Mercury contest calls on Earthlings to name craters

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This  view of Mercury was produced by using images from the color base map imaging campaign during MESSENGER's primary mission. These colors are not what Mercury would look like to the human eye, but rather the colors enhance the chemical, mineralogical, and physical differences between the rocks that make up Mercury's surface. Photo: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
The enhanced colors in this image of Mercury highlight differences between the rocks that make up the planet's surface. Photo: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Mercury is the most cratered planet in the solar system, a popular destination for asteroids and comets.

As bleak a place as this sounds, you may be able to give the pockmarked planet some personality.

The team piloting the MESSENGER spacecraft exploring the closest planet to the sun is calling on “all Earthlings” to name some prominent craters after famous people in the arts and humanities.

The deadline is Jan. 15 and inspiration can be found in pictures of the five craters on MESSENGER’s official website.

Facebook Messenger gets the slickest read receipts in town

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Facebook wants to have the slickest read receipts in town. Photo: Facebook
Facebook wants to have the slickest read receipts in town. Photo: Facebook

Read receipts. They’re the first thing I turn off when I get a new messaging app or iOS device. But Facebook is doubling down on read receipts in the new Facebook Messenger, which has new, blisteringly fast notifications showing you exactly what’s going on with your message after you send it.

Zuckerberg explains why Facebook Messenger became its own app

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Mr. Social Network himself. Photo: JD Lasica/Flickr CC
Mr. Social Network himself. Photo: JD Lasica/Flickr CC

From answering trolls online to busting out near-fluent Mandarin in front of a surprised audience, Mark Zuckerberg’s all about defying expectations these days. That trend continued yesterday, as he gave a reasonable (and even Steve Jobsian) answer about why Facebook moved messaging out of its main app and into a standalone Messenger one.

Telling the audience at his first public Q&A that, “I’m grateful for hard questions” and “it keeps us honest,” Zuck noted how:

Pare down your travel kit with this shoulder-saving MacBook Pro sleeve

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Holds just enough to stay productive. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
Waterfield's MacBook Outback Solo holds just enough to keep you productive. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

I’ll admit it — I’ve got a thing for these waxed canvas and leather bags from Waterfield. I’ve ended up using the impeccably designed Staad backpack and the classy Nintendo 3DS case long after my reviews of them were published. These bags and cases from the San Francisco design collective are warm, inviting and just get better with age and use.

Let’s face it, though: Sometimes you only want to carry your laptop and a couple of accessories, and that’s it. Waterfield’s latest design, the MacBook Outback Solo, is a minimalist sleeve made of the same strong canvas material and rich, thick, buttery-smooth leather as the other bags in the line. It can be paired with a carrying strap that turns the sleeve into a messenger bag. While our very own Charlie Sorrel called the iPad version of this bag a man-purse, I’m thinking of this more as a shoulder-saving device — the fewer things I end up having to carry, the better.

This little sleeve is perfect for exactly that.

How to access your Facebook messages in iOS without installing Messenger

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Do you hate the fact that Facebook is forcing you to install the Facebook Messenger app if you want to send or access messages on your iPhone or iPad?

We do too. But luckily, it turns out that right now, there’s an easy way to get around the restrictions and access your Facebook Messages through the vanilla Facebook app again. But better move on it: Facebook’s not likely to let this loophole stay open for long.