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October 2018

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Users can watch the feature film as a series of snaps

Indigenous Media has released the first full-length feature film ever on Snapchat, “Sickhouse”, shot over five days in Los Angeles. Sickhouse belongs to the horror and thriller genres and it will be released through a series of snaps.

The film, written and directed by Hannah Macpherson, was shot specifically for an optimal viewing experience on Snapchat. Sickhouse follows a group of friends wandering in to the woods on a wild, reckless excursion to explore the lore of Sickhouse, when their trip takes a turn for the worse. The film’s snippets were posted initially on the accounts of Andrea Russett and Sean O’Donnell, starring in the innovative digital made for mobile film project.

Jake Avnet, who stated in an email interview to Mashable that the cast and crew are big fans of The Blair Witch Project, founded indigenous Media, the production house behind the film. He further acknowledged how everybody admired LonelyGirl15’s YouTube performances. He further said that telling a story via Snapchat was a challenge that he and his team were eager to take on, and the aforementioned projects were their inspiration for Sickhouse. Sickhouse will also be available on Vimeo on June 1.

With the introduction and swift adoption of online streaming services, the culture of cinemas and theatres, especially amongst the younger audiences, is losing its charm. Social media is all the rage these days and Snapchat remains arguably the biggest influence on the younger generation of today’s pop culture. That is why this Snapchat release makes much more sense.

The company sales have risen, but the incentives are above the industry average by over $4,000

Sales for General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) have risen by 10.2% in November, according to the latest reports. Four of the automaker’s brands showed staggering increase in sales from the year ago numbers.

Retail sales which are more profitable as compared to fleet sales gained 8%. Various analysts at Kelley Blue Book expected the overall sales to increase by 8.6%. The breakdown of the increase recorded for its brands are as follows: Chevrolet was up by 8.1%, GMC increased 14.1%, Cadillac rose 14.5%, and Buick increased by 16.1%, as reported in USA Today.

The automaker said that it is ahead of its plan to sell off the 2016 inventory, which is a good sign for profitability. However, there was also an increase noted in the incentives given by the automaker. GM said that average transaction prices after including incentives rose up to $35,767, which is above the industry average by $4,000.

A chief economist, Mustafa Mohatarem, while commenting on the auto sector said “We believe the U.S. auto industry is well-positioned for sales to continue at or near record levels into 2017.”  The statement, if proven to be true, would result in a boom in the auto sector. Investors will be keen to invest in car manufacturing giants.

The stock prices of the $55.47 billion auto giant rose by a staggering 5.5% and reached year-high levels, closing at $36.43 in the last session. The stock prices are also rising in the after-market hours, as of 7:59PM EST the stock has gained 0.16% and is changing hands at a price of $36.49.

Along with General Motors, Ford Motor also managed to beat the expectations as it registered a rise of 5.1% in sales. The increase in retail sales for the auto maker was of 10% as compared to 2015. The analyst at Kelley Blue had expected its sales to increase by 0.1%.

You’ll begin having newfound respect for your Windows 10 Mobile

A lot of people tend to underestimate Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) latest Windows 10 OS, but what they do not realize is that it does have a lot of potential. Since the tech giant is using a ‘one platform to serve them all’ approach, the possibilities are endless, and yes this includes Windows 10 for Mobile as well.

Apart from the usual features, Windows 10 Mobile has a lot of interesting features to look out for. Most of these features are not that prominent, and not everyone knows about them. Keeping this in mind, here are a few key hidden features for users to look out for and make use of:

Windows 10 Phones Can be transformed into a PC

The feature is exclusive to new Windows phones, and is made possible through Continuum. The feature can transform a compatible Windows phone into a mini-PC. In order to make this possible, all users need to do is to get their hands on a MHL adaptor or Microsoft Dock. Users will need to access the Continuum app, and select the appropriate connection method. The app will guide the user according to the type of connection method they have selected.

Kid’s Corner

One of the best things about Windows 10 Mobile is that it has a separate feature for kids, referred to as ‘Kid’s Corner’. The feature is not available on iOS or Android, and proves to be quite useful.

Basically, the feature provides a separate section where kids can access pre-selected games, videos and apps. To enable this feature, users will need to visit Kid’s Corner in Accounts, located in the Settings of the device.

One-Hand Mode

There is no doubt that the feature is quite similar to the ‘reachability’ feature offered in newer iPhones, but Microsoft has managed to provide its own version with a twist. The feature can be accessed by holding down the Windows button for no more than a second, another tap will disable one-hand mode.

The aforementioned features are just a few of the many others that Windows phone owners can take advantage of, including Windows Hello, resizing tiles, bigger fonts and so on. So if you have had a Windows phone for quite some time now, it is about time you make full use of it with the tips and features mentioned above.

We discuss the amazing approach used by DICE for the single player campaign of Battlefield 1

Greetings, gamers! You are no doubt excited about Electronic Arts Inc’s (NASDAQ:EA) Battlefield 1, especially after watching the latest single player campaign gameplay videos. Check out the full interview for the world premiere, where Larry Hyrb, a.k.a Major Nelson, sits down with Eric Holmes, the designer for the single-player campaign of Battlefield 1. Eric Holmes was the creative director of Warner Brothers’ Batman Arkham Origins, and has also worked on The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, Prototype, and Gears of War 3.

Let us begin with the prologue of the game, which is nothing short of spectacular. It is an example of genius at play, because it offers a new and fresh take on a war game, and successfully manages to shatter expectations. It is called Storm of Steel, and is described by Holmes as a “Tone Piece,” and a “Love letter” from the developers to World War 1.

During the prologue, players follow one soldier, and as soon as he dies, the screen shows a quick eulogy with his name and immediately puts players in the shoes of another soldier. This way, the cycle of death continues, and the players are constantly in the thick of it. This is an excellent way to open up a game about war, and the never-ending nature of conflict.

Let us now talk about the actual single player campaign, which follows an “entirely new format”, according to Holmes. There a total of five single player campaigns, each focusing on a different person and place across the war fronts. These are called War Stories, and can be played in any order. Players can also replay any mission on a higher difficulty.

The first mission, called Friends in High Places, deals with an aviator duo, and their relationship with each other and their role in the war. The second one, Through Mud and Blood focuses on the driver of a British tank crew who had been selected due to his experience as a chauffeur. Avanti Savoia, a mission set in the Italian Alps, follows two Italian brothers who work with the Arditi – the elite storm troops of Italy. Next up, we have a mission called The Runner which according to Holmes, takes place on “Blood soaked beaches of Gallipoli.” It follows an Australian Soldier who is part of ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps).

Finally, we come to the Middle Eastern mission, which fans of Lawrence of Arabia would enjoy. It is called Nothing is Written, and players must assume the role of a soldier starting off with only a knife, and working up to better weapons. This will particularly be an interesting one, because it showcases the latest features in Battlefield 1: horses and a vast desert.

Battlefield 1 is easily one of the most anticipated games of the year, and it is because of two main reasons. The first reason is the decision of DICE and EA to bring Battlefield back to the basics, and make a game about the events of World War 1. The other reason is the brilliance in execution and design which comes from the team’s sheer love and respect for this global conflict that changed the world forever. Judging from the gameplay videos, the team has managed to deliver a truly next-generation first person shooter, with amazing attention to detail that promises an unprecedented level of immersion.

Quadrooter is the latest bug affecting Android devices

Just recently, four new security vulnerabilities were found in Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Android smartphones and tablets with Qualcomm chipsets that let hackers get complete control of an affected Android device. According to a report from security research firm Check Point, over 900 million Android devices are affected with the high-risk vulnerabilities that have now been codenamed to Quadrooter. Adam Donenfeld, lead security researcher at Check Point, discovered the flaws first.

Adam Donenfeld also went into details about how the security flaw affects users’ devices at Def Con on Saturday. According to Donenfeld, an attacker would have to trick Android users in to downloading a malicious app that will not have any special permission. Most Android devices are secured to disallow installations from third party sources, though attackers have somehow managed to affect apps with malware. If any of the flaws are exploited, attackers instantly have access to the affected user’s device, including camera, microphone, and user data.

The report stated that most Android devices out in the market right now are capable of being affected by the latest hack. Google’s Nexus 5X, Nexus 6 and Nexus 6P, HTC’s One M9 and HTC 10, Samsung’s S7 and S7 Edge are some of the few major devices that are affected by the latest hack. Blackberry’s latest Android device, DTEK 50, is also susceptible to one of the flaws that affect these devices.

QUALCOMM, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) recently announced that the company has fixed all of the flaws and had sent out patches to all its vendors before the end of July. Some of the fixes have already been sent out to Android devices, though it is reported that one of the vulnerabilities has still not been patched. Google recently confirmed that it would fix the last flaw in the September update.

Amazon quarterly revenue is expected to grow by 23% according to Street analysts

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) may have to refund in-app charges for accident purchases by kids as a result of a lawsuit filed against the company in 2014. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) along with lawsuit judges are of the opinion that there is a lacking in Amazon in-app as it charges accounts of users for purchases without confirming or informing beforehand. If the verdict comes in against Amazon then company will have to refund all the in-app charges from 2011, occurring from accidental purchases by kids. In 2014, litigations of a similar nature were faced by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) which resulted in refunds of around $50 million; Amazon stock dropped by around 2% on the news of probable refunds.

Amazon is all set to report earnings results as the market closes today. Street analysts have projected consensus earnings per share (EPS) of $0.57 which will be a turnaround on year-over-year (YoY) basis as the company posted a loss per share of $0.12 a year ago. Moreover, Street analysts are foreseeing a 23% increase in quarterly revenue and believe that Amazon will report revenue in between $22.7-28 billion. The consensus estimates were based on a poll of 45 analysts. Amazon stock is trading at $606.57 up by 1.45% in pre-market hours on April 28.

Although Amazon stock has gained momentum since the first week of February but is still trading in the red and is down by 11.97% year-to-date (YTD). However, Dow Jones Index and S&P 500 are up by 2.49% and 1.68% respectively. After YTD market value loss, Amazon current market capitalization is around $281.27 billion. The company’s total outstanding shares in the market are around 471.59 million shares, out of which 3.65 million shares are traded on daily basis.

Amazon stock has a consensus rating of Sell with a consensus 12-month price target of $731.115 as per 26 analyst poll at Zacks Investment Research.  Out of which, the most bearish analyst suggested a $575 as near term price target for Amazon stock whereas the most bullish analyst has given a $900 price target recommendation.

The firm has a $17 price target on Etsy stock

Etsy Inc (NASDAQ:ETSY) shares surged by roughly 3% in the pre-market today after investment firm Monness Crespi upgraded its rating to a Buy from a Neutral on the company. The firm currently keeps a $17 price target on Etsy stock.

Analysts at the firm are of the opinion that Etsy shares are currently undervalued in the market. These analysts believe that estimates for Etsy could be increased on the back conversion rates seeing improvement as several catalysts come into play. These catalysts include better search results and improved mobile feature set, growing take rates along with superior cross border business capacity with merchants.

Among other things, the firm, in its research note, pointed out that the potential for Etsy’s business to grow organically is still not factored in by investors in their decisions. The firm has bumped its topline estimate for 2016  to $346 million above a consensus estimate of $340 million and for 2017 to $455 million compared to the average Street estimate of $442 million.

Etsy recently revealed that it has bought out Blackbird Technologies, a privately listed company that specializes in developing advanced search relevance and recommendation solutions through the use of machine learning technology. Blackbird amalgamates data in all sorts of formats such as pictures and texts through artificial intelligence based algorithms. It then uses the combination to bump up search capacity. Examples of search options it provides its customers include tailored searches and prognostic typeahead both of which are necessary for an e-commerce experience.

“Leveraging Blackbird’s technology, we believe we can enhance the buyer experience by making search quicker and easier and by surfacing even more relevant, tailored product recommendations,” said Chad Dickerson, Etsy, Inc. CEO and Chair. With Blackbird under its belt, Etsy would have the necessary resources to perk up user experience for shoppers.

Here’s how to resolve issues with Doom on PC

After nearly 10 years, earlier this week, ID Software launched the latest installment in the Doom first-person shooter series. Simply titled “Doom” the latest installment is a complete reboot of the franchise offering a great storyline from a stellar single player campaign. The game has generally received good reviews from critics and fans alike. For most, the experience has been nothing short of amazing; however, not all are having a trouble-free experience. While some have reported issues with low framerate and choppy rendering, others have not been able to launch the game at all, as it simply crashes for them on startup.

If you’re one of those victims, you’re not alone since numerous people have suffered from similar issues. Fortunately, there are now a few fixes floating around that have resolved the issues for many. Before you proceed with applying the fixes, ensure that your system meets the minimum requirements for the game.

Doom 2016 Minimum Requirements

OS: Windows 7/8.1/10 (64-bit versions) Processor: Intel Core i5-2400/AMD FX-8320 or better Memory: 8 GB RAM Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 670 2GB/AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB or better Storage: 55 GB available space Additional Notes: Requires Steam activation and broadband Internet connection for Multiplayer and SnapMap

How to Fix Doom 3 Crashes, Fix FPS Issues and Remove FPS Cap

First, you need to ensure that your PC has the latest Nvidia or AMD drivers installed. If your game is crashing after startup, a driver update can usually resolve the issue, since the latest drivers have been optimized keeping the game in mind. For Doom, you need the following drivers:

AMD: Catalyst 16.5.2 Driver Download

Nvidia: GeForce 365.19 WHQL Driver Download

Download and install the drivers followed by a reboot of your entire system. The updated drivers should resolve the issues for most people.

If the issue still persists, there’s another way to try. Launch Steam and navigate to your library. Right-click on Doom and then click on ‘Verify Game Cache’. The verification process will take a few minutes to verify the state of all the game files and if any files are missing, it’ll automatically download them.

FPS Cap

Despite having sufficiently equipped rigs, numerous users have been complaining that the game is capped at 60 fps for them. For users with high-end graphics cards, this is a big issue as their card’s prowess is being wasted. Fortunately, this can be fixed.

The fix for this issue is only yet available for Nvidia cards, so AMD users will have to wait. To resolve this, first of all launch the Nvidia Control Panel. Navigate top Display > Setup G-Sync. Then select the option to enable G-Sync for both – full screen and windowed modes. Next, navigate to the graphics settings and then disable V-Sync. This should remove the FPS cap.

If there are any other methods that worked for you, please let us know in the comments below!

The Country Caller takes a look at Chevron Corporation’s financial priorities

Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) is an attractive option for income-savvy investors. Its current yield of around 3.5% is higher than S&P 500’s average yield of around 2%, hence investors do get a quality source of income from Chevron.

It’s pertinent to note that despite oil crash, many energy giants lowered their dividends or halted them; however, Chevron maintained its dividend history and has a compounded annual dividend growth rate of around 9% since 2005. This offers significant confidence to investors that even in downturn, the company would continue to reward them.

In one of its investor presentation, Chevron stated that its financial priority is to maintain and grow dividend, as it has done in the past. Also, it mentioned that it eyes to fund for its capital program in order to have better futuristic earnings.

Furthermore, it stated that it aims to maintain a much stronger balance sheet and return any available and surplus amount of cash to its shareholders. The dividend yields of Chevron’s peers and their 10-year growth rate is presented below:

 

Although Chevron’s yield is lowest, but maintaining its dividend with such higher growth rate is definitely appealing and requires appreciation. Also, since the downturn in oil markets, company reported positive free cash flows (FCF) for the first time in third quarter (3Q) last year. The operational cash flows amounted to $5.31 billion, while capital expenditure (Capex) stood at $4.06 billion, and resulted in over $1 billion liquidity in terms of FCF.

With oil prices on higher side, it is safe to expect these numbers to grow and we can assume that the energy major’s financial priorities are heading into recovery phase. The Country Caller continues to remain bullish on Chevron not only because of its dividend, but the strong fundamental position. The company’s project have begun to come online including Gorgon LNG and Wheatstone LNG, which are expected to boost its production level and that too at higher price. All these factors combined indicate toward a definitive upside to CVX stock.