Brian Fagioli

Acer unveils Chromebook 11 C732, Chromebook Spin 11, and Chromebox CXI3

When it comes to Chromebooks, Acer is one of the premier manufacturers. From the early days of Google's desktop OS, Acer has produced quality computers running the Linux-based Chrome OS. Best of all, Acer's Chromebooks and Chromeboxes are often quite affordable. This makes sense, since the company is largely a value-focused manufacturer. Quite frankly, Acer and Chrome OS are a match made in heaven.

Hot on the heels of announcing its all-new Chromebook 11, the company today unveils three new Chrome OS computers -- Chromebook 11 C732, Chromebook Spin 11, and Chromebox CXI3. While the Chromebooks will likely get much of the attention, I am quite smitten with the Chromebox. This diminutive desktop is absolutely gorgeous, and it is chock-full of useful ports. The Chromebook 11 C732 is also quite intriguing, thanks to its optional LTE connectivity!

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illy Y5 DRS Espresso and Coffee System has integrated Amazon Dash technology

Coffee... is life. For me, and countless other people, the drink is responsible for daily motivation. Without a cup or two (or five) of the caffeinated beverage, I’d probably be asleep at my desk all the time.

If you live alone or simply don’t want to deal with brewing entire pots of coffee, single-serve pods have proven to be a godsend (not so great for the environment, though). You can quickly make a cup without stress. A new coffee system is looking to make coffee pods even easier. The "illy Y5 DRS Espresso and Coffee System," as it is called, can connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth for more intuitive controls. Even cooler, it can leverage Amazon Dash technology for automatic coffee pod reordering. How clever!

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KaOS 2018.01 KDE-focused Linux distro now available with Spectre and Meltdown fixes

It can be difficult to find a quality Linux distribution that meets your needs. This is partly because there are just too many operating systems from which to choose. My suggestion is to first find a desktop environment that you prefer, and then narrow down your distro search to one that focuses on that DE. For instance, if you like KDE, both Kubuntu and Netrunner are solid choices.

With all of that said, there is another KDE-focused Linux distro that I highly recommend. Called "KaOS," it is a rolling release, meaning you can always be confident that your computer is running modern packages. Today, KaOS gets its first updated ISO for 2018, and you should definitely use it to upgrade your install media. Why? Because version 2018.01 has fixes for Spectre and Meltdown thanks to Linux kernel 4.14.14 with both AMD and Intel ucode.

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Wine 3.0 is here to run Windows software on your Linux box

When people make the switch from Windows to Linux, they often experiment with Wine. If you aren’t familiar, it is a compatibility layer that can sometimes get Windows software to run on Linux and BSD. I say "sometimes" because it isn’t a flawless experience. In fact, it can be quite frustrating to use. I suggest using native Linux software as an alternative, but understandably, that isn’t always possible.

If you depend on Wine, or want to start trying it out, I am happy to say that version 3.0 is finally available. It is quite the significant update too, as it features over 6,000 changes!

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Microsoft releases Windows 10 Preview Build 17074.1002 with AMD boot fix related to Spectre and Meltdown

A week ago, Microsoft released a new Preview Build of Windows 10 -- 17074. It was chock-full of new features and fixes, making it a wise upgrade for anyone in the Insiders program.

Sadly, it was discovered that Build 17074 had a huge bug -- it made some AMD systems unbootable. Yikes! Apparently, this was related to fixes for Spectre and Meltdown. True, this is pre-release software, so bugs should be expected, but losing the ability to boot can really ruin a user's day. Today, that bug is fixed, as Microsoft pushes out Build 17074.1002. It also fixes an issue where some computers would hang.

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Slack now available as a Snap for Linux

At the end of last year, the Linux desktop scored a huge win when Spotify became available as a Snap. If you aren't familiar with Snaps, please know that they are essentially software packages designed to run as a container on any Linux distro. Not only does it make installing software packages easier for users, but it makes things simpler for developers too. Ultimately, Snaps have the potential to solve the big fragmentation problem in the Linux desktop community.

Today, yet another wildly popular program gets the Snap treatment, and quite frankly, it is arguably more significant than Spotify. What is it? Slack! Yes, Canonical announces that the ubiquitous communication app can be installed as a Snap. True, Slack was already available on the Linux desktop, but this makes installing it and keeping it updated much easier.

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Samsung begins GDDR6 mass production

Graphics cards are huge business nowadays, and not just for gaming. Actually, many consumers are buying these cards for the mining of cryptocurrency. Unfortunately, this is driving up the cost of GPUs, negatively impacting gamers that are shopping for a new card.

Right now, graphics cards largely utilize the super-fast GDDR5 for memory, but there is something better on the horizon -- GDDR6. Today, Samsung announces that it has begun mass producing the memory chips. If you are a gamer, you should be extremely excited about this!

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Shutterstock unveils 2018 Creative Trends Report -- cryptocurrency, fantasy, and more

Shutterstock is an excellent website to obtain high-quality media -- images, music, and videos. Not only is it easy to use, but it has a large and diverse selection too. That is probably why so many companies use the service (including us). With so many people searching Shutterstock for media, the company has the opportunity to analyze that search data to predict trends. This is smart to do, as unused data is arguably worthless data.

Today, Shutterstock unveils its Creative Trends Report for 2018, and the data is quite interesting. If you aren't familiar, it is a report that highlights certain media trends based on search data. Even though it focuses on media, the subject matter can reveal larger overall worldwide trends too. As an example, one of the big media search trends is cryptocurrency -- this should come as no surprise, as Bitcoin and others have seen huge gains (and losses) lately. As you can see, people will search for media that represents things that are happening in the world.

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Fedora 28 wallpaper contest now open -- submit your image to the Linux distro!

One of the first things I do after installing a new Linux distribution is set a different wallpaper. Why? Desktop pictures really inspire me -- my mood can be positively altered by a beautiful image. The default wallpaper is often boring. For the most part, I prefer images of nature with bright colors. After all, if I am stuck indoors working on my computer, a wallpaper of the beach, mountains, or a colorful bird, for instance, can transport me to the outdoors -- in my mind.

Sadly, not every distro has beautiful high-quality images. Fedora, however, often does -- thanks to its "supplemental" wallpapers. What is particularly cool  about that operating system, is that it regularly accepts wallpaper submissions from the community as part of a contest. In other words, anybody can potentially contribute to a new version of the distro by simply uploading a photo, drawing, or other picture. Fedora 28 is the upcoming version of the OS, and the developers are now calling for wallpaper submissions for it. Will you submit an entry to the contest?

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Raspberry Pi Zero WH has pre-soldered header

In a surprising announcement, a new Raspberry Pi model appears! With little fanfare, the "Raspberry Pi Zero WH," as it is called, becomes an official variant of the diminutive Zero W.

While it is technically not entirely new, it is still an exciting new model nonetheless. You see, the "H" seems to indicate "header" as this is a Raspberry Pi Zero W with a GPIO header soldered on. If you have a need for a Zero W with these pins, but don't have soldering skills (or don't have the time to do it yourself), this could be the ideal Pi for you.

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The PC market could be on the road to recovery

The PC market has been in bad shape for several years. While the why is up for debate, it certainly wasn't helped by two disappointing versions of Windows in a row -- 8.x and 10. Not to mention, hardware lasts much longer these days, as performance has long surpassed the needs of many consumers -- the concept of needing to upgrade a PC every two or three years is dead. Hell, many consumers can get by with just their smartphones and tablets -- a traditional PC just isn't as necessary as it once was.

Shockingly, according to IDC, the PC market could finally be on the road to recovery. While the market is still very unhealthy overall, there is one stat that signals something special could be on the horizon. You see, for the first time in six years, the worldwide PC market saw a Q4 increase year over year. In other words, Q4 2017 outperformed Q4 2016. This is particularly significant, as both Christmas and the holiday shopping season are in these months.

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The Linux Foundation launches 'Administering Linux on Azure' training course

Linux is very much mainstream nowadays. What was once viewed as a hobby and niche project, is transforming the world. Many of the world's servers are running Linux-based operating systems. Hell, the most popular mobile operating system on the planet, Android, is Linux-based. Even closed-source champion Microsoft is embracing Linux by integrating it into Windows 10 and offering it on its Azure platform.

Please know, Linux will only get more popular; gaining more knowledge about it is vital for your career in information technology. If you want to further your education, The Linux Foundation has your back. You see, the organization is launching a new training course called "Administering Linux on Azure."

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Patriot unveils blazing fast 1TB 'EVLVR' Thunderbolt 3 Portable SSD

I love my MacBook Pro for many reasons, but one in particular is the Thunderbolt 3 ports. If you aren't familiar, Thunderbolt 3 is insanely fast at 40Gbps, but also, it is very versatile. It can transmit video and data, for instance, but also, it is compatible with USB-C devices too. By connecting a single Thunderbolt 3 cable to my Mac, I can simultaneously charge it and transform it into a desktop thanks to a docking station. Seriously, folks, TB3 is amazing.

The company Patriot is leveraging Thunderbolt 3 for data storage, and its new EVLVR (pronounced "evolver") Portable SSD is blazing fast as a result. Not only is it very speedy, but it is physically small too -- a big win for portability. Despite being diminutive, it has big capacity -- up to 1TB of storage. Wow!

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Satechi launches USB Type-C 75W Multiport Travel Charger

Nowadays, consumers have multiple devices that need to be charged -- smartphones, tablets, wearables, and more. This can be a pain point, as it can be hard to find multiple outlets. To make matters worse, if your family members and/or friends also need to charge their devices at the same time, it can lead to fighting and disappointment. Having this issue while traveling is even worse -- getting an open outlet at the airport, for instance, can be a hardship.

Today, Satechi launches a solution for these charging woes. Its new multiport charger offers 75 total watts to keep your devices full of juice. It offers both USB-A (x3) and USB-C (x1), plus it is compatible with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0. While this product is intended for travel, it can, of course, be used at home too.

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Tails 3.4 privacy-focused Linux distro now available with Meltdown and Spectre fixes

With everything going on in the world these days, it can feel like you are naked when using your computer. If you previously felt safe and secure, these last several years have probably eroded all of your confidence. Between Edward Snowden's revelations and the many vulnerabilities constantly hitting the news, it is tempting to just live in the woods without electricity.

Before you sell your house, buy a tent, and become a nomad, you should consider a Linux distribution that helps you fight back against evil governments, nefarious hackers, and other bad people. Called "Tails," this Linux-based operating system is designed to be run from a live environment, such as on a DVD or flash drive, so you can hide your tracks and enjoy your God-given right to privacy. Today, version 3.4 becomes available and if you are already a Tails user, you should upgrade immediately. Why? Because it includes kernel 4.14.12 which offers fixes for Meltdown and Spectre (partially).

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