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IRL: The Phorce Freedom is a bag that trades space for versatility

​At CES -- the world's largest tech show -- the intrepid reporter faces many challenges. Most of them involve sleep (lack of), nutrition (lack of), human beings (abundance of) and coffee (usually lack of, but often, taste of). As such, it's very important that you don't go and add to that list of problems with some form of self-sabotage: the wrong cables, poor coffee choices, no backup power and, crucially, a P.O.S. bag. You and your bag are going to become close friends over the week, so it pays to get one that'll do the job, with a minimum of fuss.

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Super Smash Bros. controller for Wii U

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U raised the stakes for local multiplayer with its 8-Player Smash mode, but gamers were limited to just a few stages for the frantic action. That's changing today as Nintendo is pushing out an update that adds 15 more stages to the mode, more than doubling the choice for players. Mario Circuit, Lylat Cruise, Pyrosphere, Luigi's Mansion and many others now support 5-8 characters, and have seen small tweaks to make them suitable for the additional demands. Perhaps the biggest tweak can be seen in Mario Circuit, which no longer has karts racing around.

Today's update is yet another example of Nintendo catching up with the times by offering DLC and additional content for games after release. It's also only the first of many updates. Nintendo has already committed to add Mewtoo as a playable character, a Mii-themed stage and an all-new Tournament mode. There's no word on whether Nintendo will offer paid-for DLC expansions for Super Smash Bros., as it did recently with Mario Kart 8. At the moment it's simply adding more features for free.


Are you an animated GIF virgin? Do you hang your head in shame when your friends share their custom made GIFs? If so, then the new video to GIF tool from the popular image hosting service Imgur might be perfect for you. All you need to do is plug in the URL of an online video (I tested it with several YouTube clips), choose a portion to animate, and wait while Imgur converts it. It's worth noting that you likely won't end up with a true animated GIF, though. Most of the time the tool spat out one of Imgur's new "GIFV" files, which loop like GIFs, but more closely resemble video files when it comes to sharing them. The big benefit of GIFV? It produces higher quality animated images with smaller file sizes than traditional GIFs. YouTube is testing out its own quick GIF conversion tool as well, but Imgur deserves credit for trying to evolve the archaic image format.

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SYNEK's method for bringing draft beer to kitchen counters everywhere first caught our eye last summer, and after nabbing $650,000 in Kickstarter contributions, the final product is on the way. For the uninitiated, SYNEK developed a self-contained tap system that allows you to swap out 128 oz. bags of your favorite brew (that's just under a dozen 12 oz. pours) so that you always have fresh beer at home. You'll notice the finished model looks a bit different from the original, but rest assured that handy thermostat is still employed despite the temperature display getting moved from the front panel. And the ability to adjust CO2 levels remains inside, too. The company says that the new design also features improved insulation and makes it easier to change out those bags. There's also a removable drip tray too, so you want have to worry about getting your counter dirty.

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Another mind-numbing day at work....

Sorry to remind you of one of the more banal parts of working life, but it's time for a story about corporate email services. It's a market that's traditionally been dominated by Microsoft, although Google is managing make some in-roads with its enterprise apps platform. Now, however, Amazon is hoping to coax some disgruntled Exchange veterans away with its new WorkMail service.

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Just how lucrative could it be to create and sell virtual items for free games like Valve's Team Fortress 2? Very, it turns out. Valve's recently announced that, since 2011, it's paid out over $57 million to folks participating in its Steam Workshop program -- the service that facilitates the creation and sale of user-generated items (think: virtual hats).

That tally encompasses some 1,500 content makers 3D modeling items for Counterstrike: Global Offensive, DOTA 2 and Team Fortress 2 across 75 countries -- roughly $38,000 per person. If what held you back from making and selling your own custom gear is a white-hot burning hatred for first-person shooters and MOBAs, well, Gabe Newell and Co. have news for you, too: curated workshops are opening for Dungeon Defenders: Eternity and first-person slasher Chivalry: Medieval Warfare.

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Ever seen a horse pull its lips back to show its front teeth? Looks hilarious, right? Apparently, that's called flehmen response, and animals do it to sniff out chemicals -- something designer Susanna Hertrich think humans could benefit from. Since we don't exhibit the behavior naturally, Susanna created a steampunk-meets-BDSM helmet that can physically lift a person's lips. (Seriously. Watch the video below the fold.) She calls it Jacobson's Fabulous Olfactometer, and it's equipped with sensors that can detect carbon dioxide in the air. The sensors then forward the data to an Arduino board, and if it determines that CO2 levels are dangerously high, the gears in the headset start moving to lift the hooks attached to the user's upper lip. That's ostensibly so the user can be warned of highly polluted air, but we can't help but think that it's just to make people laugh while the air ruins everyone's lungs.

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If we're honest, there isn't enough money in monochrome erotica and Benedict Cumberbatch GIFs to sustain a billion-dollar website. That's why Tumblr is doing its very best to become more of a publishing platform that can attract the sort of writing (and attention) you'd normally find on Wordpress and Medium. The site began this process a few weeks ago by enabling embeds of its pages anywhere else on the internet, and now it's ready to give users a much stronger set of tools.

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In an effort to help prevent foodborne illnesses and contamination, IBM Research is teaming up with Mars for a safety study that'll examine how supply chains affect what we eat. Specifically, the duo will take a closer look at microorganisms in a safe factory environment to help cut down on the billions of dollars lost each year to medical costs and discarded food. By studying detailed genetics of bacteria, fungi and viruses, scientists can not only assess their growth, but also determine how to ensure our well-being when they're present. Many companies like Mars -- owner of Snickers, Uncle Ben's and other culinary brands -- already keep close tabs on quality control, but this new partnership aims to get super-specific about cataloging and analysis at an unprecedented scale.

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Shyp, an app that helps making shipping goods easier, is now available for Android. The app has been on iOS for the past eight months or so (though it was in beta for awhile before that), and is currently live in San Francisco, New York and Miami, with plans to expand to Los Angeles. The way the app and service works is this: You snap a picture of the thing you want to send, enter in the relevant shipping and payment details and request a pickup. A guy from Shyp will pick it up -- you can even track his or her movements with the app -- package it and ship it for you. The cost is $5 plus the retail rate of the shipment, which is often on par with what UPS or FedEx would quote you.

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