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Square Figured Out Which US Cities Had The Most Generous Tippers

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Tipping is a tricky business. Between waiters and cab drivers and barbers, all that extra money can add up. And it doesn't make things any easier that each service tends to have its own guidelines for how much to leave on top of the bill.

Mobile credit card reader Square dug into its user data — that's millions of dollars of payments processed through hundreds of thousands of transactions — to find out how people in 10 big cities across the U.S. treat the tipping dilemma. The company collected data during the month of January from any seller who had the tipping feature of the device turned on, from a restaurant to a hair salon.

According to the data, Chicagoans were the most likely to leave a tip, while Denver residents left the biggest tips overall, coming close to 17%. Customers in Atlanta and Tampa were the least likely to tip, and San Franciscans left the smallest tips, only 15.5% on average.

Here's how the rest of the cities shook out.Best Tippers in America 

SEE ALSO: Meet America's Biggest Philanthropists

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Here's How Tourists Got Around NYC A Century Ago

Why Johann Sebastian Bach Is The Voice Of God

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WHEN John Eliot Gardiner grew up on his family's farm in Dorset, he met Johann Sebastian Bach on the stairs every day. By some remarkable chance, a refugee from Silesia had given the Gardiners a portrait of the composer to keep safe during the second world war. Painted by Elias Gottlob Haussmann in 1748, a couple of years before Bach's death, it was one of a tiny handful of authenticated pictures painted during the great man's lifetime. The young John Eliot found it a bit scary, but he nevertheless developed a lifelong fascination with the composer. Now 70, Sir John, as he has since become, is presenting his reflections about the man and his music in a new book.

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The Future Of The Xbox One Rides On This New Incredibly Cool First-Person Shooter Game — Titanfall

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Titanfall Cover_04

On March 11, videogame fans will finally get their eager thumbs on one of the most breathlessly anticipated new titles of the year. Called "Titanfall," it has taken four years and many millions to produce. And there is arguably more riding on its launch than any game released in recent memory.

The action is set in a futuristic, war-ravaged hellscape in which battling players called pilots man colossal robotic killing machines, or Titans, in a hyperkinetic fight to the death.

A visual and auditory extravaganza that could bring Michael Bay to tears, it’s just about as straightforward as a first-person shooter can be: You’re a guy with some very heavy weaponry, blowing people away before they do the same to you. In other words, it’s a variation on a very old theme. Microsoft is banking on the game to help turn around its console division. But more than that, "Titanfall" may well determine the future of console gaming in general, which is undergoing an identity crisis as consumers are increasingly bewitched by mobile games and quirky titles released by small, indie producers.

Sales of the new Xbox One have lagged behind those of rival PlayStation 4 by a significant margin: Six million PS4s to just 4 million Xboxes so far. Early reviews of Microsoft’s new console were warm but not enthusiastic, and given a steep retail price of $500 (compared to $400 for the PS4) and a relative dearth of titles for the new device, most experts suggested a wait-and-see approach.

Lacking great software, the Xbox One has so far been a little like a Titan without a pilot at the controls: a heaving, unwieldy mass of powerful hardware that kind of just sits there waiting to be brought low by a canny rival.

Screen Shot 2014 03 07 at 9.53.54 AMOne poor, ranting soul on YouTube may have put it best in a cri de coeur posted in mid-January over being shut out of the beta testing program for "Titanfall." At one point, he gestures toward his Xbox One. "That, right now, that fucking thing sitting over there," he says. "Ain't nothin' to play for it."

The troubled Xbox One debut has already claimed a few casualties. Two executives who oversaw Microsoft’s gaming division recently departed the company. After initially agreeing to speak for this story, both Microsoft and Electronic Arts, the developer of "Titanfall," reversed course. There’s a lot at stake, and the PR teams are not taking any chances.

console_side viewThe 50-year history of video games has been, at its root, a long-running contest between platforms — the so-called Console Wars. And there has never been a bigger battle than the one playing out right now between Sony and Microsoft. At the moment, Sony has the clear advantage. But if "Titanfall" lives up to its advance hype — some early reviews are positively rapturous — it may help Microsoft close the gap.

That outcome is by no means assured, however. Hubris has often been the x-factor in the Console Wars, and market leaders routinely fail to recognize how quickly the game can change. The last time around, Sony, which had captured nearly 60 percent of the worldwide market with the PS2, disastrously overplayed its hand by pricing the PS3 at $600. Plus, game-makers said it was notoriously difficult to program for.

This time around, it’s Microsoft that may have misread the market.

PS4’s advantages are clear: Unlike the Xbox One, it isn't a hefty brick of a system with fat, unpliable wires, and it doesn't force users to master an awkward new peripheral like Xbox’s Kinect, to control its games and apps. Crucially, it also costs $100 less. Given its history with the PS3, Sony realized early on that while we might be out of the recession, the rules of frugality that consumers learned during the bad times aren't going away any time soon.PS4_lg

The economic collapse of 2008 has been brutal for gaming. THQ, a 25-year-old company that had revenues of $1 billion in May, 2008 (many of its titles were branded tie-ins like "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and the "WWE" series), liquidated its assets in early 2013, and died with nary a whimper. Many big publishers, including Activision and EA, laid off staff this year as part of a painful retrenchment. The latter shuttered its Los Angeles and its Montreal studios last year after a high-level executive shuffle which saw longtime CEO John Riccitiello step down. (Whether the move was prompted by the Consumerist naming EA "the Worst Company in America" wasn’t specified.)

Meanwhile, consoles themselves don’t have quite the appeal they once did. After the staggering success of the Wii, with sales of more than 100 million, the poor performance of the overly complicated Wii U led Nintendo’s beleaguered president Saturo Iwata to issue two public apologies: first, for the excruciating download times consumers encountered on the console's launch day; then, for a poor financial forecast last month. At this point, the Wii U has sold fewer than 6 million units.

The industry is under increasing pressure from Angry Birds, Candy Crush Saga and the whole array of mobile games, with their cheap price tags, simplistic design and maddeningly addictive gameplay. Even free games like the idiotic but compelling Flappy Bird (R.I.P.) and the many clones that have sprung up in its wake are helping erode the console game market — competing for the money and time of all but the most hardcore gamers. Then, there’s the content-rich Steam service from Valve, a distribution platform for PC gamers that will soon — via a new console called the Steam Box — be playable on users’ TVs.Angry Birds HD Wallpaper

At the same time, indie games like "Gone Home" and "Ridiculous Fishing" are pushing the envelope with clever narrative or innovative design; such games generally retail for $20 or less, compared with to $60 for a new console game. Another plus for mainstream players: They don't require a massive time investment, whereas some console games can take up to 100 hours to complete fully.

The console-makers have come up with two responses. One, they have turned their devices into multimedia hubs. The PS4 allows subscribers to the PlayStation Plus service to watch Netflix or Hulu. The Xbox One is an even more elaborate entertainment device, allowing users to control live TV. Fundamentally, of course, such moves only reinforce the key issue, which is that even hardcore gamers have other services clamoring for their attention.

The second response console-game-producers have come up with is simply making their games so mind-blowing that a phone or tablet can’t possibly compete. That said, the cost of these lavish productions isn't getting any cheaper. Budgets of $100 to $200 million and years of development are becoming more common — risky bets at a time when tastes are fickle and success is far from assured.

Even games that sell a few million copies may not make a healthy profit. For instance, Irrational Games, makers of last year's "BioShock" series for Take-Two Interactive, is shuttering its doors after selling four million copies of its recent "BioShock Infinite."

And even Sam Houser, the reclusive co-founder at Rockstar Games, told me he fretted about the release of "Grand Theft Auto V." Would it sell? "'Grand Theft Auto' is a double-edged sword," Houser told me last year. "The fans want bigger, better — you know, higher quality. ... You have to meet their expectations." It did sell — to the tune of $800 million in 24 hours. But it was probably the only super-huge success story of last year. Even perennial favorite "Call of Duty" didn't do as well as expected with its latest version, "Ghosts."

What To Expect From "Titanfall"

It is into this swirling whirlpool of unease that "Titanfall" will drop next week. A sci-fi military shooter, it is set amid a devastated landscape dominated by an evil mining corporation that is stripping the environment of its natural resources. This is careful, risk-averse narrative territory, to say the least. Similar scenarios have been winning over gamers since the glory days of "Doom" twenty-some years ago.

Where "Titanfall" really breaks new ground is in what it leaves out. A so-called "online only" game, it can only be played over a broadband Internet connection, pitting the user against other players around the world. Unlike Halo or Call of Duty, the biggest franchises in the shooter category, the game has no single-player mode: the scripted, cinematic approach that allows users to immerse themselves in a character and embark on an interactive odyssey.

That said, it’s not a massive multiplayer online game either, like the hugely successful "World of Warcraft" or "EVE Online." Instead, it’s somewhere in between. Players of "Titanfall" are logged on to Microsoft’s servers, where they can team up with friends or be dropped into matches with strangers. Matches consist of two teams of up to six players each and average just 10 minutes in length, a decision that may help the game appeal to players beyond the hardcore shooter crowd.

Certainly, that's the hope of Vince Zampella, the CEO of "Titanfall's" San Fernando Valley-based development house, Respawn Entertainment.

A few weeks ago, I got a chance to play the beta version of "Titanfall." The first surprise was that Zampella and his team have provided a tutorial, spelling out exactly what to do, step by step. Clearly, Respawn is on a mission to bring "Titanfall" to the masses. (Hardcore gamers aren’t eager for such assistance, preferring to claim they already know how to play, puzzle things out on their own, or secretly devour YouTube videos for tips.)

It's a dangerous tightrope to walk, Zampella tells me. "If you say to a core gamer, 'We're going to make the game more noob friendly,' they're going to hate you," he admits with a laugh. "So the goal was to keep that core experience and expand on it. If you were to come and watch our test team — who've played hundreds of hours — play the game, it is such a fast-paced, hardcore experience. But a mid-level group has no less fun. To see that unfold well for both kinds of players means we've hit a good sweet spot. In fact we've made it more hardcore than most games that are out there now. At the same time we've made it inviting to new people. You don't feel 'I can't touch that because everyone's going to be better than me.'"Titanfall Quote_01 (1)

Friendly Fire

Zampella, a college dropout who started out his game development career producing on "NBA Tournament Jam" and a unique, humorous game of strategy called "Baldies" in the mid-1990s before moving on to "Call of Duty," is no longer a kid. In his mid-40s, he has spent decades in the industry and has the war wounds and graying hair to prove it.

In March 2010, Zampella and his then-partner Jason West, whose company, Infinity Ward, had been acquired by Activision following the blockbuster success of the original "Call of Duty" game in 2003, were escorted by security into an Activision conference room and fired. Gamers responded with shock, especially given that the most recent installment of the franchise, "Modern Warfare 2," was well on its way to selling 22 million copies.

Fans of the game were a dedicated bunch. Many invested hours upon hours playing online with friends, bonding, trash-talking and nurturing the kind of couch-potato bromances that have long been the real killer app fueling the video game industry. And they wondered: How could a couple guys get fired after making one of the greatest games of all time?

Zampella and West weren’t just terminated, either; they were sued for breach of contract and insubordination, and Activision refused to pay $36 million in royalties owed. The issue, Activision claimed, was that the pair had held secret meetings with the top executives of its closest competitor, Electronic Arts, in clear violation of their contract.

Indeed, days after Activision filed its suit, Zampella and West signed a deal with EA to begin producing new games, prompting Activision to sue Electronic Arts for $400 million.

As if playing their own real-life version of "Modern Warfare," Zampella and West fired back with a counter-suit, which claimed that they’d been sacked because Activision didn't want to pay those royalties — not just to them but to employees of Infinity Ward, as well. In a press release issued by legal counsel, West talked about how saddened he was after putting "heart and soul" into working for the company.

"After all we have given to Activision," he said, "we shouldn't have to sue to get paid."

Activision countersued, describing how the pair "morphed from valued, responsible executives into insubordinate and self-serving schemers who attempted to hijack Activision's assets for their own personal gain." The company pointed to a meeting arranged by former Xbox executive Seamus Blackley, now West's and Zampella's agent, without Activision's knowledge. It was "a secret trip by private jet to Northern California" to meet with Electronic Arts' then-CEO John Riccitiello.

As the potential lawsuits made their way through the legal system, it was found that an Activision employee had been instructed to hack into West and Zampella's company computers, email exchanges, and cell phones to gather evidence against the pair.

After much public posturing and secret negotiations, the case was settled out of court in May 2012, with Activision ponying up an undisclosed sum.

NEXT: Zampella And West Hit Reset

Hitting The Reset Button

Zampella and West promptly launched a new company, appropriately dubbed Respawn Entertainment, and took most of Infinity Ward's employees with them.

They negotiated a deal with EA that granted Respawn ownership of their intellectual property, which were unusually favorable terms. Better yet, Zampella says EA never interfered in the development process at all. "A game like this is not what EA normally does," he explains. "This game is a little bit scary, the exclusive platform stuff. It's not the obvious choice for a big publisher. They could have lost faith and they didn’t. I give them a lot of credit for that."Screen Shot 2014 03 07 at 9.51.52 AM

In June 2011, Respawn’s website published an intentionally blurry piece of artwork that had game bloggers deconstructing the muddy image like conspiracy theorists poring over the Zapruder film. Zampella says Respawn would like to have been more transparent, but it’s only natural to try to build suspense. "People don't understand — we can't tell you everything because it's not part of our marketing and PR plan. We still have a set way that we're going to unveil this game to build a lot of hype for it."

The production cycle of a AAA game, as the most ambitious and expensive games are dubbed, is not unlike the making of a big action movie. Separate teams work on design, graphics, programming and engineering.

First, though, comes a preproduction process during which ideas are proposed and furiously debated. In Respawn's case, every employee was given the chance to pitch ideas. "We hired a big team really quickly," Zampella recalls. "We had a lot of smart, strong-minded people sitting around with ideas of what we could do. Some of the ideas were not sci-fi at all. There were some single-player-only ideas. There were some single-player/multiplayer ideas. It was a little bit of everything." Zampella whittled the proposals down to "two or three that were real contenders."

Originally, everyone agreed that the game would have to include a single-player element and be playable on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the most recent generation of consoles.

But Zampella couldn’t help thinking maybe there was another way. He recognized, as did most hardcore gamers and industry insiders, that the narrative elements of shooters like "Halo" or "Call of Duty" have always more or less sucked. Though sometimes breathtakingly cinematic, these storylines are essentially window dressing — typically about 10 hours of it — that developers tack on to justify the $60 cost of a game. The amazing graphics, Hollywood actors, and dizzying camera angles are useful marketing tools, but they are also expensive, and are considered cliché by most critics. For instance, in a review of "Call of Duty: Ghosts," Polygon's Russ Frushtick expressed pity for "Superman Returns" star Brandon Routh "for having to read the lines he was given." He was right — the script for "Ghosts" would never have been given the green light by a Hollywood studio, despite the fact that it was written by the screenwriter for "Traffic."

Respawn came up with a new approach: ditching the single-player game entirely and injecting more narrative into the online multiplayer portion of the game. Not only did this strategy likely save the studio money but it may help to reinvent multiplayer games, which have long suffered from a conspicuous lack of storytelling.

"What we wanted to do was bring great story and content to the multiplayer world," Zampella says. "So there'll be missions. You meet characters and they’ll explain the back story of the universe. The story invites you into the franchise and leaves you feeling good about the world."

That said, narrative will always be secondary. "You're still going to be mainly concerned about saving your butt," Zampella admits. "Some people will be so concerned with saving their own butt that they'll miss a lot of the campaign story stuff. Because it really just is flavor on top of the multiplayer game. We don't want to hit you over the head with it. For the people who want to absorb it and notice it, it will be there for them."

The biggest challenge, Zampella says, was making the game equally appealing whether you are playing as a pilot or as a Titan (in a typical match, a player will often switch back and forth). "There are areas in the map where only a pilot can go," he explains. "Those have to be fun and set a certain way. There are areas on the map that have to be more open because that's where Titans can go. Those two pieces have to be interesting on their own and work together. That interplay between the pilot and the Titan — that cat and mouse gameplay — the balance of weaving those together really well is not easy."

Titanfall Quote_02 (1)
Meeting The Monster

In June last year, I traveled to E3, the videogame expo in Los Angeles, where "Titanfall" was unveiled to the public for the first time.

Joel Emslie, the game’s lead artist, is a dedicated, plain-spoken fellow with a beard that's beginning to gray. In a small room off the convention floor, he talked over a live demonstration of the game, while hundreds of fans waited on line outside to get a peek. Onscreen, there was chaos in a futuristic city. Soldiers with jet packs jumped from the side of one building to another in parkour fashion, skipping up walls as easily as they ran along the ground. And then, down they came: giant machines dropping from the sky — the "Titanfall."

"The robots weren't originally going to be as big as they are now," Emslie told us, noting that his first scale model, made by hand from parts salvaged from other action figures and purchased in a modeling store, was only the beginning of a long process of trial and error. He talked for nearly a half hour about how the game was more than a shooter — it was popular art as well.

The bigger bombshell had been dropped one day earlier at a Microsoft press conference, when a company executive revealed that "Titanfall" would launch exclusively on the Xbox One, its new game console. (It will also launch on the PC, and two weeks later, on the Xbox 360.)

This decision had been made without Zampella’s knowledge. "EA made the deal to make it exclusive and we were not privy to that deal," he says.

Screen Shot 2014 03 07 at 9.52.21 AMStill, it seemed like a reasonable call. The Xbox One was receiving breathless pre-release hype as a welcome successor to the wondrous 360. But then came a series of missteps. In one bone-headed move, for instance, Microsoft revealed a digital-rights management scheme that would prevent Xbox One owners from swapping games or trading them in at chains such as GameStop.

Seven hours later, also at E3, Sony held its own press conference to promote the PlayStation 4. Jack Tretton, Sony Computer Entertainment of America’s then-CEO, made a point of declaring outright that Sony was perfectly happy for customers to re-sell games they had already purchased. The crowd of game-makers, journalists, retailers, and financial analysts filling the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena auditorium burst into applause. It got louder. Then many rose to their feet to offer a standing ovation.

Other controversial issues involving Microsoft’s new console emerged. It turned out that Xbox One would not play old Xbox 360 games, a move that infuriated some of the platform’s most dedicated fans. It would have to be powered on at all times — a fact that spurred fears of Big Brother-like surveillance via the Kinect camera. Meanwhile, users would be required to employ the Kinect as a controller even if they didn't want to, waving their arms and shouting commands, like that poor astronaut in "2001: A Space Odyssey," pleading with the computer HAL to open those pod-bay doors.

Finally, Microsoft’s high-handed treatment of indie game developers led many to cozy up to Sony instead.

Even one of the device’s major features — the ability to use it to watch live TV and web videos — became a subject of negative chatter in some circles. At various events, Microsoft marketed the Xbox One as a kind of interactive DVR, which would let you view NFL player stats, for instance, while watching a game. For most of us, this would seem a benefit. Many gamers, though, saw it as a signal that the machine’s makers were hedging their bets.

Still, most onlookers reserved judgment for the console’s launch, knowing that it’s the games themselves that make a device appealing. But when the Xbox One was finally released on Thanksgiving, the available games, including "Ryse: Son of Rome," elicited a collective yawn.

Recognizing it had a problem, Microsoft began to backpedal. It revoked the "always on" edict. It eased some of the rules for independent producers and began courting them in earnest. And it decided gamers could sell their used Xbox One games at their chosen retailers after all.

More recently, it even released the Xbox One Media Remote to free users from the annoying Kinect, letting them access "their TV and entertainment with the touch of a button." The cost, $24.99. en INTL L Xbox One Quartz Media Remote 6DV 00001 RM3 mnco

Less than a month after E3, Don Mattrick, the bland executive who had been overseeing Microsoft’s games division, departed the company in a hurry — for embattled Zynga no less. His replacement, Julia Larson-Green, left her position last week.

In most respects, the launch of the Xbox One — eight years after the 360 — had landed with a thud.

But there was still "Titanfall."

"Titanfall" would be the console’s killer app. It would have to be.

Down To The Wire

Zampella comes off as breezy and calm during our interview, but he’s under intense pressure. During crunch time for a major game, hundreds of animators, programmers, and engineers can be called upon to finish a title. With fewer than 75 employees, Respawn has a relatively tiny headcount. For comparison’s sake, Telltale games, which makes "The Walking Dead" adventure games, which are far less complex to produce than "Titanfall," employs 180 people.

Perhaps in light of tighter margins for video games in general these days, Respawn is a very lean operation.

Which isn’t to say the development of "Titanfall" has been without its casualties. Early last year, Jason West, Zampella's longtime partner, left the company citing family issues and generating no shortage of discussion in the gaming industry. To this day, Zampella won't talk about what happened. Asked whether the erstwhile partners remain on friendly terms, he jokes, "I’m sorry, the connection’s bad. I’m going through a tunnel. I’m going to dodge that one, yeah."

At this point, the real test will come on launch day. And Zampella doesn’t have to look far for a cautionary tale. EA’s earlier forays into online-only gaming have been fraught with problems. Last year’s launch of a revived "SimCity" was plagued by server issues. The most recent version of "Battlefield," EA's answer to "Call of Duty," was so riddled with bugs and crashes on release that the company drew a class-action lawsuit, which is still pending.

"That shouldn't happen with Microsoft," Zampella promises.

Besides, online-only games are nothing new. "EverQuest," which launched in 1999, is still being produced. "World of Warcraft," released in 2004, still has nearly eight million monthly subscribers. But these are desktop-based role-playing games, not fast-paced shooters. "Titanfall" will require exponentially more processing power.

"All the AI and physics are done on the cloud," Zampella points out. "So it takes away from your machine having to do it." He adds that in the past, one player’s machine would act as the server for a particular game, which meant every machine needed extra space in case it was called on for this role. Now that happens in the cloud as well. "It's a more consistent experience," he notes. "You're not like, ‘Hey, today I'm the server so I'm going to do better than everybody because I have an advantage.’"

Of course cloud servers do occasionally go down, especially when demand is high, like when a few million gamers get their hands on a brand new, much-hyped title at the same time.

According to Mike Futter, news editor of Game Informer, "The reason that launch periods are so rough for many online games is that it’s both difficult and costly to bring new servers online quickly to support an early spike that will taper quickly." Perhaps that explains why the company invested $700 million into a new data center in Iowa last year. "Part of what Microsoft is banking on is the ability to spin up additional capacity as needed, with minimal incremental cost," Futter adds.google iowa campus

Microsoft is moving to address the price issue as well — releasing a special package to give the console a boost, which essentially throws "Titanfall" in for free with the cost of the device, along with one free month of Xbox Live, a $70 value in all. "If "Titanfall" doesn’t help move Xbox One units, Microsoft is in big trouble," Futter notes. "For a console that’s only three months old, that’s a drastic reduction and communicates volumes about how Microsoft sees its position in the current market."

That said, if "Titanfall" does significantly turn around sales of the Xbox One, Sony could well find itself playing catch-up. According to Billy Pidgeon, an independent industry analyst who's covered video games since the 1990s, "Exclusivity is potentially a huge win for Microsoft and the Xbox One and a negative for Sony, which established an early lead. I could see the Xbox One making up much of that because of 'Titanfall,' and even pulling ahead." Pidgeon, who estimates that "Titanfall" could sell between four and five million copies in its first week, adds that "Sony needs to have a compelling exclusive as quickly as possible."

Then again, he says, "If 'Titanfall' sells just one or two million in the first week, I would be concerned."

NEXT: Playing "Titanfall"

 

Screen Shot 2014 03 07 at 9.51.24 AMPlaying "Titanfall"

As the game begins, I choose a bulky male or female pilot, along with weapons for my Titan, including a wickedly powerful thing called the Plasma Railgun. A character bearing a suspicious resemblance to Abbie Heppe, Respawn's community manager, ushers me out of the spaceship as the game begins.

If you've ever jumped out of a plane, you’ll recognize the feeling of thrill, panic, gut-butterflies and vertigo that accompanies the beginning of a "Titanfall" match.

Down I go — no parachute, no lifeline. Part of me is thinking, "Oh my god, just let me not get too dizzy because in a second I’ll be fighting for my life." The other part is thinking, "Wheeeeeeeee!"

I jump from a ship into an embattled world that demonstrates the enduring influence of "Blade Runner." Here's a shuttered amusement park. Further on are alleys and buildings that show the ravages of bombardment.

I die within seconds, having taken time to inspect that shuttered amusement park. But moments later, I respawn.

I race down ruined streets, then BAM! I’m engulfed in a spray of blood — a gruesome contrast to the resplendent cherry tree blossoming nearby. Again, I respawn immediately, and this time I begin to experiment with my jetpack. It lets me run on walls like a salamander, pinball off buildings, or perch on a high rooftop to begin picking off opponents. This kind of parkour-type play suggests the influence of "Mirror's Edge," which uses a similar style to move around its futuristic world.

I'm just a soldier at this point, but I'm nimble — considerably faster than the Titan looming nearby. Still, that thing is powerful. Just one rocket can wipe me and my teammates out in an instant. If I time it right, though, I can run up the back of the metal beast, tear open the cockpit, and shoot frenetically until I’ve killed it. I only manage to do this once or twice, and for a task accomplished mostly with my thumbs and index fingers, it’s surprisingly exhausting.

Like so many video games, "Titanfall" makes you feel bigger, better, and more powerful than you do in real life. But it’s only when you get inside one of the giant robots that the full effect becomes apparent. After a few minutes of gameplay, a Titan falls from the sky beside me. I press a button, and in an instant I’m inside, sitting in a cockpit, blasting away at other Titans. When I blow away my first mech, it's like bringing down a moving redwood tree, and I let out this goofy whoop of relief.

It’s only a game. I know that. But I feel elated, accomplished, a nerd warrior of the highest order ...

The feeling fades a moment later, just before my mech is blown to bits by another Titan. I eject from the cockpit, my pilot soaring high into the air. For a moment, I can see the world: the vast, glimmering sea before me, the skyscrapers on the horizon. The Console Wars seem a distant memory from a far-away place.

Then I plummet Earthward, shooting furiously as I fall.

Harold Goldberg, a contributor to The New York Times, is the author of "All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How 50 Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture." Follow him on Twitter @haroldgoldberg.

 

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SEE ALSO: How a New Startup Is Rewiring The Internet

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11 Video Games From The 1980s That Are Better Than Games Today

This Is Steve Ballmer's Favorite Thing About Being Wealthy (MSFT)

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Steve Ballmer Microsoft

It's not unpleasant to be rich and powerful. It's especially not unpleasant to be rich, powerful, famous and retired.

So what's the best perk that Steve Ballmer, who is all of those things, enjoys these days?

During his first public appearance since he left Microsoft a month ago he was asked that question. He was speaking on stage with the dean of Oxford University's School of Business

He laughingly admitted:

I can play just about any golf course I want on the planet. If I can get there someone will take me out to play. I’m a lousy player but I love it.

You thought it would be something bigger and more cosmic? Noooo!

Ballmer, who is 57, also said he's pretty sure he won't spend the rest of his life playing golf "all day, every day."

He's currently "rebooting," and looking around for something new to jump into.

We'll have to wait and see if that means he'll join another company, join his friend Bill Gates in saving the world or do something else altogether, like become a really good golfer.

SEE ALSO: The fabulous life of tech billionaire Marc Benioff

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The 10 Best Ellipticals On The Market Right Now

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San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval on Elliptical

Spring is a time for new beginnings, which means it's the perfect time to set a fitness goal.

But you'll need the right equipment, whether you're an athlete in training or just interested in general wellness.

We turned to the experts at FindTheBest to help us narrow down the 10 best ellipticals you can buy. 

FindTheBest ranked the ellipticals based on data from TreadmillDoctor.com 2014 and Fitness-Equipment-Source.com 2014 Rating, the machine's warranty and features like display type, mechanical features and number of programs.

10. Smooth Fitness CE 5.5 ($2,998)

The CE 5.5 is a standard home elliptical with an adjustable stride length between 18 and 21 inches and 24 levels of resistance. It includes 26 preset workout programs. 

9. NordicTrack ACT Commercial 10 ($2,999)

The ACT Commercial 10 is a high-tech exercise machine that fits in small spaces. It's half the length of a traditional elliptical and has a 10-inch web enabled color touchscreen that delivers personalized workouts from iFit. 

8. Spirit Fitness XE295 ($1,599)

The XE295 allows you to adjust your pedal angle and handle position. It's built for someone who values feedback on his or her workout. The center console wirelessly tracks heart rate and which muscles in your body are minimally and maximally activated throughout your workout.

7. TRUE ES700 ($4,099)

The ES700 has handles designed to fit a large range of motion during your workout. Side-steps on the elliptical make it the industry's first to provide an upper-body only workout.

6. Smooth Fitness CE 9.5 ($3,999)

The CE 9.5 offers workouts with 19- to 25-inch adjustable stride length, which is above average. Varying the stride length accommodates people of different heights as well as targets different muscle groups if you vary the stride length during your own exercise.

5. Sole Fitness E35 ($1,300)

The E35 includes a built-in cooling fan and speakers. It's driving mechanism is very quite and works in forward and backward motion.

4. Smooth Fitness AGILE DMT X2 ($1,899)

The Agile DMT focuses on cardiovascular performance, caloric burn and decreasing stress and strain on joints. The design keeps your toes in front of your knees while you workout, providing a more natural step-forward motion. 

3. Vision XF40 Touch ($3,399)

The XF40 Touch features a welded-steel frame with folding pedal arms. The touch console includes a 10-inch HD display and workout planning and tracking programs. A wireless chest strap to monitor your heart rate comes free with the elliptical.

2. Precore EFX 835 ($7,495)

The EFX 835 is a cross-ramp elliptical with moving handle bars. It angles from angles from 13 to 40 degrees with 15 preset programs and 20 resistance levels.

1. TRUE ES900 Escalate ($4,499)

The ES900 is a cross-trainer machine designed to give you a full body workout. Its handles rotate 360, plus the elliptical offers cardio programming, 33 preset workouts, plus iPod integration to track your progress.

SEE ALSO: Most People Are Using The Elliptical Machine The Wrong Way

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Man Sues Casino After Drunken $500K Loss

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las vegasIt wasn't just Denver Bronco fans who had a tough Super Bowl weekend this year.

A gambler is suing a Las Vegas casino after he lost $500,000 playing blackjack and pai gow, arguing he should not pay his debt because the establishment in question got him drunk.

52-year-old Californian Mark Johnston is suing the Downtown Grand because they plied him with free drinks and lent him money while he was inebriated. The lawsuit relates to a 17-hour period on January 30 and 31, the Thursday and Friday prior to the Super Bowl this year.

According to Johnston's lawsuit, he was served roughly 20 drinks in that time. His lawyer, SeanLyttle, argued it was unheard-of for a casino to allow someone to lose such a large amount while clearly intoxicated.

(Read more: Macau casino stocks set for 'watershed' year)

A statement read: "Mr Johnston, an experienced gambler, was dropping chips on the floor, confusing chip colors and slurring his speech badly, and he was unable to read his cards or set his hands properly."

Before he arrived in Sin City, Johnston was given $250,000 in credit which was increased to $500,000 while he was gambling, the lawsuit read.

Johnston told CNN in an interview: "Just picture a drunk walking the street and he's drunk, and someone pickpockets and takes his money from him. That's how I characterize it.I feel like it's the days of old Vegas, the way they've been extorting me with letters and attorneys."

(Read more: Sun International affected by poor casino revenue)

If Johnston's suit is successful, a large part of Las Vegas' gambling revenue – and Nevada's state coffers -- could come under threat. According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the state's casinos reported a total "gaming win" of $884,203,134 in January this year. The AGA's 2013 Survey of Casino Entertainment revealed that in 2012, American casinos employed 332,075 people, contributed $8.6 billion in direct gaming taxes and earned $37.34 billion in gross gaming revenue.

Don't booze and bet

The American Gaming Association (AGA) notes that of the 23 states with commercial casino gaming, 13 are allowed to offer free alcohol to their patrons, including Nevada. It adds that not all the states thus allow free alcohol and that "the vast majority of guests consume alcohol responsibly or choose not to drink at all.

"Avid casino players like to be at the top of their game and therefore avoid the consumption of alcohol."

(Read more: Bitcoin casino gaming premature: Pro)

The AGA does say that casino companies must adhere to strict policies regarding alcohol service: "A combination of regulatory requirements and company programs are in place to prevent customers who are visibly intoxicated from entering or remaining in a casino or from being served more alcohol."

The Nevada Gaming Control Board is investigating the Downtown Grand casino to see whether it violated regulations, the chief of the board's regulation enforcement division, Karl Bennison, told CNN.

The state of Nevada does not allow people who are "visibly intoxicated" to gamble and they are not allowed to provide free drinks to inebriated customers.

The casino has so far declined to comment to news outlets.

Could this happen in Europe?

Simon Halberstam, head of technology and gambling law at U.K law firm Kingsley Napley, told CNBC that Johnston's case was not straightforward due to gambling laws being different all around the world and that therefore there would not necessarily be copy-cat lawsuits elsewhere.

"The point is that happened in Las Vegas and is subject to US Federal and State law," he said in a telephone interview. "If it were in the UK, he might well have a case because there are all sorts of rules about people running these establishments making sure the people who play are effectively fit to play in terms of psychological condition, their age, and their general make-up."

However, Halberstam did emphasize that in the U.K. gambling laws focus on vulnerable individuals who are "problem gamblers." He did highlight that this case should make it clear that cheap or free drinks in casinos were dangerous.

"In the U.K. we are more interested in people who have psychological or other on-going issues; there is not much discussion regarding the context of alcohol," he said. "If a casino in the U.K. introduced alcohol at a major discount that would potentially be a problem because they would be inducing vulnerability."

Robert West, the Editor-in-Chief of the science journal, Addiction, told CNBC that there was a responsibility on Johnston to anticipate what his time at the casino would entail.

"The defendant knew what he was letting himself in for in terms of the temptation to drink when he signed up for the gambling spree,"Wood said. "It goes to an issue of responsibility on people to anticipate temptation and if there is a risk they can't deal with it, to keep themselves out of harm's way."

He added: "The casino is doing what they do and have always done. He presumably knew that when he started."

As Halberstam said, "A first-time scenario like this where a person gets drunk? I don't think there's anything (law) that would stop that."

—By CNBC's Kiran Moodley. Follow him on Twitter @kirancmoodley

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Silicon Valley's Top Matchmaker Tells Us What Techies Should Wear On A Date

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amy andersen linx dating

Silicon Valley professionals get a bad rap for being uncreative when it comes to personal style. The common stereotype is that engineers live in hoodies, jeans, and flip flops, while venture capitalists constantly rock fleece vests and v-neck sweaters.   

Menlo Park-based matchmaker Amy Andersen has seen her fair share of young professionals sporting these uniforms. She founded Linx Dating in 2000 when she saw that a surprising number of professionals were having trouble navigating the Silicon Valley dating scene. Since then, she's coached a wide network of people in the tech, financial, and health care industries to better position themselves for success in dating. 

Andersen shared her take on style in Silicon Valley as well as some tips for what young professionals should be wearing to impress their dates. 

Business Insider: Do you think there's a Silicon Valley dress code? 

Amy Andersen: There is a definite Silicon Valley aesthetic and culture. The mentality is you want to fit in here and you don't want to stand out.  Employees want to blend into their company culture.  I have heard stories about people taking jobs at Facebook, as an example and, before the job started, dying her hair to be a mousy brunette so as not to stand out too much as a platinum  blonde. 

With the kinds of perks that Google or Facebook or Palantir, for example, offer to employees, it is easy to see why an employee on the margin might stay at work rather than venture out and would certainly not focus on fashion. The goal is to work and stay on the company campus, while having some fun too. If you think about it, the culture at these companies for 20- and even early 30-somethings is not unlike the dorm experience at a top university — project teams bond over what they do all day. It’s more about living to work than it is about working to live, and so you do everything together.  

In Silicon Valley, in the fields of tech and engineering, there's no focus on outward appearance unless you have a client-facing role, like in leadership or sales. In that case, you are expected to be polished and dress the part.  

Expression outside of the campus environment is totally different — techies and those in those circles express themselves through a variety of ways to their inner sanctum of friends. This could be through the new Italian wheels in their garage at home, artwork displayed on their walls, recently purchased memberships at private social clubs like The Battery in San Francisco, or epic new multimillion dollar pied-a-terres in San Francisco. 

sv styleBI: Is the clichéd hoodie a reality in the tech community? 

AA: For many, hoodies are a way of life in the tech community, as fleece vests are a way of life in the venture capital and hedge fund community. I see a ton of guys (and girls) walking around town in their respective company hoodies. 

Let’s not just focus on hoodies though!  Tons of guys wear frog feet shoes "5 finger footwear."  They say it is good for posture. I think they’re completely hideous and a huge fashion offense!

The Adidas black and white sneakers are very popular, and backpacks are a way of life here as well. The ironic thing is most all of the major fashion houses for women are using backpacks for Spring 2014 as part of their look for women — not a Jansport backpack but more Chanel, Louis Vuitton, or Chloe. 

BI: How often are wardrobe consultations part of your coaching? 

AA: A few times a month. Some clients hire me to do this for them and other times I match the client to the right stylist according to their budget and personality. I have a roster of great stylists for every type of person that contacts me. 

BI: What kinds of things do you tell your clients as far as dressing better? 

AA: First impressions are so important. If you are coming from work, do what it takes to put your best foot forward and freshen up. No one likes a sweaty, frazzled date!

Women will often put a lot of time and thought into their first date outfit. It is not uncommon for her to get a manicure, maybe even buy a new dress. A woman doesn't need a guy to look impeccable, but she does want him to look presentable ... “Nice” could be a pressed dress shirt and nice pair of dark denim, brown belt, nice brown loafers or dress shirt and pair of Banana Republic khakis. This is not hard to achieve and will send a signal that a man is taking the early stages of dating seriously.

rag & bone teeBI: What should guys wear out on a date? 

AA: This is all situational and depends on the context of the date. It also depends on the person largely.  If going for sushi and cocktails, throw on dark denim, a cool t-shirt, and unstructured blazer for a little bit of an edgy look. If you are reading this and saying, “Huh?” then do dark denim and a Rag & Bone basic long-sleeve t-shirt with the right shoes. That is definitely more Silicon Valley code for casual, yet on the right guy and body could look totally hot.

If it's a more dressy date, I would suggest a nice pair of slacks and dress shirt or fantastic blazer paired with dark denim, gorgeous loafers (or drivers), and a dress shirt with cuff links. Totally polished, put together, and making a stand-out impression. 

BI: What should women be wearing out on a date? 

AA:  Like advice I would give to men, let’s start with being confident. Once you are there, rock it out and have fun with your clothing. What men tell me they find appealing is a woman who is confident and sexy in her own skin. 

linx fashion showAt Linx I get a lot of demands for a woman who is classic, ladylike, stylish, not trying too hard, not showing too much skin, but perfectly presentable.  For better or for worse, men are impossibly visual creatures. A universal message is that men like a woman who accentuates her figure.

What does that mean from a style perspective?  Think more Olivia Palermo than Pamela Anderson.  For a casual to more dressy date, do a pair of skinny pants, a great silk tank style top, an edgy leather jacket (so hot for Spring 2014), the right costume jewelry, and some nude pumps. If it’s a fancy sort of restaurant and you want to seal the deal, do a body hugging Herve Leger bandage dress paired with a great blazer, hair in a loose bun atop the head or at the nape of the neck, and statement heels.  

BI: Why is style important to dating more effectively? 

AA: I would say style and first impressions are important considering people generally make up their mind in the first 60 seconds if they are interested in getting to know you better romantically or not. Why not do everything you can to substantially increase your odds of success from the start? 

SEE ALSO: Here's What Silicon Valley's Top Matchmaker Tells Her Clients Before They Head Out On A Date

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5 Subliminal Sex Messages Hidden In Ads For Wholesome Brands

What You Need To Know About The Construction Of A Suit Jacket

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Screen Shot 2014 03 03 at 9.27.29 AM

There are a lot of things I don’t know about guys’ style. Yes, still. And while I usually turn to Google with the questions I don’t want you guys to know I don’t know, sometimes I have the benefit of being able to turn to uber-knowledgeable friends for a style primer.

Recently, I asked my pal Jon of FoSG (that’s “Friend of Style Girlfriend”) Evolution of Style for a breakdown on suit jacket construction, and he went to town. Let’s learn together shall we?! Take it away, Jon:

Probably the most misunderstood aspect of buying a suit for a consumer is the construction.

Why does one suit cost $200 vs another that is $2000.  Part of that price is fabric quality and is easy to pick out just by feeling it and having a basic understanding of the fabric grade, which I covered in this post.

The more difficult and important part to buying a suit is the actual construction. A lot of you have probably heard about a full canvased, half canvas, and fused suits, but what does that really mean and what are you paying for?

Full Canvas

A full canvas suit is how suits were made in the past, with a horsehair canvas underneath the wool shell of the suit. As you can see from the image above, the canvas runs from the shoulder to the end of the jacket. Over time as you wear the suit the canvas forms to your body, which creates a more uniform and free moving fit. When you buy a bespoke suit with this the fit even better over time even as your body may change.

The main reason you don’t see this type of work on all suits is cost. The amount of detailed stitch work that is required to sew the canvas to the shell is extensive and takes a lot of skill. These suits are only assigned to master tailors that have had years to perfect the skill.  As you can see from the image above there are multiple parts that all must come together in harmony to create a great suit.  Overall, a full canvas jacket should be an investment piece that you plan to wear for a long time. Stay away from trendy patterns, and stick with the classics. Tailors working in made to measure or bespoke will recommend this option, as the quality and construction will last you for a lifetime if cared for properly.

Half Canvas

The next level down, quality-wise, is the half canvased suit. It gives the structural benefit of a full canvas but cuts down on the cost to you usually by around $200.  The construction allows the suit to drape naturally over your chest without seeming stiff which is what happens with a fused suit. At Evolution of Style, I typically recommend a half canvas suit to my clients because you get the quality workmanship of a head tailor, but it won’t break your bank account.  These jackets also last longer and you avoid any bubbling issues that come up over time with fused jackets as the glue breaks down.

Fused Suit

Even if you don’t know it, you’re probably most familiar with fused jackets. That’s because this is what you typically find with an off the rack suit. What this means is that a fusable lining is glued to the shell of the suit. This does a good job of keeping the cost down, but the jacket will appear stiff and will not adjust to your body over time. Fusing methods and materials have improved greatly over time, but the glue will still break down with wear and dry cleaning. One way to offset the fused look is to go with heavier weight wool, such as a tweed or an English wool. These heavier wools will drape better over your body and give more of a structured look. For a primer in wool types, read this.

…A big thanks to Jon for dropping some suiting knowledge. I know I learned a lot.

SEE ALSO: The Ultimate Guide To Putting On A Tie

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The States That Love Wine The Most [MAP]

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People in Washington D.C. and New Hampshire love wine. West Virginians and Mississippians are less enthusiastic about their Merlot and Pinot Grigio.

We recently made a map showing wine consumption around the world, and now with data provided to Business Insider by the Beverage Information Group, we have brought that comparison home to the United States.

Here is how much wine per person each state consumed in 2013:

United States wine consumption map

The nation's capital is completely dominant in wine drinking. Residents of Washington D.C. consumed nearly 26 liters of wine per person in 2013. Outside of  D.C., wine is most popular in the Northeast, the West, and Florida. 

Here is a table showing the numbers:

united states wine consumption table

SEE ALSO: How To Pay Less For A Bottle Of Wine

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The 15 Coolest Airbnb Rentals In New York City

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nyc airbnb

Airbnb rentals offer a great alternative to hotels for travelers around the world. 

But nowhere is the apartment-sharing service more popular than in New York City — according to a study released by Airbnb last October, the company generated $632 million in economic activity in one year and supported 4,580 jobs across the city's five boroughs. 

We've picked out some of our favorite listings in the Big Apple. They all have something unique to offer, from wide-open lofts with incredible views to cozy, artistic walk-up apartments. 

Live like a celebrity in this huge apartment in SoHo.

This two-bedroom Crosby Street loft is enormous by NYC standards, and its modern decor makes it a stunning place to spend the night. The second bedroom comes with its own separate living and dining area. 

Cost: $650/night 

Accommodates: 4

Neighborhood: SoHo



Stay close to all of the East Village hot spots.

A wide collection of antiques gives this one-bedroom apartment a good deal of rustic charm, plus all of the East Village's popular bars and restaurants are nearby. 

Cost: $165/night

Accommodates: 2

Neighborhood: Alphabet City



Rent out a private room in this gorgeous Brooklyn brownstone.

Airbnb users can rent a room in either the basement or upper floor of this Moroccan-inspired home. They can also make use of green space in the backyard. 

Cost: $85/night

Accommodates: 3

Neighborhood: Fort Greene



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Meet The Richest Person In 34 Major Countries

23 Photos That Show Why New Jersey’s Beautiful Revel Casino Is Struggling

Here's What Successful People Eat For Breakfast

Meet The Secretive 24-Year-Old Woman From Hong Kong Who Is The World's New Youngest Billionaire

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kowloon hong kong

A secretive 24-year old woman from Hong Kong recently took the title of world's youngest billionaire, according to Forbes' latest data, displacing 29-year old Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz.

She's so under-the-radar, Forbes and other publications have failed to find a verifiable photo of her. But thanks to public business records, they know her name: Perenna Kei.

Unlike Moskovitz and many of the other young billionaires on Forbes' list, Kei's wealth was inherited, not self-made.

Her father, Ji Haipeng, is the chairman and CEO of Logan Property Holdings, where Kei is currently a non-executive director. The company focuses on residential property development and owns subsidiaries in mainland China.

Kei's reported net worth comes out to $1.3 billion, thanks to an 85% stake in her father's company through different companies and a family trust. Her father is still listed as an interested party in her shares. Wealth intelligence firm Wealth-X estimates her liquid assets at $6.5 million, and found her listed as the sole owner of Dragon Jubilee Investments, Gao Run Holdings and Thrive Ally, all investment companies based in the British Virgin Islands.

Several sources report that Kei graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and finance from the University of London. Wealth-X puts her graduation date at August 2011, though she had been serving as director of Logan Property Holdings since May 2010. She also reportedly studied for a Diploma in Economics at the Singapore Institute of Management, according to Wealth-X.

Kei's wealth reportedly increased when Logan Property Holdings was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in December 2013. The company made some $190 million in its IPO, according to Wealth-X.

Kei currently resides in Tsim Sha Tsui, a trendy neighborhood in Kowloon, Hong Kong, according to Wealth-X. She is one of 42 new female billionaires to make Forbes' 2014 list.

SEE ALSO: Meet The Richest Person In 34 Major Countries

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Google Ventures Founder Sells Palo Alto Home Next To Tim Cook's For $3 Million [PHOTOS]

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Maris HOTD

Bill Maris, founder and managing partner of Google Ventures, has sold his Palo Alto home for its asking price of $2.85 million, according to Realtor.com.

The home has four bedrooms and a beautifully modern design, but the most interesting part of it may be who happens to live next door. 

Maris' former home actually shares a small piece of land with a similarly designed house belonging to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Cook reportedly bought the modest, 2,095-square-foot condo for $1.9 million back in 2010, around the same time Maris moved in.  

The decision to keep a rival close by is interesting, especially considering that other tech executives like Marissa Mayer and Mark Zuckerberg have been known to buy surrounding properties just to keep other people away. 

Maris reportedly moved to Mountain View in 2012, meaning that Tim Cook will soon have a brand-new neighbor. 

The 2,065-square-foot home is situated at the end of an ultra-private driveway, to the rear of Cook's home.



Enter through this glass-paned front door.



The entryway is decorated with some pretty interesting modern art.



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Here's A House In Scotland For The Ultimate Survivalist

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Scottish bunker

For all you survivalists out there, here's a chance to own your very own bunker. A Cold War-era nuclear bunker located in Pertshire, Scotland is up for auction later this month in Edinburgh for a guide price of £200,000 (or $332,680 dollars). 

The 26,000-square-foot, two-story hideaway house was built in 1990 to protect Scots during the growing nuclear threats from the Cold War, according to The Daily Mail

According to Future Property Auctions, which is selling the home, this property located on the Cultybraggan Camp is "one of the last and most technologically advanced Bunkers ever built specifically in relation to the Cold War threat." 

The bunker sits two miles south of the small village of Comrie in Pertshire. It is only two hours driving distance to Glasgow and Edinburgh.



It is surrounded by a security fence in Cultybraggan Camp, which was originally built to keep Nazis during World War II.

Cultybraggan Camp



The bunker reportedly cost the Scottish government more than £30 million ($50 million) to build, and was sold by the Ministry of Defence in 2007.





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Here's Where The Highest Rollers Sleep At Atlantic City's Water Club Hotel [PHOTOS]

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Atlantic City New Jersey Revel Casino Resort 1

Atlantic City's Water Club is nothing if not deserving of its name. Fountains abound, along with pools, spas, and saunas all within a heavy tropical atmosphere.

It feels like a resort, with guests enjoying palm trees poolside without ever leaving the building.

But there are parts of the Water Club  a high-end property attached to the behemoth Borgata Hotel & Casino  that most visitors will never see. The hotel's high-roller suites, called residences, are tucked neatly away on their own private floor, far above the pools and restaurants enjoyed by guests.

Up in the residences, there is a massive, private hot tub, 24-hour butler service, and a kitchen that serves meals delivered from any of the hotel's gourmet restaurants.

The only thing residence guests must leave their rooms for is the casino floor, because that's why they're here at the Water Club in the first place. The residences cannot be rented for any price and are given free of charge to the casino's biggest spenders.

That exclusivity is not a joke: The largest headliners to perform at the hotel will stay a couple floors below the Residences in beautiful, but far less well appointed rooms of their own.

The 2000-room Borgata and adjacent 800-room Water Club are hard to miss on Atlantic City's skyline.



When guests first enter the Borgata, the massive hotel and casino complex connected to the Water Club, they're met with this incredible glass sculpture hanging over their heads by artist Dale Chihuly.



The Water Club hotel is attached to the Borgata but has its own swanky lobby.



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