Automate your basic devices with two TP-Link smart plugs for $25

TP-Link HS110 smart plug

Today’s the day to turn that dumb coffee pot or lamp into a smart device. B&H Photo Video has a great sale today for a two-pack of the TP-Link HS110 Kasa Wi-Fi Smart Plug for $25. That’s close to Amazon’s $20 price on Prime Day 2018, but that sale price was for a single device. B&H’s sale ends just before midnight Eastern time on Tuesday night.

The HS110 packs 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and works with Google Assistant and Alexa devices. As with other TP-Link smart devices, these plugs don’t require a hub to work. Instead, you download TP-Link’s Kasa app, connect the plugs to your home Wi-Fi via your phone, and you’re done (at least until the power goes out and you have to reset them).

Once they’re set up you can use remote access to activate a light or whatever you’ve got plugged into it. Or you can schedule specific times for the smart plug to activate your electronics. This smart plug also comes with energy monitoring built-in, which is great for anyone curious about how much power they’re using up with that coffee pot or gaming console. One downside: The HS110 is bulky, taking up both plugs in a two-jack outlet.

We balked at the original $40 asking price in our TP-Link HS110 review, but those qualms disappear when you can snag two of them for just $25.


Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

This is the Tigor JTP. It is a look-better, go-faster version of the regular Tata Tigor. And, according to Tata Motors, if this – and its hatchback sibling, the Tiago JTP – manage to garner even five per cent of the volume of the regular versions, JTP will be slapped on other Tata cars as well. Possibly even the likes of the Nexon and the upcoming Tata Harrier.

So, what’s different?

Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

Quite a bit actually. But first, the similarity. The shell, the construction, the panels, the vendor base, and the production line is all identical to the Tigor. But, instead of the naturally aspirated 1.2-litre petrol engine, the Tigor JTP gets the turbocharged version of the same engine.

And that’s not all. With change in boost pressure, throttle and engine mapping, the engine under the JTP hood makes 112bhp compared to 84bhp of the regular Tigor. The peak torque, meanwhile, has gone up to 150Nm. And, it’s flatter too. The JTP continues to use the same gearbox as the regular Tigor, albeit with a shorter final drive, and different gear ratios.

The suspension has been worked upon as well. It is stiffer and marginally lower than the regular car. The steering too has been recaliberated. And, the JTP runs on bigger, wider wheels with tyres that have slightly stiffer sidewalls.

Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

There are some styling tweaks as well. For starters, the Tigor JTP can only be had in White or Red paint hues. We prefer the white. It gets a contrasting black roof, red ORVMs, clear lens tail lamps, and a gloss black strip that runs between the tail lamps. And yes, there’s an overload of JTP bagding as well – grille, side vents, boot lid, you name it, and it’s there.

Inside, everything remains the same as the Tigor XZ. So, there’s a multifunctional steering wheel, climate control, a trip computer, a touchscreen multimedia system, electric adjust for ORVMs, and power windows all round. The JTP also comes with dual front air bags and ABS as standard, like the XZ.

The accents inside though are sportier. The aircon vents have a red outline; one gets faux drilled pedals; leather wrap for the steering; and a black seat with red stitching and a honeycomb motif in the centre.

Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

But, does it drive any different?

Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

The proof of the pudding is in eating it. Tata and Jayem, the two companies who have co-developed this car, seem to agree. So, the focus wasn’t just on making the Tigor look more desirable in JTP clothing, but to make it desirable for the driving enthusiast as well.

Now, as we mentioned earlier, the engine is from the Nexon, but with even more power. The company has claimed a 0-100kmph time of 10 seconds, which puts it in the same league as the Baleno RS and faster than the Polo GT TSI. Also, this makes the JTP six seconds quicker than the standard Tigor petrol! We haven’t tested the JTP ourselves yet, but, after having driven it, the 10 second figure feels completely believable. It does feel quick, the Tigor JTP.

Now, the JTP has two driving modes –  City and Sport. In City, the Tigor JTP feels more alive than the regular car, then be it the mid or top range pull or the throttle response. But, switch to Sport, and it turns into a completely different car! Especially in the way it pulls from 3,000rpm almost all the way to its near 6,000rpm redline. It pleasantly surprises you. It makes you smile. And it makes you want the car.

Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

The engine revs freely. The turbo lag doesn’t feel so much like lag. In fact, it’s more like a step up switch. A step up in performance that is. The gear shifts are light, precise, and the throws are short. And though there’s a hint of delay in the car’s response when you stamp on the throttle, once on, the throttle response is crisp and easy to modulate. Having said that, we did find it a bit jerky at times, especially at higher revs in a lower gear.

Back to the performance, and the Tigor JTP accelerates – be it from a standstill or under roll-on – with the vigour one can comfortably associate with a 100bhp plus car. In fact, the Tigor JTP gets deep into three digit speeds with ease. And sits there without effort as well. It feels planted, confident, and unwavering in a straight line, even at these high speeds. If there’s one thing it needs though, it is better feel at the brake pedal, and a stronger brake bite.

Now, we didn’t subject the JTP to hard cornering around a switchback, but we did go around fast, sweeping corners. We also made some quick lane change manouvres. And on both occasions, it was evident that the change in geometry resulting from altered suspension setup, has made the Tigor’s front end a quicker responding one in JTP guise. It’s still not a go-kart, but it makes the Tigor feel lighter, more responsive, and involving than the stock car.

Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

The ride on the other hand is stiffer than the regular car, and the travel is marginally less as well. Not surprisingly, at slow speeds the car rides the bumps instead of flattening them. But, unless you hit a square-edged pothole, the ride never feels harsh. Then, at higher speeds – anything over 60-70kmph – the suspension comes into its own.

Be it undulating roads, pockmarked surfaces, or ruts and rumblers, the Tigor JTP simply glides over it all. And, it never really wallows, weaves, or washes out, no matter how unexpected or pronounced the bump or dip. But, it’s the car’s ability to come back to its steady state in lightning quick time instead of pogoing on its springs, that makes it special. Not, only does this add to the driver’s confidence, it aids both comfort and safety. The latter comes to the fore when one has to make an evasive manoeuvre.

As far as steering goes, only the EPS has been recaliberated for weight. It’s still a three turns lock-to-lock steering, so it isn’t the quickest in the business. But, it proved to be effortless to twirl around in the city, and it weighed up enough at speed to cut out the twitchness. But, like the regular Tigor, this one doesn’t brim with feel either.

Our take

Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

The philosophy behind cars carrying the JTP badging is simple. These will, for the time being, be based on existing Tata Motors models. And, to carry the JTP badge, these cars must have improved engine performance, sportier exterior and interior, and better driving dynamics and sound, compared to the stock car.

On that front the Tigor JTP hits the nail on the head. Okay, it could sound better. It could also do with more refinement. Maybe, the throttle response could be more linear. And lower, more snug seats would be welcome too. But, when it comes to balancing ride and handling, or usability and driving fun, the Tigor JTP is spot on.

Yes, the real hardcore driving enthusiast would like even more performance, even crisper handling, a much lower ride height, and not to mention louder acoustics. But, the current JTP setup makes the Tigor acceptable, agreeable, and even desirable to not just the young and hardcore, but even to guys like me who are married, have kids, and can only afford one car, but don’t want to be stuck with a boring everyday family car.

Tata Tigor JTP Launch Drive Review

Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi


HP Spectre x360 13 (2018) hands on: ‘Whiskey Lake’ power sits alongside 22 hours of battery life

HP Spectre x360 13

HP Spectre x360 13
Mark Hachman / IDG
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HP’s flagship HP Spectre x360 13 convertible laptop has previously won PCWorld’s Editor’s Choice award on the strength of its frequent, substantive improvements. Its 2018 update offers even more: incredible battery life (22.5 hours!), a new Intel “Whiskey Lake” processor, eSIM LTE, and even a webcam “kill switch.”

What you’ll immediately notice, though, is a faceted chassis design that angles the corners and offsets the power connections and USB-C port. On the side of the chassis is also a small red switch that electrically disables the webcam, actually removing the driver from Windows.

HP debuted two versions of the Spectre x360 13 in 2017, and what was noteworthy about the excellent late 2017 Spectre x360 13 was its leap to an 8th-gen, quad-core part. Intel still calls its latest quad-core “Whiskey Lake” chip an 8th-gen processor too, but there’s less of an emphasis on performance. HP believes you’ll see a boost of about 13 percent in 3DMark performance from the previous x360 generation, but a whopping 37-percent increase in battery life to a rated 22.5 hours. In part, that’s because the new Spectre x360 uses a 1-watt display panel that still manages to pump out a maximum of 400 nits of luminosity.

HP Spectre x360 13

Mark Hachman / IDG

HP designed its Spectre x360 for your professionals, with battery life among its primary characteristics.

HP Spectre x360 13 (2018) prices, features and specs

  • Display: 13.3-inch (3840×2160) WLED;13.3-inch (1920×1080) WLED with either HP SureView privacy protection or HP BrightView; protected by Corning Gorilla Glass NBT
  • CPU: 1.6GHz Core i5-8265U; 1.8GHz Core i7-8565U (“Whiskey Lake”)
  • GPU: Intel HD 620
  • Memory: 8GB-16GB, DDR4
  • Storage: 256GB-512GB SSD
  • Ports: 1 USB-A, 2 USB-C (Thunderbolt, fast charging), mic/headphones
  • Wireless: dual eSIM LTE support, gigabit WiFi
  • Security: IR camera; fingerprint reader
  • Battery: 60Wh
  • Chassis: CNC-machined aluminum in either “Dark Ash Silver/Copper Luxe Accents” or “Poseidon Blue/Pale Brass Accents”
  • Dimensions: Exact dimensions are unknown, but it’s 14mm thin and 2.9 pounds—slightly thicker and heavier than the previous generation.
  • Optional accessories: Ink Certified Pen (included); HP Spectre Tilt rechargeable Pen; HP Spectre Rechargeable Mouse 700
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home
  • Price: Beginning at $1,150
  • Shipping: December (Best Buy)

Hands on with the HP Spectre x360 13

(Editor’s note: Our hands-on was conducted at an HP event which showed off a new HP Spectre 15 x360 as well, emphasizing performance rather than battery life.)

Under the dim lights of a recent HP launch event, it was difficult to distinguish between the new Dark Ash Silver and Poseidon Blue colors. But the accent metals used on the corners gleam. And speaking of the corners—they’re gone. Well, sort of. On each of the rear corners, HP has angled the corners to include a power button on one side and a Thunderbolt-enabled USB-C connector on the other. Because the new x360 is USB-C powered, that means that the power cord can be attached at a convenient angle, or connected via the side of the Spectre, using the other port.

HP Spectre x360 13

Mark Hachman / IDG

HP widened its speaker grille and reshaped it to give it a geometric bent.

Honestly, the new faceted design is a bit gratuitous, as a USB-C slot at the side or rear of the notebook is just fine. But HP has always tried to make its products visually distinctive, and it’s a stylistic flourish that you’ll instantly identify with the Spectre line.

HP Spectre x360 13

Mark Hachman / IDG

The rear corners have been squared off to give the Spectre laptops this “faceted” look. On the right side of the Spectre x360 13, there’s a pair of USB-C ports (with Thunderbolt), the headphone jack, and the new webcam kill switch.

Held in the hand, the Spectre x360 (2018) was both bright and light. The display can blast  out up to 400 nits, even with the new 1-watt panel technology—a huge deal, and one of the most important announcements to come out of Computex this year. The new, ultra-efficient panel minimizes one of the most power-hungry components within a PC. Even though the battery remains unchanged from the Spectre x360 (2017) at 60Wh, HP executives described the reduction in panel power as one of the key enablers of its massive increase in battery life—pushing into the territory carved out by Qualcomm Snapdragon chips, but with a traditional x86 architecture.

To our eyes, the Spectre x360 13’s new display appeared both bright and color-accurate. You also have the option of buying a SureView-equipped panel, which helps reduce visibility to viewers to your left and right, preserving privacy. HP also said it trimmed the bezel size by just under 6 percent, the majority at the bottom of the screen.

Power plays a role in other changes, as well. The Spectre x360 13 (2018) includes an improved thermal architecture, which adds a bit of thickness and weight—it’s about a millimeter thicker, and 0.05 lb heavier. At 2.9 pounds, the Spectre x360 felt sturdy, but not overly heavy.

HP Spectre x360 13 pen

Mark Hachman / IDG

HP’s pen ships with the Spectre x360 13.

HP has also included a “Performance HP Command Center” app that offers three modes: performance, cool, and quiet. We weren’t able to tell how the different modes affected performance and battery life, but the “quiet” mode runs the fan at minimum speed or turns it off entirely, if possible. (Because the demo room was pretty loud, we weren’t able to accurately judge its effects.)

Three other details distinguish the Spectre x360 13 (2018) from its predecessor, the 2017 model. First, there’s a wider, “micro-drilled speaker grille,” which allows what HP calls better acoustic transparency from the traditional Bang & Olufsen-certified speakers. What we’d expect from this would be a louder, clearer sound, but we didn’t have a chance to compare one generation to the other.

HP Spectre x360 13

Mark Hachman / IDG

The fingerprint reader has been returned to its traditional position on the palm rest.

Enhancements to privacy, security

The second feature is a novel take on webcam privacy: a “kill switch” that appears on the right side of the Spectre x360 13 (2018). When flipped on, the laptop’s webcam is electrically switched off. That’s no joke: If you go to into the Windows Task Manager while flipping the “kill switch” to on, the webcam driver actually disappears from the driver list, like so:

Is this a better solution than the physical ThinkShutter on the Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon (6th Gen), or the wacky pop-up webcam of the Huawei Matebook Pro X? We’ll have to test it to be sure. (It seems that all three solutions leave the mic enabled unless you manually disable it.) There’s also an IR camera for biometric logins.

Finally, what the side of the Spectre doesn’t have anymore is a fingerprint sensor. With the 2017 Spectre x360 generation, HP argued that the side-mounted sensor facilitated logging into the laptop in whichever mode it was in: a laptop configuration, tent mode, or folded back. HP now puts the fingerprint sensor where most other laptop makers place it: on the palm rest, which makes more sense.

Granted, we couldn’t test a number of features in just the short time we were able to examine the Spectre x360 13, not the least of which include the new chip inside of it. Choice features like dual eSIM should allow always-on connectivity both at home and abroad, and the new gigabit Wi-Fi capabilities should speed downloads dramatically—provided you have a compatible router or access point.

As for the flagship feature, battery life: Based on our tests of the HP Spectre x360 (2017), it seems that our tests usually confirm about 80 percent of HP’s claimed battery life. That would put HP’s eye-popping claim of 22.5 hours of battery life closer to 18 hours—still a massive amount. We’ll have the full report once we can get our hands on one.


2018 Mini Oxford Edition: Now in pictures

2018 Mini Oxford Edition: Now in pictures

Mini Cooper fans are going to love this. The Oxford Edition of the Mini Cooper is now available in India. This limited edition is based on the classic three-door Cooper S model and pays a tribute to the brand’s British heritage. It’s a stylish take on the hot hatch that proves to be a stand out in terms of design and exclusivity. Feast your eyes on this picture gallery of the Mini Oxford edition.

2018 Mini Oxford Edition

This special Oxford edition of the Cooper will be limited to 25 units in our country and offered in two colour options – 15 in solaris orange and 10 in midnight black.

2018 Mini Oxford Edition

The surrounds around the headlamps, radiator grille and tail lights are blackened out instead of chrome. Featuring black door handles and fuel filler cap, the ORVMs are painted in black or orange.

2018 Mini Oxford Edition

A contrasting roof and matte black decals on the bonnet and on the sides are subtle changes that might not catch your attention.

2018 Mini Oxford Edition

But what’s definitely eye-catching is the John Cooper Works rear spoiler and an aerodynamic kit. Also, the 17-inch alloy wheels finished in black and twin chrome exhaust tips are quite appealing.

2018 Mini Oxford Edition

Oh yes, and there’s an overload of the Union Jack badging that can be found at various places on the exterior like the tail lights and side scuttles.

2018 Mini Oxford Edition

This national flag of the UK can be seen inside the cabin too on the steering wheel, door sill finishers, leather upholstery, illuminated dashboard and even the LED door projection.

2018 Mini Oxford Edition

What’s new is an 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with a touchpad controller. This unit is a Harmon Kardon audio system with 12 speakers supporting Apple CarPlay connectivity and navigation.

2018 Mini Oxford Edition

Powering the Mini Oxford Edition is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine churning out 189bhp and 280Nm of torque. It comes mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

2018 Mini Oxford Edition

Sport and Green are two driving modes the car comes equipped with. Apart from this an auto start/stop function with brake energy recuperation, active cooling air flaps and a head-up display is standard.

2018 Mini Oxford Edition

The Oxford Edition is equipped with many safety features like airbags, ABS with brake assist, Dynamic Stability Control, traction control, Crash Sensor and Cornering Brake Control.


Away from caravan, other migrants travel out of spotlight

A small group of Honduran migrants trying to reach the U.S. border walk along train tracks in Trancas Viejas, Veracruz state, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018. As a caravan of thousands of Central Americans renewed their slow march toward the U.S. on Wednesd

On a day when a migrant caravan of several thousand was still crawling through far southern Mexico, hundreds of young men were walking swiftly between train rides more than 200 miles to the north.

Some of them had left Honduras the same day as those in the caravan. One had left a week later. The difference: They were moving along one of the traditional Central American migrant trails, riding the freight trains known as La Bestia, or “the beast,” that have been speeding — and maiming — migrants on their journey toward the U.S. border for decades.

While world attention has been focused on the migrant caravan numbering an estimated 4,000 people for the past two weeks, thousands of other migrants have continued their steady flow north on well-trod migratory routes. It’s a faster option — and those taking it hope may help them fly under the radar while Mexican authorities focus on the slow-moving caravan.

In fiscal 2018, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehended more than 396,000 migrants who crossed the southwest border illegally. Just the ones who were caught in a week amount to more than the estimated 7,000 traveling in the caravan at its peak.

One afternoon this week, at the spot where a set of mud-packed railroad tracks crossed a rural backroad in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, figures emerged walking in the distance. Every few minutes more groups — of eight, 10, 12 young men — came into view.

They said they had gotten off a train that had stopped an hour’s walk away and were trying to make it to a migrant shelter before nightfall.

Cesar Ferrera, wearing a green shirt and black jeans covered in grime from the train, said he left his home in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on Oct. 13, the same day the caravan departed, but never considered joining it.

“The train takes you much more quickly, and they are walking slowly and are super behind,” Ferrera said. “We are, wow, way ahead.”

He estimated there were 500 to 600 people just like him on the train that crossed the Guatemalan border into Mexico, passing town after town in southern Chiapas state in recent days.

His reasons for leaving were identical to many of those traveling in the caravan. Work was hard to find and what was available didn’t pay enough to support a family. Crime was an ever-present threat. The 28-year-old left his two children at home along with his wife.

“More than anything, the government doesn’t solve people’s problems,” Ferrera said.

He was working as a private security guard at a mall in San Pedro Sula last December and had to fight off looters in the disturbances that followed President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s contested re-election, which was marred by irregularities and denounced as outright fraudulent by Hernandez’s opponent. He said he was not making enough to risk his life protecting someone else’s property.

Since leaving Honduras two weeks ago, he hasn’t had access to news about President Donald Trump’s threats of sealing the border to stop the caravan, but said he was undeterred.

Those living along the tracks in Trancas Viejas didn’t blink an eye at the sight of dozens of young men walking by their homes.

Estefana Reves Cardenas has lived there for more than 15 years. Sometimes the migrants ride the train past, but it’s also common to hear them walking by throughout the night. She couldn’t remember ever having a problem with any of the young men, pregnant women and children who have passed.

“We give them a bit of food,” Reves said. “Not everyone, because they are so many and they all want some.”

It was Manuel Hernandez’s first time attempting the trip.

The 23-year-old farmer from Santa Barbara, Honduras, had started travelling six days earlier and had heard some of Trump’s threats about the caravan.

“Yes, we heard, but we are going to try it,” Hernandez said. “It is an adventure.”

He preferred to travel this way on his own because the caravan attracted a lot more attention.

“One person alone,” he said, “that’s the way.”

Hernandez, who has family in Washington, D.C., said he was sure he could find a landscaping job there.

Noting that he’d be “very close” to Trump, he chuckled and said maybe he would “visit him.”


Panasonic announces Eluga Z1 and Eluga Z1 Pro with big batteries

Panasonic India launched two upper mid-rangers earlier this month and now introduced two entry level handsets to continue the expansion of its portfolio – Panasonic Eluga Z1 and Panasonic Eluga Z1 Pro pack Helio P22 chipsets, AI Face Unlock, and big batteries.

Both devices share the same 6.19” notched screen with HD+ resolution and Dragon Trail Pro protection glass on top. The main camera is 13 MP + 2 MP, while the front-facing shooter is 8 MP, both setups coupled with an LED flash. The regular Eluga Z1 has 3 GB RAM and 32 GB internal storage, while the Eluga Z1 Pro comes with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage; both with a microSD slot for up to 128 GB more.

The battery is 4,000 mAh, which sounds impressive, but it is charged through a microUSB port on the bottom. The OS is Android 8.1 Oreo which Panasonic coupled with Arbo Hub. The pre-installed app promises “go-to solutions for all needs” like booking cabs, comparing fares, live cricket updates, news reports, paying the bills, weather updates, etc.

Panasonic Eluga Z1 (Pro) Panasonic Eluga Z1 (Pro) Panasonic Eluga Z1 (Pro) Panasonic Eluga Z1 (Pro)
Panasonic Eluga Z1 (Pro)

Dimensions of the phone are 157.2 x 76.3 x 8.1 mm with a weight of 169 grams. The back panel and the rim of the Eluga are from metal and arrive in three colors – Black, Gold, Blue. The regular Z1 costs INR14,490, while the Z1 Pro goes for INR17,490. Both will be available at offline retailers starting October 31.


Florida man, Cesar Sayoc Jr., arrested in probe of mail bombs targeting Obama, Clinton and other Trump critics

A 56-year-old man, Cesar Sayoc Jr., was arrested Friday morning in Florida in the investigation of 12 suspected mail bombs sent to former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other leading Democratic critics of President Donald Trump.

Sayoc, a registered Republican voter who lives in Aventura, Florida, will face federal criminal charges for the mailed devices, according to NBC News.

The Brooklyn, New York, native, previously was arrested, in Florida in 2002, on a charge of threatening to throw a bomb. He received probation in that case, without having been convicted.

Read more: Cesar Sayoc charged with five federal crimes in bomb plot

“I’m as surprised as anybody,” said Daniel Lurvey, a Florida criminal defense lawyer who represented Sayoc in several cases in which Sayoc had been charged with theft from retail stores.

At the time, Lurvey said, Sayoc was doing work as a bouncer for a group of male dancers similar to Chippendales.

“He was a normal guy. Somebody I would never think he’d be capable of something like this, if he is responsible,” Lurvey said.

The attorney said Sayoc never discussed anything “political” during their meetings about his criminal cases.

Records show that Sayoc also was arrested in 2015 for violating probation in a case in which he first was charged with grand theft and battery.

A mugshot of suspected package bomber Cesar Sayoc Jr. 

A mugshot of suspected package bomber Cesar Sayoc Jr.

Sayoc also had previously been arrested in Florida on charges of possession of steroids.

In 1994, a woman who had the same name as Sayoc’s grandmother accused him of domestic violence in the civil division of domestic violence court in Broward County, Florida. If it was Sayoc’s grandmother, she would have been about 80 years old at the time.

Sayoc filed for bankruptcy in 2012, public records show.

The Justice Department has scheduled a news conference in the case at 2:30 p.m., Eastern time.

Police on Friday seized a van that had been parked outside an AutoZone store in Plantation, Florida.

FBI investigate a van owned by a suspect who was arrested in relation to the a series of package bombs that were sent to leading democrats, in Plantation, Fla on Oct. 26th, 2018.

FBI investigate a van owned by a suspect who was arrested in relation to the a series of package bombs that were sent to leading democrats, in Plantation, Fla on Oct. 26th, 2018.

Investigators were examining a white van plastered with stickers carrying Trump’s name and the presidential seal, according to MSNBC. The network said authorities were looking at “right-wing paraphernalia” found at the scene.


Samsung teases the Galaxy A8s with a camera hole in the screen

In a recent change of strategy, Samsung decided to start implementing new tech into the mid-range lineup if it’s available, rather than withhold stuff so flagships can get it first. And with the recent quad and triple camera Galaxy A9 (2018) and Galaxy A7 (2018) smartphones, it looks like the company is already executing its plan.

And to top it off, the company just teased the arrival of Galaxy A8s at the end of the Galaxy A9s and A6s announcement event. The new phone will be a first of its kind with a hole in the upper left corner of the display. The hole is for the front-facing camera and will most likely integrate the rest of the sensors as well – for proximity and ambient light.

This would eliminate the need for a notch, preserve screen real estate and allow for an almost bezel-less full-screen experience. The spokesperson on the stage restrained from disclosing more about the phone, so specs, availability and price are yet a mystery but we will probably hear more about it soon enough.


There’s a major reason for this stock sell-off that people are missing, and it’s only getting worse

Banknotes of the U.S. Dollar on January 25, 2018.

The October stock market sell-off has been puzzling to many investors because most companies are riding high on business confidence and a tax-cut windfall.

Plus, profit growth has been solid, and many companies have been beating expectations on strong sales numbers and a positive outlook.

Most important thing to watch next week  

But one real worry cited on post-earnings conference calls is the rising U.S. dollar, which makes business overseas more expensive for U.S. companies. The strong dollar was cited by companies as varied as Anheuser-Busch and PPG Industries.

And it’s a problem that is only getting worse. The gains in the U.S. Dollar Index, a measure of the greenback against a basket of major currencies, are accelerating, up another 2 percent in the last one month. By no coincidence, the S&P 500 has headed lower at the same time.

3M revised its earnings per share estimate to include a 5 cent per share hit from currency translation. It previously had factored in a gain of 10 cents a share. And United Parcel Service said currency fluctuations could be a drag of $35 million to $45 million in the fourth quarter.

Add that to rising interest rates, rising fuel costs and the early effects of tariffs on imports of steel, aluminum and other manufacturing materials, and executives have struck a more cautious tone for the near term, though the overall message is still positive.

The dollar was higher versus most currencies again on Friday morning as stock futures pointed to another big drop.

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“The market doesn’t believe 2019 growth is going to be anywhere near what it is expected to be,” said Nick Raich, CEO of research firm Earnings Scout.

Raich adds that there’s no evidence any of these fears will come true. Estimates for 2019 first- and second-quarter earnings have actually inched up, he said. And revenue growth of 8 percent for the S&P 500 companies that have reported so far is outpacing expense growth.

‘Unfavorable impact’

Anheuser-Busch on Thursday slashed its dividend in half and said beer sales fell during the third quarter. Currency volatility is a challenge for the brewing giant, which bought U.K.-based SABMiller in 2016. “In the last six months, we’ve seen a lot of [currency] volatility,” Chief Financial Officer Felipe Dutra told reporters on a conference call Thursday, as reported by Reuters. “This scenario triggers some sort of uncertainty and at a certain point … we thought it was the right time to adjust the dividend.”

PPG, an industrial bellwether, said currency turned into a headwind the third quarter as the dollar strengthened. Currency translation lowered sales $80 million and pretax income took a hit of $15 million. It also said sales could be cut $50 million to $60 million in the fourth quarter because of the “unfavorable impact” of currency translation.

Illinois Took Works said year-over-year earnings growth of 11 percent, to $1.90 per share, was on the high end of its range but included 3 cents a share of “unfavorable currency translation impact.”

Companies have had to adjust to account for the stronger dollar. “We’ve taken some other actions around the emerging markets and initiatives to ensure that we can overcome that,” UPS CFO Richard Peretz said on a call with analysts. “That’s one of the reasons we’ve called out the guidance for the total company to remain where we expect it to be even given this new headwind.”

Currency isn’t the only extra cost companies are facing. On Thursday, Southwest Airlines reported record third-quarter profit that beat expectations, then burst the bubble by saying its costs were going up more than expected, largely because of fuel. American Airlines said a 42 percent increase in fuel costs ate into its third-quarter profit despite record revenue.

More than one-third of companies reporting earnings so far have mentioned the Trump administration’s tariffs. Harley Davidson said it will pay at least $40 million more this year to cover such costs.

Estimates for next year reflect optimistic company guidance on sales and their ability to pass some of the higher costs on to customers, Morgan Stanley analysts said in a note last week. But tech is more vulnerable to profit-margin pressure, they said, as are consumer discretionary and transportation stocks.

Texas Instruments, like other semiconductor companies, is also seeing weakness ahead. While it beat profit expectations, it issued a weaker fourth-quarter outlook blaming slower demand. “We are heading into a softer market,” CFO Rafael Lizardi said on a conference call this week. “We believe this is mostly driven by a slowdown in semiconductors.” That slowdown, executives said, comes after several years of strong growth.


Mi Mix 3 poster shows blue and green colors, confirms rear fingerprint reader

It appears that someone put out a Mi Mix 3 poster a bit too early. The poster doesn’t show a lot that we didn’t already know but it still confirms cool looking green and blue variants. And we get to see the rear-mounted fingerprint reader.

The theory of in-display fingerprint was initially thrown around and since the Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro and Explorer Edition were both equipped with the tech, it sounded legit. But then the first photo of the back panel leaked the other day made us think twice.

At least the Mi Mix 3 offers advanced 3D face unlocking tech on the slider so if you are not a fan of the fingerprint placement, there’s always an alternative.