Brian Fagioli

Microsoft protecting Mexican people with new cybersecurity center

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With all of the talk about border walls and immigration in the news lately, something very important sometimes gets forgotten in the discussion -- Mexicans are people. In other words, these folks are just as important as anyone else; they are not statistics. The same goes for everyone regardless of skin color, religion, region, or country. All humans matter.

Microsoft is a company that focuses on all people globally -- its products and initiatives are improving lives all over the world. Today, the Windows-maker announces it will better protect Mexicans and other Latin American people regarding information security. How? Microsoft has opened a new cybersecurity center in Mexico. The company is also working with Mexico's Federal Police to better fight cybercrime.

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Microsoft's Bing says Denny Hamlin will win Daytona 500 -- do you agree, Nascar fans?

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This weekend is the Daytona 500. I won't be watching. While I absolutely love cars, Nascar has never been my thing. Race cars going in a circle? Meh. Daytona USA for Sega Saturn is one of my favorite games of all time, however, but I digress.

Even though Nascar isn't for everyone, it is still very popular with many. Not only do people like to watch the event as spectators, but some folks like to gamble on it too. If you are planning to put some money on the race, Microsoft may have some useful information for you. The company's Bing Predicts division is saying Denny Hamlin will win the race. Actually, the Windows-maker has predicted the top 5 positions.

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Ubuntu Core Linux comes to i.MX6-powered IoT-friendly TS-4900 Computer On Module

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One of the best things about the Linux kernel (and associated operating systems) is the ability to work on various hardware types, including ARM. Microsoft's operating systems, by comparison, are far more narrow. True, there is the lightweight Windows 10 IoT for ARM boards, but it is hardly a factor nowadays.

Today, Ubuntu Core comes to the i.MX6-based and ARM-powered TS-4900 Computer on Module. While Android and other Linux options were already available for the IoT-friendly CoM, Ubuntu Core is still a major win. Canonical's revolutionary snap packages should work beautifully here.

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IOGEAR unveils Portable USB-C Dual DisplayPort Monitor Dock

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Ever since I bought my MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, I have been obsessed with USB-C. Since it is the only connection type Apple's laptop offers, its kind of hard not to be. Still, I find it absolutely amazing that a single connection type can be so versatile. I can use it to charge the computer, output video, connect storage, and more.

There are no shortages of USB-C dongles and accessories on the market, and today, IOGEAR adds another. The accessory-maker announces the Portable USB-C Dual DisplayPort Monitor Dock, and it is rather clever. It features dual DisplayPort connections, plus a USB Type-A port for legacy devices. It is even designed in such a way as to hold the cable when not in use.

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Watch out, Intel! AMD Ryzen 7 desktop processors are almost here

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Whenever I build a computer, I often look to AMD processors first. It is partly from tradition -- I have long preferred the company's processors, but that is hardly a reason to buy something. Actually, I turn to AMD because its chips are both powerful and affordable. For gaming in particular, there is a lot of value to be had from the company's CPUs.

For a while now, Intel has been selling better-performing chips than AMD's, albeit often more expensive. Many AMD fans, such as myself, have long been waiting for more competitive offerings. Well, folks, the time has finally come. Today, AMD announces the release date and pricing for the Ryzen 7 desktop processors. Intel should look out, as these chips, in some situations, can outperform its Core i7 processors! More importantly, AMD can do it at a more competitive price.

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To celebrate the Oscars, YouTube ranks 'Best Picture' nominated movie trailers by views

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The Oscars are this Sunday, and I have seen a grand total of zero of the films nominated for Best Picture. Isn't that a shame? This is because of a few factors -- the theater is too expensive nowadays, and I simply haven't had the time. Not to mention, none of this year's nominated films particularly interest me. Oh well.

To celebrate the much-anticipated award show, the folks over at Google have created a leaderboard for the nine Oscar "Best Picture" nominated movie trailers. The search giant explains that the rankings are comprised of views "including both studio channels and popular aggregators." The ranking is not at all surprising, with the overall most-watched film trailer getting a lot of hype lately.

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Google releases open source file sharing project 'Upspin' on GitHub

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Believe it or not, in 2017, file-sharing between individuals is not a particularly easy affair. Quite frankly, I had a better experience more than a decade ago sending things to friends and family using AOL Instant Messenger. Nowadays, everything is so fragmented, that it can be hard to share.

Today, Google unveils yet another way to share files. Called "Upspin," the open source project aims to make sharing easier for home users. With that said, the project does not seem particularly easy to set up or maintain. For example, it uses Unix-like directories and email addresses for permissions. While it may make sense to Google engineers, I am dubious that it will ever be widely used.

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Mad Catz launches Tritton ARK 100 USB wired 7.1 PC gaming headset

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Are you a PC gamer? If yes, you should really get yourself a gaming headset. When playing multiplayer games online, a big part of the experience is trash-talking opponents. Not to mention, for those of you that live with other people, a headset can prevent arguments over late-night gaming marathons that keep folks awake. It is common courtesy to game with a headset or headphones.

Back in October of 2016, Mad Catz launched the Tritton ARK 100 stereo gaming headset for consoles like PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Today, the company begins shipping the PC variant to retailers. This model can connect using USB for a special 7.1 surround mode. If you prefer to use 3.5mm, do not worry --  it has that connectivity too, but only for stereo.

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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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