The Idea Factory
February 8, 2014

A new plug-in for smartphones called Scentee delivers notifications by scents rather than ringtones. The "smell dongle," which retails for $35, plugs into the headphone jack and contains a small scent cartridge containing "enough fragrant liquid for 100 sprays," said Robert Sorokanich at Gizmodo. Users can program the plug-in to deliver "a scented puff on timed intervals, as an alternative to audio notifications." Users can even link certain smells — including rose, lavender, and coffee — with specific notifications. So if you use it with your phone's alarm clock, you "really can wake up and smell the coffee."

11:32 a.m. ET

Car-hailing service Uber announced on Friday that a data breach left the personal information of about 50,000 drivers vulnerable, The Wall Street Journal reports.

While the company said it discovered the hack in September, it waited nearly five months to report the breach, an amount of time one data-breach expert called "an unusual delay."

Most states leave the exact amount of notification time vague, but the maximum among those that do offer specifics is 60 days. Uber said it has not received any misuse reports from drivers, and noted that the 50,000 affected make up a small percentage of the hundreds of thousands of drivers working with the company.

Going to pot (or not)
10:02 a.m. ET
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Colorado's Marijuana Enforcement Division released its first annual report Friday on the state's legal marijuana market, Time reports.

In 2014, 4.8 million marijuana edibles and nearly 150,000 pounds of marijuana flowers were sold, the authors concluded. The report noted that marijuana flowers were more popular in the medical market, while edibles did better in the recreational market.

The report's findings may influence Colorado's ongoing debate about whether or not to regulate the types of edibles allowed — proponents of limiting the products say some types currently on the market, such as gummy bears, appeal to children and could be accidentally ingested. But the strong sales numbers will likely make it harder to convince the industry to back such limitations.

campaign watch
9:27 a.m. ET

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry's political action committee released a new ad on Friday that aims to set him apart from a crowded 2016 presidential field.

"There's only one individual that's ever had the uniform of this country on, and that's me. And that matters," Perry says in the ad.

Perry joined the U.S. Air Force as a pilot in 1974, leaving with the rank of captain three years later — "He never served in a combat zone," Politico notes.

Perry's ad aired after he spoke about the need for a more aggressive foreign policy at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, saying that, "ISIS represents the worst threat to freedom since communism."

Watch the full ad, below. —Sarah Eberspacher

Foreign affairs
8:59 a.m. ET
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the Friday killing of Boris Nemtsov, Russia's former deputy Prime Minister, and he said in a telegram to Nemtsov's mother that "everything will be done so that the organisers and perpetrators of a vile and cynical murder are punished." 

Nemtsov, 55, was shot four times while walking across a bridge near the Kremlin, BBC News reports. The harsh critic of Putin had served under Russia's first post-Soviet President, Boris Yeltsin, in the 1990s. He became a popular figure in opposition politics after Yeltsin's successor, Putin, came to power.

Western leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and British Prime Minister David Cameron called for a thorough, transparent investigation into Nemtsov's murder.

8:32 a.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday night passed a one-week stopgap bill to fund Homeland Security, after the Senate had passed the one-week extension earlier in the day, Reuters reports.

The 357-60 vote averted a shutdown of the department, although a three-week funding extension was rejected by the House earlier on Friday, because conservatives in the GOP-controlled House refused to vote for that bill, which did not include a section blocking funding for President Barack Obama's executive orders on immigration.

Congress now has a week to work out a bill to fund the department, which includes the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, customs and emergency management authorities, and the Transportation Security Administration.

Last-minute votes
February 27, 2015
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Late Friday evening, the Senate passed a stopgap bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security for one week. The deadline to fund the department expires at midnight Friday. 

Earlier in the day, the House failed to pass a stopgap bill to fund DHS for three weeks, with conservative Republicans abandoning Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in his attempt to prevent a department shutdown.

It remains to be seen whether the House will pass the latest Senate bill.

Republicans in disarray
February 27, 2015
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The House on Friday failed to pass a stopgap bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security for three weeks, with conservative Republicans abandoning Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in his attempt to prevent a department shutdown. The Senate earlier in the day passed a bill to fund the department that stripped curbs on President Obama's recent executive actions on immigration, which House Republicans oppose.

This is the latest in a long series of humiliating setbacks for Boehner, who has failed time and again to corral his restive caucus on important votes.

The deadline to fund the department expires at midnight. It remains to be seen whether Boehner will conjure up a face-saving Plan B, or allow a vote on the Senate measure, hoping it will pass with a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats.

This just in
February 27, 2015
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Boris Nemtsov, Russia's former deputy Prime Minister and harsh critic of President Vladimir Putin's regime, has reportedly been shot dead while walking in Moscow near the Kremlin.

Nemtsov, 55, served under Russia's first post-Soviet President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, but became a popular figure in opposition politics once Yeltsin's successor, Vladimir Putin, came to power.

space stuff
February 27, 2015

Fresh on the heels of the discovery of a supermassive black hole, astronomers have located a medium-sized black hole in the NGC 2276 host galaxy, 100 million light years away.

The black hole is extremely rare, Discovery News reports, and it could be "the missing link in black hole evolution." NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) Network found the black hole, thanks to radio waves "from energetic sources in the cosmos," Discovery News notes.

Intermediate-mass black holes are notoriously difficult to find, and the one in question, NGC-2276-3c, is extremely important to astronomers. The black hole has qualities representative of both stellar-sized black holes and supermassive black holes, Andrei Lobanov of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy told Discovery News, so it "helps tie the whole black hole family together."

The astronomers are researching how NGC-2276-3c reached its host galaxy. They believe the black hole may have formed in a dwarf galaxy before merging with NGC 2276. Studying NGC-2276-3c could help scientists better understand black hole growth and how black holes become supermassive in their respective galaxies.

Innovation of the Week
February 27, 2015
Courtesy Photo

Even the humble padlock is getting a "smart" upgrade, said John Brandon at Wired. A Utah firm called FÜZ Designs has unveiled a Bluetooth-enabled padlock called Noke (pronounced "no key") that can be opened using mobile devices like iPhones and Android phones. To open the $60 lock, just press on the lock's shackle, which triggers the device to search for a paired phone nearby and unlock. If your phone isn't available, don't worry: Noke, which comes in silver or black, also allows users to program the lock with a backup combination. And if the internal battery dies, a terminal on the lock's underside lets you plug in with a new battery for temporary power. "Much nicer than a bolt cutter, right?"

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