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9 Smart Ways to Always Pick the Right Movie

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Deciding what to watch can be the most difficult part of movie night. Ultimately, finding the right film comes down to personal preference, but we’ve rounded up some insights to consider when you’re searching for the perfect film for any situation. 

1. If you’re stressed, check out a comedy. That seems straightforward— after all, a tense movie might only make you more stressed—but there’s a real, biological reason for aiming for a chuckle. A study found that laughing while watching a comedic film causes your blood vessels to dilate by 22 percent, counteracting the effects of stress hormones.

2. Horror movies can have the opposite effect, increasing your cortisol levels even though you aren’t in any actual danger. But as long as you don’t have heart problems to worry about, this doesn’t mean the effects are all bad. The increased heart rate and spike in adrenaline are what make these flicks feel so thrilling to fans.

3. If you’re feeling lucky, you could leave it all up to chance with NetflixRoulette.net, which spits out a single option with each spin (click of a button). You can enter some basic criteria like genre and whether you’re looking for a movie or a television show, but the beauty is being told what to watch. 

4. If you’re struggling with problems in your life, it might seem like a news documentary would help to put things in perspective, but studies show that it could make your own issues loom larger. In fact, just 15 minutes of watching negative news caused people to feel more “catastrophic” about concerns in their own lives. Best to save the harrowing documentaries for a brighter day.

5. When picking a family film, you’ll need to take into account the influence your choice might have on your kids. This can mean a lot more than just barring R-rated flicks. If gender parity is important to you, try applying the Bechdel Test, a series of questions established in the 1980s for weeding out films with fair representations of women from, well, most other films. Ask yourself:  (1) Does this movie have more than one woman in it? (2) Do they talk to each other? (3) Is their conversation about something other than a guy? 

6. Visit SuggestMeMovie.com, because it does exactly that. Tell the site the time frame, genre, IMDb score, and any keywords (they wisely suggest “Brad Pitt”) you’re interested in and it will give you a movie suggestion, complete with a trailer. 

7. AGoodMovieToWatch.com is a little more specific, but it’s great if you’re looking for something a tad more obscure. The site’s algorithm only bothers including movies that were highly rated on both IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes and also fit their “little-known” criteria. By only showing you movies that weren’t big box office hits, the site aims to help you discover flicks you might otherwise miss.

8. When it comes to picking a family-friendly film, parents get the final say about what’s fair game for a certain age group, but who better to know if your kids will enjoy it than someone else their age? KidsPickFlicks.com includes reviews written by (and for) children, with their ages listed.  These tiny critics don’t always match mainstream consensus - when Slate polled a handful of kids about some of the latest Pixar movies, their opinions didn’t always match the critics.’

9. As your kids get a little older, encourage them to watch something fantasy-based. It could prove to be educational. A recent study showed that children exposed to just 15 minutes of highly-imaginative clips from movies—specifically, magical scenes from the Harry Potter films—scored better on tests of creativity than kids who were shown non-magical clips.

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Purchased a PlayStation 3 Between 2006 and 2010? You May Be Entitled to $65
Clemens Bilan, AFP/Getty Images
Clemens Bilan, AFP/Getty Images

All that time you spent playing video games in the late aughts could finally pay off: According to Polygon, if you purchased an original-style "fat" PlayStation 3 between November 1, 2006 and April 1, 2010, you're eligible to receive a $65 check. You have until April 15 to file your claim.

PS3 owners first qualified to receive compensation from Sony following the settlement of a lawsuit in 2016. That case dealt with the "OtherOS" feature that came with the console when it debuted. With OtherOS, Sony promised a new PlayStation that would operate like a computer, allowing users to partition their hard drive and install third-party operating systems like the open-source Linux software.

OtherOS was included in the PlayStation 3 until April 2010, when Sony removed the feature due to security concerns. This angered enough PS3 owners to fuel a lawsuit, and Sony, facing accusations of false advertisement and breach of warranty, agreed to settle in October 2016.

PlayStation 3 owners were initially told they'd be receiving $55 each from the settlement, but that number has since grown to $65. To claim your piece of the $3.75 million settlement, you must first confirm that you're qualified to receive it. The PlayStation 3 you purchased needs to be a 20 GB, 40 GB, 60 GB or 80 GB model. If that checks out, visit this website and submit either your "fat" PS3 serial number or the PlayStation network sign-in ID or online ID associated with the console.

[h/t Polygon]

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10 Tips for Setting Up Your Home Theater
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It doesn't take much effort to turn a typical room into a home theater—just add a television. But considering how many movies and TV shows most of us actually watch at home, why not go the distance and create a domestic space that rivals the movie theater experience? Here are some simple (for the most part) steps for creating a home theater that's worthy of all the time you'll spend in it.

1. Find Your Visual Sweet Spot

Engineers and scientists have toiled long and hard to come up with the optimal viewing distance for watching HDTVs. The math is relatively simple—take the display's diagonal screen size and multiply it by 1.5 to 2.5. That's how far your couch, chairs, or other prime seating choices should be placed relative to the front of the television.

2. For Small Rooms, Try A Soundbar

Most modern HDTVs can pump out decent sound, but nothing delivers that cinematic experience quite like dedicated speakers. For small rooms, consider getting a soundbar, which packs multiple speakers into a single low-profile, horizontal package. Some of the sleeker models can fit right below the screen, while others act as a kind of reinforced base, with the TV sitting directly on top.

3. Clear Space For Wall-Shaking Bass

Another simple audio upgrade comes from a subwoofer, a bass-only class of speaker that's designed to literally vibrate the room. Don't mount these boxy behemoths in a cabinet (where their vibrations will generate more of an unsettling rattle than a satisfying rumble), but on the floor. The key here is to make sure there's enough space right against one of your home theater's walls, and preferably in a corner.

4. Stow Speakers In Bookshelves

One of the hallmarks of next-level home theater audio is separation—setting up speakers so that sound effects, dialogue, and other audio seem to come from different directions, such as left, right and center. Though you could pull this off with a pair of massive floor-standing speakers, the subtler approach (for non-cavernous spaces) is to place smaller speakers on bookshelves, positioned to the left and right of the TV. This stealthier setup also helps to hide obtrusive cables.

5. Mount Up For Surround Sound

The best, but most complex, audio setup is full surround sound, which usually entails six total audio channels, or speakers—one for the center, the right and the left, two for the rear, and one subwoofer. The biggest challenge, however, is generally rear-channel placement. Though you might stumble across the perfect pair of shelves or other furniture to set those speakers on, expect to go the distance and mount the rear channels in the wall (the upper back corners of most rooms work fine).

6. Sit Up Straight For 3D

If you plan on watching a lot of 3D content, get yourself a seat with a stiff back. Why? Because tilting your head to one side or the other can garble the 3D effect—meaning the sort of sprawling position typical to couch-based viewing is no good. So make sure your chair or couch faces forward, in a way that discourages slouching and lounging.

7. Check Your Angles

Some HDTVs can be viewed from relatively extreme angles (to the left, right, or even from above and below), while others require more of a dead-center position. Before you drill any holes or buy any new furniture, stick the TV roughly where it's going to go, turn it on, and make sure none of the room's seating options are getting completely short-changed.

8. Turn Away From Glare

While checking for bad angles, consider how much light is hitting the screen from your windows at various times of the day. The same goes for unnatural light (lamps, track lighting, etc.). Even the brightest image can't compete with intense glare, so try to position the TV in as much round-the-clock shadow as possible.

9. Kill Two Birds With One Curve

Those last two issues—bad angles and screen glare—can be largely dealt with by opting for a curved HDTV. The subtle bend in these displays actually increases the total viewing angle to either side of the TV, while also limiting total glare. Prioritizing this feature can take some of the fuss out of the overall home theater setup.

10. Put on Headphones, And Sit Wherever You Want

Until very recently, headphones and TVs were an awkward fit, requiring that you either sit uncomfortably close to the screen (since most earphone cords aren't more than a few feet long), or figure out where to put the bulky, interference-prone radio-frequency transmitters that work with wireless headphones. But a handful of newer products let you plug standard headphones directly into a remote control, giving you access to perfectly synced, perfectly private audio, from essentially any seat in the room. Only a handful of products currently offer this feature, the most recent of which is the PlayStation 4, which has an audio jack built into the game controller.

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