Wednesday, November 30, 2016

High-water marque: Aston Martin's DB11

The DB is the backbone of Aston Martin – our reference through history. But we can't let 103 years of history hold us back. A key word for us is "progressive". We have to move forward and make a new history, so there was a lot of ambition when we began this project.

The DB11 is the first in what we call our "Second Century Plan". This lays out a model line that takes us to a new level. If you go back to 2000 and the launch of the DB9, we took Aston Martin from a cottage industry to an international one. This car takes us forward again.

When designing, we start first and foremost with proportion. Our cars are always based on a very simple line, a very dynamic feel; this gives them the look of moving while standing still. The real trick is the placement of the cabin - on the DB11, if you follow the line down from the roof through the windscreen to the ground, it goes right through the centre of the front wheel, meaning the main mass sits very neatly over the back wheel. But there's also sturdiness, the look a cat has when it lands on the ground on all fours. All this is quite easy to explain. The difficult part is putting all the engineering behind it to make it perform.

The front of the car is one of the most gentlemanly we've made. The nose is slightly higher and it has a "moustache". This is what we call the "X" line. The "face" of an Aston Martin is the face of an English gentleman. If you go back to wonderful cars such as the DB2 and the DB5, you'll see this moustache, but it had become a bit diluted and we wanted to bring back its beautiful curve, which defines the shape of the front and the lines that flow off it.

The front may give a nod to the past, but we have a little rule that says we're allowed to be romantic but not retro. The design is not a pastiche or a copy of the past, but it does have a feeling of something you've seen before. That said, the DB11 is unashamedly modern. It has the most powerful engine a DB has ever carried: a 5.2-litre twin-turbocharged V12 with a top speed of 200mph and a 0-62mph time of just 3.9 seconds. We've paired with Daimler – who are now a minor shareholder in Aston Martin – which means we have access to all its technology. This has made a huge difference to what we can offer inside the car in terms of vehicle information and infotainment.

The industrial process dictates that you have to have split-lines, you have to mould things in a certain way. However, if you compare the DB11 with the Aston Martin Rapide, for example, you see those lines are now gone and we can use that space to make sculpture. We've made use of something we call "the infinity gap", so you never actually notice one part joining another and parts start to "float". The inspiration was the idea of a perfect pebble, with no marks on it whatsoever.

Another part of graphically imagining the DB11 was the roof. With this, we are adding a new story to Aston Martin: the roof can be either in a contrast colour or in the body colour. The latter "joins the car up" as one whole, but if it's, say, a contrasting black, you can separate the cabin from the rest of the car, which gives it a dramatically different look, or make it bright and so highlight it.

There are now all these different ways you can change the character of your DB11 that didn't exist before. We've introduced new ideas to emphasise the craftsmanship: brogue seating, new metallic and semi-aniline leathers and a really interesting array of woods and carbons. We even have an interior finish that looks like marble but is made up of thousands and thousands of layers of chopped carbon that are then machined back to create a type of veneer.

Finally, although this is a sports car, there's plenty of space inside. We're now accommodating a wider range of drivers – we offer a range of seats – and this is the first Aston Martin in which I don't have my seat to the floor. I'm 6ft 2in and while I physically can't get in the back of a DB9, this one I can fit into as a back-seat passenger. So, we've gone from unusable to full usability while maintaining a sleek profile. You can even fit an Isofix seat in the back for children. All in all, I consider the DB11 to be a true 21st-century Aston Martin.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Apple Is Testing Several Prototypes for Next Year's iPhone

Apple’s next iPhone could come with a major new feature, according to a report.

Apple is testing an iPhone with organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display technology that could allow for a curved screen, The Wall Street Journal is reporting, citing sources. The report says the OLED model would be in addition to traditional liquid crystal display (LCD) versions that Apple would also release.

Overall, Apple is working on “more than 10” distinct iPhone prototypes, according to the Journal.

Next year’s iPhone could be a major update over the current model, the iPhone 7. Next year marks the 10th anniversary for the iPhone, and both analysts and market researchers believe Apple wants to offer at least one model that delivers many of the innovations competitors like Samsung have offered for the last few years.

Samsung, for instance, has made a curved OLED-based screen with its Galaxy S “edge” line. The ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 Samsung released this year and subsequently discontinued because some caught fire or exploded also had a curved screen.

Apple has been criticized in the last several months for not offering many of the innovations its competitors have. Those complaints reached a crescendo in September when Apple unveiled an iPhone 7 that looked strikingly similar to last year’s iPhone 6s. It also lacked a headphone port, which elicited intense criticism. Still, the iPhone 7 is among the biggest selling smartphones available.

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Xbox One Interface Could Be Going Through Major Changes

The Xbox One's user interface could be going through major changes. There are some strong rumors pointing to new updates and upgrades to the way the Xbox Guide works, and some of the new tabs that could make an appearance might make access to games even easier yet.

According to Windows Central, the instant Guide access when you double tap the center Xbox button on the controller will have a new tab added to the quick menu. The tab will be a recently accessed menu, similar to when you open up Big Picture mode in Steam, and when you head into your library the first tab that pops up shows the games you most recently accessed along with games that were most recently updated.

This feature will supposedly be an extension on what was first introduced with the Guide feature, where gamers could quickly double-tap the center button on the Xbox One Controller and get a quick-menu of their friends list, party invite options and chat communication access.

Windows Central further states that the menu will display your pins so you can customize what's pinned in the menu. If you want your favorite movies in there, you can do that. If you want quick access to the Xbox Store, you can do that, too. If you want to be able to hop over to certain apps or game menus or even the system utilities feature for the Xbox One, you can also reportedly pin that to the new menu.

The article also mentions that instead of double-tapping your way into the Guide menu, Microsoft is supposedly investigating ways to get into the menu with a single button press.

One of the most shocking changes that's supposedly coming to the Xbox One's new UI is the complete removal of the Snap mode. Previously, this was the only way to listen to custom music in games until the Xbox One had native DLNA support implemented. Now, I'm not really sure what the benefit is of Snap mode, but it could previously show other features, modes or apps on the side while you played games or watched movies. The article notes that Microsoft could be replacing Snap entirely with a new PIP (picture-in-picture) mode that allows users to video chat with friends, listen to music through the Xbox Music app, or navigate with other apps using the picture-in-picture mode. The small window can supposedly be anchored to different positions, similar to how the broadcasting works in Steam or how you can use the in-app menu to pin other accessibility features to the window while you game.

Unlike Steam, however, the picture-in-picture mode for the Xbox One will supposedly work with any Xbox supported app. So you can technically have any other app multi-tasking while you do other stuff -- such as playing Gears of War 4 while watching a Let's Play of Halo 5, or listening to the last Chad Kroeger song while checking out the latest live-stream of We Happy Few.

Supposedly, this new overhaul of the Xbox Guide and the OS is being designed with the Xbox Scorpio in mind. This is all a precursor for the upcoming mid-generation refresh from Microsoft, which is due to drop in fall of 2017. In a way, it would make sense to prep the OS and other software features beforehand so that there's systematic symmetry and usability present when the system launches instead of having to upgrade, modify and iterate post-launch, which is basically what happened with the original Xbox One release, which was missing a ton of features when it dropped on store shelves back in 2013.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

$400 Round-Trip to Europe on OneWorld, SkyTeam Airlines

Black Friday has come early for travelers, with OneWorld and SkyTeam Airlines launching incredibly low round-trip fares from across the U.S. to more cities in Europe than we can count. Portland to Paris? Just $424 on Delta and Air France. Los Angeles to Amsterdam? $396 on American Airlines. Chicago to Madrid? We're talking $391 on Iberia.

All of these flights cost at least $900 on an average day, so these wide-ranging deals are giving us major wanderlust. According to Airfare Spot, the deal is valid for flights between January and mid-May 2017, so you could even book two (come on, book two) for the price of one round-trip to Europe.

Our top picks? Fly to Paris this spring but don't stay in town too long. Be sure to tack on a trip to Ruinart's Champagne caves in nearby Reims, just a 45-minute train ride away, if you fly in April or May.

Or head to Naples, not for its rich Italian history, but for its surprising contemporary art scene. If you're feeling festive, why not plan a trip to Dublin for St. Patrick's Day, as flights to the Irish capital are as low as $422 from the East Coast. If you can't tell, we're having a hard time choosing ourselves.

If you have a destination in mind, plug it in to Google Flights and use the calendar to find the best possible price. If you're looking for the lowest fare, take those dates to Momondo for an extra $30 or $40 off. If you're not sure where to go, let Google Flight's map inspire you. Type in your origin airport and preferred dates and then scroll down just a bit until you see a map.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

There's no going back now: Two months with iPhone 7 Plus

Even before Apple announced the iPhone 7 Plus, I made the decision to go big with this year's model, despite my reservations.

Once Apple confirmed nearly every rumor we'd covered and read leading up to the iPhone 7 announcement, including two cameras on the back of the 7 Plus model and increased battery life, there was no turning back.

On launch day, my iPhone 7 Plus arrived, and I spent a weekend adjusting and tweaking how I held the phone and where I placed it while driving my car.

By far, my favorite aspect of the iPhone 7 Plus is the size of the screen. From watching videos to reading news, I appreciate the added screen real estate.

Due to the increased screen size, I've found myself using my iPhone in landscape mode more often. When Apple first announced the larger "Plus" model iPhone 6 in 2014, the company also revealed developers could create custom interfaces to take advantage of the bigger screen, even in landscape orientation.

For example, when using an app like Safari in landscape orientation, you can view and manage tabs in the same manner as on an iPad or Mac.

I'm continuously surprised each time I rotate my phone and find myself interacting with more than one column of information in Mail or an iPad-inspired look in a third-party app such as Deliveries. Even the home screen is usable in landscape.

Other than when watching a video, I don't recall ever using the standard iPhone 6S in landscape mode. Now, it's a common occurrence.

After using countless Android phones with screens larger than 4.7-inches, I knew the added screen size would be useful. I just didn't imagine it being this useful on an iOS device.

If you recall, one of the headlining features of the iPhone 7 Plus over the standard iPhone 7 is an additional camera lens on the back of the phone that can be used to optically zoom, and thanks to some fancy software tricks, create a depth-of-field effect on some photos.

Despite announcing it at the iPhone event in September, the iPhone 7 didn't launch with Portrait mode. It wasn't until a few weeks later that Apple released a beta version of iOS 10.1 with a Portrait mode included for the iPhone 7 Plus. A few weeks after that, the update went live for all (although the Portrait mode feature is still labeled as a beta).

The short review of Portrait mode is this: when the software gets it right, it looks amazing. You'd be hard pressed to find another smartphone camera with a similar effect that can pull it off with the same level of clarity.

However, when Portrait mode gets it wrong, it's laughable. I've taken countless photos where the top half of a glass is cut off or an entire side of someone's face is blurred out all together.

That said, after you use Portrait mode for an extended amount of time, you begin to learn situations, subjects, and lighting environments that work well with the camera's latest trick.

Having the option to optically zoom in on a photo or video has proven invaluable, as I take photos of my kids or products for work. I want every phone to have optical zoom after using the 7 Plus.

MGCLS - LAX Car Service

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mercedes-Benz Considers Dropping Diesels In THe U.S

Volkswagen’s cheating scandal has taken a toll on the entire car industry, as stricter testing procedures now required by the EPA have delayed diesel certifications for a number of automakers. That includes Mercedes, which has a short-term plan for diesels, but may not offer them in the U.S. going forward.

Mercedes is working to get certification for a select few diesels in the U.S., but that may not be the case in the future if demand proves insufficient.

“We have to look at that and see whether it makes sense to offer diesels in the future,” Matthias Luehrs, VP of sales and product management for Mercedes-Benz Cars, told Automotive News. “We have not come to a conclusion but we obviously always tend to develop cars and offer vehicles according to customers’ demands.”

Demand for diesel cars and crossovers has been low “and is still lowering” in North America, Luehrs noted. Mercedes is conducting market research to help it make a decision on the matter. Getting rid of them entirely in our market “is a theoretical option,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mercedes is mostly optimistic about being able to offer diesels in the near future, saying its priority is to receive approval for the GLS350d. It had also applied for certification for the GLC and GLE SUVs. Mercedes announced last month that it was no longer seeking to offer a C-Class diesel next year in the U.S.

Other automakers aren’t shying away from diesels, including Mazda, which announced it will offer a CX-5 diesel for the first time in the U.S. next year. Despite all its troubles, Volkswagen is still committed to diesel engines in the U.S., but only when it makes sense. “We are not stopping diesel. Wherever diesel makes sense as a package to the car, we’ll continue,” VW Group of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken told AN earlier this year. However, he noted diesels will no longer be a core focus of the automaker’s U.S. brand identity.

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

The 14 best and most punctual airlines in the world

With private suites and onboard spas become commonplace, AirHelp Score has released its ranking of airlines to help sort the best from the rest.

AirHelp's ranking is one of the most comprehensive of its kind and takes into account a number of metrics in three key areas:

Quality and Service: Airhelp factors in details from to help determine an airline's quality both on and off the ground.
On-Time Performance: The company looked at the on-time departure statistics for each airline for the last three months.
Claim Processing: How efficiently each airline handled complaints and compensations claims was also taken into account.
Although big names like Qatar, Emirates, and British Airways appear in the rankings, some others may surprise you, including Italian carrier Air Dolomiti which earned a respectable second place.

14. British Airways — Britain had two airlines in the top 14 — more than any other country. London-based British Airways performed best in the claims processing category.

13. Emirates — Emirates is often considered the face of luxury long-haul air travel and that was reflected in its strong scoring for quality and service. However, its position was lowered by a weaker performance in the other categories.

12. Air France — The French carrier has had a fantastic year. In 2016, it won awards for Best First Class Airline Lounge Dining and Best First Class Comfort Amenities, but its lowest score was for the punctuality of its flights.

11. Lufthansa — With 268 aircraft in its fleet — excluding all subsidiaries — Lufthansa is Germany and Europe's biggest airline, yet still manages to provide exceptional service. It operates services to 197 international destinations and also won Skytrax's prize for Best Transatlantic Airline and Best Airline in Western Europe.

10. Finnair — Finnair is Finland's flagship carrier and was founded in 1923, making it one of the oldest in the world. Finnair excelled when it came to the efficiency and punctuality of its fleet which, in 2015, transported over 10 million passengers.

9. Air Canada — Air Canada is the world's tenth largest passenger airline by fleet size and also won Global Traveler magazine's award for the best airline in North America for ten consecutive years.

8. Cathay Pacific Airways — The Hong Kong-based airline was given full points for its quality and service. Skytrax respondents also gave the airline high marks for seat comfort, service quality, and in-flight entertainment.

7. Air Baltic — Latvia's flag carrier is a low-cost carrier that operates only within Europe. It had the lowest score for quality and service of all the carriers in the top 14, but scored remarkably well for its claims processing and the number of flights that arrive on time.

6. Virgin Atlantic Airways — Richard Branson's transatlantic carrier scored pretty evenly across the board, putting it in a healthy sixth place. The British airline recently partnered with US airline Delta putting it in direct competition with the British Airways-American partnership.

5. KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines — Founded in 1919, The Netherlands' flagship carrier is the oldest in the world and is still going strong. Its 156-plane fleet has one of the best safety records and is extremely punctual, with 88% of all flights arriving and departing on time.

4. Singapore Airlines — Singapore Airlines was one of the few to earn full marks for its quality and service, but its poor turnaround time in processing complaints and payouts means its overall standing was damaged.

3. Austrian Airlines — Austrian Airlines is a subsidiary of Lufthansa and has weathered labour disputes in the past few years to retain its position towards the top of AirHelp's ranking. Its service is punctual, it offers first-rate service, and complaints and compensation are handled efficiently.

2. Air Dolomiti — Perhaps an surprising contender for second place, Air Dolomiti is one of Italy's regional airlines but is controlled by Lufthansa. The company's fleet is made up of just 10 planes but had the strongest 'on-time performance' score of any of the airlines in the top 14.

1. Qatar Airways — The best airline in the world according to AirHelp is the Doha-based Qatar Airways. It scored well across the board but earned top marks for its overall quality and service. The airline flies to over 125 destinations across the globe and is expanding to a further 50 new destinations.

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Do the Lakers have the NBA's best bench lineup in the early going?

Since the preseason, Lakers Coach Luke Walton has done all he can to keep his five-man bench unit together.

He won’t break up Jordan Clarkson, Lou Williams, Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr. and Tarik Black. Not even when his starters miss games, as starting point guard D’Angelo Russell did in the Lakers’ (7-6) loss to the Spurs on Friday.

“Our second unit’s been the No. 1 bench in the league,” Walton said of why he started veteran Jose Calderon for Russell. “I didn’t want to mess with that at all. So that’s why we did it.”

Is Walton’s unwavering commitment to this group warranted, and it is truly the best bench unit in the NBA?

All 30 teams have played at least 11 games this season and five-man bench units have been a rarity, as most teams either stagger starters with bench players or have had to adjust for injuries. As a result, only 10 full-bench lineups have logged 20 or more minutes together this year.

In fact, only three full bench lineups have played 40 or more minutes together this season — one belonging to the Lakers and the other two to the Clippers.

So the question of whether the Lakers have the best bench lineup in the NBA can really be modified to this: Do the Lakers have the best bench lineup in Los Angeles?

The Lakers’ main bench unit has played 93 minutes together this season. Right behind is the Clippers’ main bench unit — which includes Raymond Felton, Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, Wesley Johnson and Marreese Speights — at 92 minutes. The third group, in terms of time, is that Clippers bench lineup with Brandon Bass in place of Johnson, which has played together for 44 minutes on the year. That is only because Johnson has missed the Clippers’ last three games with a heel injury.

Stats show the Lakers’ and Clippers’ main bench units have been equally good this season. The Laker group’s offensive rating, which measures points scored per 100 possessions, is 104.9. The Clipper group’s is 105.2. The Laker group’s defensive rating, which measures points allowed per 100 possessions, is 91.7. The Clipper group’s is 91.1. Both teams have played 13 games, and the Clippers (11-2) take on the Bulls at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The Clippers’ bench unit is able to space the floor better with Speights providing a three-point threat at center. But the Lakers’ bench unit has regularly gained extra possessions by attacking the offensive glass.

Since they are very similar on paper, one way to separate the two lineups is to compare them to the starters they play behind. That is a bit unfair for the Clippers’ bench unit, which is understandably not as good as the starters on both ends of the floor. The Clippers’ starting lineup has arguably been the NBA’s best five-man combination so far this season.

But this does underline how valuable the Lakers’ bench lineup is, as it has been significantly better than the starting lineup on defense and only slightly worse offensively. The Lakers’ starters have a defensive rating of 109.1 in 156 minutes this season, which means they give up nearly 18 more points per 100 possessions than the bench unit.

Does that mean the Lakers’ bench unit is better than the Clippers’? Not necessarily. Could it mean it has been more valuable so far this season? One could argue yes.

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Alfa Romeo and Maserati add SUVs to their sports and luxury car line-ups

Reid Bigland wears many hats at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, as head of U.S. sales and as boss of both Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands.

He was wearing his Italian headwear at AutoMobility LA, the run-up to the Los Angeles Auto Show, where he was performing U.S. introductions for new SUV models from both subsidiaries.

The SUVs are firsts for the two brands, Maserati’s Levante making its first appearance at the auto show and Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio getting its world debut on the AutoMobility stage.

The two Italian nameplates are trying to raise brand awareness by adding an SUV to their sports car and luxury car line-ups, and to bring new buyers to the brand by giving them a vehicle they find more useful than, say, an Alfa Romeo 4C racer or a Maserati Giulia.

Bigland dismisses questions that the two brands are coming late to an expanding SUV market that may have expanded to capacity. “We don’t think it’s too late by any means,” he said. “The exodus away from passenger cars is not abating. The segment is hot.”

Levante sales, so far, support his optimism. Maserati’s year to date numbers for 2016 are up 16% over 2017, Bigland said, while global September, October and November sales are showing rises of 50% to 60% over last year.

“Levante is playing a big role in that,” Bigland said, even though the SUV has only been in some markets a matter of months, and hasn’t yet debuted in Japan, Korea and other principalities.

It has begun selling in Los Angeles, but Bigland did not supply local sales numbers. “Southern California is the most important market for our brand in the United States,” he said. “We have very high hopes.”

There are also hopes for the Northeast and Northwest parts of the country, where snow and ice conditions may have led buyers away from Maserati and Alfa Romeo, and toward more winter-worthy vehicles made by Mercedes-Benz, Audi or BMW.

“We’re opening up whole parts of the world to Maserati,” Bigland said. “Places where it isn’t always 72 degrees and sunny.”

Bigland estimated that Maserati will sell 20,000 to 30,000 of the SUVs in 2017, and that Levante will account for 50% of all Maserati sales next year.

Some of the buyers are turning in their Porsche Cayennes, Bigland said. A surprising number are female – including a high percentage of single females, who are not generally the target customer for a high-end, full-size luxury SUV.

All is not rosy for the executive. As head of FCA’s U.S. and Canada sales, according to published reports, he is at the center of a  U.S. criminal investigation into whether the company had inflated sales figures in the past.

Bigland said he did not think there was any danger that the introduction of an Alfa Romeo SUV would eat into sales of its Maserati counterpart. Both vehicles are powered by engines derived from the companies’ partnerships with Ferrari, and both are long on Italian styling and heritage.

But the Stelvio is a mid-sized performance SUV, boasting massive horsepower and sports car handling, that should appeal to a younger, less affluent buyer – the MSRP has not yet been announced – and the Levante is a full-sized luxury SUV that appears to appeal to a slightly older, more affluent buyer.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Like It or Not, Los Angeles Is Obsessed With Italian Food

Is there any more enduring food trend in Los Angeles than the rustic Italian kitchen? Despite not having the sort of flashy Little Italy neighborhood you’ll find back east, Italian fare remains among the most beloved (and trustworthy, from a restaurateur’s perspective) thing you can serve. And adoring fans keep gobbling it up.

You see the move time and time again: where one restaurant fails, an Italian option takes over and does great numbers. Take for example A+R Cucina, the recently flipped former Sambar from owner Akasha Richmond. She said as much about Italian food being effortlessly popular in a note on Facebook announcing the shutter of her pan-Indian concept, and while it might rankle some folks it still remains largely true. Los Angeles is a city that will spend money on sit-down Italian food.

And now there’s O+O Sicilian Kitchen, which officially lands Friday in Santa Monica. The former tenant there was a vegan option under then name Elovate, but that went under and now we’ve got ravioli, wine, and eggplant parm — plus the beautiful patio you see above.

So how’s the food at O+O? Get there tomorrow to find out for yourself, but Eater suspects you’ll like it just fine. Everyone always does.

Can’t find what you’re looking for, cuisine-wise? Leave it up to the LA Times, who find themselves hot on the trail of South Indian dishes across Pasadena. All trails lead to Annapurna Grill and chef Suresh Albin, who is turning out some fantastic stuff you just don’t see that often.

Witness the return of The Rooster Truck, the breakfast dominator that’s been rolling through Los Angeles for nearly a year now. The rig has been popping up at AM coffee shops and late night stops again after an initial deal to move off-street and start serving some of their menu favorites as part of a funky new delivery start-up called Wake & Late failed to come to fruition.

Now owner Rouha Sadighi is back on the streets doing breakfast burritos and lots more, mostly on the Westside and centered around Abbot Kinney’s Blue Bottle, with stops Monday and Wednesday through Saturday. There are weekend Arts District stops though, and you can always follow them on Instagram to find out their next location.

Want something different this holiday season? Try a Norwegian-themed dinner at Brouwerij West in San Pedro. The Sunday, November 20 party goes down at 2 p.m. and runs $39 a head, which includes two pints of beer and hefty tastes of everything from cured whitefish (lutefisk) to those iconic meatballs and lingonberry sauce.

Black Friday is once again the time to have some stellar Chinese "classics" at E.P. & L.P. in West Hollywood, with chef Louis Tikaram doing his take on everything from shrimp fried rice and pork neck dan dan noodles to kung pao chicken and vegetarian dumplings. Prices are more than reasonable for the area, around $5-15 for most dishes. The menu runs November 25 from 6 p.m. and beyond.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

New performance tests show just how dominant the iPhone 7 really is

Remember a few short years ago when Android smartphone makers first began touting the specs of their smartphones as a big advantage of Apple’s iPhone line? Quad-core and octa-core processors — woo! 2GB of RAM… 3GB of RAM… so much RAM! Meanwhile Apple kept releasing new iPhones with dual-core processors and a measly 1GB of RAM.

What on Earth was Apple thinking?! Of course, when people actually got around to testing these brawny Android phones and pitting them against Apple’s iPhone lineup, they quickly realized that Apple’s smartphones routinely obliterated the competition. Again, and again, and again, and again.

On paper and in real-world speed tests, Apple’s iPhones always seem to come out on top. It’s not terribly surprising to people who are paying attention, of course, because Apple devotes tremendous resources to developing its own key components, optimizing them, and streamlining its iOS software. Well, a new batch of tests have just been released, and they help illustrate once again just how dominant Apple’s latest iPhone 7 really is.

Gadget fans have been sharing the results of head to head performance tests ever since the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus were released back in September. Apple’s latest iPhones have been pitted against the Galaxy S7, the OnePlus 3, the late Galaxy Note 7, the LG V20 and both new Google Pixel phones. Of course, the Pixel and Pixel XL are the cream of the crop this holiday season since Samsung’s Note 7 has been cancelled, so focus remains on how Google’s first “made by Google” phones stack up against Apple’s latest and greatest iPhones.

Well, to be frank, they don’t stack up very well.

We’ve seen the benchmarks and we’ve seen a handful of speed and performance tests, and now a new video published by YouTube user “Tech of Tomorrow” combines a number of performance related tests into a single video. We see how the Pixel stacks up against the iPhone 7 in a few key areas, and you might be surprised at how big the discrepancy is even with something as simple as Wi-Fi transfer speeds.

Then we get to the standard “real-world” performance test where the same series of apps is opened in order on both devices to see which phone opens them more quickly. A second “round” then tests how well each phone switches apps and holds them in memory.

Long story short, the results are pretty embarassing — Apple’s iPhone 7 completed both rounds in about the same amount of time it took the Pixel to complete its first round. There are a number of reasons for the performance gap spanning things related to hardware, platform and third-party development, but the endgame is simple: The user experience on the iPhone 7 is dramatically faster than it is on the Google Pixel.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

The brightest supermoon in almost 70 years rises tonight

An extra-super supermoon is rising this evening, and you don’t want to miss it.

Tonight’s full moon will appear bigger and brighter in the night sky than it has in nearly 70 years, and all you have to do to witness its shining glory is look up.

“Supermoon” is a non-technical term for a moon that turns full at the same time it hits perigee — the point on its orbit when it is closest to Earth. The moon’s path around our planet is shaped more like an oval than a circle, so there are times when it is closer to us (perigee) and times when it is farther away (apogee).

Supermoons occur about once every 14 months on average. However, Sunday night’s supermoon is extra super because the moon will be even closer to Earth than usual.

At its closest approach, the moon will be 221,524 miles from our planet, compared with an average distance of  238,900 miles.

The last time the moon sailed this close to Earth was on Jan. 26, 1948, when it came 30 miles closer. The next time won’t be until Nov. 24, 2034, when the distance between the two bodies will be 40 miles less.

Why does the distance between the Earth and the moon fluctuate so much?

As Bob King explained in Sky & Telescope, the shape of the moon’s orbit varies due to the ever-changing distances and relative position of the sun, moon and Earth. Thanks to variations in these gravitational forces, the moon’s orbit is sometimes more oval shaped, and other times more like a circle.

“When more oval, the Moon’s perigee point gets unusually close to Earth, and if a full Moon arrives at that point, it will be considerably closer to us than during those times when the lunar orbit more closely resembles a circle,” King wrote.

Astronomers warn that some skywatchers may be disappointed by this particular lunar show. At its closest (3:23 a.m. Monday morning) the lunar disk will appear 7% larger across, and 16% brighter than an average moon. Many people will not notice a difference, they warn.

But I say — don’t underestimate the power of suggestion. If you take a minute to gaze upon our glowing, gorgeous moon, and remember that it is closer to us right now than it has been in more than half a century, I bet you anything it will look a little more special and super than usual.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Why European airlines give you better consumer protection

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all about buying American. In fact, I’ll go out of my way to search for items made in the USA and will even pay more for American-made products.

But when it comes to buying airfare to foreign destinations, I think twice. Most people don’t realize that when you fly on a European-based airline, even if you actually buy the ticket on a U.S. carrier such as Delta, American or United (through a “code share” arrangement), your trip comes with consumer protections that you don’t get if you fly on a U.S.-registered aircraft.

That’s because the European Union several years ago issued regulations providing cash compensation for delayed or canceled flights, along with other protections, and they benefit not just Europeans but anyone flying on a European-owned aircraft.

It’s called EC Regulation No. 261/2004. If your flight is canceled fewer than 14 days before departure, or if it is delayed three hours or more, and the delay or cancellation was within the airline’s “reasonable” control, you can receive 250 euros for flights of up to 1,500 km (932 miles), 400 euros for flights within the EU of more than 1,500 km and for all other flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km (2175 miles), and 600 euros for all other flights. A euro at time of writing is worth 92 cents.

The same compensation applies if you are involuntarily bumped (denied boarding) from a flight operated by a European-registered airline (and again, it doesn’t matter if you bought the ticket from a U.S.-based airline).

What even some seasoned travelers who have heard about EU 261 may not realize is that the rule has been amended to include not just travel from Europe, but travel on any European-operated aircraft from the U.S. as well. And it also applies not just to travel to or from Europe but, say, on a flight from Los Angeles to Tahiti on Air France, or on Norwegian from Guadeloupe in the Caribbean to Boston or New York.

As long as you’re scheduled to fly via a European-based airline, no matter what airline you bought your ticket on, you’re covered.

In addition, you’re guaranteed the following:

•    meals and refreshments vouchers in reasonable relation to the waiting time, provided it won’t further delay departure of the flight
•    two telephone calls, telex or fax messages or emails
•    hotel accommodation and transport between the airport and hotel (if you’re offered a flight the next day)

Most airlines have information about how to make a claim on their website. (For example, British Airways can be reached at British Airways Customer Relations, EU Compensation Claims, PO Box 1126, Uxbridge. UB8 9XS, United Kingdom). Or, if you find the process daunting, several companies will make the claim for you and follow through until resolution. These include, and, all of which take a percentage of whatever funds you collect.

George Hobica is the founder of Airfarewatchdog features the best airfares on thousands of routes verified by a team of expert fare analysts

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

United Airlines to stop Belfast to New York flights

US airline United is to stop flights between Belfast and New York, months after a £9m rescue deal.

Two thirds of the money, which was to be given to United over three years, was to come from the Northern Ireland Executive.

The flight is the only direct air link between Northern Ireland and the US.

The European Commission has said EU rules do not allow public authorities to grant a specific airline an "undue advantage".

The financial assistance was revealed by BBC News NI in August. However, it is understood only part of the £9m aid was ever paid to United and it has now been refunded.

On Friday, United said the last departure from Belfast will be on 9 January.

United said it had taken the decision because of the route's poor financial performance.

"We will contact customers with bookings for flights beyond those dates to provide refunds and re-accommodate where possible. We apologise for any inconvenience caused," it added.

United's decision to axe its service between Belfast and New York is a setback for the airport and the Northern Ireland Executive.

But before now each had been mindful Europe could scupper a hastily arranged £9m rescue deal.

However, the gamble was considered worth taking, as without it United would have pulled out earlier.

Only part of the aid money has been paid and it has now been refunded.

Northern Ireland has long struggled to attract airlines on long-haul routes, while Dublin Airport rapidly expands its destination choices.

United's decision will not make the job any easier and, at the very least, is an undoubted knock to the prestige of Northern Ireland Plc.

Belfast International Airport said the flight is going because the European Commission blocked the funding package on state aid grounds.

The airport's managing director Graham Keddie tweeted that he was "absolutely spitting" about the decision which he blamed on "useless, faceless EU bureaucrats".

He said the decision would be a "body blow" to Northern Ireland executive ministers "who use it to promote Northern Ireland to would-be investors from the United States".

"To block a support package for an airline that delivers direct access to the United States is almost beyond comprehension," Mr Keddie said.

"The EU decision-making process is abysmal, biased and unfair and has resulted in the loss of this service."
'Undue advantage'

In a statement, the European Commission said EU state aid rules did not allow public authorities to "grant a specific airline an undue advantage to the detriment of competing airlines and distorting competition in the single market".

It added that the arrangement between United and the Stormont executive had been put in place "without prior notification" to the commission. The commission then received a complaint about the deal, which led to the ruling.

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said he was "baffled" by the EU ruling, and insisted that the executive did the right thing by trying to save the route.

"There was a risk to the flight and we stepped in to save it," Mr Hamilton said.

"Faced with the same circumstances again, I would make the same decisions. All public money has been recouped with interest and we retained the route for a longer period."

He said it was "deeply regrettable that unelected bureaucrats in Brussels have effectively scuppered this important flight for Northern Ireland".

He added that he would establish an air routes task force and said: "I have already been in discussions about bringing new airlines to Northern Ireland."

In September, MLAs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) were told the deal got rushed executive approval in the face of concern about value for money.

The NI Auditor General said Economy Minister Simon Hamilton issued a ministerial direction for the bail-out, which was endorsed by First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, "under emergency procedure".

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The Differences in Premium Economy on Delta, American Airlines

Some travelers want more legroom, others want unlimited cocktails, and some just want the cheapest seat possible. Airlines, in an attempt to cater to these diverging priorities, are segmenting their aircraft into an array of cabin classes that offer different perks. Large U.S. airlines are now scrambling to debut their premium economy cabin on international flights—the latest cabin class that attempts to fill the widening chasm between business class and economy. Delta Air Lines last week revealed details about what it has in store for its new premium economy, trailing its rival American Airlines’ announcement by several months.

Airlines often count on the tickets sold for the “front of the plane”—the higher fare cabins—to make a route more profitable, so it makes sense that they are looking for ways to expand those offerings. United Airlines, the third major U.S. airline with a large international route network, has not announced plans for an international-style premium economy cabin. (When asked, a spokeswoman for the airlines told Condé Nast Traveler, “We continually evaluate the products and services we offer our customers throughout their journey.”)

While premium economy is a relatively new term to passengers on U.S. airlines, it has been available for several years on many foreign-based carriers, like Air France, British Airways, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, and Japan Airlines. Still, premium economy can mean different things to different carriers. Here’s what passengers need to know about the U.S. airline industry’s version.

Delta: 19-inch-wide seats, 38 inches of pitch, and seven inches of recline; adjustable leg and foot rest, adjustable head rest
American: 19-inch-wide seats, 38 inches of pitch, and six inches of recline; adjustable foot rest, adjustable head rest

Delta: noise-canceling headphones during flight; 13.3-inch in-flight entertainment screen, compared to economy's nine-inch screen
American: noise-reducing headphones during flight, larger in-flight entertainment screen
Baggage and boarding

Delta: priority check-in and boarding, dedicated carry-on storage space
American: priority check-in and boarding, dedicated carry-on storage space


Delta: 19-inch-wide seats, 38 inches of pitch, and seven inches of recline; adjustable leg and foot rest, adjustable head rest
American: 19-inch-wide seats, 38 inches of pitch, and six inches of recline; adjustable foot rest, adjustable head rest

Delta: noise-canceling headphones during flight; 13.3-inch in-flight entertainment screen, compared to economy's nine-inch screen
American: noise-reducing headphones during flight, larger in-flight entertainment screen
Baggage and boarding

Delta: priority check-in and boarding, dedicated carry-on storage space
American: priority check-in and boarding, dedicated carry-on storage space


Delta: expanded meal selection served on non-disposable ware, complimentary alcoholic drinks, a dedicated flight attendant assigned to each passenger to provide more personalized meal and beverage service
American: expanded meal selection served on non-disposable ware, complimentary alcoholic drinks, and personalized flight service

Delta: Tumi-branded amenity kit with Malin+Goetz-branded toiletries and Westin bedding
American: blanket, pillow, and an amenity kit (American has not publicized what brands will be given out in premium economy, but, for example, business class seats receive a Cole Haan amenity kit)
What type of airplanes will be equipped with the new cabin?

Delta: The Airbus A350s and Boeing 777s. Each plane will have 48 seats in premium economy.
American: The new Boeing 787-9s. The airline also said it plans to retrofit some of its existing 777s, 787-8s, and Airbus A330s. It will install premium economy of its new Airbus 350s, which arrive in 2017. American is taking a smaller gamble on the new class, with only 21 seats in premium economy.
Where and—when—can you fly premium economy?

Delta: Its first airplanes with premium economy will enter service next year, with tickets available for purchase by fall 2017. Both the A350 and 777 aircraft are capable of long-range flying, so you can bet Delta plans to use these planes on some of the most grueling journeys—think Asia and long-haul Europe routes, for starters. Delta has not yet announced what U.S. cities will enjoy its inaugural routes with premium economy, but Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle likely top the list of contenders.
American: Last week, the airline debuted several airplanes with the new premium economy cabin on flights from Dallas-Fort Worth to São Paulo and Madrid. American will begin service from DFW to Paris in January and to Seoul in February. American says the next several months are its soft launch, and it will begin charging full-price for the seats by April 2017.
How much will the seats cost?

The airlines are not releasing that info yet, and the official tickets aren't yet for sale. But, an analysis of the foreign-based carriers' prices, done by Seat Guru by Trip Advisor, found that premium economy tickets are 65 percent more than an economy ticket, on average, when booked in advance.

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Toyota could abandon hydrogen in favor of EVs

Toyota has been vocal in its belief that hydrogen-powered vehicles like the Mirai will eventually replace gas and diesels. But this insistence makes the company's recent decision to launch a long-range EV similar to the Tesla such a surprise. Reuters (via Nikkei) is reporting that the carmaker will quietly reverse its longstanding resistance to pure all-electric vehicles in the very near future. It's believed that Toyota will launch a new EV with a range of around 186 miles on a charge by 2020 as it looks to make all of its products emissions-free by 2050.

The company has always said that electric vehicles are great for shorter journeys, but highway warriors will want more. Toyota's official line is that batteries are expensive, resource-intensive and have long recharge times that make it unsuitable for long commutes. By comparison, filling your car with hydrogen would mirror the experience of the gas pump, and it claims that fuel cells are greener, cheaper and go for longer.

But there are plenty of objections to Toyota's argument, including the fact that the cost of replacing all gas pumps with hydrogen stations would be astronomical. Not to mention that sourcing hydrogen isn't as efficient as charging a battery, since you need to expend power (via electrolysis) to produce it in the first place. Alternatively, generating hydrogen through steam reforming still produces greenhouse gases like methane and CO2. Which, given how the whole climate change thing is working out, isn't really the aim of the exercise.

The downside to Toyota's rumored change of heart is that the firm now lags in a sector where it previously led. After all, the Prius was the first "green" vehicle to win the hearts and minds of the mainstream, but rivals are now catching up. In addition, the Tesla Model 3, which the company claims will cost just $35,000 before incentives and have a range of 215 miles, is looming long on the horizon.

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Delta, American Airlines unviels new premium economy seats

Delta Air Lines on Thursday unveiled a new premium economy class seat for its airliners, seeking to tap into the fast-growing market for frugal business travelers and economy fliers who value comfort over price.

The move comes as carriers in the U.S. and around the world are rolling out new premium economy class seating for their long-range jetliners, aimed at filling the increasing gulf between the front and back of the plane.

The new premium economy class, dubbed ‘Delta Premium’ will add a new class of seating onto its upcoming Airbus A350s, which begin international service in late 2017.

The new section will be arranged at eight seats across each row, with two outermost seats separated by the aisles. Each 19-inch wide seat will feature a 13.3-inch in-flight entertainment screen, in-seat power ports and 38 inches of pitch, a measurement of the distance between the same point on two seats. That’s about six to seven inches of additional legroom and an inch wider than standard economy seating.

In addition to the larger seat, passengers onboard will receive a beverage before departure, an amenity kit, premium blanket, and noise canceling headphones. At the airport, a Delta Premium ticket will get you faster check-in and security lines, as well as earlier boarding and expedited baggage return.

Delta’s move follows American Airlines introduction of a premium economy class for its long-haul jetliners as well. Airlines around the world such as Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Air New Zealand, Air France and Iberia have all added new premium economy sections to their planes.

As opulent first class seats have faded from use, airlines have focused on courting high-value business travelers with fully lie-flat seat beds and other hotel-like amenities. Such tickets can run as much as a compact car, while an economy class seat has remained largely the same through the history of jet flying, wildly separating a passenger’s experience.

Airlines are seeking to tap into a quickly growing market for more frugal business travelers and economy fliers who are willing to value comfort and space over the price of a seat, said Henry Harteveldt, founder of the Atmosphere Research Group.

“As they develop these [premium economy] products there’s a balance between the premium side and the economy side,” said Harteveldt. “You want it attractive enough to attract someone from a standard economy fare…but you don’t want it to be so good that someone who usually flies business class will trade down to premium economy.”

The Atlanta-based airline will first fit its new long-range A350s with 48 Delta Premium seats and plans to deploy the new class on its Boeing 777s starting in 2018. Delta said its other jets may be added over time. Delta also plans to introduce an all-new business class seat with fully closing door on its A350s.

American’s own competing premium economy seating debuts on international flights starting with its new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on Thursday night, connecting Dallas-Fort Worth to Sao Paulo and Dallas-Fort Worth to Madrid Friday evening. The airline currently sells those seats under its Main Cabin Extra economy product rather than a distinct class, that begins next year.

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Los Angeles to Ontario about the airport: ‘There it is, take it’

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti hands a ceremonial key to Ontario International Airport Authority President Alan Wapner giving the city of Ontario control of the airport once again Wednesday. Officials with the city of Ontario, Los Angeles, and the region took part in a ceremony officially handing over the control of Ontario International Airport to the city of Ontario Wednesday.

The words, mimicking William Mulholland’s own from 1913 at the ceremony to open the Los?Angeles Aqueduct, were spoken once again Wednesday, this time by L.A.?Mayor Eric Garcetti at the ceremony marking the metropolitan city’s transfer of Ontario International Airport to local officials after 50?years of running the facility from afar.

Other dignitaries making an appearance include Sen.?Dianne Feinstein, members of Congress from the Inland?Empire, local leaders and former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. The invitation-only ceremony was held at the western end of Terminal 4, which remained in operation during the event.

Garcetti presented a ceremonial key to the airport to Ontario City Councilman Alan Wapner, who also serves as president of the Ontario International Airport Authority, which as of Tuesday, operates the airport.

“This is your airport, we intend to all use it together in a common future, in a common destiny,” Garcetti said.

Wapner, who served as emcee at the event, warmly presented Garcetti to speak to the large crowd as “Southern California’s mayor.” Garcetti wasn’t afraid to reference rancor of the election in his remarks.

“I think the lesson for all of us here today at this moment, when politics have gotten so nasty and politics have gotten so divisive, that we think power is what we cling to and we forget power is sometimes what we’re willing to give up,” Garcetti said.

Garcetti spoke about the mutual benefit the handover will have for both residents in Los?Angeles and the Inland?Empire.

“Those who live around Westchester around LAX want to see less traffic at LAX and want to see Ontario succeed. The folks in Riverside and San?Bernardino and Orange County and, yes, Los?Angeles County want to come to this airport because, yes, it’s quicker. And when we do big things — whether it’s working on homeless, or air quality, or transportation — … it’s time for us to just be Southern Californians tied together to a mutual future that today we see here.”

U.S. Sen.?Dianne Feinstein agreed both Los?Angeles and Ontario stand to gain from the transfer, with LAX getting some congestion relief. The senator was instrumental in helping broker the transfer between Los Angeles and Ontario.

“With the developed space so that it is airport-sensitive and commercially sensitive, I think we have an opportunity to do something in a time and a place that not many people have,” she said.

Lasorda, who appeared in a commercial in support of local control for Ontario International Airport, brought some laughs from the crowd and pledged he would be using the new airport in the future.

“I feel that representing the Dodgers for 68?years, I’m so happy because I’m going to be leaving a lot of times from this airport to go some place else,” Lasorda said.

Inland?Empire native son Michael Huerta, originally from Rubidoux and now heading the Federal Aviation Administration, spoke about the tremendous opportunity for the region with local control of the airport.

“Ontario you are now the dog that caught the cart … you have a tremendous responsibility to be good stewards of this important asset for this region, and you have the opportunity to do something very special — to define the future of this region,” Huerta said.

“Ontario’s location in the heart of the Inland?Empire is an advantage for area residents who want to avoid languishing in that traffic that we sometimes like to talk about,” he added.

He called the Wednesday ceremony as a watershed moment in the history of the region.

“I wouldn’t’ be surprised if we say (10?years from now) this is the beginning of a stronger and more vibrant regional anchor than it is today,” Huerta said.

Ontario City Manager Al Boling said outside the ceremony he’s anticipating the benefits for the city.

“We’re just looking forward to the opportunity that lies ahead of us, working in collaboration with the Airport Authority to bring development to the region and growth and prosper the largest and greatest economic and jobs engine for the region.”

Ontario International Airport Authority officials say full control will allow them to finally move forward on plans to redevelop land at the airport to generate money toward expanding and improving the regional airport with new money offsetting landing fee costs to entice airlines to return and expand flights.

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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Samsung Source Hints At Galaxy S8 Display Having A 90% Screen-To-Body Ratio

The Galaxy S8 is expected to be a big comeback for Samsung following the Galaxy Note 7 debacle. Some of the rumored Galaxy S8 features include an edge-to-edge display, a 4K screen resolution, a dual-lens camera, Exynos 8895 or Qualcomm Snapdragon 830 chipsets, a USB-C port, 6GB of RAM, an ARM Mali-G71 graphics chip and two display sizes with “edge” designs. And the Home button and the fingerprint sensor is reportedly going to be embedded under the display.

According to The Investor, a Samsung executive revealed that the Galaxy S8 would have an edge-to-edge or bezel-less OLED display. “Samsung Display would roll out a full-screen display whose display area ratio (a scale that measures space taken up by a display on the front part of a handset) reaches more than 90 percent next year,” said Park Won-sang, a Samsung Display principal engineer, at the iMiD 2016 conference in Seoul. During the conference, Won-sang also presented a concept photo of a Galaxy S7 edge with a home button removed from the lower part of the device.

Most of the other smartphones available on the market today have an 80% display area ratio. And Won-sang said that Samsung is enhancing its technology so that it could provide a 99% screen-to-body ratio within the next few years. This means nearly the whole face of the Galaxy S8 would be a bezel-free display.

One of the benefits of increasing the display area ratio is that the Galaxy S8 would be able to facilitate an immersive virtual reality experience. This means the Galaxy S8 would work very well with virtual reality headsets like the Samsung Gear VR and the Google Daydream VR.

Samsung would not be the first company to release a device with an edge-to-edge display. The Xiaomi Mi MIX has a 6.4-inch IPS LCD edgeless display with a screen-to-body ratio of 91.3%. The ceramic black version of the Xiaomi Mi MIX with 4GB RAM, 128GB storage and dual SIM is available for preorder at a price of $669. The front-facing camera is located at the bottom bezel of the Xiaomi Mi MIX since there isn’t a top bezel. Next year, Apple is reportedly going to make the “iPhone 8” with an edge-to-edge display too.

The Investor also reported that it has a Samsung Display researcher source who leaked details about the company working on a “bendable VR device with a flexible OLED display that can be bent to cover a user’s eyes completely.” The Galaxy S8 is reportedly going to be released on February 26, 2017 to coincide with Mobile World Congress.

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Antitrust suit against airlines can move ahead, judge says

Alawsuit by airline travelers who accuse the nation’s biggest carriers of colluding to keep prices high has cleared its first hurdle.

Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., filed an opinion last month rejecting a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. She said the plaintiffs in the suit, travelers who bought airline tickets starting in 2009, offered enough evidence to move forward with the suit.

“The court finds that plaintiffs sufficiently set forth circumstantial evidence to demonstrate a plausible claim,” she wrote.

The order by Kollar-Kotelly doesn’t mean that she has taken a side in the case, only that the dispute will be settled in court.

The accusations were made in 23 antitrust lawsuits that were consolidated and brought before Kollar-Kotelly. The lawsuits contend that, starting in 2009, United, American, Southwest and Delta conspired to limit the number of new seats they added to raise airfares despite lower fuel costs.

The lawsuit noted that executives from the four airlines made similar comments about exercising “capacity discipline” during earnings reports and airline conferences.

“If the airlines inflated the price of fares, they are responsible to return that inflation,” said Michael Hausfeld, a lawyer who was appointed to represent the plaintiffs.

The U.S. Department of Justice is also investigating allegations of an airline price-fixing conspiracy, but Hausfeld declined to say whether he was cooperating with the federal agency.

Matt Miller, a spokesman for American Airlines, called the lawsuit “meritless,” saying it “should have been rejected at the outset.” A representative for Delta declined to comment. Officials from United and Southwest did not respond to requests for comments.

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Friday, November 4, 2016

Lakers Host Warriors Friday Night at Staples Center

On Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers (2-3) return home for their second home game of the season, and a national audience, along with the Golden State Warriors (4-1), help bring out the stars to kick off a three-game home stand.

The Warriors played on Thursday night in Oakland, as Kevin Durant caught fire and lit up Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant completed the conversion to villain as he visually talked trash to his former team, scored 39 points and led the Warriors to a 26-point victory.

As such, the Warriors enter Staples Center on the second night of a back-to-back, but the flight time from Oakland to Los Angeles is about as long as it takes to get through traffic from LAX to Staples Center on a typical Friday evening. Also, Durant and the other starters did not have to play heavy minutes due to lopsided score line.
The Lakers, meanwhile, earned their first road win of the season in their most recent game. LA outplayed Atlanta on Wednesday night and improved with every passing quarter in the game. Through five games, the Lakers' slow starts are beginning to add up.
Thus far, the Lakers have yet to lead after the first quarter and average giving up 32 points in the opening 12 minutes through the first five games of the season. Simply, LA's defense is not sharp enough at the start of games, and even when the team starts out by making shots, the lack of defense has dominated the story of LA's poor starts.
"I don't have an answer, but I think we're getting better at starting games," Lakers coach Luke Walton said at Friday morning's shootaround. "And I'd like to see that try and continue, because the first quarter against the Warriors both time we played them (in preseason), they jumped out to 12-0 type of leads, so we don't obviously want that to happen again tonight."

A closer look reveals that the halftime talk, smelling salts or video study that is going on in the locker room has a notable effect on the team.
In the Lakers' two victories, LA outplayed the competition handily in both second halves. Against Houston on night no. 1 of the season, the purple and gold outscored Mike D'Antoni's Rockets by 14 points over the final 24 minutes. Similarly, Walton inspired his team to outscore the Hawks by 16 points following the halftime team talk at Phillips Arena.

With the Warriors on the second night of a back-to-back, LA's second half surge could trouble Golden State and hand the title favorite its second loss of the 2016-17 season. The key, of course, is for the Lakers to buck the trend and get off to a strong start. As a reminder, the Lakers have not led after the first quarter in any of their five games. And yet, the young Lakers have fought until the end in every game, and all the contests have been entertaining, dramatic and competitive, i.e. fun.
Win or lose, the Warriors are the biggest ticket in the NBA, and the Lakers can raise more than a couple eyebrows by pulling the upset on Friday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time.
Notes: Walton served as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors for two seasons before taking the head post in LA. Lakers center Timofey Mozgov is considered doubtful due to a left-eye contusion suffered in Indiana. Nineteen-year-old Rookie Ivica Zubac expects to make his second career start if the Russian veteran is unavailable. Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram has been compared to Durant, and the rookie took on the challenge of guarding his basketball idol for stretches in both preseason encounters between the two teams. In the final meeting, the Lakers kept the game competitive against Golden State's regular season rotation, with the 19-year-old Ingram scoring 21 points, pulling down seven rebounds, swiping two steals and tabbing four assists in the exhibition game in San Diego.

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2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

The latest generation Corvette, introduced in 2014, revived the Stingray name and the world went a little bonkers. Some felt that the complete redesign looked a little too Ferrari, while others bemoaned the new rear fascia. However, all agreed that the 6.2-liter V8 engine under the hood stayed true to the 'Vette's two-seat, rear-wheel-drive sportscar roots.

Introduced in 1953 with a six-cylinder engine and a two-speed automatic transmission, the Corvette didn't really become a true sports car until three years later. GM equipped the 'Vette with a small block V8 and a three-speed manual transmission and raced it in 1956 and 1957 at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Although GM didn't have a very successful campaign those years, it set the stage for the sports car we know today.

Through constant development both on and off the racetrack, that original six-cylinder, 150 horsepower engine has now morphed into its current 460 horsepower V8 iteration in the Corvette Stingray. Chevrolet also produces the ridiculously fast Z06 Corvette for those who wanted even MOAR POWAH, but with 650 galloping horses under the hood, the "Big Nasty" can be a little intimidating.

Enter the Corvette Grand Sport. It's like the Stingray and the Z06 had a baby, each giving the best of their DNA. The Stingray contributes the naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8 engine, knocking out 460 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. As part of its Z06 genes, the Grand Sport borrows the cooling system, bigger Brembo brakes and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.

Like all Corvettes, power goes to the rear wheels via the standard seven speed manual transmission, but an eight-speed auto is optional. An electronic limited-slip differential and Magnetic Ride Control suspension are standard, though also available on the base Stingray with the Z51 Performance package.

The Grand Sport offers five different driving modes: Touring, Sport, Track, Weather and Eco. I had the track all to myself at Gingerman Raceway in Michigan, a fun little road circuit just over two miles long, with plenty of late apexes and reduced-radius, off-camber turns. I set the car to track mode and zoomed out of the pit lane.

The Grand Sport can handle 1.05 g in the twisties, but Chevy sent me something just a bit better. My test vehicle came with the optional Z07 performance package, bringing in carbon-ceramic brakes, a carbon-fiber aero package and super-sticky Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires. It's a $7,995 option that helps you get around the track faster -- not by brute power, but by virtue of more downforce, better cornering capabilities and the chance to brake later into the turns...if you dare.

My first thought after turn one: "Holy mackinoly this steering is heavy!" I'm not one to shy away from using muscle, but in track mode the Grand Sport felt like it had no assist in the steering rack at all.

Still, the turn-in is very sharp indeed. The Magnetic Ride Control adjusts the suspension 10 times faster than the blink of an eye, keeping everything flat through the turns. The Cup 2 tires offer massive grip, and with the extra aero package, the car never got out of sorts. The brakes felt solid through all of my sessions, never fading or getting spongey. Essentially I just pointed the 'Vette and jammed on the gas, the Grand Sport obeying my commands with no trace of understeer, just good old American fun.

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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Google’s Android App Store Is Getting a Big Overhaul

Alphabet Inc’s Google is redoubling efforts to help developers of Android mobile apps build their businesses as concerns mount that the app economy has reached saturation.

Under the leadership of Sameer Samat, who rejoined Google earlier this year after a spell as president of wearable tech firm Jawbone, the company is sharpening Google Play store recommendations with artificial intelligence and expanding support for various payment platforms, among other initiatives.

Google’s efforts in some way mirror those of arch-rival Apple Inc, which revamped its App Store this year with quicker review times for new apps and an increase in the cut of revenue that goes to developers.

Both companies face a chorus of complaints from developers who say they are struggling to stand out in a jam-packed field.

Many smartphone users, meanwhile, appear to have tired of downloading apps altogether, especially as messaging services like Snapchat perform more of the functions that once required a separate app.

Games remain a focus of the Google Play store, and Nintendo Co Ltd is building a version of its popular Super Mario Run game for Android, said Samat, who leads product management for the Google Play store.

The store is also expanding to new platforms, including wearable devices, virtual reality headsets and Google’s Chromebook laptops.

“What we are excited about is giving developers that single entry point for more and more of the computing ecosystem,” said Samat

Google has eased the once-complicated process of developing apps for the Play store, said James Knight, a former Google employee who launched Pembroke, a consultancy that helps developers convert Apple-compatible iOS apps to the Android operating system.

“The App Store has historically been a little more straightforward, and Android has been a bit more like the Wild West,” he said.

Mirroring the larger smartphone market, the Google Play store sees far more activity by virtue of its placement on the wide range of devices running the Android operating system – but Apple claims more of the profits.

The Google Play store accounted for 70 percent of app downloads in the third quarter of this year, but Apple’s App Store logged 65 percent of the revenue, according to App Annie, a mobile analytics firm.

A big part of Google’s new effort involves emerging markets, where Android is stronger relative to the iPhone. The company has steadily expanded its support of direct carrier billing, a popular payment method in emerging markets where consumers often do not have credit cards. Google now offers the payment method in 47 markets.

To improve app recommendations for users, the Play store has also made extensive use of machine learning, a branch of artificial intelligence that gleans insights from vast troves of data. Google’s Play store and machine learning teams began collaborating three years ago, and a partnership was struck last year with Google Brain, a cutting-edge research project.

The jolt of artificial intelligence is welcome as developers hunt for an audience for their apps, said Greg Cohn, chief executive of Burner, which makes an app that provides temporary phone numbers.

“The harsh reality is that there are a few apps that get the vast majority of people’s time and attention,” he said.
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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Airlines expect more Thanksgiving travelers

Remember the long lines and crowded planes last Thanksgiving as holiday travel surged? Well, airlines now think they’ve got your number.

Anticipating a 2.5% increase in the legions of people who are traveling to visit family on the long holiday weekend, airlines have boosted the number of flights and size of planes for an average 74,000 seats each day during the holiday travel period.

Airlines say the increased capacity will accommodate the increased demand that developed as fare prices dropped.

“Travelers should rest assured that while more people will be flying, there will be more than an adequate number of seats available,” said John Heimlich, chief economist for the trade group Airlines for America, which represents most of the largest carriers.

More than 27 million passengers — a record for the holiday — will fly U.S. airlines worldwide from Nov. 18 to Nov. 29, according to the group. The anticipated increase will add an average 55,000 daily passengers, which is less than the space added.

“U.S. passenger airlines are ready and saving you a spot,” said Jean Medina, a spokeswoman for the group.

Airlines expect to carry an average 2.27 million passengers daily during the travel period, with volumes ranging from 1.51 million passengers to 2.81 million. The busiest days will be Sunday, Nov. 27; Monday, Nov. 28; and Wednesday, Nov. 23. The lightest day will be Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24.

The travel surge follows a 9.6% decline in fares during the second quarter of the year, to $353 for April, May and June from $390 a year earlier the Transportation Department’s bureau of transportation statistics announced Oct. 25.

The online travel agent said the average airfare to the top 10 destinations for the Thanksgiving holiday is $409 this year, with hotel costs averaging $158 per night.

The most popular destinations are New York, Las Vegas, Dallas, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Los Angeles, Denver, Newark and San Francisco.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Why you should buy Apple's Nike smartwatch

The new Apple Watch Nike+ edition ($369 for the 38mm version and $399 for 42mm) is exactly the same as the Apple Watch Series 2 in terms of core features, but it has some extra Nike goodies designed to appeal to fitness buffs.

Based on my tests during the past weekend, Apple Watch Nike+ has a lot to offer athletes (and wannabe athletes). It's stylish and easy to use, and it has a cool sport band you can't get on any other Apple Watch.

Here are four reasons why Apple Watch Nike+ could be a good fit for you.

1. Nike+ perforated Apple Watch band is awesome

The Nike+ edition of Apple Watch Series 2 comes with one of four different perforated fluoroelastomer bands. The bands are only available with Apple Watch Nike+, and they're not sold separately.

Thanks to the holes in the band, the overall weight of the watch is slightly less than other versions. The perforations also let sweaty wrists "breathe" more easily. They look pleasingly sporty, too. (I bought the Space Gray aluminum model with the black and cool gray sport band.)

2. Apple Watch Series 2 gets quick GPS fix

Activity trackers and watches with built-in GPS don't need to get GPS signal from a connected smartphone. That means marathoners and other athletes who use such devices don't need to carry smartphones to get accurate distance and pace information, or to map their runs.

Unfortunately, many GPS watches take a while to get a fix on GPS satellites. For example, the first time I used the new TomTom Spark 3 GPS fitness watch ($130 and up), it took several minutes to get a GPS fix. On cloudy or overcast days, it took 60 seconds or more to lock on to GPS.

Apple promised that both the Apple Watch Series 2 and Apple Watch Nike+ would lock onto GPS signals quickly, and the claim proved true in my tests of the Nike+ Watch. I never had to wait for a GPS signal to kick in.

3. It's super simple to start a run with Apple Watch Nike+

Apple Watch Series 2 uses Siri to get you moving more quickly.

You just hold the Apple Watch close to your mouth, say "Hey Siri," then say "Start a run." (You could also press and hold the digital crown to summon Siri.) Within a few seconds, the Nike+ Run Club app on an Apple Watch Nike+ launches, counts down from three seconds (the default setting), and you're off.

In comparison, to start a run on the TomTom Spark 3 you have to press right on a button, select the runner icon from a menu, and then wait for the aforementioned GPS fix. Once you have GPS, you need to press the button on the right to start the workout. All that clicking isn't necessarily a deal killer, but the Apple Watch experience is much more satisfying.

4. Nike clock faces are cool but limiting

The Nike+ edition comes with two exclusive Nike clock faces, one "digital" and one "analog," and you can customize their styles. I prefer the digital face, with its large numerals.

Both faces include a complication (or shortcut) to the Nike+ Run Club app, which comes preloaded on the Apple Watch Nike+. Unfortunately, you can only add three more complications per Nike face compared to, say, Apple's modular face, which lets you choose as many as five complications. Also, all the Nike faces only come in three colors: white, "volt" (neon yellowish green), and white with volt.

Not all athletes will love the Apple Watch Nike+ or Apple Watch Series 2. reviewer Dana Wollman (a marathoner), for example, says the GPS-equipped Watch is fine for "walks, hikes and maybe even casual jogs," but its pace calculations aren't "precise enough for athletes in training."

I exercise nearly every day, but I'm not a marathoner, and pinpoint accuracy isn't quite as important to me. In my tests, the Nike+ Watch's GPS distance readings were accurate enough for me, and its distance and pace readings were often close to the ones I got from my TomTom Spark 3.
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BMW will reportedly release an electric SUV in 2021

BMW is planning to launch its electric SUV, the i5, in 2021.

Automobile Mag first reported in August that BMW was working on Project iNext: the German automaker's commitment to release an all-electric car with self-driving capabilities by 2021. But Autocar reported for the first time on Monday that the Project iNext car will be an electric SUV.

Autocar cites sources who say that BMW has settled on an SUV bodystyle for its next model to accommodate the size of a battery pack without compromising on the car's proportions. BMW also settled on an SUV because it appeals to a segment with greater demand and profit margins than hatchbacks, according to the sources.

"We conceived the i brand to work for the long term," Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales and marketing, told Autocar. "The electric car market is emerging but we see enough to be confident that consumers are understanding what it is about. What’s more, 80% of i customers are new to BMW.”

Robertson declined to comment on whether or not the Project iNext car will be an SUV to Autocar. BMW did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

BMW's Project iNext car will be fully autonomous by 2025, according to the Automobile Mag report.

BMW said it will launch its self-driving vehicles in China in 2021. The company is working with Mobileye, a former Tesla Autopilot supplier, and Intel to develop its self-driving vehicles. BMW is also working to complete a ride-sharing program for driverless cars by 2021, Wired reported.

BMW is expected to roll out the first electric version of its Mini car in 2019, followed by an electric version of its BMW X3 in 2020, Bloomberg reported in September.

BMW isn't the only automaker looking to enter the electric car space with an SUV.

Mercedes-Benz showed off its electric SUV concept, the EQ, at the Paris Motor Show, with plans to release a production version of the car in 2019.

Audi and Hyundai are also both planning on rolling out an all-electric SUV by 2018. Volkswagen is planning to roll out five electric vehicles by 2020, with more than one of those likely to be a crossover or SUV of some kind. And Volvo aims to offer at least two all-electric vehicles by 2019, one of which is expected to be a crossover or SUV.

Tesla also has plans for an electric SUV, the Model Y. Chevy's SUV crossover, the Bolt, will hit dealerships before the end of the year.

Pursuing an electric SUV at a time where EV sales have yet to gain traction could be the best move for automakers right now.

This is because sales of smaller passenger vehicles continue to fall, while truck and SUV sales have stayed strong.

Meanwhile, electric cars make up roughly 1% of global auto sales. So going after the booming SUV segment could trigger demand in a space that has yet to gain traction with consumers.

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