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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

USPS reportedly fixes website bug that exposed data of 60M users – CNET

All USPS.com account holders could view each other’s details, according to a Krebs report.
Source: CNET

Thanksgiving e-commerce spend to top $3.5B, mobile accounting for one-third of sales

The 2018 holiday season is predicted to be a bumper year for e-commerce, helped by economic forces like lower unemployment and underlying trends like an ever-growing proportion of shoppers opting to spend their money online, and specifically on mobile devices. Thanksgiving, a day when brick-and-mortar stores tend to be closed, is a big one for online spending, and so far it’s off to a flying start.

Adobe, which puts out real-time analytics tracking e-commerce sales, said that as of 10am  ET, $406 million had already been spent online today — growth of 23.2 percent on 2017. Adobe tracks e-commerce transactions across 80 of the top 100 US online retailers and says its analytics are based on over 1 trillion visits to retail sites and 55 million SKUs.

At this rate, Adobe said it believes that sales today will total a record $3.5 billion, versus $2.9 billion a year ago. Notably, this is revised up from figures Adobe put out earlier this month, when it projected $3.1 billion in sales today.

It’s the first day of the “big five” for holiday shopping. Figures from Internet Retailer research predict that the total amount that will be spent over the period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday will be $21.6 billion. While rising tides might lift all boats, the biggest will reap the most rewards: it estimates that Amazon will account for nearly one-third of all sales.

The overall picture, interestingly, is that e-commerce continues to account for between 10 and 20 percent of all retail sales, largely the same proportion that we’ve seen for years. In other words, while the overall pie is growing in size, the proportion of the piece for online commerce does not appear to be changing for the moment.

Figures from eMarketer put overall US holiday sales at retailers at over $1 trillion for this season, while e-commerce will be around $123 billion, or around 12 percent of all sales.

We’ll be on the lookout for some mobile stats, but so far, the prediction is that they will see their highest-ever level of activity, both for browsing and for spending. So far, smartphones have accounted for 48.4 percent of all retail site visits and 28.2 percent of sales, which outpaces on browsing but not on sales — respectively, desktop accounted for 43.4 percent of site visits, but 62.3 percent of sales (cart abandonment continues to be a big factor). Tablets in both categories hover at around eight percent.

“Black Friday” — the day after Thanksgiving — was once considered the official start of the holiday shopping season, but that start has come earlier and earlier each year, with brick-and-mortar stores kicking off their sales earlier to compete more with internet-based shopping sites.

Between November 1 and yesterday, a total of $34.3 billion has been spent online, up 17.6 percent. Notably, all 21 days in November hit more than $1 billion in sales, and two days each saw $2 billion in spend. That high spend reaches a kind of zenith in the next four days, when one out of every five dollars will be spent, working out to $23.4 billion in sales (or 19 percent of all holiday season shopping).

“Pre-Thanksgiving deals appear to have enticed consumers to spend a little earlier as we saw our second $2 billion day of the holiday shopping season. That growth is continuing in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day and we expect strong growth in sales and mobile throughout the day,” said Taylor Schreiner, director, Adobe Digital Insights.

Adobe said that this year will see an even higher total than previous years because of how the calendar works out: there will be an extra day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, working out to $284 million spent.

In terms of products that are doing well so far, Adobe notes that top toys include L.O.L. Surprise! and Hatchimals. Top electronics meanwhile are Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple iPads.

Discounts will be coming in strong through Cyber Monday, but they are already starting. Average savings, Adobe noted, include 16.3 percent for computers, 4.7 percent for TVs and 12.2 percent for toys.

I am not sure how and why retailers would coalesce around these trends, but apparently today is best for sporting goods (discounted on average by 13 percent). Black Friday is best for computers (16 percent) and tablets (33 percent). The Sunday before Cyber Monday will see the best deals for apparel (22 percent), appliances (18 percent) and jewelry (5 percent) (seems to be a “female” theme there), and the biggest discounts for toys will happen Cyber Monday (19 percent), when kids are back at school and can’t peek over their parents’ shoulders as they are snapping up stuff to put under the tree. 

We’ll keep updating this post as we get more updated figures.


Source: TechCrunch

Be a Thanksgiving security hero with these family-friendly tips

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re:

  • Pretty good at tech stuff
  • Spending time with your family for Thanksgiving
  • Bored because you’re reading this article right now

You may not celebrate Thanksgiving where you live, but most of our readers are American. So let’s use this opportunity to review the tech setup of your family. You don’t want to get a call in a few months because your aunt’s computer caught a nasty ransomware and she can’t find her photos again.

Updates

If you want to get the latest security patches for a phone or a computer, you have to turn on automatic updates. Modern devices are pretty good at enabling automatic updates by default, but make sure it’s turned on.

  • On Windows 10, search for “Windows update settings” in the search bar, click on “Advanced options” and select “Automatic”.
  • On macOS, open the App Store and install the latest version of macOS (10.14 Mojave). Then open System Preferences, click on “Software Update” and turn on automatic updates. Turn on automatic updates in the preferences of the App Store as well so that apps keep working over the years.
  • On iOS, open the Settings app, go to General > Software Update and update to iOS 12. Go to the same menu after the update and turn on automatic updates. You can also turn on automatic updates in “iTunes & App Stores” so that apps keep working over the years.
  • On Android, it’s a bit more… complicated. Manufacturers and carriers push operating system update themselves, so look for system updates in the phone settings — it may vary from one phone to another. After that, open Google Play, go to the settings and turn on automatic updates so that apps keep working over the years.

Backups

There are many ways to backup a computer and a phone, so I won’t list them all. On a computer, you can buy a cheap external hard drive and set up automatic backups using Time Machine (macOS) or File History (Windows 10).

You can also configure a cloud backup solution in case you want to make sure you can access backups and see that everything is working. Backblaze and Arq Backup are pretty good solutions.

Ideally, you should find a way so that it’s completely transparent for your family. If you tell your in-laws that they have to make a backup every week, chances are they won’t do it. Giving a hard drive is not enough.

As for phones, it’s a different story. If it’s an iPhone, turn on iCloud for contacts, calendars and other sensitive data. Most people don’t backup their phone to iCloud though because the 5GB limit is too low. You can either pay for an iCloud plan ($1 per month for 50GB) or set up a photo backup solution using an app. Dropbox, OneDrive and Google’s services offer photo backup services.

On Android, many people now use Google Photos. It’s a good way to make sure your photos are saved somewhere. Make sure that contacts, calendars and other sensitive data are also synchronized with a Google account.

Disk encryption

On a Mac, go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > FileVault and turn on disk encryption. If your sibling loses their laptop and FileVault is not enabled, anybody could get the data on that computer and use it against your sibling. It’s completely transparent once it’s set up.

On Windows, turn on BitLocker. Microsoft doesn’t include BitLocker with Windows 10 Home edition. Install VeraCrypt in that case.

Passcodes

If you see a phone without a passcode, say something. It’s important because nasty things could happen if they lose their phone. Passcodes are also tied to disk encryption and various security features.

Six digits are better than four digits, but anything is better than nothing.

Security has always been about finding the right compromise between usability and perfect protection. Those tips aren’t going to make your family members perfectly secure, but it’s a good first step. Once you’re done with that, you can put all those devices down and spend some time with your family. Enjoy!


Source: TechCrunch

Zizoo, a booking.com for boats, sails for new markets with $7.4M on board

Berlin-based Zizoo — a startup which self describes as booking.com for boats — has nabbed a €6.5 million (~$7.4M) Series A to help more millennials find holiday yachts to mess about taking selfies in.

Zizoo says its Series A — which was led by Revo Capital, with participation from new investors including Coparion, Check24 Ventures and PUSH Ventures — was “significantly oversubscribed”.

Existing investors including MairDumont Ventures, aws Founders Fund, Axel Springer Digital Ventures and Russmedia International also participated in the round.

We first came across Zizoo some three years ago when they won our pitching competition in Budapest.

We’re happy to say they’ve come a long way since, with a team that’s now 60-people strong, and business relationships with ~1,500 charter companies — serving up more than 21,000 boats for rent, across 30 countries, via a search and book platform that caters to a full range of “sailing experiences”, from experienced sailor to novice and, on the pricing front, luxury to budget.

Registered users passed the 100,000 mark this year, according to founder and CEO Anna Banicevic. She also tells us that revenue growth has been 2.5x year-on-year for the past three years.

Commenting on the Series A in a statement, Revo Capital’s managing director Cenk Bayrakdar said: “The yacht charter market is one of the most underserved verticals in the travel industry despite its huge potential. We believe in Zizoo’s successful future as a leading SaaS-enabled marketplace.”

The new funds will be put towards growing the business — including by expanding into new markets; plus product development and recruitment across the board.

Zizoo founder and CEO Anna Banicevic at its Berlin offices

“We’re looking to strengthen our presence in the US, where we’ve seen the biggest YoY growth while also expand our inventory in hot locations such as Greece, Spain and the Caribbean,” says Banicevic on market expansion. “We will also be aggressively pushing markets such as France and Spain where consumers show a growing interest in boat holidays.”

Zizoo is intending to hire 40 more employees over the course of the next year — to meet what it dubs “the booming demand for sailing experiences, especially among millennials”.

So why do millennials love boating holidays so much? Zizoo says the 20-40 age range makes up the “majority” of its customer.

Banicevic reckons the answer is they’re after a slice of ‘affordable luxury’.

“After the recent boom of the cruising industry, millennials are well familiar with the concept of holidays at sea. However, sailing holidays (yachting) are much more fitting to the millennial’s strive for independence, adventure and experiences off the beaten path,” she suggests.

“Yachting is a growing trend no longer reserved for the rich and famous — and millennials want a piece of that. On our platform, users can book a boat holiday for as low as £25 per person per night (this is an example of a sailboat in Croatia).”

On the competition front, she says the main competition is the offline sphere (“where 90% of business is conducted by a few large and many small travel agents”).

But a few rival platforms have emerged “in the last few years” — and here she reckons Zizoo has managed to outgrow the startup competition “thanks to our unique vertically integrated business model, offering suppliers a booking management system and making it easy for the user to book a boat holiday”.


Source: TechCrunch

Best Amazon Black Friday Deals (2018): Echo, Kindle, Fire HD

Kindles, Fire Tablets, Fire TVs, and Echo speakers are on sale for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Source: Wired

MQT builds classy Swiss watches for the truly debonair

Ah, wonderful to see you again, sir. The usual? Kool-Aid Grain Alcohol Martini with a twisty straw. Of course. And I see you’re wearing a new watch. The MQT Essential Mirror. Quite striking.

I see the watch has a quartz ETA movement – an acceptable movement by any standard – and a very elegant face and hands combination. What’s that? It has a quickset date? Of course, no watch over $200 would skimp on that simple complication. $251 you say? On a silver mesh band, also known as a Milanese? A relative bargain, given its pedigree.

Of course, sir. I’ve spoken with the chef and she’s preparing your Ritz crackers with Easy Cheese as we speak. Do tell me more about this watch. It seems to be one of your only redeeming features.

What was that? No, I said nothing under my breath. Do go on.

Made in Berne, Switzerland, you say, by a pair of watchmakers, Hanna and Tom Heer, who left their high-paying jobs to make watches? And their goal is not to create a beautiful quartz piece that is eminently wearable yet quite delicate? Laudable, sir, laudable. I especially like the thin 41mm case. It’s so light and airy! Not unlike your Supreme baseball cap.

No, of course sir, we still give away all the mints you can eat after the meal. If you’d like I can tie that lobster bib around your neck. There we are. Nice and snug.

And they make a marble version? Wonderful! That hearkens back to the Tissot Rock Watches of yore. A delight, truly.

You’ve got a bit of cheese in your beard. Let me get… oh. I’m sorry to say that my hand got into the way of your pendulous tongue. I’m very sorry, sir.

Well, it’s been wonderful chatting with you. I’ll leave you to your Rick and Morty comics. What’s that? Caviar in an ice cream cone? With sprinkles? Of course. I’ll see what I can do. I do commend you, sir, all things being equal, on your taste in watches.


Source: TechCrunch

Best Buy’s Black Friday deals

We’ve been hard at work assembling all the best Black Friday deals Best Buy offers in 2018 and putting them in one place to save you time and money this holiday season. From laptops to TVs, game consoles to smart speakers and much more, we’ve got the goods. Check back often for updates.

The post Best Buy’s Black Friday deals appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

Google lays outs narrow “EU election advertiser” policy ahead of 2019 vote

Google has announced its plan for combating election interference in the European Union, ahead of elections next May when up to 350 million voters across the region will vote to elect 705 Members of the European Parliament.

In a blog post laying out a narrow approach to democracy-denting disinformation, Google says it will introduce a verification system for “EU election advertisers to make sure they are who they say they are”, and require that any election ads disclose who is paying for them.

The details of the verification process are not yet clear so it’s not possible to assess how robust a check this might be.

But Facebook, which also recently announced checks on political advertisers, had to delay its UK launch of ID checks earlier this month, after the beta system was shown being embarrassingly easy to game. So just because a piece of online content has an ‘ID badge’ on it does not automatically make it bona fide.

Google’s framing of “EU election advertisers” suggests it will exclude non-EU based advertisers from running election ads, at least as it’s defining these ads. (But we’ve asked for a confirm on that.)

What’s very clear from the blog post is that the adtech giant is defining political ads as an extremely narrowly category — with only ads that explicitly mention political parties, candidates or a current officeholder falling under the scope of the policy.

Here’s how Google explains what it means by “election ads”:

“To bring people more information about the election ads they see across Google’s ad networks, we’ll require that ads that mention a political party, candidate or current officeholder make it clear to voters who’s paying for the advertising.”

So any ads still intended to influence public opinion — and thus sway potential voters — but which cite issues, rather than parties and/or politicians, will fall entirely outside the scope of its policy.

Yet of course issues are material to determining election outcomes.

Issue-based political propaganda is also — as we all know very well now — a go-to tool for the shadowy entities using Internet platforms for highly affordable, mass-scale online disinformation campaigns.

The Kremlin seized on divisive issues for much of the propaganda it deployed across social media ahead of the 2016 US presidential elections, for example.

Russia didn’t even always wrap its politically charged infowar bombs in an ad format either.

All of which means that any election ‘security’ effort that fixes on a narrow definition (like “election ads”) seems unlikely to offer much more than a micro bump in the road for anyone wanting to pay to play with democracy.

The only real fix for this problem is likely full disclosure of all advertising and advertisers; Who’s paying for every online ad, regardless of what it contains, plus a powerful interface for parsing that data mountain.

Of course neither Google nor Facebook is offering that — yet.

Because, well, this is self-regulation, ahead of election laws catching up.

What Google is offering for the forthcoming EU parliament elections is an EU-specific Election Ads Transparency Report (akin to the one it already launched for the US mid-terms) — which it says it will introduce (before the May vote) to provide a “searchable ad library to provide more information about who is purchasing election ads, whom they’re targeted to, and how much money is being spent”.

“Our goal is to make this information as accessible and useful as possible to citizens, practitioners, and researchers,” it adds.

The rest of its blog post is given over to puffing up a number of unrelated steps it says it will also take, in the name of “supporting the European Union Parliamentary Elections”, but which don’t involve Google itself having to be any more transparent about its own ad platform.

So it says it will —

  • be working with data from Election Commissions across the member states to “make authoritative electoral information available and help people find the info they need to get out and vote”
  • offering in-person security training to the most vulnerable groups, who face increased risks of phishing attacks (“We’ll be walking them through Google’s Advanced Protection Program, our strongest level of account security and Project Shield, a free service that uses Google technology to protect news sites and free expression from DDoS attacks on the web.”)
  • collaborating — via its Google News Lab entity — with news organizations across all 27 EU Member States to “support online fact checking”. (The Lab will “be offering a series of free verification workshops to point journalists to the latest tools and technology to tackle disinformation and support their coverage of the elections”)

No one’s going to turn their nose up at security training and freebie resource.

But the scale of the disinformation challenge is rather larger and more existential than a few free workshops and an anti-DDoS tool can fix.

The bulk of Google’s padding here also fits comfortably into its standard operating philosophy where the user-generated content that fuels its business is concerned; aka ‘tackle bad speech with more speech’. Crudely put: More speech, more ad revenue.

Though, as independent research has repeatedly shown, fake news flies much faster and is much, much harder to unstick than truth.

Which means fact checkers, and indeed journalists, are faced with the Sisyphean task of unpicking all the BS that Internet platforms are liberally fencing and accelerating (and monetizing as they do so).

The economic incentives inherent in the dominant adtech platform of the Internet should really be front and center when considering the modern disinformation challenge.

But of course Google and Facebook aren’t going to say that.

Meanwhile lawmakers are on the back foot. The European Commission has done something, signing tech firms up to a voluntary Code of Practice for fighting fake news — Google and Facebook among them.

Although, even in that dilute, non-legally binding document, signatories are supposed to have agreed to take action to make both political advertising and issue based advertising “more transparent”.

Yet here’s Google narrowly defining election ads in a way that lets issues slide on past.

We asked the company what it’s doing to prevent issue-based ads from interfering in EU elections. At the time of writing it had not responded to that question.

Safe to say, ‘election security’ looks to be a very long way off indeed.

Not so the date of the EU poll. That’s fast approaching: May 23 through 26, 2019.


Source: TechCrunch

Grab an AMD Vega 64 for just $399 this Black Friday

AMD’s Radeon Vega 64 is discounted to just $399 in this year’s Black Friday sale, offering freesync gamers the most affordable shot at super-high frame rates for the best part of a year.

The post Grab an AMD Vega 64 for just $399 this Black Friday appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

Gift Guide: 16 fantastic computer bags

Give the gift of organization this year. Bags are often ignored but are a critical part of anyone’s mobile gear. They’re the outward representations of our techie styles, and we put far too little thought into where we keep our most prized possessions. Here’s a collection of bags TechCrunch reviewed over the last year. You’ll find waxed canvas bags, camera backpacks, trail-ready commuter bags and bags designed with women in mind.

 

WP Standard built the leather messenger bag you want

At $295 the bag is priced accordingly for the fantastic material and build. It’s a great bag to carry a few things and it will always be noticed. I have yet to see a bag as beautiful as the Vintage Leather Messenger Bag. If more space is needed, WP Standard now has a larger option that looks equally as good in the $310 Large Messenger Bag though I haven’t seen the bag in person yet.

Read the full review here.

Pad & Quill Heritage Satchel is a modern leather classic

This is a solid bag that I completely recommend. It’s a great size, able to hold most everything I threw at it while not being too big to carry even when lightly packed. After a few months with the bag, it’s aged nicely and is starting to feel like a well-worn pair of denim jeans. The leather is still delicious and seems durable enough to withstand a person’s daily grind.

Read the full review here.

The Bitcoin Genesis Block backpack will centralize your belongings

Unlike the blockchain, this backpack will centralize your stuff in a fairly large, fairly standard backpack. There is little unique about the backpack itself – it’s a solid piece made of 100% polyester and includes ergonomically designed straps and a secret pocket – but it is printed with the Bitcoin Genesis Block including a headline about UK bank bailouts. In short, it’s Merkle tree-riffic.

Read the full review here.

Chrome’s Vega Transit Brief makes your work vibe less uncool

The Vega isn’t Chrome’s most inspired design ever, but it isn’t supposed to be. If you want to show up to a meeting looking pro but still cool, like yeah you looked over the slides from the call but you drink shitty beer after work because you’re legit not because you can’t afford some triple-hopped bullshit, the Vega is probably for you. For anyone looking for a well-made bag that’s not too loud to carry to and from work meetings that happens to turn into a damn backpack, Chrome’s Vega Transit Brief is a great fit.

Read the full review here.

Chrome’s BLCKCHRM Bravo 2.0 backpack is a burly, stylish beast

It’s hard to overstate how good-looking this bag is. Like quality leather, the Hypalon breaks in with wear, picking up surface marks that fade into a kind of weathered patina over time. Between that material, the all-black mini Chrome buckle chest strap and central black leather panel, it’s a very sleek, sexy looking bag. Still, for anyone who digs the Bravo 2.0’s vibe but is wary of its heavy construction, the regular edition Bravo 2.0 might be a better choice. But if you like your packs fancy, serious and black on black on black, well, you know what to do.

Read the full review here.

Filson 24-Hour Tin Briefcase

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This bag has a large main compartment with a padded laptop area that will hold a 15-incher easily, and a couple of pockets on the inside to isolate toothbrushes and pens and the like. On the outside is a pair of good-sized zippered pockets that open wide to allow access from either the top or side; inside those are organizer strips and sub-pockets for pens and so on.

Read the full review here.

Croots England Vintage Canvas Laptop

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There isn’t a heck of a lot of room in there but this is definitely meant to be a daily driver briefcase and not an overnight bag — a “personal item” on the plane perhaps but I would take the Filson or ONA over it for space reasons. However as a bag to take to work the cafe, or the bookstore it’s a great option and a striking one. The Flight Bag is a slightly more expansive and unique option.

Read the full review here.

S-Zone $30 waxed canvas bag

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To balance out the admittedly very expensive bags in this review I decided to grab a cheap one off Amazon as well. As I expected, it isn’t up to the quality level of the others, but for $30 it’s a bargain. If you want to experience how waxed canvas evolves and wears, an inexpensive bag like this is a great way to try it out.

Read the full review here.

WP Standard’s Rucksack goes the distance

This bag assumes that you’re OK with thick, heavy leather and that you’re willing to forgo a lot of the bells and whistles you get with more modern styles. That said, it has a great classic look and it’s very usable. I suspect this bag would last decades longer than anything you could buy at Office Depot and it would look good doing it. At $275 it’s a bit steep but you’re paying for years – if not decades – of regular use and abuse. It’s worth the investment.

Read the full review here.

The Nomadic NF-02 keeps everything in its right place

Nomadic is a solid backpack. It’s small, light, and still holds up to abuse. I’m a big fan of the entire Nomadic line and it’s great to see this piece available in the US. It’s well worth a look if you’re looking for a compact carrier for your laptop, accessories, and notebooks.

Read the full review here.

Chrome’s Yalta 2.0 is a roomy rolltop that keeps up

Compared to some of Chrome’s more heavy-duty bags and other less-technical packs, the Yalta is a likable middle ground. The pack isn’t as rain resistant as a bag made out of fully waterproof material and the laptop sleeve could use some structure, but it carries a fair amount and it’s got a nice slender profile that looks and feels good. The Yalta doesn’t really have any quirks or tricks beyond the strange side-zip compartment, and that makes it a good fit for anyone who needs a good-looking, weather resistant mid-sized rolltop backpack for work and what comes before and after.

Read the full review here.

Mission Workshop’s Radian rolltop starts simple but grows piece by piece

In the end I think the Radian is the best option for anyone looking at Mission Workshop bags who wants a modular option, but unless you plan on swapping out pieces a lot, I’m not personally convinced that it’s better than their all-in-one bags like the Rambler and Vandal. By all means take a look at putting a Radian system together, but don’t neglect to check if any of the pre-built ones fit your needs as well.

Read the full review here.

Why I still love the Peak Design Everyday Backpack

Like I said several months ago, the bag is best described as smart and solid. It’s a confident design with just enough pockets and storage options. The bag features one, large pocket that makes up most of the bag. Foldable dividers allow the wearer to customize the bag as needed. And quickly, too. These dividers fold in several ways, allowing the bag to hold, say, a large telephoto lens or several smaller lens.

Read the full review here.

P.MAI’s women’s leather laptop bag is luxury packed with utility

By designing a bag for women that blends a luxury aesthetic with comfortable utility, the P.MAI bag quickly rose to the the “Most Wished for” laptop backpack on Amazon last holiday season. Premium materials and quality design don’t come cheap. Still, the $450 price-tag may keep this one on the wish-list for now.

Read the full review here.

Timbuk2’s Launch featherweight daypack is tough and tiny

If you’re a longtime Timbuk2 fan know that the pack both looks and feels different from most of Timbuk2’s classic designs, and unfortunately doesn’t come in the bright, playful tri-color look that some of its classic messengers do. Still, if you’re into more natural, subdued tones and really don’t want your day-to-day pack to weigh you down unnecessarily, Timbuk2’s Launch is totally worth a look.

Read the full review here.

Osprey Momentum 32 is ready for muddy trails

The Osprey Momentum 32 impresses. I used it during a muddy week at Beaumont Scout Reservation and it performed flawlessly as a rugged, bike-ready backpack. It stood tall in the miserable rain and insufferable heat that engulfed northern Ohio during the camping trip. If it can withstand these conditions, it can withstand an urban commute.

Read the full review here.


Source: TechCrunch

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