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Reddit Alien

Imagine a version of Reddit that's fully peer-to-peer like BitTorrent, and which relies on small Bitcoin transactions to function. That's something the company was actually considering last year, according to Ryan Charles, Reddit's former cryptocurrency engineer. He was hired by former Reddit CEO Yishan Wong to lead the decentralization project -- a dream that didn't last for long. After Reddit nabbed a huge $50 million funding round, Charles shifted over to a project focused on returning Reddit shares to its users via Bitcoin (which was also killed off). He eventually left the company after just four months. Today, the idea of a fully P2P Reddit remains an intriguing one, especially since it would have helped the company avoid much of the turmoil it's currently seeing.

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Hands taking photo oatmeal with smartphone. Instagram

According to The Verge, Instagram has begun storing images at 1080 x 1080 pixels, far larger than the standard 640 x 640 pixels they are stored as now. The thing is, you can't actually see the larger images natively in either the web version or the apps. They actually only show up as recently uploaded photos and even then, you'll need to dig around in the source code to actually see them. To do so, go to the desktop version of Instagram and navigate to any of your recently uploaded images. Open the page source code, invoke the Find function and search for '.jpg". That URL will lead you to a 1080 x 1080 version of the image. Huzzah? Still, the larger photos could portend a bigger, better viewing experience in future versions of the app -- or at least HD advertising.

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While Amazon already offered mobile apps for sorting your photos and music parked in its Cloud Drive repository, there wasn't an option for getting at all of your stored files. Late last week, a dedicated Cloud Drive app for iOS arrived in the iTunes App Store, joining both Android and Amazon versions that debuted in late June -- all three of which rolled out rather quietly. Similar to the Dropbox app, the mobile software allows you to organize and access photos, videos, documents, spereadsheets and other files you've stored in Cloud Drive. As you might expect, you can also preview images (no editing abilities), PDFs and other documents from within before sharing in another app, with a link or as an email attachment. And yes, you can use the app to play videos and music stored in Amazon's cloud, too. Until now, desktop apps for PC and Mac offered the only direct access to Cloud Drive as a whole, and mobile devices could only leverage those media-specific apps.

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Samsung's 2TB 850-series SSD

You no longer have to bend over backwards to get more than a terabyte of fast, flash-based storage in your home computer. Samsung is shipping 2TB versions of its 850 Evo and 850 Pro solid-state drives, giving you as much capacity as a decent-sized spinning hard drive while maintaining that all-important SSD speed. They're only available for desktops at the moment, but Samsung is promising similarly cavernous models for laptops. Just be prepared to pay dearly for these no-compromise drives right now -- the 'standard' 2TB 850 Evo is officially priced at $800, while the slightly faster, longer-lasting 850 Pro could easily break the bank at $1,000.

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Lenovo LaVie Z series review: super light, super compromised

The Lenovo LaVie Z series is a winner. Or at least it was before I tested one for this review. The HZ550, as it was originally called, captured our attention at CES for being the lightest-ever 13-inch laptop: just 1.7 pounds. Its sibling, the touchscreen HZ750, wasn't much heavier at 2.04 pounds. In either case, Lenovo promised surprisingly robust performance, with the help of full-fledged Intel Core CPUs (i.e., not the sort of watered-down chips we typically see in thin-and-light machines). The combination of portability and processing clout was enough to win the LaVie series a Best of CES Award in the PC category, beating out some stiff competition. While I don't regret my decision -- the LaVie was, after all, one of the more memorable products we saw at CES -- I don't think you should actually spend $1,399-plus on it. Here's why.

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Get set for a live-action version of Transformers, as the company behind giant Japanese robot Kuratas has accepted a duel challenge from upstart US challenger MegaBot. However, it'll only fight on one condition: Combat must be hand-to-hand with no guns. Kuratas has been around for three years and even went on sale for $1.35 million at one point. Since MegaBot was only just completed, the Japanese company was taken aback by the offer to fight. Still, it couldn't resist needling its new rival. "My reaction? Come on guys, make it cooler. Just building something huge and sticking guns on it is... super American," said CEO Kogoro Kurata.

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Black limousines. New York City.

Uber has been forced to recruit private security guards to preserve the safety of its drivers in Johannesburg, South Africa. The move was prompted by protests at the city's Gautrain Station and Sandton City that threatened to break out into violence. According to Eyewitness News, a group of disgruntled taxi drivers tried to intimidate drivers of Uber vehicles, as well as the passengers themselves. In one incident, a driver was held at gunpoint and had their car keys pulled from the ignition. The protesters then turned their attention to the would-be customers, telling them that they were "taking away business from South Africa."

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That camera you see above is the GoPro Hero4 Session, the fifth and newest member to the company's current line-up. You can't have avoided noticing that the Hero4 Session is a small black square, and not the traditional silver matchbox, or gray lump we're used to. It's the most striking update in design we've seen from GoPro for, well, ever. The smaller, lighter form factor is the most obvious talking point, but the feature set is interesting too, for a mix of reasons.

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When you call your enterprise "Hacking Team" you'd like to think you're pretty on top of that whole, well, hacking thing. Yet here we are, telling you about how the aforementioned organization has just seen 400GB of data pilfered from its servers, and put onto BitTorrent for all to see. Hacking Team is known for its controversial "Da Vinci" software that allows governments and law enforcement agencies to monitor encrypted communications such as email and Skype conversations, and collect evidence on citizens. It's fair to say it's not popular with journalists and privacy advocates.

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Israel-Sira-070508 001

Google's navigation subsidiary Waze is getting into the carpooling business via a pilot program in Israel, according to Reuters. The application, called RIdeWith, will use the company's traffic reporting system to figure out popular routes and match drivers with users going the same direction. Unlike contentious ridesharing services from Lyft and Uber, however, Waze's program won't allow drivers to earn a salary. Instead, they can only claim two trips a day, and collect just enough from riders to cover gas and vehicle wear-and-tear.

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The Swiss aren't big on littering, and that philosophy apparently applies to space, too. After the nation's EPFL Center for Space Engineering launched its first satellites (the tiny SwissCubes) into orbit, the very next mission planned was "CleanSpace One" to get them out of orbit. For one, the researchers didn't want to add to the reams of existing space garbage threatening other satellites and astronauts at speeds of up to 15,000mph. But mainly, they want to test a practical system for cleaning space junk with relatively small targets. After considering various systems, the EPFL has settled on a "Pac-Man" solution that will trap the satellites with a conical net.

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Amazon's turning 20 on July 15th and will celebrate the occasion by giving you another reason to sign up for Prime. The company is launching Prime Day, a "global shopping event" that promises to have "more deals than Black Friday." Unfortunately, you'll only be allowed to participate if you give Jeff Bezos $99 a year, or you take this chance to sign up for the free trial. The event kicks off at midnight PST on July 15th, and is open to all members in nine countries including the US, Canada and the UK. Of course, since Amazon sells more than just big-box electronics, you'll also find lightning deals in every department from clothing and sports through to patio furniture. We don't know if this is intended to become an annual event, but we've asked the company, since it'll take a few years for the diary makers to catch on.

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