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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.

Must Reads

  • WSJ: Amazon axes hardware projects after Fire Phone failure

    An Amazon exec revealed last year that the company's continuing to develop more Fire phones despite the first one's failure to sell. According to The Wall Street Journal, though, that might not happen anytime soon: Amazon's shelving future phone plans, among other projects, and has even laid off a...

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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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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."

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.

While the Wii U is among our favorite ways to game, its Netflix experience has been lagging behind a bit. New features like (optional) autoplaying episodes, switching between individual profiles and easy resuming just never came to the console, until now. A new update went out last night -- just in time for the debut of the excellent-looking Narcos series -- that should bring things up to par with the rest, however some gamers on NeoGAF are still looking for the ability to control it with the Pro Controller instead of Nintendo's GamePad. Also, the new app defaults to streaming video to your GamePad instead of leaving it for information and navigation, so keep that in mind if you're checking out a few episodes in between rounds of Splatoon this weekend.

Back in May, the Federal Aviation Administration announced plans to test an app for drone hobbyists that'll ensure they're flying in approved airspace. The mobile software appears to be on schedule as B4UFLY is now in closed beta for iOS. Up to 1,000 UAV users will test the app that's primarily aimed at keeping you informed about which areas are safe to fly. In addition to interactive maps, the software serves up location-based status alerts and sorts future flight plans. That status report takes into account "airspace, proximity to airports, temporary flight restrictions, current law and other FAA guidance and procedures," according to the FAA's announcement. The agency says the beta will last for "several months" before the app is made available to the public. And while the test is iOS-only, the FAA plans to make the full version compatible with Android devices as well.

Germany Kraftwerk

Not to be undone by bands that release artwork via fax machine or by albums released in sheet music form, German electronic mainstay Kraftwerk's next record will be available in a 3D format. It's a fairly unusual approach to making music as you can't really hear 3D (unless you experience synesthesia). This latest collection of tracks will be released on Blu-ray in autumn. Ralf Hutter, the only remaining original member, told Rolling Stone that it will consist of 3D performances with surround sound.

Nintendo Nindies PAX

Nintendo helped kick off Seattle's annual PAX Prime gaming convention with a focus on the indie scene. The Nindies@Night event at the EMP Museum gave fans a chance to check out 19 indie games on the Wii U and 3DS -- and interact with the developers themselves. Among the highlights: Developer Shin'en showed off two-player split-screen support in its very F-Zero-esque Fast Racing Neo; Squad talked about bringing Wii U-specific features to Kerbal Space Program; and Yacht Club Games unveiled a certain shovel-wielding Amiibo figure.

Robots are replacing humans in a lot of roles. At Dartmouth, a robot may soon replace tackling dummies during football practice. Designed by engineering students at the Ivy League school, Mobile Virtual Player (MVP -- yes, really) gives training sessions a more realistic feel over those regular ol' stationary bags. It's also looking to reduce the risk of head and neck injuries. What's more, it's remote controlled. There's still work to be done, though, as the team behind the MVP is working to make the controls easier for coaches to use and the robot's maneuvers more realistic. Hopefully they're also installing a kill switch, so when the tech gets fed up, it doesn't start wrecking fools on the gridiron.

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of

Back in June, Google shared the good news that the Chrome browser would soon be smart enough to "intelligently pause content that aren't central to the webpage" that you're visiting. It's a welcome change that should help to continue marginalizing the annoyance of Flash. Fortunately, that blessed new feature is ready for prime time. On the Google+ page for the company's AdWords advertising program, Google said that a Chrome update coming on September 1st would make Flash-blocking the default state for users.

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy.
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After spending a total of 200 hours researching and testing over 20 WiFi routers, plus analyzing reader comments and feedback, the $100 TP-Link Archer C7 (v2) is the router we recommend for most people right now. This dual-band, three-stream wireless-ac router usually costs between $80 and $100 -- the same price as many older, slower routers. But unlike those slower routers, the C7 supports the fastest connections of every major device you can buy today.

We compared the Archer C7 against 21 different routers over a 10-month testing period. On most of our tests, the Archer C7 was the fastest -- outperforming routers that cost twice as much. You won't find a better-performing router than the Archer C7 for less, and you'll have to spend a lot more money to get a better one.

Kickstarter backers of Keiji Inafune's Mighty No. 9 are feeling a little burned. When its Spring release came due, Comcept pushed the release back to fall; when that September launch came on the horizon, the game was delayed until 2016. "We feel bad," producer Nick Yu told us earlier this month. "Really, really bad." The company knows its messed up, and agrees that backers deserve something for their patience. So they're getting something -- on September 15th, the game's second launch date, Kickstarter backers will get access to an exclusive demo of the Mighty No. 9's single player campaign.

XCOM 2 was supposed to launch in November, but apparently planet-wide alien invasions are tricky to schedule. Firaxis has pushed XCOM 2's release date back to February 5, 2016, noting that the game isn't up to the studio's standards quite yet.

"We've set a high bar for the sequel and the entire team has been working hard to make sure we deliver a great follow-up to Enemy Unknown," a short blog post reads. "We just need a little more time to make it the best possible game."

Babolat Pop

The market for connected tennis wearables hasn't exactly been around for very long, yet equipment maker Babolat has already established itself as something of a veteran in the space with its Play series line of sensor-equipped rackets. But that meant if you wanted the company's stat-tracking sensor and its easy-to-use app, you also had to buy one of its popular (and pricey) rackets -- since the sensor is hardwired to the handle. Babolat's latest entry, though, doesn't require quite as much brand loyalty. Today, the French company unveiled the Babolat Pop: a $90 connected tennis wristband that lets players track their groundstrokes, serves and other stats with any racket they want -- and, yes, that means other brands as well.

SYRIA-CONFLICT

17-year-old Ali Shukri Amin from Virginia will spend the next 11 years and 4 months in a federal penitentiary for his role in running the powerful pro-ISIS Twitter account, @Amreekiwitness. This account collected and disseminated ISIS propaganda to more than 4,000 followers and shared instructions for using Bitcoin to secretly fund the terrorist organization. Amin also admitted to helping one of the account's followers to travel to Syria and join the group. That follower has since been arrested and is facing federal prosecution as well on a conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism charge.