Alan Buckingham

Microsoft is farming your data, but it isn't what you think

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If you reside in the US state of Maryland then you can find plenty to be proud of -- the Chesapeake Bay is home to great seafood, including the famous Maryland Blue Crab. Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner from a ship during a battle in Baltimore Harbor. Of course, there's the sports teams like the Ravens and Orioles.

But one thing the state tries not to neglect is its history of farming. A vast majority of the state is rural and is home to agriculture, horses and cattle. The state has instituted a Farm Preservation policy to preserve these lands for future generations and even car license plates have been dedicated to the cause.

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Google Maps tries to make it easier to get around with new feature

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Remember the days when we went everywhere with either a printed map or none at all? That's not the case these days as we almost universally have maps at our fingertips. Leading the way in this market is Google, which powers many mobile devices, though it's far from the only option.

Now the search giant is rolling out an update that it hopes will improve getting around town. This comes in the form of a dedicated tab aimed at commuting in the fastest way possible.

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Did Amazon have a security breach? Probably not

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We've grown accustomed to security breaches, from Target to Home Depot and pretty much everywhere in between. It seems like daily news lately, but sometimes it seems companies are so hush-mouth that we just don't know. It's obviously in their best interest to not let word get out – bad for business, and all.

Today a story surfaced about Amazon sending some customers emails requesting that they reset their passwords. The message itself is a bit cryptic, so it's hard to say what really happened. There is also the (slim) possibility it was a scam. We say slim because there are no links to click on, the message seems legit and a carbon copy of one sent by the company before.

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Nest introduces family accounts and a new way to track your activity

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Nest, a company now owned by Google's parent Alphabet, makes products that home automation enthusiasts sometimes salivate over. What began with a thermostat has expanded somewhat to include such things as smoke detectors.

One drawback with the system was the way Nest's app works. If you have a family then controlling things could be a problem, and that's something Nest has set out to solve by introducing Family Accounts.

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Samsung announces progress with SmartThings for Windows Phone

home automation

Windows Phone has its fans, but they sometimes, perhaps most times, feel left out of things. That includes the latest fad, the Internet of Things. Controlling devices in your home can be easily done without moving off the couch, but, for the most part, you better have an Android or iOS device at hand.

Samsung is hoping to open this world up to more people. The company makes a line of devices it calls SmartThings and the platform is compatible with some devices made by other manufacturers. It hopes to soon update its app on the Microsoft platform (yes, it has one) in an effort to please everyone and, perhaps, get a few more customers.

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Erin Andrews gets $55 million for peephole video that will never go away

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What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happens online is yours forever. Things posted don't simply go away -- a problem many of today's youth will face in the future. However, it's also a problem people have to come to terms with right now, even when it's not online intentionally.

That's the case with sportscaster Erin Andrews, who was videotaped naked in her hotel room through the peephole of the room's door. Yes, it made for huge views and sensational news, but it also damaged a human being.

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Can't travel right now? Google takes you to Mzansi, South Africa

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South Africa, as the name implies, lies at the very bottom tip of the continent for which the nation is named. The coast is a region that has long been feared by mariners, who dubbed it Cape of Good Hope -- hopes were that you would survive the journey around it, passing from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean.

But there is much more to South Africa than just that, there's a history there and, also great wildlife that needs to be protected, not to mention the beautiful scenery.

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Discuss the Office documents you share -- Skype comes to OneDrive

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OneDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage solution, is more than just a safe backup for your files. It's also home to the company's online version of Office. Users can access Word, Excel, and more all for free from right there on the website.

The company is also the proud owner of what is, arguably, the top communication app, in the form of Skype. The question when Microsoft purchased Skype was "How will it use this?" Gradually those answers have come around and now there is another instance of the technology being leveraged.

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Seagate succumbs to phishing scam: customers should be safe, employees not so much

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Companies seem to get compromised on a regular basis and, for the most part, it's security holes in their systems. But user error can also be blamed in some cases -- an errant click on an email attachment can unleash all matter of headaches for an IT department.

Such seems to be the case now with Seagate as reports are emerging of a loss of employee data that came via a phishing scam.

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Setting up Nest to work with Wink home automation hub

Nest spy

We have previously written about setting up lights with the Wink home automation hub – there are a number of bulbs that work including GE Link and Cree. We have also provided a tutorial for installing the Nest thermostat.

Now we're looking at linking the two together. Wink can be paired with Amazon Echo, which means you can control your heating and cooling by voice. For now, let's just worry about the first part and we'll get to Alexa later.

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The aftermath of the Japan earthquake and tsunami in Google Maps

Fukushima

It's been almost five years since the infamous Japanese earthquake and tsunami event. On March 11, 2011 the cataclysmic natural disaster unfolded, seemingly before our eyes thanks to 24-hour news coverage. The world watched in horror and donations poured in for relief efforts.

While I doubt anyone has really forgotten that terrible day, it has faded in the memories, except for those who live there or have friends and relatives in the area.

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Samsung buying Tidal? It seems that's not happening

Jay Z

Despite the publicity that music service Tidal has received recently thanks to the exclusive release of the Kanye West album, it has continued to struggle. Rumors the past few weeks have swirled around a potential sale of the streaming service, with Samsung being front and center among the candidates as a possible buyer.

Samsung has already shuttered its video service and there's a chance its Milk Music service is on the chopping block. While Milk has seemingly gained some footing with the free version of the Pandora-like radio, it has little in the way of paid subscribers.

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While the government searches for an iPhone backdoor, researchers find another way in

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While the news about the dispute between Apple and the FBI rages on, security researchers continue to look for other ways into products, not just the iPhone. But as a prominent device it becomes a big target and deserves extra scrutiny.

The security experts from Israel and Australia decided to test out the electromagnetic radiation emitted by devices, in this case using an iPhone. The results were interesting, though they won't help in the case of phones in the custody of law enforcement.

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Yahoo joins the club, throws its support behind Apple against the FBI

Secure your Apple iCloud account by enabling two-step verification

For the past couple of weeks the tech news has circled around Apple versus the FBI, after the iPhone maker refused to comply with a court order to unlock a phone used by one of the terrorists in the San Bernardino shootings. That handset may or may not hold data relevant to the case or perhaps reveal plans for future attacks.

We'll possibly never know, given the agency changed the Apple ID and there are claims that even the iPhone maker cannot now get into it. The FBI, for its part, has acknowledged that it made a mistake in changing that ID.

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Who are the winners and losers in the current IoT market?

home automation

The Internet of Things, more commonly called simply the IoT, is coming into its own, with an ever-growing array of products and manufacturers. Big players are in this market, with the likes of Samsung, Apple and Google being among them.

But who is leading this push to connect your home devices to one another, the internet and, in some cases, hackers? A new study has some possible revelations and insights into this brave new world of products. Argus Insights took the time to look into this matter, and here is what it found.

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