Meet the Asus Chromebox, a $179 fanless mini-desktop

Asus’ new Chromebox is a nice step up from Samsung’s model.
Asus

Google’s Chrome OS continues to show up on more and more devices, and while the majority of them are laptops, it looks like desktop users are going to have quite a few options as well. Joining LG’s upcoming Chromebase all-in-one is the Asus Chromebox, a headless mini-PC that goes on sale in March for $179. At 4.88″ by 4.88″ by 1.65″, it’s similar to but slightly larger than Intel’s more versatile NUC desktop in every dimension.

Despite its desktop-shaped package, the Chromebox is the same on the inside as many recent Intel Chromebooks, including the Acer C720. The base model includes a 1.4GHz dual-core Celeron 2955U based on Intel’s Haswell architecture, integrated Intel graphics, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of solid-state storage, dual-band 802.11n with Bluetooth 4.0, and an SD card reader and Kensington lock slot. AnandTech reports that the Chromebox will also be available in higher-end variants with a 1.7GHz Core i3-4010U and a 2.1GHz (3.3GHz Turbo) Core i7-4600U and up to 4GB of RAM across its two DIMM slots. The Core i7 version apparently won’t be available on American shores, though.

The Asus Chromebox includes many of the features of Samsung’s $329 Chromebox originally introduced 2012 but at a substantially lower price. Samsung’s model had more display outputs but lacked HDMI, and its Sandy Bridge Celeron CPU also needed a cooling fan that the Asus version doesn’t need.

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Microsoft names insider as new CEO, Gates steps down from chair

This morning, Microsoft announced that Satya Nadella, until now Microsoft’s vice president in charge of the company’s enterprise and cloud products, has been named the company’s new chief executive officer. The company also named a new chairman of the board, as Bill Gates will return to help Nadella plot the course for the company and take a greater role in the company’s operations.

The announcement ends months of speculation about who would replace outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer. But it also signals a less radical shift at the software giant—with Gates providing a great deal more guidance over the company’s technology development.

In an e-mail to employees this morning, Nadella wrote:

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Google’s mystery barge has “got to move” from the SF Bay

Behold: Google’s four-story shipping-container product marketing paradise.
KPIX5

Google’s mysterious barge will need to find different moorings if a report from the Associated Press is true. According to the AP, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (SFBCDC) is set to deliver the eviction notice. The AP quotes the commission’s executive director Larry Goldzband as saying simply, “It needs to move.”

According to the commission’s website, permits from the SFBCDC are necessary for “most work” undertaken in the Bay or within 100 feet of the shoreline. Google’s decision to use a temporary facility at Treasure Island seems to have been its undoing. The barge’s size and scope certainly qualifies as “work,” so although Google submitted planning documents with the City of San Francisco, both its and Treasure Island’s failure to apply for SFBCDC permits could put both parties at risk of fines.

The Verge reports that a Google spokesperson confirmed the notice from the commission. The simplest solution seems to be for Google to move the barge to a location where it’s permitted.

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How we ruin social networks, Facebook specifically

If Facebook is broken, we only have ourselves to blame.
Nathan Mattise

I found out my new college e-mail address in 2005 from a letter in the mail. Right after opening the envelope, I went straight to the computer. I was part of a LiveJournal group made of incoming students, and we had all been eagerly awaiting our college e-mail addresses, which had a use above and beyond corresponding with professors or student housing: back then, they were required tokens for entry to the fabled thefacebook.com.

That was nine years ago, and Facebook has now been in existence for 10. But even in those early days, Facebook’s cultural impact can’t be overstated. A search for “Facebook” on Google Scholar alone now produces 3.7 million results; “Physics” only returns 4.7 million.

But in terms of presence, Facebook is flopping around a bit now. The ever-important “teens” despise it, and it’s not the runaway success, happy addiction, or awe-inspiring source of information it once was. We’ve curated our identities so hard and had enough experiences with unforeseen online conflict that Facebook can now feel more isolating than absorbing. But what we are dissatisfied with is what Facebook has been, not what it is becoming.

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Samsung’s probable Galaxy S5 launch event—“Unpacked 5”—is on Feb 24

Samsung

We’ve just gotten an invitation from Samsung for an event called “Unpacked 5”  at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain on February 24. The event starts at 8pm Central European Time (that’s 2pm Eastern, 11am Pacific) and will be livestreamed at http://ift.tt/1bl2YCM. We, of course, will be there to bring you every possible detail about whatever Samsung announces.

The Galaxy S4 is nearing its one year anniversary, and with a name like “Unpacked 5” it’s hard to not think the Galaxy S5 will be the event’s headline device. Samsung has already announced a thousand tablets, and the Note 3 is less than half a year old. Considering Unpacked is Samsung’s event for flagship devices, there really isn’t much left to announce other than the Galaxy S5.

We’ve heard rumors of the S5 having a 1440p display, which would no doubt be trumpeted as a “2K” display. There’s also the eternal question of “will Samsung finally ditch that cheap-feeling plastic?” to answer the superior build quality of HTC and Apple. The only way to find out is to tune in on February 24.

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AT&T blows out Verizon and Sprint in Super Bowl data speeds

“We couldn’t have won the Super Bowl without our fans and great cellular connectivity.”
NFL

AT&T defeated rivals Verizon Wireless and Sprint at yesterday’s Super Bowl almost as soundly as the Seattle Seahawks bested the Denver Broncos, according to a test of cellular data performance.

AT&T provided average throughput of 5.3Mbps down and 2.9Mbps up, while Verizon and Sprint couldn’t even manage half that according to tests by Nexgen Wireless. It wasn’t all good news for AT&T, though, as its network completed a lower percentage of voice calls than either Verizon or Sprint.

The tests yesterday were conducted in six sequences before, during, and at the end of the game in various seating areas and levels of the stadium, both indoors and outdoors. Each sequence took about 28 minutes and included 10 calls of about 20 seconds each; three calls of about two minutes each; playback of a two-minute YouTube video; uploads of 20MB and 10MB files; and 100 ping tests. While the networks varied in percentage of calls completed, none of the networks dropped any calls after they were completed.

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Google, Yahoo, Microsoft reveal how many accounts are snooped by gov’t

Tada! Several major tech companies finally pulled some NSA statistics from their collective hats.

After the NSA leaks began last summer, tech companies asked for permission to reveal more information about what kind of user data they provide in response to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court orders.

Today, several companies including Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Microsoft are revealing the first information about the amount of user data they’re handing over to FISA requests. The disclosures are very broad data that just gives a range of how many users had information requested on them. But it’s a small victory for the group of companies, which pushed to be allowed to publish more about the data collection when they petitioned the intelligence court back in August.

However, the companies didn’t get everything desired. Google, for instance, asked to break out the information in terms of “FISA orders based on probable cause,” “Section 702 of FISA,” “FISA Business Records,” and “FISA Pen Register/Trap and Trace,” but it apparently won’t be allowed to go into such specifics.

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