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Folks buy the highly secure Blackphone handset for the warm and fuzzy feeling that nobody can see their stuff, but that trust was misplaced until recently, according to security expert Mark Dowd. He found a vulnerability in the text message application of the phone that let attackers steal messages, contacts and location info, and even execute malicious code to gain full control. All a bad guy needed to know was the device's "SilentCircle" account info or phone number.

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See that room above? It looks real, but it's not -- and by that we mean it's just a 3D environment made in Unreal Engine 4. Sure, we already have a pretty good idea what the new engine can do, such as bringing realistic skin (among other things) to games. But this "Unreal Paris" project by CG designer Dereau Benoît proves that it can be used to create objects and environments that look more like photographs of the real thing rather than CG. Benoît has created a snazzy Parisian apartment with receiving rooms, dining area, kitchen, bedroom, hallways and even a full bathroom.

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Dell XPS 13 review (2015): Meet the world's smallest 13-inch laptop

CES has come and gone; the holidays are long past; and now all we're left with are a few months of dreary weather. No fun, right? Right. Except if you're a tech writer. Now that most major companies have revealed their new lineups, we have the exciting job of testing all this stuff; seeing how it holds up in real life. The first product of the year to cross my desk: none other than the Dell XPS 13, a compact 13-inch laptop that ranked as a finalist for our annual Best of CES awards. In addition to being the first system we've tested with Intel's new fifth-generation Core processor, the redesigned XPS is notable for its nearly bezel-less display -- a design feat that allows it to have the footprint of an 11-inch machine. Particularly with a starting price of $800 (pretty reasonable for a flagship laptop), it seemed poised to become one of our new favorite Ultrabooks. And you know what? It actually is.

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Did you play Monument Valley (above left), the gorgeous perspective-based puzzler from last year? It costs $4 on Google Play / iTunes, and is one of 2014's best games. And now you can get it for free. Sort of. You see, Ketchapp, the studio behind Threes! knock-off 2048 is at it again. With Skyward (above right), the developer's created a game that bears more than a passing resemblance to ustwo Studio's Apple Design Award winner. Whereas Monument Valley is a relaxing, almost zen-like experience that's more about logic puzzles than twitch reactions, Skyward is a shallow attempt at disguising a tired Flappy Bird clone by wrapping it in pastel colors and M.C. Escher-like aesthetics. Oh, and it's full of obtrusive ads for retirement planning and compact cars -- junk that's thankfully missing from Monument Valley.

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'Harry Potter' on Oyster

If you're the sort of Harry Potter fan who can't help but read the series again and again, Oyster has a treat in store. The all-you-can-read subscription service has teamed up with Pottermore to carry all of the Harry Potter books, including the Hogwarts Library collection. There's even a little treat the first time you start reading -- rather than pick from one of the humdrum standard themes, you choose your favorite Hogwarts house (Slytherin, obviously). You probably don't want to sign up for Oyster's $10 a month service just for the sake of reliving Harry's school years, but it's potentially cheaper than purchasing the series on top of a slew of other books.

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Sony today revealed PlayStation Music, a new Spotify-powered music service coming to PlayStation 3, 4 and "Xperia smartphones and tablets" this spring. The service will outright replace Music Unlimited, the service that Sony previously implemented across devices, powered by its own enormous music catalog. The news marks the first time Spotify has come to any game console, and is a major coup for Sony's PlayStation group in the battle for major home entertainment apps on game consoles (Xbox One notoriously got HBO Go first).

PlayStation Music will require a Spotify paid subscription (the "Premium" membership), and enables both playback on the aforementioned devices and the ability to listen to music in the background during games. When the service launches at some point in Spring 2015, it'll be available in "41 markets around the world."

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The DJI Phantom drone that crashed at the White House'

DJI really, really doesn't want to see its drones in the news for the wrong reasons. Just a day after the world learned that one of its robotic vehicles crash-landed at the White House, the company is pushing out a "mandatory" firmware update for its Phantom 2 drones that prevents you from flying anywhere within a 15.5-mile radius of downtown Washington, DC. The move is practically necessary given FAA guidelines barring unmanned vehicles from flying in the area. However, it also means that there's no longer much point to owning a DJI drone in the US capital -- unless you refuse to install any upgrades or regularly head out of the city, you now own a very expensive paperweight.

[Image credit: US Secret Service]

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60012.JPG Eiffel Tower and Paris Martial Colomb

France is eying new laws that would make the likes of Facebook and Google accountable for hosting extremist messages. As Bloomberg tells it, the new talk is a direct response to terrorist attacks from earlier this month, and should the draft law pass, it'd make online entities "accomplices" for hosting hate speech or terrorism sites. French president François Hollande addressed the sharp increase in terrorist recruitment over the internet, saying:

"We must act at the European and international level to define a legal framework so that Internet platforms which manage social media be considered responsible and that sanctions can be taken."

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Look, it isn't easy making GIFs on the computer without the right applications, so it's giving us a headache thinking of the work that goes into each of these graffiti-turned-GIFs by an artist named INSA. Especially the one you see above, because the piece was so large, its pictures were taken by a couple of Pleiades satellites from space. To be exact, the satellites took the snapshots in orbit, 431 miles above the ground -- the ISS, in comparison, is orbiting the Earth at an altitude of around 268 miles. But first, let's go back to how INSA makes these GIFs. See, he doesn't manipulate pictures of his work on the computer to make these "Gif-itis" (that's not a disease, it's GIF + graffiti, get it?): he actually repaints the graffiti over and over, taking pictures of each iteration.

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App Car Service Startups Continue To Irk Traditional Cab Companies And Regulators

Uber has inked a deal with insurer Metromile that addresses a huge question mark: whether its drivers are sufficiently insured between fares. Until now, the ridesharing firm has been giving US drivers $1 million in commercial liability coverage when they actually had a passenger in the car. But when they were heading to pick up the next ride or driving for personal use, the situation was dicier. Uber only requires that drivers use private insurance between fares, but many companies, including Allstate, Geico and State Farm, often flat-out refuse to cover ridesharing vehicles. Uber does insure drivers between fares if private companies won't pay, but limits injury liability to a paltry $50,000 for victims outside the car.

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