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uGet Gives Great Downloads
April 17, 2014
The latest version of the uGet Download Manager rekindled my interest in grabbing files without relying on a Web browser. uGet version 1.10.4. was released last month. Written in C, it uses GTK+3 for its user interface, and it is packed full with improvements. It is very reliable and stable, with 11 years of growth behind it. The uGet website has received a makeover to better support users.
CAELinux Is the Ideal Distro for Designing Scientists
April 10, 2014
CAELinux is a perfect example of the power of open source to tailor the Linux OS to users' specialized needs. This computer-assisted engineering distro clearly is not for the vast majority of Linux users, but it certainly has all the features you would expect in any mature Linux OS -- and then some. The extra ingredients make CAELinux a unique Linux distro for engineers and scientists.
Amazon Fire TV Fails to Rage but Glows Hot
April 08, 2014
The Amazon Fire TV, available for $99 from Amazon, hasn't yet made any jaw-dropping leaps forward, but it is an excellent set-top box that, in some ways, breaks ahead of the Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Roku competition. There's a lot to explain here. First, the Amazon Fire TV isn't just another box that lets you stream movies and video to your living room HDTV. It's solid, svelte, sexy and fast.
Calligra 2.8 Is Too Sweet for Words Alone
April 03, 2014
If you spend any amount of time creating documents, graphics or organizing data into reports or visual presentations, drop whatever collection of tools you use and put the Calligra Suite to the test. The Calligra Suite is a forked set of office tools for the KDE desktop that branched off the stalled KOffice suite. However, you do not have to run the KDE environment to get it.
New Linux Office Suite Too Soft to Be King
March 27, 2014
The Kingsoft Office Suite holds the promise of bringing a near perfect clone of Microsoft Office to Linux desktop users. However, Kingsoft's developers still have some work to do on the Linux Alpha release to make it a beta deal. Other than OpenOffice and LibreOffice, the Linux platform lacks any full-featured office suite. Both of these more in common with each other than distinguishing features.
Linux Goes to the Head of the Class
March 21, 2014
A new book on open source education teaches school leaders and parents why kids need to see coding as more than cool. Energizing Education through Open Source: Using Open Source Software to Enhance Learning by Christopher Whittum makes a strong case for deploying the Linux OS and its academic software in schools. This book should be required reading for developing computer-driven curricula.
Android-x86 Just Might Make a Good Linux Desktop Alternative
March 20, 2014
Working with the Android OS on a desktop computer environment takes personal computing in a new direction. How many will follow it remains to be seen. The release of Android-x86 version 4.4-RC1 (KitKat-x86) by the Android-x86 Project brings the viability of an Android distro as an alternative desktop several steps closer, but it is still a work in progress.
NCAA March Madness Live App Is Crazy Good
March 20, 2014
I've known some diehard college basketball fans to take vacation days just to watch the popular NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, but lesser fans can sneak away to catch the action without camping on the living room couch: NCAA Digital has updated its NCAA March Madness Live iOS app for 2014. With it, you can live-stream 67 games as they are broadcast from CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV.
Super Joey Makes Dish Hopper a TV Junkie's Delight
March 14, 2014
How do you make Dish Network's Hopper HD-DVR system even better? Easy -- you supersize it. Introduced earlier this year at CES, Super Joey has officially arrived, and for TV fans it more than lives up to its "super" moniker. Utilizing the same Hopper and Sling technology as previous versions, it now increases the recording power. The Joey units are basically room extenders to the Dish set-top box.
Zorin OS 8 Makes Learning Linfastic
March 14, 2014
Zorin OS 8.0, released last month, is available in the free core and free education versions, as well as in a paid or ultimate version that provides support and a few other features. Though it is an interim upgrade, Zorin OS 8.0 has several very noteworthy changes and software improvements that make it worth using despite the shorter support period.
All Things Appy: Top 5 Artistic Apps for Chrome
March 13, 2014
Photography, film, music and fine art are all noble pursuits. In this installment of All Things Appy, we take a look at the five best free artistic apps for the Chrome Web browser. Geared toward image showcasing and display across the Chrome ecosystem, our first choice, the 500px app, lets you browse and search for 500px photography. No work involved -- it's for viewing.
Makulu Makeover May Give Your Linux Life a Lift
March 10, 2014
MakuluLinux was already a solidly performing distro, but the latest version, released last month, takes Makulu to the next level of usability and maturity. Earlier versions offered a choice of Xfce, KDE and Enlightenment 17 desktops. So far, only the Xfce version is available in MakuluLinux 5. However, the tweaking Makulu developer Jacque Raymer built into this upgrade makes up for any loss.
Sobell Compiles Top-Notch Practical Linux Guide
March 05, 2014
Not everyone who dabbles in the realm of the Linux OS needs all the enterprise-specific tutelage this guidebook offers. However, it certainly has chapters to enlighten even casual readers interested in learning really useful stuff. Sobell assembles in one spot his accumulated experience as a Linux expert and his keen insights about succeeding with two enterprise workhorse distributions.
Brian Cox's Wonders of Life Brings the Universe-Tromping Physicist Back to Earth
March 05, 2014
There are three elements that bring a great nature documentary to life: first, you need great video footage; second, you need to infuse the content with a sense of time, scope, and wonder; and third, you need a cool narrator. Brian Cox's Wonders of Life app delivers all three. I stumbled upon the app after Apple highlighted it as an Editor's Choice.
All Things Appy: 5 Cool Chrome Desktop Apps
February 28, 2014
Chrome apps are the newest form of extension and helper for the Chrome Desktop environment, and as of late last year, any computer, including Macs, could use them. Here are five recently updated free Chrome apps that are worth a look. All of them can be run offline, outside of the browser, on the desktop. In the top spot, Google's Keep app allows you to take notes in a Post-it note-like UI.
LaCie Fuel Is Much More Than a Run-of-the-Mill Portable
February 26, 2014
Cords have been the bane of digital life since the introduction of PCs. As wireless devices proliferated, though, the need for cords has declined, thanks to technologies like Bluetooth and WiFi. One product area where cords have been persistent, however, has been storage. Sure, the cloud has provided some relief, but local storage units often require a cord to tap into a wireless net.
Old-School Event Management Approach Hampers ETM
February 20, 2014
Etm, an acronym for "Event and Task Manager," is a very useful calendar and planning tool. However, it is a bit cumbersome to learn and far less convenient to use than alternatives. It has an intuitive task-entry format, once you learn its plain text shorthand. Etm stores events, tasks and other user-generated notes and data in text files. You can create, modify and view entries using two primary methods.
Distro Astro Is a Stunning Star Voyager
February 13, 2014
The Linux desktop offers distributions for many diverse interests and specialties. Distro Astro is for astronomy enthusiasts. The latest version, Distro Astro 2.0, is dubbed "Pallas." It was released Nov. 20, 2013, at the South East Asian Young Astronomers Collaboration conference in Bandung, Indonesia. It is a major upgrade focusing on refinements for professional astronomers.
Aqua Mail Pro Beats Native Android Email Hands Down
February 07, 2014
If you've been thinking that there must be a better way to handle email than the email client supplied natively in Android, I bring good news: There is, and it's called "Aqua Mail." As things are right now, my on-device solutions are a bit of a mess. I have my Gmail-produced work emails appearing in the Gmail client, while my personal, custom-domain email is housed in the Android-native client.
Lightworks Video Editor Pulls Plenty of Weight
February 06, 2014
Lightworks is a professional-grade nonlinear video editor now available for Linux. It is a cross-platform editor from a well-known player in the media market, so this first-time Linux release could be a big thing. Lightworks version 11.5 for Linux was released late last month, following three years of development. Linux users now can download a free version or pay for a Pro version.

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