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There's a distinctive sound your computer makes when an online friend is trying to get your attention. Sometimes its high pitched, other times its a low, warm tone, but regardless of your chat software, the onomatopoeia probably reads something like "bleep" which -- by no coincidence, we're sure -- is what BitTorrent is calling its new messaging platform. Unlike Google Hangouts, AIM or Skype, however, Bleep is a decentralized communication platform, design specifically to protect user metadata and anonymity.

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Despite years of rumors about what Apple might, could or should do to revolutionize the TV experience, the company hasn't done much beyond releasing (and occasionally updating) its Apple TV set-top box. The Information reports that engineers working on the long-rumored project to go further, have been told not to expect a launch this year, and are targeting 2015. If true, the leaks today reflect mostly the same situation as they did about two years ago, with Apple trying to talk cable operators and studios into a sort of joint operation. That way, viewers could watch live TV or cloud-stored recordings / VOD (plus apps and gaming) all through Apple's box and UI. Of course, working out how everyone will get paid and trying to convince operators like Comcast to give up their hold on the (often troubling) relationship with customers hasn't been easy and the usual "people in the know" say those negotiations are to blame for the slow progress.

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Looking at Russia's Vkontakte social network on an iPhone 5 in Moscow

Russia has been extra-sensitive to technological threats to its government as of late, and that's clearer than ever in the wake of a new government proposal. Communication Minister Nikolai Nikiforov has suggested that Apple and SAP should hand over their source code to prove that it doesn't have "undeclared capabilities" for spying on Russian agencies. In other words, he doesn't want to give the NSA free rein just because an official brought an iPhone to work. While he isn't certain as to whether or not institutions will keep using products whose code remains a secret, there's an implication that Apple and SAP may be locked out of government contracts if Putin and crew believe there's too much of a risk. Much of that business could go to Microsoft, which has been cooperating with Russia since 2003.

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If you've been itchin' for more info on Mountain View's compact self-driving car, you're in luck. At 11AM PT/2PM ET this Friday (August 1st), Google is hosting a live Hangout as the folks from Make take a behind the scenes look at the project for its summer camp series. The so-called Field Trip is said to have a gander at how the vehicles work and provide an update on recent developments. Those who plan on tuning in can submit specific queries in advance for the Q&A session, but even if you don't plan on posing a question, taking an early (or late) lunch seems like a solid choice.

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Chrome Web Store on Windows

If you've wanted to try the 64-bit version of Chrome for Windows 7 and 8 but have been skittish about the flakiness of very early builds, your moment has come -- Google has released a beta of its beefed-up browser. As with the Canary and developer editions, this more reliable software makes full use of modern computing power to both speed up web page rendering and tighten security. The code still isn't complete, so don't be surprised if there are a few hiccups. However, a beta means that a truly stable 64-bit browser is likely just weeks away. Even if you're not willing to throw caution to the wind, it won't be long before you can give Chrome's big upgrade a spin.

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One of the most attractive benefits of subscribing to Amazon Prime is the free two-day shipping or an overnight option available for a small fee, depending on the item and destination. But in many cases, you might not need your stuff until the following week, making the e-tailer's new "no-rush shipping" option appealing. If you opt for Amazon's slowest delivery speed, you'll also be rewarded with a $1 Amazon Instant Video credit. Credits do expire, and certain content is excluded, such as HBO titles. It's a "limited time offer," according to the site's terms and conditions, but considering the cost savings for Amazon, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect the incentive to remain.

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Day Three Of Mobile World Congress 2014

Like their fellow future doctors down the road in Irvine, medical students at Stanford University will learn surgical methods with a hand from Google Glass. Those studying cardiothoracic techniques are set use Mountain View's high-tech spectacles to stream their views in real-time to instructors with the help of CrowdOptic -- a company that's part of the Glass at Work initiative. The aforementioned California-based schools aren't the first use the gadget in surgery, as it has already streamed full procedures. Privacy concerns immediately arise when discussing the use of a hackable device in medical settings, but CrowdOptic knows how it will secure the data and comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It also won't have access to the captured video as they're set to remain Stanford's property. The streaming outfit has also locked down its own spectrum, so it doesn't have to keep tabs on steady WiFi to stay connected. With more universities and physicians opting for Glass on the regular, it seems medicine is one place the wearable fits in nicely.

[Photo credit: Angel Navarrete/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

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Modbook, the company behind those aftermarket Apple tablets, just launched a Kickstarter campaign for its latest product, the Modbook Pro X. After paying a pre-order price of $1,999 today, backers will be able to convert their own Retina MacBook Pros into a tablet beginning early next year. The conversion incorporates the laptop's original hardware, with components shifted from the lower half of the computer to just behind the 15.4-inch 2,880 x 1,800-pixel LCD.

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LG Unify on Virgin Mobile Custom

In the US, prepaid cellphone service tends to be a like-it-or-leave-it proposition that rarely fits perfectly, especially for families. Virgin Mobile may have a smarter approach in store; it's launching Custom, a prepaid family plan that lets you tailor usage to your liking. You can put as many as five people on plans that start at $7 each ($35 for unlimited talk and text) and scale up depending on individual needs. If Mom is a big fan of streaming music but rarely makes calls, she can pile on the data (or use a $5 Unlimited Music plan) and reduce her voice minutes; a chat-happy kid, meanwhile, can have gobs of messages but only minimal internet access. You can change the plans at any time from mobile apps, and built-in parental controls let you declare certain apps as off-limits during specified hours.

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