14 awesome flying machines from the biggest air show in the US

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Every July, hundreds of thousands of people flock to the middle of Wisconsin for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture, a combination trade show, air show, and party for aviators and people who just like looking at cool planes. As its name suggests, EAA’s main mission is to promote so-called experimental aircraft — typically small planes that hold between one and four people and can often be built in a garage — but AirVenture brings out everything from helicopters to airliners…

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Point of despair: father of net neutrality Tim Wu talks about tech policy’s worst year

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Any way you look at it, Tim Wu is an unlikely candidate for public office. The Columbia law school professor who coined the term “net neutrality” is a public intellectual better known for his academic work than his political activism. But he entered New York’s Democratic primary when Zephyr Teachout, a fellow law professor and activist, asked him to be her running mate in a long-shot challenge to incumbent Governor Mario Cuomo. The current lieutenant governor, Robert Duffy, is not seeking reelection, so Wu faces Cuomo’s chosen successor, former Congresswoman Kathy Hochul.

Internet activists have long supported Wu’s writing; now he’s asking them to support his campaign. Cuomo has challenged the petitions that Wu needs to get on the…

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If your wedding guests throw shade on Yelp, this hotel will charge you $500

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A hotel in Hudson, New York really doesn’t appreciate it when wedding parties come through town and wind up trashing its hard-earned Yelp rating. So it’s implemented a policy whereby the hotel will fine newlywed couples $500 for any negative review posted on the internet after their special day. It’s an extremely aggressive, tone-deaf, and awful policy, but at least the Union Street Guest House isn’t shy about anything: it’s all laid out right on the hotel’s website.

“If your guests are looking for a Marriott type hotel they may not like it here,” the site reads. “Therefore: If you have booked the Inn for a wedding or other type of event anywhere in the region and given us a deposit of any kind for guests to stay at USGH there will be a…

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‘Flappy Birds Family’ is a perfect game for the Amazon Fire TV

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Flappy Bird is the only game I’ve ever played in which “I didn’t die instantly!” counts as rousing success. I’m not good at it, which is sort of a strange thing to say when the only thing required is to tap on the screen at certain times and then not tap on the screen at certain other times. But the game made a comeback this weekend, and so did my Flappy Bird career. Kind of.

After a brief, glorious, impossibly lucrative run, Flappy Bird’s creator Dong Nguyen took the game that had millions of people furiously mashing on their phone screen out of commission. But now, Nguyen has resurrected the game as an free, exclusive title for Amazon’s Fire TV set-top box, called Flappy Birds Family. It’s fundamentally the same game as ever, just…

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American ebola patient received ‘experimental serum’

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An American doctor who contracted Ebola in west Africa appears to be recovering, thanks in part to a new and experimental treatment, according to a report from The Los Angeles Times. Dr. Kenneth Brantly is currently being treated at an Atlanta hospital, but his organization, Samaritan’s Purse, says the crucial treatment began with an experimental serum that Brantly received in Liberia. Brantly also received a blood transfusion from a recovered Ebola patient who he had treated earlier, which may have aided in his ongoing recovery.

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HBO could bring web-only subscriptions to more international locations

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HBO may not plan on bringing a web-only subscription to the US any time soon, but international locations may be a different story. After launching a web-only streaming option — much like Netflix’s service — through HBO Nordic two years agoThe Wall Street Journal reports that HBO is now considering expanding that option to other countries, including Japan and Turkey. There is reportedly no timeline for how soon the expansion would roll out, however.

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US sent teens into Cuba to inspire revolution

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The Cuban regime has been a US target for more than 50 years now, but a new report from the Associated Press suggests the government may have been more reckless in its tactics than anyone realized. The report documents a USAID program that sent nearly a dozen youths from Venezuela, Costa Rica and Peru into the country to recruit Cubans for anti-government activism. The group targeted a number of civil society groups including an HIV-prevention workshop, which handlers called “perfect excuse” to recruit dissidents.

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Meet Minilock, a powerful new encryption tool built on ChromeOS

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A padlock might be the easiest piece of security tech a person can own. You close it, it clicks, and then you need a key to open it up again. It’s simple, intuitive. You never need to explain to anyone how a padlock works, and you never need to worry that you’re using it wrong. If you want to know if you’ve locked it, you just give it a tug and the answer’s right there.

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Comcast Confessions: why the cable guy is always late

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The recording of the “Comcast Rep from Hell” has now been listened to more than 5 million times, sparking a conversation about the largest player in the nation’s cable industry. That debate is a timely one: Comcast is in the process of acquiring the second-largest cable provider, Time Warner Cable, and both companies are plagued by notoriously low customer-satisfaction ratings.

Comcast and Time Warner have agreed on a price, but the deal isn’t done. The Federal Communications Commission…

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‘BioShock’ is coming to iPhone and iPad

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Rapture is going mobile — publisher 2K Games has revealed that the 2007 atmospheric shooter BioShock is coming to iOS devices. According to Polygon, the iOS version will be a full port of the original, and will feature Bluetooth controller support, which makes the game feel surprisingly close to the PC and console original. The touch controls, meanwhile, “slightly frustrated the experience” according to Polygon‘s Brian Crecente.

The port is being developed by 2K China, the same team that successfully brought the sci-fi strategy game XCOM: Enemy Unknown to iOS. There’s no word on a price, though 2K previously released XCOM for $19.99 on iOS, making it one of the more expensive mobile games. BioShock is expected to launch on iPhone and…

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Microsoft’s first Windows Phone 8.1 update is now rolling out

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Microsoft’s first update to Windows Phone 8.1 is rolling out to developers today. While it’s technically a developer release, anybody with a Windows Phone can register freely to install the update through Microsoft’s App Studio program. If you’re an App Studio participant then you won’t need to pay the $19 fee to be a Windows Phone developer, and you’ll still be able to get early access to Update 1.

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Samsung’s next Galaxy may have chamfered metal edges like the iPhone

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Of all the things Samsung has copied from Apple over the years, the polished metal edges introduced with the iPhone 5 have been one thing the Korean company hasn’t yet reproduced. At least not in any officially announced devices. New images of the rumored Galaxy Alpha handset show a white phone that seems to be a blend between the Galaxy S5 and Apple’s latest iPhone models. A metal band runs around all sides of the device, featuring a prominent chamfered treatment that grows larger at the top and bottom. The simple one-button front layout and dimpled back cover have been retained from the S5, though the overall shape is a bit more rectangular. These photos appear to show a subtly more refined design than the black Galaxy Alpha that had…

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800,000 ceramic poppies turn the Tower of London’s moat red

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Image credit: Jim Crossley / Creative Commons.

As the world remembers the centenary of the First World War, London’s Tower of London is being covered by ceramic poppies to commemorate the lives lost in the conflict. Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red is an evolving installation that will see 888,246 of the artificial flowers “planted,” at the Tower, each representing a British or Colonial death during the war.

The first poppy was planted by YS Crawford Butler, the oldest serving of the…

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GayStation charity console won by a Pokémon

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Someone nicknamed “Pumpkaboo” is now the proud owner of a gorgeous, rainbow-patterned PlayStation 4. All it took was 28,300 kr (about $4,119). Swedish retailer Webhaller placed the “Sony GayStation 4” on auction last last month, in celebration of the recent Stockholm Pride Festival. Asides from being a show of solidarity, the machine was also used as a way to accrue proceeds for the RSFL Newcomers network, which looks to assist non-heteronormative foreigners.

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Giant floating snowflake will offer a five-star view of the Northern Lights

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Rich tourists will soon be able to enjoy the Northern Lights from within a floating, snowflake-shaped resort located in the waters near Tromso, Norway. The 86-bedroom Krystall hotel is being marketed as a “scarless development,” according to The Telegraph. In other words, the glass-roofed luxury property is not only intended to be “self-sustainable” but also to have a minimal impact on its environment.

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Google’s Venn diagram doodle makes correlation cute

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Google is celebrating the 180th birthday of John Venn, creator of the Venn diagram, with a special doodle on its front page. The interactive doodle allows you to choose from ten subjects in order to find the correlation between them. Choosing “sea life” and “has wings,” for example, will bring up a cutesy illustration of a flying fish. It’s a neat illustration of what a Venn diagram is, even if it doesn’t quite cover the breadth of the diagrams’ uses. It’ll be up on Google.com for the rest of the day, after which you can check it out at Google’s Doodle archive.

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A British national park is using ponies to fight smartphone addiction

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Britain’s New Forest National Park wants to take away your cellphone, your tablet, and your car keys. The park, in southern England, has started a new scheme in which visitors can deposit their electronic devices at a dedicated “Tech Creche.” Smartphones and iPads are kept in device daycare while their owners roam the park, supposedly freed from the tyranny of screens, push notifications, and GPS directions.

Participating people can print off vouchers that promise they’ll “swap screen time for family time.” The park also suggests visitors leave their cars at the visitor center, travelling instead on foot or by open top bus to lessen the environmental impact on the park. The scheme is designed to reconnect children and parents on family…

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Israel eavesdropped on Secretary John Kerry during Middle East negotiations in 2013

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The US and Israel have been staunch allies for decades, but that doesn’t mean that the two nations aren’t keeping an eye on each other. Der Spiegel reports that Israeli intelligence agents wiretapped US Secretary of State John Kerry the last time he tried to broker a peace deal in the Middle East, in 2013. The German paper cites “reliable sources” who say that some of Secretary Kerry’s negotiation efforts between Israel, Palestine, and Arab states were carried out using unencrypted telephone equipment. Apparently the calls were intercepted as they were transmitted by satellite. The Israeli government then used the information it obtained to try “to reach a diplomatic solution in the Middle East.”

It seems everyone spies on everyone,…

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Elon Musk says artificial intelligence is ‘potentially more dangerous than nukes’

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If the robots take over, at least Elon Musk will be able to say “I told you so.” The billionaire inventor loves to make the impossible possible, but he is deeply afraid of artificial intelligence (AI). On Twitter this weekend, Musk said that “we need to be super careful with AI,” adding that they are “potentially more dangerous than nukes.”

If that weren’t concerning enough, Musk followed up his statement with another tweet that read: “Hope we’re not just the biological boot loader for digital superintelligence [sic]. Unfortunately, that is increasingly probable.” Both are scary enough — one compares sentient networked robots with the most dangerous weapon on earth, and the other suggests we’re merely the fleshy precursors to robot…

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US aid worker infected with ebola is now being treated at an Atlanta hospital

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On Saturday, Dr. Kent Brantly arrived in Atlanta, Georgia. He is understood to be the first person carrying ebola who has been inside the United States. Dr. Brantly, of Texas, contracted the highly contagious virus while working in Liberia to help treat ebola patients, and he has been brought back to the US for intensive care at Emory University Hospital. The university is equipped with a special facility — designed in partnership with the US Centers for Disease Control — made to treat patients with extremely contagious conditions. Dr. Brantly’s co-worker, Nancy Writebol, also contracted ebola at the same clinic in Liberia. She is expected to return to the US for intensive care in a few days, according to The New York Times.

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