jeudi 31 décembre 2015

Ring in the new year by installing deepin 15 -- a beautiful Debian-based Linux distribution


As 2015 comes to a close, we must again face the reality that Linux is a failure on the desktop -- its share of the pie is almost nonexistent. While the kernel is wildly popular on smartphones and servers, Windows is still the dominant force on home and business workstations. You know what? That's fine. Regardless of popularity, or lack thereof, desktop operating systems based on the Linux kernel aren't going anywhere. We Linux users aren't going anywhere.

Today, a beautiful  operating system from China, deepin, hits version 15. No longer based on Ubuntu -- the project has switched to a Debian base -- it is gorgeous and has an intuitive HTML5-based environment. And yes, it is available in English. Happy New Year, fellow Linux users!

"deepin is a Linux distribution committed to providing an elegant, user-friendly, safe and stable operating system for users all over the world. deepin 15 pays more attention to internationalization, and is featured with brand new mirror image acceleration (CDN acceleration). Languages supported are up to 30 kinds, thus the infinite charm of deepin can be experienced globally! Newly added languages are as follows: Malay, Bulgarian, Swedish, Croatian, Japanese, Korean, Finnish, Spanish (Latin America), Hindi (India), Ukrainian", says The deepin team.

The team further explains, "deepin 15 has changed head to toe with a all new system structure. Deepin Desktop Environment and system stability has been thoroughly optimized to become lighter and more sensitive. A new window manager has been adopted in this edition. It can intelligently detect the current computer environment, then initiates a proper window manager. Thus the performance and compatibility has reached perfect balance".


While some people have been hesitant to utilize the operating system due to its Chinese roots, these fears are unfounded. It is not produced by any government, and it is open source, after all. Quite frankly, to shun an open source OS based on its country of origin is arguably ignorant.

With all of that said, I recommend giving deepin 15 a go. It is a remarkable operating system that highlights the potential of Linux on the desktop. Its focus on user experience is reminiscent of another such Linux-based operating system -- elementary. Look, I'm a nerd, you're probably a nerd, we aren't likely doing anything else on New Year's Eve. What better way to ring in the new year than installing a new distro?


Want to try it? Download the operating system here. Tell me how you like it in the comments below.

My favorite tech items of 2015 [Brian]


According to man-made calendars, today is New Year's Eve. Tomorrow is the first day of 2016, which in the grand scheme of things is inconsequential. Still, it is fun to reflect on the last year and choose the tech that I enjoyed the most.

Yeah, I'm like Oprah or Ellen. Here are my favorite things -- tech related, of course -- for 2015; laptops, smartphones, tablets, and more. While there are many products on my list, there are two products that stand out to me as being rather exceptional -- the crème de la crème, if you will.

The first exceptional device is the iPhone 6s Plus. Believe it or not, this is my first-ever Apple smartphone and I couldn't be happier. Gone are the days of being stranded on Android without updates. The best part (besides the wonderful camera), however, is the amazing apps which seem to be prettier and more fluid than those on Google's platform. I even use Apple Pay regularly, at places like Walgreens and Subway. It is a life-changing device and I love it. Best smartphone of 2015.

The other stand-out product is the HP Spectre x360. This is not only the best laptop of 2015, but one of the best Windows notebooks ever. Where to begin? The body is made of beautiful aluminum, lending to a premium feeling. The trackpad is very large and responsive -- they should all be so good. The keyboard is backlit, and an absolute dream to type on. The screen is gorgeous, and is a touch variant -- you can fold it around the back for a tablet experience. Battery life is exceptional, and the machine is light enough to carry comfortably in a bag -- a road-warrior's dream.

HP offers wonderful support too, by the way. Not to mention, its pre-loaded driver management service is well-designed, offering regular driver and firmware updates. I came away impressed with the whole package -- HP hit a home run and earned my selection for best laptop of 2015 . If you want a solid all-purpose Windows laptop, this is the one to get.

Check out my full list of favorite tech items below. I have included videos where available.


HP Spectre x360

System76 Oryx Pro


Apple iPhone 6S Plus

Samsung Galaxy Note5

LG V10


Apple iPad mini 4

Streaming media box

Apple TV

Other devices

Amazon Echo

iPod touch 6th generation


AMD A10-7870K


Is your data integrated across platforms?

Image_Cloud Data

The lifeblood of any application is the data it uses to make decisions. It used to be that all data and applications resided within the confines of the corporate firewall, but public cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure provide elasticity and cutting-edge features to today’s organizations. Because of that, more and more companies are challenging the conventional thinking that all corporate data should always be stored on premises.

But when is it appropriate to silo data, versus integrating it across different cloud platforms?

Low Hanging Fruit: Dev/Test

The easiest, most cost-effective step an organization can take to leverage the elasticity a public cloud provider offers is to run dev/test workloads on them with sanitized data. The sporadic nature of those dev/test workloads is a perfect match for the on-demand provisioning, pay-by-the-hour capacity that public clouds provide.

Even if your dev/test workloads run eight hours a day, five days a week, without public cloud providers an organization is still paying capital expense on internal hardware 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By creating a sanitized data set for dev/test workloads that mimics production but lowers risk (should that data be breached), companies can free up that 128-hour difference between 8-5 and 24/7 through hardware reduction cost savings.

Production Marketing Website: Data That’s Already Public

The second easiest place to look for data that can be moved to the public cloud without risk is a production marketing website. Data associated with these applications are already public, and their constantly changing demand, based on various marketing activities, makes them great candidates for taking advantage of cloud elasticity.

Harder Decisions: Sensitive Production Data

With the easy choices now made, some harder decisions need to be examined. Public cloud platforms can provide features instantly that would take much longer to build within your data center. For example, Internet of Things, Big Data, device farms and data streaming services are difficult to reproduce in-house at a reasonable cost, but companies typically don’t want to risk moving that data outside a corporate firewall.

One option is to set up Virtual Private Networks (VPN) with the public cloud providers, so that services running on them can have secured access to part of an internal network, and therefore the data on that network. Public cloud providers make setups like this easy to accomplish, but for data that is used by both internal and external applications, care must be taken with the network segmentation so that a breach to the external world on the VPN does not lead to the internal consumers of the data as well.

Another option is to create an Application Programming Interface (API) for the data source that uses HTTPS encryption and key authentication access. This is more costly than the VPN approach, but prevents raw access to the data and creates a cleaner entry point that does not carry nearly the same network segmentation risk.

Consider All Your Options

Any organization looking to augment on premises infrastructure with cloud platforms needs to take data access seriously. Some data is sensitive enough that it needs to remain inside internal silos, but there are plenty of opportunities for other data. Sanitizing dev/test workloads can reap huge benefits, enabling a company to offload internal hardware for public cloud elasticity. Marketing websites already have public data in them, and their wildly changing demand makes them a good fit for public cloud as well. Other pieces of data may be needed both places, and whether a VPN or API approach is used, both offer ways to integrate data across internal and public cloud infrastructures.

A 20+ year tech industry veteran, Pete Johnson is the VP of Product Evangelism and Enablement at CliQr Technologies. He can be found on Twitter at @nerdguru.

My favorite tech items of 2015 [Wayne]

2015 cloud

I’m looking forward to next year when, hopefully, I’ll finally be able to get my hands on the Oculus Rift which is expected to start shipping to consumers in Q1 2016. Pre-orders were supposed to start this year, but that’s clearly not going to happen now. Still I’ve waited long enough to get my VR fix, what’s a few more weeks/months?

While I didn’t get a Rift to play with this year, plenty of new technology did make its way through my hands and into my life. Here are some of the standout pieces of tech I'd definitely recommend you check out.

Apple iPhone 6s

Having been using an iPhone 5s as my daily driver since 2013, it was clearly time for an upgrade. While I was certainly tempted by the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC’s One M9, there was only really ever going to be one phone for me. The iPhone 6s has proven to be a delight and while 3D Touch isn’t the killer feature it might one day be, and Live Photos are a bit of a waste of space (literally), I couldn’t be happier with my choice of mobile.

Apple Watch


Despite declaring I didn’t want an Apple Watch I ended up buying a Sport model anyway. You can read my first impressions review of it here. I don’t wear it every day but I’ve found it to be both fun and useful. Apple Pay is great (when it works, which isn’t always immediately) and I’ve quickly come to appreciate the benefits the Watch has to offer. The WatchOS 2 update has certainly made the device much more useful.

SEE ALSO: Santa brought you an Apple Watch? Here’s what to do first

Windows 10

While I didn’t buy a new Windows 10 device this year, I did upgrade both my main PC and laptop to Microsoft’s new operating system. I’ll be honest and admit I’m not blown away by Windows 10 -- it just seems too unfinished for my tastes -- but I do like it and look forward to the day when it’s finally the operating system it promises to be (which will hopefully be at some point in 2016).

SEE ALSO: Santa brought you a Windows 10 PC or tablet? Here’s what to do first

Hisense Sero 8 Pro

Sero 8 Pro

I reviewed the Hisense Sero 8 Pro tablet in November and found it to be a surprisingly good budget Android slate with a great quality screen. A lot of budget tablets turn out to be something of a disappointment, but that definitely isn’t the case with the Sero 8 Pro.

Amazon Fire TV Stick


This year I finally succumbed to Amazon Prime and now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. You get so much for your money -- free next day delivery, free streaming music, free TV shows and movies -- that I’d happily pay twice as much for the service when the renewal rolls around next year (but hopefully I won’t need to). To get the most out of Amazon Prime Video I purchased the Fire TV Stick, and it’s a fantastic little device that I'd wholeheartedly recommend.

PlayStation 4


Sony’s superb gaming console arrived just in time for Christmas day, along with a copy of Fallout 4. What more could you possibly want? It was a toss-up between the PS4 or the Xbox One, but in the end I opted for the latest PlayStation purely for the games it has to offer (and Uncharted 4 which is due next year). The ecosystem has so much potential too.

Photo Credit: aslysun / Shutterstock

My favorite tech items of 2015 [Alan]


It's been another long year, with technology products appearing at a seemingly accelerated rate. It all began back in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, a spectacle that is now right around the corner once again.

With 2016 looming it is a time for some introspection -- what products made your year special? For me there were a few that I really enjoyed. It was typical year filled with a few good items and some worth forgetting.


Ilg-g4-backI reviewed this phone when it first launched. It's thin and light, but has a very large screen size, which is my preference in any phone. LG has done a decent job of keeping it fairly current. It doesn't run Android 6.0 yet (thanks Verizon), but that's OK, I honestly don't use a phone for much -- it's calls, texts and my grocery list on Evernote. If I want to play a game then I grab a tablet. The G4 also has a respectable camera which is always nice to have in one's pocket.

Amazon Echo with Wink Hub and GE Link bulbs

I think I may have written about the Amazon Echo more than any other device in 2015. Yes, I like it that much. It plays music while I work, it tells me the weather, who my favorite football team plays next, and occasionally gives some fun answers to random questions.

More importantly, it controls my lights. There are many home automation features that come with it and more are added all the time. You'll need a hub and the right bulbs -- I use a Wink Hub and GE Link bulbs. The process of setting it up isn't easy, but anyone with sufficient computer knowledge should have no problem.

Harmony Ultimate Home

Nothing is better than a good universal remote. It clears up that mess on your coffee table. One remote to rule them all. It takes some work to set up, but it isn't anything too difficult. Once it's done you have a beautiful touchscreen remote and all it takes is a tap of the finger to turn on the TV, A/V receiver and whatever device you wish -- Blu-ray, Fire TV, Roku, DVR, etc. -- all will be set to the proper positioning.

It will even control an increasing number of home automation products, including the Nest thermostat. The only thing it won't handle for me is my HDMI switch.

Logitech UE Boom 2

JPG 300 dpi (RGB)-UE BOOM2 GreenMachineWhile Amazon Echo is a wonderful speaker, it isn't very portable. It needs Wi-Fi and it has to be plugged into the wall. When you need portable then you'd be hard-pressed to beat the Logitech UE Boom 2, which is a slight update to the original model. It's a bit large, but not so big that it isn't portable. What's really large is the sound, the thing rocks.

Mivatek Smart Plug

In 2015 I've played around with some automation for my home. The new offerings from Mivatek are proving to be wonderful. Sadly they don't yet play nicely with Alexa, so I have to use an app for control. Fortunately it has the ability to be scheduled which means I rarely ever need the app to turn it off or on. The plug also has a manual switch in case there's a problem, but there almost never is.


Not new, but I still like it

At the top of this list is the second generation Nest thermostat. It does a wonderful  job of controlling my home and it learns habits so it gets better over time. It can even be controlled via the aforementioned Harmony remote.

I am also still happily using the Nexus 9 as my normal tablet. It has an occasional hiccup with unlocking the screen, but it's thin and has very good resolution. It's what I reach for when I wake up in the mornings and want to know the weather.

So that's my tech year in a nutshell. What products brought a smile to your face this year?

Image Credit: Natanael Ginting / Shutterstock

Get a full year of Sticky Password Premium, worth $19.99, for FREE with our New Year's Day giveaway!

Sticky Password Premium

Online security has made big headlines in 2015, and will continue to do so as hackers continue to outwit even the biggest firms. This is what makes our final giveaway so essential: a year’s license for Sticky Password Premium.

Sticky Password is a suite of products for mobile and desktop that allow you to store your online passwords, form fills and credit card information securely – our giveaway will give you access to all its Premium features across all supported devices, including Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.

The most effective way of protecting yourself online -- and limiting any damage that may come from hacked websites -- is to use unique passwords for each site. Generating these by hand is time-consuming and impossible to remember, which is where Sticky Password comes in.

Sticky Password offers all the features you’d expect from a secure online password manager: it stores all of your passwords using AES-256 encryption, locked away behind a single master password (the only one you need to remember going forward) that isn’t known to anyone else. It can generate strong, random passwords using a mixture of letters, numbers and special characters automatically, plus has built-in form filling and secure credit card input for speedy checkout.

All of this can be found elsewhere, but Sticky Password can also be used across mobile and PC/Mac without having to purchase a subscription. You also get biometric support on devices with fingerprint scanners.

The free version is compelling enough, then, but look what a Premium subscription gives you: the ability to cloud sync your passwords across devices as well as an option cloud backup should you lose a device. You can also sync passwords across devices only using your Wi-Fi network for additional security -- however you want to sync (manually, cloud or Wi-Fi only), Sticky Password puts you in control.

And that’s where we come in with our final freebie -- a year’s Premium subscription, so give your online security and privacy a much-needed upgrade from 12pm (EST) on 1 January with our Sticky Password Premium giveaway!

Giveaway: we’ve a limited number of single-user, one-year licenses for Sticky Password Premium to give away, each one worth $19.99. Licenses are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

The giveaway starts midday EST (that’s 9am PT or 5pm GMT) on Friday, January 1, and expires on January 2, midday EST or when the licenses run out, whichever comes first. So when the giveaway begins, don’t hang about -- get over to Downloadcrew Giveaway promptly!

When and how your business should develop an app

The faces behind the biggest apps in the world

Regardless of your business size, there are numerous benefits in developing your own app. The ability to engage with potential customers on mobile devices is increasingly advantageous as smartphones increase their market share. An app allows you to provide consumers with a curated way to view your products and services, as well as increasing brand awareness.

It is not as easy as just creating an app though. It must serve as a fitting representation of your brand and integrate seamlessly with your operations. For every company that achieves this, many more make the most basic mistakes, wasting time and money. Never forget that creating an app can be costly and very time-consuming.

With that in mind, make sure you can answer following questions before diving into developing an app for your business.

Is Expertise Available?

Some aspects of creating an app are extremely technical, so the more tech-savvy you are as an SME owner, the more likely the development process will run smoothly. If, for example, you know the difference between UX and UI, as well as understanding what a wireframe is, you probably stand a better chance of achieving digital success.

It’s not essential to be a crack coder, but the ability to manage a development team and feeling comfortable working with software is vital.

Of course, solutions do exist that make it easier for a layman to deal with some of the more technical aspects of creating an app. A quick online search will deliver a range of companies that can help you build your app in a "point-and-click" style. Ultimately though, having the necessary technical knowledge will leave you in a strong position to manage the process effectively.

What’s Out There?

When considering the kind of app that your business needs, you have to understand the market. What do you want your app to do? Is there already a strong solution out there?

If you are looking for an app to fulfill a specific function, do some research. The last decade has seen an explosion in the number of software services that are aimed at independent business owners, so whatever your requirements, it is almost guaranteed there is an app for that in existence already.

Silicon Valley firms have been busy producing digital tools that cover a huge range of business functions including inventory management, timeclock, EPOS and even interactive 3D store design. The best way to identify whether there is an existing platform that would be a good fit for your business is to look for solutions that meet your minimum criteria, e.g offering cloud-based remote data access. If such a platform exists, it is likely to be a cheaper and more convenient option than building one from scratch.

How Bespoke Should You Go?

You need to understand what your goals are. We have already mentioned that if you are looking for an app to assist with business operations, the market needs to be researched. If your desire is to build a branded, customer-facing app you need to decide how tailored it has to be.

If you are looking for something simple and effective, there are a range of tools that offer non-coding options for creating an app. Adding elements such as images, blog feeds, and forms become as simple as dragging and dropping.

The issue is that many of these apps look similar and are not as customisable as a fully coded version. If you hire a developer to design you an app from scratch, it has the potential to do almost anything. The issue though is cost, leading us to our next question…

Does the ROI add up?

Is it likely that the app you are setting out to create will justify the expenditure? Most SMBs run on tight profit margins and there will be a significant monetary investment in creating an app that meets your business needs. This means you need to establish a solid business case before embarking on the development of an app. You must define exactly what you expect to automate and what you expect to achieve as an end result.

First, work out your needs – consumers booking their own haircut appointments for example – and then figure out the business case for this function. Will it save you staffing costs because you don’t need someone manning the phone? Will it increase the number of bookings per day because consumers like the convenience? Define the benefits you expect to see in concrete monetary terms and project how long you will need to recover your initial expense. This is the only way to accurately gauge how much you could initially spend on the development, or if the build even makes sense in the first place.

Delivering an app that you can be proud of and is genuinely useful is a complex and time-consuming process. If you can answer the above questions honestly, and they all point to ‘yes’, then an app could be just the tool you need to help you take your business to the next level.

Christophe Delacroix, General Manager UK, ShopKeep.

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Shutter_M / Shutterstock

Is your business ready for the cashless economy?

Mobile Payments NFC Contactless

New research findings reveal that UK shoppers are dreaming of a cashless Christmas -- well, when it comes to their spending habits that is.

The survey, conducted by EE, found that 80 percent of shoppers this festive season expect to pay for any transaction using a credit or debit card. Furthermore, a quarter said they would abandon transactions if they couldn’t use their cards.

The research also highlighted the growing popularity of contactless payments in the UK, as more than a quarter of shoppers said they preferred using the technology due to its ease of use. In addition, £929.8m was spent in the UK this October using a contactless card -- an increase of 23 percent on the previous month and 213 percent over the year.

Clearly, we are moving towards a world where cash is no longer king. Digital transactions are the future. In fact, earlier this year, the UK Payments Council confirmed that cash volumes are expected to fall by 30 percent over the next 10 years. A cashless economy is, therefore, inevitable. So what do businesses need to do to accommodate this shift?

Firstly, merchants and financial organizations need to take a hard look at their ability to support electronic payments through the digital supply chain. There is already an increased dependency on digital assets such websites, mobile apps and connected devices across the Internet of Things. And, for the most part, the advancements in cloud, bandwidth and content distribution technology have allowed organizations to handle this in their stride. But, are businesses confident in their digital governance and the performance of the third party technologies on which they have come to depend?

As we take great strides towards a cashless economy, those businesses unprepared to face the rising tide of online activity will face serious difficulties around brand reputation and customer experience. The millennial requires complete authenticity in their uninterrupted relationship with the brands they consume. However, when it comes to online banking, failure will be viewed in absolute terms and customers will walk at the first sign of trouble. Whether making a payment online or browsing a website on a mobile device, customers are demanding a seamless, consistent online experience, regardless of their physical location, time or device.

As a result, companies must shift the way they think. They can no longer solely be concerned about how they connect to their customers. They must understand and optimize how their customers connect to them. That new paradigm means business decisions around vendors and technologies are therefore critical differentiators for those organizations to stand out from the competition and deliver complete customer satisfaction.

Any business wanting to provide an exceptional end user experience in the increasingly digital market must ensure a well-executed technology strategy is in place to support the company’s ability to monitor, control and optimize online infrastructure. In this way, they can guarantee that their online solutions will be consistently available, efficient, secure and reliable, even across complex, distributed IT infrastructure deployments. Internet performance is key. It bolsters the entire digital supply chain ensuring that, regardless of demand, time or physical location, all transactions and updates work properly.

Internet performance is about meeting customer expectations and demands by delivering fast, scalable, secure and reliable assets via any digital channel. Traffic spikes, websites crashing, slow access to data, even poor rendering: all of these issues hugely impact customer satisfaction, yet are considered to be out of an organization’s control. They are not.

Internet performance allows you to take control of the full end-to-end experience and allows companies to make the Internet a competitive advantage. And, if they don’t, even though many of these issues occur outside of a company’s own network, the unacceptable results and customer dissatisfaction are inextricably linked to the brand and it must deal with the potential damage to its reputation.

If businesses and merchants do not make Internet performance a priority, they risk their customer experience and therefore loss of reputation, reliability, trust and customer loyalty. Customers will not hesitate to move their business to another organization. Never before has it been so important for financial services organizations to monitor and control their cloud providers, CDNs and data centers as part of their Internet performance monitoring.

If Internet performance is not a priority, banks and merchants risk losing out on reliability, reputation and trust -- factors that keep valuable customers returning.

Paul Heywood, managing director and VP of EMEA, Dyn

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

Photo Credit: s4svisuals/Shutterstock

Universal USB Installer adds Windows 10 support

USB Installer

Bootable USB key creator Universal USB Installer has been updated with new support for Windows 10.

The developer says it’s "untested", but we pointed the program at a Windows 10 setup ISO, and it built a bootable USB version without difficulty.

The new release also adds support for the penetration testing distros Caine, Pentoo and Parrot Security OS.

And as before, there’s support for building Live Linux USB environments for a wide variety of distros: Ubuntu and its many variants, Linux Mint, Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE, Puppy Linux and many more, as well as antivirus rescue kits from Avira, Bitdefender, Kaspersky, E-SET, F-Secure and others.

If you simply need a way to create a Windows 10 installer on a USB key then Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool remains the best option, as there are no extra options to get in the way, and it’ll download the latest build for you.

But if you’re looking for something, well, more "universal", then Universal USB Installer is a welcome update to an already excellent package. Go grab a copy if you don’t have one already.

Microsoft's promise of spying warnings is an empty gesture


Yesterday we reported that Microsoft will warn users of 'state-sponsored' attacks on their accounts. Sounds great, but does it actually mean anything? Is it a useful service by the tech giant, or just PR bluster?

Considering the convert nature of spying and digital attacks, coupled with legislation around the world, it seems likely that the announcement is little more than meaningless hot air. In the UK, for instance, the planned snooper's charter would make it illegal for companies to alert users to hacking and surveillance by British agencies.

While this means that it would still be possible for Microsoft (and the likes of Yahoo who announced something similar) to let users know that their accounts are being spied on, it's not a luxury that can be extended to everyone. Should the UK, or another country's government, decide to monitor the account of Microsoft customers in the US, Microsoft could let them know about it. Likewise, if the US, Russia, or another government other than the UK one decided to spy on users in the UK, Microsoft would be able to issue alerts.

But should the UK government spy on users in the UK, Microsoft would not be able to issue a warning without the risk of facing prosecution. Of course, there is nothing to stop other foreign governments from introducing similar restrictions, ultimately meaning that companies have the choice between complying with the rules or quitting operations in that country.

As noted by TechSpot, the Investigatory Powers Bill (AKA the snooper's charter) includes the proviso that it:

...will ensure that a communication service provider does not notify the subject of an investigation that a request has been made for their data unless expressly permitted to do so.

In short, Microsoft is promising to let users know about state-sponsored spying on their accounts, but only if said state permits this information to be shared. It's an empty gesture.

Photo credit: Imilian / Shutterstock