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  • Captain Kirk Safely Goes To Space and Back (845 characters)

    Wed, 13 Oct 2021 17:10:00 -0400Captain Kirk Safely Goes To Space and BackSlashdot

    New submitter pele writes: Captain Kirk alias William Shatner has just safely completed his first trip to space and back, and in the process has become the oldest person ever to have been to space. More news and coverage at BBC and Evening Standard. Blue Origin took the 90-year-old just about 60 miles (100km) above the Earth's surface where those aboard got to experience a short period of weightlessness. The trip only lasted about 10 minutes. "Everybody in the world needs to do this," the Canadian actor told Mr Bezos after landing back on Earth. "It was unbelievable." In tears, he added: "What you have given me is the most profound experience. I'm so filled with emotion about what just happened. I hope I never recover from this. I hope I can retain what I feel now. I don't want to lose it."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Activision Unveils Ricochet Anti-cheat System for Call of Duty (1827 characters)

    Wed, 13 Oct 2021 16:49:00 -0400Activision Unveils Ricochet Anti-cheat System for Call of DutySlashdot

    Activision unveiled its Ricochet anti-cheat system for Call of Duty games as it tries to attack a longstanding cheating problem that has frustrated a lot of players. From a report: The new system will get rid of players cheating in Call of Duty: Warzone later this year and it will debut with Call of Duty: Vanguard, the new premium game coming on multiple platforms on November 5. Activision, whose parent company Activision Blizzard has been sued for having an alleged toxic culture of its own, said in its announcement that cheating in Call of Duty is frustrating for players, developers, and the entire community. The anti-cheat team has made great strides in fighting this persistent issue that affects so many, but the company said it knows more must be done. Ricochet is supported by a team of dedicated professionals focused on fighting unfair play. The Ricochet anti-cheat initiative is a multi-faceted approach to combat cheating, featuring new server-side tools which monitor analytics to identify cheating, enhanced investigation processes to stamp out cheaters, updates to strengthen account security, and more. Ricochet's backend anti-cheat security features will launch alongside Call of Duty: Vanguard, and later this year with the Pacific update coming to Call of Duty: Warzone. In addition to server enhancements coming with Ricochet is a new PC kernel-level driver, developed internally for the Call of Duty franchise, and launching first for Call of Duty: Warzone. This driver will assist in the identification of cheaters, reinforcing and strengthening the overall server security. The kernel-level driver launches alongside the Pacific update for Warzone later this year. Further reading: Cheat Maker Is Not Afraid of Call of Duty's New Kernel-Level Anti-Cheat.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Vivo X70 Pro+ Review: An Encore Ready to Take on the Best (20328 characters)

    Wed, 13 Oct 2021 16:47:00 -0400Vivo X70 Pro+ Review: An Encore Ready to Take on the BestPetaPixel

    Vivo believes it has a smartphone worthy of being the best in the industry, and the results from its camera system lend some credence to that claim.

    Mentioning the name ?Vivo? as a phone brand to many in North America will often be met with a blank stare. Availability is still a major factor in this part of the world, whereas it has built a following in markets like China and India. Vivo is part of a wave of innovation in mobile photography coming from Asia, and the X70 Pro+ is one of the key devices looking to lead the way.

    It?s also the second flagship the company has released in 2021, and the X70 Pro+ comes only about eight months after it launched the X60 Pro+. That phone was the first to highlight Vivo?s partnership with Zeiss, with a focus on the camera system?s hardware as the key driver. This phone is the reverse, where the software is the defining point to shore up what the X70 Pro+ hardware is capable of.

    Vivo still emblazons its flagship with the words, ?professional photography,? to indicate its lofty intentions. Whether it meets them or not depends on how you utilize the various tools within the X70 Pro+.

    Design and Build

    Vivo went bigger with this phone, stretching the AMOLED screen to a large 6.78-inches, making it both taller and wider than its predecessor. The screen gets a 2K resolution bump to 3,200 x 1,440, addressing a limitation from the X60 Pro+. It doesn?t hurt to have peak brightness of 1500 nits and either 60Hz or 120Hz screen refresh rates, which can be done automatically through the Smart Switch option (it?s on by default, and better for battery life).

    Interestingly, the company also went with a matte finish on the back in lieu of the faux vegan leather of the X60 Pro+. Moreover, it includes a thin bumper case — with a textured leather-style back — in the box to add some protection. It?s hardly rugged, but it does at least keep the rear camera bump a little safer from being totally exposed.

    Finally, Vivo saw to it to add wireless charging to its best phone, something sorely missing from the X60 Pro+. Under the hood, the X70 Pro+ runs on the same Snapdragon 888 processor, and my review unit had the same 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. There are variants with 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage as well. The storage part matters, since there?s no memory card slot. Shoot a lot in RAW, or edit photos in bunches, and it adds up.

    The Extended RAM feature from the previous model also comes back, only there?s a little extra this time. It takes 4GB (instead of 3GB) of idle storage as memory when the system needs a boost, particularly with multitasking or memory-intensive tasks. I never had an idea if it ever kicked in while I was testing this phone.

    If there?s one thing that holds this phone back in North America, it may be the lack of support for 5G. It doesn?t work with the Sub-6 and mmWave bands operating in this part of the world, so if you?re cool with 4G LTE, then you will have no problem on that front.

    Camera Features

    Zeiss?s T* Coating only applied to the main camera on the X60 Pro+, but here, it?s on the entire array. The promise is the same, which is to reduce reflections, stray light, ghosting, and other image artifacts. Vivo claims it also upgraded the glass lenses to ?ensure extra-low dispersion for improved image quality.?

    The X70 Pro+ uses the same rear camera array as its predecessor, except for one particular difference. What is definitely the same is the 50-megapixel main camera (23mm equivalent), which retains the same 1/1.3-inch Ultra-sensing Samsung ISOCELL GN1 sensor with an f/1.57 aperture. It also retains the 100-megapixel High-Resolution mode to maximize the size of the sensor.

    The 48-megapixel ultra-wide camera (14mm equivalent) uses the same Sony IMX598 sensor, including a 114-degree field of view. A newer addition is the Gimbal embedded in it, which uses Vivo?s own 360-degree Horizon Leveling Stabilization technology to steady both still images and video as you shoot them.

    Things start to differ in the two telephoto lenses. Rather than bring back the 32-megapixel telephoto that was for portraits in the X60 Pro+, Vivo opted to go with a 12-megapixel Sony IMX663 sensor. It maintains the 2x optical zoom (50mm equivalent), yet has a much wider aperture at f/1.6 (vs. f/2.1), larger 1.22 Micron pixels (vs. 0.8), and has optical image stabilization (as opposed to not having it at all). The 8-megapixel periscope telephoto with 5x optical zoom (125mm equivalent) is a carryover from the previous model. The same is true of the front-facing camera.

    Vivo did add what it believes is a key component to help the whole array in the form of its own Imaging Chip V1. This is essentially the company?s proprietary image signal processor, and one advantage, apart from better power consumption, is the much brighter image preview in low-light and night conditions.

    Software Features

    As I noted before, Vivo emphasizes its software computation as a means to producing better shots. That?s not just because of the sheer breadth of shooting modes and settings available to start with on the X70 Pro+, it?s also about how Vivo wants its own chipset to render those images after you capture them.

    Vivo?s engineers wisely didn?t shackle any improved computation to the camera?s AI Scene Optimization, a mode that frankly does more harm than good in certain situations. Sometimes it saturates colors too much, other times blows out highlights because it thinks I want extra contrast in a daytime sky. It?s not terrible, by any means, but with so many tools to work with, it?s probably best to keep that particular AI off.

    If you?re coming from the X60 Pro+, you won?t see much has changed with the interface and the modes you can shoot with. That?s not surprising, given the short launch cycle between the two devices, and it wouldn?t be worth squeezing in more without the underlying software getting better. Even so, unique modes, like Long Exposure, Supermoon, Astro, Pro Sports, and Double Exposure are there when you want them under the ?More? section.

    Zeiss never really made its presence felt on the software side before, but now contributes four classic bokeh effects to the Portrait mode: Biotar, Sonnar, Planar, and Distagon. Those come on top of the handful Vivo already includes. Previously, Vivo embedded Zeiss? Biotar style into Portrait, except you now start out with a natural look, which is a better way to begin, given the better sensor on that 12-megapixel telephoto portrait lens.

    While the X70 Pro+ runs on Android 11, Vivo?s Funtouch 12 is the overlay, and thankfully, it?s stable and doesn?t interfere with any of the camera functions. I?m not sold on Funtouch as anything special, but I can appreciate a company sticking to limited bloatware (at least with my review unit) and not force-feeding apps, services, or features onto me.

    Image Quality

    Main Camera

    Image quality largely rests on the tone that the main camera sets. Zeiss?s T* Coating was already carried over from its predecessor, so I would expect similar results in reducing lens flare and other unwanted issues, which leaves Vivo?s V1 chip to deliver something new.

    For the most part, the main camera will capture excellent shots in a variety of conditions. The tonality is nice, though I did grow a bit annoyed at how often I had to dial down the exposure to get more detail from highlights. HDR kicks in when you want it to, but it doesn?t impact an image?s composition quite like, say, a Google Pixel might. One thing is for sure and that?s how bright and detailed the preview will be before even snapping something. The V1 chip helps dial up the exposure compensation to help you see exactly how a shot will turn out before you take it. Even when I wasn?t using Night mode in a dark area, I knew what I was l looking at, making framing a shot so much easier.

    If there?s a certain element to a scene that makes the software work harder, the cracks start to show. Higher contrast scenarios force you to choose between the shadows or highlights when you adjust exposure. This is different from what you would do with Night or Pro mode, where software computation is rendering an image without compositing or just leaving it to what you chose as your own manual settings. Vivo?s software is smart, just not working at a genius level yet. You see the rendering happening as the image saves to the phone?s Gallery, and one thing that stood out to me was the way it softened bright highlights, like a fire or the sun. To me, that was an indication of how the processing here differs from the X70 Pro+?s predecessor. It doesn?t oversharpen a lot, either, which was good to see.

    When photos are on point, though, they are superb. As before, the main sensor can shoot at 50-megapixels under the High-Resolution mode, but I only sparingly used it, as I liked what I could get in more varied settings with the larger pixels in the binned 12.5-megapixel output of the main sensor.


    Vivo?s improved Gimbal Stabilization doesn?t apply to still images, so you don?t get any advantage in that regard. Not that it?s necessary, given that a wider field of view also means less of a chance of ruining a photo through shaky hands, though low-light shots could always use a stable hand.

    On the face of it, the ultra-wide sensor doesn?t really capture images any differently, though rendering is a little better, particularly in higher contrast scenes. Toggle HDR on and it does its best to balance shadows and highlights. The tighter f/2.2 aperture isn?t always great for low-light shots, but results aren?t bad in many instances.

    Telephoto and Hybrid Zoom

    Not much changed here as far as what you can expect, though again, rendering is slightly different. That means a little less sharpening to try masking imperfections and add some edges to every shot. The brighter the conditions, the more detail — and less processing – you get. I found a pretty big difference in how zoomed daytime shots turned out compared to those without much natural light.

    That?s easy to understand with an f/3.4 aperture, and despite improved software, zooming farther doesn?t make things look that much better. The 60x hybrid zoom is just as awful as it was before, and even at 10x, I find Samsung?s Galaxy S21 Ultra does a better job maintaining higher levels of detail. I still don?t understand why Vivo doesn?t present other distances in the interface. Pinching to zoom in isn?t precise unless you go all the way to 60x. The company should be promoting lower, not higher, hybrid zooms to deliver more usable images. Vivo?s V1 chip doesn?t impact the telephoto lens as much as the others, especially the more you digitally zoom in.

    Portrait mode

    A totally different sensor, better optics with Zeiss?s T* Coating and a wider aperture, and larger pixels combine to make Portrait mode better than it was in the previous model. The X60 Pro+ used a 32-megapixel sensor with a tighter aperture and no OIS, struggling to produce good shots in more challenging conditions. That?s less of an issue with the setup in the X70 Pro+, where portraits come out looking considerably better, especially in low-light or night shots. Vivo includes a Night mode shortcut at the top of the interface to help out when necessary.

    The 2x zoom is the default, representing the 50mm focal length, but you can also shoot with the main camera at 1x, or the telephoto at 5x. There?s an abundance of additional features to manipulate the image, my favorite of which is changing the aperture and focus after taking the photo. Your f-stop range sticks to f/0.95 through f/16, with f/2.0 always being the starting point. You can always revisit the image later and change it again, something I found useful when sharing a photo with someone who either wanted more or less bokeh. Zeiss? bokeh effects aren?t bad, though I wasn?t totally sold on their aesthetics. I would try them in similar settings and couldn?t always tell the difference between them.

    The good news is that portraits look good in more varied settings. They?re also easier to shoot in low-light because the V1 chip illuminates the screen to make everything highly visible, even when attempting a portrait in really dark places.

    If I had one concern, it would be with the beauty features, which are numerous and kind of creepy. Softening skin is one thing, but whitening, thinning, and reshaping faces, noses, eyes, jaws, and cheekbones is probably not the best way to build confidence. I know these are more common in Asian markets, so may not have the same resonance in North America, but seeing them is an odd juxtaposition compared to the devices we regularly see on this side of the pond.

    Pro Mode

    There are two things that work with Vivo?s Pro mode. The first, is the way it tries to qualify users by explaining what the different features do, and the second is funneling in a lot of supporting access to the whole mode. You can still shoot with all four lenses, as well as capture images in RAW or SuperRAW, the latter of which is a newer 14-bit mode within Pro. In effect, it brackets up to 10 RAW photos in an attempt to reduce noise and produce better dynamic range. You can also choose to do bracketed shoots with regular RAW when you select Bracketing in the Pro mode?s own settings, letting you choose between three, five, or seven photos at EV intervals between 0.3 and 1 EV.

    Why Vivo doesn?t include focus peaking is beyond me. For a company that has tried throwing the kitchen sink into its camera array, I have a hard time understanding why something that basic isn?t available here. A histogram is there in the Pro settings, as is a level meter, but nothing specific to focusing.

    In any case, you can get great shots using RAW or SuperRAW, albeit with optimal conditions making a bigger difference. For example, when I tried shooting at night, I had to make a number of adjustments to try limiting how much bright light sources impacted the shot?s dynamic range. It?s nowhere near as bad as what I saw in the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, but still something I wish Vivo would?ve improved further, given how much it hyped its V1 chip.

    Night Mode

    Speaking of night shots, Night mode was actually a weaker link in the X60 Pro+, and while not a massive shift in the right direction, does perform better in the X70 Pro+. The main reason why is because the dynamic range and detail are better, especially when you manually adjust exposure. Available light still makes a huge difference, but adding SuperRAW gives you a little more leeway to capture the same scene with multiple settings.

    The Style sub-section is also back again, giving you the same color balance filters as before, which are worth using when you want to add something unique to the shot. They?re not exclusively for night shots, but work best after sunset. You can also enable the Long Exposure special mode within the Night mode to capture traffic light trails, fireworks, and star trails, including how long you want the exposure to be. You can also access Supermoon and Astro special modes directly when you want to capture the moon or stars. Even take night or low-light panoramics when you want.

    That?s all more than pretty much any other phone?s night mode offers. Just exploring its options can take time, which is why I recommend knowing where everything is before going out into the field where evening and night conditions can change quickly.

    Special modes

    I mentioned some of the special modes already, which you can find under ?More? in the interface. Long Exposure was easily my favorite because it was applicable to both day and night conditions. As an example, trying to capture that waterfall in Pro mode was difficult because I could only lower the ISO, not raise the aperture when trying to shoot it at a slower shutter speed. Long Exposure has a setting for water flows, so using that produced a shot that was neither over nor underexposed. Mysterious Mist was another one that could work when capturing moving people or objects, especially in the daytime. The others work best in low-light situations.

    Vivo didn?t really touch the others all that much, preferring to let the V1 chip help render them better this time around. I didn?t see a significant difference when I tested them, though perhaps we?ll see some progress there moving forward.

    Video Features

    One thing about the ultra-wide camera is when you enable the Horizontal Line stabilization to take full advantage of the Gimbal, you also max out your footage at 1080p and 24 or 30fps. Not ideal when you want smooth shots at no less than 4K. Vivo put the Gimbal on this lens to accommodate the obvious crop factor to help make video come out looking smoother. And it does look really smooth. Record something steadily while walking and you won?t see it ruined by jittery shake. It?s just not going to be at full resolution, and HDR won?t apply, either.

    Unlike its predecessor, the X70 Pro+ lets you record footage with all four lenses, so there?s extra versatility that way. It?s just that with 4K enabled, you can only use standard stabilization, regardless of the lens you choose. You can also shoot in 8K, but not sure how much you?d want to do that if you have no screen to view it on afterward.

    One good thing Vivo addressed was making its Movies section (formerly Cinematic Master), which shoots at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, able to work with a 24fps framerate. If you?re going to be ?cinematic? about anything, you should at least offer that framerate as an option.

    One of the Best Smartphones for Photography

    The Vivo X70 Pro+ doesn?t have a phone camera array, it has an arsenal. I can see it feeling overwhelming to people who aren?t as savvy with photography, but it is worth learning what this phone can do to get the most out of every photo. I noted in my review of the X60 Pro+ that the interface and settings required patience and deliberation because of how layered it was. It?s no different here, and I?d say that also applies to users who know their way around a camera.

    The fact that it is a quality phone is obvious to me, and it?s just as clear that its camera is among the best in the industry right now. Showing others photos of light trails or Lightroom-processed SuperRAW photos always came with responses like, ?How can I get that on my phone??

    What irked me was the Zeiss connection. Its T* Coating did help reduce artifacts on all the lenses, except its software contribution is harder to read. In that regard, Vivo played up its own V1 chip, while Zeiss?s presence is mostly relegated to four bokeh effects in Portrait mode. If this partnership is to yield more, we need to see more of what Zeiss can bring to the table here.

    Are There Alternatives?

    The X70 Pro doesn?t have every single spec and feature the Pro+ has, but it?s no slouch when it comes to putting out great shots. Apple made some decent strides with the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, save for the issues around bright lights and dynamic range. Still, for photos of people, Apple may have an edge over Vivo?s flagship.

    Google looks to make a big camera splash with its Pixel 6 lineup, and that will mean a competitive shakeup for everyone else. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is still kicking around, as is the OnePlus 9 Pro.

    Should You Buy It?

    Yes, if you can get your hands on one. Not to mention if you?re cool staying connected without 5G in this part of the world. It?s hard to find a phone camera array this versatile, and assuming Vivo continues to improve its software computation with updates to the X70 series, then it will only make one of the best mobile photography options currently available even better.

    It?s a pricey proposition, though. Converted to U.S. dollars, you?re looking at between $1,050 and $1,080, which is more than the base variants of other flagships, including those from Apple and Samsung. Keep that in mind before you go reaching for the X70 Pro+.

    iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max Review: Improvements All Around [PetaPixel]
    Google Launches the Photography-Focused Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro [PetaPixel]
    Google Pixel 6 Pro Review: Right Back in the Race Again [PetaPixel]
  • China's Solar Power Has Reached Price Parity With Coal (1727 characters)

    Wed, 13 Oct 2021 16:15:00 -0400China's Solar Power Has Reached Price Parity With CoalSlashdot

    Like everywhere else, China has seen the cost of solar power dive over the last decade, with a 63 percent drop between 2011 and 2018 alone. In line with that, the installation of solar has risen dramatically. From a report: Currently, a third of the entire planet's new solar capacity is being commissioned in China; the country passed the installed capacity of the US in 2013 and Germany in 2015, and it now has over 250 GW active -- well more than double what its economic plan had specified by this point. Given that China plans to hit net zero emissions by 2060, it is likely to continue this building spree. But the forecast is not all rosy. Most of China's population is located in the country's southeast. The best solar resources (in terms of cloudless days and available land) are in the northwest, which also happens to be sparsely populated. This mismatch has left solar facing constraints due to limits in the ability of China's grids to shift power across its vast distances. The output of solar plants in the northwest has frequently ended up curtailed, as there's no capacity to send it where it's needed. As a result, it's been somewhat difficult to fully understand the economics of solar power in China. To get a clearer picture, the researchers built a model that takes into account most of the factors influencing solar's performance. The model tracks changes in technology, economics, solar resources, and the Chinese grid for the period from 2020 to 2060. It used six years of satellite weather data to estimate typical productivity in different areas of the country, and it included information on existing land use that would interfere with solar-farm siting.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • How This Photographer Creates His Light Painted Halo Long Exposures (3339 characters)

    Wed, 13 Oct 2021 16:02:00 -0400How This Photographer Creates His Light Painted Halo Long ExposuresPetaPixel

    Photographer and filmmaker Will Ferguson has shared how he took his passion for long exposure light painting to the next level with the help of a drone and a small LED light.

    Ferguson, based in the United Kingdom, has held an interest in long exposure photography from a young age. He first started with more traditional shots of cars driving along a motorway at night and has since progressed to technically more advanced photos.

    His latest experiments involve light painting a halo into images using his drone and a safely attached small but bright LED light. It has allowed him to combine his love for light painting and drones into one. It also hasn’t gone unnoticed on social media, with his behind-the-scenes TikTok videos attracting interest and amassing over a million views.

    Ferguson explains that the most difficult part of taking a photo like this is to achieve the correct amount of brightness. A balance is needed to ensure the drone LED properly lights up the subject of the photo without under-exposing the stars in the night sky. Also, the size and speed of the drone need to be taken into consideration to match the length of time the camera requires to take a correctly exposed image.

    In the behind-the-scenes videos, Ferguson demonstrates how he created the two shots, using his Sony a7R III, DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone, and LumeCubes.

    Ferguson makes a point that it is crucial to take the necessary steps to safely fly a drone at night. Although in the United Kingdom it is legal to fly a drone at night within the Civil Aviation Authority laws, he makes sure to do a pre-flight check of the location during the day. This way, he can ensure there aren’t any safety hazards, such as electrical pylon wires or tree branches, which may go unnoticed in the dark.

    So far, Ferguson has picked St. Michael’s Tower which sits on top of Glastonbury Tor in the English county of Somerset, and a tall tree in a park as his subjects. He tells PetaPixel that tall tower-like structures do particularly well for this method of shooting because the LED light helps to illuminate the subject and create a magical yet eery look.

    Although this was a passion project for Ferguson, the interest he received from the community on social media has not only helped him educate and inspire other creatives but he has also received interest from brands who want to collaborate in the future.

    “You create your own luck,” he says, hoping to inspire others to share their work with the world.

    Ferguson plans on shooting more drone halos in the future because this type of light painting photography helps him create something that the audience can only witness from a long-exposure photograph.

    “I think this is why I am so drawn to the magic of light painting,” he says.

    More of Ferguson’s work can be found on his website and Instagram page.

    Image credits: All images provided courtesy of Will Ferguson and used with permission.

  • Capture One Pro 21 is now $170 off and it includes a free upgrade to the upcoming version 22 (875 characters)
  • Assorted Videos: Cordy, Teledyne e2v, SCD, Emberion, Isorg, FLIR (539 characters)

    Wed, 13 Oct 2021 15:30:00 -0400Assorted Videos: Cordy, Teledyne e2v, SCD, Emberion, Isorg, FLIRImage Sensors World

     Zhuhai Cordy Electronic Technology publishes a video of its image sensor testing machine:

    Teledyne e2v publishes a promotional video about its Emerald 36M and 67M sensors:

    SCD publishes a video from its 5MP MSIR imager, said to be world's highest resolution MWIR sensor:

    QinetiQ publishes an interview with Emberion and a short Q&A session:

    Isorg posts a demo of its large area fingerprint sensor integrated into a smartphone display:

    Autosens publishes a short interview with Teledyne FLIR on automotive use case for thermal cameras:

  • The Trailer for The Beatles: Get Back (682 characters)

    Wed, 13 Oct 2021 15:26:00 -0400The Trailer for The Beatles: Get Backkottke.org

    If you’re even just a little bit interested in The Beatles, popular music, or making creative work, The Beatles: Get Back looks really good. Directed by Peter Jackson and utilizing dozens of hours of footage shot in 1969, this six-hour series documents the Beatles recording Let It Be, their final studio album release, and playing their infamous rooftop concert. The series premieres on Disney+ on November 25 and an accompanying book is out now.

    Previously: a six-minute preview of the series introduced by Jackson.

    Tags: movies   music   Peter Jackson   The Beatles   The Beatles: Get Back   trailers   video
  • FAST, the World's Largest Radio Telescope, Zooms in on a Furious Cosmic Source (1811 characters)

    Wed, 13 Oct 2021 15:26:00 -0400FAST, the World's Largest Radio Telescope, Zooms in on a Furious Cosmic SourceSlashdot

    China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope has detected more than 1,600 fast radio bursts from a single enigmatic system. From a report: Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are one of the greatest mysteries of our universe. Coming from deep space, these outbursts can flash and fade in a matter of milliseconds, yet in each instance can release as much energy as the sun does in a year. They pop up all across the sky multiple times a day, but most appear to be one-off events and are thus hard to catch. First discovered in 2007, FRBs have challenged and tantalized scientists seeking to uncover their obscure origins and to use them as unique tools for probing the depths of intergalactic space. Now, using the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, an international team has reported the largest set of FRB events ever detected in history. According to their paper published in Nature today, between August and October 2019 the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) in southwestern China recorded a total of 1,652 such brief and bright outbursts from a single repeating FRB source in a dwarf galaxy three billion light years away. Besides dramatically boosting the total number of known FRB events, the observations also revealed a very wide range of brightnesses among the recorded events, offering new clues about the astrophysical nature of their mysterious source. "The study is very thorough, with a level of details and sensitivity we've never had before," says astrophysicist Emily Petroff from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and McGill University in Canada, who is not involved in the research. "Such in-depth analyses of individual sources will be a top priority in FRB research in the near future."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Delta the Latest to Overreach With Photo Rights Grab Via a Hashtag (5326 characters)

    Wed, 13 Oct 2021 15:22:00 -0400Delta the Latest to Overreach With Photo Rights Grab Via a HashtagPetaPixel

    Delta Airlines is the latest in a long line of companies who have egregious overreaching rights grabs baked into a program that uses Instagram hashtags. The company claims massive rights to any images that are tagged using #SkyMilesLife.

    Corporate overreach into the rights of photographers is not uncommon and has occurred numerous times over the past decade. In 2015, the New York Times published an article that brought awareness to the situation where brands will publish this kind of user-generated content without explicit permission by hiding detailed and complicated terms behind fine print and leveraging social media hashtags to do so.

    In 2019, Hilton Hotels was caught in a similar situation. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) likewise recently solicited photographers to share photos on Instagram under monthly themes, but claimed significantly more rights than it appeared at first glance.

    This time, Delta Airlines has asked its customers to share photos of their favorite moments and tag #SkyMilesLife for a chance to be featured by the company’s social media presence and “inspire” others to take trips around the world.

    On the surface, this is a pleasant and harmless gesture, but Delta — who has advertised this program on billboards in airports as seen by David Bergman via an Instagram Story — backloaded the call to share with fine print that says Delta would gain substantial rights to those images:

    By tagging photos using #SkyMilesLife and/or #DeltaMedallionLife, user grants Delta Air Lines (and those they authorize) a royalty-free, world-wide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to publicly display, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works of the submissions (?Submissions?), in whole or in part, in any media now existing or later developed, for any purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and promotion on Delta websites, commercial products and any other Delta channels, including but not limited to #SkyMilesLife or #DeltaMedallionLife publications. Delta reserves the right to use or not use content tagged #Skymileslife and/or #DeltaMedallionLife and user will not be entitled to compensation if photo is used.

    User grants to Delta (and those they authorize), the irrevocable and unrestricted right to use, re-use, publish and re-publish, and copyright his or her performance, likeness, picture, portrait, photograph, in any media format, in whole or part and/or composite representations, in conjunction with my name, including alterations, modifications, derivations and composites thereof, throughout the world and universe for advertising, promotion, trade, or any lawful purposes.

    The above are just two sections from a rather detailed set of paragraphs that hand over rights to photos in a way that most photographers who don’t read or don’t see the fine print will not expect. At the time of publication, 107,185 photos were listed under the #SkyMilesLife hashtag.

    In the past, PetaPixel has sought the input of NPPA General Counsel Mickey Osterreicher regarding hashtag rights overreach, who said that photographers who see this kind of language have every right to be alarmed. The terms grant unlimited permission to use the photo in any way the company chooses without any remuneration, and also place all the liability for any improper use on the photographer and shifts it away from the company.

    ?Unfortunately, this is the typical overreach that we see far too much use of online,” Osterreicher has said. “It is a rights grab that is often not read or understood. It not only harms those who submit their work for free and then makes them liable for the possible misuse of that work but also undermines those who do value their work by licensing it.

    ?In a supply and demand economy, this virtually destroys the market with a glut of free images. The contract could certainly be written differently but that will only happen when people stop agreeing to these unfair and onerous terms.?

    The company might argue that it is simply trying to protect itself, but the key point here is that Delta does not need to phrase the “contract” to have such overarching rights to images, but unless the company and those like it are repeatedly called out for the overreach, none of the entities have any incentive to change policy. Additionally, Delta’s fine print says the photographer is not entitled to any compensation if the photo is ever used.

    ?Clearly if there wasn?t value to these images, why would they be asking for them and these rights?? Osterreicher has told PetaPixel.

    Delta Airlines did not respond to PetaPixel’s request for comment.

    ?Just as people would not agree to buy a car, lease an apartment, or purchase a house without understanding the terms of those written contracts, so too should they read and understand these online agreements,? Osterreicher said. ?If the car payments are too much, the lease too long, or the price of the house too high, commonsense dictates that you try to negotiate better terms or walk away. These online uploading or #hashtag ?opportunities? are no different.?

    Image credits: Header image uses elements licensed via Depositphotos.

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  • Google Says Fortnite's In-app Purchase Swap Was a Breach of Contract, Sues Epic (1782 characters)

    Wed, 13 Oct 2021 14:49:00 -0400Google Says Fortnite's In-app Purchase Swap Was a Breach of Contract, Sues EpicSlashdot

    Epic Games keeps piling up lawsuits with app store owners. This time, Google is countersuing Epic for breach of contract. From a report: Epic signed contracts with both Google and Apple, pledging to use the default payment systems for in-app purchases. As part of its push for more open payment systems, though (and to dodge each platform's 30 percent fee), Epic boldly pushed out updates to the Android and iOS apps that switched the payment processing from the platforms' in-app purchases to Epic's in-house system. Google and Apple both allege this action was a breach of their app store contracts with Epic. Apple sued and got its ruling last month. Epic was ordered to pay $3.65 million in damages, covering Apple's lost revenue from Epic's three months of self-powered payments. Following that ruling, Google wants its missing money, too, and now it's countersuing Epic, hoping for a similar ruling. Google's suit reads, "Epic willfully breached the DDA [Developer Distribution Agreement] by submitting a version of Fortnite for publication on Google Play with a payment method other than Google Play Billing for purchases of in-app content. By doing this, Epic denied Google its service fee under the DDA for any purchases made through the app outside of Google Play Billing." Google continues: "The users that downloaded the non-compliant version of Fortnite before its removal from Google Play are still able to use Epic's hotfixed external payment mechanism to make in-app purchases -- allowing Epic to evade its contractually agreed service fee to Google for those purchases." Google argues that "Epic has alternatively been unjustly enriched at Google's expense" and is seeking restitution of its missing earnings and damages.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Steaks Could Soon Become Champagne-Like Luxury, Says Boss of Europe's Top Meat Processor (853 characters)

    Wed, 13 Oct 2021 14:12:00 -0400Steaks Could Soon Become Champagne-Like Luxury, Says Boss of Europe's Top Meat ProcessorSlashdot

    The boss of Europe's top meat processor said beef will become a luxury like champagne because of the climate impact of producing it. From a report: "Beef is not going to be super climate friendly," Danish Crown Chief Executive Officer Jais Valeur said in an interview with Danish newspaper Berlingske. "It will be a luxury product that we eat when we want to treat ourselves." Valeur said pork would be a more climate-friendly protein. Danish Crown is one of Europe's largest pork producers, although it is also a player in the beef market. Meat companies are coming under pressure to curb greenhouse gases, with 57% of all food industry emissions coming from making animal products, according to one study. Tackling methane emissions from livestock is one of the most critical climate challenges for producers.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Capture One Pro 21 is now $170 off and it includes a free upgrade to version 22 (740 characters)

    Wed, 13 Oct 2021 14:11:00 -0400Capture One Pro 21 is now $170 off and it includes a free upgrade to version 22Leica News & Rumors

    B&H currently has an exclusive sale on Capture One Pro version 21$170 off plus a free upgrade to the new version 22 once it is released later this year (version 22 will include many new tools like panorama stitching and HDR merging):

    You can also get 10% on all Capture One products with code LEICARUMORS if you purchase directly  from the official Capture One website:

    The post Capture One Pro 21 is now $170 off and it includes a free upgrade to version 22 appeared first on Leica Rumors.

  • How Do Pro Photographers Light Their Photographs? (6500 characters)

    Wed, 13 Oct 2021 13:55:00 -0400How Do Pro Photographers Light Their Photographs?PetaPixel

    How does renowned portrait photographer Albert Watson light his photos? With a foolproof three-light setup that makes his photos look amazing, of course! Except… he doesn’t. In fact, setups are very far from what professional photographers do when they light their work. Here is what mindset photographers have when they light.

    We all start in the same place: a YouTube video showing some amazing setups with just 1 light. When we watch a video showing a 4-light setup, we?re already feeling pro. And yes, for some photographers being able to do a four-light setup — a nice rim, fill, hair, and key light — is enough. These setups give a simple formula to use when lighting a scene.

    Many photographers can create these light setups, but very few are professionals. So, how do pros light their photos? What setups do they use? How do they decide?

    Setups Are a Myth

    The first thing I want to emphasize is that setups don?t exist on a professional set. Never has anyone asked me to do a three-light setup, nor has anyone asked me to create great results with only one light.

    Being able to do a classic portrait setup and have top clients is a thing of the past. Back in the 80s, you could impress someone with a clean white background, but now it’s not about that at all.

    Competition is fierce, and many photographers end up learning as many setups as possible so that they have a vast mental toolbox. This results in companies selling kits for ?perfect portrait light? ?perfect beauty light? ?perfect fashion light?. What this creates is a set mentality that there is one right way to light fashion, a different one for beauty, and the third one for portraits.

    The best analogy I can give is if you were told there is only one way to eat bread: plain with butter. You can’t make toast, add jam, or even make a sandwich.

    I think it?s pretty clear that thinking in terms of setups is limiting. It?s not wrong, but it puts a label on something that is undefinable: perfect light.

    So How Do Professionals Light Their Photos?

    Before I go into how to learn the art of lighting, let me take you through a sort of step-by-step process that I?ve applied to light so far.

    1. Black Frame

    It all starts with a single frame. If I?m in the studio, I take a black frame to make sure there is no ambient light. On-location, I take a perfectly exposed frame. Although now I have an intuition about exposure, I still do it as a good habit. If anything, it lets me know I tethered in properly and that everything is working.

    2. Ambient Control

    With the test frame complete, I introduce light. If studio ambient light is desirable, I may increase ISO or perhaps lower the shutter speed. Generally, I don?t touch aperture too much as I like to have a wide plane of focus around f/11. On-location, I will play with the settings to get a good amount of ambient light.

    3. Introducing Artificial Light

    Again, this all starts with a single light. If you want to be a purist, you can start with a light directly in front of the subject. Setting the power, and then seeing what that light makes is the next step. Some questions to ask yourself at this moment are:

    1. Is the light too hard?
    2. Is the falloff too dramatic?
    3. Is the light coming from the right direction?
    4. What do I want to show/say with this picture?
    5. What aesthetic do I want?
    6. Anything else?

    Answers to these questions will form a base for what you want to do next. This may include adding a modifier, moving the light further, or perhaps even adding additional lights.

    A good way to think about this step is to take on the mindset of a painter. Each light is a brush that adds dimension to the image. You should be careful about what you add and don?t to each picture.

    Remember that with every light comes a great deal of responsibility to control it — don?t forget about things like flags, scrims, or butterflies. Those will help you sculpt the end result and come up with a unique image that is yours. Truly yours.

    The end of this process should yield a light that looks good to you. Determining what looks good and what doesn?t comes from being deeply caring and passionate about the subject. While I don?t want to sound like a loosey-goosey artistic type, good light just clicks with the subject like a puzzle that fits perfectly.

    Deep care for the subject enables you to understand what light fits correctly. If you photograph 1950s cars, you may want to show the chrome on the bodywork. If photographing popsicles wets your whistle, you will inevitably find a way to show them in a light that is right.

    What separates great from the good is that obsession with the subject in front of the lens, no matter what it is.

    How To Learn Light?

    Knowledge of light comes from experimenting and appreciating what each surface does to light, how it reflects or bounces, diffuses or travels directly, etc. This understanding then enables you to appreciate each modifier.

    For example, a 5-foot octabox will have the same light spread as a 2-foot, but the softness will be different. A 1×6 softbox turned sideways will produce a hard vertical but soft horizontal shadow. Diffusion paper on a small source won’t make the light soft.

    There are virtually thousands of examples like these that come from understanding what each little tool does to light.

    I?ve written a separate piece on learning light earlier this year. If you want a more detailed explanation, give that article a read!

    Closing Thoughts

    Professionals light their images in order to achieve an aesthetic rather than execute a bog-standard setup, just like how painters paint in order to convey a mood rather than do a technique exercise. Of course, good technique is important and helpful, but knowing four one-light setups is not a good technique — making your own light setups with 1, 2, 4, 10, and more lights to fit the aesthetic is a good technique.

    I promise you, knowing how to light will not only bring progress to your photography but it also enables you to solve some of the most complex problems that arise on set.

    About the author: Illya Ovchar is a commercial and editorial fashion photographer based in Budapest. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Ovchar’s work on his website and Instagram.

    12 Unusual Light Shaping Tools for Creative Portrait Photos [PetaPixel]
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  • This is How AP Journalists Sent Photos From the Field in the 1980s (4240 characters)

    Wed, 13 Oct 2021 13:34:00 -0400This is How AP Journalists Sent Photos From the Field in the 1980sPetaPixel

    Thanks to advancements in modern technology, photojournalists can have a near-instantaneous connection with agencies and outlets with very little downtime between when a photo is captured and when it is published. But it wasn’t always like this.

    To celebrate its 175th birthday in 2021, the Associated Press (AP) has published a series of detailed blogs that dig deep into its corporate archives and explain as well as show the history of the organization. In part seven of the eight-part series, the AP shared a scan of an old brochure that advertises the latest of 1970s technology: the AP Portable Picture Transmitter.

    This large device is basically a portable fax machine that would be able to send both black and white or color photographs over long distances using telephone lines. It could also be used to send drawings or printed materials of any kind that could fit on its scanning spool.

    “Sending color photographs is greatly simplified with the AP Portable Transmitter,” the description reads. “A single color print is mounted on the drum and by simple positioning of the desired filter in front of the photo multiplier, the same print is sent three times. One time each for cyan, magenta, and yellow. Of course, the transmitter can also be used to send regular black and white separation prints.”

    One of the major selling points was that it only contained two mechanical functions: the rotation of the picture drum and the electronics that moved the fiber optic carriage. The entire machine was powered by an 8-bit microprocessor that controlled the timing, motor, video, and oscillating functions. It also controlled the automatic gain system and would prescan the entire photograph to obtain the best white levels and then set that white output signal to the proper level.

    The AP Portable Picture Transmitter was also capable of operating in the AM or FM modes in the laserphoto standards that were used at the time.

    While it isn’t small by any modern standards, at the time it was considered to be light and compact as well as durable — it took up no more space than 170 cubic inches.

    The design of the device is similar to one that was used by other organizations at the time, including the United Press International UPI Model 16-S. This drum-based transmitter was detailed in a blog post from Dallas Morning News photo director Chris Wilkins back in 2012. In that explanation, it was revealed that transmitting images this was was extremely slow and could take between eight and nine minutes to send a single black and white photo. The UPI 16-S was used from the early 1970s up through around 1991.

    The AP Portable Transmitter looks as though it has more features and was slightly more advanced in its design than the UPI 16-S, though additional information on it outside of this single image from the AP’s archives is thin. What is notable is that the AP eventually switched to a different device called the AP Leafax 35 by 1988, which was more advanced and was housed inside a silver briefcase (which can be seen on the AP’s blog post). It eventually became the proprietary technology of the AP as it was capable of the same functions as the Portable Transmitter but was also a portable negative scanner, the first device of its kind that could perform both duties.

    That said, it still wasn’t fast. In an interview with PetaPixel from 2015, photographer Brad Mangin mentions that it could take upwards of 30 minutes to send a single photo.

    “I was covering sporting events all over the place and sending pictures back to our picture desk in New York over analog phone lines with an AP Leafax transmitter that took 30 minutes to send one color picture — and that was state of the art at the time!” he said.

    Gratefully, technology has advanced to the point where in the time it once took photojournalists to send a single photo, modern methods could send hundreds.

    Image credits: Header image via the AP and used with permission.

  • Fuzzy Moths Taking Flight in Super Slow Motion (1020 characters)

    Wed, 13 Oct 2021 13:27:00 -0400Fuzzy Moths Taking Flight in Super Slow Motionkottke.org

    In trying to explain what you’re about to see here, I cannot improve upon the Dr. Adrian Smith’s narration at the beginning of this video:

    But sometimes I think the most useful thing I can do as a scientist is to point the fancy science cameras at some moths flapping their wings in front of a purple backdrop. I mean, whose day isn’t going to be better after watching a pink and purple rosy maple moth flying in super slow motion? This is a polyphemus moth, a gigantic species of silk moth. What you are seeing, like all the rest of the clips in this video, was filmed at 6,000 frames per second.

    Most of the moths in the video are delightfully fuzzy and chonky — if these moths were birds, they’d be birbs. Shall we call them mopfs?

    The rest of Smith’s AntLab videos are worth looking through — I’ve previously posted about his slow motion videos here. (via aeon)

    Tags: Adrian Smith   flying   science   slow motion   video
  • America is Choking Under an 'Everything Shortage' (1815 characters)

    Wed, 13 Oct 2021 13:22:00 -0400America is Choking Under an 'Everything Shortage'Slashdot

    The global supply chain is slowing down at the very moment when Americans are demanding that it go into overdrive. The Atlantic: Is it just me, or does it feel like America is running out of everything? I visited CVS last week to pick up some at-home COVID-19 tests. They'd been sold out for a week, an employee told me. So I asked about paper towels. "We're out of those too," he said. "Try Walgreens." I drove to a Walgreens that had paper towels. But when I asked a pharmacist to fill some very common prescriptions, he told me the store had run out. "Try the Target up the road," he suggested. Target's pharmacy had the meds, but its front area was alarmingly barren, like the canned-food section of a grocery store one hour before a hurricane makes landfall. This is the economy now. One-hour errands are now multi-hour odysseys. Next-day deliveries are becoming day-after-next deliveries. That car part you need? It'll take an extra week, sorry. The book you were looking for? Come back in November. The baby crib you bought? Make it December. Eyeing a new home-improvement job that requires several construction workers? Haha, pray for 2022. The U.S. economy isn't yet experiencing a downturn akin to the 1970s period of stagflation. This is something different, and quite strange. Americans are settling into a new phase of the pandemic economy, in which GDP is growing but we're also suffering from a dearth of a shocking array of things -- test kits, car parts, semiconductors, ships, shipping containers, workers. This is the Everything Shortage. The Everything Shortage is not the result of one big bottleneck in, say, Vietnamese factories or the American trucking industry. We are running low on supplies of all kinds due to a veritable hydra of bottlenecks.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • WonderLab Launches New Women-Led Film Processing Lab (2517 characters)

    Wed, 13 Oct 2021 13:00:00 -0400WonderLab Launches New Women-Led Film Processing LabPetaPixel

    Film photography retailer Analogue Wonderland has announced the launch of its very own women-led processing lab, aptly named the Analogue WonderLab.

    After three years of providing photographers with a range of films via the company’s online store, Analogue Wonderland has taken the next step to open an in-house film processing lab, making it one of the few women-led labs in Europe.

    The WonderLab, based in High Wycombe, United Kingdom, was set up by Marina Llopis, a veteran of labs and studios from around the world. She has recruited a small team of devoted lab technicians, who are also avid film shooters, to join her in the lab.

    The company has significant long-term goals to make the process of developing and printing films more sustainable, starting by adopting “best practices” that other top labs around the world employ. This covers dealing with everything from plastic waste to chemical disposal.

    “What excites me most about the WonderLab isn?t just that we?ll be providing a great service for local film shooters from the start, but that this is just the beginning of a project to improve film photography?s environmental footprint forever,” says Llopis.

    However, it hasn’t been an easy task to add a lab service — one that is built entirely from scratch — to the company’s core offering, even though Paul McKay, co-founder of Analogue Wonderland, says it “is something that’s ‘made sense’ on paper for a long time.”

    “We needed someone with the right experience and network to help, and now we can focus on helping push the lab industry forwards – sharing the challenges openly with our community and investing in research to make things better for future generations of film shooters,” he says.

    At launch, the WonderLab will be able to process and scan color C-41 and black and white for 35mm, 120, disposable cameras, and 110 films, but some restrictions apply. Over the coming months, more chemistries and processes will be introduced, starting with E6, the company says.

    For local shooters, the lab has made it easy to drop off films directly, with pick-up available a couple of days later. Photographers who live further afield can order film development via the Analogue WonderLab online shop.

    A full list of currently available and upcoming film formats, turnaround times, and more can be found on the company’s website.

  • Groups Launch 'How To Stop Facebook' Effort (1044 characters)

    Wed, 13 Oct 2021 12:45:00 -0400Groups Launch 'How To Stop Facebook' EffortSlashdot

    A coalition of nonprofits on Wednesday debuted HowToStopFacebook.org, a fresh push to encourage greater government regulation of the social networking giant aimed at forcing the company to change its business model. From a report: The campaign hopes to take the outrage expressed by legislators over the revelations of whistleblower Frances Haugen and translate it into action. The campaign is pushing for two goals: A Congressional investigation with subpoena power into harms caused by Facebook; and a strong federal data privacy law that makes it illegal for companies like Facebook and YouTube to collect the vast amounts of data they use to personalize recommendations. The more than 30 groups involved include Accountable Tech, Article 19, Center for Digital Democracy, Fairplay, Global Voices, Media Justice, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Presente, Public Knowledge, United We Dream, Ranking Digital Rights, SumOfUs, Win Without War, and the Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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