Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon: These juggernauts are at the forefront of the tech industry. And with that success comes an ever-expanding workforce, and the need for a place to put them. To keep pace with growth, these companies have been making the requisite real-estate deals in order to build physical spaces to match their forward-thinking business approach. Fortunately, their designs are also more environmentally conscious than ever before. With the eyes of the world upon them, they've taken the well-being of the Earth, as well as their employees, into account, building innovative work spaces in an attempt to harmonize with the world around them. Below, we take a look at some of the steps these giants of industry have made over the years as they've moved from garage operations to vast campuses.

[Image: NBBJ]

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I immediately fell in love with the original Pax vaporizer when it debuted back in 2012. Its compact and lightweight construction belied a powerful three-stage conduction oven, while the sleek, push-button design made it far more intuitive and user-friendly than other portable vaporizers available at the time. Granted, the OG Pax wasn't perfect -- what with its habit of clogging every few sessions or so. Now, more than two years after the release of the first Pax, PAX Labs is back with a new iteration that's smaller, lighter and more powerful than its predecessor. Say hello to the Pax 2.

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I arrived in Palm Springs, California, with the best of intentions. I was to document -- painstakingly document -- the entire Coachella experience with all of the available mobile social tools at my disposal. I would Meerkat and Periscope and Instagram and Snapchat and tweet from Engadget's official accounts and the folks peering through from the other side of the digital window would watch, fave, like, retweet and comment live. I would use the festival's official app to plan my day and navigate the crowds. I would use an app dedicated to setting up reservations at (and paying for) pop-up dining experiences at the festival. I would Uber to and from the festival with abandon. With technology as my crutch, I would hack my Coachella experience. I would live through this festival as the ultimate millennial.

Except I failed miserably at it.

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There's a new generation of MIDI-connected interface tools to help your creative juices flow without being tethered to a computer or lugging around a full kit. The Jamstik smartguitar is a mobile instrument for the digital age, whether you're a seasoned guitar player or just looking to learn a few chords. It's a lightweight, 16-inch guitar interface that uses WiFi to connect to Macs, PCs and iOS 7+ devices. The Jamstik works with hundreds of apps including GarageBand and Ableton Live, letting you play guitar, synth, drums or anything else simply by plucking the strings. There's also a Kickstarter for the new Jamstik+, which adds Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity and a focus on musical education. What's more, for every 15 Jamstik+ devices that are backed, Zivix will give one to a non-profit educational organization, opening up the world of music to tomorrow's musicians. To help give you a taste, the company has given us two Jamstiks, along with a set of SOL Republic Deck Bluetooth speakers for a pair of lucky Engadget readers this week. Just head down to the Rafflecopter widget for up to three chances at winning.

Winners: congratulations to Jeremiah N. of Moscow, ID. and Jeremy M. of Southington, CT!

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Microsoft's found its stride with the Surface Pro 3, offering a portable yet powerful PC experience in a tablet form factor. Our readers even voted it the best overall gadget of 2014. Developers for the Windows platform, though, seem to be in short supply, leaving many popular apps out of reach (or out of date) for Microsoft fans. American Megatrends Inc. (AMI) has come up with a solution to the problem with its AMIDuOS software. If you've converted from Android to Windows, you can use the software to access your existing apps without an additional purchase. You'll also have access the latest versions without waiting for them to hit Microsoft's ecosystem. AMIDuOS works with PCs and tablets running Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 (32/64-bit) and offers instant switching -- you can even pin Android apps to the Start menu. To help one Engadget reader escape ecosystem isolation, the company has provided a 64GB Surface Pro 3 along with a lifetime license for AMIDuOS. Feeling lucky? Just head to the Rafflecopter widget below for up to three chances at winning.

Winner: congratulations to Taylor J. of Leawood, KS!

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Spring has sprung and while you may have been huddled by your PC's GPU all winter for some scant warmth, you can now continue your gaming sessions under the sun's rays. NVIDIA's GRID gaming service streams popular PC games right to its Shield devices, giving you some operational freedom beyond the desktop. GRID offers titles like Borderlands: The Pre-Sequal, Resident Evil 5 and Crysis 3, and the Shield Tablet, which packs a 192 Core Kepler GPU, a 2.2 GHz quad-core CPU and an 8-inch 1080p display, is up for the task. It's not just for gaming, either; this top-performing Android slate can stream movies and handle everyday multitasking with the best of them. If you have a Shield Tablet, you can take advantage of the GRID streaming service for free until June 30th, 2015. If you don't, just head to the Rafflecopter widget below, where you can get up to three chances at winning one along with its much needed accessories. The company has provided us with five complete sets, each including a Shield Tablet, a Tablet Cover and the indispensable Shield Controller for a total of five lucky Engadget readers this week. Game on!

Winners: congratulations to Zabak B. of Wilson, NC; Charles P. of North Las Vegas, NV; Donnie R. of Dallas, GA; Rafael R. of San Antonio, TX and Nic B. of Fairborn, OH.

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Mars One promises to send humans on a one-way trip to the red planet, with the intent to colonize, by 2027. Once the first four people leave Earth for Mars, there's no turning back, no panic button, no chance to return home. This aspect of the trip isn't just for drama -- it's a core tenet of Mars One's technical feasibility. CEO Bas Lansdorp believes that it's possible, using current technology, to land and sustain human life on Mars.

But the systems that would power a human settlement on an alien planet are ridiculously complex. They're so complicated that Lansdorp isn't yet sure what they will actually be. This lack of ready research has mired Mars One in controversy, thanks to a recent one-two credibility punch: First, a 2014 research paper from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology concludes that the program is not realistic. Second, a series of articles for Matter magazine calls into question the feasibility of Mars One financially, scientifically and ethically. Still, Lansdorp promises to send humans to live on Mars, but he can't yet say how. He wants the world to trust him.

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Why is Valve getting into virtual reality? Why is Valve making Steam Machines and the Steam Controller? Why did Valve make its own Linux-based operating system? Why did Valve make the Steam Controller? Why is Valve releasing its game engine, Source, for free? It's the Steam economy, stupid!

Valve's game store boasts "over 125 million active accounts worldwide." How does Valve keep growing that store? By literally everything else it does. Here's Valve president Gabe Newell explaining it to us last week at GDC 2015:

"We're trying to build standard interfaces and standard implementations that other people can use. Because, to be honest, we're going to make our money on the back end, when people buy games from Steam. Right? So we're trying to be forward-thinking and make those longer-term investments for PC gaming that are going to come back a couple years down the road."

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It's time have your voices heard. In the dog-eat-dog world of technological innovation ... Ok, ok, enough with the K9 metaphors. Let's just get to the point: Nominations for the 11th Annual Engadget Awards end at midnight PT tonight. We've given you a head start with a few suggestions, but feel free to write in your own in the ballots below -- if you haven't placed your votes already. You don't have to make nominations in every category, but selections should be for products available in 2014.

We'll announce the winners during a very special awards ceremony on March 25th. Let's just say the competition is rrrrruff ...

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88th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Thanks to Netflix, Amazon and YouTube, the competition for kid's eyeballs is fiercer than ever, but that's not slowing down Sesame Street. Now in its 46th year, the show is making a bigger and bigger push into social media, with often hilarious (but secretly educational) results. I sat down with the show's Senior Vice President and Executive Producer, Carol Lynn-Parente, shortly after meeting my new best friend, Cookie Monster, to talk about the show's digital life and more.

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Do you like podcasts? Do you like virtual reality? I'm hoping you occupy that particular sweet spot on the Venn diagram. I'm Ben Gilbert, and this is "Episode Zero" of "Three Bens in VR," the pilot episode of a podcast about all things virtual reality -- hosted by three guys named Ben! You've probably read some of the many, many pieces I've written on virtual reality right here on Engadget, and you've probably read the many works of my esteemed colleagues Ben Kuchera (of Polygon) and Ben Lang (of RoadtoVR). Regardless of our shared first name, what unites us on this show is a shared passion for the emerging medium of virtual reality.

So! Do us all a solid and give it a listen -- be warned that there's a brief section of wonky audio around three minutes in! Then let us know how you feel about the show in the comments, or via Twitter (all our handles are linked below), or however else you'd like! We want to hear it!

Hosts: Engadget senior editor Ben Gilbert, Polygon senior editor Ben Kuchera and RoadtoVR executive editor Ben Lang

Music: Steve Combs - +32 (FMA)

Producer: Jon Turi

Direct download: Episode Zero

Hear the podcast:

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I refuse to "unfriend" people on Facebook.

Well, okay, that's kind of false. I will unfriend you if we're not actual, real-life friends, and I eventually forget how we knew each other. But that's not the point. The point is that my Facebook friends list is made up of people I know, or knew, in real life. They may not be people I speak to every day, or people I see in person with frequency, but they are or were a tangible part of my life: part of what makes me me. To put that more eloquently:

"I see it as my network: a digital representation of my network. An archive of the people I've encountered and come across. If I want to understand my story, my history, all of the ways that I've come about, this is one of those vehicles. It's almost like this weird digital therapy space where you can get to the heart of where you are via the people you've interacted with."

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Exercising While Working

If you work anywhere in or around technology, chances are you've either witnessed or are a member of the standing-desk craze, the natural offshoot of the increasing medical research suggesting sitting in your Herman Miller Aeron chair will actually kill you faster than smoking. But standing's the tip of the iceberg. Treadmill desks, work-walking, whatever you want to call it -- more and more people aren't just standing while they work; they're clocking in 10 slow miles a day on the job. With treadmill desks popping up everywhere from home offices to the cube farms of Google to the open newsrooms of The New York Times, the definition of what it means to be "at work" is changing more than ever before.

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Japan Toyota Fuel Cell

Damn the torpedoes (and Teslas)! Two of Japan's biggest automakers are about to make sizable wagers on a different kind of clean fuel tech: hydrogen power. Toyota will launch the $57,500 Mirai fuel cell vehicle (FCV, above) next year, while hydrogen veteran Honda will out a model in 2016. But wait, aren't EVs the last word in green cars? Fuel cell cars are EVs, in a way, but you can fill one up with hydrogen in five minutes rather than waiting hours for a charge. The only way to do that in an electric vehicle (EV) is by swapping the entire battery. So why is there exactly one production FCV available to buy today, but EVs everywhere? That's a tale of efficiency, fuel, pollution and politics.

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