Alan Buckingham

Facebook Messenger gets data-saving mode in beta, test it now

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Little more than a week ago, Hurricane Matthew rolled up the southeastern US coast, wreaking havoc from Florida to North Carolina, with the latter seemingly getting the smallest hit, though it turned out the worst in the long run. My cousin, located there, was without power for some 48 hours and was forced to place his phone in power-saving mode. This eliminated Messenger and all information we received from him afterwards came from texts.

SMS, it seems, is fine in that mode, but Messenger was not -- he claimed he could see that he had messages, but he couldn't read them.

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Vera Bradley is the latest retailer to fall victim to hackers, extent unknown

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2016 has been a long year for retailers, with a number of them being relieved of customer data by hackers looking mostly for credit card information. Wendys, Eddie Bauer, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas and others have all been forced to step forward in an effort to protect customers, though largely done after the fact.

Now the latest victim has been announced as retailer Vera Bradley reveals it too has suffered a serious breach of its payment processing system.

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HP announces refreshed line of Windows PCs for the holidays

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It seems like it was just yesterday we were putting up the decorations, and we've only just put away the bathing suits. Now it's time to think about going through the whole cycle again. We know some of the new tech that will be hitting the store shelves this forthcoming holiday season because some was announced way back in January at the Consumer Electronics Show.

On the other hand, some is only just being unveiled, hoping to capture the news cycle and be fresh in consumer minds as the wish lists begin to get written. One of those companies announcing new devices is HP, which is refreshing its lineup of Windows computers.

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iHeartRadio 2.0 brings new features to Roku customers

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Roku has been in the news several times recently, releasing a new line of set-top boxes as well partnering up with more manufacturers of smart TVs, most recently Hitachi. But the platform is about more than just video. There's also the audio experience.

One of the hot music apps these days is iHeartRadio, which pulls in a plethora of stations and genres for even the most eclectic tastes out there. Now the service is improving its features with a line of new options.

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Hitachi 4K Ultra HD TV's powered by Roku hit the market

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HD inspired pretty much everyone to buy a new TV, but then the manufacturers faced a problem -- what next? They banked on 3D, but people balked, and the technology failed to capture interest with pretty much everyone.

As you may already know, Roku has jumped into the TV market now, pumped up by the possibilities for the future of the platform. The set-top box maker hasn't jumped into the business with its own OEM, but has licensed its software to power the latest big screens in your home. Now the latest model is hitting the market, this one rolling out from Hitachi, a big name brand in the electronics market.

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New study by Kaspersky shows computer risks to those over 55

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It's probably no great secret that today's older generation has a flock of followers online that they largely do not want, who are trying to con them out of their money. Trying to take advantage of this generation is nothing new. In the past it was done door to door with scams such as "roofers" and "driveway repairmen".

Security company Kaspersky has done a study of internet users aged 55 and older and the results, while unsurprising, aren't particularly good.

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Watch the Vice Presidential debate tonight on Roku

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Tonight at 9pm ET the two vice presidential candidates square off in their one and only debate. Unlike the top of the ticket, this pair doesn't get three tries at it. Mike Pence and Tim Kaine, perhaps the most two ordinary candidates in an extraordinary year, will get the chance to give their views and defend their tickets.

If you have cable or satellite then you should have no problem catching the action, depending on your package. But if you no longer have that option it doesn't mean you're out of luck. There are other ways to catch the big debate.

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Come Home to Google's new personal assistant

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Up until now Amazon has had a free reign of the market for home assistants thanks to the success of Alexa. It was time to get some competition, which tends to make things better all around and few companies are more capable than Google.

That's exactly what the search giant is doing today. While rumored as the event to unveil the Pixel Phone, other things were also on tap for showing off, including a new Wi-Fi system and Home, Google's answer to Alexa.

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Xiaomi finally launches its long-awaited Mi Box

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As Google TV struggled, Roku and Amazon Fire TV were seemingly taking over the market. Google finally let its TV platform go, but announced it would be replaced with Android TV. The company also promised a third-party set-top player known as the Mi Box.

It has taken since June, but the much-anticipated Mi Box, announced at Google I/O, is finally hitting the market.

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Change the color of your world with LIFX bulbs [Review]

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One of the fastest growing areas in home automation seems to be lighting. Every day new products come on the market and one of the most popular has been the Philips Hue, thanks to not only simple automation but also the ability to change colors. However, it is not the only one on the market with such a chameleon quality.

LIFX also produces bulbs that can set the color to your mood or taste. The LIFX Color 1000 is one of the latest models from the manufacturer and it will do all that other bulbs in this market are capable of.

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You can now use Alexa to control Wink lighting shortcuts

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If you have a Wink hub then it's easy to set up home automation across a number of different platforms. Throw in Alexa and do a little additional setup and you'll be able to control it all with voice commands.

In the past you've been able to use groups to control multiple bulbs -- simply name each bulb and then add them to a group which you also name.

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You can now get your Google Calendar Events in Google Maps

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Of the multitude of properties Googles owns, Maps and Calendar are two of the more popular ones. Both products can easily be associated with one another in the case of business travelers, so why not bring them together?

That's exactly what Google is doing, making your Calendar appointments available to see while using Maps. This isn't just driving either, it will work just as well if you are taking public transportation.

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New York Motor Vehicle employee caught using computer to get a date

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You'd be hard pressed to find someone who enjoys a trip to their department of Motor Vehicle. While not everyone there is bad or unfriendly, the general reputation would have you believe so. Couple that with long wait times. One thing you don't think you need to worry about is a stalker.

That  appears to be sort of what happened recently in New York. The New York Motor Vehicle employee was caught using a work computer to get a date with a customer -- without the customer's knowledge.

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EFF asks court to block US from prosecuting security researcher

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This has been a controversy for quite some time. Companies don't like their flaws exposed, and for the most part researchers have honored this, at least to a reasonable degree. Generally, a period of time is given for the company in question to fix the problem, but if it fails then the issue is made public, somewhat akin to branding the company with a scarlet A.

Now, one researcher is working on a book that will point out common system flaws and how to either fix them or avoid them to begin with.

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Spotify enters the market in Japan

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Streaming services proliferate the music market these days, making CDs seem very much a thing of the past. One of the more popular options available to customers is Spotify, which sometimes seems to have pretty much taken over. The company would like to keep expanding its global footprint and is taking another step towards that.

Now the company is launching its latest destination, Japan. Spotify announces that at the moment it is invitation-only however, it will be available across major platforms including mobile, tablet, desktop and PlayStation.

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