Brian Fagioli

Corning announces all-new USB 3.Optical cables


I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for USB. As someone who lived before the invention of the Universal Serial Bus, I realize how much of a game-changer it was. Over the years, I've amassed quite the collection of USB cables, hubs, flash drives, PCI cards -- you name it.

If you think all USB cables are the same, you are mistaken. They come in different lengths, colors and connection types, to name a few. But still, it's hard to get people excited about cables. However, Corning has managed to do just that, with the all-new USB 3.Optical cables. Whoa.

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Microsoft All-in-One Media Keyboard is ready for some HTPC action


Over the years, many hardware companies have had varying levels of quality. However, there are two companies that you can almost always depend on for solid input devices -- Logitech and Microsoft. Both of these companies make phenomenal mice and keyboards. Sure, there are missteps every once in a while, but for the most part, their hardware can be trusted to work well and last long.

Last week, Logitech announced the brilliant Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830 -- a combination keyboard and trackpad. It is an elegant solution (BetaNews will be reviewing it soon), but is a bit pricey at $99. Today, Microsoft announces similar hardware, called the All-in-One Media Keyboard. The price? A very low $39. Is this the perfect low-cost solution for HTPC and Raspberry Pi?

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Google scanning and analyzing the numbers on your house -- strengthens reCAPTCHA


The greatest dream for many people is home and land ownership. House prices, at least in the USA, are extraordinarily expensive, putting this dream out of reach for many. For those that do achieve the dream, there are many hurdles that must be faced afterwards -- utility bills, property taxes and maintenance to name a few.

Well, homeowners have one more thing to worry about -- the visibility and legibility of their house numbers. You see, Google is now using a sophisticated algorithm to scan Street View data and detect those numbers. The end result is better accuracy in Google Maps, and a stronger reCAPTCHA.

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Linux powers CERN -- organization deploys Red Hat technologies


My knowledge of atomic science and particle physics could fit in a thimble. However, as a result of various news reports over the years, I am aware of the Large Hadron Collider and the work being done at CERN with it -- exciting stuff.

The experiments conducted at CERN, including the ones involving the Large Hadron Collider, are very complicated and require specific measurements and execution. And so, the software that the organization chooses for its computers must be very dependable. Which is why CERN has selected Red Hat Enterprise Linux and other Red Hat solutions for its computers. This is a huge win for Red Hat and the Linux community overall.

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Gmail learns a new trick -- easily insert auto-backup photos on the web


Cloud storage is great for mostly all file types, but there is one type where it truly shines -- photos. Smartphones have become ubiquitous in daily life, making them the perfect camera. After all, precious memories can occur at anytime, not only when you have your DSLR or point-and-shoot. And so, auto-backup of photos to the cloud is an ideal situation for safety and sharing.

Overall, auto-backup is a great solution, because people like the idea of having their entire library of photos with them wherever they go. However, it can sometimes be tedious to utilize those photos. For example, inserting an image from the cloud into an email can be more complicated than adding a locally stored file. Google recognizes this dilemma and improves Gmail on the web with a new "Insert Photo" button.

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Microsoft Office comes to Google's Chrome OS -- now who's Scroogled?


What was once the crown jewel of software, Microsoft Office, has arguably been devalued by free offerings. It used to be that when you bought a computer, you pretty much had to buy Office too. Sure, some people got by with the low-rent Works package, but that was not the same. Let's be honest though, most home users only ever used Word, so for these users, many features and programs were for naught.

Unfortunately, the gravy train of overselling home customers has dried up for Microsoft. Don't get me wrong, Microsoft Office is still the best choice for many large businesses. However, many home users can get by without it, thanks to Google Docs and the like. It is up to Microsoft to keep it relevant and desirable. The company is actually doing a good job in this regard, by releasing it for iPad and making it affordable with a 365 subscription. Today, the company does the unthinkable and publishes Office Online to the Chrome Web Store.

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Looking for love online? Here are the most open-minded cities for dating


All people need love, regardless of size, shape or personality type. Unfortunately, some people are either too busy or socially awkward to meet someone in person. There is nothing wrong with that. Quite frankly, it is refreshing to see online services use science to match people rather than random meetings in a bar.

Many people come with baggage, like former spouses, children, bad habits -- typical things that happen during the course of a life. Also, some people practice unique religions, are of a certain age, or have a handicap. However, it turns out, the location of the person you are interested in may affect how they perceive your baggage or differences. In a new study by online dating site Zoosk, some cities are more open-minded than others.

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Are Dropbox users overreacting to Condoleezza Rice? The company responds


Condoleezza Rice is a beautiful, accomplished woman. However, her legacy in the eyes of many, is tainted by her association with the Bush Administration. While that administration was marred with controversial moments, it is debatable if Ms. Rice should be forever linked to it by detractors.

Nevertheless, her appointment to the Dropbox board of directors has sparked an outcry of disappointment from users of the cloud service. Users seem concerned that her government associations will taint the integrity of the company and its stance on security. But is the furor warranted? As stated in a new blog posting, Dropbox does not seem to think so.

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Google blows up the Easter Bunny


While Easter is technically a religious holiday, many people do not celebrate it as such. Instead of biblical stories, they speak of magical bunny rabbits that deliver chocolate, and that is OK. After all, people have the right to celebrate as they want.

One iconic Easter treat is Easter Bunny-shaped chocolate. Many children look forward to seeing this in their Easter basket every year. But did you know that there is a classic hare painting on which many of the confections are based? It's true and now Google is "blowing it up" by making it a gigapixel image.

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Want Google Glass? Become a 'Glasshole' on April 15th


Google Glass has yet to be officially released to the public, yet the product has already made a big impact on society. If you aren't familiar, it is a computer that you wear on your head, like glasses, with an integrated camera. The camera is what has ingrained the product into popular culture by way of controversy.  It should come as no surprise that people become uncomfortable when a camera is pointed at them. News reports started hitting the airwaves that wearers of the product were being assaulted, banned from businesses and issued traffic tickets.

However, the controversy and hatred towards the product has been minimized thanks to its relatively small footprint. You see, Google limited sales to what the company officially dubbed "Explorers" -- basically technology nerds that the company knew would like the product. Unofficially, people that dislike the product have started calling owners "Glassholes". Today, the company announces that starting on April 15th, all adults in the USA are welcomed to buy it -- but availability will be limited.

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Twitter introduces web notifications


Using social media services such as Twitter, Google+ and Facebook can be a dizzying affair. The more people that you follow or become friends with, the more "noisy" the experience. Quite frankly, it can become an impossibility to keep track of all the friend-requests and notifications.

Twitter can be particularly difficult for me, as I must keep the list of who I follow rather small, or else I cannot keep up. Luckily, the blue bird-logo company is aiming to make things more manageable for us web users with web notifications.

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AMD AM1 platform now available -- can it compete with Intel's Bay Trail-D?


As a system builder, I always keep my eyes open for new trends in PC hardware. My latest build is powered by an Intel processor, which is a first for me. Historically, I've always used AMD. The reason being was, at the time, AMD processors delivered both great performance and value. In other words, if you needed to save money, AMD was what you bought.

Unfortunately, AMD fell behind Intel quite a bit in recent years, making the value in its processors questionable. Today however, the company announces availability of its new platform, called AM1, which focuses directly on value and low cost. Will consumers shopping on the low-end choose it over Intel's Bay Trail-D SoC?

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Microsoft OneNote team creates Tony Award-worthy YouTube performance


As a Long Islander, I am only a short train ride from Manhattan. And so, I have been to my fair share of Broadway shows. After all, if you are going to live in New York, you might as well take advantage of it.

While musicals on Broadway are commonplace, it is odd to see them come from Redmond, Washington. However, that is exactly what has happened, as the Microsoft OneNote team delivers a Tony Award-worthy YouTube parody of the song "One Day More" from Les Misérables.

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Google stops the hemorrhaging -- patches OpenSSL Heartbleed bug


The Heartbleed bug is quite the devastating blow to computer security. The OpenSSL failure has the unfortunate effect of lowering computer users' confidence in SSL. However, the mistrust in SSL is misplaced, as it is only the OpenSSL implementation that is affected. No matter though, the damage is done and the flaw has been available for exploit since 2011.

When the news of the flaw was announced, many people's attention turned to Google. No, the company is not the cause of the bug, but since it controls such a huge part of the Internet, people hoped that its services were unaffected. Sorry people, Google was affected too. However, the company was also quick to patch, announcing the details of such today.

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Logitech announces HTPC-friendly Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830


Home-Theater PCs (HTPC) are a bit of a dying breed. While many people still build and use them, the rise of media boxes and dongles have rendered them a bit unnecessary. After all, something like a Roku takes up far less space, costs less and uses much less electricity than a full-fledged PC.

However, HTPCs still have their place in some homes. And so, high quality wireless pointing devices and keyboards are still desired by some consumers. Hell, I run XBMC on Raspberry Pi in my living room and have a need in that regard too. Today, Logitech announces a solution for these users, with the Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830.

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