Alan Buckingham

'Alexa, turn on kitchen lights': Setting up Cree bulbs with Amazon Echo and Wink hub

cree bulbs

"Alexa, turn on the lights". This is a phrase echoed, apparently, by more people than I thought. Amazon's Echo is taking hold and seems especially popular with those interested in the home automation side of technology. Voice control can be both good and bad, though. It's great when it works, but embarrassing and frustrating when it doesn't.

Let's start with the bad, though really it's just the amusing. My Amazon Echo is in my living room, as is the TV. Words emitting from my surround sound system can sometimes have hilarious results -- music suddenly beginning to play, Alexa telling me she doesn't understand the question, and if an ad for Echo comes on then things go nuts.

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Xbox beta app for Windows 10 gets a fresh set of features

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Microsoft has been trying to beef up its store for Windows 10, and especially trying to integrate its new operating system across multiple devices from computers to phones to its gaming console.

Now the company is trying to enhance that even more with a new update to its Xbox beta app for Windows 10. This is intended to add features that users were looking for and it is asking for feedback on what the customers think and what they still would like to see added.

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Wendy's investigating a possible credit card breach

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There have numerous instances of credit card breaches recently, with many popular companies affected by the problems. News of one more seems to be expected these days, and now it is beginning to break that a fast food chain may be the latest in this growing line.

Before you panic, this is only being investigated at the moment, so everything may be fine. So far all that's known is that several banks reported a pattern of fraud charges and the common link was that each had been used at a Wendy's location.

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Microsoft and Box expand integration for Office platforms

Office 365

Cloud storage is everywhere these days, with many big players in the game. Despite that Microsoft runs its own service, OneDrive, which fully integrates with Office, that doesn't mean the company isn't open to allowing its customers to use a service of their choosing.

One of those options is Box, which has worked with Office for some time, but now the two pals are getting a bit closer by expanding the integration.

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Torch browser finally ends support for Windows XP and Vista

smoking computer

Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows XP on April 14th 2009 and extended support came to a halt on April 8th 2014. Windows Vista faced a similar fate, only the dates were different -- April 10th 2012 for mainstream support, while extended support has an end date set for April 11th 2017.

Most products have ended support already, though many continue to work on both operating systems. Now one program is calling it quits on the antiquated Microsoft platforms.

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DriveSavers offers data recovery for victims of east coast blizzard

broken hard drive

If you live somewhere between the Carolinas and New York then you likely had an interesting weekend. One of the biggest snow storms in recorded weather history swept up the coast paralyzing numerous states in its wake.

For most areas the problems simply consisted of massive snow removal, though certain areas along the coast dealt with flooding thanks to a storm surge and full moon and others had power outages. While on the whole it wasn't as bad as it could have been, there were still losses.

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Where's my phone? A couple in Atlanta don't have it

pickpocket phone stolen steal purse woman

Smartphones are a hot commodity, meaning thieves want them, but they are also relatively small and easily lost or forgotten. There's an app for that. Well, several apps in fact. Creating ways to find misplaced or stolen phones has become a cottage industry, but these products have limitations.

Locating a device isn't an exact science. It's more just narrowing down an area and then making it a guessing game through triangulation via cell towers -- although using GPS works rather better.

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Roku enhances its search, adding many more channels

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Roku is always adding new channels, the store is jam-packed now. You can even watch the upcoming Super Bowl using the new CBS Sports app the device recently added. All of these options leave it more difficult for users to find the content they want.

Now the set-top box maker is trying to fix that problem, at least to some degree. To ease the pain Roku is expanding its search capability to encompass more channels.

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EFF files in the Federal Appeals Court against tracking phone activity

stop police

We've heard endless talk about our phones being tracked by the government and law enforcement, all done without a warrant. In other words, it's a massive gathering of data "just in case it's needed". That's a very broad swath, and likely most of it is never used for any reason, though there may be scans for certain keywords -- bomb, would be a good example.

The rules for this data gathering have been challenged in court and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is at the forefront of this battle.

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Alexa goes to the movies, Amazon Echo adds its latest update

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Amazon released its Echo device in 2014, bringing a whole new dimension to what people can do with voice control in their homes. Since then the company has been steadily adding features. Not only can it give you sports updates, play music and tell you the weather and news, but it can also control home automation and has an increasing list of skills (small add-ons).

If you are into watching movies both at home and in theaters then this update will make you happy, as it brings several new features a lover of the motion pictures will certainly want to utilize.

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The FBI peddles child porn to catch predators at the cost of the kids

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As a parent you worry excessively about your children. Are you raising them right? Do they understand the concepts of what is good and bad? And of course you want nothing evil to befall them. Criminals and predators are a constant worry, the latter being particularly scary. If something bad happens you wish to fix it as quickly as possible, though the trauma to the child may linger.

But what if the government ran a child porn site? There's the problem and it's one with multiple answers. There's the obvious knee-jerk reaction of entrapment, though those being captured deserve little sympathy. It's akin to the TV show To Catch a Predator which did little real good, but garnered ratings because it sensationalized the people involved.

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Live365 is set to call it quits very soon

girl-music

Streaming services come and go, and some remain popular or even grow over time. Giving the users the ability to create and manage stations is a great idea, allowing anyone to become the radio DJ, perhaps a fantasy of many people, is an even bigger ambition.

The greatest option for this has been Live365, a service started back in 1999, in the early days of streaming. It brought the world of online radio to the masses and made it easy to create your own station.

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A major snowstorm is heading up the US east coast, what should you do?

snow

Unless you are living under a rock then you likely know that there is a major winter storm moving up the US eastern seaboard. There are the usual dire predictions of doom and gloom, though we've heard those before, only to have them not turn out quite true.

The worst case scenario is fairly bad, with blizzard warnings posted across several states and dire claims of possible power outages. So what do you plan to do if you live in the path of this possible super storm?

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You won't believe how many subscribers iHeartRadio has

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iHeartRadio, a leading provider of streaming music, has numerous stations customers can listen to either on the web or through mobile apps. It's a popular service in a crowded streaming market. In fact, it even sponsors a major music festival each year in Las Vegas, the most recent taking place back in September.

What sort of follower-base does putting on a show with big name artists take? Obviously there's a lot behind it, aside from followers -- contracts with artists and radio stations, for example.

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Angler exploit kit celebates the new year by adding CryptoWall 4.0

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We're only a couple of weeks into a brand new year, and the outlook for security isn't looking particularly better. That doesn't mean you'll be hacked or malware will run wild on your computer, but it does mean you'll still need to be vigilant.

Now the popular Angler exploit kit has a brand new threat contained within it and this one could be especially scary. CryptoWall aims to lock up your files and hold them for ransom, an attack method that has been around now for sometime.

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