Brian Fagioli

Google+ gets a refresh -- you should actually use it now

Dragon Final Animation

Google+ is a big joke, right? No one uses it, right? Wrong and wrong. The search-giant's social network is actually quite good and has many active users. I would argue that it is the best such network, superior to both Facebook and Twitter, but I digress. True, it does not have as many active users as the aforementioned competitors, but its focused purpose arguably makes it a better resource. It is brilliant for meeting like-minded individuals by using the "Communities" feature.

With all of that said, the Google+ interface was a bit clunky and confusing. Heck, it was very heavy too, causing web browsers -- in my experience -- to use a lot of resources. Today, Google announces that it is refreshing the service -- a new coat of paint and improved interface. Will this lead to increased usage?

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Android apps could be getting a lot cheaper -- here's why

Android celebrating

Apps on both Android and iOS can be great, although the ones for Apple's operating system are often better in design and performance. Even Google apps on iOS are sometimes better than their Android counterparts. This probably contributes to iOS users spending far more money on apps than Android users.

If you are an Android user, I have some good news for you -- the apps you buy in the future may soon be cheaper. You see, Google is lowering the minimum amount that developers can charge in the Play Store. Will this cause you to buy more apps?

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Visiting the System76 headquarters -- a Willy Wonka-like superfan experience


Users of Linux-based operating systems often buy Windows-powered computers, format the hard drive and install their favorite distro. This can sometimes be a fine experience, although, quite often, it comes with annoyances such as non-working hardware (usually Wi-Fi). Not to mention, the keyboard will likely house a "Windows" key, which taints the experience.

The holy grail for many Linux users -- besides building their own computer -- is to get a desktop or laptop that comes pre-loaded with a Linux-based operating system. One of the most popular such manufacturers, System76, sells computers pre-loaded with Ubuntu, including a lifetime of telephone tech support. Obviously the company has accumulated many fans over the years, so this past Thursday and Friday, it held its first-ever superfan event. Fans were flown to its Denver headquarters. I was honored to be given the opportunity to cover it.

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Microsoft fund will bring affordable Internet to world's poor


The Internet is one of the most significant inventions in all of humankind. It has enabled the world to easily communicate across borders -- both literally and figuratively. More importantly, however, it allows the free movement of information and ideas. Your location shouldn't  have to limit your mind.

Sadly, a lack of money can block access to the Internet for poor communities globally. There are many people on this planet that do not have access to a service that you and I probably take for granted. In other words, social inequality impacts people in technological matters. Today, Microsoft announces a new fund -- as a part of its Affordable Access Initiative -- in hopes to deliver affordable Internet to people in underserved locations.

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Tim Cook pooh–poohs Mac and iPad convergence


Convergence is a hot topic nowadays, and for good reason -- our smartphones and tablets are very powerful. It is understandable that consumers want one device to rule them all. While Microsoft has had some success with its Surface computers, for the most part, they prove to be poor tablets and mediocre laptops. They are too expensive, big and unwieldy to be used as a tablet for relaxing, while the keyboard is not ideal for typing. Hell, you can't even type with it on your lap. Don't get me wrong, I love my Surface Pro 3 for its portability and power, but don't enjoy using it.

When it comes to enjoyment and emotional relationships with technology, Apple is second to none. While many have wondered why there is not yet a touch-screen MacBook, or a tablet running OS X, the company has wisely kept both separate. If you were wondering if Tim Cook would reverse course on this, the answer is no. The Apple CEO recently pooh–poohed the idea of an iPad and Mac convergence. Is that a good thing?

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Netrunner Rolling 2015.11 Linux distro is here


Like many of you, dear BetaNews readers, I use various operating systems throughout the day, such as iOS, Windows and Ubuntu. On the desktop, Linux is my true love. While Ubuntu is the reliable friend that is always there for me, I love other distros too, such as Fedora.

One of my favorite distros, however, is not particularly popular, but it should be. Netrunner is a brilliant KDE-focused operating system that works well for beginners and experts alike. Despite KDE's arguably confusing settings, I really like it as an operating system for someone transitioning from Windows. It feels familiar, is very polished, and comes loaded with great software. The latest version of its Manjaro/Arch-based rolling variant is now available and it looks great. Beginners should sit this out, however, and stick with the more-stable Kubuntu-based variant.

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Microsoft gives Distributed Machine Learning Toolkit to the open source community


While Microsoft may be looked at as the enemy of open source, it actually does contribute to the cause. In fact, I am comfortable saying that the company embraces open source; although closed source ideology will always be its "bread and butter".

Today, the Windows-maker announces that it is making yet another one of its projects open source. The Distributed Machine Learning Toolkit seems quite interesting and could prove valuable.

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Silicon Power announces xDrive Z30 Lightning Dual Flash Drive for Apple Devices

SPPR_SP xDrive Z30_Product Image

Moving from Android to iOS was one of the best decisions of my tech-life. There has never been a day where I regretted my choice. With that said, I did like the ability to use micro SD on some Android devices to move files to and from the devices to my home computer. This hasn't been a huge pain point, however, thanks to my love affair with Dropbox.

If you own an iPad or iPhone, you may have wanted the ability to transfer files without the need of the cloud. Well, guess what? You actually can. While Lightning connector-based flash drives are not new, Silicon Power today announces a very elegant solution -- the xDrive Z30 Lightning Dual Flash Drive for Apple Devices.

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HyperX releases 2666MHz 128GB Savage and 3000MHz 64GB Predator DDR4 kits


While I love smartphones, laptops, and tablets, my true love is the desktop. My first-ever computer was a store-bought Packard Bell desktop, and ever since then, I have always preferred that form factor -- tower, monitor, keyboard and mouse. Nowadays, however, I build my own such computers; I love selecting all the components piece by piece.

One component that you should never overlook or "cheap out" on is RAM. Choosing a low-quality manufacturer is just asking for headaches. Nothing is more frustrating than diagnosing bad memory sticks. One company I swear by for RAM is HyperX -- a gaming division of Kingston. Its products are fast and dependable. Today, the company announces something so incredible, that I might drown in my own drool -- a 2666MHz 128GB DDR4 kit with its "Savage" moniker. Holy cow!

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HP AMD-powered t730 is first thin client with native 4K -- offers Windows or Linux

4. HP t730

Business workstations and thin clients are often boring affairs; however, they do not have to be. There is no reason why such a computer cannot have some sweet technology inside of it.

Today, HP announces the t730 thin client -- an exciting thin client. This svelte machine features a quad-core AMD APU and up to 16GB of RAM. The truly impressive aspect, however, is that it can natively support 4K video out -- HP claims it is the world's first thin client to do so. It features an impressive four full-size DisplayPort connectors. You can even add an AMD Fire Pro W2100 for a total of six Display Ports.

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Hello Apple TV 4th Gen, goodbye Xbox One! [Review]


People have different needs. This is why saying one piece of technology is better than another is subjective. The Xbox One, for instance is a more powerful device than the new Apple TV. It has, by far, superior hardware and can do more things. And yet, if you do not need that raw processing power, and prefer casual games to expensive console-grade games, Microsoft's console may be too much. In other words, it doesn't make sense to spend the money on Xbox One if you only need it for streaming media. Sure, it can run Halo 5 and play Blu-ray movies, but I really don't want those things and I am sure there are others like me too.

Enter the Apple TV. I bought this little 4th generation box for $200 despite owning plenty of devices that can already handle streaming media. Why? because of its potential. You see, with access to Apple's App Store, the future will be really bright for it as a media machine, but more importantly, a gaming console. Yes, the Apple TV is a Trojan horse in a sense -- it comes into your home disguised as a run-of-the-mill media streamer, but becomes the future of gaming too.

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Razer announces Naga Chroma MMO gaming mouse


The older I get, the less time I have for video games. Don't misunderstand me, I am not saying I am too mature for gaming; quite the contrary -- I am just as immature as ever! The problem is, as responsibilities mount, there is much less time.

I am quite envious of those people that have hours and days to dedicate to playing in-depth games like MMO's each week. If you are one of these lucky people, Razer has some good news for you; it has refreshed its popular Naga MMO gaming mouse -- now with the added 'Chroma' moniker -- with new features. It, of course, retains its iconic 12 thumb buttons.

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Christmas is coming -- Google Maps and Search get holiday hours


I hate leaving the house. Don't get me wrong, I love nature and fresh air, but my fellow humans can be sort of annoying. A trip to Walmart, or a mall, can be the most soul-crushing experience -- fewer people have manners nowadays. In other words, many shoppers do not know how to properly behave in public. This is why I try and do all my shopping online.

If you are a glutton for punishment, maybe you enjoy shopping in brick and mortar stores. With Christmas -- and other holidays -- approaching, many stores will have special hours, both shortened and extended. Now Google is making it easier to see these special holiday hours.

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Logitech G633 Artemis Spectrum RGB 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset [Review]


While I am not a hardcore gamer, I do enjoy gaming on both my PC and Xbox One. While playing single-player games can be fun, I much prefer the online multiplayer variants. I am still blown-away at the concept of playing a game against random people from around the world. Keep in mind, my first console was a hand-me-down Atari 2600 -- you younger cats probably take it for granted.

While playing against other people is cool on its own, I also like talking with them. Whether trash-talking or planning strategies, gaming with a headset is super great. If you are going to invest in a headset, however, you should do it right. I have been searching for a really nice headset for games, movies, music and chat and recently came across the Logitech G633 Artemis Spectrum RGB 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset. When looking for accessories, Logitech is always a great place to start. Will the G633 continue the long tradition of quality?

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Virtual reality comes to YouTube -- let PewDiePie 'brofist' your face with Cardboard


My favorite video service is probably not what you expect. No, it is not Netflix or Hulu, but the free YouTube. Yes, when I am on my PC or tablet, I prefer watching Barnacules, iJustine and PewDiePie rather than Hollywood movies and prime-time TV shows. Say what you like, but I am certainly not alone in this regard.

Today, Google is improving YouTube in a really cool way -- it is delivering virtual reality. Using the search-giant's Cardboard face mask, you can experience VR-optimized content as if you are really there! Existing non-VR content can be viewed using Cardboard too.

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