Brian Fagioli

Popular Indian retailer Flipkart chooses Microsoft Azure as exclusive cloud platform

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For Indian shoppers, Flipkart is a very well known online retailer. For smartphone buyers in particular, the internet shop is a great place to get quality Android devices at affordable prices.

Today, Flipkart announces something that should improve its shopping experience; the Indian retailer has selected Microsoft Azure for its cloud platform. While this won't be particularly visible to shoppers, Microsoft's platform should be a behind-the-scenes win for the overall customer experience.

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System76 refreshes Ubuntu Linux laptops with Intel Kaby Lake, NVIDIA GTX 10 series, and 4K

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If you are a Linux user, you can never go wrong with a System76 computer. Its machines come pre-loaded with Ubuntu, but they can also run any Linux distro, such as Fedora or Mint, like a champ. Operating system aside, they come with excellent specifications and superb customer service.

Now, System76 is refreshing three of its laptops with some high-end parts. The Oryx Pro, Serval WS, and Bonobo WS are now all equipped with 7th generation Intel Kaby Lake processors. In addition, all three can be had with 4K displays and NVIDIA GTX 10 series graphics too. While the Oryx Pro already had the option of 4K and GTX 10, it is the 7th gen Intel chips that are new to it. In fact, all of the company's laptops now come with Kaby Lake standard.

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Google exceeds 1 billion captioned videos on YouTube

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Around the world, there are many people with hearing impairments. This doesn't mean that they are necessarily deaf -- they may instead have severe hearing loss. Someone in my family, for instance, has to wear hearing aids. For these people, captioning on videos (text displayed on screen) can be a necessity, making it possible to enjoy a TV show or movie. Heck, it can be used by people without hearing issues too; they may need to mute their TV as to not wake family members.

Nowadays, captioning extends to internet videos too, including the very popular YouTube. In fact, today, Google announces that it has exceeded 1 billion captioned videos! While this is certainly an amazing accomplishment, the service's automatic speech recognition can sometimes be very wrong -- even comically so.

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Google Home gets shop-by-voice

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Voice assistants are all the rage nowadays, with hardware like Amazon Echo becoming very popular in homes. While some people are fearful of such devices because they are always listening for commands, some consumers are willing to trade their privacy for convenience. In other words, since consumers aren't required to buy such a device, they are empowered to make that decision with their wallets.

One alternative to Amazon's solution is Google Home. The search-giant's device is essentially the same concept as Echo -- an always-listening assistant ready to serve you. Today, Google announces that its assistant-focused device is gaining a really great new feature -- shopping. Consumers can leverage their voices to buy goods -- no need to go to their laptop or smartphone.

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ASUS ROG unveils Strix Impact wired gaming mouse with RGB lighting and DPI button

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When it comes to gaming mice, there are often two schools of thought for design. Some manufacturers go overboard, thinking consumers want flashy-looking mice with tons of features. Other makers go a more conservative route, where the user wants fewer distractions. Neither is wrong -- consumers have different tastes. There is also the wired vs. wireless debate, with many gamers preferring the former for reduced lag and no need for battery charging.

Today, ASUS ROG (Republic of Gamers) unveils an all-new wired mouse with a more conservative design approach. Called "Strix Impact," the wired gaming mouse is certainly attractive, but it does not look not too funky or childish. The RGB lighting allows the owner to customize the appearance, while a dedicated button lets them change the DPI on the fly. The ambidextrous-friendly mouse is also built to last, with high-quality Omron button switches, which ASUS ROG claims will last for over 50 million clicks!

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Google Search gets fun facts

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This may surprise you (or not), but I am a total bore at parties. I usually don't speak much, and if I do, it is surely something that isn't interesting. Why is this? Well, I usually don't have anything to say, nor do I really care for banter. This is probably why I rarely get invited to parties!

Today, Google launches a new way for party-poopers like me to seem more interesting than they actually are. How? By sharing fun facts on various topics on the search engine. These interesting and enjoyable facts can be found when searching, and then used in conversation later. For example, Google shares that strawberries aren't actually berries -- I didn't know that, but now I do!

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Win an Xbox One S Halo Wars 2 Ultimate Edition Bundle from Microsoft!

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Video gamers are very spoiled nowadays, as there are so many great games and consoles to buy. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are great, for example, and Nintendo will be launching a new console called Switch on March 3. Let's not forget PC gamers -- they have lots of powerful hardware and quality games available too.

One game that has many gamers excited is Halo Wars 2. It will be launching very soon, on February 21. If you ordered the "Ultimate" edition, however, you get to play it a few days earlier on the 17th. Don't have an Xbox One? Don't panic. To celebrate the release of Halo Wars 2, Microsoft is giving away an Xbox One S Halo Wars 2 Ultimate Edition Bundle! In addition, the Windows-maker will be giving away other cool prizes too.

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Facebook Video gets big changes, but they aren't all good

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While YouTube is probably the biggest destination for online video, more and more people are sharing videos on Facebook nowadays too. In fact, with the introduction of Facebook Live, many users have also streamed themselves live on the social network. For example, "Chewbacca Mom" went viral with her Facebook video last year.

Today, Facebook announces that it is enhancing the video-watching experience on its platform, thanks to several new features. The social network is improving the way vertical videos look on mobile, but that is no excuse to shoot them this way, folks -- landscape is still the best way to record! Facebook is even enabling a special picture-in-picture mode so you can simultaneously watch a video while scrolling through your feed. Amazingly, that is not all.

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Linux Foundation is offering training and certification discounts for Valentine's Day

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Happy Valentine's Day, dear BetaNews readers! Please know that I love you all very much. On this day of romance, restaurants will be crowded with couples celebrating the holiday. If you have a significant other, I hope you have already purchased a gift or at least a greeting card by now. If not, you might be fighting over slim-pickings at the store this evening!

If you haven't yet picked up a gift, and that someone special is a bit of a computer nerd, I have some good news. The Linux Foundation is offering special training and certification discounts for Valentine's Day. Chocolate and flowers are fleeting -- education can last a lifetime. Using this special discount code, you can surprise your lover with the gift of Linux -- how cool is that?

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GEAR4 launches rugged 'Buckingham' flip case for Apple iPad

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While tablets may not be as popular nowadays compared to a few years ago, they are still totally relevant devices. Even as large-screen smartphones gain in popularity, some consumers still enjoy owning a tablet too. For instance, I own an iPhone 6s Plus, but I absolutely adore my iPad mini 4; my Apple tablet gets used every day.

If you are the proud owner of an Apple iPad, and you want to protect it, there are countless cases available. Today, GEAR4 announces yet another, and it hopes it will grab some attention in the crowded market. The rugged "Buckingham" flip case is available for iPad mini 4, Air 2, Pro 9.7, and Pro 12.9.

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Razer Blade 14-inch Windows 10 gaming laptop gets Kaby Lake, GTX 1060, and 4K

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While Windows 10 has its fair share of vocal detractors, the operating system is actually very good. In fact, some people say it is the best version of Microsoft's desktop operating system ever -- particularly for gaming. Consumers that want a Windows 10 computer are very lucky nowadays, as there are many quality machines from which to choose.

One such quality laptop is the Razer Blade. The 14-inch Windows 10 laptop is quite popular with gamers, as it is both svelte and powerful. Today, Razer announces that it is refreshing the notebook with new Intel Kaby Lake processors and an optional 4K display.

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Verizon Unlimited is back (and better than ever)

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Verizon Wireless is the best cellular carrier in the USA. While it is expensive comparatively, you get what you pay for. In my experience, the carrier offers the best coverage and speeds. Not to mention, it has excellent customer service. Unfortunately, Verizon got rid of unlimited data some years back, getting many customers to switch to tiered plans. Some folks, such as yours truly, have been grandfathered into the older unlimited data plan, fearful that one day it would be taken away.

Well folks, today, Verizon announces that not only will it not be removing the grandfathered unlimited plans, it is introducing an even better one. Starting tomorrow, users can have unlimited calling, texting, and data for a mere $80 per month. Families with four lines pay just $45 per month per line. Unlike the older unlimited plan, users can even use tethering too!

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BurnAware 10 now available as free download

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Optical media is in a weird place right now. Thanks to cloud storage and flash drives, fewer folks are backing up data to CD, DVD, and Blu-ray. Because of streaming media -- from services like Netflix and Hulu -- fewer consumers are buying movies and music on optical media. Does this mean that optical media is totally dead? Hardly.

As burning/mastering products such as Nero and Ashampoo become more and more bloated, however, it is getting harder for PC users to find a simple and rewarding solution. BurnAware is one such program that remains lightweight while offering a lot of useful functionality. The software recently hit version 10, and I have been trying the "Pro" version on my Windows 10 machine with great success.

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Microsoft Build 2017 developer conference tickets available on Valentine's Day

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This Valentine's Day, you may have special plans, such as dinner and a movie with your significant other. If you are particularly romantic, you probably have jewelry, candy, or flowers planned too. If you are single, however, you may be planning to stay inside alone -- there is no shame in that, folks.

In 2017, there is something very exciting happening on February 14th -- tickets for Build will go on sale. If you aren't familiar, this is Microsoft's annual developer conference. Will you be buying tickets at noon ET this Valentine's Day?

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Apple fails to remove 'deleted' Safari web browser histories from iCloud

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Apple is a company that puts a big focus on security and privacy. Unlike Google, the iPhone-maker does not make the majority of its money from advertising and harvesting user data. Heck, Tim Cook and company even famously fought a government request to help it break into an iPhone. Ultimately, if you value your privacy, Apple products can arguably be trusted a bit more than its competitors.

With all of that said, today, a bit of a failure was discovered on Apple's part regarding user privacy. You see, when an Apple user deleted their web browser history, they assumed it was gone forever -- and rightfully so. While the data no longer appeared on Apple devices, it has been discovered by ElcomSoft that it persisted on iCloud. To make matters worse, this data is easily recoverable.

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