30 December 2019

Imaging Resource: “Where’s Canon going with the EOS R? Do they have a plan?”

Yoshiyuki Mizoguchi/Canon Inc: What we believe is “revolutionary” is the EOS R System as a system, not an individual product. We know it is very difficult for almost everyone to understand how capable each mount system is. However, it is true that how a mount system is designed will greatly impact what can be done in the future. When we introduced the EF mount back in 1987, our engineers took all the possibilities into consideration that they could think of and developed it. At that time, before the transition from film to digital, such a high resolution as 50 megapixels and high quality video capture with an SLR [were both unknown]; nobody could predict exactly what would happen in the future.

Now 31 years has passed since we introduced the EF mount, and we sometimes have encountered challenges in the current system when trying to introduce new technologies. That’s the reason we needed to develop the EOS R System, featuring the RF mount. We do not know what will happen in the next 30 years, but we considered many possible scenarios when designing the RF mount, to truly future-proof it as best we could. That’s why we are confident in this new system and believe it is “revolutionary”.

Dave Etchells

This past year I’ve been very negligent of my blog (and reading), so I have a large backlog of old articles to share. This one in particular is almost a year old, but I’m impressed how most of the information presented has materialized in actual launches during the year – and validated by third parties, such as the engineering improvements in the new RF lenses. It goes to show that Canon is committed to improving and expanding the EOS R System, with new camera bodies and accessories, but also by supporting existing bodies with firmware updates. The only thing missing from this roadmap would be a pro-level EOS R body, but I have a strong feeling it will be announced soon, maybe in the first quarter of 2020.

29 December 2019

cnet: Twitter relaxes photo limits so those detailed shots look better

Twitter now preserves your JPEG photo’s original compression settings. His example JPEG image had been encoded with Google's Guetzli compression technology, which is slow to use but shrinks file sizes compared to typical JPEG photos. When you’re actually looking at photos, most of the time you’ll likely see a Twitter-compressed version, for example the 680-pixel-wide shot created for viewing in the timeline. But you’ll see the original if you click or tap on it using Twitter for the web or using the Twitter app for iPads or Macs.

And Twitter will recompress photos larger than 4096x4096 pixels or 5MB in size. Images are not unbounded in file size or resolution, but those limits are very generous, O'Brien said.

Indeed, a maximum of 4096x4096 is a significant step above Facebook, which limits photo width to 2048 pixels, and its photo-sharing service Instagram, which caps photos at a maximum of 1080 pixels wide and 1350 pixels tall. At SmugMug’s Flickr photo-sharing service, the maximum width shown is 2048 pixels, but Flickr shows pro members’ shots at 6144 pixels as long as viewers are using a screen with high enough resolution.

Stephen Shankland

Good to see Twitter, of all social networks, making progress in this area, not to mention with a better offer than dedicated photography sites like Flickr! I have suspected for some time that Twitter is slowly building a photo product to challenge Instagram – and there have been some, rather timid, moves in that direction, for example adding alternative description for images and, earlier this year, a dedicated camera included in the mobile apps.

27 December 2019

Robin Wong: “Real Reasons Why the Camera Market is Shrinking”

On the other hand, in group 2, the camera users are of a different breed of species altogether. These camera users bought cameras because photography seems like fun. The excitement in the beginning was real, everything was new, discovering a whole new world of photography was indeed thrilling. However, there was never any genuine interest in photography, they shoot because everyone else is shooting. Fear of losing out is real. They have a camera dangling around their neck because that was what everyone else was doing. Guess what happens when the excitement wears out, after half a year, after a year or two, when there was nothing left new to find out? if there is no inner desire to shoot, if photography is not a true passion, the interest in using the camera fades away very quickly. This is the hard truth – not everyone who has a camera is a photographer.

Here comes a big problem, social media promotes the culture of me, me, me and me. Photography has never been about the photographer (so literally), photography is about the photographer shooting the world around them. Hence the lens was pointed outward from the shooter not inward. Take a look at your Facebook friends, the Instagram accounts that you follow, any celebrities or “influencers”, the content published online was ALL about themselves and the lives that they live. Is it not the food that they eat, the places they travel to, the parties they are at, the dress that they wear, the cat or dog cute poses or that amazing car that they just bought? Photography, which was a genuinely powerful tool of art and documentation has been vilified and reduced to mere selfie tools. Photography has become selfish, self-centric adventure and is losing the core meaning of why the camera was invented in the first place.

Robin Wong

Interesting article that does a good job of capturing important social and technological trends behind the decline on the camera market. On the technology side, as some have pointed out numerous times, at this point the evolution of the camera is mostly incremental, and even the transition to mirrorless has nowhere near the same impact as the previous transition from film to digital.

26 December 2019

TechCrunch: “Facebook is building an operating system so it can ditch Android”

By moving to its own OS, Facebook could have more freedom to bake social interaction — and hopefully privacy — deeper into its devices. It could also prevent a disagreement between Google and Facebook from derailing the roadmaps of its gadgets. Facebook tells TechCrunch the focus of this work is on what’s needed for AR glasses. It’s exploring all the options right now, including potentially partnering with other companies or building a custom OS specifically for augmented reality.

One added bonus of moving to a Facebook-owned operating system? It could make it tougher to force Facebook to spin out some of its acquisitions, especially if Facebook goes with Instagram branding for its future augmented reality glasses.

Josh Constine

Hmm, hasn’t Facebook already tried something similar with the Facebook Phone, back in 2013, and failed miserably? At least this time they are framing the project as an OS for AR devices, not for mobile, where the market is thoroughly saturated. Even so, this feels like a long-term plan with slim chances of success – no matter what other people may think, I don’t expect AR/VR to become mainstream in the next five to ten years. But it could be a tactic to attract and retain engineering talent in the company by giving them a challenging task to work on, now that the public sentiment on Facebook is not favorable, to say the least.

The Washington Post: “Australia braces for highest temperatures in recorded history amid blistering heat wave”

Australia may set a record for its hottest day this week, as temperatures soar past 104 degrees (40 Celsius) in most of the nation’s major cities, with inland areas of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia possibly eclipsing 122 degrees (50 Celsius). The heat wave, which is unusually severe for so early in the summer, is affecting the entirety of the continent, gradually progressing eastward from Perth to Adelaide and on toward Melbourne and Sydney by Friday.

The heat is sure to aggravate the already record-shattering bush fires, which have emitted massive amounts of greenhouse gases and choked Sydney residents beneath a blanket of smoke. Health authorities in New South Wales are warning them to stay indoors during the day’s heat.

Andrew Freedman

The nightmare scenario from Greg Egan’s Perihelion Summer happening now, without passing black holes or orbital changes. Meanwhile the Australian leadership is still refusing to take action against global warming, despite huge economic costs caused by the current fires, which will certainly rise in coming years. And, to make matters worse, the lack of initiative from the United States and Australia is encouraging China to ignore limits on its carbon emissions, as the country is planning to build additional coal-fired power plants. Our climate future on Earth seems bleaker by the day…

25 December 2019

Flickr Blog: “The world’s most-beloved, money-losing business needs your help”

Now Flickr needs your help. It’s still losing money. Hundreds of thousands of you stepped up and joined Flickr Pro, for which we are eternally grateful. As a result, it’s losing a lot less money than it was. But it’s not yet making enough.

We need more Flickr Pro members if we want to keep the Flickr dream alive.

We didn’t buy Flickr because we thought it was a cash cow. Unlike platforms like Facebook, we also didn’t buy it to invade your privacy and sell your data. We bought it because we love photographers, we love photography, and we believe Flickr deserves not only to live on but thrive. We think the world agrees; and we think the Flickr community does, too. But we cannot continue to operate it at a loss as we’ve been doing.

Flickr is the world’s largest photographer-focused community. It’s the world’s best way to find great photography and connect with amazing photographers. Flickr hosts some of the world’s most iconic, most priceless photos, freely available to the entire world. This community is home to more than 100 million accounts and tens of billions of photos. It serves billions of photos every single day. It’s huge. It’s a priceless treasure for the whole world. And it costs money to operate. Lots of money.

Don MacAskill

Hard to imagine a worse business strategy than alienating both your free users (by restricting features and threatening to delete their photos down to the arbitrary 1000 photo limit) and your Pro users (by immediately doubling the cost of the subscription and offering basically no new features in return). And yet, here we are, with the CEO doubling down on the same losing game.

24 December 2019

TechCrunch: “Spotify prototypes Tastebuds to revive social music discovery”

Tastebuds is designed to let users explore the music taste profiles of their friends. Tastebuds lives as a navigation option alongside your Library and Home/Browse sections. Anyone can access a non-functioning landing page for the feature at https://open.spotify.com/tastebuds. The feature explains itself, with text noting “What’s Tastebuds? Now you can discover music through friends whose taste you trust.”

The prototype feature was discovered in the web version of Spotify by reverse engineering sorceress and frequent TechCrunch tipster Jane Manchun Wong, who gave us some more details on how it works. Users tap the pen icon to “search the people you follow”. From there they can view information about what users have been playing most and easily listen along or add songs to their own library.

Josh Constine

The landing page has been taken down since, but the idea is sound. I would love to have playlists based on the music tastes of friends and discover what they’re listening regularly or recently. But there are some questions that could make a good implementation challenging.

23 December 2019

Vox: “Instagram removing likes won’t fix its biggest problem”

Instagram has a way of flattening lived experiences so that my best years look exactly like my bad ones, and that everything seems pretty good, all the time, for everyone. This, obviously, is not how life works for most people, and ever since Instagram has existed experts have debated what seeing an infinite scroll of other people’s happy moments is doing to our brains.

Lately that conversation has gotten louder and more complicated. Influencers, models, and celebrities — the people who Instagram was supposed to work best for — are realizing that they have been made complicit in an app that feeds its users a poison of narcissism and envy and prevents them from ever logging off. They try to reveal what happens outside the camera frame; that no, their lives aren’t perfect either; that Instagram makes them feel bad, too. They share posts about authenticity and honesty and their quiet struggles with mental health that live directly next to posts devoted to toned ab muscles and champagne on yachts, which then makes the whole thing feel fake.

Rebecca Jennings

Powerful article about the unintended consequences of Instagram and the ‘perfect’ image it has promoted for so long. I wouldn’t necessarily blame Instagram alone for this, as users themselves share in the responsibility by posting, liking and going so far as to employ bots to increase their reach, but Instagram did provide a platform of massive scale for vanity and shallowness to thrive. Ironically, the recent measure of hiding like counts in the feed – still an experiment as far as I know – could in fact be another tactic to stimulate growth, and, knowing Facebook, that wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

22 December 2019

The Guardian: “It’s a superpower: how walking makes us healthier, happier and brainier”

Sitting at a desk all day, it’s easy to start feeling like a brainless polyp, whereas walking and talking, as we are this morning, while admiring the Great Sugar Loaf mountain rising beyond the city and a Huguenot cemetery formed in 1693, our minds are fizzing. Our sensory systems work at their best when they’re moving about the world, says O’Mara. He cites a 2018 study that tracked participants’ activity levels and personality traits over 20 years, and found that those who moved the least showed malign personality changes, scoring lower in the positive traits: openness, extraversion and agreeableness. There is substantial data showing that walkers have lower rates of depression, too. And we know, says O’Mara, from the scientific literature, that getting people to engage in physical activity before they engage in a creative act is very powerful. My notion – and we need to test this – is that the activation that occurs across the whole of the brain during problem-solving becomes much greater almost as an accident of walking demanding lots of neural resources.

Amy Fleming

Interesting idea, one that I can support through my subjective experience. I enjoy walking, and do it pretty regularly, skipping one or two bus stops in favor of walking, especially in fair weather (it’s also the only form of exercise I managed to fit into my daily routine). And every time I feel a little energized, a little better than before. It’s also my favorite way to experience new cities and places, because it allows me to explore and discover at my own pace, and change direction every time I see something of interest.

15 December 2019

Greg Egan – Perihelion Summer

in Bucharest, Romania
Greg Egan - Perihelion Summer

Printre toate problemele mari și mici, urgente sau triviale,cu care se confruntă constant lumea, tranzitul improbabil al unei găuri negre prin sistemul solar nu reușește să stârnească multe valuri în conștiința publică. Doar grupuri răzlețe de foști studenți în domeniul științific dau evenimentului interesul meritat, pregătindu‑se pentru scenariile extreme în care Taraxippus ar putea genera valuri mareice uriașe, devastând uscatul pe sute de kilometri în interior. În această eventualitate, Matt și prietenii lui extind un experiment din facultate, construind o ambarcațiune alimentată de energia valurilor, Mandjet‑ul, cu un mini-ecosistem marin inclus pentru a asigura hrana ocupanților umani. În ciuda avertismentelor repetate, puțini prieteni și rude aleg precauția de a se refugia în largul oceanului atunci când gaura neagră se apropie la maxim de Pământ. Dar, din păcate pentru omenire, problemele de‑abia atunci vor începe…

Matt had been a student when the first tiny discrepancies began appearing in the orbits of Saturn and Uranus, and a paper rushed out by a prestigious journal had claimed the results as evidence for a long-hypothesized trans-Neptunian planet. But while other groups had failed to reach the same conclusion, it had taken a year for the authors of the original paper to identify the error in their own analysis and admit that something else entirely was frightening the horses.

Anul acesta am avut parte de noi lansări de nuvele de la doi dintre autorii mei preferați SF, Alastair Reynolds și Greg Egan, pe care le‑am comandat în avans. În comparație cu Permafrost însă, Perihelion Summer nu mi‑a lăsat o impresie prea favorabilă. Mi se pare foarte ciudat să recunosc asta, pentru că de obicei romanele lui Egan au o solidă bază științifică, dar nu pot să neg impresia că efectele trecerii unei găuri negre de asemenea masă prin vecinătatea Pământului ar trebui să fie mai semnificative decât relativ minora modificare de orbită din povestire. Probabil autorul a făcut niște simulări și aceste rezultate sunt plauzibile, dar mie tot mi se par minimizate, departe de realitate.

09 December 2019

Teslarati: “Will Tesla Cybertruck fit inside a home garage?”

Reactions from some Cybertruck reservation holders and users of the AR app show that future owners of the upcoming vehicle may need to find a larger garage for their all-electric pickup.

Tesla enthusiast Tesla Raj outlined these findings in a recent video, with the Model 3 owner using the AR mobile app to see if the all-electric pickup fits in his car garage. Average two-car garages in the United States are about 20×20, 22×22, and, in other cases, 24×24 ft. These spaces are more than enough for sedans like the Tesla Model 3 or crossovers like the Model Y, but when it comes to larger vehicles like the Cybertruck, garages like a 20×20 would be a bit too small.

Simon Alvarez

You can rest assured that the engineering team did a thorough job designing the car when the CEO feels the need to correct its size immediately after the announcement because they haven’t considered an insignificant detail such as… actually parking the car! I know some people argued years back that Apple should acquire Tesla, but from this it sounds like there is a huge disconnect between their cultures and internal processes, which would make it difficult to integrate Tesla.

01 December 2019

Robert K. Silverberg – Lord Valentine’s Castle

in Bucharest, Romania
Robert Silverberg - Lord Valentine's Castle

Pe colinele de la marginea orașului Pidruid, cu puțin înainte de mult-așteptata procesiune a Lordului Valentine, un umil călător, pe nume tot Valentine, face un popas după o lungă zi, contemplând priveliștea oceanului de apus. În curând, un tânăr păstor i se alătură, oferindu‑se să‑l conducă pe călătorul singuratic către un han din oraș. Acolo Valentine se împrietenește cu o trupă de jongleri ambulanți, sosiți pentru a‑și etala talentul la procesiunea regală. Mai mult în joacă, flirtând cu Carabella, își descoperă un talent neașteptat pentru jonglat și, lipsit de un scop imediat în peregrinările lui, se alătură trupei, odată festivitățile încheiate. Traiul lui lipsit de griji este însă punctat constant de vise intense și tulburătoare, complet nepotrivite pentru un călător rupt de lume, în care Valentine se găsește în prezența Puterilor de pe Majipoor, ca și cum el însuși ar fi fost Lordul Coronal peste acea lume vastă.

They said this Lord Valentine the Coronal lived in a castle eight thousand years old, with five rooms for every year of its existence, and that the castle sat upon a mountain so tall it pierced the sky, a colossal peak thirty miles high, on whose slopes were fifty cities as big as Pidruid. Such a thing as that did not bear much thought either. The world was too big, too old, too populous for one man’s mind.

Lord Valentine’s Castle este una din cărțile pe care le‑am cumpărat cu mult timp în urmă, dintr‑un impuls sau la reduceri în Kindle Store, și a așteptat de atunci pe Kindle un moment în care s‑o citesc. Autorul mi‑era cunoscut din câteva colecții de povestiri science‑fiction, pe care le‑am apreciat cu ani în urmă, așa că am fost relativ interesat de acest roman, teoretic un clasic al literaturii fantasy. Din păcate însă, așteptările mi‑au fost înșelate.