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Microblogs

  • [World: World News, International News, Foreign Reporting - The Washington Post] UK Labour Party suspends lawmaker over misconduct claim: Britain?s Labour Party says it has suspended a lawmaker over an allegation of sexual misconduct.
  • [World: World News, International News, Foreign Reporting - The Washington Post] Romania?s left-wing government survives no-confidence vote: Romania?s left-wing government on Thursday easily survived a vote of no confidence brought by the opposition Liberal Party over its ?populist and chaotic? economic measures.
  • [World: World News, International News, Foreign Reporting - The Washington Post] Sudan?s president visits Russia, asks for protection from US: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has said on a visit to Russia that his country needs protection from the U.S.
  • [Reuters: Lifestyle] Finland baker launches bread made from crushed crickets: HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finnish bakery and food service company Fazer launched on Thursday what it said was the world's first insect-based bread to be offered to consumers in stores.
  • [The Register] Remember the 'budget' iPhone SE? Apple plans an update - reports: Midget gem Apple hasn't forgotten its miraculous budget iPhone, the iPhone SE, after all. The ornate miniature looks set for an update next year, according to reports.?
  • [Business Policy and Regulation News - The Washington Post] U.S. Airlines? Gulf War May Score Some Serious Artillery: Gadfly
  • [Business Policy and Regulation News - The Washington Post] The Payday Mayday in China Looks Like an Overreaction: Gadfly
  • [Reuters: Sports News] France drop Benneteau and Mahut for Davis Cup final: LILLE, France (Reuters) - Doubles specialists Nicolas Mahut and Julien Benneteau have been omitted from the France team to play Belgium in the Davis Cup final starting on Friday.
  • [Reuters: Business News] China's Okay Airways orders five Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners for $1.4 billion: BEIJING (Reuters) - Boeing and Okay Airways, China's first privately owned airline, have finalised an order for five 787-9 Dreamliners for $1.4 billion, Boeing said on Thursday.
    Related
    China's Okay Airways orders five Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners for $1.4 bln [Reuters: Company News]
  • [Reuters: World News] China air force again flies round Taiwan, over South China Sea: BEIJING (Reuters) - China's air force has again flown bombers and other warplanes through two strategic channels near Taiwan and also over the disputed South China Sea during training drills, state media said on Thursday.
  • [Reuters: World News] Islamic State beheads 15 of its own fighters: Afghan official: JALALABAD, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Islamic State on Thursday beheaded 15 of its own fighters due to infighting in Afghanistan's eastern province of Nangarhar, the local government said.
  • [War Zones: War News, Coverage, Analysis & More - The Washington Post] Pope Francis to visit 3 Baltic nations next year: Pope Francis is planning a visit to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia next year, when the three Baltic nations celebrate their 100th anniversaries.
  • [Business News, Financial News, Business Headlines & Analysis - The Washington Post] U.S. Airlines? Gulf War May Score Some Serious Artillery: Gadfly
  • [Business News, Financial News, Business Headlines & Analysis - The Washington Post] The Payday Mayday in China Looks Like an Overreaction: Gadfly
  • [Reuters: Company News] China's Okay Airways orders five Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners for $1.4 bln: BEIJING, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Boeing and Okay Airways, China's first privately owned airline, have finalised an order for five 787-9 Dreamliners for $1.4 billion, Boeing said on Thursday.
    Related
    China's Okay Airways orders five Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners for $1.4 billion [Reuters: Business News]
  • [Reuters: Company News] METALS-China doubts push copper towards first fall in five days: * LME/ShFE arb: http://bit.ly/2wZSAEz (Updates throughout, moves dateline from Beijing)
  • [Reuters: Company News] SocGen sees limited upside in stocks as bond yields set to rise: LONDON, Nov 23 (Reuters) - With bond yields set to rise and shares already trading at expensive prices, there is little upside left in equity markets, France's Societe Generale said on Thursday in its 2018 outlook.
  • [Reuters: Technology News] Lyft raises another $500 million in additional round of funding: The additional funding round, led by Alphabet Inc's CapitalG, is an extension of the $1 billion round announced in October.
    Related
    Lyft raises another $500 million in additional round of funding [Reuters: Business News]
  • [Reuters: Business News] Lyft raises another $500 million in additional round of funding: The additional funding round, led by Alphabet Inc's CapitalG, is an extension of the $1 billion round announced in October.
    Related
    Lyft raises another $500 million in additional round of funding [Reuters: Technology News]
  • [Reuters: Environment] Tornado in Indonesia injures 35, damages hundreds of homes: JAKARTA (Reuters) - A tornado ripped through a densely populated area in Indonesia's East Java province on Wednesday, injuring 35 people and damaging more than 600 homes, the head of the local disaster mitigation official said.
  • Show more…

Photos

  • The Latest: Officer: Russian military may reduce Syria force

    The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):

  • Zimbabwe, facing new leader, wonders ?Where is Mugabe??

    As Zimbabwe on Thursday prepared to swear in a new leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, after 37 years, attention turned to the fate of Robert Mugabe and the wife who just days ago was poised to succeed him.

  • Myanmar, Bangladesh sign agreement on Rohingya refugees

    Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement on Thursday covering the return of Rohingya Muslims who fled across their mutual border to escape violence in Myanmar?s Rakhine state.

  • Deep insights into Kim Jong Un?s North Korea, and 4 other global stories

    In this occasional series, The Washington Post brings you up to speed on some of the biggest stories of the week.

  • A self-proclaimed Nazi is banned from his college campus in Florida ? but allowed to remain a student

    A self-proclaimed Nazi is banned from the University of North Florida's campus after school officials said he posed a risk to student safety

  • Thanksgiving Day Open Thread

  • How advertising shaped Thanksgiving as we know it

    The careful strategies that led to new traditions

  • How to survive talking politics at Thanksgiving

    You know it's going to come up. Here's your primer on the four biggest stories.

  • How to argue about net neutrality (and why you should)

    Internet regulations can affect your browsing and streaming experiences, and an informed consumer should have an opinion on such things, right?

  • How Joe Barton's sex scandal fits into the current conversation on sex and power

    He's not accused of sexual harassment. But his power as a congressman loomed large over a relationship he had with a woman, whom he threatened.

  • Show more…

Entries

  • Cloudflare Might Be Exploring a Way To Slow Down FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's Home Internet Speeds (508 characters)

    Thu, 23 Nov 2017 09:10:00 -0500Cloudflare Might Be Exploring a Way To Slow Down FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's Home Internet SpeedsSlashdot

    Late Wednesday night, TechCrunch reporter Josh Constine pleaded to tech billionaires to purchase local ISPs near FCC chairman Ajit Pai's home and slow down his Internet speeds. One of the responders to that tweet was Matthew Prince, co-founder and chief executive of Cloudflare, who said: I could do this in a different, but equally effective, way. Sent note to our GC to see if we can without breaking any laws. We have reached out to Mr. Prince for more details.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Throwback Thursday: the ups and downs of running DCResource (8426 characters)

    Thu, 23 Nov 2017 09:00:00 -0500Throwback Thursday: the ups and downs of running DCResourceNews: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

    My friends would (hopefully) say that I'm not one to toot my own horn, but since this weekend marks the 20th anniversary of my foray into the world of digital photography websites, I'm taking the liberty. Over Thanksgiving weekend in 1997 I founded the Digital Camera Resource Page, aka DCResource. The site is no longer updated (that probably wouldn't go over well with my current employer), so it remains as a sort of time capsule to days past.

    In this Throwback Thursday I'm going to share my story of how I stumbled into the world of digital photography and the rollercoaster ride that followed.

    I'm fortunate to have been an early adopter of many technologies. Prior to my first year of college I spent a summer working in a research lab at UC San Francisco, where we had a computer connected to this Internet thing. On it were copies of NCSA Mosaic 0.86, TurboGopher and Eudora (for e-mail). When I started college at UC San Diego in Fall of 1994 I was selected to test out a "cable modem," which back then was larger than a VCR and had a five figure price tag. Goodbye 28.8kbps dial-up, hello sort-of-high-speed Internet.

    The combination of three different thing resulted in the creation of DCResource. First and foremost, thanks to my job at the UCSD Bookstore, I was able to get my hands on early consumer cameras from Kodak, Apple and Casio that were up for sale. Second, I had already dipped my feet into running my own website, in the form of PowerWatch, which covered Mac 'clones' made by Power Computing, which (after the return of Steve Jobs) eventually closed down. Using the successful model of PowerWatch and noticing the lack of any sites covering digital cameras, in November 1997, in my college dorm, the Digital Camera Resource Page was born.

    The goal of DCResource wasn't to be the most technical site out there (Imaging Resource and DPReview would arrive a year later to handle that), but to be the most accessible to the average person. Even now, I still get feedback from folks who thought that the site succeeded at doing that.

    The early years of DCResource were pretty busy, with more and more companies entering the market with their plasticky, VGA-resolution cameras. In addition to the big names, companies such as Agfa, Sanyo, Sharp and Toshiba were all in the market at the time. If you ever owned any of those, consider yourself old. At the time, your camera either used SmartMedia (ugh), CompactFlash or floppy disk. I wrote about new '4X' speed CF cards and troubles getting the FlashPath SmartMedia-to-floppy adapter to work on Macs.

    Back then there was no content management system to hold reviews, so everything sat in static HTML files. Users e-mailed their camera reviews to me, which were often cross-posted on rec.photo.digital on Usenet.

    In the first couple of years it felt like the site just wasn't taking off. I considered closing it down, but kept it going, working on it in my spare time in and after college. As people started to gravitate away from film and toward digital, I realized that I was just a little early.

    When it came to camera reviews, I quickly established a standard that lasted for the entire life of the site. Besides being accessible, I wanted to be as consistent as possible. The layout was always the same: intro, what's in the box, software, look & feel, how many photos fit on a memory card, menu options, photo tests and conclusion. (I always use the term 'tests' loosely, since there was never any DPReview-level science involved.)

    In every sample gallery I included the same set of photos taken in SF's Chinatown as well as at Stanford University about 40 minutes to the south. I'd take out groups of cameras at a time (my record was 10 at once) since the weather in SF is so unpredictable. I'd do my best to arrive at the same time on each visit.

    Around 2001, I realized that keeping my site open was a good idea. Digital cameras were selling, and traffic was going up. I finally had good access to cameras to review, and back then, you could have a full review published on launch day. In the early days, it felt like the cameras manufacturers needed websites like mine (and others) a lot more than they do now. I quit my day job and started to run DCResource full-time.

    The year 2004 was the beginning of what I (and probably many of my peers) called the glory days. Technology moved so quickly that some photographers were upgrading cameras every year, and that's in addition to first-time buyers. Business was booming.

    You know what they say about 'all good things,' right?

    On June 29th, 2007, consumer digital photography changed forever. That's when the original iPhone was announced, and for most of us in the publishing world, it was all downhill from there, though I didn't know it at the time. Manufacturers didn't either, because in January 2008 they collectively released 80 cameras at CES, again, most of them being compacts, with little to differentiate them. They still hadn't gotten the memo a year later, with 75 cameras announced.

    While DCResource's traffic was slowly slipping, it didn't really hit home until after the 2009 holiday season, when I saw that my unique visitors were 60% of what they had been two years prior. It wasn't panic time yet ? I kept going without worrying too much about it, because as long as I was still making a good living, everything would be fine...

    2011 was panic time. The time to sell the site for anything except peanuts had long since passed (DPReview was acquired by Amazon four years earlier), and regret set in. I remember thinking "if only I had hired a salesperson while times were good," - not that it would've made a difference at that point. While I still took most of my photos with my DSLRs, I was reaching for my smartphone more and more often.

    The next year, manufacturers announced 55 cameras at CES. The problem was, nobody was buying them, and since DCResource leaned toward the consumer end of the spectrum, it was starting to hurt. I starting tapping into my savings (gotta pay the mortgage) so it became obvious that it was time to get back into the workforce and resume running my website on the side. While Silicon Valley had tons of tech companies to choose from, running a digital camera website for almost 15 years was an unusual thing to have on your resume.

    Around that time I was in touch with none other than Simon Joinson, who, along with Phil Askey, I'd known for several years as friendly competitors. Simon had expressed an interest in adding me to the DPReview team for a while, which was both a good opportunity for me and an excuse to move to Seattle, one of my favorite cities. Later that year, I accepted a position at DPReview, took a 3+ week trip to South America and Antarctica, and then drove myself and two partially sedated cats to Seattle. Since then, my brain has been stuffed with technical details (thanks Rishi and Richard), and my photography has improved as well (my old 'work' now makes me cringe).

    Naturally, I feel very fortunate for the opportunity that I had to leave the corporate world behind and build one of the original, and for a time one of the biggest photography websites from the ground up, almost entirely on my own. Sure, in retrospect I would've done a few things differently, but it was a good ride while it lasted.

    As 2017 comes to an end, I'm concerned that smartphones are following the same path as compact digital cameras, since they're so good now that there's less need to upgrade every year. That said, there is still a lot of innovation in this space, and smartphone photography is a lot more advanced than it was just a few years ago. While I don't know (yet) whether computational photography is the next big thing, I'm, strapped in, ready for another ride.

  • Emotional breakdown ? how Air Canada uses AI to improve customer relationships (10914 characters)

    Thu, 23 Nov 2017 08:58:00 -0500Emotional breakdown ? how Air Canada uses AI to improve customer relationshipsTnooz

    Air Canada has lately been making bold leaps forward on mobile and artificial intelligence with applications aimed to refine the airline?s customer relationships.

    tnooz spoke with Mark Nasr, Air Canada’s vice president of loyalty and ecommerce, for insight on how the airline’s commitment to mobile and AI will drive its marketing strategy of ongoing conversations with customers.

    As Nasr says:

    ?There’s really a proliferation of channels which allow for conversational commerce both from a voice perspective and from a traditional tech perspective; channels like Facebook Messenger, for example.

    “We believe that nowadays customers have certain preferences that they’ve developed, based on their wider digital habits, of how they like to interact with their tablets, smartphones and computers, and the mode in which they want to communicate.

    “It?s our point to be present and available across those different channels, and make ourselves available by the preferred mode of the customer.?

    Air Canada wants to be platform agnostic with conversational interactions on the web, mobile, voice assistant, or personal service. And it plans to be with customers in whatever platforms rise up next.

    ?There will be more options in the future as we think of virtual reality and augmented reality and brining those together for more a immersive experience.

    ?We’re not necessarily in the business of picking and choosing or being able to predict which platforms and channels are going to win. From an infrastructure and technology perspective, on our end, we’re looking at how we will create a solution that will allow us to participate in multiple ecosystems.?

    New Alexa Skills

    This month, Air Canada launched new Alexa skills offering customers flight status information, fare quotes, mobile app tips, and general travel information on travel documents, ticket policies, TSA pre-check availability, as well as baggage carousel information.

    More topics will be added in the future. The airline developed the Alexa skills through a collaboration with RozieAI.

    Nasr says that this initial Alexa skills project lays a strong foundation for the integration of AI in other customer-facing applications.

    ?A lot of what we’ve done with Alexa and RozieAi can be extended to other ecosystems, like Facebook and Google, so we are not re-building the entire solution for each of the ecosystems. It becomes more of an adaptation as required or as justified by differences from one product to the next.?

    The airline selected the initial skills available on Alexa based on studies of customer interactions, looking for the most frequently accessed queries on mobile and web platforms and other customer touchpoints.

    Nasr explains:

    ?We look at this every day as a matter of course..our customers are telling us these are the most important features to them because this what they are using more often, [so we] prioritize those in this new channel.?

    ?Once you get that list?dictated by what your customers want?you look at what’s the art of the possible. If we take too long to deploy something, then that’s fundamentally not meeting any customer’s needs.

    “We find what can be brought to market as quickly as possible. That?s how we decided on the initial set of capabilities.?

    ?Of course, Air Canada is moving to a fully agile methodology for digital. The intention is to push out more features over time. We plan to start with something that adds value and keep layering on more value.?

    Persado and AI in marketing

    Air Canada has also applied AI to product marketing through a collaboration with AI marketing content generation platform Persado.

    It has also worked in the AI space with travel companies including Caesar?s entertainment, hotels.com, and Royal Caribbean.

    Persado boasts the world?s largest database of conversational ?tags,? with over a million words and phrases scored based on how they inspire action.

    Nasr says that Persado has helped the airline ?think differently? about how it markets to customers, going beyond A/B messaging to more personalized communications which are likely to have an impact on the individual customer based on their personal reaction to copy.

    For example, by incorporating anxiety language, Air Canada has experienced up to 48% more opens of emails and click-throughs were almost 220% higher when it directed consumers to ?see deals? versus to ?book now? in the call-to-action button of the email.

    Ryan Deutsch, Persado?s senior vice president of global customer success, explains how an AI platform can make copy more compelling than a human writer.

    There?s a lot of science behind it.

    ?We break words and phrases into five different genes: emotion, formatting, description, call to action and positioning. If you think about creating a piece of copy that could be used as a subject line, a display ad, or a Facebook ad, when we get a piece of copy from our customers, we break the copy down in to one of those five genes.?

    ?Then we do experiments, and we create variants of that copy to see what language works best with an audience. We leverage those classifications and assign impact to components of a message.

    “Every time Persado does an experiment, I’m not comparing how message A works vs message B. I’m looking, across all the variants that I’m sending. What weight does emotion have in inspiring an individual segment or audience to take action? What weight does the formatting of the message take? What about the description of the offer? What about the positioning of those elements?”

    In the case of Air Canada, Persado created sixteen versions of a piece of copy by the airline, which represent 1024 different ways to deliver the message.

    Data gathered on the performance of each of the messages helps inform the AI through machine learning on what language combinations may work best going forward.

    Of the five gene categories, Deutsch says that emotion carries the most weight. Language which elicits or responds to emotions like anxiety, gratitude or exclusivity, for example, accounts for 60% of the lists of messages that Persado supplies to customers.

    ?We’re always trying to make an emotional connection, but how you communicate emotion and language is a little more complex.

    “When any of these travel companies start working with us, we begin with a number of experiments. Once a company has done about 75 experiments with Persado, we can begin to create the Persado ID, tied to segments and individuals within the customer’s CRM system. That ID understands the primary, secondary, and tertiary emotion that any individual is likely to respond to.

    “From our perspective, that starts to fundamentally transform how content is created within a business. Most companies, especially in travel and hospitality, focus most on what is the description of the destination and what’s the offer from a pricing perspective and they focus a lot less on emotion. Once you combine emotion with those other things, with the right destination and the right price, you see significant lift.?

    Air Canada?s Nasr says it has seen a significant improvement in the effectiveness of its marketing approach from using the Persado AI engine to draft copy, particularly because of this flexibility to personalize the message.

    ?We’ve done a series of tests on different products and we’re starting to roll out other technology on a broader basis.

    “What’s really important is that, at the end of the day, you can use tools to ensure that more customers engage with your marketing, but you still need to provide value. You still need to make sure that when customers click through from that email or banner or tile, that they are arriving on a well-designed and intuitive digital experience.

    “Persado is one part of the picture?a very important part?but if you’re not offering the right product, if it’s not priced correctly, or if the transaction has friction, you’re still not going to be able to close the deal. [Persado is] one part of the overall conversion funnel.?

    But beyond the word-smithing engine, it?s the accompanying analytics of Persado that deliver added value to Air Canada, Nasr says.

    ?We?re transforming?like many retailing and consumer brands?and becoming an analytics driven organization on the marketing side. For us, it?s a prerequisite now, whenever we’re considering a partner or we’re going to test out a new partnership, that the results and the decisions are driven by analysis.

    “That’s in the DNA of Persado. In many ways, it not a traditional marketing company. It?s really a next generation marketing company where analysis is at the core of what they do.?

    From mobile first to voice

    For Air Canada, part of the refinement of the conversion funnel, and of engaging CRM, is a prioritization of mobile which is in high demand by customers. This in turn means a prioritization of voice queries and chatbots.

    Nasr explains:

    ?It’s changing very quickly. Canada is a very tech savvy country and our base of flyers, especially our most frequent flyers tend to be particularly sophisticated travelers. Technology is a way of life for them; especially our most frequent flyers and elite members, because they are on the road so often. I couldn?t tell you if we over index compared to our competitors or other industries in the country, but I would bet it is the case.

    ?Our customers are interacting via mobile and we see that trajectory across the board, no matter what the activity is.

    More and more, we believe that we?ll see the same thing happen with voice and chat. If you think about it, once activity moves to mobile it becomes a question of what?s the quickest way of doing something on a mobile device. Voice is an especially effective input with a mobile device. If you’re on-the-go, you only have one hand free, or your in the car and you need to be focused on the road and safety in driving, so mobile and voice go closely together..two peas in a pod.?

    AI Going Forward

    Air Canada believes AI is now an integral part of improving operations both in the back-end and customer-facing. Nasr says:

    ?The question is: can the AI and other technologies be used to make it easier and better for our people to deliver service? This is not a matter of replacement as much for us as it is a matter of augmentation and enhancement on the customer service side. Customers will choose whether they want self-service or not. That’s ultimately the customer’s choice. But we will always, at least for the foreseeable future provide ground service and inflight service with our people, and we just want to make it easier for them to do it.?

  • Amazing Business Class Fares US-Europe From $1230 Roundtrip (403 characters)

    Thu, 23 Nov 2017 08:17:00 -0500Amazing Business Class Fares US-Europe From $1230 RoundtripView from the Wing

    Turkish Airlines is selling Atlanta - Europe roundtrips from $1230, and they're available most days that flies -- Turkish Atlanta service is 5 days a week.

    Here's Atlanta - Berlin for just $1230 roundtrip, which is incredible. You can credit the miles to United's MileagePlus if you wish (you'll earn 100% of flown miles).

    Continue reading Amazing Business Class Fares US-Europe From $1230 Roundtrip...

  • 15 Gifts For Photographers Under $50 (7039 characters)

    Thu, 23 Nov 2017 08:00:00 -050015 Gifts For Photographers Under $50Light Stalking

    Once you, or the photographer in your life, have your camera, whether it's a DSLR, mirrorless or even a smartphone, with the help of a few simple and affordable accessories, you can break many limitations and get creative with your images.

    Don't forget, you could even put together a gift basket of accessories for someone who needs them. There is an accessory out there for every photographer and if you need a gift for a photographer in your life – as a stocking filler or for another event and you are limited to how much you can spend – this list could be what you are looking for.

    15 Gifts For Photographers Under $50

    1. Universal Mounting Plate

    At some point, every photographer comes across a situation where they wished they had the tripod or, they are in a place where tripods are not allowed. This is one of the best accessories that can come in handy as a substitute when you do not want to miss that shot that requires stability or long exposure.

    Made of aircraft grade aluminium, this plate can hold up to 300 pounds, comes with removable spike screws, non-slip rubber feet, has multiple mounting options, is compatible with most cameras and can fit into a corner of your camera bag.

    2. All-in-one Waterproof Case for Memory Cards

    Protecting your memory cards should be a priority. This is a waterproof case, anti-static and floats on water. It can hold 8 micro SD cards, 4 SD cards, and 4 compact flash cards. Made of polycarbonate material, this case is also shock resistant and a must have for every photographer.

    3. White Balance, Metering and Reflector Kit

    As a compact 14? white balance and metering kit, foldable to 6?, this kit will fit into any camera bag. It has a neutral 3-tone panel that allows for photographers? white balance and accurate metering. The back side has a silver lining that can work as a reflector and this kit comes with an instructional DVD as well.  

    4. Joby Gorillapod SLR Zoom

    If you are looking for a tripod to carry around so you can have your camera still for a shot that requires stability, then this is the tripod that you should be going for. Although this cannot replace the conventional tripod completely, it can come in handy for certain situations. It is portable, durable, lightweight, has a ball-head, can hold DSLRs with telephoto lenses (up to a weight of 3 kg) and can be adjusted to hold your camera in any situation.

    5. Wired Remote Controller With Timer

    When you want to avoid shake during shutter release or you want to make long exposure photographs or time-lapse photography, this controller is a handy accessory. You have the option to set timer delays, exposure times and intervals up to 99 hours. The controller has a backlit LCD display for easy viewing during night time photography. Powered by 2 x AAA alkaline batteries this accessory is a must-have for serious night photographers.

    6. Camera Bean Bag

    A tough bag with heavy stitching that is sold empty with a rugged zipper so you can fill it with polystyrene balls or rice or birdseed or anything of your choice; a good choice for wildlife photographers. The bag provides rock-solid support for your camera, lens and fits into any place like a car window or on the ground. It comes in a variety of colors so you can choose one to work in whatever environment; yes, there is one for camouflage as well.  

    7. Camera Rain and Dust Cover

    A perfect accessory to protect your expensive gear if you are ever shooting in harsh weather conditions or in areas like deserts and beaches. Protects your gear from dust and scratches. This cover is water resistant, ultralight and is available in 3 sizes (small, medium, large) to fit any camera, with access to the viewfinder and opening for the lens without having to remove the cover while shooting.

    8. Waterproof SLR Camera Bag (7 Litre):

    This bag is an incredible gift for anyone interested in adventure water sports or for when they go on an adventure water ride. This bag can hold a pro DSLR and a long lens with some accessories. This bag floats if accidentally dropped in water, has well-padded walls/base, welded seams, reflective front patch and four D-rings for attachments. There is also a 15-litre model here.

    9. Light Tent

    For anyone who shoots product photos or needs a backdrop for just about shooting anything, this is a perfect kit. It comes in many sizes and four colored backdrops with a removable front opening that has a slit for the camera lens. It is made of light-diffusing white nylon fabric that aids in eliminating reflections and shadows.  

    10. 5-in-1 Reflector Disc (40? diameter)

    A collapsible reflector disc that helps minimise shadows under any lighting conditions. You have a choice of five colors (gold, silver, black, white, translucent) to suit your preference or different lighting conditions. It is portable as it is foldable and comes with a storage sleeve

    11. Photographer?s Vest

    A vest made of polyester (could get warm in the summer) with almost 17 pockets that are either velcro-ed or zippered. There are pockets for lenses, flashes, maps, wallets, spare batteries, phone, etc (you name them!) and a large pocket at the back for a tablet or a small laptop. If you want to avoid the hassle of carrying a backpack or a sling bag, this can be a great alternative. It comes in a few colors, black, olive and khaki to suit most photographers' likes.

    12. 77mm Circular Polarizer

    A great gift for any outdoor photographer, this circular polarizer is a must have for outdoor photography. It provides color and contrast enhancement, especially deepens the blue color of washed out skies, helps reduce or even eliminate glare from reflective surfaces and comes in different sizes.

    13. Hoya 77mm DMC Pro1 UV filter

    A UV filter is used to block UV light from spoiling your images. As much as it is a filter, most photographers use it as a protection for lenses, preventing dust, dirt, and scratches from ruining the front part of the lens. There are also times when this filter protects your lens from getting broken if there is an accidental fall.

    14. SDXC UHS-I Memory card

    One of the most important accessory that a photographer can have is a good quality, high-speed memory card. This card has transfer speeds of up to 95MB/s and can write up to a speed of 90MB/s thereby letting the photographer shoot rapidly or in burst mode and capture them in RAW without any delay. This card is ideal for professionals and is shock proof, temperature proof, waterproof and x-ray proof.

    15. Zeiss Lens Cleaning Kit

    And last but not least, once all the work is done, this is a great tool for any camera owner. It comes as a complete kit with wet and dry cleaning options; a bottle of cleaning fluid, microfibre cloth, blower,  pre-moistened lens wipes, along with a travel case to hold the contents of the kit.  

    For more great gift ideas see our previous post – 12 Cheap Gifts For Photographers (Plus 12 Expensive Ones)

    The post 15 Gifts For Photographers Under $50 appeared first on Light Stalking.

  • 'We Are Disappointed': Tech Companies Speak Up Against the FCC's Plan To Kill Net Neutrality (649 characters)

    Thu, 23 Nov 2017 08:00:00 -0500'We Are Disappointed': Tech Companies Speak Up Against the FCC's Plan To Kill Net NeutralitySlashdot

    An anonymous reader shares a report from Business Insider: The FCC is planning to kill net neutrality -- and some tech companies are starting to speak out. Pro-net neutrality activists, who argue the principle creates a level playing-field online, are up in arms about the plan. And some tech companies are now speaking out in support of net neutrality as well, from Facebook to Netflix. Business Insider reached out to some of the biggest tech firms in America today to ask for their reaction to the FCC's plan. Their initial responses are below, and we will continue to update this post as more come in.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Have You Earned Surprise Bonus Rewards? TPG Readers Respond (3079 characters)

    Thu, 23 Nov 2017 08:00:00 -0500Have You Earned Surprise Bonus Rewards? TPG Readers RespondThe Points Guy

    Even if you’re new to the points and miles hobby, you know that maximizing each and every purchase by choosing the right credit card is essential for quickly boosting your rewards balances across programs. Of course, even if you pick the best card for a given purchase, it needs to code correctly in order for you to earn the category bonus.

    After a reader emailed us to share how he was able to earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points on duty-free purchases made at the US-Canada border (thanks to having the Ambassador Bridge Reward Card connected to his Chase Sapphire Reserve), we were curious to see which other purchases have unexpectedly earned bonus rewards. We posed the question in the TPG Lounge, and here’s what you had to say:

    A Fortuitous Mix-Up

    Joe T. had this to say: “Uber local partnership, ordered a couple hundred in records from NYC, apparently it had the same name as a coffee shop here in Chicago because they gave me 10% back in Uber credits.”

    Food Not Required

    As we’ve noted in the past, often a bar that doesn’t serve food will still code as a dining purchase on an Ultimate Rewards-earning card like the Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Marcelius B. experienced this firsthand: “Bought a glass at a brewery because it shares my last name. Got coded as 2x points for Ultimate Rewards.”

    Tavo R. also lucked out with bonus points while enjoying beer: “Signed up for the 5x bonus on the Chase Freedom for restaurants, mostly all CO breweries don’t have food service but still got 5x. Best bonus ever!”

    And Joel M. was able to take things one step further: “My barber shop is in a bar. 3x points on haircuts!”

    A Wedding Surprise

    Chris O. says, “My wife and I paid for our wedding using the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Our wedding venue coded as travel so we earned 3x points. All our vendors were also billed through the venue, so we even earned 3x points on floral, decor, DJ, and photographer costs.”

    Daniel P. was also able to maximize wedding expenses: “Our wedding venue coded as dining! Several thousand bucks in spend. Talk about a happy day.”

    The Silver Lining to a Bad Situation

    As Doug H. learned, it can really pay to have rental car insurance through a travel rewards credit card: “I misjudged a u-turn in New Zealand and hit a tree. Hertz automatically charges and leaves it up to you to deal with insurance. Since I used my CSR I got triple points. Used the CSR rental car protection and got a check in the mail a few months later to cover the charges. Over 6,000 free points (even if I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the damage on the car).”

    Featured image by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images.

  • Amazing Deal: ~$1,200 Business Class Tickets From Atlanta To Europe On Turkish (1852 characters)

    Thu, 23 Nov 2017 07:54:00 -0500Amazing Deal: ~$1,200 Business Class Tickets From Atlanta To Europe On TurkishOne Mile at a Time

    This certainly won’t last. Per zoqfotpik on FlyerTalk, at the moment Turkish has some $1,200-1,400 business class fares from Atlanta to various destinations in Europe, including Barcelona, Belgrade, and Berlin. While you can use Google Flights to search these fares, they don’t seem bookable directly on Turkish’s website, so you’ll want to use Expedia, Orbitz, etc., to book.

    These fares have a Sunday night minimum stay, and a 50 day advance purchase requirement. You can travel through the end of the schedule, so they’re even valid for travel next summer. They book into the “J” fare class, so check out this page to see all the programs you can credit the miles to, and how many miles you’d earn.

    Do keep in mind that some fares may have long layovers in Istanbul, and at the moment Americans can’t easily get visas to enter Turkey. However, transiting isn’t an issue, and there’s even an airside transit hotel at the airport, should you want to sleep somewhere for the night. Fortunately all of the above markets seem bookable with same day and short connections.

    Turkish has a solid business class product with excellent food and a great lounge in Istanbul, so I’d highly recommend taking advantage of this fare if you’re considering going to Europe. But hurry, as I’m sure these fares won’t last (you always have 24 hours to cancel if booking through an online travel agency).

    Anyone plan to take advantage of these great Turkish business class fares?

  • Exploring the future of guest services (3750 characters)

    Thu, 23 Nov 2017 07:05:00 -0500Exploring the future of guest servicesTnooz

    Hilton has opened an Innovation Gallery – an incubator and showcase for development where the company will explore the future of hospitality and the guest experience.

    The gallery, located next to Hilton?s global headquarters at Hilton McLean Tysons Corner, was designed by the LAB at Rockwell Group.

    It showcases a variety of technologies, design elements and dining concepts, as well as environmental and experiential features, like a noise-masking Nightingale product and Meural, a customizable digital art display.

    Guests can explore five immersive experiences: a product showcase, lets visitors interact with new physical and virtual products; a food and beverage concept studio features the latest experiments from the hotel?s FAB team; a virtual reality stage offers guests VR tours of rooms from the chain’s new boutique lifestyle brands ?Tru by Hilton? and ?Canopy by Hilton?; a dark room explores material technologies which might improve quality, sustainability and/or design flexibility; and an innovation theatre will serve as a gathering space for brainstorming and collaboration.     

    Products on display at the opening have been recently launched or are under testing, and many were developed through partnerships between Hilton and technology companies like IBM, LG, Amazon and Tesla.

    Jon Witter, Hilton’s chief customer officer describes the initiative as “a space for us to incubate, test, scale and showcase the products and processes we?re creating to enhance our guests? experiences and redefine the future of hospitality.?

    Hilton has been beta-testing a smartphone-based Digital Key as well as a smart room that recognizes and is aware of guests, offering a customized experience, including integrated digital entertainment.

    The hotel giant has said that smart rooms could be available in as soon as next year.

    As the nexus of technology and travel continues to expand, we can expect more of these laboratory concepts to bloom.

    Marriott has debuted its own high-tech ?Room of the Future? featuring a virtual assistant, a voice activated smart shower, and yoga classes projected on a full length mirror among its digital upgrades.

    Unlike the high-design approach of Hilton?s Gallery, Marriott wanted a blank slate against which any innovation could shine through in its own light.

    Integrated entertainment is set to grow as companies recognize that guests want more than just the standard suite of television channels and pay-per-view films.

    Swiss entertainment technology company ADB Global is banking on guest-device driven entertainment to take off, especially at boutique hotels and smaller properties where digital solutions may offer a better opportunity to let guests enjoy their preferred entertainment.   

    The company?s digital entertainment solutions let guests access their own content from smartphones, tablets, laptops and other portable devices to project it to the TV in their room, through Screen Casting.

    It also suggests applications for safety, by broadcasting emergency alerts directly on room TVs, as well as converting TV monitors into digital marketing campaign players.

    Chris Dinallo, CTO & general manager of ADB vuTyme says:

    ?Hoteliers are finding that they can use the IRE (In-Room Entertainment) system to do much more than provide guests with television programming.

    “Research shows a big chunk of hotels? IT spending next year will be used towards improving digital customer engagement. As guests become more accustomed to accessing information when and where they want it, hotels must invest in technologies that meet those demands.”

    Related reading:

    How Hilton sees digital today and in the hotel of the future

  • LifeMiles Is Offering Their Best Ever Promotion On Purchased Miles For OMAAT Readers (2857 characters)

    Thu, 23 Nov 2017 07:01:00 -0500LifeMiles Is Offering Their Best Ever Promotion On Purchased Miles For OMAAT ReadersOne Mile at a Time

    A couple of days ago I wrote about how the LifeMiles program is offering a special Cyber Week promotion on purchased miles. Through this promotion you can buy miles with up to a 145% bonus. Not only is this one of the biggest bonuses they’ve offered on purchased miles, but the other great thing is that the bonus applies even if purchasing miles in small increments, while in the past you often had to buy 101,000+ miles to unlock the lowest possible cost.

    Well, it gets even better than that. LifeMiles is offering a special 150% bonus on purchased miles for readers of OMAAT.

    To take advantage of this offer you have to register on this page between November 23 and November 26, 2017, and then have to buy miles between November 24 and November 27, 2017.

    You have to wait 24 hours from the time you register until you buy miles through the offer to get the better bonus. You should see the better bonus reflected on the purchase page once you?re eligible.

    You can purchase anywhere between 1,000 and 200,000 miles using this offer (pre-bonus), meaning that you’d end up with anywhere between 2,500 and 500,000 miles. LifeMiles ordinarily sells miles for 3.3 cents each, so if you max out the promotion and buy miles with a 150% bonus, you?re essentially paying just 1.32 cents per purchased mile. I don’t recall ever seeing a better deal on purchased LifeMiles that everyone is eligible for.

    To crunch the numbers even further, purchasing LifeMiles qualifies as airfare spend for the purposes of your credit card. So if you buy miles with the Chase Sapphire Reserve you’d earn three Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent, while if you buy miles with the Amex Platinum Card you’d earn five Membership Rewards points per dollar spent. I value those points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me that’s a further return of 5.1-8.5%, which lowers your real out of pocket for those miles even further.

    I?d highly recommend registering now, and then you can always still decide if you want to take advantage of the promotion later.

    Thanks to LifeMiles for generously offering this promotion to OMAAT readers!

    Related
    Even Better: Seated Now Offers A Minimum Of $30 For Dining Out [One Mile at a Time]
  • Top 10 sample galleries of the year #2: the Sony Alpha a9 (894 characters)

    Thu, 23 Nov 2017 07:00:00 -0500Top 10 sample galleries of the year #2: the Sony Alpha a9News: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

    As 2017 winds down, we're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of the year. In the #2 position we have another staff favorite in the Sony Alpha a9. Images in this gallery have been viewed nearly 2 million times, so it seems our readers are as fascinated by this camera as we are.

    In fact, we've probably written more about the Sony a9 then any other product this year, simply because there was a lot to say (and test)! It got a gold award in our review and we've used it to shoot everything from parkour to the Presidents Cup. So peep our gallery and see what this top tier sports camera is capable of. Our parkour gallery is below:

    Top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017:

    #10: Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art
    #9: Fujifilm GFX 50S
    #8: Nikon D7500
    #7: Olympus Tough TG-5
    #6: Sigma 85mm F1.4
    #5: Fujifilm X-T20
    #4: Leica M10
    #3: Fujifilm X100F
    #2: Sony Alpha a9
    #1: To be revealed on 11/24

  • How Luggage Protection Saved Me $1,100 ? Reader Success Story (4187 characters)

    Thu, 23 Nov 2017 07:00:00 -0500How Luggage Protection Saved Me $1,100 ? Reader Success StoryThe Points Guy

    One of the things I love most about being The Points Guy is getting to hear stories from readers about how points and miles have helped them get where they want to go. If you’re interested in sharing your own award travel success story, email it to info@thepointsguy.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put ?Reader Success Story? in the subject line. If we publish it, I?ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure!

    Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Steve, who took advantage of a benefit on his wife’s credit card after a baggage mishap. Here’s what he had to say:

    I recently flew on United Airlines from Philadelphia to San Diego for a wedding. Some friends and I were planning on playing golf while in San Diego, so I checked my clubs for the flight. Unfortunately, I noticed my golf travel bag was torn at the seams when I picked it up upon arrival. My worst fears were realized after taking my clubs out of the travel bag and seeing my clubs dented, bent and snapped into thirds.

    I immediately went to the United customer service desk at the airport, where I was told the airline is responsible only for the travel bag itself and not any of its contents. I was given a replacement travel bag and a $50 United voucher, which is far below the value of the damaged clubs.

    The next morning I remembered I had paid for the flight using my wife’s Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, and I remembered past TPG articles extolling the card’s travel benefits, including the reimbursement for lost or damaged luggage. After doing a little research, I found out that the benefit applies not only to the primary cardholder, but also to immediate family members, even if the cardholder is not traveling with them (which my wife was not). I filed a claim with Chase and submitted the required documentation online, and in less than two weeks I received a check for $1,125.

    My wife had already decided to keep the card and paid the annual fee before my trip, but any doubts we had about keeping it in the future were thoroughly erased by this experience.  Not only that, but all of our future trips will now be booked using the Sapphire Reserve.

    Ideally your luggage would always arrive with you on time and intact, but if you travel often and check bags regularly, some amount of damage or delay is almost inevitable. When it happens, your first step should be to find out what the airline will cover. Once you’ve done that, you can appeal to your credit card issuer for additional compensation, including delay reimbursement for when your bags are only lost temporarily.

    Several premium cards offer baggage protection, but they don’t all come with the same degree of coverage. For example, Amex baggage insurance tops out at $2,000 per claim, or just $250 for certain “high-risk” items like jewelry, electronics and sporting equipment. Chase’s lost luggage reimbursement covers up to $3,000 per claim, and (fortunately for Steve) that protection applies to sporting gear. Citi’s coverage has even fewer exclusions, so it’s worth reading through the different policies to see which one best suits your needs.

    I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Steve for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I?m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I?d like to do the same for you.

    Again, if the strategies you?ve learned here have helped you fly in first class, score an amazing suite, reach a far-flung destination or even just save a few dollars, please indulge me and the whole TPG team by emailing us with your own success stories (see instructions at the top of this post). Feel free to also submit stories of your most egregious travel mistakes. In either case, you?ll have our utmost appreciation, along with some extra spending money for your next trip.

    Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

    Featured image by Fizkes via Getty Images.

  • Editor's Soapbox: Give Thanks for Well Routed Packets (1741 characters)

    Thu, 23 Nov 2017 06:30:00 -0500Editor's Soapbox: Give Thanks for Well Routed PacketsThe Daily WTF

    It?s Thanksgiving here in the US, so we?re taking a long weekend. In lieu of a more traditional ?from the archives? post, I?m going to give thanks.

    You know what I?m thankful for? I?m thankful that data packets on the Internet are routed and handled the same way, regardless of which network originated them, nor which network is their destination, nor what they may contain. You could say that networks are? neutral about packets.

    A few years ago, the FCC enshrined this common sense into its regulatory framework. We were all pretty happy about it, and were optimistic that it was done. Unfortunately, it?s never over, and the new management at the FCC wants to reverse that, and plans to vote about it in a few weeks.

    Remember: prior to making Network Neutrality the regulated standard, network operators largely (but not completely) followed the rule anyway. Network Neutrality was the default, and then the bean-counters recognized an unexploited revenue stream (why should Netflix get to send data to our customers without paying us for the privilege?). The Internet worked under Network Neutrality, and the FCC only needed to enforce it by rule because network operators wanted to change the playing field.

    In any case, if you?re thankful for an Internet that works, between gorging yourself in typical American fashion and arguing with your racist uncle, take a few minutes to do something about network neutrality.

    I?d be ever so thankful if you did.

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  • $248 Off Lightroom Mega Bundle at DPS, This Weekend Only (476 characters)

    Thu, 23 Nov 2017 06:13:00 -0500$248 Off Lightroom Mega Bundle at DPS, This Weekend OnlyPhotography Blog - News

    Over on Digital Photography School, for the next 3 days, you can get their best Lightroom Courses and Presets for just $97 (a $248 saving).

    Included in the bundle: 2 Lightroom Courses + Over 300 Premium Presets that will help you transform your images and save you heaps of time.

    Checkout the all the details here.

    This offer is only available for the next 3 days, and as always, there's a 60 day money back guarantee.

  • Mugabe granted immunity, assured of safety in Zimbabwe: sources (268 characters)

    Thu, 23 Nov 2017 06:09:00 -0500Mugabe granted immunity, assured of safety in Zimbabwe: sourcesReuters: World News

    HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's former president Robert Mugabe was granted immunity from prosecution and assured that his safety would be protected in his home country as part of a deal that led to his resignation, sources close to the negotiations said on Thursday.

    Related
    Zimbabwe's Mugabe told to resign ahead of impeachment proceedings [Reuters: World News]
  • Iran Guards ready to help rebuild Syria, Hezbollah will not disarm: TV (266 characters)

    Thu, 23 Nov 2017 06:02:00 -0500Iran Guards ready to help rebuild Syria, Hezbollah will not disarm: TVReuters: World News

    ANKARA (Reuters) - Iran's Revolutionary Guards are ready to help rebuild Syria and bring about a lasting "ceasefire" there, chief commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said, adding that disarming Lebanon's Hezbollah is out of the question, state TV reported on Thursday.

  • Elbaflex Prime and Base 35mm Analog Cameras for M42 and Nikon F Mounts (530 characters)

    Thu, 23 Nov 2017 05:44:00 -0500Elbaflex Prime and Base 35mm Analog Cameras for M42 and Nikon F MountsPhotography Blog - News

    Ihagee have added a basic version of their Elbaflex 35mm analog camera to their Kickstarter campaign, which now comes in Prime and Base versions. The Elbaflex Base  ? now available for a $299 pledge -- will have the same mechanics and technical specs as the Elbaflex Prime but the Base version will have fewer aesthetic and ergonomic refinements. Ihagee also announced that they will make the Elbaflex available in the M42 mount, as well as initial Nikon F Mount.

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