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Cook a perfect turkey with the help of the Meater wireless thermometer and your smartphone

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Millions in America will be cooking turkey or ham for the Thanksgiving holiday and a meat thermometer is an essential part of cooking things just right. You don’t want to end up with a dried up turkey like Clark Griswold and one of the Meater wireless thermometers is the perfect accessory to ensure success.

For years I have barbequed meat, but could not guarantee perfection because I always tried multi-tasking while cooking and ended up overcooking the contents on the Weber grill. I’ve always heard that temperature is an essential factor to successful barbeques and after using the original Meater wireless thermometer I enjoyed great steaks, chicken, and burgers all summer long.

Hardware

I started testing the original Meater thermometer before the Meater Plus was released. The Meater Plus is the same as the Meater with the charging case acting as a repeater to extend the Bluetooth range so you can position your phone further away from the cooking source. There is also an upcoming Meater Block product that supports using up to four Meater probes for those of you who are serious about cooking for many people at once.

The Meater smart wireless meat thermometer comes in a simple cardboard package and is composed of two main parts; the Meater probe and the charger. The charger is a block of wood with a slot for the probe, contacts to hold the probe in place and facilitate charging, an LED indicator to show charging and pairing status, and an opening on the back for the single AAA that is used to charge up the Meater. Simply press the button on the front to check the LED light.

There are two magnets on the back so you can attach the Meater charging block to a metal surface for storage, such as in your barbeque cabinet or on your refrigerator.

The Meater probe is constructed of stainless steel with a water resistant design to prevent rusting of components. Bluetooth 4.0 is used for the wireless connection to your smartphone or the repeater (found on the Meater Plus charger).

Make sure to insert the probe into the thickest part of the meat and ensure you insert it all the way down past the safety notch and before the end of the handle. The internal sensor is located about midway between the pointy end and the safety notch.

Smartphone software

There are Meater apps for iOS and Android phones and tablets. I used both over the past couple of months and they have the same experience. You need to remove the Meater probe from the charging station and then pair it with your selected device. This is also when you choose to connect to Meater cloud so you can access the status from other devices when your primary device is connected directly to the Meater probe via Bluetooth.

After pairing your Meater and inserting the probe into your meat, select what you want to cook from the five available options; beef, pork, poultry, lamb, and fish. You can also setup custom cooking if you are not cooking any of these five options.

After you tap the primary category, you then select what type of cut you are cooking. You are presented with a temperature range for different levels of cooking, such as rare up to well done for a steak. Select your desired temperature and then choose to start cooking. Meater will give you an estimated cooking time based on current internal and ambient temperatures.

Various notifications can be setup to alarm at different points during the cooking process or you can visually watch the Meater temperature status right in the app. It is very easy to use and has proven to be accurate with great success in cooking meats.

You can also use a second phone or tablet to connect directly to the Meater probe via Bluetooth and then use your primary phone to connect via WiFi and the cloud to monitor your meat cooking. The upcoming Meater Block will also serve as this second phone/tablet device to extend the range to WiFi.

Meater also works with Amazon Alexa so you can find out all about your cooking process without ever looking at your phone or tablet.

Experiences and conclusions

After installing the application on my smartphone, it was easy to pair the Meater to my phone. I inserted the cold Meater probe into the meat and placed the meat on the barbeque. I then used the app to monitor conditions and then reached over to pull the Meater probe from the finished meat. The end of the Meater probe is metal, used to measure the ambient temperature in the cooking environment, and I burned my fingers. Please use a hot pad or glove to pull the Meater probe from your meat and be careful.

The Meater thermometer is designed to be used on the barbeque, in the oven, and with other cooking sources, but do not use it in the microwave. Microwave ovens do not like metal products and use of Meater is not intended for microwave cooking.

While I first tested the Meater with chicken, over the summer I also used it with steak, hamburgers, and fish. I had much more confidence cooking with the Meater wireless thermometer and the $69 price seems reasonable since you could burn up a few steaks for that price if you just cook by sight.

Meater advertises that you can cook for over 24 hours with a charged up Meater and cook up to 100 times with one AAA battery. I am still using the first AAA battery that came with the unit so the advertised battery times may be accurate.

The maximum internal temperature of the Meater is 212 degrees Fahrenheit and with most meats in the 150 to 170 degree range, it is more than adequate. Actually, if you cook meat to this internal temperature, then it will be dry, tough, and tasteless with no moisture left inside. Undercooked meat freaks out my wife so using the Meater she is much more confident in my abilities. She also uses it for inside cooking and looks forward to using it for the Thanksgiving turkey.

The Meater ambient limit is 527 degrees, which should cover most barbeques and be good for estimating resting temperatures.

It is great to see the use of smartphones and wireless technology in a product such as Meater. My meat cooking has been taken to the next level and I couldn’t be happier with the performance of this wireless thermometer.

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Consumer groups and child development experts petition Facebook to drop ‘Instagram for kids’ plan – TechCrunch

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A coalition of 35 consumer advocacy groups along with 64 experts in child development have co-signed a letter to Facebook asking the company to reconsider its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13, which Facebook has confirmed to be in development. In the letter, the groups and experts argue that social media is linked with several risk factors for younger children and adolescents, related to both their physical health and overall well-being.

The letter was written by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an advocacy group that often leads campaigns against big tech and its targeting of children.

The group stresses how influential social media is on young people’s development, and the dangers such an app could bring:

“A growing body of research demonstrates that excessive use of digital devices and social media is harmful to adolescents. Instagram, in particular, exploits young people’s fear of missing out and desire for peer approval to encourage children and teens to constantly check their devices and share photos with their followers,” it states. “The platform’s relentless focus on appearance, self-presentation, and branding presents challenges to adolescents’ privacy and wellbeing. Younger children are even less developmentally equipped to deal with these challenges, as they are learning to navigate social interactions, friendships, and their inner sense of strengths and challenges during this crucial window of development,” the letter reads.

Citing public health research and other studies, the letter notes that excessive screen time and social media use can contribute to a variety of risks for kids including obesity, lower psychological well-being, decreased quality of sleep, increased risk of depression and suicide ideation, and other issues. Adolescent girls report feeling pressured to post sexualized selfies for attention from their peers, the letter said, and 59% of U.S. teens have reported being bullied in social media, as well.

Another concern the groups have is the use of the Instagram algorithm which could suggest what kids would see and click on next, noting that children are “highly persuadable.”

They also point out that Facebook knows there are already children under 13 who have lied about their age using the Instagram platform, and these users will be unlikely to migrate to what they’ll view as a more “babyish” version of the app than the one they’re already using. That means Facebook is really targeting an even younger age group who don’t yet have an Instagram account with this “kids version.”

Despite the concerns being raised, Instagram’s plans to compete for younger users will not likely be impacted by the outcry. Already, Instagram’s top competitor in social media today — TikTok — has developed an experience for kids under 13. In fact, it was forced to age-gate its app as a result of its settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which had investigated Musical.ly (the app that became TikTok) for violations of the U.S. children’s privacy law COPPA.

Facebook, too, could be in a similar situation where it has to age-gate Instagram in order to properly direct its existing underage users to a COPPA-compliant experience. At the very least, Facebook has grounds to argue that it shouldn’t have to boot the under-13 crowd off its app, since TikTok did not. And the FTC’s fines, even when historic, barely make a dent in tech giants’ revenues.

The advocacy groups’ letter follows a push from Democratic lawmakers, who also this month penned a letter addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to express concerns over Facebook’s ability to protect kids’ privacy and their well-being. Their letter had specifically cited Messenger Kids, which was once found to have a design flaw that let kids chat with unauthorized users. The lawmakers gave Facebook until April 26 to respond to their questions.

Zuckerberg confirmed Facebook’s plans for an Instagram for kids at a Congressional hearing back in March, saying that the company was “early in our thinking” about how the app would work, but noted it would involve some sort of parental oversight and involvement. That’s similar to what Facebook offers today via Messenger Kids and TikTok does via its Family Pairing parental controls.

The market, in other words, is shifting towards acknowledging that kids are already on social media — with or without parents’ permission. As a result, companies are building features and age gates to accommodate that reality. The downside to this plan, of course, is once you legitimize the creation of social apps for the under-13 demographic, companies are given the legal right to hook kids even younger on what are, arguably, risky experiences from a public health standpoint.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood also today launched a petition which others can sign to push Facebook to cancel its plans for an Instagram for kids.

Instagram Letter by TechCrunch on Scribd

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Facebook to test new business discovery features in U.S. News Feed – TechCrunch

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Facebook announced this morning it will begin testing a new experience for discovering businesses in its News Feed in the U.S. When live, users to tap on topics they’re interested in underneath posts and ads in their News Feed in order to explore related content from businesses. The change comes at a time when Facebook has been arguing how Apple’s App Tracking Transparency update will impact its small business customers — a claim many have dismissed as misleading, but nevertheless led some mom and pop shops to express concern about the impacts to their ad targeting capabilities, as a result. This new test is an example of how easily Facebook can tweak its News Feed to build out more data on its users, if needed.

The company suggests users may see the change under posts and ads from businesses selling beauty products, fitness or clothing, among other things.

The idea here is that Facebook would direct users to related businesses through a News Feed feature, when they take a specific action to discover related content. This, in turn, could help Facebook create a new set of data on its users, in terms of which users clicked to see more, and what sort of businesses they engaged with, among other things. Over time, it could turn this feature into an ad unit, if desired, where businesses could pay for higher placement.

“People already discover businesses while scrolling through News Feed, and this will make it easier to discover and consider new businesses they might not have found on their own,” the company noted in a brief announcement.

Facebook didn’t detail its further plans with the test, but said as it learned from how users interacted with the feature, it will expand the experience to more people and businesses.

Image Credits: Facebook

Along with news of the test, Facebook said it will roll out more tools for business owners this month, including the ability to create, publish and schedule Stories to both Facebook and Instagram; make changes and edits to Scheduled Posts; and soon, create and manage Facebook Photos and Albums from Facebook’s Business Suite. It will also soon add the ability to create and save Facebook and Instagram posts as drafts from the Business Suite mobile app.

Related to the businesses updates, Facebook updated features across ad products focused on connecting businesses with customer leads, including Lead Ads, Call Ads, and Click to Messenger Lead Generations.

Facebook earlier this year announced a new Facebook Page experience that gave businesses the ability to engage on the social network with their business profile for things like posting, commenting and liking, and access to their own, dedicated News Feed. And it had removed the Like button in favor of focusing on Followers.

It is not a coincidence that Facebook is touting its tools for small businesses at a time when there’s concern — much of it loudly shouted by Facebook itself — that its platform could be less useful to small business owners in the near future, when ad targeting capabilities becomes less precise as users vote ‘no’ when Facebook’s iOS app asks if it can track them.

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Instagram’s new test lets you choose if you want to hide ‘Likes,’ Facebook test to follow – TechCrunch

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Instagram today will begin a new test around hiding Like counts on users’ posts, following its experiments in this area which first began in 2019. This time, however, Instagram is not enabling or disabling the feature for more users. Instead, it will begin to explore a new option where users get to decide what works best for them — either choosing to see the Like counts on others’ posts, or not. Users will also be able to turn off Like counts on their own posts, if they choose. Facebook additionally confirmed it will begin to test a similar experience on its own social network.

Instagram says tests involving Like counts were deprioritized after Covid-19 hit, as the company focused on other efforts needed to support its community. (Except for that brief period this March where Instagram accidentally hid Likes for more users due to a bug.)

The company says it’s now revisiting the feedback it collected from users during the tests and found a wide range of opinions. Originally, the idea with hiding Like counts was about reducing the anxiety and embarrassment that surrounds posting content on the social network. That is, people would stress over whether their post would receive enough Likes to be deemed “popular.” This problem was particularly difficult for Instagram’s younger users, who care much more about what their peers think — so much so that they would take down posts that didn’t receive “enough” Likes.

In addition, the removal of Likes helped reduce the sort of herd mentality that drives people to like things that are already popular, as opposed to judging the content for themselves.

But during tests, not everyone agreed the removal of Likes was a change for the better. Some people said they still wanted to see Like counts so they could track what was trending and popular. The argument for keeping Likes was more prevalent among the influencer community, where creators used the metric in order to communicate their value to partners, like brands and advertisers. Here, lower engagement rates on posts could directly translate to lower earnings for these creators.

Both arguments for and against Likes have merit, which is why Instagram’s latest test will put the choice back into users’ own hands.

This new test will be enabled for a small percentage of users globally on Instagram, the company says.

If you’ve been opted in, you’ll find a new option to hide the Likes from within the app’s Settings. This will prevent you from seeing Likes on other people’s posts as you scroll through your Instagram Feed. As a creator, you’ll be able to hide Likes on a per-post basis via the three-dot “…” menu at the top. Even if Likes are disabled publicly, creators are still able to view Like counts and other engagements through analytics, just as they did before.

The tests on Facebook, which has also been testing Like count removals for some time, have not yet begun. Facebook tells TechCrunch those will roll out in the weeks ahead.

Making Like counts an choice may initially seem like it could help to address everyone’s needs. But in reality, if the wider influencer community chooses to continue to use Likes as a currency that translates to popularity and job opportunities, then other users will continue to do the same.

Ultimately, communities themselves have to decide what sort of tone they want to set, preferably from the outset — before you’ve attracted millions of users who will be angry when you later try to change course.

There’s also a question as to whether social media users are really hungry for an “Like-free” safer space. For years we’ve seen startups focused on building an “anti-Instagram” of sorts, where they drop one or more Instagram features, like algorithmic feeds, Likes and other engagement mechanisms, such as Minutiae, Vero, Dayflash, Oggl, and now, newcomers like troubled Dispo, or under-the-radar Herd. But Instagram has yet to fail because of an anti-Instagram rival. If anything is a threat, it’s a new type of social network entirely, like TikTok –where it should be noted getting Likes and engagements is still very important for creator success.

Instagram didn’t say how long the new tests would last or if and when the features would roll out more broadly.

“We’re testing this on Instagram to start, but we’re also exploring a similar experience for Facebook. We will learn from this new small test and have more to share soon,” a Facebook company spokesperson said.

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