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Poptheatr is your own personal theater that you wear on your head

Have you ever wanted to watch a movie in public without being distracted by the public? For most people, earphones would likely be enough to ensure their movie isn’t interrupted, but if you need even more privacy, there’s a new Kickstarter that might be just for you. Poptheatr is a bucket-like product that you put over your head to block out noises and other distractions while viewing content on your smartphone or tablet.

You simply place your device inside the top of the theater and look up to watch movies or TV shows. You can also control the content via a separate Bluetooth device. “Poptheatr is your own private theater that provides you with a comfortable, personal viewing experience when watching on your mobile device,” the product’s Kickstarter reads. “No longer will you face distractions and constant discomfort when you could be enjoying your movie or show to the fullest extent.”

At the time of this reporting, the product has raised little over £4,000, which is about a tenth of what it needs to get funded. It currently has 32 backers and there are 20 days to go until the Kickstarter ends. The product doesn’t seem to fill any real need, but then again, a successful project does not always have to solve any problems.

If you’re at home, would the Poptheatr be preferable to using your TV or computer to watch your favorite shows or movies? Even if you want to be alone, many people may prefer to curl up under a blanket with a tablet and good pair of earphones, rather than place a sleeve over their head. The company claims that not having to use headphones is an advantage, and that the product is more comfortable than a VR headset.

It is collapsible for easy transport and storage.

The main use would be to use it in public to block outside disturbances, but if you use it on a bus or subway, you could risk missing your stop someone messing with you while you’re distracted.

Early bird pricing for the Poptheatr starts at £54, and the estimated delivery date is July 2018.

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Fujitsu in talks to leave the smartphone business behind

Fujitsu is negotiating with an investment company to sell off its mobile division, indicating its intention to leave the phone business behind. While Fujitsu isn’t a household phone name in the United States or internationally, it’s well-established in Japan, with its Arrows Android phones being particular standouts among the domestically popular flip phones. However, just like its computer business, Fujitsu has decided it’s time to move on.

It’s reported Fujitsu is talking with Tokyo-based investment firm Polaris Capital about the sale, which if it takes place, will be worth between £365 million and £456 million, according to an anonymous source speaking to Reuters. An agreement may be in place by the end of January. Should the deal be made, Polaris will continue to sell the Arrows branded phones, states the Nikkei Asian Review.

Fujitsu split its computing and mobile divisions into two companies in 2016, with the phone business falling under the control of Fujitsu Connected Technologies. Reports that Fujitsu wanted to sell off its phone business gathered in mid-2017. Subsequently, 51 percent of its computing division — Fujitsu Client Computing Devices — was sold to Lenovo, along with five percent to the Development Bank of Japan, as it exited the world of PCs.

Should the mobile business be sold to Polaris, Fujitsu will rely on system development, servers, and other core IT businesses, which the Nikkei Asian Review says currently generates 70 percent of its sales anyway. Fujitsu comes fourth in the Japanese phone market, behind Apple, Sharp, and Kyocera. Like Sharp and Kyocera it has never made a confident play for international business, despite small attempts several years ago with niche devices like the Stylistic S01, a phone aimed at senior citizens.

It also once displayed a prototype Android smartphone that was supposedly destined for launch in the United States and United Kingdom. Outside of this Fujitsu has demonstrated cutting-edge mobile tech, and was an early adopter of iris recognition. If Fujitsu leaves mobile devices behind, it will leave Sony, Sharp, and Kyocera as the only Japanese companies making phones today.

Fujitsu told Reuters a deal has not yet been reached.

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T-Mobile is helping customers stay connected throughout the Olympics

If you’re lucky enough to be headed to South Korea in a few weeks to catch the Winter Olympics, you’re practically required to share your good fortune with folks back home. And while that doesn’t mean buying everyone you know a plane ticket to Pyeongchang, it does mean keeping all your friends and family members abreast of the action taking place in the world’s greatest sporting event. With T-Mobile, you’ll quickly become the most popular person around, as you take advantage of the Un-carrier’s free unlimited high-speed data, free unlimited calls to the U.S., and free texting.

So whether you’re watching figure skating, hockey, or downhill skiing, you can pretend that your friends and family are with you. The free data and unlimited calls within South Korea are available throughout the winter games, while free texting is already including for T-Mobile subscribers in more than 140 countries and destinations. Conveniently, you won’t have to do anything at all to reap these rewards (except, of course, be a T-Mobile customer).

Beginning February 7 and continuing through March 20 following the closing ceremonies of the Paralympic Games, unlimited data and calling will automatically kick in across South Korea for T-Mobile customers with postpaid plans, absolutely for free. “The Winter Games are full of unforgettable moments, and now, T-Mobile customers in South Korea can snap, tweet, and share those big moments without worrying about bill shock when they get back home,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. “And while the carriers gouge you and make you jump through ridiculous hoops, the Un-carrier makes it easy! Free and unlimited data and calling just HAPPEN from the moment you step foot in South Korea.”

T-Mobile can also help you with your communications needs as you make your way from the U.S. to South Korea.

Thanks to T-Mobile’s partnership with Gogo, Un-carrier subscribers can access free texting throughout their flights, along with a free hour of smartphone Wi-Fi.

Bear in mind though that this only works on domestic flights, so if your trip to South Korea includes a layover somewhere in the U.S., you’ll be able to enjoy this additional perk.

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2018 Oscar predictions: Who’s going to win, who should win, and who got snubbed

The 90th Academy Awards ceremony will be held March 4, but now that we know the list of 2018 Oscar nominees, there’s plenty of time to speculate about who will win, who should win, and who got passed over when The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handed out nominations. When it comes to the Oscar predictions, everyone’s a pundit — and we’re no exception. Here are our best guesses about the likely winners in the major categories, as well as our thoughts on who should win the category, and which actors, films, or filmmakers were snubbed this year.

We’ve also included some brief thoughts on some of the other Oscar categories on our minds, and what the final results are likely to be in those races.

Best Picture

Merrick Morton / Fox Searchlight / Associated Press

What’s going to win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has swept just about every category it’s been nominated in throughout awards season. At this point, it’s only competition appears to be merman romance film The Shape of Water, which actually has a significant lead in total nominations and wins this year, but has the distinct disadvantage of being a merman-romance fantasy film — not a particularly popular genre for Academy voters. What should win: There was no film even remotely like Get Out this year, blending dark, terrifying themes with a sense of levity that keeps the audience on edge, uncertain of where the story is ultimately headed until everything comes crashing down around its tortured protagonist.

While it’s true that Three Billboards is home to three of the best acting performances of the year, if the Academy really wants to honor the year’s most unique, groundbreaking movie, Get Out is the film that should take home the Oscar. Snubbed? The Academy traditionally appreciates romantic comedies almost as much as fantasy films, but The Big Sick is something truly special. Along with presenting a sincere, endearing story drawn from the real-life romance of star Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily Gordon (who co-wrote the film’s Oscar-nominated script together), it also explored the racism and culture clash of the immigrant experience — a theme that’s particularly salient in America right now.

Best Director

Fox Searchlight

Who’s going to win: Guillermo del Toro seemingly has this one wrapped up after winning just about every award possible up to this point for The Shape of Water, but the smart money is still on Dunkirk director Christopher Nolan.

A five-time nominee who’s never taken home an Oscar, Nolan is an uncompromising filmmaker who challenges audiences — and the art of making movies — without leaving the Academy’s comfort zone for genres or execution. If Nolan wins the Directors Guild Award in early February, bet on him taking home an Oscar, too. Who should win: Jordan Peele (Get Out) and Del Toro both make strong cases for the Oscar with the unique vision they showcased in their respective films, but Nolan is a master of his craft who would be a deserving recipient of the Oscar.

The fact that he went all out to shoot on 70mm for an epic film experience following Tarantino’s resurrection of the format is just icing on the cake. Snubbed? It’s always interesting when a movie is nominated in nearly every major category, but its director doesn’t get a nomination. That’s the case with Three Billboards filmmaker Martin McDonagh, who’s conspicuously absent from the nominees, despite all of the Oscar nods for his film, and a nomination in the Directors Guild Awards, too.

Best Actor

Jack English / Focus Features

Who’s going to win: Gary Oldman vanished into his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, and the long list of nominations and awards he’s already won for it are well-deserved recognition of that performance.

Considering he’s also been nominated multiple times without a win, Oldman just might be the most certain winner of this year’s nominees. Who should win: Oldman gave the most standout performance in a year that wasn’t particularly competitive in this category. He’s the best of the bunch by far.

Snubbed? While no one expected him to actually win, it was surprising to see The Disaster Artist star (and writer and director) James Franco omitted from the nominees this year. Whether it was a bias against comedy projects or the Academy’s aversion to celebrating one of the worst movies ever made (Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, the focus of Franco’s satirical film), the Academy wasn’t in Franco’s camp this year. The same can be said for The Post star Tom Hanks, who seems to have fallen out of favor with the Academy in recent years, despite no perceptible drop-off in his performances.

Looks like this year, Hanks will have to fall back to his two statues off five nominations.

Best Actress

Merrick Morton / Fox Searchlight

Who’s going to win: Second only to Oldman’s odds of winning, the likelihood of Three Billboards star Frances McDormand taking home this Oscar is ridiculously high. She has swept just about every acting award she could win so far in her tour de force for the snarky sob fest, and deservedly so. It would be a shock to see her go home empty-handed from the Oscars after such a powerful performance.

Who should win: McDormand will almost certainly win this one, and while the performances of Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) and Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird) are both memorable in their own ways, neither actress reached the same seething, dramatic extremes McDormand seemed to reach so effortlessly in Three Billboards. Snubbed? The name that keeps getting mentioned is Molly’s Game star Jessica Chastain, but given the competition this year, it would be a tough call to remove any of the current nominees from the pool of contenders. Are you going to be the one to tell Meryl Streep she doesn’t get a nomination this year?

We didn’t think so.

Best Supporting Actor

Fox Searchlight

Who’s going to win: Sam Rockwell has won this category for his performance in Three Billboards at every opportunity leading up to the Oscars, so it appears that it’s his to lose. Who should win: The supporting actor nominees all gave exceptional performances this year, so there isn’t a standout underdog in this race. If forced to name one, however, we’d pick Woody Harrelson, who destroyed his own Three Billboards performance despite having less screen time.

Snubbed? The best supporting actor performances of the year are well represented this year, and no actor seems conspicuously absent from the nominees.

Best Supporting Actress

Who’s going to win: Allison Janney seems to be the leading contender for the Oscar in this category, having won a Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Critics’ Choice Award for her portrayal of Tonya Harding’s domineering mother in I, Tonya. Ever since the film’s premiere, it’s been Janney’s performance that generated the most positive buzz of anyone in the cast, and that wave of critical praise appears to be carrying over to award season. Who should win: Janney’s performance was one of the most memorable of the year, so she deserves to bring home the gold.

Snubbed? Holly Hunter earned heaps of praise for her role in The Big Sick, and her performance as a protective mother dealing with her daughter’s sudden, inexplicable sickness and a marriage on the rocks was one of the best parts of a great film. She won an Oscar in 1994 for her performance in The Piano, but what she brought to The Big Sick showed her impressive range and ability to find the perfect balance of humor and drama.

Other categories

Disney Pixar

In the race for Best Animated Feature, Coco seems like a lock for the Oscar in a year when the entire pool of films isn’t all that strong. (Sorry, fans of The Boss Baby.) The award for Best Adapted Screenplay feels like it could go to Aaron Sorkin for Molly’s Game, a film that’s surprisingly unrepresented this year, but the Academy might choose this category to give James Franco’s work on The Disaster Artist a nod, too.

All five nominees for Best Original Screenplay are fantastic, but this might be where The Big Sick or Get Out are represented, given that the former film was largely snubbed, and the latter film might get passed over elsewhere. If the award for Best Cinematography goes to Blade Runner 2049 or Dunkirk, that would be well-deserved recognition for some of the most amazing work in that area this year. Both films should also be contenders for Best Production Design.

Although the Oscar for Best Visual Effects should probably go to Blade Runner 2049, there’s a good chance that it finally goes home with the Planet of the Apes team for their work on War for the Planet of the Apes. The two previous films in the trilogy were passed over for this award, despite showcasing some of the most groundbreaking performance-capture artistry ever achieved. The Academy likes to wait until the final film in a series to hand out the award it deserved all along, so this could finally be the year for the Planet of the Apes movies.

Given that The Shape of Water wasn’t nominated in the visual effects or makeup categories (which seems like a snub), it seems destined to win for Best Costume Design. Creature actor Doug Jones continues to offer a great reminder of the magic of practical effects, makeup, and costuming when you have a talented actor under it all. If there’s any justice in the world, the awards for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing will go to Baby Driver, but the Academy tends to move in mysterious ways when it comes to these two particular categories, so it’s anyone’s guess who the winners will be.

For a list of all the nominations, check out the full list here.

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Alphabet’s new cybersecurity company focuses on accelerating threat responses

Google’s parent company Alphabet recently introduced an independent cybersecurity business called Chronicle. According to CEO Stephen Gillett, Chronicle stems from a team that previously resided at Alphabet’s X Development arm (aka The Moonshot Factory). The staff spent several years determining how to best attack the growing cybersecurity problem and the result is a company that now provides two services: The current malware intelligence-based VirusTotal acquired by Google in 2012, and a new cybersecurity intelligence and analytics platform.

“We want to 10 times the speed and impact of security teams’ work by making it much easier, faster and more cost-effective for them to capture and analyze security signals that have previously been too difficult and expensive to find,” Gillett said. The big deal is the “planet-scale” computing power behind Chronicle’s initiative. It’s the same infrastructure that powers Alphabet‘s other services, and backed by machine learning, Google’s search technology, and huge cloud-based storage capacities. Gillett believes Alphabet‘s powerful platform should help find and retrieve “useful” security-based information in mere minutes rather than hours or days as seen with other services.

Chronicle puts an emphasis on speed and ease to provide tools for companies to understand its volumes of data, and unlock “hidden insights.” The goal is to provide security teams enough time to protect themselves against possible cyberattacks via vulnerabilities in their defenses, and the way they manage data across networks and campuses. Scale and affordability are also important factors. One of the benefits is using machine learning to find patterns in large volumes of data.

According to Chronicle, these patterns aren’t easily detected by humans. Another benefit is not having another local software solution that must be maintained by IT. Instead, Chronicle will provide web-based services that can grow with the organization. Gillett says his team already consulted with several Fortune 500 companies to help shape and steer Chronicle in the right direction.

Several of these companies are now testing the new cybersecurity intelligence program by way of an early alpha program. The company’s website currently doesn’t provide any specific plans for enterprise customers to purchase or lease, but it does offer an email address for querying about early access. Chronicle is also open to security and channel-based partnerships. “We’re excited about being an independent company, yet part of Alphabet,” Gillett said. “We’ll have our own contracts and data policies with our customers, while at the same time having the benefit of being able to consult the world-class experts in machine learning and cloud computing (among many other topics) that reside in other parts of Alphabet.”

Alphabet’s X Development arm, formerly Google X, is a pool of moonshot thinkers that tackle global problems.

Gillett joined Google Ventures in early 2016 after serving as the chief intelligence officer and general manager of Digital Ventures at Starbucks, and as the chief operating officer at Symantec.

He moved over to X Development and teamed up with Mike Wiacek and Shapor Naghibzadeh, both who were longtime engineers on Google’s security team.

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