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About John Brownlee

John Brownlee John Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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How to access your Facebook messages in iOS without installing Messenger

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Do you hate the fact that Facebook is forcing you to install the Facebook Messenger app if you want to send or access messages on your iPhone or iPad?

We do too. But luckily, it turns out that right now, there’s an easy way to get around the restrictions and access your Facebook Messages through the vanilla Facebook app again. But better move on it: Facebook’s not likely to let this loophole stay open for long.

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Apple bans hazardous chemicals used to make iPhone screens nice and shiny

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In the past, the chemicals benzene and n-hexane, which are chemicals that make your iPhone screen so shiny, have been said to cause health problems for factory workers breathing in the fume.

But Apple has just announced that as of the iPhone 6, these complaints will be a thing of the past, as they are banning the use of the chemicals across their entire assembly line.

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Apple’s Phil Schiller dumps a bucket of ice cold water on his head

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If you’ve been on the Internet at all over the last few days, you’ve probably heard about the Ice Bucket Challenge. The idea is simple. Someone challenges you online to dump a bucket of ice water all over your head. If you choose not to do so within 24 hours, you are asked to donate $100 to a charity to fight Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Speaking as an observer, I can say conclusively that the Ice Bucket Challenge is best when accepted by buxom 19-year-olds in string bikinis. But watching Apple’s Senior Vice President Of Marketing dumping a bucket of ice water on his head? Definitely a close second.

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Facebook fixes long-standing iOS bug, eliminating 50 percent of app crashes

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It’s hard to know what to make of an app update that promises to “cut crash rates in half.” If you’re a glass-half-full kind of guy, you’re happy with the increased stability. If you’re a glass-half-empty guy, though, you wonder why the hell they can’t get around to fixing the other 50 percent of unexpected software crashes.

I’m sort of a glass-half-empty kind of guy, at least when it comes to Facebook. So when they announce that their latest update to the Facebook for iPhone and iPad app has “solved a long-term mobile debugging problem and reduced the crash rate for people using the Facebook for iOS app by more than 50%,” I wonder why the hell a multibillion dollar corporation can’t fix the other half.

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Twitter is about to get a lot more annoying: Video ads are coming to your stream

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Hey guys, guess what? Twitter’s about to get a hell of a lot more annoying. Video ads in your stream are entering beta!

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Experience the proto-internet running on an Apple IIgs in your web browser

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Back when the Apple IIgs was released in 1986, the Internet as we know it didn’t really exist. Instead, we had electronic bulletin boards, or BBSes: simple ASCII portals for email, games, file downloads, chatting, and — yes — even porn, that we all dialed into over phone lines.

Weren’t around to experience this for yourself? Don’t worry about it. You can now experience all the analog splendor of an old-school BBS for yourself, thanks to Level 29. And even better, it all runs in a web browser.

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Bye bye, iCrime! California moves to make iOS-style ‘kill switches’ required by law

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Introduced in iOS 7, Activation Lock is a feature that prevents users who recover a lost or stolen iPhone from activating the device without signing in with the Apple ID used to erase the device remotely.

By all accounts, Activation Lock has made a difference in stopping smartphone theft, especially in New York. But in California, law may very well mandate smartphone features like Activation Lock shortly.

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T-Mobile’s latest prepaid plan makes pay-as-you-go sexy and flexible

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Slowly but surely, T-Mobile has been trying to not only become the leader of the prepaid cell phone market, but to totally corner it. It’s latest ultra-simple plan takes that mission even further, making pay-as-you-go as simple as $0.10 per minute or text, flat.

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Beautiful renders of new iPhone 6 packaging make us drool

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Martin Hajek usually puts his considerable 3-D rendering skills to the task of creating conceptual models of Apple’s upcoming hardware. But after producing his highly-accurate rendering of the iPhone 6 last week, the Dutch artist has tried his hand at something a bit different: imagining a new kind of retail packaging for Apple’s next smartphone, as well as what the iPhone 6 will look like when it’s on display at your local Apple Store.

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Microsoft’s newest app lets you stalk your favorite celebrities with your iPhone

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Can’t get enough of celebrity gossip? You’re not alone. Up in Redmond, Microsoft is so obsessed with keeping up with the Kardashians that they have just released a custom-built an attractive new celebrity news app called Snipp3t. And while the use to which Snipp3t is meant to be put may look a little tawdry, the app design itself is actually really nice.

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