The Weekender: on Mass Effect, Martin Luther King, and The Lawnmower Man

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Good morning and Happy New Year! Welcome back to The Weekender. Our weekend journey is just now starting, so thank you for choosing us for your travels. Our service took a break for CES, but we’ve made our way back to Terra for your weekly ride. It was not a quiet week, as you might imagine. Below you’ll find your itinerary, carefully crafted for your pleasure; stories from the week passed and recommendations for the days ahead. Now. Please sit back and relax as we take you on a journey through time and space. You might hear a slight buzzing in your ears as we get started.

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Elon Musk wants to spend $10 billion building the internet in space

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Elon Musk’s plan for satellite internet is even more ambitious than originally thought. At a SpaceX event in Seattle on Friday, the Tesla CEO told Bloomberg Businessweek that his unnamed Space Internet venture could one day stretch all the way to Mars — and it could cost $10 billion to pull off.

“I don’t see anyone else doing it.”

The news comes at the tail end of a busy week for Musk, with the CEO announcing that a five-mile Hyperloop test track is in development only a day earlier. According to Musk, the satellite internet project would make for fast, cheap global internet that isn’t impeded by terrestrial wires. “The speed of light is 40 percent faster in the vacuum of space than it is for fiber,” he says, explaining that internet…

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Steve Jobs’s childhood garage is being prepped for latest biopic

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Steve Jobs’ childhood home in Los Altos, California — which became a historic site in 2013 — is opening up for cameras once again. Film crews began setting up shop there today to begin dressing the location in anticipation of shooting the latest film about Apple’s co-founder, reports CNET. The house and its garage served as Apple’s early and rather humble beginnings, and were depicted briefly in 2013’s film Jobs. In this case, it’s for the second, unrelated film, penned by Aaron Sorkin and based off Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography of the late technology pioneer. Some of the early adornments spotted in the garage include things like a Bob Dylan poster and an ad for a Braun coffeemaker.

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The FDA probably won’t regulate your fitness tracker

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The US Food and Drug Administration has published draft guidance suggesting it won’t regulate products intended for general wellness — like fitness trackers — provided there aren’t significant risks to their use. Low-risk devices aren’t invasive; don’t involve lasers or radiation exposure; and don’t raise new usability or biocompatability issues. Devices that don’t fall under this category include sunlamps meant for tanning, because of the cancer risks associated with UV; and implants for aesthetic purposes, because of the risks of rupture, according to the document.

New devices meant for general wellness may have an easier time getting to market, if current regulations holdFor the FDA’s purposes, a general wellness device is something…

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Republicans want a net neutrality law, but only if it stops the FCC from handling it

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A month before the FCC votes on a new net neutrality proposal, lawmakers in the House and Senate are taking the matter into their own hands. Republicans in both houses have introduced a bill that would enshrine net neutrality in law — while taking rule-making power away from the FCC and avoiding a major reclassification of broadband service. It’s an attempt to preempt not only agency chair Tom Wheeler, but also President Barack Obama, who made his position on net neutrality clear last year.

The bill offers a compromise between hard-line opponents of net neutrality and the larger changes preferred by President Obama and many activists. It would modify the Communications Act of 1934, adding the basic elements of the FCC’s “open internet”…

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Motorola and Dodo launch line of $59.99 leather bands for Moto 360

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Still haven’t found a leather band for your Moto 360? You’ve always got the option of swapping the included one for a replacement purchased at any watch shop, but now Motorola’s giving customers even more options. And it’s doing so with the help of Dodo. The companies have launched a line of Pergamena leather bands in multiple colors for $59.99. You can pick between blue, green, red, and tan; those make for e a nice complement to the black, gray, and cognac / brown leather bands that Motorola already offers. They’ll probably stand out a bit more, too. Motorola’s cost just $29.99, whereas Dodo’s new offerings demand an added premium of $30. It’s still cheaper than going for one of the stainless steel bands, at least — those will set you…

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This music video imagines a world with nothing but the internet

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We all have those days when we’d like to sink into the internet void, avoiding the persistent plague of all things IRL. But the musician Hot Sugar, aka Nick Koenig, who’s worked with the likes of late, great oddball rap group Das Racist, has imagined that reality-free world in his new music video, and it’s not so great.

The song, “Not Afraid to Die,” is a silky web of ecclesiastic electronic clatter, but its accompanying visual is more dystopian than heavenly. The premise is this: a boy has no tether to the outside world; instead, his desktop monitor is the sun, while airplanes, lamps, and even the weather are just images projected into his bedroom. It’s like the stationary bicycle porn episode of Black Mirror in the sense that it will…

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See your favorite movies and games transformed into adorable tiny worlds

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Your favorite movies, games, and TV shows just got a whole lot smaller.

As part of a new exhibition at art house Gallery 1988, Nicole Gustafsson has turned her favorite works of pop culture into tiny, adorable terrariums. The wonderful collection covers influential works from her childhood, so it’s filled with retro classics from the late ’80s and early ’90s.

“There was kind of a sense of discovery when you found a movie or game you really liked,” she says of growing up during that time. “Now when a new game or movie is announced I know in a matter of minutes and have access to trailers immediately. I guess I’ve learned to appreciate both the immediacy that we live in now, but also strive to discover things I like off the beaten path.”…

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The Internet of Things is already a $2 billion business for Intel

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There was no escaping the Internet of Things at CES 2015, it was the omnipresent theme of the expo, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s a far-off future concept. Intel’s latest earnings report demonstrates that the IoT age is already upon us, accounting for $2.1 billion in revenue in 2014. That’s 10 times as much as Intel generated from its Mobile and Communications division, which, in spite of its importance to the company, actually shrank in revenue over the course of the year.

Setting new records for full-year revenue and shipments, Intel saw small increases in its income from the core PC Client Group (up 4 percent) and related software and services section (up 1 percent), but they were dwarfed by the 19 percent growth of…

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Listen to the music that the Beagle 2 probably played on Mars in 2003

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If the first nine notes of this instrumental sound fairly cosmic to you then that’s entirely fitting: together they comprise the first ever melody sent to Mars. Composed by British band Blur, this short jingle (expanded into a full song above) was the call-sign for the UK’s Beagle 2 lander. This mission to Mars went AWOL in 2003 after detaching from its orbiter, but today it was announced that NASA’s cameras have spotted the craft intact on the planet’s surface. This means that Blur’s nine notes made it as well.

Blur’s melody was “probably played on Mars” says mission manager

The inclusion of call-sign written by one of the country’s then biggest bands was part of the Beagle team’s media-friendly tactics to drum up interest in the…

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Beagle 2 found 12 years after disappearing on Mars

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The Beagle 2 Mars lander, lost more than a decade ago after its launch by the European Space Agency (ESA), has been spotted on the surface of the red planet. New images from the HiRise camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) show that the coffee-table sized lander — which was designed to unfold “like a giant fob watch” — made it safely to the surface of the planet, but did not fully deploy.

The spacecraft was originally launched in 2003 onboard the ESA’s Mars Express orbiter, and was intended to touch down on the planet on Christmas Day. The last signal from Beagle 2 suggested that it had detached safely from the orbiter and was on its way to its landing site at Isidis Planitia, a massive impact basin near the planet’s…

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HTC’s next One flagship smartphone set to launch on March 1st

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HTC has just sent out invitations for its big event at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, identifying March 1st as the day on which we’ll see “what’s next” from the Taiwanese company. A starry sky, highlighted by a single burst of light, is captioned with the teasing phrase “utopia in progress,” giving us the first hints at what to expect. With this year’s CES being a quiet time for mobile announcements, MWC is shaping up to be a particularly big show and HTC is the first from among the major Android phone makers to set a date and time for its next big launch. While HTC itself isn’t disclosing any further information, the timing and the grandiose tagline make it all but a certainty that this March 1st event will host the…

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Now is the time for my curved iMac dream to come true

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I’ve wanted a curved iMac ever since I first saw Nuno Teixeira’s concept back in 2008. What was impossible back then is quickly becoming the norm now. Samsung announced its first curved all-in-one PC just three weeks ago, and this week LG announced its own. And this is only the beginning. That’s great if you’re a PC, but I’m a Mac, and pretty much locked into Apple’s whims at this point.

Having just returned from CES, curved TVs are very much a thing for 2015. In 2014 they were rare, but now almost all of the big TV makers — Samsung, LG, Sony, and Hisense — are selling curved televisions. Everyone but Vizio, of course, which is eschewing the curve to mock its competition. And while flat is the right TV answer for everyone but the…

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UK police make second arrest over Xbox and PlayStation network attacks

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An 18-year-old UK man has been linked to the attacks that took down Sony and Microsoft’s gaming networks last year. This morning, the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) reported that it had arrested an unnamed teen in Southport on suspicion of “unauthorized access to computer material” and “threats to kill.” The arrest was part of a joint investigation by SEROCU and the FBI, which have been attempting to find members of the “Lizard Squad,” an online collective that launched a massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network over the holidays. The attack made Microsoft’s network unavailable for several hours, and Sony’s stayed down for three days, including Christmas.

The…

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New trailers: House of Cards, Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Peanuts Movie, and more

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We’re quickly moving past Oscar-season movies and back toward plenty of action and comedy. If you want to know what’s coming up ahead, we’ve rounded up the best of this week’s new trailers — a number of which come from some pretty big names. Since we didn’t run a trailer roundup last Friday, a few of last week’s biggest titles are also included. You can see all 15 below.

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Watch a bunch of funny famous people try to sing Sleater-Kinney’s No Cities To Love

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Next week, Portland punks Sleater-Kinney will return with their first record in a decade, No Cities To Love, on Seattle label Sub Pop. The band dropped a video for the album’s title track today, and it’s a doozy. For the clip, Sleater-Kinney recruited an impressive lineup of famous and kind-of-famous friends to sing along to the half-snarled track. Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis we expected, but Sarah Silverman and her dog?

Shot largely in grainy selfie form, the video features hard-to-forget images like Fred Armisen playing a keyboard on the sidewalk, My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way looking like your angsty teen brother, Andy Samberg nodding his head distractedly, and Miranda July dancing like she invented quirk. Watch it above.

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The Vergecast, live today at 4:30PM ET!

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CES is over, so that means we’re back to a regular Vergecast this week. Or are we? Since there’s nothing regular about the Vergecast, I (Tom Warren) will be joining Chris Ziegler and Nilay Patel to discuss Windows 10, cars, and plenty of other topics. It’s going to be fun, fast, and furious, just like cars and Windows 10 or a BlackBerry acquisition rumor.

Be here at 4:30PM ET to witness the many arguments and the inevitable moment when Nilay asks me to do an American accent or mocks my Britishness. Consult this helpful guide if you don’t live in the Eastern Time Zone.

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Elon Musk is building a five-mile Hyperloop test track

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Elon Musk has announced a new step forward in the Hyperloop project. Speaking onstage at the Texas Transportation forum, Musk announced the development of a test facility for the innovative air-rail system, including a five-mile track. A location has yet to be confirmed, but Musk said it would be “most likely in Texas.” It’s unclear when Musk’s test facility would open, but when it does, it will be the first physical incarnation of the idea he unveiled 18 months ago.

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GoPro’s making it way easier to broadcast live action cam footage on TV

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Get ready to see some pretty stunning (and totally live) GoPro action cam footage on your TV. The company has announced that it’s partnering with Vislink to produce a small transmitter that athletes and other GoPro users can wear to beam out footage of their death-defying feats on live TV. GoPro’s already fantastic Hero4 cameras will be fitted with a small, light, and low-power wireless transmitter capable of sending out broadcast-grade video. It beats having to hand off a memory card to a production crew and eliminating the thrill of live, as-it-happens footage.

We’ll start seeing demonstrations of what this looks like very soon; GoPro’s new setup will be in use during ESPN’s Winter X Games 2015 Aspen from January 22nd through the…

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