Building a better Paris in ‘Assassin’s Creed Unity’

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It took 182 years to build the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, starting with the first bricks in 1163. For Caroline Miousse, a level artist on Assassin’s Creed Unity, building a virtual likeness centuries later took considerably less time — she spent around two years modelling the landmark inside and out. “I made some other stuff in the game,” she says, “but 80 percent of my time was spent on the Notre Dame.”

Like previous games in the series, the star of the next Assassin’s Creed is its…

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Starbucks will begin delivering coffee next year

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Starbucks will begin delivering coffee and food in select markets next year, as part of its push to expand into e-commerce. CEO Howard Schultz revealed the company’s plans during its quarterly earnings conference call yesterday, saying that the delivery service will be available to loyalty program members through a new Mobile Order and Pay app debuting later this year.

“Imagine the ability to create a standing order of Starbucks delivered hot to your desk daily,” Schultz said. “That’s our version of e-commerce on steroids.”

Matt Ryan, Starbucks’ global chief strategy officer, added that the delivery program is still in its “early days,” though the company is “moving full speed ahead” with plans to introduce it during the second half of…

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Mass protests convince Hungarian government to drop internet tax plans

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Hungary has decided to suspend a controversial plan to tax internet data transfers, after the proposed policy sparked large protests earlier this week. As Reuters reports, Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced told Hungarian media today that the so-called internet tax will be withdrawn from the country’s draft budget, and that a tax on money earned online will be revisited next year.

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Sony replaces mobile chief and slashes smartphone sales forecast

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Sony’s attempt to become a major player in mobile has hit another speed bump. The company now expects to ship 41 million smartphones in its current fiscal year — that’s down from a forecast of 43 million units in July, which was itself a cut from the 50 million projected in April. Although Sony’s mobile division brought in ¥308.4 billion ($2.83 billion) in revenue from July to September, around a 1.2 percent increase on a year ago, the company is writing down ¥176 billion yen of the business’ value.

Kunimasa Suzuki, the president and CEO of Sony Mobile since April 2012, has been replaced by Hiroki Totoki, until now a senior VP in charge of corporate planning. Suzuki will become executive VP at Sony Entertainment and move to a group…

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The Vergecast 125: I have 23 children

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The hype meter is off the charts this week. The sweat is real. This Vergecast is beef, not bust. Our hosts Nilay Patel, Chris Plante, and The Verge’s social beast Sam Sheffer begin the hour with a reflection on various motorized death machines and enormous phones. Then David Pierce steps in to discuss super heroes, Apple Pay vs. CurrentC, Microsoft’s fitness band, and Chris’s alarming misunderstanding of contraception. Join us, won’t you?

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Mark Zuckerberg will answer your questions for one hour next week

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Mark Zuckerberg’s not afraid of you, internet. The Facebook CEO has announced that he’ll participate in a public Q&A session next Thursday afternoon, answering questions submitted and voted on by the social network’s own users. Facebook holds its own internal Q&A each Friday, according to Zuckerberg, a forum that gives employees a frequent opportunity to ask the CEO anything they’d like. “People ask thoughtful questions about why our company is going in certain directions, what I think about things happening in the world, and how we can continue improving our services for everyone,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook wall today. “I learn a lot from these Q&As, and the questions people ask help us build better services.”

Now he wants to…

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Why Twitter’s new head of product could be the one to fix it

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Even in an industry where things move quickly, 2014 has seen a dizzying amount of change for Twitter. In the last 10 months, Twitter has lost: its chief operating officer, its chief financial officer, its head of product, its head of news, and (just this week) its head of engineering. Then today came another twist: the company promoted Kevin Weil, its head of revenue products, to oversee the entire product organization. That means that Daniel Graf, the former Google Maps executive who Twitter hired away with some fanfare six months ago, has effectively been demoted.

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MSI is putting a legitimate mechanical keyboard in a laptop

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Gaming laptops are prone to wild designs, and the newest one from MSI — called the GT80 Titan — is no exception. The massive 18-inch laptop was announced today and its most notable feature is a mechanical QWERTY keyboard made by Cherry, a company that has been making mechanical keyboards for almost 50 years.

Instead of the typical chiclet keys found on most current laptops, the GT80 Titan will feature Cherry’s MX Red keys, which are actually well-suited for gaming thanks to the way they’re built (light with quick actuation). They keyboard will still add weight, but for mechanical keyboard devotees it’s probably an easy trade-off — especially considering that it’s a huge laptop in the first place.

MSI hasn’t…

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See every Apple product ever made on one poster

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It’s maybe not as iconic as a blacklight Led Zeppelin poster, or this cat parading as an actual sandwich, but Pop Chart Lab has a freshly updated version of its history of Apple products poster. It goes all the way back to 1976, when the company was making the Apple I, and includes everything since then for a grand total of 534 products on a single page. New in this version are recently released products like the iMac with Retina display and iPad Air 2, as well as upcoming products like the Apple Watch.

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Seth Rogen may play Steve Wozniak alongside Christian Bale as Steve Jobs

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Not only has the upcoming Steve Jobs biopic likely found an actor to play Jobs, it may have found an actor to play Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak too: according to The Wrap, Seth Rogen is being considered for the role. Variety reports more definitely that he’s actually set to play it. Rogen would be acting alongside Christian Bale, who is reported to have taken the part of Jobs. Danny Boyle, who made Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, is directing based on a script by Aaron Sorkin. Jessica Chastain is also reported to be under consideration for a part, though it isn’t known who she would be playing.

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Thank you, Tim Cook

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In a way, what Tim Cook said today felt inevitable. At least since 2008, when Owen Thomas asked the question in Gawker, a steady accretion of reporting has suggested Apple’s chief executive is gay. By 2011, Cook’s sexual orientation was a matter of regular discussion in the media, with gay magazine Out putting him on the top of its gay power rankings. And since becoming Apple CEO, Cook has inched toward making a more public statement about his private life: making suggestive speeches about “human rights,” for example, and leading Apple’s opposition to antigay legislation around the country.

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South Park does drones, #TheFappening, and Ferguson all in one episode

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What happens if a drone enthusiast leaves his quadcopter unattended and his son’s friends use it to spy on the neighbors? Many big, sweeping issues have been addressed as the popularity of personal drones has skyrocketed in the last year, but more specific ones like this have so far gone largely unexplored. Leave it to South Park take up the call.

Last night’s episode begins with Butters filming birds using the “Specter 2.0” quadcopter — South Park’s version of the DJI Phantom 2. Cartman excitedly convinces him (“We could spy on everyone!”) that they should use it to poke around the private lives of their neighbors — because, according to him, “that’s all drones are for.” Eventually the kids post a video to the internet of their…

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A gold Moto 360 is coming soon, according to Amazon

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Motorola hasn’t announced the champagne gold Moto 360 seen above yet, but Amazon accidentally revealed it to the world early this morning. The listing has since been pulled, but remains visible through cached pages. So it’s clear that Moto — now under Lenovo’s ownership — will soon offer a gold Moto 360 with a matching steel band. It’ll cost $299, which puts it right in line with other metal-band versions of the leading Android Wear smartwatch. And if the regular 23mm strap is too big for your liking, there will apparently be a smaller, 18mm option as well. The watch itself remains as big as ever, so this might not be the answer some were looking for to make the hulking 360 more manageable.

There’s also another leather strap color…

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A piece of Amelia Earhart’s plane has been found, researchers claim

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Researchers think they’ve finally found a piece of Amelia Earhart’s lost plane. An aluminum sheet, found in 1991 on Nikumaroro Island, might be the patch that once covered a window on Earhart’s plane, reports Discovery News. The finding, the researchers say, supports the idea that Earhart died from starvation on the island, 77 years ago.

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Google will have to pay publishers for aggregating news in Spain

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The fight between Google and news publishers is a story that’s been playing out for years. Publishers have argued that aggregation services — like Google News — are infringing on copyrighted material, while Google has said using pieces of news stories and linking to them is within the bounds of fair use. In Spain, there’s a new twist: the Spanish parliament has approved intellectual property laws that will allow publishers to charge aggregators for displaying news stories in search.

The law will go into effect on the first of next year, the Associated Press reports, but some details, like how much publishers will be able to charge, haven’t been decided. Spanish news publishers have been lobbying for the new IP laws, which are part of a…

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Samsung’s Gear S smartwatch coming to the US on November 7th

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Samsung’s Gear S smartwatch will launch in the United States on November 7th, the company announced today. All four major US carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile) will carry the device, and you’ll also be able to purchase it from Samsung’s store-in-a-store shops at Best Buy locations across the US. The Gear S will be available in black or white, but Samsung’s not revealing any pricing details; it’s leaving that task to the carriers. Just don’t expect the Gear S, with its built-in cellular radio and curved OLED screen, to come cheap.

T-Mobile has announced that it’ll retail for $349.92 at full cost. For reference, that’s $100 more than a Moto 360. Sprint’s charging even more, pricing the Tizen-based smartwatch at $384. Both…

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Metallica will play for a week on Craig Ferguson’s ‘Late Late Show’

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Craig Ferguson, host of the Late Late Show, announced he was leaving his gig for new horizons earlier this year. He’ll be getting a slightly unexpected — but amazing — musical send-off: Metallica says they’ll play a song on the show every night for a week to commemorate Ferguson’s time as host, Rolling Stone reports.

The band will sit down for an interview with Ferguson on November 17th, a Monday, and play through that Friday. (Ferguson will leave at an unannounced date in December.) Metallica does have something to promote — the 10th-anniversary re-release of the band’s classic Some Kind of Monster documentary will be released on November 24th — but drummer Lars Ulrich told Rolling Stone, “Nothing to sell, nothing to promote (except a…

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The kindest cut: my journey into the nether regions of male birth control

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The doctor gives my scrotum a firm tug, stretching the skin flat. “This is where I would punch the hole,” he explains. I wince, and he says, “I can assure you, it doesn’t hurt at all.” From there, he explains, it’s a simple process to extract and sever my vas deferens, the tiny tubes that carry my seed. Just to be safe, he’ll cauterize the cut ends before tying them back together, burning my baby-making apparatus into oblivion.

I’m in the office of Dr. Robert Nejat, getting a final…

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‘Game of Thrones’ stars sign for seventh season

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It looks like HBO wants a seventh season of Game of Thrones. The series has already been ordered through its sixth season, and now The Hollywood Reporter says that HBO has reworked its stars’ contracts to make sure that they’ll all be onboard should it order a seventh. And at this point, it seems highly unlikely that it wouldn’t — the show has been an enormous hit, and a seventh season would make the series run at least as long as the books are supposed to.

Game of Thrones‘ stars were only signed for six seasons, which made extending their contracts a must to keep the show going, according to the Reporter. Extending their contracts reportedly meant giving the biggest stars some big raises, but with the show’s unrivaled success, it’s…

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