Latest Technology News

Harmony Home Hub gets voice control with Ivee and Ubi


It seems that every day there are new ways to make us more lazy...ahh...automate our homes. Controlling devices by a smartphone or tablet has become old school. Now options exist that allow for voice commands. Harmony, which is a top choice in universal remotes, is getting in on the act with new partnerships.

Logitech, which controls the Harmony brand, is announcing deals with both Ivee and Ubi. Both allow you to speak the commands and they, hopefully, happen. As Harmony points out it's simply "OK Ubi, watch Netflix".

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I paid for Starbucks with Microsoft Band and so can you -- here's how


Microsoft's Band wearable has been a life-changer for me, as it has inspired me to lose weight and eat healthier. Since I bought in on a whim, I didn't educate myself on all of its capabilities before making the plunge. This proved to be an interesting experience; it was fun and refreshing to learn about the product as I went along.

One of the most interesting and unexpected features of the Microsoft Band is the ability to pay for things at Starbucks. As a tech geek, I am often looking for free Wi-Fi and a comfortable place to use my laptop, and Starbucks is the perfect place for this. On my most recent visit, I decided to use the Band to pay for my beverage. Here's how I did it and how it went.

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LibreOffice moves to the cloud to take on Office Online and Google Docs

LibreOffice moves to the cloud to take on Office Online and Google Docs

Four years in the making, LibreOffice is working towards moving online. LibreOffice Online is due to spring from a partnership between IceWarp and Collabora with the aim of competing directly with Google Docs and Office 365. Upon launch, it will be the first cloud-based office suite to offer support for the Open Document Format (ODF) standard.

Based on HTML 5, there's not currently a launch date for LibreOffice Online but IceWarp and Collabora hope to drive competition and innovation by entering the market. The suite is already available for just about every mobile and desktop platform, so the move to the cloud was all but inevitable.

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What could you buy for the price of Apple Watch?

money cash burn fire

As Apple Watch hype increases and the preorder date (April 10) approaches, a question gnaws me: Why would anyone spend so much money on the device? Our BetaNews buying poll now exceeds 1,000 responses, which is large enough sample-size to get some sense of the readership's intentions. Fourteen (2 percent) of you plan to buy the Edition model, which price ranges from $10,000 to $17,000. No disrespect, but talk about money to burn! Forty-five percent of respondents plan to purchase any Apple Watch, while another 5 percent of you are undecided.

So I wonder: What could you buy instead of Apple Watch? I intentionally single out the big spenders, settling on $13,000 as mean between $10K and $17K, being it's such a lucky number and Apple looks to make lots of luck—eh, money—from the smartwatch. Before continuing, an important reminder: Functionally, there is no difference between the cheapo timepiece ($349) and its massively-expensive sibling. The price difference is all bling.

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DDoS attacks are up -- and getting more sophisticated

DDoS attack

Yes, I know, on Tuesday we reported on a study showing that DDoS attacks were down in frequency, though increasing in severity. But another report from Corero Network Security now suggests that they've actually increased in numbers.

Measuring the number of DDoS attacks is beginning to look like asking how long a piece of string is. Anyway, Corero says that attacks are up with its customers experiencing attack 3.9 attempts per day.

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Sony rolling out new update to your PS4, here's what you get


The Sony PS4 is seemingly doing well in its head-to-head battle with Microsoft's Xbox One. But that doesn't mean the company can just rest -- snooze and you could fall behind to a competitor that is updating often and at a quick pace. Sony isn't sleeping though, today announcing an update that will be coming to your box very soon.

The update is codenamed "Yukimura" (yes, I had to look it up as well and it's still vague -- we'll go with the Samurai by that name since it sounds cool). Name aside, what's important is features, and Sony promises a number of them.

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Microsoft signs letter to congress calling for changes to government surveillance

Microsoft signs letter to congress calling for changes to government surveillance

Microsoft has teamed up with the likes of Mozilla, Silent Circle, Human Rights Watch, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others, signing a letter to the White House and Congressional leaders that calls for an end to bulk collection of data. Many people and organizations have called for reform to the USA Patriot Act and this letter is the latest attempt to pile pressure on the government to make changes.

Scores of signatories point out that the USA PATRIOT Act Section 215 is due to expire in June, and now is the time to instigate reform. A call is made for greater privacy protection to be put in place when data is collected, as well as for improvements in transparency.

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Colorblinding shows how websites look to the color blind


You can spend a very long time choosing your website color scheme, finding a starting shade, then a matching palette, shuffling and rearranging until you find something that appeals.

This isn’t all about you, though -- it’s also vital to understand how your design will be seen by anyone with a color vision deficiency.

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Half of all Android users vulnerable to year-old security flaw

Android danger sign

Half of all Android users are still vulnerable to a security flaw uncovered in the most-popular mobile operating system early last year, according to a new report from security firm Palo Alto Networks. The vulnerability in question allows an attacker to modify or replace Android apps with malware without the user's knowledge.

Google was informed of the vulnerability in February 2014, a month after its discovery, and has since come up with a patch, which it has included in later revisions of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and newer distributions. According to the latest data from Google, that still leaves 49.9 percent of all Android users unprotected.

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How to install Windows 10 March Build (10041) on Oracle VirtualBox

virtualbox win10

Microsoft has just released ISO files for latest build of Windows 10 Technical Preview. There aren’t a massive amount of new features in Build 10041, although the Start menu gains transparency, you can drag and drop apps to Start, virtual desktops have been improved, and Cortana is now available in countries outside the US.

As with the previous releases, Build 10041 is still a very early version of the OS, so you wouldn’t be advised to run it as your main operating system, and while you could set it to dual boot, running it in a virtualized environment is probably a more sensible idea.

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Microsoft makes an investment in the youth of Vietnam


The youth is obviously always the future and today's tech companies have good reason to invest in that, given a seeming shortage of necessary people to fill positions. Microsoft is just one company looking to help fill that void by providing resources to get kids started on the right path, regardless if it's with them or somewhere else.

The software giant has a global program it calls YouthSpark which aims to provide education and employment for the future of the young folks around the world. The latest move is a three million dollar investment, spread over three years, to help out in Vietnam.

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Facebook apes TimeHop with On This Day

Facebook apes TimeHop with On This Day

History. It's so much more reliable than the future. You know where you stand with things that have happened. This is possibly why they are often looked back upon (is that not the only way to view such things?) with such fondness. Unless they were bad things, of course.

Latching on to the general liking for getting moist-eyed and nostalgic, Facebook is rolling out a new On This Day. It's something that borrows heavily from services like TimeHop, and gives users of the social network a new way to check back on the content they've posted. It's something Facebook has experimented with already with its Year In Review, but this is a more wide-reaching feature.

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PhotoDemon gains RAW support, more selection tools


Tanner Helland has announced the release of PhotoDemon 6.6, his open source photo editor for Windows.

The lengthy list of major new features starts with powerful Magic Wand, Polygon and Lasso selection tools.

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Windows 10: Smooth user experience it ain't

Windows 10: Smooth user experience it ain't

Despite months of work, Windows 10 still falls a long way short of what it should be by now. Based on the last time I wrote about Windows 10 in a less than positive way, I'm not expecting great feedback on what I'm about to write. Of course, there is the caveat that we're all using a pre-release version of the operating system and problems are to be expected, but that’s not really the point.

The point is that Microsoft has been working on Windows 10 for quite some time now. Public builds have been a little slow to creep out -- despite promises that things would speed up -- but I'm concerned about how little time there is until the planned release. While there's a lot that right with Windows 10, there's an awful lot that's still very, very wrong.

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Software vulnerabilities up 18 percent in 2014 and Microsoft isn't to blame

Software analyst testing

Errors in software, whether operating systems or applications, are usually the root cause of security issues, allowing hackers and cyber criminals a way in to systems.

In 2014, 15,435 vulnerabilities across 3,870 applications were discovered according to a new report from vulnerability intelligence specialist Secunia. That represents an 18 percent increase in vulnerabilities compared to the year before, and a 22 percent increase in the number of vulnerable products.

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