Movie review: Mediocre ‘Nut Job 2’ has some radical themes

Nut Job

You never know where you’re going to find the most radical ideas. Somehow, a sub-par animated film sequel intended to quiet the kids for a few hours on a weekend afternoon burns with a proletarian rage. You’d never expect that from “The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature,” but somehow, it’s true.

First, a warning about truth (or lack thereof) in advertising. In “The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature,” there is no job that involves nuts, as promised by the title. The first “Nut Job” may have involved a nut heist, and the city-dwelling rodents around whom the story revolves may indeed be described as “nutty by nature,” in reference to their predilection for the crunchy, protein-packed treats, but most of the nut-related content of this film falls only in the first few minutes. These moments are a celebration of the nut-based life, as Surly the Squirrel (Will Arnett) and his rodent pals enjoy a Dionysian feast of nuts, seeds and legumes in the basement of a closed nut shop.

This plentiful abundance of free food, however, is all too easy, and soon, the entire shop has been blown to smithereens, the result of an errant boiler valve. At any rate, the moral of “The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature” is that there is very little value in “easy” — no hard work, no character building, no wild animal instincts. This is the ethos espoused by the finger-wagging nag of a squirrel Andie (Katherine Heigl), who is opposed to Surly’s grifter tendencies. So in the wake of the nut shop explosion, it’s back to the scrounge ‘n’ gather way of life for Surly and Pals, if that way of life even exists anymore.

“The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature,” directed and co-written by Cal Brunker, is a searing indictment of capitalistic government corruption, embodied by the cravenly criminal Mayor of Oakton City (Bobby Moynihan). In seeking to wring every drop of profit from his province, he destroys and develops the city park where these rodents enjoy a collective lifestyle in order to build an amusement park, Liberty Land, a monument to crass consumerism and cutting corners. When the rodents resist against this development, the Mayor unleashes exterminators to violently suppress the uprising.

That’s not the only revolutionary element of the film. Just wait until you see the army of kung-fu-trained Chinese mice, led by the furry, ferocious Mr. Feng (Jackie Chan), who join the rodent insurgents in their rebellion against their greedy human oppressors. They, too, have been driven from their park, now a golf course. The most terrifyingly sadistic villain happens to be Heather (Isabela Moner), the Mayor’s daughter, a fiery-haired bourgeois demon in a small child’s body; a Veruca Salt with a tranquilizer dart gun.

This is a film of excesses and extremes. From the orgiastic festival of nuts that the film opens with, to the violent mayhem that it descends into, “Nutty by Nature” is a relentless melee. It’s a tornado of whirling dervish rodents battling ham-fisted humans over the sanctity of their land, which has been turned from a verdant paradise into a dark and hellish landscape of repurposed goods and shoddy craftsmanship, intended to drop every excess dollar in the Mayor’s pocket. It’s an unexpectedly radical, if otherwise rather rote, animated sequel.


partypoker Reveals New Lobby and Table Themes

partypoker seems to continually be in the headlines of late — and for all the correct reasons. From assembling a roster of professional poker players and celebrities, to the launch of its partypoker LIVE tour, there is a lot to smile about at partypoker HQ.

The general consensus is that partypoker, which launched in 2001, is making all of the right noises in its attempt to improve the experience for its players whether they are playing online or in the live arena.

partypoker Reveals New Lobby and Table Themes 101

On Aug. 8, partypoker launched the first phase of its software upgrade, which was met with dozens of positive comments on the site’s social media channels. Upon opening the partypoker client, players alerted to the fact there is an update taking place, and a few moments later the new, improved lobby is revealed.

The new darker theme has been designed to help it be easier on the eyes for all players, but especially those who prefer to play longer sessions on their computers and mobile devices. In addition to looking more modern and sleek, some of the changes implemented during Phase 1 included:

  • Improved game navigation
  • Collapsible filter to allow more space to view game choice
  • New darker lobby and table theme
  • Updated Sit & Go Hero lobby to differentiate between three and four-handed games
  • Removal of the one-click lobby as almost all players prefer the traditional view

Phase 2 of the upgrade is scheduled to launch during the next quarter of the year, so should hit the screens of partypoker’s players before the curtain comes down on 2017. Several improvements are in the pipeline and include:

  • Ability to view the lobby in full screen
  • Further filter, display, game and tournament information improvements
  • Enhanced tournament lobby displays
  • Better table look and feel and more customization options
partypoker Reveals New Lobby and Table Themes 102

partypoker ambassador Patrick Leonard, who has been instrumental in some of the positive changes to the tournament schedule and structure, believes partypoker will become a ‘dream poker room’ once the upgrades are completed.

Speaking to the partypoker blog, Leonard said: “The upcoming software release is another step in the direction of getting our ‘dream poker room.’ We see an improvement to the lobby and to the table as well as lots of small tweaks all around the client. I tested the software with a dozen or so guys and the feedback was all extremely positive. We’ve given extra feedback about how to further improve the software and from now till the end of the year you should see additional impressive improvements to the overall software.”

Tom Waters, the managing director of partypoker who is overseeing the transformation of the former world number one poker site, said: “We acknowledge that our poker product needed some love. We have been working on this project for a number of months with the support of a large group of players. We have been testing the phase 1 release over the past couple of weeks and the feedback from the players has been extremely encouraging. There are many more enhancements in the pipeline and I am confident that by the end of 2017 our players will be delighted with the improved look and feel and the usability of the software.”

You can take the new partypoker software for a test drive by firing up your account if you already have one. If you do not have a partypoker account and want to see what all of the fuss is about, download partypoker via PokerNews, enter the bonus code “PNCOM” when making your first deposit and partypoker will match your initial deposit 100 percent up to a maximum of $500.

Be sure to complete your PokerNews experience by checking out an overview of our mobile and tablet apps here. Stay on top of the poker world from your phone with our mobile iOS and Android app, or fire up our iPad app on your tablet. You can also update your own chip counts from poker tournaments around the world with MyStack on both Android and iOS.


RPT-GRAPHIC-Take Five: World markets themes for the week ahead

Image result for RPT-GRAPHIC-Take Five: World markets themes for the week ahead

(Repeats Friday item without changes)

LONDON, Aug 4 (Reuters) – Following are five big themes likely to dominate thinking of investors and traders in the coming week and the Reuters stories related to them.


With the Dow Jones Industrial Average touching 22,000 in the past week, some investors and traders are bracing for a rocky second half of 2017. The August through October time frame is the only three-month period to have a negative average return going back to 1928, according to Bank of America/Merrill Lynch. Some U.S. stock market internal measures are showing signs of rally fatigue, as the number of new stocks striking 52-week lows on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq has risen for seven straight days while the number marking fresh highs has declined in five of the past seven sessions. While new highs still outnumber new lows, they do so by the slimmest margin in about a month and stand at roughly a quarter of the 200-day moving average difference between the two. A similar dynamic is evident in the recent shift in the number of stocks advancing versus those declining on a daily basis. After a long period when gainers broadly outnumbered decliners, the table has turned in the last two weeks. On average over the past 10 days, the number of stocks falling has outnumbered those rising by the widest margin in four months.

* Dow pole vaults 22,000 but beware the landing

* BREAKINGVIEWS-Earnings power gives U.S. market rally new impulse


Not so long ago, some investors were worried that a strengthening dollar, as the U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates, would drive the long rally in global stocks into the sand. In fact an 8-percent fall since May in the greenback against a basket of other currencies has coincided with ever more record highs in MSCI’s All-Country World stocks index. While the fall in the dollar index also happened alongside a reduction in expectations of more Fed rate hikes, many analysts say the dollar weakness does not reflect concerns over the U.S. economy or over the uncertainty emanating from President Donald Trump’s White House. Instead, it reflects the relatively loose monetary conditions and confidence to invest in higher-yielding assets that could see the “risk-on” stocks rally maintained for a while yet.

* INVESTMENT FOCUS-Weak dollar a green light for the global stocks rally

* COLUMN-Raise rates? Inflation shows central banks should be keeping it easy


Even as Asian main stock markets bask in the glow of improving earnings estimates and scale new peaks, the region’s small-cap markets have been sold off in quick succession. This week, it was Japan’s Mothers start-up market sinking to fresh lows and marking a loss of almost 10 percent from a one-year peak hit in June. Hong Kong’s small-cap Growth Enterprise Market has been under pressure for weeks and China’s tech-heavy start-up board index ChiNext has likewise been sliding on worries about growth prospects and valuations of technology firms. The broader stock markets have so far not seen a spillover, and MSCI’s Asia index has been on a sustained uptrend. These markets have been fairly correlated with Nasdaq in the past. If global stock markets succumb, earnings growth and rising currencies may not insulate Asian stock markets. Researchers at MSCI point out that the first signs of stress in U.S. mortgage markets in 2007 triggered liquidity needs in multi-strategy funds which then were forced to unwind equity positions. The first to feel the hit were small-caps.

* Japan’s start-up stock market plunge could pressure small-caps —

* Small cap plunge drags China stocks lower despite strong GDP growth —


Inflows this year into tech stocks globally are running second only to the rush into EM debt, according to data from EPFR and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Surprisingly strong quarterly results from Apple and hopes of a blockbuster launch of the 10th anniversary iteration of the game-changing iPhone lifted its shares to a record high. The tech behemoth is now worth more than $800 billion and potentially on its way to becoming the world’s first $1 trillion company. In Asia, the tech sector, led by Samsung Electronics, is at the forefront of earnings upgrades. That, along with the sweet spot that tech is in as a beneficiary of low rates, global growth and disruption underway across industries from retail to banking, has ensured that tech stocks are the best performers by some distance across each of the world’s major market regions and the gap with sectors such as energy is particularly wide. Slowing inflows into the sector over the past week, as BofA-ML points out, could be the first signs that investors are keen on banking some profits.

* Apple shares sail to record high on healthy iPhone sales

* Investors dump healthcare stocks, appetite for tech fades


With South African President Jacob Zuma facing the ninth no-confidence motion of his career on Aug. 8, the rand and other markets are remarkably resilient, with the currency near three-week highs against the dollar and local rand-denominated stocks at record highs. Five-year CDS near 2-1/2-year lows, according to IHS Markit. If passed, the motion would require the cabinet to step down along with Zuma. While Zuma is unpopular with investors and citizens alike, it would add political turmoil to the mix for South Africa, which is in recession and has suffered a ratings downgrade to junk and seen joblessness soar to 14-year highs. One reason for market calm is that the dollar is at 16-month lows – a plus for the deficit-ridden South African economy – and second, the scandal-prone leader is likely to survive the vote as usual. There is potential for a surprise with the parliament speaker allowed to decide if the motion can be held under a secret ballot. The motion needs a simple majority to pass but this would still be unlikely, given it would need a fifth of the ruling ANC Party’s MPs to vote against Zuma, said John Ashbourne of Capital Economics.

* ANC MPs would have to be “bewitched” to vote out Zuma – chief whip

* GRAPHIC-Fragile no more: emerging market funding gaps shrink from 2013


‘Drawing from Words:’ Simple images express complex themes


The Stable Art Gallery will host the exhibit, “Drawing from Words: Editorial Illustrations of Drew Martin,” through the end of August.

The exhibit features pieces that Martin created to coincide with articles that ran in Logos, a journal covering modern society and culture. Martin has contributed to the journal for more than 10 years. “It’s an exhibit of simple drawings trying to explain complicated ideas,” he said. “Even when the themes seem quite clear, the articles behind them are often layered and detailed in a very thoughtful way.”

Although Martin’s visual style may appear simple, his illustrations aren’t designed to be purely superficial. “The ideas are usually more developed than the drawings,” Martin said. “This is actually hard to live with because what you’re usually left with over time is just the quality of the drawing.”

Martin also doesn’t settle for easy answers when conceptualizing his drawings. “I’m not easily baited by the first set of obvious ideas that flash across my mind,” he said. “I explore an idea a little deeper and look at it from different angles, bringing my life experiences, knowledge and whole being into it.”

Illustrations are just one facet of Martin’s artistic portfolio, which also includes sculpture, painting, photography and video. He said, “This is a narrow sliver of what I do, but I want to dwell on that here because I think it’s a really interesting use of drawing.” Martin added that he hopes viewers find the exhibit thought-provoking.

Drawing has appealed to Martin since childhood and he’s since developed it as a way to share his thoughts with others. “It became a special way for me to communicate with others,” he said. “The fact that my name is Drew didn’t hurt.”


With ‘The Dark Tower’ and ‘It’ in theaters, Stephen King’s family themes hit mainstream America

Ilze Kitshoff, Sony Pictures

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Idris Elba, left, and Matthew McConaughey in the Columbia Pictures film, The Dark Tower.” (Ilze Kitshoff/Columbia Pictures/Sony via AP)

Stephen King is a writer who opens doors to a number of worlds. And this fall, he’s inviting moviegoers nationwide inside some of his most famous works.

On Friday, one of King’s earliest works, “The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” will be adapted for film as “The Dark Tower” and in September moviegoers will get a new — and if the trailers are to be believed — terrifying version of his 1986 novel “It”.

Based on the first book in The Dark Tower series, the film “The Dark Tower” will tell the story of Roland (Idris Elba), a gunslinger who lives in a fantastical world that runs parallel to our own. As a peacekeeper of that world, Roland’s only goal is to protect the dark tower — a literal tower that keeps all worlds, including our own, alive and well — from falling due to the hands of the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey).

Actors Idris Elba, left, and Matthew McConaughey participate in “The Dark Tower” cast photo call at The Whitby Hotel on Sunday, July 30, 2017, in New York | Evan Agostini, Invision, Associated Press

Aiding Roland in his quest is a young boy named Jake (Tom Taylor), who hails from our world (New York City, specifically). Roland and Jake develop a bond that lingers close to the line of father and son.

In King’s Dark Tower series, which includes seven books and one novella, Jake and Roland’s relationship grows into a father-son relationship, with the boy going as far as to call Roland his father toward the end of the saga.

This short thread of a story reveals something consistent throughout King’s tales. No matter how dark, twisted or malevolent, at their core, his stories are often family, even love, centered. Take any King tale written or adapted for television, movie or miniseries, and viewers will see familial themes shining throughout.

While it’s true that King’s tales often contain overly sexual content with plenty of irreverence and violence, they still highlight the idea that family can help people through anything.

Take a look King’s famous story “It,” which opens in theaters Sept. 8. Most people know the general idea of this tale: a demon clown terrorizing a group of youngsters who are working their way through adolescence.

The book’s characters go through a number of experiences that define modern boyhood — winning the heart of the prettiest girl in school, facing the bully and his cronies and seeking out mystery on a boring summer evening. And while King knew childhood from his growing up years, he was a father by the time he wrote “It,” and the book is peppered with parental guidance.

One prime example comes from Edward “Eddie” Kaspbrak, a boy with asthma problems and a loving — perhaps too loving — mother. As the story progresses, readers learn that her love has led her to do dark things, but while her actions are extreme, it is clear that she is a parent trying her best to protect her son.

Horror author Stephen King sits atop the television set in his Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel room, July 26, 1986. Not content with producing one chilling hit novel after another, King has directed his first movie, “Maximum Overdrive.” | Michael Tweed, Associated Press

Love — in all its forms — is a theme that crops up again and again in King’s novels. In “Christine,” the story of a demonized 1958 Plymouth, nerd Arnie Cunningham grew more handsome the more times he spent with the possessed car. His best friend tried to save Arnie as did his parents, who constantly argued with their teenage boy over his obsession with the car. Arnie saw his parents as overbearing, but it was their love that kept them working to save their increasingly disturbed son.

These themes of love and family appear in King’s shorter works as well. His novella “The Mist,” which was previously adapted for film but more recently became a TV show for Spike TV, tells of a father, David, who got caught inside a grocery store with his son, Billy, as a supernatural mist overtook their town. It becomes up to the father and son to work together to save themselves and their neighbors. The movie’s dark ending forces readers to look at what sacrifices they would make for love, family and survival, highlighting once more King’s fascination with family.

From his newer work to the older pieces, King’s reliance on family continues to present itself. Not all tales are focused on family, but many have familial themes sprinkled throughout and many touch on the idea of what it means to be a family.

To understand why these themes are important to the author, it may be helpful to look at King himself. The New York Times profiled the best-selling author back in 2013, highlighting what they called King’s “family business.”

King, a modest man with his mind stuck on Halloween, has a family full of writers. His son Joe, who changed his name to Joe Hill, and Owen, who stuck with Owen King, both write successfully. His wife Tabitha is also a writer. His daughter, Naomi, is a minister, but she too has writing experience.

In fact, King often had his family help him with his writing and reading, teaching them storytelling in multiple ways.

Author Stephen King hugs his son, Owen, at Book Expo America, Thursday, June 1, 2017, in New York. The pair have co-written a novel, Sleeping Beauties, to be published in September. | Mark Lennihan, Associated Press

“If reading was a common escape in the King household, it was nonetheless deeply social,” The New York Times reported. “They read on tape, but they also took turns reading aloud after dinner, passing around ‘The Hobbit’ or the Narnia chronicles. It followed that writing came to feel like something they all could share as well. Stephen and Tabitha did not take themselves off to quiet sheds or off-site offices to write; they wrote in their home, upstairs, as their kids, below, wondered what words were being put on the page and played elaborate role-playing games of their own.”

That long-standing tradition morphed into something greater. Hill and Owen King often write books alongside their more famous father. Interested readers can find all of their books at Barnes and Noble or on any best-seller list.

In fact, King and Owen are releasing a new book this fall called “Sleeping Beauties.” That book, which will be released Sept. 26, takes place in small town in West Virginia where all women across the world fall asleep, leaving men to fend for themselves.

King said the experience of writing with his son was “a blessing” and a “thrill,” according to USA Today.

He even posted a Father’s Day video of him and Owen in preparation for the novel.

Family too isn’t just a theme in King’s stories — sometimes, the people themselves inspire his tales. The idea for “Sleeping Beauties” came from something his mother used to say.

“The first thing that came into my mind was something my mother used to say,” he said at a Book and Author Breakfast at the BookExpo America in June. “She raised my brother and me alone. We were latchkey kids before there were latchkey kids, back in the ‘50s. She used to say that if you go into a house and you use the bathroom and there is no ring around the toilet, there’s a woman around somewhere because men don’t do that.”

Once again, even with his latest work, like “Sleeping Beauties,” King presents the connection to family, one that weaves its way inside and outside of his stories. There’s some core element of family buried deep inside each tale. It may not always be positive, but it is there, waiting to be explored.

Moviegoers may see it this weekend with “The Dark Tower,” as Roland and his compadre, a young boy who is more or less a son, work to save this world and all worlds together.

A father and son traveling to save worlds sounds like a family story to the last.


Xiaomi previews MIUI 9 themes, features ahead of July 26 launch

MIUI 9 launch date

Xiaomi is hosting an event on July 26 where it is set to unveil a new smartphone, the Mi 5X. Alongside the Mi 5X, Xiaomi will also unveil its latest custom UI version, MIUI 9 based on Android 7.0 Nougat. Prior to the launch event, a preview of the new look and features on MIUI 9 have been revealed on its forum. The blog post has also revealed photos of the Mi 5X which are the same as the leaked ones.

To start with, three new themes including the default theme have been revealed. The home screen and lock screen are both displayed with the new themes which are called No Boundary, Color Fantasy and Cool Black. Judging by the look on the themes, there isn’t any drastic difference except for the absence of text below the dock icons at the bottom. The shortcut apps on lock screen will go through a slight change. Some commonly used shortcuts like Mi Home, Mi Remote and Torch will be accessible in one place on the lock screen.

MIUI 9 new theme

Torch can now be activated by swiping right and this feature will be beneficial for Xiaomi smartphones with front fingerprint sensor. On Xiaomi smartphones with rear fingerprint sensor, torch can be launched with long press on the Home button. The split screen feature which was introduced on Android 7.0 Nougat last year will finally arrive for Xiaomi devices with MIUI 9. Xiaomi says that the split screen feature will be available for smartphones running Android 7.0 Nougat and above. Some of the confirmed smartphones include the Mi 6, Mi MIX, Mi Note 2 and Redmi Note 4X. The recently launched Mi Max 2 already comes with the split screen feature. ALSO READ: Xiaomi Mi Max 2 Review: Large is an understatement

With the addition of new features, Xiaomi will also remove some redundant features will be removed such as Child Mode, WiWide (for China users), Contact Card and Showtime. Xiaomi will reveal more on the MIUI tomorrow at the launch event. The blog post further mentions that the first Beta ROM for MIUI 9 will be released on Friday, which the company terms as ‘Orange Friday’. It also lists out the devices which will first receive the MIUI 9 update and these include the Mi 6, Redmi Note 4, Redmi Note 4X. The second batch of devices will be the Mi 2 and Mi 2S. ALSO READ: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 explosion reportedly caught on video, company responds

Speaking about the Mi 5X, the images shared in the blog post show the same smartphone with dual rear cameras leaked in past events. While the look and design of the Mi 5X is confirmed, its specifications are speculated as of now. Details on the dual rear cameras are still scarce but it is said that one would feature a telephoto lens while the other a wide angle sensor. The Mi 5X is expected to launch with a 5.5-inch full HD display, Snapdragon 625 SoC and 4GB of RAM. The smartphone could come with 64GB of onboard storage and pack a 3,000mAh battery underneath. ALSO READ: Xiaomi Mi 5X to go on sale from August 1, pre-orders begin: Report


Themes add other elements to pool fun

Image result for Themes add other elements to pool fun

The squeals of delight emanating July 20 from the pools and slides at the Big Splash were counterbalanced by an ominous roar coming from the rear of the swim facility.

That sound was coming from Rita the Raptor, who was paying a visit courtesy of Cleveland-based Spectacular Party Entertainment as part of the facility’s Theme Thursday series.

In celebration of Dinosaur Day on July 20, youngsters were able to meet Rita, portrayed in costume with roaring sound effects by a performer with Spectacular Party Entertainment, and Trixie the Triceratops while learning about dinosaurs.

Theme Thursdays are held each week from noon to 5 p.m.

Each event includes crafts and games and a guest related to that week’s theme, said Addie Metzger, event coordinator for the Big Splash.

“We try to plan something really fun for the kids each week, and we include an educational component when we can,” Metzger said.

Previous Theme Thursdays have included Fire Safety Day, which included a visit from Jackson Township Fire Department firefighters and a fire engine; Police Day, in which Grove City Division of Police officers brought a cruiser and youngsters participated in safety-theme activities; and Pirate Day, which included a treasure hunt.

“It’s really a family-friendly program, but we draw mostly kids from about age 2 to 10,” Metzger said.

The attendance for each Theme Thursday varies and is always in competition with the pool and water slides that are the main attraction at the Big Splash, said Ian Stasko, an assistant manager at the swim facility.

A new spray pad added at the zero-depth end of the pool has been popular with youngsters, Stasko said.

The spray pad features about 30 nozzles spraying water at various heights.

“It’s been a big hit, and of course, the slides are always popular,” Stasko said.

While some youngsters approached Rita without fear at the July 20 event, others seemed a little nervous and jumped whenever the raptor roared.

Abby Grooms, 7, of Grove City admitted she was a little frightened of Rita.

Abby said she comes to the Big Splash about three times each week.

“It’s so much fun,” she said. “I like splashing in the water and going down the slide. That isn’t as scary as the dinosaur.”

Nine-year-old Donivan Mosley of Columbus also admitted he was “a little nervous” about meeting Rita.

“I like dinosaurs, so it was cool to see one up close,” Donivan said.

Presley Smith, 6, of Grove City, wasn’t phased at all by Rita, whose visit coincided with his first trip to swim facility this summer.

“I can’t wait to go down the slide,” Presley said.

The Theme Thursday program will run through Aug. 17.

Upcoming themes will include Under the Sea Day on July 27, featuring a visit at 2 p.m. by a mermaid; Bug Day on Aug. 3, with a visit at 1 p.m. by “The Bug Guy” from Bugman Education; and Throwback Thursday on Aug. 10 with games and crafts relating to a different decade each hour.

The series will wrap up with Zoo Day on Aug. 17 as animals from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium stop by at 2 p.m


Xiaomi Teases MIUI 9 Themes; Mi Mix, Mi Note 2, and Mi 5 to Receive the Update in Coming Days

Xiaomi is all set to officially release its next MIUI update, the MIUI 9, on July 26 along with the unveiling of a new smartphone called the Xiaomi Mi 5X. However, reports suggest that the Chinese smartphone maker has already started testing the Beta version of the MIUI 9 for Mi 6 and Redmi Note 4X and they will most likely be the first devices to get the much anticipated MIUI 9 platform.


Apart from the above two devices, a new Weibo leak suggests that the next batch of Xiaomi smartphones receive the MIUI 9 update include flagships like the Mi 5, Mi Mix, as well as the Mi Note 2. A previous leak had mentioned Xiaomi Mi 5s, Mi 5s Plus, Redmi 4, Mi Max 2, and Mi 4 to be a part of the second batch, however, the latest report does not mention any of these devices.

To sweeten the whole deal, Xiaomi has teased some of the features that the MIUI 9 update will bring to your phone. Starting off with the themes, the MIUI 9 will have three new themes in addition to the default one named No Boundary, Cool Black, and Color Fantasy. The one significant change you may notice in these themes is the lack of text below the app icons in the dock, giving them a neat look.

The MIUI 9 will also bring with it an improved lock screen feature with shortcuts that can be accessed by simply swiping on the screen. These revamped lock screen shortcuts include Torch, Mi Remote, Mi Home, Mi Pay, and Transport Card, to name a few.


Another highlighted feature of the MIUI 9 is the multi-window split-screen mode. However, this feature will only be accessible to Xiaomi devices that run on Android 7.0 getting the MIUI 9 update. The MIUI 9 ROM has been optimised so that you can keep tabs on its size for smart usage. The new ROM has also been improved by adding several new features to it while removing a few redundant ones.

Interestingly, the company claims that it has a few technology breakthrough features in store for the Xiaomi customers that will be unveiled on July 26. We have to simply wait for the grand launch next week to get more information.


Listen to Skyzoo’s New ‘Peddler Themes’ EP

First Generation Rich/Empire

Skyzoo pulls up with his Peddler Themes EP, a new project with eight tracks of nimble flows and deft storytelling. Check out the project for yourself below.

It’s been a decent while since the Brooklyn lyricist dropped a new project, with his latest being last September’s The Easy Truth, a joint project with Apollo Brown. If you’re an older rap head, that might not seem so long, but in today’s era of quick rollouts, it definitely counts as a sizable chunk of time. No matter, though, because Sky’s skills are as sharp as ever.

On the opening track, “Short Money,” the self-described “Jay-Z Kweli accident,” starts his lyrical clinic in earnest. Short money looked so tall when we stood up near it/Told us that we could see it louder, had to look to hear it/Looking further from what we heard of made it more apparent/Apparently hearing these was looking in mirrors,” he raps on the track.

See more of his skills at work by checking out Peddler Themes below, or copping it here. Also make sure to check out Sky and Apollo Brown’s video for “On the Stretch and Bob Show.”

Read More: Listen to Skyzoo’s New ‘Peddler Themes’ EP – XXL |


SwiftKey Update Brings Emoji Prediction, ‘Oxygen’ Themes, and More Languages

Microsoft today released an update for SwiftKey that includes a handful of new features including emoji prediction and enhancements to 3D Touch gestures.

Users who tap on the emoji key will now see a new prediction panel that automatically suggests up to 18 relevant emoji depending on what they type, saving them the trouble of searching through the entire list.

The update also includes eight new “Oxygen” themes adding up to a spectrum of vibrant colors for SwiftKey keyboards. The new hues can be found in the Design section of the app and include Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Light Blue, Blue, Purple, and Pink.

In addition, Microsoft said it had made substantial improvements to the responsiveness of 3D Touch gestures in SwiftKey on supporting iPhones, including those that trigger cursor control and cursor movement. Haptic feedback has also been implemented for some keyboard actions, such as opening the emoji panel.

Lastly, SwiftKey added support for 15 new languages including Egyptian Arabic, Tanglish, Bambara, Wolof, Mossi, Greenlandic, and Northern Sami. See here for the full list.

SwiftKey is a free download for iPhone and iPad on the App Store. [Direct Link]