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Film Navigating Netflix

We've heard your complaint: you can't find anything to watch on Netflix. Despite all the A/B testing, app updates and data Netflix is measuring behind the scenes, the way it presents the library makes it nearly impossible to see everything that's available to watch, and sometimes you want to do the choosing instead of letting an algorithm or hired gun do the work. The good news is there are a ton of different ways to sort through the pile -- or ditch sorting for the bliss of random selection -- but the bad news is that some of them will be going away soon (more on that in a minute). If you're not already taking advantage of third party tools like InstantWatcher to dive deep into the catalog, we're here to explain why you should be.

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The United States space shuttle program no longer exists, which leaves NASA's astronauts with few options for hitching a ride to the International Space Station. One option, Russia's space program, is currently roadblocked by politics. Another other option is thankfully here in the US, with Elon Musk's SpaceX offering rides to and from the ISS; Musk says that his company will transport human beings between Earth and the ISS "in about two to three years" with the second version of his company's Dragon spacecraft. But the long game isn't the ISS: it's Mars.

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Nearly two weeks after New York's Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman, made a push to bar Lyft from offering its ridesharing service in New York City, both parties have finally come to an agreement. As a result, Lyft is now free to operate in all five boroughs of The Big Apple, after the company "agreed to operate in New York State in full compliance with existing laws and regulations." In addition, Lyft has also assured state officials it will operate with commercial drivers only. But it wasn't a complete win for the pink mustache company, as this agreement stipulates that Lyft must cease services in Buffalo and Rochester by next week, on August 1st.

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If you've spent time on a beach without protection, you probably have a good idea of just how damaging the sun can be. That gigantic star that gives us life from millions of miles away can also do great harm, as Earth nearly discovered during a powerful 2012 solar storm. According to NASA, during the July 23, 2012 event, a plasma cloud left the sun traveling at 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) per second, passing through Earth's orbit. Our planet wasn't in its path at the time, but would have been just a week before. Instead, it hit a STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) spacecraft, which was able to capture tons of relevant data. According to a study, the cloud could have caused more than $2 trillion in damage, knocking out electrical, communication and other global networks. Unfortunately, it may not be possible to prevent such a disaster, and while life would go on, it would be a far departure from what we're used to today.

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Regardless of what you may be searching for on The Pirate Bay, it wouldn't hurt to be doing so with style and ease of use. In consideration of this, the popular (and controversial) torrent-sharing property has launched a brand new mobile site, featuring a rather subtle, less clustered look that should make browsing through it a much more enjoyable experience. As TorrentFreak points out, this is the first time Pirate Bay's done a major design revamp in almost a decade, a change likely to be considered a breath of fresh air by its users, particularly those who like to use the website on devices like smartphones and tablets. The Pirate Bay doesn't appear to be redirecting all mobile visitors to the new page yet, but you can check it out here right about now.

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Now that Microsoft is rolling Windows Phone 8.1 out to handsets, users can now start chatting with its new virtual assistant, Cortana. Right now, she's limited to the US, but the Cortana man at Microsoft, Marcus Ash, has tweeted that "barring an unforeseen issue," the UK developer preview will go live in "less than two weeks" and, wait for it, not feature the reassuring tones of Jen Taylor, the original talent behind Halo's Cortana. Like Apple's Siri, Cortana will adopt a British accent when it rolls out, presumably to make owners feel more comfortable when interacting with the digital sidekick. Sure, she'll still take notes, dictate messages and offer up calendar alerts and reminders, she just won't sound like the Cortana you've relied upon during many a gaming session (unless you indulge in a bit of location trickery).

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In an ideal world, your smartphone and tablet would always be online (and you'd still have an unlimited data plan), but that's just not the case. Problem is, some Android games require a connection even after you've completed your download, but others do not. It's that latter list that Google's breaking out into its own section in Play, called "Offline Games." There you'll find Asphalt 8, Dots, Jetpack Joyride, Assassin's Creed Pirates and a few others -- 54 games in all. That's a shockingly slim selection, so this list is hardly all-inclusive, but if you're in the market for a game to play on your next flight or subway ride, it's a good place to start.

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Back in June, Google revealed Cardboard: an open-source attempt at mobile virtual reality. Heck, even the "hardware" is open source --here are instructions to make your own, right now!

But the concept is more than a low-tech solution to mobile VR. It's emblematic of Google's approach to virtual reality: use the phone that's already in your pocket. Samsung's taking the same approach later this year with Gear VR, only it's also partnering with Oculus VR on the software side.

This stands in stark contrast to the PC-dependent, ultra-high-res experience Oculus VR and Facebook are aiming to achieve. The Oculus Rift headset both literally and figuratively kickstarted the re-birth of virtual reality in modern technology. It remains the peak of technological achievement in virtual reality. And now, the medium is splintering into two distinct futures: one of entertainment, the other of immersion.

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Firefox has already shown off an Android launcher and is now trying some spiffy personalization features for its Android browser. The latest beta flaunts a new class of "panel" add-ons with home page feeds like Pocket, Wikipedia, Instagram and more. Firefox has also released a new set of APIs for those plug-ins, letting any app developer create a home screen page. I tried it out with Instagram and Pocket and found it gave me a quick way to view photo streams and articles without touching the apps. But I've got similar features with my launcher (Terrain), which seems a more logical place to put third party feeds. If you'd like to try it, it seemed stable enough during limited usage, but like any beta, the risk is all yours.

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The intrepid disassemblers over at iFixit have torn Amazon's Fire phone asunder in order to determine how repairable it is, but what did they find? At first blush, things seemed promising, with standard Torx screws holding the chassis together, but after that things started to get sticky. The battery, for instance, is attached with an adhesive tab, but the five front-facing cameras are all held in place with liberal dollops of glue. So much so, in fact, that do-it-yourself repairs are nearly impossible unless you're patient enough to melt each component out of its adhesive prison. Getting spare parts isn't ideal either, since the components share so many resources that you can't just replace one piece -- you've got to buy the lot. That's why the phone scored a measly 3 out of 10 for repairability, which is yet another reason not to buy one.

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