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Everyone has a favorite operating system that they use. Some use more than one system, but they still have a favorite, one that they prefer to use because it suits their individual needs. This week we asked our writers what desktop OS they were using and why.

Our Opinion

A few of our writers are using Windows 10. Christopher admits that he’s been critical of it in the past, but eventually he did upgrade to it, mostly because of his job description. In order to write tutorials and reviews for use with Windows 10, he needed to experience it himself. Judy admits it has its flaws but believes that there is no perfect OS. This happens to be an OS that she’s very happy with.

Several of our writers are using Linux or one of its distributions. Damien’s primary OS is Ubuntu, yet he does have access to Mac OS X and Windows 10. It “remains the easiest OS” for him. Charnita uses Xubuntu. This is her favorite distros “because it is lightweight and works great” on her older desktop. She also finds it easy to customize. She never liked Windows and finds Mac too expensive to maintain but does use Windows 8.1 for gaming.

Derrik uses Arch Linux as his primary OS as it’s his favorite. It “has the best and fastest package manager,” and he likes that as he can build it himself instead of going through the bloat the other OSes come with. He also uses FreeBSD “for tinkering with ZFS” and Windows 10 for playing games.

Mahesh uses OS X Yosemite and El Capitan “as it’s one of the most productive and less-irritating OS I’ve ever come across.” He doesn’t have to put up with unwanted alerts or other annoyances. He fell in love with it because it does what he wants.

I’m the lone wolf here who uses a mobile OS primarily. Doing mostly writing and editing throughout my day, I really don’t need anything too extraordinary. I prefer the way iOS works to a desktop system. It’s rare that I find something I can’t do, although adding pictures to WordPress in a specific size with a specific name is the one thing I wish it would do. On the rare occasions I’m not using iOS, I’m using Mac OS X.

Your Opinion

Image Credits: Windows 10 Pro Insider Preview, Macbook 12inch & Air 11inch, Missing operating system_ {error message}

Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site’s sponsored review program.

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Android Design Guidelines: What They Are And Why You Should Follow Them

What are the design guidelines for Material?

Google completely overhauled the user interface for Android in 5.0 Lollipop. The UI now has bright colors and “cards” that have shadows as well as new animations that make it seem like they are sliding into place. Google also introduced a third axis that gives developers a 3D space to work with. The Z axis, as well as lighting, is used for perspective to make the space look more 3D. All three axes can be modified within the 3D space to give depth as well. There are a bunch of other factors that go into the user interface including but not limited to:

Animations must take into account weight and mass just like real life, as well as acceleration and deceleration. Make sure all the animations follow the same path so they do not confuse the user. Transitioning between two objects should have a clear, obvious path going between those objects.

Limit the number of colors in your app to three from the 500 colors Google provides with one accent color. Opacity of text may also be used to signify importance of certain elements. Icons are inspired by actual physical paper copies of the material. Images should have meaning and should be delightful. Matching app colors with picture colors can add a nice clean effect. Do not use stock photography, it has no unique or creative insight, also have a clear point of focus. It may also be a good idea to create a story with an image, this makes it more interesting for the user. Use the best quality images when possible, using degraded images will make even the best apps look bad.

The layout of the app should behave like an actual piece or pieces of paper, seams may be used and a floating button may be placed on the seam if that button is relevant to both sides of the paper. Pixel density is an important part when designing an app, to find the pixel density take the width or height in pixels and divide it by the width or height in inches. There are also density-independent pixels that will scale the UI elements regardless of pixel density. A dp is defined  as dp = (width in pixels * 160) / screen density. Scalable pixels work the same as density-independent pixels but for fonts. All elements in the app align to a 8 dp square baseline grid for padding and text aligns to a 4 dp grid.

Google goes into mind-numbing detail about every single aspect of the UI here. It is important to follow as many guidelines as possible, this will insure the best experience for the user and provide the best continuity between apps and the operating system.

Android Design Support Library and why you should use it

Inserting this into the Gradle file will enable the use of the Android Design Support Library and allow the use of Material-like features on devices running a version before Android 5.0 Lollipop. This will give the app a more uniform look across most versions of Android.


What Are Chd Files And How Can You Use Them?

If you are into retro gaming, you may have come across files with a “.chd” extension. In most cases, those files have some things in common: they have cryptic names, are (relatively) large, and don’t seem to be useful in anything.

What Are CHD Files?

In short, CHD files are arcade game disk images used by MAME. This explains why they are so big in file size. Nowadays, they have become quite popular among many emulators that use relatively large ROMs. This includes emulators like some of the PlayStation Libretro cores in Retroarch and, by extension, all the popular emulation-oriented distributions for the Raspberry Pi series of microcomputers.

If your CHDs are MAME ROMs, they should (usually) be stored in folders with the same name under MAME’s main ROM folder.

If they are backups of games for the original PlayStation or some other console that used optical discs, they should, in most cases, be placed directly in the emulator’s ROM subdirectory.

In the case of console emulators, CHD files usually contain the whole game, so you can “open them” in the emulator and start playing. In MAME, though, they are only part of the game because MAME primarily emulates arcade machines.

Unlike gaming consoles, arcade games usually had dedicated hardware and software that differed from game to game. The software part of the equation was typically stored in ROM chips. At some point in time, with ROM chips being expensive and games getting larger with more impressive visuals, their developers started using CDs or hard disk drives. They used them to store the most substantial assets of games – graphics, audio, music, animations – while keeping the smaller “core parts” of a game on the ROM chips.

The reason we mention all this is because, CHDs on their own are usually useless with MAME. You will need the actual ROM files that accompany them to be able to use them. The CHD files themselves contain the game’s assets but not the game itself. You will have to find the ROMs that go with your specific CHD file and any extra files related to the hardware on which the game ran. For that, since it remains a legal gray area, we can only say that Google is your friend.

Place those ROMs in MAME’s ROM subdirectory, place your CHDs in the same spot but in sub-subdirectories with their own name, and then try running the ROM with MAME. If you’re not using a command-line but a GUI-based variant of MAME, you might need to run a scan/audit of your ROMs first.

Check CHD Files’ Contents

The best (and, from what we know, only) tool for working with CHD files comes from their source, from MAME itself. It’s called chdman. Depending on your MAME set up, it’s either already installed, or you can bring it on board with the command:





To check a CHD image and see some information about its structure, use:

chdman info


IMAGE_FILENAME.chd Convert Your CHDs

You can use the same tool both to extract the contents of a CHD file and to create one.

Extracting a CHD to a more accessible format, like IMG for hard disk drive backups or a BIN & CUE combination for CD backups, has a point only if you’re going to use those files in a different emulator that doesn’t support the CHD format. In the case of hard disk image files, use:

chdman extracthd





For CD backups, replace extracthd with extractcd in the above command.

If you are using an emulator like PCSX ReARMed or Demul, RetroArch, or some emulator distribution for your Raspberry Pi, theoretically, you only have to place your CHD files in the emulator’s ROM path for it to detect and use them.

Your ROMs folder can look chaotic if it contains backups of more than one games that:

Were originally in CD format

Are now stored in BIN & CUE combinations

Contained multiple audio tracks

That’s because, with the CUE & BIN combination, each track of the original CD is saved as a separate BIN file, so a single game can be split into dozens of files.

To convert a game split among a CUE and a bunch of BIN files to a single CHD file, use:

chdman createcd





Although you can, you don’t have to tweak the compression parameters – the optimal choices will be automatically chosen for you. During the conversion, chdman will present, among other information, the different types of compression it uses in each case.

After the conversion completes, try loading your new CHD file in the same emulator you used initially for loading that game. If it works, delete the original files and move to the next game.

If you keep a lot of retro games around, by converting the largest of them to the CHD format, at least for the emulators that support it, you can end up saving multiple gigabytes of space – gigabytes that you could then use to store even more retro games!

Odysseas Kourafalos

OK’s real life started at around 10, when he got his first computer – a Commodore 128. Since then, he’s been melting keycaps by typing 24/7, trying to spread The Word Of Tech to anyone interested enough to listen. Or, rather, read.

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Blackberry Using Android Os: Security Benefits

BlackBerry has always been one of the paramount manufacturers for private and secure mobile solutions. It recently claimed on its official blog that it was the first one to come up with fastened email and applications on mobile devices. Now, in the latest move, it has teamed up with Google Android for the BlackBerry PRIV smartphone. Nevertheless, the company still wants its users to feel as safe and secure as they used to on the BB platform.

To narrow it down, BlackBerry is teaming up with a platform whose security is not really top notch. So BlackBerry is trying to customise it to their standards which rest on the principles of providing all-round security and privacy to its users. Let’s take a look at what BlackBerry PRIV is going to bring to Android’s platform. The company has integrated its “world-renowned” security model to Android, and it includes the following features.

BlackBerry Hardware Root of Trust and Hardened Linux Kernel

With its hardware root of trust, which is a one-of-a-kind manufacturing process that inserts cryptographic keys into the smartphone’s hardware, it gives a secure substructure to the complete platform. In addition, a hardened Linux kernel cou pled with various security patches and configuration makes security tighter. It means that BlackBerry has overhauled Android’s privacy and security capabilities to make it appropriate for privacy protection. In one of its moves, the company has brought its “patented picture-login” to its PRIV. The picture login is going to strengthen and simplify the smartphone authentication scheme.

Blackberry supports a variety of communication services which are based on providing top end security. These services include WatchDox private file sharing, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), and SecureSuite for classified voice calls. Earlier, Blackberry had also touted that none of its software is “backdoored.” It also claimed that all of its cryptography schemes come certified with BlackBerry Certicom. We don’t really know whether such services rearly provide as much security as they claim. Frankly, it is easier to make such declarations about “cryptography,” but substantiating that code is bug-free and not a cakewalk.

Verified Boot and Secure Bootchain and FIPS 140-2 Encryption

The Verified Boot and Secure Bootchain is a process that employs embedded keys for verifying each layer of the smartphone’s hardware. It is not just limited to hardware authentication. It also checks the operating system and applications to make sure they are in their original form and security is not compromised. On the other hand, the FIPS 140-2 compliant full disk encryption is enabled on the device by default so that there is no loophole in the device’s security.

BlackBerry Infrastructure and Enterprise Server (BES12)

Yes, you read that right, BlackBerry is also bringing its niche BB Infrastructure to Android. Its infrastructure is distributed globally through a network that transfers petabytes of encrypted data. This data is transferred to and from the world’s most powerful bureaucrats and professionals. However, the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES12) is the premium and leading Enterprise Mobility Management platform that is used by the world’s most powerful corporations and organisations. Such infrastructure somewhat guarantees a high level of security to a device. BlackBerry has always been the top choice for influential organisations and people as it keeps the data private and secure.

Seamless Integration with Android For Work and BlackBerry DTEK

BlackBerry DTEK is an application that monitors a device’s activity. It informs users as to what apps have accessed the personal data, data received by your device and its location, and also what data has been sent from the device.


BlackBerry does enjoy the goodwill on being safe and secure, but there are loopholes too. We believe that the company should not make outright claims about privacy, as this is the first time that it is joining with another OS. Nonetheless, BlackBerry’s decision to come together with Android is late but a welcoming move for sure. With all the information given above, we do agree that BlackBerry is indeed trying to go the extra mile in making Android more secure. However, we would like to see worthy hardware changes, too, wouldn’t we?

Zara Ali

A 90’s kid, who has witnessed the evolution of technology — from landline to smartphones. Been there, used that! Love trying out new gadgets and writing about them.

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The Dangers Of Using Pirated Software And Why You Should Stop Right Now

The dangers of using pirated software are evident on the economy. $82 billion worth of software programs sell legitimately worldwide, while $63 billion worth of computer programs are pirated.

Copying other people’s work has almost become an acceptable thing, albeit the presence of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) should emphasize the consequence of this problem.

Have you ever wondered how much a cheap product can cost you? It’s penny wise and pound foolish, depending on how you look at it.

Some of the dangers of using pirated software are obvious while others aren’t. Let’s explore five of these dangers of using pirated software.

1. It leaves you vulnerable to attack

According to a study, thirty-four percent of pirated software downloaded from P2P were embedded with malware that infects a computer after download. About half of these were Trojans.

You expose yourself to malware when you install a pirated software. Ransomware, Trojans, viruses and other malicious software can corrupt your device and the data you have in it.

Malicious codes embedded in some pirated software programs can gain access to your data. Your device, and webcam, can be controlled this way. Pirated software makes you vulnerable to a denial of service attack.

The risks you’re exposed to include:

Access to financial and confidential information

Access to your trade secrets

Access to customers’ transactions and personal records

Identity theft

Data loss and destruction

These are just a few of what’s possible.

2. It might stop working when you need it the most

You might find out that the pirated software doesn’t work with your device. This is because the programs are cracked versions of the original ones. These software programs are likely to alter the accuracy of your results if they end up working.

Some companies check the registration of their software, so it’s possible to have the program run for a while and malfunction as time goes on.

3. It’ll lead to legal problems

Everything that has an original is likely to be counterfeited. It’s unfair when someone steals your idea, pretends it’s theirs and sells it. It’s only natural for companies to protect their assets.

It isn’t acceptable to purchase the fake software as they hardly follow due process. It is copyright infringement.

The LA County Sheriff’s department purchased a license that allowed them to install 3,700 copies of a software by DataWall. It installed 6,000 copies, claiming that only 3700 employees were using the software. The department was sued and had to pay a fine and sttorney fees of more than $750,000.

4. The product can’t be updated

100 percent of the pirated software samples studied by Microsoft Australia had Windows Update disabled and FireWall rules changed.

Updating your software as new patches or updates are released allows you to get a better experience from it. It’s impossible to enjoy this from the pirated version, so you’re stuck with it no matter the limitations. You might even get penalized if you try upgrading to an original package.

5. It puts hardworking people out of work

A report from IDC stated that for every one-percent of pirated software, approximately $40 billion is lost. This removes 150,000 jobs from the worldwide economy.

You put good people out of work and affect the economy negatively. Meanwhile, services like Netflix seem to be effectively saving the system.

Beyond the dangers of using pirated software

Let’s face it, some software is pretty expensive, and you may not need all the features it brings with its premium version. So what’s a techie to do?

You have options:

Use the free version of the software: If the software has a free version, go for it, especially if the free version covers your needs. Most vendors now give free software you can use for life. If you don’t ever need the premium version, you can stay with the freemium version.

Use a less expensive version of the software: If you don’t mind spending a little money, you can buy a version of that software with limited features that will fulfill your needs.

Go for an alternative software: Find an alternative software that solves your needs for free! A competitor app may want to pick up users by offering premium features from your original choice of software for free.

For example, you can use alternative PowerPoint presentation software instead of paying a huge sum for the whole Office suite (or resorting to piracy).

Another way to use an alternative app is to find less expensive versions of your original choice. If you don’t mind spending some money, this would be a great fit.

Check if you qualify for a free premium version: Microsoft gives free Microsoft Office to students and academic organizations who qualify. Some apps may be offering free trials for their premium option or may give you free access to their program under certain conditions.

Take the word “qualify” lightly. You may just need to use an online or mobile version of their software if you create an account with them, just like what Microsoft Office 365 does.

Buy the software: If you truly need the premium version of a software with all its features, and it’s the best in its class for your purposes, then buy it. It’s probably worth spending that money if the app or software has unique features you can’t find anywhere else.

To Wrap It Up

Remember you have options! You don’t need to expose yourself to these dangers of using pirated software. Use a free version of the program or a less expensive pricing plan. Go for an alternative. Or just buy the software if it has unique features.

In order to avoid these dangers of using pirated software, always look out for reputable vendors when you buy software. Verify the authenticity of a website before you buy software from them. Price doesn’t have to always be the first factor in your decision. You might find out that your “cost effective” choice was more expensive.

Nicholas Godwin

Nicholas Godwin is a technology researcher who helps businesses tell profitable brand stories that their audiences love. He’s worked on projects for Fortune 500 companies, global tech corporations and top consulting firms, from Bloomberg Beta, Accenture, PwC, and Deloitte to HP, Shell, and AT&T. You may follow his work on Twitter or simply say hello. His website is Tech Write Researcher.

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What Are You Doing For Thanksgiving?: Justin Warner

Justin Warner is a “rebel chef” who won the eighth season of the TV series Food Network Star with his notably unconventional cooking style. He is also the author of The Laws of Cooking: And How to Break Them, which came out this October.

What are you eating and/or cooking for Thanksgiving?

Generally I go out and have an orphan’s Thanksgiving with a bunch of friends in New York since we’re all transplants and don’t have a lot of family nearby. We go to a place called Congee Village, and eat around a big table with a lazy Susan, which actually does family-style Thanksgiving better than a traditional Thanksgiving in some ways. We always get jellyfish salad, and sometimes we’ll get clam sashimi or pig’s blood porridge.

If I were to make Thanksgiving dinner, I might do a suckling pig in my oven, which is a beautiful thing. A whole pig looks so freaking festive. It’s called a “cochon de lait,” which means milk pig. I’ll do a brine in a trash bag with ice — I love using orange and cranberry sauce, plenty of salt, and baking spices. Nothing is more exciting than everyone picking apart a pig and realizing, “oh this is where the chops are from” or “wow, ribs are really ribs.” Plus, in terms of thankfulness, I think people get more emotionally connected to their food when you have a whole animal like that versus a bird that has had its feathers plucked and head chopped off.

I might also make beef wellington, or I’d love to do a crown roast of lamb. I probably wouldn’t do turkey. I feel like Americans consume poultry as their go-to protein too much. My mom’s an educator, so growing up she would have already had turkey dinner at school, at a teacher’s meeting, and with different family members or friends, all before actual Thanksgiving dinner. I’m thankful that I live in a country where tradition doesn’t dominate my life, and I don’t have to eat a big bird just because Ben Franklin says I should.

That said, if I did cook turkey I would spatchcock it, which involves cutting out the useless bones, laying the bird flat, and cooking it. You don’t get the same presentation of the big bird with a cavity staring at you, which I think looks more elegant. If you think about it, cavities aren’t that pretty.

For sides, I love doing yams or baked apples with wasabi marshmallows. Everyone does marshmallows on top of baked yams, but you don’t need additional sweetness on that dish. By using the marshmallow as a vessel for wasabi, a mustard agent, you’re making a play on honey mustard, which people love.

I also like oyster stuffing. It’s pretty simple. You use oysters and their liquid, plenty of herbs, a fair amount of bread, and Ritz crackers. I also always do a salad. In Thanksgiving dinner, almost everything is the same temperature so it’s nice to do something cool to add a bit of levity to a heavy meal.

You haven’t mentioned dessert.

I’m not really a baker so I’d leave pies and cookies for grandma. I have gotten really into making ice cream, so I might make a small scoop of homemade ice cream with hops, which cleanses the palate and functions as a digestif. I love an amaro at the end of a long meal — there’s something about bitter medicinal herbs that just burns a hole through my stomach and helps food go through.

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