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April 2018

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Experience the best of Arkham games with a new visual upgrade

Warner Bros. has finally confirmed that Batman: Arkham games are getting remastered for current-generation. Batman: Return to Arkhamwhich includes Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City will arrive on Sony Corp.’s (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox One. No PC version has been announced.

Check out the announcement trailer below:

The collection features a full remaster of the first two games in Unreal Engine 4. This allows the games to look visually much better than their last-generation counterparts that were built on Unreal Engine 3. Everything from models, environments, lightning, shaders to visual effects are reworked by Virtous – the studio responsible for the remaster.

On top of the visual uplift, the collection will feature all the downloadable content of both games. The remaster will retail for $49.99 and preorders are now open on both platforms.

Batman Arkham series undoubtedly became the greatest comic hero based games of all time. What Rocksteady managed to pull off with the first game was so authentic that it earned it immense respect from fans. Even without considering the authentic adaption of the Batman universe, Batman Arkham series stand as a collection of amazing games and worth the attention of those who are yet to play them.

Batman: Return to Arkham is scheduled to release on July 29.

The long awaited exploit for the iOS 9.3.2 jailbreak has finally been released by the veteran iOS hacker

iOS 9 has been especially tough on the jailbreak community. While the first few iterations of iOS 9 were jailbroken with ease within the first few weeks, the trajectory has been on a downward slope since then. It’s been over six months since the release of a jailbreak tool for the latest version of iOS. A few months back, Pangu did release the jailbreak for iOS 9.1, however by that time most users had updated to iOS 9.2.1 so the tool couldn’t really be utilized by many users. 

Now it appears that the long wait may soon be coming to an end. In a tweet earlier, veteran iOS hacker Luca Todesco released his “GasGauge” exploit which can be used to jailbreak iOS 9.3.2 and even the iOS 9.3.3 betas. Luca hasn’t been shy in making it known that he possessed the exploit by repeatedly sharing images of jailbroken iPhones on iOS 9.2.1 and above running Cydia. While Luca had no plans to make the exploit known, the release was triggered by the major security advancements that Apple has made with iOS 10 which have effectively burned the exploit. 

This is the same exploit which Luca has used for all his previous jailbreak demos and now that it’s been burned, he simply decided to make it public. On his Twitter account with the handle @qwertyoruiopz, Luca posted a link to Ghostbin which contains the raw exploit code. Even though this exploit can effectively be used to create a jailbreak tool, it’s of no use to normal users in the current state. 

However, this is a huge step forward. The first and most difficult barrier in creating a jailbreak is finding the exploit, and now that an exploit has finally been made public, we’re bound to see the release of a public jailbreak tool soon. That is, as soon as a seasoned developer takes the enormous task upon himself to create the tool from this exploit.

Amazon, alongside seven other retailers, will start using food stamps as part of a two-year pilot program being rolled out by USDA for SNAP participants

Speculation confirmed that popular retailer, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) plans on accepting food stamps as part of a pilot program rolled out for SNAP participants. The program, initiated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will go on for a span of two-years, analyzing the outcome and process of ordering groceries online and making online payments.

An Amazon exec stated, “We are committed to making food accessible through online grocery shopping, offering all customers the lowest prices possible. Amazon’s selection and competitive pricing can improve the grocery shopping experience for SNAP participants while helping them extend their benefits further.” 

For now, only SNAP users in Maryland, New Jersey and New York will be able to work with Amazon’s latest addition. Considering that 43 million people are already part of the SNAP program, we believe that the pilot will be able to grasp what audience reactions will be like with the “higher level of security” and give execs a good idea of what aspects will need improvement in the future.

However, it seems that Amazon isn’t the only retailer which signed up to be part of this experiment. Alongside the retail giant, other platforms that will take part in the pilot program include:
– FreshDirect – New York
– Safeway – Maryland, Oregon, Washington,
– ShopRite – Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
– Hy-Vee, Inc. – Iowa
– Hart’s Local Grocers – New York (based in Rochester)
– Dash’s Market – New York (based in Buffalo)

According to Tom Vilsack, USDA Secretary, “Online purchasing is a potential lifeline for SNAP participants living in urban neighbourhoods and rural communities where access to healthy food choices can be limited. We’re looking forward to being able to bring the benefits of the online market to low-income Americans participating in SNAP.”

While the pilot program will currently be limited to eight states only, there are high chances that USDA will gradually launch the feature for customers around the world. With the rising dependency on e-commerce, online payments and home shipments; we believe that Amazon’s decision to test out food stamps will help the company expand its user-base in the future if the pilot program rolls out for global usage and help it to further strengthen its position as the e-commerce giant in competitive markets.

The Country Caller explains the reason behind recent surge in Chesapeake Energy’s stock and expects the sustainability in rally

Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE: CHK) stock has appreciated by 6.14% year-to-date. More interestingly, the stock’s performance in past week has been mouthwatering as it has surged by over 8% in past five days of trading. The reason behind the recent rally is none other than the recent spike in crude prices.

After trading at lower levels of around $30 a barrel this year, the NYMEX crude oil prices have settled above $50 a barrel mark for the first time since July last year. Currently, the U.S. benchmark for crude West Texas Intermediate (WTI) trades at $51 per barrel, while the Brent Crude trades at $52.13 a barrel.

Moreover, natural gas prices are also on a rise as it currently trades at $2.50 per Million British Thermal Units (MMBtu), up by 0.89%. On back of the recovery in crude oil prices, along with announcement of amendment in credit facility earlier this year, investor’s confidence in the company is increasing and the stock is heading northwards. In addition, the initiatives undertaken by Chesapeake, such as asset divestiture, lowering of debt burden, are likely to further benefit it in future.

Will The Rally Sustain?

The obvious answer to whether the rally in company’s stock would sustain is that more or less it depends on the commodity prices, which in our view, are expected to go higher. The reason behind the optimistic expectation is that regarding supply and demand, both ends for oil markets are positive. When talking about the supply, the logistics disruptions from Nigeria, Venezuela, and Canada are lowering the oil production and countering the increased production from Iran.

Yesterday, American Petroleum Institute stated that crude oil supplies have declined by 3.6 million barrels for week ending June 3, 2016. When discussing the demand side, the ‘India’ factor is adding to global oil demand. According to International Energy Administration (IEA), growth in India’s oil demand has surpassed than that of China.

The Chinese demand for refined fuels in Q1 of this year declined to 353,000 barrels per day, which was almost 60% lower than its higher demand of 900,000 barrels a day in 3Q last year. Contrary to this, India’s demand for the liquid fuels surged by 400,000 barrels a day in the first quarter.

Hence, we remain optimistic on oil prices, and hence expect the rally in Chesapeake Energy to sustain.

The tech giant has now removed the payment method that it added to its store in late 2014

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has effectively removed all traces of it accepting the cryptocurrency known as Bitcoin on its Microsoft Store for Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile. Bitcoin was previously supported for US consumers via 3rd party payment gateway, BitPay on the Microsoft Corporation Store, from late 2014 to March 2016.

When the cryptocurrency was launched, it was touted as a move by Microsoft to expand its payment processors and options to consumers in late 2014. It does seem, however, that fuelled by the fact that few consumers use Bitcoin for transacting with the Microsoft Store; the digital currency is often sold at a significant premium, ranging from 5 to 15% of its equivalent market value in US dollars at most times. In addition to this, the currency is incredibly volatile, something that could make picking out a payment processor for transactions in millions of dollars a year quite tricky.

According to Softpedia, however, it may simply be due to the fact that there are limited transactions being made to purchase items via Bitcoin. Given the fact that the feature has never been pushed outside of the US, it seems Microsoft gauged a very low utility for its consumers when it came to making payments via bitcoin.

It must be noted that while Microsoft’s Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile stores do not support payments via Bitcoin, it continues to do so via the Xbox division, indicating a limited rollout.

Bitcoin is widely touted as a pioneering digital cryptocurrency with various investment banks such as Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC), remaining highly interested in the underlying Blockchain or multi-confirmation technology, that powers it via P2P trusted nodes, something that could very well define the next generation of digital banking, minimizing cost and maximizing efficiency.

Sanderson Farms and Scholastic Corp’s quarterly projected numbers ahead of their earnings release on Thursday

Sanderson Farms, Inc. (NASDAQ:SAFM) and Scholastic Corp (NASDAQ:SCHL) are all-set to report their quarterly financial results before the opening bell on December 15. Sanderson Farms will report results for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2016 (4QFY16) while Scholastic Corp will post results for 2QFY17. Earnings whispers suggest that both companies are likely to underperform Wall Street expectations for the quarter.

Sanderson Farms

The consensus earnings per share (EPS) estimate stands at $2.57, which would represent a healthy increase from EPS of $1.22 reported in the same quarter last year.

Moreover, analysts expect Sanderson Farms to post revenue of $784.73 million. However, Estimize.com predicts the company to miss the Street on top line with its revenue estimate of $784.43 million.

Scholastic Corp

Wall Street analysts expect the company post EPS of $1.92 in 2QFY17, a major improvement from 1Q’s loss per share (LPS) of $1.15. It would also represent an increase of 3.78% year-over-year (YoY).

Furthermore, the consensus revenue estimate stands at $1.62 billion, which would represent an increase of 4.46% YoY. Estimize.com believes that Scholastic Corp will miss the Street on top line with revenue estimate of $597.03 million.

After the initial release of PlayStation VR, multiple users had issues with the device

PlayStation VR is the future and very few people will challenge this claim. It is the next step in the evolution of games; so with all the hype behind PlayStation VR and the games that come with it, things were expected to go perfectly, or imperfectly, depending on the players. After being released, Sony was probably waiting for any complaints and kinks in the software or hardware as happens with most releases by either Sony or Microsoft. There have been quite a few complaints by users who have so far bought and used the device.

After the initial release of the PlayStation VR, multiple users had issues with the device. One of the biggest problems is the shift of the view towards the left while playing games. One user complained while explaining the problem, “After 3 laps of Drive Club I have to look almost over my left shoulder to keep the center in the view. Same thing for EVE and Battle Zone… I recalibrated everything, moved the cam closer, it still shifts with every movement of my head.”

IGN reported this issue as well and reached out to Sony regarding these issues, but it has not responded as of yet. You can go to IGN page to checkout the tutorials on PlayStation VR and avoid dizziness caused by motion sickness. Other problems range from games unable to detect headsets, to titled screen view being shown within the headset, and more.

PlayStation VR launched on October 13 and sold a couple of thousand pieces as part of its initial release. A research firm calculated the numbers and predicted that Sony PlayStation VR will sell upwards of two million units before the end of this year.

Siri SDK now supports another major messaging service to make life easier for users on iOS

Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Skype v6.27.1 for iOS has now been released, and it comes with Siri integration that allows users to make calls and send messages to other users and contacts by commanding the iOS virtual assistant.

Apple announced during the Worldwide Developers Conference 2017 earlier this year in March that the SDK for its mobile assistant Siri would be opened for developers so that integration with more apps could be made possible. Since then, integration with WhatsApp and Messenger, among other apps, stands out most of all.

Now, with the latest update to Skype, users on another major messaging and video communication platform will have access to Siri so that they can easily send messages and make calls without opening the app itself.

Now that more apps have started to support Siri, the race for the top mobile virtual assistant is well and truly on. After Google demonstrated its latest Google Assistant, now shipping with its Pixel and Pixel XL flagships, Siri faces immense competition from a number of competitors. Some of them could lay a solid claim for being equal to Siri, and Google Assistant probably beats Siri by some miles.

In conclusion, more work is needed to keep Siri up to pace with the developing landscape of artificial intelligence.

Sell Side firms are turning bullish on the stock following the analyst day

Western Digital Corp (NASDAQ:WDC) rating has been reinforced by brokerages Mizuho Securities and Needham and Company today. The sell side firms have also raised their price targets for the company.

Mizuho Securities has reiterated its Buy rating of the stock and has raised its price target to $72 from $66. Analyst Vijay Rakesh from the firm has commented by saying: “WDC held its first Investor Day in four years today at its Milpitas facility.” The technology company has raised its guidance and has announced to stop the product development in its 10k/15k HDD and is now focusing more towards SSD. The firm has adjusted its expectations for future due to a possibility of better revenues and operating expenditure controls.

Richard Kugele, analyst at Needham and Company, has also reiterated his Strong Buy rating on the stock and has raised the price target for the stock from $69 to $77. He said the following: “Yesterday’s analyst day was WDC’s first real chance to show Wall Street that the operational and financial excellence that the company has displayed for years in the HDD world is equally applicable in the NAND space.” He further stated that the company accomplished this task by providing a thorough review of their key drivers, risks and opportunities in the future. The firm believes that the $17.86 billion technology company has a right vision and the appropriate plans to execute the vision.

The stock prices of the California based technology company have been rising since the analyst day. The stock gained 2.83% yesterday and closed in at a price of $63.85. The prices have been rising in the pre-market hours today as well. Shares of the company have gained 4.98% as of 6:18AM EST and are being traded at $67.03.

Sell side firms including Citigroup, Brean Capital, and Wells Fargo have issued a Buy rating for the technology stock. The general price target stands at $69.57 depicting a 8.96% upside over the last close.

The deal is also likely to please Donald Trump, who is expected to significantly favor US production

Reportedly, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) showed interest in acquiring bankrupt American Apparel LLC along with Forever 21 – teen apparel store chain. According to Bloomberg, the main question that surfaced was regarding why Amazon would be interested in buying a company that went bankrupt twice and had been losing money for years.

While the company has made no official announcements regarding its interest, analysts believe that a deal is far from being strange and makes sense. Consequently, AMZN shares jumped more than 3% during active trading yesterday.

Bloomberg report also suggested that while the company faced various challenges and uncertainties, it still remains quite popular and strong amongst millennials. The deal makes sense as it can reportedly please fashionistas, who like the company’s urban wear and are more habitual of shopping online. The transaction will also enhance Amazon’s response to new US market trends as American Apparel owns a clothing factory in Los Angeles.

Moreover, apparel constitutes an important part of the retailer’s business. The company has been observed of digging deeper into fashion with its own private label. It has also made various acquisitions within this category, such as Zappos.com for $850 million.

KeyBanc Capital Markets’ managing director, Ed Yruma stated: “Amazon has two key growth pillars for retail growth — apparel and grocery. While I’m not going to handicap the likelihood of this particular rumor, I do think we will see them mentioned more frequently as a buyer of apparel brands.”

Furthermore, the deal is also likely to impress President-elect Donald Trump, who is likely to encourage US production. The company can create more jobs by keeping its factory in the US.