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1 week ago

Save over 90% on this Complete Java Programming Bundle

In today's modern age, understanding coding is becoming more and more essential. So much so that some school districts are adding coding classes to their curriculum. Those who dove into the world of Java and other coding languages via a Computer Science degree or by self-taught methods a decade ago are well-positioned for a sustaining career.

Take your coding to the next level for less! Learn More

Are you second guessing your own career path, or simply interested in learning the basics of coding? Maybe you're considering heading back to school to study Computer Science, but really who can afford to put their life on hold for more schooling? Even if you're knowledge of computer programming could fit on the back of a postage stamp, you can still learn everything you need to know to get started coding with Java.

That's where this great deal from Android Central Digital Offers comes in. You can get lifetime online access to the Complete Java Programming Bootcamp for just $39. This package includes 10 courses taught over the course of 561 lessons.

The first course offers up the core understanding of how any computer program works, including how data structures organize information so it can be used efficiently and how algorithms work to manipulate this data — basically Computer Science 101. But that's just the starting point. Throughout the remaining 70 hours of course material, you'll go from a beginner to a pro.

Each course is curated and instructed by folks with years of experience and knowledge under their belts. The first seven courses were created by Loonycorn, a team of four experienced coders who have worked Google and Flipkart, and tries to distil complicated tech concepts into funny, practical, engaging courses. Because let's face it – if you're just dipping your toes into coding for the first time it's going to be pretty dry if not taught in an engaging and humorous manner.

Save more than 90% right now! Learn More

An online course load like this would typically cost over $700, but for a limited time you can get the whole package at a steep 94% discount — you'll pay only $39!

Buy now and you'll be on your way to being a coding pro in no time.

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1 week ago

'Really Blue' Google Pixel coming to Canada as a Rogers exclusive

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A blue exclusive for the red carrier in Canada.

Google and Rogers have co-announced that they are bringing the 'Really Blue' Google Pixel — the one that everyone wants and hasn't been able to buy due to its limited inventory — to Canada as a carrier exclusive.

The limited edition version was released alongside the black and white variants in October, but it's been difficult to find — more so than the regular Pixels, which have also been elusive — on the Play Store. Canadians have complained about not having access to the blue version since its launch, but whether a Rogers exclusive is the best way to satiate that demand remains to be seen.

We'll have more information on price and on-sale date in the coming days.

Which color Google Pixel should you get?

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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1 week ago

Where to buy the Samsung Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Pro

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Samsung Chromebook Pro

Samsung's latest Chromebooks are here, and you have plenty of places to buy them.

With the two new laptops, Samsung has tossed its hat into the ring to be considered for the best mid-range Chromebooks available today. With a thin-and-light metal frame, brilliant QHD display and a stylus, it's worth taking a look at these machines. Your only decision is whether to buy the $550 "Pro" model with an Intel Core m3 processor, or the $450 "Plus" version with a lower-powered ARM processor.

The more mainstream Chromebook Plus is hitting stores first, with the Chromebook Pro to follow at the end of April. This is everywhere you can pick up the latest Chromebooks from Samsung.

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1 week ago

The LG G6 will feature an upgraded 32-bit Quad DAC

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The LG G6 will offer the best audio experience on a mobile device.

We already know a lot about the upcoming LG G6 thanks to numerous leaks and teasers, and today the company has confirmed that the phone will feature an upgraded 32-bit Quad DAC. LG rolled out a Quad DAC in the V20 last year, and this year's flagship will similarly offer audiophile-grade sound thanks to the South Korean company's continuining partnership with ESS Technologies.

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1 week ago

When it comes to Wi-Fi mesh networks, more isn't always better

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Are a handful of Plume Pods better than 3 Google Wifi pucks? Maybe.

There are a lot of ways to get a radio signal from one place to another. This is as true for your home Wi-Fi setup as it is for any other radio equipment. When it comes to mesh networking, there are two distinct types of setup being offered by a growing handful of companies. Trying to sort out what's best for you and your house can be tough.

More: Do I really need a mesh network?

If you decide that a mesh network is what you need to get good Wi-Fi everywhere you need it, you have quite a few choices. They all are a little different but are designed to be placed around your house so you're always in range of a good, strong Wi-Fi signal. While the concept is the same — several small "stations" close to the places you need them — the number of stations (nodes) you need depends on how your house is laid out.

The wireless signal coming from a mesh access point is like a sphere or a bubble.

Inside this bubble, you have a strong connection to the network. This works great if you can get a network mesh node in a spot to spread that bubble around where you need it. Then you put another bubble in another spot to cover more places. It's a great way to spread the Wi-Fi around your house, but not be blasting it to the neighbor's house where it can interfere with his Wi-Fi. Anyone who lives in a crowded building with a lot of Wi-Fi networks can tell you how difficult it can be to have a good signal because all the channels we use for Wi-Fi are crowded.

More: How Wi-Fi mesh networks work

A setup like Google Wifi has a small number of network nodes. They transmit a strong signal in all directions and two or three nodes (plus the one attached to your router) will cover most houses. They are excellent products that work better than advertised and most anyone who buys into them will be happy with the results. Other products like Netgear's Orbi or eero are similar — fewer units with each having a (relatively) large range of coverage.

An alternative way of doing things is with a product like Plume's Pod system. Plume Pods are tiny. They plug directly into an outlet and have a small signal bubble. You put a Pod everywhere you need one instead of placing one in a spot that can cover multiple rooms. The result is the same — when you're in range of a network node you have a good Wi-Fi signal.

Your house will decide for you

You want Wi-Fi where you need it. Maybe you want it in the bedroom, the living room and the kitchen. You're not concerned about blanketing the garage or storage closet or anywhere else with Wi-Fi. Plume's Pods could be great for you.

Small, short-range Wi-Fi nodes are like a light bulb. One for every room.

The Pods are small, use very little power and have a completely separate channel they use to talk to each other so they aren't using the bandwidth you are for watching a movie or getting online. That means you can use as many Pods as you want. I'm sure there is a limit somewhere, but it's not going to be reached in your home.

They also have a very small range. They are designed to be dropped in the room you need Wi-Fi in. Plume compares them to a light bulb — one in every room. That's a perfect analogy. It's a good thing and a bad thing.

Google Wifi's much larger range per node can be a problem if you have to place them too close together.

Ideally, your phone or TV or whatever you're connecting to Wi-Fi will pick the strongest signal it can attach to. You tell it to connect to MYNETWORK and give it a password, and it connects to MYNETWORK when it finds it. With two powerful satellite nodes in close proximity, it might not connect to the closest one.

Google Wifi's more powerful signal means it needs more room.

This isn't a big deal for something stationary like your TV or a game console. You're not moving either end of the connection. But the phone in your pocket can move from one end of the house to another, and it can get confused about when it's time to grab the stronger signal because it's already connected to a strong signal. As you move around it can get better or worse, and you can end up scanning and hop from one node to another which can affect your network speed.

None of that happens with Plume's Pod system.When you leave the living room, a light bulb doesn't shine through the walls to the bedroom, and a Plume Pod is like a light bulb.

If you have a big house but it's laid out in a way where mesh satellite nodes are too close together (the Google Wifi app does a great job making sure you place them far enough apart, but it's not perfect by any means) you could see problems. You fix those problems by moving the nodes further apart, or by using more access points with a smaller range.

This can be tough in something like a tall, narrow townhouse or row house where a mesh point on each floor will get crowded, but one on the top floor and one on the lowest floor might not cover everywhere. Long, narrow homes can pose the same problem. Think about where a 40-foot bubble will fit without the centers of two of them being too close together.

Either method can give you awesome Wi-Fi throughout your home. If you're not in a situation where you would have two powerful mesh points close to each other, look to things like features and price to help you decide.

See at Plume

Google Hardware

Google Wifi:

Google Amazon

Google Home:

Google Best Buy

Chromecast Ultra:

Google Best Buy

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1 week ago

Verizon's trade-in offer for its unlimited plan includes a free Pixel, LG V20, or S7 edge

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Get the latest flagship phones for free when you trade in your older device and switch to Verizon's unlimited plan.

Verizon is bringing back its unlimited plan for $80, or $45 per line for four lines on a family plan. You'll be able to use high-speed LTE until 22GB, following which your data speeds will be de-prioritised in the case of network congestion. The plan also includes hotspot tethering up to 10GB, and comes with free calling to Canada and Mexico.

To incentivize its unlimited plan, Verizon is offering a new trade-in plan through which you can pick up a Pixel, LG V20, Galaxy S7, S7 edge, Moto Z Droid or Moto Z Force Droid, or the latest iPhones for free.

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1 week ago

How to add complications to your watch face on Android Wear 2.0

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Android Wear 2.0

Watch faces aren't just for looks anymore — now they can give you tons of useful information.

Android Wear 2.0 brings a ton of new features to your smartwatch, but one of the more noticeable is the addition of customizable "complications" on your watch faces. Complications are a two part system — watch face developers can design their faces to have open slots of the complications, and app developers can surface parts of their apps to integrate as complications.

As the Google Play Store on your Android Wear 2.0 watch starts to fill with freshly updated watch faces and apps that include complications, you'll want to spend a little time customizing things to make the most of the new capabilities. Here's how you can get it done.

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1 week ago

Fitbit's entire 2016 lineup is discounted for Valentine's Day

2

Fitbit is offering a 25% discount on its fitness trackers in time for Valentine's Day.

Ahead of Valentine's Day, Fitbit is discounting its 2016 product lineup. The discounts range from $20 to $50, with the sale lasting until 9 a.m. PST, February 15. You can pick up the discounted products either from Amazon or directly from Fitbit.

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1 week ago

Xiaomi Mi 5s review: A great phone you can't buy

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Xiaomi Mi 5s

The Xiaomi Mi 5s offers much-needed improvements from the Mi 5, making it a significantly better device.

Quick take:

Although a mid-cycle refresh in Xiaomi's flagship series, the Mi 5s comes with an all-new metal chassis that looks upmarket. The phone has upgraded hardware in the form of a Snapdragon 821 SoC, the camera sensor has been overhauled, and Xiaomi is offering a global MIUI ROM with Play Store access. Then there's the price, with the handset retailing for the equivalent of $300 in China.

The good

  • Great display
  • Excellent build quality
  • Value for money

The bad

  • Availability
  • Camera lacks OIS
  • No microSD slot

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1 week ago

Verizon reveals new unlimited data plan

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Unlimited data plans are back at big red, and the prices don't suck.

Verizon took the wraps off of a new data plan that gives customers unlimited data, talk, and text for $80 on a single line. Four lines can all get the same unlimited deal for $45 per line.

Of course, they mean alternative-unlimited like every other carrier does and you might get throttled at 22GB. We're told it shouldn't happen often, though.

On all Verizon Unlimited plans you get our fast LTE speeds. To ensure a quality experience for all customers, after 22 GB of data usage on a line during any billing cycle we may prioritize usage behind other customers in the event of network congestion. While we don't expect to do that very often, network management is a crucial tool that benefits all Verizon customers.

You can also add a connected device, like the new Verizon Wear24 or a tablet for an extra $5 per month and the international TravelPass (500 MB/day limit; 2G speeds after that) is available for $10 per day. Last but not least, mobile hotspot is included and you will be able to tether up to 10GB per month before you're throttled way down to 3G speeds.

The plan is available starting February 13 and you'll be able to get all the details at Verizon's site.

The one big unknown? They call this an introductory plan, so we're not 100% sure how it applies to existing customers. We'll know more on February 13.

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1 week ago

From the Editor's Desk: Google partnerships prove valuable

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From the Editor's Desk

A combined strategy of in-house hardware and strong partnerships can work — under the right circumstances.

Google has been riding a wave of consumer confidence the past couple of months following its late-fall hardware launch of the Pixels, Google Home and Chromecast Ultra. But this week, we saw the other side of its strategy: launching products with its long-standing hardware partners running on Google's platforms. Wednesday saw the release of Android Wear 2.0 using LG's hardware, and just two days later Samsung released a really great Chromebook.

The new LG Watch Sport and Watch Style aren't perfect (even in the shaky smartwatch world), and no matter how good the Samsung Chromebook Pro is received it in itself won't change the landscape of the Chrome OS market — but each launch proves a point of strength and potential for Google. No matter how strong Google's renewed sense of importance on in-house developed hardware is (and how great the Pixels are), it knows how Android got to massive market position it currently occupies: by partnering with companies to build against its platform. And as Android on phones (and to a far lesser extent, tablets) continues to be a worldwide market leader, Google is working a slightly different angle with other adjacent ecosystems — Android Wear and Chrome OS.

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1 week ago

Can't be with your sweetie on Valentine's Day? These apps can help you make long-distance whoopie! 🍆

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The next best thing to being in there.

Nothing is better than spending Valentine's Day with the one you love. It's a day like any other day, but it's also been traditionally set aside for couples to do those things couples like to do with each other. But life being what it is, sometimes it's impossible to be with each other and make some private fireworks.

We're not saying even the best app can be a substitute, but using your phone as a tool for a little long-distance fooling around with your special someone has to be one of the best things you can do with it.

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1 week ago

Keeping your data safe and private while you travel across borders is a lot of work

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The things you may need to do to protect your privacy in today's world is interesting and terrifying at the same time.

One interesting byproduct of a shift in the U.S. executive branch's stance on border safety is seeing people actually concerned about their privacy and data safety when they need to cross those borders. No matter where you stand on the current administration's ideas and potential policy changes (and this isn't the place to argue those) you should be able to understand that they will have an effect on how your information is treated by three-letter agencies in the U.S. anytime you move in or out of the country.

This has some smart people — very smart infosec type people — talking about why you need to be concerned and what you can do about it. It's fascinating to read even if you think it's all hogwash and we should freely share everything with any government agent.

Experts tell us to cross borders and leave no trace behind, much like when hiking or camping. This is how James Bond must feel.

Two pieces in particular I really enjoyed come from information security researcher the grugq (conveniently compiled by Microsoft engineer Mohamed Mansour) and forensic scientist and penetration tester Jonathan Zdziarski.

As you would expect from the grugq, the information is laid out as fact, leaves no room for any alternatives and is direct to the point. It's also undeniably true. That's probably the reason I read anything and everything with his name on it. It's a refreshing no-bullshit look at what's going on and what can be done to protect our right to privacy when we encounter it. His series of short tweets tell you in no uncertain terms how you should travel if you are going to be crossing a U.S. border and don't want anyone else having access to any of your private information without your consent. Bam, boom. There you have it.

Zdziarski expands and explains why and how as he tells you the things you need to do to keep any errant eyeballs away from your personal information. The measures are extreme, and a few extra words about why it's beneficial to follow his advice are appreciated. Again, this isn't surprising. Zdziarski has a knack for making the extreme seem reasonable when it actually is a reasonable response. Zdziarski is a reassuring voice for the times when you need a reassuring voice to help understand the scope of a situation and advice on how to react.

We all need to think of how we can use this information, and if we need to follow any of the advice.

The two resources read very differently and are from two very different people, yet they echo the same basic ideas. Throwaway accounts and even devices, that live completely separated from your vital information and always assumed to be compromised and hacked. Essentially, the only way to be sure you aren't giving away more than you need to give away is to become a virtual ghost at any border crossing. This is completely James Bond level stuff, and while it may be saddening to think we need to worry about it, knowing that we really can exist with no digital footprint is fascinating. Make sure you take a few minutes and read both.

There is a lot of room here for further discussion. Ways we can use the tools and services available to us for Android and Chrome to lock away the data we give so freely to Google if we need to suddenly hide it from anyone else need to be explored. Let's face it — using the digital devices we love from any company doesn't lend itself towards anything resembling privacy. We're OK with sharing everything with a company we trust and never consider how any of it can be used "against" us. It's given me plenty to think about and I hope it gives you plenty to think about, too.

I expect we'll be circling back to this a time or two as we move forward.

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1 week ago

Best apps for making Valentine's Day super special ❤️

14

Updated 10 February 2017: We've streamlined the best Valentine's apps, and made our list easier to read through.

Best for communication

Between

See at Play Store

We all live ridiculously fast-paced lives, which can make finding time with your sweetie can be difficult. This is especially true if you are afraid of a child, or someone else, accidentally stumbling across those hot and heavy texts you've been sending. That's where Between, an app built to make communicating between couples easier than ever.

Between is an app specifically made for couples to chat, send pictures, and enjoy private communication with one another. It has a chat feature that allows you to send private messages that can only be seen by your partner from within the app. The calendar feature makes it easy to schedule out dates, or special plans in advance so that both you and your partner are aware of those special days as they come up. There is even a private photo album that will let you share private photos or videos.

Whether you're aiming for a more private way to communicate with your honey, or you just don't want anybody else accidentally stumbling across your communiques, Between is an awesome option.

Bottom line: Between offers a more private alternative to just chatting over Hangouts or Facebook Messenger. With private one-to-one messaging, and features like a calendar, and a place to share any risqué photos, it's a great option for couples to enjoy each others presence.

One more thing: Security is definitely a concern with apps like Between, which is why you can lock the app to keep friends or children from accidentally stumbling upon private moments.

Best for flowers

1800-FLOWERS

See at Play Store

When it comes to presents for your sweetie on Valentine's Day, the traditional gift is probably flowers. But there are definitely plenty of other gifts that you might also want to send. This is especially true if you're trying to make sure that your sweetie feels the love, even if you aren't able to see them in person for this romantic holiday. That is where 1800-FLOWERS comes in.

While they definitely offer a variety of floral arrangements, that isn't the only thing that is available. You can go ahead and order stuffed toys, chocolates and even fruit bouquets. When you make an order, you can track the delivery to ensure it gets where it's going. For the Procrastinators out there, you can even arrange same day delivery for the arrangement you choose for your special someone.

Bottom line: 1800-FLOWERS offers more than just floral arrangements. You can send flowers, plants, chocolates and even fruit to the person you adore. You can even take advantage of order tracking, and same day ordering and shipping. With 1800-FLOWERS you can ensure that your loved one knows how much you care, even when you aren't there in person.

One more thing: You have the option to ship internationally to over 195 different countries, making it easy to make sure your sweetie feels loved no matter where they might happen to be.

Best for restaurant reservations

OpenTable

See at Play Store

Valentine's Day is probably one of the biggest nights for dinner out over the course of the entire year. Thousands of couples will be descending on restaurants all over the country — and the world — which can make finding a decent place to grab dinner a serious pain in the ass. Open Table is here to make reservations as easy as possible on you, so that Valentine's Day is as stress free as is possible.

Finding reservations for Valentine's Day can be a real pain, but rather than hopping from restaurant to restaurant on the big night desperately looking for a wait under an hour, take a peek at OpenTable instead. You can explore local areas, and see restaurants with open reservations in the area. At each restaurant you'll be able to see the menu, and filter out whether they are good for larger groups.

Additionally, when you use the app to make a reservation, you'll get access to special perks. These include special deals at participating restaurants, as well as promotions that can shave money off of your check the next time you come back. You can also share reservations with your loved one, and add reservations to your calendar. If you're traveling for Valentine's Day you can always use OpenTable to find an awesome place to eat in countries like the USA, Canada, Mexico, and many, many, more.

Bottom line: OpenTable makes it easy to find an awesome place for dinner whether you are at home, or traveling abroad. You can get special perks by using the app, pay from your phone, and share reservations with your partner.

One more thing: OpenTable gives you access to reservations at over 32,000 locations worldwide.

Best for Hotel reservations

Hotel Tonight

See at Play Store

Having access to a hotel room can turn a normal date night into something a bit more special. If you're a procrastinator, or you just want to make Valentine's Day better at the last minute, then Hotel Tonight is here for you. That's because this app is specifically built to help you find an awesome hotel room for, like, now.

When you go searching for a hotel room, you have the ability to filter the type of rooms that pop up. The description for each room is fairly short, boiled down to the top three reasons that a hotel is awesome. That means that you don't need to spend precious time going through pros and cons, everything you need is right there in front of you.

While Hotel Tonight is built for finding a room that day, you can also plan in advance to make your night super special. This includes giving you highlights of driving-distance getaways and other local perks. Certain hotels even offer special discounts, which can be found within the app. Best of all Hotel Tonight is built to make getting a reservation a fast, easy, and streamlined process, so that you spend more time with your sweetie and less time on your phone.

Bottom line: Hotel Tonight offers a great way to find the perfect hotel room, without stressing you out in the process. You can filter rooms, see nearby attractions, and even reserve an app when there are only a few short hours left in the night.

One more thing: If you have any issues with the app, customer support is available 24/7 with actual live humans.

Conclusion

There are plenty of ways to make Valentine's Day special for you and your honey. While you definitely don't need to use an app to make things amazing, they can help to make Valentine's Day as stress free as possible. After all this is a day to share with your sweetie, not spend hunched over your phone trying desperately to make sure everything works out. Do you have a favorite app for making Valentine's Day excellent? Be sure to drop a line in the comments and let us know about it!

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1 week ago

How to stay connected in a storm: a MrMobile guide

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APOCALYPSE! Well, maybe it's not that dramatic, but when your power goes out it can feel like one, especially in our connected world. If you haven't prepared, you might not be able to check your Twitter for HOURS. That's too much for some to bear.

I'm Michael Fisher, alias MrMobile, and I spent yesterday in one of New England's dreaded Nor'easters, preparing for the worst (which, in this case, was a cup of hot chocolate and uninterrupted electricity). But if you find yourself in the path of a storm, this video guide will help you get set up for whatever's incoming!

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