One of the greatest benefits of living in a free country such as the USA is the ability to vote. Even in this country, we aren't far removed from a time where women and non-whites were not allowed to vote -- an embarrassment. With that said, a bigger embarrassment is people that do not vote at all. Don't get me wrong, people have the right not to vote, and it is sometimes discouraging to always choose the lesser of two evils, but when you think of the people that fought and died for your right to vote, it is almost a slap in their face to not do it.
If you don't feel you have enough knowledge about the candidates, that is understandable; there are far too many distractions, such as Walking Dead, Twitter and working very long hours. Between work and media consumption, there just is not enough time to research election details. Today, Microsoft wants to make it easier for people to learn about the election with the all-new Bing Elections; a one-stop hub of information.
As someone who grew up in a lower middle class family in the suburbs known as Long Island, there were two places I spent a lot of time shopping with my mom -- Cheap Johns and Kmart. While the former has since gone out of business, the latter still stands. Actually, the fact that it is still operating is surprising -- don't get me wrong, it is an OK store, but Walmart has lower prices and better selection, even if the overall experience is poor. Once Walmart opened in my area, many people ditched Kmart -- the store famous for its "blue light specials". Heck, if someone wants to step up to a nicer store than Walmart, they'll likely head to Target nowadays -- sorry, Kmart.
Unfortunately for Kmart, it now shares something other than low-prices with Target -- malware and data breaches. Yes, today Kmart announces that its payment systems were breached, and debit and credit card numbers have been stolen. Should we be worried?
As a Linux user, I understand the pain of using it exclusively on the desktop. Sure, you may find that a Linux distribution does everything you want, until it doesn't. Life is known to throw curve-balls, and new needs and wants often come along to spoil the party. Oh, a new obscure piece of hardware has been released? Sorry, no Linux support. Oh you want to watch Netflix? Sorry buddy, Linux is not welcome -- or is it?
Actually, starting today, Netflix is now compatible with Linux; well technically, only Ubuntu and only on the Chrome browser. Still, the open source desktop community is in need of a win, so I'll chalk it up as one. Despite the narrow availability, Netflix is here -- fire up that System76 laptop and get watching!
There are quite a few computer manufacturers nowadays, and many of them release products of varying quality. However, there is one that seems to consistently produce computers that are extremely well-built and functional -- Lenovo. Not only do the manufacturer's laptops and tablets have great build-quality, but the designs seem well thought-out and innovative.
One of my favorite product lines from Lenovo is Yoga -- multi-mode computers that can be transformed into different form factors. Today, the company unveils the Yoga 3 Pro, ThinkPad YOGA 14, Yoga Tablet 2 and Yoga Tablet 2 Pro.
HTC knows how to make a great smartphone. The HTC One M7 and M8 are very popular for having solid build quality and best in class speakers. Unfortunately, while the phones are great, the camera has been lackluster. Don't get me wrong, the photo quality is passable but has lacked compared to other flagships, such as Apple's iPhone and the Galaxy S5.
Today, HTC takes the smartphone world by storm with the selfie-focused HTC Desire Eye and a dedicated action camera, called "Re". Believe it or not, the manufacturer is actually releasing a standalone camera that can interact with both Android and iOS devices. Unfortunately, the Nexus 9 that the Android community has been waiting for was a no-show.
Back in the day, people thought they could get rich from .com domain names. As a teen, I remember spending hours trying to register the names of popular companies in hopes of squatting and reselling. Unfortunately, I never found anything good, and never flipped a domain for millions.
What's really sad is when a website has to choose something like .org because the .com they want is taken. It is hard to take a website seriously when it isn't an organization and uses .org. Well, if you own a business in New York City and the .com domain you desire is taken, you may be able to register .nyc instead.
I am a very patriotic American; my love for my country is unending and unwavering. However, nothing is perfect and no entity is without mistake, including the United States Government. Sure, there are times when being transparent is not possible, such as telegraphing military movements -- soldiers should never be put at risk. With that said, American citizens arguably deserve full transparency on other things, such as government requests that can impact their privacy.
Twitter is trying to be as open and transparent as possible; however, the US government is blocking that desire. Previously, the company talked the talk, saying "we are weighing our legal options to provide more transparency to our users". Today, the social network walks the walk and sues the government, fighting for the right to be open with its users -- free from government intervention.
Going to the movies is one of my favorite things; however, the crowd can make or break an experience. A film is art and deserves respect, regardless of the nature of the content. Whether I am seeing a slapstick comedy, cartoon or serious drama, I demand silence and for children to be kept under control. Sure, I am sounding a bit cranky, but the reality is, movies are very expensive and I am not interested in overhearing phone calls and having kids run up and down the aisles.
Seeing a film aside, finding one to see can be quite the ordeal too, especially when out with a group of friends. No one can ever decide on a theater, film or showtime, so the end result if everyone on their smartphones arguing as they look for movie times. Today, Microsoft announces a new way to find movie times using Bing. While it may not settle an argument over what movie to see, it should at least help the situation.
While many people into technology spend their days languishing on the couch or vegetating in an office chair, others live active lifestyles. In fact, many people would identify themselves as being "extreme" by doing activities such as skydiving, rock climbing and parkour. However, people also work extreme jobs, like working in the sewers, construction or law enforcement.
If you are somebody doing an extreme or hardcore job, the average tablet won't cut it for you. Extreme people need extreme technology and today, Samsung announces the availability of its hardcore Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 8 inch tablet. It is a slate designed for people that work dirty jobs and need it to take a beating. However, it may meet the needs of people that have extreme hobbies too.
While I do sometimes wear a watch, it is not for telling time. No, I strictly wear a timepiece as jewelry -- a gold Michael Kors watch on my left wrist to complement the gold bracelet on my right. It's funny, even when wearing a watch, I reach into my pocket to check my phone for the time.
A smartwatch may be the thing to change this for me, as it allows you to have a computing experience without pulling out a smartphone; however, many of them are fairly limited. Today, Opera brings its Mini browser to Samsung’s Tizen-based Gear S smartwatch, enabling a full web-browsing experience on your wrist.
Logitech protection [+] power case -- protect your Galaxy S5 or iPhone 5s while boosting the battery
Whenever I am going out for a day trip, like walking through Manhattan, the inevitable usually happens -- my smartphone battery dies. This seems to be quite the common problem, as Starbucks and similar places are overrun with people desperate for electricity. Yes, I can carry a USB energy bank for charging, but it is bulky and not ideal. Quite frankly, you may get weird looks with a giant bulge in your front pocket -- it is more of a backpack accessory.
What is really cool, however, is protective cases that double as a battery extenders. Sure, they can add bulk, but that is to be expected. Today, Logitech announces the Logitech protection [+] power case, designed for the Apple iPhone 5, iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy S5.
The allure of art greatly escapes me. Don't get me wrong, I see beauty in paintings and sculptures, but I'd be just as happy with a cheap reprint as the original. Hell, I can see the Mona Lisa on my iPad while laying on my couch, why bother going to an art gallery or art auction? It seems like a waste of money. When I watch Pawn Stars, I yell at the TV when Rick buys art for thousands -- "Dude, save your money!"
Well apparently, having an understanding and appreciation of art is a sign of class, which I am told I am lacking. In fancy social situations, I picture myself like Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack -- "whoa, did somebody step on a duck?" Yes, I am more "fartsy" than artsy and I have no business being at an art auction. Today however, eBay brings the art auction to your computer by launching Live Auctions. Yes, you can bid on classy art while sitting on the toilet -- finally.
Nowadays, all major operating systems are great. Regardless of your preference, it cannot be denied that Windows, OS X, iOS, Android and many Linux distributions are amazing feats of technology. It is not uncommon for me and many others to use multiple operating systems every day. While Windows is what I use mostly for getting work done, Android is my smartphone OS of choice, and the iPad is my bedtime entertainment computer. It is not necessary to live on a desert island-like environment from only one company exclusively.
Bluetooth keyboards have made typing on devices convenient; however, there is an annoying aspect -- pairing. If you use a Bluetooth keyboard with only one device, you should have no issue. Unfortunately, if you want to share it between multiple devices and operating systems, you have to re-pair it every time you switch. This becomes a tedious affair, turning convenience into a hassle. Luckily, Logitech has released a product, that should alleviate this nuisance -- the Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480.
Believe it or not, I am not the life of the party. Sure, I may seem like a really happening guy, but the truth is, I am quite boring. At a social gathering, I don't really talk or interact, and more often than not, I find myself staring at my smartphone screen in the corner alone. However, there is one thing that gets me going -- karaoke!
Yes, me and many other folks love singing like a fool in front of both strangers and friends. However, unlike many people, I don't drink alcohol before doing it. I even love signing alone at home; if you stand outside my bathroom door, you will hear quite the riveting renditions of Man! I Feel Like a Woman! by Shania Twain or Do You Really Want to Hurt Me by Culture Club when I'm in the shower. Today, Microsoft makes my love for singing easier, by bringing full song lyrics to Bing results.
Wirelessly streaming content from a tablet or laptop to a TV is a really cool thing. I regularly use a Chromecast to watch and listen to media, but there is one problem -- it is limited in that it cannot function on its own. A device like the new Microsoft Wireless Display adapter may be a little more useful than a Chromecast, but ultimately, it cannot function on its own either.
It is for this reason that I prefer devices like Amazon's Fire TV and the Roku; they can operate without the need of a source device. Both media boxes are great, but today the latter is gaining new functionality. Roku announces that you can mirror the screen of both Windows and Android devices with Screen Mirroring Beta.