Alan Buckingham

Lyrics come to the Spotify desktop app

musixmatch-integration-sia

Song lyrics can sometimes be confusing -- think Jimi Hendrix "excuse me while I kiss the sky" that people mis-heard as "excuse while I kiss this guy". Numerous other examples exist, including prominent ones from Bruce Springsteen and The Police. Many times we're left completely confused and searching lyric websites to see if the ear deceived us.

Now music streaming service Spotify aims to save you a trip to A-Z Lyrics, or whatever site you use. The company is bringing the lyrics to you, right in the desktop app. The update will utilize Musixmatch, a service that has a good reputation for getting things right, regardless of how confusing it may sound.

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Patent trolls beware -- EFF to testify before Congress

justice the law

While the phrase "patent troll" is not technically correct, it has become synonymous with a business model that is almost universally loathed. Companies that are created as a front and used to buy up patents and then extort, for lack of a better word, money from smaller businesses -- typically ones they feel they can push around for an easy and quick profit. Unfortunately the tactic works in many cases as those facing litigation can't afford to fight and end up settling to save money.

This practice has brought about a cry for reform of the patent system, which many feel is irrevocably broken. Now Congress is listening and today the Electronic Frontier Foundation will take center stage to plead its side of the argument.

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Do you know where Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev is? You could be $3 million richer

Hackers

Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev is a Russian hacker who could make you rich in a couple of different ways. He is the gentleman who is thought to be the architect behind the Zeus botnet as well as the infamous CryptoLocker scam that holds data hostage for a ransom. Those are two of the largest problems facing today's computer users and each still persists while Bogachev remains elusive.

He has twice been indicted in US courts, once in Nebraska and, more recently, in Pennsylvania. The array of charges is quite long, including conspiracy, money laundering, computer fraud, identity theft and more. These indictments mean little as long as he remains on the run.

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WatchESPN hits Roku, more channels on the way

WatchESPN-on-Roku-TV-home

Sports is the great pain of the cord-cutter -- networks force set-top box providers to verify a cable or satellite account to log into their channels, at least in many cases. The latest addition to Roku changes that somewhat, though not enough to satisfy most customers.

The manufacturer is introducing WatchESPN as a new channel on its product. You'll get everything -- right after you verify your subscription. Otherwise, you'll have access to news clips. Not terrible, and certainly better than nothing, but also not what we want to hear.

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Students worldwide: check your eligibility for free Microsoft Office

students celebrating

Microsoft has been a tireless proponent of education -- the company has many schools on its operating system and Office suite, sometimes at very big discounts. But the best discount of all is always "free", which is exactly what some students will pay for Office. The software giant has even instituted a way for students to check their eligibility.

This comes on the heels of New York City announcing that its students and teachers will be running Microsoft's Office programs. The city isn't alone either, as many other educational bastions move to the platform.

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Want the Windows 10 icons in Windows 7/8.x? Here's how

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Windows 10 isn't here yet, though in a way it sort of is -- in other words, it's a Preview version meant to test the waters. Microsoft has high hopes of putting version 8.x behind it, even skipping a number to distance itself. But not everyone wants to run a possibly unstable version of an operating system, especially on a production machine. However, you can still get the new icon set without installing the OS.

Packs of the icons have been collected and made available for customers of both Windows 7 and Windows 8x. Getting them on your desktop is just a click or two away. The icons are spread out, encompassing desktop, system tray and Explorer.

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What happens when Microsoft meets Minecraft?

microsoft-minecraft

Microsoft and Minecraft are two of the biggest entities in their respective fields -- software and gaming. While the former captures most desktop users, the latter has become an almost obsessive fascination for kids and even many adults. Logic dictated the two should team up, and that's exactly what happened when Microsoft bought Mojang and Minecraft last year.

As a testament to the partnership, two kids -- Alec Baron and Alessio Tosolini -- are using Minecraft in a cool and geeky way. The work, according to the boys, took more than 100 hours of collaboration. When they were finished, they had recreated the Microsoft Production Studios in Minecraft.

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Yahoo Mail brings enhancements to its search functionality

yahoo_new_logo

While much is made about Gmail from Google and Outlook.com and Hotmail from Microsoft (now pretty much combined), Yahoo Mail quietly flies along getting little attention, but huge numbers of customers. Many people likely have accounts without even knowing it -- if you register for a Yahoo service you get an email address, and the company has several popular arms, such as Flickr. Now it is looking to improve its email offering.

First off, there is now an easier folder search. Customers can select any of their folders from a list and then type a word or phrase to zero in on the targeted email. A dropdown menu on the right allows for the folder selection.

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Tempus Fugit -- Microsoft cloud storage service OneDrive celebrates its first birthday

birthday cupcake

Yes, today Microsoft's cloud storage service OneDrive turns one year old, well sort of. Really it has been around since 2007 when it began life as Windows Live Folders, then switching its name to SkyDrive the following year. That was when things began to take off and it has grown ever since, evolving into OneDrive a year ago and adding both features and storage.

Microsoft has been pushing this hard, offering numerous options for free storage, another one announced just earlier today. "We’ve been working hard to make OneDrive the one place for all of your files — including photos, videos, and documents — available across the devices you use every day for work and life", says Microsoft's Omar Shahine.

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Opera sees Africa as a fast growing market for mobile phones

Mobile grocery shopping

While those who reside in the US and Europe may see mobile as a massive market, that isn't the case in all parts of the world. Technology spreads a bit slower in some parts of the globe where even "feature phones" are only now on the rise. Africa is one such market, but it is starting to see an increase in mobile adoption.

"Africa is poised to become a hotbed for mobile growth and commerce in the coming years" according to a State of Mobile Advertising report from Opera Mediaworks. The assessment comes from studying two of the company's most prominent areas -- the mobile browser and mobile advertising.

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Your Android device may be spying on you even when it's 'off'

mobile-malware

Much is made of the "Android malware problem", but the truth is, there isn't a very bad problem. That does not mean there is no problem though. Visuses for Google's mobile platform do exist and some folks manage to let phones and tablets contract a virus. Now a new and interesting bug seems to be floating around.

According to security software maker AVG this latest malware comes with a unique feature -- it can spy on you when you think your device is shut off. It does so by mimicking the shutdown screen, but not actually powering off the handset.

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Google Maps sets sail for Greenland with the Vikings

greenland-ruins

While we all know the Vikings for Scandinavia and for their raids on Britain, we forget the great explorers that they were. They settled in Iceland, Greenland and eventually made their way to North America long before Christopher Columbus "discovered" it. However, it's that second stop we're talking about today.

Google Maps and its Street View technology is more or less constantly adding locations, allowing users to view exotic locals from the comfort of their home or office. This time it’s the Fjords and Viking sites located in Greenland.

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Researchers produce Global Risks report, AI and other technologies included in it

artificial intelligence

Let's face it, we're always at risk, and I speak for human kind, not just the personal risks we take each time we leave our homes. Some of these potential terrors are unavoidable -- we can't control the asteroid we find hurtling towards us or the next super volcano that may erupt as the Siberian Traps once did.

Some risks however, are well within our control, yet we continue down paths that are both exciting and potentially dangerous. In his book Demon Haunted World, the great astronomer, teacher and TV personality Carl Sagan wrote "Avoidable human misery is more often caused not so much by stupidity as by ignorance, particularly our ignorance about ourselves".

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Pebble gets more Android Wear-like with latest update to smartwatch

pebble

Pebble was not the first smartwatch to market, but it did set the trend for today's fad in wearable technology. Now Google has joined the game and Apple has big plans to enter the arena. But for now, Pebble remains the dominant force and the company wishes to maintain its hold.

What more can Pebble do to retain its position? How about adopting Android Wear? That's exactly what the smartwatch maker is doing, announcing that "Our Android Wear compatibility goes from Beta to public release, giving Pebble the power to reply and act on notifications right from your wrist".

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Microsoft updates photo sharing app Xim for all mobile platforms

xim

When it comes to sharing photos services like Instagram and Flickr spring to mind, but there are countless others buried beneath the waves of information and programs available these days. Many fly under the radar, and some of those may be better than the big name alternative you're using.

All of that is not say that Microsoft's Xim is better -- that's simply a matter of personal taste. What I am saying is that you've likely never heard of it. The app has one simple mission -- "share your photos, not your phone". It goes a bit further, promising that the recipients of your shares don't need to have the app to view your images.

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