Not sure how to make an animated GIF? Don't worry, you don't have to learn a darn thing -- an unofficial web tool will do it for you. The website, simply named GIFYouTube, does exactly what it sounds like: it converts your favorite streaming video into an animated image. It's ridiculously easy to use (simply adding "GIF" to the front of any video URL kicks off the process), but it isn't perfect: GIFs only output in the above size for now, and the user controls are limited to selecting the animation's start time and duration. We also found that it only worked consistently in Chrome. That said, it's a neat tool, and its creators plan to add Webm and caption support in the near future. Want to check it out? Well, click right here.

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Been taking advantage of the Xbox 360's "Games with Gold" deal? You might be running out of hard drive space, and Microsoft knows it: it just updated the Xbox website with a teaser for a 500GB hard drive. At $110 it's still more expensive than PC storage, but it's oddly cheaper than the 320GB Xbox 360 HDD that's currently on the market. It's not clear if the new drive will serve as a replacement or if the price is merely a placeholder, but we'll never scoff at more storage space. Unfortunately, you can't order the new drive just yet -- the product page just says that pre-orders are "coming soon."

[Image credit: yum9me, Flickr]

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While we've seen some pretty big advancements (and even bigger installations) in solar-energy collection lately, unless you're looking for privacy, one of the biggest light-catchers -- windows -- have to go largely under-utilized. Researchers at Michigan State University might have a solution for that, though. The Spartan scientists have developed a transparent, colorless method for collecting the sun's rays and converting them to electricity, claiming that the tech's applications could be used pretty much wherever clear materials are needed. The system relies on a coating of organic molecules that soak up ultraviolet and near-infrared rays. From there, the rays are pushed to photovoltaic solar cells at the edge of the surface where they're converted into electricity.

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Car battery

It's great that manufacturers recover lead from discarded car batteries to use in new ones, since lead production from ores yields toxic residues. The problem is, when we shift from lead-acid to lithium-ion and other types of batteries (and we're starting to), over 200 million old batteries could be retired in the US and cause serious environmental issues. Thankfully, a team of MIT researchers has discovered one way to recycle lead from car batteries, and the end product is something very, very useful: long-lasting solar cells. We're talking about a new breed of solar cells in particular, one that uses a compound called perovskite, which needs lead to be manufactured.

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While the rest of us were out frolicking in the sun, The New York Times' Upshot blog spent the early part of the summer sussing out which counties in the United States were the easiest and hardest to live in. After a little extra prompting from Google's chief economist, editor David Leonhardt and the Upshot team used Google Correlate to dig into what these groups on either side of the digital divide were searching for online. Some terms -- the like "Oprah" and "Super Bowl" - are searched for by just about everyone. As you might've guessed, though, those search terms ultimately diverge... pretty wildly.

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It's a pretty common thing to see in an online store: pay with PayPal -- but what about on mobile devices? Well, the eBay-owned company is working on that. The company just announced PayPal One Touch, a new system that (as the name implies) hopes to make paying of items in mobile apps a one-touch affair. The feature isn't an app itself, but rather a service that can be embedded in other apps. Users will log into their PayPal account one time, and subsequently be able to pay for products in supported apps with a single click.

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Those old Lego Minecraft sets are cute, but the construction toy company's finally gearing up to release new ones that look much more like standard Lego sets -- and yes, they come with mini figures. Lego fans on the Eurobricks forum have recently spotted images of two of the six sets to be available later this year. Pictured above is The Farm, which features a standard player farm with Steve, a sheep, a skeleton, a jack-o-lantern-like brick and fake vegetables, because, well, it's a farm. The other one's called The Cave (see after the break) where Steve's equipped with a pickaxe, is buddies with a zombie and is scarily missing a hard hat despite that TNT brick looming behind him.

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It's no secret that girls in China are obsessed with taking selfies, but there's also a local trend of slapping a Chanel perfume bottle case onto their phones. No, we don't understand, either. Nevertheless, Sony is seizing this opportunity by releasing a new Cyber-shot camera that not only looks like a perfume bottle, but its big lens -- encased in a clear brick with a gold accent -- can also be flipped around to suit your needs. While it seems that Sony's seeded this bizarre device to several Chinese female influencers and models, they're remaining tight-lipped about the specs, but all will be revealed in China on August 22nd.

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snapchatpano632013

Snapchat might be the go-to app for firing off self-destructing selfies, but there's still one little issue CEO Evan Spiegel doesn't seem to have locked up yet: how is it actually going to make money? In-app purchases? Location-centric stories? The Wall Street Journal just offered up an unsurprising possibility with a bit of a twist -- the startup is apparently gearing up to launch a service called Snapchat Discovery that'll bring ads and news to its users.

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Navy Media Content Services

The unmanned X-47B drone has proven itself carrier-capable, but can it fit into normal flight operations? The Navy aimed to find out recently in some joint maneuvers alongside an F/A-18 Super Hornet aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. The X-47B model was tweaked with faster tailhook retraction and new software so that it could be parked more quickly after flights. It then flew carrier patterns along with an F/A-18, including a catapult launch, eight-minute flight, tailhook landing, taxiing and parking. As shown in the video below, crews were able to get the X-47B out of the way quickly after touchdown, letting the manned Super Hornet land shortly afterwards. It'll soon perform night-flying tests and other maneuvers, toward the Navy's ultimate goal of a Skynet-ish sounding UCLASS (unmanned carrier launched airborne surveillance and strike system).

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