Brian Fagioli

Belkin launches USB-C 3.1 Express Dock HD, but you probably don't want it

There are a lot of USB-C docks and accessories on the market today. While the port can be found on Windows and Linux machines, you can thank Apple for the overall popularity. When the company went all-in with USB-C ports on the MacBook Pro, accessory makers really took interest.

Today, Belkin releases a new dock that uses the newest USB connector. Called "USB-C 3.1 Express Dock HD," it features 8 ports. Best of all, it can charge your laptop while it is connected. While it does offer 4K video, it is unfortunately capped at 30Hz, making it a non-starter for many.

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Purism exceeds $1 million in funding for Librem 5 Linux-based smartphone

Consumers don't care about privacy anymore, right? Wrong -- some actually do. True, we are systematically being conditioned to surrender our private information and rights nowadays, but some people are still fighting the good fight. In many ways, both the Linux and open source communities can be seen as the foundations of internet privacy.

The most popular mobile operating system on the planet, Android, is already based on Linux, but with Google in charge of it, many consumers cannot depend on it for privacy. With that said, Purism is planning to fight the impossible fight against Android and iOS with the "Librem 5" smartphone. This is a device that will run a privacy-focused Linux-based OS called "Pure OS," but the hardware is wide open for any OS, really. Purism is trying to raise $1.5 million through crowdfunding, and earlier today, it reached a significant milestone --  $1 million! Maybe the fight isn't impossible after all...

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Google unveils 'Pixelbook' Chromebook, and it is much better than a Windows 10 PC

Fact -- Chromebooks are much better than Windows 10 PCs. Well, for some people, at least. I'll concede that some consumers will be better served by Windows or macOS, but nowadays, most home users can get by with Chrome OS. After all, many folks live in the web browser, doing things like watching YouTube and checking Facebook. While Windows 10 can arguably do more, it is also less secure. If you can get by with a Chromebook, you should! By the way, Chrome OS is not a glorified web browser, but instead, a well-designed Linux-based operating system.

Today, Google unveils the "Pixelbook," which is a high-end Chromebook with a 12.3-inch touch screen and stylus support. It can even convert into a tablet. It weighs a mere 1.1 kilograms and is just 10.3mm thick. Since it can run Android apps, there isn't much you can't do with it. True, it isn't a solution for, say, professional photo or video editing, but most people don't need that. And so, the Pixelbook is here to offer an elegant Chrome OS experience, reminiscent of the excellent Chromebook Pixel.

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SteelSeries Arctis 3 gaming headset now available in blue, grey, and red

Both PC and console gaming are wildly popular nowadays -- people even game professionally. Who would of thought in the early days of, say, "Pong," that people would eventually earn money for playing games? Crazy, right? Well, that is the the state of the world nowadays. Heck, gaming tournaments are even getting exposure on television -- TBS, for instance, broadcasts them weekly every Friday night.

To better enjoy their video games, consumers often purchase gaming peripherals and accessories, such as mice, keyboards, and game pads. For many, a headset is also a popular purchase, as it can let them either trash-talk opponents or communicate with teammates. SteelSeries makes many types of gaming peripherals -- including headsets -- and today, it announces that the popular and affordable Arctis 3 is now available in three new limited edition colors -- blue, grey, and red. Best of all, when you buy this headset in one of the new colors from SteelSeries' web store, the company will donate 10-percent to "Ditch the Label" -- an organization with a mission to stop bullying.

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Western Digital announces HGST-branded Ultrastar Hs14 14TB enterprise SMR HDD

Western Digital makes a damn good hard disk drive. The company's quality is legendary -- it is a popular choice for both home and the enterprise. I am currently testing one of the company's latest external offerings -- a 20TB monster aimed at home users and enthusiasts.

But what about the enterprise? Don't worry, Western Digital is focused on business users too. In fact, today, it announces an enterprise hard disk drive with a massive 14TB of storage capacity! This is the largest capacity enterprise HDD ever, and follows its 12TB offering. Called "Ultrastar HS14," the helium-filled drive uses HGST (a subsidiary of WD) branding. This drive isn't just attractive because of its large capacity, however -- it is also very power efficient.

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Fedora 27 Beta Linux distribution now available with GNOME 3.26

Last week, Korora 26 was released. This is a Linux distribution based on Fedora 26, which was released back in July. That's the problem with using an operating system that is based on another operating system -- it can seem like you are never truly up to date. Case in point, today, Fedora 27 Beta sees release.

True, this is pre-release software, but recent Fedora Beta releases have been very stable, so it should be fine to run on a non-production machine. Just be aware that there can be bugs and the potential for data loss. If you are comfortable with using a beta operating system, you are in for quite the treat. Fans of Fedora can finally experience GNOME 3.26 -- the default desktop environment on version 27 of the distro. In addition, Fedora 27 Beta now supports TRIM on encrypted solid state disks.

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Microsoft releases refreshed preview of 'Skype for Linux' for Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, and more

Skype is an important communication service thanks to its cross-compatibility. There are clients for Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, and even desktop Linux. It may not offer the best user experience, but it is passable, making it a solid choice for those that need to keep in touch across long distances.

Today, Microsoft releases a refreshed preview of Skype for Linux. There are both DEB and RPM packages available, making it easy to install on, say, Ubuntu, Debian, or Fedora. In fact, I successfully installed it on Pop!_OS earlier today. Believe it or not, the new interface is quite nice, making it something I could possibly enjoy using on my Linux machine.

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Ubuntu Linux 17.10 'Artful Aardvark' Beta 2 now available to download

Fall is officially here, and while some people get excited for pumpkin spice lattes and falling leaves, other folks get excited about something far nerdier -- Ubuntu. Yes, every October a new version of the Linux-based operating system is released. This year in particular is very significant, as with Ubuntu 17.10, GNOME is replacing Unity as the default desktop environment.

Today, Beta 2 of Ubuntu Linux 17.10, code-named "Artful Aardvark," becomes available to download. This second beta is the final beta as well, which signals that the operating system is almost ready for primetime.

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Keep the Trump administration out of your private life with Tails 3.2 Linux distribution

As we learned from the great patriot Edward Snowden, the US government can and will spy on you. Not caring about that invasion of privacy, and dismissing it with the flawed statement of "I have nothing to hide," is flat out idiotic. Regardless of what you do on your computer, or on the internet, your privacy is sacred, and quite frankly, it was earned by our forefathers that fought for our freedoms.

If you do care about your privacy, and you want to keep the heavy-handed Trump administration or other government agency out of your private business, please know you aren't powerless. There is a specific Linux-based operating system that aims to protect your privacy from corrupt governments and other evildoers, such as hackers and spies. Called "Tails," it always runs in a live environment from a DVD or flash drive. In other words, especially with an optical disk, it will help to hide your footprints. Today, version 3.2 sees release.

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Samsung selects Ubuntu 16.04 as primary Linux distro for some ARTIK IoT modules

Next month, Ubuntu 17.10 will be released. Even after that release, version 16.04 will remain the most recent LTS version. If you aren't familiar, LTS stands for "Long Term Support," which quite literally means it is supported by Canonical for a longer period of time. For instance, Ubuntu 16.04 will be supported until 2021, while the newer 17.04 is only supported until 2018.

Today, Canonical announces that Samsung has selected version 16.04 LTS of the operating system as the primary Linux distro for some of the ARTIK internet of things modules. This is a smart choice by Samsung, because long support is preferable to bleeding edge for an IoT device.

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System76 Pop!_OS Beta Ubuntu-based Linux distribution now available to download

Next month, a new era of Ubuntu begins. Unity is dead, and GNOME 3 takes over as the default desktop environment. While this change was for the best, it was still shocking for many. For a company like System76, for instance, that sells computers pre-loaded with Ubuntu, this was problematic. Why? Well, the company essentially lost control of the overall user experience by relying on vanilla Ubuntu. It was being forced to follow Canonical's path.

To solve this, and regain some control, System76 has been developing its own operating system called "Pop!_OS." No, it is not reinventing the wheel here -- it will still use Ubuntu as a base, and GNOME will be the desktop environment. The company is customizing the operating system, however, with things like fonts, themes, and icons, to create something truly unique. This could lead to an improved user experience. Today, the first official beta of the operating system becomes available for download.

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Amazon unveils all-new Fire TV with 4K and HDR

I recently bought the Apple TV 4K, and I absolutely love it. What I don't love, however, is the price. The 64GB model that I purchased cost $200. While that was more than its competitor's 4K offerings, such as Amazon Fire TV, I was willing to open my wallet a bit wider for the compatibility with the Apple ecosystem, such as easily accessing my photos and videos in iCloud.

Today, Amazon unveils a new streaming TV box that features both 4K and HDR, but it is insanely affordable. This all-new Fire TV costs just $69.99! To make things even sweeter, for a limited time, Amazon will sell you an Echo Dot for $10 when you purchase the new Fire TV. Yes, you are reading that correctly -- for $79.99 you get a high-end 4K media box and a standalone Echo device.

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Amazon unveils $99 next generation Echo, making Apple HomePod dead on arrival

Amazon's Echo and associated Alexa assistant have taken the world by storm. Despite being a big company, Amazon's success in this market was very unlikely. Companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple should be leading, but no, an online bookseller has been the true trailblazer in voice assistant technology.

Today, Amazon unveils the next generation Echo, and oh my, it looks amazing. Not only is it much shorter than its predecessor (still taller than Echo Dot), but it is wrapped in fabric, creating a more inviting experience in a home. It even has improved audio quality. Best of all? It is even less expensive at a mere $99. Unfortunately for Apple, this will essentially make its upcoming $349 Siri-powered HomePod dead on arrival.

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Microsoft offers free Skype calls to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria devastation

The photos and videos coming out of Puerto Rico following the devastating Hurricane Maria have been heartbreaking. The little island has been destroyed -- the people have no electricity, but even worse, food and water are scarce, and tensions are running high, leading to very dangerous conditions.

Unfortunately, government aid has not been coming fast enough, with President Trump blaming the fact that Puerto Rico is an island for his poor performance in this regard -- seriously. Luckily, the private sector is stepping up to help their fellow US citizens. People and organizations are donating money, and today Microsoft announces that it is enabling free Skype calls to Puerto Rico area codes 787 and 939.

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Twitter testing 280 character tweet limit -- could this ruin the social network?

Many people are passionate about Twitter -- including President Donald Trump. It is not hard to see why, either -- it allows you to quickly share a communication with the world in 140 or fewer characters. While some people see the character limitation as stupid and unnecessary, others would argue that it forces the user to get to the point. Heck, limitations can breed creativity too -- getting a message across in 140 characters can be a fun brain exercise.

Unfortunately, Twitter seems intent on potentially ruining its service by literally doubling the number of characters from 140 to 280. Before you run to the service to test this out, please know that it is only available to a small group of testers for now.

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