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05.19.16 | 11:07 am

EBay launching VR department store Down Under

File this under Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should: eBay has launched what it calls the world's first virtual reality department store.

According to Upload VR, the e-commerce giant has teamed with Myer, Australia's largest department store chain, to offer VR shopping. Available only Down Under, the experience requires an iOS or Android app and a Google Cardboard. The question is: Why do we need to buy things in VR? It doesn't mean we shouldn't, but before it's compelling, it must be a better experience than normal online shopping.

Amazon is also thought to be working on VR, though its interest is more likely tied to producing its own entertainment experiences. 

06.26.17 | 28 minutes ago

The Super NES Classic will include an ill-fated 1990s game that never made it to market

Nintendo is releasing another retro console this fall, with one killer hook for classic game aficionados: Among the Super NES Classic's 21 pre-loaded games is Star Fox 2, which Nintendo canceled toward the end of development more than 20 years ago. (The company reportedly wanted to avoid unfavorable 3D graphics comparisons between the Super Nintendo and newer consoles like the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn, and eventually released a slicker Star Fox on the Nintendo 64.)

Nintendo plans to launch the Super NES Classic on September 29 for $80, though it's unclear if the company will produce enough of them this time around. With last year's NES Classic, Nintendo didn't seem to anticipate the demand for video game nostalgia, and ended production after an all-too limited run. It'd be a shame if the only way to play Star Fox 2 faced a similar fate.

06.26.17 | an hour ago

Here are some MIT drones that can fly and drive to get you through your Monday

Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab have created a new prototype drone that can both fly and drive, and will undoubtedly rule the earth—or at least make sure your copy of Rise of the Robots is delivered from Amazon in a timely fashion.

The engineers were inspired by birds and bugs that can both walk and fly, TechCrunch reports. The eight quadcopter drones can currently only drive for up to 252 meters (275 yards) or fly for 90 meters (98 feet), so they still have a way to go, but it's a pretty cool and/or frightening feature depending on how you feel about these things. The new drones are designed to assess both air and car traffic and decide whether it is faster to drive or fly, which could be a hint of how flying cars could work in the future. Frankly, though, they should have just modified duck boats, so they could drive and sail and fly.

06.26.17 | an hour ago

Study: More boomers, senior citizens, and even Republicans are coming around to gay marriage

A new study from the Pew Research Center shows that support for same-sex marriage is at its highest point in over 20 years. While the traditional gift is cotton, the study is an apt way to mark the second anniversary of the Supreme Court's 2015 landmark decision Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same sex marriage.

The study shows that by a margin of nearly two-to-one (62% to 32%), more Americans now say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry than say they are opposed to it. Young people are the most supportive (cue up Whitney Houston singing, "I believe the children are the future…") with 76% of millennials and 65% of Gen Xers saying they support same-sex marriage. However, baby boomers are slowly getting on board, too, with 56% of them now favoring same-sex marriage, while 39% are opposed. Even senior citizens are realizing same-sex marriage won't trigger an angina attack, with support nearly doubling among members since 2007.

Support for allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally has steadily risen across racial and ethnic groups and even *gasp* Republicans. According to Pew, 47% of Republicans and independents who lean Republican now favor same-sex marriage, with 48% opposing it. (Yep, based on this study, a majority of Republicans no longer oppose same sex marriage.) As recently as 2013, Republicans opposed gay marriage by nearly two-to-one (61% to 33%). Guess two years after the fact, they realized that letting people marry whomever they want regardless of gender didn't trigger the apocalypse as written in the book of Revelations and/or The Hunger Games.

[Photo: Unsplash user Peter Hershey]

06.26.17 | 2 hours ago

Just in time for the Fourth of July, Trump’s travel ban gets a second chance

The Supreme Court has decided that it will look into whether Donald Trump's proposed travel rules—which would bar people from six predominately Muslim countries from traveling to the U.S.—is constitutional. The court, however, won't hear the case until this fall and has decided that parts of the ban can go into effect until then. 

The ruling goes against two other federal court judges who ruled that it should be put on hold until its constitutionality is decided. SCOTUS said the ban can't be enforced for people who have relatives in the United States, reports NBC News, but it can be enforced for refugees and those with no ties. 


06.26.17 | 3 hours ago

SCOTUS will weigh in on that baker who refused to make a cake for a gay wedding

The Supreme Court on Monday said it will weigh in on whether a Denver baker unlawfully discriminated against a gay couple by refusing to bake them a wedding cake. Back in 2012, David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Jack Phillips's Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver to order a cake for their upcoming wedding reception, the AP reports. The couple planned to marry in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage was legal at the time, and then hold a reception in Colorado. Phillips refused to take their order, on the grounds that his religious beliefs barred him from baking a cake for a same-sex marriage

Mullins and Craig filed a complaint, and in 2014, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission determined that Phillips's action violated state law. That ruling was upheld in Colorado state courts, on the grounds that Phillips violated Colorado's public accommodations law, which prohibits refusing service to customers based on factors such as race, sex, marital status, or sexual orientation. As similar cases pop up around the country, the Supreme Court has decided to enter the fray. While equal rights activists say the landmark 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges should have settled the issue, the recent addition of Neil Gorsuch to the court may change things.

[Photo: Unsplash user Brooke Lark]

06.26.17 | 4 hours ago

Watch J.K. Rowling’s 20th-anniversary Harry Potter tweet spread around the world

You already know this, but everyone's favorite boy wizard isn't a boy anymore. Harry Potter's 20th anniversary is today, and to mark the occasion, J.K. Rowling, an author who never has to work again in her life, tweeted her thanks to Potter fans around the world—and they listened. Social analytics platform Talkwalker tweeted back with an animated graphic showing how Rowling's tweet spread throughout the world over the first few hours. Check it out below. It's, um, spellbinding.

06.26.17 | 9:11 am

Report: The owner of the National Enquirer is eyeing Time Inc.

[Photo: Nick Hillier]

The New Yorker just came out with its profile of David Pecker, the man at the helm of the National Enquirer's parent company, American Media Inc. There's a lot to digest from the very long read, but one thing has stuck out to many: The media mogul is reportedly considering buying Time Inc.

The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin writes:

Pecker is now considering expanding his business: he may bid to take over the financially strapped magazines of Time, Inc., which include Time, People, and Fortune. Based on his stewardship of his own publications, Pecker would almost certainly direct those magazines, and the journalists who work for them, to advance the interests of the President and to damage those of his opponents.

Politico reported Pecker's interest in the media company a few months back. Of course, as this is the media business, nothing is certain. Still, we may be seeing a more Trump-friendly magazine rack soon.

Meanwhile, Time Inc. is trying to stay afloat whether or not Pecker buys it: Today it announced a licensing deal with Barclays that would index the Fortune 500. This comes just a few weeks after Time Inc. announced a series of sweeping layoffs

06.26.17 | 8:00 am

This will make you understand why you click on certain headlines and not others

Researchers at BuzzSumo analyzed over 100 million headline phrases that resulted in the most engagement from users on social media. They found that certain three-word phrases, or trigrams, that were included in headlines garnered more engagement from users in the forms of likes, shares, and comments. By far, headlines with the phrase "will make you" got the most engagement on Facebook. That was followed by headlines with "this is why" and "can we guess" phrases in them. The worst performing headlines included the phrase "simple way to" followed by "that actually work" and "don't forget to."

06.26.17 | 5:34 am

Check out SpaceX’s Iridium 2 launch

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched on Sunday, June 25, at 1:25 p.m. PDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California carrying a payload of 10 communication satellites to low-Earth orbit. After delivering its payload, the Falcon 9 rocket then returned to Earth and successfully landed on SpaceX's droneship in the Pacific Ocean. You can check out the Iridium 2 mission launch, payload delivery, and landing all in the video below. SpaceX has also posted some cool shots of the launch on their Flickr page.

06.26.17 | 5:21 am

Now Facebook is getting into original TV programming

The social media giant has told Hollywood studios it is looking for original scripted and unscripted TV content as it prepares to get into the original programming game, reports the Wall Street Journal. Facebook is reportedly willing to spend as much as $3 million per episode for production budgets, which is how much most high-end cable-TV shows cost. The company is also seeking moderate-cost scripted shows with budgets in the six-figures per episode as well as picking up "distressed assets," or shows the networks are looking to cancel.

Facebook is reportedly eyeing a late summer launch for some of its original programming, but that date isn't set in stone. The company is just the latest tech giant looking to get into the original programming game. When its original content does launch, it will join the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and Apple, which are already streaming original programming. 

06.26.17 | 12:00 am

Pandora’s Tim Westergren is the latest CEO to step down

Well, that didn't last long. Fifteen months after taking over as CEO, Pandora cofounder Tim Westergren is reportedly stepping down. The company hasn't said anything about a potential replacement. 

The news comes amid a lot of change and challenges at the 15-year-old music company. Westergren, who took over somewhat suddenly for previous CEO Brian McAndrews last year, oversaw the final stages of the launch of Pandora Premium, its paid music subscription service. The new offering was built from the remains of Rdio, one of three companies it acquired in late 2015 as the company attempted to expand into subscriptions, live event ticketing, and music analytics. Another of those acquisitions, TicketFly was just sold to Eventbrite for $200 million. At the same time, Pandora got a $480 million investment from SiriusXM, a company that many people expected to acquire Pandora. 

Last month, news broke of an executive departure at one of Pandora's main rivals when Tidal CEO Jeff Toig left the company, its third chief executive in two years.

06.25.17 | 11:43 pm

Update: Binary Capital’s Justin Caldbeck resigns in wake of sexual harassment allegations

The venture capital firm's cofounding partner took a leave of absence on Friday after several female entrepreneurs accused him of sexual harassment. On Sunday, Caldbeck went a step further and resigned, according to an email obtained by Axios's Dan Primack that cofounder Jonathan Teo had sent to Binary Capital's limited partners. In the email, Teo also noted that partner Matt Mazzeo had also left the firm and that Binary Capital had hired lawyers from white-shoe law firm Gibson Dunn to "conduct an independent internal investigation of this matter."

Here is the beginning of the email:

I trusted my partner and it is clear that I shouldn't have. The predatory behavior Justin has been accused of is deplorable, and there will be zero tolerance at our firm of any conduct that is demeaning to women.
Effective immediately, Justin has resigned from Binary Capital. He will have no further role at the firm and I will be the sole managing partner . . . 

Read the full story here.