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XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Android gamers who've been yearning for XCOM's deep, turn-based tactics just got their wish: 2K has released a version of XCOM: Enemy Unknown for Google's mobile platform. Much like last year's iOS edition, you'll get to fight off invading aliens and build your bases in an interface optimized for touch. This is one of the pricier Android games on the market at $10, but our pals at Joystiq are already fans of the mobile version. It's likely worth the cash if you're looking for something engrossing to play on your spring vacation -- especially if you can't get enough of it on your PC or console.

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Facebook may already be tracking your usage to serve you ads, but how would you feel if it was able to log your movement? That's exactly what could be on the cards after the company confirmed it's bought Moves, the fitness-tracking app that records your daily activities using your smartphone. Moves' mission? It says it's joining Facebook to "work on building and improving their products and services with a shared mission of supporting simple, efficient tools for more than a billion people." Zuckerberg and co. intend to keep the iOS and Android apps independent, and the Moves team says there are currently no plans to "commingle data with Facebook." The social network employs a similar policy with Instagram and Whatsapp, which is no surprise given their huge user numbers and combined $20 billion price tag.

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Be honest, don't you kinda wish we could just rub our collective eyes and all this Heartbleed business would just disappear? Tough luck hombre, it's still here, and some kid's trying to steal your vacation photos (probably). When we spoke to the open source initiative about it recently, we got a less than reassuring reply -- that the problem is partly about resources. What is more reassuring this this: The Core Infrastructure Initiative. If that sounds like a conference you'd pay money to not attend, we're with you, but trust us, it's for your benefit. In short, some of the biggest names in tech (Facebook, Google, Amazon, Intel and many more) have pledged to work with the Linux Foundation to make sure something like Heartbleed doesn't happen again. How? Mostly with cold hard cash, with each of the 13 company's involved chipping in to the "multi-million" dollar project. But how's it actually going to work?

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Despite how far we've come with technology, malaria is still a serious threat for huge chunks of the developing world. A prototype tool from UK-outfit QuantuMDx, however, could help stave off mosquito-related deaths by giving health-workers the power to diagnose the disease in 10 - 15 minutes. As the team tells it, typical DNA sequencing can take days, weeks or even months, but its "lab on a chip" can rapidly diagnose a disease and accurately predict which drug and what dosage to administer -- all based on the virus' genetic code. That last bit is key because malaria has a nasty habit of being resistant to medications.

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It's always sad when a company stumbles during its victory lap, but as Sony looked to gracefully exit the PC business, some spontaneously combusting laptops ruined the day. The company has now issued an update about the Vaio Fit 11A repair program, saying that reservations are now being taken and that battery replacements will begin part-way through next month. Until then, Sony's line remains not to touch your device, and we add that you should probably shouldn't store it next to those cans of gasoline in your office.

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Cochlear implants already help those with auditory damage to hear better, but what if they could also grow new nerves while they're there? Scientists at the UNSW have discovered a way to do just that, at least in hamsters. After they introduced a gene therapy solution, a modified cochlear implant used electrical pulses to deliver the treatment directly to auditory nerve cells. That successfully re-generated so-called neurotrophins in the animals, which in turn aided nerve development and significantly improved the implant's effect. Such therapy could one day help the hearing-impaired to pick up sounds better, especially the subtle tones in music. There's a long ways to go prior to human trials, however, since it was only effective in the hamsters for a short time. But it could one day be included as part of cochlear implant therapy and even help other nerve-related conditions, like Parkinson's disease or depression.

[Image credit: UNSW Translational Neuroscience Facility]

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When you hear a scandalous conversation, there's always the temptation to live tweet it for the internet's benefit -- but what if your furniture could do that for you? Conversnitch is a project by artists Brian House and Kyle McDonald which reinvents the humble lightbulb as an internet-connected surveillance microphone. Running off a Raspberry Pi, the hardware records conversations in real time and pushes them to Amazon's Mechanical Turk, where the chatter is transcribed for the project's Twitter feed. The idea is to generate some alarm about our surveillance-heavy culture, since the bulbs have already been quietly installed in public spaces across New York -- although we guess the pair still have a long way to go before they can out-do the folks over at Fort Meade.

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Rediscovered artwork like a napkin Picasso or unearthed Matisse can be identified on sight, but pieces crafted in the digital age by pop-artist extraordinaire Andy Warhol and encoded in an outdated format are far more difficult to ascertain. In fact, it took the retro know-how of Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Club and a team of artists, archivists and curators to wrangle some of Warhol's lost pixels into the physical world.

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When we got our hands on Exetech's XS-3, we were intrigued by the idea of cramming a smartphone into a watch, but dismayed at the execution. After all, this was a device that was in no way waterproof, had a 420mAh battery pressing directly onto your skin and wouldn't even last half a day on a charge. Having sold 800 out of a production run of 1,500, the company found that customers loved the technical accomplishments, but griped about the build quality.

That's why Exetech is asking for a do-over when it comes to the XS-4.

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Hep Taxi !

While taxi services like Uber may be flat-out unwelcome in Belgium, neighboring France is still trying to figure out how to manage them. Under pressure from traditional cab drivers in the country, a new law was introduced that required the likes of Uber, LeCab and SnapCar to wait 15 minutes before picking people up, giving normal cabs a better shot at landing the business. It didn't survive very long, not that it did much to calm some old-school cabbies anyway. Now, a new report, due to be presented to the French Prime Minister today, suggests disarming the newer services of one of their greatest weapons, and turning it over to regular taxis.

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