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ExtraBITS for 16 March 2015

In this week’s collection of links, Adam Engst discussed Apple’s latest announcements on The Tech Night Owl podcast, Google revealed a new Chromebook Pixel, we found out if Apple’s switch from MagSafe to USB-C will endanger the 12-inch MacBook, product designer Greg Koenig examined the Apple Watch’s manufacturing process, the Wall Street Journal explained how Apple is taking over your local mall, and Josh Centers spoke about the CIA hacking Apple on The Dan Benjamin Hour.

Adam Springs Forward on The Tech Night Owl -- On the latest episode of The Tech Night Owl Live, Adam Engst joins host Gene Steinberg to talk about the many announcements at Apple’s “Spring Forward” event, including the Apple Watch, the 12-inch MacBook (with a focus on USB-C and the new keyboard), and the Apple TV’s price drop.

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New Chromebook Pixel Challenges 13-inch MacBook Pro -- It’s not aiming at Apple’s tiny new 12-inch MacBook, but Google’s new second-generation Chromebook Pixel boasts specs and prices that compete directly with the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display (for context, see “Google’s Chromebook Makes for a Fine Auxiliary Laptop,” 24 February 2014). The new Chrome OS-based laptop is slightly smaller and lighter than the MacBook Pro yet features a 12.85-inch, 2560-by-1700 Retina-level touchscreen and can also drive an external 4K display. In terms of connectivity, it has two USB-C ports for charging and peripherals, two standard USB ports, and an SD card reader, along with dual-band 802.11ac wireless and Bluetooth 4.0 (no LTE option this time, alas). Its battery lasts up to 12 hours, and it has a 720p video camera. There are two models, one with a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of flash storage for $999, and another with a 2.4 GHz Intel Core i7, 16 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of storage for $1,299.

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Will the New MacBook Crash to the Ground? -- With the new MacBook abandoning MagSafe for the new USB-C standard for charging, many Mac owners are wondering if Apple’s newest notebook will be vulnerable to potentially disastrous cable snags. The answer is yes: the MacBook can be dragged off a desk by its charging cable. Over at Macworld, Glenn Fleishman provides proof in the form of some impressively detailed Newtonian physics.

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Examining How the Apple Watch Is Made -- If you’re intrigued by the design of the Apple Watch and wonder how it’s actually made, you’ll want to read this detailed blog post by product designer Greg Koenig. Koenig goes through the Apple Watch manufacturing videos step by step, describing the process and giving context on materials and techniques.

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Apple Stores Drive Mall Traffic -- Traditionally, so-called “anchor stores” have been the main attractions at shopping malls. But as old-fashioned department stores become less relevant, Apple is becoming a major driver of mall traffic. An Apple Store can lift mall sales by 10 percent, and as a result, Apple can get much better deals on rent than similarly sized stores.

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Josh Centers Talks CIA Hacking on The Dan Benjamin Hour -- Managing Editor Josh Centers called into The Dan Benjamin Hour to discuss revelations that the CIA is working to break the security of Apple devices. Josh gives an overview of what’s been revealed, and offers some insight into what average users can do to protect themselves (not much).

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