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Huawei CFO back in Canada court as bail hearing set to wrap
A top executive at Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL] is set to return to a Vancouver courtroom on Tuesday, as the judge weighs final issues in determining whether she should be freed on bail while awaiting extradition proceedings.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 11 Dec 2018 | 4:16 am

Uber's dominant size may rob smaller Lyft of its IPO oxygen
Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] and smaller rival Lyft are driving side-by-side on the road to a stock market debut, and that may not bode well for Lyft as investors decide where to place their bets in the ride-hailing sector.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 11 Dec 2018 | 4:03 am

Google’s CEO Will Face a House Grilling Over a Data Breach and Chinese Censorship Demands

(WASHINGTON) — Google’s CEO faces a grilling from U.S. lawmakers on how the web search giant handled an alarming data breach and whether it may bend to Chinese government censorship demands.

CEO Sundar Pichai’s appearance Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee comes after he angered members of a Senate panel in September by declining their invitation to testify about foreign governments’ manipulation of online services to sway U.S. elections. Pichai’s no-show at that hearing was marked by an empty chair for Google alongside the Facebook and Twitter executives.

Pichai went to Washington later in September to mend fences, meeting with some two dozen Republicans and indicating he also planned to meet with Democrats. He took part last week in a White House meeting with other tech industry executives that focused mainly on getting government and businesses working more closely on accelerating emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.

In October, Google announced it was shutting down its long-shunned Plus social network following its disclosure of a flaw discovered in March that could have exposed some personal information of as many as 500,000 people. The company deliberately avoided disclosing the privacy lapse at the time, in part to avoid drawing regulators’ scrutiny and damaging its reputation, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing anonymous individuals and documents.

Lawmakers want Google to explain its failure to reveal the breach.

On Monday, the company said it was accelerating its plans to shutter Plus after discovering a privacy flaw that inadvertently exposed the names, email addresses, ages and other personal information of 52.5 million users last month. The service will now go dark in April instead of August, as previously announced.

“We work hard to ensure the integrity of our products, and we’ve put a number of checks and balances in place to ensure they continue to live up to our standards,” Pichai said in his opening statement prepared for Tuesday’s hearing.

Lawmakers are also concerned by recent reports that Google is poised to re-enter China with a search engine generating censored results to comply with the demands of that country’s Communist government.

President Donald Trump has accused Google of rigging the results of its dominant search engine to suppress conservative viewpoints and highlight coverage from media that he says distribute “fake news.” That’s another area of potential questions to Pichai by committee members.

The company has denied any political bias, and there’s no evidence of an anti-conservative tilt. Pichai said in his written testimony that “I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way. To do otherwise would go against our core principles and our business interests.”

Google has good reason to communicate with lawmakers and policymakers, and to seek to weigh in on thorny issues. Trump and some lawmakers have raised the possibility of asking regulators to investigate whether Google — which handles nearly two of every three online searches in the U.S. — has abused its clout as a major gateway to the internet to stifle competition.

And momentum is building in Congress for legislation to put stricter limits and privacy protections around the big tech companies’ collection of data. With the Democrats having captured control of the House in the midterm elections, and poised to take over as the majority running the Judiciary Committee next month, tougher legislation could be in the offing.

Pichai, a former engineer, took the helm of Google in 2015 in a major restructuring that made Google a division of conglomerate Alphabet Inc. — whose businesses include Waymo, a self-driving technology development company. Bolstering the dominance of its search engine, Google’s Android operating system runs most of the world’s smartphones, and its other services — including Gmail, YouTube, online ads and the Chrome web browser — are widely used.

Source: Tech – TIME | 11 Dec 2018 | 3:43 am

Seven things to watch as Google's CEO appears before Congress hearing
Google chief Sundar Pichai will answer questions from the House Judiciary Committee.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 11 Dec 2018 | 3:37 am

Daimler to buy 20 billion euros worth of electric car battery cells
German luxury car maker Daimler , parent company of Mercedes-Benz, on Tuesday said it would buy battery cells worth more than 20 billion euros ($22.75 billion) by 2030 as it readies mass production of hybrid and electric vehicles.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 11 Dec 2018 | 3:36 am

Apple launches payments service in Germany following delay
Apple has launched its mobile payments service in Germany, four years after its start in the United States and trailing Google, which started its payments app in the country in June.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 11 Dec 2018 | 3:06 am

China court bans sales of older iPhone models in Apple-Qualcomm global battle
A Chinese court has ordered a sales ban of some older Apple Inc iPhone models in China for violating two patents of chipmaker Qualcomm Inc, though intellectual property lawyers said enforcement of the ban was likely still a distant threat.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 11 Dec 2018 | 1:23 am

Uber plans to integrate London bus, Tube timetables into its app: FT
Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] is planning to integrate into its app the bus and Tube timetables of Transport for London, the government body in charge of the capital's transport network, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 10 Dec 2018 | 11:22 pm

Question Time and Doctor Who among 'most tweeted about' BBC shows
News programmes prove popular on Twitter in 2018 - with Doctor Who and EastEnders also sparking discussion.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 10 Dec 2018 | 10:47 pm

Canadian court weighs bail for jailed CFO of China's Huawei
A Canadian provincial court weighing whether to grant bail to a top executive of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL], who is facing possible extradition to the United States, adjourned on Monday without deciding her fate.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 10 Dec 2018 | 10:05 pm

EU's Vestager may investigate Apple Pay if there are formal complaints
EU regulators looked into Apple's mobile payment service and found it was not market dominant but they could review it again if they receive formal complaints, Europe's antitrust chief said on Monday.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 10 Dec 2018 | 8:45 pm

Chinese province pledges billions to drive tech, innovation
China's coastal province of Zhejiang, home to e-commerce giant Alibaba , has pledged more than $17 billion to drive the tech industry and innovation in the coming five years, the state news agency Xinhua reported.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 10 Dec 2018 | 7:15 pm

Google CEO Denies the Company Is Politically Biased in Planned Testimony to Congress

Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai backed privacy legislation and denied the company is politically biased, according to a transcript of testimony he plans to deliver to Congress later this week.

“I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way,” Pichai said, according to the transcript released on Monday. “To do otherwise would go against our core principles and our business interests.”

He also described user privacy as “an essential part of our mission,” while stressing Google’s U.S. roots.

“As an American company, we cherish the values and freedoms that have allowed us to grow and serve so many users,” Pichai said. “I am proud to say we do work, and we will continue to work, with the government to keep our country safe and secure.”

Pichai is set to testify on Tuesday before a House Judiciary Committee hearing about the company’s data collection, search business and a range of other issues.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google proposed a framework for federal privacy legislation earlier this year.

The remarks did not directly address Google’s retreat from a U.S. Department of Defense contract or its proposed plans to bring a search engine back to China, two subjects that will likely come up during Tuesday’s hearing.

Source: Tech – TIME | 10 Dec 2018 | 7:07 pm

The bar where your cash is worthless
As more firms around the world refuse to take cash, does this mean the end for notes and coins?

Source: BBC News - Technology | 10 Dec 2018 | 7:06 pm

Child advice chatbots fail to spot sexual abuse
Two leading chat apps also struggled with questions about drugs and bulimia.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 10 Dec 2018 | 7:00 pm

Google CEO defends 'integrity' of products ahead of testimony
The chief executive officer of Alphabet Inc's Google on Monday defended the integrity of the company's products a day ahead of a congressional hearing where he is expected to face tough questions from U.S. lawmakers.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 10 Dec 2018 | 6:28 pm

'Outdated' IT and old computers found in Welsh schools
Schools are too far behind technology such as smartphones and iPads in teaching IT, a watchdog says.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 10 Dec 2018 | 12:49 pm

Chinese Court Bans Sale of Some iPhones After Patent Dispute

(NEW YORK) — U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm says it’s won an order in a Chinese court banning some Apple phones in China as part of a long-running dispute over patents.

Qualcomm said Monday that the Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court in China has granted preliminary injunctions ordering four Chinese subsidiaries of Apple to stop selling and importing iPhones.

It’s not immediately clear what the full scope of the ruling is. While Qualcomm says the ban covers iPhones 6S through X, Apple says all iPhone models remain available for customers in China.

The dispute is over two Qualcomm patents enabling consumers to format photos and manage phone apps using a touch screen. Apple says it will fight Qualcomm’s “desperate move” in the courts.

Apple and Qualcomm also have cases in the U.S. and the U.K.

Source: Tech – TIME | 10 Dec 2018 | 12:37 pm

Apple denies iPhone sales ban in China
Chip-maker Qualcomm says it has won an injunction against Apple in a continuing dispute over intellectual property.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 10 Dec 2018 | 11:26 am

Elon Musk Says He Wants to ‘Be Clear’ That He Does Not Respect the SEC

(Bloomberg) — Elon Musk, the chief executive officer of both Tesla Inc. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., opened up about his tumultuous year in a wide-ranging interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

Musk, 47, told anchor Lesley Stahl that none of his tweets have been censored since he reached a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in October.

His problematic Twitter messages in August — about trying to take the company private — caused months of chaos, and the agency sought to improve the governance of a board long criticized for being too closely aligned with its billionaire leader.

“I want to be clear. I do not respect the SEC,” Musk said, according to a transcript provided in advance by the network. Musk added that he’s abiding by the SEC’s terms because he respects the justice system. He also said that he handpicked Robyn Denholm as Tesla’s new board chair, and that in addition to not wanting to be chairman again, he would prefer “to have no titles at all.”

Tesla rose slightly in U.S. premarket trading, gaining 0.4 percent to $359.30. The stock is up 15 percent since the start of the year, valuing the company at $61.4 billion.

Tesla doesn’t buy traditional advertising, and media coverage of Musk is a big part of how the Palo Alto, California-based company markets itself and its formidable brand. Musk has been on a bit of a charm offensive of late: he appeared on Kara Swisher’s Recode Decode podcast, as well as Axios HBO.

The “60 Minutes” interview, which was filmed at Tesla’s lone auto plant in Fremont, California, largely focused on Tesla’s year in which it raced to ramp up production of the Model 3 sedan. Musk credited the decision to build a third general assembly line outside under a tent with saving the company.

Assembly Line Tent

“It was life or death,” said Musk. “Those betting against the company were right by all conventional standards that we would fail. But they just did not count on this unconventional situation of creating an assembly line in a parking lot in a tent.”

Stahl pressed Musk on the string of complaints about conditions inside company factories, including unreported injuries, abusive conditions and excessive hours. Musk said there’s been an “aggressive campaign” by the United Auto Workers to attack Tesla with a “load of nonsense” in an effort to unionize the carmaker.

Musk said he may be willing to buy some of the five factories General Motors Co. plans to idle next year. He also asserted that he doesn’t smoke pot, despite taking a hit of marijuana on a comedian’s podcast that was live-streamed in September.

“I do not smoke pot,” Musk said. “As anyone who watched that podcast could tell, I have no idea how to smoke pot, or anything. I don’t know how to smoke anything, honestly.”

Source: Tech – TIME | 10 Dec 2018 | 9:32 am

Huawei Honor View20 and Samsung A8s have hole-punch cameras
Two smartphones with cameras encircled by their screens are launched within hours of each other.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 10 Dec 2018 | 9:21 am

China's new games censors take tough stance
A panel of experts bans nine mobile games and sends another 11 back for changes.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 10 Dec 2018 | 8:48 am

Elon Musk has 'no respect' for US regulator
Tesla's co-founder says he has no respect for the regulator, which fined him over tweets about making the company private.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 10 Dec 2018 | 8:04 am

Facebook's hidden battle against ad-blockers
The methods Facebook uses to thwart ad-blocking technology have been criticised by web developers.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 10 Dec 2018 | 8:00 am

SpaceX Christmas Gifts Arrive at the International Space Station

(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) — A SpaceX delivery full of Christmas goodies arrived at the International Space Station on Saturday, following a slight delay caused by a communication drop-out.

The Dragon capsule pulled up at the orbiting lab three days after launching from Cape Canaveral. Commander Alexander Gerst used the space station’s big robotic arm to grab the cargo carrier, as the two craft soared 250 miles above the Pacific.

It took two tries to get the Dragon close enough for capture.

NASA called off the Dragon’s first approach because of trouble with the communication network that serves the space station. Equipment failure in New Mexico for NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite system resulted in a temporary loss of communication with the station. For safety, Mission Control ordered the Dragon to back up.

It was a successful take two — just an hour-and-a-half late — after NASA switched to another TDRS satellite.

The Dragon holds everything the station astronauts need for Christmas dinner, as well as mice and worms for science experiments, and more than 5,000 pounds (2,270 kilograms) of station equipment.

The holiday food includes smoked turkey, green bean casserole, candied yams, cranberry sauce and fruitcake. There also are shortbread and butter cookies, with tubes of icing for decorating.

Three of the space station residents will be on board for Christmas; the other three will return to Earth on Dec. 20. Until then, the station is home to two Americans, two Russians, one Canadian and Gerst, who is German.

It is the second space station visit for this recycled Dragon; it was there last year, too.

SpaceX has been making station shipments for NASA since 2012. This is its 16th delivery under contract.

Two other supply ships are attached to the space station: One Russian and the other sent by NASA’s other commercial shipper, Northrop Grumman.

Source: Tech – TIME | 8 Dec 2018 | 10:31 am

Review: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Is Great for Hardcore Fans and Newbies Alike

It’s both incredibly easy and somewhat difficult to describe Nintendo’s fighting crossover game series, Super Smash Bros. In short, it’s a battle royale game that pits characters from different gaming franchises against each other. Dig deeper into the series’ latest entry, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and you’ll find more than a fighting game that’s fun for parties. You’ll get a tour through Nintendo’s gaming history, shared via its new story mode, as well as a game that caters to every type of player, from the casual newcomer to the competitive veteran. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate brings back every playable character from the series’ past, adds some new ones, and spares little expense when it comes to giving fans what they truly want from a game where a sword-wielding Mega Man can knock Sonic the Hedgehog into a black hole created by Dr. Mario. Sure, the premise — ridiculous fights between your favorite characters — is the same, but with such a winning formula, why fix what ain’t broken?

Here’s the gist: Super Smash Bros. is a platform-centric fighting game series, the goal of which is to knock your fellow combatants off themed stages and into oblivion. Players pick one of a stable full of video game characters, like Princess Peach, Sonic, or Link, and duke it out in a variety of game-inspired arenas filled with bombs, laser guns, flowers, and the occasional giant dog, among the nearly 100 available weapons and other power-ups.

The original Super Smash Bros. debuted in 1999, and featured a dozen fighters pulled from Nintendo’s library of characters. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the fifth entry in the franchise, has a roster over 80 fighters deep. That includes every character from the previous games, plus some new contenders from Nintendo and other participating developers. Nintendo is also planning to release five paid downloadable content packs, each with a new fighter, stage, and accompanying music. The game’s breadth of choice is impressive, and you’re bound to recognize more than a handful of characters, each with their own signature moves and special abilities (save for the few characters with identical fighting styles but different looks, like Daisy and Peach).

New to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the inclusion of a single-player “World of Light” story mode, wherein you explore a stylized board game of a world as the roly-poly alien Kirby, sole survivor of an assault by the game’s antagonist. As you defeat evil versions of the game’s fighters and solve simple puzzles, you’ll add them to your roster, as well as collectible Spirits, non-playable minor characters from Nintendo and elsewhere that enhance your abilities (and replace the stickers and trophies from previous games). It’s also where the game takes its primary battle royale gameplay and adds an RPG-like element to the mix.

These single-player encounters are often subject to various conditions that can dramatically alter the gameplay. In some fights, your opponent might be triple the normal size, with your mandate being to knock them off the screen or reduce their health to zero. Other conditions might reduce your strength, flip your control scheme, make the floor extra slippery, or pit you against a half-dozen fighters at once.

While you can just as easily choose to ignore the spirits in every other mode, World of Light encourages you to collect, upgrade, and enhance your team of them. It’s surprisingly complex, and spirit types, stats, and abilities must be taken into account if you want to optimize your chances for success in each battle. Don’t like strategy in your brawlers? Don’t worry, there’s a handy button that lets the computer pick the appropriate squad before each match.

Ultimate’s showcase of minor characters from each franchise is cool, but it only goes as deep as a name and photo. There’s nothing in the vein of a summary or description, leaving you to Google the characters you’d like to know more about in a game that ostensibly basks in its storied history.

While you may lose track of time after each fight, unlocking the over 80 characters takes an unpleasantly long time. Even after putting in hours of fighting time, participating in other game modes, and unlocking fighters when they pop up for surprise challenges, I’ve only managed to unlock 25 more, none of them being the gun-toting witch Bayonetta despite me fighting against her at least twice.

There are a variety of other gameplay options built atop the fighting game’s core. The traditional six-round Classic mode is still available, in addition to new variants like Smashdown, which forces players to pick a new fighter after each battle, or Squad Strike, which makes tag-team fighting an option.

Customizable tournament brackets are also available for competitive players, and support for both local and online play — the latter requiring a subscription to the relatively inexpensive Nintendo Online service — means you can take on anyone if you’ve got an internet connection or another player in your midst. The fact that the Nintendo Switch comes with a pair of included Joy-Cons means you can even disconnect the two and host your own versus match whenever you please. They’re not perfect, and serious players may want to invest in a Switch Pro controller or try and obtain a GameCube controller, favored by diehard fans of the series.

Fights in Ultimate are frenetic, but don’t require a ton of technical skill if you choose to go the easy route. Combos are easy one or two-button affairs, making it easy to pick your favorite character and become familiar with their behavior. Timing is everything, and many characters move about surprisingly quickly. Success is dependent on you executing your signature moves without leaving yourself open to attack. The dozens of items available for use during fights can change the tide of battle, and the 100-plus arenas, each inspired by the games from which the characters originally hail, feature their own set of quirks that may help or hurt you during the course of a match.

Fights in Ultimate are also a real hoot, especially if you’ve got a room full of people playing together. The game supports up to eight players simultaneously. While it sounds great in theory, it turns the screen into a violent explosion of color, an unreadable mess of activity that will leave the victor more confused than the losers.

The sheer level of customization options when it comes to fights makes it easy to create a fighting game that appeals to everyone. Don’t like fighting on the Mario Kart-inspired arena? You’ve got over 100 stages to choose from, so take your pick of something else. Hate when someone throws a bomb at your face right when you recover from a nearly game-ending strike? Cherry-pick (or simply remove) every item from the match to determine which of your friends is the best player when the playing field is evened out.

The Super Smash Bros. series has long since established itself as a fighting game on par with icons like Street Fighter and Tekken. Ken and Ryu are even playable characters! Super Smash Bros. Ultimate cements that legacy, offering players more choices, customization, portability, and extras than most will ever choose to experience. Chances are you’ll never choose to fight as Wario, and you’ll leave a few (hundred) spirits lying around when you’re bored with the game’s story mode. But you’ll have a grand old time getting to know the fighters you love most, even if you did just get knocked into the stratosphere by Bowser Jr.’s errant Pokéball.

Source: Tech – TIME | 7 Dec 2018 | 12:50 pm

The Best Gifts Above $500 To Give This Holiday Season

It’s the holiday season, and you’re the kind of person for whom money is no object — or you just want to see how the other half gifts. Sound like you? Then check out our favorite gift options from $500 and above this year, from Dyson’s latest haircare innovation to a wildlife safari for charity.

VanMoof Electrified X2

Instead of riding your bike to work only to end up a sweaty mess, try VanMoof’s new Electrified X2 bike, which is powered by a battery inside the smart bike’s simple frame. Meanwhile, the outside boasts luxuries like an LED matrix display and an anti-theft system that lets users scare off potential bike thieves (and even track the bike if they’re dumb enough to take it). ($2,598, VanMoof) — Patrick Lucas Austin

OneWheel+ XR

The motorized balance board resembles a skateboard with a gigantic wheel in the middle, and lets riders go up to 19 miles per hour. Despite its unorthodox design, the Onewheel+ XR is easy to operate, can travel up to 18 miles on a single charge, and features customizable riding profiles for tackling different kinds of terrain. ($1,800, OneWheel) — Patrick Lucas Austin

Canon EOS R and Nikon Z7

The mirrorless revolution is upon us, and the “old guard” camera makers have finally arrived with praise-worthy models that can replace bulky old DSLRs. Both of these full-frame cameras are excellent, though I prefer the Canon for its fully flip-out screen that makes it a more useful video-recording tool. But your decision should probably come down to this: If you or whoever you’re buying for already has a bunch of Canon lenses, get the EOS R, if they have Nikon gear, get the Z7 — both companies offer adapters that’ll connect that older glass to these new bodies. ($2,299 for Canon EOS R; $3,396 for Nikon Z7, Amazon) — Alex Fitzpatrick

Dyson AirWrap

Following up the well-received Dyson Supersonic hairdryer, the company best known for its high-tech vacuums recently released the Airwrap, a hair curling-and-waving tool. Dyson says the Airwrap uses less heat than similar products, which in turn helps prevent hair damage. Like the Supersonic before it, it’s getting rave reviews from the haircare crowd, and would make a great gift for anyone who loves to style their hair every day but doesn’t want to risk burning it. ($550, Dyson) — Alex Fitzpatrick

Leica M10-D

Here’s a weird beast indeed: a digital Leica camera with no screen. M10-D users can only see their photos by connecting the camera to a companion smartphone app or uploading them to a computer. It’s meant to replicate the experience of shooting film (where you don’t really know what you’ve got until you develop your rolls) while also offering the convenience of digital photography. It’s an interesting gimmick, and one you could admittedly replicate with other digital cameras by resisting the temptation to peek at what you’ve shot. But using the M10-D feels like shooting a film Leica, and there’s something intangibly special about that. If money is no object, this is an especially great choice for anyone who waxes nostalgic for film’s heyday but embraces the benefits of digital. ($8,000, B&H Photo) — Alex Fitzpatrick

Naked Scale

Naked’s scale uses depth-sensing cameras and a rotating design to scan user’s physique, providing them with information like weight but also various other bodily measurements including BMI, information they can use to track their fitness progress. ($1,400, Naked Labs) — Patrick Lucas Austin

Plum Wine Dispenser

Instead of popping open a bottle of wine you might not finish, the Plum Wine Dispenser lets users keep up to two bottles chilled and ready to enjoy for up to 90 days. ($2,000, Plum) — Patrick Lucas Austin

Zero SR

Motorcycles are cool, but electric motorcycles are obviously cooler. The Zero SR lets you go green while you ride around town, and is styled like a naked sportsbike. It’s also got a range of nearly 230 miles before it’s time to refuel — er, recharge. ($16,500, Zero Motorcycles)Patrick Lucas Austin

LG CineBeam Projector

Of all the impressive gadgets and devices we tested this year for the 2018 TIME Best Inventions list, this was the one I wanted the most to keep. The extremely portable CineBeam projects a razor-sharp, 4K image up to 150 inches across on a living room wall, bedroom ceiling or even the side of a house. It’s great for movie-watching, video-gaming or for big backyard parties. One caveat: The laser tech inside the CineBeam will eventually die out and can’t be easily replaced, but LG says it’ll last the average user well over a decade, meaning owners will probably want to upgrade before that time comes anyway. ($3,000, Amazon) — Alex Fitzpatrick

BMW i8

If you think hybrid cars are boring, have a seat behind the wheel of BMW’s i8. The coupe, with its suicide doors and futuristic styling, features a carbon fiber frame, 374 horsepower, and a convertible option for some top-down driving through a few winding roads. (Starting at $147,500, BMW) — Patrick Lucas Austin

Natural World Safaris

Georgina Goodwin—Barcroft Media/Getty Images

A million bucks isn’t too much for the experience of a lifetime, right? Especially if it goes to a good cause, and guarantees the recipient the opportunity to see the world’s most endangered animals before it’s too late. Natural World Safaris is offering the opportunity to see 18 animal species on the edge of extinction, from Kenya’s northern white rhinos (two left in the wild) to Congo’s threatened gorillas, Madagascar’s black and white ruffled lemurs, bengal tigers in India, orangutans in Borneo, penguins in Antarctica and jaguars in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. Travelers on the Journey to Nature’s Edge voyage are personally escorted by top local guides in each destination, and get to meet some of the world’s leading conservationists while learning about local conservation projects for each species. A percentage of the trip’s cost goes to each project visited. ($1,000,000, Natural World Safaris) — Aryn Baker

Source: Tech – TIME | 7 Dec 2018 | 12:20 pm

The Best Gifts Between $250-$500 to Give This Holiday Season

It’s the holiday season, you’re on the hunt for something that’ll really wow your partner, parent or other loved one, and you’ve got some budget to play with. But what to get? These are our favorite gift options between $250-$500 this year, from a killer pair of headphones to Nintendo’s best video game console in years.

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo’s versatile Switch console has a variety of games to choose from, ranging from quirky party starters to serious first-person shooters. And the pair of detachable Joy-Con controllers makes multiplayer games easy to jump into. ($300, Amazon) — Patrick Lucas Austin

Sonos Beam

Getting a new TV for your home theater setup is great, but let’s face it: Even some of today’s most visually-impressive television sets still have just-OK sound quality at best. The Sonos Beam soundbar will give your movies, TV shows and video games a serious audio boost, making it seem like you’re in the middle of a theater. And it’s got Alexa built right in, so you can even ask it to turn your TV on and off for you, no remote control needed. ($400, Amazon) — Alex Fitzpatrick

Hopsy Beer Dispenser

Instead of getting your buddy some stodgy bottle of wine, surprise them with a subscription to Hopsy’s beer delivery service. You can choose from selection of brews to use with its compact, countertop beer dispenser machine that both chills your beer and keeps it fresh for weeks. ($239, Hopsy) — Patrick Lucas Austin

Life in Jeneral

Jess Koehler


The ideal gift for anyone living in chaos, California-based home organization company Life in Jeneral offers services for every level of need. Hire the team to overhaul an entire home or office from top to bottom, or work through solutions for smaller problem areas. For in-person clients, the team will help purge all your clutter, create a new organization plan and install each item into its new place using their favorite products. Virtual clients receive a personalized step-by-step plan, with the pros on standby to talk through any trouble spots. After the work is done, they’ll keep in touch and help with any adjustments that need to be made over time. (Starts at $185 per hour for in-person or $399 for virtual, Life in Jeneral) — Lucy Feldman

Master & Dynamic MW07

Truly wireless earbuds often sacrifice audio quality for portability. Master & Dynamic’s MW07 provides both, and does it with a design that’s both stylish and functional. ($300, Amazon) — Patrick Lucas Austin

Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody

Life in winter-prone places can be a constant quest for the perfect jacket. Ideally, you want something that’s warm but not overly bulky, and stylish to boot. I’ve found exactly that in Patagonia’s Down Sweater Hoody, a classic that took me far too long to embrace. Yes, everybody and their dog has this jacket. But there’s a reason for that: It’s excellent, and a great choice for pretty much anyone. ($279, Patagonia) — Alex Fitzpatrick

PlayStation VR

Sony’s virtual reality headset is one of the most value-packed VR options around, and uses a PlayStation 4 rather than an expensive gaming PC to deliver an immersive entertainment experience. ($272, Amazon) — Patrick Lucas Austin

Eero Home Wifi

You can give the gift of better internet using Eero’s Home Wifi mesh network routers. Instead of depending on a single router, Eero uses multiple, smaller routers to expand coverage and alleviate dead zones throughout a home. ($363, Amazon) — Patrick Lucas Austin

Wüsthof Classic Ikon knife set

There comes a time in every up-and-coming home cook’s life when they realize what they really need is a great set of knives. You can’t go wrong with this offering from Wüsthof, one of the best brands in cutlery. From a classic paring knife to an eight-inch bread knife, everything you’ll ever need to cut with is right here. ($400, Amazon) — Alex Fitzpatrick

Artiphon Instrument 1

The novel MIDI controller and digital instrument lets users become a one-man band, simulating a variety of instruments and boasting compatibility with a slew of music-making apps. ($400, Amazon) — Patrick Lucas Austin

Microsoft Surface Headphones

Microsoft’s new Surface headphones are feature-rich, look great, and include noise-cancelling that lets users tune out varying levels of sound by turning a dial. — ($350, Amazon) Patrick Lucas Austin

Apple Watch Series 4

Apple’s latest Apple Watch feels like what the company set out to make in the first place: A great smartwatch, fitness tracker and health monitor all rolled into one well-designed package. With a faster processor and new features — including a new sensor that can check your heart rhythm for signs of irregularities — it’s the best smartwatch on the market. ($400, Amazon) — Alex Fitzpatrick

Source: Tech – TIME | 7 Dec 2018 | 11:31 am

The Best Gifts Between $50-$250 To Give This Holiday Season

It’s the holiday season, and you’re likely looking for some great gifts for your family, friends, significant other and so on. If you’re hunting for options in the $50-250 range, these are some of our favorite gadgets, games, and services (doggy DNA tests, anyone?) to gift someone this year.

Embark Dog DNA Test Kit

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Many animal lovers prefer to rescue dogs from shelters rather than shell out for a purebred. Now, adopted dogs can trade in their “mutt” moniker for something far more precise. Through Embark, a doggy DNA test kit, a simple cheek swab revealed that our toast-colored rescue dog Fawn was not a mini Golden Retriever, as we had suspected. Instead, she’s a surprising blend of about 10 different breeds: 16.8% Chow Chow, 16.3% Cocker Spaniel, 14.9% German Shepherd and more. Embark also tests for certain health conditions and offers to connect pups who are genetically related, arming pet lovers with more knowledge about their companions. ($199, Embark) — Mandy Oaklander

Rothy’s Shoes

Rothy’s makes the rare “it” shoe that’s actually comfortable and stylish. These flats’ flexible knit outsole makes them a blister-free (and machine-washable) choice for commuters and kids alike, while their classic designs and wide range of colors and patterns promise a worthy addition to any wardrobe. The cherry on top? Each pair is sustainably made using recycled plastic water bottles, vegan and non-toxic adhesives and foam from other recycled shoes. (From $125 for adults and $65 for kids, — Jamie Ducharme

Monoprice Sous Vide

Sous Vide cooking is all the rage, and rightfully so. The process, wherein cooks put food in a plastic bag, dunk it in water and heat the water around it, can result in far better meals than with typical cooking methods. Get the home chef on your list a Monoprice Sous Vide, one of the most-recommended models, and they won’t be disappointed. Just make sure they invite you over to dinner as a thank-you. ($80, Amazon) — Alex Fitzpatrick

Google Home Hub

Google’s Home Hub is a perfect gift for someone new or just getting started with smart home gadgets. A smart speaker with a screen, it can show YouTube videos (like cooking instructions), the weather forecast or display your favorite photos. It’s also voice-controlled, making it a handy kitchen assistant. ($149, Google) — Patrick Lucas Austin

Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit

With the Harry Potter Coding Kit from Kano, kids can assemble and program their own wand while tackling challenges set in the Potterverse. It’s the perfect STEM gift for kids who love all things Potter. ($80, Amazon) — Patrick Lucas Austin

Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic

Like vinyl records and denim jackets, instant film is suddenly cool again. Fujifilm makes some of the best instant cameras around, including the Mini 90, which uses the company’s popular and easy-to-find Instax film. It’s beginner friendly but has options for more “serious” instant photographers too, like a double exposure mode that produces creative results. ($120, Amazon) — Alex Fitzpatrick

Philips Hue Lights

Philips and its Hue smart home lights are compatible with every voice assistant, and feature a variety of styles, price points, and extra features that let users customize the colorful LED bulbs. They even connect with Siri and other digital assistants for voice-activated controls. ($90, Amazon) — Patrick Lucas Austin

Beasts of Balance

It’s 2018. Ditch the Jenga and gift someone Beasts of Balance, which uses stackable animal figurines, cards, and a companion app to encourage both cooperative and competitive play. ($100, Amazon) — Patrick Lucas Austin

Anker PowerCore+ 20100

The gift of power when someone needs it is always appreciated. Anker’s PowerCore+ 20100 gives users more than enough juice to recharge their smartphone a few times over, and can charge the notoriously finicky Nintendo Switch without issue. ($70, Amazon) — Patrick Lucas Austin

Photobook of the Month Club

Got a photographer who’s serious about their hobby on your shopping list? Ignore all those lenses and tripods they want and get them a subscription to Charcoal’s Photobook of the Month Club instead. They’ll get a curated selection of the latest and greatest photography books across a variety of genres, a far better gift than new gear to help inspire up-and-coming shutterbugs’ creative streak. ($180 for three months, — Alex Fitzpatrick

Source: Tech – TIME | 7 Dec 2018 | 9:12 am

The Best Gifts Under $50 To Give This Holiday Season

With the holiday season upon us, many people are no doubt searching for the perfect gifts for everyone on their list. For those searching for the perfect gifts under $50 — perhaps as a stocking stuffer or for the office gift-swapping party — these are some of our favorite gadgets, subscriptions and other goodies under the $50 mark this year.

Quip Toothbrush

A toothbrush isn’t typically an exciting gift — but when it doubles as a piece of bathroom décor, all bets are off. Available in a range of stylish metallic and neon colors, Quip’s sleek battery-powered brushes, which pace out a dentist-approved two minutes of cleaning, are just as good for bathroom selfies as they are for oral hygiene. Bonus points for the convenient subscription service, which ships out new brush heads (and toothpaste, if you so choose) every three months. (From $25, not including brush refills, — Jamie Ducharme

Nat Geo “My Town” Custom Map Puzzle

Just enter an address and the National Geographic Store can turn the map of that spot — either a U.S. Geological Survey version or an aerial photographic view — into a jigsaw puzzle. (Canadian addresses and pricier “keepsake” options are available too.) These puzzles check all the boxes for a personalized and thoughtful present, and can be surprisingly tricky for 400 pieces. (About $45, NatGeo) — Lily Rothman

Big Mouth Billy Bass with Alexa

Alexa-enabled smart gadgets are all the rage, from Amazon’s own Echo speakers all the way up to Internet-connected refrigerators. But none of them are quite as much fun as this Big Mouth Billy Bass, an iconic artifact of the early 2000s delightfully reimagined for the smart home era. Ask it a question, and the fish’s mouth will move in sync with whatever Alexa’s response might be. Everyone on my shopping list is getting one of these, whether they like it or not. ($40, Amazon) — Alex Fitzpatrick

Scott’s Cheap Flights membership

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Know someone who wants $300 flights to Paris, or $200 getaways to Aruba? Of course you do. Budget international airfare service Scott’s Cheap Flights publicizes steals like these for free on its website — but it saves its best deals for premium subscribers, who enjoy members-only booking opportunities as well as perks like early alerts on new fares and exclusive bargains on domestic flights to Hawaii and Alaska. ($39/year, — Jamie Ducharme

Brainwavz S0 in-Ear Earbuds

Everyone needs earbuds, or at least a spare pair when their wireless headphones are dead. The Brainwavz S0 earbuds are inexpensive and deliver incredible sound quality for the comparatively low price. ($30, Amazon) — Patrick Lucas Austin

Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen

Trust us: Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen is light years away from the greasy, chalky, smelly formulas you grew up dreading on family trips to the beach. The lightweight, scentless gel goes on clear, sinks in almost immediately (no more embarrassing white spots) and doubles as an excellent makeup primer — all while offering SPF-40 protection, even when swimming or sweating. It’s a perfect stocking stuffer for anyone on your list, not to mention their dermatologist. ($32, — Jamie Ducharme

PlugBug Duo

The new MacBook may not have the older USB ports needed to charge many devices, but the TwelveSouth PlugBug Duo can help alleviate the headache. It adds an extra pair of USB-A ports to a MacBook’s charger, so users can keep their accessories charged without fretting over dongles. ($40, Amazon) — Patrick Lucas Austin

Maywa Denki Otamatone Synthesizer

What’s better than buying someone piano lessons for Christmas? Gifting an instrument they’ve probably never seen before. Shaped like an eighth note with a cartoonish face, the Otamatone creates kazoo-like noises when you slide your fingers along its stem and open its mouth. ($30, Amazon) — Patrick Lucas Austin

Three Months of Birchbox

Birchbox is a monthly subscription service for the cosmetics lover. Each subscriber completes a profile, then receives a personalized monthly box of five products. If you buy a three-month Birchbox subscription for your friend, mom, girlfriend or cousin, you’re paying $30 for 15 deluxe samples of products like perfume, mascara, bronzer or moisturizer. ($30, Birchbox) — Rachel Greenspan

Awesome coasters

Maybe you’re not very close with someone, but need to buy them a gift. Or you are close with them, but you’re strapped for cash and they just moved into a new place. A coaster set is the perfect holiday gift — especially for millennials who forgot they need to buy these. To make the gift more special, try to find a themed set that’s relevant to the recipient. ($13, Amazon) — Rachel Greenspan

Source: Tech – TIME | 7 Dec 2018 | 8:44 am

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