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Category: Culture

Culture

Learning a new language is easy and inexpensive with Mondly

The key to learning any new language is feedback. When you’re immersed in conversation, it’s easy to pick up key phrases and pronunciation, but not all of us have the means to jet off to Spain, France or wherever we can learn to speak like a local. The next best thing: The Mondly app.

Mondly is packed with thorough dictionaries and verb conjugators for 33 languages, plus lessons that will have you picking up basic conversation fast. Plus, it acts as your private tutor, correcting your pronunciation through speech recognition. Combine that with examples from a roster of professional voice actors, and it’s like having a new international friend to show you the ropes.

Why not learn a new language today? Your excuses are dwindling: The price has just dropped on a one, three or five language lifetime subscription to Mondly.

from Boing Boing https://boingboing.net/2018/11/20/learning-a-new-language-is-eas.html

Culture

Alexa will soon be able to read the news just like a professional

<em>The new speaking style should be arriving on Alexa-enabled devices in the coming weeks. </em>

Amazon’s Alexa continues to learn new party tricks, with the latest being a “newscaster style” speaking voice that will be launching on enabled devices in a few weeks’ time.

You can listen to samples of the speaking style below, and the results, well, they speak for themselves. The voice can’t be mistaken for a human, but it does incorporates stresses into sentences in the same way you’d expect from a TV or radio newscaster. According to Amazon’s own surveys, users prefer it to Alexa’s regular speaking style when listening to articles (though getting news from smart speakers still has lots of other problems).

Amazon says the new speaking style is enabled by by the company’s development of “neural text-to-speech” technology or NTTS….

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from The Verge – All Posts https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/20/18104413/amazon-alexa-speaking-style-machine-learning-neural-ntts-newscaster

Culture

Elon Musk renames Big Falcon Rocket to ‘Starship’

SpaceX’s future massive rocket, the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), has a new name. Writing from his personal Twitter account, CEO Elon Musk said that the transportation portion of the craft, currently known as the Big Falcon Spaceship (BFS), will now be called Starship, while the booster portion (the bit with the actual rockets) will be called Super Heavy.

Plans for the 387-foot Big Falcon Rocket were officially revealed back in September. Eventually, the company hopes that it will replace the company’s existing Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Dragon rockets. The craft is currently being developed at the Port of Los Angeles, at an expected cost of $5 billion and will be capable of taking up to 100 tons of cargo or 100 passengers as far as Mars.

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from The Verge – All Posts https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/20/18104389/big-falcon-rocket-bfr-starship-spacex-elon-musk

Culture

Give Women Your Money: Shoppable spreadsheet of women-led businesses

Editor’s note: We love this one-stop spreadsheet of women-led businesses created by Krystal Plomatos, and encourage you to share it with friends and family. Give women your money, this holiday season and beyond.


I SPEND A LOT OF TIME OBSESSING about two things: how more women can get more money and power, and brands. I’m a brand strategist by day. “Give Women Your Money” is my way of making it easier for women to find, shop, and help scale women-led businesses. It’s a “shoppable spreadsheet” with more than a hundred companies I’ve identified and collected here, with a simple form that anyone else can use to make suggestions.

Give Women Your Money is also for the fellas!

A lot of men are looking for ways to be a productive ally. Nudging them to shop from women anytime they need to get a gift for a significant other, mom, sister, friend, niece, etc., is one easy way they contribute towards the push for a more equitable business environment. (And some of the companies on the spreadsheet make unisex products, as well.)

The numbers associated with women’s economic impact are staggering in terms of raw purchasing power (estimated at $7 trillion+ in the US), our dominance in gift-buying decisions (68%), our influence on entire household purchase choices (90%).

When you take a moment to reflect on just how much power we collectively wield, it becomes exciting to actively shift your spending so it can benefit women from different backgrounds. At this point there is almost always a woman-led option for every category; from deodorants, to toothpaste, skincare and beauty, handbags, shoes, jewelry and, of course, clothes.

I included links to founder interviews and their Instagram accounts within the spreadsheet because name recognition and follower counts also helps drive business, especially so for businesses led by women of color.

These women are also designing things that solve real pain points, not manufactured insecurities, as can be the case with some mainstream brands.

There are no diet lollipops on the list.

I tried to find products that have real utility, like functional-instead-of-decorative pockets or machine-washable workwear that spares you from spending a small fortune in dry cleaning, or technical fabrics that minimize or reduce sweat stains. There are also some selections from the slow fashion and clean beauty movements. Women are prioritizing ethically-sourced and manufactured raw materials and cruelty/chemical-free ingredients. To make that choice is not at all cheap! I run a business. I can relate to just how hard it can be to make those sacrifices. But recognizing the growing number of companies with a moral compass says “ok, there are more people ready and willing to ‘buy less but buy better.’”

I hope you find it useful!

LINK: Give Women Your Money.

Krystal Plomatos is a brand and innovation strategist and principal at Special Circumstances, a brand and media consultancy based in Detroit.

IMAGES: SHUTTERSTOCK

from Boing Boing https://boingboing.net/2018/11/20/givewomenyourmoney.html

Culture

How Mark Zuckerberg became a wartime CEO

In April 2011, Ben Horowitz wrote a popular blog post about war and business. There are two kinds of CEOs, said the entrepreneur and cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz. There’s the “peacetime” CEO, best represented by Eric Schmidt during Google’s charmed first decade. And then there’s the “wartime” CEO — the one facing an existential threat. Incoming Google CEO Larry Page, he argued, was a wartime CEO — with Facebook ascendant, Page would have to adopt a more combative mindset. Horowitz writes:

In peacetime, leaders must maximize and broaden the current opportunity. As a result, peacetime leaders employ techniques to encourage broad-based creativity and contribution across a diverse set of possible objectives. In wartime, by contrast, the…

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from The Verge – All Posts https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/20/18103886/mark-zuckerberg-wartime-ceo-facebook-sheryl-sandberg

Culture

Tumblr was removed from Apple’s App Store over child pornography issues

Tumblr says that child pornography was the reason for its app’s sudden disappearance from the iOS App Store. The app has been missing from the store since November 16th, but until now the reason for its absence was unclear — initially Tumblr simply said it was “working to resolve the issue with the iOS app.” However, after Download.com approached Tumblr with sources claiming that the reason was related to the discovery of child pornography on the service, the Yahoo-owned social media network issued a new statement confirming the matter.

In its updated statement, Tumblr said that while every image uploaded to the platform is “scanned against an industry database of child sexual abuse material” to filter out explicit images, a “routine…

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from The Verge – All Posts https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/20/18104366/tumblr-ios-app-child-pornography-removed-from-app-store

Culture

The OnePlus 6 is $429 for Black Friday

The OnePlus 6 has received a $100 discount ahead of Black Friday. Normally $529 ($20 cheaper than the OnePlus 6T), it now costs $429 for the base model with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Configurations of the OnePlus 6 with more memory and storage are available through the company’s website, and are eligible for the same $100 discount at purchase.

Opting for the older OnePlus phone versus the latest model might seem counterintuitive, but it’s still a good deal if you’re after an Android phone with fast performance. The OnePlus 6 is mostly the same phone internally to the OnePlus 6T, barring a few differences, like the latter’s fingerprint sensor embedded into its display, the lack of a headphone jack, and more robust support for…

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from The Verge – All Posts https://www.theverge.com/good-deals/2018/11/20/18103285/oneplus-6-black-friday-sale-deal-price

Culture

Farewell to the Steam Link, the best wireless HDMI gadget ever made

The Steam Link

Why am I sad that a tiny black puck which streamed games over a Wi-Fi network will soon disappear from shelves around the world? Because too few people experienced the magic that the Steam Link affords.

Over the past couple years, it seemed like PC gaming juggernaut Valve couldn’t give away the gadget fast enough, charging as little as $2.50 for the $50 gadget on sale. That’s probably why the company is quietly discontinuing the device today, though the company will continue support. (Valve says the Steam Link is already selling out around the world, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.)

My pet theory? The Steam Link was just too an tough idea to get every PC gamer’s head around. The little black box beams PC games to your TV through the power…

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from The Verge – All Posts https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2018/11/19/18103672/valve-discontinues-steam-link-streaming-set-top-box

Culture

Chromecasts now support multi-room music playback

Chromecasts can now be used to play music in sync across multiple rooms and devices. Engadget reports that an update rolling out today allows Chromecasts to be added to speaker groups, a handy feature for those who want to combine multiple Google Cast-compatible devices for simultaneous audio streaming. Previously, speaker groups could only be made with audio devices, meaning the standard Chromecast was excluded.

Google announced that support for speaker groups was coming to the Chromecast back in October, so it was just a matter of time until it was rolled out. The feature appears to be available now for users who signed up for Google’s preview program, and works on all generations of Chromecast. XDA Developers reported that some who…

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from The Verge – All Posts https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/19/18103654/google-chromecast-speaker-group-multiroom-playback-support-added

Culture

Apple really wants you to think the iPad Pro is a computer

Apple insists that the iPad Pro is a computer — not just a tablet. In its new advertisement for the iPad Pro, Apple says the device “can be your next computer,” is “more powerful than most computers,” and flat out that it is “a computer.” Still, while enthusiasts have been ready to embrace the iPad as a computer for years, it’s yet to grow into a fully fledged one and still faces restrictions that a normal “computer” does not.

Whether the iPad Pro can replace your computer is a question that reviewers have repeatedly asked, but it’s new to see Apple take this angle in its marketing materials. Previous ads about iPads, including the infamous “What’s a computer?” ad were about how tablets are different from computers and are the device of…

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from The Verge – All Posts https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/19/18103515/ipad-pro-replace-your-computer-ad-apple

Culture

Work on Telltale’s The Walking Dead resumes with ‘many’ original developers

The latest chapter in the ongoing Telltale Games saga finally involves a bit of good news: developer Skybound Games, which picked up the rights to the dissolved developer’s The Walking Dead series, says it has brought back “many of the talented, passionate team members who originally worked on the game” to finish its final season. Release dates for the remaining content will be announced some time soon.

Development on the final two episodes of the final season began today, writes Johnny O’Dell, the social media manager for The Walking Dead comic series, in a blog post published today on Skybound’s website. O’Dell also confirmed that the series’ games would be returning shortly to online stores, after Telltale’s recent bankruptcy…

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from The Verge – All Posts https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/19/18103547/telltale-games-the-walking-dead-skybound-games-original-developers-final-season

Culture

“In Loving Memory of Saddam Hussein” memorial plaque appears on London park bench

A brass plaque memorializing Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein was spotted Sunday on a park bench in London. No-one’s exactly sure how long it’s been there, but it was gone by Monday evening. Victoria Richards took the photo and spoke to the BBC.

Victoria questioned the motive of whoever fixed the plaque on the bench: “Was it a prankster? What’s the message? Was it a frivolous, dark thing to do?”

Reaction on social media has been mixed. Some thought it was funny while others were shocked.

Adds the BBC: “Some came to the conclusion there must have been another person called Saddam Hussein who was born and died on the same dates as the dictator, and lived locally in Wanstead.”

from Boing Boing https://boingboing.net/2018/11/19/in-loving-memory-of-saddam-h.html

Culture

Chicago shooting: Multiple victims at Mercy Hospital, police officer and suspect among victims

Police officer shot, multiple victims reported in active shooting situation near Chicago hospital. Shots were fired both inside and outside the hospital.

It is not known how many people are injured from gunfire. A police officer is said to be in critical condition, and a man identified as the suspected shooter is also said to be injured. Details are limited. “At least one possible offender is shot,” Chicago Police spokesperson says.

“He is in critical condition but receiving excellent care,” Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted. “Please send your prayers.”

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“Officers are doing a methodical search of Mercy hospital,” Guglielmi said on Twitter.

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WALB:

Police said a suspect was shot and there are multiple victims injured near Mercy Hospital and Medical Center on the South Side of Chicago.

Shots were fired both inside and outside the hospital between 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. CT, police said.

One of the injured is a Chicago police officer who is in critical condition.

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From the Chicago Tribune:

Chicago police officer and multiple other people, including an apparent shooter, were wounded in an “active shooter” attack at Mercy Hospital on the Near South Side that brought out a large police presence Monday afternoon, authorities said.

The officer was critically injured in the shooting attack at and near the hospital, 2525 S. Michigan Ave., about 3:20 p.m., a police spokesman said.

“He is in critical condition but receiving excellent care,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. “Please send your prayers.”

There were “Reports of multiple victims” in the attack, Guglielmi said in a tweet. Fewer than six people were believed shot, according to an official.

“Officers are doing a methodical search … At least one possible offender is shot,” Guglielmi said.

Fire officials called an emergency medical services Plan III, sending at least 15 ambulances to the scene, because of an “active shooter” situation, a Fire Department spokesman said.

A hospital employee said she was in her office when a notice came over a public address system telling those in the hospital to lock their doors. They were later evacuated and people were put on CTA buses as authorities dealt with the situation.

“I don’t know what happened,” she said as she was ushered onto a bus.

“They told us to run so we did,” one hospital employee said.

Authorities were warning people to stay out of the area. Fire crews were at the scene.

from Boing Boing https://boingboing.net/2018/11/19/chicago-mass-shooting-at-mercy.html