Author Archives: Brittany Hillen


Researchers developed an algorithm that learned to rap

Researchers developed an algorithm that learned to rap

Do you spend your spare time penning lyrics and dreaming of hitting it big? If so, you may have more than humans to compete with in the future. Researchers at the University of Aalto in Finland have created a machine-learning algorithm that can both analyze existing rap lyrics and then spit out its own…and not just weak rhyming verses, either. The resulting lyrics are said to be on the same topic and in the same style as existing lyrics it has analyzed, and with a complexity on par with human-sourced lyrics. Training for the algorithm involved more than 10,000 songs from in excess of 100 different rappers.

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Sound Torch: a speaker that is literally on fire

Sound Torch: a speaker that is literally on fire

There are speakers on the market that show light patterns adjusted to your music, but the Sound Torch is different — it produces fire. Real fire. The Sound Torch is a small cube-shaped Bluetooth speaker with a grille on the top through which flames dance in sync with whatever audio the speaker is currently pumping. The speaker itself is powered from an internal battery, and the flames are gas-fueled, making for an altogether atmospheric cube. And, yes, there are some safety features to keep the party from burning down.

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Facebook hires startup Tugboat Yards

Facebook hires startup Tugboat Yards

Facebook has acqui-hired, so to speak, the startup Tugboat Yards, it has been announced. The announcement was made by Tugboat Yards itself, which says that it is feeling both excited and melancholy about the new business deal. Under this deal, Tugboat Yards will be completely shutting down on June 30, with the team then heading on over to Facebook to join the social network’s product team. Says the new Facebook team members, they’ll be working on media products including video and news.

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CareFirst health insurer hacked: up to 1.1m customers affected

CareFirst health insurer hacked: up to 1.1m customers affected

Recently we reported that the number of health care providers that have suffered some sort of breach sit at the 90-percent mark (over the last two years), and though some have taken steps to protect their networks, many are still vulnerable. Today it was announced that the health insurer CareFirst had been breached, making it the third in the United States to suffer such an attack (or, at least, to disclose as much). The attack took place in June of last year, and is said to have been sophisticated, affecting up to 1.1 million of the insurer’s customers. The company is based in Maryland but services the Washington DC region.

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Apple rumored to replace Helvetica Neue with San Francisco font

Apple rumored to replace Helvetica Neue with San Francisco font

If you’re fond of the new San Francisco font Apple introduced with its Apple Watch smartwatch (and you’re either an OS X or iOS user), then good news, maybe: rumor has it that Apple will be replacing the font Helvetica Neue in upcoming iterations of iOS and OS X with San Francisco, unifying the fonts and giving a dose of readability that many think Helvetica Neue lacks. Such information comes from sources, however, and hasn’t yet been confirmed by Apple.

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High schooler hits entire school district with week-long cyberattack

High schooler hits entire school district with week-long cyberattack

Teenagers regularly make poor decisions when it comes to technology, and too many of them in recent times involve swatting pranks. This latest episode of poor teenage judgement comes in the form of an alleged cyberattack, however, and now that high school student is facing a possible felony charge, according to KTVB. The unnamed 17-year-old is said to have instituted a DDoS attack against the West Ada school district in Idaho — it’s the largest school district in the state, and for one miserable week students and faculty across dozens of schools suffered because of it.

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Time Warner Cable: telecom Altice tipped with acquisition ambitions

Time Warner Cable: telecom Altice tipped with acquisition ambitions

The Comcast and Time Warner Cable merger didn't happen, and many agree that is a good thing. That means Time Warner Cable is back up for grabs, and another telecommunications company is said to be eyeing it with acquisition ambitions. That company is the European telecommunications firm Altice, which is under the control of French investor Patrick Drahi. Altice is also said to be in advanced talks about acquiring Suddenlink, a US cable operator. Neither rumors are official at this point, however.

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Schools that ban smartphones will (likely) improve test scores

Schools that ban smartphones will (likely) improve test scores

It’s always important to backup the seemingly obvious with an actual study, and such is what the London School of Economics did. The school conducted a study that looked at the test scores of students and the effect smartphones have on them. As it turns out (and no one is surprised), banning the smartphones caused the test scores to improve, lending credence to some schools’ push for anti-smartphone zones. Underachieving students see the most improvement.

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Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm open beta arrives

Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm open beta arrives

Blizzard's anticipated Heroes of the Storm game has arrived, at least in its open beta iteration. Back in early April 2014 the Alpha invites were going out, and since this past January the game has been in a closed beta. Right on time, that closed beta has flipped the sign over to "open", and it comes only a short while before the planned June launch of the game. Anyone can play now under the beta, but there might be some snafus.

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AT&T tipped to be easing away from 2-year contracts

AT&T tipped to be easing away from 2-year contracts

With some carriers nowadays, you can elect to pay for a device in small monthly increments rather than shackling yourself into a long contract. Though the ultimate cost tends to be higher in the long run, many have embraced the option, and now word has it that AT&T will be nudging its subscribers toward that option by default. Starting June 1, says sources, the wireless carrier will be offering its AT&T Next in the place of 2-year contracts, the latter of which will be fizzling away.

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