The 11 Best Gadgets I Bought In 2014

Skyfall
Skyfall

1. 10” USB Extender

Oh the wonders of the USB extender. Anything I’m charging, usually my phone, can come to bed with me or sit on the couch with me or follow me around the apartment as I pace around talking to my parents. It’s insane that our chargers are only two or three feet long and I won’t stand for it anymore. Easily the best $7 I spent all year.

2. Wii U

I thought the Wii U would be stupid because the Wii became kind of stupid. I was very wrong. Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. are worth the price of the console alone. This is the best purchase I’ve ever made when it comes to entertaining guests. It also plays Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix. Hours of fun!

3. iPhone 6 Plus

I bought this big stupid phone that doesn’t really fit in my pocket and I love this big stupid phone that doesn’t really fit in my pocket. The larger screen size seemed silly at first but now it’s the exact right size for a phone. It makes reading books so easy my Kindle has been tossed to the side when I leave the apartment. It’s just big enough for video to finally make sense in my palm and just small enough to take everywhere I go. Thanks to Apple Pay I also can sometimes leave my wallet at home. Definitely worth the price, especially if you have an old phone to trade in or resell.

4. Clarisonic Mia

Just go buy it. That includes you, men. This little device is an electric sound-based brush for your face (I know that sounds insane but hear me out) that exfoliates your skin and prevents breakouts unlike anything I’ve ever tried. It charges wirelessly and comes with replaceable bush heads. My skin has never been smoother or healthier. It even comes in manly colors in case you’re not comfortable enough in your masculinity to admit that you care about your skin.

5. Sonicare Diamondclean Toothbrush

This toothbrush costs way too much and I would buy it again in a heartbeat. Dental hygiene is one of the most important things you can do for your long-term health and it’s horribly overlooked. This wireless rechargeable electric toothbrush looks like a spaceship and cleans like a team of highly trained scientists. My teeth felt weird after I used it… until I realize they had only ever been that clean after a dental visit. Oh, and they’re whiter. I love my overpriced space toothbrush.

6. iPad Air 2

The iPad is the best tablet on the market and the iPad Air 2 is the best iPad yet. It’s slim and light and it does everything I could possibly ask of it in record time. It comes with me to the gym, to work, and to my couch during TV/human vegetable time. You can find me in Planet Fitness watching music videos on this wonderful slab and using the elliptical by the window.

7. SodaStream

I like drinks that bubble – even though most of them are really bad for you. Now I can make them at home, for a fraction of the cost, and even cut out a ton of the calories and sugar. The SodaStream is the answer to a problem I didn’t even know I had. I want to attach my face to it and never stop drinking that glorious bubbly substance.

8. Google Chromecast

Give your TV super powers for the price of a good lunch. My TV (and it’s big speakers) can now play all the music, podcasts, TV shows, and movies that I want in HD, wirelessly, from any device. It’ll even mirror your computers’ browser so you can watch things that are normally only available on the web! So much joy, such a low price.

9. Kindle Voyage

Hands down the best ebook reader on the market. The Kindle Voyage has an improved touch screen, a light sensor to adapt to its surroundings, and a pressure sensitive bezel to flip the page with the slightest of ease. It’s been the first ebook reader I truly prefer using to an actual book.

10. Square Card Reader

This tiny, free, dongle plugs into your phone or tablet and lets your take credit card payments from your friends or customers. Like you have your own goddamn store. Throw it into your bag and never worry about that friend who doesn’t bring cash owing you money ever again. Your phone is now a goddamn store.

11. Bluetooth Headphones

I finally made the jump to Bluetooth headphones this year and the results have been awesome. Yes it sucks to charge your headphones every day, but the ease of having wireless headphones at the gym or on the subway is worth the trouble to me. No more weird cord wrapping or getting wires caught on doorknobs! This is the future. TC mark



A Look Back At 2014

shutterstock_236141542 2014 was an amazing year in startup news. In fact, we wrote more than 13,000 articles here on TechCrunch. That’s why we are giving you a handy TL;DR guide to remind you of all the big news from the past year. Apple: We predict that large phones will be the next big thing. WhatsApp: Sorry, I can’t hear you over the sound of all the $$$$. Amazon: Remember that one time we built… Read More

5 Things That Are Actually Just Scams

Arrested Development
Arrested Development

1. Spa Treatments

Ear candling is not a real thing. The wax you’re seeing in that cone is melting from within the candle. Expensive facemasks are generally stuff that you could either find in your own kitchen or drug store or they’re filled with products that won’t actually make it into your skin because of it’s semi-permeability. Cucumbers don’t reduce swelling. Detoxing is not a thing you need to buy – it’s what your liver and kidneys already do for you. (Ask your spa attendant to name a single toxin. They can’t.) You don’t need to pay to get your hair dyed brown, it’s really not that complicated. The deep conditioning treatment from CVS is the same one they’ll use at the spa. Baths and exfoliation treatments are also exactly the same in your apartment. I know they use lavender oil and tell you that you look amazing but you can also do both of those things for yourself. Stop blowing your money on things that don’t work.

2. Cell Phones Agreements

Buy your phone outright and hook it up to the cheapest carrier you get coverage for. Stop signing insane contracts with horrible and massive corporations. Yes, you get the phone for “free” and you’re “saving $100″ on the family plan, but don’t worry: because you’re contractually obligated to pay that phone off over time or be liable for a cancellation fee you’ll still be paying the exact same amount, if not many times more. Just buy the phone unlocked and get a $40/month unlimited plan. You’re welcome.

3. Retail Sales

Let me just open by telling you what you already know: The house always wins. Companies are not in the business of losing money. They know how to control you. The semi-annual-limited-time-Victoria-Secret-one-day-only-sale happens several times a month because that’s the only time when anyone buys anything. They, much like Amazon, trick you into thinking you’re saving a ton of money by crossing out a ridiculous price and writing a slightly lower one under it. Things are only worth what you’re willing to pay. Stop being fooled into buying $100 t-shirts because they were buy one, get one 50% off. You’re still spending $150 on t-shirts like some kind of Kardashian-West idiot.

4. The Lottery

You are the rule and not the exception. You are more likely to be hit by lightening twice in one year than you are to win the lottery. Instead, take those couple of dollars you’d spend after work and put them in a jar. At the end of the year call yourself a lottery winner and go buy a new TV with it. (Bonus tip: Watch Lucky and Millions: A Lottery Story to see how truly miserable everyone who wins the lottery actually is. Spoiler alert: it’s very.)

5. Cable TV

It is insane that we have to pay for all these channels we don’t watch. I watch 8 of the 250 channels offered and I’m at the higher end of the bunch. Just get Hulu+, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and pay your parents the $10/month for their HBO log in. You’ll save hundreds of dollars a year and turn the screws on Time Warner and Comcast’s stupid monopoly. Cut the cord, already! TC mark



What This Park Ranger Found Is Yet Another Reason Why Australia Is A Terrifying Place

Finding crazy things in the wilderness of Australia isn’t an uncommon occurrence. In fact, the land down under is full of all sorts of terrifying and killer creatures. Spider, snakes, scorpions, you name it, they have it all.
But what makes Australia even more terrifying is how often that deadly, terrifying wildlife comes into contact with humans.

Paul O’Neill, a park ranger at the Nitmiluk national park near Katherine in Australia’s Northern Territory, stumbled across this gruesome sight. A large (8 foot long) olive python was feeding on an “agile wallaby” joey.

Wildlife Commission NT

The agile wallaby is one of…

With The Right Person Anything Is Possible

white_ribbons
white_ribbons

A week ago I was at dinner with one of my friends I hadn’t seen in awhile. We were updating each other on the usual topics – work, life, dating, etc – when we both realized we had been almost entirely single for the entire year of 2014. ‘Almost entirely single’ meaning we had gone on some dates, made dating profiles for short periods of time, exchanged flirty texts with cute boys, maybe even had a month here or there of casual dating with someone – but nothing really stood out. Nothing worthy of pursuing a connection deeper than surface level.

Even though I contemplated the idea of pursuing relationships I ultimately chose to make other things a priority this year (work, travel). It was the first year in my 20s I didn’t have a boyfriend and honestly, I’m glad I dedicated the year to myself. I always knew how to be a good girlfriend but for once since I was in my late teens I wanted to learn how to be successfully single and on my own. My friend’s story was a little bit different. At dinner she told me why she’s single – she believes her standards are too high. She wants someone that holds a certain type of job with a high paying income and is able to offer her certain things. She feels like she’s a great catch – intelligent, beautiful, great career, funny, etc – and she wants someone who can match what she brings to the table no questions asked.

Later on after dinner I started thinking about my own standards in dating. I used to think about relationships in absolutes – it was only worth investing in someone if they fit into a particular standard or idea about the kind of person I could fall in love with. I wasn’t like my friend necessarily – I don’t really care too much about what kind of job or income my potential significant other holds but I had specific ideas on how things “should be.”

Then, recently, I went on a date of sorts with someone that stood out to me more so than anyone else has in quite a long time. He was smart, witty, creative, attractive, and most importantly he knew how to make me laugh. Realistically, neither of us are in a position to date each other right now and that’s totally okay. At least he reminded me of what that feeling is like – that moment when you’re looking at someone next to you and you’re not doing anything particularly special but you’re looking at them and you’re thinking, “we could be magnificent together.” You can visualize just how great things could really be between you. I think that’s such a special feeling and it was something I hadn’t experienced it in quite some time.

After that night I started thinking more and more about my dinner with my friend, our conversation about standards in dating, and then I sort of realized that it’s all sort of bullshit. I think with the right person anything is possible. You can have all sorts of ideas about how your ideal partner should be – the types of things they’re into, the job they’d have – but the truth is when you find your person, the person that compliments your life and fulfills you in ways no one else can, you ease up on those strict standards you thought you once had about love and dating.

You realize it’s okay if they don’t have the exact same views on every topic or if they don’t have the same hobbies or interests. Having things in common with someone and knowing what you want out of a partner is important, for sure, but I don’t think it ever has to be this black and white area. When you fall in love with someone the two of you decide your destiny together. You dream and plan and see what works and what doesn’t and together you create your own world to seek comfort in.

Maybe someone admittedly still has issues from their past or they’re still working on this whole adult thing but if they make you laugh and leave you feeling fulfilled, does it really matter? People have flaws and those flaws can make life and relationships messy because we’re all human and that’s just how it goes. We can choose to find the beauty in the imperfections of the people we give ourselves to if we try. But that’s the thing – we have to try. TC mark



6 Movies To Watch For An Awesome New Years Eve Movie Binge

Bridget Jones' Diary
Bridget Jones’ Diary

When Harry Met Sally – Harry and Sally meet when a mutual friend suggests they split the gas on the ride to New York after they both graduate from the University of Chicago. Initially there’s some tension and they both agree that friendship isn’t in the cards for them. The film follows the pair as they move in their lives, occasionally coming across each other during the course of their relationships and career. Eventually they form an actual friendship that they both value, but the constant question of whether or not straight men and women can actually just be friends keeps coming up. “Can a man and a woman be friends, without sex getting in the way?”

New Years Eve – This movie employs the Love, Actually model of storytelling, following several people with intertwining but independent stories on New Years Eve in New York. The pressures of the night crack our characters as they confront their issues with unlikely but amiable companions. It’s saccharine and there are lots of kissing scenes and corny moments and that is all just fine with me.

Bridget Jones’ Diary – Bridget Jones is an average British woman who, as her New Years resolution, decides to tackle her flaws head on. In order to keep all her major life changes straight she starts to keep a diary of the year as it progresses. Bridget’s friends and romantic interests struggle to connect with her as she travels her hilarious journey to self-improvement and self-love.

An Affair to Remember – The story of Nicky Ferrante and Terry McKay as they both cheat on their fiancés while on a cruise from Europe to New York. They decide to meet on the top of Empire State Building in six months if they still can’t keep each other off their minds. As you can imagine, the plan doesn’t go exactly as intended. Can love conquer all?

Sex and the City – The follow up film to the absolutely wonderful and still controversial HBO series Sex and the City finds Carrie and Mr. Big engaged to be married. Their wedding goes from an intimate affair to a blowout event in record time. Miranda says exactly the wrong thing to Mr. Big the night before the big event and he decides his feet are just too cold to go through with another wedding. Carrie and the girls fly off to Mexico, on what was meant to be a honeymoon trip, to try to crack Carrie’s romantic problems once and for all.

Ghostbusters II – This sequel shoots five years into the future after the events of Ghostbusters. Our heroes find themselves under a pile of legal action that has bankrupted the business and torn their company apart. Dana is also back, with a new baby, and her supernatural issues pull the Ghostbusters out of retirement. Watch out for all the slime! TC mark



This Viral Feminist Comic Is Extremely Smart And Funny (And Brave)

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 6.37.16 PM

Comics are a good way to make people laugh, but they can also make people think. Did you know that? Well, you probably didn’t. But one artist did. A feminist artist. And her work is now going viral all over the internet. People can’t get enough of this viral content.

We talked to the brave cartoonist behind this picture (me) and she had this to say:

Basically I got really tired of men thinking that rape is good, when actually, rape is bad. So I made this comic to show men that rape is bad and to also let women know that other women think rape is bad. TC mark



20 Essential iPhone Apps You Need On Your Phone

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

Duolingo – Learn any major language on the go with this fun, scientifically backed, learning app. It’s not just educational, it’s also fun and social. It syncs with the desktop website and the other apps to track your progress as you learn. Asombroso!

ScanBot – Scanbot takes any physical document and digitizes it into a PDF using your device’s camera. From there you can search within the document, using its text recognition features, and convert it into a variety of formats. Dead simple, super useful.

Netflix/Hulu+/HBO Go/Amazon Prime/etc. – All these apps do essentially the same thing. Log in with your cable TV account or pay a monthly fee for access to thousands of TV shows and movies. They don’t all have the same content though, so choose wisely (or let’s be real – just get them all). An essential for couch huggers like me.

Wunderlist – An app that just makes lists seems sort of silly… “Isn’t that what my Notes app for is for?” you ask. No, no it is not. This amazing app lets you make a variety of collaborative lists with the people in your life. You can even assign tasks to specific contacts and add details about each item. I’ve never been more organized.

iTV Shows 3 – There are many TV tracking apps out there but I prefer this one. It keeps track of when your shows are on and notifies you if you’d like to watch them live. It also keeps track of which episodes you’ve seen and which you haven’t, so you can stop checking the episode descriptions and spoiling yourself.

Reeder 2 – I about died when Google Reader shuttered. I use RSS to keep up with all my favorite blogs and news outlets and I depend on it as a way of keeping up to date on current events. This gorgeous and feature rich app lets you do RSS the way it was intended.

Venmo – Venmo is the dead simple way to make money social. Sending a friend the cash you owe them is now as easy as sending a Tweet. Just hook it up to your bank account and cards and you’re good to go!

Horizon – Nobody should be watching video shot horizontally. It’s a nightmare. This app lets you hold your phone any way you like (even turn it while recording) while still capturing a gloriously widescreen shot. It’s awesome and it should be mandatory in the official Camera apps of the world.

Instapaper – Reading long form pieces sitting in front of a desktop screen is insane. So is keeping a thousand tabs open so you remember to read things when you get a chance. In steps Instapaper! With a simple bookmarklet (or a copy-and-paste-the-link job) a copy of the article’s text is saved in the cloud for a gloriously uniform reading experience on the go.

Seamless/Grubhub – These apps replace finding menus for restaurants and calling them to place an order for delivery. Instead, you just tap away and food shows up in approximately 45 minutes. After a long day at work this is a godsend.

Day One – Day One works like a social network where you post things only you will ever see. It’s the 21st century version of the old pen-and-paper diary, except now it keeps your photos/videos, audio recordings, location info, etc. with your entries and is password protected. Keeping a diary is never a bad idea.

RunPee – RunPee tells you when to go to the bathroom during movies and gives you a short synopsis of what you missed to read on the way back from doing your business. It’s fucking genius.

Spotify/Beats Music/Xbox Music – Almost all the music in the world (not Taylor Swift) available all the time to anyone for only $10 a month? That’s a major step forward for music education and culture… not to mention a killer deal. I prefer Spotify, but that’s just me.

Perfect365/Facetune – A lot of factors go into taking a good photo. Lighting, makeup, overall health, perfect angles, and more can determine whether you look like a bloated sewer demon or a red carpet starlet. Well, here’s your chance to cheat a little and do some minor Photoshopping on your pics. As they say, all’s fair in love and selfies. Pro tip, though: When it comes to retouching less is always more.

Shyp – Take a picture of the items you want to ship and type in wherever you want to ship them. Wait for the delivery person to arrive. Hand them your stuff. Be done with it. Super cheap service from super friendly people. They even gift-wrap!

Uber/Gett/Lyft/HailO – Uber is an evil company (if you haven’t been keeping up on the reports just trust me here) that provides an awesome service. There are alternatives though! Download the competitors and give them your money instead. Use Uber only when you have a coupon/have to.

iA Writer – Hands down my favorite word processor to use on the go. It keeps all your work in sync and backed up for you and its minimalist design means you can focus on what’s actually important.

Instagram – Instagram is Twitter for people who aren’t funny. I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram but it’s definitely a must-have if you wanna show off your cool outfit or the gorgeous view you came across.

Monument Valley – The only game that made this list for a reason. It’s beautiful, poignant, complex, and both exciting and calming. Definitely worth the sticker price.

First Aid – This is just a smart idea. In case you forgot when you learned in health class, this app has the basic first aid anyone might need in an emergency. Just get those fingers working as fast as possible and thank me later. TC mark



10 Stupid Things About LA

Entourage
Entourage

1. The traffic, obviously. When making plans for the daytime, you almost always have to factor in bullshit on Wilshire, assholes on Santa Monica Blvd, and a host of other large and small streets. Getting anywhere in the morning between 8am and 10am, or 4pm-7pm is a headache that we all share. Convenient since Google Maps at these times always looks like an aneurysm.

2. The 405 itself. It’s like an entity, a being of pure frustration. Its emphatic spouse, the 10, is no less of a test of your patience. The 405 threads north-south on the westside and the 10 connects Santa Monica to downtown. Where the two meet, where they make angry love twice a day for hours, is where you yourself begin to wonder why the fuck you’re going to Lauren’s dinner party anyway. You don’t even like Lauren. You don’t even like her friends. You don’t even like your friends that are going to be there. They’re all assholes. Everyone’s an asshole.

Especially that fucker in the BMW who cut you off and is now sitting in front of your battered VW. You both sit. Stuck in that goddamn curved merging lane for 15 goddamn minutes.

3. People really honestly can’t drive. Some could argue that you have to drive a little crazy in order to get anywhere in this car-centric city but my god. The dumb shit that people will do. Oh, you’re about to miss your left? Instead of making a couple legal and negligible rights, why don’t you just stop in the middle of busy traffic and try to merge across three lanes. Yeah. That’s it. Fucker.

4. Public transit. Let’s say, hypothetically, that you don’t wanna deal with any of that traffic bullshit. No dice, pal. There are no subways unless you’re downtown or adjacent (something about earthquakes), so most day to day transit is on the road. In the traffic. Bring a book.

5. “Is there gluten in that?” Sure, yes, you have a gluten allergy or intolerance or whatever. Fine. It’s just a little funny how all of a sudden everyone in LA is “gluten-free”.

6. The lightest rain is treated like an apocalypse. Shops close, cars crash, children scream. War of the Worlds. Where’s Tom Cruise when you need him?

7. “What’s your sign?” This probably isn’t LA exclusive but I take it to be really quintessential to the type of people that live here. You can’t extricate this passive but obstinate obsession with horoscopes without having quite a different city. The great thing about this, though, is that someone you’ve known for months and seen pretty regularly will ask about your sign. “Guess,” I say, and they’ll drop eight wrong guesses before I go ahead and tell them. Their eyes widen and they say, “Oh, yeah! I totally see that!” You didn’t see it ten minutes ago when we started this bullshit conversation.

8. “Froyo.” It’s frozen yogurt. Get over it. I’ve been putting Gogurts in the freezer since I was in elementary school.

9. “So, what do you do?” It seems like in LA people always want to know what you do and usually the idea seems to be like, “Oh, do you work for the industry?” The industry which is, the way some people act, some omnipresent deity for whom everyone is toiling away. It’s showbiz or whatever, and it’s silly.

10. “Do you see a lot of celebrities?” Okay, it’s not even an LA thing technically because it’s almost always said by outsiders, but they almost always ask this of people who live in LA. Can we not do this? Yes, they’re all over the place. Celebrities don’t live on some cloud above the city like some Disney-fied Mt. Olympus. It’s less of an awe-inspiring moment and more of an “lol guess who I saw at Whole Foods.” TC mark