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VW reportedly knew its fuel economy figures were wrong a year ago

If one report is accurate, Volkswagen execs didn't just know that their cars' emission estimates were fishy -- they knew the fuel efficiency figures were off, too. German newspaper Bild claims that top brass was aware of misleading fuel economy estimates about a year ago, or months before it became public. Former CEO Martin Winterkorn reportedly went so far as to yank one model off the market, the Polo TDI BlueMotion, because its fuel consumption was simply too far off the mark (18 percent above estimates).

The AfterMath: A week of excesses

Too much food? Too many bargains? With a handful of antacids nearby, we hope you've enjoyed this Thanksgiving week. Following in tradition of all that indulgence, we're all about size and excess here at TAM. Nuclear-powered data centers, puffy nuggets of gold, huge numbers of user names hacked... and a suggestion for next year's Thanksgiving dessert. We'd suggest you start making room now.

Inhabitat's Week in Green: Tesla Model S recall, and more!

When a problem comes along, you must fix it. This week Tesla noticed a defective seatbelt in one of its Model S sedans, so the automaker immediately issued a recall for all 90,000 vehicles on the road out of "an abundance of caution." In other transportation news, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin beat out Elon Musk's SpaceX in the race to develop a rocket that can return intact from space. Porsche announced plans to offer a hybrid version of one of the most-loved sports cars of all time. We also spotted several outlandish infrastructural hazards: a three-day traffic jam snared drivers in Kenya and a highway suddenly lifted towards the sky and splintered into pieces in California.

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...

Professor saves home with smart sprinklers from 3,000km away

Deadly bushfires have swept across South Australia this week, destroying countless properties and natural spaces. One ingenious professor was able to save his rural home, however, by remotely activating sprinklers using a smartphone. Simon Maddocks, the President and Vice-Chancellor of Charles Darwin University, had been notified of the fires by friends and messages sent by the Country Fire Service (CFS). He was sitting comfortably in his Darwin office, far from danger, but knew his wheat farm on the other side of the country was at risk. Maddocks started tracking the flames from over 3,000 kilometers away using CFS maps on his phone before connecting to CCTV cameras at his house.

Amazon's new Fire TV can talk to your connected home

Amazon's Echo speaker and 4K Fire TV just got much better at handling around-the-house tasks. The Fire TV now controls smart home devices with a simple voice command -- you can ask it to dim the lights right before you start a movie. It'll search for local businesses and restaurants, too, in case you want to get some sushi when you're done watching. The Echo already has these features, but you can now ask it when a TV show starts to make sure you catch that big season premiere. Both the Echo and Fire TV upgrades are relatively straightforward, but they'll mean a lot if you're tired of bringing out your phone to ask simple questions.

This 'Super Mario Bros.' watch will cost you $18,950

How much of a Nintendo fan are you? Enough that you could spend as much as you would on a car, just to show the world where your allegiances lie? You'll want to talk to luxury watchmaker Romain Jerome, then. It just unveiled a limited edition Super Mario Bros. mechanical timepiece that marks the 30th anniversary of the plumber's adventures in style. And we do mean style: its 46mm case is made out of black titanium, and the three-layer dial is loaded with enamel-coated pixel figurines to remind you of Mario's early days. It's quite posh-looking, then, although the eye-watering $18,950 price will likely rule this out unless you're a high roller with some fond gaming memories. On the plus side, that ultra-rare Nintendo World Championship cartridge suddenly seems like a bargain.

E-paper sneakers change your style on the fly

If you're the sort to buy multiple pairs of sneakers just to make sure your footwear is always fashionable, you might soon have a way to save a lot of money. David Coelho is crowdfunding ShiftWear, or sneakers that have color e-paper displays in their sides. You only need a mobile app to change your look at a moment's notice (there are promises of a shoe design store), and you can even use animations if you're feeling ostentatious. The shoes are machine-washable, and the e-paper consumes virtually no power if you're using static imagery -- there's even talk of walk-to-charge tech that would save you from ever having to plug in or swap batteries.

Apple's next iPhone reportedly ditches the headphone jack

Apple's quest for ever-thinner, ever-smarter devices may produce another casualty: your iPhone's headphone jack. A rumor at MacOtakara claims that the next iPhone might drop the 3.5mm port and use the Lightning port for audio instead. The move would let Apple slim its phone even further (reportedly, over 1mm thinner than the iPhone 6s) and take advantage of Lightning's features, such as headphone-based DACs and app launching. You'd have to use an adapter for any conventional wired headphones, or else make the leap to Bluetooth.

The NSA's mass US phone surveillance ends tonight

The National Security Agency's long-running mass phone surveillance program is coming to an end. As promised, the USA Freedom Act will forbid the NSA from indiscriminately collecting Americans' call metadata at midnight on November 29th. Agents will have to get court orders to collect data from telecoms regarding specific people or groups, and then only for six months at a time -- they can't just scoop up everything in case something useful turns up. The NSA will still have access to five years' worth of legacy data through February 29th, but that's as far as its access will go.

For a while now Ben and Felix have been making and selling single handed accessibility controllers. In this episode Ben will tear down the XBox One gamepad and show you how to do mods of your own, from the pin-outs to the connections for the directional pads. Visit The Ben Heck Show community on element14 for links to the build files, suggest projects and sync up with The Ben Heck Show team!

If your wallet is bursting at the seams with credit, gift and loyalty plastic, the Coin universal card is supposed to lighten the load. Just add all your information to the app, sync it with Coin and get ready to buy all the things with a swipe or an NFC tap. Except when you can't. While the premise and feature set are intriguing, and in some cases helpful, in practice, it feels like too little too late. With Apple Pay, Android Pay. Samsung Pay and others already working on the future of transactions, Coin might might have missed the boat.

The best Cyber Monday deals

So you successfully emerged from Black Friday shopping relatively unscathed, and you've got the cash for an extra tech gift (or, let's be honest, a treat for yourself). Where do you go to spend that dough? Don't worry: we've rounded up some of the best gadget discounts for Cyber Monday, the online-focused shopping event that follows the Thanksgiving weekend. If you're looking for a 4K TV, a game console for the family or a PC upgrade, we have what you need.

Most of these deals won't last beyond the day itself (November 30th), but keep an eye on the dates. A few of them are already active or will stick around for at least a day longer, so you may not be out of luck if you're traveling when Cyber Monday kicks off.

[Lead image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

Ahhh, the holidays. What a lovely time of year to catch up with the extended family and do a quick bit of shopping at enormous discounts. The truth of the situation, however, is often less relaxing than it sounds. Family get-togethers can be taxing, especially when you factor in the state of politics today and the obligatory "drunk uncle." Black Friday (which apparently starts on Thursday now) has become a frantic shopping battle, with everyday folks emboldened by insanely low-priced waffle makers. That's OK, technology is here to help you regain your inner zen. Breathe deeply, try to find a quiet corner and join us in the gallery below for some helpful gadgets to bring you serenity when you need it most: Now!

See the radio waves constantly bathing you with this app

Whether or not you realize it, there are radio waves constantly washing over you. Thanks to the countless WiFi routers, cellular towers, and GPS satellites (not to mention all the Bluetooth and other smaller wireless devices) the air is literally just a sea of energy. Architecture of Radio is an app that aims to visualize those ebbs and flows of data. Creator Richard Vijgen taps into a public database of 7 million cell towers, 19 million Wi-Fi routers and hundreds of satellites to create an augmented reality experience where you can point your iPad or iPhone in any direction and a representation of the radio signals in your area.

You partly have Eric Schmidt to thank for the new $5 Raspberry Pi

While many of you were supposed to be eating turkey on Thursday, you were instead geeking out over Raspberry PI's newest computer, the Zero: a pint-sized module that costs just $5. But according to a new interview, that $5 computer was originally supposed to cost around $60 -- and you have partly have Google's Eric Schmidt to thank for that reduced price. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Raspberry Pi Foundation founder Eben Upton admitted that the follow-up to the original $35 Pi was originally going to be a more powerful model, whose higher-performing internals would have put the price somewhere between $50 and $60.

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.

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.