Learn What IKEA Product Names Actually Mean With This Dictionary

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Photo by John Pastor.

IKEA products have a wide variety of interesting names. Some are Swedish words, others are named after places, and some are just made-up names made from mixing other words. This dictionary lists them all.

The IKEA Dictionary is a project by Lars Petrus Petrus, and he says most IKEA names are actually pretty funny or clever, so he wanted to share the joy with others. The project isn’t affiliated with the brand at all, and it’s a lot of fun to poke around.

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According to Petrus, most IKEA product names fall into a few main groups that include proper Swedish words, improper Swedish words, first names, geographical names, and some weird ones that just don’t seem to fit in any category. Here are a few examples:

  • TORSBY: Literally “Thor’s Village.” Swedish town in the forests near Norway.
  • AMON: A version of the Egyptian deity Amun-Ra.
  • BAGIS: Slang for one Krona ($0.14). Also slang for the Stockholm suburb of Bagarmossen.
  • ZITA: The patron saint of maids. Also Stockholm’s oldest movie theater.
  • BITIG: A strangely constructed joke word. Means ‘bite-y’, or conducive to biting.
  • MAJBY: Nine people in Sweden have this last name. Nothing else seems to.

Out of all 1,362 IKEA product names, Petrus is only missing 130 or so. Check out the full dictionary at the link below.

The IKEA Dictionary via Kottke.org

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How to Make the Best Possible Pot Brownies

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Photo by gorka arcocha.

I’d wager a good portion of 14-64 year old humans ask “Is there weed in here?” when handed a homemade brownie. So ubiquitous are THC-laded chocolatey treats that this buddy comedy fuel is often people’s first foray into edible cannabis. (Likely attributable to chocolate’s powers of covering up nearly any unpleasant taste.) Too-strong brownies sometimes carry the deep bitterness of raw marijuana, but with the right proportions you can make a brownie that’s as delicious as it is dastardly.

Some bakers opt for chocolate ganache while others are in love with the cocoa (powder). Both will give you moist and gooey brownies on their own, but combining the two makes them addictively fudgey and, pot or not, they stand alone. Brownies bake up like an extra-dense cake, and both the pan and the baking time dictate the degree of fudge you end up with. A big wide pan will give you a thick chewy result, whereas smaller portioned pans will bake up super fast and gain height.

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To make Perfect Pot Brownies, we invoke a slightly more luxe version of King Arthur Flour’s recipe. I like this one because it’s well-tested by professional recipe developers, but forgiving if you want to make tweaks, which we are going to do to max out the fudge factor. Make your butter in advance and store it in the freezer, thawing before use. You can make it the day of, just make sure to give yourself three hours of butter prepping time before you intend to start baking.

Prepare Cannabis Infused Butter

Total newbies and novices to cannabis baking can rejoice that in 2017 you don’t have to dig deep in the annals of the internet to find some rando’s horrifying attempt from 1996. “Heritage” recipes lean toward the coma-inducingly strong, which most people truly do not find to be a good time. Between devices like The Magical Butter Machine and Levo you can leave (most) of the guesswork to a device and come out with a consistent product to your exact specifications.

The best method for smaller batches of infusions is a Lifehacker classic: sous vide. Simply seal up one stick of butter with an eighth of mid-to-high grade finely ground and decarboxylated bud, and heat at 170℉ or 160℉ for an hour or two. Shorter cook times give you more of the early cannabinoids like CBD and THC, as well as preserve the terpenes that give each strain its unique smell and taste. Longer cook times provide sleepier butter that has more CBN, known for couch lock, not to be ignored if you suffer from insomnia.

Make the Brownies

Photo by Maria Penaloza

For Brownies:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter that’s been infused with 3.5 grams of cannabis (see above)
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • ¾ cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounce bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 jumbo eggs
  • The guts of one vanilla bean

Preheat to 350℉. If you’ve prepped your butter in a sous-vide bag, toss it into a bowl with warm water and let it soften fully before mixing the batter. Baking all brownies, even cannabis brownies, calls for your standard wet bowl, dry bowl batter technique, so start by mixing all of the dry ingredients together. Then, in a second bowl, combine vanilla and eggs.

Photo by Maria Penaloza

Melt the chocolate gently with either a double boiler or in a microwave in short bursts. Stir in the shortening into the chocolate until it melts. Stream the chocolate mixture slowly into the eggs and mix with a spatula, then fold in cannabutter. Make sure everything is uniformly mixed without aerating too much.

Photo by Maria Penaloza

Fold the wet batter into the combined dry ingredients, and stir this sinfully thick goop again until it’s just mixed. Here’s where my bff OXO bowl scrapers come in handy: they allow you to squeeze out every last drop of the fudge into a waiting greased and parchment lined 9×7 pan. Smooth out the mixture and smack it flat on the counter a few times to make sure there is no air trapped inside.

Photo by Maria Penaloza

Bake for 15 minutes, rotate the pan, then bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes. At this point your brownies are warm and edible, but be warned that their structure will come from cooling completely, similar to chocolate chip cookies. If you can’t wait for them to cool completely, at least use a big, sharp knife to cut off a slab so you don’t damage the innards too much. Use the paper to take them out of the pan and cool the rest of the way on a wire rack.

Photo by Maria Penaloza

Portion, or don’t, but keep in mind that each 1-inch square will have roughly 29 milligrams of THC, a potent dose, so serve small chunks. You can also swap out half of the butter for the non-psychoactive kind and drop the dosage down to 15 milligrams, which is much more reasonable for people who don’t smoke habitually. Follow the basic edible protocol not laid out by Maureen Dowd and try not to consume more than 5 milligrams at time if you are a new denizen of weedland. Always wait 60 minutes before eating more, because eating too much can leave you impaired for hours at a time.

Photo by Maria Penaloza

These devilishly rich bites will be too tasty to resist, so no one will judge you for making them sans herb, but if you want to impress someone or just imbibe the nostalgic way, this is it.

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The world looks different after today’s big neutron star collision discovery

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The world looks different after today’s big neutron star collision discovery

Illustration shows the aftermath of a neutron star collision.Illustration shows the aftermath of a neutron star collision.

Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab

My grandmother died in 2013. 

She was a stubborn, brilliant woman who ardently believed in the value of science. She came of age in Brooklyn, but I knew her as my Nana in Los Angeles who worked with dinosaur bones. 

When she died, my grandfather gave me one of Nana’s necklaces: A jade stone with a gold chain. I wear it most days. 

After today, I will look at that necklace differently. 

While the jade stone on Nana’s necklace was forged in the high heat and pressure of the Earth — an appropriate tribute to Nana’s roots as a geologist — the gold of the necklace she once wore is alien in origin. 

A discovery announced Monday and made by thousands of scientists around the world, shows that the gold on Earth was actually created as a byproduct of the cataclysmic collisions of neutron stars — the city-sized stellar remnants that can contain more mass than the sun.

This means that Earth’s gold, silver, platinum, and uranium, among other heavy metals, were likely formed during cosmic crashes of neutron-dense stars that represent the leftovers of supernova explosions.

It’s a rare moment when a scientific discovery truly and fundamentally alters the way you think about our world. It’s even more unusual when a finding makes you reevaluate your feelings about the jewelry around your neck.

Artist's illustration of the neutron star collision.

Artist’s illustration of the neutron star collision.

And it’s not just the necklace.

There are also the atoms of the rose gold ring my now-husband gave me when he asked me to marry him on a cold April day in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park in 2015. They, too, were also likely the result of crashing neutron stars in the distant cosmos.

The gold on my finger and around my neck probably started out as the radioactive fallout from some of the most intense explosions in the known universe.

These precious metals, which we mine from the Earth for cell phones, jewelry, and so many other uses, are finite on this planet after being born in the stars.

While these materials were created in the most extreme ways, we use them in the most mundane.

That’s perhaps the most apropos truth of all: We use these heavy elements for very human means, from connecting with one another via text or on a phone call, to representing a commitment or memory.

Gold made in the sky.

Gold made in the sky.

The truth is that in some way, every piece of us — all of our atoms — were born elsewhere in the universe.

As scientist and science communicator Carl Sagan once said: “The cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” 

This week, I think we’re getting to know ourselves pretty well.

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Mapping the blockchain project ecosystem

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Josh Nussbaum
Contributor

Joshua Nussbaum is a partner at the New York-based venture firm, Compound.

Blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, and token sales are all the rage right now. In the 5+ years I’ve been working in the VC industry, this is by and large the fastest I’ve seen any area of technology take off in terms of new company (or project) formation.

It wasn’t too long ago that founders and VCs were mainly focused on centralized exchanges, enterprise or private blockchain solutions, wallets, amongst several other popular blockchain startup ideas that dominated the market from 2012 to somewhere around 2016.

However, as I wrote about a few months ago, the rise of Ethereum with its Turing-complete scripting language and the ability for developers to include state in each block, has paved the way for smart contract development. This has led to an influx of teams building decentralized projects seeking to take advantage of the most valuable property of blockchains — the ability to reach a shared truth that everyone agrees on without intermediaries or a centralized authority.

There are many exciting developments coming to market both in terms of improving existing blockchain functionality as well as the consumer’s experience. However, given the rapid pace at which projects are coming to market, I’ve found it to be difficult to keep track of each and every project and where each one fits into the ecosystem.

Furthermore, it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees without a comprehensive view of what the proverbial forest looks like.

As a result, here’s a compiled a list of all of the decentralized blockchain-based projects that I have been following, and was able to dig up through research, along with recommendations from friends in the ecosystem.

A quick disclaimer: While it’s difficult to pigeonhole a number of projects into one category, I did my best to pinpoint the main purpose or value proposition of each project and categorize them as such. There are certainly many projects that fall into the gray area and could fit into multiple categories. The hardest ones are the “fat protocols” which offer functionality in more than a couple of areas.

Below is an overview of each broader category I’ve identified, touching on some of the subcategories that comprise them:

                           Currencies

For the most part, these projects were created with the intention of building a better currency for various use cases and represent either a store of value, medium of exchange, or a unit of account.

While Bitcoin was the first and is the most prominent project in the category, many of the other projects set out to improve upon a certain aspect of Bitcoin’s protocol or tailor it towards a specific use case.

The Privacy subcategory could probably fall into either the Payments or Base Layer Protocols categories, but I decided to break them out separately given how important anonymous, untraceable cryptocurrencies (especially Monero and ZCash) are for users who would like to conceal a transaction because they prefer not to broadcast a certain purchase for one reason or another, or for enterprises who don’t want to reveal trade secrets.

    Developer Tools                 

Projects within this category are primarily used by developers as the building blocks for decentralized applications. In order to allow users to directly interact with protocols through application interfaces (for use cases other than financial ones), many of the current designs that lie here need to be proven out at scale.

Protocol designs around scaling and interoperability are active areas of research that will be important parts of the Web3 development stack.

In my opinion, this is one of the more interesting categories at the moment from both an intellectual curiosity and an investment standpoint.

In order for many of the blockchain use cases we’ve been promised to come to fruition such as fully decentralized autonomous organizations or a Facebook alternative where users have control of their own data, foundational, scalable infrastructure needs to grow and mature.

Many of these projects aim at doing just that.

Furthermore, these projects aren’t in a “winner take all” area in the same way that say a cryptocurrency might be as a store of value.

For example, building a decentralized data marketplace could require a a number of Developer Tools subcategories such as Ethereum for smart contracts, Truebit for faster computation, NuCypherfor proxy re-encryption,ZeppelinOS for security, and Mattereum for legal contract execution to ensure protection in the case of a dispute.

Because these are protocols and not centralized data silos, they can talk to one another, and this interoperability enables new use cases to emerge through the sharing of data and functionality from multiple protocols in a single application.

Preethi Kasireddy does a great job of explaining this dynamic here.

                       Fintech

This category is fairly straightforward. When you’re interacting with a number of different protocols and applications (such as in the Developer Tools example above), many may have their own native cryptocurrency, and thus a number of new economies emerge.

In any economy with multiple currencies, there’s a need for tools for exchanging one unit of currency for another, facilitating lending, accepting investment, etc.

The Decentralized Exchanges (DEX) subcategory could arguably have been categorized as Developer Tools.

Many projects are already starting to integrate the 0x protocol and I anticipate this trend to continue in the near future. In a world with the potential for an exorbitant number of tokens, widespread adoption of applications using several tokens will only be possible if the complexity of using them is abstracted away — a benefit provided by decentralized exchanges.

Both the Lending and Insurance subcategories benefit from economies of scale through risk aggregation.

By opening up these markets and allowing people to now be priced in larger pools or on a differentiated, individual basis (depending on their risk profile), costs can decrease and therefore consumers should in theory win.

Blockchains are both stateful and immutable so because previous interactions are stored on chain, users can be confident that the data that comprises their individual history hasn’t been tampered with.

Sovereignty                                  

As the team at Blockstack describes in their white paper:

“Over the last decade, we’ve seen a shift from desktop apps (that run locally) to cloud-based apps that store user data on remote servers. These centralized services are a prime target for hackers and frequently get hacked.”

Sovereignty is another area that I find most interesting at the moment.

While blockchains still suffer from scalability and performance issues, the value provided by their trustless architecture can supersede performance issues when dealing with sensitive data; the safekeeping of which we’re forced to rely on third parties for today.

Through cryptoeconomics, users don’t need to trust in any individual or organization but rather in the theory that humans will behave rationally when correctly incentivized.

The projects in this category provide the functionality necessary for a world where users aren’t forced to trust in any individual or organization but rather in the incentives implemented through cryptography and economics.

Value Exchange

A key design of the Bitcoin protocol is the ability to have trust amongst several different parties, despite there being no relationship or trust between those parties outside of the blockchain. Transactions can be created and data shared by various parties in an immutable fashion.

It’s widely considered fact that people begin to organize into firms when the cost of coordinating production through a market is greater than within a firm individually.

But what if people could organize into this proverbial “firm” without having to trust one another?

Through blockchains and cryptoeconomics, the time and complexity of developing trust is abstracted away, which allows a large number people to collaborate and share in the profits of such collaboration without a hierarchical structure of a traditional firm.

Today, middlemen and rent seekers are a necessary evil in order to keep order, maintain safety, and enforce the rules of P2P marketplaces. But in many areas, these cryptoeconomic systems can replace that trust, and cutting out middlemen and their fees will allow users to exchange goods and services at a significantly lower cost.

The projects in the subcategories can be broken down into two main groups: fungible and non-fungible. Markets that allow users to exchange goods and services that are fungible will commoditize things like storage, computation, internet connectivity, bandwidth, energy, etc. Companies that sell these products today compete on economies of scale which can only be displaced by better economies of scale.

By opening up latent supply and allowing anyone to join the network (which will become easier through projects like 1Protocol) this no longer becomes a daunting task, once again collapsing margins towards zero.

Non-fungible markets don’t have the same benefits although they still allow providers to earn what their good or service is actually worth rather than what the middlemen thinks it’s worth after they take their cut.

Shared Data

One way to think about the shared data layer model is to look at the airline industry’s Global Distribution Systems (GDS’s). GDS’s are a centralized data warehouse where all of the airlines push their inventory data in order to best coordinate all supply information, including routes and pricing.

This allows aggregators like Kayak and other companies in the space to displace traditional travel agents by building a front end on top of these systems that users can transact on.

Typically, markets that have been most attractive for intermediary aggregators are those in which there is a significant barrier to entry in competing directly, but whereby technological advances have created a catalyst for an intermediary to aggregate incumbents, related metadata, and consumer preferences (as was the case with GDS’s).

Through financial incentives provided by blockchain based projects, we’re witnessing the single most impactful technological catalyst which will open up numerous markets, except the value no longer will accrue to the aggregator but rather to the individuals and companies that are providing the data.

In 2015, Hunter Walk wrote that one of the biggest missed opportunities of the last decade was eBay’s failure to open up their reputation system to third parties which would’ve put them at the center of P2P commerce.

I’d even take this a step further and argue that eBay’s single most valuable asset is reputation data which is built up over long periods of time, forcing user lock-in and granting eBay the power to levy high taxes on its users for the peace of mind that they are transacting with good actors. In shared data blockchain protocols, users can take these types of datasets with them as other applications hook into shared data protocols, reducing barriers to entry; increasing competition and as a result ultimately increasing the pace of innovation.

The other way to think about shared data protocols can be best described using a centralized company, such as Premise Data, as an example. Premise Data deploys network contributors who collect data from 30+ countries on everything from specific food/beverage consumption to materials used in a specific geography.

The company uses machine learning to extract insights and then sells these datasets to a range of customers. Rather than finding and hiring people to collect these datasets, a project could be started that allows anyone to collect and share this data, annotate the data, and build different models to extract insights from the data.

Contributors could earn tokens which would increase in value as companies use the tokens to purchase the network’s datasets and insights. In theory, the result would be more contributors and higher quality datasets as the market sets the going rate for information and compensates participants accordingly relative to their contribution.

There are many similar possibilities as the “open data platform” has been a popular startup idea for a few years now with several companies finding great success with the model. The challenge I foresee will be in sales and business development.

Most of these companies sell their dataset to larger organizations and it will be interesting to see how decentralized projects distribute theirs in the future. There are also opportunities that weren’t previously possible or profitable as a standalone, private organization to pursue, given that the economics don’t work for a private company.

Authenticity

Ultimately, cryptocurrencies are just digital assets native to a specific blockchain and projects in this category are using these digital assets to represent either real world goods (like fair tickets) or data.

The immutability of public blockchains allows network participants to be confident in the fact that the data written to them hasn’t been tampered with or changed in any way and that it will be available and accessible far into the future.

Hence why, for sensitive data or markets for goods which have traditionally been rife with fraud, it would make sense to use a blockchain to assure the user of their integrity.

Takeaways

While there’s a lot of innovation happening across all of these categories, the projects just getting started that I’m most excited about are enabling the web3 development stack by providing functionality that’s necessary across different use cases, sovereignty through user access control of their data, as well as fungible value exchange.

Given that beyond financial speculation we’ve yet to see mainstream cryptocurrency use cases, infrastructure development and use cases that are vastly superior for users in either cost, privacy, and/or security in extremely delicate areas (such as identity, credit scoring, VPN’s amongst others) seem to be the most likely candidates to capture significant value.

Longer-term, I‘m excited about projects enabling entire ecosystems to benefit from shared data and the bootstrapping of networks (non-fungible value exchange). I’m quite sure there are several other areas that I’m not looking at correctly or haven’t been dreamt up yet!

As always if you’re building something that fits these criterion or have any comments, questions or points of contention, I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you to Jesse Walden, Larry Sukernik, Brendan Bernstein, Kevin Kwok, Mike Dempsey, Julian Moncada, Jake Perlman-Garr, Angela Tran Kingyensand Mike Karnjanaprakorn for all your help on the market map and blog post.

Disclaimer: Compound is an investor in Blockstack and two other projects mentioned in this post which have not yet been announced.

*This article first appeared on Medium and has been republished courtesy of Josh Nussbaum. 

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This powerful quote about sexual violence will change the way you talk about it

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This powerful quote about sexual violence will change the way you talk about it

Image: Shutterstock / VGstockstudio

Two words: #MeToo. That’s what it took to turn the world’s attention to the magnitude of sexual harassment and assault. Now that we’re finally talking about it, it’s high time we thought about the language we use to talk about sexual assault.

A quote about the gendered language we use discuss rape and assault has gone viral, prompting thousands to question the way they think and talk about survivors of sexual violence. 

The quote—which comes from a TED Talk by Jackson Katz—is proving deeply resonant on social media, garnering over 70K retweets and 131K likes on Twitter. The quote comes from a 2013 TED Talk entitled “Violence against women—it’s a men’s issue,” in which Katz states that harassment and violence against women are “intrinsically men’s issues.” 

“We talk about how many women were raped last year, not about how many men raped women. We talk about how many girls in a school district were harassed last year, not about how many boys harassed girls,” the quote begins. 

“So you can see how the use of the passive voice has a political effect. [It] shifts the focus off of men and boys and onto women,” Katz continues.

Katz adds that the term “violence against women” is problematic as it’s a “passive construction” and there’s no “active agent in the sentence.” 

“It’s a bad thing that happens to women, but when you look at that term ‘violence against women,’ nobody is doing it to them. It just happens to them…Men aren’t even a part of it.”

Hear, hear!

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Drive Anywhere, Sleep Anywhere: Top Vehicles From Overland Expo

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Custom 4x4s, factory-made adventure vehicles, modified sleep systems: Overland Expo East displays the cutting edge and creative state of off-road vehicles.

Standout Adventure Vehicle's From Overland Expo East 2017

For a second year, the twice-annual Overland Expo East was held on the gorgeous Biltmore Estate grounds in Asheville, N.C. The event serves as center stage for the current state of the overland world, with hundreds of exhibitors showing off their rigs.

Variety is the name of the game with Overland Expo East. Browsing the vehicle’s at the show, one can see cars for tackling the roughest of trails, others that offer the coziest sleeping options, and more that revive decades-old options into formidable adventure-seeking vehicles.

Below is a cross-section of the vehicles dotting the event grounds. As you’ll see, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone has their own financial, adventure, and comfort parameters.

Standout Adventure Vehicle's From Overland Expo East 2017

The groupings below are general categories that break down the wide variety of vehicles we spotted at Overland Expo East.

Truck Campers

Standout Adventure Vehicle's From Overland Expo East 2017

We’ll start off with the big boys of the overland world, generally classified as “truck campers.” For our purposes, this group encompasses everything from a Tacoma pickup with a slide-in camper, all the way up to an industrial truck chassis with custom composite living quarters on back.

Standout Adventure Vehicle's From Overland Expo East 2017

Yes, they can be even bigger than this!

Standout Adventure Vehicle's From Overland Expo East 2017

GXV’s new “Adventure Truck” debuted at the show, and is the smallest in its line of monster overland vehicles, starting at $198,000.

Standout Adventure Vehicle's From Overland Expo East 2017

LMTV ex-military trucks are just now becoming popular as the basis for large overland builds.

Standout Adventure Vehicle's From Overland Expo East 2017

This Maltec 70 Series camper build debuted on North American shores at the show and turned a lot of heads.

Vans

Standout Adventure Vehicle's From Overland Expo East 2017

The van life truly is the good life. No vehicle lets you optimize interior living space more. The bad part is that vans can be extremely hard to work on, as the motor is generally buried in the body of the vehicle.

There are also very few 4-wheel-drive van options on the market, and those that are available aren’t generally capable off-road. That, or they come with a steep price.

Standout Adventure Vehicle's From Overland Expo East 2017

MadMax would be proud of this monster van build.

Standout Adventure Vehicle's From Overland Expo East 2017

Winnebago went big and launched its “Revel” 4×4 Sprinter at the show. This fully featured RV starts at $130,000.

Standout Adventure Vehicle's From Overland Expo East 2017

The Mitsubishi Delica is becoming more popular in the U.S., as really nice examples are now eligible to import under the 25-year rule.

The post Drive Anywhere, Sleep Anywhere: Top Vehicles From Overland Expo appeared first on GearJunkie.

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The best way to get cheap data while traveling internationally

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The best way to get cheap data while traveling internationally

Image: vicky leta/mashable

My favorite travel gadget isn’t my camera or noise-canceling headphones or even my iPhone. It’s a SIM card from Google.

I’m talking, of course, about Project Fi, Google’s wireless service that provides cheap voice and data plans to Nexus and Pixel owners. It’s also the perfect way to get data abroad without breaking the bank.

That’s because the service offers flat-rate data no matter how many countries you travel to (Fi currently has service in 135 countries), and makes it super simple to pause your service when you get home so you only ever have to pay when you need it.

A basic Project Fi plan starts at $20 a month for unlimited texting and local calling. Data is a flat rate of $10/GB and non-local calls are $.20 a minute. You can decide upfront how much data you want to be automatically included in your plan, but you only ever have to pay for what you use — Fi will credit back anything you don’t use.

It does require a bit of an upfront investment, since Google limits Project Fi to its Nexus and Pixel phones. And, yes, that means you’ll need to use Android (though there are workarounds for making Project Fi work with iPhones, assuming you have an unlocked phone and can get access to a Nexus or Pixel to activate the SIM).

Image: mashable/karissa bell

But you don’t need the latest Pixel 2, which starts at $649, to get the most from Project Fi. I’ve used the service with the Nexus 6 and Nexus 5x — both of which can be found online for well under $300. 

And if you don’t like the idea of spending a couple hundred bucks on an older phone, there’s the newly launched $399 Motorola X4, which is the first non-Nexus or Pixel-branded handset to be Fi compatible. 

That may still sound like a pricey upfront investment, but it could be well worth it even if you only take a couple trips a year. Seriously. Between time spent and cost, the savings quickly add up.

In the last two years, I’ve used Project Fi on trips to more than half a dozen countries, including Germany, Greece, Ukraine, and Israel. I’ve loaned it to family members for their own trips abroad and each time I’ve been impressed with the quality of the coverage and service. Fi did fail me once — in Aruba — though I suspect this was due to an issue with whichever local telecoms they partner with, not Fi itself. 

That trip aside though, Fi has enabled me to effortlessly keep up my Snapchat and Instagram habits without having to constantly search for Wi-Fi or worry about racking up a huge bill. 

Sure, $10/Gb might be more expensive than what you can find from some local carriers on the ground, but who wants to waste precious vacation time shopping for a data plan that may or may not end up saving you any money.

And that’s really the point — Fi makes it so you never have to worry about your data plan ever again.

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