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How To Join The Metaverse With An Oculus Quest 2

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We have written about Oculus products (including the Oculus Quest, the Oculus Quest 2, and the Oculus Go) several times over the years, so it is bittersweet to see the brand be retired. Bitter because I’ll always have found memories of using an Oculus VR headset, sweet because the rebrand to “Meta” means that the company formerly known as Facebook believes in the technology so much that it will continue to launch the products directly under its own name.

No one knows yet exactly what the so-called “metaverse” will work, and if they say they do they are lying. I expect even Mark Zuckerberg himself would admit if pressed that he is currently thinking in the broadest of (Henri Rousseau-esque) strokes. But one thing we do know is that Oculus headsets will be at the center of it—at least at the beginning until everyone is implanted with a VR chip at birth or whatever.

With that in mind, if you want to be an early adopter of the metaverse, you need an Oculus headset. Future iterations are going to be called Meta headsets, and presumably they will offer more of the real-world applications that Zuckerberg promises. Until then, the Oculus Quest 2 will have to suffice.

Photo via Amazon

Oculus Quest 2 — Advanced All-In-One Virtual Reality Headset — 128 GB — $299

To date, the primary function of a VR headset is gaming. The Oculus Quest 2 is the best tech has to offer in this regard. However, it also offers several proto-metaverse applications, such as virtual concerts and even a virtual meeting space called Horizon Workrooms. Its latest feature is called Horizon Homes, which attempts to give you a virtual space where you can socialize with friends and family. Where was this 20 months ago at the start of the pandemic lockdowns?

When it comes to the metaverse, Facebook—excuse me, “Meta”—is just getting started. You can choose to wait and see if this is all a hilarious flop like New Coke, or you can choose to jump on the bandwagon and reap the benefits as soon as possible. Creepy as it may seem, the metaverse has its advantages. For one, there is no doubt that virtual Travis Scott concerts are safer than the real thing.

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How To Listen To CDs Without A CD Player

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In the Year of Our Lord 2022, apparently CDs are still being produced. I have been brushing up on my foreign language skills recently, and most textbooks you can buy online boast that they come with an audio component to practice your listening comprehension. For some, that means recordings that can be accessed via QR code or URL. For others, it means they stick a CD in a pouch attached to the back page of the book.

Why they do this I have no idea. Presumably they do not want to pay hosting fees to maintain a website with the audio files. Whatever the reason, it is extremely annoying. How do they expect their customers to use the CDs? These days, people are more likely to own a record player than a CD player. Unless you happen to have an old PS3 lying around, the only place you might have a CD player is in your car. These publishers can’t honestly think people are going to drive around every time they want a language lesson, right? In addition to being a big hassle, that also seems rather unsafe.

All of this is to say that I had to go to Amazon and purchase a CD player. At first I bought a portable CD player, perhaps in an unconscious nod to the good times I had growing up listening to my Sony Walkman.

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GPX PC332B Portable CD Player with Anti-Skip Protection, FM Radio and Stereo Earbuds – Black — $23.83

When it arrived, I was excited to finally get back to my language learning. Unfortunately, the thing turned out to be a piece of junk. It does not work at all. I put in the batteries and my CD, and it turned on. But no matter what buttons I pressed it would not actually produce any sound. I tried both the cheap earbuds it came with as well as my own, both to no avail. In short, do NOT buy this CD player.

Back to the drawing board. I started searching again on Amazon and decided to try a different route. At first I was leery of buying a CD-ROM drive to attach to my laptop. I figured that already spend enough time each day glued to my computer screen, so why tether myself if I didn’t have to? But all the CD players with the best reviews were that type, so I bit the bullet and bought this one:

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External DVD Drive USB 3.0 USB C CD Burner Amicool CD/DVD +/-RW Optical Drive,Slim Portable DVD CD ROM Rewriter Writer Duplicator for Laptop Desktop PC Windows 10/8/7 MacBook Mac Linux OS Apple — $24.99

Thank God I did! The Amicool external CD-ROM exceeded all my expectations. I was worried about having to mess with some sort of installation software, but it turned out to be truly plug-and-play. Importantly, it comes with a USB-C adapter. (Watch out: A lot of the available options only have a traditional USB-A plug, useless if you are using a MacBook.) I was able to listen to the audio files as soon as I inserted the CD. Success!

If this were all the CD player did, I would give it my seal of approval. But I haven’t even mentioned the best part. As soon as you play a track from the CD, iTunes (or whatever Apple is calling its music software these days) immediately uploads and stores it. Remember how I said I didn’t want to have to sit in front of my computer more than I had to? That is not a problem if the sound files are always in your Music app. That means you can listen to them on your iPhone or iPad wherever and whenever you please. Happy listening!

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Amazon Price Hike Presents Walmart Opportunity

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Pexels (Sagar Soneji)

As I am sure you saw, Amazon recently announced a price hike of its popular Amazon Prime service. The cost of a one-year subscription will soon jump from $119 to $139, an increase of 17%. Early analyses indicate that most customers will stick with the Everything Store, though some have started to look for other options.

This creates an opportunity for Walmart. In recent years, Walmart has invested a lot of money in its Amazon Prime competitor, Walmart Plus. For the comparatively low $98 per annum, Walmart+ offers free next-day or same-day delivery. And unlike Amazon it typically follows through on that guarantee, since it has 5,000 brick-and-mortar stores nationwide. Assuming you live fairly close to one of them, it is very easy for Walmart to get you your item in a matter of hours.

For years, the biggest knock on Walmart as an e-commerce site compared to Amazon has been selection. Because Walmart still operates as a retail giant, they rely on buyers to make actual decisions on what to stock on its shelves. Amazon has no such process: Tell them you have something you want to sell, and next thing you know you are selling it to anyone with an internet connection. In building up its e-commerce platform, Walmart has started to adopt a similar strategy. Though it still requires more information from a business in order to feature its products on Walmart.com, it has opened its doors to Chinese sellers, and a product need not be stocked in a physical Walmart location for it to be available online. With its Amazon FBA-like Walmart Fulfillment Services, it is constantly growing its selection and giving customers an array of options that may one day rival the Seattle giant.

As for value, the biggest advantage of Amazon Prime is its streaming service. Walmart does not produce or house content for its W+ members. Prime subscribers get access to Amazon Originals like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Jack Ryan, as well as a packed library of other quality movies and shows. If you watch a lot of television, the difference in prices it made up by this alone.

If not, then you may want to consider Walmart’s big advantage. Walmart+ subscribers get 5 cents off every gallon at Walmart and Murphy gas stations. Especially with the direction gas prices have been heading, this type of savings can really add up! Amazon does not offer a similar promotion.

We want to know your thoughts! Would you consider leaving Amazon Prime for Walmart+? Let us know in the comments!

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Why Does The Snactiv Snacking Utensil Even Exist?

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Over 13 seasons, there have been some truly wild products pitched on Shark Tank. Typically the sharks pass on the most ridiculous ones; but every once in a while, especially when there is a celebrity guest shark, a seemingly inane idea will get funding. This is the only explanation I can think of for the success of Snactiv, which has now landed on the list of Amazon #1 new releases.

Photo via Amazon

SNACTIV – Dark Mode – The Official Snacking Tool of the Future, as seen on Shark Tank! — $15

The Snactiv is the type of product Hollywood screenwriters concoct to poke fun at entrepreneur culture and lazy Americans. It is the quintessential dumb idea, surely generated amidst a haze of pot smoke in a brainstorming session that could only have ended with the exclamation, “We are gonna be rich!” The Snactiv is, more or less, a pair of plastic chopsticks that also happen to be less useful than chopsticks. This novel utensil is not meant to help you consume Chinese delicacies like fried rice or noodles. Instead, you clip it onto your hand with the intended function of grasping one Cheeto at a time.

Here is the elevator pitch from an admittedly funny YouTube video introducing the product: As a future descendent of chopsticks, we’ve created a non-permanent body modification that keeps your hands clean and your focus on the things that actually matter.

I can see two legitimately useful purposes for the Snactiv. The first is as a gag gift—the kind of trinket that may well stuff a stocking and merit a chuckle only to be discarded or regifted soon after. The second is as a sort of weight control method. If you tell yourself you can only snack by means of this ridiculous gadget, then you may as well not eat at all. The number of people who will use this willingly and contentedly is approximately zero.

Tell me I’m wrong. Would you ever be caught dead with one of these things on your hand?

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