Instagram releases three new filters and plans to keep making more

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Some good news for Instagram fans: three new photo filters are arriving today, and Instagram plans to keep adding more in the near future. The app has gone for long periods of time without adding new filters — in December, it added five new ones after a two-year break — but we apparently won’t be seeing extended gaps like that any longer. Instagram intends to add new filters “more regularly going forward,” which should be music to the ears of its users who don’t like having to outsource their filtering to other apps.

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Microsoft is losing money on Windows phones

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Microsoft could be about to write-off billions of dollars related to its Nokia phone business acquisition. In a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last week, the software giant revealed that its phone hardware has been losing money. Revenue was $1.4 billion for the quarter ended March 31st, and the cost of that revenue exceeded sales by $4 million. ComputerWorld reports that Microsoft lost around 12 cents per phone, even before the costs of marketing and R&D are even considered.

While that’s not particularly surprising given Microsoft’s focus on low-end handsets, the software giant also warned that it may need to write-off some of the Nokia phone business acquisition. “Given its recent performance, the Phone…

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You can finally choose to play as a girl in Minecraft

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Millions of people play Minecraft, but when you first boot up the game everyone plays as the same character: Steve, a blocky boy in a blue shirt. With an upcoming update, however, that will soon change. “Jolly old Steve doesn’t really represent the diversity of our playerbase,” explains Owen Hill, from developer Mojang. “For that reason, we’re giving all players opportunity to play with an Alex skin instead. She brings thinner arms, redder hair, and a ponytail.” Alex will be available as a free update for “players on all consoles” starting on Wednesday.

While it’s taken a long time, the concept of gender in Minecraft is something the developers have been thinking about for some time. According to creator Markus Persson, who has since…

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A golden sex toy that contains your partner’s ashes

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I’m in the process of moving from New York to Texas. It’s been over a decade since I made a substantial move, packing the entirety of my life into cardboard boxes salvaged from my apartment building’s recycling room. The boxes are full of clothes, video games, and various electronics, but what I’ve stored most carefully between the softest blanket and pillows are the memory boxes. To be honest, I never knew the term memory box to be a thing; I just called them “important shoe boxes.” Inside, I keep random scraps of paper, movie tickets, and photographs that remind me of key moments from my life.

Today, Dezeen taught me about a memory box that blurs the line between life and afterlife. Dutch designer Mark Sturkenboom’s 21 Grams is a…

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‘I wouldn’t say I consider it a threat’: We gave the Apple Watch to a mechanical watchmaker

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Apple completely changed the mobile industry with the iPhone and essentially invented the tablet market with the iPad. Now it’s trying to have the same kind of impact with the Apple Watch, a feat that may be a bit more challenging. The traditional watch industry isn’t in trouble, or in need of reinvention. The nearly recession-proof Swiss watch market has continued to grow, exporting over 28 million watches to the tune of $21 billion in revenue in 2014, and by all indications that growth hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.

This is a new challenge for Apple; can it turn a piece of technology into a massively desired fashion accessory? And can the Apple Watch stand up against its competition, from low-end quartz watches to high-end…

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SpaceX will launch Turkmenistan’s first communications satellite today

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX is off to a busy start in 2015. The company performed its first deep space mission in February, secured $1 billion in funding from Google for its satellite internet project, and has made multiple attempts at landing the first ever reusable rocket — all of which ended in spectacularly calamitous fashion.

Today, however, will be just another job for the private space company, as one of its 224-foot Falcon 9 rockets will put Turkmenistan’s first satellite-based telecommunications system into orbit 22,000 miles above Earth. There will be no attempt to land the rocket’s first stage and no trip to the International Space Station. Mondays, right?

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Alcatel Onetouch Idol 3 review

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Smartphones are expensive. For many of us, they are the most important devices in our lives, justifying their cost. But there’s no ignoring the fact that most smartphones you buy cost $600, $700, or even up to a thousand dollars.

For that price, you generally get a great display, speedy performance, a reliable camera, and easy-to-use software. But what if you didn’t have to spend that much to get those features, and still could have a smartphone just as capable as ones costing many hundreds of dollars more?

That’s the promise offered by Alcatel Onetouch’s new Idol 3. A little known brand in the US, Alcatel Onetouch has produced very low-end models of phones, often branded by the carriers that sell them. The Idol 3 is different: it’s…

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Konami cancels Guillermo del Toro’s Silent Hills game

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After plenty of rumors, Konami has officially announced that Silent Hills — a horror game collaboration between Metal Gear Solid mastermind Hideo Kojima and film director Guillermo del Toro — has been cancelled. “Konami is committed to new Silent Hill titles,” the publisher told Polygon, “however the embryonic Silent Hills project developed with Guillermo del Toro and featuring the likeness of Norman Reedus will not be continued.”

The announcement comes soon after it was revealed that P.T., a free interactive teaser for the gamewould be pulled from the PlayStation store this coming Wednesday. Reedus, meanwhile, who was set to star in the game, tweeted yesterday that he was “super bummed” about the game’s then-rumored cancellation. S…

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Google will pay you to keep your ideas out of the hands of patent trolls

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2013 was a record year for patent lawsuits, which have been rising rapidly. As University of Iowa law professor Jason Rantenan recently pointed out, “in the 16 years from 1994 until 2010, the annual number of patent lawsuit filings doubled; it doubled again in the three years from 2010 to 2013.” Today Google announced a new initiative to try and keep patents out of the hands of patent trolls, entities whose only business is amassing intellectual property and filing lawsuits. Google is calling this new effort the Patent Purchase Promotion. The pitch is simple: make it easier to sell your patents to Google than to the bad guys.

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This animal is so weird that researchers are calling it ‘the platypus of dinosaurs’

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There’s a new dinosaur in town, and it’s pretty damn strange. Despite being related to famous meat-eaters like the Velociraptor and the T. rex, the 3-meter-long Chilesaurus diegosuarezi was a plant eater. Armed with a horned beak, two-finger hands, and a proportionately small head and feet reminiscent of long-necked dinosaurs, Chilesaurus is the ultimate weirdo. Indeed, paleontologists think it’s so odd-looking that they’ve taken to comparing it to the platypus — a duck-billed, beaver-tailed, egg-laying mammal. And now that they’ve found this curious creature, scientists are on the lookout for more.

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What to expect from Microsoft’s most important event of the year

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For Microsoft, 2015 is a year of adjustment. While the software giant focuses its efforts across multiple platforms, Windows is gearing up for big changes. That change will be on full show at Microsoft’s Build developers conference on Wednesday, and it’s a key moment for the company to prove it’s got what it takes to keep Windows relevant in a mobile era that continues to ignore Microsoft’s efforts. With Windows Phone increasingly squeezed out by Android and iOS, this year’s Build conference feels like a last chance for Microsoft to woo mobile developers and get the apps it needs for a successful future.

Microsoft is returning to its roots to bring back the Start Menu and a more PC-friendly version of Windows, and many changes that…

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Major Los Angeles hospital enables Apple’s HealthKit for 80,000 patients

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Apple’s mission to centralize your health data is already receiving strong support from hospitals and medical clinics, especially when compared to similar efforts from Google and Samsung. Now the list of early partners has grown to include Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. According to Bloomberg, the hospital just flipped on support for HealthKit in its patient records systems over the weekend, instantly giving doctors access to synchronized data from hundreds of health and fitness apps that support Apple’s platform. “Rather than turn it on as sort of an opt-in, we’ve basically enabled it for all of our patients,” Darren Dworkin, the hospital’s chief information officer, told Bloomberg. That could enable over 80,000 patients to…

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ESPN sues Verizon over its plan to create slim bundles of cable channels

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Verizon wants to start offering its customers slim bundles of cable channels and the option to swap packages of channels in and out as they choose. The company says its about giving consumers the choice they crave, and it’s clear Verizon feels it need this kind of customization to compete with the broadening array of streaming video options. But ESPN publicly objected to the plan, and today the sports media giant is reportedly suing Verizon for breach of contract.

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Asus takes on the MacBook Pro with its new high end laptop

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While just about every laptop manufacturer has gone after Apple’s MacBook Air, Asus’ latest is aiming for the MacBook Pro. The ZenBook Pro UX501 is Asus’ newest high-powered laptop, featuring an aluminum chassis coming in at just 0.81-inches thick. While it comes in slightly thicker than the MacBook Pro a 0.71-inches, Asus has tried to hit every other benchmark that Apple’s powerhouse laptop is known for. The ZenBook Pro comes with a 2.6GHz quad-core i7 processor, a 512GB PCIe SSD, 16GB of RAM and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M graphics card.

It’s also equipped with a 15.6-inch IPS 4K display, and a Thunderbolt 2.0 port for all of your data-intensive peripherals. According to Asus, the Windows 8.1 laptop will last you around 6 hours on a…

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This Disney channel movie combines popular villains with High School Musical

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The Disney Channel has released a trailer for its new original movie, The Descendants. You know the story: what happens when the kids from the wrong side of the tracks start taking class at the prep school? Except in this case, the wrong side of the tracks is an island full of Disney Villains, and the prep school is attended by princes and princesses.

Cruella de Vil, Evil Queen, Jafar, and Maleficent now have children of the same age, presumably because they all owned ranches in the same suburb and were like, “Oh my gosh, let’s raise our children together and be the cool parents who still drink on the weekends and at holiday barbecues.” The teens use magic spells, dress like extras from Hook, and echo their parents neuroses.

Will they…

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Batman will fight alongside Nightwing and Robin in Arkham Knight

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In addition to the Batmobile carrying extremely heavy ordnance, it looks like the upcoming Batman: Arkham Knight will feature co-op play with some prominent members of the Batman Family. In the latest teaser, Batman takes down thugs with Nightwing, Robin, and Catwoman (and presumably Azrael, though he’s not seen pulling off combos), and each attack is more brutal than the last.

Rocksteady is calling the new feature “Dual Play,” which will allow players to switch back and forth between heroes during combat. It’s a fitting addition, since the trailer makes clear that Bruce will need all the help he can get. The Arkham Knight, a seemingly militarized doppelgänger of the Dark Knight, has arisen in Gotham City, and the threat he poses is…

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The Supreme Court will hear Oklahoma inmates’ lethal injection case this week

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The US Supreme Court will hear a case this week challenging the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s lethal injection procedure, The New York Times reports. The case is being brought by three death row inmates who are arguing for the discontinued use of midazolam, the first drug in Oklahoma’s three-drug execution cocktail. The motion was initially filed by four inmates, but one, Charles Warner, was executed in January despite requesting a stay.

Oklahoma currently uses midazolam as a sedative, despite its questionable effectiveness as one. A petition filed by the inmates at the start of this year argued that midazolam “cannot maintain a deep, coma-like unconsciousness” necessary to prevent the prisoner from feeling excessive pain. Last year,…

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Fans send X-wing into space hoping to score Star Wars tickets

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How badly do you want to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December? Two fans in the UK want to go to the film’s premiere so much that they sent a model X-wing into space in an elaborate quest to get their hands on some tickets.

The video above was created by Project Helium Tears, a two-person group from Essex that uses weather balloons to take photos of Earth from the edge of space. For the group’s latest stunt, they attached a model X-wing to one of their balloons and filmed the results. According to the BBC, the effort cost the duo around £1,200.

It…

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Chipotle is the first fast food chain to remove GMO ingredients

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Chipotle has removed all genetically modified ingredients from its restaurants, according to a report from The New York Times. Chipotle began labeling dishes that contained GMOs in 2013 and had planned to cut the ingredients out of the company supply chain by the end of 2014, but ultimately needed a few extra months to make the switch. The company is the first major fast food chain to entirely remove GMOs from its menus, spanning 1,831 different locations worldwide.

For anti-GMO activists, the hope is that this will inspire similar changes across the industry, similar to the company’s stance on agricultural antibiotics. Since 1999, the company has committed to using meat from animals raised without antibiotics or hormones, despite s…

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Apple Pay will support all major US credit cards when Discover joins this fall

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Apple Pay will have support from all of the major US credit card companies as of this fall, when Discover begins allowing its cardholders to use the new mobile payments service. The service launched in October with support from Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, while Discover remained conspicuously absent. Since then, Apple has continued to add banking partners so that more people can use Apple Pay, and today’s announcement should open the service up to yet a larger market. It’s not clear why it took Discover so long to sign on. Though Apple supposedly receives a small cut of every purchase, Apple’s mobile payments service is one of the few that isn’t trying to cut out credit cards altogether, so it’s generally been seen as…

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