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Shimoda Adventure 60 Backpack Review

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If you do a lot of hiking and long-distance treks as a photographer, you might have some difficulty finding a good backpack to carry your equipment. Sure, regular camera backpacks will protect your gear and allow quick access, but they might not be comfortable for long travels. The other option is to get a hiking backpack, which works for longer hikes, but won’t let you access your gear as easily (or potentially protect it as well). That’s where companies such as F-Stop Gear and Gura Gear jump in with something in between — hiking bags built around carrying cameras. There’s a new company on the scene, too: Shimoda Design. I’ve been testing out the Shimoda Adventure 60 bag over the past month, and it ticks a lot of boxes for what this sort of bag should be. Below is my review, along with the pros and cons of this intriguing new backpack.

Shimoda Adventure 60
The Shimoda Adventure 60 Backpack

1) Specifications

Before starting the review, here are some important specifications of the Shimoda Adventure 60 backpack:

  • Top, rear, and side access to the interior of the bag
  • Rear access via the compartment that touches your back; opens book-style, from right to left (explained in detail below)
  • Separate top zippered pocket on the top of the bag for accessories, which also has a zippered mesh divider within
  • A couple accessory pouches on the shoulder straps, as well as a water bottle holder
  • Large, flat zippered pocket from the top to bottom of the bag on the outside; meant for carrying a snow shovel, water bladder, jacket, laptop, or similar
  • Two internal sections separated by a (removable) thin fabric divider; you’re meant to put your camera equipment in the bottom section by adding a separate “core unit”
  • Dimensions: 11 inches/28 cm deep, 11.4 inches/29 cm wide, 24 inches/61 cm tall
  • Weight: 3.3 lbs/1.5 kilos, without any of the camera units inside
  • 45 liter capacity that can expand to 60 liters
  • 13-inch laptop sleeve (which really is just 13 inches, and definitely couldn’t fit my 15-inch laptop; however, my laptop did fit in the top-to-bottom flat zippered pocket without issue)
  • Stabilizer straps
  • Sternum strap
  • Waist strap
  • Price: It depends upon which kit you select (since this is a Kickstarter project). The cheapest option for the Adventure 60 is $299, which — crucially — includes two small camera units as well. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have a good way to organize or structure your camera gear within the bag. There’s also an “early bird” option for $319 that includes an additional medium camera unit and an accessory case.

It’s worth mentioning that the company Shimoda was founded by Ian Millar, the former lead product designer at F-Stop Gear. If you’ve ever used an F-Stop product, you’ll notice a lot of shared DNA between those backpacks and this one, although there are some key differences as well. I’ll get into all that below.

Separate pouch accessory
A separate accessory case that comes with some of the Kickstarter packages.

2) Build and Weatherproofing

The Adventure 60 is built very well. The weatherproofing is excellent, and the lightweight canvas material is very difficult to scratch or damage.

Is it completely storm-proof? No hiking bags are invincible in extreme conditions, but this one does do, on balance, a very good job in bad weather. The canvas material across most of the bag is highly water resistant, and the most vulnerable part is the foam padding that presses against your back. If it’s raining particularly hard, water will start to soak through that area (although your back likely will block the worst of it).

The rest of the bag also has a solid build. The zippers are large enough not to jam easily, with tabs made out of leather. I did run into a few cases where the zipper for the main panel got slightly stuck, but nothing extreme. As a whole, this bag is built very well.

Top zippered pocket
This is the zipper for the top pocket, which is large enough to fit various accessories. It also has a separate, mesh zipped pocket on the inside, which acts as a useful divider.

3) Comfort

One big pro of hiking backpacks in general is that they are very comfortable — more so than a typical camera bag. The Adventure 60 doesn’t disappoint here, either.

For me, a bag is comfortable when it gets a few things right: the shoulder straps, waist strap, and back padding. It’s also important that the bag carries weight well, so as not to cause headaches or other pain during a hike.

The Adventure 60 manages all that quite well. The shoulder straps are wonderfully wide, distributing weight very well. You can even adjust their height to match your torso, which isn’t something I’ve ever seen on a camera backpack before. Well done.

The waist strap isn’t quite as padded as on other bags I’ve used, but it’s made of a soft foam material that makes it quite comfortable overall. Also, the bag as a whole carries weight excellently — it’s almost indistinguishable from a traditional hiking backpack, although I do wish that the shoulder straps were a bit farther apart (which is more of a personal comfort issue than something that applies to everyone; it depends upon your build).

The rear panel is the one area where you’ll find some compromises. In any backpack that allows the rear panel to open, there won’t be as much padding or breathability, simply due to space concerns. However, the Adventure 60 does better in this regard than either of my F-Stop bags (both of which also have an openable back panel), and the padding along the bottom is actually quite substantial. I wouldn’t say that it’s quite as breathable as a top-of-the-line hiking bag — and thus might not be the best choice for long, hot hikes through the desert — but it’s better than I expected in this respect. Overall, I give the bag top marks for comfort.

Rear panel padding
The padding on the rear panel is more substantial than you might expect. It isn’t perfectly breathable, but it’s better than most bags with this type of opening. Also, note the different loops and compartments on the shoulder straps themselves.

4) Features

Shimoda added in some nice extra features to the Adventure 60 that I suspect adventure photographers will enjoy.

One of the most visible is the loop that lets you attach a wide array of equipment to the front of the bag: a tripod, snow shovel, pickaxe, and anything you can think of. That’s what I did here:

Tripod and Shimoda Adventure 60
Attaching a tripod to the front straps of the backpack.

The specific feature that’s noteworthy here, though, is a loop that lets you thread the straps through to the other side. Essentially, you can attach a strap from one side of the bag to the other, but also divide it in half if you want to separate the left and right sides. Personally, I like this for carrying a tripod (which I’ll never carry in a side pocket due to the uneven weight). By threading the top and bottom straps through this center loop, I can put one tripod leg on either side and ensure that it doesn’t slide around while hiking.

Loop design Shimoda Adventure 60
The interesting loop system on the Adventure 60.

The Adventure 60 also has a few other noteworthy features: a safety whistle on the sternum strap, a water bladder system, a laptop sleeve, and several loops in various areas to let you hook on other accessories.

5) Space and access

Accessibility is the greatest strength of the Adventure 60, but, in some ways, also a weakness.

On the positive side: This bag is awesome at dividing up space. Specifically, my favorite feature — and the big reason why I’m switching away from my normal hiking backpack — is that the entire top compartment is separate from the bottom compartment, where you store your camera equipment. There’s a thin (removable) fabric divider between the two sections, and that makes a huge difference.

You can put a jacket in the top panel without worrying that it will slide down to the camera gear section and push against your back. You can throw an extra lens in the top compartment and know that it won’t slip down and bump against other equipment. If you’re like me, you’ll appreciate that you can overstuff the top compartment with all the hiking gear you need — food, a stove, extra socks, a rain jacket, and so on — without cramping your camera equipment at the bottom. That’s not a feature of very many bags, period — camera or hiking.

Another big benefit is that the internal camera units that Shimoda sells are perhaps the best combination of size and sturdiness that I’ve seen in the photography world. The camera units from F-Stop Gear, for example, are far less streamlined, with excess padding that makes it harder to fit as much equipment easily. Combined with the separation between the top and bottom compartments, the Adventure 60 is great for sorting your gear efficiently.

Internal camera units
The “medium” and “small” internal camera units. Currently, there is no “large.” These are very sturdy, lightweight, and streamlined designs. Count me a fan.
Book style rear panel opening
The medium unit fits quite well in the backpack. Above that, too, you can see a bit of the divider that separates the top and bottom internal compartments of the backpack. Note the “book cover” style opening of the rear panel; I’ll return to that in a moment.

But some of the bag’s weaknesses also involve access and storage. None of these are fatal weaknesses, at least for my uses, but some are more bothersome than others.

For example, Shimoda advertises “side access,” and that’s true — but only if you put one of the small internal camera units facing sideways, which causes it to fit poorly in the bottom section of the bag (it’s too small in that dimension, making it more likely to rattle around and not sit with perfect stability). If it’s really important that you can access your gear from the side, feel free to set up your camera units like that. Otherwise, at least for me, it’s not especially useful, and it takes up space on the side of the bag that could be used for something else.

Side pocket with loops
One of the two side pockets. This one isn’t very big, and it just has a couple loops inside, but the other one opens to the interior of the lower compartment (allowing side access to your equipment, if you set up your internal camera unit to face the proper direction).

What else could Shimoda have put here instead? For me, this goes right to the biggest issue with the bag as a whole — a water bottle pouch.

There are no side pouches on this bag to hold a water bottle. One of the two sides (the left side, if you’re wearing the bag) does open to a couple loops that, in theory, you could use to attach a water bottle holster via a couple carabiner clips. Or, if your water bottle is small enough, maybe you could fit it within the zippered opening itself, although it wouldn’t fit especially well.

The only pouch on the bag meant to hold a water bottle is on the shoulder strap, which is an especially odd place to put it, in my opinion. Not only is it a bit uncomfortable if your bottle is metal or hard plastic, but this decision also dramatically limits the size of a bottle that you can carry. In the photo below, you can see that a “smartwater” brand bottle barely fits, and (in terms of diameter) that’s not an especially large bottle:

Water bottle pouch
Not the ideal spot to carry a lot of water.

So, then, how does Shimoda expect hikers to bring along their one liter per hour? The answer goes back to something I mentioned earlier — the water bladder holder. If you do have a water bladder, there’s a built-in system that lets you thread the tube conveniently to the right-hand shoulder strap, just like a typical hiking backpack. One problem: The water bladder compartment is on the front of the bag — the same area that your tripod (or snow shovel, or pickaxe) will be bouncing around as you hike. Not only does that harm the weight distribution of the bag (water is heavy, and it’s not ideal to be so far away from your back), but it also makes your hydration system more prone to bumps and damage over time.

Water bladder pocket
This is the pocket where a water bladder fits, although it certainly can be used for other purposes, too.

All Shimoda needs to do here is add a large, stretchable water bottle pocket to one side of the bag, or both. Personally, I would prefer that (by a wide margin) rather than a thin zippered compartment that contains nothing except for two loops!

Personally, then, how do I carry water with this bag? Unless I have my full water bladder system set up, I just put the bottle in the top internal section of the bag. It’s not too bad, but it does mean I need to take off the bag each time in order to open the top compartment and access my water bottle. The alternative is to use a separate carabiner system to attach a water bottle holster to the side of the bag. I don’t have something like that at the moment, but I might end up purchasing one, depending upon how big of an issue this becomes.

6) Opening the Rear Panel

The only other criticism I have of the Adventure 60 is the style of opening for the rear panel.

If you’ve ever used an F-Stop Gear backpack, you’ll know that they have a “drawbridge” opening style, where the rear panel opens from top to bottom. Shimoda decided, instead, to use a “book cover” style, where the panel opens from right to left.

That decision perplexed me, so I reached out to Ian Millar, founder of Shimoda, to hear his comments. He named three reasons for this choice:

  1. In poor weather conditions, the book-style door works as a better shield against the wind and elements.
  2. This design allows a 13-inch laptop sleeve.
  3. With drawbridge-style bags, your body gets in the way of the panel, and you might have to hold it open with your chin while accessing gear.

I can see the reasoning behind these points. For some people, a book-style opening could indeed be a better fit than a drawbridge style. Personally, though, I wish that Shimoda stuck with the F-Stop Gear style of a drawbridge opening for a few reasons:

  1. It’s easier for equipment to fall out of your bag this way, without the panel to lean against as it opens.
  2. With the book-style opening, the bottom section of zipper is much more susceptible to dirt and grime over time, since it’s so close to the ground, especially when you put the bag down to access the top section.
  3. The bottom zipper can be tough to reach, ergonomically speaking, if the bag is standing upright (and the zipper is close to the ground).

I would prefer the drawbridge style, personally. I don’t know if that’s how most people would feel, and you might favor the other, but it does strike me as a bit of an odd design choice.

Sand in zippers
Good news: The very bottom of the bag is a great waterproof material, which is exactly how it should be. Bad news: It’s easy for sand or dirt to get into the bottom part of the zipper. (I didn’t stage this photo; this happened after I set the bag down on wet sand in order to access the top compartment.)

7) Recommendations

The Adventure 60 is an excellent backpack.

It does have negatives, like all bags. For me, the biggest issue is that it doesn’t have a good water carrying system, which is almost baffling given the close attention to detail elsewhere on the bag. It’s not an unforgivable issue — after all, you’ll certainly find some way to carry a water bottle in the end — but this is something I hope Shimoda fixes with the next iteration.

Same goes for the rear panel opening. I’m not a huge fan of the book-style opening, since I think it makes it more difficult to access gear, as well as making the zipper more vulnerable over time, without much payoff. Again, this alone shouldn’t deter you from buying the bag, but it’s not ideal.

Other than that? I have minor nitpicks here and there, but there’s really nothing else that struck me as profoundly negative. I really like this bag. It is wonderfully comfortable, and it blends the best parts of a hiking and camera bag together quite effectively. Although it isn’t flawless, I like it enough to switch out my main hiking backpack for this one, which is not something I expected to do.

Pros:

  • Excellent internal camera units, along with the internal division between the top and bottom halves of the bag
  • Very comfortable with great padding — far more comfortable than a typical camera backpack for long hikes
  • Well-made design with strong fabric, good weatherproofing, and several options for attaching equipment to the outside of the bag

Cons:

  • Odd system for carrying water — a small pouch on one shoulder strap, and a large section that can accommodate a water bladder, with nothing in between (except for loops if you’re using a carabiner-based water holster system)
  • The book-style rear opening has some usability drawbacks, without, in my mind, any significant benefits
  • Breathability isn’t perfect, although that is to be expected for a bag that opens via a rear panel
Bottom loop
It’s a little dusty and dirty after a month of use, but that’s how a camera bag should be!

8) Conclusion

The Shimoda Adventure 60 is an ambitious bag. Aside from a couple dings, I believe that it lives up to its goals.

There won’t ever be a perfect bag, because everyone has different needs and requirements. Personally? This backpack works quite well for what I do. It has better access to camera equipment than any hiking bag I’ve ever used, and a high level of comfort and overall quality, too.

It may or may not meet that standard for you. A high-tech hiking backpack still wins out on overall comfort for long-distance hikes, for example, if that matters more than anything else for your needs. The same is true if you don’t need to do huge expeditions where you’re carrying camping equipment and a camera kit on your back simultaneously — in that case, a normal camera backpack might be a better fit, and it certainly would be less expensive. The $299 price for the base model of the Adventure 60 definitely is pricy, although it’s not more expensive than comparable hiking backpacks or F-Stop Gear equipment (especially since this price includes two small camera units).

So, if you straddle the line between hiking and photography, and you’ve had a hard time finding a good product for your needs, take a solid look at the Shimoda line. Personally, I would rate these bags as solidly better than the F-Stop Gear equivalents — and, by extension, most other hiking/photo bag combos on the market.

Currently, Shimoda is working on a Kickstarter to bring this bag, as well as a few others, to market. At the time of this article, the project already met more than double the initial fundraising goal, so it is extremely likely that the bag will make it to a more typical market eventually (though, as a Kickstarter project, there can be no guarantee). Here’s the link, which also contains additional information about the bags (including a smaller, 40 liter version, as well as a rolling bag):

Let me know below if you have any questions about this bag or my review! I’ve been using the Adventure 60 for just over a month, and I’ll do my best to address anything you want to know.

Shimoda Adventure 60 Backpack
  • Features
  • Build Quality
  • Accessibility and Pockets
  • Storage Space
  • Comfort
  • Size and Weight
  • Value

Photography Life Overall Rating

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Satellites captured a dense plume of dust blanketing the landscape of Alaska’s south coast on Nov. 15. Take a Look: https://t.co/vRCxTYT8OR https://t.co/d1HkA5wf6O



Wsken Mini2 Magnetic Charging Cable

http://toolsandtoys.net wsken-mini2-magnetic-charging-cable

Wireless charging may be [Howard Hughes voice] the way of the future, but until everyone’s jumped aboard that train, we’ll still be dealing with the same issue charger cables have always had: getting yanked around by us either tripping over them or forgetting to unplug them before exiting a car or something.

Wsken’s 6.56-foot Mini2 magnetic charging cable is here to make these situations better. It comes with two little connector plugs — one Lightning, one micro-USB — either of which can be left in their respective devices indefinitely. The cable then magnetically clicks onto either one, with an LED indicator that lets you know it’s charging. Super convenient.

There’s a tradeoff here: The magnetic plugs do stick out a bit, but on the plus side they keep dust and the like out of the devices’ charging ports. And if you’re worried about either plug getting stuck in a device, a plastic pry plank is included to assist you there.

Get the Wsken Mini2 cable for $24 on Amazon

Buy Now

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DipClips Will Make It Safer For You To Drive And Dip McNuggies

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If you’re the type of person who likes to eat your food while driving, you can know how dangerous it can be to hold your sauce in one hand and dip your Chicken McNuggies with the other, oh I guess you have to occasionally keep your steering wheel from veering you into oncoming traffic too, but whatever. For years, we’ve been crying out for a better solution, and now I think our prayers have been answered.

It’s called DipClip and it’s here to change your life. It’s a clip that attaches to your air vent, that will allow you to safely dip your nuggies or potato sticks in that sweet BBQ or Honey Mustard. I suppose you could also use it for Sweet and Sour sauce, but that’s gross, don’t do that.

It’s made of ABS plastic, should it should hold up pretty well, just don’t go slam dunking your nugs. And as you can tell, it’s design is intended to be compatible with most major fast food chains from Arby’s to some food chain that starts with Z.

Available for pre-order at Kickstarter for $10.

Hit the jump for more beautiful shots and a video of off-road dunking and driving.

CoolThings ]

Source: http://www.ohgizmo.com



Nothing Can Be More Festive Than This Ellen Ripley Ornament From Aliens

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Sci-fi fans will love this Christmas ornament based on the phenomenal sequel to the original alien horror movie, Aliens. The ornament shows our lead protagonist from the movie (and certified badass) Ellen Ripley, as she suits up in the P-5000 Power Loader and prepares to take on the Queen Alien (a.k.a. “You Bitch”).

It comes from the Hallmark line of Christmas decorations, which previously gave us some other great looking ornaments based on pop-culture franchises such as, Star Wars, Disney and, most notably, A Christmas Story. Yea, we have some of those in my house.

The ornaments look great, and are known for the quality reproduction, and this one looks no different. The Ellen Ripley Power Loader ornament can be yours this Christmas and will run you a cool $20.

Amazon ]

Source: http://www.ohgizmo.com



iPhone SE 2 Again Rumored to Launch in First Half of 2018

http://ift.tt/1ZNziIk Apple will release a second-generation iPhone SE in the first half of 2018, according to China’s Economic Daily News.



The report claims the tentatively named iPhone SE 2 will be assembled exclusively by Taiwanese manufacturer Wistron at its factory in Bengaluru, India, where some assembly of the current iPhone SE occurs.

The rumored release date window lines up with an earlier report from Focus Taiwan claiming a new iPhone SE will ship in the first quarter of 2018, which encompasses January through March of next year.

Apple introduced the current iPhone SE at a media event on March 21, 2016, and the device launched later that month. Given the rumored launch dates, the iPhone SE 2 could certainly be unveiled in March too.

Indian website Tekz24 previously reported that the next-generation iPhone SE will be powered by Apple’s A10 Fusion chip, with 2GB of RAM, 32GB and 128GB storage capacities, a 12-megapixel rear camera, a five-megapixel front camera, and a slightly larger 1,700 mAh battery.

Tekz24 isn’t a website we’re familiar with, and it doesn’t have an established track record of reporting on Apple rumors, so don’t place too much faith in those tech specs until if and when they are confirmed by other sources.

The current iPhone SE looks much like the iPhone 5s, including its smaller four-inch display preferred by a subset of customers. The device is powered by Apple’s A9 chip, like the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, and it has 2GB of RAM, a 12-megapixel rear camera, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and Touch ID.

Apple hasn’t entirely refreshed the iPhone SE since it launched, but it did double the available storage capacities to 64GB and 128GB in March. It also dropped the device’s starting price to $349 a few months ago.

Related Roundup: iPhone SE
Tag: udn.com
Buyer’s Guide: iPhone SE (Caution)

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D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD Security Camera

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Secure your premesis with confidence when you use the D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD Security Camera. Complete with an 180-degree wide-angle lens, this device gives you the full picture every time. Connecting to your home’s Wi-Fi network, the Omna Camera also functions with Apple HomeKit for a seamless security system.

Learn More About D-Link Omna 180 Cam

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Pre-Black Friday Sale: Dash Buttons, Status Audio Headphones, and Rollibot Vacuum Cleaner

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Status Audio Closed Back Studio Monitor 

Audio professionals, you only deserve the best headphones to tackle your jobs. Here’s the Status Audio Closed Back Studio Monitor. It’s equipped with 50 mm drivers that deliver its premium sound quality. Ear pads are ergonomic so you can comfortably wear them all throughout long studio rehearsals. Plus, they’re foldable so you can keep it in your bag and not eat up much space. Get it for only $55 today.

Rollibot Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

This Rollibot Robotic Vacuum Cleaner not only sweeps, mops, and vacuums. It also sterilizes with UV and removes pet hair and allergens with its HEPA Filter. It’s the ultimate robot cleaner that will clean your home and protect the health of your family. It’s up for sale for only $144 today.

Dash Button

Fond of Dash buttons? They make your life easier and today’s a good day to get more for other products. A lot of Dash buttons are on sale today for only $2.49 a piece. Those on sale are Dash buttons for Tide, Charmin, Pampers, Keurig, Kleenex, Ziploc, and more.

Source: http://www.ohgizmo.com



Apple Shares Research into Self-Driving Car Software That Improves Obstacle Detection

http://ift.tt/1ZNziIk Apple computer scientists working on autonomous vehicle technology have posted a research paper online describing how self-driving cars can spot cyclists and pedestrians using fewer sensors (via Reuters).

The paper by Yin Zhou and Oncel Tuzel was submitted to online independent journal arXiv on November 17, in what appears to be Apple’s first publicly disclosed research on autonomous vehicle technology.



The paper is titled "End-to-End Learning for Point Cloud Based 3D Object Detection", and describes how new software developed by Apple scientists improves the ability of LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) systems to recognize objects including pedestrians and cyclists from a distance.

Self-driving cars typically use a combination of standard cameras and depth-sensing LiDAR units to receive information about the world around them.

Apple’s research team said they were able to get "highly encouraging results" using LiDAR data alone to spot cyclists and pedestrians, and wrote that they were also able to beat other approaches for detecting 3D objects that rely solely on LiDAR tech. The experiments were limited to computer simulations and did not advance to road tests.

Apple famously has a secretive research policy and has kept its work under wraps for many years, but over the last 12 months, the company has shared some of its research advancements with other researchers and the wider public, particularly in the area of machine learning.

In December 2016, Apple said that it would start allowing its AI and machine learning researchers to publish and share their work in papers, with the first paper appearing just a few weeks following the announcement.

Additionally, in July of this year, Apple researchers initiated the "Apple Machine Learning Journal", a blog detailing their work on machine learning, AI, and other related topics.

This new policy of openness could help Apple retain employees who do not want to keep their progress a secret, but the latest research into autonomous vehicle technology also lets regulators see that the company is making progress in this area. Last December, Apple told federal regulators it was excited about the technology and asked them not to restrict testing. In April, the company also filed a self-driving car testing plan with California regulators.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has called autonomy "the mother of all AI projects". During an August 2017 earnings call, Cook re-emphasized Apple’s deep interest in the technology, and even hinted Apple’s work on autonomy could be used for more than vehicles.

Apple has presumably been working on an autonomous driving system since 2014, when rumors of its efforts to create an electric vehicle first surfaced. Apple has now moved away from creating a full vehicle and is said to be focusing on self-driving technology instead.

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Stranger Things Cast Answers Google Autofill Questions About The Show

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Here’s a neat video of Stranger Things cast members Gaten Matarazzo and Joe Keery answering questions that appear in Google’s Search Results.

The questions all relate to the topic of the show and range from “Is Stanger Things like the Goonies?” to “Does Stranger Things Get better?”. Oh, and apparently a lot of people think Stanger Things is written by Stephen King.

It’s a short video, but it should help to hold you over until Stranger Things Season 3 releases and answers some of the burning question we have. And hey, if you watch the video 64,388 times in a row, you’ll make it Season 3! (I did the math)

Hit the jump for the video.

Source: http://www.ohgizmo.com