A review of Monitor-IO, a little gadget that wants to talk about your Internet

Monitor-IO is a $100 IoT gadget that tells you whether your Internet is working well, poorly, or not at all. The idea is you put this little black box next to (and plugged directly into) your router, and a quick glance at its color-coded screen will let you know if the Internet’s working solidly,  if it’s having some problems, or if everything is just plain out. Monitor-IO even promises to tell users granular details like how long a connection has been up, or sketchy, or out.

All of this begs the question: do you need a gadget for that?

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ROLI Songmaker Kit mini-review: Rediscover musical roots with fancy new tech

Samuel Axon

I’ve been a musician for the past 20 years, but I’ve been an electronic musician for a lot less than that. I use Apple’s Logic Pro and a variety of software synthesizers to record songs these days, but coming from an electric guitar, I’ve missed the natural expressiveness that comes from playing a traditional instrument—particularly a stringed one.

Yes, you can create amazing expressive sounds with software, but there’s just something about having that direct connection from your fingers to the amp or speakers that can’t be replicated.

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Workhorse brings an electric pickup truck, helicopter to Manhattan

Enlarge / Workhorse’s electric helicopter looks less like a traditional helicopter and more like an oversized drone. (credit: John Timmer)

I wasn’t sure entirely what I expected an electric helicopter to look like, but what I found waiting for me at New York’s Flatiron Plaza wasn’t it. It’s not because it didn’t look like a helicopter; to an extent, it did. It just looked more like a grossly oversized drone with seats.

Workhorse, the company that makes the helicopter, wasn’t giving anyone rides in the hardware, which is still undergoing FAA testing. But company CEO Steve Burns was there to talk about the ‘copter, which is being called the SureFly. And, for good measure, he also showed off an electric pickup truck, which went by the less dramatic monicker W-15.

If pickup trucks and helicopters seem largely unrelated, it’s only because they’re at opposite extremes of the company’s business interests.

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There’s a new insecticide on the block, and it’s also bad news for bees

Enlarge / A foraging bee. (credit: Nunzio_Zotti / Flickr)

We need bees to pollinate the plants that feed us. And bees need us to stop inadvertently poisoning them with the insecticides we use to keep those plants healthy. Unfortunately, just as we start to make progress on reducing the worldwide use of neonicotinoids (a class of insecticides that are toxic to bees), it seems like we might be at risk of rolling out an alternative insecticide that causes similar problems.

“Sulfoximine-based insecticides are the most likely successor [to neonicotinoids]” write the University of London’s Harry Siviter and his colleagues in a paper published in Nature this week. And that’s not great, as they found that bumblebee colonies exposed to a sulfoximine-based insecticide called sulfoxaflor suffered severe effects compared to a control colony. The insecticide didn’t kill the bees, but it damaged their ability to run a successful colony—a similar

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How to magnify part of an image in Photos on iOS and Mac

You can magnify an element of an image using a tool that exists in Photo on both Mac and iOS systems. This is useful if you want to focus attention within the image.

How to magnify part of an image in Photos

This is how to get to and use the Loupe/Shapes tool on both Mac and iOS devices:

  • Select the image and tap Edit
  • Tap the Extensions (…)button
  • Select Markupand click the Shape button, then the Loupe button (Mac)
  • On iOS, you should tap the Plusbutton and then choose the Magnifierbutton after selecting Markup

Now drag the loupe to the area of the image you want to magnify, you can also make the selected area larger by dragging the circles.

Also read: A useful Photos printing shortcut

Here’s how I backup my family photos and videos using the 3-2-1 method

If there is one thing I am obsessed with when it comes to technology, it’s my pictures. I keep them extremely organized and culled. I am equally as fanatical about getting them backed up. When it comes to music, movies, and TV shows – I can rebuy anything I lose due to hard drive failure. When it comes to pictures of my family, no amount of money can recreate them if I lose them. Over the years, my strategy has evolved as services have changed. I’ll do my best to keep this article up to date as things change in the future.

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Get Amazon’s highest rated iPad case now available in Ferrari Red

ZUGU CASE, maker of Amazon’s highest rated case for iPad, is releasing a new version of the case available today.

Based out of California, ZUGU has made a name for itself in recent years for its highly-rated iPad case called The Progidy. This week the company is launching an updated version of the case in a new “Ferrari Red” color pictured above and below for Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad (5th/6th gen)iPad Pro 10.5 (2017), and iPad Pro 12.9 (2017/2015)

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Photos: Apple welcomes customers to new stores at Orland Square Mall, Irvine Spectrum Center

Apple Irvine Spectrum Center (left, via Instagram) and Apple Orland Square Mall (right)

Apple revealed two completely reimagined retail stores today as part of its continued effort to update or expand every “classic” location. The new stores in Irvine, California and Orland Park, Illinois join the growing list of well over 100 locations featuring Apple’s most recent store design.

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London museum is livestreaming a key 21st-century artifact—festering sewage

Enlarge / The last remaining piece of a monster fatberg that was discovered in Whitechapel sewers last September. (credit: David Parry/PA Wire)

You can now feast your eyes on a festering chunk of solidified sewage as it ages, not-so-gracefully, inside a specially-designed isolation case that is being livestreamed from a museum in London.

Is there anything more 21st century than that?

The rancid refuse was chipped off an infamous sewer clog discovered in London late last year called the Whitechapel “Fatberg”—the preferred term for such muck monsters. The complete clog clocked in as an epic 250-meter-long, 130-metric ton mass of congealed excrement and waste, thought to be one of the largest—if not the largest—fatbergs ever identified. Authorities found it blocking a Victorian-era sewer line in the eastern Whitechapel area of the city. They spent nine long weeks in a subterranean war, hacking and blasting away the hardened blob

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Would you pay the premium for a 512GB iPhone? [Poll]

We heard news this week that Apple could bring three storage tiers to the 5.8- and 6.5-inch iPhones this year, with the top end offering 512GB. While we’ve heard that the base price of the OLED models could drop this year, the addition of an iPhone X Plus along with three storage tiers could definitely boost the devices’ average selling price. This will also likely mean the most expensive iPhones yet. How about you, would you spring for a 512GB model?

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Problem magnification: All Apple problems are dire

Apple’s faced a modest decline in its profit margin over a period of a few years. Must be time to overreact.

Writing for Bloomberg, Shira Ovide says “Honey, I Shrunk Apple’s Profit Margins.” (Tip o’ the antlers to a reader in Dallas.)

R&D spending is the culprit…

How dare they invest in the future!

…and it’s hard to tell whether it’s being put to good use.

You mean Apple isn’t detailing what it’s developing?! How very surprising.

To read this article in full, please click here

Who Goes There?: The Thing returns to the tabletop

Enlarge / The boardgame for the book is better crowd? (credit: Charlie Theel)

Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com.

Few moments linger in my brain like a particular scene in John Carpenter’s movie The Thing. In the cold of an Antarctic night, the group corners and confronts a mutated imitation of their pal Bennings, its eyes wide and mouth gaping. They give it the torch and burn it down. The moment is as unsettling as the film is iconic.

Carpenter’s work was an imaginative take on the novella Who Goes There? by John Campbell. As good as the transition to film was, we now have another interpretation—one made of cardboard and plastic. The new board game from Certifiable Studios means you too can now snuff out an insidious alien life form.

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Dealmaster: Some last minute back to school sales on laptops and more tech

Enlarge / The latest Dell XPS 13 in the new white and rose gold finish. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Greetings, Arsians! The Dealmaster is back this weekend with another round of deals to share. This time, we’re putting our focus on back to school sales; yes, the little Arsians are heading back to campus in the coming weeks (if they haven’t left already), which means it’s time for the annual rush of students and parents looking to find the proper gear.

Ars’ Jeff Dunn curated a buying guide of recommended back to school tech earlier this week, but if the goods there don’t work for you, it’s worth noting many retailers are still running gadget sales that could prove useful to college students. Various laptop makers are running deals on their notebooks, Amazon has kicked off another round of discounts on its Fire TV and Echo devices, and Best Buy is

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Making The Grade: Let’s move past iPad vs Mac and look at the future

Making The Grade is a weekly series from Bradley Chambers covering Apple in education. Bradley has been managing Apple devices in an education environment since 2009. Through his experience deploying and managing 100s of Macs and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple’s products work at scale, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for students.


The discussion around macOS and iOS has been going on since the iPad was first released. People have asked: what’s the long-term future of these product lines? Do we expect Apple to maintain iPhone, Mac, and iPad forever? I’ve long considered my ideal computing future to be something a little radical.

Paul Hansmeier finally cops to being a porn troll, after a years-long saga

Enlarge (credit: Aurich / Getty)

Paul Hansmeier, the Minnesota lawyer who was head of the porn trolling operation known as Prenda Law, has finally pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering charges.

As Ars previously reported, co-defendant and fellow attorney John Steele pled guilty in March 2017 to federal fraud and money laundering charges. Over the course of several years, Steele said he and a co-defendant, Hansmeier, made millions with “sham entities” that threatened Internet users with copyright lawsuits.

The two now-disbarred lawyers also worked with a third, now-deceased lawyer, Paul Duffy, in this operation that Illinois authorities dubbed extortion.

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