The larger-than-life huckster dialogue of Stan Lee

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“Let the Vapors of the Vishanti drive you from the sight of man! Let the mystic Hosts of Hoggoth prevent you from ever returning again!”

You may not have read those immortal lines before, but superhero comics fans can probably instantly identify the author. Stan Lee, who died yesterday at age 95, wrote like no one before him — or, in spite of his massive influence, anyone since.

Though he initially became famous as a comics writer, Lee’s writing is perhaps the least-celebrated aspect of his career and legacy. He’s mostly known as the co-creator of hugely successful characters like Spider-Man, the Hulk, Thor, and the Fantastic Four, even though he probably had less input into them than his collaborating artists, Steve Ditko and Jack...

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Apple is now selling refurbished HomePods, but Black Friday deals are cheaper

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Apple has added refurbished HomePods for the first time to its online store, where they’re selling for $50 less than the original price, via MacRumors. Both the white and space gray versions are selling for $299, but you’re better off looking elsewhere — Best Buy’s Black Friday deals show new HomePods selling for even cheaper, at $250.

The HomePod normally costs $349, which is pretty high for a wireless smart speaker that requires you to be locked into Apple products. If you’re undeterred by this and more in it for the superb audio quality, getting the discounted, refurbished product through Apple’s online store might be the smarter choice once Black Friday deals disappear.

Apple’s refurbished products go through a rigorous testing and...

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One of Europe’s biggest carriers is bringing 5G service to 16 UK cities next year

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The United Kingdom’s biggest cell carrier, EE, announced plans today to launch proper 5G mobile service throughout parts of the region, with a 16-city rollout planned for 2019. The first phase of the rollout will begin with capital cities across the UK, including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and London. Two other England cities, Birmingham and Manchester, are also included in phase one, which is scheduled for sometime next year.

EE is focusing its efforts on high-volume centers in those first six cities, including Hyde Park in London, the Manchester and Belfast airports, Edinburgh’s Waverley train station, the Welsh Assembly, and Birmingham’s Bullring shopping center. EE joins other European carriers, like Vodafone and Three UK, with...

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Juul cuts flavored nicotine supply to stores and shutters its social media

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E-cigarette company Juul Labs will stop supplying over 90,000 brick-and-mortar stores with its fruity and dessert-flavored pods, the company announced today. It’s also quitting Facebook and Instagram in an effort to dampen the popular vape’s appeal to underage consumers. The announcement follows rumors from last week that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will soon announce a flavor ban to combat youth vaping.

E-cigarettes are teens’ favorite way to get nicotine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And the number of teenage vapers is rising: at an event hosted by The Washington Post today, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb teased research that’s due to be announced this week that he says shows that high...

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Google’s G Suite Twitter account is the latest to get hacked in bitcoin scam

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Google’s official G Suite Twitter account is the latest victim of an ongoing bitcoin scam that has been plaguing the social media platform for the last few weeks, joining companies like Target (which saw a similar hack this morning), via The Next Web.

G Suite might be the highest-profile target of the scam yet, which saw fake, promoted tweets that appeared to originate from the G Suite account pop up in users’ timelines this afternoon, directing them toward a scammy bitcoin address as part of a “giveaway.”

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Faraday Future: the rise and fall of the electric car startup

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Following the EV company’s best and worst moments, from its 2015 debut to its most recent struggles
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One of YouTube’s biggest creators is taking a burnout break

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Lilly Singh, one of YouTube’s most successful creators, is taking a break from the platform. In a recent video, Singh — also known as IISuperwomanII — explains that she is “mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted,” and she plans to take time away in order to recoup her creative energy.

For eight years, Singh has consistently released videos and daily vlogs on YouTube. She currently has more than 16 million subscribers between her channels, and she is considered one of the highest-earning YouTubers. But success does not equal well-being, and Singh says she could be mentally healthier. “I’ve enjoyed it,” she says of YouTube. “I love it. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it has been a lot.”

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Essential shows signs of life with launch of $149 headphone dongle

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Essential isn’t dead, not yet at least. The handset maker from Android co-founder Andy Rubin, who’s now at the center of an explosive controversy over the mishandling of sexual harassment claims at Google that prompted a worldwide employee walkout, has quietly released its next product. It’s the $149 magnetic headphone jack adapter Essential promised way back in September 2017. The company first announced in June that the accessory would start shipping in the summer, but it apparently missed that deadline.

The product is officially called the Audio Adapter HD, and it’s quite pricey at $149, which is about 30 percent of the cost of the phone itself — not counting the heavy discounts you can get at Amazon, Best Buy, and other retailers....

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AI software helped NASA dream up this spider-like interplanetary lander

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Using an AI design process, engineers at software company Autodesk and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory came up with a new interplanetary lander concept that could explore distant moons like Europa and Enceladus. Its slim design weighs less than most of the landers that NASA has already sent to other planets and moons.

Autodesk announced its new innovative lander design today at the company’s conference in Las Vegas — revealing a spacecraft that looks like a spider woven from metal. The company says the idea to create the vehicle was sparked when Autodesk approached NASA to validate a lander prototype it had been working on. After looking at Autodesk’s work, JPL and the company decided to form a design team — comprised of five engineers...

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GameStop’s pre-Black Friday deals discount games, PS4 and Xbox One consoles, and accessories

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It always pays to find a good deal on video games, consoles, and accessories, especially on newer titles and hardware. This year, GameStop has the usual round of deals on controllers and some slightly older titles, but there’s also some standout deals, like a sharp discount on Forza Horizon 4 and other recent games, deals on Xbox One X and One S bundles, as well as a deal on a new PS4 Slim bundled with Spider-Man.

All of these deals start on November 18th, a few days before most Black Friday specials begin, and GameStop claims to have more discounts as the week proceeds, so be sure to check back to The Verge.

Games

Starting November 18th:

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Lime to expand from scooters to shared cars in Seattle

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Lime already has its shared bicycle and scooter fleets in cities around the country, but it’s not stopping there: starting this week, the company is rolling out a fleet of shared Lime cars in Seattle as part of its new “LimePod” service, with a goal of having 1,500 cars in the city by early next year, via Bloomberg.

Lime is starting off a little smaller, at least at the beginning, with just 50 cars hitting the streets of Seattle this week. However, the company is planning to continue to expand things weekly, aiming toward having 500 cars available by the end of the year. Similar to the scooters and bikes, LimePod users will be able to pay $1 to unlock a car, and then 40 cents per minute of use on top of that for driving around. For the...

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These antique Alexaphones won’t spy on your conversations

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I’ve never felt the need to own an Amazon Echo device, partly because I feel like I can Google things faster than a voice assistant can understand me, but mostly because of that one time a bunch of Alexa devices all decided to creepily laugh at their owners, unprompted. But then I saw these antique phones modified with Alexa functionality, which only listen to you when the handset is off the receiver, and it made perfect sense. It’s no longer a hands-free voice assistant by any means, but all these privacy violations have taught us that when the future feels too overwhelming, it’s best to take a few steps back by a few decades.

Christine Sunu and Dick Whitney of Grain Design has created three different models: the Regent, a Belgian model...

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Google’s new web app lets you ‘Squoosh’ images down to smaller file sizes

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Nicely displaying high-quality images without sacrificing load time can be a constant dilemma. Now, an experimental web app from Google called “Squoosh” offers a quick and easy way to get the best of both worlds, via 9to5Google.

It’s a pretty simple app to use: you can drag and drop an image of your choosing into the tool, at which point, you can pick from compression standards including MozJPEG, OptiPNG, and Google’s own WebP. A small slider lets you quickly adjust the level of compression, and you’ll also see a running total of how large the resulting file is expected to be. A second slider can be pulled across the image to let you easily see the effects of the compression. There are more advanced options available, but we were able...

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Microsoft re-releases Windows 10 October 2018 Update today after pulling it offline

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Microsoft is releasing its Windows 10 October 2018 Update again today, after bugs forced the company to pull it offline last month. A number of Windows 10 users reported missing files after the update was released in early October. While Microsoft did re-release the update to beta testers, it has taken the company more than a month to fully test it and release it more generally today.

“In addition to extensive internal validation, we have taken time to closely monitor feedback and diagnostic data from our Windows Insiders and from the millions of devices on the Windows 10 October Update, and we have no further evidence of data loss,” explains Microsoft’s John Cable, director of program management for Windows servicing and delivery.

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Microsoft to focus on Windows 10 quality after a buggy year

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Microsoft hasn’t had a great time with Windows 10 in 2018. Earlier this year Microsoft delayed its April 2018 Windows 10 update due to last minute Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) issues, and then had to fix desktop and Chrome freezing issues after it shipped to more than 600 million devices. Just last month, Microsoft released its October 2018 Update and was forced to pull it offline after a few days of some users complaining that files were being deleted.

If those incidents weren’t bad enough, last week an engineer mistakenly made a licensing server change that meant lots of Windows 10 Pro machines were suddenly deactivated. It’s been a messy 2018.

I wrote last month that M...

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Top YouTube creators call out defunct Defy Media for shady practices

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YouTube creators like Shane Dawson, Ryland Adams, and Smosh co-founder Anthony Padilla have called out digital network Defy Media following its closure for a series of concerning business practices.

Defy Media was the parent company of some of YouTube’s most popular channels, including Smosh, Smosh Games, and Clevver. The network announced last week that it was shutting down operations immediately, leaving teams at Smosh and Clevver looking for a new parent company to back their talent team and production costs. Now, in wake of the news, several creators who worked with Defy Media and Defy Media’s multichannel network (MCN) are expressing their own grievances with Defy Media’s predatory practices and lack of professionalism.

Adams, a...

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How Amazon landed up to $2 billion in subsidies for its new headquarters

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Amazon has just announced the sites for its HQ2. Soon, the company will be expanding into Long Island City, Queens, and Crystal City, in Arlington, Virginia. The expansion, the retail giant says, will bring 25,000 employees to each of the areas, and the company said it would invest $5 billion in the offices. Already, the announcement is raising questions about what the deal will mean for the cities, the scope of the agreement, and how Amazon conducted the search in the first place. With more than $2 billion in potential subsidies available across the three sites, the secretive and dramatic search seems to have paid off.

The incentives the company will receive as part of the deals are already eye-popping: Amazon announced that, in New...

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Google is absorbing DeepMind’s health care unit to create an ‘AI assistant for nurses and doctors’

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As part of an ongoing reorganization of its health care efforts, Google has announced that it’s absorbing DeepMind Health, a part of its London-based AI lab DeepMind.

In a blog post, DeepMind’s founders said it was a “major milestone” for the company that would help turn its Streams app — which it developed to help the UK’s National Health Service (NHS)— into “an AI-powered assistant for nurses and doctors” that combines “the best algorithms with intuitive design.” Currently, the Streams app is being piloted in the UK as a way to help health care practitioners manage patients.

DeepMind says its Streams team will remain in London and that it’s committed to carrying out ongoing work with the NHS. These include a number of ambitious...

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Project Fi promises privacy with Google-run VPN

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Internet providers and wireless carriers, by necessity, can see the traffic coming and going to your phone. Some companies have better privacy policies than others, but Google’s Project Fi can’t make a blanket policy — that’s because the carrier doesn’t control its own network, and instead piggybacks off of companies like T-Mobile and Sprint.

To solve that, Project Fi is launching a new option today that allows subscribers to route all of their traffic through a Google-run VPN. That means all traffic will be encrypted as it goes out and returns to your phone, so T-Mobile and Sprint won’t be able to see what you’re up to.

But your traffic will be going to Google’s servers, so Google will be able to see what you’re visiting. In a blog...

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Moment debuts new 58mm telephoto lens for smartphone cameras

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Moment is announcing a refreshed telephoto lens for $99, designed to take better photos on the iPhone XS, XR, and Pixel 3. You can also attach the 58mm zoom lens to any Galaxy, iPhone, or Pixel phone to get those up-close results.

The phone photography company has some of the best mobile lenses you can find, and are releasing this new lens as a follow-up to their first tele lens. The new lens’s benefits include a sharper, brighter image with 2x zoom (100mm zoom lens equivalent) and 4x zoom modes (200mm zoom lens equivalent ) within the Moment camera app, despite the shorter 58mm focal length compared to 60mm on the original tele lens. Also, there’s been a $10 price increase over the last-gen lens.

This telephoto lens is also designed...

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