Brian Fagioli

Toshiba Portégé X30 Windows 10 business laptop [Review]

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When you want to buy a business-class laptop, there are many brands to consider, such as Dell and HP. Of course, we cannot forget the iconic "ThinkPad" line of portable workstations from Lenovo, which were made famous by IBM. There is one brand in particular that doesn't get enough attention, however -- Toshiba. Actually, its Portégé line is arguably the best such laptops for business, both large and small.

I've been testing one of the company's latest such notebooks, the X30, and I am quite impressed. Since it is a business-grade laptop, it has a pointing nub that many professionals seem to appreciate. Of course, there is a traditional trackpad too.

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deepin 15.4.1 Debian-based Linux distribution now available for download

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So many Linux distributions, so little time! Today, yet another operating system based on the kernel gets a new version. This particular distro, called "deepin" is a bit controversial, as it comes from China -- a country not known for human rights or user privacy. Since the OS is largely open source, I am not really worried, but I can respect people that are wary of spying, however.

This new version of deepin is 15.4.1. I know what you are thinking -- this is just a point release, is it really interesting? Actually, yes! There are quite a lot of new features and fixes, making this essential for existing users of the operating system. Those looking to try it for the first time -- maybe because they are dissatisfied with Windows 10 -- are in for a treat, as it has quite the unique and elegant user interface, delivering a very positive experience. Since it is based on the great Debian, you know that it will be rock solid.

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Samsung Galaxy Note8 Android smartphone will make its triumphant debut next month

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Samsung's Galaxy Note line of devices totally changed the smartphone landscape forever. Not only did the company revolutionize the "phablet" screen size, but with the addition of the wonderful S-Pen, it made handwriting entry relevant again. Even Apple faced the pressure of big-screen Android devices, finally altering its own iPhone with bigger displays.

Life was good for Samsung's Note smartphones, until it wasn't. In a sad turn of events, the most recent variant, the Note7, was recalled due to exploding batteries. While many companies would be unable to survive such a calamity, Samsung has. In fact, its brand is still incredibly strong and many consumers are clamoring for the next such smartphone. I am happy too say that, as rumored, the much-anticipated Galaxy Note8 will make its triumphant debut next month. It will be revealed in New York City at Samsung's annual "Unpacked" press event.

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Petcube Bites Treat Cam lets you reward your doggo or kitty when away from home

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Dogs are the best; certainly better than cats. I mean, litter boxes -- am I right? OK, cats are pretty cool too. Hell, all pets are wonderful -- except maybe snakes. Pets bring joy to our lives and provide unconditional love. After a hard day at work, petting your doggo or kitty can release stress and make everything feel alright.

Sadly, we can't be with our pets all the time -- we have to leave the house to earn money so we can buy them treats and toys. It can be heartbreaking to walk out the door while they look at you with sad eyes. Thankfully, Wi-Fi cameras allow us to see our furry friends even when we aren't home. Some models even let you interact with two-way audio. Today, a new product takes this a step further. The "Petcube Bites Treat Cam," as it is called, quite literally is a camera that remotely dispenses treats. While not the first such product to do so, it looks particularly elegant.

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Microsoft finally brings OneDrive 'Version History' support to all file types

Happy Man Excited Laptop

OneDrive "Version History" is a really useful feature of Microsoft's cloud storage offering. If you aren't familiar, it lets you restore older versions of files when you need to do so. Did you mess up something you are working on and need to roll back? No problem. Well, actually, that isn't entirely true. There is one big problem -- it only works with Microsoft Office files.

Starting today, that problem is no more, however. Yes, goods news, OneDrive users -- Microsoft is now offering Version History on all files -- finally. In other words, you can leverage the safeguard on any file that you desire -- even if it isn't an Office file. With that said, the Windows-maker is gradually rolling it out, so you might not have it right away -- patience, OneDrive users...

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Avast now owns CCleaner after acquiring Piriform

ShakeMoney

If you have been visiting BetaNews for a while, you surely have discovered some wonderful Windows freeware from the great FileForum. Over the years, I have downloaded countless pieces of quality software there, including Avast Antivirus and Piriform CCleaner -- two essential programs.

Today, those two programs are joined together in a financial matrimony. You see, Avast announces that it has acquired Piriform. Not only does the acquired company make CCleaner, but many other solid programs too. In fact, the rest of Piriform's library -- Recuva, Speccy, and Defraggler -- are staples of the Windows freeware community.

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Twitch and Crunchyroll to stream five-day anime marathon

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Anime is quite popular nowadays, not only with children, but adults too. Actually, some of the cartoons can have grown-up themes, making them inappropriate for kids. The Japanese animation is not just seen in TV shows and movies, but the characters are featured on merchandise and in video games too. The wildly popular Pokémon, for instance, is anime. Fans of this genre buy items such as figurines, clothing, and, sometimes, creepy body pillows too. Microsoft has even designated July to be "Anime Month" in its online store.

To celebrate the art of anime, popular Amazon-owned steaming service Twitch has partnered with American content-distributor Crunchyroll for a special viewing marathon. For five straight days, users will be able to watch anime content while chatting with others about what they are viewing. In other words, Twitch is making the act of watching anime communal, rather than private.

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Win an Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM waterproof Bluetooth speaker [Giveaway]

BetaNews_Giveaway_UE_Wonderboom

Summer is in full force, meaning many of you are hanging out with friends and family outside. Nothing beats having a good time outdoors with loved ones -- especially when listening to good music.

While playing your favorite tunes through your smartphone's speaker is passable, it doesn't make for a good party. That's why a Bluetooth speaker is a wise investment. Short on funds? Don't worry. We here at BetaNews are giving one away -- the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM (Blue/Red). Not only is the wireless speaker waterproof, but it actually floats on its own!

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Netrunner Rolling Arch/Manjaro-based KDE Plasma Linux distro gets refreshed ISO

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While GNOME is my favorite desktop environment, I don't hate KDE. Actually, I rather love Plasma when it is done right. Case in point, I absolutely adore Netrunner -- the best KDE-focused Linux-based operating system. Technically, there are two versions of the OS -- the "regular" variant based on Debian and a rolling release based on Arch/Manjaro.

Today, after more than a year, Netrunner Rolling gets a refreshed ISO. This time, we have Netrunner Rolling 2017.07. Some highlights include SMPlayer becoming the default music and video handler, while SUSE Imagewriter is replaced by the KDE Neon variant.

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Google Home and Wifi coming to Australia

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Always-listening home virtual assistants can be absolute privacy nightmares, but they are oh so convenient too. Whether you select Amazon Echo or Google Home, you have to decide if you trust the company behind the assistant that is monitoring your home. Look, having a microphone or camera in your living room or bedroom can be scary, but if you are OK with it, you are rewarded with some great functionality, such as controlling IoT devices and getting instant answers to all of your questions. I am privacy-conscious, but I love Alexa too -- such a quandary!

If you live in Australia, and wanted Google Home, you have been out of luck. This is changing, however, as the standalone assistant hardware is coming to that country. If you want to ask questions about, say, The Perth Mint or the great actor Yahoo Serious, you will be able to buy the search-giant's hardware to do so. In addition, the Google Wifi router system is coming to the land down under too.

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SparkyLinux 5.0 'Nibiru' Debian-based rolling release open source distro is here

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There are a lot of Linux-based operating systems in the wild, and I suggest trying as many as you can. Think of it like fruit -- apples are great, but you shouldn't stop after just tasting it. The world is full of different choices, such as mangoes, bananas, and oranges. The more you try, the more your knowledge expands. The same can be said of Linux -- even if you really like, say, Ubuntu, you should also test Fedora, Mageia, and more. Expand your mind!

Today, yet another distro hits a major milestone; SparkyLinux achieves version 5.0. Called "Nibiru," it is a rolling release operating system that is based on the popular Debian (using modern testing repos). It aims to be lightweight, with choices of three desktop environments that are easy on resources -- LXQt, MATE, and Xfce. In other words, Sparky can breathe new life into aging computers. If you have meager hardware, you should definitely give it a look.

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ADATA announces SE730H 3D NAND USB-C External SSD for Windows, macOS, and Linux

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USB-C is the future, and if your computer doesn't have the connector, I feel sorry for you. While it isn't a necessity at the moment, it will be eventually. Luckily, you can sometimes leverage adapters and cables to connect a Type-C device to a machine that is Type-A only.

Speaking of USB-C devices, ADATA has a new 3D NAND External SSD that uses that connector. Called "SE730H," it is the successor to the company's diminutive "SE730." Not only does the new model offer higher capacities, but the 3D TLC NAND should lend to improved longevity. While it uses 3.1 gen 2, the drive tops out at 500MB/s for both read and write. The "H" variant retains the same good looks and MIL-STD-810G/IP68 water and dust proofing as the prior model too.

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Mageia 6 Linux distribution now available for download

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If you are dissatisfied with Windows 10, there is no shortage of Linux-based operating systems to install as an alternative. In fact, some people -- including yours truly -- think there are too many distros, but I digress. While Ubuntu is always a fine choice, it is not the only game in town. If you are interested in becoming a Linux desktop user, you shouldn't be scared of exploring different options.

A fairly popular operating system with in-the-know Linux users (that doesn't get enough attention) is Mageia. After a long time, the newest version of the community-driven distro is finally here. Mageia 6 can be had today with your choice of several excellent desktop environments -- GNOME (3.24.2), KDE Plasma (5.8.7), Xfce (4.12.1), Cinnamon (3.2.8), MATE (1.18), and LXQt (0.11). It comes with a fairly modern version of the Linux kernel, 4.9.35, and LibreOffice 5.3.4.2. Since it is impossible to please everyone, there are two web browsers included by default -- Firefox 52.2.0 ESR and Chromium 57.

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Windows 10 is failing us

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While Windows 10 is arguably successful from a market share perspective, it is still failing in one big way -- the user experience. Windows 8.x was an absolute disaster, and Microsoft's latest is certainly better than that, but it is still not an enjoyable experience. Quite frankly, the people clutching to Windows 7 aren't so crazy.

The most glaring issue is the privacy aspect, or lack thereof. Look, telemetry is a good thing for the development of the operating system, but users shouldn't be forced to participate. Hell, I don't even totally mind if it is opt out rather than opt in. But if a user wants to remove their computer entirely, that should be their right.

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Google Play Music 'New Release Radio' will keep you in the know on the newest tunes

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If you are a big music fan like me, you know how hard it can be to keep up with the latest tunes. Back in the day, it seemed like there were far fewer releases of which to keep track. You bought a copy of Rolling Stone magazine or maybe followed a blog that listed upcoming releases and you were golden. Nowadays, the music comes fast and furious -- it can be a chore to track. Apple Music, my platform of choice, highlights some new releases (usually only popular artists) but not all -- it is easy for some albums and singles to slip through the cracks.

Lately I have been trying to leverage technology to keep up with new releases, especially from my favorite genre, Hip-Hop/Rap. There is a free app called "Record Bird" that alerts me to some new music -- it is OK, but it is not perfect. If you are a user of Google Play Music, however, I am happy to say that there is a new tool for discovering the latest tunes. Called "New Release Radio," it will create a specialized playlist of new music that you might like. Since this is Google, it works by tracking your listening habits, of course.

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