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Daredevil Season 3 Is Easily the Best Netflix-Marvel Show of 2018


Thanks to a terrific turn from Vincent D’Onofrio as the antagonist Wilson Fisk, solid writing that fleshed out characters, and explosive fight sequences — including that famous four-minute long take in a dark hallway — the first season of Daredevil released in 2015 was a great beginning for the Marvel universe’s grounded, street-level stories on Netflix, even if it suffered from the familiar problem of Marvel bloat at times. And after a less-than-satisfying second season involving ninjas and occults, which possibly got side-tracked in setting up the crossover miniseries The Defenders — they shared showrunners in Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez — Daredevil season 3, now in the hands of Erik Oleson (Arrow), partially hits the reset button and goes back to what worked so well on its debut.

Outside of Luke Cage‘s Misty Knight (Simone Missick) losing her arm, the events of The Defenders haven’t had a lasting impact on any Marvel-Netflix series that we’ve seen since, including the sophomore runs of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. All three titular heroes came away with little more than a scratch and hence carried on like nothing happened, picking up where they left off with their individual stories from the debut season. That wasn’t the case for Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), though. He nearly died after a building collapsed on him and his former flame Elektra Natchois (Élodie Yung) in The Defenders finale but was shown to have somehow survived albeit confined to a bed.

Daredevil season 3 begins right where the crossover ended, and briefly explains how the devil of Hell’s Kitchen survived and ended up in the basement of a church, being tended to and nursed back to health by nuns. It seems that Elektra didn’t share his fate and a distraught Murdock, who is so heavily incapacitated that he can’t even hear or smell properly in the early going, starts to reflect on the motivations behind his actions, the consequences they led to, and the true weight of his accomplishments. Having dealt with Catholic guilt all his life, Murdock posits he was deluding himself that he was doing God’s work in helping people, with his inability to bring real change causing the lawyer to lose all faith in a higher power and forcing him to reckon with the fact that his vigilantism was self-serving.

 

Murdock’s fears are exacerbated when he learns that Fisk is being let out of prison, having agreed to become a cooperating witness for the FBI, thereby negating the work he and his friends Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) did in season 1 to put him behind bars. Through Fisk’s reinvolvement with the show, Daredevil season 3 brings in the two big new additions to the cast: FBI agents “Ray” Nadeem (Jay Ali, from The Fosters), whose given name is Rahul but no one calls him that except his family likely because Americans are generally terrible at pronouncing Indian names, and Benjamin “Dex” Poindexter (Wilson Bethel, from Hart of Dixie), an expert marksman that will ring bells for the show’s comic book fans.

It’s the commitment to character development, and the way it’s handled especially with Poindexter, that lifts Daredevil season 3 above its Marvel-Netflix peers. A 15-minute monochromatic segment midway through the season offers a unique take on how to do flashbacks, as Fisk shifts through tapes and transcripts to gain insight into Dex’s childhood and lonely upbringing, from being in an orphan boys’ home to finding a surrogate mother of sorts in a therapist. Owing to that, Poindexter’s personal breakdown becomes more relatable and makes you empathise with the character, even as he slowly turns into the season’s secondary villain who can easily go toe-to-toe with Daredevil. Fisk’s slow corruption of the FBI agent has shades of Joker-Harvey Dent from The Dark Knight, and you can all but hear Fisk recite the line about madness and gravity in his head.

The show’s recurring stars — new addition Sister Maggie (Joanne Whalley) in particular, and the existing duo of Nelson and Page — benefit from the thought-out writing approach as well. Maggie isn’t what you’d expect from a nun; she’s not interested in pulling Murdock to the ways of God or decrying the violence he pursues. Having known him through his teenage years, she knows he will walk the path he wants regardless, and hence there’s a humorous, biting edge to her advice that Whalley fully leans into. With so much of the show wallowing in darkness and regret, it’s a delight to have her around. As for Foggy, Daredevil season 3 gives us the first welcome peek into his family while he tries to find purpose career-wise, and the writers hook into loose ends related to Page that had been left unexplored in the past.

daredevil season 3 wilson fisk Daredevil season 3

Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk in Daredevil season 3
Photo Credit: Nicole Rivelli/Netflix

But the best part of the new Daredevil season — which is also bound to be the most impressive and memorable — are the fight sequences, courtesy of new stunt coordinator Gary Stearns who has previously worked on The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel, and the first Thor movie. The show benefits from having a weakened Daredevil which brings increased stakes to the action, while Oleson and Stearns conceptualise a couple of breath-taking set-pieces during the first half of Daredevil season 3 (that’s what critics had access to), one being the first conflict between Poindexter and Murdock that finds the two trying to outwit each other while the other tops the hallway scene from season 1.

What begins as a homage to that turns into a nightmarish walkthrough of a prison riot, involving dozens of actors including Cox and lasting for 10 minutes, over twice as long as the previous one. And unlike last time, it’s not only brightly lit for the most part — that makes it tougher to conceal stuff — but also doesn’t make use of any gimmicks such as actors disappearing behind walls which would allow the Daredevil star to switch with stunt doubles. It’s exhilarating, special, and impossible to look away from. When Cox starts to visibly huff and puff, it doesn’t feel like he’s acting anymore.

If there’s a problem with Daredevil season 3, it’s that it’s a little slow in the early going — hopefully, the second half of the season won’t drag things out — and feels like a male-dominated show across the board. Losing Elektra is part of that equation and it doesn’t help that the two main cast additions — Nadeem and Poindexter — are both men. But that can’t take away from what is a return to form for the series as it delivers stunning combat, new characters that feel like have always been there, and makes Daredevil question his responsibilities, his purpose, and his nature. In a year the other three — Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist — have wavered between middling and disappointing, Daredevil shows how it’s done.



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Apple Says Top Apps Using Siri Shortcuts to Make Daily Tasks Easier


Top apps in Apple Store are increasingly using Siri Shortcuts to make everyday tasks easier for their users, the Cupertino-headquartered company said on Friday.

“Top apps are integrating Siri Shortcuts, making favourite apps even easier to use with a simple tap or by asking Siri,” Apple said in a statement.

Now available with iOS 12, Siri Shortcuts use powerful on-device intelligence to help users get things done faster, whether it’s commuting, being more productive, staying healthy, and more, the company added.

Shortcuts allow virtual assistant Siri to complete complex tasks with a single voice command – or sometimes without a voice command at all.

Weather reports from top apps like The Weather Channel, CARROT and Dark Sky are being delivered with simple voice requests like “radar,” “rain report,” and “UV index.”

“Citymapper helps manage the morning commute with real-time departures, line status and disruption alerts, and whether you travel by bus, train, bikeshare or Uber, using Siri Shortcuts on the Transit app,” Apple added.

With a tap on the Lock screen or by asking Siri, users quickly gain access to apps like Evernote, which has created shortcuts to easily share notes, create audio and camera notes and print.

“At work and at home, users can streamline projects, boards and cards with Siri shortcuts in Trello, Omnifocus 3 and Things,” said the company.

As more apps integrate Siri capabilities, users will be able to do even more with Shortcuts on their iOS devices, it added.

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Reigns: Game of Thrones Review


Reigns: Game of Thrones for Android, iOS, and PC is what happens when monarchy by way of Tinder simulator Reigns is set in the Game of Thrones universe. In sharp contrast to the TV show’s epic production values, Reigns: Game of Thrones is a spartan affair with minimal character designs and little in the way of gorgeous visuals. Instead, it relies on sharp, concise blurbs of text to hook you in and a simple control scheme that has you swiping left and right on your smartphone to make decisions.

Initially you’ll control the fate of Daenerys Targaryen as you choose between giving feast leftovers to dogs or the poor to drastic ones such as summoning a dragon into battle instead of relying on your troops. Eventually you’ll find yourself discovering story paths — from finding assassins sent by Cersei Lannister, to getting into a tavern brawl — that keep you swiping left and right to see how events proceed.

The utilitarian approach to gameplay works on the strength of its writing that promises something fresh with every action. Soon enough you’ll unlock other characters such as Arya Stark (who takes to the throne by assassinating Cersei Lannister), Jon Snow, and Sansa Stark, to name a few. All of your actions are bookended by visions from the Red Priestess Melisandre, conveniently occupying their place in Game of Thrones lore.

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Even if you’re not a massive fan of Game of Thrones like this writer, there’s more than enough to keep you interested in its rapid fire decision-making process thanks to the aforementioned subplots that keep things interesting. And you’re never quite far from the end. Each round of Reigns: Game of Thrones is a couple of minutes as your rule will eventually conclude in dramatic fashion. Be it being assassinated by the Faith of the Seven, or being thrown into a cauldron of wildfire, half of the fun in Reigns: Game of Thrones is seeing how you die.

That said, it isn’t without its wrinkles. Just like Reigns and Reigns: Her Majesty, a lot of your decisions are governed by four factors — your citizens, army, wealth, and the Faith of the Seven (in place of the Church in past games). They’re represented as bars and if they’re full or empty, it’s game over. More often than not, we found ourselves forced to abandon certain stories in order to keep playing the game, as pursuing them would’ve led to the game over screen.

The constant ebb and flow of these factors governs your every move. We felt that we were making choices simply to live to see the next one, depriving us of catching a glimpse of what could have been. However, thanks to it putting you into a new round almost immediately allows for near limitless experimentation and exploration.

game of thrones reigns 2 game_of_thrones_reigns

Also, regardless of your selection of ruler, your methods of negotiating with enemies is limited. End up feuding with the Lannisters? No problem, just cut off their line of credit. Have a problem with the Greyjoys? Kill their emissary on the spot or have him join your court. The similarity of choice despite being a different leader makes things a bit predictable.

Sometimes, certain game-changing effects are at odds with each other too. For example, early on in a round we gained the Debtless perk. This allowed us to replenish our treasury no matter what. Two turns later, however, we also gained the Bankruptcy ailment which wipes out our money. These concerns have to do with the procedural nature of the game but they make no sense.

Minor gripes notwithstanding, Reigns: Game of Thrones is a largely compelling romp through Westeros with developer Nerial making good use of its source material. Forget clunky episodic adventures or by the numbers role-playing games, Reigns: Game of Thrones is easily the best Game of Thrones game yet.

Pros

  • Interesting choices for most part
  • Intuitive controls

Cons

  • Some predictable choices
  • Certain gameplay effects are at odds with others

Rating (out of 10): 8

Gadgets 360 played Reigns: Game of Thrones on an iPhone 8 Plus. The game is out now for Rs. 299 ($3.99 in the US) on Android and iOS and Rs. 165 on PC via Steam.



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Apple’s October 30 Event: New iPad, Mac Models Expected


Apple said it will hold a product announcement October 30 in the New York borough of Brooklyn, likely to unveil new iPads and Mac computers.

The invitation to media reads, “There’s more in the making,” without specifying what would be introduced. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is planning the biggest revamp to the iPad Pro since it first went on sale in 2015, as well as a lower-cost MacBook laptop and a new Mac mini desktop, Bloomberg News reported earlier this year.

On its website, Apple said the event will be live streamed. This will mark the first Apple product introduction to take place in New York since the company unveiled its digital textbooks service in 2012. It is, however, the second Apple product launch outside of California this year. In March, the company announced new education software and an update to the entry-level iPad at a Chicago-area high school.

The October launch, the month in which Apple has previously debuted new Macs and iPads, will take place at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House.

The new iPads will inherit features from the latest iPhones, bringing Face ID and a nearly all-screen look to the company’s tablets for the first time, people familiar with the product told Bloomberg earlier this year. Apple is planning new iPad Pros in two screen sizes – 11 inches and 12.9 inches – that will both use facial recognition for unlocking, rather than a Home button with a fingerprint sensor. The new models are also expected to include faster processors and an Apple-designed graphics chip for the first time, but will lack the more vibrant OLED screens used in the iPhone X and iPhone XS.

When Apple launched the iPad in 2010, it quickly became one of the company’s most important products. However, iPad sales have slowed in recent years in favour of laptops and other larger screen devices. Apple has propped up demand with cheaper models and the more-capable iPad Pro, which works with a keyboard.

Beyond tablets, the company is planning an entry-level Mac with a high-resolution screen to succeed the once-popular MacBook Air. The new Mac mini desktop will focus on professional users.

The launch event continues a busy fall season for Apple, which last month released the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and a new Apple Watch. The iPhone XR, a lower-cost iPhone with a nearly all-screen front, goes on sale October 26.

© 2018 Bloomberg LP



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Redmi Note 5 Pro, Mi A2, and Other Xiaomi Phones Now Available With Discounts Offline


Redmi Note 5 Pro, Mi A2, and Other Xiaomi Phones Now Available With Discounts Offline

Redmi Note 5 Pro gets a Rs. 2,000 discount, as do the Redmi Y2 and Mi A2.

Xiaomi India has announced limited period discounts and offers on the purchase of several of its smartphones in the offline market. The Redmi Y2, Redmi Note 5 Pro, Mi A2, and Mi Mix 2 will be sold for a discount of up to Rs. 3,000. Additionally, users can avail cashback on Paytm Mall as well as when paying with SBI cards. Gadgets 360 has learnt that the Poco F1 and several other Xiaomi phones can also be bought offline with no cost EMI plans. Additionally, information shared with us reveals that the offer period is between October 18, 2018 and November 7, 2018.

To start off, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro’s base 4GB RAM/ 64GB storage variant and 6GB RAM, 64GB storage variant will get a discount of Rs. 2,000. The selfie-focused Redmi Y2 also gets a discount of Rs. 2,000 as well, as does the Mi A2. Lastly, the premium Mi Mix 2 gets a Rs. 3,000 price cut.

Apart from these instant discounts, buyers can avail a Paytm Mall cashback of up to Rs. 500 on purchase of up to Rs. 10,000 and a cashback of Rs. 1,000 when buying Xiaomi smartphones priced above Rs. 10,000. Users with SBI cards can avail a flat Rs. 500 cashback on a minimum purchase of Rs. 8,000, valid only when buying Xiaomi’s smartphones.



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Facebook Launches ‘War Room’ to Combat Election Manipulation


In Facebook’s “War Room,” a nondescript space adorned with American and Brazilian flags, a team of 20 people monitors computer screens for signs of suspicious activity.

The freshly launched unit at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters in California is the nerve centre for the fight against misinformation and manipulation of the largest social network by foreign actors trying to influence elections in the United States and elsewhere.

Inside, the walls have clocks showing the time in various regions of the US and Brazil, maps and TV screens showing CNN, Fox News and Twitter, and other monitors showing graphs of Facebook activity in real time.

Facebook, which has been blamed for doing too little to prevent misinformation efforts by Russia and others in the 2016 US election, now wants the world to know it is taking aggressive steps with initiatives like the war room.

“Our job is to detect … anyone trying to manipulate the public debate,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, a former White House cyber-security policy director for the National Security Council who is now heading Facebook’s cyber-security policy.

“We work to find and remove these actors.”

Facebook has been racing to get measures in place and began operating this nerve centre – with a hastily taped “WAR ROOM” sign on the glass door – for the first round of the presidential vote in Brazil on October 7.

It didn’t take long to find false information and rumours being spread which could have had an impact on voters in Brazil.

“On election day, we saw a spike in voter suppression (messages) saying the election was delayed due to protests. That was not a true story,” said Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook’s head of civic engagement.

Chakrabarti said Facebook was able to remove these posts in a couple of hours before they went viral.

“It could have taken days.”

Humans and machines
At the unveiling of the war room for a small group of journalists including AFP this week, a man in a grey porkpie hat kept his eyes glued to his screen where a Brazilian flag was attached.

He said nothing but his mission was obvious – watching for any hints of interference with the second round of voting in Brazil on October 28.

The war room, which will ramp up activity for the November 6 midterm US elections, is the most concrete sign of Facebook’s efforts to weed out misinformation.

With experts in computer science, cyber-security and legal specialists, the centre is operating during peak times for the US and Brazil at present, with plans to eventually work 24/7.

The war room adds a human dimension to the artificial intelligence tools Facebook has already deployed to detect inauthentic or manipulative activity.

“Humans can adapt quickly to new threats,” Gleicher said of the latest effort.

Chakrabarti said the new center is an important part of coordinating activity – even for a company that has been built on remote communications among people in various parts of the world.

“There’s no substitute to face to face interactions,” he said.

The war room was activated just weeks ahead of the US vote, amid persistent fears of manipulation by Russia and other state entities, or efforts to polarize or inflame tensions.

The war room is part of stepped up security announced by Facebook that will be adding some 20,000 employees.

“With elections we need people to detect and remove (false information) as quickly as possible,” Chakrabarti said.

The human and computerised efforts to weed out bad information complement each other, according to Chakrabarti.

“If an anomaly is detected in an automated way, then a data scientist will investigate, will see if there is really a problem,” he said.

The efforts are also coordinated with Facebook’s fact-checking partners around the world including media organizations such as AFP and university experts.

Gleicher said the team will remain on high alert for any effort that could lead to false information going viral and potentially impacting the result of an election.

“We need to stay ahead of bad actors,” he said. “We keep shrinking the doorway. They keep trying to get in.”



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Mi Band 3 Now Available to Buy via Offline Stores in India


Xiaomi has made its Mi Band 3 (Review) fitness tracker available to buy via partner offline retail stores in India. To recall, the Mi Band 3 was launched in India late last month, and went on sale via Amazon India and Mi.com the very next day. At the launch event, Xiaomi said the Mi Band 3 will be made available via Mi Home and offline stores soon. Gadgets 360 has learnt that the fitness tracker is now available to buy via offline stores. The development comes on the heels on new festive season discounts for offline stores from the Chinese company.

Launched at Rs. 1,999, the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 sports an 0.78-inch OLED display that comes with 128×80-pixel resolution, and the touch button on the display allows users to navigate by swiping up, down, left, and right, and the new Caller ID feature also allows users to see who is calling, and silence (tap) or decline calls (long press). It sports a 110mAh Li-ion polymer battery that is 60 percent larger than the predecessor, and is touted to give up to 20 days of battery life. It supports Bluetooth 4.2 BLE connectivity, and is certified for water resistance up to 50 metres.

 

The interchangeable straps are made of Thermoplastic Elastomer with an adjustable length of 15.5 to 21.6cm, and are available in Orange, Black, and Blue colour options. The dimensions of the tracker are 1.79×4.69×1.2cm, and the fitness band weighs only 20 grams. The Mi Band 3 can count steps, measure heart rate, count calories, count distance, and display date and time as well. It provides real-time notifications from app messages, texts, and calls, and the Mi Fit apps takes care of sleep analysis and full historical data of all measurements. It also lets you set a periodic heart rate tracking process for regular updates.

Additional features include stopwatch, alarm, and find your phone. Xiaomi also claims the pedometer has been improved, as well the reminder that tells users to stop sitting for too long has been retained. The Mi Band 3 is compatible with devices running Android 4.4 and above or iOS 9.0 and above.



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Apple Schedules October 30 Special Event, New iPad and Mac Models Expected


Apple has just sent out press invites for a special event in New York on October 30. Though Apple has — expectedly — not said anything about what to expect from the event, if the rumour mill over the past few weeks is any indication, one can expect the Cupertino-based company to unveil new iPad Pro and Mac models at the event.

“There’s more in the making,” reads the invite that Gadgets 360 received, with an Apple logo in blue with little skyscrapers in the middle, representing what looks like the New York skyline. Interestingly, the featured image on the invites that various publications have received this time seem to be different, since the invites that we’ve seen on social media looking nothing like the one we’ve received.

Apple is expected to reveal new iPad Pro models with Face ID technology that debuted on last year’s iPhone X. The new iPad models have also been tipped to pack USB Type-C ports, which would be a big departure from the norm as Apple has shipped proprietary 30-pin or Lightning ports on iOS devices till date.

Reports suggest that at the event Apple could also unveil a refreshed MacBook Air, the most affordable Mac in Apple’s notebook lineup.



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Realme C1 or Redmi 6A: Which Is the Best Android Phone Under Rs. 10,000?


We discuss the Realme C1, which is going toe to toe with the Xiaomi Redmi 6A for the budget smartphone market in India. This is followed by our final thoughts on the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL as Deputy Reviews Editor Roydon Cerejo joins host Pranay Parab. We begin this episode by mentioning the price of the Realme C1, which is where things get interesting because the current price of the smartphone seems almost too good to be true. The Realme C1 is available at an introductory price of Rs. 6,999 but the price will probably go up after this offer ends and at this point no one knows what the price post the offer is going to be. Then we talk about the performance of the Realme C1 and how it fares against the Redmi 6A. This is the part of the podcast where we talk about the Redmi 6A and the Asus Zenfone Lite L1. The Realme C1 price in India compares favourably against Redmi 6A price in India and Zenfone Lite L1 price in India, but that may change very soon. Then we look at the Realme C1 battery life, software, and camera in the final part of this segment.

Then we talk about the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL. These two smartphones are on the other end of the pricing spectrum and that means there should be no compromises. However the price makes sure that there’s room for a lot of criticism. Roydon talks about the phone first, most of which is speaking about the camera and how well it performs. Then we mention the fact that the magic is in the software and that the hardware is the same as what we’ve seen in cheaper smartphones. This brings us to questioning the pricing of the Pixel 3 and whether the price in India is justified. 

That’s all for this week’s episode of Orbital, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.



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Ericsson Has Dismissed 50 Employees Following US Corruption Probe


Mobile telecom gear maker Ericsson said on Thursday that it has dismissed 50 people over a US corruption probe it warned could lead to a financial penalty.

The Swedish company has previously said that it initially received questions from US authorities in March 2013 and that it has been cooperating with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the US Department of Justice.

“I’m trying to say that we have taken quite a lot of actions and done quite a lot of activities,” Ericsson Chief Executive Borje Ekholm told a press conference, after the group reported stronger-than-expected third-quarter results.

The 50 employees have left the company since Ericsson began its own investigation in 2013, a company spokesman said, but declined to be more precise. Several regions were affected, but the spokesperson declined to give details.

Ericsson has not commented on previous media reports that US authorities were investigating its business practices in Romania and in China.

“We believe that the resolution of these matters will likely result in monetary and other measures, the magnitude of which cannot be estimated currently but may be material,” Ekholm said in a statement.

Findings of corruption by US authorities can result in hefty fines for companies under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

© Thomson Reuters 2018



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