When it comes to computing, I am rather platform agnostic. Quite frankly, I can jump between multiple operating systems to achieve my goals. While Windows is my go-to for heavy lifting, I often use Chromebooks too for lighter work, such as writing and web surfing.
Earlier this year, Acer announced the Chromebook C910 -- a commercial grade laptop running Google's Chrome OS. The 15.6 inch screen met the needs for many, since Chromebooks often have smaller displays. Today, Acer announces that the C910 is getting a refresh, with an optional 5th generation Intel Core i5 processor. With this CPU, the manufacturer claims that it is the world's fastest commercial Chromebook.
If you do not have a Surface Pro 3, you have my sympathies. Microsoft's Swiss Army Knife-like computer can be a desktop, laptop or tablet, making it an extraordinary value. Not only is it a great choice for home users, but business users too. In other words, the svelte tablet hybrid is good for both fun and work.
Back in January, we reported that Surface Pro 3 would eventually be learning a new skill -- being a point of sale with the help of PayPal Here. Well, the future is now, as you can buy the Surface Pro 3 and PayPal Here dongle in a special combo package from the Microsoft Store. Will your business jump on the Surface train?
When it comes to picking a Linux distribution, it can be very difficult. Quite often, beginners will choose Ubuntu, which is a smart choice. Why? It is easy to use and well supported. Besides Ubuntu, however, Linux Mint is another great choice. Since it is based on Ubuntu, it is compatible with the same packages and commands.
There is another version of Linux Mint, though -- LMDE. This stands for Linux Mint Debian Edition. As the name describes, rather than being based on Ubuntu, it is based on Debian. While the operating system used to be a rolling release variant, it has since evolved to something else. Today, a release candidate for the second edition of the operating system becomes available. Should you use LMDE 2 instead of the traditional Linux Mint?
They say that when buying property, location is everything. This is very true, because a beautiful home in a terrible location is hardly a smart investment. In other words, the true value is the community and neighborhood, not the number of bedrooms.
The same can sort of be said regarding product releases too; instead of location, however, timing is everything. This is especially true in the technology world, as there are key months that make more sense for new computers or operating systems to be released. Ideally, you want to release prior to two key moments -- back to school and holiday shopping. With that said, Microsoft casually announces today that Windows 10 will be released this summer.
The Internet can be a marvelous place. Not only is it chock full of information, but it tears down boundaries, enabling people to communicate with each other from all parts of the world. Unfortunately, the sometimes anonymous nature of the web can bring out the worst in people. On social media, many people are bullied, harassed and even worse -- threatened with violence, including rape or murder. Heck, some people have even committed suicide as a result of the abuse. Often times, the attacker's actions goes so far as to break the law.
Today, Twitter is taking a stand against online bullies that commit crimes through threats and intimidation. Instead of just reporting the abuse to Twitter, users now have a tool to help report the crimes to law enforcement. By simply clicking a button, users can start the process of putting some online bullies behind bars.
Typing a password is prehistoric. Sadly, many of us enter multiple passwords every day. Not only is it tedious, but potentially dangerous. Remembering a unique password for every site and computer is almost an impossibility. This leads to people reusing the same password at multiple sites, which is a poor security practice.
I got wise recently and started using Lastpass to generate and secure my various credentials. Fingerprint scanners such as those found on some of the newer iOS and Samsung Galaxy devices enable biometrics to unlock your device, but also interface with password managers like the aforementioned Lastpass, or 1password. Sadly, similar solutions for Windows computers have been bolted-on and are clunky to say the least. Today, Microsoft announces that it is putting a real focus on biometrics with Windows Hello and Passport.
Geeky students have it made nowadays. You see, there are many outlets for their minds to be put into use. Sadly, before the Internet, it could be difficult for like-minded tech geeks to communicate and collaborate. Quite frankly, a curious mind could go undernourished as a result.
One of the coolest programs for tech-focused students is the Google Summer of Code. Why? For one, it is run by Google, so it is well funded and organized. More importantly, however, is that all of the projects in the program are open source. Today, the search giant begins taking applications. With that said, the window to apply is fairly small, so you had better do it soon.
I'm going to make a startling confession -- I've never seen American Idol. Why didn't I watch such a wildly popular show? Because I'm not into the lame music that the show puts out. Quite frankly, I'm not sure when such terrible music became acceptable, but I never participated. With that said, I do like some of Carrie Underwood's songs; "Before He Cheats" is an epic classic.
While I've never seen The Voice, I have more respect for it than American Idol, as the judges are kind of cool. The current judges, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera and Pharrell Williams are all accomplished musicians who have created extremely popular music. Today, Microsoft announces that Windows Phone users are getting an official app for The Voice. Users of Microsoft's phone-focused operating system are often neglected, so this is a very pleasant surprise.
In the world of business, the typical office is fading away. Yes, there are still places where employees are housed in the same location, but the reality is, talent is scattered across the globe. Less people are spending their entire careers at a single company, so the concept of uprooting an entire family to move for a job is no longer realistic.
The Internet, of course, has afforded talented professionals to work offsite from home or satellite locations (or even outdoors!). The problem is, email is not the most productive collaboration tool, as chains can become convoluted and hard to manage. Phone conferences alone can be quite unproductive as well, as employees mentally check out and mute themselves to work on other things. Microsoft's Lync has been a dream come true for project collaboration, and today, the first preview of the next-generation of the tool, now called Skype for Business, is released.
Apple seems to be getting a lot of credit for the USB Type-C frenzy, but this is very misplaced. You see, the Chromebook Pixel -- with two of the ports -- was in the hands of reviewers weeks before the new MacBook (with its one measly port) was announced. Before the Pixel, however, Type-C was already long in development. Hell, BetaNews covered an MSI motherboard with the connector in January; months before Apple announced its $1,300 OS X netbook laptop. No individual company -- not Google, Apple nor MSI -- should get sole credit. The USB consortium got it standardized and ultimately approved in August of 2014.
Expect to see a lot of USB Type-C products in 2015 as there is a scramble to capitalize on early-adopters. LaCie is one of the first companies to have an honest to goodness product with the connector. Besides having the new connector, it is sexy and well-designed (as are all products in the Porsche Design line). However, is it necessary?
Tomorrow is March 14th; you know what that is right? Pi Day! If you aren't a mathematician or math nerd, Wikipedia describes pi as a "circle's circumference to its diameter". The true value of Pi is indeterminable, as the sequence goes on forever, but it is typically shortened to just 3.14. And so, from that, only the USA celebrates this as Pi Day, since that country displays dates as MM.DD. Most other countries use DD.MM. This year is particularly significant, however, as it is the only time the year and time will be represented too -- 3.141592653 can be seen as 3/14/15 9:26:53 AM.
Unfortunately, while Pi Day is a real thing, how to celebrate it is a bit murky. For the most part, geeks on social media share that Pi Day has arrived as a way to show their geekiness, but beyond that, there are no decorations or traditions in the mainstream. Luckily, Microsoft actually has some cool stuff planned; will you celebrate with the company?
Not all laptops are created equal. Case in point, the new Chromebook Pixel and MacBook. Both are unique and beautiful, but under-powered too, albeit in different ways. The MacBook is a bit anemic in its hardware, while the Pixel is limited by its operating system. With that said, they will meet the needs of some users.
For those looking for raw power and function instead of thinness and portability, Windows-based gaming laptops are the route to go. Even if you do not game, these models are usually very powerful overall. Today, Acer announces a refresh of its existing powerful Aspire V Nitro Black Edition laptops, by offering NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M discrete graphics as an option. Yeehaw!
If you need to drive a nail into a piece of wood, you shouldn't use a wrench. Could you make it work? Sure, but it is not ideal; you should use a hammer. In other words, you should select the correct tool for the job. The same makes sense for computers. When you decide to buy a machine, you want to be sure that it is powerful enough for the software you want to run, but also, durable enough for the environment.
Chrome OS devices are starting to be used more and more, but let's be honest; none of them are particularly durable. For a business owner, a chintzy Chromebook, Chromebase or Chromebox may not last in a dirty or abusive environment. Today, AOPEN announces a commercial-grade Chromebox and Chromebase (in two sizes) with a focus on digital signage.
Something has me enraged this week and I don't think it's going to stop any time soon. I can hardly talk about it, as it makes my blood boil. Before I go into it, let me say that I have been wearing a Samsung Gear Live for months now and I love it. I'm not going to lie, I hoped that people would ask me about it when I wore it -- like a conversation starter -- but no one did. I even made sure to use it in a very ostentatious manner, wildly swiping and positioning my arm in such a way that my wrist would display the watch. Nothing. No one said anything.
Then Apple Watch happened. This past Monday, Apple had a proper keynote address for its watch, and the media lapped it up. As a result, Apple Watch was all over the mainstream media. So here is what's making my blood boil -- since that event, every asshole I encounter asks me if I am wearing the Apple Watch. Grrrr. I'm wearing the same smartwatch that I've been wearing for months, people. Get a clue!
When Google announced the first Chromebook Pixel, many people scratched their heads in confusion. There was good reason for this; Chromebooks were looked at as low-cost web-browsing machines, while the Pixel was very expensive and beautiful. The developer-focused machine served as an example that laptops running Google's browser-focused operating system didn't have to be chintzy.
Unfortunately, Google allowed the Pixel to age and get stale with nary an incremental update. Hell, since Google seemingly ignored it, many people predicted the Pixel's demise. Well, I am happy to say that Google is finally updating the luxurious Chromebook Pixel.