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AV Linux Dazzles Both Eyes and Ears
May 08, 2014
AV Linux can turn a new or old PC, or an Intel-powered Mac box, into a workstation for audio/graphics/video enthusiasts. AV Linux is a specialty distro much in the style of the CAELinux distro for engineers and scientists and the Musix distro for audio and music production that I reviewed in recent weeks. AV Linux is not your typical Linux desktop. It has a custom-designed Linux kernel.
GitHub Unleashes Atom Into Open Source Realm
May 06, 2014
After launching its Atom text editor into beta back in February, GitHub on Tuesday announced that the software is now fully open source under the MIT License. "Much of Atom's functionality is provided by packages, and every Atom package has been open source since the day we launched the beta," explained GitHub developer Nathan Sobo. "Today, we're open sourcing the rest of Atom."
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.
Micro Brings 3D Printing to the Mainstream
April 09, 2014
The Micro is the latest consumer-targeted 3D printer to generate buzz after flying past its $50,000 Kickstarter goal. It took only 11 minutes for the printer to reach its goal. As of mid-day Wednesday, the Micro had brought in more than $1.8 million from more than 6,400 backers. The Micro is the world's "first truly consumer 3D printer," its makers claim, in part because of its affordable price.
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.
Dear Adobe: Make Software for Linux Too
February 18, 2014
What if commercial software developers for popular Windows products sold Linux versions to a waiting market of open source users? Think in terms of paying a subscription fee to use a Linux version of Adobe's Photoshop image manipulation software, for starters. Is porting commercial products like Photoshop as a paid product for Linux a viable idea?
Tech and the Art of Text
January 15, 2014
In 1999, Chris Baty was looking for inspiration to write a novel. He got together with some friends in coffee shops and started writing, with rewards of coffee for those who reached their word counts. It was the birth of National Novel Writing Month, which the following year would become NaNoWriMo, a Web-based community of writers who commit to writing a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.
NoSQL, Part 2: Grappling With Big Data
January 14, 2014
Back in 2009, SQL databases began emerging, mainly to handle modern Web-scale databases. They could handle massive amounts of data; tackle the exponential growth of newly created digital content from social media sites and websites; and help build value around data by connecting the dots -- no small task when a plethora of data is continuously being created.
All Things Appy: 5 Best Number-Crunching Apps for Firefox
January 10, 2014
When you need to deal with numbers, nothing beats the old PC, along with its full-sized screen, keyboard and browser. Firefox is a robust PC browser with numerous add-ons that's well-suited to mathematics. This week, we look at the top five best and must-have add-on apps for crunching operations in that browser. First up: Status-Bar Scientific Calculator, a calculator that lives in your status bar.
CrashPlan: A Good - but Not Perfect - Linux Backup Plan
January 09, 2014
CrashPlan is an automated backup system that does the job, but it's not without its pitfalls. The software offers a cross-platform backup solution that's reliably easy to use once you configure the software. Installing it to your Linux system, however, is anything but user-friendly. More than a few Linux users will emerge looking for a less-finicky solution.
App Answers Universal Question, 'Where'd My Money Go?'
January 08, 2014
Managing a household's expenses isn't the sexiest task in our lives. Nevertheless, it has to be done -- so why not add a dash of fun to it? That's what a program by Raj Kumar Shaw of iLifeTouch does for the chore. Called simply "Daily Expenses," the software -- available from the Mac App Store for $19.99 -- offers a streamlined and colorful way to keep tabs on family finances.
NoSQL, Part 1: Coming of Age
January 07, 2014
Amadeus, which handles bookings for 95 percent of flights worldwide, uses a variety of NoSQL databases to deal with the massive amounts of data that it handles. Amadeus enables 3.7 million bookings on more than 700 airlines, 110,000 hotel properties, and 30 rental car agencies each day. "NoSQL databases are part of our technology stack to deal with Big Data," said VP Dietmar Fauser.
Outline Sings Dandy OneNote Duet
January 06, 2014
Note-taking applications are very popular with many users, and that's probably why developers have flooded Apple's Mac App Store with those kinds of programs. A notable exception, though, has been Microsoft. That's not to say it has ignored the thirst of note-takers -- it makes a robust outline-notepad hybrid called OneNote. The thing is, it doesn't make it for the Mac.
Retiring in Sanctuary Belize: Tarnished Dreams
January 06, 2014
I've been executing on a long-term dream of retiring in Belize. I've been putting some rigor into the effort to make sure the perception of the dream doesn't outpace reality. I've often been brought in on projects that should have been shut down early, largely because executive staff had lost track of reality. I don't want to make the same mistake with this important project.
All Things Appy: Top 5 Cloud Storage Apps for Windows 8
January 03, 2014
Cloud storage is a fast-moving arena, with advancements including the ability to store files and folders in the cloud along with metadata on your PC replicating the actual file. The file isn't there and isn't taking up space, but you can see relevant attributes. Other cloud techniques include the ability to sync files only as you need them.
Security Firm Spills the Beans on Snapchat Vulnerabilities
December 28, 2013
After its discovery of a security hole in Snapchat was ignored for months, Gibson Security earlier this week released the API for the Snapchat application along with two exploits. One exploit lets hackers match phone numbers with Snapchat users' names en masse; the other enables hackers to create huge numbers of fake Snapchat accounts.
NewsBar Raises the Bar for RSS Readers
December 27, 2013
"Out of sight, out of mind" is an old saw that's absolutely true about RSS readers. Relegating RSS feeds to a tab in a Web browser, website or standalone application keeps news out of sight and consequently out of mind. NewsBar addresses that problem by placing a vertical bar on a Mac's display where feed headlines can be constantly seen and read.
All Things Appy: 5 Best Apps to Make the Most of Apple Sensors
December 27, 2013
Your Apple device is full of sensors, including a proximity sensor, an ambient light sensor, an accelerometer, a magnetometer and a gyroscopic sensor. Also included in these devices are radios, which aren't strictly sensors but which include the GPS for location services. In this week's All Things Appy, we take a look at the five best free apps for playing with sensors and sensor-like radios.
Nintendo Toys With Mobile-App Possibilities
December 21, 2013
Nintendo's Wii U hasn't exactly been the smash hit that the company had surely hoped, and a year after the console's debut Nintendo is reportedly exploring a future that could include mobile apps. With Angry Birds, Temple Run and other casual games dominating tablets and mobile phones, Nintendo faces increased competition in the mobile gaming space.
All Things Appy: Top 5 Android Apps for Outdoor Adventures
December 20, 2013
Accelerometers, GPS receivers and other sensors in your smartphone let you track your outdoor activities in ways that go beyond just the common map. In this week's All Things Appy, we take a look at the top five free apps for exploring, including options for fine-tuning your GPS, measuring headings and bearings, logging your tracks and reckoning distance.
Kazam Screen-Recording: Do Try This at Home
December 19, 2013
Kazam is a screencasting and screenshot application that shows much potential, but it is not yet fully suitable for anything more than personal use. Screen-recording tools are a step or two beyond single-frame screen-capture applications. Kazam performs both functions and can record input from the computer's microphone as well as from the speakers.
When Freemium's Good, It's Very Good and When It's Bad, It's Horrid
December 19, 2013
When I read a new report on app store trends for 2013 recently, my most irritating fear was confirmed: The freemium app business model has not only won the app sales model, it has handily crushed the paid app model -- squeezed it down into a tiny sliver of relative revenue. The results are so tilted that even more new apps will apparently be written entirely with the freemium model in mind.
'Anchorman' Scotchy Toss App Might Be Better After a Shot or 2
December 16, 2013
One of the best side effects of Apple's app ecosystem is spinoffs -- in addition to great games and apps for most everything imaginable, successful franchises can create apps to keep stoking the adoration of fans. If you haven't noticed the invasion of Duck Dynasty-branded merchandise in department stores everywhere, you might have stumbled upon the surprisingly delightful Battle of the Beards app.

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