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September 2018

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Sign up if you wish to participate in testing the next major update

It has been a while since Sony Corp. (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) released a major OS update for PlayStation 4, but that is about to change soon. Announced at the official PlayStation Blog, Sony has begun registration for the next major firmware update, but no dates have been given yet.

Sony has also not specified what features and improvements will come with system software update 4.5, but PS4 owners can sign up right now to receive access to the beta and provide feedback before the update is rolled out publically to everyone. Head over to the link here and sign up for the beta after accepting the Terms and Conditions.

While Sony has not revealed anything more, we can expect to see another cool codename for the update, just as system software update 2.0 was called “Masamane” and update 3.00 was called “Kenshin.” In other news, Sony announced a new PS4 Glacier White model this week. The new color option for the PS4 slim will arrive in Europe in 500 GB version on January 24 and folks in Japan can buy it from February 23 in 500 GB or 1 TB versions.

Despite working hard to prevent any technical issue, Southwest Airline website crashed earlier this week

Once again, Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE:LUV) website crashed earlier this week, ahead of the peak holiday season that will impact the airline’s passenger traffic during the month. The airline reportedly resolved the issue shortly but customers still complained about issues related to checking in, booking, and other website functions.

Despite the website issue, the airline reported that none of its flight operations were affected during the outage and that the airline remains on track in maintaining its on-time arrival. Overall, the airline experienced issue in its website earlier Tuesday morning, which prevailed for a few hours.

Following the website crash, the airline reported that passengers travelling on Wednesday will be allowed to change their travelling plans without any additional charges or penalty. Furthermore, during the technical issue, passengers were advised to check in at the airport or visit the ticket counter of the airline to proceed with their scheduled travelling.

Analysts related to the industry believe that although no flights were delayed based on the technical issue, its existing and new booking during this week must have been adversely affected as passengers would not be able to book new flights through the website. Furthermore, the technical issue might affect the airline’s passenger traffic during the holiday season, as it was not able to book a new flight during the peak holiday season.

This is not the first time Southwest Airline experienced technical issue in its reservation system. Earlier the summer holiday season the airline experienced technical issue in its IT system that resulted in hundreds of flight delays around the globe. The airline will receive criticism from its investors based on the current technical issue as the airline was working on to prevent any type of technical issue during the holiday season, when airlines make most of their revenues.

Earlier during summer holiday season, more than 2,300 Southwest Airline flights were cancelled based on the technical issue that prevailed for four days that cost millions of dollars to the airline.

Apple is highly expected to release its next generation MacBook Pro by the end of 2016

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has not updated its current generation MacBook Pro for some time now, which is probably why numerous sites are adamant that the Cupertino based tech giant could soon be refreshing its current line of laptop devices. Also, Apple’s computer market share has been on the downfall by almost 5% since the second quarter of 2016, so something needs to be released now.

Even though the tech giant keeps its upcoming projects away from media attention, but that has not prevented tech gurus from speculating the next generation MacBook Pro and its features. Here is everything you need to know about the highly rumored MacBook Pro 2016.

Release Date:

Previously, it was highly believed that Apple would reveal its next generation MacBook Pro during its September event, but Apple clearly has a different plan. The latest rumors indicate that the company will hold a separate event by the end of the month to unveil its refreshed line up of MacBook Pro.

Specifications:

While most rival tech companies are incorporating the latest generation Intel Kaby Lake processing chipsets in their upcoming devices, Apple is reportedly sticking with Intel’s previous generation Intel Skylake processors. Numerous tech analysts have tipped the next generation MacBook Pro models to be powered by Intel’s sixth generation Intel Skylake processors.

Interestingly, this might be the biggest indication that Apple is on the verge of announcing its new MacBook Pro models, as Intel will not be mass producing its seventh generation Kaby Lake processing chipsets before early 2017. The next generation MacBook Pro is highly tipped to implement an upgraded display in order to better compete with some of the best performing laptop devices available in the market. There are multiple reports regarding a thinner and lighter design for the upcoming MacBook Pro lineup. Any refreshed MacBook Pro model should incorporate a USB Type-C port, which offers super-fast charging capabilities.

There are also new rumors claiming that the next generation MacBook Pro will follow in the footsteps of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in replacing the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack with lightening connectors. This will certainly boost the sale for the tech giant’s wireless headsets offered in the market. Furthermore, it has been virtually confirmed by many leading tech analysts, including the ever-reliable Mr. Ming-Chi Kuo, that the upcoming MacBook Pro 2016 will incorporate a touch sensitive OLED panel in place of the traditional functional keys found on any other laptop computer.

Verdict:

If the latest speculation is true then the upcoming MacBook Pro 2016 will turn out to be one of the most powerful laptop devices in the market. Even though the upcoming MacBook Pro 2016 is not tipped to be powered by the latest generation Intel processing Chipsets but rumors have backed Apple to compensate this with numerous upgrades. Hence, it would be wise to wait for the official announcement of the next generation lineup of MacBook Pro rather than settling for another laptop device.

The Country Caller takes a closer look at the top pre-market movers today

Nexvet Biopharma plc (NASDAQ:NVET), Envision Healthcare Holdings Inc (NYSE:EVHC), Restoration Hardware Holdings Inc (NYSE:RH), and Biostar Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:BSPM) are the top pre-market movers today. The Country Caller takes a close look at the possible reasons for major price changes.

Nexvet Biopharma (NVET) shares were up by 23.19% to $4.94 in the pre-market trading session today. The animal drug focused company has presented expanded positive clinical data for ranevetmab. There is a significant improvement in the assessed level of pain. Moreover, improvements have been seen in comparison to the previous results. Analysts expect the stock to offer significant upside potential. The indicative TP is $8, offering more than 95% upside from current levels.

Envision Healthcare (EVHC) shares were up by 12.78% to $28.94 in the pre-market trading session today. The company is reportedly in merger talks with AmSurg Corporation. Both the companies are expected to have a combined value of $9 billion, if the deal is finalized. Analysts have a bullish stance on the stock and have set a TP of $32.75, offering more than 25% upside from current levels.

Restoration Hardware Holding (RH) shares were down by 20.43% to $28.7 in the pre-market trading session today. In its recentearnings announcement, the company missed its quarterly earnings target by 10c, while it has also cut down its outlook for FY16. Analysts have given Hold recommendation for RH as they feel that it can offer an upside of 15% from current levels.

Biostar Pharmaceuticals (BSPM) shares were down by 8.74% to $3.76 in the pre-market trading session today. The company shares were up by more than 200% in yesterday’s trading session and the pre-market price decline seems to be profit-taking since no update on the company is currently available.

Ubisoft, wake up! Hide the scars to fade away the shake-up!

Ubisoft Entertainment SA (NASDAQ: UBSFY) has a strong history when it comes to mangling the PC versions of its games. Even if the company has some vendetta against the Windows-based community, The Division – a potential gold mine for Ubisoft – is not going to survive on the platform if it continues to see a lack of developer support.  

During its open beta, The Division on PC saw a large number of players take advantage of a blunder on Ubisoft’s part that allowed them to override a number of settings. Usually, such actions are either restricted on the client’s end or sees to the master server restoring all changes before letting the player connect. However, players faced no obstacles in tweaking their client-side files to increase the Critical Chance for their weapons, maximum health for their characters and much more.  

At the time, Ubisoft promised that it was “on it,” as in working on a fix to correct the mess. However, the beta period soon expired and we all went our separate ways. It was a testing ground for the game after all and it was evidently clear that Ubisoft had to have a good anti-cheat system in place with the official launch.

The studio apparently forgot all about it. We’re currently into the second week of the Division’s release and the PC version is already plagued with numerous players packing aimbots, wall hacks, infinite ammunition and invincibility. In accordance with a new report, it clearly didn’t take them long to crack open whatever security measures Ubisoft had in place.   

Here’s a video to show you all of that in action. Showcasing players right through obstruction, unlimited ammo, apparently no reloading, zero recoil, auto-aiming; you simply have to click once to kill.

You can expect Ubisoft to acknowledge the issue and once again state that it has a team working on a fix. The fact remains that the beta taught the studio nothing; the PC version has always been an open playing field for hackers, as developers in the past had to take extraordinary measures to secure their player-base. It’s saddening to see that for an online MMO, The Division’s anti-cheat on PC – if it even exists – was broken within one week of launch.

That doesn’t bode well for the game. A game cannot survive without constant support from its developer. Ubisoft needs to wake up and formulate a plan this instant to keep its game and servers safe from rodents. Otherwise, players are simply going to walk away, making post-apocalyptic New York City even more barren. No one is interested in wasting time in a game where the developers are least bothered about cheating players.

In the view of analyst George Hill, the report may not mean the deal is dead

Deutsche Bank issued a research note on Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (NASDAQ:WBA) following a report that said the proposed agreement with Fred’s, Inc. (NASDAQ:FRED) does not satisfy Federal Trade Commission concerns regarding Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE:RAD) buyout. Despite the negative report, Deutsche Bank believes there is still hope for the deal.

Following the report, the firm remained convinced with a Buy rating and $92 price target (PT) on WBA, which reflects 12.57% upside potential over the recent close price $81.72. WBA shares plunged down by 2.12% on Friday trading session reflecting negative sentiment of investors regarding RAD acquisition.

George Hill, Deutsche Bank analyst said, “We note the news at this point is vague, and the regulators’ discomfort could come from many components of the deal, including Fred’s decision to finance the deal principally with debt, or just time to close.” He added, “While an objection to Walgreens’ proposed remedy would be a blow, we do not believe it would spell the death of the deal.”

In his recent talks with Walgreens, Mr. Hill noted there are other potential buyers for Rite Aid stores that need to be sold off. In his view, WBA could attempt to revive discussions with those prospective buyers. Moreover, since the WBA/RAD merger is scheduled to expire on January 27, Mr. Hill believes WBA management could possibly re-cut RAD deal to enhance its profile considering the challenges.

Even if the Rite Aid deal is called off, Walgreens will still have capacity for capital deployment and substantial financial flexibility to drive shareholder value. However in case of a standalone situation, Mr. Hill thinks RAD shares would trade in $3.10-3.65 range. As of Friday, Rite Aid shares closed down 13.26% at $7.46 in response to FTC dissatisfaction.

New leaked image confirms the iPhone 7 Pro’s existence

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is expected to release the iPhone 7 later this fall and recent months have seen plenty of new images which claim to showcase the upcoming iPhone. However, most of the photos leaked were either not clear or just plain fake. Now a new image leaked by popular Apple leaker NowhereElse.fr claims to have official leaked images of the purported iPhone 7. The new leaked images show three different Apple devices instead of the two that Apple has been releasing over the last few years.

The leaked images show us three devices with one marked as iPhone 7 Pro, one as iPhone 7 and the last one as iPhone 7 Plus. The Pro and Plus models look to share the same screen size but there are a couple of notable differences. The Pro variant features the rumored Smart Connector that was introduced with the iPad Pro and a dual camera setup. The dual-camera is expected to significantly enhance the quality of pictures in low-light conditions. The Smart Connector would also enable users to use accessories like the Smart Keyboard with their iPhone.

The only difference on the back of the new iPhone is the redesigned antenna lines which have now been placed alongside the back of the upper and lower edges of the device. The camera module is also slightly larger than the camera found on the iPhone 6s. The front of the device looks exactly the same with the home button placed in the center. 

Earlier reports also indicated that Apple is expected to remove the 16GB variant as the base model in favor of 32GB. The company might also be expected to cut down the price of the base model by $100 as the smartphone giant saw a decline in sales for the first time with the iPhone 6s.

The Country Caller takes a look at why Chesapeake Energy stock is up today

Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) traded up at 2.99% at $5.85 during early trading on Wednesday as of 9:37 AM. The stock has done quite well in the past week and risen consistently after a revamp in oil prices.

This week has been a good one for the oil and gas industry. The US crude inventory data came different from analysts’ expectations yet again but this time around, the analysts would be glad that their expectations proved to be wrong. Crude oil inventories declined by 2.5 million barrels in the latest period against the expectations of analysts, who had anticipated the inventory to go up by 0.5 million barrels.

Oil prices also traded higher as a result and positively impacted Chesapeake stock price. During the early trading on Thursday, the US benchmark for crude oil, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was up 1.54% at $47.51 per barrel, while the global benchmark for crude oil, Brent Crude was up 0.72% at $50.21 per barrel.

Other than the oil price scenario, some other factors contributed to the positive stock price as well. The company, for instance, announced on Tuesday that it managed to successfully work its proposed term loan due to the strong demand. In addition, it has also managed to increase its term loan to $1.5 billion from the previously announced loan of $1 billion.

According to the company’s press release, which was issued on Friday, this loan would be for a period of five years with an interest rate of LIBOR plus 7.5% on an annual basis. The loan would help to improve the company’s financial liquidity position, which has been battered by the decline in crude oil prices.

Goldman Sachs, MUFG, and Citigroup would be arranging the loan. The company mentions in its website that the loans would be used to finance tender offers, debt repayments, and other corporate business.

Tesla’s first Supercharger location in Czech Republic includes several charging standards

Some car manufacturers and electric vehicle (EV) owners have been demanding for homogenous charging standards across the world. While some progress has already been made, we would have to wait and see which standards will remain and which will be shunned.

Meanwhile, some charging stations with several charging standards have started to emerge in some parts of the world. Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has started to follow this approach at select Supercharger locations around the globe. The automaker’s latest charging station is the first Czech Republican Supercharger.

The E.ON Supercharger situated in Humpolec, a town in Vysočina Region, along the European Route E-50, the main highway between Brno and Prague. The location has been split into two lanes: a six-stall DC-fast charging station and a series of several other charging standards.

The latter half of the station includes two DC-fast chargers, a CHAdeMo charger and CSS charger (both capped at 50kWh. There is also couple of level-2 Mennekes type 2 chargers with power output of 22kW.

Last month, the company official launched the Humpolec Supercharger providing 24 hours free charging service to Model S and Model X owners. Owners can use BENZINA gas station’s restaurant, restrooms, and amenities, as well as free Wi-Fi offered by E.NO, while getting their vehicle recharged.

EcoFuture.cz shared some photos of the Supercharger station:

The Humpolec Supercharger is the automaker’s first foray into the Czech Republican soil. Since it does not have any retail or service center location in the country yet, it does not sell the Model S and Model X to the natives. Though, whenever Tesla launches a Supercharger station in a new country, it is generally a sign that the automaker is about to introduce its vehicle into the market.

Supercharge.info shows that Tesla has a permit to open another Supercharger in Prague.