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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Technology has changed art, and this is what it looks like

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This summer, London’s Barbican Centre plays host to Digital Revolution, a major new exhibition that explores the impact of technology on art over the past four decades. It’s a show high on visuals and low on exposition, aiming to entertain children more than enlighten adults.

The exhibition begins with a gallery called “Digital Archaeology” that highlights key moments in the UK’s technological awakening. It features row upon row of ancient machines such as the Magnavox Odyssey, the Speak &…

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Inside the early days of Google Street View

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It’s almost hard to remember now, but once upon a time, before its invasion of everything from World Cup stadiums to the Galapagos Islands, Google Street View was just a van with a goofy camera rolling around San Francisco. Iain McClatchie, who was hired on to the Street View team in early 2006, has a new blog post up recounting the project’s early days: the government-funded research project that was a forerunner to Street View, the first turret-like cameras, and the launch of country-wide maps for Australia (traffic for which broke the site on release). There were misfires — one generation of camera wasn’t approved for outdoor use — but the project’s success ultimately led to near ever-growing coverage of the world and clever solutions…

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Google dumps porn from its ads

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In March, Google announced that it would ban pornographic ads from its AdWords network, which supplies the sponsored results in Google searches. Monday, Google sent an email to relevant advertisers informing them that the changes are imminent: in the coming weeks, all ads that “promote graphic depictions of sexual acts” will be done away with, according to CNBC.

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US denies petition to reconsider TWA Flight 800 conspiracies

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12 minutes after taking off from New York’s JFK airport on July 17th, 1996, Trans World Airlines Flight 800 exploded, killing all 230 people on board. Now, almost 18 years after the Boeing 747 crashed, the National Transportation Safety Board has denied a petition that would see it reconsidering its findings, drawn up by people who believe the plane was the target of terrorism, missiles, or even a secret microwave weapon.

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Mystery Nokia handset appears in leaked photos, could be Lumia 830

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Microsoft is currently preparing at least three new Windows Phone 8.1 devices for release this year, including a 4.7-inch mid-range “Superman” handset, a low-end “Rock” device, and its “McLaren” flagship Windows Phone with the new 3D Touch features. Leaked photos posted to popular Chinese microblogging site Weibo suggest there could be another Windows Phone 8.1 handset on the way, which may fill the mid-range gap and replace the Lumia 820. The mysterious device appears to use an aluminum frame with a polycarbonate back, a construction both the Lumia 925 and Lumia 930 use. WPDang speculates that this could be the Nokia Lumia 830.

The rear of this unknown Lumia also includes a large and flat camera housing, suggesting that it won’t…

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Facebook conducted hundreds of psychological experiments with few boundaries: WSJ

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Facebook has come under fire this week for a controversial experiment it performed on 689,000 of its users in 2012. The experiment, in which it promoted either positive or negative comments in a percentage of its users’ news feeds, was orchestrated by the company’s Data Science team. The team, founded in 2007, is made up of around 30 doctors, scientists, and ex-academics who The Wall Street Journal reports have been able to conduct hundreds of tests on Facebook’s 1.3 billion users with few boundaries or limitations.

The Wall Street Journal describes one such test, in which thousands of Facebook users received a message from the company. The message said the affected users were to be blocked from the social network because Facebook…

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Microsoft’s smartwatch is reportedly a fitness band with smartphone notifications

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Microsoft’s smartwatch has long been rumored as a device that competes with Android Wear, Samsung’s Gear watches, and any future hardware from Apple, but it might not take the form of a watch. Windows watcher Paul Thurrott reports that Microsoft’s smartwatch will actually be a fitness wristband with multiple sensors designed to track steps, calories burned, and heart rate. Thurrott’s report matches similar recent rumors of a Microsoft smartwatch that continuously measures heart rate through the day and night.

Images in a recent patent filing from Microsoft could offer an early glimpse at where the company is heading with its fitness band. The patent filing from May includes hardware that resembles a fitness band with icons for running…

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‘Reading Rainbow’ will come to Android after closing Kickstarter at over $5.4 million

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LeVar Burton’s Kickstarter campaign to bring Reading Rainbow to more platforms and to thousands of classrooms for free closed today with funding of over $5.4 million — not including the additional $1 million that Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane plans to donate. Having hit its ambitious $5 million stretch goal, Burton’s company will now be bringing Reading Rainbow to Android as well as the Xbox, PlayStation, Apple TV, and Roku. Originally, Burton had only announced plans to bring Reading Rainbow to the web. Reading Rainbow‘s campaign estimates that the web portion should be ready by next May.

Some of the additional funding is also going toward giving schools free access to Reading Rainbow‘s website and apps. Burton plans to provide…

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LG is the first smartphone maker to join Google’s Open Automotive Alliance

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“Android Everywhere” was the theme of Google I/O this year, and one of the new frontiers the company is tackling is the car. That’s not a brand-new focus, however — back at CES, Google announced the Open Automotive Alliance, its attempt at getting both automakers and technology companies on the same page. The latest company to join up with the alliance is LG — while a number of companies like Panasonic and Nvidia sit alongside automakers like Audi and Honda, LG marks the first handset maker to put its weight behind Google’s initiative.

Google hasn’t yet released details on what specific handsets will work with Android Auto — but it seems like a safe bet that LG’s future smartphones will work with the new system. And if the company keeps…

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Thirty genetic tests later, Bigfoot still doesn’t exist

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For all of the grainy video footage, Bigfoot has never been revealed as anything more than a resilient hoax, and a new study only provides more evidence for the complete lack of evidence: after genetically testing 30 hair samples attributed to Bigfoot by museums and amateur hunters, a team of scientists was unable to match the samples to a new species, as USA Today reports. There were bears; there were dogs; there was a porcupine. But no Bigfoot, no yeti, no sasquatch.

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Sheryl Sandberg apologizes for Facebook’s News Feed experiment: ‘we never meant to upset you’

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Facebook has come under fire in the last few days after it was revealed the company had altered the news feeds of nearly 700,000 users in a psychological experiment. The scientists behind the experiment quickly put together an apology and explained the tests Facebook ran, but now one of the company’s top executives is speaking out about the project. COO Sheryl Sandberg called the experiment “poorly timed” and went on to apologize, reports The Wall Street Journal. “This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was; it was poorly communicated,” said Sandberg. “And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you.”

During the one-week experiment, which took place in 2012,…

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Scientists taught a computer to detect future teen binge drinkers

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When it comes to drug and alcohol abuse, the best interventions are those implemented as early as possible. That’s why researchers are increasingly focused on determining which risk factors spur behaviors like binge drinking and alcohol addiction, as well as how they interact. But integrating all that information accurately hasn’t always been easy. Now, a study published today in Nature describes how researchers “taught” a computer to weigh the risk factors associated with teenage binge drinking using data from 14-year-olds. And the results, says lead study author and cognitive neuroscientist Robert Whelan, are promising: the computer was able to predict future adolescent binge drinkers with “70 percent accuracy.”

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Watch the trailer for the final season of ‘The Killing’

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Netflix is giving fans a first look at the fourth and final season of The Killing. It’s been a winding road for the brooding crime series. AMC cancelled it after its second season, then reconsidered and partnered with Netflix, where the show had been a hit. Netflix paid AMC a premium to let viewers stream it earlier than they normally could — a deal that gave AMC enough cash to bring it back for a third season. After that, it was canceled once again, before Netflix itself picked up the show as an original series.

Now, The Killing’s final season hits Netflix on August 1st with a six-episode arc. From what can be gleaned in the new trailer — besides the show’s characteristic melancholy and shots of Seattle vistas — detectives Stephen…

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These apps might trick you into finally backing up your photos

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Someday, perhaps soon, you’re going to drop your phone in the toilet. You’ll be pretty upset when you realize how much it’s going to cost you to replace it. What might take longer to remember is how many photos, videos, and screenshots you lost. The insane text your cousin sent you when he was high, the selfie you took at Cape Canaveral, the last photo you took of your dog before he passed away: all potentially lost.

The solution is to make sure those photos are backed up somewhere in the cloud, preferably automatically. There are several existing services that can do it, but they’re alternately annoying and complicated — and so all too often just don’t get used. But two companies think they have found a way to get consumers to actually…

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Amazon refuses to settle with FTC over in-app purchases, says it’s ready for legal fight

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Amazon won’t submit to the FTC’s demands over in-app purchases made by children. Yesterday, the company sent this letter to the FTC warning that it’s prepared to engage the commission in a courtroom fight over the issue. Bowing to the FTC’s wishes would require Amazon to pay significant fines and reach a settlement modeled after the one Apple announced earlier this year. In January, CEO Tim Cook said his company decided against “a long and distracting legal fight” with the FTC, instead choosing to pay out a total of $32.5 million to 37,000 customers who claimed that their kids had made in-app purchases without permission. Apple also put in place new App Store safeguards that require explicit parental consent when buying virtual goods.

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‘Deliver Us From Evil’ review

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Considering how slapped-together and shoddy some horror movies seem, it’s always a bit remarkable to encounter one that takes itself seriously and aspires to more than just a few cheap scares. That doesn’t make them good, though. Deliver Us From Evil is the latest fright film from director Scott Derrickson, who came onto the scene nine years ago with The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and most recently delivered the underrated Sinister. (In between, he directed the god-awful remake of The Day the…

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