Alibaba’s shopping event sales hit $1 billion in 85 seconds

Alibaba’s shopping event sales hit $1 billion in 85 seconds


Alibaba

Chinese internet giant Alibaba is fond of crowing about its online shopping records, and that’s truer than ever this year. The company’s annual Global Shopping Festival, aka Singles Day, broke last year’s record by selling $30.8 billion in goods across 230 countries over the space of 24 hours, a hefty 27 percent increase over the $25.3 billion from 2017. However, the initial burst also stood out. It took just 85 seconds for Alibaba to sell its first $1 billion, and an hour to top $10 billion. That’s well past US holiday sales — for context, Black Friday 2017 ‘only’ generated $5 billion in online sales.

The brands that most profited from the event included Apple, Dyson, Gap and Nike, among other big names.

While not everyone is necessarily keen to celebrate a shopping frenzy (the event is basically an ode to unfettered consumerism), it’s also no mean feat considering the obstacles Alibaba had to face. US tariffs potentially affected the cost of some products, and the Chinese yuan isn’t worth as much as it was a year earlier. Alibaba also cut its revenue expectations as a result of its less-than-certain future. This suggests that the festival is large enough to be independent of the ups and downs of China — like it or not, it’s a cultural institution for some people.

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Netflix for Wii will stop working after January 31st, 2019

Netflix for Wii will stop working after January 31st, 2019


Reuters/Issei Kato

Do you have an old Wii hooked up in the bedroom solely to watch Netflix? You might want to look for an alternative in the near future. Netflix has emailed customers and posted a notice warning that Nintendo will “suspend” Netflix and other streaming video services on the Wii after January 31st, 2019. The shutdown will come alongside the closure of the Wii Shop channel and suggests that the 2006-era console won’t be useful for much more than playing offline games (but only the ones you already have copies of) as of next year.

Netflix unsurprisingly didn’t have alternatives besides pointing users to newer hardware. “We hope you’ll soon enjoy an even better Netflix experience with additional features on a supported device,” it said.

This isn’t exactly shocking. The Wii is 12 years old, and Nintendo started phasing out channels in 2013. Moreover, Netflix is much more ubiquitous than it was when the app reached the Wii. If your TV doesn’t have Netflix built-in, you can likely get a streaming device for a fraction of what the Wii cost even toward the end of its life. This leaves you one less choice if you’re using an older TV with limited input options, though. And let’s face it — it’ll be a little heart-wrenching if you have to retire your Wii for good, even if you haven’t played a game on it for years.

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Facebook reportedly pressured Palmer Luckey to support a politician

Facebook reportedly pressured Palmer Luckey to support a politician


Associated Press

When Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey left Facebook, neither said exactly why. The implication that it was due to his quiet donation to a group spreading pro-Trump memes. Now, however, we might have a better idea — and it raises questions about Facebook’s behavior as much as it does Luckey’s. The Wall Street Journal has obtained emails and sources indicating that Facebook executives, including Mark Zuckerberg, pressured Luckey to publicly support libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson after word of the donation got out. Moreover, Luckey’s exit wasn’t voluntary. The company placed him on leave and eventually fired him, albeit with an exit package worth “at least” $100 million.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Facebook fired Luckey because of his ideology. Some of the WSJ‘s Facebook contacts said the greater issues were Luckey’s lack of transparency and his reduced role in Oculus’ day-to-day business. He had insisted he hadn’t made posts on the pro-Trump group, but that contradicted emails Luckey reportedly sent to a Daily Beast journalist. In a statement, Facebook said “unequivocally” that it didn’t fire Luckey over his political views, and said that any discussion of politics was “entirely up to him.”

Luckey has publicly shied away from explaining the circumstances behind the exit, and in a statement characterized it as in the past. However, the sources said that he hired a lawyer who claimed Facebook violated California law by both pushing him to support a politician and allegedly punishing him for political activity.

If the reports are accurate, they could put Facebook’s political leanings under closer scrutiny. While Zuckerberg testified to the Senate that the generally left-leaning company didn’t let its politics affect its content moderation, that might not have been the case for its executive lineup. And that, in turn, could draw concern from conservatives who already have questions about Facebook’s political leanings. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Facebook’s approach to Luckey reflected its approach to content. It won’t help the company’s image, however.

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Microsoft vows to improve Windows app store with gamers in mind

Microsoft vows to improve Windows app store with gamers in mind


Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Many PC gamers shy away from the Microsoft Store (aka Windows Store), and for good reasons: it frequently doesn’t support overlays and other commonly used features, and it’s buggy compared to a platform like Steam. Thankfully, Microsoft might just feel their pain. In a talk at X018, Xbox lead Phil Spencer said he had “heard the feedback” about the store and vowed to make it “tailored to the gamers that we know want to see the best” from the company. He didn’t outline what those changes were, but he promised to take a “bigger leadership role” on the store.

The statements come not long after Spencer talked about overhauling the Xbox app for Windows 10, which itself is limited. It can’t directly handle game updating like Steam can, for instance.

Spencer’s promise is, to some extent, a commentary on the Microsoft Store at large. Microsoft has tried to steer Windows users to the store by releasing software exclusively though the channel and even temporarily offering a version of Windows that could only run Store apps, but developers and users haven’t flocked to the portal given its restrictions. Why publish a game in the Store that can’t do as much as it would elsewhere? This is an acknowledgment that having an official store isn’t enough — it also has to offer capabilities that attract both developers and users.

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Cryptocurrency Price Analysis for the week November 05 to November 11

Cryptocurrency Price Analysis for the week November 05 to November 11

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EtherDelta Founder Charged by SEC For Operating Unregistered Securities Exchange. Bitcoin Cash Fork arriving on November 15 be ready as the BCH community drama continues. Vitalik Buterin Says Ethereum’s 1000x Capacity Upgrade “Not So Far Away”.Winklevoss Twins Sue Charlie Shrem Over 5,000 “Missing” Bitcoin. Google’s Sundar Pichai says his 11-Year-Old Son Is Ethereum Miner. Basic Attention Token Price Plummets as Coinbase Trading Triggers Massive Selloff



Among major news this week, the United States Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced formal charges against EtherDelta founder Zachary Coburn for operating an unregistered national securities exchange. The SEC order explains that EtherDelta facilitates the trading of ERC20 tokens, many of which they deem to be securities. The charge comes on the heels of the 2017 DAO Report. This report outlines certain types of digital assets that the SEC considers to be securities, including DAO tokens. It’s implied that at least some of the tokens being traded on EtherDelta fell into this category. Over the last 18 months, users on EtherDelta performed more than 3.6 million trades, with many involving security-classified tokens.

Well, the 15th is arriving and so is the Bitcoin Cash Fork. Bitcoin Cash hard fork will mean two separate and independent BCH blockchains and in result two coins. Bitcoin Cash was the result of a divided community on increasing the block size of the Bitcoin (BTC). And now, Bitcoin Cash is trading the same waters. Twice in a year, Bitcoin Cash undergoes a hard fork for protocol upgrades which goes unnoticed. However, this time the community has failed to come to a consensus and is divided over the future of Bitcoin Cash blockchain. Seems like Controversial and untrusted figure in the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) community Cobra Bitcoin may prove to be the saving grace for the network’s future, after a highly contentious dispute between Bitcoin ABC and nChain threatens to split BCH into competing chains ahead of a scheduled hard fork.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin used his keynote speech at Devcon 4, Ethereum’s annual developer conference, to unveil a roadmap for the evolution of the platform to Ethereum 2.0, which, among other things, will see the protocol upgraded to the proof-of-stake model. While the Ethereum community has been delaying timelines of their critical launches, Vitalik assured that  Ethereum 2.0, Ethereum’s 1000x Capacity Upgrade, was “not far away”

From the courtrooms this week, Winklevoss twins filed a lawsuit against Bitcoin pioneer Charlie Shrem, alleging that he stole 5,000 BTC that he was supposed to acquire and hold for them. According to the lawsuit, the twins gave Shrem $1 million to invest in Bitcoin in 2012, which would have been worth $5000 BTC then, and roughly $32 million now.

This week, Sundar Pichai in his interview with The New York Times, Pichai revealed, “My son is 11 years old, and he is mining Ethereum and earning money.”Since Sundar Pichai, an Indo-American businessman, became head of Google, the company has maintained a love-hate relationship with cryptocurrencies. Google had initially announced a ban on cryptocurrency ads in June 2018, however, very next month the company partially removed the ban.

Among Altcoins, After massive uptrends due to the Coinbase listing announcement, the actual trading of BAT has caused an adverse effect. After the coin went live on Coinbase, it plummeted by around 20 percent against the US dollar. What was important here is that the selloff of BAT on Coinbase demonstrated the typical buy the rumor and sell the news trend in the cryptocurrency market.

bitcoin price
Source: Coin360.io

Bitcoin (BTC)

The stability of Bitcoin continues this week as well as it was up just around 0.34% this week. The reported strength was yet in the stable zone. The prices hit the high point of USD 6,552.16 and the lowest point of USD 6,363.62 during the week. The exchanges that were more active, in volumes, with BTC across various pairs this week were,  Bithumb (10.51%), Coinbit (9.23%), CoinBene (3.74%)

Among prominent voices, Venture capital investor Tim Draper reaffirmed his prediction that the Bitcoin (BTC) price will reach $250,000 by 2022, during a panel discussion at the Web Summit summit conference

Ethereum (ETH)

Ether prices, on the top, this week were at USD 221.65 and were at lows of USD 206.57 staying not very far from the USD 200 support. The markets that were more active, in volumes, with ETH across various pairs this week were OEX (7.13%), BitForex (3.73%) and LBank (3.56%)

Among news surrounding Ethereum, Erik Voorhees, CEO of ShapeShift told in an interview with CNBC Crypto Trader, that Ethereum [ETH] is better because Vitalik is involved

Ripple (XRP)

On the top, this week the prices of XRP were at USD 0.560547 and towards the bottom, it quoted USD 0.460769. The exchanges that were more active, in volumes, with XRP across various pairs this week were ZB.COM (12.84%), Bitbank (11.07%), and ZBG (9.45%)  

For XRP this week, Wietse Wind, the creator of the cryptocurrency micropayments service, XRP Tip Bot is in line to seek approval from Amazon to integrate the blockchain app with Alexa

The Other Movers and Shakers

The Other coins that made to the top and bottom this week according to Coin Market Cap (accessed on November 11 at 1:30 pm IST) were

Movers

  • Pedity – Showing a rise of 442.05%
  • Davinci Coin – Showing a rise of 243.12 %
  • CrypticCoin – Showing a rise of 207.18%

Shakers

  • VisionX – Showing a drop of 80.48%
  • AirWire – Showing a drop of 55.99%
  • Typerium – Showing a drop of 49.80%

What do you think would be the sentiment of the crypto markets next week? Do let us know your views on the same.

Cryptocurrency Price Analysis for the week November 05 to November 11
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Cryptocurrency Price Analysis for the week November 05 to November 11
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EtherDelta Founder Charged by SEC For Operating Unregistered Securities Exchange. Bitcoin Cash Fork arriving on November 15 be ready as the BCH community drama continues. Vitalik Buterin Says Ethereum’s 1000x Capacity Upgrade “Not So Far Away”.
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Cloudflare’s privacy-focused 1.1.1.1 service is available on phones

Cloudflare’s privacy-focused 1.1.1.1 service is available on phones


Cloudflare

Cloudflare launched its 1.1.1.1 service in April as a bid to improve privacy and performance for desktop users, and now it’s making that technology available to mobile users. The company has released 1.1.1.1 apps for Android and iOS that switch the DNS service on and off with a single button press. So long as it’s on, it should be harder for your internet provider to track your web history, block sites or redirect traffic. You might also see performance improvements, particularly in areas where connections aren’t particularly fast to begin with.

The service remains free, and there are pragmatic reasons for that. It not only serves as an advertising mechanism for Cloudflare, it potentially improves the performance of the sites themselves. There are certainly alternative DNS options, and this is merely one part of a larger security strategy. However, this might be the most accessible solution of the bunch — you don’t have to know the first thing about domain names or ISP tracking to see a difference.

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Colorado State Cracks Downs on Unregulated Cryptocurrency Businesses

Colorado State Cracks Downs on Unregulated Cryptocurrency Businesses

Colorado’s state Division of Securities issued a cessation order to four cryptocurrency firms for issuing unregistered securities through Initial Coin Offerings (ICO). So far, the state’s Securities Commissioner has issued cease and desist orders to twelve ICOs for the same offense.

Four Cryptocurrency Companies Ordered to Stop Unregistered ICOs 

According to a publication on the regulator’s website, the State’s Division of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) instituted an “ICO Task Force” in May to probe possible fraudulent projects aimed at cryptocurrency investors. These recent orders issued to Bitcoin Investments, Limited, Prisma, PinkDate, and Clear Shop Vision Limited are based on the findings of the ICO Task Force.

The four firms are allegedly offering unregistered securities to citizens of the state. In the publication, the securities regulator highlights the alleged fraudulent activities of the four companies.

The Division alleges that the companies offer an unrealistic return on investments ranging from 27% to 95%. Through their separate ICOs namely DB Token ICO (Bitcoin Investments, Ltd), PinkDate ICO, Prismacoin, and ORC Token (Clear Shop Vision Ltd), these companies solicited investment from Colorado citizens despite not being registered with the State’s Division of Security.

Bitcoin Investments, Ltd allegedly offers 1% daily returns on investment. The company also claims that in 2017 investors received an average of 95% return on their registered investments.

PinkDate allegedly sought to raise $5 million through the sale of its cryptocurrency. The company did not disclose its business address or employees.

In the case of Prisma, the company purportedly operated an arbitrage and lending platform. Investors had to buy the company’s virtual currency – PrismaCoin to use the platform. The firm promises investors returns of up to 27%.

For Clear Shop Vision, the division claims that the company has issued three unregistered ICOs since June.

On receipt of the orders, the cryptocurrency companies are to immediately stop all operations that violate the state’s Securities Act, including fraud and issuing unregistered securities.

State Regulatory Agencies Tackle Fraudulent Cryptocurrency Activities

On the Federal level, the US SEC is not stepping down its enforcement efforts against illegal cryptocurrency schemes. State securities regulatory agencies are also making efforts to protect their citizens against fraudulent cryptocurrency investments.

Earlier in the week, the Texas State Securities Board filed a cease and desist order against AWS Mining company for allegedly selling unregistered securities. According to the regulator, the mining company promised investors a 200% return on funds invested in cryptocurrency mining power contracts.

In October, the Commissioner of North Dakota’s Securities Department issued a cease and desist order against Crystal Token, Advertiza Holdings (Pty) Ltd, and Life Cross Coin. These three virtual currency firms allegedly offered fraudulent and unregistered securities through Initial Coin Offerings.

Image courtesy CBS Denver.

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House Democrats to investigate Trump actions against Amazon, AT&T

House Democrats to investigate Trump actions against Amazon, AT&T


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Now that Democrats are poised to control of the House of Representatives, they’re planning investigations into the Trump administration’s actions against technology companies. Inbound House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff told Axios in an interview that Democrats would investigate whether President Trump misused his power in attempts to punish Amazon and block AT&T’s merger with Time Warner.

Trump’s reported pressure on the US Postmaster General, to raise Amazon’s postal rates, appears to have been part of a campaign to retaliate against Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post for publishing articles critical of the President, according to Schiff. The future chairman also wanted to know whether or not attempts to stall the AT&T/Time Warner deal stemmed from genuine antitrust concerns or simply represented a proxy fight against CNN, again for publishing less-than-flattering stories.

There will only be so much a House investigation can do when Democrats won’t control the Senate. However, their position in the House gives them the authority to demand emails, statements and other evidence that was otherwise likely to remain secret. If there’s any merit to the claims Trump tried to punish technology giants, it could become clear relatively quickly.

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After Venezuela’s ‘Petro’, Iran Set to Launch Rial Backed National Cryptocurrency Soon

After Venezuela’s ‘Petro’, Iran Set to Launch Rial Backed National Cryptocurrency Soon

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Iran and its state-owned cryptocurrency have long been in discussion and it’s likely that Iran will soon launch a national cryptocurrency backed by fiat currency, Rial. As soon as the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) approves its application, this national cryptocurrency will be issued to Fintech organizations for testing purposes. However, the name of Iran’s new cryptocurrency is not yet revealed but the testing process to ensure internal and interbank settlements in on the go.



Why a state-owned cryptocurrency?

The state cryptocurrency is still in pilot phase and will mainly be used to run stress less financial payments, bank-to-bank settlements, and retail banking.

On top of all, the new cryptocurrency will be used in a direct transfer. Significantly, it will employ in a distributed and one-to-one framework” for transferring without the involvement of any institute, said country’s central bank, chief executive officer of Informatics Services Corporation (ISC) Seyyed Abotaleb Najafi.

Nevertheless, Najafi’s company is in contract with CBI to develop the national cryptocurrency whilst ensuring its use across banking system services and to evade the prowling US economic sanctions against the oil-rich Middle East country.

He moreover claimed that;

After getting Central Bank of Iran’s approval [it] will be used in the country’s banking system … in the first phase the blockchain banking infrastructure will be granted to Iranian commercial banks to use it as a token and payment instrument in transactions and banking settlement.

Launching this new cryptocurrency at earliest would be the most critical decision for Iran and probably help bypass certain sanctions through untraceable banking operations.  Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali, head of Iran’s Civil Defense Organization points that state cryptocurrency is a “great opportunities”

What do you think, will CBI approves the new state-backed cryptocurrency? Or will Iran continues to fall out from the list of receiving services from cryptocurrency exchanges? Let us know

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Iran and its state-owned cryptocurrency have long been in discussion and it’s likely that Iran will soon launch a national cryptocurrency backed by fiat currency, Rial. As soon as the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) approves its application, this national cryptocurrency will be issued to Fintech organizations for testing purposes.
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The best probe thermometer

The best probe thermometer

By Michael Sullivan

This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commission. Read the full probe thermometers guide here.

After spending 20 hours testing probe thermometers and speaking with experts—including cookbook authors, chefs, butchers, and a New York City Department of Health employee—we think most cooks just need a regular meat thermometer. But if you’re set on getting a probe thermometer to measure the temperature of food while it cooks, we recommend the ThermoWorks Dot. In our tests, the Dot was the fastest and most accurate at reading temperatures. Its simple design and straightforward controls made it easier to use than the competition.

The ThermoWorks Dot is accurate, affordable, and easy to use. It has a very wide temperature range, as it’s capable of measuring from -58 °F to 572 °F. It also has one of the longest probe cables of any of the thermometers we considered. The digital display on the ThermoWorks Dot is easily readable, and we thought the controls were straightforward and intuitive. We also like its backlit screen, which is handy for outdoor grilling at night.

If you’re looking for a few more helpful features, the ThermoWorks ChefAlarm includes a timer and volume adjustment as well as a backlit screen. In our tests, though the ChefAlarm was a couple of seconds slower than the Dot at reading temperatures, it was just as accurate. We especially liked the convenience of the timer on this model. The digital unit is also hinged, so you can lay it flat or adjust it to a specific angle. Unlike our other picks, the ChefAlarm thermometer comes with a case to hold the probe and the digital unit.

Unlike our other picks, the ThermoWorks Smoke can operate via a wireless receiver and has two channels to accommodate multiple probes: one probe to take the internal temperature of the meat, and an air probe for measuring the ambient temperature of the oven, grill, or smoker. In our tests, the Smoke maintained its wireless connection for an unobstructed distance of 350 feet. It has a backlit screen and volume control, but no timer, and because it’s $60 more than our main pick, we recommend it only for grill and smoker enthusiasts.

Why you should trust us

For this guide, we spoke to food professionals including barbecue and grilling expert Rick Browne, creator, host, and executive producer of PBS’s Barbecue America television series, as well as the author of more than 10 cookbooks; Janet Crandall, a private chef, formerly the executive chef and head butcher for Wyebrook Farm in Honey Brook, Pennsylvania, a butcher at Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors, and an instructor at the International Culinary Center; and Robert D. Edman, assistant commissioner of the Bureau of Food Safety and Community Sanitation, New York City Department of Health.

We also consulted reviews from Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required), Consumer Reports(subscription required), and AmazingRibs.com, and we looked at customer reviews on Amazon.com.

Michael Sullivan spent over 20 hours testing probe thermometers for this guide. Previously he tested gas grills and charcoal grills, as well as grill accessories, for Wirecutter.

Probe thermometers versus instant-read thermometers

Probe thermometer

Our top pick for probe thermometer, the ThermoWorks Dot (left), and our upgrade pick for instant-read thermometer, the ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4 (right). Photo: Michael Hession

Everyone should have a meat thermometer in their kitchen to ensure they’re consuming food cooked to safe internal temperatures. The more common kind is an instant-read thermometer, which you can stick directly into food for a few seconds to check the temperature. A probe thermometer is the kind of meat thermometer that is intended to remain in the meat while it cooks. A heat-safe cable attaches the probe to a digital unit outside the oven that displays the temperature reading.

You can take the internal temperature of meat using either type of thermometer. Most of the pros we spoke to recommended getting an instant-read thermometer over a probe thermometer, because they’re faster at reading temperatures and longer lasting.

The advantage of probe thermometers is that you get an alert as soon as a set temperature is reached, without your having to open the oven door. The disadvantage of probe thermometers is that they’re typically slower at reading temperatures. The probe attachments also have a high failure rate (the probe is subjected to high heat, and the cable frequently sustains damage due to the pressure from an oven door or grill lid) but are available for purchase separately when you need to replace them. That said, some people still like using probe thermometers, as they can remain in the meat during cooking.

If you use a probe thermometer, keep in mind that the probe measures only the area of the meat it’s touching. Rick Browne told us, “The probe is sort of letting people know the temperature, and it’s a good guideline, and then you can refine it with the instant-read and take multiple readings.” You need to know where to place the probe thermometer to correctly measure the internal temperature of the meat—a challenge, particularly for beginner cooks. According to Robert D. Edman, assistant commissioner of New York City’s Bureau of Food Safety and Community Sanitation, “The probe should be inserted into the thickest part of the meat, poultry, or poultry parts, away from bone, fat, or gristle. When taking the temperature of beef, pork, or lamb roasts, the probe should be inserted midway into the roast, avoiding the bone. The core temperature is what is being determined.” (Chef Janet Crandall told us that bones conduct more heat and will give you a higher temperature reading.) For thinner proteins, such as fish fillets, you should insert the probe sideways. If you’re uncertain about the proper placement or final temperature of the meat you’re cooking, most of the pros we spoke to recommended taking multiple readings using an instant-read thermometer.

How we picked and tested

Probe thermometer

After testing 11 probe thermometers for this guide, we think the ThermoWorks Dot (center) is the best for most people. Photo: Caroline Enos

A good probe thermometer should quickly and accurately give a temperature reading so that you know when your food, particularly meat and poultry, is safe to eat. It should have a wide temperature range to accommodate both oven and grill use, and it should be intuitive to operate. Longer probes will ensure that you’re reaching the thickest part of large roasts, or the bottom of a saucepan for frying or for making candy.

For this guide, we’ve tested 14 probe thermometers ranging from about $17 to $100. We looked at three main types:

  • Basic thermometers with a single probe that display readings on a digital unit
  • Dual-channel thermometers that have two probes (one for taking the internal temperature of the meat and another for reading the ambient cooking temperature) and display readings on a digital unit
  • Remote probe thermometers that display readings on battery-operated wireless receivers or through smartphone apps via Bluetooth

We tested probe thermometers with temperature ranges between –58 degrees and 572 degrees Fahrenheit, with probe cables heat-resistant up to 712 °F. Cheaper models around $20 typically have temperature ranges of 32 °F to 392 °F, which means you can’t use them for most high-temperature cooking, such as frying or grilling.

Probe thermometer

We evaluated the length of each probe to see if they were long enough to reach the center of large roasts or the depth of a saucepan for frying. Photo: Caroline Enos

The length of the probe is important, to ensure you’re reaching the thickest part of large roasts such as pork shoulder. Also, if the length of the probe is too short, you won’t be able to reach the bottom of a saucepan for making candy. Ideally, the cable that attaches the probe to the digital unit should be able to withstand temperatures up to 700 °F for safe use on a grill without damage.

We looked for models that were intuitive to operate, with digital displays that were easy to read. Most probe thermometers come with preprogrammed temperature settings, though chef Janet Crandall told us, “I never follow the preprogrammed settings. For example, the FDA says you should cook chicken to 165 °F, which I think is too high. I prefer 145 to 150 °F, and as you let it rest it will continue to climb another 10 degrees.” The pros we spoke to said it’s always best to program your own temperature settings to avoid overcooking your meat.

Probe thermometer

We checked the speed and accuracy of the thermometers by placing their probes into a mug of ice water and timing how long it took for them to register 32 °F. Photo: Caroline Enos

We tested dual-channel thermometers, which have two probes: one for taking the internal temperature of the meat, and an air probe for measuring the ambient temperature of an oven, grill, or smoker. However, Rick Browne told us he doesn’t recommend using air probes for grills because grills are prone to hot and cold spots, adding that “the difference in temperature from the surface of the grill to the top of the lid varies a lot.” Browne recommends holding your hand a couple of inches off the grill grate to gauge the heat level: If you can hold it for three seconds, that means the heat is low, while two seconds indicates medium heat and one second means high heat.

We also tested remote probe thermometers with wireless receivers, which allow you to walk away from a grill or smoker but still monitor the food you’re cooking. However, Rick Browne said, “Often I find it’s the gadget guy, the guy who wants every gadget known to man for his barbecue and his car and his golf bag and everything else, who says, ‘Oh, I’ve got to have [a remote probe thermometer].’ And he gets it, uses it a couple of times, and then finds out that it really doesn’t work that well and then stops using it.” After testing, we’ve concluded that remote thermometers are a convenience item most people can do without.

Probe thermometer

We timed how long it took for the probes to reach 212 °F in a pot of boiling water. We performed this test four times per probe and took the average (throwing out the most uncommon timing). Photo: Caroline Enos

To check the accuracy of the thermometers, we inserted their probes into a ceramic mug filled with ice water (32 °F), which is what most manufacturers recommend for proper calibration. We also tested the probes in a pot of boiling water. Because changes in atmospheric pressure and elevation will affect the temperature at which water boils, we used ThermoWorks’s boiling-point calculator to determine that the boiling point at our testing location is 212 °F. We also inserted the probes into a stockpot of 130 °F water maintained by a sous vide circulator. In each test, we timed how long each thermometer took to register the correct temperatures.

To test the durability of the probe cables at high temperatures, we used our finalists in a screaming-hot, 650 °F to 700 °F grill. After our initial round of testing, we used the remaining contenders to monitor the temperature of oven-baked chicken pieces to get a feel for their usability.

Probe thermometer

To test the durability of the probe cables at high temperatures, we used our finalists in a grill at a temp of 650 °F to 700 °F. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

We evaluated the strength of the magnets on the back of the digital receivers to see how well they could stay attached to the side of an oven or grill. Finally, we measured the distance from which remote probe thermometers could function before losing their wireless connection.

Our pick: ThermoWorks Dot

Probe thermometer

Our pick for the best probe thermometer is the ThermoWorks Dot. Photo: Caroline Enos

We recommend the affordable ThermoWorks Dot probe thermometer for its impressive accuracy and ability to read temperatures quickly. Compared with the others we tested, it was the easiest thermometer to use, thanks to its simple, intuitive design and large digital display. The Dot’s wide temperature range makes it ideal for both oven and grill use, and its backlit screen makes it easy to read in any light.

In our tests, the Dot was the fastest thermometer to read temperatures accurately. On average, it was able to read 32 °F in about 8.5 seconds and 212 °F in about 5.5 seconds. Its thermistor sensor has an impressive temperature range of -58 °F to 572 °F (and a cable that can withstand 700 °F for short periods of time), unlike many other models, which typically have a much smaller range. The Dot was one of only three tested models that were accurate to the degree in a stockpot of 130 °F water maintained by a sous vide circulator.

The Dot also had one of the longest cables—about 48 inches—of the models we tested. The cable became slightly discolored and stiff when we subjected it to the high heat of a grill, but that had no effect on the thermometer’s performance. And since its 4½-inch probe is slightly longer than that of our upgrade pick for instant-read thermometers, the ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4, it will have no problem reading the internal temperature of large roasts.

Probe thermometer

Among the probe thermometers we tested, the Dot had some of the strongest magnets, which kept it securely attached to the side of our oven. Also, its plastic stand provides a convenient angle for reading the temperature on the digital screen. Photo: Caroline Enos

The Dot’s simple design and straightforward controls made it easier to use than the competition. This model has an on/off switch on the back of the unit, with arrow buttons on the side of the digital screen that allow you to set your desired temperature. After you insert the probe into your food, the alarm beeps to alert you when the set temperature has been reached. You can press any button on the interface to stop the alarm; to disable the alarm altogether, simply hold the two arrows down at the same time. You can also switch from Fahrenheit to Celsius by holding the power button for six seconds while turning the unit on. Also, among the probe thermometers we tested, the Dot had some of the strongest magnets, which kept it securely attached to the side of our oven. It’s available in a variety of colors, too (nine in all).

The ThermoWorks Dot boasts an Ingress Protection rating of IP65, which means the body of the unit is protected against the entry of dust and “low-pressure jets of water.” It also comes with a two-year warranty, and the probe is replaceable. Contact ThermoWorks if you encounter problems with the Dot under normal household use.

This model is also available with Bluetooth, sold under the name BlueDot, for about $20 more (at the time of this publishing). It has all of the same controls as the regular Dot thermometer, but it can also connect to an app on your phone, which allows you to monitor the food you’re cooking from a distance. It’s a nice added feature, but we think most people will be happy without it.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The ThermoWorks Dot doesn’t come with a metal clip that attaches the probe to the side of a saucepan for tasks such as frying or candy making, but all ThermoWorks accessories (including probe clips, grate clips, and air probes) are sold separately.

The Dot lacks a timer and preprogrammed temperature settings. However, since the pros we spoke with don’t recommend using preset temperatures anyway, we don’t think this omission is a dealbreaker.

Also great: ThermoWorks ChefAlarm and Smoke

Probe thermometer

For probe thermometers with more features, we suggest getting ThermoWorks’s Smoke (left) or ChefAlarm (right). Photo: Caroline Enos

If you want more features, like a timer or dual probes, we recommend two other models by ThermoWorks, the ChefAlarm and the Smoke. Both thermometers were very accurate in our tests, and both have longer probes than our main pick, but we found that they were slightly slower at reading temperatures. They both offer the same impressive temperature range as the Dot, from -58 °F to 572 °F for the probe and up to 700 °F for the cable.

In our tests, the ChefAlarm took a couple of seconds longer than the Dot to read temperatures, but it was just as accurate. The timer on this model is a nice addition (it can handle countdowns as long as 99 hours, 59 minutes), and the backlit screen is handy for outdoor grilling at night. The ChefAlarm also allows you to set the minimum and maximum temperatures, which have corresponding alarms to alert you when they’ve been reached. The two strong magnets on the back of the unit keep it in place when attached to the side of an oven or grill; the digital unit is also hinged, so you can lay it flat or adjust it to a specific angle. Our testers liked that the ChefAlarm thermometer comes with a case to hold both the probe and the digital unit. This model is Cook’s Illustrated’s favorite probe thermometer, too. However, in spite of the ChefAlarm’s various benefits, we think most people will be fine with our pick.

Like the ChefAlarm, the Smoke has a backlit screen and volume control. But in contrast to our other picks, the Smoke can operate via a wireless receiver and has two channels to accommodate multiple probes: one probe to take the internal temperature of the meat, and an air probe for measuring the ambient temperature of the oven, grill, or smoker. The Smoke also allows you to set the minimum and maximum temperatures for each probe, which sound corresponding alarms when the set temperatures have been reached. In our tests, the Smoke maintained its wireless connection for an unobstructed distance of 350 feet, more than double the distance of the Weber iGrill 2. As we stated earlier, we don’t think you need these features, but if you really want them, the Smoke was the best model we tested that offers them. Considering that this thermometer is also $60 more than the Dot, we think it makes sense only for grill and smoker enthusiasts.

If you want to monitor the Smoke’s probes from any distance, ThermoWorks also offers the new, exorbitantly priced Smoke Gateway. According to ThermoWorks, “Smoke Gateway easily pairs via radio frequency (RF) with your existing Smoke thermometer. It then pairs with your Wi-Fi network to send temperatures and alerts to the Smoke Gateway app on your smartphone or smart device.” We tried out the Smoke Gateway and found that it works fine, but we think it’s a pricey convenience item that most people can do without.

Coincidentally, all of our picks are manufactured by ThermoWorks. They were far and away the best thermometers we tested. None of the other models compared to our picks in terms of speed, accuracy, and ease of use.

Care and maintenance

Before you use any thermometer, “you should ALWAYS make sure they are calibrated,” said chef Janet Crandall. “A thermometer should read 32 °F in ice water, and 212 °F in boiling water.” Most probe thermometers come calibrated, but it’s still good to double-check before using.

It goes without saying, but never put the digital unit in an oven, grill, or smoker, or attach it to the lid of a grill, which can exceed 700 °F and melt it. Though the ThermoWorks cables are heat resistant to 700 °F, avoid placing them directly on a grill grate or oven rack, as doing so could damage their inner insulation. Also, straighten any kinks in the cable, which can break the inner wires if left alone. And never place a probe tip directly into hot coals or fire.

Always use a hot pad or oven mitt when retrieving a probe thermometer from the oven or grill. To prevent cross-contamination, be sure to properly sanitize the probe after each use.

The competition

The newest offering from ThermoWorks, the Signals 4-Channel BBQ Alarm Thermometer, is essentially the next step up from the ThermoWorks Smoke. It comes with four probes (one is an air probe) instead of two, all of which you can use simultaneously. It can also connect to an app on your phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, which is nice if you’re smoking meat and you want to monitor its progress from inside. But at $230, this four-channel thermometer is overkill unless you’re on a competitive barbecue team, or if you plan to cook several cuts of meat at once regularly.

As mentioned above, the ThermoWorks BlueDot is the same as our main pick, except it can connect to an app on your phone via Bluetooth, which allows you to monitor the food you’re cooking from a distance. ThermoWorks advertising says the BlueDot can stay connected for an unobstructed distance of 95 feet, but in our tests it lost the connection around 75 feet. We think most people will be happy with our main pick, the ThermoWorks Dot, which currently costs about $20 less.

The Lavatools Carbon Lite uses Bluetooth to connect to an app on your phone, but unlike other models we tested, it lacks manual controls. This model was much slower at reading temperatures than our picks. And though the preset temperatures on the app are helpful for beginner cooks, we found the layout confusing when setting custom temperatures. The thermometer kept its connection for up to 250 feet in our tests, which was 100 feet less than the ThermoWorks Smoke. It also has a narrower temperature range than the ThermoWorks thermometers we recommend.

The Lavatools Element was very slow at reading temperatures, taking up to 15 seconds in some instances. The temperature readings don’t gradually increase either, jumping from number to number, which makes it difficult to anticipate temperature changes. Its digital controls aren’t as intuitive to use as our picks’ and the buttons are very difficult to press.

We found the receiver of the ThermoPro TP20 difficult to read because it alternated the display of both probe temperatures, which we found confusing. The membrane-sealed push button on the receiver also became worn after only a few uses.

Since the ThermoPro TP16 is so light and the cable is so stiff, the unit moved around the counter when we opened and closed the oven door. We also found that the stand put the digital screen at an awkward angle for reading.

In our tests, when we placed the Maverick ET-732 in a pot of boiling water, it took 21 seconds to reach 212 °F, a considerably slower result than we got from our main pick. This model’s digital unit also lacks magnets for keeping it secure on an oven or grill.

The Maverick ET-733 suffered notable delays in reading temperatures. In one instance, the thermometer jumped from 73 °F to 214 °F, showing no temperatures in between. This model is also covered by a paltry 90-day warranty.

Although the Taylor 1478-21 Digital Cooking Thermometer has intuitive buttons and a simple design, it’s slow at reading temperatures. It also can’t work on a hot grill because the cable and probe are heat resistant to only 392 °F.

In our tests the Polder THM-362-86 Classic Digital Thermometer/Timer was quick to respond to temperature adjustments, but the probe and cable are heat resistant to only 392 °F, making this model unsuitable for high-temperature cooking.

The Weber iGrill 2 was very slow to read temperatures and had the shortest probes of all the models we tested. We found that it began to lose its wireless connection at around 125 feet.

Designed specifically for the Weber Genesis II and Genesis II LX gas grills, the Weber iGrill 3 is not appropriate for most people. Also, since this model lacks a digital display on the unit, you can view the thermometer’s temperature readings only via an app on your phone.

We didn’t test the Meater Probe thermometer because it can read a maximum internal temperature of only 212 °F, which means it’s not suitable for high-temperature cooking. Also, its probe is so egregiously thick, it would be like sticking a Sharpie into your meat.

We opted not to test the Loki Sphere Bundle because it’s very expensive and has a smaller temperature range than our current picks. This model can accommodate up to four probes at once, but that’s overkill for what most people need.

This guide may have been updated by Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commissions.

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SEC strikes again; Founder of Ethereum-based cryptocurrency exchange scrutinized by the commission

SEC strikes again; Founder of Ethereum-based cryptocurrency exchange scrutinized by the commission

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] has been constantly warning investors about the risks involved in the cryptocurrency space. Even though the commission has failed to set up a proper regulatory framework for the booming market, they have always taken action against fraudulent ICOs and projects, who are misleading the investors.

The recent crackdown by the commission has set the space ablaze as this would be one of the first cases wherein the Founder of an exchange platform based on Ethereum platform is scrutinized. The exchange which was under the limelight is EtherDelta, a secondary marketplace for ERC20 tokens. The Founder was scrutinized by the SEC as he failed to register the exchange with the commission or operate in accordance with an exemption. The exchange was required to avail the permission of the commission as they were trading tokens which are classified as “securities”.

This has been intact since the SEC published their report on the DAO aka the Decentralized Autonomous Organization on July 2017. The DAO was subjected to a hack in 2016, which resulted in the split of the original Ethereum blockchain, creating Ethereum [ETH] and Ethereum Classic [ETC].

The report stated that issuers of security tokens are required to register with the commission unless a valid exemption applies. It also reinforced that all the exchanges were required to register as a National Securities Exchange unless a valid exemption applies.

Zachary Coburn, the Founder of EtherDelta has agreed to pay the commission the money which was gained by offering trade services for the tokens i.e., $300,000. This will include $13,000 in prejudgment interest and $75,000 as a penalty.

Stephanie Avakian, co-director of SEC’s Enforcement Division said:

“EtherDelta had both the user interface and underlying functionality of an online national securities exchange and was required to register with the SEC or qualify for an exemption.”

Steven Peikin, co-director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division said:

“We are witnessing a time of significant innovation in the securities markets with the use and application of distributed ledger technology. But to protect investors, this innovation necessitates the SEC’s thoughtful oversight of digital markets and enforcement of existing laws.”

Moreover, the Chief of SEC’s cyber unite, Rober Cohen believes that the people behind the “code” will always be responsible. In an interview with the Forbes, he said:

“The focus is not on the label you put on something or the technology you’re using. The focus is on the function, and what the platform is doing. Whether it’s decentralized or not, whether it’s on a smart contract or not, what matters is it’s an exchange.”


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Priya


Priya is a full-time member of the reporting team at AMBCrypto. She is a finance major with one year of writing experience. She has not held any value in Bitcoin or other currencies.


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Rocket Lab completes its first commercial launch

Rocket Lab completes its first commercial launch


Rocket Lab

After months of delays, Rocket Lab has completed its first commercial mission. The spaceflight startup successfully launched its Electron rocket into orbit carrying six small satellites, including five cubesats as well as a small weather satellite. The vessel also carried a payload that stuck to the upper stage to help test deorbiting technology.

The mission (“It’s Business Time”) was supposed to launch in April, but Rocket Lab pushed it back to June after discovering a motor controller fault in a first stage engine. It delayed the launch again after the fault reemerged, and decided to alter the controller’s design to provide a more substantial fix.

While this is only Rocket Lab’s third orbital flight, the company plans to step up the pace in short order. It already has another flight scheduled for December, when it will carry a bundle of cubesats from NASA’s 19th Educational Launch of Nanosatellites. And with goals of improving production to one rocket a month, these flights could quickly become commonplace. That’s important — while companies like SpaceX now regularly carry payloads into orbit, Electron promises to democratize space for companies and institutions that can’t justify using large rockets for their satellites.

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After Math: They’re on the move

After Math: They’re on the move


ASSOCIATED PRESS

With the president’s made up migrant caravan crisis having mysteriously vanished now that the midterms are over, it’s time to take a look at the other movers and shakers from the industry this week. Volkswagen announced the development of a $23k Tesla rival, China has developed security cameras can now ID people by their gait, and Google’s built a computer model to guess which restaurants will give you the runs.

China Gait Recognition

165 feet: Everybody walks in their own weirdly wonderful way. Unfortunately, China’s state surveillance system can now spot you because of that gait from more than 150 feet, even if your face is obscured. So the next time you see someone walking through downtown Beijing like they’re fleeing a sandworm, this is probably why (though maybe get to higher ground too, just to be safe).

nethernopes

20 years of lie: Nice, some guy in the Netherlands wants a court to declare his 69-year-old self as 49-years-old so he can have better luck on Tinder. Which will totally work right up until the moment that he insists they go to dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon at Golden Corral so he can be home in time for Matlock.

asdfeven Hugo has got it rough) but there’s some help on the horizon from Google. The search giant has developed an algorithm that can spot incidents of food poisoning by cross-referencing a user’s search for terms like “diarrhea” against their cached location data. During trials in Las Vegas and Chicago, the model identified unsafe food conditions 52 percent of the time, compared with just 22 percent of routine inspections in those cities.

birds

£1 plus 20p per minute: That’s how much Bird’s new UK pilot program will rent street scooters for. Unfortunately, the zippy contraptions will only be made available along a single path in east London’s Olympic Park.

fleet

20,000 e-bikes: Speaking of alternative transportation, Paris announced this week that it will unleash an armada of electric bicycles upon its city streets in a large-scale effort to help reduce traffic and counteract climate change. Users will be able to rent a bike for 40 euros a month.

Germany Earns Volkswagen

$23,000: Volkswagen just fired a shot across Tesla’s bow, announcing this week that it has begun development on a Model 3 competitor that will likely cost a whopping $12,000 less than Tesla’s offering when it goes on sale sometime after 2020.

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ICYMI: Catch up on a busy week of Engadget reviews

ICYMI: Catch up on a busy week of Engadget reviews

It has been a busy few weeks when it comes to product announcements, and that means we at Engadget have been reviewing a number of new devices. This week alone we shared our thoughts on laptops from Lenovo, Microsoft, Apple and ASUS, breaking down what each does well and what we think needs some work. We also took a look at the new iPad Pro — which might as well be a laptop, given its price and the way Apple is positioning it — and, for a change of pace, BMW’s “hybrid supercar,” the i8 Roadster.

We were impressed by the keyboard on the ThinkPad X1 Extreme as well as the design of Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 2. Apple brought some much-needed improvements to its MacBook Air line and we found ASUS’ ZenBook S to be a capable laptop for those not looking for a lot of bells and whistles. The latest addition to the iPad line is impressively powerful, though maybe not a full replacement for a laptop just yet, and BMW’s i8 Roadster makes for a fun ride. Here we’re doing a quick roundup of all of the reviews we rolled out this week, so keep reading for more details on what we thought about each of these newcomers.

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme serves up a lot of power, but at a price

ThinkPad X1 Extreme

The first thing that drew ThinkPad aficionado Terrence O’Brien to Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme was its keyboard. With a decent amount of travel, a gentle clicking sound and a nice feel underneath his fingers, the X1 Extreme’s keyboard stood out from pretty much every other laptop keyboard we’ve tried over the years. He was also pleased with the slew of ports it offered and its gorgeous 15.6-inch 4K HDR touchscreen. When it came to power, the X1 Extreme more than held its own. Terrence threw quite a bit at this device and the X1 Extreme handled it all quite easily. That, of course, is thanks to some pretty powerful components like its Core i7-8850H CPU.

That power does come at a cost though, as the X1 Extreme’s battery left a bit to be desired. Its sound quality and trackpad both also came up a little short. Finally, the X1 Extreme’s price tag is fairly high, starting at $1,800. But overall, it’s a decent option compared to its competition depending on what specs you’re looking for.

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 2 improves on the original design

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

While we were fans of the original Surface Laptop’s design, the sleeks lines, smooth aluminum case and attractive matte black option of the Surface Laptop 2 makes for an impressive looking piece of hardware. And the display didn’t disappoint either, as reviews editor Cherlynn Low came across minimal issues. She found the keyboard to be comfortable to type on and quieter than that of the original Surface Laptop, while the trackpad was responsive, roomy and a joy to use.

Performance-wise, the laptop easily handled Cherlynn’s daily workflow, and in tests, it performed comparably to other devices with similar specs. The battery life was impressive as well, outlasting the original version by over an hour. The most notable issue we had was with the Surface Laptop 2’s charging socket, which is so shallow, that the charging cord easily fell out even at the slightest touch. That being said, the Surface Laptop 2 is a strong overall option at a reasonable price.

The ASUS ZenBook S is a decent option for those looking for a traditional laptop

ASUS ZenBook S

If you’re looking for a lightweight, traditional clamshell notebook, the ASUS ZenBook S might be for you. At just 2.2 pounds, it’s one of the lightest options out there, and its thin body makes it pretty ideal when it comes to portability. Its durable design also makes for a sturdy laptop that can likely handle a fair amount of wear and tear.

The ZenBook S features an interesting hinge design that props up the body of the laptop. This results in a gently-angled keyboard that improves airflow, boosts the speaker and makes typing more enjoyable. The design is a little tricky to navigate, however, when you’re actually using it on your lap.

The laptop’s performance held up to to deputy managing editor Nathan Ingraham’s typical workflow, but it’s not a good option if you’re looking to play games. Further, the rather short battery life makes for a laptop that’s not the best option out there — but certainly not the worst either. If a light, standard laptop is what you’re needing, the ZenBook S fits the bill.

Apple’s long-awaited MacBook Air update brings desirable improvements

MacBook Air

Apple surprised us last month when it chose to update its long-ignored MacBook Air line, and the upgrades it introduced have certainly improved upon the outdated original. Compared to its predecessor, the updated Air is both lighter and thinner, boasts a Retina display with smaller bezels and features louder speakers. There’s also Touch ID, Apple’s butterfly keyboard and a large trackpad.

The Air held up to Editor-in-Chief Dana Wollman’s daily needs when it came to performance, and under controlled conditions, she found the Air’s battery lasted just about the 13 hours Apple advertises. One problem she did have with the Air is that Apple doesn’t offer a processor upgrade option — you’re stuck with a dual-core Intel Core i5. If that’s not enough for you, you’ll have to turn to Apple’s MacBook Pro line. As for whether you should opt for the Air or the entry-level MacBook Pro that’s only $100 more, that’s really up to you and comes down to what specs you’re looking for. But overall, the new MacBook Air is a good option that finally brings some needed upgrades to the line.

The iPad Pro 12.9 isn’t quite a laptop replacement for everyone, but it’s close

iPad Pro 2018

Ok, so the iPad Pro isn’t a laptop, but since Apple has been billing the line as the “future of computing,” it’s worth looking at it as if it were. The new iPad Pro has a design that’s sleeker and easier to hold than that of its predecessors, while its display renders bright, beautiful colors and refreshes at 120Hz. Further, the iPad Pro finally ushers in Apple’s embrace of USB-C — though senior mobile editor Chris Velazco found some shortcomings there.

He liked the new Apple Pencil, especially the fact that it magnetically attaches to the iPad Pro to charge. And with its A12X Bionic chipset, the iPad Pro is rather powerful, out-performing some MacBook Pro configurations in our tests. The battery life was also more than adequate, often lasting a day and a half with nearly nonstop use.

For his purposes, Chris found there were just too many situations where the iPad Pro fell short as a laptop replacement. But that doesn’t mean that will be the case for everybody. Its power can certainly withstand a whole slew of high-performance tasks and for some people, the iPad Pro will be more than capable of being all you need.

BMW’s hybrid i8 Roadster is a daily driver in a supercar’s clothing

2019 BMW i8 Roadster

The BMW i8 Roadster isn’t a monster in terms of specs — but senior editor Roberto Baldwin does believe it’s a piece of art. The combo of a three-cylinder engine and electric motor pump out 369 horsepower and 420-foot-pounds of torque and It’ll do zero to 60 in 4.4 seconds. Impressive, but not really supercar impressive.

It sits in a weird spot in the automotive world. It looks and corners like a supercar, but you’re going to be disappointed in a drag race with anything that resembles it. Instead, it’s a rolling piece of pricey art and technology that has great gas mileage (up to 69 mpg) and is comfortable enough to drive every day. Even with its lack of road feel, it feels great to drive around sharp corners. It’s ultimately a truly fun vehicle without being overbearing, it handles well, it has design that turns heads (Roberto calls it an “Instagram magnet”)… and it has some positively insane doors.

Check out our holiday gift guide for laptop gift ideas

Holiday Gift Guide 2018 Laptops

Going back to laptops — we’ve just launched our holiday gift guide, which includes a number of the best we’ve seen this year. Whether you’re looking for a new laptop for yourself or someone else, the holidays are a good time to take that step. Our gift guide has options for everyone — gamers, traditional users and anyone else on your list.

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Christianity and conservationism collide in ‘Pangolin’s Puzzle’

Christianity and conservationism collide in ‘Pangolin’s Puzzle’

Pangolin’s Puzzle is a new mobile game that offers a refreshing approach to the puzzle genre — instead of relying solely on spatial manipulation or number-based solves, it serves up written logic problems. Players manipulate patches of the environment on a grid, building landscapes according to descriptions of how each feature relates to one another. It’s tricky, thoughtful and addictive, especially when you add in the adorable main character, an anteater-like animal called a pangolin.

There’s a special section in Pangolin’s Puzzle that doesn’t exist in most games. Tap on “Pangolin’s Extras,” open up the “We <3 Pangolins” tab, and the following message appears:

“We at Hero Factor Games hold a Christian worldview. We believe that ideas and choices have consequences. Each choice we make leaves an eternal impression on our hearts, minds, and souls. For us, the issue of environmental stewardship goes deeper than respecting our beautiful planet; it reflects what we believe about the God who made the heavens and earth.”

Pangolin’s Puzzle comes from Hero Factor Games, a studio based in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and founded by the husband-and-wife team of Tim and Sara Kilpatrick. Their mission at Hero Factor is to build entertaining games that also spread the word of God as they see it. In the case of their latest game, that means introducing players to the pangolin, the world’s most-trafficked animal, and raising money to help save the species from extinction.

Pangolin's Puzzle

“As a Christian, God is everything,” Tim Kilpatrick said. “He is in everything. He is in science. He is in the world. He is in the games that we play. He is, and my whole life is worked around bringing honor and glory to Him. But with games, it’s not a Bible.”

Video games are more interactive than a static, printed book, and they provide new, engaging ways for the Kilpatricks to share their religion and worldview. However, they’re lifelong video game fans, and they always start by thinking about the game, rather than focusing on a message to preach and building a set of rules around that.

“What we’re trying to do is, first thing, build a fun game mechanic,” Kilpatrick said. “We go through and we find a game, build something fun that we want to play, and then we just look at it and say, well what’s the appropriate way that the Christian worldview would make sense in this game? And we just apply it through there.”

Pangolin's Puzzle

Pangolin’s Puzzle represents the tenet of stewardship, or caring for the Earth and all of the creatures in it. It began as a much larger game, featuring 60 of the world’s most overlooked animals — the ones that don’t make it into zoos because they’re too noisy or smelly or unsightly, Kilpatrick explained. Eventually, Sara and Tim Kilpatrick scaled it down to just one animal, the scaly, beady-eyed pangolin, which faces extinction as the most-trafficked mammal in the world. Demand for the pangolin is high in China, where people desire its scales, meat and blood. Pangolin scales are boiled down and used in traditional medicine, their blood is viewed as a healing tonic, and their meat is a delicacy in some regions.

“The big fear is that they’re going to be extinct before anybody even knows they exist,” Kilpatrick said. “And so, we just really felt passionately about the pangolin, fell in love with him, and wanted to make a game that could help him.”

“They’re going to be extinct before anybody even knows they exist.”

The Hero Factor Games team consulted with conservation groups like REST Namibia to ensure Pangolin’s Puzzle got all of the details right and it actually supported positive change. The game has in-app purchases, allowing players to buy hints, and half of the profits from this system benefit conservation efforts around the globe.

“These people are sacrificing everything to try to save these animals,” Kilpatrick said. “And so all of that just kind of went into us — as Christians, we see the environment as God’s creation. We should be taking the best care of it that we possibly can and saving these animals, and not letting them go extinct. We just felt this was the right way to do it for this game.”

Kilpatrick said there are a lot of Christian video game fans out in the wild, and even a handful of Christian-centric games. He called out That Dragon, Cancer by Numinous Games as the most high-profile title — it tells the true story of the Green family as their youngest son, Joel, battles an aggressive form of cancer. That Dragon, Cancer picked up a handful of accolades in 2016, including a SXSW Gaming award, two Games for Change wins and the “Games for Impact” prize at The Game Awards.

Because of their focus on social change and the depth of the human experience, both That Dragon, Cancer and Pangolin’s Puzzle can be shuffled into the category of “games for change” or “socially aware games.” This segment has expanded on the mainstream marketplace in recent years, with popular, award-winning projects like 1979 Revolution: Black Friday, Cart Life and Papers, Please.

Pangolin’s Puzzle may be a Christian game first, but it has a home alongside other socially aware titles and philanthropic studios. Kilpatrick said Hero Factor Games hasn’t encountered any extra challenges as a Christian studio.

“It doesn’t feel any harder or anything,” he said at the Tulsa Pop Culture Expo, where Pangolin’s Puzzle won the Scissor-Tail Prize for the best game from an Oklahoma studio. “We’re here, sitting alongside all these wonderful developers, having a blast integrating and sharing our games with each other. It’s just games. And we’re just in love with games.”

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