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While the Boeing-built X37B drone's nature remains mysterious, we at least know that it's a test-bed for futuristic space tech. When it launches on May 20th, it won't only be testing a new type of Hall effect thruster for the Air Force, it will also be carrying a collection of 100 different materials that can potentially be used for future spacecraft, rovers, rockets and other space hardware. The project is called Materials Exposure and Technology Innovation in Space (METIS), and it was designed to build on the data gathered from previous testing onboard the ISS. Any material meant to be used in space has to undergo rigorous testing first before it's incorporated into billion-dollar machines and vehicles.

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Your Sonos setup is pretty handy, what with its wireless audio and all that, but you know what it's missing? A mothereffin' open flame that bounces along to your music's beat, that's what. Because seriously, a jammin' stereo is basically useless if it doesn't run the risk of burning down the your house. And before you ask, no The Sound Torch weren't concoted by The Talking Heads' David Byrne. However! Its Danish designers say that it's perfect for either your next DJ set or family picnic. For the latter you could probably even skip using one of those grody public grills with these feats of pyrotechnics. What's more, the flame pattern and height apparently changes based on the beat and style of music you're playing.

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Tesla's just made its first acquisition: a tool and die shop based in Grand Rapids, Michigan (roughy 150 miles west of Detroit) that makes automotive stamping parts. As The Detroit Free Press reports, the current Riviera Tool will eventually become Tesla Tool and Die and will retain its current employees, possibly hiring more in the future. It gives the electric vehicle company a stake in the original motor capitol of the world, and is a sign of Elon Musk's ground-based baby working to alleviate supply chain issues. Ironically enough, the State Shaped LIke A Hand doesn't allow Tesla to sell its cars locally.

Update: A Tesla spokesperson has confirmed the purchase to Engadget.

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Google Chrome logo

The web isn't always a great a place to visit if you're color-blind -- in fact, you may not properly see the Chrome logo above. Thankfully, Google may have a way to fill in some of that missing picture. It recently released a Chrome extension, Color Enhancer, that tweaks the browser's colors to help overcome partial color blindness. All you do is walk through a basic calibration process, and the add-on does the rest. This isn't the most complicated addition in the world, but it could make a big difference if it helps you spot web objects that would otherwise go unnoticed.

[Image credit: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan]

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iPhone 6 Plus and Galaxy Note 3

Extra-large phones have been hot stuff in some countries for a long while, but not so much in the US. The country must have had a change of heart in the past few months, however. Kantar Worldpanel estimates that gigantic devices jumped from 6 percent of American smartphone sales in the first quarter of last year to 21 percent in early 2015. Why? If you ask Kantar, the launch of the iPhone 6 Plus was partly responsible -- it racked up 44 percent of all supersized phone sales despite being just a few months old. The analyst group isn't saying much in public how other brands were doing, although it's safe to say that category pioneer Samsung grabbed a large slice of the pie thanks to high-powered behemoths like the Galaxy Note 4.

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Planetary Resources' Arkyd-3R

Planetary Resources hasn't had much success getting its asteroid-mining business off the ground, in a very literal sense -- it lost its first satellite, Arkyd-3, in the Antares rocket explosion last year. It's about to get a second try, though. The Larry Page-backed company has announced that its craft's follow-up, Arkyd 3 Reflight (aka Arkyd 3R), is scheduled to launch from the International Space Station in July. While the vehicle will spend just 90 days sending self-diagnostic info before it falls to Earth, it'll serve as a useful test run before the more ambitious Arkyd 6 starts wielding its scientific instruments in December. No, this isn't the long-promised space telescope, but it's an important early step.


The Dark Souls series' relationship with PC gamers has been contentious at best. The vanilla versions of the first two games weren't unplayable per se, but if it weren't for the enterprising community of modders around the franchise it'd look and run kind of, well, crappy. This apparently extends to the recently released Scholar of the First Sin as well. But there's a twist this time: Players installing the popular "DS2fix" softmod that addresses weapons durability glitches and save corruptions have found that they aren't able to easily summon other players into their game for help or adversarial combat. As Kotaku reports, the players aren't hacking in a nefarious way, they're just using a patch that makes the game work better on their platform of choice. Instead of pulling "undead" (how the series refers to its protagonists) from a general population, it's grabbing them from a comparatively smaller pool of other players that've been deemed cheaters for using DS2fix.

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On Tesla's quarterly earnings call, CEO Elon Musk announced "crazy off the hook" demand for its just-announced Powerwall battery product. He said over 38,000 reservations have been received, which should take up the expected production through mid-2016, and demand is high enough to account for all of the Gigafactory's production if they devoted it just to stationary batteries. That includes some 2,500 companies that are interested in the commercial-ready Powerpack (with orders averaging around 10 units each), and Musk said he estimates that commercial interest in Tesla Energy will account for 5-10 more megawatt hours than residential. To clear up one question about the Powerwall, he mentioned that while it doesn't have a DC-to-AC inverter included, it does have a DC-to-DC unit built in.

Update: It wasn't mentioned on the call, but Tesla also confirmed its first acquisition today, snatching up Michigan-based part manufacturer Riviera Tool.

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A Pizza Hut in Florida

It's sometimes too dangerous to call 911, but one Florida woman just found a potentially life-saving alternative: a food delivery app. When Cheryl Treadway's boyfriend threatened to hurt her and her family if they left home, she used Pizza Hut's mobile app to send a request for help under the pretext of ordering food. Thankfully, staff caught the message and sent police to Treadway's home, getting the hostages out safely. This kind of stealthy, app-based plea won't be as necessary once text-to-911 rolls out in earnest, but it's good to know that it's an option in dire circumstances.

[Image credit: AP Photo/Alan Diaz]

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"Crabots" will help build Google's sprawling Mountain View campus. According to Architects Journal's latest report, these robot-crane hybrids will play a specific role in the construction of the Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick designed structure. The UK publication is privy to detailed planning documents that the tech giant submitted to the City of Mountain View Council in Silicon Valley. The papers include mock-ups of the machines that will lift and shift the block-like "pre-fabricated" components inside the structure. The objective, according the report, is "to create a solution that can be assembled efficiently and economically within pre-erected canopy structures by means of small, easily manoeuvrable cranes."

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