Alexa’s Search by Lyrics Is One of the Echo’s Best Lesser-Known Features

In case you didn’t know, Alexa can help you find that one song with those one lyrics that go sort of like “blah blah blah” or whatever.

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All you have to do is say, “Alexa, play the song that goes [insert the few lyrics you know here],” and she’ll find it easy-peasy. Pretty handy when you’ve got an enjoyable earworm inside your brain and you just can’t seem to remember what that song is called. This feature isn’t exactly new or anything, but it is something every Alexa owner should know.

Right now Amazon is showing off the most requested songs by lyrics via Alexa. These tracks either have catchy choruses, unforgettable, standout lyrics, or have confusing titles that don’t seem to line up with the lyrics Alexa owners are trying to find on their own (for example, the top track, “HandClap” by the Fitz and the Tantrums). You can check out the complete track list, in order, down below.

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Boeing just made a big bet on drones and electric planes

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Artist’s conception of Aurora’s eVTOL, a prototype of a plane Uber hopes to use to offer flying car service in Dallas and Dubai starting in 2020.


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On Thursday, the aviation giant Boeing announced that it is acquiring Aurora Flight Sciences. The lesser-known company specializes in cutting-edge aviation technologies, including electric airplanes, vertical-take-off-and-landing (VTOL) airplanes, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Buying the company will help Boeing to beef up its capabilities in these areas, which are expected to be big growth areas for the aviation industry in the coming years.

While Aurora is much smaller than Boeing, it’s not exactly a startup. Founded in 1989, the company has headquarters in Virginia and manufacturing facilities in West Virginia and Mississippi. It makes a few of its own airplanes, manufactures components like wings and doors, and also does cutting-edge design work.

The company does work for NASA, the US military, and private customers. One of its highest-profile private customers is Uber, which has tapped Aurora to build aircraft for Uber Elevate, the intra-city “flying car” Uber hopes to launch in Dallas and Dubai in 2020 (though we’re skeptical they’ll achieve that self-imposed deadline).

Boeing is making the acquisition at a time when the aviation industry appears to be on the verge of big technological shifts driven by better batteries, motors, and software.

One big shift is vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) aircraft. Because electric motors are much lighter than conventional aircraft engines, there’s greater flexibility to design aircraft with a variety of propellers positioned around an aircraft. That opens up the possibility for new aircraft designs, including designs with some downward-facing propellers that allow aircraft to take off and land straight up. Using multiple electric motors can also lead to aircraft that are significantly quieter than conventional airplanes or helicopters, opening the possibility of using them in closer proximity to populated areas.

Uber envisions a future in which metropolitan areas are dotted with “vertiports”—tiny airports where small VTOL airplanes take off and land. In Uber’s vision of the future a decade from now, someone traveling from San Francisco to San Jose—a trip that can take two hours in traffic—might take a short self-driving Uber car ride to a vertiport, hop on a self-driving VTOL airplane, take a 15-minute flight to a San Jose vertiport, and then catch a second self-driving taxi to her destination. Uber estimates such a flight will initially cost $130, but it could become as cheap as $20 in the long run.

Less ambitious goals include enabling more affordable short-haul flights between regional airports. Not only can short-range electric airplane flights be more energy-efficient, but self-flying airplane technology may eventually eliminate the need for pilots on small, short-range flights. This would allow the flights to be even cheaper and could revitalize smaller airports where operating large conventional commercial airplanes doesn’t make sense.

Obviously, the specifics here are a matter of speculation, but there’s little doubt that the next decade or two will see significant changes in the industry. Buying Aurora helps to ensure that Boeing will be able to play in all these markets.

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Hijacking Computers to Mine Cryptocurrency Is All the Rage

Have you visited Showtime’s website recently? If so, you may be a cryptocurrency miner. An observant Twitter user was the first to sound an alarm last month that the source code for the Showtime Anytime website contained a tool that was secretly hijacking visitors’ computers to mine Monero, a Bitcoin–like digital currency focused on anonymity.

It’s still not clear how the tool got there, and Showtime quickly removed it after it was pointed out. But if it was the work of hackers, the episode is actually part of a larger trend: security experts have seen a spike in cyberattacks this year that are aimed at stealing computer power for mining operations. Mining is a computationally intensive process that computers comprising a cryptocurrency network complete to verify the transaction record, called the blockchain, and receive digital coins in return (see “What Bitcoin Is, and Why It Matters”).

Lately the same mining tool that appeared on Showtime’s website has been showing up all over the Internet. Released just last month by a company called Coinhive, the tool is supposed to give website owners a way to make money without displaying ads. But malware authors seem to be among its most voracious early adopters. In the past few weeks, researchers have discovered the software hiding in Chrome extensions, hacked WordPress sites, and even in the arsenal of a notorious “malvertising” hacker group.

Coinhive’s miner isn’t the only one out there, and hackers are using a variety of approaches to hijack computers. Kaspersky Lab recently reported finding cryptocurrency mining tools on 1.65 million of its clients’ computers so far this year—well above last year’s pace.

The researchers also recently detected several large botnets set up to profit from cryptocurrency mining, making a “conservative” estimate that such operations could generate up to $30,000 a month. Beyond that, they’ve seen “growing numbers” of attempts to install mining tools on servers owned by organizations. According to IBM’s X-Force security team, cryptocurrency mining attacks aimed at enterprise networks jumped sixfold between January and August.

The researchers say that hackers are especially attracted to relatively new alternatives to Bitcoin, particularly Monero and zCash. That’s probably in part because these currencies have cryptographic features that make transactions untraceable by law enforcement (see “Criminals Thought Bitcoin Was the Perfect Hiding Place, but They Thought Wrong”). It’s also because hackers can generate more profits mining these newer currencies than they can with Bitcoin. Bitcoin-mining malware was extremely popular two or three years ago, but the currency’s popularity has, by design, made it more difficult to mine, warding off this kind of attack. Hackers are now embracing newer, easier-to-mine currencies.

Malware containing cryptocurrency mining tools can be relatively straightforward to detect using antivirus software, says Justin Fier, cyber intelligence lead for the security firm Darktrace. But illegal mining operations set up by insiders, which can be much more difficult to detect, are also on the rise, he says—often carried out by employees with high-level network privileges and the technical skills needed to turn their company’s computing infrastructure into a currency mint.

In one instance, Fier’s team, which relies on machine learning to detect anomalous activity inside networks, noticed an employee at a major telecom company using a company computer in an unauthorized way to communicate with his home machine. Further investigation revealed that he had planned to turn his company’s server room into a mining pool.

So long as there is a potential payday involved, such inside jobs are likely to remain high on the list of cybersecurity challenges that companies face. As for keeping hacked websites from hijacking your personal computer? In an ironic twist, some ad blockers are now banning Coinhive.

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Blind-Assistance App “Be My Eyes” Is Now on Android

Be My Eyes, an app that lets sighted people remotely help blind people with visual tasks, is now available on Android, after two years on iOS.

The app is free, anonymous, and available 24/7. Anyone can join as a volunteer or end user. There’s no commitment when joining, so for sighted people, this is a great way to make the world better just a few minutes at a time. Its creators report over 270 thousand help sessions, with over 500 thousand sighted users helping 38 thousand blind ones.

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One caveat: Because anyone can join, blind users should avoid revealing sensitive data like credit card numbers to strangers.

Be My Eyes for Android | Google Play

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Logitech’s POWERPLAY Brings Wireless Charging to your Gaming Mice

Logitech POWERPLAY

Back in early 2016, Logitech unveiled the G900 Chaos Spectrum, a wireless gaming mouse that was faster than wired ones. It was the best gaming mouse ever, and now they’ve improved it with the G903, which adds compatibility with the POWERPLAY, a mouse pad that charges the G903 and G703 wirelessly.

$126

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$94

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As mice have gotten better and better, mouse pads have become less and less necessary, and until the PowerPlay (not capitalizing that anymore), the biggest “innovation” in mouse pads over the past couple years has been the addition of RGB lighting.

With the G903/PowerPlay pairing, Logitech has solved the two main problems with wireless gaming mice- lag and the eventual need to plug in to recharge. The PowerPlay package includes multiple gaming surfaces to suit your preferences, and even better, the PowerPlay doubles as the wireless receiver for your G903/G703, so you only lose one USB port to the two products.

And yes, it works. After a few minutes of the magic setting in, you’ll never think about plugging your mouse again, and eventually forget it was ever a thing.


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Solar power is the fastest growing source of global energy

Solar power was the fastest-growing source of global energy last year, overtaking growth from all other forms, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The spurt is largely attributed to lower prices and changing government policies encouraging a shift away from traditional power sources, such as coal. China, for example, has played an important role in renewable energy’s prominence, accounting for almost half of all new solar panels installed worldwide.

Many experts are heralding a "new era" in solar photovoltaics (PV), anticipating that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology up until 2022. In fact, the IEA has admitted it had underestimated how fast green energy was growing, noting that many countries are set for a solar boom in the coming years. India’s renewable energy capacity is expected to double by 2022, overtaking the EU.

However, the IEA has said that despite these encouraging figures, there are uncertainties ahead. Donald Trump’s pledge to revive coal has put the country’s position as the second fastest-growing renewables market in jeopardy, especially if the US International Trade Commission were to impose tariffs on imports of Chinese solar panels. However the forecast for now, according to the IEA, remains bright.

Source: IEA

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Thanks to Alexa, you can start a Nissan SUV with your voice

The latest skill for Amazon’s Alexa doesn’t connect it to some gadget or appliance — it’s to lightly operate Nissan cars. Following last week’s news that BMW’s next models would work with the voice-controlled assistant, Nissan has announced that some of its cars will, too…so long as you just want to have it remotely start your car or unlock your doors.

The new Alexa skill links up with the automaker’s smart service, NissanConnect, to do a handful of basic tasks remotely following simple commands (e.g. "Alexa, tell NissanConnect Services to…"). Those include: Turning the engine on (or off), locking or unlocking the car’s doors, honking the horn and toggling on/off the lights. The skill seems to be available now, and with current models (listed below) to boot.

But those interactions seem limited compared to what BMW has in store next year (which will fully integrate Alexa into its vehicles), including asking for news or driving directions to appear on the vehicle’s dashboard screen. Still, it’s another foothold for Amazon, which is fighting to compete with the deals and integrations Apple’s Carplay and Google’s Android Auto have already secured.

Nissan owners can use the new Alexa skill in these models:

  • Nissan Altima (2016-17)
  • Nissan Maxima (2016-17)
  • Nissan Murano (2017)
  • Nissan Pathfinder (2017-18)
  • Nissan Rogue (2016, 2017)
  • Nissan Rogue Sport (2017)
  • Nissan Sentra (2016-17)
  • Nissan TITAN (2017)
  • Nissan TITAN XD (2016-17)
  • Nissan GT-R (2017)
  • Nissan Armada (2018)

Via: CNET

Source: Nissan

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