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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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Reimagining Finder’s ‘Get Info’ dialog for OS X Yosemite

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With Yosemite, OS X is getting its biggest visual overhaul yet, courtesy of Apple design head Jony Ive. But not everything is changing. Case in point: OS X’s File Inspector function.

Shown when you right click on a file in Finder and click ‘Get Info,’ Inspector shows you the nitty-gritty details of a file: it’s size, what file it is set to open with, it’s permissions, and so on. But in Yosemite, it looks pretty much as it ever did.

On Behance, user Ramotion has come up with a Yosemite-inspired redesign of OS X’s ‘Get Info’ menu that makes it more useful, intuitive, attractive, and flexible, especially when dealing with multiple files.

It’s gorgeous work, fitting of OS X Yosemite’s slick new design ethos as a whole. Take a look at the complete concept below.

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The iPhone 6’s Lightning cable could be reversible on the USB side too

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With the next-gen USB 3.1 standard now heading into production, the USB connectors of the future will be a lot more like Lightning. Featuring small, reversible connectors, the new USB Type-C cable will be particularly well suited to syncing and charging smartphones and tablets… again, just like Lightning.

But new images said to come from within Foxconn show that Apple isn’t done innovating with Lightning just yet, and that we won’t have to wait until USB Type-C to become ubiquitous to have fully-reversible USB Lightning cables. The shots are purportedly of a fully-reversible USB connector for Apple’s next Lightning cable. In other words, instead of having to plug the Lightning cable into your computer in one specific orientation, you could do it either way.

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Publish photos to Instagram stored on your Mac using Younity

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One sad limitation of Instagram is you can’t post photos to the service from your Mac, only your iPhone. It’s by design, of course — Instagram wants to be a more spontaneous photo hosting service than the likes of Flickr — but it can make things annoying when you want to give a more polished shot the Instagram treatment.

Things are about to get a little easier. You still can’t post photos directly from your Mac, but you can make it easier to get them on your iPhone or iPad. Younity, a service that gives you access to your computer’s files through a personal cloud with no syncing necessary, has just added support for publishing Instagram files directly from the service.

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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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