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Lyft riders can now take a driverless-car trip in Boston

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How long will it be before ridesharing services dispense with drivers altogether and start sending autonomous cars out onto the streets? Pretty soon, if the likes of Lyft gets its way.

The ridesharing company that once stuck furry pink mustaches to the front of its cars is already working hard on its driverless vehicle program, and has just launched a pilot scheme to test out the technology.

In June, Lyft partnered with nuTonomy, a technology company specializing in driverless car systems, to test autonomous vehicles. And now it’s putting them on the road in Boston’s Seaport district.

“Select passengers” using the Lyft app are being offered the chance to hop inside one of nuTonomy’s modified Renault Zoe electric cars for a short ride around the Seaport area — if they want to go further afield they’ll have to transfer to a human-driven car. A nuTonomy engineer will also come along for the driverless ride and be ready to take the controls in the unlikely event of anything going wrong.

NuTonomy says the trial has two primary goals: First, it wants to give members of the public the chance to try out the technology for themselves instead of simply hearing or reading about it the whole time. Once they’ve experienced a ride in a self-driving car, it wants to use feedback from the passengers to help improve the technology “so that we can deliver an autonomous transportation experience that is extremely safe, efficient, and comfortable,” the company said in a release.

With rival ridesharing service Uber also developing the autonomous technology, Lyft is continuing to invest heavily in its own efforts. In the last year in particular, it’s been inking a lot of partnership deals with relevant firms. Besides nuTonomy, it’s also hooked up with the likes of Alphabet-backed Waymo, Ford, and GM. Lyft also recently received a permit to test self-driving cars on the streets of California.

Confirming beyond any doubt that its interest in self-driving vehicles is not, as one of its own executives put it, “a side project [but] core to our business,” Lyft opened a research center in Silicon Valley, California, just last summer.

The company’s president, John Zimmer, said last year that breakthroughs in autonomous vehicle technology will mean that “by 2025, owning a car will go the way of the DVD,” and that even earlier, in 2021, the majority of Lyft rides will be in self-driving cars.

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***This post originally published on Digital Trends***

Digital Trends is a leading consumer technology publisher helping people navigate an increasingly digital world. With easy-to-understand product reviews, entertaining news and videos, Digital Trends serves more than 30 million unique visitors each month. Digital Trends reaches 90 million tech influencers through their own media network, and its syndicate partners include Yahoo!, FOX News and more than 200 broadcast news stations. Digital Trends is headquartered in Portland, OR with offices in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Chicago.

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For American astronauts, the moon beckons once again

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On the 45th anniversary of American astronauts’ last visit to the moon, President Trump signed a new directive to launch a plan to once again set foot on the lunar surface.

The signing of Space Policy Directive-1 at the White House on Monday, December 11 authorizes NASA to focus efforts on a moon landing, reinforcing a unanimous recommendation by the new National Space Council, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, in October 2017.

You may be asking, “So what happened to Mars?” after so much bold talk in recent years of manned missions to the red planet. Well, plans to embark on that ambitious journey certainly haven’t been abandoned, with the moon trip expected to lay the foundations for a future mission to the faraway planet.

“The directive I am signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery,” President Trump said on Monday. “It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972, for long-term exploration and use.”

Trump added, “This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints — we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond.”

Vice President Pence insisted America will “lead in space once again on all fronts,” adding, “Space is the ‘next great American frontier’ and it is our duty — and our destiny — to settle that frontier with American leadership, courage, and values.”

Despite the ambitious proclamations, details for the moon mission — or missions — are currently thin on the ground. It’s not yet clear what kind of funding NASA will receive, or whether it will partner with private outfits like SpaceX to expedite the plan. And there was no mention of a timeline for a manned mission to the moon, or indeed to Mars.

NASA nevertheless said it was looking forward to “supporting the president’s directive, strategically aligning our work to return humans to the moon, travel to Mars, and opening the deeper solar system beyond.”

Trump signed the directive in front of a small group of dignitaries, among them NASA astronauts Sen. Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, who landed on the moon 45 years to the minute that the policy directive was signed, Buzz Aldrin — the second human to set foot on the moon back in 1969, Peggy Whitson, the current holder of the record for the longest time (665 days) spent in space by a U.S. astronaut, and Christina Koch, a member of NASA’s astronaut class of 2013.

The White House directive intensifies a new space race between the U.S., China, and Japan to return humans to the moon. Both Asian countries in 2017 outlined separate plans for moon missions. Japan appears to be looking at 2030 for a trip to the lunar surface, while China has outlined plans for a mission soon after that. We’ll have to wait for more details from the U.S. government to find out if it has any hope of getting there sooner.

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How to change the background on a Mac

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You’ve got a brand new MacBook or iMac, so it’s time to spruce up that desktop background with something other than the stock Apple photos.

The good news is that it’s not hard to change the background on your Mac computer. Whether you want to switch to a favorite new photo, put up a dazzling image you found online, or rotate between a collection of your favorite backgrounds, we can show you how to change the background on a Mac the easy way.

Changing your background to another image

Mac Background Finder

This option is for those of you who recently downloaded an image online or from a similar source and want to make it your background. It’s quick and simple, here’s how to get started:

Step 1: Exit out or downsize any windows on your screen so your Mac is focused on the desktop. In the upper left corner you will see the option to choose and open the Finder window. If you don’t already have a Finder window open, start one by choosing this option or using a keyboard shortcut.

Step 2: In the Finder window, search for the image that you want to use for your background. Make special note of what the image was called when you downloaded it, or just search your most recently downloaded images to find it. Make sure that it is the correct image. If you have saved the image to your desktop, the file icon should be visible out there as well, if you want to save a little time.

Step 3: Right click on the image to show the dropdown menu of everything you can do with it. Toward the bottom of this menu, you should see an option to Set Desktop Picture. Choose this, and this image should automatically be moved to your background. This gives you an opportunity to immediately see how it looks and if the resolution is acceptable.

Changing your background to a specific photo

Mac Background PhotoSuppose you have a specific photo that you or a friend took, that you want to use for your Mac background. Here’s how to do it quickly!

Step 1: Make sure the photo is imported into your Mac Photos app. This may have happened automatically, depending on how your devices are set up. Open your Photos app (you can find it in Applications in the menu bar) and find the photo that you want to use as a background.

Step 2: Right click the photo that you want to use, and select Share. This will create a secondary menu of the places you can share the photo, and at the bottom you will find an option to Set Desktop Picture. Choose this.

Note: Photos also makes it easy to assign photos to specific screens if you have multiple monitors. Just drag the Photos app window to the monitor that you want equip with that background as you are working.

Advanced option: Set your background to rotate images

Can you just not make up your mind about the best image to use? Do you have a lot of favorites and like to switch a lot? It’s easy to set your Mac up to automatically switch between images, although it takes a bit more work. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Using the Finder, create a new folder and call it something easy like “Background Images.” Copy all the images that you really want to use as backgrounds, and paste them into this folder. Add any new images or photos that you also want to use as backgrounds. Anything you want for your background needs to be in this folder.

Mac Background Rotate

Step 2: Head to the menu bar and open up System Preferences, which you can find under the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen. Once there, look for the icon for Desktop & Screen Saver and open it up. Make sure you are on the desktop tab and not the screensaver tab.

Step 3: In the select-an-image menu on the left, you should see a small plus and minus sign at the bottom. Select the plus sign, which will allow you upload a folder from your Mac. Choose the folder where your images have been collected, and add it.

Step 4: At the bottom of the window you will see an option to Change picture. Make sure this option is checked and that your folder is the source selected. You can then choose how often you want the desktop background to change. Choose something that works for you – we like changing the image once a day so every morning is something different, but if you want more of a slideshow feel, you can cut that down by a lot. You can also choose whether pictures are chosen randomly from the folder, or if they change in order.

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***This post originally published on Digital Trends***

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Outfit the athlete in your life with one of the best gifts for runners

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Tis the season for hanging mistletoe, listening to holiday carols, and shopping ’til you drop. If you still have a runner on your list to find a gift for, you may be scrambling to try to track something down they’ll actually like. If you don’t run yourself, this daunting task is even harder — how are you supposed to know exactly what a runner wants for the holidays? You’re still trying to get your head around the fact people find it fun to jog in circles until they collapse.

Fear not, we’re here to help. We’ve rounded up the latest gadgets, coolest gear, and sleekest apparel in the running world to give you a hand with your shopping woes. Below, you’ll find the products we thought were the best gifts for runners this season. Whether they’re into trail running, road races, marathons, triathlons, or just jogging around the block, we found something for everyone.

best gifts for runners fuelbelt ultralight belt lifestyle

This amazing little hydration gadget has the ability to revolutionize anyone’s running game. The extremely lightweight belt features two ergonomically shaped plastic bottles which sit smoothly against the fabric and fit perfectly into the curve of their hand when they go to have a drink. With Helium Hex airflow, the water is easy to drink and its clip-lock security bottle holster keeps the dishwasher-safe bottles free from bouncing around during a run. Featuring a unisex design, its fits runners of any size.

Buy it now:

Amazon

best gifts for runners night trek shoe lights lifestyle

If the person you’re shopping for is someone who likes to run at night, these LED shoe lights will help keep them visible while also allowing them to avoid rocks, ruts, and sidewalk cracks. The water-resistant contraptions blast 150 lumens up to 30 or more feet ahead of the runner, offering light to illuminate whatever surface they’re jogging on. Rear-facing red tail lights also let drivers know where they’re at and the whole unit offers 270 degrees of visibility. The devices clip on securely, delivering three to five hours of light in one stretch of battery life.

Buy it now:

Amazon

best gifts for runners arc teryx norvan sl jacket lifestyle 1

This lightweight trail running jacket is constructed with ShakeDry, a type of Gore-Tex technology that doesn’t have face fabric, allowing it to weigh less than similar Gore-Tex shells. The breathable, packable jacket clocks in at just 4.2 ounces and can be compressed into a tiny ball. Lastly, the waterproof hood rolls back and snaps together so it doesn’t flap around when not in use.

Buy it now:

Moosejaw

best gifts for runners balega silver ion socks lifestyle

They will never experience softer, more securely fitting training socks than Balega’s Silver Ion line. Unlike many runner’s socks which constantly slide down and bunch up around the heel, these offer compressive arch support bands that keep them fitting snugly — there’s even a high heel tab that hugs the inside of shoes and an extra deep heel pocket to prevent sliding. The design also encourages a more natural foot movement and improved circulation. This line of Balega socks uses technology that encapsulates the sock fibers in silver ions to create enhanced antibacterial properties which, paired with the fabric’s Drynamix moisture management, keeps the runner’s feet dry and odor-free.

Buy it now:

Amazon

best gifts for runners yaxtrax run traction device lifestyle

There are fair-weather runners and then there are die-hards who get outside to train in the rain, sleet, snow, and hail. If you’re shopping for the latter runner, YaxTrax’s device is a game changer for them. The anatomically designed product fits snugly on their shoe and is built with strong rubber, 1.4-millimeter steel coils, and carbide steel spikes, allowing them to winterize their running shoes and train more safely on snow and ice. It offers traction for temperatures as low as ‑41 degrees Fahrenheit and, as a bonus, has a reflective heel tab for night training.

Buy it now:

Amazon

best gifts for runners katadyn befree collapsible flask lifestyle

This lightweight, award-winning water flask has a built-in filter, allowing runners to “be free” of the hunt for hydration, filling up their bottles virtually anywhere and letting the flask’s EZ-Clean Membrane clean it up for them. It features a gentle-squeeze top and a removable filter that easily pops out for a quick rinse. The collapsible design even allows it to fit into small backpacks and some pockets.

Buy it now:

Amazon

best gifts for runners scarpa spin lifestyle2 1

The Spin is a sleek trail running shoe that offers high-level performance without the cumbersome bells and whistles. The shoe performs fabulously on technical terrain, allowing runners to tackle hills faster and enjoy precise foot control. It features a Vibram outsole with Megagrip technology, a high-density rock plate, and a mesh upper with welded PU overlay. All told, it’s a great running shoe that offers superior stability in a simple, minimalist package.

Buy it now:

Amazon

best gifts for runners aftershokx trekx titanium lifestyle

When they’re out jogging around, they need music to get in the zone and this gadget from AfterShokz is essentially the Cadillac of running headphones. The wireless, open ear design showcases bone conduction technology, a method which delivers music through someone’s cheekbones, allowing their ears to stay open to their surroundings. This maintains their situational awareness, keeping them safer while also allowing them the ability to listen to their favorite tunes. The Bluetooth 4.1 offers perfect syncing to a smartphone, the sound quality is stellar, and the titanium wraparound headband keeps the device securely in place.

Buy it now:

Amazon

best gifts for runners garmin forerunner 935

Garmin’s Forerunner 935 is one of the best sport watches available for runners, particularly those who regularly participate in races, marathons, and triathlons. The device tracks heart rate, sleep, calories burned, personal records, steps, and other fitness metrics while they run. The lightweight watch also delivers smart notifications, allow for automatic workout uploads and syncs with Strava Live Segments to let them compete with their friends. With interchangeable bands, they can swap out a variety of options for a different style, making it a versatile, top-of-the-line running accessory.

Buy it now:

Amazon

best gifts for runners spy hunt sunglasses lifestyle

Happy runners are fast, effective runners. This cool pair of shades from SPY boasts Happy Lens technology that filters out bad short-wave blue light, allowing more long-wave blue light to penetrate the lens. The idea is that with more of this type of ray — which has been connected to improvements in mood — it will theoretically boost their happiness and make for a more enjoyable run or outdoor activity. The lens technology also offers stellar visual clarity, enhancing colors and contrast to make training safer and more effective. These “trail to tavern” sunglasses even have a stylish, casual frame with sturdy Grilamid material which allows them to look as good as they function.

Buy it now:

Amazon

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