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Category: Technology

How to Convert YouTube Video into MP3 Audio

This is a useful tool and tutorial if you, for example, make a video on Youtube and then want to publish the audio quickly on Soundcloud (or somewhere else).

If you aren’t already running Ubuntu on your computer this will be a couple of steps more difficult for you but well worth the effort.

Step 1: Get Ubuntu on your computer

If you don’t know what this, look it up and get it done.  Apple and Microsoft are so restrictive, un-secure, and 1990….

Step 2: Open a terminal

If you don’t know what this is, go look that up too.

Step 3: Install Youtube-dl tool with Terminal

Make sure the youtube-dl app thing is installed on your machine by pasting this into your terminal.  Note, you cannot just ‘control c/control-v’ into a terminal but you need to hold down both control *and shift* before pressing V to paste…  ready?  Ok, control C this into your computers clipboard:

sudo apt install youtube-dl

Now press enter in Terminal.

This will complete the installation of the tool.  Say ‘yes’ if it asks you to do anything since it’s just hard to argue these days…

Step 4: Copy the ‘magic line’ into your clipboard

We say ‘magic’ in technology when we’re doing something that is harder than sending an email.

Copy this ‘magic line’ of whatever to your computer with control C

youtube-dl –extract-audio –audio-format mp3

Step 5: Paste the ‘magic line’ into your Terminal

Paste the ‘magic line’ into your terminal taking note of my notes in Step 3…  pay special attention that there is only one trailing space and no other stuff after the ‘3’ in mp3.  You are going to paste a URL here from the video in the next step so extra garbage before or after the ‘magic line’ could mess it up.

Step 6: Copy Video URL from Youtube to clipboard

Using the ‘share’ link from the Youtube video (I find this works better than the main video URL…) copy the URL to the computer clipboard.

Step 7: Paste video URL to Terminal

Paste the video URL at the end of the magic line in your terminal using again my notes from Step 3.

Step 8: Press ‘enter’ in Terminal and get some popcorn

Press ‘enter’ on your keyboard.  The thing should run and it will be dumping the mp3 audio into your ‘home’ folder on your computer.  It takes a bit of time for this step so let it go and have a coffee

Boom.  A nice MP3 of your video.

Thanks to all the folks who made the youtube-dl tool!

Thanks to all the efforts of the free software community who make all of this possible.

Extra note: If, for some reason everything looks like it was running fine and you can’t find your new MP3 file in the Home directory, it’s possible the defaults were changed by you or something else and the Terminal downloaded the video somewhere else.  Do a system wide search for your file and you’ll probably find it somewhere.  This happened to me a few times 🙁

 

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The Three Best Alternatives to Android and iOS

I have to say “I’m sorry”.  The fact of the matter is that I’ve been holding back this secret too long and I have to share it.  I was doing a search for ‘alternatives to ios’ and ‘alternatives to android’ and I was surprised to see that there are only super old articles and the content results from alternativeto.net (which is a great website, btw).  I was surprised that a lot of abandoned operating systems were still being shown and not many people have done much writing on the topic.  I thought – maybe I should write this, seeing that an alternative to these options has recently gone from ‘optional’ to ‘mandatory’ status.  So, here we go.  A super, duper fast article to tell you what’s out there these days and which one is best:

The next big mobile OS. Its not an alternative

Number 3 – Purism and Librem

So these guys are pretty cool both in philosophy and what they’re trying to do.  The short version of the story is that they are making their own mobile OS called ‘Pure OS’ but they will also support a couple of other operating systems to be installed as well if you don’t want to stick with theirs.  What’s unique about them is that they have a serious focus on free, transparent, and safe **hardware** with the Librem 5 (not available at the time of this blog).  This is something that is completely missing from the current ‘accessible’ marketplace and a lot of people want it.  They are also kind of neat because they started with a crowdfunding thing.  But – they haven’t launched their device yet so this entire paragraph is of no value to you other than ‘Hey! You … might be able to access this cool stuff in 2019….maybe… hopefully…”  If they succeed they will have ‘the most open and free’ hardware setup around based on today’s situation.
https://puri.sm/

Number 2 – Postmarket OS

These guys are pretty cool too.  They plan to keep phones alive longer and make them more free by means of free and open source software.  They are not as ‘free and open’ as Purism plans to be, since they will still run ‘overtop Android’ (kind of a layer in between) but at least you could use your device without Google or Apple bothering you which is pretty awesome.  Unfortunately, mom and grandpa won’t be installing it quite yet since it’s still … very hard.  In fact, don’t bother trying yet unless you have a pretty skilled person nearby (who probably has a nice neck beard) who knows what the word ‘compile’ and ‘build’ means…

Number 1 – Ubuntu Touch

Just my opinion (blogs are allowed to have these these) but Ubuntu Touch is the **only** option available **right now**.  Right now, on select devices (https://devices.ubuntu-touch.io/)  (not all) you can, relatively easily and usually with a simple installer that you are already familar with – install Ubuntu Touch on your mobile phone.  It’s quite common for people to be up and running in just a few hours.  And if you have a snag, the UBports community is one of the most vibrant, active and fun communities in the world.  You can check out their ‘fireside chats’ here( https://ubports.com/blog/ubports-blog-1/tag/ubuntu-touch-q-a-3) as an example, or, jump straight into their front door by joining their Telegram supergroup or their Matrix Supergroup. From there you’ll be pointed to places where volunteers will help you get started.  I’ve been so impressed by this community and the lightening fast development that I have full confidence we will see something available to purchase out of the box within 2 years from the date of this post.  Mark my words and you heard it first here.  But, just think – free from Google’s spying eyes.  Free from Apple’s rigid proprietary hardware.  Right now. Not tomorrow. 
https://ubports.com
Oh, and hey.  If you are a developer (I’m not evidently), you can start building stuff for all of these projects above and make a difference.  If I were a developer then I would be jumping on the opportunity to work with these guys, especially Ubuntu Touch since it’s very easy to find the code and the community is quite open.

Do it.

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Bypass Empty cartridge Brother Printer to Keep Printing

If you are like me, you bought your Brother scanner printer because you wanted a decent scanner and perhaps the odd black and white print.  Nothing more.  That’s why you didn’t pay a lot.

Well, built into the ‘cheap printer’ business model at Brother is a nasty little trick which says ‘When their colour cartridge runs out (which is really small) then stop printer from printing *everything* – including black and white – even though it’s full!”

Now that is just dirty.

I turned off colour printing on computer and it still refused to print with some bogus message like ‘cannot maintain print quality’.  Really?  I have a fully black and white cartridge and I’m not printing colour and it cannot maintain print quality?  I call BS, Brother.

Thankfully, the solution was super, duper crazy easy.  Thanks very much to these guys here

Just take some electricians tape (don’t bother with sharpie markers or other ideas as I tried other stuff on my desk) and get some small scissors (or exacto knife probably easier and more accurate) and cut some black electricians tape so that the tape *perfectly* covers the plastic clear window.

Note: you can see a small gap in this photo example which you should avoid.  Aim for 100% coverage of the window or it may not work.  I tried one with a slightly larger gap and it failed (their lasers are very accurate!)

Once the lasers kick in and hit the tap your screen will show a nice full cartridge and printing in Black and white (or whatever colour you have left) should work.

Enjoy!

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How to Reset/Purge Brother Printer Page Counter

So you have an ink cartridge and Brother decided that it was empty and you disagree and want to milk it further?  One thing that might work for you is to reset the internal page counter.

It’s fairly public understanding that printer companies have tech inside the machines that essentially tell it when it has printed enough and to print no more (so you have to run out and buy another cartridge).  The screen will tell you ‘can’t maintain print quality’ or ‘cannot print’ or some message that you might not care about.

This post is specifically how to do it on the following models but I will have links to websites that will probably be able to solve your other models too:

MFC-J460DW

MFC-JF480DW

MRC-J485DW

The answer to my question was found tucked away in one reply somewhere on this page and on THIS WEBSITE

Here is the quote:

To enter maintenance mode on the MFC-J480DW, with the printer powered on, press the Settings button followed by *2864
The Settings button will have different names according to where you purchased your printer. To help identify the button: It depicts a wrench and a screw driver.

However!  One tiny little detail cost me many hours.  It’s important that before you do the above make sure you hit the ‘stop’ button which will clear the ‘ink levels low’ message from the LCD.  You can’t do the above steps until the LCD is clear of the warning.

So, here is a more clear list:

  1. clear the screen with the stop/exit button
  2. hit the settings button (wrench)
  3. enter the following 5 keys * 2 8 6 4
  4. use the down arrow until you come to the purge followed by some numbers (the numbers, btw, are your page count -wasted time trying to figure out why mine was different from websites out there, ha)
  5. press 2 7 8 3
  6. I got a ‘cannot detect’ message, and the stop/exit button didn’t work so then I did step 7 and got out
  7. press 9 and then 9 again
  8. machine reboots and page count is clear /purged

You may also get a message that says your colour cartridges are low and your printer stops you printing, even black and white!  Don’t worry, I overcame this trick too in THIS POST if you’d like to have a black and white only brother printer (works for me!)

 

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How to Eat a Digital Elephant One Bite at a Time

I can’t believe I didn’t blog this before but let’s put my regrets aside.

So, you have come to realize that everyone who knows how technology works was right – it’s all spying on you.  And, well, you don’t like it but – you don’t know where to start.  You feel overwhelmed.  Many people have these kind of feelings

  • I’m too busy to figure this out
  • I’m afraid to try something new in case something breaks
  • I’m used to letting ‘geniuses’ fix my tech
  • I’m too old
  • Everything is changing to fast
  • I just want it to work

Ok, these are all normal feelings but let me be crystal clear that none of them are an excuse for letting a creep spy on you.  Imagine if a peeping tom had binoculars fixed on your bedroom window. It’s as bad as that or worse so do something today, ok?

Great.  Let’s get started.

THE SOCIAL STUFF

This is the most scary stuff.  I watch my foolish friends and family amass the precious photos and history of their children (who had no choice in the matter) onto the servers of some very uncool people.  What’s most frightening is that 9 out of 10 of these people don’t even know exactly how the technology works.  If you are one of those 9, just trust me and start making the better choice for your family with the following alteratives – and bring your friends and family so that you aren’t alone.

UnsafeSafer AlternativeWhere to get itQuick Notes
Facebook*Diasporahttps://diasporafoundation.org/Choose a pod. Sign up. Bring your friends and family. Never go back to facebook. Totally decentralized. Totally your data. You can even import and export all your data!
TwitterMastodonhttps://mastodon.socialFun and extremely awesome and powerful. Totally decentralized. Totally your data.
InstagramTBAlet me know!

THE PERIPHERAL STUFF

The first step is to start switching from unsafe ‘peripherals’ to safer ones.  These will immediately start helping you relax about change because your operating system will be familiar.  It’s kind of like renovating an ensuite washroom before tackling the kitchen.  It kind of eases you into this new and safer life. But before we move on to this easy and simple step, please keep in mind that your ultimate goal *must* be to remove all unsafe operating systems from your life.  This includes Apple, Microsoft and Android.

But for now, let’s start with taking one bite of the elephant.

Unsafe Safer AlternativeWhere to get itQuick Notes
Microsoft Office SuiteLibre Officehttp://www.libreoffice.org/Wipes out Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point and more while leaving you with *more* power and features and a great experience.
WhatsAppTelegram Messengerhttps://telegram.org/Not only open source but feature loaded and works on literally any device as well as even on a web browser.
Kakao TalkTelegram Messengerhttps://telegram.org/See notes above
Skypehublhttps://hubl.in/Browser based. Just allow it to use your mic/camera. Use it on almost any device. Once finished with link, never use it again, or link stays active and you can use it again and again. Multiple people at the same time is also awesome. No file sharing yet but Telegram can do this while on a chat.
Skypejitsihttps://meet.jit.si/Have heard good reports that jitsi works well on self-hosting (even safer)
Google ChromeFirefox
Internet Explorer (or whatever dumb new name they give to the same garbage)Firefoxhttps://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/Most people use this anyways, but just in case you are really lost... Also, the plugins you can add to this make browsing so much more awesome.
Outlook ExpressThunderbirdhttps://www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/Just awesome and then you just plug in Enigmail plugin for total email encryption.
icloudNextcloudhttps://nextcloud.com/You can either buy their box or install it on an old computer as a server... or put it on shared hosting. Pure sweetness in cloud file stuff.
Adobe PhotoshopGIMPhttps://www.gimp.org/Unbelievably robust and easy to use. Edit photos like a pro or as a pro and never turn back.
Missed any?? Let me know!

EMAIL

So now we have the stuff out of the way, we need to deal with email by itself.

Most people, sadly, use some of the most compromising and horrific spying machines around.  Some of these might look familiar:

  • hotmail
  • gmail
  • yahoo
  • live
  • outlook
  • etc

First of all, putting technology aside, your email address actually speaks volumes about who you are as a person.  For more on this, read my post here about that.  But, on top of that, it’s not secure having your email on someone’s computer.  For just a second ask yourself this concerning question: Why would a company pay to give you free email?  Answer: to market to you or worse. So in order to market to you they must have all your data.  Haven’t you ever wondered why advertisements start to look very, very similar to what you are doing in your life?  Yeah.  That’s because of that (and other things)

For email, if you are technologically savvy enough you ‘could’ run your own email server which would be the safest possible solution.  However, it’s not that easy.  Maybe your friend could set it up, but if you don’t have such a friend, what is best is to stop supporting these companies who prey on people like this and move to something cooler.  It’s really *not* that expensive to pay for email.  Here is what you do:

  1. buy a domain like ‘your name’
  2. choose something cool that goes before it like ‘me’ or ‘name’
  3. call a company that sells domains and email (preferably in a country like Canada) and force their tech support to set it up.

Then you would have an email like this:

me@yourname.ca

If it’s not available there are countless Top Level Domains (TLDs) that you can choose from and certainly one of these will be waiting for you.  And it’s fun!

Just make sure that when you buy your domain and email that you have enough memory.  Most of them have some kind of unlimited plan for memory so go with that.  Also, make sure that it has IMAP support – I would be shocked if they didn’t but this is the email service you want.  You should budget about $15/year for the domain and another $?? for email and storage.  I have been really happy with Canadian Web Hosting for service and pricing if I can make a quick plug.  For about $5.00/month to have safe email per person is pretty reasonable.  If you have another reason to have a website, you could simply get unlimited email through your website hosting plan as well.  This requires a little more skill but it’s not that hard.  A friend who runs their own website should be happy to set it up for you once you purchase.  I would do this for my friends…

Now you’ve got your email and your other ‘stuff’ more secure, the last discussion is the big one.

THE OPERATING SYSTEM

You need to start planning to get rid of your current operating system which is probably either Apple/mac or Microsoft Windows.  These companies have compromised many things at your expense of both dollars and privacy.  They do not deserve your business nor are there endless reasons to stay with them.  For 99% of people they could switch 100% to a safer option and be completely happy.  There are a very small number of people in niche markets like print and design and perhaps medicine where the entire industry has forced everyone to communicate with these corrupted systems.  In these cases you may need to keep one computer for ‘work only’ and your ‘personal life’ should be immediately moved to a safer option.

I recommend that everyone immediately switch their desktop and laptops to Ubuntu

Ubuntu is the safest, fastest, most supported and most loved free and open source operating system in the world.  Switching to Ubuntu operating system is not that difficult but it does require enough comfort and skill.  It’s easy enough to learn, but if you do have access to an ubuntu community near you, you should join that community or start one yourself.

Soon Ubuntu will be ready to go for mobile devices too.  This is another reason why it would be wise to consider Ubuntu.

UBUNTU WEBSITE

 

A NEW AND SAFER INTERNET

Another important thing that we will all need to work on quickly is to create a new and community-owned internet.  This is a bigger picture discussion but please also start preparing your mind for ‘mesh networks‘.  I will post more here as I learn and this will be my new focus for 2017 and 2018 because what good is all this safe stuff if we are using them on unsafe platforms owned by people who have agendas that we cannot control?

I hope this has helped someone break the chains.

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View Your Mind: How to turn Xlink on

First of all, thanks a million to the creators of View Your Mind mind mapping software.  It’s a great piece of useful free license software!

Everything was going very well while I was using it.  I especially found useful the xlink (xlinks?) feature.  This feature will allow you to connect a visual reference from one branch to any other branch on the screen.  In my case I was trying to track the last 10 years of my life visually and all the interesting connections and overlaps of people in my life but I needed the xlink feature to do so.

I figured out that if you hold the shift key and click your mouse over a branch that the xlink started working just as the documentation, but I accidentally switched modes and couldn’t get it on again.  Unfortunately, p 33 of the documentation wasn’t helpful at all to me.  Finally, I figured out how to turn it back on so I wanted to throw it out there for anyone else who might have struggled.

First, add the ‘link mode’ to your toolbar

modfier_mode_toolbar

Next, find it on your toolbar and make sure this one is selected

modifier_mode_xlink

Next, start working by clicking ‘shift’ on your keyboard when you click your

mouse.

modifer_mode_with_xlinks_workingEnjoy!

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Ubuntu: The Relationship Between Freedom and Quality in The Software World

Unlike previous blog posts, I’m going to start this one with two exciting tables to get you thinking. In the first table, I increased freedom and in the second table, I decreased it so that we could look at the effect, if any, on other items. Sorry, they are just image screenshots:

wot_decreased_freedoms wot_increased_freedoms

Someone sent me over this article written by Mark Shuttleworth, chief of Canonical – the company behind Ubuntu.

Usually, Mr. Shuttleworth writes with excitement, hope, positivity and other such forward-moving adjectives. Unlike pretty much anything else I have read written by him, this article sounded more like a dad who was forced by his disobedient kids to lay down the hard law. Just the tone alone being so different from his usual, caught my attention.

It appears that some unnamed European corporation has taken the Ubuntu code (written for free by many coders and volunteers around the world and maintained by the for-profit company Canonical at their heavy cost of time and money), done a few ‘things’ to it, and published it as ‘their own’. For full disclosure, I haven’t done any of my own research like looking at the notice of claims against them. However, what I’m picking up from the article is that the soon-to-be defendantscontributed little or nothing to the base code that made ubuntu what it is today

  • invested little or no money to the ubuntu project
  • decreased the quality of the user experience
  • harmed the Ubuntu name
  • harmed Canonical by means of all of the above

If this is true, it should not be difficult to prove monetary damages for Canonical plus I’m guessing there will be a lot of angry programmers out there who would rally beside Mr. Shuttleworth for screwing up all their volunteer work.

From a bird’s eye view it seems like a suitable analogy for this behaviour would be something like this:

Imagine a grade 5 teacher creating a cool project where the students build a gizmo that’s valuable to the world – let’s say it creates clean drinking water out of thin air. Next thing you know, all the parents and grandparents are excited about the project and start volunteering their time to help build it and make it better. Next thing you know, a company (let’s call them Company A) picks up on the project and realizes that they can help improve the project by funding certain parts plus they can make some money as well because some industries will want an industrial version of these water-makers which is out of the scope of these volunteers time/money to build or support. So Company A starts investing time and money and builds a business around it while continuing to support the kids’ gizmo proliferation around the world. Out of nowhere, Company B, which has not participated in the project at all, shows up, takes the plans that all these volunteers made and improved on over the years at the cost of their time (and at Company A’s expense, too), and starts making their own industrial water-makers. They slap their own brand on it, change one or two small things and start making money. Then problems start happening. They don’t have a volunteer base of countless thousands who can jump in to improve or fix things when they go wrong, so this makes sense. Company B then routes all the problems of their customers to Company A saying “they have support over there, I think…”

I’m guessing that there would be lots of angry kids and grandparents and most people would agree to take action to stop Company B.

The question of this soon-to-be lawsuit will probably hinge entirely on the licensing of the software. Has this European company violated any software license agreements including the free software licenses of Ubuntu? What exactly did they change? Are they guilty of changing the code or are they guilty of not supporting the code? It will be interesting to read the claim, for sure (if you like reading litigation documents)

This also got me thinking about correlation between freedom and regulation. I know that one of the main reasons why myself and others moved to Ubuntu was for the freedom. We didn’t want to be told by bullies like Apple or Microsoft how we are going to be using our hardware and who will be accessing our private information. I started thinking about un-related industries and correlations between different things when you increase or decrease freedom. I thought it would be timely to share the quick charts that I built.

(review charts above again)

As you can see from the charts, it was an interesting exercise. It seems that in most cases clear changes occur in most columns – except one. I could not determine in any instance that quality increased or decreased with the increase *or decrease* of freedom. At a glance you might quickly disagree with my conclusions, but allow me to explain them.

Drinking water: Although you may increase regulation and decrease freedom to do what you want with your drinking water, it is debatable that the government controlled waters with chlorine, fluoride, and who knows what, is better for you that this or that in a free stream of water. The long term jury is still out on this one.

Voting: To clarify I am referring simply to the freedom to vote and having a regulatory system to govern the actual elections and voting procedure. By regulating or not, does it really help improve the final product (the person you are voting for)?  Point proven in recent elections in big North American country…

Guns: Perhaps you could say the quality of the actual physical gun might improve with regulation…. I don’t know enough on the topic, but it would seem to me that a nice old man building a gun in his shop could do just as well as a heavily-regulated gun factory.

Religions beliefs: the ‘negative event’ here would be something like a mass suicide with a cult. The Catholic church is heavily regulated, but is the quality of faith and the fruit of believers higher?

Marriage: I was thinking here free-love marriages versus arranged marriages. Although one might think that by choosing your spouse, instead of your parents choosing him/her might yield a higher-quality spouse/match, I believe the jury is still out on this. Look at the divorces in ‘love marriages’, for example.

So when it’s all said and done the only category where I felt freedom had a measurable impact on quality was in the realm of computer code. No one will deny that the fruity computer company typically has typically stable software which works on stable hardware. But on the other hand, very few of its users, when asked, deny that they feel stifled, controlled and possibly even spied on – if not totally ‘stuck’.

And so there seems to be a much more pronounced correlation between freedom and quality in the world of code.

And that also is why this will be a very interesting legal case to follow. Will Shuttleworth be tempted to pull in some of the freedoms of the Ubuntu code base in order to maintain the quality that Ubuntu deserves? Will a task force of lawyers be commissioned to seek and attack low quality Ubuntu publishers much like how a big proprietary corporation might do?

Until now Ubuntu has wowed the world with its ability to stay both free and yet maintain an incredibly high quality final product which I can boldly say is the same and better than competing proprietary systems in every category. The proof of this quality has been in the pudding with fast world-wide growth with more and more everyday users converting 100% to ubuntu and also in the realm of innovation (look it all up yourself because I don’t even know where to begin!).

On the one hand I’m completely in agreement that selfish individuals and corporations should be stopped in their tracks and made to pay for damaging others. On the other hand, I’m also keenly aware that the freedom of the Ubuntu code must remain of higher importance overall.

I find myself favouring the ‘whatever-it-takes-to-make-sure-ubuntu-comes-out-the-winner’ side but I will remain full open to all sides of this story.

 

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What Message Does Your Email Address Send About You?

I have come back to this awesome comic for nearly 10 years now.  I finally had to log it here because it’s worthy.

I will eventually expand this to other areas of tech, but for now enjoy this!

 

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The Future of Ham Radio: Freedom

This article on the ARRL website summarizes quite well the situation with ham radio – and radio in general.

Although it is exciting to be part of a club of radio enthusiasts around the world, one must question whether the licensing system on its own is a hindrance both to freedom and innovation.

The basic debate has these two sides:

Restrict Frequencies for Licencees

“By proving skills and taking tests, you can keep a higher quality of person on the frequencies.  If we don’t do this we will have CB radio on ham frequencies”

Let Them Go

“By restricting access to the airwaves we all breath and share, you are exerting controls that should not be there – especially on a technology that enables humans to transmit data.  By restricting the airwaves you are limiting both God-given freedom of speech but also innovation because the technology remains only in the hands of those who can (and will) exploit it for gain.”

And it’s a very great debate and one worthy of fighting for.

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The Best Ever Apple iphone Review Video

Thinking of buying the next iphone?

Make sure you review this important video to make sure it’s the right fit for you.

If you find it’s not, be sure to research the Ubuntu phone which is built on a totally different philosophy.

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