Dala Adds Stellar Blockchain to Ecosystem, Reveals Multi-Chain Strategy

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Dala

Dala has officially announced a new multi-chain strategy that will include Stellar, the technology behind the seventh largest cryptocurrency (lumens) by market cap. Dala is looking to create the most decentralized financial system available by bring together top blockchains and protocols. It hopes to reach developing markets by establishing a decentralized system that allows users to borrow, earn, save and transact funds.

Dala says it will be using Stellar for payments, along with Ethereum for its smart contract capabilities. Stellar promises speedy and low-cost transactions for customers, and Dala executives believe its blockchain will lead to steady user growth.

Dala is a new cryptocurrency issued by the Dala Foundation. As a general purpose ERC-20 token, Dala’s ecosystem consists of several partnerships across the globe, making it a borderless financial system. Dala also powers blockchain-backed Wala, a zero-fee monetary platform built for mobile devices.

Tricia Martinez is the founder and CEO of Wala, and the director of the Dala Foundation. Speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, she explained why the team was adamant about working with Stellar over something larger and more established like Bitcoin.

“Stellar has been designed as a payment network to integrate disparate currencies, payment systems and entities to move value quickly and reliably at almost no cost,” she states. “Stellar scales exceptionally well — transactions are generally confirmed in three to five seconds, and transaction throughput of up to 10,000 transactions per second has been reported. Furthermore, transactions on Stellar are extremely cheap in the region of 100,000 transactions for $0.01. This aligns with the core need identified when Dala was created: emerging market consumers need the ability to transact micropayments instantly at no cost.”

Lisa Nestor, Director of Partnerships at the Stellar Development Foundation, also provided her commentary as to why the Stellar blockchain was the best and only choice. She says that the reason Stellar moves so quickly is because it does not use proof-of-work (PoW), relying instead on the Stellar Consensus Protocol.

“With Stellar, it’s easier to move between local currencies and digital currencies, which makes it ideal for cash-heavy, emerging economies,” she says. “Stellar’s architecture makes it an ideal, open-source tool for digitizing and trading any type of asset, from currency to mobile money.”

Concluding our interview, Martinez says Dala is the first cryptocurrency in existence to be completely “blockchain agnostic,” and that it can run on virtually any blockchain depending on the use case. “Dala will take advantage of the best blockchains to drive financial inclusion and bring a decentralized system to the masses,” she explains. “It gives us great pleasure to announce that we will be using Stellar for payments.”

Integration is currently underway, and the partnership between Dala and Stellar will go live in the fourth quarter of 2018.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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British Supercar Manufacturer Noble Automotive Unveiled Their Kickass New M500 At The Festival Of Speed

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Noble Automotive New M500 Festival Speed

Noble Automotive

See that car up there? That, my friends, is a Noble M600 Coupe supercar, manufactured by Noble Automotive in Leicester, England.

Each one of Noble’s M600s are hand-built and custom-made to the buyer’s specifications from what exterior color they want, to their choice of a leather, suede or Alcantara interior, to contrast or matching twin needle stitching, to seat backs that can be natural exposed carbon or painted to match the exterior. Seat panels can also be of any combination or color.

Underneath the hood is a Yamaha Judd V8 4,439 cc twin-turbo engine that puts out 662 bhp at 6,500 rpm and can reach an estimated top speed of 225 mph.

You can also get it with a fully exposed carbon fiber body, should you so desire.

Noble Automotive New M500 Festival Speed

Noble Automotive

Or with a removable top.

Noble Automotive New M500 Festival Speed

Noble Automotive

All of which will run you in the neighborhood of $400,000, give or take a few thousand dollars. (It’s a nice neighborhood.)

However, that also means that there is some wiggle room for Noble Automotive to make a slightly less expensive, yet just as badass supercar.

Enter the new M500, which was recently unveiled at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Instagram Photo

According to Motor Authority

Instead of the M600’s 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine sourced from Volvo, the M500 presses on with Ford power. The folks at Noble have stuffed the 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 from vehicles like the Ford GT and F-150 Raptor beneath the skin of this new machine. Backed up by a dual-clutch transmission, the M500 has 550 horsepower on tap. That’s more than enough power for a car that will likely weigh well under 3,000 pounds.

The model that’s on display at Goodwood isn’t the 100 percent finished version of the M500 that Noble will be producing, but it’s definitely going to be a supercar we’d give about anything to drive.

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9 Tips for Aspiring Young Photographers

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Photography is an amazing way to express yourself and see the world around you. It’s therefore not surprising that photography is a favorite pass time for young people. Recently I was asked to give my tips for aspiring young photographers (and those of any age!).

It’s such a great subject that sharing it with the dPS community seemed like a great idea. Even if you’re an old hand at photography, it’s always worth remembering the path you took to becoming a great photographer. We were all young and aspiring once!

Let’s look at some tips that will help you succeed whether you’re new to photography or not.

couple's portrait with flash - 9 Tips for Aspiring Young Photographers

Learning to use off-camera flash is a key lesson for aspiring young photographers who want to take portraits.

1 – Be patient

In today’s world, we all want everything at once. To quote the lyrics from a song “How soon is now?”

As with anything that’s new to you, you’ll need to show patience. Learning a new vocation is a marathon, not a sprint. While it’s true some people will have a natural eye for photography, they also won’t succeed without patience and application.

You also need to figure out what success means to you. There are many who will see that as a large following through social media. While it’s a measure of success to have a large following, it’s certainly not the only measure. In fact, the approval of a huge number of likes through social media can stunt your development, as it may well blind you to some of the mistakes you make when taking photos.

So take your time, accept the fact that you’ll make some mistakes along the way, and allow your photography to grow organically.

musicians in a reflection - 9 Tips for Aspiring Young Photographers

Photographing with friends is a great way to gain experience. This is of a local music band.

2 – Look for places to get feedback

Feedback is an important part of your development. You can’t always see your blind spots, that’s why seeking out advice from others is a good idea. The type of feedback aspiring young photographers look for is important, it can have a big impact on your growth.

  • Thick skin – You’ll need thick skin, or the ability to accept constructive feedback. Then you need to be able to apply it to your future work which will allow you to grow.
  • Seek feedback – The choice of the word feedback over critique is important here. Critique is a negative word, where feedback is neutral. In addition to being given advice on areas a photo needs improving, the feedback giver should also be telling you the things you have done right. All too often people see the word critique and will then only look for the faults in a photo.
  • Stay true – As a photographer, you will develop your own style, so you need to remain true to this style. Feedback should be fixing technical faults, not seeking to change a photographers style. Photography, after all, a creative pursuit, and the wrong feedback has the potential to stunt the growth of aspiring young photographers.
9 Tips for Aspiring Young Photographers

It’s always a good idea to get feedback on your work but choose your sources carefully. 

3 – Choose a niche to master

Photography is a broad area, and there are so many different types or genres of photography. The old saying about being a “jack of all trades, and master of none” rings true here.

Every photographer will eventually gravitate to a particular type of photography. Of course, it’s great to try out new genres from time to time, and in the early day’s it’s worth trying out different techniques to see which is the one for you. But sooner or later though you’ll need to decide whether you’re a portrait, landscape or food photographer.

Each of those photography types has many skills you’ll need to master before your photos really stand out from the crowd. There again you may wish to be a travel photographer, in which case, you’ll need to be good at just about everything.

9 Tips for Aspiring Young Photographers - crystal ball photo

Crystal ball photography is one niche, will you choose this or something different?

4 – Identify a mentor

Every field of photography will have its masters. In most cases, there will be more than one person you can approach as a mentor. Once you have decided on the genre of photography you wish to become good at, find someone who is already good at that, and approach them to be your mentor.

In today’s digital world it’s much easier to do this online. Remember the photographer you approach will be a busy working professional, and you may need to pay a fee for their time. Of course, if you pay a fee you will expect results, so set some clear parameters and goals for your sessions with them.

9 Tips for Aspiring Young Photographers - pixelstick lighting effect

Your mentor will teach you the ways of The Force. Well okay, the ways of the camera.

5 – Join a photography group

One of the best things aspiring young photographers can do is join a photography group. This can either be online or in person. The majority of photography groups or clubs have a mixture of levels and abilities, and it may well be you’ll find your mentor by joining such a group.

There are so many benefits to hanging out with other photographers. The ability to bounce ideas off others, gain feedback on your work, and grow as a photographer within the group are all positives to joining a group.

9 Tips for Aspiring Young Photographers - group of photographers and a red building

Joining a group is a great way to learn about photography and make new friends.

6 – Learn your craft in your locality

Now hopefully you’ve joined a photography group, and you know which style of photography you want to pursue. It’s time to really put the time into learning everything there is to know about it.

Now, of course, you might happen to live in an amazing location like New York, or you have easy access to Angkor Wat because you live in Siem Reap. Those living in less glamorous places nevertheless need to learn the techniques and tricks needed to make the best photos they can, and in turn, put the glamour in their local area. Everywhere has its point of interest, and training your photographer’s eye to see that will help you become a better photographer.

  • Landscape photographers – A great technique to learn is digital blending. You can learn how to do this in your local area, and then when you visit one of the world’s iconic landmarks you’ll be ready to make the best photos you can.
  • Portrait photographers – Learning how to use off-camera flash will really lift your game, you can do this with friends and family as your models. Then when the chance for that big photography gig comes along, you’ll be ready.
blue hour coastal photo - 9 Tips for Aspiring Young Photographers

Practicing your photography skills close to home is a good idea.

7 – Visit locations that will help your photography shine

Having built your knowledge in photography, and picked out a style, it’s now time to pick out a location where your photography will really shine. This will involve some form of investment in you traveling to a specific place that best suits your photography.

This is obviously not something you want to rush into, the key to success here is good planning. As an aspiring young photographer looking to establish yourself, getting some amazing portfolio photos is important. These are some of the steps needed:

  • Location research – Use websites like 500px as a resource to find the locations you’d like to photograph yourself. Time spent on these sites will also give you inspiration for new ideas and directions you could take your photography.
  • Equipment – You’ll need the right equipment to get the best photos, so consider carefully what you’ll purchase.
  • Logistics – Think about the logistics. How much will your trip cost? Are you going at the best time of year for the light and weather? Is where you’re staying going to give you easy access to places you want to photograph?
Petronas tower Kuala Lumpur - 9 Tips for Aspiring Young Photographers

This photo is of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur is iconic. Earlier photos were taken to practice the techniques needed for this photo, such as digital blending.

8 – Invest time learning post-processing

Photography is a two-step process. First, you’ll need to take the photo, but then you’ll need to process it on a computer or perhaps even in a darkroom. There are lots of things that can add to your photography with post-processing, below are just a few areas that you should focus on for landscape or portrait photography.

  • Landscape – Learning how to use digital blending, sharpen your image, and how to remove unwanted elements from your photo.
  • Portraits – Learn how to soften the face, but sharpen the eyes. Learn about compositing your photos, so you can blend studio portraits with other backgrounds.

9 – Set limits

A great way to push yourself, and learn more about photography is to set limits. In the days of film photography, you’d be limited to 24 or 36 photos per roll of film, though you could, of course, carry additional rolls with you.

The point is you were limited to a finite number of photos, so you’d have to consider your shot selection carefully. This is an example of a limit or parameter that can make you grow as a photographer. The following are a few others which you could try:

  • Focal length – Take photos from only one focal length.
  • Aperture – Choose only one aperture for the whole day.
  • One color – Take photos of only one color for the whole day.

What tips do you have for aspiring young photographers?

Are you an aspiring young photographer? Which of these tips will you follow, and have you learned anything new that you can take into your photography?

Have you ever mentored someone else who was new to photography? What was your experience with that? As always we love to hear from the dPS community, so please leave your replies in the comments section below.

The post 9 Tips for Aspiring Young Photographers appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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How Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are shaking up healthcare — and what it means for the future of the industry (GOOGL, AAPL, AMZN, MSFT)

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This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

bii big tech in healthcare ALL Four

The healthcare industry is undergoing a profound transformation. Costs are skyrocketing, consumer demand for more accessible care is growing rapidly, and healthcare companies are unable to keep up. 

Health organizations are increasingly turning to tech companies to facilitate this transformation in care delivery and lower health expenditures. The potential for tech-led digital health initiatives to help healthcare providers and insurers deliver safer, more efficient, and cost-effective care is significant. For healthcare organizations of all types, the collection, analyses, and application of patient data can minimize avoidable service use, improve health outcomes, and promote patient independence, which can assuage swelling costs.

For their part, the "Big Four" tech companies — Google-parent Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft — see an opportunity to tap into the lucrative health market. These same players are accelerating their efforts to reshape healthcare by developing and collaborating on new tools for consumers, medical professionals, and insurers.

In this report, Business Insider Intelligence explores the key strengths and offerings the Big Four will bring to the healthcare industry, as well as their approaches into the market. We’ll then explore how these services and solutions are creating opportunities for health systems and insurers. Finally, the report will outline the barriers that are inhibiting the adoption and usage of the Big Four tech companies’ offerings and how these barriers can be circumvented.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • Tech companies’ expertise in data management and analysis, along with their significant compute power, can help support healthcare payers, health systems, and consumers by providing a broader overview of how health is accessed and delivered.
  • Each of the Big Four tech companies — vying for a piece of the lucrative healthcare market — is leaning on their specific field of expertise to develop tools and solutions for consumers, providers, and payers.
    • Alphabet is focused on leveraging its dominance in data storage and analytics to become the leader in population health.
    • Amazon is leaning on its experience as a distribution platform for medical supplies, and developing its AI-assistant Alexa as an in-home health concierge.
    • Apple is actively turning its consumer products into patient health hubs.
    • Microsoft is focusing on cloud storage and analytics to tap into precision medicine.
  • Health organizations can further tap into the opportunity presented by tech’s entry into healthcare by collaborating with tech giants to realize cost savings and bolster their top lines. But understanding how each tech giant is approaching healthcare is crucial.

 In full, the report:

  • Pinpoints the key themes and industry-wide shifts that are driving the transformation of healthcare in the US.
  • Defines the main healthcare businesses and strategies of the Big Four tech companies.
  • Highlights the biggest potential impacts of each of the Big Four’s healthcare strategies for health systems and insurers.
  • Discusses the potential barriers that will challenge the adoption of the Big Four tech companies’ initiatives and how these hurdles can be overcome.

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How Facebook configures its millions of servers every day

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When you’re a company the size of Facebook with more than two billion users on millions of servers, running thousands of configuration changes every day involving trillions of configuration checks, as you can imagine, configuration is kind of a big deal. As with most things with Facebook, they face scale problems few companies have to deal and often reach the limits of mere mortal tools.

To solve their unique issues, the company developed a new configuration delivery process called Location Aware Delivery or LAD for short. Before developing LAD, the company had been using an open source tool called Zoo Keeper to distribute configuration data, and while that tool worked, it had some fairly substantial limitations for a company the size of Facebook.

Perhaps the largest of those was being limited to 5 MB distributions with configurations limited to 2500 subscribers at a time. To give you a sense of how configuration works, it involves delivering a Facebook service like Messenger in real time with the correct configuration. That could mean delivering it in English for one user and Spanish for another, all on the fly across millions of servers.

Facebook wanted to create a tool that overcame those limitations, separated the data from the distribution mechanism, had a latency time of less than five seconds and supported 10X more files than Zoo Keeper. Oh yes, and it wanted all of that to run on millions of clients and handle the crazy update rates and traffic spikes that only Facebook could bring to the table.

The product the Facebook engineering team created, LAD (wonder how the Dodgers feel about this), consists of a couple of parts: A proxy that sits on every single machine in the Facebook family and delivers configuration files to any machine that wants or needs one. The second piece is a distributor, which as the name implies delivers configuration information. It achieves this by checking for new updates, and when it finds them, it creates a distribution tree for a set of machines, which are looking for an update.

As Facebook’s Ali Haider-Zaveri wrote in a blog post announcing the new distribution method, the tree methodology helps solve a number of problems Facebook faced when distributing configuration updates at extreme volume. “By leveraging a tree, LAD ensures that updates are pushed only to interested proxies rather than to all machines in the fleet. In addition, a parent machine can directly send updates to its children, which ensures that no single machine near the root is overwhelmed,” Haider-Zaveri wrote.

As for those limitations, the company has been able to overcome those too. Instead of a 5 MB update limit, they have increased it to 100 MB, and instead of 2500 user limit, they have increased it to 40,000.

Such a system didn’t come easily. It required testing and retesting, but it has reached production today — at least for now, until Facebook faces another challenge and finds a new way to do things nobody considered before (because they never reached the scale of Facebook).

from TechCrunch https://tcrn.ch/2uzE6JV
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Arturia DrumBrute Impact: smaller size, bigger sound, $349

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Talk about less is more. The Arturia DrumBrute impact is sure to be a hit at US$349 for a packed analog drum machine – but its newfound focus and re-built sounds also make it more fun to play.

Fitting a drum machine into a smaller size and cutting the price this low does mean taking some things out. But it’s what’s left in that may make people find the DrumBrute Impact appealing.

Arturia has been trying their hand at drum machines for a while. It began on the software side, with the Spark series, but the workflow and functionality of that line never seemed to grab users quite like with Native Instruments’ Maschine or Ableton Live combined with Push, to say nothing of people who want to get away from the computer and use some hardware. The DrumBrute was promising, packing some novel analog sound circuitry together with workflow features from Spark and BeatStep Pro, but its sound felt like a work in progress. (Case in point: my studio neighbor has one and loves it, but he mutes the kick and replaces it with something else. Making drum machines is hard.)

So, that’s the surprise of DrumBrute Impact. The “impact” which I thought was just smart marketing for it being small and cheap actually is a clue to the fact that the Impact has all new circuitry inside. It’s the Arturia brain here, but the soul has been upgraded.

Finally, Arturia have made something that doesn’t just feel like another Roland TR drum machine. And that’s good, because much as I love the TR, having only that color is a bit like having a Wurlitzer but no Rhodes. But simultaneously, it also sounds like a new set of sounds you want to use, without requiring you to invest a huge amount of money in those sounds.

The result: this thing hits really hard. That matters. We’re humans. We like things that go thud. We can feel it. This isn’t theory; it’s visceral.

The sound engine:

You get a full complement of parts, each analog and with controllable parts. “Analog” remains something of a marketing hook, but the important thing about these parts is you get a set of sounds you can manipulate directly. That means:

KICK: pitch and decay
SNARE 1: snap and decay.
SNARE 2: tone and decay.
TOM: pitch, switch between high/low.
CYMBAL: decay.
COWBELL
CLOSED HAT: tone
OPEN HAT: decay (mute linked to the open hat)
FM DRUM: carrier pitch, decay, FM amount, and mod pitch.

I’ll work on some videos and music in the coming days. Drum machines are all about taste, so you may differ, but I liked each one of these sounds – which is really hard to get on a new machine. (The TR has a huge advantage based on familiarity, too. None of us can really say what we’d think of it if someone brainwiped us and we hadn’t heard any the music made with Rolands over the years.)

More importantly, you get a huge range as you twist the encoders on these, with a sense of power across that range rather than that usual feeling of … okay, this is the sweet spot and the rest is shite.

Snare 2, for instance, can sound like a rimshot or a clap, even, depending on where you adjust it, and lots of things in between. Tom Low easily doubles as a kick with a darker color. The cowbell is an exception, but it’s a nice grown-up homage to Roland.

It’s really the FM voice that’s the big winner, though. And it’s clear you could not only cook up some unexpected percussion with it, but also hack it into a usable, potentially weird if you want, FM bass synth.

Features:

If you want lots of I/O, well… come on, this thing is $349. But you still do manage a mono mix out, four separate outs for parts, and dedicated clock in/out, MIDI in/out, and USB.

Arturia could have made this a fairly dumb box that’s just a sound engine, but they crammed a whole lot of powerful features for playing into it, as you might expect from some of their past outings. So you get:

Step sequencing with 64 patterns (64 steps each)
Song mode for chaining patterns
Polyrhythms (set each track to its own length)
Swing, either global or per-instrument
Random pattern variations
Pattern looper, beat repeat
Real-time rolls (with that touch strip again)
Multiple sync options: Internal / MIDI / Clock, including 1PPS, 2PPQ, DIN24, and DIN48
Per-drum accents

There’s even a metronome that automatically overrides itself on the main out when you plug in headphones.

You don’t have easy MPC-style note repeat, which I personally prefer to those touch rolls, and the drum pads are basic (though you get one for each part, unlike the more expensive Roland TR-8S). Other than that, it’s hard to complain.

One surprise is the distortion circuit. It’s nice, and adds some dirt, but I almost expected something raunchier. Anyway, it’s useful to have, and you can always run those outs through some distortion pedals and really go nuts. I did run it through some light effects and delays, and it sounds unreal.

I mean, what’s to say? This thing is going to sell like crazy. $349 / 299 €. Preorder now, full availability in August.

It’s turning out to be quite a summer for hardware drum machines, with the ongoing success of the Elektrons (and some updates), the breakout hit Roland TR-8S, the coming boutique MFB TanzBar II, and now this as your cost-effective choice. If you’re still failing to play drum machines live or writing dull drum parts, you have no excuse.

https://www.arturia.com/products/hardware-synths/drumbrute-impact/overview

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Artificial meteor shower displays are coming

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Pixabay

Fireworks. So passé, right? That could well be the thinking of one Japanese start-up, which is developing shooting stars on demand, and plans to put on the world’s first artificial meteor shower in early 2020.

Tokyo-based ALE has created micro-satellites that release tiny orbs that glow brightly when they enter the atmosphere, simulating the dazzling spectacle of a meteor shower. The chemicals involved are apparently a closely-guarded secret, but each satellite is able to carry 400 balls — enough for 20-30 meteor events — which can be tinkered with to produce multi-colored “stars”. Each star will burn for several seconds before being completely burned up, long before they’re close enough to Earth to pose any danger.

The first satellite will hitch a ride into space via a rocket launched by Japan’s space agency in March 2019, while the second will be launched in mid-2019 on a private sector rocket. The company is also looking at the possibility of using existing non-operational satellites to create “giant” shooting stars.

The first show is scheduled to take place over Hiroshima, although the company says their meteor showers could easily be deployed anywhere on the planet, since the stockpile of “stars” is being kept in space. It’s not clear how much a faux meteor shower will cost, but with the company spending $20 million on the development and production of just two satellites, it probably won’t be cheap.

from Engadget https://engt.co/2JCOVzB
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These surreal photos play with your mind, and they were created entirely in-camera

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Most of us would think that creating images that look like they’re out of this world would take a lot of Photoshop magic. However, John Dykstra is an artist and surrealist photographer from Michigan who does it all in-camera. He uses his garage as a studio and adds simple props to create optical illusions and capture them in mind-boggling images.

I chatted with John a little about his work, as I was astounded by the images he creates. First of all, I was curious to know what inspired him to take this approach. Doing everything in-camera is certainly not an easy method of creating surrealistic images, and John confirms that it’s challenging to him: but in the right ways.

With Photoshop composites, there are practically no scenes or photographs you can’t create. You think, “I can pretty much capture anything I see in my imagination.” You are simply limited by your imagination. And that attitude towards photography doesn’t change at all with my approach, it just involves more creative problem solving. But the difference in the process is what makes it so exciting. When you have to capture all your visuals in camera, and don’t allow yourself to piece multiple photographs together during post-production, you tend to work a lot more with materials and you tend to become more inventive. It kind of pushed me into becoming an interdisciplinary artist, working with paints, drawings, practical effects, and what is essentially installation art.

Jon says that this problem-solving approach and the combination of techniques is what leads him to new ideas, pushes the limits and exercises the creative muscles of his imagination. But there’s something else that motivates him to create these incredible surrealistic images in-camera:

Then there’s my romanticization of creating a “real” photograph of an imaginary scene, and that keeps me pretty motivated to keep playing with this process. Making this kind of photography plays around with the eroding faith that people have in photography as a document of visual truth. A lot of people see my work and assume that its Photoshopped, or sometimes they think it’s a painting. I love how these photographs quite plainly show how quick we are to follow our first assumption. I also love the reactions I get when, after someone has been looking at the photograph in public, I inform them that this is exactly the way it looked through the camera.

The artist says that we’re so used to seeing manipulated photography, that it’s hard to see such unusual photography and not assume it’s unaltered. And I tend to agree: most of us would assume that the photos like this were created in Photoshop, but as John puts it, “sometimes you can believe in what you see.”

As for his approach, John used to call it “concrete surrealism” or “straight surrealism,” because the approach was so evidently different from composite surrealism. He uses perspective illusions in photography to speak on the importance of perspective towards life. And he decided to capture all his ideas with practical effects while he was still in college, when a professor criticized his early surrealist work telling him “to try to avoid these Photoshop tropes.” So, John decided that if he was going to avoid Photoshop tropes, he might as well avoid Photoshop manipulation altogether. And this is when his work started developing towards what he creates today.

I think I missed the first three or four critiques that semester because I had no idea what to create. My first idea came to me when I thought about how our perspective can trap us, and how so many of our boundaries in life are illusionary. Combining that thought with anamorphic illusions lead me to the idea for Penalty Box, a self-portrait that depicts me as drawing the illusion of a box around myself in chalk. At first I tried drawing the illusion on paper, but that didn’t work at all. Then I remembered the work of John Chervinsky, who I discovered a month earlier just after his passing. He was using chalk on chalkboard to create these very interesting photographs, and I knew I had found the solution to creating my piece. I quickly built a small 8’ x 8’ x 4’ plywood stage in my parents’ garage—God bless them for letting me use that space—covered it with a pint of chalkboard paint, set up my camera, and then the magic happened.

When he first looked through the viewfinder, John says he was amazed how it turned out. But, getting the shot right wasn’t an easy task.

While you were walking around the set, you could clearly see from any angle that the “cube” I had drawn was just a set of lines drawn on a surface, but when you looked at it from this one single point in space it all came to life; these flat lines just transformed to create this very three dimensional space. The room that I was allowed to pose in was incredibly cramped, and it probably took around thirty or forty frames to get my pose just right. My feet and back were aching from compressing my body in such an awkward way as not to let my hat or shoulder obscure the lines and ruin the illusion. But the final image was a complete success in how it depicted exactly what I was feeling and wanted to say.

Since these images are very complex and demanding, I was curious to know how much time it normally takes John to create one image. As I assumed, it takes a lot of time. But if you ask me, it definitely pays off.

It depends on the photograph, but typically it’s between 15-30 hours. The photo depicting the facade of a church took about 40 hours. Between finding the right angle, painting a ton of bricks with chalkboard paint, placing the bricks in the right orientation, lining up the chalk on the bricks in the foreground with the chalk on the walls, then painting the arch onto the walls, and using a remote trigger to photograph my hand coming out church, the hours really rack up. But I think that’s just the nature of the process, where you’re running back and forth from the camera to see if everything lines up, gradually making small changes at a slower pace to  In other pieces, I use a lot of chalk in some of my work, and chalk isn’t always easy to work with. It took me several hours to shade the cloud you see in the photograph with the balloon. In the future it shouldn’t take as long, as I continue to refine my process.

John’s photos combine drawing, photography and the use of props, and they require getting the light and the perspective just right to achieve the desired result. So I was curious to know – does he do everything himself, or he has some help. And I was amazed to learn that John does it all on his own!

I do everything myself, from coming up with the concept, building the stage, scanning Craigslist or driving around on garbage night to find free furniture and other props, drawing or painting the illusions, and even printing my own photographs. I don’t have much money to spare for help, and thankfully most of my friends will model for if in exchange for gas money.

Finally, I asked John what gear and accessories he normally uses. His earlier work illustrates the famous expression that gear doesn’t matter because he used to shoot with a Nikon D7000 and an Alienbee. Today, however, he works with a medium format digital camera, three Einstein E640’s, several different fresnel lights, a fog machine, and some other knick-knacks that provide him with a lot to experiment with.

I was pretty much sold on the medium format digital camera, because my dream is to have a large format print exhibition where people can stick their noses right up to the prints and see for themselves that my work is unaltered. I also just love large prints!

While we’re at the large format print exhibition, I sure hope that John will have one soon. I can only imagine how amazing these images would look when printed large! But in the meantime, take a look at more of John’s images below. And of course, make sure to check out more of his work on his website, and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Flickr.

from DIYPhotography.net -Hacking Photography, One Picture At A Time http://bit.ly/2zUcSTF
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Genetically modified ‘designer babies’ might be okay, according to a top ethics council

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baby embryo egg sperm fetus pregnancy

  • A leading UK bioethics group called the Nuffield Council released a report saying that under certain circumstances, editing the DNA of human embryos might be ethically acceptable.
  • The report said that deciding on the ethical and legal framework for this is important now, as it may soon be scientifically possible to rewrite the DNA of children before they are born.
  • That’s due to genetic editing technologies like CRISPR.
  • But if we’re going to edit human DNA, we need to ensure it’s done in a way that doesn’t increase inequality in society, according to the report.

It may soon be possible for parents to edit the genes of their children before they’re born, changing their DNA in ways that could affect their health and enhance their senses, strength, or even intelligence.

The situation is so close to becoming reality, in fact, that genetic experts have pushed in recent years for more discussion about whether societies will permit that sort of modification, as well as rules about what changes are permissible.

On Tuesday, a leading bioethics organization in the UK released a report on the topic, which concluded that under certain circumstances, it could be ethically acceptable to genetically modify humans.

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics is an independent organization that evaluates ethical questions in biology and medicine. The group’s report suggested there could be permissible reasons to modify human embryos, even in ways that go beyond eliminating serious disease.

While that conclusion may sound like it opens the door for "designer babies," the Nuffield Council’s report specifies that such modifications should only be acceptable if two essential conditions are met. Genetic changes would need to be made with the welfare of the modified children in mind and these changes should not increase disadvantage or division in society.

Still, a cautious acceptance of the genetic transformation humanity is big.

CRISPR

Making genetically modified humans possible

The ability to edit DNA code is not new. But the discovery of the genetic editing tool CRISPR, which emerged from several discoveries between 2007 and 2012 and had captivated the scientific community by 2015, changed the discussion.

This tool can snip specific parts of genetic code out and replace them with new segments, which could allow scientists to eliminate diseases or give people new traits. Using CRISPR is far cheaper and more accurate than previous means of editing DNA, so it essentially revolutionizes our ability to rewrite life’s code.

Using CRISPR, scientists could potentially modify the genes in sperm, eggs, or embryos. The edited embryos could be implanted in a womb via an assisted reproduction process like in vitro fertilization, and the babies born would then carry those edited genes throughout their lives and even pass them on to their children.

The science that would enable this process isn’t quite there yet. CRISPR is not accurate enough to be used in this way, and a recent study found that the tool may at times cause more unexpected or unwanted effects than we think.

But researchers think we’ll be able to get around accuracy problems and that eventually, editing human DNA will be a real possibility. The technology is already advanced enough that in the US, Europe, and China, researchers have experimented with modifying the DNA of human embryos — though in ways that will not lead to modified children being born, for now.

As the Nuffield Council report authors wrote, making these changes could result in permanent changes not just for the genetically edited individuals, but for all future humans, since that altered DNA would then be passed on.

The pressing question is how we’ll use this new ability.

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Ways we might change humanity

The report’s authors wrote that the most obvious reason to edit the DNA of an embryo would be to ensure that child isn’t born with a debilitating or fatal genetic disease. There are certain situations in which genetic editing might be the only way to avoid having a baby with a deadly condition such as Huntington’s disease.

In a poll last summer, most Americans said they were comfortable with the idea of using genetic editing to cure disease. 

Most diseases aren’t simple. Many conditions, including Alzheimer’s and various forms of cancer, have complex causes, and a number of genes and environmental factors are involved.

The researchers wrote that we might decide it’s okay to make people less predisposed to complex diseases like that.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Nuffield Council report, however, is the suggestion that there could be ethical ways to edit the human genome that go beyond curing genetic disease.

They wrote that if or when we find a way to successfully edit DNA in human embryos, it might become acceptable to make people immune to certain diseases or to help them tolerate extreme environments. That could come in handy in a world with a changing climate or if we decide to try to create colonies in space or on Mars.

The report even said that people might decide to start using these tools to enhance senses or abilities, creating enhanced humans.

To be clear, the Nuffield Council report authors aren’t endorsing all of these uses. But they aren’t declaring them inherently unethical either. They want people to understand the full scope of potential changes under discussion.

Researchers familiar with genetic editing technology think we’ll almost certainly see efforts to enhance the human genome. If you start with eliminating disease, it becomes easier to imagine making children healthier. Once you do that, it becomes easier to imagine making them more athletic, stronger, or smarter, according to Stephen Hsu, a physicist and an advisor to the genomics researchers at BGI, a major genetics research group in China.

Hsu is a member of BGI’s Cognitive Genomics Lab, a research group trying to unlock the genetic codes that account for complex traits like height, susceptibility to conditions like obesity, and — perhaps most controversially — intelligence. As he told Business Insider, if some people start modifying DNA, others will be tempted to follow suit.

"Maybe even before it becomes a reality, there will be rumors that rich people are doing this," Hsu said.

dna editing CRISPR human embryos

The need to establish an ethical framework now 

The Nuffield Council authors said that the wide range of future genetic-editing possibilities means we need to establish an ethical framework now.

From an ethical standpoint, they wrote that editing DNA should only be acceptable once certain conditions have been met.

The physical and social well-being of genetically edited people need to be protected. Edits should only improve health. But it’s also important to ensure that edited humans are treated the same as any other in society and not discriminated against.

At the same time, ethical use of this technology shouldn’t increase discrimination or inequality. This potential consequence shouldn’t be overlooked. Say certain edits make some disabilities less common; that could lead to less treatment or support for disabled people — or to more discrimination against these groups. And if only the wealthy can afford "enhanced" genetic embryos, that could create more class-based segregation in society.

Because of that, the report authors conclude that editing human embryos "would only be ethically acceptable if carried out in accordance with principles of social justice and solidarity."

In the report, they make some suggestions about how lawmakers and research institutions could ensure that happens. But of course, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about whether people can make ethical decisions when it comes to transforming humanity.

As bioethicist George Annas previously told Business Insider, "I hate to say we’ll never know what [an ideal genome] is, but we’re nowhere near that."

"Humans have more flaws than we know what to do with," Annas added. "One of them is that we don’t know what it would mean to make a better baby."

Join the conversation about this story »

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Spotify’s new tool helps artists and labels reach its playlist editors

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Spotify wants give artists and labels and easier way to submit their new music for playlist consideration. The streaming service this morning launched a feature, still in beta, that allows any artists with a Spotify for Artists account or labels using Spotify Analytics to share unreleased tracks directly with Spotify’s team of over 100 editors worldwide. The team is responsible for programming Spotify’s playlists – the lists on which a new track’s inclusion could become a make or break point for an emerging artist, and are a key part of album promotion.

The company says that, today, more than 75,000 artists are featured on its editorial playlists every week, plus another 150,000 on its flagship playlist, Discover Weekly.

However, it hasn’t always been clear how to reach the editorial team to suggest music. These days, artists and labels ask for intros to playlists editors, believing that getting to the right person will give them an edge in having their tracks selected for a playlist. The new submissions feature aims to change this process, while also driving artists and labels to use Spotify’s own software for managing profiles and tracking their stats on the service.

Spotify also stresses that submissions should include other data, not just the song itself. It wants artists and labels to notate things like the genre, mood and other data, including things like the instruments used, whether it’s a cover, the culture the song belongs to, and more. This data will be examined in addition to data Spotify already knows about the artist – like what else their fans listen to, what other playlists their music appears on, and more.

This information is used by editors who will search across the submissions to find new tracks to add to playlists, and the info will be taken into account as Spotify programs its recommendations as an added bonus. For example, if the submission is tagged and sent in seven days in advance, the selected song will automatically appear in every one of the artist’s followers’ Release Radar playlists, says Spotify.

The company also took the time in its announcement this morning to clarify that no one can pay to be added to Spotify’s playlists – something that may seem to be an option, given the over-the-top Drake promotion on the service recently that had some customers demanding refunds for what felt like an advertisement. It gave the appearance of an artist throwing money at Spotify in exchange for playlist inclusion.

Spotify today states that’s not how things work, saying:

We want to make something crystal clear: no one can pay to be added to one of Spotify’s editorial playlists. Our editors pick tracks with listeners in mind. They make these decisions using data about what’s resonating most with their community of listeners.

from TechCrunch https://tcrn.ch/2uB7PSN
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