Brian Fagioli

Microsoft partners with NASCAR -- Windows 10 logo on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car

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NASCAR racing has both its fans and detractors. Try as I might, I fall into the latter category. For me, watching cars go around a circular track for hours is a great cure for insomnia. Rally car racing is certainly a much more interesting spectator sport, but I digress.

While I don't like NASCAR, enough people do to make it a smart organization to partner with. This is why you see so many sponsorship logos on the cars. Today, NASCAR and Microsoft partner to display the Windows 10 logo on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car. The partnership expands beyond the superficial, however.

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NETGEAR announces Nighthawk AC1900 WiFi Cable Modem Router (C7000)

netgear

I still remember when cable internet came to my neighborhood. As someone who had done all of his web surfing over dial-up, this was to be a life-changing event. I went to Nobody Beats the Wiz, where I got the modem and Ethernet card for my PC tower.

The excitement of having broadband has since worn off, but it is something I cannot live without. The crazy thing, however, is that I have rented my modems for years -- something the majority of users do. This has really added up over time. Today, NETGEAR announces the Nighthawk AC1900 WiFi Cable Modem Router (C7000). A cable modem and router in one, so you can finally stop renting your equipment and move on to ownership.

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Want Windows 10 for free on July 29? Use this simple trick -- no prior license needed! [Update]

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Throughout history, upgrading Windows versions has been a paid affair. It has been a particularly pricey prospect too; both full and upgrade licences can be the most expensive software a home user buys. This is why a Windows license has been highly valued by its users.

Luckily, because of the negative sentiment towards Windows 8.x, an upgrade to Windows 10 will be free (for the first year) as a sort of mea culpa. Not only will an upgrade be free for Windows 8.x users, but Windows 7 too. But what if you are on XP or Vista? Hell, what if you are using a non-Microsoft OS such as Ubuntu Linux, BSD or OS X? No matter what operating system you are running now, you can score a free Windows 10 license if you do this simple trick.

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Xbox One gets even better -- Microsoft lets buyers choose a free game

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2015 is proving to be a very strong year for gaming, with E3 underlining that fact. Both Sony and Microsoft had big announcements regarding their consoles, while AMD announced amazing graphics cards for PC gamers. What a great time to be a games player.

If you want to jump into the current generation of console gaming, you really have one decision to make -- PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. While it has arguably been a tossup -- both have much to offer -- Microsoft's console has now pulled ahead in one major way -- value. Not only can the console be bought with the Halo Master Chief Collection, but you now get another game included too, for free. Best of all? You get to choose the free game. Whoa.

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Microsoft brings Disney and Pixar to Skype with 'Inside Out' emoticons

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Human communication is very tricky. Words on their own are not enough to properly convey a message. Our tone and body language can speak volumes -- sometimes more than the literal meaning of our words. This can be dangerous when sending an email or text message, as the recipient can easily misinterpret the senders intentions.

Luckily, emoticons and emojis have enabled us to enhance our text-based communications. While some people decry millennials' use of these enhancements, they are seemingly here to stay. Today, Microsoft announces that it is delivering new emoticons to Skype that are based on Disney and Pixar's animated film "Inside Out". Since the characters in the movie are based on emotions, it is actually a brilliant partnership.

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Toshiba announces Windows 10-ready Satellite laptops with dedicated Cortana key

Toshiba Satellite Fusion 15 L55W_ANGLE5

Windows 10 is coming on July 29th. With every new version of Windows, computer manufacturers launch new PCs. In fact, new versions of Microsoft's operating system are often looked at as a sales savior for the PC market.

Today, Toshiba launches its new line of Satellite laptops, and while most will ship with Windows 8.1, they are certainly a Windows 10 affair. Of course they will be eligible for a free upgrade, but more importantly, they will feature a dedicated Cortana key. Could a simple button be a game-changer for PCs?

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Google embraces Islam -- launches 'My Ramadan Companion' for Muslims

Islam

One of the most important aspects of the United States is freedom. Many of us take it for granted, but in many countries, people are not free to express themselves. In the USA, citizens are free to choose their religion, whether it be Christianity, Judaism, Islam or anything else; it is glorious.

Today, Google is specifically embracing Islam by releasing a tool for Ramadan. The unimaginatively named 'My Ramadan Companion' will help Muslims to observe this very holy month.

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Razer announces all-new wireless Mamba gaming mouse and wired Tournament Edition

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When it comes to mice, there are many types available. For the average consumer, using whatever came with their desktop is probably sufficient. If they do buy a new mouse, it is often because the old one broke. The replacement is frequently selected due to low price. After all, they probably just need to point and click.

Gamers, however, are an entirely different breed. These people love hardware and video games and will spend extra money to gain an edge. One of the most popular manufacturers of gaming mice is Razer. While the company has deviated a bit from its roots lately, it returns to form today by announcing an all-new version of its wildly popular Mamba. Best of all? It will be available in both wired and wireless variants.

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Linux Mint 17.2 'Rafaela' RC now available

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Ubuntu is one of the best overall Linux distributions, but it does have its fair share of detractors. Many people dislike the direction Canonical takes sometimes, including the much-maligned Unity desktop environment. Truth be told, I rather like Unity, but I can understand why some people prefer different desktop environments.

If you like the Ubuntu base, but dislike Canonical and Unity, there is a very easy solution -- use Mint instead. Linux Mint is Ubuntu at heart, with different tweaks and desktop environments, such as Cinnamon, Mate and KDE. Today, the Mint team releases a release candidate for the upcoming version -- 17.2 'Rafaela'.

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The Linux Foundation opens scholarship program -- will you apply?

Scholar

Are you happy with your life? Maybe you are stuck in a dead-end job. Maybe you are unemployed and living on your mom's couch. Hell, maybe you just need to enhance your skills for your current job. You know you need to make a change, but you keep putting it off. What is a smart path to take?

Linux. Yes, careers involved in Linux are in high demand. Getting certified in some way is not only personally rewarding, but also improves your employment potential by bolstering your resume. If you do not have money for such a thing, I have good news -- you could get a scholarship from The Linux Foundation. In other words, you can get a free education and certification. Will you improve your life by applying?

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NVIDIA who? AMD roars back with Radeon R9 Fury and R7/R9 300 series graphics cards

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If you've built a gaming PC lately, there is a good chance that you purchased an NVIDIA graphics card and Intel processor, and that's OK. Both of those companies make great products. Unfortunately for AMD, consumers have been ignoring its products a bit lately. This is understandable, as the company's offerings -- while solid -- have not always delivered the same value as year's past.

This year, however, AMD has been roaring back to relevance and possibly dominance. It announced the value-focused A10-7870K APU and then the awesome 6th generation A-Series notebook processors. Today, the company continues on an upward trajectory as it announces the Radeon R9 Fury, Fury X, Fury Nano and the R9 and R7 300 Series graphics cards. All are DirectX 12 capable and Windows 10-ready. If you are a hardcore gamer, these are the cards you want.

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Ultimate Ears unveils UE ROLL -- a round waterproof Bluetooth speaker

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Another day, another Bluetooth speaker. With the market so flooded, it can be hard to get excited about them. Many people that want such a wireless speaker already own them, and those that do need to buy one can be overwhelmed by the choices.

Ultimate Ears has been selling some popular speakers such as the MINI BOOM, BOOM and MEGABOOM -- a great choice at multiple price points. In other words, the company has been on a roll lately. What better way to celebrate being on a roll, than to release a new round speaker called UE ROLL.

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Watch the AMD E3 2015 announcement here live -- 'A New Era of PC Gaming'

gamerkid

Well folks, E3 2015 is in full swing, and this year is proving to be monumental. On the console front, Microsoft stole the show with Xbox One backwards compatibility with the 360 and the amazing -- albeit pricey -- Elite controller. Sony was no slouch, however, announcing first-rights to Call of Duty DLC.

Console gaming is cool and all, but what about those of us members of the PC Master-race? You know, those of us that like to build our gaming rigs?

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Does Microsoft's Xbox Elite Wireless Controller give unfair advantage to those with money?

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You know what makes console gaming so awesome? For the most part, everyone has the same specs. Conversely, in PC gaming, gamers can pay for better hardware -- a faster graphics card, more RAM, more accurate mouse, keyboard, etc -- these can enable higher scores and increased wins online. In other words, even though winning takes skill, the gamer with the bigger bank account can get an advantage -- arguably, an unfair one.

Today, Microsoft announces the Xbox Elite controller. Quite frankly, it is a work of art -- featuring a customizable, modular design and a sexy look. The problem? It is insanely expensive at $149.99. If you can afford it, more power to you, however, is it fair that a console gamer can simply buy an advantage?

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Microsoft will encrypt all Bing search traffic

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In a post-Edward Snowden world, privacy and security are huge concerns. While many people call him a traitor to his country, many others -- myself included -- consider him a hero. Snowden shone a light on government programs that were arguably illegal and unconstitutional. The ultimate win from his actions is that people that were ignorant to privacy issues before, are now interested in them. He planted a seed of curiosity and concern.

As a result of this new interest in privacy, many companies have been reacting to show customers that they are safe and secure. One of the most vocal of these companies is Microsoft. Today, the company announces that it will soon start encrypting all Bing web searches. Whoa. This is huge.

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