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Impress your guests (and top off their phones) with this DIY wireless charging table

 The Weekend Workshop is our weekly column where we showcase a badass DIY project that you can complete with minimal skills and expertise. 

Wireless chargers are amazing — they free you from fiddling with a mess of cables every time you want to charge up your phone. Unfortunately, they don’t look particularly attractive on your tabletop. To fix this issue, we’re going to show you how to build an industrial-style end table with wireless charging built directly into the wood — a solution that’s both functional and good-looking.

To make the process a bit easier, we also built the base of this table with 3/4-inch steel plumbing pipe. This gives the finished product a cool industrial aesthetic while minimizing the amount of cutting, gluing, and fastening you’ll need to do. If done right, you don’t even need to cut the wood yourself. You can simply have the crew at your local home center cut everything for you. After that, all you’ll need is a router and a few clamps to bring everything together.

Note: this table will only charge phones compatible with the Qi wireless charging standard. If you’re not sure if your device has this functionality, check here.

Tools & Materials

  • Anker Qi wireless charger
  • Plunge router
  • Wood board, 7″x 24″ (3x)
  • Wood board, roughly 5″ x 18″ (2x)
  • Wood glue
  • Hot glue (or super glue)
  • Clamps, at least 2.5 feet long
  • 5/8″ wood screws
  • Drill/driver
  • 3/4″ Steel plumbing pipe, 10-inch length (8x)
  • 3/4″ Steel plumbing pipe, 6-inch length (4x)
  • 3/4″ Steel plumbing pipe, 2-inch length (4x)
  • 3/4″ Steel plumbing pipe, close (4x)
  • 3/4″ Cast iron pipe fitting, 45-degree elbow (8x)
  • 3/4″ Cast iron pipe fitting, T-junction (4x)
  • 3/4″ Cast iron pipe fitting, floor flange (4x)
  • 3/4″ Cast iron pipe fitting, union (2x)
  • 3/4″ Cast iron pipe fitting, end cap (4x)
  • 3/4″ Cast iron pipe fitting, cross (2x)


Step 1: Disassemble the wireless charging pad. Your goal is to remove the inductive charging coil that lives inside the plastic housing. If you’re using the Anker charger we used in the video (and linked to in the list above) all you need to do is remove the rubber feet from the underside of the pad and use a small Philips screwdriver to remove the eight screws holding the base to the top shell. Remove these and you should have easy access to the charging coil inside. Make sure to note which side is the top and which is the bottom.

Step 2: Grab your newly-liberated charging coil, attach a power cable to it, and place the entire assembly on the underside of one of your 7-inch boards. Trace the outline with a pencil. You don’t have to trace the entire cord, but do make sure you trace a couple inches of it. You’ll need some wiggle room to attach/remove the power cord, so make sure to take that into account.

Step 3: Use your router to mill out the area you just traced. Before you get started, make sure that you’re using a bit that can make plunge cuts and a router with adjustable depth settings. You want to mill out the area you just traced, but leave somewhere between 1/4 and 1/8 of an inch of wood on the bottom. Also, don’t just plunge down the full depth right away. The best method is to start shallow and gradually make your way down. Once you’ve reached the depth you’re after, stick the charging coil in the hole and test to make sure it works. Qi chargers aren’t designed to work over long distances, so you’ll need to get the wood fairly thin — but not so thin that the tabletop could easily be damaged by, say, setting a coffee mug down too hard. The goal is to make it just thin enough for the charger to work through the wood, and not a hair thinner.

Step 4: Once you’re done milling, bust out your glue and clamps. The next step is to glue all your boards together and complete the topside of your table. Before you get started, make sure you have your boards arranged in a pleasing manner, such that the grain lines up to your liking. Apply a thin coat of glue to the long edges of your middle board (the one with the pocket cut in it) and clamp all three boards together. You’ll also want to clamp them down from the top with a long, flat piece of wood, to ensure that the tabletop you’re making is perfectly flat.

Step 5: Grab your charging coil and some hot glue — it’s time to glue the inductive charging coil into the pocket you cut. We used hot glue for our table because it can be peeled off fairly easily if we ever want to make modifications to the table in the future, but you don’t have a hot glue gun handy, super glue will do the trick. Just remember to double-check that your coil is facing the right direction before you start gluing — it won’t work if it’s upside down!

Step 6: While you’re waiting for the glue to dry, go ahead and piece together your plumbing pipe base. Refer to the diagram below for assembly instructions. During the build, make sure that all pieces are tightened together as much as possible. This will likely require some muscle, but there’s a trick you can use to cheat a bit. Instead of wrenching on the pipes by themselves, you can get extra leverage by partially screwing a longer length of pipe into the piece you’re trying to twist on, and use it to get extra torquing power. A pair of grippy, rubber-palm gloves is also highly recommended.

Make 2 of these, then use your remaining pipe pieces (four 6-inch lengths and two couplings) to connect them at the base. (Note: the T fittings in this diagram aren’t facing the right direction. On your actual table, the open end of each T fitting should face away from you at this perspective)

Step 7: Head back to your tabletop. Once the wood glue has set (it takes about an hour), pull off the clamps and get to sanding. Take off all the rough edges and remove any leftover glue that might’ve squirted out from the cracks during clamping. If you plan on applying finish to the tabletop, now is a good time to do it. We gave our Peruvian walnut boards a couple coats of Tung oil to bring out their color a bit.

Step 8: With your tabletop complete and your plumbing pipe base assembled, the next step is to attach the two with some screws. To do this, first make sure that your flanges are tightened down as much as possible, and that your base is as straight as you can get it. Flip your tabletop upside down and place the pipe base on top of it, flange-side down. Use a pencil to mark the screw holes, then remove the base and drill pilot hoes for each (note: this is only necessary if you’re using a hard wood). Finally, place your pipe base back on top, and fasten it down with some screws.

Step 9: The final major step (which we didn’t include in the video) is to cut, finish, and attach the bottom slats. The correct width for these will vary depending on how tightly you screw the connector pipes together on the bottom, so once you’re done with step 8, take some measurements and cut your bottom boards to the exact size you need. Ours were about 5 by 18 inches, but yours will likely be slightly different.

Step 10: Plug the charger into the nearest wall, plop your phone down onto the sweet spot, and watch as the battery magically fills up!


The Hilton Hotel in Panama features an insane Alienware gaming room

The next time you’re on vacation in Panama City, you may not have any time for sightseeing at Casco Viejo or the Balboa Avenida walkway. This particular Hilton Hotel not only offers free W-Fi, but Room 2425 has been turned into the ultimate gaming getaway, courtesy of Alienware.

PC Gamer expanded on some of the details of the high-end setup, which was originally highlighted with a gallery of drool-worthy images at Xataca. Once you check in, you’ll be greeted with beefy Alienware gaming PCs, high-definition displays, booming surround sound, and even a virtual reality (VR) setup with an Occulus Rift headset.

Echale un vistazo al #Alienware Room ???? ???? en el Hotel @HiltonPanama ¡El primero de su tipo! ????

— Alienware Latinoamérica (@AlienwareLatAm) April 17, 2018

Alienware Latinoamérica shared some of the images of the room on Twitter, which showcases the futuristic sci-fi styling and amenities such as beanbag chairs and Alienware-branded pillows and tissue boxes.

‏As to the hardware itself, you’ll have no problems staying cool in the racing simulator chair with upholstery designed using NASA’s Outcast technology, which protects astronauts from temperature fulgurations. Then you can boot up your favorite shooter on a 4K 65-inch OELD TV using a PC loaded with an Intel Core i7-8700 processor and a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card.

For lighter fare, there’s also an Alienware 15 laptop on the desk powered by a Core i7-7700HQ processor and a GeForce GTX 1070 GPU.

For added ambience, the room features lighting that responds to the game you’re playing using the immersive Alienware AlienFX technology, as well as peripherals too numerous to list.

Hilton has been experimenting with smart room technology for some time, but this new partnership with Alienware is taking things to the next level. Juan Carlos Garcés of Intel told the website Homecrux, “With this unique offer in the market, once again the Hilton Panama Hotel is consolidated as a hotel that focuses its tourism offer on providing unique and memorable experiences to its customers, guests, and visitors.”

The room runs $349 per night and features a fantastic view of Panama City beaches and the Pacific Ocean, but most visitors staying in Room 2425 will probably spend their entire vacation with the curtains drawn. Just be sure the minibar is fully stocked beforehand.

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Amazon is selling Star Wars and Marvel DVDs — but only to Prime members

If you want to buy the new Blu-ray of Star Wars: The Last Jedi from Amazon, you’d better be an Amazon Prime member. The online behemoth seems to be flexing its muscles a bit, leveraging the most popular movie of 2017 in an effort to sell more Prime subscriptions.

Slate notes that the discrepancy began a few weeks ago, when the latest Star Wars movie first became available for presale. When the home version of the movie was released on March 27, the Blu-ray disc was listed as “out of stock,” although the streaming version was available through Amazon, and many other online retailers had discs for sale.

Currently, the Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD versions are all listed as “Exclusively for Prime Members” at Amazon’s site.

It certainly doesn’t seem to be hurting sales, as The Last Jedi currently occupies the #2 and #5 spots on Amazon’s best-selling list. It is a minor annoyance for people who aren’t Prime members, however, and it extends to other popular franchises as well. Marvel movies are also unavailable unless you’re a Prime member, although the streaming Prime Video versions are available to anyone.

Aside from an effort to boost Prime subscriptions (the “Free Trial” offer is prominently featured for non-members when trying to order the disc), this kerfuffle is likely the latest salvo in the ongoing battle between Amazon and Disney. Several years ago, Amazon halted pre-orders for several Disney DVDs, including Maleficent and Captain America: Winter Soldier.

After scooping up the 21st Century Fox properties in a multi-billion-dollar deal, Disney has already announced plans for its own comprehensive streaming service to compete directly with providers like Amazon Prime. Disney CEO Bob Iger has also said the company will be pulling all Star Wars and Marvel films from Netflix in 2019.

The Last Jedi disc copies and the streaming version are both loaded with extras, but one of the most interesting is a “silent” version that doesn’t include any dialogue or effects — the only audio is John Williams’ iconic score. Of course, there’s a catch. To watch it, you need to sign up for the Movies Anywhere app, the Disney-backed digital movie aggregator.

Amazon recently revealed that it has 100 million Prime subscribers, but the Disney-Fox merger means that the Mighty Mouse will now control more than 40 percent of the theatrical movie market, according to Deadline. Unfortunately, this Cold War won’t be resolved anytime soon, and could well result in fewer choices and higher prices for consumers.

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NASA reveals its plans to have astronauts orbiting the moon by 2025

2019 will likely be a busy year for NASA. At the Space Symposium conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Associate Administrator William Gerstenmaier announced that the agency will begin awarding contracts for its lunar “Gateway” program, with a goal of having four astronauts in orbit around the moon by 2025.

Bloomberg reports that NASA has begun the process of constructing the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, beginning with contracts for power and propulsion components, followed by habitation, logistics, and airlocks. The components will be launched and the Gateway constructed in space beginning in 2022.

“The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway will give us a strategic presence in lunar space. It will drive our activity with commercial and international partners and help us explore the Moon and its resources,” said Gerstenmaier. “We will ultimately translate that experience toward human missions to Mars.”

The Orion spacecraft, developed by Lockheed Martin, will provide trips to the Gateway aboard the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. “Development of the gateway has great momentum, and we are providing our expertise as NASA looks to industry to bring know-how to this important effort,” Lockheed said in a statement.

Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the first unmanned Orion test flight, is planned for 2019. Its three-week mission will take it within 62 miles of the lunar surface and then into orbit some 40,000 miles high before its return to Earth. A manned test flight is planned for 2023.

Future experiments will determine if water can be extracted from the lunar surface and used to create propellant for future missions. “We want to understand orbital mechanics around the moon,” Gerstenmaier said. “Doing things in this region, where gravity isn’t such a big driver … is a different way of operating.”

According to NASA, the Gateway will allow further lunar exploration and even a staging area for exploration of the solar system. “It will drive our activity with commercial and international partners and help us explore the Moon and its resources,” Gerstenmaier added. “We will ultimately translate that experience toward human missions to Mars.”

The moon’s gravity can also be used to slow spacecraft down after their six-month journey from the Red Planet, before re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

Gernstenmaier said the agency’s goals are realistic from a budgetary standpoint and added that collaboration with commercial partners will expand the opportunities and capabilities in deep space: “As long as we view the moon as a stepping stone and not an end goal, I think we’re OK”

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Apple offers to replace swollen batteries in certain MacBook Pros

On Friday, Apple announced that it would be replacing the batteries of select 13-inch MacBook Pros after it was determined that a component was causing some of the batteries to swell.

Apple said that the flaw, which only affects MacBook Pros without touch bars, was not a safety issue. The Cupertino company did not give any numbers regarding how many MacBook Pros were affected, but said that these units were produced between October 2016 and October 2017.

Eligibility for the replacement program will be determined by the MacBook’s serial number. To figure out whether your device is eligible, simply head over to Apple’s support page  and enter your computer’s serial number in the provided field.

Apple’s website says that eligible users who have already paid for a replacement battery can contact support to request a refund.

Beyond that, there are a couple of details to keep in mind regarding this offer. This program will not extend the standard warranty coverage of the MacBook Pro, and the offer is only good for five years after the first retail sale of the unit. Perhaps the most important thing note is that if there is any damage to your device that would prevent Apple from replacing your MacBook’s battery, Apple will first have to fix that issue, and may charge an additional service fee.

This is hardly the first battery-related problem that Apple has had to deal with. Earlier this month, it was reported that battery swelling issues were occurring on some models of the Apple Watch Series 2. As with the MacBook Pros, Apple offered a free replacement plan for those batteries.

Perhaps the most controversial battery-related issue Apple has faced has been the slow-downs surrounding older models of the iPhone 6, 6s, and iPhone SE. Last December, Apple confirmed that in order preserve the battery life of older iPhones, it would slow down the devices’ performance. The company faced a public outcry over this and eventually offered to replace the battery of any of the eligible devices for $25. The company will do a standard battery check upon receiving the phones, but the price remains the same regardless of the battery’s quality.

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Cult classic ‘Night Trap’ is coming to Nintendo Switch this summer

Full-motion video was a big step forward for games back in the ’90s, and game developers embraced the new technology wholeheartedly … by creating a voyeuristic horror film ripoff about scantily-clad teenage girls being attacked by vampires.

Never say never!

Night Trap: 25th Anniversary Edition is coming to the Nintendo Switch this Summer both digitally and physically!

— Limited Run Games (@LimitedRunGames) April 20, 2018

Fast-forward 25 years, and publisher Limited Run games announced on Twitter that the anniversary edition of Night Trap will be available on the Nintendo Switch later this year, despite Nintendo’s vow decades ago that the game would never appear on a Nintendo system. The game is currently available on PlayStation 4 and on PC, and rumors of a sequel have floated around for some time.

Starring Dana Plato of Different Strokes fame and marketed as an interactive movie, Night Trap was released for the Sega CD system in 1992. As a member of the Sega Control Attack Team (or S.C.A.T.), your job was to monitor activities in the house via surveillance cameras and set traps for the various evil vampires trying to invade the house and terrorize the occupants. The game featured varying events depending on which girls you managed to save.

Night Trap was actually filmed five years before its release and created for an unreleased console, but in the 16-bit era, there was simply no way to fit all that data onto a cartridge. It reportedly cost some $1.5 million to make — an unheard-of sum by the standards of the day.

Although incredibly tame by today’s standards, the game caused an uproar among parents and politicians concerned about what these new-fangled video games were doing to the impressionable minds of children. Night Trap, along with Mortal Kombat, prompted Senate hearings that eventually led to the creation of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).

Nintendo did demand that Acclaim remove the infamous fatalities from the Super NES version of Mortal Kombat. Sega, which had always marketed itself as the “edgier” company during the console wars of the ‘90s, released an unexpurgated version for Genesis. Nintendo capitulated and Mortal Kombat 2 was released on Super NES, fatalities and all.

“In the past year, some very violent and offensive games have reached the market, and of course I’m speaking about Mortal Kombat and Night Trap,” Nintendo chairman Howard Lincoln told the Senate committee in 1993. “And let me say that for the record, I want to state that Night Trap will never appear on a Nintendo system. Obviously it would not pass our guidelines. This game … which promotes violence against women, simply has no place in our society.”

Night Trap will be available this summer as a digital release from the Switch Shop, as well as a physical copy.

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WikiLeaks loses access to a key cryptocurrency account

This hasn’t been the best week for WikiLeaks, to put it mildly. Coinbase has shut off the WikiLeaks Shop’s account for allegedly violating the cryptocurrency exchange’s terms of service. In other words, the leak site just lost its existing means of converting payments like bitcoin into conventional money. While Coinbase didn’t give a specific reason (it declines to comment on specific accounts), it pointed to its legal requirement to honor “regulatory compliance mechanisms” under the US’ Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

This doesn’t prevent WikiLeaks from accepting cryptocurrency, but it will have to scramble to find an alternative if it wants to continue taking digital money from customers buying shirts and coffee cups. Unsurprisingly, the organization is less than thrilled — it’s calling for a “global blockade” of Coinbase, claiming that the exchange is reacting to a “concealed influence.”

As Andreas Antonopoulos and The Verge observe, there’s a degree of irony here: WikiLeaks adopted cryptocurrency in 2010 precisely to get away from conventional payment services that had shut off access. Formats like bitcoin supposedly couldn’t be held back. As you may have noticed, though, regulators see things differently — they’ve increasingly cracked down on potential abuses. That doesn’t necessarily say anything about WikiLeaks’ culpability, but Coinbase’s action isn’t coming out of the blue.

Via: The Verge

Source: WikiLeaks Shop (Twitter)


Valve acquires the creators of ‘Firewatch’

Campo Santo has widely been regarded as the little game studio that could. Its very first game, Firewatch, won numerous awards and even landed a movie deal. It won’t be quite so indie going forward, however: the development team is joining Valve. While the full terms aren’t available, the team members are moving to Bellevue, Washington and will continue developing In the Valley of Gods as a Valve game. There’s no word yet on how this will affect Idle Thumbs podcasts co-hosted by three of Campo Santo’s staffers.

If you ask Campo Santo, the two companies are a natural fit. The company said there was an “obvious match” with Valve, which felt similarly about game development. Valve also saw creators with a “unique experience and valuable, diverse perspectives.”

It’s not shocking that Campo Santo would join a larger company. As successful as it has been, it was still a fledgling studio without vast resources. For Valve, though, it’s more surprising: the company’s once extensive game development has largely narrowed down to Dota 2 and its card game spinoff Artifact, with legendary talent leaving for greener pastures. This doesn’t necessarily herald a full-scale revival of Valve’s in-house plans (sorry, Half-Life 3 likely remains dead), but Gabe Newell recently mentioned that Artifact was just the start of his company’s return to games. Clearly, the company doesn’t just want to be known for Steam and hardware experiments.

Source: Campo Santo


Apple will replace swollen batteries in newer MacBook Pros

It hasn’t been that long since the iPhone battery fiasco, but Apple already has another battery issue to deal with. The tech giant has launched a battery replacement program for 13-inch MacBook Pros without Touch Bar manufactured between October 2016 and October 2017. A “limited number” of its base Pro laptops are prone to a component failure — it didn’t mention which component, only that the devices’ built-in batteries will swell if it malfunctions. Just earlier this month, the company announced a similar program for 42mm Series 2 Watches, since their batteries also have the tendency to swell.

Unlike its battery replacement for iPhone 6 or newer models that’ll set you back $29, though, Apple will swap your MacBook Pro battery for free… so long as you have an eligible model. Cupertino said it’s not a safety issue, but if you can get the replacement at no cost, it’ll probably be best to take advantage of the offer.

Since not all 13-inch Pros without Touch Bar are affected (other and older models aren’t prone to the same component failure) you’ll first have to make sure you’re covered under the program. Simply go to the program page and look up your serial number, which you can find in About this Mac (click the Apple logo on the top menu), under your laptop or on its box.

If you’re eligible for a replacement, you’ll have to find an Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, but you can also mail your laptop to a repair center. Even if you’re physically going to a store, you may want to wipe your data after backing it up anyway, since your laptop might still have to be sent to a repair center and stay there for three to five days. (In case you already had your battery replaced, you can ask Apple for a reimbursement.) Take note that Apple wants to resolve any other issue your MacBook might have before replacing your battery, and that extra repair might not be free.

Via: Reuters

Source: Apple


SEC charges third ‘mastermind’ in ICO fraud case

The SEC is clearly determined to crack down on everyone involved in Centra Tech’s allegedly fraudulent initial coin offering. Officials have filed fraud charges against a third “mastermind” in the case, Raymond Trapani, for reportedly helping to whip up false claims about the $32 million ICO and manipulate trading to keep the offering’s price up. As evidence, the SEC trotted out a group text message where Trapani reportedly told Centra’s Sohrab Sharma to “cook me up” a fake document while trying to get the company’s tokens listed on an exchange using bogus credentials.

The SEC hopes to not only recover any “ill-gotten gains” from Trapani (plus penalties), but to ban him from serving in a company’s leadership or participating in any other securities trading. He’s facing additional fraud charges from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, three of which could put him in prison for up to 20 years.

These latest charges come several weeks after the SEC stepped up the heat on dodgy cryptocurrency and token schemes, and Centra Tech is arguably the highest-profile scheme so far with star-studded endorsements (DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather among them). Regulators want to be clear that they have just as much authority over digital securities as the conventional kind, and stiff charges like these theoretically warn other fraudsters who might think the internet is a ‘safe’ place for their crimes.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: SEC, Justice Department

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