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Preview: Today @ PC World

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Published: Fri, 15 Dec 2017 08:08:17 -0800

Last Build Date: Fri, 15 Dec 2017 08:08:17 -0800

 



Farewell, AIM: AOL Instant Messenger has signed off permanently

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 06:37:00 -0800

It’s the end of an era that realistically ended a decade ago. On Friday, AOL shut down AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) permanently. Plans for its death were first announced in October.

When I heard the news, my mind flashed back to the boxes full of America Online CDs in every store, to the dubstep-like beeps and boops of a 28.8K modem connecting to the Internet, and AIM chat rooms providing a real-time connection with people around the world long before social networks accomplished the same task.

But the rise of social networks like Facebook and Whatsapp were the final nail in AIM’s coffin. The company acknowledges that the times aren’t just a-changing now that we’re in the smartphone era—they’ve already been altered forever. “AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed,” wrote Michael Albers, VP of communications at Oath (the Verizon brand that gobbled up AOL).

To read this article in full, please click here


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Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 64 Limited Edition review: Taming Vega's flaws with brute force

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 06:00:00 -0800

Four long months after AMD’s flawed Radeon Vega graphics cards launched, custom versions are finally starting to trickle out—and the wait was worth it. The monstrous, yet luxurious Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 64 Limited Edition relies on brute force to squash the most troubling problems that plague reference Vega cards. This beast sports the most wildly effective cooler to ever cross our test bench, and it manages to toss in a factory overclock while providing impressive tools for enthusiasts to push performance even further.

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How Microsoft is wading into 'fake news' with Bing opinion-based search results

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 03:30:00 -0800

On Wednesday, Microsoft told a roomful of journalists that, on Bing, “alternative facts” would be considered the equivalent of the Washington Post.

Sure, that’s just my opinion. But that’s also the new approach that Bing’s rolling out over the next week: striking out beyond facts into a brave new world in which opinions matter, too. Eventually, Bing will respond to certain questions with answers that represent both sides of an issue, not just a list of search results. One of those new voices will be Reddit, a popular online community with millions of contributors.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Bosch Connected Control BCC100 Wi-Fi thermostat review: Pretty to look at, easy to program

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 03:00:00 -0800

It’s not as slick as some of its competitors, but it can control the humidifiers and dehumidifiers others don’t.


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Star Wars gift guide: Top picks for fans who are tech geeks

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 03:00:00 -0800

You need this Star Wars gift guide. There’s no way any human could navigate the millions of Star Wars-themed items available, thanks to Disney’s merchandising-industrial complex. But you want this Star Wars gift guide, too, if you are (or you’re shopping for) a Star Wars fan who’s also a tech geek.

“Tech geek” describes 100 percent of the staff at PCWorld, and as for Star Wars...well, I saw Episode IV more than 24 times in the first year (yes, I lost count), Episode V 14 times in the first year, and Episode VI 8 times (blame the Ewoks). Just call me OG Star Wars. Meanwhile, my esteemed colleague Gordon Mah Ung has three replica lightsabers, including one he gave to his wife for their first wedding anniversary. Awwww!

To read this article in full, please click here


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The best video editing software: Reviews, buying advice, and more

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 21:50:00 -0800

Video editing software ranges from free versions that are pretty bare-bones to feature-packed prosumer versions. Indeed, they vary as much as the reasons why people take up video editing—whether to make home videos, to become YouTube stars, to create VR experiences, and more.

Most video editing software for consumers and mainstream users is best used for one or another of these specific functions, but there are a few generalists out there, too. We look at the full spectrum: Free video editing software; paid consumer video editing programs that cost $80 or less; and soon, "prosumer" versions that offer deeper feature sets for high purchase prices. 

To read this article in full, please click here


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BrandPost: Tomorrow’s workforce, today. Orchestrated by CDW.

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 17:30:00 -0800

How we work and where we work are changing. If handled properly, the opportunities are endless. If not, productivity is sure to plummet. At CDW, we can help you harness the latest in mobility and collaboration to allow both workforce flexibility and organizational agility.

Minnesota Wild Retools Tech for the Ultimate Fan Experience

The National Hockey League's Minnesota Wild updated the technology at their arena, the Xcel Energy Center, with one goal in mind: to create a better fan experience. The team is focused on engaging with fans and helping them interact with each other and brands during the games, and is using new technology platforms, especially for its core and Wi-Fi networks, to help enable that. 

To read this article in full, please click here


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BrandPost: Less-risky business. Orchestrated by CDW.

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 17:24:00 -0800

Evolving attacks. Scattered endpoints. Strained resources. Risks are changing, and you need to be prepared for anything. We can help you build a holistic solution that combines strategy and technology to keep your data accessible and secure.

Lessons learned from 4,000 security assessments conducted by CDW can prepare your IT troops to address common vulnerabilities. CDW has been in the IT security trenches for decades. Any organization can apply the lessons our experts have learned to fundamentally shift its approach to security. The infographic below shows how.

(image) CDW

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Windscribe Pro review: It's all about the extras

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 14:22:00 -0800

Windscribe in brief:

P2P allowed: Yes, on most servers

Number of servers: 321

Business location: Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada

Number of country locations: 50

Cost: $49 billed annually

Metropolitan Toronto is something of a VPN hub these days. We’ve already looked at TunnelBear and recent Symantec acquisition SurfEasy, both based in Toronto. Now it’s time to look at Windscribe, a capable VPN based just outside of Canada’s largest city.

To read this article in full, please click here


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BrandPost: Stronger Connections, Orchestrated by CDW

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 13:41:00 -0800

From shoppers and patients to students and constituents, client satisfaction is key. And technology is key to client satisfaction. We can help you develop a client-centric approach to IT that increases engagement, retention and your competitive advantage.

One example:

Every great musical composition has at least two components to make it come to life: talented musicians and top-notch instruments. The same is true of a K–12 classroom, where lessons sometimes are only as solid as the methods and tools used to teach them.  

Imagine the classroom as an orchestra, with the teacher as the conductor. Each child has individual learning needs met by a personalized learning model, which means it doesn’t matter what types of instruments these little maestros are playing — the conductor is prepared to help them harmonize and play a beautiful melody together by teaching them as individuals first.

To read this article in full, please click here




FCC votes to kill net neutrality in an unsurprising move. What happens now?

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:04:00 -0800

That noise you just heard was the sound of millions of modems across the U.S. crying. As expected, the FCC just voted 3-2 to kill its own net neutrality rules, and the Internet as we know it could be forever changed.

Under the current net neutrality rules (classifying ISPs under Title II of the Communications Act), which were only just enacted in 2015, Internet service providers are required to deliver all online content with the same speed and accessibility, meaning they can’t charge more for faster Netflix speeds or restrict YouTube access. There are particular exceptions for medical services, public safety communications, and other data that is deemed to be in the public good.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Microsoft knocks $550 off the fantastic Dell XPS 13 as last-minute PC deals get crazier

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:29:00 -0800

Though Microsoft is actively encouraging you to buy its Surface Pro (2017) tablet at $200 off, an even better deal lies behind the scenes: a whopping $550 off the top-rated Dell XPS 13 9360, knocking the price down to $749. 

Both are part of Microsoft’s 12 Days of Deals

By far the most compelling offer is the Dell XPS 13 9360, which we considered a great deal when it was selling for $999 just last week. (In Gordon Mah Ung’s XPS 13 9360 review (4.5/5 stars), he calls the 8th-gen Core laptop the “best one yet.”)

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Save Hundreds On The 2018 CompTIA Security Certification Bundle (95% Off)

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:24:00 -0800

The world is becoming more connected on the digital plane, and as such, hackers and cybercriminals look to exploit these massive networks for vulnerabilities. That's why demand is high for IT experts versed in the fields of cybersecurity—but only if they bear the appropriate certifications. With the 2018 CompTIA Security Certification Bundle, you can fast-track yourself to join their in-demand ranks by preparing to ace three leading IT certification exams—and for a fraction of the usual cost.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Oppo UDP-205 Ultra-HD Audiophile Blu-ray player review: Audiophile sound and price tag (plus Dolby Vision)

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:50:00 -0800

With 32-bit DACs and other upscale components, you won't hear better analog audio from an Ultra HD Blu-ray player. It's also the first player we've tested to support Dolby Vision 4K UHD discs.


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Amazon is selling the Ecobee4 at its Black Friday price

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:21:00 -0800

If you missed the Ecobee4 sale the first time around, Amazon has you covered. Today the retailer is selling the Ecobee4 for $200. That's the same price we saw at Lowe's and others (including Amazon) on Black Friday. Usually this latest model of the Ecobee sells for the MSRP of $249.

The big change with the Ecobee4 compared to its predecessor is built-in Alexa Voice Service. Prior to this, the Ecobee integrated with Alexa devices like most other smart home devices. With Alexa built-in, you can use the smart thermometer to get news, set timers, and many of the other things you can ask of an Echo device. The Ecobee4 works with the Google Assistant if you've got a Google Home device, too.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Save 50% on the TP-LINK Wi-Fi Smart Plug, Works with Amazon Alexa - Deal Alert

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 06:22:00 -0800

The TP-LINK HS100 smart plug is quite simply a power outlet that you can control from anywhere. Using your smartphone, you can turn devices on & off, set programs to turn them on & off at set times while you're away, or engage a "countdown timer" which powers the switch off after a set amount of time. Installation is simple -- just plug a device into your smart plug and connect to your wifi network. The HS100 is also compatible with Amazon Alexa, for voice control. Buy multiple plugs and get creative.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Star Wars: Battlefront II - Resurrection review: A disappointing end to Iden Versio's story

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 06:00:00 -0800

It doesn’t get any better. That’s all you really need to know about this week’s Star Wars: Battlefront II mini-expansion. Timed to land alongside The Last Jedi’s theater release, it’s the first bit of post-launch content for Battlefront II and adds stuff that’s theoretically tied to the movie—meaning Finn and Captain Phasma as heroes, plus a new ground map set on the planet Crait (which given the loot crate controversy is a pretty ironic name) and new space battle map set around D’Qar.

To read this article in full, please click here


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iMac Pro first look: Apple’s most powerful Mac is a multiprocessing beast

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 05:30:00 -0800

Made for video editing, 3D graphics, VR, and software development, Apple's new pro Mac is an engineering feat.


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Samsung's Notebook 9 Pen is ready for your scribbles, drawings and more

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 04:11:00 -0800

Samsung's Notebook 9 Pen is a slender 360-degree laptop that's committed to the stylus way of doing things. Of course there's a keyboard, but this convertible laptop wants to make it easy for you to scribble, tap, and create with your hand.

Announced Wednesday night, the Notebook 9 Pen and several other Notebook 9 models will ship in Korea first, then the United States in the first quarter of 2018. Prices were not disclosed. 

Why this matters: Samsung announced the Notebook 9 Pen and several other laptops on Wednesday night to get ahead of the news deluge at CES. Samsung is a relatively small player in the huge U.S. PC market, so every model counts. By focusing on pen input for the Notebook 9 Pen and a few other models, it has a chance of attracting stylus enthusiasts.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Excel functions: 7 ways to use Text functions to manage data

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 03:30:00 -0800

Excel’s Text functions are a major time saver if your job entails managing massive data, especially data that’s imported from other sources. Fortunately, all ASCII data is easily imported, but the format of that imported data can vary drastically from one source to another.

For example, fields may be delimited, such as  with tabs, spaces, commas, or periods. Aany other characters are all preferable to spaces. That’s because spaces not only exist in between fields, they also separate words within the fields, which makes sorting out the fields a real challenge. That’s where the following Text functions are very helpful.

A. Use the SUBSTITUTE function to replace one string of text with another

Function syntax: The syntax (or sentence structure) of the SUBSTITUTE function is this:

To read this article in full, please click here


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Verizon's free NFL streaming deal is good for cord cutters—but there's a catch

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 03:00:00 -0800

NFL games will be free to stream on smartphones next year, but watching on TV could still cost you.


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Microsoft's path to a smarter Bing and Cortana includes tapping Reddit users' opinions

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 14:30:00 -0800

Microsoft’s Bing search engine and Cortana digital assistant might not change that much from day to day, but behind the scenes they’re getting smarter—integrating factual insights from more sources, including the opinions of Reddit users.

At an AI-focused event in San Francisco, Microsoft showed off a number of improvements, all geared towards increasing the “intelligence” of Bing, Cortana, and Microsoft Office. 

Why this matters: Calling out some of these behind-the-scenes upgrades helps Microsoft demonstrate its unique attributes, and thus relevance, among the competing AI-based platforms of Amazon, Apple, and Google.

(image) Microsoft

Bing already lets you comparison shop for similar items across the web. Now you can isolate an object in a photo and shop for it.

To read this article in full, please click here


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BuyDig has a 27-inch 4K monitor with FreeSync for $350

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:24:00 -0800

This holiday season you can give the gift of 4K FreeSync gaming, thanks to a deal at BuyDig today. The online retailer is selling the HP Envy 27-inch 4K monitor for $350 when you use coupon code c11710154586 (via SlickDeals).

This IPS display has a 4K UHD resolution of 3840x2160, a 60Hz refresh rate, and a native response time of 14 milliseconds. On the back, it has one DisplayPort 1.2, one HDMI 2.0, one HDMI 1.4, and one USB-C port. It also has a "micro-edge bezel" to minimize distractions for gamers who go for multi-monitor setups.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Try VR for cheap: Windows Mixed Reality headsets are on sale for nearly half off today

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:27:00 -0800

If you’re interested in trying out Windows Mixed Reality headsets, the time is now. They’re basically half off on the eighth day of Microsoft’s 12 Days of Deals, with savings up to $200 on three separate headsets.

The Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset (normally $399, now $199), the HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset (normally $449, now $249), and the Lenovo Explorer Windows Mixed Reality Headset (normally $399, now $199) are at heavy discounts. The higher-resolution Samsung HMD Odyssey Windows Mixed Reality Headset still commands a premium. It’s on sale too, but only $50 off at $449. All of the deals include a pair of bundled controllers.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Pay what you want for 65+ hours of in-depth ethical hacking training

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:03:00 -0800

Cybercriminals are getting smarter, and companies and individuals alike stand to lose in the event of a cyberattack. That's why demand for ethical, or white hat, hackers is skyrocketing. Skilled in the ways of breaching networks and stealing information, these experts use their knowledge for good—safeguarding networks from attack and keeping everyday users safe. And with the Pay What You Want: The Ultimate White Hat Hacker 2018 Bundle, you can become one for a price you get to choose. 

To read this article in full, please click here


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New Amazon Echo Discounted $20 Right Now - Deal Alert

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 05:59:00 -0800

Amazon has a discount of $20 active right now on their all new Echo smart speaker, which features a new speaker, new design, and is available in a range of styles including fabrics and wood veneers. Echo connects to Alexa to play music, make calls, set alarms and timers, ask questions, control smart home devices, and more --
instantly. Echo averages 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon from over 2,200 reviewers, and with the current discount you can grab it for yourself (or someone else) now for just $79.99. See the discounted Echo deal now on Amazon.

To read this article in full, please click here


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Logitech MX Sound 2.0 Bluetooth Speakers review: premium PC speakers burdened by average audio

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 03:30:00 -0800

Logitech’s MX Sound 2.0 Bluetooth speakers join products including the MX Master mouse, Craft keyboard, and Brio webcam in the company’s premium computer accessory line. At $99, they’re a not-unreasonable upgrade over your PC’s speakers that can double as audio output for your mobile devices, but ultimately their sound performance left us a bit underwhelmed.

Though they’re described as Bluetooth speakers, they are clearly designed for the desktop. Each of the 6.3 x 6.3 x 3.8-inch (HWD) cabinets has a rear-facing bass port that does double-duty as a stand. These give the speakers a 10-degree backward tilt that purportedly puts the listener in an audio sweet spot when they’re sitting at a computer.

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Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming Laptop review: The discrete GPU is the star of the show

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 03:00:00 -0800

Dell’s Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming Laptop has a little secret that’s good news for budget-minded gamers. It’s hard to tell from the product information online, but one GPU option for this laptop is Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q. Max-Q GPUs manage performance closely to balance heat and noise, allowing powerful chips to go into lighter, slimmer, quieter laptops. The Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming Laptop offers Max-Q in a SKU that supports 1080p gaming and comes in just under $1,000. It’s a great value.

(image) Adam Patrick Murray

Dell’s New Inspiron 15 7000 gets you to GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q levels for a scant $1,000.

To read this article in full, please click here


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How to fix your Wi-Fi network

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:19:00 -0800

Wi-Fi is everywhere and built into everything. It’s like oxygen for internet access, media streaming, gaming, and all types of networking. And it should just work all the time—right? If you’ve had an average experience with Wi-Fi on mobiles devices, laptops, game systems, and more, you know that while a solid Wi-Fi connection might be the norm, those times when it’s not can leave you tearing your hair out.

In this article, I look at a number of common scenarios that cause Wi-Fi problems and how to solve them, whether you’re running your own network or trying to connect to someone else’s using any platform.

To read this article in full, please click here


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