These guys recreated 'The Creation of Adam' in a swimming pool and it's undeniably epic

The original.
The original.
Image: Lucas Schifres/Getty Images

If you’re going to recreate a massively famous painting in live action, you might as well do it right.

Well, Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” — that one painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel — is pretty much as daunting a challenge as you could get.

These Redditors certainly did it proud, though:

That was image posted in the r/pics sub on Tuesday. It’s since been upvoted over 94,000 times.

The guy who shared it (he’s the one on the left in the image) took to the comments to answer a few questions, too.

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A+ work.

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Apple's iOS 12.1 code hints at new iPads coming in the fall

This guy might be getting replaced soon.
This guy might be getting replaced soon.
Image: Lili Sams/Mashable

Apple’s big September event came and went with no trace of new, highly-anticipated iPads. 

But the wait probably won’t be very long. 9to5Mac reports that a “2018 Fall iPad” has been referenced in iOS 12.1 code, which was released Tuesday. 

There are no details as to what this new iPad might be like. But fall likely means October (November is also a possibility, but Apple historically held two iPad events in October and none in November), so at least we sort-of know when it’s coming. 

As for what’s coming, nothing’s official yet, but there have been plenty of rumors describing a new iPad Pro with Face ID and no home button (check out the renders below).

According to Bloomberg, Apple is likely to launch at least two new iPad Pro devices, one with an 11-inch screen and one with a larger, 12.9-inch screen. And dependable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently said the new iPads will have a USB-C instead of Lightning connectors. 

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iOS 12 review: Finally, the fear of upgrading is over

Disclosure

Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

iOS 12 is here and you should download it right now.
iOS 12 is here and you should download it right now.
Image: vicky leta/mashable

Lightning fast • even on older phones • A smarter Siri is compatible with more third-party apps • Password management’s never been easier • Notifications are finally grouped by app

Screen Time can be confusing to navigate • Shortcuts app isn’t for beginners • Memoji are kind of bland

The Bottom Line

iOS 12 may not have some of the big marquee features of previous years’ updates, but it still delivers massive improvements everywhere it counts most.

Mashable Score4.5
Cool Factor4.0
Learning Curve4.0
Performance5.0
Bang for the Buck5.0

Every year, when Apple releases a new version of iOS, the questions start. Friends, family, total strangers — it doesn’t matter who asks, the question is always the same: Should I download the latest version of iOS? 

They ask, not because they want my opinion on Apple’s latest software trick, but a separate, nagging concern: Won’t it slow down my phone? 

SEE ALSO: Here’s how to update your iPhone or iPad to iOS 12

No matter how many times I try to explain the importance of staying up to date with security patches, or the benefits of [insert new iOS feature] the perception is the same — that the new iOS update will muck up their phone (a perception certainly not helped by last year’s battery slowdown fiasco).

But iOS 12 is different. With the latest update, Apple put performance and stability first, and not just for its most recent hardware. The update, which is compatible back to the iPhone 5S, has also been optimized to run faster and more efficiently on older phones. So, yes, you can update to iOS 12 without slowing down your phone. In fact, if you have an older iPhone or iPad, it should actually make it faster (yes, really).

Performance first

Apple’s focus on performance isn’t just limited to older devices. There are numerous under-the-hood tweaks that make iOS 12 faster and smoother for everyone. In practice, this may not be immediately obvious as the result is that, well, everything works the way you expect it to. I’ve been using iOS 12 since the first day the developer beta was available, and it’s easily the least buggy iOS update I can remember.

This focus on reliability may not make for the most exciting features — earlier reports indicate Apple shelved some planned features in favor of focusing on performance — but it’s what will make the biggest difference to everyone who uses it. It’s also incredibly important for Apple, which needs to regain trust after a year that included Batterygate and the bug-riddled iOS 11 rollout. All that said, there are still plenty of new features that make iOS 12 worth your time. 

Siri catches up 

While even early iPhones felt like world-class smartphones, Siri hasn’t always measured up. There are lots of reasons for that (many of which Apple has addressed), but, for a long time, one of the biggest sticking points for Siri skeptics was that Apple’s assistant remained stubbornly closed off to third-party apps. 

That changed in 2016 with the arrival of SiriKit in iOS 10, but even that was a bit of a letdown because it was limited to specific categories, like transportation apps. Shortcuts aims to fill those gaps by allowing any app to be compatible with Siri.

Shortcuts let you automate certain tasks using custom Siri commands. You can find suggestions for things you may want to automate in the Siri section of the main Settings app, and you can record a voice command you want to trigger that action. The suggestions iOS provides will be based on your own habits and the apps you use, including third-party apps.

Custom Siri Shortcuts in iOS 12.

Custom Siri Shortcuts in iOS 12.

For example, you can set up a shortcut to start a new voice memo, or read you the latest headlines in your preferred news app. It’s up to individual developers to support the feature, so not all apps will support it on day one, but there’s already a lot you can do with it.

If you want to really nerd out, you can use the dedicated Shortcuts app, which is the redesigned and rebranded Workflow app that Apple acquired last year. One of the biggest issues with Workflow was that it was far too complicated for most people. Shortcuts addresses some of the usability issues with Workflow, but it’s still clearly meant for power users. 

The app uses a drag-and-drop interface to let you chain multiple tasks together into a single shortcut. For example, you could get Siri to automatically make GIFs out of your photos, or ask Siri to “start your day” and automatically call up directions to work and information about the first appointment on your calendar. 

It’s still not the most intuitive interface, but if you’re willing to spend a little time with it, you can get really creative. The app also provides a library of ready-made Shortcuts to make it easier to get started, and you can remix these to suit your needs. 

The Shortcuts app.

The Shortcuts app.

If all that sounds too complicated, there’s another way to use Siri Shortcuts with very little effort. Periodically, Siri will also automatically push suggested shortcuts to your lock screen and Spotlight Search. These can be simple, like suggesting you return a missed call, or more complex, such as suggesting you enable “Do Not Disturb” at a movie theatre. Siri can even push shortcuts from third-party apps (provided the developer has add support for Shortcuts). 

These suggestions are tailored to you based on your habits. Behind the scenes, Siri takes into account more than 100 different signals, such as the time of day and your current location, as well as how you typically use your phone, to build these recommendations. 

How often you actually see these suggestions will depend on a couple of factors. Some of it has to do with how predictable your behavior is, like if you tend to use certain apps at very specific times. The apps you frequently use also play a role. What you see from third-party apps will likely be more limited to start, as many developers have yet to update their apps to support Siri’s new capabilities, but will get more useful over time. 

Siri Shortcuts can appear on your lock screen.

Siri Shortcuts can appear on your lock screen.

On a more philosophical level, these types of suggestions are a significant step for Siri as it shows that Apple is finally doing more to make its assistant… well, more of an actual assistant. Last year, when I wrote my predictions for iOS in 2020, I predicted that “iOS will be able to take a much more active role in determining what apps and actions are put in front of you at any given moment.” Now, we’re starting to see the first signs of that actually being possible.

If you’ve spent the last few years mostly ignoring Siri, now is definitely the time to start rethinking that.

Find your limits

Apple doesn’t just want iOS 12 to be better for your phone, it wants it to be better for you, too. At least, that’s the premise behind Screen Time, a feature that lets you see just how much you’re using your phone and set some limits — if you have the willpower. 

The Screen Time feature itself is actually several different settings that boil down to two categories: a dashboard that feeds you stats on how much you use your phone, and various methods for limiting how much time you spend in apps. Before you start trying to set limits, it’s useful to take a peek at your dashboard. 

If you spend a lot of time on your phone, prepare to be horrified. I’ve been regularly checking my Screen Time stats for months now and, well, I might have a problem.

The (sort of) good news here is that you can actually do something about this. You can set limits on categories of apps you want to use less, like social media apps, or schedule downtime away from your phone altogether. In both cases, it’s relatively easy to ignore your self-imposed limits, though iOS suspends the app icons as a visual reminder that you’re not supposed to be using them.

My issue with Screen Time is that the controls don’t feel like they’ll actually do much to change behavior. In my case, I clearly spend too much time on Twitter, and get far too many email notifications. But it’s not immediately clear what I should actually do about that. Sure, I can adjust my notification settings or set app-limits, but it would be nice if Screen Time could actually provide personalized recommendations about settings to change, much like the way it provides suggestions to maximize your storage.

It's pretty easy to ignore your own self-imposed time limits in Screen Time.

It’s pretty easy to ignore your own self-imposed time limits in Screen Time.

It would also be helpful if it could contextualize your stats in some way. An average of 204 notifications a day sounds like a lot, but it’s hard to judge for yourself without something to weigh those numbers against.

My other issue with Screen Time is that app limits default to blocking entire entire categories of apps. Open the app limits menu and it greets you with a checklist of different categories, like social media or productivity apps. 

While this approach may work for some, I’d prefer if it was easier to limit specific apps one-by-one, rather than entire categories. Yes, there are workarounds to this: you can exempt specific apps from app limits, and there is a way to set limits on a per-app basis, but these are far from intuitive. 

Do Not Disturb has a lot more options now (available when you 3D Touch on the shortcut in Control Center).

Do Not Disturb has a lot more options now (available when you 3D Touch on the shortcut in Control Center).

One group I can see Screen Time making a big difference for is parents. While a lot of parental controls focus on the granular details — policing exactly what apps and websites are accessible, for example — Screen Time might be much more useful for parents worried about social media addiction. Because you’re able to set app-specific limits and set a schedule for when apps can and can’t be used (all protected with a separate, dedicated passcode) Screen Time could be a powerful tool for parents.

If you want to take a break without setting such granular limits, Apple’s also greatly improved Do Not Disturb. You can now opt to enable it for specific periods of times or tie Do Not Disturb to your current location, which could be particularly useful for when you’re heading into a movie theater or an important meeting. 

Stock apps get a makeover 

Many of Apple’s stock apps have also gotten some much needed attention. Books, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Apple News have been revamped. If you don’t already use these apps, the changes probably aren’t big enough to make you give them a second look, but if you do use them, you’ll appreciate the refresh.

Apple's new Stocks, Books, and Voice Memos apps.

Apple’s new Stocks, Books, and Voice Memos apps.

Apple also introduced an all-new utility app that uses augmented reality, called Measure

The app uses AR to help you measure objects. In my testing, it works pretty well with easy-to-define objects, like books, but sometimes struggles with things that have more of an unusual shape. I could see the app being useful if you need to take some quick off-the-cuff measurements, but I don’t think I’d feel comfortable using it for anything I needed a precise measurement for. 

Two of Apple’s apps that are likely to get the most attention are Messages and FaceTime. Messages is mostly unchanged from last year, though there’s a new Photos app for sharing images in Messages. The new star of Messages, though, is Memoji.

Sort of like Apple’s answer to Snapchat’s wildly popular Bitmoji, Memoji’s custom avatars are like the next step up from Animoji. I feel the same way about Memoji as I do Animoji. It’s entertaining the first few times you use it, and it’s great for demonstrating the power of the TrueDepth camera, but it still feels like a bit of a gimmick.

Making a Memoji is fun, but they all have the same bland look.

Making a Memoji is fun, but they all have the same bland look.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun creating my own avatar, and attempting to make approximations of friends and family, but that’s the problem: Memoji just don’t feel that personal. There just aren’t enough customization options to make them feel truly unique. 

Speaking of fun, FaceTime also got some seemingly Snapchat-inspired features. You can use a bunch of new effects, like filters and stickers, or overlay Memoji and Animoji onto your own face while in a call. The much touted group-calling feature isn’t yet available, but it will finally bring FaceTime up to scratch with pretty much every other video chat app.

There’s more. Notifications are finally, finally, finally grouped by app, much like they are on Android. It’s a small change — and one, frankly, we shouldn’t have had to wait until iOS 12 for — but it makes dealing with notifications significantly less painful.

Tuning notifications is a good way to adjust preferences on the fly.

Tuning notifications is a good way to adjust preferences on the fly.

There’s also a feature called “Instant Tuning,” which lets you adjust notification settings directly from the notification itself. You can change the app’s settings to “deliver quietly,” which allows the notification to surface in Notification Center, but nowhere else, or turn them off altogether.  

Passwords are even easier to manage. iOS can now automatically generate secure passwords and store them in your iCloud keychain. If you use a password manager, like OnePassword or LastPass, you can autofill passwords in apps and websites without having to manually open the app. And SMS verification codes are automatically pulled into your keyboard, so you don’t have to switch over to the Messages app to grab the code.

All of these are huge time-savers that make it even easier to use secure passwords on every service you use. 

Should you download?

If you made it this far, the question is likely still in the back of your mind. If it wasn’t clear already, the answer is yes. In previous years, the only excuse for holding off on downloading was because you were either worried about bugs or worried about slowing down an older device. 

But with this year’s emphasis on stability and speed, those excuses no longer hold water. In fact, the iOS 12 update should actually make your older iPhone or iPad noticeably faster while also giving you the latest Siri features and other improvements. 

So, go download without anxiety: iOS 12 is an update that makes your iPhone (and iPad) better everywhere it counts most.

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What I learned on the longest, craziest electric bike ride of my life

E-bike evangelist Brian Sarmiento takes a yoga break before leaving California.
E-bike evangelist Brian Sarmiento takes a yoga break before leaving California.
Image: chris taylor

I had pedaled the first 20 miles up Big Oak Flat Road in Yosemite National Park, cursing its misleading name — far from flat, the route gains 7,000 ft in altitude — when my electric bicycle’s battery finally died. That’s when I had one of the strangest good news-bad news moments of my life.

Good news: I had saddlebags containing three pre-charged batteries! Bad news: heave and squeeze as I might, the new five-pound battery and its clunky hard plastic cover simply would not fit into the slim slot my Gazelle electric bike required. (Too late, I remembered that the Gazelle rep had trouble demoing this maneuver when he delivered the bike, and cursed myself for not practicing.) 

Good news: there’s probably a manual online that will tell me the trick to doing it! Bad news: I lost cellphone reception miles back. You don’t know what you want from the internet until it’s gone. 

Good news: I would shortly reach Highway 120, which would take me directly to my meeting with an electric bike guru! Bad news: not for another 65 miles — the topography of which was unknown to me. 

Good news: at least I still have a Camelbak full of snacks, and water, which I really need in this heat! Bad news: Glug, glug, gl— hssssshhh … Oh. 

Et tu, Camelbak? I felt an uncontrollable, stressed-out kind of laugh bubbling up. What the hell was I doing here? I’d gone for maybe eight or nine rides in the past year. I wasn’t the kind of cyclist who could pedal a hundred pounds of bike under my own steam. The batteries were my superhero power. Now I was stuck in Clark Kent mode, and Doomsday was approaching.  

I had to laugh again when I remembered the reason it had come to this: because a sales guy in Irvine, California didn’t want to fly to a trade show.

Get on your e-bike and ride

Meet my ride: the Gazelle Cityzen T-10 electric bike ($3,000).

Meet my ride: the Gazelle Cityzen T-10 electric bike ($3,000).

Image: Gazelle

Every September, America’s $6 billion bicycling industry gathers in Nevada for its largest event, Interbike. And every year, Interbike attendees arrive by plane and car and van and truck — any form of transport, in fact, other than the clean and supremely efficient one they’ve gathered to praise. 

“Nobody rides a bike to the bike show,” says Brian Sarmiento, a sales manager and electric bike aficionado based in Irvine, California. “No one even talks about it.” Given that the cycling fans that show up think nothing of “centuries,” or hundred-mile rides, Sarmiento “thought that was odd.”

So in 2017, Sarmiento became the first out-of-town attendee to cycle to the big cycle show. He took one of the e-bike systems he sells for Bosch, stuffed his saddlebags with pre-charged batteries, and spent four days riding the 330 miles from Irvine to Las Vegas, most of it via the old Route 66. The trip was beautiful and easy, he boasted to Interbike attendees: “If everyone knew how cool this was, they’d do it all the time.” 

For its 2018 show this week, Interbike moved to Reno — nearly 600 miles from Sarmiento’s home. But doubling the distance didn’t stop him from riding again. This time he invited a handful of professional cyclist friends, and a couple of journalists, to document the five-day journey last week. I was intrigued, and agreed to join what he later called the Fellowship of the E-bike. 

The only problem was I couldn’t spare the whole week — this was during Apple’s all-important iPhone launch. So we made a plan to meet at Mono Lake on the east edge of Yosemite National Park, halfway through Sarmiento’s ride. Leaving from the San Francisco Bay Area, I would take the train and bus to the western side of Yosemite Valley. Sarmiento arranged for me to test a ten-speed Gazelle Cityzen, (retail price: $2,999) and mailed four charged batteries. 

All I had to do was find my way through America’s oldest and most beautiful national park with an assist from the latest in biking technology, then join the Fellowship on the other side. What could possibly go wrong? 

What went wrong 

I’m what you might call an aspirational cyclist. I enjoy the activity; I’m also intimidated by it. Living atop the Bay Area’s biggest hill means I can’t simply head out to the flatlands for a joyride — at least, not without anticipating a heart-thumping half-hour of intense sweat and breath loss on the way back. 

So the concept of e-bikes has always appealed, especially the power assist on the uphill. I’ve awaited their arrival into the mainstream with the eagerness of an electric car fan looking forward to the day the roads are filled with Teslas and Leafs and Bolts

The wait for this future is maddening — especially in 2018, when Trump’s tariffs on components from China have left the e-bike industry reeling

E-biking can leave you feeling like Lance Armstrong — cheating included.

This is why I jumped at Sarmiento’s offer. Here was a chance to experience the future of cycling, one that could appeal to beginners and pros alike. If the batteries were portable and efficient enough, perhaps this could be the ultimate health-improving, environmentally-friendly 21st century vacation. 

Who wouldn’t prefer an open-air bike tour of the vast American landscape to a stuffy old car trip? Especially when an electric motor is doing most of the work — just enough for a pleasant workout, not enough to leave you wheezing. 

The e-bike system I was using has five power settings — from the battery-saving “Eco” all the way up to “Turbo” for those uphills. You still have to pedal, of course, but you choose how much of an assist the bike provides with each rotation. Maximum speed: 28 mph. 

At its best, I later realized, e-biking can leave you feeling like Lance Armstrong — cheating included. 

When my bike and I disembarked the bus at the Yosemite visitor’s center, however, I discovered that Google Maps had been cheating too. The 41-mile bike route it suggested to the Mono Lake meeting point involved taking a trail out of Yosemite Valley — a trail that, according to an officious park ranger, did not allow bikes. 

I’d have to double back and travel via Highway 120, she said. That meant a 75-mile journey, nearly double what I’d anticipated. 

But hey, no problem! The day was young and warm, the meeting was four hours away, and I had four fully-charged batteries. Each one had a theoretical range of up to 40 miles. I’d make the meeting with energy to spare. Besides, it’s called Big Oak Flat Road. Sounds easy! 

The blue line that wasn't, and the red line that was.

The blue line that wasn’t, and the red line that was.

Image: google

Some 7,000 ft of elevation later, I discovered that “Big Oak Flat” is merely the name of a hiking trail to which the road leads. “This road sucks, man,” said a sympathetic CalTrans worker as I pedaled hard on the Turbo setting — yet still barely registered nine miles an hour. The two-lane blacktop rose vertiginously over the valley in relentless switchbacks, and cyclists must share it with RVs and SUVs whose cranky drivers were eager to head home. 

Oh yes, and the road presented several long rock-walled tunnels with no illumination inside. My Gazelle’s dinky automatic light was no comfort in the vast inky blackness. I tried to breathe and just keep pedaling, ignoring the sudden panicked sensation of floating in space, and also trusting that those headlights in the distance were not coming straight at me.

That horror was barely behind me when the first battery died and my Camelbak ran out. Not knowing what else to do, I kept pedaling my hundred-pound, suddenly non-electric bike. After two more punishing, dehydrating uphill miles, I stopped again and tried jamming the battery into its slot without the clunky plastic cover on. My screen returned, the range mileage now reading a satisfying “30.” Success! 

But I wasn’t out of the Yosemite woods yet. Shorn of its cover, the battery was exposed to the air, which was increasingly becoming thin and chilly. As anyone who has pulled out their smartphone on a winter’s day knows, lithium-ion batteries deplete way faster in the cold. My range dropped to 20, then 10, then 5, much faster than the miles I was actually making. 

Talk about range anxiety. Some three hours and another 3,000 ft of elevation later, I’d burned through three and a half of my four batteries. A freezing headwind had picked up, slowing me even on the downhills. More and more uphills kept rising around every curve, oblivious to my outraged protest. 

My legs began to cramp. There was no water stop in sight — and perhaps more importantly, still no cellphone service. Occasionally I’d receive a worried text from Sarmiento, but the brief single-bar signal was too weak to let me reply.

Reaching Tulomne Meadows as the sun plummeted towards the horizon, I found the first faucet in 50 miles. Water never tasted sweeter. Then another long uphill depleted my final half-battery, even though I had been pedaling almost entirely in Eco mode by then. 

My bike was officially out of juice, as was I. Half-seriously, I considered bunking down in the  meadow for the night. Bears and freezing temperatures be damned. Then, to my eternal gratitude, a kind-hearted Swiss couple in an RV offered me and my bike a ride to their campsite, which happened to be at the top of the 120’s final hill. 

From there I coasted at 30 miles an hour down a road that dropped 6,000 ft of altitude to Mono Lake at 30 miles an hour. Which was terrifying, as the headwinds had now become wobble-inducing crosswinds. I noted a distinct lack of guardrails, and the sides of the road fell away into I-dared-not-look. 

At the lake, I finally had cellphone service again. I phoned a relieved Sarmiento, who had just called 911. He’d been tracking my progress on his iPhone via Find My Friends, which was showing me stuck in the same place for hours. The dispatcher had insisted there was no way anyone could ride this stretch of the 120 (also apparently known and dreaded as the Tioga Pass) in one day, much less a casual cyclist. 

Score one for e-biking. 

I also learned that the e-bike Fellowship had experienced its own problems. The headwinds had been so brutal on the first day out of Irvine, the only other writer on the trip had dropped out. (I won’t mention the name of the reporter’s outlet, but it rhymes with Puffington Host.) Luckily, the reporter had hired a car instead, with which Sarmiento was able to pick me and my dead bike up and take me to our hotel for the night. 

I waited in the Epic Cafe in the lakeside town of Lee Vining, and had the best goddamn beer and the finest goddamn swordfish steak in the whole history of the goddamn universe. 

Hell on an e-bike. Heaven on a plate.

Hell on an e-bike. Heaven on a plate.

Image: chris taylor

On the second day…

The Fellowship’s ride the next day was its longest yet, longer than my Yosemite death march — some 120 miles from Bridgeport, California to Lake Tahoe, California via Nevada Highways 395 and 50. 

But because it was relatively level — and warm enough to sustain battery life — the day was the polar opposite of my Yosemite ride. Sarmiento and I coasted up and down gentle chaparral hills. We kept pace with hawks as we wound past soaring cliffs and roaring riverbeds. 

And somewhere, I could have sworn, someone was playing the theme from The Magnificent Seven

A cattle-filled panorama on Route 395.

A cattle-filled panorama on Route 395.

Image: chris taylor

I was also grateful that Sarmiento was taking it slowly. The other two remaining members of the Fellowship (a German Bosch employee and a Southern California e-bike shop owner) were both pro racers. They started half an hour later, but caught up to us at the California-Nevada border. We didn’t see them again until Tahoe.  

To make his task more difficult, Sarmiento was effectively riding two bikes. For every battery I burned through, he was burning through two. His electric Tern GSD (which stands for Get Shit Done) was towing an electric mountain bike he planned to ride in the second annual Boogaloo, a pre-Interbike race at Tahoe that Bosch had sponsored. 

That made the total weight of his ride more than 400 pounds. Which pressed down on the GSD’s 20-inch back wheel so much that any obstacle Sarmiento ran over was a potential puncture hazard. Which in turn meant he got three flats. 

The second time it happened, Sarmiento’s inner tube was punctured. It looked like we were stuck once more under a baking sun, with no cellphone reception to call our impromptu support car. 

Then Sarmiento had a MacGyver-like brainwave — he slashed the back tire of his mountain bike, plucked out the tube, origami’d it down to a 20-inch diameter, and popped it into the broken wheel. 

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Our final obstacle of the day was Highway 50 from Carson City to Lake Tahoe. It was the longest climb of the entire 600-mile journey, and much like Tioga Pass it teased you repeatedly with the promise that somewhere close, perhaps just around the next bend, was the summit and the final, blissful downhill. 

By the time we rolled into King’s Beach, Tahoe, my thighs were practically screaming. My butt — because not even e-bike seats seem to be designed for people with butts — had gone completely numb. Riding an e-bike may be like an easy spin class, but even doing an easy spin class for six or seven hours will wear you down. (Several days later, I discovered I’d shed a full 3 percent of body fat.)

But for nearly all of the day, I noticed, there was one other physical effect: I couldn’t stop smiling. 

There they were, these people rushing past in their glass-and-metal boxes, so keen to get from A to B. They could be me on any other day. Their scowls spoke of the mental prison of driving, the way windows divorce you from nature and the speed is never enough: with all this technology, why can’t we just be at B immediately

On an e-bike, you notice everything. If the gradient isn’t too steep, you’re doing a solid 20 mph — not always that much slower than the cars — but you have time to look around you. Hours melt away with the hypnotic rhythm of the pedals. I’m a huge Spotify fiend and a fan of music on long rides, but with all the wild and varied sights, sounds and smells of the American west surrounding me, I didn’t once think of pulling out my headphones. 

Bicycle race

The next day Sarmiento competed in the Boogaloo on a borrowed mountain bike. Even with a fresh inner tube, the one he’d towed 600 miles had failed to work. Still, he had a blast, and regretted nothing. “I chose to make an adventure of it,” he said. 

The day after that, he rolled down the final hill from Tahoe to Reno for Interbike to collect some well-deserved kudos. He plans to do it again this year, with an even larger Fellowship. 

We may not have nearly enough biking infrastructure on the roads of America for family e-bike vacations just yet. Dedicated bike lanes across the country would be a start; gas stations with dedicated chargers and swappable batteries would be better. 

And long-distance e-bike mapping may still leave something to be desired: Google should check its route recommendations against reality. Long term, it or some other smart mapping company should consider creating an algorithm that will tell you how long your bike battery will last, given the altitude and temperature on your route. 

But for all the insanity of the Yosemite portion of my journey, I couldn’t wait to get back on the road and to plaster across my face another unshakeable smile. 

Rather than take another road trip in an oil-powered box, I choose to make an adventure of it.  

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Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding are doing a Wham! inspired Christmas movie together

Golding and Clarke are going to channel  Wham! in their upcoming Christmas project
Golding and Clarke are going to channel  Wham! in their upcoming Christmas project
Image: getty

Emilia Clarke is ready to embark on a new epic story centred around the destructive forces of fire and ice — and Christmas. 

The Game of Thrones star is going to be acting along side Henry Golding of Crazy Rich Asians in the upcoming Paul Feig movie Last Christmas. And yes, the movie is actually inspired by the 1984 Wham! song.

Our guess is that Clarke is the soul of ice that starts a fire in the heart of Golding, a man under cover. 

The casting was confirmed by Golding on Twitter, and he seems just as excited as we are. 

Last Christmas is written by British actor Emma Thompson with co-writer Bryony Kimmings, who confirmed to Radio Times that the movie is based on the Wham! Christmas hit — and all-round excellent song — written by George Michael. 

Other than that, all that’s really known about the movie is that it is a holiday romance set in London.

We’re excited to see who’s giving their heart to whom and whether they’ll give it away the very next day. 

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This solar system AR toy proves that you don't need to be an astronaut to explore space

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The solar system, but here on Earth.
The solar system, but here on Earth.
Image: AstroReality

Becoming an astronaut is tough. First, you need a degree in engineering, math, or science, and have at least three years of field experience. Second, you have to pass an incredibly demanding physical examination. 

And even if you do get selected, you have to undergo training which involves squeezing yourself into tiny simulators and gaining fluency in Russian. Oh, and once you finally get to go on a deep-space mission, you also have to trust the universe not to let you end up like Matt Damon in The Martian. (We know, that was fiction — but still.)

Just because it’s almost impossible to get into a space program, doesn’t mean you can’t explore the solar system. The Solar System Mini Set offers a unique celestial experience, and you can play with it in the comfort of your home (you can even eat space cheese if you want).

Check it out:

[embedded content]

Engineered using 3D printing technology, the 3 cm planet models are optimized to work with augmented reality technology so you can see each one’s character up close. When you pair the planets with the app, you can inspect them in amazing detail, complete with features like atmospheres, moons, and rings. It works in real time, too. The mini replica can be light or dark depending on the time you explore as it mirrors how the actual planet rotates into daylight.

You may not ever travel to space, but you can at least pretend with the Solar System Mini Set. Regularly $179, you can get it on sale for $129 — a savings of 27%.

Image: AstroReality

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Is your inbox a mess? The Mailstrom app can help — and it's on sale.

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Don't let an avalanche of emails get you down.
Don’t let an avalanche of emails get you down.
Image: pexels

Managing your email account hasn’t gotten any easier in recent years, especially now that spam mailing lists have nearly become self-aware and all your personal and work messages have had roughly two decades to pile up. Luckily, Mailstrom is an app that can help you sort through thousands of emails instantly, bringing your Inbox back down to a reasonable size and keeping it that way.

Mailstrom is a mail management app that uses settings you define to sift through every message you’ve ever received and keep your organized. 

You can set Mailstrom to automatically block specific senders or even subjects from your Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook accounts to keep unwanted junk from ever passing in front of your eyes, and you can use its intuitive one-click Unsubscribe feature to instantly rid yourself of mailing lists you’re no longer interested in or never signed up for in the first place. Best of all, Mailstrom never keeps your password, so your privacy is never at risk.

Normally, a lifetime subscription to Mailstrom sells for $999.75, but right now Mashable readers can jump on a 93% markdown and get one for just $59.99 by clicking on the button below.

Image: Pexels

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Volcanic explosions shut down this national park. It’s about to reopen — without any lava.

A collapsed road inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in August 2018.
A collapsed road inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in August 2018.
Image: Janice Wei/AP/REX/Shutterstock

For the last decade, a cauldron stewed inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. 

A giant lake of churning lava, over 500 feet across and hundreds of feet deep, drew visitors from around the planet to the lake’s eerie red glow, visible at night as the sun set beyond Hawaii’s Big Island. Just in April, the burgeoning lava lake overflowed its banks and spilled onto the floor of the volcano’s summit.

But four months later, the scorching lake is gone. Following an onslaught of volcanic quaking and explosions this summer, it drained, completely. 

“For the past 10 years we’ve been spoiled. You could walk 20 yards and see the largest lava lake on the planet,” Ben Hayes, the park’s Chief of Interpretation and Education, said in an interview. “Instead, there’s a massive, colossal hole.”

The famous national park shuttered in May after violent quakes, falling boulders, and explosions of ash from the crater rendered the area exceedingly dangerous. It’s the longest the park has been closed in its 102-year-long history, said Hayes. 

Now, on September 22, the park is set to reopen

The draining lava lake in May 2018.

The draining lava lake in May 2018.

Image: usgs

The explosions have stopped. But it will be a vastly different place. A land famous for orange molten rock will be dry. 

“There’s not going to be any lava,” Bobby Camara, who spent three decades working as a ranger at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and has since retired nearby, said in an interview. 

All the noticeable quakes have stopped, too. It’s as if Hawaii’s youngest volcano, Kilauea, has gone to sleep.

“Nothing. Nothing. There is nothing — everything stopped,” said Camara.

Still, Hayes is expecting some 10,000 visitors on September 22, double the daily average, and continued heavy visitation after that. The steaming, volcanically-ravaged park is an island destination, and for good reason. 

Yet without lava, the park’s programming, like its ranger talks and presentations, will have to focus on the recent dramatic alteration of the land. After all, it’s not just the lava lake that’s gone. The greater Halema‘uma‘u Crater at the volcano’s summit — which once held the lava lake — has collapsed down by some 1,300 feet. 

“It’s like you’re looking into the Grand Canyon now,” said Hayes. 

“The amount of change is unprecedented in the 102 years there’s been a national park,” he added. “We’ve had 80,000 earthquakes over the last four months.”

A return of lava?

The lava isn’t just gone from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It’s also stopped flowing about 24 miles east, where for three months, Fissure 8, the site of Hawaii’s newest volcanic cone, intensely gushed lava before cooling off in early August.

A lava river from Fissure 8 flowing to the ocean.

A lava river from Fissure 8 flowing to the ocean.

Image: usgs

This could be a simple pause. Or it could be something greater. It could be the end to an immensely active period in Kilauea’s life, wherein both the lava lake vanished and the volcano’s summit collapsed.

“None of us dreamt that we’d see anything like this in our lives,” said Camara, who has seen quite a bit in his day, including Kilauea coming alive with fountaining lava in the early 1980s. 

But what comes next is unknown. 

“It’s too soon to tell whether this is a pause or an end to the recent phase of activity,” Ingrid Johanson a research geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said over email.

The lava lake in 2012 inside Halema‘uma‘u Crater.

The lava lake in 2012 inside Halema‘uma‘u Crater.

Image: usgs

It’s hard to say because the goings on inside Kilauea’s plumbing system — the underground labyrinths and channels that carry the lava — can only be known through indirect means, like measuring how the ground swells, or sinks.

What is known quite well, however, is that for the three dramatic months spanning May through early August, immense amounts of lava flowed from Kilauea’s summit area, precisely where the lava lake was once located, to the area around Fissure 8.

As for the halt of flowing lava, one possibility, said Johanson, is that the lava reservoir beneath the park may have lost so much lava, it simply “depressurized,” a bit like an air mattress deflating. In this case, there’s just not presently enough pressure to force any more lava out. 

Early morning incandescent glow from the lava lake in 2009.

Early morning incandescent glow from the lava lake in 2009.

Image: usgs

Or, there could be an obstruction, like a collapsed mass of rock, blocking the flow of lava underground.

Either way, Kilauea’s summit area in the park has the next hand to play, and Johanson is watching to see what happens next. 

Remembering the violence

When the park reopens on September 22, Camara hopes people can appreciate what happened there. The natural violence was extreme. 

The Earth rumbled, shook, collapsed, and blew masses of lava and ominous clouds of ash into the sky. 

“It was so overwhelming and stupefying that I believe it requires a different level of respect by everyone,” Camara said.

Park geologists assess earthquake damage along a trail.

Park geologists assess earthquake damage along a trail.

Image: nps

The quaking in the park was so sustained, and ultimately damaging, that much of the park will still remain closed even when some parts reopen.

“In some cases the trails are gone,” said Hayes. 

Of 150 miles of trail, the park has only been able to safely inspect about 29 miles. 

One of the two major park overlooks, outside the Jagger Museum, is off-limits — to everyone. Structural engineers and geomorphologists (who assess movement of the landscape) found that the hundreds of feet of rock that once stabilized the area had collapsed away, into the crater below.

“That’s all gone,” said Hayes.

In the end, however, Hayes recognizes that our present experience in Kilauea is fleeting. These changes may be dramatic for the park, and those seeking to glimpse red-hot flowing rock oozing from the Earth, or brewing in a lake.

Quakes wreaked havoc on some park roads.

Quakes wreaked havoc on some park roads.

Image: J. Michael Johnson/NPS

But in the long term, this is normal, expected volcano behavior. 

“Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a wild place and Kilauea is constantly being shaped by uncontrollable natural forces,” said Hayes. “This is routine — and it will continue.”

Although much of the park is closed, there’s still plenty of volcanically-devastated terrain to see. The main visitor center will be open. You can walk to an overlook of the heavily-altered summit area, or drive through the lava-blanketed land along Chain of Craters Road. Visitors can also get out on the trails not imperiled by falling boulders.

But come night, the dark world of the park is no longer lit aflame by a molten cauldron. The orange-red incandescent brilliance is gone, vanished deep into the Earth, whence it came.

“Now the glow is absent,” said Camara. “There’s nothing there.”

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Leaks suggest Samsung is launching phones with 3 or even 4 rear cameras

Only two rear cameras? Pfft.
Only two rear cameras? Pfft.
Image: Lili Sams/Mashable

Samsung appears to be joining the more-than-two-rear-cameras-on-a-smartphone game

Dutch site GalaxyClub.nl posted a purportedly leaked image of the company’s upcoming A7 smartphone, which has a triple rear camera. 

Besides the actual leaked photo of the device, the outlet also posted a series of quite convincing press renders, which show the phone in black and blue. On the front is a pretty basic, notch-less screen, which isn’t a surprise given the phone’s alleged, mid-range specs: an Exynos 7885 chip and 4GB of RAM. 

Apparently, there’s no dual selfie camera on the front, only a single lens. Count all the cameras up, and it sort-of corresponds to the “4X Fun” tagline that accompanied Samsung’s invitation to an Oct. 11 Galaxy-themed event. 

But GalaxyClub.nl claims the A7 will not be the only or even the main star of that event. And this opens the door for an even wilder prediction: A quad-rear-camera Galaxy A9 Star Pro smartphone. 

This one comes via SamsungMobile.News, which claims to be in the possession of a photo of said device. 

It’s a bit less plausible as the outlet says it’s “not allowed” to post the photo yet. But it claims the four cameras will be positioned vertically, with the fingerprint sensor in the middle. The phone should be available in black, blue gradient and pink gradient colors. There will be a dedicated Bixby button, and (rejoice) a 3.5mm headphone jack. The price: $580. 

A vertical, quadruple rear camera sounds a bit much given the company never ventured beyond a dual rear camera, but then again, Samsung probably wouldn’t be hosting an entire event just to launch one mid-range phone. Some (or all) of this might be just fantasy, or it may be entirely real; I guess we’ll find out on October 11. 

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PlayStation Classic is Sony's new throwback games console

The PlayStation Classic is going to be mighty popular.
The PlayStation Classic is going to be mighty popular.
Image: sony

As we all witnessed with the NES Classic Edition hype, people can’t get enough of throwback miniature consoles.

Sony is jumping in on the action with its PlayStation Classic, set to be released on Dec. 3 at the very-attractive price of $99.99 (A$149.99).

The console will come preloaded with 20 classic titles, including Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3, and Wild Arms

The Classic is approximately 45 percent smaller than the original PlayStation, but Sony has emulated the same layout and grey colourway you’ve grown to know and love.

Each unit has a HDMI cable to connect to the console to your TV, a USB cable, and two controllers for multiplayer, but the AC adapter is sold separately.

Image: sony

It goes without saying that the PlayStation Classic is hotly tipped to be a popular stocking stuffer this year. 

Hopefully, Sony might be able to avoid the supply problems Nintendo faced when it came to NES Classic Edition demand, resulting in vastly inflated eBay prices. Hopefully. 

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