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Why Xiaomi bought Microsoft patents, big magnet vs. big hydraulic press

Here’s a new name to learn in the smartphone world: Xiaomi. The Chinese company is the largest producer of cell phones in China, where they are known to make decent and snappy low-cost phones. But they’re pretty much unknown in Europe and the U.S. That’s about to change. According to Reuters,Xiaomi just inked a deal to buy about 1,500 Microsoft patents needed to bring their phones up to U.S. spec.

The deal includes a licensing agreement to install Skype and Microsoft Office on future phones and tablets, which will run on Google’s Android OS. Other patents include tech for voice communication, cloud computing and multimedia playback. Until now, you could get a Xiaomi phone off, say, eBay, but it wouldn’t work in the U.S. for the most part. We’re looking forward to seeing their first phones stack up against the competition.

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If you’re a participant in the growing wave of “live video” creators that uses Twitter’s Periscope app, you’re probably aware that there are some not-nice people out there who relish in posting nasty, spammy or attacking comments during your stream-of-consciousness masterpiece. You know: trolls. Now, Periscope has introduced real-time comment moderation and fellows viewers get to moderate.

Using a palette of buttons, Periscope lets viewers and live video-ers essentially vote on if a comment is good to go – or isn’t. Also, video makers can restrict comments to known parties and viewers can also opt of out the moderation exercise if they want to. Will this rather democratic approach to squelching trolls work in the long run? Like so many things in tech, this is an interesting social experiment, and we’ll be watching to see how it turns out.

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Admit it, you’ve peeked at a few videos on PressTube, the YouTube channel where some unseen and unspeaking operators of a large and powerful hydraulic press squish stuff – pretty much for the fun of it. The results are typically hilarious – and often unusual. So for, nothing has been able to beat the press – until now. What held up under pressure? A large neodymium magnet, which is apparently made out of spare parts from a black hole or something.

The PressTube team ran the pressure nearly up to the maximum available before backing it off and conceding defeat. What’s neodymium used for? Well, when you use your headphones or earbuds, they’re the magnets behind all the sound you hear.

The most entertaining part of the video is when the press operator tries to remove the magnet from the press – after it’s essentially made every metal part involved highly magnetic. He almost laughs. Almost.