Bring Some Magic to Your Next Zoom Meeting With These Harry Potter Backgrounds

Video-chatting is a little like chatting by Floo Powder (minus all the soot).
Video-chatting is a little like chatting by Floo Powder (minus all the soot).
Christian Wagner, Unsplash

While Harry Potter definitely never jumped on a Zoom call with his classmates, video-chatting technology does have some similarities to communicating via Floo Powder, portrait-hopping, or Sirius Black’s mysterious mirrors. To make your next Zoom meeting feel a little more magical, why not switch your background to one of your favorite Wizarding World locales?

As Screen Rant reports, some particularly kindhearted Twitter users have offered up their own personal photos of Harry Potter film sets as potential backgrounds for fellow fans. “Socially distant dave” (@ddryan), for example, shared snapshots taken during a Warner Bros. studio tour in London; there’s an image of Dumbledore’s eccentric office with the Sorting Hat perched on its usual shelf, a view of Diagon Alley that features Ollivanders, Flourish & Blotts, the eye-catching Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, and more.

There are also plenty of photos people have taken at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or other Harry Potter-themed locations and posted them to image-sharing sites like Unsplash and Flickr, and many of them are available to use if you credit the owner. From the Weasleys’s cozy Burrow to the (possibly even cozier) Gryffindor common room, below are several of our favorites.

And for directions on how to change your Zoom background—plus some other pop culture images to use—head here.

1. The Burrow

the burrow wizarding world of harry potter
Yes, the jumper is knitting itself.
Tony Hisgett, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When your Zoom call is over, you can help the Weasleys de-gnome the garden before dinner.

2. The Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom

wizarding world of harry potter defense against the dark arts classroom
There's a grindylow in a tank just out of frame.
Norm Lanier, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Professor Lupin is off hunting for a Boggart to use for Dementor practice later this evening, and he’s given you permission to use his empty classroom to video-chat with your classmates in the meantime.

3. Honeydukes

wizarding world of harry potter honeydukes
Steer clear of the Cockroach Clusters.

Stock up on Sugar Quills, Fizzing Whizzbees, and a nice big bar of Honeydukes’s classic chocolate before your late morning meeting, in case it cuts into your lunch hour.

4. Platform 9 ¾

king's cross station platform 9 3/4 in london
Best do it at a bit of a run, if you're nervous.
Sarah Ehlers, Unsplash

You can squeeze in a quick Zoom touch-base with your team before you head through the barrier, but don’t lose track of the time—the Hogwarts Express departs precisely at 11:00 a.m., and it waits for no one.

5. The Gryffindor common room

harry potter studio tour gryffindor common room
Drop a Dungbomb if you need to clear the common room for a private video-chat.
Orangeaurochs, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Afternoon all booked up with back-to-back video calls? Nab an armchair by the fire—they’re extra squashy.

6. Hogwarts Castle

hogwarts castle wizarding world of harry potter
Bright sky, but not too sunny—perfect Quidditch conditions.
Christian Wagner, Unsplash

This sweeping view of the beautiful Hogwarts castle just might convince you to start re-reading the entire Harry Potter series as soon as your last Zoom call of the week is over.

[h/t Screen Rant]

13 Father's Day Gifts for Geeky Dads

Amazon/Otterbox/Toynk
Amazon/Otterbox/Toynk

When in doubt, you play the hits. Watches, flasks, and ties are all tried-and-true Father’s Day gifts—useful items bought en masse every June as the paternal holiday draws near. Here’s a list of goodies that put a geeky spin on those can’t-fail gifts. We’re talking Zelda flasks, wizard-shaped party mugs, and a timepiece inspired by BBC’s greatest sci-fi series, Doctor Who. Light the “dad” signal ‘cause it’s about to get nerdy!

1. Lord of the Rings Geeki Tikis (Set of Three); $76

'Lord of The Rings' themed tiki cups.
Toynk

If your dad’s equally crazy about outdoor shindigs and Tolkien’s Middle-earth, help him throw his own Lothlórien luau with these Tiki-style ceramic mugs shaped like icons from the Lord of the Rings saga. Gollum and Frodo’s drinkware doppelgängers each hold 14 ounces of liquid, while Gandalf the Grey’s holds 18—but a wizard never brags, right? Star Wars editions are also available.

Buy it: Toynk

2. Space Invaders Cufflinks; $9

'Space Invaders' cufflinks on Amazon
Fifty 50/Amazon

Arcade games come and arcade games go, but Space Invaders has withstood the test of time. Now Pops can bring those pixelated aliens to the boardroom—and look darn stylish doing it.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Legend of Zelda Flask; $18

A 'Legend of Zelda' flask
Toynk

Saving princesses is thirsty work. Shaped like an NES cartridge, this Zelda-themed flask boasts an 8-ounce holding capacity and comes with a reusable straw. Plus, it makes a fun little display item for gamer dads with man caves.

Buy it: Toynk

4. AT-AT Family Vacation Bag Tag; $12

An At-At baggage tag
ShopDisney

Widely considered one of the greatest movie sequels ever made, The Empire Strikes Back throws a powerful new threat at Luke Skywalker and the Rebellion: the AT-AT a.k.a. Imperial Walkers. Now your dad can mark his luggage with a personalized tag bearing the war machine’s likeness.

Buy it: ShopDisney

5. Flash Skinny Tie; $17

A skinny Flash-themed tie
Uyoung/Amazon

We’ll let you know if the Justice League starts selling new memberships, but here’s the next best thing. Available in a rainbow of super-heroic colors, this skinny necktie bears the Flash’s lightning bolt logo. Race on over to Amazon and pick one up today.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Captain America Shield Apron; $20

A Captain America themed apron
Toynk

Why let DC fans have all the fun? Daddy-o can channel his inner Steve Rogers when he flips burgers at your family’s Fourth of July BBQ. Measuring 31.5 inches long by 27.5 inches wide, this apron’s guaranteed to keep the cookout Hydra-free.

Buy it: Toynk

7. Doctor Who Vortex Manipulator LCD Leather Wristwatch; $35

A Doctor Who-themed watch
Toynk

At once classy and geeky, this digital timepiece lovingly recreates one of Doctor Who’s signature props. Unlike some of the gadgets worn on the long-running sci-fi series, it won’t require any fancy chronoplasm fuel.

Buy it: Toynk

8. Wonder Woman 3-Piece Grill Set; $21

Wonder Woman three-piece gill set
Toynk

At one point in her decades-long comic book career, this Amazon Princess found herself working at a fast food restaurant called Taco Whiz. Now grill cooks can pay tribute to the heroine with these high-quality, stainless steel utensils. The set’s comprised of wide-tipped tongs, a BBQ fork, and a spatula, with the latter boasting Wonder Woman’s insignia.

Buy it: Toynk

9. Harry Potter Toon Tumbler; $10

Glassware that's Harry Potter themed
Entertainment Earth

You can never have too many pint glasses—and this Father’s Day, dad can knock one back for the boy who lived. This piece of Potter glassware from PopFun has whimsy to spare. Now who’s up for some butterbeer?

Buy it: EntertainmentEarth

10. House Stark Men’s Wallet; $16

A Game of Thrones themed watch
Toynk

Winter’s no longer coming, but the Stark family's propensity for bold fashion choices can never die. Manufactured with both inside and outside pockets, this direwolf-inspired wallet is the perfect place to store your cards, cash, and ID.

Buy it: Toynk

11. Mr. Incredible “Incredible Dad” Mug, $15

An Incredibles themed mug
ShopDisney

Cue the brass music. Grabbing some coffee with a Pixar superhero sounds like an awesome—or dare we say, incredible?—way for your dad to start his day. Mom can join in the fun, too: Disney also sells a Mrs. Incredible version of the mug.

Buy it: ShopDisney

12. Star Wars phone cases from Otterbox; $46-$56

Star Wars phone cases from OtterBox.
Otterbox

If your dad’s looking for a phone case to show off his love of all things Star Wars, head to Otterbox. Whether he’s into the Dark Side with Darth Vader and Kylo Ren, the droids, Chewbacca, or Boba Fett, you’ll be able to find a phone case to fit his preference. The designs are available for both Samsung and Apple products, and you can check them all out here.

Buy it: Otterbox

13. 3D Puzzles; $50

3D Harry Potter puzzle from Amazon.
Wrebbit 3D

Help dad recreate some of his favorite fictional locations with these 3D puzzles from Wrebbit 3D. The real standouts are the 850-piece model of Hogwarts's Great Hall and the 910-piece version of Winterfell from Game of Thrones. If dad's tastes are more in line with public broadcasting, you could also pick him up an 890-piece Downton Abbey puzzle to bring a little upper-crust elegance to the homestead.

Buy it: Hogwarts (Amazon), Winterfell (Amazon), Downton Abbey (Amazon)

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How to Brew Your Own Fluorescent Beer at Home

The Odin
The Odin

If you're one of the many people who made their own sourdough starter in quarantine, you already know yeast is a living thing. That means its biological makeup can be tweaked using genetic engineering. As Gizmodo reports, that's exactly what a former NASA biologist has done to create his new fluorescent yeast kits.

A few years ago, Josiah Zayner left his job as a synthetic biologist for NASA to found The Odin, a company that lets anyone experiment with genetic science at home. His recently launched yeast kit accomplishes this in an eye-catching way. Thanks to a fluorescent protein from jellyfish, yeast that's been genetically modified with the kit glows green under a black or blue light.

Despite looking like a prop from a sci-fi film, the yeast is still yeast. That means it can be used in home-brewing projects if you want to take the science experiment a step further. According to Eater, yeast made with the kit ferments and fluoresces when added to honey and water. If you brew a batch of beer with the right amount of yeast, the final product will emit an otherworldly glow when viewed under a blacklight. The kit hasn't been FDA approved, but the company states the materials are nontoxic and nonallergenic, and beer made with it will still taste like beer.

You can purchase a fluorescent yeast kit from The Odin's online shop for $169. If you're looking for more ways to experiment with genetic technology at home, the company also sells kits that let you play with frog and bacteria DNA.

[h/t Gizmodo]