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I am not kind to Apple

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A day after I posted "Apple's march of the lemmings", 9to5Mac published Mark Gurman's gripping inside look into Apple's PR strategy. The story, "Seeing Through the Illusion: Understanding Apple's Mastery of the Media", is fine example of the kind of news reporting too often missing on the web today. His multi-section report is well-organized, believably-sourced (even where anonymously), and accurate -- to which I can attest based on my experience dealing with Apple as a journalist. Gurman also validates many of my ongoing complaints about how bloggers and journalists report about the company.

As expressed three-and-a-half years ago, "I am not anti-Apple". But I am against the unquestioning pro-Apple caucus the news media has become. As stated on my birthday in 2011: "My problem isn't Apple, but all the news and misinformation about the company. You can chock up any tone in my Apple posts to them. Someone has to counterbalance this crap".

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Samsung teams with Nike for new Nike+ running app on smartwatches

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Sadly the summer is winding down, with Labor Day weekend having arrived. But that means the best time of the year for runners is now on the horizon, with cooler autumn weather. To get you ready for this time of year, Samsung has struck up a deal with Nike.

This deal brings together one of the top phone makers and a famous running shoe manufacturer. The two are teaming up for a new Nike+ app that will be coming to the Samsung smartwatch platform.

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Lumsing PBJ-6200 Power Bank: A stylish phone charging solution [Review]

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I charge my iPhone 5s every night -- it's pretty much a standard routine. Although people moan about the iPhone's battery life, I have no complaints. In fact my old Samsung Galaxy S III needed charging more regularly. But every so often a little extra battery boost is required, which is fine if I'm at home, but less convenient when I'm out and about (and I have no interest in being a wall hugger). This is where an external battery pack can come in handy.

Lumsing's PBJ-6200 Power Bank has already proven to be a life saver in the couple of weeks I've had it. The device is roughly the same dimensions as my phone -- 4.88x 2.64 x 0.51 inches  (124 x 67 x13 mm) -- and has a 6,000mAh capacity, which is enough to charge my iPhone about three times (a Galaxy S4 twice, or an iPad mini once).

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Mozilla loses more user info, this time data of 97,000 customers goes out through Bugzilla

Hacker Virus

It's been a bad month for Mozilla, as the company seems to be shedding user data left and right. The problems are apparently not over as new information has come to light regarding the loss of another 97,000 emails and passwords that were left exposed.

The latest issue comes via Bugzilla, and the organization has reset all user passwords in an attempt to alleviate the issues. However, that didn't stop customer data from being exposed for about three months.

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IBM: Watson, go help those nice scientists with their research

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IBM's Watson supercomputer is set to tackle scientific research head-on after being re-programmed to analyze big data in the cloud.

Currently, the testing of scientific hypotheses and theories often takes days or months of arduous work, but with Watson's Discovery Advisor program, this can now be carried out at a significantly faster rate.

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Facebook could make explicit content more difficult to view

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Facebook's own safety advisers are calling for new controls to be put in place that prevent gruesome images appearing on the social network after harrowing images appeared on one page in particular.

The new move is being proposed by Stephen Balkam, chief executive of the US Family Online Institute (Fosi), at the next meeting of Facebook's Safety Advisory Board after images of severed heads appeared on the social network courtesy of the Islamic State (IS).

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Chrome 38 Beta makes user-switching feature more visible, adds 64-bit support to OS X and Windows

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Google has updated its Chrome Beta channel with the release of Google Chrome 38.0 Beta. The new release, also available as Google Chrome 38.0 Beta (64-bit) for Windows and Linux, has two major highlights.

The first is an improved -- and more visible -- way of managing and switching between multiple Chrome user profiles, while the other sees 64-bit support extended to the OS X platform.

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Microsoft selling Acer E15 for $199 -- an awesome back-to-school laptop deal

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Nowadays, it feels like many children can be unappreciative (I'm sure yours are great though!). Whenever I go to Walmart or Target, there are sure to be whiny little ones begging and demanding things from their parents. If their parents do give-in and buy whatever they want, there is a chance it will be broken within a week.

This is the problem with buying a child a laptop. Sure, they may need a computer for school, but if you buy them an expensive unit, they could ruin it by spilling juice on the keyboard or stepping on the screen. In other words, buying a top-of-the-line laptop for a child could be like flushing money down the toilet. Luckily, Microsoft has the perfect back-to-school deal; a $199 15.6-inch laptop, that looks very sexy and thin.

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Could buying Cyanogen give Microsoft some smartphone credibility?

Could buying Cyanogen give Microsoft some smartphone credibility?

I'm not going to retread old ground too much here, but there's no getting away from the fact that Microsoft has something of an image problem when it comes to smartphones. But this could be set to change. The word on the grapevine is that Microsoft -- possibly in conjunction with the likes of Yahoo and Amazon -- is interested in joining forces with, or even, buying Cyanogen Inc, purveyor of some of the finest Android ROMs known to humanity. It's a branch of Android favoured by handset owners who live and breathe tweaking, who want an OS custom made to fit them like a well-tailored suit.

Little is known about what form any future arrangement might take, or how far talks have got so far. But we do know that Cyanogen Inc has met with Satya Nadella -- as reported by The Information. It would be interesting to see where this could go. There are two possible avenues that immediately spring to mind. The first -- and probably the least likely -- is that Microsoft might consider creating custom Windows Phone ROMs. This seems somewhat improbable, but there's another option: Microsoft could be looking to muscle in on Google's Android territory. This is not as far-fetched as it might first sound.

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What you really want is iPhone 6 with sapphire display

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What do you want to see most on the new iPhone 6 (if you care about Apple's upcoming device, that is)?

That was the question posed by Usell.com in a poll of a thousand mobile owners across the US, and the resoundingly top response was the much talked-about sapphire screen. 45 percent of respondents said they wanted a super-tough sapphire display, with 50 percent of Android and iPhone users saying they would ditch their current smartphone for the iPhone 6 if it came with such a screen.

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Best Windows 8 apps this week

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Ninety-sixth in a series.  Welcome to this week's installment of the best new apps and games for Microsoft's Windows 8.x operating system.

Microsoft  removed 1500 apps from the store this week that did not meet quality guidelines and resulted in a bad user experience as a consequence. Users who purchased these apps are eligible for a refund according to Microsoft's announcement.

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Apple and Samsung may have to settle in patent litigation

business handshake

Apple and Samsung are reportedly close to reaching an amicable conclusion in a long-winded patent litigation battle after the US firm lost another court case against its rival.

The familiar US District Judge Lucy Koh ruled against Apple's bid to impose a sales ban on some older Samsung smartphones in the US and it follows the decision to drop all suits against each other in a range of different countries in the past few months.

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Google Authorship comes to the end of the line

Google Authorship comes to the end of the line

Continuing its propensity for terminating projects, Google has decided to kill of its Authorship program. The markup was introduced to provide online writers with a way to link their work to their Google+ profile and have their profile picture displayed in search results. But in its three year lifespan, Authorship did not really manage to take off, and Google Webmaster Tools' John Mueller announced that "we've also observed that this information isn't as useful to our users as we'd hoped, and can even distract from those results. With this in mind, we've made the difficult decision to stop showing authorship in search results".

Head to one of the Google Authorship support pages and you're greeted by the message: "Authorship markup is no longer supported in web search". This is an interesting move, especially considering how keen Google has been to push people into using Google+. Authorship not only enables writers to more visibly stamp their mark online, but also to gain a following. In practice it was found that Authorship did little to help drive traffic and "wasn't always easy to implement".

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Display your external IP address on the desktop with Mr.IP

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Discovering your external IP address is generally very easy. Just visit a site like WhatIsMyIP and it'll give you the IP address, location, ISP, and a whole lot more.

If you need speedy access to this address all the time, though, it might be simpler to use Mr.IP, a tiny free tool which permanently displays your internet -- or external -- IP on the desktop.

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Smartphone shipments show strong growth as Android dominates emerging markets

Mobile graph

More than 1.25 billion smartphones will be shipped worldwide in 2014, up 23.8 percent over last year, despite a slowing of growth in more mature markets, according to the latest data from IDC's Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

Growth in mature markets has slowed to 4.9 percent but emerging markets are surging ahead with 32.4 percent growth. Since these emerging markets have accounted for more than half of smartphone shipments since 2011 this is perhaps not too surprising.

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