Facebook’s new Rooms app brings bite-sized forums to your iPhone

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“We’re not trying to build the next Snapchat — we’re trying to build the next WordPress.”

These aren’t the words you expect to hear from the guy building Facebook’s next big app. Facebook has spent the last two years cloning Snapchat, trying to buy Snapchat, and eventually creating a pseudo-Snapchat. None of these plans have worked, so now it’s building… a blogging platform?

Not exactly. Today, Facebook is launching Rooms, an iPhone app that lets you create tiny message boards for posting text, photos, and videos. In each room you can create your own username and identity, and post or comment with friends or strangers about anything from minimalist furniture to Kendama or Destiny. Like on conventional message boards, you can set…

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The Big Future: Can we build a better brain?

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How will the future change the human brain? This week’s Big Future takes a look at a new wave of neurological techniques that directly alter the brain’s electrical patterns, correcting seizures and movement disorders. Some doctors are even experimenting with using it to treat depression. Could the same technology be used to correct more fundamental mental properties like attention span? We’re still early in the research, but there are already plenty of projects aiming to give human beings greater control over the inner workings of the brain.

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Netflix series ‘Bloodline’ starring Kyle Chandler will premiere in March

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Netflix has announced that its original series Bloodline will premiere in March. And as you’d expect, all episodes from season one — there are 13 of them — will be available for streaming immediately. Bloodline stars Kyle Chandler of Friday Night Lights fame along with Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises), Linda Cardellini (Mad Men, Freaks and Geeks), Sam Shepard (The Right Stuff), and Sissy Spacek, among others. Created and executive produced by Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman, and Glenn Kessler — the trio behind FX’s Damages — Bloodline “centers on a close-knit family of four adult siblings whose secrets and scars are revealed when their black sheep brother returns home.”

It doesn’t reveal much, but you can catch a teaser trailer for…

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Tumblr is making videos a lot more like GIFs

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Tumblr may be known for moving images, but by and large that’s been the GIF — not videos. Tumblr is today trying to address that, changing what it’s like to watch videos in its mobile apps and on the desktop. On mobile, Tumblr is actually making videos seem a lot like GIFs: they’ll automatically start playing when you’re on Wi-Fi, they’ll be muted by default, and they’ll loop endlessly. Tumblr also says that videos are converted to smaller sizes so that they’ll start playing quickly, adding in to the impression that it shouldn’t matter what format you’re actually seeing.

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Sony Xperia Z3v review

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Sony has a rough time selling phones in the US. While it has managed to become one of the few Android makers to turn a profit on the backs of its global sales, Sony’s presence in the US has been crippled by delayed launches and carrier exclusives. If you’ve wanted to purchase a flagship Sony smartphone, such as the Z1 or Z2, you were forced to either be a T-Mobile customer, or pay full retail price for an unlocked device six months after it was readily available in other markets. (And if you…

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Christian Bale’s Batman is the Steve Jobs performance we’ve been waiting for

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For all his brilliance, Steve Jobs was a notoriously intense man — some would say even a huge jerk. He reportedly bullied and belittled others when they failed to meet his high standards. He went beyond the reach of the law in order to achieve his own goals, believing, according to one person, that “normal rules didn’t apply to him.” He created a ubiquitous system capable of tracking people across an entire city. After temporarily ceding control of the company synonymous with his name, he siphoned its resources towards a campaign of terror and vigilante justice, frequently impeding actual police operations. In one of his final projects at that company, he inadvertently created technology that would allow his home city to be taken hostage…

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This insane, gruesome sculpture brings ‘Doom’ to life

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Jason Hite has been in love with Doom since 1993. And in 2004 he decided to create a tribute in the best way he knows how: a wonderfully dark and disturbing sculpture.

It all started when Hite received a miniature figure of the iconic cyberdemon enemy from the game. After he finished painting it, he couldn’t quite stop himself from making something bigger. “I wanted to build an environment for the little evil cyborg,” he says. Since 2004 he’s been collecting circuit boards and Doom figures…

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Christian Bale to play Steve Jobs in upcoming biopic

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Christian Bale will star as late Apple CEO Steve Jobs in the upcoming biopic from director Danny Boyle. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin confirmed the decision in an upcoming interview with Bloomberg Television today, adding that the Oscar-winning actor didn’t even have to audition for the role.

“We needed the best actor on the board in a certain age range and that’s Chris Bale,” Sorkin said. “He didn’t have to audition. Well, there was a meeting.”

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Watch the world’s rhythms compared with the aid of simple circles

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Pizza, good movies, and great music are just some of the things that make the world go round. Over at TED-Ed, John Varney explains how rhythm can literally be perceived as a circular concept, as opposed to the traditional left-to-right format we’re accustomed to. The five-minute animation beautifully describes what Varney calls the “wheel method” of tracing rhythm, while showing the relationships between musical forms across the world. It’s a surprisingly easy watch, even for those who lack background in the subject matter.

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Microsoft is ending free Xbox Music streaming

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Microsoft is closing its free Xbox Music streaming service effective December 1st. The company will continue to offer music streaming through its Xbox Music service, but users will need to purchase an Xbox Music Pass to do so, at a monthly price of $9.99.

The company doesn’t specify why it’s removing the free, ad-supported streaming option, but says it’s “focusing Xbox Music to deliver the ultimate music purchase and subscription service experience for our customers.” Microsoft has updated Xbox Music a number of times since launch, producing versions for its newest Xbox One console and latest Windows Phone operating systems, but it still lags behind competitors such as Spotify in terms of social features.

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I hate myself for loving the Hemingwrite high-tech typewriter

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The Hemingwrite — described as an “over-engineered typewriter for the 21st century” — should bother me. It’s not just the pretentious yet bland reference to the Young Male Writer‘s favorite inspiration right in the name. It’s not just the exhortation to use its long battery life and “pull a Thoreau,” the time-honored practice of self-righteously rejecting civilization by making other people interact with it on your behalf. It’s not just the shots fired at “tiresome and outdated” typewriters. It’s the entire gestalt of nostalgia, self-help, and conspicuous, generic literary fandom that it evokes. It makes me want to be elitist and anti-intellectual at the same time.

Except that as an idea, I love it.

As its website readily admits,…

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Some early Apple Pay users hit with duplicate charges

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Large-scale consumer launches are rarely perfect, and Apple Pay isn’t proving to be an exception. Plenty of people using Apple’s mobile payments feature over the last few days have reported successful results. We tried it ourselves around New York City and found that it largely works just as Apple claims. But not everyone’s been so lucky; per Bloomberg, “hundreds” of Bank of America customers were reportedly double-charged for a single purchase in the immediate hours following Apple Pay’s rollout. Apparently it’s not Apple that’s to blame, though who knows if consumers are making that distinction.

Bloomberg reports that “a processing glitch that occurred between the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank and at least one payments network”…

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The ‘Red Velvet’ Oreo is a fake, and here’s why

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Earlier this week, a tweet sent the Twitter cookie community into an uproar. This tweet from @chevroletgirl, posted on October 18th, showed a picture of an alleged new limited edition flavor of Oreo, Red Velvet, complete with cream cheese flavored creme. That tweet was then followed up by another image of the same package of alleged Red Velvet Oreos from @luvvie on October 20th, supposedly cementing the reality of this new flavor.

But while Nabisco has released 35 different variations of Oreo flavors since 2012, fakes aren’t uncommon. Both Butterbeer and Fried Chicken flavored Oreos have appeared in the past, and both have been proven to be fakes. The Red Velvet Oreo is also a fake, and here’s why.

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‘IMDb for cars’ exists, and it’s an incredible time-waster

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Which episode of Doogie Howser, M.D. featured a Peterbilt 359?

Just this morning, I would’ve assumed that there was absolutely no way of answering that without watching all of Doogie Howser, M.D. (complication: it’s not on Netflix, and the last thing you have time for is another series binge, anyway). You’d also need complete confidence in your ability to identify a Peterbilt 359 through the fuzzy standard definition and big hair of an early-’90s television program.

Thankfully, former Verge editor and all-around great guy Paul Miller brought my attention to IMCDb, which is literally IMDb for cars. You can search both ways, either retrieving a list of all cars found in a particular movie or TV show, or by choosing a model and getting a…

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The PlayStation TV is a waste of money for Vita fans

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People love to say that the PlayStation Vita has no games. I’m the guy who tells them they’re wrong. Though Sony’s handheld hasn’t been a huge success, it’s one of my personal favorite devices. I love the form factor and the diverse line-up of games, from the charming Tearaway to music games like Sound Shapes and Hohokum. It’s amazing that I can take classics like Vib-Ribbon or Final Fantasy VII with me wherever I go.

In theory, my love of the platform makes me the target market for PlayStation TV, Sony’s tiny new box that lets you play Vita games on your television. (You can also use it to stream PS4 games to a second television set.) But after playing around with the PS TV for the past week, I’m not sure why I’d ever really use it. It…

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Watch the full-length trailer for Ridley Scott’s live-action ‘Halo: Nightfall’

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Here it is, the first full-length trailer for Halo: Nightfall, the live-action series executive produced by Ridley Scott (i.e. not the Steven Spielberg one). We got a tease in late July, but this video expands on that with a stronger glimpse at the characters and the world.

Halo: Nightfall focuses on agent Jameson Locke, played by Mike Colter, and his investigation into a biological weapon affecting only humans. on A multitude of classic weapons from the series seem to make an appearance, including an energy sword wielded by a Covenant soldier. There’s actually two quick looks at the Covenant.

And because it’s a trailer for an action film, we can’t help but notice all the key dramatic one-liners they manage to put in a 2:42 video….

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US will monitor travelers for three weeks when arriving from Ebola-stricken countries

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The US is going to begin monitoring all travelers who enter the country from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea for three weeks after landing to detect symptoms of Ebola. Time reports that the program will begin on Monday in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and Georgia, which is where most travelers coming from these countries end their trips. As was previously announced, travelers will also be required to go through one of just five airports that will pass them through an enhanced screening process.

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Scientists sequenced the genome of a man who lived 45,000 years ago

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Scientists have successfully sequenced the genome of a man who was alive 45,000 years ago, which makes the resulting sequence the oldest one researchers have ever obtained from a modern human.

“The next oldest human for which we have genome sequence is the 24,000 year old Mal’ta boy,” says Janet Kelso, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and a co-author of the study published today in Nature. And the quality of the genome Kelso managed to produce is “as good as the genome sequences that are available for present-day people.”

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Now the FBI is asking Congress to weaken iPhone and Android security

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FBI Director James Comey has been on a media tour lately, making an anti-encryption pitch to the public. Apple’s new encryption standards, Comey has argued, are an unnecessary hurdle to law enforcement — and the FBI needs an easy way to bypass them. Now Comey is bringing the argument straight to Congress, asking them to update a law to allow backdoors in smartphones.

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