Brian Fagioli

Microsoft announces Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition Beta

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When Microsoft bought Minecraft-maker Mojang for a boatload of money, many people -- myself included -- were perplexed by the move. Don't get me wrong, it is a wildly popular game which has much value, but it didn't seem to fit with the company's goals. HoloLens, however, made the world collectively understand the Minecraft purchase and vision.

Today, on this United States Independence Day, Microsoft makes a huge announcement regarding the blocky game. Timed to coincide with the July 29th new operating system launch, comes Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition Beta. Holy macaroni, the 29th will be like Christmas in July!

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Turtle Beach Ear Force Stealth 420X Xbox One Headset coming soon -- pre-order now

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Video games have come a long way. What was once a single or double player affair, is now much grander thanks to online gaming. It is much more engaging to play against multiple real people, rather than an artificial opponent. You can even communicate with other players by using a microphone -- very cool.

The Xbox One comes with a headset in the box, and it is passable, but hardly comfortable nor high quality. Marathon gamers will want to invest in a premium headset for improved audio and comfort. Turtle Beach will soon be selling its self-proclaimed "affordable" Ear Force Stealth 420X wireless headset, and it looks like a winner.

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Mozilla accidentally exposes the T-shirt sizes of its developers

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User data compromises and leaks are very unfortunate events. As a result of a hack or improper security, a person's identity could be stolen. Sadly, it is all too common for someone's social security number, date of birth and more to get into the hands of evil-doers.

Sometimes though, it can be a bit silly and funny. In mid-March, Mozilla had a contest, where it asked developers to come up with a t-shirt design. In mid-June, a winner was chosen and the developers were invited to reserve a t-shirt online using Google Form. Unfortunately, someone at Mozilla pulled a boner, and the t-shirt sizes of 70 developers were made public. Oh, the humanity!

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Yet another Windows 10 Insider Preview release? Get Build 10162 now!

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Good lord Microsoft, do you never let your developers sleep? I think that Red Bull is probably a huge portion of the Windows 10 budget. Yes, once again, we have another Windows 10 Insider Preview release.

After Fast Ring users were treated to Build 10158 and 10159 earlier this week, Microsoft is today seeding 10162. Excited? Us too!

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Snapchat grows up -- gets massive update

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When Snapchat was first released, it served as nothing more than a way to send self-destructing pictures of your genitals to people -- even if that was not the intention. The theory was, you could share a nude picture and the recipient could not save a copy and it would expire. Of course, this proved to be false, as the recipient could easily do a screen grab.

Either way, it became wildly popular with millennials, and ultimately older folks too. It has grown into a much more G-rated service, which companies and brands are even utilizing. Today, the popular app gets a massive update -- you no longer have to hold your finger on the screen to view pictures and videos. Hallelujah!

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Get a free $100 Google Play credit when you buy a Verizon HTC One M9

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For consumers looking to buy an Android phone, it can be quite the daunting task. Why? There are too many good phones to choose from! While the Nexus 6 and Galaxy S6 are two very popular choices, don't forget the LG G4, Droid Turbo and HTC One M9.

Speaking of the HTC One M9, I have been testing it lately and like it very much. The problem, however, is that I like the Galaxy S6 more; Samsung's flagship is just the better device. With that said, if you can get a good deal on HTC's phone, it might make a great choice for some buyers. Today, HTC is giving 100 reasons to choose its phone on Verizon -- a $100 Google Play credit for free!

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Samsung releases LEVEL U Wireless Bluetooth Headset

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When traveling on the train or walking through the city, corded headphones can be a huge inconvenience. It can get tangled and can even cause your smartphone to fall on the floor if the wire gets snagged. It can even impede exercise too, getting caught on equipment.

Wireless Bluetooth headphones and headsets are awesome from a convenience standpoint and solve many of those issues. There are many design choices when it comes to these wired variants, but my preferred is the style that rests on your neck and offers earbuds. It is comfortable and best of all, it's not bulky. Today, Samsung releases its take on this style with the all-new LEVEL U Wireless Bluetooth Headset.

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Google puts lipstick on Gmail -- adds new themes and emojis

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I am definitely a Gmail power user. Not only do I use it for much of my personal email, but business communications too. Does it bother me that the search giant scans the contents of my messages for advertising? Yes, a bit, but I realize there is no such thing as a free lunch.

What does really bother me, however, is how archaic Gmail looks nowadays. The appearance is boring and drab. To make matters worse, I know Google is capable of a beautiful redesign -- it is frustrating that the company just doesn't. Today, Gmail gets a little lipstick by way of new hi-res themes and new emojis.

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Linux Mint 17.2 'Rafaela' available now for download

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If you have never tried Linux Mint, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. It is a fantastically refreshing distribution -- built on the dependable Ubuntu -- that makes using a Linux-based operating system an absolute treat.

Typically featuring two desktop environments -- Mate and Cinnamon -- users can select an interface that meets their needs. Cinnamon in particular is very pretty, and has a traditional start menu that Windows defectors will appreciate. Today, Linux Mint 17.2 'Rafaela' reaches a "final" release. If you are using Linux Mint already, you should definitely upgrade, while Linux-curious outsiders should consider it too.

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Acer XR341CK is a curved 34 inch QHD gaming monitor with AMD FreeSync

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What an exciting time to be either a PC gamer or system builder (or both!). We are getting ever so close to a new version of Windows -- what could be the best version yet -- which is always a great excuse to upgrade hardware. Also notable, however, are the amazing new AMD 300 series graphics cards, including the Holy Grail Radeon R9 Fury X.

If you are upgrading your rig and moving to a new version of Windows, you should probably consider upgrading your monitor too. Gamers picking up a new AMD graphics card will want to consider a display with FreeSync technology for smoother gameplay. Today, Acer announces one of the most impressive such gaming monitors -- the XR341CK. This curved 34 inch QHD gaming monitor not only offers great performance, but it is totally sexy too. Feel free to drool.

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Microsoft and AOL agree to monumental advertising and Bing search partnership

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When consumers think back to the 90's, there are two companies synonymous with personal computing -- Microsoft and AOL. People bought Windows computers and connected to the web with the AOL ISP. Hell, I begged my dad for my first computer when I learned I could talk to girls in AOL chat rooms. In hindsight, I was probably talking to old men pretending to be girls, but I digress.

Both Microsoft and AOL are still quite successful -- the former much more than the latter -- and today, they announce a decade-long extension and expansion to existing agreements. Microsoft is handing over the keys to a large portion of its advertising business, while AOL search will begin using Bing.

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Microsoft celebrates USA veterans with 'Old Glory Relay' sponsorship

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The Fourth of July is almost here. You know what that means, right? USA Independence Day! Yes, on this day, Americans will barbeque delicious meats and watch fireworks to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and subsequent defeat of the tyrannical British empire. Of course, our former oppressors are now one of our greatest allies.

Microsoft is one of the most famed American companies, and one of its founders, Bill Gates, is a great example of how anyone can become a success within America's borders. Today, Microsoft announces that it is celebrating the people that earned the USA its freedoms -- our veterans -- by sponsoring a 60 day, 3,400 mile relay race called the "Old Glory Relay". What great news so close to July 4th!

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Samsung Galaxy S6 -- Android at its finest [Review]

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Samsung is the undisputed king of Android smartphones. Other than Apple, no company commands the audiences of the Galaxy handset maker. Quite frankly, Samsung deserves its attention, as it makes really great smartphones that consumers love -- a simple recipe for success.

This year, however, the company took some arguable missteps, by removing both the removable batteries and expandable memory found on its previous flagships. As an Android purist, I was initially upset with this. Luckily, Samsung was correct to remove these features, since the cloud and USB battery packs are better options. In this case, less is more, as it forces the user to think differently -- a very Apple-esque approach. Amazingly, using Apple's design philosophy, Samsung's device outdoes the iPhone.

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ARCHOS PC Stick is a tiny $99 Windows 10 computer

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The 'Stick' computing form-factor may have a big future. As many consumers move to tablets and smartphones for the majority of their computing, the need for a full-fledged PC dwindles. Being able to buy an affordable Windows PC the size of a flash drive can fill in the gaps that mobile devices leave.

Both Intel and Lenovo have released their versions of the diminutive PC, and now it is ARCHOS' turn. At first I yawned, but then I saw the price -- $99. This greatly undercuts pricing on both of the aforementioned manufacturers offerings and looks to be an amazing value.

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Ubuntu Linux 15.10 'Wily Werewolf' Alpha 1 now available

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Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distributions -- arguably the most popular -- which is very much deserved. Canonical has taken the complicated and intimidating world of Linux and transformed it into an inviting operating system for the masses. While not as user-friendly as Windows or OS X, Ubuntu is certainly easier to use than Fedora or the dreaded Arch.

Today, Canonical announces that the next version of Ubuntu -- 15.10 'Wily Werewolf' -- reaches Alpha status. If you are a fan of the Unity desktop environment, however, you are not in luck. Alpha releases only represent the other flavors of the distro. Sadly, Ubuntu GNOME (my favorite) and Xubuntu are not yet available.

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