Alan Buckingham

Nest grows its home automation integration, Dropcam now in use


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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Google Street View visits Egypt, tours pyramids and more


The Pyramids of Giza, the Great Sphinx, there's a lot to see in Egypt. However, it may not be a place you wish to travel to right at this moment, though there are no official warnings against it from the State Department. Fortunately you don't need to make the trip now, thanks to Google.

Street View, the ever-growing portfolio of images from the Google Maps team, has visited the North African nation and captured the sites in great detail. Included are all of the things that drive tourists to this location -- Pyramids of Giza, the Great Sphinx, ancient burial grounds and more.

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Netflix posts its state of US and Canadian broadband in latest ISP report

Netflix logo

Each month Netflix releases its "shame and blame" report, which covers the major US and Canadian ISP services. The streaming service is not kind, as it revealed problems on Comcast before giving in to demands to pay a fee to appease customers having issues.

The latest report has been issued and Comcast has risen in the ranking to a rather reasonable fourth place. However, the provider still lags behind rivals Cablevision, Cox and Suddenlink. But, it ranks above Verizon FiOS, Charter, AT&T and others. Verizon DSL finishes dead last, but that isn't a major surprise.

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TiVo shows off monster 24 TB Mega DVR, you'll never miss another show


One problem with DVRs is storage -- if you save too many programs you'll find things being deleted to make room for new recordings. Most DVRs land in the 500 GB range, but some are now coming with one terabyte. Things are slowly improving, but now they will be taking a quantum leap thanks to TiVo.

How about a 24 terabyte monster for your TV show storage needs? That works out to about 26,000 hours of stored TV shows (that's SD, HD reduces things to a mere 4,000 hours), which should be enough for even the biggest couch potato. It is, not surprisingly, named the TiVo Mega and will be whole-home capable.

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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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