Alexa can find ‘baby making’ music on Amazon’s streaming services

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Amazon announced today that users of its streaming service Prime Music, which is free with a Prime membership, and its subscription-based Amazon Music Unlimited can now ask Alexa to find tunes appropriate for various activities. As of now, over 500 different activity-based requests are supported including music for meditation, partying and even "getting pumped." The new feature is available immediately to users with Alexa-enabled devices.

The new voice controls were geared towards activities that have been requested most often by Alexa users and listeners of Amazon’s music streaming services. In the announcement, the company said that 27 percent of all activity requests come from users who want to relax. Meditation is the number one requested activity, with spa, party and dinner rounding off the top four.

Along with specific activities, users can also request a particular genre to go with it. Amazon includes the examples "Alexa, play classical music for sleeping," "Alexa, play pop music for cooking," and "Alexa, play baby making jazz music." Because nothing sets the mood like a your partner telling their virtual assistant to find a playlist suitable for baby making.

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Omega Ophthalmics is an eye implant platform with the power of continuous AR

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Google and other tech companies have come up with glasses and contact lenses for the purposes of AR, but Ophthalmics is taking a much more invasive approach by using surgically implanted lenses to create a space for augmented reality inside the eye.

It sounds wild, but lens implants aren’t a new thing. Implanted lenses are commonly used as a solve for cataracts and other degenerative diseases mostly affecting senior citizens and about 3.6 million patients in the U.S. get some sort of procedure for the disease every year.

Cataract surgery involves removal of the cloudy lens and replacing it with a thin artificial type of lens. Co-founder and board certified ophthalmologist Gary Wortz saw an opportunity here to offer not just a lens but a platform to these patients that other manufacturers could add different interactive sensors, drug delivery devices and inclusion of AR/VR integration.

“We’re creating the glove,” Wortz says, comparing it to what Elon Musk wants to do with neural lace inside the brain. “Inside of the eye we are creating this biologically inert space that is going to stay open for business for whoever wants to develop an implant that will sort of fit hand-in-glove.”

Though, he doesn’t expect young people with good vision to come running for AR implants anytime soon. Instead, he thinks his platform has a much broader application for 70-somethings wanting to maintain independence. An augmented map to help this person get around or to alert them if something is wrong medically would be useful.

He also mentioned the usefulness to “super soldiers” and others. “We know there’s a huge market for AR, this is essentially a real estate play that tech companies don’t realize yet,” Ophthalmics CEO Rick Iflin told me over the phone.

The company is not looking for any outside investments for the idea at this time — though Wortz and Iflin mentioned they’d been approached by two major VC firms in New York and Orange County. However, Ophthalmics has already taken initial capital from angel investors and ophthalmologists “that understand the space.” Wortz said.

Does the technology work? Maybe. So far, Ophthalmics has hit the six-month mark with no incidence on a very small human clinical trial outside of the U.S. involving seven patients. I’m told the company also has a few other yet to be released studies in the works, including a much larger human trial it plans to launch soon.

The company must still wait for FDA approval and is hopeful Opthalmics will receive approval in Europe in the next 12 to 24 months, pending outcome of the larger trial. Wortz seemed positive about the process with the FDA, as well.

“We’re very excited about Scott Gotlieb at the FDA. He seems very pro device,” he said.

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Researchers create instant hydrogen from water and aluminum

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Hydrogen power seemed all the rage for awhile, until we had to face the practical considerations of using it. Yes, it’s clean and abundant, but it’s also incredibly difficult to transport. One team may have accidentally found the key to jump starting this struggling economy, though; researchers at the US Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground Maryland made a chance discovery when they poured water on a new aluminum alloy. It began to give off hydrogen automatically.

It is possible for hydrogen to be a byproduct of a reaction between water and regular aluminum, but only at extremely high temperatures or with added catalysts. Additionally, it would take hours for the hydrogen to be produced and had an efficiency of only about 50 percent.

That’s not the case with this new reaction; "Ours does it to nearly 100 per cent efficiency in less than 3 minutes," team leader Scott Grendahl told New Scientist. That’s a pretty impressive statistic, especially when you consider it’s an automatic reaction. Aluminum and water can be transported easily and are stable. This can easily be turned into a situation where a lot of hydrogen can be produced on demand, in a short amount of time. This eliminates many of the issues that forced companies to seek alternatives to hydrogen for a clean energy source.

That doesn’t mean this is the solution to all our hydrogen problems, though. There are still many questions that need to be answered. First of all, can this be replicated outside the lab? All signs point to yes, but experiments can often work in a lab setting and fail in field tests. How difficult is this new aluminum alloy to produce, and what would the costs of mass production be? How much of it would you need to make this work? What are the environmental costs of producing this increased amount of aluminum alloy? This is an encouraging first step to be sure, but there’s a lot more we need to know before we declare this the salvation of hydrogen fuel.

Source: New Scientist

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The First Season 3 ‘Mr. Robot’ Teaser Just Dropped And It’s Got Me So Hyped Right Now

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I didn’t realize that today was my birthday, but it must be because the first teaser trailer for Mr. Robot Season 3 just dropped AND I get to see my favorite band perform at MSG tonight here in NYC. I actually came to Mr. Robot really late in the game, and only started watching it shortly after Season 2 wrapped up. So for me, this has been a very, very long wait for new episodes. Also, quick spoiler alert…based on the shooting which took place at the end of last season I was extremely worried that Elliot’s sister was dead, but that doesn’t appear to be the case, does it?

Is Mr. Robot the best Drama on TV? Honestly, it truly might be. I say ‘Drama’ because I’m putting Game of Thrones in the Fantasy category even though at its core GoT is a drama. Anyways, Mr. Robot started tweeting out teases early this afternoon like they always do when something big is coming.

According to my friend Stacey over at UPROXX, before the Season 3 teaser trailer dropped Mr. Robot was tweeting out lyrics from ‘Democracy’, a 1992 song by Leonard Cohen. The teaser itself is also titled ‘Democracy’ so this plays well…To say that I’m amped up for Season 3 of this show is the biggest understatement of the year. The acting quality of Mr. Robot is only rivaled by Billions. The two shows are borderline masterpieces…As you can tell, I’m hooked.

Season 3 of Mr. Robot will premiere on October 11, 2017.

Mr. Robot Season 3 Trailer Democracy

YouTube

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Having an optimistic outlook can benefit your life — here’s how

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There’s something about people with a sunny disposition that one can’t help but envy. How do they manage to smile all the time? And why does it seem like nothing ever gets to them? Well, aside from being fun at parties and easy to take out to dinner, happy people have something else going for then: A means to a better life. 

An optimistic attitude can make you a healthier, happier, and more well-rounded person who gets sick less often. It seems almost too good to be true, but there are studies out there that support the evidence and point to the conclusion that happier people lead better lives. 

In a recent study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health entitled “Optimism and Cause-Specific Mortality: A Prospective Cohort Study,” the link between optimism and health risks like cardiovascular disease was studied by analyzing patient data from the Nurses’ Health Study. The conclusion they came to provided some pretty optimistic results: 

They found that a higher degree of optimism was associated with a lower mortality risk. (Time to bust out that feel-good playlist you’ve been meaning to listen to.)

In another study, 309 middle-aged patients about to undergo coronary artery bypass surgery were given a full psychological evaluation to measure their levels of optimism, depression, and self-esteem. The results? You guessed it: Optimists were half as likely as pessimists to require re-hospitalization following surgery. On the other side of things, a similar study found that highly pessimistic men were more likely to develop hypertension. 

So how is it that happier people are less likely to suffer from recurring health problems? Sarah Pressman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology & Social Behavior at University of California, Irvine weighs in: 

“The main thing you need to realize is that optimism is marginally different than happiness. Optimism is like a cognitive evaluation and positive emotion is about happiness. Am I happy right now? Am I calm? It’s dispositional. You can be in a bad mood and still be an optimistic person.”

Pressman says that a vast number of studies support the notion that positive people live longer. How does this happen? A lot of it has to do with stress. 

“Happier people experience stress differently, they perceive their stress as less severe and don’t react to it as strongly. In fact, smiling while stressed can actually reduce heart rate and blood pressure,” Pressman says.

While the myriad studies out there have compelling evidence about happier people having less severe reactions to asthma, HIV, and even cancer, Pressman certainly doesn’t consider smiling a cure-all. 

I mean, look, you can’t happy your way out of stage four breast cancer, but for those with early types of stage one cancers, studies say that happier people do tend to survive these diseases longer.” 

Image: pixabay/dimitrisvetsikas1969

The big question is — especially for those suffering from some degree of anxiety or mental disorganization — how does one turn their emotional frown upside down?  Dr. Fran Walfish, Psy.D., a leading private practice psychotherapist who specializes in children, couples, and family, offers the following tips to happiness: 

“Do not strive for perfection. Be ‘good enough.’ Build self-esteem toward self and others by using words that support and motivate with empathy, rather than criticize. Express your feelings in the moment. Do not allow anger and disappointment to build up inside you. Say what you feel clearly and respectfully. It will free you.”

Walfish says that even taking 10 to 15 minutes each day to “be with yourself and chill” and giving yourself “short, undivided, positive attention” can add up in the end, building a foundation for positivity. 

Licensed clinical social worker, Patti Sabla, offers similar advice to those yearning for happiness. She suggests being a bit more proactive through training and daily affirmations — which means simply finding free moments around the day to focus on your mental health: 

“I use Post-It notes with positive affirmations and inspirational sayings,” says Sabla. “I place them on my nightstand, bathroom mirror, refrigerator, car sun visor, office desk drawer, etc. These sayings are great reminders that help me stay focused on the positive [and keep me from] falling into a funk when I am having a bad day.” 

While these little tips and tricks may seem menial or even silly, using hacks like these to up your mood that are specifically tailor-made for you is what works. 

If you don’t think snuggling up to a “Live, Laugh, Love” Post-It is going to cut it, try something you know will make you happy — something tailor made for you: A photo of your favorite person, a quote from a funny TV show, hey, maybe even a picture of a dog.

Dr. Pressman speaks to the power of pets, too: “Even watching a funny YouTube video of a cat or dog can make you happy, thus decreasing your heart rate and reducing stress.” 

Obviously, there’s no guarantee that watching a cat in a tutu will turn you into some sort of superhuman goliath, but the evidence — both scientific and colloquial — suggests we’re certainly onto something. 

Happiness, optimism, and positivity is absolutely attainable, it’s just the route to find it that’s up to you. Here’s a funny video of a dog wearing fake eyebrows to help you get started.

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The Annoying Songs You Shouldn’t Play at Your Wedding

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Photo by Alison Groves.

Music is essential at a wedding, especially at the reception. But some songs are just way too cliche—or ear-ravaging—and people are tired of hearing them. These are those songs.

This list from the data-driven folks at FiveThirtyEight is filled with the usual suspects, and compiled based on common do-not-play requests given to wedding DJs. Tacky tunes you’d expect to hear, like “YMCA,” “Macarena,” and “Cottoneye Joe.” If there’s a stupid dance for the song that somehow compels everyone to do it through drunken peer pressure, it’s on there. There are a few you might not expect, however. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, for example, is on my personal do-not-play list, but I didn’t expect to see it here. Here are the top 20 most banned wedding songs:

  1. “Chicken Dance”
  2. “Cha-Cha Slide” – DJ Casper
  3. “Macarena” – Los Del Rio
  4. “Cupid Shuffle” – Cupid
  5. “YMCA” – Village People
  6. “Electric Boogie (Electric Slide)“ – Marcia Griffiths
  7. “Hokey Pokey”
  8. “Wobble” – V.I.C.
  9. “Happy” – Pharrell Williams
  10. “Shout” – Isley Brothers
  11. “Love Shack” – The B-52’s
  12. “We Are Family” – Sister Sledge
  13. “Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke
  14. “Celebration” – Kool & The Gang
  15. “Cotton Eye Joe” – Rednex
  16. “Dancing Queen” – ABBA
  17. “Don’t Stop Believin’” – Journey
  18. “Single Ladies” – Beyoncé
  19. “Sweet Caroline” – Neil Diamond
  20. “Turn Down for What” – DJ Snake, Lil Jon

Come on, who is playing the “Hokey Pokey” at their wedding? Stop it. Whether you’re getting ready to get hitched, want your friend or family member to avoid a cheesy reception, or you’re a DJ yourself, take note. You can check out FiveThirtyEight’s full list of nearly 50 banned songs here.

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Toni Cornell sang “Hallelujah” in a tribute to her dad, and it’s heartbreaking

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In a tribute that will tug at your heartstrings, Chris Cornell’s daughter performed Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah" on Good Morning America Friday, according to ABC News

Toni Cornell, 12, duetted with OneRepublic, dedicating the performance to her father and Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington, who was close friends with Cornell and sang it at the artist’s funeral. 

"It’s an honor to perform this for my dad and Chester and to sing for them," she said. 

"Chester sang this at Chris’ funeral, and this is arguably one of the greatest songs written in the last 50 years," OneRepublic’s singer Ryan Tedder said.  "It’s a very special song to us, and I think to most people and especially to Toni [Cornell] as well." Read more…

More about Entertainment, Music, Linkin Park, Chris Cornell, and Chester Bennington

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Chris Cornell’s 12-Year-Old Daughter Performs ‘Hallelujah’ To Honor Dad And Chester Bennington

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Chris Cornell’s 12-year-old daughter Toni performed a cover of Leonard Cohen’s timeless classic from 1975 “Hallelujah” with OneRepublic to honor her late dad and Chester Bennington on “Good Morning America” on Friday morning. “It’s an honor to perform this for my dad and Chester and to sing for them,” Toni said. Bennington was a dear friend of Chris Cornell and was Toni’s godfather.

Bennington gave the eulogy and sang “Hallelujah” at his Cornell’s funeral. That would end up being one of Bennington’s last performances because on July 20, the same day that would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday, Bennington also committed suicide by hanging.

“Chester sang this at Chris’ funeral, and this is arguably one of the greatest songs written in the last 50 years,” OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder said of the song “Hallelujah.” “It’s a very special song to us, and I think to most people and especially to Toni [Cornell] as well.”

Linkin Park was originally scheduled to perform on “GMA” this morning, but OneRepublic was willing to fill in for the band and dedicate their performances to Bennington and Cornell.

Immediately following Cornell’s death, Toni wrote a touching letter to her deceased father. Here she is performing with her father and singing Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”

[Spin]

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Dude Flying Around In A Hammock Being Carried By A Drone Is DEFINITELY Living His Best Life

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Just like I said in the headline, this dude is living his best life. He rigged a powerful drone to carry not only a hammock but also the full weight of his body inside of that hammock. He’s essentially built himself his very own plane, or Ultralite. It’s a way for him to cruise around his tiny central Georgia town of Khashuri whenever dafuq he wants.

I’m interested in drones. They’re fun to mess around with in the office. I think the Drone Racing League is totally badass and it’s definitely something that’s going to keep growing just as long as ESPN keeps it on TV. At the same time, I haven’t yet been interested enough in drones to spend any considerable amount of money, until now. If I can fly myself from the backyard to the mailbox in my hammock using a drone, that’s when I’m ready to start throwing lots of Benjamins (hundred dollar bills) on a nice drone. I might be one of the laziest people you’ll ever meet, and this will only enhance my level of laziness. I need this now.

Do you even need to see where you’re going when you’re flying in a hammock and it’s already see through? And how far off the ground are you comfortable with flying? It’s not like the chord that hammocks are made from is indestructible. I’ve never fallen through/broken a hammock in my life, but when I’m flying 75-feet in the air my mind’s going to start playing tricks on me. These are the questions I need answered before I’m willing to do this myself. (h/t DailyMail)

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