TSA blocking uncharged mobile devices from flights at some international airports

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International travelers will have to make sure they charge all their devices before boarding their flights. In an announcement made Sunday, the TSA now plans on blocking flyers with uncharged phones and electronic devices at certain undisclosed airports in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. In addition to other forms of screening, passengers will need to prove their devices can actually turn on before flying.

According to NBC News, the new security measures are being made in an effort to stop an al Qaeda terror plot aimed at blowing up an airliner. Officials are reportedly concerned that a laptop, smartphone, or tablet might be used as a bomb. Passengers’ shoes will also be scrutinized at checkpoints. It’s assumed that the new…

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‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ on schedule after Harrison Ford injury, two cast members added

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Good news for Star Wars fans: the seventh film in the series is confirmed to be on track despite a leg injury sustained by Harrison Ford on set last month. On the film’s official blog, creators say that production will take a two week hiatus in August while the shooting schedule is adjusted to accommodate Ford’s injury. According to reports, Ford, 71, broke his leg last month on the door of the Millennium Falcon. In the blog post, producers say that “Harrison is doing well and is looking forward to returning to the set soon.”

In the meantime, principal photography is underway at Pinewood Studios in London after shooting wrapped up on location in Abu Dhabi this past May. Even with the two-week break, the film is still on track for its…

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Google gently tells users to blame ISPs for poor YouTube performance

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Google is now gently suggesting who users should blame when YouTube videos fail to stream smoothly. A new pop-up bar that reads “Experiencing interruptions? Find out why” is now showing under some YouTube videos when playback gets choppy. Clicking on the bar takes users to Google’s relatively new Video Quality Report page, which provides information on internet service providers, including details on video streaming performance. The page also offers a comparison between other ISPs in your area, and it ranks providers as either “HD Verified,” “Standard Definition,” or “Lower Definition” based on the average performance they achieve on YouTube. Quartz first reported on the new notice featured underneath YouTube videos.

The move is similar…

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Hospitals hope to predict illness by analyzing your spending habits

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Advertisers aren’t the only ones interested in your spending habits — hospitals and insurance companies are taking note as well. Carolinas HealthCare, which operates hundreds of healthcare facilities from hospitals to nursing homes and care centers throughout North and South Carolina, is purchasing transaction data and other information on its patients to try and get ahead of any medical problems, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

The data, including purchase history and information like car loans, is put through an algorithm that gives a risk score to patients. That score can then be shared with doctors. A representative from Carolinas HealthCare tells the magazine that it plans to start routinely giving those scores to healthcare…

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Super PAC to end all super PACs hits its $5 million funding goal

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A crowdfunded super PAC designed to end all super PACs has achieved its funding goal. The Mayday PAC raised $5 million from over 50,000 small contributions over the past couple of months. Added to the $5 million matching contribution it’s expecting and the $2 million it pulled in this past May, the political action committee should have the $12 million founder Lawrence Lessig said it’d need to wield influence in five key House races this year.

Lessig, a Harvard professor outspoken against the state of campaign finance in the US, said in a blog post that “this may be this movement’s most incredible moment so far.” He added, “We’ve got lots of ideas about how to make this work. We’ll be testing them and improving them and building lots…

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The Weekender: regarding EDM, exorcisms, and Independence Day

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Welcome back to The Weekender. Every Saturday morning, The Verge will give you something to do. This is where you’ll get the best of what we’ve written this week, but also a reason to get up and actually do something with your life — even if that something is dreaming of the far off places you might go.

Here’s a collection of some of our favorite pieces that you may have missed, along with a snapshot of the things you should be doing with your days off. Take some time this Fourth of July…

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This is the car you’d drive to explore national parks on Mars

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Brazilian designer Eduardo Galvani has put together renderings for a concept car he’s dubbed the “Nimbus.” It’s a bulbous, van-like hybrid that evokes the nostalgia we feel for the classic VW Microbus, but lives in a future world where car design is free to be whimsical — if not a little weird.

Galvani also imagined the features and the details of how the van would operate: a rear engine paired with an electric motor, big knobby semi-cross tires, a tablet-based center panel display, and of…

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Alaska’s bear cams are the best live show on the internet

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For the third consecuritve year, Katmai national park in Alaska will have several live webcams set up to broadcast video of the local brown bears. The bears, and the cameras that track them, have steadily grown in popularity since 2012, when the Annenberg Foundations’s Explore.org group first helped to set them up. As detailed by The Awl, much of that popularity came because nature lovers were able to do more than just watch giant mammals hunt fish — they were able to create a narrative about what was happening.

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Humans prefer an electric shock to being left alone with their thoughts

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The experiment was simple. All the participants had to do was enter an empty room, sit down, and think for six to 15 minutes. But without a cellphone, a book, or a television screen to stare at, the assignment quickly became too much to handle. In fact, even when individuals were given time to “prepare” for being alone — meaning that they were able to plan what they would think about during their moments of solitude — the participants still “found it hard,” Timothy Wilson, a psychologist at the University of Virginia and lead author of the study, told The Washington Post. “People didn’t like it much.”

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Siri joins Cortana in World Cup predictions

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Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant has successfully predicted eight World Cup results with 100 percent accuracy so far, but just as the games are getting more difficult to pick, she has fresh competition from Apple’s Siri. While Microsoft added its World Cup predictions to Cortana last weekend, Siri didn’t appear to offer its own estimates on the games in our own testing until later this week. If you now ask Siri variations of who will win a particular game, she offers up some noncommittal responses. “It’s a tossup (if you’ve got a coin, heads says France win, tails says Germany),” is Siri’s France vs. Germany “prediction,” while “I don’t have the line on this one, but Colombia has a better record than Brazil” is the estimate for…

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Amateur Transformers film is more fun than Michael Bay’s

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Michael Bay might have the multi-million dollar budget, but Harris Loureiro has the ’80s touch. Using toy Transformers, a handful of special effects, and Stan Bush’s iconic power ballad “The Touch,” the YouTube user crafts a surprisingly slick fight scene between Optimus Prime and a fleet of Constructicons. It took Loureiro more than a month to edit the five-minute-long short, after completing filming in September last year. The entire production positively drips nostalgia, which is unsurprising given that the stop-motion animation is dedicated to the series’ old-school fans.

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A 23-foot-tall home-made Transformer is the world’s most intimidating lawn ornament

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In Wisconsin, an Oldsmobile Alero is more than meets the eye: he’s a 23-foot-tall red robot, and his name is Hardwire.

The Transformer’s creator, George Edgren, says he wasn’t particularly involved with the franchise. “I liked them, but I wasn’t a huge massive fan or anything. It’s not like an ‘I needed to be there on opening night’ kind of deal,” he tells The Verge. But when a friend suggested that he make one of his own, he ultimately took up the challenge. Over the course of a month, he bolted together the giant robot that now stands in his driveway. A longtime metalworker, he was already building and selling lawn art, but this was his biggest hobby project ever. While it’s clearly a Transformer, it’s not trying to fit any kind of…

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When the Terminators come, only Google’s co-founders will be safe

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If our world should ever be overrun by Terminators, Larry Page and Sergey Brin may end up surviving humanity’s annihilation. The killing machines haven’t yet arrived, but Google is already taking precautions. It’s uploaded a killer-robots.txt file to its servers that instructs T-800 and T-1000 Terminators to spare the company’s co-founders — or “disallow” their deaths, to be more specific.

The Easter egg’s appearance on Google’s website coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Robots.txt file, a tool created in 1994 that instructs search engines and other automated bots to avoid crawling certain pages or directories of a website. The industry has done a remarkable job staying true to the simple text file in the two decades since;…

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Here’s what’s most likely to kill the free internet by 2025

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First, the good news: a new Pew Research Center report on the future of the internet is mostly optimistic. The research agency canvassed 1,400 technology experts for its 2014 Future of the Internet report, and a majority believed the internet wouldn’t be significantly worse off by 2025 — although there were some strong dissenting opinions.

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New York State’s governor puts weight behind HIV prevention pill

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New York State governor Andrew Cuomo did something unexpected last Sunday: he announced that he was backing Truvada — the controversial HIV prevention pill — in an effort to drastically cut the rate of new infections in the state. The pill was officially endorsed by the CDC in May for use by any HIV negative person who may be at risk for infection (not just gay men who might be having sex with HIV positive partners) but this is the first time that a high-level elected official has recommended its use, reports The New York TImes.

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Netflix still offers more top movies than rivals, and Hulu Plus still wins on recent TV

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Netflix offers more top movies than any of its subscription streaming rivals, according to new analysis from Piper Jaffray. Variety highlights that the company’s lineup includes 10 of 2013’s 50 best box office performers. For comparison, Amazon Prime Instant Video has just three. “Netflix is still leading by a wide margin,” said Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson. But it’s not all bad news for Amazon; the company offers customers a decent selection of top movies that are at least two years old. So if you don’t need the latest and greatest blockbusters, Prime Instant Video isn’t a bad way to go — but it still trails Netflix, which offers acclaimed original programming like Orange is the New Black in addition to its rotating catalog of…

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Pixel art games aren’t retro, they’re the future

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About half a year ago, Sony and Microsoft started trying to convince people to spend several hundred dollars on powerful new consoles. Generational shifts don’t happen that often in the video games industry, so when they do, it’s natural for people to wonder about the potential of the hardware or how eye-popping the graphics will be.

But things are a little different these days. The best game on the Xbox One right now is the frantic, blocky side-scroller Super Time Force (above), and you…

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Facebook Messenger comes to iPad

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Facebook Messenger is now fit for your iPad. An update rolling out to the App Store today adds a much-requested iPad interface to the popular messaging app, which was redesigned last fall but didn’t get a big-screen treatment. The new Messenger app is exactly what you’d expect, but super-sized. You can call, text, send stickers, videos, and start group chats. Facebook wouldn’t say if or when a version of the app built for Android tablets would become available.

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