Alan Buckingham

SmartThings introduces Lock Codes to help friends and family

Smart locks have become another popular product in the market commonly known as the Internet of Things, or IoT. It's designed to make a home safer, but also more accessible. It has its limitations though, and companies are constantly working to overcome those.

Now SmartThings has a solution which utilizes Lock Codes. These allow the user to create temporary codes for friends and family, which will give the owner more control of comings and goings from their abode, hopefully leading to more peace of mind.

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Wal-Mart commits to the new Tesla Semi

You certainly know Tesla, the car brand launched by Space X's Elon Musk. It's an electric car that has had its ups and downs in its relatively short life. Musk is always looking to the future, though, so each of his current major companies continues to innovate in an effort to stay ahead of the market.

This week the company announced its latest offering, simply called the Semi. The product -- as the name implies -- is an 18 wheeler which looks similar to those you see on roads every day, but perhaps a bit more sleek.

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Want a Logitech Harmony Hub? Right now it comes with an Amazon Echo Dot

If you haven't used a Harmony product and you have a home theater system then you may be missing out. The Logitech devices can control all manner of things from receivers, TVs, Blu-ray players, and so on, to many Internet of Things products in your home, such as light bulbs like LIFX and thermostats such as Nest.

If you have an Amazon Echo, better known as Alexa, then you can already do a bit of that, turning your recliner into a throne from which you can oversee your kingdom.

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Forever 21 becomes the latest retail chain to suffer a security breach

Over the past several years we have seen a multitude of security problems plague major retail stores around the world. Breaches have come in many forms and have frequently targeted credit card information, though in some cases personal data has been part of the haul.

Now we find ourselves looking at yet another incident. Retail chain Forever 21, which is wildly popular among young people in the United States -- you can barely find a mall that doesn't have one -- has officially announced that its systems were compromised.

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Ecobee brings voice control to its thermostat through Google Assistant

While the Internet of Things, or IoT, has been around for several years, voice control is a more recent development. It is convenient for performing all sorts of actions, such as switching lights off and on, changing the settings on a thermostat, and countless other things that you may never have thought of.

Of all the IoT devices on the market, the thermostat is one of the most popular and there are several competing brands on the market.

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Pandora for Sonos gets a major boost to blast your favorite music

You are almost certainly familiar with Pandora, the popular music app that allows you to build stations based upon your favorite artists or songs. It's available in both free and paid versions, and you can choose which one to go for based on your tolerance for commercials.

You may, however, be less familiar with Sonos. For those who don't know, it is a whole house music system that allows you to connect multiple speakers, each of which can be individually controlled -- you can have them all synced to play the same thing, or different songs in different rooms.

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The Lord of the Rings -- Amazon plans to take you back to Middle Earth

Did you read the classic JRR Tolkien books? Perhaps you saw the award-winning series of movies that did a phenomenal job of portraying The Lord of the Rings story. There are, of course, some things left out for brevity's sake -- it's hard to put that many words on the big screen.

For everyone who reminisces about the books and/or the films there will soon be a way to get transported back to that magical land of elves, dwarves, wizards, orcs and other creatures that reside in a certain part of our psyche.

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Roku's latest remote can control more of your home

If you aren't using a Roku then you may be missing out on something special. The tiny streaming device has many features such as Netflix, Hulu and hundreds of other apps, including music ones.

There is, however, much more that can be done if you integrate other products into the entertainment setup, but that can get pricey when you begin bringing in other products to control different items. It could also mean you regularly having to reach for other remote controls.

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Amazon makes Fire TV Stick available in over 100 countries

Not long after releasing the original Amazon Fire TV as a small set-top box, Amazon shrunk its player down into stick form. It's a small dongle that plugs directly into an HDMI port on your TV or monitor, or even an HDMI switch if you'd like to easily move between sources.

Now the retail giant is opening up the market for the Fire TV Stick to people around the globe, bringing entertainment to everyone.

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Wink announces a wealth of new IoT products for its hub

The Internet of Things, commonly called the IoT, has become a hot topic these days for both the right and wrong reasons. It can be incredibly useful and time saving because of all the things that can be automated around the house, but there are also security risks.

Since the very early days of both Amazon Echo (Alexa) and the Wink home automation hub, the two products have worked together. Now that relationship is getting stronger, with the arrival of yet more Alexa compatible Wink products. While some of these new items will integrate straight with Alexa, others require a hub to work with voice control.

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Hulu and Spotify partner on student discount bundle

It's the time of year that many college students dread, although some secretly love -- back to school. Yes, the university doors are open once again; textbooks are being loaded into backpacks and alarm clocks are being set for ungodly early hours.

When these students aren't studying or going to class, they need to relax. Many of them choose streaming music and video as a way to unwind. Unfortunately, college is quite expensive, so splurging on multiple services is often not possible. To cater to the needs of these cash-strapped students, Hulu and Spotify have joined forces on a new bundle deal that will save them a few dollars.

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How to disable a touchpad on a Chromebook

Using a Chromebook and having problems? You aren't the only one. In the middle of typing, your cursor can jump to the center of another sentence or jumble all of your words. It's not only annoying, it can get confusing to fix. What you need to do is disable the touchpad.

On some Windows PCs there's a simple solution that involves pressing a key at the top. That isn't the case with Chrome OS. It can be done, it just takes a bit more work to accomplish the goal.

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The difference in lighting today

It's been a long time since Thomas Edison gave us that little gift that slowly took candles from necessity to decoration. We've since come a long way, from gas lights through incandescent and on to compact fluorescent and now LED.

Each iteration has brought improvements in terms of such things as energy use and longevity. Today's, LED bulbs have a lifespan of roughly twenty years so changing them is almost unheard of. They are also full bright when you switch them on which is a big step up from the compact fluorescents we'd just grown used to. Those were almost like watching a sunrise.

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Alexa and the Wink home automation hub team up on colors 

Are you automating your abode? It's become the in-thing these days with more and more products hitting the market. While we can't stress enough about the insecurities that have been discovered, it still can be a fun experience, although sometimes a difficult one.

There's no end, seemingly, to the things you can do, but where many people start is with lights, which, in theory, are easy. Some aren't, so be warned.

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There's only a few days left to get your free Roku Premier with DirecTV NOW

Looking for a good set-top box that can do most anything? There are several on the market, including Amazon Fire TV and even Android TV, but the top one for most folks out there is the tiny Roku. With its hundreds of apps and ability to play things like Hulu, Netflix and others it's a solid choice.

Models and prices vary, but the Roku Premier is currently being offered for free if you'd like to get in on the action.

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