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Lenovo unveils world’s first smartphones powered by Virtual Reality (VR) technology

Lenovo has launched its VIBE X3 and VIBE K4 Note, the world’s first smartphones powered by Virtual Reality (VR) technology.

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Lenovo has launched its VIBE X3 and VIBE K4 Note, the world’s first smartphones powered by Virtual Reality (VR) technology.

The Lenovo VIBE X3 has the world’s first chambered front stereo speakers, providing users Dolby ATMOS audio experience. It has a 32-bit mobile audio DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter) that ensures low distortion and audio clarity. It also has configured three-mic system and Wolfson audio codec.

The VIBE X3 is powered by a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor with 3GB of RAM, and runs on Android 5.1 operating system. It has a built-in storage of 32GB, which is expandable up to 160GB. The device has a 3600mAh battery. With a 1920 x 1080 resolution, the VIBE X3 also comes with a 5.5-inch full high-definition wide view display that has a 178-degree wide viewing angle and a high contrast level of 1500:1.

The VIBE X3 similarly has a 21MP PDAF rear camera with 4K Ultra HD video recording capabilities and 8MP front camera.

VIBE X3-2VIBE X3-3VIBE X3-4

Like VIBE X3, the Lenovo VIBE K4 Note also has a 5.5-inch full high-definition display with 178-degree viewing angle and 1080-pixel clarity. The VIBE K4 Note comes with an internal storage of 16GB, which is expandable up to 144GB. It also has security features including fingerprint and NFC sensors.

The device also has a configured three-mic system and Wolfson audio codec, and built with twin front ported stereo speakers that are enabled by Dolby ATMOS. It also has a 13MP PDAF rear camera and a 5MP fixed-focused selfie camera.

Powered by a 64-bit MediaTek MT6753 octa-core processor, VIBE K4 Note runs Android 5.1 operating system, has 3GB of RAM and a 3300mAh battery. Storage is at 16GB and can be expanded up to 144GB.

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VIBE X3-5

The VIBE X3, which is available in Pearl White, can be acquired at P22,099; while the VIBE K4 Note, available in Matte White and Matte Black, is priced at P10,699. Both devices are bundled with a free VR headset, screen protector and a back cover.

Both models will be upgradeable to Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

5 Ways to feel the holiday spirit

It’s that time of the year again when the holiday spirit is all around us. And I say: Why not make the most of it by enjoying it?

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Yes, it’s that time of the year again when the holiday spirit is all around us. In a country like the Philippines, it – in fact – started as early as September (when what is called the -ber months started, covering September-December) and won’t end until mid-January, when Filipinos mark the Feast of the Three Kings. So the holiday spirit is really inescapable, as malls are decked in Christmas-related decors, kids start their door-to-door caroling (for a fee), offices hold once-a-year parties (as bosses hand out annual bonuses to employees), and DJs in radio stations/TV anchors keep counting the days left before we all mark Christmas and the start of the New Year.

This is not to say that everyone is touched by the holiday spirit. Because there are some who feel the stress brought by the season instead of the joys it brings. And so for these people, partaking in the festivities isn’t necessarily easy.

Worry not, though: With the belief that this season should be enjoyed by everyone (not just kids), we have here five ways to help get you in the festive spirit.

1.  Play the right music.

There’s a running joke in the Philippines – i.e. that the moment you hear Jose Mari Chan’s Christmas in Our Hearts being played on air, it must already be Christmas. This makes Chan adored… and admittedly hated by some.

But the thing is, you don’t have to just stick to Chan’s songs because there’s more to Christmas music than Chan and, yes, jingle bells and reindeer. And many of the popularly played music for the holidays are chart-toppers.

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There’s more to Christmas music than Jose Mari Chan and, yes, jingle bells and reindeer.
Photo by Mohammad Metri from Unsplash.com

In the UK, the modern fascination with the race for the festive No. 1 started in 1973, thanks to glam rock bands Slade and Wizzard. Not surprisingly, the Christmas No. 1 has been a feature of the UK Singles Chart since 1952, after the week’s best-selling singles was first published in the New Music Express.

Here are some interesting FYIs:

  • 35% of all Christmas No. 1s are cover songs – meaning originality isn’t always the best way to go when it comes to Christmas singles, given that covers account for 23 of the 66 festive number ones
  • Four acts have ever had multiple Christmas No. 1s: The Beatles, Queen, Cliff Richard and Spice Girls
  • Just 12 out of 66 number ones are actually about Christmas; surprisingly, 33% of Christmas No. 1s are actually about love

But there are numerous holiday-related songs to enjoy.

There’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band Aid (released in 1984), which has gone on to sell over three million copies – more than any other Christmas single. 

There’s Last Christmas by Wham! (released in 1984), the best-selling UK single that actually never reached number one.

Fairytale of New York by The Pogues (recorded in 1987 and released in 1988), which reached the top 20 on 15 separate occasions since losing out to Always On My Mind by the Pet Shop Boys in 1987.

And there’s Cliff Richard’s festive-themed chart-topper Saviour’s Day (released in 1990).

Incidentally, more pop songs (30 chart-toppers) than any other genre scooped Christmas number one. In fact, Ariana Grande (4/9) is the current favorite in the online betting this year. So you may want to consider other genres, too.

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Rock songs account for 11 Christmas number ones, including Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, which took the title in 1975 and 1991 and is the UK’s third-best selling single of all time with 2.53 million sales.

Easy listening, with crooners claiming number one seven times between 1952 and 1976, the most recent of which being Johnny Mathis’ When A Child Is Born.

Choral songs, which are also chart-toppers, most recently A Bridge Over You by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir in 2015.

Or you can even consider soul (with two chart-toppers), dance (also with two chart-toppers), instrumental, folk, disco and a cappella.

The point is, if it gets you in the groove, play it/listen to it. This way, you may finally ease into the holiday mode.

2.  Deck the halls… no, make that the whole house.

Put up the Christmas tree. If you manage to get a fresh one (by ditching the plastic trees), so much the better. Because once set up, staying near that tree, sniffing that pine aroma, is certainly going to pull some strings in you and make you feel… Christmassy.

Bring out those flickering lights, hang the parol (Christmas lantern), place that wreath up, ready the poinsettias, hang the stockings…
Photo by Markus Spiske from Unsplash.com

But don’t stop there: bring out those flickering lights, hang the parol (Christmas lantern), place that wreath up, ready the poinsettias, hang the stockings…

All these help make you anticipate that something special is bound to – and will – happen.

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3.  Watch some classics.

Particularly if you’re – say – Netflix- or HOOQ-crazy or is a couch potato, opt to watch some flicks that will remind you why this season is special.

If you’re not keen on a movie that is hard-selling Christmas, there are other holiday-linked films worth considering.
Photo by Sven Scheuermeier from Unsplash.com

Off the head, must-consider include: Meet Me in St. Louis (1944); It’s a Wonderful Life (1946); Miracle on 34th Street (1947); White Christmas (1954); Home Alone (1990); The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992); The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993); and Love Actually (2003).

If you’re not keen on a movie that is hard-selling Christmas, there are other holiday-linked films worth considering, including: Gremlins (1984); Die Hard (1988); The Family Stone (2005); Edward Scissorhands (1990); and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005).

4.  Join the parties.

There’s nothing wrong with flying solo; but the holiday season is really about togetherness. So try to get out of your shell and/or comfort zone and mingle. Consider this as an opportunity to party and not be judged for being overly festive (meaning, yes, you can drink and party all you want).

The holiday season is really about togetherness.
Photo by Mel Poole from Unsplash.com

5.  Share the spirit.

There are many who may not be as fortunate as you and be unable to celebrate the holidays – e.g. forgotten seniors in old-age homes, kids in orphanages, sick kids in – say – a cancer ward in some hospital, homeless families, et cetera.

As someone who may be in a better position, give some joy by reaching out to them. Maybe – just maybe – by seeing that you’re actually in a far, far better position than many others, you’d understand that there are actually things to be thankful for this season.

As someone who may be in a better position, give some joy by reaching out to them.
Photo by David Everett Strickler from Unsplash.com

So, yes, it’s that time of the year again when the holiday spirit is all around us. And I say: Why not make the most of it by enjoying it?

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Gay/straight alliance Warwick Rowers marks 10th year; still devoted to LGBTQI-related issues

Initially a fundraising calendar for one university boat club, the Warwick Rowers has grown into a major campaign for social equality and better male mental health, particularly in relation to gender and sexuality.

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The world renowned Warwick Rowers are back in the buff with a very special tenth anniversary edition of their cheeky male nude charity calendar.  

The boys’ naked devotion to LGBT rights and gender equality over the last 10 years has seen them win seven National Calendar Awards in London, make live appearances in the US, Italy and Australia, and feature regularly in global media such as BUZZFEED, HUFFINGTON POST, THE TIMES.

Most significantly, their long-running success has enabled the plucky university athletes to set up and fund Sport Allies a registered charity devoted to promoting LGBT rights and gender equality through sport. Among other achievements, Sport Allies is currently working with London Film School and SKY Sports, the UK’s biggest sports TV platform, to create viral messaging aimed at highlighting the importance of inclusion in sport.

The rowers are particularly honored to welcome special guest star Robbie Mansonto the calendar.  A two-time Olympic athlete from New Zealand, Robbie holds the world record for men’s single sculling, making him officially the fastest rower on the planet.  Robbie, who came out as gay in 2014, commented:

“As an LGBT athlete, I value the straight ally message of the Warwick Rowers.  They prove you don’t have to be a gay or female athlete to believe passionately that sport should be for everyone, and that sport can show leadership in promoting equality.  So when the guys invited me to join them in their tenth anniversary calendar, I got on a plane!”

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Tenth anniversary products include their fourth coffee table book, autographed calendars and subscriptions that will bring video and images of the boys to lucky supporters throughout the whole of 2019.

The Warwick Rowers project is a gay/straight alliance that dates back to 2009, when their debut calendar was launched to raise funds for the University of Warwick Boat Club. Producer Angus Malcolm and generations of Warwick Rowers have since achieved global recognition through a fundraising initiative and public awareness campaign that delivers a range of products to around 80 countries every year and reaches more than 140 countries through its viral messaging.

Initially a fundraising calendar for one university boat club, the Warwick Rowers has grown into a major campaign for social equality and better male mental health, particularly in relation to gender and sexuality. The calendar operates as a not for profit social enterprise, with Sport Allies as the main beneficiary of funds. From the original calendar, their range has expanded to offer behind-the-scenes film subscriptions, luxurious coffee table books (that weigh in at 2.5kg or nearly six pounds!), 100+ new images every month, and packages that combine the best of everything.

The team has been recognized with a significant number of awards for excellence, innovation and social impact, including twice being voted the UK Charity Calendar of the Year. Their aims are to promote positive, inclusive and respectful attitudes around sexuality and gender through the content that they create, and to fund Sport Allies, a registered charitable foundation with a mission to promote sport, and particularly team sport, as an inclusive and supportive route to personal growth for everyone of all genders and sexual orientations.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Art to push the curious to explore

Check out Copenhagen-based artist Spurv, whose erotic art pieces reached/touched others, particularly those “like me (who) have the curiosity to explore, and the people who are afraid to dare.”

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Sometime in 2015, Copenhagen-based artist Spurv started making erotic art pieces. It was, he said to Outrage Magazine, “somehow my personal journey through sex life where I explore my hidden sides, curiosities, fetishes, desires, limits, et cetera.

And so – in not so many words – Spurv said that without wanting to sound self-centered, he was “inspired by life itself – my life.”

Here’s the thing, though: although his artworks are “my story”, Spurv’s work eventually reached/touched other people, particularly those “like me (who) have the curiosity to explore, and the people who are afraid to dare.”

Spurv uses the old technique of gravure, this time on linoleum to create linocuts (block prints).

Linocut, a printmaking technique that is a variant of woodcut where a sheet of linoleum is used for a relief surface; the design is cut into the linoleum surface with a knife and the raised/uncarved areas represent a reversal/mirror image of the parts to show printed. The linoleum sheet is then inked with a roller, and then impressed onto paper or fabric.

“I chose (this technique) because I find very appealing (in creating) the contrast between this technique and the depicted topic of gay fetish,” Spurv said.

His subjects are actually reminiscent of Tom of Finland, Hal Fischer, Jim Wigler, Rinaldo Hopf and Etienne (among others), adapting the same raw approach to (male-to-male) sex/sexuality. And yes, as he noted, the use of linocut – instead of sketching/drawing/painting/photography – differentiates Spurv’s works.

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Obviously, Spurv is cognizant of how – even if erotic art is now very pervasive – it continues to be frowned upon. But not wanting to go deeper into this topic, he said that appreciating this necessitates going deeper to see beyond the superficial perspectives/POVs/analyses.

With art, Spurv said that there is no need to compare oneself with others, particularly since “every artist depicts his own universe in his own way. This is not a competition.”

For up-and-coming artists, “I would always encourage people to know and then express themselves (since being able to) express themselves in an artistic way is a blessing,” Spurv said. So, just like the many males in his artworks, going about discovering their sexuality, “fear is not an option.”

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Apple blocks its LGBTQI Pride watch face in Russia

While Apple regularly brandishes its “unwavering commitment to equality and diversity” in highly-produced LGBTQI Pride videos, the company – apparently – has its limits, with its Pride Apple Watch face hardcoded to not show up if the paired iPhone is using the Russian locale.

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In case anyone forgets: Pride support has its limits for businesses.

While Apple regularly brandishes its “unwavering commitment to equality and diversity” in highly-produced LGBTQI Pride videos, the company – apparently – has its limits, with its Pride Apple Watch face hardcoded to not show up if the paired iPhone is using the Russian locale.

As its is, Apple support forum users have been questioning the lack of a Pride watch face in Russia. The company – helmed by an openly gay man himself, CEO Tim Cook – first introduced its Pride Apple Watch face during the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June, drawing inspiration from the rainbow flag to celebrate LGBTQI Pride and stand against discrimination of LGBTQI people.

But tested on an iPhone running the latest iOS 12 beta, the Pride watch face simply disappears once a user switches to a Russian location.

In 2013, Russia implemented a “gay propaganda” law that – according to the European Court of Human Rights – reinforces prejudice and encourages homophobia. The law comes with the threat of jail time and fines for what Russia deems to be offensive speech.

With the non-appearance of the Pride-related product, Apple seems to be avoiding this particular legal quandary.

Apple sells a special Pride edition Apple Watch strap, donating a portion of the proceeds toward LGBTQI advocacy organizations. But the same product is also not available in Russia, one of the countries with worsening LGBTQI-related situations and where the support is most needed.

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With this, the company worth about $945 billion in June highlights many companies’ “we support you… but only to an extent” approach to LGBTQI Pride. Just this August, for instance, Unilever in the Philippines started to offer a 20-day paid leave for fathers, healthcare benefits for same-sex partners and paid absences for adoptive parents. But the company has also been accused of putting profit before the human rights of LGBTQIA people – e.g. Unilever North Africa Middle East has production facilities in countries such as Tunisia and Algeria, where – according to a 2015 report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association – homosexual activity continues to be illegal.

Unilever starts offering 20-day paternity leave, same-sex partner benefits in Phl

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

The history of treasured traditions: The wedding ring

To give you an idea of how this common trend came about, this post will be exploring the historical origins of the wedding ring, while also helping you to find one which suits you.

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There are a lot of traditions which people follow in the modern world. From celebrating people’s birthdays to seeing in the year with fireworks, there are loads of different rituals which are performed for different ceremonies. Of course, as one of the biggest and most respected traditions, wedding rings play a huge role in a lot of people’s relationships. Where exactly does this come from, though?

To give you an idea of how this common trend came about, this post will be exploring the historical origins of the wedding ring, while also helping you to find one which suits you.

In Ancient Times: The earliest recorded examples of the use of wedding rings was in Ancient Egypt. In reality, though, these aren’t the sorts of rings which people use today, and the ritual you follow will be much closer to those carried out by Ancient Greek and Roman couples. In most cases, the couple will wear a ring each before they are married, swapping to something even fancier once the big day has passed. Sometimes, though, only the women will wear the ring before the big day.

Over time, the styles of rings being worn have changed significantly, though the gesture still means much the same thing. Wearing partner rings symbolizes a deep connection between you and your other half, showing the world that you are unified in love. Of course, though, as long as you like the ring you choose, it doesn’t matter what it is supposed to convey, as you wear them for each other, not the people seeing you day to day.

A Tradition Adapts: Like many traditions throughout history, wedding rings have slowly adapted into the objects you know today. Making their way from Greece and Rome into the rest of Europe was only possible thanks to the church. Having quickly adopting this tradition, it’s no wonder that most people assume Christianity was the mother of the wedding ring. In reality, though, they came long before this massive religion.

What We Have Today: Finally, as the last area to think about, the rings on offer today are much different to those found in the past. With companies like 77 Diamonds working tirelessly to create perfect pieces for weddings, it’s easy to find a ring which matches the way you feel about each other. In the past, people wouldn’t have this choice, often having to opt for the cheapest option around. Of course, though, as this ring is supposed to mean something, the price you pay shouldn’t matter, and this object will mean the world to you no matter what.

Hopefully, with all of this in mind, you will be feeling ready to tackle the job of buying your wedding ring. A lot of people spend weeks or months looking for this part of their big day. In reality, though, this should be one of the easiest pieces to choose, especially once you have an idea of what they mean. This ring will be with you for the rest of your life.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Patient shopper, savvy saver

The good bit is that saving for a house doesn’t have to be a lengthy, stressful and drawn-out affair. You need a good strategy and a level of patience though. And if you’re a savvy shopper already, then you’re going to stand in good stead when it comes to getting that deposit.

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Everyone loves to shop, right? Well, the biggest purchase that most people will ever make in their lives is that of their house. Choosing to go shopping for a house is a big deal, and if you are fortunate enough to be in a position of lining up viewings to go and make the biggest decision you could make for your wallet, embrace it. It’s not a position everyone is lucky enough to be in, and if you love to shop, this is about to be the best shopping trip of your life. The only real downside? The cost. A house is an expensive venture and you can’t just pick one off the shelf. There are rules, deposits, fees, legal requirements – so many hoops to jump through for the purchase of a house, and it’s all on you to ensure that you jump those hoops and make it work.

The good bit is that saving for a house doesn’t have to be a lengthy, stressful and drawn-out affair. You need a good strategy and a level of patience though. And if you’re a savvy shopper already, then you’re going to stand in good stead when it comes to getting that deposit.

Saving for a house deposit is an insane task, so you can’t look at the whole amount and try to save that. A good bit of advice is to break down those savings into more manageable bites; smaller goals are always far easier to achieve. The best piece of advice you will ever find is that you should be a far savvier shopper to get where you want to go. The more time that you put into saving, the bigger the deposit you will have, meaning that you could have far more choice for the home that you want, or you could put on a smaller deposit and use the rest of the cash to furnish the place. In the meantime, though, you need to decide whether you have the patience and the grit about you to manage to make the savings that you need to make and change your life to, well, change your life. Below, we’ve put together some of our favorite savings ideas to help you get to your dream home.

Shop Smart. A big part of buying a house is dreaming up how to furnish and decorate it, right? Well, if you start shopping at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DealDash, you’re going to get some fantastic deals and you’re able to bid on the items that you want. You could furnish your entire property and find some excellent statement pieces to ensure that your house is stylish and as up to date as your budget allows you to be.

Shop Savvy. You know your incoming and your outgoing amounts of money, right? Well, it’s time to look at what you buy and make some savvy swaps. Do you love the branded cheese at the store that costs $10? Did you know you could pretty much get the same flavor of cheese for $4 less by choosing the store brand? That $4 may not seem like a lot, but when you buy cheese every week, you could move that little bit of cash into your savings account and boom, you’ve saved $200 in a year. Being smart about your swaps while you shop can really make a huge dent in your savings account, and you won’t be putting anything to waste while you do it. You have to still make yourself happy, though, so don’t swap to things that you genuinely don’t like.

Income Smart. When you get your paycheck, you’ve already divided it up to go where you need it to go to make ends meet. So, it’s time to take your savings out of your total amount before you’ve even got your check. Are you aiming to save $400 a month and you earn $2500? Well, from now on you only earn $2100. That additional chunk of cash cannot be touched, and you can set up an immediate payment on payday each month so that you’re not tempted to touch it. Don’t try to live first and save second, because you’ll never make those savings that you are so desperate to make.

Income Savvy. If you don’t feel like your full-time job makes you enough money to save, it’s time to get savvy with your income. Pick up a second job at a bar or pull extra freelance work from home. You need to savvy with your income so that you can continue to live at a rate that you are accustomed and yet make it work with your savings at the same time. Pulling a second job doesn’t have to mean you spend every spare hour working but imagine how much that you could bring in by doing two evenings a week as a delivery driver. Those shifts driving around can change your income dramatically.

Sell Smart. That car that you barely use? Sell it. Those electronics gathering dust in the garage? Sell those, too. You can look at your whole house and see a goldmine of cash just sat there waiting for you to capitalize on. If you are smart about where you sell things, you can ensure that you get the best prices for them, and really ramp up your house deposit amount.

Sell Savvy. Don’t get ripped off when selling your things. Sure, you’re looking to make some quick money, but not quick enough that you are underpaid for the things you’ve put cash into. Don’t be taken for a ride, and don’t settle for less than what you truly want for your items.

Getting that house deposit together is not going to take you forever and if you are committed, you can really see that savings account grow over time. Don’t waste any time, either. The whole property market can shift on a dime and you could lose all your plans. Make a plan, stick to it and be patient. You’ve got this.

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