The last time Apple released a new version of OS X, we came away feeling a little... underwhelmed. Don't get us wrong: We'll never say no to a free software upgrade. But despite a handful of new apps and features, last year's Mavericks release still felt like the same old OS X. You can't say that about Yosemite, though. The company's next-gen operating system ushers in the Mac's biggest makeover in years, with a flat, streamlined look inspired by iOS 7. Yosemite works more like iOS too, particularly the part where you can route phone calls to your desktop. You'll also enjoy improved Spotlight search, with results that include news, local restaurant listings, Wikipedia pages, movie times and quick unit conversions. Safari works much the same way, and includes some enhanced privacy settings, too. Right now, Yosemite isn't quite finished -- it won't arrive until sometime this fall -- but you can sign up for the public beta, which will open tomorrow for the first million people who enlist. In the meantime, I've been using an early build for a week now. Here's a quick preview for those of you who can't wait till tomorrow.

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Apple's public beta for OS X Yosemite begins tomorrow

The Apple we know is run by a bunch of perfectionists. The company only shows off final devices at its launch events, and developers are strictly forbidden from sharing screenshots of upcoming iOS releases. This is a company that doesn't usually bother with sneak peeks. Or do they? Apple announced a few months ago that it would carry out a public beta-testing program for OS X Yosemite, its next-gen Mac operating system, allowing regular people to give feedback before it eventually gets a wide release. Now, the testing period is finally about to begin: Apple says that beta users will be able to download an early version of the OS starting tomorrow at around 1PM Eastern. If you've already signed up to join the beta program, you don't need to do anything; you'll get a notification tomorrow when the OS is ready to download. If you haven't gotten around to it yet, though, we suggest you get on that ASAP: Only one million people are allowed to participate in this early-stage testing, which means slowpokes might not get a chance.

Update: Our preview of OS X Yosemite is already up, even before the public beta period begins. Read it here!

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Don't be too shocked, but the UK government's porn filter isn't proving very popular. A new report from communications regulator Ofcom reveals that just one in every seven customers are letting the big four UK ISPs guard them from porn and other online nasties. While tiny minorities of users at Virgin Media (four percent), BT (five percent) and Sky (eight percent) opted to keep the filter, TalkTalk ranked as a significant outlier: it reports that 36 percent of customers enabled the government-mandated filters on their home router. TalkTalk puts it down to the fact it pre-ticks the selection box, meaning more customers are likely to keep the option enabled on their account.

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If you've every wanted to try X-Men-style telepathic brainwave amplification, Cerebro isn't real (yet) -- but the Oculus Rift is a damn good surrogate. 20th Century Fox will let you step into Charles Xavier's mind and don the futuristic headgear (the Rift, that is) at Comic-Con in San Diego, starting tonight. Each participant will be immersed in a three minute, panoramic VR presentation on a quest to find nudest of all mutants, Mystique, with the best reactions recorded on a GoPro for Facebook posterity. On top of the VR experience, Fox is offering a limited-edition, thousand-run of X-Men: The Cerebro Collection in a replica Cerebro helmet on pre-order for $80, or $90 with X-Men: Days of Future Past. The latter will also be up for pre-order at $23 alone and both will arrive October 14th, with the Digital HD version set to come on September 23rd.

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Whether you're a fan of Captain Kirk or Picard (we're Team Picard here), you have to admit it's apt that William Shatner is reviewing the celebrity-exclusive Facebook app -- he definitely loves some VIP prestige. The Priceline huckster gives a surprisingly in-depth feature-by-feature comparison between The Social Network's Mentions app and Pages, which everyone has access to, but not before throwing some shade toward the starship Enterprise's yellow-shirted helmsman and all-around social-media-guy George Takei. Apparently, when you first sign into Mentions you can't proceed any further until you follow one of Facebook's suggested celebrity accounts.

"The first person on the list I was given was George Takei (rolling my eyes.) I ended up choosing Robert Downey Jr. to follow and then I hid his posts (sorry Robert!)."

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With Nokia's range of Android-powered smartphones all but dead, Microsoft is pushing its newly-acquired Lumia line harder than ever. Today, it's introduced the lowest-priced Windows Phone to date, the Lumia 530, delivering middle-of-the-road specs for €85 ($114). For that, you'll get a 4-inch FWVGA (854 x 480) display, quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal memory (with support for 128GB microSD storage). There's also a 5-megapixel camera on the rear (no selfie camera here folks), which is controlled by Microsoft's latest Windows Phone 8.1 software. That, of course, offers access to Cortana (if you're in the US), the new WordFlow swipe keyboard and a multitude of other custom Microsoft- and Nokia-crafted apps. Like its older siblings, the Lumia 530 will also come in both single and dual SIM (3G) variants and offer interchangeable back covers, which will be available in the traditional orange, green, white and dark grey colors. Microsoft's latest Lumia will go on a global tour in the near future, starting with an initial rollout in "select markets" from next month.

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judges gavel and law books...

Most YouTubers just get a takedown notice if someone reports them using copyrighted tunes with their videos. But when that user is a huge star on the video portal like make-up guru Michelle Phan, who has almost 7 million subscribers and was even featured on YouTube's TV ad campaign, then things get a bit more intense. Electronic dance record label Ultra Music (home to Deadmau5 and other popular artists of the genre) just slapped Phan with a copyright infringement lawsuit, which accuses her of using 50 tracks released under the company without permission. Ultra wants Phan to pay $150,000 for each instance, claiming she profited from its artists' music, most likely because 1.) she's a YouTube partner, and 2.) the fame she gained on the website eventually led to lucrative deals with cosmetics companies Lancôme and L'Oreal.

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NES30 retro gamepad controller

We've ripped apart knock-off gadgets more than a few times, but there are moments where a company's urge to mimic others will pay dividends. Take 8Bitdo's recently released NES30, for example: the Bluetooth gamepad recreates as much of the NES controller's design as possible while still keeping its feet planted in the modern era. The four extra buttons aren't exactly true to the 1985 original, but the overall look and button presses are reportedly faithful to what you remember. Even if it's not quite true to life, you might not mind given the very broad device support. The NES30 can talk to Android, iOS, OS X and Windows, and it can even double as a (fairly awkward-looking) Wii remote in a pinch.

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a senior worker driving the...

The National Bureau of Economic Research just published a paper that confirms what you might have been thinking for a long time now: recession and technology have been putting people out of work. Since we've yet to design a self-aware robot or AI that can do anything, machines have mostly been taking over routine jobs that entail repetitive tasks, like factory work and sales. Sure, humans are perfectly capable of doing those, but the recession has been forcing companies to downsize and delegate those tasks to computers and machineries instead. Those most affected by this shift are the young and less educated -- high school graduates, for one, are the first in line for unemployment. Men are also more in danger of being replaced by machines than women, who tend to climb up from blue-collar jobs to higher-paying ones over time.

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Store listings in Google Maps on the web and mobile

Google Maps already shows a wealth of info about nearby stores when you're searching for them, but ads haven't received that first-class treatment. Like it or not, that's changing; Maps on mobile and the web now shows you a whole raft of details for relevant store ads, including links to call those shops. The move is likely to prove a mixed blessing. While it will help you learn more about interesting ads and might just lead to discovering a nice restaurant, it could also downplay the importance of the actual search results -- not good if you're just trying to reach an eatery before it shuts down for the night. The odds are that the richer promotions won't hamper your day-to-day navigation in a significant way, but you'll want to keep an eye out for that yellow "ad" icon the next time you're tracking down some sushi.

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