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ExtraBITS for 5 January 2015

In ExtraBITS this week, we have news about Apple halting online sales in Russia, a theoretical redesign of the venerable Get Info window, and a DIY project for identifying unsecured Wi-Fi networks with a hobbit sword. Plus, you can listen to Adam and Tonya talk about tech journalism and Josh Centers discuss App Store inconsistencies and the future of the Apple TV.

A Sting for Open Wi-Fi Networks -- If you feel a deep connection to the Elven smiths of lost Gondolin, or if you just want a magic glowing sword (and who doesn’t?), Spark IO has just the project for you: a sword that glows blue when it detects an unsecured Wi-Fi network. The do-it-yourself project requires a plastic replica of Bilbo’s sword from “The Hobbit”, an inexpensive Spark Core Wi-Fi development kit, and two AA batteries. When assembled, your Sting will detect nearby open Wi-Fi networks, glow blue, and publish a message on the network. Not guaranteed to kill Mirkwood spiders.

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Design Firm Ramotion Reimagines the Get Info Window -- Despite notable visual changes throughout the past few versions of OS X, the Get Info window hasn’t evolved significantly in years. Design firm Ramotion has mocked up an alternative approach for the Get Info window that emphasizes the information that the user probably wants to see. It’s both more attractive and more functional, and Apple would do well to take note. And as Khoi Vinh of Subtraction.com has noted, the Fonts and Colors palettes are even more in need of redesign.

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Apple Halts Online Sales in Russia -- Russia’s economy is in a tailspin due to falling oil prices, and the resulting fluctuations in the ruble have caused Apple to halt online sales there. Apple had already increased the Russian price of the iPhone 6 by 25 percent due to the ruble’s plummet. Apple’s online store is its primary means of selling to customers in Russia, since the company has no physical stores in the country.

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Josh Centers Discusses App Store Rules with the Tech Night Owl -- TidBITS Managing Editor Josh Centers again joined the Tech Night Owl podcast to discuss Apple’s recent App Store inconsistencies, as well as the future of the iPad and Apple TV.

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Adam and Tonya Engst Discuss Tech Journalism on MacVoices -- On a recent MacVoices interview with Chuck Joiner, Adam and Tonya Engst engaged in a far-ranging conversation about how tech journalism has changed over the last year, how Take Control Books is evolving, and why you won’t always see the latest breaking news appearing on TidBITS (hint: we only want your eyeballs when there’s something worthwhile for them to look at).

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