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    April 17, 2014
    Facebook Launches Location Sharing Service

    It happened to me tonight.  Out at a restaurant, post a picture on Instagram or Twitter, and you get a message from a friend:  ”Hey, I just walked by there!”  Even the biggest city can feel like a small town sometimes, and Facebook seems determined to make that town even smaller by putting you and your friends in touch with one another.  Facebook is rolling out a new location-finder service called Nearby Friends that allows your friends to track you down when you’re nearby.  Facebook seems to be in no hurry to roll the service out, probably due to the many privacy concerns something like that would have.

    The service uses the GPS system in your smartphone to share your location with the world via Facebook, so that means there are two layers of security that can keep things private.  You have to turn the GPS on in your phone and you have to turn on the Nearby Friends service on Facebook itself.  However, it doesn’t give an exact location, just a general area within a half-mile of your current location.  You’ll be close enough to your friends to reach out, but not so close that your friends will know you’re at Bed Bath and Beyond or Starbucks specifically.

    The first users who will get access are users who tend to use location-finding services, like restaurant check-ins and the like.  It will be rolled out to other users in the weeks and months to come.

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    April 9, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Walking Away From XP

    Image via CNN Money.

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    April 2, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Bliss

    Read the story behind Windows XP’s “Bliss” At CNet.

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    April 1, 2014
    The Five Best April Fools Jokes Online

    Every year, people try to do something, anything, to get a little attention online while having a little fun for April Fools Day.  We all expect it at this point, but sometimes it works out and ends up being really funny, really clever, or just really interesting.  Nobody does April 1 quite like the Internet, and there’s a gag reel to prove it.  Here are five of the best April Fools Day gags ever played on the Internet.

    Of these pranks, I think my favorite was the upside-down YouTube interface.  That was really clever of them, but not so clever people got mad that they might be stuck with some horrible new YouTube  look to get used to.  It’s pretty obviously a goof, without being too intrusive.  Some of the other online jokes just go too far and that’s more sad than entertaining.  Some of the other ones are too realistic, while other pranks I’ve loved (mostly from ThinkGeek) ended up becoming actual products available for sale.

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    March 26, 2014
    Billboard Shames Texting Drivers

    There are a lot of laws on the books these days that punish distracted driving.  No talking while driving, no texting while driving, no tinted windows, and so on.  All to protect people from themselves and their behavior.  Texting while driving is the newest bugaboo, and a San Francisco graphic artist has decided to take distracted drivers to task in a very public way.  Brian Singer has put up a billboard to shame folks caught texting while driving.

    “Day after day, I’d look out the window, and I was really surprised at how many people are driving distracted,” Singer told PCMag in an email.  ”Phones in hand, looking down, or sometimes putting on makeup or other things.”

    The billboard runs along Highway 101 in California, and it’s not there to shame folks, but to raise awareness, according to Singer.  Those that haven’t made the billboard end up on Singer’s website, Texting While In Traffic or TWIT Spotting.  It’s amazing how many people straight up don’t look at the road while they’re driving.  Here’s hoping that those caught making this dangerous mistake will correct their behavior after a good public shaming.

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    March 25, 2014
    “You’ve Got Mail”: A Voice From The Past

    I love the fact that I’m no longer tethered to a service like America Online to get to the Internet.  Even DSL is faster than AOL ever was, and there’s a whole world of cable, fiber, and satellite options that put old reliable dial-up Internet services like AOL to shame, but there’s one thing I have to admit that I miss.  I miss hearing “You’ve got mail!” every time I signed on.  A friendly male voice through my computer speakers, welcoming me and telling me goodbye, reminding me I have mail to read and letting me know when my downloads were finished.

    YouTube Preview Image

    It was a different world back then, but fortunately Jim Breuer has an appreciation of the past and he tracked down a very special person.  You won’t recognize his face and they never bother to tell us his name (his name is Elwood Edwards), but you’ll recognize that voice if you used a computer at any point from 1989 until about 2001.  That’s right, it’s the voice of AOL himself in the flesh.  Check out the video above!

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    March 21, 2014
    Microsoft Offering $100 Rebates To Ditch Windows XP

    If you’re one of the thousands of holdouts who is still using your Windows XP computer, you should probably be aware that on April 8, Microsoft will be retiring one of the most successful operating systems of all time, and that means the company will no longer support, issue patches for, and use security protection for XP.  That’s a bad thing for the consumer and an even worse thing for Microsoft, since no company really likes to leave customers behind.  Microsoft is offering $100 rebates off Windows 8 products in an attempt to get consumers to finally leave XP.

    Of course it’s not just free money, it’s also some other benefits.  Namely, Microsoft is offering 90 days of free Windows 8 tech support and free data transfer from your old XP machine to your new Windows 8 box.  Will that be enough to get consumers to switch?  Maybe, maybe not.  Lots of companies are going to be paying a lot of money to keep their Windows XP machines supported, as Windows XP powers everything from cash registers to ATMs.

    Still, the offer is much better than nothing, and there’s probably still time to get a Windows 7 machine if you’re not quite willing to go full-throttle to Windows 8 without the in-between step, but at this point you’re probably better off giving in and going Windows 8 like everyone else is apparently going to.  Check out the Windows Store for all the deals and details on Microsoft’s rebate program.

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    March 15, 2014
    The US Government Giving Up Internet Control

    As the country that invented the Internet way back when, it’s only natural that the United States government had some level of control over the names and use of said computer network web.  However, that’s changed in recent years, as the web has truly become the World Wide Web, and the US Government’s roll in overseeing the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has become something of a hot-button issue.  Now, the US Government is stepping away from controlling the Internet.

    “The timing is right to start the transition process,” said assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information Lawrence E. Strickling.  ”We look forward to ICANN convening stakeholders across the global Internet community to craft an appropriate transition plan.”

    One of the goals is to provide more transparency to how ICANN works, and inviting the international community to take part will definitely make that easier.  Now the Commerce Department will be letting those chains go.  As it turns out, it only took over ICANN control in 1998, after one of the original pioneers of the Internet, Jon Postel of the University of Southern California, passed away.  Now that control is going to what will probably end up being some sort of committee akin to the United Nations.

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    March 14, 2014
    Happy Pi Day!

    Today is March 14.  March 14 is 3/14 or 3.14 depending on your preference, and 3.14 are the first three digits of the integer pi.  It’s used to reflect the circumference of a circle and is one of the basics for pretty much all math and science, plus it sounds like pie, and everyone loves pie.  Happy Pi Day, everyone!

    Lots of places are using this as an excuse to make with the free pie or discounted pie, both fruit and pizza.  I know a lot of places are doing discounted pie, or free ice cream with pie, or whatever, so keep an eye out in your local area for that sort of thing.  Several places in my hometown are doing that kind of deal.

    Even if you can’t find discounted pie in your area, just hit up the local grocery store, find a nice frozen or premade pie, and enjoy!  It’s Pi Day, so celebrate!

    Image via Geeks of Doom.

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    March 13, 2014
    The Solid Gold Flappy Bird

    Flappy Bird was one of the biggest, weirdest hit games of all time.  Composed of stolen sprites from Super Mario Brothers games, it was basically a flying game where you tried to maneuver Flappy Bird through a series of challenging flying lanes without crashing, I think.  I don’t know for sure, as I never actually played it, but I’m distinctly in the minority on that one, because apparently everyone played Flappy Bird and everyone loved/hated/loved to hate Flappy Bird.  However, just because the game’s been pulled from stores, that doesn’t mean the game has been pulled from our hearts.  A Vietnamese company has created a solid-gold Flappy Bird figurine and it’s for sale.

    Said the makers of Gold Flappy Bird, Vietnamese goldsmithing company N3D, “To honor this world changing bird and demonstrate the craftsmanship of Vietnamese people.  We want to introduce to you the Golden Flappy bird – A real life unique, artistic 3D figure, handmade from 100% 14k solid gold by a professional goldsmith from Vietnam- the birthplace of the original bird.”

    Apparently, all the profits will go to “support people with difficult situation in Vietnam,” which sounds a bit like charity to me, so I guess that’s good?  If you want an impressive gold paperweight, head on over to the auction and bid on Golden Flappy Bird.  The bidding is at $1600 or so right now, so it’s well within your reach if you’re a crazy person with too much money.

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