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Windows 10 Preview coming to more phones: Is yours on the list?

If you have a Nokia Lumia smartphone, your chances of running the Windows 10 Preview are looking up: According to Microsoft?s Gabe Aul, the company is set to open up Windows 10 Preview builds to a broader range of phones.

The Windows 10 Preview program opened up to smartphones back in February, but the initial preview builds worked only on a small number of Lumia devices. The reasons for this limited rollout were technical?Microsoft had to select phones with an OS partition large enough to handle Windows 10 until it had finished a partition-resizing feature known as Partition Stitching.

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GNOME 3.16 is here with reimagined notifications and visual upgrades galore

The final version of GNOME 3.16 is here, and this is no mere bug fix release.

The latest version of the GNOME desktop offers a revamped notification system along with visual improvements, updated applications, and a trio of new application previews. In total, GNOME 3.16 includes a whopping 33,525 changes made by over one thousand people.

If you haven?t given GNOME a try in a while, you should. GNOME and the GNOME Shell desktop interface have improved dramatically from the initial GNOME 3.0 releases.

Notifications redesigned

The latest version of GNOME offers a revamped notification system. Notification banners now appear more to the center of the screen under the top bar, making them more noticeable and less likely to interfere with applications while you?re using them. Those notification pop-ups are still actionable, so you can click them to take the default action or click the buttons on them to perform other actions.

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5 secret Chrome app launcher tips and tricks that speed up everyday tasks

The Chrome app launcher is more than a glorified version of the Windows start menu. It packs a surprising amount of Google-y power that can speed up a wide variety of tasks on a Chromebook?and Windows, if you install the Chrome launcher.

Use the power of the built-in search button

Remember, Google killed the caps lock key when it designed the Chromebook keyboard. In its place is a dedicated Search button, which actually does a ton of things besides merely searching Google. Though it does that well, you can also use the Search buttonwhenever you want to go to a new site. Instead of manually opening a new tab or typing Control-T, just hit the Search button and start typing.

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FCC will vote next month on plan to share valuable 3.5GHz spectrum

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will vote April 17 on a spectrum-sharing plan for a band that could serve the military, mobile service providers and individuals.

The CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) would open up frequencies from 3550-3700MHz to three classes of users, including owners of new mobile devices who could use the service like they do Wi-Fi. The FCC vote comes after several rounds of study and public comment on the proposal for more than two years.

In that time, growing demand for wireless spectrum has boosted pressure on the government to share or auction off some of the many frequencies it exclusively controls. Bandwidth-hungry services like streaming video and audio, plus wireless links for a growing array of connected devices, are expected to eventually place strains on the spectrum currently allocated to wireless data.

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Intel could strengthen its server product stack with Altera

Intel?s chips dominate servers in data centers, but the possible acquisition of Altera could help the company provide a wider variety of custom chips designed to speed up specific applications, analysts said on Friday.

Intel is in talks to acquire Altera, which has a market capitalization of $10.4 billion [B], according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Intel and Altera declined to comment on negotiations or any deal.

Altera makes FPGAs, which are specialized chips that can reprogrammed to run specific tasks at much higher speeds than CPUs. Intel makes Altera?s FPGAs in its factories and has also mentioned plans to use FPGAs with its server chips.

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Kleiner Perkins cleared of sex discrimination against Ellen Pao

A jury has found mostly in favor of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in a historic lawsuit accusing one of Silicon Valley?s best-known venture capital firms of sex discrimination.

The jury found against Ellen Pao on three out of four claims, including whether her gender was a factor in Kleiner Perkins?s decision not to promote her, according to reporters tweeting from the courtroom Friday.

There was some confusion after the verdict was read, however, because the jury of six men and six women did not reach a sufficient majority on one question: whether Kleiner Perkins retaliated against Pao by terminating her employment after she complained that she was discriminated against.

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Facebook reveals the logic behind its forced Messenger split

Facebook annoyed and puzzled many people last year when it forced them to download its Messenger app for chats. Its reasons for doing so are now clearer: Messenger is becoming a beast of an app, with its own links to outside businesses and software apart from Facebook?s main site.

At the company?s F8 developer conference this week in San Francisco, executives pulled back the curtain on the new Messenger. It?s now a storefront and a platform for other mobile apps, which can be downloaded from within Messenger and integrated into people?s Messenger chats. There are more than 40 outside app partners already aiming to spice up users? conversations with things like personalized GIFs, tools to turn your texts into songs, and even sports animations from ESPN. The apps can be accessed by hitting the ?...? button on the Messenger compose screen.

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French self-driving car goes for a spin around Paris monument

For this self-driving car, the roadside hazards included traffic jams, undisciplined bystanders?and centuries-old cannons.

That?s what you get when you demonstrate your latest technology at the National Army Museum in central Paris, as French companies Safran and Valeo did on Friday.

Safran, a defense contractor, and Valeo, an automotive parts manufacturer, kitted out a Volkswagen CC with radar, lidar and all-round cameras for their demonstration, and let it loose on a winding track around the museum grounds. They wanted to show how close the European automotive industry is to its goal of having self-driving cars for sale in 2020.

There were no wheel-spins or clouds of dust: This was a simulated urban environment with traffic lights, slow-moving or stopped vehicles ahead, and speed limits of 20 km/h or less. The car glided to a halt a few meters behind a stopped vehicle, moving on as soon as the way was clear; respected stop signals; and slowed gently at a variable sign indicating the speed limit had dropped to 10 km/h. When the curious crowd spilled into the road at the circuit?s finish line, the car pulled up cautiously a few meters short of the line.

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Google to bring imaging, sensor technology to the operating room

Google?s technology may eventually make its way into operating rooms and help surgeons with their procedures.

In separate announcements, Google and medical device and pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson said that they?re working together on developing a robot-assisted surgical platform.

Google?s life sciences division is contributing advanced imaging software and sensor technology to the project, said a company spokeswoman. Johnson & Johnson said Thursday that its Ethicon division is bringing its experience developing surgical robots.

While Google has worked on robotics, that development isn?t part of the Johnson & Johnson collaboration. Instead, Google efforts will aim at combining medical data and presenting it to surgeons in a more useful manner.

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Why Meerkat and Periscope are the next big challenge for marketers

There?s nothing like a brand-new medium to put marketing departments into overdrive, and it would be hard to find a better example than the recent, rapid-fire arrival of live-stream video apps Meerkat and Periscope.

Meerkat fairly stole the show at this month?s SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas, where startups, brands and agencies used it to share live music performances, session videos and parties. Fast forward to this week, and Twitter?which had already taken the preemptive step of cutting Meerkat off from its social graph ? launched Periscope, its own, recently acquired contender.

The relative merits of the two platforms are now being debated, even as Meerkat?still the better-known of the two?has drawn in another $14 million in funding. In the meantime, marketers have plenty to think about.

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USB Type-C peripherals are on the way, and storage devices are first up

With Apple?s latest MacBook and Google?s newest Chromebook just out and featuring the new USB Type-C connector, we?re on the lookout for peripherals that use the interface, and storage devices appear to be first out of the gate.

Because the Type-C connector can be used to recharge laptops, it may ultimately do away with the need to carry bulky power adapters. Like older USB technology, Type-C will also connect monitors, external storage drives, printers, cameras and other peripherals. One beauty of the system is that cables have the same connector on both ends, and can be inserted into ports without worries about which side is up or down.

Storage devices will eventually benefit from Type-C?s USB 3.1 protocol, which can transfer data at 10Gbps (bits per second), double that of USB 3.0. But the first peripherals we?re seeing support only USB 3.0 speeds.

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Five to Try: Drupe delivers handy contact access, and Final Fantasy goes free...

Another week, another barrage of new apps and games flooding the Play Store?but which of them are actually worth your time and money? That?s where our Five to Try column comes in, and we?ve got another fine selection of new releases to check out. Heading up this week?s list is Drupe, which offers an innovative approach to contacts by letting you drag one to an app to initiate a conversation.

Also spotlighted this week is Beatport, a slick (and free) electronic music streaming service, and Nuzzel, which spotlights the stories your social media pals are chatting about. And on the gaming side, Final Fantasy: Record Keeper reimagines classic role-playing battles with a free-to-play design, while the dazzling Fotonica delivers gripping first-person running in a minimal, wireframe world.

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Slack hacked, compromising users' profile data

The popular group chat tool Slack suffered a hack of its central database last month, the company admitted Friday, potentially compromising users? profile information like log-on data, email addresses and phone numbers.

The database also holds any additional information users may have added to their profiles like their Skype IDs.

The passwords were encrypted using a hashing technique. There was no indication the hackers were able to decrypt the passwords, Slack Technologies said in a blog post. No financial or payment information was accessed or compromised, it said.

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This week in games: 3 reasons why mods are the best part of being a PC gamer

Short week for me, thanks to a phenomenal amount of jet lag coming home from Iceland last week and then...something like 40 hours of Pillars of Eternity.

But the news keeps coming! This week we've got Halo on a PC, broken NDAs, and three major reasons why developers should build mod support into their games. Seriously, every game should have mod support. It's the best part of gaming on a PC.

I mean, did you ever think you'd see a flight simulator built into a city-builder? Because that's what happened this week. Read on for more.

Fly like an eagle

Feeling nostalgic for Microsoft Flight Simulator? Why not try this on for size:

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Congress moves quickly on cyberthreat information sharing

The U.S. Congress is moving forward quickly with legislation that would encourage private companies to share cyberthreat information with government agencies, despite concerns that two leading bills weaken consumer privacy protections.

The House of Representatives Intelligence Committee voted Thursday to approve the Protecting Cyber Networks Act (PCNA), just two days after the bill was introduced.

The House bill ?is a cybersurveillance bill at least as much as it is a cybersecurity bill, and it is written so broadly that it could wind up making the Internet less safe,? Robyn Greene, policy counsel at the New America Foundation?s Open Technology Institute [OTI], said by email.

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