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Google has just announced another major investment in renewable energy -- not to power its own vast data centers this time, but rather to bring cheaper electricity to the homes of ordinary Americans. Alongside solar cell manufacturer SunPower, the internet giant is starting a $250 million fund (including $100 million of its own cash) to buy up solar panels and then lease them back to American households. It promises the lease cost will be "typically lower" than a home's regular electricity bills, so as to provide a financial incentive to go green, but it has yet to provide specifics on the costs involved or exactly when the project is scheduled to get going.

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If you used a Samsung app recently it was possibly a mis-click, according to a Strategy Analytics survey of 250-plus Galaxy S3 and S4 users. While Samsung recently trumpeted 100 million users for ChatOn, for instance, the report said US users spent a mere six seconds per month on the app, compared to, say, 151 minutes on Instagram. The rest of the suite fared little better, with users spending no more than seven minutes per month on all its apps combined. By contrast, users stayed on Facebook for 11 hours and Google's three most popular apps for 150 minutes on average. If accurate, that would be a stinging rebuke, given that Samsung's apps are pre-installed on most of its devices and can't be removed easily -- unless, ironically, you're in its home country.

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What would you say if we told you that it's possible to copy, translate, edit and even erase the text inside any image you find on the internet? Well, you can, and it's a lot easier than you might think. All it requires is a new browser extension, called Project Naptha, made by developer Kevin Kwok. It uses a number of optical character recognition (OCR) algorithms, including libraries developed by Microsoft and Google, which quickly build a model of text regions, words and letters from nearly any image.

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What does the internet love more than cats? App-connected devices that let you feed and entertain the furry monsters when you're out and about. Kittyo is a coffee maker-shaped device designed to do just that, packing a webcam, laser and a treat dispenser. That way, you can check your moggies are safe, keep 'em entertained and drop pellets of kibble, even if you're at the office or on holiday. The product launched on Kickstarter, naturally, where it's already smashed its $30,000 target four times over. However, there's still time to make a pledge and get the Kittyo for $120, versus the $180 you might expect to pay if you waited until the product goes on sale in November.

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Google's mobile-streaming tech has a lot going for it, but listening to music stored in Mountain View's cloud is still limited to a handful of home devices. AirPlay-compatible gadgets, however, are a probably a bit more common than the Nexus Q, Chromecast and Sonos systems are, and developer doubleTwist's latest project acts as a bridge between the two ecosystems. The outfit recently released "AirPlay for Android," which is exactly what it sounds like: the tweak open's the search giant's media-streaming to AirPlay devices. The rub is that your device running Google's mobile OS has to be rooted for the hack to work. First, grab and install the aforementioned APK from the dev's blog, launch Google Play Music (GPM) and hit the Cast button. From there, you need to grant root access to the app, force-stop it and then relaunch. Viola! AirPlay devices on your wireless network should populate the list of compatible targets.

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CE53N2 Hacker using laptop. Lots of digits on the computer screen.

Akami Technologies' State of the Internet report for Q4 2013 has just arrived, and one stat stands out like a bad rash: DDoS (denial of service) attacks were up 75 percent over last quarter, and 23 percent from the year before. Most of the targets were enterprises, and Akami said that the likelihood of a repeat hack is one in three -- a 35 percent bump over last year. Such numbers have no doubt fueled demand for services like Google's Project Shield, which shelter businesses behind massive cloud servers that can easily absorb an onslaught. As for the countries of origin? The dubious winner of that prize (by far) was China with 43 percent of all attacks, followed by the US and Canada. The latter nation saw a not-very-polite 2500 percent bump in DDoS attacks over last year -- hopefully not a trend.

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If we draw an almost totally arbitrary line in the sand and call it "500 pixels per inch," then smartphones now stand proudly on one side of it, while tablets still languish on the other. Japan Display is gently nudging the market forward, however, with the 4K 12-inch tablet panel we saw last year (which offered 365 ppi) and now with a 4K 10-inch prototype that delivers a much higher pixel density of 438 ppi. That's good news for Chuck Yeagers who reckon they can spot the difference, but Japan Display is promising something even more important: It claims its 4K (3,840 x 2,160) screens have just the same appetite for energy as the regular 2,560 x 1,600 panels found in many tablets today. That means 4K slates could arrive at no cost to battery life, relative to current technology, leaving us with just the pesky financial and computational overheads to deal with instead.

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Internet calling and messaging service Viber does a solid job of constantly bringing new features to its apps, regardless of the platform. Now, some seven months after iOS 7 was released, Viber is finally changing the looks of its iPhone app to match that flat, minimalist appearance of Apple's OS. Aside from overhauling the UI, the Viber application now also lets you create a list of numbers you'd like to block and send longer video messages to people. The company's CEO, Talmon Marco, tells us this update isn't just about iOS 7, however. "This is the first time we are introducing a new look and feel for Viber. Our goal was to create a simple and friendly interface but at the same time establish a solid foundation for future updates," Marco stated. In other words, don't be surprised when you see some of these design cues make their way to other Viber apps, like those on Windows Phone 8 and Android.

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Rarely do we see a tech startup spending five months actively hyping up an unborn product; and when we do, most of them end up being vaporware. Luckily, that's not the case with OnePlus. Today, the Shenzhen-based company has finally unveiled its first smartphone, the One (not to be confused with the HTC One). While the device's impressive specs have already been listed in detail beforehand, OnePlus had remained tight-lipped about the actual prices (unsubsidized) until today: $299/£229/€269 for the 16GB model, and $349/£269/€299 for the 64GB flavor; both due mid to late May. This aggressive pricing is obviously going right after the Nexus 5 ($349 for 16GB, $399 for 32GB), but is this too good to be true?

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In 2016, Hitachi will take over Toshiba's title as the maker of the fastest elevator in the world. The Japanese company's slated to install two lifts that move at a swift 45mph inside China's Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre, currently under construction. Apparently, you can reach the 95th floor (the building will have 111 floors in all) straight from the ground in just 43 seconds on one of these zippy elevators -- hardly long enough to freshen up before reaching the office. Toshiba's current record-holding lifts in Taipei 101 (a skyscraper in Taiwan) ferry people up and down floors at only 38mph.

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