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The latest news from Life

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    corkcicle $40

    The gift-giving season is upon us.

    Here to help you choose the perfect gifts for everyone on your list, from your coworkers to your dad, or the person you pulled for a White Elephant gift exchange, are the editors and reporters from the Insider Picks team.

    If you need some inspiration for what to get for her this holiday season (whether she's your sister, mom, daughter, wife, or otherwise), we have you covered with some truly excellent gift ideas. Though you can never go wrong with a new leather wallet or festive, holiday-themed beauty gift set, we've also included some more unique gifts, like a custom map poster and a book about everything "Friends" in our list.

    Check out all 64 gifts for her, and happy shopping!

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    SEE ALSO: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

    DON'T MISS: 55 creative and unexpected gifts for her that are all under $50

    A stylish and comfortable pair of shoes

    Allbirds Wool Loungers, available at Allbirds, $95 (9 colors)

    Popular shoe startup Allbirds came out with a new high-top sneaker this month, dubbed the Tree Toppers, but for the uninitiated (and honestly really anyone), the classic Wool Loungers make an excellent gift. 



    The Amazon Echo Spot

    Amazon Echo Spot, available at Amazon, $130 (2 colors)

    The Echo Spot is the perfect addition to her nightstand. Like every other Echo, it uses Alexa to accomplish any number of tasks, from answering questions to reordering supplies on Amazon. In addition Alexa's verbal response about the day's weather forecast, the Echo Spot displays it on its 2.5-inch screen. 



    A reusable bag that comes in dozens of fun prints

    Standard Baggu, available at Baggu, $10 (35 colors)

    You can never have too many reusable bags, especially when they're as cute as the ones Baggu makes. The Standard Baggu is design to hold 50 pounds and folds into a flat 5-inch by 5-inch pouch for easy storage in her purse. 



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    costco wine 8

    • Wines at Costco have a reputation for being high-quality and high-value.
    • Business Insider spoke to Costco Wine Blog founder Andrew Cullen and reviewer Erin Reyes about the warehouse chain's standout selections.
    • They praised a number of Kirkland offerings and mentioned deals that you should keep an eye out for on your next Costco wine run.

    Picking up a few bottles of wine at Costco? Well, Costco Wine Blog founder and editor Andrew Cullen and contributing reviewer Erin Reyes have some ideas about what you should try next at the warehouse chain.

    Business Insider spoke to the pair about a few standout selections within the store's wine section. Both Cullen and Reyes specifically singled out Kirkland-label wines as a major draw. Kirkland is Costco's in-store brand.

    "The selection of Kirkland Signature wines and having access to those is a huge, huge benefit for any Costco member and wine shopper," Cullen said. "You can only get them at Costco. There's been a few Kirkland duds, and we definitely call those out. But I think the Kirkland wines are a really big benefit."

    Read more: 13 tips for getting the best deals on wine at Costco

    Reyes added that the quality of the Kirkland wines are often stellar, saying, "I like that I can't get them anywhere else. That makes them seem special."

    She added that, in order to create those Kirkland Signature wines, Costco will either "buy the juice and rebottle it" or even purchase and re-label already-bottled wine.

    Cullen and Reyes also spoke about a number of special deals on wine offered at Costco, as well as some of their own personal preferences regarding specific wines and varieties of wine.

    Here are their top picks:

    SEE ALSO: 8 mistakes you should avoid when shopping for wine at Costco

    DON'T MISS: Costco is pumping fewer antibiotics into its meat products as it embarks on a $275 million plan to own its chicken supply chain

    SEE ALSO: What happens when you show up at Costco without a membership card, according to employees

    Kirkland Cotes de Provence Rosé

    Cullen said that you've got to be quick if you want to snag a bottle or two of this rosé.

    "People go gangbusters for that because it's like $11.99," he said. "They put it out in the heat of the summertime, and people are just dying for good rosé."



    Kirkland Signature Old Vine Zinfandel

    "The Kirkland Zinfandel is really good," Reyes said. "It's consistently a good value year after year."



    Simi Chardonnay

    You can buy Simi Chardonnay outside of Costco. But, according to Reyes, you'd be pressed to snag a better deal on the wine beyond the warehouse.

    She said that at certain points in the year, the wine sells for $8.99 at Costco.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    cruise ship kitchen

    • Utility galley workers have the most difficult job on a cruise ship, maritime lawyer Michael Guilford told Business Insider.
    • Utility galley workers are responsible for a number of tasks related to food service, including handling heavy trash bags, washing cooking equipment with scalding-hot water, and using dangerous cleaning chemicals without proper protective clothing.
    • Some clients have come to Guilford after being blinded by cleaning chemicals that have splashed into their eyes or having skin burned off their hands, he said.
    • A representative for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), a trade association for the cruise industry, told Business Insider that all member cruise lines must follow regulations set by the International Maritime Organization and International Labour Organization that govern the treatment of cruise ship employees.

     

    There are many difficult jobs on a cruise ship, but the hardest, most physically-demanding position requires working up to 14 hours a day for $500-$700 per month, according to a lawyer who represents cruise ship employees.

    That job belongs to a utility galley worker, maritime lawyer Michael Guilford told Business Insider. Utility galley workers are responsible for a number of tasks related to food service, including handling heavy trash bags, washing cooking equipment with scalding-hot water, and using dangerous cleaning chemicals without proper protective clothing. Some clients have come to Guilford after being blinded by cleaning chemicals that have splashed into their eyes or having skin burned off their hands, he said.

    "This is not your average Mr. Clean that you're using around the house. This is serious stuff."

    Read more: A former cruise-ship waiter describes why the party culture on cruise ships isn't as fun as it seems

    Utility galley workers often work 12-14 hours per day, seven days per week for just $500-$700 per month, Guilford said. In some cases, they're not able to take scheduled breaks, but are later required by their supervisors to change their timesheets to make it appear as if they took the breaks. Guilford said timesheet manipulation is a common issue he hears from clients.

    "The wage fraud that goes on on these boats is unbelievable," he said.

    While the difficulty of the utility galley job exceeds all others on a cruise ship, waiters and room stewards, who clean passenger cabins, also have some of the most difficult jobs, Guilford said. Waiters have to carry heavy trays that can lead to back and shoulder injuries, while room stewards have to clean at a rapid pace, especially before or after passengers board their ship. Sometimes, they'll have to clean as many as 20 cabins in just three hours, Guilford said.

    Each position makes between $1,200-$1,500 per month, Guilford said. While waiters work 10-12 hours per day, room stewards are on call for 24 hours.

    "The conditions are harsh," Guilford said.

    A representative for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), a trade association for the cruise industry, told Business Insider that all member cruise lines must follow regulations set by the International Maritime Organization and International Labour Organization that govern the treatment of cruise ship employees.

    "The cruise industry strives to provide a high-quality work environment for its seafarers by offering ongoing training, career advancement and the opportunity to travel the world," the representative said.

    "The cruise industry also fully supports the International Maritime Labour Convention, also known as the 'Seafarers’ Bill of Rights,' which sets international standards addressing hours of work and rest, health and safety, and living conditions for seafarers and requires governments to ensure ships are in compliance."

    The CLIA's members include Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean International, among others.

    Have you worked on a cruise ship? Do you have a story to share? Email this reporter at mmatousek@businessinsider.com.

    SEE ALSO: The 10 wildest cruise ship stories of 2018

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This Rolls-Royce feature might be the world's fanciest way to tailgate


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    IP gift guide banner

    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    Casper dog bed

    • Don't forget your furry best friend this holiday season!
    • From treats to beds and even activity monitors, this gift guide has something for every pooch.

    When searching for the perfect gifts for your friends, family, and co-workers during the holiday season, make sure not to forget your furry best friend.

    Your dog may not realize it's the holiday season, but most pet owners are happy for an excuse to pamper their pooches. Whether you're looking for a chew toy to keep your dog occupied while everyone else is opening presents, a stylish new leash and collar, or a tracker to keep your pet from getting lost, we've got you covered when it comes to gifts your dog will love.

    Still shopping for more gifts? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.


    SEE ALSO: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

    DON'T MISS: 25 creative and unexpected gifts for 'Star Wars' fans of all ages

    A subscription box full of goodies

    BarkBox subscription, available at BarkBox, starts at $35

    A BarkBox subscription for one, three, six, or 12 months makes a perfect gift for that special dog (or dog owner).



    A tool to improve your fetch game

    Chuckit! Dog Ball Launcher, available at Amazon, $9.92

    The Chuckit! Dog Ball Launcher helps you through a ball farther to give your dog a better workout. It's featured in our guide to the best dog toys.



    A GPS and fitness tracker for your pet

    Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker & Activity Monitor, available at Amazon, $59.94

    This GPS ensures sure your pet will never get lost.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    google miniatur wunderland

    The "Miniatur Wunderland" exhibition, located in Hamburg, Germany, is the world's largest model railway.

    If you've never seen it before, it's one of the cutest, most detailed miniature models you'll ever see in your life.

    To bring new perspective to the massive model railway, Google in 2016 built a miniature version of its Street View car to capture footage within the Miniatur Wunderland with an array of tiny mounted cameras. You can actually see all the various worlds within the Miniatur Wunderland on Google Street View.

    The results are stunning. Take a look:

    SEE ALSO: There's an easy way to make your iPhone screen even dimmer than its lowest brightness setting, and it's perfect for reading at night

    Google worked with mapping software company Ubilabs to capture the sprawling model world.



    The tiny Street View car couldn't actually film anything, which is why Google and Ubilabs built a fleet of mini camera-mounted devices to cruise the streets ...



    ... and railways of Miniatur Wunderland. Keep in mind, this model railway features over 8 miles of track.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    echo dot holiday amazon deal

    Not everyone on your gifting list this year wants or needs an expensive gift, but you'd probably still like to find them something thoughtful regardless. For that tall order, I've rounded up 29 of the best finds on Amazon below — with all the perks of easy, fast shipping and saved payment information.

    These are unique but affordable gifts for the slew of people in your life not waiting for the keys to a new Tesla. They're thoughtful, useful, and may even make life in 2019 easier for your giftee. 

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    A vacuum insulated stainless steel water bottle people swear by

    Hydro Flask 32-Ounce Wide Mouth Bottle, $39.95

    These cult-favorite, vacuum insulated stainless steel water bottles work really well. It'll keep hot drinks hot for up to six hours, and cold drinks cold up to twenty-four hours. 



    A powerful external battery

    Portable 6000 mAh Charger, $29.99

    It's not groundbreaking to give someone a portable charger, but they'll find themselves grateful for it more times than they can count. It's perfect for traveling, commuting, and insurance for long days away from home and on the go. We rated this model by Jackery the best portable charger iPhone users can buy. It reportedly charges iPhones twice as fast as the original iPhone charger.



    A media streamer that can turn a basic TV into a smart one

    Fire TV Stick 4K, Alexa-Enabled Voice Remote, $34.99 (originally $49.99)

    The all-new Fire TV Stick has a new Wi-Fi antenna design optimized for 4K Ultra-HD streaming and more storage for apps and games. Essentially, though, it's still your standard media streaming stick, and can convert a basic TV into a smart one that can stream Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu and more. It's Alexa-enabled, too, so you can control it by voice — turning the volume up on your sound bar and dimming the lights simultaneously. 



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    man relaxing vacation

    • Planning to travel to another country, even for a vacation, takes a lot of work.
    • We compiled the ultimate guide to traveling around the world, which can help you in every step of the vacation-planning process.
    • From applying for visas for your trips and finding an affordable flight to navigating the subway system, these 10 graphics have you covered.


    Planning to travel to another country takes hard work.

    Before you kick off your dream vacation, there's a seemingly endless checklist of things to accomplish, from applying for a visa and finding an affordable flight to figuring out the subway system once you land.

    We feel your pain. That's why we created the ultimate guide to planning a vacation around the world.

    Use these 10 graphics to help you every step of the planning process. They'll save you money, time, and stress.

    SEE ALSO: The most surprising things about America, according to a Silicon Valley engineer who moved from India 7 years ago

    DON'T MISS: I've traveled to 25 countries, and here's my checklist for exactly what to do weeks, days, and hours before an international trip

    Do you have a US passport? There's a difference between a passport book and a passport card.

    For a step-by-step guide on how to apply for a passport, consult the US State Department website.



    Many countries offer visas on arrival for US passport holders, while other countries require you to get one in advance.

    Not every visa is free — check the US State Department's website to see how much a visa will cost and how long the application process takes for your destination.



    Don't wait until the last minute to book your flight. Here's the historically best time to book for the best deals, depending on which region of the world you're visiting.

    For travel to much of the world, you're best off booking more than six months in advance.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    google maps iphone gps

    • Some smartphone apps could be collecting data on your location more than 14,000 times a day, according to a new report in The New York Times.
    • This location data is sometimes anonymized and sold to companies for purposes like targeted advertising, but it is often so exact that The Times was able to use it to track down someone.
    • There's an easy way to limit — or completely turn off — your apps' access to your location data.

    Some smartphone apps can receive data on a user's precise location more than 14,000 times a day, The New York Times found in a new investigation.

    Though each tracked phone is identified by a unique ID rather than a person's name or phone number, the millions of location points collected by the apps are "accurate to within a few yards" and can reveal a person's daily movements "in startling detail," The Times said.

    Using a database that tracks the location data of more than 1 million phones in the New York area, The Times was able to identify a person whose location was being relayed to companies via her smartphone app.

    The Times reported:

    "At least 75 companies receive anonymous, precise location data from apps whose users enable location services to get local news and weather or other information, The Times found. Several of those businesses claim to track up to 200 million mobile devices in the United States — about half those in use last year ...

    "But those with access to the raw data — including employees or clients — could still identify a person without consent. They could follow someone they knew, by pinpointing a phone that regularly spent time at that person's home address. Or, working in reverse, they could attach a name to an anonymous dot, by seeing where the device spent nights and using public records to figure out who lived there."

    Apps will often ask smartphone users to enable location-tracking services for better functionality, like those that provide GPS navigation, weather information, or food recommendations. But The Times said the privacy policies that many people accept without thinking twice were often "incomplete or misleading," adding that companies could use these permissions to sell your location data.

    "These companies sell, use or analyze the data to cater to advertisers, retail outlets and even hedge funds seeking insights into consumer behavior," the Times story said.

    Read more:Google is tracking your movements whether you like it or not, new investigation finds

    But the good news is you do have some control. You can adjust the settings for individual apps to stop them from tracking your location, though turning off location services for some apps may limit their capabilities or render them unworkable.

    The easiest way to turn off location tracking for each app is through your device's privacy settings — here's how to do that:

    If you have an iOS device, location-tracking settings can be found in Settings under "Privacy."



    Next, select "Location Services" ...



    ... where you'll find the location-data permissions for every app on your device.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    meghan markle

    • Google has unveiled its Year in Search for 2018.
    • The annual compilation contains the top worldwide Google searches of the year.
    • This year's list includes several tragic deaths as well as the World Cup.

    As 2018 draws to a close, Google is looking back on the top searches of the year.

    Google narrows down the top-trending searches in the world over the past 12 months, terms that had the highest spike in traffic this year compared with 2017. These are not necessarily the terms that were searched the most often.

    The year has been rife with tragedy — with the high-profile deaths of Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, and several others. But 2018 also brought a royal wedding and an exciting World Cup.

    Here are the top-trending Google searches of 2018:

    SEE ALSO: Google just announced it's shutting down its Allo messaging app for good. Here are 18 other Google products that bombed, died, or disappeared

    10. Kate Spade

    In June, the fashion designer Kate Spade was found dead at 55 in her New York City apartment, apparently of suicide.

    Spade launched her namesake brand in 1993, a year before she married her husband, Andy. Over the following years, the couple ran the business together out of their apartment in New York's Tribeca neighborhood, transforming it into a $27 million business by 1998.

    The couple eventually sold the business to Neiman Marcus in 2006, but their love of handbags didn't end there. Years later, after the birth of their daughter, they made a second foray into fashion, launching Frances Valentine, a handbag-and-shoe company, in 2015.



    9. Stephen Hawking

    In March, Stephen Hawking died at the age of 76.

    The theoretical physicist made several discoveries that transformed the way scientists viewed black holes and the universe. Though he had Lou Gehrig's disease — the neurodegenerative malady also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS — which impaired his motor functions, he went on to become a mathematics professor and eventually the director of research at the University of Cambridge's Center for Theoretical Cosmology.

    Hawking was also known to bridge the gap on complicated subjects by infusing humor and wit during his lectures. His character and personality produced several anecdotes and references in pop culture, including appearances on various TV shows.



    8. XXXTentacion

    In June, the rapper XXXTentacion was shot dead in his car after leaving a motorcycle dealer in South Florida.

    At the time of his death, XXXTentacion — whose real name was Jahseh Onfroy — was awaiting trial for a 2016 domestic-abuse case. He faced charges of aggravated battery of his pregnant girlfriend, domestic battery by strangulation, false imprisonment, and witness tampering.

    Onfroy rose to fame off of his 2016 single "Look at Me!" His debut studio album, "17," reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 album chart and was certified gold in 2017. Onfroy's second studio album, "?," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart in March.

    By August, four suspects accused of killing Onfroy had been taken into custody.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    the bouqs co

    We've all been there — a holiday or event starts creeping closer and closer, your schedule starts getting more chaotic, and suddenly it hits you. "I forgot to find a gift!"

    Whether it just slipped your mind to prepare ahead or time or you received a last-minute invite to an event for which you should probably have a present, we've got you covered. 

    This list proves that last-minute gifts can still be thoughtful and unique — from clever subscriptions to useful gift cards and everything in between (all of which can be e-mailed to the recipient just in time). 

    Check out our picks for last-minute gifts they'll think you pored over:

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    SEE ALSO: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

    DON'T MISS: 22 unique gift ideas for everyone in the family — all from Amazon

    An Amazon Prime membership to make their lives easier

    Amazon Prime membership, $39 for three months or $119 for a year

    The gift of Amazon Prime is always one that'll be met with extreme appreciation given that it is both practical and actually thoughtful. If the recipient already has a membership, the money will convert into a gift card that they can use on anything they want from the site. 



    A Birchbox subscription for beauty and skincare lovers of any gender

    Birchbox subscription, from three months for $30

    There's a reason Birchbox is so popular — it's a super affordable way to find and learn about new beauty, skincare, and grooming products for men or women without the risk of spending too much on full-sized options you might not like. For $30, you'll be able to gift three months worth of boxes right to their door. For a more substantial option, you can gift six months for $60, or 12 months for $110.  



    A box from Fanchest filled with their favorite team's gear

    Fanchest team boxes, starting at $59

    Chances are, if the person you're gifting is a serious fan, they'll love anything you get them with their team's logo emblazoned on it. Fanchest delivers boxes full of licensed memorabilia for NHL, MLB, NBA, NCAA, and NFL teams at a great value, and even has an option for babies. They also offer overnight and two-day shipping. 



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Harry Potter Cookie Baking kit

    It's hard to imagine someone not being a "Harry Potter" fan, save for You-Know-Who himself. But for that one slightly obsessed friend who has a Deathly Hallows tattoo, is a total wiz at "Harry Potter" trivia, and has re-read the books multiple times, the term "fan" probably doesn't even begin to cover it. 

    If they have yet to receive their Hogwarts letter, the next best thing they could get for the holidays might just be one of these gifts. We rounded up something fun for every type of muggle and wizard, from the ones who just love the movies (aka the muggles) to the die-hards who can tell you the answer to what you'd get if you added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood (the wizards). Happy Christmas, everyone!

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    SEE ALSO: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

    DON'T MISS: 27 creative and unexpected gifts for 'Star Wars' fans of all ages

    A set of socks any house elf would love to receive

    Harry Potter Ankle Socks Pack, available from Amazon, $15.95

    I hope you’ll be buying these for every house elf you know. S.P.E.W. thanks you for your generosity.



    An illustrated collection of the "Harry Potter" books to make reading them again feel like a new experience

    Harry Potter The Illustrated Collection (Books 1-3), available from Amazon, $71.99

    Perfect for Potterhead parents, this collection of illustrated books is a child’s perfect introduction to the series. Parents can read aloud while children marvel at the gorgeous illustrations as they too fall in love with images of Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, Buckbeak, and Dobby. But this boxed set isn’t just for kids. It’s the perfect gift for someone who would love to see their beloved universe interpreted in a new way in full color.



    A Hedwig jar for your Honeyduke sweets

    Harry Potter Hedwig Cookie Jar, available at Williams Sonoma, $69.95

    Pay homage to this true hero of the Second Wizarding War by giving her a prominent place in the home in the form of this cookie jar. It’s the least we can do to honor her great sacrifice. And it’s a great place to store the cookies they made with their new Harry Potter cookie cutters.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    bryant park holiday market

    • I visited an iconic New York City holiday market to see if it lived up to the hype.
    • The Bank of America Winter Village is at Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan, a short walk from Times Square.
    • I expected it to be overcrowded with tourists, filled with cheesy souvenir shops, and completely overrated. 
    • But it was actually a lovely NYC holiday experience and I think everyone should visit.

     

    I had low expectations going to the Bryant Park Winter Village, a holiday market in New York City.

    It's in Midtown Manhattan, a short walk from Times Square, and it's on top of five subway lines, so I was sure it would be packed with people.

    The market, which opened on October 27 this year, includes more than 170 holiday pop-up shops, an ice skating rink, and a heated lodge with food and a cocktail bar. There are also various eateries mixed in with the boutiques.

    Read more: Disappointing photos show what iconic New York City attractions really look like during the holidays

    To my surprise, the market was actually far from overcrowded. Even when it got busier as the evening wore on, I could always walk freely and I never felt like I was being surrounded by too many people. The atmosphere was calm yet festive, the shops sold artisanal wares from all over the world rather than just cheap tourist souvenirs, and everybody just genuinely seemed to be having a lovely time.

    Here's what the market is actually like, and why I suggest any New York City local or visitor should give it a visit.

    SEE ALSO: I went to a Veuve Clicquot holiday pop-up where you can drink $16 cocktails inside a rooftop 'snow globe,' and it seemed to be 100% made for Instagram

    DON'T MISS: A private jet company is letting rich people celebrate New Year's Eve twice by flying them around the world in a Gulfstream G550 for $250,000

    Bryant Park is in Midtown Manhattan, a short walk from Times Square.



    I got there a little after 4 p.m. on a weekday in mid-December, just as it was starting to get dark.



    The sidewalks surrounding the park were busy with wandering tourists and with locals leaving work. You can access five subway lines at the park, so the area always gets busy around rush hour.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Zodiac_collection_tile

    For couples, the holidays are a particularly great gifting opportunity. You know what your partner loves, what small daily annoyances you can solve with a thoughtful gift, and how much they'll appreciate knowing the gesture came from you.

    Odds are you want to give them something wonderful — whatever your price range is. All you need is a little direction, and a few great options to choose from. Most of these have expedited shipping options so you can still get them in time for the holidays.

    Below, you'll find 36 of the best gifts to give your girlfriend this year.

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    SEE ALSO: 50 awesome gifts from Nordstrom — from $10 coasters to a $695 smartwatch

    DON'T MISS: 55 creative and unexpected gifts for her that are all under $50

    A customized map of her favorite place

    Custom Map Poster, available on Grafomap, from $49

    Grafomap lets you design custom maps of anywhere in the world — like the first place you met, the best trip you ever took together, or the hometown she couldn't wait to show you. It's unique, thoughtful, and pretty inexpensive.  You can find the full Insider Picks review here.



    A monogrammed jewelry case from an up-and-coming leather startup

    Leather Jewelry Case, available on Cuyana, $115 (+ $15 for monogram)

    Keeping track of expensive, often tiny and delicate jewelry is difficult — and jewelry cases are a pretty and useful solution. Especially if you've gotten her jewelry in the past, or plan to in the future, this is a thoughtful (and personalized) gift. It's made from premium leather, comes in six colors, and can be monogrammed with her initials. Cuyana is also a cool leather bag startup she may have already heard of. 



    A beautiful diamond necklace she'll have forever

    Diamond Bezel Necklace, available on AUrate, $320

    A diamond necklace doesn't have to be thousands of dollars, as fine jewelry startups like AUrate are proving. This necklace is something she can keep and wear forever, and both the solid gold and conflict-free diamonds are of the highest quality. 



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    WatchTime NYC 2018

    • WatchTime New York is the biggest luxurywatch show in NYC.
    • It features exhibits by many of the biggest and most respected names in the luxury watch business, including Bovet, Montblanc, MB&F, and Breguet.
    • I know very little (read: almost nothing) about watches, but I decided to check it out.

    I'll preface this by saying I know very little about watches. I have a $100 Skagen that I've been wearing every day since I got it for Christmas two years ago and that, aside from some waterproof stopwatches I wore as a teenager, is the extent of my watch ownership.

    But, as the executive life editor for Busines Insider, I'm fascinated by the endless trappings of luxury, even the ones on our wrists, so I decided to check out WatchTime New York, NYC's biggest luxury watch show.

    The late October show is a two-day event in midtown Manhattan. This was its fourth year running, and it was co-hosted by watch publication WatchTime and luxury blog and Instagram account Watch Anish.

    It's a testament to the buzzy energy at the show, and to the attentiveness of the PR team that was showing me around, that I didn't feel completely lost.

    Here's what it's like inside NYC's biggest luxury watch show.

    WatchTime New York is a two-day event. It's the biggest luxury watch show in NYC, and for the fourth year running, it was held in Gotham Hall, a couple of blocks from Bryant Park in midtown.



    I showed up for the event after work at around 7 p.m. on Friday, by which point the show had already been running for about two hours.



    I wasn't sure what the attire was, so I wore black jeans and a black turtleneck, thinking I couldn't go wrong. A doorman let me into the building, where I was able to check my coat and backpack.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    fitbit versa

    A recent Hilton Honors study discovered that 50% of all shoppers wait until the last month before the holidays to get their gifting done, while an even more surprising 40% wait until the last week.

    If you're a member of that 40%, don't lose hope — you can still get all of your holiday shopping done without giving up your procrastinating ways. And maybe even save a little money in the process. 

    You can see our complete gift guide coverage here, but one of the standout holiday tech deals running right now is on the Fitbit Versa smartwatch

    Usually priced at $200, it's currently on sale for $149— that's $51 off.

    If you haven't heard of it the Versa is this year's breakout gadget, essentially combining Fitbit's popular and well-developed fitness-tracking capabilities with functions you'd normally find in a fully-featured smartwatch like an Apple Watch. In fact, Business Insider's Brandt Ranj compared the two devices, and found the Versa held up favorably compared to the Apple Watch.

    Although the Versa has less-extensive compatibility with third-party apps, its significantly lower price tipped the scales heavily in Brandt's comparison. According to our guide to the best Fitbit devices, it's an ideal choice over the Apple Watch — as long as you "want a fitness tracker first and a smartwatch second," while it still executes its smartwatch prowess efficiently and elegantly.

    Thanks to a recent FitbitOS software update, you can now view your sleep, weight, water, and food stats right on the smartwatch, and quick-log your weight and water intake. The Versa can also provide real-time updates during your workouts so you can "stay on task, accountable, and motivated."

    At its current sale price, the Fitbit Versa is a fantastic last-minute gift idea.

    Fitbit Versa Smart Watch, $149, available at Amazon

    SEE ALSO: 21 last-minute holiday gifts that are still thoughtful and unique

    DON'T MISS: 29 clever gifts from Amazon that work for everyone on your list — all under $50

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Head sommelier for Eleven Madison Park Jonathan Ross suggests some gifts for all of the wine lovers in your life. And no, it's not wine. 

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This video was originally published on November 25, 2016. 

     

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    hacker cyber code

    • A pair of new reports released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday revealed new details about Russia's ongoing and pervasive influence operations across social-media platforms.
    • One report found that Russia continues to have "active and ongoing interference operations" on several platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
    • It also found that executives at Facebook, which owns Instagram, "avoided mentioning" the extent of the Internet Research Agency's (IRA) use of Instagram in congressional testimony.
    • The second report found that the IRA's interference operations didn't cease once it was caught. On the contrary, the report said, engagement rates increased and covered a "widening range of public policy issues, national security issues, and issues pertinent to younger voters."

    The Russian government’s disinformation campaign ahead of the 2016 presidential election was far more sophisticated than previously known and made use of nearly every major social-media platform to spread misinformation, according to two new reports released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday.

    Each of the reports was compiled by third-party researchers. The first, produced by the cybersecurity firm New Knowledge, analyzed the impact that social-media companies had on the election.

    Here are the report's key takeaways:

    • Russia has "active and ongoing interference operations" that "remain on several platforms."
    • The Russians specifically targeted the African-American community with the goal of "developing black audiences" and "recruiting black Americans as assets."
    • The Russians used an array of tactics to suppress Democratic voter turnout.
      • Russia-linked accounts used Twitter to spread misinformation about voting rules.
      • They tried to sway voter opinion in favor of third-party candidates.
      • They urged voters to stay home on Election Day by pushing messages like, "Your vote doesn't matter."
    • The Internet Research Agency (IRA) — a notorious Russian troll farm indicted by the special counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year — used Instagram as a "significant front" for its operation.
    • The IRA demonstrated a "very clear bias" in favor of then candidate Donald Trump beginning during the primaries.
    • "A substantial portion" of the IRA's political content was focused on provoking an anti-Hillary Clinton sentiment.
    • There was no pro-Clinton Russian content on either Facebook or Instagram. While there was some pro-Clinton content on Twitter, Russia-linked accounts that leaned left were still largely anti-Clinton and pushed messaging favoring Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein.
    • The IRA shifted more of its focus to Instagram in 2017, as the media began covering Russian activity on Facebook and Twitter.
    • Executives at Facebook, which owns Instagram, "avoided mentioning" the extent of the IRA's use of Instagram in congressional testimony.
    • Russia-linked accounts had 187 million engagements across Instagram and reached approximately 20 million users, not including "regrams," or posts that users repost using an outside sharing app.
    • They had 76.5 million engagements on Facebook that reached an estimated 126 million people.
    • Russia-linked content had more engagement on Instagram because it was more conducive to "meme warfare," a key facet of Russia's influence operation.
    • The IRA pushed secessionist movements in states like Texas and California to "exacerbate discord against the government at federal, state, and local levels."
    • The troll farm made efforts to either increase or erode support for prominent political figures, including Mueller, late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and former FBI director James Comey.

    Clinton russia

    Engagement rates for Russia-linked content spiked after the election

    The second report was compiled by the University of Oxford and Graphika. According to The Washington Post, which obtained a draft of the report Sunday, the Oxford report is the first to study the millions of posts provided by major tech firms to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    The report found that the IRA worked to polarize the US public using a variety of tactics. They included urging African-American voters to sit out the election and disseminating false or misleading voting information to groups that tend to vote Democratic, like Mexican-American and Hispanic voters.

    The IRA also encouraged "extreme right-wing voters to be confrontational," the report said. It also spread sensationalist, conspiratorial, and misleading news across the political spectrum.

    These efforts didn’t stop once the IRA was caught. On the contrary, the report said, engagement rates increased and covered a "widening range of public policy issues, national security issues, and issues pertinent to younger voters."

    The report had several other key takeaways:

    • Between 2013 and 2018the IRA’s influence operations across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram reached "tens of millions" of users in the US.
    • Between 2015 and 2017, over 30 million users shared the IRA’s content on Facebook and Twitter.
    • The IRA’s ad volume on Facebook peaked in April 2017, coinciding with the Trump-ordered missile strike on a Syrian air base, the US’ use of the Mother of all Bombs on tunnels controlled by the Islamic State in Afghanistan, and the Republicans’ release of a tax-reform plan.
    • Following the 2016 election, Instagram saw the greatest spike in IRA activity.
    • The IRA began its disinformation campaign on Twitter but later expanded to Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube as the 2016 election grew nearer.
    • Russian social-media activity peaked — in both advertisements and organic posts — around important dates in the US political sphere.

    SEE ALSO: Russia's disinformation campaign on Facebook could have been more widespread than we knew

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Anthony Scaramucci claims Trump isn't a nationalist: 'He likes saying that because it irks these intellectual elitists'


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    TheInsider Picksteam writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    Since you don't have all day to scour the web for noteworthy sales and discounts, we rounded up the best bargains for you to shop in one convenient place.

    UGG

    1.Save up to 30% on UGG shoes, apparel, and accessories at Nordstrom Rack

    With everything from fuzzy sheepskin boots and slippers to rugged hikers and all-weather boots, UGG is one of the best footwear brands for the winter. Right now, you can save up to 30% on select UGG products at Nordstrom Rack. In addition to shoes, the sale includes apparel and accessories.

    Shop the UGG sale at Nordstrom Rack now.

    Adidas

    2. Save up to $100 on your order at Adidas

    Adidas has great items on sale all the time, but with its current sale, the more you buy, the more you'll save. Right now, you can save $20 off orders of $100, $50 off orders of $175, and $100 off orders of $300 when you use the promo code "SAVEMORE" at checkout. The discount applies to new arrivals and sale styles with select exclusions.

    Shop the Adidas sale now.

    5739303_rd

    3.Save $135 on Sony Extra Bass Noise-Cancelling Headphones at Best Buy

    As the holiday season quickly approaches, Best Buy is having 20 Days of Doorbusters with sales on great items every day. Today, one of the best deals you can get is on a Sony Extra Bass Noise-Cancelling Headphones. Originally priced at $249.99, you can save $135 on a pair at Best Buy.

    Sony Extra Bass Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones, $114.99 (Originally $249.99) [You save $135]

    919z00a6aAL._SL1500_

    4. Save up to 49% on Hamilton Beach kitchen appliances

    If you want a kitchen that's well equipped, you're going to need more than just a few pots and pans. One of the leading companies in making affordable kitchen appliances is Hamilton Beach, and today, an assortment of its top products are on sale. As an Amazon Deal of the Day, you can save up to 49% on a selection of Hamilton Beach appliances including an air fryer, blender, coffee maker, and more. 

    Shop Hamilton Beach kitchen appliances on Amazon now.

    Groupon

    5.Save an extra 25% on Groupon

    Gifting an experience during the holidays instead of material items sometimes makes for a more meaningful expression. It's memorable and fun, and something you may even get to enjoy together once the holidays are over. Groupon has a huge selection of giftable experiences to choose from, and today you can save an extra 25% on Groupons by using the promo code "FRIENDS" at checkout. From aquariums and spas to restaurants and sporting events, there's something for everyone.

    Shop all deals on Groupon now.

    IHG

    6. Save at least 20% on IHG Hotel stays

    Until January 7, you can save at least 20% on IHG Hotels booked through March 31, 2019. Whether you're traveling by yourself or giving the gift of adventure, this sale is perfect for anybody looking to get away this winter.

    Shop the IHG Annual sale now.

    AHAlife

    7. Save 20% on all orders of $100 or more at AHAlife

    Unlike traditional department stores, AHAlife is home to products from some of the most unique designers and artisans across the world. The site features a wide array of beautiful items that make for truly special gifts, from kitchen accessories to jewelry. Use the promo code "GIFT25" at checkout to save 25% and receive free shipping.

    Shop all items at AHALife now.

    51MMOVbBfaL._SL1000_

    8. Save $69.99 on an Echo Dot and Ring Video Doorbell 2 Bundle on Amazon

    When paired together, the Amazon Echo Dot and Ring Video Doorbell 2 are the perfect combination to make your smart home safe and secure. The Dot lights up to let you know someone's at your door and it enables two-way audio so you can communicate with them. When you're not at home, you can stream the video feed from your Ring doorbell on your phone, tablet, or computer. The two devices can be had as a bundle for $169 — a $69.99 savings.

    Echo Dot and Ring Video Doorbell 2 Bundle, $169 (Originally $238.99) [You save $69.99]

    Leesa sleep

    9.Save $150 on the Leesa mattress and get a free pillow

    The Leesa Mattress is designed to use pocket springs and high-performance foams to help you sleep better. Leesa's mattresses are always a great value, but the startup is offering $150 off mattresses and a free pillow (a $75 value) for the holiday season. The offer ends soon, so you'll want to take advantage of it now. If buying a mattress online concerns you, know that you can try it out for 100 nights free of risk. If it's not the best sleep you've ever had, you can return it hassle-free.

    Shop the Leesa sale now.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Robb Vices

    • Robb Vices is a luxury box subscription that comes full of fun, quirky, premium surprises each month.
    • Three-, six-, and 12-month plans are available, as well as individual months.
    • If you order on Monday, December 17, the first box will arrive in time for Christmas, making this a perfect, thoughtful last-minute Christmas gift.
    • Robb Vices is offering an exclusive discount for Business Insider readers. Use promo code INSIDER at checkout, and you'll save $100 on a three-, six-, or 12-month subscription. Plus, you'll get a free $25 gift card for Vices Reserve, a members-only store with extras and limited-edition goodies.

    Christmas is almost here, and we're almost out of time to find the perfect gift. Fortunately, one of our favorite gift ideas is guaranteeing delivery in time for the holiday.

    Robb Vices is a luxury box subscription service that delivers a box full of premium-oriented, high-end goods, generally with a loose theme tying the products together. Themes tend to be vague, like "a perfect moment," a "survival kit," or simply "retro." Boxes included things like cigars, a turntable, cheese, a smartphone projector, and a bottle of wine.

    Robb Vices offers three-, six-, and 12-month plans. While the subscriptions make a fun gift that keeps giving past the holidays, there's also a month-to-month option so that you can just buy one or two months as a holiday gift. Prices range from $84.95-$99.95 per box, with the price per box being lower when you subscribe to a longer plan. Generally, the value of the items in each box exceeds the price you've paid, which means you're getting a great deal on the fun luxury items.

    Right now, Business Insider readers can get access to a special deal. Use promo code INSIDER at checkout, and you'll save $100 on a three-, six-, or 12-month subscription. Plus, you'll get a free $25 gift card for Vices Reserve, a members-only store with extras and limited edition goodies. 

    Plus, when you order now, the first box will be delivered in time for Christmas.

    A Robb Vices box subscription is a great way to treat yourself to a fun surprise delivered right to your door, or a perfect gift for a friend or loved one. You're guaranteed to get more value from the box then you spend, and with cool, quirky, and interesting items, you'll have fun seeing what's coming that month.

    Click here to learn more about Robb Vices Luxury boxes, plus save $100 on a 3-, 6-, or 12-month plan when you use the code INSIDER at checkout, and get a free $25 gift card for Vices Reserve.

    SEE ALSO: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

    DON'T MISS: 21 last-minute holiday gifts that are still thoughtful and unique

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    • Aestheticians and facialists frequently rely on facial steaming to remove toxins from the skin.
    • At-home facial steamers like the $30 ECVISION Nano Ionic Warm Mist Facial Steamer I bought from Amazon make it easy to utilize the technique on your own.
    • Steam softens the skin and opens the pores, releasing the built-up bacteria, sebum, and impurities that often lead to blackheads and whiteheads. Facial steaming also boosts circulation to give you a natural glow, and adds much-needed hydration to dry winter skin.
    • These at-home steamers run on filtered water, making them an easy addition to any skincare routine, even for those with sensitive skin.

    As a sensitive-skinned beauty editor, I sometimes feel like I'm leading a double life.

    It's my job to stay on top of the latest skin-care products, buzzy ingredients, and at-home tools, but I can't actually use many of them myself. I long to take a mini microdermabrasion machine to a few lingering acne scars, or at least try the LED light therapy masks taking over Instagram. My reactive skin requires a gentler approach, though. To avoid irritation and unnecessary breakouts, I rely on a handful of simple, natural ingredients… like, really simple. Water, pure jojoba oil, and the occasional application of aloe vera kind of simple.

    I had all but accepted a life devoid of trendy skin-care devices when I came across something called a facial steamer: A gadget not unlike a clothing steamer; except instead of releasing wrinkles from fabric, it releases gunk from pores. And considering the fact that facial steamers utilize a single ingredient — water — the tool seemed safe enough to test on even the most delicate skin (i.e., mine).

    If you've ever had a facial before, you've likely experienced the benefits of a good steam.

    "Steaming the face softens the pores, helps enhance the penetration of products, and increases circulation in the skin," Sharon Holtz, the spa director at Terranea Resort in Southern California, tells Business Insider. Aestheticians usually begin each facial treatment with a professional-grade steamer, thereby guiding dirt and impurities out of the pores and prepping the skin for product application.

    But who says you need to shell out for a fancy facial to experience the #postfacialglow that comes from steaming?

    I scooped up the ECVISION Nano Ionic Warm Mist Facial Steamer for $30 on Amazon, and it's quickly become my favorite skin-care must-have for a couple of reasons.

    For one, it's incredibly easy to use. The back of the device features a removable water cartridge that you fill with filtered water (that's important — you don't want to treat your pores with any of the bacteria or minerals found in tap water) and pop back in place. It takes less than a minute for the water to get steamy, at which point you simply hold the tool about six inches away from your face and allow the steam to do its job. A full cartridge typically lasts for 10 minutes or so.

    The second reason I'll never give up my at-home skin saunas? I swear my blackheads and whiteheads are almost non-existent after two months of consistent use. That might sound like an exaggeration considering there are no acne-fighting ingredients or cutting-edge creams involved here, but facial steaming proves that a little bit of water goes a long way.

    As Holtz says, steaming softens the skin — and this seemingly small action sets off a chain of skin-saving events. As the skin softens, pores open and loosen their grip on any substances that may be "clogging" them, like excess sebum, dirt, and bacteria. These impurities are then gently released from the skin.

    At the same time, steaming provides hydration to dry skin while heat dilates the blood vessels in the face, aiding in circulation and oxygenation. With fresh oxygen and nutrients flowing through these blood vessels, the face appears fresh and glowing.

    Finally, steam moistens the skin, transforming it into the perfect canvas for product application. Since skin cells are more permeable when they're damp, your favorite serum or moisturizer will penetrate more deeply when applied directly after a steam session and thus, deliver better results.

    I'll let you in on my dirty little steaming secret, too: It's the perfect first step for safely popping a pimple. I know, I know— you're never supposed to pop a pimple! But we all do it at some point, right? All I'm saying is that if you do your popping after a steaming session, it's so much easier: Whatever is clogging your pores is drawn closer to the surface of the skin, and your pores are primed to release it quickly and painlessly.

    All of that being said, steaming does have its risks.

    "It is very important not to overdo it," Holtz says. Holding the steam too close to your face or steaming too often can aggravate sensitive skin, and even lead to burns or flare ups of rosacea and eczema. “You would not want to do it too often, perhaps once or twice a week,” the aesthetician recommends.

    Holtz suggests making an at-home spa day out of it by following your facial steaming with a clarifying or hydrating face mask. The result? The kind of fresh, clear skin and next-level radiance previously only found in your aesthetician's office — all thanks to a $30 Amazon find and plain old water.

    Buy the ECVISION Nano Ionic Warm Mist Facial Steamer for $30.99

    SEE ALSO: I'm using this unexpected pantry item to wash my face — and my skin has never looked better

    Join the conversation about this story »


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