BrianFagioli writes: 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.
"Upspin looks a bit like a global file system, but its real contribution is a set of interfaces, protocols, and components from which an information management system can be built, with properties such as security and access control suited to a modern, networked world. Upspin is not an 'app' or a web service, but rather a suite of software components, intended to run in the network and on devices connected to it, that together provide a secure, modern information storage and sharing network," says Google.
BrianFagioli writes: 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.
Microsoft says, "Flipkart plans to use the artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics capabilities in Azure, such as Cortana Intelligence Suite and Power BI, to optimize its data for innovative merchandising, advertising, marketing and customer service. With powerful insights about its business and new, intelligent services, Flipkart can deliver increasingly relevant and personalized experiences to its customers."
BrianFagioli writes: 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.
"Starting today, you can shop for your everyday essentials — from paper towels to vitamins. You'll be able to order from participating Google Express retailers, including Costco, Whole Foods Market, Walgreens, PetSmart, Bed Bath & Beyond and more than 50 other national and locally available retailers. To get started, just say 'Ok Google, how do I shop?' or 'Ok Google, order paper towels'." says David Wang and Larry Adams, Product Managers, Google.
BrianFagioli writes: If you haven't yet picked up a gift, and that someone special is a bit of a computer nerd, I have some good news. The Linux Foundation is offering special training and certification discounts for Valentine's Day. Chocolate and flowers are fleeting — education can last a lifetime. Using this special discount code, you can surprise your lover with the gift of Linux — how cool is that?
There are several courses available, such as Essentials of System Administration, Linux Networking and Administration, and Linux Security Fundamentals. You can get Linux Foundation certifications as a System Administrator or Engineer.
BrianFagioli writes: Consumers that want a Windows 10 computer are very lucky nowadays, as there are many quality machines from which to choose.
One such quality laptop is the Razer Blade. The 14-inch Windows 10 laptop is quite popular with gamers, as it is both svelte and powerful. Today, Razer announces that it is refreshing the notebook with new Intel Kaby Lake processors and an optional 4K display.
If you want to buy the all-new Razer Blade, you can get the 1080p model today from the manufacturer directly starting at $1,899. Then, on February 20, expanded availability will begin in the USA, and it will start showing up at other American retailers. The worldwide rollout will start next month. The 4K model will not be available until Q2 2017.
BrianFagioli writes: Today, a bit of a failure was discovered on Apple's part regarding user privacy. You see, when an Apple user deleted their web browser history, they assumed it was gone forever — and rightfully so. While the data no longer appeared on Apple devices, it has been discovered by ElcomSoft that it persisted on iCloud. To make matters worse, this data is easily recoverable.
Vladimir Katalov, ElcomSoft says, "Safari history is synced across devices. Once you delete a record on one device, it will disappear on all other devices in a matter of seconds (or minutes), provided that those devices are connected to the Internet. While those records can be retained in SQLite database for technical reasons, a flush or cleanup will purge them sooner or later (on an actively used device, this can happen in a few days or up to 2-3 weeks). However, those same records will be kept in Apple iCloud for much longer. In fact, we were able to access records dated more than one year back. The user does not see those records and does not know they still exist on Apple servers."
BrianFagioli writes: Microsoft's Cortana is also a great voice assistant, and since "she" is included in Windows 10, countless consumers already have access. Today, Microsoft announces that it is improving Cortana with a new feature called "Suggested Reminders". The assistant will scan your emails for dates and appointments, and then suggest reminders — for times when maybe you forgot to do so yourself. Previously available to Windows Insiders, it is now an option for all Windows 10 users. There is one very big catch, however.
So, what is this catch I speak of? Unfortunately, it is only available to Outlook.com or Office 365 work and school email addresses. Users of other popular email providers, such as Gmail, Yahoo, or iCloud are out of luck — for now. Microsoft promises that more providers will be added at a future undisclosed date. The Windows-maker also promises future compatibility with iOS and Android — it is Windows 10 only as of today.
BrianFagioli writes: As great as these solid state drives are now, they are only getting better. For example, SATA-based SSDs were once viewed as miraculous, but they are now looked at as slow — PCIe-based NVMe drives are all the rage. To highlight the steady evolution of flash storage, Western Digital today unveils the first-ever 512 gigabit 64-layer 3D NAND chip.
"The launch of the industry's first 512Gb 64-layer 3D NAND chip is another important stride forward in the advancement of our 3D NAND technology, doubling the density from when we introduced the world's first 64-layer architecture in July 2016. This is a great addition to our rapidly broadening 3D NAND technology portfolio. It positions us well to continue addressing the increasing demand for storage due to rapid data growth across a wide range of customer retail, mobile and data center applications," says Dr. Siva Sivaram, executive vice president, memory technology, Western Digital.
BrianFagioli writes: Unfortunately for some users, Tails will soon not work on their computers. The upcoming version 3.0 of the operating system is dropping 32-bit processor support. While a decline in compatibility is normally a bad thing, in this case, it is good. You see, because there are so few 32-bit Tails users, the team was wasting resources by supporting them. Not to mention, 64-bit processors are more secure too.
"It's no surprise that over the last years, the number of people who use Tails on a 32-bit computer has dropped: most 32-bit computers are at least ten years old, and one after the other their hardware stops working. As a result, in the beginning of 2016, only 4-percent of Tails users were still using a 32-bit computer. Of course, some of these computers will keep working for a while. But once the number had fallen this low, the benefits of switching Tails to 64-bit outweighed the reasons we had to keep supporting 32-bit computers," says the Tails team.
BrianFagioli writes: Never known to stand on its laurels, Plex is constantly improving, and today, it gets a really exciting new feature. Users of the service that are also owners of Amazon Echo or other compatible devices can now leverage the Alexa voice assistant to interact with Plex.
"The Plex Alexa experience begins with a quick setup. First, tell Alexa to enable the Plex skill. Link your account and then ask her to 'open Plex' to start using the skill. From there, you can have her ask Plex to play whatever media you like on any of your players. You can ask for suggestions, 'ask Plex what's On Deck,' and more! To learn more about the Plex Alexa skill, head over to https://www.plex.tv/alexa and enjoy the future!" says Plex.
BrianFagioli writes: Want to know something shocking? Like, literally shocking? Barnes and Noble is recalling 147,000 faulty NOOK Tablet 7 power adapters due to shock risk. In other words, owners of this tablet could face an electricity related injury when charging it.
If you own this tablet, it is important that you stop using the charger immediately. While there is no guarantee that you will be injured, it is not worth the risk. Barnes and Noble will replace the power adapter at no charge. To make up for the inconvenience, the company will also give you a free gift.
BrianFagioli writes: Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Keynote presentations are often very boring, but unfortunately, they are a fact of life in the business world. If you have ever sat through a meeting that focused heavily on these slides, you have probably feigned interest and tried hard not to fall asleep. But why? Often, the data held on the screen is quite informative, but if the presenter is a bore, the presentation will suffer regardless. To make matters worse, with more and more employees working remotely, these presentations can be nothing more than slides with audio for some — those not physically in the room with the presenter can have a lesser experience.
Logitech decided to take a look at the deficiencies of these PowerPoint presentations, with the goal of creating a tool to improve both presentations and the presenters. True, presentation remotes are one such tool that can help, but that segment was very stagnant. Today, Logitech unveils the fruits of its labor — the Spotlight Presentation Remote. While the elegant device looks simplistic, you should not judge this book by its cover. It is a revolutionary tool for the business world that is chock full of goodness.
BrianFagioli writes: Google Chrome is a very popular web browser on iOS, with many folks choosing it over Safari. I prefer Apple's own browser, but I digress. The Chrome browser is largely open source, as it is based own the Chromium project — except for the iOS variant, that is. Today, for the first time ever, the iPhone and iPad version of the browser is open source too.
Rohit Rao, Google shares, "Given Chrome's commitment to open-source code, we've spent a lot of time over the past several years making the changes required to upstream the code for Chrome for iOS into Chromium. Today, that upstreaming is complete, and developers can compile the iOS version of Chromium like they can for other versions of Chromium. Development speed is also faster now that all of the tests for Chrome for iOS are available to the entire Chromium community and automatically run any time that code is checked in."
BrianFagioli writes: Today, startup Nextbit announces that it has been acquired by PC accessory maker Razer. True, it seems like an odd acquisition, but not any stranger than Razer buying THX. With that said, getting into the smartphone game seems like a very risky business, as more established companies — such as HTC — are struggling lately. Has Razer made a mistake?
"I'm thrilled to announce that we're joining the Razer family! They're rebels like us, they speak from the heart, and they share our need to push boundaries. Nextbit will operate as an independent division inside Razer, focused on unique mobile design and experiences. To put it simply, we'll be doing exactly what we've been doing all along, only bigger and better," says Tom Moss, Co-Founder and CEO, Nextbit.
BrianFagioli writes: The company has often embraced technology within its stores — it offers a nice mobile app with Spotify integration, and many of its tables offer wireless smartphone charging. Today, the company rolls out voice ordering through its own mobile iOS app or Amazon Alexa. Unfortunately, the iOS feature will be limited to 1,000 beta testers at first.
Starbucks says, "The Starbucks Reorder Skill for Amazon's Alexa platform leverages Starbucks Mobile Order and Pay technology, allowing customers to order their 'usual' Starbucks food and beverage items as they move throughout their day. Customers simply need to say 'Alexa, order my Starbucks,' giving them the ability to order their usual items from their store wherever they have an Alexa device."