Alan Buckingham

Spotify plans new video ads for its 30 million customers


Customers can opt to subscribe to music streaming service Spotify, but many elect for the free version which is ad supported. Now those ads will get a bit more visible as "Spotify for Brands" takes shape with new offerings being introduced.

The new service comes in two versions called Sponsored Sessions and Video Takeover. This isn't quite as intrusive as it may sound at first. In fact, there is actually some benefit to the users. "Spotify Free users can opt in to watch a brand-sponsored video spot (aka a Sponsored Session) in exchange for 30 minutes of uninterrupted music", explains Spotify's Candice Katz.

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What makes Amazon's Fire TV special?


Earlier this year I obtained both a Roku 3 and an Amazon Fire TV. I use both devices and find both work very well for any home theater enthusiast and media geek. But what separates the two products, aside from a name?

With extensive playing around with each product, I've discovered what does it for me. While the Roku 3 remote is simpler, and contains a headphone jack (handy for when family is asleep, and you don't want to disturb anyone) it doesn't really have a killer feature.

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Google lays out a roadmap for Android Wear, music and more on the way


Smartwatches seem to be a polarizing force in the marketplace these days; love or loathe them, they seem here to stay. So far, when it comes to Google's Android Wear, we've seen three devices debuted and another on the way, all of which should appeal to those looking to this market as the future.

Now, Google has expressed its software plans for the future of its wearable platform. Included in this roadmap is both music and new watchfaces, which should appeal to potential customers, though the hardware already boasts thousands of apps.

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Samsung reveals Android-powered printer lineup at IFA


IFA, one of the world's largest tech shows, is currently in full-swing in Germany. We've seen tons of announcements and new products coming out of the show, most notable so far are new phones from both Samsung and Microsoft. But Samsung had more up its sleeve than just phones.

The company has unveiled a new lineup of printers, and this series is unique. The printers are powered by Android, and Samsung claims they are designed for business, though home users can certainly still grab one if they choose. "The MFPs are the first printers of their kind to be equipped with an Android operating system, and are designed to be more independent, intuitive and scalable for all types of business environments", the announcement states.

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Netflix throws support behind FCC proposal to increase broadband competition

Netflix logo (square)

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'll state the obvious. Broadband in the US is broken. In fact, it's a complete mess. Speeds lag behind multiple smaller nations and providers were granted monopolies in many cases, thanks to complaining about the expense of laying the copper. At best, most citizens have access to two carriers -- that's one more than many, including yours truly.

Competition doesn't exist, but the oft-maligned head of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler, wishes to change that. While his net neutrality initiative has been met with staunch opposition, this latest move may win him a few fans.

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Wait, I can add a turntable to my Sonos?


Sonos, for those not familiar, is a multi-room audio system that many people love for its diverse functionality. You can play music everywhere in your house, providing you lay out money for each of the speaker systems. What more functionality could you possibly want?

Funny you should ask. How about a turntable? You remember -- those relics from a by-gone era. Except they still aren't dead, and many people still prefer the sound. Audiophiles claim it is the best, as opposed to CD and MP3.

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Digg Deeper comes to Reader and iOS, adds email option


Digg may not be the "in" thing that it was when Kevin Rose started it, but the site is still around and trying to stay relevant. Last year, in the wake of Google's shutdown of its Reader app, the social sharing site launched an alternative. More recently it launched Digg Deeper, a service that automatically IDs trending stories and videos based on those you follow via Twitter.

Now Digg Deeper is coming to more platforms, one of which is the aforementioned Reader application. "You can now use Digg Deeper to scan the most-shared stories, videos and links from your Twitter connections", the service announces.

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Logitech introduces cross-platform keyboard for phones, tablets and computers


Many people these days have multiple devices -- a computer, smartphone and tablet is not unusual in any home. Desktops require a separate keyboard, while the other two rely on an on-screen model, which can be annoying at times. Now Logitech wants to solve that issue with one solution for all platforms.

The Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 can work with up to three different devices. A switch allows for movement between each, with a holder for your smartphone or tablet. It's a full-size desktop keyboard though, so users shouldn't feel cramped, as they did with previous tablet and handset keyboards.

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Spotify joins forces with Denon for multi-room audio system


Multi-room audio is a popular addition to homes today, with Sonos becoming a leading name in the space. But it certainly isn't the only player in the game -- Denon, a high-end component maker, also has a solution, and has now teamed with Spotify for additional functionality.

The HEOS system comes in three different models -- the HEOS 3, HEOS 5 and HEOS 7. Each is sized differently and ranges from high-end performance to portable. And now the system has Spotify built-in.

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New Nanoleaf LED bulb dims without a dimmer switch


In a strange twist, lightbulbs have become a part of today's technology world. It's all part of the Internet of Things -- home devices that aren't computers, but still utilize the home network for control. We've seen this being a bad thing, but mostly it seems to be good. After all who doesn't want to turn on the lights when getting close to home.

The latest is a Kickstarter project, the Nanoleaf Bloom, which is now ten days away from closing. The goal has been reached, but there is still time for buyers to secure one of the early models.

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Goodbye Windows, I'm sticking with Chrome OS

HP Chromebook 11

Earlier this summer I wrote about moving to a Chromebook -- I'm working from my porch and I want something easily portable. I stated at the time that I was not sure where things would lead when the weather took a turn for the cooler. In previous years I've used a Windows 8.x (or 7) computer, as my office contains two desktops and a laptop running the Microsoft operating system as well.

Don't get me wrong -- I still see a need for the platform, but I simply don't see it for myself. I write in Word, which has a Chrome app. I edit images, which Pixlr handles quite well. Beyond that, I do little else outside of checking email and scouring the web for news.

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Samsung teams with Nike for new Nike+ running app on smartwatches


Sadly the summer is winding down, with Labor Day weekend having arrived. But that means the best time of the year for runners is now on the horizon, with cooler autumn weather. To get you ready for this time of year, Samsung has struck up a deal with Nike.

This deal brings together one of the top phone makers and a famous running shoe manufacturer. The two are teaming up for a new Nike+ app that will be coming to the Samsung smartwatch platform.

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Mozilla loses more user info, this time data of 97,000 customers goes out through Bugzilla

Hacker Virus

It's been a bad month for Mozilla, as the company seems to be shedding user data left and right. The problems are apparently not over as new information has come to light regarding the loss of another 97,000 emails and passwords that were left exposed.

The latest issue comes via Bugzilla, and the organization has reset all user passwords in an attempt to alleviate the issues. However, that didn't stop customer data from being exposed for about three months.

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Intel and Michael J Fox Foundation are using Pebble watches in fight against Parkinson's Disease


You're likely familiar with actor Michael J. Fox, star of the Back to the Future movies, that we, of a certain age, all remember. Now the actor suffers from Parkinson's Disease, a mality his foundation wishes to draw awareness to, perhaps even help with finding a cure.

Now wearable technology is getting in on the action. Intel has teamed up with the charity in an effort to utilize such items as the Pebble Watch to help in the fight. While a number of people are skeptical about this path that technology is now heading down, this certainly makes for a good use that few would likely argue against.

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BitTorrent Sync gets an upgrade, includes large file sharing

bittorrent logo

BitTorrent Sync has gone from alpha to beta to full release. Along the way it has become one of the best and most secure sync apps, with security largely because of its decentralized nature. Now the service is getting a major update that adds even more features to the platform.

BitTorrent is introducing large file sharing, allowing something like an entire folder full of photos to be shared with a group of friends and family. With the new work-flow that has been built for version 1.4, customers don't need to set up an account. "There's two ways to send a link, via email or copying it to your clipboard (so you can send using any communications tool of your choice)", Erik Pounds, vice president of product management, explains.

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