I tried Silicon Valley’s favorite ‘brain-enhancing’ drugs


It’s 3 p.m., and I am crushing my e-mail inbox. At this time of day, I’m typically struggling to stave off the post-lunch slowdown by downing another cup of coffee or two. But today, message after message is flying off my fingertips effortlessly—work e-mail, personal e-mail, digital errands I’d been meaning to run for months. I’m in the zone, as they say, and for this burst of late afternoon productivity, I might have nootropics to thank.

Nootropics—the name given to a broad class of so-called “cognitive-enhancing” drugs—are all the rage in Silicon Valley these days. Programmers like nootropics because they’re said to increase productivity and sharpen focus without the intensity or side effects of a prescription drug like Adderall or modafinil. Some users mix their own nootropics using big bins of powders, purchased off the Internet or in supplement stores. And some take pre-made “stacks” that are designed to produce specific effects.

Nootropics aren’t new—the word…

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HTC And Valve Have Cracked The VR Code


“I’ve been doing this for fifteen years,” I told HTC’s mild-mannered demo wrangler at MWC today. “And this is the first time I’ve been actually excited about a technology in five.”

He had just walked me through one of the best demos I had ever seen. It was the HTC Vive, a sensor-studded helmet with dual hand controllers that allowed me to enter almost a dozen alternate universes as real and as exciting as the real world. When I say I was impressed, amused, and excited, trust me. This was one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time and I am thrilled that I got to be part of it.

The Vive, which is in its development stage, is essentially an immersive VR goggle set that ascertains your position using pulsing laser lights. Sensors on the mask triangulate your height and X/Y/Z coordinates based on the…

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Instagram Starts Letting Ads Be Clickable


Instagram never allowed URLs to open, until now. It wanted people browsing photos, not the web. But Instagram says its advertisers demanded more vivid ways to influence people that “lead to meaningful results for their businesses.”

Brands want measurable impact, not to be breezed by. Meanwhile, Instagram wants to court ecommerce companies that want people to click-through and buy, and big-ticket advertisers like car companies that need more than a single image to show off their product.

So for the first time, Instagram will start showing clickable links, but only in its new multi-photo carousel ads that can tell a story by letting you swipe through four branded images in sequence. The new “Learn More” button that houses these links will open a URL in an internal browser within Instagram that allows you to quickly jump back to the feed with a tap of the top bar.

“It’s a great…

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Watch the New SNL Promo Reveal Chris Hemsworth’s True Purpose on Earth


In the promos for this weekend’s Saturday Night Live, Kate McKinnon reveals Chris Hemsworth’s true purpose on Earth. Naturally, he is “a normal guy engineered in the future and sent back in time to save us,” according to McKinnon.

What else do we learn about Chris Hemsworth in the promos? He’s never seen Dirty Dancing, he’s a weather god, and he thinks people are “wrong” if they say that Liam is the hot one.

Hemsworth hosts SNL March 7 with Zac Brown Band.

This article originally appeared on EW.com.

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Four signs the Supreme Court will rule for Obamacare — and four signs it won’t


The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard a round of oral arguments in a major case that threatens to throw the Affordable Care Act into a tailspin, but it’s too early to tell how the Justices will decide.

In the words of NBC’s Pete Williams, it’s “impossible to predict” how they’ll rule.

The case revolves around a handful of words in the law colloquially known as Obamacare, and centers on a key question: Does the federal government have the power to issue tax credits to people signing up for health insurance through the exchanges established by Obamacare?

The plaintiffs in the case argue it doesn’t, and that the government shouldn’t have the ability to offer subsidies in 37 states that declined to set up their own health-insurance exchange.

If the Obama administration loses, millions of people could lose their health-care subsidies in the snap of a finger.

Let’s run down the…

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