Gear that improves on what was and changes what might be

Gear that improves on what was and changes what might be

Consider these new products for savvy travelers. (Handout)

hape-shifting innovations put a twist on the familiar in this gear roundup.

Picture perfect

The quality of photos from a smartphone is so good that many travelers leave their clunky camera gear at home. To give you even more photographic flexibility, Pixter has introduced a pack of four compact specialty lenses that clip onto any smartphone.

The Pixter Pro Pack includes a wide-angle lens; a 238-degree super fisheye lens; a 10X macro lens; and a telephoto lens. The lenses come in a padded travel case and have front and back lens caps.

Cost, info: Pixter Pro Pack lists for $154.90 (lenses are about $55 apiece a la carte).

Twofer toy

Pillow Pets

Taking a buddy along can make children happier and when that pal is a plush companion that morphs from a toy into a pillow, you’ll please and placate your child.

Pillow Pets are chenille-stuffed animals (also some cute cars) that widen and flatten into a pillow with the release of a cinch strap. Sizes average 12- to 16-inches-square when fully open. All are machine washable.

Pillow Pets also come as zippered sweatshirts. Bunch up the garment for a nice, fat cushion or use just the padded hood part as a pillow and wrap the rest around your child for an extra-warm hug with pockets.

Cost, info: Pillow Pets run $20 to $25; animal-head hoodies cost about $20.

This bag does tricks

Eagle Creek

Pulling a rabbit out of a hat is just a trick; pulling a backpack out of a wheel-aboard bag? That’s magic.

That’s what the wizards at Eagle Creek Luggage have conjured with the new Morphus International Wheeled Carry-On. With a quick unzip, what had been a single 20½-by-13¾-by-9-inch roller bag separates into a backpack and a wheeled bag, offering about double the space you started with.

Both are made with polyurethane-coated polyester and have top- and side-padded grab handles, double lockable zippers and reinforced seams.

The wheeled bag has thick, treaded wheels; a hinged kickstand keeps the bag upright. The soft backpack has zip-away padded interior sleeves that can accommodate a 15-inch laptop and a tablet, as a well as a nifty built-in cord winder, a key fob and padded pouches for fragile electronics.

The backpack’s two trolley straps can slide over the wheeled bag’s telescoping pull handle. Zipped back together, the bag can be wheeled, or carried using the pack’s back straps.

All this abracadabra isn’t cheap, but it’s a class act, even without the wand.

Cost, info: Morphus International Wheeled Carry-On costs $329.

A bag that suits


Is anything as yummy as curling up in your tent inside a toasty sleeping bag on a chilly night camping? Is anything as awful as having to get out of that warm sleeping bag to go out into the elements?

No problem if you have the new SelkBag Wearable Sleeping Bag, designed to keep you comfy in and out of the tent.

It looks like a giant snowsuit, but lets you be much more mobile. It has zip-off booties, big kangaroo-style pockets and flaps at the wrists that let you quickly free your hands.

It’s made of ripstop nylon and polyester with hollow fiber polyester insulation, and its insulated adjustable hood extends from a high thermal collar.

The zip-off booties let you substitute your own shoes when you are active, and the booties’ reinforced nylon soles and lateral grips for traction make them tough enough for a stroll.

The bag comes in a range of colors and patterns, including Star Wars-themed designs, in adult and children’s sizes.

One quibble: The SelkBag is not equipped with a drop seat so you must wriggle out of the bottoms when nature calls. A fix is in the works.

Cost, info: SelkBag Wearable Sleeping Bag in adult sizes costs about $170 for the Original (warmest) model; a lighter, less-insulated model costs $99. Children’s SelkBags cost $69 to $89.


Facebook Says SMS Spam Received by Two-Factor Authentication Users Was a Bug

Facebook Says SMS Spam Received by Two-Factor Authentication Users Was a Bug


  • Facebook users had been getting SMS notifications after signing up for 2F
  • Users’ responses to notifications would appear as status updates on Faceb
  • Facebook acknowledged the issue and promised a fix

Facebook users, over the past week, have reportedly been getting SMS notifications from the social media website after signing up for the two-factor authentication security feature. While the two-factor authentication is a vital part of protecting online accounts by adding a second layer of security, the text messages, interestingly, were not related to any security features. This gave rise to speculation that Facebook was trying to increase user engagement However, Facebook has now responded to the issue saying that it was a bug, and that such notifications were not meant to be sent.

While two-factor authentication is considered a vital measure of security, requiring an attacker to have both the user’s password and physical access to a registered device before being able to log into the user’s account. However, on Facebook, the system appears to have ended up being a problem for its users, thanks to SMS notifications. Interestingly, users also complained that if they replied to the SMS notifications, these would appear as status updates on Facebook.

Alex Stamos, Facebook Chief Security Officer, explains in a blog post that it was not Facebook’s intention to send non-security-related SMS notifications to phone numbers, and also apologised for the inconvenience caused to users. He wrote, “The last thing we want is for people to avoid helpful security features because they fear they will receive unrelated notifications.”

Facebook has also promised that the bug will be fixed soon. “We are working to ensure that people who sign up for two-factor authentication won’t receive non-security-related notifications from us unless they specifically choose to receive them, and the same will be true for those who signed up in the past. We expect to have the fixes in place in the coming days,” said Stamos.

Responding to why users responses to SMS notifications would appear as status updates, Facebook again said it was an unintended consequence, and was enabled by an older functionality where users could post to Facebook via text message. This functionality would soon be deprecated, Facebook said.

While you wait for Facebook to come out with a fix, you can go to Settings > Notifications to switch off text notifications. You can also use a code generator app and a U2F key instead of providing your phone numbers to Facebook when enabling 2FA.


Mark Walhberg Was Paid 1,500 Times More Than Michelle Williams To Reshoot Film

Williams earned $1,000 in total, much less than the $1.5 million that Wahlberg earned.

Michelle Williams at the Golden Globes 2018 (Image Credit: AFP)

Hollywood is voicing its outrage over reports that Mark Wahlberg was paid 1,500 times more than Michelle Williams to reshoot scenes for kidnap drama “All the Money in the World.”

Ridley Scott partially re-shot his latest movie after Kevin Spacey was fired due to sexual misconduct allegations, with both Wahlberg and Williams called back to act opposite Spacey’s replacement, Christopher Plummer.

But Williams, according to USA Today, earned a daily allowance of $80 for her work — amounting to under $1,000 in total and less than 0.07 percent of the $1.5 million that Wahlberg earned.

“Please go see Michelle’s performance in ‘All the Money in the World.’ She’s a brilliant Oscar-nominated Golden Globe-winning actress,” raged an indignant Jessica Chastain on Twitter.

“She has been in the industry for 20 years. She deserves more than one percent of her male co-star’s salary.”

Actress and activist Amber Tamblyn described the reported pay gap as “totally unacceptable” while veteran producer Judd Apatow said it was “so messed up that it is almost hard to believe.”

Golden Globe-winning actress Mia Farrow said the disparity was “outrageously unfair,” adding that she was “never, ever paid even a quarter of what the male lead received.”

Williams previously told USA Today she appreciated efforts to reshoot the film, which recounts the kidnapping of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty’s grandson, adding that “they could have my salary.”

Scott said the actors, including Williams and Wahlberg, turned up “for nothing” for the 10-day November re-shoot but USA Today reported that Wahlberg’s agency later renegotiated his “hefty fee.”

At Sunday’s Golden Globes — where “All the Money in the World” came home empty-handed despite three nominations — male and female actors wore black to highlight sexual misconduct and also to promote gender parity.

The protest was organized in part by the newly-launched Time’s Up campaign led by female stars including Williams to address gender discrimination in Hollywood and other industries.

As her date, Williams brought civil rights activist Tarana Burke, the creator in 2006 of the “Me Too” movement to raise awareness of the ubiquity of sexual abuse. The phrase was co-opted by actress Alyssa Milano last year for the #MeToo social media campaign against sexual misconduct in Hollywood.

Representatives for Wahlberg and Williams did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


Inquiry panel report that says Rohith Vemula was not Dalit ‘totally wrong’, says NCSC chief PL Punia

Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes PL Punia said the Centre’s inquiry panel’s report which concluded that Rohith Vemula did not belong to the Scheduled Caste community was “totally wrong”. He reiterated that the NCSC and the district collector had both found in separate reports that the University of Hyderabad scholar was a member of the Dalit community, not the Other Backward Class, PTI reported on Thursday.

Punia, who is an Indian National Congress leader, said on Wednesday, “The issues raised by the Congress were sidelined, and now the report is being presented that Vemula was not a Dalit.” He also alleged that the one-member panel, comprising former Allahabad High Court judge Ashok Kumar Roopanwal, was set up by the Human Resource Development Ministry to merely justify the Bharatiya Janata Party’s stand since Vemula committed suicide that he was not Dalit.

The Roopanwal Commission had also exonerated the university’s Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile and other authorities implicated in the case. Podile had come under fire after Vemula’s suicide for allegedly suspending him from the institute because of his caste. While he had taken a two-month sabbatical from the varsity following the incident, the government had earlier said he would not be transferred.

The NCSC had earlier concluded that Vemula was a Dalit and suggested that his family be granted benefits such as a house, employment and monetary assistance.