Plex’s new Amazon Echo support lets you control your home theater with your voice

plexserver

Plex is getting into the home automation game. The popular media management software just announced it now has an Alexa skill, as well as smart home features that turns off the lights or post a message in Slack based on an action you take with Plex.

The new Alexa skill is available now in the US and UK Alexa stores. Once you’ve activated the Plex skill, you can ask your Alexa to play content from your local media library on demand, such as a movie or a television episode from a specific season. Not sure what you’re in the mood for? You can also ask Alexa and Plex (Plexa?) to suggest music or something to watch.

Plex doesn’t specifically say this, but it appears the Alexa skill is open to all users, not just Plex Pass subscribers.

Get smart

That said, the company is also adding an interesting new feature for Plex Pass users called Webhooks. Basically, what this means is that when you take an action with Plex, a secondary action can be carried out by a computer.

If you start a movie in Plex, for example, you could use Plex’s Webhooks feature to automatically dim the living room lights. Right now, Plex is hoping to get developers to start adding Webhooks that integrate with Plex.

The impact on you at home: There are three examples on Github that you can try out right now, including desktop notifications for music playback, automated Slack posts when you rate something in Plex, and a smart light integration with the Wink Hub.

These integrations are useful, but they’ll require some knowledge of JavaScript meaning it’s probably out of the grasp of most users, and that may not change. Plex’s technical documentation for Webhooks says they are a “fairly advanced feature and won’t commonly be used by an ‘average’ user.” Plex Pass Pro customers may be able to get an installer to come to their home and set Webhooks up, however.

This story, “Plex’s new Amazon Echo support lets you control your home theater with your voice” was originally published by TechHive.

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Google now lets you add app-like bookmarks on Android

Google released new Chrome Beta version and it comes with the feature called Progressive Web Apps. When a mobile site is launched and you want to “Add to Home Screen” through the Chrome options, a shortcut appears.

The difference is it doesn’t act as a normal bookmark, but as an app that can draw notifications, be uninstalled and such. This is really important for users who want to use mobile site instead of downloading an app.

Other new features of the Chrome Beta v57.0 are the “CSS Grid Layout” that gives developers more options of positioning various segments on media player lockscreens. Chrome Beta can be downloaded right away at Play Store.

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Netflix now lets you save downloads to your Android phone’s SD card

netflix offline

Netflix shocked the world last year when it finally allowed many of its popular shows and movies to be downloaded for offline viewing, with nary any restrictions on how much you could save. Now it’s making the feature a little sweeter for Android users who are running out of space on their phones.

One of the advantages Android phones have over iPhones is the availability of SD card expansion. On many handsets you can pop out the SIM card tray and add in a tiny storage card, so you won’t regret not getting a 64GB phone instead of a 32GB one. The expansion slot is great for storing photos and files that would otherwise fill up your phone’s internal storage, and now you can use it store Netflix movies and TV shows, too.

netflix download locationGreenbot
A new option in App Settings lets you specify where you want downloads to go.

The latest version of the app adds a new option in App Settings for Download Location. Tap it and you’ll be able to select whether you want to save your show to your phone’s internal storage or the SD card, potentially opening up hundreds of gigabytes of space for desert island binge watching. You can even save shows to multiple cards.

Otherwise, the feature works as it did before. If a program is available for offline viewing, you’ll see a download arrow icon on the preview page, either next to an episode or in the movie description. Tap it and it will instantly begin downloading, and you can view your entire library inside the My Downloads tab.

However, you won’t be able to create a permanent library of your favorite shows. Once you download something, you have a limited time in which you can watch it, and it varies depending on the show. Some have 48-hour windows, and others are a week or longer. If a show has expired, you can quickly download it again by renewing it from the My Downloads tab inside the app, though you’ll need to be connected to the internet for it to work. And Netflix warns that some titles may only be renewed a certain number of times.

Why this matters: Offline Netflix viewing has forever changed our viewing habits, but clogging our phones with episodes of Stranger Things has become a headache. Saving shows and movies to an SD card may seem like a small feature, but it could make a big difference for Netflix bingers who are short on space.

This story, “Netflix now lets you save downloads to your Android phone’s SD card” was originally published by Greenbot.

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MS leap forward: replacing diseased immune machine halts progression, lets in restore

A scientific trial published inside the Lancet, a pinnacle scientific journal, shows that an in depthsystem that completely wipes out the immune machine and then regenerates a new one using blood stem cells can do away with all signs of detrimental mind irritation in humans with early, aggressive more than one sclerosis (MS), and facilitate lasting healing.

Led by Dr. Harold Atkins and Dr. Mark S. Freedman of The Ottawa clinic and the college of Ottawa, the trialcovered 24 participants who have been observed for as much as 13 years. The $6.47 million trial wasfunded through the MS Society of Canada and its affiliated more than one Sclerosis scientific researchfoundation. The studies changed into also supported by The Ottawa hospital basis, The Ottawasanatorium department of drugs and Canadian Blood offerings.

“Our trial is the first to show the complete, lengthyterm suppression of all inflammatory activity in human beings with MS,” said Dr. Atkins, a stem cell transplant medical doctor and scientist on the Ottawamedical institution, and accomplice professor on the university of Ottawa. “this is very exciting. but, it is vital to observe that this remedy may have extreme aspect effects and risks, and might simplest besuitable for a small share of humans with very lively MS. humans with MS who’ve had tremendousincapacity for a long term could in all likelihood no longer gain.”

“This procedure ought to be taken into consideration as a treatment option for people with early,competitive MS,” stated Dr. Freedman, a neurologist and senior scientist at the Ottawa hospital and professor at the university of Ottawa. “despite the fact that this trial become especially small, it becomeextensive, with the longest prospective follow-up of this type of remedy organization to date, and that’s what makes the results so convincing. however, that is a totally complex technique that must handiestbe completed at very specialised centres with understanding in each the management of MS patientsand blood stem cell transplantation.”

MS influences approximately 2.3 million human beings around the world, causing signs that varietyfrom blurred vision to excessive fatigue to partial or whole paralysis. It takes place while the immunemachine — which generally protects towards overseas disordercausing organisms — mistakenly attacksthe frame‘s personal principal apprehensive system, which includes the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. Early within the disease, people frequently enjoy temporary episodes of worsening signsfollowed with the aid of active inflammation inside the mind (referred to as relapses), whereas in a while, disorder development is inevitable.

The trial evaluated a treatment referred to as immunoablation and autologous hematopoietic stem celltransplantation (IAHSCT). The method begins through giving a person medication to coax their hematopoietic stem cells emigrate from their bone marrow into their blood. these stem cells are thengathered from the blood, purified and frozen. Then, excessive doses of chemotherapy capsules are used todispose of the man or woman‘s diseased immune device. The stem cells are then transplanted returnedinto the same person, to be able to provide upward push to a new immune system that has no “reminiscence” of the preceding pattern of attacking the critical anxious machine.

The trial protected 24 contributors with competitive, relapsing MS. They were accompanied foreverywhere among four and thirteen years after treatment (with a median postremedy follow up of 6.7 years).

After the remedy:

· now not a unmarried player skilled a medical relapse (zero relapses in 179 patient-years), while earlier than treatment, the participants experienced an average of one.2 relapses in step with 12 months (167 relapses in 146 patient-years).

· not a unmarried new lively inflammatory lesion can be detected within the brains of any of thecontributors (zero lesions on 327 MRI scans) whereas earlier than the remedy, individuals had 188 lesions on forty eight scans.

· now not a single player required MS-specific drugs to control their disorder.

· 70 percentage of members experienced a whole forestall in disease development.

· The average charge of mind shrinkage, normally a degree that correlates with MS development,returned to levels associated with regular aging.

· 40 percent of members skilled some lasting reversal of signs such as vision loss, muscle weak spotand balance troubles.

· some individuals have been capable of go back to paintings or school, regain the potential to drive, get married and have children.

Trial participant Jennifer Molson became recognized with MS in 1996, whilst she turned into simply 21. She obtained her transplant in 2002.

before my transplant i used to be unable to walk or work and become living in assisted care on theOttawa medical institution Rehabilitation Centre,” she stated. “Now i’m capable to walk independently,stay in my personal domestic and work complete time. i used to be additionally able to get married,stroll down the aisle with my Dad and dance with my husband. i have even gone downhill snowboarding.thanks to this studies i have been given a 2nd danger at lifestyles.”

“The MS Society is proud to be a part of an essential turning point inside the treatment of MS,” statedYves Savoie, CEO and President of the MS Society of Canada. “What started as a ambitious concept has translated right into a remedy option for humans living with surprisingly active, relapsing MS. e-book of the effects from this observe will tell clinicians of the risks and advantages of the manner, and pave themanner for similarly studies which could assist people with all varieties of MS.”

“A version of this technique has been used to deal with leukemia for decades, however its use for car-immune illnesses is surprisingly new,” said Dr. Atkins, who’s additionally the medical Director of the Regenerative medicinal drug program on the Ottawa sanatorium research Institute. “it is only utilized invery severe cases due to the fact participants face a substantial chance of infection and differentaspecteffects, together with loss of life. The dangers are much like the ones faced through leukemiapatients present process this kind of treatment.”

indeed, one participant in this have a look at died of liver failure due to the treatment and some otherrequired extensive care for liver headaches. The remedy routine turned into changed over the course of the take a look at to reduce toxicity, however all members nonetheless advanced fevers, which have been often associated with infections.

numerous latest clinical trials from different groups have tested this process in human beings with MS,”stated Dr. Freedman, who’s also the Director of MS research on the Ottawa hospital. “Our observe isprecise in that we used a stronger cocktail of medicine to cast off the immune gadget, we followed themembers for a very long time, and the majority of our contributors have had vast, long-lasting responses.”

individuals who are inquisitive about this therapy ought to communicate with their own neurologist, who can request a referral to The Ottawa health facility MS health facility or some other major health facility with experience on this area. note that The Ottawa health center cannot deal with humans with out legitimate Canadian fitness coverage.

This study become authorized by way of the Ottawa fitness Sciences community research Ethics Board, and is registered at https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01099930. The lead researchers are affiliated with the Stem cellular community, the Ontario Institute for Regenerative medicinal drug and the college of Ottawa mind and mind research Institute.

“We thank the sufferers from throughout Canada who participated on this scientific trial, as well as theirfamily members,” stated Marjorie Bowman, trial coordinator and advanced exercise nurse on the Ottawahealth facility. “Their courage and willpower are first-rate.”

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New Facebook tool lets blind people ‘see’ photos

Social media platforms may be a great way of telling the world about your life, but not everyone can appreciate these moments in full.

Facebook is launching “automatic alternative text”; a tool that uses object recognition technology to identify and describe an image, so that visually impaired and blind people using screen readers will be able to hear—and therefore visualize—what’s in a photo posted on the social network.

“With more than 39 million people who are blind, and over 246 million who have a severe visual impairment, many people may feel excluded from the conversation around photos on Facebook,” Facebook’s Shaomei Wu, Hermes Pique, and Jeffrey Wieland, said in an online post, late Monday.

“We want to build technology that helps the blind community experience Facebook the same way others enjoy it.”

Screen readers are software programs used by people with poor vision, which can scan text shown on screens and then convert the information into speech or braille.

Before the announcement, screen readers would only be able to tell users who posted the Facebook post and that an image was uploaded.

However, the tool will now able to say what the image may contain, from simple objects like “car” to “three people, smiling, outdoors”. Currently, the software can identify around 100 types of objects and scenes, including those associated to nature, sports and transportation.

Facebook’s AI-powered feature launch is just the latest from a whole raft of tech giants looking to improve their platform’s accessibility to wider audiences.

Last week, Twitter announced that Android and iOS app users could now add captions to Twitter-posted images so that people who have braille displays and screen readers could use their assistive technology products, to access and enjoy online content more easily.

Microsoft also recently announced its “Seeing AI” app, which hopes to support those who are visually impaired or blind — with the use of specific technological accessories — to understand who and what is around them with greater ease.

Facebook and Cornell University recently published a paper that looked into the relationship social media had with users who have poor vision. In the study, they discovered that individuals often felt “frustrated” or “excluded” when trying to get involved in everyday social networking activities.

Facebook’s “automatic alternative text” will initially only be available to those who use iOS, with the feature currently being available in English, within certain countries. The company however plans on making the tool available in other l

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Skype for the Web now lets you call non-Skype users

skypewebcalls

Skype is making its web app more like the desktop version with a few new ways to reach non-Skype users.

With Skype for Web, users can now place voice calls to any mobile phone or landline through the new “Call phones” section. Of course, this requires some Skype credit or a Skype Unlimited World subscription, but the rates for International calls may be cheaper than dialing from your own landline or cell phone.

Skype for Web is also getting a way to host video calls with people who don’t have Skype logins—a feature that first launched through Skype’s Windows desktop version last fall. By clicking “New,” and then clicking “Share Conversation” at the bottom of the contacts list, users can generate an invitation link. Anyone with the link can then join the conversation through Skype for Web.

For text chat, Skype for Web now formats links to automatically include an image from the webpage. For YouTube links, a built-in player lets users watch the video without leaving the Skype window.

Chrome users should keep in mind that Skype for Web still requires a plugin for voice and video chat. Users who’d rather not install anything should access the site through Internet Explorer or Firefox instead.

The impact on you at home: If you don’t use Skype too often, installing the desktop software might not be too appealing. The web version hasn’t reached feature parity with the desktop version yet—it’s missing Skype Translator an d some minor features such as status settings—but it’s a lot closer now with the ability to reach non-Skype users in various ways.

[“source -pcworld”]