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'Our hospital is not built for a pandemic': Hospitals again struggle to keep up with the surging number of COVID-19 cases across the nation

Sat, 10/24/2020 - 12:24am  |  Clusterstock
A nurse checks in on a COVID-19 patient at Tampa General Hospital in Tampa, Florida, on August 19, 2020.
  • The US hit an all-time high for new coronavirus cases on Friday: 82,600. 
  • Case numbers are soaring all across the country, not just in one particular hot spot. 
  • Hospitals are running out of space and don't have enough staff to provide adequate care, and many are on the brink. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Coronavirus cases are surging all across the United States again, and hospitals are not prepared to handle the influx of new hospitalizations, the Associated Press reported.

Hospitals are running out of space to house patients and don't have enough staff to provide adequate care. 

The New York Times reported that one hospital in Idaho is 99% full and has warned that it may have to transfer patients to hospitals in another state. 

"We've essentially shut down an entire floor of our hospital. We've had to double rooms. We've bought more hospital beds," Dr. Robert Scoggins, a pulmonologist at the Kootenai Health hospital in Coeur d'Alene told the AP. "Our hospital is not built for a pandemic."

On Friday, the country recorded 82,600 new infections, according to The Washington Post's count, the highest since the pandemic began. The next wave of infections could be the deadliest yet. More than 140,000 more people could die of COVID-19 in the US between now and February. 

The Post reported that the current surge is more widespread than the peaks seen earlier in the pandemic and during the summer, and medical experts are warning that since the increased cases can be seen across the country that could also lead to a shortage of medical supplies and even staff. 

Hospitalizations for the new coronavirus have increased in 38 states in the last week. 

In Utah where cases reached an all-time high, Gov. Gary Herbert said the state's hospital's ability to provide good care is "on the brink," the AP reported. 

"If Utahans do not take serious steps to limit group gatherings and wear masks, our healthcare providers will not have the ability to provide quality care for everyone who needs it," Herbert said. 

The Times reported that additionally in this surge more people in rural areas are also falling critically ill. Those regions may sometimes only have a number of hospitals with a small number of beds. 

"I don't really see any signs that things are slowing down and that concerns me a lot," Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University told The Times. "It has to be our starting premise that it's not going to slow down unless we force it to slow down."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump targets Kamala Harris in sexist rant against the Democratic vice-presidential nominee

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 8:47pm  |  Clusterstock
  • President Donald Trump targeted Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris in a rant at a campaign rally in Florida on Friday. 
  • Trump said the US would never see a "socialist" president, "especially a female socialist," apparently referring to Harris, who is not a socialist.
  • The president has tried to paint Harris as a radical in what has so far been Trump's tumultuous run for reelection.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump targeted Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris in a sexist rant during a campaign rally in Florida on Friday. 

Trump said the US would never see a "socialist" president, "especially a female socialist," apparently referring to presidential nominee Joe Biden's running mate.

"We're not supposed to have a socialist — look we're not going to be a socialist nation. We're not going to have a socialist president, especially a female socialist president, we're not gonna have it, we're not gonna put up with it," Trump said.

Harris, a sitting US senator and former California attorney general, is not a socialist.

—Lauren Peikoff (@laurenpeikoff) October 23, 2020

Earlier this month, a report in MIT Technology Review found that right-wing campaigns were spreading misinformation about Biden and Harris online, specifically targeting Hispanic-Americans. 

The report also found that two Republican ads spread messages including one that claimed "Biden = Socialism" online. 

This is not the first time Trump has targeted Harris.

Last month, he said: "if a woman is going to become the first president of the United States, it can't be her."

"That would rip our country apart," Trump told his supporters during a campaign rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin. "This is not what people want. And she comes in through the back door — this would not be what people want, especially because it's her."

Neither the Trump campaign nor the Biden campaign returned Business Insider's request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Minnesota attorney general says company suspected of recruiting private security to watch polling places on Election Day was misinformed

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 8:35pm  |  Clusterstock
Minnesota Attorney General-elect Keith Ellison speaks during the election night event held by the Democratic Party Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in St. Paul, Minn.
  • A Tennessee-based company suspected of commissioning armed poll-watchers in Minnesota was under investigation by the Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
  • The company, Atlas Aegis, was accused of looking for people "to protect election polls."
  • The attorney general's office said on Friday that Atlas Aegis company officials misunderstood a request from a separate Minnesota company that was seeking contractors to protect private property, not polling places.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A Tennessee-based company accused of recruiting armed men to watch polling places in Minnesota on Election Day caught the attention of the state's attorney general, Keith Ellison.

It turns out, the effort was a misunderstanding, Ellison announced in a press release on Friday.

The company, Atlas Aegis, had responded to a request from a Minnesota company seeking private security contractors to protect private property in the state. According to Ellison, that company never indicated it needed private citizens to "protect election polls," and that Atlas Aegis used that language of its own volition when reaching out to its network.

Ellison said his office received written assurance from Atlas Aegis that it will not send private security to polling locations, according to the press release.

"Minnesotans should expect that our elections will run as safely, smoothly, and securely as they always have. One of the reasons is that my office and our partners are actively enforcing our laws against threatening, frightening, or intimidating voters,"  Ellison said.

"I'm holding Atlas Aegis to account for their misstatements about recruiting security for polling places in Minnesota that potentially frightened Minnesota voters. They won't be doing it again and will not be anywhere in Minnesota before, during, or after Election Day." 

Minnesota state and federal laws "prohibit intimidating or interfering with voters and operating private armed forces in Minnesota," Ellison said.

"I want to make it crystal clear to anyone who is even thinking about intimidating voters that I will not hesitate to enforce the laws against it to the fullest extent," he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The US's third coronavirus surge could be the deadliest yet — 4 charts show a troubling trend

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 6:34pm  |  Clusterstock
A man drops his daughter off at the Lincoln-Hancock Community School in Quincy, Massachusetts on September 17, 2020.

More than 140,000 more people could die of the coronavirus in the US between now and February. 

That's according to the latest model from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics, which predicted in a paper published Friday that the US's total death count could surpass 511,000 by February 28.

"Even if we do better on a case-by-case basis, I think that the number of deaths that we're going to experience this fall and winter is going to dwarf what we've already been through," Megan Ranney, an emergency-medicine physician at Brown University, recently told Business Insider.

Cases have already started to climb again as cold weather sets in, forcing more people to congregate indoors. The US reported more than 73,000 cases on Thursday, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project. Data from Johns Hopkins University suggests that tally was even higher — more than 76,000, the nation's second-highest daily count to date. 

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Over the last week, the US reported more than 60,000 daily cases on average — a roughly 40% increase since the start of October. That's more new coronavirus cases than any other country.

Though Europe is battling a second wave of infections, average daily case counts in the UK, France, and Italy are still less than a third of those in the US. However, all three European nations have more average daily cases than the US relative to their population sizes. 

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The US is also seeing an uptick in daily hospitalizations, which have risen 33% since the start of October. Average daily deaths have risen by 12% during that time. Both hospitalizations and death are lagging indicators: Hospitalizations usually reflect cases that were diagnosed a week ago, while deaths reflect cases that were diagnosed two to three weeks ago.

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The US leads the world in its weekly average of new deaths. India had outranked the country in that metric until Friday. The US is now seeing more than 760 deaths per day, on average, compared to roughly a fifth of that in France and the UK.

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At the height of the pandemic in April, the US saw more than 2,000 deaths per day. If the IHME model proves accurate, the US could reach that peak level again before the end of 2020.

"We are heading into a very substantial fall-winter surge," Christopher Murray, director of IHME, said in a Friday press briefing. "The idea that the pandemic is going away, of course, we do not believe is true."

The worst of this peak is yet to come, he added: "We expect that surge to steadily grow across different states — and at the national level, continue to increase — as we head towards quite high levels of daily death in late December and January."

Read the original article on Business Insider

NASA is rushing to hold onto its first sample of asteroid dust before too much leaks into space: 'Time is of the essence'

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 5:48pm  |  Clusterstock
A rotating mosaic of asteroid Bennu, composed of images captured by NASA's Osiris-Rex spacecraft over a four-hour period on December 2, 2018.
  • NASA's Osiris-Rex spacecraft briefly landed on an asteroid called Bennu on Tuesday to collect samples of its rock.
  • But now a valve on the probe's sample-collecting arm won't close, and the bits of asteroid it grabbed are floating away.
  • The team is frantically trying to store the asteroid dust in a safer place before they lose much more. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

NASA's Osiris-Rex mission successfully scooped up a sample of fine dust and grit from an asteroid called Bennu on Tuesday. It was the first time NASA had ever gathered a sample from an asteroid.

But the spacecraft's sample-collecting arm seems to have gathered so much asteroid material in that maneuver that part of the valve designed to keep the sample contained won't close. Now, bits are falling out.

"There's so much in there that the diaphragm that is supposed to keep the sample in is open," Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA, said in a briefing on Friday.

Now the Osiris-Rex team has to figure out how to hold onto the rest of the material the probe has gathered. So instead of weighing the sample, the planned next step of the process, they're opting to stow the sample immediately in the spacecraft's built-in Sample Return Capsule.

That should "preserve and prevent any future mass loss," Dante Lauretta, the Osiris-Rex mission lead, said at the Friday briefing.

"We were almost a victim of our own success here," Lauretta added.

A 'touch-and-go' mission

On Tuesday, Osiris-Rex slowly descended about 3,280 feet (1 kilometer) and avoided a hazardous rock field in order to stick its difficult landing on Bennu's surface. It successfully maneuvered past a two-story boulder that mission controllers call "Mount Doom," reaching Bennu's surface with its sample-collection arm stretched down properly.

Osiris-Rex had twice rehearsed this descent, practicing "basically everything except for the final two minutes," according to Mike Moreau, a project manager.

Once on Bennu, Osiris-Rex's arm shot nitrogen gas out of a bottle to stir up the fine dust, called regolith, beneath it. In the disturbance, researchers estimate, hundreds of grams of material were collected in the tool at the end of the arm. 

Side-by-side images depict Osiris-Rex's sample-collecting arm shortly before and shortly after it scraped the surface of Bennu.

Then approximately six seconds after touchdown, Osiris-Rex fired its thrusters to push itself away from Bennu once again.

But once the probe was safely back in Bennu's orbit, mission controllers observed material falling out of its sample-collecting arm. So far, it has already lost between 5 and 10 grams of material (NASA needs 60 grams for a minimum sample).

"I was immediately concerned because this is loss of sample, and loss of sample mass," Lauretta said. 

It's possible that Osiris-Rex could lose all of its sample if the team doesn't act quickly enough.

A series of three images taken October 22, 2020 shows that the sampler head on NASA's Osiris-Rex spacecraft is full of rocks and dust from the surface of asteroid Bennu. Some particles are escaping. The sample should reach Earth in September 2023

The $1 billion Osiris-Rex spacecraft — short for the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer — has been orbiting Bennu since December 2018. 

The 1.7-ton robot spent much of that time looking for the perfect spot to suck up some extraterrestrial dirt during its planned "touch-and-go" maneuver. It settled on a location named Nightingale, a small, unobstructed, and relatively smooth area covered in regolith. 

Once NASA scientists are confident that a big enough sample has been collected and stored – the probe needs at least 2.1 ounces, or about a small bag of potato chips' worth of mass — Osiris-Rex can begin its long journey home. The trip is targeted to start in March 2021, with the spacecraft slated to reach Earth on September 24, 2023.

The Osiris-Rex spacecraft's camera captured its descent toward asteroid Bennu during a sample-collection rehearsal on August 11, 2020.

The rock Osiris-Rex collected is likely to be very different from any alien rock samples we already have here on Earth. Meteorites sometimes fall through Earth's atmosphere and land on the ground, but they have to be durable to survive that. Many of our solar system's asteroids, however, may be composed of more fragile rock like that on Bennu.

Although it appears Osiris-Rex gathered far more than the mission's minimum sample mass requirement, NASA scientists are now racing to make sure they can keep what they have by tucking it away safely.

"Time is of the essence," Zurbuchen said. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to change the sleep timer on your Windows 10 computer to save power and prevent screen burn-in

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 5:08pm  |  Clusterstock
It's easy to set your sleep timer in Windows 10.
  • To set the sleep timer on Windows 10, you'll need to open the "Power & Sleep" menu.
  • The sleep timer in Windows 10 controls how long your PC needs to sit idle before it'll go into its power-saving "Sleep" mode.
  • If you're concerned with saving battery life, you should be sure to set a short sleep timer.
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

The sleep timer in Windows 10 controls when your PC goes into "Sleep" mode. This helps prevent screen burn-in, and keeps your computer from using more power than it needs to.

This is especially useful if you're on an unplugged laptop, and want to keep your PC alive for as long as possible.

By default, most Windows 10 computers will only go to sleep after two hours spent idle. Luckily, you can change this at any time.

How to set the sleep timer on a Windows 10 computer

1. Press the Windows key + Q to bring up the search menu, and type "Sleep" into it.

2. When "Power & sleep settings" appears in the results, click it.

Open the "Power & sleep menu."

3. In the "Power & Sleep" menu that opens, scroll down to "Sleep." The drop-down menus there let you control when the PC goes to sleep. If you're on a laptop, there may be separate options for when the computer is charging and unplugged.

You can also choose how long you'd like the screen to stay on before going dark.

4. Click on the drop-down menus to open them, and select how long you want your computer to sit idle before going to sleep.

The shorter the time, the sooner your PC will go to sleep.

Once you close this window, your settings will be saved. You've now set your sleep timer.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:Read the original article on Business Insider

How to update or fix Google Play Services on your Android, and keep all your apps running correctly

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 5:02pm  |  Clusterstock
It should only take a few moments to update Google Play Services.
  • To update Google Play Services on your Android device, head to the "Apps & Notifications" menu in your settings.
  • Google Play Services let your Android apps connect to the internet and communicate with Google.
  • Updating Google Play Services can fix app issues, and help your Android device run faster.
  • If updating Google Play Services doesn't help, you can also clear its cache and data.
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

Google Play Services are an essential part of the Android operating system. They allow many apps, including third-party apps and games, to exchange information with Google. This can include getting directions from Google Maps, making a Google search, signing into your Google account, and more.

Google Play Services usually stay up-to-date automatically. But if you're experiencing a problem with your phone and suspect Google Play Services might be to blame, or a troubleshooting checklist recommends that you update Google Play Services, here's how to do that. 

How to update Google Play Services on Android

1. Start the Settings app on your Android phone. 

2. Tap "Apps & Notifications." If your Android device doesn't have this option, tap "Apps."

Start your update by finding Google Play Services in the Apps or Apps & Notifications settings.

3. Tap "See all apps" if you have that option. Otherwise, you should already see a list of all your apps.

4. Tap "Google Play services."

5. Scroll to the bottom of the page and tap "Advanced," then "App details." If you don't see that, just choose "App details in store."

By tapping the link for app details, you'll be automatically sent to the Google Play Store entry for Google Play Services.

6. In the Google Play Store, if you see "Install" at the top of the screen, tap that. If there's an update available, tap "Update" instead. If all you see is "Deactivate," then your Google Play services are already up to date.  

Install the update if there's one available. How to troubleshoot Google Play Services

If you continue to have trouble with Google Play Services, you should clear its cache and data. You can clear the cache without risk, but if you clear the data, you'll need to log into your Google account again, so be sure you have your username and password handy. 

1. Start the Settings app on your Android phone. 

2. Tap "Apps & Notifications," or "Apps" if that's your only option.

3. Tap "See all apps" if you have that option. Otherwise, you should already see a list of all your apps.

4. Tap "Google Play services."

5. Tap "Storage."

6. To clear the cache, tap "Clear cache."

7. To clear the data, tap either "Clear Storage" or "Manage Storage," and then tap "Clear All Data."

Clear the cache and data to resolve problems with Google Play Services.

Michelle Greenlee contributed to an earlier version of this article.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:Read the original article on Business Insider

Delta has added 460 people to its no-fly list since April for refusing wear masks

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 4:59pm  |  Clusterstock
Delta adds hundreds to its no-fly list for not wearing masks onboard.
  • Delta has added a total of 460 people to its no-fly list since April for refusing to wear masks onboard. 
  • Delta announced the mask-wearing requirement in April.
  • Delta is one of two major US airlines that will block middle seats on planes for the rest of 2020
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Delta has banned a total of 460 people to its no-fly list for refusing to wear masks. 

Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in an email to employees that the company requires customers and employees to wear masks to reduce the transmission of the new coronavirus. Company spokesperson Morgan Durrant said Delta announced the mask-wearing requirement in April.

Bastian said in September the company banned 350 passengers that month, 240 in late-August, and 100 in July 22 for refusing to follow mask protocols. 

Read more: An airline pilot reveals the meanings of 24 code words passengers don't understand

Mask enforcement is one of several Delta COVID-19 safety policies. Other protocols include blocking off seats in terminals and airplanes for social distancing, using electrostatic sprayers before flights, and handing customers sanitizing wipes.

Delta is one of two major US airlines that will block middle seats on planes for the rest of 2020. Alaskan Airlines announced Thursday it extended its policy to block middle seats through January 6, 2021. 

Epidemiologists have told told Business Insider's Tom Pallini sitting too close together on airplanes increases the risk of contracting COVID-19 from a nearby passenger. 

As coronavirus cases in the US continue to climb, many companies have struggled to get customers to comply with mask protocols. Employees from several major US brands reported harassment and violence directed at them when they asked shoppers to wear a mask. Retailers like Foot Locker and Dollar Tree stopped enforcing mandatory mask wearing to protect workers.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to redeem codes for games purchased in the Epic Games Store, using the Epic Games Launcher or website

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 4:49pm  |  Clusterstock
If you've purchased a third-party game through the Epic Games Store, you'll need to redeem its product code.

Epic Games is the company behind the world-popular "Fortnite," but it also has its own store with hundreds of games for sale.

Games purchased from the Epic Games store automatically appear in your library for download. But if you purchase a copy of a game from a third-party supplier, you'll need to redeem the product key that comes with it in the Epic Games Store to play it. This shows you've actually purchased the game. 

The product key, or code, is typically sent to your email if you buy a digital copy online, while codes for physical purchases are normally found on the back of the case or in the manual.

You can only redeem a product code once, so first make sure you're signed into the correct Epic Games account. Otherwise, the game will be bound to the wrong account forever.

You can redeem your code in the Epic Games Launcher or on the company's website.

How to redeem a code in Epic Games Launcher

You only need to redeem games purchased from third-party companies. Games bought in the Epic Games Store go straight to your library.

1. Open the Epic Games Launcher.

2. Click your Epic Games display name.

Click on your name in the bottom left corner.

3. Click "Redeem code" in the pop-up menu.

In the pop-up, click "Redeem code."

4. Enter the twenty-digit product code and click "Redeem."

Enter the code and click "Redeem." How to redeem a code on the Epic Games website

Redeeming your code in the Epic Games Launcher and online yield the exact same result.

1. Log into your Epic Games account on the website.

2. Hit "Redeem code" on the sidebar.

Click "Redeem code" from the menu on the left.

3. Enter your twenty-digit product code.

4. Hit "Redeem."

Type in the code and click "Redeem." Related coverage from Tech Reference:Read the original article on Business Insider

How to buy the best patio heater

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 4:48pm  |  Clusterstock

When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

  • Patio heaters have been in short supply as folks attempt to set up their outdoor spaces for the fall and winter. 
  • While we haven't been able to get our hands on many patio heaters to test, we talked to three experts about what to consider when buying a patio heater.
  • We recommend choosing a heater from a trusted brand that is independently certified by UL. Most people will get the best use out of a pyramid or dome-top propane heater that gives off at least 40,000 Btu of heat.
  • Sign up for Insider Reviews' weekly newsletter for more buying advice and great deals.

While a patio heater won't magically melt away all the snow in your yard, it can help extend the outdoor season. The right patio heater can keep you and your guests cozy, even if there's a significant chill in the air. 

If you're looking for a patio heater to keep your space warm for outdoor social calls, you'll need to consider heat output, ease of use, and, most importantly, safety. 

Currently, many stores are sold out of patio heaters or have extremely low stock due to more people socially distancing outdoors as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues. While we're attempting to get our hands on models to test and review, we've consulted safety experts and put together this guide on what to look for if you're considering purchasing a patio heater. 

The different types of patio heaters

Here's a quick breakdown of the most common types of patio heaters on the market:

  • Pyramid: A tall, freestanding heater with a triangular shape that usually runs on propane. Flames run up a center column from the bottom to the top of the heater.
  • Dome-top: Also known as mushroom-top heaters, these models are tall and skinny with  a big metal disk on top that deflects heat downward to distribute it evenly over a large area. They also run on propane and have a similar heat output to pyramid-style units. 
  • Tabletop: Compact, portable gas heaters that are small enough to fit on a patio table, like the Mr. Heater Buddy Heater.
  • Electric heaters: Hanging lamp or freestanding heaters that require an outlet for power. These put out a lot less heat than propane-powered heaters. 

While most patio heaters use propane or electricity as an energy source, natural gas heaters also exist, but they require professional installation into an existing gas line, so we don't expect to test these anytime soon.

What to consider when shopping for a patio heater Brand

Patio heaters are an investment, but they won't last forever. Buying from a reputable company that sells replacement parts means you'll be able to repair your patio heater should something break. We've noticed a lot of brandless patio heaters on Amazon and other online retailers and we don't recommend buying them. Some reputable patio heater brands include Home Depot's in-house brand Hampton Bay, AZ Patio Heaters (also sold as Hiland), Westinghouse, Dyna-Glo, and Mr. Heater. While we've only been able to test the Mr. Heater brand due to stock issues, we'll be adding reviews of other reputable brands to this guide soon. 

Read our full review of the Mr. Heater Buddy Heater.

Certifications

Matthew Griffith, prevention section chief with the Montreal Fire Department, said shoppers should look for patio heaters with certifications from the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC). These independent certification bodies test and ensure various appliances meet specific safety standards. Griffith said a lot of inexpensive products don't have these safety certifications, which can be quite expensive for brands to obtain."There's a reason why one company can sell it at half the price," he said. Though a product with safety certifications often costs more, Griffith said it's important to prioritize safety over price. 

Heat output

You're buying a patio heater to keep warm when it gets cold, so heat output should be a key consideration. Most manufacturers list heat output in British thermal units (Btu) and estimate the square footage a heater can handle in ideal conditions. The higher the Btu of a heater, the more heat it will produce and the larger an area it will cover. 

You can estimate the Btu you need to heat your outdoor area by multiplying the cubic footage of the space by your desired temperature increase. My patio is about 1,500 cubic feet (assuming a height of around 5 feet — I'm short, so I don't need to heat the air too far above my head), and if I want to hang out outside in the fall when it's 50 degrees outside, I'll probably want to raise the temperature by at least 10 degrees. That means I'll need a heater that puts out at least 15,000 Btu. Bigger spaces or colder climates will require more Btu to heat comfortably. 

If you live in a colder area or are looking to entertain guests, we recommend looking for a heater that produces 40,000 Btu or more, which is enough to heat around 2,000 square feet comfortably. Dome or pyramid-shaped heaters are typically larger and have a higher Btu output, so they can usually heat a larger area than tabletop patio heaters. These tall patio heaters are often seen at restaurants because they can keep a large number of guests comfortable at one time. Thomas Bonfiglio, CEO and founder of Triple T Hospitality, said that the high heat output is one of the reasons he chose pyramid and dome-top heaters for his New York and New Jersey restaurants. "Diners who may still not be comfortable eating inside anywhere can have a pleasant experience outside for many months," Bonfiglio said.

Fuel Type

Propane-powered heaters typically produce more heat than electric heaters because they aren't limited by the circuit system of your home. That, of course, means there are some additional safety considerations for propane heaters, since they won't shut off automatically like an electric heater will when a circuit is overloaded. You can read more about safety considerations in the section below.

The majority of propane patio heaters are compatible with standard 15-20 pound propane tanks, but some portable versions work with smaller, 16 ounce canisters. You'll have to buy propane tanks separately from the heater, as you would for a gas-powered outdoor fireplace or grill. Fortunately, small and large propane tanks are readily available at most hardware stores; it typically costs about $20 to $25 to refill or buy a 20 pound propane tank at Home Depot. 

How much gas your patio heater uses depends on its heat output, what setting you're using, and the surrounding air temperature (the colder it is, the more gas you'll use to heat the area). Amerigas says that you can expect to generate 22,000 Btu per hour for each pound of propane. So if you have a 40,000 Btu patio heater, it'll burn through about 2 pounds of propane every hour you're operating it on its highest setting. Patio heaters guzzle a lot of propane, so I always like to keep an extra tank on hand, since I have multiple outdoor gas-powered appliances like a grill and an outdoor fireplace. 

Electric heaters are usually cheaper and safer to operate because they produce less heat. They also don't require regular trips to the hardware store for fuel refills. But the heat isn't very powerful or far-reaching if you're looking to keep a crowd warm.

If aesthetics are important to you, keep in mind that electric and propane heaters give off different types of light. Gas-powered patio heaters create actual flames, which produce a natural, fireplace-like glow. Bonfiglio said he settled on gas models for his restaurant because of their ability to evenly diffuse heat without adding unnecessary bright light. 

Controls

Bonfiglio also chose patio heaters with controls that are high up and out of reach to customers, which keeps diners safe and the atmosphere consistent. If your household has children, pets, or fidgety adults who like to play with controls, you might also consider a patio heater with out-of-reach controls to prevent any accidents. Most tall, freestanding patio heaters naturally have controls that are high up. My AmazonBasics patio heater has controls so high that I need to stand on my tippy toes to reach them. 

On the flip side, if you don't have any wayward hands in your home, you might find it a pain to break out the step ladder every time you want to turn on your patio heater. Some models come with remote controls for easier operation, or you may opt for a tabletop unit.

Portability and storage

Experts told us you can store most propane heaters outside all year round. Just add a cover to prevent unnecessary wear and tear during rainstorms and cold winter months. We recommend choosing a model with wheels if you're opting for a standalone unit like a dome-top or pyramid heater, so that it's easy to wheel out of the way when not in use. If storing a portable patio heater indoors, remove the propane attachment before doing so. 

Safety considerations

Patio heaters are ultra-convenient and can easily turn your humdrum patio or deck area into a luxury retreat. But there's a lot to consider safety-wise when bringing any heat producing appliance into your home.

Griffith said it's important to follow manufacturer recommendations during installation, which means reading the owner's manual—something many buyers never do. He also recommends keeping your patio heater away from anything combustible, and making sure you allow for at least 4 or 5 feet of clearance in all directions, including vertically. Be careful of trees, umbrellas, and, if you have an apartment balcony, any balconies above you made of flammable materials. Propane-powered heaters have actual flames coming out of them, which is why it's essential to always be alert when they're lit. 

With most patio heaters, you don't need to worry about accidentally burning yourself via fully-exposed flames. The flames on most tall freestanding heaters, for instance, are well out of reach from curious little hands. But you should never leave your outdoor heater unattended, and be extra cautious on windy days. 

General propane tank safety also applies, Griffith said. Keep propane tanks at least 3 feet away from entrances or building openings, discard tanks that are damaged or more than 10 years old, and never store a propane tank indoors. It's OK to keep a tank outside all year round. "There's no danger for it to be out in the cold," says Griffith. 

Most importantly, never use an outdoor propane-powered heater inside. "Those are meant to be outdoors where it's ventilated…[carbon monoxide] is an odorless, colorless insipid gas. You simply aren't able to detect it without a CO detector. There's cases every year across North America of people dying, unfortunately, because of things like that," Griffith said. 

While electric patio heaters are a bit safer because of natural restrictions to electrical output and built-in safety mechanisms in modern home wiring, you should be careful about placement, said Dan Mock, brand manager for Mister Sparky, an electrical services company. Taping down wires can prevent accidental knock-overs, and especially important if you have kids or pets running around. Plug-in heaters require a lot of electricity, so Mock also recommends having too many things plugged in at the same time as your electric heater. Electric patio heaters aren't all dust and waterproof either. Check the manufacturer specifications and look for an IP Code rating of at least 55, which means the device can handle some dust and water. Here's a handy chart of IP ratings and what they mean. 

Griffith suggests calling your local fire department if you're unsure about placement or have questions related to patio heater safety, and he also adds that it's a good idea to check whether your town has any specific regulations for this kind of outdoor heating appliance.

Read the original article on Business Insider

You can't gift games on the Epic Games Store, as you can only buy games for your own account — here's what you need to know

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 4:45pm  |  Clusterstock
The Epic Games Store doesn't support gifting yet.
  • You can't gift games through the Epic Games Store — you can only purchase games for yourself.
  • Once you purchase a game, it's linked to your Epic Games account, and can't be shared unless someone else uses your account.
  • To purchase a game from the Epic Games Store, simply find the game on Epic Games' website and click "Buy Now."
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

Although the Epic Games Launcher is becoming increasingly seen as an alternative to Steam, it's still missing a lot of the features that made Steam so popular.

One of these is a gifting feature.

You can't gift games on the Epic Games Store

As of this writing, there's no way to send a game as a gift through the Epic Games Store or Launcher. When you buy a game through the Epic Games Store, it's yours, no one else's.

You could get around this by giving your username and password to a friend and letting them use your account. But that's against Epic Games' rules, and carries the risks that always come with sharing your passwords.

Although you can't send gifts, you can always purchase games for yourself. Here's how to purchase a game through the Epic Games Store, which you can use however you see fit.

How to make a purchase on Epic Games

You can buy games through the Epic Games website or Launcher app.

To use the website:

1. Open the Epic Games Store in a browser and log into your Epic Games account if you're not already signed in. 

2. Find the game you want to purchase. 

3. Click "Buy Now." 

You can use the store on the Epic Games website to make purchases.

4. Choose a payment method and click "Checkout" on the order summary page. 

To use the Epic Games Launcher:

1. Start the Epic Games Launcher on your desktop. 

2. In the navigation pane on the left, click "Store."

3. Find the game you want to purchase, either on the main page or by searching for it, and click "Buy Now."

The Epic Games Launcher also includes a store where you can buy games.

4. Choose a payment method and click "Checkout" on the order summary page. 

Related coverage from Tech Reference:Read the original article on Business Insider

How to leave a Google Classroom on any device and unenroll yourself from the course

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 4:37pm  |  Clusterstock
If you've completed a Google Classroom course, you can easily leave, or unenroll, from it.

If you're done with a class on Google Classroom, or you enrolled by accident, you can unenroll from that class. To do so, just hit the "More" button and "Unenroll" twice.

Note that if the class is archived, you won't be able to unenroll. If the teacher has archived the class, ask them to unarchive it so you can unenroll. 

How to leave a Google Classroom on a desktop computer

1. Open your web browser and go to the Google Classroom website. For help logging in to Google Classroom, see our article on how to do so. 

2. On the class you wish to unenroll from, click the "More" button, which looks like three vertical dots.

Click the "More" button.

3. Click "Unenroll." 

Click "Unenroll" in the dropdown menu.

4. Click "Unenroll" again to confirm.

Click "Unenroll" again in the pop-up. How to leave a Google Classroom on an iPhone 

Make sure that you have the Google Classroom app installed. You can search and download Google Classroom through the App Store on your phone. 

1. Open the Google Classroom app. For help logging in to Google Classroom, see our article on how to do so. 

2. On the class you wish to unenroll from, tap the "More" button, which looks like three vertical dots.

Tap the "More" button in the upper right corner.

3. Tap "Unenroll." 

Tap "Unenroll" in the pop-up at the bottom of the screen.

4. Tap "Unenroll" again to confirm.

Hit "Unenroll" again in the pop-up. How to leave a Google Classroom on Android 

Make sure that you have the Google Classroom app installed. You can search and download Google Classroom through the Google Play Store on your phone. 

1. Tap the Google Classroom app. For help logging in to Google Classroom, see our article on how to do so. 

2. On the class you wish to unenroll from, tap the "More" button, which looks like three vertical dots.

3. Tap "Unenroll." 

4. Tap "Unenroll" to confirm.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:Read the original article on Business Insider

How to use Facebook Messenger Rooms to video chat with friends and family from any device

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 4:27pm  |  Clusterstock
It's easy to use Facebook Messenger Rooms on any device.
  • You can use Facebook Messenger Rooms to video chat with up to 50 people at once from the Messenger app for mobile or desktop, or from the Facebook website. 
  • You can invite anyone to a Facebook Messenger Rooms video call, whether they use Facebook or not.
  • On any device, you can choose to create a Room for now, or schedule one for later. 
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

When it comes to keeping in touch with family and friends remotely, face-to-face conversations are essential.

A host of new video chatting apps have popped up to fill the need for virtual togetherness. One of the newest is Facebook Messenger Rooms, an extension of Facebook's popular Messenger platform.

With Messenger Rooms, users can create a "room" and video chat with up to 50 people at a time.

You can even add people who don't use Messenger — all you have to do is make sure that they have a link, and you're good to go.

You can start a Messenger room from the mobile or desktop app, or from the desktop website. Here's how.

How to use Facebook Messenger Rooms on the mobile app

1. Open the Facebook Messenger app on your device. In the menu at the bottom of the screen, tap "Chats."

2. At the top of the Chats page, tap "Create Room."

Tap "Create Room" at the top of the Chats page on the mobile app.

3. If you've never used Messenger Rooms before, the next page introduces how you can use Rooms by inviting guests with a link, joining a room without an account, and using the feature from any device. Tap "Try It."

If you've never used Rooms before, you'll be introduced with this screen — tap "Try It."

4. In the next pop-up screen, click "Room activity" to give your room a suggested or customized name. Click "Who can join automatically?" and choose who to invite by selecting either "Anyone with the link" or "People you invite." If you want to schedule the meeting for later, click the "Schedule for later" toggle button and select a date and time.

Set up your room by naming it, choosing who can join, and selecting your date and time.

5. On the next screen, select your Facebook friends or groups you want to invite. Or, copy the link at the top of the screen and send it to invitees via email, text, etc. Tap "Done" in the upper right corner once you've invited all your guests.

Select friends to invite or share the link, and then select "Done."

6. Your invitees can then join the room by opening the link you shared with them. Once others have joined the room, you can remove or add guests, lock the room, or add virtual backgrounds. 

How to use Facebook Messenger Rooms on the desktop app

1. Open the Messenger app on your computer. The app can be downloaded for Mac or PC.

2. If you've never used Messenger Rooms before, a banner may appear at the top of the left side panel, that says "Messenger Rooms" — click the button to "Try it." If you have used Messenger Rooms before, the button to "Create a room" will appear at the top of the left side panel, underneath the search bar — click on "Create a room." 

Click "Create a Room" in the top left corner of the Messenger desktop app.

3. A pop-up will appear introducing you to Messenger Rooms. Tap "Try It" in the bottom right corner.

Click "Try It" in the pop-up.

4. In the next pop-up screen, click "Room activity" to give your room a suggested or customized name. Click "Who can discover and join?" and choose who to invite by selecting either "Friends you invite and people with the link" or "Only friends you invite." If you want to schedule the meeting for later, click the "Schedule for later" toggle button and select a date and time.

Set up your room by giving it a name, choosing guests, and setting a time.

5. Then click "Create Room."

6. In the next pop-up, you can choose Facebook friends to invite, or copy the shareable link to send via text, email, Messenger, and more. 

You can invite additional friends here.

7. Once you've selected all your guests, click "Join Room," then click "Join Room" again in the pop-up.

8. The following screen will take you to the Room, where your camera image will appear in the bottom right corner and your invited guests will begin appearing. In this window, you can choose to share your screen, invite more friends via a shareable link, turn off your video or mic, see call participants, or leave the room. 

How to use Facebook Messenger Rooms on the desktop site

1. Go to the Facebook website and log into your account, if necessary. 

2. Underneath the "What's on your mind?" module for creating a new post, you'll see a "Rooms" module, beside a purple and blue video camera icon. In the top right corner of that "Rooms" module, click the blue link to "Create room."

Click "Create room" in the Rooms module.

3. In the "Create your room" pop-up, click "Room activity" to give your room a suggested or customized name. Click "Who is invited?" to invite either all your friends or to select specific friends. Finally, click "Start time" to choose if you'd like to start the chat now, or at a later date. 

Click through "Room activity," "Who is invited?," and "Start time" to set up your event.

4. Then, click the blue "Create room" button.

5. On the next pop-up screen, you can invite more people, share the link, edit the room, end the room, and see a list of your invited friends so far. 

Here you can edit your room, share the link with additional guests, and more.

6. To join the room, click the blue "Join" button. 

7. A separate window will pop-up. If you've never used Messenger Rooms before, click the button that says "Try it." If you have used Rooms before, click the button that says "Join Room."

In the pop-up window, click the blue button to either "Join Room" or "Try It."

8. The following screen will take you to the Room, where your camera image will appear in the bottom right corner and your invited guests will begin appearing. In this window, you can choose to share your screen, invite more friends via a shareable link, turn off your video or mic, see call participants, or leave the room. 

In your Room, you can add more guests, mute your mic or video, see all participants, and more. Related coverage from Tech Reference:Read the original article on Business Insider

I live in Canada where the temperatures dip below freezing in the fall — this compact patio heater is letting me enjoy my deck well into winter

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 4:26pm  |  Clusterstock

When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

I live in Montreal where winter is no picnic. As soon as September rolls around, people begin scrambling to put away patio furniture and close up their outdoor spaces in anticipation of a  long chill. 

But this year — with all the lockdowns during the novel coronavirus pandemic — outdoor spaces have become a social lifeline for people to battle cabin fever and socialize safely with loved ones. We're all looking for ways to extend the outdoor season a bit longer, which is why patio heaters have been practically sold out for weeks. When researching our guide to the best patio heaters, the Mr. Heater Buddy Heater was one of the few that we could actually get our hands on.

My deck, heavily shaded by a large and definitely hundred-year-old maple tree, is chilly even on warm days. As the temperatures hover around freezing at night, it's hard to sit outside and comfortably enjoy the fresh air. While I was excited to test the Mr. Heater Buddy Heater, I was skeptical that this compact little gadget would do much to warm me against the Canadian chill. 

My first reaction to the Buddy Heater was, "Gosh, this is ugly." It's not one of those sleek, upright patio heaters you'd spot at a restaurant. Instead, it's compact and rugged, like something you'd use to jump-start your car. It's bright red, relatively small, and rectangular, with dimensions of about 14 inches long and 15 inches tall. It fit easily on top of my 5-foot metal patio table, with plenty of room to spare for food and drinks. It's meant to run on small one-pound propane tanks that you can buy at hardware or outdoor stores, but it doesn't come with one, so I had to take a trip to the store. With the tank attached, it weighs about eight pounds, so it's also very light and easy to move around.

The Buddy Heater runs on small, one pound propane tanks that you can buy from a hardware or outdoor store. You can also purchase a hose to connect the heater to a larger 15- or 20-pound tank.

I used the heater for two days in the late morning when it was breezy and cool enough to need a sweater. Turning it on took me a minute or so of fiddling with the knob. You need to press down on the dial while on the pilot setting for around 30-60 seconds to get it going, then you turn it to the desired heat setting; a bit like operating a gas kitchen stove.

On the first day, I let the heater run for two hours on the highest setting. I used a thermometer to monitor the outside temperature, and the heater warmed my 59 F patio to 75 F fairly quickly; I ended up feeling overly toasty, but confident that I'd be comfortable on a cooler day. I brought it back out the next day, which was a bit chillier, and ran it until the tank was empty — an additional hour. Even though I placed it several feet away from where I was sitting, I didn't experience cold toes. The heat on the max setting was enough to provide whole-body comfort. 

The Buddy heater controls operate like the knob on a gas stove; you press the knob to ignite the pilot and then turn to your desired heat setting.

Heating devices like the Buddy Heater advertise their heat output in British thermal units (Btu). The higher the Btu, the more heat a device can produce, though the exact max temperature a heater can reach depends on the starting air temperature, weather conditions, and heater design (a tall dome-top heater will disperse more heat evenly than a tabletop model that points in one direction). Most restaurants, for example, use outdoor heaters that put out 40,000 Btu to keep a lot of guests comfortable over a wide area.  

By comparison, the Buddy Heater produces 9,000 Btu on its max setting. While it was more than adequate for solo use, I wouldn't rely on this to keep multiple socially-distanced guests comfortable. The company claims the heater can warm 225 square feet; a little less than the size of my 300 square foot patio. I tried sitting in various positions away from the heater along the length of my patio table, and was able to feel a comfortable level of heat as long as I was facing the front of the heater. I didn't feel much heat when I tried sitting behind the unit, which is to be expected, so most of my guests would have to be sitting close together on one side of the table to stay warm. That's probably okay for non-pandemic times when folks are more comfortable being closer together, but for now, I'll probably stick to using the Buddy Heater for personal use. Mr. Heater also makes a "Big Buddy" heater that packs nearly double the heat (18,000 Btu on max), which might be a good option for larger spaces. 

On the day I tested, the air was 15 C (59 F). You can see from the “max” that the Buddy Heater warmed by patio to a balmy 24 C (75 F).

Constant heat also comes at a premium. According to Mr. Heater, a one-pound propane cylinder lasts a maximum of three hours, and I confirmed that in my testing when I got just about three hours of heat out of it on the highest setting. You can purchase a hose to hook the unit up to a larger propane tank, but that's not something everyone wants in full view on their patio or deck. If you're planning on using the heater regularly, it's best to stock up on propane cylinders, or else be prepared to make frequent trips to the hardware store for refills. 

Safety features

The heater is compact enough to sit on the side table of a gas grill. However, if your porch and furniture are made of wood you may want to get a small metal table to sit the heater on.

The Buddy Heater boasts several safety features. The tip-over switch activates whenever you pick up or knock over the unit when it's powered on. It's very sensitive, and while I was glad that it worked when I purposely pushed over the heater, it was a bit frustrating that it turned the heater off even when I moved the heater around slightly. Because of this feature, make sure you place the heater where you want it before igniting the propane. It also has an oxygen depletion sensor that shuts off the gas if the air level gets too low, usually an indication of high carbon monoxide levels. 

There are also two versions of the heater — one that's certified for Canada and Massachusetts, and another that's certified for the other 49 states (including the contiguous states, Alaska, and Hawaii). The key difference is the packaging and safety warnings. Due to region-specific regulations, the heater is not certified for indoor use in Massachusetts and Canada. In every other state, you can legally use it indoors. Because of my location, I wasn't able to test the Buddy Heater for indoor use. However, I spoke to Matthew Griffith, prevention chief for the Montreal fire department, who was adamant about never using a gas-propelled appliance inside for heat no matter your location. Propane-powered heaters are more likely to create carbon monoxide than electric-powered indoor heaters. It's safer and more economical to use an electric space heater to warm up your home.  

Like most propane-powered heaters, the Buddy produces actual flames and the area near the grate gets really hot, so never put it close to flammable objects — including wooden patio furniture. If your patio table is made of wood, you may want to consider getting a small metal table to place the heater on. 

Depending on your local regulations, you'll also want to avoid storing it indoors with the cylinder still attached. You can remove the cylinder to store it inside, but I left it fully assembled on my porch where it spent multiple days outside, uncovered in the rain in temperatures close to freezing. It's still good as new, so I wouldn't worry about durability. It's a tough little heater. 

The bottom line

The heater let me work outside on a chilly fall day; something I normally wouldn’t be able to do.

The Mr. Heater Buddy Heater is easy to use, compact, and incredibly lightweight for such a powerful machine. I was so impressed that I recommended it to my mom, who loves spending time outside in her yard but gets cold at even the slightest breeze. My parents had an electric heater, but it would flip their outdoor breaker. With this propane heater, my mom can easily enjoy her coffee outside and my dad can read a book without both of them freezing their fingers and toes off. It's an excellent option for those who don't have the room for a free-standing patio heater but still want to spend a bit of extra time outside into the fall and winter. I'd also recommend this to anyone who heads out on frequent outdoor excursions such as winter hiking and camping. The durable construction, compact design, and impressive heat output make this a great accessory for enjoying the outdoor season a little bit longer. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

'No need for security checks or COVID tests': 'Borat' star meets Donald Trump Jr. and visits White House in deleted scenes

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 4:20pm  |  Clusterstock
Donald Trump Jr.
  • In deleted scenes from the new movie "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm," an actress playing Borat's daughter meets Donald Trump Jr. and visits the White House.
  • The clip posted on the Twitter account for the titular character features the actress alongside a One America News Network journalist at the White House.
  • "No need for security checks or COVID tests; they boring," Borat, played by Sacha Baron Cohen, says in the footage. 
  • President Donald Trump also makes an appearance in the deleted scene.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Deleted scenes from the new "Borat" movie show the titular character's daughter met with Donald Trump Jr. and visited the White House.

The Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, who played Tutar in the film, is seen alongside the One America News Network journalist Chanel Rion touring the White House grounds and entering the press room.

"No need for security checks or COVID tests," Borat, a fictional Kazakh journalist played by the actor Sacha Baron Cohen, narrates in a video. "They boring."

The clip was posted to the character's Twitter account on Friday, hours after the movie's release. 

The new footage also features a scene in which Tutar introduces herself to Trump Jr. at an event.

"I'm a little bit nervous, but I'm really excited to meet you," she says.

In another clip, Trump Jr. appears beside his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and President Donald Trump, with Tutar in the audience. 

The movie sequel, titled "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm," had already made headlines earlier this week because of a cameo from Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

In the scene, the former New York City mayor meets with Tutar in a hotel room for an apparent news interview. The moment escalates when Borat storms into the suite after Giuliani appears to put his hand in his pants. Giuliani later said he was just "tucking in my shirt."

—Borat (@BoratSagdiyev) October 23, 2020Read the original article on Business Insider

Travis Scott announces 'creative collaboration' with Sony to promote the PlayStation 5

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 4:16pm  |  Clusterstock
  • Travis Scott is teaming up with Sony to promote the PS5.
  • Details surrounding the collaboration are unclear, but this news comes on the heels of a very successful partnership with McDonald's earlier this summer.
  • Scott posted a video promoting the PS5, which arrives Nov. 12, to his Instagram and Twitter.
  • Fans have speculated the partnership could include sneakers — a shot of what appears to be Sony PlayStation-branded Nike shoes are visible in the video.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Travis Scott is having quite the year, and he shows no signs of slowing down with his brand partnerships.

After the success of the Travis Scott Meal at McDonald's earlier this year, the rapper is teaming up with Sony for a "multi-tiered creative collaboration" ahead of the PlayStation 5 release on November 12, according to a press release from Scott's team. 

To kick off the creative collaboration, Scott posted a video on his Instagram page and Twitter showing him sitting on a chair in front of a sound system and TV and booting up a PS5. Scott tweeted the video out with wording "TS5."

Meet the gang ReBuilt a office at the topfloor in Japan To chef up

Stunning photos show Special Forces snipers taking tough high-angle shots way up in the mountains

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 4:15pm  |  Clusterstock
A Belgian Special Forces Sniper engages an elevated target at night during the High Angle Sniper Course, in Hochfilzen training area, Austria.
  • Snipers from NATO countries recently trained to take high-angle shots in the mountains of Austria, and some of the photos from the training are pretty cool.
  • High-angle shots are those taken at more than 15 degrees at ranges in excess of 300 meters.
  • These shots require extra math and sometimes uncomfortable shooting positions to make sure the bullet lands where the sniper wants, a former US Special Forces sniper instructor told Insider.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Special Forces snipers from a handful of NATO countries recently practiced taking tough, high-angle shots in what appears to be the Austrian Alps, and some of the scenes captured in the training photos are pretty stunning.

For two weeks, from late September into October, snipers from Belgium, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands, among other countries, trained to fight in the mountains at the International Specialty Training Center High Angle Sniper Course in the Hochfilzen training area in Austria.

Here's what it looked like:

The purpose of the high-angle shooting training is to prepare snipers for mountain combat, situations that demand more of snipers than traditional shooting ranges. An Italian Special Forces Sniper and International Special Training Center Sniper instructor moving off the range. "High-angle shooting is when you shoot further than 300 meters at angles greater than 15 degrees," a Norwegian Army Land Warfare Centre sniper instructor explained during a previous iteration of the training. Belgian Special Forces sniper teams fire upon long-range targets from an elevated shooting range.

Source: US Special Operations Command Europe

High-angle shots require more calculation and adjustment than shots on a flat shooting range, John Wayne Walding, a former Green Beret who became a Special Forces sniper instructor after losing his leg in Afghanistan, told Insider. A Dutch Special Forces Sniper takes aim at targets down rage.

Read more: This Green Beret had his leg shot off on a 'cursed' mission, but that didn't stop him from becoming an elite sniper

If the target is at a different elevation than the shooter, the angled line of sight distance to the target is greater than the horizontal distance along which gravity will affect the bullet's trajectory, meaning the sniper has to do a little trigonometry and adjust before pulling the trigger. An Italian Special Forces Sniper engages targets.

The sniper has to take the cosine of the angle of deviation and multiply it by the line of sight distance to the target to determine the distance along the horizontal axis and adjust for bullet drop accordingly.

Walding told Insider that at smaller angles and shorter distances the need for adjustment is insignificant, explaining that the shot might only be off by a few inches without adjustment. "It has to be really steep or really far to make a difference," he said. A German Special Forces Sniper team engage an elevated target at night. In addition to the extra calculations, Walding said that what makes high-angle shots tough are the uncomfortable shooting positions required to actually take many of them. Greek Special Forces Snipers adjust their equipment for night time shooting. "Shooting flat, you can lay on your belly and not have to worry about stability problems, but for the high-angle shots, you'll very rarely shoot from the prone," Walding said. "Alternate marksmanship positions really come into play on those high-angle shots." An Italian Special Forces Sniper team engage targets. Then, of course, there are all of the various other considerations, such as wind adjustment, that a sniper has to put into each shot. A Greek Special Forces Sniper moves onto the range.

Read more: This Marine Corps sniper put a bullet in a target nearly 8,000 feet away — here's how he took one of the toughest shots of his life

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best space heaters

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 4:12pm  |  Clusterstock

If you don't have central heating, or do but don't want to use all that energy, then a space heater is a great way to ensure you keep nice and warm during those long winter months, whether you're in your frigid office, that one cold room in your house, or your chilly dorm room.

There are plenty of space heaters to choose from, so we've done the research for you to find the best space heaters you can buy, with special consideration of safety, efficiency, and value.

Here are the best space heaters:

Updated 10/23/2020. We updated prices and links. We also removed our previous top overall pick, Trustech Ceramic Space Heater because it was no longer in stock. We are currently testing new options for the coming season and will add in new top picks for the next update. 

The best small The Lasko 754200 Ceramic Portable Space Heater isn't just super affordable, it's also easy to use and offers a number of different modes and adjustable thermostat.

The Lasko 754200 heater is all the heater you need. Even though it is small and relatively basic, this tiny space heater can warm an entire room quickly. It's also super compact and easy to store when you're not using it, making it perfect for use in smaller apartments, dorms, and offices. Lasko's heater is so cheap that you could get one for each room in your house if need be and still not pay as much as you would for an oil-filled radiator.

It's a simple-looking space heater that should fit in fairly well. At the very least, it's small enough that it won't dominate the room. It's also pretty compact, coming in at only 9.2-inches tall, so it's easy to move from room to room.

In terms of features, Lasko kept it simple. You get variable temperature settings and a variety of heating modes. The power switch doubles as a way to control the different modes — high heat, low heat, and fan only — and there's also an adjustable thermostat so you can customize the temperature.

Insider Reviews deputy editor Malarie Gokey tested the Lasko heater in her New York apartment when a major cold snap kicked in, and loved it. It easily heated up most of her one-bedroom apartment and it was the perfect size to use in her tiny bathroom to keep it cozy.

The only downsides are that the heater doesn't offer some of the timing and programming features that you might get from other heaters, and because it's fan-operated, it might be a little loud at times. Other than that, Lasko's heater is a great buy.

Pros: Extremely affordable, easy-to-use basic features, portable, warms up any room or office

Cons: Fan-based so could be noisy, a little basic

The best high-end The Dyson Hot + Cool Jet Focus AM09 Fan Heater isn't just a great heater and air conditioner — it's beautifully designed, too, so it'll fit well in any room.

Dyson may be best known for its vacuums, but the company has taken its tech-forward attitude and applied it to other home appliances like heaters and fans. This heater may, in fact, be the most tech-focused on the list.

The Dyson AM09 bladeless heater uses what Dyson calls "Jet Focus," which pushes air out in a precise and narrow path. In other words, instead of heating the whole room at once, this heater blasts hot air in one direction, so you can point it at yourself to keep nice and toasty.

You can, of course, choose to have it heat in all directions instead, but if you need a quick blast of hot air, you'll have Jet Focus mode up your sleeve. The Dyson also includes a sleep timer, so you can set the heater to switch off on its own.

Perhaps one of the best things about this heater is the fact that it isn't just a heater. It's also an air conditioner, so you can use it during the summer to keep nice and cool, too. According to reviews, while it does produce some noise, it's not overly loud. That's because of its aerodynamic diffuser, which helps cut down on the fan noise.

While the Dyson AM09 heater is a great option, there are a few downsides to consider. For example, it's a pretty expensive heater, and if you lose the remote, you won't have access to some of the features like the sleep timer. Still, it has been highly-reviewed, and Dyson has a great brand reputation, so you can trust the technology.

Pros: Well-designed, lots of features, included remote

Cons: Expensive

The best that's also a fan Not only does the Vornado AVH2 Plus offer two different heat settings, it also boasts a cool fan setting.

While you could get the Dyson AM09 for your heater/air conditioner combo, you may not want to spend the money on it. In that case, there's another option: the Vornado AVH2 Plus. This heater not only packs both a heater and a fan, but it also has some pretty helpful high-tech features built right into it.

For example, it has automatic climate control, so you can set your ideal temperature, and the device will automatically circulate warm air to match that temperature. It also offers two heat settings, which match 750W and 1,500W outputs. Finally, it has a fan-only option, so you can keep using the device in the summer if you so choose. It even has a timer, which you can set for between 1 and 12 hours.

Of course, there are some negatives to consider. For example, while Vornado promises "whisper-quiet" operating, the fact that it's a fan-powered device means it may get noisy. It's also a tad small.

Pros: Auto climate control, two heat settings, heater and fan options

Cons: Will still make noise, a little expensive

The best design-conscious The Honeywell UberHeat Ceramic Heater has a fun modern design that will look right at home even in a chic living room.

If you care about design, our top pick may leave you a little cold. The Honeywell UberHeat Ceramic Heater is much more aesthetically pleasing with its round design and angled legs. It looks less like a normal space heater and more like a retro speaker.

It's also quite small, so it can fit in any room easily. Despite its size, it packs a punch with 1500 watts of power that will warm your space up fast. It has two heat settings and an adjustable thermostat. Honeywell's heater doesn't have many fancy features, but it gets the job done.

If you worry about your heater becoming too hot, never fear, because Honeywell has included overheat protection and its external housing won't get overly warm. The Honeywell heater has a three-year warranty in case anything goes wrong.

Pros: Warms rooms up, portable, affordable, stylish, safety features

Cons: It's simple, and has no special features

What to consider when buying a space heater

Here are a few key things to keep in mind when choosing a space heater:

  • Room size: Space heaters can often only do so much, and if you're trying to heat a huge room, you'll need a model that can fill your space with warmth. Likewise, if you're going to use the device in a smaller room, then perhaps save some money and energy and go for a smaller space heater.
  • Energy-efficient models: Buying one of these options means you could save a little money on your monthly energy bill. Plenty of energy-efficient heaters are high-quality, and they will heat your room just as well as any non-energy-efficient heater.
  • Portability: While you may not be taking your space heater out of your house often, you may still need to move it from room to room. If that's the case, you'll want to make sure that it's relatively easy to move.
  • Design: Last but not least, you'll want to consider what the space heater looks like. Sure, that may not be as important as offering heat, but the fact is that a space heater could well become a piece of furniture in your house, and as such, it should be able to fit in with the rest of your furniture reasonably well.
Check out our other winter guides to keep warm Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump seized on Biden's promise to 'transition away from oil,' but the move away from fossil fuels is nothing new

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 4:00pm  |  Clusterstock
  • President Donald Trump attacked former Vice President Joe Biden during Thursday night's debate for promising to "transition from the oil industry."
  • Biden argued that the oil industry, which he said "pollutes significantly," should no longer receive federal subsidies and needs to be replaced by renewable energy "over time."
  • Trump claimed that Biden is "going to destroy the oil industry" and a slew of Republicans attacked Biden over his comments. 
  • The idea that Democrats want to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources is nothing new. 
  • Polling shows Americans are increasingly concerned about climate change, think Trump hasn't done enough to address the issue, and want more drastic action to be taken going forward.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump attacked former Vice President Joe Biden during Thursday night's debate for promising to "transition from the oil industry" as part of his plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

Biden argued that the oil industry, which he said "pollutes significantly," should no longer receive federal subsidies and needs to be replaced by renewable energy "over time."

"Basically what he's saying is he is going to destroy the oil industry," Trump interjected.

The president then warned voters in states with large fossil fuel industries that Biden is coming for their jobs. 

"Will you remember that Texas? Will you remember that Pennsylvania? Oklahoma? Ohio?"

Notably, Trump won all four of these states in 2016, but polling shows Biden is narrowing the gap in Texas and Ohio and outperforming Trump in Pennsylvania

Biden may have regretted his wording, as he clarified his position after the debate, telling reporters he meant he would wean the oil industry off of federal subsidies, but not immediately eliminate fossil fuels. 

"We're not getting rid of fossil fuels," Biden said. "We're getting rid of the subsidies for fossil fuels, but we're not getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time." 

But the idea that Democrats, including Biden, want to eventually fully replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources is nothing new. 

A slew of recent polling shows that Americans are increasingly concerned about climate change, think Trump hasn't done enough to address the issue, and want more drastic action to be taken going forward. In an October Pew poll, 68% of Americans said climate change will play a very or somewhat important role in determining who they'll vote for in the upcoming election. 

Republicans were quick to target Biden over his comments on fossil fuels. Texas Republicans like Gov. Greg Abbott, former Gov. Rick Perry, and Sen. Ted Cruz sought to weaponize the remarks and warned Biden's policies would eliminate fossil fuel jobs. 

"Hey Texas and Pennsylvania, @JoeBiden just admitted he would transition from the oil industry, effectively killing an estimated 11 million jobs," Rick Perry, Trump's former Secretary of Energy and the former GOP governor of Texas, tweeted

—Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 23, 2020

Some vulnerable Democrats also publicly distanced themselves from Biden's position. 

"I disagree with VP Biden's statement tonight," Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, who represents a rural swing district in New Mexico, tweeted on Thursday night. "Energy is part of the backbone of New Mexico's economy. We need to work together to promote responsible energy production and stop climate change, not demonize a single industry." 

Kendra Horn, a Democratic candidate for the House in Oklahoma, tweeted that Democrats "must stand up for our oil and gas industry."

"We need an all-of-the-above energy approach that's consumer friendly, values energy independence, and protects OK jobs," she said. 

Trump has long denied the threat of climate change, even calling it a "hoax" perpetrated by the Chinese, and his administration has aggressively rolled back regulations and other policy designed to protect the environment and slow climate change. 

The Trump administration had reversed or eliminated at least 70 environmental regulations and 30 additional policy reversals were in progress as of mid-July, a New York Times report found. 

Biden, who calls climate change an "existential threat," says he doesn't support the Green New Deal -- a sweeping progressive bill spearheaded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez -- but his campaign website refers to the proposal as a "crucial framework." 

"We're told by all the leading scientists in the world we don't have much time," Biden said on Thursday. "We're going to pass the point of no return within the next eight to 10 years. Four more years of this man … will put us in a position where we'll be in real trouble." 

Trump and his allies have aggressively attacked the Green New Deal, and Trump said Ocasio-Cortez and three other freshman congresswomen of color who support the proposal "know nothing about the climate" during Thursday's debate. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best cat litter boxes

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 3:59pm  |  Clusterstock
  • We spoke to veterinary behaviorist Dr. Wailani Sung and cat behavior consultant Daniel "DQ" Quagliozzi to find out what qualities to look for in a litter box.
  • We then tested 15 of the most popular litter boxes, including disposable, hooded, top-entry, and self-cleaning models.
  • The affordable Nature's Miracle Hooded Flip-Top Litter Box, which can be used in three ways, is our top pick for the best litter box.

Cats are notoriously finicky when it comes to toileting. Many a cat household has been caught off-guard when their furry feline suddenly begins to urinate or defecate outside of the litter box. But while a cat who pees or poops on the floor or furniture may have underlying health issues, often inappropriate elimination is a cat's best attempt at communicating that something about their litter box is not quite right.

Unfortunately, most of us do not provide our cats with the toileting options they would prefer, according to Daniel "DQ" Quagliozzi, cat behavior consultant and owner of Go Cat Go! in San Francisco. "In my experience, the human being makes choices based on their preferences," he said. Hiding the box in an unused corner or placing it at a bottleneck where one cat may be bullied by another on their way to do their business can cause a cat to develop an aversion to using their litter box.

The size of the litter box and, in multi-cat households, the number of litter boxes available can also be major problems. Traditionally, experts recommend that a household should have the same number of litter boxes as they do cats, plus one extra. Those who are living in small spaces, though, may be able to get away with fewer, frequently cleaned larger boxes.

"If you have four cats, you ideally should have five litter boxes total," said Dr. Wailani Sung, a veterinary behaviorist at the San Francisco SPCA Veterinary Hospital. "Who has room for that? However, if you provide a litter box that is twice the size of a traditional-sized box and clean it at least twice daily [that] may be sufficient for the needs of all four cats."

No matter the number of cats, both Quagliozzi and Sung agree that most cats do best with large, simple litter boxes without a cover. I've taken their advice into account over the last several months as my two cats have tried out 15 different litter boxes, all but two of which (Nature's Miracle High-Sided Litter Box and Petmate Booda Dome) were provided to Insider Reviews as editorial samples from their manufacturers.

Although most of the litter boxes I tested were good or even great, I selected the ones that both my cats and I preferred as our top picks. For the best overall, I chose the versatile and affordable Nature's Miracle Hooded Flip-Top Litter Box, which can be used in three different ways according to a cat's preferences.

Here are our top picks for the best litter boxes:

Prices and links are current as of 10/23/20. 

The best litter box overall The versatile Nature's Miracle Hooded Flip-Top Litter Box is spacious, affordable, and easy to modify for sensitive cats.

Often what a cat desires in a litter box is not the same thing that appeals to our human interests. Over the last several months, I saw this firsthand as my two cats tested the litter boxes for this guide. From observing them and speaking to Quagliozzi and Sung, what I've learned above all is that cats need choices in order to feel secure.

I selected Nature's Miracle Hooded Flip-Top Litter Box precisely because it allows me to give my cats different options to best meet their toileting needs. The first option with this box is to use the base alone without adding the cover. With high, rounded sides, the 25.25-by-18.75-inch pan is spacious and sturdy.

The second option is to add the cover. It snaps into the base in four places and has a handle and a charcoal filter for absorbing odors. Unlike some covered litter boxes, there is no plastic door that a cat will need to push through and that may also swing disconcertingly once the cat is inside the box. 

The third option is to flip the front of the cover up so it uncovers about a third of the box. This makes for easy cleaning and, if left in this position, also creates a hybrid covered-uncovered box that may better meet the requirements of both cat (easy entry and no over-confinement) and guardian (odor control and less visible waste). 

While the Nature's Miracle Hooded Flip Top isn't particularly stylish, the large, versatile box will satisfy the whole family — two-legged and four-legged, alike — for a very reasonable price.

Pros: Can be used uncovered, covered, or partially covered; simple design; spacious pan; no swinging door; snaps and handle on cover make it easy to remove and attach; charcoal filter odor absorber; affordable

Cons: Basic design might not be appealing to some people

The best litter pan The spacious Petmate Giant Litter Pan is made with antimicrobial material to fight odors and has built-in pockets for supplies.

Simplicity and spaciousness are the first two factors Quagliozzi looks for in a litter box. Both he and Sung often recommend that their clients look beyond commercially sold litter boxes and use a wide, flat plastic storage container instead because it offers both qualities.

"Most of the traditional litter boxes offered are [too] small," said Sung, explaining that the box should be at least one and a half times the length of the cat.

Just like a plastic storage box, Petmate's Giant Litter Pan is long and flat at 34.75 inches by 19.5 inches. There is plenty of room for a cat to comfortably stretch their legs and cover their waste. Even better, this pan has relatively high sides to decrease litter scatter and is made with Microban, an antimicrobial product that helps prevent the growth of stain- and odor-producing bacteria.

Petmate's Giant Litter Pan also has two pockets on the side for storing a litter scooper, bags for waste, and other supplies. And while the traditional rule of thumb for litter boxes is to have one for every cat plus an extra, Sung said if you're vigilant about cleaning an extra-large pan two to three times a day, a family with more than one cat may be able to keep their felines happily toileting with just one box. 

This litter box is priced right, too, but is only available in one color: off-white.

Pros: Plenty of room for a cat to stretch their legs and cover their waste; built-in pockets on side for storing supplies; relatively high sides help decrease litter scatter; affordable; antimicrobial

Cons: Only one color option

The best disposable litter box Made from recycled paper and infused with baking soda, Nature's Miracle Corner Disposable Litter Box holds up against leaks and odors for 30 days.

Whether you're looking for a sturdy stand-alone litter box or a liner for a plastic box, Nature's Miracle disposable boxes are an excellent worry-free option. Even after a full month of use by my two cats, the bottom of the pan was fully intact. Nowhere had urine even started to penetrate the recycled paper material.

Nature's Miracle makes three versions of their disposable litter box. Based on the recommendations of Sung and Quagliozzi, the largest of the bunch, the 23-by-18-inch triangular corner box is the best option for comfortable toileting. 

The corner litter box (sold in a two-pack) is made of dense, compacted recycled paper that the company advertises as leakproof and tear-proof. In our monthlong test, I found both claims to be true. The box is also made with baking soda, which helps keep bad odors in check. Nature's Miracle disposable boxes can be used with any style of litter (I chose a clumping clay version) and when it's at the end of its 30-day life cycle, the landfill-safe pan can be easily thrown out.

Because the disposable litter box is made of paper instead of plastic, its biggest flaw is that clumps that get stuck to the bottom or sides are a little harder to remove than they are in a smooth, plastic box. And although this is a great option for travel or temporary care, sending the pan to rot in a landfill every month seems unnecessary when there are so many reusable options available.

Nevertheless, both owners who are ultra-fastidious with regard to their litter boxes and those who need a reliable temporary box will find a great solution in the Nature's Miracle Corner Disposable Litter Box.

Pros: Made of recycled materials; leakproof and tear-proof; infused with baking soda to keep smells at bay; comes in two-pack; can be used with any style litter; lasts 30 days; ideal for temporary use or travel

Cons: More challenging to scrape stuck-on clumps than in a plastic box; generates a lot of waste when used long-term

The best top-entry litter box The modern Modkat Top-Entry Litter Box reduces litter tracking and is easy to clean.

Top-entry litter boxes are not for every cat. They require athletic ability to enter, and once inside, the cat can only go in a place that allows them to pop their head out of the hole. These boxes are also typically smaller than most cats will find comfortable. The two top-entry boxes I tested were among the smallest of the 14 litter pans I considered.

Because of these factors, the two best reasons for purchasing a top-entry litter box are to reduce litter tracking and more stylishly conceal a cat's business. The award-winning Modkat Litter Box exemplifies both of these qualities.

Good-looking and well-designed, the 16-by-16-inch box with a 9-inch diameter entry has a perforated lid for funneling litter that sticks to your cat's feet back into the pan. To clean the box there's no need to remove the lid completely — it unlatches and swivels to a vertical position for easy access.

The Modkat also comes with a rip-resistant reusable plastic liner that lasts up to three months and a matching scoop that can be hung anywhere on the rim. It's offered in two colors: white with a grey lid and black with a white lid.

At almost a hundred dollars, however, the Modkat is two to three times the cost of all of the litter boxes I tested, with the exception of two of the self-cleaning varieties. And while my cats were willing to use it, it's clearly not their preference. I often found the Modkat completely empty at cleaning time even when a standard box in another room had several clumps and piles.

While it won't be ideal for many cats, those who are looking for a little style in their litter box will be charmed by the Modkat.

Pros: Attractive modern design; perforated swivel lid for capturing loose litter and easy cleaning; reusable rip-free plastic liner and a scoop

Cons: One of the smallest boxes tested; kittens and older or anxiety-prone cats may have trouble using this box; cat has to position themselves with their head out of the hole to keep from bending in an uncomfortable position; expensive

The best self-cleaning litter box Simply designed for cat comfort, the Petsafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box removes solid waste so you don't have to.

Self-cleaning litter boxes are controversial among cat experts. Sung does not recommend them. She said that self-cleaning boxes can be loud and scary to cats, especially if the machine is accidentally triggered to clean when the cat is still inside. 

Self-cleaning boxes also make it easier for guardians to miss the signs of intestinal or urinary problems. "If the owner does not clean the box, they may not know that their cat has had a bout of soft stool or several bouts of diarrhea until one or two days later when they empty out the storage area," Sung said. "They may also miss out on small amounts of urine being deposited, which may be an indication the cat has an underlying urinary tract infection."

Still, if a guardian is struggling to clean their cat's litter box(es) at least once daily, a self-cleaning style may help to provide fastidious felines with a more pleasant toileting experience. Of the three self-cleaning litter boxes I tested, my cats preferred the one that most resembled a generously sized standard litter box: the ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box by Petsafe.

Petsafe's self-cleaning litter box has an easy-to-set-up rim with a built-in rake that sits on top of a 23-by-15.5-inch disposable litter tray. Safety sensors on the rim recognize when a cat enters the box. Twenty minutes after they have exited, the rake is automatically triggered to push solid waste toward a covered compartment at the opposite end. A health counter on the rim keeps track of how often your pet does their business. 

The ScoopFree box must be used with Petsafe's disposable or reusable litter tray and their proprietary blend of crystal cat litter. The litter is absorbent, drying, and 99% dust-free, but for it to work properly, it has to be replaced every two to four weeks (depending on the number of cats in the home) at a cost of $16.95 per disposable tray or about $17 per bag. So while the device is relatively affordable, the litter costs add up to significantly more than you might spend on litter for a standard box. Plus, chemical-based litters can be harmful to a cat if they accidentally ingest them.

And just because the box is self-cleaning doesn't mean you're completely off the hook. The compartment that collects solid waste is small and will likely have to be emptied at least once, if not several times, before it's time to change the litter tray. All things considered, though, both my cats and I are happy with the Petsafe ScoopFree box. This automatic litter box works hard to keep the pan constantly clean and fresh, ensuring that your cat will have a pleasant experience every time they need to go.

Pros: Easy setup and use; self-cleaning rake triggers 20 minutes after cat has exited box; a small covered compartment holds solid waste; proprietary litter is odor-absorbent and dust-free; health counter tracks how often a cat uses the box; disposable trays can be easily thrown out after 2 to 4 weeks

Cons: Requires Petsafe's crystal pet litter which gets pricey; litter may be harmful to cat if ingested; waste compartment needs occasional emptying

What else we considered Self-cleaning litter boxes
  • Litter-Robot 3 Connect ($499): I loved this automatic litter box. The technology is very impressive — it even comes with an app to help track your cat's business — and it appears to work well. I say "appears" because after two months of waiting and following the company's instructions to entice my cats, they still haven't dared to enter the Litter-Robot. In my tests, however, the Litter-Robot had no trouble dealing with the various objects I tasked it with filtering out: pencils, erasers, and water to activate urine-like clumps. Unfortunately, for my felines, the tight globe shape of the box's interior, which prevents a cat from being able to stand on even ground as they do their business, was a deal-breaker. It's an expensive lesson in how cat preferences and human preferences often don't align. Luckily, the machine comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee for cats, like mine, who refuse to give it a try.
  • Omega Paw Roll'N Clean Cat Litter Box ($36): While this self-cleaning box has received plenty of good reviews, for me it missed the mark. Rolling the box to filter my cats' waste often resulted in pouring litter on to the floor and I still had to go in and scrape clumps stuck to the bottom of the pan with a litter scooper regularly. At just 10 by 15 inches, the interior of the pan is also extremely small when the filter is in place. 
Budget litter boxesCovered litter boxes
  • Catit Jumbo Hooded Pan ($30): This litter box was a close second to my overall best pick. Like the Nature's Miracle hooded box, this pan can be used uncovered, covered, or in a hybrid-style with the front section flipped up. It's relatively large, and I also like the Magic Blue air purifier cartridge that comes with it. The cover is fitted with a swinging door that can be removed if desired. It was only the cost — more than twice that of the Nature's Miracle pan — that kept the Catit Jumbo Hooded Pan out of the top spot.
  • Frisco Hooded Cat Litter Box, Extra Large ($33): This is a good all-around box that is spacious and easy to enter. The door flap is lightweight and it can be removed if desired, but the cover has to be completely lifted off of the base for cleaning.
  • Booda Dome Cleanstep Litter Box ($35): While I like the look of this litter box, it devotes too much space to design and not enough to the litter itself (the pan is only 12 by 21 inches). The inclusion of the stairs also makes this box unnecessarily complicated for more sensitive cats who prefer simple access to their toilet.
Disposable litter boxes
  • Nature's Miracle Disposable Cat Box ($7): The regular- and jumbo-size disposable litter pans by Nature's Miracle are made of the same great stuff as the corner version I selected as the best disposable box. But both are significantly smaller: The jumbo has 25% less space and the regular almost 50% less.
  • Kitty's WonderBox Disposable Litter Box ($10): This disposable litter box is well made, but it's tiny, just 13.5 by 17 inches. The size makes the WonderBox a decent option for travel, but it's not appropriate for long-term daily use. 
Top-entry litter boxes
  • Petmate Top-Entry Litter Pan ($18): The dimensions of this box and the opening are similar to those of the Modkat, and I like that this box is affordable and made from 95% recycled materials. Style is lacking with the Petmate, however, and it doesn't come with a liner. Its lid is also a little less functional than the Modkat, which swivels up for easy cleaning and clicks back into place when closed. Despite being designed with hinges on the side to allow for lifting the lid without removing it completely, I found that every time I actually attempted to clean the Petmate pan, the lid slipped out of the hinges and pulled completely off of the top.
What we're looking forward to

We're currently testing additional litter boxes for an update to this guide, including the following:

Check out our other guides to the best products for cats The best cat litter

Cats are picky about the litter in their litter boxes, so it's important to choose a formula that's healthy for your cat and easy to clean. Because there are so many different types of cat litter out there, it can be a challenge to make the right choice.

The best natural cat litter

Natural cat litter has several advantages over conventional clay-based cat litter — it's more eco-friendly, it clumps well, and it's healthy for your cat.

The best litter mats

Even with low-tracking litter, you still need a mat to contain scatter. The best cat litter mats trap litter to prevent it from being spread all over the house. We tested mats with three cats and consulted veterinarians to select the best ones.

The best cat brushes

Brushing a cat regularly can help reduce shedding, matted fur, and hairballs. We tested 14 cat brushes, dematting tools, combs, and grooming gloves to select the best for short- and long-haired cats.

The best flea prevention and treatment for cats

Fleas can pose serious risks to your cat's health. With the right flea treatment for cats, you can keep your cat or kitten safe from fleas. Effective over-the-counter flea control products are available in the form of topical preventives, collars, shampoos, sprays, and oral options.

The best cat carriers

Travel makes many cats nervous. To keep your cat safe and secure, you need to invest in a high-quality cat carrier. Cat carriers come in all shapes and sizes with different designs depending on the intended use. Here are our top picks for the best cat carriers.

The best cat food

Cats need lots of protein and fat in their diets to be healthy, so it's important that you feed them the best nutritionally balanced cat food. Whether you're shopping for dry or wet cat food, we've researched many brands to give you high-quality options.

The best hairball medicine

Hairballs are inevitable for cats, and if your feline is extra fluffy, it may be a chronic problem. Luckily, there are plenty of great hairball remedies, medicines, and prevention tools out there.

The best scratching posts

Cats need to scratch, so to save your sofa and your curtains, you need a sturdy cat scratching post or scratcher. Scratching posts may be vertical, horizontal, or inclined, and some of them can be wall-mounted. Each cat has their own unique preferences, of course. These are the best scratching posts.

The best cat bowls

Some cats are picky about their food bowl. That's why it's important to choose the right one for their needs. When it comes to choosing the best cat food bowl for your cat, there are a number of factors to consider. Here are our top picks for the best cat bowls.

The best cat beds

There are many different kinds of cat beds, and cats, fickle creatures that they are, will all like different beds for special, mysterious cat reasons. Here are the best cat beds you can buy.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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