For the First Time in 40 Years, Rome's Colosseum Will Open Its Top Floor to the Public

iStock
iStock

The Colosseum’s nosebleed seats likely didn’t provide plebeians with great views of gladiatorial contests and other garish spectacles. But starting in November, they’ll give modern-day tourists a bird's-eye look at one of the world’s most famous ancient wonders, according to The Telegraph.

The tiered amphitheater’s fifth and final level will be opened up to visitors for the first time in several decades, following a multi-year effort to clean, strengthen, and restore the crumbling attraction. Tour guides will lead groups of up to 25 people to the stadium’s far-flung reaches, and through a connecting corridor that’s never been opened to the public. (It contains the vestiges of six Roman toilets, according to The Local.) At the summit, which hovers around 130 feet above the gladiator pit below, tourists will get a rare glimpse at the stadium’s sloping galleries, and of the nearby Forum and Palatine Hill.

In ancient Rome, the Colosseum’s best seats were marble benches that lined the amphitheater’s bottom level. These were reserved for senators, emperors, and other important parties. Imperial functionaries occupied the second level, followed by middle-class spectators, who sat behind them. Traders, merchants, and shopkeepers enjoyed the show from the fourth row, and the very top reaches were left to commoners, who had to clamber over steep stairs and through dark tunnels to reach their sky-high perches.

Beginning November 1, 2017, visitors will be able to book guided trips to the Colosseum’s top levels. Reservations are required, and the tour will cost around $11, on top of the normal $14 admission cost. (Gladiator fights, thankfully, are not included.)

[h/t The Telegraph]

Why You Should Never Charge Your Phone in Public USB Ports Without a USB Data Blocker

Creative-Family/iStock via Getty Images
Creative-Family/iStock via Getty Images

The USB charging ports that have popped up at airports, coffee shops, and even outdoor stations around cities in recent years are definitely a lifesaver when your smartphone is down to its last bit of juice. A dead phone is annoying at best and downright dangerous at worst, so it’s totally understandable why you’d jump at the chance to revive it at your earliest opportunity.

However, those public ports might not be as benevolent as they seem. According to Afar, hackers can load malware onto those stations—or on the cables left plugged into the stations—which can then deliver passwords and other data right from your device to the hacker’s. If you have used a public port recently, don’t panic; TechCrunch reports that these cases are fairly rare. Having said that, it’s definitely better not to risk it, especially considering what a nightmare it would be to have your identity stolen.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office explains that the easiest way to prevent becoming a victim of this type of scam, often referred to as juice-jacking, is simply to abstain from using public USB charging ports. Instead, invest in a portable charger, or plug your own charger into an actual AC power outlet.

But unoccupied power outlets are notoriously hard to come by in public places, and portable chargers themselves can also run out of battery life. Luckily, there’s a small, inexpensive device called a data blocker that will enable you to use public USB charging ports without worrying about juice-jacking. It looks a little like a flash drive with an extra slot, but it lacks the two wires usually found in USB chargers that can download and upload data. That way, your device will charge without transferring any information.

You can get two of them for $11 from Amazon here.

[h/t Afar]

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Pitch Your Novel Idea on Twitter and You Could Win a Writer's Retreat in the British Countryside

Nomadsoul1/iStock via Getty Images
Nomadsoul1/iStock via Getty Images

Social media is usually a distraction for writers working on their novel, but in 2020, it could be a gateway to quiet and solitude. HolidayCottages.co.uk, a UK-based vacation rental site with a focus on quaint accommodations, is offering one novelist a free writer's retreat. All they have to do to enter is summarize their book in a tweet.

Whether you have an idea for a new novel or you're in the middle of writing one, you can pitch your story using the hashtag #WriTweet. The pitch has to be engaging enough to catch the attention of the competition's judge and brief enough to fit Twitter's 280-character limit. Elizabeth Macneal, writer of the book The Doll Factory, will read one entry per candidate and choose a winner.

The person with the best tweet will be treated to a week-long writer's retreat at their choice of three cottages. The options include cozy homes in the countrysides of East Sussex, England; Carmarthenshire, Wales; and East Scotland. At the end of the writer's stay, Macneal will provide feedback on up to 10,000 words of what they've written so far.

If you're interested in applying, you can pitch your story on Twitter using the hashtag #WriTweet before midnight on January 24, 2020. The winner will be contacted within 28 days of the contest deadline. Looking for inspiration? Here are some creative ways novelists have used Twitter as a medium in the past.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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