No, those bright blue, ruggedized devices being used on NFL sidelines aren't iPads. They're Surface Pro 2s. And while they may look like Apple's renowned tablet from afar, at least to some NFL commentators, Microsoft's been trying to help players and coaches get more familiar with the Sideline Viewing System since the league implemented it earlier this year. Naturally, this includes Russell Wilson, the starting QB of the Seattle Seahawks. Last week, during his day off, he took the time to talk to us at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, the team's practice facility -- located in Renton, Washington, around a 30-minute drive from downtown Seattle.

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'Tis the season to, you know, get a lot of gifts you don't necessarily want. We at Engadget know how it goes, and we also know how badly you'd like to burn, break and bash those bunk presents. So we did the dirty work for you -- literally. If you like watching gadgets get mercilessly destroyed while being serenaded by an angelic choir, then consider this our very special holiday gift to you.

(Special thanks to our friends at TechShop San Francisco!)

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ISS Commander Butch Wilmore holds a 3D-printed ratchet

It's official: you can "upload" tools to space. Following its earlier test run, the International Space Station has used 3D printing to make a ratchet based on instructions sent from Earth. It's not exactly a sophisticated implement, but it underscores the advantages of letting astronauts print their own gear. NASA and Made In Space (the company behind the printer) designed, tested and manufactured the ratchet in less than a week -- even if a conventional part was ready to go, it would have had to wait days or weeks for a ride on a delivery vehicle. Researchers will have to take a while studying the practicality of 3D-printed tools (including the effects of microgravity) before they're put into regular service, but it's easy to see a day where crews can always make the equipment they need.

[Image credit: NASA]


Disney Fastpass

Making a trip to Walt Disney World during the holidays? You might not avoid the long queues or endless parking lots, but you won't always have to pull out your wallet. As promised back in September, the Orlando area theme park will start accepting mobile payments on December 24th. The launch will let you use Apple Pay, Google Wallet and tap-to-pay credit cards to buy tickets, shop at stores and order from both bars and fast service restaurants. There are a few gaps. The system doesn't yet work at places that need a portable payment terminal, so you'll still have to break out the cash or plastic at a table service restaurant. You'll also have to wait until 2015 to get similar treatment at Disneyland in California. But hey, it's a start -- and it may save you a few headaches the next time you're jonesing to take a ride at Space Mountain.

[Image credit: Kent Philips]


Over the last few weeks, every person who has come into my home has gone through the same sort of rough conversation.

"What's that?"

"It's a new device that I'm testing. Do you like it?"

"Not really, it's a bit creepy."

This, then, is what happens when you live with Mother, which has finally begun to ship after getting so much attention when it launched in January. In essence, it's a device that's designed to connect the ordinary parts of your home to the internet, but is that something you really need?

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On top of laser weapons, passenger jets and space stuff Boeing is also, weirdly, building an ultra-secure Android smartphone called "Black" (not to be confused with the Blackphone). According to the Telegraph, it's now enlisted BlackBerry's help to make it even more secure, though it's not clear how, exactly. BlackBerry CEO John Chen said "we're pleased to announce that Boeing is collaborating with BlackBerry to provide a secure mobile solution for Android devices utilizing our BES 12 platform" and quickly added, "that, by the way, is all they allow me to say." The Boeing Black smartphone recently cleared the FAA FCC and comes with all the stuff a spook or G-man could want.

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The Problem Solver

When you've been stuck on a problem or that creative spark just won't come, the chances are you've turned to a cup of coffee to get things moving. A quick java infusion can certainly help, but studies also suggest that alcohol can also have a positive impact on your creative cognition.

University of Illinois Professor Jennifer Wiley determined that a person's "creative peak" comes when their blood alcohol level reaches 0.075, lowering their ability to overthink during a task. Medical Daily reports that marketing agency CP+B Copenhagen and Danish brewery Rocket Brewing wanted to help drinkers reach their imaginative prime, so they decided to create their own beer to do just that.

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It's far from a done deal, but the FCC has taken a step towards putting internet TV service on a par with cable and satellite. On Friday it announced the adoption of a proposal (previously floated by chairman Tom Wheeler) that would give TV providers that stream their channels over the internet, the same access to content that satellite and cable TV services have. So far, internet providers aren't classified as a "multichannel video programminng distributor", but if they were that could have forced programmers to negotiate with the likes of Aereo, instead of merely suing them. Even as cord-cutters celebrate, there are some restrictions even with the new proposal -- this plan wouldn't affect Netflix, Amazon or Hulu -- but it could make things easier for PlayStation Vue or Dish Network's planned internet TV feed.

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Since Venus is closer to Earth than Mars -- both in size and distance -- it would be a much more convenient candidate for manned exploration. There's just a slight hitch: the average temperature is 850 degrees F, and the atmosphere is 90 times denser than ours. In other words, you'd die in the opposite way that Quaid nearly did in Total Recall. Probes have been sent to the planet's surface, but the Russian Venera 13 survived the longest at just 127 minutes in 1982. As it does, NASA has figured a way around all that. In IEEE Spectrum, it outlined a study called HAVOC to build a floating "city" of astronaut-manned zeppelins that would hover 30 miles above the planet.

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Liu Fulong's homebuilt

If you think the coffee table you've been building in your spare time is pretty sweet, just wait until you get a load of what Liu Fulong has been making. The Shengyang, China resident recently finished his own electric armored car after four months of work, despite having no formal training in automotive design. As you might guess from the photo above, the "armored" label is based more on appearance than functionality. That wooden body probably wouldn't stop many bullets, and the missiles are purely cosmetic. But hey, the car underneath works -- Liu can get around at a respectable 30MPH (faster than his previous 20MPH project), and he factored in crucial elements like lights, mirrors and spare tires. Is this safe? Probably not, but it's proof that you don't need to be a wealthy entrepreneur to build your own eco-friendly ride.

[Image credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images]


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