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Pasta maker Barilla is no stranger to having 3D printing improve its methods for churning out products for the masses. Now, it's looking to leverage those tools for some new pasta designs. After a recent competition, the company revealed three winners who created new shapes with 3D-printed models. One winner, Rosa, blooms into a full rose when it's placed in boiling water. Two other designs include a conical vortex shape and a circular moon, complete with craters to "improve the interaction between pasta and sauces." What's more, Barilla says it may work the leading design into future products. Earlier this year, the company announced plans to research restaurant-grade printers for made-to-order custom shapes too, so alternatives to the traditional options could be on the way soon. Swapping out penne for blooming rose pasta should certainly spice up your next romantic evening in.



The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (that's "North Korea" to the common man) has just four networks that connect to the world wide web -- and none of them are working today. "The situation now is they are totally offline," Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at Dyn Research told Bloomberg. After a weekend of spotty connections, the country's pipeline to the outside world reportedly went down this morning. "This isn't normal for them," Madory said. "Usually they are up solid. It is kind of out of the ordinary. This is not like anything I've seen before."

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Google's complete self-driving car prototype

Google had a (not very well-kept) secret when it unveiled its experimental self-driving car: that first example you saw was just a mockup that lacked many of the basics. At last, however, the internet giant has unveiled a complete prototype of the car that has everything it needs to hit the road, including the autonomous driving system and typical mechanical parts like braking, lighting and steering. Yes, it still looks like a koala on wheels, but this motorized marsupial is now ready to hit the test track. It'll also reach Northern California roads sometime next year, so don't be surprised if you see a cutesy driverless vehicle puttering around your local streets.


The X1.8 solar flare in ultraviolet light

It's no longer rare to hear reports of solar flares that could affect Earth, but seeing them in vivid detail? That's another matter. Thankfully, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recently captured a high-intensity X1.8 flare (80 percent more intense than an already huge X1 flare) in action. The pretty pyrotechnics you see above represent a subset of the ultraviolet light from the eruption, while the video below shows what it looked like in other wavelengths. And the kicker? As impressive as this may be, it's far from the largest example in recent memory -- that honor goes to a mammoth X28+ flare from 2003. These ejections aren't so enjoyable when they cause havoc with communications and navigation systems, but they at least make for a good light show.

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No, those bright blue, ruggedized devices being used on NFL sidelines aren't iPads. They're Surface Pro 2s. And while they may look like Apple's renowned tablet from afar, at least to some NFL commentators, Microsoft's been trying to help players and coaches get more familiar with the Sideline Viewing System since the league implemented it earlier this year. Naturally, this includes Russell Wilson, the starting QB of the Seattle Seahawks. Last week, during his day off, he took the time to talk to us at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, the team's practice facility -- located in Renton, Washington, around a 30-minute drive from downtown Seattle.

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'Tis the season to, you know, get a lot of gifts you don't necessarily want. We at Engadget know how it goes, and we also know how badly you'd like to burn, break and bash those bunk presents. So we did the dirty work for you -- literally. If you like watching gadgets get mercilessly destroyed while being serenaded by an angelic choir, then consider this our very special holiday gift to you.

(Special thanks to our friends at TechShop San Francisco!)

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ISS Commander Butch Wilmore holds a 3D-printed ratchet

It's official: you can "upload" tools to space. Following its earlier test run, the International Space Station has used 3D printing to make a ratchet based on instructions sent from Earth. It's not exactly a sophisticated implement, but it underscores the advantages of letting astronauts print their own gear. NASA and Made In Space (the company behind the printer) designed, tested and manufactured the ratchet in less than a week -- even if a conventional part was ready to go, it would have had to wait days or weeks for a ride on a delivery vehicle. Researchers will have to take a while studying the practicality of 3D-printed tools (including the effects of microgravity) before they're put into regular service, but it's easy to see a day where crews can always make the equipment they need.

[Image credit: NASA]


Disney Fastpass

Making a trip to Walt Disney World during the holidays? You might not avoid the long queues or endless parking lots, but you won't always have to pull out your wallet. As promised back in September, the Orlando area theme park will start accepting mobile payments on December 24th. The launch will let you use Apple Pay, Google Wallet and tap-to-pay credit cards to buy tickets, shop at stores and order from both bars and fast service restaurants. There are a few gaps. The system doesn't yet work at places that need a portable payment terminal, so you'll still have to break out the cash or plastic at a table service restaurant. You'll also have to wait until 2015 to get similar treatment at Disneyland in California. But hey, it's a start -- and it may save you a few headaches the next time you're jonesing to take a ride at Space Mountain.

[Image credit: Kent Philips]


Over the last few weeks, every person who has come into my home has gone through the same sort of rough conversation.

"What's that?"

"It's a new device that I'm testing. Do you like it?"

"Not really, it's a bit creepy."

This, then, is what happens when you live with Mother, which has finally begun to ship after getting so much attention when it launched in January. In essence, it's a device that's designed to connect the ordinary parts of your home to the internet, but is that something you really need?

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On top of laser weapons, passenger jets and space stuff Boeing is also, weirdly, building an ultra-secure Android smartphone called "Black" (not to be confused with the Blackphone). According to the Telegraph, it's now enlisted BlackBerry's help to make it even more secure, though it's not clear how, exactly. Blackberry CEO John Chen said "we're pleased to announce that Boeing is collaborating with BlackBerry to provide a secure mobile solution for Android devices utilizing our BES 12 platform" and quickly added, "that, by the way, is all they allow me to say." The Boeing Black smartphone recently cleared the FAA FCC and comes with all the stuff a spook or G-man could want.

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