You have a right to record the police

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A suburb of St. Louis, Missouri has been under a dramatic siege since Saturday, when a police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown. In the wake of the killing, protests have engulfed the community — drawing a heavy-handed police crackdown with St. Louis County Police officers armed with assault weapons and outfitted with military equipment. Many of the striking images have come from reporters on the front lines, but also from citizens holding nothing more than their smartphones.

Tonight, around 10PM ET, a St. Louis County Police line demanded that a crowd of protesters turn off their cameras. Minutes earlier, the police had ordered what appeared to be a peaceful crowd to disperse, firing smoke grenades…

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‘Street Fighter’ combos are so much cooler without the fancy camerawork

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Why should you spend 14 minutes watching every single Ultra combo from Ultra Street Fighter IV? Because thanks to some tweaking by YouTube video-maker moo422, you’re seeing all the action — not just the cinematic close-ups you get while playing the game. Get an unvarnished, no-holds-barred look at the gritty world of competitive supernatural street fighting, where characters flicker in and out of existence for repeat shots, slam hard into thin air, and conjure up props from nowhere.

It’s actually more fascinating to watch the way that different fighters’ complicated Ultra moves spread out, unobscured, across the stage. If you just want to see what the martial arts style of your favorite character looks like without the game’s normal…

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Intel wants to track Parkinson’s patients using wearables

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It’s not hard to find a wearable device that can track your activity at all hours of the day, but aggregating that data from large groups of people has proven to be a more difficult task. So much so that a number of big technology companies including Apple, Samsung, and Google are now trying to help people harness data into something meaningful. Now you can add Intel to the list. Today the company announced a partnership with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research that aims to track and analyze those with Parkinson’s disease using wearable devices. The hope is to better monitor patterns and pick up on symptoms while potentially shedding more light on the disease to work on a cure.

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Humans are starting to look like horses right before the Model T

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Are robots coming for your job? Experts are divided, and opinions range from cheery placidity to paralyzing fear. YouTube user CGP Grey, in a new video, makes an effective case for the latter.

Robots are already replacing jobs in every sector, he says, an argument that’s been made before. More importantly, he pops a hole in inflated economic optimism. “Better technology makes more better jobs for horses” sounded like a reasonable phrase right until Henry Ford started pumping out Model Ts, and yet, replace “horses” with “humans” and you have an argument that’s being made right now.

The video may be too pessimistic by the end, but the thesis still stands. Should we be afraid of robots stealing our jobs? If we’re unprepared, then yes.

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Verge hack week is coming!

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It’s going to be bonkers.

Here’s the scoop: next week (August 18-22) we’re going to totally blow up The Verge and let Vox Media’s insanely-talented product team take over. Dieter and I will be covering breaking news, which will be hilarious and wonderful, and we’ll have a series of guest posts about The Future from ridiculously smart people across the whole of Vox Media…

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A look at the Jedi beard ‘contractually’ forced onto Mark Hamill’s face

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As you may be aware, there is a new Star Wars movie coming out, which will feature Mark Hamill reprising his role as Luke Skywalker. For that role, Hamill has grown an appropriately wise Jedi beard, one that is, possibly, written into his contract. “It’s really about the new generation of characters,” Hamill told the BBC. “We’re just there to lend our support, and grow contractually obligated beards.” Hamill was either kidding, or furiously blinking out help me in Morse code. It is unclear which.

Above, we have a new photo of the hirsute Hamill on set, posted online by his son, Nathan Hamill. But does the contract simply require him to grow the beard, or does it require him to live on set, working punishing 20-hour days until the film’s…

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How Shark Week screws scientists

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Discovery’s Shark Week reached an important milestone this week: it hit an all-time ratings high, which the network partially attributes to an increase in female viewership. But instead of receiving acclaim, Discovery is getting pummeled by the media. A sample of recent headlines include “Shark Week is once again making things up,” “Shark Week isn’t just misguided, it’s downright dangerous,” and “More Sharknado than Science.” Of course, this isn’t the first time Shark Week has experienced backlash for its negative portrayal of sharks and its tendency to rely on fiction rather than fact, as last year’s Megalodon documentary was widely trashed for suggesting that extinct sharks still roam Earth’s waters.

But this year feels different,…

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The best Chromebook you can buy

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For some things, you need an expensive computer. But most people don’t do those things. If you’re not trying to play games or run Photoshop, if all you want is a computer that’s great for watching Netflix and keeping tabs on your email, you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a good-looking, fast computer with all-day battery life. Just buy a Chromebook.

Google’s Chrome OS picks its compromises cleverly. Chromebooks aren’t the most capable of laptops; they’re not able to run Photoshop at…

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Remember your loved ones with a gravestone QR code

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One day, perhaps, we’ll have holograms that appear when we go to the pay our respects at the graves of departed loved ones. They’ll show up like a message from Princess Leia, say hello, and disappear after comforting the visitors. Until then, we have a stopgap technology: QR codes.

Easily one of the most maligned inventions in recent years, you can still find the humble black-and-white squares everywhere. That includes cemeteries, as the Anchorage city council has voted to let families place the codes on the local columbarium wall.

For $150, families can see off their loved ones with an interactive obituary hosted online by Quiring Monuments, which explains the process in a promotional video called “Living Headstones® – QR Codes Turn…

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You can stream Michael Cera’s folk album now

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If there’s one actor who would make a lo-fi indie folk album, that actor would surely be Michael Cera, who’s not only acted in lo-fi indie films like Juno and Paper Heart, but also helped out on projects for bands like Weezer. What’s more surprising is that the album, True That, is pretty good: the mostly acoustic, instrumental tunes are definitely folk, but you can detect some jazzy influences. Strangely, the album was announced by Jonah Hill on Twitter; Cera hasn’t said anything about the project yet. Hopefully he’ll do a Scott Pilgrim-themed punk album next.

You can stream the album below, or download it for $7 here.

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Microsoft turns Bing search results into conversations

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Microsoft is rolling out a new feature to its Bing search engine today: conversations. It’s not quite the Cortana digital assistant just yet, but if you search for queries like “who is the president of the United States?” you can follow up that search result with “how old is he?” to quickly get Barack Obama’s age. Bing will maintain the context through search queries to provide a conversation-like feature.

Cortana has similar follow-on search features, as does Google Now, but these are largely contained to mobile platforms. Bing’s update for its desktop search version is part of Microsoft’s continued efforts to leverage the company’s search work as a platform across all of its services and apps. The conversation feature might be a good…

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Can you own a language?

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In its first-ever transparency report, the Wikimedia Foundation revealed a handful of odd stories about takedown requests sent to Wikipedia. Among the claims on public-domain books and monkey selfies was a curious request from 2012: that Wikipedia remove a page on the Tasmanian language palawa kani, because an aboriginal resources center owned the rights to the language itself.

Wikipedia rejected the request, warning that shutting down discussion and use of a language “would have chilled…

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NSA was responsible for 2012 Syrian internet blackout, Snowden says

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When Syria’s access to the internet was cut for two days back in 2012, it apparently wasn’t the fault of dissenting “terrorists,” as the Syrian government claimed: according to Wired, it was the fault of the US government. In a long profile of Edward Snowden published today, Wired writes what Snowden says is the truth about the internet outage. An elite hacking unit in the National Security Agency had reportedly been attempting to install malware on a central router within Syria — a feat that would have allowed the agency to access a good amount of the country’s internet traffic. Instead, it ended up accidentally rendered the router unusable, causing Syria’s internet connection to go dark.

The NSA reportedly attempted to repair the…

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Ariana Grande’s new ‘Break Free’ music video is a trippy sci-fi romp

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“What you are about to witness is scientifically authentic. It is just one step ahead of present day reality and two steps ahead of present day sexiness. Brace yourself for something so fantastically fantastical you’ll soil yourself from intergalactic excitement.”

And so begins the music video for Ariana Grande’s “Break Free,” produced by (and featuring) electronic artist Zedd. It’s a mishmash of campy science fiction like Flash Gordon (Ming the Merciless) and Barbarella (a zero gravity undressing scene), plus giant robots, lava pits, and oddly-placed rocket launchers (c.f. Katy Perry). It all culminates with a dance party on the helm of an escaping spaceship. The party, of course, is sponsored by Beats.

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Steve Ballmer is taking on the NRA in Washington state

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The big news about former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer this week was his purchase of the Clippers for $2 billion, but it appears he’s dipped into the coffers recently for political activism, too. According to newly released financial disclosures, Ballmer and his wife, Connie, have poured $580,000 into gun control efforts in Washington state.

The initiative has raised about $3.4 million

Following the Sandy Hook shootings, gun control advocates proposed a ballot initiative to close loopholes that allow for background check-free purchases of firearms, if the purchases are made online or at gun shows. Because of Ballmer — and other ex-Microsoft bigshots including Bill Gates and Jon Shirley, who have made smaller donations — the initiative…

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Someone actually tried to use Siri to hide a body

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Someone seems to have actually asked Siri how to hide a body, and meant it. The Independent reports that 20-year-old murder suspect Pedro Bravo had told his iPhone, “I need to my hide my roommate.” The accused reportedly committed the crime following an argument with Christian Aguilar, who was dating Bravo’s ex-girlfriend.

US authorities also discovered location data contradicting the suspect’s testimony in regards to his location during the time of the incident. Additionally, it was determined that Bravo used his phone’s flash light nine times. The Independent cites police as saying Bravo used the function while attempting to conceal the deceased’s body. Apple’s “intelligent assistant” Siri is meant to assist users with some basic…

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Stop being a tourist

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Look at these idiots. Oblivious, naïve, and probably American. Even their execution of the quintessential holding-up-the-leaning-tower-of-Pisa pose is deeply flawed. Are they aware of the history? Of the architectural miasma that hangs in the air like the smell of stale Coppertone? No, no they aren’t. They’re tourists and they suck.

Serendipity has forsaken them. No luck, no providence, no happy accidents. Chance replaced by the resolute certainty of a travel app. Every cobblestone is…

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Samsung ditches all-plastic design with metal Galaxy Alpha

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After much speculation, Samsung has today announced the Galaxy Alpha, a smartphone with a metal frame. The Alpha is an ultra-thin (6.7mm) Android phone with a 4.7-inch 720p display, 12-megapixel camera, a fairly small 1,860mAh battery, and (depending on your region) a quad- or octa-core processor. It’ll be available in September, but Samsung has yet to announce pricing.

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