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    August 28, 2015
    Facebook Passes 1 Billion Users At Once

    Facebook is everywhere these days.  People have to log into it for pretty much every purpose.  Restaurant menus, new movies, oh, and also to keep up with friends, share pictures, chat, and all that other good stuff.  Facebook is not just popular in the United States however; Facebook is a worldwide phenomenon and that global reach is what really has made a difference in the social network battle of the early 00s.  Facebook passed one billion concurrent users at once on Monday, a huge milestone for the company.

    “We just passed an important milestone. For the first time ever, one billion people used Facebook in a single day. On Monday, 1 in 7 people on Earth used Facebook to connect with their friends and family,” said Mark Zuckerberg in, what else, a Facebook post. “When we talk about our financials, we use average numbers, but this is different. This was the first time we reached this milestone, and it’s just the beginning of connecting the whole world.”

    I don’t have a Facebook account anymore, having deleted mine a long time ago.  Amazingly, this still causes problems for me when it comes to attending events, tracking food trucks, and even getting invited to things by my friends.  When everyone but you uses Facebook, it’s pretty easy to be left out of the loop.

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    August 26, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Google “Tomatina”

    Via Reddit

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    August 19, 2015
    iPods Get Shelved In Apple Store Shuffle

    Back in the day, the iPod was Apple’s biggest money-maker.  That was before iPhones and iPads and the like, back when digital music needed a dedicated physical thing to carry it around in, before you could just stream your songs from the cloud wherever you went and before iTunes kept all your songs at your beck and call across all iDevices.  Those were the glory days for MP3 players, and now in the twilight of that golden era, the iPod is getting the brush off, literally.  The once venerable iPod is getting moved off the demo tables to the shelves, with the other accessories like phone cases and headphones.

    Also going away are the Apple Smart Signs, that have all the information about the products on the demo table.  They’re aiming for a clean, sharp, neater look, and having flashy iPad signs isn’t the way to do that.  They’re also pulling most of the products off shelves and putting them in drawers below display items.  The displays themselves are also getting changed up, with acrylic stands getting replaced by universal iPhone docks as ways to highlight the product on display (and sell a few more accessories at the same time).

    Apple also plans to change wood grain in their stores, which is an interesting change.  Product packaging is also getting a glamorous reboot, so while you’ll be able to just go pick up an iPod in the box and take it to the register, at least the box will look fancier?

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    August 15, 2015
    AT&T Helped The Government Spy On You

    The Internet is a vast and wild place where anything is possible, both good and bad.  Of course, there are agencies where freedom and openness are bad things, not good things, and one of them is America’s most secretive spy organization, the NSA.  They’re spying on everyone pretty much all the time, at least that’s what everyone assumes.  Not surprisingly, the NSA had a little help with its observation of foreign diplomats and other interesting folks.  The National Security Agency used AT&T to spy on emails for decades.

    From 2003 until 2013, and possibly now, the NSA used AT&T to monitor the Internet for terrorists.  Given AT&T’s unique position as the company who basically owned the telecom industry for decades, they’ve got enough partners, parents, siblings, and underlings to keep an eye on a lot of stuff, and they’re one of the groups that controls the skeleton that powers the Internet.  Hence, a unique partnership opportunity for the NSA and a way for AT&T to be a good corporate citizen at the cost of everyone’s freedom.  Troublesome if true, and if Edward Snowden is vouching for it, it’s probably legitimate information.

    “We don’t comment on matters of national security,” an AT&T spokesman said.

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    August 11, 2015
    The Apple Rumor Mill Fires Up

    It’s been awhile since the last big Apple launch, and that was the Apple Watch, which has proven to be a pretty good success, even if it hasn’t remade the world in Apple’s image.  Still, it’s been awhile since we’ve heard anything about a new iPad, iPhone, or other iDevice, so that means the rumor mill has started churning about some possible new announcements from Apple.  Here are some of the rumors surrounding Apple at the moment.

    A lot of these can be considered something less than rumors and something more like expectations.  There’s going to be an upgraded iPhone (probably the 6S) within the near future, where they have apparently thickened the case aluminum at key points to resist bending and pocket shattering.  There’s going to be a new iPad, dubbed the iPad Pro in an attempt to capture more of the professional market.  There’s going to be another Apple TV-type device, because that seemed to work out well last time and it’s been awhile since the last refresh of Apple TV.

    The question isn’t what’s going to happen, but when it’s going to happen.  That’s where the digging has been taking place.

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    July 31, 2015
    The Oldest Phone In San Francisco

    I was a hold-out on upgrading from a dumbphone to a smartphone for the longest time, digging my heels in and refusing to bend to modern times until I finally got tired of everyone else having the internet in their pocket and the ability to look anything up at any time.  It wasn’t the peer pressure so much as a desire to finally be unencumbered from having to ask other people to do things for me that I couldn’t do, like buy concert tickets online from a coffee shop without a computer or look up the number of things I wanted to call while driving.  However, I eventually caved in.  I just wonder if the writer of “What It’s Like to Have the Oldest Phone in San Francisco” is going to do the same.

    I really have to admire her dedication to her candy bar phone.  Even though I held off on smartening up for a long time, I still got the occasional upgrade.  Eventually it just seemed like too much hassle to keep a dumbphone, when for basically the same price package I could upgrade and get a smartphone (the lack of physical keyboard on every available dumbphone didn’t help).  One thing in her favor:  you can’t argue with buying that many minutes for $100.  That’s pretty amazing, especially these days.

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    July 22, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Drone Wednesday

    Via Reddit.

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    July 21, 2015
    Reasons to Upgrade To Windows 10

    Every time I get on my computer, at the bottom of my screen on the right, I see a little window icon that reminds me daily that I will soon be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for absolutely nothing.  Part of me is interested, of course, but part of me is also afraid because, well, upgrading can be dangerous, particularly when you’re running a lot of older games and software like I do.  Still, Microsoft is pushing hard to get people to upgrade with a full-court press of information on Win 10. They’ve also made a video.

    YouTube Preview Image

    I’m not entirely put at ease by the update offer, because I just have one laptop and once that goes, I’ll have no computers so I need to protect it as best I can, and installing a buggy launch day version of a new OS isn’t the best way to do that.  Still, it’s very tempting.  If I could find the money for a new computer between now and when the free upgrade offer goes away, then I’d probably take the plunge, if only because it’s free.

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    July 14, 2015
    Mozilla Disables “Too Dangerous” Flash

    One of the cornerstones of the Internet is being chipped away.  Once upon a time, if you wanted to have animation or online videos, you needed to know Flash to make that happen, or use a site that uses Flash.  Now, it looks like the software of choice for Newgrounds and other fun games is getting removed from circulation.  Mozilla has disabled Adobe Flash on all Firefox browsers.  Mozilla was one of the last companies who still supported Flash, and now it’s officially getting the boot until Adobe gets it repaired and secure.

    It’s a very rare step for Mozilla to make a universal decision, but the company has decided that Adobe’s Flash product is too unsafe to run on their browsers, as hackers routinely use it to gain access to computers and it’s renowned for being full of exploits.  Google moved to disable Flash on its browsers earlier this year, and even Adobe has stopped developing Flash for mobile phones back in 2011.  Now, hopefully, the rest of the world will follow Adobe’s lead and Flash will finally get replaced by something safe to run on browsers, like HTML5.

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    July 10, 2015
    Senators Ask FCC To Investigate Cable Companies

    It seems that every week, another cable company is forming from the merged bodies of two formerly separate entities.  That’s been the case for awhile, but these days, it seems like it’s reaching a peak.  The sort of peak that attracts the interest of federal regulators and, in the case of the newest round of possible cable mergers, four United States Senators.  Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Edward Markey, and Al Franken have thrown their considerable weight behind a letter to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, asking him to take a look at cable pricing.

    Writes Sanders, “With increasing concentration in the industry, there are now de facto telecommunications monopolies throughout the united states.  for example, just 37 percent of Americans have more than one option for high-speed broadband providers.  Given the lack of incentives for companies to provide better quality service and competitive prices, it is no surprise that individuals rank cable and Internet providers last in customer satisfaction when compared to other companies in other industries.”

    Sanders isn’t asking the Federal Communications Commission to do any investigation, just do a pricing survey and keep an eye on things.  Given the amount of hidden fees and taxes and other things put in, it makes sense to have someone keeping an eye on things, since most of us consumers don’t have an option outside of the local cable monopoly or, in my case, a subpar DSL provider and the local cable monopoly.  Neither of which is a great option, since I don’t like my local cable company since they got bought out by a large provider.

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