Valve adds a Terry Pratchett tribute to its most-played game

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This March, the literary world lost one of its best-loved luminaries after author Terry Pratchett died at the age of 66 following the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The depth and breadth of appreciation for his work have been evident all around the world in a variety of tributes — and now Valve is joining in with a subtle homage in its latest update to Dota 2, which adds a new item by the name of Octarine Core.

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Watch live at 3:09AM ET as NASA launches a resupply mission to the ISS

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Just a few hours ago, SpaceX launched Turkmenistan’s first communications satellite into space aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. Now, NASA is about send the next cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station with a Soyuz rocket that will take off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Liftoff is scheduled for 3:09AM ET.

The uncrewed resupply mission will deliver three tons of food and supplies to the ISS astronauts. The Russian-built Progress capsule will dock with the space station at 9:07AM ET. The ISS crew made room for the capsule when they jettisoned the previous Progress capsule over the weekend. It — and the trash it carried — burned up on re-entry early Sunday morning.

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Luke Skywalker shows his family photo album from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

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As Master Yoda famously said, “there is another Skywalker.” Two others, actually, in pictures taken on the set of the classic Star Wars: Return of the Jedi by Luke actor Mark Hamill. The 35-year-old photos, seen in public for the first time on StarWars.com, show Mark Hamill with wife Marilou and son Nathan as they hang out in Yoda’s Dagobah house, chill with Ewoks, and take turns sitting in the Emperor’s chair.

Hamill mentioned the photos during an interview at Star Wars Celebration earlier this month. Of course, none of it’s canon — Luke married Mara Jade, as everyone knows — but it certainly is cute.

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LG’s Urbane Android Wear watch lands in the US for $349

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The first Android Wear device that will come out of the box with Google’s big new software update is now on sale in the US. Google began selling the LG Urbane on its online store today for $349. The watch comes in either a silver or a gold, and Google says new orders will leave its warehouse by Friday, May 8th.

The LG Urbane’s main appeal is that it looks more like a regular “luxury” watch than many other smartwatches. Instead of plastic, it’s made of stainless steel with a leather band, and is one of only a few to sport a round screen. Several other watches with that same idea are in the pipeline, but LG’s basically the first out the gate here and following on the heels of the Moto 360.

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Valve removes Steam’s new paid mods in the face of criticism

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A few days after it introduced a new system in which Steam users could pay for game mods, video game developer and publisher Valve is removing the feature, in the face of widespread criticism from angry players. In a post on Steam’s Workshop, Valve’s Alden Kroll said the team at Valve “didn’t understand exactly what we were doing” by introducing an option for mod-makers to charge for their creations, and that the company “missed the mark pretty badly.”

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Time Warner Cable is reportedly open to being acquired by Charter

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The body of the failed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger isn’t even cold yet, and executives are already exploring new options. Reuters reports that Time Warner is “open” to being acquired by Charter, in a move that would create a cable giant with 15.6 million video subscribers and 16.4 million broadband customers. That’s smaller than the giant that would have been created by a combination of Comcast and Time Warner, which would have had 21.7 million video subscribers and 20.7 million broadband customers. But given the Federal Communications Commission’s close scrutiny of the earlier merger attempt, a Charter bid for Time Warner could still face rough going.

If Charter decided to pursue an acquisition, that would mark its second…

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Tesla invite for April 30th event teases ‘the missing piece’

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Invites have gone out for this week’s Tesla event in Hawthorne, California, just outside Los Angeles at the company’s headquarters. There’s not much to go on, but what’s here is significant and notable: the invitation teases “the missing piece” with the subtle outline of a white box.

Tesla is widely expected to unveil a battery cabinet for homes that would better enable solar energy to be stored, lessening reliance on the grid. A recent report by The Guardian suggests that the cabinet will be available in white or black and will be rented, not bought, for a $1,500 fee followed by small monthly payments — a much easier pill to swallow than an upfront fee that could go into five figures. (It’s no surprise that batteries represent a…

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Best Buy now accepts Apple Pay, coming to stores ‘later this year’

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Best Buy is getting behind Apple Pay. Today the electronics retailer pushed out an update for its iOS app that allows customers to buy items with Apple Pay for home delivery or in-store pickup. Later this year, Best Buy will let shoppers pay by NFC with an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus at its checkout counters. “Today’s consumers have many different ways to spend their money and we want to give our customers as many options as possible in how they pay for goods and services at Best Buy,” the company said in a press release. Tim Cook also shared the news during Apple’s earnings call with investors moments ago.

The announcement is surprising; Best Buy, along with fellow retailers Walmart, Sears, CVS, and Rite Aid, is a member of the Merchant…

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New satellite images of Nepal show earthquake’s devastation

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Over the weekend a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal and the surrounding regions. Two days later we’re still learning about the devastating toll it took on the area — more than 4,000 are presumed dead, 500,000 have been affected, and UNICEF says that one million children are in need of aid.

This afternoon, Digital Globe released the first high resolution maps of the area from after the earthquake hit. In addition, the mapping company — which typically serves up its data to websites like Yahoo — has made interactive versions of the maps using a service called Tomnod. There, users on the ground and around the world can help rescue workers better understand which routes are still navigable or which buildings are damaged by scouring…

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Researchers are working on a patch that can vaccinate wearers against measles

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A small, wearable patch is in development that could change the landscape of vaccinations, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are in the process of creating a microneedle patch that could provide a simpler, safer alternative to standard measles shots.

The patches are around one square centimeter in size and can be applied almost like a sticker. On the underside of each patch are one hundred conical microneedles made of polymer, sugar, and the vaccine. The microneedles are just a fraction of a millimeter long and dissolve within minutes after the patch is applied. The patch can then be discarded.

Human clinical trials could begin in 2017

V…

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Here are the companies offering free or discounted calls to Nepal

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In the aftermath of Nepal’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake, tech and telecom companies are offering free and discounted calling and messaging services to the country as their customers attempt to reach family and friends. Over 4,000 deaths have been confirmed so far, and a massive rescue effort remains ongoing to find those injured by the devastating quake — Nepal’s worst in 80 years. We will update this list as more companies join the effort to make reaching loved ones easier (and cheaper) in the face of tragedy.

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Apple didn’t top its record profit, but business continues to roar

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Apple just reported its second quarter earnings, which shall now be known as the quarter after its biggest quarter of all time. That’s a tough act to follow, yet somehow Apple still managed to outdo everyone’s expectations (including its own) for its past three months of sales, thanks once again to the iPhone. Apple today posted earnings of $13.6 billion on $58 billion in revenue, above both what it forecast and what investors were expecting.

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Apple’s second biggest market is now China, not Europe

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Apple opened five new stores in China during the first quarter of this year, part of a plan to add 40 new retail locations across the country by 2016. Analysts estimated that China was already the biggest purchaser of iPhones in terms of the number of units sold. But this quarter the revenue generated in China passed Europe to become Apple’s second biggest market after The Americas. The company reported $16.823 billion in revenue for Greater China, up 71 percent year over year. It was also the only territory to show positive growth over last quarter’s blowout numbers.

A rising middle class with a taste for goods that convey status has made China one of the most voracious consumers of new Apple products. “You can tell we are…

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Microsoft is bringing apps to its Outlook.com email service

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Microsoft is planning to announce apps and add-ins for Outlook.com later this week. The software giant has started publishing its Build 2015 developers conference schedule a little early, and Outlook.com apps are part of the news. “In under 5 minutes, you can build *one* app, list it in *one* store and have it appear in Outlook.com, Outlook desktop and Office 365,” reads a listing for a session on Outlook.com apps.

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More people are going to buy air conditioners — and they may need a ton of energy

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Air conditioners can feel like nothing short of a godsend at the height of summer, but as climate change drives temperatures higher and income growth increases AC adoption, air conditioning could become as much of a problem as it is a solution. In a new study on AC adoption trends, researchers found that air conditioning adoption is likely to boom over the rest of this century, eventually driving residential electricity usage up 83 percent. The study is being published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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NBC Sports launches on Apple TV, but cable is required for live streams

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NBC Sports Live Extra is the newest “channel” available on Apple TV, and it promises to deliver over 3,000 live streams to viewers each year. Arriving in time for the ongoing Stanley Cup playoffs, the Live Extra app is now available on Apple’s set-top box as well as Roku’s product lineup. NBC says you’ll see much more than hockey in the months ahead; Live Extra will stream the upcoming Summer and Winter Olympics, Sunday Night Football (plus NBC’s pre-season and post-season NFL coverage), the PGA Tour, the Premier League, and original programming. This marks the first time NBC Sports’ app has arrived on TVs. Previously it was only available on smartphones, tablets, and from the web.

But watching live sports will require an…

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Facebook Messenger adds free video calling to take on Skype

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Facebook is rolling out video calling to Messenger today, letting users chat face to face with their friends by tapping a single button inside the app. The free feature, which works over both LTE and Wi-Fi, competes with similar products including Microsoft’s Skype, Google Hangouts, and Apple’s FaceTime. It’s meant for the average user, but should also prove useful to Facebook as it continues developing its Facebook for Work service.

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Samsung’s latest addition to its Rich Accessory Collection is ridiculous

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Samsung wants you to be rich. To feel rich. Just filthy rich. Rich like a king. A king with a case on your Galaxy S6 that says “love” on the back.

As part of its Rich Accessory Collection, Samsung has introduced new cases for the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge designed by Romeo Bratto, an artist obviously worthy of building rich accessories. “My art brings a feeling of happiness, love, joy, and passion,” Bratto said. Happiness. Passion. Richness.

But there’s one problem: Bratto’s cases look like he threw some stickers on the back of a clear case. Very, very far from rich. Could Samsung be pulling a fast one on us? Could this case just be a regular one with a few colorful stickers and a jacked-up price? It couldn’t be. Though if it…

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Audi will now rent you an R8 supercar for $1,195 per day

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Audi has just launched its “Audi on demand” service as a pilot program in San Francisco, which offers a variety of Audi models to rent on a per-day basis, up to 28 days at a time. Even more interesting, though, is how they’re doing it: starting, locking, and unlocking the cars all takes place through a smartphone app, with a digital key card as a backup option (you don’t want to be left stranded if your phone dies, for instance). Rather than picking up and dropping off your car at a particular location, concierges can drop off and retrieve cars anywhere of your choosing within San Francisco’s city limits.

We’re not just talking about A4s, either: you can get everything from an A5 for $200 per day up to an R8 Spyder for $1,285 per day….

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Snapchat is launching a news division

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Snapchat is forever expanding. According to Politico, storied political correspondent Peter Hamby is leaving CNN to join Snapchat as Head of News. While Hamby will stay on as a CNN contributor through 2016, his new focus will be to lend his considerable political and digital acumen to the social media network as it continues to grow its news product.

Hamby has served as national political reporter at CNN for eight years, rising to prominence after embedding with presidential candidates during the 2008 and 2012 elections. This experience led to him publish “Did Twitter Kill the Boys on the Bus?” a paper that examined how social media changed political figures’ relationships with reporters. With the 2016 election on the horizon, Hamby…

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