Hyundai Venue gets a clutchless 6-speed manual in India, and we’re very jealous

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The Intelligent Manual Transmission isn’t much bulkier than a standard one.

Hyundai India

It should be no surprise to anyone that we here at Roadshow are big fans of manual transmissions. They increase driver engagement and make just about anything that has one more fun than its automatic or dual-clutch counterparts. The thing is, a lot of people don’t know how to use a clutch, or they have medical conditions or injuries that prevent them from using one. How do we get these people rowing their own gears?

Hyundai’s Indian arm might have a solution, and it’s something we haven’t seen in a production car in a long time: a clutchless manual transmission, which it announced earlier this month. Yep, you read that right. A manual gearbox with a regular shifter, only no clutch pedal. Even cooler is the fact that it’s being paired with the Hyundai Venue, which we like, and a teeny-tiny 1.0-liter turbocharged engine.

Now, if yo’re a big car history buff, you might remember that German cars flirted with clutchless manuals back in the 1960s. Porsche had one in the 911 called the Sportomatic, and the VW equivalent was called the Autostick (not to be confused with the Chrysler automatic transmission of the same name), butthey weren’t especially popular and are pretty rare today. What separates those from the Hyundai system (other than 50-plus years of technological advancement) is that the Hyundai system is a six-speed, controlled by computers.

Ok, so how does it work? As you might expect, it’s a little complicated, but not all that different from the systems used in the automated manual transmissions (BMW SMG, Ferrari F1 gearbox, etc.) from the late 1990s and early aughts. The shifting process works as follows:

1. The Transmission Control Unit (TCU) receives a signal from the transmission gear shift (TGS) Lever Intention Sensor, indicating a driver’s desire to change gears.

2. The TCU sends a signal to engage a hydraulic actuator forming hydraulic pressure in the clutch system.

3. Hydraulic pressure is then sent to the Concentric Slave Cylinder (CSC) through a clutch line.

4.CSC uses this pressure to control the clutch and pressure plate, thereby engaging and disengaging the clutch.

5. The driver is able to seamlessly shift gears without the need to operate the clutch pedal mechanically.

Now, that sounds pretty cool, but a few questions remain. Primarily, how quickly does the system work to operate the clutch? Can you bang through the gears enthusiastically, or do you need to exercise a bit of mechanical sympathy while the hydraulics catch up? How will the system handle downshifts? Will it automatically blip the throttle for you? Or will you be required to make a stop in neutral to do it yourself?

Hyundai didn’t immediately respond to our request for comment.

Now playing: Watch this: 5 things you need to know about the 2020 Hyundai Venue

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How To Build A Gaming PC: Step-By-Step Guide (2020)

The PC is the most powerful gaming platform out there. A strong gaming computer has the potential for higher resolutions, faster frame rates, and better visuals than current consoles can even come close to achieving. It can be very tempting to build your own gaming PC, but if you don’t know where to start, it can also be quite intimidating and turn you off entirely. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. PCs are much easier to build than they were in the past, and while it’s not as easy as putting together a Lego spaceship, you don’t have to be scared of it.

That’s why we’ve put together this straightforward guide on how to build a gaming PC. It’s intended for those who are a little wary of building their first PC or just need a little refresher of the steps to doing so. We’ll cover everything from the prep phase and picking parts to the actual parts like the CPU, GPU, motherboard, CPU cooler, hard drive (and yes, of course, which SSD you should throw in there) build and beyond. Of course, due to the current pandemic, many online stores are experiencing product shortages and shipping delays that could interfere with your PC build, so be sure to check the estimated delivery date when ordering from stores like Newegg or Amazon.

Actually picking your parts can be daunting, especially when you factor in compatibility and power consumption. There are a lot of things to consider, partially because many of your components may rely on your CPU being either from Intel or AMD. Thankfully, PC Part Picker is an invaluable resource that you should absolutely refer to when building a PC. We used the website to build our rig and highly recommend using it for yours. It makes it easy to stay within your budget and lets you know if your components are compatible with each other–it’ll even make suggestions if there are issues with your chosen parts.

If you’re looking for some accessories to round out your new gaming rig, check out the best gaming mice, best gaming headset, best capture card for streaming, best gaming keyboard, and best budget gaming monitors.

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Fortunately, you don’t need many tools or extra parts to build your PC–almost everything you need will be included in your components’ boxes. However, there are a few items you’ll need to have ready before you start building your PC.

Screwdrivers:

For the vast majority of your build, you’ll be using a No. 2 Phillips screwdriver, but if you’re installing M.2 SSDs into your motherboard, then you’ll want to use a smaller No. 1 Phillips screwdriver for that.

Flashlight:

Thankfully, nearly every smartphone on the market can be used as a flashlight, and you’ll likely need it when installing certain cables and components into your case.

Thermal paste:

You’ll want a tube of thermal paste to keep your CPU’s temperature low during use. Most CPU coolers come with thermal paste already applied, which means you won’t need any extra. However, if you do end up buying a tube of thermal paste, you can clean the cooler’s paste off and use your own.

Terms to know

We’ve attempted to simplify the process of building a gaming PC as much as possible here, but if you’re not familiar with PC hardware, some of the terms in this guide may need some clarification. We’ve briefly explained some of the parts and terminology we’ll be using below. Feel free to reference this section as you work on your build.

GPU: GPU stands for graphics processing unit; another name for a graphics card. This will handle displaying images on your PC. The more elaborate and complex these images are, the more power you’ll need from your graphics card. The two big names in the graphics card game are Nvidia and AMD.

CPU: The CPU (central processing unit, also known as a processor) handles all of the processes and calculations on your PC. For your PC, you’ll choose a CPU from either Intel or AMD.

Motherboard: The motherboard is where all of the components are installed, allowing them to work together and perform their functions properly.

SATA: SATA is a type of connection, like USB, that is used for hard drives and SSDs to transfer data

PCIe: PCIe is another type of connection, though it’s most commonly used for graphics cards and M.2 SSDs

NVMe: NVMe is a type of connection protocol that can be supported by M.2 SSDs. This provides much faster access to saving and accessing data.

M.2 SSD: An M.2 SSD is a small stick that provides your PC with storage space. You can get a SATA-based M.2 SSD or a PCIe-based M.2 SSD, the latter of which can support NVMe.

RAM: The RAM (or random access memory) is used to store data and information that is being processed by the CPU. The more RAM you have–paired with a good-quality processor–the faster your PC can perform its various functions.

Cooling system: The cooling system is used to protect the CPU from overheating.

PSU: The PSU (or power supply) supplies your PC and its various components with power.

OS: OS stands for operating system. Most gaming PCs will utilize Windows 10–it’s what we suggest–though some people may want to install Linux.

A look at some gaming PC builds

We’ve included a breakdown of our recommended PC build alongside a much more affordable gaming PC build. This should give you an idea of the vast price range you can expect when starting to build your first PC. More expensive PC builds will absolutely rock your bank account, but they’re more likely to be future-proofed–you won’t need to upgrade the PC’s components for quite some time, and when you do, you likely won’t need to upgrade more than your graphics card. The cheaper PCs can still provide an excellent experience at a much more affordable price, but you may need to upgrade it more often if you want to keep up with new releases. Either way, you’re sure to have a fantastic gaming experience, as long as you keep your expectations in check with your budget. Keep in mind that many a PC build these days lacks an optical drive (since actual disk usage is rare nowadays), but you always add one later if you need one.

Our gaming PC build

Exact price: $2,857

$1,000 gaming PC build

Exact price: $987

How to build a gaming PC

Step 1: Prepare your motherboard

Parts used: Motherboard

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Assembling the motherboard outside of the case will make your whole experience much easier to deal with. Our general rule of thumb is to install as many parts as possible before screwing it into your case. An important thing to note before starting on your motherboard is that you should refer to its manual as often as possible, as your specific motherboard may suggest specific ways or places to install your components. Also, keep in mind that certain parts will require some force when plugging them in, while others simply just need to be placed into their respective spots. Please pay close attention to the following instructions before installing your components.

The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you’re assembling your PC on a flat surface. Don’t build it on a carpet–the mixture of static electricity and your PC’s parts is a dangerous combination and could cause damage to your components. It’s unlikely to happen, but we still suggest touching your metal case from time to time to help ground yourself and avoid this from happening.

Instead, build your rig in a room with hardwood or laminate floors like a dining room or kitchen–we even went the extra mile and took our socks off. Take your motherboard out of its packaging and then place it on a flat surface. You can lay it directly on your table, but we personally placed it on top of its box to avoid scratching our desk. At this point, you’re ready to start.

Step 2: Install the CPU

Parts used: CPU, motherboard

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The easiest part of your entire build is also the first: installing our AMD Ryzen CPU. Your motherboard’s CPU socket will be protected by a piece of plastic, which you’ll be able to remove when you open the tray. All you need to do is gently push down on the tray’s metal arm and pull it out. Once it’s free of the tray, lift it up to open the socket and the protective plastic will fall out. Be sure to keep this plastic piece in case of any issues with your motherboard, as you’ll need to reinsert it before sending it back to the manufacturer.

At this point, your CPU socket tray should be open, allowing you to install your CPU on to your motherboard. Your CPU should have some small half-circle indents in its board. The CPU socket is designed to fill these indents, making it easy to line up your CPU and install it properly. Once you’ve figured out how to place your CPU into its socket, do so gently. Do not apply pressure directly on the CPU–simply close the tray and make sure the metal arm is locked into its original position, which may require a bit of force.

Step 3: Install M.2 SSD(s)

Parts used: M.2 SSD(s), motherboard

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M.2 SSDs are another easy step in the process, but don’t forget to reference your manual to find out which M.2 slots you should use first. Your motherboard may have protective thermal guards on your M.2 slots, so remove those first. Once you’ve taken any guards off the motherboard, you can slot in your M.2 SSDs. These require a little bit of force to slot into their respective slots, but don’t push too hard–they should slide in quite easily. Once the M.2 SSDs are in their slots, the opposite end should be pointing upward at a diagonal angle. At this point, you take the respective screw (that is often included with your motherboard), push each M.2 SSD down, and screw them into the appropriate spots. At this point, you can take the thermal guard and place it on top of each M.2 SSD, screwing it back into place.

Step 4: Install the RAM

Parts used: RAM, motherboard

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This is another step where you’ll want to reference your motherboard’s manual, which should be able to tell you which order to place the RAM in. If you have four slots and only two sticks of RAM, then you should make sure the two sticks are spaced apart in either the first and third slot or second and fourth–your motherboard manual can advise you here. Placing your RAM apart like this will help you get the most out of your CPU. First off, be sure to flip down the plastic clips on both sides of each slot you plan on using. Inserting the RAM requires more force, but make sure you start small and then ramp up your pressure gradually. When you hear a click, your RAM is in its slot. This should cause the plastic clips to flip up, gripping your RAM. If you notice your clips haven’t flipped up, then your RAM may not be seated properly.

Step 5: Get your case ready for your motherboard

Parts used: Case

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It’s almost time to throw your motherboard into your case, but first you’ll need to screw in some standoff screws that you’ll place your motherboard onto before screwing it in. These standoffs will come with your motherboard, and once you’ve located them, you can start screwing them into your case. There should be about a dozen holes for the standoffs to fit into. Refer to your case’s manual if you’re having trouble finding them. Once the standoffs are screwed in, you’re ready to insert your motherboard.

Step 6: Install your motherboard into your case

Parts used: Motherboard, case

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The standoffs make it easy to place your motherboard into your case, but don’t start screwing it in straight away. There should be a space on the back of your case for your motherboard’s I/O ports to fit into. It’ll be a rectangle, and you’ll want your motherboard to be inserted comfortably into this space so that you can access all of the ports. Once everything fits, you can start screwing your motherboard onto the standoffs with the appropriate screws. Don’t forget that you don’t want to screw anything too tightly. Just turn your screwdriver until everything is securely tightened, and then you’re ready to move on.

Step 7: Install your power supply (PSU)

Parts used: Power supply, case, motherboard

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Installing the power supply into your case is often quite easy. You’ll want to refer to your specific case’s manual for this, but it’s pretty straightforward. First, we took our case’s mounting bracket and screwed it onto the back of our power supply. You’ll notice your power supply also sports a fan, which is used to circulate air. If you’re planning on placing your finished gaming PC on a hardwood floor or desk, then feel free to aim this fan downward; if you’re placing your gaming PC on a carpeted floor, then you’ll want to aim the fan upward.

Once you’ve figured out which way your PSU needs to be oriented, and screwed on the mounting bracket, you can easily slide it into your case and tighten the bracket’s screws. Depending on how much room you have for your PSU, you may want to hold off on screwing it in until you’ve plugged in all of its various power cables.

Step 8: Connect any SATA hard drives/SSDs

Parts used: SATA drives, case, power supply

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Now that the power supply is installed, you can start connecting any SATA hard drives or SSDs. Your case should have a specific bay area dedicated to holding these kinds of drives. Locate this area, then look for two metal clasps on the left and right side of each bay. Squeeze these clasps and then pull the bay out. Here is where you’ll be able to screw in your SATA drive and keep it stable inside your case. Once this is done, you’ll want to reinsert the bay into its place, and then plug a SATA and PSU cable into your hard drive. Find the SATA slot on your motherboard and plug the other side of the appropriate cable into it, then plug the other side of the PSU cable into your power supply. Your drive is now installed, though you will need to format it once your PC is up and running.

Step 9: Plug your case and power cables into the motherboard

Parts used: Case, power supply, motherboard

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Now, you’re ready to start plugging cables into your motherboard. This part requires some patience, as your case cables are extremely tiny and can be difficult to orient. You’ll want to reference both your case and motherboard manuals during this step. Some motherboards, like our Aorus Ultra, come with a bus that you can plug the case cables into before inserting them into the motherboard. This makes this step much easier.

Your case cables make it so you can use the various ports on the front of your PC in addition to the power button itself. Of course, nothing is going to happen when you press that button if you don’t plug your PSU into your motherboard. You’ll want to plug the 24-pin ATX and EPS12V cables into their respective spots on both the motherboard and PSU. You’ll be plugging in all of your power cables into the PSU, including fans, SATA drives, and your cooling system.

Step 10: Install your CPU cooling system

Parts used: Cooling system, CPU, motherboard

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Installing your cooling system can be a somewhat nerve-wracking experience, particularly when applying the thermal paste, but it’s a lot easier than it sounds. The first thing you need to do is mount the system’s bracket to the motherboard. You’ll need access to the back of the motherboard tray, as you’ll be screwing part of it to the back of the tray. This’ll give you the spots you need to set the cooler’s pump onto your CPU and motherboard. Before you do this, however, there are a few other steps.

Liquid-based CPU cooling systems come with a radiator equipped with fans, which you’ll want to screw into your case. Of course, you’ll need to figure out where you want to install it. We recommend screwing it into your case’s top grill, as it’ll allow for more airflow, but some cases may not have a top grill, and you’ll need to install it on the back of the case. Once you figure out what position you’re going to go with, you’ll screw the radiator into the grill itself. Once you’re done this, you’re ready to attach the pump.

First, you’ll want to apply some thermal paste. Some coolers come with thermal paste already applied; if that’s the case, your cooler’s thermal paste is most likely capable of handling the job, and you may be able to skip this next step. You can also easily remove the cooler’s paste with a dry cloth if you bought thermal paste you’d rather go with. You’ll want to apply a pea-sized glob of thermal paste into the center of your CPU. During this step, always go smaller than bigger. Once applied, you can press the cooler into its position on the CPU and thermal paste. If you feel like you’ve accidentally applied too much thermal paste, don’t worry: It’s as easy as wiping the CPU off with a dry cloth and rubbing alcohol and trying again.

Once the pump is installed, you’ll want to make sure all of your cooling system’s wires are plugged into the right spots. Our particular cooler required us to plug a micro-USB cable into our pump and the other side into our motherboard.

Step 11: Start cable management

Parts used: Case

Before we move on to the last step of physically building your PC, you may want to do some cable management to clean up. This’ll create some room for air circulation and accessing your components if you ever want to upgrade later. Most cases come with Velcro straps or zip ties, but I always keep a bag of Velcros on hand just in case. The case we went with, Fractal’s Meshify C, includes an awesome area for cable management that’s equipped with a series of Velcro straps. It’s located on the back of the motherboard tray. We were able to slide all of our cables into this space and keep it all fastened up nicely.

The only zip ties we used were for our CPU cooling system’s wires, which were thin and plentiful. This made it easier for us to orient them through the holes in our case to reach our desired spot. Just make sure you don’t over-tighten your zip ties as doing so could damage your cables.

Step 12: Install your graphics card

Parts used: Graphics card, motherboard

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Finally, it’s time to discuss the component you’re probably the most excited about. The graphics card is easy to install. First, you’ll need to remove an appropriate number of expansion slot inserts from the back of your case to fit your graphics card. This will vary depending on which GPU you go with, but two is usually the safe number–our MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti takes up two. Once you unscrew and remove them, figure out which PCIe Express slot you’ll need to insert your card into, then flip its plastic notch at the far end of the slot downward to prepare for installation. At this point, all you need to do is line up the graphics card with the PCIe Express slot and then push down until the plastic notch flips up and clicks. Again, you don’t need a lot of force to push it in, but you will need to push the graphics card into its slot until you get that click. Once you hear that, you can screw your graphics card’s mounting brackets into the case using the expansion slot’s screws and holes.

At this point, you need to plug your graphics card into your power supply to give it power. (Low-end graphics cards don’t typically require extra power, so if that’s what you’re working with, you’re good to skip this step.) Take the appropriate cables included with your power supply and plug one end into the graphics card; then, plug the other into the PSU. It’s okay if there are parts of the cables that go unused–just make sure every port on the graphics card has part of the cable plugged in.

Step 13: Install your OS

Parts used: USB thumb drive, case

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Once you’ve ensured a tidy PC with all of your cables managed, you should connect an HDMI cable to your PC and plug the other end into a monitor. Plug the power cable into your PSU and the other end into an outlet; then, flip the power switch on the back of your PC to its “On” position. Press the power button on your PC, and if it turns on, you’re almost good to go.

At this point, you’ll need another PC and a fast USB drive of at least 8GB–we suggest the SanDisk Extreme Pro. You’ll then want to head over to Microsoft and follow the steps provided there. This will help you create an installation device out of your USB drive, which you can plug into your PC before booting it up. Upon starting your PC, it should go straight into the Windows 10 installation process. Follow the steps here and wait for it to install. Once you’re done, you should be good to go, though you will need to buy a proper license for Windows 10 from Microsoft. If you do this from your new PC, it’ll activate automatically. On this is all setup, you’re good to go, barring the installation of an optical drive, if you chose to get one.

If your PC doesn’t turn on

If your PC doesn’t boot, don’t worry: It’s certainly not the end of the world. There are a number of things that can cause a PC to not boot up on your first try, and save for any product malfunctions, they’re easily solvable. Here are a few things you can do to troubleshoot your powerless PC.

Is the power supply plugged into an outlet?

This is a simple fix. Just plug your PC into an outlet, and you should be good to go.

Is the power supply’s switch turned on?

Make sure you’ve flipped your PSU’s switch into the ‘On’ position before powering on. This is an easily overlooked issue with a solution that’s just as easy.

Are your power supply cables seated in the motherboard properly?

This is the next thing you should double-check. Reconnecting the cables could be what you need to finally deliver power to your PC.

Are your case’s cables plugged into your motherboard properly?

It’s important to get this step right because if you push your case’s power button and its specific cable isn’t plugged in correctly, it won’t be able to start your PC. Some motherboards come with a serial bus that you can plug your case’s cables into before connecting to your motherboard.

Are your parts installed correctly?

This is the last thing to check as it can be the most time-consuming. Reconnecting your RAM and CPU or simply switching the RAM sticks into different slots could be the solution you’re looking for.

If all this fails, then your components may be defective.

Unfortunately, this can happen. Sometimes when building a PC, you realize that one of your components isn’t working correctly. At this point, you’ll need to contact the manufacturer of your part and ask them about their return policy. The vast majority of big PC component manufacturers have return policies that will cover defective parts, so you don’t have to worry. It just might take a little longer to enjoy your brand-new gaming computer.

AviationManuals Offers Mx Manuals for Part 91 Ops

AviationManuals has developed a customized general maintenance manual (GMM) for Part 91 operations that is available through ARCdocs software and an iPad app. The digital GMM addresses procedures for maintenance leadership and shop floor staff and covers items such as roles and responsibilities, personnel policies, inspection programs, minimum equipment list management, and functional flight checks.

“A GMM is another valuable resource business aviation flight departments should consider having to help reinforce procedures, best practices, and to assure adherence to consistent standards,” said AviationManuals CEO Mark Baier. “It helps flight departments from everything to staying on top of changing and complex operations to helping with employee onboarding.”

The GMM can be tailored to a variety of flight department sizes and their needs, according to AviationManuals. It can also be helpful for contract workers to assimilate in an organization with which they might be unfamiliar, the company added.

Apple adds more locations to its iPhone repair program

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Apple is giving you more options for fixing your iPhone.

Angela Lang/CNET

Apple on Wednesday said it is expanding its Independent Repair Provider Program to more businesses across the US. The program will also be opening to shops in Canada and 32 countries across Europe, including the UK. The program, which launched last year, gives authentic Apple parts, tools and manuals to independent repairers, so they can fix common out-of-warranty iPhone issues. 

“When a customer needs a repair, we want them to have a range of options that not only suits their needs but also guarantees safety and quality so their iPhone can be used for as long as possible,” Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer said in a statement

Apple’s repair program now offers its tools to over 700 businesses across the US, including uBreakiFix, among others. You can check to see if a business is a part of Apple’s repair program on its verification site.

MARY MIGLIARO: If only kids came with instruction manuals

Many of you have probably Googled a product looking for the instruction manual online as many manufacturers are now providing. Unfortunately, you cannot Google the instruction manual for your child. Many new mothers wish one were included with the basket of goodies they leave the hospital with including diapers, formula, etc., but, alas, none are available.

Even if there was an instruction manual for how to raise your child, it could not be customized for every child based on their temperament and other characteristics. The parenting strategies you used for your first child may or may not have worked on your second child and you found yourself searching for parenting tools and undergoing “on the job training.” So, what is a parent to do?

Most every parent tends to parent the way they were parented as a child. If you had nurturing, loving parents, chances are you too will be a nurturing and loving parent. You will most likely use many of the parenting techniques and strategies your parents used with you. Those will be what you draw on with your first child, but it cannot be the only source of parenting skills you use.

First released in 1945, Dr. Spock’s “Baby and Child Care” quickly became a best seller and was considered the “holy grail” for every parent. It has been in continuous publication ever since. Now in the 10th edition it has been expanded to include the latest information on child development from birth through adolescence—including cutting-edge research on topics as crucial as immunizations, screen-time, childhood obesity, environmental health, and more. Every new, first-time parent should have a copy.

If you want to add to your parenting library, Good Housekeeping has recommended their top 20 parenting books for 2020. They include: “What to Expect the First Year,” 3rd Edition (a month-by-month look at your growing baby), “The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies To Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind”(to help foster healthy brain development, leading to calmer, happier children), “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk” (time-tested methods to solve common problems and build foundations for lasting relationships), “How To Raise An Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Child for Success” (relevant for parents of children of all ages), and finally “Positive Discipline: The Classic Guide to Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Problem-Solving Skills.”

Don’t forget teenagers. Many parents think their work is done when children reach their teen years. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, teens probably need their parents more at that stage of their lives although they just don’t want it to look like they do! There is an excellent book to help you in parenting your teen: Parenting Teens With Love And Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood, It covers a wide range of real-life issues teens face, including divorce, ADD, addiction, and sex. This book gives you the tools to help your teens find their identity and grow in maturity.

Another great resource is networking with other parents you know. That is especially beneficial if their children are about the same age as yours or are older than yours. Networking parents form a support group of peers that allows you to find out if someone else is experiencing the same issues as you are with your child. As mentioned before, no two children are alike and what worked with one may not work with another. Chances are a parent in the group will have already dealt with the issue and can tell you what worked for them.

The best parents are those with many tools in their toolbox. Here’s hoping some of these will help you. Happy parenting!

PS5 Digital Edition and Xbox Series S are the consoles to watch — here’s why

As a 33-year-old gaming fan, I still remember the joy of cracking open a cardboard box for PC and N64 games, and being greeted by chunky manuals and discs in paper or plastic covers. If I was particularly lucky, a paper map of the game’s world be thrown in for good measure. Heck, I even remember the wonderful ink and glossy paper smell of manual from games like Baldur’s Gate II. 

When I got an original Xbox, I remember games moving into DVD jewel cases, which was a major departure from the cardboard boxes of the past. Some of these had sizable manuals to pour over, such as the original Halo and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. But as the years rolled on, those cases came with an ever-dwindling amount of supplementary paper. 

And that’s a good thing. While I love to pop on a pair of rose-tinted glasses and get all nostalgic about yesteryear’s PC and console gaming — I still have a big box of PC games sitting under my bed, like a collection of shameful secrets — digital downloads are the future. That future will be driven by the PS5 Digital Edition and the rumoured Xbox Series S.  

Disinterested in discs

It’s already happed, to a certain extent. I own a mere four physical PS4 games and the only Xbox One X disc I own is Red Ded Redemption 2. Even then, it’s only because I have terribly slow internet, and physical copies of games are sometimes cheaper than their digital equivalents. 

Thanks to automatic background downloads, PlayStation Store sales and the frankly excellent Xbox Game Pass, I have started to go all-digital on my games collection. And I suspect I’ll do the same for the next-generation consoles. 

Even though it can take me ages to download games, especially those that take up tens of gigabytes, the convenience of being able to boot up what I want to play without fiddling with discs is worth the pain of a long download. With the speedy SSDs of the Xbox Series X and PS5, that convenience is going to a lot more pronounced, with the ability to switch between games on the fly. 

Having the ability to swap between games on a whim means that dragging myself off the sofa to swap discs will feel even more repellent. It’s already bad enough that I have to insert a disc for a fully installed game due to digital right management (DRM), even though that disc isn’t needed for content purposes. 

I don’t know if this is going to be an issue for the Xbox Series X or the standard PS5. But I’m not keen to take the risk, which is why the PS5 Digital Edition and Xbox Series S appeal to me, especially as the former looks better than its disk drive-equipped sibling

My colleague Henry T. Casey noted that digital-only consoles are a bad thing, as they should be entertainment machines hungry for Blu-ray discs rather than just gaming machines. I can see where the esteemed editor is coming from, but I don’t really agree. 

I’m fairly confident that a lot of people who are interested in the next-generation consoles already have one of the current-generation machines. Both PS4 models have Blu-ray drives and Dolby Atmos support; bizarrely, though, the PS4 Pro doesn’t have a 4K Blu-ray player. And the Xbox One S and Xbox One X can both play UHD Blu-ray disks. 

Is there really a need for another machine that can play the same discs? I don’t think so. 

Dawn of the download-only

(Image credit: Reddit – u/jiveduder)

Unless you’re blighted with my awful broadband, you don’t really need a 4K Blu-ray player most of the time, as the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO and Disney Plus all support 4K streaming. And I’m pretty sure that people who really must have a high-end Blu-ray experience will have a dedicated machine, and likely a full home cinema setup, to do so. 

As such, there’s no particularly compelling need for a disc-playing next-gen game console. And that’s absolutely a good thing. 

Not only will the PS5 Digital Edition and Xbox Series S make gaming more convenient, but they could also drive a proper surge in digital downloads. This could encourage more competitive game prices in online stores, as annoyingly, it can still be cheaper to buy a physical copy of the game. 

This somewhat bizarre issue has been around for a while, and arguably has to do with Xbox and PlayStation having what’s pretty much a monopoly over digital downloads on their respective consoles. But as more games go digital-only, other online retail forces that could see digital downloads get priced more competitively. 

(Image credit: Stephen Kelly)

Even if that doesn’t happen, online services like Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now deliver access to digital downloads for a recurring but rather reasonable fee, particularly if you game a lot. This makes the idea of ordering a physical game online, let alone going into a store to buy one, seem like an arduous task not worth the effort. This strategy has worked for Netflix, Spotify and other streaming services, so there’s no reason why Microsoft and Sony can’t build upon their digital games services. 

Of course, this won’t be great news for physical game stores — although they haven’t been having a good time for years now. And the secondhand market and game trading will likely start a downwards spiral toward extinction. As sad as that is for people like me who grew up with games we could actually hold, it’s the price of change. 

When it comes to the environment, that change is a good thing. Fewer physical copies mean less plastic and other material used on retail games. It’s especially pertinent when you consider that a lot of the time when you install a game using a disc, you’re then prompted to download a good chunk of supplementary content. You might as well just download the whole thing. 

Other than using the odd disc for copyright purposes, I very rarely bother using the physical copies of the games I have. While I’m not likely to throw them away, I certainly don’t want to add to them, as I’m short on space. All this stuff will need to be dealt with when I finally shuffle off this mortal coil, and I don’t want anyone to have to sort through all the woefully outdated, valueless things I’ve hoarded over the years. 

In short, the digital-only next-generation Xbox and PlayStation consoles are very much a good thing. They could not only make life better for gaming, but also help reduce the impact of new tech on the environment. 

This New Wellness Program Wants to Make Self-Improvement Easy⁠—No, Really.

Every year, Blake Mycoskie, 44, and a bunch of his guy friends go on a surf trip. It’s a time to catch up, take stock, shoot the shit. In 2017, they hit Mexico, where they spent a week riding waves off the coast of Baja. One night, during a round of Imagine you won the lottery and you no longer had to work for money; how would you spend your time? one answer struck a chord with Mycoskie. Patrick Dossett, 40, a program manager at Google and a former Navy SEAL, said he’d use what he had learned as a SEAL to encourage others to achieve more. “I want to help people realize their true potential,” he said.

Dossett had served as a SEAL for almost a decade. In 2011, just a month after he left the Navy, several of his former teammates were shot down in a helicopter and killed. “After you spend any period of time in the SEAL teams, you’re going to feel broken and beat down,” he says. “And I didn’t know what I wanted.” That year, he attended several of his teammates’ funerals and worked as a surf guide/medic at a surf camp in Indonesia, and in 2012, he enrolled in the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Dossett intended to apply some of the lessons from his time with the SEALs to a business, but he wasn’t sure what he wanted to create.

blake mycoskie and patrick dossett
Blake Mycoskie (left) and Patrick Dossett founded a program to help people change their habits for the better.

Courtesy Blake Mycoskie and Patrick Dossett

Dossett says much of the training required to become a SEAL is mental—you learn to adapt and change your thinking, and to see that you’re capable of more than you thought possible. You also learn to focus on what’s in front of you, something he picked up during “hell week,” the brutal five-plus-day training camp all SEALs must endure. “Trying to process the entire week at once is overwhelming,” he says. “Those who are most successful, myself included, tackle the week one step at a time.” That lesson—how to change the small things in your day-to-day life to make big-picture changes—stuck with him. Dossett landed at Google in 2013, but he yearned for what the Navy gave him: a sense of mission and a desire to serve the greater good.

Dossett’s ambitions would have likely remained a side project or an unspoken goal, except that in saying them out loud to Mycoskie, a family friend, he was talking to someone who could actually make them happen and was used to helping others.

In 2006, Mycoskie founded Toms Shoes, its name shorthand for Tomorrow’s Shoes, its goal to get a pair of shoes to children in need around the world with each purchase. Soon Toms’ espadrilles became a totem of well-dressed virtue, ubiquitous among brunch enthusiasts and hungover millennials. As Toms—and Mycoskie’s one-for-one model—turned into a phenomenon, he was lauded for doing well while doing good, but he began to sacrifice his own mental health for the company’s growth. “My relationships with my wife and kids suffered, and I started to resent Toms and all of the years that I had given to it,” he says. After eight years, he sold half of his equity to Bain Capital, which valued the company at $625 million.

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Despite his résumé and bank balance, success and global recognition couldn’t solve the major problems he faced: what to do next, how best to continue helping people, how to be happier. “I felt like I had checked all the boxes and had done everything my parents, society, and books had told me to do,” he says. Mycoskie was diagnosed with mild depression in 2015, but with all he had going for him, he felt as if he didn’t have the right to be depressed. “I felt a void,” he says. “I was ashamed because I felt like I didn’t want to admit to being depressed.” Mycoskie started a social-entrepreneurship fund and spent the next two years on a decompression sabbatical, dabbling in different kinds of self-optimization. That’s why that night in Baja, Dossett’s answer resonated. The über-practical ex-SEAL and the Big Thinking do-gooder decided to try to create a self-help brand that would serve people—and make money.


Not long after the surf trip, Mycoskie and Dossett made a plan. Mycoskie would put up the funds, and Dossett would leave Google to study human behavior and explore how to package best health practices into a self-help business. Their quest to find answers led Dossett to Andrew Huberman, Ph.D., an associate professor of neurobiology at Stanford University School of Medicine, in the summer of 2017. At the time, much of Huberman’s research centered on the concept of neural plasticity, our brains’ ability to change in response to stimuli and thus learn and grow. Huberman explained that behavioral change can come about in two ways: all at once, in a high-intensity scenario (like a bad case of food poisoning that turns you off oysters forever), or as the result of small, incremental change. He argued that for people to realize their full potential in life, they often require the latter. “The true way to change things is more like a staircase,” he says. “You take one step every day or couple of days, and slowly-ish, you arrive at the top.”

andrew huberman, phd
Andrew Huberman, Ph.D.

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You’ve probably heard some version of this before, and so had Mycoskie and Dossett. But based on their research and discussions over two years with neuroscientists, psychiatrists, and exercise scientists from Harvard, Stanford, and the National Institutes of Health, they concluded that maybe change really was that simple. With Huberman and seven other expert advisors, the duo developed an evidence-based program consisting of ten 21-day challenges. Each challenge involves a process of attention, reward, and reinforcement. Some are what you’d expect: “foundational practices” like fuel, sleep, hydration, breathing, and motion. Others are squishier: connection, gratitude, vision, clarity, and nature. Each one arrives in the mail, in a “kit” that contains the details of the challenge, a physical tool (like a water bottle with beads to keep track of your consumption or a timer that measures the length of your breathing exercises), and a booklet that explains the science. The timing, too, is intentional. Three weeks is short enough to keep someone’s attention but long enough to see a benefit from one’s effort.

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These challenges don’t just help people forge deeper connections or habitualize better hydration. The meta goal is for users to develop a “positive growth mind-set,” a term coined by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, Ph.D., that means you believe your talents can be cultivated through effort and strategizing. The idea is that if everything is in place, including your hydration, sleep, and exercise, you can tackle what’s next and ideally excel at it. Madefor—its name comes from the notion that through change, you unlock your potential and discover what you’re made for—launched in beta in June 2019, enrolling more than 1,300 members.


They had plenty of competition. App stores are loaded with options that promise to help Americans fix whatever it is they think they’re doing wrong. (Sleep, fitness, life, love: If you’re doing it, there’s an “expert” who’ll tell you you’re doing it wrong and some kind of paid app that’s meant to help you get better at it.) The entire market for self-care (and its more bullish cousin, self-optimization) is built on insecurities, real and imagined, and the men’s segment is especially fraught, given the stigma that persists among men around having conversations about their mental health. Consequently, self-care for men is often masked in urgent, brazen messaging; some men’s brands seem to argue that happiness in life can be achieved through sexual fulfillment. Hims, a wellness site and online pharmacy, aspires to create a “handsome, healthy you” through pills for erectile dysfunction (in addition to ones that will help fix other apparent problems plaguing guys, like performance anxiety, hair loss, and acne). It relies on this language to heighten your expectations for overnight fixes.

Mycoskie and Dossett want Madefor to be the exact opposite of that. “There’s no bullshit,” Mycoskie says. “There are no special promises that this is going to change your life tomorrow.” And unlike dozens of other programs, Madefor is designed to be tech-free—there are no digital wearables, no online manuals—save for a private Facebook group for members. Huberman says there are benefits to going analog in a world full of people glued to their smartphones. “There’s a richness to analog interactions that’s amplified now that we’re all digitally wired,” he says. “When you do something in analog, it’s salient, it stands out, and it’s all the more powerful.”

hands holding a madefor box
A Madefor box.

Courtesy of Madefor

With Madefor, simplicity isn’t cheap, but having skin in the game can help you commit to a program like this, says Christine Whelan, Ph.D., a clinical professor of consumer science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. And there’s definitely skin: You pay $750 for the ten-month plan or $95 for month-to-month. But Mycoskie the entrepreneur has met Mycoskie the philanthropist, and the company offers deeply discounted “scholarship” memberships to qualified applicants.

This past spring, Madefor quietly reached the public amid quarantine.

Dossett says the beta participants and those who’ve signed up since its launch report that they feel calmer, healthier, and happier and that their relationships have improved. Some have lost weight, even though that’s not a goal. And during the coronavirus pandemic, the program has also provided its members with a surprising lifeline. “We’re helping people realize they have the ability to exert control in powerful ways,” says Dossett.

In a time of so much uncertainty, maybe this is the right moment for a box to arrive at your door with one thing you can control, one thing you can work on to help you get closer to the life you want. Madefor’s founders don’t expect every challenge to be revelatory for everyone. Even they admit that there are a few habits they’ve stuck with and a few they’ve let go. And that’s part of the deal. As much as it’s about boxes and rest and gratitude, Madefor is about understanding yourself and how to get better at being you.

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Boss RC-3 Loop Station Pedal w/ Box and manuals

For sell is a lightly used Boss RC-3 Loop station pedal.  Comes with all the paper and box like it would new.  Please let me know if you have any questions, thank you!!

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This item is sold As-Described and cannot be returned unless it arrives in a condition different from how it was described or photographed. Items must be returned in original, as-shipped condition with all original packaging.

Using Videos To Help Older Drivers Learn New Technologies

It’s quite probable that vehicles have changed enormously since the majority of motorists took their driving tests.  While many of these changes are designed to make driving safer, the adaptation to the new tools can reduce safety, especially among older drivers who may take longer to adjust.

New research from Texas A&M University suggests that using interactive videos can be a more effective teaching aid than manuals or even live demonstrations, thus shortening the time taken to learn new driver-assistance technologies (ADAS).

“Older adults have a higher rate of vehicle crashes because of degradations in physical, mental and motor capabilities,” the researchers say. “With ADAS, some of the mental workload related to driving can be taken off, and we’ve shown that instructional videos are the best way to introduce ADAS to seniors. We hope that this insight will lead to better video-based training materials for this age group so that senior safety while driving is enhanced.”

Driver assistance

The researchers explain that around 18% of car accidents involve people over 65, which given they drive fewer miles places them at disproportionate risk.  The researchers believe many of these incidents are due to the difficulty older people have in performing multiple activities while they drive.

For instance, drivers may commonly have to start the adaptive cruise control while maintaining focus on the road head or monitoring the current speed limit.  Such assistive features are designed to make driving easier, but may in this instance make it less safe.

Typically, instructions are given via one of four methods: driving simulators, live demonstrations, manuals, and videos.  For this research, the authors focused on demonstration-based training and videos, as they believed that drivers tend not to read instruction manuals, and rarely have access to driving simulators.

The volunteers were given training for either lane-keeping assist systems or adaptive cruise control, before then being tested in a simulator.  Their gaze was being monitored as they switched between ADAS and manual control, and found that the video-based training appeared to be most effective, although there were subtle gender differences.

“We were surprised to find that while male drivers were faster at activating ADAS, they were also the most distracted by it,” the researchers explain. “So, from a neurological standpoint, older female drivers were more efficient at using ADAS technologies and reducing their mental workload after video-based training.”

While the researchers accept that their sample size was relatively small, and therefore more work needs to be done involving a larger pool of volunteers, they do nonetheless believe their findings shed some light on the best way to help older drivers adapt to the changing technology at their finger tips.

“Videos, we think, are effective because they can be paused, rewound and reviewed multiple times, giving seniors a sense of control over what they are learning and at what pace,” they conclude. “Our work does not diminish the importance of manuals and other forms of instructional materials, instead our results challenge the way we normally think about communicating ADAS technology-related information to seniors.”

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Video: Powered by Pies with Elliot Heap

In this weeks episode of Live To Ride we head to the North West of England to an area known for their love of pies, and one man who loves a good pie is EWS racer, Elliott Heap. In this episode, we follow Elliott as he manuals his way down Farmer Johns Bike Park, rides some of his enduro trails with views over the sea and hangs out with team manager Nigel Page at his home compound.

We first met Elliot in the North West of England at a small bike park called Farmer Johns, trails last between 1 – 2 minutes and they’re action-packed from top to bottom. As soon as we unloaded the car, Elliot was out, playing around jumping and manualling everything in the car park, straight away I knew we were in for a treat.

elliot heap manuals

Photo Credit: Kieran Kenney

FJ’s is the first place Elliot raced on a Nukeproof Bike, he was 14 at the time and it’s clear he knew his way around the park, suggesting wild moves on every feature. Some stand out moments were when he manualled the entire first straight, landed a suicide no hander into a stoppie and the sheer speed he hit the steep tech in the woods.

If you live in the North West, everyone knows about it everyone’s raced here, Ratboy, Craig Evans, Peaty. You get that feeling like how mountain biking used to be. It’s a tiny farm, a tiny hill but there’s so much variation. The top’s section is flat out with jumps, trail centre stuff then the bottom is steep as anything gnarly root sections.” – Elliot Heap

elliot heap whip

Photo Credit: Kieran Kenney

A big part of this series is looking at how riders have dealt with the summer without racing and it was clear that it had hit Elliot pretty hard.