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An App to Help You Decode the Symphony as You Listen

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Tim Ireland- WPA Pool/Getty Images

When you’re looking for a tech-friendly entertainment experience, you probably don’t gravitate toward the philharmonic. But this fall, London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will have a special section just for people who plan to use their phones during the show, according to The Telegraph. During the Royal Philharmonic’s 2017-2018 season, patrons of the upcoming series Myths and Fairytales will be encouraged to use EnCue, a new app (previously called Octava) that's designed to help orchestras reach out to new audiences through mid-performance alerts.

Organizations can sign up to create their own presentations using EnCue, which turns push notifications into program notes for people who opt in. When the app is open on a user's device, slides with information about what’s happening in that moment in the performance show up in real-time. Orchestras can use it to direct listeners’ attentions to a particular image that they should bear in mind during that section of music or inform them of certain musical or historical tidbits relating to the piece.

Three side-by-side screenshots of the EnCue by Octava app.
EnCue by Octava

According to the company, the app is dark enough on screens to not distract other audience members. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s Alexander Shelley, a principal associate conductor, calls it “beautifully unobtrusive” in a video interview about the program. Still, according to The Telegraph, there will be a separate seating area for people who want to use the app.

Classical music aficionados aren’t always early adopters of new technology, but EnCue could help new fans understand and appreciate art forms like symphonies and operas.

[h/t Arts Journal]

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Getting Calls From Your Own Phone Number? Don't Answer!
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There’s a new phone scam that could affect you, according to Washington’s KIRO 7 News. In addition to keeping your eyes open for calls that come from area codes like 473 or involve people claiming to be Equifax representatives, you now have to watch out for your own phone number.

Scammers are manipulating your phone’s caller ID to make it look like you’re getting a call from your own phone number, then posing as someone from a wireless carrier like AT&T or Verizon. They tell whoever answers the phone that their account has been flagged for security reasons, then ask for the last four digits of that person’s Social Security number. The FCC has been aware of these scams for at least two years, but they seem to be ramping up once again.

In general, you shouldn’t give out any part of your Social Security number over the phone on an incoming call. If you’re suspicious, you can always call your carrier back using the official customer service phone number on their website or on your bill. But it’s best not to pick up at all. If you receive a call from your own number, don’t answer or press any buttons. Instead, file a complaint with the FCC.

[h/t KIRO 7 News]

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Samsung’s Star Wars Vacuums Offer Everything You Want in a Droid
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Samsung

Hate housecleaning but love Star Wars? Samsung’s got the solution. In anticipation of December’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the newest film in the Star Wars saga, Samsung has transformed a limited number of its VR7000 POWERbot robot vacuum cleaners into two familiar faces from George Lucas’s legendary space opera: a Stormtrooper and Darth Vader (which comes with Wi-Fi connectivity and a remote control).

In order to create a unique device that would truly thrill Star Wars aficionados, Samsung consulted with fans of the film throughout each stage of the process. The result is a pair of custom-crafted robo-vacuums that fill your home with the sounds of a galaxy far, far away as they clean (when you turn Darth Vader on, for example, you'll hear his iconic breathing).

“We are very pleased to be part of the excitement leading up to the release of The Last Jedi and to be launching our limited edition POWERbot in partnership with Star Wars fans,” B.S. Suh, Samsung’s executive vice president, said in a press statement. “From its industry-leading suction power, slim design, and smart features, to the wonderful character-themed voice feedback and sound effects, we are confident the Star Wars limited edition of the VR7000 will be a big hit.”

Be warned that this kind of power suction doesn’t come cheap: while the Stormtrooper POWERbot will set you back $696, the Darth Vader vacuum retails for $798. Who knew the Dark Side was so sparkling clean?


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