Alan Buckingham

Amazon begins slow roll out of new Fire OS 4 update to its 3rd gen Kindle Fire tablets

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Amazon just recently announced the launch of new Kindle Fire tablets and Kindle readers. The new tablets will come with version 4 of Fire OS, known as "Sangria" already installed, but it seems last years models will also be shown some love.

Those who turned on their devices today found a surprise -- a letter from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos overlaying the home screen. The announcement is fairly short, but lets customers know that their device will be updated in the coming weeks and also provides a "Learn more" link for the curious.

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Logitech reveals the M320 -- a beautiful, battery saving wireless mouse

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Wireless mice are a dime-a-dozen these days, with new ones from all sorts of manufacturers coming along all the time. But when Logitech releases one then notice must be taken, as it and Microsoft are two of the premiere mouse makers on the market.

Today the company announces its latest offering, the M320 wireless mouse, which it touts as both comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. The new peripheral has a lot to be excited about, even if it's just a mouse, or at least that's what the company promises.

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Pebble smartwatch gets a major update, tracks health and fitness

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The smartwatch industry continues to grow with the latest offerings from both Google Android Wear and Apple. But Pebble, a former darling of Kickstarter, got off to a fast start and has been continuing to improve things since its launch.

Now the watch maker is adding yet more features to its offering, giving users access to health and fitness monitoring. Thanks to RunKeeper, there was already a bit of this present, but the latest update brings much more along with it.

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Google sets sights on Apple and Microsoft -- brings Adobe Photoshop to Chromebooks

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Google is trying to grow its budding operating system platform, continually updating and enhancing features. Customers can now work in certain environments offline, for instance. But what lacked was some of the core features of rivals Windows and OS X. However, that slowly changes as well.

Photo editing, for instance, was one feature that, while not absent, certainly wasn't top of the line. Until now you had to rely on an app such as Pixlr, which many Chromebook customers use. But Google today announces that Photoshop is arriving, though not (at least yet) offline.

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Roku adds Cineplex for Canadian customers

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Roku, the tiny set-top box, has been on a roll with new content lately. This time the company heads north for its latest score of new content, bringing Cineplex to its devices. The service will lend much new content to viewers in Canada.

If you aren't familiar, Cineplex is like many other streaming services. It allows customers to stream movies whenever they wish, much like Netflix or Amazon Prime.

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Want Plex? Act now because prices will soon increase

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Home theater nuts tend to like Plex -- it's cross-platform compatible, working on Windows HTPC, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and various other platforms. The server software is free, though you'll pay for the client apps; there is also Plex Pass, which requires a higher fee if you care to upgrade.

The pass gives users access to exclusive premium features, such as camera upload, cloud sync, free apps and more. You can currently grab this for $3.99 per month or $29.99 for the annual version.

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Kickstarter changes terms of service, wants projects finished

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If you've backed something on Kickstarter then you know that you're risking the money you spent, as some come to fruition while others never do. The site has had its share of major successes such as the Pebble watch and the tiny Android-based Ouya gaming console. But there have also been ones that simply get the money and never ship.

Now the service is trying to clean things up with a new terms of service agreement that it hopes will lend more confidence to potential backers. That should be a good thing for customers, and Kickstarter spells things out pretty clearly.

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BitTorrent Bleep alpha goes public, adds Android and Mac

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Chat has become popular on many platforms, from computers to mobile. But BitTorrent has a client that seems to be changing how this all works, by removing the cloud storage from the equation, making this a bit more secure.

Today its chat client, known as Bleep, becomes available to all users. It's still in alpha form for the time being, but these things are moving forward.

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Firefox OS expands its reach in Asia, another market added

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There's one more smartphone platform on the market, although it's far behind the big, established names. Mozilla has released Firefox OS, which is aimed at emerging markets. Now the organization is taking it to one more, adding an Asian nation to its resume.

Telenor Group is bringing the platform to Bangladesh after hitting India just a few weeks ago. "At a press conference in Dhaka, Grameenphone, the local operator for the Telenor Group, announced that sales of the GoFox F15 (produced by Symphony) will start this week", says Mozilla.

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Spotify arrives on Amazon Fire TV, requires Premium subscription

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Amazon continues to grow the ecosystem for its set-top box, the Fire TV. While its portfolio of offerings hasn't yet reached Roku level, the platform is much newer and still getting its legs under it. Today it expands a bit more with the addition of Spotify.

The music steaming service launched today on the Amazon box, though it does require users to have a Premium subscription, which will set you back a few dollars per month.

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Microsoft buys Minecraft, reasons are uncertain

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There's no denying Minecraft is a wildly popular game that many people, both old and young, enjoy. It's also multi-platform, making it extremely profitable and available to many customers. Perhaps that's why Microsoft has announced it has purchased the franchise.

It's hard to say the motive behind this move -- the game does run on Xbox and Windows, of course -- but how does the software giant hope to recoup the money? After all, $2.5 billion is an awful lot to recover from.

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Dropbox lets users know about government activity regarding their data

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We've grown accustomed to "transparency" reports in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations. We all now realize we are being watched and listened to, and that tech companies like Google and Microsoft, complicit or not, have given up user data, though the latter is currently fighting a court order to do so.

"Over the past year, revelations about government surveillance have shown that we need more transparency into when and how government agencies get access to people’s information online", states Bart Volkmer of Dropbox.

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Netflix website gets a makeover with new search interface

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Streaming media service Netflix is upping its game these days. Despite its woes with broadband providers, and the added expenses these have provided, the company continues to move forward on the innovation front. This time it’s the website getting an update.

The company has announced a new search experience, bringing what it hopes will be faster results and easier access to what you wish to watch.

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SmartCharge bulb: See the light, even when the power is out [Review]

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Earlier this year a Kickstarter project I found fascinating came around. Living in an area that experiences severe thunderstorms in summer and the occasional blizzard in winter, I'm no stranger to losing power at times, which can be annoying for anyone.

With this in mind, I bit the bullet and backed the SmartCharge product. I'm not accustomed to paying $35 for a single lightbulb, but the idea was ingenious. Essentially the bulb has a battery inside which keeps itself charged whenever the power is on. When that source no longer exists the bulb switches to battery backup and continues to operate when the switch is turned on.

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Nest grows its home automation integration, Dropcam now in use

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Home automation and the Internet of Things have become popular topics today. Users either love it or fear it, the latter thanks to very real security problems which have been discovered. Nest is no stranger to problems, thanks to its Protect issue from not long ago, but that hasn't stopped the company from moving forward, adding further integration.

The latest move is to partner with more home automation products in an effort to make everything play nicely together. The company, known for its smart thermostat, has joined forces with Whirlpool, Jawbone and LIFX under a program it calls "Works with Nest". It has also been working with home automation makers to get better integration.

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