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Why parents should worry about Office 365's Immersive Reader dictation feature for students


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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How to protect your PC from the major Meltdown and Spectre CPU flaws


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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Best home security camera: Keep an eye on the home front


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. Read More

Meltdown and Spectre FAQ: How the critical CPU flaws affect PCs and Macs


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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BrandPost: Productivity booster: A simple case of improving the user experience


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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BrandPost: Empowering the workforce: How hybrid ECM boosts productivity


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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Stop installing our buggy Spectre CPU firmware fixes, Intel says


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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Humble Monthly is selling Civilization VI for 80% off


If you dream of spending your evenings building civilizations and going forth to conquer the world, then today’s deal is for you. Humble Bundle’s monthly subscription service is offering Civilization VI right now for $12. For that price you get the base game, the Australia Civilization and Scenario Pack, and the Vikings Scenario Pack. The base game is currently $60 on Steam, so you’re getting it for 80% off with two scenario content packs included for free. On top of that, more games will be added to this month’s bundle. The Humble Monthly offer runs until early February.

The downside of this sale is that you have to sign-up for the Humble Monthly bundle. Humble Monthly is a subscription service that charges $12 per month for a selection of games chosen by Humble Bundle every month. On top of the monthly game handout, you also get 10 percent off all Humble Store purchases.

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The Full Nerd episode 39: Meltdown, Spectre, and astronomical graphics card prices


In this episode of the Full Nerd, it’s doom, gloom, and trying to make the best decisions when all your options are bad. But you know, in a fun way.

Gordon Mah UngBrad ChacosMelissa Riofrio, and Adam Patrick Murray kick things off with a topic requested by you, the viewers, at the end of Full Nerd’s CES wrap-up: Meltdown and Spectre. We explain why these CPU exploits are so dangerous, how the computer industry is scrambling to plug the holes, potential PC performance nerfs, and what you can do to stay safe. For more info, be sure to check out PCWorld’s Meltdown and Spectre FAQ and our guide on how to protect your PC against the CPU exploits.

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Get 29% Off This 6-Sheet Micro-Cut Paper and Credit Card Shredder


This powerful micro-cut shredder from AmazonBasics turns a letter-sized sheet into 2,235 pieces of confetti, up to 6 sheets at a time (5/32 by 15/32 inches; security level P-4). Inserted one at a time, it also destroys credit cards, rendering them completely unusable. It features a generous 4.1-gallon waste bin that is easy to manage. This micro-cut shredder averages 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon from over 1,900 people (72% rate a full 5 stars: read reviews). Its typical list price of $50 has been reduced 29% to $36. See it on Amazon.

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Best Android phones 2018: What should you buy?


Choosing a new Android phone isn’t easy. The Android universe is teeming with options, from super-expensive flagship phones, to affordable models that make a few calculated compromises, to models expressly designed for, say, great photography. 

Chances are that whichever phone you buy, you’ll keep it for at least two years. So choosing the best Android phone for you isn’t a decision you should take lightly. But we can make things easier: We’ve made picks for the best Android phone in several categories. Check out our summary list below, or keep reading for the details on each one. 

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Kano Computer Kit Complete review: A fun DIY 'laptop' that teaches kids to build PCs and code


Make your own laptop. Learn to code. Hack Minecraft. The tantalizing promise of Kano’s Computer Kit Complete ($250 at Target and Kano’s website) is made clear right on the front of its brightly colored packaging. This charming kit for kids contains everything you need to build a Raspberry Pi 3-powered PC, explaining the basic concepts behind every step of building a computer, then seals the deal with a friendly operating system designed from the ground up to teach children the thought processes crucial to coding. And every step is fun!

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Hive View review: Attractive design, average features


This security camera's singular "grab-and-go" design stands out, but its feature set is too basic for serious DIYers. Read More

Rusty Lake Paradise review: Bizarre and brilliant


Rusty Lake Paradise is a puzzle game where the puzzles are the least puzzling aspect. Three games into its run on Steam, following 2016’s Rusty Lake Hotel and Rusty Lake Roots double-feature, the Rusty Lake series has already built up an extensive layered mythos—one that’s even more convoluted when you add in the nine (shorter, free, and related) Cube Escape games from the same developer.

It’s in pulling at those interwoven threads we find the real puzzle of Rusty Lake. Taken alone, each is a perfectly competent adventure game in the escape room mold. The rabbit hole is now a dozen games deep though, each a piece of a larger and far more unsettling story, spanning a hundred years of Victorian Gothic macabre.

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This week in games: Theme Hospital's spiritual successor, rumors of Fable's return from death


Hope you're all enjoying your game backlogs as we continue on through January, the lazy river of months.

This week proves the slow period won't last forever, as we take a look at Q.U.B.E. 2 and Underworld Ascendant, a new Theme Hospital successor, plus the upcoming Civilization VI and Total Warhammer II expansions. Rumor also has it Microsoft's working on a new Fable and there's an Alien shooter coming from Fox (instead of the Alien: Isolation sequel people actually wanted). Lastly, Epic discusses winding down Paragon development to focus on Fortnite, of all things.

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How to watch the Super Bowl without cable


Options abound for checking out all the championship action on whatever screen you choose. Read More

If you bought a OnePlus 5T, your credit card info may have been stolen


After launching an investigation into reports of a credit card breach on its website, OnePlus has announced some grim findings: Up to 40,000 customers may have had their credit card data stolen. That includes card numbers, expirations dates, and CVV codes entered at oneplus.net.

The culprit for the breach, according to OnePlus, is a rogue script that was injected into the payment page code and able to capture unencrypted credit card info from customers’ browser windows. The company says the exploit has been running since the OnePlus 5T launched in November, though it affected all sales made through the website. It’s unclear whether the attack was triggered remotely or internally.

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The best free PC games


Worth the price of admission
tf2 primary

Image by Valve

There was a time when “free-to-play” was a dirty term in the games industry. There are still terrible, exploitative free-to-play games on the market—more every day, in fact.

But occasionally—occasionally—we get something...miraculous. We get a free-to-play game that doesn’t try to con players out of money or make the design intentionally boring in order to make those purchasable unlocks more exciting.

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Microsoft Surface Precision Mouse review: A flagship mouse worthy of the Surface name


Microsoft’s Surface Precision Mouse is a practical PC accessory for Surface owners, especially right-handed ones. Over a week of use, I found the cordless, six-button mouse comfortable and precise. I wasn’t truly happy with it, however, until I downloaded Microsoft’s hard-to-find Mouse and Keyboard Center app, which includes a cool but gimmicky ability to straddle multiple PCs.

Priced at $100 (sometimes discounted on Amazon), the Surface Precision Mouse is Microsoft’s flagship PC peripheral. As such, it’s the direct competitor to the Logitech MX Master 2S mouse ($100 or discounted on Amazon), which offers similar features, including its own ability to leap from PC to PC.

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ConnectSense Smart Outlet review: A solid smart plug for the HomeKit set


The ConnectSense Smart Outlet for HomeKit stands out from the pack in looks and features. Read More

Puls begins offering same-day TV antenna installation


This new service can install a TV antenna on your roof on the same day you decide to cut the cable cord. Read More

Microsoft patches its earlier Meltdown patch for AMD PCs, allowing them to boot


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BrandPost: From functional to strategic: Enabling innovation


Only 33% of U.S. workers are engaged at their jobs, according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workforce report. It goes on to state:

“Regardless of all the changes in the workplace, people remain the core component in an organization’s success or failure. Leaders have to think about their technology, policies, products and services … because these are factors that influence the engagement and success of their employees. The key to an organization’s growth has been and always will be its workforce.”

Naturally, organizations need smart tools and technology — solutions that enhance employees’ ability to be responsive to immediate needs while being informed of up-to-the-minute changes. This is especially important as a growing percentage of workers are embracing remote or flexible work arrangements. As the Gallup report suggests, it’s time for organizations “to adapt to the needs of the modern workforce. If they don't, they'll struggle to attract and keep great employees and, therefore, customers.”

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BrandPost: Ready to tackle the next phase of the digital transformation?


The convergence of mobility and cloud have led to a digital explosion. Now that users have anytime, anywhere, any device access, they are generating mountains of data. In fact, IDC predicts that by 2025, the world will create 160 trillion gigabytes of it.

But more important than the volume is what companies do with that data – how they leverage it for heightened customer experiences, for improved day-to-day decision making, and to innovate.

And that’s what’s behind the rush toward digital transformation. As enterprises come to realize that to compete in this digital economy, they also understand they must effectively leverage and manage data.

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Acer Swift 1 review: A cheap, lightweight ultra-portable that skimps on performance


While the Acer Swift 1 delivers what it promises—a slim and light chassis, plenty of battery life, a solid-state drive and even a fingerprint reader, all for less than $350—it makes painful speed and storage compromises to get there. If you're a bargain hunter who doesn't mind relying on cloud services and you can tolerate merely adequate performance, by all means, give the Swift 1 a look. But if you're looking for long-term value, consider either increasing your budget or tolerating a thicker, heavier laptop with more pep.

Price and specifications

Measuring 12.58 x 8.86 x 0.59 inches and weighing just 2.9 pounds, the Swift 1 makes for a is pleasingly light, thin, yet sturdy, for a Windows 10 notebook. The Swift 1's display barely wobbles while you're picking the laptop up or putting it down, and the sleek, tapered shell belies the laptop's budget price.

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Android Wear vs. Samsung Gear: Which smartwatch should you buy?


If your phone runs Android, and you’re interested in buying a smartwatch, your journey begins with answering a single fundamental question: Samsung Gear or Android Wear? Sure, there are other smartwatch platforms that work with Android phones, but Gear (perhaps best represented by the Gear S3) and Android Wear (represented by watches too numerous to mention) have the most mature ecosystems and refined hardware.

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Fender Monterey Bluetooth speaker review: Rugged, loud, and fun, but also pricey and only marginally portable


The absence of a battery leaves the thumpy Fender Monterey Bluetooth speaker reliant on AC power. Read More

It’s time for cord cutters to embrace the smart TV


Smart TVs used to be consistently worse than dedicated streaming players. Not anymore. Read More

Two Lenovo ThinkPad X1 tablets are available for an all-time low price


Amazon's got a deal on Lenovo ThinkPad X1 tablets today. All of the deals are through third-party marketplace sellers, and to be honest most of them are not worth your time. There are two worth looking at, however, with prices at $730 and $950. Both of those 2016 models are selling at the lowest prices ever on Amazon—though this isn't the first time they've been this low.

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HDHomeRun plans a new DVR box, an interface overhaul, and maybe Roku support someday


The HDHomeRun Connect Duo+ could be an alternative to Tablo if your storage needs are minimal. Read More