Backing up data is an essential part of computing responsibility. Just like regularly changing your car's oil, you should regularly back up your computer's files. The sad reality is, many people don't think about their important files until they are lost forever. How sad would it be if you lost your entire music library, your work projects, or worst of all, your family photos?
Nowadays, the cloud makes data backup easy, but you should not trust that solution exclusively. What if there is a situation where you don't have internet access, or even worse, the cloud provider goes out of business? You should also backup your files locally -- redundancy is key. Depending on how much data you have, a portable solid state drive often makes a lot of sense, as they offer very fast speeds and no moving parts. Not only does an external drive allow you to move data between multiple computers, but you can easily lock it in a safe or fireproof box if needed.
We are in the middle of a pandemic, and lots of us are working from home these days. It is because of technological advances, such as the computer and internet, that so many can work remotely. Let us not forget the mighty webcam which allows our coworkers, friends, and family members to video chat with us. Hell, even doctors are seeing patients using video chat nowadays.
You know who else loves webcams? Hackers! Yes, it is possible for nefarious people to hack into your computer and access your webcam. Any hardware connected to the net can be hacked. And no, you cannot trust an activity light -- hackers can turn them off too. Look, no one wants to be watched by a stranger -- especially when naked or in some other embarrassing situation. Thankfully, something as simple as placing a piece of tape or a privacy shutter (such as this) over the webcam can thwart the bad guys in this regard (the microphone is another story). Unfortunately for those that own Apple laptops, the company is warning users against covering their webcam.
A little over a year ago, we told you about Logitech's Harmony Express -- a really cool remote control that utilized the power of Alexa. At the time, it looked like a revolutionary product, but apparently, it has not been popular with consumers. You see, Logitech has decided to kill the remote. No, I don't mean it is just being discontinued -- it will stop functioning entirely later this year! Yep, on September 30, it will become essentially worthless. Logitech says this is because "our expectations were not met for this kind of Harmony remote."
Yikes! That sounds like catastrophic news for the people that spent $250 on the Harmony Express -- they will soon be stuck with a pricey paperweight, right? Actually, no. Logitech -- being a classy company -- is making it right. Believe it or not, owners of the remote will be offered a full refund regardless of when they bought it (as long as they have proof of the purchase). Crazy, right? Even better, rather than opt for money, consumers can instead choose to swap their Harmony Express for a Harmony Elite, which typically sells for more than $300!
Thunderbolt 3 has been a game-changer for many consumers, allowing them to connect very powerful docking stations and fast external SSDs to their laptops. While the third-gen of Thunderbolt has been more popular than previous generations, it still hasn't gained huge adoption by computer makers. Sure, Apple and some Windows laptop manufacturers have embraced it, but good ol' USB-A still reigns supreme. It doesn't help that most AMD-powered computers don't have TB3. This will likely change when Thunderbolt 3 is folded into the upcoming USB 4.0 standard.
Intel isn't satisfied to rest on its laurels, however, as it is continuing to push boundaries. Technology must be moved forward, and today, Intel officially announces Thunderbolt 4! And yes, it uses the same USB-C connector. If you are concerned about all of your existing Thunderbolt 3 devices becoming obsolete -- don't be. Intel promises all TB3 and USB-C devices will be compatible with TB4. Best of all, TB4 will add protections to help prevent the kind of vulnerabilities found in TB3.
There are many music streaming services these days, such as Spotify, Tidal, and YouTube Music. My favorite, however, is Apple Music. Why? Well, besides the excellent mobile interface, it has a very large library of music. Not to mention, the human-curated playlists are second to none. Plus, Apple Music finally has a web player now -- a much desired feature.
Another cool aspect of Apple Music is time-synced lyrics. When you are listening to some songs (not all), you can have the lyrics display on your device's screen -- timed to the music. It works great, and it is even an option on Apple TV, enabling you to have a karaoke-like sing-along with friends and family. Apple Music is no longer just an Apple-only affair though, as it is available on Android devices and some smart televisions too. Today, Samsung announces that the aforementioned Apple Music time-synced lyrics feature is finally available on its smart TVs.
If you want a proper gaming PC, you need a full ATX motherboard and a massive tower full of fans, right? Actually, no. Nowadays, there are very capable mini ITX and micro ATX motherboards, making it possible to have a lot of power in a small package.
But holy cow, I never expected to see this much power crammed into such a small space! Today, MAINGEAR launches the TURBO -- a beautiful and impossibly small AMD Ryzen 3000XT gaming desktop. Just how small is it? A very impressive 7" x 14.4" x 12.3". This diminutive liquid-cooled beast can be configured with a processor ranging from the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 to the 3950X -- including the new 3000XT chips. You can choose up to 16TB of storage and up to 64GB of RAM. Graphics cards from both NVIDIA and AMD are available.
Want to know a little-discussed fact about Apple? Despite the company's historic excellence in design, it has never created a good mouse. It's true! Throughout the company's entire history, including today, all Apple mice have been terrible. With that said, its trackpads are absolutely brilliant, and they are still a class-leader. No Windows laptop has a better trackpad than a Mac.
If you like Mac computers but hate Apple mice, there is one excellent solution -- buy a third party mouse. You can never go wrong with a Logitech mouse, and today, the company launches an Apple variant of its popular MX Master 3. In addition, Logitech is launching two Apple-focused keyboards as well -- a Mac-optimized version of the MX Keys and the K380 for Mac Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard.
If you are a Linux nerd or Windows user without much money, you probably use LibreOffice. That free software is actually quite good, although Microsoft's Office is far superior. Regardless of how you feel about the Windows-maker, its office suite of software is second to none. If you use Windows or Mac and can afford it, I always recommend using "real" Word and Excel over knockoffs, such as the aforementioned LibreOffice's Writer or Calc. Sadly, other than the web version, Microsoft Office is not available for Linux. With that said, as a Linux user, I appreciate LibreOffice's existence and use it regularly.
But what if LibreOffice wasn't free? Would people still use it if it cost money? Some folks became very worried about that exactly, as the release candidate of LibreOffice 7.0 labeled itself as "Personal Edition." To some, it was a sign that a paid version of LibreOffice was on the horizon. Well, guess what? They weren't totally wrong. In the future, you might find yourself paying money to use LibreOffice software. According to a new blog post from The Document Foundation Board aimed at quelling fears, however, there is no need to panic.
If you are a serious PC gamer, I hope you own a mechanical keyboard. Whether gaming on a laptop or desktop, you should absolutely have a high-quality mechanical keyboard and mouse plugged in. After all, there is a good chance your competition is using these things, so why should you be at a disadvantage?
If you are in the market for a mechanical keyboard, I have good news. Kingston's gaming division, HyperX, launches a new model today. Called "Alloy Elite 2," it is the successor to the wildly popular first-gen Alloy Elite. This time, you get "pudding" keycaps, which feature translucent sides for a brighter and more colorful RGB experience. Thankfully, the volume wheel and media buttons make a return.
If you want to store your data externally, you can always go with a mechanical hard disk drive. That makes sense, as HDDs are typically a more cost effective option when compared to solid state drives. With that said, SSDs have dropped in price a lot lately, and are getting larger storage capacities all the time. For instance, both Sabrent and Samsung recently showed off 8TB SSDs. Not to mention, solid state drives are faster and have no moving parts, making them worth the premium for some consumers.
Lexar recently announced a new portable SSD that uses USB-C for connectivity, and it is rather affordable. Called "SL200," it appears to use a SATA drive internally, so it isn't the fastest option on the market. With that said, it is still significantly faster than a USB hard disk drive. Your PC doesn't have USB-C? Don't worry. The attractive drive comes with both a USB-C to USB-C cable and a USB-C to USB-A cable in the box.
People are starting to care more about privacy these days, and rightfully so. It feels like we are constantly hearing about data breaches and software vulnerabilities that can lead to spying. While Windows 10 is a great operating system, it does have some intense telemetry that can pass your activity to Microsoft's servers. That is part of the reason so many people are switching to Linux these days.
If you are switching to Linux for privacy reasons, you have to check out Purism. That company sells computers running a Debian-based Linux distro called "PureOS". These machines have hardware kill-switches for the webcam, microphone, and wireless radios. Today, the company announces the 14-inch Librem 14 Linux laptop. It has a 1080p display and is powered by the hexacore Intel Core i7-10710U processor. It can be configured with up to 32GB of RAM.
Mageia isn't one of the most popular Linux-based operating systems, but it has its share of fans. The operating system is primarily a KDE affair, although GNOME and Xfce are available desktop environments too. It is a quality distro that you should check out if interested.
The last major release of Mageia was version 7, which came out nearly a year ago. Today, Mageia 8 Alpha 1 becomes available for download. Despite many Linux distributions stopping development of 32-bit variants, Mageia is apparently not giving up -- you can download a special 32-bit ISO that uses the Xfce desktop environment.
Intel's diminutive NUC bare-bones computers are quite a bit of fun. Not only are they cute and tiny, but once you add RAM and storage, they can run both Windows 10 and Linux brilliantly. Hell, I am currently running macOS on one as a "Hackintosh" (Shh! Don't tell Apple). The only knock on the NUC is that you can't really upgrade the GPU. Unless your NUC has Thunderbolt 3 and you add a pricey eGPU, you are essentially stuck with Intel's ho-hum onboard graphics.
With the unveiling of the "Ghost Canyon" Intel NUC 9, however, this changed. While obviously bigger than earlier NUC models, this unit can accommodate a proper gaming card from AMD or NVIDIA (if you choose to add one). You can even eventually upgrade the CPU with what Intel calls replaceable "compute elements." And now, if you have some money to spare, you can finally buy the top model of Ghost Canyon -- the drool-worthy Intel NUC 9 Extreme is available today!
We have had 64-bit processors in the mainstream for many years now, but for some reason, developers have continued to maintain 32-bit versions of operating systems. This includes Microsoft, who still supports 32-bit Windows 10 in 2020 (although the company plans to wind that down). Thankfully, many Linux distributions such as Fedora, Tails, and Linux Mint have killed off their 32-bit versions, choosing to instead focus on 64-bit.
And now, another major Linux distribution follows suit. You see, as of today, Manjaro Linux 32-bit is dead. This is a very wise move, as 32-bit computers are obsolete and maintaining a 32-bit variant of an OS is a waste of resources. Anyone that disagrees is very wrong.
When I first cut the cord and switched my television service to YouTube TV, the price was a very manageable $35 per month. Then the monthly charge went to up $40 and ultimately landed at $50. When it hit the $50 mark I became nervous, as it was approaching cable TV pricing. Sadly, today, the price jumps once again, this time to $65. Uh oh.
At this new price, YouTube TV is definitely more expensive than cable TV would be for me. In fact, if I was to switch back to cable TV, I wouldn't only save money, but I would get more channels too. So I will be switching back to cable TV, right? Surprisingly, no. I will be sticking with YouTube TV.