EAVESDROPPING WITH ALEXA

Twenty-two million Americans now have what’s called a “smart speaker,” a gadget that sits on a table or shelf and responds to commands. The numbers have doubled in the past year. This is without doubt the hottest product out there and we expect the numbers to jump sharply again this year. The market leader, with about 72 percent, is the Amazon Echo; Google has about 18% and the rest is “other,” which includes Apple’s “HomePod,” and Sonos’ “Sonos One.” Now the Amazon Echo not only listens to you, it can listen for you. In short, it can be an intercom. If someone turns on its “voice calling and messaging” feature, you can either call them or listen in. There have […]

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NO CAT CALLS PLEASE

Half a century ago Andy Warhol predicted that someday everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. He forgot to mention pets. Now there are websites devoted to making your pet stand out from the crowd. Bowser or Fluffy can even star in their own story book. And of course you can post videos — with background music and sound effects. Don’t worry that people will think you’re some kind of nut, a recent report says 65 percent of pet owners post news of their pets twice a week. Where do they post? On pet social networks, of course. If you search on the phrase “How to Make Your Pet a Star in Social Media,” you’ll get lots of advice. ABC […]

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EASILY DONE

Topics: A better way to do email, alternatives to cable TV, Internuts, trends, and kid’s coding book.

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EASY BACKUP

This week’s topics: Easy backup in Windows 10, preventing hackers, new Epson printer. “Internuts” include a bedtime story site, photo collage site, gaming site and anti-politics site.

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CHAT WITH A WORLD WAR I SOLDIER

Topics: Texting a soldier, retro game, video trends, avoiding loud commercials, family safety settings, sketching tips, ten enigmas that defy explanation.

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SKY MATH FOR KIDS

“Sky Math” for iPad acts as a child’s virtual math tutor.

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LINKING CHILDREN TO SCIENCE PROJECTS WORLDWIDE

GlobalSchoolNet.org links children worldwide for science projects and cultural experiences. A current project looks at the problem of plastic in the oceans.

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LEARNING SPANISH THROUGH GAMES

pbskids.org/noah has a new scavenger hunt game where players must decipher Spanish words and locate objects. Through videos, the site tells the story of a kid called Noah and his grandmother, who live in an area where everyone but them speaks Spanish (sort of like Miami).

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TEMPORARY TATTOOS

 “Picattoo“ can turn your Instagram photos into temporary tattoos. Twelve ink-transfer tattoos cost $15. Start by going to Picattoo.com and sign in to Instagram. You can either take a new picture with your phone or choose one you’ve already stored in your photo gallery. Back at Picatoo.com, choose the photos you want to make into tattoos. Our favorite example was a photo of a cute dog. The ink is high quality and looked almost as detailed as the original picture.

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WHAT TO DO IF YOUR KID IS SICK

“KidsDoc,” a $2 app, helps you determine what to do if your kid is sick. It is the top iPhone app recommended by the 65,000 doctors at HealthTap.com. The doctors’ favorite Android app  is “First Aid American Red Cross.” You can see the whole list at healthtap.com/top_health_apps_2014.

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