Amazon’s dock makes the Fire tablet a better Echo Show

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The Show Mode Charging Dock for Amazon’s Fire HD 10 and Fire HD 8 tablets is one of those obvious products, something so expected to already be a thing that you’re surprised it didn’t already exist until this month. The $39.99 (HD 8) or $54.99 (HD 10) dock allows you to prop your tablet up and charge its battery at the same time. It also works with the new Show Mode software feature and the existing Alexa voice controls on the Fire tablets to replicate the functionality of Amazon’s Echo Show device.

I’ve been using the Show Mode Charging Dock with a Fire HD 10 in my kitchen for the past week, and I have found it to be a suitable replacement for the Echo Show. It has a larger screen, does all of the same things in terms of functions as…

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Octopath Traveler is a modern take on classic Final Fantasy on the Nintendo Switch

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If there’s one constant for the Final Fantasy series, it’s change. One moment, you’re playing a systems-focused role-playing game like Final Fantasy V, and two decades later, that’s morphed into the strange, open-world road trip of Final Fantasy XV. But this continual metamorphosis also creates a sense of nostalgia. You miss those classic games because they just don’t make them that way anymore. This is particularly true of the 16-bit era Final Fantasy games for Super Nintendo, which ushered in a new wave of Japanese role-playing fans in the 1990s. There are plenty of games that have tried to recapture that magic over the years, but few have done it as successfully as Octopath Traveler, which launches on the Nintendo Switch this Friday.

O…

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Apple’s most expensive MacBook Pro now costs $6,700

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Apple has updated its 13-inch and 15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros today with Intel’s latest eighth-generation chips. It’s also offering up to 32GB of RAM and 4TB of SSD storage — if you’re willing to pay for it. While the base models of Apple’s laptops still cost the same (starting at $1,799 for the 13-inch model or $2,399 for the 15-inch model), the updated MacBook Pro now tops out at a whopping $6,699 for the top configuration. That’s $2,400 more than the best 2017 MacBook Pro you could buy.

That may sound a lot at first, but Apple hasn’t really changed the prices on anything from last year to this year: the top-spec MacBook Pro is priced higher than ever because Apple is offering more options than it has in the past.

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Fortnite season 5 introduces temporal rifts, golf carts, and new locations

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The rocket has brought some big changes to the ever-evolving world of Fortnite. Today marks the fifth season for the battle royale game, which follows a one-time rocket launch event that added a huge crack in the sky and plenty of unfolding mysteries to solve. The big changes in season 5 include the addition of four-person golf carts, the first proper vehicles in the game, following the shopping carts from last season. (And given the game’s history with vehicles, we anticipate some issues this time around.)

As for those rifts that appear all over the map, they’re now interactive. Jump in one, and it’ll teleport you to a different point on the map where you can parachute back down to the ground. There are also some changes to the map…

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Apple worked with Blackmagic on a new external GPU

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To go alongside the newly updated MacBook Pros, Apple is selling a product for users who need more graphic processing power. Apple worked with cinema company Blackmagic on an external GPU based around a Radeon Pro 580 with 8GB of video memory. Apple says it should give 2.8x faster graphics performance on the 15-inch MacBook Pro and 8x faster on the 13-inch.

The Blackmagic eGPU also has two Thunderbolt ports, four USB 3 ports, and one HDMI 2 port, making it a pretty capable docking station as well. It’s the first eGPU to support Thunderbolt displays like the 5K LG monitor Apple recommends for use with the MacBook Pro.

This is an all-in-one eGPU, unlike other chassis-style designs that require you to supply your own card. That makes it…

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Microsoft is updating the Windows Notepad app for the first time in years

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Microsoft is giving its Notepad app for Windows a surprising amount of new features. While the software giant hasn’t updated Notepad for years, the next Windows 10 update will include some highly requested additions. Microsoft is clearly listening to Windows 10 users who use notepad for development, logs, or simple text manipulation.

You’ll soon be able to do wrap around find and replace alongside the ability to zoom into text by holding down the ctrl key and using the mouse wheel to zoom in and out. Microsoft is also adding in extended line ending support so that Unix/Linux line endings (LF) and Macintosh line endings (CR) are supported in Notepad. The status bar will now be enabled by default in Notepad, and it includes the ability to…

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This sun-chasing robot looks after the plant on its head

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Back in school I remember learning that plants are “heliotropic,” meaning they grow towards light. I always found this oddly touching; as if those green tendrils stretching out to the sun proved the plant itself was yearning to live. And why not? That is why they do it.

But what if plants could do more than stretch? What if they could move like animals, independently of their roots? Evolution hasn’t got there yet, but it turns out humans can help. Chinese roboticist and entrepreneur Sun Tianqi has made it happen: modding a six-legged toy robot made by his company Vincross to carry a potted plant on its back.

The resulting plant-robot hybrid looks like a leafy crab or a robot Bulbasaur. It moves towards the sunshine when needed, and…

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Xbox One is getting Dolby Vision support

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Microsoft is preparing to add Dolby Vision support to its Xbox One S and Xbox One X consoles. The addition will mean Microsoft’s consoles join the Apple TV 4K and Google’s Chromecast Ultra as the only streaming devices that currently support both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. Microsoft is testing out its Dolby Vision support with Xbox Insiders right now, and it appears to be limited to streaming apps for now. Netflix is one of the first apps to be updated with Dolby Vision for the Xbox One S and Xbox One X, and it’s not clear if Microsoft plans to extend this to Blu-ray discs too.

Dolby Vision is widely considered to be more superior to the current HDR10 support found on the Xbox One. Dolby Vision adjusts the brightness and color of…

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This electric driverless logging truck can carry up to 16 tons of timber

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Swedish self-driving truck startup Einride is out with another eye-catching prototype. Much like the company’s first autonomous offering, the new T-Log is all-electric and completely driverless, and it completely lacks a front cab for human drivers. But unlike the T-Pod, the T-Log comes equipped with off-roading capabilities and is designed for one specific purpose: hauling tons of gigantic tree logs.

Unveiled on Thursday at the UK’s Goodwood Festival, the T-Log is more powerful than the T-Pod, and it’s designed to carry up to 16 tons of cargo. It can also navigate dense, uneven forest roads, the startup claims, making it ideally suited for logging purposes.

How exactly this truck with no human…

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YouTube will now notify some creators when their videos are stolen

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YouTube is releasing a tool for creators that checks to see if their videos are being stolen. Now, every time a video is uploaded to YouTube, the service will scan and check if the content already exists or is very similar to other videos on the site. It will only identify complete videos, not clips.

The tool, which YouTube is calling the Copyright Match tool, will roll out to creators with more than 100,000 subscribers starting next week. It will roll out to more users over the next few months. Creators who use the tool will be notified if copies of their videos surface on YouTube. If the tool finds matches, creators can then decide what action to take. They can either do nothing, contact the person who made the copy, or ask YouTube to…

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Murda Beatz’s song Fortnite is a #1 Victory Royale

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Fortnite: Battle Royale is indisputably the biggest game on the planet. Players in the World Cup are using its dances to celebrate goals; Drake and Marshmello, two of music’s biggest names, are both avid players; and Epic Games, the company that created Fortnite, is raking in somewhere between $200 and $300 million per month. While plenty of musicians love the game, most aren’t writing songs about playing it. Today, Pitchfork highlighted Murda Beatz, a Canadian rap producer who “has become fearless in his use of samples.” Beatz’s latest sample is ripped directly from Fortnite’s main menu theme song.

Featuring Yung Bans, Ski Mask The Slump God, and Lil Yachty over cavernous bass hits, “Fortnite” is a weirdly upbeat jam. The rappers…

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26 arguments for and against opening Egypt’s new mystery sarcophagus

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Today in news that sounds like the premise of a new action movie, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture announced that an archeological dig unearthed an ancient tomb in Alexandria. The black granite sarcophagus contained in the tomb dates back to the Ptolemaic period (sometime between 323 and 30 BC), and it’s the largest discovery of its kind in the area. We don’t know who or what is in it, and nobody has opened it before, which means humanity is facing a conundrum: do we open this thing or what?

I, for one, think it’s a terrible idea. Who knows what’s in there? Why gamble our fates with a thing that screams “I am cursed”? We know what happened with Pandora. But a part of me, the always-online part that’s already being slowly murdered by the…

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Google’s Gboard keyboard now lets you communicate through Morse code on both Android and iOS

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Google today announced that it is bringing Morse code as an input method to Gboard for iOS. The company first integrated Morse code into the Android version of Gboard (in beta form) shortly after its I/O 2018 keynote. Alongside the debut on iOS, Google says it has made numerous improvements to the Android experience, too.

When activated, Morse code fills the keyboard area with two large dot and dash icons. As you tap the icons, word suggestions will appear at the top of the on-screen keyboard just as they do when you’re using the QWERTY version. Google has created a Morse Typing Trainer game that it says can teach users Morse code in under an hour. You can play it on both mobile and desktop.

Tania Finlayson, an assistive tech developer…

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Apple is reportedly upgrading most of its Mac lineup this fall, including the Mac mini

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Apple supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities has published his research note of predictions for Apple’s fall lineup — and it’s a doozy, via 9to5Mac.

Kuo’s note claims that in addition to the three new iPhone models already rumored to launch, Apple will also update almost all of its Mac and MacBook lineup (including the long-suffering Mac mini). He also says that Apple will introduce new bezel-less Face ID iPads, update the Apple Watch with bigger displays, and release a new pair of AirPods and the AirPower wireless charger that were announced last year.

That’s a lot to take in, so let’s break it all down:

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The best superhero stories admit that superheroes are ridiculous

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Ant Man and the Wasp has plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, including a fight that weaponizes a human-sized Hello Kitty Pez dispenser, and a sequence that turns Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), into a kind of adult toddler. In that sequence, he has to visit his daughter’s elementary school to pick up an important bit of tech. He tries to shrink to insect-size to sneak into the building, but the regulator on his costume that lets him change sizes is malfunctioning, and he ends up about three feet tall — child size. He has to put on a child’s sweatshirt and pretend to be a student in order to sneak past the hall monitor. When he finally gets out of the building and into his partners’ waiting SUV, his scientist associate Hank Pym…

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We have some questions about this blobby yellow bus that dispenses free hot dogs

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There’s a new food truck parked under the Brooklyn Bridge: it’s big, it’s bright yellow, it’s… disturbingly bulbous, and it’s giving out hot dogs — with your choice of ketchup or mustard — for free.

Designed to resemble a curvaceous Volkswagen microbus, Hot Dog Bus is a piece of mobile art that was commissioned by the New York City Public Art Fund from Austrian artist Erwin Wurm. Through the end of summer, visitors are invited to approach this bloated cousin of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile and the Catbus from My Neighbor Totoro and snag one free all-beef hot dog per day. The Public Art Fund estimates that 50,000 hot dogs will be given out by the end of the exhibition.

But the question remains: what the hell is wrong with this bus?

W…

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Facebook sets a new task for AI: guide a virtual tourist around New York

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How do you teach computers to understand language — not just transcribe human speech, but actually comprehend what someone is saying? It’s one of the grand challenges of AI, and we still don’t really know the best way to tackle the problem. Facebook’s AI research lab, FAIR, has one idea: teach AIs to understand language by getting them to guide virtual tourists around New York City.

FAIR is releasing what it calls Talk the Walk, a dataset designed to be used by other researchers. It’s comprised of three elements: small maps of New York City neighborhoods (each a couple of blocks wide), 360-degree photos of the same locations, and sample dialogues of humans guiding one another around these neighborhoods. Basically, it’s everything you…

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Sonos launches AirPlay 2 support for latest speakers

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Sonos is bringing AirPlay 2 support to its modern speakers today through a new software update. AirPlay 2 will work on the new Sonos Beam, Sonos One, Playbase, and second-generation Play:5 speakers, but if you have older speakers then you can group them with one of the compatible speakers to make AirPlay 2 work with them. AirPlay 2 is designed to allow iOS users to select the speakers they want to play music through thanks to its new multi-room audio support.

Siri is also more closely integrated into AirPlay 2 on an iPhone, so you can ask the digital assistant to play music on specific speakers. As modern Sonos speakers support Alexa, you’ll also be able to control the playback of AirPlay 2 music on Sonos speakers. Once the music is…

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Sony announces its Xperia XA2 Plus, a phone to ‘entertain’

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Lots of companies seem to think their phones are the best for content consumption, and that’s a fine way to market a device. A phone that can offer the best viewing, gaming, and scrolling experiences makes for an enticing purchase. Today, Sony is taking literal approach as it introduced its Xperia XA2 Plus, a phone “designed to entertain.”

What does Sony consider specs worthy of entertainment, and how do we feel about them? Primarily, the phone features a 6-inch Full HD+ display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. The device has rounded screen corners and still includes bezels, which is disappointing. At this point, I think most people expect their entertainment-oriented phone to be virtually bezel-less, but for a midrange device, this is…

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