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5 Animals Playing Video Games

To make your Monday complete, I present you with a variety of videos featuring animals playing video games, along with analysis of whether they are good at the games. BEHOLD:

1. Real Lizard Eats Virtual Ants

A bearded dragon plays "Ant Smasher," an Android phone game. He or she is excellent, clearly differentiating between ants and other insects in the game, but seems to do a little unnecessary lip-licking. Best YouTube comment: "Thumbs up? if you are an Ant and you find this offensive."

(Via Kottke.org.)

2. Bonobo Plays Ms. Pac-Man (With Help)

With some encouragement by researcher Susan Savage-Rumbaugh, this bonobo plays Ms. Pac-Man. Skill level: low -- ghost avoidance strategy needs work. (See a bit more of this in Savage-Rumbaugh's excellent TED Talk; a snippet of this Pac-Man video is shown at the very end, minus narration.)

3. Cats Play "Game for Cats" on iPad

Two cats attempt to master an iPad game called, appropriately, Game for Cats (iTunes link -- the game is free). The cats seem generally confused by the notion of a screen, and attempt to go underneath the iPad, with unsatisfactory results. Their claws also keep getting stuck on the carpet; for optimal play, perhaps a carpet isn't a great idea. In general, the cats seem pretty interested in smacking those mice, though their technique isn't optimal.

Related: there's a similar app in which cats "paint" as they stomp on virtual mice (iTunes link; app costs $1.99).

4. Cat Frustrated By Duck Hunt

This poor cat does a great job playing Duck Hunt, but lacks the Nintendo Zapper Light Gun -- so that obnoxious in-game dog keeps popping up and mocking the poor feline's apparent failure. Skill level: excellent. Virtual dog's conduct: unsportsmanlike.

5. Hamster Inhabits Real-World Platformer

While not a video game per se, some industrious hamster owner has put together a diorama version of a platformer game (reminiscent of 8-bit NES games like Super Mario Bros.) and unleashed his hapless hamster into it. The hamster does a pretty good job traversing the maze, but takes a few breaks to do some adorable self-grooming.

Got More?

Leave comments with any videos I missed! (Note: the "dog playing Tony Hawk" you see all over YouTube is fake.)

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You Can Finally Mute Users on Instagram
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Since launching as a photo editing and sharing app in 2010, Instagram has grown into the third most popular social media platform behind YouTube and Facebook. That means the list of people you follow likely includes friends you like as well as exes, distant family members, and former high school classmates whose constant updates you could do without. Now BuzzFeed reports that Instagram just made it a lot easier to trim your feed of unwanted content without the user’s knowledge.

To mute someone without unfollowing them altogether, tap the ellipsis to the right of their username next time you see one their posts. Next, select “Mute” from the list of options that pops up. From there you can choose to just mute their regular posts or block their posts and Instagram Stories from showing up on your end. There’s no way for the user to know you muted them (at least not yet), and you can visit their profile to unmute them any time.

Instagram had already made it possible to mute someone’s Stories by tapping and holding their profile icon, but this is the first time users have the option to hide all posts from a person as well. Prior to the update, users either had to put up with obnoxious oversharing or hit the unfollow button and risk their friend (or acquaintance, family member, etc.) noticing their follower count dropped.

Interested in curating your other online feeds? If politics is your biggest social media peeve, here are some ways to see less of it.

[h/t BuzzFeed]

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Not Sure How to Plan a Multi-City Vacation? A New App Will Do It for You
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If you want to explore the world but planning a multi-city vacation seems overwhelming, Eightydays is the app for you. The service, which we spotted via Travel + Leisure, is designed to help you decide where to go on your vacation and how to get there by auto-generating potential travel itineraries. And it can help you do it cheaply.

Eightydays uses an algorithm to generate potential travel itineraries to get you between major cities in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, finding you flights and trains that will be both budget-friendly and convenient. And it does it more or less instantly, saving you the time and hassle of sorting through travel times or staring at maps.

The algorithm excludes remote airports that are far from cities and limits choices to direct flights and trains, making sure you spend the bulk of your time exploring, not sitting in transit. It also limits departure times so that you don't have to wake up at 3 a.m. to make your flight.

You can choose to stay in up to six cities in one trip, or limit your itinerary to just a few different destinations. It provides links to buy tickets from Kiwi.com and suggestions for accommodations from sites like Airbnb and Booking.com. If you don't like the initial destination suggestions, you can hit "shuffle," and it will suggest a different itinerary.

Screenshot of Eightydays.me showing a suggested itinerary starting in Barcelona
Screenshot, Eightydays

If you aren't the most creative trip-planner, Eightydays can help you find destinations beyond the basic cities on every world traveler's bucket list. To test it out, I asked the app to find me destinations around Europe between August 1 and 8, starting in Barcelona. It suggested I hit up Narbonne, Montpellier, Marseille, Toulon, and Nice, all for a total of $200 in train tickets. On a second try, it suggested my Barcelona vacation include stops in Stuttgart, Strasbourg, Metz, Luxembourg, and Cologne instead, for a total of $242 in air and train fare. These are definitely not cities I would immediately think to visit if I were planning on my own, but they're relatively cheap and easy to get to from my preferred starting point.

There are some limitations. You have to start and end in the same city, and it won't create an itinerary for more than 20 days or more than six cities. But if you're looking to see as many places as you can on a limited budget and a limited timetable, Eightydays is a simple way to do it.

Get it for iOS here, or browse online at eightydays.me.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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