Latest Technology News

Windows Media Center is dead -- Microsoft promises DVD alternative for Windows 10

RIP

When Microsoft released Windows XP Media Center Edition in 2002, I remember being awestruck. It was as if I was looking into the future; surely everyone in the world would eventually have giant towers next to their televisions running Windows. The reality? Not so much. The operating system only shipped with pre-built machines that were quite costly. Ultimately, it became freely available for most of the common Vista and Windows 7 versions, but was put on life support with Windows 8, where it was a paid add-on. Digital TV ultimately killed much interest, as adding PCI-e tuner cards and CableCARDs were a huge pain in the butt (the rear-end pain was often caused by Cable TV providers).

Fast forward to 2015 and we are on the verge of a new version of Microsoft's operating system, Windows 10, and many people have been wondering the status of Media Center. Well, I am happy to say it is dead. The clunky bolt-on will not be available anymore. Why am I happy? Storing tons of content locally and playing it back is a dead concept; people need to move on. Hell, nowadays I would guess it is used mostly by pirates with massive hard drives. The future (and the present, really) is streaming both movies and music from the Internet. If you are a Luddite that depends on Windows Media Center for watching DVDs, you will be happy to know that an alternative is coming to Windows 10.

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Chromebook Pixel LS is nearly perfect [Review]

Chromebook Pixel

Mark the date with an alarm. Around May 28, 2015, sellers likely will fill eBay and Craigslist with spanking new Chromebook Pixels, available for bargain prices—if anything less than $999 or $1,299 could be considered a deal. Google's developer conference commences that day, when I expect many attendees will receive and quickly dispatch shiny, new laptops. Big G gave away the pricey Pixel two years ago, and it's good guess will do so again. Smart developers will keep the machines; many will not. Dumb move, but who am I to judge, eh? Pixel rests at the precipice of future computing, for those open-minded enough to welcome it. They are few.

If you are among those who get the Chromebook concept, who thinks about purchasing the laptop, but waffles indecision, watch for short-term selling prices that could meet what your sensibilities and spending budget can tolerate. It's good background for me to finally review the higher-end of the two costliest Chromebook configurations. My primer can help you decide whether or not to bother, either for full price now or for the chance of less later. Why wait? I wouldn't and didn't. I received my Pixel in March, on Friday the 13th, ordered two days earlier from Google. I use no other computer. It's more than my primary PC and could be yours, too.

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Google buys Timeful to bring smart scheduling to Calendar and Inbox

Google buys Timeful to bring smart scheduling to Calendar and Inbox

The latest addition to Google's portfolio is Timeful, Inc. Previously a standalone app for iOS, Timeful is a tool for automatically managing a schedule, using "sophisticated algorithms to suggest the best times to schedule to-dos and habits throughout the day".

There are echoes of Google Now to Timeful, so it's easy to understand why Google was interested in the company. Moving forward we can expect to see the tool integrated into Inbox and Calendar to help with the automatic scheduling of events.

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NFC can kill passwords for good

NFC Near Field Communication

Since the dawn of the digital age, we’ve signed up to the password, trusting in its ability to keep our digital lives safe from thieves and those who would mean us harm.

Moore’s law tells us that every two years computing power doubles -- meaning every two years the amount of time it takes to crack a password using a brute force attack decreases considerably. It’s now reached the point where a password can be cracked in minutes, sometimes in as little as just six seconds. Six seconds to potentially lose your entire digital life.

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Google+ Collections lets users curate posts, Pinterest-style

Google+ Collections lets users curate posts, Pinterest-style

Google+ is one of the more maligned social networks, but it's clear that Google is not going to give up on it any time soon; far from it. Today the search giant unveils a new feature that is more than a little inspired by Pinterest -- Collections.

The new feature lets users group posts together into collections. This is not just something that makes it easy to manage photos, videos and other content, but also provides a new way to create groups about any given topic. With the option of making collections public, private, or shared with a limited number of people, Collections feel like a natural extension to the way Google+ posts currently work.

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Tips on staying safe when using free Wi-Fi hotspots [Infographic]

iPhone smartphone hand finger

We’ve come along way since 2000. Just think, the only way most people could get online was by hooking up their computers to a phone line or an Ethernet cable. It might surprise you to know then, that the first portable computers were released way back before we learned to unshackle ourselves from all of those annoying cables. The first laptops were released in the 1980s and one of the first was Apple’s Macintosh Portable, weighing in at a lap crushing 7kg. It’s is safe to say we’ve come along way since that inauspicious beginning.

Although Wi-Fi has been around since 1985, it is was only in the 2000s that it became increasingly popular. Today, Wi-Fi is an integral part of our lives, and is often the first thing that we ask for when checking-in at a hotel, or going for a coffee. I’ve even heard children as young as six or seven demanding a Wi-Fi connection whilst at a hotel!

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Noizio brings the soothing sounds of nature to your Mac

Noizio

When you’re working on a computer, trying to concentrate on the task in hand, background noise can be a real distraction. Whether it’s a busy office, TV, music, or just other people moving around your home, it’s all too easy for your mood to be broken. Again, and again, and again.

Noizio is a free Mac app which can drown out the regular background sounds with something more soothing, ambient soundscapes which help you ignore any irritations and focus on what you really want to do.

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Elon Musk is changing the future

NASA Space

Elon Musk is renowned worldwide for his roles as co-founder of PayPal and CEO of green technology giants Solar City, SpaceX, and Tesla Motors. Now, the billionaire has crafted a feasible plan for supplying Internet to all areas of the world through the use of low Earth orbit satellites -- a project which he hopes will also act as a monetary springboard for an ambitious attempt at colonizing Mars. Of course, Musk has not forgotten his eco-friendly roots, and he is expanding on those with new technology for reducing environmental impact at home.

To grant Internet access to the entire globe, Musk wants to launch hundreds or possibly thousands of satellites. Since satellite Internet typically involves high latency and slower connections, due to the time a signal takes bounce between the Earth’s surface and a geostationary satellite, one of the major aims of Musk’s approach is to replace the current approach of using a small number of large, expensive satellites with an approach that instead uses hundreds of smaller, cheaper devices, expanding coverage and reducing data transmission times.

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Microsoft Ignites the Enterprise -- Windows Update for Business, Office 2016 and more!

happybusiness

Many tech pundits put down Windows nowadays, but there is a big problem with that; pundits aren't always a good representation of the working world. Every time I read a review from a tech writer about how they can get all of their work done with a Chromebook, I just laugh. Why? Most of the world isn't writing for a living. No disrespect for writers, but hardware and software needs for that profession are not demanding.

For the rest of the world, getting work done often involves Microsoft solutions -- including Windows and Office -- and for good reason; those solutions work well. Today at Ignite, the company underlined its commitment to the Enterprise with a deluge of announcements; Windows Update for Business, Office 2016, Skype for Business broadcasting -- phew! In other words, Microsoft is Igniting the Enterprise.

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Your PBX has been hacked!

phreak

This past week a very large corporation on the east coast was hacked in what seems to naive old me to be a new way -- through its corporate phone system. Then one night during the same week I got a call from my bank saying my account had been compromised and to press #4 to talk to its security department. My account was fine: it was a telephone-based phishing expedition. Our phone network has been compromised, folks, and nobody with a phone is safe.

Edward Snowden was right we’re not secure, though this time I don’t think the National Security Agency is involved.

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Companies team up to create powerful Internet of Things solution

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is set to change many aspects of the way we live, but for companies and developers it represents a whole range of challenges when it comes to integration with existing systems and analyzing the extra data it generates.

Now analytics specialist Glassbeam and development platform supplier ThingWorx have announced a collaboration to allow their solutions to work together.

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Watch Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's Ignite keynote here live

Keynote

Build is over for another year, but that’s not the only Microsoft conference around. Ignite, the new enterprise focused tech event, starts today in Chicago.

Not familiar with Ignite? It’s essentially a number of Microsoft conferences rolled into one. As the tech giant describes it, Ignite is: "for big thinkers looking for an edge. It’s for anyone who attended the Microsoft Exchange, Lync, Project, SharePoint, MMS, or TechEd conferences -- and then some. It’s for senior decision makers seeking what’s next, and who want insights on key technology trends in the industry. It’s for IT professionals who need hands-on experience to enhance their tech skills. It’s for enterprise developers and architects looking for innovative ways to maximize application development. It’s for those who want to feel inspired and enlightened. It’s for you".

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Spanning launches automated protection for Office 365

Cloud backup documents

The rise of SaaS applications like Microsoft Office 365 has brought benefits in terms of collaboration and efficiency. However, switching to a cloud-based service doesn't remove the need for backups.

For example, Office 365 doesn't protect against accidental deletion of files and a deleted mailbox is only available for 30 days after which it's not recoverable. These problems are addressed by a new product from backup specialist Spanning Cloud Apps.

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Collect, organize and share your text notes with NoteCase Pro Lite

NoteCasePro200-175

Notepad is a great tool for creating occasional ad-hoc text notes, but if your desktop is cluttered with TXT files, and you can’t remember what’s in any of them, it may be time to look for an alternative.

NoteCase Pro Lite is a free cross-platform (Win, OS X, Android, Linux) application which helps you get a little more organized. It allows you to enter text, apply simple formatting, insert images, and structure notes into lists or trees to build simple outlines.

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Facebook launches Internet.org Platform and opens up to more developers

Facebook launches Internet.org Platform and opens up to more developers

The aim behind Facebook's Internet.org program is to bring internet access to the wider world. While an undeniably praise-worthy venture, it came in for criticism for going against the principles of net neutrality.

Today the company launches the Internet.org Platform with a view to countering this criticism. The platform opens up Internet.org to more developers, giving them the chance to bring "free basic services" to people around the world. There's also the promise of greater transparency.

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