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Formula E is planning the first racing series for driverless cars

It was only last year that Formula E made its debut as the first racing series exclusively for electric cars. Now, after just two seasons of championships, its organizers are already preparing for another first: a driverless racing series. The series, dubbed Roborace, will begin with the 2016-2017 season, with each one-hour event taking place directly before all the "regular" Formula E races, and on the same circuits, to boot.

A new chiptune album is coming to the Nintendo Famicom

Every week it feels like a new video game soundtrack gets a vinyl release. Journey, The Last of Us, FTL and Shenmue -- none of these are surprises anymore. So what's next? MiniDiscs? Cassette tapes? Well, some musicians are keen to use cartridges instead. 8BIT MUSIC POWER is a new chiptune album that you'll need to slide into a Nintendo Famicom (Japan's equivalent of the NES) to listen to. Developed by RIKI and manufactured by Columbus Circle, it features 12 original tracks from, among others, former Famicom music composers Yuriko Keino (Xevious, Dig Dug) and Takeaki Kunimoto (Star Soldier).

Toymaker VTech says data was stolen from its kiddie app store

VTech, the brand best known for its electronic kid's toys and cordless phones, said Friday that hackers had earlier this month stolen some of its customer data. While VTech is hardly the first company to see its user info compromised, the target here was relatively unusual: an app store for children. Learning Lodge, as it's called, is a storefront where kids and their parents can download apps, games, e-books and various educational materials. While it's a bit disturbing to imagine a breach that even tangentially involves children, the company says that no "personal identification data" (social security numbers, et cetera) was compromised. VTech says no credit card information was exposed either.

Must Reads

  • DARPA wants to protect critical infrastructures from cyber attacks

    Hackers have been breaking through a lot of government agency's defenses these past years, and DARPA thinks it's high time to do something about it. Pentagon's mad science division has launched a new program called Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation and Characterization (RADICS), which aims to develop...

  • FCC hires a privacy guru to help lead its telecom investigations

    If you want proof that the Federal Communications Commission is getting serious about privacy, you only need to look at its latest recruit. The agency has hired Jonathan Mayer, one of the masterminds behind Do Not Track browsing, as the chief technologist for its Enforcement Bureau. He'll help lead investigations...

Microsoft's Cortana iPhone app rolls out to beta testers

Less than a month after kicking off the Cortana for iPhone beta signups, Microsoft has started rolling out the app to people who showed interest in testing it. As TechCrunch points out, the early build is being distributed through TestFlight, a developer-focused service that lets iOS users try applications before their public release. Based on the app's current description, Microsoft is asking testers to set a Cortana reminder on a Windows 10 PC and see how it works with an iPhone, as well as communicate with the virtual assistant and observe how she responds to queries. Back in August, Cortana also arrived on Android via public beta, so it's only a matter of time before Microsoft officially releases it on Google and Apple's mobile platforms.

Instagram tests multiple account support on Android

The Instagram team appears to be readying an Android update that will introduce one of its most highly requested features: multiple account support. For the average user this probably isn't a big deal, but for professional photographers, social media managers and small business owners, this addition would make life much simpler. As Android Police reports, Instagram is testing the feature on Google's mobile OS right now -- you can gain access by joining the Instagram beta program, or by grabbing the latest APK from APK Mirror. Once you've got the right version installed, just dive into your settings and scroll down to the bottom, where you'll see the new option "Add Account." From there, you can switch between the two by tapping the drop-down menu on your profile page.

Bill Gates is launching a multibillion-dollar clean energy fund

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is set to reveal a massive clean energy project on Monday, during the first day of the United Nations climate change summit in Paris. According to Reuters, which originally reported the news, the French government has confirmed that the ex-CEO-turned-philanthropist will launch the Clean Tech Initiative, a push to commit countries to double their budgets on clean energy tech research and developments by 2020. But Gates won't be working on this multibillion dollar fund alone: The US, Australia, Canada, France, India, Indonesia, Norway, Saudi Arabia and South Korea will all be backing the plan, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Lenovo teams with Razer on gaming PCs

When you think of gaming PCs, Lenovo probably isn't your first choice. It has gaming PCs, but it's often far more tempting to either go with a game-centric brand or build a system yourself. Lenovo may have a way to improve its reputation, though. It's partnering with Razer on special editions of its Y series devices that pack both the performance you'd expect from a gaming rig as well as Razer's signature design cues, such as multi-hued Chroma lighting. The first confirmed project from the two is the Lenovo Razer Edition desktop you see here (due for a full debut at CES in January), but there are promises of "multiple" products and joint development of new technology.

I nose best, seems to be the opinion of Charlemagne's SignetWinter is coming. And with it also comes the need to show the loved ones in your life just how much you care for them by spending, spending, spending on gifts. Trouble is, there are just so many options to choose from. What you really need is someone, some outside force to hold your credit card-holding hand. And boy, do we have some suggestions for you. Happy Holidays! You're very welcome.

Because pets (and the people who love them) deserve presents, too.

Image credit: NY Daily News via Getty Images

By Dan Koeppel

This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer's guide to the best things for your home. Read the full article here.

After more than eight months of testing with a dozen different men and a dozen different shavers, we found that the best shaver for most beards is the Braun Series 7. With a proven design, excellent reliability, and top-end face-clearing abilities, the Braun Series 7 will meet most needs and shave just as smoothly as more expensive models—though maybe not as quickly.

Debris from SpaceX's Falcon 9 washes up in England

When SpaceX sends Falcon 9 rockets up into the skies above Florida's Cape Canaveral, there's no telling what will happen to the projectile should it complete its mission or fails to reach orbit altogether. It's been almost five months since Elon Musk and co. confirmed a faulty strut caused its CRS-7 rocket to break up shortly after launch, but yesterday debris from an even older project, the CRS-4, materialized. It wasn't found on the Eastern US seaboard, but thousands of miles away in a cluster of islands just off the southwest coast of England.

After years of misguided attempts at mobile, Microsoft is ready for a fresh start. While Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 mostly just looked like their desktop counterparts, Windows 10 Mobile aspires to something even more substantial. This time, Microsoft tried to build a mobile platform -- and a phone -- that can seriously replicate some of those big-screen experiences. Rather than just peck out emails and rough drafts on the new Lumia 950, Windows 10 makes it possible to connect a keyboard, mouse and display and let Universal apps like Word and Outlook to get more done.

Microsoft doesn't think the Lumia 950 is a new phone as much as it a symbol of something new -- a standard-bearer for a kind of mobile computing that won't be contained by a single box in your pocket. Their vision is ambitious, and who knows! They might be right about all of this. For now though, it's clear Microsoft still has plenty of work to do.

Today on In Case You Missed It: A coder from the Netherlands used a live webcam feed for a walk around Amsterdam, running neural network code that identified everything in view. Despite some obvious set-backs (it thought the creator was wearing a suit when he really wore a zip-up hoodie, natch), it impressively identified boats in a river and stacks of bikes. Researchers in Peru invented prototype lamps that run off of the bacteria of living plants. And a new security system for the camera-hacking adverse works by setting up a motion-detecting mesh network.

Black Friday is here, but that doesn't mean you need to bear the hordes of shoppers taking over stores. Instead, skip the lines and check out some of these top tech gifts from StackSocial, available for up to 70 percent off. Use code BLACKFRIDAY at checkout for an additional 15 percent off any item in their store, like the First Generation Lytro 3D Camera for just $59.49 (70 percent off) or the KeySmart 2.0 for $14 (40 percent off). To make things sweeter, these all come with free shipping. Make someone's holiday season special with these unique and memorable gifts for a fraction of their retail price.

Data-mined photos document 100 years of (forced) smiling

Here's an odd fact: Turn-of-the-century photographers used to tell subjects to say "prunes" rather than "cheese," so that they would smile less. By studying nearly 38,000 high-school yearbook photos taken since 1905, UC Berkeley researchers have shown just how much smiling, fashion and hairstyles have changed over the years. The goal was not just to track trends, but figure out how to apply modern data-mining techniques and machine learning to a much older medium: photographs. Their research could advance deep-learning algorithms for dating historical photos and help historians study how social norms change over time.

DJI's MG-1 drone is water-resistant, dustproof.. and made for farming

DJI's newest drone isn't its sexiest: it's a specialized, toughened agricultural drone. Yep, hard to get excited about unless you're a farmer perhaps, but the Agras MG-1 is dust-proof, water resistant and constructed from anti-corrosive materials. Smart decisions for an agriculture drone, but also ones we wouldn't mind some extra peace of mind in the consumer drones we pilot in the suburbs and cities. (Rain is a real danger, okay?) The MG-1 can even be rinsed clean after a day on ranch. When it comes to crop-spraying, the drone can carry over 10kgs of product -- and DJI pegs it at over 40 times more efficient than manual spraying -- although it uses a watering can to illustrate the comparison...

This crowdfunded router updates its own security

It's really, really, really hard to make a router sound exciting, but the folks behind the Turris Omnia are betting the device's focus on keeping your sensitive data secure might grab you. The manufacturer's IndieGogo campaign still has 45 days to go, but it's already proved incredibly popular: over a thousand backers have pledged some $274,598 as of this writing. That's 275 percent higher than the threshold for funding the project. The router itself runs Turris' open source operating system (based on the OpenWRT project) which auto updates as soon as any type of vulnerability is discovered by its cadre of developers.

Well that was quick. It's only been a couple of days since someone came up with an unofficial app to stream PlayStation 4 gaming to PC, but earlier today, Sony's awesome Shuhei Yoshida confirmed on Twitter that his company is "indeed working on an official [Remote Play] application for PC/Mac." Yes, it will support both Windows and Mac OS X, which is already more than what the Xbox One offers, though Yoshida has yet to provide a date. Regardless, this is bad news for the unofficial app's developer, who has apparently been working on this project on and off for over a year and planned on charging $10 for the hard work, but at least we can give him or her some credit for getting Sony to up the game for its consoles.

LG's spending billions to make more OLED things

LG's OLED 4K TVs are jaw-droppingly gorgeous, but the price still isn't anywhere near the level it needs to be for mass consumer adoption. Hopefully the company's new manufacturing plant can help that a bit thanks to economies of scale. A Reuters report says that the South Korean firm is spending some $8.71 billion (around 10 trillion Korean won) on a new manufacturing facility for the display panels in Paju, South Korea. Perhaps this can make up for some of the losses the tech giant suffered by halting production at one of its TV plants due to a gas leak earlier this year.

Scientists create gold nuggets that are 98 percent air

Researchers at ETH Zurich have accomplished a bit of modern-day alchemy, transforming 20 carat gold into a lightweight foam. Well, technically it's an aerogel: an exceedingly light and porous matrix of material. It's so porous, in fact, that the foam doesn't conduct electricity because, at atmospheric pressure, the gold atoms within the structure don't actually touch. "The so-called aerogel is a thousand times lighter than conventional gold alloys. It is lighter than water and almost as light as air," Raffaele Mezzenga, Professor of Food and Soft Materials at ETHZ, said in a statement.

'Spencer' the robot is here to help guide lost airline passengers

Meet Spencer. This armless automaton will begin a test run in Schiphol Amsterdam Airport at the end of the month, greeting and guiding harried travellers through the transport hub's famously confusing terminal system. Navigating it is so challenging, in fact, that KLM airlines donated a large part of the project's funding because so many of its customers were getting lost and missing flights. To ensure that doesn't happen anymore, Spencer is equipped with laser range-finding eyes and detailed maps of the airport's interior.