Brian Fagioli

OWC releases USB-C Travel Dock for MacBook and Windows 10 laptops

OWC USB-C Travel Dock Photo - in backpack

I recently reviewed the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock for Apple MacBook Pro and came away very impressed. This device essentially converts your Apple laptop into a desktop with great results. The problem? It needs to be plugged into a wall for power, and it is not intended to be taken on the go.

Today, OWC announces a product that is meant to be taken with you in your laptop bag. Called "USB-C Travel Dock," it features many of the ports you may need, such as HDMI, USB Type-A, and an SD card reader. It even has a USB-C port for power pass-through, so if you only have one such port, you can charge your laptop while using it too. Best of all, it is quite affordable.

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Bose releases QC35 II noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones with dedicated Google Assistant button


Virtual assistants are changing the way people organize their lives. With the help of Google Assistant, Alexa, Cortana, or Siri, you can easily access information in a more natural way. Using your voice, you can set reminders, alarms, and more. It really is like having a human assistant by your side helping you manage your life.

Today, Google and Bose announce a new set of headphones that take the virtual assistant out of your phone and put it in your ears. You see, the Bose QC35 II wireless Bluetooth headphones have a dedicated Google Assistant button, meaning you can summon it by pressing on the ear cup -- your phone can remain in your pocket. The headphones are compatible with both Android and iPhone.

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Microsoft releases Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Build 16294 to the Fast ring

Windows-10 key

With the Windows 10 Fall Creators update coming next month, Microsoft is obviously working very hard to get the operating system in a good state. There have been plenty of Insiders builds, which at this point, are mostly focusing on bug fixes and stability.

Today, Microsoft pushes out Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Build 16294 to the Fast ring. While the change log lists fixes, it strangely does not list any known issues. Surface Pro 3 owners should be happy, as this build finally fixes the dreaded non-boot issue.

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Google essentially buys human beings in $1.1 billion HTC agreement


There have been rumors for a while now that Google was going to buy the struggling HTC. This seemed like a wonderful idea, as HTC makes great smartphones, which is good for the overall health of the Android market.

Today, a deal finally happens, but Google didn't buy HTC outright. Strangely, as the deal is laid out, the search giant has seemingly bought HTC employees. Yes, for $1.1 billion, the search giant has sort of purchased human beings -- plus it gets access to some intellectual property. HTC gets a much-needed big influx of cash.

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Microsoft helps families of earthquake victims with free Skype calls to Mexico


The horrible natural disasters keep coming, folks. Regardless of what is causing them, one thing is certain -- the victims need help. Thankfully, people and organizations seemingly have deep pockets this year when it comes to helping their fellow man. Heck, some companies have also offered complimentary products and services too.

One of the most recent tragedies is the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that rocked Mexico. If you haven't seen any footage, please know that it is bad. Like, really bad. Buildings have collapsed on people, including children, and the death toll is expected to climb very high. If you have any loved ones in the affected areas of Mexico, and you need to reach them to be sure they are safe, Microsoft has your back. It has enabled free calls using its Skype service.

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Android One Moto X4 smartphone coming to Google's Project Fi cellular service


Google's Project Fi is a really neat way to get affordable cellular service for your smartphone. It offers exceptional coverage by intelligently switching among the networks of Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular. Unfortunately, the service is limited to very few Android smartphones -- if you have an iPhone, for instance, you are totally out of luck. To make matters worse, as of late, the only in-stock compatible phones are Google's own Pixel devices -- they are fairly expensive, starting at $649.

Today, the search-giant finally introduces a new affordable offering for Project Fi -- the Android One Moto X4 smartphone by Lenovo. It runs pure Android and should get timely OS upgrades. Best of all, it costs significantly less than the Pixel or Pixel XL.

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AOC launches affordable AGON AG322QCX curved QHD gaming display with AMD FreeSync


While the benefits of a curved television screen are negligible (if not totally non-existent), having a curve on a computer monitor is seriously amazing. Since you sit closer to it, it creates a more immersive experience -- especially when gaming. Unfortunately, such displays can be rather pricey, making them impossible to achieve for many.

Thankfully, prices for quality curved monitors are dropping, and today, budget-friendly manufacturer, AOC, launches a very affordable such model. The AG322QCX, as it is called, is part of the company's "AGON" line of gaming displays. This 32-inch monitor features a 2560x1440 QHD resolution. Gamers will appreciate the integrated headset holder. Despite its low price tag, it even supports AMD FreeSync technology.

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GNOME partners with Purism on Librem 5 Linux-based privacy-focused smartphone


The Librem 5 smartphone by Purism has a long and difficult road ahead of it. Competing against the likes of Apple and Google on the mobile market has proven to be a death sentence for many platforms -- including Microsoft with its failed Windows 10 Mobile. With that said, I am rooting for Purism and its Pure OS, as the world would benefit from a device that uses Linux and focuses on both privacy and security. Such an alternative to iPhone and Android would be a breath of fresh air.

Luckily, Purism has found itself a new partner on this project -- one of the most important organizations in the Linux community -- The GNOME Foundation. Yes, the maker of the absolute best desktop environment is offering to assist with the Librem 5 -- if it is successfully crowdfunded, that is. To date, it is only about 33-percent funded, although there is still more than a month to go.

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StarTech releases a trio of multi-monitor USB-C laptop docking stations


USB-C devices are coming thick and fast lately -- it feels like it is raining dongles and docks! While Apple's MacBook computers aren't the only devices with such ports, they certainly accelerated the popularity. Of course, there are both Windows and Linux machines with USB-C too.

StarTech manufactures many USB-C devices, and now it is releasing three new docking stations. Why three? Well, they offer different features and come in at different price points. Heck, one model even has an integrated 2.5-inch drive bay for an HDD or SSD! All three docking stations can charge/power a laptop too, with a max output of 60W.

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Shutterstock Adobe Creative Cloud plugin gets video support, comes to Premiere Pro, Illustrator, and InDesign


When you need to use an image or video for a website, advertising campaign, or other project, you can't simply grab something from the web and use it. Well, you can, but that isn't a smart idea. Why? Someone else could own the image or video and bring legal action against you. Instead, you should use a reputable service where you can obtain properly licensed media.

We here at BetaNews use a few such services, but Shutterstock is obviously one of our favorites -- we probably use it more than any other. The company even offers a cool plugin for Adobe Photoshop that can make things even easier. Today, Shutterstock enhances that plugin with video support, while also bringing it to other Adobe Creative Cloud programs -- Premiere Pro, Illustrator, and InDesign.

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Google Code-in 2017 lets students win prizes while learning about open source

open source laptop

Open source is changing the world, and it is important that children get educated on the subject as early as possible. It's a competitive workforce out there, and students need to be prepared. Of course, learning about open source doesn't have to be a chore -- gaining knowledge can sometimes be fun too.

Google does a lot for the open source community -- far more than just contributing code. Actually, the search giant hosts two very important education-focused open source events -- "Google Code-in" for younger teen students and "Google Summer of Code" for University-level learners. Today, the company announces the 8th annual edition of the former -- Google Code-in 2017. Not only can these teens gain experience by working on an open source project, but they can also win prizes!

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Linux Mint 18.3 Ubuntu-based operating system is named 'Sylvia'


Ubuntu 17.10 is almost here, and many Linux users are excited. Canonical's operating system is already excellent, but it will soon be even better thanks to a new default desktop environment -- GNOME. What this means for the Ubuntu-based Linux Mint's usage remains to be seen. You see, many people choose Mint because they do not like the Unity DE. Now that Ubuntu has ditched Unity, the reasons to opt for a distro based on Ubuntu rather than using "The Real McCoy" are dwindling.

But OK, if you are still a diehard Linux Mint user for some reason, I have some interesting news. Version 18.3 is coming soon, and we now know the official code name. As is typical with the Mint operating system, a woman's name is being used. This time, "Sylvia" has been selected. Besides the name, we know some other interesting tidbits -- the distro will be getting a secondary default backup tool (Timeshift), and Xreader is being significantly improved.

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Warning: If you are using this Kodi repository, you could be in danger


Kodi is quite possibly the best media center software of all time. If you are looking to watch videos or listen to music, the open source solution provides an excellent overall experience. Thanks to its support for "addons," it has the potential to become better all the time. You see, developers can easily add new functionality by writing an addon for the platform. And yes, some addons can be used for piracy, but not all of them are. These addons, such as Exodus and Covenant, are normally added using a repository, which hosts them.

Unfortunately, there can apparently be security issues with repositories when they shut down. For example, when the metalkettle repo ended, the developer deleted its entry on GitHub. This in itself is not a cause for concern, but unfortunately, GitHub's allowance of project names to be recycled is. You see, someone re-registered the metalkettle name, making it possible for nefarious people to potentially serve up malware to Kodi users.

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Satechi releases elegant Universal Vertical Aluminum Laptop Stand


If you are like me, your laptop doubles as a desktop. With notebooks being so powerful nowadays, it is often wasteful to have a dedicated desktop too. Yeah, if you are a gamer or have some hardcore video editing needs, for instance, a tower may serve you well. For everyone else, however, a laptop connected to a monitor is probably more than enough.

With a quality docking station or dock, such as the excellent OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock for Apple MacBook Pro, a single cable can charge your laptop and connect all of your accessories. Unfortunately, with this type of a solution, there is nowhere to put the laptop. In other words, the laptop just sits on the desk, taking up room, while also being vulnerable to spills. A stand can solve these issues, and today, Satechi unveils an all-new absolutely beautiful vertical variant.

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Google Chrome will finally let you fight back against those annoying autoplay videos


Auto-playing videos on websites. Is there anything worse? Sigh. They have caused me a lot of grief over the years. For instance, I am sitting alone quietly browsing the web at night, when all of a sudden, a loud autoplay video starts, awakening the other people in my home. Quite frankly, once I learn that a website uses this type of media, I try to avoid the site going forward -- if possible.

Today, Google announces that it will be empowering Chrome users to fight back against these annoying videos. Starting with version 63 of the web browser, users will be given the option to permanently mute audio on specific websites. Taking it a step further, version 64 will automatically block all autoplay videos with sound by default, unless the user specifically whitelists that site.

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