Forget lifestyle – we need to end poverty to combat cancer

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, and Minister of State for Health Promotion, Catherine Byrne, during the launch of a new ‘National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026’ at Iveagh House, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

From the point of view of early diagnosis, treatment, and support for survivors, the new National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026 is an excellent document. However, the prevention section is a big disappointment. According to the foreword by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, “cancer prevention is a cornerstone of this strategy as it offers the most cost-effective, long-term approach for cancer control”.

Prof John Kennedy, chairman of the steering group that put the strategy together, also stresses the need for prevention and aggressive programmes of public education and “that the most strenuous efforts must be made to target more deprived populations in cancer prevention”.

Although recognising the “incontrovertible evidence of the enormous impact of socioeconomic status and deprivation on death rates from some cancers Ireland”, he blames smoking and poor diet. In fact, the prevention chapter is all about the promotion of healthy lifestyles. This approach will not prevent cancer or reduce inequalities.

Did the members disregard the evidence that inequality and health inequality are the main cancer risk factors? No, they knew about the health impact of inequality. “Reducing health inequalities is a priority of this strategy, as lifestyle risk factors generally follow social, deprivation, gender, and age patterns.” The steering group included a representative from the National Cancer Registry which produced a report on cancer inequalities last year titled Cancer Inequalities in Ireland by deprivation, urban/rural status and age: A National Cancer Registry Report 2016.

This report showed that not only was there a higher incidence of cancer in deprived populations but these populations had much lower survival rates. “Strong patterns of inequality . . . are documented for most of the measures examined [nine major cancer types].” None of the proposed prevention actions in the new cancer strategy will reduce inequality and may widen the health gap between socioeconomic groups. It is more likely that the steering group recognised the impact of inequality but did not know what to do about it.

There is overwhelming evidence that focusing on getting the lifestyle message across and public health education does not prevent cancer or any other disease. Prevention groups know that poor people get sick more often than those who are better off but do not analyse the problem. They assume it is a health education issue and believe that if only “the poor” realised that smoking, drinking, and being overweight was bad for their health they would change their behaviour. Because of this erroneous belief, health professionals, the Department of Health and the HSE rely on health information campaigns. They believe that if they say it often enough people will change.

For example, Goal 1 in the National Cancer Strategy is directed at reducing the cancer burden by focusing on health inequalities through information campaigns. “A significant effort is required to ensure that prevention and awareness campaigns have a particular focus on addressing health inequalities” and “it is vital that we are effective in getting the message across to the population that each person can impact significantly on their own level of risk of developing cancer.” This is so stupid.

According to Margaret Whitehead, a World Health Organisation expert on the social determinants of health and health inequalities, “the solutions may seem so complex that people can easily become frozen into inaction” leading to “lifestyle drift.” In 1988, she wrote The Health Divide which analysed the huge differences in health between socioeconomic groups.

According to a 2016 paper by Whitehead, the reason poor people do not adopt healthy lifestyles is because they do not control their own destiny. “Being in a low social position; living in a disadvantaged environment with a sense of collective threat and powerlessness and the degree to which people are discriminated against and excluded from the society in which they live”, means that people are more likely to develop cancer and other chronic diseases.

According to the new cancer strategy, “As more evidence emerges regarding the development of cancer . . . there will be a need to identify the most effective prevention methods.” We already know the most effective method which is to reduce or, as far as possible, eliminate inequalities and thus health inequalities. Unless this happens the numbers of people with cancer will not just double by 2040, as predicted in the National Cancer Strategy, but treble.


Sam Johnson wants us to rethink the way we look at cancer

With sister Connie in the final stages of advanced cancer, actor Samuel Johnson has once again expressed his frustration that there is still no cure for the hideous disease.

And while his latest Instagram post could be considered offensive to some, we’re positive that was not his intention.

Johnson, 39, shared his thoughts on the Love Your Sister social media page today, starting by saying, “If cancer wore a burqa would we have cured it already?”


Image: Instagram @loveyoursister

What we think he meant by that comment is that if cancer were vilified the way those who wear burquas are WRONGLY targeted, if we focused all that energy wasted on mistakenly assuming all Muslims are terrorists, then cancer would probably have been eradicated by now.

His message seeming to be: Stop inventing fake problems and focus on targeting the real ones, like cancer.

The actor writes, “We want all the freedoms and we want them all now. We hate and kill other humans, for freedom from each other.

“For a freedom cancer doesn’t permit.

“75% of us live in real fear of a home-grown terrorist attack, while cancer will detonate and kill 50,000 of us this year. In our own backyard. Not in some province we can’t pronounce, let alone point to on a map.

“Rather than chanting for death, I choose to fight for life. Ideological rant over. xsam”

Followers of the cancer fundraising page have chosen to accept Johnson’s comments in the spirit in which they were intended, with @maso_chick who has experience with breast cancer saying, “Nope .. a burqa hides everything.”

The actor responded, “Cancer cares not of burquas or bikinis…”.

Connie before her final public appearance. Image: Instagram @loveyoursister

@amelie73 also chose to take his comments at face value, saying, “I know of no-one personally that has been killed by terrorism, but have lost two relatives, two colleagues, a dear neighbour, and one sweet young man to cancer.

“My father-in-law lost all his eight siblings to cancer.

“I live every day with the feeling that if I get it, it won’t be a huge shock. Governments please fund our defence against this actual menace, that’s killing thousands of Australian’s each year.

“Help us.”

Sam and Connie promote a fundraising drive. Image: TODAY

Samuel Johnsons’ sister Connie, 40, is dying from an aggressive form of cancer, her third experience with the disease since the age of 12.

Initially diagnosed with bone cancer, she recovered and lead a normal life until being diagnosed with uterine cancer at 22, and then breast and liver cancer at age 33.

Since her most recent cancer battle, brother Sam has dedicated his life to raising money for cancer research, establishing the charity Love Your Sister which has raised $5 million to date.

Last week the devastated actor wrote a love letter to his sister who is suffering through the final stages of the cruel disease, saying, “I wish I could soften your pain, or lessen your fear, or give you something tangible, but tangible clearly isn’t in season.

“I’m proud to walk you to the hardest part of the road. The end. The only part of the road in your life that must sadly be traveled alone.”


How to keep skin looking young? We asked the experts

Image result for How to keep skin looking young? We asked the experts

The beauty market is awash with anti-aging products, and the lists of ingredients in serums and creams that promise to slow down or reverse that process can be confounding.

Take a look at the fine print and you might encounter Vitamin C or green tea extract or alpha-hydroxy acids. Can anything make a difference?

We checked in with a handful of experts, including Dr. Gregory Henderson, a dermatologist and clinical instructor in dermatology at UCLA, in our search for answers.

By the way, cosmetics companies test their products extensively. The Food and Drug Administration does not test products, but can take action against a manufacturer if it has concerns over product safety.


Activated charcoal, which can absorb some toxins, has been used to treat alcohol and drug poisoning in emergency rooms for decades. But in the last few years, the beauty industry has embraced it, touting its ability to absorb dirt and oil. Can it be effective?

“When used as part of a mask or strip,” Henderson says, “the charcoal may help remove sebum and keratinous debris from skin pores.”

Clay and mud

Mud is sometimes used in masks that are used to hydrate the skin and is acknowledged by many in the medical community for its potential to help with skin issues. “Mud therapy,” says Henderson, “is an ancient tradition and historically has been used for inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.”

Clay is one of the most common ingredients found in beauty products, and experts tend to agree that it can serve a useful purpose, if used according to directions. Clay masks, designed to remove oil, dirt and dead skin cells, can be used as a delivery mechanism for ingredients — oils and emollients, for example — to ease dry skin.

Sodium hyaluronate

Sodium hyaluronate, which is used in all sorts of wrinkle and skin-repair products, is a “cousin of hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring substance in the skin which helps hang on to water and helps give the skin a younger appearance,” says UCLA dermatologist Dr. Hayley Goldbach.

“Dermatologists often inject hyaluronic acid fillers into skin, resulting in more volume and a reduction in fine lines.” Sodium hyaluronate, designed to be applied to the skin, “has not been shown to have the same anti-aging or collagen-boosting properties as injectable hyaluronic acid.” But it continues to be included in various medical studies and papers that are focused on the efficacy of various anti-aging products.

Alpha hydroxy acids

According to Medscape, an online reference source used by medical professionals, AHAs (including glycolic and citric acids) “improve skin texture and reduce the signs of aging by promoting cell shedding” in the outer layers of the skin. But “the mechanism of the action is not completely understood.”


Caffeine is used in cosmetics and cosmeceuticals to counter a number of skin conditions, including the appearance of cellulite. It works, in theory, “by stimulating lipolysis — the breaking down of fat — in the skin and by improving the microcirculation,” Henderson says.

Caffeine is also found in some eye creams, promoted by cosmetic lines for its ability to shrink blood vessels under the eyes, although “its role has not been well studied.”

Green tea extract

In the last few years, there’s been a surge in the use of green tea extract in beauty products. WebMD reports that “the ingredients in tea can reduce sun damage and may protect you from skin cancer when you put it on your skin.” Henderson says that “a study combining green tree extract, caffeine and resveratrol showed reduced facial redness.”

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of the most popular ingredients in anti-aging products, promoted as something that can protect cells from free radicals, which can damage cell DNA, increase signs of aging and lead to cancer.

Some experts say the antioxidants found in vitamin C can assist the body’s production of collagen. But Henderson cautions: “While limited studies have shown that topical vitamin C may limit photoaging, many current preparations … are not formulated to allow the vitamin C to effectively penetrate the skin. Also unless protected from the air, most preparation became inactive without hours of opening.”


Peptides, formed from amino acids, are “cellular messengers” of sorts and are commonly used in beauty products. According to Henderson, signal peptides may stimulate collagen production. Carrier peptides “may aid in the delivery of copper to the skin and promote smoother skin.” (Copper is said to help develop collagen and elastin.)


Many of us associate algae with unpleasant encounters in the water (seaweed, pond scum, etc.), but algae have been used in traditional diets and folk medicine for centuries.

In the beauty world, you might read about ingredients such as blue marine algae or brown algae extract. You won’t find universal agreement on their effectiveness in cosmeceuticals, but an article in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology suggests brown seaweed “could be used as a potential cosmetic ingredient to make skin firmer and smoother.”

The bottom line?

Some of the ingredients listed in the fine print on cosmetics and cosmeceuticals may actually help your skin. But what the experts really hope you’ll indulge in are rest, exercise, a healthy diet and sunscreen.


Quern – Undying Thoughts review: The closest we may ever come to a Riven sequel

Quern - Undying Thoughts

2016 was one hell of a year for Myst-alikes, eh? Straight from the source, from Cyan itself, you had official spiritual successor Obduction—a game which crept onto our Games of the Year list. Then there was The Eyes of Ara, which utilized the same sort of puzzles although in quite a different sort of setting.

But I wish I’d gotten around to playing Quern – Undying Thoughts. I don’t know why I didn’t, although it certainly wasn’t helped by a late November release nor its impenetrable title.

Quern - Undying Thoughts

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Quern – Undying Thoughts

I recently delved into Quern’s world though—nothing like those slow Januarys for catching up on your backlog—and it’s excellent. Like Myst of old, you arrive in an area with no idea how you got there or what you should be doing. In this case you’ve been teleported to an island by way of a massive gateway which promptly self-destructs upon your arrival.

There’s a way off the island though, approximately 50 locked doors and dozens of puzzles in your future. Puzzles involving gears and simple mechanical contraptions, puzzles involving audio cues, puzzles involving some lightweight botany, and puzzles involving a whole series of crystals each of which has its own unique properties.

Quern - Undying Thoughts

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Quern – Undying Thoughts

Along the way you’ll delve into the origins of the titular island, Quern. The island’s previous occupant has left behind directives, notes on the peculiar properties Quern possesses, the secrets he’s uncovered and what he’s done with said knowledge. His journal entries lead you from area to area, sometimes giving context, sometimes giving clues, and all apparently part of some plan. But what plan? And why?

It’s as close to a Myst game as I’ve ever seen from another developer. Or rather, a Riven game. Just look at the architecture here:

Quern - Undying Thoughts

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Quern – Undying Thoughts

This is the first village you enter. It’s your main hub and where you’ll spend a good portion of Quern. And it’s incredibly reminiscent of the bleached-white adobe buildings that dotted Riven’s Jungle Island:


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Those huts may represent the most obvious parallel, but the game reeks of Cyan’s mid-’90s output. It has the same sense of weary isolation, the same unexpected warmth to its grimy copper gizmos, and that feeling of “Normal” and “Alien” bashed together in one place. Here, a library. There, a forge. Everyday objects, but all of it residing in a world so unique and unusual.

Between the focus on mechanical puzzles and the aesthetic nod, Quern feels like the Riven successor we never really got (and likely never will get). It’s grim and lonesome in the same way that made Riven a classic—and much closer in tone to Riven than Cyan’s actual sequel, Myst III.

Quern - Undying Thoughts

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Quern – Undying Thoughts

And it takes the same approach to puzzles—not just in terms of aesthetics, but philosophically. Quern loves introducing new ideas and puzzle constraints at a rapid pace and then disposing of them at will, adhering to a certain internal logic but unconcerned with building on its own foundation.

Hell, there’s even a puzzle similar to Riven’s famous spinning room.

Quern’s not nearly as bash-your-head-against-a-wall obtuse, of course. While Riven occasionally stumps me even today, twenty or so years after I first played it, Quern is breezier. Benefiting from an additional two decades of puzzle design and fully 3D environments, it took me maybe eight or nine hours to get through. Not too bad.

Quern - Undying Thoughts

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Quern – Undying Thoughts

It’s also not a perfect game. Some of its puzzles fall into the typical adventure game trap—very obvious solution buried under a cumbersome series of steps. One puzzle is just a retread of the Knights of the Old Republic puzzle where you do a bunch of column math to blow up injector pods on Manaan. (Yes, it’s as boring as it sounds.) And you do it three times here. Ugh. There are a few other stinkers, but that one’s the worst.

The game also includes a seemingly handy Notebook feature, which is supposed to function like in-game screenshots. You see something important, a clue to a puzzle, and you can “jot it down in your notebook” at the touch of a button. Quern then makes a cool little sketch-representation of whatever item you were looking at.


How The Food We Eat Makes Climate Change Worse

How The Food We Eat Makes Climate Change Worse

ROME: The way we produce and eat food must change urgently both to cut the amount of planet-warming emissions produced by agriculture, and to help farmers adapt to climate change, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Monday.

Without swift action, climate change will put millions of people at risk of hunger and poverty, the UN agency said in a report to mark World Food Day on October 16.

Here are some key facts:

1. Agriculture, forestry and changes in land use combined are the second largest source of greenhouse gases, producing 21 percent of global emissions. The top emitter is the energy sector at 47 percent.

2. To feed a growing global population, agricultural production must rise by about 60 percent by 2050.

3. Climate change is expected to cut harvests in developing countries in the long term – although it may also improve some crop yields in the short term.

4. If climate change continues unchecked, it will make an additional 42 million people vulnerable to hunger in 2050, according to FAO calculations. However, that figure does not include people affected by extreme weather events such as drought or floods.

5. Small farmers, cattle herders and fishermen are the most vulnerable to climate change, and will need better access to technologies, markets, information and credit to adapt to climate change.

6. Agriculture suffered some 25 percent of the total economic losses caused by climate-related disasters in developing countries between 2003 and 2013. For drought-related disasters, the share rose to 84 percent.

7. Livestock alone produces nearly two thirds of agricultural emissions – mainly from animal burping, manure and feed production. Synthetic fertilisers are the next major contributor, producing 12 percent, and rice cultivation 10 percent.
8. Carbon dioxide emissions from agriculture are mainly caused by changes in land use, such as converting forests to pasture or cropland, and land degradation from over-grazing.

9. Most direct emissions of methane and nitrous oxide are caused by livestock flatulence, rice production in flooded fields and the use of nitrogen fertilisers and manure.

10. Nearly 50 percent of world food production depends on nitrogen fertiliser. The other half depends on nitrogen found in soil, animal manure, nitrogen-fixing plants, crop residues, wastes and compost.

11. More than a third of food produced worldwide is lost or wasted. Rotting food produces methane, which is a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

12. Deforestation and forest degradation account for about 11 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, more than the world’s entire transport sector.

13. Reducing agriculture emissions depends partly on cutting food waste and loss, as well as shifting people’s diets – including consuming less animal products – and changing farming practices.


Microsoft’s $300 Windows VR headsets: 6 things we know (and 1 big question)

windows 10 vr headset 2

Everybody expected mixed-reality technology to play a part in Microsoft’s big Windows 10 event on Wednesday—but nobody expected what we got. Rather than showing yet another HoloLens demonstration, Microsoft instead announced a small army of virtual reality headsets unlike anything available today, and they’re all powered by the forthcoming Windows 10 Creators Update.

The demo raised more questions than it supplied answers, but there was still plenty of info to glean if you were paying attention. Here’s everything we know about Microsoft’s Windows 10 VR headsets—and one massive question spurred by their mere existence.

Further reading: Everything Microsoft revealed: Surface Studio, Windows 10 Creators Update and more

1. They’re wholly unique


Today’s mobile VR headsets (like the Gear VR and Daydream View) can track your head’s rotation, but not its position in space, making mobile VR a stationary experience. PC-powered VR (like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive) can track both head rotation and position, but require the use of extra “base stations” that cast out invisible laser beams to keep tabs on your movement across space.

Windows chief Terry Myserson says the new Windows 10 powered VR headsets use “inside-out six-degree-of-freedom sensors.” That means they’ll be able to track their own position with internal sensors, negating the need for base stations and dedicated VR spaces. No currently available VR headset offers that flexibility. The closest we’ve seen is the Santa Cruz prototype revealed at Oculus Connect earlier this month, but it’s far from finished, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stressing that Santa Cruz is more idea than reality at this point.

The HoloLens overlays 3D holograms atop the real world, providing an experience totally different from traditional virtual reality.

2. They’re tethered

windows 10 vr headsets

The Windows 10 headsets can’t quite shake all of PC-based VR shackles, it seems. Unlike Microsoft’s HoloLens (and Oculus’ standalone Santa Cruz prototype), it appears as though these incoming devices lack onboard computers, requiring them to be tethered to a PC—somewhat of a bummer after the excitement about inside-out sensors. During an on-stage demonstration, the host’s headset clearly sported a long wire, and a promotional image for these headsets shows a discrete connection to a laptop in the background.

This raises some interesting questions. How powerful will the PC powering these Windows 10 headsets need to be? Full-blown VR is much more graphically demanding than the HoloLens’ augmented reality. The laptop in the image doesn’t appear bulky, butNvidia’s new GTX 10-series mobile chips are powerful, yet cool enough to drive virtual reality experiences from relatively svelte notebooks. We’re going to have to wait for more info. Myerson suggested you won’t need a particularly beefy rig.

3. They share HoloLens controls

These “Windows 10 Creators Update accessories,” as Myerson calls them, may be different from the HoloLens but it appears they’ve picked up some tricks from Microsoft’s augmented reality device. During Microsoft’s on-stage demo yesterday, the Windows 10 VR headset was controlled using voice commands and hand gestures, similarly to how you control the HoloLens. No obvious in-hand controllers were visible.


You can’t help but wonder if these more affordable, tethered VR headsets will stand in as “consumer HoloLens” alternatives until Microsoft’s able to perfect the design of its headset and drive the cost of its standalone design down to more reasonable levels—which may take years.

4. They’re popular with PC makers

A slew of PC makers want in on the VR action. HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer will all offer Windows 10 VR headsets. Here’s hoping Microsoft and its partners institute some quality controls, as janky VR hardware can make you puke in a jiffy.

5. They’re damned cheap

Or at least one version is. Myerson says these Windows 10 VR headsets will start at just $299, compared to $600 for the Oculus Rift and $800 for the HTC Vive.

6. They’re coming soon

Look for these Windows 10 VR headsets to appear around the launch of the Windows 10 Creators Update, early next year.

The big question: What about Oculus?

Just last year, Oculus and Microsoft seemed pretty buddy-buddy. Xbox chief Phil Spencer took the stage at Oculus’ E3 2015 event to announce that the Rift would ship with an Xbox One controller, and be able to play Xbox One games on a virtual TV screen. Rampant rumors suggested that rather than building an in-house headset like PlayStation VR, Microsoft would instead tap Oculus as a drop-in solution for the Xbox One.

oculus rift consumer june 11 2015

Hayden Dingman

The new consumer version of Oculus Rift is due to ship in early 2016.

But it looks like things have changed since then.

Those Xbox games have yet to materialize for the Rift, and these Windows 10 headsets could very well wind up being the Xbox One’s VR solution. The only time Oculus was mentioned at the Microsoft event was when Myerson tossed shade, stating that “those other, less immersive accessories today cost over $500 dollars” (emphasis his).

To be clear, the Rift headset still ships with an Xbox One gamepad, and neither Oculus nor Microsoft have mentioned anything negative about each other. The Rift could very well still become the Xbox One’s VR headset! But the Oculus team’s noticeable absence at Microsoft’s event paired with the natural rivalry between the Windows 10 VR headsets and Oculus’ Santa Cruz headset sure makes you wonder.

“I think that Microsoft has been targeting this price segment for quite some time,” says Anshel Sag, associate analyst and VR expert at Moor Insights & Strategy. “Their biggest fear is missing this technology inflection and not being a major player like in mobile. That is why they partnered with Oculus early before they had a working headset design of their own.”

“Microsoft will still likely partner with Oculus, but that relationship seemed one more out of convenience than necessity,” says Sag. “Facebook and Microsoft fundamentally have competing visions and platforms for VR and that ultimately boils down to why their partnership couldn’t last.”


We tear apart a hard drive and SSD to show you how they work

Amazon Prime Day: We pick the best electronics, PC, and mobile deals

Amazon Prime Day 2016

Bluntly put, Amazon’s Prime Day sale disappointed many last year. Touted as an event to rival Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Prime Day 2015 was defined by discounted products that failed to enthrall would-be buyers. On top of that, the better items sold out quickly.

But for its second Prime Day sale, Amazon has promised more appealing offerings with higher inventory—and the online retailer seems to have made good on its word. Sort of.

Amazon seeded us with an early look at its Prime Day deals, and most offerings appear better than last year’s Sharpies and Tupperware at first glance. For example, we found Prime Day deals for 4K TVs, popular mirrorless DSLR bodies, and high-end 802.11ac routers. The catch? Most of these deals are for older, open-box items, and their discounts vary (open-box items are typically products that were purchased and then sent back to Amazon for refunds). Getting up to 40% off a returned 2014 Android phone is hardly the stuff of giddy bargain hunting. That said, consumers should still have some reasons to be excited.

Update (7/12/16 12:15am): It appears some deals are coming active more slowly than the scheduled time of midnight. We’re keeping an eye on this and will update the article accordingly if some deals do not actually go live.

Amazon Prime Day: The best deals

After carefully sifting through the information Amazon sent to a select few media outlets, we found you can get some brand-new tech items at a good price—even if you don’t have time to sit and watch the Lightning Deals, which are short, timed sales that vary in duration and can end with an abrupt halt if their allotted inventory runs out fast. We’ve listed the most notable all-day deals below, sorted by their Amazon categories.

Our picks err toward smart home and entertainment gadgets, as well as gear of interest to Windows and Android users. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t seem very interested in discounting Apple-oriented gear and accessories.

Note: In order to participate in Amazon Prime Day, you must be an Amazon Prime member. You can sign up for a free 30-day trial to take advantage of these sales prices.


  • Electronics
  • Home entertainment
  • Kindle gear
  • Laptops and PC storage
  • Video games


Bose SoundTrue Around-Ear Headphones II

  • $49.95 – Bose SoundSport In-ear Headphones – Charcoal
  • $99.95 – Bose SoundTrue Around-ear Headphones II (Apple devices, Charcoal)

While we prefer other headphones for sheer audio quality, plenty of people still like Bose, and these prices reflect a solid discount. The cheapest we’ve seen on the SoundSport, for example, has been in the range of $70 to $80.

However, if you’re only after cans that sound good, we have a couple of alternative recommendations priced about the same as their Bose rivals. If you don’t need the SoundTrue II’s microphone capabilities, try Puro Labs’ Bluetooth headphones (reviewed here), which is compatible with all Bluetooth-equipped phones. And for in-ear headphones, try Sennheiser’s MX 686G Sport earbuds (reviewed here).

Home entertainment

Samsung UH55KU6300 55-inch 4K UHD TV

  • $549.99 – Samsung UN55KU6300 55-inch 4K UHD Smart LED TV (2016 model)
  • $649.99 – Samsung UN55KU6600 55-inch Curved 4K UHD Smart LED TV (2016 model)

Getting a Samsung 4K UHD TV for $550 is practically a steal—especially since Vizio, which has had a lock on affordable 4K UHD TVs for a while, currently is selling its own 55-inch 4K UHD TV for $650.

Heck, for $650, you can instead get a curved Samsung 4K UHD TV, if you’re into such a feature. (We don’t believe a curved screen is necessary for a TV, though.)

Kindle gear

Amazon Echo


  • $99.99 – Amazon Tap ($30 off)
  • $129.99 – Amazon Echo ($50 off)
  • $24.99 – Fire TV Stick ($15 off)
  • $69.99 – Fire TV ($30 off)
  • $79.99 – Fire TV and Antenna Bundle ($30 off)
  • $109.99 – Fire TV Gaming Edition ($30 off)
  • $49.99 – Kindle 6”, ad-supported Wi-Fi version ($30 off)
  • $69.99 – Kindle 6”, Wi-Fi version ($30 off)
  • $89.99 – Kindle Paperwhite, ad-supported Wi-Fi version ($30 off)
  • $109.99 – Kindle Paperwhite, Wi-Fi version ($30 off)
  • $159.99 – Kindle Paperwhite, ad-supported Wi-Fi + Free 3G version ($30 off)
  • $179.99 – Kindle Paperwhite, Wi-Fi + Free 3G version ($30 off)
  • $149.99 – Kindle Voyage, ad-supported Wi-Fi version ($50 off)
  • $169.99 – Kindle Voyage, Wi-Fi version ($50 off)
  • $219.99 – Kindle Voyage, ad-supported Wi-Fi + Free 3G version ($50 off)
  • $239.99 – Kindle Voyage, Wi-Fi + Free 3G version ($50 off)

It wouldn’t be Prime Day if Amazon didn’t have discounts for its house products. While the savings are relatively modest, these prices at least match, or are a little more generous than, the best sales we’ve seen. The exceptions are the Amazon Echo, which was cheapest during its $99 pre-order promotion, and the Amazon Fire TV Stick, which was $19 during its pre-order promotion.

Laptops and PC storage

Some discounts in Amazon’s PC category might please some very specific business users (like 20% off 3M Gold privacy filters). But some deals stood out—with a few partially for price, and partially because they come with a “buyer beware” caveat.


hp spectre 12 x2 beauty

  • $149.99 – Acer Cloudbook 14 Chromebook
  • $439.99 – HP Spectre x2 12″ 2-in-1 Laptop

The Acer Chromebook isn’t the fastest, given its Celeron processor and 2GB of RAM, but getting a 14-inch model for $150 is pretty good if you plan to stick to light web browsing.

Much, much, much more exciting is the $440 HP Spectre x2 (reviewed here), the current “Best Budget Surface Clone” winner in our Best PC laptops roundup. It’s like a Microsoft Surface, except features like a keyboard cover and LTE support come included. We already liked it a lot at $800 MSRP, so at 45% off it’s a no-brainer.


SanDisk Ultra II 960GB SATA III SSD

  • $22.99 – SanDisk Ultra Fit 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive
  • $94.99 – SanDisk Ultra II 480GB SATA III SSD
  • $139.99 – Crucial MX300 750GB SATA III SSD
  • $164.99 – SanDisk Ultra II 960GB SATA III SSD

Let’s talk prices first. All four items are the lowest we’ve seen for those capacities: The USB drive usually sells for $30, while the previous best price for the SanDisk Ultra II 960GB SSD was $180. The Crucial MX300 750GB drive just released last month, and has been holding steady at its MSRP of $200. And though the SanDisk Ultra II 480GB SSD’s discount isn’t quite as steep (it hovered around $100 during mid-to-late November last year), $95 is still very good.

That said, you may be rolling the reliability dice with the SanDisk drives. While I’ve personally had a positive experience with the 480GB SSD, enough user reviews speak of heat issues (for the flash drive) and full drive failure (for the SSDs) to warrant caution.

Video games


  • $29.99 – Doom (PC)
  • $84.99 – Doom Collector’s Edition (PC)

Happily, this is a true deal. These prices are some of the best we’ve seen for Doom (reviewed here), an excellent remake of the classic ’90s first-person shooter. The only downside, if there has to be one, is that these are physical copies of the game—so you won’t get the same immediate gratification as a online code.

Wireless hardware

Many of the best Prime Day tech deals fall within this category. Fans of mobile virtual network operators like Cricket and Republic Wireless get a bit of a break, as do folks who prefer inexpensive unlocked phones. Folks who love Huawei are in for a particular treat: Not only do the Nexus 6P and Honor 5X get hefty discounts, nine variations of the Huawei Watch do, too.


Speck Products PixelSkin HD Rubberized Case for iPhone 5/5s  - Pomodoro Red

  • Up to 30% off Select Cell Phone Cases – Includes iPhone 5/5s, iPhone 6/6s, Samsung Galaxy S6, and Samsung Galaxy S7)
  • $0.99 – Cricket Wireless SIM card

Cricket Wireless charges $10 for a SIM card purchased online, and $20 in-store. At $1, switching to the AT&T subsidary becomes much cheaper if you’re bringing your own device (BYOD).


Nexus 6P

  • Save $100 off the LG G5 (Silver)
  • Save $100 off the LG G5 (Titan)
  • Save $150 off the Nextbit Robin Factory Unlocked Phone (Midnight)
  • Save $150 off the Nextbit Robin Factory Unlocked Phone (Mint)
  • $119.99 – Honor 5X 16GB, Gold
  • $119.99 – Honor 5X 16GB, Grey
  • $119.99 – Honor 5X 16GB, Silver
  • $129.00 – Republic Wireless Moto G (3rd gen) 8GB Phone, Black
  • $129.00 – Republic Wireless Moto G (3rd gen) 8GB Phone, White
  • $403.75 – Nexus 6P 64GB, Gold
  • $403.75 – Nexus 6P 64GB, Graphite
  • $403.75 – Nexus 6P 64GB, Silver
  • $478.75 – Nexus 6P 128GB, Graphite
  • $478.75 – Nexus 6P 128GB, Silver

Republic Wireless currently charges $180 for the same Moto G model on its website, so $130 is a very good price for what was last year’s best $200 smartphone. (Note: Republic Wireless phones will only work on Republic Wireless’s network.)

If you need a bring-your-own-device for the same price, you can instead opt for the Honor 5X. At $200, it was already a good choice as a starter phone. Knocking $80 off the price makes it an easy buy.

The discounts on the Nexus 6P (reviewed here) drop an excellent phone down to equally excellent prices. Both the 64GB and 128GB versions are the lowest we’ve seen: Previously, the best price for a new 64GB Nexus 6P was $469 with a $50 retailer gift card bonus, and $500 for a new 128GB Nexus 6P.


Huawei Watch - Stainless Steel w/ Black Leather Band Version

  • $175.99 – Huawei Watch (Stainless Steel w/ Black Leather Strap)
  • $206.99 – Huawei Watch (Stainless Steel w/ Stainless Steel Link Band)
  • $206.99 – Huawei Watch (Stainless Steel w/ Stainless Steel Mesh Band)
  • $240.99 – Huawei Watch (Black Stainless Steel w/ Black Stainless Steel Link Band)
  • $239.99 – Huawei Watch (Gold/Pearl)
  • $239.99 – Huawei Watch (Gold/Sapphire)
  • $323.99 – Huawei Watch (Jewel/Pearl)
  • $329.99 – Huawei Watch (Jewel/Sapphire)
  • $350.99 – Huawei Watch (Rose Gold Plated Stainless Steel w/ Brown Leather Strap)

The list price for the Huawei Watch starts at $350—so if you’ve been waiting for it to drop in price, now’s your chance to grab one for a lot less cash. The base model is almost 50% off, while other models with blingier designs that use gold-plated metal and/or Swarovski crystals also have gotten large price cuts.


The tiny Klug home promises massive wi-fications in what we ought to assume of hubs and controllers


in case you live in a related home, you’ve possibly spent a notable deal of time customizing it for yourdesires and possibilities. That’s because the smart domestic is sincerely rather dumb, till you’ve investeda while teaching it: even as some cleverhome componentsconsisting of the Nest thermostat—areable to gaining knowledge of on their own, there aren’t any linkeddomestic hubs that do. The Klugdomestic guarantees to change that.

The Klug home, from Singapore-based Intraix, is a $seventy nine smart hub that plugs into one amongyour router’s USB ports. it is to be had for preorder on Indiegogo, with shipping anticipated in October 2016. The hub can manage c084d04ddacadd4b971ae3d98fecfb2a and ZigBee gadgets at once, through atelephone app, and it’s going to also be capable of engage with different linkeddomestic structuresand gadgets, which include Samsung’s SmartThings, Nest merchandise, Philips’ Hue lighting, and the Netatmo weather Station. The Klug domestic will reply to voice commands via manner of Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Google Now.

The Klug home‘s most promising characteristic is its devicemastering set of rules which could researcha consumer‘s choices, combine that with information obtained from sensors and other gadgets beneathits manipulate, and routinely adjust your cleverhome systems, together with lighting fixtures and HVAC. The employer supplied one instance wherein a home‘s air conditioner turns on in advance of a FitBit wearer returning from a run, in order that the home is at just the right temperature whilst he arrivesdomestic.

“We’ve designed Klug home to concentrate, learn and understand your habits and preferences at home,” Intraix co-founder Bryan Lee explains. “It receives smarter because it receives to know you higher and isable to develop unmarried contexts across the more than one gadgets that you personal and usemost.”

Klug home attracts energy out of your router’s USB port, so it does not need an AC adapter of its very own, and its small wi-fi to be unobtrusive even in case you go away your router out in plain website. Intraix says a single Klug domestic, powered by using a 32-bit ARM Cortex M3 manner, can talk with at least 20smartdomestic gadgets.

Why this matters: This being a crowd-funding marketing campaign, we’re going to keep a show-meattitude until we can land bodily hardware that we will examine. however the idea of a linkeddomestichub which could study and adapt makes lots of experience and should not be that wireless to attain.


Neuronal feedback could change what we ‘see’

Ever see something that isn’t really there? Could your mind be playing tricks on you? The “tricks” might be your brain reacting to feedback between neurons in different parts of the visual system, according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience by Carnegie Mellon University Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Sandra J. Kuhlman and colleagues.

Understanding this feedback system could provide new insight into the visual system’s neuronal circuitry and could have further implications for understanding how the brain interprets and understands sensory stimuli.

Many optical illusions make you see something that’s not there. Take the Kanizsa triangle: when you place three Pac-Man-like wedges in the right spot, you see a triangle, even though the edges of the triangle aren’t drawn.

“We see with both our brain and our eyes. Your brain is making inferences that allow you to see the triangle. It’s connecting the dots between the corners of the wedges,” said Kuhlman, who is a member of Carnegie Mellon’s BrainHubneuroscience initiative and the joint Carnegie Mellon/University of Pittsburgh Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC). “Optical illusions illustrate some of the amazing things our visual system can do.”

When we look at an object, information about what we see travels through circuits of neurons beginning in the retina, through the thalamus and into the brain’s visual cortex. In the visual cortex, the information gets processed in multiple stages and is ultimately sent to the prefrontal cortex — the area of the brain that makes decisions, including how to respond to a given stimulus.

However, not all information stays on this forward moving path. At the secondary stage of processing in the visual cortex some neurons reverse course and send information back to the first stage of processing. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon wondered if this feedback could change how the neurons in the visual cortex respond to a stimulus and alter the messages being sent to the prefrontal cortex.

While there has been a good deal of research studying how information moves forward through the visual system, less has been done to study the impact of the information that moves backward. To find out if the information traveling from the secondary stage of processing back to the first stage impacted how information is encoded in the visual system, the researchers needed to quantify the magnitude of information that was being sent from the second stage back to the first stage. Using a mouse model, they recorded normal neuronal firing in the first stage of the visual cortex as the mouse looked at moving patterns that represented edges. They then silenced the neurons in the second stage using modified optogenetic technology. This halted the feedback of information from the second stage back to the first stage, and allowed the researchers to determine how much of the neuronal activity in the first stage of visual processing was the result of feedback.

Twenty percent of the neuronal activity in the visual cortex was the result of feedback, a concept Kuhlman calls reciprocal connectivity. This indicates that some of the information coming from the visual cortex is not a direct response to a visual stimuli, but is a response to how the stimuli was perceived by higher cortical areas.

The feedback, she says, might be what causes our brain to complete the undrawn lines in the Kanizsa triangle. But more importantly, it signifies that studying neuronal feedback is important to our understanding of how the brain works to process stimuli.

“This represents a new way to study visual perception and neural computation. If we want to truly understand the visual pathway, and cortical function in general, we have to understand these reciprocal connection,” Kuhlman said

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