Tag Archives: Gadget News

Still stalking Bigfoot 50 years after the beast went big

On Friday, Bigfoot believers will descend on a remote part of Northern California to celebrate a shaky, minute-long film from 1967 that not only introduced Sasquatch to the wider world, but transformed the cryptid into a pop culture phenomenon that still captivates us half a century later.


The famous “look-back” frame of an alleged female bigfoot from the 1967 film produced by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin.


Look up the Bigfoot Wikipedia entry, and you’ll see a familiar and famous frame from the footage that Roger Patterson, aspiring filmmaker and ne’er-do-well from Yakima, Washington, claims to have shot in the wilderness outside Willow Creek, Calif., 50 years ago on Oct. 20. In the clip, a tall, broad-shouldered, long-limbed, fur-covered creature walking on two legs through a clearing glances directly at the camera for a moment, as if to briefly satisfy the relentless paparazzi before disappearing into the woods.

“It’s a fascinating piece of film,” says Jeff Meldrum, an Idaho State University anatomy and anthropology professor. He’s also the most prominent scientist performing serious Sasquatch research, though not without raising the ire of colleagues. “It’s grossly underrated and offhandedly dismissed, naively dismissed by the skeptics.”

But the naysayers didn’t stop Patterson’s film and the larger Bigfoot phenomenon from cementing themselves in a culture enthralled with the idea there are other intelligent species, on our planet and beyond, still waiting to be discovered. In the months after it was shot, the film appeared on all the major talk and late-night shows of the day, from Joey Bishop and Merv Griffin to “Late Night with Johnny Carson.”

The bashful biped has become a cottage industry that’s only grown with the rise of the internet and cable TV: conferences, expeditions, books, movies, theme park rides and TV shows in the Sasquatch search genre are just as common as fuzzy images purporting to show a glimpse of the Yeti’s American cousin.

But the modern ground zero for the legend remains the dense forests of Humboldt County, where Bigfoot enthusiast Patterson and his friend Bob Gimlin rode into the wilderness on horseback in search of the beast. That’s where this weekend’s anniversary conference and celebration takes place, featuring Meldrum and Sasquatch celebrities like Cliff Barackman from Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot.”

“Sightings are still reported to this day,” says Steven Streufert, owner of the used bookstore Bigfoot Books in Willow Creek. (A new sighting was reported on the other side of the state near Fresno just this week.)

Streufert is also one of the founders of the Bluff Creek Project, an effort by a handful of volunteers who’ve set up as many as 20 HD cameras in and around the site where Patterson and Gimlin captured their footage. Today, the project’s primary goal is simple: “to determine if Bigfoot is real.” But it grew out of the more basic task that initially brought the group together, which was to rediscover the site that had been “lost” due to the regrowth of foliage (the stream bed had been stripped bare by a flood in 1964).

Using GPS coordinates, the group identified surviving trees and other landmarks from the footage that led to the rediscovery of the film site in 2011. Since then, it’s been under near constant surveillance, despite the fact that the spot is closed to visitors from October through June.

“Our cameras are running up there 24/7, year round,” Streufert said. “If Bigfoot is out there, we should be able to find one on our HD video one of these years.”

So far, the cameras have captured cool footage of cougars, bears and the rare Humboldt marten, but no Bigfoot. The lack of any new Sasquatch sightings doesn’t bother the team.  

“I think back to the first Antarctic explorers and how their expeditions were inspired by tales of the hollow earth… that absurd idea gave inspiration and drive for those early explorers to race to the South Pole,” Jamie Wayne, the lead on the Bluff Creek Project said. “For me, Bigfoot is kinda like that, it’s very inspiring to get me out there and keep installing trail cameras.”

Bigfoot or big fake?

Skeptics have an easy time explaining the lack of Sasquatch appearances at the site of the most famous Sasquatch appearance of all time. Scientists rejected Patterson and Gimlin’s film as fraudulent within a few weeks of their trip into the wilderness.

Staff at the American Museum of Natural History and the New York Zoological Society were unimpressed when Patterson brought his film to New York City in late 1967 with the intention of having it validated.


Professor Meldrum holds a cast of a footprint believed to be left by Bigfoot, or at least by a big foot.

Jeff Meldrum

When the big-city scientists failed to give their stamp of approval to Patterson’s footage, both Life and Look Magazines backed out of conditional deals to publish major features on the find. An account of the story was eventually published in Argosy Magazine in 1968, and the BBC later paid to use the footage in a Bigfoot docudrama. Along with several other media appearances, it was enough to capture the public’s imagination and the legend has continued to grow ever since, even without the endorsement of the scientific community.

In 2004, writer Greg Long published “The Making of Bigfoot: The Inside Story” based on interviews with acquaintances of Patterson, (including Bob Heironimus, who claims to be the man in the suit). Long makes a substantial but controversial case that the famous film is a hoax, and like the story of Sasquatch itself, no physical proof such as the suit itself, or receipts or damning outtakes is presented.

Where many others have seen a hoax pulled off by a cameraman of dubious reputation and a man in an elaborate suit, Meldrum still sees humanity’s long lost (or rather, well hidden) relative.

“As an anatomist I can go from the head down to the toes (in the film) and just point out features that you would not see in a costume,” he told me. “The anatomy is appropriate and functional for a large bipedal hominid… Yet in 1967 the anthropologists wouldn’t have been able to accurately portray that, let alone a rodeo rider from Yakima who couldn’t keep a job for more than eight months at a time. He didn’t have the wherewithal to conceive of such a thing, let alone pull off the fakery involved if it were a hoax.”

Meldrum argues the creature shown in the film displays features consistent with what science has come to understand about hominin evolution in the decades since the film was shot.

Don’t stop believing

Still, half a century after the brief clip ignited a firestorm of debate, questions about its authenticity remain.

Science historian Brian Regal says that may continue to be the case because of the poor quality of the film.

“The low resolution of the original grainy 16mm footage renders it practically impossible to analyze in great detail,” he writes in his book “Searching for Sasquatch.” “We may never know whether Patterson meant it to be this way, or that it was just the dumb luck of an individual unskilled and unsophisticated in the ways of filmmaking.”

Doubters be damned, Meldrum and members of the Bluff Creek Project will be in Willow Creek presenting their latest research at the 50th Anniversary conference and celebration, They’ll be joined by a Bigfoot authority who became a believer 50 years ago — Gimlin, the surviving member of the expedition that produced the famous film. He’ll talk about what he saw that day and what’s happened since.

As for the Sasquatch herself (Gimlin and others maintain the creature nicknamed “Patty” was female and had clearly visible breasts), Gimlin told the CBC on Wednesday he believes she’s still alive because he’s heard from another “Bigfooter” who “communicated with her son.”

No word yet on if anyone managed to capture that communication on camera, though.

Technically Literate: Original works of short fiction with unique perspectives on tech, exclusively on CNET.

Crowd ControlA crowdsourced science fiction novel written by CNET readers.

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/bigfoot-sasquatch-patterson-gimlin-film-1967-sightings-2017/#ftag=CAD590a51e

Klipsch offers up premium powered floorstanders, the R-28PFs


The Kipsch Reference R-28PF


Until recently you had two options when buying a new sound system — a fully fledged stereo or AV system with separate amplification and masses of wires or a convenient but sonically-limited sound bar. Klipsch’s R-15PM powered speaker tried — pretty successfully — to offer the convenience of a sound bar and the sonic advantages of stereo speakers. Klipsch has followed this system up with two new models including a high-end floorstander and a newer, cheaper option.

Klipsch Reference R-28PF ($1,199) powered floorstanding speakers and R-14PM ($399) powered monitors feature a plethora of inputs including a phono pre-amp, a 24-bit/192kHz digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and Bluetooth. If you want more oomph, they both include a subwoofer output.

The Klipsch Reference R-28PF offers

  • Dual 8-inch “copper spun IMG woofers”
  • 1-inch linear travel suspension (LTS) in its own Tractrix horn. 
  • Bi-amplified 260W amplifier 

Meanwhile the Klipsch Reference R-14PM  features

  • Single 4-inch copper spun magnetically shielded IMG woofer
  • 3/4″ LTS tweeters in Tractrix horns
  • Low-noise 80W amplifier 

The Klipsch R-14PM


Both speakers feature the “love it or hate it” brushed vinyl finish of other Klipsch speakers. Further, we are awaiting pricing and availability on the two models for the UK and Australia. You can expect somewhere in the realm of £1,200/AU$2,400 and £400/AU$800 respectively, though.

The Klipschs seem to offer a lot for the money as most competitors either cost a lot more (such as the KEF LS50) or have fewer consumer-friendly features (such as the pro-level Adam Audio F5).

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/klipsch-offers-up-powered-floorstanding-speakers/#ftag=CAD590a51e

Verizon will fix your smartphone’s screen for $29

Verizon’s Total Mobile Protection Plan will run you $11 per month for a smartphone, $9 per month for a basic phone or tablet, and you can pay $33 per month to insure multiple devices. If you crack your screen, says Verizon, you may be able to get it repaired that same day, provided you live in “select markets” and have “certain devices.” The company also says a technician can meet you at your home, office, school or wherever you are while traveling.

Verizon isn’t the only carrier with this sort of plan. ATT has three plans for $9, $12 or $35 a month each of which includes potential same-day cracked screen repair, though the deductible here is $90. Sprint‘s Total Equipment Protection plan has five tiers (starting at $9 per month), which also includes cracked screen repairs for a variable rate, $50 for Tier one customers and $100 for Tier two folks. Apple Care Plus gets you an iPhone screen repair for $30, which is now a $170 service if you didn’t purchase Apple’s extended warranty plan. Complicated? Yes. Useful? Probably.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/19/verizon-fix-smartphone-screen-29-dollars/

Google Pixel 2 XL screen fix may be on the way


The Pixel 2 XL’s OLED screen isn’t as vibrant as it should be.

Josh Miller/CNET

The Google Pixel 2 XL is garnering great reviews, except for one big issue: its screen.

The phone’s OLED screen suffers from muted colors and a blue shift, but Google is considering a fix.

 According to a statement sent to 9to5Google, the company acknowledged the rampant complaints, stating that it will “continue to pay close attention to people’s responses to Pixel. 

In the meantime, Google’s leaning towards a solution that will add “more display color options through software if that makes the product better.”

We’ve reached out to Google for comment but have yet to hear back.

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/google-pixel-2-xl-screen-fix/#ftag=CAD590a51e

McCain Honest Ads Act looks to regulate online political ads


Sen. John McCain co-sponsors The Honest Ads Act, which aims to create more transparency with online and social media ads.

Sen. John McCain

Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) is teaming with Democratic Sens. Mark Warner (Va.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) to introduce the Honest Ads Act that would increase disclosure requirements for online political ads in response to last year’s election interference. 

According to a preview of the act seen by Axios, it would amend the current Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 to include paid internet and digital advertisements as electioneering communication. 

It would also require online platforms, such as Facebook, “to make reasonable efforts to ensure that foreign individuals and entities are not purchasing political advertisements in order to influence the American electorate.” 

“We stand with lawmakers in their effort to achieve transparency in political advertising. We have already announced the steps Facebook will take on our own and we look forward to continuing the conversation with lawmakers as we work toward a legislative solution,” said Erin Egan, Facebook VP for US Public Policy in a statement to CNET. 

Sen. McCain did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/mccain-honest-ads-act-looks-to-regulate-online-political-ads/#ftag=CAD590a51e

The best phones under $250

What to expect

Before we get into the best phones at this price, let’s talk expectations. First off, many of the devices we’re discussing come unlocked, so it’s imperative that you check to see if they’ll work on your carrier before you buy one. Many unlocked handsets are only GSM-compatible, so they’ll support only ATT, T-Mobile and their subsidiaries. Sprint and Verizon customers should be especially careful when making their selections.

At this price, you’re not going to get high-end features like face-recognition cameras, curved screens or high-res, edge-to-edge displays. Most of these phones use older chipsets and often run Android 6 Marshmallow instead of the newer Android 7 Nougat (which itself is no longer the latest OS).

For daily use, you won’t really notice a difference in speed with these phones, but don’t expect much if you’re using these for heavy-duty gaming or intensive multitasking. If that’s going to be a problem, you’re better off getting a flagship phone on an equipment installment plan (EIP) instead.

Flagships on a budget

You can still get a premium phone for cheap if you have the time and patience to monitor deal listings. Some carriers and websites slash prices for older (but still perfectly respectable) phones in anticipation of new launches or when approaching the holiday season. If you can wait till Black Friday, you’ll probably find plenty of deals bringing down the cost of usually expensive phones. In 2016, T-Mobile offered the iPhone 7, the Galaxy S7 and the LG V20 for free to people who traded in eligible smartphones, while Huawei’s Honor 8 dropped that year from $400 to $300. Right now, you can even find an iPhone SE ($399 at launch) for less than $250, or the older (but still good) HTC One M8 for $160. A Google search for “iPhone SE” returns options as low as $150 at Target for an ATT version in space gray with 16GB of storage.

Affordable by design

If you weren’t fast enough to snag one of those deals, you still have decent options. Bright, crisp screens with full HD (1080p) displays are common at this price, so don’t fall for cheap phones with piddly 720p panels. Sub-$250 phones run the gamut when it comes to size, too, so you can pick from a big 5.5-inch screen down to a more compact 4.7-inch option. Many budget handsets also pack fingerprint sensors, long-lasting batteries, and dual cameras for special effects in portrait photography (although these tend to pale in comparison with iPhones and Samsung phones when it comes to quality).

The best budget phones

Motorola Moto G5S Plus

One of the best offerings is the $230 Moto G5S Plus. It’s the successor to the Moto G5 Plus, which was already our favorite budget phone. The new handset features a 5.5-inch 1080p display, dual rear 13-megapixel cameras and a generous 3,000mAh battery, all wrapped in a body that feels more expensive than it actually is. The phone uses an octa-core Snapdragon 625 chip that can go up to 2.0GHz, which is powerful enough for the average person and quite good for the price. It also runs the relatively new Android 7.1 Nougat and works on all four major US carriers. The main downside is the absence of NFC support, so if you like using your phone for contactless payments, this isn’t going to work for you.

Nokia 6

In that case, you can consider the $230 Nokia 6, which has NFC and runs the same version of Android as the G5S Plus. It features dual front-facing speakers with a “smart amplifier” and Dolby audio enhancements for louder sound. The Nokia 6 sports a single 16-megapixel camera on its rear, though, and uses a slower Snapdragon 430 processor. Also, it’s unfortunately stuck in the past with its micro-USB charging port. That’s a minor complaint, but when the rest of the world has already moved on to USB-C, it feels like an antiquated feature. Still, the Nokia 6 offers newish components for a reasonable price, and if you don’t mind getting Amazon ads on your lock screen, the Prime exclusive version of the phone is even cheaper, at $180.

Alcatel Idol 5s

Also available as a Prime exclusive is the Alcatel Idol 5s ($200 with ads; $280 without), which has a vibrant 5.2-inch, a 1080p screen and a USB-C port and runs Android 7. Like the Nokia 6, the Idol 5s has only a single 12-megapixel rear camera, but it uses the faster Snapdragon 625 processor (the same chip used in the Moto G5S Plus). Alcatel’s handset has a smaller battery than the Nokia 6 and the G5S Plus, though, so you might need to charge it more often. The Idol 5s looks and feels like a lot of Alcatel’s previous handsets, with a rounded silhouette, chrome edges and a glass rear. Despite a slightly dated design, the Idol line is known for its good quality and affordable prices. Plus, this is one of the few budget phones to support all four major US carriers while packing a well-rounded feature set.

ZTE Blade V8 Pro

The ZTE Blade V8 Pro is a compelling option. It sports a 5.5-inch 1080p display and dual 13-megapixel rear cameras that enable Portrait mode for bokeh on your photos, although you won’t get iPhone-quality images here. The Blade V8 Pro isn’t as adept at detecting outlines when applying the blur, but in ideal conditions it pulls off the effect well. I liked the phone’s sturdy build when I tried it out in January, but it’s not as pretty as the other options on this list. The V8 Pro is equipped with the same Snapdragon 625 chip as the Moto G5S Plus and the Idol 5s, but it runs the older Android 6 Marshmallow instead. It does support NFC, though, making it one of the few on this list to do so and a good option for people who don’t want to give up Android Pay.


Huawei Honor 6x

There are several other options in this space, but we’ll cap off this roundup with two quick mentions. Huawei’s Honor 6x is very similar to the ZTE Blade V8 Pro: It has dual cameras, runs Android 6.0 and features a 5.5-inch full HD display. But it doesn’t support NFC and it costs $20 more. Also, Huawei’s EMUI Android skin makes the software look cartoonish, despite adding useful fingerprint sensor shortcuts. The main reason to spend more for this phone over the Blade V8 Pro would be the Honor’s more elegant metal body.

ZTE Blade ZMax

Finally, those who want a big screen at this price should consider ZTE’s Blade line of affordable large phones. In particular, the Blade ZMax sports a 6-inch full HD display, dual cameras and a large 4,080mAh battery for $129. It’s also impressively slim for such a large phone and was easy to use with one hand during a brief demo. Some caveats: It uses a relatively slower octa-core Snapdragon 435 CPU and is available only via MetroPCS for now, but we expect it to be sold unlocked soon as well.

Final thoughts

With all the improvements trickling down from high-end flagships to today’s budget phones, shopping for a sub-$250 device no longer feels like digging through a bargain bin of iPhone rejects. They won’t be the fastest or have the best cameras, but the options in this category are respectable handsets with relatively modern features. If you have a bit more cash to spare, you’ll find even better phones in the sub-$500 category that are nearly on par with flagships in terms of performance. We’ll be putting together those recommendations soon, so stay tuned.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/19/best-phone-under-250/