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International Space Station backdropped againts a blue and white Earth.

NASA recently paid Russia $490 million to continue ferrying its astronauts to the ISS, but Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden says "it doesn't have to be this way." In a piece/open letter the space agency's head honcho wrote for Wired, he explains how the Congress is holding back the agency from launching astronauts on US soil. Apparently, if the House of Representatives approved the funding the agency was asking for, then NASA would have already been making the final preparations for a US-based launch.

Britain Wireless Festival Day 2

It's no secret that Apple and Tidal are at each other's throats over music exclusives, but that fight might have reached a new peak. Tidal claims that Apple stopped it from streaming Drake's brief guest appearance at New Orleans' Lil Weezyana Fest on August 28th, presumably due to an exclusivity deal with the Canadian musician. If you take Tidal's word at face value, Apple was an Orwellian tyrant "interfering with artistry." One of the New York Post's tipsters goes so far as to contend that Apple is trying to "dictate" when and where artists can perform, which would be harsh... if it were true.

Mr. Robot - Pilot

Most infosec pros agree that few Hollywood films or TV shows have gotten hacking as "right" as USA's Mr. Robot. The show's creator, Sam Esmail, told Engadget, "The hacker side of it actually was a combination of my frustration with the way hacker culture and tech culture was represented in Hollywood. I thought it was a very inaccurate, forced and cartoonish way of representing that kind of a culture."

Getting hacks and hacking right on Mr. Robot means the tools and techniques pull from work done by security researchers in real life. In fact, it's not uncommon to see hackers tweet that they spotted a colleagues' research on episodes of the show. This is all in large part because it's a TV show about hacking that chooses accuracy over drama. Mr. Robot's technical consult, Michael Bazzell, told Forbes, "We don't need to fake it. ... We want that code to be accurate so that even the most sophisticated hacker or technical person out there will not roll their eyes at a scene."

So while we all wait patiently for Mr. Robot's season one finale, let's take a look back at Mr. Robot's notable hacks and the researchers who made them possible.

Must Reads

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  • Microsoft renders for flagship Lumia phones leaked online

    If you've been wanting to see the two high-end Windows phones Microsoft has been developing, then you don't have to wait until the official launch. Evleaks has posted the renders for both devices on Twitter: the larger, cyan one with a 5.7-inch screen is known as codename Cityman, while the black phone...

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Some of the toys we played with as children have grown up along with us and now they pack adult-sized fun. Memorable designs have bubbled up into lifestyle products with smarts, but most offer what we always loved them for: an action-packed thrill. Sure, we can drive real cars now, but that doesn't diminish the urge to drift on a motorized Big Wheel. Skateboards and pogo sticks have powered up over the years, too, and hoverboards can now actually hover. This week we pay tribute to the big kid inside each of us with a lineup of reinvented, rebuilt and improved versions of playtime classics.

[Image: Local Motors]

Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology and more in print and on the web. Some weeks, you'll also find short reviews of books that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read.

Robots Will Steal Our Jobs, But They'll Give Us New Ones
by Cade Metz
Wired

With all the advances in automation and robotic technology, should we be worried that robots will replace us? Well, while they might take some of our jobs, they'll also give us new ones. This piece from Wired offers a look at the future as we learn to live with AI, presenting a strong case that it may not be as dire as the critics predict.

Today on In Case You Missed It, Boeing unveils a drone-destroying laser cannon the size of a travel trunk. Also up, North Korea shows us all how calisthenics are done, a guy makes an ottoman out of mushrooms, and Dartmouth College unleashed a robotic tackling dummy upon its football team.

If you come across any interesting videos, we'd love to see them. Just tweet us with the #ICYMI hashtag @engadget or @mskerryd. And if you just want to heap praise on your handsome guest host, feel free to hit him up @mr_trout.

washington   october 26 ...

The National Security Agency can keep on keeping on with the bulk collection of phone call metadata for a bit longer, sadly. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia killed an injunction that would've ended the previously-ruled-unconstitutional homegrown spying, according to The New York Times. The law won't fully end until November 29th, when the so-called transition period for the agency to swap over to a new style of data collection is over. The latest method? Telcos will hang onto the data and the government snoops will need court orders if they want to get their hands on it. We still have a ways to go before PRISM's effects are fully overturned, it'd seem.

[Image credit: Shutterstock]

Communication / productivity tool Slack is starting to blend in with Windows 10 after its latest update. In version 1.2.0, notifications show up in the desktop OS' Action Center, and clicking them links directly to the appropriate conversation in the app. Many Windows applications never updated to take advantage of new features in Windows 8, or even to become fully compatible with how it worked with hardware like touchscreens, so it's encouraging to see some support.

No, Peter Chou isn't leaving HTC. As the company is gearing up to launch its virtual reality platform (and another flagship phone) later this year, the co-founder has decided to pick up a second role at renowned visual effects company, Digital Domain, to strengthen his company's VR know-how. That's according to a statement from HTC, anyway. For those who don't know, Digital Domain is the digital production house behind movies like Iron Man 3 (seems like HTC just can't get enough of Robert Downey Jr.), Her and Tron: Legacy. It also made animated clips in games including Assassin's Creed Unity, Destiny and Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Chou will officially join the Hong Kong-owned company as an executive director on August 31st, but it'll obviously be a while before we see what this will bring to the HTC Vive.

Cameras that keep an eye on construction sites aren't anything new, but the folks in charge of building the new Sacramento Kings stadium in California are using something a bit more high-tech than usual. Several camera-equipped drones operated by a company called ImageInFlight patrol the site to collect footage, which are then converted into 3D images. These images are run through software developed by a team from the University of Illinois, which compares them to architectural plans and previous images to measure progress. The method makes it easy to see if anything's behind schedule and which group of workers need to be more efficient.

Plumber working under sink in kitchen

Amazon launched a home services directory in 41 cities a few months ago, and now Google is dipping its toe in the water. According to the Wall Street Journal, for those "in and around" San Francisco, searching for terms like lock repair or clogged toilet will bring you a list of prescreened professionals in the area prepared to take care of those problems. As you can see in the screenshot (after the break), we gave it a try with "clean house" and got not only the list with contact info, but a way to send a few interesting parties a request quickly. The key here, is that you never have to leave Google.com for any of that, and the people listed pay for the privilege (plus screening for licenses and background checks) through Google's AdWords Express.

It's been over a month since the New Horizons spacecraft flew as near as possible to Pluto and took the closest photos of the dwarf planet we've ever seen. Now, NASA has decided on its next destination: a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) called 2014 MU69. Since the probe was always meant to go beyond the once-ninth planet from the start, it was loaded with more fuel than needed and equipped with a communications system that works even in the Kuiper region. However, it still took a while for NASA to find an object near enough to explore. It was only when the Hubble telescope discovered KBOs in the probe's flight path in 2014 that the agency found the perfect target.

The Xbox One already has an expensive controller tailor-made for competitive gamers, but Razer believes there's room for another one. Today at PAX, the company announced its new $150 Wildcat controller for Microsoft's latest console. Razer says that it built the controller under the direction of competitive gamers, something that led to a 25 percent weight reduction over the standard Xbox One controller. The controller also has four additional buttons that can be remapped in any way you see fit and a "quick control" panel along the bottom of the controller to let you quickly switch profiles, adjust chat volume or muting audio.

Cartography is as much an art as it is a science. For its part, Google Maps has been extensively designed to be as easily readable as possible -- I mean, nobody wants to decipher directions while zipping along at freeway speeds. But with a new color scheme, many of these maps can become beautiful works of modern art, as evidenced by these images by designer and coder Shaun Utter. Head over to Shaunutter.com for a continous stream of them.

EHEC Outbreak Claims 11 Lives

Under the right circumstances, bacteria can be quite cooperative -- both with each other and the organism they're living in. A research team at Rice University has managed to exploit that natural congeniality to, for the first time, create a biological circuit that works much like a conventional computer chip. But the goal of the researchers' work isn't to build better biocomputers, it's to help them more fully understand how these organisms interact within our guts.

Tech Tumble

It may have taken a while, but major tech companies are finally making diverse hiring more of a priority. To that end, Twitter has publicly announced its diversity goals for 2016 in an effort to hold itself more accountable going forward. Worldwide, the company wants 35 percent of its employees to be women in 2016, with 16 percent of "tech" roles and 25 percent of leadership roles to be held by women. Today, the company reported that 34 percent of its workforce was women, with 13 percent of its tech roles and 22 percent of its leadership roles held by women. Twitter's 2016 goals are pretty modest increases over what its reporting now, but it's still one of the few major tech companies making such goals public.

DARPA wants to transform airplanes into drone carriers. Last year, the agency invited technical ideas and business expertise to help create a reusable airborne system. Today, it announced the launch of the Gremlins program that's designed to make that air-recoverable unmanned system a reality. According to Dan Patt, program manager at DARPA, the "goal is to conduct a compelling proof-of-concept flight demonstration that could employ intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and other modular, non-kinetic payloads in a robust, responsive and affordable manner."

Varna, Bulgaria - May 25, 2015: Uber application startup page on Apple iPhone in female hand. Blurred street view on background.

Security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek have made a habit of getting the attention of the automotive world with their vehicle hacks. This year, the team showed an exploit that would allow hackers to remotely hijack a Jeep. That hack resulted in Fiat Chrysler recalling 1.4 million vehicles. The hack apparently got the attention Uber which has hired the team to work in its Advanced Technologies Center research laboratory in Pennsylvania. In addition to researching mapping and safety, the car hailing service has been dabbling in autonomous vehicles at the research center. Miller -- who previously worked on security at Twitter -- tweeted that he would begin working for Uber this coming Tuesday. It's smart of Uber to bring on two renowned security researchers to make sure those autonomous cars don't get compromised while rolling around with passengers. The last thing it wants is to lose control of its future fleet of robot cars during surge pricing.

If you wondered what would become of Lucasfilm after 'ol George sold the firm back in 2012, you're looking at it: Disney Infinity 3.0. Yes, that game -- the best possible example of just how many of the franchises you know and love belong to Mickey Mouse. The game series started small, with just Disney itself and Pixar, the next version tacked on Marvel Super Heroes. The latest version of the game a cavalcade of everything: Star Wars, the Avengers, Tron, Frozen and more. As a fans of all those things, Tim Seppala and I just have to take a look. Join us at 6PM ET (3PM PT) on Twitch.tv/Joystiq, the Engadget Gaming homepage or right here in this post. It's going to be a magical adventure in a galaxy far, far away.