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Worth Thinking About

The Adventures of Life

Month: August 2022 (page 1 of 8)

Owlet Dream Duo Cam 2 should be used with caution

video monitor and owlet sock on its charger

As the mom of an 8-month-old son, it’s hard to imagine getting anything done without the assistance of a video baby monitor. The ability to watch him while he’s sleeping (or supposed to be) is as sweet as it is practical, and I find myself compulsively checking on him the way I used to with email or Instagram.

In addition to the Google Nest Cam I used during his first few weeks of life, I’ve tested three other video monitors so far: the Nanit Pro, the Motorola PIP1510 Connect, and — the focus of this review — the Owlet Dream Duo with Cam 2. (A few more are waiting in the wings, including the Babysense Split Screen and the Infant Optics DXR-8 PRO.)

The Owlet Dream Duo with Cam 2 actually spans two baby gear categories: video monitors and wearables. The $439 bundle combines the second-generation Owlet Cam with the Dream Sock, and has been on my radar ever since my baby registry research led me to the innovative sock that tracks a sleeping baby’s vital signs.

Owlet Cam 2


The Dream Duo includes one box for the Cam 2 and another for the Dream Sock. Along with the camera, the first box contains a magnetic base and a wall mounting kit that includes 21 cable guards. Whether you attach it to a wall or position it on a flat surface, as I did, the installation instructions recommend placing the camera and all cables 36 inches away from the edge of the crib. It took me less than a minute to nestle the camera onto the magnetic base, set the unit on a shelf above the crib, and adjust the camera angle so the crib was centered. 

The wall mount option is much more involved, with a nine-step setup process that includes taking two measurements, assembling all of the cable guards, and procuring a small Phillips-head screwdriver (not included). It would make sense to go this route if you were committed to this camera and knew exactly where you wanted it to go.


The pairing part of the setup did not go as smoothly. Following the prompts in the Owlet Dream app, I plugged the camera in, waited for the light on the front to blink red and blue, and connected to my WiFi, all without issue. (*Note that you must be connected to 2.4GHz WiFi; 5GHz is not compatible.)

But at the pairing step, which entails using the camera to scan a QR code in the app, the process became unnecessarily complicated. Instructions said to “position your phone and app nearly 8 to 10 inches apart, hold steady, and then slowly start to bring them together,” so I did. But nothing happened for about two minutes. I clicked the troubleshooting link, made sure I was doing everything right, and tried again. And again, nothing. Finally, on my third pairing attempt, I heard the chime that indicated success. The actual pairing part that followed took a few minutes, after which the camera was finally visible in the app and ready to use.


As far as the security and privacy of the Cam 2 — a topic of utmost concern for many parents — the company is frustratingly vague. All I could find on the website and packaging materials was a reference to “a secure, encrypted WiFi connection.” (The help center offers slightly more about the Cam 1, reporting, “Owlet passes appropriate security standards to make sure that your video is safe. All user data stored in the app is only accessible to users logged in to the app with their phone unlocked.”)

To mitigate the risks inherent in this and other baby video monitors, PCMag recommends you “diligently keep its firmware updated, along with your router’s firmware and security features.”

Video quality

It’s hard to know what a camera with 1080p HD video and night vision, plus a 130-degree wide-angle lens and 4x zoom, means until you put it to the test. When I was first setting up the Cam 2, I was jazzed about the video quality. Looking down at the empty crib, every detail in the sheets appeared with impressive color and clarity, and I had high hopes for the real videos to come.

But when I started using the camera for real, the video quality decreased. For some reason, my son always appears grainy, even though the sheets continue looking clear. The quality is by no means so bad that I can’t see what he’s up to, but it doesn’t make for the greatest viewing experience, either. Odds are this has more to do with the transmission over WiFi than the capability of the camera itself. 

Owlet Dream App

As mentioned above, the Cam 2 is WiFi-enabled, which means you can watch your baby from the Owlet Dream app whenever you want, wherever you are. Unfortunately, the app can be slow, often taking a few seconds to load the nursery stream and consistently recording spotty videos whenever motion or sound is detected.

That aside, the app is simple in design and easy to use, with helpful prompts for the setup process and all the basic features you’d expect in a video monitor app: a livestream of the nursery, temperature and humidity readings, microphone access, and audio control (on, off, or background, which keeps playing over other apps and when your phone is locked). That background option is clutch, and — as with the Nanit Pro — somewhat makes up for the fact that the camera does not come with a parent unit.


From the app, you have the ability to control which sound and motion notifications, if any, you want to receive. In addition to opting in or out of notifications — which you can do individually for cry detection, sound detection, motion detection, and room comfort — you can adjust the sensitivity level and time between notifications. You can also opt in on 30-second video recordings of each sound and motion detection, though the videos that result often come out too spotty to be useful.

While I’m typically a notification minimalist (nothing but texts and calls on my iPhone), I briefly turned on my Owlet notifications to get a feel for them, leaving all of the settings on default: medium sensitivity, five minutes between notifications. It took all of 15 minutes to feel overwhelmed by the number of notifications I was receiving, some of which were potentially useful (my son crying or waking up), but most of which were not (me talking to him while changing his diaper or my husband getting him out of his crib). Within a couple of hours, I turned the notifications off for good, preferring my lower tech but less disruptive method of listening for signs that my son needs attention. No pings needed.

Dream Sock

The camera and app may not be newsworthy, but Owlet does offer one key differentiator among baby monitors: the Dream Sock, a soft piece of fabric that wraps around your baby’s foot with Velcro and uses a sensor to measure metrics such as heart rate, oxygen level, and movement. It’s intended as a baby-friendly sleep tracker that’s in the form of a sock rather than a watch or ring, and accommodates babies up to 18 months old who weigh between 5 and 30 pounds.


The Dream Sock setup process was quick and painless, as the app walked me through each step with prompts and video clips. After selecting the “Owlet” network in my phone’s WiFi settings and ensuring that the WiFi light on the back of the base station was on, I pressed the top of the base station until I heard two beeps that indicated pairing success.

The strapping-on process was smooth as well. Of the four included socks, I chose the size 2 left one to start with. (Size 1 socks fit babies weighing less than 12 pounds, while size 2 socks are for babies between 12 and 30 pounds. Owlet recommends switching between left and right socks every week or so to avoid skin irritation.) I slid the sensor into its designated place in the sock, wrapped the sock around my son’s left foot as demonstrated in the app, and confirmed that the base station was pulsing green to indicate that the sock was on and vitals were being checked. While my son’s flailing limbs sometimes made it difficult to strap the sock on, once it was on, he didn’t seem to mind it.

Sleep quality indicators

When a baby sleeps with the sock on, the app offers four “sleep quality indicators” that you don’t get from the camera alone: heart rate (real-time), oxygen average (updated every 10 minutes), movement (such as “still” or “wiggling”), and wakings (number of times the status changes from asleep to awake to asleep). It also shows where your baby is on a peaceful-to-active gauge and how his sleep quality changes over the course of the sleep. Afterwards, the app provides a summary that includes total sleep, start time, end time, and sleep quality, plus graphs depicting heart rate, noise, room temperature, and humidity.

In the app, you can see video of your baby and their sleep quality metrics.
screenshot of app with video of baby sleeping in a crib

Credit: Screenshot: Owlet app

app screenshot of sleep tracking metrics

Credit: Screenshot: Owlet app

Those metrics are appealing to new parents like me, but their validity and utility deserve a deeper look. Unfortunately, as with the Cam 2, the company is less than transparent about its Dream Sock technology. The website reveals nothing about the algorithm it uses for the sleep quality indicators, nor about their accuracy or reliability. When I reached out to a representative for more information, this was the crux of the response: “Extensive analysis and data science goes into [the Dream Duo and Owlet’s proprietary multi-factor algorithm], which involves evaluating tens of thousands of hours of infant sleep from Owlet’s database.”

From the company’s privacy policy, we can assume that the information they collect from Dream Sock users plays a role. But how big, and with what else? Given the weight that parents attribute to their babies’ vitals — and the anxiety that ensues when something is or seems amiss — the lack of information Owlet offers is concerning.

My baby, for one, is not shy about letting me know when he’s in need of sleep. No devices needed.

Even if the vitals reported by the Dream Sock are accurate — and at least one Journal of the American Medical Association study found they are not — some experts suggest that “there are no medical indications for monitoring healthy infants at home.” 

The Dream Sock is not a medical device, and there is no evidence that it or similar devices can prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). 

Predictive sleep technology

In addition to the sleep quality indicators, Owlet is amplifying its new predictive sleep technology. In theory, it’s a smart idea: The Dream Sock automatically tracks your baby’s sleep and wake windows (or you can input them manually if you don’t use the sock), and then, accounting for the length of his last sleep section and his age, the app reveals his “ideal sleep windows” and lets you know when they’re approaching.

In practice, I didn’t take advantage of that feature. For one, for the predictions to be highly accurate, I’d either have to put the sock on my son for every sleep or manually input his snoozes after the fact, neither of which I’m likely to do. But more importantly, actual sleep cues (yawning, rubbing eyes, getting cranky, and such) will almost always be more accurate than any algorithm’s prediction. And now that we’re in a decent routine, I don’t need an app to tell me when it’s time to put him down.

Is the Owlet Cam 2 worth it?

On its own, the Owlet Cam 2, which costs $159 if not purchased in a bundle, doesn’t have a leg up on the other baby monitors I’ve tried so far (Google Nest Cam, Nanit Pro, and Motorola PIP1510 Connect). Like most of its competitors, it features encrypted WiFi connectivity, HD video and night vision, temperature and humidity detection, two-way audio, motion and sound detection, and a companion app that livestreams the nursery.

Where Owlet ostensibly hooks many parents is with its heart rate- and oxygen-tracking Dream Sock, theoretically offering more peace of mind than they’d get from the camera alone. But until there’s robust, public (and ideally peer-reviewed) data confirming the device’s effectiveness, it’s nearly impossible to put much credence in these claims, especially when the study that is available does not recommend its use. Owlet offers scant information about how it measures the sleep quality indicators it reports, and independent research so far does not support the validity of those metrics or the usefulness of routine at-home vital sign monitoring of infants without a medical reason.

I’m optimistic that Owlet (or a competitor) will eventually do what it set out to do. But until there’s more transparency and research to go off of, I’ll be reluctant to recommend that other parents buy the Owlet Dream Duo with Cam 2 over a competitor.


Newt Gingrich: These candidates have a history of reckless rhetoric

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich explained why the Democratic Senate candidates in Georgia and Pennsylvania have no business being in politics Tuesday on “Hannity.” 

NEWT GINGRICH: He [Warnock] is far too radical for Georgia, he should have been defeated two years ago and as people get to know his record and get to realize how much he’s a racist, how much he’s hostile to America, how much he’s tied in to Joe Biden, I think all these things come to bear and you’ll have a tough next couple months. Food prices are going to go back up, electricity prices, 20 million American families now are behind in paying their electric bills because electricity prices are going up. You have the murder rate in Atlanta… Atlanta actually according to Channel 11 has a higher per capita crime rate than Chicago, so I think all the different factors… 


On the other hand you have Herschel Walker, somebody who in most of Georgia is seen as a heroic figure, not just as a remarkable person for his athletic ability but as somebody who has been in over 400 military bases talking to young men and women about PTSD and about coping with real problems. Somebody who has created a business and jobs and somebody who I think is a sincere, genuine, down-home conservative, the contrast couldn’t be wider than between walker and Raphael Warnock.




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‘Wordle’ today: Here’s the answer, hints for August 30

Woman plays Wordle on her smartphone from the living room of her home

*WOOP WOOP* That’s the sound of a new Wordle! (Also the police.) But if the only sound your brain is making today is “uhhhhhhh” our daily Wordle hints and tips are here to help.

The answer to the August 30 Wordle, puzzle #437, can be found at the end of this article. Before you get there, though, there are a couple of subtle clues to help you narrow it down, and as you scroll down, you’ll see we’ve gathered a selection of the best tips and strategies from our previous reporting to help you every day.

Where did Wordle come from?

Former Reddit engineer Josh Wardle came up with the game in 2021 as a bit of fun for him and his word game-loving partner. It eventually became a staple of their family WhatsApp messaging, and that’s when Wardle started to suspect he might have something special enough to merit a wider release.

Thousands of people around the globe now play this game each day, and fans have even created alternatives to Wordle inspired by the original format. This includes music identification game Heardle, Hollywood nerd faves Actorle and Framed, and variations like Dordle and Quordle that make you guess multiple words at once.

Not the day you’re after? You’ll find the Wordle answer for August 29 here.

What’s the best Wordle starting word?

We have some ideas to help you pick the perfect first move. Such tips include choosing a word with at least two different vowels to rule those building blocks in or out, plus a few common consonants such as S, T, R, or N.

Also, even if you’re attached to your mathematically sound starter, once it’s been the answer on any given day it won’t be the answer again for a few years — so if you happen to get the elusive 1/6 result, celebrate by swapping out your starting five.

What happened to the Wordle archive?

While you could once play the entire archive of past puzzles, the archive was taken down at the request of the New York Times, according to the site’s creator.

Is Wordle getting harder?

If you’ve been finding Wordle too easy, there is a Hard Mode you can enable to give yourself more of a challenge. But unless you activate this mode, we can assure you that Wordle isn’t getting harder. 

Why are there two different Wordle answers some days?

The whole point of Wordle is that everyone’s solving the same puzzle, with the same answer, no matter where you are in the world. However, occasionally the puzzle game will accept two different correct solutions on the same day. This aberration is due to changes the New York Times began making after it acquired Wordle earlier this year, excising words from Wardle’s original list that the team considers obscure or potentially offensive.

To make sure you’re always getting the same puzzle as everyone else, refresh your browser before you play — don’t worry, the site will keep your streak.

A subtle hint for the Wordle answer on August 30

It’s often referred to as early.

Wordle today is a 5-letter word that starts with…

…the letter O!

Does today’s Wordle word have a double letter?

Not today!

Wordle today: What’s the answer?


It’s time to reveal the solution.



Reporting by Caitlin Welsh, Sam Haysom, Amanda Yeo and Adam Rosenberg contributed to this article.


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Save 86% on this beginner-friendly stock screener app

Stock market tracker on tablet

TL;DR: A lifetime subscription to a Tykr Stock Screener Pro Plan is on sale for £100.88, saving you 86% on list price.

The truth is, you don’t have to be an expert to start investing in the stock market, and you don’t have to already be rich. Though it might be intimidating starting out, you can get some help from Tykr Stock Screener

This lifetime subscription could help you find low-risk stocks to invest in, and it can help you learn what it takes to reduce risk in your own investments. Right now, this beginner stock market software is on sale for £100.88. 

Tykr can’t give you a sure thing to invest in, but nothing can. What Tykr does have is support for over 30,000 stocks with open-source calculations that score how safe that stock should be to invest in. The higher the score, the safer the investment, according to Tykr. For each supported stock, you’ll get a summary, score, and overview of your potential returns on your investment. 

Tykr works a bit like having a friend who already knows more about the stock market, except you can always access this friend from anywhere at any time, provided you have an internet connection. Tykr can recommend which stocks to buy, when to sell, and it provides a detailed look at the reasoning behind these decisions. It won’t guarantee you massive payouts, but it could be a useful confidence-building tool as you learn about the market yourself. You can even use Tykr if you’re already acquainted with investing as a way to save time doing research on safer investments. 

The stock market doesn’t need to have a steep learning curve or a massive buy-in cost. With Tykr, you can see the potential risk level of investing and judge for yourself if you want to buy in. For a limited time, get a Tykr Stock Screener Pro Plan lifetime subscription for £100.88. 


Colin Kaepernick, girlfriend Nessa Diab welcome first baby

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and girlfriend, Nessa Diab, welcomed their first baby. 

Diab made the announcement via Instagram on Sunday afternoon. 

“I thought long and hard about sharing our life changing news today,” Diab wrote in the caption. “I decided to do so because today is the first day in a few weeks where I stepped out for work with a new life title – MOM!

“Colin and I welcomed our amazing baby to the world a few weeks ago and we are over the moon with our growing family.”


Niab, a radio host and MTV host, called Kaepernick, who remains a free agent, “the most amazing dad” and said she is “grateful that he is by our side for every moment of this journey.”

Kaepernick worked out for the Las Vegas Raiders back in May, but nothing came of the workout despite reports that Las Vegas was impressed with Kaepernick’s arm strength and conditioning. If anything, it was a positive sign that Kaepernick might be getting calls from other teams. 


On the other hand, former NFL star Warren Sapp said he heard it was “one of the worst workouts ever.”

Kaepernick’s agent, Jeff Nalley, told Pro Football Talk that Sapp’s statement just wasn’t true. 


“I guess Warren didn’t talk to the general manager or the head coach,” Nalley told the football website. “I spoke to the GM several times, and he said they all thought Kap was in great shape and threw the ball really well and encouraged any team to call him about the workout, and he would tell them the same. I’m surprised Warren would say that, because it’s not true, and you would think he would want Kap on a team.”

Kaepernick has remained unsigned since his polarizing protest where he kneeled during the national anthem during NFL games.


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How to watch BBC iPlayer from abroad

NordVPN on phone

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If you’re travelling outside the UK, you will be blocked by BBC iPlayer when you attempt to stream content. The only way to bypass this frustrating blockade is to trick BBC iPlayer into thinking you are back home. VPNs do this job by hiding your IP address and connecting you to a server in the UK. This process is particularly quick and easy with NordVPN.

Users can reliably access more content from around the world in just a few clicks, with a large and diverse network of servers to consider. NordVPN is also a high-speed VPN, with malware protection, ad blocking, and more premium online security features. And it’s on sale for a limited time.

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Watch BBC iPlayer from abroad with the best deal on NordVPN.


DC-area sniper must be resentenced, Maryland court rules

Maryland’s highest court ruled that Washington, D.C.-area sniper Lee Boyd Malvo has to be resentenced due to U.S. Supreme Court decisions on constitutional protections for juveniles made after his sentencing.

Malvo had been sentenced to six life sentences without the possibility of parole. He was 17 at the time of the murders. 

The Maryland Court of Appeals said it is unlikely that Malvo would ever be released because he is also serving separate life sentences for murders in Virginia.

“As a practical matter, this may be an academic question in Mr. Malvo’s case, as he would first have to be granted parole in Virginia before his consecutive life sentences in Maryland even begin,” Judge Robert McDonald wrote in the majority opinion released Friday.


But it is not up to the Court of Appeals to determine Malvo’s sentence or whether he should ever be released from his Maryland sentences, McDonald wrote.

“We hold only that the Eighth Amendment requires that he receive a new sentencing hearing at which the sentencing court, now cognizant of the principles elucidated by the Supreme Court, is able to consider whether or not he is constitutionally eligible for life without parole under those decisions,” he wrote.

The 37-year-old Malvo is currently in custody at the Red Onion State Prison in Virginia.

He and his mentor, John Allen Muhammad, shot people in Virginia, Maryland and Washington as they carried out everyday tasks like pumping gas and loading packages into their vehicles. The shootings took place during a three-week period in 2002, when Malvo was 17 and Muhammad was 41.

Muhammad was executed in 2009 after receiving a death sentence.


Malvo voluntarily testified against Muhammad in Maryland. He pleaded guilty in 2006 to six counts of first-degree murder in Montgomery County.

The prosecutor said in sentencing that year that Malvo was previously under the sway of an “evil man” and had “grown tremendously” since the shootings, the Court of Appeals ruling said.

The ruling said Malvo’s sentence was “consistent with the pertinent State statute and with the advisory State sentencing guidelines at that time.”

“Since then, however, the Supreme Court has held that the Eighth Amendment does not permit a sentence of life without parole for a juvenile homicide offender if a sentencing court determines that the offender’s crime was the result of transient immaturity, as opposed to permanent incorrigibility,” the ruling explained.

The ruling also pointed out that the Supreme Court has held that the legal constraint applies retroactively.

Judges Jonathan Biran, Brynja Booth and Joseph Getty joined McDonald in the majority. Judges Shirley Watts, Michele Hotten and Steven Gould dissented.

“The record demonstrates that Mr. Malvo received a personalized sentencing procedure at which his youth and its attendant characteristics were considered, and the circuit court was aware that it had the discretion to impose a lesser sentence,” Watts wrote.

Hotten noted that any alleged finding of corrigibility “did not render petitioner’s sentences unconstitutional disproportionate as applied.”

“Rather the proportionality of Petitioner’s sentences must be weighed against the severity of his crimes,” Hotten wrote. “Petitioner committed some of the worst crimes in the history of the State. It was not grossly disproportionate that a heavy penalty was imposed.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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