Some sage security advice after Radiohead’s unreleased music hack

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Bad news: Radiohead was hacked.

Last week, a hacker stole the band’s lead singer Thom Yorke’s private minidisk archive from the band’s third album and subsequent major worldwide hit, “OK Computer.” The hacker demanded $150,000 or they’d release it to the public.

Stuck between a ransom and a hard place, Radiohead released the tapes themselves.

The recordings were “never intended for public consumption” and “only tangentially interesting,” the band said in a post on Facebook. But “instead of complaining – much – or ignoring it, we’re releasing all 18 hours on Bandcamp” in aid of Extinction Rebellion, a climate change group.

Until the end of the month, the stolen recordings will be available for £18 ($23).

There is, though, a lesson to be learned. Holding files for ransom is more common today than ever thanks to ransomware. The event isn’t too dissimilar from a ransomware event. Pay the ransom or lose your files — or worse, have them spread all over the internet. That’s a business’ worst nightmare. We’ve seen ransomware destroy the computer networks of some of the largest companies around the world, like Arizona Beverages, Norsk Hydro and shipping giant Maersk. Ransomware is now a multibillion-dollar business, and it’s growing.

But in any ransom-type situation, the FBI has long told victims of ransomware to never pay. Security experts agree. Simply put, you run the risk of losing your files even if they pay the demand.

ProPublica recently found that even some of the largest ransomware recovery companies are quietly paying the ransom — and passing on the costs to the victim — with mixed results. In many cases, paying the demand failed to recover the files.

If there’s one takeaway from the Radiohead hack, it’s never pay the ransom. Better yet, plan for the worst and have a backup just in case.

Two years after WannaCry, a million computers remain at risk

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A pirate-fighting sailor wants to lasso and tow a 125-million-ton iceberg from Antarctica to solve South Africa’s water crisis

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iceberg

A South African mariner is pushing for an unusual solution to Cape Town’s water shortage: kidnapping an Antarctic iceberg.

Nicholas Sloane, a 56-year-old sailor who helps rescue stranded ships, wants to use supertankers to lasso a piece of floating ice in Antarctica and tow it all the way to Cape Town, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

The ideal iceberg, he said, would measure 3,281 feet long, 1,640 feet wide, and 820 feet deep. It would weigh 125 million tons — enough to "supply about 20% of Cape Town’s water needs for a year," Sloane told Bloomberg.

His proposal is to drag the captive iceberg more than 1,600 miles — a trip that would take between 80 and 90 days.

"If you’d asked me 10 years ago, I probably would have said this was crazy, but now the time is right," Sloane told Bloomberg.

Water-use quotas are still in place in Cape Town

Sloane has fought armed pirates, salvaged a capsizing cruise ship, and rescued penguins drenched in fuel from a shipwreck, Bloomberg reported. But during Cape Town’s crippling water shortage, which started in 2015 and ended last year,  Sloane said his family struggled.

Last year, drought conditions in Cape Town got so severe that the city worried it would run out of municipal water entirely. During that time, each household was allowed a daily quota of 13 gallons of water per person for necessities like washing, showering, and drinking. That’s less than one-quarter of the the average American’s daily water consumption.

"That’s enough to fill less than half a tub," Sloane told Bloomberg. "My wife used to take a bath every night a shower every morning. She told me, ‘You’d better do something.’"

In the end, Cape Town’s water stores were not completely emptied, thanks to heavy rainfall and strict water-use restrictions. But residents like Sloane’s family still face water quotas: Now they get a slightly higher 18 gallons of fresh water per person per day.

South Africa fresh water drought

For many South Africans, that’s not enough to return to normal-feeling life — and that’s where Sloane’s icy caper comes into play. 

Sloane will tow the iceberg with a 2-mile-wide net

Sloane has recruited a team of glaciologists, oceanographers, and engineers to help him make his iceberg-towing vision a reality. He’s calling the initiative the Southern Ice Project.

The team’s first step would be to use satellite data to find a berg of the desired shape and size. Once a suitable iceberg is selected, Sloane wants to ensconce it in a giant net, which would be about 2 miles wide and 60 feet high. The net would cost about $25 million and be made out of naturally buoyant ropes that could resist cold temperatures and high friction, Bloomberg reported.

This giant net would get wrapped around the 125-million-ton iceberg iceberg like a belt. Then Sloane would use two supertankers to pull the berg through choppy seas with winds reaching 80 miles per hour.

By the time the supertankers made it to Cape Town, the iceberg would have shrunk by about 8%. Of course, there’s no guarantee that the berg wouldn’t break up and float away at some point during the journey.

If all were to go well, though, the iceberg would get moored off Cape Town’s coast using an 800-ton, $22-million skirt. (This would envelop the berg’s base to protect it from salt-water erosion in the Atlantic.) Then machines would harvest semi-melted glacier water and transport it to land, where it would get fed into the municipal water system.

Sloane said the iceberg could contribute to the city’s water supply for a year before breaking down.

In total, the project is estimated to cost $200 million, and Sloane has secured funding from two South African banks and a Swiss water-tech company. He has also contributed more than $100,000 of his own money to the project.

But Tad Pfeffer, a glaciologist, told Live Science that the price tag means "economically, it’s probably not all that good an idea, except in dire emergency." 

An nearly endless source of fresh water

An iceberg floats near Orne Harbour, Antarctica

The Antarctic Ice Sheet extends almost 5.4 million square miles — about the area of the contiguous United States and Mexico combined. The Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets combined contain more than 99% of the world’s fresh water.

Every year, more than 100,000 Antarctic icebergs slough off the ice sheet and melt into the ocean. These bergs are often hundreds of times bigger than their Arctic counterparts, and have steep sides and a flat top, much like a tabletop. That makes them more stable and easier to tow, relatively speaking. 

Worldwide, 2.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, according to the World Health Organization. So  investors and innovators see icebergs as a potential source of fresh water that can be harnessed.

south africa drought

In fact, Sloane’s project is not the first of its kind. In 2018, an engineering firm in the United Arab Emirates proposed a similar iceberg-towing initiative for Dubai. That venture has yet to get underway, but private investors have put $60 million behind the project, according to NBC.

Read More: An engineering firm wants to tow icebergs thousands of miles from Antarctica to quench the driest areas of the world

"I promise you, the water situation in some parts of Africa is getting worse all the time. It’s certainly not getting better," Sloane told Bloomberg, adding, "20 or 30 years from now, I think towing icebergs will be a regular thing."

SEE ALSO: In a lost lake 3,500 feet under the Antarctic Ice, scientists just found the carcasses of tiny creatures

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A 1.1-trillion-ton iceberg broke off Antarctica, and scientists say it’s one of the largest ever recorded

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Mysterious Massive Anomaly 5 Times Bigger Than Hawaii Discovered On The Moon And Scientists Don’t Know What It Is

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Mysterious large mass discovered on Moon bewilders scientists: 'Whatever it is, wherever it came from'

iStockphoto / Kevin Wells

There is something extremely heavy on the moon. The massive anomaly is gargantuan and scientists don’t know for sure what it is. I’m not saying it’s aliens, but…

Researchers at Baylor University in Texas discovered the bewildering anomaly because whatever lies beneath the surface of the moon actually altered the gravity of the area. The scientists were measuring the strength of gravity around the moon and one specific area was extremely dense.

The researchers used data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, which set out to create a gravitational map of the moon. The gravitational map provides scientists with an idea on how dense or how hollow below the surface of the moon is.

In their paper, published in Geophysical Research Letters, the scientists also utilized topographic information taken from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The team’s research point to a huge mass that is at least 180 miles beneath the moon’s surface. The unknown material in the massive anomaly is so heavy that it pulls down on the moon’s surface and affects gravity in the area.

via GIPHY

“When we combined that with lunar topography data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we discovered the unexpectedly large amount of mass hundreds of miles underneath the South Pole-Aitken basin,” the study’s lead author Dr. Peter James said. The mass anomaly is weighing the basin floor downward by more than half a mile according to James.

This color-coded map from NASA displays the topography of the far side of the moon, specifically the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin. The warmer the colors the higher topography and the shades of blue colors indicate a very low topography.

This false-color graphic shows the topography of the far side of the Moon. The warmer colors indicate high topography and the bluer colors indicate low topography. The South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin is shown by the shades of blue. The dashed circle shows the location of the mass anomaly under the basin.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona

South Pole-Aitken basin is believed to have been created approximately 4 billion years ago. At 1,600 miles wide and 8.1 miles deep, the SPA is the largest preserved crater in the solar system. Oddly, the Chinese lunar explorer Chang’e 4 landed in South Pole-Aitken basin in January.

James called the basin “one of the best natural laboratories for studying catastrophic impact events, an ancient process that shaped all of the rocky planets and moons we see today.”

While scientists don’t have a definitive answer as to why it is so heavy around this area, they have several theories. Unfortunately, a space station is not one of them.

“One of the explanations of this extra mass is that the metal from the asteroid that formed this crater is still embedded in the Moon’s mantle,” James said.

Computer simulations found that under the right conditions, a large asteroid with an iron-nickel core of an asteroid may have smashed into the moon and created the crater. The asteroid went so deep that it deposited the iron-nickel into the moon’s upper mantle, which is the layer between the crust and core.

“We did the math and showed that a sufficiently dispersed core of the asteroid that made the impact could remain suspended in the Moon’s mantle until the present day, rather than sinking to the Moon’s core,” James said.

“Imagine taking a pile of metal five times larger than the Big Island of Hawaii and burying it underground,” James explained. “That’s roughly how much unexpected mass we detected.”

Another scientific hypothesis for the unexpected mass is that there is a concentration of dense metals that were compiled following the last stage of lunar magma ocean solidification billions of years ago.

Know what another possibility is? An alien base. What if someone is building a Death Star from the inside-out of the moon?

[ScienceDaily]

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The best coding kits for children

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If you want to try to get your kid into coding as young as possible, then Cubetto is the best place to start. It’s appropriate for children as young as three — which is largely because it strips the concept of programming down to its absolute basics. Oh, and there are no screens in sight. Cubetto is controlled entirely by putting colorful shapes in a wooden block that sends instructions to a smiley little robot. There are even Adventure Packs available that come with a play mat and a storybook to help put the core concepts in context.

READ ON:
The best educational coding kits for kids

tech will save us

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JPMorgan’s chief data officer wowed CEO Jamie Dimon with a video depicting the bank’s databases as a solar system. It set him up to lead one of largest Wall Street data projects.

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Rob Casper JPMorgan

  • As JPMorgan’s chief data officer, Rob Casper is involved in one of the largest data projects on Wall Street today.
  • His role, and that fact that it even exists, shows how important data is to Wall Street’s plans to hold on to customers and markets, despite the generational upheaval being brought about by technology.

Rob Casper stands up and takes a piece of laminated paper from behind his desk.

Standing in his 39th floor office in JPMorgan’s glass-walled midtown Manhattan headquarters, the bank’s chief data officer wants to make a point.

The card he holds lists iterations for the name of Long Term Capital Management, the hedge fund that collapsed more than 20 years ago. Full or partial acronyms, hyphens between different words, three- and four-letter abbreviations of the same word. The different titles take up the card’s front and back.

They’re just a sample of the names that Casper’s former firm, Morgan Stanley, used to refer to the hedge fund in its computer records, making it difficult to calculate how much the bank might lose in 1998 after Russia’s debt default sent the fund spiraling down. Wall Street bailed out LTCM in part because each firm didn’t know how much it would lose.

"You’d come in one day and say we found another $50 million in exposure, and your bosses would say, ‘Why didn’t you see this earlier,’" Casper said. "And the reason was, in this case, management was spelled ‘MGT,’ instead of ‘MGMT’ or ‘management’ in other places."

Read more: JPMorgan is in the middle of a ‘massive process’ of cleaning up thousands of databases, and it’s hoping to unleash AI once it’s finished

The experience proved formative for Casper, and laid the foundation for the work he’s now doing at JPMorgan. In what is one of the largest data projects on Wall Street today, Casper is consolidating the bank’s data architecture across hundreds of thousands of databases acquired during decades of acquisitions. He’s working with the firm’s machine-learning experts to clean the data and make it easier to use. And he’s developed a system of governance around how new data gets handled.

His role, and that fact that it even exists, shows how important data is to Wall Street’s plans to hold on to customers and markets, despite the generational upheaval being brought about by technology. In the coming years, the ability to find signals in the reams and reams of information owned and collected by banks may mean the difference between the industry’s winners and losers.

Rob Casper JPMorganCasper brings an unlikely background to the task. He started his career as a lawyer, at Cravath, Swaine, and Moore, the white-shoe law firm, representing the International Swaps and Derivatives Association on derivatives matters. Three years later, he joined Morgan Stanley, where he stayed until 2014. A stint as GE Capital’s first data chief preceded his 2016 move to JPMorgan. He has no technical training.

"I like the methodical approach that good data governance requires," he said, adding that in corporate America many people don’t take the time to address one issue before moving onto a second. "It’s really hard to execute a complex program like data governance. Thinking like a lawyer has helped in that regard."

At JPMorgan, Casper has taken a hard look at the hundreds of thousands of databases the bank maintains and begun to sort out which ones are integral to the bank’s functioning and which ones should be decommissioned. The bank maintains 390 petabytes of data storage. It would take 745 million floppy disks to store one petabyte of data.

He’s done so in a novel way. He asked staff to identify the most proximate databases for their needs, the ones they pull data from and those they send data to. Their answers will be collected and stitched together into a map of how JPMorgan’s databases are connected. He expects to see find orphaned databases that he can decommission.

In April 2018, Casper presented a video to JPMorgan’s management team to explain his work. The video shows the passage of time, starting with a cloud that looks like a solar system. As the video plays, lines begin to form between some of the stars, which grow in size and brightness. As the stars with the most links get larger, the solar system disappears into the background, leaving a network of connected stars linked by brightly colored lines.

The stars are databases and his video serves as a representation of how they communicate. CEO Jamie Dimon and copresident Daniel Pinto immediately got it, Casper said.

Read more: A subtle shift is underway at JPMorgan, and it illustrates Amazon’s influence on the Wall Street giant

That’s given him the budget and mandate to pursue what might otherwise seem rather mundane.

But its effect on JPMorgan may be huge. Shutting down databases ticks a number of helpful boxes: It saves money that was going to maintain them, improves customer-data safety by shrinking the number of hacker targets, gives the bank more control over its tech infrastructure, and helps to quickly identify and fix outages, according to Casper. JPMorgan spends nearly $11 billion a year on tech, and any money it can save could fall to the bottom line or be reinvested in innovation.

It also means wrangling the data into a form that can more easily be used for artificial intelligence and machine learning initiatives, he said. Casper is already working with Manuela Veloso, who heads the bank’s artificial-intelligence research. And he’s planning to design a search function for employees (a prototype already exists) to more easily query JPMorgan’s databases.

Read more: Credit Suisse’s CTO says that AI could create huge opportunities on Wall Street and that banks haven’t even scratched the surface

Rob Casper JPMorgan"Everybody loves artificial intelligence and machine learning, but without good data governance the benefits are likely compromised," Casper said, referencing the Wall Street buzz around AI and the promise of using it to predict client trades or future deals. "You need to make sure you have the best data for your machine-learning efforts to be successful."

One downside of shrinking the number of databases is that it makes those that remain more important, and increases the risk if one of the key databases goes down, Casper said.

More broadly, he’s established a governance framework that involves 51 taxonomies for the bank’s data. Employees are now applying those taxonomies and English words to databases, replacing what may seem like random numbers and letters with easily understood descriptors. They’re also examining hundreds of applications across the bank to ensure that the data they’re using matches up with the reference data.

It all goes back to an approach Casper developed at Morgan Stanley. He finally came up with a way of keeping all those LTCM accounts straight, taking steps to boil them down to a common denominator: the legal entity. The framework categorizes third-party account relationships, organizing legal entities into corporate hierarchies based on greater than 50% ownership, and can then be expanded to look at the people tied to those entities, as well as security issuers, derivatives or other product types, or vendor relationships.

The approach proved so groundbreaking that Casper and Jeff McMillan, now Morgan Stanley’s chief analytics and data officer, received a patent for their work, called "system and method for managing financial account information."

The model allows banks to more accurately measure their exposure to trading counterparties, as in the LTCM example. It also makes it easier to share information about an entity with various business units, removing some of the friction from the on-boarding process. And it makes complying with regulations easier since some authorities demand an ability to trace data from a specific cell in an Excel model back to its original source, while others expect lenders to monitor their international clients for anti-money-laundering controls.

"It was anything but rocket science; it was literally just having a very disciplined data model around legal entities and their relationship to each other," Casper said. The approach has "truly stood the test of time."

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: WATCH: The legendary economist who predicted the housing crisis says the US will win the trade war

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Electric scooter recharges in 5 minutes with StoreDot’s new battery, coming to cars next

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Range and recharge times are perhaps the two biggest issues currently facing electric vehicles. But StoreDot is ready to solve at least one of those. The company just showed off its fast charging batteries by topping up an empty electric scooter battery in just 5 minutes.

Electric scooters have taken the world by storm over the last few years. Cities like Paris have as many as 20,000 electric kick scooters on their streets. And they all run out of charge faster than riders would like.

So wouldn’t it be nice if they could be recharged in minutes instead of hours?

StoreDot’s new scooter batteries now prove that 5-minute recharges aren’t a dream anymore. During the Israeli battery company’s demo, a Torrot Muvi electric scooter with a completely discharged battery was topped up to 100% in just 5 minutes. That bought the scooter another 70 km (43 mi) of range.

“This is showing the world that we can break the barrier of fast charging, and what was considered impossible is actually possible,” said StoreDot Chief Executive Officer Doron Myersdorf, according to Bloomberg.

storedot scooter battery

But don’t take a screwdriver to your scooter in hopes of a battery swap just yet. StoreDot’s scooter batteries won’t be ready for retail sales until 2021. In the meantime, StoreDot is working on developing fast charging batteries for a number of different products, from 5-minute cell phone charging to full-size electric cars.

The company’s next proof of concept will be for a Mercedes electric vehicle. StoreDot plans to pump 480 km (300 mi) of range into the Mercedes in just 5 minutes, just like the electric scooter battery.

Mercedes Benz EQC electric SUV tested by Electrek’s Fred Lambert

StoreDot’s batteries, while still part of the larger class of Li-ion batteries, contain less lithium but more germanium and tin than other Li-ion batteries. StoreDot also includes anti-degradation agents into the battery chemistry to combat the biggest downside of fast battery charging: faster wear rates of batteries.

How much will StoreDot’s batteries cost once they make it out of the lab and onto the market? That’s anyone’s guess, but they certainly won’t be cheap in the beginning. As Doron explained, “Try to put a price tag on something that didn’t exist before. The sky is the limit in terms of value that impacts each person on the planet, and the planet itself.”

Electrek’s Take

Pretty exciting stuff, though I’m waiting to see how commercializing this tech will go. With good quality electric scooters currently costing just $400 on Amazon, I’m not sure I’ll want to pay four figures for a scooter just to make it charge quicker. And I can’t even imagine how much a full-size electric vehicle battery will cost.

But as with all new technology, the price is often sky high in the beginning before it floats down for the rest of us commoners.

Perhaps what I’m most excited about is seeing 5-minute charging in electric motorcycles. So far, electric motorcycles can do just about everything gas bikes can do. The one area where they still fall short is range. Without any big advances in battery energy density on the horizon, fast charging is the next best thing. If I could get an electric motorcycle with 150 mile (240 km) range and 5-minute charge time, I’d be pleased as punch. Electric motorcycle touring would finally be a thing.

Let’s do this, StoreDot!


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Radiohead just released 1.8GB of MiniDisc demos on Bandcamp

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Gen X and Y just got their Beatles Anthology, basically – and it’s fantastic. Radiohead remind us why we love them with nearly two gigs of demos ripped from (seriously) MiniDiscs.

Maybe it’s taking Radiohead back to the “just a band” phase, but there’s something gorgeous about these stripped-down and earnest productions. And if you don’t want to burden yourself with the 1.8GB, you can stream them to get a rough impression of one of the biggest bands of their generation when … they were developing ideas and didn’t bother to tune their guitars.

Live sets in there, too, sketches, the lot…

The amazing thing about this story is, they evidently are kidding about being “hacked” – it seems someone really did try to ransom all these all recordings. (Maybe. It’s certainly a believable possibility.)

Of course, unlike the previous generation’s demos, the 90s produced recordings that were pretty half-decent. You’ll hear some charming sounds as mics are moved about, but the quality is pretty crisp – and then you get an in-the-room quality missing in the umpteen times we’ve heard Radiohead’s albums and then various covers.

Heck, even though I run a site that celebrates technology, you might just say the band is even a bit better in this raw, punk format, without all the studio work. There’s just way too much to listen to all at once, but £18 GBP gets you what in the 90s we thought was a big file (two gigs is a lot of dialup download time).

Someone could say something about the value of music here, except Radiohead already have given away albums, so really, this is a slight increase of value? I guess?

Enjoy. And maybe dust off your MiniDisc recorder and go make something.

http://radiohead.bandcamp.com/album/minidiscs-hacked

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A Man’s Guide to Cleaning and Caring for Suede

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Suede is a leather material used to make belts, watch straps, bags, and more. Men are most likely to encounter it in shoes, like chukka boots. Suede looks and feels good; it adds a unique visual and physical texture to your footwear and accessories.

But for a lot of guys, suede can seem like an intimidating material. You’ve perhaps heard about its delicate nature — that it is easily scratched and scuffed and can be readily damaged by water, grease, and other elements and stains.

While suede isn’t quite as sensitive as it’s been made out to be, it does have its own care routine that differs from other leathers. We’ll get into that in just a bit. But first let’s have a look at what suede is and how it’s made. With both bits of knowledge under your (suede) belt, you’ll be well on your way to eliminating your aversion to this handsome material.  

What Is Suede?

If you’re anything like me, it’s possible that the way suede is labeled and marketed has made you think that it’s an entirely different variety of leather (or material altogether!) — something man-made or exotic.

The reality is much simpler: leather is a material made from the hide of any number of animals (cow, sheep, crocodile, etc.), and suede is formed through a process that can be applied to any of those leathers.

Manufacturing leather is a complex process, and different parts of the hide go into making the different kinds of leather — full grain, top grain, bonded, etc. Suede is the softer underside of the hide. Sometimes manufacturers will just flip the hide over, but that creates a stiff material that isn’t generally what you’re going for with suede (though Red Wing does this and calls it “Roughout” leather). Most of the time suede is actually made from a thin middle layer that gets fully cut away from the outer part of the hide. Suede is thinner, more naturally porous (hence being known as a water-sensitive material), and, since it was undercover and protected from the elements when it was part of the animal, not as naturally toughened up as the types of leather taken from the outside of the hide. The result is a napped material that’s softer, lighter, and, more prone to damage.

It should be noted that most suede is made from lamb — while other hides can be used, lamb suits itself best to the process; larger animals create a much shaggier nap, which just doesn’t look as nice.  

What About Nubuck?

If you’ve ever shopped around for suede you’ve likely also encountered the term “nubuck” or “nubuck suede.” Rather than coming from an inner layer of the hide, nubuck is actually full grain leather that’s been sanded/buffed to give it a slight nap. So it looks and feels much like suede, but with two main differences: 1) it’s not quite as soft, and 2) it’s a bit more heavy and durable since it’s the outer part of the hide. This also means it doesn’t quite need the same maintenance (though the below routine can still be followed, just less frequently). When it comes to nubuck vs. true suede it’s not really a question of one of them being better or worse; it’s more about what you’re looking for in the material.

How to Care for Suede and Make It Last

As previously alluded to, suede isn’t as delicate as you may think. Scratches can be buffed away, and a little bit of water or dirt isn’t going to permanently ruin your shoes.

But, it does need to be cared for and maintained, just as your other leathers do, albeit with a different process and set of products. The bristles in the brush in your standard leather care kit are usually a bit large to be working on suede, and you definitely don’t want to be using any polish/cream on the material, nor a wet cloth.

So first, get yourself a suede care kit. Any suede-specific kit will come with a small brush (and sometimes a second brush specifically for maintaining the nap) as well as what’s called a suede eraser (or sometimes suede block). It’s basically a large rubber eraser that removes scuffs. And depending on the kit, you may also get a leather protector in the form of a clear spray.

As soon as you crack open your new suede shoes or belt, give it a spray with the protectant.

From there, use the following routine — once a month or so for irregular use; every 1-2 weeks with regular all-day wear — to regularly care for your suede and make sure that it lasts for years to come:

1. Brush

Use the bristle brush to clean off any dirt, sediment, etc. Don’t press too hard and scuff the material — it’s more like the pressure of brushing your teeth than washing dishes. You also want to brush in a single direction to keep the nap uniform.

When you brush, it does appear to change the color some, but that’s just the nap fluctuating (just like what happens when you run your hand over a suede or velvety couch).

2. Erase

If there are specific spots or any stains on the material that didn’t come out with the first brushing, use the eraser to gently scrub them off. Again, use a light pressure. The eraser works great for nearly any stain that isn’t grease (more on that below) as well as scuffs and small scratches.

Grease Stains

One thing that can truly muck up any material — suede included — is grease. One little spot can really ruin the uniform look of a shoe or accessory. With this particular type of stain, there’s one product that does near-miraculous wonders: cornstarch.

Apply a small pile to the stain (be liberal here), allow at least 15 minutes for the cornstarch to sit and absorb the grease (up to an hour or so), and then brush away with your suede brush. One application may very well remove the stain completely. If not, apply cornstarch again and repeat the process until the stain is gone. Give the area a scrub with the eraser, then give it a final brush to fully remove any residue and restore the nap.

Don’t try to use other grease-fighting agents, like dish soap, as they can ruin the material.

Bonus #1: cornstarch can also be used effectively even on old and seemingly set-in stains (though it’s not a guarantee of course).

Bonus #2: cornstarch can be used on any material to remove grease. No more relegating stained shirts to the rag pile.

3. Brush Again

Before and after. On the left you can see a couple small scuffs and the nap is not uniform, giving it sort of a splotched look. After brushing and erasing, on the right, you can see the scuffs are gone and the nap is nice and uniform, giving the shoe a polished look. On the floor you’ll notice the residue/sediment that gets brushed off; it really does make a difference and keeps the material clean. 

After you’ve used your eraser, brush the suede once again, in a uniform direction. If your kit comes with a second brush (often called a “crepe” brush), use it here.  

4. Spray

Apply a clear protectant by holding the item about arm’s length away and giving it a good spray all over. The material will probably change color some, but don’t worry at all, that will go away.   

If your suede gets wet, don’t fret. If it’s just a little bit, let it dry, then give it a brushing. If it got quite wet or muddy, dab it dry with a paper towel, let it dry, and give it a clean. If you’ve been regularly applying the spray, you don’t have much to worry about.

If you do end up with a stain of any kind that you can’t get out yourself with either a brush or eraser (or cornstarch), look for a dry cleaner in your area that does leather/suede.

Again, while suede is not a delicate fabric per se, it is more prone to damage. So you might as well not take chances with how you wear it. In general, do yourself a favor and just don’t put on the suede boots if the forecast calls for inclement weather, or if your agenda calls for a muddy adventure.

If you do that, and follow the maintenance routine described above, your suede products will find years of enjoyable use.

The post A Man’s Guide to Cleaning and Caring for Suede appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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The Internet Is In A Heated Debate About Toast And There Seems To Be No Right Answer

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Another summer weekend is upon us, which means there’s not a hell of a lot to talk about on the internet.

Not counting all the things wrong with our government.

That said, there’s a heated debate raging, and it revolves around everyone’s 4th or 5th favorite breakfast item – toast.

Ann Wilson, lead singer of Heart (ask your mom), posted this photo and asked for the “correct” answer to the level of done-ness for toast.

Personally, I fall in the 3/4 range but only because I’m impatient as hell. Waiting for food is torture.

I’m the person who makes eggs and bacon but makes bacon first and then eats it all before the eggs are done.

People had things to say about this toast issue.

Obviously, that last person is either a murderer or the President.

Because this is the internet, there’s a YouTube tutorial on how to properly make toast.

Good luck at breakfast tomorrow.

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How to Be a Better Friend

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We all have the habit of falling into the cycle of work and sleep and forgetting to respond to a friend’s text or missing an important date in their lives. But it’s important to maintain the friendships we have; after all, there’s no shortage of studies that suggest that friendship is good for our well-being and might even extend our life expectancy. Given just how hard it is to make new friends as an adult, here’s how to strengthen the friendships you already have.

Initiate plans

If you’re flaky, the kind of person who is constantly unwilling to commit to things—it’s time you change that. For one, it’s easy for a friend to interpret that unwillingness to make plans as “I’m not interested in seeing you,” even if that’s untrue. (If it is true, well, that’s another story.)

Obviously, the easiest way to combat this attitude is to accept any invitations from friends. The other solution is to initiate plans more often, so your friend doesn’t get the impression you’re avoiding them. You should initiate specific plans—a time, a date, and a place—so you’re not just sending vague smoke signals that you want to meet up. Better yet, make it a regular weekly or monthly hangout if you can, so you’ll it becomes part of your regular routine.

And if you cancel the plans for whatever reason, you’ll need to be the one to initiate plans next time; barring any emergency, it’s never cool to cancel last-minute. Regardless, staying in touch is important, even if it’s just a casual text, too.

Make plans on their terms

This brings us to another important tip: Be willing to make plans that don’t accommodate your needs only. When you meet a friend, decide on a time and a place that’s convenient for them (and not around the block from your apartment). It’s a simple gesture that shows you care for their needs, too.

For this reason, I try to make plans that are convenient for my friends, whether it’s trekking the 45-minute subway ride to Bushwick or a restaurant close to their work.

Remember important dates

Are you the kind of friend who doesn’t wish another friend happy birthday until a week after it’s passed? It happens, though that’s an especially criminal example. As u/C8H10N4O2xlife suggests on a recent Reddit thread (and we’ve written about before), don’t forget those important dates, like birthdays or other important events in your friends’ lives.

“Often times I actually make calendar reminders for any of the big things those 4-6 people mention—family trips, concerts they’re looking forward to, deadlines they’re worried about,” they wrote. “It might be weird to do for people you’re not super close with….but it helps me remember to be involved with those 4-6 and they seem to really appreciate it.”

When the date comes up, send them a simple text and ask how it’s going—these little gestures are actually meaningful. You show you’re thinking of your friend, that when they’re not around, they’re still on your mind.

Put down the phone

If you want to be a better friend, you’ll have to learn how to listen better, too. (For most of us, this might be easier said than done.) As Fast Company writes, sometimes, we might have a tendency to listen because we’re being polite, not because we’re genuinely curious.

“If we ever finish a conversation and learned nothing surprising, we weren’t really listening,” Hal Gregersen, executive director of the MIT Leadership Center, told Fast Company.

Engaging without having an agenda is key; listen without judgment and interruption. Wait until they’ve finished a story and ask questions (genuine ones, of course).

Give up the bad friends

In order to be a good friend, you should have friends who are good to you, too. I have a number of flakier friends who change plans several times before we meet up or show up an hour late.

Over time, I learned it wasn’t always worth it to end up in a week-long exchange via text when I knew they would inevitably alter or cancel plans altogether. And since my early 20s, I’ve whittled down my friendships to three good friends I can count on.

In other words, part of being a good friend is learning when to say no to some friends and devoting your time and effort to others. You don’t have to keep in touch with absolutely every friend from college or colleague you liked—that’s what Facebook’s for, after all—so recognize those who matter to you most.


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