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Solar now costs 6¢ per kilowatt-hour, beating government goal by 3 years

Enlarge / From the Department of Energy: "This photo shows the construction phase of a 16.5 MW DC solar farm built in Oxford, MA. This 130-acre property was previously known as the largest piggery in Massachusetts." (credit: Lucas Faria/ US Department of Energy)

On Tuesday, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that utility-grade solar panels have hit cost targets set for 2020, three years ahead of schedule. Those targets reflect around $1 per watt and 6¢ per kilowatt-hour in Kansas City, the department’s mid-range yardstick for solar panel cost per unit of energy produced (New York is considered the high-cost end, and Phoenix, Arizona, which has much more sunlight than most other major cities in the country, reflects the low-cost end).

Those prices don’t include an Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which makes solar panels even cheaper. The Energy Department said that the cost per watt was assessed in terms of total installed system costs for developers. That means the number is based on "the sales price paid to the installer; therefore, it includes profit in the cost of the hardware," according to a department presentation (PDF).

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a DOE-funded lab that assesses solar panel cost, wrote that, compared to the first quarter in 2016, the first quarter in 2017 saw a 29-percent decline in installed cost for utility-scale solar, which was attributed to lower photovoltaic module and inverter prices, better panel efficiency, and reduced labor costs. Despite the plummeting costs for utility-scale solar, costs for commercial and residential solar panels have not fallen quite as quickly—just 15 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

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Brawl Stars: Everything you need to know!

Supercell's newest game is a heck of a lot of fun; here's everything you need to know!

The ultra successful developers of popular games such as Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, and Boom Beach are back with a brand new game called Brawl Stars.

Brawl Stars is a 3v3 top-down shooter game where players from all over the world can battle in the ultimate fight! As you progress through the game, you'll unlock new characters, upgrade your brawlers' stats, and even unlock new game modes!

NOTE: Brawl Stars is currently undergoing a soft launch and is only available in the Canadian App Store; we'll update you as soon as you can play it in other countries.

Game modes

The objective is different based on which game mode you play. There are four different game modes in Brawl Stars, but you have no control over which game modes will be available to you at any given time, as they're randomly selected. Here's a brief description of each game mode.

Smash & Grab

Each team will be tasked with grabbing crystals from the center of the map while battling the opposing team. When a player dies, they will drop all of the crystals they have onto the battlefield. The first team to collect 10 crystals and hold onto them for the 16-second countdown wins the match.

Heist

In Heist, you'll either be on the defending or attacking team. The defending team is responsible for preventing the attacking team from breaking open the safe that guards all their crystals.

Each match of Heist only lasts 2.5 minutes; if the safe is still standing by the end of the countdown, the defending team will be victorious. If not, the attacking team will win.

Bounty

Bounty is a good ol' team-on-team deathmatch. Collect stars for your team by defeating opponents, but try not to get picked off yourself. The team with the most stars at the end of the match will claim victory!

Showdown

The only game mode that isn't 3v3, Showdown is actually a 10-player free-for-all where the last brawler standing wins!

Travel around the map cautiously as everyone is out to kill you and you won't respawn! Be on the lookout for barrels, as they contain power-ups that will give you an edge over your opponents.

The longer you last in a Showdown, the better the rewards you'll get at the end of the match. Can you survive until the end?

Game Events

Under the Brawl tab at the bottom of your screen, the game modes are accessible through a randomized series of game events.

These game events are only available for a certain amount of time, indicated by the green text in the top right corner of the event (as pictured above). Once a game event has expired, a new event will take its place for you to play. This could be a different game mode altogether or the same game mode on a different map.

When you start Brawl Stars for the first time, you'll only have access to one game event slot, and you'll need to unlock the other event slots. You'll unlock these by collecting new brawlers. You need to have access to three brawlers to unlock the second slot, five brawlers to unlock the third slot, and eight brawlers to unlock the fourth slot.

Brawlers

Brawlers are the playable characters in the game that you use to fight your opponents. Each brawler has a different weapon, play-style, and super ability that makes them unique.

There are 15 different brawlers in total; however, you'll only start the game with access to one Brawler named Shelly. You can unlock more by opening Brawl Boxes.

Brawl Boxes

Brawl Boxes are the treasure chests of Brawl Stars, and they take 100 coins or 10 gems to open. As you win matches, collect trophies, and level up, you'll be rewarded with coins; however, gems are a premium currency that you have to pay for through an in-app purchase.

The contents of a Brawl Box are random, and opening one can help you unlock new brawlers or even upgrade your existing brawlers to make them stronger. Here's a quick list of rewards you can find in a Brawl Box:

  • New Brawlers: You can come across a brawler you didn't have access to before inside a Brawl Box; if this happens, you'll be able to start playing as that brawler immediately.
  • Chips: If you open a Brawl Box and you're rewarded with a brawler you already have, you'll instead be given a Chip. These Chips can be used to buy new brawlers that you don't have access to yet. The cheapest brawler only costs three Chips, but the most expensive characters cost 600. Yikes!
  • Elixir: These purple potions are used to upgrade your current Brawlers and make them more powerful. You can get one elixir at a time or even get lucky and receive a five-pack.

Upgrading Brawlers

All of your brawlers have starting stats like health, damage, and super ability damage, but these are not set in stone.

When you get elixirs by opening Brawl Boxes, you can use them to increase the damage your brawler does or even enhance their health.

The first upgrade to each stat will only cost you one elixir, but each upgrade after that will cost more and more. Choose your favorite brawlers and save up your hard-earned elixirs to make them even better!

Control Mode

You can change the way you control your brawlers by heading into the settings menu inside the game. There are two different sets of control, and depending on what feels more natural to you, you may find one of them far superior.

  • Joystick Mode: Move your brawler with a virtual joystick by dragging your finger anywhere on the screen. Tap on a target to shoot.
  • Tap to Move: Tap the screen to move your brawler to that location. Drag your finger to aim your weapon and release to fire.

Bands

If you head over to the social tab in the main menu of Brawl Stars, you have the option of joining a band. As of right now, bands are a way of connecting with other players via a chat room. No other in-game bonuses are provided at this time.

Premium Currency

There is only one premium currency in Brawls Stars and that is Gems. You can open a Brawl Box with 10 Gems and the only way to get Gems is by purchasing them with an in-app purchase.

What else do you want to know?

This is a brand new game with a lot going on. Let us know what else you want to know about Brawl Stars in the comments below.

Best check splitting and tip apps for iPhone: Plates, Gratuity, Tab, and more!

The best iPhone apps to help you split checks fairly and calculate server tips in just a few taps!

Updated May 2017: We've added Divvy to our list!

Looking for the best iPhone apps to help you easily split a restaurant bill among multiple people? There are lots of apps available in the App Store that can help you not only split checks, but make sure you're leaving an appropriate tip. Some apps even extend to bars, deliveries, taxi fares, and other tabs as well.

So, which tip calculator and check splitting app for iPhone is the best pick for you?

Divvy

Divvy makes splitting the dinner bill easier than ever by using your camera!

Take a picture of your receipt, and Divvy will automatically figure out the total and taxes applied to the bill. From there, you can drag the menu items over to different people and Divvy will add up the total of each person at the table. Plus, if you ordered an appetizer for the whole table, Divvy can also split specific items evenly among everyone at the table, making it perfect for large groups of people!

Gratuity

Gratuity is an extremely simple to use bill and tip calculator that lets you calculate check totals and tips for restaurants, bars, food delivery, taxis, salons, and casino dealers. Tell Gratuity the check total, the type, and what kind of service you received and Gratuity will handle the rest. If you don't like the default rates that gratuity uses for a specific service, you can change them in the app's settings.

For an easy to use check and tip calculator that extends to multiple types of services, you want Gratuity.

Plates

Plates by Splitwise helps you split a check between up to 10 people several different ways. Did your table get an appetizer to share? Plates can split the cost of just certain items or of the entire bill. If you want an even split, you can get that in just a few taps. Alternately you can add individual bill items and drag and drop them to each party member. Anything left over you can automatically split evenly, making splitting the cost a lot less complicated.

If splitting complicated restaurant checks quickly and efficiently is your only concern, Plates is the best available option.

Tab

Tab lets you take a photo of any restaurant receipt and it can automatically import all items and totals for you. Then add the guests in your party and assign items to them from the check. After that, just add any applicable discounts or taxes and choose a tip percentage. Tab then gives you a total for each person. The only thing I wish Tab could do was split things like appetizers. At this time, you'll have to have someone claim them.

For the least amount of manual input possible, Tab is worth a try.

Split My Tab

Split My Tab lets you easily split bills based on many scenarios. If it's just you, Split My Tab functions as an easy to use tip calculator. For more than one, you can evenly split the bill or divvy items up. My favorite feature of Split My Tab is the ability to add groups. This is great for folks who frequently dine out with the same people. Just choose their group and start adding items. You can even mail each member of the group a copy of the split in just a tap.

If you dine out with the same people frequently, Split My Tab's group feature makes it the most convenient tip and check calculator.

Tip Calculator Pro +

Tip Calculator Pro + can make divvying up a check as easy or as complicated as you'd like. With support for the US dollar, Euro, Pound, and Krona, Tip Calculator Pro + is a great option for frequent travelers. It also supports check splitting for up to 100 people. Enter the check amount, how many people, choose the level of service, and let Tip Calculator Pro + take care of the rest.

If you need multiple currency support or the ability to split extremely large checks, you can't go wrong with Tip Calculator Pro+.

Your favorite bill splitting and tip apps for iPhone?

If dining out with friends and family is a regular affair for you, do you use any check splitting apps that make it easier to divide up who owes what? Be sure to let me know what your favorites are in the comments!

Instagram — Everything you need to know!

Get familiar with the queen of all social media apps and start sharing your life through Instagram!

Updated Thursday May 25, 2017: Info has been added about Instagram's latest update AKA AR face filters!

Instagram is a social media app that allows users to share photos and videos from their lives, add captions, edit filters, tweak settings, engage with others, explore and creep, and so, so much more — you just have to know what you're doing so you don't get overwhelmed!

Instagram - Free - Download Now

Here's everything you need to know about Instagram if you want to be an Insta-star!

Instagram is letting users send links in direct messages now!

Yup, you read that right! Instagram's latest major update is for it's Direct messaging feature: users can now send links directly!

On top of that, the app is also adding automatic links to phone numbers and addresses, which is incredibly helpful while conversing with pals over Insta.

The Verge:

Additionally, the update adds support for both landscape and portrait pictures sent through Direct. So, instead of weirdly cropping your pictures, they'll now show up properly in their intended dimensions.

Instagram has introduced Snapchat-style augmented reality face filters. Here's everything you need to know!

One of the reasons Snapchat has become so popular over the last couple of years has been because of the app's AR (or augmented reality) face filters AKA World Lenses.

If you're ever been swiping through Tinder or scrolling through Facebook and have noticed a photo of a girl with a dog nose, floppy ears, and sometimes a big tongue, that feature is actually from a super popular Snapchat AR filter that blew up last year once the Kardashians got their hooks into it.

Now Instagram has announced that their following the filter hysteria and introducing their very own AR filters to Instagram stories!

Instagram:

Today, we're introducing face filters in the camera, an easy way to turn an ordinary selfie into something fun and entertaining. Whether you're sitting on the couch at home or you're out and about, you can use face filters to express yourself and have playful conversations with friends.

How many filters will there be to choose from?

There are allegedly 8 AR face filter options, but there's nothing stopping the app from (yet again) copying Snapchat and adding and updating new ones every day/week.

How does it work?

9to5Mac:

Face filters will work with Instagram's built-in Boomerang feature which creates short loops, and both rewind and hands-free mode work with the new feature. After you capture a photo with a face filter, you can use Instagram's existing markup features to draw over the image, add stickers, and more.

When will this feature be launched?

Today, apparently!

How can I find it?

There will be a new 'face effect' icon that will appear in Instagram's main camera section.

Any questions?

Are you excited for face filters/World Lenses/Snapchat 2.0 to come to Instagram? Or would you prefer if the app would stop ripping off the original?

Let us know what you think of Instagram's latest update in the comments below!

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a social media app that was launched in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger (the app was later bought by Facebook in 2012) that encouraged users to take photos, add a filter, write a caption, and post.

While the original format of Instagram was a lot simpler than the one you see today, the premise still remains the same. Videos shared on Instagram used to be limited to 15 seconds in duration; video posts can be much longer today.

How does it work?

After you set up your Instagram account and set up your profile, you can start by following a few of your favorite celebrities, BFFs, co-workers, etc. You can also see the number of followers you have on your profile.

If you want, you can set your profile to be private, meaning that people need to request to follow you and need you to approve them in order for them to see any of your content. Keep in mind that if your profile is private posts that are hashtagged will not show up on the trending/public page, no matter how many likes you get.

And speaking of likes, they're what people give you when they double-tap your post – a red heart will appear on the photo, and a like-count at the bottom of the picture will show how much love a certain photo is getting. Subsequently, videos no longer gather visible 'likes', instead displaying a view count (although you can still double-tap to like a video).

You can also comment on people's posts if they've left commenting on (you can also turn off comments on posts), share and send a specific post to a friend in a direct message, or tag and save a post so you can come back for it later.

The best advice for Instagram? Follow people you really like and fill your feed with content you love. Don't be afraid to unfollow someone at the risk of losing a follower if they're not posting content that blows you away! Instagram can get very overwhelming, and with it's latest algorithm change, you might not even see everyone you're following.

Elle Hunt, The Guardian

Controversial changes to the photo-sharing platform that were met with widespread outcry … with users around the world reporting a new algorithm-driven feed. What this means is posts appear not in the sequence they were posted by people you follow from oldest to newest, but in one of Instagram's own devising. And Instagram – owned by Facebook – works in mysterious ways.

What's the explore page?

Instagram:

Search & Explore to better tailor it to you. Posts are selected automatically based on things like the people you follow or the posts you like. You may also see video channels, which can include posts from a mixture of hand-picked and automatically sourced accounts based on topics we think you'll enjoy.

To access the Explore page, just tap on the magnifying glass on the bottom of your screen, or the compass beside the heart if you're using Instagram on your desktop.

Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories are Instagram's response to Snapchat/Snapchat Stories, which are a series of photos and videos strung together in a content package that disappears after 24 hours.

While some people find this type of posting a bit redundant and silly because it's only temporary, the trend of 24-hour social media posts has taken off in a big, big way with things like Stories features (although Facebook needs to cool it at this point …)

Instagram:

You'll see stories from people you follow in a bar at the top of your feed — from your best friends to your favorite popular accounts. When there's something new to see, their profile photo will have a colorful ring around it. To view someone's story, just tap on their profile photo. It's easy to view stories at your own pace: tap to go back and forward or swipe to jump to another person's story. If you want to comment on something you see, you can tap and send a private message to that person on Instagram Direct. Unlike regular posts, there are no likes or public comments.

How much does it cost?

Instagram is free as a bee! There aren't any in-app purchases or upgrades, either!

What kinds of things can I do to my photos/videos?

You can either add a filter to your photo or video and be on your merry way, or if you want to get a bit more in-depth with your photo editing, there are options like:

  • Adjust
  • Brightness
  • Contrast
  • Structure
  • Warmth
  • Saturation
  • Color
  • Fade
  • Highlights
  • Shadows
  • Vingette
  • Tilt Shift
  • Sharpen

… Just keep in mind these options are only available for editing photos, not editing your videos.

Other options for posting photos include posting multiple pictures in one post, so you're not flooding news feeds with photo after photo after photo. You can tell a post has more than one photo if there's a little white box in the upper right corner and dots between the description and photo once you tap on it.

What devices can I use to access my Instagram?

You can use your iPhone or iPad to log in, post, comment, like, and do pretty much everything on Instagram, but you can also access your account from a computer, too!

The only major difference is that you cannot edit and post a photo or a video from a computer – you can only look at pictures, like them, and visit the explore page.

Boomerang? Hyperlapse?

Boomerang and Hyperlapse are two apps developed by Instagram that work in tandem with the original, root app.

Boomerang works by taking a super short, super fast burst of photos and stitching them together into a mini video that plays forward and backward and forward and backward and—well, you get the idea. Think of it as a GIF of sorts, but in video mode. These types of posts are popular amongst the Kardashian-Jenner clan.

Hyperlapse works by creating and sharing smooth, clean, time-lapse videos. "It also has some pretty powerful video stabilization tools to smooth out shaky, handheld shots," says iMore's Mikah Sargent.

Where can I download the app?

You can download Instagram right here!

And while you're at it, check out Boomerang and Hyperlapse, too!

Questions?

Hit the comment section below!

Apple to remove signature Fifth Avenue glass cube at cost of up to $2M

Article Image

In the process of renovating its flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York City, Apple will have to dismantle the famous glass cube that sits over top, according to recently published building permits.

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