Saturday, April 4, 2020

Hall of Fame announcement could be a ray of light in a dark time for basketball

A UNIQUE Hall of Fame class will be announced Saturday (Sunday, Manila time) in a unique way.

Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are all expected to be officially announced as part of the 2020 class of enshrinees by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, which typically reveals its annual selections at college basketball's Final Four. This year, with sports shut down because of the global coronavirus pandemic, the announcement will be televised from ESPN's studios in Bristol, Connecticut with some elements of the show taped ahead of time.

Bryant, Duncan and Garnett, with a combined 11 championships and 48 All-Star seasons between them, are all first-time finalists and locks to be in this class. Only six players in NBA history have been selected to 15 or more All-Star Games — and Bryant, Duncan and Garnett are three of them.

"We all have criteria we look at in terms of the nominees: All-Star appearances, All-League, first team, second team, third team, the various awards, the championships," Hall of Fame Chairman Jerry Colangelo said. "There's a whole list of things we look at. And each year there's usually one person who stands out with an array of all those honors. But this time, with those three, the accumulative is unbelievable." The announcement could be a ray of light in a dark time for basketball. The NBA was already grieving the deaths earlier this year of Bryant, the longtime Los Angeles Lakers star who was killed with his daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash, and Commissioner Emeritus David Stern. Then came the coronavirus, which shut down the league on March 11 and has stopped so much across the world since. College sports, including the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, were called off for the remainder of the academic year. Most states didn't get around to crowning high school state champions. The WNBA season will be delayed, and even games at the playground on weekends are no more because of the need for social distancing.

Saturday will, at least for a moment, bring something to celebrate.

"I think we're all looking forward to it," Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

The other first-time finalist for Hall consideration is 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings. The other four finalists have all made it this far before, falling short of enshrinement previously: Baylor women's coach Kim Mulkey, five-time Division II coach of the year and 1,000-game winner Barbara Stevens of Bentley University, two-time AP college coach of the year Eddie Sutton and Rudy Tomjanovich, who won two NBA titles as coach of the Houston Rockets.

All of them have Hall-worthy resumes. What remains to be seen is how many of the 24 voters who will decide the class — it takes 18 votes for a finalist to become a Hall of Famer — agree.

"To be included on such a list and be considered for the Basketball Hall of Fame is an incredible honor," Stevens said.

It's also expected that the Hall is going to pay tribute in some way to former FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann, a huge figure in the international sporting world who died of a heart attack in October 2018. The induction ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts is still set to take place on Aug. 29. If the pandemic forces that to be delayed, there is an alternate plan for a ceremony to happen in October.

Colangelo said the Hall is going to take measures to ensure that all enshrinees get their deserved moment, and that the news of the year so far — such as Bryant's passing and the virus pandemic — do not overshadow anyone's accomplishments.

"We are going to do this the right way and in a very sensitive way," Colangelo said. "We want everyone to get their due respect."

Add these ingredients when cooking your frozen Chickenjoy to get that crunch

SINCE the enhanced community quarantine started, food establishments like Jollibee started offering ready-to-cook food items so that we can still enjoy our favorites while at home.

There are a number of Jollibee ready-to-cook items in select Jollibee branches, but they specifically rolled out packs of frozen Chickenjoy to a number of supermarkets like Robinsons Supermarket, Rustans Marketplace, S&R Membership Shopping, and SM Supermarket.

You might be surprised that what they're actually offering are marinated frozen chicken cut-ups without packs of breading. If you cook it as is, you won't be able to achieve the crispy, crunchy chicken skin we always look for when eating Chickenjoy. Don't worry, there's an easy fix to that, that only includes two pantry staples: flour and egg. Follow these simple steps for crunchy homemade Chickenjoy:

  1. Thaw the frozen chicken.
  2. Dip in beaten egg.
  3. Coat with seasoned flour. Seasoned flour can be achieved by mixing regular flour, salt, and pepper.
  4. Deep fry in hot oil.
  5. Double-fry (optional). This method is a sure way to make your chicken extra, extra crunchy!

If you don't have the spicy marinated Chickenjoy, you can still make the chicken spicy by adding cayenne to the flour or you can also add hot sauce to the beaten eggs. But in true Jollibee-style, you can just sprinkle chili powder over the fried chicken for that much-needed extra heat.

Before we forget, this is, of course, best served with steamed white rice!

Even if it's pre-taped, WrestleMania 36 is still shaping up to be a good one

WEIRD times, indeed: the biggest event in sports entertainment of the year will be held behind closed doors.

But it's going to be a welcome respite for wrestling fans as this year's WrestleMania finally comes this weekend.

This one truly lived up to the disclaimer of "card subject to change" as the global COVID-19 pandemic forced WWE's hands to make necessary changes — some even up to the last minute.

Originally slated at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, WrestleMania 36 has been relocated to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando and, for the first time, has been divided into two nights, on Sunday and Monday at 7 a.m. (Manila time) and can be seen on the WWE Network and on pay-per-view.

It's still isn't the same, though, without the fans, which leads to many speculating that this might also be one of the worst WrestleManias in history.

Also, reports say that WrestleMania was already pre-taped in late March due to the City of Orlando prohibiting indoor gatherings in the light of the health crisis.

So far, no spoilers of the results has been leaked out (and it better stay that way), at least as of posting time.

Despite those concerns, there's a high chance that this WrestleMania could surprise us.

They could take full advantage of some post-production editing — a luxury WWE normally does not have when it stages live events.

That's none more evident than in the Boneyard match between The Undertaker and AJ Styles and the Firefly Fun House match of John Cena and "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt. These two gimmick matches have been reportedly taped outside of the normal wrestling ring, adding further intrigue to the matches.

The Boneyard match is rumored to be a variation of the good old Buried Alive match and was held in a closed compound made to look like a cemetery. The Undertaker may be far from his heyday at age 55, but this set-up could only work in his favor, especially as he faces off against an opponent as good as Styles. The same can be said for Wyatt, whose kooky character "The Fiend" can benefit from post-production editing while also showing his mettle in this duel against Cena, a rematch of their WrestleMania XXX clash six years ago.

The unusual situation might also lead to star-making performances, with the fans' eyes glued to what's happening in the ring. Drew McIntyre was on the cusp of superstardom after being released in 2014, but returned to the company three years later, and won the Men's Royal Rumble in January. Now, he's set for the match of his life as he challenges Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship.

Same goes for Braun Strowman, who is the last minute replacement for Roman Reigns. Reigns requested to be removed from the match, as he was already immunocompromised (after previous struggles with leukemia) that puts him at an increased risk for COVID-19. As Reign's sub, "The Monster Among Men" can finally achieve his moment of glory as he tries to take the Universal Championship from Goldberg. NXT Women's Champion Rhea Ripley could also present herself as the top woman in the company as she defends her throne against Women's Royal Rumble winner and 10-time champion Charlotte Flair.

Former UFC fighter Shayna Baszler can also show that she can hang tough with the best the company has to offer when she challenges Becky Lynch for the Raw Women's Championship.

Also, count the collision between Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn and challenger Daniel Bryan as our bet for this year's show stealer, with two of the best workers in the WWE today poised to put on a technical wrestling clinic.

Physical distancing reminders may have robbed fans from seeing the traditional batte royals held in the past WrestleManias, but the triple threat ladder match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships between the defending titlists The Miz and John Morrison and challengers The Usos and Kofi Kingston and Big E of The New Day is the prime candidate to fill those cravings. But really, there's nothing that could rival the storytelling that the WWE has done for Edge, who is returning from a nine-year retirement after a neck injury. He takes on his former tag team partner Randy Orton in a Last Man Standing match after three months of buildup, with the match about to hit the emotional crescendo no less than at the Grandest Stage of Them All.

It's still a bummer that there won't be anyone in attendance for this year's WrestleMania, but as low expectations are, more often than not, those only lead to high hopes.

And that only makes us more excited for this weekend.

Apple Acquires Voysis To Improve Capabilities Of Siri

APPLE ACQUIRES VOYSIS – As time progressed, so did technology and the rise of virtual assistants.

With just a simple voice command, you could make calls, search for items, or buy products from the internet. This is where Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant thrived. However, Apple seemed to have lagged behind its competitors in terms of Siri’s natural language comprehension. But, with the new acquisition of Voysis, Apple might make up some ground. Voysis is an artificial intelligence (AI) startup which focuses on creating a platform to provide business with improved AI services. As such, the startup stated they didn’t want to compete with the likes of Google and Amazon, rather, provide services to other businesses.Based on an article from 9to5Mac, Voysis taps into Wavenets. This is an AI-based method for producing human-like computer speech. Furthermore, the technology was first introduced by Google’s DeepMind in 2016.

The astonishing part of Voysis’ history is that they managed to fit the entirety of the system into 25 megabytes after the AI was trained. This made the software much easier to run on mobile devices even without an internet connection. Meanwhile, with the release of Apple’s new iPhone 9 this April, along with their plans to get into the car service industry, an upgrade to Siri would be a welcome sight.

Wansoy – Famous Herb In The Philippines

WANSOY – The Philippines is home to a variety of herbs and spices that had brought flavor to the culinary culture of the country.

Today, we’re going to talk about “Wansoy” or “Coriander” in English. It’s scientific name is “Coriandrum sativum“. Meanwhile, in old cook books, the word is spelled as “Huansoy” which is also derived from Chinese origins. Here in the Philippines, people are often confused about Huansoy, kinchay, and parsely, because they look very similar. Like most herbs, the Huansoy has a lot of health benefits as well. According to an article from Wondermomblog, the herb has natural antiseptics that kills bacteria while detoxifying. As such, it is highly effective against fungi, dry skin, and eczema. Additionally, it could also improve blood pressure to help with hypertension.

Moreover, it could also be used as a relief when experiencing diarrhea. The herb contains born borneol and linalool that helps burn impurities in the intestines resulting in a better flow. Its seeds could also be used as a relief against mouth ulcers as it contains citronella that has antimicrobial properties. You could make use of its seeds by taking 2 spoonfuls of seeds, crush them, and boil them in a liter of water.

Afterward, this could be used as a mouthwash 3-4 times daily. The herb could also easily be used as a detoxifying agent by making it into a sort of tea-like drink.

Apple's iPhone 12 might be 'months' late

Apple is preparing for the possibility of launching its next iPhone, likely dubbed the iPhone 12, much later than anticipated.

According to a report by Nikkei, citing sources familiar with the matter, the company has internally discussed delaying the launch by "months."

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has strained Apple's supply chain, but Apple is considering the delay for other reasons, too. One of Nikkei's sources said that Apple's not keen to risk a potential "tame reception" of what would be the company's first 5G iPhone.

Many Apple employees currently work from home due to shelter-in-place orders, which also may affect Apple's plans. Nikkei's sources say Apple might reconsider the iPhone 12 launch timing once those orders are lifted, with the final decision coming around May.

The discussions are in an early stage, sources say, and it's still possible that the phone launches in the fall. But it's also possible that the launch is delayed into next year.

Apple typically launches new iPhones in September, which boosts sales in the holiday quarter, and the company surely won't change the iPhone's launch date lightly. As Nikkei notes, this would hurt not only Apple's revenue, but also millions of jobs in Apple's supply chain. But the worsening coronavirus outbreak is an unprecedented situation, and suddenly the impossible seems possible. Apple declined Nikkei's request to comment. It's worth noting that Apple just recently launched a slew of new products, including the new iPad Pro and MacBook Air, without an event of any kind (Apple does a few of these event-less product launches every year). On the other hand, the company was widely rumored to be launching an affordable iPhone towards the end of March, and that event is now almost certainly off the table. Finally, the company's WWDC conference has been turned into a digital-only event.

COVID-19 – the disease caused by coronavirus – has so far killed more than 18,500 and infected more than 416,000 people. The outbreak has been worsening in the U.S. in recent weeks, with more than 65,200 confirmed cases and 928 deaths.

Apple buys Dark Sky, leaving Android users out in the rain

The forecast is dreary for Dark Sky on Android. The popular weather app announced Tuesday that it had been acquired by Apple, making it the latest company to come under the umbrella of the tech giant.

"Our goal has always been to provide the world with the best weather information possible, to help as many people as we can stay dry and safe, and to do so in a way that respects your privacy," Dark Sky's blog post reads. "There is no better place to accomplish these goals than at Apple. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to reach far more people, with far more impact, than we ever could alone."

While this is just another sunny day in the world of Silicon Valley mergers and acquisitions, it's sad news for Dark Sky Android users. The blog post informs iOS users that there "will be no changes to Dark Sky for iOS at this time." But for Dark Sky on Android, the sun has set.

"The app will no longer be available for download," the post reads. "Service to existing users and subscribers will continue until July 1, 2020, at which point the app will be shut down. Subscribers who are still active at that time will receive a refund."

Dark Sky is a beloved weather app because of its clean interface and detailed weather information (especially in comparison to Apple's Weather app). Moving to Apple's walled garden has prompted a downpour of sadness on social media.

Dark Sky will also be transitioning to shutting off its API by 2021, meaning the services and websites that pull in Dark Sky data may face a torrent of technical issues.

Apple's Weather app could get a lot smarter. But for Android users, it's dark skies ahead.

Fitbit unveils the Charge 4, its first fitness tracker with built-in GPS

If you're in the market for a new fitness tracker, especially since gyms have shutdown due to the coronavirus, Fitbit's new Charge 4 might be of interest.

Its design isn't revolutionary compared to its predecessor, the Charge 3. In fact, I probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference if you placed both of them right next to each other. It has a touchscreen display, inductive button for navigation (rather than a traditional button, this one dips into the side of the tracker and vibrates when triggered), and a sleek swim-proof case.

But the major improvements are under the hood.

For starters, Fitbit has finally added built-in GPS to its fitness trackers — a feature that was previously reserved for its pricier, more feature-packed smartwatches. Another new addition is its Spotify integration, which lets you control music right from the device.

Fitbit also added Active Zone Minutes, an entirely new metric which tracks your effort throughout each workout based on your heart rate zones.

For those of you concerned with battery life, the Charge 4 still boasts a week's worth of juice. But of course, that's all dependent on how much you use it.

Currently on pre-order for US$149.95, the new addition to the Charge lineup officially goes on sale starting April 13. Unlike its predecessors which require tethering to a phone's GPS in order to log metrics, the Charge 4 relies on built-in GPS. Effectively, it means the tracker is likely to log your distance a lot more accurately.

No more tethering to your phone, sort of 

After using GPS to track a workout, you can sync the Charge 4 to your Fitbit app to view a heat map. This provides you with a visual of how intense your workout was based on your heart rate zones (i.e., fat burn, cardio and peak) along your route. That way, you can identify where to improve performance based on different terrain.

Unfortunately, the tracker doesn't come with on-board music storage. So, if music is essential to your outdoor runs or bike rides, then you'll still have to take your phone with you. That said, the device does come equipped with Spotify music controls. Using the Charge 4, you can skip or shuffle songs, select music from recent playlists, and "like" songs right from the display. But, again, that's only as long as your phone is nearby and tethered.

I know what you're thinking: All of this sounds like it drains the battery fast. But the Charge 4 lives up to Fitbit's reputation for lasting battery life with a rating of up to seven days on a single charge. With GPS always-on (for instances where you're going on a hike or a long run), however, you'll only get about five hours.

A new way to measure your workouts

To help get your blood pumpin' a little more during exercise, Fitbit has introduced a new feature called Active Zone Minutes.

Essentially, it uses your heart rate zones to track your effort during energizing workouts like HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or even Zumba. You'll earn credit for each minute of moderate activity that you're in the fat burn zone and double the credit for activities where you're in the cardio and peak zones.

Each time you switch zones, the Charge 4 will alert you in real time so that you can decide whether you want to push yourself harder or slow it down a bit. After each workout, you'll be able to see a summary of your Active Zone Minutes along with how many you need to reach your specific goals per week.

Of course, since everyone's threshold for entering these zones varies, your heart rate zones are determined based on your age and resting heart rate. As your resting heart rate changes, your target zones will automatically adjust to help you better understand how your body is responding to your workouts.

By default, the daily goal on the Charge 4 is set to 22 moderate minutes or 11 vigorous minutes per day. But you can customize the metrics if you'd like to push yourself a bit harder or even a little less.

Fitbit's recommendations are specifically based on guidelines from the World Health Organization and the American Heart Association, which both advise getting 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.

It's a similar concept to Google Fit, which uses "Move Minutes" and "Heart Points" to track activity. While Move Minutes are earned for steps, Heart Points are awarded whenever you participate in strenuous activity.

Fitbit says Active Zone Minutes will first roll out to the Charge 4 before eventually reaching all of its smartwatches.

Additional features

Like the Charge 3, the Charge 4 features an SpO2 sensor to measure your oxygen levels throughout the night. This helps to identify patterns in your breathing that may indicate disorders like sleep apnea.

You can also track your sleep stages such as light, deep, and REM sleep. Each morning, these metrics will be used to provide you with a Sleep Score to see how well you slept throughout the night.

Other sleep specific features include Smart Wake, which uses machine learning to wake you at the most optimal time of your sleep cycle, and Sleep Mode to silence notifications and dim the display at night.

Additionally, the Charge 4 comes with smartphone notifications. So, any alerts you receive on your phone, you'll also receive on the tracker.

It also has Fitbit Pay, so you can pay directly with the tracker wherever the contactless form of payment is accepted.

As for its companion app, Fitbit has added seven new programs to the Premium version including beginner bodyweight, intro to HIIT, mindful eating, intro to gym cardio, and more. You'll also soon be able to stream video workouts to help achieve those Active Zones.

While Fitbit Premium normally costs US$9.99 per month (or US$79.99 per year), the company is currently offering users a 90-day free trial.

You know, to help get us through these days of self-isolation in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Price and availability

As mentioned before, Fitbit's Charge 4 will set you back US$149.95. In terms of color options, it comes in black, rosewood, and storm blue/black.

There's also a Special Edition model, which costs US$169.95 and comes with a granite reflective case, black woven band, and a classic black band.

You can pre-order the Charge 4 now on Fitbit's site, Amazon, Walmart, or Best Buy. Both versions will be available in stores starting April 13, but of course, that all depends on which stores, due to social distancing efforts, will actually be open by that time.

Moto G Power, with massive battery for only US$249, is available for preorder

Motorola made two affordable phones available for pre-order today: The Moto G Power and the Moto G Stylus.

Both are fairly classic entry-level devices with 6.4-inch LCD displays, 4GB of RAM, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 chipset.

The main difference between the two is that the Power focuses on battery life, as it has a massive, 5,000mAh battery. The Stylus only has a 4,000mAh battery, but it does come with a Stylus, and more memory: 128 vs. 64GB (both phones' memory can be expanded via microSD cards).

The Moto G Stylus also has a more powerful camera system, with a triple, 48/16/2-megapixel rear camera and a 16-megapixel, hole-punch selfie camera. The Moto G Power has a triple, 16/8/2-megapixel camera on the back, and a 16-megapixel selfie camera on the front. I especially like the fact that both phones have a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is something that most flagships these days don't have, even those who come at US$1,000+ prices. Finally, both the Moto G Power and the Moto G Stylus run Android 10.

Those specs are pretty decent for the price, which is US$249.99 for the G Power and US$299.99 for the G Stylus. The G Power comes in Smoke Black, while the G Stylus only comes in Mystic Indigo. The phones will become available on April 16 at a variety of retailers and carriers, such as Best Buy, Amazon, Verizon, Metro by T-Mobile, and Google Fi.

Apple's iPhone SE successor will, apparently, be called iPhone SE

Apple's affordable new iPhone and the spiritual successor to the original iPhone SE from 2016, long-rumored to be called iPhone SE 2 or iPhone 9, will likely just be called "iPhone SE."

This is according to an updated listing for a Belkin screen protector, still live on Apple's website at writing time, which mentions the name "iPhone SE." This isn't particularly odd for Apple; in fact, the company often keeps the same name for lower-cost, non-flagship devices in its lineup, as it did with its most affordable iPad.

The listing on Apple's site, together with a recent report that a Best Buy tipster has seen a case for a new, 4.7-inch iPhone, indicate that the new iPhone SE will launch very soon, possibly today.

On Thursday, 9to5Mac revealed some of the specs for the new device, citing a knowledgeable, anonymous tipster. According to the outlet it will be available with three memory storage options: 64, 128 or 256GB. It will come in three colors – white, black and red – and five different cases will be available at launch.

Previous reports indicated that the device will look very similar to the iPhone 8 (which is now further confirmed by the Belkin listing, which lists the same protector for iPhone 7/8/SE), with a price that starts at US$399. The processor is also likely to be updated to Apple's A13 chip.