R1.8-bn sugar fuel plant for KZN

first_imgIn South Africa sugarcane is mostly grown in KwaZulu-Natal, with some farming operations in the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga provinces. (Image: South African Sugar Association)Nicky RehbockFind out more about using MediaClubSouthAfrica.com materialPrivate investors have injected R1.8-billion (US$200 000) into building a new sugar-processing facility in the rural area of Makhathini, in the far north of KwaZulu-Natal province, Engineering News reports.The project, which is a joint initiative by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), local municipalities and sugar growers, aims to produce ethanol and other sugar by-products from raw sugarcane.Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is an alternative fuel that can be blended with petrol to produce fuel with a higher octane rating and lower harmful emissions. It is produced by fermenting materials that contain starch or sugar.DTI director for agroprocessing Imamaleng Mothebe said, “The biggest advantage of the project is that it would justify investment in much needed critical infrastructure within one of the least developed regions of the country.“Once completed, the improved infrastructure in the area should generate more investments in areas other than just sugar. The role of the DTI is to facilitate investment into Makhathini.“The investment into the project is 100% private-sector funded through development financing institutions, as well as some members of the sugar industry and other private investors,” she added.Mothebe revealed that state-owned power utility Eskom, which generates 95% of the electricity used in South Africa, was one of the stakeholders in the Makhathini project.“There is work between Eskom, the Industrial Development Corporation and the Central Energy Fund around issues of cogeneration and ethanol.”DTI director-general Tshediso Matona said the project will play an important role in aiding rural development.“For South Africa, it is important that an appropriate policy environment be created that would establish real markets for renewable energy products,” he said.“This will not only improve our overall carbon footprint, but will unlock substantial further investments in the sugar sector.”South African Sugar Association chairperson Martin Mohale said the markets for sugarcane-based renewable energy will create major opportunities for the South African sugar industry.The Makhathini sugar-processing facility will be commissioned in 2011 and is estimated to create 1 800 direct jobs.SA sugar industryThe South African sugar sector comprises approximately 38 200 registered sugarcane growers farming predominantly in KwaZulu-Natal, with some operations in the provinces of the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga.The industry produces an estimated average of 2.3-million tons of sugar per season.About 60% of this sugar is marketed in the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu), which includes Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland. The remainder is exported to markets elsewhere in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.Based on revenue generated through sugar sales in the Sacu region as well as world market exports, the South African sugar industry is responsible for generating an estimated average income of R7-billion ($700 000) a year.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Nicky Rehbock at nickyr@mediaclubsouthafrica.com Related articlesGreen charcoal to save forestsSA delves into carbon storage 2009 – the Year of Natural FibresUseful linksSouth African Sugar AssociationDepartment of Trade and Industry Engineering Newslast_img read more

Bright future for FNB Stadium

first_imgThe calabash-designed venue was a hub of activity during the World Cup.(Image: Bongani Nkosi)The FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, a hub of activity during the 2010 Fifa World Cup, is the most profitable facility that was built or renovated in South African for tournament matches – and its success as a venue looks set to continue.The stadium, also referred to as Soccer City, is now back to hosting big sport games like the Soweto Derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, other premier league football matches, as well as international football and rugby matches.World-famous entertainers are also billed to perform at the 94 000-capacity venue in the coming months, said Jacques Grobbelaar, director of Stadium Management South Africa which manages the FNB facility, Soweto’s Orlando and Dobsonville stadiums and Rand Stadium in southern Johannesburg.“Big stars are coming to the stadium,” said Grobbelaar at a media briefing at the stadium on 22 September.It’s been confirmed that US pop sensation Neil Diamond will perform there later this year.Although there are concerns that the 10 World Cup stadiums won’t be used to their full potential, this is not the case with the multi-purpose FNB facility, said the management group which has been given full responsibility to run the venue owned by the City of Johannesburg.Tickets snapped up for FNB matchesThe government renovated the FNB Stadium at a cost of R3.3-billion (US$46.6-million) ahead of the global football spectacle.Since hosting the momentous World Cup matches, including the opening and final, FNB went on to stage four high-attendance football and rugby matches, two of which were sold-out events.The sold-out Telkom Charity Cup, which provided all-day football activities in August, was held there, followed later in the month by a historic Tri-Nations match between South Africa’s national rugby side the Springboks and the All Blacks of New Zealand. Some 92 000 tickets were snapped up for this face-off.Bafana Bafana beat Ghana at the stadium in a well-attended match on 10 August.It was also a playground for the first round of the MTN Top 8 semifinal between Soweto giants Chiefs and Pirates, which attracted more than 50 000 spectators. The second round will also be at the stadium on 25 September.“Pirates and Chiefs will play their big matches here,” Grobbelaar said.Stadium Management South Africa has secured further agreements with Chiefs and Pirates, the biggest premier league clubs in Johannesburg, to use Rand Stadium and Orlando Stadium for their home matches.Chiefs played its home matches outside Johannesburg during the previous season, although it’s traditionally a Soweto-based team. Another Soweto premier league outfit, Moroka Swallows, plays its home matches at Dobsonville Stadium.It’s taken more than luck to strike these agreements with such big teams, Grobbelaar said. It took the company 14 months to get Chiefs to agree to play at Rand Stadium, and negotiations with Pirates dragged on for nine months.It took 18 months to bring the Tri-Nations match to FNB, according to Grobbelaar. “We were quite chuffed with finalising those agreements,” he said.“It’s not the fact that we’re lucky, all stadiums are competing [for these games].”Negotiations are under way with the Golden Lions rugby team to be moved to FNB.Stadium financially sustainableThe stadium requires about R2.5-million ($35 000) for maintenance each month – but this is no problem for management because “we’ve put proper content by attracting Chiefs and Pirates”, said Grobbelaar.Management is “doing well” in “meeting the financial demands”.“We don’t have any concerns about sustainability. We know that the stadium will be utilised,” said Grobbelaar.The FNB Stadium receives no funding from the City of Johannesburg for maintenance. “We accepted full financial responsibility of the stadium.”Grobbelaar said 40% of the management group’s profit is ploughed into community development projects around Johannesburg.last_img read more

Call for South Africans to preserve our indigenous heritage and knowledge during Heritage Month

first_imgJohannesburg, Tuesday, 1 September 2015 – September not only marks the beginning of spring – the season of new beginnings – but also the commemoration of South Africa’s Heritage Month, when the nation celebrates and recognises the cultural and social wealth and diversity of South Africa.• Download press releaseThis year, National Heritage Month 2015 is observed under the theme “Preserving our indigenous heritage and knowledge” with the aim of strengthening and harnessing shared heritage, diverse cultures, languages and religions, and fostering shared national consciousness that make up the DNA of South Africa’s rich heritage.Heritage Month is recognised as an opportunity for South Africans to reaffirm once more that what unites us far outweighs that which divides us. It is a time to celebrate the profound influence of the nation’s cultural and social heritage, to promote national pride and patriotism.South Africans are socially diverse, yet united by their love for the country and the national flag. And this year’s theme presents an opportunity to highlight the common national identity that will allow the nation to break through the barriers of culture, race or religion that still divide us and also offer the prospect to strive for a common national identity that is supported and cherished by all.The preamble to the Constitution of South Africa captures and defines the basis of our common heritage by stating that: “We, the people of South Africa, Recognise the injustices of our past; Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.”In the words of Oliver Reginald Tambo, one of the nation’s main architects of our democracy: “We are one people with a rich cultural heritage which manifests itself in many variations. Our task is not to preserve our culture in its antique forms but to build on it and let it grow to assume a national character, the better to become a component of all evolving world culture.”Brand South Africa calls on all citizens to play their part to break down the barriers of our diversity and find the common traits that define us as South Africans. This will be the most sustainable route towards strengthening our pride and patriotism which will drive the active citizenship that will move South Africa forward.Let us all play our part and commemorate Heritage Month 2015.Follow the conversation on @Brand_SA #HeritageMonth2015last_img read more

3 rules on how to use VR data analytics for your product

first_imgYou’ve heard about it in the office, read about it in the New York Times, and maybe even demoed it in the NYC Samsung store — virtual reality is here and is capturing the curiosity of consumers and transforming the way businesses operate.Marketers, gamers, teachers, entrepreneurs, producers, you name it — everyone wants a piece of the shiny new industry. Why now?See also: What brands need to know about AR and VRVR has been around for decades and yet, according to Google, search volume about the topic has increased by 400 percent in the past year alone. Vast technological improvements have recently equipped the industry with the proper tools to show consumers the power of immersive media to transform our world.While the concept of virtual reality has been around since the ’60s, the actual benefits of extracting and analyzing data from VR experiences have just been gifted to the world in a big red bow. Let’s unwrap it and see if it fits.#1: There is no industry without analyticsEconomic standards do not exist until industries create them; this is not accomplished until data is used for what it does best — provide answers. Whether it’s Google Analytics data for the web or Nielsen statistics for television, every company must be able to draw accurate analyses from their data.Play counts don’t cut it in 2017. What knowledge do you gain from page views and click counts? Does a click prove actual viewability? And does a view prove engagement? Of course not. View, share, and click metrics don’t incorporate human visual perception. Thus, by not taking actual consumer actions into account, there’s no real value stemming from the data.In contrast, effective virtual reality analytics provide you with statistics of the trends and outliers that you weren’t aware of but should be; when creating and revising your content. VR analytics provide real value in understanding your audience’s preferences and behavior. Once a deep understanding is achieved, the opportunities are endless. Refine your target market, strategy, reach or whatever it may be, because knowing your audience’s varying tastes provides answers to the questions you didn’t even know you had.#2: Attention is the currency of the 21st centuryData is the new gold standard. The New York Times stated in 2007 that people saw an average of 5,000 ads per day; imagine how many ads we see as media evolves. We live in a world full of distractions, so it’s increasingly rare to have someone’s complete attention.Virtual reality provides the opportunity for an experience totally void of distraction, letting the user naturally engage with the experience. Use the world’s newfound enthusiasm and curiosity for VR to your advantage. Make use of the time consumers spend in this intimate world wisely by logging what users are looking at as actionable business intelligence.Virtual reality users generate data regardless of whether or not you take action — it’s a matter of collecting and sorting the data. For the first time, the combination of the user’s physical behavior and their physical interaction from the VR headset actively tells you what people are engaging with — you just have to listen.#3: Make sure there’s a “what” behind the “wow”We’ve all seen it — the smiles, the laughs, the screams, the squelches — but not all VR experiences are the same. Let’s put it this way: if we go see a comedy, we aren’t laughing at the same jokes or even if we are, we aren’t necessarily laughing for the same reasons. So why does VR elicit the reactions that it does?Understanding the semantics helps us solve the equation — it’s simple algebra. We have the solution, now let’s solve for the variable — what gets users to that “wow” moment. The “wow” is the optimal outcome of the VR experience, while the “what” is the user’s participation or contemplation.When Kevin Durant was considering leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors, the Warriors co-owner, Peter Guber, wanted Durant to feel what it was like to be a Warrior. Since Durant was still playing for the Thunder and couldn’t publicly announce his possible move to the Warriors, he couldn’t go to Oakland to see the locker room or have a feel for the court and the team.Or could he? An enthusiast of both basketball and virtual reality, Guber made a custom VR experience to show KD what it would really be like to be a Golden State Warrior. While actually sitting on a couch in the Hamptons, Durant was virtually walking around the Oracle Arena with fellow Warriors Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and other future teammates. He felt the team’s camaraderie inside the Warrior’s huddle, he saw the spirit of the players as they ran out to court on game night, he heard the crowd go wild at tip off; he got a true taste of what it would be like to be a Golden State Warrior.But which of those feelings overwhelmed him to the point of wanting to be a part of their team? Wouldn’t it be valuable for the Warriors to know exactly what Durant was watching when he agreed to sign with them? On a macro level, imagine if we could have this information for even a quarter of the players in the NBA. We’d know what these players care most about and what truly drives them to be a dedicated athlete — is it the team’s culture, the fame, the love of the game, or the victories that keep the players on the court? For Durant, we can only speculate.As we all now know, the user experience is key. Understanding the sensory value of a user’s experience is essential in order to replicate it. What is making your user smile or say, “wow, this is so cool” when they’re locked in your story in virtual reality? Knowing what led to the smile, or any emotion, is essential in optimizing the way users get to the “wow!” moment.So let’s recap. It’s important to remember that:There is no industry without analytics: for VR to become a viable industry, we need data and we need to make data-driven decisions.Attention is currency: with our ever multi-tasking society, learning how and on what users spend their time tells us what is most important to them.There is a “what” behind the “wow:” knowing what specifically is driving the reactions of people experiencing VR will drive the industry to new heights and ultimately monetize a guideless industry.Look out for part two as we dive deeper into the world of virtual reality analytics and most importantly how this industry will be monetized.This article is part of our Virtual Reality series. You can download a high-resolution version of the landscape featuring 431 companies here. Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Internet of Things Makes it Easier to Steal You… Tags:#AR#Augmented Reality#featured#Internet of Things#IoT#Samsung#top#virtual reality#VR Small Business Cybersecurity Threats and How to…center_img Related Posts Follow the Puck Clara Moskowitzlast_img read more

TNT KaTropa trade away Terrence Romeo to preserve team chemistry

first_imgDon’t miss out on the latest news and information. SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion MOST READ Lacson: 2019 budget delay due to P75-B House ‘insertion’ Paul Desiderio, Abu Tratter join NLEX practice amid impending trade to Blackwater David Semerad and Brian Heruela, who have been playing behind the shadows of the multi-titled Beermen’s established stars, were given up by San Miguel together with its first round pick in 2021.The deal, which has been forwarded to the Commissioner’s Office for approval of Willie Marcial, was reached Monday, a day after the 2018 Draft, as Texters’ management deemed it best to release Romeo rather than risk jeopardizing chemistry in the team.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefAn Inquirer source, who knows everything about what is happening in the team but who spoke on the condition that he is not identified, bared that seven TNT players have sought out management practically petitioning Romeo’s removal from the team.The same source said that the team biggest stars were the ones who talked to management about it. TS Kammuri to enter PAR possibly a day after SEA Games opening LATEST STORIES Hotel management clarifies SEAG footballers’ kikiam breakfast issue View commentscenter_img Lacson: PH lost about P161.5B tax revenue from big trading partners in 2017 PLAY LIST 03:46Lacson: PH lost about P161.5B tax revenue from big trading partners in 201701:30’Excited’ Terrence Romeo out to cherish first PBA finals appearance00:50Trending Articles02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Is Luis Manzano planning to propose to Jessy Mendiola? “He (Romeo) ruined the chemistry in the team, from what we gathered,” the source said as he added that management and coaching staff are preparing to welcome Heruela and Semerad with open arms and give them the chance to really shine on their own with the Texters.“It’s such a pity because he is such a talented offensive player,” the source continued as the initial plan for Romeo to take over the team when Castro retires after TNT traded for him with GlobalPort last season will obviously not happen now.“But you cannot allow just one player—no matter how talented—to destroy what you’ve built over the years.”The source said that Romeo has gotten into fights with a lot of his teammates, most especially during practice sessions when coaches call for hard practices and he doesn’t want to get hurt.“He doesn’t want to be touched in practices and goes after his teammates when this happens,” the source said of Romeo. “And he wants everything to be centered on him, which cannot happen.”ADVERTISEMENT SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion The trade was the biggest to happen after the Draft, even bigger than the Poy Erram to NLEX deal that the Road Warriors and the Blackwater Elite have worked on.The source, however, felt that the deal with the Beermen could serve the PBA well, and that he wished Romeo continued success with his third team in a turbulent professional career.“He will be going to a star-studded team and joining that team will be a treat for the fans to watch,” said the source.Romeo first came to the league with GlobalPort and was traded after he had an on-court spat with coach Pido Jarencio live on national television, which prompted management to trade him away.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next LOOK: Joyce Pring goes public with engagement to Juancho Triviño Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting TNT KaTropa dealt away Terrence Romeo for two role players and a future Draft pick of San Miguel Beer, a move that came after management acted on fellow players’ requests to trade away the three-time PBA scoring champion.ADVERTISEMENTlast_img read more

Missing ministers from Narendra Modi government-I

first_imgNarendra Modi is ready with a refurbished Union cabinet in his second term as the prime minister on the back of a massive mandate in the Lok Sabha election with the BJP winning 303 seats on its own and the National Democratic Alliance crossing the 350 mark.PM Modi has inducted several new faces in the government. The biggest surprise was induction of former foreign secretary S Jaishankar in the Union cabinet.Among those missing from the Modi’s new cabinet are Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, both having opted out of the government citing health reasons. Uma Bharati, another Union minister in the previous government, also decided not to contest Lok Sabha eleciton and was not included in the new cabinet.On the other hand, there were many surprises in omission. PM Modi dropped many familiar faces of the previous government. Here are some of them:Maneka Gandhi: Weeks after courted controversy during the Lok Sabha election when she said Muslims should not approach her for work if they don’t vote for her in the polls, she found her name dropped from the list of ministers who took oath today. She was the women and child development minister in the previous government and was very active animal right activist.Jayant Sinha: He is the Lok Sabha MP from Hazaribagh parliamentary constituency in Jharkhand. He is the son of former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, now a bitter critic of the Modi government. As MoS in the previous government, Jayant Sinha handled finance and civil aviation portfolios.advertisementSuresh Prabhu: Another surprise omission from the new Narendra Modi cabinet. In 2014, Suresh Prabhu had become a bone contention between the Shiv Sena and the BJP. Prabhu was a Shiv Sena leader back then but Narendra Modi wanted him in his cabinet. Prabhu quit Shiv Sena and the BJP made him as Rajya Sabha MP to have him in the Modi cabinet.Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore: A former soldier and Olympic medal winner, he was one of the young faces in the Modi government. He was given key portfolios of youth and sports, and also of information and broadcasting in the previous government. He played key role in pushing PM Modi’s flagship programme Khelo India in the previous government.Radha Mohan Singh: He was a surprise entry as the cabinet rank minister for agriculture. He is considered as one of the under-performing ministers of the previous Modi government. He failed to find ways to rescue agriculture from the crisis it is steeped in. Farm crisis, in fact, worsened under his watch.Jagat Prakash Nadda: He is said to be the next BJP president. In the previous government, JP Nadda maintained a low profile but handled the portfolio of health-implementing initiatives of PM Modi in the sector. Considered as a strong organisational leader, Nadda is tipped to be Amit Shah’s successor as the BJP president as the party eyes winning assembly elections in West Bengal, Maharashtra and Delhi over the next couple of years.Manoj Sinha: A low-profile but hard-working politician, who was praised for his handling of the railway ministry as MoS in the previous Narendra Modi government. He was left out of the Modi’s new cabinet owing to his loss in the Lok Sabha election.Anupriya Patel: As an MoS in the health and family welfare ministry, she failed to make a distinct mark during the five years of the previous government. Even though her party won two Lok Sabha seats, like 2014 polls, in the parliamentary election, Anupriya Patel was left out of the government.Among others who were dropped in the new cabinet are Jual Oram of the BJP and Anant Geete of the Shiv Sena.last_img read more

Circ Profits Drive Hoffman Media to Fast Growth

first_img“The company is highly focused on circulation profitability, so we have never been in the business of growing rate base to abnormal and unhealthy levels just to gain additional advertising revenues,” says Eric Hoffman, executive vice president and COO. Hoffman says the company drives close to 80 percent of its revenues from subscriptions and newsstand sales.Headed by president and CEO (and FOLIO: 40 inductee) Phyllis Hoffman DePiano, Hoffman Media launched in the early 1980s with titles including Cross Stitch, Southern Lady and Tea Time. After launching 725,000-circ Cooking with Paula Deen in 2005, Hoffman Media struck up a joint-venture with Hearst in 2007 to relaunch Victoria magazine (paid circ base of 250,000), and launched Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade (also carries a paid circ of 250,000), a bimonthly title, last year. (Paula Deen and Sandra Lee are both hosts on the Food Network.)Hoffman says the company plans to bump Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade to a 300,000+ circ by mid-2011. And while he declined to offer any specific figures, Hoffman says the company was “on budget” through the first half in terms of revenue and expects to post “double digit” growth through the end of the year.“We believe that if we deliver premium content at a premium price, and let each title grow into its natural circulation level then our business will develop stronger and more stable earnings over time,” Hoffman says.  Online5%  Print10%  Subscriptions40%  Hoffman Media Revenue Breakdowncenter_img  Newsstand35% It’s no secret that managing a magazine publishing business is no easy feat, especially since the recession that rocked the economy hit in late 2008. But despite the massive hurdles, some companies are more than managing to stay afloat.This week, Inc. magazine released its annual list of the 5,000 fastest-growing privately-held companies in the U.S. In the media category, Penthouse publisher the FriendFinder Networks ranked number one among magazine publishers on the list. In addition to the magazine, FriendFinder is known best for its sexually-oriented online social networks.Coming in second among magazine publishing companies this year is Birmingham, Alabama-based Hoffman Media, the publisher of 11 magazines including Cooking with Paula Deen (the company ranked #38 in the media category and #3,102 overall). According to Inc., Hoffman increased its revenues 65 percent from $25 million in 2006 to $41.3 million in 2009. Revenues were up 5 percent last year compared to 2008. Meanwhile, EBITDA jumped 35 percent.  Events, ancillary products10%last_img read more

Digital photography begins its next chapter with radical changes

first_img Walmart Share your voice Why we need 16 cameras on a smartphone $849 Apple $589 30 See All $812 Stuart Palley, a professional wildfire photographer here standing in the Angeles National Forest, believes mirrorless cameras will replace conventional SLRs. Stuart Palley Digital photography has changed a lot over the past two decades, with clunky DSLRs giving way to sleek smartphones. Over the next 10 years, expect a similar evolution as the science behind the art changes. Much of the technology in use today represents the breakthroughs of the first generation of digital cameras. Film was stripped away and digital image sensors took its place, but much of the rest of the camera — things like lenses, shutters, autofocus systems — often stayed largely the same. Manufacturers centered camera designs on the single, fleeting snap of the shutter. Now two big trends are reshaping our expectations of digital photography. Computational photography, which uses computing technology to improve photos, vaults over the limits of smartphone camera hardware to produce impressive shots. And the “mirrorless” movement, which drops hardware once necessary for film and elevates the image sensor’s importance, overhauls the mechanics of traditional cameras. Old assumptions about optics are being reconsidered — or discarded — as computer processing takes over. “Cameras will change more in the next 10 years than in the past 10,” said Lau Nørgaard, vice president of research and development at Phase One, a Danish company that makes ultra-premium 151-megapixel medium-format cameras costing $52,000 apiece. See It Sep 1 • iPhone 11, Apple Watch 5 and more: The final rumors Best Buy The changes will matter to all of us, not simply professional photographers on fashion shoots. New technology will mean better everyday snapshots and new creative possibilities for enthusiasts. Everything — selfies, landscapes and family portraits — will simply look better. Computational photography For much of camera history, bigger meant better. A larger frame of film could capture more image detail, but that meant a bigger camera body. Bigger lenses offered more detail, but that meant more weight. Computational photography, which runs on powerful processors, will change that paradigm. And that’s good news because most of us rely on our phones for taking pictures. Perhaps some of the most advanced computational photography available now is in Google’s Pixel 3 phone, which arrived in October. Here’s some of what it can do: Combine up to nine frames into a single shot with a technology called HDR+ that captures details in both dark shadows and bright highlights. Monitor how much your hands shake the photo so it can snap shots during fleeting moments of stillness. Compare multiple shots of photos to find the ones where people aren’t blinking or suffering from awkward facial expressions. Brighten the parts of the image where it detects humans and slightly smooths skin to make subjects look better. Zoom in better by capturing more data about the scene from multiple shots and and using artificial intelligence technology that predicts how best to expand an image. Photograph in dim conditions by merging multiple shots through a technology called Night Sight. Isaac Reynolds, Google’s Pixel camera product manager, says his company’s product underscores a fundamental change in what we think cameras are. Much of the Pixel 3’s performance and features come not from the lens and sensor but from software running on the phone’s chip that processes and combines multiple frames into one photo. With a computational photography feature called Night Sight, Google's $900 Pixel 3 smartphone can take a photo that challenges a shot from a $4,000 Canon 5D Mark IV SLR.Enlarge ImageWith a computational photography feature called Night Sight, Google’s $900 Pixel 3 smartphone can take a photo that challenges a shot from a $4,000 Canon 5D Mark IV SLR, below. The Canon’s larger sensor outperforms the phone’s, but the phone combines several shots to reduce noise and improve color. Stephen Shankland/CNET “You’re seeing a redefinition of what a camera is,” Reynolds said. “The Pixel 3 is one of the most software-based cameras in the world.” Seeing in 3D It’s all pretty radical compared with a shutter flipping open for a moment so photons can change the chemistry of film. And it’s only the beginning. Two years ago, the iPhone 7 started using two cameras side by side, which lets the phone judge just how far away each element of the scene is. The phone’s computing hardware then constructs a 3D-infused layer of information called a “depth map” in which each pixel of a photo holds both color and spatial information. Initially, Apple used the technology to re-create a style used in portrait photography that requires expensive camera lenses. Those lenses could shoot a shallow depth of field that focused on the subject but left the background an undistracting blur. Apple used software to do the blurring. The depth map has more to offer. With Lightroom, Adobe’s widely used photo editing and cataloging software, you now can adjust an iPhone photo based on that 3D information. For example, you can selectively brighten shadowed subjects in the foreground while leaving a bright background unchanged. That’s a manual process photo enthusiasts will appreciate, but it should help smartphones take photos automatically, said Google distinguished engineer Marc Levoy, who coined the term “computational photography” in 2004 when he was at Stanford University. A camera that could generate reliable depth maps means a camera app could fix problems with brightness and color balance so photos look more natural. “We have just begun to scratch the surface with what computational photography and AI have done to improve the basic single-press picture taking,” Levoy said. This photo, shot with Adobe Lightroom on an iPhone XS Max, contains "depth map" information about how far away elements of the scene are. That lets you easily select foreground areas for brightening.This photo, shot with Adobe Lightroom on an iPhone XS Max, contains “depth map” information about how far away elements of the scene are. That lets you easily select foreground areas for brightening. Stephen Shankland/CNET Goodbye, SLRs Generations of photographers grew up using SLRs — short for single lens reflex. It’s named after its reflex mirror that bounces light from the lens into a viewfinder so you can compose a shot. When you take the photo, the mirror flips out of the way and the shutter opens to let light reach the film. The first serious digital cameras — DSLRs — replaced the film with an image sensor and memory card. But they left almost everything else the same — the mirror and viewfinder, the autofocus system, the mount for interchangeable lenses. Now mirrorless cameras are changing that setup, dumping the mirror and optical viewfinder. You compose your shots using a screen. It might be the screen on the back of the camera or a smaller electronic viewfinder you use like a film-era photographer. With mirrorless cameras, the sensor is recording nonstop. It’s essentially taking a video but throwing away most of the data, except when you push a button and pluck out a single frame. Indeed, this video-centric design makes mirrorless cameras adept at video. What’s so great about mirrorless designs? They offer smaller, lighter camera bodies that can shoot photos silently; use autofocus across the frame, not just in the central portion; make it easier to compose shots at night; shoot fast bursts of photos; and preview shots more accurately through an electronic viewfinder so you can do better dialing in exposure, focus and aperture. “There’s none of this dropping the camera down, looking at the image and seeing if it’s too bright or dark,” said wildlife photographer David Shaw, who sold his Canon gear to move to Panasonic’s Lumix G9 camera, which is smaller and a quarter the weight. “I can see it all as I’m shooting.” Canon and Nikon embrace mirrorless Mirrorless cameras have been gaining traction for years, but here’s what changed in 2018: Canon and Nikon. The two DSLR heavy hitters, still the top dogs of the traditional photography market, started selling high-end mirrorless models. Nikon’s Z7 and Z6 and Canon’s EOS R. Following Sony’s lead, they come with large “full-frame” sensors that are best at capturing color and light data. Nikon and Canon aren’t phasing out their traditional SLRs, but their mirrorless models will be peers. Meanwhile, mirrorless pioneer Panasonic joined in with plans for two full-frame models debuting in 2019. Nikon's $3,400 Z7 looks similar to traditional DSLR cameras but dumps the internal mirror in a move to a more purely digital design.Nikon’s $3,400 Z7 looks similar to traditional DSLR cameras but dumps the internal mirror in a move to a more purely digital design. Nikon Mirrorless is the future, says Stuart Palley, a Newport Beach, California, professional photographer whose specialty in wildfire photography appears in his new book Terra Flamma. “DSLRs are going the way of medium formats and Speed Graphics,” Palley said, referring to film-era camera designs that now are mostly footnotes in history. He’s begun shooting with a Nikon Z7 and likes how it’s lighter than his Nikon D850 DSLR. “It’s so liberating carrying around less,” Palley said. The Z7, like the Sony and Panasonic full-frame mirrorless models, also can move its image sensor to compensate for shaky hands — something utterly impossible with film. “I can shoot a handheld image of the Milky Way now. It’s crazy,” Palley said. Outpaced by phone innovation? The traditional camera makers are adapting. But will they adapt fast enough? There’s nothing in principle that stops them from using the same computational photography techniques that smartphone makers do, but so far that’s been a secondary priority. “The camera guys have to look at what’s going on with handsets and computational photography and see what’s’ adaptable to traditional cameras,” said Ed Lee, a Keypoint Intelligence analyst. He expects the pace of change in photography technology to increase. The phone makers are moving fast, but Phase One’s Nørgaard doesn’t see any problem embracing their technology. Indeed, the company has begun embedding its Capture One editing software directly into the camera body. “The cellphones make really good images from a small camera,” Nørgaard said. “We can do the same on the other end, where we start with an absolutely fantastic image. The software approach will push that even further.” But smartphones have gobbled up the point-and-shoot camera market and each year pick up more high-end camera abilities. Phones that sell by the tens of millions offer a huge incentive for chipmakers like Qualcomm to push photography technology. The company’s next-gen mobile chip, the Snapdragon 855, adds all kinds of photo smarts, like the ability to detect, identify and track objects in a scene, to create depth maps and to counteract shaky hands. And that’s just next year’s chip, said P.J. Jacobowitz, Qualcomm’s senior marketing manager for camera and computer vision. “In this book, there are about 50 chapters,” he said of digital photography tech. “We are in chapter two.” CNET’s Holiday Gift Guide: The place to find the best tech gifts for 2018. Cambridge Analytica: Everything you need to know about Facebook’s data mining scandal. Aug 31 • Best places to sell your used electronics in 2019 See It Review • Pixel 3 review: The best Android phone of 2018 Sep 1 • 7 phones with the best battery life: iPhone XR, Note 10 Plus and more Mentioned Above Google Pixel 3 (64GB, not pink)center_img Now playing: Watch this: 2:02 News • Unlocked Google Pixel 3: Just $499.99 with this exclusive code Preview • Pixel 3 and 3 XL: Google’s nicest Pixel might lack that killer feature $799 Tags See it CNET may get a commission from retail offers. Aug 31 • iPhone XR vs. iPhone 8 Plus: Which iPhone should you buy? Mobile Photography Cameras Sprint See It Comments • reading • Digital photography begins its next chapter with radical changes Google Pixel 3 Qualcomm Canon Google Nikon Panasonic Sony Applelast_img read more

UN might make peacekeeping operations more costeffective

first_imgUN secretary general António Guterres has said the UN is working hard to make all peacekeeping operations cost-effective and is constantly finding ways to reform, restructure and drive costs down.  “At the same time, UN peacekeepers are relentless in searching for new ways to build sustainable peace,” he said in a message marking the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers being observed today (Monday). Looking forward, the secretary general said they are aiming to do more to end operations that have achieved their goals. “We’re also reforming and adapting our peacekeeping missions to improve their effectiveness in the increasingly challenging environments in which they work.” The UN chief said peacekeeping operations have evolved from simply monitoring ceasefires to protecting civilians, disarming ex-combatants, protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law, supporting free and fair elections, minimising the risk of landmines and much more. He said they also work to ensure that women are fully represented in peace processes, political life, and in branches of government. “All these investments are fundamental to building lasting peace.” The UN secretary general paid tributes to more than 113,000 ‘Blue Helmets’, UN Police and civilian personnel deployed to 16 missions, according to the message received here from UN Information Centre here. “We acknowledge the contribution made by an ever-growing number of Member States to our operations,” said the UN chief in his message laying emphasis on investment in peace around the world. More than one million women and men who have served under the UN flag with professionalism, dedication and courage throughout our history. “And we honour the memory of more than 3,500 peacekeepers who lost their lives while serving,” said Guterres. Last year, he said, 117 peacekeepers paid the ultimate price and they included military, police, international civil servants, UN Volunteers and national staff from 43 countries. “So far in 2017, twelve peacekeepers have been killed.” “Our partnership is central to the success of peacekeeping missions, since Member States decide where troops go, what they will do, and what resources will support them,” said the UN chief. He said close cooperation from Member States is vital if they are to deliver on the promise of lasting peace, while peacekeepers create conditions on the ground to enable solutions to emerge and take root. “I’ve also prioritised ensuring that women play a far more active role in peace operations, as troops, police and civilian staff. Gender parity is essential for its own sake, and the presence of women increases the chances of sustained peace while reducing incidences of sexual abuse and exploitation,” the UN chief mentioned. The secretary general said for nearly 70 years, UN peacekeeping has proven to be one of the international community’s most effective investments in peace, security and prosperity. The demand for UN peacekeepers has risen steadily over the years, and deployment is now near an all-time high, said Guterres adding that peacekeeping has had a positive impact on the lives of millions of people around the world.last_img read more

Thai rescuers resume search for 23 survivors of capsized boat

first_imgA Thai navy boat carrying recovered bodies of passengers from a capsized tourist boat arrives at a pier in the tourist island of Phuket, Thailand on 6 July 2018.Despite fading hopes, rescuers in Thailand resumed a search on Saturday for 23 survivors after a boat carrying Chinese tourists sank off the island of Phuket in rough weather, while authorities began to investigate the boat’s operator.The death toll from one of the worst transport accidents in Thailand’s recent history reached 33, authorities have said, with 49 of the 105 passengers on the sunken Phoenix rescued, although 37 are still in hospital, some with severe injuries.”We will take any chance in the search for life,” Tourism Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said at the search site on Friday, following comments by a Marine Department official that there was probably “no chance” of finding more survivors.”Safety and service have to be placed above revenue,” Weerasuk added.Some Thais and tour operators have questioned why the boat was at sea during bad weather.Thai junta number two Prawit Wongsuwan has ordered an investigation into why it appeared to have ignored a weather warning, while police said they would seek to charge the captain and owner with negligence.The Phoenix, which was carrying 93 Chinese along with 12 Thai crew and tour guides, sank after being hit by five-metre (16-ft) -high waves in a storm on Thursday evening off Phuket, whose beaches and nightlife draw tourists.Thailand is in the middle of its rainy season, which usually runs from May to mid-October and often generates high winds and flash storms in coastal areas.Tourism is a key driver of growth in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, making up 12 percent of gross domestic product, and the most foreign visitors come from China.Many of the dead from the disaster were found drifting face down, wearing life jackets, near where it sank.The dead and injured were taken to a hospital on Phuket’s east coast, where relatives began to gather, with more expected over the weekend. Officials have asked for Chinese interpreters to assist.Thai officials on Saturday ordered boats not involved in the search to stay at anchor while it lasts.Accidents on the scale of this week’s disaster were “not good” for Thailand, said tourist police official Surachate Hakparn, adding, “We have to be more stringent.”Thailand is already in the global spotlight with a multinational rescue operation to save 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach trapped for days in a mountain cave in its north.last_img read more