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At FAO Schwarz: Apple?s tech is not a toy

The digital transformation of the retail industry challenges retailers, but they seem to be realizing that authenticity, customer service and relevance are critical. That?s certainly the case at FAO Schwarz.

This is not a toy

The legendary toy store closed in 2015, but is being resurrected by new owners, ThreeSixty Brands. Open for business in New York's Rockefeller Plaza, the toy emporium is renowned for its larger-than-life interactive retail experiences.

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How he spent his day off

Just before a holiday, this IT support guy calls a remote office to have a pair of tapes changed in their loader, says a pilot fish on the inside.

"Since the person who normally changes the tapes is away for the holiday, he decides to walk a user through the process," reports fish.

IT guy describes the tape loader, and tells the user to "remove tapes 1 and 6."

User starts in on the process, then tells IT guy, "I removed tape 1, but I'm not sure if I'm doing this right. It seems different from what I did last time."

IT guy: You're doing fine. Just pull out tape 6, and we'll put in the new tapes.

"User complies and removes 'tape 6,'" says fish. "Just then, the people in the remote office start to complain that the server is down.

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Tech event calendar 2019: Upcoming shows, conferences and IT expos

Tech Events

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Chrome OS: Tips, tools, and other Chromebook intelligence

Google's Chrome OS platform sure has come a long way.

From the early days, when Chrome OS was little more than an experimental "browser in a box," to today ? with the platform powering first-class hardware and supporting a diverse range of productivity applications ? Google's once-crazy-seeming project has turned into one of the world's most intriguing and rapidly expanding technological forces.

I've been covering Chrome OS closely since the start. I lived with the first Chromebook prototype, the Cr-48, and have used Chromebooks as part of my own personal computing setup in varying capacities ever since. I write about the field not only as someone who's studied it professionally from day 1 but also as someone who has used it personally that entire time, up through today.

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Microsoft starts auto-update of Windows 10 1809 three months late

Microsoft this week restarted the automatic distribution of Windows 10 October 2018 Update, the problem-plagued upgrade that was pulled from release just days after its initial debut.

"We are now starting our phased rollout to users via Windows Update, initially offering the update to devices we believe will have the best update experience based on our next-generation machine-learning model," Microsoft said in a refreshed support document.

That rollout was supposed to start three months ago.

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Google ups prices for G Suite Basic and Business customers

Google is set to increase G Suite subscription prices for the first time since the productivity and collaboration software suite was launched; Google said the move follows the addition of a variety of new features in recent years.

As of April 2, G Suite Basic Edition will increase from $5 per user per month to $6 per user per month; the G Suite Business Edition will go from $10 to $12 per user/month. Pricing for G Suite Enterprise Edition ($25 per user/month) will remain unchanged. 

G Suite was initially built around core apps such as Google Docs, Calendar and Drive, but has added a range of other tools, including a video-conferencing tool (Hangouts Meet); team messaging (Hangouts Chat); and enterprise search (Cloud Search - only available on Business and Enterprise tiers). 

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IDG Contributor Network: Smart hearing aids and smart glasses advance the human-machine interface

Two of the most interesting products I ran into at CES were the Starkey Livio AI smart hearing aid and North Focals smart glasses. This is the first time I?ve really considered that a new kind of sensory paradigm might significantly advance the machine-human interface. This could be used to not only enhance and protect hearing for folks who don?t need hearing aids, but, coupled with the smart glasses, the smart hearing aid could redefine whether we even need a smartphone?and possibly make that class of device redundant.

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Get 3 Years of NordVPN Service for Just $2.99 Per Month - Deal Alert

NordVPN promises a private and fast path through the public internet, with no logs, unmetered access for 6 simultaneous devices and access to 5,232 servers worldwide. They are currently running a promotion, but you'll have to use this link to find it. Its typical price has been discounted for 3 years of service -- a good deal at just $2.99 per month.  See the $2.99/month NordVPN deal here.

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Apple isn't alone: Data confirms smartphone sector slow-down

Claims the smartphone market is contracting are confirmed by new data received from SEMRush ? and the entire industry, not just Apple, appears to be feeling the pain.

What?s the story?

Apple recently admitted to slower than anticipated iPhone sales in its biggest-selling quarter, reducing estimates and attributing this damage to a variety of factors.

The world?s biggest smartphone vendor, Samsung Electronics, has also confirmed its own big dive, with a 30 percent decline in profit.

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There?s a newly acknowledged Edge local IP networking bug in Win10

If you can?t get to your router?s admin page using the Edge browser, there?s a reason why. Microsoft broke it with this month?s cumulative updates.

Yesterday, Microsoft appended this warning to all of its Windows 10 January cumulative update pages for version 1703 onward:

After installing [this month?s cumulative update], some users report that they cannot load a webpage in Microsoft Edge using a local IP address. Browsing fails or the webpage may become unresponsive.

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Balancing act

Big company starts a program to help employees balance their work and family lives, and it sounds appealing to this IT pilot fish.

"At one point I looked into the program because my grandmother was ill at the time," says fish. "Being able to have the time to assist her was important.

"She ended up recovering quickly, so I didn't actually sign up for the program."

But after looking into it, it's clear to fish that the program isn't really designed for him -- it's supposed to help the company get a more diverse workforce by attracting and retaining more women.

Then comes a round of layoffs, and fish ends up attending a series of outplacement sessions with other employees in a similar situation.

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The best Linux apps for Chromebooks

Being able to install Linux apps on Chrome OS opens up some fascinating new possibilities ? particularly if you're an advanced user.

After all, while a Chromebook's standard combo of web apps, Chrome apps, and Android apps is more than sufficient for most folks' needs, some of us still require (or maybe just prefer) traditional local programs for certain specific purposes. The presence of Linux apps on Chrome OS means we can have our cake and eat it, too ? by enjoying the speed, simplicity, and security of a Chromebook while also embracing the occasional heavy-duty desktop app.

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SAP targets counterfeit drugs with blockchain tracker

SAP has launched a supply chain tracking service based on blockchain that will enable drug wholesalers to authenticate pharmaceutical packaging returned from hospitals and pharmacies.

The Information Collaboration Hub for Life Sciences will initially be used to trace the return of unused drugs to wholesalers, but SAP this week said it plans to expand use of the distributed ledger technology to include a broader range of pharmaceutical supply chain processes.

There are about 60 million pharmaceutical returns made to U.S. wholesalers annually, worth an estimated $7 billion.

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Microsoft expands Windows 7-to-Windows 10 app compatibility pledge

Microsoft this week announced that an application compatibility guarantee it gave to enterprises migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 10 has gone global.

The "Desktop App Assure" program, which launched in October and was then available in North America only, has been expanded to all markets, Brad Anderson, the executive who leads the Microsoft 365 group, said in a post to a company blog.

"We've heard loud and clear that one of the most important considerations for shifting to a modern desktop is application compatibility, and we've done a massive amount of work to ensure that Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus are now the most compatible upgrades ever," Anderson said.

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Mingis on Tech: All about Google Fi

In the beginning (2015), it was known simply as Project Fi.

Then late last year, Google renamed its foray into cellular service: It's now called Google Fi.

Just this week, Google announced that Google Fi was getting a few new features: Rich Communications Services for messaging and faster international speeds, which bring it closer to the offerings of providers like AT&T, Version and Sprint. (Google essentially piggybacks on the cell towers and networks of other carriers, making it a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, MVNO.)

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NEW AVG PC Tuneup 2014!