The skills that every teen should learn before they ever get a cellphone

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Being a teenager is like waking up every morning in a house of mirrors. You’re everywhere and nowhere at once, trying to pinpoint which version of yourself is the most authentic. 

For the past decade, teens have navigated this tumultuous period of their lives with a smartphone in their hand. We know the power of connectivity can be liberating, especially in adolescence. We also know how our craving for that connection often leaves us longing for more — incomplete without one more scroll or an extra like. 

What we don’t know yet is how that constant whiplash effect of moving from elation to despair or creative engagement to mindless distraction changes young minds. I’ve been writing about this subject for a year, studying the research that suggests a link between screen time and poorer mental health, talking to experts worried about the inevitable moral panic that comes with every new technology, exploring the positive aspects of being online, and even urging young people to reclaim their lives from the thrum of social media.  Read more…

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How to create your own Alexa skills with Amazon Blueprints

There’s over 15,000 skills available for Amazon’s Alexa, and they were all written by people with at least some coding experience. Up until now, you couldn’t just make your own, unless you knew a thing or two about programming, and unfortunately, this meant the majority of people could not join in on the fun. This changed last week, however, with the introduction of the Alexa Blueprints initiative.
Blueprints allow just anyone with five spare minutes on their hands to create their own, custom Alexa skill and enable it on their Amazon Echo smart speakers and other connected …

The best Amazon Alexa skills: make the most out of your Echo smart speaker

Amazon’s AI voice assistant, Alexa, currently has over 15,000 skills. That’s a lot. A lot more than you’d ever use, or need, or even imagine was possible. If you’re somehow not familiar with Alexa Skills, these are basically automated responses to voice commands that you can give out to your Alexa-enabled device and have it launch an app, start a playlist, give you the weather forecast, tell you a funny or unfunny joke, or whatever else. The possibilities truly are endless. And with the recent launch of Blueprints, Alexa’s horizons are about to broaden even further.

But …

Everyone can do custom Alexa skills now, like your own family trivia game

Alexa is the gift that keeps on giving for Amazon, spearheading the smart home speaker revolution, and people are grabbing them in the millions to get access to the universe of “skills” that it offers for making daily life easier.

Amazon just one-upped its rivals by outing Blueprints – a process for creating custom Alexa skills if for some reason you aren’t satisfied by the tens of thousands already out there. As a perfect example of what Blueprints can do, Amazon made an Alexa Developers video that shows you how to create a birthday trivia game. 
Harmless …

Google improves Pixel 2's photography skills, launches February security update

Google just announced that it’s ready to release a February security update for its Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL smartphones. Alongside various security related fixes, the update brings some extra goodies, in particular to owners of the Pixel 2 series.   With the new update, Google says it’s enabling the Pixel Visual Core – a dedicated image processing chip that was dormant until now inside the new Pixel phones (unless you’ve installed a beta build of Android 8.1 Oreo). According to Google, the Pixel Visual Core allows users to take better photos with third party camera apps …

5 of the most important skills data analysts can learn using Microsoft programs

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Are you the type of person who flaunts their Excel and Powerpoint skills at every opportunity? Microsoft’s Office Suite is pretty much essential to any kind of job, and knowing how to use it efficiently can make a big difference in how you do your work. But there are a few Microsoft apps that aren’t as well known and can make your life much easier if you work with data regularly. 

Being a data-driven worker makes you a more desirable candidate, so even if you think you might not need these skills, think again. Read more…

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Amazon denies it has a ban on Alexa skills referencing Google

Amazon and Google are numbers one and two, respectively, in smart speaker market share worldwide. Amazon has a wide lead over Google at the moment, not surprising since the company did create the category after all. Google, for the moment, is the competitor that Amazon is most losing sleep over. In fact, Amazon seems to be quite sensitive about Google’s success with its Home line of smart speakers. For example, an Amazon employee hinted that developers are prohibited from submitting skills for Alexa that mention the Google name.

Similar to an app on a smartphone, enabling a skill for Alexa …

Measure your tapping skills in SEGA's new WWE Tap Mania for iOS and Android

Announced back in April, SEGA’s WWE Tap Mania mobile has just been released on Android and iOS. Even though it wants to appeal to WWE fans, the game plays and feels like a mindless clicker.

WWE Tap Mania mixes idle clicker and card game elements, as players must collect Superstar cards, build their decks and fight in arenas to become the WWE Champion.

The action in the ring is limited to taps that enable players to unleash powerful combos if timed correctly. All Superstar cards can be enhanced to increase your deck’s power and unlock each character’s …

There are now more than 15,000 Alexa skills in the US, Google Assistant supports only 378

Back in March, we reported that there were more than 10,000 Alexa skills available to owners of an Echo or Echo Dot device (Echo Show was not available back then). Recent estimates by Voicebot, also confirmed by Amazon, show that Alexa can now ‘learn’ more than 15,000 skills that are available in the US, thanks to a very engaged skill developers community.

Amazon’s voice assistant has taken the smart home arena by storm, having launched in late 2014. Alexa’s skills are small, app-like pieces of software that are capable of carrying out specific functions upon command – ‘Alexa, what’s the …

Ready your dogfighting skills, folks! Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore lands on Android

Deep Silver FISHLABS launched Galaxy on Fire 3 – Manticore on iOS devices back in December, but Android players were promised their own version two months ago when the developer opened up pre-registration on Google Play.

Although the developers promise intense space fights in stunning environments, the game barely runs within the parameters on some of the latest flagships available on the market like the Samsung Galaxy S8, Pixel XL, and OnePlus 3T.

If you have an older smartphone, you might experience low fps (frames per second) or it might not be compatible …