Instagram introduces endlessly looping videos to please advertisers

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Instagram has tweaked its video settings so that clips automatically replay in users’ streams — a change that will be mainly welcomed by #brands keen to get as many views for their ads as possible. The users themselves might be less happy as the clips also autoplay, eating up mobile data. Users can choose to have videos preload on Wi-Fi only to save data, but this is not the default option and there’s no way to disable autoplaying altogether.

The change also brings Instagram’s video service closer to rival Vine’s. However, while Vine’s six-second clips are often designed to be looped, Instagram’s 15-second videos generally are not. The Facebook-owned Instagram first introduced video ads in October last year, but was criticized for…

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US colleges offer free food to students who ignore their phones in class

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Thousands of college students in the United States are being bribed to ignore their phones during class with free food and store discounts. Students at colleges including Penn State, and California State University, Chico, have downloaded an app called Pocket Points that tracks how long a smartphone is kept locked and gives out points accordingly. The app — first developed by a student at the Chico university — encourages students to earn points by ignoring their mobile devices, rewarding them with treats for paying attention to the classes they pay thousands of dollars for.

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Sony will spend $15 million to deal with cyberattack fallout

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Sony was meant to announce its third-quarter earnings today, but since the catastrophic cyberattack directed at Sony Pictures took out much of its accounting equipment, the company is only able to issue approximate guidance for now. And there’s at least some good news: the company estimates it made a net profit of ¥89 billion ($756 million) between October and December, up 238 percent from a year earlier.

Operating profit is forecast at ¥178.3 billion ($1.51 billion), and revenue is expected to have increased 6 percent year-on-year to ¥2.56 trillion ($21.7 billion). Sony has revised its forecast for the financial year ending in March; it still expects to make a net loss, but now estimates that it will be ¥170 billion ($1.44 billion)…

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Madame Tussauds is recreating Star Wars in wax

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Your chance to take selfies with Yoda, Han Solo, and Chewbacca is almost here — dead-eyed wax versions of the Star Wars heroes, at least. London’s venerable waxwork museum, Madame Tussauds, is opening a special multi-million dollar Star Wars show this May in the British capital, in collaboration with Disney and Lucasfilm. The exhibition will recreate 11 sets from the two Star Wars movie trilogies, including Yoda’s swampy home on the planet of Dagobah, the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit, and the Mos Eisley cantina where either Greedo or Han shot first, depending on who you believe.

The exhibition comes only six months ahead of the release of the seventh Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, but it won’t feature any waxy versions of characters…

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Windows RT is officially dead

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Microsoft was left alone as the last manufacturer of Windows RT-based tablets, and now the software giant is no longer producing any RT devices. A Microsoft spokesperson has confirmed to The Verge that the company is no longer manufacturing its Nokia Lumia 2520 Windows RT tablet. “We are no longer manufacturing Nokia Lumia 2520; however, those still eager to buy Nokia Lumia 2520 should visit Microsoft Retail Stores, MicrosoftStore.com, third-party retailers and resellers for the latest availability.” The confirmation comes just a week after Microsoft revealed it has stopped manufacturing the Surface 2, another Windows RT tablet.

While Lenovo, Asus, Samsung, and Dell backed Windows RT initially, all of the tablet makers pulled out due to…

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Apple Watch apps for Tesla and Todoist show promise

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With the April release of the Apple Watch getting closer, some developers have started showing off the apps they’ve built for Apple’s first wearable, and we have two early standouts. Todoist has shared its upcoming Apple Watch app with TechCrunch, and Eleks Labs, a Ukraine-based developing group has built an app that will let you control your Tesla directly from your wrist.

Eleks’ Apple Watch app displays the battery level, range, temperature of your Tesla on the main screen, and can lock and unlock the car, turn on your headlights, and control the air condition. It will even allow you to honk the horn and open the sunroof. But according to Eleks, building the app was anything but easy, thanks to a number of faults within WatchKit….

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There’s now a ‘live’ Jurassic World webcam

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It’s another four months until the release of Jurassic World, but you can gawk at more of the film’s universe today — or at least some of its extras. Universal Pictures has put up “live” park cams that hop to various parts of Jurassic World’s fictitious dinosaur park. There are no actual dinosaurs to see, just tourists who are seemingly oblivious to the impending peril set to befall the park. There are 14 cams in all, including eateries and employee break rooms, all the way to the T. rex Paddock where — in proper Jurassic Park fashion — there is no T. rex to be seen. There’s even a view of the line for the gyrospheres, which basically looks like the line to every amusement park ride ever, albeit on a tropical island.

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Pope Francis is holding a Google Hangout this week

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For a few years now, Google has been using Hangouts to connect the public with celebrities and world leaders, from David Beckham to President Obama. This week, Google has grabbed another huge figure: Pope Francis. Francis will chat with children who have disabilities and special needs in Brazil, India, Spain, and the United States. He’ll be located in the Vatican when the chat goes live this Thursday at 10:00 AM ET / 4:00 PM CET.

Francis has been embracing technology in a number of ways, and he’s spoken highly in the past of its ability to connect people. This will actually be his second Hangout — he held a first back in September, when he also spoke with students. Both Hangouts were held in partnership with Scholas, an educational…

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SXSW unveils film festival lineup, including new Steve Jobs documentary

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SXSW, one of the year’s biggest celebrations of startups, film, and music, kicks off next month. The weeklong festival’s film lineup has just been announced, and it features a number of heavy hitters, including the world premiere of Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney’s new documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine.

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Watch a live stream of the only remaining McDonald’s hamburger in Iceland

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The last surviving order of a McDonald’s hamburger and fries made in Iceland is now viewable via live stream. Purchased on October 30th, 2009, the meal is roughly five-and-a-quarter years old. Its original owner, Hjörtur Smárason, purchased the meal a day before the final McDonald’s closed in Iceland and kept the dish on his garage shelf until a year ago when it moved into storage at the National Museum in Iceland.

I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a decaying hamburger today

Humans local and abroad can now watch the food decay at its latest home. Bus Hostel Reykjavik in Iceland has begun displaying the meal and also broadcasting real-time footage over a dedicated live stream. How does a McDonald’s hamburger and fries order look after all…

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ARM just introduced the processors that’ll power smartphones in 2016

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ARM has just released a suite of new CPU and GPU designs that’ll make 2016’s mobile devices faster and — more importantly — more power-efficient. The core of the new processors ARM is introducing is the new Cortex-A72 mobile CPU — it’s rated at 3.5 times faster than the current generation Cortex-A15 that started shipping in late 2012 in the Nexus 10, and it uses 75 percent less energy than the A15 under identical workloads.

The new A72 can also be paired with ARM’s existing Cortex-A53 processor in something the company calls its big.LITTLE configuration — this saves the A72 for more heavy lifting while the lower power A53 handles most of the day-to-day tasks. When running in that configuration, ARM says that’ll supply an additional 40…

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Felicity Jones takes the lead role in the mysterious Star Wars spinoff

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Hot off The Theory of Everything and her Oscar nomination for best actress, Felicity Jones is said to have been cast as the lead in the first Star Wars spinoff. The Hollywood Reporter first announced the news, with other Hollywood news outlets corroborating shortly thereafter. Despite this sudden burst of press, details on the new movie remain as mysterious as ever — it’s not even clear whether Jones will be playing the foremost character or simply a leading role. Aaron Paul is reportedly being considered for another leading role.

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The web’s inventor rallies Europe in support of net neutrality

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There’s only one person in the world that can begin a blog post with the words “when I invented the Web,” and Sir Tim Berners-Lee has done it today in the aid of encouraging the adoption of EU-wide net neutrality rules. “My vision was that anyone, anywhere in the world could share knowledge and ideas without needing to buy a license or ask permission from myself or any CEO, government department or committee,” says Berners-Lee. The web was deliberately built as a “a neutral, creative and collaborative space,” and he wants to see it continue as such.

The European Parliament has proposed a strong set of net neutrality regulations that would prohibit member states and companies operating within them from discriminating between various…

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Hollywood’s go-to helicopter pilot can now fly drones instead

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The FAA today issued eight more exemptions for commercial drone use in the US, bringing the total number of companies allowed to fly small UAVs up to 24. Of the exemptions, the ones granted to one Alan Purwin could be the biggest boon for Hollywood, since Purwin has been the go-to aerial coordinator on many of the biggest blockbusters of the last 20 years.

Purwin has been working in the industry since serving as the helicopter pilot in 1984’s AirWolf. Since then, the pilot has been everywhere, founding Helinet Aviation, a helicopter transportation service that works with filmmakers, and acquiring Shotover Systems, an HD cinematography outfit. Both companies also received exemptions. Purwin’s credits are incredibly extensive, as he has…

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Razer’s Blade gaming laptop gets more power, still looks great

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Razer’s not giving up in its quest to build the perfect laptop for gamers; today, the company announced an updated version of its 14-inch Razer Blade. Launching at Microsoft Stores on February 16th (you can place an order starting today), the new Blade starts at the same $2,199 as the model it’s replacing. From the outside, things look more or less the same compared to what we saw in March of last year. The Razer Blade still houses its powerful silicon inside a nice aluminum chassis, and this revision sticks with the same, plenty sharp 3200 x 1800 multi-touch display as last time. It’s light, it feels incredibly solid, and it’s still one of the most capable Windows laptops on the market.

Changes start with the machine’s memory. It now…

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The FAA wants to help US companies do business on the moon

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US companies might be able to use the existing licensing process used for space launches to claim lunar territory, according to documents obtained by Reuters.

In a letter to Bigelow Airspace — a maker of inflatable space habitats — the Federal Aviation Agency says it intends to “leverage the FAA’s existing launch licensing authority to encourage private sector investments in space systems by ensuring that commercial activities can be conducted on a non-interference basis.”

That means that just by setting up a habitat, Bigelow would be able to claim exclusive rights to that territory. Furthermore, any company staking a claim could tap “related areas” for mining, exploration, and other activities.

Nothing is set in stone, however….

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Teenage coders behind Tampon Run take their feminist game to the App Store

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There’s no known antidote to the toxicity of Gamergate, but one good way to recuperate is by directing your attention to the teenage creators behind a game called Tampon Run. Sophie Houser, 17, and Andrea Gonzales, 16, met during a summer program run by the non-profit Girls Who Code. For their final project, the New York City high school students built a game to try to de-stigmatize menstruation by letting players shoot tampons (not guns) at their enemies. The game brought so much attention to its precocious creators (and the taboo subject) that the pair is launching a new-and-improved mobile version in the Apple App Store today.

Not convinced getting your period is all that taboo? Try walking through your office carrying a tampon in…

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Pixie’s new bluetooth beacons make it harder for you to lose your stuff

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Whether you’ve left a wallet in a cab or misplaced something at home, losing your things is a real annoyance. What’s worse is that it feels like a problem we shouldn’t have to deal with in the age of smart devices. Sure, sometimes you can use Find my iPhone, but what about objects that don’t have smart technology inside? About a dozen companies have fashioned solutions for these items — from Tile, to Estimote, to Motorola — but none are perfect. And most of these companies still haven’t solved the biggest problems: size, range, and location accuracy.

Now, a new company called Pixie has announced a product that looks like it can take this market to the next step. It’s called the Pixie Point. The Point is an always-on location tag…

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