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31
Dec

New Year Playlist: Tips for making the ultimate streaming playlist using Spotify, Apple Music, and more


It’s that time of year when rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party has ended and we prepare for another bash to bring in the New Year.

You may already be getting a little sick of the constant Christmas repeats. And is it cool to keep playing Christmas music at a New Year party? Probably not. So it’s time to move on into music that isn’t Christmas but will refresh us for a new year while celebrating everything that’s gone by.

In an attempt to help you with that seemingly impossible endeavour, we’ve rounded up six tips worth knowing. Keep in mind these tidbits still come in handy even if you aren’t curating Nat King Cole songs or the ultimate New Year party megamix.

Choose the right streaming service

This one kind of goes without saying, but: make sure you build your playlist on a streaming service that’s best for you and your party. If you’re an audiophile and care a lot about sound quality, check out Tidal. It’s one of the few services that offer “high-fidelity CD sound quality.”

If sound quality doesn’t matter that much to you, but instead you prefer a streaming service where your playlists can be made available for offline listening, there’s also Apple Music and Spotify and others. If music videos are more your thing, try Google’s new YouTube Music.

Here’s some quick links for learning how to make playlists on the top music-streaming services: Tidal, Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play Music, YouTube Music, and Deezer. Oh, and here’s a thorough comparison of the several streaming services available in the UK…

  • Which is the best streaming service in the UK?

Define the mood of your playlist

The best playlists are tailored to a specific mood. You can make your playlist as broad or as niche as you like, but it really should have a focus.

You can simply make an all-encompassing New Year music playlist with standard tunes, or you can get creative and try to remember the big hits of the year that you really loved.

You could even choose holiday songs with lush orchestral arrangements, with lots of emphasis on the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, with the purpose of creating an arena-rock atmosphere. It’s entirely up to you, but just make sure you do it. This of course applies to non-holiday and New Year lists too.

Give your playlist an appropriate title

Before you start adding music to your playlist, you’ll have to name it first (in most instances, anyway).

You should have already decided the mood of your list, and if you have, this step will be pretty easy. We’ll get into this more later, but if you plan to share your playlist with others, consider naming it something catchy as well as something associated with the music files in it.

For instance, you shouldn’t name a New Year playlist “The most Santanic music of all time”. Unless, of course, you actually think that.

Search, search, and search some more

The internet is your best friend in this instance. Use it to your advantage. Scour forums, fan pages, and blogs to find material for your playlist.

You could even Google search phrases like “best music tipped for 2016” or “top songs from 2015”. Auto-complete functions in search engines – even YouTube’s search bar – will also surface similar results you might be interested in giving a listen.

Beyond all that, most streaming services offer browse/discover features as well as expert- and user-curated playlists, and all of these things are rich resources you can use to your advantage when crafting the perfect playlist.

Don’t arrange your playlist by artists

If you want to go whole hog, you can arrange your playlist so that it tells a story (sort of like how an artist arranges the songs on his/her album to tell a story). But that’s kind of intense. Lazier people will probably just throw it together and let the cards fall where they may, so to speak.

We recommend you avoid arranging the whole thing by artists, because hearing clips from the same dude/dudette over and over again will get old.

Share and update your playlist

Your playlist doesn’t have to disappear forever once the party is over.

You can make it public on most streaming services or even embed it elsewhere so that the whole world can check it out. If you’re going to go that route, we suggest updating it every once in a while too (or, if it’s a Christmast list, at least annually). That way your friends, family, and even total strangers will keeping coming back to it for more. It’ll be like being a DJ for a brief minute. Kind of.

Want to know more?

Check out Pocket-lint’s Audio hub for more related pieces.

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31
Dec

Vermont power company finds malware linked to Russian hackers


Just a few days ago, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security released a report detailing their assessment that Russian hackers were behind a series of attacks on US agencies and citizens. While the Obama administration issued sanctions, code linked to those hackers has been shared with other agencies, and on Friday, the Burlington Electric Department found malware with a matching signature on one of its laptops. The discovery raises more questions than it answers, but with recent reports of Russian hackers attacking the power grid in Ukraine, it obviously has raised alerts all over.

The Washington Post first reported the finding, suggesting that Russian hackers had gained access to the electrical grid via the Vermont utility, however the company’s statement says there’s no indication that happened. In a statement, it said the laptop in question was not connected to grid systems. Vermont Public Service Commissioner Christopher Recchia told the Burlington Free Press that the grid was not in danger.

Because it’s not clear exactly what matched, there’s a possibility that it could be the result of a false positive, or shared code. Also, it’s not clear when or how the malware got on the laptop. Based on those reasons, a number of security professionals on Twitter suggested waiting for more details before crediting this finding to Grizzly Steppe (a name attributed to the Russian attacks in Wednesday’s report).

So far, no other utilities or agencies have reported anything similar, but we will update this post if more information comes to light.

Via: Washington Post

Source: Burlington Electrical Department, Burlington Free Press, NBC Washington

31
Dec

Facebook will set off fireworks on your feed for NYE


This December 31st and January 1st, you can set off animated fireworks on your Facebook News Feed to welcome 2017. Simply click or tap a trigger phrase, such “Happy New Year” (of course), on your friends’ or even your own status update. You’ll know you’re not tapping on a random status in vain, because those phrases will appear in blue text. We looked for triggers ourselves and can confirm that it works both on desktop and on Facebook’s mobile apps. So, if you’re spending New Year’s eve and day indoors and alone, you can go on the social network and alleviate that loneliness by having your own private fireworks show.

If you go Live to greet your friends, you’ll also find new masks especially made to celebrate the beginning of a brand new year. Since it’s probably another seasonal feature, you may want to test it out these next couple of days.

31
Dec

Facebook briefly bans journalist’s post slamming Trump supporters


Journalist Kevin Sessums, known for celebrity profiles and memoirs, called Trump supporters “a nasty, fascistic lot” in a Facebook post yesterday. Shortly thereafter, it was removed for violating the network’s “community standards” and Sessums was blocked from posting for 24 hours. Only after being contacted by The Guardian did Facebook reinstate it and issue a mea culpa, stating the post was removed in error, but it’s the latest in a year of questionable actions in which the social network temporarily locked out journalists or briefly banned content in alleged error.

I have been banned for 24 hours posting on Facebook because I shared a Matthew Dowd post about being trolled by Trump voters and his being called a “retard and faggot and Jew” even though he pointed out he is a divorced Catholic. I then called them Russo-American oligarchical theocratic fascists and was was flagged by someone – no doubt a fascist or fascist collaborator – and FB told me that what I posted did not meet its community standards and this would serve as a warning but they if I continued to post such things I would be permanently blocked. To be censored and blocked rightfully naming the rise of fascism is a form of fascism itself and corporate collaboration. On the same day that the celebrity fascist Milo Yiannopoulos gets a $250,000 advance from Simon $ Schuster to write a book they are spinning as one about free speech I am censored for my political speech and banned from posting on Facebook. We are living in dangerous Orwellian times. Maybe take a screenshot of this and post it on your own Facebook pages. Thank you. RESIST.

A photo posted by Kevin Sessums (@kevsessums) on Dec 30, 2016 at 9:20am PST

Back in September, the network banned a post containing the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Terror of War” photograph (better known as ‘napalm girl’) for indecency and suspended the journalist who posted it before reversing both actions after heavy complaint. That same month, anti-Dakota Access Pipeline protesters claim Facebook censored their video stream, though the social network claims its automatic spam filter blocked the live feed site in error. Then Palestinian journalists were briefly locked out of their own accounts, which Facebook again cited as an innocent mistake.

Once again, the social network chalked Sessums’ ban up to internal error.

“We’re very sorry about this mistake,” a Facebook spokesman told The Guardian. “The post was removed in error and restored as soon as we were able to investigate. Our team processes millions of reports each week, and we sometimes get things wrong.”

In each apology, Facebook cites the sheer volume of algorithm and community-reported posts. But less understandable is the arbitrary ruling of what violates the network’s community standards. During the presidential campaign, the social network’s employees argued to ban Trump’s posts for hate speech against CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s command, who ruled it would be inappropriate to censor a candidate. Even if Sessums’ post was blocked in error, it’s worrying that it took a major newspaper’s inquiry to reinstate his speech and access, especially when he was critiquing the followers of a man whose posts evidently don’t run afoul of the network’s community standards.

Source: The Guardian

31
Dec

Samsung will likely bring Chromecast-like functionality to its TVs


Samsung’s Smart View app has let users pipe movies and photos on their device to a nearby TV for years, but the latest version’s App Store page has screenshots suggesting it’s expanding into the streaming market. Similar to Chromecast and Roku, this could funnel YouTube, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video straight to a screen, suggesting that users will be able to use the feature with its next generation of smart televisions and control it with their smartphones.

In the latest version’s screenshots, the app’s tabs also include TV Plus, Samsung’s “smart electronic program guide” content aggregator that’s been bundled with some of its newer devices this year. Notably absent is Netflix, suggesting that Samsung may have joined Apple in failing to secure the content titan under its app umbrella.

Via: Variety

Source: App Store

31
Dec

Apple’s AirPods may be the best Bluetooth earbuds for Android


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Can you use the AirPods with an Android phone?

I picked up a pair of AirPods last week, and have been using them with my iPhone, Mac and other Apple devices. The experience is fantastic — seamless, even — and the sound isn’t half bad, either. When you first open the dental floss-like lid and place an iPhone nearby, the two gadgets talk to one another, and a little window pops up on the iPhone’s screen to begin pairing.

But, not being an active iPhone user, the experience was short-lived. I turned to my LG V20 and asked, “Are you willing to behave the same way?” I placed the AirPods nearby, opened the dental floss lid, and nada. (Strain your credulity for just a moment, please.) But unlike the vast majority of Apple’s Lightning-specific accessories, the AirPods use a common standard, Bluetooth, to actually pair with devices and play music on them. So, knowing that this was a possibility on Android, I set out to test the universality of Apple’s latest sales phenom.

The pairing process

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AirPods pair to an Android phone like any other Bluetooth device: relatively clumsily, and through the settings. Opening the lid and holding down on the earbud case’s single button, the system is placed into pairing mode when the LED turns white. It should then show up in the phone’s Bluetooth menu.

I did this reliably — more so than with most other Bluetooth headphones — a dozen or so times with various Android products, from phones to tablets, and the AirPods were found and connected quickly every time. It’s unclear how much juice Apple’s W1 chip gives to non-iDevices, but if nothing else it seems to be pointing things in the right direction.

Using them

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Say what you will about the AirPods’ design, but you really shouldn’t dismiss them until you have them in your ears, jamming away untethered while you walk around the house or run errands. I’ve had the displeasure of using Bluetooth headphones that had one or more damning flaws, from discomfort to poor battery life, and the only thing I’d say about the AirPods is that they look a little funny, and take some time getting used to.

Once paired to any Android phone the experience was superb.

But once paired to any Android phone — I mainly used them with the LG V20 and Google Pixel — the experience was superb. Pairing, as said, was reliable, and I have yet to experience a lost connection. Even better, I’ve found them to be far more trustworthy over long distances than most other Bluetooth headphones; I’ve climbed stairs, closed doors, and even gone outside, all with my phone sitting two or more dozen feet away with no skips. Your mileage may vary, but these are the most problem-free Bluetooth headphones I’ve used to date, and if Apple’s name wasn’t on the box it would be a must-buy for many Android users.

The accelerometer in each of the AirPods also works as a gesture tool on Android. When paired with the iPhone, a double-tap on the side of either earbud activates Siri; on Android, the gesture functions as a play/pause button which, I’d argue, is far more useful. And it works, every time. (Not unlike how the Samsung Gear IconX earbuds work, in fact.)

The AirPods’ case provides around 24-hours of additional battery life to the five hours inside the AirPods themselves. And though it may seem annoying having to carry around a second thing to keep the earbuds going, in practice it means they last longer, and are more easily charged, than any Micro-USB-based Bluetooth headphones I’ve owned to date. That you can pop them into the case for 10 minutes and gain an extra couple of hours of uptime is an added bonus. And while the case itself charges using Lightning, if you have an iPhone or iPad in your house, you can easily charge these, and there’s an extra cable in the box. All you need is a USB-A port.

Sound quality

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Here’s where things get a bit muddy, for lack of a better pun. AirPods sound a lot like EarPods, Apple’s in-the-box wired headphones. And while there’s a bit more oomph to the bass line and a slightly more even sound at the high-end, this is by no means an audiophile experience. That Apple discourages the use of seal-tightening ear tips makes it even harder to find an ideal placement, and while I have been lucky enough to find a position where the AirPods fit nicely and sound full, other people may not be as lucky.

Is this $160 sound? Definitely not. At best, it’s $100 sound. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth buying.

Should you buy AirPods with an Android phone?

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Yes, you pay an Apple tax, and I too balked at the $159 price, but even as an Android user I feel comfortable recommending them.

There are plenty of great Android-compatible Bluetooth headphones that are both cheaper and sound better than the Apple AirPods. But there are none that I want to walk around in my ears with as consistently, and that leads to me listening to more music for longer. Unlike other in-ear Bluetooth earphones, AirPods are comfortable enough for me to wear for hours with no discomfort, and sound good enough that I’m happy to do so. They’re great for phone calls, too, and I’ve yet to receive complaints about sound quality from people on the other end of the line.

Yes, you pay an Apple tax, and I too balked at the $159 price, but even as an Android user I feel comfortable recommending them. AirPods are even more useful if you use a Mac, since the included W1 chip — the thing that makes it super easy to pair with an iPhone — also works with Apple’s laptops, so it’s easy to switch between phone and computer in a snap, if necessary.

I don’t imagine I’ll have much luck convincing the hardcore Android stalwart to buy a pair of AirPods — the product exudes “Appleness” in every atom — but Apple did so many things right with this product that I have to try.

See at Apple

31
Dec

Encrypted chat app Signal sidesteps censorship in Cuba and Oman


Signal, the messaging app that prides itself on circumventing government censorship, has a few new places where its flagship feature works. Last week it was Egypt, and now users in Cuba and Oman can send messages without fear of them being intercepted and altered by lawmakers. As VentureBeat reports, the domain fronting feature is only available on Android now, but, like the Egypt update, it should arrive on iOS shortly thereafter. Given Cuba’s penchant for censoring what its citizens see, and its launch of state-sponsored home internet service, the timing is perfect.

Via: VentureBeat

Source: Google Play

31
Dec

Hyundai’s next fuel cell SUVs have a reported range of 348 miles


Hyundai’s next line of fuel cell SUVs will have a range of 348 miles, besting the current Hyundai Tucson by 30 percent, according to Nikkei. Hyundai reportedly plans to roll out its second generation of fuel cell SUVs in January 2018.

A 348-mile range would put Hyundai ahead of the Toyota Mirai, which travels 312 miles per fill-up, but behind Honda’s new Clarity Fuel Cell, which travels 366 miles, as MotorTrend points out. Hyundai is apparently looking to price the 2018 fuel cell SUVs at about $50,000 a pop.

Additionally, Hyundai is set to debut its fuel cell-powered commercial bus in 2017, putting it in direct competition with Toyota, which has plans to do the same, Nikkei says.

Hyundai is also preparing to release its first all-electric vehicle, the Ioniq, in the United States next year. That model comes in fully electric, plug-in and gasoline-hybrid versions. Take a look at it in photos or, if you’re in Los Angeles, take a free two-hour spin in a branded Ioniq via the WaiveCar ridesharing app.

Via: MotorTrend

Source: Nikkei

31
Dec

Apple Rumored to Begin Seeding iOS 10.3 With New ‘Theatre’ Mode on January 10


Apple is preparing to begin seeding builds of iOS 10.3 to developers as soon as next month, according to Sonny Dickson, who has occasionally offered accurate information on Apple’s plans from supply chain sources and other contacts. Dickson says iOS 10.3 will include a new “Theatre” mode with a “popcorn-shaped” icon in the Control Center, although he does not explain what exactly this mode will entail.

iOS 10.3 to feature a new Theatre mode – will include a new popcorn-shaped Control Center icon.

— Sonny Dickson (@SonnyDickson) December 30, 2016

iOS 10.3 beta 1 is scheduled to seed on January 10th.

— Sonny Dickson (@SonnyDickson) December 30, 2016

The most recent significant iOS update was iOS 10.2, which was released to the public earlier this month and included a new TV app and a number of new and updated emoji, among other changes. A new iOS 10.2.1 update is currently in beta testing.

Trend of visits to MacRumors from devices claiming to be running iOS 10.3
We’ve seen a steady increase in visits to MacRumors from devices claiming to be running iOS 10.3 over past several months with visits now numbering in the hundreds per day, suggesting a developer release could indeed be coming in the near future.

Apple has been rumored to be launching updated iPad models in the March or April timeframe, with the company reportedly developing some new iPad-specific software features such as improved Apple Pencil support to accompany the hardware updates. It’s possible iOS 10.3 could be the update that delivers these features, although it may not be apparent in the early stages of developer seeding if the new features are exclusive to unreleased hardware.

Tag: iOS 10.3
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31
Dec

Nikon and Alphabet subsidiaries teaming up to develop advanced screening for diabetic eye disease


Everyone could use a little feel-good news to end the year on.

A new partnership between Nikon’s subsidiary Optos, and Alphabet’s research organization Verily Life Sciences (formerly known as Google Life Sciences) will look at developing new machine learning-enabled retina screening processes to help diagnose diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema, the leading causes of blindness among adults around the world.

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According to the World Health Organization diabetes rates are rising in parts of the world, specifically in low or middle-income countries. There’s an expectation that we will see an increase in diabetic patients with vision impairment, but improved access and screening rates may help prevent disease progression and blindness.

Nikon announced the strategic alliance in a press release:

Through an exclusive collaboration in numerous geographies, Nikon (including its subsidiary Optos) and Verily will co-develop solutions for the earlier detection of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. The partnership will combine Nikon’s leadership in optical engineering and precision manufacturing, its proprietary ultra-widefield technology and strong commercial presence among eyecare specialists, and Verily’s machine learning technology. Together, Nikon and Verily will work to provide innovative medical solutions to assist physicians, and address a broad population of diabetic patients.

This is fantastic news given all the great advancements in machine learning we’ve seen over the past years. Here’s hoping we hear about some great advancements from this partnership in 2017, and here’s to more great collaborative efforts like this in the future.

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