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31Dec/150

USPS’ 2016 stamps celebrate Pluto’s exploration

Besides the Pluto Explored! stamps, the USPS is releasing a number of other space-themed designs. They include full-disk images of our solar system's planets taken within the last 50 years and ones featuring the full moon. Finally, and most importantly for stamp-collecting Trekkies out there, the Postal Service is celebrating Star Trek's 50th anniversary with four colorful digital illustrations inspired by the franchise. May you live long and prosper in the age of emails and delivery drones, USPS, may you live long and prosper.

[Image credit: USPS/Antonio Alcalá © 2016/Greg Breeding under the art direction of William Gicker © 2016/Heads of State under the art direction of Antonio Alcalá © 2016]

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/12/31/usps-2016-space-stamps/

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31Dec/150

UK trains to let contactless cards act as paper tickets

The specifics of the rollout are unclear, but The Telegraph says it could happen "as soon as next year." The UK Cards Association, which represents the major banks, building societies and credit card companies, is reportedly spearheading the scheme with the Department for Transport and the Rail Delivery Group, which represents Network Rail and British train operators. Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, told the newspaper:

"Alongside the UK Card Association, we are in the early stages of exploring how passengers could pay for and store tickets on their contactless credit or debit cards. This is part of our wider aim to improve the experience of rail passengers and move towards smarter types of ticket."

Such a system would be a huge improvement. At the moment, even if you buy a ticket online, you have to find a machine at the station and punch in a reservation number. Which is fine, except when it's absurdly busy (hello, New Year's Eve) and you're rushing for a train. Skipping the paper ticket part entirely would be convenient for some travellers and potentially reduce the number of people waiting to use the self-service machines. A truly smart system, of course, would let you tap in without a prior booking, and have Network Rail figure out your correct fare on the other side.

But one step at a time, eh?

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/12/31/contactless-cards-train-tickets/

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31Dec/150

3D printed digital sundial is brilliant and insane

The system isn't without limitations, since it'll only work between 10 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. In addition, it can only tell the time in 20 minute intervals, so you won't be ditching your oven timer for this unit any time soon. If you want one, then you're in luck, because Mojoptix sells them on his Etsy store -- although since it takes 35 hours to manufacture each one, be prepared for a long wait. If, however, you have your own 3D printer and some spare time, the engineer has helpfully open-sourced the plans, so you can knock one up at home if that's preferable. Oh, and watch the 15-minute tutorial video to watch the device in action and learn more about how it's created.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/12/31/digital-sundial/

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31Dec/150

Twitter for Mac is finally updated

While Twitter for Mac development has been in hibernation, third-party apps like Tweetbot and the company's own Tweetdeck have taken its place on my users' desktops. Unfortunately, third-parties don't have the full access to all of Twitter's features like group DMs and Tweetdeck can be a bit of a handful for someone that just wants to keep up with their timeline.

But there are features that some users have become accustomed to with those other apps that Twitter still doesn't have, like timeline syncing. Maybe that update will be out by 2018.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/12/30/twitter-for-mac-update/

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31Dec/150

Steam’s Christmas privacy issues affected 34,000 users

On Christmas day, up to 34,000 Steam members were able to view other users' private information, including billing and email addresses, following a glitch triggered by a denial-of-service attack, Valve announced today. On the day of the attack, Valve said that the glitch was the result of a caching issue, and that users were able to view strangers' information, though they couldn't take action on other people's accounts. Valve's update today clarifies the caching issue, attributing it to the DoS attack.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/12/30/steams-christmas-privacy-issues-affected-34-000-users/

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31Dec/150

Apple’s in-store workshops offer art and photography tips

If you're looking to get some photography tips for that shiny new iPhone you got for Christmas, Apple is offering just that. The company will host mobile photography and art workshops at its retail locations next month. For iPhone photographers, the workshop will focus on techniques and accessories for improving the overall quality of images, including tips for long exposure and time lapse. If you're more of the artsy type, another tutoring session will show you how to use the iPad as a tool for sketching, drawing and painting.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/12/30/apples-in-store-workshops-art-photography/

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31Dec/150

House looks into claims the NSA spied on Congress

There's potential for trouble. While the White House reportedly didn't order the eavesdropping, it also didn't stop the activity when it found out. Moreover, this came after officials claimed that the US no longer snoops on NATO members' heads of state -- apparently, that courtesy doesn't extend to allies outside of the region. Even if any surveillance was completely above-board, it'll still raise questions about where and when the NSA is allowed to operate.

[Image credit: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite]

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/12/30/house-probes-nsa-spying/

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31Dec/150

T-Mobile says it doesn’t ‘throttle’ YouTube, it ‘downgrades’

T-Mobile's Binge On service allows eligible customers to stream videos from select services -- Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu and others -- without eating into their data allowances. The catch? Binge On videos are streamed at 480p by default. YouTube isn't included in Binge On, but recently the company accused T-Mobile of "throttling" its service regardless. This isn't an accurate characterization, a T-Mobile spokesperson told DSLReports in the following statement:

"Using the term 'throttle' is misleading. We aren't slowing down YouTube or any other site. In fact, because video is optimized for mobile devices, streaming from these sites should be just as fast, if not faster than before. A better phrase is 'mobile optimized' or a less flattering 'downgraded' is also accurate."

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/12/30/t-mobile-says-it-doesnt-throttle-youtube-it-downgrades/

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31Dec/150

Near-infrared dye helps doctors spot cancer

Doctors regularly use dyes to highlight blood vessels that would normally be hard to see, but there's now the possibility that they'll use those chemicals to find cancer, too. Stanford researchers have developed a medical dye that emits light at a near-infrared wavelength, which produces sharper images that are visible at deeper skin layers. That, in turn, would let health care workers detect near-the-surface tumors such as breast cancer and melanoma. It leaves the body within a day, so you wouldn't have to worry about any long-term effects.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/12/30/near-infrared-dye-reveals-cancer/

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31Dec/150

Microsoft released a new selfie app for iOS because YOLO

A new iPhone app, appropriately titled "Microsoft Selfie," promises to help improve your front-facing camera game by automatically adjusting exposure and clearing up your horrible skin imperfections (at least that's what it seemed to do for me). It also reduces noise and takes into account a variety of factors like age, gender, skin tone and lighting when making its adjustments.

The results, at least on my end, were a little startling -- it smoothed out my face to the point where I was a bit uncomfortable with the results. Fortunately, there's a slider that you can use to adjust exactly how much processing the app will apply to the final photo before saving it to your camera roll. Naturally, there are also some filters down below, and you can also apply all of these changes to existing photos in your library as well as stuff you shoot on the fly.

Selfies are getting more and more popular, so it's not a bad idea to make them look better as well as easier to capture -- to that end, the app would be more useful if it launched directly into the front-facing camera view rather than presenting you with options to either take a photo or select a photo. But other than that, this seemingly silly and somewhat insignificant app could actually find a place on the home screen of selfie-obsessed iPhone users. If you want to take it for a spin, download it now from iTunes.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/12/30/microsoft-selfie-app-for-iphone/

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