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The folks down at the Federal Trade Commission are busy helping all of us these days, whether they're weighing in on patent disputes or forcing firms to help cover your child's lack of parental supervision. Today, the FTC charged several companies and individuals with participation in an elaborate shell game from 2010 that was really just a $275 million dollar credit card scam. According to a separate, ongoing lawsuit filed by the Commission, a company called I Works did the stealing, but wouldn't have been able to take $26 million of the total without the aid of the defendants in this new lawsuit.

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Before Google dominated search, Ask Jeeves depended on a team of humans -- yes, humans -- to answer your internet queries. Ultimately, search algorithms killed the internet's favorite butler, but the idea that humans are worthy competition for the software we create didn't follow him to the grave. Case in point: Ask Ooloo, a digital assistant powered by living, breathing human beings. According to Ooloo's makers, the PPDA (people-powered digital assistant) is staffed with "real people 24/7" ready to offer you quick, localized search results with a personal touch. All you have to do is speak your question, as you would with Google Now, Siri or Cortana, and wait for an answer. We put the iOS app to the test, asking it 'Who invented the Internet?" What it revealed, probably won't shock you.

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Henning Baum (re., Schauspieler sat.1-'Der letzte Bulle'), Serien Kollegen Maximillian Grill, Proschat Mandani (mi.), Gala 'ProS

When we, at Engadget, indulge in the occasional use of the German language, it's usually to fire off Deutschland's version of our favorite four-letter word (hint: it rhymes with sh-high-zuh!). Instead, we're rattling off this mouthful: ProSiebenSat.1 Welt. Gesundheit is right.

The German-language TV channel has big news for its US-based fans: a subscription-based streaming service for the web and mobile. Interested parties that can, you know, understand German are welcome to test it free for a week before going all in on those monthly payments of 7.90€ (about $11 USD). It's pretty much your best bet to catch up on the latest episodes of Der letzte Bulle, Ladykracher and Pastewka, one of which we assume has to be the German equivalent of Keeping up with the Kardashians. Don't make that face. We've all watched it at one time or another. Oh, and Bitteschön.

[Image credit: Peter Bischoff/Getty Images]

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As with airplanes and many other self-powered machines, the fuel a shuttle engine requires can weigh nearly as much as the object it's propelling, increasing costs while significantly limiting range. It's a challenge we're going to need to overcome before launching long-distance treks through space, where carrying enough fuel may not currently be possible. One proposed method for getting future spacecrafts to their destinations is by utilizing a device called a microwave thruster. A British scientist named Roger Shawyer managed to build a similar engine called an EmDrive several years ago, and while a Chinese team also accomplished the same, the rest of the world hasn't paid much attention until NASA confirmed from its own research that such a device could work during a presentation earlier this week.

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Love Google's services, but not a fan of its social network? Good news: the Mountain View company may be spinning Google+'s photo features into their own product. According to Bloomberg sources, Google is hoping to attract new users by making some of its social network's best features available to consumers who aren't interested in Google+. The company has already made Hangouts available sans Plus to some business customers, but wouldn't confirm or deny if the reported photo spinoff was really happening. "Over here in our darkroom, we're always developing new ways for people to snap, share and say cheese," a Google spokesperson told us. Well, that's certainly cheesy.

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The trusty Google Now launcher that debuted on the Nexus 5 had already made its way to the rest of that family and Play Edition devices. Now, folks wielding any handset running Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) and later can grab the feature, even if it's absent one of the aforementioned monikers. The software add-on makes Google's card-based repository accessible by swiping to the right of the home screen or speaking an "OK Google" voice command from that main UI. Gadgets that weren't officially stamped by Google hadn't been privy to the functionality, but now even if OEMs drape the OS with their own look and features (looking at you, Samsung), you can still get a taste of stock Android.

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President Obama Signs Executive Order At White House

After getting the approval of both the House and the Senate, the US cellphone unlocking bill needed just one more signature to remove the carrier-swapping restriction. Today, President Barack Obama signed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act into law, making it once again legal for smartphone owners to unlock their device without direct permission from the carrier it's locked to. If you'll recall, the effort began as a petition, and is what the White House is calling "an example of democracy at its best." Should you be in need of refresher on the finer points, we explain the whole thing right here.

[Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

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You may have put a lot of thought into your carefully constructed status update, but have you considered how, exactly, that update socially ties you to your peers? Probably not -- but researches from Yahoo Labs, the University of Torino and Stanford University have. The small research team is trying to work out the "grammar of society" by categorizing types of social interactions and mapping out how conversations flow on different social networks. Using concepts sourced from theoretical computer science, the team tried to frame culture as a computational concept -- using Flickr and aNobii (a community for book lovers) as models for uncovering the "source-code" of social interactions.

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The "Swiss Army knife of electronics." That's the best way Sprint can define the LivePro, a touchscreen projector/Android hotspot made by Chinese manufacturer ZTE. The device, which goes for $300 with a two-year contract, is the first in a brand-new hybrid category -- and depending on how successful it is, it may well be the last. Although the LivePro has a wide range of capabilities that make it useful on many different fronts, its demand will be incredibly niche. What kind of person needs such a unique device, and is it good enough to even attract them?

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