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5 interesting ways blockchain technology is being used right now

even if you don’t own any cryptocurrency, odds are good that you know someone who does. “bitcoin” and “blockchain” have entered the modern vocabulary, and they seem to be here to stay – but are they good for anything besides speculation and impressing people at parties? actually, they are already being used by several companies, and they could soon become a part of your life.a blockchain is a ledger, or an accounting book, stored on a network of computers, usually dispersed across the world. these computers check each transaction against their records to ensure that it is valid, and if it is, it becomes part of the permanent blockchain. think of it as a set of accounting books containing every transaction ever made. when a new book is written, each blockchain user gets a copy of the book. if anyone ever tries to change their book, all the other books will still show the correct values, so the change will be rejected.if you are wondering how is this useful to you, here are some of the ways that blockchain technology is being used right now.1. tracking fine wines in china with vechain thorcounterfeiting is a big problem in chinese markets – clothes, technology, and even alcohol can be cheaply copied and sold to unsuspecting buyers. that’s why vechain thor, a singaporean blockchain startup that has partnered with china’s largest fine wine importer (d.i.g), is using a blockchain to track bottles. here’s how it works:i.g imports wine to china and puts a qr code...





4 apps that help you convert heic images to other formats

heic is a file format apple uses to compress images on its devices so the images are smaller yet retain their original quality. while that’s a really good feature for apple users, it doesn’t seem to be so great for other people. when you transfer an heic image over to a non-apple device, you will face issues viewing the image as the format is not widely supported.fortunately, there are a few third-party apps that help you convert your heic images to other standard formats, such as jpg, so that everybody can see your images. in this week’s roundup, we cover four apps from our software discovery section that help convert heic to other image formats.1. heic converterheic converter is a macos app that makes it easy to quickly convert images in the heic format to jpeg or png.quickly convert heic images to jpeg or pngdrag-and-drop supporteasy to use2. heic to jpegheic to jpeg is a free online tool that converts ios 11 photos from heic to jpeg/jpg right in your browser.convert heic to jpeg or jpgworks in a browser3. imazing heic converterimazing heic converter is a tiny and free desktop app for mac and pc which lets you convert apple’s new ios 11 photos from heic to jpg or png.convert heic to jpgconvert heic to pngdrag and drop .heic files or foldersfast and easy to usepreserves exif metadatasupport for color profiles, including wide-gamut4. copytrans heiccopytrans heic for windows is a simple windows plugin that allows you to open heic files using windows photo viewer.view...





why building a gaming pc is a terrible idea right now

building a gaming pc is an absolutely terrible idea at the moment. prices in just about everything are through the roof (though who knows when they’ll come down), and new products are just about to be launched. instead of dropping, prices are climbing, with high demand and low supply providing the essential economic forces to create unaffordable prices.1. insane gpu pricesthe most recent iteration of the cryptocurrency craze has pushed the prices for graphics cards through the roof. because these cards can be used to mine cryptocurrency, all but the most pathetic graphics cards are selling for a fortune. in fact, if you have one collecting dust, now might be a nice time to get rid of it. year-old cards are selling for above their retail msrp at launch, and anything being sold at a reasonable price is snapped up instantly. some outlets have taken drastic measures, either strictly limiting the number of cards you can purchase or attempting to maintain a “gamers only” policy.in addition to the outrageous prices, there’s a ton of variability in the market. if the cryptocurrency bubble pops, we’ll get some relief here. but bitcoin’s drop at the beginning of the year didn’t have an immediate impact on gpu prices.2. expensive ddr4 ramthe effect of ram on a gaming pc has been the matter of some debate over the years. but the near-universal accord has been that faster memory helps performance, and gamers want at least 16 gb. so if you’re building a gaming pc, you’re ...





how to open ports and set up port forwarding on your router

we’ve all been faced with messages telling us that we need to “open ports” or “forward ports” for one reason or another. whether it’s an internet security feature, remote desktop access, or an online-based game, there may be good reasons for you to set up port forwarding on your router. before taking the plunge, you should be aware of what this means exactly, the (relatively small) risks involved, and how to keep control over this process.related: how to find the best wifi channel for your wifi networkwhat are ports?think of ports as virtual passages inside your router which control traffic going between your computer and the internet. only specific ports are kept open at all times, ensuring you don’t get any unwanted or harmful traffic piling on on your computer.certain ports have fixed roles, such as delivering website data to your computers (ports 80 and 443), in most cases. others, meanwhile, are kept free and can be used by other applications (whose developers assign ports for these apps to run on). you can find a full list of router ports and what they’re assigned to here.first, set up a static ip addressin order for port forwarding to work, you’ll need to set a static internal ip address (ipv4) for your device. by default, your ipv4 address is probably dynamic, which means it’s always changing, so the port forwarding won’t be able to pin down your device on your home network.windowsgo to “control panel -> network and sharing centre -> change ada...





can the stylus completely eliminate the need for a mouse?

everyone over a certain age can remember what life was like before the mouse. when you sat down at your computer, all your work was done with keystrokes. but the mouse added much in the way of productivity.but that was decades ago, and now another implement is knocking on the door, and it’s threatening the livelihood of the mouse, and that appears to be microsoft’s very intention. can the stylus completely eliminate the need for a mouse?microsoft’s plansmicrosoft picked up a new patent last week for an update to the surface pen. it will have a u-shaped touch-sensitive retention clip and will be different than most other styluses. the goal is for it to replace the scroll wheel that is found on a mouse so that you can use it to scroll through pages and zoom in and out. running your finger along that retention clip will allow you to do these functions.“by providing a touch-sensitive retention clip on the stylus, the stylus is able to provide scrolling, zooming, and/or other computing functionality in a manner that is similar to a scroll wheel of a mouse device,” reads the patent. “as such, a user may forgo using a mouse device in favor of the stylus when interacting with a computer.the current surface pen connects to devices running windows 10 through bluetooth 4.0, and it uses a aaaa battery. this new patent includes a tail eraser and two barrel buttons. these will emulate the left- and right-click buttons of a mouse.could it replace the mouse?the real question is i...





what is windows 10 pro for workstations and how to upgrade

microsoft is always on the lookout for ways to make windows 10 a better operating system. as such, they don’t shy away from rolling out editions and releasing updates, even when least expected. currently, windows 10 has twelve editions, all with different feature sets, use cases or intended devices.with every new edition comes new features and improved performance. with that in mind, you’d expect the latest edition, windows 10 pro for workstations, to be more powerful and robust. sure, windows 10 pro for workstations is powerful and one of a kind.what’s more interesting is that this edition was not rolled out on a “business as usual” basis. it was created in response to feedback from the windows insider program. so what is windows 10 pro for workstations all about? read on to discover.what is windows 10 pro for workstations?windows 10 pro for workstations is the newest member of the windows 10 family and comes with powerful features, most of which are lacking in the previous editions. this high-performance edition of windows 10 pro is designed for power users who aim to use windows 10 on high-performance, server grade software.as such, it comes equipped with full support for server grade pc hardware, which makes it the best-suited edition to handle intensive workloads and most demanding tasks. windows 10 pro for workstations is, therefore, ideal for advanced users looking to deploy workstation computers in highly demanding and critical work.what makes windows 10 pro...





the best free games you can play on linux

“free” and “linux” go hand in hand beautifully, like chips and a milkshake, and even though linux isn’t widely seen as a gaming platform, there is a veritable wealth of free games you can get for it if you look in the right places. that’s in large part thanks to unpaid, open-source developers, who collaborate to bring classics (and new games) all together in linux.so in tribute to those tireless devs, we’ve gathered the best free games you can play on linux right now. enjoy!related: how to set a static ip address in ubuntu1. dota 2so this one’s not an open-source offering but free and seismically popular nonetheless. dota 2 is valve’s free-to-play moba phenomenon, rubbing shoulders with league of legends as the most popular game of its kind. fun fact: the original dota is in fact a mod for the rts classic warcraft iii.so what makes dota 2 special? it’s actually a little deeper than league of legends in some ways (though i’m sure lol fans will disagree). you can pick from one of over 100 heroes to take into battle, fighting alongside your team and your army of minions to push those lanes and destroy the other team’s base. units range from healing support types to charging, head-down attackers. whatever your play style, there will be one in there to suit you.dota 2 has a few interesting features as well, such as the option to eat up your own minions in exchange for gold and numerous ways of kitting out and upgrading your character. be warned: dota 2 isn?...





become your own boss with the freelance web developer bundle

invest in yourself by learning how to become a freelance developer with the freelance web developer bundle. with this bundled you’ll learn the various web development technologies such as html, css and javascript, as well as mobile app development on android and ios.the following eight courses are included in this bundle.introduction to html and cssever wanted to build a website but lacked the technical expertise? in this accelerated course, you’ll learn html and css, two core languages to web development, and build a fully responsive landing page. before you know it you will have a strong foundation and be on the path towards a productive career in web development.introduction to javascriptjavascript is the most sought after coding language for employers, and being fluent in it can do wonders for your marketability. used in front-end web development and designed to interact with other languages, javascript helps make websites more responsive and portable across desktop and mobile platforms. in this fast-paced two-hour course you’ll get up to speed with javascript and be ready to take on new web-based challenges.introduction to php and mysqlwhen used in conjunction, php and mysql are excellent tools to construct complex, data-heavy websites, while still allowing the flexibility to adjust those sites over time. they are essential tools for any aspiring web developer, and this course will get you up to speed quickly. a well-paying developer gig is just around the corner!i...





how to combine two or more excel spreadsheets

microsoft excel is a great application for you to keep your data organized and working for you, but all those numbers can sometimes get unwieldy when scattered over too many spreadsheets. fortunately, you have a few built-in options that make it easy to combine excel spreadsheets into single files or even single pages. the tools below are powerful enough to meet most users’ needs – though if you find yourself trying to deal with hundreds of spreadsheets, you may want to look into using macros or visual basic.related: how to make use of pivot table in excel to improve your productivitycopy and pastethis method sounds almost laughably simple, but don’t dismiss it too quickly. if you just need to move data between a few spreadsheets, this is the fastest and simplest way – though it is impractical for large-scale jobs. excel’s copy-paste options don’t come in just one flavor, either! when you copy your data and go to paste it, right-click on where you want to paste and check out the “paste special” options. here are a few of the most useful:values/formulas: if you have a numeric cell that is calculated using a formula, you can choose to either copy only the value, or you can keep the formula. the default copy-paste option in excel keeps the formula.transpose: changes the rows to columns and the columns to rows. this can be very helpful if, for example, you’ve received spreadsheets from people with different ideas about where the labels should go.paste link: this...





mit engineers develop new energy source in a thermal resonator

the world is always searching for new and different energy sources and continually finds interesting options. engineers from the massachusetts institute of technology (mit) have found a cheap new source in a thermal resonator.what is a thermal resonatora thermal resonator takes advantage of the fluctuations in temperature that can be found in the cycle of day to night. it would seem with this particular source, we wouldn’t need to worry about running out of it, as we’re always going to be in that continuous cycle, especially when looking at it as a power source for remote operating systems.“ambient temperature fluctuations are a ubiquitous and mostly untapped energy resource,”explained an mit graduate student, anton cottrill. he’s an author of a paper published in the journal nature communications.“they surround us every day in a variety of contexts, and a great example that we are all very familiar with is the diurnal cycle, day and night temperature changes. we have demonstrated an optimized device, a thermal resonator, that is designed specifically to lock into a a particular temperature fluctuation frequency … and translate the fluctuations into electricity.”this device takes advantage of “thermal effusivity.” this is the ability of a material to get heat from its surroundings.“the thermal resonator is enabled by high thermal effusivity materials,” continued cottrill, “[which are] materials that transfer heat with their environment very effective...





5 of the best android apps to help you trim down and stay healthy

advances in smartphone technology have done a lot for the end user. it’s now easier than ever to keep in contact with friends and family, get directions, and even find love. included within this sphere of apps are health-related apps which are focused around getting, and keeping, you healthy. these can vary from exercise-based apps to ones that track your total calorie intake. let’s take a look at some examples of android apps and how they can help you trim down.1. couch to 5ka relatively famous exercise regimen is the couch to 5k plan. this one aims to get people from a totally sedentary lifestyle to running a full five-kilometer distance by slowly ramping up the activity over a period of weeks. there are various exercise aids you can take with you which remind you when to go from a run to a walk and back again, and the couch to 5k app is no exception. this app gives prompts on when to stop and start and even features music to listen to as you run.related: 5 of the best workout apps for fitness freaks2. calorie counterfrom the people at mynetdiary comes calorie counter, a great way to keep on top of what you eat. it contains a database of foods which can be searched to see just how many calories each one has. if you’re in the store and deciding between two items, the barcode scanner on calorie counter can fetch the information you need quickly. it also keeps track of your steps and can upload all relevant data to services such as fitbit.3. home workoutif you’re new t...





how to disable a user account in windows 10

when you are sharing your computer with multiple people like your family members, it is very common to have separate user accounts for each user. in fact, that is what you should do when you are sharing a computer. when you no longer need a user account, you can delete it with just a few clicks.however, what if you just want to restrict a user from logging into their account temporarily?one way is to delete the user account and recreate it as needed. the other way to is to disable the account. when you disable a user account, all the data and settings stay intact, but the user will not be able to log in, and the account will not be displayed on the lock screen.windows 10 doesn’t make it very obvious to disable user accounts. you can disable user accounts in two different ways and both are relatively easy. this article will show you how to do it.related: how to hide user accounts on the windows 10 login screendisable user account using computer management toolyou can disable any user account in windows using the local users and groups module within the computer management tool.1. search for control panel in the start menu and open it. in the control panel, click on the option “administrative tools” and double-click on the “computer management” shortcut. alternatively, open the run dialog box with the keyboard shortcut win + r, type c:\windows\system32\compmgmt.msc and press enter.2. in the computer management window expand “local users and group” and select ??...





how a motherboard works - make tech easier

you have probably heard of a motherboard and know what one is, but do you really know how it works?think of a motherboard as the headquarters of a large company. without the headquarters, who is supposed to delegate tasks to the remaining employees? and that’s exactly what the motherboard is for. it is the central hub of a computer that connects everything together.here’s an in-depth look at what a motherboard is and how it functions.what is a motherboard?a motherboard is a circuit board with various components that work in unison to make a computer function.we’ve established that a motherboard is the headquarters of a large corporation. but surely, the headquarters is not the only vital aspect to making a company successful. just like there are different branches of a company, a motherboard has different parts within it that work together to transmit data to each other.form factorthe form factor is basically how a motherboard is formed, or how it physically looks regarding its specifications (namely size, shape, and layout).take mcdonald’s for instance. while all mcdonald’s restaurants operate the same way, some are set up differently. some have play centers, fancy self-ordering touch screens, and unbroken ice cream machines.it’s the same with form factors. while all motherboards operate the same way, different models have different kinds of ports, dimensions, and mounting holes. popular form factors include:atx: the prom queen of form factors, the atx is a popul...





a.i. being considered to fix the fake news problem

we’ve been besieged by fake news as of late. it’s all around us. it’s causing problems, as it masks itself well as real news, and many times people end up believing it. it’s even known to have affected the u.s. presidential race.but is there a way to fix it? or now that its existence has become part of our lifestyle, are we just stuck with fake news, right alongside our real news? there are some out there who believe a.i. could fix that problem of identifying fake news as such.what is fake news?first, let’s establish what fake news is, as clearly some are confused as to what it is. while certain politicians and broadcasters want fake news to be everything that is unfavorable to them, in reality that’s now a true picture of what it is.fake news is just what the name suggests: news that isn’t real. it’s news that has been manufactured, many times for the benefit of someone else.major news organizations have gotten into trouble a few times by reporting news that wasn’t fully vetted out. this becomes fake news. social media is a big proponent of fake news as well. it’s all too easy for a fake news story to go viral, and by that time, there are many people that are believing it.there are current ways to check if a story is fake news, but these methods require humans to do the leg work and check to see if they’re real, and this requires time. websites like snopes have been around for years checking out fake news before it was even called fake news. but they ca...





easily create and use all kinds of stickers in snapchat

snapchat has all sorts of fun features that you probably use for hours. who hasn’t tried face swap and enjoyed snapchat’s stories too? snapchat’s stickers are also a great feature that gives your snaps your own personal touch.but are you sure that you’re taking full advantage of everything that snapchat offers when it comes to stickers? you can quickly turn an object in a snap into a sticker. for example, do you want to turn that frame into a custom sticker? here’s how to do it.how to create custom snapchat stickerscreating a sticker out of any object in a snap is very easy. open snapchat and take a snap like you usually would. after taking the snap you’ll see various options on the upper-right of your display. tap on the scissor icon and outline the object you want to create a sticker from.when you finish, place your finger on the object and slide it to one side. just put the sticker where you want it to go, and you’re done. the custom sticker will be automatically saved with all the other ones you’ll create in the future.to access your custom stickers, take a snap and tap on the sticker icon that looks like a square with the tip folded up. you’ll automatically see all the integrated stickers snapchat has to offer. if you’re looking for a particular sticker, don’t forget to use the search option at the top.to access your custom stickers, tap on the scissor icon. in that section, you’ll find all the stickers you ever created. to erase a sticker, just l...





safari not working on your iphone? here's how to fix it

although iphones and ipads support other apps to reach the web, safari remains the most favored and frequently used browser for ios users. troubleshooting on safari can be frustrating, especially if its issues prevent you from searching for a solution online. here are a few common reasons why safari may not be working on your iphone and how to fix the problems.the problem: safari crashed and won’t openif you’ve ever panicked after safari closed unexpectedly and couldn’t get the app to start, you probably encountered a bug that affects safari’s search engine suggestions. this issue can cause the app to crash, freeze, or fail to start altogether. although the bug usually plagues devices running ios 10, it can affect just about any iphone or ipad.how to fix it: disable search engine suggestions1. go to “settings” and choose “safari” in your list of apps.2. find “search engine suggestions” and turn it off.this feature offers suggestions for what you can search for as you type into safari’s search bar. disabling it gets rid of the problem for many users.the problem: safari is gray (and won’t open)apps turning gray when you tap on them or appearing gray when you turn on your phone is a widespread issue for many iphone users who make the switch to ios 11. if you encounter the bug, safari may stop working when you navigate to another app while it’s open, and the icon may appear gray.how to fix it: update your softwareto solve this problem update your iphone ...





learn cloud infrastructure and devops with the cloud computing bundle

for anyone who wants to build a career in cloud computing, mastering devops activities is a compulsory. with the devops with cloud computing bundle you’ll master various tools that are considered essential for any devops engineer. these include vagrant, docker, ansible, git, jenkins and amazon web services.this bundle includes the following six courses.devops on awssoftware development is a time-consuming process that requires coding, testing, bug fixing, recoding, testing, deployment, and more. the whole process takes weeks, months, and sometimes even years to build a product. devops, however, looks at automating the entire process of testing and deployment to reduce the amount of work that a developer needs to do. meanwhile, aws offers powerful cloud features which can help scale your application easily to millions of users. that’s why companies are looking for devops and aws architects, and this course will get you up to speed on both.microsoft azure: complete guide to solution architect exammicrosoft’s azure is currently climbing the ranks of cloud platforms as one of the most popular technologies on the market. azure was designed for building, testing, deploying, and managing applications and services through a global network of microsoft-managed data centers. since its exceptional growth, the demand for azure cloud specialists has been grown as more companies are relying on azure to help reduce their costs and give them more options when it comes to cloud platform...





6 of the best android wallpaper changer apps

if you tend to get tired of your phone’s wallpaper quickly, it can be annoying having to waste time changing it. you have more important things to do than look through an endless list of wallpapers.avoid the hassle and have a wallpaper changer app change your android device’s wallpaper automatically. you never know, you might even get an image you might not have found on your own. thanks to the following apps, you’ll get a new wallpaper every few minutes or every day.related: beautiful wallpaper apps to spice up your android phone1. wallpaper changeran app that offers various options when it comes to changing your wallpaper is wallpaper changer. it’s an app with a simple but nice design. when you launch the app you have three tabs to choose from: change, album, and settings.in the change tab you can set the wallpaper to change every few minutes, hours, or days. it’s also possible to modify the wallpaper by double-tapping twice on your device’s display.you can even add the images that will appear as the wallpaper since the app doesn’t include any. you can add the photos you want to use in the albums tab.in settings you can adjust the image position and image size and choose random wallpaper and even a static wallpaper mode for when your device has issues with live wallpaper.2. smart wallpapera unique feature you’ll find on smart wallpaper is that it will change the wallpaper depending on the wifi network you’re using. it can also vary the wallpaper depending ...





the differences between bitcoin and ethereum

2017 was definitely the year of the cryptocurrencies, and even though their price has now dropped, the interest in them, especially in the leading currencies, hasn’t dropped. the two most popular currencies – bitcoin and ethereum – saw a drastic price increase during the year – from under $1,000 to close to $20,000 and from under $10 to over $1,300, respectively. if you are interested in investing in cryptocurrency, here is a brief explanation of the differences between bitcoin and ethereum.related: 5 up-and-coming cryptocurrencies to look out for1. bitcoin is generation 1, while ethereum is generation 2bitcoin was the first major cryptocurrency to draw public attention. in a sense, it is the first generation. ethereum came to the scene a few years later and builds on bitcoin, so you can call it the second generation. both currencies are decentralized and use blockchain technology. while bitcoin is mostly a means of payment (and investment, due to its high price recently), ethereum is also a programming platform on which you can write applications (known as smart contracts).a lot could be written about the different blockchain principles between bitcoin and ethereum, but in addition to smart contracts, another difference i want to point out is the cost per transaction. with ethereum, transactions have a different cost (called gas) based on computational complexity, bandwidth use and storage space. in bitcoin transaction costs are calculated based on their block size o...





how to add, create and manage search engines in firefox

like google chrome, firefox is a heavily customizable browser. one of the many settings you can change is choosing which search engines are installed within the browser. these search engines allow you to search different websites from your search engine toolbar. by default, this toolbar is located on the far right of the menu bar. by setting your default search engine, you can also change how searches from the main address bar work.adding search engines to firefoxmany websites can be searched directly from the firefox search menu. you’ll need to first install the search engine used for the website.related: how to customize the firefox quantum new tab page and make it even betteradding search engines from a websitesome websites let you add their search engines to your toolbar just by visiting. if you can add a search engine from the site you’re currently visiting, the search toolbar magnifying glass will show a green plus sign.1. visit the website you want to add a search engine to. for example, to add a youtube search engine, visit “youtube.com.”2. click on the magnifying glass in the search toolbar.3. click the option at the bottom of the search menu to add the search engine for the current site.4. with the new search engine installed, you can select it directly from the search toolbar. you can also set this search engine as your default.adding search engine add-onsusers can also add search engines through firefox add-ons. these can be browsed directly from the firef...