Government agency hacks. ‘China did it':

U.S. intelligence chief James Clapper said on Thursday that China was the top suspect in the massive hacking of a U.S. government agency that compromised the personnel records of millions of Americans.

The comments from Clapper, the director of National Intelligence (DNI), were first reported in The Wall Street Journal and marked the first time the Obama administration has publicly accused Beijing of the hacking attacks on the Office of Personnel Management.In a statement, Clapper’s office confirmed that he had identified China as a leading suspect, although it said the U.S. government investigation was ongoing.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he found it strange that the United States says it is both still probing the hack and also believes China is to blame.

“This is an absurd logic,” he told reporters.

U.S. officials have previously blamed the attacks on Chinese hackers, though not publicly. White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Thursday declined to comment on any potential suspects.

OPM Director Katherine Archuleta told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that personnel data of 4.2 million current and former federal employees was compromised in one security breach and that another attack, targeting those applying for security clearances, had affected millions more.

Some media have reported that as many as 18 million Americans could have been affected.

Clapper’s comments came a day after the conclusion of three days of high-level talks between China and the United States in Washington at which cybersecurity figured prominently.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday there had been no U.S. “finger-pointing” during those meetings about cybertheft “and whether or not it was actioned by government, or whether it was hackers, or individuals the government has the ability to prosecute.”

Kerry also said, however, the U.S. side had made “crystal clear” that cybertheft was not acceptable. He said the United States believed there was a need to work with China to develop a “code of conduct” on state behavior in cyberspace and that China had agreed.

“It’s something that we agreed needs to be addressed and hopefully it can be addressed soon,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday.

White House spokesman Earnest cautioned against guessing at what response the United States might take against those responsible for the attacks. “If there is a response, it’s probably not one we are likely to telegraph in advance,” he said.

The Journal cited Clapper as saying the U.S. government and American companies would continue to be targets until policymakers addressed the “lack of deterrents.”

Clapper said the absence of a U.S. threat to respond to hacking attacks meant Washington had to put its focus instead on defense, the newspaper reported.

China has dismissed as “irresponsible and unscientific” any suggestion that it was behind the hacking. China’s top diplomat, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, said after Wednesday’s talks that the two countries should work together on cybersecurity.

 

Reuters

10 Best Creams for Summer

The official coming of summer has us embracing a newly pared-down routine—streamlining our overloaded makeup bags in favor of multitasking options that channel the almost-bare mood of the season. Translation: If you’re still using the same creamy, medium coverage foundation you swore by all spring, it’s time to lighten up. Fortunately, the newest wave of beauty balms and color correctors—more commonly known as BB and CC creams—pack a checklist of benefits into a single tube while remaining virtually invisible on the skin for straight-from-the-beach touchups. Chanel CC Cream’s featherweight, pigment-evening formula prescription provides SPF 50 along with antiaging peach extract and moisturizing hyaluronic acid. Physicians Formula Super CC+ Eye Cream SPF 30 relieves puffiness and blurs lines—ensuring eyes remain as bright as their cloudless, sun-drenched surroundings—while Giorgio Armani’s supernaturally luminous offering leaves skin with the kind of glow that rivals a good facialist’s work. Here are the ten tinted balms and creams we’re stocking up on this vacation season.

what is a fashion show

A fashion show is an event put on by a fashion designer to showcase his or her upcoming line of clothing during Fashion Week. Fashion shows debut every season, particularly the Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter seasons. This is where the latest fashion trends are made. The two most influential fashion weeks are Paris Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week, which are both semiannual events. Also the Milan and London are of global importance.[1][2]

In a typical fashion show, models walk the catwalk dressed in the clothing created by the designer. Occasionally, fashion shows take the form of installations, where the models are static, standing or sitting in a constructed environment. The order in which each model walks out wearing a specific outfit is usually planned in accordance to the statement that the designer wants to make about his or her collection. It is then up to the audience to not only try to understand what the designer is trying to say by the way the collection is being presented, but to also visually deconstruct each outfit and try to appreciate the detail and craftsmanship of every single piece. A wide range of contemporary designers tend to produce their shows as theatrical productions with elaborate sets and added elements such as live music or a variety of technological components like holograms, for example.
Because “the topic of fashion shows remains to find its historian”,[3] the earliest history of fashion shows remains obscure.

In the 1800s, “fashion parades” periodically took place in Paris couture salons.[4]

American retailers imported the concept of the fashion show in the early 1900s.[4] The first American fashion show likely took place in 1903 in the New York City store of the Ehrlich Brothers.[4] By 1910, large department stores such as Wanamaker’s in New York City and Philadelphia were also staging fashion shows.[4] These events showed couture gowns from Paris or the store’s copies of them; they aimed to demonstrate the owners’ good taste and capture the attention of female shoppers.[4]

By the 1920s, retailers across the United States held fashion shows.[4] Often, these shows were theatrical, presented with narratives, and organized around a theme (e.g. Parisian, Chinese, or Russian).[4] These shows enjoyed huge popularity through mid-century, sometimes attracting thousands of customers and gawkers.[4]

In the 1970s and 1980s, American designers began to hold their own fashion shows in private spaces apart from such retailers.[4] In the early 1990s, however, many in the fashion world began to rethink this strategy.[4] After several mishaps during shows in small, unsafe locations, “[t]he general sentiment was, ‘We love fashion but we don’t want to die for it,'” recalls Fern Mallis, then executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.[4] In response to these shows, the New York shows were centralized in Bryant Park during fashion week in late 1993.[4] Lately from the 2000 to today, fashion shows are usually also filmed and appear on specially assigned television channels or even in documentaries.[5]

Raf Simons’ Spring 2016, 7 Things to know

One way to start off Paris men’s fashion week with a bang? Follow Raf Simons to the outskirts of the City of Light for a collection of diverse references, dramatic styling, and Simons’ style signatures. While the debate over the male models’ visage-obscuring hoods will surely rage on into the morning, you can find the 10 must-know facts about the show below. And don’t forget to check back for Tim Blanks’ full review.

1. The talking point of the show will no doubt be the madras hoods that obscured the faces of a handful of models during the show. Made from various plaids, the pieces fell loose over their faces, giving the guys an eerie, cloaked look.
2. Said hoods also came with an element of danger: Two models fell off the platform runway while wearing them.
3. The madras didn’t stop on the hoods, either. Jackets, shirts, and blazers came in a variety of mix-and-match tartans. A holdover from Simons’ recent Dior Resort 2016 show?
5. The designer’s new backpacks ditched traditional straps for long chains that models held slung over their shoulders.
6. It’s official: Bell-bottoms for men are experiencing a revival. Simons’ pant silhouette on the runway was long and wide, billowing around the legs of the models.
7. After releasing an Adidas capsule collection comprised of bright and pastel hues, it seems Simons is going back to the bright white kicks he made popular.

Fenati celebrates “60” at Assen

ASSEN – The Grand Prix of Assen will be a special occasion for Romano Fenati. On Saturday, the Dutch circuit, the pilot of the Sky Team Racing VR46 crosses the finish line of the 60 Grands Prix in his career played in the World Championship. Since his debut in Qatar in 2012, Fenati has established itself as the most successful Italian rider of the Moto3 class with 6 wins (5 by the Sky Team Racing VR46) and six other podium finishes. In career, the pilot Ascoli scored so far 107 laps in the lead during the race, 460 points and five fastest laps, including the official record achieved in 2014 right on the TT Circuit Assen in 1’42 “914. After ‘ eighth-place finish in Catalonia (sixth consecutive race in points), the number 5 is ready to return to fight with the front group. THAT CHALLENGE FOR Migno Even for Andrea Migno, the TT Circuit in Assen is a major challenge. After the unfortunate setback in the race in Montmelo, caused by a contact with Karel Hanika, Holland Migno continue its path of growth on a track known to him. In 2011, in fact, the rider from Romagna finished 10th in the second race of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup, on a KTM brand that joins the European Championship in the main round, realizing a great comeback from the twenty-first on the grid.

Alfa Romeo Giulia | Il primo video ufficiale

Well, that didn’t take long. What almost certainly are video screencaps of the new Alfa Romeo Giulia sport sedan have appeared on Autoforum.cz and Autoblog Netherlands. No official details yet besides the 510-horsepower Quadrifoglio version, but here’s the car. (Updates below!)

I’m definitely seeing some F30 BMW 3-Series mixed in with Alfa 4C, Maserati and maybe even a little Dodge Viper. In short, I like it!

Check back soon for more official details. What do you think so far?

Alfa Romeo says the car was developed by their own Skunkworks program and uses a brand new rear-wheel drive platform with available all-wheel drive. They say it boasts 50/50 weight distribution and a range of engines.

But the only one they have details on at the moment is the top shelf Giulia Quadrifoglio version, which is an all-aluminum 510 HP 3.0-liter twin turbo V6 tuned by Ferrari engineers. It can propel the sedan from zero to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds.

Other goodies include electronically-controlled adaptive dampers, torque vectoring, active aerodynamics and lightweight materials throughout. No word yet on gearboxes, release date or pricing.

Glastonbury festival 2015

As the official crew t-shirt made clear, 2014 was the year of four headliners. Arcade Fire (first revealed at the end of 2013), Metallica, Kasabian and of course, Dolly Parton, who graced the front page of every national newspaper in the UK (and thousands more around the world) on the Monday morning as everybody made their way home.

News of Dolly’s first ever Worthy Farm appearance leaked out on the same night as Glastonbury scooped the Best Festival gong at the NME Awards in London in February. From there it was rhinestones all the way to the Pyramid, as she charmed an enormous afternoon crowd in the Sunday sunshine and also found time to welcome Michael and the grandchildren onto the Dolly tourbus. The BBC’s Jo Whiley interviewed a breathless Dolly straight after the show, coincidentally right in front of a print of Stanley Donwood’s ‘Nether’ illustration (as featured on our website). At 3-million plus, that clip became the most viewed item of the entire weekend’s coverage.

Meanwhile records were broken – again – both in front of and behind the scenes. Another record ticket sell out, in October 2013. A production record for Pyramid changeover, taking in Friday’s Arcade Fire lighting spectacular, Metallica’s Saturday mighty sub bass and Sunday’s anthemic close out from returning heroes Kasabian. And more records set by the BBC’s viewing and listening figures, both at home and abroad.

As always, preparation for 2014′s Festival began not long after the Rolling Stones left site in June the year before. Infrastructure’s ambitious plans included more than 20 new long drop sites and a much needed new million litre on site water reservoir, as well as a trial of the revolutionary new compost toilets provided for most crew areas for the first time. Roads were improved, bridges strengthened and work continued on the Pilton village social housing project, with over 20 houses completed by May.

Just a month later Glastonbury 2014 opened with the traditional Green Field’s bonfire high up in King’s Meadow on Wednesday night, crackling 30 feet in the air behind the ‘All You Need Is Love’ banner. The next day Banksy was back in Glastonbury, with his ‘factory farming’ installation parading noisily through the markets; legendary DJ David Morales flew in to pay tribute to the late Frankie Knuckles in a roadblocked NYC Downlow and Arcadia settled noisily into their new home below the Park.

Random highlights included a ‘Beatle visit’ from Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band, a dramatic lightning enhanced debut set from Rudimental on the Pyramid, a breathtaking solo show party from Skrillex on the Other Stage and one of the greatest closing sets ever seen at Glastonbury courtesy of Disclosure on the West Holts stage.

Along the way, the Festival churned out two editions of the official ‘Glastonbury Free Press’ newspaper, Worthy Farm made it to the final six farms in the judging of the Dairy Gold Cup – and actually won it the week after the show – and relatively kind weather (note: 2014 was NOT a wet one!) helped us record our highest ever direct donations to our partner charities, Greenpeace, Oxfam and WaterAid

“We had it all,” said Emily Eavis as the clean up crews moved into the Pyramid field on Monday morning. “But everyone pulled together and I think that spirit is what helped make it so special.

“And I think people really noticed the detail of what we do this year, from the political banners to flags and the fence coverings all over site. Music aside, the art and installations were by far the best we’ve ever had.”

Protesters block the telescope in Hawaii

Hundreds of protesters on a Hawaii mountain road erupted in cheers Wednesday after construction crews turned around and retreated from the site for what would be one of the world’s largest telescopes.

The billion-dollar project has drawn intense opposition from Native Hawaiians who say the 18-story observatory on the Big Island’s Mauna Kea would desecrate land they consider sacred.

Work on the Thirty Meter Telescope has been stalled for months after a large group blocked access to the mountaintop in April, a demonstration that led to 31 arrests.

Protesters said they were ready to adopt similar tactics and go to jail if necessary to make their point Wednesday.

Hawaii County police arrested one man, while state Department of Land and Natural Resources police arrested 11 others, officials said.

Several hundred gathered more than 9,000 feet up Mauna Kea, blocking workers who intended to install fencing around the construction site near the summit. The protesters blocked the road, then let workers pass, and different groups repeated the pattern several times at higher points on the mountain.

Mike McCartney, Gov. David Ige’s chief of staff, said in a statement that “large boulders were found in the roadway leading to the summit.”

McCartney said crews will work to clear the roadway on Thursday and that construction was put on hold.

A telescope spokeswoman, Caroline Witherspoon, confirmed that construction workers had turned away.

“For the safety of our team, we made the decision to bring them off the mountain and we are planning to resume when the issue is resolved,” the chair of the TMT International Observatory Board, Henry Yang, said in a statement.

Protester Kainoa Stafford said he saw Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources authorities put plastic cuffs on protesters at several points up the mountain and put them into vans “pretty much anytime someone wouldn’t comply or listen to their order.”

Jodi Leong, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, said she didn’t have details on the 11 arrests.

Hawaii County police made the first arrest, Assistant Chief Henry Tavares said. A 44-year-old man was arrested and charged with obstructing, a misdemeanour, and released after posting $250 bail, police said.

For the protesters, many of whom had been camping near the visitor centre despite 30-degree nights, it was a victory.

“For today at least, we did really good at keeping our lines strong until arrest,” said protester Kuuipo Freitas.

Astronomers are interested in the site because its summit is nearly 14,000 feet high, well above the clouds and able to provide a clear view of the sky 300 days a year. There’s also very little air and light pollution.

Thirteen other large telescopes occupy Mauna Kea.

Ige has responded to the protests, saying Hawaii must do a better job of caring for the mountain but that construction crews have the right to proceed.

“The state and Hawaii County are working together to uphold the law and ensure safety on roadways and on Mauna Kea, while allowing the people their right to peacefully and lawfully protest,” the governor’s office said in a statement late Tuesday.

Protesters Wednesday ranged from toddlers to the elderly. Stafford said they were emotional but peaceful. “People were yelling, but no one got violent though,” he said.

The non-profit company Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory LLC intends to build and operate the $1.4 billion telescope.

Its partners include India, China, Canada, Japan and the Thirty Meter Telescope Observatory Corp., formed by the University of California and the California Institute of Technology.

The partners, along with University of Hawaii scientists, would receive a share of observing time.

But protesters vow to remain vigilant.

“We were happy that they are not going to be desecrating our aina today,” said Freitas, using the Hawaiian word for land. “But tomorrow is another story. And the day after, and the day after that.”

Nasa, Mars pyramid


A remarkable artefact has been found on the red planet by the Mars Curiosity Rover.

Due to the size of the object about the scale of a small car i would theorize that the artefact is either the capstone of a much larger pyramid possibly buried deep beneath the surface or perhaps a marker stone.

Personal loans – what you need to know

Personal loans are one of many types of loans you can borrow from a bank. These loans are typically general purpose loans that you can use at your discretion. Personal loans are often more difficult to get and have strict qualification requirements. If you’re thinking about borrowing a personal loan, here are some things you know about them.

Personal loans are unsecured.

That means the loan doesn’t require you to use an asset as collateral.

So, if you default on a personal loan, the lender can’t automatically take a piece of your property as payment for the loan. This is the primary reason that personal loans are more difficult to get. The lender doesn’t have any asset to seize if you decide you can’t make loan payments anymore. Even though the lender can’t automatically take your house or car, it can take other collection actions. This includes reporting late payments to the credit bureaus, hiring a collection agency, and filing a lawsuit against you.

Personal loans have a fixed amount.

The amount of personal loans ranges anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000 and depends on your credit rating. The better your credit score, the more money you can borrow for a personal loans. Some banks have a low cap on the amount of personal loan you can borrow. For example, you may be able to borrow only a maximum of $10,000 personal loan. You may be able to take out higher loan amounts at a bank you already have a relationship with.

Personal loans usually have fixed interest rates.

The interest rate is locked and doesn’t change for the life of the loan.

Like the loan amount, interest rates on personal loans are based on credit rating. The better your credit score, the lower your interest rate. Lower interest rates are ideal because it means you pay a lower cost for borrowing the loan. Some personal loans come with a variable interest rate that changes periodically.

Personal loans a fixed repayment period.

You have a set period of time to repay your personal loan. Loan periods are stated in months, e.g. 12, 24, 36, 48, and 60. Longer repayment periods lower your monthly loan repayment, but they also mean you pay more in interest than if you had a shorter repayment period. Your interest rate may also be tied to your repayment period. For example, you may have a lower interest rate with shorter repayment periods. There may be a penalty for paying your loan off early.

Applying for a Personal Loan

It may be easier to get a personal loan from a bank you already have an account with. The bank will probably want to know what you’re going to use the money for and may even have a better loan for your needs. As with any other loan, it’s important to choose personal loans wisely and only borrow what you can afford to repay.

Insurance common mistakes

By USNEWS

Buying insurance can be confusing, but when the unexpected happens – a house fire, a fender bender or a broken bone – it’s a relief to know that some of those financial losses will be covered. But how do you know how much coverage you need? And what questions should you ask before buying a policy? Many consumers aren’t sure. Insurance coverage is far from one size fits all, so here’s a look at mistakes some consumers make when buying insurance.

1. Assuming insurance is out of reach. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 48 million Americans had no health insurance in 2012. And about 30 percent of U.S. households have no life insurance, according to LIMRA, a worldwide research and consulting organization for insurance and financial services. In some cases, consumers skip insurance because they think it’s out of their budget. Often, that’s not the case, according to Marvin Feldman, president and CEO of the LIFE Foundation, a nonprofit organization that educates consumers about financial planning and insurance. The LIFE Foundation collaborated with LIMRA on the 2013 Insurance Barometer Study, which found that the average consumer thinks life insurance is three times more expensive than it actually is. “[Consumers are] not researching it to determine what the cost is,” Feldman says.

When buying health insurance or property and casualty insurance, ask about potential discounts. “Two-thirds of consumers don’t realize they can get financial help if they buy their own health insurance, and they can get financial help if they go and buy in these health insurance marketplaces,” says Lynn Quincy, senior policy analyst with Consumers Union, a division of Consumer Reports. “You may be way overpaying if you don’t investigate this possibility.” While health insurance discounts are often income-based, homeowners and auto insurers offer discounts for everything from being a member of groups like AARP, to being a good student or a good driver, to having a home security system.

2. Relying on assumptions or outdated figures. Changing economic conditions mean you might need more insurance coverage than you had in the past. Take life insurance. In the past, consumers might have based their life insurance coverage on their current income, but “if something happens and you’re no longer around, you need more capital at work to provide the same income [to your beneficiaries],” Feldman says. Disability and long-term care insurance are even more complicated than traditional life insurance. “For disability, do you want coverage that lasts forever? Are there health issues in your family?” Feldman asks. “That’s where you need to speak to somebody to get some guidance.”

In the case of homeowners insurance, your home could be underinsured if you’ve renovated or if the cost to build a home has increased due to higher material costs or other factors. That’s why experts recommend reviewing insurance coverage once a year to make sure it still fits your needs. Talk to your insurance agent if you’re unsure.

3. Shopping on price alone. Comparing insurance policies can be confusing, but resist the urge to simply choose the policy with the lowest premium. Consider the company’s reputation and the coverage you’d get for that premium. “As a general rule with health insurance, the higher the premium, the lower the amount you pay when you go to the doctor,” Quincy says. Private health insurance plans must provide coverage examples showing what your estimated out-of-pocket costs would be for, say, having a baby or managing Type 2 diabetes. Some examples might not apply to you, but they can help you compare plans and see how much you might pay in coinsurance and copays.

“Make sure you’re shopping apples to apples and getting quotes based on the same coverage that you have,” says Lori Conarton, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Institute of Michigan. Your property and casualty insurance may not cover things like food spoilage in the event of a power outage or stolen electronics worth more than $1,000, so you may want to purchase extra endorsements to cover those possibilities, she adds.

With disability or long-term care insurance, prices can vary depending on the length of the elimination period – the amount of time you must wait before coverage kicks in – and whether the policy includes inflation protection, so consider these factors, too.

4. Glossing over the details. Make sure you understand what your insurance policy covers. For health insurance, it’s cheaper to see doctors who are in-network and buy prescription drugs covered by the formulary, so Quincy suggests checking to see if your doctor is in-network and if your prescription drugs are covered before you buy a policy. Otherwise, you could get an expensive surprise.

Read your insurance policy and contact your insurance agent if anything is unclear. “Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t find out what coverage they should have had until they have a loss,” Conarton says. “Here in Michigan, we’ve had a lot of winter weather, and some people don’t know that flooding is not covered under a regular homeowners insurance policy.” However, you can usually buy a separate flood insurance policy. Many people also assume that drain and sewer backups are covered by insurance, but often they’re not, Conarton adds.

5. Setting your deductible too low. Setting a low deductible typically means higher premiums, and in the case of property and casualty insurance, a greater likelihood of small claims that could ultimately raise your premiums. Insurance is designed to protect against losses you could not cover yourself, so if you can afford to pay the first $500 or $1,000 in losses yourself, you may not need a lower premium. “Consider your own financial situation,” Conarton says. “How much of the risk are you willing to assume before you make a claim and the insurance company pays on your claim? You really have to think about how much of that loss you could pay yourself.”

 

BlackBerry 10 phones get the Amazon Appstore in the US

If you’re a BlackBerry-toting American, you’re about to get a ton of Android apps on your plate. As promised, BlackBerry has started the US rollout of an update that gives all BB10 devices access to the Amazon Appstore, saving you from having to sideload some of the Android titles you can’t live without. You’ll also get better anti-theft protection and a “fresh look” that includes faster access to common tasks.

Just when you get your upgrade is a bit of a toss-up. On AT&T, you’re first in line if you’re carrying the older BlackBerry Q10 or Z10; on T-Mobile and Verizon, you’re at the start of the queue if you’re rocking a BlackBerry Classic. Every other BlackBerry 10 device in the country will receive the new software eventually, though, so don’t worry if your Z30 isn’t part of the initial wave.

*Verizon is currently in the process of acquiring AOL, Engadget’s parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.

Face of a criminal from DNA

Today scientists are using genetic markers from DNA to build up a picture of an offender’s face, a process known as molecular photo fitting.

A DNA profile is only useful to detectives if a match can be found on a database.

As surgeon Gabriel Weston explains in the BBC series Catching History’s Criminals: The Forensics Story, this technology offers the tantalising prospect of generating a face from nothing more than a few cells.

To find out just how effective this process can be, DNA was extracted from Gabriel’s saliva and the results sent anonymously to a group of scientists in Belgium.

From that data they set about building a picture of Gabriel’s face – as predicted by her genes. The question was: Would it look anything like her?

The job of turning the cells in her saliva into a picture of her face was carried out by Dr Peter Claes, a medical imaging specialist at the University of Leuven.

Along with colleagues in the US, he’s built up a database of faces and DNA. And armed with this information, he’s able to model how a face is constructed based on just 20 genes.

It is possible to judge just how much the picture of Gabriel’s face – based on her genetic makeup – looks like her by comparing it to her actual image.

Facebook Moments Is Changing The Photo-Sharing Game

It takes advantage of two Facebook technologies, Messenger and facial recognition, to allow users to quickly send a huge group of photos to the friends in those photos.

The Moments app groups images together based on who is in them, when they were taken, and where they were taken, then “suggests” people you could share those images with.

The idea is that all pictures from the same event or vacation can be shared with multiple people or just one other person in a matter of seconds.

Canon announces the PowerShot G3 X

It’s been years since Canon dominated the high end compact market. Back then — before companies like Fujifilm and Sony flooded the market with excellent options near or under $1,000, and shooting with your phone wasn’t really an option — Canon’s flagship G series of cameras reigned supreme. If you wanted a camera with full manual controls that you could squeeze into a pocket, it was nearly the only option. Today, Canon is adding to that that lineup by introducing the $999 Powershot G3 X.

The 20.2MP G3 X has all the features you’d expect from a camera in this price range: Wi-Fi, NFC, water resistance, a 3.2-inch touch-enabled articulating LCD screen, and the ability to shoot 1080p HD video at 60fps. It even has a few you wouldn’t expect, like five-axis image stabilization and audio jacks for headphones and an external microphone.

But in certain lights, the more expensive G3 X looks like a step back from its predecessors. The 1.5-inch CMOS sensor found in the G1 X (2012) and G1 X Mark II (2014) is gone, and in its place on the G3 X is merely a one-inch sensor. The new camera will use Canon’s DIGIC 6 image processor, which is good at helping smaller sensors in tough situations (like low light), but there will likely be an unavoidable tradeoff in image quality.

The smaller sensor did allow Canon to pack tons more focal length in the new camera, as the G3 X features 25X optical zoom (for the equivalent of a 24-600mm lens). Gaudy optical zoom capability is a weapon of choice for traditional camera companies trying to sell high end compact cameras. Both Canon and Nikon, have equipped its lower-end cameras with smaller sensors that allow for optical zooms of 65x and even 83x.

The harsh truth for these companies is people are extremely comfortable shooting photos with their phones, and better mirrorless cameras with larger sensors and similar features are dropping in price. Take the PowerShot G3 X’s closest competitors, for example. Last week Sony announced the RX10 II, which can shoot super slow motion and 4K video, and has a consistent aperture of f2.8, and the RX100 Mark IV, an extremely capable version of its most compact camera. Canon will have the cost edge on the $1,300 RX10 II, but not the $1,000 RX100 Mark IV.

That leaves the G3 X in a murky spot. The G3 X has better zoom than the brand new RX100 Mark IV, but the Sony is far more compact. And while the G3 X is cheaper than Sony’s similar-looking RX10 II, the tradeoffs you have to make in capabilities and image quality may not be worth the money you save.

The PowerShot G3 X’s most direct competition might come from inside Canon’s own factories. The company’s G1 X Mark II is still for sale at a much cheaper price that’s paired with a bigger sensor. That might make it worth whatever tradeoffs you can find deep in the list of its specs.

Material Design themes coming to the Samsung Galaxy S6

There’s quite a bit of reasons to love the Samsung Galaxy S6, but some of you may be especially fond of the integrated theme engine. Any user can easily change the look and feel of a Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S6 Edge in a heartbeat, something that used to take launchers and complicated root methods in the past.

TouchWiz continues to be a bit messy, though, even with themes making it much better to deal with. We know many of you love the look and feel Google has created with material Design and the Pure Google experience. Those who are proud members of this club (which is not very exclusive) will be happy to learn you will soon no longer need to go for a third-party launcher or rooted phone in order to enjoy the simplicity of a clean Android experience.

XDA Developers member cambunch has created a Material Design-inspired theme for the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. It was submitted to Samsung and accepted, so the theme will be offered by the official Samsung Theme Store. It should show up in no more than about two weeks. Don’t want to wait around? The developer did publish instructions for installing the themes manually (though you will actually need root to do that).

The theme actually comes in two versions: dark and light. As you can assume, this refers to the color pallet used for the theme. It’s the whole deal, too. These themes will change your notification bar, settings, wallpaper, icons, keyboard and other stock apps. It will pretty much get rid of most signs of TouchWiz, which is always a plus for us Android purists.

Magic Johnson joins Square’s Board Of Directors

The former basketball player is one of the most successful business leaders in America and a great get for Square’s board. He is not only an NBA Hall of Fame legend but also a formidable business leader, running the multi-billion-dollar Magic Johnson Enterprises, as well as the Magic Johnson Foundation – a well-recognized philanthropic organization for its work with urban communities.

“I am ready to get to work as a member of Square’s Board of Directors so that any business, in any community, can compete and win,” said Johnson in a Square company release.

Johnson is also a strong advocate of HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention through his foundation, a mission he picked up after announcing he had been diagnosed with HIV in 1991.

According to a source familiar with the matter, Johnson’s appointment is expected to help Square reach out to a more diverse audience that goes beyond Silicon Valley and New York and into more urban and underserved small business areas.

“I have the deepest admiration for Earvin as a tireless champion for creating economic opportunity in underserved communities,” said Square (and interim Twitter) CEO Jack Dorsey. “As a successful entrepreneur and advocate for economic inclusion, Earvin’s unique perspective will be invaluable to our community of sellers and our board. We are honored to have him.”

Google launches My Ramadan Companion

The month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan runs from this evening, June 17th, and ends in the evening of July 17th, and Google has launched a website that takes advantage of the company’s vast offerings to provide a helpful dashboard through which to get the most out of the month.

The website, called My Ramadan Companion, includes the sunset and sunrise times in your area each day, traffic information, listings for the nearest mosque or charity Iftar, Ramdan recipes, related YouTube videos, and a bunch more.

Google in its blog post on My Ramadan Companion cites the more than 200 million Muslims living away from their families as a motivating factor to build technological solutions for those who observe the fasting holiday. “Growing up, the best part about Ramadan was eating way too much lentil soup with my family and catching up on the latest episode of our favorite series, ‘Bab Al-Hara’,” said Zain Kamal Masri, Associate Product Marketing Manager, Middle East and North Africa. “Today, living more than 1900 miles away from my family, I rely on technology to get close with them during Ramadan. Whether it’s sharing moments on Hangouts, my sister sending me pictures of the iftar spread of the day… technology helps us stay connected and celebrate Ramadan together even when away.”

Google will also use Now on mobile to present this information in cards when it feels right, taking into account your location and the time of day. So you may, for example, wake up in the morning to a card showing the Ramadan hours of your favorite shops and restaurants. Now may also recommend third-party apps that it thinks you may enjoy, like ones that help you wake up for Suhur or create greeting cards to share with your family. There’s a whole collection of essential Ramadan 2015 apps on the Play Store, too.

Real-time translator now speaks French and German

After adding Italian and Chinese support a couple of months ago, Microsoft is now bringing French and German to its Skype Translator app. That brings the total number of languages to six, with English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin, and Spanish all supported, nearly 30 percent of the world’s native speakers. Skype Translator works by using a modified version of the Skype Windows 8 app to translate spoken words into text or audio.

While Skype Translator is primarily used for real-time translation between two people who speak and listen to the results, Microsoft is now turning its attention to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Microsoft researcher Ted Hart has helped the company modify Skype Translator so it allows deaf people to experience a Skype call for the first time. Microsoft recently opened up Skype Translator for anyone to try, and with French and German support there’s now an even bigger audience for its translation magic. Microsoft’s Skype Translator app is only available on Windows right now, and you’ll need a Windows 8 or Windows 10 PC to download the app from the Windows Store.

Live VR streams, drones and 4K cameras

We haven’t connected cutting edge TV tech to golf much since 3D met the Masters, but Fox is promising a live streaming virtual reality setup this weekend during the US Open tournament. It’s working with NextVR — the same company that brought a Malibu beach sunrise streaming live in 180-degree VR to my house in Michigan — so that viewers can pop into any of five camera rigs around the course and peek around like they were really there. According to Fox, this is believed to be the “first live multi-camera VR broadcast experience in history.” This is still in the demo phase so the easiest way to watch is to actually be at the event in one of the properly equipped hospitality areas, or at a Fox Sports location in New York, Vancouver or LA. Even if you can’t catch the live feed, NextVR will have the video ready for its portal that is coming to the Oculus Rift and Gear VR headsets.

Other than virtual reality, Fox will also make use of flying drone cams to cover the event, cameras around the tee box, and microphones embedded in the bottom of every hole around the course. There’s a camera-equipped RC car to provide ground level shots, as well as high frame rate cameras and 4K cameras to provide a better look at each swing.

Having experienced it myself, the virtual reality stream in 3D and high-res video should provide a feeling of being at the course like no other broadcast can. We’re still not to the point where this kind of thing is widely available, but if you need a reason other than gaming to keep an eye on what the likes of Oculus, Samsung, Google and Valve are working on, events like sports are definitely a good one.

The new Edge browser

For years, developers have had to build specific workarounds for Internet Explorer to make their websites work properly in the browser. Microsoft’s browsers were infamous for breaking code that worked everywhere else.

Now, the company is re-emphasising that Web developers shouldn’t be specifically targeting the Edge browser in their code, saying that it identifies itself as a Webkit browser and should be thought of as such.

The company goes as far as saying that “any Edge-WebKit differences are bugs that we’re interested in fixing,” further cementing the angle that developers shouldn’t be writing Edge-specific code or workarounds.

Edge will also allow for certain cases where what Web developers do in practice doesn’t actually match the standard. One example Microsoft provides is the prevalent use of malformed “meta refresh” tags that allow a page to redirect the user to another page.

Instead of simply ignoring such malformed tags, like Internet Explorer would have in the past, Edge handles the code the correct way.

Microsoft says that the new browser is more permissive of such differences between the standard and code, particularly as many of these differences are widespread practices.

Another change adopts the Webkit practice of ignoring cross-site headers in order to allow custom fonts to load from content distribution networks, despite what the standard actually defines.

The new Microsoft shines through in this blog post — instead of strictly sticking to its own standards and ideas about the way the Web should be rendered, the company is finally willing to compromise and accept the reality of developing for the Web.

As a Web developer myself, the changes in Edge are exciting. I’m hopeful that the future of building for the Web means no more strange hacks for users of Microsoft browsers and much smoother development with Edge.

Experiment lets you control iPlayer with your mind

Instead of grabbing the remote or poking at your smartphone, the BBC thinks the future of TV navigation could lie in mind control. For its latest experiment, the broadcaster is testing a brainwave reading headset developed by This Place that lets you launch iPlayer and choose programmes with your thoughts.

The device uses two sensors, one on your forehead and one on your ear, to interpret electrical activity as “concentration” or “meditation.” Depending on your preference, focusing your mind will trigger a contextual command, such as launching the app or selecting from one of five programmes on a scrolling carousel. Once the app lands on your chosen TV show, you simply have to “think” until a pink volume bar fills on the left-hand side of the screen. The functionality is basic, but the BBC hopes it can be adapted to assist viewers with disabilities.

For now it’s just a proof of concept, but maybe in the future we’ll all be using brainwaves to tune into BBC Two.

Problem of evil

In the philosophy of religion, the problem of evil is the question of how to reconcile the existence of evil with that of a deity who is, in either absolute or relative terms, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. An argument from evil attempts to show that the co-existence of evil and such a deity is unlikely or impossible if placed in absolute terms.

Logical problem of evil
The originator of the logical problem of evil has been cited as the Greek philosopher Epicurus, and this argument may be schematized as follows:

If an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god exists, then evil does not.
There is evil in the world.
Therefore, an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God does not exist.
This argument is of the form modus tollens, and is logically valid if its premises are true, the conclusion follows of necessity. To show that the first premise is plausible, subsequent versions tend to expand on it, such as this modern example:

God exists.
God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent.
An omnibenevolent being would want to prevent all evils.
An omniscient being knows every way in which evils can come into existence, and knows every way in which those evils could be prevented.
An omnipotent being has the power to prevent that evil from coming into existence.
A being who knows every way in which an evil can come into existence, who is able to prevent that evil from coming into existence, and who wants to do so, would prevent the existence of that evil.
If there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God, then no evil exists.
Evil exists (logical contradiction).
Both of these arguments are understood to be presenting two forms of the logical problem of evil. They attempt to show that the assumed propositions lead to a logical contradiction and therefore cannot all be correct. Most philosophical debate has focused on the propositions stating that God cannot exist with, or would want to prevent, all evils (premises 3 and 6), with defenders of theism (for example, Leibniz) arguing that God could very well exist with and allow evil in order to achieve a greater good.

One greater good that has been proposed is that of free will, famously argued for by Alvin Plantinga in his free will defense. The first part of this defense accounts for moral evil as the result of free human action. The second part of this defense argues for the logical possibility of “a mighty nonhuman spirit”[12] such as Satan who is responsible for so-called “natural evils”, including earthquakes, tidal waves, and virulent diseases. Some philosophers agree that Plantinga successfully solves the logical problem of evil, by showing that God and evil are logically compatible[13] though others explicitly dissent.[14][15] The second part of Plantinga’s defense, though, concedes God’s omnipotence by claiming the possibility of “a mighty nonhuman spirit” capable of causing evil in spite of God’s desire for evil not to exist (a necessary consequence of His benevolence), effectively “overpowering” God.

Canon 5DS and 5DSR – Which one is better?

It’d be easy to dismiss the new Canon 5DS and 5DS R as 5D Mark III DSLRs with 50 megapixel sensors, but that’s exactly what they are.

But there are some minor, and yet fundamental, differences that separate the three versions of the 5D, to position each model for different photographers. I’ve had the opportunity to handle pre-production units of the two new models to compare with my 5D Markk III to see how well they perform. The two new models are virtually identical in external appearance to the 5D Mk III — it’s part of Canon’s strategy to use economies of scale to bring down production cost. Other than the nameplate, the only visible difference is the slightly coarser texture of the mode dial.

The key difference lies in the heart of the camera: a brand new 50-megapixel CMOS Canon sensor powers the 5DS and 5DS R. After lagging for the past few years behind Nikon and Sony in the resolution war, Canon has fired a powerful salvo (no pun intended) as a response in the form of the ultra-high resolution sensor, doubling the resolution of the 5D Mk III. It’s uncharacteristic of Canon, which has always been conservative in the resolution department.

With the unparalleled resolving power, the 5DS and R-variant deliver files measuring 8688×5792 pixels, compared to the 5760×3840 pixels of the Mk III. The level of detail is staggering, to say the least, and retouching fine details in Photoshop takes on a whole new level when you can pixel-peep that much. While my Macbook Pro (2.7 GHz Core i7 with 16GB RAM) breezes through the files from my 5D Mk III, I had to wait for the machine to catch up when applying some filters to the 5DS and 5DS R. A powerful editing machine is definitely a pre-requisite when working with files from the new Canon duo.

What’s not to like?

If the new 5DS and 5DS R are the Mk III with 50MP sensors tacked on, it would really be groovy – but they are not. In creating these two resolution monsters, Canon had cleverly positioned each of these cameras in such a way that you can have some — but not all — of the features in a camera.

While the 5D Mk III is the very capable all-rounder camera popular with photographers and videographers alike, the newer cousins are targeted specifically at a niche – photographers who require high-resolution images at the expense of low light performance. The 5DS and 5DS R packs 50MP of resolution, but sacrifices the maximum ISO speed to just ISO 6400 (although an “extended ISO” of 12,800 is available).

Speculation has been rife that the high pixel count probably affected the signal to noise ratio, which in turn restricted the maximum ISO speed. And conspiracy theorists believe Canon crippled the maximum ISO speeds of the two new models to avoid cannibalization of the 5D Mk III. Without any official explanation from Canon, it’s anybody’s guess.

Without a headphone jack and uncompressed output, the 5DS and 5DS R may not be ideal for videographers
For videographers, the three versions of the 5D series are merely Hobson’s choice. Even though the new brethren feature a new Movie Servo AF function that allows for continuous autofocus function in video shooting, they do not allow for uncompressed HDMI output, and Canon has done away with the headphone jack in favour of freeing up space for a USB 3 port. Add the limited maximum ISO speed to the equation, and you can see why the 5D Mk III remains the best choice for videographers.

Motoring enthusiasts know that “R” suffix is typically used to denote the meanest and most powerful version of a motor vehicle, such as the Honda Civic Type R or Kawasaki Ninja H2R. In this case, Canon has chosen the R suffix for the 5DS that has its anti-aliasing (AA) filter disabled.

So what is the function of the AA filter? A simple explanation is that the AA filter helps reduce moiré pattern artifacts, which appears as circular swirls in the image when the natural grid pattern in the subject matter overlaps with the grid pattern of the sensors. By implementing an AA filter in front of the sensor, the output is slightly softened to reduce the chances of moiré pattern affecting the image.

You can see moire patterns and false patterns when photographing certain fabrics, or when you point your camera at a computer or television screen.

When the patterns do not interfere with each other’s frequency, or when AA filters are used, moire effects are suppressed
In the quest for ever sharper images, manufacturers have been experimenting with weaker AA filters or doing away with it totally. In this case, Canon has opted to cancel out the AA filter effect for a good reason – economies of scale. Designing a sensor without any AA filter requires a totally new design of the sensor, AF mechanism and mirror box assembly. By negating the AA filter effect in the 5DS R, it allows the camera to share the exact same components as the 5DS for cost savings, which explains why the “R” variant does not cost prohibitively more.

The Canon 5D Mk III has been my daily go-to camera for my shoots, so I’m definitely excited to see how the new cameras stack up against my workhorse with twice the resolution.

With 50MP of resolution on tap, the sensor delivers details and sharpness in truckloads. My Photoshop became the equivalent of Google Earth — keep zooming into the image and you’d discover details you never imagine existed. You see television detectives screaming “enhance!” to get their lab technicians to reveal the vehicle registration number from surveillance footages? That’s exactly how I felt as I kept zooming in to unravel more details from the 5DS images, except I didn’t have a beautiful blond lab tech working the computer.

For this review, there’s little point in prose since the key difference lies in the image quality, so I shall let the images do the talking. I’ve uploaded the high-resolution images to this Flickr set so you readers can appreciate the image quality for yourselves.

As the manufacturers keep pushing up the sensor resolutions, they have discovered a key barrier in achieving sharper images – vibrations. With every jump in pixel count, it becomes more critical to dampen vibrations to optimize the resolution increment. Just like how longer focal lengths exaggerate the effects of camera movements, higher resolutions require more refined techniques and technology to prevent vibration from negating the resolution gain.

Canon has redesigned the mirror mechanism of the 5DS and 5DS R to reduce the amount of vibration, using motors to swing the reflex mirror instead of springs. My preliminary findings suggest that slow shutter speeds (1/25th sec and below) require the mirror delay function to be turned on to reduce the effects of any vibration, even when a tripod is used. Users can choose a timed delay of 1/8th second to 2 seconds, between the time the shutter button is depressed to the moment the shutter fires, to reduce any mirror-induced vibration. Unfortunately, neither camera allow for electronic first curtain shutter, which would have even further reduced vibration from the shutter action.

In terms of dynamic range, Canon has indicated that the new cameras deliver similar performance to the 5D Mk III. No surprises there then, although some photographers would have preferred Canon to catch up with Sony and Nikon in terms of dynamic range performance. Would increasing both resolution and dynamic range simultaneously be an engineering challenge? I’m not sure, but I’m not unsatisfied with the 5D Mk III’s dynamic range per se.

Based on my limited testing, the 5DS R barely edges out the 5DS in terms of sharpness. You’d have to be peeping at the pixel level to discern any increment in sharpness from the R model, and those differences only occur in super-micro details such as fur. For Canon to produce the 5DS R variant, I’m sure there are discernable advantages in certain scenarios. But given the 5DS images are already sharp enough to cut one’s eyeballs with the details rendered, I’m hard pressed to spot the additional details rendered by the 5DS R.

How about moiré patterning? Moiré is a strange creature like the Loch Ness monster – you won’t find it if you go specifically looking for it. I’ve tried inducing moiré with shots of some fabric, but the 5DS R managed the shot perfectly. Moiré pattern artifacts occur when the frequency of the fabric matches with the sensor pixel, and some speculate the high pixel count of the 5DS R reduces the chance of subjects having the same high frequency to cause moiré. But I’m sure Canon has discovered it is possible to induce moiré with the 5DS R under certain situations, or it wouldn’t have produced another version with AA filter enabled.

In summary, the 5D series is a lot like Goldilocks and the three bears. There isn’t a best porridge or best bed, but rather the most appropriate one to suit your needs. If you are a videographer, the 5D Mk III remains the most suitable choice, with its uncompressed HDMI output and microphone jack, which the newer models lack.

For general photography, I prefer the 5D Mk III as well. With its lower resolution, it writes faster to CF card (although the two new models support UHS-I standards for much faster SD card writing) and the smaller files are easier to handle in post-processing. It also delivers two more stops in terms of maximum ISO speed, which can come in handy in darker situations.

But for photographers who demand nothing but the highest resolution, you will love the newer 5DS and 5DS R. Landscape, bridal and studio photography are just some applications which I can see where the new models will shine with their 50-megapixel sensor. Based on the already competent 5D Mk III body, what you have is an amazing megapixel machine designed to delight every pixel peeper out there. The new 5DS and 5DS R shine brilliantly in a slow and deliberate photography workflow for which lighting level is not a concern.