FDA boss threatens ‘game over’ for e-cigs if companies won’t keep kids away

The head of the Food and Drug Administration has threatened to pull e-cigarettes out of U.S. markets entirely unless e-cig makers take greater measures to curb the youth’s use of their products. 

Speaking at a public hearing Friday, Scott Gottlieb, the FDA Commissioner, said he was “horrified” at the surge in rates of teen vaping, NBC reported. More than 3 million U.S. teens use e-cigarettes, an increase of 78 percent since 2011, according to recent CDC data.

“I still believe e-cigarettes present an opportunity for adult smokers to transition off cigarettes and onto nicotine delivery products that may not have the same level of risks,” Gottlieb wrote in a tweet ahead of the hearing. “However, if the youth use continues to rise, the entire category will face an existential threat.”

During the hearing, Gottlieb reportedly called out Juul specifically in reference to e-cigarette companies own attempts to curb teen use. Juul has restricted the sales of flavored products and worked with social media companies to crack down on posts from underage Juul users.

Efforts like this aren’t going far enough, according to the FDA, which has also enacted new policies to ban flavors it says were created to appeal to teens.

But Gottlieb’s comments threatening to ban e-cigarettes entirely represent a dramatic escalation. If the FDA moved to ban e-cigarettes, it would upend what’s become a multibillion-dollar business.

“It will be game over for these products until they can successfully traverse the regulatory process,” Gottlieb said, per NBC. 

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Lack of regulation means wearables aren’t held accountable for health claims

wearable devices leading to over diagnosis apple watch ekg jc 1
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

If you’re relaxing on the couch and suddenly feel dizzy, and it seems like your heart is pounding out of your chest, you might not head to the emergency room ASAP. But if your Apple Watch was also telling you to seek medical attention, you might change your mind. The watch has been credited with saving a few lives, but some health professionals worry there are drawbacks to fitness trackers that manufacturers aren’t addressing.

After announcing the Apple Watch Series 4’s electrocardiogram (ECG) functionality in September 2018, Apple made the feature available in December. Some doctors were dismayed the Food and Drug Administration cleared the Apple Watch’s EKG software without releasing the data it looked at or or subjecting it to peer review.

To use the ECG function, the user touches the wheel on the side of the watch (known as the Digital Crown) for 30 seconds. The electrodes on the back of the watch and in the button create what’s called a lead when in contact with both your wrist and finger, generating an ECG waveform. Though Apple says it’s not a diagnostic tool, the idea is for it to detect irregular heart rhythms and atrial fibrillation. Both could signal serious health problems.

“The main worry is making a generation of hypochondriacs.”

“It’s probably not a good idea for a hypochondriac, but the potential advantages far outweigh any potential downside,” one physician told Digital Trends in 2018. Others aren’t so sure.

For one thing, the Apple Watch uses fewer leads than an ECG you’d get in your doctor’s office; they might also put a sticker on your chest, for example. The more leads you have, the more ways you have of looking at your heart. A single lead only offers one view.

“Think of ships on the horizon,” cardiologist Rohin Francis told Digital Trends. “You can see them go left and right, but you won’t be able to tell if they’re coming towards or [going] away from you.” Additionally, with three or more electrodes, any abnormal signal in one lead could be dismissed as interference if it didn’t show up in the others.

With the Watch’s single lead, Francis is worried about false positives. Atrial fibrillation isn’t very common in younger people — the same people likely to buy the Apple Watch.

wearable devices leading to over diagnosis alive cor apple watch sensors

“It is statistically much less likely that a positive result flagged up by the Watch will be true atrial fibrillation in a 35-year-old, compared to a 75-year-old,” he said. “In other words, the inaccuracy of the watch is acceptable in a population with a high rate of the disease, because you are expecting to find a lot of AF. But in a young population, that same degree of inaccuracy becomes a problem.”

A false positive could send a healthy 35-year-old down a rabbit hole of expensive, unnecessary tests.

“The main worry is making a generation of hypochondriacs,” Francis said, and it’s something he’s noticing with heart rate trackers. Variations in heart rate are normal and well-understood, so doctors can easily reassure patients who are now noticing the changes.

“I am a pediatric emergency medicine doctor, so I see a lot of misadventures with these monitors.”

“If we start seeing little bursts of AF, we don’t know if that’s normal or something to be worried about, so I can’t give a patient that instant reassurance,” Francis said. “I don’t think it’s healthy for people to be overly worried about their vitals all the time.” One function he’d prefer to see in a fitness tracker, though, is a blood pressure monitor.

“I think undiagnosed high blood pressure is a much bigger problem and a much bigger killer than undiagnosed AF,” he said.

Apple Watch’s ECG is brand new, so whether it will lead to misdiagnosis of atrial fibrillation is still unknown. But wearable baby monitors have been around for some time and are causing all kinds of headaches for pediatricians. Though they’re not FDA-approved, they claim to track babies’ heart rates and blood oxygen levels. They can lead to overdiagnosis, as well.

“There is no evidence that consumer infant physiologic monitors are life-saving, and there is potential harm if parents choose to use them,” according to authors of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“I am a pediatric emergency medicine doctor, so I see a lot of misadventures with these monitors,” wrote Dr. Elizabeth Murray, a pediatrician with University of Rochester Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital. “I also see a very large number of infant deaths from unsafe sleep, so this topic is very close to my heart.”

She said the only well-studied methods of reducing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) don’t involve monitors at all but include the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations for safe sleeping.

“I can easily say that I have cared for far more children that have had accidental alarms from these devices than those who are truly ill,” Murray said. “In fact, I cannot recall a time when we have actually found a true problem.”

Murray also doesn’t recommend fitness trackers for older kids.

“I cannot recall a time when we have actually found a true problem.”

“We never want children to feel that they have to hit a certain number of steps or a specific distance each day,” she said. “School-aged children are tracked a lot — homework, how good are they at sports, did they make the concert band, etc.”

Instead, she thinks encouraging kids to just play is a better way to keep them active.

Fitness trackers’ focus on numbers is what worries Claire Mysko, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association.

“A lot of what’s going on with someone who’s either at risk or actively struggling with an eating disorder can be amplified through the use of these devices,” she said.

wearable devices leading to over diagnosis apple watch ekg jc 2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Though it had a very small sample size of eight women, a recent study found that using a fitness tracker could lead to an over-reliance on the devices and feelings of self-loathing.

Apple is partnering with Recovery Record, an eating disorder treatment app, for a study with the Apple Watch aimed at predicting and preventing binge-eating episodes. That collaboration is encouraging for Mysko, who would like to see more partnerships with device manufacturers in the future. Trackers could alert behaviors, suggesting wearers may be at risk of developing an eating disorder, for example.

“There’s a big population of people who are using these devices who would benefit from some kind of screening,” she said. “Given the risk factor of population, that would be the responsible thing for them to do.”

For every wearable from a big-name company like Apple, there are dozens from newer brands that promise to track ovulation cycles or count your calories as you consume them. As tempting as these devices might be to strap on, there isn’t always clear evidence to back up these claims.

“It’s 100 percent buyer beware right now.”

“Most of the features included in consumer-grade wearable devices are based on sound science,” said Dr. Jonathan Peake, a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology, in an email. “However, I do believe that companies could engage more with independent researchers to validate their products – that is provide evidence from published, peer-reviewed journals that their products match up, to a reasonable degree, with gold standard methods for measuring such biometrics.”

It may not seem like a big deal if your fitness tracker says you walked 6,500 steps when you really walked 7,000, but it can make a difference for some people with conditions such as knee osteoarthritis, said Dr. Reed Ferber, director of the University of Calgary’s running injury clinic. He’s also leading the school’s Wearable Technology Research and Collaboration training program.

“I’ve never seen a study that’s validated anything against a gold-standard, university sleep lab,” he said.

That could be problematic if an airline company requires its pilots to prove they’ve gotten enough sleep before a flight, and their devices are over- or underestimating the house.

“These are just algorithms that people are developing in the company’s own laboratory without any validation,” he said.

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine what phrases such as “clinically proven” means. Right now, the onus is on potential customers to dig into the company’s claims.

“If consumers are concerned about getting value for money and using wearables that do what the manufacturers claim, then they should be looking for evidence of published, peer-reviewed research in academic journals,” Peake said.

Eventually, Ferber expects insurance companies will start demanding more of this kind of research from manufacturers as wearables become more tied to health.

“It’s exciting to see how wearables are being so fully integrated into our activities of daily living,” he said. “I just think at this point, it is the Wild Wild West in terms of what these devices are claiming, what they’re measuring. It’s 100 percent buyer beware right now.”

Editors’ Recommendations

Razer’s Wireless Charger will turn your desk into gamer heaven

If you’ve bought a flagship smartphone in the past two years, there’s a good chance it supports wireless charging technology; and wireless charging pads can be bought for cheap these days. So why would you want to spend $100 on Razer’s Wireless Charger? Lights! Fancy, colored lighting effects that add a bit of flair to your desk or bedside table.

The wireless charger uses the Qi standard, which means it supports all the Samsung Galaxy phones, the iPhone 8 and up, the Google Pixel 3, and a whole lot of other devices. It works best, however, with the Razer Phone 2.

Pad or stand

The Razer Wireless Charger is all black, and is notable for its cool strip of light around the bottom of the base that supports 16.8 million colors. It’s also adjustable as a pad or a stand — which you don’t see too often on most wireless chargers — allowing you to choose whether the phone should sit flat or upright.

The flat area your phone rests on has a rubbery coating, so you don’t need to worry about any scratches that may appear from carelessly plopping a phone onto the charger. There’s just one USB-C port on the back, and this is plugged into a wall adapter. It’s not the longest cable, so you may want a longer USB-C to USB-C wire if the outlet is far from the charger’s desired placement.

For almost every other phone we tested — from the Galaxy Note 9 to the iPhone XS Max — we had to place the device in landscape orientation.

A button sits on the front base and when pressed, it turns on the strip of light. The charging pad will start cycling through colors slowly, which is handy if you want to keep it lit up even when there’s no phone on it. It does tend to automatically turn off after a period of time though.

It’s a well-designed system. The base is well-built, and it’s dead simple to change the orientation from a pad to a stand. It has a nice heft to it, so it doesn’t easily slide around when you place a phone down. The quality of the LED strip is also excellent — it’s not too harsh, rather delivering cool, soft colors that are pleasant to view.

Built for the Razer Phone 2

The Razer Phone 2 is the latest gaming-focused smartphone from the company — you can read our full thoughts on the device in our review — and using the Razer Wireless Charger with it unlocks a few neat tricks.

The two are paired via the Razer Chroma app, which allows you to customize the type of visual patterns the colors cycle through: Wave, spectrum, breating, or static. Alternatively, you can select your own color, choose when the lights turn off, the direction for the Wave pattern, and more.

Exclusive for the Razer Phone 2, the base station changes color based on the type of notifications that arrive — exactly like the Razer logo changes on the back of the phone. Get a Gmail notification? The base station will turn red. Did someone send a Facebook Message? You’ll see a blue color. These colors unfortunately can’t be tweaked, and are set by the developer of these apps. It’s useful, but not a reason to buy the charger.

Razer Wireless Charger 2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Razer Phone 2 is just about the only smartphone you can place on the Razer Wireless Charger in portrait orientation without having issues. This has to do with the coils on the Razer Phone 2, which are quite low. For almost every other phone we tested — from the Galaxy Note 9 and Pixel 3 XL to the iPhone XS Max — we had to place the device in landscape orientation to make sure the phones were being charged. This wasn’t a problem for us at all, but it could be a deal breaker for those who want the phone in portrait orientation.

A word of caution — customizing the lights and patterns is only available if you have a Razer Phone 2 or an iPhone at the moment. The Razer Chroma app sadly is “incompatible” with every other Android phone we tried to install it on, but it surprisingly is available on the App Store, allowing us to pair the iPhone XS Max with it. If your phone is incompatible with the app, you won’t be able to change the brightness of the light, nor the pattern. It will still light up when you place the phone on it (you can always try to ask a friend with an iPhone to download the app and configure it for you, or we’ve seen reports that it can be installed on tablets).

Charging speed

How long does it take to juice up the 4,000mAh battery inside the Razer Phone 2? Around 3 hours. It’s an incredibly long time, considering the wired charger provided in the box can do it much faster, but that’s a trade off with wireless charging. It’s about the convenience, and not having to fuss about with cables.

We placed the Razer Phone 2 down on the charger at 7:57 p.m. with zero percent remaining, and it hit 46 percent at 9:08 p.m. At 11:05, it reached 100 percent. It’s far from fast, so you shouldn’t use this to charge up the phone if you’re in a hurry.

Razer Wireless Charger 2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

It’s equally not fast for any other smartphone. We placed a Pixel 3 XL on the charger, and it only went from 20 percent to 30 percent in the span of an half an hour.

Price and availability

The Razer Wireless Charger costs $100, and is available now from Razer.

It’s easily the best wireless charger for the Razer Phone 2 — and the best-looking wireless charger, period — but the only reason you’d want it for any other phone that supports wireless charging is the lights. They look great, and they add a distinctive, fun style to your desk or bedside table. Despite its high price tag, if you’re all about RGB lights in your home, this charger is a essential.

Don’t care for the lights? Check out our best wireless phone chargers guide, where you can buy one for as little as $13.

Editors’ Recommendations

Chevy built a massive, 3,000-pound Lego replica of its Silverado truck

If you’ve ever wondered what a full-sized pickup truck would look like in Lego form, Chevrolet and Lego have you covered.

The two companies have teamed up to make a massive, life-sized Lego version of the Silverado pickup truck — and the results are impressive

Despite being a publicity stunt for Chevrolet’s work with Lego on the upcoming The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, the truck is nonetheless a considerable feat of Lego brick engineering. 

The Lego Silverado, is a near exact replica of Chevy’s full-size pickup. It’s 6 feet high and and 8 feet wide. It has working headlights and reproduces even small details, like the front grill and Chevrolet logos, in Lego form.

Here’s a look at the Lego Silverado next to the real thing.

The Legos give it a fun, pixelated look.

The Legos give it a fun, pixelated look.

Image: chevrolet

The red Lego creation weighs in at 3,307 pounds, and took more than 2,000 hours to assemble and is made up of 334,544 bricks — each of which were pieced together by hand, according to Chevrolet.

The Lego Silverado took more than 2,000 hours to build.

The Lego Silverado took more than 2,000 hours to build.

Image: chevrolet

The Lego Silverado has working headlights.

The Lego Silverado has working headlights.

Image: chevrolet

This isn’t the first time the two companies have teamed up. They previously worked together to create a life-sized Lego Batmobile for The Lego Batman Movie.

You can watch a time lapse of the entire building process in the video below.

[embedded content]

If only it were possible to actually drive the Lego Silverado.

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Apple is once again selling its iPhone SE — for now

Last September, Apple officially stopped selling its iPhone X, iPhone SE, and iPhone 6s models, following the release of the iPhone XS and XR. This weekend, MacRumors noticed that Apple has quietly begun to sell the iPhone SE once again in its clearance section.

The 2016-era phone is available in 32GB and 128GB sizes, with $100 and $150 knocked off the price, respectively. The phones are available in space gray, rose gold, gold, and silver colors.

It doesn’t appear that Apple has made the iPhone X or iPhone 6s for sale once again, but if you’ve been missing a decent phone with a headphone jack, this might be the time to pick one up.

What is fixed wireless 5G? Here’s everything you need to know

If 2019 tech will be remembered for anything, it’ll be 5G. It’s about to make a huge impact in the way we experience wireless connectivity. While often talked about in reference to mobile devices, 5G extends beyond that. It will apply to your everyday home internet connection too — through something called fixed wireless. You’ll be hearing a lot about it in the coming year.

5G promises far faster speeds for mobile phones, and reduces the latency or delay inherent in most networks. That means communication will be instantaneous, VR will be as smooth as butter, and all sorts of crazy new concepts will be made possible. That’s 5G, but fixed wireless is the technology that puts it in your home.

What is it, anyways?

fixed wireless 5g lte advanced cell tower

So, how does fixed wireless differ from traditional wireless internet? Well, for starters, in more traditional internet setups, a cable goes all the way to a house. The homeowner buys a router they can hook up, plugs it in, and updates as they wish.

With fixed wireless, there are no cables required. Instead, a “fixed” antenna is installed on the house, similar to how a satellite dish might be installed. This antenna then creates a wireless connection with a nearby DSCI wireless tower, which can connect to many antennas at the same time.

When the fixed antenna receives the signal, it can send the connection down a short cable and into the house, where it can link up to a router or other device as needed. Inside the house, once 5G devices are out in the world, you may not notice anything is different at all.

How 5G service works

t mobile harrisx 5g consumer index sign is pictured at the quantum stand mwc
Miquel Benitez/Getty Images

Like other wireless connections, 5G does operate on the radio spectrum, but in a very different way from past wireless internet options. It can run on the low-band, mid-band, or high-band spectrum, and different carriers are already busy experimenting with different bands using their own technology.

As of now, most of the current interest is high-band spectrum 5G using “mmWave” technology. The result is a combination of beamforming and direct wireless connections with mobile devices. If you’ve read anything about MU-MIMO, it is helpful to think of 5G as a massively up-scaled version of a similar technology, able to deliver wireless connections to a whole geographic area.

You can learn much more about 5G applications with our guide here, but for now let’s talk about the main benefits of switching to this new wireless standard.

Reduced connectivity costs: Fixed line installation for high-speed internet is a big pain. In many urban areas, fixed-line infrastructure is so expensive to install and maintain that it’s not even worth it. Rural areas face similar problems due to such large installation spaces. 5G solves these problems by greatly decreasing the end line infrastructure needed to provide reliable internet. This should make reliable internet services available for many areas that previously had no access to it.

Faster speeds: Experiments with 5G wireless have yielded very high speeds, even up to 1,000Mbps.

Fewer latency issues: 5G has very, very low latency compared to other wireless connections. That’s convenient for consumers, but it also means that 5G can be used in many important professional tasks where a dependable connection is essential.

Lower energy use: 5G takes relatively little energy to connect and transmit data compared to current online connection options.

Expected speeds

sprint 5g rollout

We mentioned speeds of up to 1,000Mbps, but those are target speeds in highly controlled environments with technology that’s not out on the market yet.

True fixed wireless 5G, as it’s arriving, will have speeds that are comparable to current average internet speeds – around 30Mbps to 300Mbps. That, of course, depends on the location and service being offered. Verizon, for example, is promising speeds of around 300Mbps, but says some locations could see peak speeds of nearly 1GB. AT&T, the only other company that has launched 5G devices, isn’t giving any speed information.

Keep in mind, however, that 5G won’t have some of the problems of current wireless networks, like latency issues or distortion. This might make the signal seem faster, based on your experiences, even if the specific data speeds aren’t that different.

In the future, as the 5G rollout continues, you can expect speeds to start increasing toward that 1Gb marker and perhaps beyond. Lab speeds have reached 4.5Gbps, although it’s difficult to know how long this will take to achieve.

5G installation

fixed wireless 5g verizon

So, if the final step to 5G is wireless, what does the installation look like? Obviously it’s “fixed,” but does that mean you’ll be seeing new wireless towers go up in your area?

Probably not. In fact, it will probably be difficult to notice true 5G installations at all. All the broadcasting station requires is a simple antenna. In more urban areas, these will be easily installed on existing cell towers, buildings and similar locations. In suburban and rural area, it’s possible that more towers may need to be built. 5G’s broadcast radius is currently rather small, and existing towers in these areas may not have enough overlap for the service. Companies like T-Mobile are working to potentially improve the radius with different radio spectrums, so this won’t be as pressing an issue in the future.

At home, a receiver unit is also required. This will be a simple device, much like the current “Customer Premise Equipment” that fixed line connections currently require, such as gateways or cable boxes. Setup is expected to be easy enough to allow for self-installation in most cases. D-Link already has a 5G-enabled router, promising speeds of forty times your current broadband connection. How’s that for fast?

Pricing options for 5G

5g Networks and Phones | Tech Trends to watch for at CES 2019

Verizon’s First on 5G program is only available in select areas of Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento: The first three months of the service are free, and after that it costs $70 per month, with potential deals for those who have Verizon Wireless phone plans. You also receive an Apple TV or Google Chromecast, and three free months of YouTube TV. There are no equipment or installation charges for this service, at least at this stage.

Now, because 5G isn’t quite up and running yet, Verizon is cheating a little here. The company is using a proprietary 5GTF standard to simulate “true” 5G as closely as possible until the equipment is ready for the upgrade to the real 3GPP 5G standard, which should happen in 2019. There will be no charges for this upgrade, and it should be an easy process, as the current equipment is prepared for the standard upgrade.

Expect to see the pre-standard 5G replaced with 5G NR in the coming months as the city updates its hardware and software. Verizon plans to deploy fixed 5G to additional locations across the country in 2019, though it has not named cities just yet.

So far, Verizon is the first to actually announce a 5G pricing plan, which makes this a likely standard for other telecom providers to follow when they introduce their own 5G plans. AT&T, for example, is very close to releasing its own plan, and is unlikely to charge much more than Verizon’s rates. It’s even spoken about bundles such as gaming or IoT-focused options with tiered billing structures.

Similarly, T-Mobile has big plans underway. In a statement submitted to the FCC in late 2018, T-Mobile predicted it would have fixed wireless 5G in more than 1.9 million homes by 2021. We expect to hear more firm details from all three major ISPs throughout the year.

Note: Always be careful when looking at 5G offerings. Whenever a big new technology label like “5G” comes along, there’s always some rebranding efforts that try to paper over old technologies with a new name. This is already happening with 5G. Look at the specs, offered services, and technology used to make sure it’s actually 5G. As always, a little research goes a long way.

Editors’ Recommendations

Leaked image shows off three variants for the Samsung Galaxy S10 lineup

Samsung will hold its next Unpacked event next month, where it’s expected to show off a “fully functional” version of its foldable phone, along with the next iteration of its Galaxy lineup, Galaxy S10. A new leaked image from Evan Blass shows off three versions of the phone, the S10E, the S10, and the S10+.

There have been rumors floating around since last fall that the S10 would come in three variants: the S10 and S10+ with a curved OLED screen, hole-punch selfie camera, and in-display fingerprint scanners, with a third (presumably the S10E), serving as a cheaper edition without all the bells and whistles. The company is also rumored to have been in discussions with Verizon to bring a 5G version of the phone to the US. A leak from Blass in early January showed off the front of the S10 model, showing minimal bezels and a hole-punch for the forward-facing camera.

Blass points out that this image features the Galaxy S10 lineup in clear cases, with the S10E on the left, the S10 in the middle, and the S10+ on the right. The S10E features two cameras on the back, while the other two have three. The S10+ also appears to have a pair of front-facing cameras with a larger hole-punch.

There’s quite a bit resting on this year’s lineup, especially as the company faced slow sales for the S9 and a sharp drop in profits in the final quarter of 2018. With this year’s changes to the phone after last year’s “predictable” iteration, maybe Samsung will be able to entice consumers back in 2019.

Watch an inventor take on a Royal Marines assault course in a jet suit

For years, military science fiction has envisioned fantastical tech for soldiers to use in the distant future, from suits of powered armor to advanced weapons. Richard Browning, the inventor and CEO behind Gravity Industries, recently took his jet suit for a spin over the UK Royal Commando’s Commando Training Center in Lympstone, Devon.

Browning — a former Royal Marine reservist — started up his company in 2017, and has been showing off his jet suit since then. The suit, named the Daedalus Mark 1, uses six tiny jet engines — two mounted on the wearer’s back, with an additional two mounted on each arm — which allows the user to fly through the air in a controlled flight.

I saw Browning demonstrate his suit a couple of years ago at San Diego Comic Con, after taking part in an aptly-named panel “The State of Iron Man Tech.” The suit certainly looks like something out of a Marvel movie — Browning jetted up and down a street, aided by a helmet equipped with a heads up display that provides him with some flight data and fuel usage.

According to the British Royal Navy, Browning stopped by the training center to show off the suit before soldiers, flying over a training obstacle course. This doesn’t appear to have been an audition to begin equipping British soldiers with their own jet packs, but it’s not hard to see that there could be military applications for such a device, which allow users considerable speed and freedom of movement.

Should the day come that they’re pressed into military service, there would obviously be some kinks that would need to be worked out, like noise and flight time. In 2019, it’s an impressive demonstration, and something that will likely remain a staple of military science fiction — for now.

More Snap execs are out amid reports of an ‘inappropriate relationship’

Snap is facing a fresh round of executive drama.
Snap is facing a fresh round of executive drama.

Image: Getty Images for Teen Vogue

Snap is facing a fresh round of executive drama after reports have surfaced that two more executives are leaving the company under less than desirable circumstances. 

The company’s head of security, Francis Racioppi, and head of human resources, Jason Halbert, were pushed out after an investigation into Racioppi’s “inappropriate relationship” with an outside contractor, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Racioppi was reportedly fired last year in a previously undisclosed incident after the company discovered he had ended the contract of a woman he had hired following a personal relationship with her.

Halbert, who was Snap’s head of HR, wasn’t “directly involved” in this incident, according to the WSJ, but he was close with Racioppi. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel reportedly asked Halbert to resign this week due to the Racioppi situation and “other issues related to his performance.” 

Halbert previously made headlines after The Information reported last year the executive has faced “numerous” complaints of unprofessional behavior that included talk of “rapists and mass murderers” and “sexual fantasies.”

A spokesperson for Snap declined to comment.

The report comes just days after Snap announced the departure of CFO Tim Stone, who had been at the company just eight months. Over the last year, Snap has also lost a number of top executives in its hardware, product, marketing, and communications divisions.

That instability has sparked concerns on Wall Street. Snap’s stock dipped immediately following the news of Stone’s resignation, and analysts cited Stone’s departure as a potentially bad sign for the company. 

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There’s a secret dog hidden in your YouTube video timeline

YouTube hasn’t ever been one to skimp on the Easter eggs, but this is a new one for me.

It’s hidden away on the timeline that charts your progress through a video. If you highlight that timeline and hold left — either left on an attached game controller, or the left arrow key — in certain versions of YouTube (I’ll get to that in a minute), you can summon a dog.

It takes a bit, so be patient. If you’ve watched any of the video, it’ll rewind first. Then you want to keep holding left for another 10 or 15 seconds. Eventually, a little, brown dog, possibly a Corgi, will trot across your timeline, from left to right.

The Easter egg only works in certain versions of YouTube, as far as we can tell. We’ve tested the three major console apps — PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch — and the dog is there in all of them. It’s also accessible on your PC via web browser, but only using the YouTube TV interface.

(I’m not sure who first discovered this Easter egg, but I first spotted it right here on the Nintendo Switch subreddit.)

The standard YouTube.com won’t work. Instead, you have to go to YouTube.com/TV. After the sign-in page (you can skip it), select any video you see and follow the instructions above. If you’re not using a game controller, you can use your arrow keys to navigate the interface and highlight the timeline.

Here’s some video showing how it works on a Switch.

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The Easter egg doesn’t appear to be specifically connected to the YouTube TV; there are separate Xbox apps for YouTube and YouTube TV, for example, and I got this pup to show pop up in the former. But the YouTube TV-style interface seems to be key. The Easter egg doesn’t work on the standard website, and it doesn’t work in the YouTube app on my Pixel XL.

It’s cute though! Who can possibly be mad about having one more secret, smiling dog in their life? This is great news. 

Now, go fetch your YouTube timeline and see this surprise for yourself.

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