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Sprint

Sprint can't catch a break. As if its financial woes weren't enough, the outfit was recently accused of letting consumers get billed for "tens of millions" of dollars in unauthorized charges for premium text messages between 2004 and 2013. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's official charges, according to The New York Times, are that Sprint's billing system allowed third-parties to "cram" unauthorized fees onto your monthly statement. That's not all: The Federal Communications Commission is getting in on the action too, with the NYT's sources claiming that Sprint will face $105 million in refunds and restitution as a result of those unauthorized bill additions -- a bit more than it charged AT&T. We're going to imagine the government won't let the Now Network pay its fines $9.99 per month.

[Image credit: JeepersMedia/Flickr]

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Cuban woman on a cellphone

It would be an understatement to call Cuba's existing telecoms modest -- roughly five percent of residents have internet access, and cellphone access is pricey at best. The US may just turn that situation around through its new deal with Cuba, though. As part of the warmer relations, American internet and phone carriers are allowed to set up shop in the Caribbean nation. Companies will also have permission to export devices and apps that help Cubans get in touch with the rest of the world.

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The usual pre-CES flood of information is under way, and LG is announcing details of the webOS 2.0 package its smart TVs will ship with in 2015. Improving on the menus we already dug at last year's show, LG says that the new versions will improve mainly in speed, with power-on boot time reduced by 60 percent, and a 70 percent improvement when switching from the home screen to YouTube. Sluggish, unresponsive apps have been a major pain point for "smart" TVs since their introduction, so it's good to see that addressed. One thing that will remain an issue however, is that the 2.0 upgrades will require a new display, as we haven't heard about an upgrade for existing sets (or other platforms like smartwatches, or even phones). According to LG, the first webOS sets were quite popular, with over five million sold through eight months.

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In case you hadn't heard, things are still going dreadfully south for Sony Pictures. In response to a new wave of threats from its GOP cyberattackers, the studio has been coerced to postpone its December 25th theatrical premiere of The Interview. Find all the deets, and more, in the gallery below. Enjoy.

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Google Inbox on a Nexus 5

You may have to give up a few things from Gmail to use Google's task-oriented Inbox email app, but smartwatch support isn't one them. The company has updated the app (on Android) to bring Android Wear support, letting you check mail, send replies and mark completed items from the comfort of your wrist. There are some meaningful upgrades whether or not you have advanced wristwear, including suggestions for reminders and a better tablet interface. Swing by Google Play if any of these refinements are the excuse you needed to give Inbox a spin.

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According to CNN, NBC, and the New York Times, US officials will announce tomorrow that they've identified North Korea as the source behind a massive cyberattack against Sony Pictures. As a result of threats tied to the attack, Sony Pictures today cancelled the premiere of its upcoming movie The Interview. According to the sources, the government has decided North Korea was "centrally involved", even though the attack may have been launched using computers elsewhere, contrary to reports it may not have been related to that country at all. There's also no word on what, if any, response there will be to the attack. Sounds like a job for Simon.

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Lie detector

Uber has come under fire for allegedly doing little to protect passengers from unscrupulous drivers, and it's determined to improve that reputation -- in some cases, using relatively unusual methods. The ridesharing company's recently hired Head of Global Safety, Philip Cardenas, tells customers that Uber is exploring numerous techniques for verifying drivers, such as biometrics, voice fingerprinting and lie detector tests. "Scientific analysis and technology" should help make up for gaps in background check infrastructure around the world, Cardenas says.

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Back when Google Talk ran Gmail-based chats, a handy custom status window made sure all your colleagues and pals knew what you were up to. When Hangouts took over, the tool fell by the wayside. Well, now it's back. Hangouts in Gmail allows you to deliver that info once more, just like you would on AIM or Facebook, complete with the appropriate (or inappropriate) emoji should the need arise. Of course, if you're looking to let folks know when you're busy, you'll need to make sure you've made the switch to the "new Hangouts" first.

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Facebook likes to experiment with little projects that could, someday, be as popular as Poking and Graph Search. One such project is enabling selected users to sell their unwanted items on the social network, in a move that'll surely strike terror into the hearts of the folks over at Craigslist and eBay. New Zealand-based developer Indy Griffiths took to Twitter to reveal that he'd been given the option to sell an item to a group, with the button nestled next to the write post button.

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The future?

You can finally buy a virtual reality headset and use it in your home. Right now -- today -- that is possible. It doesn't cost $10,000 and it doesn't come with caveats like, "This is made for developers." Samsung is officially the first to market with an accessible, impressive virtual reality headset, all powered by software from Facebook's recently acquired Oculus VR team. That alone is very exciting: We are standing at the precipice of a new medium, finally technologically possible. Wireless, consumer-grade virtual reality! In your home! Today!

Samsung's Gear VR is both an astounding feat and an illuminating vision into our near future; it's the closest anyone's come to making virtual reality into a palatable consumer experience, and a stark example of how far we still have to go before that dream is completely realized.

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