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  • Microsoft Is Shutting Down Cortana On Multiple Devices, Including iOS and Android (2034 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 20:20:00 -0400Microsoft Is Shutting Down Cortana On Multiple Devices, Including iOS and AndroidSlashdot

    At Microsoft's Ignite conference in late 2019, the company said it was planning to shut down its standalone Cortana mobile apps as it refocuses on business users. Microsoft today is following through with that plan, announcing that it will shut down the current Cortana iOS and Android apps, end Cortana support for the Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker, and remove the original Cortana functionality from the first-generation Surface Headphones starting in 2021. The Verge reports: These changes are still a few months away, but it marks another big step for Microsoft in pivoting Cortana away from a Google Assistant or Alexa alternative to a more specialized, productivity-focused assistant -- changes the company has already started making on the Windows 10 version of Cortana earlier this year. (To that end, Microsoft also put a September 7th date on the already-announced sunsetting of third-party Cortana skills for Windows.) Instead, Microsoft will be focusing on its productivity features that repurpose Cortana as a part of the Microsoft 365 suite of software, citing the revamped Windows 10 functions and integrated Cortana features in the Outlook and Teams apps as replacements. It's not as full-featured as the original Cortana -- which offered additional functions like smart home controls and music integration -- but by offering a less broad set of features, Microsoft is hoping to create a product that better complements its existing software and competes less directly with established players like Google and Amazon. Microsoft is also offering a consolation offer of a $50 gift card for Harman Kardon Invoke owners, who'll be most impacted by the removal of Cortana -- which effectively will turn the formerly smart device into a pricey Bluetooth speaker when the firmware update arrives next year. Owners of the original Surface Headphones (who will also see their Cortana experience removed) are also being offered a $25 gift card to make up for the missing service.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Apple Surpasses Saudi Aramco To Become World's Most Valuable Company (776 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 19:40:00 -0400Apple Surpasses Saudi Aramco To Become World's Most Valuable CompanySlashdot

    Apple rode the company's strong earnings report to become the world's most valuable publicly traded company, surpassing the state oil giant Saudi Aramco at Friday's market close. CNBC reports: Apple shares closed up 10.47% Friday, giving it a market valuation of $1.84 trillion. Saudi Aramco, which had been the most valuable publicly listed company since its market debut last year, now trails at $1.76 trillion as of its last close. Apple's strong fiscal third quarter earnings, released Thursday, boosted its stock, as investors rallied behind the company's 11% year-over-year growth. Apple also announced a 4-for-1 stock split. The company has recovered from its pandemic low-point in March. Shares are up more than 44% this year.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Comcast Lost 477,000 Cable Customers In Q2 2020 (1370 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 19:00:00 -0400Comcast Lost 477,000 Cable Customers In Q2 2020Slashdot

    AT&T lost an astounding 900,000 cable subscribers in the first quarter of 2020, and now, Comcast has reported that it lost 477,000 pay-TV subscribers of its own for Q2. TechSpot reports: In Q1 2020, roughly 409,000 subscribers pulled the plug on their Comcast-provided cable subscriptions -- this last quarter, the corporate giant managed to lose substantially more. If these losses continue to grow at this rate, Comcast may be on track to lose twice as many cable subscribers this year as it did last year. For reference, the company took a hit of around 733,000 cable subscribers in 2019, and it has already dropped significantly more than that (around 886,000 customers) in 2020. There are plenty of reasons for these mass subscriber losses, but Covid-19 is likely chief among them. Thousands of Americans have lost their jobs due to coronavirus complications (including business shutdowns). Even many who haven't are now working from home, giving them more free time to explore alternatives to cable TV, such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and others. What it lost in cable-TV subscribers it gained in internet customers. The report notes that Comcast "managed to snag around 323,000 additional broadband customers in Q2 2020: the 'best second quarter high-speed internet net adds in 13 years,' according to the company."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • One of the first ships to resume cruising is having a COVID outbreak (4675 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 18:30:00 -0400One of the first ships to resume cruising is having a COVID outbreakThe Points Guy

    On second thought, maybe it was too soon.

    One of the first cruise ships in the world to resume sailing since the coronavirus-caused worldwide halt to departures in March is experiencing an outbreak of the illness that has already sent people to the hospital.

    Norwegian expedition cruise company Hurtigruten late Friday said four crew members from the 535-passenger Roald Amundsen were admitted to the University Hospital of North Norway in Tromsø, Norway, earlier in the day after the vessel docked in the city.

    For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG’s new cruise newsletter.

    The ship had just finished a seven-night sailing out of Tromsø to the Arctic’s wildlife-filled Svalbard archipelago.

    All four of the hospitalized crew members had been sick for several days while on board the vessel, and all four had been placed in isolation. But the line said their symptoms weren’t consistent with COVID-19. They only tested positive for the illness after the ship docked in Tromsø early Friday.

    It’s unclear if the crew members are seriously ill or only were being hospitalized as a way to keep them isolated.

    The entire ship has now been placed in isolation, and all remaining crew — around 160 people — are being tested for COVID-19. The line also is tracking down 177 passengers who left the ship early Friday to alert them to the outbreak.

    Related: Coronavirus claims another small cruise line — the third in a month

    The next voyage of the vessel, which had been scheduled to begin Friday, has been canceled.

    Hurtigruten has been at the forefront of efforts to restart cruising in Europe in the wake of falling coronavirus case counts across the continent. The line started cruises to Norway out of Hamburg, Germany, in June with a single ship, the 530-passenger Fridtjof Nansen. It added cruises to Svalbard on the Roald Amundsen and the 335-passenger Spitsbergen in early July.

    The trips only have been open to local travelers from select European countries. No Americans have been on board the vessels.

    “The safety of our guests and crews is Hurtigruten?s highest priority,” Hurtigruten spokesperson Rune Thomas Ege said in a statement posted at the line’s website. “We are working closely with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Tromsø municipality, [the University Hospital of North Norway] and other resources both locally and nationally.”

    Hurtigruten had implemented a wide range of new health and safety measures on Roald Amundsen and the other ships it brought back into operation, including enhanced cleaning, added medical screenings for passengers and crew and an end to buffets. All the vessels were operating at a sharply reduced capacity, below 50% of normal, to ensure social distancing.

    The measures were similar to what many lines have been touting as a way to keep coronavirus off ships.

    The Roald Amundsen trips included Zodiac landings for wildlife sightseeing in the Svalbard archipelago as well as kayaking and other expedition-related activities.

    Related: Cruises are restarting in the oddest of places, including the Arctic 

    Hurtigruten pioneered cruises to Svalbard in 1896.

    Cruises to Svalbard and other parts of the Arctic were thought to be somewhat simpler to run during a pandemic as they don?t involve much passenger interaction with other humans. The typical Arctic voyage is an expedition-style sailing that involves landings and Zodiac excursions to see wildlife, glaciers and floating ice formations.

    The Roald Amundsen currently is scheduled to begin sailings around the British Isles for U.K. residents in early September. Hurtigruten didn’t say whether those trips would go ahead.

    Hurtigruten is just one of several cruise companies in Europe that have been starting to bring back sailings since June. Until now, no cruise operators in North America have resumed sailings. But one small-ship cruise company, UnCruise Adventures, plans to resume trips out of Juneau, Alaska, on Saturday.

    Additional resources for cruisers during the coronavirus outbreak:

    Featured image courtesy of Hurtigruten

    Related
    Did cruise lines try to return to service too soon? [The Points Guy]
    A cruise for Generation Z? That’s the plan at one line [The Points Guy]
    The first US cruise company to resume sailings is having a COVID crisis — just 3 days after restarting service [The Points Guy]
    The new WFH: TPG staffers on how to master the art of working from anywhere (WFA) [The Points Guy]
    No fun for these ships: Carnival says 4 vessels won’t come back when cruising resumes [The Points Guy]
  • Amazon Says Police Demands For Customer Data Have Gone Up (1630 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 18:20:00 -0400Amazon Says Police Demands For Customer Data Have Gone UpSlashdot

    An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Amazon has said the number of demands for user data made by U.S. federal and local law enforcement have increased more during the first half of 2020 than during the same period a year earlier. The disclosure came in the company's latest transparency report, published Thursday. The figures show that Amazon received 23% more subpoenas and search warrants, and a 29% increase in court orders compared to the first half of 2019. That includes data collected from its Amazon.com retail storefront, Amazon Echo devices and its Kindle and Fire tablets. Breaking those figures down, Amazon said it received: 2,416 subpoenas, turning over all or partial user data in 70% of cases; 543 search warrants, turning over all or partial user data in 79% of cases; and 146 court orders, turning over all or partial user data in 74% of cases. Amazon also said it received between 0 and 249 national security requests, flat from previous reports. Justice Department rules on disclosing classified requests only allow companies to respond in numerical ranges. The number of requests to the company's cloud services, Amazon Web Services, also went up compared to a year earlier. But it's not clear what caused the rise in U.S. government demands for user data. As for the number of overseas requests, Amazon saw the number drop by about one-third compared to the same period a year earlier. "Amazon rejected 92% of the 177 overseas requests it received, turning over partial user data in 10 cases and all requested data in four cases," the report adds.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • COVID-19 Hospital Data Is a Hot Mess After Feds Take Control (1840 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 17:40:00 -0400COVID-19 Hospital Data Is a Hot Mess After Feds Take ControlSlashdot

    slack_justyb shares a report from Ars Technica: As COVID-19 hospitalizations in the US approach the highest levels seen in the pandemic so far, national efforts to track patients and hospital resources remain in shambles after the federal government abruptly seized control of data collection earlier this month. Watchdogs and public health experts were immediately aghast by the switch to the HHS database, fearing the data would be manipulated for political reasons or hidden from public view all together. However, the real threat so far has been the administrative chaos. The switch took effect July 15, giving hospitals and states just days to adjust to the new data collection and submission process. As such, hospitals have been struggling with the new data reporting, which involves reporting more types of data than the CDC's previous system. Generally, the data includes stats on admissions, discharges, beds and ventilators in use and in reserve, as well as information on patients. For some hospitals, that data has to be harvested from various sources, such as electronic medical records, lab reports, pharmacy data, and administrative sources. Some larger hospital systems have been working to write new scripts to automate new data mining, while others are relying on staff to compile the data manually into excel spreadsheets, which can take multiple hours each day, according to a report by Healthcare IT News. The task has been particularly onerous for small, rural hospitals and hospitals that are already strained by a crush of COVID-19 patients. "It seems the obvious of going from a system that is well tested, to something new and alien to everyone is happening exactly as everyone who has ever done these kinds of conversions predicted," adds Slashdot reader slack_justyb.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Showing Up Even When You?re Not Feeling It (3864 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 17:13:00 -0400Showing Up Even When You?re Not Feeling Itzenhabits

    By Leo Babauta

    Some days, you?re just not feeling it. It?s not that you?re exhausted, it?s that you?re not in the mood to do the important task that?s in front of you.

    You want to just go to distractions all day long, do anything but this thing you?re resisting.

    I get it. I have these days too. And sometimes, the answer is just rest.

    Other times, it?s useful to find a way to do the work anyway, because if we only do our important work when we feel like it, we might not ever get it done.

    It?s useful to learn to do it even when we?re not feeling it.

    But how do we do that?

    The Mistaken Belief

    Most of us have an expectation that we should feel in the mood to do something. We should be excited, rested, focused. And when we do it, it should be easy, comfortable, fun, pleasurable. Something like that.

    That results, predictably, in running from the things that feel hard, overwhelming, uncomfortable. It means that when we?re not feeling it, we are going to run to distractions and comforts. Nothing wrong with this, but it usually creates a life we?re not happy with.

    When we do the thing we don?t want to do, it is often uncomfortable or difficult. We feel like we?re forcing ourselves to do something we really don?t want to do, which can feel coercive.

    No wonder we avoid it! Who wants to feel coerced?

    But that comes from our belief that we should only do things when we?re feeling in the mood, and that things should be easy, comfortable and fun. That means we can never do anything hard.

    What if we could open to doing hard things, and maybe even loving them?

    Doing Hard Things When I?m Not Feeling It

    So for me, I try to notice when I have an expectation that I be in the mood, or that the thing be easy, fun, or comfortable. Just noticing the expectation allows me to choose.

    Once I?m in a place where I can choose ? I can decide that actually, it?s not just ?fine? that I do things that are uncomfortable when I?m not in the mood ? in fact, it?s an experience I choose to practice with.

    I choose to open myself to this work.

    I choose to move into something challenging, difficult, uncertain, uncomfortable. Just like I choose to do a workout or go for a run, even when they?re hard.

    And further ? I can actually love the experience. Sure, it might not seem like it ? but can you love a child when they?re being difficult? You might not love the way they?re being, but you can love them. You can love any of your friends or family when they?re difficult ? the way their being might not be your favorite, but you love them anyway.

    I can love writing this article, even if I?m not quite in the mood for it. I can change my experience, by being grateful that I get to write it. That I?m even alive right now! That I have so much love in my life that people want to read this.

    And I can see that some tasks are a brick in the larger building that I?m putting together. One brick at a time, I?m creating a meaningful future. I can wait to be happy when the building is done ? or I can love every single freaking brick. I choose to love the brick, and the laying of that brick.

    Many of our most meaningful experiences are difficult. Running a marathon, giving birth to a child, creating anything important or meaningful. These are not easy experiences, and yet, they?re more meaningful because they?re not easy. Would we rob ourselves of these meaningful experiences by shying away from their difficulty?

    So the training is to 1) notice the expectation that has me shying away from the work, and 2) open myself up to the meaningful experience of that work, despite its difficulty, despite my not feeling it.

    There?s something beautiful that happens when you do something even when you?re not feeling it.

  • Spotify CEO: Musicians Can No Longer Release Music Only 'Once Every 3-4 Years' (1390 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 17:00:00 -0400Spotify CEO: Musicians Can No Longer Release Music Only 'Once Every 3-4 Years'Slashdot

    In a recent interview with Music Ally, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek denied criticisms that Spotify pays insufficient royalties to artists, and insisted that the role of the musician had changed in today's "future landscape." The FADER reports: Ek claimed that a "narrative fallacy" had been created and caused music fans to believe that Spotify doesn't pay musicians enough for streams of their music. "Some artists that used to do well in the past may not do well in this future landscape," Ek said, "where you can't record music once every three to four years and think that's going to be enough." What is required from successful musicians, Ek insisted, is a deeper, more consistent, and prolonged commitment than in the past. "The artists today that are making it realize that it's about creating a continuous engagement with their fans. It is about putting the work in, about the storytelling around the album, and about keeping a continuous dialogue with your fans." Ek alleged that artists have said "many times" in private that they are happy with their royalties from Spotify, and said that he believes that musicians who cannot make a living may not be in step with modern standards. "I feel, really, that the ones that aren't doing well in streaming are predominantly people who want to release music the way it used to be released," Ek said.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Canon says 'first set' of EOS R5 units shipped out this week, quieting rumors over delays (1777 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 16:43:00 -0400Canon says 'first set' of EOS R5 units shipped out this week, quieting rumors over delaysNews: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

    Over the past few days, there have been numerous reports Canon is delaying shipments of its EOS R5 camera and that retailers weren?t receiving shipments as expected. While Canon Japan did mention there could be delays due to demand earlier this month, these reports suggested several retailers in the UK and throughout Europe weren?t receiving as many cameras as they had expected.

    Until today, only Canon Australia had issued a statement on the matter to Newsshooter, saying the ?speculations are untrue.? Now, Canon U.S.A. has issued its first statement on the matter, confirming EOS R5 units were shipped from its warehouses this week and on the way to photographers.

    In the statement, shared with DPReview through a Canon spokesperson, Canon U.S.A. writes:

    ?Orders of the EOS R5 are scheduled to be delivered as initially stated at launch. The first set of cameras shipped from our warehouses this week. We eagerly await the content that will be produced by talented creatives using this camera to be shared with the world.?

    Canon U.S.A. specifically mentions the ?first set of cameras,? but doesn?t specify the status of the second installment in its statement(according to a few of the rumors, it?s the second installment that could be delayed).

    We have contacted Canon U.S.A. in hopes of receiving further confirmation of future shipments and potential delays involved with its EOS R5 and EOS R6 camera systems. We will update the article accordingly if we receive a response.

    In regards to future shipments, a Canon U.S.A. spokesperson has told DPReview 'shipping is as scheduled right now, with no delays.'

    Update (July 31, 2020): We updated the article with a statement from a Canon U.S.A. spokesperson regarding future shipments.

    Related
    Canon Responds: There is No Delay in EOS R5 Shipments [PetaPixel]
  • Carry-on restrictions: What not to bring on a plane (7029 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 16:30:00 -0400Carry-on restrictions: What not to bring on a planeMillion Mile Secrets

    As airlines work to reduce their operating costs, passengers are finding themselves on the hook for fees that used to come standard with their airfare, for things like checked bags and seat selection.

    For that reason, frugal travelers pack as much as they can into their carry-on bags, hoping to avoid hefty checked luggage fees. This isn’t much of a concern if you pack light, but you may face problems if you want to bring something on board that’s restricted by TSA.

    So what can you bring on a plane? Find out in our ultimate guide to carry-on restrictions.

    What items are restricted from being brought on a plane?

    As you might expect, TSA won’t let you carry on items that could pose a danger to anybody on board — but what else is prohibited? Let’s take a quick look at examples of what you should either leave at home or tuck away into your checked bag.

    Liquids, Gels, and Aerosols

    If you’re traveling with just a carry-on, you’re probably going to need to bring some liquids, gels, or aerosols through security, but there are strict rules around how much you can take. To make it easy, remember the 3-1-1 Rule:

    • 3.4-ounce containers. Each of your liquids, gels, aerosols, creams, and pastes need to be in travel-sized containers no bigger than 3.4 ounces (or 100 milliliters).
    • One clear quart-sized resealable bag. You’ll need to remove this bag from your carry-on during security screening.
    • One bag of liquids per person. If you need more, pack them in your checked luggage.

    Flammable Materials

    For the most part, you can’t bring anything that could potentially create a fire or an explosion. Unsurprisingly, items like fireworks, gasoline, and butane are off-limits. However, cigarettes, cigars and cigarette lighters (like disposable and Zippo lighters) are permitted.

    Firearms and Sharp Objects

    Items that could potentially be used to cause harm (including firearms and sharp objects) should stay out of your carry-on bag, even if you’re legally allowed to carry them on the street. This includes swiss army knives, box cutters, ammunition and guns.

    Medications and Medical Supplies

    Even if you won’t need them on board, it’s always smart to keep your prescriptions and essential medical supplies in your carry-on in case your bag goes missing or is delayed. But be aware that you’ll need to label your supplies and declare them to TSA during your security screening — especially if you’re bringing things like insulin, syringes, or large quantities of liquid medications.

    For the full list of what can and can’t be brought on an aircraft, check out the TSA’s website.

    What items should you avoid bringing on a plane?

    Just because you can bring something on a plane, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should (that is, if you can avoid it). While the following items that are officially allowed by TSA, you might get held up at security if you pack them. Let’s take a look at some examples.

    Replica or toy weapons

    While some toy guns are technically allowed through security, TSA advises passengers to keep these types of items in their checked luggage if possible. Simply put, it’s not worth the hassle of getting stopped by TSA because they’ve identified what looks like a gun or weapon in your carry-on bag.

    Household tools

    TSA prevents passengers from bringing most household tools on planes since they could be used as weapons. Smaller tools (less than 7 inches when assembled) are allowed, but you’ll likely face a bit of extra scrutiny while making your way through security. Even if you’re just bringing a mini screwdriver, you might want to save yourself the headache and pack it in your checked baggage.

    Certain food and drinks

    If you’re flying domestically, you shouldn’t run into any problems if you want to pack solid snacks, like pretzels, crackers, or hard candy. But if you’re going to bring any liquid-based foods, like jam, peanut butter, or creamy cheese, you’ll have to follow the 3-1-1 rule. The same goes for beverages. You’re free to bring mini bottles of alcohol (if they’re less than 3.4 ounces), but you should note that airlines prohibit you from drinking them onboard (whether they actually enforce that is another question).

    What sized bag is considered a carry on?

    You might be surprised to learn that TSA doesn’t have any official rules about what sized bag is considered a carry-on. Instead, that determination is up to individual airlines. However, you shouldn’t expect to get past security with a bag that clearly won’t fit in an overhead bin.

    Before your flight, check your airline’s website to find out what their size requirements are for carry-on bags. In general, you should be safe if your bag meets the following dimensions:

    • Length: 22 inches
    • Width: 14 inches
    • Height: 9 inches

    If you’re trying to avoid paying additional fees, it’s wise to stick to these guidelines. Otherwise, if you get to the airport and your bag doesn’t adhere to airline carry-on restrictions, you’ll probably have to pay to check your bag.

    If you’re flying with an ultra low-cost carrier like Spirit or Frontier, you’ll want to check the airline’s policies regarding carry-on bags. In most cases, you’ll be able to bring a personal item (like a small backpack or purse), but you’ll need to pay extra to bring a carry-on suitcase or a bag of similar size. You’ll also be subject to these rules if you’ve booked a basic economy fare on a United Airlines domestic flight unless you’re a MileagePlus Premier member or Star Alliance Gold member, or you’ve reserved your ticket with a co-branded United credit card. Many co-branded airline credit cards offer free checked luggage perks, which can be a way to avoid fees for carry-on or checked bags. Additionally, travel credit cards offer travel credits that can cover the cost of airline incidental purchases.

    Unlike many international airlines, US-based carriers don’t enforce limits on how much your carry-on can weigh. The only exception is Frontier Airlines, which imposes a 35-pound weight limit on all carry-on bags.

    Bottom line

    If you want to get through your security screening faster (and who doesn’t?), it’s essential to be familiar with the TSA and airline carry-on regulations. Play if safe by abiding by the 3-1-1 rule and checking anything that you don’t absolutely need or that could be considered dangerous.

    If you’re a frequent traveler, you might also want to enroll in TSA PreCheck or CLEAR to get to your gate faster. With TSA PreCheck, you’ll have access to shorter security lines and bypass the standard security protocol, like removing your liquids or laptop from your bag or taking off your shoes.

    Related
    Frontier Airlines baggage policies and fees [Million Mile Secrets]
    Full guide to Flying Spirit Airlines [Million Mile Secrets]
    American Airlines baggage fees and policies: Here’s what you need to know [Million Mile Secrets]
  • Facebook Says Apple's iOS 14 Changes Could Hurt Its Ad Targeting (1186 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 16:20:00 -0400Facebook Says Apple's iOS 14 Changes Could Hurt Its Ad TargetingSlashdot

    An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Facebook Chief Financial Officer David Wehner said on Thursday that upcoming changes to Apple's iOS 14 operating system could hurt the social network's ability to target ads to users. With the update to its mobile devices, Apple will ask users if they want to let app developers track their activity across other apps and websites. Apple has not said when iOS 14 will launch, but it's expected to roll out this year. "We're still trying to understand what these changes will look like and how they will impact us and the rest of the industry, but at the very least, it's going to make it harder for app developers and others to grow using ads on Facebook and elsewhere," Wehner said. Until now, advertisers could use a device ID number called the IDFA to better target ads and estimate their effectiveness. In iOS 14, each app that wants to use these identifiers will ask users to opt-in to tracking when the app is first launched. The change is expected to start impacting Facebook's advertising in the third quarter but it will have a more pronounced effect in the fourth quarter, Wehner said.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Canon Responds: There is No Delay in EOS R5 Shipments (1999 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 16:13:00 -0400Canon Responds: There is No Delay in EOS R5 ShipmentsPetaPixel

    Following yesterday’s reports from Canon Rumors and EOSHD about delays in shipping of the EOS R5 to retailers, Canon has released a statement to set the record straight. There is no delay, says Canon. The first shipment is going out this week, as promised.

    The statement was prompted primarily by a report published by EOSHD citing several retail sources in Europe and the UK who had received extremely limited quantities of the EOS R5 ahead of the official ship date. That report was corroborated by Canon Rumors, whose sources indicated that the second allocation of EOS R5 cameras might not arrive at retailers until November?a 4 month delay that CR characterized as “unheard of.”

    This led to speculation that there may be a recall in the works in order to implement a possible hardware fix for the camera’s thermal limitations, which Canon has been very transparent about from the start.

    However, according to Canon USA, there is nothing to these reports, and they should be ignored. In a statement that we received just moments ago over email, Canon makes it clear that the initial shipment is going out as scheduled.

    You can read the full statement for yourself below:

    Orders of the EOS R5 are scheduled to be delivered as initially stated at launch. The first set of cameras shipped from our warehouses this week. We eagerly await the content that will be produced by talented creatives using this camera to be shared with the world.

    This directly contradicts EOSHD‘s claim that retailers are not receiving shipments as promised.

    No doubt the debate will still rage on. The statement doesn’t directly address when the second allocation of cameras will go out, and it doesn’t touch on the recall speculation directly, but the fact that the first shipment is going out as scheduled should quash any rumors that a recall is actively in the works.

    Related
    Canon says 'first set' of EOS R5 units shipped out this week, quieting rumors over delays [News: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)]
  • Air Canada threatens to cancel Airbus A220 order if government doesn?t ease restrictions (3826 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 16:00:00 -0400Air Canada threatens to cancel Airbus A220 order if government doesn?t ease restrictionsThe Points Guy

    Air Canada is fed up with the Canadian government’s travel restrictions and is threatening to cancel its order for the made-in-Canada Airbus A220 to get them eased.

    A combination of international arrival restrictions, including the closure of the U.S.-Canada border, plus internal restrictions and quarantines has hit the Montreal-based carrier hard, said Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu during a second quarter earnings call Friday. On top of this, the Canadian government has provided minimal financial support beyond an employee wage subsidy program.

    ?Without government industry support and as travel restrictions are extended, we will look at other opportunities to reduce costs and capital, including further route suspensions and possible cancellations of Boeing and Airbus aircraft on order,” he said.

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

    Key to Rovinescu’s threat is Air Canada’s order for 38 A220-300s — it already flies seven of the jets. The jets were designed by Montreal-based Bombardier and acquired by Airbus in 2018, and are assembled at Montreal Mirabel (YMX) airport. A plant that employs hundreds of Canadians.

    Air Canada has already dropped eight smaller Canadian cities from its map and ended service on 30 routes due to COVID-19. Many believe the map paring is part of the airline’s ongoing campaign to get the government to ease restrictions and provide some form of aid.

    The airline reported a net loss of Canadian dollar 1.75 billion ($1.28 billion) in the second quarter. Passenger traffic fell by nearly 97% compared to the same three-month period in 2019.

    Related: Air Canada drops 8 cities from route map amid coronavirus adjustments

    Air Canada reports a C$1.75b net loss in 2Q20.

    Revenues fell 89% to C$527mn, and capacity was down 92% vs 2Q19. https://t.co/ptMTIQvjGg

    ? Edward Russell (@byerussell) July 31, 2020

    Air Canada does not envision a market where all travel restrictions are lifted. Citing the continuing pandemic, Rovinescu called for lesser “science-based measures” based on the European Union model. This could allow some travel to resume while presumably keeping the virus at bay.

    Despite threatening its order, Air Canada still envisions the A220 as central to its future fleet and map. The airline’s chief commercial officer Lucie Guillemette said Thursday July 30 the jet will be a “cornerstone of some of our longer term recovery.”

    Both the plane’s capabilities, which includes added range and improved efficiency compared to older aircraft its size, and positive customer feedback have exceeded Air Canada’s expectations, she added.

    Related: First look onboard Air Canada?s first Airbus A220

    The carrier introduced the A220 in January, debuting it on flights between Montreal Trudeau (YUL) and Calgary (YYC). TPG’s Zach Griff called the jet a “joy to fly” after riding on the inaugural sortie.

    Air Canada has moved forward with plans to retire 79 jets from its fleet. It removed all 30 of its Boeing 767s — including the 25 at its budget arm Rouge — as well as its remaining 14 Embraer E190s and six Airbus A319s, between April and June, a quarterly financial filing shows. Another 29 of its A319s are slated for retirement in the next few months.

    ?Although we will emerge smaller with fewer aircraft, fewer people and fewer cities served? we will be nimbler and more competitive,” said Rovinescu.

    Related: Global air travel unlikely to recover until 2024 as COVID remains ?issue? in US, elsewhere

    E.T. was apparently a pop culture sensation when Air Canada received its first 767 https://t.co/mG9bKSIV5L pic.twitter.com/qvvNzY4itW

    ? Edward Russell (@byerussell) June 4, 2020

    Featured image by Edward Russell/TPG.

    Related
    Boeing’s bad quarter: Company delays 777X, 737 MAX timeline as COVID hits business [The Points Guy]
    TPG exclusive: Frontier Airlines CEO says ‘it’s time to fly,’ fate of recovery rests with travelers [The Points Guy]
  • MegaX ultra-slow-motion 4D camera records pulse of light bouncing between mirrors (2870 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 15:48:00 -0400MegaX ultra-slow-motion 4D camera records pulse of light bouncing between mirrorsNews: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

    Using an ultra-slow-motion camera that records at 24,000 frame-per-second, researchers with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPLF) were able to capture a pulse of light as it bounced between a series of aligned mirrors.

    According to EPFL School of Engineering's Advanced Quantum Architecture Laboratory head Edoardo Charbon, the MegaX camera behind this new video is the by-product of around 15 years of single-photon avalanche diodes (SPADs) research.

    Ordinarily speaking, light is not visible during flight, but the photons do shed particles into the air that, using the right hardware and software, can be captured as in the video shown above. The light was recorded using MegaX, a camera that can produce 3D representations and 'perform in-depth segmentation of those representations,' EPFL explains.

    The camera likewise has a very fast shutter speed -- up to 3.8 nanoseconds -- plus it has a very large dynamic range. As well, the pixel size offered by the MegaX is around 10 times larger than a standard digital camera's pixel size at 9 µm -- though the team is working to reduce this size down to 2.2 µm.

    When talking about MegaX earlier this year, Charbon explained that the camera works by converting photons into electrical signals. Of note, this camera is able to measure how long it takes a photon to strike its sensor, giving it distance information; this feature is commonly known as time-of-flight.

    By combining the typical three dimensions with time-of-flight, MegaX is something of a 4D camera, giving it capabilities beyond that of the average camera.

    A new study published on July 18 builds upon this past research, detailing the first time scientists have captured 4D light-in-flight imagery using the time-gated megapixel SPAD camera technology. This is in contrast to 3D light-in-flight capture, which has been achieved using different varieties of camera hardware.

    The study explains that to capture the bouncing pulse of light, a machine learning technique took the place of other functions that may have otherwise been utilized, such as dark noise subtraction and interpolation. The process involved using time-of-flight and trajectory data combined with machine learning algorithms to plot the 3D path of the light.

    Charbon recently explained to Digital Trends that this new study details the use of machine learning and the 4D data to reconstruct the position of the light pulses. Though this may be something of a novelty to the average person, the technology could eventually be utilized in everything from robotic vision to physics and virtual reality systems.

    Of note, the researcher explained that all of the processes involved in capturing the bouncing light pulse were done on the MegaX camera. An abstract of the study is available here; the public can also access the full PDF of the study here.

  • A Florida Teen Just Got Arrested for Twitter's Huge Hack (1089 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 15:40:00 -0400A Florida Teen Just Got Arrested for Twitter's Huge HackSlashdot

    In a press conference on Friday, US authorities announced they arrested the main suspect behind this month's major Twitter hack. From a report: The suspected hacker was identified as Graham Ivan Clark, a 17-year-old teen from Hillsborough County, Florida. According to Florida news outlet WFLA-TV, which first reported on the arrest, Clark was arrested earlier this morning, following a nationwide collaboration between the FBI, the IRS, the DOJ, and the Secret Service. Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren filed charges against Clark for being the "mastermind" behind the July 15 Twitter incident, when the teen is believed to have gained access to Twitter's backend, took over several high-profile accounts, and tweeted on their behalf to promote a cryptocurrency scam. The list of hacked accounts includes big names like Barrack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Apple, Uber, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Michael Bloomberg, and others. Further reading: Twitter Says High-Profile Hack Was the Result of a Phishing Attack.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • JetBlue launches Pennies for Points: Should you ?buy? points for 2 cents apiece? (3045 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 15:30:00 -0400JetBlue launches Pennies for Points: Should you ?buy? points for 2 cents apiece?The Points Guy

    Credit card issuers have been getting creative in how they can retain cardholder value during the pandemic. In the past few months, we’ve seen dozens of limited-time credit card perks, including elevated bonus categories, statement credits and more.

    Now, JetBlue is back with another one of these perks for select JetBlue Plus cardholders with the launch of Pennies for Points.

    Pennies for Points gives targeted cardholders the opportunity to round up purchases to the nearest dollar and turn the spare change into TrueBlue points. While it sounds like an innovative feature, whether it’s actually valuable is another question.

    For more TPG news and deals delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

    Pennies for Points overview

    Pennies for Points is a new pilot program available to select JetBlue Plus cardholders. With it, cardholders can round up purchases to the nearest dollar and essentially buy points at a rate of 2 cents per point.

    For example, if you charge $8.20 to your card, the purchase gets rounded up to $9. In exchange for the extra $0.80, you’ll receive 40 bonus points.

    The pilot will run from now through Oct. 31, 2020. Targeted cardholders must activate the feature through the Barclays site to participate. If you decide to participate, you can choose the maximum amount you want to round up during each statement period.

    Related: JetBlue Plus Card review

    Is it worth it?

    Unfortunately, this feature isn’t as valuable as it might sound. Pennies for Points allows you to essentially buy TrueBlue points for 2 cents apiece. That’s higher than TPG?s valuation of TrueBlue points at 1.3 cents and since the points have a fairly fixed value, you?re not going to get much more than this from any TrueBlue redemption.

    You could argue that the 2-cent price tag is lower than the usual 2.8-3.5 cents JetBlue usually charges to buy points. However, the airline routinely runs buy-points promotions where you can acquire them for as low as 1.71 cents apiece. We also typically don’t recommend buying points unless you have a specific redemption in mind and are just short of the points you need.

    Keep in mind, JetBlue is a transfer partner of all the major transferable points programs ? American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Capital One. So you can easily top off your balance if you carry a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred CardCapital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card or The Platinum Card® from American Express.

    Related: The complete guide to the JetBlue TrueBlue program

    Bottom line

    While it’s nice that JetBlue is trying to make it easier to collect points without flying, charging 2 cents apiece for them isn’t very enticing. JetBlue offered cobranded cardholders a much better deal earlier in the summer where every purchase earned 2x TrueBlue points.

    Related: A guide to navigating COVID card bonuses and benefits

    Featured image by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

  • Microsoft in Talks To Buy TikTok, as Trump Weighs Curtailing App (1395 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 15:02:00 -0400Microsoft in Talks To Buy TikTok, as Trump Weighs Curtailing AppSlashdot

    Microsoft is in talks to acquire TikTok, the Chinese-owned video app, New York Times reported Friday, citing a person with knowledge of the discussions, as President Trump said on Friday that he was considering taking steps that would effectively ban the app from the United States. From a report: It's unclear how advanced the talks between Microsoft and TikTok are, but any deal could help alter TikTok's ownership, said the person with knowledge of the talks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese internet company that is valued at $100 billion. That has raised scrutiny of the app, with Trump administration officials saying that they have been concerned that TikTok poses a threat to national security. The Trump administration has been weighing whether to order ByteDance to divest from American assets it acquired in 2017, which were later merged into TikTok. Bloomberg reported Friday that the president was poised to announce an order that would force ByteDance to sell TikTok's U.S. operations. The Trump administration has also been weighing other potential actions against the company, including adding ByteDance to a so-called "entity list," which prevents foreign companies from purchasing American products and services without a special license, according to people familiar with the matter.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Boris FX Optics Brings Cinematic Visual Effects to Photoshop and Lightroom (3186 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 14:59:00 -0400Boris FX Optics Brings Cinematic Visual Effects to Photoshop and LightroomPetaPixel

    Academy and Emmy Award-winning software developer Boris FX is dipping its toes in the world of still photography with “Optics”: a new standalone application and plugin suite that brings some of the company’s feature film visual effects to the world of photo editing.

    Optics is described as “the definitive digital toolbox for photos,” but what it offers is maybe better described as a comprehensive mishmash of filters, presets, lighting effects and lens flares… with some masking technology thrown in for good measure. It’s honestly hard to tell what Optics is primarily meant to do, because it does so much.

    The list of features includes:

    • 160 total filters that simulate optical glass cameras, specialized lenses, film stocks, lens flares, optical lab processes, grain, exacting color correction, natural light, and photographic effects
    • 75 Boris FX Sapphire filters to create stunning organic looks with superior image quality and creative control. Filters include lens flares, light leaks, glow, night sky, clouds, luna (moon), zap (lightning), free lens, rack defocus, digital damage, and more.
    • 294 color and B&W still photography film stocks, motion picture film stocks, and historical photography processes
    • 89 color grading presets from Academy Award-nominated movies including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Apocalypse Now, Blade Runner, Back to the Future, Frankenstein, Gone with the Wind, King Kong, Saving Private Ryan, and Titanic
    • 751 gobo lighting effects categorized into abstract, doors, elements, foliage, snowflakes, textures, and windows groups

    All of this is available as either a plugin for Photoshop and Lightroom, or as a standalone application that comes with a layer system for stacking multiple effects, a non-destructive editing workflow, and the ability to batch process your images. Plus an ‘advanced masking tool’ they call EZ Mask.

    Here’s a quick video intro to Boris FX Optics that goes over all of the available filters, effects, and masking tools so you can see how it works IRL:

    What sets Optics apart from other collections of filters, lighting packs, and film emulation plugins comes down to the experience Boris FX has in the world of filmmaking, and the professional-grade lighting effects that they ported over from their Sapphire VFX plugins.

    ?Optics marks the first collaboration between our DFT (Digital Film Tools) and Sapphire product teams ? delivering powerful digital photography tools for creative pros,? explains Boris Yamnitsky, Founder and CEO of Boris FX. ?Photographers now have access to the same lens flares, glows, and lighting effects used on Hollywood blockbusters, TV shows, and music videos. The inclusion of Sapphire?s popular effects inside Photoshop provides a missing bridge between video and print design.?

    If you’re curious and want to try out Optics, you can learn more about the plugin and/or download a free trial on the Boris FX website. And if you actually want to buy a copy for yourself, you can purchase a permanent license for $149, an annual subscription for $99, or a monthly subscription for $9.

  • Netflix is Letting People Watch Things Faster or Slower With New Playback Speed Controls (1607 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 14:41:00 -0400Netflix is Letting People Watch Things Faster or Slower With New Playback Speed ControlsSlashdot

    Netflix is letting people choose the speed at which they want to watch something on their phone or tablet with new playback controls. From a report: Netflix will allow anyone on an Android mobile device to stream at either 0.5x or 0.75x speeds for slowed-down viewing and 1.25x or 1.5x speeds for faster watching. Those are slightly fewer options than YouTube, which allows people to slow all the way down to 0.25x speeds, and speed up by twice the normal playback speed. Playback speed options are also available on downloaded titles that people have saved for offline viewing. Subscribers must opt in to use the playback speeds with every single title they want to watch; it won't just remain active when you pick something else to watch. This prevents people from accidentally watching everything at 1.5x speed if they don't want to. The feature is rolling out tomorrow and will be available to everyone globally in the coming weeks. Netflix announced it was testing the feature in 2019 and was met with backlash from Hollywood's creative community. Actor Aaron Paul and director Brad Bird spoke out against Netflix's decision to introduce the playback controls, and director Judd Apatow tweeted in October that "distributors don't get to change the way the content is presented." Netflix's team is introducing a number of features with the rollout to try to work with the creative community to ensure the quality of the content isn't disrupted, including automatically correcting "the pitch in the audio at faster and slower speeds," according to the company.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Fare war: United and Alaska drop transcontinental business fares to $368 one-way (6742 characters)

    Fri, 31 Jul 2020 14:30:00 -0400Fare war: United and Alaska drop transcontinental business fares to $368 one-wayThe Points Guy

    Editor?s note: As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials? guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.

    JetBlue?s Mint effect is real. The airline is launching new transcontinental flights out of Newark (EWR) soon, and it’s already driving down the prices in the market.

    Last week, we told you about JetBlue Mint flights from Newark to Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) available from $368 each way. Today, we’re seeing that United and Alaska Airlines are matching these fares. Even better, the low fares are now available through the end of the schedule in June 2021, including major holidays like Thanksgiving and New Year’s. JetBlue’s deal wasn’t as widespread originally.

    For more TPG news and deals delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

    If you’re considering booking this deal, you’ll probably want to pick United over Alaska. United offers lie-flat seats in business class on all its premium coast-to-coast flights, whereas Alaska only offers standard recliner seats. Most flights on this route are operated by United?s 757-200s with business class seats arranged in a 2-2 configuration. However, there are a few flights a day operated by United?s 787-10s. These planes feature United?s new Polaris business class seats, which are a huge upgrade over the older seats, so you?ll want to try snag a seat one of those flights.

    If there are low JetBlue Mint fares available for your dates then that’d be a great pick, too. While Mint doesn’t come with lounge access, it’s one of the best domestic premium cabins for onboard social distancing. Of the 16 seats in the Mint cabin, four of them are individual suites. Rows 2 and 4 are arranged in a 1-1 configuration and each suite has two large tables, as well as a door.

    Should I book travel now?

    There is a risk with booking travel now, since there is no way to guarantee when it will be safe to travel again. The CDC has a strong warning against any nonessential travel within the United States. While we hope things will return to normal quickly, there has been a surge in COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

    While all states have at least partially reopened, several have a mandatory, 14-day quarantine order in effect for visitors. If you’re booking this deal, know that New York and New Jersey have mandatory quarantines for travelers entering from high-risk states ? including California. If the situation does not get better soon, you may end up being forced to change or cancel your trip.

    Related: New York expands quarantine restrictions to 36 total U.S. states and territories

    New York's travel advisory has been extended to Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.

    Individuals traveling to New York from states with high infection rates are required to quarantine for 14 days.

    See the full list of states:https://t.co/SzX9s3Z6Tl

    — Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) July 28, 2020

    It’s also important to understand the cancellation and rebooking policies for any airfare you book. Fortunately, with any new United bookings made by Aug. 31, 2020 ? along with Alaska and JetBlue bookings made by Sept. 8 ? there is a good amount of flexibility. All of the airlines are allowing tickets to be changed or canceled for no fee. If rebooking, you’ll pay the difference between the original and new fare. If you cancel, you’ll enjoy a voucher or flight credit that can be put toward a new reservation.

    Related: Airline coronavirus change and cancellation policies

    Transcon business class flight deals currently available

    Airlines: Alaska, JetBlue, United
    Routes: Newark (EWR) to/from Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO)
    Cost: $368+ one-way in business class
    Travel Dates: July 2020 ? June 2021

    Pay With: The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on airfare booked directly with the airline), Citi Prestige® Card (5x on airfare), Citi Premier? Card (3x on airfare), Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x on travel), American Express® Gold Card (3x on airfare booked directly with the airline or amextravel.com) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on travel)

    The information for the Citi Premier and the Citi Prestige card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

    Sample itineraries

    Here?s a look at some of the best deals you could book. This isn?t an exhaustive list, so you may be able to find deals between other cities as well.

    Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles (LAX) for $368 one-way nonstop on United in business class

    Los Angeles (LAX) to Newark (EWR) for $368 one-way nonstop on United in business class

    Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles (LAX) for $388 one-way nonstop on Alaska in first class

    Newark (EWR) to San Francisco (SFO) for $398 one-way nonstop on United in business class

    Newark (EWR) to San Francisco (SFO) to for $398 one-way nonstop on JetBlue Mint

    How to book

    It’s easy to book one of these deals. Just head to Google Flights and plug in your desired departure and destination cities. Filter your search to only show nonstop flights and select business class. Then, use the calendar function to find dates and prices that work for you and then click through to book with the airline directly or an OTA such as Expedia or Priceline.

    Maximize your purchase

    Don?t forget to use a credit card that earns bonus points on airfare purchases, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel), Citi Prestige® Card (5x on airfare), Chase Sapphire ReserveAmerican Express® Gold CardCiti Premier? Card (3x on travel) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on all travel purchases).

    Check out this post for more on maximizing airfare purchases.

    Featured image by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

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