Friday, April 11, 2014

drag2share: Watch filmmakers render realistic CG on the fly using $14k of graphics cards

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/11/construct-cg-rendering-nvidia/

A new short film teaser has taken digital character rendering to a new level, making real time motion capture a lot easier for animators. While working on "Construct" (see the stunning video after the break) filmmakers captured the movements of real actors in a studio, similar to how James Cameron did for Avatar. Instead of seeing the performer, however, the director saw a ray-traced version of the animated character on his screen. Though heavily pixelated, freezing the scene instantly gave animators a clear idea of the final result, something that can normally take hours in post-production. The system used custom software from ray-tracing outfit V-Ray powered by three top-of-the-line NVIDIA K6000 GPUs -- not exactly a home setup. Still, it's not hard to see how such tech could eventually power ultra-realistic gaming, though at $4,500 a pop or so for the graphics cards, we're not there yet.


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Via: CNET

Source: Construct Films (Vimeo)

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drag2share: Google Expands Android's Built-In App Scanning Security

Source: http://lifehacker.com/google-expands-androids-built-in-app-scanning-security-1561828851

Google Expands Android's Built-In App Scanning Security

Android: Today, Google announced that it's expanding its Verify Apps system to continually scan all apps installed on a phone to determine if they're malicious or harmful.

Previously, the Verify Apps system would only kick in if you installed an app from outside the Play Store, and it would only scan an app as its being installed. However, not only can apps change their behavior once they have permission to run, as we've learned recently, you can find crap software on the Play Store too.

The new system is rolling out via Play Services, so any device running higher than Android 2.3 should benefit. If an app is scanned and found to be potentially harmful, you'll receive a warning to either block installation or remove it from your system. You can also check out our guide on how secure Android really is for more information on how to protect yourself.

Expanding Google's security services for Android | Official Android Blog

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drag2share: Sadapter Adapts Micro- and Nano-SIMs to Different Sizes

Source: http://lifehacker.com/sadapter-adapts-micro-and-nano-sims-for-to-different-s-1561801476

Sadapter Adapts Micro- and Nano-SIMs to Different Sizes

Being able to swap your SIM card into a different phone is great—until you find out it isn't the right size. If you need to fit your Nano-SIM into a Micro-SIM slot, the Sadapter can help.

I recently broke my phone, and promptly pulled out my old iPhone 4 as a temporary replacement—only to find my Nano-SIM card wasn't compatible with its Micro-SIM slot. If you're getting a new phone, you can always just get a new SIM card, but this doesn't work if you just need it for a few days. (Similarly, you can always trim a card down, but you can't trim it back up).

Enter the Sadapter: a pack of three small SIM adapters that fit your Nano-SIM into a Micro-SIM or regular SIM slot, or fit your Micro-SIM into a regular SIM slot. It's a bit more expensive ($13) than other adapters on the market ($1-2), but unlike the cheap ones, it's less likely to get stuck or break, which can mean costly repairs to your phone.

I tested it in my iPhone 4 and it worked great: just snap your SIM in the slot, then stick it into your phone. You may not think you need one now, but it's one of those tools that will probably come in handy one day—so buy one and stick it in your toolbox now.

Sadapter Three Adapter Pack | Amazon

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drag2share: The Performance Benefits of Discrete Video Cards (Even for Non-Gamers)

Source: http://lifehacker.com/the-performance-benefits-of-discrete-video-cards-even-1561794672

The Performance Benefits of Discrete Video Cards (Even for Non-Gamers)

If you're a PC gamer, you know that upgrading your computer's video card will give you the best gaming performance boost. PCWorld argues, however, that a discrete graphics card belongs in most people's desktop PCs—not just gamers.

AMD's and Intel's integrated graphics (graphics technologies coupled with the processor) are pretty capable these days, but they're still far less powerful than discrete video cards when it comes to performance—and not just in games, either:

Games aren't the only applications that benefit from the power of a discrete GPU. AMD's and Nvidia's GPUs are made up of thousands of processors that can carry out multiple operations simultaneously. Any application that benefits from such parallel processing—be it an image-editing program like Photoshop, data-encryption software, or a distributed-computing project like Folding@Home or Seti@Home—will run faster with the assistance of a more powerful GPU.

PCWorld's tests show performance boosts of 3% to 19% on PCMark's productivity benchmarks when using discrete graphics cards (a ~$300 AMD Radeon R9 XFX card) versus integrated ones in the same systems. The greatest boosts were for the home suite than the work suite.

Even casual, browser-based games like Farmville and Angry Birds would have significant performance gains (about 1.5 to 2X the performance) from a discrete video card upgrade. The only place they didn't seem to help was in video playback.

Of course, plunking down hundreds of dollars for a new video card won't be worth it if the rest of the system is a bottleneck (an older processor or not enough memory). And there are other upgrades that will give you more bang for your buck, depending on your usage.

The tests suggest, though, that a discrete video card might not be just for gamers. Keep that in mind if you have the cash and are upgrading or building your own desktop PC to future proof it.

Tested: Why almost every desktop PC could use a video card upgrade | PCWorld

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Article: The first Quad HD AMOLED screen is here, but it's not from Samsung

Samsung is the engine of the AMOLED industry, but it’s not the only player developing organic LED technology for mobile devices. Competitors in China and Taiwan especially are making bi …

http://www.androidauthority.com/quad-hd-amoled-au-optronics-367542/

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drag2share: √ĘStaples is launching an in-store 3D printing service

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/10/staples-is-launching-an-in-store-3d-printing-service/

First it sold select 3D printers in stores, then it sold print-by-mail services in Europe -- now Staples is offering US customers a chance to print objects on-demand and on-site. The company's launch event is focusing on the fun side of 3D printing, serving up action figures and personalized Starfleet officers to walk-in customers, but Staples says it hopes the service will catch the attention of small businesses.

Customers will have access to up to seven kinds of printers and six types of materials in store, including the Cube and Cube X models Staples already sells. Larger jobs will be farmed out to 3D Systems -- the company behind the 3D printed guitar we saw at Engadget Expand last year. Don't have the modeling chops to prepare your on 3D-printable file? Staples has that covered too, and is planning to train graphic design consultants to help customers model their vision. Unfortunately, Staples hasn't announced pricing for any of these services yet, but at least the pilot program seems robust enough to give UPS a run for its money.

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Source: Staples (Twitter), Bloomberg Businessweek

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drag2share: Oppo's bringing another LTE phone to the US (and it might just be affordable)

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/11/oppo-r1-at-fcc/

Oppo R1

Oppo has a reputation for clever smartphones, but there's a good reason why you rarely see its devices in the US: it hasn't had local LTE data until the (currently unreleased) Find 7, and that's not exactly cheap. Imagine our surprise when we found a version of the R1 with US-capable LTE, fresh from FCC approval. The high-style, low-cost phone can now handle 4G data on T-Mobile and, to a limited extent, AT&T. It should also run quickly on Canadian providers.

Don't expect an official carrier deal when this variant arrives, though.

Given the lack of network branding, it's more likely to be sold in unlocked form to fans of the R1's looks and extra-bright f/2.0 aperture camera. Oppo hasn't said anything about this model, so it's not even clear that you'll get to buy one any time soon. Still, it's a further sign that the company is taking its North American audience seriously -- and it may save you some cash if you don't need everything the Find 7 has to offer.

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Source: FCC

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

drag2share: Nikon's J4 mirrorless camera has more megapixels, 20fps burst speed

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/10/nikon-j4-mirrorless-20-fps-burst/

Good things happen when you cram a fast image processor into a small camera body, as Nikon has shown with its new mid-range 1 model, the J4. With the latest Expeed 4A imaging engine, the CX-sensor camera can now pump out 20 images per second in burst mode with continuous AF, which Nikon claims is the world's fastest (along with the pricey new V3). That's also a big bump over last year's J3, and most other specs have also improved: there's now 18.4 instead of 14.2-megapixels, 1080/60p video in lieu of 1080/60i (with 120fps at 720p), a 105 point PD/171 point contrast AF, a new touchscreen and built-in WiFi. One change photographers may not like is the use of MicroSD memory cards instead of industry standard SD cards, but at least the J4 is slightly smaller and lighter than the J3. It'll come in black, white, silver and orange (with an optional underwater housing) but there's no word on when, where or for how much. As a rough starting point, though, last year's model was $600 with the 10-30mm kit lens.

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Source: Nikon

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

drag2share: Bring voice control to your home on the cheap with a Raspberry Pi

source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/09/jasper-voice-activated-assistant-open-source-raspberry-pi/?utm_source=Feed_Classic_Full&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Engadget&?ncid=rss_full

Siri, Cortana and Google Now are all inspired by the computers that Dave Bowman, Captain Picard and Iron Man use on a daily basis. But what if you wanted to turn your home into a voice-activated haven without those sorts of resources? Well, thanks to a Princeton students Charles Mash and Shubhro Saha, you can. The pair developed Jasper, an open-source, always-on voice control system that works on a Raspberry Pi and can easily be customized for your needs. All you need is an internet connection, one of the tiny educational boards and a USB microphone and you can ask the system to do whatever your coding ability allows. All we need now is for someone to kidnap Stephen Fry or Paul Bettany so our computer has the right level of sniffy British snark in its voice.

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drag2share: MIT Geniuses Made A Drone That Can Charge Itself Without Coming Back Down To Earth

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/drone-power-line-perching-system-2014-4

Joseph Moore, a PhD. candidate at MIT, is working on an impressive robotic system that enables drones to perch on power lines (just like birds) and recharge their batteries.

When the FAA's regulations catch up with the interest for commercial drone use, this system could make it possible for drones to travel an effectively unlimited distance — when their batteries are nearing zero, they could engage the system to perch on a power line, charge up, and go off again to their destinations.

Since power lines create a magnetic field, a drone equipped with a magnetometer can spot them quite easily. It largely becomes a matter of crunching the numbers to determine the best approach — one that causes the drone to come to a stop just above a line — then having software drive the drone's control surfaces to make it happen.

Consider the Amazon delivery drones that the company teased earlier this year, which were of a large quadrotor design. Moore told us that a fixed-wing system is more effective for carrying weight than a quadrotor design since its surface generates lift simply by moving through the air. The only lift generated by a quadrotor is the lift that which comes from its spinning propellers.

This perching system is still being developed, and while we didn't get to see actual perching take place, we were given a demo that demonstrates that this thing works well enough to get within centimeters of a power line. Here's a hand-thrown glider with onboard electronics that automatically steer it into contact with the line in realtime.

perching

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drag2share: Google Is Cutting Deals With Wireless Carriers Everywhere So People Can Pay For Apps And Downloads On Their Phone Bills

source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/businessinsider/~3/ZKYbYOOTodo/google-play-and-carrier-billing-2014-4

It makes a lot of sense for smartphone users to be able to add the cost of their app or music downloads to their monthly phone bill.

This method of payment is known as "carrier billing." While some app stores, notably Apple's App Store, shun it, others have embraced it.

Google has been smart in recognizing that people would find this method of payment convenient, and has moved aggressively to broker deals with wireless carriers across Europe, East Asia, and North America to make carrier billing possible on Android devices. 

At last count, Android users in 21 countries can pay for Google Play goods on their phone bills: apps, music downloads, and in-app purchases. 

Carrier billing is often unfairly painted as a payment method that's mainly popular in poor countries where people don't have access to credit cards. But Google's work with carriers has actually focused on wealthy economies, with thriving app stores, including in Japan, the U.S. and the U.K.  

The table below, compiled by BI Intelligence, shows the wireless carriers that Google has signed on to support this payment method, known as "carrier billing," which is proving more and more popular with consumers.  

Google Play

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drag2share: Is It a Good Idea to Vaporize and Inhale Alcohol?

Source: http://gizmodo.com/is-it-a-good-idea-to-vaporize-and-inhale-alcohol-1561227862

Is It a Good Idea to Vaporize and Inhale Alcohol?

Vaporizing, and then inhaling alcohol has gained a lot of attention lately. In the 1950s it was introduced as a treatment for excessive fluid in your lungs, called pulmonary edema. It's now gained popularity as a way to quickly become intoxicated. Proponents of this process-to-become-plastered, tout several benefits compared to drinking it. Many claim you get drunk without any calorie intake. Some state, because you bypass the liver, you can eliminate the alcohol quickly and avoid the dreaded alcohol hangover.

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drag2share: Nanoparticles in Consumer Products Could Be Damaging Your DNA

Source: http://gizmodo.com/how-nanoparticles-in-consumer-products-could-be-damagin-1561236280

Nanoparticles in Consumer Products Could Be Damaging Your DNA

Masses of products—from cosmetics to clothing—now contain nanoparticles, to kill microbes, lengthen shelf life or provide other wonderful properties. But new research from MIT and Harvard suggests they could also be damaging your DNA.

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drag2share: Bitcoin Mining May Be Hitting A Wall

source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/businessinsider/~3/lSOsiHrRpcU/bitcoin-mining-may-be-hitting-a-wall-2014-4

"We're reaching the limits where we have Intel, the largest chip manufacturer with the deepest pockets — they're now having to delay their [14 nm] Broadwell chip," he told BI at the InsideBitcoins conference Tuesday. "If they're not able to do 14 nanometers, I'm not sure if an ASIC [Bitcoin mining] machine can beat Intel. So I think we're going to hit a plateau of 28 or 20 [nanometers]." 

It will take some time for the computing rate on the Bitcoin network itself to start flattening out, since it's determined by an additional set of cost inputs that reflect the absolute number of miners in the system. So things like lower chips production costs, higher bitcoin prices, and greater investment could cause the line in the following chart to keep rising.

bitcoin difficulty

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drag2share: Here's How Fast Food And Exercise Habits Vary Around America

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/diet-and-exercise-habits-around-america-2014-4

Fast Food And Exercise

People in the South and Midwest consume fast food more frequently than people anywhere else in the country — with Oklahomans opting for Big Macs, Whoppers, and the like more times per week than residents of any other state.

Meanwhile, Hawaiians exercise more frequently than residents of any other U.S. state. Nice weather might help explain that, but Alaskans come in second — eliminating the cold as an excuse for skipping workouts. (Thanks, Alaska.)

The data for these maps come from the DNA analysis service 23andMe. The genetic information provider examined more than 1500 different characteristics, ranging from fast food consumption to pet ownership, to help illustrate the way that personality, health, and behavior differ across the United States.

Their information was all tied to geographic locations, so 23andMe researcher and statistics blogger Emma Pierson created a series of visualizations that illustrate some of the differences around the country. As you can see above, the places where people exercise more frequently tend to be places that consume less fast food.

Pierson also created interactive visualizations that allow for more detailed state-by-state comparisons of how frequently people eat fast food or exercise.

You can check out some more of the results they found on 23andMe's blog.

SEE ALSO: Where do people eat the most red meat?

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drag2share: Scientists discover the secret behind zombie plants

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/09/zombie-plants/

If the fungal spore outbreak in The Last of Us scared the hell out of you, you'll be doubly terrified to know that there are actual parasites in nature that can turn animals and plants into zombies. In fact, a group of scientists from the John Innes Centre in the UK just figured out how certain parasitic bacteria called phytoplasma turn their plant host into the living dead. You see, when these nefarious bacteria take over, they transform a plant's flowers into leafy shoots, turning petals green and preventing the flowers from producing offspring. Apparently, that's because the parasite has a protein called SAP54, which interacts with the plant so that flowers self-destruct from the inside.

John Innes plant pathologist Saskia Hogenhout says:

The plant appears alive, but it's only there for the good of the pathogen. In an evolutionary sense, the plant is dead and will not produce offspring.

That's not all the bacteria can do, though. In addition to changing a flower's structure and rendering it sterile, the bacteria can also attract sap-sucking insects. Instead of dispersing pollen, these insects carry the parasite to more victims, turning more plants into green, leafy puppets.

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Via: Slashdot

Source: Nature, PLOS Biology

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drag2share: Atlassian, Now Worth $3.3 Billion, Is Helping Employees Pocket $150 Million

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/atlassian-helps-employees-pocket-150m-2014-4

Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar

While the tech world wrings its hands over  how much money an IPO-bound tech company can lose in the name of sales and marketing, enterprise software company Atlassian has grown into a profitable company valued at $3.3 billion. 

Now it is helping its 800 employees cash out $150 million worth of their equity.

Without any sales people.

That's right, its 35,000+ customers (mostly IT people) in 130 countries (including most of the Fortune 100), buy Atlassian's software on a self-service model. They head to the website, sign up for the cloud service or download the software, and away they go, Atlassian President Jay Simons told Business Insider.

The Sydney, Australia-based company, which makes project management software and chat tools, is on track to hit over $200 million in revenue and has been cash flow positive for 10 years, it says.

Atlassian also has 350 partners worldwide and 1,500 apps in its Atlassian Marketplace that has generated more than $20 million for its app developers, it says. Plus, it's donated 1% of its equity, $3 million to date, to an African education charity called Room to Read.

The company has US offices in San Francisco and Austin. Its success has made its two young co-founders two of the richest people in that country, the Mark Zuckerbergs of Australia.

Like Zuck, its co-founders, Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, dropped out of college to start their company, using a $10,000 credit card to found it in 2002.

Flash forward 12 years. This month Atlassian will share the wealth with its workers. It agreed to a secondary offering where current and former employees can sell $150 million worth of shares. Mutual-fund gi! ant T. R owe Price is the one mostly buying, the company says. The deal should be completed by mid-April, and it gives Atlassian a $3.3 billion valuation, Reuters reports.

"It gives my co-founder and me great pleasure to offer past and current employees of Atlassian the opportunity for some liquidity at this point in the company's growth," Scott Farquhar, co-CEO and co-founder of Atlassian, said in a written statement emailed to Business Insider.

Atlassian is expected to start its own IPO journey soon, perhaps later this year. Farquhar confirmed to Business Insider that he and Cannon-Brookes dream of running a big public company one day.

The one thing they still have no plans to do: hire salespeople.

SEE ALSO: Oculus founder Palmer Luckey dropped out of college — and so did all these other tech superstars

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drag2share: Here's How To Protect Yourself From The Massive Security Flaw That's Taken Over The Internet

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/heartbleed-bug-explainer-2014-4

influenza virus particle

It's been a while since there was a computer security bug we all had to worry about. 

Unfortunately, it seems like we may all have been facing one for two years and not even realized it.

Yesterday, security researchers announced a security flaw in OpenSSL, a popular data encryption standard, that gives hackers who know about it the ability to extract massive amount of data from the services that we use every day and assume are mostly secure.

This isn't simply a bug in some app that can quickly be updated — the vulnerability is in on the machines that power services that transmit secure information, like Facebook and Gmail.

We've put together the following guide to the "Heartbleed bug" for those who want to understand what all the fuss is about and how they can protect themselves.

What is the Heartbleed bug?

Heartbleed is a flaw in OpenSSL, the open-source encryption standard used by the majority of sites on the web that need to transmit data users want to keep secure. It basically gives you a "secure line" when you're sending an email or chatting on IM.

Encryption works by making it so that data being sent looks like nonsense to anyone but the the intended recipient.

Occasionally, one computer might want to check that there's still a computer at the end of its secure connection, so it will send out what's known as a "heartbeat," a small packet of data that asks for a response. 

Due to a programming error in the implementation of OpenSSL, the researchers found that it was possible to send a well-disguised packet of data that looked like one of these heartbeats to trick the computer at the other end of a connection into sending over data stored in its memory.

The flaw was first reported to the team behind OpenSSL  by Google Security researcher Neel Mehta, and independently found by security firm Code nomicon. According to the researchers who discovered the flaw, the code has been in OpenSSL for approximately two years, and utilizing it doesn't leave a trace.

How bad is that?

It's really bad. Web servers can keep a lot of information in their active memory, including user names, passwords, and even the content that user have uploaded to a service. According to Vox.com's Timothy Lee, even credit card numbers could be pulled out of the data sitting in memory on the servers that power some services.

But worse even than that, the flaw has made it possible for hackers to steal encryption keys, the codes used to turn gibberish encrypted data into readable information.

With encryption keys, hackers can intercept encrypted data moving to and from a site's servers and read it without establishing a secure connection. This means that unless the companies running vulnerable servers change their keys, even future traffic will be susceptible. 

Am I affected?

Probably, though again, this isn't simply an issue on your computer or phone itself — it's in the software that powers the services you use. Security firm Codenomicon reports:

You are likely to be affected either directly or indirectly. OpenSSL is the most popular open source cryptographic library and TLS (transport layer security) implementation used to encrypt traffic on the Internet. Your popular social site, your company's site, commercial site, hobby site, sites you install software from or even sites run by your government might be using vulnerable OpenSSL.

According to a recent Netcraft web server survey that! looked at nearly 959,000,000 web sites, 66% of sites are powered by technology built around SSL, and that doesn't include email services, chat services, and a wide number of apps available on every platform.

So what can I do to protect myself?

Since the vulnerability has been in OpenSSL for approximately two years and utilizing it leaves no trace, assume that your accounts may be compromised. You should change passwords immediately, especially for services where privacy or security are major concerns.

Meanwhile, the researchers who discovered the flaw let the developers behind OpenSSL know several days before announcing the vulnerability, so it was fixed before word got out yesterday. Most major service providers should already be updating their sites, so the bug will be less prevalent over coming weeks.

NOW: Here Are The 20 Worst Passwords You Can Use

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

drag2share: Netflix begins 4K streaming with House of Cards, if you have the right TV

source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/08/netflix-begins-4k-streaming/?utm_source=Feed_Classic_Full&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Engadget&?ncid=rss_full

If you're prone to skipping the intro on House of Cards, you might want to ease off the fast-forward controls in the future. Why? Because finally you can enjoy that scenic tour of Washington DC in glorious 4K (you have a 4K TV, right?). Actually, it's not quite that simple, as TVs will reportedly need to have HEVC/H.265 decoding. While season two of Frank Underwood's evil scheming can already be enjoyed (as promised earlier this year) in the higher resolution, there's no word on what content will be next to get upgraded (though there are some wildlife documentaries to enjoy also). Some reviewers apparently got a first look at Frank's sharp(er) suit on the weekend, but the rest of us mortals might have to wait a little longer.

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drag2share: JVC's first 4K movie cameras include one for flying drones

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/08/jvc-first-4k-movie-cameras/

JVC's 4K aerial drone camera

JVC wants into the digital moviemaking business, and it's kicking things off in style with a quartet of 4K camera prototypes that illustrate its cinematic ambitions. The highlight is the GW-GBLS1 (shown here), a gimbal-mounted Super 35mm camera tailor-made for aerial drones. It can not only shoot overhead 4K footage, but stream the live video to the ground -- handy for both coordinating movie shoots and sparing news broadcasters the trouble of launching a helicopter. There's also the GW-SPLS1, a remote-controlled miniature 4K camera for trickier shots. More conventional cinematographers should be happy, too. The GY-LSX1 puts 4K and super slow-motion 240p video into a shoulder-mounted camera, while the GY-LSX2 stuffs the LSX1's sensor into a camcorder that uses Micro Four Thirds lenses. JVC hasn't said if or when these particular cameras will reach studios, but we wouldn't count on the aerial model reaching the US without legal clarity regarding commercial drone flights.

[Image credit: DV Info]

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Via: No Film School, DV Info

Source: JVC

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drag2share: The Most Important Features In Samsung's New Galaxy Phone

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/samsung-galaxy-s5-photos-and-features-2014-4

Samsung Galaxy S5 heart rate sensor

Samsung's newest flagship phone, the Galaxy S5, arrives April 11.

You can read the full review of the device here, or check out some photos of the best features in the gallery below.

It has a 16 MP that takes really great photos.



There are a ton of different camera modes.



But the best camera mode is called Live HDR, which lets you preview your HDR photos before you shoot them. It's especially useful in settings with poor lighting.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider






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