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At any given moment there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the Web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find there’s no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there – alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the Pebble clones and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting projects out there this week. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Sprite — Ultraportable canister drone

Sprite

Generally speaking, existing drones just aren’t that portable. You can’t put them in a backpack, and you can’t fold them up.  Sprite wants to change all that. It’s durable, water-resistant, and uses a coaxial rotor design (that’s two rotors stacked one atop the other), making it more compact than competitors. The entire cylindrical aircraft is just 3.8 inches in diameter, 13.2 inches long, and weighs 2.6 pounds.

The basic model Sprite will contain an onboard GPS, programmable autopilot controls, and a gimbal-stabilized HD camera capable of capturing 1080p video and still images (2,304 x 1,536 resolution). For those of you who already own action cams, the drone’s onboard camera can be interchanged for a GoPro or any compatible small camera purchased separately. The basic model doesn’t offer a video-audio transmitter for streaming live first-person video, but the platform is designed so that pilots can integrate their own transmitters if desired.

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Ever tried looking at the sun with your bare eyes? Too bright, right? Now imagine looking at something with the brightness of 300 trillion suns. That's how intense "the most luminous galaxy found to date" is, so much so that NASA has created a new classification for it and the 19 other similar galaxies it has discovered: extremely luminous infrared galaxies, or ELIRGs. Scientists have recently spotted the ELIRGs in infrared images of the sky taken by the agency's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space telescope in 2010. This particular one is located 12.5 billion light years away, which means it started forming soon after the universe was born 13.8 billion years ago. As for why it's so incredibly brilliant, NASA JPL scientist Chao-Wei Tsai says it "may be from the main growth spurt of the galaxy's black hole."

See, some galaxies have supermassive black holes in the center that actively absorb gas, dust and other matter that form a disc around them. These discs radiate a ton of energy and make the black holes look brighter than stars. Some black holes are a lot more ravenous than others, though, attracting more matter than their less voracious counterparts and, as such, are several degrees more luminous and massive. To wit: the bigger the black hole, the larger the disc and the brighter the whole galaxy.

There are several possible reasons why the black hole in this record breaker is so huge. According to the scientists' paper, it could have just been born big, so it's only natural for it to consume more food than usual. We might also just be seeing a period in its life -- remember, the light WISE spotted was from 12.5 billion light years ago! -- when it was bending the limit of black hole feeding. Finally, it might not be spinning as fast as other black holes, which allows it to go on a sustained binge eating, so to speak. One of the paper's co-authors, Andrew Blain, describes it as "winning a hot-dog-eating contest lasting hundreds of millions of years." You'd have a tough time eating hot dogs while whirling very, very fast, after all.

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An anonymous reader writes: Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory have successfully uploaded and applied a software patch to NASA's Curiosity Rover on Mars. The patch fixes a focusing problem that cropped up in November when the laser that helps to focus one of its cameras failed. "Without this laser rangefinder, the ChemCam instrument was somewhat blind," said Roger Wiens, ChemCam principal investigator at Los Alamos. "The main laser that creates flashes of plasma when it analyzes rocks and soils up to 25 feet [7.6 meters] from the rover was not affected, but the laser analyses only work when the telescope projecting the laser light to the target is in focus." Before the fix, scientists had to shoot images at nine different focus settings to distill a decent set of data. Now, they say the new software results in better images in a single shot than even before the laser broke down. The program that runs the instrument is only 40 kilobytes in size.
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After Ireland became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote, Australian politicians and the public took to social media to express their opinion on the topic — with an overwhelming number calling for a similar change Down Under.

On Twitter, past and present Australian politicians from the traditionally left-leaning parties, including independents, the Australian Greens and the Labor Party, expressed admiration for Ireland and support for marriage equality in Australia.

Outstanding result for marriage equality in Ireland. If we can't break impasse in Oz parliament, perhaps time for referendum of our own. KR

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Posted by on in RE/Code

BlackBerry confirmed on Saturday that it plans to cut jobs in the unit responsible for its smartphones as it seeks to make that shrinking business profitable.

The company said it has “made the decision to consolidate (the) device software, hardware and applications business, impacting a number of employees around the world.”

BlackBerry did not quantify the number of workers that would be affected.

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Yesterday, SpaceX released footage of a May 6th pad abort test for its Crew Dragon spacecraft. The video is filmed from the point-of-view of an astronaut inside the rocket — the rocket that accelerates from zero to 100 mph in 1.2 seconds, that is. SpaceX was testing the process of ejecting crew members from the spacecraft if anything were to go wrong during takeoff.

Unsurprisingly, it's quite a ride. The Dragon launches, zooms into the air, and then releases parachutes. It's kind of like a low-stakes flight simulator, but it might make you very dizzy. Following the launch, SpaceX said the test was a success.

According to SpaceX, Dragon currently carries only cargo to space, but its first manned flight is expected to take place in two to three years.

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Editor’s note: Len Shneyder is the director of Industry Relations at Message Systems; he has more than a decade of experience in the email marketing, deliverability and digital marketing space.

Funding events over the last five quarters have shown investors to be bullish on companies engaged in email. From analytics to infrastructure, advertising to services, and everything in between, the email ecosphere has been infused with $364.5 million in funding. The recent growth of these freshly funded companies underscores how important solid, reliable and measurable email is to startups and enterprises.

Starting from the top and working our way down, we can see that from the successful exits of stalwarts such asResponsys and Exact Target, to giant rounds of funding for Campaign Monitor, email is a priority that comes with a rather large price tag.

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pratt.jpgHow thoughtful to apologize in advance. CBRTrailers/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

So tell me, what was your character's motivation in running away from that vast dinosaur?

It's questions such as that which drive actors demented. Well, more demented than they already are.

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A satellite view of arctic ice

For most of the past two decades, a handful of climate change scientists have had the CIA's MEDEA (Measurement of Earth Data for Environmental Analysis) program as an ace in the hole: they could draw on classified info from spy satellites and subs to study global warming in extreme detail. However, they'll now have to make do with alternatives. The agency has shut down MEDEA, saying that its projects to study the security implications of climate change "have been completed." While the CIA says it'll still "engage external experts" on the subject, it won't be providing consistent access to its extremely accurate and rare data.

Whether or not the closure is a major problem depends on who you ask. There are doubts that the CIA is really a good leader in climate research, and it's safe to say that the organization typically has its hands full with the espionage business. However, there are also concerns that officials are cutting off access to accurate info at the very moment when things are getting complicated -- researchers need more data, not less. That may not be as much of an issue in the long run as non-classified satellites provide increasingly valuable findings, but the loss is still bound to hurt for at least a while.

[Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Flickr]

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Posted by on in Lifehacker

This Week's Top Downloads

Every week, we share a number of downloads for all platforms to help you get things done. Here were the top downloads from this week.

This Week's Top Downloads

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$900.00
End Date: Thursday May-28-2015 15:12:55 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $900.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
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A Public Service Warning From Pizza Hut on the Dangers of Selfie Sticks

Pizza Hut stopped tasting good a long time ago. The company’s recent parody of selfie sticks, however, is spot on.

According to the video’s earnest narrator, our selfies face an existential threat. What, you ask, could endanger the sacred selfie? None other than the absurd stick invented to turn every life experience into a desperately angled plea for social media likes.

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Edward Snowden depicted on a German parade float. The US Senate is set to reconvene for a last-minute session regarding an NSA spy program revealed by Snowden in 2013.Edward Snowden depicted on a German parade float. The US Senate is set to reconvene for a last-minute session regarding an NSA spy program revealed by Snowden in 2013. Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

The National Security Agency's access to phone-call data may well be cut off -- at least temporarily -- after the US Senate failed to reach a compromise about a controversial NSA surveillance program prior to a crucial deadline.

The Senate failed Saturday to pass an extension of provisions of the USA Patriot Act that expire June 1 and have served as the legal justification for the NSA's current, wholesale collection of telephone data. The spy agency has said such collection is crucial in fighting terrorism.

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Noisli for Chrome Generates Background Sound to Keep You Productive

Chrome: We’re big fans of the Noisli web app, which allows you to create background noise so you can focus on your work. The new Chrome extension works the same way, but you don’t need to keep that extra tab open to use it.

The Chrome extension connects to the web app, so all the noise generation combos you’ve saved there are accessible from the extension. You can also set up a timer if you like to use Noisli as a motivator for work. If you’re a user of the web app or the iOS app, the extension works between them all.

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“Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water…” So Nick Carraway describes the fancy, fictionalized area of Long Island in The Great Gatsby. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald was inspired to pen the book during his time living in Great Neck, according to scholars.

Fitzgerald and wife, Zelda, lived there between 1922 and 1924 and whooped it up Roaring-Twenties style with their extravagant neighbors, Kirk Curnutt, an English professor at Troy University, tells the Wall Street Journal. Now his (modernized) home is on sale for $3,888,888.

Last purchased by Larry Horn in 2008 for $4.2 million, the home has seven bedrooms, six full baths, and one partial. Fireplaces, an office, a gym, and an eat-in kitchen are spread throughout the 5,174-square-foot house. Built in 1918, the house boasts Mediterranean-style of architecture. The property, located on 0.42 acres, isn’t actually on the water, so there won’t be any green lights across the bay to keep you up at night.

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Cyrus Farivar

It is hard to overstate how much I love the British mobile provider Three and how I wish it would come to the United States.

My fellow Americans, let me (again) re-iterate how badly we’re all getting overcharged: Three offers a 30-day prepaid plan with unlimited data, unlimited texts, and 200 minutes of domestic calling, all for £20 ($31). That’s about one-third less than what I pay right now Stateside.

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Europeans love little better than a nice cup of tea. Which means an awful lot of water is being boiled daily — only a portion of which is actually necessary, given most people aren’t fastidious enough to boil only the quantity of liquid they actually need to fill their cup or teapot.

Part of this wastage boils down to (inevitable) human laziness. But it can also be viewed as a byproduct of design. The volume of the kettle as a container has a suggestive effect, encouraging the user to fill it up before they hit the on switch.

And even though most kettles have a measuring scale to offer guidelines on how much water to boil based on how many cups you need, cup sizes vary and the minimum measure is still often more than is needed if you’re just making the one cuppa.

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Five Years Ago

There was plenty of ridiculousness from Hollywood this week in 2010. For one thing, movie studies were decidedly not following through on their "promises" to offer lots of new content if they could only break your TV with selectable output control, while the MPAA was also bizarrely focused on getting soldiers to stop buying bootleg DVDs, and Hurt Locker producer Nicholas Chartier was angrily defending his crusade against downloaders. Of course, given Hollywood's remake culture, it was no surprise that the studios were starting to run into copyright problems of their own (and given its anti-piracy culture, it was no surprise to see different anti-piracy solutions suing each other over patents). Not to mention the irony of Time Warner Cable standing up against automated copyright filings, or actor Peter Serafinowicz explaining why he even pirates movies he's in.

The UK was still grappling with the realities of the Digital Economy Act. We wondered if it would interfere with London's ambition to offer free wi-fi, while one regulator said the act only applies to big wireline ISPs and several politicians started trying to repeal it altogether. Copyright shenanigans were all around on the music side of things too: ASCAP bullied another local coffee shop into no longer playing local bands while a massive performance royalty rate hike in Australia drove gyms to start ditching pop music, and it became increasingly clear just how much the RIAA had clogged up the court system with its lawsuits.

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An anonymous reader writes: The CTO behind Lucidchart, an online diagramming app, recently cited the open source rbush project as an invaluable tool for helping implement an "in-memory spatial index" that "increased spatial search performance by a factor of over 1,000 for large documents." My question is this: what risks does a SaaS company like Lucidchart face in making most of their own code public, like Google's recent move with Chrome for Android, and what benefits might be gained by doing so? Wouldn't sharing the code just generate more users and interest? Even if competitors did copy it, they'd always be a step behind the latest developments.
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H_51953370Irish voters legalized same-sex marriage in a nationwide vote on May 22, 2015.

Image: EPA/AIDAN CRAWLEY

2015-05-23 18:22:41 UTC

DUBLIN — Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by nationwide popular vote on Saturday.

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