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Skype Skips Monday
September 21, 2015
Microsoft has confirmed that network issues crippled the consumer version of Skype. Some users reported no success in logging in. Others managed to log in, but weren't recognized as being online. The network issues affected only the consumer version of the service, according to Microsoft. So Skype for Business was still in business. It's unclear when Microsoft expects to resolve the problem.
Amazon Fans Fire's Flames
September 21, 2015
Amazon last week confirmed and detailed the bare-bones Fire tablet, which will sell for just $49 -- and it announced five other Fire family additions while it was at it. Flanking the Fire tablet are the refreshed Fire HD, the Fire TV with 4K, the Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote and the updated Fire Kids Edition. Amazon announced two flavors of the revisited Fire HD.
Gadget Ogling: Fresh Fires, Tablet Touches, and Underwater Drones
September 19, 2015
In case you didn't already know it, Amazon has designs on taking over your television, and Fire TV seems a strong competitor to the refreshed Apple TV. Fire TV's big advantage is that it can stream video in ultra high-def 4K, while Apple TV cannot. Nor can Roku or Chromecast. There already are some fine games available for Fire TV, and there's a gaming edition available with a controller.
The Unsinkable Kim Dotcom?
September 18, 2015
Someone perhaps even more flamboyant than Donald Trump may be getting involved in the U.S. presidential race -- and not on the Republican side. Notorious Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom is not running for office, but as his extradition case heats up in New Zealand, a possible Democratic candidate for the presidency -- mild-mannered Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig -- has come to his defense.
New Roomba Knows Its Way Around
September 17, 2015
iRobot has unveiled its latest robotic vacuum cleaning system, the Roomba 980. The device combines adaptive navigation with visual localization, cloud-connected app control and increased cleaning power. It is the most capable model to date, said the company, which has been a pioneer in robotic cleaning tools. The Roomba 980 includes new sensors that allow it to create a map of its environment.
Trust and Value Will Bring IoT Home
September 17, 2015
The connected car and smart home markets are at an early stage of development, but in many ways they have been growing in parallel. Both markets are enabled by the falling costs of sensors, networking technologies and data, as well as by expanded cloud services, the mass penetration of smartphones, and consumer demand for the connected lifestyle. These ecosystems now are beginning to converge.
Will the IoT Be Held for Ransom?
September 17, 2015
A perfect cybercrime storm is brewing, and two of the main ingredients are ransomware and the Internet of Things. Cybercrime has become an industry with all the operational trappings of any legitimate sector, McAfee Labs noted earlier this month. It has its own supply chain, market segments, service providers, and finance and trading systems. It has its own business models.
Devs Shine Light on Halo 5's Overhauled Engine
September 17, 2015
Weeks away from the launch of Halo 5: Guardians, 343 Industries and Microsoft have revealed some of the technical ingenuity behind what's expected to be the biggest Xbox One game of the 2015 holiday season. The game's developers have been raving about their playtime with the upcoming sci-fi shooter. For starters they're promising first-class digital tourism in Halo 5: Guardians.
Facebook's Button Pushing: What's Not to Like?
September 16, 2015
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has revealed that Facebook may integrate an alternative to its ubiquitous Like button. Facebook users have asked for a Dislike button for years, and the company now is preparing to test a response to that user demand. The idea is not to transform Facebook into a forum where users could in essence vote up or down on particular posts -- that isn't the point.
IoT Can Open Doors to Cybercriminals, FBI Warns
September 16, 2015
The FBI has warned businesses and consumers to be careful when deploying devices that connect to the Internet of Things. As more companies and consumers use IoT devices to improve efficiency and convenience, their connection to the Internet creates opportunities for cybercriminals, the FBI said. The "Internet of Things" is a broad term that encompasses myriad devices that connect via cyberspace.
WiFi, Move Over - Here Comes LiFi
September 16, 2015
Disney researchers last week demonstrated Linux Light Bulbs -- a protocol for a communications system that transmits data using visible light communication, or VLC, technology. Linux Light Bulbs can communicate with each other and with other VLC devices -- such as toys, wearables and clothing -- over the Internet Protocol, functioning as a LiFi network in much the same way that WiFi works.
Google, Twitter Forge Open Source Publishing Partnership
September 15, 2015
Google and Twitter reportedly are collaborating on an open source project that focuses on helping publishers bring instant articles to mobile phone subscribers. Facebook launched its Instant Articles feature earlier this year. Apple and Snapchat reportedly have similar tools in development. The Google and Twitter team-up "is a very important development," said Zebra Social CEO Jordani Sarreal.
When Data Breaks the News
September 15, 2015
Google is putting a new spin on the news. Instead of relying on journalists to gather facts and report events the old-fashioned way, the company's News Lab, launched earlier this year, aims to deliver news stories through data. Case in point: Who needs polls to reveal that Donald Trump is the most popular candidate in the Republican primary free-for-all?
The IoT's Data Prioritization Pearl
September 14, 2015
The era of digital transformation and the digital business, the customer experience as a key differentiator, and the movement toward smart machines are some of the common themes Gartner Distinguished Analyst Don Scheibenreif touched on in his keynote last week at the Gartner Customer 360 Summit in San Diego. These are all phenomena that have been on their way for a little while -- like a glacier.
Gadget Ogling: All About Apple
September 12, 2015
Apple's latest iPhones -- the 6s and 6s Plus -- are faster, stronger and smarter than the previous models. A zippier processor and faster Touch ID, LTE, and WiFi feature among the incremental upgrades. There are a couple of interesting new features with this generation, primarily 3D Touch. This makes the screen receptive to pressure beyond lightly tapping or holding one's finger on an icon.
Apple Levels up with tvOS
September 10, 2015
The refreshed Apple TV, tvOS and the Siri Remote Apple presented during Wednesday's "Hey Siri" event may not have been game changers, but the people pushing Apple's renewed focus on gaming are. Television's future lies in apps, proclaimed Apple CEO Tim Cook as he drew the curtain on the Apple TV's new iOS 9-powered operating system: tvOS. That line drew a chuckle from owners of Fire TVs and Rokus.
New Apple TV Goes All-In for Apps
September 9, 2015
Apple on Wednesday held a mammoth two-hour event to introduce a long-awaited new Apple TV set-top box, a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and the expected iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Further, Apple announced new Apple Watch colors and bands, and a special collaboration with Hermes. While the iPhone is clearly Apple's most important product, it's arguable that the Apple TV is its most important new addition.
Samsung's IoT Products Make Themselves at Home
September 9, 2015
Samsung last week plunged into the Internet of Things for the home market, unveiling a new hub to control connected gadgets, home and sleep monitors, and a smart washing machine. The company made the announcements at IFA 2015. The SmartThings Hub for home devices is built around a powerful processor that enables video monitoring, and it includes a battery backup that lasts up to 10 hours.
Apple, Hollywood Honchos Put Heads Together
September 8, 2015
Apple has been mulling a move to commission original programming for its Apple TV, and top Hollywood decision makers reportedly have been helping with the strategizing. Although in-the-know execs spilled a few beans, they didn't paint a cohesive picture of Apple's plans. Some suggested Apple was just flirting with the idea, while others hinted that it might be planning a major undertaking.
Apple TV Should Take a Hint From Nvidia's Shield
September 7, 2015
Apple will be launching some interesting products on Wednesday. The timing is nearly right for its Intel Skylake laptops and PCs. The iPhone 6S is also due, and typically the smart Apple customers wait for the S, because S models have fixes to the earlier model's problems that most annoyed users. At the very least, the iPhone 6S is expected to avoid its predecessors' bending issues.
SaaS' Next Wave: Customer Lifetime Value Management
September 4, 2015
Salesforce's latest quarter, along with the buzz surrounding its upcoming Dreamforce lovefest, have showcased CRM's rapid migration to the cloud. However, today's SaaS CRM solutions deliver limited value-add if the organizations that use them are unable to realize marketing and sales promises. This is especially true for those guiding prospective customers on an omnichannel journey.
Google's Rebuttal Against EU May Be in Vain
September 3, 2015
Google has responded to the EC's statement of objections regarding its search practices by rejecting outright the Europeans' argument that its innovations were anticompetitive. The SO, published in April, doesn't support the claim that the company's displays of paid ads diverted traffic away from shopping services, Google said. Nor does it counter major advantages to consumers and advertisers.
New App Marries Android Wear Smartwatch to iPhone
September 1, 2015
Google has rolled out Android Wear for iOS, allowing consumers to pair the iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6 or 6 Plus running iOS 8.2 and above with an Android Wear watch. They'll be able to check phone calls, messages and notifications; track fitness; and use Google Now instead of Siri to get smart help from their iPhones. Using Google Now instead of Siri is "a cute touch," said ABI Research analyst Jeff Orr.
Apple TV May Finally Grab the Spotlight
August 31, 2015
The next version of the Apple TV set-top box could be ready for prime time in October, priced at either $149 or $199, based on rumors circulating Monday. The current version goes for $99. With the higher price could come a seriously upgraded device: It will include support for Siri, a new touchscreen remote control, and a new and more intuitive interface.

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Do you want to live in an Internet-connected home?
Yes -- I have some smart things, and I want more.
Yes -- I'm looking forward to all the conveniences.
Not sure -- I have security and privacy concerns.
No -- the technology isn't good enough yet.
No -- it's a ridiculous waste of money.