When it comes to Chrome OS, the Chromebook reigns supreme. In fact, Google's operating system is viewed by many consumers as a laptop-only affair. However, the Chromebox has existed for quite some time now; it just has not caught on with consumers as much as the portable versions. The mini desktop form factor always feels like an afterthought when discussing Google's operating system.
It is understandable for people to pass on the Chromebox. You see, a Chromebook with HDMI or DisplayPort can also function as a desktop when connected to a large monitor, keyboard and mouse. In other words, why would a consumer or business user tether themselves to a desk rather than having the option to go portable? There are many reasons; business users may have requirements that a computer does not leave a location. For home consumers, one of the most important reasons is style and design. A Chromebox takes up little room on a desk and looks attractive; more than a laptop with a mess of wires. Today, Acer drives this point home by announcing the Chromebox CXI series -- super-slim, sexy and very functional.
The Linux desktop community has reached a sad state. Ubuntu 14.04 was a disappointing release and Fedora is taking way too long between releases. Hell, OpenSUSE is an overall disaster. It is hard to recommend any Linux-based operating system beyond Mint. Even the popular KDE plasma environment and its associated programs are in a transition phase, moving from 4.x to 5.x. As exciting as KDE 5 may be, it is still not ready for prime-time; it is recommended to stay with 4 for now.
In the midst of disappointing releases from the big names, relative newcomer KaOS keeps plugging away and focusing on getting better and being on the forefront of all things KDE. Today, KaOS 2014.08 is made available and it looks amazing. The exciting news is that KDE 4.14.0 is present, making it very modern and stable.
Samsung makes great products -- you really can't go wrong with anything it makes; televisions, washing machines, tablets -- all wonderful. Sure, some people don't like the interface that the manufacturer uses for Android, but those people are just being whiny -- TouchWiz is fine. Just install Nova launcher if it bothers you that much.
Today, Barnes and Noble is releasing Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK. While Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets do not have standard Android or access to Google's Play Store, this new tablet does. In fact, it is essentially just the regular 7-inch Galaxy Tab 4 with the NOOK app pre-installed and some perks. So the question is, why does it exist?
Air conditioning is one of the greatest inventions of all mankind. As a fat guy, I love keeping my house like an igloo. However, as great as being cool is, conditioned air takes some of the fun out of summer. As someone who grew up without air conditioning, I learned to appreciate having an open window and enjoying the sounds and smells of the season. Crickets chirping, thunder in the distance, and the smell of fresh-cut grass are lost when you shut the windows and turn on the artificial cool air.
While I am too far gone to ever return to life without an air conditioner, I am still quite conscious of the extremely high electric bill that it causes. Today, Big Ass Fans, a fan manufacturer, announces that one of its fans, the Haiku with SenseME, can now work with the Nest thermostat to lower bills. If this fan can give me big ass savings, I'm all for it!
Microsoft produces some amazing things; the Surface Pro 3 is revolutionary and Office is a staple in productivity around the world. However, there is one service that the company provides that does not get the attention it deserves -- OneNote. Yes, the software that many have installed, but few use, is actually very good. It is a wonderful way to take notes and organize your thoughts. Best of all, it is cross-platform and has a web-based version, so it can be accessed on Android, iOS, Windows, OS X, Chromebooks and Linux.
Sadly, Microsoft did not make an Android version optimized for tablets. This was tragic, as many people use Google-powered tablets as their daily organizers. Today however, this changes as Microsoft releases a tablet-optimized Android version of OneNote. What took so long?
In recent years, I have enjoyed simplicity in my home. Long gone are the days of owning stacks of CDs and DVDs. Instead, like many people, I have embraced streaming audio and video. Not only is it convenient, but it helps to prevent clutter. A tiny box can be placed next to your TV, which can deliver thousands of hours of entertainment. However, which one do you choose? Apple TV? Fire TV? Roku?
Ah, Roku. Something about that box's UI and remote make it a dream to use. It is not much bigger than a hockey puck, but I guess for some, even that is too big. Well today, the Roku goes invisible -- how's that for small? Don't worry, magic is not involved and technically it isn't invisible. Actually, it is being hidden inside the TV, yet it is so much more. Yes, with Roku TV, an embedded Roku is finally a reality and you can pre-order it today.
In my day, video game consoles were made for video games. There was no confusion over which box did what. If I wanted to listen to music, I would simply insert Bell Biv DeVoe into my cassette deck. If I wanted to watch a movie, the VCR was right there. Only a loon would try to jam a VHS tape of Richard Simmons' Sweatin' to the Oldies in the Nintendo.
Nowadays though, everything is a technological Swiss Army knife. Hell, people buy game consoles and don't even game on them! Whether you buy a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One you are buying an entertainment box that can do so many things beyond gaming. Today however, Xbox One learns some new tricks, such as accessing reddit. But wait -- that's not all; MTV is coming too. Sorry PlayStation 4 owners, you must sit this one out.
When you think of a computer virus, you typically picture software that wreaks havoc on your PC. Hell, there is an entire industry built around Windows viruses. Sure, there are viruses for OS X and Linux, but they are quite rare comparatively.
However, pairing the words "computer" and "virus" can mean something else too. You see, computers and technology are important tools to fight against real viruses, such as Ebola, which is currently causing much pain and suffering. In the USA, we have the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a government health agency, to investigate these outbreaks. Luckily, the USA government is not going to some third-rate company for its technology needs -- au contraire. Today, Dell announces that it will be providing its services to the CDC.
There are countless ways to promote a product nowadays. The problem is fun and creativity are very much dead -- so many advertisements and promotions are simply yawn-worthy. This is a shame, particularly for the technology community, where nerds are abundant. If you aren't aware, nerds and geeks love nerdy and geeky things, so it is surprising that more companies do not embrace those interests.
Today, typically conservative Panasonic launches one of the coolest corporate, promotional, advertisements ever. You see, many computer nerds (including myself) are socially inept and uncool and this brought us down the path of something wonderful as children -- comic books! Yes, nerds and geeks love both comic books and computers so Panasonic is launching Unbreakable Valor (and it's actually good).
Say what you will about lawyers, but the profession is a necessity to protect the rights of citizens. Sure, there are some questionable ones that chase ambulances or advertise on late-night television, but there are many noble ones looking to prosecute bad guys and defend the innocent.
Whether a lawyer or any other law professional is noble or not, they need quality tools to research cases and archive documents. However, unlike other businesses, the law profession has some specific needs and requirements that other industries do not. And so, law professionals can't just buy a single software package and easily accomplish their goals. Today, Microsoft announces that this is changing with Matter Center for Office 365.
As a Linux user and lover, I prefer Android smartphones to iOS. While I love the freedom and functionality of Google's mobile operating system, there is one thing I hate -- the UI. That is a pretty big deal and usually a deal-breaker for a consumer. However, I put up with the dreary UI and clunky app drawer because I can customize it with different launchers, wallpapers and icon packs. While this is passable, I long for a redesign to mimic something similar to iOS 7. I crave beauty and art, but alas, Google seems disinterested in doing anything radical -- Android L "Material Design" seems too safe and boring.
The design savior for many years has been the Chinese-born ROM, MIUI; however, as more and more devices ship with impossibly hard-to-hack locked bootloaders, the gorgeous ROM has not been ported to as many devices; even unofficially. And so, users have been limited to MIUI-styled launchers, but not the full experience. Excitingly, MIUI 6 is now released in beta form, but sadly, most Android users will not be able to flash the beta, or the final version for that matter. This locked bootloader nonsense is a tragedy, as MIUI 6 is sexy as hell and puts Google's vision of Android to shame.
The concept of a Chromebook is awesome. All of your files are stored in the cloud -- family photos, office documents and videos to name a few. This opens up an entire new way of thinking, where nothing seems impossible. Hell, even most of the apps are web-based and that is enough to blow someone's mind. Since local apps cannot be installed, this makes Chrome OS extremely secure and an ideal platform for accessing sensitive information.
Unfortunately, as great as the operating system is, the hardware has been lacking. Most models require the user to make a compromise for the sake of cost. Poor quality screens, not enough RAM and questionable build quality are the issues that are most apparent. For some reason, manufacturers equate Chromebooks with "cheap" and this is not the case. People really do want a midrange Chromebook and not just throwaway, disposable tech. Today, Acer announces a Chromebook that may be the one we have been wishing for (fingers crossed); the unimaginatively named Chromebook 13. It is the first-ever Chrome OS laptop to have the Nvidia Tegra K1 ARM processor.
Google seems to be on a bit of a space travel kick lately. The search-giant recently launched Google Maps for Mars and the Moon. At first, that seemed a bit odd; I mean, other than some NASA nerds, who really cares to view those terrains? Before you raise your hand and say you do, please know I did it extensively as a test, and saw nothing but rocks and craters. Quite frankly, I would sooner explore Dollywood; at least there is something to see.
Sure enough though, Google seems committed to space, as today, the company announces that users of Google Chrome can get involved with ISEE-3. Don't know what that is? I didn't either. Google explains it by saying, "originally launched in 1978 to study the Sun, it was the first spacecraft in the world to fly by a comet and has been orbiting the sun for billions of miles since 1986". Damn, it's been travelling since the last time the Mets won the World Series!
Nerds and exercise are like oil and water. This is why it is fairly comical that Google is planning a fitness platform. Even though Android enthusiasts will probably line up to take advantage of Google Fit compatible apps and devices, I doubt they will actually use them for anything other than a tech demo. I can picture sloth-like teenagers laying on the couch watching TV and tweeting about how awesome Google Fit is, as they suckle on a Gogurt.
Today, Google announces that a preview of the Google Fit SDK is available. No, this does not mean that users can start utilizing the platform. What it does mean though, is that developers can finally get started at developing for the platform. For the sake of the world, I hope I am wrong and that this actually gets people in shape (including me).
The world is not a perfect place. Unfortunately, there are many bad guys in the world leveraging technology in nefarious ways. This is a shame, because many technological advances are created with good intentions. As an example, cell phones are used to keep friends and family in touch, but terrorists use them to detonate bombs. Tiny cameras can assist doctors in surgical procedures, but perverts hide them in bathrooms.
In other words, no matter how positive something is, it can usually be used in a negative way. Today, Google announces that it is bringing Street View to 36 new college campuses. In theory, this makes it easier for prospective parents and students to check out a school that they are interested in. The reverse of the coin, however, is that creeps can use it to familiarize themselves with the campus and plan attacks.