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Play us a tune?

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Microsoft-backed startup Skoove has set its sights on helping aspiring piano players learn their craft by offering them online access to the "best elements" of having a real-life tutor.


According to Skoove, that means receiving real-time feedback about how well players are doing at any time of day via the web.


What the press release announcing the service's launch neglects to mention is if this, on the flipside, also means users get to avoid one of the worst parts of dealing with a piano teacher.


And that's perfecting your poker face so they can't tell you're lying when you claim to have spent all of your waking hours since your last lesson doing scales and arpeggios and practicing the intro to Three Blind Mice.


To make use of the service, which is aimed at those aged 12 and upwards, players will need to purchase a USB-connected piano, create an online profile and - provided they're motivated enough - should be tickling the ivories like a modern-day Rubenstein in no time.


We shall see...

How clean is your smartphone?

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For reasons unknown, furniture retailer Bright House has commissioned some boffins to investigate the cleanliness of a range of living room items, including laptops, smartphones and tablets.

Their highly-scientific "findings" suggest some smartphones house nearly 70 times more germs than your average toilet, while iPhones tend to be around 50% filthier than their Android counterparts. 

Unfortunately, the researchers have neglected to question the Apple fanboy brigade about what it is they do with their devices that cause them to be so dirty. Or perhaps they just really didn't want to know the answer.  

Tablets were also singled out for harbouring dangerous levels of "potentially harmful bacteria" on the basis that these devices are often used by children. 

Tablets are also widely used within the business community, but only one of these user groups has a reputation for being a bunch of germ-riddled, virus spreaders. We'll leave you to determine which. 

Is autocorrect the bane of working from home?

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Everyone is caught up in the BYOD revolution, and the flexibility it brings mean more people are emailing from anywhere using whatever gadget they have on them.

Unfortunately it seems that technology is as much an enabler for stupidity as it is for mobility, as research by survey site found 70% of Brits have sent messages to the wrong person.

People are working on their phones more often than they used to, and this seems to have led to an increase in autocorrect changing the meaning of your sentences for its own sick pleasure.  

One in three people have had messages jumbled by autocorrect to mean something totally different than intended, and one in 10 people have been fired for sending emails or text messages to the wrong recipient.

So please people, just because technology enables us to do things quickly and more effectively does not mean you can stop checking to make sure you're emailing the right person - we're sure your significant other doesn't want to read about your boardroom proposals. 

Drones - another reason not to trust estate agents?

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The use of drones in business is looking to become a regular occurrence in the near future, and this month Amazon proposed plans to test its prototype same-day delivery drones in the UK.

But use of the unmanned aircrafts backfired on an Australian business earlier this week when using the robots to take pictures of a neighbourhood for a billboard advertisement.

Unfortunately it wasn't until the billboard was posted that the company realised the pictures contained images of a resident sunbathing topless in her garden.

Well known utilizer of overhead imagery, Google, also has plans to develop drones with the initial focus of Project Wing being medical support and disaster relief.

At least Google has the decency to blur people's faces to protect their privacy. 

Smart phones, stupid users

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As mobile use becomes more popular, so do mobile related injuries. Although the intelligence of phones is increasing, the intelligence of users is a different story.

We've all been there - walking down the street checking important emails and looking up just in time to avoid walking in to the person headed towards us.

Except not everyone does the looking up part, as according to survey by device warranty provider SquareTrade, 86% of Brits have fallen, stumbled or walked into a lamppost as a result of mobile phone use. Around 20% have been injured by someone else using their phone, and one participant even admitted to walking into a shop window while using a phone.

Doctors are predicting an increase in these kinds of injuries in the future as both the older and younger generations start using distracting gadgets as well.

Apparently smart phones do not necessarily have smart users. 

Eat, sleep, breathe, order grub, repeat

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Not content with the spiralling levels of apathy and agoraphobia Amazon has propagated among a mass of torpid, troglodyte consumers in recent years, the company has released a grocery-purchasing app that lets you add items without having to prod the screen or type - because using opposable thumbs to make a grocery list is, like, so 2013.

Instead, Amazon Dash allows you to make a shopping list by shouting the required groceries into a phone like a gluttonous hermit suffering from Tourette's syndrome.


Alternatively, if that level of slothfulness makes you feel physically sick - or you just don't want your neighbours to hear you shouting "oranges" repeatedly at an ever-increasing volume when the app crashes seven times (which said neighbours construe as a weird, potentially fatal, fruit-based sex game) - you can also add items by walking around the kitchen and scanning them with a phone. Haven't you always wanted to simulate the brain-achingly sisyphean job of a supermarket cashier in your own home, only without getting paid? Well, here's your chance.

Just make sure you add a heavy coconut to the list. When you're too overweight to fit through the door, and scanning food has lost its edge, you'll need something solid to crack your skull in half and put an end to your miserable Howard Hughes-like existence.

Happy shopping!
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Robot sibling rivalry

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An ARM-Powered robot will soon attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the fastest time solving a Rubik's cube.

The robot, which is named The CUBESTORMER 3, uses an ARM-powered Samsung Galaxy S4 in order to analyse the Rubik's cube and instruct on how next to turn the cube.

Unfortunately, the record is likely to spark a family feud as the previous record of 5.27 seconds is held by the robot's predecessor the CubeStormer II.

"We are very confident the robot will break the record," said Dominic Vergine, head of corporate responsibility at ARM, "The new robot can think three times faster than its older brother."

The record attempt will take place at the Big Bang Fair at the NEC in Birmingham on Saturday March 15.

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Transformers director Michael Bay blooper at CES

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Samsung invited Transformers film director, Michael Bay, onto the stage to help plug their new curved UHD TV set at CES in Las Vegas. 

That's one invite Bay probably wished he had turned down.

The poor guy started to talk to the Samsung host, but lost his thread mid-sentence, stating that the Teleprompter had failed to deliver his lines. 

He decided to "wing it" but soon after had to exit the stage saying, ""Excuse me. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

It makes excruciating viewing. Get ready to squirm your seat watching this video CNET posted on YouTube:

The embarrassed Bay then took to his blog saying:

"Wow! I just embarrassed myself at CES - I was about to speak for Samsung for this awesome Curved 105-inch UHD TV. I rarely lend my name to any products, but this one is just stellar. I got so excited to talk, that I skipped over the Exec VP's intro line and then the teleprompter got lost. Then the prompter went up and down - then I walked off. I guess live shows aren't my thing."

At least one good thing may come out of this, perhaps manufacturers will stop asking celebrities with absolutely no inside knowledge on technology to sing and dance around products on stage like performing monkeys at trade shows. 

BlackBerry and Alicia Keyes only last week decided to part ways, stating she will end her role as Creative Director in January. But something tells us that had nothing to do with hiring actual tech experts in the future and more to do with BlackBerry's dwindling bank balance. 
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Turkey or technology? - The Christmas dilemma

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Picture the scene: you're sitting at the dining table on Christmas Day and you're faced with a tough decision. Turkey, or technology?

According to a survey by What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision, 49% of UK adults would ditch the Christmas poultry in favour of TV, mobiles and surfing the net.

Not everyone is lacking in Christmas spirit though, as 27% of those surveyed couldn't live without a juicy turkey and 23% admitted that they couldn't have a Christmas without presents.

Andy Clough, brand editor at What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision, said: "The fact that many would be willing to trade the traditional turkey and even presents for tech once again indicates that we are a nation of technology addicts."

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Scottish red kites start writing a blog

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Scotland has tagged red kites with satellite tracking information which sends their positionings to a computer six times a day. Combined with information on weather, habitat and landscape, it builds up a story of the birds lives in the form of a blog.

The Blogging Birds project is part of a collaboration between computer and environmental scientists at the University of Aberdeen and conservationists at the RSPB, but the blog itself has no input from human fingers.

A programme called Natural Language Generation" generates written language from the satellite information, which is written up in a blog post format.

Just as well really, we think the birds will be more concern about their fight against extinction than updating their Tumblr and Blogger account six times a day.

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