• Friday, Aug. 28, 2020
Sony upgrades BRC camera series to simplify VR/AR production workflows
Sony's BRC series of cameras

As part of ongoing efforts to help productions work safely and remotely, Sony is upgrading its BRC camera range with a new set of features.

Designed for remote production and efficient operations, the V2.1 firmware upgrade to the BRC-X1000/1, BRC-X1000/WPW and BRC-H800/1, BRC-H800/WPW will allow producers and operators to simplify their VR/AR production workflows.

Through this update, the BRC cameras will output tracking data over IP, using the industry standard Free-D protocol. This enables the cameras to directly feed in real time the Pan, Tilt, Zoom, Focus and Iris, as well as the position of the BRC Camera, making simple and cost effective VR/AR production without additional tracking devices or systems.

This new feature will allow productions to easily incorporate VR/AR into their live content, such as expanded sets or scenery, live animations, e-sports and graphic overlays, enriching their production.

Free-D protocol is an industry standard, supported by major AR/VR solutions providers. BRC-X1000 and BRC-H800 are currently under verification with The Future Group (Pixotope), Reckeen, Vizrt and Zero Density, and plan to support integration with other partners implementing Free-D data.

Enhanced operations
As social distancing and reduced operational crews increase, the update will also improve the pan/tilt/zoom operations of the BRC-X1000 and BRC-H800. A reduced minimum speed allows the camera to more accurately track an object on the set and facilitate shot framing. The output will be more realistic and smoother, even with non-professional operators. Additionally, the cameras will now focus as soon as the preset is recalled, at the same time as the PTZ function, to enable more natural camera movements. Control when using a physical remote controller such as a pan-bar one will also be supported.

The firmware V2.1 upgrade for BRC-X1000 and BRC-H800 is planned to be available for free on August 31.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020
Computer pioneer Arnold Spielberg, Steven's dad, dies at 103
Steven Spielberg, nominated for best director for his work on "Munich," left, arrives with his father Arnold for the 25th annual nominees luncheon hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Feb. 13, 2006. Arnold Spielberg, a pioneering computer engineer, has died. A family statement says he died Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Los Angeles at 103. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Arnold Spielberg, father of filmmaker Steven Spielberg and an innovating engineer whose work helped make the personal computer possible, has died at 103 years old. 

Spielberg died of natural causes while surrounded by his family in Los Angeles on Tuesday, according to a statement from his four children. 

Spielberg and Charles Propster designed the GE-225 mainframe computer in the late 1950s while working for General Electric. The machine allowed computer scientists at Dartmouth College to develop the programming language BASIC, which would be essential the rise of personal computers in the 1970s and 80s. 

"Dad explained how his computer was expected to perform, but the language of computer science in those days was like Greek to me," Steven Spielberg told the General Electric publication GE Reports. "It all seemed very exciting, but it was very much out of my reach."

Later on he understood. 

"When I see a PlayStation, when I look at a cell phone — from the smallest calculator to an iPad — I look at my dad and I say, 'My dad and a team of geniuses started that,'" Spielberg said in the family statement.

Arnold Spielberg said of his son in a 2016 interview with GE Reports that "I tried to get him interested in engineering, but his heart was in movies. At first I was disappointed, but then I saw how good he was in moviemaking."

Arnold helped Steven produce his first full-fledged movie, "Firelight," made in 1963 when the budding director was 16. 

"The story was a forerunner to Steven's 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind,' with aliens landing on Earth, and I built the special effects," Spielberg told the Jewish Journal in 2012. "But while Steven would ask for my advice, the ideas were always his own."

The son of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, Arnold Spielberg was born in Cincinnati in 1917. He was obsessed with gadgetry from the start, building his own crystal radio at age 9 and a ham radio at 15, developing skills he would use during World War II as a radio operator and chief communications man for the 490th Bomb Squadron, also known as the "Burma Bridge Busters."

His experiences during the war were part of the inspiration for his son's 1998 film "Saving Private Ryan." 

Arnold Spielberg graduated from the University of Cincinnati and went to work in computer research for RCA, where he helped develop the first point-of-sale computerized cash register, before moving on to GE. 

Late in life he worked on the archiving technology used by the USC Shoah Foundation, an organization founded by his son to preserve personal histories of the holocaust. 

Steven Spielberg, 73, was Arnold Spielberg's firstborn child. He also had three daughters: screenwriter Anne Spielberg, producer Nancy Spielberg and marketing executive Sue Spielberg. 

All four children were with his first wife, Leah Spielberg Adler, who died in 2017. The two had divorced in 1965, and the issues the split brought up for Steven Spielberg were explored in his 1982 film, "E.T." 

Arnold Spielberg's third wife, Bernice Colner Spielberg, died in 2016.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020
Weather Channel app to change practices after L.A. lawsuit
In this Jan. 4, 2019, file photo, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, at podium, speaks at a news conference in Los Angeles. The operator of The Weather Channel mobile app has agreed to change how it informs users about its location-tracking practices and sale of personal data as part of a settlement with the Los Angeles city attorney's office, officials said Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. Feuer alleged in a 2019 lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court that app users were misled when they agreed to share their location information in exchange for personalized forecasts and alerts. (AP Photo/Brian Melley, File)

The operator of The Weather Channel mobile app has agreed to change how it informs users about its location-tracking practices and sale of personal data as part of a settlement with the Los Angeles city attorney's office, officials said Wednesday.

City Attorney Mike Feuer alleged in a 2019 lawsuit that app users were misled when they agreed to share their location information in exchange for personalized forecasts and alerts. Instead, the lawsuit claimed users were unaware they had surrendered personal privacy when the company sold their data to third parties.

Feuer announced the settlement Wednesday with the app's operator, TWC Product and Technology LLC, and owner IBM Corp. The app's disclosure screens were initially revised after the lawsuit was filed and future changes that will be monitored by the city attorney's office are planned.

"Users will now clearly know that they have the choice to provide access to their locations," Feuer said at a news conference, adding he hopes other companies will follow the app's model for transparency. "It shows that we don't have to sacrifice our privacy for things of value."

IBM bought the app along with the digital assets of The Weather Company in 2015 for $2 billion but did not acquire The Weather Channel seen on TV, which is owned by another company.

"The Weather Company has always been transparent about its use of location data. We fundamentally disagreed with this lawsuit from the start, and during the case we showed that the claims were baseless," spokesperson Melissa Medori said in a statement. "However, in recognition of IBM's long-standing relationship with Los Angeles and our history of providing technology solutions to improve its operations, we are donating technology to help the city and county deal with COVID-19 relief and contact tracing efforts."

The app advertises that it has more than 50 million users. Previously, Feuer said 80% of users agreed to allow access to their location data because disclosures on how the app uses geolocation data were buried within a 10,000-word privacy policy and not revealed when they downloaded the app.

Although the settlement does not require it, IBM has agreed to donate $1 million worth of technology to Los Angeles County and the city to help with contract tracing and data storage during the coronavirus pandemic, Feuer said. 

  • Friday, Aug. 14, 2020
AI helps melt "frozen memories" as Japanese recall WWII experience, loved ones
This photo combination shows digital colorization, left, by Anju Niwata and Hidenori Watanave, and original black and white file photo that smoke rises around 20,000 feet above Hiroshima, Japan, after the first atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 6, 1945. Niwata and Watanave are adding color to pre-war and wartime photographs using a combination of methods. These include AI technologies, but also traditional methods to fill the gaps in automated coloring. These include going door to door interviewing survivors who track back childhood memories, and communicating on social media to gather information from a wider audience. The team has brought to life more than a thousand black-and-white photographs that illustrate the pre-war lives of ordinary people and chronicles the onset and destruction caused by World War II. (Anju Niwata & Hidenori Watanave via AP)
TOKYO (AP) -- 

When Tokuso Hamai saw the colorized version of an old black-and-white photo of a picnic held under cherry tree blossoms sometime before World War II, forgotten memories of family members, most of whom died in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, came pouring out. 

"In colorized photos, people come to life," said Hamai, now 86. "I often played near (the picnic site), and sometimes I would do some naughty things and get scolded by my father." 

The power of a colorized photo to reignite lost memories was eye-opening for Anju Niwata, a student who gave Hamai the colorized photo as a present three years ago.

The 75th anniversary of the end of World War II is Saturday, and Niwata, now 18, said she hopes it will bring attention to her project with a Tokyo University professor to painstakingly colorize photos using artificial intelligence and their own research to spark lost memories for the rapidly aging generation who experienced the war. 

"Seeing Niwata share the colorized pictures with Hamai, and then watching him recall his old memories one after another, made it feel like the ice around his frozen memories was melting away," said Hidenori Watanave, the professor who taught Niwata how to colorize monochrome pictures using AI.

Niwata and Watanave call their photo colorization project "Rebooting Memories," and they published a book last month of the colorized versions of about 350 monochrome pictures taken before, during and after the war. 

Watanave and Niwata use three different types of AI photo coloring software. The AI is useful in identifying the accurate colors of natural things, such as the sea, the sky and human skin, but it cannot accurately colorize human-made objects like roofs and clothes, Watanave said. 

So Niwata and Watanave painstakingly finish the AI-colorized photos by hand to get more accurate colors based on the photo owners' memories and advice from experts. They also look through historical documents and archives that show what the colors should look like. 

Some photos take a few months to finish. 

For Watanave, Twitter has become a powerful platform to pursue the colorization project. 

When he posted a picture of the Hiroshima atomic bomb mushroom cloud that the Al software had colorized as white, a film director suggested that it should be more orange. 

Watanave checked the testimonies of those who saw the mushroom cloud and also researched the components of the atomic bomb to see if it could actually make an orangish color. 

After he confirmed that it could, Watanave added orange to the picture. 

While the accuracy of the color is important, Niwata and Watanave said the most vital thing is that the colorized photos match the memories of the photo owners. 

Time, however, is running out; the average age of the atomic bomb survivors is about 83. 

There are often moments of wonder when the elderly see the revitalized photos. 

When Niwata showed the colorized version of a family photograph to a war survivor who had dementia, for example, he remembered the type of flowers in the photograph; just a few weeks later, he was unable to speak. 

Niwata said that publishing the colorization book during the coronavirus outbreak has made her think about the pandemic's link to the war. 

"Our everyday lives have been stolen away by the coronavirus in a flash, which I think resembles what happened in the war. That's why I feel like now is an opportunity for people to imagine (wartime life) as their own experience," she said.

Watanave hopes that using new technology will help younger Japanese feel more of an attachment to those who lived through the war. 

"People are forgetting wartime memories. We need to revitalize those old memories by using the latest method of expression and delivering it to the hearts of many people," he said. "By the time we mark the 80th or 85th anniversary, we need to come up with a new way of expressing (wartime memories)."

  • Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020
NFL's Chris Conley creates "Quarantime" Short with URSA Mini Pro G2 and DaVinci Resolve Studio
A scene from "Quarantime"
FREMONT, Calif. -- 

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley recently shot “Quarantime,” a new short film created during isolation, using a Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro G2 digital film camera shooting in Blackmagic RAW. Conley also edited and graded the film himself using DaVinci Resolve Studio, which he learned at home during football’s hiatus.

While Conley is known for his work on the field, he has a passion for filmmaking and made several short films prior to his NFL career, including his viral Star Wars fan film “Retribution.” “Quarantime” is his latest project and it’s the first time Conley has stepped beyond the roles of writer and director to also serve as DP, editor and colorist. Shot at home with Conley and his wife Brianna Conley playing themselves, “Quarantime” follows a newlywed couple that spends part of their first year of marriage in isolation. The film premiered in July 2020 and is currently available via Conley’s YouTube channel, FlightConley.

According to Conley, he was inspired by the ups and downs of being stuck in the house together during quarantine. “I figured that this experience was common for a lot of people and wanted to share my view of it. Shooting at home was a unique situation since the space was rather small. It made us get creative about creating angles and the illusion of space,” he said.

Using the URSA Mini Pro G2’s Blackmagic Camera Control app allowed Conley to be both behind and in front of the camera as he juggled multiple roles during production. “Shooting during quarantine limited the number of people I could use to help,” said Conley. “Setting up lights, moving equipment and running the camera is a lot to do by yourself. Luckily with the camera’s wireless capabilities, I was able to start and stop recording remotely.”

While Conley credits the URSA Mini Pro G2’s built in ND filters and touch screen monitor’s easy readability with helping him stay nimble and quick during shoots, the biggest benefit was being able to shoot and edit in Blackmagic RAW. “The workflow efficiency of Blackmagic RAW and the ease of having access to similar information from the camera to DaVinci Resolve Studio helped make the whole process flow smoothly. Editing in DaVinci Resolve Studio’s cut and edit pages felt natural after shooting on the URSA Mini Pro G2.”

In post, Conley started by using DaVinci Resolve Studio’s cut page to quickly put together his first timeline. “With the hotkeys mapped, putting together a rough cut was extremely fast and efficient,” explained Conley.

“My favorite thing about DaVinci Resolve Studio is the flexibility and control you have over the color. As someone who is not a colorist, I had the ability to tweak the image and get it to a place that I liked with minimal amounts of practice. There is so much more you can do in the program as an experienced colorist, which is what’s exciting as I think about continuing to explore with future filmmaking projects,” explained Conley.

As a newcomer to editing and grading, Conley learned to not let that limit the film. “I started by reading and watching tutorials, and then practicing and emulating looks. After about three weeks, I felt confident enough to do it with my own footage in DaVinci Resolve Studio,” said Conley. “Taking on all the roles to shoot a short film can be daunting, and I came to realize that I knew more than I gave myself credit for. I just needed to take a moment to put these skills to the test on my own. For better or worse, I needed to just create so that I could learn from my mistakes and build confidence. Should my lack of experience stop my creativity? Definitely not. My biggest obstacle was me limiting myself as a creator.”

Conley concluded, “My advice for other people is to stop waiting and start writing. For those who have written, stop waiting and start shooting. Take the leap and just be prepared if what you make isn’t great. Each attempt grants you room to grow. Trust yourself enough to let yourself create and share.”

  • Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020
Denson Baker "Cookes" Up Vision For "The Luminaries"
Denson Baker (photo by Jon Cooper)

DP Denson Baker, NZCS ACS, chose Cooke Anamorphic lenses to recreate the universe portrayed in the TV adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker prize-winning novel, “The Luminaries.”

Produced by the BBC, Working Title Television and Southern Light Films and adapted for the screen by Catton herself, the six-part miniseries tells an epic story of love, murder and revenge, as men and women traveled across the world to make their fortunes on New Zealand’s South Island in the boom years of the 1860s gold rush.

Baker said, “We wanted it to be atmospheric and cinematic, a smoky, textured world, with muddy streets...a very lived in world.”

The producer Andrew Woodhead from Working Title was very passionate about the idea of shooting the show on anamorphic lenses, framed 2.0:1. Director Claire McCarthy and Baker agreed with him that it would be a great choice as they have a high production quality look and give more of a timeless quality, which was very important for a series set in the 1860’s.

“I tested every anamorphic lens set that was available to us in New Zealand which is amazing--pretty much anything you could want was presented to us to play with. I screened these tests to Claire and the producers, and we all felt that the Cooke Anamorphic/i lenses were the right choice,” Baker explained. “They have a high production quality look, but don’t look too ‘slick’ or modern as some of the other lenses we tested. Cooke lenses have such a cinematic quality and look filmic on digital cameras; they have a gentleness that is very pleasing and flattering, yet there is also a sharpness that makes the image bold and the faces pop in the frame. They are also lovely to handle and work with on a practical level too.”

The show was shot on ARRI Alexa cameras. 

The story follows a large cast of characters, each variously associated with the 12 signs of the Zodiac, the planets within the solar system, and the Sun and Moon. Director Claire McCarthy came up with the idea of linking the story arc of the main character Anna Wetherell (played by Eve Hewson) to reflect the Moon’s phases. Baker looked carefully into this in order to find the key moments to light the character according to the moon phase she was in, positioning the light on her face to reflect this phase.  For these scenes, the 75 and 100mm anamorphic lenses provided a very pleasing focus edge to them, especially when shooting around T2.8-4 when shooting mid shots and close ups, to draw the attention to the characters eyes, and mouth and letting the surrounding area drop away.

Baker’s main lenses of choice were the 40mm and the 75mm lenses, and he also used the 65mm Macro as a portrait lens when shooting intimate moments. “The 65mm has a very lovely, flattering quality to it. We could also get the camera quite physically close to our actors with the 65mm to give a feeling of intimacy, but with very little if any distortion,” concluded Baker.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020
Facebook launches its new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels
Instagram Reels is displayed on a mobile phone on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020 in New York. Facebook's Instagram is officially launching its answer to the hit short video app TikTok — Instagram Reels. The new Instagram feature will let users record and edit 15-second videos with audio, and will let users add visual effects. Users will be able to share Reels with followers in Instagram in a dedicated section called Reels in Explore, or in the Story feature where posts disappear after 24 hours. (AP Photo/Tali Arbel)

Facebook's Instagram is officially launching its answer to the hit short video app TikTok — Instagram Reels.

The new Instagram feature will let users record and edit 15-second videos with audio, and will let users add visual effects. Users will be able to share Reels with followers in Instagram in a dedicated section called Reels in Explore, or in the Story feature where posts disappear after 24 hours.

The Reels option will be available in the Instagram app. The company has been testing Reels in Brazil since November and in France, Germany and India since earlier this summer. 

Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services. The Instagram "Story" feature, which lets people share photos and videos that expire in 24 hours, is similar to Snapchat. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced tough questioning about the company's habit of copying rivals before a congressional hearing on July 29.

Facebook earlier launched a TikTok knockoff called Lasso in 2018, but closed that down in July. It also tried services similar to Snapchat called Slingshot and Poke before Instagram Stories caught on. But those were separate apps — it might have more success with a feature built into Instagram.

In fact, copying Snapchat's features was successful for Instagram in part because Snapchat was difficult to figure out for new users. They were already comfortable with Instagram. But TikTok is very easy to use -- easier than Instagram -- and part of its appeal is that you're able to sit back and scroll endlessly with just swipes, without the need to follow anyone or post anything. 

Even with the success of Stories, Snapchat remains popular with younger people, though the Instagram feature has likely limited its growth. Snapchat has more daily users than Twitter. 

For Reels to succeed, Facebook will have to lure video creators away from TikTok. This might be easier to do with Reels since many creators are already on Instagram. In response to published reports that Instagram is paying TikTok influencers to join Reels, Instagram said in a statement that the company "have a long history of reaching out to emerging creators and working to break new stars on Instagram." 

"As with previous products, we remain committed to investing in both our creators and their overall experience, and in certain cases, we may help cover production costs for their creative ideas," the company said.

TikTok, in turn, launched a $200 million "creator fund" in July that it says will grow to over $1 billion in the U.S. in the next three years and more than double that globally, to pay video creators for their material.

TikTok, however, is under fire, possibly opening an opportunity for Facebook.

Microsoft is in talks to buy part of TikTok in what would be a forced sale, following threats from President Donald Trump to ban the Chinese-owned video app, which claims 100 million U.S. users and hundreds of millions globally.

Experts think Facebook has an opportunity to lure in young users with Reels, but its success is not guaranteed. 

"Social media users, especially younger users, tend to use social platforms for different things," said eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson. This means Snapchat to message friends privately, Facebook to keep up with school groups or check up on parents and grandparents, Instagram to follow their passions and TikTok for entertainment.

"Instagram has put a lot of effort into developing Reels and making it attractive to TikTok users and the creators who work on the app, but I'm not sure it can replace TikTok," Williamson added. "Even if TikTok were to be banned in the U.S. (which I think is unlikely to happen), users would find a way to keep using it. They are incredibly loyal and protective of TikTok."

Since early July, some TikTok users have been posting videos urging viewers to follow them to other platforms like Instagram, reflecting the threat of a TikTok ban. Mary Keane-Dawson, Group CEO at the influencer marketing agency Takumi, said the creators she works with have been sad, angry and upset about the threat of a ban. Still, they're "pragmatic," she said, and the smart ones were already active on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. 

Reels is debuting in over 50 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Japan, Australia and others, as well as officially launching in the test countries — Brazil, France, Germany and India. 

Instagram has more than a billion users worldwide. 

  • Monday, Aug. 3, 2020
Basecamp CTO discusses work collaboration software, limiting Big Tech's power
This photo provided by Metis Communications shows Basecamp CTO David Heinemeier Hansson. Heinemeier Hansson has made a name for himself as one of the tech industry’s more prominent iconoclasts and industry critics. The Danish programmer is a successful entrepreneur who has testified before Congress to argue that Big Tech firms should be more regulated and started an anti-Facebook campaign. He is chief technology officer of BaseCamp, which makes workplace collaboration software, and is also the creator of a widely used software development framework called Ruby on Rails. (Peter Adams/Metis Communications via AP)

David Heinemeier Hansson has made a name for himself as one of the tech industry's more prominent iconoclasts and industry critics. The Danish programmer is a successful entrepreneur who has testified before Congress to argue that Big Tech firms should be more regulated and started an anti-Facebook campaign. He is chief technology officer of Basecamp, which makes workplace collaboration software, and is also the creator of a widely used software development framework called Ruby on Rails.

Hansson discussed remote work in the age of the pandemic and why Big Tech's power should be limited. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Basecamp is mostly remote. Has the pandemic affected how you work? 

A: So Basecamp has been been remote for about 20 years and we have all the systems and processes in place to be able to make that a pleasant experience. But I think what's important to look at with the pandemic is that it's not just remote work, it's remote work during a pandemic. So we have a lot of parents at the company. About half the people at Basecamp have families who all of a sudden have to deal with childcare at home or a spouse who has to share the one home office there. So the pandemic part of it has definitely been difficult. 

Q: Now we've been doing this for a few months, we've seen many companies basically switch to remote mode. Have you seen other companies making mistakes switching to remote work? 

A: The number one mistake I've seen from other companies suddenly being forced to go remote has been that they tried to recreate the office remotely. So if what happened at the office was a bunch of meetings early on Monday morning, those just turned into some calls. 

And this whole idea that you can recreate the office remotely is a nonstarter. It's not a great way to work. Most companies, when they work in the office, work in a very synchronous way that's dictated around a meeting schedule that mandates where people have to be at a certain time.

Getting rid of that and switching to an asynchronous work style where people don't have to be at a certain place at a certain time is the key to unlocking both the productivity and the sanity of anyone working remotely during a pandemic. 

Q: You have been critical about companies like Apple and Google being monopolies. Why do you think they're dangerous? 

A: The power that Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and others have right now to dictate the terms of the digital economy, to capture the lion's share of all economic activity is unprecedented, astounding and incredibly dangerous. 

From 2000 to 2010, I think most people uncritically looked at these companies with just applause. Oh, isn't Google amazing? Isn't it wonderful we can connect to old classmates on Facebook? Look at all these wonderful devices. Apple is putting out. 

That was the honeymoon phase where these companies faced very little critical reception. That's not the case anymore. I don't think there's a lot of people who are just cheering on. Oh, isn't Facebook just universally amazing? Isn't it wonderful that Apple has an iron grip on all distribution of software to the iPhones in such a way that they can shake down individual software makers for 30 percent of the revenue? 

I think some of these storylines now have taken over this uncritical applause that these companies used to have. And that's a huge, powerful and important change that's paving the way for these regulatory actions. I mean, virtually all energy that goes in to legislation or regulation comes from public perception changing. 

Q: Is the way to fix this through regulation? 

A: I think these companies are now so large that they are to some extent immune from the normal pressures of competitive forces that normal companies operate under. If a normal company that does not have a monopoly continues to do bad things to piss off large numbers of their partners, vendors and customers, those partners, vendors and customers will simply choose another option. 

That can't happen when you have a monopoly. When there literally is no choice than to go through, say, the App Store to sell software to iPhone users. All you can do is kick and scream. And Apple knows this. T

What needs to happen is regulatory action, whether that is mandates on these companies' behaviors such as preventing them from monopoly abuses, of dictating terms of payment services, or, in Google's case, opening up their search index to other search engines so that they can use that. 

Q: Can you talk about your Facebook Free campaign? What is it exactly? 

A: So in 2018, well, in advance of what's been going on recently with the advertising boycott, Basecamp came to the conclusion that we should not be voting for more Facebook in the world. We had run some tests, an advertising test in 2017 that used Facebook, and we felt icky doing that. 

The Facebook machine is a massive engine of privacy and exploitation where targeted advertising violates the privacy of the recipients. And we thought, you know, why are we in this? Why are we doing this? Are we doing it just because everyone else is doing it? That's not a good reason. We need to stop. 

So we decided we would not spend any advertising dollars on any of Facebook's platforms. We didn't want more Facebook in the world. In 2020, clearly, we're no longer early on that. And hopefully it will stick and hopefully it will help change what Facebook is and again, not so much because Facebook is afraid of losing this revenue, but because public opinion will be in part turned by this, which will again fuel legislative and regulatory actions so that we get out of this dystopian hellhole that is a Facebook dominated world.

  • Tuesday, Jul. 28, 2020
In reversal, CES gadget show won't be in-person after all
People look at a 145 inch Ultra Large UHD display in the LG booth at the CES tech show, on Jan. 8, 2020, in Las Vegas. CES, one of the world’s biggest technology conferences, won’t be held in person next January due to the coronavirus pandemic, a reversal from May when organizers said it still planned to go ahead with a smaller show in Las Vegas. Instead, the 2021 event will be a virtual convention, one that organizers hope to bring back to Las Vegas in 2022. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

CES, one of the world's biggest technology conferences, will be a virtual event in January due to the coronavirus pandemic, a reversal from May when organizers said it would go on as a smaller gathering in Las Vegas.

The announcement Tuesday is another blow for Las Vegas which, like all other U.S. tourist destinations, is suffering as people stay home or vacation locally. More than 170,00 people attended the four-day show this year in January, before COVID-19 began to spread across the U.S.

States in the South and West are being hit particularly hard. 

In Nevada over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased 27%. The state now ranks sixth in the country for new cases of COVID-19 per capita.

The pandemic has disrupted major tech events everywhere. 

Europe's biggest consumer electronics trade fair, Germany's IFA, usually runs for six days and drew nearly a quarter million people last year. This year, it's half that duration and there will be no public access to the event in September. Web Summit, a glitzy event in Portugal that features high profile tech CEOs and celebrities, will be online this time. Organizers aim to still hold the physical conference in Lisbon in December but won't make any final decisions until early October.

The Consumer Technology Association, which organizes CES, had said in May that it planned to go ahead and hold some events in Las Vegas next year, but the thinking changed as COVID-19 cases spiked around the world, making it impossible to hold an indoor event in January 2021, said CTA CEO Gary Shapiro.

There was also uncertainty over whether employees of big tech companies would be allowed to travel by then. Google, for example, said this week that its employees should work from home until at least July 2021. 

The four-day digital version of the CES gadget show begins Jan. 6. 

Kelvin Chan in London contributed to this story. 

  • Friday, Jul. 24, 2020
XM2 PURSUIT gives flight to Tango II drone
Tango II

XM2 PURSUIT, a global aerial solution provider catering to film, visual effects, television and infrastructure industries, has released Tango II, its newest aircraft for commercial and industrial use. Superior to its groundbreaking XM2 Tango predecessor, the Tango II is billed as being the only drone aircraft of its kind to satisfy all needs for film and industrial applications.

Designed and constructed by XM2 PURSUIT’s expert teams of aerial pilots and engineers, Tango II was created with a strong knowledge of film and industrial applications. The result is a powerful and safe platform capable of lifting a wide variety of payloads--including cinematography cameras, VFX and industrial sensors, as well as lighting rigs.

The new Tango II offers a number of unique features built for the serious drone operator, including:

  • Co-pilot flight and maintenance assistant with HELIX flight controller
  • High-Definition FPV camera with controllable tilt
  • Fully autonomous control without No Fly Zone restrictions
  • Designed for operation from moving platforms
  • Dual camera mount capabilities that allow for both over and underslung content capture
  • 40 km/25 mi control range
  • A revolutionary new dampener that produces unmatched stability for silky smooth footage even when utilizing long lenses
  • Retractable and tool-free quick release landing gear complete with a custom control board for improved performance across a wider range of temperatures
  • Custom carry case for optimal portability, meeting the weight and size restrictions to enable travel on any passenger airline

“Our new Tango II aircraft doubles down on performance, allowing pilots to enjoy integrated autonomous flight capabilities with the unmatched benefits of extended flight times and heavy payloads,” said Stephen Oh, leader of XM2 PURSUIT. “When paired with our proprietary XM2 Helix flight controller, Tango II provides freedom and flexibility to experienced drone operators while achieving superb flight characteristics up to a range of 40 kilometers.”

Recent XM2 Tango television and film credits include: No Time to Die, Fast & Furious 9, Westworld and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. 

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