Alan Buckingham

Samsung tells users to just say no to Windows 10 upgrades

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A lot has been said about Windows 10, Microsoft's latest operating system. That's both good and bad because, while it's an improvement over the previous 8.x offering, the company is trying hard to foist the new OS upon users. Really hard. To the point that it has led to embarrassing high-profile situations.

Undaunted, the company continues with its strategy, but now one hardware maker is telling its users to say no to the nagging messages.

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Alexa gets new features for Amazon Fire TV

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Amazon has been actively pursuing improvements to its line of products, be it Echo, Fire TV, Kindle or Fire tablet. Of all of the products, perhaps the most updated one and the one which gets the most attention, is the Echo, often referred to as Alexa.

The latest improvements are to Fire TV, gaining Alexa-like features. This isn't technically an Echo update, but an update to the set-top box.

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Microsoft is recycling old gamertags for Xbox customers

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Many customers of Microsoft's Xbox gaming platform utilize the company's Live service so that they can play against others from the comfort of their own home. And, like any service, when you set up an account you choose a user ID, in this case, it’s a gamertag, which is what you become known by when online.

Many of these handles have been used up over the years, and some of those early ones have since become inactive for a variety of reasons. Now Microsoft is going to be opening those monikers up again to allow other customers to grab them.

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Evernote and Google Drive are coming together

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If you're a fan of keeping notes and lists then you really have two main choices -- Evernote and Microsoft's OneNote. Both can be good methods of keeping track of things. For instance, keep a tab open in your browser to add items to a grocery list as you think of them, then arrive at the store and the list is on your phone.

Now Evernote is teaming up with another powerhouse in business, Google. The company is announcing that it will work with the search giant's cloud storage service, Drive.

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Alexa gets travel search with new Kayak integration

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"Alexa, play Jeopardy". Many phrases uttered around here lately begin with "Alexa". Amazon's Echo can do an ever growing number of things from simply playing music to controlling home automation. Other tricks are always in the works from both Amazon and third-parties.

The latest "skill", as these things are called, is integration with travel giant Kayak. The company is announcing integration with all Amazon Echo devices, including Dot and Tap.

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Embark on The Grand Tour with the Top Gear gang

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It's been a while since the boys were together on your screen. But Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are reuniting, but this time the offering has a brand new title. And on this go-around they won't be on the BBC, they'll instead be debuting on Amazon Prime.

Now the brand new show, which is currently in production, has finally got a name. It's been decided it will be called The Grand Tour, because of the way it is being made.

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Amazon announces Video Direct in an effort to compete with Google's YouTube

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Despite competition from the likes of Vimeo, YouTube has remained at the top of the heap for streaming videos, mostly because of content that comes from its users. While it's hard to see it being toppled anytime soon, it will have a new rival trying to do just that.

Amazon, which already runs its Prime Video service filled with TV shows and movies, is expanding its footprint, adding user content.

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Microsoft Cortana is helping the Portland Trail Blazers with sales

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When it comes to sports teams, marketing is everything. You have to sell tickets, merchandise and get the deals for TV coverage, though the latter is usually covered by a deal with the league. Now the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers is teaming up with Microsoft in an effort to obtain the data it needs to increase its revenue.

To accomplish that goal the team is turning big data and the power of the Cortana Intelligence Suite, Microsoft's digital assistant.

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Samsung has a SmartThings security problem, according to UM and Microsoft Research

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The Internet of Things, or IoT, has been both a blessing and a bain since it came into existence. Does convenience trump security concerns? That's the question each user has to ask his or herself. It's that security part that tends to make the news.

The latest to suffer a setback is Samsung SmartThings, with a new report claiming the platform has a security problem. The vulnerabilities reported are only hypothetical so far however.

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Online payment fraud set to grow over the next four years

Cyberthief

Fraud is nothing new on the internet. From phishing scams to ransomware, we've seen it all. However, the fastest growing part of this dark market seems to be online retail payment fraud. There's a lot of money to be made in this segment of the economy.

According to a new report, online retail fraud accounted for a whopping $10.7 billion in 2015, but, even worse, it's an up and coming thing. Juniper Research claims it could grow as high as $25.6 billion by the year 2020.

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Got home repairs? DIY is free this month on Sling TV

DIY

When things go wrong in your home, and they seem to do so at an alarming rate sometimes, then you can hire a repairman and suffer the charges for labor, or you can learn to fix it yourself for the cost of parts and your own sweat.

The question is, how do you learn these things? Well, the obvious answer is the internet, but that isn't always as hands-on as you may need. It helps to really see things being done, as opposed to following what amounts to a user manual.

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Fitbit's Aria internet-connected scale can be hacked

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These days more and more items around our homes are connected to the internet. In theory, this sounds like a great idea, and it can be -- providing it is implemented correctly, meaning in a secure way. In practice, however, that isn't always the case. We've seen endless stories of what can go wrong, even Barbie dolls turned bad.

Scales are probably one of the last things you'd expect to be connected. Actually, though, that innovation came several years ago with a scale that tweeted your weight -- a great way of shaming you into continuing that diet and exercise program.

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Hacker creates reality TV with users' webcams

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The webcam debuted long ago and has become integrated into many computer systems. People use it for any number of things, and products like Skype utilize this functionality. But the innovation has a darker side. It turns out this little add-on can be hacked, allowing the perpetrator to view the user.

A hacker in Russia took this to a higher level by not only accessing people's cameras, but broadcasting the video online, right on YouTube.

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Ira Glass arrives on Pandora as This American Life is released on the streaming platform

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You may well have heard the popular radio show This American Life. It's broadcast out of Chicago, but syndicated around the US, and perhaps has an even greater footprint thanks to its podcast. Host Ira Glass has taken his idea for a little show and turned it into a force in media.

Despite the name, the shows are very much international, though they usually involve Americans, even in foreign locations. Glass also covers all sorts of incidents from the financial crisis to crimes. Now the long-running show is coming to Pandora, a platform known for its music streaming system.

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Amazon Prime Music debuts on Sonos systems in the UK

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Amazon Prime has become hugely popular, and it's easy to see why. For $99 per year, customers get free two-day shipping, streaming video, streaming music and Kindle lending library. Sonos is less adopted because of the price, but if you've invested in it then you have a great whole-house audio system.

Six months ago, the two came together in the US to add to your musical enjoyment and today Amazon Prime Music will be debuting on Sonos in the UK and filling British homes with tunes.

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