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Hey, Hyundai owners, it's finally here: the Blue Link companion app for smartwatches that the automaker promised back during CES this year. And yes, you can use it to remotely lock/unlock doors, start/stop the engine, flash lights or honk any Blue Link-enabled car's horn, even if it's as old as the 2012 Sonata. It can also help you find your car in humongous parking lots and call roadside assistance -- plus, you can do all those by issuing voice commands, so long as you press the mic icon. Not bad, huh? As Hyundai Motor's Frank Ferrara said: "It is like being James Bond 007 or Scotty in Star Trek." The companion app's now out for Android Wear devices, but there's also an Apple Watch version just waiting for the wearable to hit the market.

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Etsy Birthday Cake

Etsy, yes that marketplace for handcrafted and bespoke goods, plans to raise money not by selling custom crocheted rabbit hats or bohemian jewelry, but by doing an initial public offering. The Brooklyn company has just filed an S-1 form at the US Securities and Exchange Commission, where it revealed some numbers that give us a glimpse into how the company's doing. It apparently has 1.4 million active sellers, 19.8 million active buyers and 685 employees, 51 percent of whom are women. Plus it generated $195.6 million in revenue but incurred a net loss of $15.2 million in 2014. According to Bloomberg, Etsy is hoping to raise $300 million from the IPO, or $100 million at the very least, if you look at the S-1 filing.

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Softcard

There was no question that AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon gave up on their Softcard mobile payment service when they agreed to pre-install Google Wallet, but it's now apparent that they're beating an especially hasty retreat. Softcard is telling users that its service will stop working after March 31st -- when April rolls around, both the app and your account go bye-bye. It's doubtful that you'll shed a tear for an offering that was mostly meant to stifle competition, but you will have to choose another tap-to-pay service fairly quickly if you happen to be one of the remaining customers. Thankfully, there won't be a shortage of alternatives any time soon.

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Robot payphone

Yep, the Federal Trade Commission still hates robocalls as much as you do. The agency has launched a contest where you'll get a $25,000 top prize if you develop technology that sends illegal automated telemarketing to a honeypot system, which makes it easier to study calls and catch perpetrators. You have up until the evening of June 15th to qualify your bot trap, and the winner will be decided at a Def Con showdown on August 9th. The payout certainly isn't large, but think of this as doing the country a favor -- you may save millions from listening to Rachel from card services over and over again.

[Image credit: SarahNW, Flickr]

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NC State vs. Rice

In an effort to bring the masses more sports news, the Associated Press plans to use automated tech for stories it wouldn't normally cover. The AP is working with the NCAA this spring to produce game reports across Division I baseball, Division I women's basketball and both Division II and III football. In the months to come, coverage will extend to Division II and III men's basketball -- probably just in time for next season. While the NCAA will provide the game stats, stories will leverage the tech that the AP already uses to automate thousands of earnings reports each quarter. "This will mean thousands of more stories on the AP wire, which will remain unmatched in the industry," said Barry Bedlan, the AP's deputy director of sports products. "Every college sports town will have some level of coverage." Local news outlets will certainly tap into the new feed, so hopefully small town beat reporters won't have to find a new niche.

[Image credit: Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images]

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Procedurally generated Minecraft terrain

Have you wondered how Minecraft can produce massive worlds that are still chock-full of little details, like elaborate cliff faces and waterfalls? PBS' Game/Show is more than happy to explain in a new video. As you'll see below, Mojang's game relies on procedural generation, which automatically creates environments and objects that are at once random, but guided by rules that maintain a consistent logic. Mountains are always rocky and sprinkled with snow, for example, while the low lands are typically full of grass and trees.

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The second generation of YotaPhone's dual-display smartphone is finally coming to the US, but not in the way you may expect. In an interview with PhoneScoop, the company's Matthew Kelly said that the e-ink display-toting device will be made available to backers on Indiegogo, of all places. The details have yet to be worked out, but the company is planning to offer early backers some sort of bonus for getting to the front of the line. If the sale is successful, then the device might even wind up hitting store shelves but, for now, it doesn't look as if any specific plans have been made. There's also no word on how much the US edition of the YotaPhone 2 will cost you, but considering that it's priced at nearly £600 ($917) in the UK, you can expect to be paying flagship prices for that extra screen.

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If you're holding out hope for a super-sized iPad Pro, Bloomberg is still in your corner. The outlet previously reported 12.9-inch iPad production could start as early as Q1 of this year, but now says suppliers are gearing up to start production in September. Citing delays in the supply of display panels, Bloomberg claims Apple will turn around sliding tablet sales with the still-unannounced new variant. Whatever the folks in Cupertino are up to, we hope that next time around the iPad Mini gets more upgrades to match its higher price.

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It's been a long road from where Valve started with VR. It was only a few shorts years ago that the company was letting select industry folk demo prototype VR hardware in its QR code-laden "Room." And now, Valve has its own consumer-facing VR headset, the HTC Vive; its own controller that looks like the space opera version of Sony's Move wand; and a positional-based tracking solution in Lighthouse VR. None of this has exactly caught us off guard -- Valve was always cagey when it came to questions of commercial hardware. But we weren't prepared for just how impressive the combination of all the VR tech truly is. In fact, our own Ben Gilbert called it the "best VR" he's experienced to date.

It's only fair, then, that Valve would want to look back on its own journey pioneering VR. And look back it did with a timeline of prototypes and R&D breakthroughs it had on display here at GDC. Care to take that walk down Valve's memory lane? Then treat yourself to the gallery below and be sure to head past the break for a video tour.

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