How to play free YouTube music in the background on Android and iPhones

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

There’s a lot of music — and storytelling and news — on YouTube, and so it stands to reason that you’d want to be able to play it in the background on your mobile device while reading, texting, or doing other things. Unfortunately, unless you’re a subscriber to YouTube Premium ($11.99 a month) or YouTube Music ($9.99 a month), your ability to listen to a YouTube video in the background is limited — doable, but limited.

Android users have it slightly better in this respect. Recent versions of the Android YouTube app allow you to use Picture-in-Picture (PiP) to view (or listen to) almost any YouTube video while you’re reading your tweets or checking out the latest news — that is, any video except one that’s labeled as being music.


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The Eagle Nebula’s astonishing Pillars of Creation, now in infrared

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The majestic image below of the Eagle Nebula’s “Pillars of Creation,” captured by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995, has become an iconic astronomical photograph. It depicts the visible light, meaning the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that the human eye can see. In this new take above, NASA scientists present the same view of the pillars but in infrared light “which pierces through obscuring dust and gas.” From NASA:

In this ethereal view the entire frame is peppered with bright stars and baby stars are revealed being formed within the pillars themselves. The ghostly outlines of the pillars seem much more delicate, and are silhouetted against an eerie blue haze.

Image credit: NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team

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Website all about eating utensils

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Eating Utensils reminds me of a site from the early Web, a minimally-designed collection of fascinating information about something we use every day but mostly ignore. The site has pages about the history of cutlery, chopsticks, skewers, toothpicks, and drinking straws, etiquette, and fun facts and statistics. For example:

If we look back in history we can find out that some of the earliest drinking straws were created over 5000 years ago! In the ruins of the Sumerian cities and tombs, archeologist managed to find straws made from gold and the precious stone lapis lazuli. These expensive 3000 BC artifacts can give us the proof that the more simple designs were used far earlier than that, most probably created from carved wood or natural hollow plants. According to scientist, Sumerian used straws to drink their beer which was prepared in very simple fermentation cases that forced the solid byproducts to sink to the bottom, and leave drinkable fluid on top. On the other side of the world, in Argentina, natives used drinking straws for several thousand years. Their simple wooden designs were later on adapted in metallic device called “bombilla” which serves as both straw and sieve for drinking tea.

Eating Utensils (via Metafilter)

image: Hopefulromntic (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Alexa Skill With .NET Core

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Alexa Skills can be developed using Alexa Lambda functions or a REST API endpoint. Lambda functions are Amazon’s implementation of serverless functions available in AWS. Amazon recommends using Lambda functions even though they are not easy to debug. While you can log to a CloudWatch log, you can’t hit a breakpoint and step into the code.

Alexa Skill With .NET Core

This makes live debugging of Alexa requests a challenge. This post explains a simple but useful solution: it is to wrap code in a .NET Standard class library and stand up a REST API project for debugging and development and a Lambda function project for AWS deployment. This article shows how to create an environment to debug a locally-hosted Web API that uses the same logic that is used by a Lambda function. Everything’s written in C#.

Python is the simplicity developers love. This training will help you harness its power.

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“The whole point of a programming language is to get the most out of the computer and the developer…This is why I like Python so much…few Python developers write code that is difficult to pass on to another developer.”

With so much in tech so inherently complicated, that comment from Thomas Hatch, CTO and co-founder of SaltStack to TechRadar, really boils down Python’s universal appeal to its purest root.

Coders like Python because it’s stripped-down, adapts to everything and doesn’t require all manner of interpretation, no matter when you jump into a project. You can add Python to your skillset or just sharpen your skills with the instruction in the Coding with Python: The Ultimate Training for Aspiring Developers Bundle. 

This six-course bundle starts with a full Python overview with the Complete Python Course: Learn Python by Doing. From first-timer basics to expert-level advanced coding tips, this training involves hands-on instruction that aimed at getting students employed as a Python programmer.

From best practices and object-oriented programming to GUI development, unit testing and more, this foundational training paves the way for all things Python, those newfound talents are tested by the Complete Python Web Course: Build 8 Python Web Apps, where students really get their hands dirty, assembling projects like a blog using user registration to publish posts as well as creating an online price tracker for your favorite digital storefront.

The training also covers app building as the REST APIs with Flask and Python and Advanced REST APIs with Flask and Python courses explore how to create resource-based, production-ready REST APIs using Python, Flask, and other popular Flask extensions. Read the rest

Kill part of an hour with this climb-around-a-table challenge

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If you’ve had your fill of board games, puzzles, crafting, and Master classes and have extra minutes to kill before another stay-at-home day is over, here’s a challenge: climb around a table – not around its edges, but under and back over from one side to the other. Yes, some of us are bored enough to try it, while others are even boreder enough just to sit and watch someone else do it on YouTube. Read the rest

Riot’s Valorant isn’t even out yet, but it’s already looking like an esports sensation

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Image: Riot Games

Riot’s new video game, Valorant, is both a breath of fresh air and completely unoriginal at the same time. The first-person shooter opened its closed beta on Tuesday to gargantuan Twitch viewership, thanks in part to Riot’s deal with the platform that let popular streamers gift access keys to its beta while they played the game live.

After watching many hours of the game and playing quite a few myself, it’s clear that Valorant is a hyper-competitive game catering to perhaps a small slice of the overall gaming community. (Right now, it’s only on PC, with no plans for a console release.) But that doesn’t matter, because it already seems quite likely to be the next big esports sensation, despite its hardcore nature and the fact that it…

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How Thao & The Get Down Stay Down made a music video on Zoom

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Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Oakland-based band Thao & The Get Down Stay Down had a problem. Their plan to shoot a music video for their single “Phenom” was abruptly canceled as shelter-in-place orders rolled in. The band, crew, and dancers could no longer meet up in person, and they were faced with a decision: put everything on hold or figure out a way to make the music video remotely. “At first we didn’t know if we would even release the song because it’s about people unifying,” Thao tells The Verge. “So it was never an option for me to shoot the video solo.” But then her manager had an idea. What if they shot the music video entirely within Zoom?

That’s exactly what they did, and the resulting one-take music video was filmed…

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How to use an external display with your Mac

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Every computer I’ve called my own for work or personal use has been a laptop. I love the portability of a laptop. It’s great to do work while lounging in my favorite chair or at a coffee shop (when we could still do that). But it’s really hard for me to put in a full workday hunched over one. To fix that, I’ve found that plugging my laptop to an external monitor on my desk is essential for me to be productive. Now I can’t imagine working without one.

If you’re considering adding an external monitor to your macOS setup to help fix that laptop hunch or just to add some extra screen real estate, read on. I’ll walk you through how to set up the external monitor with your Mac and adjust your display settings so that you can make the monitor…

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Netflix to launch weekly Instagram Live series about coping during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Netflix is launching a new series on Instagram that will focus on taking care of yourself and your mental health during the COVID-19 global pandemic. The series, which will begin airing on Instagram Live tomorrow at 7 PM PT, features the stars of some of Netflix’s top Young Adult shows and movies, including “To All […]

The Mountie Plus turns your tablet into a sneaky second laptop screen

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In baseball, utility players often stay employed almost exclusively because of their versatility, their ability to slide effortlessly into a variety of needed roles and remain productive. Your current tech setup doesn’t need to work any differently — except that tech items are usually created to fulfill just one purpose.

But if you want a second screen experience for your laptop, does that really mean you have to go buy a customized second monitor to achieve that goal? If you’ve got a tablet already, wouldn’t it just be easier if that could magically become your second laptop screen?

The answer is obviously yes — and that’s the principle behind the Mountie Plus, an extremely handy accessory that can help your tablet serve double duty as a seamless second screen anywhere you are.

The Mountie is a plastic and rubber attachment that easily clips your iPad or another tablet model between 5 and 9mm thick right next to your laptop screen for quick and easy access. You can leave it as a separate second screen or integrate it as a full secondary display with the use of screen mirroring software.

The Mountie is crafted to grip its hardest along the edge of the device and not on the device screen itself, avoiding any worries about breakage or distortion in your screen image.

To make sure your tablet stays charged, the Mountie Plus has created an all-new charge cord pass-through, which lets you feed the charging cord back behind the laptop monitor and out of your way, so your second screen remains fully powered without any distracting wires or cables. Read the rest

Clips of scrambled cable TV erotica from the 1990s

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[NSFW] The Spice Channel was a softcore pornography cable TV offering in the 1990s. If you didn’t pay for a subscription, you could still see scrambled video, which elevated the original video into psychedelic deep dream abstract art experiments. Here are a few clips.

From the YouTube description:

Signal bleed, or scrambling was a filter used by TV providers to partially block premium channels. This loophole was used as a form of advertisement. In 2000, United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group “required that cable television operators completely scramble or block channels that are “primarily dedicated to sexually-oriented programming” from 10 pm to 6 am.”

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Radiohead to stream concerts for shut-ins

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I’m a lifelong fan of Radiohead, and I feel like so much of their music foresaw the emotional tone of the moment we’re in now.

“IN LIEU OF EMPTINESS, some entertainments to assist with the passage of time,” an email to their fan mailing list began:

Now that you have no choice whether or not you fancy a quiet night in, may we draw your attention to these entertainments?

We hereby present the first of several LIVE SHOWS from the Radiohead Public Library, now coming to Radiohead’s YouTube channel.

Starting tomorrow (Thursday) at 10pm UK/2pm PT/5pm ET with Live From a Tent In Dublin – October 2000, we will be releasing one a week until either the restrictions resulting from current situation are eased, or we run out of shows. Which will be first? No-one knows.

Next, Ed’s new EOB track Cloak of the Night will be available to stream tomorrow. Featuring vocals from Laura Marling, it is taken from his debut album Earth, released on April 17th. Pre-order the album now here.

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A fun activity to do at home: “Narrate A Piece of Quotidian Footage”

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In Rob Walker’s fantastic newsletter, The Art of Noticing, he recommends an activity called “Narrate A Piece of Quotidian Footage” which is from his book:

Basically, find or make a short, random, totally banal video of people or objects moving around; study

it closely; and invent a potential voiceover that makes it seem as if you are directing the action. This (weird? but fun!) idea was inspired by a John Smith’s wonderful short art film: The Girl With The Chewing Gum. I’m not going to try to explain it, check it out:

Of course, Rob did this in 2012:

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