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Amazon Jeff Bezos

For many years, Amazon has sent a huge percentage of its European revenues over to Luxembourg. The tiny country levies a much smaller rate of tax than most of the countries in which the retailer operates, allowing it to keep a larger share of sales. With the European Commission breathing down its neck over claims it had agreed an illegal tax deal with Luxembourg, Amazon has quietly begun booking sales in some of its biggest European markets. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company began paying direct taxes on sales in the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain from May 1st.

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Nexus Ruxpin? Google's mad science X division is, er, toying with the idea of smart teddy bears in one of its strangest patents yet. In response to junior's voice or movements, "the anthropomorphic device may aim its gaze at the source of the social cue," then "interpret the command (via its servers) and map it to a media control device," according to the document. From there, it could "express curiosity, (it) may tilt its head, furrow its brow, and/or scratch its head with an arm." It added that the device should be "cute" so that "young children may find (it) attractive."

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Google's offices in Brussels

If you've ever thought that "what was your first pet's name?" is a lousy way to keep intruders from resetting your password, you now have some evidence to back up your suspicions. Google has published research showing that security questions aren't that secure at all. In many cases, your answers are straightforward enough that attackers stand a decent chance of getting them right in 10 guesses or less. And you probably don't want to use bogus answers to throw people off the scent, either. Many of those who try this strategy use common words and make it easier for someone to get in.

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A black silicon solar cell

Scientists have long talked about black silicon (that is, silicon with nano-sized structures) having the potential to trump conventional solar power, and there's now some proof that this is happening. Aalto University researchers have developed black silicon solar cells that achieve a record 22.1 percent efficiency when turning the Sun's rays into usable energy. That's a 4 percent absolute boost over the previous best in black silicon, and good enough that the technology could finally be ready to reach the market and replace existing solar panels. Black silicon is far better suited to collecting sunlight at low angles, which is common in northern regions -- you wouldn't have to live in a sunny, forgiving part of the world to get the most out of clean energy. It should be cheaper, too. So long as these black cells translate well to mass production, you may have an easier time ditching the conventional power grid.

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Professor John Forbes Nash, Jr, winner o

Dr. John Nash, the Nobel Prize-winning mathematician whose work included noncooperative game theory, has died aged 86. Known as Nash equilibrium, the theory is used in a broad range of fields, including economics, other social sciences, evolutionary biology as well as influencing computing and artificial intelligence. His work and life were turned into the film A Beautiful Mind, starring Russell Crowe, which won an Oscar for Best Picture in 2001, also putting focus on the stigma of mental illness. Nash's famed work in math and other fields extended beyond the game theory work that won him the Nobel Prize.

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Google Chromecast

If you're fortunate enough to have more than one Chromecast device at home, you should now have an easier time making sense of your streaming options. Updates to both the Android and iOS Chromecast apps give you a reworked hardware view that gives each device its own card, complete with its current backdrop and casting status. You won't be as likely to hijack the kids' TV by accident, in other words. On top of this, you can browse through your backdrop history and change how quickly those pictures cycle. Swing by the App Store or Google Play if you've been itching for better control over your TV streaming.

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When you picture a consumer drone, something bulky with four or six props à la DJI probably pops to mind. But the folks behind a new model on Kickstarter think that such UAVs have two big problems -- namely, they're hard to carry and break easily if you mess up. They built The Sprite to overcome those limitations with a cylindrical, waterproof body and retractable blades. The design makes it easy to throw it into a pack, and when landing, the rotors halt in a half a second and fold into a retracted position. From there, the craft can safely alight on rocks, a bush or even a swamp without issues.

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Photos on Android

Wondering what will happen when Android's Photos app finally makes a clean break from Google+? You should now have a pretty good idea. Android Police has peeked at a leaked copy of a reworked Photos app, and it's clear that Google is using the service split as an incentive to shake things up. The highlight may be Assistant (below), an effective substitute for Auto Awesome that gives you more creative power -- you can produce more content yourself (such as Stories) instead of waiting for it to show up. The interface should also be more intuitive across the board, with more options for viewing your photos, a better editing interface, privacy-minded sharing and pinch-to-zoom gestures for opening pictures. There's a chance these features could change or disappear before they're official, but it won't be surprising if you see this Photos redesign on the Google I/O stage this week.

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Instagram from one Mr. Steele

Instagram's photographic social feed isn't as novel as it once was, and you may be tempted to stop using it if you're overwhelmed by that never-ending stream of square pictures. How is the company supposed to keep you coming back for more? Though regular email blasts, apparently. TechCrunch has confirmed that Instagram is now sending "Highlights," email digests that showcase some of the better photos from those you follow. While this see-what-you're-missing strategy isn't new (Facebook and Twitter have done this for a while), it acknowledges that only some of Instagram's 300 million users are active shutterbugs -- this could help you remember the service and catch photos that would otherwise slip under the radar. Yes, the highlights are ultimately meant to get you viewing more ads, but they may be useful if you'd rather not spend every day wading through an image stream.

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Rick Baker and 'Mikey' from Men in Black

If you're a movie buff who can't get enough of Hollywood's monsters, you might want to brace your wallet for impact. Famed special effects guru Rick Baker is auctioning over 400 items from his collection, including animatronics that were key to livening up aliens, apes and other creatures in big movies ranging from Gremlins 2 to the Men in Black series. The amount of technology involved might surprise you -- in many cases, what you saw on screen was just a small part of what was going on. The bidding doesn't start until the 29th, but we've rounded up some of the highlights in the gallery below if you can't wait to see what's up for grabs.

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