Latest Technology News

Happy SysAdmin Day -- we're giving away $700 worth of software to celebrate

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The last Friday in July may not mean much to the average person, but it holds a special place in techies' hearts. It's System Administrator Appreciation Day. And we're celebrating it today, for the fifteenth time, with a giveaway!

As we cannot offer you any cake, ice cream or pizza (although would sure love to), we have 10 licenses for System Mechanic to give away instead, courtesy of the software's maker iolo which has reached out to us to make this happen. Every BetaNews reader can enter the giveaway.

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Microsoft embraces Amazon -- brings OneNote to Kindle Fire and Fire phone

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Note-taking and task-tracking can be a real hassle. Not only do you need a device, but the software too. Sure, there are many apps to choose from, such as Evernote and Google Keep, but I prefer Microsoft's OneNote. Don't get me wrong, the other options are good too, but OneNote is the most polished of the bunch.

My favorite thing about Microsoft's offering is that it works with a large range of operating systems. Whether I am using an iPad, Android phone, Windows Phone, Chromebook, Mac or Windows computer such as the Surface Pro 3, OneNote has my back. Sadly, Microsoft's app was not available for Kindle Fire HDX -- a tablet which I love. Today, this changes as OneNote not only comes to the Kindle Fire line of tablets, but the all-new Fire phone too.

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The technology I'm using this summer [Alan]

HP Chromebook 11

It seems all of us have made some switches thanks to warm weather here in the northern hemisphere, where summer is in full swing. Working outside seems prevalent, and that means, in many cases, an entirely different set of hardware.

I, for one, make my porch my office when the weather gets nice, and to do so means certain sacrifices -- or does it? As it turns out, not so much. I'm managing just fine with what I am using, able to get the job done with only the very rare exception that forces me to flee to my (rather baking) third-floor office to use a Windows computer.

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The optical disc lives! Samsung announces new slim USB DVD drives

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Let me tell you a secret -- I am gaga for optical drives and discs. I know, it's a weird thing to be enamored with. If you listen to pundits and "experts", the world is transitioning to the cloud and flash drives. Optical media such as CDs, DVDs and Blu-Rays are relegated to spend the rest of eternity in the graveyard with floppy and zip disks, right? Wrong.

Say what you will, but I am not ready to give up on those shiny round discs. Yes, when backing up photos, I do use the cloud, but I also back up to Blu-Ray (BD-RE). Why? Redundancy is the key to smart backup. Maybe your files will forever be safe in the cloud, but why not store them locally too? Today, Samsung announces two new USB DVD drives aimed at consumers with Ultrabooks and tablets that do not have integrated drives. Surface Pro 3 users, take notice.

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Technology helps college kids communicate and learn

Photo: Petrenko Andriy/Shutterstock

Going away to college is a milestone for both parents and their offspring and technology giant Dell has released the results of a survey showing how families buy technology for this key time.

The survey was conducted among more than 1,000 respondents across the US, split evenly between students of 16-19 planning to attend a two to four year college course, and parents.

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Happy first birthday, Chromecast!

Chromecast birthday

It seems hard to believe, but Google’s excellent HDMI dongle celebrates its first birthday today. As I’m in the UK, I wasn’t able to get hold of one from the start (even if I had, many of its features wouldn’t have been available to me due to location) but I own one now, and love it.

When my colleague Brian Fagioli reviewed the Chromecast shortly after launch, he called it "greatness in its infancy", meaning the potential was there, but it was limited, thanks mostly to the lack of Chromecast-compatible apps and services. But what a difference a year makes. There are now hundreds of apps on Chromecast, including HBO Go, ESPN, Songza and more, and Google says there are 6,000+ developers actively working on more than 10,000 Google Cast apps across Android, iOS and Chrome. You can browse the full list of available apps here.

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Drawpile: work on drawings with 20+ other users in real time

Drawpile

Do you sometimes need to collaborate on drawings or sketches? Drawpile is a cross-platform application which allows 20+ users to use the same canvas, all at the same time.

The drawing engine initially looks quite simple. There’s a pen and brush, a line, rectangle and ellipse, they all support a range of color options, and you’re able to add text annotations as required.

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Skype for Android 5.0 readies the way for new 'Find your friends' feature

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Microsoft has released Skype for Android 5.0, a new version of its chat tool that includes free audio and video messaging. The latest release concentrates on providing support for one single upcoming feature: find your friends.

The feature, which should roll out over the next few weeks, will give users the option of connecting Skype to their phone’s address book, making it easier to connect with existing contacts through the chat service.

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Zettaset offers simpler big data security for the enterprise

Big data

Companies are increasingly keen to take advantage of the insights that big data can offer. But this does lead to problems with controlling access and keeping the data secure in a way that works with existing systems.

Big data security specialist Zettaset is now making its Orchestrator product available as a standalone offering. This will allow customers to take the whole offering or individual applications as required to customize and secure their environment.

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Go exploring with the new update to Google Maps

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Summer is the vacation season for many people, and that means maps and travel apps become a priority. After all, when you're in an unfamiliar location, you're fending for yourself finding virtually anything, from museums to restaurants and everything else.

Now Google Maps is adding a new Explore feature that will attempt to assist lost travelers. A new "Explore" button will be located at the bottom right of the maps screen, and tapping on it will open a new world of information.

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Virtual smart card solution offers improved security at an affordable price

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Traditional authentication methods like passwords are vulnerable to data breaches as well as being difficult to remember and manage. But although tokens and physical smart cards provide better protection they're expensive to implement and maintain.

Security company Wave Systems Corp has a new virtual smart card solution that emulates the functionality of physical smart cards or tokens, but offers greater convenience to users, lower total cost of ownership, and a reduced risk of unauthorized use.

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Honesty is the best policy when it comes to security

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It has never been harder for businesses to build and preserve a relationship of trust with their customers. The rise of increasingly sophisticated, and targeted, cyber-attacks means there are more threats to watch out for than ever before. But letting just one slip through the net could spell disaster and damage even the strongest of partnerships, beyond repair. Just ask any major organization that has lost confidential customer data through a security breach.

When online retailer eBay reported that its network had been compromised earlier this year, it's no wonder that its message to customers was "the trust and security of eBay members is our top priority". The need to maintain trust in the face of a successful hack is critical.

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The tracks of my bargains – sacrificing privacy for a good deal

retail store shop camera surveillance

The increased popularity of smartphones means that, unless we specifically opt not to, most of us leave a record of our location wherever we go.

This information is of course valuable to marketers and a new study by customer engagement specialists PunchTab reveals that consumers are concerned about how location data is used.

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Microsoft anti-malware support for Windows XP is counting down...

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Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP on April 8, which means the aging operating system no longer receives security updates and non-security hotfixes, potentially putting die-hard users at serious risk.

Although XP is no longer eligible to receive security updates, Microsoft is, however, still providing users with updates to its anti-malware signatures and engine, and will continue to do so until July 14, 2015.

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Enterprise app stores can transform IT into rock stars

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You know the mood in the corporate world is optimistic when enterprises shift their focus from "down to the bone" cost-cutting measures to enhancing operational efficiency and innovative projects. 46 percent of CIOs reported increases in IT budgets in the last year to fund projects designed to improve the effectiveness of their operations, according to a recent Harvey Nash survey. This is indeed good news.

Technology-led as we are today, innovation in the enterprise is to a large extent being driven by software applications -- look at the consumerization of IT, virtualization and cloud trends. To better connect employees to the world of business applications, organizations are setting up enterprise app stores, giving employees iTunes-esque access in the corporate environment.

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