OpenAI introduces Jukebox, a new AI model that generates genre-specific music with lyrics

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Photo: OpenAI

Artificial intelligence research laboratory OpenAI today debuted a new generative model that’s able to make music called Jukebox. It’s technologically impressive, even if the results sound like mushy versions of songs that might feel familiar. According to the post on OpenAI’s blog, the researchers chose to work on music because it’s hard. And even if they’re not exactly what I’d call music, the results the researchers got were impressive; there are recognizable chords and melodies and words (sometimes).

The way OpenAI did it was also fascinating. They used raw audio to train the model — which spits out raw audio in return — instead of using “symbolic music,” like player pianos use, because symbolic music doesn’t include voices. To get…

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The rise in home videoconferencing lets us browse more people’s bookshelves

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When I was young, the first thing I’d do when visiting someone’s apartment for the first time was to browse their bookshelf and record (or tape or CD) collection. That was a great way to find connection with others and spark conversation. These days, most people’s musical tastes aren’t reflected in any tangible way. Same mostly holds true for books but I do think many avid readers still like having some printed matter around. These days, lots of celebrities are streaming appearances from their homes where a full bookshelf makes a nice backdrop. So what are we seeing in their home libraries? In the New York Times, Gal Beckerman looks at the books in the background at the homes of Cate Blanchett, Stacey Abrams, Prince Charles, Anna Wintour, Jane Goodall, and others. From the New York Times:

Jane Goodall
On “PBS NewsHour,” April 22

1. “The Hidden Target,” by Helen MacInnes: This 1980 spy novel tells the story of an American college student on a world tour who becomes entangled with secret agents looking to stop a terrorist plot.

2. “The End of Food,” by Thomas F. Pawlick: Danger abounds at the grocery store in this 2006 expose of our current method of food production. Pawlick reveals that the vitamin, mineral and nutritional content of food is in shocking decline.

[…]
Paul Rudd
On “Saturday Night Live,” April 25

1. “Code of Conduct,” by Brad Thor: The 15th installment in Thor’s thriller series has counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath uncovering the inner workings of a secretive committee of elites running the world.

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Party royale could fulfill Fortnite’s promise as a true social space

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For a little while it seemed as if Fortnite had lost some of its luster. Following the impressive black hole event that kicked off a new chapter for the game last September, the pace of change slowed significantly, while many of Fortnite’s top players expressed frustration with the lagging competitive scene. Meanwhile, other games — most notably Riot’s new team shooter Valorant and Call of Duty’s battle royale competitor Warzone — filled the void and began dominating platforms like Twitch.

But Fortnite never stays quiet for long. Over the past few weeks, Epic has released a number of updates focusing on what makes Fortnite so great — and most of it has little to do with being a battle royale shooter.

First there was the Travis Scott…

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Stream the first episodes of three Quibi original shows for free on YouTube

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Quibi has posted the first full episodes of three of its original series — Most Dangerous Game, The Stranger, and Dummy — to watch for free on YouTube for anyone looking to try out the new mobile-focused streaming service before signing up, via CNET.

The timing isn’t a coincidence: today is also the last day that interested customers can sign up for Quibi and receive the full 90-day trial. Starting on May 1st, any new sign-ups will get two weeks free. So if these previews interest you, you’ll want to sign up today.

It’s worth pointing out that posting the full first episode of a Quibi show is a less dramatic proposition than posting a traditional TV show to YouTube. After all,…

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Microsoft’s Visual Studio Online code editor is now Visual Studio Codespaces and gets a price drop

See the original posting on TechCrunch

About a year ago, Microsoft launched Visual Studio Online, its online code editor based on the popular Visual Studio Code project. It’s basically a full code editor and hosted environment that lives in your browser. Today, the company announced that it is changing the name of this service to Visual Studio Codespaces. It’s also dropping […]

Stuck on VHS is a visual history of video store stickers

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Stuck on VHS is a book that has over 1000 photos of stickers that video rental stores of the 1980s and 1990s would stick onto the cassettes. These stickers would be used to let people know about a video’s genre and rating, and also to remind them that they could be fined if they neglected to rewind the tape before returning it. I don’t have a copy, but it looks like a true delight for anyone interested in design.

For a taste of what’s inside, check out their Instagram account.

 

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You know it must be one HELL of a video! STUCK ON VHS is sold out online, but copies are available at all @drafthouse theater locations and VHStival Tour stops! We’re hoping for a repress sometime later this year, and will keep everyone updated! Thanks to everyone who picked up a copy! Let us know what you think when they arrive, dudes! Can’t wait to share it with you! #vhs #vhstapes #videostore #videostores #videorental #vhscollector #vhscollecting #vhsstickers #vhsculture #vhsforever #vhsishappiness #stuckonvhs #devil

A post shared by STUCK ON VHS (@stuckonvhs) on Jan 22, 2020 at 6:57am PST

 

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And a doggone good deal, too!! Gotta love those animal mascots with human teeth! #vhs #vhstapes #videostore #videostores #videorental #vhscollector #vhscollecting #vhsstickers #previouslyviewed #fullyguaranteed #vhsculture #vhsforever #vhsishappiness #stuckonvhs

A post shared by STUCK ON VHS (@stuckonvhs) on Oct 1, 2019 at 8:16am PDT

 

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It’s not a bad question, Burt!

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Microsoft Teams headphones now have a button to launch and control the chat app

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Microsoft has a range of Microsoft Teams-certified headphones from its partners, and now, some are getting the ability to integrate more deeply into the chat app. A new button feature will allow headset owners to bring Teams to the front on a Windows PC, join a meeting, or check missed calls and voicemail. Some existing headsets are getting firmware upgrades for the button support, and there are also new devices that are launching with dedicated buttons.

It’s up to headset manufacturers to choose how the button interacts with Teams, and whether existing devices will get firmware updates to enable this functionality. Epos and Poly are both supplying firmware upgrades to enable the button support and integrate more deeply with Microsoft…

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You can save almost $400 on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 Plus with 256GB of internal storage is $740 for readers of The Verge. We’ve teamed up with Daily Steals to bring you this discount, which is nearly $400 off the current sale price through Samsung directly. Just enter the offer code VERGESGLXY within the order summary section at the checkout page to see the price drop. You can choose between three colors at their site: aura glow, aura black, or aura white.

Each phone is in new (open-box) condition with a one-year warranty and includes all of its usual accessories. Daily Steals notes that these phones are currently covered by a Samsung warranty, but the length of the warranty for each device varies. So in addition to whatever coverage is left on Samsung’s end for…

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Raspberry Pi Gets High Quality Camera Upgrade

See the original posting on Makezine

I knew a lot of people that got excited when the original raspberry pi camera was announced, but quickly found themselves limited by the quality of the image. It can be really great to have that much control behind the sensor, but frustrating when your results are always a bit […]

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The post Raspberry Pi Gets High Quality Camera Upgrade appeared first on Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers.

These cool prints are made from the soundwaves of songs, and the sales help COVID-19 charities

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Soundwaves Art is the brainchild and handiwork of Austin-based visual artist Tim Wakefield, who creates digital prints based on the visualized waveforms of popular songs.

For example, here’s one made from “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran that’s signed by the band themselves:

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Created from audio of @duranduran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf.” Limited edition prints signed by the band to support @warchilduk. Link in bio. #duranduran #hungrylikethewolf #art #modernart #music #charity

A post shared by Soundwaves Art (@soundwaves_art) on Nov 23, 2016 at 6:41am PST

“Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd:

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The legendary #PinkFloyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” #art #signed #RogerWaters #DavidGilmour #RichardWright #NickMason #SoundwavesArt

A post shared by Soundwaves Art (@soundwaves_art) on May 27, 2015 at 6:24pm PDT

“I’m Amazed” by My Morning Jacket

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Thank you to @mymorningjacket for introducing us to the amazing work of @sweetreliefmusiciansfund and their emergency Covid-19 fund for musicians. To help out, we’re releasing the final 40 Soundwaves prints of “I’m Amazed” signed by MMJ in 2018 and sending 100% of profits to Sweet Relief. If you have the resources, help us support this cause and grab yourself some limited edition art! https://soundwavesartfoundation.com/product/mmj/ or link in bio

A post shared by Soundwaves Art (@soundwaves_art) on Mar 23, 2020 at 12:16pm PDT

It’s a pretty cool project overall, and Wakefield has also registered it as a 501(c)(3) non-profit:

Soundwaves Art Foundation’s (501c3) mission is to find and collaborate with organizations that make a lasting impact on society’s greatest challenges.

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Watch a video of my prison and opioids play “Streets Like This,” performed by actors who have all dealt with incarceration

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In 2018, I was commissioned by Civic Ensemble of Ithaca, New York to help devise and write a new play based on their ReEntry Theatre Program — a free arts initiative for people who’ve experienced incarceration and/or drug rehabilitation. The program participants developed the raw material through theatre games and writing exercises, which I then took and transformed into a full-length script.

Streets Like This originally ran for 3 sold out performances in May 2018, featuring a cast of program participants, whose personal stories of addiction and incarceration inspired the script. The people involved in this show from the start have gone on to make some tremendous policy changes for social services and criminal justice reform in Tompkins County, New York, and decided to remount the show again this spring.

Then the COVID-19 outbreak happened.

But the cast and company got together one last time and filmed their production without an audience. It’s streaming now for free between April 30 and May 17, 2020; and since they can’t raise any money through ticket sales, they’re hoping the video will bring in some donations so they can keep this program going.

Working on this play and getting to know these actors was an eye-opening and inspiring experience for me, and I know it’s had a positive impact on their lives, too. I hope you’ll check it out, and if you’re feeling generous, throw some money their way so they can keep doing good work in changing the ways our society deals with addiction and incarceration. Read the rest

Virtual tourism: 7 of the world’s most beautiful, unique libraries

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Atlas Obscura has rounded-up seven different libraries that offer online virtual tours. There’s Harvard University’s Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library, the Klementinum library in Prague (which is like something out of fairy tale), the Puratos Sourdough Library (no, really), which only allows virtual visits, King’s College Library at Cambridge University (natch), the Admont Abbey Library in Austria, the Jerome Hall Law Library in Bloomington, IN, and the A.K. Smiley Public Library in Redlands, CA.

The Klementinum library
This baroque library in Prague, Czechia, was built in 1722 as part of a Jesuit university complex, and its ornate interior has changed little over the centuries. Step into its 360-degree tour and gaze at shelves of theological literature beneath a ceiling of frescoes. In addition to housing more than 20,000 books, the library includes a collection of terrestrial and celestial globes. You can also explore nearby chambers, such as a public reading room flanked by massive oil frescoes and an observatory in the astronomical tower.

The Puratos Sourdough Library

Founded in 2013 by the Belgian bakery supply company Puratos, this collection of sourdough starters in St. Vith is the largest of its kind. Although it is not open for public visits, you can virtually venture into its refrigerators, which collectively hold more than 100 blobs of yeast- and bacteria- laden flour in jars. After hearing a brief introduction from its sole curator, Karl De Smedt—who globetrots to acquire these glorious globs—check out short videos that spotlight varieties of yeast cultivated by bakers around the world, from Altamura to San Francisco.

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This Tech Conference Is Being Held on an Animal Crossing Island

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As our lives have become a seemingly endless series of work meetings on Zoom and FaceTime or WhatsApp catch-ups with friends, we’re all getting a bit sick of seeing people’s faces enclosed in a cold, almost lifeless, digital frame. A tech worker from New York had a different idea for his tech conference, which he announced, in all seriousness, on April Fools’ Day. The free conference is called Deserted Island DevOps and is happening on Thursday, entirely inside Animal Crossing, the Nintendo Switch hit game released in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. From a report: Speakers are doing their talks on an island in Animal Crossing specifically built for the conference, and attendees can follow along in the game, on Twitch, or Zoom, as a fallback option. Other than the unusual, and incredibly colorful and fun setting, the conference is very much like any other conference. The speakersâ(TM) avatars are standing behind a podium, their slides are being displayed next to them, and attendees sit in the audience. Crucially, the conference isn’t about Animal Crossing, it’s kind of a standard software development type conference. It just happens to be happening inside a video game.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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