TIME Alcohol

Researchers Discover that Drunk Birds ‘Slur’ Just Like People

Great Tit, Parus major, young
Getty Images

Scientists hope their work will aid understanding of how alcohol affects humans

Drunk birds and drunk people have a lot in common. That’s the finding of a new study by Oregon Health and Science University researchers, who fed juice spiked with alcohol to zebra finches in order to understand how booze affects their birdsongs.

Unsurprisingly, the finches’ songs were a bit less eloquent after they reached a blood alcohol level of .08 percent ( close to the legal driving limit for humans in most states). Researchers found that the birds began to slur the syllables of their songs, making their voices quieter and less organized. Some parts of songs were more affected by the alcohol than others, indicating that booze may affect separate parts of birds’ brains differently. The findings could help researchers better understand how the human body processes alcohol because the way birds learn to sing and humans learn to speak is similar.


[The Washington Post]

TIME Crime

Bill de Blasio to Meet With NYPD Union Leaders

Blasio speaks from the podium to the New York City Police Academy Graduating class in New York
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks from the podium to the New York City Police Academy Graduating class in New Yorkon Dec. 29, 2014. Carlo Allegri—Reuters

Some hold the mayor responsible for the deaths of officers

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio will meet with New York Police Department union leaders Tuesday in order to improve relations between City Hall and police officers following the killing of two officers earlier this month.

Union leaders have said that de Blasio sided with protesters instead of officers during the weeks of rallies that have occurred in the city since the officer that killed Eric Garner was not indicted by a grand jury in early December. Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said de Blasio had “blood on his hands” for fostering a climate that made it dangerous for police to do their jobs.

On multiple occasions since the cop killings, officers have shown defiance toward the mayor. They turned their backs on him as he walked through the hospital where the two officers were pronounced dead, and they did again during the funeral for officer Rafael Ramos Saturday.


[CBS New York]

TIME Greece

Two Albanian Seamen Killed in Effort to Salvage Ferry

TOPSHOTS-ITALY-GREECE-FERRY-RESCUE
A rescue operation of the burned ferry "Norman Atlantic" adrift in the Adriatic Sea off Albania on Dec. 29, 2014. AFP/Getty Images

Ten passengers of Norman Atlantic confirmed dead

Two more people have died in the aftermath of a ferry fire that occurred in the Adriatic Sea near Greece. A pair of Albanian seamen who were attempting to salvage the multideck car ferry were killed when the cable connecting their boat to the ferry snapped and struck them Tuesday. One man died instantly while the other died while being assisited by a helicopter medical team, a port authority official told Reuters.

Ten other deaths have previously been reported due to the fire. The Italian navy has said that the ferry has been fully evacuated. However, the navy has only confirmed that 427 people have been rescued, which is well below the 478 people were estimated to be on board the ferry.

[Reuters]

TIME Music

8 Spotify Tricks That Will Change the Way You Listen to Music

Spotify
Spotify app Jonathan Nackstrand—AFP/Getty Images

There's a secret visualizer and a way to download songs that aren't on the service

Music fans are plenty familiar with Spotify, the online streaming service that lets users listen to millions of songs on-demand for free or with a no-advertisement subscription.

However, with Spotify’s myriad settings and apps that extend its functionality, you might not be using it to its full potential. Here, TIME rounds up 8 tips that will help users see Spotify in a whole new light:

Hide Your Guilty Pleasures From Friends

The ability to follow friends’ musical habits is one of Spotify’s best features. But maybe you don’t want everyone to know exactly how many times you listened to “All About That Bass” this summer.

On the desktop version, you can select “Private Session” from the main Spotify menu to stop broadcasting your musical selections for a certain period (the same setting is found on the “social” menu within settings on the mobile version). To permanently stop sharing your listening choices, go to the “Spotify” menu, then “Preferences,” and uncheck the boxes for “Share my activity and what I listen to with my followers on Spotify” and “Share my activity and what I listen to on Facebook.”

Improve Your Search Queries

Navigating Spotify’s massive catalogue can be a chore. Next time, try using qualifiers to narrow your search. They work much in the same way as Google search queries. You can specify searches based on artist, title, genre or year. So if you’re looking for just Jay-Z’s output in 1997, “Jay-Z year:1997” to pull up the desired results. Here’s a full list of the search qualifiers you can use on Spotify.

READ MORE Spotify Now Makes Playlists Based On What Your Friends Listen To

Use Folders to Organize Your Music

One criticism of Spotify is that people’s music collections often devolve into a jumble of playlists and favorites songs. Consider using folders to provide more order for your playlists. On the desktop app, go to “File” and then “New Playlist Folder” to create a new folder. Then you can place any playlists you like within the new folder.

Toggle High-Quality Streaming On or Off

Spotify Premium users have the option to enable “high-quality streaming” from the Preferences menu on the desktop, which plays songs at a bitrate of 320 kbps rather than the standard rate of 160 kbps — making everything sound better.

On mobile, songs automatically play at a lower bitrate of 96 kbps to conserve data. All users can bump that figure up to 160 kbps, and premium users can also use the 320 kbps setting. Just be careful, since a higher bitrate will eat into your mobile data plan faster.

Add Songs That Aren’t on Spotify And Listen to Them Offline

Spotify’s catalogue is hardly comprehensive, but users can easily add songs from outside sources to their libraries and listen to them within the Spotify interface. Simply go to Preferences and enable showing tracks from local sources. Those sources can include iTunes, the Downloads folder on your computer, or specific folders that you select.

Even better, if you have a playlist filled with non-Spotify songs and toggle on the “Available Offline” option at the top of the playlist, you can download the songs to your phone for offline listening.

See the Lyrics to Every Song

Trying to prep for your next karaoke session? Turn on the musiXmatch app (you can find it in the “App Finder” tab on the left-hand sidebar) and you can see the lyrics of most songs as they’re playing within Spotify. There are lots of other handy apps in the “App Finer” menu, including recommendation apps that offer features like curated music lists from Pitchfork and Rolling Stone.

READ MORE 6 Biggest Tech Debuts to Watch in 2015

Add a Visualizer

If you miss the cheesy visualizers from your days using Windows Media Player or Winamp, Spotify has you covered. In the search bar, just type in “spotify:app:visualizer” to bring up a range of different visual options that will play in time with your tunes.

Link to a Specific Part of a Song

Want to send a friend “Free Bird,” but skip the pretenses and get right to the guitar solo? Spotify makes that pretty simple. If you’re sharing the URL of a song (a special kind of Spotify-specific link that only works within the Spotify app), add a “#” sound to the end of the character string and then the timestamp you want to zoom to. To get to the “Free Bird” solo at 4 minutes and 25 seconds into the song, for example, you’d write this: spotify:track:1xt1TX045OgURfw0MAcVNF#4:25.

TIME Autos

Google Wants To Make Android-Powered Cars

Google Car
A Google Inc. map is displayed on a screen in a Tesla Motors Inc. Model S sedan electric vehicle (EV) parked in the area of Cyberport in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, July 5, 2013. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

More tech giants are eyeing the "connected car"

Not content to control your life on your PC and your mobile phone, Google is now going after your car.

The search giant is planning to build the next version of its Android operating system, dubbed Android M, directly into automobiles, according to Reuters. That would allow drivers to access the Internet and use Android apps without the synching their car with a smartphone.

Google already has a foothold in automobiles through Android Auto, its operating system tailored for cars, and the Open Automotive Alliance, a partnership through which several large automakers like Hyundai and General Motors have pledged to bring Android functionality to their vehicles. But the company is now eyeing making Android central to the driving experience rather than a supplement, according to the Reuters report. Such tight integration could give Google more vital user data, which it uses to power its business.

But Google is hardly alone in trying to bring tech to automobiles. Apple is rolling out an iOS-powered car operating system called CarPlay, while some automakers are also building their own proprietary Internet-enabled interfaces.

[Reuters]

TIME Media

You Can Visit The Colbert Report’s Set on Google Maps

Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert hosts Comedy Central's "Indecision 2008: America's Choice" at Comedy Central Studios on November 4, 2008 in New York City. Brad Barket—Getty Images

Check out the set on Street View

Even though The Colbert Report is ending its run Thursday, the show’s set will live on through Google Maps.

The entire iconic stage is rendered in 3D through Google’s service (though sadly, Colbert himself isn’t present). You can get a close-up look at some of the show’s famous gags, like the portrait of Stephen Colbert standing in front of a portrait of Stephen Colbert standing in front of a portrait of Stephen Colbert.

There are also plenty of goodies on Colbert’s bookshelf that you may have never noticed before, like a Captain America shield, a Rock’em Sock’em Robots game and a solemn photograph of Hugh Laurie.

Check out the set in all its glory here.

TIME Media

Netflix Just Announced a Huge New Partnership

Netflix Dish
The Netflix Inc. application is displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone arranged for a photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

It's Netflix's first big partnership with a major TV provider in the U.S.

Netflix has found an unlikely partner to help it recruit more new subscribers—Dish Network.

The satellite operator announced Wednesday that it will be integrating Netflix directly into its Hopper set-top box. That means Dish subscribers will be able to seamlessly switch to Netflix content using the same device, remote control and video input that they use when they watch regular television.

The Dish deal, however, doesn’t mean Netflix will be free for Dish subscribers. It only makes it easier for people who use both Netflix and Dish to watch Netflix content.

“Pairing Netflix with Hopper represents the consolidation of two incredible video experiences,” Vivek Khemka, Dish senior vice president of product management, said in a press release. “It gives our customers easy access to their favorite shows and movies, on both Dish and Netflix, without ever having to leave their Hopper.”

Netflix has aggressively been pursuing partnerships with pay-TV providers in order to place its streaming service in front of more potential new customers. While the company has had some success cutting deals in Europe and with small cable operators in the U.S., the major American TV providers have been wary of giving Netflix easier access to its subscribers — until now.

It makes sense that Dish would be the first big pay-TV operator to hop in bed with Netflix. The satellite company has plans for an “over-the-top” TV service delivered via the Internet that will aim to attract exactly the kind of TV viewers who enjoy Netflix. In the future, Dish says, it may add tighter integration of Netflix content by making the streaming service’s shows and movies searchable via the Hopper interface.

TIME apps

Google Drive Just Got a Whole Lot Better

Google Drive
Google Drive Google

You can now send Drive files as Gmail attachments

Google is rolling out a series of updates for its cloud-based storage service Google Drive.

Gmail users will now be able to share Drive documents as attachments that are sent as part of email files. That’s useful in case the person receiving the document doesn’t have permission to view the file in Google Drive or if you delete the file from Drive at a later time.

On Android, Drive users will also be able to search for files using voice commands within the Google search app. A user could say, “OK, Google — search for holiday letter on Drive,” for instance, to automatically pull up the relevant documents without opening Drive. On iOS, users will also be able to start uploading files to drive from non-Google apps.

Both iOS and Android versions of Drive are getting an update to allow users to access and share custom maps developed with Google My Maps.

The Google Drive Android updates will launch during the next week, while the iOS tweaks are already available.

TIME espionage

Edward Snowden, Lupe Fiasco and More Wish Chelsea Manning a Happy Birthday

Bradley Manning, Chelsea Manning
This undated photo provided by the U.S. Army shows Chelsea Manning wearing a wig and lipstick. U.S. Army/AP

Michael Stipe called her a "patriot"

Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. Army soldier who turned over hundreds of thousands of classified government documents to WikiLeaks and serving a 35-year prison sentence, turns 27 on Wednesday. To celebrate, a diverse assortment of admirers, from Edward Snowden to rapper Lupe Fiasco, have sent her best wishes that have been published by the Guardian.

“I thank you now and forever for your extraordinary act of service and I am sorry that it has come with such an unbelievable personal cost,” Snowden wrote. “You have inspired an angry public to demand a government that is accountable for its perpetration of torture and other war crimes, for the true costs of its wars, and for conspiring in corruption around the world.”

Michael Stipe, the former frontman for the band R.E.M., sent her a card with a rose on it and a handwritten note inside and called her a “patriot.” Fiasco celebrated with an homage to the cover of Kanye West’s album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, using Manning’s face in the center of the cover art instead of West’s. “She encapsulates the antiheroes in society – sitting up in the heights of mythology, simultaneously demonised and forgiven,” Fiasco wrote.

The letters and cards were sent to Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas, where Manning is currently being held. Her first chance for parole comes in 2021.

[The Guardian]

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