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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Remember that Facebook Messenger loophole?

The Messages tab in my newly updated Facebook app doesn't have messages in it anymore — even after using the canceled-download trick.

Facebook

The Messages tab in my newly updated Facebook app doesn't have messages in it anymore — even after using the canceled-download trick.

I mentioned it a few days ago. From the screen shot above, it looks like Facebook might have closed it.

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Dropbox Pro now offers 1TB of storage for the same price

Dropbox.com

This came out Wednesday, but it was news to me today — the same Dropbox we've been paying $99 a year for at my house now comes with 1TB of storage. (That's 1,000GB, or 1,000,000MB, or — well, you get the idea.) I've written in passing about Drobox before. In short, I've found it totally worth the price. The new upgrade comes with other enhancements in security and sharing, but to me the w00t was clearly the 1TB.

(Tip o' the hat to TUAW.)

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Don't believe what you're reading on Facebook and Twitter about vaccines and autism

 Phil Plait, right, gets his vaccinations. So should you.

Slate.com

Phil Plait, right, gets his vaccinations. So should you.

Phil Plait is doing his best today to help keep you from falling for the latest conspiracy theory being spread by a known fraud and quack:

Stuff like this used to make me really angry, but now it makes me sad. Diseases like measles, pertussis, chicken pox, and polio are dangerous, and they’re making a comeback, in no small part due to misinformation spread by anti-vaxxers.

I know that many of the people making these claims are honest; they're speaking from their heart out of concern for their children. As a parent and a human being, I’m concerned about this as well. And that’s precisely why I write about the realities of vaccines: They are extremely effective, and their risk is incredibly small compared with their benefits. Conspiracy theories like this new one have the potential to do a lot of damage. Ironically, by avoiding vaccinations, the people it’s likely to hurt are the very ones their parents are trying to protect.

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Busted: Five myths about Facebook's Messenger app

Facebook recently forced smartphone users to download its standalone Messenger app if they want to send messages. Many are upset about the change.

Associated Press

Facebook recently forced smartphone users to download its standalone Messenger app if they want to send messages. Many are upset about the change.

The paper picked up this nifty Messenger myths vs. reality article in today's paper. It's a great refresher if you've got concerns about the hysteria surrounding Messenger — and even if you don't, really.

I wasn't sure about some of the reasoning ("Facebook says it's forcing users to make the switch because a standalone app offers more features. For example, the app is faster, offers a selfie cam" — but the regular old Facebook app let me use my phone's front-facing camera, and I'm not sure how a Messenger "selfie cam" could be different), but I did appreciate the walkthrough for the still-working-as-of-this-moment workaround for getting your messages back on the tab in the Facebook app.

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In which I briefly test your patience by just rambling about another of my favorite things

Yesterday, I gushed about The Wirecutter; today, it's something else entirely.

I always felt like there's a fine line between talking about technology and talking about science, in the sense that appreciating one means, on some level, appreciating the other. You really can't love your smartphone, for example, and believe the moon landings were a NASA hoax.

Yet some people do.

So I've become fond of Phil Plait, an astronomer, author and tireless science evangelizer for Slate. Today, he's calling out folks who deny climate change is happening, and/or that human beings play any role in it. He also calls attention to the dangerous antivaccination movement. He's a great follow on Twitter, too (@BadAstronomer — get it?).

Here's my take: Your politics and religion are about your search for personal Truth, with a capital T. But good science is about Fact. It's about what we can actually observe and measure about the universe around us, from the most grandiose scale to the most microscopic. And if your Truth doesn't fit well with the way the universe works … well, it's not the universe that's going to bend to accommodate you.

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The Wirecutter's summertime gear list looks like good advice year-round

thewirecutter.com

I'm a relative newcomer to The Wirecutter, Brian Lam's project that maintains regularly updated best-of lists curated by qualified reviewers — but I'm becoming a big fan.

Despite the intense soldering-iron-and-safety-glasses tone of the site's title, it offers simple guides to finding the best headphones, or TV set or camera, of course, but also guides for finding a good water bottle, weather app (Android or iOS), yoga mat or surge protector. You get a full explanation about the reviewers' preferences, why the top pick was chosen (which often helps you realize you might be better off in your circumstances with their second choice) and what torture they put their gizmos through. They even provide price alerts when one of their picks goes on sale.

Anyway, I was browsing through their "Summertime Gear for 2014" page today, and trust me: the advice you'll find here can help Floridians year-round. Find a great beach umbrella or beach towel. What you need for a good barbecue or picnic. Stuff you can stash in your car and forget about until you really need it. …

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Your phone might take a dive, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's dead

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iStockphoto.com

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Rob Griffiths (@rgriff) posted a story to Macworld early this morning describing the dip his phone took in a 10-foot-deep lake last weekend — and how he brought it back from the dead.

His method was pretty extreme (he eventually completely disassembled the phone, dried everything with compressed air and reassembled it), but it's good to know some simpler ways to salvage a phone that's taken a dunk.

First of all: Act quickly. Get your phone out of the wet as soon as you can. Resist the urge to start pressing buttons. Instead, immediately power it down and disconnect anything and everything that can be disconnected. Remove the battery (if your phone has a removable battery), take out the SIM card and open every socket and door that might be covered. Only after that, take a towel and dry the outside of your phone. …

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How to check your browser for Photozoom malware — and remove it

Macworld posted an item today from senior contributor Ted Landau (@tedlandau) describing his realization that malware on one of his computers was inserting ads into Web pages where they didn't belong. There are likely many folks out there who might see this malware every day and never realize it. His computer was a Mac, but you can likely follow his instructions on any computer you own.

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