Alan Buckingham

Boo! Your TV is trying to scare you

"Did you hear that? It’s probably nothing; I’ll go check." According to leading expert Chucky, this is a mistake too many people make. The best thing to do during this next week is to stay relatively safe in your home and tune into various modern-day sources to get your entertainment. 

It’s a great time to have various digital media services to get in the proper mood to send your kids out to soap mean Mr. Wilson’s windows, and then beg neighbors for food the very next night. 

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Sling decides a little change can mean a lot

Not long ago, Sling rolled out a major change to its platform, adding and removing features and altering the overall look of the interface. While I welcomed some of those changes, the majority of them I panned

One I failed to mention when I went over the new, greatly altered look and functionality of Sling, was the inability to browse the guide while continuing to listen to the broadcast you’re currently watching. That feature had been available in the earlier iteration of the service -- you just had to press the up-arrow on your remote to access it. 

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Boston Dynamics takes its dogs for a walk in DC

If you have a dog then you’ve likely been there with the 3AM trips outside regardless of weather -- rain, snow, bone-chilling cold. If the hound needs to go, you're going out -- after all, you don’t want the alternative. 

There are other fun times, teething for instance. My current black lab cost me two pillows, a house plant and a vacuum cleaner cord. There’s food that needs to be kept out of reach... a lab can easily reach a kitchen counter, I learned early on. 

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Home security service Home8 is currently down, blames AWS [Update: Back up now]

These days a lot of us have home security systems to one degree or another. You may simply control your locks and perhaps a light; or you may be a little more invested in the technology, adding motion sensors, cameras, leak sensors and other little toys. 

The thing you need most with all of this is an operational system keeping an eye on everything when you can’t. You rely on this for protection for yourself, your family and your property.  

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Sling finally rolls out its new update, features slower scrolling and harder to use Guide

Sometimes those old sayings from our youth prove to be true. "Be careful what you wish for" is one that springs to mind.

It’s been over a month since Sling announced a fresh new interface update was on the way. Now it begins finally rolling out. One thing that is readily noticeable is that it truly is a brand new interface. Almost everything has changed. 

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Live TV streaming service Locast shuts down following copyright infringement suit

If you are a cord-cutter, a phrase some people like to debate, then you may be familiar with a great way to get your local over-the-air channels. The service is called Locast, and it rebroadcasts all the OTA without the rabbit-ears. That fills one of the great empty spots that folks had when it came to getting rid of cable or satellite. 

Unfortunately, there are some rather powerful entities out there that don’t like this idea very much. Why? Because Locast doesn’t charge (although it does request a monthly "donation" to keep the stream flowing uninterrupted), so there’s no cut for them to take. On Tuesday, Locast was dealt a huge blow when Judge Louis Stanton said a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox would be allowed to proceed to trial.

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Retro wiring an old house for internet and home theater

I've been asked how I wired my old house for home theater, so I've written down a quick guide of the steps to getting started. Yes, you could opt for a mesh router system to deliver Wi-Fi across all the floors of your home, but if, like me, you live somewhere where speeds are a little slower, then a wired connection will likely be preferable.

If you have new construction to work with then get this done along with electrics while the walls are open. Most likely if you're reading then then you’re dealing with existing construction and that complicates things, but it can be done. 

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Novostella brings it all to automated lighting [Review]

Home automation continues to grow in popularity at an ever-increasing rate. The market value is expected to reach $114 billion by 2025, with smart lighting products accounting for 25 percent of that.

It’s hard to say where the average user begins with home automation, but we’d argue it’s likely to be with a smart lightbulb for most of them. It’s a product that seems straightforward and doesn’t have the dangers of locking you out of your house (as a smart lock could) or making you feel like you’re either in a) Death Valley, or b) Nome, Alaska (unlike a smart thermostat). 

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Trust your game? Rovio exposes Angry Birds Friends database

It’s been over a decade since Finnish game maker Rovio hit the big time with Angry Birds. New levels were periodically added to keep players interested and, capitalizing on that success, the company followed it up with other games such as Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds 2. They also released a tournament-based version called Angry Birds Friends. 

Rovio has kept the tournament version fresh and exciting by releasing loads of new levels every week. The goal of the game is to beat the people you're playing against and after completing each level you will see where you rank amongst those ahead and behind you  -- both places and points. 

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Surprise, surprise! Microsoft exec says the government is spying on you

Intelligence agencies may have begun life as a good idea -- a way to keep their respective countries safe -- and in the beginning we mostly trusted them. But their overt secrecy soon became apparent with things like the famous Roswell incident and the best known "secret" location in the world -- Area 51. 

But there’s much more to the secretiveness than just speculation of little green men. If we didn’t already suspect as much, Edward Snowden showed us a lot of what went on behind-the-scenes in these clandestine agencies. 

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Tour technology: It's a lot more than bike and rider these days

When cycling grand tours were first getting started more than one hundred years ago, things were a whole lot different. Bike frames and hardware hailed mostly from Italy and, while that hasn’t completely changed, riders no longer cover 300 miles in a stage, have to take naps during a stage, change their own tires or, as happened on at least once occasion, stop to weld a broken frame along the way. 

Now stages are a manageable four to seven hours and cars and motorcycles follow the peloton, bringing doctors, mechanics and spare bikes. 

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What I'd like to see in the upcoming Sling app

I’ve mentioned before that I replaced my satellite service with Sling about six years ago. Since then it’s added a cloud DVR and recently upped the capacity of that to what I consider to finally be a reasonable amount of storage space.  It’s also added quite a few more channels in that time. There have been app updates as well, some welcome and some not so much. 

Now the service teases another update coming soon. A box popped up on my screen the other day announcing the change and promising an improved TV experience "soon". 

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Tubi now boasts 55+ live news channels

There are far too many TV services online these days for me to even begin to name them. What started with novelties like Netflix and Hulu soon became no novelty at all, but a billion-dollar industry and live TV soon followed with things like Sling and YouTube TV. 

But don’t discount the lesser-known ones. Just because they’re free doesn’t mean they have less to offer. Sure, you may not get a first-run movie or original content, but what you do get is very much still worth it.

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IRS attempts to make it easier for you to get that new tax credit you might be owed

bag of money

"The nine scariest words in the English language are 'I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'" When Ronald Reagan uttered that statement, it was in general, but it could apply to one government organization in particular. Three letters -- I-R-S -- terrify many Americans. After all, the place can drag you (and all the relevant paperwork in your home) into an office for hours on end and, worse, throw you in jail if things aren't right. 

To its credit, the Internal Revenue Service periodically tries to change its reputation. That’s what it’s up to now with the new child tax credit. Did you hear about it? Given that Americans are getting "free" money from the government it has made relatively few headlines, although that may be simply that it passed back in March and has been pushed out of mind during the time since then. 

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Do we have a little more news on Wear OS 3.0?

Wear OS has been a success in the wearables market and a solid competitor to Apple’s watchOS platform. Both operating systems have their fans. However, like with another Google creation, Android, the search giant doesn't always have a clear vision where it’s going with it. That’s not a knock on the Mountain View company, just an observation. It can be viewed as being careful and listening to input. 

Back in mid-May at Google I/O 2021, the company’s big annual conference, it formally announced Wear OS 3.0, the next operating system that will power its smartwatches.  

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