Which phone manufacturer had the best year in 2017? [Poll of the Week]

Last week’s poll summary: Out of almost 23,800 total votes, 25.1% of our readers said the Galaxy Note 8 is the best Android smartphone of 2017. 18.9% voted for the OnePlus 5T, 18.2% voted Pixel 2 XL, and 11.3% said the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is the top device of the year.

2017 brought us some of the best smartphones we’ve ever seen. It was also the year that we saw many Android OEMs come into their own.

Samsung had a particularly tough year, as it not only had to recover from the Galaxy Note 7 recall, it also had to win the trust back of consumers. Samsung worked hard to bring trust back to its brand, which resulted in the Galaxy S8 and Note 8— two of the best Android smartphones ever made.

OnePlus has also stepped things up this year, particularly with the launch of the OnePlus 5T. The OnePlus 5 felt a little stuck in the past, but the 5T brought an improved camera experience and a fantastic 18:9 OLED display. OnePlus continues to make improvements every year. It’s crazy to think this is the same company that had so many weird missteps a few years back.

See also

Huawei made some huge strides in 2017 with the launch of the Mate 10 Pro. Not only did that phone win our Best of Android 2017 competition, it feels like Huawei is becoming more original than ever before. Some might complain of Huawei’s software being too aggressive in some areas, but the improvements on the design/build front cannot be overstated.

I’d also like to mention HMD Global, the proud owners of the Nokia brand name. The Nokia 8, the company’s 2017 flagship, holds its own against the other competitors on the market. Android Authority actually named HMD Global as the best smartphone brand of 2017.

In your opinion, which smartphone manufacturer had the best year? Cast your vote in the poll below, and speak up in the comments if there’s anything you’d like to add.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

Does PHP & XML work together in the same place ? LoL , Yes, they do !

PHP and XML


XML stands for Extensible Markup Language. A markup language is used to annotate text or add additional information. These annotations are not shown to the end-user, but are needed by the ‘machine’ to read and subsequently process the text correctly.An XML document is plain text and contains tags delimited by < and >.
XML plays a significant role in the present world of web development, it is perfectly useful for those who wish to make use of web technologies for distributing information across the web.
XML is used to format a document with a web browser. It is an influential and effectual tool to process a document’s contents and therefore, creating own tags is possible with XML. It works well with any operating system and maintains a great amount of flexibility, which is very essential for the web development scenario. 

Parsing an XML Document

Parsing is usually applies to text  it is  the act of reading text and converting it into a more useful in-memory format, “understanding” what it means to some extent.
An XML Parser is a parser that is designed to read XML and create a way for programs to use XML.

PHP – Simple XML

PHP 5’s new SimpleXML module makes parsing an XML document, well, simple. It turns an XML document into an object that provides structured access to the XML.
The simple XML parser is used to parse Name, attributes and textual content.
The simple XML functions are shown below:


simplexml_load_file():

This function accepts file path as a first parameter and it is mandatory:
simplexml_load_file(($fileName,$class,$options,$ns,$is_prefix)

simplexml_load_string():

This function accepts the string instead of file reference.
simplexml_load_string($XMLData,$class,$options,$ns,$is_prefix)

simplexml_import_dom():

This function accepts DOM formatted XML content and it converts into simple XML.
simplexml_load_string($DOMNode,$class)
Assuming we’ve got our XML file above saved as a file called sctpl.xml in the same folder as our php file, we can read the whole feed into an object with the following code.

<?php
$sctpl = consultancy('sctpl.xml');
?>


PHP – Simple XML GET:

Get Node Values:

Consider following XML file:
sctpl.xml:
<SCTPL>

<Location >
<address>4/B wing,Trishul Apartments,Sindhi Society Rd Number1,Chembur, Mumbai.
</address>
<phno> 022-25277413 </phno>
<facebook>https://www.facebook.com/suvenconsultants/</facebook>
<youtube>https://www.youtube.com/user/rockyjagtiani</youtube>
<Location>

</SCTPL>

Following Code will return value of address,phno,facebook,youtube nodes:

Example

<?php
$xml=simplexml_load_file(“sctpl.xml”) or die(“Error: Cannot create object”);
echo $xml->Address . “<br>”;
echo $xml->phno . “<br>”;
echo $xml->facebook . “<br>”;
echo $xml->youtube; ?>
Output of above code will be:
4/B wing,Trishul Apartments,Sindhi Society Rd Number 1,Chembur, Mumbai 

022-25277413

https://www.facebook.com/suvenconsultants/

https://www.youtube.com/user/rockyjagtiani


Get Node Values of Specific Elements

Consider another XML file:

SuvenConsultancy.xml:
<SCTPL>

<Location name=”Chembur”>
<address>4/B wing,Trishul Apartments,Sindhi Society Rd Number1,Chembur, Mumbai.
</address>
<phno> 022-25277413 </phno>
<facebook>https://www.facebook.com/suvenconsultants/</facebook>
<youtube>https://www.youtube.com/user/rockyjagtiani</youtube>
<Location>

<Location name=”Kandivali”>
<address>510, 5th Floor , Ghanshyam Enclave,Link Road, Lalji-pada JunctionKandivali West, Mumbai
</address>
<phno> 022-28674177</phno>
<facebook>https://www.facebook.com/suvenconsultants/</facebook>
<youtube>https://www.youtube.com/user/rockyjagtiani</youtube>
<Location>

</SCTPL>
The following example gets the node value of the <phno> element in the first and second <location>elements in the “SuvenConsultancy.xml” file: 

Example

<?php
$xml=simplexml_load_file(“SuvenConsultancy.XML”or die(“Error: Cannot create object”);
echo $xml->location[0]->phno“<br>”;
echo $xml->location[1]->phno;
?>
The output of the code above will be:
022-25277413
022-28674177

Get Attribute Values:

The following example gets the attribute value of the “name” attribute of the first <location> element:

Example

<?php
$xml=simplexml_load_file(“SuvenConsultancy.xml”or die(“Error: Cannot create object”);
echo $xml->location[0][‘name’];
?>
The output of the code above will be:
Chembur

Want to learn Web Technologies?

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin Seriously Claims Ignorance of CDC Banned Words Report

“It’s the first time I’m hearing of that,” he said.

During a CNN appearance, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told host Jake Tapper that he knew nothing about the reported directive from President Donald Trump’s administration for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with other divisions under the Department of Health and Human Services, to stop using a list of banned words.

“Policy analysts at the Center for Disease Control as well as other divisions at the Department of Health and Human Services were given a list of forbidden words,” Tapper said to the treasury secretary. “Why would the Trump administration tell the CDC not to use a term like ‘science-based’?”

“It’s the first time I’m hearing of that,” Mnucnin said with a straight face. “I’m not aware of the directive at all.

The banned words list reported by the Washington Post includes “vulnerable,” “diversity,” “entitlement,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” 

Watch Mnuchin claim total ignorance below.

 

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ZTE confirms Axon 7 will be updated to Android 8.0 Oreo

  • ZTE has confirmed that Android 8.0 Oreo will come to the Axon 7
  • The announcement came via a forum post from a ZTE spokesperson
  • According to the statement, the update is “just around the corner”

If you’re still feeling glum about the sad revelation that the Axon 7 has been axed from ZTE’s production slate, then hopefully today’s news direct from the Chinese company’s mouth will help soften the blow.

In a surprising turn, ZTE has confirmed that its beloved mid-range phone will be updated to Android 8.0 Oreo in the near future. In a post on the unofficial ZTE community forums, Z-Union, a ZTE spokesperson said:

“We are announcing now that we are already developing Android 8 for the Axon 7, your positive feedback has been inspiring us a lot and made us very happy and because of this we try to get it customer ready as soon as possible for the best customers in the world, and I ask for your understanding because we still need some time to perfect it.”

While there’s no confirmed timeframe – the thread is titled “Android 8 is just around the corner” – the news that the Axon 7 will enjoy all of the myriad benefits of Oreo is enough reason for celebration.

Editor’s Pick

The Axon 7 originally launched in mid-2016 rocking Android Marshmallow out of the box with ZTE’s MiFavor UI over the top. The flagship killer was later upgraded to Android Nougat, which some may have assumed would be the end of the line for major OS updates.

As the folks over at Phandroid note, the confirmation comes via a European forum, although it seems likely that the Oreo update will eventually roll out to other regions, including the US.

In addition, it’s worth remembering that Axon M users are still waiting on Google’s latest update to arrive and ZTE will no doubt prioritize its unique dual-screen phone. It’s also unclear whether or not ZTE will stop at 8.0 or continue on to version 8.1 that recently rolled out for the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

Although it’s not quite the Axon 8 announcement some fans are hoping for, today’s news could mark a nice final hurrah for a phone that remains a firm favorite here at Android Authority.

12 Most Insane Rules From the Biggest Neo-Nazi Website on the Internet

White supremacist style guides are…different.

The Daily Stormer is an online hub for racists, white nationalists, anti-Semites, neo-Nazis, and other assorted angry white men. It’s run by Andrew Anglin, who’s been in hiding for months avoiding an SPLC lawsuit charging stochastic terrorism against a Jewish woman in Montana. (Even underground, Anglin has managed to pull in a healthy sum in donations from supporters.) Among the confirmed readers of Anglin’s site are Dylann Roof, who in 2015 murdered nine black parishioners in a South Carolina church, and James Harris Jackson, who murdered a black man in New York City using a sword last March.

HuffPost writer Ashley Feinberg recently got a bit more insight behind the curtain of Anglin’s operation via the site’s 17-page style guide for contributing writers. The document lays out a few standard rules and protocols, from good HTML practices to proper grammar dictates, as well as a few rules that apply only to racist bloggers. The guide is packed with writerly advice on how to promote Anglin’s goals, which begin with expanding readership and end with an all-out race war. The key, per Anglin, is to maintain the site’s veneer of “non-ironic Nazism masquerading as ironic Nazism.”

Here are 12 of the most insane pieces of advice from the biggest neo-Nazi website on the internet.

1. Always blame the Jews.

Anglin writes that the Daily Stormer is “designed to spread the message of nationalism and anti-Semitism to the masses.” To that end, he notes that authors’ “prime directive” is singular: “Always Blame the Jews for Everything.”

“As Hitler says, people will become confused and disheartened if they feel there are multiple enemies. As such, all enemies should be combined into one enemy, which is the Jews. This is pretty much objectively true anyway, but we want to leave out any and all nuance. So no blaming Enlightenment thought, pathological altruism, technology/urbanization, etc. just blame Jews for everything.”

Anglin goes on to assert that Jews should be blamed “for the behavior of other nonwhites” as well as white women. “Women should be attacked, but there should always be mention that if it wasn’t for the Jews, they would be acting normally.”

2. Go easy on the swear words, heavy on the racial slurs.

Contributors are discouraged from “an overuse of profanity” which “can come across as goofy.” But Anglin recommends liberal use of racial epithets, and even offers a helpful list of specific “allowed and advisable” slurs.

•Negro/Negroid
•Monkey
•Ape
•Spic
•Wetback
•Beaner
•Beanperson
•Kike
•Yid
•Sheeny
•Christ-killer
•Haji
•Sandperson
•Paki (can be used for non-Pakistani Moslems, especially Arabs, because that’s funny)
•Muzzie
•Chink
•Gook
•Zipperhead
And others

Anglin adds that while the n-word is also cool, it “shouldn’t be used constantly.” Let spontaneity be your guide, he seems to suggest. Keep people guessing about what new and disgusting way you’ll express your racist self!

3. Demean women, gays, black folks and, of course, the Jews every chance you get.

Anglin shares that “[f]*ggots can be called all the words for f*ggot,” though scatological references are frowned upon. He gives a specific list of words recommended for describing women, and the word “woman” doesn’t appear on it once. Instead, it features “slut,” “whore,” “bitch,” “harlot,” “trollop,” “slag,” and “skag.”

This is yet another moment when Anglin slips in a reminder to writers to shoehorn in more anti-Semitism amidst the misogyny. “Whenever writing about women,” Anglin requests, “make sure to follow the prime directive and blame Jew feminism for their behavior.”

4. But also, be sure to keep things fun and funny so people want to join the…clan!

The most insidious aspect of Anglin’s style guide is its repeated insistence on a stealth recruitment strategy that relies on humor and lightheartedness to get young white readers excited about white nationalism. He repeatedly admonishes writers to cool it with the super angry racist diatribes that might scare newbies off. Instead, he suggests, authors should infuse their racism with lots of jokes, like the hipster racism of Vice circa 2003. (Ironically, in this same document, Anglin trashes Vice co-founder and hipster-racism aficionado Gavin McInnes as a “bottomless bucket of lulz.”)

“While racial slurs are allowed/recommended, not every reference to non-white should not be a slur and their use should be based on the tone of the article. Generally, when using racial slurs, it should come across as half-joking—like a racist joke that everyone laughs at because it’s true. This follows the generally light tone of the site.”

Here’s the key, though: “It should not come across as genuine raging vitriol. That is a turnoff to the overwhelming majority of people.”

Anglin reaffirms that the goal is to lure new readers, and potential new adherents to the alt-right’s racist agenda, above all. And the way to do that is by dressing the message up in internet memes and provocative jokes, and then to drive the (racist) point home over and over again.

“[T]hough we do mean to keep readers who are already in the know informed and entertained, it should always be considered that the target audience is people who are just becoming aware of this type of thinking,” Anglin writes. “The goal is to continually repeat the same points, over and over and over and over again. The reader is at first drawn in by curiosity or the naughty humor, and is slowly awakened to reality by repeatedly reading the same points.”

You know how you can end up knowing the words to a song you hate if you hear it enough on the radio? Repetition works. And Anglin’s betting that his writers can beat the audience over the head with their message until it’s gotten inside their heads.

5. Again, avoid overt hatred, despite the fact that it’s precisely what you’re peddling.

“Most people are not comfortable with material that comes across as vitriolic, raging, non-ironic hatred,” Anglin restates in another section of the document. “The unindoctrinated should not be able to tell if we are joking or not. There should also be a conscious awareness of mocking stereotypes of hateful racists. I usually think of this as self deprecating humor—I am a racist making fun of stereotype of racists, because I don’t take myself super-seriously.”

He adds, “There should be a conscious agenda to dehumanize the enemy, to the point where people are ready to laugh at their deaths. So it isn’t clear that we are doing this—as that would be a turnoff to most normal people—we rely on lulz.”

To put a very fine, super ugly point on it: “This is obviously a ploy and I actually do want to gas kikes. But that’s neither here nor there.”

6. Quote liberally from mainstream media sources to borrow their validity and authority.

Anglin urges writers to recycle “large parts” from articles in mainstream news outlets as a way to siphon legitimacy toward his own site. The idea is to do a good enough job of combining verifiable facts with nonsense racist propaganda that the two start to blend together.

“Being able to see the mainstream source quoted allows us to co-opt the perceived authority of the mainstream media,” Anglin writes, “and not look like one of those sites we are all probably familiar with where you are never certain if what they are saying has been confirmed.”

7. Note the media outlets covertly helping us do our dirty work.

While suggesting that writers find concise versions of real news stories to incorporate into their posts, Anglin notes that two news outlets seems to share a similar worldview.

“RT and Breitbart have the benefit of being closer to our own spin on many issues,” Anglin writes, “meaning….they are more likely to include points of interest.”

8. Take inspiration from—who else?—Adolf Hitler!

A quote from Anglin, without commentary: “The basic propaganda doctrine of the site is based on Hitler’s doctrine of war propaganda outlined in Mein Kampf, Volume I, Chapter VI. If you have not read this, please do so immediately.”

9. By all means, stir up the anger and rage of violent racist readers, but do it in a way that ensures we can feign innocence in court.

As he notes in a section titled “Violence,” Anglin is well aware that “It’s illegal to promote violence on the internet.” But as someone holding out hope that the U.S. will break out into a wide-scale race war, he’s dedicated to surreptitiously urging violent attacks by his racist followers en masse.

If you’re writing about some enemy Jew/feminist/etc., link their social media accounts,” Anglin advises writers for his site. “Twitter especially. We’ve gotten press attention before when I didn’t even call for someone to be trolled but just linked them and people went and did it.”

He also suggests that “it’s totally important to normalize the acceptance of violence as an eventuality/inevitability.” So murderous racists like Dylann Roof and Anders Breivik are hailed as heroes using language so over-the-top it borders on comical.

“This is great because people think you must be joking,” Anglin cynically notes. “But there is a part of their brain that doesn’t think that…[E]ven when a person can say to themselves ‘this is ridiculous,’ they are still affected by it on an emotional level. Whether they like it or not.”

10. Use popular culture as a vehicle for the white nationalist message.

People like what they know, and so Anglin aims to replicate recognizable and widely known media to engage readers in a way they understand. Early on in the style guide, Anglin admits that the Daily Stormer “is in many ways modeled off of successful liberal blogs such as Gawker.” (Anglin has reportedly previously cited Vice and Infowars.) He recommends writers fill their posts with “pop culture gifs of the style that Buzzfeed uses.”

But beyond just mirroring cultural digital ephemera, Anglin suggests that writers subvert—or rather, “hijack”—popular memes to give them a racist twist.

“Cultural references and attachment of entertainment culture to Nazi concepts have the psychological purpose of removing it from the void of weirdness that it would naturally exist in, due to the way it has been dealt with by the culture thus far, and making it a part of the reader’s world. Through this method we are also able to use the existing culture to transmit our own ideas and agenda.”

The site got lots of attention when it dubbed Taylor Swift an “Aryan Goddess” and suggested the singer is “a secret Nazi.” (For the record, Swift tried to sue a blogger who essentially demanded she disavow the alt-right, at least until the ACLU intervened on the blogger’s behalf. Conversely, Swift has never threatened to sue an actual white nationalist for claiming she supports their cause.)

Anglin also notes he turned 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” into an anti-immigrant song, because racists are lazy, garbage culture vultures who steal black people’s stuff while complaining about the browning of America.  

11. There’s no such thing as bad press.

Remember how stoked the alt-right was when presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gave a speech about how awful they were? That’s because you can’t shame a movement bereft of morals and principles from jump. Also, because the alt-right’s unofficial motto is “there’s no such thing as bad press.”

“We should always be on the lookout for any opportunity to grab media attention,” Anglin affirms. “It’s all good. No matter what.”

12. Even the payment system is a ‘jokey’ homage to Hitler.

Feinberg found that neo-Nazi hacker Andrew Auernheimer, who also serves as systems administrator for the Daily Stormer, recently shared this information with a group of prospective contributors: “[O]kay basically, it works like this, you can write articles, if we dont like them you can put them on your own blog or whatever, if we accept them for publication we will pay you $14.88.”

1488 is a popular number among white supremacists and other garden-variety racists. Fourteen is a reference to the “14 words,” a racist slogan favored by white nationalists and the like. Two eights—the eighth letter of the alphabet—stands for HH, as in Heil Hitler. (During the 2016 presidential election, a PBS docu-special happened to catch an enthusiastic Trump supporter’s gigantic “88” hand tattoo.)

 

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Understanding Synchronous and Asynchronous JavaScript – paRt_2: JavaScript – its DiFFereNt


In the first part of this post, we saw how the concepts of synchronous and asynchronous are perceived in JavaScript. In this second part, Mr K appears again to help us understand how the setTimeout() and AJAX APIs work.


Let’s go back in past to the story of Mr. K and the date you wanted to go on! but what if you leave a task for Mr. K before outing and tell him that he can only begin to work on this task five hours after he got your message. 
He isn’t happy about it! But why does Mr H leave a message in the queue instead of directly contacting Mr K? Because as I mentioned in the first part, the only way to contact Mr K is by leaving a message to him via phone call — no exceptions., remember, he doesn’t take a new message until he is done with the current one, and if he takes yours, he has to wait for five hours to even start on the task. So, to not be wasteful of time, he brings in a helper, Mr H.
Instead of waiting, he asks Mr H to leave a new message for the task in the queue after the given hours had passed, and moves on to the next message.
Five hours past; Mr H updates the queue with a new message. After he’s done processing all the accrued messages prior to Mr H’s, Mr K carries out your requested task. So, this way, you can leave a request to be complied upon at a later time, and not wait until it’s fulfilled.

1:-> The setTimeout() method

Suppose you have a set of code that you want to execute after a certain time. In order to do that, you just wrap it in a function, and add it to a setTimeout() method along with the delay time. The syntax of setTimeout() is as follows:
  • setTimeout(function, delay-time, arg…)
The arg… parameter stands for any argument the function takes, and delay-time is to be added in milliseconds. Below you can see a simple code example, that outputs “hey” in the console after 3 seconds.
  • setTimeout( function() { console.log(‘hey’) }, 3000 );
Once setTimeout() starts running, instead of blocking the call stack until the indicated delay time is over, a timer is triggered, and the call stack is gradually emptied for the next message (similarly to the correspondence between Mr K and Mr H).
When the timer expires, a new message joins the queue, and the event loop picks it up when the call stack is free after processing all the messages before it — thus the code runs asynchronously.

JavaScript call stack with timer
JavaScript call stack with timer

2:-> AJAX

AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a concept that uses the XMLHttpRequest (XHR) API to make server requests and handle the responses.
When browsers make server requests without using XMLHttpRequest, the page refreshes and reloads its UI. When the processing of requests and responses are handled by the XHR API, and UI remains unaffected.

XMLHttpRequest we API
XMLHttpRequest we API

XMLHttpRequest Web API

Now, where is the “asynchronous” in this! Just using XHR code doesn’t mean it’s AJAX, because the XHR API can work in both synchronous and asynchronous ways.
XHR by default is set to work asynchronously; when a function makes a request using XHR, it returns without waiting for the response.
If XHR is configured to be synchronous, then the function waits until the response is received and processed before returning.

Code Example 1

This example presents an XMLHttpRequest object creation. The open() method, validates the request URL, and the send() method sends the request.

Asynchronous XHR

var xhr = new XMLHttpRequest();
xhr.open(“GET”, url);
xhr.send();
Any direct access to the response data after send() will be in vain, because send() doesn’t wait until the request is completed. Remember, XMLHTTPRequest is set to work asynchronously by default.

Code Example 2

The hello.txt file in this example is a simple text file containing the text ‘hello’. The response property of XHR is invalid, since it didn’t output the text ‘hello’.

Asynchronous XHR

var xhr = new XMLHttpRequest();
xhr.open(“GET”, “hello.txt”);
xhr.send();
document.write(xhr.response); // empty string
XHR implements a micro-routine that keeps checking for response in every millisecond, and triggers complimentary events for the different states a request goes through. When the response is loaded, a load event is triggered by XHR, which can deliver a valid response.

Asynchronous XHR

var xhr = new XMLHttpRequest();
xhr.open(“GET”, “hello.txt”);
xhr.send();
xhr.onload = function(){ document.write(this.response) } // writes ‘hello’ to the document
The response inside the load event outputs ‘hello’, the correct text.
Going the asynchronous way is preferred, as it doesn’t block other scripts until the request is completed.
If the response has to be processed synchronously, we pass false as the last argument of open, which flags the XHR API saying it has to be synchronous.

Synchronous XHR

var xhr = new XMLHttpRequest();
xhr.open(“GET”, “hello.txt”, false);
xhr.send();
document.write(xhr.response); // writes ‘hello’ to document

Conculsion

If you know how the puzzle fits, you can avoid confusion of stTimeout() and AJAX requests. You know that the delay time in setTimeout() does not indicate the time when the code execution starts, but the time when the timer expires and a new message is queued, which will only be processed when the call stack is free to do so.

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The best tech gifts for men

Yes, the holidays are almost here again, and so if you haven’t finished shopping yet, it’s time to start thinking about what to get those special people in your lives. Or the people you want to suck up to – could go either way. So this year, we have a roundup of some of the best gifts you can give that will apply to most guys… though many of them will honestly make sense for anyone regardless of age or gender. Or you can go regift that fondue set from last year. We won’t judge. Should you decide not to go that route, here are some things you can think about.

Looking for even more options? Check out the following guides:

  • 10 cheap tech gifts that only look expensive
  • Best tech gifts under $25
  • Best tech gifts under $50
  • 11 cheap secret Santa gifts
  • These gifts look like they come straight out of Star Trek
  • 6 geeky gift ideas that aren’t just for nerds anymore

Exercise tracker

Exercise trackers are a thing these days. They allow you to track your steps, heart rate, and a number of other vital statistics to keep you healthy and happy. The Fitbit Blaze is Fitbit’s first foray into smartwatch territory. The Fitbit Blaze uses Fitbit’s custom software to track your body’s stats, and deliver some smartwatch notifications as well. The design is a little on the chunky side, but it can average around four days of battery life.

See more

If Fitbit isn’t his style, maybe give the Garmin Vivosmart a look.

Get Fitbit Blaze at Amazon
Get Garmin Vivosmart at Amazon
 

Home Assistant

Home assistants are one of those items that, once you have them, you can’t live without them. From checking on weather, appointments, or traffic to controlling your smarthome, a home assistant is one of the more futuristic technologies available today. But they can be a little pricey and it seems like something one wouldn’t buy for oneself, which is what makes it a perfect gift!

Google Home is a great product, and it even allows you to make phone calls and play movies and YouTube videos on your Chromecast-connected TVs. Google Home is a jack-of-all-trades kind of product, while other home assistants are a little more focused in one area or another. So, The home is definitely our recommendation in this gift guide. Check it out in the links below.

If your recipient is more Amazon-focused, then the second-generation Echo is also a great buy. Don’t forget both Google Home and the Amazon Echo have “mini” counterparts – you know, if you don’t love them THAT much.

See more
Get Google Home at Google
Get Amazon Echo at Amazon

VR Headset

In the world of VR, Oculus is by far the best known brand out there. While devices like the HTC Vive offer an outstanding experience the Oculus Rift headset is one of the go-to models in the world of VR. It offers a great array of games, plus support from a multi-billion dollar company which is always helpful. The Oculus Rift requires a pretty hefty computer to hook up to, much like the Vive, but the price is a bit lower – around $100 dollars lower.

Truth be told, the HTC Vive is a great experience too – you won’t really go wrong with either one. But Oculus has the name recognition and has a much stronger source of cash, tipping the scales in its favor.

Of course, if your recipient has a Playstation, the Sony Playstation VR is a great headset as well.

Get Oculus Rift at Amazon
Get HTC Vive at Amazon
Get PlayStation VR at Amazon

Headphones

In case you haven’t noticed, wired headphones are a dying breed. At least, those with a 3.5mm jack are. It remains to be seen what will happen with USB Type-C connectors or lightning connectors (hashtag #courage). For now, it’s best to adapt or die, so let’s talk about some bluetooth headphones.

The Jaybird X3 bluetooth in-ear headphones are sleek and stylish with great connectivity. These headphones come with a nice carrying case as well, making them a nice little package. That being said, these are in-ear monitors, which isn’t for everyone. The sound coming from them tends to be good, but not great, so if sound quality is of the utmost importance, or you’re not a fan of in-ear headphones, you may want to look at the Grado SR60e instead.

Get Jaybird X3 at Amazon
Get Grado SR60E at Amazon

Media Streaming

More and more of our content is coming from the internet these days. With the somewhat recent introductions of cable replacement services, like YouTube TV, Sling TV, and others, cord-cutting is becoming a real possibility for many folks out there. Of the wide variety of set top boxes that are out there, Roku stands above the rest. First and foremost, Roku has been doing this for a long time – long before the cord cutting phenomenon began. The Roku Express is an inexpensive, but not underpowered little box that can load up all of your cord-cutting apps without breaking a sweat, and without breaking the bank.

Roku’s UI is also very nice and very streamlined. Oddly enough, Amazon’s Instant video app works much better on the Roku than it does on the Fire Stick. Go figure. Speaking of the Fire Stick, that’s not a bad alternative to a Roku, if you happen to like Amazon’s interface and ecosystem.

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Get Roku Express at Amazon
Get Amazon Fire TV Stick at Amazon

Tablet

The future of tablets doesn’t really look all that bright if we’re going to be totally honest. But, there are still some solid use-cases for tablets today. The aforementioned cord-cutting/media streaming is a big one. Gaming is a solid number two. Whatever the case, tablets are still here, and they’re still fun to play with. And in the tablet space, the industry leader is far and away the iPad. From its inception the iPad has handled the transition from small phone screen to large tablet screen the best. Apps are designed exclusively for the iPad, and not just scaled up.

Sure, the iOS interface is about as exciting as watching paint dry in a cornfield in Iowa after 8 hours of fishing having caught no fish. I may be overstating, but the point is, even though the interface is not exciting, the apps make the ecosystem, and iPad app development is not going anywhere any time soon. However, if you’re a fan of thumbing your nose at industry trends, the runner up in the tablet market – the Amazon Fire also sports a solid lineup of devices to choose from with its own app ecosystem – assuming you can live without Google services.

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Get iPad Pro at Amazon
Get Fire tablets at Amazon

Phones

Of course if you really want to blow away a man during the holidays, who doesn’t love a new phone to play with. And recently, the Google Pixel 2 XL is one of the most solid phones you can buy today. It’s true, there may or may not be some screen issues, and until those can be addressed it’s hard to throw a lot of weight behind this recommendation. But, by the time you procrastinators out there are looking to shop for the holidays, perhaps we might have more clarity.

That being said, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is also a great phone to pick up for the holidays. Samsung has been absolutely killing it in the hardware department, and the Note 8 takes real advantage of that stylus. For a powerful phone that will last and last, the Note 8 might just be your phone of choice this holiday season – especially when it comes to snapping photos and sending them to friends and family.

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Get Google Pixel 2 XL at Verizon
Get Samsung Galaxy Note 8 at Amazon

Laptop

But since we’re talking about computing power, why settling for a phone or tablet when a full-blown laptop might be just what the doctor ordered. And in that area, the Dell XPS 13 is a beautiful line of laptops that absolutely kills it in the hardware department. The Dell XP 13 laptop can be just as powerful as you need it to be – it’s a very versatile line of laptops and comes in a number of configurations. But all of them come in the same gorgeous package.

If you’re not a Windows fan, give a long hard look at the ASUS Chromebook Flip. With a full touchscreen, tablet mode, USB-C ports and more, this is a solid contender in the Chromebook space.

Get Dell XPS 13 at Amazon
Get Asus Chromebook Flip at Amazon

Robot vacuum

When you think of robot vacuums, you think of Roomba. Sometimes you think of a puppy on a Roomba, but that’s a different conversation. Having a robot vacuum wandering around the house, doing what you hate to do is one of those wonderful things that you don’t think you need, until you have it. Giving this as a gift to someone is another one of those “you won’t buy it for yourself, so here” gift ideas. The Roomba 690 is one of the midrange options which gets you a lot of bang for your buck. It has WiFi connectivity and can be controlled using an app, plus there’s a host of other bonuses and add-ons that are pretty huge.

If the Roomba doesn’t float your boat, you can also take a look at the iLife A4. We also have a breakdown of a number of different robot vacuums over on DGiT.

Get Roomba at Amazon
Get iLife A4 at Amazon

Smart Coffee Pot

Coffee is arguably one of the most important parts of waking up in the morning. Millions of customers standing in line at Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and more every day can’t be wrong. But this is the future, and the future of coffee is in the smart Coffee Pot. Not to mention, we all like to drink coffee while we watch radar; everyone knows that. Enter the Mr. Coffee Smart WeMo Coffee Maker. This app-controlled coffee pot lets you automate much of the coffee making process – check the status of the coffee pot, set daily schedules for brewing, etc.

Alternatively, you could also take a look at the Behmor Connected Coffee Pot. We also wrote up a comprehensive look at smart coffee pots over a DGiT. Take a look!

Get WeMo Coffee Maker at Mr. Coffee
Get Belmor Coffee Maker at Amazon

TV

Vizio.com

Nothing says love during the holidays like a new TV, but getting the best new TV, without busting your budget can be a pretty big ask. The Vizio M Series 55-inch TV offers a lot of bang for your buck, and comes with an Android tablet to boot. The downside is, you use this android tablet as a remote which can be less than ideal. But to wrap up a TV and a tablet for the holidays, is a pretty big win in our opinion, so this would be a good way to go.

If you’re looking for a TV for gamers, the TCL P607 is a solid buy as well. Both TV’s are full array backlit instead of edge lit resulting in better black levels.

Get Visio TV at Amazon
Get TCL TV at Amazon

Drone

What man doesn’t want a drone? For the money, the DJI Spark is one of the best out there. Remarkably slim and stable, you can even fly the DJI spark using gestures, rather than a remote. Sure, it’s mostly a parlor trick at the moment, but it’s still pretty awesome tech and fun to brag about at parties. The DJI Spark is a great, “Grab and go” type of drone which will get you some great shots, and has a fair bit of range as well.

But it you want to really blow their doors off, take a look at the Phantom 4, also by DJI. The Phantom 4 is the Cadillac of drone flying with a range of two miles and more. Learn even more about your drone options over at DroneRush.

Get DJI Spark at Amazon
Get DJI Phantom 4 at Amazon

Home Game Console

At the beginning of the year, Nintendo came out with its new gaming console, the Nintendo Switch. At first, the console was tough to get hands on. Now the system can be had at most retail outlets without much hassle. The Nintendo Switch is one of the most versatile gaming systems out there. The tablet-like console has controllers on either side that slide off, the tablet itself has a kickstand, plus there’s an included dock to hook the console up to a TV. It is very close to an optimal gaming solution.

It’s not without its drawbacks – it’s a little underpowered compared to most modern gaming consoles. But the versatility of gaming scenarios, from family game nights, to road trips is pretty much unparalleled by any other system. If you know a gamer who doesn’t have a Nintendo Switch, this would put a smile on their face. Of course you could also get an Xbox or PS4, but odds are the person in your life already has one if they are into games at all. 

Get Nintendo Switch at Amazon

Smartwatch

Smartwatches are one of those fun accessories to a smartphone that you need to use, in order to understand. Unlike many accessories of this nature, there’s a pretty high barrier of entry to get in on this trend. So, what better way to bring joy to a man’s heart than with the gift of a smartwatch. The Samsung Gear S3 Frontier smartwatch is a stylish smartwatch that works great with his Android smartphone. The Tizen-based watch even add Samsung Pay ability through the watch, making contactless or magnetic stripe payments fun and easy. The days of cash are numbered and contactless payment opportunities are becoming more and more widespread. Best get on that wagon now.

Of course, if you need a watch for an iPhone user, look no further than the Apple Watch Series 3. No seriously, look no further, because that’s basically the only smartwatch that will work. The Apple Watch Series 3 adds LTE connectivity to the fold, which can be a great addition to the smartwatch family.

Looking for more options? Be sure to check out our guide to the best smartwatches.

Get Samsung Gear S3 Frontier at Amazon
Get Apple Watch at Amazon

Power bank

You can’t anticipate what’s going to happen on a daily basis, especially when it comes to your smartphone battery. So many smartphones today boast “all day battery life” which frankly leaves little room for error if your day is going to be longer than planned. Sometimes, you’ve just had a heavy gaming day. Whatever the reason, it’s always a good idea to have some extra juice on you when you need to tether on the train ride home, or entertain the kid while in line at the DMV. Does that seem to specific? Because believe me, it happens.

In cases like those, the Anker Powercore+ 20,000 mAh power bank might be a little on the beefy side, but it is very slick looking and slips easily into a bag. Plus it gives you PowerIQ technology and even a USB Type-C port for charging. This will top you off at the end of a long day, or keep you going during an overnight camping trip.

If you need something a little more compact, take a look at the Eighty Plus 10,000 mAh power bank. It’s a lot more sleek and also more attractive. We have a full rundown of a number of other power banks here on Android Authority. If neither of these two are exciting – well, that’s because they’re power banks, but we also have a longer list to look at.

Get Eighty Plus 10,000 at Amazon
Get Anker External Battery at Amazon

Tracking Beacon

People lose stuff. Like always. Which is why there has been a recent surge in tracking tags that attach to your stuff, so you can locate it when you lose it. Use cases for these things extend from wallets and purses, to bikes, to keys – you name it. Many of these tracking tag systems rely on the crowd to throw a blanket of coverage over an entire area. Connectivity range is limited, so in order to track items beyond 30 feet away from your phone, Tile users can report items they come across to their owners. It’s an elegant solution that requires a ton of user adoption in order to saturate an area.

Tile, and similar competitor Trackr have both gotten the type of widespread adoption required to make this somewhat of a reality. There are still gaps, to be sure, but GPS enabled trackers have miserable battery life and cost a lot of money. If you know someone who tends to misplace items, Tile or Trackr might just be a good stocking stuffer this holiday season.

Get Tile at Amazon
Get Tracker at Amazon

So that’ll do it for our holiday gift guide for the men in your life. ‘Are any of these items on your shopping list? Think we left something out? Hit us up in the comments below and let us know what you’ll be camping out on Black Friday for.

Disclosure: E-Commerce Content is independent of editorial content and we may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for more details.

Understanding Out of the Abyss

*Spoiler Warning*: This post contains spoilers about the Dungeons & Dragons adventure “Out of the Abyss” (OotA).

My first contact with Out of the Abyss wasn’t great. I was a player in a campaign based on that book, but the DM was a) inexperienced and b) had removed the starting chapter and removed it by a series of other adventures before leading us down into the Underdark. Now I can see the motivation for that: OotA starts the players as slaves of the Drow, in shackles, without gear; a start that is both somewhat cliche for the genre, and not the most pleasant one for the players. However after preparing the adventure now for another group I see how this start is absolutely essential to the adventure. Removing it leads to exactly the problem we had, that is wandering through the Underdark with no motivation, being unclear of the goal and purpose of the adventure.

The whole first half of Out of the Abyss is motivated by that start: The players escape and are pursued by the Drow. They are looking for a way back to the surface, while having to survive a harsh and strange environment, and having to find means to equip themselves. It is dark fantasy, it is a game of survival. And it doesn’t work without that start in slavery. If you ever want to play this, ask your players first if they are okay with a dark survival campaign instead of the more generic heroic fantasy.

To understand Out of the Abyss one needs to see how it inverses the sandbox approach of certain other D&D adventures, for example Princes of the Apocalypse. In Princes of the Apocalypse the dungeons and encounters are described in much detail, but it is left to the DM and players to figure out how to get from one dungeon to the next. That doesn’t work very well, because the dungeons have different levels, and playing them through in an order other than by level results in problems. Out of the Abyss takes a very different approach: The main story from the start to at least the mid-point, escaping from the Underdark, is linear. You best play chapter 1 first, then chapter 2, then chapter 3, etc., because it makes sense geographically and story-wise. But what exactly happens in each of the chapters is left open and is to be created by the interactive storytelling between DM and player. Chapter 1 is very clear about this being about a prisoner escape, but how exactly the players escape from prison is left to them. If they don’t do anything the DM has some events that will push them in the right direction, but ideally the DM first lets the players try their own ideas, and allows any half reasonable plan to succeed. The goal is for the DM and the players to both drive the story forward. D&D should never be adversarial, and for OotA it wouldn’t work at all if the DM didn’t “help” the players to escape.

One of the early highlights of that approach is chapter 4, Gracklstugh. There you get a complete description of a Duergar city in the Underdark, complete with who the different power factions are and what their interaction is. But you are left to play that city as a sandbox, the adventure doesn’t tell you where to start or which faction to support. Played right this might be a great short city adventure on its own. The obvious disadvantage of the approach, and thus of all of Out of the Abyss, is that it requires a great amount of preparation and/or improvisation from the Dungeon Master. This is very much a campaign for expert DMs. And I’ll find out in how far it works with newbie players, because that is who I am going to play it with.

Anthony Scaramucci Publicly Blasts ‘Loser’ Steve Bannon During Hannukah Party Remarks

The speech was supposed to be about his pilgrimage to Israel.

On Tuesday, short-lived White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci took a jab at fellow ex-Trump aide Steve Bannon at a New York Hannukah party.

As the New York Post‘s Page Six reports, The Mooch blasted Bannon as a “messianic loser” at Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s annual Hannukah party on the second-to-last night of Jewish holiday.

As Page Six notes, Scaramucci was at Rabbi Boteach’s party to discuss his recent trip to Israel — and was also the subject of a recent controversy after his “Scaramucci Post” Twitter account published a controversial tweet poll asking how many people died in the Holocaust.

“He’s a loser,” Scaramucci reportedly said. “He’ll be a stalwart defender of Israel until he’s not. That’s how this guy operates. I’ve seen this guy operate.”

“The problem with Bannon is he’s a messianic figure,” he added. “It’s his way or the highway.”

Scaramucci also once again brought up “leakers,” the ostensible subject of his rant to a New Yorker writer over the summer that likely led to his ouster a mere 10 days after taking his press secretary job. At the Hannukah party, The Mooch accused Bannon of “leaking on everybody” in the White House.

“I’m not Steve Bannon,” Scaramucci told The New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza in July. “I’m not trying to suck my own c*ck.”

 

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What is Ethereum? — a short guide

What is Ethereum EthereumPrice

You may be asking yourself, “What is Ethereum?” Well, Vitalik Buterin, a Canadian programmer born in Russia, invented Ethereum in 2015 by. It’s a cryptocurrency much like Bitcoin that allows you to make payments online. It’s decentralized, offers low transaction fees, and runs on a publicly disclosed blockchain that records each transaction.

Read: What is a blockchain? – Gary Explains

Ethereum’s currency is called Ether and is currently the second largest in the world in market cap, behind Bitcoin. There are reportedly around two million wallets that hold it, up from 1.6 million in May — showing the growing popularity of Ether.

How is it different from Bitcoin? Bitcoin aims to become a globally adopted currency that could improve or even replace conventional money. Ethereum, on the other hand, is more than a cryptocurrency. It’s also a ledger technology used to build decentralized applications (dapps) with smart contracts.

What are smart contracts?

Wikimedia

Smart contracts are programs that automatically execute exactly as they are set up by their creators. Their purpose is to offer more security by removing the middlemen that we would otherwise have to use. Confused? Let’s take a look at a simple example.

Let’s say you want to ship a large gift to your friend and hire a trucker to do the job. For the trucker to know you’ll pay him, and for you to be sure the delivery will be made, you both sign an agreement for shared peace of mind. This takes time and can be expensive, as you need someone who will draw up the paperwork for you, and so forth.

This process can be simplified with a smart contract. You make the payment the day the package is picked up, and the smart contract will automatically transfer the money to the trucker as soon as your friend confirms the delivery has been made.

How is Ether created and where can I get it?

CoinSpectator

Like Bitcoins, Ethers are created through a process called mining. This requires expensive and specialized computers that have to perform complicated calculations. Mining is mainly done by large companies that are compensated for their work with newly minted Ethers.

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Unfortunately, you won’t make any money by mining with your personal PC, even if it’s a high-end model. So how can you get your hands on Ethers? You can earn them by providing goods and services to people who can pay you with the digital currency. The second option is to buy them from a marketplace like Coinbase with your credit card.

The Ethers you own are stored in a wallet secured with a private key. You can keep it in the cloud or offline, with the latter being a much safer option. The important thing is that you don’t lose the private key. If that happens, you won’t be able to access your money.

How much does it cost and what determines the price?

Crypto-News

Now that we have figured out the answer to the “What is Ethereum?” question, how much do Ethers really cost? Ethers were cheap when introduced back in 2015 — you could get one for less than a dollar. Their price has risen over the years and currently stands at around $430 each (exact value can be found in widget below). The sharp increase means Ethers can be a great investment, same as Bitcoins and many other cryptocurrencies. For example, if you bought $1,000 worth of Ethers in 2015 when they were worth $0.50 a piece, you would have $860,000 today.

Before you get too excited, keep in mind that investing in cryptocurrencies can be risky.

Before you get too excited, sell your house, and buy as many Ethers as you can get, let me remind you that investing in cryptocurrencies can be risky. Sure, a lot of them have increased in value in recent years, but that doesn’t mean this trend will continue. Cryptocurrencies are volatile, meaning their price can go up and down significantly in a single day. This makes them less stable than standard currencies like the dollar and euro.

How exactly do we determine their value? Like Bitcoins, gold, oranges, and every other item available on the market, supply and demand determine the price of Ethers.

The Merkle


Ethereum can be hard to understand at times. The same goes for Bitcoins and the rest of the cryptocurrencies available. But the fact is that they’re here to stay and might become a more important part of our daily lives in the future.

Many experts believe Ethereum has a lot of potential and could overtake Bitcoin as the largest cryptocurrency somewhere down the line. This is all speculation, though well within the realm of possibility. But like with stocks, gold, and other investments, no one can be 100 percent sure in which direction the price will move.

Hopefully we have given you an answer to the “What is Ethereum?” question. What are your thoughts on Ethereum and cryptocurrencies in general? Let us know in the comments.