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Feast Your Eyes on the Best Outdoor Heaters to Keep Patio Dining Alive Through the Winter

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With the pandemic still raging on in much of the United States, it stands to reason that we’ll continue socializing outdoors for much of the foreseeable future. In fact, the New York City Council has made its outdoor retaurant program permanent and will allow restaurants to use portable heaters during the winter months.

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The NYT’s Wirecutter review team put the struggles currently facing reviewers as outdoor patio heater models sell out faster than we can write about them into perspective.

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“At this point, if you’re looking to make an immediate purchase for something to use in the coming months, you’re better off buying whatever’s available that fits your circumstances.”

With that in mind, here are the best outdoor patio heaters that, at the time of publication, are still available for purchase, complete with the best information I could find about them compiled for easy reading and shopping alike.

Best for Restaurants: Frontgate Commercial Patio Heater

Illustration for article titled Feast Your Eyes on the Best Outdoor Heaters to Keep Patio Dining Alive Through the Winter

Image: Andrew Hayward

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Here’s a great option for restaurants and other socially-distanced commercial spaces, if you need something sizable and seriously powerful. Frontgate’s commercial patio heater pumps out 46,000 BTUs of heat via a Piezo igniter system and uses stainless steel burners and a double mantle heating grid. It’s pricier than the Member’s Mark model below, but could be better suited for your space and needs.

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Best for Restaurants Overall: Member’s Mark Patio Heater

Illustration for article titled Feast Your Eyes on the Best Outdoor Heaters to Keep Patio Dining Alive Through the Winter

Image: Member’s Mark

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This outdoor heater from Member’s Mark is designed for restaurants, so it’s sturdy and durable.

“It puts off a good amount of heat and warms a good area around the heater. You’ll be perfectly comfortable in your sweater while hanging out by the patio heater,” says one Sam’s Club reviewer.

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She continues, “I love the lighted drink table around it! It’s very conducive to conversation during an outdoor party. I would highly recommend this patio heater to anyone who enjoys being outside, even in the winter!”

Another promising review makes one thing clear: The “lighted table is VIP club cool.”

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Best Portable Heater: AgiiMan Patio Space Heater

AgiiMan

AgiiMan
Graphic: Gabe Carey

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This budget-friendly space heater is rated BestReview.Guides’ top choice for outdoor heaters. It’s budget-friendly, due to its low $49 price point, but also versatile. It can be used indoors and out, even in a greenhouse! Featuring an extra-long cord, it heats quickly and is perfect for adding a little warmth into your outdoor socializing life.

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Best Ambience: OT Qomotop Propane Fire Pit Table

Illustration for article titled Feast Your Eyes on the Best Outdoor Heaters to Keep Patio Dining Alive Through the Winter

Image: OT QOMOTOP

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This romantic backyard patio fire pit is perfect for romantic dates and hot chocolate moments with friends. With a 4.5 amazon rating, reviewers are raving. “It took me approximately 30 minutes to put it together by myself and was pretty easy since the directions were straight forward to follow,” one Amazon review gushes. “I have now used this fire pit table approximately 8-10 times and have been very happy with it.”

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Best Pyramid Heater: Oakmont Pyramid Outdoor Heater

Illustration for article titled Feast Your Eyes on the Best Outdoor Heaters to Keep Patio Dining Alive Through the Winter

Graphic: Gabe Carey

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While most expensive, this pyramid outdoor heater is by far my favorite. It’s the preferred style for restaurants sporting a classy sophisticated look. It’s also safer than the mushroom top version of heaters. The heat spreads across the entire length, rather than emitting from the highest point alone. Most sought-after models are sold out, but this Oakmont is still available.

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Best Wall-Mounted Heater: PatioBoss Electric Patio Heater

Illustration for article titled Feast Your Eyes on the Best Outdoor Heaters to Keep Patio Dining Alive Through the Winter

Image: PATIOBOSS

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If you want a wall-mounted heater, this PatioBoss heater looks like it will do the trick. Electric with a carbon fiber tube as a heating element it saves energy by being efficient. It works rapidly, boasting a 3 seconds warm-up period. The Patio Boss heater is also more affordable then standing heaters, perfect for small spaces.

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Best Outdoor Patio Heater: Hampton Bay Hewitt Tabletop Firepit Square

Illustration for article titled Feast Your Eyes on the Best Outdoor Heaters to Keep Patio Dining Alive Through the Winter

Image: Andrew Hayward

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If you’re looking for a compact outdoor heater that can rest easily and safely on a tabletop, then consider Hampton Bay’s Hewitt Tabletop Firepit Square. It provides a flame and heat within a small, gas-powered box shape that’s only about 16 inches across and 8 inches tall, delivering a 9 square-foot heating area. It’s ideal for patios.

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Bored at home? Here’s 10 handy tools you can build with Python

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Python project ideas for developers

If you have made up your mind about the platform you’re going to use, let’s jump straight into the projects. Mentioned below are some fun projects addressed towards developers of all skill levels that will play a crucial role in taking their skills and confidence with Python to the next level.

Content aggregator

content aggregator tool
Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash

The internet is a prime source of information for millions of people who are always looking for something online. For those looking for bulk information about a specific topic can save time using a content aggregator.

A content aggregator is a tool that gathers and provides information about a topic from a bulk of websites in one place. To make one, you can take the help of the requests library for handling the HTTP requests and BeautifulSoup for parsing and scraping the required information, along with a database to save the collected information.

Examples of Content aggregators:

URL shortener

URLs are the primary source of navigation to any resource on the internet, be it a webpage or a file, and, sometimes, some of these URLs can be quite large with weird characters. URL shorteners play an important role in reducing the characters in these URLs and making them easier to remember and work with.

The idea behind making a URL shortener is to use the random and string modules for generating a new short URL from the entered long URL. Once you’ve done that, you would need to map the long URLs and short URLs and store them in a database to allow users to use them in the future.

Examples of URL shortener:

File renaming tool

File Renaming tool created with Python
Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

If your job requires you to manage a large number of files frequently, then using a file renaming tool can save you a major chunk of your time. What it essentially does is that it renames hundreds of files using a defined initial identifier, which could be defined in the code or asked from the user.

To make this happen, you could use the libraries such as sysshutil, and os in Python to rename the files instantaneously. To implement the option to add a custom initial identifier to the files, you can use the regex library to match the naming patterns of the files.

Examples of bulk file rename tools:

Directory tree generator

A directory tree generator is a tool that you would use in conditions where you’d like to visualize all the directories in your system and identify the relationship between them. What a directory tree essentially indicates is which directory is the parent directory and which ones are its sub-directories. A tool like this would be helpful if you work with a lot of directories, and you want to analyze their positioning. To build this, you can use the os library to list the files and directories along with the docopt framework.

Examples of directory tree generators:

MP3 player

mp3 player built by Python
Photo by Mildly Useful on Unsplash

If you love listening to music, you’d be surprised to know that you can build a music player with Python. You can build an mp3 player with the graphical interface with a basic set of controls for playback, and even display the integrated media information such as artist, media length, album name, and more.

You can also have the option to navigate to folders and search for mp3 files for your music player. To make working with media files in Python easier, you can use the simpleaudiopymedia, and pygame libraries.

Examples of MP3 players:

Tic Tac Toe

Tic Tac Toe is a classic game we’re sure each of you is familiar with. It’s a simple and fun game and requires only two players. The goal is to create an uninterrupted horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line of either three Xs or Os on a 3×3 grid, and whoever does it first is the winner of the game. A project like this can use Python’s pygame library, which comes with all the required graphics and the audio to get you started with building something like this.

Tic tac toe
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Here are a few tutorials you can try:

More fun Python projects for game dev:

Quiz application

Another popular and fun project you can build using Python is a quiz application. A popular example of this is Kahoot, which is famous for making learning a fun activity among the students. The application presents a series of questions with multiple options and asks the user to select an option and later on, the application reveals the correct options.

As the developer, you can also create the functionality to add any desired question with the answers to be used in the quiz. To make a quiz application, you would need to use a database to store all the questions, options, the correct answers, and the user scores.

Examples of quiz applications:

Calculator

Developing a calculator with Python
Photo by Eduardo Rosas from Pexels

Of course, no one should miss the age-old idea of developing a calculator while learning a new programming language, even if it is just for fun. We’re sure all of you know what a calculator is, and if you have already given it a shot, you can try to enhance it with a better GUI that brings it closer to the modern versions that come with operating systems today. To make that happen, you can use the tkinter package to add GUI elements to your project.

Build a virtual assistant

Build a virtual assistant with Python
Photo by BENCE BOROS on Unsplash

Almost every smartphone nowadays comes with its own variant of a smart assistant that takes commands from you either via voice or by text and manages your calls, notes, books a cab, and much more. Some examples of this are Google Assistant, Alexa, Cortana, and Siri. If you’re wondering what goes into making something like this, you can use packages such as pyaudioSpeechRecognitiongTTS, and Wikipedia. The goal here is to record the audio, convert the audio to text, process the command, and make the program act according to the command.

Currency converter

As the name suggests, this project includes building a currency converter that allows you to input the desired value in the base currency and returns the converted value in the target currency. A good practice is to code the ability to get updated conversion rates from the internet for more accurate conversions. For this too, you can use the tkinter package to build the GUI.

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Root targets $6B+ valuation in pending IPO, a boon for insurtech startups

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This morning Root Insurance, a neo-insurance provider that has attracted ample private capital for its auto-insurance business, is targeting a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion in its pending IPO.

The former startup follows insurtech leader Lemonade to the public markets during a year in which IPOs have been well-received by investors focused more on growth than profitability. In the wake of Lemonade’s strong public offering and rich revenue multiples, it was not impossible to see another, similar startup test the same waters.

Root’s $6.34 billion valuation upper limit at its current price range matches expectations for its bulk. The company is targeting $22 to $25 per share in its debut.

The startup will raise over $500 million from the shares it is selling in its regular offering. Concurrent placements worth $500 million from Dragoneer and Silver Lake raise that figure to north of $1 billion and could help boost general demand for shares in the company; Snowflake’s epic IPO came with similar private placements from well-known investors in what became the transaction of the year.

Will we see Root boost its target? And what does Root’s IPO price range mean for insurtech startups? Let’s dig into the numbers.

Root’s numbers

We’ve dug into Root’s business a few times now, both before and after it formally filed its IPO documents. This morning we will merge both sets of work, snag a fresh revenue multiple from Lemonade, apply it to Root’s own numbers, observe any valuation deficit and ask ourselves what’s next for the debuting company.

Will we see Root’s IPO price rise? Here’s how to think about the question:

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Don’t Stake Candy into the Ground on Halloween, FFS

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Illustration for article titled Dont Stake Candy into the Ground on Halloween, FFS

Photo: Xolodan (Shutterstock)

Look, I know we’re all desperate to salvage something, anything, for our kids this year. They have been dealt one crushing disappointment after another for so many months now that I’ve stopped counting. And I know we’ve all had our moments of temporary (or prolonged) insanity during this pandemic. But friends, let’s slow down. Let’s take a deep breath, and let’s remind ourselves: It’s not a good idea to stake candy into the ground for trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

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The first time I saw this suggestion on social media, I was like, “Hmm, seems unsafe, what a weird idea.” The second time I saw it, I was like, “No, seriously, this is no good.” By the third time, I’d had enough of this nonsense.

Let me tell you a little story. Last Halloween, I took my son trick-or-treating with his friends while my husband stayed home to hand out candy. When we met up later, we cracked a couple of beers and he nonchalantly said, “We’re going to have to get rid of that decorative fence next year.”

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My spooky, plastic, cemetery-esque fence? Why would I ever ditch that? It so perfectly complements my zombies, tombstones, and giant talking pirate skeleton.

“Because,” he said, sipping his beer. “You wouldn’t believe how many kids tripped over it. Just like a massive amount of kids, one after another, going down in the lawn.”

This fence is a solid 11 inches tall (I measured it). But it turns out, little trick-or-treaters aren’t looking at the ground when they run across a lawn for candy. They’re look up at the door in anticipation of what treats it may bestow. You know what is smaller than my fence, which spans several feet of yard? Tiny packets of Skittles. Fun-sized Twix bars. Tootsie Pops.

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Stop and picture this for a moment. It’s Halloween night. Kids are dressed in all kinds of drapey costumes, fixated on constantly adjusting that mask you (hopefully) made them wear. It’s freaking dark outside. Candy staked into the ground has never been a thing anyone has ever done for them. What do we think is going to happen here? Best case scenario is that it all gets trampled by minute four, right?

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And yet, this is what people are suggesting in an article on PopSugar titled “‘Candy Sticking’ Is Even Safer (and Far Cuter) Than Leaving Out a Bowl on Halloween Night” (No, it isn’t):

“I still want to hang out on my porch and see everyone’s cute costumes, but, no, I don’t want a bunch of kids ringing my doorbell and fishing in my bowl for candy,” [a Colorado-based mom] wrote in a Facebook post debuting her discovery. “So I’ll be decorating my yard with candy, Willy Wonka style. Kids can come by and get candy from a safe distance and I’ll get to smile and wave from my front porch. Win-win.”

If you want to try this in your yard, she said “any kind of stick” works but noted that popsicle sticks are ideal if you are worried about impaling children (“yep, I got comments on that!” she said). She also suggested plastic spoons, glow sticks, or plastic straws. Her one warning: “Don’t put your candy out too early,” she noted. “Squirrels apparently love to trick or treat and will take advantage of any candy forest if left unattended for too long.”

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Okay, hold up, Willy Wonka. Any idea that garners concerns over children being impaled is an idea worth re-evaluating. I agree that “impaled” may be too strong of a word for what would happen were a kid to fall upon a few popsicle sticks, but the resulting feeling wouldn’t exactly be pleasant either.

And what constitutes “too early” to avoid enticing the squirrels? (You know who else might like a taste of junk food strew about a lawn? Raccoons, that’s who.) Trick-or-treating lasts two full hours at every place I’ve ever lived. Even if you wait until 5:59 p.m. on Halloween night to create this neighborhood hazard, that’s plenty of time for all the cute little rodents (and ants—did you think about ants?) to find your ground-level candy stash.

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Not to even mention the fact that if bad COVID germs are what we’re trying to avoid here, surely we can come up with a better alternative than a dirty, smashed Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. (Also, do you really want to clean this mess up?)

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The thing is, if you actually ask kids what they want from their Halloween experience, they are likely to say something like, “I want to get dressed up” and, “I want candy.” It’s really not much more complicated than that. If you want to pass out candy but you don’t want to share their airspace (or have them rummaging around the bowl themselves), here’s what you do:

Put a card table out at the end of your front walkway or driveway. A card table is tall; they will see a card table. Now, wearing gloves, dump some candy onto the card table. Spread it out. Step back at least six feet, sit down, hang out, watch all the cute kids come by in their costumes. Kids can grab a piece of candy without touching it all (be helpful and remind them of that) or risking bodily injury. When the supply runs low, approach the table with a mask and gloves on, and replenish.

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