The one thing the Star Wars prequel trilogy did very, very right


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The contrasts between the original Star Wars trilogy and its prequels were stark. Where Episodes IV to VI were told economically, the prequels felt bloated. Where the originals used practical effects, puppets, and people to build its galaxy, the prequels leaned on computer effects to make a universe that felt fake. Where A New Hope introduced characters we wanted to root for, The Phantom Menace featured a cast of punchable irritants, led by a character so annoying his name is shorthand for “the worst.”

But now, less than a hundred days from the premiere of The Force Awakens, fans are finally finding some parellels between the two Star Wars trilogies — particularly in the way they are shot, with the prequels echoing scenes first put on…

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Remembering the lost art of the graphics card box


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Modern gaming PCs and components look like sports cars designed by brutalist teenagers. Manufacturers mold them with sharp edges, blue lights, and red racing stripes to make them go faster. The results are huge, hulking edifices that sit in the corner of bedrooms, looking like the obelisk from 2001 if it was designed by a Stanley Kubrick who’d grown up watching the Fast & Furious movies and chugging energy drinks.

But compared to the aesthetics of the PC gaming past, these new creations are positively subtle. In the not so distant past, when computers were beige and monitors were fat, PC gamers had to make do with a different kind of design — that of the graphics card box. For roughly ten years, from the late ’90s until around 2010, the…

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Minecraft adds cross-platform play so Windows 10 players can build with mobile friends


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Almost a year to the day after it bought Minecraft makers Mojang, Microsoft is updating the Windows 10 and Pocket editions of the ultra-popular building game, adding the cross-platform support it previously promised, and inserting features that were previously missing from the mobile version. Players on PC, iOS, Windows Phone, and Android will now be able to build on the same server together, and people with the Pocket edition will now see enhanced weather effects, will be able to create new items, and will finally able to sprint around in the world they’ve shaped.

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Hear bad space-bat Oryx speak in new Destiny: The Taken King trailer


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We’re one week away from the launch of The Taken King, the third and largest expansion so far for multi-million dollar shooter Destiny, and the trailers are coming thick and fast. Although Bungie have been good about showing fans what to expect from The Taken King, holding lengthy livestream sessions to show off new levels, weapons, and playable classes, this latest clip features no actual in-game footage.

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The best grime diss track of the year is about Pokémon cards


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The UK grime scene has been an inspiration for some of North America’s biggest rappers. Drake and Kanye West have made a point of showing their appreciation for its MCs and the music they produce: the former is friend with grime fixture Skepta and brought him on stage during a London set earlier this year, while Kanye enlisted the help of some of the scene’s biggest names during a fiery performance at the Brit Awards. But although they might share a mutual appreciation, some grime MCs do things a little differently than their trans-Atlantic cousins. Where Drake responds to Meek Mill with a trio of carefully calibrated diss tracks that belittled his rap skills, his relationship, and his entire being, prolific British grime artist JME uses…

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This is how the Boba Fett Star Wars spin-off movie should look


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When Disney announced that it was planning to make a series of spin-off Star Wars “Anthology” movies, Boba Fett — the biggest and baddest bounty hunter in the galaxy — was reportedly set for a lead role in one of the first films off the production line. But then, just like it did above the gaping maw of the Sarlacc in Tatooine’s Dune Sea, it all went wrong for Fett. Director Josh Trank left the project earlier this year, leaving Boba’s biopic floating in space, waiting for someone to kickstart the engines and take the helm.

Eric Demeusy could be that person. The filmmaker has produced a Fett fan film, a 90-second trailer that shows how stylish the spin-off movie could be. In the clip, Fett has escaped from the horrible sphincter-mouth…

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T-Mobile CEO John Legere turns Verizon’s new logo against itself


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Today’s Verizon logo change might be less of a big deal than Google’s was earlier this week, but if there’s one person who’s going to have reliably strong opinions about minor tweaks to carrier branding, it’s T-Mobile boss John Legere. And Legere didn’t disappoint. A few hours after Verizon officially updated its logo, Legere had already appropriated its new pink-tinged checkmark to point out what, in his eyes, his company’s competitor does wrong.

“Screws over customers,” “keeps all your unused data,” and “no early upgrade options” are among a series of complaints Legere laid out today in an image he posted on Twitter, each drawn up to borrow the font and the tick from Verizon’s new logo. Each of Legere’s points conveniently ties into…

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Now you can ask Cortana to translate words and phrases for you in Windows 10


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Microsoft Translator has already been incorporated into Skype, allowing for real-time translation into French, Mandarin, and four other languages. Now it’s also been integrated with Cortana, Microsoft’s personal digital assistant, on Windows 10. Users of Microsoft’s new operating system will now be able to translate words, phrases, and sentences into almost 40 languages from the desktop.

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CBS will stream two regular season NFL games for free this year


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CBS has announced that it will livestream two upcoming regular season NFL games for the first time in 2015, for free and without the need for authentication, a subscription, or a cable provider. The move expands CBS’ online coverage of the sport, as the network will also stream four playoff games and the Super Bowl itself, live on its website, and on devices including Xbox One, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku players.

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Sony’s next big PS4 update adds YouTube streaming and increases cloud storage


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Sony’s next PlayStation 4 system update will bring increased cloud storage, the ability to stream game footage live on YouTube, a new hub for in-game events, and a host of other upgrades. The version 3.00 update — one of the biggest in the console’s lifespan — was detailed on Sony’s PlayStation blog today.

Core among the new features is the increase in online storage capacity, bumped from the current 1 GB to 10 GB as standard for all players when the update rolls out. The PS4 uses this cloud storage for save files, but at present, it quickly fills up. In addition to increasing the capacity, the update will also add a meter that allows users to monitor their online storage, making it easier to check when you’re about to run out of space…

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Grand Theft Auto 5 modders add Star Wars speeders and Star Destroyers


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Superimposing Star Wars‘ biggest spaceships over cities is apparently a hot new trend. First we saw Darth Vader’s Super Star Destroyer Executor hanging over real-world Manhattan, now, thanks to a mod for the PC version of Grand Theft Auto 5, you can fly another Imperial capital ship over the game’s Los Angeles analog, Los Santos. The mod changes GTA 5‘s blimp, re-skinning it to appear as a classic Imperial Star Destroyer — the same ship that chases Princess Leia’s Tantive IV in the opening shot of Star Wars: A New Hope.

Modders have also inserted landspeeders into the game

That’s not the only way you can Star Wars-ify the latest Grand Theft Auto. Industrious modders have also inserted a set of landspeeders into the game, tweaking the…

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Halo 5’s intro looks like a Linkin Park video from 2002


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Halo 5 isn’t out until late October, but as one of the biggest video game franchises on the planet, it has to keep fans happy. That presumably explains why Microsoft decided to release the introductory cinematic for the Xbox One exclusive in early September, a slick three-and-a-half minute cut-scene that tracks Mike Colter’s Spartan Locke and a CGI version of Nathan Fillion with a strangely shiny face as they leap out of a spaceship and battle through a vanguard of covenant forces. The action is fast, fluid, and not at all indicative of what you’ll be doing in the actual game, but particularly striking is how much it resembles the video for Linkin Park’s song “Pts.OF.Athrty.”

There’s the same golden sunset, the same snowy setting, and…

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Qualcomm’s new mobile chip will learn how to identify malicious apps


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In recent months it seems like machine learning has been primarily used to make nightmarish eye-riddled hellscapes and misidentify Star Trek planets as waffle irons. But we’re not just teaching machines to identify patterns for our own amusement — they could make also make our lives easier. Qualcomm’s new Smart Protect technology could be one such example. The chip maker today detailed the new feature, available on its upcoming Snapdragon 820 processor: a hardware-based anti-malware solution that Qualcomm says will monitor the behavior of apps on a device, detecting and classifying any that are deemed suspicious or anomalous.

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Apple is reportedly planning to make its own movies and TV shows


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Apple is in talks as part of a possible move into producing its own original programming, Variety reports. According to the publication, the company is looking to start hiring for a new development and production division in the next few months that would go into operation next year, producing content to rival streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. It’s not clear whether this new division would produce TV shows, movies, or both, but a unit within the Apple has reportedly already entered discussions with Hollywood executives, reporting back to Eddy Cue.

Variety says that Apple’s plans are in the early stages, but that the company has increased its interest in producing its own TV shows or movies in recent months. The…

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Three Sony Xperia Z5 models appear in leaked video interview


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By now, you should have a pretty good idea of what Sony’s next smartphones will look like, after photos leaked last week allegedly showed three variants of Sony’s Xperia Z5 — the standard Z5, the Z5 Compact, and the Z5 Premium. But just in case you weren’t sure, a new video has appeared online that appears to show the three phones in action. In an interview with a French journalist, Sony Mobile Communications’ director of marketing, Olivier Terme, uses handsets that he identifies as Z5 models, describing features that last week’s leaks indicated the smartphones would have.

The interview appears to confirm that all three Z5 phones will all feature a 23-megapixel camera, fingerprint sensors on the side, and a dust- and water-proof design….

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The LG Watch Urbane Luxe is a 23-karat gold smartwatch for $1,200


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The LG Watch Urbane‘s vanilla model was already huge, but for people who want their Android Wear smartwatch to be really eye-catching, the company is now offering a limited-edition 23-karat gold version for the low low price of $1,200. The LG Watch Urbane Luxe offers exactly the same technical specs as the regular Urbane, released earlier this year, but attempts to justify its pricetag with a gold body, a strap made of alligator leather, and an “exclusive” shiny lacquer case.

“Wearable devices shouldn’t be thought of as an extension of one’s smartphone but an extension of oneself,” says LG’s Chris Yie, apparently indicating that the only people who’d buy the Urbane Luxe are coated in gold and clad in alligator skin. Certainly, if you do…

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Hulu is picking up the big movies Netflix is losing this month


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Netflix ended its deal with entertainment network Epix today, a change that will soon take a raft of big-name movies — including The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and World War Z — off the streaming service. But those movies won’t be homeless for long. A few hours after Epix parted ways with Netflix, the network announced a new deal with Hulu, an extensive multi-year agreement that will bring new movies from Lionsgate, MGM, and Paramount to the Netflix rival.

Epix movies will begin to appear on Hulu from October 1st. At launch, Hulu says it will feature a set of eye-catching blockbusters, including Star Trek: Into DarknessWolf of Wall Street, and Anchorman 2, with more movies appearing through each year of the deal. The move also makes…

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Xbox boss dismisses rumors of an Xbox One Mini


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Earlier this month, it was rumored that in addition to revealing new tablets, fitness bands, and smartphones, Microsoft would use its upcoming October launch event to show off a slimmer Xbox One. But Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s head of Xbox, shot those rumors down last night, using Twitter to say that the rumored smaller version of the console is “not real.”

Sources familiar with Microsoft’s October plans told The Verge last week that the company is planning to use the event to lift the lid on two new Lumia handsets, the Surface Pro 4, and a Microsoft Band 2. Chinese tech site WPDang had claimed that the so-called Xbox One Mini would drop the ability to play Blu-rays, and would be both quieter and smaller than the current model, weighing…

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Star Wars radio dramatizations resurface in the latest Humble Bundle


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In case the slew of Star Wars books, comics, video games, and toys on the horizon won’t fulfil your appetite for things from a galaxy far far away, the newest Humble Bundle offers a way to hear Star Wars as you probably haven’t before. The pay-what-you-want deal is offering the radio dramatization of Episode IV, along with audiobook retellings of some of the more successful expanded universe comics, for a few cents. Pay more than the average donation price and you’ll also get the radio dramatization of The Empire Strikes Back. Increase that spend a little further, to $15, and you’ll get radio Return of the Jedi too.

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Game of War executive arrested for allegedly stealing trade secrets


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An employee of Machine Zone, the developer of hugely popular mobile app Game of War: Fire Age, has been arrested after allegedly stealing trade secrets from the company. The Wall Street Journal reports that Jing Zeng, who worked as the firm’s director of global infrastructure, was intercepted by FBI agents as he tried to board a plane to Beijing. A federal criminal complaint alleges that Zeng was trying to make off with information on the behavior of the game’s millions of users, stolen from one of Machine Zone’s internal databases.

Zeng joined Machine Zone in 2014, but reportedly became unhappy in his position by spring, and asked to change teams. His request was denied and his superiors asked him to leave the company, at which point…

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