Alan Buckingham

Pandora ups the ante with its iOS and Android updates

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Pandora, one of the darlings of the music streaming industry, has been around for some time. But the old dog can still learn new tricks, and the service proves that by continuing to improve its offering. It's also one of the best priced services, if you care to get the premium subscription.

The latest update benefits iOS and Android users -- two of its biggest customer bases. "The design of this latest update is part of our ongoing dedication to innovate the UX and UI across platforms, and as a result, provide effortless music discovery and listening for more than 75 million listeners each month", Pandora announces.

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US streaming devices market continues to grow, Roku leads the way

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On the heals of Amazon shipping its Fire Stick, a new HDMI dongle that provides similar capabilities to the previously released Fire TV, the market for streaming devices has continued to grow. And it's also getting more competitive, as each company improves its offerings.

A new study published by Parks Associates shows that a record ten percent of US households now own a streaming device. That still seems a small number, but perspective is needed. First, it's growing, and second, some people just aren't going to buy in to this technology -- my parents wouldn't know what a Roku was, nor what to do with it.

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Black Friday deals -- Amazon places its own devices up for sale

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It's now the time of year for shopping and finding deals, and Black Friday reigns supreme in this category. As customers line up at retail stores, they miss the fact that staying home can also net you deals at online retailers and save you from the hectic mess that is the king of shopping days.

This time around, Amazon is offering steep discounts on its own products. Those in the market for a Kindle, Fire tablet, Fire phone or the new TV stick are in luck.

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Black Friday deals -- get a discounted Roku device

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We've reached that time of the year when merchants offer deals and people are hungrily shopping. If you still read a newspaper then today's edition is likely a bit heavy, laden with ads for Black Friday sales, some of which are already underway.

Roku is also getting in on the action, offering some nice discounts on its TV devices, both set-top box and stick. Bringing streaming online media to your living room, the company is offering some good deals and throwing in a bonus to go along with your purchase. And you don't need to leave home and fight angry shoppers for it.

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Amazon deal -- grab a Fire HD 6 and get a bonus

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Amazon recently released new devices, including Fire tablets and Kindle readers. But with the holiday shopping season now upon us, it's time for deals. The retailer is responding with multiple ones, some already being available on the site.

This one is a bit different, though. The online store wishes for you to purchase its new Fire HD 6 tablet, and to entice you, the pot is sweetened.

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CryptoLocker: the comeback -- malware reemerges ready to steal your money

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CryptoLocker has now been around the block a few times -- it's been locking people's data and demanding money for sometime. The threat finally (mostly) disappeared. However, it seems to be experiencing a resurgence, as a new strain of the virus has been detected.

If you aren't familiar, and honestly, you don't want to be, CryptoLocker encrypts the files on your computer and then holds you for ransom -- pay or lose your data.

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XBMC moves forward with name change as new logo is chosen

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XBMC, whose name was derived from Xbox and Media Center, is making a change that you may have heard about. Or at least you have if you delve into the HTPC world. The platform will soon be officially known as Kodi, distancing itself from Microsoft, though it continues to work on the company's products, just as it always has.

To go along with this fresh new face, a new logo was also in order. For that, the organization reached out to its community. The result was an amalgam of the feedback received during the process.

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Gamer alert -- you can now play Tetris on your Roku

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Most people don't think of a set-top box as a gaming device, but that concept has been changing recently. Amazon's Fire TV and  Google's new Nexus Player are both enabled with capability that has the gamer in mind. Now Roku is stepping up as well.

The company announces that the classic game of Tetris is now available to its customers. "Casual gaming is a great feature available on Roku players and is perfect for a little friendly competition on family game nights. The addition of the Tetris game to the Roku Channel Store provides another great option for a fun, engaging game to keep your whole family entertained".

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HBO GO reaches the living room via Xbox One

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HBO GO has been in the news lately, especially when the HBO network announced that it will be discontinuing its paid cable/satellite service restriction and turn it into a stand-alone service. It's also now making inroads into the living room -- perhaps in preparation for that big move next year. To that end, the network is moving into the Xbox One ecosystem.

Larry Hryb, better known to most folks as Major Nelson, announces the release -- "HBO GO is arriving on Xbox One in the US, bringing along every episode from every season of your favorite HBO shows. With HBO GO, subscribers can watch the latest episodes from shows like 'True Detective', 'Game of Thrones' and 'Girls', along with your favorite hits like 'Entourage' and 'The Sopranos', HBO GO on Xbox One features Kinect voice and gesture control so you can easily search the entire catalog via gestures or voice commands".

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Momentum continues as Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines move to Surface Pro 3

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It may have taken a few tries, but Microsoft is gaining momentum with its tablet/laptop, the Surface Pro 3. The device, which includes an optional keyboard, was released a couple of months ago, and sales seem to be lively from what we've heard.

It's not a major surprise, as businesses love Windows, and now more are adopting this platform. Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines are moving to Surface Pro 3. Microsoft claims it is adopting "certain commercial requirements" in an effort to make the device more appealing to the enterprise.

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Microsoft and Opera agree to terms on App Store deal for Nokia phones

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Microsoft purchased Nokia, in part, earlier this year and has now begun the slow process of making it their own. New phones are being rebranded, which is not particularly surprising. Though, parterning with Opera (yes, the browser maker) is bit of a shock.

However, today the Norwegian company announced a deal with the software giant to begin powering the app store on certain models of handsets.

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The new Kindle reader -- bang for your buck [Review]

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If you have grown tired of hardback and paperback books, then a Kindle may be your answer. Coincidentally, Amazon has released two new models, a standard and the Voyage, which my colleague Brian Fagioli reviewed recently. These complement the existing Paperwhite, which has not yet been updated.

If you've never before owned a Kindle, a club I fell into, then you'll find many interesting aspects to the device, which we'll discuss as we go along. The most prominent feature is obviously e-ink, and that isn't new to the platform. But it's important for several reasons -- one, it makes your books look like actual books, and two, it preserves battery life beautifully. You can go weeks without charging.

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Google goes to Australia, lets you tour the parks with Street View

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There is, perhaps, no place the Google Street View team will not go, including national parks around the US. The crew has traveled around the world, and even beneath the oceans. Now the team is honoring the IUCN World Parks Congress, which is taking place in Sydney, Australia this time around. The meeting happens only once per decade, so it's a big deal.

In celebration, Google has trekked 21 parks and 27 underwater spots in an effort to bring them to your desktop. There was some help, and this came about through a partnership with New South Wales National Parks and Catlin Seaview Survey.

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Wearable technology market grows -- Asus releases ZenWatch

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Wearable technology is here, though not everyone seems to be on board with the 'trend'. Still, the market is growing and existing products are evolving to do more. Pebble has just released a new batch of updates featuring the ability to order Domino's pizza, new watchfaces and several other apps available to its customers.

Now Asus, known for its computers and tablets, is releasing its entry into the market, announcing the ZenWatch. The new model is utilizing AndroidWear and features a classy look, with a nice face and stitched leather band.

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Order Domino's pizza from your watch? Pebble now does that

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Pebble was not the first smartwatch, but it could be argued that it popularized the platform and led to others creating similar devices. The company isn't resting on its laurels either, as it continues to make improvements and get apps in its store. The latest new addition is geared towards the hungry.

Pebble is announcing that pizza giant Domino's has arrived on your wrist. Yes, you can now order your pie right from the watch -- toppings are up to you.

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