WORLD’S MOST RELIABLE HARD DRIVES

Backblaze, a backup service, used 41,213 hard drives to store customer’s data. The drives that were most reliable, they say, were four-terabyte capacity units from “HGST,” which was formerly a division of Hitachi. Only one percent of their drives failed. Western Digital, which recently bought the Hitachi unit, came in second and Seagate third.

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THE AGE OF CRYPTO CURRENCY

BitCoin is a much bigger deal than we thought. In the new book, “The Age of Crypto Currency,” by Vigna and Casey, two veteran Wall Street Journal reporters, we learned that Bitcoin is used all over the world where banking is a problem. An Afghani teenager, for example, traded her Bitcoins for an Amazon gift certificate and bought her first laptop. Without Bitcoin, her earnings would have disappeared into her father or brother’s bank account. In Mali refugee camps, people receive Bitcoins as text messages on $5 phones. Without crypto currency, workers often have to depend on strangers to carry money back home to relatives. “The Age of Crypto Currency,” $28 from St. Martin’s Press, also gives us a concise […]

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DRIVING APP HAPPY

The engine warning light went on in our 14 year old minivan, and the dealer said we should add some goop to the gas and that might make the light go off. We’re giving you the short take. Somewhere deep in there, the automatic sensors in the car’s computer didn’t like the engine exhaust, or the carburetor setting or something like that. This incited Bob to a fit of high dudgeon (which is common for him) because back in the old days when he drove a 1962 Morgan, he could tune the engine himself. Everything was accessible to the owner back then, but now you need a computer analysis. Well we have one. It turns out that every car made […]

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MEANWHILE… DEEP IN THE JUNGLE

If you’re deep in the Amazon jungle, in a hurricane, or traveling too far from a cell phone tower, your text message won’t go through. (Good luck dealing with the giant Anaconda.) A new device called “goTenna” fixes that by using radio signals.

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LIGHTNING FAST

We’re going to need a Thunderbolt connection just to share all those photos. Thunderbolt is lightning fast connection developed for Apple. Some new PCs from HP and Asus will have it too, and fairly soon there will be Thunderbolt cards you can plug into the motherboard of older PCs.

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COMPARING GADGETS

Engadget.com/compare lists every gadget category you might think of, such as printers, computers, fitness devices, game machines, phones, speakers, you name it. When you click on a category, you get a list of the brands with the best reviews, and comparisons between them, as well as user comments. Here we learned that “Jambox” speakers get the same high rating as “Sonos,” but are cheaper, at $132 to $220, compared to $200 to $300.

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GOOGLE GLASS COMPETITOR

Google Glass enthusiasts make it sound like everyone will soon be wearing a glasses frame able to project a tiny display. None of this is breakthrough technology; it’s dependent on massive storage capacity and ultra-fast processing by somebody’s data service somewhere, like Google, or the NSA.

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THE XBOX ONE

A number of critics have been saying the Xbox One isn’t worth getting because some of the most popular games won’t play on it. That’s not the only reason. We got one because our favorite game, Peggle, is out in a new version that only plays on Xbox One. The other reason was just to keep up to date on what’s happening out there. It’s a good thing we’re having a blast playing that game, because everything else about the Xbox One feels overpriced and underwhelming. Want to use Skype for phone calls? Or Amazon Instant Video? Or Internet Explorer? Or even the popular Netflix and Hulu networks? Fuggedaboutit. Nearly everything you want to do except free games, requires an […]

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TRACKING YOUR STEPS

We’ve tried several of the new watches that count your steps and measure your fitness , but the one we stuck with turned out to be the least difficult to use and the least expensive. It’s the “Omron Digital Pocket Pedometer,” which was $22 at Amazon. (Amazon’s prices fluctuate, so while you’d think they were always the best deal, often they’re not. Check other discount stores as well.)

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FLATTENED

Tabletop computers are the latest thing this season. They’re flat enough to mount into a coffee table. The ones getting the best reviews are full-fledged Windows 8 computers and cost $900 to $1800. They have stands – like a kickstand – if you prefer it that way.

The 27-inch Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon is the jazziest and

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DIGITAL BACKGROUNDS . How to get your ex back is a very sensitive question these days.