Thursday, September 22, 2016

Read Early iPhone 7 Reviews, Netflix Fights to End Data Caps

Read early reviews of the new iPhone 7, Netflix fights back against data caps, Instagram lets you block certain words, Sony releases a major PS4 update, and people still queue for days for the new iPhone.

An Early iPhone 7 Reviews Roundup

As you’re no doubt aware by now, Apple unveiled the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus last week. To the surprise of no one, the company removed the headphone jack, forcing users to either buy an adapter or buy a pair of AirPods, which almost everyone agrees look ridiculous.Everything You Need to Know About the iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus Everything You Need to Know About the iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 PlusNo headphone port, water and dust resistance, and Apple's best camera yet -- this is the iPhone 7.READ MORE
Still, headphone jack or not, the iPhone 7 deserves some thorough reviews, so we have compiled the highlights from the first four reviews to appear online.
Wired calls the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus the “best, fastest, strongest iPhones yet”. It then praises the new A10 processors and 12-megapixel cameras before admitting that Apple’s recent decisions make “for boring hardware”. Wired closes by suggesting that while “the iPhone 7 won’t blow your mind with its design or features … it’s still a fantastic phone”.
The Verge admits that “the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus look more or less exactly like the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus from 2014”. It then talks up the new Taptic Engine-enabled Home button, the improved display, and the better speakers. However, the decision to remove the headphone jack disappoints, and The Verge concludes that “you won’t actually be missing out on much if you don’t get an iPhone 7”.
Engadget suggests the “big question here is whether a bunch of relatively unexciting changes add up to greatness”. It then praises the battery, the display, the camera, and the chipset, but mourns the loss of the headphone jack and expresses disappointment at the unchanged aesthetics. Engadget concludes that, “while it’s not thrilling enough to warrant an upgrade from last year’s 6s, the iPhone 7 is nonetheless an excellent smartphone”.
Ars Technica reveals its feeling in its header, suggesting the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are “great annual upgrades with one major catch”. There are no prizes for guessing what the catch is, with the fateful decision to force everyone to go wireless costing Apple dear. Still, there’s praise for the processor, battery, display, camera, and added water-resistance, suggesting Ars Technica believes it ultimately depends what matters most to you as a consumer.
To sum all of that information up, most of the reviews are positive to a point. That point being the removal of the headphone jack. If it wasn’t for that, these reviews would be extolling the virtues of an incremental, if not deathly dull, upgrade to what was already a fine piece of hardware.

Netflix Wants Data Caps to be Illegal

Netflix is fighting for some data caps to be made illegal. According to Gizmodo, the streaming service wants the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to ban all data caps on wired internet connections, and “low” data caps on mobile internet connections. It essentially argues that these are just ways of gouging customers.
In a letter sent to the FCC last week, Netflix states:
“Data caps (especially low data caps) and usage based pricing discourage a consumer’s consumption of broadband and may impede the ability of some households to watch internet television in a manner and amount that they would like.”
So, Netflix’s motives aren’t exactly pure here; the company is primarily looking out for itself and its ability to keep streaming movies and TV shows to its customers. However, in arguing that data caps “do not appear to serve a legitimate purpose,” it’s opening an important debate that needs to be had at a time when everybody is cutting the cord.Everyone Else Is Cutting the Cord, So Why Aren't You? Everyone Else Is Cutting the Cord, So Why Aren't You?I cut the cord back in 2013 and more and more people are following suit, completely ditching their cable service. But not everyone is cutting the cord, and we decided to find out why...READ MORE
Data caps are, at best, pointless, and at worst, a way for ISPs to maintain control over exactly what is travelling through their tubes. Netflix’s business is wholly reliant on consumers being able to watch what they want when they want, so it’s no surprise to see the company taking such a tough stance against data caps.

Instagram Lets You Filter Nasty Words

Instagram is taking a novel approach to tackling online abuse: allowing users to filter out particular words, and block comments which contain them. The photo-sharing app has provided a list of default words it recommends you filter, or you can create your own list of words you consider harmful or offensive.5 Most Effective Ways To Deal With Arrogant Internet Trolls 5 Most Effective Ways To Deal With Arrogant Internet TrollsThe Internet is without doubt a great invention. Unfortunately, no one so far has been able to develop and anti-troll device that will help to make it a more civilized place. You might have come...READ MORE
Instagram’s keyword moderation tool is being provided in addition to, rather than instead of, the existing tools designed to keep Instagram free of spam and abuse. The difference is that while the existing tools allow you to delete, report, and/or block after the event, the keyword moderation tool should prevent you ever seeing the comments in the first place.
All you need to do to enable the filtering is click Options, then Comments, and flick the Hide Inappropriate Comments slider. Underneath this you can add more keywords you deem to be harmful; which may become necessary if trolls quickly cotton on to what words and phrases can bypass the filter unchecked.

The PS4 Gets a New HDR-Friendly Update

Your PlayStation 4 is due to get a major firmware update today (September 13). The PS4 System Software Update 4.00 (codenamed Shingen) refreshes the UI, adds folders, changes to the Quick Menu and Share Menu, and HDR (High Dynamic Range) capabilities, amongst others.
The latter is especially interesting, as it means your existing PS4 will be capable of displaying improved visuals on compatible games, just like the new PS4 Pro. Not all games will look better, but there’s an easy way to determine which PS4 games support HDR.PS4 Pro & PS4 Slim: Are They Worth the Money? PS4 Pro & PS4 Slim: Are They Worth the Money?Sony has announced their new PS4 Pro and PS4 Slim! But are either of them worth the money? Here are all the details you need to know!READ MORE

People Are Queuing for the iPhone 7

And finally, people are already queuing up outside Apple Stores waiting for the iPhone 7 to be released. There have been lines outside flagship stores around the world since Saturday (September 10) even though the iPhone 7 isn’t released until Friday (September 16).
Long lines of people queuing for the latest gadgets are nothing new, of course, having been a thing since the original iPhone was released in 2007. However, it’s now 2016, and you can pre-order the latest iPhone online for delivery in-store or at home. Which means these people are literally allWASTING THEIR TIME!Why You Should Never Queue For New Gadgets [Opinion] Why You Should Never Queue For New Gadgets [Opinion]I personally cannot fathom the mindset of people who queue for the latest gadget on launch day. I've tried, I really have, but I think it's a bizarre choice to queue up for hours or...READ MORE

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

After reading the reviews, will you be buying an iPhone 7? Do you agree with Netflix that data caps should no longer be a thing? Will you be filtering any words from Instagram? Will you be taking advantage of the PS4’s new HDR capabilities? What was the last piece of technology you queued up for?
Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome. Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.

6 Things That Ubuntu Does Better Than Windows

We all love Windows, right? It’s a great operating system, there’s no doubt about that. However, what if I told you that Ubuntu was better? You may laugh and think that nothing could possibly be better than your beloved Windows, but in this article we’re going to look at 6 reasons why Ubuntu is better than Windows.
Some of you may think that Ubuntu is just for nerds, and that the average user wouldn’t be able to use it. So how on earth could it be better than Windows? Well the truth is that Ubuntu is not that difficult to use, in fact, it’s actually just as easy as Windows to use, if not easier in some respects. So then, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why Ubuntu is better than Windows.7 Linux Misconceptions Debunked 7 Linux Misconceptions DebunkedNot that many people use Linux. True or false? Let's face it, there are so many misconceptions about Linux, it's time to start addressing them. Let's debunk a few, one by one.READ MORE

1. OS and Software Updates

Imagine the scenario: you sit down to do some work at your Windows PC, and just after getting stuck in to that important document you need to type up, you get a popup asking you to update Windows. Being the dutiful, security conscious user that you are, you decide to update and reboot your machine.
Fast forward another 10 minutes, you’re settling in again and wouldn’t you know it, Apple now pops up and lets you know that there is an update for their software also. Annoying? Yes!
Windows Updates Popups
You see, this is because Windows handles its operating system and application updates separately. So you will receive popups for different applications as and when they need updating. This makes the whole process very frustrating, to the point were many people just turn them off.
Ubuntu Software Updater
Ubuntu is different. Everything is done via repositories and it uses a dedicated update manager to update both the operating system and all of the applications installed. So you only ever have to manage your updates from one place. This makes the process far slicker and means users tend not to  turn them off — which means you are more secure. Speaking of which…

2. Computer Security

Windows has a number of security features that you can use to help secure your system, but there’s no getting away from the fact that Ubuntu is more secure than Windows.7 Windows 10 Security Features & How to Use Them 7 Windows 10 Security Features & How to Use ThemWindows 10 is all about security. Microsoft recently instructed its partners that in sales, Windows 10's security features should be the primary focus. How does Windows 10 live up to this promise? Let's find out!READ MORE
User accounts within Ubuntu have far fewer permissions by default than in Windows. This means that if you want to make a change to the system — like installing an application — you need to enter your password to do it. In Windows, you don’t. This makes it much more difficult to execute malware or a virus inside Ubuntu.
Ubuntu is also a lot less popular than Windows. That means that the bad guys who make all the viruses don’t really care about it, so they don’t bother writing much malware for Ubuntu: that’s great news for us users!
Also, a lot of the bad guys use Linux distributions like Ubuntu themselves, so although Ubuntu isn’t impervious to virus’, it’s a lot less likely that you will get infected. It’s unlikely, but not impossible, which is why you should always use anti-virus software in Ubuntu.The 4 Best Free Linux Anti-Virus Programs The 4 Best Free Linux Anti-Virus ProgramsREAD MORE
ClamAV Virus Scanner

3. Desktop Customization

There isn’t that much you can do with Windows when it comes to customization. Windows 10 gives more customization options than previous versions, but it’s still nowhere near that of Ubuntu.10 Quick Ways to Customize & Personalize Windows 10 10 Quick Ways to Customize & Personalize Windows 10Not all of Windows 10's default settings will float your boat. We show you all the possible ways to customize Windows 10 in a simple, step-by-step guide.READ MORE
You’re pretty much limited to changing your wallpaper and start menu colors in Windows, but in Ubuntu any aspect of the desktop can be easily changed. Want the window buttons on the right? No problem. Don’t like the icons? It’s easily fixed. Maybe the Ubuntu fonts don’t float your boat? Say no more!
The screenshot below is my Ubuntu 16.04 desktop. The changes I have made took around 5 minutes to apply and it looks very different from a stock install.
Ubuntu 16.04 Desktop

4. System Resources

Not everyone can afford an all-singing, all-dancing computer. So for some, the latest version of Windows may be out of their budget. However, the latest version of Ubuntu need not be.
On a test machine, I ran stock Ubuntu and stock Windows 10, and as you can see from the results below Windows 10 used almost double the amount of RAM as Ubuntu. Now that might not seem like a big difference, as this test machine has 8 GB RAM. But if your machine has 2 GB of RAM, that would mean that you have 60% of your RAM utilized in Ubuntu, or 90% utilized in Windows 10 and that’s before you start opening applications.
Windows 10 System Resources
Ubuntu System Resources
If your machine has even less resources than this, then there are lightweight versions of Ubuntu and Linux available that use even less system resources. This means that your computer could last years longer than you thought it would.LXQt: A Lightweight Linux Desktop Environment Built With KDE Technologies LXQt: A Lightweight Linux Desktop Environment Built With KDE TechnologiesDo you like the look of KDE, but wish it were less resource-hungry? With LXQt, your wish has finally been granted.READ MORE

5. Live Environment

If you haven’t used Windows before and decide you want to give it a try, you have to commit to installing it on your machine beforehand. That could lead to problems such as data loss, if you later decide you don’t like Windows.
That’s not the case in Ubuntu.
In Ubuntu — and many other Linux distributions — you can burn the image to a CD, or write it to a USB stick and boot it up straight from that media. This is a fully working version of the operating system, which means you can try every aspect of Ubuntu without having to commit to installing it on your hard drive.5 Best Linux Distros for Installation on a USB Stick 5 Best Linux Distros for Installation on a USB StickUSB drives are great, not just for installing portable versions of Linux but for protecting your computer when things go awry. Here are the 5 most useful Linux distributions for installing on a USB drive.READ MORE
Don’t like it? No problem: just reboot your machine and you will be back on your previous operating system as if nothing had ever happened.
Try Ubuntu Splash

6. It’s Free

That’s right, Ubuntu is 100% free. It won’t cost you a penny (although you can make a donation on their download page). I know what you’re going to say: “but Windows 10 is also free.”
Whilst it was offered as a free upgrade until the end of July, that offer is no longer valid (althoughthere are other ways you can still upgrade).Missed the Free Windows 10 Upgrade? Psst, Here's a Backdoor! Missed the Free Windows 10 Upgrade? Psst, Here's a Backdoor!The upgrade to Windows 10 remains free for users who depend on assistive technologies. However, Microsoft doesn't check whether you really do. We show you how you can use this backdoor to get Windows 10.READ MORE
If you want to buy Windows 10 it will cost you $119.99 for the Home edition and $199.99 for the Professional edition, that’s a lot of money. So why not save that cash and put it to better use elsewhere? You could download the latest version Ubuntu for free instead.
Buy Windows 10

Windows vs. Ubuntu: Which Do You Prefer?

Overall, both Windows 10 and Ubuntu are fantastic operating systems, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and it’s great that we have the choice.
Have you tried either of these operating systems? If so, please do tell us about your experiences in the comments section below. If you haven’t tried Ubuntu, what’s stopping you?

Customize Your Mac Command Line With These Terminal Alternatives

One of the best ways to make macOS your own is to customize the command line, either through alternative apps or just tricking out the Terminal app. Working with the command line can be the doorway to becoming a power user on your Mac. You can begin with some improvements to the Dock.These 6 Awesome Terminal Commands Will Boost Your MacBook These 6 Awesome Terminal Commands Will Boost Your MacBookYou can only cram so much into graphical user interface before it becomes cluttered, so it should come as no big surprise that you can do some really cool things using the Mac Terminal.READ MORE
The Mac’s reputation as the “easier” OS is only there because of the Mac vs. PC ads. There was an entirely different campaign in the early days of OS X that positioned it as the best way to use Unix. The full command line was there along with many Unix utilities.

HyperTerm (Free)

HyperTerm is a Terminal app that you customize by editing a file. If you’re an old enough Mac user or a Hackintosh enthusiast, hacking PREF files and KTEXTs is a familiar way to customize programs. If you’re a web programmer, it’s along the lines of CSS. The app has support for tabs, which you would expect from anything trying to compete with Terminal.How to Install Mac OS X on a PC (Without Using a Mac) How to Install Mac OS X on a PC (Without Using a Mac)READ MORE
HyperTerm Mac Terminal Example Screenshot
Once you open the configuration file for HyperTerm, you can set up plugins and extensions. The app’s website says to search via the command line, but you can find a great list of availableextensions on Github.
The list includes themes and extensions. There’s even one to use 1Password to manage your passwords for the command line. Once you find the extension you want, add it to the config file, and it starts running when you open the app.
You can check out the app’s page on how to develop an extension using Javascript. All of HyperTerm is built in Javascript. If you check Activity Monitor, you’ll see it loaded as a web view, not an app. If you’re looking for an extensible alternative to Terminal, this is it. It’s a freeware app too!

Cathode ($4.99)

Cathode is not meant to replace your Terminal with a productivity powerhouse. Instead, Cathode takes your Mac back to the good old days of CRT scan lines and glowing green text. It even has a fake room reflection from the background. There is something pretty great about a command line app configured entirely for nostalgia’s sake.
There is a compelling set of customization tools, allowing you to choose from the old school system design you like. Was your classic machine just white text on a black background? If you prefer the Doogie Howser look of white text on a blue background, you can choose that as well. I also allows you to choose how densely the text should be spaced. There’s a variety of monospace fonts to make sure that you can set the configuration to scratch your own nostalgic itch.
Cathode Mac Terminal Example Screenshot
Terminal and VIM combine in a way to create a distraction-free writing environment. With Cathode you have an added bit of flair. The aesthetic looks a bit like Wordstar, the old DOS app George R.R. Martin uses to write Game of Thrones (no promises Cathode will get you a deal with HBO). In fact, if you want to work with just a text editor in this style, check out the other developer’s app: Blinky.nano vs. vim: Terminal Text Editors Compared nano vs. vim: Terminal Text Editors ComparedAlthough Linux has become easy enough for practically anyone to use without ever having to use the Terminal, there are some of us who regularly use it or are curious about how one can control...READ MORE
Cathode even brings back the sounds of older computers. If you yearn for the simple days of the Apple II, this is a good approximation sitting on top of the power of a modern computer. There’s a demo you can try on the developer’s site, or you can pick up Cathode for $4.99 on the Mac App Store. There’s also an iOS version you can use for SSH sessions.

iTerm (Free, Donationware)

If you have a Mac IT guy at work, he probably uses iTerm. It’s one of the original and most powerful alternatives to Terminal. If you’re working with a few different command line apps, or connected to a bunch of remote servers, you can subdivide the window, so everything is displayed simultaneously. It ends up looking like total madness if you over do it, but it is possible.
The foundations of the huge recent updates to Terminal have their roots in iTerm. You can set different profiles, complete with a unique background image. Then you can open each tab and window split with different profiles, which can give visual distinctions to each working session.
iTerm Mac Terminal Example Screenshot
iTerm has a few unique features Apple hasn’t copied. Each command you enter can have a time stamp attached. You can also annotate each command or output, a convenient feature for sharing your work as a walkthrough. Combine with the Instant Replay function that allows you to step through each command you entered, and you’ve got a great tool for creating screenshot walkthroughs.
iTerm is an app for power users that live in the command line. It’s a free app supported by donations so that you can try it out easily. The main question you should ask yourself is what level of complexity do you need? Download it here.

What About Terminal?

With all of these alternatives, you could be forgiven for thinking macOS’ built in Terminal isn’t that powerful. Like most Apple apps, it strikes a balance between accessibility for new users and deep features for power users.
You can’t infinitely split the window like you can with iTerm, but Terminal does support tabs. Terminal can be customized with an array of colors and any system font. The background image can be to anything you like. This means that you can make a unique combination for a custom look for your Terminal. There’s a bunch of preset profiles built into the app, and you can set your customization as the default when Terminal opens.
Mac Terminal Example Screenshot
The profiles are useful because you can save a set of windows to open when you launch the app. As you can set each profile to run a command at startup, you can have a window open your remote SSH session, another to Vim, and yet another to your working directory. This can also be set up as tabs, rather than windows.
If you’re not able to install custom software on your work Mac, customization can still help you make your command line your own.

Doing More With the Command Line

We’ve looked at a few different options for customizing the Mac command line to make it your own. If you’re a Mac user, and you haven’t played around in Terminal, check out this tutorial for ideas on where to begin. Then you can check out some of these apps to find which fits your personal taste.

How to Unlock More Options on the PS4 Quick Menu

One existing tool that received a tweak is the Quick Settings menu. Before the update, this menu included a few power options and quick controls to adjust headset volume mix or quit your game. In Update 4.0, this menu now only takes up the left side of the screen and is revamped to include more frequently used options.
The defaults include toggling your online status and viewing online friends, but you can add even more to this menu to make it better for you. To do so, hold down the PS button for a few seconds to open the Quick Settings menu, then scroll down to Customize. Choose Menu Items to add more options.
Here, you’ll be able to add a few additional options to the menu. These include Party for quickly joining or managing a party and Accessibility to access options such as making the font larger or customizing button inputs. Social players can also add quick access to Communities and the ability to Broadcast for those times when you want to start streaming right away.Can't Get Viewers on Twitch? You're Playing the Wrong Games Can't Get Viewers on Twitch? You're Playing the Wrong GamesTrying to build an audience on Twitch feels like hosting a party that you forgot to send out invitations for. If you want to boost your traffic, consider these questions when you pick a game.READ MORE
You can also remove any choices you don’t need quick access to from this menu, if the defaults don’t suit you. Once you’re done, be sure to use the Sort option to get everything in a logical order.

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