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Forget Mighty Mouse... forget Mickey Mouse... meet Music Mouse! [Review]

Forget Mighty Mouse... forget Mickey Mouse... meet Music Mouse! [Review]

Sometimes a device that does a single job just doesn’t cut the mustard. See those speakers cluttering up valued space on your desk? Be gone foul cones; your services are required no more! Are we foregoing music? Not a bit of it! We are switching to a wireless mouse with an integrated Bluetooth speaker! At least we are if it turns out to be any good...

Things don’t get off to a great start. The Seenda IBT-C04 Music Mouse looks reasonable enough, if slightly retro; but in the hand it's big and angular. There is a slight nod to ergonomics and even a slightly rubberized grip area where your thumb falls, but from the offset it's not comfortable. Perhaps the minor discomfort is made up for by the extra features.

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XCom takes advantage of Marriott's Wi-Fi debacle, issues security alert

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If you happened to miss it, then some background information is in order. The Marriott hotel chain, or actually one branch of it, was caught red-handed blocking Wi-Fi hotspots that its guests brought along on their trip. The hotel giant claimed security reasons, but people didn't buy the excuse. More importantly, the FCC didn't bite on it either.

It seems the Gaylord Opryland Hotel would have preferred customers to pay the exorbitant rates it charges for internet access. The Federal Communications Commission saw things differently and slapped the hotel with a $600,000 fine.

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Enterprise storage: Coping with 30 years of data growth

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Over the past three decades, the storage industry has changed significantly, not just in terms of evolving technologies, but also with regard to the volumes of data we produce and therefore the amount of storage we require. Today, we are accustomed to talking about terabytes and even exabytes when it comes to our data storage needs. But 30 years ago things were very different.

If we consider the capture of CCTV images in the 1980s, image quality was much lower than it is today. Surveillance technology, for example, created low-resolution images, which with the introduction of the VCR, were transitioning from real-time in-person monitoring to being recorded onto tape for playback and archive. The challenges were in tape capacity and the sequential nature of tape, which provided fairly slow access to specific sections of footage.

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More consumers are ditching online shopping for physical retailers

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Many of us are guilty of "showrooming" -- the act of using a brick and mortar store like Best Buy or Walmart as a showroom for products we end up buying online. While there is nothing morally wrong about such a practice, I do sometimes feel guilty doing it. In other words, I enjoy saving money by purchasing online, but I would be sad to see brick and mortar stores disappear; I like touching a product before buying.

While the Internet is not about to go away anytime soon, something surprising is happening -- consumers are returning to brick and mortar stores through "webrooming" -- the act of researching a product online and then buying in a physical store.

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Microsoft adds real-time analytics and machine learning support to Azure services

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Microsoft has announced the addition of several new features to its Azure data services platform to support Apache Hadoop.

Azure HDInsight will gain support of real-time analytics for Apache Hadoop and Azure Marketplace will benefit from new machine learning capabilities.

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Apple shouldn't sell iPad like toothpaste

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Sarah Perez makes the point before I could (oh lazy me): "Apple announces too many iPads". That's the most sensible take on tablets launched last week, and over the weekend copycat stories started posting. Strange thing, there's nothing new about iPad configuration complexity. The number of base SKUs, while way too many, increases by just two.

I first harped on Apple's "too many problem", following iPad mini's introduction two years ago, observing: "It's a crowded lineup, with overlapping features and prices not seen from Apple since the early- to mid-1990s". Crowded is understatement. The mini jacked up the number of basic configurations from eight to 14. However, when looking at all available SKUs, including two colors and carrier-specific models, the number jumped to 54.

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SumatraPDF 3 displays multiple documents in tabs, improves eBook UI

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Krzysztof Kowalczyk has released SumatraPDF 3.0, a major new release of his lightweight and portable PDF and eBook reader for Windows.

Version 3.0 adds support for tabs, allowing users to view multiple documents side-by-side, plus extends support for eBooks and adds a new document measurement tool to the user interface.

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Spotify provides music for the whole family with one plan

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The music streaming business continues to grow and actually buying tracks seems to be heading for the distant memory pile. Spotify is one of the top competitors in this growing industry. The competition forces each business to differentiate itself and today Spotify does that.

The streaming service is announcing a new Family Plan. This option brings tunes to up to four people, all under one monthly bill. Each of the people on the account will be able to keep their playlists, history and recommendations completely separate.

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The best free Start menus for Windows 8.1

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With Windows 10, Microsoft will finally restore the missing Start menu to its tiled operating system. That’s great news for anyone who isn’t a fan of the Start screen and Modern UI. But Windows 10 is still a good six months away (probably longer), so until it arrives, the only options for users of Windows 8.x is to either accept the Start screen, or install a third party Start button and menu.

The good news is there are plenty of excellent free options available. Here are our top 12 recommendations.

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Smartsheet launches new work visualization tool for enterprises

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Often the easiest way of getting information across in a meeting or presentation is to have it in a visual form like a graph or chart.

Collaborative work management company Smartsheet is unveiling a new way to visualize work management and show how people contribute to a project. Instead of the traditional organization chart view, Smartsheet Account Map shows how both employees and external contributors form work clusters around processes.

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Gmail for Android may support more email providers

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On Android, setting up email services other than Gmail involves using the built-in Email app or heading over to Google Play to install dedicated clients. But it looks like users may soon get another option, as Google will likely offer support for more email providers, like Outlook.com and Yahoo Mail, in its upcoming Gmail 5.0 app.

This appears to be Google's way of ensuring that Android users will finally be able to enjoy a consistent email experience no matter what device they may use or what customizations and apps the operating system features. It is a welcome change, and one that is long overdue.

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Mobile devices can boost business productivity

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New research from Azzurri has underlined the fact that equipping your staff with mobiles so they can work on the go makes for a more productive workforce -- but there's still the potential to eke out more productivity from mobile devices.

At least according to the Mobile Productivity Survey 2014, which surveyed IT and telecoms leaders at 188 firms over a number of industries. It found 93 percent of respondents said that they'd experienced an increase in productivity due to staff using mobiles away from the office, with 47 percent claiming that the boost in question was a substantial one.

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Millennials prefer to shop using mobiles

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A new survey carried out by application delivery company Instart Logic looks at the shopping habits of millennials in order to help retailers set their ecommerce priorities as the holiday season approaches.

The results show that millennials -- those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s -- are more likely to use mobile devices to shop, with 55 percent doing so. They still like to use browsers, however, with 57 percent preferring them over native apps.

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Could a Microsoft smartwatch succeed?

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According to Forbes, Microsoft is preparing to launch a smartwatch in the coming weeks. Forbes says the device will "passively track a wearer’s heart rate and work across different mobile platforms". So the good news is it won’t be tied to Windows Phone which only has a tiny 2.5 percent share of the mobile market.

A device that isn’t tied to the one platform is a very smart move for Microsoft. Apple Watch will probably be the device that propels smartwatches into the mainstream, but it requires wearers to have an iPhone. Android smartwatches connect to Android mobiles. If you switch from one platform to another -- move from Android to iOS for example -- you’ll need to buy a different watch. Microsoft’s device could solve that problem. There are other benefits too.

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BBC to fight censorship with a 'right to be remembered' list of articles removed from Google

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The BBC will publish a list of all its articles that are removed from Google under the "right to be forgotten" law that was controversially implemented earlier on this year.

Editorial policy head David Jordan told a Google-hosted public forum that the BBC thinks a number of its articles have been erroneously taken down and that in the "next few weeks" it will publish a list of the URLs that have been removed from Google.

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