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How Warcraft III accidentally became a great Lord of the Rings game

Tue, 2020-01-28 06:00

Warcraft III: Reforged releases today. We may never get a Warcraft IV, but at least III and its expansion The Frozen Throne are finally getting some love: A refined user interface, more detailed units and buildings, native 4K support, and so on. It’s been a while since I’ve played either campaign, and I’m looking forward to revisiting it. Arthas’s downfall is still one of Blizzard’s best storylines, and I’m excited to see it fully redone.

Blizzard’s authored story is the smallest portion of my love for Warcraft III though. I played it for years, and what kept me coming back is an element that was incredibly important at the time, but rarely discussed now: Warcraft III was one of the best Lord of the Rings games. Maybe the best.

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Best smart lock for a keyless home

Tue, 2020-01-28 06:00
Keys are yesterday’s tech, your smart home needs a smart door lock.

The best laptops: Premium laptops, budget laptops, 2-in-1s, and more

Mon, 2020-01-27 18:45

2020 looks like it’s going to be a great year for laptops. We have AMD and Intel battling it out on the CPU front, new mobile discrete GPUs enabling thinner, lighter, and faster gaming laptops, and battery life that won’t quit. Check out the latest reports from CES below, and stay tuned for new models we bring in for review. 

Latest laptop news and reviews

We just returned from CES with a slew of mobile news, and we reviewed HP’s Elite Dragonfly, a corporate laptop that’s not boring. Here’s the latest: 

  • AMD’s Ryzen 4000 mobile CPUs announced at CES will likely be the biggest laptop news of 2020. After years of underwhelming chips, the new generation will offer 7nm efficiency and more cores. With 100 laptops ready to rock the new CPUs, the industry is clearly behind AMD on this one. What we don’t know is how battery life will play out, as that’s been an Achilles heel for AMD in the past. Read our full story
  • We also saw one of the first 5G laptops at CES, Dell’s Latitude 9510. Dell even provided a teardown to show the challenge of fitting all the antennas 5G requires into a mobile PC. Most likely the first 5G laptops will be on the higher end, where users can absorb the design cost. (The rest of us can hope for affordable dongles.) Read our full story.  Gordon Mah Ung

    The HP Elite Dragonfly is a corporate laptop with classy looks, tons of features, and all-day battery life.

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New 'CacheOut' attack targets Intel processors, with a fix arriving soon

Mon, 2020-01-27 15:59

Researchers have discovered and published information on what they’re calling CacheOut, a vulnerability in most Intel CPUs that allows an attacker to target more specific data, even stored within Intel’s secured SGX enclave.

Intel assigned what’s known as the CVE-2020-0549 vulnerability a threat level of “medium,” acknowledging the danger of a targeted attack. The company noted that CacheOut has never been used outside of a laboratory environment.

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Report: Avast and AVG collect and sell your personal info via their free antivirus programs

Mon, 2020-01-27 14:41

Avast and its subsidiary AVG, caught selling customer data to corporate clients last year, are at it again—this time using its free antivirus programs if you opt in to data collection, a new report said Monday. 

The joint report by Vice’s Motherboard and PCMag build upon reports by Adblock Plus creator Wladimir Palant, who reported in October, 2019 that the Avast Online Security Extension as well as the AVG Secure Browser spy on users, harvesting their information.

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Black wallpaper bug from Windows 7's 'final' update will get fixed

Mon, 2020-01-27 10:55

Windows 7 may have gone end-of-life earlier this month, but Microsoft’s preparing a postmortem patch to fix a bug introduced in what was supposed to be the final update.

After installing the KB4534310 update on Patch Tuesday, many users complained that their wallpaper turned black. While some forum-goers were quick to grab their torches and pitchforks, convinced it was a last second-middle finger to lingering Windows 7 users, that’s not the case whatsoever. It’s a bug, and Microsoft’s readying a fix for it despite Windows 7 being out of support.

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How to create Excel macros and automate your spreadsheets

Mon, 2020-01-27 06:30

Excel macros are like mini-programs that perform repetitive tasks, saving you a lot of time and typing. For example, it takes Excel less than one-tenth of a second to calculate an entire, massive spreadsheet. It’s the manual operations that slow you down. That’s why you need macros to combine all of these chores into a single one-second transaction.

Excel macros: Tips for getting started

We’re going to show you how to write your first macro. Once you see how easy it is to automate tasks using macros, you’ll never go back. 

First, some tips on how to prepare your data for macros:

  • Always begin your macro at the Home position (use the key combination Ctrl+ Home to get there quickly).
  • Use the directional keys to navigate: Up, Down, Right, Left, End, Home, etc., and shortcut keys to expedite movement.
  • Keep your macros small and focused on specific tasks. This is best for testing and editing (if needed). You can always combine these mini-macros into one BIG macro later once they’re perfected.
  • Macros require “relative” cell addresses, which means you “point” to the cells rather than hardcode the actual (or “absolute”) cell address (such as A1, B19, C20, etc.) in the macro. Spreadsheets are dynamic, which means they constantly change, which means the cell addresses change.
  • Fixed values and static information such as names, addresses, ID numbers, etc. are generally entered in advance and not really part of your macro. Because this data rarely changes (and if it does, it’s just to add or remove a new record), it’s almost impossible to include this function in a macro.
  • Manage your data first: Add, edit, or delete records, then enter the updated values. Then you can execute your macro.
Why starting with mini-macros is easier

For this example, we have a store owner who has expanded her territory from a single store to a dozen in 12 different major cities. Now the CEO, she’s been managing her own books for years, which wasn’t an easy task for a single store, and now she has 12. She has to collect data from each store and merge it to monitor the health of her entire company.

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Amazon Echo Studio review: Not quite the best smart speaker, but a fantastic value

Mon, 2020-01-27 06:00
The more-expensive Google Home Max delivers higher fidelity, and Sonos has the better multi-room ecosystem, but Amazon’s best Echo shouldn’t be overlooked.

Roborock S5 Max review: Precision water control sets this robot vacuum/mop hybrid apart

Mon, 2020-01-27 06:00
New mopping options--and powerful suction--make this a complete cleaner.

IceGiant says its giant cooler can even tame AMD's giant Threadripper

Mon, 2020-01-27 06:00

CPUs may be getting smaller, but they’re not actually getting any cooler. Between AMD’s 32- and 64-core Threadripper CPUs, and Intel’s Core X chips, modern high-end desktop CPUs are producing more heat than ever dreamed of 10 years ago.

To address the heat, most high-end PCs use expensive and complex custom liquid cooling to hit peak performance, or self-contained all-in-one liquid coolers.

Enter IceGiant and its air cooler, based on the old concept of a thermosiphon. The company says it can outperform conventional air coolers and compete with liquid coolers. Before we dive deeper, though, we’ll review the current state of PC cooling.

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