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Power User Gift Guide

It's the time of the year when the 'Gift Guides' start hitting the internet, normally I skip right past them but I found one over at Ars Technica that is worth sharing. They've come up with a gift guide for the power user, and yup, I'd agree with most of their choices.

It’s the holidays, which means it’s once again time to rack your brain in search of the right gifts for the right people. If someone on your list is into tech, though, we’ve got your back.

For this year’s edition of the Ars Technica holiday gift guide, we’re breaking down our recommendations into themes. Our fourth and final crop of recommendations are for power users, or people who immerse themselves in tech and demand high utility or high performance.

Many of the items below may skew on the pricey side as a result, but they should still serve as a reminder that you get what you pay for.

Goodbye AOL Instant Messanger

AOL Instant Messenger is shutting down today marking the end of its 20 year run. Chances are good you haven't used the service in a good decade, but there were still a few hardcore users that used the service right to the bitter end. Chances are good if you were still a user you've made sure to transfer any personal data you had, but if you didn't, today it will be deleted automatically.

While the popularity might have diminished over the years, any internet service that last 20 years deserves some credit. Fortune has more on the story.

AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), the chat app that was a hallmark of the fledgling Internet-era in the 1990s, is officially shutting down on Friday. It’s time to say goodbye to the screen name that marked your puberty years. Say farewell to your buddy lists—there is no way to save or export them.

If you’re still using AIM, that gives you one day to find an alternative and rebuild your contact list. AIM will not automatically transfer all of your contacts to another service. All personal data associated with AIM will be deleted after December 15, 2017. The company says users can save their chat logs, but it must be done by Friday.

Users will still be able to use their @aim.com email address to send and receive email, according to Oath (formerly AOL).

Disney ends up with Hulu

Thanks to a massive $52-66 billion dollar deal (depends who you ask), Disney has acquired 21st Century Fox and their assets. While Disney acquires things like the Marvel properties, one of the interesting side effects of the deal is that Disney now ends up with majority ownership of Hulu (60%). No one is sure how this all will go, but I think it's a pretty safe to be that Hulu will be seeing some changes in the next year. Fortune has the full story.

Three months ago, Disney announced plans to start its own streaming service, which would go live in 2019. Today, those plans seem a bit less certain.

With its acquisition of 21st Century Fox, Disney will bump its ownership stake in Hulu to 60%. And while Disney certainly wins if it collects revenues from both companies, it’s much more cost effective to have a single one. The real trick, though, will be convincing Comcast, which owns a 30% stake in Hulu.

Using Hulu as the home for all things Disney would give the company a huge head start, rather than building an audience from scratch. The service stopped giving subscriber numbers last year, but is estimated to have between 12 million and 16 million paid users.

Ataribox delayed

If you were patiently waiting for pre-orders to open up for the Ataribox, you'll just have to wait a bit longer. The Ataribox is Atari's that'll give you your fix of retro gaming but also splatter in some indie titles as well. The Ataribox will have a somewhat current AMD CPU and will be running Linux and is going to set you back somewhere around $250-300 USD (when it's finally available). Today was supposed to be the day when you could get your pre-orders in but it has now been delayed with no word on when they'll start pre-orders.

Hard to say how this one will do, the Atari name has a pretty loyal following, however, for $250+ it'll be interesting to see if people can play old Atari games long enough to justify the purchase. Engadget has the story.

Preorders for the Ataribox were scheduled to start today, December 14th, but it appears that plan has hit a snag. Atari sent out an email today that said it's taking longer than expected "to create the platform and ecosystem the Atari community deserves."

The company wants to make sure its product lives up to expectations, so it's delaying the preorders and until it can figure out whatever issues the Ataribox is facing. An updated launch plan is going to be announced in the next few weeks, and the Ataribox team will keep supporters in the loop about what's going on.

Apple Launching a New iMac Pro

Apple is trying to show some shiny hardware to help take your mind off the device crippling they do if you have an older model. The hardware they are showing off is a new iMac Pro. Think of this as an upgrade to your iMac, but nothing so sweet and wonderful as a new Mac Pro. That being said, it's pretty impressive that they are bringing up to 18-core processors to the iMac - but not until later in 2018. Earlier than that, you'll be able to get a sweet 8-core or 10-core unit however. Prices START at $4999 for the 8-core version.

Of course, we will have much more about the iMac Pro in the coming days and weeks, including price details, which have still yet to be revealed outside of the $4999 baseline 8-core version. After seeing it on video, have your plans changed with regard to purchasing one?

Source: 9to5Mac

Apple Slowing Down Devices with Older Batteries

There are always a lot of rumors that companies - namely Apple - try and push you to get the latest device by crippling your old device when a new one is available. There is some data to support that once you upgrade your older device to iOS 11, it will slow you down - based on the wear leveling of your battery. If you manage to change up the battery, your overall device benchmarks improve dramatically. That shouldn't actually make a difference as for speed - just the length of time your device runs. I smell something shady over at the heart of Apple.

Wear level was somewhere around 20% on my old battery. I did a Geekbench score, and found I was getting 1466 Single and 2512 Multi. This did not change wether I had low power mode on or off. After changing my battery, I did another test to check if it was just a placebo. Nope. 2526 Single and 4456 Multi. From what I can tell, Apple slows down phones when their battery gets too low, so you can still have a full days charge.

Source: MacRumors

Nintendo Switch Pulls off 10 Million Sales in 9 Months

Nintendo has struggled with a couple of their recent consoles - both handheld and set-top. Their last success was probably the DS Lite and Wii. Since then, things have been mediocre at best - until the Switch. That particular unit has been a run away success. They've mananged to move over a million units a month and have broken through the 10 million barrier. Things are looking brighter in the future as well as they are ramping up production again and are set to crush through 20 million by mid-2018.

Nintendo hasn't had to do much to spur those numbers. Black Friday and holiday sales by the company reflected only minimal discounts, and few other retailers have gone much below the $299.99 MSRP. The console is expected to be on a lot of holiday wish lists, and "we’re doing our very best to satisfy demand during the holiday shopping season," Fils-Aimé said.

Source: Neowin

HP Fixes Another Keylogger on 460+ Laptop Models

Less than a year ago, a keylogger was found on a bunch of HP machines that used a particular audio driver and it seems that HP really hasn't learned anything. The latest keylogger lives in software used for the Synaptics touchpad and this affects laptops make as far back as 2012. That's right. HP - spying on you for the last 5 years. This is not good and everyone should drop and burn their HP machines and buy something equally flawed from the likes of Dell. Actually, Dell is a good choice as they have Linux versions of their laptops available as well.

A potential security vulnerability has been identified with certain versions of Synaptics touchpad drivers that impacts all Synaptics OEM partners. A party would need administrative privileges in order to take advantage of the vulnerability. Neither Synaptics nor HP has access to customer data as a result of this issue.

Source: Neowin

OnePlus 5T Can't Stream HD

OnePlus has come a long way, but they still make mistakes. Apparently they didn't include support for a particular version of DRM used by Google Play Movies, Netflix, Amazon Prime and others - making default video resolution on the device a mere SD. That is not good at all and it doesn't instill a lot of confidence in their latest device. The DRM patch will be released in the future, but at the moment you're stuck watching movies like it's 1999.

The deficiency was noted in a thread on the OnePlus forums and points to lack of support for Widevine Level 1 DRM, which many services require for HD streaming. The 5T currently supports Widevine Level 3, which only covers standard definition streams. The Verge has confirmed that both the OnePlus 5T and its predecessor, the OnePlus 5, are currently unable to stream Netflix or Amazon Prime Video higher than SD resolution.

Source: TheVerge

Ataribox Pre-Order Start on December 14

While I'd like to believe that Atari is trying to cash in on the marvel that is the "Classic" editions of older consoles, something about this pre-order situation has me a little skeptical. Atari announced that they are bringing the Ataribox to market with pre-orders starting this week, but they have no word on games or when it will launch. I'm sure it really doesn't take all that time to make these little units, but without more details at the announcement, it smells a bit like vaporware. I'm sure they'll bring it out eventually, but Christmas 2018 is a little long to wait.

Excited for the Ataribox? Well, starting December 14th, you'll be able to lay down $250 - $300 for the retro-modern console. The company emailed the news to fans recently and even teased that there will be a chance for the "earliest supporters" to snag one at a discounted price.

Source: Engadget

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