterday, but the Echo Spot has everyone talking. Most people think the Echo Spot is cute; a little alarm clock that’s designed to sit next to your bed. While all the focus is on what the Echo Spot looks like, it’s important to remember that Amazon is using the Spot as a very clever way of making you comfortable with having a camera in your bedroom. It’s also a camera that will probably be pointing directly at your bed.

Amazon launched its Echo Look camera earlier this year to judge your outfits. It’s designed to sit in your wardrobe and offer you style advice, and it was Amazon’s first Echo device with a camera. Amazon quickly followed it up with the Echo Show, a touchscreen device that sits in your kitchen and lets you watch tutorials or recipes and participate in video calls. Amazon’s Look device is still only available exclusively by invitation, and in hindsight it now looks like experimental hardware to gauge the reaction of a camera in the bedroom. A litmus test, if you will.

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Amazon’s Echo Spot is a sneaky way to get a camera into your bedroom

Amazon's Echo Spot is a sneaky way to get a camera into your bedroom

Amazon’s Echo Spot is a sneaky way to get a camera into your bedroom

Amazon unveiled six new hardware products at its surprise event in Seattle yesterday, but the Echo Spot has everyone talking. Most people think the Echo Spot is cute; a little alarm clock that’s designed to sit next to your bed. While all the focus is on what the Echo Spot looks like, it’s important to remember that Amazon is using the Spot as a very clever way of making you comfortable with having a camera in your bedroom. It’s also a camera that will probably be pointing directly at your bed.

Amazon launched its Echo Look camera earlier this year to judge your outfits. It’s designed to sit in your wardrobe and offer you style advice, and it was Amazon’s first Echo device with a camera. Amazon quickly followed it up with the Echo Show, a touchscreen device that sits in your kitchen and lets you watch tutorials or recipes and participate in video calls. Amazon’s Look device is still only available exclusively by invitation, and in hindsight it now looks like experimental hardware to gauge the reaction of a camera in the bedroom. A litmus test, if you will.

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A new way to warm up frozen tissue could help with the organ shortage

A new way to warm up frozen tissue could help with the organ shortage

A new way to warm up frozen tissue could help with the organ shortage

A new way to warm up frozen tissue using tiny vibrating particles could one day help with the problem of organ shortages.

We know how to cool organs to cryogenic temperatures, which is usually below 320 degrees Fahrenheit. But the organs can’t be stored for long — sometimes only four hours for heart and lungs — because they get damaged when you try to warm them up. As a result, more than 60 percent of donor hearts and lungs aren’t transplanted. In a study published today in Science Translational Medicine, scientists used nanoparticles to warm up frozen tissue quickly and without damaging the organs. Within a decade, this could lead to being able to store entire organs in organ banks for a long period of time, the authors say.

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An inside look at Ford’s $1 billion bet on Argo AI

An inside look at Ford’s $1 billion bet on Argo AI

An inside look at Ford’s $1 billion bet on Argo AI

Somewhere between the 14th and 15th floors in a concrete stairwell, Bryan Salesky pauses, searching for the right words to explain his mission for the foreseeable future. He wants to give cars the eyes, ears, and brains they need to operate without humans. And he wants to do it for Ford Motor Company by 2021.

The CEO of Argo AI — a startup that appeared seemingly out of nowhere six months ago, with $1 billion in backing from Ford — is hardly alone in the pursuit to transform the automobile into a vehicle controlled by artificial intelligence. Though a fire alarm interrupted an interview in a San Francisco conference room, Salesky stays focused and collected. And if he is feeling the pressure to develop and deliver this system so Ford — its sole customer, backer, and majority shareholder — can deploy fully autonomous vehicles in just four years’ time, it doesn’t show.

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Fasting every other day isn’t as good of a weight loss method as you think

Fasting every other day isn't as good of a weight loss method as you think

Fasting every other day isn’t as good of a weight loss method as you think

Losing weight is hard when it seems like you’ll spend every day of the rest of your life deprived, poking at oatmeal and steamed broccoli. So, in the past few years, fasting diets have become popular. You eat very little one day, sure, but the next day you can eat all the burritos and burgers you desire. Then, not only do you lose weight more quickly, it makes it psychologically easy to hold on in the long run.

This makes intuitive sense. But a new study published today in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine suggests this might not be the case for a specific type of fasting diet called alternate-day fasting. The researchers randomly assigned 100 obese participants to either fast every other day, go on a more traditional diet, or do nothing at all. After a year, the people in the fasting group didn’t lose more weight, or have more health benefits, compared to the normal weight-loss group — and more people dropped out of the fasting group.

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