Alan Buckingham

Follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin as Google Maps takes you to Galapagos


Sir Isaac Newton famously said that "If I have seen further, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants". Newton referred to the scientists who came before him, but Charles Darwin could have uttered a similar phrase. The explorer and scientist visited the islands of Galapagos and saw literal giants in the form of turtles, or tortoises to be precise. In fact, Darwin brought one home to England, though Harriet eventually resided in Australia before she died at the age of approximately 176.

Now you can see these famous, and seemingly ageless, creatures on Google Maps. No need to board the HMS Beagle and set sail, just look on your computer.

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Nest Thermostat moves ahead to third generation


The Nest Learning Thermostat has become quite popular, at least in the tech community. It learns from a user's habits and can be remotely accessed via an app on a phone or tablet. In fact, it can even be controlled using a Harmony Ultimate Home remote control.

Now the product has edged forward into its third generation, bringing a slimmer and sleeker design, as well as being "more beautiful", at least according to Nest.

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iHeartRadio launches a Windows 10 app


Windows 10 has been live for a few weeks now and is getting a lot of attention, deservedly so. Most users seem happy to either be away from Windows 8 or to have avoided it all together. Now it's a matter of getting the apps which are the lifeblood of any ecosystem, both PC and mobile.

To that end, music streaming giant iHeartRadio is announcing its Windows 10 compatible app. "iHeartRadio for Windows 10 will include its signature, customizable listening features known to iHeartRadio's audience of more than 70 million registered users as well as new innovations optimized exclusively for Microsoft Corp.'s most personal, productive and secure operating system yet", the company announces.

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Sling TV comes to Amazon Fire tablets


Sling TV has become the un-subscription model, bringing you TV over an internet connection and eliminating contracts. You'll need a box -- both Roku 3 and Amazon Fire TV will work just fine and put video on the big screen just like cable or satellite. The company motto is "take back TV", and it does so. You can get channels ranging from ESPN to HBO to Food Network.

But what about on the go? Well, you can use your phone, but now the screen gets a bit bigger. Sling is announcing the debut of its service on Amazon Fire tablets.

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Netflix cancels contract with Epix films, Hulu takes it over


Entertainment is the lifeblood of streaming services, bringing TV shows and movies to customers. That includes both original content and that which comes from studios. However, deals don't always work out as planned. The studios can be notoriously bad with licensing content.

Netflix points out that "We hear from our members that you wish we had newer movies. So do we. Studio licensing practices means it often takes more than a year before consumers can watch a theatrically released movie when and how they want".

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How to: Enable OK Google on the LG G4

LG G4 Available Colors Back Covers

The LG G4 is making quite a splash and being advertised seemingly everywhere. There's good reason for that as I previously explained in my review. Overall it's a nice phone, but there are a few things you need to know before getting underway with it.

One is that OK Google is not enabled by default, you'll need to do so yourself. It isn't intuitive, either. But the good news is that it isn't hard once you know how to do it. Here are some simple steps to get you going.

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Plex for Roku gets an update to its look and features


Plex is perhaps the best media server around. It's also free to install, although the app will set you back $4.99, unless you stumble on a deal. It's also multi-platform, with Windows, Mac, Linux and NAS compatibility. The app, similarly, will work on just about any platform, both mobile and set-top box.

Now the version for Roku is getting an update to the channel, as Roku refers to apps on its tiny boxes. The latest version brings a new look and some additional features to the Plex channel.

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Amazon Echo learns new tricks as Alexa can now control music speakers and sprinklers

Amazon Echo

Since Amazon released the Echo last year (November 6, 2014 if you ask it when it was born), the device has been learning some new tricks. It can control multiple home automation devices, though setup can be mind numbing to accomplish.

Now Amazon is adding two more devices. The retail giant is announcing the addition of support for both HiFi company Musaic and sprinkler system Rachio.

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Windows 10 vs Windows 8.1: Which is fastest?


The comparisons were inevitable right from the start. When Microsoft releases a new operating system then people are going to look at it against the previous version, especially when the old one was a bit hated and unsuccessful. It really wasn't bad, but perception is everything, and the folks who heard it was bad steered clear of it.

But how do the two platforms stack up against one another in a performance test? The researchers at security firm AVG Labs decided to take a look.

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Windows 10 now on 75 million devices according to Microsoft


It's been a wild month for Microsoft, given the roll out of the operating system many had been waiting for. For those who were perturbed with Windows 8 and those who skipped it all together, Windows 10 is a definite step up. It's a bit of a hybrid and it came out quickly -- much faster than past versions.

Now after much rather useless speculation, we have numbers that are actually attributed to Microsoft. The information comes via Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President of Marketing for Windows and Devices, who shared the facts on his Twitter account.

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TuneIn Radio rolls out a Premium version of service

woman listening to music on tablet

In the world of streaming entertainment, TuneIn Radio is a bit unique. It isn't just music, you get the news, sports and even podcasts. The Amazon Echo even utilizes it to play content, as well. So what more can you want from the service? Well, how about a Premium option.

This ups the offering, bringing all sorts of new content, including sports and commercial-free music. Enjoy Major League Baseball games, as well as Barclays Premier League and Bundesliga matches.

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Google Classroom gets additional features

students celebrating

It's back to school time, at least here in the US. The big yellow busses have begun rolling, and kids are standing curbside, hopefully under the watchful eye of an adult. There are many things to consider this time of year -- what computer to buy, a phone they can use to call in an emergency. In fact, my colleague Brian Fagioli did an overview of his choices in technology for the student.

But software also plays a major role in this equation, with things like Windows, Office and Google Docs all being possible players in your child's life. One you may not have known about is Google Classroom, but it does exist and it's getting a back-to-school update.

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The history of home automation from the beginning

home automation

That's a broad topic for a headline, and one that could fill a book. It dates back much further than people think. Thanks to today's modern technology and graphics, we don't need to write that book. It's all laid out before us in a nice infographic that shows the highlights of what you need to know about how we arrived at things like Harmony, Nest, Philips Hue and more.

The concept of home automation has been around for a long time but the technology just wasn't there. Many science-fiction writers included it in stories, Ray Bradbury famously among them.

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Is Netflix changing how we watch TV forever?

TV cat Netflix

The media landscape has been changing at an increasing rate. It's not something that cable and satellite providers wish to face, because it pushes out the most lucrative part of the business in favor of making them an ISP. As it is, Netflix has had to pay off Comcast, something John Oliver likened to a mob shakedown.

So how much is a service like Netflix changing TV habits? Obviously there's a variety of on-demand entertainment available from it. There's also an increasing amount of original content, some of which has been nominated for, and actually won, awards.

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Amazon brings new tricks to Echo, rebrands app name

Amazon Echo

If you haven't yet tried out Amazon Echo then you're in for an... ah... experience. It works quite well most of the time. Response speed is amazing. It can become temperamental when you branch out into other aspects like home automation, although to be fair I think that's the fault of the hub more so than Echo.

You'll also need to get past the fact that Amazon is listening to what you say, not to mention that you look a bit like a crazy person talking to an imaginary friend.

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