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Girl says she was fired over exposing how Panera makes its mac and cheese on TikTok

The girl who created a viral TikTok video exposing how Panera makes its mac and cheese is going viral againthis time for tweeting that she lost her job because of it.

I lost my job for this video, Twitter user @BriiRamirezz, who goes by @briannaraelenee on TikTok, responded to @UberFacts tweet of the clip.

The short video shows BriiRamirezz walking into the Panera kitchen over to a box of frozen bags of mac and cheese, putting one into boiling water to defrost it, then cutting it open and dumping it out into a bowl. It ends with her flashing a thumbs up to indicate to viewers the cooking process is all done.

BriiRamirezz revealed that Panera found out about the clip after it went viral online and ended up on the local news in her hometown.

Twitter users responded with support and praise for BriiRamirezz, but also noted that they were not at all surprised by how Panera prepares its mac and cheese.

Whats yo cash app queen? one supporter questioned.

Mum shielded kids from dad’s body with tea towels

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Media captionMother’s plea: ‘Find the killer who ruined our lives’

Two young children who witnessed their father being stabbed to death had tea towels put over their heads to shield them from his body.

Christopher Nicol, 27, was attacked inside his flat in Maple Road, Greenock, on 26 September.

Det Ch Insp Martin Fergus said Mr Nicol’s partner covered her children’s faces to get them out of the flat after the “frenzied and brutal attack”.

Mr Nicol’s mother said he ” worshipped his children” and was a brilliant dad.

The five-year-old boy and six-year-old girl have been receiving professional support.

Speaking at a police press conference, an emotional Karen Nicol said he “would have done anything for his children”.

Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Christopher Nicol was killed in front of his two young children

“I am devastated by the tragic death of my much-loved son Christopher,” she said. “Our lives have been changed forever. He was a brilliant dad to his two young children who he worshipped and would have done anything for.

“The man responsible has taken one life and ruined the lives of our family. Please, please if you have any information that will help the officers, please call them and Crimestoppers as soon as possible, please.”

Police believe the killer knew who he was targeting, and wrongly thought there was a large amount of cash in the flat. However, Det Ch Insp Fergus said the victim may not have known his killer.

The officer said that just before the attack at 21:05, Mr Nicol had been colouring-in with his five-year-old son in the living room while his six-year-old daughter was helping his partner in the kitchen.

‘Frenzied and brutal attack’

The killer entered the flat after barging past Mr Nicol’s girlfriend when she answered the door.

“This incident is absolutely horrendous,” Det Ch Insp Fergus said. “This has happened during a family scene, within a house in Greenock, a scene that is replicated throughout Britain on any given evening.

“An individual has forced his way in and effectively stabbed Christopher Nicol to death in the presence of his two young children. I don’t think I need to expand any further on how horrific this is.”

Image caption Det Ch Insp Martin Fergus said that what had taken place was “unimaginable”

He said that after the attacker fled the scene, Mr Nicol’s partner, in an effort to shield the children from what had taken place, put tea towels over their heads to get them out of the flat.

“I don’t think people need to imagine, after such a frenzied and brutal attack, what state the father would have been in and to have tea towels placed over five and six-year-olds heads to shield them from that speaks volumes as to how traumatic that was,” the officer said.

“It’s unimaginable what must have taken place. For a five and six-year-old to have witnessed this speaks for itself.”

Det Ch Insp Fergus said police had received a good response after speaking to people in Greenock, but said he firmly believed there was still crucial information that had not been given to officers.

“We are still needing as much information from the public as we can possibly gather in an effort to piece together the events of that evening,” he said.

“I do believe the answer lies within the community.”

Image caption Police believe the killer wrongly thought there was a large sum of cash in the property

He said even the smallest piece of information could be “critical”.

“On the back of Karen’s emotional plea I don’t think I really need to expand any more on the devastating nature of this horrific crime,” he added.

The killer has been described as white, aged 20-30, about 5ft 9in tall, with a slim build. He had a local accent, and an unkempt, reddish, brown beard and moustache. Officers say he also had a “drawn-in” face and decaying teeth, with some visibly missing.

He was wearing a black beanie hat with a logo, possibly Timberland, a black top and black jeans or bottoms.

Anyone with information has been urged to contact Police Scotland via their non-emergency line.

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Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-50014093

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Put a nice shelf up to free up counter space in my small kitchen

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Verizon lights up 5G in (parts of) NYC

Verizon this week announced that it has finally begun to flip the switch on its 5G network in parts of New York City, along with Panama City and Boise. That brings the wireless carrier’s (disclosure: also TechCrunch’s parent) totally number up to 13 cities with a taste of the next-gen network.

Here in NYC, 5G will touch three of the five boroughs (my home base of Queens, sadly, is not among them). Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn are, not surprisingly, the first focus of coverage. Here’s the specific breakdown per VZW:

  • Manhattan: Midtown, Financial District, Harlem, East Harlem, Hell’s Kitchen and Washington Heights
  • Brooklyn: Downtown Brooklyn
  • The Bronx: Pelham Bay, Fordham Heights and Hunt’s Point
  • Around Landmarks: Bryant Park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Madison Square Garden, Trinity Park (Brooklyn), the Lincoln Tunnel (Manhattan Entrance), Javits Center on 11th Ave between 36th and 37th and the Theatre District on Broadway between 49th and 52nd

The network is similarly limited to specific neighborhoods in Panama City and Boise, as well. AT&T rolled out its own limited 5G coverage in the Big Apple back in August. I’ve been carrying around a 5G AT&T phone for a few days now and it brings to mind the early days of LTE. The 5G marker pops up on the phone for a fleeting bit in the most surprising places.

Until rollout is wider, however, it’s probably not worth the extra money for most folks. Verizon says it plans to have the service in (parts of) 30 cities by end of year.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/09/26/verizon-lights-up-5g-in-parts-of-nyc/

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Here Are 21 Pics Of Beyond Perfect Concrete Work To Satisfy Any Perfectionist

It could be a bit odd to admit sometimes but most of us find various things really satisfying. And luckily, the Internet is this happy place where you can find anything and everything, regardless of what your idea of perfection is. Whether it’s neatly planted trees casting shadows in a picturesque manner, 10 same-looking cute little doggos, a row of cups placed on the kitchen counter with amazing precision – you name it and the Internet will provide. But this time, it was a man working for a concrete company who decided to please the eyes of all the perfectionists of the online world. Scroll down to check out their work!


Concrete is the material to thank for most of our architecture miracles. It can be used in amounts that are both impressive and a tiny bit frightening. For example, the world’s record for the largest concrete pour in a single project belongs to the Three Gorges Dam in Hubei Province, China and it required 16 million cubic meters of concrete over 17 years of construction.



Concrete is sometimes also called Portland cement concrete for its visual resemblance to Portland stone and is made of coarse and fluid ingredients in order to harden not instantly but over time. This allows for it to be worked into the most precise designs.



This is one of the most frequently used building materials and was first used as long ago as 700 BC. Ancient Nabataeans used concrete-like materials for house construction, flooring and to make underground water containers. Some of these structures can be still found today.



There is also concrete work found in Greece which dates back to 1400-1200 BC. At that time, people discovered they could add volcanic ash to it to improve the mix and allow it to set underwater.



It was also extensively used by the Romans and it’s one of the reasons why so many of their structures survived to this day.




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Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/satisfying-concrete-work/

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35 Times People Couldnt Believe Their Luck In Thrift Stores (New Pics)

We just love thrift shops here at Bored Panda. Since we discovered the awesome Facebook group ”Weird Secondhand Finds That Just Need To Be Shared we have been sharing and sharing, and, as well as the new finds below, you can see previous posts here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Oh, and here too! Now that’s a lot of thrift store finds!

So scroll down below to see yet more weird, wonderful and funny thrift store finds and let’s say it all together: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”


Griswald Definitely Approves Of This Garage Sale Find

We know that thrifting is great fun and can be really interesting too, but what are the wider benefits of shopping second hand? With thanks to Unwrinkling, let’s explore some more positive aspects of heading to your local thrift store!

Environmental impact: Re-wearing clothes reduces waste and pollution. Every garment purchased second-hand means one less new one produced, which is important because regardless of material, the production of clothing is costly to the environment. Producing synthetic fibers like polyester requires lots of energy, as well as crude oil like petroleum; byproducts include toxic gases and chemicals. Sadly, pesticides used on most plants mean that even cotton and linen garments have a negative impact. Transportation-related pollution also decreases when clothing is re-used, as new clothes are much more likely to travel long distances before being sold than are their second-hand counterparts.


For Years I Would Look At Craigslist Hoping Someone Would Post Some Of My Grandma’s Things

Not sure how weird, but more like the universe righting a wrong. My grandmother inherited 2 beautiful bronze statues from her cousin(who was also one of my most favorite people in the world). I always loved the statues and would sit and stare at them as a child when I would go to my grandma’s house. As I got older, I only grew to appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship that went into making the statues even more. On one visit with my grandma she asked me if there was anything I wanted when she passed on. Not wanting to even think about her passing away, I was hesitant but she brought up the statues cause she knew how much I loved them. I agreed that yes I would love to have them. Through the years I became more distant from my family, except my grandmother. When my grandma died, my family made it very clear that my partner (and support system) was not welcome to come with me. Not wanting to make things uncomfortable, especially for myself, I decided not to go at all and held my own little ceremony for my grandma. Well, I asked about a will but was told there was not one, which I don’t believe and was told that one family sold off all of my grandma’s things to pay off his debts. So no one got anything, again, not sure that I believe all of that. But anyway, for years I would look at craigslist hoping someone would post some of my grandma’s things. Of course I wanted the statues but would have taken anything at that point. 5 years went by and I was giving up hope. I was laying in bed, it was around midnight, and I decided to look on facebook marketplace. I put the location to where she lived and typed in “Bronze statues” and there they were!!! My girls popped up at an antique store. I cried quietly and could hardly sleep. The next morning I got in touch with the store owner and well….Here they are. I sometimes still can’t believe they are in my home. I love them so much!!!!


Stumbled Upon This Used Book Arch A Local Couple Kept In Their Barn Outside Pittsburgh A Few Months Ago And Begged My Boyfriend To Let Me Buy It For Our Wedding

Social impact: Thrift stores make it easier to know where your money is going. To track the money you handed over for that brand-new Old Navy polo, you would need to trace the brand back to the corporation behind it, the assembly factories used by the corporation, their textile providers, and those textile providers’ raw materials suppliers—at a bare minimum.

In evaluating all these steps (and the many others involved in the production chain), there are numerous considerations to keep in mind: Was your farmer using environmentally responsible methods? Was your seamstress of legal working age, paid a fair wage to work in a safe factory? Is the corporation behind it the kind you want to support, or one whose views you wouldn’t like to see perpetuated?

In short, it can be a bit of a nightmare to track the impact of your seemingly trivial purchase. However, with most thrift stores, this burden is greatly reduced. For better or worse, the original purchaser’s money has already supported the whole chain of production that led to your second-hand Old Navy polo. Since most thrift stores in Europe, North America, and Australia rely heavily (if not exclusively) on donated clothing, this means you only have to question one link in the whole chain—the store right in front of you.

Many thrift stores also directly support charity. It’s no coincidence that in the UK and Ireland, the term “thrift store” doesn’t even exist—they call them “charity shops” instead. In America, the best-known thrift stores are Goodwill and The Salvation Army, organizations which provide services to the unemployed, homeless, and disabled. In Europe, NGOs like Oxfam commonly use thrift stores to raise funds for humanitarian aid. By shopping at these kinds of establishments, your clothing purchase can go from supporting Third World child labor to supporting Third World children’s’ education.


Found The Oddest But Most Perfect Leash/Lead For Our Little Dachshund Today In The Local Charity Shop


This Sign

Personal impact: Thrifted clothing offers more room for uniqueness. While it’s not the end of the world to see some other guy sporting the same sweater as you, most of us would choose to avoid such incidents, if possible. Since thrifted clothing infrequently comes in multiples, you’re much less likely to bump into someone wearing the exact same thing. In addition, there’s bound to be lots of clothes that were produced decades ago, or on the other side of the country, or in some other circumstance that makes them different than what the average shopper is buying off the sale rack at the mall.

Thrift shopping allows for more creativity. Thrift stores are notorious for the wacky and bizarre items they often contain. (Remember Macklemore’s footed Batman jammies?) While these items can be downright eyesores, many just need a person with vision to re-interpret them in a contemporary way. For some, this may mean simply adding the right accessories; others may completely reconstruct their garment with shears and a trusty Singer. Either way, thrifting can allow one to do more than mindlessly mimic what one sees on the display-window mannequin, by providing more varied and interesting materials as inspiration.

Sources: Unwrinkling, The Ecologist


One Of My Favorite Finds! Found In An Antique Store In Florida. Unopened Bottle Of Poison. You Can’t Tell Here But The Pills Are All Coffin Shaped… The Store Had An Opened Bottle As Well


Found This Gem And Couldn’t Believe My Eyes. Paid $10 For It, Thought It Was Just His Hammer Till I Saw Those Clasps


Teeny Tiny Fully Functional Knife With Mother Of Pearl Handle

I got this year’s ago at a garage sale and it lives on a shelf next to my bed. You know for protection against leprechauns, gnomes and fairies


My 1960 Lee West Alpha Egg Chair Sitting In All Its Magnificent Glory In Our Home! It Has Speakers Inside That Still Work Perfectly And Came With Original Ottoman And Side Table!


I Found Some Interesting Things At An Amazing Estate Sale Recently. This One Was The Best ! Only $5,000


It’s A Murder Mystery Writers Desk Teapot I Found At Value Village For $10, And I Just Found The Kitchen Sink Teapot At Goodwill For $5 I Think 2 Makes It A Collection, Right?


Found This Very Happy Piggy Today! I Couldn’t Resist, She Now Lives With Me


I Found The Perfect Item To Celebrate My Divorce From The Husband From Hell In A Few Weeks. Smells Like A Good Night Sleep Knowing I’m Not Being Cheated On


This Is The Tiniest Set Of Nesting Dolls I’ve Ever Seen. Brother And I Were Crying In Laughter As They Kept Getting Smaller And Smaller


Yup- It’s Coming Home!


My Friend Left Me This In My New Bathroom! 4.5 Stars!!


This Came Home With Me. It’s Brilliant And Well Crafted


Found This Guy On The Side Of The Road. The Elderly Man Getting Rid Of Him Told Me It’s Because His Wife Can’t Stand Looking At It Anymore And It’s Crack In It’s Back

He was pretty upset over it and mentioned he had this guy for over 35+ years. Currently working on restoring him! Yesterday was dedicated to cleaning, gluing and filling. Today once the filler is done and it stops raining, I’ll be sanding and sealing. Thinking about gifting this guy back to the elderly man


Meet “Bubo”! A 1960’s Am Radio From Japan. I Found Him Looking A Little Worse For The Wear And Tagged “As Is” At A Local Antique Mall In Cashmere, Washington


Yeah, I’m Impulsive.. But.. I’ve Wanted One For Everrrr! And.. My Birthday Is Coming Up… And.. He Was Only $220! Their Loss


Meet Marvin. He Is So Handsome


Just Brought Home This Bad Boy From Goodwill. I Absolutely Cannot Wait To Use It At Work On Tuesday


Went Through A Box I Inherited Of My Grandparents Knick-Knacks And Came Across This Beautiful Gem. Tiny Little Ceramic Kittys Drinking And Playing In Spilled Milk


I Talked My Husband Into Helping Me Bring This Home From Work. He Totally Indulges My Whimsy

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So This Is A Nifty Little Something I Got At A Thrift Store In South Carolina Several Years Ago For $4.25. It Is A Little Over 11 Inches Tall, Is Made Of Gold And Silver, And Weighs Approximately 1.25 Pounds


 When I found it, it was covered with what seemed like cigar smoke residue, and it looked like it was made of brass. It is called a “bridal cup” or in german, a “jugendfraubecher”. They are popularly used in japan england, and throughout europe and germany where they originated in 1450 a.d. in nuremberg.  

  The bride and groom can toast their marriage with it and drink from the same cup at the same time without spilling a drop as the legend of the original prescribes. The legend says that the cup was made by an illiterate gold and silversmith who had won the maiden Brunnehilde’s heart. Her father said he could only have her hand if he could make a cup that both of them could drink from at the same time without spilling a drop. The figurine’s skirt is a cup, and she holds a cup on a swivel over her head. The king was won over and his daughter married the commoner and they all lived happily ever after. 

   As it turns out, when I looked more closely at this piece, I realized it was not a production piece with industrial markings, but rather was a one of a kind hand-made piece using incredibly primitive methods. Turns out this piece may actually be the original nuremberg jugendfraubecher of 1450 a.d.  

   The German foreign ministry checked logs of lost and stolen artifacts from the war and we did not find an owner looking for it. Then they had two experts examine photos to see if it was possibly the original and a cultural treasure.  

   The experts agreed that there was no picture or detailed knowledge of the original to ever be sure, but that this one fit the description in every way except that it did not have pomegranates decorating it. Turns out the pomegranates run down both sides of it and they had examined picture from the front and back.  

   I will be taking it to nuremberg germany where I am confident the local chamber of commerce will assist with finding it’s proper place in culture. I am sure it is insanely valuable, but it is not something a person can really own. If it turns out to be a worthy example and possibly the original, it belongs in nuremberg Germany for the world to enjoy. Their local museum has a silver jugendfraubecher from around 1600 when they started to become popularized. 1600 is also when the rest of the industry developed the technology to reliably copy the original.

  This bridal cup was made by fusing curved plates with molten gold and silver, and then the excess was shaved away and polished. The thickness of the sides of the skirt cup varies a great deal, and it looks like parts of the engraving on some of the plates got too hot and softened during the assembly. Up close you can see the handwork and surface engraving around the silver inlays. The figurine in the middle was cast as a single piece and the face and hands of silver were fused onto it.  

  I suspect that the figurine is either gold, or was cast in silver and then hot dipped in gold. A scratch on the back does not show any silver, but perhaps gold dipping or some other crude plating method might have put it on thick.

   The latticework in the hands that holds the cup aloft are obviously solid cast gold, because you can see where somebody cut away some pieces, possibly desperate to raise money to flee germany before the war. I still have a gut feeling this piece left Germany in the 1930’s or early 1940’s.  

   The sides of the cup are a mystery too, because it would only make sense to use silver plates and fuse them with molten gold because gold has a lower melting point. After that the assembled cup could have been gilded or plated crudely. The thing is that the boundaries between the silver and gold parts on the outside of the cup look like they bleed into each other in places, and at others it looks like a sloppy gilding or plating around the silver accents. One fellow who examined it said he thinks the silver was laid into the accents of the curved plates when they were cast in gold, and then the maker cleaned up the worst areas that had bled into the gold by plating over them.  

   Ultimately the gold and silver content do not mean much because it is the crafting of the piece that is miraculous whether mostly silver or mostly gold. If it is from 1450 a.d., then I am told that the gold used is possibly king solomons gold brought back from the crusades. 

   If we can date it with metallurgy or some other technology, that would be our best likelihood of authenticating it as the likely original. It is entirely possible this is an amazing homage to the original from a more recent time, but was apparently never used as a fake, because we would have heard about that in the news of the day, and it would be an insane ammount of money to spend making it and no cashing in.

  As for an estimated value, it might just be an amazing old jugendfraubecher of unknown origin worth several to a hundred thousand bucks or so depending on the age and other factors. If it is found to be the likely original, then it has no price because it was never mine but to be a custodian. If it turns out to be something to sell, I am giving half to the thrift store where I got it, and the other half goes to my favorite charity. That is, after they have reimbursed me for the $4.25 I paid for it.

   At the very least I have been enjoying a great adventure in finding out what it is.


This Speaks To Me


Original Bob Ross Gold Pan. Paid $10 Because It Was Half Off

Apparently he painted them when he was stationed in Alaska as a member of the air force. This was an awesome find because my husband was a crew chief in the air force 20 years and I am an artist so it’s a win win


Wilhelmina Slater (Aka Willie) Loves Her Chair. I Think She Needs A Couch


Maybe Not Weird, But Just Happened To Find This T-Shirt At A Local Thrift Store The Same Day I Was Canning Green Beans! And Only Paid .10 Cents!


Fell In Love With This Cute Chair Today. Totally Nothing Weird About It. Until The First Layer Of Fabric Came Off


I Finay Found Something To Share


Seen Yesterday At Hartville Flea Market In Ohio. I Did Not Buy It, But Had A Good Laugh!



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Dad Wrote A Porno stars quizzed by real ‘Belinda’

A hundred and eighty million downloads, a world tour, an international TV series.

It’s not bad for three friends who started recording their podcast around a kitchen table with cheap microphones.

This week sees the launch of series five of the award-winning podcast My Dad Wrote A Porno, which will be going on another international tour next year.

If you’ve not even started then you definitely need a quick lesson: Jamie Morton’s dad is a retired builder and, in his retirement, he’s taken to writing pornography. He’s got a pen name – Rocky Flintstone.

Of course, knowing your dad is writing pornography is a bit traumatic but Jamie’s embracing it and, in every episode, he reads chapters of Belinda Blinked to friends Alice Levine and James Cooper.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption James Cooper, Alice Levine and Jamie Morton started the podcast in 2015

Another thing you need to know – Belinda Blumenthal is Worldwide Sales Director at Steeles Pots and Pans. Yes. This is pornography rooted in the international cookware market.

And if you know all this already, you’ll also know how series four ended. It took the dramatic side of Rocky’s writing to new levels.

The new series “picks up mere seconds after we left it in book four and the first chapter is called The Aftermath,” James explains.

“There is a lot really packed into the first chapter. And you realise that Belinda Blinked has become half spy novel, half erotica. This storyline is going to continue.”

It’s pretty clear that all three are surprised that they’ve got to a fifth series. Jamie reveals that his dad is already writing books eight, nine and 10.

If you want evidence of a phenomenon then the world tour seems to confirm it, with fans turning up around the world in My Dad Wrote A Porno cosplay.

“People don’t do things by halves when they come to the show,” Alice says. “We’ve had people dressed up as the trellis from book one.

“We’ve had people being locations, even – the pub or buildings from the show.”

Radio 1 Newsbeat got 20 year-old superfan Maddy to put some questions to Alice, James and Jamie.

But she’s not just any super fan. Like Belinda, Maddy also has a job in the pots and pans industry.

Maddy: We actually make pans in the UK and I’m in charge of selling them. I haven’t heard Belinda sell a single one. And as a seller of pans, I’m quite curious on how her business is doing so well, having so many employees without managing to sell any pans?

Jamie: I don’t think she’s signed any deals properly, has she? She gives them away a lot.

James: I think the company she works for has actually done a lot worse since employing her and things are really going downhill. It seemed quite obvious to us how she could turn things around. Stop giving them away. Stop giving away 20,000 at the O2 and then you might start making some money.

Image copyright Netherton Foundry
Image caption Maddy’s in the pots and pans industry

Maddy: Working for Netherton Foundry, I’ve travelled all over Britain and to Germany and France to sell pans – and I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s actually turned on by pans. How has she found so many people so turned on by cookware?

Alice: I feel like Maddy is taking this literally – I’m not sure it’s the touch of the pan and the stainless steel getting her going. I think, for Belinda, it’s the business she is turned on by – the entrepreneur. She’s turned on by suppliers, she’s turned on by distributors, it’s anything in the chain.

Jamie: She’s very attracted to the passion that people have for their job.

Alice: She used to work in crockery and probably felt the same way about people working in crockery. She worked in swimwear too.

Jamie: She’s done so much and diversified her career.

Alice: Like a great international sales director, you are wedded to the product that you sell and she can find excitement in that.

Image copyright Netherton Foundry
Image caption Maddy in action at the foundry

Maddy: My next question is purely practical. I’m questioning the safety of the workers where Belinda works. Our offices and workshops in Shropshire aren’t very safe places to go about these activities because of the machines needed to make pans. Do these workplace activities follow health and safety regulations?

James: I love all the shoutouts Maddy is getting for her company here. Steele’s Pots and Pans’ office where Belinda works is the main office. The factory is in Scotland, so the office is quite a safe place.

Alice: They have a leather room designed purely for sexual antics so, in a way, they’ve taken it out of the work environment and have located a space for it.

James: There’s a lot of security in the building. Key cards have been given a lot of air time – every employee has one. Nobody is getting in who’s not an employee.

Jamie: My dad is very security conscious and he’s very health and safety conscious too. He cares about these things. He’s thought about it.

Alice: He cares about it more than the sex really. I’d say health and safety has been given more of an airing than erotica.

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.

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Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-49649467

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Ruling expected in women’s pension age case

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media caption“t makes me angry. It makes me very emotional”

Campaigners will learn later whether the government’s handling of the rise in women’s state pension age discriminated against them.

The retirement age for women rose from 60 to 65, in line with men, and will go up to 66 by 2020, and to 67 by 2028.

Women born in the 1950s claim the rise is unfair because they were not given enough time to make adjustments to cope with years without a state pension.

They won the right to a judicial review, with judges ruling later.

Up until 2010, women received their state pensions at the age of 60 but that has been rising since then. While most campaigners support pension age equality, they say the government was discriminatory in the way it has introduced it.

In June, the judicial review in the High Court heard a claim from two members of the Backto60 group who said that not receiving their state pension at the age of 60 had affected them disproportionately.

They argue that many women took time out of work to care for children and were paid less than men, could not save as much in occupational pensions, so the change had hit them harder.

It is estimated that 3.8 million women were in this position, with some potentially losing out on more than £40,000.

The Backto60 group is seeking repayment of all the pensions people born in the 1950s would have received if they had been able to retire earlier. It argues that the speed of the change and what it calls the lack of warnings has disadvantaged millions of women.

However, the government has estimated that a reversal of the pension changes in the Acts of Parliament of 1995 and 2011 would cost £215bn over the period 2010-11 to 2025-26.

About £181bn of that would be money potentially owed to women and the rest to men.

It has said the move to make the state pension age the same for men and women was a “long-overdue” move towards gender equality, and had been clearly communicated to those affected.

The losing side of Thursday’s judgement is likely to appeal, meaning more court cases in a long-running dispute over the effect of the pension changes on 1950s women.

Campaigners have lobbied MPs, and call regular public protests to raise awareness of their situation.

The Backto60 group has taken this legal action to demand “the return of their earned dues”. The separate Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) group is calling for a “bridging” pension to cover the gap from the age of 60 until their state pension is paid.

‘I could have paid my bills’

Image caption Krissy Abbott, with her dog Jazz, says she is angry about the situation

Krissy Abbott was born in April 1954 so had expected to be receiving her state pension well before now. Instead, it will come in November.

Mrs Abbott, from Essex, said the loss of her husband, Alan, as well as difficulties with benefits applications meant she was depending on the charity of others last year.

“The only thing I had was the food bank and some very good neighbours of mine. They knew how much I thought of [my dog] Jazz. They brought round tins of dog food for him,” she said.

“I had a gas cooker in the kitchen and Jazz and I used to spend our time in the kitchen keeping warm. You just survive.”

She said life would have been different had she been in receipt of her state pension.

“You could have had the heating, you could have had hot food, a shower, a bath, a simple thing like having a kettle and making a hot drink. It would have made such a difference. I could have paid my bills,” she said.

“It makes me angry. It makes me very emotional.”

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49907727

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Kitchen floor install time lapse

Read more: https://imgur.com/gallery/91GeyDk

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Epsteins Pal Jean-Luc Brunel Quietly Sells Off His Infamous Modeling Biz

Modeling mogul Jean-Luc Brunel is quietly selling off his MC2 agency in Miami, The Daily Beast has learnedwhile authorities in France search for him as part of their investigation into his friend, the millionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The 74-year-old talent scout has long been accused of supplying underage girls to Epstein and of drugging and raping models himself. Brunel denied both of these charges.

Brunel reportedly vanished after Epsteins jailhouse suicide, and French prosecutors want to speak to him about Epstein's abuse of minors abroad. Last week, cops searched his Parisian home and the offices of Karin Models, the agency Brunel led before launching MC2 Model Management. Brunel created the agency MC2 in 2005, reportedly with $1 million from Epstein, who regularly housed Brunel and MC2 models at his Manhattan apartments, according to the testimony of a former MC2 bookkeeper.

But while Brunel has dodged the press in recent years, hes allegedly already sold MC2s assets in New York and is currently in a deal to sell MC2 in Miami. The French agent also helped to create at least two new boutique modeling firms: The Identity Models in New York and 1 Mother Agency in Kyiv, Ukraine, former employees say.

The New York office of MC2, according to one MC2 lawyer, sold its assets to a new firm called The Identity Models in 2017.

And MC2s Miami location is allegedly in the process of transferring its assets to The Source Models, an agency run by MC2 executives Jeff Fuller and Petra Pedraza. A representative for The Source said MC2's location in Miami will shut down.

Staff at MC2s third location in Tel Aviv did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Brunel has claimed MC2 lost business over his ties to Epstein. In 2015, he filed a lawsuit in Florida state court against the financier, claiming, MC2 was worth millions of dollars; now, due to the illegal actions of Epstein, MC2 is almost worthless.

The fashion industry veteran also denied any connection to Epstein's sexual pyramid schemewhich involved enlisting underage girls for massages in his Palm Beach and New York mansions. Epstein would molest the girls or even rape them, and had some of his victims recruit even more minors for him to abuse.

But Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claims Epstein kept her as his sex slave, identified Brunel as a purveyor of minor girls. In a 2015 affidavit, Giuffre said Epstein groomed her for sex with his powerful friends including Brunel and Prince Andrew (who also denies the allegations).

Brunel would offer the girls modeling jobs. A lot of the girls came from poor countries or poor backgrounds, and he lured them in with a promise of making good money, Giuffre stated, adding that Brunel joined Epstein and gal pal Ghislaine Maxwell for orgies with children in locations including the U.S. Virgin Islands, New Mexico and Palm Beach.

Jeffrey Epstein has told me that he has slept with over 1,000 of Brunels girls, and everything that I have seen confirms this claim, Giuffre said.

Jeffrey Epstein has told me that he has slept with over 1,000 of Brunels girls, and everything that I have seen confirms this claim.
Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre

Sigrid McCawley, a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner who represents Giuffre and other Epstein accusers, told The Daily Beast that Brunel should be on authorities radar as a key participant in Epsteins child sex-trafficking ring.

We have to carefully look at the people who are around him and who are providing him with these females, and Jean-Luc Brunel was doing exactly that, McCawley said. He was using the ruse of a modeling agency to bring Epstein young victims.

Soon after Giuffres claims made news, Brunel issued his only public comment on the matter: I strongly deny having participated, neither directly nor indirectly, in the actions Mr. Jeffrey Epstein is being accused of. I strongly deny having committed any illicit act or any wrongdoing in the course of my work as a scouter or model agencies manager.

Still, Brunels bad publicity over Epstein may have led him to shutter the MC2 offices. At the same time, sources say, he helped in the creation of two other modeling agenciesthough his name does not appear on publicly available corporation records for either.

Multiple former MC2 employees and models told The Daily Beast that Brunel was considered, at least at the beginning, as the man who helped create The Identity.

According to its website, the agency was founded in 2017 with the concept of a creative boutique to work on and develop different profiles while creating individual identities for those represented.

The Identity is run by Mathias Pardo, a French-born talent scout who is listed as vice president of the company in New York state corporation records. (The identities of the president or any other executives of the Delaware-incorporated firm aren't publicly known.)

He was using the ruse of a modeling agency to bring Epstein young victims.
Sigrid McCawley, a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner

Pardo, who for years worked with Brunel as an MC2 agent, told The Daily Beast that he owns and founded The Identity in 2018. He denied Brunel played a role in founding the modeling firm. Mr. Brunel has absolutely nothing to do with The Identity, Pardo said in an email on Sept. 13. He did not return further messages.

Yet in 2017, one Identity model allegedly joined Pardo at New York's Mercer Kitchen for a meet-and-greet that included only one other person: Jean-Luc Brunel. According to the model's mother, Lea Assenmacher, the young woman showed both men her portfolio during the rendezvous at the chic Soho restaurant.

The model told her mother that Brunel was very polite and drank a lot of champagne, as they made small-talk about the fashion world. During their conversation, Assenmacher claimed, Brunel and Pardo indicated that MC2 would cease operations and The Identity would take its place. The girl signed a contract with The Identity soon after.

She felt Jean-Luc Brunel was the final arbiter" of whether she was signed, Assenmacher told The Daily Beast. Mathias was deferential to him.

Two former MC2 employees told The Daily Beast that initially, The Identity operated out of MC2s offices on West 14th Street. The only ones working for The Identity was Mathias and Jean-Luc Brunel, one ex-staffer said, and referring to Brunel, added that it seemed like, They just wanted to open another place without his name.

Serena, a second former employee who asked to withhold her last name, said, I was around for a lot of the logistical conversations about the conversion into The Identity. It mustve turned over a month or two after I left, if even. But the goal of The Identity was the younger faces would represent it while MC2 stayed the same, but I dont know if that happened.

The Identity shares the same attorney as MC2Ian Illych Martinez of Floridaand houses its models at the same East Village apartment once used by MC2.

Martinez also represents The Source Models and 1 Mother Agency, which Brunel allegedly founded in Kyiv, Ukraine, in 2014, former employees and models say.

The Identity and MC2 share models and at least one other talent agent in common: former MC2 hand Vinicius Freire.

And a review of The Identitys website shows that 20 of its 67 models are also currently signed with MC2 in Tel Aviv or Miami. At least 12 Identity models are also signed with 1 Mother Agency. (Some models have contracts with all three agencies.)

In an email, Martinez said Brunel is not an owner of The Identity. The Identity Models, Inc., entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement with MC2 Model Management, LLC. in 2017, Martinez wrote. The Identity Model, Inc.s sole shareholder and one of two officers, is someone other than Mr. Brunel.

According to the October 16, 2017, Minutes of Organizational Meeting, two individualsneither of whom were Mr. Brunelwere elected officers, the attorney continued. Any ownership allegations regarding Mr. Brunel or any other entity with his involvement is expressly denied and refuted by the corporate documents.

Other than the aforementioned, there is no further comment regarding this matter.

The goal of The Identity was the younger faces would represent it while MC2 stayed the same.

Martinez did not answer followup questions on Brunels involvement with The Identity, The Source Models and 1 Mother.

Meanwhile, Marcia Gomez, a spokeswoman for The Source Models, said the agency is owned by Pedraza and Fuller, who was Brunels longtime business partner at MC2. Indeed, the contact email listed on The Sources Instagram page is an Mc2models.com address.

Mr. Brunel is not involved and has no connection whatsoever to this organization, Gomez said in an email. Additionally, MC2 Miami will be ceasing operations.

Gomez said MC2 Miamis assets will be sold to The Source Models. (Fuller and Pedraza did not return messages seeking comment.)

Asked why Fullers wife, Hilary Altman, is the registered agent for the Ukrainian agency 1 Mother in Florida corporation filings, Gomez said, Recently, as an inducement for 1st right of refusal in the Miami modeling market, Jeffs wife agreed to be the manager for the domestic company and be a liaison for this business.

"Mr. Brunels involvement with 1 Mother was limited to providing a loan at its inception, Gomez added. Once the loan was satisfied (several years ago), that completed his involvement with 1 Mother.

Reached by The Daily Beast, one model signed with 1 Mother said she believed Brunel was the owner of the agency and that she saw him at the Kyiv office last spring.

Another model who left 1 Mother told The Daily Beast that Brunel was the owner and that "he came a few times to Ukraine to visit all models.

But Katya Talanova, CEO of the 1 Mother Agency, told The Daily Beast that she owns the firmnot Brunel. We had been working with MC2 Miami for some time, Talanova said in an email. They had a first right of refusal because of loan that we had (that was covered long time ago).

Asked about Brunel, Talanova said, Mr. Brunel has nothing to do with 1 Mother Agency. He is out of business and doesnt have any connections with us.

She declined to answer follow-up questions on the loan she referenced.

Vladimir Yudashkin, who says he co-founded 1 Mother with Brunel in 2014, said the agency was the Frenchman's brainchild. Jean-Luc approached me and we started to work together, Yudashkin told The Daily Beast.

He wanted models who worked for 1 Mother to think that they are booked to MC2 to represent them in New York because MC2 is the best choice for themnot because MC2 is financially related to 1 Mother and 1 Mother has no other choice to work with MC2, Yudashkin said.

When the time came to place the models in the U.S., Jean-Luc pushed to work exclusively with MC2," Yudashkin added, and potentially with The Identity in the future.

Brunel, according to Yudashkin, wanted to open a new agency in America.

He had told me that hes not happy how MC2 is doing and saw that the image was a problem and he wanted to open a new agency, Yudashkin said. He wanted to name it The Identity and Mathias was supposed to be the person who runs it.

Yudashkin said MC2 was supposed to be the agency for more commercial modeling jobs, while The Identity's goal was to become a high fashion agency.

In 2017, Yudashkin left 1 Mother Agency because he felt it was impossible to work with Brunel.

I was in the position to lie to models about MC2 and it was intolerable for me, he said.

When the time came to place the models in the U.S., Jean-Luc pushed to work exclusively with MC2, and potentially with The Identity in the future.
Vladimir Yudashkin, formerly of 1 Mother

In February, Ukranian model Natalia Kulakovskaya filed a lawsuit against 1 Mother and MC2, alleging that Mother breached its fiduciary duty by forcing her to work with MC2. The complaint, filed in Miami-Dade County, alleges Mother and MC2 share common control and/or ownership and that it was self-serving and profitable for Mother to work with Mothers affiliate.

Martinez filed a motion to bring the case to arbitration. Kulakovskayas lawyer, Nicolas Cuetara, said he will not comment on pending litigation.

The Ukrainian agency sued another model, Daria Khlystun, in November 2017, claiming that she breached her contract by failing to pay 1 Mother commission from her earnings with other agencies.

In her answer and counterclaim to 1 Mothers complaint, Khlystun denied violating her contract and instead claimed it wasnt valid because of duress/undue influence and fraud and/or misrepresentation by the agency, among other alleged transgressions.

Khlystun claims she suffered damages because 1 Mother Agency failed to provide financial support, visas for travel, and housingand didn't allow her to select the agency, or model manager, of her choosing.

She alleged 1 Mother abused its influence to force her to work with agencies that werent in her best interest," according to one November 2018 court filing.

One of those agencies was MC2, which she claims is "affiliated" with 1 Mother.

Khlystuns lawyer, Cuetara, filed a notice of service of a proposed settlement in February.

Martinez did not return messages seeking comment on the 1 Mother lawsuits.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/epstein-pal-jean-luc-brunel-linked-to-new-modeling-ventures-as-mc2-sells-off-assets

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30 Epic Restaurant And Bar Design Fails That Are So Bad, People Had To Shame Them Online

Most people are oblivious to their own mistakes, but they can spot someone else doing something wrong from a faraway distance. It’s the same with restaurants: if you’re the owner, you probably think your place is great, but if you’re a customer, then you’ll most likely notice everything that’s wrong with the place in a jiffy. And sometimes restaurants mess up so badly without realizing it that customers can’t help but snap a picture and upload it to the popular ‘Crappy Designs’ subreddit.

For your perusing pleasure, here are the worst of the worst, the crème de la crème of horribly bad restaurant designs. We hope you like design fails as much as we do, so please enjoy this list in its entirety, click on the upvote button next to fails that you think are worth it, and remember to share with your friends.

You can find more of Bored Panda’s captivating lists about crappy designs and design fails here, here, here, here, here, and here. And here’s one more. So make some popcorn (and save some for us!) because there are plenty of designs to look at and make fun of!

More info: Reddit


This Was Hanging In The Bathroom In The Restaurant I Ate At Tonight. Only In China…


Two Different Restaurants. No Affiliation. Located Just Up Ahead


I Love Eating At Restaurant Logo Here

Bored Panda had previously reached out to the ‘Crappy Design’ subreddit’s moderators to learn a bit more about the community.

“The original motivation for the subreddit was to point out crappy designs. Nowadays, most subscribers probably come here for entertainment,” the subreddit’s team told Bored Panda. “However, it is common to have meaningful discussion here on why or why not something is crappy design.”


Stopped In Wisconsin Today… And I’d Rather Not


This Restaurant In London (Waiters Love It)


Front Desk At Restaurant In Northern Virginia

The community’s moderators also said that “the subreddit was created 8 years ago. Currently, there are 1.7 million subscribers with over 2 million page views per month. It is very popular.” At the time of the interview, the community was indeed 1.7 million people strong; since then, however, it has grown to a whopping 1.8 million followers!


A Restaurant In Sicily That Just Ruined My Childhood


This Bowl My Friend’s Dinner Came In


This Painting Inside A Local “Fancy” Restaurant

The Balance writes that there are several things you can do to improve your restaurant’s interior layout and design. For example, when thinking of how many seats you want to squash into your restaurant, you should aim for a golden balance between profit and atmosphere.


The Wendy’s Restaurant In Beaver, Utah Got A New Sign


Seen In A Restaurant In Texas


Saw This At A Local Mexican Restaurant… I Think I’ll Wait

Furthermore, some tables are naturally considered to be ‘bad’ if they’re near the main entrance, the bathrooms or the kitchen; partitions, plants or even screens can help improve the situation.


Wall Painting, That Included Shutterstock Watermark. Took This Photo In Some Cafe In Vietnam


Anyone Want Some Thai Food?


Polish Restaurant – Three Cooks…

Cleanliness in restaurant bathrooms should be one of the top priorities, as should be good air conditioning and pleasant music to keep your customers comfortable. However, even these helpful tips might not be enough to hide serious design fails in some restaurants.


This Image In The Restaurant Will Haunt Me Forever


“Lets Just Make Our Plates Look Like They Haven’t Been Washed In 4 Years”


This Is The Logo For A “New York Style” Pizza Place In Ponce, Pr


This Sign For A New Mongolian Restaurant


French Restaurant Menu


The Stylization On This Carl’s Jr Makes It Look Like It Got A One Star Rating


This Sign Makes It Look Like Its Quoting A Fire Extinguisher


No, This Picture Isnt Blurry… The Menu Is

See Also on Bored Panda

One Of My Favorite Restaurants. I Hate To Put Them On Blast, But This Is Too Good Not To Share. The Restaurant Is Called Let’s Do Greek!”


A Bar I Go To Never Cleans The Dripped Candle Wax


All Plates At This Restaurant Have This Pattern That Resembles A Single Human Hair Stuck At The Edge


This Indian Restaurant Was In A Basement, But Wanted To Created The Sense That It Wasn’t. They Created An Entire Wall Of Fake Windows Looking Out Into Pictures Of A Parking Lot


This Really “Artsy” Mirror At A Fancy Restaurant


Bathroom Mirror At A Bar In Italy

Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/restaurant-design-fails/

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Facebook launches Portal TV, a $149 video chat set-top box

Facebook wants to take over your television with a clip-on camera for video calling, AR gaming and content co-watching. If you can get past the creepiness, the new Portal TV lets you hang out with friends on your home’s biggest screen. It’s a fresh product category that could give the social network a unique foothold in the living room, where, unlike on phones where it’s beholden to Apple and Google, Facebook owns the hardware and operating system.

Today Facebook unveiled a new line of Portal devices that bring to smaller smart screen form factors its auto-zooming AI camera, in-house voice assistant speaker, Alexa, apps like Spotify and newly added Amazon Prime Video, Messenger video chat and now end-to-end encrypted WhatsApp video calls.

The $149 Portal TV is the star of the show, turning most televisions with an HDMI connection into a video chat device. And if you video call between two Portal TVs, you can use the new Watch Together feature to co-view Facebook Watch videos simultaneously while chilling together over picture-in-picture. The Portal TV is a genius way for Facebook to make its hardware both cheaper yet more immersive by co-opting a screen you already own and have given a space in your life, thereby leapfrogging smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home.

There’s also the new pint-size 8-inch Portal Mini for just $129, which makes counter-top video chat exceedingly cheap. The 10-inch Portal that launched a year ago now has a sleeker, minimal bezel look with a price drop (from $199 to $179). Both look more like digital picture frames, which they are, and can be stood on their side or end for optimal full-screen chatting. Lastly, the giant 15.6-inch Portal+ swivel screen falls to $279 instead of $349, and you still get $50 off if you buy any two Portal devices.


“The TV has been a staple of living rooms around the world, but to date it’s been primarily about people who are physically interacting with the device,” Facebook’s VP of consumer hardware Andrew “Boz” Bosworth tells me at a press event inside a San Francisco Victorian house. “We see the opportunity for people to use their TVs not just to do that but also to interact with other people.”

The new Portals go on pre-sale today from Portal.facebook.com, Amazon and Best Buy in the U.S. and Canada, plus new markets like the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Italy and France (though the “Hey Portal” assistant only works in English). Portal and Portal Mini ship October 15th and Portal TV ships November 5th.


The whole Portal gang lack essential video apps like Netflix and HBO, and Boz claims he’s not trying to compete directly with Roku, Fire TV, etc. Instead, Facebook is trying to win where it’s strongest, on communication and video chat where rivals lack a scaled social network.

“You’re kind of more hanging out. It isn’t as transactional. It’s not as urgent as when you sacrifice your left arm to the cause,” explains Boz. Like how Fortnite created a way for people to just chill together while gaming remotely, Portal TV could do the same for watching television together, apart.

Battling the creepiness

The original Portal launched a year ago to favorable reviews, except for one sticking point: journalists all thought it was too sketchy to bring Facebook surveillance tech inside their homes. Whether the mainstream consumer feels the same way is still a mystery, as the company has refused to share sales numbers. Though Boz told me, “The engagement, the retention numbers are all really positive,” we haven’t seen developers like Netflix rush to bring their apps to the Portal platform.

To that end, privacy on Portal no longer feels clipped on like the old plastic removable camera covers. “We have to always do more work to grow the number of people who have that level of comfort, and bring that technology into their home,” says Boz. “We’ve done what we can in this latest generation of products, now with integrated camera covers that are hardware, indicator lights when the microphone is off and form factors that are less obtrusive and blend more into the background of the home.”


One major change stems from a scandal that spread across the tech sector, with Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook all being criticized for quietly sending voice clips to human reviewers to improve speech recognition in what felt like a privacy violation. “Part of the Portal out-of-box experience is going to be a splash screen on data storage and it will literally walk through how . . . when we hear ‘Hey Portal’ a voice recording and transcription is sent, it may be reviewed by humans, and people have the ability to opt out.”

Facebook will let users disable storage of Portal voice snippets

But if Portal is battling the perception of creepiness, why make human reviews the default? Boz defended the move from the perspective of accessibility. “We say, ‘oh they’re good enough,’ but for a lot of people that might have a mild speech impediment, a subtle accent, who might use different words because they’re from a different region, these assistants aren’t inclusive.” He claims more voice data reviewed by humans means better products for everyone, though I bet better sales for Facebook wouldn’t hurt.


Instead, Facebook is leaning on the evolution of the smart screen market in general to help its camera blend in. “The more value we can create, not just any one player but as an entire industry, that allows consumers to feel — ‘yeah, I both am comfortable with how the data is being used and why.’ ”

One reason Facebook is forging forward despite all the criticism about launching a “surveillance” device amidst its scandals: This is its shot to control its destiny, unlike on phones. Facebook has always been vulnerable to Apple and Google because its app lives in their app stores on their devices. “You don’t have a huge amount of influence over what the phone itself is or what the operating system provides. You’re kind of at the mercy of what those manufacturers or developers provide you,” Boz notes. With Portal, Facebook can ensure communication tech like cameras stay part of the smart home, even if they’re creepy now.

Hands-on with the new Portals

If you can get past Facebook’s toxic brand, the new Portals are quite pleasing. They’re remarkably polished products for a company just a year into selling consumer hardware. They all feel sturdy and elegant enough to place in your kitchen or living room.


The Portal and Portal Mini work just like last year’s models, but without the big speaker bezel they can be flipped on their side and look much more like picture frames while running Portal’s Smart Frame showing your Facebook, Instagram or camera roll photos.Portal

Portal TV’s flexible form factor is a clever innovation, first spotted as “Codename: Ripley” by Jane Manchun Wong and reported by Alex Heath for Cheddar a year ago. It has an integrated stand for placing the gadget on your TV console, but that stand also squeezes onto a front wing to let it clip onto both wide and extremely thin new flatscreen televisions. With just an HDMI connection it brings a 12.5 megapixel, 120-degree camera and 8-mic array to any tube. It also ships with a stubby remote control for basic browsing without having to shout across the room.

Portal TV includes an integrated smart speaker that can be used even when the TV is off or on a different input, and offers HDMI CEC for control through other remotes. The built-in camera cover gives users peace of mind and a switch conjures a red light to signal that all sensors are disabled. Overall, control responsiveness felt a tad sluggish, but passable.


Portal’s software is largely the same as before, with a few key improvements, the addition of WhatsApp and one big bonus feature for Portal TVs. The AI Smart Camera is the best part, automatically tracking multiple people to keep everyone in frame and zoomed-in as possible. Improved adaptive background modeling and human pose estimation lets it keep faces in view without facial recognition, and all video processing is done locally on the device. A sharper Spotlight feature lets you select one person, like a child running around the room, so you don’t miss the gymnastics routines.

The Portal app platform that features Spotify and Pandora is gaining Amazon’s suite of apps, starting with Prime Video while Ring doorbell and smart home controls are on the way. Beyond Messenger calls and AR Storytime, where you don characters’ AR masks as you read aloud a children’s book, there are new AR games like Cats Catching Donuts With Their Mouths. Designed for kids and casual players, the games had some trouble with motion tracking and felt too thin for more than a few seconds of play. But if Facebook gave Portal TV a real controller or bought a better AR games studio, it could dive deeper into gaming as a selling point.


WhatsApp is the top new feature for all the Portals. Though you can’t use the voice assistant to call people, you can now WhatsApp video chat friends with end-to-end encryption rather than just Messenger’s encryption in transit. The two messaging apps combined give Portal a big advantage over Google and Amazon’s devices since their parents have screwed up or ignored chat over the years. Still, there’s no way to send text messages, which would be exceedingly helpful.

Reserved for Portal TV-to-Portal TV Messenger chats is the new Watch Together feature we broke the news of a year ago after Ananay Arora spotted it in Messenger’s code. This lets you do a picture-in-picture video chat with friends while you simultaneously view a Facebook Watch video. It even smartly ducks down the video’s audio while friends are talking so you can share reactions. While it doesn’t work with other content apps like Prime Video, Watch Together shows the potential of Portal: passive hang out time.


“Have you ever thought about how weird bowling is, Josh? Bowling is a weird thing to go do. I enjoy bowling. I don’t enjoy bowling by myself that much. I enjoy going with other people,” Boz tells me. “It’s just a pretext, it’s some reason for us to get together and have some beers and to have time and have conversation. Whether it’s video calling or the AR games . . . those are a pretext, to have an excuse to go be together.”

This is Portal’s true purpose. Facebook has always been about time spent, getting deeper into your life and learning more about you. While other companies’ products might feel less creepy or be more entertaining, none have the ubiquitous social connection of Facebook and Portal. When your friends are on screen too, a mediocre game or silly video is elevated into a memorable experience. You can burn hours simply co-chilling. With Portal TV, Facebook finally has something unique enough to possibly offset its brand tax and earn it a place in your home.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/09/18/facebook-portal-tv/

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