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Save up to $250 with Rosetta Stone's Autumn Sale

Ever dreamt of an all-expense-paid tour of Europe? While we can't swing that, we can offer you the ability to order dinner, ask for directions, or whisper sweet nothings to locals in the native language when you get there. Blending reading, writing, listening, and speaking, Rosetta Stone's unique, immersive curriculum is guaranteed to get you speaking in foreign tongues faster. You'll receive up to 50 percent off on all available courses right now with Free Shipping or Instant Download. With these savings, you'll be able to sock more away in that vacation fund.

About the software … Read more

7 back-to-school apps to help you make the grade

You're already dreading the early wake-up times and the terrifying tests and term papers that are par for the coursework. While we can't excuse you from that 8 a.m. class or from the pop quiz that you're so not prepared for, we can recommend seven educational apps to ease and enrich the coming school year.

iProcrastinate ( Mac, iOS) In Intro to Psychology, you may have learned that procrastination is a sure sign of not wanting to do something. We get it. Few students are dying to write that term paper or prepare for that final. iProcrastinate … Read more

Kids Learn to Spell (Fruits) review

Kids Learn to Spell (Fruits) for Android is a fun way to help kids learn to spell. It's also easy to play: Kids tap scrambled letters to make the names of fruits appear in correct order in blank boxes. The game keeps top score but otherwise is quite basic, which has good and bad aspects. Kids Learn to Spell (Fruits) is free but displays banner ads.

Pros

Easy play: A minimum of commands and audible feedback make Kids Learn to Spell (Fruits) suitable for young learners as well as more advanced students.

Challenging words: It's not just "… Read more

Do you ever get to really hear stereo sound?

Thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of wireless speakers, single-speaker sound is making something of a comeback. Sure, Bluetooth speakers can play the left and right channels of a recording, but since they're just a few inches apart, stereo is a non-event.

Ideally, for desktop stereo the left and right speakers should be at least 24 inches apart when you're sitting a few feet away. With room hi-fi systems, the speakers should be at least five to six feet apart. With desktop and hi-fi systems, the listener must be equidistant from the left and right speakers to hear accurate … Read more

Insteon home automation adds unofficial Nest support

After releasing an app update on Monday, Insteon announced this week that its home automation system is now compatible with the popular Nest Learning Thermostat. Owners of the Insteon Hub will be able to monitor and control the basic functions of their Nest directly from the Insteon app, along with any motion detectors, LED lights, or other smart-home gadgets they've integrated into their systems.

Insteon isn't the first system to claim compatibility with the Nest. In September, Nest announced plans for a partner-based developer program, naming the high-end automation network Control4 as partner No. 1. Other systems, like … Read more

Renaissance Learning sold for $1.1 billion after Google investment

Google Capital might just have the Midas Touch.

Renaissance Learning will announce on Thursday that private equity firm Hellman & Friedman has acquired it for $1.1 billion, The New York Times reported on Thursday. Just last month, Renaissance Learning raised $40 million from Google Capital, the search giant's latest venture-capital arm. The investment was based on a $1 billion valuation.

Speaking to the Times in an interview on Thursday, Renaissance Learning chief John Lynch Jr. said that while it might look "like it was orchestrated" to match up with Google's investment, "it was actually … Read more

Microsoft to bring social, machine learning tech to Office 365

Microsoft is about to make some big changes as to how Office 365 looks and works.

At the company's SharePoint 2014 conference, which kicks off on March 3, executives will preview some of these coming changes -- specifically ones involving social and machine-learning technologies that Microsoft is baking into its cloud suite of Office apps. Once these technologies begin rolling out later this year, the lines between Exchange, SharePoint, and Yammer will be blurred, and social collaboration will become more of a centerpiece of the more tightly integrated suite.

Microsoft has built what it's calling the "Office Graph,"Read more

What if we become as stupid as machines?

I'm told that soon a machine will see to my every need.

Which is a relief, as my needs are many, my time is short, and my tastes are variable and eclectic.

Or will that be the other way around? Will we have to see to machines' every need?

It's hard to tell at the moment. Machines are pestering me to allow them to push things on me -- be it "better" ads or pushy push notifications. They want my address book, all my e-mails, and please, please, can they have my photo album to show … Read more

Google invests $40M in Renaissance Learning

Google Capital, an investment arm for the search giant that has spent its cash on only two companies prior to this, has invested in Renaissance Learning.

Google Capital invested $40 million into Renaissance Learning, based on a $1 billion valuation. The news was shared on Wednesday with Recode. Google Capital has previously invested in Survey Monkey and Lending Club.

Renaissance Learning is one of many educational companies aimed at improving education at the K-12 levels. The company provides resources to schools to help them teach math and reading. The company told Recode that it currently has 18 million paid subscribers.… Read more

Want to be better at math? Electric shocks could help

In a room at Oxford University in England, children between the ages of 8 and 10 are working on math problems on computers while being administered electric shocks by senior research fellow Roi Cohen Kadosh.

OK, they're not really getting shocked, but they are getting a steady stream of low-current electricity delivered to their brains.

The procedure they're undergoing is known as Transcranial electrical stimulation (tES), and it's one of the most recent brain stimulation techniques to come about in a long history of electrical currents used to manipulate the brain. Unlike earlier electroshock treatment programs, which tended to placate people with mental disturbances, the goal of this work is to help people with learning disorders overcome their difficulties, and to help others learn better generally. … Read more