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  • Air Canada drops 8 cities from route map amid coronavirus adjustments (3725 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 16:00:00 -0400Air Canada drops 8 cities from route map amid coronavirus adjustmentsThe Points Guy

    Air Canada will end service to eight cities in Canada and make other adjustments to its map as a result of the coronavirus pandemic in what some see as a play for government aid.

    The Montreal-based carrier will end service to eight regional destinations across eastern Canada, plus drop 30 routes, as it adjusts to lower demand due to COVID-19, Air Canada said on Tuesday. It also cited the Canadian government’s restrictions on international arrivals into the country for the cuts.

    “I am saddened by the impact today’s announcement… but respect and understand the difficult choice our partner, Air Canada, has had to make,” Joe Randell, president and CEO of the Chorus Aviation that operates many of the discontinued flights, said in a statement.

    Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news!

    Air travel has been decimated by the pandemic. Statistics Canada’s latest data shows passenger numbers fell 97% year-over-year to just 213,000 people in April. While the number of flyers has recovered some since then, numerous reports indicate that it is far below 2019 levels.

    In July, Air Canada plans to fly about 37% of what it flew in Canada a year ago, according to Cirium schedules. WestJet plans to fly about 30% of what it flew in 2019.

    Porter Airlines, which suspended flights in the early days of the pandemic on March 20, has postponed plans to resume flights until Aug. 31.

    The recovery in air travel is widely expected to take at least two to three years. However, at least one recent update has forecasted a slower than initially expected return of flyers to at least 2023.

    Related: Air travel recovery may come slower than expected

    Some are suggesting that Air Canada’s announcement may be the latest move in its push to get the Canadian government to relax travel restrictions or provide airlines with financial aid. To date, the country has only provided its carriers with access to a wage subsidy program.

    In an interview with the Financial Post on Tuesday, Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu said the government needed to either ease travel restrictions or provide aid to Canadian carriers.

    ?Either one or the other or both. But it can?t be neither,” he said.

    Related: Air Canada resumes US flights, will serve fewer than half its destinations this summer

    Air Canada’s service reductions could be a harbinger of what is to come in the U.S. While American carriers have maintained most of their maps under conditions of the federal coronavirus aid package, or CARES Act, those rules are set to lift on Sept. 30. At that time, airlines could pull destinations as needed to fit their expectations that they will emerge smaller from the crisis.

    “Starting Oct. 1, every airport on an airline network is fair game for being cut,” Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and president of Atmosphere Research, told TPG. “Stations that are not profitable, and do not have the prospect to quickly become profitable, will be dropped like an ex-spouse in a bitter divorce.”

    Only American Airlines has permanently exited a domestic city due to the crisis to date. The carrier ended flights to Oakland (OAK) on June 3, consolidating its service in California’s Bay Area to just San Francisco (SFO) and San Jose (SJC) airports.

    Related: A country-by-country guide to coronavirus recovery

    Below is a list of the destinations where Air Canada will end service.

    • Bathurst, New Brunswick (ZBF)
    • Wabush, Newfoundland and Labrador (YWK)
    • Gaspé, Quebec (YGP)
    • Baie Comeau, Quebec (YBC)
    • Mont Joli, Quebec (YYY)
    • Val d’Or, Quebec (YVO)
    • Kingston, Ontario (YGP)
    • North Bay, Ontario (YYB)

    Featured image courtesy of Air Canada.

  • JetBlue founder?s new airline Breeze delays launch to 2021 (3144 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 15:30:00 -0400JetBlue founder?s new airline Breeze delays launch to 2021The Points Guy

    Those looking forward to trying out JetBlue Airways founder David Neeleman’s new airline venture Breeze Airways are going to have to wait.

    Salt Lake City-based Breeze has opted to push the launch of passenger flights to 2021 from this year, spokesperson Gareth Edmondson-Jones confirmed to TPG on Tuesday. He did not say whether the delay was due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic, which was hit the airline industry particularly hard.

    When it does begin flying, Breeze ? initially code-named Moxy ? plans to operate point-to-point flights aimed at leisure travelers in smaller U.S. markets that have lost service in recent years. Neeleman has said previously that the carrier will capitalize on technology to improve the customer experience.

    Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news!

    News of Breeze’s delay comes as U.S. air travel remains at historic lows. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened 625,235 people on Monday, June 29. This is about a quarter of the number of people it screened a year ago, or about the number of people that boarded U.S. airline flights daily in 1977.

    At the same time, nearly every carrier is expected to post an annual loss in 2020 after nearly a decade of industry profits. Three regional airlines have already closed their doors, two as flying contracts were not renewed and one, RavnAir in Alaska, as revenues dried up.

    Given the backdrop, some may argue this is not the best time to launch a new airline.

    Related: Neeleman?s new airline Breeze to first fly routes in eastern U.S.

    That may not be how Neeleman sees it. An industry veteran who has launched or helped launch four successful airlines ? Azul in Brazil, JetBlue, Morris Air and WestJet in Canada ? the market opportunity he previously saw for Breeze may only expand due to the virus.

    ?There?s just a lot of scraps that the big guys have left,? Neelman told TPG in February. ?They?ve left a lot of city pairs, they?ve left a lot of other things untouched. I think we can fill that void nicely with the two aircraft types that we have coming.?

    If this was true in February, before the pandemic hit with a vengeance, it is even more likely to be true today with most airlines flying just a fraction of their pre-crisis schedules. Frontier Airlines and JetBlue have already identified opportunities for new routes connecting former-hub cities like Cincinnati (CVG) and Pittsburgh (PIT) with leisure destinations in Florida and elsewhere.

    Related: JetBlue founder?s new U.S. airline now has a name: Breeze Airways

    Ultimately, the Breeze can only launch once it receives U.S. Federal Aviation Administration certification. That process is still on going.

    The airline plans to begin flying with a fleet of 28 used Embraer E195s acquired from Azul. It then plans to expand with new Airbus A220-300s that, prior to the coronavirus, were due to begin arriving in 2021.

    The temporary closures of some of Airbus’ assembly lines have delayed the deliveries of some jets.

    Related: State-by-state guide to coronavirus reopening

    Featured image courtesy of Breeze Airways.

  • Watch: Robot Spy Turtle Lays ?Camera Eggs? for Vultures to Steal (1811 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 15:20:00 -0400Watch: Robot Spy Turtle Lays ?Camera Eggs? for Vultures to StealPetaPixel

    The latest “spy cam” clip from the PBS docu-series Spy in the Wild 2 takes the robot camera bit farther than before. Not only did they use a robot “spy turtle” to capture the nesting process up close, the spy actually laid its own “camera eggs” that captured what it’s like to be attacked by vultures looking for a quick meal.

    The clip features three “spy” creatures in all: a drone disguised as a vulture captures the incredible turtle swarm from above, the spy turtle shows the process from up close, and then the clutch of camera eggs captures what it’s like for the baby turtles that never get the chance to hatch.

    It’s an impressive bit of wildlife filmmaking that’s almost stranger than fiction: robot camera turtle lays camera eggs to capture never-before-seen footage of olive ridley turtle aribada in Costa Rica… while vulture camera watches from above. The headline writes itself.

    According to the video’s description, hundreds of thousands of olive ridley sea turtles come to the shores of Ostional in Costa Rica to lay their eggs each year, with up to 20,000 arriving every day. Each can lay up to 100 eggs, and when they’re done, they must bury them quickly before the vultures arrive.

    Now, thanks to Spy in the Wild, we get to see what this looks like from above, on the ground, and even from the perspective of the vulnerable eggs.

    Check out the full video up top to see this never-before-filmed vantage point for yourself. And if this clip piqued your interest, you’ll find several more Spy in the Wild clips in the PetaPixel archives, including a robot monkey, a robot hummingbird, and a robot ‘spy pig’ who got on the wrong side of some Komodo dragons.

    (via Laughing Squid)

  • See Intricate Details in Leonardo da Vinci?s The Last Supper in a New Gigapixel Image (2365 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 15:02:00 -0400See Intricate Details in Leonardo da Vinci?s The Last Supper in a New Gigapixel Imagekottke.org

    The Royal Academy of Arts and Google teamed up on a high-resolution scan of a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper painted by his students. Even though the top part of the original is not depicted, this copy is said to be “the most accurate record of the original” and since the actual mural by Leonardo is in poor shape, this copy is perhaps the best way to see what Leonardo intended.

    This version was made around the same time as Leonardo made his original. It’s oil paint on canvas, whereas Leonardo’s was painted in tempera and oil on a dry wall — an unusual use of materials — so his has flaked and deteriorated badly. It probably didn’t help that Napoleon used the room where the original hung as a stable during his invasion of Milan.

    A zoomable version is available here. The resolution on this scan is incredible. The painting is more than 26 feet wide and this is the detail you can see on Jesus’ downcast right eye:

    Wow. You can compare this painting to a high-resolution image of the original on the Haltadefinizione Image Bank or Wikimedia Commons. And you can learn more about the copy and how it relates to the original on the Royal Academy website.

    The genius of Leonardo’s composition is much clearer in the RA copy. The apostles are arranged into four groups of three and there are many subtle interactions between the figures. Leonardo believed that gestures were very important in telling the story. He explained that the power of his compositions were such that “your tongue will be paralysed with thirst and your body with sleep and hunger before you depict with words what the painter shows in a moment”.

    There are many elements in the copy which are more distinct that the original, such as the figure of Judas clutching his money bag and knocking over the salt. The landscape beyond the windows with its valleys, lakes and paths is well preserved in the copy, but has almost disappeared in the original. Leonardo’s use of colour was was greatly admired, but in the original the colours are very faded — Saint Simon on the extreme right clearly wears a pink cloak, but this is not visible in the original.

    (via open culture)

    Tags: art   Google   Leonardo da Vinci   museums   Royal Academy of Arts
  • Cheers: Delta resumes limited alcohol service with beer and wine (3762 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 14:30:00 -0400Cheers: Delta resumes limited alcohol service with beer and wineThe Points Guy

    Each of the major U.S. carriers is taking a different approach to reassuring customers that flying is safe. While all airlines are requiring masks, some are taking it a step further. These safety measures include capping capacity, modifying boarding procedures and reducing onboard service touchpoints to minimize interactions.

    Delta’s safety standards are some of the most robust in the industry. As part of the Atlanta-based carrier’s coronavirus response, it stopped most inflight food and beverage options in late March. Instead, passengers are given a snack pack with individually bottled waters depending on flight length and class of service.

    As travel slowly starts to rebound, Delta is beginning the process of reintroducing some of the suspended service elements. And that starts with alcohol.

    For more travel tips and news, sign up for our daily newsletter.

    Beginning July 2, domestic first class and Comfort+ customers can enjoy complimentary beer and wine on all flights greater than 500 miles. The selection will include single-serve red and white wine, as well as Heineken, Miller Lite, SweetWater 420 and SweetWater IPA. Though the rollout begins on July 2, it’ll take the entire month for the beverages to appear on all eligible domestic flights.

    To minimize touchpoints, these individually-packaged drinks are going to be presented on trays with plastic cups available by request.

    While this is great news for those adults who’ve missed alcohol service, note that the selection will currently be limited to beer and wine only. Delta explains that this is just the “first step” to reintroducing a more “normalized” onboard service, with more improvements likely on their way soon. If you’re missing your favorite cocktail, you’ll have to wait a little longer since you can’t consume your own liquor on board.

    As for non-alcoholic refreshments, Delta isn’t yet ready to restore complimentary soft drinks, tea or coffee service. Likewise, all domestic and international flights to Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Central America will still feature pre-packaged snack service only. All other international flights feature a full selection of beverage offerings and hot, prepared food service.

    Related: We got an inside look at how Delta is cleaning planes between every flight

    Delta’s limited onboard service matches the stringent safety measures it’s taking to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus. (It also helps save the carrier some cash, too.)

    Delta’s two top competitors ? American Airlines and United ? haven’t modified their inflight service nearly as much. American still offers regular alcohol service on all flights in first class. United has eliminated poured alcohol across the board and instead serves single-serve cans of beer and wine.

    Of all domestic flights, you’ll notice the largest difference in onboard food service on premium transcontinental flights between the New York area and Los Angeles and San Francisco. In the forward cabin, AA and UA still serve hot meals, but they’re being served on one tray. Delta and JetBlue have abandoned hot food service in favor of pre-packaged snack packs.

    Related: Comparing premium transcon flights in the age of coronavirus

    Nonetheless, Delta’s latest announcement that it will restart select alcohol service is a welcome improvement for flyers. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before the other aspects of the onboard service return in a safe manner.

    Featured photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

    Related
    Inflight service is resuming — here’s what food and drinks the major U.S. airlines are currently serving [The Points Guy]
  • Mitsubishi-NTT Anode Team Up on Renewable Energy (2144 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 14:25:00 -0400Mitsubishi-NTT Anode Team Up on Renewable EnergyAkihabaraNews - Asia tech news source

    Mitsubishi Corporation (Tokyo) — Mitsubishi Corporation (MC) and NTT Anode Energy Corporation (NTT Anode) have agreed to study collaboration in the energy sector. The agreement is part of the industrial partnership formed between MC and NTT Corporation (NTT) on December 20, 2019.

    MC is engaged in a wide range of electric power businesses and is now endeavoring to extend those operations beyond power distribution. By combining renewables and other green energy sources with digital technologies, the company aims to provide customers with new, value-added solutions to balance supply and demand. Also active in energy storage, MC manufactures and sells vehicle-and-industrial-use lithium-ion batteries and promotes their reuse and further application throughout the energy sector. These initiatives are invested in the development of sustainable societies and are helping MC to both strengthen its corporate worth and realize its three-value mission.

    NTT Anode was established to promote smart-energy businesses that take advantage of the NTT Group?s proprietary ICT and direct-current (DC) technologies. By maximizing the group?s synergies and optimizing use of distributed energy resources, such as storage batteries and power generation facilities driven by renewables, the company is working with its partners to develop new energy-distribution systems and invigorate industry.

    The MC-NTT Anode alliance will focus on the following areas:

    Renewable Energy Generation: This work will study to involve joint investment in renewable energy projects in Japan and overseas, as well as investigation into the possibility of supplying energy from those projects to NTT Group companies.

    Energy Management with EVs and Storage Batteries: This work will study to involve building a microgrid platform for new, decentralized energy businesses that incorporates electric vehicles (EVs) and storage batteries, and leveraging both those businesses and the existing networks of MC and NTT Anode to investigate unique energy solutions.

    The post Mitsubishi-NTT Anode Team Up on Renewable Energy appeared first on Akihabara News.

  • Scenes From Antarctica (27 photos) (582 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 14:25:00 -0400Scenes From Antarctica (27 photos)In Focus

    Antarctica is currently approaching the coldest months of its long winter, and the previous summer?s activities have mostly wrapped up. Collected below are recent images of the Antarctic landscape, wildlife, and research facilities, and some of the work taking place there.

  • Fujifilm is Working on a Massive 400TB Archival Storage Drive (2875 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 14:20:00 -0400Fujifilm is Working on a Massive 400TB Archival Storage DrivePetaPixel

    Leaps in storage capacity are pretty common these days. However, the biggest jump in archival media storage won’t come from spinning disks or solid state drives?Fujifilm is currently working on cramming an incredible 400TB worth of of capacity onto a single magnetic tape drive.

    Tape storage might seem antiquated, but it’s still the preferred media for long-term archival storage in the enterprise space. While it might be slow?incredibly slow, in fact?it’s perfectly fine for storing years worth of photos or video footage that you may never access again, but don’t want to throw away.

    Only two companies still make tape media, Fujifilm and Sony, and according to a report by Blocks & Files the former is actively developing a new technology that would allow it to cram a whopping 400TB onto a single storage drive. That makes the current 15TB “world’s largest hard drive” sound like a thumb drive from 2004.

    The main type of magnetic tape storage in use today is called Linear Tape-Open, or LTO, and the current generation (LTO-8) maxes out 12TB of raw capacity. LTO-9, maxing out at 24TB per cartridge, is expected to hit retail this year.

    As Blocks & Files explains in their exclusive report, current LTO formats all use magnetic tapes coated in Barium Ferrite (BaFe), but Fuji is proposing using Strontium Ferrite (SrFe) instead. Because SrFe is a smaller molecule with “superior properties” to BaFe, this would allow for higher density storage on the same amount of tape.

    Specifically, Fuji believes that SrFe-based LTO cartridges will be able to achieve approximately 224Gbit of storage for every square-inch of tape, allowing for the aforementioned 400TB in maximum capacity before they have to move on to another element.

    Unfortunately, it’ll be a while until we actually see a drive like this in action. Each successive LTO generation generally doubles in size and takes about 2.5 years to materialize, so we don’t expect to see anything near 400TB until LTO-13, which AnandTech estimates will only hit retail in the year 2030. But this is good news all the same.

    While most photographers aren’t rushing out to buy LTO cassettes and modern tape drives for home use in 2020, these expected leaps in archival storage capacity are thought to be critical to the continued growth of secure long-term storage solutions, just as stills and video files continues to get bigger and bigger.

    Whether you’re shooting thousands of 100MP medium format RAW files, or you’re interested in dabbling in some 8K RAW video with the upcoming Canon EOS R5, this technological leap may help ensure you have a place to store all of that footage when the time comes to back it up.

    Image credits: Header photo by Jon Hewitt, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

    Related
    Fujifilm is developing a 400TB tape media drive [News: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)]
  • Nikon is the latest camera company sued by DigiMedia Tech over alleged patent infringement (4558 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 14:14:00 -0400Nikon is the latest camera company sued by DigiMedia Tech over alleged patent infringementNews: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

    DigiMedia Tech, LLC, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against yet another camera company, this time going after Nikon over its alleged infringement of three different US patents. This lawsuit follows similar infringement cases brought against Olympus, Fujifilm and JK Imaging, all of them also over the alleged infringement of digital camera technology patents.

    DigiMedia Tech is a non-practicing entity (NPE) of IPInvestments Group, which received many US patents from Intellectual Ventures LLC in November 2019. Following the patent acquisition, DigiMedia Tech has filed lawsuits against several companies over their alleged infringement of these patents -- in the latest one involving Nikon, the company claims infringement of US patents No. 6,914,635, No. 7,715,476 and No. 6,545,706.

    The '635 patent was first filed in 2001 by Nokia Mobile Phones; it involves a microminiature zoom system designed for digital cameras. The '476 patent was first filed in 1999 and then again in 2005; it covers a 'system, method and article of manufacture' related to a digital camera's ability to track a subject's head. The third and final patent in the lawsuit, '706, was filed in 1999 and likewise covers head-tracking camera technology.

    The infringement lawsuit specifically names Nikon's Coolpix A1000 as a model that allegedly infringes the '635 patent and the Nikon P900RM 'and similar products' as allegedly infringing the '706 and '476 patents. Among other things, the DigiMedia Tech lawsuit wants Nikon to pay 'damages in an amount to be determined at trial for Defendants' infringement, which amount cannot be less than a reasonable royalty.'

    It's unclear how much this could amount to, financially speaking. Likewise, Nikon hasn't yet commented on the infringement lawsuit.

    DigiMedia Tech's decision to sue Nikon isn't surprising in light of its recent activity. On May 29, the NPE filed patent infringement lawsuits against Fujifilm and Olympus, alleging that both have used digital camera technologies in select camera models that infringe on its US patents. Following that, DigiMedia Tech filed the Nikon lawsuit referenced above, then a similar complaint against JK Imaging, the company behind Kodak PIXPRO cameras, on June 24 in California Central District Court.

    A full list of DigiMedia Tech's lawsuits, including related documents, can be found through the Unified Patents portal.

    The NPE practice of exploiting acquired patents has been heavily criticized for years. These companies oftentimes don't actually practice the invention detailed by the patent and usually don't sell processes or products related to them. These non-practicing entities instead enforce the patent rights against companies allegedly infringing them, doing so to obtain licensing payments or some other type of revenue, such as royalties or damages, on the acquired patents.

    Though not all NPEs exploit acquired patents, there are those that do. Ones that operate aggressively and file large numbers of lawsuits in order to cast a wide net to see what they catch are colloquially referred to as 'patent trolls.'

    In 2011, the Hastings Science and Technology Law Journal published a large PDF document titled 'Indirect Exploitation of Intellectual Property Rights by Corporations and Investors' that details NPEs and the ways they may be used. The discussion is extensive and ideal for understanding the reasoning behind these lawsuits, stating in part that patent infringement lawsuits from NPEs may be, among other things, used by:

    ...a sponsoring entity against a competitor to achieve a corporate goal of the sponsor. A corporation or investor, by serving as the sponsor for an IP privateering engagement, can employ third-party IPRs as competitive tools. The privateer, a specialized form of non-practicing entity (NPE), asserts the IPRs against target companies selected by the sponsor. The sponsor?s benefits do not typically arise directly from the third party?s case against a target, but arise consequentially from the changed competitive environment brought about by the third party?s IPR assertion.

    Of course, DigiMedia Tech's own reasons for filing suits against these camera companies are unclear and it's impossible to say whether there would be an indirect benefit for a competing company as a result of these allegations. As these cases are only days and weeks old, the outcome of each lawsuit is yet to be seen.

  • Uber's New Strategy: Buy Unprofitable Companies, ???, Profit (1886 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 14:08:00 -0400Uber's New Strategy: Buy Unprofitable Companies, ???, ProfitSlashdot

    Uber's new strategy is just like its old one. Make its money-losing business bigger by buying other money-losing businesses like Postmates. From a report: After Uber's merger talks with food-delivery company Grubhub fell apart, Uber has now set its sights on Postmates, according to the New York Times. Uber Eats, the ride-hailing company's food-delivery unit, is just as unprofitable as the rest of Uber's business operations, but that hasn't stopped the company from reportedly offering $2.6 billion to takeover Postmates. Uber has been searching for ways to stay afloat during the pandemic as its core ride-hailing business has collapsed and its business model of misclassifying driver-employees as independent contractors to save on labor costs is coming under increased scrutiny in California and nationwide. In its Q1 earnings call, Uber reported that rides were down over 80 percent and it had recorded an eye-watering loss of $2.9 billion (it has never recorded a profit), but there was a bright spot: food-delivery was up by 54 percent since last year. Still, it's not clear that Uber Eats -- or an acquisition of Postmates -- will be enough to save the company. In March, Rideshare Drivers United, an app-based driver advocacy group in California, released a wage claim tool to let drivers claim stolen wages and unpaid business expenses; a mere 4,000 Uber and Lyft drivers have filed claims in excess of $1 billion. Last year, there were well over half a million Uber and Lyft drivers last year and reports have pegged Uber's annual driver retention rate at around 4 percent. Mind you, this is only in California and only includes wage claims -- there is also a growing call for Uber to pay state unemployment insurance taxes in not only California but the rest of the country, a prospect that could cost billions more if realized.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • My 11 craziest AvGeek experiences (14466 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 14:00:00 -0400My 11 craziest AvGeek experiencesThe Points Guy

    My adventures during the past three and a half months haven?t been as exciting as they typically are. There have been great road trips, home rentals and lots of new outdoor activities.

    I’m grateful to be traveling again, even if it looks different that past years.

    But I miss flying.

    And I?ve used my newfound time at home to reflect on some of the amazing aviation activities I?ve been privileged enough to experience as a journalist in the past decade. And now, I’ve decided to share them with you.

    For more AvGeek stories, sign up for our our daily newsletter.

    The very first 787 Dreamliner flight

    Airlines love to mark “firsts.” There are big celebrations for most inaugural flights. But nothing quite compares to the first commercial flight of an entirely brand new type of aircraft.

    The launch of the Airbus A380 ? the world’s largest passenger jet ? in October 2007 brought a new size to air travel. One that now seems to be coming to an end.

    Four years later, the Dreamliner’s launch lacked such superlatives but did usher in a new age of travel. It was one where the airlines could profit off specific point-to-point routes that avoided the major hubs. And since Boeing had nicknamed the new 787 the “Dreamliner,” everybody was paying attention.

    So on Oct. 26, 2011, I found myself buckling in to a window seat, 15A, aboard All Nippon Airways Flight 7871 from Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT) to Hong Kong (HKG).

    Besides all the journalists, there were tons of aviation enthusiasts that had paid thousands of dollars for a seat on the plane. They carried memorabilia from past inaugural flights and were snapping photos of everything from the overhead bins to the bathroom, complete with a window and bidet.

    Of course, TPG’s staff loves to document everything they see on flights. Our most-recent look at a Dreamliner came in March when we got on United?s new 787-9.

    Awesome airport access

    Any AvGeek will tell you that they love looking a planes. But how about walking under the giant belly of an A380? Or standing on the roof of an airport terminal?

    During my first ramp tour, my jaw dropped and I was just giddy with the excitement of wearing a high-visibility vest and getting to walk around spots most travelers will never see. By the 20th time ? who am I kidding, I was still giddy.

    Looking back through my photos, I got to see logos of brands that no longer exist, like US Airways.

    And then there are memories, like the time I got to go up on the roof of the American Airlines gates at New York’s LaGuarida, gates that are now being torn down as part of the airport’s revitalization.

    There were also cool trips to see how the Transportation Security Administration screens checked luggage. Trust me, it was not easy to get that sort of access.

    And if you are curious, this is how the TSA opens up your locked suitcase.

    Las Vegas timelapse project

    In July of 2019, TPG’s Zach Griff and I went to Las Vegas to bake in the extreme heat of the McCarran International Airport (LAS) and its ramp and runways. It was worth it.


    We created an awesome timelapse video of what it is like to operate the airport.

    McCarran airport is one of the world’s busiest airports and is the gateway to the Las Vegas Strip and Southern Nevada. We spent 36 hours in the desert sun, chasing planes, climbing around outside ramp control towers and getting to see how baggage is sorted.

    The secrets of Denver International Airport

    Any good AvGeek knows that Denver International Airport isn’t just the gateway to the Rockies but also a source of conspiracy theories.

    My day started with an amazing airside tour. Denver has six runways and can do more simultaneous takeoffs and landings than any other U.S. airport.

    Those with a long-term memory will remember the 1995 opening of the airport and its much-heralded ? but not really functioning ? automated baggage handling system.

    Today, the airport’s baggage operating system works like many other major hubs, with tugs carrying carts full of bags around. But in one of the subbasements (one of the many airport conspiracy theories talks about secret bunkers down here) you can still see remnants of the automated system.

    It also snows a lot in Colorado.

    To help clear those six massive runways, the airport authority has a giant fleet on snow plows and other heavy machines.

    It was fun to drive through the airside garage in the middle of summer and see all that equipment waiting.

    Aircraft boneyard in Roswell, New Mexico

    At the end of 2013, American Airlines let me hop aboard a Boeing 757-200, on its way to Roswell.

    After 26,057 takeoffs and landings, the 24-year-old plane was on its final flight, about to be ripped apart for scrap metal.

    The best part: since there were no passengers on the jet, I was allowed to sit in the cockpit jumpseat for landing. It was amazing!

    Once on the ground, there were hundreds of empty jets sitting in the high desert waiting to ? maybe ? return to service but most likely waiting to be scrapped.

    The next day, the folks operating the yard were nice enough to give us a tour.

    (Some TPG staff got to go to Roswell last year to witness the final American MD-80s being retired.)

    Let’s just say that it is a really cool airport.

    One of the planes ? a vintage Lockheed Jetstar 1329 once belonging to Elvis – even lives here, waiting for some collector to buy the red jet. The plane has been put up for auction, several times.

    Inside, there was a fabulous ? for its time ? couch and TV set. Oh, how in-flight entertainment has changed.

     

    Flight attendant training

    To really understand an industry, you have to know what everybody does to get their jobs.

    I have tons of respect for those working in the airline world. There is an industry-wide understanding about safety and how important it is to keep the world flying.

    Flight attendants are often misunderstood by passengers. Yes, part of their job is to ensure great service ? whether a three-course meal in international first class or helping to keep us hydrated in coach on an hour-long domestic hop.

    But safety is ultimately why they are in the cabin with us.

    And each flight attendant must go through an in-depth training course and then recertification.

    There are lessons on opening and closing doors and how to evacuate a plane during a land or water landing.

    And then there is the pool.

    I was lucky enough to participate in a MegaDo ? a really big frequent flier meet-up ? in 2012. (Along for the ride, even though none of us worked together at the time, was TPG founder Brian Kelly and our family travel guru Summer Hull.)

    As part of that trip, we practiced getting into the life rafts that would be our shelter until help came to rescue us. After that, I always listen a little closer to the pre-flight safety instructions.

    Planespotting in Cuba

    Starting up flights in foreign countries is never easy. But there were giant hurdles when U.S. airlines got permission to start regularly-scheduled flights to Cuba in 2016. Many had operated charters for years, but starting normal operations meant figuring out how to scan baggage bar codes into the normal system, charge credit cards for bag fees and a host of other challenges.

    One of the airlines invited me along in June of 2016 as it met with Cuban officials at the airport and in downtown Havana to work through the issues.

    The best part? We spent nearly two days at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, including plenty of time touring the terminals and driving on the tarmac.

    Board games with Spirit Airlines CEO

    Ok, so this isn’t exactly related to airplanes. But it was a crazy experience.

    The CEO of Spirit at the time ? back in 2014 ? was Ben Baldanza. He was on a jet-buying spree, taking the ultra low-cost airline into many more markets, fighting hard against legacy carriers for vacationers.

    I had learned in past discussions with him that he was really into board games. Not just any board games, but strategy games that might give me and my readers insight into how he operated the airline. So we made plans to meet at his house one night and play a board game.

    At one point in his life he owned nearly 4,000 games. By the time I visited in 2014, he cut the collection down to 1,500, enough to fill one of the four bedrooms in his house.

    Cool items at airline headquarters

    Visiting an airline’s headquarters is usually a stuffy affair, filled with lots of meetings and then a rush to catch a flight home.

    But even once in a while something really cool is spotted during these trips.

    Visiting Southwest’s headquarters overlooking Dallas Love Field is great for the amazing runway views.

    But one of its hallways is filled with old uniforms, giving visitors a time-machine ride through the history of America and travel. And yes, hot pants were once an official uniform for flight attendants.

    One of my favorite things to see when visiting offices are the model plane collections on the desks of everybody from entry-level employees to the CEOs. Every once in a while, there is a real gem.

    Aircraft manufacturers will sometimes create models of new jets in an airline’s paint job, or livery, and then give them to key executives, hoping to win them over to buy the plane.

    No U.S. airline ever purchased the Airbus A380, but the model below is still one of my favorites.

    There are also some other spots in airline headquarters that you hope will never be activated.

    One is crisis command center ? basically a fancy boardroom where all the key divisions of the airline can come together to deal with the emergency and let the operations center focus on running the rest of the airline.

    Flight simulators

    Deep down, we all want to fly big jets.

    But I chose to become a writer and am almost always on the wrong side of the cockpit door.

    So the next best thing is getting some time to fly the flight simulators that major airlines use to train their pilots.

    These massive machines that rest of hydraulic legs, move along with you. So if you go into a virtual steep climb, the entire machine pulls up and you actually get the sense of quickly climbing.

    Boeing factory floor

    Boeing does offer public tours of its massive factory in Everett, Washington.

    I’ve done that twice in my life and also visited the Boeing welcome center and rooftop deck overlooking Paine Field.

    But how about getting to actually walk on the factory floor?

    TPG’s Senior Aviation Editor Ben Mutzabaugh and I got a special tour last July. While I can’t share photos of all that we saw, below is one of the few 747s being manufactured in a world that has moved to twin-engine jets.

    Bottom line

    I’ve been very lucky to get to travel tons and see some amazing parts of the aviation world.

    As I continue to pause my travel, it’s nice to look back at these experiences and look forward to new ones when we all start hitting the road again.

    Featured image by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy.

  • PhotoGIMP Makes GIMP More Familiar to Photoshop Users (1873 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 13:38:00 -0400PhotoGIMP Makes GIMP More Familiar to Photoshop UsersPetaPixel

    If you’re a Photoshop user who’s considering switching to the free and open-source image-editing program GIMP, PhotoGIMP is a patch designed to smooth out the transition for you.

    Created by the Brazilian blog Diolinux, PhotoGIMP aims to make GIMP look and work more like Photoshop on Linux, which Photoshop doesn’t support.

    The first thing you’ll notice after applying PhotoGIMP (on GIMP v2.10 and above) is the look: the styling is inspired by Photoshop, and the organization and position of the tools are as well — the new default settings help to maximize canvas space.

    Python filters such as “heal selection” are installed by PhotoGIMP, and there’s hundreds of new fonts at your fingertips.

    Many of the keyboard shortcuts you’ve baked into muscle memory will once again be available to you, as the developers of PhotoGIMP followed Photoshop’s documentation to bring over what they could.

    Even the icon, name, and splash screen of your GIMP install will be revamped.

    “At present, PhotoGIMP is mainly compatible with GIMP installed via Flatpak,” It’s FOSS reports. “If you installed GIMP using Flatpak, you can simply copy-paste these hidden folders in your home directory and it will convert your GIMP into Adobe Photoshop like settings.

    “However, if you installed GIMP via apt or snap or your distribution?s package manager, you?ll have to find the GIMP config folder and paste the content of the .var/app/org.gimp.GIMP/config/GIMP/2.10 directory of PhotoGIMP.”

    The PhotoGIMP repository over at GitHub has all the files and instructions you’ll need to get started. In addition to Linux, you should be able to turn your GIMP into PhotoGIMP on Windows and macOS as well.

    PhotoGIMP [GitHub via DIYP]

  • Assorted News: Brookman, Smartsens, AIStorm, Cista, Prophesee, Unispectral, SiLC, Velodyne, Himax (2494 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 13:23:00 -0400Assorted News: Brookman, Smartsens, AIStorm, Cista, Prophesee, Unispectral, SiLC, Velodyne, HimaxImage Sensors World

    Brookman demos the absence of interference between its 4 pToF cameras working simultaneously:



    Smartsens reports it has garnered three awards from the 2020 China IC Design Award Ceremony and Leaders Summit ?co-presented by EE Times China, EDN China, and ESMC China. SmartSens won awards in three categories: Outstanding Technical Support: IC Design Companies, Popular IC Products of the Year: Sensors/MEMS, and Silicon 100.


    Other imaging companies on EE Times Silicon 100 list of Emerging Startups to Watch are AIStorm, Cista Systems, Prophesee, Unispectral, SiLC


    Bloomberg reports that a blank-check company Graf Industrial Corp. is in talks to merge with Velodyne Lidar in a deal that would take Velodyne public. Graf Industrial Corp. has been established in 2018 as as a blank check company with an aim to acquire one and more businesses and assets, via a merger, capital stock exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, and reorganization. Merging with a blank-check company has become a popular way for companies to go public, as the coronavirus pandemic upends the markets.

    GlobeNewswire: Himax launches of WiseEye WE-I Plus HX6537-A AI platform that supports Google?s TensorFlow Lite for Microcontrollers.

    The Himax WiseEye solution is composed of the Himax HX6537-A processor and Himax Always-on sensor. With support to TensorFlow Lite for Microcontrollers, developers are able to take advantage of the WE-I Plus platform as well as the integrated ecosystem from TensorFlow Lite for Microcontrollers to develop their NN based edge AI applications targeted for Notebook, TV, Home Appliance, Battery Camera and IP Surveillance edge computing markets.

    The processor remains in low power mode until a movement/object is identified by accelerators. Afterwards, DSP coped with the running NN inference on TensorFlow Lite for Microcontrollers kernel will be able to perform the needed CV operation to send out the metadata results over TLS (Transport Level Security) protocol to main SOC and/or cloud service for application level operation. The average power consumption for Google Person Detection example inference could be under 5mW. Additionally, average Himax Always-on sensor power consumption can be less than 1mW.

    ?Himax WE-I Plus, coupled with Himax AoS image sensors, broadens TensorFlow Lite ecosystem offering and provides developers with possibilities of high performance and ultra low power,? said Pete Warden, Technical Lead of TensorFlow Lite for Microcontrollers at Google.

  • FCC Declares Huawei, ZTE 'National Security Threats' (1299 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 13:17:00 -0400FCC Declares Huawei, ZTE 'National Security Threats'Slashdot

    The Federal Communication Commission has declared Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE "national security threats," a move that will formally ban U.S. telecom companies from using federal funds to buy and install Huawei and ZTE equipment. From a report: FCC chairman Ajit Pai said that the "weight of evidence" supported the decision to ban the technology giants. Federal agencies and lawmakers have long claimed that the tech giants are subject to Chinese law, which "obligates them to cooperate with the country's intelligence services," Pai said. "We cannot and will not allow the Chinese Communist Party to exploit network vulnerabilities and compromise our critical communications infrastructure," the FCC said in a separate statement. Huawei and ZTE have repeatedly rejected the claims. The order, published by the FCC on Tuesday, said the designation takes immediate effect, but it's not immediately clear how the designation changes the status quo. In November of last year, the FCC announced that companies deemed a national security threat would be ineligible to receive any money from the Universal Service Fund. The $8.5B USF is the FCC's main way of purchasing and subsidizing equipment and services to improve connectivity across the country.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Reddit is Asking to Use Photos in Ads for Free Without Credit (2934 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 13:05:00 -0400Reddit is Asking to Use Photos in Ads for Free Without CreditPetaPixel

    It’s no secret that Reddit makes huge amounts of ad revenue off content that’s often posted without the copyright owners’ permission. But did you know the company is also asking photographers to use their photos for commercial purposes without any payment… or even credit?

    Bellingham, Washington-based commercial photographer John Wingfield (@johnwingfield) regularly shoots beautiful photos of his golden retriever Millie who has become an Instagram celebrity of sorts, boasting over 79,000 followers. This past weekend, Wingfield shared a photo of Millie to the subreddit /r/aww, where it received over 6,700 upvotes from the community of over 25 million members.

    Wingfield’s post undoubtedly generated a significant number of pageviews, and Reddit didn’t have to pay him a cent for the content that drove traffic. But that’s how Reddit works — creatives like Wingfield can receive quite a bit of exposure, and in exchange, Reddit can rake in profits by running ads on every page.

    However, shortly after he shared his photo, Wingfield received a message from a Reddit admin.

    “We’re working on gathering content to use for Reddit’s promotional purposes, and we wanted to see if we could use your post,” the admin wrote.

    Wingfield responded by asking for more details about how the photo would be used and whether he would be paid and credited.?

    “Reddit’s marketing team is always looking for great content posted on Reddit to showcase the platform to new users,” the admin wrote, adding that the photo would be used across social media and in Reddit’s “digital advertising posts.”

    Wingfield would not be paid any licensing fee for the photo being used in Reddit’s ads. What’s more, Wingfield would not be credited in any way since the ad is designed to promote Reddit, not the photographer.

    As you might expect, Wingfield wasn’t too pleased with the deal being offered — commercial use of a photo in exchange for absolutely nothing.

    Here’s how he responded:

    “No,” Wingfield writes. “Frankly I’m insulted that you would even make such a request.”

    “I couldn’t believe Reddit asked me to use a photo of advertising purposes without paying a licensing fee, or even providing me credit!” the photographer tells PetaPixel.

    Reddit is one of the top 20 most-visited websites in the world, and it counts several corporations and billionaires as major shareholders. The media giant Advance Publications (the parent company of Condé Nast) is a primary owner, but the Chinese tech giant Tencent also acquired a 5% stake in an 2019 investment round that valued Reddit at a whopping $3 billion.

    However, despite being able to generate staggering amounts of traffic and revenue, it seems Reddit doesn’t have the budget to pay photographers.

  • Emirates to bring back on-the-ground premium experience as of July 1 (3031 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 13:00:00 -0400Emirates to bring back on-the-ground premium experience as of July 1The Points Guy

    Emirates announced on Tuesday that as of July 1, it will be reinstating its full premium on-the-ground experience for first- and business-class passengers. Though, as with most things regarding travel and coronavirus, there will be some modifications.

    For more news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG?s daily newsletter.

    At the airport, the airline?s signature Chauffeur Drive Service will be reinstated for first- and business-class passengers at Dubai and some other cities around the world ? including London (LHR) ? as of 10 a.m. on July 1. Drivers in Dubai will wear gloves and masks, and high touchpoints of all cars will be sanitized at the end of each trip. At the end of each shift, cars will be cleaned and disinfected inside and out. In Dubai, cars will be limited to three passengers but larger vehicles will be available on request for groups of four.

    Related: Dubai will reopen to tourists July 7 ? here?s what you need to know

    It?s worth noting that the Chauffeur Drive Service is not available to passengers who booked first- or business-class tickets using points or those booked through its partner airline, Qantas.

    As of July 1, just one of the airline?s lounges in Terminal 3, Concourse B at Dubai Airport (DXB) will be open, and eligible first-class, business-class and Emirates Skywards members will be permitted entry. Once inside, passengers can expect a different experience than they might be used to. Passengers will be required to wear masks in the lounge, and there will be a reduced number of seating areas to aid social distancing. Complimentary hygiene kits will be readily available in the airport for those who require masks, gloves, sanitizer or wipes.

    The buffet offering will be replaced with hygienically sealed meal boxes. Drinks, including spirits, will be available in single-serve bottles, meaning shared drinks like wine and Champagne will be temporarily suspended.

    The airline has set out several measures to ensure the safety of passengers and employees. One such initiative will be accessing the lounge using biometric gates and facial recognition technology. Cleaning will be ramped up, too, as tables and chairs will be sanitized by a member of staff after each passenger use and at the end of each day, the lounge will be sanitized and fumigated. More of Emirates? lounges around the world are set to open in the coming months.

    Related: When are the best and worst times to visit Dubai?

    Onboard, First Class Suites and lie-flat business class seats will remain in use, but the onboard service has been modified. Social areas, like the bar on the A380, remain out of use. The airline said that crew will wear full PPE and toilets will be cleaned more frequently.

    The reintroduction of this ground service for premium passengers coincides with the return of several daily Emirates flights from Dubai (DXB) to Heathrow (LHR), also on July 1.

    Featured image courtesy of Emirates

  • The Pandemic and the American Mountain of Dead (4529 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 12:59:00 -0400The Pandemic and the American Mountain of Deadkottke.org

    For his piece The 3 Weeks That Changed Everything in The Atlantic, James Fallows talked to many scientists, health experts, and government officials about the US government’s response to the pandemic. In the article, he compares the pandemic response to how the government manages air safety and imagines what it would look like if we investigated the pandemic catastrophe like the National Transportation Safety Board investigates plane crashes.

    Consider a thought experiment: What if the NTSB were brought in to look at the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic? What would its investigation conclude? I’ll jump to the answer before laying out the background: This was a journey straight into a mountainside, with countless missed opportunities to turn away. A system was in place to save lives and contain disaster. The people in charge of the system could not be bothered to avoid the doomed course.

    And he continues:

    What happened once the disease began spreading in this country was a federal disaster in its own right: Katrina on a national scale, Chernobyl minus the radiation. It involved the failure to test; the failure to trace; the shortage of equipment; the dismissal of masks; the silencing or sidelining of professional scientists; the stream of conflicting, misleading, callous, and recklessly ignorant statements by those who did speak on the national government’s behalf. As late as February 26, Donald Trump notoriously said of the infection rate, “You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down close to zero.” What happened after that — when those 15 cases became 15,000, and then more than 2 million, en route to a total no one can foretell — will be a central part of the history of our times.

    But he rightly pins much of the blame for the state we’re in on the Trump administration almost completely ignoring the plans put into place for a viral outbreak like this that were developed by past administrations, both Republican and Democratic alike.

    In cases of disease outbreak, U.S. leadership and coordination of the international response was as well established and taken for granted as the role of air traffic controllers in directing flights through their sectors. Typically this would mean working with and through the World Health Organization — which, of course, Donald Trump has made a point of not doing. In the previous two decades of international public-health experience, starting with SARS and on through the rest of the acronym-heavy list, a standard procedure had emerged, and it had proved effective again and again. The U.S, with its combination of scientific and military-logistics might, would coordinate and support efforts by other countries. Subsequent stages would depend on the nature of the disease, but the fact that the U.S. would take the primary role was expected. When the new coronavirus threat suddenly materialized, American engagement was the signal all other participants were waiting for. But this time it did not come. It was as if air traffic controllers walked away from their stations and said, “The rest of you just work it out for yourselves.”

    From the U.S. point of view, news of a virulent disease outbreak anywhere in the world is unwelcome. But in normal circumstances, its location in China would have been a plus. Whatever the ups and downs of political relations over the past two decades, Chinese and American scientists and public-health officials have worked together frequently, and positively, on health crises ranging from SARS during George W. Bush’s administration to the H1N1 and Ebola outbreaks during Barack Obama’s. As Peter Beinart extensively detailed in an Atlantic article, the U.S. helped build China’s public-health infrastructure, and China has cooperated in detecting and containing diseases within its borders and far afield. One U.S. official recalled the Predict program: “Getting Chinese agreement to American monitors throughout their territory — that was something.” But then the Trump administration zeroed out that program.

    Americans, and indeed everyone in the world, should be absolutely furious about this, especially since the situation is actively getting worse after months (months!) of inactivity by the federal government.

    Tags: China   COVID-19   Donald Trump   flying   James Fallows   politics   USA
  • Double words (1812 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 12:56:00 -0400Double wordsThe Endeavour

    Double words such as “the the” are a common source of writing errors. On the other hand, some doubled words are legitimate. You might, for example, find “had had” or “that that” in a grammatically correct sentence.

    I’ve been looking through my web site to purge erroneous double words, and found a few doubles that are correct in context but would probably be incorrect elsewhere.

    In ordinary English prose, long long is probably not what the author intended. There should either be a comma between the two words or a different choice of words. But in C code snippets, you’ll see long long as a type of integer. Also, it is common in many programming languages for a type and a variable to have the same name with varying capitalization, such as FILE file in C.

    There are several pages on my site that refer to the Blum Blum Shub cryptographic random number generator. (The name of this algorithm always makes me think of a line from Night at the Museum.)

    There are several pages on this site that use log log, always in the context of number theory. Logarithms of logarithms come up frequently in that context.

    I also refer to unknown unknowns. The press ridiculed Donald Rumsfeld mercilessly when he first used this expression, but now the phrase is commonly used because more people understand that it names an important concept. It comes up frequently in statistics because so much attention is focused on known unknowns, even though unknown unknowns are very often the weakest link.

    ***

    By the way, if you’d like to make a list of doubled words in a file, you could run the following shell one-liner:

       egrep -i -o '\<([a-z]+) \1\>' myfile | sort | uniq > doubles

    I used something like this on a backup of my site to search for doubled words.

  • Four Quick Links for Tuesday Noonish (933 characters)
  • Microsoft, LinkedIn To Retrain Unemployed Workers for In-Demand Jobs (1233 characters)

    Tue, 30 Jun 2020 12:51:00 -0400Microsoft, LinkedIn To Retrain Unemployed Workers for In-Demand JobsSlashdot

    Microsoft and its LinkedIn unit will provide free job training to help unemployed workers prepare for in-demand jobs as the global pandemic pushes U.S. joblessness to levels as bad as those during the Great Depression. From a report: The program uses LinkedIn data to find the jobs that employers most want to fill, and offers free access to content that helps workers develop the required skills. The company will also cut the cost of its certification exams and offer free job-seeking tools. Microsoft aims to provide additional skills to 25 million people globally by the end of the year through the program for such jobs as software developer, customer-service specialist and graphic designer. Microsoft said its calculations show global unemployment may reach a quarter of a billion people this year. The U.S. unemployment rate was 13.3% in May, the highest level since 1940, as the coronavirus shut down stores, restaurants and bars, with higher rates of joblessness among Black and Latino workers. While parts of the economy are starting to reopen in the U.S., companies are also shutting down, filing for bankruptcy or announcing permanent job cuts to adjust to a long-term slowdown.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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