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Published: Tue, 24 Jan 2017 03:23:53 -0800

Last Build Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2017 03:23:53 -0800

 



Jam Voice Bluetooth Speaker with Amazon Alexa review: Leave this one on the shelf

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 03:00:00 -0800

Amazon is enabling lots of other manufacturers to build their own hardware that taps its cloud-based digital assistant, Alexa. That’s a smart strategy if Amazon’s objective is to make Alexa ubiquitous in the smart home and home entertainment markets. But the online retailer should also be careful not to allow too many subpar products like Jam Audio’s Jam Voice to be associated with the Alexa brand.

Even after Jam Audio slashed the Jam Voice’s asking price from $79.99 to $59.99 in the wake of the $129 Google Home and Amazon’s own $49.99 Echo Dot, the Jam Voice is merely a so-so product. And in a market where the competition is so good, being only so-so is a big no-no.

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MyCharge RazorPlatinum review: Portable, yet powerful

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 02:00:00 -0800

The myCharge RazorPlatinum is a $99 battery pack that’s designed to do more than just charge your phone. Looking at the myCharge listing for the pack, it’s clear this is a battery pack designed for MacBook users who need some extra juice while on the go.

That said, the RazorPlatinum gets the job done when it comes to charging any USB-C device. With an overall capacity of 13,400 milliamp-hours (49.6Wh), the pack is one of three packs we’ve tested to fall short of 80 percent efficiency — 77.23 to be exact — when discharging at 5V/2.4A.

(image) Jason Cipriani

You’d need to stack two Pixel XL’s to get the thickness of the RazorPlatinum.

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Pompeo sworn in as CIA chief amid opposition from surveillance critics

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 23:35:24 -0800

Mike Pompeo was sworn in late Monday by U.S. Vice President Michael Pence as the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency, amid protests from surveillance critics who worry about his conflicting views on a number of key issues.

The oath of office was administered to him after the Senate voted in favor of his confirmation in a 66-32 vote.

Critics of Pompeo, a Republican representative from Kansas, are concerned that he may weigh in with the government on a rollback of many privacy reforms, including restrictions on the collection of bulk telephone metadata from Americans by the National Security Agency under the USA Freedom Act. There are also concerns that the new director may try to introduce curbs on the use of encryption and bring in measures to monitor the social media accounts of people.

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Meet DATEDIF(), Excel’s secret Date & Time function that's still handy

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 20:17:00 -0800

DATEDIF(), which means Date + Dif, is a compatibility function left over from Lotus 1-2-3 that Microsoft adopted in Excel version 2000, which is the only version that explains how this function works. It’s operational in all Excel versions, but it’s not on the Formulas menu or in the Help menus after Excel 2000. If your spreadsheet experiences began with Lotus, which is true for many thousands of users, you’ll be happy to know that this old Lotus function is still alive and kicking.

The purpose of this function is to calculate the time between a user-specified starting and ending date in days, months, or years. The arguments for this function are:

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Trump names net neutrality foe Ajit Pai to lead the FCC

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 16:59:00 -0800

President Donald Trump has named Commissioner Ajit Pai, an outspoken opponent of the FCC’s net neutrality rules, as the next head of the agency.

The choice was widely expected after Trump’s election last November. Pai is the senior Republican on the commission, having served since 2012. He doesn’t need to be confirmed by the Senate because he is already on the Commission.

Pai attacked the reclassification of broadband as a utility in 2015, saying it would place excessive burdens on service providers, other internet players and consumers. The expansion of broadband service through a competitive marketplace has been one of Pai’s themes as a commissioner.

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Samsung sees 2016 profit jump despite Note 7 debacle

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 16:54:00 -0800

Samsung Electronics said its profit rose almost 20 percent in 2016 despite nearly flat sales and the costly recall of the Note 7 smartphone.

The company reported an annual net profit of 22.7 trillion won (US$19.5 billion), up 19.2 percent, on sales of 201.9 trillion won (US$173.5 billion), up just 0.6 percent.

Samsung saw some of its biggest sales gains in memory chips on the back of strong demand from smartphone makers. The company is one of the world's biggest memory chip manufacturers.

The mobile division saw sales fall 3 percent in 2016 to 97.8 trillion won. It's Samsung's biggest division by sales and was hit by the recall of the Note 7 smartphone and slowing demand for high-end phones.

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Microsoft expands FastTrack migration service

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 16:46:04 -0800

Microsoft is expanding the free services it offers to help enterprise customers adopt its products.

The company announced Monday that its FastTrack services now encompass Dynamics 365, Windows 10 and Microsoft Teams. Those come in addition to Office 365 and the Enterprise Mobility Suite, which were already covered under FastTrack.

Each service is designed to help companies get the most out of products they've already subscribed to and adopt products that the company has recently released. FastTrack includes adoption guides, tools to find a Microsoft partner company to help with migration, and consulting help from Microsoft employees on particular issues.

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Yahoo pushes back timing of Verizon deal after breaches

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 15:58:00 -0800

Verizon’s planned acquisition of Yahoo will take longer than expected and won’t close until this year’s second quarter, the internet company said on Monday.

The $4.8 billion deal was originally slated to close in the first quarter, but that was before Yahoo reported two massive data breaches that analysts say may scrap the entire deal.

Although Yahoo continues to work to close the acquisition, there’s still work required to meet closing the deal's closing conditions, the company said in an earnings statement, without elaborating.

Verizon has suggested that the data breaches, and the resulting blow to Yahoo’s reputation, might cause it to halt or renegotiate the deal.

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How to create and restore an image backup in Windows 10

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 15:58:00 -0800

How do you recover from a dead internal hard drive or SSD? Or if Windows becomes so messed up it's useless or even unbootable?

You can always reinstall Windows from scratch. But after that you must reinstall all of your programs, and then reconfigure everything.

But if you have a relatively recent image backup handy, you can recover Windows, your programs, and your configurations with a few minutes’ work. 

I’m going to tell you how to create an image backup in Windows 10, and how to restore one should disaster strike. If you haven’t yet moved to Windows 10, you might want to read my Windows 7 and 8 article.

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Microsoft's first Creators Update features for Xbox One Insiders focus on Home, Guide, Copilot

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 14:05:00 -0800

It’s official: The first wave of Windows 10 Creators Update features is arriving on Microsoft’s Xbox One via its Xbox Insider program, complete with an updated Home screen, a faster Guide, and a rather awesome little Copilot Mode feature for playing with your kids.

After the PC and the phone, Microsoft’s Xbox One console is probably the most significant consumer platform in the company’s ecosystem. So it stands to reason that, after weeks to months of massive Creators Update changes for Insiders on the PC and the phone, that they would finally arrive on the Xbox One.

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59% off RAVPower 14000mAh Portable Car Jump Starter - Deal Alert

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 13:45:00 -0800

A compact power bank, a car jump starter, and a LED flashlight, all fit into a minimal and portable design. Whether it is your car or your USB devices, never run out of power again. Store it in the glovebox or simply drop it in your bag. Have a concentrated 14000mAh source of power always with you -- enough for up to 20 vehicle jumpstarts or many device recharges before the unit itself needs to be recharged. RAVPower's jump starter typically lists for $160 but is currently discounted 59% on Amazon to just $66. See the discounted car jumper now on Amazon

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Google wants to bring smart tools to Raspberry Pi-like boards

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 13:33:28 -0800

Google has hinted that it is interested in bringing "smart tools" to users of board computers like Raspberry Pi 3 and Intel's Edison.

The company has launched a market research survey of the maker community, and the front page of the site states: "We at Google are interested in creating smart tools for makers, and want to hear from you about what would be most helpful."

The survey includes queries on preferred maker boards, proficiency in hardware and software, and projects users may want to pursue.

Google did not respond to request for comment.

But in a blog entry, Raspberry Pi noted that the smart tools will be available sometime this year.

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Instant Tethering lets you easily share your connection with nearby Android devices

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 12:52:00 -0800

The Wi-Fi tethering feature built into your Android phone is a great feature that shares your connection with devices that might not have cellular capabilities. Now Google is looking to make a little easier to get it up and running.

A new feature called Instant Tethering is currently rolling out as part of the 10.2.91 update to Google Play Services. According to Android Police, the feature is currently limited to Nexus and Pixel phones running Nougat 7.1.1, and the only clients supported are the Nexus 9 and Pixel C tablets (though two phones can share their connections as well). However, as the service begins to make its way to other devices, it could be an excellent feature for people who regularly use their phone’s tethering feature.

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3 easy steps anyone can take now to back up a PC

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 12:30:00 -0800

Wayne Watson asked for advice about backing up his PC.

First I’ll give you six great reasons to back up your PC: Hardware failure (especially your hard drive or SSD). Ransomware. Theft. Fire. Flood. User error (probably the most common).

Next, I’ll give you an easy, three-item checklist for backing up said PC.

They’re steps well worth taking. Answer Line gets emails every day from people desperate to recover lost files. The ones who backed up didn’t bother to write.

[Have a tech question? Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

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China plugs its 'Great Firewall,' going after unauthorized VPN access from local ISPs

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 11:48:00 -0800

China is going after unauthorized internet connections, including tools known as VPNs (virtual private networks) that can bypass China’s efforts to control the web.

The crackdown is part of 14-month campaign from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology that's meant to clean up the country’s internet service provider market

Unless authorized, internet service providers are forbidden from operating any “cross-border” channel business, including VPNs, the ministry said in a Sunday notice.  

The announcement is a bit of rarity. The country has usually withheld from openly campaigning against VPN use, even as government censors have intermittently tried to squelch access to them in the past.  

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Google revamps Voice with long overdue makeover, new features

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 11:10:00 -0800

Google Voice hasn’t seen a lot of love or attention since it launched with some fanfare in 2009, but surprisingly Google is letting us know that it still cares about the communication service. In a new sprawling release—the first of its kind in years—Google has revamped all versions of its Voice app and site with a clean, modern look, new features, and, perhaps the best news of all, the promise of regular updates.

The most striking thing about the new version is its design, which actually looks like it was made for the latest phones. The new interface is a major improvement, with clean navigation and organization, and big message windows that makes it feel like a modern messaging service.

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33% off HP 23er 23-inch IPS LED Backlit Bezel-less Monitor - Deal Alert

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 10:16:00 -0800

IPS panel technology for ultra wide viewing, from almost any angle. 1920 x 1080 resolution for a sharp, detailed view. Bezel-less design maximizes your viewing area and makes for seamless multi-monitor set-ups. And LED backlighting enables high screen performance. Ultra slim and Energy-Star compliant design. The HP 23er 23-inch IPS LED backlit monitor is currently super-affordable ($119.99) with a 33% off deal happening now on Amazon, where it's averaging 4.5 out of 5 stars from over 270 reviewers. See the deal now on Amazon.

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Reports: Apple, Foxconn considering a $7 billion manufacturing plant in the U.S.

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 10:07:00 -0800

Apple is reportedly considering moving some of its iPhone production to the United States. Taiwanese iPhone producer Foxconn is considering a $7 billion joint investment in a display production facility, the company’s chairman told reporters.

According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou said “Apple is willing to invest in the facility together” because it needs display panels for its products. The plant could create 30,000 to 50,000 jobs.

But Gou said U.S.-made iPhones would likely cost more than those produced at Foxconn’s Zhengzhou, China facility, which churns out more than 100 million iPhones per year.

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Samsung pushes back Galaxy S8 release, promises a 'very innovative' Note 8

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 09:33:00 -0800

Now that the results of its investigation into the Galaxy Note7 fires has been completed and reported, Samsung can fully turn its attention to the launch of one of the most anticipated phones of the year, the Galaxy S8. But don’t get your hopes up just yet. It looks like it’s going to take a little longer than usual to arrive.

During an interview with Reuters following the announcement of the results of the probe into the Note7 batteries, Samsung mobile president DJ Koh said the Galaxy S8 would not be unveiled during its customary slot at the Mobile World Congress show next month. Rather, the company is taking a little longer with the production of its new handset as it implements an extensive set of testing to ensure the batteries are functioning normally.

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All new Chromebooks will get Android app support

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 08:14:00 -0800


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Sprint takes a 33 percent stake in Tidal

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 08:12:00 -0800

The music-streaming service will make exclusive content available to the mobile phone service’s customers.


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30 tasty tips for Android Nougat: Get more out of your Android phone

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 07:35:00 -0800

Mmm...Nougat. What better way to start a new year than with a fresh flavor for your favorite Android phone?

Google’s latest major Android release may have officially launched last fall, but if you’re like most folks, you’ll probably be getting your first taste of Nougat—also known as Android 7—in 2017. If you want timely Android updates, Google’s own Nexus and Pixel phones are the only way to go—all other devices depend on third-party manufacturers to prepare and provide rollouts. And as we see time and time again, that tends to result in slow and uncertain progress.

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Samsung details 8-point battery safety check for all new devices

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 07:33:00 -0800

Now that Samsung has finally come clean on the cause of the Galaxy Note7 fires that spawned a global recall and a months-long flight ban, the focus can finally turn from blame to prevention.

To safeguard against future issues, Samsung has implemented an 8-point Battery Safety Check Test, which “involves putting our batteries through extreme testing, inside and out, followed by careful inspection by X-ray and the human eye.” The extensive tests will be performed before all new devices that ship in an effort to create a new standard for battery safety.

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The Asus Tinker Board is a powerful Raspberry Pi rival that plays 4K video

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 07:12:00 -0800

Asus just jumped into the mini PC game with a solid choice for 4K video-capable entertainment computer.

The company is currently selling the Asus Tinker Board in the UK and Europe with prices starting around 46 pounds—about $57. That’s quite a bit more than the top-end Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, which has an MSRP of $35 but usually sells for around $40.

The 4K video support—including H.265 decoding—in Asus’ board is thanks to the Mali-T764 GPU lurking inside its quad-core, 1.8GHz Rockchip RK3288 SoC, as first reported by Hexus. In addition to 4K, the board also supports 192kHz/24-bit audio. The PC comes with 2GB of RAM, Bluetooth 4.0, four USB 2.0 ports, 1 HDMI out, microSD port, gigabit ethernet, and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. For hobbyists, the Tinker Board packs a 40-pin internal header with 28 GPIO pins, CSI port for the camera, and DSI port.

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Hugo Barra quits Chinese phone maker Xiaomi to return to Silicon Valley

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 07:07:00 -0800

Hugo Barra is returning to Silicon Valley, just over three years after he left Google to help turn Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi into a global company.

During Barra's time in Beijing, Xiaomi has grown far beyond its home market with its strategy of selling stylish Android phones on thin profit margins. In January, it made a splash at the CES trade show in Las Vegas, capping a series of international launches that had taken the company into over 20 countries, including India, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Russia, Mexico and Poland.

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Torment: Tides of Numenera preview: This is the bizarre follow-up Planescape deserves

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 07:00:00 -0800

Three hours disappeared.

That’s how it felt when I sat down to play Torment: Tides of Numenera recently. I was the last one scheduled to use the PC that inXile had set up in the corner, and so I was told I could play pretty much as long as I wanted.

I took full advantage of that offer, wending my way through half a dozen discreet stories in “The Bloom,” a massive slug-like organism that contains an entire city inside its stomach, itself stuffed with multiple political factions, a transdimensional marketplace, and “The Gullet”—a place where those who’ve fallen out of favor with the Bloom are slowly digested and then spat back out, body intact but their memories gone.

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Moving Steam games to a different folder or hard drive is finally easy

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 06:56:00 -0800

Valve’s added quite a few quality-of-life improvements to Steam in the past few years, including the ability to install multiple games at the same time, tagging games you already own in the store so you don’t try to buy them again, and adding controller support to every game.

But last week’s update will be particularly welcome news to anyone with multiple hard drives: You can now move a game’s install folder to a different Steam Library folder from within Steam itself.

Prior to now, you had one of two options: Either uninstall the game and reinstall it on a new drive or (smarter) move the game’s install folder manually by drag-and-dropping it into a different Steam Library folder.

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Samsung investigation blames Galaxy Note7 explosions on faulty batteries

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 06:04:00 -0800

Samsung Electronics on Monday blamed batteries supplied by two manufacturers for the overheating and even explosions of some Galaxy Note7 phones, as it tried to provide a long due explanation for the issues surrounding the smartphone.

The announcement by the company, a day ahead of it reporting its fourth quarter results, had experts from TUV Rheinland, Exponent and UL stating that internal manufacturing and design defects of the batteries, including missing insulating tape in some cases, and not the design of the phones were responsible for the battery issues.

The negative electrode windings in the battery of an unnamed “manufacturer A,” who first supplied the batteries for the Note7 phones, were found in some cases to be damaged and bent over because the cell pouch did not provide enough volume to accommodate the battery assembly, said Kevin White, Exponent’s principal scientist, at a press conference that was webcast.

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Can Google's new watches save Android Wear?

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 04:00:00 -0800

Google is set to release a pair of smartwatches alongside next month's release of Android Wear 2.0, and there's a lot riding on them.


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Nvidia Shield TV (second generation) review: This the best media streamer for geeks

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 04:00:00 -0800

The Nvidia Shield TV, a $200 Android-based streaming box with excessive processing power, appeals to a scattershot of audiences. It’s the ideal streamer for PC gamers who also want to play those games in their living room, for media hoarders who want to build a cheap a Plex server, for cord-cutters in search of over-the-air DVR solutions, for Kodi enthusiasts with that media center's morally dubious plug-ins, for 4K HDR TV owners who have an aversion to Roku, or for people who just want as much computing power as they can get.

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