Weekly Rewind: AT&T kills contracts, a deep space habitat, and $100 3D printers

top tech stories 1 3 2016 deep space module
In the tech world, a lot happens in a week. So much news goes on, in fact, that it’s almost impossible for mere mortals with real lives to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of the top 10 tech stories from over the Thanksgiving holiday. Everything from the homemade lightsabers to a preview of CES 2016 — it’s all here.

At CES 2016, Samsung’s going to show off three cool, secret tech projects


Samsung will show three exciting projects being worked on by C-Lab, its secretive in-house workshop, at CES 2016. It’ll be the first time Samsung will publicly demonstrate the innovative technology that’s being created inside C-Lab. The company has singled out three projects it feels will make the right impact at the Las Vegas event — the WELT fitness belt, the Rink VR controller, and TipTalk, which is a new way to hear sounds generated by a mobile device.

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AT&T confirms its plan to end two-year contracts on January 8


AT&T confirmed it will end two-year contracts on January 8, 2016 for its smartphone service plans. Currently, AT&T is the only major U.S. carrier offering contracts on its website. T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon all killed contracts recently. After January 8, the carrier will sell smartphones at full retail price or through installment plans like its current Next program. All four of the major carriers currently offer similar plans for buying phones, and that will soon be the only option available to customers.

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Congress wants NASA to build a deep space habitat for astronauts, and finish it by 2018


Though dust has hardly settled on NASA’s triumphant budget increase doled out by members of Congress this month, the agency is already hard at work proving it deserves the extra funding. Its next order of business? Heed Congress’ instruction to develop a sufficient prototype model of a deep space habitat by no later than 2018. For those glancing at the calendar, 2018 is just two short years away, meaning NASA has roughly 730 days to show off what could likely shape deep space travel for dozens of decades. No pressure.

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This homemade laser lightsaber can burn through wire

Known for his insane laser creations, laser modder and YouTube personality Drake Anthony, aka Styropyro, is back with a new project in honor of the latest Star Wars movie. To keep up with the growing number of lightsaber DIYs on YouTube, Styropyro decided to join in on the fun by upgrading his 3W handheld lightsaber from a few years ago to an impressive, if dangerous, 7w version. The 7W lightsaber quickly lights things on fire and can blind you instantly and permanently if misused.

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Piracy group behind The Hateful Eight leak reappears, issues apology to Tarantino


Over the past few weeks, pirated copies of a number of films have been leaked, including The Revenant and Quentin Tarantino’s latest, The Hateful Eight, which was leaked before it even arrived in theaters. Unlike many films leaked prior to or during release, the quality of the leaked films was very good. Release group Hive-CM8 claimed to be behind the leaks, as well as pirated versions of Joy, Steve Jobs, Creed, and Bridge of Spies.

Read the full story here.

Next page: 5 more tech stories you might have missed this week

Researchers create $100, smartphone-powered 3D printer

Jeng Ywam-Jeng has a long list of credentials. He’s a professor of mechanical engineering at Taiwan Tech, the dean of the College of Engineering, the president of the 3D Printing Association Taiwan, and a consultant for both New Kinpo Group Taiwan and XYZprinting. It’s not surprising that he also is the brains behind the next revolution in 3D printing — a smartphone-based 3D printer.

Read the full story here.

Scientists have developed a new salt-filled asphalt that prevents ice from forming on roads

When winter hits the United States and the roads begin to freeze, driving becomes a considerably more dangerous activity. Icy roads make for hazardous driving conditions, and ice collected over a particularly frigid winter can take weeks to clear away. That’s why a team of researchers at Turkey’s Koc University created an asphalt mixture that is embedded with salt, so roads can de-ice themselves. Roads paved with the salt-embedded asphalt should be able to prevent ice from gathering at all.

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Furious iPhone 4S owners sue Apple for $5M, alleging iOS 9 crippled their phones


Apple was recently hit with a class-action lawsuit, with the iPhone 4S and iOS 9 at the heart of it all, reports AppleInsider. The main issue, according to plaintiff Chaim Lerman and other iPhone 4S customers, is that Apple crippled the smartphone’s performance after upgrading to iOS 9. More specifically, after upgrading to iOS 9, Lerman and the other plaintiffs noticed a sharp decrease in performance in third-party apps and Apple’s own applications, such as the Phone app.

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Google Glass lives! And the FCC just leaked photos of the next version


Glass is back, and the wearable is finding a home with businesses, health care providers, and various other organizations rather than consumers. While there has been no official word about it from Google, recent FCC filings give us a glimpse at the revamped device. The new Glass, dubbed the enterprise version, sports a new look with a larger glass prism, has a hinge so it can be folded away and placed in pockets, is waterproof and more durable, and has much-improved internals.

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Hilarious new Tumblr blog pokes fun at Tinder’s ‘Male Feminists’


Tinder users tend to have a great sense of humor. Alas, you have to see the funny side of things when taking part in an app arguably built on superficial first impressions. Some of the male users of Tinder, however, are using their profiles to display their commitment to a cause they are passionate about; namely feminism. “Male Feminists of Tinder” is a new Tumblr blog, which is currently collecting screenshots of the men it terms the “good guys” of the dating app.

Read the full story here.

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