The 8 weirdest gadgets from CES 2016

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It’s easy to miss something at CES.

170,000 people descended on Las Vegas this year to see some 3,800 exhibitors scattered around almost 2.5 million square feet of event space, displaying thousands and thousands of gadgets and toys. After going up and down escalators in event spaces all over the Las Vegas strip, you see a lot of stuff – a lot of which is literally just “stuff.”

Sometimes you get an early glimpse at a game-changing device that upends the way we live our lives or conduct business. Sometimes you get to see a mad scientist’s prototype for a product that, while intriguing, will never reach a broader audience. Sometimes you see a hologram of Slimer for no reason.

Here are eight of the weirder things we saw at CES.

Samsung Family Hub Fridge

Samsung Family Smart refrigerator lets the whole family plan together.

At long last, Samsung has attached a 21.5″ display onto a refrigerator, liberating us from the tyranny of appliances that only keep food cold. In addition to the thrill of browser, messaging, and connected home functionality, the fridge also has sensors to detect spoiled food and automatically replenish low supplies. It has cameras that make it possible to peruse the contents without opening the door, perhaps from your office.

If your fridge is full of to-go containers and maybe a bottle of mustard, you can probably sit this one out. Watch YouTube on your laptop like a Neanderthal.

Video games for your dog

Dan Knudsen is the cofounder of CleverPet, which makes a game console for dogs.

Above: Dan Knudsen is the cofounder of CleverPet, which makes a game console for dogs.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

CleverPet thinks you might be interested in a “game console” that uses Wi-Fi and LEDs to feed your dog. Imagine playing “Simon Says,” but with an animal that would really rather just eat and go back to sleep. Sounds fun, right? Would it help you to know that preorders are only $269?

“The hard part for now is convincing people that a game console for dogs is not a ridiculous concept,” CleverPet founder Dan Knudsen said.

That is true: Building a game console for dogs is easier than selling a game console for dogs.

Parrot Pot

Parrot Pot

Above: Parrot Pot

Image Credit: Parrot

Located on the expo floor right next to the glider-shaped Parrot Disco drone was the Parrot Pot, the French company’s second-coolest CES offering.

Two years ago, Parrot unveiled Flower Power, a Bluetooth soil monitor. This year, they’re back with a  $99 pot that measures soil moisture, ambient temperature, and light level every 15 minutes. It features a 2.2-liter water tank that irrigates plants automatically, pulling hydration info from a database of 8,000 plants.

It doesn’t zoom in the air at 50 mph and does not come equipped with a 1080p camera. But if you lack a green thumb, it could help you keep plants alive with near-zero effort.

EHang 184

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It would have been known as a “flying car” in any other year, but CES is a place for saturating any and all trends.

So, instead, the Internet dubbed the EHang 184 a “passenger drone,” despite that being a bit of an oxymoron. EHang calls it “the world’s first electric, personal Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV).”

Whatever you want to call it, this is a helicopter with eight blades aimed right at your knees. It flies for 23 minutes on a single charge, could cost as much as $300,000, and is currently illegal to fly in the U.S.

The Terrafugia TF-X is still cooler and equally unlikely to make it to market.

Crazybaby’s floating speakers

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Crazybaby’s Mars speaker kind of looks like an Unidentified Flying Mac Pro. The main speaker hovers above the subwoofer using magnet technology. Crazybaby’s site makes some claims about zero-loss audio, meaning that nothing is lost against the walls of an amplifier cone or the mesh grill of a portable speaker. It costs $300; hopefully it comes preloaded with the X-Files theme.

Intel’s Segway Robot

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Intel’s partnership with Segway and Ninebot yielded a friendly-looking robot that you can ride around the house or up the street. When it’s done giving you a lift, it will bop through your house, probably unable to accomplish much else.

Intel says the bot can pick things up and answer the door, but that’s not particularly amazing. Until it can make a grilled cheese, I’ll stick with a regular Segway that doesn’t wander around like a bored teenager. A Segway looks plenty goofy; it doesn’t need a pair of eyes.

LG’s $2,000 steam room for your clothes

The LG Styler “refreshes” your clothes with a little old-fashioned steam and heat. It does not use chemical detergents, opting for steam to deodorize fabrics. The hangers bounce around gently to shake out wrinkles. A heat pump removes the moisture from the steamy air and recycles the warm air.

It costs $2,000.

It is not rollable, but the “Smart Diagnosis” tech will ping the user’s smartphone when the appliance needs water or other routine maintenance. With NFC, the user can download new steam and heat cycles to their smartphone and transfer to the Styler with a simple tap. The possibilities are truly limitless.

It costs $2,000.

It has a capacity of about 4-5 items and features a door panel that lets you iron a perfect crease into your pants.

It costs, I still cannot believe this, $2,000 United States dollars.

Somabar makes a chore out of premixed cocktails

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The Somabar is a machine with tanks that you fill with booze and mixers for automatic, on-demand cocktails.

It also perfectly typifies CES: It has a white plastic shape, smooth curves, and elements of glass and metal. It grabs you with its niftiness but, in truth, is a totally senseless use of money and space.

Next year, CES should consider an expo show way up high on a scenic floor of the Stratosphere. Then they could at least call it SkyMall.

 

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Inside Twitter City, the secret CES conference area that looks like a theme park

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While some of the world’s biggest tech companies were dazzling attendees in giant ballrooms at the 2016 CES expo in Las Vegas, Twitter quietly spent an incredible amount of money, time, and effort building a miniature “city” that pretty much nobody saw.

It is strictly not open to the press, but I made it in anyway.

On Wednesday, a very friendly PR flak asked me if I wanted to check out the company’s invite-only exhibit.

“It’s private in the sense that there’s typically no press, but you can come by if you’d like,” she told me.

A chance to quietly invade the heart of one of tech’s biggest companies in the world’s largest tech expo? Say no more.

I was escorted from the lobby of the Cosmopolitan Hotel up the central escalators. We passed a demo table for a really cool-looking maglev car, which looked way out of place in the empty space near some nondescript elevators. Maybe the room would be packed later? Vegas casinos are giant and confusing.

“We’re going in a back way,” my guide informed me as we approached some giant stage doors. I tucked my press pass into my jacket as the security guard nodded us through.

A narrow black corridor was littered with crates, cables and all the other things you would expect to see backstage. We stepped over some boxes and walked around a false brick wall into a miniature town that looks like an indoor Truman Show. It seemed bizarre and superfluous, even in a place like Vegas which has a fake indoor Paris, a fake indoor New York, a fake indoor Egypt, a fake indoor Roman palace, and a real Trump property.

The first thing I saw upon entering was @Jack #Dorsey sitting on a park bench (still indoors), absently looking at his phone with those big, sad beagle eyes. He looked tired, which is probably an understatement.

But the “park” was a giant pitch of astroturf lined with benches, street lamps, a voting booth, and a giant illuminated art installation in the shape of Twitter’s new-ish heart.

The park was lined on two sides with “shops,” some of which were showcasing Twitter-affiliated products; others were #cozy living rooms with bookshelves stocked with prop books. There was a “movie theater” with a glowing marquee, a “record store,” a “garage,” a “salon,” a “pizza place,” and a “sports bar” that was empty save for one stoic “bartender” and a single unlabeled beer tap. I have no idea if it actually dispensed beer, but I’m not sure which answer would surprise me more. If you’ve already built a fake city, is it too extraneous to make your own fake beer?

My brief time in Twitter City was over after about 15 minutes. I tried my best to sneak a couple of photos while grabbing coffee from the above-average catering table, but you can probably guess why I’m showing photos from Twitter employees. I spoke to nobody except the person who slipped me in through the back.

Twitter City was far from the most ridiculous stage setup I saw at CES, but what struck me was how quiet and hidden it was. I have literally no idea where the front door would be located.

What also struck me was the contrast between this hidden world and the conference areas for other companies. Here is Microsoft, which opted for a decidedly more “Holiday Inn Express” vibe:

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(Microsoft, by contrast, is a profitable company.)

Twitter City seems like an overly involved stunt for a company in a huge transition period. There’s nothing wrong with developing a big, flashy “experience” surrounding your company and product — that’s the only point of CES. (Showing off helpful, realistic products” is certainly not the point.)

But it is weird to go through the trouble and considerable expense of making a fake town, only to hide it behind the fortress walls of a flashy casino. Twitter’s CES goal may be to show how it makes everything more shareable, but they sure aren’t interested in sharing Twitter City.










Hands-on: Muzik’s Twitter-backed headphones beat Apple’s Beats

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I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when I read that Twitter’s first hardware investment was a Beats competitor called Muzik.

“Fantastic,” I thought. “Mankind has been patiently awaiting headphones that can tweet.”

It seemed wrongheaded. It seemed like a cash grab that came too late. It seemed like another swing-and-a-miss from Twitter, which has made several past attempts in the music realm without much success. This one, I was pretty sure, was another dud.

But I was wrong.

Muzik first showed off a version of the headphones in 2013. After a few years of sporadic development, Muzik raised $18 million from Twitter, spread among several investors. I met with Muzik founder and CEO Jason Hardi in a penthouse suite 60 floors above the 2016 CES conference happening in Las Vegas this week. Then I spent the day wandering the conference with the headphones and companion app, ahead of its Wednesday unveiling at Twitter’s booth.

The headphones, known as the Convertible, are made to compete with Beats. But Beats offers a mutant, bass-distorted signal and a garbage build quality. In a pair of Beats headphones, 30 percent of the weight comes from four metal parts that only exist to add weight. Beats feel weighty and solid, but it’s a sham. They sound thunderous, but it’s nowhere near the original audio signal.

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Muzik, on the other hand, gets it right — the over-ear cups are perfectly cushioned, and you can easily swap for the on-ear with a quick magnetic click. The 40mm drivers gush with a balanced, panoramic soundstage. The aluminum feels robust, and the headband rests on the crown of your head without causing fatigue. You can see precision screws where Beats skimped with plastic snaps and glue.

It’s also insanely flexible.

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Above: Try this with Beats’ injection-molded plastic. Actually, don’t.

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“Historically speaking, most headphones come in a nice black box and that’s it. Your iPhone and my iPhone are the same, but we use them in completely different ways. We make them ours,” Hardi said.

He references the iPhone because, thanks to free iOS updates, a phone can add features and functionality without changing the internal hardware. Hardi has a long list of features he wants to roll out via firmware updates.

For now, the Muzik app is fairly straightforward. Right out of the box, you pair the headphones to your device via Bluetooth. It hiccuped a few times for me, but nothing beyond the typical Bluetooth bumpiness. You can skip songs or change volume by gesturing with your finger. Hold your palm over the right ear to pause.

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From there, you can assign actions to each of the 4 dimpled hotkeys. The headphones can speed dial, read the date and time and – yes – share to Twitter and Facebook.

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The current version of the app pretty much ends there. But Hardi showed me what he’s got in store for Muzik’s platform. Among his plans is a thing called Moments (hello, Twitter): shareable snapshots that capture the instant you were listening to a song – a photograph paired with the time, location, and even the weather. Let’s say you’re in Times Square really digging the Rolling Stones’ catalog on a sunny day. With a simple gesture, you’ve got something shareable to Facebook, Twitter and, eventually, many others.

Coming soon.

Above: Coming soon.

This would normally be one of those features that nobody ever uses. Who wants another app that feeds into yet another social media platform? Hardi is hoping that this gesture-based function is the solution. Once the headphones are set up in-app, your gestures allow you to post straight to Facebook, Twitter, or whatever you please.

“Set it and forget it,” Hardi said, recalling the late, great Ron Popeil.

The Convertible will cost $299 and is expected to ship in May. Hardi said Muzik will have an in-ear model, called the Sport, available later this year for $199. While considerably smaller, the Sport earbuds will feature similar gesture functionality and Twitter/social integrations. This model also integrates with HealthKit, automatically detecting heart rate and oxygen consumption.

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Whether the software behind these hyper-connected devices attains Hardi’s lofty vision remains to be seen. It almost doesn’t matter, because the hardware alone is strong enough. Muzik has developed a pair of headphones that could (and should) dispel the marketing smoke-and-mirrors of Beats.










Enlaps’ weatherproof camera is the GoPro of time-lapse photography

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Just a few years ago, time-lapse photography required vast amounts of patience and calculation.

You might recall the time-lapse glory of BBC programs like Planet Earth and Plants. Those camera crews had to use an intervalometer to shoot short clips of film at set intervals. They also had to visit their setups to swap out camera batteries and cards. Those cameras aren’t waterproof, either. In the Himalayan foothills or even in your own city, time-lapse is a lot easier said than done.

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Enlaps wants to change all that. On Monday at the 2016 International CES in Las Vegas, the French startup featured Tikee – that’s the name they’ve given this weatherproof, all-in-one, connected time-lapse device. (It was also nominated for the CES Innovation Award for Digital Imaging.)

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Tikee’s form factor resembles a Wi-Fi router with a solar panel on top. Its two cameras feature wide-angle lenses with 4K sensors, allowing for richly detailed panoramas. According to its still-unfunded Kickstarter page, the setup is simple. Set the self-contained unit on any sturdy surface or attach it to a standard tripod. Pair it with your smartphone, choose a couple of settings, and you’re ready to go.

Enlaps has lowered the barrier to entry for time-lapse photography by easing two major constraints: battery and storage. An adjustable solar panel offers near-endless battery life (though that won’t do much good on cloudy winter days). Each photo taken by Tikee is sent directly to the cloud, so you don’t have to worry about changing out SD cards. The base model is Wi-Fi only, but the “pro” model offers 3G connectivity –helpful in locations too far-flung for WiFi.

If you really want to go wild, Enlaps’ web application lets the user set parameters for a wide range of options. You can use the two wide-angle lenses to pan, tilt, and zoom across the visual field. Just preview the shot and select where you want your time-lapse video to begin and end. Walk away and let the Tikee do the rest. Best of all, the camera can get wet, but now you don’t have to.

Enlaps' web application lets users remotely set up, trigger and monitor time-lapses.

Above: Enlaps’ web application lets users remotely set up, trigger and monitor time-lapses.

Image Credit: Enlaps

If you want to own one of these for yourself, a $375 Kickstarter pledge will get you a Wi-Fi model for well below the projected retail price — currently about $600 for Wi-Fi and $800 for WiFi + 3G.

But despite the impressive features, Enlaps needs another $50,000 or so to get its Kickstarter full funded. If that happens by January 19th, TIKEE could hit the shelves by August.

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Link is a tiny cube that streams media to 7 devices at once — no Wi-Fi or data required

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Storing files on portable drives is a real pain. Flash drives, microSD cards, external hard drives — the storage itself can feature bigger capacities or faster write speeds, but they’re still a pain. They require a card reader or a cable you forgot to pack. Sometimes your laptop won’t read a particular card. Sometimes they fail altogether.

Fasetto, a Wisconsin-based cloud storage startup, unveiled its latest effort to solve this problem today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It’s called Link, and it’s pretty incredible.

This tiny, cube-shaped device stores up to 2TB of data wirelessly. With its own operating system, quad-core ARM processor, and 4GB of RAM, it’s pretty much a tiny computer that beams content anywhere at any time.

Any device that is Wi-Fi or Bluetooth compatible can use Link via a proprietary app or the device’s web browser.

The guts inside this cube allow up to 20 device connections, and can stream media to 7 devices at the same time — without requiring any mobile data.

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This means on-the-go users can leave the cables, adapters, and card readers behind. The CNC aluminum and shock-proof ABS plastic make it durable enough to withstand travel. Sitting in your hand, the Link has the geometry and rugged feel of a GoPro.

This redesign is a big step forward for the Link, which was easily one of the ugliest wearables at CES last year. It promised users 1TB of storage on their wrist, but sadly, looked like a house arrest ankle monitor. No more.

Link is expected to be commercially available in late 2016.

 










Twitter revives Politwoops for saving politicians’ deleted tweets

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey onstage at the Flight developer conference on October 21, 2015 at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, Calif.

Twitter officially announced the return of Politwoops on Thursday.

After a four-month absence, Twitter reached an agreement with political watchdog groups the Sunlight Foundation and the Open State Foundation to revive the site, which logs deleted tweets from politicians. Although some of the saved tweets were deleted for simple typos or minor errors, others are more embarrassing, and the site aims to hold politicians accountable for past statements and policy positions.

Arjan El Fassed, director of the Open State Foundation, said “This agreement is great news for those who believe that the world needs more transparency. Our next step is now to continue and expand our work to enable the public to hold public officials accountable for their public statements.”

Twitter shuttered Politwoops earlier this year when it revoked the Sunlight Foundation’s access to its developer API. At the time, a statement from Twitter argued that politicians are no different from any other user, and that people have the right to delete content from the network.

“Imagine how nerve-racking — terrifying, even — tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable?” the statement read. “No one user is more deserving of that ability than another. Indeed, deleting a tweet is an expression of the user’s voice.”

Back in October, Twitter founder and newly reinstated CEO Jack Dorsey hinted that he would be reconsidering the decision.

“We have a responsibility to continue to empower organizations that bring more transparency to public dialogue, such as Politwoops,” he said. “We need to make sure we are serving all these organizations and developers in the best way, because that is what will make Twitter great.”

The Politwoops website is still inactive, and Twitter’s announcement did not include a specific date for the relaunch.

 










Here are the 5 best and worst movies about technology in 2015

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Christmas is here, which means you’re probably reading this article to avoid talking to your Trump-curious uncle.

Unfortunately it’s also the time of year when pretty much zero news is breaking, so we fill the quietness with a lot of year-end roundups and hope something breaks.

To help save you from the 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon, I’ve rounded up this year’s best and worst movies that feature (or mangle) technology. Each comes with a trailer, and many of them are already available to stream or rent. This list might be your last home to watch something tonight that isn’t stop-motion animated.

The Best

5. The Martian

This is a big, dumb movie, but it’s in the “best” category because it’s also a bunch of uninterrupted fun. Ridley Scott spent almost a full whole decade churning out bomb after bomb, but this adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel brought back everything we loved about Ridley’s best work: explosive action with a soft heart and an unlimited VFX budget. It’s a simple premise: Matt Damon, like many of his other films, is presumed dead, so his team leaves him behind on Mars. Then they spend a bunch of money to go back and get him. In the meantime, he has to “science the shit out of” everything in order to stay alive. Damon does a great job of keeping the plot light and funny while his team back on Earth is freaking out. It’s not as good as Gravity and, mercifully, about 1 percent as long as Interstellar. It’s also well worth your time.


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And, holy crap, look how amazing the UI is:

4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I’m just going to say it now: Star Wars: The Force Awakens is low on this list because it has no real tech angle. It’s not even sci-fi because it has no science. It’s just fantasy; a space opera made primarily for children. I saw and loved it, but let’s not kid ourselves. There’s no such thing as a podracer. The only scientific term, “parsec,” is once again mangled. JJ Abram’s insanely successful reboot earns the No. 4 spot because the technology of the future should include lightsabers, even if it probably won’t.

3. Steve Jobs

How does the old rhyme go? “First is the worst / No, wait, second is the worst / Who cares, the third is really great.”

Something like that. Anyway, this is a fantastically quick and surprisingly tense movie. It feels more like a play and less like a by-the-numbers biopic. We see Michael Fassbender, playing Jobs, doing a lot of frantic pacing and work/life juggling in three 30 minute acts. Each ends just before major Steve Jobs keynotes. It’s funny and packed with white-hot dialogue, and Kate Winslet delivers the most Oscar-worthy performance I saw all year.

It’s a shame this movie bombed.

2. Jurassic World

When I saw the first teaser for this movie back in 2014, I heard the plinking piano notes that open the greatest movie theme ever recorded and immediately got that little cry lump in the back of my throat. It made an unreal amount of money at the box office, and it ended up being pretty good. (SPOILER ALERT: Life finds a way.)

Aside from my emotional bias, I’m including Jurassic World in the “best” category for the extreme lengths the filmmakers went to make to make a theme park full of “open-source dinosaurs” feel convincing (or at least halfway plausible).

1. Ex Machina

Not only is this the best technology-centric film of 2015, it’s a strong contender for the best movie I saw all year.

Alex Garland directs a quiet, white-knuckle thriller about a tech CEO-turned-mad scientist playing god. Oscar Isaac, reminiscent of a weightlifting Sergey Brin, has perhaps cracked the key to true artificial intelligence, so he brings in a bright, unsuspecting employee to administer a completely unethical Turing test. A gorgeous and mind-bending story unfolds, quietly and delicately, like an origami dove that might accidentally destroy humankind. The claustrophobic story plays out in the antiseptic Norwegian hallways of this mad genius’ sprawling estate. It’s very Kubrick but also so refreshingly unique.

The first time I saw it, I left the theater unsure of what to say for about 15 minutes. The second time I saw it, I left the theater watching my friend have the same problem. The third time I saw it, it was still jarring and so unlike any other film I’ve ever seen.

I know that’s vague, it’s better that you know how great this movie is and almost nothing else.

The Worst

5. Blackhat

This movie was widely panned, and I’m inclined to agree.

Hackers praised the accuracy, but they still think Anonymous masks are ominous and cool. But do you know what isn’t accurate? The notion that the Adonis-like Chris Hemsworth could convincingly play a hacker. Get back to me after you deprive Hemsworth of Vitamin D and pump him full of Mountain Dew Code Red. (Which, come to think of it, is a decent title for a sequel.)

4. Tomorrowland

Director Brad Bird brings us another stunning visual feast, but it’s just so darn optimistic and wishy-washy that you can’t help but hate it.

It’s sweeping and whimsical and very long. The highwire swirl of comic book action feels kind of like 60 2-minute trailers for a way better movie that never materializes. Tomorrowland gives you plenty to look at, but leaves you with nothing to think about.

3. Vice

Maybe Bruce Willis had to pay some country club annual dues.

He stars in the film as a businessman who owns an exclusive island resort stocked with robots. His super-rich clients can “live our their wildest fantasies,” which are pretty much bad violence and sex, but – gasp – one of the robots becomes self-aware!

Maybe you’ll have a better time if you double-feature Ex Machina and then Vice. The Ex Machina plot seems so real and so frighteningly inevitable, this Bruce Willis stinker will help lull you back into a sense of security.

2. Chappie

I’ll probably get some heat for this one, but Chappie failed to deliver on the promise of its trailer. A robot with a “REJECT” sticker on his forehead makes friends with gangsters played by equally unsubtle people. Mix in a bunch of explosions and a police state. Nobody asked what would happen if Wall-E met Robocop in South Africa, but unfortunately, you can now find out for yourself.

If you Google “Chappie,” the first three results are links to pirated versions. The IMDB appears fourth. Somehow that should tell you all you need to know.

1. Self/less

The ability to download consciousness is the beginning of a rich premise (and maybe not that farfetched), but this movie sucks out all the depth. Director Tarsem Singh further muddies the water with a bunch of hallucinations and the result is a fast-paced movie that

Sir Ben Kingsley (really, dude?) is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he luckily finds the business card of a guy who can download Kingsley’s brain into a brand-new lab-grown body. That body is none other than Ryan Reynolds, which isn’t a bad start (Note to self: pitch Xzibit on Pimp My Lab-Grown Body).

Just because it’s Christmas and Christmas is when you tell the truth: I couldn’t finish it.

 

That’s all, folks. No more movies to talk about for 2015. Shut your computer and go talk to your family!










Hillary Clinton is a grandmother, but Twitter says she is #NotMyAbuela

U.S. presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton smiles at a Summit in Silicon Valley

On Monday, a blog post popped up on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign site.

7 things Hillary Clinton has in common with your abuela,” announced the headline.

It’s a tired recipe scraped from the bottom of Buzzfeed’s barrel listicle: a GIF, some sentence fragments in bold 72-point font, and a third-grade reading level. The point is as dumb as it is harmless: Hillary Clinton is nice. Hillary Clinton is a grandmother. Hillary Clinton is a nice grandmother to her nice grandchild and thinks it’s very nice that another grandchild is on the way.

This blog post could have flown under the radar if it weren’t for all the cringe-worthy Español forced in.

But we’re talking about Twitter here, the Internet’s grand blast furnace. Using a pointed hashtrag, Latino users began pointing out the many ways that Hillary Clinton is #NotMyAbuela.


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They range from touching to hilarious to third-degree-burn inducing:

 

 

In fairness to Hillary, pretty much everybody has been pandering for the Latino vote with varying degrees of success. Latinos are the largest minority group in the U.S. and have the numbers to tip the scale in the 2016 election.

But it’s not all bad. Hillary has accrued some serious endorsements from the Latino community. But this tweet sums it up nicely:










The Beatles confirm they will be available on 9 streaming services starting 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 24

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The Beatles have confirmed it: Their catalogue will be available to stream starting at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 24.

Fans will be available to find The Beatles on Spotify, Apple Music, Slacker, Deezer, Google Play, Tidal, Groove, Rhapsody, and Amazon Prime.

According to press release from Spotify, paid and unpaid users will be able to listen to the available albums:

Please Please Me

With The Beatles

A Hard Day’s Night

Beatles For Sale

Help!

Rubber Soul

Revolver

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Magical Mystery Tour

The Beatles

Yellow Submarine

Abbey Road

Let It Be

The Beatles 1962 – 1966

The Beatles 1967 – 1970

Past Masters (Volumes 1 & 2)

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On The Beatles website, you can follow the availability of the band on streaming services through a spinning planet that highlights when the catalogue goes live. The band is asking people to tweet with the hashtag: #thebeatlesstreaming

Despite an impressive pioneering streak for pretty much their entire career, the Beatles have always been slow to take up new tech. The Fab Four were a few years late to the CD boom of the 80s, releasing their catalog in 1987. They didn’t remaster those discs for more than two decades. Then there was The Beatles: Rock Band, which was a pretty bold experiment for the group (meaning “the weird corporate board-like entity made up of 2 members and a tangle of families that now controls “the group”). They were also about six years late to the iTunes Store, but still sold 2 million songs in their first week.

Now that downloads are the new dinosaurs (unless your name is Adele), the Beatles are just the latest ensigns to our Brave New World where all the world’s music is available to stream on demand (unless your name is Adele).

The Beatles are entering the streaming game with some significant numbers under their belt — they have sold an estimated 600 million albums, tapes, cassettes and downloads to date.

We’ll be keeping an eye on those streaming stats. Look for them to dominate Billboard’s On Demand Songs chart. Meanwhile Justin Bieber, the newly-minted champion of Spotify, might have his short streak broken.










Watch SpaceX attempt to launch its Falcon 9 rocket again


Elon Musk’s company SpaceX is attempting a launch of its updated Falcon 9 at 8:29 p.m. Eastern tonight. All the action is happening at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, but you can stream it right here:

SpaceX postponed Sunday’s launch of the upgraded Falcon 9 rocket, claiming that the maneuver would have a 10% better chance of success. The mission, rescheduled for tonight, is the first since SpaceX’s failed launch on June 28, when a previous Falcon 9 iteration failed while attempting to deliver cargo to the International Space Station.

A successful launch and re-landing could could give a much-needed lift to SpaceX, which has seen a rash of postponed and botched attempts. This particular success would be an early step towards the company’s larger ambition to slash launch costs with refurbished rockets. Here is the projected timeline:

SpaceX is hoping that the Falcon’s main rocket stage will make a successful touchdown in a designated landing zone a few miles away from the Cape Canaveral launch site.

This revamped Falcon 9 is carrying several communications satellites for ORBCOMM Inc., a company provides tracking services for shipping containers, oil and gas products, government vehicles, and heavy equipment. Last time SpaceX attempted a Falcon 9 launch, it was carrying 2 Microsoft Hololens sets among the 7,000 pounds of cargo.

SpaceX must be feeling the pressure tonight: Blue Origin, a rival startup founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, nailed their attempt last month.