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ExtraBITS for 21 April 2014

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In ExtraBITS this week, Siri squared off against Google Now and Cortana, Managing Editor Josh Centers gave an Apple TV-oriented presentation to the Chicago-area user group The Northwest of Us, Jeff Carlson provided iPad tips for photographers, hardware maker LaCie admitted to a major security breach, Bradley Chambers offered suggestions about how Apple could improve iOS for education, and Microsoft unveiled a less-expensive Office 365 subscription.

How Siri Fares Against Google Now and Cortana -- Gizmodo ran a side-by-side test of Apple’s Siri, Google Now, and Microsoft’s new Cortana virtual assistants. The results were neck and neck, with each displaying its own quirks, but the short video is fun to watch.

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Josh Centers Talks Apple TV to the Northwest of Us User Group -- TidBITS Managing Editor and “Take Control of Apple TV” author Josh Centers was invited to speak to the Chicago-area user group The Northwest of Us. In this in-depth recorded session, Josh discussed some reasons why Apple users should consider the Apple TV, took audience questions, and speculated about the future of Apple TV.

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Using an iPad to Improve Your Photography -- Our own Jeff Carlson has written a piece for 500px explaining how to use your iPad to up your photography game. No, not by taking photos with its built-in camera, but by using the iPad to preview, edit, sort, and share photos, and even to control your camera remotely.

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LaCie Customer Credit Card Information Exposed -- Hardware maker LaCie, best known for its Mac-centric hard drives and accessories, has acknowledged that a security breach in its online store exposed customer credit card numbers and contact information for much of the past year. Seagate, which now owns LaCie, denied any problems until 14 April 2014, when it confirmed to security journalist Brian Krebs that an attacker had gained access to “name, address, email address, payment card number and card expiration date for transactions made between March 27, 2013 and March 10, 2014.” If you ordered from LaCie during that time, watch for spurious charges on your credit card bill.

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How Apple Can Improve iOS for Educators -- Bradley Chambers, Director of IT for the Brainerd Baptist School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has a number of trenchant suggestions for ways Apple could improve iOS for education, including a way to deploy in-app purchases in MDM or Apple Configurator, the option to redistribute iBooks Store textbooks between classes, increasing the default storage space in future devices, and an iCloud email service for schools.

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Microsoft Unveils Less Expensive Office 365 Personal -- Want to edit Office documents on your iPad, but don’t need to use five computers, as Office 365 Home Premium allows? For $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year, Microsoft will now sell you Office 365 Personal, which lets you edit Office documents on one Mac or PC and one tablet, and offers 20 GB of extra OneDrive storage. Note that you can buy a year of Office 365 Home Premium at Amazon for roughly $30 off the $99.99 list price, so perhaps Amazon will soon offer an even better deal on Office 365 Personal as well.

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