IRL Week, Nightmare Kangaroos, and What Slammed Into Uranus: Best Gizmodo Stories of the Week

Photo: Getty/Ryan F. Mandelbaum/MGM. Illustration: Gizmodo.

For the past week, we here at Gizmodo have been celebrating IRL Week: A series of stories dedicated to appreciating the remaining slice of our existence that is experienced offline. We’ve covered everything from how spray sunscreen is kind of terrible and the quiet joy of birdwatching to Airbnb horror stories and what, exactly, a map is.

But you can hear it, can’t you? That once-distant voice has grown louder, and now there’s the sound of claws scratching at the door, trying to get in. It has tracked you and it has pursued you and it has found you, the online, and it yearns to pull you back into its infinite void. Must you fear it? Will you fight it? Or will you accept it? It is time to log back in.


Or, since you’re reading this page, you already have. So now that you’ve succumbed to the digital aether once more, you might as well start catching up by reading all the best Gizmodo stories of the past week.

Don’t Use Spray Sunscreen

This is not the way to apply sunscreen.
Photo: Joe Robbins ( Getty)

I love sunscreen. I wear it everyday—even in the winter, even when it’s overcast. Applying sunscreen regularly is one of the few things you can do to directly prevent cancer (skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US). It’s also the best anti-aging product you can use. Do you know why older skin gets dull, wrinkled, and spotted? It’s because of years of exposure to the sun.

But there is one sunscreen I do not love: spray sunscreen. Spray sunscreen takes everything that is good and holy about sunscreen and destroys it. Lotion sunscreen gives you a small element of control and security in this chaotic world; spray sunscreen merely introduces more chaos.


How Apple’s New Software Turned My Life Upside Down

Illustration: Apple / Gizmodo

Software updates are exciting. I keep telling my friends this, and when they get behind on their updates, I’m all, “Hey, you’re missing out on good stuff!” This is part of the reason why I’m sometimes the guy who downloads beta versions of software. The bugs are annoying, but hey, the features are better. This approach recently backfired on me with macOS and iOS 12. Unexpectedly, I think the resulting disaster made me a better computer user.

Did Something Massive Smash Into Uranus?

Two views of Uranus.
Image: ESA/Hubble

You might be aware of one of Uranus’ complexities: It spins on its side, and its moons orbit on that same rotated plane. New evidence strengthens the case that Uranus was smashed in a giant collision, resulting in its sideways orientation to its orbital plane and perhaps explaining some of the planet’s other mysteries.

A new paper performs a series of simulations on Uranus early in its history, taking note of what an early impact may have done to its rotation rate, atmosphere, and internal structure. The impact could have left a clear signature still visible inside the planet we see today.


Asteroid Mining Might Just Work—If Only We Can Land on the Dang Things

Illustration: Sam Woolley (Gizmodo)

The Rosetta mission’s Philae lander descended toward the two-and-a-half-mile-wide comet at a human’s walking pace. For seven tense hours, scientists in Darmstadt, Germany monitored its radio signal. They would have no idea whether they’d done everything correctly until after the moment of touchdown. If all went well, the lander would press two harpoons into the dusty surface of 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, sticking itself firmly in place. If not, well, Philae could bounce right off and be lost to space, or it could be sucked into a pit of soft dust.

How Birdwatching Got Me to Finally Log Off and Actually Go Outside

The author IRL birding.
Photo: Ryan F. Mandelbaum

Waking up in New York City can be like a safari—all you need to do is listen rather than open your phone the second your alarm goes off. I might notice five different species from my bed: sparrows cheeping, blue jays jay-ing, mourning doves cooing, cardinals pewing, and even a chickadee, well, chicka-dee-dee-deeing.

If you’re reading this and you aren’t a birder, you might feel a lot like I used to feel: a little run-down from the constant onslaught of news but generally unwilling or unable to log off, even on weekends or holidays, due to your profession or web obsession. But after giving birds a chance, I have finally found a way to log off, save for a couple of useful apps and websites—and the fact that my recent history as a birder is basically an earnest expanding brain meme.


Ant-Man and the Wasp’s Quantum Realm Has Teases of Marvel’s Future

Keep a close eye on the Quantum Realm in Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Image: Disney

When you see Ant-Man and the Wasp, keep your eyes peeled on the Quantum Realm. It may hold the keys to the future.

“Like the first movie there are clues in the Quantum Realm to other possibilities and things,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told io9. “I’m talking frames [of film].”


In the first Ant-Man, fans long believed that when Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) went into the Quantum Realm, there were a few frames of Janet Van Dyne, a.k.a. the Wasp, in there. The theory was, because she popped up, she’d play a role in the sequel. While it was incredibly subtle, Feige and Ant-Man and the Wasp director Peyton Reed both confirmed that was true (see the image here)—and in the sequel, they did something similar.

I Really Hope HTC Doesn’t Go Out Like This

Photo: Sam Rutherford ( Gizmodo)

After years of declining sales, unloading $1 billion worth of patents and personnel to Google, and just recently slashing 25 percent of its global workforce, when it comes to HTC, I got one big question: So what’s left? Sure, HTC may have been able insulate its promising Vive VR business by spinning that department off into a separate company. But as for HTC itself, if all the company has left in the tank is its upcoming crypto phone and this, the new U12+, things aren’t looking good.

Milk & Cheese Creator Evan Dorkin Talks About His Weird, Brilliant Career in Comics

Covers for three of Evan Dorkin’s projects.
Image: Evan Dorkin and Veronica Fish ( Dark Horse Comics)

Evan Dorkin can’t stop, won’t stop making comics. Or talking. In both instances, we are all very lucky that this is the case.

After I got off an hour-long phone call with Dorkin last week, the creator of Milk & Cheese and Beasts of Burden sent me a short e-mail:

“Hope you can make some use of my rambling. I’m just someone who is unable to answer questions even with notes in front of me that say things like, ‘just answer the question.’”


The insistent, unfiltered energy that comes out when Dorkin speaks has been all over his comics pages for three decades. It’s there in Milk & Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad, a new trade paperback from Dark Horse Comics that pulls together the chaotic, breakneck gag strips featuring his cult favorite creations. Even Beasts of Burden—the cute, vulgarity-free comics series focused on a group of animals, who also happen to be paranormal investigators, that Dorkin creates with artist Jill Thompson—has characters who channel the ornery vibe of Dorkin’s ethos. His newest series Blackwood, co-created with artist Veronica Fish, revolves around students who suddenly learn that the dark forces they’re studying are a much more imminent threat than they’d thought.

Alexa, Is My House on Fire?

Photo: Patrick Lucas Austin ( Gizmodo)

Many devices are now pulling double-duty these days. Game consoles are entertainment streaming devices. Smartwatches tell you the time while also telling you which of your coworkers is demanding your attention. Lightbulbs are burglar deterrents, at least when they’re not setting the mood. So Onelink’s Safe and Sound, a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm with an integrated speaker and voice assistant, isn’t exactly a far-fetched concept. It is, however, indicative of a future where connected devices aren’t just for nerds. You might not need a voice assistant, smartwatch, or a ceiling-mounted speaker, but everyone needs a smoke alarm. Whether you need a $250 smoke alarm is another.

A Look Back at Warriors of Virtue, a Kangaroo-Filled Nightmare That Haunted Me for Years

The five Warriors of Virtue.
Photo: MGM

When I was a kid, I had a recurring nightmare in which I was being chased by a group of gigantic kangaroos hellbent on murdering me. For years, I couldn’t understand where the dreams came from—until recently, when I offhandedly mentioned them to my boyfriend.

The Tech Gods Won’t Save You

Photo: Getty

In times of great strife and uncertainty, it’s natural to look for heroes, leaders whom we can point to and say, “that right there, that’s what we believe in.” In a more armorial age, these heroes were warriors and generals. Throughout the political turmoil of the 20th century, champions of conscience earned our admiration. These days, it seems, being a rich doofus with a single benevolent bone in your body is enough.

Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being a doofus. This author might be accurately described as one. But take a look at social media, and you’ll get the sense that many of us are banking on the divine intervention of Silicon Valley’s gawkiest gods. We would be better off praying to an iPod.


Try to Top My Airbnb Horror Story

Illustration: Chelsea Beck ( Gizmodo)

I should start by saying I do not hate Airbnb. Actually, despite its shortcomings, I love it, and I use the app almost exclusively when I’m traveling for leisure. I’ve had plenty of great experiences: a villa on the beach of a surf island in the Philippines, a cabin in Scotland with a fireplace complete with a perfect-for-Instagram wood chopping station, a glass house optimal for Aurora viewing in Iceland... but this is not those stories.

How to Walk

Photo: Adam Fagen ( Flickr)

A girl falls into a manhole, another lady face-plants on some stairs, and one guy almost gets mauled by a goddam bear. At this point, we’re way past ridiculous, and it’s all happening simply because people are walking around like techno zombies whose life-forces are seemingly sustained by the digital fix coming out of their phones. So the next time you go for a stroll, I implore you: Put the phone down, pick your head up, and walk.

AT&T’s WatchTV Is the Very Cheapest Way to Stream Live TV, But Is It Worth It?

Image: AT&T WatchTV, Gizmodo

AT&T, despite owning DirecTV and thus the live TV streaming service DirecTV Now, just launched another: AT&T WatchTV. Like DirecTV Now, it streams live TV to nearly every kind of mobile device and set-top box. Like DirecTV Now, it has an easy-to-navigate interface. Unlike DirecTV Now, AT&T WatchTV is the cheapest way to stream live TV. No cable subscription required, just $15 a month.

The Best ‘Streaming’ Service of All Is Your Local Library

Photo: AP

Faced with a seemingly infinite number of media subscription services, it is sometimes necessary for the modern content consumer to ask which ones are actually worth it and which ones are basically a scam monetizing our collective need for distraction and stimulation.

Spiders, Poison, and Boiling Water: The Best (and Worst) Ways to Kill Cockroaches

A hell spawn infiltrated my apartment. I retaliated.
Photo: Mike Keeling ( Flickr)

A few weeks ago, I was enjoying one of my favorite activities: reading an enthralling piece of fiction before bed. This time it was Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. Just as I was being transported to 20th-century Japan, I heard a loud, fluttering sound near my window. I saw some movement and assumed a moth had flown in. (No, my window does not have a screen. But my air conditioning was broken, and I needed some air flow, Thank You Very Much.)

Upon closer examination, I realized one of my deepest, darkest fears had been actualized: it was a cockroach.


I Survived Navigating Los Angeles Using Only This Ancient Technology

Photo: Melanie Ehrenkranz ( Gizmodo)

When I was in high school, before phones and cars directed you to your destination, I would sharpie directions on the tops of my hands so I could read them as I drove. It was an effective (if problematic) way to get from point A to point B without looking down at printed MapQuest directions, but it left no room for error. A friend of mine told me that, before she had a mobile navigation device, if she accidentally diverted from the directions she wrote down ahead of time, she would pull over and call her parents, describe her surroundings, and have them direct her back on course.

How Far Can You Get Away From Technology?

Illustration: Chelsea Beck (GIzmodo)

Everyone, from time to time—or at every single moment of every single day—wishes they could somehow escape technology. It’s not ultimately that fun to be inundated at all hours with the collapse of society, the weekend activities of people you barely knew ten years ago, bad memes, worse TV, etc. You can smash your phone, or delete those apps most obviously harmful to your mental health, but people will resent you for it, and besides, you won’t actually be escaping anything: You can close your eyes in a burning building, but you’ll still feel the flames.

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Tom McKay

"... An upperclassman who had been researching terrorist groups online." - Washington Post