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Posted by on in Gizmodo

This Smartwatch Ditches Apps For Great Design

In a post-iPhone world, saying that apps are useless will probably get you beheaded in the startup community. But the (brave) designers behind Olio, a gorgeous new smartwatch with a minimalist feature set are saying exactly that.

Olio is a company that's been in stealth ('not actually selling anything') mode for a while now. It's led by Steve Jacobs, a former Apple and HP designer — so it's not just another random Kickstarter. And it's selling a promise of a simple smartwatch without apps.

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Posted by on in Slashdot

I think at this point everyone agrees that the STEM job market in the US is screwed up. Right now we're all pointing fingers at eachother blaming millennials, gen X, baby boomers, immigrants, business owners, politicians, civil servants, the whole government, high schools, colleges, testing services, misogynists, political correctness, investors, people who don't invest, Obama, Bush...

Anyone have any ideas on what to do about it? How about we work on that now.

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Authors Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli visited the Apple Store SoHo in New York on Thursday to read selections from their hotly anticipated biography "Becoming Steve Jobs" and field questions from what quickly became a packed house.

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Crown Publishing via Twitter

Schlender and Tetzeli were featured guests of the SoHo Apple Store's meet and greet series that brings in notable authors, filmmakers, musicians and more to talk about their latest projects. Events are free and open to the public, though some presentations with high profile participants require reservations.

Apple's venue completely filled up for today's discussion, which had the authors reading snippets from the book and answering questions from audience members. Some latecomers were left standing in the aisles, according to people who attended.

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Apple's new MacBooks, announced earlier this month, have been upgraded with force-sensitive trackpads. Using the awkwardly named "Force Touch" technology, the pads can tell how hard you are pressing, allowing Apple to replace the old three-finger tap with a new powerfully pressed "Force Click." But the new tech doesn't just let Apple offer more menu options — other app developers can use the increased fidelity of the new trackpads too. Drawing app Inklet becomes the first piece of third-party software to make use of the new technology.

Users can press harder for thicker lines

Inklet users will be able to use a stylus on their 2015 MacBook trackpads to manipulate and draw over images on screen. Users can highlight the section of the image they want to work on in a shape that corresponds to the trackpad itself. Drawing normally creates a light stroke, but more pressure makes for thicker lines, allowing the stylus to work like a digital paintbrush. For fine detail, you'll be able to resize the highlighted area, zooming in to add tiny details or out to create broad brushstrokes.

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SpzToid sends word that the Ellen Pao vs. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers discrimination case wrapped up yesterday. No matter what the outcome turns out to be, it has already effected how business is being done in Silicon Valley. "'Even before there's a verdict in this case, and regardless of what the verdict is, people in Silicon Valley are now talking,' said Kelly Dermody, managing partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, who chairs the San Francisco law firm's employment practice group. 'People are second-guessing and questioning whether there are exclusionary practices [and] everyday subtle acts of exclusion that collectively limit women's ability to succeed or even to compete for the best opportunities. And that's an incredibly positive impact.' Women in tech have long complained about an uneven playing field — lower pay for equal work, being passed over for promotions and a hostile 'brogrammer' culture — and have waited for a catalyst to finally overhaul the status quo. This trial — pitting a disgruntled, multimillionaire former junior partner against a powerful Menlo Park, Calif., venture capital firm — was far from the open-and-shut case that many women had hoped for. More gender discrimination suits against big tech firms are expected to follow; some already have, including lawsuits against Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc."
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Posted by on in Lifehacker

The Ocean Waves Home Screen

It may still be chilly in most parts of the country, but if you long for the summer days of ocean fun, this home screen will get you in the mood.

Like many home screen themes, this is available as a one-click install for Themer, but you can also put it together yourself using Nova Launcher, Zooper Widget Pro, and Tasker. To install the Themer theme:

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Google said it would pay its new chief financial officer, Ruth Porat, more than $70 million in the next two years through a combination of restricted stock units and a biennial grant.

The company hired Morgan Stanley CFO Porat as its finance chief earlier this week, a sign it is aiming to rein in costs as it invests in new businesses such as self-driving cars and Internet-connected eyeglasses.

Porat’s compensation package includes a grant of $25 million through restricted stock units, a $40 million biennial grant in 2016 and a special one-time $5 million sign-on bonus, Google said in a regulatory filing on Thursday.

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Apple's CEO has big-time philanthropy on his list of things to do. James Martin/CNET

Apple CEO Tim Cook is following in the footsteps of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates when it comes to philanthropy. Cook said he plans to give away his fortune after paying for his 10-year-old nephew's college, according to Fortune magazine.

"You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change," Cook told the publication.

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Travis Jeffery is a software developer who’s been using a database system called FoundationDB for a project at his startup. Earlier this week, he noticed that the software had been pulled from the web. He soon received a terse email confirming that the software had been taken down intentionally, but little else. “We have made the decision to evolve our company mission,” it read. “And as of today, we will no longer offer downloads.”

Hours later, TechCrunch reported that FoundationDB had been acquired by Apple. Neither company has responded to our request for confirmation, and FoundationDB hasn’t updated its Twitter account since Monday. The only public acknowledgement the company has made of any changes came is a notice posted to the company’s support site featuring the same text that Jeffery received by email. He still hasn’t heard anything else from the company.

FoundationDB’s apparent shutdown won’t ruin Jeffery or his company. Other FoundationDB users might not be so lucky, however, if support for the technology really is being tanked. Sure, they can still use the copies of FoundationDB they’ve already downloaded and installed. But there won’t be a company providing support, updating the database to work with newer operating systems, or providing security patches.

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Good news from California: a bill requiring warrants for Stingray device usage (among other things) has passed out of a Senate committee and is headed for an assembly vote.
Among other sweeping new requirements to enhance digital privacy, the bill notably imposes a warrant requirement before police can access nearly any type of digital data produced by or contained within a device or service.

In other words, that would include any use of a stingray, also known as a cell-site simulator, which can not only used to determine a phone’s location, but can also intercept calls and text messages. During the act of locating a phone, stingrays also sweep up information about nearby phones—not just the target phone.

Despite similar bills being killed by governor vetoes in 2012 and 2013, California legislators are still looking to reform the state's privacy laws. For one thing, this new bill would put the state's Electronic Communication Privacy Act in compliance with the Supreme Court's recent Riley v. California decision (warrant requirement for cell phone searches incident to arrest), as Cyrus Farivar points out.

The committee passed it with a 6-1 vote, suggesting there's broader support for privacy and Fourth Amendment protections now than there were in the pre-Snowden days. Of course, the usual opposition was on hand to portray those pushing for a warrant requirement as being in favor of sexually abusing children.

[Marty] Vranicar [California District Attorneys Association] told the committee that the bill would "undermine efforts to find child exploitation," specifically child pornography.

"SB 178 threatens law enforcement’s ability to conduct undercover child porn investigation. the so-called peer-to-peer investigations," he said. "Officers, after creating online profiles—these e-mails provide metadata that is the key to providing information. This would effectively end online undercover investigations in California."

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Amazon Forces Workers to Sign Sinister Non-Compete Agreementsxa0;

If you take a temporary factory job at Amazon, you have to sign away your ability to work almost anywhere else, for 18 months after your gig is finished.

The Verge recently got one of the non-compete agreements Amazon makes its low-paid warehouse laborers sign, and they're absurdly vague and wide-reaching:

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HughPickens.com writes Micah Lee writes at The Intercept that coming up with a good passphrase by just thinking of one is incredibly hard, and if your adversary really is capable of one trillion guesses per second, you'll probably do a bad job of it. It turns out humans are a species of patterns, and they are incapable of doing anything in a truly random fashion. But there is a method for generating passphrases that are both impossible for even the most powerful attackers to guess, yet very possible for humans to memorize. First, grab a copy of the Diceware word list, which contains 7,776 English words — 37 pages for those of you printing at home. You'll notice that next to each word is a five-digit number, with each digit being between 1 and 6. Now grab some six-sided dice (yes, actual real physical dice), and roll them several times, writing down the numbers that you get. You'll need a total of five dice rolls to come up with each word in your passphrase. Using Diceware, you end up with passphrases that look like "cap liz donna demon self", "bang vivo thread duct knob train", and "brig alert rope welsh foss rang orb". If you want a stronger passphrase you can use more words; if a weaker passphrase is ok for your purpose you can use less words. If you choose two words for your passphrase, there are 60,466,176 different potential passphrases. A five-word passphrase would be cracked in just under six months and a six-word passphrase would take 3,505 years, on average, at a trillion guesses a second.

After you've generated your passphrase, the next step is to commit it to memory.You should write your new passphrase down on a piece of paper and carry it with you for as long as you need. Each time you need to type it, try typing it from memory first, but look at the paper if you need to. Assuming you type it a couple times a day, it shouldn't take more than two or three days before you no longer need the paper, at which point you should destroy it. "Simple, random passphrases, in other words, are just as good at protecting the next whistleblowing spy as they are at securing your laptop," concludes Lee. "It's a shame that we live in a world where ordinary citizens need that level of protection, but as long as we do, the Diceware system makes it possible to get CIA-level protection without going through black ops training."

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Late on Friday night, when the jury and the crowds had left the double-wide courtroom where Ellen Pao was suing her former venture capital firm, the judge took a bathroom break and the lawyers, alone but for a Re/code reporter tucked in the back, started doing something peculiar.

They began reading reporter tweets aloud.

Lynne Hermle, Kleiner Perkins’ ferocious and charismatic defense attorney, said: “Listen to this.” Laughing hard, Hermle read a series of reporter tweets to Alan Exelrod, Pao’s measured, professorial attorney, who shook his head and chortled, saying “no, no.” The judge, Harold Kahn, came back and chimed in with a “what?!” to a particularly silly one.

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Discuss Your Intent Before Content When Disagreeing with Your Boss

Disagreeing with you boss is difficult territory to wander through. To keep things civil, Harvard Business Review suggests you frame your intent as a mutual goal before you get into the details.

The idea's that instead of putting your boss on the defensive right away with your new idea, you talk about your mutual goal and interests first:

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Posted by on in Slashdot

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

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A collection of iPhone apps — such as Evernote, Dark Sky, and the New York Times — were updated today to support the Apple Watch, even though the wearable isn't shipping until April 24.

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Evernote has updated its app to allow voice search and dictation through the Watch. Dictated notes will be automatically transcribed and synced. Alternately users will be able to browse recent notes, as well as create and view reminders.

Dark Sky will send weather notifications to the Watch and display a five-day forecast, while the New York Times app will push news stories.

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Posted by on in Verge

Hello internet. I, Sam Sheffer, have returned from vacation. I will once again appear on The Vergecast. Additionally, we've got a special guest in town. His name is Tom Warren, and you could say he knows a thing or two about Microsoft. As is the case with most Thursdays, there's a lot to talk about. Let's get to it.

As usual, we'll be live at 4:30PM ET / 1:30PM PT / 8:30PM GMT via the live stream embed above. And if you miss the live show, you can always watch the replay (using the embed above) or download the audio version on iTunes. And speaking of iTunes, be sure to rate us five stars if you enjoyed the show. We'll do our best to make sure you do.

One final note: be sure to listen to our new podcast, What's Tech? — a bite-sized show that explains all sorts of technologies. This week, we explained virtual reality.

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Emily Yoshida: How did your panel go?

Heems: [whispers] I missed my panel.

You missed it? There were a couple, right?

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Posted by on in CNET

android-tattoo.jpgNo, it's not a character from a sci-fi show. It's just a guy with an awesome tattoo. Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET

We might not yet have androids roaming around covered in cool carbon-fiber-matrix skin, but there's nothing stopping us from pretending that we do. And that's kind of what this man in the UK can now do thanks to this amazing tattoo that makes him look like he's part multilayered machine.

The tattoo was created by Tony Booth, who owns runs Dabs Tattoo in Southport, England, along with his wife Lisa.

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lg-watch-urbane.jpgThe LG Watch Urbane LTE can also send and accept text messages and make mobile payments -- all on its own. LG

LG has put a price tag on its new smartwatch that doesn't need a smartphone to phone home.

The LG Watch Urbane LTE launches in South Korea on Friday at a price of 650,000 won ($589). It can make and receive phone calls, send and accept text messages, make push-to-talk calls with other phones over the same network and make mobile payments via near-field communication -- all on its own.

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The investigation into the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 has turned toward the co-pilot, whom a French prosecutor says locked the captain cockpit before deliberately flying the plane into the ground and killing all 150 people aboard.

That revelation, which came today, casts Tuesday’s crash in a chilling light but would explain why an Airbus A320—an industry workhorse with an excellent safety record—with an experienced crew went down in picture-perfect conditions without raising an alert.

The captain, whom authorities have not identified, left the cockpit soon after the airplane reached cruising altitude for what was to be a two-hour flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf. The captain could not get back into the cockpit. A military official told The New York Times the cockpit voice recorder, recovered from the crash site Tuesday, reveals “the guy outside is knocking lightly on the door, and there is no answer. You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.”

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Posted by on in Techs Got To Eat

My father, being of the solid German stock that he is, is naturally a connoisseur of all things potato. In particular he loves nothing more than very crispy shredded hash browns for breakfast with his eggs. Now, there are many ways of frying up potatoes for breakfast, and I think we do all of them.

But the shredded variety of hash browns holds a special place in his heart (mine too!) and for that reason he has mastered the way to make them extra crispy. He explained his approach to me one day, while my mother was in the room and couldn’t help but overhearing:

ME: Dad, how do you make your hash browns turn out so crispy?
DAD: Use a potato ricer. It’s the only thing I’ve found that really gets the moisture out of the potatoes. The trick to these hash browns is to get rid of as much moisture as possible before cooking them.
MOM: I always used paper towels to press out the moisture.
DAD: Your hash browns are mushy.
MOM: I made this family hash browns for forty years and you never complained. They’re perfectly fine.
DAD: They were mushy.
MOM: You ate them!
DAD: Yes I did. And they were mushy.
(and the debate continues as I quietly leave the room.)

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IN THIS EDITION of the Week In Google there are updates for Chrome OS and Google Keep, a malware warning for Android, a new Cloud Console app for Google Cloud users, and the warning that the old Google Apps API is about to go kaput.

Starting with the malware, researchers at anti-malware outfit Palo Alto Networks have found a nasty little blighter that could allow malicious apps to take control of any subsequent app you install. But before we all panic, this is something of a fait accompli.

The patch was issued by the time this announcement was made, it affects only versions of Android earlier than Kitkat 4.4 and, most important of all, it affects only side-loaded apps.

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For many years, we've noted that while some in the legacy entertainment industry seem to think that there's a "battle" between "Hollywood" and "Silicon Valley" it's a very weird sort of war in which one of those parties -- Silicon Valley -- keeps supplying more and more "weapons" to the other party to help it adapt and succeed in a changing world. There are many examples of this, but the clearest is with the VCR, which the MPAA fought hard to outlaw in the 1970s and 1980s. The MPAA's Jack Valenti famously said in 1982 that "the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." It was just four years later that home video revenue surpassed box office revenue for Hollywood. It wasn't the Boston strangler, it was the savior. Similar stories can be told elsewhere. The legacy entertainment industry has sued over MP3 players and YouTube, yet has now (finally) embraced online music and video years later than it should have.

And yet, that same legacy industry keeps trying to do everything to hamstring innovation that will only help it. A few years ago, we wrote about a fantastic post (sadly now gone from the internet) by Tyler Crowley, talking about the entrepreneur's view of innovation options and how many areas are welcoming for innovation -- which he described using the analogy of islands:

For tech folks, from the 35,000' view, there are islands of opportunity. There's Apple Island, Facebook Island, Microsoft Island, among many others and yes there's Music Biz Island. Now, we as tech folks have many friends who have sailed to Apple Island and we know that it's $99/year to doc your boat and if you build anything Apple Island will tax you at 30%. Many of our friends are partying their asses off on Apple Island while making millions (and in some recent cases billions) and that sure sounds like a nice place to build a business.
But what about Music Biz Island? Not so much:
Now, we also know of Music Biz Island which is where the natives start firing cannons as you approach, and if not stuck at sea, one must negotiate with the chiefs for 9 months before given permission to dock. Those who do go ashore are slowly eaten alive by the native cannibals. As a result, all the tugboats and lighthouses (investors, advisors) warn to stay far away from Music Biz Island, as nobody has ever gotten off alive. If that wasn't bad enough, while Apple and Facebook Island are built with sea walls to protect from the rising oceans, Music Biz Island is already 5 ft under and the educated locals are fleeing for Topspin Island.
As we pointed out, this leads to the legacy entertainment companies poisoning the well that contains the innovation water it desperately needs.

There's a parallel to this in terms of copyright laws. As the legacy entertainment industry keeps pushing for more draconian copyright laws, it only serves to scare more investors away. When we get good results, like the ruling in the Cablevision case saying that cloud-based services were legal, it resulted in a huge growth in investment in cloud services -- in contrast to much less spending in Europe, where the laws were a lot more ambiguous.

A new study from Fifth Era and Engine takes this finding even further, highlighting how bad or vague copyright laws are seriously scaring off investment in necessary platforms and innovation. A big part of this appears to be worries about absolutely insane statutory damages awards. The study surveyed tons of investors around the globe and they found an obvious concern about investing in areas where lawsuits could so easily destroy platforms:

In all eight countries surveyed, early stage investors view the risk of uncertain and potentially large damages as of significant concern as they look to invest in [Digital Content Intermediaries]. 85% agree or strongly agree that this is a major factor in making them uncomfortable about investing in [Digital Content Intermediaries].
And they're very specific about how the direct concern involves music and videos and the threat of a lawsuit that could simply put those companies out of business:
88% of worldwide investors surveyed said they are uncomfortable investing in [Digital Content Intermediaries] that offer user generated music and video given an ambiguous regulatory framework.
This is really unfortunate on a number of different levels: First, it limits the necessary innovation in services and business models that are likely to create the success stories of tomorrow. We need more experiments and platforms that allow places for artists and creators to create, promote, connect with fans and make money for their efforts. Yet if the legacy industry is scaring away all the investors, that's not going to happen. Second, it locks in the few dominant players of today. Want to build the next YouTube? Good luck. You'll need lots of money to do so, but you're less likely to get it at this stage. The legacy players keep hating the big successful platforms, but don't realize that their own moves lock those players in the dominant positions. Third, without competition in these spaces and platforms, content creators are less likely to get the best deals. When the legacy industry basically allows one player to become dominant, then it can set terms that are more in its favor. This is what so many from the legacy content industry are complaining about today -- without recognizing that their own actions regarding copyright law have helped create that situation. Of course, many in those legacy industries actually see this sort of thing as a feature not a bug of pushing for greater copyright protectionism. They think -- ridiculously -- that by hamstringing innovation and investment they get to hold onto their perch longer. This is just wrong. It's trying to hold back the tide, while driving fans to alternative and often unauthorized platforms instead. Rather than supporting the innovation they need, pushing for bad copyright laws only helps to alienate the innovators the industry needs the most and the biggest fans whose support the content industry needs to thrive.
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Now You Don't Even Have to Boil Water to Make Perfect Pasta

Even those completely unskilled in the kitchen can manage to successfully boil a pot of water and make pasta. But Barilla doesn't want to stop there, it wants even those who can barely differentiate between a stove and a fridge to be able to make spaghetti, and so has created a new line of pastas called Pronto that don't even require you to boil water.

It looks exactly like the regular dry pasta you usually buy in a box, but to prepare it all you need to do is throw it in a pot or pan, add three cups of water, and then put it on a hot stove. With a little stirring in aboutten minutes you'll have a perfect batch of al dente pasta without having to wait for water to boil, or having to drain it when it's done cooking. The pasta absorbs all the water so that once it's cooked you can immediately add your sauce and then serve.

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SOCIAL NETWORK Facebook continues to perfect its walled-garden experience and is now offering developers the chance to build apps that link directly with its Messenger chat option, along with a version aimed at business users.

The promise of the system is one of easy development and access to a huge user base with a willing interest in what an application offers, on a system that is the de facto for Facebook and has led to a critical reaction or two.

"Messenger Platform enables developers to easily build apps that integrate with Messenger so that the more than 600 million people who use Messenger can find new ways to express themselves with GIFs, photos, videos, audio clips and more," said Facebook's Lexy Franklin in a blog post.

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Look no further than Kevin Mitnick’s business card to see how some things never change.

Cut from stainless steel, the card includes a breakaway pieces of a fully functional lock-picking kit. It’s an apt symbol for a man who has made a career, first criminal and now legitimate, of breaking locks both digital and physical and going places where he has not been invited.

We met in Hanover, Germany, this month where he had been invited to speak on security issues at the CeBit technology conference; he was billed by its organizers as the “world’s most famous hacker.” He earned the title in the 1990s, when the world was still waking up to the existence of the Internet. Mitnick was, for a two-year period ending in 1995 with his arrest by the FBI in North Carolina, its most-wanted outlaw. A 1994 New York Times profile breathlessly described him as having hacked into computers at the North American Air Defense Command as a teenager. It wasn’t true, but it became part of his legend.

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LIBREOFFICE is going online to create what the company calls "the world's first global personal productivity solution".

LibreOffice Online is a joint development with IceWarp, a business email server provider, and Collabora, a Cambridge-based multimedia software company that is one of the major contributors to the LibreOffice open-source code.

The online version of the operating system is set to disrupt the market currently dominated by Google Drive and Microsoft Office 365.

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Posted by on in Slashdot
An anonymous reader writes According to BBC News, Jeremy Clarkson, longstanding main host for the automobile television show Top Gear, will not have his contract renewed. This decision came about two weeks after he was suspended due to an altercation with a Top Gear producer involving catering during filming for the show. Admittedly not the nerdiest news of the day, but it can be said that his thirteen-year run on the new format of Top Gear has interested many Slashdot users who love their cars and the entertainment that the show has brought to them.
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An anonymous reader writes Google has quietly released a Data Saver extension for Chrome, bringing the company's data compression feature to the desktop for the first time. You can download the extension, currently in beta, from the Chrome Web Store. We say "quietly" because there doesn't seem to be an announcement from Google. The extension was published on March 23 and appears to work exactly as advertised on the tin, based on what we've seen in our early tests.
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