5 Cheap(ish) Things to Beef Up Your Digital Security

Authy is the simplest to use of these applications. It’s free, and it works as the second factor of authentication for the most common online services, including Gmail, Instagram and Facebook. Once you enable two-factor authentication on each individual account, you then need both your password and your phone to log in. Authy can also securely back up your information, so if you lose or replace your phone you won’t be locked out of your accounts.

Two-factor authentication doesn’t guarantee security, and it is vulnerable to hacking attacks like phishing attempts that spoof a login page, so you still need to be careful. Text-message verification is particularly bad, so you should stick to an app when possible. An even more secure option is a physical key like those from Yubico, though they can be a pain to use with some devices.

A webcam cover

For the past few years, the idea of covering your laptop’s webcam has been reserved for the paranoid or the important. The fear driving such an action is simple: As Wired has reported, a hacker, creep or domestic abuser could theoretically take control of your webcam.

But back in July, a much more mundane situation arose with the video-chat software Zoom. A security researcher revealed a vulnerability through which any website could open a video-enabled call on a Mac with Zoom installed. Zoom’s explanation for this? The company wanted to make it easier on the customer by requiring fewer clicks to start a call. This sort of security negligence is a likely more common occurrence than a directed hack of your webcam.

Wirecutter hasn’t tested webcam covers, but I did order a few of the most popular options from Amazon, and my favorite is the Imluckies Webcam Cover, which is thin enough that it doesn’t prevent a laptop lid from closing and doesn’t slide open by accident. If you have a desktop computer, you can also invest in a dedicated webcam, such as the Logitech C920S (the new version of a previous Wirecutter pick), that has a privacy shutter built in.

A paper shredder

A paper shredder to improve your digital privacy might not make sense at first, but a good shredder protects against old-school identity theft, which can still affect your digital life. If someone goes through your trash and pulls out a few bills, they could find your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and more.

Wirecutter recommends the AmazonBasics 15-Sheet Cross-Cut Shredder for most people, though serious privacy mavens should step up to the AmazonBasics 12-Sheet High-Security Micro-Cut Shredder, which runs a little slower but produces confetti half the size of a cross-cut shredder’s pieces.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/25/smarter-living/5-cheapish-things-digital-security.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Those Irresistible Price Alerts: ‘HOT!! Chicago to Barcelona, Spain for Only $272’

Cruise sales

CruiseWatch.com, a cruise search site, sends free price alerts to registered users. The site allows you to search for a cruise then set a price alert tailored to price drops and specific cabin types, such as interior or balcony rooms. Users can also set a maximum budget to see if or when a cruise falls into that range.

The Germany-based service is tailored to American travelers because they are the biggest market in cruising, according to its chief executive Markus Stumpe. While it doesn’t sell cruises — bookings are handled by travel agency partners — the site offers free advice and strategies for saving money, including how to cancel and rebook if a cruise price drops more than the value of a cancellation fee. According to the company, cruise fares tend to drop around 100 days before sailing and users report typical savings of around $300.

Hotel bookings

Hotel room prices fluctuate less than flights, but the app Pruvo offers the assurance that if a rate drops after you’ve booked it, you’ll know about it and can rebook. Once users share an existing reservation with Pruvo, it tracks your hotel reservation and if a better rate comes along for the same hotel, on the same date, in the same room category, it contacts you. As long as the booking lies outside of the penalty window for cancellations, the service tells users how to cancel their reservation and make a new one at the lower price.

According to Pruvo, hotel prices drop about 40 percent of the time after booking — on average 14 percent of the original booking price. Most drops are a result of competition between online travel agencies cutting their booking commissions, according to Doron Nadivi, the chief commercial officer of Pruvo. The service is free; the company makes money through commissions from its hotel and travel agency partners.

Last summer, Google.com/travel enhanced its free hotel search analyses. It began offering price insights on hotels searched on a mobile platform that lets searchers know if a price is low, high or typical; indicates whether prices are trending up, down or holding; and compares an individual hotel to similar hotels nearby.

In a recent search for hotels in New York City in October, I got a best rate of $132 a night for the Pod 51 Hotel in Manhattan, indicating it was a “deal” at 21 percent less than usual. It also showed rates at “similar hotels nearby,” including the Vanderbilt YMCA at $100 and the Fifty Hotel & Suites by Affinia at $197. Clicking on its “price insights” tab, I got more data; Google called the rate low, with typical rates running $155 to $297, and displayed a graph showing rate fluctuations for the past month.

With such searches for hotels in a city over specific dates, Google and Kayak will allow you to activate a hotel price alert that follows rates in the destination.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/27/travel/budget-travel-price-alerts.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Scientist Who Discredited Meat Guidelines Didn’t Report Past Food Industry Ties

Dr. Laine noted that people on both sides of the meat issue have conflicts of interest. “Many of the people who are criticizing these articles have lots of conflicts of interest they aren’t talking about,” she said. “They do workshops on plant-based diets, do retreats on wellness and write books on plant-based diets. There are conflicts on both sides.”

Dr. Laine said if Dr. Johnston had chosen to disclose a financial relationship with the food industry group, it would not have changed the journal’s decision to publish the research. What matters to the journal editors and peer-review team, she said, is the fact that the group had clear protocols for examining the data and was transparent about its methods.

“I don’t think we would have made a different decision about publishing the manuscript if he had that on his conflicts disclosure,” said Dr. Laine. “We certainly know that in the past he did nutrition research that was funded by industry. It’s a judgment call if that should be disclosed. I think at some level that’s a little bit of noise around this. The methods of what these researchers did and their conclusions are out there, and people can disagree with that.”

Dr. Gordon Guyatt, chair of the 14-member panel that reviewed the analysis, said he is confident that the work was not in any way influenced by industry.

“Perhaps Brad was a little naïve, and both I and perhaps Christine Laine were a little negligent in it not occurring to us that he should probably declare the previous money he got from the previous project,” said Dr. Guyatt, an internal medicine physician and a distinguished professor at McMaster University. “All of that being said, I feel personally extremely comfortable that it had no effect on what we did.”

Dr. Guyatt noted that for 20 years he has been a pescatarian who eats only fish and no other meat. “Before I was involved in these systematic reviews and looking carefully at evidence, I had three reasons for not eating meat — animal welfare, the environment and health. Now I only have two reasons for not eating meat.”

Critics of the meat study say that it has similarities to the industry-funded sugar study and uses the same standard to evaluate evidence. Dr. Frank Hu, the chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said he was stunned when he realized that Dr. Johnston was both the leader of the meat study and the same researcher who led the industry-funded review that attacked guidelines advising people to eat less sugar. He said that in both cases Dr. Johnston undercut sugar and meat recommendations by using a tool called GRADE that was mainly designed to rate clinical drug trials, not dietary studies.

“You can’t do a double-blinded placebo-controlled trial of red meat and other foods on heart attacks or cancer,” Dr. Hu said. “For dietary and lifestyle factors, it’s impossible to use the same standards for drug trials.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/04/well/eat/scientist-who-discredited-meat-guidelines-didnt-report-past-food-industry-ties.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Here’s How to Type Faster on Your Phone

For many of us, our approach to typing on a smartphone is something we stumble upon. Unlike composing words on a typewriter or computer keyboard, there is no widely taught, proper way.

If speed is the goal, however, a study of around 37,000 people suggests that one particular approach is better than others: writing with two thumbs and embracing autocorrect, but avoiding predictive text.

“That is basically the trick of typing quickly,” said Per Ola Kristensson, a professor of interactive systems engineering at the University of Cambridge and one of the authors of the study, which was presented at a human-computer interaction conference in Taipei on Wednesday.

The study focused on the stubbornly persistent Qwerty keyboard, which was originally designed to minimize mechanical typing jams in typewriters. Despite questions about its utility and the emergence of alternate systems, much of the world still relies on the setup.

To conduct the study, researchers asked volunteers from around 160 countries to memorize a series of sentences and write them both on desktop keyboards and mobile phones. (You can take the test here.)

There has never been another typing study on this scale, according to the researchers, but they said that when they compared their findings with smaller studies, the gap in speed between the two devices appeared to be shrinking. When smartphones first came out, people typed about 20 to 25 words per minute, said Anna Feit, a researcher in human-computer interaction at ETH Zurich and another author of the study. Now people average 37 to 40 words per minute, she said.

As the authors write in their study, the average person is nearly 70 percent as fast on a phone as on a laptop. One remarkable typist hit 85 words per minute on a mobile device.

Pedro Lopes, a professor of human-computer interaction at the University of Chicago, who was not involved in the study, said the results signaled a “paradigm shift.” That change is even more evident among young people. On average, subjects between the ages of 10 and 19 were about 10 words per minute faster on smartphones than people in their 40s.

One unexpected finding was that a significant number of subjects used a two-finger typing system on full-size computer keyboards. However they approached typing, those who used predictive text generally wrote more slowly. Examining word predictions and making a choice is far slower than using autocorrect, Dr. Kristensson said.

Jack Dennerlein, an ergonomics researcher at Northeastern University’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences, said the study reinforced what other studies have shown: Two-handed typing is faster than one-handed typing.

But the limits on speed involve more than the kind of keyboard or the dexterity of the individual. There is also the element of imagination, said Dr. Kristensson, who is an inventor of gesture typing, a swiping technique intended to save time. No matter the system, people cannot exceed 120 words a minute, he said, because they cannot come up with what to say that quickly. “Typing rates are bounded by our creativity,” he said.

Regardless of speed, most of us are not that original. Half of the words people text are the most frequently used 200 words in English, he said.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/04/technology/phone-typing.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

How to Set Your Google Data to Self-Destruct

Last year you may have been addicted to Beyoncé. But nowadays you’re more into Lizzo. You also once went through a phase of being obsessed with houseplants, but have lately gotten into collecting ballpoint pens.

People’s tastes and interests change. So why should our Google data histories be eternal?

For years, Google has kept a record of our internet searches by default. The company hoards that data so it can build detailed profiles on us, which helps it make personalized recommendations for content but also lets marketers better target us with ads. While there have been tools we can use to manually purge our Google search histories, few of us remember to do so.

So I’m recommending that we all try Google’s new privacy tools. In May, the company introduced an option that lets us automatically delete data related to our Google searches, requests made with its virtual assistant and our location history.

On Wednesday, Google followed up by expanding the auto-delete ability to YouTube. In the coming weeks, it will begin rolling out a new private mode for when you’re navigating to a destination with its Google Maps app, which could come in handy if you’re going somewhere you want to keep secret, like a therapist’s office.

“All of this work is in service of having a great user experience,” Eric Miraglia, Google’s data protection officer, said about the new privacy features. “Part of that experience is, how does the user feel about the control they have?”

How do we best use Google’s new privacy tools? The company gave me a demonstration of the newest controls this week, and I tested the tools that it released earlier this year. Here’s what to know about them.

How to auto-delete your search history

Most of Google’s new privacy controls are in a web tool called My Activity. (Here’s the URL: myactivity.google.com.)

Once you get into the tool and click on Activity Controls, you will see an option called Web & App Activity. Click Manage Activity and then the button under the calendar icon. Here, you can set your activity history on several Google products to automatically erase itself after three months or after 18 months. This data includes searches made on Google.com, voice requests made with Google Assistant, destinations that you looked up on Maps and searches in Google’s Play app store.

Which duration should you go for? It depends on how much you care about getting personalized recommendations.

Let’s say you have been doing lots of Google searches on celebrities and movies. Google News will recommend news articles for you to read on those topics based on those searches. So if you’re steadfast about following celebrity and movie news, setting searches to delete after 18 months is probably a good option. If you’re more fickle about your interests, three months may be better.

If you’re the type who doesn’t care to get any personalized recommendations on Google products, you can simply disable search history from being retained in your account. Next to the Web & App Activity option, toggle the switch to the off position.

How to auto-delete your YouTube history

New to Google’s privacy controls this week is the ability to auto-delete your YouTube history, which includes searches and the videos you’ve watched.

In the My Activity tool, click on Activity controls and look for the button for YouTube history. Click on Manage history and you will see a similar calendar icon, which lets you set YouTube history to delete after three months or 18 months.

How and when to use private mode and auto-delete in Google Maps

Also arriving in the coming weeks is a so-called Incognito mode in Google Maps. Toggling this on lets you look up and navigate to destinations without creating a location history. It also prevents others from seeing your past searches.

To turn it on, open the Google Maps app and tap on the account icon in the upper-right corner. Then click Turn on Incognito mode.

This could come in handy in a few situations:

  • If you are meeting someone to discuss a sensitive business matter, Incognito mode will prevent the meeting location from being recorded.

  • Google Maps lets you constantly share your location with someone like your romantic partner. If you want your location to be kept secret, like when shopping for an engagement ring, you can turn on Incognito mode.

  • Let’s say you are driving and a member of your family is using the Maps app on your phone to navigate to a new address. Turning on Incognito mode will hide your past maps searches from that person.

Google now also includes an auto-delete option for location history. In the My Activity tool, click Activity controls, scroll to Location history and click Manage Activity. On the next page, find the icon shaped like a nut and then click Automatically delete location history. You can set data to self-purge after three months or 18 months.

For those who don’t want Google to create a record of their location history at all, there’s a switch for that. On the My Activity page, click Activity controls and scroll to Location history and turn the switch to the off position.

Just do it

In offering these privacy tools, Google is a step ahead of other internet giants like Facebook and Twitter, which don’t provide ways to easily delete large batches of dated posts.

Yet there’s no one-size-fits-all for how people should use Google’s privacy controls, since everyone has different lifestyles and levels of paranoia. To give an idea of how you can tailor these settings, here’s my personal setup:

  • I set my search history to auto-delete. I rarely use Google Assistant and don’t visit Google News, meaning I don’t benefit from personalized recommendations. But I’m often checking Google Maps, and it’s useful to have a recent history of those searches to revisit destinations. So I set Web & App Activity to automatically delete after three months.

  • I set my YouTube history to self-destruct. I go in and out of phases that involve cooking different types of foods, and I like it when YouTube surfaces new recipes based on recent searches. So I set my YouTube history to auto-delete after three months.

  • I set my location history to auto-delete, too. I use Google Maps regularly, and I go on big trips twice a year. It’s useful for me to let Google know where I have been recently so that its Maps app can load relevant addresses and remember places I have been. But it’s not useful for Google to continue to know that I went to Hawaii last month for vacation. So I set my location history to auto-purge after three months.

It’s difficult to imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to take advantage of Google’s auto-delete tools. There’s no practical benefit to letting Google keep a history of our online activities from years back. So don’t delay in wiping a tiny bit of your digital traces away.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/02/technology/personaltech/google-data-self-destruct-privacy.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

The Veterinarian Will See Your Dinosaur Now

Dinosaurs loom large in the human imagination, towering above the treetops, bringing down prey and reigning over the ancient land, sea and sky.

In real life, though, things weren’t always so spectacular. A paper published last week in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B by Les Hearn, a retired science teacher, and Amanda Williams, a psychologist seeking evidence of chronic pain in other species, collects the wince-inducing tales of hundreds of dinosaur injuries. Paleontologists are able to deduce whether dinosaurs suffered wounds during their lifetimes by analyzing fossilized bones and other evidence, and have found a tyrannosaur with its rival’s tooth embedded in its jaw, unusually spaced tracks left by an ornithopod with a toe injury and many more prehistoric owies.

En masse, the injury reports help to demystify the lives of these ancient creatures, which were fraught with danger and, sometimes, slapstick silliness.

They also raise a question: If a banged-up dinosaur walked into a veterinarian’s office today, what might happen next?

Ben Golas, a working veterinarian and a Ph.D. candidate in wildlife disease ecology at Colorado State University, took a break from caring for modern fuzzy and feathered friends to consider how he would treat some damaged dinosaurs if they were brought to his clinic.

At the outset, he said that many dinosaurs showing up at his practice would present logistical issues: “We might have to make the doors a little bit bigger.”

Still, he said, people in his profession train for “the variety that life throws at us,” and the injuries detailed in this recent paper aren’t too far off from those he’s used to treating in other species.

Poor Sue

Before they became the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found, Sue the T. Rex had an exciting time on Earth — one that resulted in several broken arm bones on the right side, along with a number of other injuries.

“If a big dog got hit by a car, we might see this same sort of presentation,” Dr. Golas said.

He recommended temporarily immobilizing the injured right arm by bandaging it against the body. “We would need a lot of vet wrap,” he said.

And they might need a dino-size e-collar or “cone of shame.”

“If Sue could get their head around to lick the wound, they would absolutely need a cone,” he said.

Walking It Off

One ornithopod managed to get around despite a damaged toe pad. Its fossilized footprints showed a limp, which was how paleontologists diagnosed the injury.

Dr. Golas suggested a ball bandage — a thick wad of gauze that the animal can grab onto and is then wrapped around the foot. This is often used to treat birds with claw distress. “It takes some pressure off the painful area,” he said, allowing it to heal.

Out on a Limb

Next, Dr. Golas considered the case of a dilophosaurus — a theropod, or the same dino order as T. Rex — that holds the current record for most injuries found in one forelimb: eight, ranging from a fractured scapula to abscesses on the hand.

“It would be totally reasonable to think that these injuries came from a fight,” he said.

Such a complex set of scrapes calls for a mix of stabilization and antibiotics — as well as a muzzle, often necessary when animals are in pain and want to protect their limbs, Dr. Golas said. If the infection kept raging, amputation might be the best answer, after which “we’d have to find a dilophosaurus rescue center” for the animal to live out its days.

A Landslide Brought Her Down

The next patient was an oviraptor with a fracture of the ulnar bone in her forearm.

Dr. Golas prescribed a “figure-eight” style bandage to keep her forearm still, along with “strict cage rest.”

Although this dinosaur wouldn’t have had bandages available, she seems to have managed the second part of her treatment plan on her own: When she died, likely from a landslide or other accident, she was on nest rest, incubating a clutch of eggs, and her fracture was mostly healed.

Not All Fun and Games

“The embedded tooth could quickly become an abscess that might make eating food painful. After removing it, we would want to provide a soft diet until healed,” he said.

A feeding tube might also be necessary. Both seem like humiliating prospects for a bone-crunching carnivore, although perhaps it would find a meat smoothie delicious.

His own lunch break over, Dr. Golas returned to his real-life patients, with a new appreciation for what he would have had to deal with in the days before domestication.-

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/04/science/dinosaur-injuries-veterinarian.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Being Young, Active and Physically Fit May Be Very Good for Your Brain

Physically fit young adults have healthier white matter in their brains and better thinking skills than young people who are out of shape, according to a large-scale new study of the links between aerobic fitness and brain health. The findings suggest that even when people are youthful and presumably at the peak of their mental prowess, fitness — or the lack of it — may influence how well their brains and minds work.

We already have plenty of tantalizing evidence that aerobic fitness can beneficently shape our brains and cognition. In animal experiments, mice and rats that run on wheels or treadmills produce far more new neurons in their brains than sedentary animals and perform better on tests of rodent intelligence and memory. Similarly, studies involving people show strong relationships between being physically active or fit and having greater brain volume and stronger thinking abilities than people with low fitness or who rarely exercise.

But most of these past studies focused on middle-aged or older adults, whose brains often are starting to sputter and contract with age. For them, fitness and exercise are believed to help slow any decline, keeping brain tissue and function relatively youthful. Much less has been known about whether fitness likewise might be related to the structure and function of healthy, younger people’s brains.

So, for the new study, which was published last month in Scientific Reports, scientists at the University of Münster in Germany decided to look inside the skulls of a large group of young adults.

They began by turning to a hefty trove of data gathered as part of the Human Connectome Project, an international collaborative effort that aims to help map much of the human brain and tease out how it works.

As part of that project, more than 1,200 young men and women in the United States recently agreed to have their brains scanned with a specialized type of M.R.I. that looks at the health of their brains’ white matter. White matter consists of the many connections between neurons and brain regions. It is, essentially, the brain’s communications wiring. (The working neurons make up the brain’s gray matter.)

The volunteers, who mostly were in their 20s, also completed multiple questionnaires about their health and lives, a general medical checkup, and a two-minute walk test, a widely used measurement of aerobic fitness that involves walking as rapidly as possible for two minutes, to see how far you get.

Finally, they sat through a battery of cognitive tests, designed to quantify how well they could reason and remember in various ways.

The German researchers then gathered all of this information and began crosschecking it, comparing the young people’s fitness and thinking skills, their fitness and white matter health, and their white matter health and ability to think.

And they found a variety of interesting correlations. The young people, all of whom were healthy, had covered a wide range of distances in their two-minute walks. Some of those young men and women covered far less distance than others, marking them as the least physically fit.

These relatively out-of-shape young people generally performed worst on the tests of memory and thinking skills, the scientists found. Their brain scans also indicated that their white matter was slightly weaker and more frayed than in the brains of the young men and women who had walked farthest in those two minutes.

These relationships remained intact when the researchers controlled for the young people’s body mass indexes, socioeconomic status, age, gender, blood sugar levels and blood pressures.

In essence, the fitter people in this group were, the more robust their white matter looked, and the better they performed on tests of memory and thinking skills.

The researchers were taken aback by the strength of the associations between the young adults’ fitness, thinking and white-matter health, says Dr. Jonathan Repple, a psychiatrist and neuroscience researcher at the University of Münster who oversaw the new study.

“There already are a few studies published looking at older people” and their brains and fitness, he says, “but to observe this in a young sample was quite surprising.”

This study provides only a snapshot of one moment in the lives of these young people, though, and can show only links between their fitness, white matter and thinking skills. It cannot prove that greater fitness directly caused their brains to look and function better.

It also did not measure or ask about exercise habits, so it is not clear how much or what kinds of exercise might be needed if you are young and want to raise your fitness and potentially also bulk up your white matter and cognitive skills.

Dr. Repple says he and his colleagues are planning experiments to test whether and how various exercise programs affect fitness and the brain in people of different ages.

But already, this study and others suggest that being fit may matter for brain health earlier than many of us might think.

“Even at a young age, physical fitness has beneficial effects not just on the body,” Dr. Repple says, “but also on brain health and brain functioning.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/02/well/move/being-young-active-and-physically-fit-may-be-very-good-for-your-brain.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

How to Take Advantage of Shoulder Season

Summer vacation may be coming to an end, but savvy travelers know that the best time of year to book and take a trip is starting. Shoulder season — the months just before and after peak summer travel time — is when you’ll find warm temperatures, smaller crowds and deals on flights, home rentals and more. Here’s a primer on how to take advantage:

What is shoulder season?

Many travelers may have heard of the term shoulder season, but don’t know exactly what it means.

“Shoulder season is a travel industry insider term that refers to the two times of year that ‘shoulder’ the summer months, especially May, September and October,” Kelly Soderlund, communications manager of the travel booking site Hipmunk, said. “The weather is still warm, and prices really start to decline.”

Travelers can expect lower prices as well as fewer crowds. And while they risk an increased chance of inclement weather, temperature drops are often minimal.

“At many U.S. beach destinations, the average temperature drops about 1 percent between August and September, while price drops are much more dramatic,” Melanie Fish, public relations director of VRBO, said.

Ms. Soderlund recommends approaching the Caribbean with caution, or at least keeping a careful eye on hurricane season.

How much can I save?

“The biggest price drops are in the most popular destinations,” Ms. Soderlund said. “And we see the biggest drop-off of visitors right after Labor Day.”

Data from Hipmunk, shows an average 18 percent decrease, compared to the summer months, in fares this fall for international flights departing from the United States.

According to Hipmunk, airfares for international flights departing from the United States are, on average, 18 percent less than they were this summer. Travelers looking to head to Nairobi, Venice or Shanghai could save 37 percent on flights, and a similar price drop — 34 percent — was seen for flights to Milan and Hong Kong. Domestic flights drop an average of 9 percent.

Hotel prices plunge as well, according to Hipmunk, with rates dropping around 50 percent in destinations ranging from Santorini, Greece, to Myrtle Beach, S.C.

VRBO data shows comparably significant price drops for home rentals. Last year, average nightly rates in Ocean City, N.J., dropped 29 percent between August and September, and 25 percent in Cape Cod. Travelers to Europe saw lower rental prices in Edinburgh (33 percent decrease), Nice, France, (24 percent) and Barcelona (21 percent).

Ali Killam, a consumer trends spokeswoman at Airbnb, recommends researching specific destinations to get the best deals.

“Prices tend to rise during local school breaks and holidays,” she said. “Since different destinations around the world observe different school breaks, take some time to learn more about the area’s academic and cultural calendar before booking.”

When should you book shoulder season travel?

Ms. Soderlund recommended booking international travel at least six weeks out on the busiest routes. Domestic flights tend to be cheapest about three months out.

The best way to capture these deals: Keep an eye out for fare sales and set price alerts for multiple airports. It’s worth researching new routes that may have opened up, like a new direct flight from San Jose, Calif., to London.

Whether booking flights, hotels or houses, Ms. Killam recommends making sure your trip falls firmly outside of high season.

“If you depart during high season but return in shoulder season, you likely won’t get the best price,” she said.

Where should you go?

Ms. Fish suggested travelers consider popular beach and mountain destinations throughout the United States, or places that are “typically associated with summer vacation.” And those always-popular international destinations, like London and Paris, have lower fares as well (though the price drops are not so stark).

[Here are eight destinations where you can stretch your summer beyond Labor Day.]

Of course, keep in mind that shoulder season months have their own spikes — typically around events or holidays.

In case of popular events, think about hitting a lesser-known destination, Ms. Killam recommended.

“One of our trending destinations for fall is Halle, Germany — a great alternative to Munich during Oktoberfest,” she said. “And Regina, Canada, which has some of the best and brightest fall foliage, is a great alternative to pricier New England foliage hot spots.”

Maintaining a degree of flexibility can be a boon in taking advantage of shoulder season travel, and, said Ms. Fish, is now easier than ever.

“Technology allows us to do jobs and stay connected even if ‘official’ lazy days of summer are over. Combine that with less-crowded destinations, even if it’s just for a weekend — it’s a delicious recipe for travel.”

52 PLACES AND MUCH, MUCH MORE Follow our 52 Places traveler, Sebastian Modak, on Instagram as he travels the world, and discover more Travel coverage by following us on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up for our Travel Dispatch newsletter: Each week you’ll receive tips on traveling smarter, stories on hot destinations and access to photos from all over the world.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/17/travel/travel-deals-shoulder-season.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

Relief for Children’s Migraine Headaches

The findings suggest to Dr. Hershey, “It’s not so much what we do but how we do it. We offer options: ‘Do headaches bother you enough to take a preventive medication every day?’ We give patients the choice, and the expectation of a response drives a clinically positive result.

“We can use that expectation clinically, telling patients they don’t have to be on medication very long. When the frequency of headaches declines to two or three times a month and the headaches go away in an hour, they can stop preventive medication and use an acute therapy to treat the headache when it occurs.”

Based on the results of the CHAMP trial, Dr. Christina L. Szperka, pediatric neurologist and director of the pediatric headache program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, suggests that clinicians first try a nutraceutical like magnesium or riboflavin (vitamin B2) to reduce headache frequency, along with lifestyle measures like staying well hydrated, eating regular meals, not skipping breakfast, getting enough sleep and getting some exercise.

She told NeurologyLive: “If the act of taking something like a pill every day and believing it is likely to help you and is part of what triggers the body’s response to heal itself, then we feel like it makes sense to think about using something that’s pretty harmless to start the process. If they don’t respond to those nutraceuticals, then that’s when we bring in the other prescription medications.”

Dr. Amy Gelfand, director of the child and adolescent headache program at the University of California, San Francisco, has found that taking melatonin along with riboflavin can also help to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Melatonin is the body’s natural sleep-inducing hormone and is available in pharmacies without a prescription.

“Too often kids and families are told nothing can be done about migraine,” Dr. Gelfand said. “That’s the wrong message. The kids who are being treated are doing really well.”

One often overlooked contributor to attacks of migraine is stress. Dr. Szperka told me, “Stress is a huge factor in migraine. Kids have told us, ‘If I’m worried about something, that’s when I have my headache.’ Kids today are under so much pressure to do well in school and in sports if they want to get into a good college. They push themselves and suffer. Sometimes the best suggestion to them is to ease up academically.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/07/well/live/relief-for-childrens-migraine-headaches.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

How to Avoid Being Fleeced When Using a Credit Card Overseas

“It is a complete scam,” said Alexander Bachuwa, a frequent traveler and consumer lawyer who practices in New York, lives in Puerto Rico and writes the Points of Life travel blog. He advises using a currency app on your phone to estimate charges instead.

Just say no to conversions. Always pay in the local currency for the lowest cost to you.

Check your receipt for unauthorized conversions

Often, you don’t get a chance to say no, despite Visa and Mastercard rules that say consumers must be offered a choice if a merchant does currency conversion.

The giveaway that you’ve been hit is when the charge slip lists an amount in your home currency with microscopic print that claims you gave consent.

In India, this maneuver is common at higher-end hotels, where a bill can easily run $1,000 and an extra 5 percent fee is $50.

When the J.W. Marriott in Kolkata initially charged a May stay in dollars despite my request to pay in rupees, a manager explained that the hotel’s systems were set up to automatically add the markup and do the conversion. To run the charge in rupees without the markup, she had to reprocess the payment on a special machine. (Marriott declined to comment, as did Hyatt, another chain where I have seen such automatic conversion frequently occur.)

Banks, which share the extra fees with merchants, appear to be complicit in this fee extraction. When a currency markup suddenly appeared last month on a charge slip from my Mumbai car service, the finance manager said that his Indian bank, Axis, had upgraded his swipe machines, added the fees without his knowledge and was keeping the money.

Axis, which was also the bank for the City Palace in Udaipur, said it offers merchants two types of swipe machines, including one that automatically adds a fee and converts the charge to the customer’s home currency. With that machine, if the customer insists on paying in rupees, the clerk has to go through a convoluted process to redo the transaction.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/01/travel/overseas-credit-card-fees.html?emc=rss&partner=rss