I am a begrudging fan of algorithmic playlists. I miss putting together my own “new favorite songs” lists and assembling the perfect order of tunes for a burned CD. But damn if Spotify’s Discover Weekly and Your Daily Mix playlists aren’t convenient, and generally, really good.
Spotify flexed its algorithmic playlist-making muscles again Friday when it released a new tool meant to provide the perfect soundtrack for an upcoming road trip: “Soundtrack your ride.” It’s a partially human, partially computer-directed playlist generator assembled to fit the length of your road trip.
A portal takes you through a series of questions about your upcoming road trip as well as your music taste. Ostensibly combined with what it knows about your music listening habits (you agree to let the portal look at your Spotify history when you begin), the answers help to generate a playlist that is on theme for where you are going, who you’re with, and what your vibe is.
First, it asks for the start and end points of your ride. This lets it know how long the playlist should be, as well as specifically where you’re traveling. To try it out, I pretended I was taking a trip from L.A. to San Francisco, since this is actually a drive I take a few times a year.
Next, it asks who you’re with. The options are solo, kids, friends, pet, or partner. I chose partner, but am truly not sure what bearing this has on the results (maybe more love songs)?
After that comes your favorite genre for the road (I chose “indie”), and then your “drive vibe.” To me, this usually fluctuates every couple hours, but if I had to choose just one, I went with “sing alongs.” Next it asks about your “ultimate driving song,” which gives you six options to choose from. I went with Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles,” because Vanessa still bangs.
Finally, it asks about “your wheels.” Conceding that I drive a “sedan” was a sad moment for me, a 30-year-old (it’s actually a hatchback!!).
And then, the moment of truth. The playlist takes just a few seconds to generate, but sure enough, my new Soundtrack My Ride playlist showed up in my Spotify side bar, and at 5 hours and 48 minutes, it perfectly fit the length of the drive.
The song selection was on point! It was clear that it took my listening history into account. On a recent road trip, I DID listen to a lot of Lana Del Rey, thank you very much. And it had some of my favorite artists and songs, like tunes from Jenny Lewis and Christine and the Queens. But, beyond my general taste, it was definitely road trip-inspired and conformed to some of my questions; “sing along” songs + love for Vanessa Carlton = lots of Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, and even Shania Twain.
I like that it generated a playlist for me because six hours is a lot of time to fill. It also selected songs I like but wouldn’t have thought of, whether because I don’t know them, or because they fall on the “guilty” end of the guilty pleasure spectrum. But that doesn’t mean that while going fast up the 5 I wouldn’t enjoy singing along to a little Hillary Duff.
Then again, in the past, part of the fun of going on a road trip was making the playlists and burning the CDs for the road, especially if I had a passenger I wanted to impress. Until I got a new car a few years ago, I still kept my CD binder with CDs from those road trips past under the right front seat. Popping in a burned mix would immediately take me back to 2008 or 2009 when I drove up and down the 5, between home and college, several times a year. Burned playlists are time capsules in a way that algorithmic playlists just aren’t.
But those CDs still exist if I want ’em. And in the meantime, Spotify’s bag of tricks just keeps getting cooler. Who’s to say we can’t have both.
KANKAKEE, Ill. (AP) — All it took for one fugitive in Illinois to turn himself in was a little photo manipulation.
WBBM-TV in Chicago reports that the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Department posts notices about fugitives on its Facebook page each Wednesday.
This week, the department posted a picture of Brandon W. Conti. The 25-year-old was wanted for failure to appear on a drunken-driving charge.
Conti commented on the post and asked, “Where’s my costume?”
Sheriff’s office staff then edited the photo to add a sailor suit and a hat that read, “Ahoy.”
An officer wrote, “We held up our end of the bargain.”
Conti replied with laughing emojis, noting he would turn himself in “before noon” and asked that police “have the paperwork done and ready.” The department confirms Conti subsequently turned himself in.
The simplest step in lightning safety is to avoid thunderstorms in the first place. Storms can pop up suddenly during summer, so it’s a good idea to check <a href=”http://www.mnn.com/weather” target=”_hplink”>weather forecasts</a> often before going out (as well as while you’re out, via a smartphone, radio or other portable device). Be especially wary of hitting the water in boats or jet skis when bad weather is brewing, since a storm might explode before you can get back to land. If you don’t have access to weather reports, keep an eye on the horizon for any tall, dark storm clouds with an anvil or cauliflower shape.
CHENGDU, China, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Would you like your dog transformed into a panda?
It takes just 1,500 yuan ($212.28) at a pet café in southwest China that dyes pups in black and white streaks to resemble the animal that is considered a national treasure.
The cafe, which opened last month in the city of Chengdu in Sichuan province, has gone viral on social media after owner Lu Yunning dyed his six chow-chow puppies to look like pandas.
“There are many dog cafes, cat cafes, raccoon cafes, alpaca cafes and duck cafes,” said Lu, as the puppies, their limbs, ears and fur around the eyes dyed black, playfully chased a fish toy on a cord.
“We think they are not creative. We wanted something novel,“added the 21-year-old, who estimates his cafe draws 70 to 80 customers a day, nearly doubling since he posted social media pictures of his dyed dogs.
But until now customers have been more interested in taking pictures with Lu’s dogs than signing up for the dye service.
Lu said the imported dye he used did not harm the dogs, and was spread only on the upper part of their fur, rather than extending down to the base.
To round out the vacation experience, the Candy Planet PetCafe also offers washing and hotel services.
The attention drawn by the chow-chows has not all been positive, however, with animal rights group PETA urging people to keep away.
“Coating dogs with chemical dyes is stressful and can even cause allergic reactions on their skin, nose, and eyes,” Jason Baker, its Asia vice president, told Reuters.
“PETA urges travelers to stay away from any business that exploits animals for a money-grabbing gimmick,” he said in a statement.
Some online commentators have accused Lu of animal abuse.
“In a dog’s world, there is only you,” a user with the handle Biewenwochouliumang wrote on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.
“Please be kind to them.”
($1=7.0662 Chinese yuan)
REAL LIFE. REAL NEWS. REAL VOICES.
Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.
If you’re reading this, you may agree with me that wifi, in general, kind of sucks. Either that or the homes many of us live in suck. No matter where you choose to aim your ire, the point remains that reliable wireless internet isn’t always attainable in the places we’d like it to be, which is where Google Nest Wifi comes in.
A rebrand and refresh of the older Google Wifi mesh system, Nest Wifi is a Google-branded router with the option of expanding its signal range through smaller Nest wifi nodes. The router and nodes work in tandem to, ideally, create a powerful and seamless wifi network through a space that couldn’t accommodate that otherwise.
Oh, and every device involved is also a Google Assistant-powered smart speaker. That part is important.
I had the chance to test out Google’s newest mesh setup in my apartment, which is a long and narrow Brooklyn domicile that’s traditionally been absolute hell for wireless signals. With just a router and a single wifi node, I got impressive results, but the experience ultimately left me wanting more.
The price of logging on
The mesh wifi market has gotten pretty crowded in recent years, and Google’s new entrant is in the upper half in terms of price, depending on your needs. The router on its own is $169.99, but assuming you need at least one point (you probably do if you’re reading this), those are $149.99 separately.
The saving grace here is that Google sells router-plus-point bundles that are a little more reasonably priced. A router and one point is $269.99, while a router and two points is $349.99. That’s not nothing, but the router on its own can cover up to 2,200 square feet and each individual point can reach 1,600 square feet, so I imagine most people won’t need more than two points.
Still, there are cheaper options out there. It isn’t the greatest look for Google from a pure coverage standpoint that something like TP-Link’s Deco setup comes with more mesh points for $159.99. I can’t directly compare performance between Nest Wifi and its cheaper competitors, but their existence is worth noting, at least.
Simple setup and powerful performance
If you’re wary about Nest Wifi’s somewhat high price not being worth it, let me allay those fears a little bit. Internet signal has been a constant headache in my apartment for more than a year, and Nest Wifi more or less fixed it in about 10 minutes. From a pure performance perspective, it’s tough not to be impressed.
Setting up Nest Wifi is comically easy, with the caveat that you need to do it through Google’s ecosystem, of course. To start, I had to download the Google Home mobile app, log into my Google account, and unplug the router I normally use. After plugging in the Nest router, all I had to do was follow the instructions in the Home app, most of which involved waiting for the router and the wifi point to turn on and connect with each other.
I had to fiddle with the placement of the point a little bit due to the unaccommodating shape of my apartment, but the good news is, you can do that without any real fuss. It takes a good 30 to 45 seconds to boot back up after you plug it into a new wall outlet, but there’s no additional setup needed.
All told, after 10 minutes or so, the dead zones in my place were brimming with internet life. The extended signal wasn’t as powerful as the one in the same room as the router, but it was more than usable for modern needs like streaming and remote working. For the numbers-obsessed among you, the area that used to be a wifi graveyard consistently got between 25 and 50 Mbps of download speed.
Not amazing, but a heck of a lot better than before.
As is the case with any hardware Google makes these days, both the Nest router and point are Assistant-enabled. You can talk to them, and they’ll talk to you back. If you’re a smart speaker philistine like me, there’s a physical switch to turn the microphones off, too.
That said, being able to run speed tests and whatnot with voice commands is pretty handy. The Google Home app also gives you a solid amount of control over Nest Wifi. You can name and rename devices, sort them into groups, and even pause wifi from a point if you want the kids to go to bed or you’d like to mess with your roommates.
One benefit of Google’s approach here is that both the router and any points you get are much more presentable than the typical internet equipment. One of the great hypocrisies of our age is that most routers don’t look great on display, but their signal output is better when they’re high up and visible. Google found a decent workaround by making these devices look like things people tend to place prominently in their homes.
Again, while I’m more inclined to use the app than my voice, I came to appreciate the convenience of Nest Wifi’s smart features. Being able to run a mesh test while I’m away from home is pretty cool.
Wires are still valid, dang it
By now, I’ve made it clear that Nest Wifi is powerful and convenient in many ways. That said, my biggest hangup with it by far is a near-total lack of ethernet ports.
This is not going to matter to some consumers, but to someone like me who occasionally plays video games online (and likes to get as much speed as I can otherwise), this is inconvenient to say the least. The base router has two ports, but since one of them is permanently occupied by a connection to the modem, it really only has one that can be used for other things. The points don’t have any ethernet ports at all.
There are plenty of good reasons to use wired internet, even in 2019, so this is an unfortunate omission on Google’s part. It might make for a more elegant visual presentation, but function ultimately matters more than form when it comes to online connectivity. When you factor in that lots of other mesh systems include ethernet ports, even on extension points, it knocks several points off Nest Wifi’s value.
If Nest Wifi had an ethernet situation that was comparable to some of the other mesh systems out there, I’d recommend it wholeheartedly. In fact, I might still recommend it to anyone who can live without hard connections. It brought light to the digital darkness that was my apartment in just a few minutes, solving a year’s worth of headaches almost instantly.
The smart features are also nice, if not necessarily the reason to get Nest Wifi in and of themselves. If you’ve been banging your head against the wall to get workable internet throughout your home, Google Nest Wifi is almost certain to patch things up for you.
With an average salary of around $90k a year, app development is a lucrative way to make a living — and it’s in super high demand, too. Some companies are even paying people thousands for referrals; they need Android developers that badly. Basically, you’ll make a ton of money and be wanted by pretty much everyone. Is that not the dream?
Obviously, it’s not that simple — you need to actually know how to develop apps first. And while that may sound like a pricey undertaking, we’re here to tell you it’s totally doable (and affordable.) In fact, you can learn how to become an Android developer for just $29 with this five-course bundle.
Each online class breaks down a different, crucial app development skillset:
Understand Jetpack and build modern Android apps in Java Yeah, there’s a lot going on in that sentence. Let’s break it down a little. Jetpack is essentially a library of tools that are meant to help developers write apps with ease. This course will walk you through all the latest libraries Jetpack has to offer and teach you how to use them to build an example app.
Discover the Kotlin programming language (and figure out what to do with it) This course will show you how to create an app using another programming language known as Kotlin, which is essential for anyone looking to develop Android Apps.
Build your own Twitter using Kotlin and Firebase Now that you know Kotlin, you’ll move on to actually building your own social media app using it. Using Twitter as your inspiration, you’ll develop similar features, such as tweets, hashtags, tweet likes, retweets, follow hashtags and users, newsfeed, and more. You’ll do all of this inside Firebase, Google’s mobile app-development platform, in order to familiarize yourself with the process.
Bring your Jetpack and Kotlin skills together for the greater good Building on the extensive Jetpack you now undoubtedly have, you’ll combine this library of tools with your Kotlin coding skills and develop an app using your two favorite programming pals.
Create a Tinder clone Learn how to build your own dating app for Android in Kotlin complete with user accounts, registration, profiles, swipes, matches, conversations, and more. Just think: You could help people find true love, and that’s not something you can put a price tag on.
So, yeah. A lot to learn, but even more (money) to be gained, and all for just $29 (which is 97% off its usual price of $1,000 for the whole bundle).