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Twitter is fighting election chaos by urging users to quote tweet instead of retweet

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Twitter announced a slew of temporary changes on Friday aimed at staving off abuse around the November 3rd US presidential election. Tweets that include premature claims of victory will be labeled, tweets intended to incite interference in the election or election results will be subject to removal, and tweets from political figures with more than 100,000 followers — which includes President Trump — that are labeled as “misleading” will be more difficult to access.

“Twitter has a critical role to play in protecting the integrity of the election conversation, and we encourage candidates, campaigns, news outlets and voters to use Twitter respectfully and to recognize our collective responsibility to the electorate to guarantee a safe, fair and legitimate democratic process this November,” according to a blog post authored by Twitter legal, policy, and trust and safety lead Vijaya Gadde and product lead Kayvon Beykpour.

The temporary changes will put the brakes on how most people can use Twitter. Starting today, users will be encouraged to “add their own commentary” before retweeting something, pushing them toward the quote tweet option instead. Users who choose not to quote tweet can still retweet, but the company says it’s adding “extra friction and an extra step” in the hopes that it will “increase the likelihood that people add their own thoughts, reactions and perspectives to the conversation.”

Twitter also won’t provide “liked by” and “followed by” recommendations from people a user doesn’t follow and will only include trending topics in its “for you” tab for US users that include “additional context.” And when a user tries to retweet a tweet that’s been labeled as “misleading,” they’ll see a prompt directing them to credible information before they can retweet the bad info.

Image: Twitter

Twitter has labeled several of Trump’s tweets for violating its rules on manipulated media and civic and election integrity for tweeting falsehoods about mail-in voting. The labels have not appeared to deter the president, however. After Twitter labeled a false tweet about mail-in voting in May, Trump signed an executive order aimed at reducing protections provided to social media platforms under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Last month, Twitter announced a new set of rules to address misinformation ahead of the US election, which included plans to label or remove tweets with false information about election rigging and results. It also said it would label posts from candidates prematurely declaring victory, and it banned all political advertising last year.

The changes will roll out to users in the coming days. Twitter says it has already increased its staff working on the US election to respond to any Election Day issues that arise.

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Which iPhone 12 Accessories Should You Wait to Buy?

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While there’s a lot of new technology coming with the iPhone 12, Apple is also making a move to reduce “e-waste” by giving you less stuff in your iPhone box. Taken together, these two facts mean that you’ll probably end up spending anywhere from “a little bit” to “a lot” more money after buying your brand-new iPhone to pick up all the accessories you’ll need—in addition to any other monthly fees you’ll need to cough up for 5G service.

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What accessories can you get? What accessories should you get? Let’s take a look at the essentials, and I’ll give a few recommendations for what you should do for each category.

A brand-new case for your iPhone 12

  • Should you get a new case? Definitely.
  • Should you buy it from Apple? Probably not.

Normally, I’d be on the fence about buying a case for your iPhone. Yes, they can offer extra protection. In fact, I used to use one religiously. One day, though, I wanted to see what a caseless life was like, so I took mine off for a few days. That became a few weeks. And I haven’t used a case with my older iPhone since—and have been lucky enough to not drop it at all.

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MagSafe changes the game, though. Now, you can purchase a case that also still allows you to wirelessly charge your device (also one of the many reasons I’d rather not slap a thick hunk of protective material around my device). While I can’t envision any major case manufacturers making something that doesn’t work perfectly with Apple’s new MagSafe technology, I’m sure you’ll still see some iPhone 12 cases that aren’t optimized for the new tech. Avoid them like the plague. I haven’t used it yet, but I’m convinced that MagSafe is one of the iPhone 12’s best new features—even more so than 5G, but that’s just me.

As for buying it from Apple, though: Right now, the third-party market is just starting to churn with ideas about MagSafe-friendly cases. Because of that, I might risk an unprotected iPhone for a month or two just to see what else arrives (beyond the OtterBox, unless they’re working on an exclusive with Apple for the time being.) Apple’s asking prices for MagSafe cases are a wee bit too steep at $50—especially that “Clear Case” that’s basically just a hunk of plastic with a magnet slapped in the center. Oof.

A new wireless charger for your iPhone 12

  • Should you get a new charger? Definitely.
  • Should you buy it from Apple? If you’re impatient, yes

Second verse, same as the first. For your MagSafe-friendly iPhone 12 to properly snap to a wireless charger, that charger is going to have to support MagSafe. This means that you’ll need to buy a new charger—whether that’s something for your desk, something for your car, a nightstand holder for your iPhone 12, etc.

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While I would normally suggest waiting for third-party chargers that give you a lot more variety for a lower price than Apple’s, you might be waiting a bit of time for new chargers to arrive—especially given the newness of the MagSafe technology. Only Belkin has an alternative charger right now, and it’s a bit pricey.

Will your existing wireless charger work with your iPhone 12? Sure. Is MagSafe more fun? Absolutely. Will it cost you $40 to get right now? You bet. If you can wait, wait, but I won’t begrudge you for splurging a little to have fun with Apple’s new magnetic tech.

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A power adapter for your iPhone 12

  • Should you get a new power adapter? Potentially
  • Should you buy it from Apple? Definitely not.

If you’ve been buying iPhones for some time, you probably have plenty of tiny “power bricks” you can use to charge your new iPhone 12 via its Lightning connection. You’ll be able to charge it even faster if you have a higher-watt power adapter—everything from an iPad power adapter to your MacBook’s power adapter is fair game.

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If an iPhone 12 is your very first iPhone, or you’ve just been lazy about saving those power adapters, you’ll need to purchase one yourself. Apple isn’t including them in the box anymore—just a USB C-to-Lightning cable. While Apple has dropped the price of its 20W USB-C power adapter by $10 (ooh, ahh) to account for this, you can do better than that.

This Anker model is just as good, but cheaper, as is this Aukey charger—both Wirecutter favorites. I love combo chargers myself; they give you speedier USB-C charging for your iPhone along with a USB-A port for all the other devices you own. Oh, and they’ll still be cheaper than Apple’s single-port charger.

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A snap-on wallet for your iPhone 12’s case

  • Should you get a new wallet? Eh.
  • Should you buy it from Apple? No.

Rounding out our MagSafe coverage is this new leather wallet that you can now snap to the back of your iPhone. If you’re a big Apple fan, sure, go pay $60 for a little magnetic pouch. Otherwise, I’d wait for every other company under the sun to come up with their own snap-to accessories. You can get by using your pocket to store your cash while you wait. It’ll be OK.

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A car mount for your iPhone 12

  • Should you get a new car mount? Someday soon, but not yet.
  • Should you buy it from Apple? No.

Honestly, all this talk of MagSafe makes me incredibly thrilled for one particular experience I’ve been waiting for: a car mount that I don’t have to fuss with. I get annoyed having to slide a phone into a mount and tighten the sides so it stays in place—and I imagine whatever other contraption other car mounts use to secure your phone (and ideally charge it, too) are equally aggravating.

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I presume MagSafe car mounts like Belkin’s—currently the only one you can purchase—will function kind of like those magnet-based showerheads. In other words: snap on, snap off. No fiddling with clamps. No aligning with Lightning connectors. Just attach your smartphone and go.

I love the concept; now I’m just waiting for someone to make a car mount that also allows the magnetic connector to charge your phone. Belkin’s “magnet on a clip” is close, but not quite. I’ll wait.

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Earbuds for your iPhone 12

  • Should you get new earbuds? No.
  • Should you buy it from Apple? No way.

How many of Apple fans have drawers full of earbuds? I know I do. The more recent Lightning earbuds—introduced with the iPhone 7—are the only ones that will let you connect to your new iPhone 12 sans dongle, but you won’t find these in the box. Yes, in the name of eco-friendliness, Apple has ditched its earbuds, too. But you can still purchase them directly from Apple for $19.

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Were I you, I’d ask any of my Apple-loving friends to borrow (permanently) one of the many pairs of earbuds they’re not using. And if that still doesn’t turn up anything, buy anything but Apple’s earbuds. Go get some AirPods—one of my favorite accessories I never thought I’d actually use, but now love. Get some wired earbuds with the little audio cable add-on that lets you access Siri, start/stop calls, and mess with your volume without taking your iPhone out of your pocket. Or just go buy a pair of high-end headphones. Don’t waste $20 on the most basic earbuds around.

A longer charging cable for your iPhone 12 

  • Should you get a longer charging cable? Sure!.
  • Should you buy it from Apple? No, no, no.

I don’t have an iPhone 12, nor have reviews dropped as of this writing (the embargo lifts tomorrow), so I can’t tell you how long the included USB-C-to-Lightning cable is. Odds are good, though, that you’d probably benefit from something a bit longer, especially if you need to wrap a cable around some furniture to charge your iPhone exactly where you’re most likely to use it.

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If, or when, you opt to buy a longer cable, avoid Apple’s store like the plague. A two-meter (6.5-foot) cable will set you back $29. You can find a cable that’s just as good and quite a bit cheaper from a number of other retailers—including Amazon itself, as well as sites like Monoprice (great prices if you’re buying a few). Don’t buy cables from Apple.

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Is Direct-to-Consumer Dog Food Worth the Money?

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Illustration for article titled Is Direct-to-Consumer Dog Food Worth the Money?

Photo: Dvorakova Veronika (Shutterstock)

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a major expansion of products now available directly to consumers. We can now buy razors, toothbrushes and tampons through subscription services that promise not only higher quality, but lower prices. These direct-to-consumer (DTC) products also include dog food, though those companies tend to focus on offering high-quality food, rather than promoting a substantial cost savings. There are plenty of DTC dog food options out there, but are they worth the money? Here’s what to know.

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What’s the deal with direct-to-consumer dog food?

Like other DTC products, part of the appeal of having a subscription is not having to remember to purchase something you need on a regular basis. But, as NBC News reports, in most cases, DTC dog food is more about indulging your pet with “higher quality,” more nutritious food, rather than convenience or saving money. These products aims to fill the gap between affordable dry dog food and the really expensive, high-end stuff (probably sold in a refrigerated section of your local grocery store). Brands and services include: Sundays, Tailored, Jinx, Nom Nom and The Farmer’s Dog.

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Is direct-to-consumer dog food actually healthier?

These DTC dog food companies are banking on the fact that people with dogs are willing to pay more for their furry friends’ food if it’s higher in quality and better for them. But is that really the case? Some veterinarians, like Dr. Kristin Neuhauser, DVM, of Noah’s Ark Animal Clinic, see kibble as an important part of a dog’s diet. “For dogs, the main benefit to being on a commercially-prepared dry dog food is that they are eating a complete and balanced diet,” she told NBC News.

The most important thing to consider when selecting a dog food, according to Dr. Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, a professor of Sections of Clinical Nutrition and Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornel, is to make sure that it meets nutrient standards set by organizations like the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). “If not [complete and balanced] then there’s vitamins and minerals that need to be added,” he told NBC News. “I, as a veterinarian nutritionist, feel much more comfortable [knowing] a product has met AAFCO specifications.”

That’s not to say that DTC dog foods don’t meet those standards—it’s just important that you check that they do, instead of simply assuming that higher cost equals higher quality.

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Is direct-to-consumer dog food worth the price?

In short, it all depends on your priorities. If your dog is perfectly happy eating kibble that meets AAFCO nutrition standards, then it may not be worth the extra money to upgrade to a more expensive DTC plan. But in cases where your dog may not be eating enough or getting the nutrients it needs, then it could be worth splurging on high-quality human-grade food.

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“If you want to feed your pet human-grade foods it will be more expensive, but if your pet finds it palatable and really enjoys their meals, I think it’s worth the extra cost,” veterinarian Dr. Hunter Finn, DVM, told Fast Company. He also only recommends dog food brands that employ a full-time veterinary nutritionist and are open and honest when answering your questions regarding research, manufacturing and nutrient profile studies.

So ultimately, it’s up to you—but as long as your dog is enjoying a complete and balanced diet, don’t feel as though you need to shell out the extra cash for human-grade food.

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Lockheed picks Relativity’s 3D-printed rocket for experimental NASA mission

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Relativity Space has bagged its first public government contract, and with a major defense contractor at that. The launch startup’s 3D-printed rockets are a great match for a particularly complex mission Lockheed is undertaking for NASA’s Tipping Point program.

The mission is a test of a dozen different cryogenic fluid management systems, including liquid hydrogen, which is a very difficult substance to work with indeed. The tests will take place on a single craft in orbit, which means it will be a particularly complicated one to design and accommodate.

The payload itself and its cryogenic systems will be designed and built by Lockheed and their partners at NASA, of course, but the company will need to work closely with its launch provider during development and especially in the leadup to the actual launch.

Relativity founder and CEO Tim Ellis explained that the company’s approach of 3D printing the entire rocket top to bottom is especially well suited for this.

“We’re building a custom payload fairing that has specific payload loading interfaces they need, custom fittings and adapters,” he said. “It still needs to be smooth, of course — to a lay person it will look like a normal rocket,” he added.

Every fairing (the external part of the launch vehicle covering the payload) is necessarily custom, but this one much more so. The delicacy of having a dozen cryogenic operations being loaded up and tested until moments before launch necessitates a number of modifications that, in other days, would result in a massive increase in manufacturing complexity.

“If you look at the manufacturing tools being used today, they’re not much different from the last 60 years,” Ellis explained. “It’s fixed tooling, giant machines that look impressive but only make one shape or one object that’s been designed by hand. And it’ll take 12-24 months to make it.”

Not so with Relativity.

“With our 3D printed approach we can print the entire fairing in under 30 days,” Ellis said. “It’s also software defined, so we can just change the file to change the dimensions and shape. For this particular object we have some custom features that we’re able to do more quickly and adapt. Even though the mission is three years out, there will always be last minute changes as you get closer to launch, and we can accommodate that. Otherwise you’d have to lock in the design now.”

Ellis was excited about the opportunity to publicly take on a mission with such a major contractor. These enormous companies field billions of government dollars and take part in many launches, so it’s important to be in their good books, or at least in their rolodexes. A mission like this, complex but comparatively low stakes (compared with a crewed launch or billion-dollar satellite) is a great chance for a company like Relativity to show its capabilities. (Having presold many of its launches already, there’s clearly no lack of interest in the 3D printed launch vehicles, but more is always better.)

The company will be going to space before then, though, if all continues to go according to plan. The first orbital test flight is scheduled for late 2021. “We’re actually printing the launch hardware right now, the last few weeks,” Ellis mentioned.

The NASA Tipping Point program that is funding Lockheed with an $89.7 million contract for this experiment is one intended to, as its name indicates, help tip promising technologies over the edge into commercial viability. With hundreds of millions awarded yearly for companies pursuing things like lunar hoppers and robotic arms, it’s a bit like the agency’s venture fund.

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