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FCC freezes clock on merger reviews of Comcast/TWC, AT&T/DirecTV

56 minutes ago | Posted in: industry

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has stopped its "180-day informal time clock" in the review of the merger proposals for between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, as well as AT&T and DirectTV. The reason for the stoppage involves the modified joint protective orders that the FCC created at the beginning of October, which content companies are now using to bar outside sources from reading confidential programming agreements.

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OS X Yosemite nudges Chrome, Firefox users into trying Safari

1 hour ago | Posted in: software, Apple

People using Chrome or Firefox within OS X Yosemite are seeing push notifications asking them to try Safari, accounts say. The messages tout Safari as "fast, energy efficient, and with a beautiful new design," and even include "Later" and "Try Now" buttons. They appear to be triggered by launching Chrome or Firefox for the first time after the Yosemite upgrade.

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iPad Air 2, Mini 3 now available for Personal Pickup at Apple Stores

2 hours ago | Posted in: Apple, iPad

Shoppers at Apple's online store now have the option of selecting Personal Pickup as a delivery option for the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. When preorders opened last Friday, the company required all orders to be shipped. Notably, some stores are listed as having iPads ready for pickup today, even though Apple Store workers are saying they won't have tablets on sale until later this week, or even next week. Shipped orders are beginning to arrive on doorsteps however.

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FBI director asks Congress to update law to circumvent encryption

2 hours ago | Posted in: security

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey isn't giving up his crusade to persuade the government and businesses that law enforcement should have access to encrypted phone data. Comey took his fight to Congress recently, asking that it update the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) to cover newer technologies.

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Avast 2015 adds Home Network Security, SecureDNS

3 hours ago | Posted in: security, software

Avast Software has launched Avast 2015, an update of its multiplatform security suite. The main addition this year is a tool called Home Network Security, which scans a local network for potential vulnerabilities. These may include things like weak or default router passwords, unprotected IPv6 use, and already-compromised Internet connections. A related new feature is called SecureDNS, which offers encrypted traffic between a computer and an Avast-operated DNS server, reducing the chance of DNS hijacking.

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Apple Pay bugs cause problems with card images, overcharging

3 hours ago | Posted in: iPhone, troubleshooting

Although the service appears to be working in general, Apple Pay is encountering some early technical problems. One issue is that in some cases, the correct card designs aren't being displayed in Passbook. Affected cards will show generic logos for their associated institutions, and possibly lack descriptions as well, which can make numbers the only way to distinguish between them when a person has multiple cards from the same firm. Sources claim that a fix for the bug is already underway.

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Hands On: RapidWeaver 6 (OS X)

4 hours ago | Posted in: software, Graphics/Web Design, Apple

Just because you need a website, doesn't mean that the best option is to hire someone to create one out of whole cloth. The alternative is either learning HTML, CSS, and a host of other acronymic technologies, or seeking out all-in-one website design software that allows users to publish a website without requiring coding knowledge or a ton of design expertise. Realmac Software has announced the release of RapidWeaver 6, an upgrade to its longstanding website creation app, and we've had a chance to put it through its paces.

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Unity Technologies names ex-EA exec John Riccitiello as CEO

4 hours ago | Posted in: Investor, computers, industry, gaming

Cross-platform game development engine designers Unity Technologies has named a new chief executive. John Riccitiello, the prior chief of EA, is the new head of the company, with David Helgason stepping back. Helgason will continue with the company, and is planning on focusing on improving relationships with developers as well as "working with some insanely talented people here at Unity."

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Ricoh unveils three laser printers with 23 page-per-minute output

4 hours ago | Posted in: peripherals

Ricoh has launched a set of three monochrome laser printers in the United States. The SP 213SNw and SP 213SFNw multifunction printers and the SP 213Nw printer all offer print speeds of up to 23 pages per minute, a low 10-second wait for the first print, minimal warm-up times, and a number of different connectivity and networking options.

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Early reviews call Air 2, Mini 3 best iPads ever, but just iterative

5 hours ago | Posted in: iPad

Early reviews of the iPad Air 2 and Mini 3 are beginning to arrive, and are typically touting the tablets as Apple's best ever, but with some caveats. Re/code's Walt Mossberg for instance says they represent a "modest evolutionary improvement over last year's models, not the kind of big change that the first iPad Air or the Retina display iPad mini did last year." He suggests that the Air 2 may be worth buying for people owning an iPad older than last year's model.

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Apps: Alfred, iBank, Stacks

6 hours ago | Posted in apps

    3.7MB

    Alfred 2.5.1 (free)

    Alfred is a quick launch utility that can help users search their computer and the internet. Version 2.5.1 includes support for 1Password 5 in OS X Yosemite, as well as an improved workflow search. An exception when passing an empty string in script filter XML subtext mod keys has also been addressed with this update.

    40.8MB

    iBank 5.2 ($48)

    iBank is a financial managers designed for personal and small business' needs. iBank can manage credit cards, bank accounts, investments as well as analyze income and expenses with live updating charts. A new overview report has been added with this release, along with the ability to preserve more data when switching investment transaction types. A wide range of bugs were also resolved, including a problem with importing data via direct download from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.

    10.8MB

    Stacks 2.6.8 ($30)

    Stacks offers an alternative method for creating pages within RapidWeaver. The latest release corrects a graphics stuttering and tearing issue related to the library window. In addition, the update now requires a 64-bit Intel processor and OS X 10.9 or later.

    20.5MB

    Arq 4.6.2 ($40)

    Arq is a backup utility that will make incremental backups to an online storage account. The software keeps hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for everything older than a month. The v4.6.2 update fixes an issue that caused the backup process to abort when there was an error creating an FSRef on OS X Yosemite.

    3.9MB

    Byword 2.3 ($10)

    Byword is a text editor that has been designed for use with Markdown formatting. The software includes a range of keyboard shortcuts, an alternate dark theme for working in low-light situations, and the ability to sync documents across all Mac, iPhone, and iPad devices. Version 2.3 includes a number of improvements for OS X Yosemite, as well as support for iCloud Drive.

 
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Pangu team debuts early, developer-only iOS 8.1 jailbreak

7 hours ago | Posted in: iPod, iPhone, hacks, iPad

The Pangu jailbreak team has developed a new hack for iOS 8 and 8.1 devices, reports and the team's website note. The initial release is said to be intended strictly for app developers, since it doesn't install Cydia or other services designed to make jailbreaking simple and practical. The public version is in fact waiting on those services being brought up to speed for iOS 8.

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Briefly: Sky+ mobile app update, UberXL launches in United Kingdom

7 hours ago | Posted in: software, iPhone apps, iPad apps

British broadcaster Sky has updated its iOS and Android Sky+ apps to allow users to display their photographs from their mobile devices on the television through the Sky+ HD set-top box. The app also includes a new updated homepage, complete with a dedicated Sports section, and a Smart Series Link option that lets the Sky+ box record all current and future seasons of selected programs.

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Apple CEO meets with Chinese official to discuss iCloud hijacks

8 hours ago | Posted in: security, Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook met with China's Vice Premier Ma Kai in Beijing on Wednesday to discuss man-in-the-middle attacks against iCloud users, according to Reuters and China's state-run Xinhua news agency. Reuters notes that the Chinese government has so far denied allegations of involvement, which in particular tied the attacks to the state firewall used to censor Internet access in the country. As for the meeting, Xinhua says only that the pair shared views on "protection of users' information" and "strengthening cooperation and in information and communication fields."

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Google Play Music updates Listen Now page, adds Songza playlists

11 hours ago | Posted in: software, audio

Google Play Music has been updated for both Android and iOS, with a new look and extra features. While it has received a Material Design-influenced makeover, similar to the leaked Gmail update, the main change users will notice is the inclusion of activity and time-related playlists, something Google has introduced courtesy of its acquisition of Songza in July.

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Apple SEC filing reveals executive RSU bonuses, lobbying costs

18 hours ago | Posted in: Investor, Apple

In its latest SEC 10-Q filing, Apple has revealed certain company details -- including the fact that it still spends a small fraction of the money other tech firms do on Washington lobbying, and that it continues its practice of awarding its executives restricted stock units (RSUs) that could be worth millions if they stay with the company and it continues to do well. CFO Luca Maestri and Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores Dame Angela Ahrendts both received their first executive bonuses as part of the disclosure.

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Cook reveals surprising $17B AAPL stock buyback in Q4

20 hours ago | Posted in: Investor, Apple

During its conference call to analysts, Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned that the company had spent $17 billion in the fourth fiscal quarter on further stock buybacks, the largest amount since the March quarter and bringing the total spent across the fiscal year to $45 billion. About half of the money was spent buying shares on the open market rather than through banking partners, an unusual move for a large corporation. The stock came close to another record high on Tuesday, but has yet to crack its $110 all-time (adjusted for both splits and buybacks) share high.

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Previous News

Early benchmarks show Retina iMac processor's power against Mac Pros

21 hours ago | Posted in: Apple

Early benchmarks of the new iMacs show the Retina 5K iMac as having high enough performance to beat the 2013 Mac Pro in some tasks, suggesting that in some cases it may be better to buy the new high-end iMac than a base-level Mac Pro. Results for the range, appearing on the 64-bit Geekbench 3 benchmark, has the high-resolution 5K iMac's 4.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor option dominating the board for single and multi-core performance when compared to previous iMacs, and it manages to also put up a good fight when compared to configurations of last year's Mac Pro.

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GT Advanced, Apple strike deal to 'amicably' part ways

22 hours ago | Posted in: iPhone, industry, Apple

After much bickering in court during bankruptcy proceedings that took Apple and Wall Street by surprise, former sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies has worked out an agreement with the iPhone maker that will let it pursue its plan of winding down operations at its Mesa, Arizona plant and laying off nearly 700 employees. Though Apple had initially said it would work to preserve the jobs involved, the deal instead offers incentives to certain employees to help wind down the plant, and provides a way for GT to pay back the money it owes Apple.

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Briefly: Alpine Headphones, iDevices iShower2

Tue October 21, 2014 | Posted in: gadgets, audio

A new set of consumer headphones was released by Alpine Electronics that sets out to bring the concert experience to users in order to "feel their music." The patented TKR3 full frequency immersion technology attempts to recreate the sensation of a live show with a "unique sound field expansion." The Bluetooth headphones feature 40mm drivers, programmable audio processing, powered digital amplifiers, and a lithium battery for up to 10 hours of play. The Alpine Headphones can be used with the Alpine Level Play app for iOS, which creates playlists based on the "energy level" of the songs on the device. The Alpine Headphones are available at Alpine's website or Apple Stores for $300.

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Apple says it's aware of Chinese iCloud hijacks, servers not affected

Tue October 21, 2014 | Posted in: security, Apple

Apple is aware of "intermittent organized network attacks" against people trying to sign into iCloud.com, says Dow Jones. It insists however that iCloud servers haven't been breached, and that people using iOS or the latest version of OS X -- Yosemite -- should be unaffected. The company doesn't specifically mention China, which is where the browser hijacks are taking place.

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Briefly: Civilization Beyond Earth data, Total War: Shogun 2 expansion

Tue October 21, 2014 | Posted in: computers, gaming, Apple

The latest installment of the Civilization franchise from developer Firaxis Civilization: Beyond Earth, today has a slightly narrowed release date for OS X as well as declared hardware and OS requirements. While the PC release is imminent on October 24, the Mac version will ship in time for holiday 2014. Civilization: Beyond Earth, will require OS X 10.10 Yosemite, an Intel Core i3 processor or greater, running at 2.2GHz or more, and 4GB of RAM. Minimum GPU specs are the Nvidia GeForce 640M, ATI Radeon HD 5750, or Intel Iris Graphics with 256 MB.

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Apple Pay loyalty program may be coming in time for holidays

Tue October 21, 2014 | Posted in: iPhone, industry

A loyalty program for Apple Pay may be ready to go in time for the holidays, says Bank Innovation. Some retail sources had previously suggested this was unlikely, in part because of doubt about the prospects of a large shift in customer behavior happening right before the holiday season. Real-world market demand may be pushing up the timetable for a loyalty offering, however.

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Review: Kenu Airframe Plus

Tue October 21, 2014 | Posted in: iPhone, accessories, mobile phones

Simple, stylish and effective, the Kenu Airframe + portable car mount is the latest addition to Kenu's lineup. Released earlier this year, the Airframe + takes the same basic design of the Airframe and gives it a little extra stretch in order to hold larger 6-inch phones. In our review we thoroughly put the Airframe + to the test to see what exactly it is that puts the "plus" in this portable car mount.

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Apple begins shipping early preorders for iPad Air 2, Mini 3

Tue October 21, 2014 | Posted in: Apple, iPad

Apple is beginning to ship the earliest preorders of the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 bought at its online store, accounts say. Notifications are being sent out today. Some orders are scheduled to ship on October 23rd specifically, while other people have been given a broader 23rd-27th timeframe.

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Extensis releases Suitcase Fusion 6, with Yosemite compatibility

Tue October 21, 2014 | Posted in: software, Graphics/Web Design

Extensis today released a major update to its Suitcase Fusion 6 font manager. The new version brings full OS X 10.10 Yosemite compatibility, Adobe Creative Cloud 2014 integration, font library synchronization with Dropbox or Google Drive accounts, as well as continuing bug fixes and speed enhancements.

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Razer Nabu fitness tracker passes through FCC, could launch soon

Tue October 21, 2014 | Posted in: gadgets

Razer's Nabu connected wristband is getting closer to launch, after finally receiving approval from the FCC. The wearable, which first surfaced at the start of the year before undergoing public beta testing and being subject to delays over hypoallergenic testing, is tantalizingly close to meeting a supposed October launch time, which could allow Razer to capitalize on holiday sales in an increasingly congested market.

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