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Yahoo asks potential buyers to bid before April 11: WSJ

Despite Marissa Mayer’s best efforts, Yahoo is struggling to stay relevant. The company is still worth a lot of money, but most of that can be attributed to its stake in Alibaba, an enormously successful e-commerce firm in China. Now, according to the Wall Street Journal, the ageing technology giant has put itself up for auction. A letter sent to possible buyers, and seen by the broadsheet newspaper, states that Yahoo has asked for preliminary bids by April 11th. These could be for some or all of its business, including Yahoo Japan and web services like Tumblr and Flickr.

Yahoo’s potential suitors remain a mystery, although reports have suggested AT&T, Verizon and Comcast are on the shortlist. According to Recode, Microsoft has also shown interest in financing bids by private equity firms. That makes sense given that Bing, rather than Google, powers Yahoo Search. If possible, Microsoft wants to protect that revenue and maintain what little market share Bing has accrued. At the same time, Yahoo is grappling with Starboard Value LP, an “activist investor” that wants to remove Yahoo’s board and appoint nine new directors.

Yahoo was in trouble before Mayer took the role of CEO and president in July 2012. One of its core businesses, which involves placing ads on services like Yahoo News, Mail and Search, was in decline. Its mobile apps were unpopular, driving potential users to alternatives developed by Google, Microsoft and a never ending wave of startups. She reorganised the company and put a greater emphasis on mobile development, but it’s barely moved the needle, at least in the public consciousness.

After debating a sale last year, Yahoo conducted a “reverse spin off,” pushing everything but its Alibaba stake into a new company. Since then, Yahoo has laid off 1,700 employees and killed a number of initiatives including Yahoo Games and most of its digital magazines. The company has had some smaller successes, such as the Yahoo News Digest app, but nothing that would seriously affect its bottom line. Breaking up and selling its component businesses is probably Yahoo’s best option at this point.


The best soda maker

By Anna Perling

This post was done in partnership with Sweethome, a buyer’s guide to the best things for your home. Read the full article here.

After nearly 200 hours of research and testing, we’re confident the SodaStream Source is the best home soda maker you can buy. Over the past three years we’ve tested 10 soda makers and siphons, made our own DIY version, and talked extensively with home soda-making experts and scientists about carbonation. The Source makes the absolute bubbliest and best-tasting sparkling water, it’s easier to use and clean than most of the competition, and its cartridge refills are among the most affordable.

How we tested

Clockwise, from top left, water from the Keurig, iSi, Bonne O, Jet, Source, and Power. Photo: Anna Perling

Soda makers work by injecting carbon dioxide into water to produce effervescence. A great soda maker will not only make fizzier water, but also increase its bite, the quality that sparkling-water enthusiasts love.

We weighed water before and after carbonating to see how much carbon dioxide was added in grams. We also did two long-term tests over 72 hours to see how carbonated the water would stay over time. All water was kept at a temperature of 39° Fahrenheit. After pouring the carbonated water into clear glasses, we looked at how many bubbles were in the water from each soda maker. We also took into account ease of use and storage, price, carbonator refill options, and ease of cleaning.

For our blind taste test, we asked four seltzer lovers to rank each soda maker’s water (on a scale from one to 10) based on bubble size, taste, and overall fizziness.

Our pick

The Source makes the all-around fizziest water. Photo: Michael Hession

The SodaStream Source produced the fizziest water out of the soda makers we tested. Taste testers ranked the Source’s water as the overall fizziest and best-tasting, too, and its bottle is one of the easiest to attach to the machine. For the price, the Source delivers the most bubble for your buck, and thanks to its simple design, the Source is also one of the easiest soda makers to clean and refill so you can keep carbonating with ease.

We do find it mildly annoying that SodaStream uses proprietary carbon dioxide cartridges, but their machines work better than any other store-bought option we’ve found.


The SodaStream Power.

If you can’t find the Source, we also like the SodaStream Power. Its carbonator and refill systems are the same as the Source’s, and it also has three levels of carbonation to choose from. But the Power requires an outlet and costs about $50 more than the Source. It also doesn’t fizz water quite as well as the Source (it made the second-bubbliest water in our tests). For the money, it’s the next best thing to the Source that we tested as it still delivers great fizz and is easy to use, store, and clean. But we would definitely grab the Source instead, if you can.

DIY alternatives

If you want to bypass SodaStream’s proprietary refill system, you can purchase an adapter that allows you to refill a SodaStream canister at a local restaurant or homebrew supply store (or with your own larger canister). But if going this route, skip the refills at the paintball shop and look for homebrewing or restaurant suppliers; there’s a lot of Internet chatter (see here and here) concerning whether or not it’s safe to refill a carbon dioxide tank at sporting goods stores and whether that carbon dioxide has to be “food grade.” We discuss this in more detail in our full guide.

Care and maintenance

To make the fizziest water, water should be cold. Chilled water carbonates more effectively, so using cold water will also extend the life of your cartridge. If stored in the fridge, our experts said that carbonated water will stay fizzy for several days. Our own testing showed barely any difference in fizz level after 72 hours in the fridge. However, the amount of liquid remaining in a bottle will affect how long water stays carbonated.

You will also need to periodically exchange your empty cartridges. SodaStream says that each 60-liter cartridge will fizz about that many liters. Because of carbon dioxide regulations, these cartridges are not recyclable. Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Staples, and a range of smaller stores have exchange programs, and SodaStream has a participating-store locator to help you find one near you.

The Source’s bottle components need to be hand washed, and if the battery for the LED indicator lights dies, you will need to contact SodaStream’s customer service (though it should last for several years, and the machine will still work without the lights).

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


Sony’s ‘Ultra’ 4K streaming service goes live on April 4

Sony isn’t wasting any time with its 4K streaming service, Ultra, which was announced back at CES. It’ll be launching on April 4 exclusively on Sony’s new 4K TV sets, the company announced today. Don’t expect any rental options, though — Sony is focusing solely on digital purchases. The 4K films will go for $30 with HDR (some will also include special features). Those include newer titles like Concussion and The Walk, as well as older films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

If you’ve already purchased films on Sony’s online store, you’ll be able to upgrade to the 4K version for a “discounted” price. You’ll also get four titles for free if you purchase a new 4K Sony TV this summer. Additionally, Ultra is Ultraviolet compatible, so you’ll be able to link to your existing library of films. It sounds like you’ll only be able to stream Sony-owned Ultraviolet content, though. We’re following up with Sony to see if that’s actually the case.

$30 for a 4K digital purchase does sound pretty steep, but it’s cheaper than shelling out $400 for Samsung’s 4K Blu-ray player and paying a bit more for discs. And if Ultra ends up being easy to use, I wouldn’t be surprised if some Sony customers ended up buying several titles. Expect to see plenty more 4K streaming services this year, in addition to Ultra and Vudu’s offerings. And don’t be surprised if they end up leading consumers away from 4K Blu-ray.

Update: Jake Winett from Sony Pictures confirmed at an event in San Francisco that you’ll only be able to pull in your Sony studios Ultraviolet movies, at least for starters. He did say they’d like to add content from other studios, but it won’t be there at launch. Winett also said that it was technically very easy for Sony to add the option to rent movies and that the focus on purchases is a “commercial decision.” If Sony seems consumer demand for it, however, rentals may show up on the platform at a later date.


Snapchat completely revamps its feature set for ‘Chat 2.0’

Snapchat unveiled a massive update to its popular messaging app on Tuesday, replete with a slew of new functions. Chat 2.0, as the company is calling the new iteration, will enable users to effortlessly switch between communication mediums — whether it’s text, voice or video — as the conversation dictates.

That biggest advancement comes to the platform’s video and audio chats. For one, you can now initiate a video or voice call without having to already be chatting with the other person. What’s more, you’ll be able to post photos from your camera roll live, during the call. If the person you’re calling doesn’t pick up, you can now leave a short audio or video “note” — basically a GIF-length reaction shot of your mug. What’s really cool is that users will be able to swap amongst these mediums — voice and video, calls and notes, along with text — on the fly during the course of a conversation.

Text chat also received a significant upgrade with the new ability to upload multiple photos simultaneously as well as active hyperlinks. Smaller improvements include an auto-advancing Snapchat Stories for hands-free viewing and the addition of 200 new stickers. Finally, the company overhauled its privacy center — relax, the Terms of Service haven’t changed one iota — making it abundantly clear exactly what the company does with your data. The latest version of Snapchat is currently available for download from iTunes and Google Play.


Source: Snapchat


Instagram rolls out 60-second videos starting today

Instagram announced on Tuesday that it will soon begin rolling out 60-second video capabilities for its users, “one step of many you’ll see this year” according to the company’s blog post. The app currently has a maximum duration limit of just 15 seconds. Instagram cites user engagement with video jumping 40 percent over the last six months as a contributing factor to the expanded time limit. iOS users will get an added bonus: the ability to stitch multiple video clips from their camera rolls together into a single video.

Source: Instagram


Barclays Now Showing Apple Pay Terms and Conditions

British bank Barclays appears to be in the process of enabling much-anticipated Apple Pay support in the United Kingdom, as multiple Twitter users have shared screenshots of a new terms and conditions page that now appears when attempting to add a Barclays-issued card to the iPhone-based mobile payments service.

#ApplePay for @BarclaysUK is defo on the way. This is what I’m getting when trying to add a card

— Nathan Hogan  (@nathanhogan) March 29, 2016

The new terms and conditions landing page is a telltale sign that Barclays may be on the verge of finally becoming an Apple Pay participating issuer, nearly nine months after the service launched in the United Kingdom and within striking distance of its latest promise of a late March rollout.

Barclays has repeatedly hinted that Apple Pay support is coming, but it has yet to deliver on those plans. In July 2015, the bank said Apple Pay support was “imminent,” but later confirmed an “early 2016” target, and most recently said the service would launch “within 60 to 75 days” of January 12, or by around March 28.

Barclays has been the largest Apple Pay holdout in the U.K. to date. Other participating banks include First Direct, HSBC, MBNA, Nationwide, NatWest, RBS, Santander, Ulster Bank, and more. iPhone and Apple Watch users can tap to pay at over 250,000 locations across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tags: Barclays, United Kingdom
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Instagram Expands Video Clips From 15 to 60 Seconds, Adds Support for Multi-Clip Video on iOS Devices

Instagram today announced plans to increase the maximum length of videos uploaded to the social network from 15 seconds to 60 seconds, giving iOS users an opportunity to upload and share much longer videos.

We want to bring you fun, flexible and creative ways to create and watch video on Instagram. As part of our continued commitment, you’ll soon have the flexibility to tell your story in up to 60 seconds of video. This is one step of many you’ll see this year.

iOS users are also regaining the ability to create videos out of multiple clips from the camera roll, a feature that was available once before but was removed when Instagram simplified its video tools. With Instagram version 7.19, iOS users will once again be able to make videos from several different video clips.

As for longer 60 second videos, Instagram is rolling out the feature starting today. Some customers will have immediate access to the longer video option, while others will gain it in the coming months.

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FlipFlic Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET

Smart blinds make your home feel a lot smarter, but they also cost a boatload. For motorized and app-connected shades like Somfy’s or Lutron’s, you’re looking at prices ranging from $250 to upward of $1,000, £700 or AU$1,325 — and that’s per unit.

In response, a few startups have endeavored to design retrofit devices that smarten your blinds and shades for under 100 bucks. The FlipFlic, now open for preorder on Kickstarter, is one of those devices.

Despite the affordable price, the FlipFlic has one major limitation. It can’t open or close blinds — it only adjusts the angle of the slats to block or let in sunlight. This approach seems restrictive, but it actually makes the device compatible with more commonly used blinds than its competition. Devices like the Smart Shades require continuous beaded chains to work with a set of shades, which can be a challenge to find.

Plus, the FlipFlic makes up for its limited functionality with the hardware included in the planned $90 (about £62 and AU$118) retail package. You get the app-connected device with light and temperature sensors, and a solar panel that powers the device. I’ve gotten to work with a prototype for a few days, and just in terms of hardware, the FlipFlic package looks to be an impressive deal.


How smart is smart?

The early version of the FlipFlic app I used felt sharper than many refined apps from better-funded developers. The user interface is intuitive, and the features actually feel smart. Your phone isn’t just a Bluetooth remote; it offers true automation. For instance, temperature and light sensors housed in the FlipFlic can automatically control your blinds as the room heats up, or as more sunlight enters the window.

The automation features will fill a need that hasn’t yet been met by the smart-blinds industry — if they work. I didn’t subject the prototype to the rigors of review testing that I would if it were a final product. Of course, the basic remote control and scheduling worked, but final judgment of the automation must wait till the product ships.


Quality shade automation on the horizon?

The FlipFlic fits in nicely with the competition, undercutting the expensive smart shades, and competing well with other retrofit options. And although it’s a Kickstarter project, the device has already gone through multiple iterations and has a pretty solid prototype.

When the FlipFlic package ships in January 2017 (assuming it makes its deadline — not all Kickstarters do), it could be one of the best deals in the smart-blinds industry, if it works. And based on the company’s efforts so far, the odds seem favorable.


Acer’s new 14-inch metal Chromebook: 1080p, 4GB of RAM for just $299


More RAM and loads of battery life comes with a price, though — the display tops out at 1080p.

Ask any discerning Chromebook user what they want more of, and you’ll undoubtedly hear two specs toward the top of the list — battery life for longevity, and RAM to keep all those tabs going. The new Acer Chromebook 14 looks to fit that bill with a new metal beast (a couple of them, actually) that tops out at a potential 12 hours of battery life, and 4GB of RAM. And looks just like a MacBook Air.

This is Acer’s first metal Chromebook — an aluminum body tapers nicely in that familiar sort of way. But there are a couple of options when it comes to that 14-inch display. There’s a full HD version — 1920×1080 — that also runs with 32GB of on-board storage, and the aforementioned 4GB of RAM. This one’s rated at a “mere” 12 hours of battery, though. (For the full 14 hours — which is the one making more headlines — you’ll need to spec down to the HD display, which lowers things to 1366×768.)

But that top-spec’d model — it runs just $299.

Other specs of note: The Chromebook 14 weighs in at 3.42 pounds and is just 17mm thick. It’s got USB 3.1 (via Type A ports) as well as HDMI out. And it’s all powered by an Intel Celeron N3060.

See at Amazon


Acer Debuts World’s First Chromebook with 14-hour Battery Life

  • Industry’s First Chromebook to provide up to 14 hours of battery life for day-to-night productivity and fun(1)
  • Acer’s first Chromebook with a large 14-inch IPS display; ideal for enjoying content, collaborating and video conferencing with 720p HD webcam
  • Sleek with a premium, thin design, this is Acer’s first Chromebook with an all-aluminum chassis
  • First Acer Chromebook with two first-generation USB 3.1 ports
  • Customers can enjoy robust capabilities of Chrome for only $299.99 USD

San Jose, Calif., (March 29, 2016) Acer today expands its line of award-winning Chromebooks with the Acer Chromebook 14, the industry’s first model that provides long battery life of up to 14 hours.(1) In addition, this is Acer’s first model with a large 14-inch display and an all-aluminum chassis. It is priced at just $299.99 USD, making it ideal for students, businesses and anyone who wants a computer with style and great value.

According to data from Gartner, Acer Group is the world’s leading Chromebook brand with over 33 percent market share in 2015.(2)

“With its industry-leading battery life of up to 14 hours, the Acer Chromebook 14 is an important new product in Acer’s award-winning Chromebook line,” said Jerry Kao, president of Acer Notebook Business Group. “Customers have a wide range of needs for battery life, size, performance and features, and our line of Acer Chromebooks is expanding to make sure customers get exactly what they want. The Chromebook 14 is an excellent choice for customers who want a stylish, large-screen Chromebook with long battery life at an attractive price.”

Large Full HD Display is Great for Viewing, Sharing

The Acer Chromebook 14 is the company’s first with a large 14-inch display. The display is 20 percent larger than 11-inch models, so customers have extra screen real estate to enjoy additional tabs and websites, enjoy video and collaborate more comfortably. The display features IPS technology and comes in either a full HD (1920 x 1080) or HD (1366×768) resolutions, which both ensure clarity in text and graphics as well as wide viewing angles up to 170 degrees. The Acer Chromebook 14 reduces eye fatigue thanks to the display’s ComfyView low-reflection and anti-glare properties.

Group video conferences are easy and enjoyable with the Acer Chromebook 14’s 720p webcam with 1280 x 720 resolution as well as HD audio and video recording. The webcam provides High Dynamic Range imaging as well as a wide field of view, so multiple students, colleagues or friends can be seen while video conferencing. The system provides top-notch audio to match the excellent video experience; it has dual stereo speakers and an integrated digital microphone.

Productivity-Minded with Long Battery Life, Performance

The Acer Chromebook 14 is the first on the market to deliver up to 14 hours of battery life on models with the HD display; full HD models provide up to 12 hours of battery life.(1) Business users, students and families will be confident using the system for day-to-night productivity and fun. The Acer Chromebook 14 is powered by an Intel Celeron quad-core or dual-core N3060 processor for solid performance and the ability to multi-task with ease through apps and online games. The Chromebook features either 4GB or 2GB dual channel LPDDR3 SDRAM.(3)

Acer’s first Chromebook with All-Metal Chassis

The new Chromebook 14 is Acer’s first Chromebook to have an all-metal chassis; the case is made entirely of aluminum, making it stylish and lightweight. It boasts a touch and feel that is unmatched by any other Chromebook on the market thanks to its classic hairline-brush finish and perfectly rounded corners. Ultrathin and lightweight, weighing only 3.42 pounds (1.55kg) and measuring just 0.67 inches (17mm), it delivers cool and quiet computing thanks to Acer’s fan-less technology.

Staying Connected to Peripherals and Wirelessly On the Go

The Chromebook 14 is Acer’s first with two first-generation USB 3.1 ports for enjoying extra-fast speeds from connected peripherals. The device can be used to share HD video and audio onto an external display with its HDMI port. The Chromebook also connects to peripherals via Bluetooth 4.2.

Fast dual-band 2×2 MIMO 802.11ac/a/b/g/n Wi-Fi on the Acer Chromebook 14 keeps customers connected and in touch with up to three times faster wireless connectivity compared to 802.11n.(4)

Acer Chromebook 14 Simplifies Security and Collaboration

The Acer Chromebook 14 is simple to use and ideal for sharing by multiple users, such as families, schools or at different shifts at a business. Customers can log into their own account to access Gmail, Docs, website bookmarks and other information. The Acer Chromebook 14 comes with 100GB of free storage on Google Drive(5) to protect files, documents, and photos safely in the cloud. This also ensures that the most current version of the file or document is always available and safe, even if the Chromebook is lost or stolen. Acer Chromebook 14 users can view, edit, create and collaborate on-line and off-line with a growing number of programs, such as Office documents and Gmail.

Security is a key benefit of the Chrome operating system, as it’s automatically updated to guard against ever-changing online threats. This is especially useful for families and schools that want to protect children. In addition, the Supervised Users feature helps get children online in a safe, controlled way.

Pricing and Availability

Several models in the Acer Chromebook 14 line (CB3-431) will be available with either 16GB or 32GB eMMC storage and either 2GB or 4GB of RAM.(3) The premiere model will be available in April with a Full HD display, 32GB storage and 4GB RAM starting at $299.99 USD in the United Stated and $399.99 CAD in Canada. This model is available now for pre-sale at Amazon and will be available at in April.

Exact specifications, prices, and availability will vary by region. To find out about availability, product specifications and prices in specific markets, please contact your nearest Acer office or retailer via

Battery life is based on the HD panel. Availability of SKUs with the HD panel varies depending on region. Battery life may vary depending on usage. Actual battery life varies depending on product specifications, computer settings and applications or features launched. All batteries’ maximum capacity diminishes with time and use. “Market Share: Devices, All Countries, 4Q15 Update” 16 February 2016 Accessible capacity varies: (MB = 1 million bytes; GB = 1 billion bytes) Based on IEEE 802.11ac draft specification. An 802.11ac wireless equipped computer requires an 802.11ac router to work properly. Actual speed will vary based on range, connection rate, site conditions, size of network and other factors. Up to three times faster comparing 802.11ac with 802.11n. More information on Google Drive on Chrome devices: rc.imgrc.imgrc.imga2.imga2t.imgmf.gif


Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro will feature a fingerprint sensor

Xiaomi isn’t just releasing connected rice cookers. The company also makes phones and other tech, but right now we’ll focus on the new Redmi 3 Pro. Priced at 800 Yuan ($120), this smartphone is pretty much identical to the Redmi 3, but comes with a fingerprint sensor.


As well as the new fingerprint sensor for advanced security protection, the Redmi 3 Pro has a 5-inch 720p display, 64-bit Snapdragon 616 1.5GHz octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage (with MicroSD expansion), dual-SIM support, 4100mAh battery, and runs Android 5.1.1 Lollipop.

The Redmi 3 Pro is reported to be available starting from the Mi Fan Festival on April 4.


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