In This Issue… Euro reverses slide in short squ

first_imgIn This Issue… * Euro reverses slide in short squeeze… * Merkel & Sarkozy meet again… * 200,000 jobs created in December * Chinese renminbi slides… And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts! Another Eurozone “Meeting of the Minds”… Good day… And a Marvelous Monday to you! The first weekend of the NFL playoffs was interesting, with a couple of teams winning that weren’t expected to do so. I think, because I did play football as a youngster, that the league has gone too far the opposite direction, and defensive players no longer know what’s a legal hit and what isn’t, which allows more offense in the game, which casual football fans love… but that’s just me… being me… OK… The Jobs Jamboree on Friday proved to be a real boost for the economy and the dollar, which rallied on a “strong jobs number” for the first time in a month of Sundays. I highlight “strong jobs number” because, this is what this has come to… 200,000 jobs were created, so says the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in December, which is the strongest number of jobs created in another month of Sundays… The jobs reports have been so weak for so long now, that the media, and markets are all lathered up and calling this a “strong jobs number”… It’s stronger than previous ones, yes… The Unemployment rate dropped to 8.5%, the lowest it has been since February 2009, and marks 6 consecutive months of at least 100,000 jobs the first time that has happened since April 2006! OK… is it just me, being me that I smell a rat? Here we are in an election year, and suddenly the BLS says jobs are being created, when the weekly job cuts remain near 400,000 each and every week… 1.6 million jobs were created last year (per the BLS), so at least we’re heading in the right direction, eh? Whether the jobs are there are not. Whether they are full-time, or not. Whether they are min. wage or not. All these things don’t matter right now… the BLS has created a perception that the jobs market is rebounding… and, you are what you are perceived to be, right? Well… like I said the dollar responded favorably to the jobs report, which could be an indication that maybe, just maybe, cause we never know, fundamentals are returning to the markets… Because the dollar should rally when the jobs report is stronger than previous reports. The euro, being the offset to the dollar, was therefore weaker… The single unit is attempting to mount a rally this morning, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President, Sarkozy, are meeting, as I write, to discuss measures to rescue the euro over the next three months. Hmmm… They might want to get European Central Bank President, (ECB) Draghi, in a room, under a bright light, and attempt to get him to say “uncle” with regards to rate cuts! Because, he has cut rates at his first two meetings, and looks dead set on cutting them more! I wrote about this last week, that given rates in the Eurozone are going lower… I say that, because of Draghi… He’s no Trichet, or Duisenberg… He’s more of a Bernanke & Greenspan. So, you can expect to see Eurozone rate dropping below 1% for the first time this year… It’s sad, I know… But I can tell you that Draghi and his fellow-Euroheads, don’t care about the ECB’s credibility… And they don’t believe it will be damaged, as the markets will see the rate cuts as needed to help the Eurozone economy that appears to be heading to recession. Now… When I was a foreign bond trader, I would have looked at this and thought to myself… “this looks like a great time to be long bonds in a country that was getting ready to cut rates by at least 50 Basis Points (1/2%)”… But back then we would be talking about rates dropping from 5% to 4.5%… With rates starting from such a low point, I’m not sure there’s much to get excited about… Speaking of the ECB… the will meet this Thursday, but after all my talking about Draghi cutting rates, I don’t think he’ll cut rates at this meeting, after having cut rates at his first two meetings… To be fair and equal to different ideas… Last week I told you about 3 different analysts that called for the price of Gold to be much stronger in 2012 and beyond… So, to give you the “two-way market”, my friend, and write extraordinaire, Bill Bonner, is calling for the price of Gold to be flat in 2012… Let me explain Bill’s thoughts… He believes that the markets are going to be circling the bowl again in 2012. Bill said, “what we learned in 2011 was that when a Great Correction pinches, the dollar is the salve of choice – not Gold. When investors fear losses they turn to the dollar for protection. They will continue to do so a while longer. We’ll probably see a further correction in the Gold price… perhaps down to $1,200. Or perhaps it will stop at $1,400.” OK… so, now you have two sides to the story, and you can make your decision, balancing the two thoughts on Gold. Me? I’m not selling… And I’ll be happy to buy Gold at cheaper prices! I’ve been pretty tough on the Indian Gov’t and Central Bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), and their inability to recognize inflation and act accordingly. This resulted in economic stagnation, and with high inflation, it appeared the economy would take a deep dive into recession… This is the reason the Indian rupee has been one of the worst performing currencies around in the past year. But… I read a good story in the Economist that talks about how the Indian economic miracle is not over… Well, I was all eye and ears for this, since I had written India off… Indian economic growth is thought to grow at 7% this year, and will pick up from there… The savings rate continues to rise, which allows more investment, and that should be enough to keep the capital expenditure above 30% of GDP, which is quite good… Does this mean the rupee will rebound? I think there are a lot of variables here… The Eurozone… The U.S. and China… If all’s well in those three corners of the world, the rupee should be able to mount a rally. Speaking of China… The Chinese renminbi has been sliding weaker in the past week, which is something we don’t see a lot of, but it is happening, right here, right now… I think the Chinese Gov’t is very fearful of a slowdown from the Eurozone, and a no-pick up of demand from the U.S. which would be a shot to both sides of the Chinese bow… So, the Chinese Gov’t is lowing interest rates, increasing money supply, and allowing the renminbi to get weaker, in hopes of all these things helping to offset the problems in the Eurozone and U.S. How much weaker will they allow it get? Good question, Chuck, man you do come up with some good questions, every now and then, how do you do it? Well… I get lucky! HA! Seriously though… that is a good question, and one to not take so lightly, Chuck! Well, I can’t put a number or percentage on it, but it could be significant, and then… it might just be a tempest in a teacup… I’m thinking, that it might be the latter of the two… OK… back to the euro for a minute… the single unit fell to 1.2666 overnight, but it is being reported that the market got too short the euro, and a “short squeeze” was on, thus allowing the euro to rebound to 1.2750, which is where it is right now… Elsewhere… Australian Retail Sales for November were flat, which was a disappointing result, and pushed the Aussie dollar (A$) weaker this morning. Canadian Consumer Confidence rose in the 4th QTR (the index rose to 107.4 from 105.1 the previous quarter) I keep reporting strong data from Canada, and the Bank of Canada (BOC) continues to sit on its hands… Maybe the stronger than expected U.S. jobs report will give the BOC reason to get off their hands… But probably not… Then there was this… Well, the BLS doesn’t give us a breakdown of the jobs created, so there are private companies that do that… And reported one such company. ITG Investment Research … their chief economist, Steve Blitz, said, “The good news is that employment is up. The bad news is that the higher paying jobs have yet to return.” Blitz pointed out that the average hourly earnings were unchanged, and that 20% of the increase in private payrolls was for messengers and couriers. Net hires at restaurants and retailers (Christmas ) and the aforementioned messengers made up 44% of the jobs added in December. Chuck again… Yes, this is exactly what I thought would be the case… As I’ve always told you, and long time readers will have grown tired hearing this… The Jobs Jamboree is just a number… to get the real story… look to the Average hourly earnings and the Average Work week hours… I thought on Friday that something didn’t look right, and there it was right there… 200,000 jobs created, according to the BLS, and no change in the average hourly earnings? Tells you a lot! To recap… sorry, forgot the recap on Friday… The recap today, is that the Jobs Jamboree printed stronger than expected at 200,000, jobs created in December, and the dollar rallied on the data! This was the first time the dollar had rallied on a stronger jobs report in some time, and could indicate that we are returning to assets trading on fundamentals! The Chinese renminbi has taken a ride on the slippery slope of weakness this past week… One has to wonder if the Chinese are willing to absorb the critics of a weaker renminbi… The ECB meets this week, and while rates are going to go lower in the Eurozone in 2012, they won’t at this meeting, or so Chuck thinks… Currencies today 1/9/12… American Style A$ $1.0230, kiwi .7860, C$ .9725, euro 1.2770, sterling 1.5450, Swiss $1.0510, … European Style: rand 8.1415, krone 6.00, SEK 6.9215, forint 245.55, zloty 3.5105, koruna 20.2350, RUB 31.89, yen 76.75, sing 1.2950, HKD 7.7650, INR 52.51, China 6.3144, pesos 13.71, BRL 1.85, Dollar Index 81.09, Oil $101.21, 10-year 1.97%, Silver $28.95, and Gold… $1,620.65… That’s it for today… It will be a short week for yours truly, as I head out of town on Thursday, and return next week. I’ll miss my oldest son, Andrew’s birthday on Thursday, so Happy Birthday, son… Andrew’s lovely bride, Rachel had a surprise birthday party for Andrew Saturday night… I can’t believe he’s 30! Where did the years go? It seems like a year or two ago, that I dropped him off at the University of Missouri! Youngest son, Alex, went 2 & 2 in his wrestling tournament this past weekend. I just saw a story title go across the screen that said, “Sales of Super Yachts Increase”… Hmmm… yes my order for one hasn’t come in yet! HA! I hope you have a Marvelous Monday and a Wonderful Week… Chuck Butler President EverBank World Markets 1-800-926-4922 1-314-647-3837 read more

Disabled people could be at risk of violence and

first_imgDisabled people could be at risk of violence, and even “killings and euthanasia”, because of their portrayal by the UK government and media as “parasites” who live on benefits, according to unpublished comments by the chair of a UN committee.Theresia Degener, who chairs the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities, warns in the interview that such portrayals of disabled people are “very, very dangerous”.Her comments are even more critical and highly-charged than those she and her committee colleagues made during last month’s two-day public examination in Geneva of the UK’s progress on implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.Degener herself had told the UK government’s delegation that its cuts to social security and other support for disabled people had caused “a human catastrophe”, comments that were repeated by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in yesterday’s prime minister’s questions (see separate story).But her comments in the interview with a BBC journalist – which are believed to have not been broadcast – go even further.Degener (pictured) says that cuts to social security have been so severe that they have become “life threatening to many disabled people”, and she then talks about the impact of the austerity cuts on public attitudes to disabled people.She says in the interview that “disabled people being portrayed as parasites, living on social benefits, and welfare and the taxes of other people” was “very, very dangerous”.She says that such attitudes “will later on lead to violence against disabled people, we know it, if not to killings and euthanasia”.She stressed later to Disability News Service (DNS) that she was not comparing the situation in the UK to the propaganda used in Nazi Germany, where disabled people were often referred to by the state as “useless eaters” who led “burdensome lives” as a justification for the killing of as many as 275,000 disabled people by doctors.She told DNS: “I did not draw a comparison with Nazi Germany in the 1930s/40s because the current UK situation is in no way comparable to Nazi Germany.“I meant to alert more generally to the danger of dividing disabled people from the general population by ‘othering’ them as ‘parasites’.“There have been killings (disguised as mercy killings) based on such irrational thinking.”She says in the BBC interview: “I am not saying that [this violence] is happening right now in the UK, but this is why governments have to stop this kind of attitude.”Degener, who herself is German and a professor of law and disability studies, says that “although we would never as a human rights treaty body favour censorship, we think that media and the government have some responsibility in this regard”.Her comments follow concerns raised in the committee’s report about “the persisting occurring incidents of negative attitudes, stereotypes and prejudice against persons with disabilities… as well as concerning their social protection entitlements”.Her colleague Coomaravel Pyaneandee, a vice-chair of the committee, had said during the public examination that disabled people in the UK were “most concerned” about negative attitudes towards disabled people on benefits which were “fuelled” by the media and “government representatives”.Disabled activists and opposition politicians have repeatedly raised concerns that ministers or civil servants have briefed newspapers in a way that encourages them to report inaccurate and misleading articles, with headlines such as “75 per cent of incapacity claimants are fit to work” and “Disabled benefit? Just fill in a form”.In 2012, a report by Disability Rights UK found that disabled people increasingly believed that coverage of welfare reform and other disability issues in national newspapers was helping to fuel hate crime, with many of the respondents blaming rising hostility towards them on “government spin and distortion” and “rhetoric from the government about scroungers and benefit cheats”.The previous year, a letter from the Disability Benefits Consortium to Maria Miller, then the minister for disabled people, accused the government of causing disabled people “significant alarm” by releasing information about disability living allowance (DLA) that led to “misleading” media coverage.The letter warned her of the government’s obligations under the Equality Act not to “generate stigma, persecution or harassment of disabled people requiring support from the welfare system”.Degener also says in the BBC interview that, compared to other countries with “less economic power” and less advanced equality and discrimination legislation, the UK’s austerity policy was “less human rights oriented”, so that “UK appears to be a strong country when it comes to equal rights but a very, very weak country with relation to economic, social and culture rights”.She says the UK’s record on disability rights “is going backwards in a pace and to an amount that it worries us a lot” and that the evidence in front of the committee was “overwhelming”.Degener was not available this week to expand on her remarks, but she has given permission for them to be used by DNS.She made the comments in an interview recorded for BBC News on 31 August, following the publication of the committee’s “concluding observation” on the UK.The comments were recorded by the UN because the interview took place at the end of a press conference.BBC News has given DNS permission to quote from the interview, which appears to have been intended for its News at Ten programme but was not broadcast.A DWP spokeswoman did not respond directly to Degener’s comments, but repeated the government’s previous response to the committee’s concluding observations.She said: “We’re disappointed that this report does not accurately reflect the evidence we gave to the UN, and fails to recognise all the progress we’ve made to empower disabled people in all aspects of their lives.“We spend over £50 billion a year to support disabled people and those with health conditions – more than ever before, and the second highest in the G7*.“We’re committed to furthering rights and opportunities for all disabled people, which is why it is encouraging that almost 600,000 disabled people have moved into work in the UK over the last four years.“We’re also a recognised world leader in disability rights and equality, which is why we supported the development of the UN convention.”She said the UK has “some of the strongest equalities legislation in the world, including the Equality Act 2010, and we will continue to make sure that these rights are protected”.She added: “This government believes that a disability or health condition should not dictate the path a person is able to take in life – or in the workplace.“This forms the foundation of our reforms to help disabled people realise their potential in the labour market and wider society.”She also directed DNS to the concluding remarks of Karen Jochelson, who heads the Office for Disability Issues and led the UK delegation at the public examination in Geneva, and which can be watched here from 3:04:41.*The other G7 countries are the USA, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and Canadalast_img read more

More Than 32 Million Twitter Passwords May Have Been Hacked And Leaked

first_imgImage Credit: ABC News Advertisement Last week Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s social accounts; Pinterest and Twitter were briefly hacked, with the details coming from the LinkedIn breach that happened in 2012, with the founder of the world’s biggest social network reusing the password “dadada.”This time around Twitter users have become the latest to have their security put at risk as data including unencrypted passwords on over 32 million accounts is being sold on the dark web for less than $6,000.According to LeakedSource, passwords are presented in plain text meaning they have not been encrypted and it is much more likely that the credentials were collected as a result of millions of users having their computers being infected with malware. – Advertisement – LeakedSource added saying that, the data is currently being traded on the dark web though it gives no indication of how much the data is being sold for.According to the online hacktivist known as The Jester, he wrote on his website, “The first indication was the low asking price of 10 Bit Coins (around $5000USD) – after investigation by myself and trusted associated who queried 32 Million records of the alleged TWITTER dump on the LEAKEDSOURCE website the following was deduced.”“After checking the dump against current Twitter registered emails and two old emails, the alleged TWITTER DB dump is made up of records from the last two previous TUMBLR and LinkedIn breaches. This conclusion was reached because the old adresses twitter registered emails that appeared in the TUMBLR and LINKEDIN breaches appeared and CURRENT Twitter registered email did not.”The database was given to LeakedSource by a user who goes by the alias “” who also provided the website with over 167 million LinkedIn credentials, 360 million Myspace accounts and most recently 171 million details on users of VKontakte (or VK), the equivalent of Russia’s Facebook. In total, LeakedSource now has a searchable database of over 1.8 billion stolen records.Analysis by LeakedSource of the 32,888,300 Twitters records each of which contains an email address, a username and a visible password suggests that many of the victims are based in Russia, with email addresses being the most prevalent in the leaked data.Twitter has not officially responded to the latest leak, but Michael Coates, who works on Twitter’s security team, said the company had seen the data and is working with LeakedSource to help protect those customers who are affected.Users can search the database here to see if they have been affected, and for those seeking to add more security to their Twitter account, the two-factor authentication can be switched on, which means anyone trying to log into your account from a new device will need to have a security code that is sent to your phone.Once again, the list of the most common passwords seen in the data shows a recognizable pattern with the likes of “123456,” “password” and “qwerty” all among the top five, International Business Times reported.last_img read more

UAB professor honored with the most prestigious prize for research in polycystic

first_imgReviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Apr 29 2019Bradley K. Yoder, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has been awarded with a Lillian Jean Kaplan International Prize for Advancement for his significant research in the polycystic kidney field.The Lillian Jean Kaplan International Prize is the most prestigious prize in the polycystic kidney disease field, and it recognizes individuals whose scientific work results in tangible achievement toward improving the knowledge and treatment of the disease.York Pei, M.D., a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, also was awarded a Kaplan Prize.Yoder and Pei will each receive a $50,000 prize award, a sculpture and a citation depicting their work. Both also were honorary lecturers this month at the World Congress of Nephrology in Melbourne, Australia. Andy Betts, CEO of the Kansas City, Missouri-based PKD Foundation, presented the awards during the congress.”I am extremely honored to be included among such a prestigious group of investigators,” Yoder said, “and I would like thank the Kaplan family for continued support of the PKD Research Foundation and of this award mechanism.””In reality,” said Yoder, “the recognition of these accomplishments should be given to the large number of students and fellows that have worked in my laboratory over the past 20 years. Their efforts have led to some remarkable and unexpected discoveries into the basic cellular mechanisms that underlie this disorder. Hopefully, in the near future, with continued advances, we will be able to find better approaches to slow progression or even preventing cyst formation.”Polycystic kidney disease, or PKD, is one of the most common life-threatening disorders in the world, affecting 12.4 million people. It is a chronic, genetic disease, characterized by uncontrolled growth of cysts in the kidneys and other organs that can lead to kidney failure. As of today, there is no known cure and only one known treatment to slow the decline of the disease.Related StoriesResearch highlights persistent gaps in quality of care for patients with chronic kidney diseaseBordeaux University Hospital uses 3D printing to improve kidney tumor removal surgeryAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapy”Dr. Yoder’s research over the past two decades has focused on ascertaining the function of the primary cilium in multiple tissues and during development,” the PKD Foundation noted, “with a long-standing interest in how loss of cilia function contributes to cyst development in the kidney.””His recent research has uncovered roles for primary cilia in regulating innate immune responses following renal injury that accelerates cyst progression. His group is pushing new frontiers using genetically engineered mouse models to analyze cilia-mediated sensory and signaling activities in vivo in live kidneys through intravital imaging approaches.”At UAB, Yoder holds the UAHSF Endowed Chair in Biomedical Research.Pei’s research focuses on genetic, genomic, clinical and translational research, and he has made a significant contribution to advance diagnosis, prognosis and development of novel treatment in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease.”The pioneering studies of these researchers provide great hope for the future for all PKD patients,” Betts said.The Lillian Jean Kaplan International Prize was established by the PKD Foundation and the International Society of Nephrology, through the generosity of Thomas Kaplan. It honors the memory of Kaplan’s mother, Lillian Jean Kaplan, who had PKD and died in 2002. The mission of the prize is to stimulate research leading to a PKD treatment and cure, generate momentum in the PKD field, and enhance public awareness of PKD. Since 2002, Kaplan has given more than $4.5 million to the PKD Foundation. Source: read more

In court clash Waymo says Uber decided to cheat to get ahead

Explore further Waymo CEO John Krafcik arrives for the start of a trial against Uber over the alleged theft of self-driving technology trade secrets A raucous Google-Uber fight is finally heading to trial Two tech giants racing for a lead in autonomous driving clashed Monday in court as former Google car unit Waymo’s lawyer argued that Uber’s boss deliberately chose “to cheat” to get a leg up on competitors. The accusations flew in the opening day of a blockbuster tech sector trial in which Google parent Alphabet’s Waymo division is seeking at least $1 billion over the theft of secrets from its self-driving car program.In opening remarks before the jury in San Francisco federal court, Waymo lawyer Charles Verhoeven maintained that Uber’s founder and former chief executive Travis Kalanick made the decision to use stolen trade secrets to enable the global ridesharing giant to move into autonomous driving. “He made a decision and the decision was to cheat,” Verhoeven said.”He made the decision that winning was more important than the law.”Uber has denied the allegations, which stem from a lawsuit claiming that former Google car executive Anthony Levandowski took thousands of files before leaving the unit for a startup called Otto later acquired by Uber.Verhoeven said Kalanick—who was ousted as CEO last year amid a move to reform Uber’s workplace culture—realized his company was lagging in efforts to develop autonomous technology and decided to take a dishonest route.Kalanick told his colleagues that “this all about winning,” the lawyer argued, and that Uber knew it could not catch Waymo because the Google car unit was “ahead of the pack.” – ‘No conspiracy’Uber attorney Bill Carmody sought to downplay the accusations and said the evidence would prove “there’s no conspiracy.”Carmody said evidence would show Google and Waymo were failing to invest enough to keep the most talented staff, enabling Uber to hire them.The Uber lawyer pointed to one email shown in court in which the former head of Google’s car unit complained that “we have stopped playing to win” and noting that Uber “is acquiring the people I suggested we hire 1.5 years ago.”In this context, Carmody said that for Uber, “spending hundreds of millions for (Otto) to get trade secrets, it doesn’t make sense.”If Waymo prevails, the trial could deal a severe blow to Uber’s efforts to widely deploy self-driving vehicles as part of its ridesharing operations—a field that also includes Waymo and other rivals.The trial comes with Uber seeking to turn the page following a series of scandals over alleged misconduct and a cut-throat workplace culture, as new chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi strives to get the company on course and prepare for a stock market debut in 2019.With Uber’s scandals becoming increasingly public over the past year, Judge William Alsup felt compelled to tell the jury to focus on the facts, not on Uber’s reputation.”The central issue in this case remains whether or not Uber misappropriated Waymo’s trade secrets, not whether or not Uber is an evil corporation,” the judge said in written instructions.The trial could last up to three weeks, with witnesses likely to include Kalanick, Levandowski and key Google executives.To prevail, Waymo must show not only that documents were misappropriated but also that they were used for “unjust enrichment.”Documents introduced in court showed that Levandowski downloaded 14,000 documents from Waymo the same day he met with Uber in 2015.John Krafcik, the current CEO at Waymo, testified Monday that Levandowski’s departure “was a complete surprise to me,” and added that “I felt some disappointment with him leaving without telling me.”Krafcik said the company is suing because “parts of our technology was taken from us.”Documents showed Uber wanted to deploy 100,000 autonomous cars by 2020 but needed to catch up with Google, which had been testing the technology for seven years.One document said to have come from Kalanick suggested Uber find “cheat codes” to help advance its program and added that “it is war time.”Kalanick is expected to be a witness in the trial, and some top Google executives including co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin may also testify. Citation: In court clash, Waymo says Uber decided ‘to cheat’ to get ahead (Update) (2018, February 5) retrieved 18 July 2019 from © 2018 AFP This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more

How to take better photos with your smartphone thanks to computational photography

first_img Explore further A long exposure made with iPhone’s Live photo mode. Credit: Rob Layton Provided by The Conversation I started in photography more than 30 years ago with film, darkrooms, a bagful of cameras and lens, and later the inevitable switch to DSLRs (with digital single-lens reflex, light travels through the lens to a mirror [the reflex] that sends the image to the viewfinder and flips up when the shutter is fired for the image sensor to capture the image). But my photography now is done exclusively with an iPhone – because it’s cheaper and always with me. I have two accessory lenses, two rigs (one for underwater, the other for land), a tripod and a bunch of photography apps. It’s the apps that often are the powerhouse of computational smartphone photography. Think of it like a hotted-up car. Apps are bespoke add-ons that harness and enhance existing engine performance. And, as with car racing, the best add-ons usually end up in mass production.That certainly seems to be the case with Apple’s iPhone Xs. It has supercharged computational photography through its advances in low-light performance, smart HDR (High Dynamic Range) and artificial depth-of-field: this is arguably the best camera phone on the market right now.A few months ago that title was held by the Huawei P20 Pro. Before the Huawei it was probably Google’s Pixel 2 – until the Pixel 3 came out. This portrait of a young longbow archer was shot with the Halide app, the background blurred in Focos app, and final editing done in Lightroom CC for mobile. Notice the bowstring disappears in low-contrast areas on the depth map, showing limitations in a technology not yet perfected. Credit: Rob Layton The point is, manufacturers are leapfrogging each other in the race to be the best smartphone camera in an image-obsessed society (when was the last time you saw a smartphone marketed as a phone?).Phone producers are pulling the rug from beneath traditional camera manufacturers. It’s a bit like the dynamic between newspapers and digital media: newspapers have the legacy of quality and trust, but digital media are responding better and faster to market demands. So too are smartphone manufacturers.So, right now, the main areas of smartphone computational photography that you may be able to employ for better pictures are: portrait mode; smart HDR; low light and long exposure.Portrait modeConventional cameras use long lenses and large apertures (openings for light) to blur the background to emphasise the subject. Smartphones have small focal lengths and fixed apertures so the solution is computational – if your device has more than one rear camera (some, including the Huawei, have three). Yes, you expect it to do the usual auto-focus/auto-exposure functions that are the hallmark of point-and-shoot photography. But your phone may also capture and stack multiple frames (sometimes before you even press the button), capture the brightest and darkest parts of the scene, average and merge exposures, and render your composition into a three-dimensional map to artificially blur the background.The term for this is computational photography, which basically means that image capture is via a series of digital processes rather than purely optical ones. Image adjustment and manipulation take place in real time, and in the camera, rather than in post-production using any editing software. Computational photography streamlines image production so everything – capture, editing and delivery – can be done in the phone, with much of the heavy lifting done as the picture is taken.A smartphone or a camera?What this means for the everyday user is that your smartphone now rivals, and in many cases surpasses, expensive DSLR cameras. The ability to create professional-looking photos is in the palm of your hand. An image in portrait mode that shows the 3-D depth map generated to control the bokeh (blur). Credit: Rob Layton This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. Citation: How to take better photos with your smartphone, thanks to computational photography (2019, January 9) retrieved 17 July 2019 from Light trails, such as the main image (top) of London’s Tower Bridge and these images (below) of downtown San Francisco and a fire-twirler are an additive process to capture emerging highlights. A tripod is essential unless you use Adobe’s free editing app Lightroom (iOS and Android), which has a very good camera with a long exposure feature that adds auto-alignment to its image stacking.Long exposure in iPhone’s native camera app can be made by tapping the Live mode button. The iPhone records before you press the shutter, so you need to keep the camera stable before and after you take the picture. Then, in the Photos app, swipe the image up to reveal four modes: Live, Loop, Bounce and Long Exposure. The key to successful smartphone photography is to understand not just what your phone can do, but also its limitations, such as true optical focal length (although this device by Light is challenging that). However, the advances in computational photography are making this a dynamic and compelling space.It is worth remembering, too, that smartphones are merely a tool, and computational photography the technology that powers the tool. This old adage still rings true: it is the photographer who takes the picture, not the camera. Mind you, the taking is becoming so much easier.Happy snapping. Smart HDRThe human eye can perceive contrast far greater than cameras. To bring more highlight and shadow detail into your photo (the dynamic range), HDR (High Dynamic Range) is a standard feature on most newer smartphones.It draws on a traditional photography technique by which multiple frames are exposed from shadows to highlights and then merged. How well this performs depends on the speed of your phone’s sensor and ISP (image signal processor).A number of HDR apps are also available, some of which will take up to 100 frames of a single scene, but you may need to keep your phone steady to avoid blurring. Try (iOS) Hydra, ProHDRx or (Android) Pro HDR Camera. An underwater housing for iPhone (AxisGo by Aquatech) was used to capture this picture of a father and daughter swimming in the ocean. Credit: Rob Layton Low-light and long exposureSmartphones have small image sensors and pixel depth, so they struggle in low light. The computational trend among developers and manufacturers is to take multiple exposures, stack them on top of each other, and then average the stack to reduce noise (the random pixels that escape the sensors).It’s a traditional (and manual) technique in Photoshop that’s now automatic in smartphones and is an evolution of HDR. This is how the Google Pixel 3 and Huawei P20 see so well in the dark.It also means that long exposures can be shot in daylight (prohibitive with a DSLR or film) without risk of the image overexposing. In an app such as NightCap (Android, try Camera FV-5), long exposures are an averaged process, such as this (image above) three-second exposure of storm clouds travelling past a clock tower.center_img It works by using both cameras to capture two images (one wide angle, the other telephoto) that are merged. Your phone looks at both images and determines a depth map – the distance between objects in the overall image. Objects and entire areas can then be artificially blurred to precise points, depending on where on that depth map they reside.This is how portrait mode works. A number of third-party camera and editing apps allow fine adjustment so you can determine exactly how much and where to put the bokeh (the blurred part of the image, also known as depth-of-field).Other than what’s already in a smartphone, (iOS) apps for this include Focos, Halide, ProCam6, Darkroom.Android apps are harder to recommend, because it’s an uneven playing field at the moment. Many developers choose to stick to Apple because it is a standardised environment. That said, you may try Google Camera or Open Camera A light-trails long exposure of London’s Tower Bridge, shot on iPhone8Plus using the NightCap app. Credit: Rob Layton, Author provided HDR exposes for shadow and highlight details to extend the dynamic range. Credit: Rob Layton Light Trails mode was used to capture this fire twirler at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast. Credit: Rob Layton Each time you snap a photo with your smartphone – depending on the make and model – it may perform more than a trillion operations for just that single image. A three-second exposure of passing storm clouds at midday, made possible through computation. Credit: Rob Layton Light Trails mode was used to capture passing traffic in this long exposure of downtown San Francisco. Credit: Rob Layton Stars are discernible in this image which proves astrophotography is possible on smartphone. Credit: Rob Layton Low-light photography shot on iPhone 8 Plus. Credit: Rob Layton Pixel 3: A turn to machine learning for depth estimations Light Trails mode was used to capture passing traffic in this long exposure of downtown San Francisco. Credit: Rob Layton An underwater housing for iPhone (AxisGo by Aquatech) was used to capture this picture of a father and daughter swimming in the ocean. Credit: Rob Layton This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Death toll in July 2 Malad wall collapse reaches 30

first_imgDeath toll in July 2 Malad wall collapse reaches 30Officials identified the deceased as Abhijit Ganpa Gade (23). advertisement Press Trust of India MumbaiJuly 17, 2019UPDATED: July 17, 2019 01:13 IST Photo for representationA person injured in the July Malad wall collapse incident died Tuesday, taking the toll t 30, a BMC official said.Officials identified the deceased as Abhijit Ganpa Gade (23).He died at BYL Nair Hospital in Mumbai Central, the official said.The wall collapse took place in Pimpripada area o Malad East amid heavy downpour across the metropolis.Also read: Four-storey building collapses in Mumbai’s Dongri, 7 killedALSI WATCH| Four-storey building collapses in Mumbai, over 40 trappedFor the latest World Cup news, live scores and fixtures for World Cup 2019, log on to Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for World Cup news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byIram Ara Ibrahim Nextlast_img read more

The rise of YS Jagan to power in Andhra Pradesh

first_imgFrom the Odarpu Yatra (Consoling tour) in 2010 to the Vijaya Yatra (Victory March) in May 2019, the political journey and rise to power of the 46-year-old YS Jaganmohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh is a tale of grit, determination and unstinted hard work.Under a decade, not only has he built a political party walking away from the parent Cong(I), leading which his father YS Rajasekhara Reddy won twice as Chief Minister of united Andhra Pradesh, but has won the trust of 5 crore people of Andhra Pradesh scoring a spectacular victory over the veteran Chandrababu Naidu.With the thumping victory in both the Assembly and the Lok Sabha elections, YS Jagan has demonstrated the virtues of knowing the pulse of the people, their aspirations and building a strong grassroots cadre. Enroute this triumph, he has derived goodwill from his father’s popular schemes such as ‘Arogyasri’ and education support to youth. In effect, he has done better than YSR, who won 185 seats in 2004.Jagan’s serious tryst with politics began on April 9, 2010. Still with the Congress he set out on the Odarpu Yatra to console the families of those who died of shock or gave up their lives following YSR’s untimely demise on September 2, 2009.In November 2010, after all attempts to get his due failed, Jagan resolved to bid adieu to the Congress party, resigned from his Kadapa Parliamentary constituency and also from the Pulivendula Assembly constituency later. In March 2011, he established the YSR Congress Party and announced its presence in style by winning the by-election in Kadapa, with a record majority of 5.45 lakh votes.His repeated mass contact programmes through rallies, visits to villages and finally, the record-breaking 3,600 km walk (Praja Sankalpa Yatra) in 340 days, interacting with a crore people during 2018-19 and in between reporting to the special CBI Courts every Friday fighting cases of `quid pro quo’, in which corporates, friends and bureacrats were involved, have in the final reckoning yielded rich results.Jagan has been a one man army as his election slogans too reflected—Jagan Anna vasthunnadu or Jagan Ane Nenu. He focused and spent all his energy and time on the State formed out of bifurcation of AP in 2014, even as his bitter rival Naidu was promising and selling big dreams to the people, talking and travelling globally to attract investments.The young leader hailing from Pulivendula in Kadapa district, will have age on his side as he gets ready to take on the reigns of the administering in the State.A major challenge that Jagan has to overcome is the long list of cases pending against him in courts.In addition, he has to “shed the image of brashness and dictatorial attitude’ projected by his opponents.That the electorate has overlooked these charges and gave him a huge mandate could well serve as a big confidence booster. He will have to strengthen the relationship with the Modi government at the Centre to serve the State’s interest. Jagan has taken the right steps with an unwritten political understanding at present.That Modi personally called him to congratulate and the BJP President, Amit Shah from a public meeting in Delhi, augurs well for him.His leadership skills and vision will come under scrutiny immediately as Jagan will have to handle the mega capital project of Amaravati (a pet project of Naidu, which Jagan’s party opposed and criticised). Jagan’s rise to power within a short time is a story of grit and determination state politics Andhra Pradesh May 23, 2019 RELATED COMMENTS Jagan Mohan Reddy   –  PTIcenter_img Elections 2019 SHARE SHARE EMAIL SHARE COMMENT Published on Jagan Reddy to be sworn in CM of AP on May 30last_img

Telangana 52 child labourers rescued from bangle factories in Balapur

first_img India Today Web Desk New DelhiJuly 13, 2019UPDATED: July 13, 2019 18:59 IST A boy carrying coal at an open cast coal field. (Reuters image used for representation)At least 52 child bonded labourers were on Saturday rescued from a number of bangle factories in Balapur suburb in Ranga Reddy district, Telangana. The children were rescued after Balapur police conducted raids at six locations across the suburb.The child labourers were rescued during a joint operation by Rachakonda ‘Operation Smile’ team and the Balapur police at various factories where bangles were being manufactured.A total of 52 children working as bonded labourers have been rescued.Speaking to news agency ANI, a Balapur police officer said that all the children have been shifted to a rescue home and a case in this regard has been registered. A team has also been deployed to nab the owners of the factories where raids were conducted.The children will be handed over to their parents after the investigation in the case is completed.”The 52 children have been shifted to rescue home and a case is being registered under JJ Act & Child Labour Act in Balapur police station. A team deployed to nab accused. After a complete investigation, the rescued children will be handed over to their parents,” a Balapur police officer said.The 52 child labourers have been rescued just two days after 42 bonded labourers, including 16 children, were rescued from two locations in Tamil Nadu. The labourers were rescued from two wood cutting units in Kancheepuram and Vellore.In June, 26 child labourers were rescued from the plant of popular biscuit brand Parle-G in Raipur.A government task force on child labour had received a tip-off that minors were employed at Parle-G factory in Amasivni area, said Vidhan Sabha Police Station House Officer (SHO) Ashwani Rathore.Also Read | 26 child labourers rescued from Parle-G plant in ChhattisgarhAlso Read | World Day Against Child Labour: 11 child labour laws you need to knowAlso Watch | This man uses art to project the pains of bonded labourFor the latest World Cup news, live scores and fixtures for World Cup 2019, log on to Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for World Cup news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byChanchal Chauhan Telangana: 52 child labourers rescued from bangle factories in BalapurThe child labourers were rescued during a joint operation by Rachakonda ‘Operation Smile’ team and the Balapur police at various factories where bangles were being manufactured.advertisement Nextlast_img read more

UP roadways plans to deploy device to wake up drowsy bus drivers

first_img Next UP roadways plans to deploy device to wake up drowsy bus driversThe special device is made with Israeli technique and is being manufactured by a Pune-based company. Each device costs about Rs 40,000.advertisement Indo-Asian News Service LucknowJuly 13, 2019UPDATED: July 13, 2019 19:11 IST Special device is made with Israeli technique and is being manufactured by a Pune-based company | File photo from REUTERSHIGHLIGHTSDevice will produce beep sound and red light warning if driver feels sleepyEach device costs about Rs 40,000A proposal to acquire more of these devices will now be sent to state governmentThe Uttar Pradesh State Roadways Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) is planning to deploy special devices in buses that will prevent drivers from dozing off on long-distance routes.The device, equipped with special sensors, will initially warn the driver with a beep sound and red light in the event of him getting sleepy during driving and later slow down the vehicle and put emergency brakes to stop it altogether.A senior UPSRTC official said that a decision to this effect has been taken after the recent accidents on the Yamuna Expressway where drivers have apparently dozed off while driving.The official said that the special device is made with Israeli technique and is being manufactured by a Pune-based company. Each device costs about Rs 40,000.As a pilot project, the device is being used in two buses on the Lucknow-Nepalganj route and two others on the Lucknow-Gorakhpur route and the feedback has been good.A proposal to acquire more of these devices will now be sent to the state government.The UPSRTC official said that the device will be installed on the dashboard of the vehicle. The device will produce a beep sound and red light warning as soon as the driver’s hold on the steering wheel slackens due to slumber.In case, the driver does not react to the beep sound and the slackness continues, the device will automatically put brakes on the bus. The device will also keep an eye on the road ahead and alert the driver in case of over-speeding and overtaking.Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has already warned transport department officials, saying they cannot escape responsibility for road accidents by blaming drivers.He has asked the Yamuna Expressway authority to follow safety measures strictly. He further asked the department officials to deploy two drivers on state-run buses on routes more than 400 km long, so that they can drive the vehicle alternatively.Also Read | Need for speed on Yamuna Expressway remains uncontrolled despite deadly accidentsAlso Read | 29 dead as Delhi-bound bus falls into drain on Yamuna Expressway, several injuredAlso Watch | Bus travelling on Yamuna Expressway falls into drain, 29 dead, several injuredFor the latest World Cup news, live scores and fixtures for World Cup 2019, log on to Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for World Cup news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byMohak Gupta Tags :Follow UPSRTCFollow TransportFollow Uttar Pradeshlast_img read more