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  • Fancy jam hive assemble: The viral Bonne Maman Advent calendar is back for 2022
    the Bonne Maman 2022 Limited Edition Advent Calendar propped up on a table amid holiday decorations

    Wake up babe, new jam Advent calendar just dropped.

    The French preserves and spreads manufacturer Bonne Maman officially released its 2022 Limited-Edition Advent Calendar this week — and not a moment too soon, for those of us already counting down the days to Christmas (less than 150) or just looking for a quaint distraction from reality in the form of tiny Mason jars filled with marmalade and jelly samples.

    This year's 24-jar collection features a whimsical new holiday carousel theme with 23 fruit spreads and one honey. Those lucky enough to order one before it inevitably sells out (it always does) can look forward to several exclusive flavors, including Chestnut & Orange with Spices, Pear with Cocoa Nibs, Strawberry with Star Anise, and Apple with Caramel & Cinnamon. How delectable — scrumptious, even!

    This festive treat is already out of stock at Amazon but remained available at when we last checked Tuesday evening (and where it briefly crashed the site a day prior). You'll pay $39.99 plus $9.95 for standard shipping (limit two per person). Past years indicate that it may pop up at Costco sometime before winter, too, but don't count on it just in case. Estimated standard delivery dates were in the "2 to 5 business days" range at the time of publication.

    The Bonne Maman calendar has sold out every year for the past five years, but it reached a new level of popularity last year on TikTok amid a broader trend of opening and reviewing Advent calendars, which have numbered doors containing surprise pictures or trinkets.

    With roots in 19th century Germany, traditional Advent calendars were marketed toward kids as a fun way to mark the days leading up to Christmas. (Hello, fellow former Catholic school comrades.) But they've become a mainstream, more adult-ified phenomenon in recent years as big-name brands have embraced them as a means to get shoppers to try new products. Think fashion hauls, but for three weeks' worth of Trader Joe's beauty products, Pink Starburst-themed knickknacks, and shitty Chanel merch.

    TikTok doesn't seem to have caught on to the availability of the 2022 Bonne Maman calendar just yet — at least, nothing came up in a quick search for "bonne maman advent 2022" — so grab yours while you still can.

  • Your Spotify home page is getting a makeover
    The new Spotify Home layout.

    Your Spotify home page is getting a makeover.

    This week, Spotify is launching separate feeds for music and podcasts that will be accessible through the Home page on the app. This makes it easier to find what you're really looking for. Your existing Home feed won't change, but you will notice two new tabs on the upper left of the page: one labeled "Music" and titled "Podcasts & Shows."

    These feeds will essentially put all of Spotify's recommendations in one place. The Music feed will feature new releases and playlists based on users' music taste, while the Podcast & Shows feed will keep you up to date on the latest episodes of shows you follow, as well as suggestions based on what you're listening to now.

    The update is currently rolling out to Android users and "will soon be available iOS." To use it you'll tap on the "Music" and "Podcast & Shows" icons in the upper left corner on Spotify Home. Then you'll be able to scroll through Spotify's curated recommendations like it's any other social media feed.

    This announcement comes after ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, filed a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for "TikTok Music" in May. The app is poised to be a Spotify competitor, but this update proves that Spotify will continue to evolve and adapt to what their users want.

  • New 'Elden Ring' patch nerfs a go-to strategy for the game's hardest boss
    A landscape scene from

    There's no such thing as an easy ride in any FromSoftware game.

    The Elden Ring developer reminded fans of exactly that on Tuesday with the release of patch version 1.06. Joining some newly tweaked summoning rules is a host of balance changes, including a handful that weaken some of the go-to tools used by players who want to take some of the bite out of the more grueling late-game boss fights.

    The one-two punch of changes starts with Bloodhound Step, a weapon skill that gives players an alternative dodge move which comes in the form of a short-distance teleport. It comes with a low Focus Points (FP) cost, which makes it viable to use with characters that aren't as magically inclined. It also offers more protection than the standard dodge move, with a longer window of invulnerability while the skill is in use.

    That's how it was before patch v1.06, anyway. Now? Not so much.

    The post-patch Bloodhound Step has a shorter teleport distance and a similarly reduced window of invulnerability (which is measured in "frames"). Players can also expect to run into "reduced performance" from the skill when they use it repeatedly in rapid succession — the notes aren't clear on what "reduced performance" means, specifically — whereas previously your FP total was the only limit on its use.

    On the flipside, Bloodhound Step will also now take your carry weight into account, so you can increase the teleport distance by having a lighter load equipped. That doesn't completely mitigate the impact of the patch, but it does give players who have depended on the skill an option for continuing to use it.

    The other major balance tweak comes for Rivers of Blood, a powerful katana that's been favored by many players because of its unique abilities. The katana's "Corpse Piler" weapon skill unleashes a swirling flurry of slashes which strike across a larger area and inflict Blood build-up, an Elden Ring status effect that can even the odds in boss fights because the damage it inflicts is a percentage of the foe's max health total rather than a fixed number.

    The pre-patch Rivers of Blood has been an especially useful option for tougher bosses in part because of its attack range, but mostly because of Corpse Piler's ability to rapidly generate Blood build-up and, as a result, slice larger chunks off a boss's health bar at a faster pace. The patch reduces both the damage numbers and Blood build-up inflicted by Corpse Piler. RIP Rivers of Blood, thanks for the good times, buddy.

    These might feel like heavy-handed changes, but that's the fine line of game balance for you. Bloodhound Step and Corpse Piler both became go-to strategies for managing Malenia, who is widely considered to be Elden Ring's most challenging boss. But more impactfully, both have also become indispensable tools for players when they're invading other people's games.

    Tellingly, the summoning changes in patch v1.06 ease some pain points with the feature that have lingered since Elden Ring launched. For those who aren't familiar, the online aspect of summoning cuts both ways.

    You can use it to call on other players for help in specific areas and with particular fights by drawing a little sign on the ground that then appears in the same location in other people's games. When another player interacts with that sign, they're whisked off to join you. But summoning someone also opens your game up to incursions by hostile players who use a different kind of summoning sign to stage invasions.

    Bloodhound Step and Corpse Piler have been popular pre-patch because they confer benefits that are difficult to counter. In the context of invasions, that means players with an invaders' mindset can use overpowered equipment to give themselves an edge. Making these tools less effective also makes them less essential, and that in turn creates more room and reason for players to experiment with Elden Ring's vast hoard of loot.

  • Ancient Greenland shark found off the coast of Belize
    Ancient Shark

    One of the last things biologists expected to find in the balmy Caribbean Sea was an ancient Greenland shark, a creature known for dwelling far off, in the icy Arctic.

    Yet researchers, while temporarily catching and tagging tiger sharks off the coast of Belize, caught a Greenland shark (or potentially a Greenland-shark hybrid), a species that lives for centuries in the deep sea.

  • Blend analog and digital with this auto-transcribing smart pen and notepad
    Person holding the NEWYES Smart Pen & LCD Pad Bundle Set.

    TL;DR: As of August 9, you can get the NEWYES Smart Pen & LCD Pad Bundle Set for just $151.05 instead of $159 — that's a 5% discount.

    Hand-writing notes for yourself can be great. It’s fast and convenient, and most people tend to remember what they wrote better if they write it by hand. However, transcribing what you write can be frustrating, and paper notes aren’t exactly disaster-proof, considering one wrong move with a full cup of coffee can take out a whole book. You don’t have to settle for typing your notes just to have some guarantee that they’ll be saved somewhere central. Instead, do both. 

    Write by hand and watch it appear on your screen using the NEWYES Smart Pen & LCD Pad Bundle Set. This novel tool instantly translates whatever you write on real paper or the LCD Pad into digital text, and for a limited time, it’s only $151.05 (Reg. $159). 

    Transcribe your notes in an instant

    Write a word or draw a picture. Either way, this smart pen uses a motion-tracking sensor to turn whatever you write into digital text that can be saved to your phone or to cloud storage. Grab any old notebook and start writing. The Newyes Smart Pen can recognize text, math, elements, and music. It doesn’t even need an internet connection to work. It also has a real pen tip, so you’re not just writing empty words and watching your screen to make sure they look natural. This set even comes with three ink refills. 

    If you do have an internet connection, you can automatically upload all of your notes when you connect to your phone. Once uploaded, you can search through your notes either through tags or just by searching a word. USB-rechargeable, the battery on your pen can last up to eight hours, though you don’t need a battery to use the normal pen function. 

    Write in analog and digital at the same time with this smart pen

    Transcribe your written notes instantly and make every doodle into an editable digital file. For a limited time, get the NEWYES Smart Pen & LCD Pad Bundle Set on sale for $151.05 (Reg. $159). 

    Prices subject to change.

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