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National Park Booking App Leaves Users Feeling Lost in the Woods

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The public finds the system “very confusing,” said Linda Devlin, executive director of the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau, one of the co-signers of the U.S. Travel letter. “If they want to rent a cabin at Red Bridge on the Allegheny National Forest, they have to go through multiple pages to first find the Allegheny National Forest, then the right campground, then the cabins. It is not a user-friendly system.”

Versions of a reservation system have existed online for decades, as parks have attempted to prevent traffic and overcrowding. In 2018, the consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton took over management of the online booking, spurring hope for improvements, including real-time updates and a more usable interface. The new version of Recreation.gov was a step up from the previous model, but was ill prepared over the past two years to handle the major uptick of pandemic-driven users. It didn’t help alleviate the confusion caused by changing requirements from the parks as they attempted to cope with pandemic restrictions and record-breaking crowds.

As a frequent traveler to national parks, Kelsey Falkowski believes that a reservation system is important in helping to prevent overcrowding. Mr. Falkowski, a high school social studies teacher from Vernon, N.J., has been traveling to national parks with his brother and sister for the past six years, usually visiting two or three parks per trip. He has not encountered major issues using Recreation.gov.

“It really comes down to research,” he said. “We start planning about a year in advance, and my brother will put together a 50-page itinerary for a trip. We’ll go on Facebook pages, Instagram accounts for the national parks, just to make sure we’re not missing anything.”

In addition to a high-speed internet connection, accessing and booking on recreation.gov needs a level of computer literacy that not all travelers may have (speaking of tech, issues of campsite-snatching bots and third-party sites have plagued recreation.gov for years).

Last December, months into her search for campsites, Ms. Prado was able to book one campsite for three nights in Glacier, a far shorter period than she was hoping to spend in the park. As for the rest, she decided she would have to play it by ear.

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The Nintendo Switch is on sale with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for just $299.99

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The holidays (excluding Black Friday) are truly a time to show a little extra compassion and empathy toward our fellow humans, but if you feel the need to use that blue shell, don’t hesitate. Right now, multiple retailers still have an excellent Nintendo Switch bundle that includes a digital copy of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, a three-month individual membership to Nintendo Switch Online, and a standard Nintendo Switch. Normally, the combined price of everything included in this bundle would cost roughly $368, but it’s currently available at Walmart, Target, and Best Buy for just $299.99.

The benefits of a Nintendo Switch Online subscription are a little less obvious. In addition to letting you compete online against other players in games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Splatoon 3, an individual membership allows you to store your saved games in the cloud and provides access to exclusive discounts in the Nintendo eShop. However, the coolest benefit is that it grants you unlimited access to a growing library of classic NES and SNES titles, including Super Metroid, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Starfox, just to name a few.

If you do decide to pick up Nintendo’s discounted bundle this weekend, there are a handful of accessories we’d recommend for your new handheld, some of which are even currently on sale in the run-up to Cyber Monday.

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A Twitter executive got a court injunction to prevent Elon Musk from firing her

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Sinead McSweeney, Twitter’s Ireland-based global vice president of public policy, secured a temporary injunction from the High Court of Dublin to prevent her from getting fired, according to a report from The Irish Times. McSweeney claims she was locked out of her work accounts and Twitter’s Dublin office after not responding to the email Elon Musk sent to employees, which asked workers to reply “yes” to commit to Twitter’s “extremely hardcore” culture, or otherwise leave.

Musk sent out the email shortly after his Twitter takeover on November 16th, and gave employees a little over a day to confirm whether they wanted to stay at the company. If an employee didn’t click “yes” on the form included in the email, Twitter said it would “treat that as a resignation,” and then provide two months’ worth of payroll with benefits, along with one month of severance pay.

But McSweeney says she didn’t hit “yes.” According to The Times, McSweeney never replied to the email because it didn’t outline Musk’s expectations for employees who decided to stay, and the severance package didn’t meet her “contractual entitlements.” McSweeney later received an email confirming her “voluntary resignation” on November 18th.

While Twitter’s lawyers reportedly acknowledged that McSweeney wants to stay at the company and said they would restore access to her accounts, The Times reports that McSweeney’s still locked out and unable to work. Justice Brian O’Moore granted McSweeney the injunction on Friday, which prevents Twitter from firing her but doesn’t reinstate her employment. The court will revisit her case next week.

McSweeney isn’t the only Twitter executive to face uncertainty about their employment. After Robin Wheeler, Twitter’s former head of ad sales resigned earlier this month, Musk convinced her to stay, but then ended up firing her anyway. McSweeney similarly says she’s been getting “mixed messages” from Musk and that he’s been firing and rehiring employees “with no apparent logic.”

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The best Black Friday deals on smartwatches and fitness trackers

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Picking a smartwatch or fitness tracker can be daunting. There are dozens of factors to consider, such as style, durability, connectivity options, battery life, and the types of metrics tracked. Plus, there are enough models to make your head spin. With all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, it can be hard to know what’s worth it and what isn’t.

No worries. We’ve picked out the best deals so you don’t have to. They’re separated into three categories: smartwatches, multisport watches (for your hardcore athletes), and fitness trackers.

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