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AT&T hiking price of unlimited data to $35 a month

AT&T customers who've managed to hold strong to their $30 unlimited data plans since the carrier ended that option back in 2010 are about to get a bit of a surprise. According to 9to5 Mac, AT&T is seeking to increase that $30 a month fee to $35 a month (CNBC and CNET have also corroborated this story). That isn't much of a jump, but it is the first price increase of the grandfathered plan in years. Still, AT&T is hardly the only culprit here. T-Mobile has increased its unlimited data plan from $80 to $95 a month for new customers (older customers will still pay $80 a month), Sprint is now charging $70 a month for it and Verizon has upped its own grandfathered unlimited data plan by $20 a month. The unlimited data price increase for AT&T customers will go into effect in February of next year.

Want a sleek Windows 10 phone? Go to Japan

Just last week, Microsoft began selling the Lumia 950, the first Windows 10 mobile phone, and though the software showed promise, the hardware itself was lacking in charm. Now, Japanese design firm NuAns is set to release the "Neo," a sleek handset that should make for a nice alternative to the Lumia (if you're okay to trade design for customizability). It sports an interchangeable upper and lower half that can be swapped out, with 64 possible combinations available. The phone is set to retail for around $350 with lower-end specs to match, including a 5-inch, 1,280 x 720 display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor and 16GB of storage (expandable via microSD slot). If this handset sounds like something you can't live without, there's one problem: it's exclusive to Japan. So, unless you want to fly over to pick one up, it looks like you'll have to get creative when custumozing a smartphone available in your market.

[Image credit: NuAns]

Mind-controlled robot gives the disabled a taste of home

Brain-controlled robot limbs have already helped the disabled gain some mobility, but full-fledged robots have proven elusive: how do you use thoughts to steer a free-roaming machine? Swiss researchers think they have the answer. They've developed a mind-controlled telepresence robot that lets those with motor disabilities travel when it would otherwise be impractical. It's ultimately a laptop on a pedestal, but it uses clever semi-autonomous software to take the hard work out of controlling where the robot goes. You only have to don an EEG-based cap and imagine moving your hands or feet -- the robot plots a path based on your commands, and avoids obstacles all on its own.

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...

TiVo's QuickMode viewing feature hits all Roamio DVRs

Tivo's QuickMode option, which lets you speed up recorded shows with pitch-corrected audio, is available on every Roamio DVR as of today. The feature arrived last week for the TiVo Bolt, the company's latest set-top box, but it is now officially expanding to the entire Roamio family. TiVo says that, along with the release of QuickMode, it's also making other goods available in today's update. There's a refreshed look and feel in the TiVo Guide, as well as a new setting designed to make it easy for cord-cutters to get access to their content. Of course, the main attraction here is QuickMode -- TiVo says it can "shave a month of time each year" for people who want to watch shows at a faster pace.

Here's why the iPad Pro's processor is so fast

Whatever you think of Apple's products, there's little doubt that the A9X processor in the iPad Pro is quick -- in a few cases, it rivals the performance you'd get from a laptop. But why is it so quick, especially when Apple tends to shy away from high clock speeds, many-core processors and other conventional performance tricks? Thanks to AnandTech and Chipworks, we now have a good idea. They've torn down the A9X to reveal that the chip is a series of calculated tradeoffs. It only has two CPU cores and doesn't even have Level 3 memory cache to keep the processor humming, but it has a monstrous amount of bandwidth (51GB per second) and a whopping 12 graphics cores. That's twice as many as in the iPhone 6s' A9 chip, folks. To boot, the A9X is larger than Intel's latest quad-core desktop processors -- Apple has the headroom for components that you don't see in many PCs.

Adobe Premiere Clip brings its video-editing tools to Android

Adobe's bet on mobile productivity is serious, with its suite of Creative Cloud apps leading the way. One of the company's newest applications is Premiere Clip, a video editor that first debuted on iOS. But now Adobe is bringing this app to Android, giving users on the platform a fast and easy way to create videos on the go. Adobe Premiere Clip automatically creates videos from media stored on your smartphone or tablet (among other things), which can then be shared to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Aside from letting you distribute saved videos on social media, you can also polish those on the desktop with Adobe Premiere Pro CC -- though you'll need a subscription for the latter feature. The best part about Premiere Clip is that it's free, and could be a good option if you have to make a video in a pinch.

Sonos will support Apple Music starting December 15th

Sonos will close a major gap in the services that it supports on December 15th -- that's when the company's products will start working with Apple Music. The company said that this would happen by the end of the year back in June, just before Apple Music launched, and it seems that it'll make good on its promises. The service will first be available as part of an open beta, with full availability to come in early 2016.

Post a racist comment online, see it on a billboard near your house

Messages posted on Facebook, Twitter and other online spaces may feel like they carry less weight than things said in the physical world -- but that's not the case, argues Brazilian civil-rights group Criola. This year, Criola launched a campaign labeled, "Virtual racism, real consequences," which pulls racially bigoted comments from the internet and places them on billboards in the neighborhoods where the commenters live. Criola finds racist messages online and then uses geotag data to locate the author's neighborhood; the group then rents billboard space nearby and prints the comments for the world -- and the original writer -- to see. The names and images of the commenters are blurred out, but the message rings clear: Things said online affect people in real life, in real ways.

Microsoft updates navigation headset for the blind

In 2011, Microsoft UK teamed up with charity Guide Dogs to create 'Cities Unlocked,' an organization that worked to create a headset designed to help the visually impaired. That device came last year, but now it's received some major hardware and software upgrades. Although the original simply used bone conduction to send audio clicks and cues to guide the user around, the latest iteration is less of a practical tool and more of an information-rich service. It uses something called "3D soundscape technology," which is kind of like a GPS that describes everything that's around them, from local cafés to alerts telling them when a bus or train is approaching the stop.

9 gifts for the ultimate tinkerer

Winter 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.

Were you or someone you know the type of kid that took apart telephones, pushed pennies into (old, CRT) TV sets or mixed as many under the sink cleaning agents together to call it a potion and see what would happen? If you answered yes to any of the above, then this is the gift-giving category you're looking for.

Image credit: Getty Images

Researchers create magic sponge to clean up oil spills

Researchers at Australia's Deakin University claim to have developed a new material that's capable of cleaning up large oil spills in a flash. A team, led by Professor Ying Chen, has created a new method that uses boron nitride powder as the building block for a sponge that can absorb oil separate from water. Since you couldn't just sprinkle the substance onto the area around a crashed oil tanker, it had to be built into a porous 3D structure. In doing so, the team has been able to increase the surface area per gram to roughly five and a half tennis courts.

VTech's data breach affected five million customers

Kiddie toymaker VTech tried to downplay the extent of last week's data breach, which affected its "Learning Lodge" app store, but now it's revealed that five million customer accounts were compromised. Vtech says it's alerted Learning Lodge customers of the hack, and if you've got one of its devices, you should change your password (and password retrieval info) immediately. While the attack didn't reveal credit card data or sensitive personal information (like Social Security numbers or driver license IDs), it gave hackers access to customer's names, addresses, encrypted passwords and even birthdays and genders for kids. VTech says it's still investigating the situation, and it'll look into ways to strengthen its security. Breaches like this aren't unusual (it's thought to be the result of a relatively easy SQL injection attack), but it's notable since it involves products aimed at kids, which normally don't get much attention when it comes to data security.

UN says dating apps helped foster a teen HIV epidemic

Dating apps certainly have their virtues, but a new UN study suggests that they could sometimes play a big role in spreading sexually transmitted diseases. The report finds that dating apps helped spread an HIV epidemic among teens in the Asia-Pacific region by facilitating more casual sex. Effectively, they created networks where infections could quickly spread -- one HIV-positive person could easily ruin numerous lives.

'Top Gear' returns in May 2016 without Clarkson

While Clarkson, May and Hammond develop a new motoring show for Amazon, the BBC is working on its biggest Top Gear reboot in years. Presenter Chris Evans (no, not Captain America) is taking over Clarkson's role and revealed last weekend exactly when the first episode will be airing. Well, sort of. During the BBC's live Saturday Kitchen show he said it would be broadcast on Sunday, May 5th. Which would be fine, if May 5th wasn't actually a Thursday. Whoops. The Guardian seems to have cleared up the issue though, clarifying that filming will finish on May 5th before the first episode airs on May 8th.

Cyber Monday: Save up to 98 percent on eLearning resources

Now that your Thanksgiving hangover has subsided, it's time to take advantage of some of the best deals on the web for Cyber Monday. This year, treat yourself (or a loved one) to the gift of knowledge with these premier eLearning resources, available today for up to 98 percent off. That means you can get lifetime access to eduCBA's 500-plus tech training courses for just $36.75, and the comprehensive Learn to Code 2015 bundle for just $44. Check out some of these other premium eLearning deals, and use code CYBERMONDAY25 at checkout to apply the full discount.

Black hole ejects massive energy jet after devouring a star

For the first time, scientists have caught a glimpse of a black hole ejecting a hot "flare" of matter after devouring a star the size of our sun. The discovery was made thanks to the quick action of of scientists from John Hopkins University, who worked in conjunction with a team from the University of Oxford. Hubble fellow Sjoert van Velzen from Hopkins heard last year that Ohio State U researchers had spotted a transient star that was caught in the gravitational pull of a black hole some 300 million light years away. In theory, the event (dubbed ASASSN-14li) would result in a "tidal disruption" of the star, resulting in a hot flare burst energy jet emitted by the supermassive black hole.

BlackBerry is leaving Pakistan over demands for backdoor access

BlackBerry has announced it's formally shutting down shop in Pakistan over demands from the country's Telecommunications Authority that backdoor access be granted to the company's encrypted services. Back in July, local carriers were ordered to shut off BlackBerry Enterprise Service from the end of November, because "security reasons." While the order has been pushed back to the end of the year, Pakistan's government isn't budging, leaving BlackBerry no other option but to abandon the country. As the company explains, "remaining in Pakistan would have meant forfeiting our commitment to protect our users' privacy. That is a compromise we are not willing to make."

Swatch's payments watch is coming to the US

Swatch has announced that the mobile payments watch that it's sending to China will also make its way over here. The watchmaker has teamed up with Visa in order to offer the Swatch Bellamy in the US, Brazil and Switzerland. It's the third entry on that list that's the most eyebrow-raising, since Swatch CEO Nick Hayek very recently criticized his home nation's own banks for being slow to embrace new payments tech. It looks as if Visa has stepped in to make its relations in Switzerland look fusty and slow by comparison.

Gates, Zuckerberg and Bezos invest in huge clean energy fund

After announcing the Mission Innovation program to convince nations to double their clean energy investment budgets, Bill Gates has launched another massive initiative at the United Nations Climate Change conference in Paris. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition is backed by a who's who of tech leaders, including Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma and Richard Branson. The idea is to develop new green technology that will increase the world's energy output -- especially in poor countries -- without contributing to global warming. Such tech, however, poses a risk that regular investors might shy away from. "We need the basic research, but we need to pair that with people who are willing to fund high-risk, breakthrough energy companies," said Gates.

Virtual wound will teach medics how to treat soldiers

Field medics have ways to practice their craft before they're helping soldiers on the battlefield, but it's hard for them to understand how wounds work until they're involved in a life-or-death rescue. UCLA scientists may have the tool these medics need, however: they've developed the first detailed injury simulation to show medics what to expect. The virtual gash could make you a bit queasy (sorry!), but it's uncannily accurate. A mix of fluid dynamics and in-depth mechanics (such as bones, skin and vessels) makes sure that blood flows much as it would from a real person.