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Gadget Ogling: Dashing Buttons, a Plug-In PC and a Smart Teakettle
April 7, 2015
Amazon Dash is a series of WiFi connected buttons you dot around your home for various products. Once you run out, hit the button, and Amazon will ship out more of what you need. Run out of things like trash bags, razors, detergent, diapers, paper towels, dog food or toilet paper, and Amazon can ship you more at the touch of a button. It's wonderfully simple.
Google Goes Crazy for Chromebooks
April 1, 2015
Google has announced two new budget-busting Chromebook computers, a tablet/notebook convertible with a full swivel screen, and a Chrome computer-on-a-stick. The Haier Chromebook 11 and the Hisense Chromebook both are available for preorder for $149. The Asus Chromebook Flip will hit the market this spring with a $249 price tag. The Asus Chromebit will be available this summer for less than $100.
The Micro Bit's Mega Promise
March 17, 2015
The BBC last week announced that it would give programming PCs to 1 million students through its Make It Digital initiative, an effort to spark greater interest in technology. The 11- and 12-year-old UK school children will receive Micro Bit, a stripped-down computer that can be worn on a lanyard. The Micro Bit is designed to serve as an entry point for individuals interested in coding.
Apple Drifts Away From Jobs
March 16, 2015
Steve Jobs' Apple displayed a rather fascinating balance between design and utility. Granted, it often shifted more toward the design side, which resulted in problems like Antennagate, but that tended to happen when Jobs wasn't around. He made sure the products worked well and looked good -- he understood the need to do both. By any financial measure, Tim Cook has been doing a great job.
Asus to Sport Powerful New Nvidia GPU
March 13, 2015
Nvidia on Thursday launched the latest in its GTX 900s series of mobile GPUs -- GTX 960m and 950m -- designed to make a gaming laptop as future-proof as possible. Asus' recently unveiled GX501 is one of the machines that already has incorporated the latest Nvidia tech. The new GPUs include such gaming-enhancing features as BatteryBoost, ShadowPlay and Optimus.
New MacBook: Computing Rethought
March 12, 2015
The Apple Watch may have dominated Apple's Spring Forward event earlier this week, but an unexpected new MacBook could herald the future of mobile computing. It will be available April 10. Thinness, lightness and tomorrow's technology are its salient features. Its 12-inch Retina display is 0.88 mm thick, and the MacBook itself is 24 percent thinner than the 11-inch MacBook Air.
Apple Springs Bevy of New Products at Watch Event
March 9, 2015
The Apple Watch wasn't the only new product to take the stage at Apple's Monday media event -- Apple also introduced an all-new sleek MacBook. In addition, Apple nabbed the chance to be the exclusive launch partner for HBO's new streaming subscription service. Among the event highlights: Apple Watch will be available for preorder April 10, sale April 24; and Apple Watch Edition starts at $10,000.
Valve To Put Steam Behind VR Efforts With New Headset
February 25, 2015
Valve on Monday announced that it's getting into the virtual reality hardware business. In a terse tease posted to the Web, the company trumpeted its intentions to reveal its SteamVR hardware system next week at the 2015 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Valve also announced that it is looking for developers and publishers to create content for its new VR hardware system.
Lenovo Rapped for Preinstalling Spyware
February 19, 2015
Lenovo has come under fire for preinstalling spyware on some of its laptops. The software, Superfish, uses the same techniques cybercriminals often employ to crack encrypted traffic. "Superfish is purposely designed to bypass the security of HTTPS websites in a manner that would allow malware and attackers to also bypass the security provided by HTTPS," said Bluebox cofounder Adam Ely.
Gadget Ogling: An On-the-Go Digital Safe, a Portable Power Plant and a Gimmicky Ghost Buster
February 18, 2015
Welcome to a new edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, your weekly guide to the best and worst of gadgets that have just rolled off the production line for the first time or have the proverbial ink still drying on their press releases. On our conveyor belt this week are a gas-powered portable charger, a clever key fob, a flash drive for secret keepers and a pocket ghost detector.
In Search of the Perfect Windows 10 Hardware
February 9, 2015
I'm well into the user testing of the next generation of Microsoft's operating system and things are really looking up. Windows 10 is becoming a blend of the many things we liked about Windows 7, and the things that most folks don't know about that are great about Windows 8. Windows 10 should be like a breath of fresh air for those truly annoyed with Windows 8.
A Personal Power Plant in the Palm of Your Hand
February 4, 2015
The problem with most portable battery-based chargers is that you still need to plug them into a wall socket to gain a charge. While some inventors have turned to solar, or even wind power, for off-the-grid power sources, solar and wind power take time and require Mother Nature to provide sun or wind. Enter Kraftwerk, a fuel-based hand-held portable generator that has launched as a Kickstarter project.
$35 Raspberry Pi 2 Faster, Runs Windows 10
February 2, 2015
The Pi Foundation on Monday announced that it has released the latest version of its "entry-level PC." The Raspberry Pi 2 is now available for US$35, the same price as the previous Model B+. This build-it-yourself computer features an 800MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU, which will offer six times the performance of the previous system. It also includes double the memory with 1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM.
There's a GHOST in Linux's Library
January 28, 2015
Patches for GHOST, a critical vulnerability in glibc, the Linux GNU C Library, now are available through vendor communities for a variety of Linux server and desktop distributions. Qualys earlier this week reported its discovery of GHOST, a vulnerability that allows attackers to remotely take control of an entire system without having any prior knowledge of system credentials.
The Brave New World of Windows 10
January 23, 2015
Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled a slew of new features and capabilities coming in Windows 10: the convergence of the desktop and mobile; the advent of the killer universal app; more power and features for personal digital assistant Cortana, which will be on mobile as well as desktops and laptops; improvements to maps; a new browser; a strong emphasis on gaming; and holographic computing.
Acer Designs Chromebooks for Students' Rough Handling
January 22, 2015
Acer on Wednesday announced two new ruggedized Chromebooks geared for classroom use. Both will go on sale in February. The Acer Chromebook C910 and C740 have a durable design built around reinforced covers and hinges. The new models support multiple user sign-ons and offline file access. Security features include a Kensington lock to secure the laptop to a wireless cart or lab station.
HP Goes Pro With Mobile Business Strategy
January 21, 2015
HP has unveiled eight new business-focused mobile products: six specialized tablets, a 2-in-1 device and a tablet case. The company also announced new relationships with partners and independent software vendors, and a slew of accessories. HP is "very cautious these days about the types of products they release," said Susan Schreiner, senior editor and analyst at C4 Trends.
IBM's z13 Emerges From Mainframe Fountain of Youth
January 19, 2015
IBM launched its newest mainframe, the z13, last week in New York City. Built for the mobile economy, the z13 can process 2.5 billion transactions daily. It enables real-time encryption on all mobile transactions at scale, and it includes embedded analytics that provide real-time transactions faster and cheaper than the competition, the company said.
What If IBM's Rommetty and Apple's Cook Were to Swing for the Fences?
January 19, 2015
I was at IBM's z13 mainframe launch last week, and it brought back a lot of memories, because I was at IBM when the era of the mainframe collapsed. I also happened to be covering Apple when the era of the Mac collapsed, following the launch of Windows 95, and I have watched both companies recover -- largely by rediscovering what made them great in the first place.
Loving Linux in a Touchscreen World
January 13, 2015
Well it was a fairly quiet week here in the Linux blogosphere, as much of the mainstream tech world staggered directly out of their New Year's revelries and into the halls of CES. Not that Linux didn't have a presence at the gargantuan show, mind you. It was there, all right -- not just in phones but in TVs, smartwatches and cars, to name just a few examples.
Will Apple's 12-inch MacBook Air Use One Port to Rule Them All?
January 8, 2015
There is a hot new MacBook Air rumor that's got the tech press all in a flutter, and get this: It's not about a long-awaited Retina display for the MacBook Air. Instead, the rumor claims that Apple's redesigned MacBook Air will be remarkably smaller, with a 12-inch screen -- and just one port. The new MacBook Air design reportedly will drop the current MacBook Air's USB 3 ports.
HP Debuts 2 Wee Desktop PCs
January 5, 2015
HP on Monday announced two tiny desktop PCs, the Pavilion Mini and the Stream Mini, to be demoed at the International CES being held Tuesday through Friday in Las Vegas. Both will be available in the United States via HP's website on Jan. 14 and from select retailers on Feb. 8. Pricing for the Pavilion Mini starts at $320 and for the Stream Mini at $180. Both run Windows 8.1.
The Big Tech Stories of 2015
December 29, 2014
Last week, we looked back at the largely untold, or under told, stories of 2014. This week, let's look ahead to some of the stories that are coming in 2015. We'll have robots, self-driving cars, armed autonomous drones, the professional proliferation of head mounted cameras, some scandals, and some interesting political implications. I'll close with my product of the year, which even surprised me.
Have Intel and Microsoft Discovered the Fountain of Corporate Youth?
December 15, 2014
This has been an interesting quarter. After Andy Grove left, Intel often seemed to struggle with its place in the world and seemed at odds with the computing OEMs. Now, though, it seems more and more like it did when it was 20 years younger. It's not alone, either. Microsoft, which seemed to have forgotten why there were OEMs, suddenly is acting much more like the firm we knew in the early 90s.

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