You can now Shazam from your Mac

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While Shazam has long existed on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, it’s making the jump to the Mac today to bring song detection to the desktop. Shazam already has a fullscreen Windows 8 app, but its new Mac app is more of a traditional desktop app that sits quietly in the system tray. This subtly extends to one of its best features: automatic music detection in the background. If you allow Shazam for Mac to detect music automatically then it will do so while it’s open, particularly useful if you’re watching TV or listening to a radio in a coffee shop with your MacBook. If you leave Shazam for Mac silently detecting music in the background then it will trigger a notification each time a new track is identified. The idea of an app…

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Scientists discover the moon is shaped like a lemon

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Although our visit to its rocky surface confirmed that it’s not covered in vast seas, it’s not home to strange moon-men, and it’s not made of cheese, the moon can still surprise us. It’s only this week that scientists have revealed that, 45 years after Neil Armstrong set foot on the planetoid, our closest celestial neighbor is not actually round.

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Samsung sales and profits down despite Galaxy S5 launch

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Samsung Electronics has released its financial results for the second quarter of 2014, showing the first drop in net profit in three years for the Korean electronics giant, and a slowdown in its smartphone sales. The company announced it had made a net profit of 6.25 trillion won ($6.1 billion), down from 7.77 trillion won ($7.58 billion) last year. It also recorded an operating profit of 7.19 trillion won ($7.02 billion) in the period — a 15 percent drop from last quarter — on revenues of 52.35 trillion won ($51.02 billion). The new figures mean Samsung’s operating profit has dropped almost 25 percent from the same quarter last year, falling from 9.53 trillion won ($9.27 billion) in the second quarter of 2013.

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Twitch tries out live concerts with free house music performance tonight

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Twitch is the biggest name around when it comes to broadcasting live streams of video games, but Twitch’s dominance hits a hard stop right there. Now, Twitch appears to be considering ways that it could begin to branch out, and it’s starting by hosting a free broadcast of a concert from house musician Steve Aoki. That’s a big change for Twitch, which generally requires that streams are dedicated to video games. It doesn’t appear that Twitch is about to open up to musicians or other non-gaming broadcasts just yet though — it still says that it’s asking for feedback on what it’s doing.

The Aoki concert will begin on his Twitch page tonight at 10PM ET. Twitch doesn’t say if there’ll be more concerts to follow, but it’s apparently seen some…

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Apple’s set-top box reportedly won’t arrive this year

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Apple’s said to be working on a set-top box that many hope will revolutionize the way we watch TV, but according to The Information, we shouldn’t expect to see it this year. The project has reportedly been held up by Apple’s inability to strike the necessary deals with cable providers, which are said to be concerned that Apple might eventually replace them as the company that consumers look to when they’re shopping for TV services. The potential merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable is also reported to be one of the issues that Apple sees as holding up the deal.

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Why is Comcast’s customer service so bad, and what can they do about it?

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Comcast regularly comes in at the bottom of customer satisfaction rankings, and a recorded phone call with an especially frustrating customer service rep recently reinforced that impression. The Verge interviewed more than 100 current and former Comcast employees to find out why. We’re publishing the results in a series called Comcast Confessions, and we also had a short conversation about it in the office today. Check out the video above.

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The new ‘Interstellar’ trailer is fantastic, but you need this secret key to watch it

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Director Christopher Nolan says that Interstellar will have the grandest scope of any film that he’s made yet, and we’re starting to get a good look at just how far into the universe the movie will really go through its latest trailer. You won’t be able to watch the trailer outside of Interstellar‘s newly launched website though, and even there it’s hidden behind a passcode. To get through, you’ll have to enter the code “7201969,” as in, the date that Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

While earlier clips largely kept the film’s star, Matthew McConaughey, down on Earth, this latest one takes him out into space and onto what appears to be another gorgeous, desolate planet. The movie is scheduled for a release on November 7th, and you can read…

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Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight’ is coming next year, and this is its first poster

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Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight is back on. After saying that he would cancel the project earlier this year after its script leaked online, Tarantino has slowly begun hinting that he was coming back around to it, and others involved in the project have even suggested that it’s preparing to start shooting. Now an ad in the film magazine Empire confirms as much, promoting the movie with a first poster and a premiere date of 2015. The ad also suggests, as the leaked script did, that Tarantino’s upcoming western will shoot in 70mm, a rarely used higher-resolution format that results in some gorgeous images.

The 2015 date might be ambitious given that The Hateful Eight doesn’t appear to have started filming, but the ad is at least a…

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This is my e-cig. There are many like it, but this one is mine

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Every day, I take apart the pieces of my e-cig and clean them. I wipe each part down with tissue or Q-Tips. I examine its parts, naming their arcane names and checking for signs of wear and failure. I unscrew the metal from the metal, I fill it with a self-made mix of nicotine-infused liquid, I check the seals.

I reassemble, I tighten the bonds, I snap out the end of the barrel and look for leakage. I watch for changes in the color and consistency of the liquid, of the vapor created from it, I swap out the battery for a fresh one.

It’s a ritual that more than one person has said looks like cleaning a gun. It is not very different. A gun is an instrument for killing. An e-cig is an instrument for delivering a drug — but it is also an…

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Groupon’s ousted founder is making gorgeous audio tours of San Francisco

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Andrew Mason has a flair for the unexpected. When the former CEO of Groupon left the daily-deals company he co-founded last year, his farewell blog post seemed to satirize the entire genre of corporate goodbyes. “I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family,” he wrote. “Just kidding — I was fired today. If you’re wondering why… you haven’t been paying attention.” The once high-flying Groupon had fallen to earth shortly after it went public, and amid lackluster earnings, Mason was ousted. Newly free of responsibilities, he wrote and recorded Hardly Workin’, an album of motivational rock songs aimed at cubicle drones. (Praise for the record seemed to top out somewhere around “competent.”)

Mason’s next act is also something…

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The HTC One E8 is a plastic phone in search of its metal soul

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Plastic phones have a bad reputation and HTC is partly to blame. The company that defines itself as “a global leader in mobile innovation and design” has, for two years running, built the finest Android smartphone with an all-aluminum thing of beauty it calls the One. First the One M7 swept up the phone design awards in 2013, and now the more refined One M8 is repeating the feat. In an Android world dominated by frumpy-but-functional Samsung Galaxy phones, HTC’s One line stands out with its…

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This colorful tree is designed to grow 40 types of fruit

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Even the most beautiful trees tend to bloom in only a single color, but artist Sam Van Aken is growing trees that turn into a kaleidoscopic array of flowers come spring. A project of his, the “Tree of 40 Fruit,” has Van Aken grafting 40 different stone fruit branches onto a single tree, ultimately creating a tree that will slowly begin blooming at the beginning of spring and continue through the season as different varieties hit their marks. Come summer, those will all begin to grow fruits, including different types of cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines, and apricots.

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A North Korean defector sees his art silenced in China

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Look at us, by Sun Mu. The text translates as, “Let us endure hardship with a smile!”

An exhibition of works by a former North Korean propaganda artist was cancelled this week in China, reportedly under orders from the Chinese government. As AFP reports, Beijing’s Yuan Dian gallery was planning to show a collection from Sun Mu, a North Korean defector who uses a pseudonym for fear of retribution from Pyongyang. The month-long exhibition was due to open on July 27th, but according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, Chinese police blocked people from entering the gallery and removed Sun Mu’s paintings just before the opening.

Officials gave no reason for the closing, though China has a long history of censoring both media and art, and…

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Sony claims EA’s Xbox One subscription service isn’t ‘good value’

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Electronic Arts surprised gamers with a subscription service for Xbox One yesterday, but Sony is less than impressed with the offering. EA Access lets Xbox One owners play titles like FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2, and Battlefield 4 for just $4.99 a month, or $29.99 per year. Despite what seems like a good deal, with more games coming soon, Sony claims the program is not good value for PlayStation 4 owners. “We evaluated the EA Access subscription offering and decided that it does not bring the kind of value PlayStation customers have come to expect,” a Sony spokesperson told Game Informer. “We don’t think asking our fans to pay an additional $5 a month for this EA-specific program represents good value to the PlayStation gamer.”

S…

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Windows Phone 8.1’s first update arrives next week with a cute Chinese Cortana

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After accidentally detailing its first update to Windows Phone 8.1 earlier this week, Microsoft is now ready to officially reveal exactly what’s included in Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1. There aren’t many big visible changes with this update, but instead it includes a number of small improvements just a few months after the initial Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview release. If you’re a Developer Preview user then expect to see the Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 arrive next week.

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Hollywood joins forces with Kodak to keep movie film alive

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After lobbying by directors including Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, and JJ Abrams, movie studios are negotiating a deal with Kodak that would secure the company’s ability to keep producing motion picture film. The Wall Street Journal reports that the agreement is likely to see studios commit to buying from Kodak in set quantities for upcoming years regardless of their plans to actually shoot movies in the format. Kodak is now the sole major provider of movie film following Fujifilm’s exit from the market in 2013.

The rise of professional digital cinema cameras from the likes of Arri and RED have hastened Kodak’s predicament; the WSJ says sales have fallen 96 percent over the past eight years. But many in the industry hold strong…

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Here is the memo Comcast sent to employees after the ‘rep from hell’ call went viral

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It’s now been two weeks since AOL executive and former Comcast subscriber Ryan Block published a recording of his insane dialogue with an overly persistent customer service representative, and we finally have the memo that the company sent out immediately afterward.

“Recently, an unfavorable phone call into Comcast has been circulating on the Internet,” the memo says. “If you receive a call from the media regarding this incident, please refer to the Media Inquiry Policy to transfer them to your local media contact.”

SPECIAL BULLETIN: Customer Interaction Policy Reminder

Comcast is committed to delivering outstanding service to each and every customer. It is our goal to ensure that each customer with whom we interact has a quality…

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Facebook to close up shop on its digital gift card service

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If you want to buy your friend a gift card to go stuff themselves at Chilis, you’re going to have to do it somewhere else than Facebook soon. The social network today said it’s shuttering its gifts service, which let people buy gift cards in the form of digital codes. That was instead of simply leaving the equivalent of the high school yearbook “have a great summer” message scrawled out on people’s walls on their special day of birth, and on other special occasions.

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Martha Stewart writes a love letter to drones in ‘Time’ magazine

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We have been dutifully chronicling the particular technological habits of Martha Stewart — yes, that Martha Stewart, lifestyle magazine magnate and convicted obstructor of justice —  for some time now, including her self-described “beautiful” personal drone. But even we could not have imagined the true, poetic depths of Martha Stewart’s appreciation for unmanned aerial vehicles, at least until today. In an 800-plus-word ode published in Time magazine, Stewart reveals the backstory of her introduction to drones (a “meet cute” on a beach in Maine on her birthday, naturally), and expresses her admiration of how great architects of the past were able to build things without drone aerial photography.

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Amazon finally explains what it wants from Hachette: lower ebook prices

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Amazon is finally providing some explanation for its ongoing dispute with the publisher Hachette, explaining that it’s taken issue over Hachette’s insistence on pricing ebooks above $9.99. In a note today, Amazon explains that it’s not actually looking for a particularly large share of the revenue on ebook sales: it’s only interested in taking 30 percent, a fairly standard figure for digital store sales and the same figure that it says Hachette proposed in 2010. Instead, the change Amazon wants to see is for most ebooks to sell for $9.99 or less, with only a “small number of specialized titles” being offered at prices above that.

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