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01/23/2018   PC World Latest News
Options abound for checking out all the championship action on whatever screen you choose.
01/23/2018   PC World Latest News
01/23/2018   PC World Latest News

If you didn't have a USB-C powered device last year, chances are you will before the end of 2018. That means you'll need Type-A  (i.e. standard USB) to Type-C cables to make all of your devices and chargers play nice with each other. Today, Aukey via Amazon is selling a three pack of 3-foot USB 3.0 Type-A to USB Type-C for $7.

The sticker price is $10, but if you click the rebate section underneath the price, then click Redeem, you'll see an option for "30% off 1 item(s)".

These cords have not been examined by Type-A to Type-C guru Benson Leung, but they are from a known company with many happy customer reviews and the right specs. In other words, these wires should be safe for all your USB-C electronics.

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01/23/2018   PC World Latest News

It’s a common complaint: My Windows PC is running slow. Annoyingly slow. You can add RAM, or buy a faster SSD, but that costs money. No, your first order of business should be an attempt to wring free performance from Windows. In the following nine steps we show you how to speed up your Windows 10 PC without spending a dime.

Be warned: There could be trade-offs. More speed could mean less battery life in the case of a laptop, or you may have to give up a beloved program that’s bogging things down. You’ll have to decide what sacrifices you’re willing to make in order to make your Windows PC faster.

1. Give it the reboot

If your PC is behaving horribly slow, try rebooting. Yes, it’s an obvious solution, but people tend to forget the obvious.

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01/23/2018   PC World Latest News

Intel is marketing its 760P NVMe SSD and cohort as “NVMe speed for not much more than the cost of SATA,” a slower and more affordable interface. That speed is exactly what you get the vast majority of the time. But on occasions when you copy more data than the drive’s caching system can hold, you also get sustained write speed that’s only a little faster than...SATA. Sorry, Intel brought it up.

The slowdown in sustained write speed, such as when you copy a Blu-ray movie rip or large game to the drive, won’t often affect you. Even when it does, the 760P’s write rate is hardly slow, and it still features the stellar read access times and queued I/O that makes NVMe so scintillating. But there’s a competitor that’s almost as affordable and doesn’t slow down quite as much—Plextor’s new M9Pe. We’ll be comparing the two in the performance section.

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01/23/2018   PC World Latest News

Amazon's Echo Spot brings you all the features of its Echo, with a screen for displaying weather forecasts, news updates, sports scores, song lyrics and much more. All you need to do is ask Alexa. It fits comfortably on a nightstand and works well as an alarm clock and bedside calendar as well. Watch videos, call your friends, control your smarthome -- new features are added all the time. Right now, if you buy two, Amazon will activate a $40 discount in your cart. See this deal now on Amazon.

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01/23/2018   PC World Latest News

In a world headed toward NVMe, the appearance of a new 2.5-inch SATA SSD such as the Samsung 860 Pro might seem a bit boring. But that’s ignoring the fact that there are untold millions of PCs with legacy SATA interfaces that deserve the new lease on life that replacing their hard drive with an SSD delivers--it makes that drastic a difference in feel and actual performance. To that end, the 860 Pro is quite likely the best SATA SSD for the job.

Design and features

If the traditional concerns about capacity and longevity have held you back from upgrading to an SSD, then you’re going to love the 860 Pro. It offers a whopping 4TB of capacity, but where the 850 Pro used more ephemeral 3-bit TLC V-NAND, the 860 Pro uses longer-lived 2-bit MLC V-NAND We’re guessing there are more layers in the stacked Samsung V-NAND, but this remained unconfirmed by Samsung at the time of this writing.

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01/23/2018   PC World Latest News

“What graphics card within my budget gives me the best bang for my buck?”

The answer is pretty much “none” in today’s wildly inflated market, but that simple question cuts to the core of what people hunting for a new graphics card look for: the most oomph they can afford. Sure, the technological leaps behind each new GPU can be interesting on their own, but most everyone just wants to crank up the detail settings on Far Cry and get right to playing.

Last updated 1/23/2018 to address astronomical graphics card prices and link to PCWorld’s guide on how to keep gaming in the coin mining era.

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01/23/2018   PC World Latest News

It's no surprise that coding is still one of the most valuable skill sets you can have in today's market. But, with more than 600 notable programming languages out there, deciding on that first one to learn can be daunting for the uninitiated. Hailed for its versatility and user-friendly nature, Python is a popular pick for beginners, and you can master its ins and outs with the Complete Python Programming Bundle, on sale for over 90% off.

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01/23/2018   PC World Latest News

When you find a good cable for a cheap price, it never hurts to grab it. Anker's USB-C to USB cables feature a double-braided nylon exterior, toughened aramid fiber core and laser-welded connectors, which Anker says makes them more reliable and longer lasting.  With this deal, you'll get two 6-foot cables for $9.49, which is a healthy discount from its average list price. See Anker's discounted cables now on Amazon, where they currently average 4.5 out of 5 stars from over 300 customers.

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01/23/2018   PC World Latest News
With the best features of the original Canary, the View is a solid security option with or without an All-In-One.
01/23/2018   PC World Latest News
Or anyone's smart home, for that matter.
01/23/2018   PC World Latest News

Acer's latest Chromebook, the Spin 11, takes aim at premium rivals like the Google PixelBook with features like USB-C connectivity and even a bundled stylus, but with a far more modest CPU and price.

The 11.6-inch Acer ChromeBook Spin 11 convertible will be sold in North America beginning in March. The two models, the CP311-1H and the CP311-1HN, will be priced as low as $349, although exact pricing for both models wasn't immediately available. (That leaves out at least one model, as there are three CPU options listed.) That's a bit more than Acer is asking for its more basic Chromebook 11 announced at CES, though you'll find a bit more under the hood.

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01/22/2018   PC World Latest News

Beginning in February, Microsoft plans to offer a new feature for young students: Immersive Reader dictation, a new feature within Office 365 apps for Windows and the Mac. As a parent of two elementary school students, though, I’m concerned that this feature—which brings smartphone-style voice dictation to traditional desktop apps—will be an unwelcome crutch.

It’s not just on Windows, either. Microsoft is pushing dictation onto Word for Mac, iPhone, Outlook Desktop, OneNote iPad, and OneNote Mac.

Even though I write about technology for a living, I’m sort of feeling my way through applying it toward parenting. Is a smart speaker an annoyance or a learning aid? Do I need to place hardwired parental controls on my kids’ screen time, or can I just check up on them? And when do I need to have “the talk” about using the computer to solve problems that my kids are struggling with? 

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01/22/2018   PC World Latest News

A pair of nasty CPU flaws exposed this week have serious ramifications for home computer users. Meltdown and Spectre let attackers access protected information in your PC’s kernel memory, potentially revealing sensitive details like passwords, cryptographic keys, personal photos and email, or anything else you’ve used on your computer. These are serious flaws. Fortunately, CPU and operating system vendors pushed out patches fast, and you can protect your PC from Meltdown and Spectre to some degree.

It’s not a quick one-and-done deal, though. They’re two very different CPU flaws that touch every part of your operating system, from hardware to software to the operating system itself. Check out PCWorld’s Meltdown and Spectre FAQ for everything you need to know about the vulnerabilities themselves. We’ve cut through the technical jargon to explain what you need to know in clear, easy-to-read language. We’ve also created an overview of how the Spectre CPU bug affects phones and tablets.

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01/22/2018   PC World Latest News
A boom in wireless security cameras is inspiring a movement in DIY home surveillance. Follow our buying guide and read our reviews to find the best option for you.
01/22/2018   PC World Latest News

Massive security vulnerabilities in modern CPUs are forcing a redesign of the kernel software at the heart of all major operating systems. Since the issues—dubbed Meltdown and Spectre—exist in the CPU hardware itself, Windows, Linux, Android, macOS, iOS, Chromebooks, and other operating systems all need to protect against it. And worse, plugging the hole can negatively affect your PC’s performance.

Everyday home users shouldn’t panic too much though. Just apply all—well, most—available updates and keep your antivirus software vigilant, as ever. If you want to dive right into the action without all the background information, we’ve also created a focused guide on how to protect your PC against Meltdown and Spectre.

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01/22/2018   PC World Latest News

Many people can relate to the scene from the movie “Office Space” when several employees take a baseball bat to an office printer.

Although the film made for a good laugh, challenges with office hardware and software do have a serious effect on the business. Ineffective tools and technology lead to frustration and, in many instances, result in employees disengaging. And worker disengagement is the last thing companies need, as digital transformation ups the competition ante. Organizations are depending heavily on employees to help them capitalize on the latest opportunities within the new digital economy.

What differentiates digital transformation from previous business trends is the focus on enabling engagement and enhancing the user experience. The new economy is fueled by organizations that have recognized the power of customizing to the customer.

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01/22/2018   PC World Latest News

Business is moving significantly faster, with the objective of continuously improving the customer experience. Because after all, engaging the customer means being able to compete and grow.

As a result, organizations are constantly looking for ways to empower users with access to the data they need to make quick and informed decisions no matter where they are — for example, in the office, at home, or at a customer’s or supplier’s location.

This is why enterprises are rapidly adopting cloud offerings. Doing so enables organizations to quickly realize new levels of agility, cost reduction, scalability, and flexibility — while putting data more effectively in the hands of users.

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01/22/2018   PC World Latest News

The firmware patches designed to protect Intel processors against nasty Spectre CPU exploits have a big downside: They’re forcing more frequent reboots and other performance issues on some systems, including PCs that released in 2017. The problem is severe enough that Intel is now recommending that users not install currently available patches and instead wait for new ones to be released.

“We have now identified the root cause for Broadwell and Haswell platforms, and made good progress in developing a solution to address it,” Intel executive vice president Navin Shenoy said in a January 22 post. “We recommend that OEMs, cloud service providers, system manufacturers, software vendors and end users stop deployment of current versions, as they may introduce higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behavior.” 

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01/22/2018   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft is continuing to push new Windows 10 PCs, plus its various Learning Tools as key differentiators in its quest for more share in the education space.
01/22/2018   InfoWorld Insider

If you looked at TensorFlow as a deep learning framework last year and decided that it was too hard or too immature to use, it might be time to give it another look.

Since I reviewed TensorFlow r0.10 in October 2016, Google’s open source framework for deep learning has become more mature, implemented more algorithms and deployment options, and become easier to program. TensorFlow is now up to version r1.4.1 (stable version and web documentation), r1.5 (release candidate), and pre-release r1.6 (master branch and daily builds).

The TensorFlow project has been quite active. As a crude measure, the TensorFlow repository on GitHub currently has about 27 thousand commits, 85 thousand stars, and 42 thousand forks. These are impressive numbers reflecting high activity and interest, exceeding even the activity on the Node.js repo. A comparable framework, MXNet, which is strongly supported by Amazon, has considerably lower activity metrics: less than 7 thousand commits, about 13 thousand stars, and less than 5 thousand forks. Another statistic of note, from the TensorFlow r1.0 release in February 2017, is that people were using TensorFlow in more than 6,000 open source repositories online.

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(Insider Story)
01/22/2018   InfoWorld Insider

You have three different choices for consuming REST APIs when working in the .Net Framework: WebClient, HttpClient, and HttpWebRequest. In this post we will look at these three ways we can access REST APIs from within the managed environment, i.e., without resorting to third-party libraries. In the sections that follow I will illustrate these approaches with relevant code examples to help you gain a better understanding of the concepts.

In a nutshell, WebRequest—in its HTTP-specific implementation, HttpWebRequest—represents the original way to consume HTTP requests in .Net Framework. WebClient provides a simple but limited wrapper around HttpWebRequest. And HttpClient is the new and improved way of doing HTTP requests and posts, having arrived with .Net Framework 4.5.

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(Insider Story)
01/18/2018   ZDNet Microsoft
January's release of Office 2016 for the Mac includes lots of new features. But more importantly, it now brings the underlying code base of Microsoft's various Office flavors into alignment.
01/18/2018   ZDNet Microsoft
Launched a year ago, Microsoft HealthVault Insights applications are being discontinued. But Microsoft continues to work on the intersection of AI and healthcare.
01/17/2018   InfoWorld Insider

Containers provide a lightweight way to take application workloads portable, like a virtual machine but without the overhead and bulk typically associated with VMs. With containers, apps and services can be packaged up and moved freely between physical, virtual, or cloud environments.

Docker, a container creation and management system created by Docker, Inc., takes the native container functionality found in Linux and makes it available to end-users through a command-line interface and a set of APIs.

Many common application components are now available as prepackaged Docker containers, making it easy to deploy stacks of software as decoupled components (the “microservices” model). That said, it helps to know how the pieces fit together from the inside out.

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(Insider Story)
01/16/2018   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft's latest Windows Server Insider test build, 17074, adds new Storage Spaces Direct capabilities, among a couple of other new features.
01/16/2018   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft's latest new feature for its OneDrive for Business cloud storage service, as of late this month, will be able to restore all file types and even an entire OneDrive if files get corrupted, deleted or infected.
01/16/2018   InfoWorld Insider

Cloud services are moving from the initial “we’re doing it because everyone else is” state to a more cautious, planned migration, one where IT departments have done a careful assessment of their needs and determined what to move to the cloud and what will stay on-premises.

Getting there takes some hard lessons. A study by IDG Research found that as much as 40 percent of workloads moved off the cloud and back to an on-premises setting. That’s because companies had the mistaken notion that they could move to the cloud and continue to operate like they could in their on-premises environment, when that is not the case.

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(Insider Story)
01/15/2018   InfoWorld Insider

ASP.Net Core is an open source, cross-platform, lean, and modular framework for building high-performance web applications. It is also extensible. When building an ASP.Net Core application, you can draw on various middleware components to customize the handling of requests and responses, and even inspect, route, or modify the request and response messages that flow through the pipeline. This article presents a discussion of ASP.Net Core middleware and how it can be used, with relevant code examples in C#.

Usually, you have a chain of middleware components in the application pipeline in ASP.Net Core. The ASP.Net Core request pipeline contains a series of request delegates that are invoked one after the other. Incoming requests flow through each of the middleware components in the pipeline, and each of these components can either process the request or pass the request to the next component in the pipeline.

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(Insider Story)
01/15/2018   InfoWorld Insider

SQL developers on every platform are struggling, seemingly stuck in a DO WHILE loop that makes them repeat the same mistakes again and again. That’s because the database field is still relatively immature. Sure, vendors are making some strides, but they continue to grapple with the bigger issues. Concurrency, resource management, space management, and speed still plague SQL developers whether they’re coding on SQL Server, Oracle, DB2, Sybase, MySQL, or any other relational platform.

Part of the problem is that there is no magic bullet, and for almost every best practice, I can show you at least one exception. Typically, a developer finds his or her own favorite methods—though usually they don’t include any constructs for performance or concurrency—and doesn’t bother exploring other options. Maybe that’s a symptom of lack of education, or the developers are just too close to the process to recognize when they’re doing something wrong. Maybe the query runs well on a local set of test data but fails miserably on the production system.

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(Insider Story)
01/11/2018   ZDNet Microsoft
More testers will be getting the 'Sets' feature as of Windows 10 'Redstone 4' test build 17074. There are other updates and tweaks in this Fast Ring build, too.
01/11/2018   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft has anointed Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, 1709 -- released last October to consumers -- as officially ready for business deployment.
01/11/2018   ZDNet Microsoft
Skype Insider testers on Windows Desktops, iOS, Android, Linux, and Mac can start testing Microsoft's end-to-end encrypted Private Conversations feature.
01/11/2018   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft is making generally available PowerShell Core 6.0, a version of PowerShell built on .NET Core that runs not just on Windows, but also macOS and Linux. But beware breaking changes.
01/11/2018   ZDNet Microsoft
Cortana's not going away, insist Microsoft executives, touting at CES 2018 a number of under-the-radar wins for Microsoft's digital assistant.
01/11/2018   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft Azure, not Windows, provides the underpinnings of Kohler's smart appliance platform which Kohler is unveiling at CES 2018.
01/10/2018   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft and Qualcomm announced at CES 2018 that they have lined up a handful of additional mobile operators which will support the coming Windows 10 on ARM PCs.
01/10/2018   InfoWorld Insider

No question about it: Python is a crucial part of modern data science. Convenient and powerful, Python connects data scientists and developers with a whole galaxy of tools and functionality, in convenient and programmatic ways.

Still, those tools sometimes come with a little—or a lot—of assembly required. Because Python is a general-purpose programming language, how it’s packaged and delivered doesn’t speak specifically to data scientists. But various folks have delivered Python to that audience in a way that’s prepackaged, with little to no assembly required—a project that regular Python users can benefit from, too.

Continuum Analytics’s Anaconda distribution is a repackaging of Python aimed at developers who use Python for data science. It provides a management GUI, a slew of scientifically oriented work environments, and tools to simplify the process of using Python for data crunching. It can also be used as a general replacement for the standard Python distribution, but only if you’re conscious of how and why it differs from the stock version of Python.

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(Insider Story)
01/08/2018   InfoWorld Insider

There comes a time in the life of many deep learning practitioners when they get the urge to build their own deep learning machine and escape the clutches of the cloud. The cloud is ideal for getting started with deep learning, and it is often the best answer for training large-scale deep learning models. But there is a vast area in between where having your own deep learning box can be significantly more cost-effective.

Not that it’s cheap. You will spend from $1,500 to $2,000 or more on a computer and high-end GPU capable of chewing through deep learning models. But if you’re doing extensive model training for days at a time, then having your own dedicated machine could pay for itself in three or four months—especially when you factor in cloud storage and ingress costs alongside compute time.

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(Insider Story)
01/08/2018   InfoWorld Insider

Design patterns are proven solutions to common software design problems. They provide the correct and tested solution for what is often encountered while designing software applications. The interpreter pattern is such a solution.

The Interpreter design pattern defined

The Interpreter design pattern lets you define your application's business rules as classes. You can take advantage of this design pattern to build domain-specific languages. The Interpreter design pattern is a behavioral pattern, specifying how the instances of classes should communicate; behavioral design patterns deal with object collaboration and delegation of responsibilities among objects.

The Interpreter design pattern is similar to the Composite design pattern. The Composite design pattern works like an Interpreter design pattern when the resulting hierarchical structure represents grammar: You have an interpreter that accepts a set of rules and interprets them. In essence, this pattern evaluates language grammar and expressions.

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(Insider Story)
01/05/2018   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft won't be integrating Cortana with its Dynamics 365 ERP/CRM services, after all. So far, at least, officials aren't saying why.
01/04/2018   ZDNet Microsoft
The Johnson Controls' GLAS smart thermostat runs Windows 10 IoT inside and works with Cortana, Microsoft's personal digital assistant technology.
01/04/2018   InfoWorld Insider

Until very recently, when you shopped for a database you had to choose: Scalability or consistency? SQL databases such as MySQL guarantee strong consistency, but don’t scale well horizontally. (Manual sharding for scalability is no one’s idea of fun.) NoSQL databases such as MongoDB scale beautifully, but offer only eventual consistency. (“Wait long enough, and you can read the right answer”—which isn’t any way to do financial transactions.)

Google Cloud Spanner, a fully managed relational database service running on Google Compute Engine (GCE) released in February 2017, has the scalability of NoSQL databases while retaining SQL compatibility, relational schemas, ACID transactions, and strong external consistency. Spanner is a sharded, globally distributed and replicated relational database that uses a Paxos algorithm for reaching a consensus among its nodes.

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(Insider Story)
01/03/2018   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft may be rallying to push its Microsoft Stream video service in calendar 2018 as part of its overall plan to try to make meetings better.
01/03/2018   ZDNet Microsoft
Microsoft plans to integrate Avere's file system and caching technologies for Windows and Linux clients with its Azure cloud.
01/03/2018   InfoWorld Insider

If you were a big company, you would probably run your cloud services on Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. Companies of any size can use them, of course. They make it easy to sign up, with free offerings and specialized tools that let you outsource everything from contact management to machine learning to IoT deployments. But if you are a small legal firm in Canada or a startup in Detroit, you might discover that these huge operations do not offer the sort of human attention you crave when it comes to running elements essential to the core of your business.

What are the chances, for example, that when you call Amazon, the person who picks up in the call center will know more about your business operations than the name and scant details that pop up on a screen? What are the chances that you will get to talk to the same person twice when you call, frantic and looking for not just help but also reassurance, in the middle of the night?

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(Insider Story)
01/01/2018   InfoWorld Insider

When designing applications, it is important to know when to use an abstract class and when to use an interface. Although abstract classes and interfaces seem similar in some ways, there are key differences that will determine which is the best choice for what you’re trying to accomplish. In this blog post I’ll discuss those differences and how to decide when to use which.

The short answer: An abstract class allows you to create functionality that subclasses can implement or override. An interface only allows you to define functionality, not implement it. And whereas a class can extend only one abstract class, it can take advantage of multiple interfaces. 

C# abstract class explained

An abstract class is a special type of class that cannot be instantiated. An abstract class is designed to be inherited by subclasses that either implement or override its methods. In other words, abstract classes are either partially implemented or not implemented at all. You can have functionality in your abstract class—the methods in an abstract class can be both abstract and concrete. An abstract class can have constructors—this is one major difference between an abstract class and an interface. You can take advantage of abstract classes to design components and specify some level of common functionality that must be implemented by derived classes.

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(Insider Story)
12/28/2017   ZDNet Microsoft
In spite of Microsoft's continued push to be a cloud-first/AI-first company in 2017, ZDNet readers still were Windows watchers, first and foremost.