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Let's get this out of the way: ghost detection is based on junk science. It's trying to prove something that's unprovable almost by definition, using theories that have little connection to the real world. But if you are going to chase phantoms, you might as well have the best technology at your disposal, right? GhostArk certainly thinks so. It's developing a pocketable ghost detector that supposedly has everything you need to track down supernatural beings, including an electromagnetic field meter, high-sensitivity microphones, radio frequency sweeping and sensors for both atmospheric pressure and temperature. Think of it as an audio recorder on steroids -- you can even add white noise to "bolster the spirits' strength." It's a clever concept, even if none of its findings would stand up under academic scrutiny.

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tax or taxes concept with word on business folder index

Airbnb's been struggling with numerous legal issues for a while now, and one of the biggest complaints against the service is that hosts have been using it to set up illegal hotels to avoid paying taxes. These days, Airbnb's trying to get on the good side of the law, so after getting rid of sketchy listings (in NYC, at least), it's now collecting tourist taxes in more locations. The service has been doing just that in San Francisco and Portland, Oregon since last year, but now the list of locations has grown to include San Jose, California and Amsterdam in the Netherlands (starting this week, as well as Washington and Chicago starting on February 15.

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Amazon Echo

If you accepted an invitation to buy Amazon's Echo speaker, you've noticed that the device didn't have a vast musical vocabulary at first -- you could tell it to play iHeartRadio or Prime Music tunes, and that's about it. You'll have a better time of things from now on, though. Amazon is rolling out an update that lets you use your voice to steer iTunes, Pandora radio or Spotify on your mobile device. It's not super-sophisticated, but you no longer have to reach for your phone just to skip tracks. And in case millions more songs won't keep you entertained, there's also a "Simon says" command that you can use to prank people (or simply tell them something) from across the home. We'd argue that the biggest upgrade to the Echo would be getting to buy one, but these new features will do in a pinch.


Couple Sitting In Hotel Lobby Looking At Digital Tablet Smiling

Marriott wants you to know that it's completely done trying to block guests' personal WiFi connections -- it has even given up convincing the FCC to give it permission to do so, a spokesperson told Engadget. The company already announced that it won't be keeping people from using their own MiFis and hotspots in hotel rooms, but its official statement at that time said it "will continue to look to the FCC to clarify appropriate security measures network operators." See, the hotel chain still wanted the FCC to let it continue blocking personal WiFi in its business and convention centers in order to protect guests from rogue internet connections, or so it claimed.

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Pirate Bay phoenix

We're starting to wonder if it's nigh-on impossible to keep The Pirate Bay down. Just weeks after Swedish police raided the bootleg file site and knocked it offline, it's back -- TorrentFreak reports that almost everything is up and running once again, complete with a phoenix graphic (above) to taunt authorities. With that said, it's not quite the same experience that many veteran users would remember. While the pre-raid content remains intact, many of the original staffers are locked out of this version. They're planning to create their own version of the Bay that supposedly restores the community spirit of the original. It's not clear if that'll work, but it sounds like cops and copyright holders may have created more problems for themselves in trying to take down one of the best-known pirate havens.


HTC One M8 in gold

HTC hasn't always had success upgrading One users to the latest version of Android within its promised 90-day window, and history is unfortunately repeating itself with Android 5.0 Lollipop on the way. The phone maker is now warning that "some carrier versions" of the One M8 and M7 won't get Lollipop by the expected February 1st deadline. Reportedly, Google's rush to fix Lollipop (which emerged, shall we say, less than polished) gave HTC little time to both finish its own update and put it through the usual provider testing routine.

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Apps have done wonders for music creation, and now there's mobile software from Casio that aims to make it even easier. The Chordana Composer app for iPhone creates a track basked on a melody that you create by singing or whistling two bars of a tune. Casio's handiwork records you, and then automatically builds the rest of the song based on your input. This means that anyone can construct a hit without in-depth music knowledge or the ability to play an instrument. After the base of the song is captured, there's five genres and three melodic settings for the tweaking before hitting the Auto Compose button and putting the app to work.

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Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology and more in print and on the web. Some weeks, you'll also find short reviews of books that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read.

A young boy stands wearing virtual reality mask and hand piece under a plastic roof at a music festival

A Look Back at the Doomed Virtual Reality Boom of the 90s
Kyle Fowle, Kill Screen

With the revival of VR, it's important that we take a look back to the last big push for virtual reality. Kill Screen recently dedicated an entire issue to the topic, including a piece that recalls what VR was like in the '90s, when it was all circle pods, massive headsets and plastic guns. Ah... the good ol' days.

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