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I'm tired of walking into musty pubs and ordering pints that are bland, poured incorrectly, and twice the price of the nearest off-licence. If I weren't meeting friends, I'd be out the door faster than Road Runner. Of course, more than a few social drinkers share my apathy, so a surge of public houses are starting to change tack. They're embracing top-notch craft beers and employ bartenders that put genuine care into your order. You feel like they want your business, and what you're getting in return would be difficult to replicate at home.

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OnePlus has just let it be known that you'll finally be able to buy its $299 One phone sans invitation for Black Friday. The "deal" starts today and lasts all weekend, with the 16GB white model up for $299 (€269 in Europe, £229 in the UK) or $349/€299/£269 for the 64GB black model. There are also discounts on other accessories. That marks the first time (other than an hour last month) that folks will be able to buy the now-slightly-dated model without an RSVP. Despite the ridiculous waiting period, though, the 5.5-inch, 1080p device still has plenty of power and charm for its petite price. Hopefully it'll come off invitations for good before the next model comes out.

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The home of Las Vegas is meant to be a paradise of unhinged abandon, where consequences don't matter and everyone has a great time. Unfortunately, no-one at the Washoe County District Court got that memo, since it's just slammed Uber with a preliminary injunction preventing it from operating in the state. It was the usual roll of objections that have stopped the service, since Uber vehicles aren't subject to the same safety, insurance and licensing rules that taxis are. The company, for its part, has pledged not to abandon the state, saying that it'll work with Nevada's leadership to come to a useful solution. Maybe at the same time it'll try to clean up its reputation after a series of blunders, gaffes and PR disasters.

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On paper, collecting the sun's energy is a pretty great idea -- but most solar panels suffer from relatively low photovoltaic efficiency. On average, most panels will collect less than 20-percent of the light that hits it. Can we do better? Absolutely: but we'll need more Blu-ray discs. According to researchers at the Northwestern University of Evanston, Illinois, the microscopic hills an valleys found on a Blu-ray disc are surprisingly adapt at trapping light. On a video disc this talent is wasted, but when the pattern is cast, molded and transferred to a polymer solar cell, it becomes a series of quasi-random nanostructures that increase photovoltaic efficiency by about 22-percent. The research, which was published in Nature Communications earlier this month, is just a proof of concept -- but if further research proves fruitful the "Blu-ray trick" could serve as a shortcut to creating more efficient solar cells.

[Image credit: C-laudiodivizia]

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iPad on a face, a Google Glass app that makes the user throw up and a device powered by twerking. These are but some of the masterpieces out of this year's Stupid Hackathon, and they all embody what the event's organizers are looking for: "stupid shit no one needs and terrible ideas." Now before you think we've gone rogue or have had too much wine and stuffing, we promise you that Stupid Hackathon is real, and this is its second run. In fact, we've talked to its masterminds, Amelia Winger-Bearskin and Sam Lavigne, who told us that the event's goal is "to create and fully realize projects that have no value whatsoever."

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Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom might have been able to reclaim his New Zealand finances earlier this year, but his ensuing legal fight against internet piracy charges has apparently evaporated that. The entrepreneur told the BBC that he' has gone through $10 million in legal costs. His legal defense team stepped down two weeks ago causing Dotcom to initially claim he might have to represent himself at his bail hearing (which began earlier today). While Dotcom was able to reclaim some assets, dozens of bank accounts remain frozen. Dotcom's follow-up online storage service, Mega was valued at $164 million in March, although as the BBC reports, the founder doesn't hold a stake in the company. Financial troubles have also been compounded by his political party, the Internet Party, which failed to claim a single seat in New Zealand's general election two months ago.

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Razer Nabu

Razer's Nabu wristband has been long in the making, but it's finally here... well, almost. The gear maker has announced that its hybrid activity tracker and smartwatch will be available in North America on December 2nd. According to the company, that nearly year-long wait makes sure that it lives up to its promises, including social networking features that pop up when you meet fellow Nabu owners. It'll normally be available for $100, although the the first 5,000 Razer Insider members who pre-order can score a unit for $80. The Nabu is a bit late to the party given that rivals like Fitbit have stepped up their game in recent months, but it may be a nice complement to your gaming laptop.

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First Solar's Topaz plant

Solar power just hit one of its biggest milestones, in more ways than one. First Solar recently finished building Topaz, a 550-megawatt plant that represents the largest active solar farm on the planet. And we do mean large -- the installation's nine million solar panels cover 9.5 square miles of California's Carrizo Plain. It's an impressive feat that should power 160,000 homes on Pacific Gas and Electric's grid, although it won't be alone at the top for very long. First Solar's Desert Sunlight farm will match that capacity once its last solar cells go online, and SunPower's 579MW Solar Star is due to go live in 2015. Not that there's a problem with that, of course. These solar plants have been a long time coming, and they promise eco-friendly energy for hundreds of thousands of Golden State residents.

[Image credit: Center for Land Use Interpretation]

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Remember the OpenWorm project, in which researchers reproduced the genome of a nematode worm digitally and made it wiggle around on a screen? If you take the "brain" of that worm and use it to power a robotic car, you end up with researcher Timothy Busbice's WormBot. He mapped the software into a Lego Mindstorms EV3 bot, then trained it to follow sound the way a nematode follows food. When he whistles to "call" the bot, it heads toward him but stops and reverses if it detects an obstacle (using the EV3's sonar) -- even though it was programmed to do none of those things.

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WIRELESS SHOW

A few days ago, it was rumored that Samsung was planning to replace its head of mobile in a bid to reverse slumping smartphone sales. Now, local rival LG is doing the same thing, albeit for a very different reason. CNET is reporting that current chief Dr. Jong-Seok Park has been suffering from health problems that mean he'll step into an advisory role for the company while Juno Cho (pictured, left) from LG's holding company replaces him. It's a good time to be taking over, since LG's mobile arm recently recorded record high sales and doubled profit -- giving Cho plenty of time to pick out the furniture for his new office.

[Image Credit: Photo/Judi Bottoni / AP]

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