Brian Fagioli

Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn is here -- Linux fans, download now!

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Not only is Ubuntu one of the most user-friendly Linux distributions, but it also gets many timely releases. Say what you want about it, but the overall experience is second to none. I would not hesitate to recommend Ubuntu to both Linux beginners and experts alike.

After we just learned the name of the future version of the OS (15.04) to be Vivid Vervet (it is coming in 2015), Canonical releases Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn today. Linux fans can download it now!

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Google and Oxford University partner for artificial intelligence research

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I am a huge fan of artificial intelligence (AI). After all, it is the technology that might eventually make my dream of a realistic robot girlfriend a reality. Sure, many people are wary of this technology, claiming it could lead to machines becoming self-aware and destroying humanity. However, those people are simply paranoid conspiracy theorists (who've watched the Terminator movies too often). AI is something that should improve technology and help humanity overall.

Google is a very forward-thinking company, often on the forefront of technology and ideas. Today, the search-giant announces that its DeepMind division is partnering with the renowned Oxford University for artificial intelligence research.

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Microsoft releases Torque -- a Bing-powered Android Wear app

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When the smartwatch concept started to take off, I was dubious to say the least. I mean, I own a smartphone, so why do I need another device that essentially duplicates functionality of my phone? It is an honest argument, but I'll concede that I was wrong -- smartwatches rock. Well, to be more specific, Android Wear in particular kicks major ass. I love my Samsung Gear Live which I recently got.

As great as Google's watch concept is, it is a bit limited. It tells me the weather, checks my heart rate and alerts me to Android notifications, and that's cool, but clearly the sky is the limit for the new platform. Today, an unlikely company, Microsoft, releases a new Android Wear app called "Torque" and it is powered by Bing. Yes, a Bing app on a Google watch -- are pigs flying?

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Employees are distracted by technology -- should employers ban smartphones?

distracted

I will admit that I am addicted to my smartphone -- there, I said it. Quite frankly, I am becoming addicted to my smartwatch too, but I digress. You see, I am not alone in this, as many people seem glued to their devices nowadays. However, I know to put away my devices when it is time to work. Sadly, many people use their smartphones for personal reasons as they do their job. If I go to Starbucks, the barista is usually distracted by her iPhone, and I end up with the wrong drink -- I'll be like "listen lady, I wanted a venti, not a grande, hop off of that Instagram, yo!"

Sadly, this seems to be plaguing society, but businesses are getting hit hard; employees are too damn distracted! Today, a new report explains that a large amount of the workforce is distracted by technology. Should employers start banning smartphones and tablets at work?

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Google Play Music All Access gets even better with Songza integration

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I love me some music, and I love me some Google Play Music All Access. For real though, I use the search-giant's music service for multiple hours every day. Whether it is on my desktop, smartphone or tablet, I consume many songs with the service. Sure, other services like Beats Music and Spotify are good too, but All Access couples its large selection with an unrivaled visual style that makes the entire experience awesome. Heck, starting today, Android app begins using the super-sexy material design.

Unfortunately, with all streaming music services, media discovery can be tricky, as I often find myself listening to the same songs over and over again. While Google's genre-based and curated stations are a good way to discover, even that can be limiting. Today, Google turns it up to 11 and finally integrates features from its Songza acquisition into All Access. The result? Better discovery, plus music that matches a mood or task.

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Toshiba unveils the Satellite Radius 11 Convertible -- form and function at a low price

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Toshiba has been making laptops for what seems like forever, and for many consumers, the machines have been synonymous with quality and value. The company produces computers for both bargain hunters and enthusiasts alike.

Today, the company announces a laptop that targets both laptop and tablet shoppers with the all-new Satellite Radius 11 Convertible, running Windows 8.1. It is extremely versatile and should appeal to consumers looking for value.

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Linux distro Ubuntu 15.04 gets its name -- Vivid Vervet

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Ubuntu has become one of the most popular and influential distributions of all time. It is easy to use, well designed and has a large and helpful community. Despite its general greatness, it uses a rather silly naming convention, based on sequential letters. That letter is used in the start of two consecutive words; the first being an adjective and the second being an animal. Is it fun? I suppose. Actually, it isn't too different than Android, which also uses sequential letters, but for yummy sweets.

Today, Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical CEO, announces the latest name, for the upcoming 15.04. For this release, the letter V is being used. The adjective? Vivid. The animal? Vervet. Yes, the next version of Ubuntu is Vivid Vervet, but what the hell is a vervet?

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More consumers are ditching online shopping for physical retailers

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Many of us are guilty of "showrooming" -- the act of using a brick and mortar store like Best Buy or Walmart as a showroom for products we end up buying online. While there is nothing morally wrong about such a practice, I do sometimes feel guilty doing it. In other words, I enjoy saving money by purchasing online, but I would be sad to see brick and mortar stores disappear; I like touching a product before buying.

While the Internet is not about to go away anytime soon, something surprising is happening -- consumers are returning to brick and mortar stores through "webrooming" -- the act of researching a product online and then buying in a physical store.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (Verizon) -- Unboxing and first impressions

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There are many times when tech pundits are wrong about things. I remember thinking the first iPad was a disaster -- who wanted a computer that did not have a USB port for flash drives? The whole world apparently, including myself, only a short while after it launched. The same can be said about Samsung's Note line of smartphones. When the first Note launched, I thought people looked idiotic using such a large phone. I mean, talking on that monstrosity in public? You look like a loon, right? Wrong there too -- people loved it and the industry followed Samsung's phablet lead. Hell, the term phablet is almost a misnomer now, as large screens have become the norm. The screen sizes we considered to be "normal" only a few years ago, are now designated with terms like "mini".

So here we are in 2014 and Samsung is still the leader of the large screen movement, although imitators are catching up. Apple got into the phablet game with the iPhone 6 Plus and even Google is set to release the Nexus 6 in conjunction with Motorola. Still, as great as the iPhone 6 Plus is, and as wonderful as the Nexus 6 is sure to be, Samsung releases the Galaxy Note 4 in hopes to remain the gold standard and the one to beat. I finally got my hands on one -- arguably the best one -- the Verizon variant, which will not be released until October 23. Yes, BetaNews has achieved it early and here are my impressions.

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Microsoft supercharges Cortana with new Bing features -- can it beat Siri and Google Now?

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Google is the king of both search and personal assistants. As great as Cortana and Siri are, Google Now is currently superior, offering more functionality. Quite frankly, Google Now is so good at learning about you, that at first, it can seem a bit creepy. Still, Cortana is steadily making progress and Microsoft's personal assistant is becoming more formidable with every passing day.

Today, Microsoft announces that it is supercharging Cortana with better Bing features and integration. The question is, will these new features usurp Google Now?

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Apple releases OS X 10.10 Yosemite -- flat, beautiful and free

Apple OS X 10.10 Yosemite

Apple's OS X is a great operating system, but guess what? So is Windows. Yes, each are great in different ways, and it is OK to like both. Even if you prefer one over the other, it is silly to make fun of someone else's choice. In other words, don't be a fan-boy or bully.

Today is not about Windows however, as it is Apple's day to shine. The fruit-logo company has seen much success with OS X over the years; yes, success. Even though the operating system holds a very small percentage of the desktop market, it has impacted our overall culture and is instantly recognizable. Today however, Apple releases version 10.10 of OS X, dubbed Yosemite and it is quite possibly the most radical change to the Mac operating system. You see, much like iOS7, OS X is getting a "flat" overhaul.

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Mac mini lives! Apple finally refreshes the cute little computer

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When I worked at CompUSA, we had a dedicated Apple section filled with beautiful computers. I regularly sold Macs, but with nowhere near the frequency of the Windows-based computers. This was because Apple's machines were far more expensive than their Windows counterparts. This was reflected in the type of person that purchased a Mac -- they had money. As a commission-based salesman, this was awesome, as they never got rejected when applying for a store credit card or got denied when paying at the register.

Sadly, even though I sold Macs, I could not afford one. This was fine, as I was a Windows fan anyway, but still, it hurts to be a salesperson or factory worker that produces a product that is out of reach. This changed in 2005, however, with one magical product -- the Mac mini. It was impossibly small, super cute and best of all, affordable. When my mom needed a computer, I quickly talked her into the mini, as I was tired of fixing her Windows machine. Today, after what feels like an eternity, Apple finally refreshes the Mac mini line with Haswell processors and OS X Yosemite, while also bringing the starting price down to a mouth-watering $499.

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CBS All Access delivers live and archived TV shows without a cable subscription

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As an American, I watch a lot of television -- it's kind of what we do. While baseball was once considered to be our national pastime, TV-watching has certainly replaced it. Quite frankly, it is not due to laziness, but quite the opposite -- we work a lot of hours, and have little time for anything but relaxing with our favorite shows. Not to mention, the quality of TV programming is very high right now.

One of my favorite channels is CBS, as it is home to the two best comedies on TV -- Big Bang Theory and Mom. Plus, you can't forget the awesome Under The Dome. The network has countless good shows, both past and present, and thanks to CBS All Access, consumption is only a small monthly fee away. Better yet, it does not require a cable subscription. Yes cord-cutters, the future is now -- access quality live and archived programming from the famed channel.

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X-Doria KidFit is a watch-like wearable for children -- tracks sleep and activity

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Many kids nowadays are lazy and sedentary. They come from school, sit on the couch, eat Go-Gurt and watch nonsense like Adventure Time. Actually, swap the Go-Gurt for Teddy Grahams and Adventure Time for Heathcliff and it sounds like my youth, but I digress. Kids don't play outside enough and thanks to smartphones and tablets, they don't get as much sleep as they should. Hell, can you blame them? If I had an iPad in the 80s, I never would have slept.

Today, a new product called KidFit from a company called X-Doria becomes available. In a nutshell, it is a watch-like wearable that you strap onto your kids, so you can track both their activity and sleep patterns. While some may claim the use of such a product is lazy parenting, I disagree; utilizing this technology is a proactive approach to combatting obesity and fatigue.

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Google wants you to suck it -- reveals Android 5.0 Lollipop

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Android 5.0 has been highly anticipated; fans of Google's operating system have been speculating for months about what it would be like. Hell, people have even been wondering what the name may be. You see, Google sticks to an alphabetized convention using tasty treats -- Cupcake, Jellybean, KitKat -- you get the idea.

Android 5.0 is the letter L and after much wonder, the name is revealed -- Lollipop. I guess you could say that the new version of the operating really sucks, eh? Actually, it looks quite incredible and the new version furthers Google's lead over Apple's iOS from a features perspective.

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