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The hacker subplot in House of Cards' second season might have felt out of place, but from the sounds of a recent New York Times report, Frank Underwood's methods for putting captured hackers to work might not be too far-fetched. After being busted by the FBI, top LulzSec hacker Sabu may have conscripted at least one former accomplice to carry out a string of cyber-attacks against foreign banks and government websites, according to interviews and documents obtained by the Times. Sabu's seemingly indirect involvement suggests that he may have acted as a federal informant, helping to exploit the likes of the Heartbleed security flaw for state-sponsored cyber-terrorism. For the full report, be sure to head over to the source link.

[Image credit: Idhren/Flickr]

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Proposals to officially regulate electronic cigarettes will be announced later today by the Food and Drug Administration, according to the WSJ. The regulations would include a ban on sales to minors and a requirement for health warning labels on packaging. E-cigarettes contain nicotine liquid, which is derived from tobacco -- and that's where the FDA comes in.

"Right now it's like the wild, wild west in terms of what people are doing.."

Importantly, makers would not be allowed to state that e-cigarettes are safer than other tobacco products ( manufacturers need to provide scientific evidence to prove these claims), nor use descriptive language like "light" or "mild" to describe goods. Companies will also be required to submit a "pre-market review application" within two years, although products will be allowed to stay on the market as long as the application is filed. Outlines will also restrict marketing on TV and any efforts to appeal to anyone under 18, although they won't immediately ban the wealth of flavored e-cigarettes that have recently flourished. FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg told ABC News: "Right now it's like the wild, wild west in terms of what people are doing, the products are evolving with no regulatory oversight and being marketed in ways that are very worrisome." The full list of regulations will be posted online by the FDA at 9am today.

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Watson had been a doctor, a geneticist, a game show contestant and even a chef in the past. But now IBM's supercomputer has a new career: personal shopping. IBM has partnered with digital commerce firm Fluid to develop a cloud-based app called Expert Personal Shopper (XPS), which uses Watson's brains to answer buyers' highly specific questions. In short, the computer with many hats now plays the role of a sales associate when you're shopping online. IBM and Fluid are currently working with several consumer brands, but The North Face will be the first to feature the technology on its website. When the outdoor clothing and equipment company launches XPS, you can ask it questions like you would an assistant at a mall. If you needed a recommendation on the best equipment to use for a five-day cross-country trip, or need to know the best tent to use if you're hiking with family, including kids, then Watson's got your back. It's unclear when XPS will launch exactly, but IBM has granted Fluid a $100 million investment to speed up the digital shopping assistant's development -- all parties involved are planning to develop it further for mobile applications and devices.

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Looking forward to the day you can buy a Xiaomi smartphone in the US? Keep waiting. The company's founder announced the first ten countries in Xiaomi's international expansion today, and the United States didn't make the cut. A shame, perhaps, for fans of the company's affordable, well-specced handsets, but not much of a surprise -- Xiaomi's aversion to traditional sales and marketing puts it at odds with what American consumers have come to expect. Right now, the company's products are only available in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, but CEO Lei Jun says it will start selling devices in India, Brazil, Russia, Turkey, Mexico and in several east asian countries and emerging markets later this year.

The company's also simplifying its image a little, dropping "Xiao" from its webpage URL. The newly christened Mi.com should play well in the new markets: not only does it match the MI branding the company uses on its MI2 and MI3 smartphones, but it's easier to remember, market and -- for international customers -- pronounce.

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It's clear that when Facebook said it was going to be a mobile-first company back in 2013, it meant it. It's now surpassed 1 billion active mobile users a month, which is about a 34 percent increase compared to a year ago. Sure, a lot has happened in the land of likes in the early part of 2014 -- it spent close to $19 billion for WhatsApp and another $2 billion for Oculus VR -- but its primary source of income for the year still comes from good ol' advertising on its core product: Facebook. Specifically mobile advertising.

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3D printed water droplets behaving like organic tissue

Doctors dream of using 3D-printed tissues to patch up injuries, but current techniques tend to kill a lot of the cells used in the process. Thankfully, researchers at Oxford University spin-off OxSyBio have found a gentler way to build these materials. Their technique 3D prints water droplets filled with chemicals that let them change shape and transmit electrical signals like real cells. The result is both kinder to living tissues and more controllable -- you don't have to worry about growth or other organic reactions.

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While the world has been deciding who governs the internet, Brazil has been busy establishing internet rules of its own -- and they may just set an example for everyone else. The country has passed a bill of rights that goes some length towards protecting net neutrality and privacy. To start, the law promises equal access to the internet; carriers can't charge more for bandwidth-heavy services like streaming video.

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Like taxes, iPhones and, well, Madden, you can count on a new Skylanders game every year. If you're unfamiliar with the franchise, that may just be a symptom of not being around kids -- the toy / video game series is a dominant force in the kids gaming market, sharing responsibility with biggies like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft for bringing in 80 percent of Activision's earnings in 2013. Each new entry in the game series comes with a new physical device for reading toy figurines; when said figurines are placed on the device (called a "portal"), they're transported into the game world and playable in-game.

Between the figures ($5 - $7 apiece, on average) and the games (anywhere from $7 to $60), it's easy to understand why the franchise is so profitable. Thankfully, the franchise is also lauded by most critics as a pretty decent game, too. The next entry, Skylanders: Trap Team, arrives this October and it's the largest game in the franchise to date.

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