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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

What's phishing, and how can you stop it from happening to you?

You've probably heard the term "phishing," the technique where scammers send emails that seem to be from your bank, or from an Internet service you use, asking for your account information. Sometimes they're so bold as to request a Social Security or credit card number; others are much more subtle, perhaps offering a link they say will take you to sign in to your email provider.

So. When you get an email that seems like it's from your bank, how can you tell whether it really is? What do you need to look for to keep from getting fooled?

David Pogue offers some really good tips in a video on his blog today. You should check it out (he's always a great read, anyway), but here are the essentials:

• Look for subtle signs the email might not be official. For example, does it use an old corporate logo?

• Look for subtle signs the email was written by a scammer. English is a second language for most of them. …

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Apple to take second stab at updating iOS 8

So that's reassuring, I guess.

Meanwhile, there are still users out there — just iPhone 6 and 6 Plus early adopters, from what I can tell — who managed to download and install the iOS 8.0.1 upgrade in the roughly one-hour window when it was available. (For my part, I saw it in time for my iPhone 5s to download it but not to finish installing it. So now my phone either thinks there's an upgrade ready to install or doesn't think so, depending on where I look.)

Anyway, we're not talking tons of users, but that's not very reassuring to folks who have a newly updated phone that can't make cellular calls. So in case you need them in the meantime, Apple has released instructions for how to downgrade your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus from iOS 8.0.1 to 8.0.

Meanwhile, keep an eye out for iOS 8.0.2 whenever it gets here. That's the one that should enable Apple's HealthKit features on your iPhone, among other improvements.

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This is not the iOS 8.0.1 you're looking for


When Apple rolled out the new iOS 8, they pulled some features broken by bugs discovered at the last minute. Remember hearing about HealthKit, that thing that was supposed to make your iPhone a secure lockbox for all kinds of wellness and medical info? That was one of the features pulled. Apple promised a fix by the end of the month.

So today they released iOS 8.0.1 — but only briefly. It turns out that update had more serious problems, like breaking cellular reception (d'oh!) and iPhones' Touch ID fingerprint reader, so it was quickly removed from Apple's servers.

So, what now? Sit tight. Apple promises to provide more information as quickly as they can.

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What's better than free Kahwa Coffee?

Maybe I'm the last one to know about this, but Kahwa Coffee introduced its own smartphone app this week.

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'Burritos are the best thing about being in love'


The keyboard in Apple's new iOS will guess words for you, with humorous results.


So, you might have heard that Apple released iOS 8 yesterday, the latest version of the operating software that runs iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. Lots of new features, lots of new stuff to learn how to do, traditional first-day hiccups (All that stuff about Apple's new HealthKit for managing your fitness data? Never mind, for now.) — but my favorite thing I've read about the new hotness is this:

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Warning: Dropbox isn't playing nice with iOS8

A Dropbox company blog notes that iThing users who've updated to iOS8 today are reporting problems uploading photos and videos. There's a support document available here. (Tip o' the hat to

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Will you be an iOS8 early adopter today? You'll need to get this important question right

(TL;DR — For the time being, the answer to "Upgrade to iCloud Drive? Not Now?" is Not Now.)

The next generation of iOS — the software that runs Apple's iPhones, iPads and iPod touches — comes out today, with release set for 1 p.m. Florida time. There's no real reason you need to download it immediately, and a couple pretty good reasons to wait until the dust settles a bit. But there's always a rush of folks who want to get their first look at the new hotness on the first day.

Regardless, you should know this: During the iOS upgrade process, you're going to be asked if you want to upgrade to iCloud Drive, Apple's new tool for letting information in your apps stay in sync between your iThings, your Mac and the Cloud. Eventually, when it all works as designed, it should be a good deal — but that day is not today. …

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Hope you were having a good hair day Friday


If you blinked, you’re probably out of luck for a while: Astronaut snaps, tweets quick pic of 19.32 million Floridians.

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A couple quick links for iThing users

Remember how bent some folks were that Apple bought them U2's new album — then essentially walked over to their bookshelf and stuck it in their CD changer? Well, Apple heard their complaints, and they're here to help. They released a special Songs of Innocence Removal Tool yesterday to help you get it out of your iTunes Library, if it bothers you so much. It doesn't seem like the kind of thing you'd need instructions to use, but they gave it its own support document, too.

Oh, and tomorrow is Sept. 17, meaning it's the release date for Apple's new operating system software for iPhones, iPads and iPod touches — iOS 8. There are plenty of guides out there for preparing your iThing for an upgrade — I thought Macworld's was pretty good. (Be sure to check out the "Leave a way back" section about how to keep a copy of iOS 7 in case you hate 8 and want to downgrade.) …

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Microsoft is buying Minecraft

Do your kids play Minecraft? (Or do you?) It's a popular open-ended game that lets users explore a Lego-like virtual world. It's been dowloaded 100 million times to PCs around the world, it's the most popular game on Xbox, and it's the top paid app in Apple's and Google's online stores — and the company that makes it (Mojang) is being purchased by Microsoft for $2.5 billion.

What will that mean for the game? That's still not clear. The company's software development team is joining Microsoft Studios, but founders Markus Persson (known as "Notch") Carl Manneh and Jakob Porsér are leaving the company. Mojang posted their confirmation online today.

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How do you really feel about that new U2 album showing up in your iTunes music library?

Also from Macworld today: Regardless of how you feel about getting U2's new album for free (even at that price, was it worth what you paid?), you might not appreciate having it suddenly show up among your music — you know, the music you actually decided on your own that you personally think is important to you? Here's a good explanation of why you are or aren't seeing it in your music library, and how you can make it go away for good if you decide you really don't want to see it.

There are a few folks out there who are genuinely angry about this, by the way. The way Apple was doing this did seem unusual to me on Tuesday — that they were actually buying it for people, rather than just making it available as a free download. Apple clearly wanted to make a big splash, something offering a free download wouldn't do. …

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Why you're suddenly paying much less for iCloud now (unless you weren't paying for it before)

Apple Inc.

We got an email on our home account yesterday evening letting is know that our current iCloud storage plan was going to start costing us a little less than half what we signed up to pay. (Yes, we pay for iCloud — we can't seem to back up two iPhones for my wife and I, plus two iPod touches for our kids, plus my iPad in the storage you get with a free account, as much as I'd like to.) Plus, we'll get the difference in a prorated refund.

"Nice," I thought. "Wait — huh?"

Here's what's up with that, courtesy of the newly decimated Macworld staff.

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What was up with Apple's terrible live video stream yesterday? Maybe this

Apple CEO Tim Cook smiles as he introduces the Apple Watch on Tuesday in Cupertino, Calif.

Associated Press

Apple CEO Tim Cook smiles as he introduces the Apple Watch on Tuesday in Cupertino, Calif.

Apple didn't have the best of luck providing a live video stream of the big show they put on yesterday. Anyone who counted on being able to watch the company's live video stream likely had trouble seeing it — and when they could see it, they had trouble making out what CEO Tim Cook and friends were saying through the Chinese(?) translation that seemed dubbed over the English audio.

"So what the hell happened?" asks writer Yoni Heisler. "How did Apple, which did quite a bit to hype up this event, manage to completely botch what would have otherwise been an exciting way to take in all the festivities?" Could they really have misjudged how many people would want to see what was going on?

Heisler points to a theory suggested by Dan Rayburn at Streaming Media: It wasn't the number of viewers that was the problem, it was the Twitter integration they attempted on the pages hosting the video feed, adding some special code to display tweets about the event. …

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So, Apple put on a little thing today …

Apple Inc.

Did you watch (no pun intended)? That thing was, like, 2 hours long! Anyway, Here's the nitty gritty:

  • The Apple Watch is unveiled. (That's it in the photo, of course.)
  • The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus look exactly like you'd been told to expect, but have some nifty new tech under the hood.
  • You'll be able to pay for stuff using an iPhone and Touch ID.
  • iOS8 will be available starting Sept. 17.
  • If you have an iTunes Store account, you just bought U2's new album (tho' it didn't cost you anything).
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    Apple is set for its big (whatever) announcement tomorrow

    Apple Inc.

    In New York, they've already started lining up (MacDailyNews). For what? Well, no one can say for certain, although some claim to be making educated guesses. (

    Here's what we do know: Apple has scheduled an invitation-only event for 1 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow, Sept. 9, at the Flint Center in Cupertino, Calif. They've posted a countdown to their own live coverage. If you'd rather, you can bookmark links now to others' live coverage, too (Macworld, MacRumors via Twitter, TUAW — even the stuffy New York Times). For some as yet unknown reason, they built a huge white construction in front of the Flint Center, seemingly taller than the theater itself ( Maybe it's a stage for U2 (Business Insider).

    That pretty much covers everything we know for sure. However …

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