Researchers hope a blood test can reveal early signs of cancer


Scientists hope to perfect a new blood test that can detect the early signs of eight different types of cancer. Thrive Earlier Detection, a company founded by three Johns Hopkins cancer researchers, has raised $110 million from investors in order to bring ts early screening tool CancerSEEK to market, reports MIT Technology Review. Known as a "liquid biopsy," CancerSEEK works by detecting genetic mutations in tumor DNA and protein markers in blood plasma that are implicated in cancer.

Initial studies for CancerSEEK have been promising, but scientists say there’s plenty of room for improvement. A retrospective study published in Science in 2018 of over 1000 patients with early-stage tumors revealed that CancerSEEK yielded a positive result about 70 percent of the time. CancerSEEK worked especially well for ovarian and liver cancers, with nearly a 98 percent success rate. It fared the most poorly with breast cancer, detecting only 33 percent of Stage 1 breast cancer. False positives were less than one percent.

A simple blood test that can detect cancer early and accurately has been biotech’s holy grail invention for many years, but the science isn’t quite there yet. Recent high-profile failures in the industry, such as that of Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos, are proof of the dangers of media enthusiasm mixed with venture capital funding. Thrive joins a crowded field of other biotech entrepreneurs aiming to get their tests into hospitals. Grail, a competing biotech startup headed by a former Google executive, is behind a blood test that correctly identified tumors in 87 percent of patients studied.

The next steps for CancerSEEK appear to be more studies. Thrive is partnering with healthcare provider Geisinger to launch a clinical trial of over 10,000 healthy individuals.

Source: MIT Technology Review

from Engadget

Pitching accuracy rates of over 99% for multiple cancer screens, Thrive launches with $110 million


For more than 25 years the founders of Thrive Earlier Detection have been researching ways to improve the accuracy of liquid biopsy tests.

The fruits of that labor from Dr. Bert Vogelstein, Dr. Kenneth Kinzler and Dr. Nickolas Papadopoulos — all professors and researchers at Johns Hopkins University — is CancerSEEK, a liquid biopsy test that has demonstrated specificity of over 99% in a retrospective study published by Science earlier this year.

By minimizing false positives, in cancer screening tools and providing a test with proven accuracy doctors can take treatment actions earlier, which can lead to better survival rates for cancer patients.

Now, with FDA approval for its tests for pancreatic and ovarian cancer and a new study underway with a large healthcare provider, CancerSEEK is being rolled out to market through Thrive Earlier Detection with the help of a new $110 million round of funding.

Thrive works by analyzing highly targeted sets of DNA and proteins in the blood to detect cancer.

“Over the past 30 years we have made great strides in understanding cancer. Combining this knowledge with the latest in molecular testing technologies, our founders have developed a simple and affordable blood test for the detection of many cancers at relatively early stages,” said Christoph Lengauer, Ph.D., partner at Third Rock Ventures, and co-founder and chief innovation officer of Thrive, in a statement. “We envision a future where routine preventative care includes a blood test for cancer, just as patients are now routinely tested for early stages of heart disease. We know that if cancer is caught early enough, it can often be cured.”

As part of its rollout, the company’s screening tool is being evaluated in DETECT, a study of 10,000 currently healthy individuals that’s being conducted in conjunction with the healthcare organization Geisinger. So far, 10,000 women between the ages of 65 and 75 without a history of cancer have been enrolled in the trial.

“To be truly useful to patients, new medical technology must be developed with rigorous evidence and designed to be affordable and readily integrated into routine medical care,” said Steven J. Kafka, Ph.D., partner at Third Rock Ventures and chief executive officer of Thrive, said in a statement. “With the help of experts and strategic partners, Thrive is launching today to advance a novel test for the earlier detection of multiple cancers, which we aim to augment with an integrated service that helps patients maneuver the often confusing path that follows a cancer diagnosis.”

Third Rock Ventures actually led the Series A financing for Thrive, and comprise the bulk of the company’s executive team, while Kinzler and Papadopoulos — the researchers from Johns Hopkins who developed the technology — will have seats on the company’s board.

Other investors in the round include Bill Maris’ Section 32 investment firm, Casdin Capital, Biomatics Capital, BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, Invus, Exact Sciences, Cowin Venture, Camden Partners, Gamma 3 LLC and others.

According to Thrive, ovarian, pancreatic and liver cancers are difficult to detect because they can develop in pathways that aren’t always well understood.

Using CancerSEEK, Thrive hopes to develop a blood-based test that can be used in routine medical care, with the goal of identifying multiple cancer types at earlier stages.

The technology works by following genomic mutations in circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) and cancer-associated protein markers in plasma to identify abnormalities that are common across multiple cancers. In a retrospective study published by Science in 2018, CancerSEEK was shown to perform with greater than 99% specificity and with sensitivities ranging from 69% to 98% for the detection of five cancer types – ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreas and esophageal, which the company says are cancers for which there no screening tests available for average-risk individuals.

Thrive’s research has attracted an all-star executive team in addition to Lengauer and Kafka from Third Rock. Former Goldman Sachs lead medical technology analyst Isaac Ro is joining the company as chief financial officer, and the company’s head of research is Isaac Kinde, a co-inventor of the CancerSEEK technology.

It’s hard to overstate how transformative the Thrive test could prove to be. Having a blood-based diagnostic test for cancer prevalence and the ability to initiate treatment earlier radically improves the chances for surviving a cancer diagnosis.


from TechCrunch

This documentary exposes all the ways people cheat on Instagram


This documentary exposes all the ways people cheat on Instagram

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From a platform intended to share moments with your friends, Instagram has become something completely different. Nowadays it’s a game and a competition, and many people go great lengths to become or at least appear popular on this social network. In this documentary from VPRO Extra, you get to see all the crazy things people do to seem popular, and it takes you behind the scenes of “the Wild West called Instagram.”

The documentary follows Nicolaas Veul and the making and growing of the account @followme.doc. It was originally published on IGTV; perhaps that’s why it’s vertical. Nicolaas tries all the tips and tricks to gain popularity, interviews key Instagram players and influencers and reflects on his findings.

At the very beginning of the documentary, you hear words: “Instagram is one big façade, it’s as fake as can be.” And nowadays, it’s definitely true. People do all kinds of things to fake travels, followers, and comments. On the other hand, there are people who want to expose this entire charade. For example, Instagram star Gabbie Hanna recently faked a trip to Coachella to prove how easy it is to cheat on this social network.  Photographer Trey Ratcliff even wrote an entire book about how easy it is to fake influence.

Lately, Instagram itself has started working on reducing fake likes and followers. Its parent company, Facebook, recently filed a lawsuit against a New Zealand-based company that offered these services. In addition, Instagram is testing hiding the Like counts from your audience. It’s an attempt to shift focus from quantity to quality again, as it was initially the idea. Still, people keep finding ways to cheat, and my guess is that the battle against it will be very long and difficult.

[Why fake accounts dominate Instagram | #followme | vpro extra]

from -Hacking Photography, One Picture At A Time

I listened to a Massive Attack record remixed by a neural network


Drums. Synth. The faintest hint of a vocal track. For a moment the song is familiar and I’m teleported back to the late ’90s, listening to worn-out cassettes in the backseat of my parent’s saloon. But then the track shifts in a way that I didn’t expect, introducing samples that, while appropriate in tone and feeling, don’t match up with my brain’s subconscious. It’s an odd sensation that I haven’t felt before; as if someone has snuck into my flat and rearranged the furniture in small, barely-perceptible ways. I can’t help but stand rooted to the spot, waiting to see how the song shifts next.

Mezzanine, by trip-hop group Massive Attack, is a huge record that many, including Rolling Stone, consider one of the best mankind has ever produced. You’ve probably heard at least a few of its tracks, like "Teardrop," "Angel" and "Inertia Creeps." I can say with absolute certainty, though, that you’ve never listed to a version remixed by a custom neural network.

The mashup is part of a new exhibition at London’s art-focused Barbican center. It’s easy to miss — the moody, atmospheric tones are easily suffocated by the patter and chatter of nearby attendees. A giant projection with flashing letters, though, alludes to the AI-powered creativity happening out of sight.

Those characters are, in fact, from DNA sequences that were used to encode the album in a spray can. That unusual form of musical distribution is also being exhibited at the show, but has no real connection to the neural network project. Still, the letters that comprise DNA — A, C, G and T — flash across the wall, creating a simple but effective music video for the Mezzanine remix that’s pumped out of two Sonos speakers.

The neural-network rendition never stops. It’s a machine that constantly spits out new sequences derived from every track on Mezzanine. The remix sounds like a singular piece that is continuously being updated and extended, like a band who doesn’t know when to stop riffing on the last track of a live set. The lack of a clear-cut start or end point was maddening, at first. But I soon appreciated its rolling and ever-evolving nature, which felt strangely similar to a 10-hour ‘white noise’ rain track or study playlist on YouTube.

The original version of "Teardrop," the second single from Mezzanine.

Massive Attack collaborated with Mick Grierson, a professor and research leader at the UAL (University of the Arts London) Creative Computing Institute, and various students on the installation. Prior to the project, Grierson had spent several years working on ways to produce music with neural networks. Unlike most artists, though, he didn’t use notes and chord progressions as the fundamental building blocks. Instead, he focused on systems that could understand the "texture" of bands like Massive Attack, who uses sweeping, continuous sounds to transport the listener. "You don’t really notate that stuff," he explained. "It’s about the style, and the quality of the sample, particularly with electronic music."

A few years back, Grierson and his research team attended Moogfest, a music and technology festival in North Carolina, to run a workshop on machine learning and share some of the toolkits they had been developing. For Grierson, it wasn’t enough for the systems to work and produce something pleasant — they had to be packaged in a way that artists understood and could actually use.

The researcher bumped into some folk from Google who had been working on a similar project. They were impressed with Grierson’s work and suggested he talk with Massive Attack, who were keen to utilize machine learning in their music. After the show, the band called Grierson and scheduled an in-person meeting.

"Then [Massive Attack] just came into the office and we had a talk, and we played them what we had, and they said that they wanted to make a new version of Mezzanine," Grierson said. "And that was how it started really."

"We played them what we had, and they said that they wanted to make a new version of Mezzanine."

The British group, who used to be a trio but now consists of just Robert "3D" Del Naja and Grant "Daddy G" Marshall, has long used technology to create, perform and distribute music in unique and unexpected ways. As Wired reports, the band met Andrew Melchior, part of creative technology specialist 3rd Space Agency, after a concert in 2013. The musicians wanted visuals that were unique to each venue and could respond to the audience’s reactions. Melchior suggested they talk to Magic Leap, the company behind the One AR headset, and Will Wright, the legendary game designer behind SimCity and The Sims, who was working on AI tools with his startup Stupid Fan Club.


Later, Massive Attack worked with developer RjDj on Fantom, a music player app that offered four new tracks and the ability to remix songs based on the user’s location, local time, movement and, if you had a paired smartwatch, heartbeat.

At first, Grierson and his team planned to hand over their technology and let Massive Attack spearhead the Mezzanine remix. "We wanted to help them do things their way," he said. "That was very much the approach we wanted to take." After a few months, however, it was clear the systems weren’t ready for even tech-savvy artists like Massive Attack to use. Grierson was reluctant to take creative ownership of the project — his goal was to empower other people — but soon realized that he needed to be more hands-on.

"Eventually I just said, ‘Look if you still really want to do this, I will devote time to making it happen, and I’ll put my own expertise in,’" he said.

Grierson, working alongside students from UAL and Goldsmiths, developed a bunch of machine learning systems that could continuously analyze and ‘train’ themselves on the record. For the best part of a year, Grierson would wake up and load stems — the individual instruments, or tracks that make up a song — into the systems, go about his day and then check to see what they had produced in the evening. It was easy, he discovered, to generate music that was awful or vastly different from the source material. Creating a subtle variation of Mezzanine, something that could pass for a bonus track or extended prelude, was tougher.

"Sometimes it takes hours to generate something, and then you come back and listen to it and it’s just not worked the way you need, so you have to start again," Grierson said. "There’s no real-time feedback. So we were constantly trying to reach towards a real-time system that would allow us to do this quickly, and that ended up being much more challenging than I originally hoped. It was just really hard. I don’t know what else to say. It was really, really hard."

The original version of "Angel," the first track on Mezzanine.

He decided to focus on a single track, "Angel," and nail Massive Attack’s trademark sense of space, or emptiness. "And when I finished that, and I played it to everybody, everyone just went, ‘This is it,’" he said. Elated, Grierson moved on to the other tracks. Though he tackled them separately, the system was allowed to subtly blur in elements from the rest of the album. "If it’s playing back ‘Teardrop,’" he explained, "sometimes you’ll get the guitar part from ‘Inertia Creeps,’ just because, well, I allowed it to have that space, so it could creep in."

Grierson also built a machine learning system that could produce a strange, but not ear-achingly bad vocal track. Of course, it doesn’t know anything about the words, right? "It doesn’t understand the words, it’s just trying to make up something that sounds a bit like words, but it does sound like 3D [Del Naja]," he said. "It sounds like 3D talking in an alien language."

By September, both Grierson and Massive Attack were happy with the overall sound. Before they could wrap production, though, the group had to make the AI-powered remix interactive. The Barbican wanted something that was simple and approachable enough to tempt visitors into walking over. In the end, Grierson built a small camera into the podium that holds the glass cabinet and Mezzanine spray can. The hidden hardware tracks the number of people by the exhibit and their proximity to the projection. If a throng of people inch closer, the drums and bass will rise in response.

"If you move around a lot you get a few surprises, and then as people drift away, it calms itself down."

"So as you approach it, it gives back to you," Grierson said. "Then if you move around a lot you get a few surprises, and then as people drift away, it calms itself down." Otherwise, the system moves into an idle state, slowly generating new segments and phasing out old ones. It’s a piece that will change and evolve over the exhibition’s three-month runtime. Every new sequence is, however, confined to some basic parameters — a necessary failsafe so Massive Attack and the rest of the team don’t have to stand watch.

Grierson hopes the installation will make people pause and look at Mezzanine, an album that was released more than two decades ago, with a fresh perspective. It could, he says, also trigger a discussion about the way art will be influenced by artificial intelligence in the future.


"I hope it reminds them of the past," he said, "and makes them think about the future in new ways." The project has an ephemeral, ever-changing form that’s unlike any traditional record. It echoes live performances, which are slightly different every time, and the way many artists are now choosing to share and update their work online. Kanye West tweaked and re-uploaded The Life of Pablo post-release; HBO, meanwhile, removed a Starbucks cup from Game of Thrones.

You can have a favorite version, of course, but in an era of streaming, remixes and remasters, media is no longer permanent. It’s possible that, in the future, artists will continuously reinterpret their work, and AI may be a part of that process.

"From an artist’s point of view there’s nothing unusual about that," Grierson said. "It’s just that from a listener’s point of view, they’re used to something being a certain way."

To coincide with the exhibition, Grierson is launching a site called Mimic that teaches artists how to use similar machine learning techniques. If it catches on, Mezzanine will be remembered not only as a phenomenal record, but one that helped democratize a potentially ground-breaking technology in the music industry. And if not, well — we got an interesting Massive Attack remix out of it.

Images: Barbican

Source: AI: More than Human (Barbican)

from Engadget

Chair Designs that redefine your definition of a chair!


You must have heard of the basic human needs – food clothing and shelter? Well, one of the basic needs of every shelter is a chair! Available practically everywhere on the planet, the chair is one of the most versatile designs, ranging from the standard four legs, one seat design to chairs that have no legs at all, whatever your needs, we have a curated chair design to inspire you to innovate and create a chair that rocks the legs of every other chair design out there!

‘Lost in Sofa’ armchair by Daisuke Motogi Design And Architecture

Filicudi chair by Marcantonio for Qeeboo

Babu Chair by TORU

V1 chair by ODESD2

Mochi Chair by Roberth Kwok

The Ombre Glass Collection by Germans Ermičs

LP10 Plateau Chair by Lukas Peet for Division 12

The Wabi lounge by Guilherme Torres

Arch Chair designed by Martin Hirth

Chips Lounge Chair by Lucie Koldová 

from Yanko Design

No, Beatport’s subscription will not kill music – here’s how it really works


Pioneer and Beatport this week announced new streaming offerings for DJs. And then lots of people kind of freaked out. Let’s see what’s actually going on, if any of it is useful to DJs and music lovers, and what we should or shouldn’t worry about.

Artists, labels, and DJs are understandably on edge about digital music subscriptions – and thoughtless DJing. Independent music makers tend not to see any useful revenue or fan acquisition from streaming. So the fear is that a move to the kinds of pricing on Spotify, Amazon, and Apple services would be devastating.

And, well – that’s totally right, you obviously should be afraid of those things if you’re making music. Forget even getting rich – if big services take over, just getting heard could become an expensive endeavor, a trend we’ve already begun to see.

So I talked to Beatport to get some clarity on what they’re doing. We’re fortunate now that the person doing artist and label relations for Beatport is Heiko Hoffmann, who has an enormous resume in the trenches of the German electronic underground, including some 17 years under his belt as editor of Groove, which has had about as much a reputation as any German-language rag when it comes to credibility.


The skinny:

Beatport LINK: fifteen bucks a month, but aimed at beginners – 128k only. Use it for previews if you’re a serious Beatport user, recommend it to your friends bugging you about how they should start DJing, and otherwise don’t worry about it.

Beatport CLOUD: five bucks a month, gives you sync for your Beatport collection. Included in the other stuff here and – saves you losing your Beatport purchases and gives you previews. 128k only. Will work with Rekordbox in the fall, but you’ll want to pay extra for extra features (or stick with your existing download approach).

Beatport LINK PRO: the real news – but it’s not here yet. Works with Rekordbox, costs 40-60 bucks, but isn’t entirely unlimited. Won’t destroy music (uh, not saying something else won’t, but this won’t). The first sign of real streaming DJs – but the companies catering to serious DJs aren’t going to give away the farm the way Apple and Spotify have. In fact, if there’s any problem here, it’s that no one will buy this – but that’s Beatport’s problem, not yours (as it should be).

WeDJ streaming is for beginners, not Pioneer pros

This first point is probably the most important. Beatport (and SoundCloud) have each created a subscription offering that works exclusively with Pioneer’s WeDJ mobile DJ tool. That is, neither of these works with Rekordbox – not yet.

Just in case there’s any doubt, Pioneer has literally made the dominant product image photo some people DJing in their kitchen. So there you go: Rekordbox and and CDJ and TORAIZ equals nightclub, WeDJ equals countertop next to a pan of fajitas.

So yeah, SoundCloud streaming is now in a DJ app. And Beatport is offering its catalog of tracks for US$14.99 a month for the beta, which is a pretty phenomenally low price – and one that would rightfully scare labels and artists.

But it’s important this is in WeDJ as far as DJing. Pioneer aren’t planning on endangering their business ecosystem in Rekordbox, higher-end controllers, and standalone hardware like the CDJ. They’re trying to attract the beginners in the hopes that some of those people will expand the high end market down the road.

By the same token, it’d be incredibly short-sighted if Beatport were to give up on customers paying a hundred bucks a month or so on downloads just to chase growth. Instead, Beatport will split its offerings into a consumer/beginner product (LINK for WeDJ) and two products for serious DJs (LINK Pro and Beatport CLOUD).

And there’s reason to believe that what disrupts the consumer/beginner side might not make ripples when it comes to pros – as we’ve been there already. Spotify is in Algoriddim’s djay. It’s actually a really solid product. But the djay user base doesn’t impact what people use in the clubs, where the CDJ (or sometimes Serato or TRAKTOR) reign supreme. So if streaming in DJ software were going to crash the download market, you could argue it would have happened already.

That’s still a precarious situation, so let’s break down the different Beatport options, both to see how they’ll impact music makers’ business – and whether they’re something you might want to use yourself.

Ce n’est pas un CDJ.

Beatport LINK – the beginner one

First, that consumer service – yeah, it’s fifteen bucks a month and includes the Beatport catalog. But it’s quality-limited and works only in the WeDJ app (and with the fairly toy-like new DDJ-200 controller, which I’ll look at separately).

Who’s it for? “The Beginner DJs that are just starting out will have millions of tracks to practice and play with,” says Heiko. “Previously, a lot of this market would have been lost to piracy. The bit rate is 128kbs AAC and is not meant for public performance.”

But us serious Beatport users might want to mess around with it, too – it’s a place you can audition new tracks for a fairly low monthly fee. “It’s like having a record shop in your home,” says Heiko.

If you think fifteen bucks a month for everything Beatport is a terrible business idea, don’t worry – Beatport agree. “This is the first of our Beatport LINK products,” says Heiko. “This is not a ‘Spotify for dance music.’ It’s a streaming service for DJs and makes Beatport’s extensive electronic music catalog available to stream audio into the WeDJ app.” The bigger picture looks to higher quality streams, offline ‘locker,’ and the stuff serious DJs will need. And yeah, Beatport want more money for that, which is good – because you want more money charged for that as a producer or label. But before we get to that, let’s talk about the ‘sync’ option, the other thing available now:

WeDJ – a mobile gateway drug for DJs, or so Pioneer hopes. (NI and Algoriddim did it first; let’s see who does it better.)

How you get paid: Heiko explains: “We create a royalty pool to share with all labels and then distribute based on number of plays. The per-play pay fee will change depending on subscriptions/plays.”

By the way, part of the problem with iTunes was that Apple – who care more about you buying iPhones, presumably, than they do music downloads – more or less buried download sales once they went with subscriptions. So since Beatport is still in the download business, will LINK try to direct some of these new and beginning DJs to the store?

The answer is yes; Beatport tells us they’re investigating how to do this, but there will be at least an initial effort. “For the launch of the Rekordbox integration we will have a page with curated playlists and charts (by our curation team but also by labels, DJs and other partners) to discover music for LINK and also to download it, says Heiko.”

Beatport CLOUD – the sync one

Okay, so streaming may be destroying music but … you’ve probably still sometimes wanted to have access to digital downloads you’ve bought without having to worry about hard drive management or drive and laptop failures.

Beatport CLOUD does that, the sync/locker making a comeback, with €/$ 4.99 a month fee and no obligation or contract. It’s also included free in LINK – so for me, for instance, since I hate promos and like to dig for my own music even as press and DJ, I’m seriously thinking of the fifteen bucks to get full streaming previews, mixing in WeDJ, and CLOUD.

There are some other features here, too:

Re-download anything, unlimited. I heard from a friend – let’s call him Pietro Kerning – that maybe a stupid amount of music he’d (uh, or “she’d”) bought on Beatport was now scattered across a random assortment of hard drives. I would never do such a thing, because I organize everything immaculately in all aspects of my life in a manner becoming a true professional, but now this “friend” will easily be able to grab music anywhere in the event of that last-minute DJ gig.

By the same token you can:

Filter all your existing music in a cloud library. Not that I need to, perfectly organized individual, but you slobs need this, of course.

Needle-drop full previews. Hear 120 seconds from anywhere in a track – for better informed purchases. (Frankly, this makes me calmer as a label owner, even – I would totally rather you hear more of our music.)

There should be some obvious bad news here – this only works with Beatport purchased music. You can’t upload music the way some services have worked in the past. But I think given the current legal landscape, if you want that, set up your own backup server.

What I like about this, at least, is that this store isn’t losing stuff you’ve bought from them. (Bandcamp does a nice job in this respect – and of course it’s the store I use the most when not using Beatport.)

Update: I got a couple of questions on this tier – mainly, why it’s five bucks, and where that money goes. I’m unclear whether this fee, download limits, and previews are entirely Beatport-related, or whether they also tie into rights management and deals with the labels, so I’ll try to find that out. I also do wonder if Beatport will need to add more functionality to this or the ‘pro’ tiers to entice users. But we’ll see.

The new Beatport cloud.

How you get paid: Yes, CLOUD adds a fee – and that fee does go partly to you. “CLOUD provides two additional services” say Heiko. “The revenue from CLOUD will be shared with labels/suppliers.”

Beatport LINK Pro – what’s coming

There are very few cases where someone says, “hey, good news – this will be expensive.” But music right now is a special case. And it’s good news that Beatport is launching a more expensive service.

For labels and artists, it means a serious chance to stay alive. (I mean, even for a label doing a tiny amount of download sales, this can mean that little bit of cash to pay the mastering engineer and the person who did the design for the cover, or to host a showcase in your local club.)

For serious users using that service, it means a higher quality way of getting music than other subscription services – and that you support the people who make the music you love, so they keep using it.

Or, at least, that’s the hope.

What Beatport is offering at the “pro” tiers does more and costs more. Just like Pioneer doesn’t want you to stop buying CDJs just because they have a cheap controller and app, Beatport doesn’t want you to stop spending money for music just because they have a subscription for that controller and app. Heiko explains:

With the upcoming Pioneer rekordbox integration, Beatport will roll out two new plans – Beatport LINK Pro and Beatport LINK Pro+ – with an offline locker and 256kbps AAC audio quality (which is equivalent to 320kbps MP3, but you’re the expert here). This will be club ready, but will be aimed at DJs who take their laptops to clubs, for now. They will cost €39,99/month and €59,99/month depending on how many tracks you can put in the offline locker (50 and 100 respectively).

You’ll get streaming inside Rekordbox with the basic LINK, too – but only at 128k. So it’ll work for previewing and trying out mixes, but the idea is you’ll still pay more for higher quality. (And of course that also still means paying more to work with CDJs, which is also a big deal.)

And yeah, Beatport agree with me. “We think streaming for professional DJ use should be priced higher,” says Heiko. “And we also need to be sure that this is not biting into the indie labels and artists (and therefore also Beatport’s own) revenues,” he says.

What Heiko doesn’t say is that this could increase spending, but I think it actually could. Looking at my own purchase habits and talking to others, a lot of times you look back and spend $100 for a big gig, but then lapse a few months. A subscription fee might actually encourage you to spend more and keep your catalog up to date gig to gig.

It’s also fair to hope this could be good for under-the-radar labels and artists even relative to the status quo. If serious DJs are locked into subscription plans, they might well take a chance on lesser known labels and artists since they’re already paying. I don’t want to be overly optimistic, though – a lot of this will be down to how Beatport handles its editorial offerings and UX on the site as this subscription grows. That means it’s good someone like Heiko is handling relations, though, as I expect he’ll be hearing from us.

Really, one very plausible scenario is that streaming DJing doesn’t catch on initially because it’s more expensive – and people in the DJ world may stick to downloads. A lot of that in turn depends on things like how 5G rolls out worldwide (which right now involves a major battle between the US government and Chinese hardware vendor Huawei, among other things), plus how Pioneer deals with a “Streaming CDJ.”

The point is, you shouldn’t have to worry about any of that. And there’s no rush – smart companies like Beatport will charge sustainable amounts of money for subscriptions and move slowly. The thing to be afraid of is if Apple or Spotify rush out a DJ product and, like, destroy independent music. If they try it, we should fight back.

How you get paid: The PRO rates will represent a higher rate than what you get from the standard LINK services – because of the higher fee. And it’s more like the fee you get from downloads, not the cents-per-play trainwreck that is services like Beatport.

“The revenue share for LINK streaming between Beatport and the labels/suppliers (depending if a label has a direct deal or if we get the music from a distributor) is the same as for our downloads,” says Heiko. “If producers/musicians want to know more about their revenue share they can contact their label/distributor,” he says.

About the ‘locker’

Correction: I incorrectly described the CLOUD product as being a ‘locker.’ That term is meant to be applied to the virtual bin where a fixed number of tracks are available offline without an Internet connection.

Some folks will remember that Beatport bought the major “locker” service for digital music – when it acquired Pulselocker. [link to our friends at DJ TechTools]

On the coming LINK Pro plans, the locker is part of what you pay for at the higher subscription rate. It gives you the ability to access music from your subscription in places you don’t have an internet connection. Now, lots of us DJ with more than 50-100 tracks on a stick – so you can bet a lot of people will still wind up for now using USB sticks.

Will labels and artists benefit?

If it sounds like I’m trying to be a cheerleader for Beatport, I’m really not. If you look at the top charts in genres, a lot of Beatport is, frankly, dreck – even with great editorial teams trying to guide consumers to good stuff. And centralization in general has a poor track record when it comes to underground music.

No, what I am biased toward is products that are real, shipping, and based on serious economics. So much as I’m interested in radical ideas for decentralizing music distribution, I think those services have yet to prove their feasibility.

And I think it’s fair to give Beatport some credit for being a business that’s real, based on actual revenue that’s shared between labels and artists. It may mean little to your speedcore goth neo-Baroque label (BLACK HYPERACID LEIPZIG INDUSTRIES, obviously – please let’s make that). But Beatport really is a cornerstone for a lot of the people making dance music now, on a unique scale.

There are more questions here – like how that heftier subscription fee is divided among labels – and I’ll be looking at that more as we get closer to launch.

But the basic vision for LINK seems to be solid when it comes to revenue, at least as a place to start. Heiko again:

LINK will provide an additional revenue source to the labels and artists. The people who are buying downloads on Beatport are doing so because they want to DJ/perform with them. LINK is not there to replace that.

But I think for the reason I’ve already repeated – that the “serious” and “amateur”/wedding/beginner DJ gulf is real and not just a thing snobs talk about – LINK and WeDJ probably won’t disrupt label business, even that much to the positive. Look ahead to Rekordbox integration and the higher tiers. And yeah, I’m happy to spend the money, because I never get tired of listening to music – really.

And what if you don’t like this? Talk to your label and distributor. And really, you should be doing that anyway. Heiko explains:

Unlike other DSP’s, Beatport LINK has been conceived and developed in close cooperation with the labels and distributors on Beatport. Over the past year, new contracts were signed and all music used for LINK has been licensed by the right holders. However, if labels whose distributors have signed the new contract don’t want their catalog to be available for LINK they can opt out. But again: LINK is meant to provide an additional revenue source to the labels and artists.

Have a good weekend, and let us know if you have questions or comments. I’ll be looking at this for sure, as I think there isn’t enough perspective coming from serious producers who care about the details of technology.

Updated: Heiko provides some additional background on this service.

First, don’t think of it as Beatport moving from downloads to streaming. “It’s really a complimentary service to downloads,” says Heiko.

And he observes that your revenue as an independent label/producer is really their core business: “96% of Beatport’s revenue is paid to independent labels,” says Heiko. “Beatport’s per stream rate is very likely to be higher than other streaming services: we are putting the lion share of the LINK revenue into label payments. Unlike other services the fee will not be shared with music from other more mainstream genres which make up the majority of most streaming service’s payments.”

The post No, Beatport’s subscription will not kill music – here’s how it really works appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

from Create Digital Music

China’s rover finds mysterious minerals on the far side of the moon


Early this year, China’s Chang’e-4 lunar lander made history when it became the first spacecraft to touch down on the far side of the moon. Now, according to a study published in Nature, the lander’s rover, Yutu-2, may have detected the first signs of lunar mantle material. If the minerals it found prove to be part of the moon’s mantle, the discovery could help scientists better understand how both the moon and the Earth formed.

Chang’e-4 intentionally landed inside the moon’s Von Kármán crater, one of the largest known impact structures in the solar system. As National Geographic points out, if scientists are going to find lunar mantle material anywhere, that’s a good place to look. In exploring the carter’s basin, Yutu-2 reportedly found two minerals: low-calcium (ortho)pyroxene and olivine. Those align with predictions of what the moon’s upper mantle might contain.

Scientists suspect that the moon’s crust and mantle layers are distinct from each other, thanks to an ancient magma ocean that cooled and solidified. But what we know about the moon’s composition is largely based on surface samples brought back by the Apollo missions, which were on the near side of the moon.

To date, no one has collected mantle samples. But some scientists warn that this study is inconclusive. Yutu-2’s spectrometer could actually be seeing volcanic glass or solidified melt from the impact that first created the Von Kármán crater. Yutu-2 will continue to study these materials, in hopes of understanding their geological context and origin, as well as determining the potential to bring samples back to Earth. However the samples are interpreted, scientists agree that discovering these far-side minerals is a pioneering feat.

Via: National Geographic

Source: Nature

from Engadget

Teen hacked Apple hoping the company would offer him a job


If you were a teen hoping to land a job at a tech giant, how would you go about it? Plan your education and hope you eventually land an internship? An Australian had another, less conventional method.

The teen hacked Apple and pleaded guilty while admitting that he hoped this would land him a job at the iPhone maker. He’d heard that Apple hired a European who’d done the same thing, and had assumed that a job was waiting for him the moment he was discovered. Clearly, law enforcement had other ideas.

Thankfully, this doesn’t appear to be the early end to his career. Like his partner in the hacks, the teen won’t face a conviction — instead, he’s on a $500 AUD (about $346 US) good behavior bond for nine months. He was 13 when he started the hacks, and the magistrate in the case believed testimony that the teen had been using his technological powers for good since then. He hoped to study digital security and criminology at university, and wasn’t relishing the thought of a hacking conviction staining his record.

As for Apple? A spokesperson didn’t comment on the case itself in a statement to Australia’s ABC. Instead, it stressed that its staff "vigilantly protect" company networks, and "contained" the hacks before reporting them to police. No one’s personal data was exposed, Apple said. Despite the follies of youth, the teen may just have to do well in school, land the right jobs and make a few connections — like anyone else.

Via: Gizmodo

Source: ABC News

from Engadget

These Milky Way and star trail photos were taken handheld with a smartphone


These Milky Way and star trail photos were taken handheld with a smartphone

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Huawei P30 Pro seems like an impressive phone when it comes to its camera specs. Singapore-based photographer Justin Ng put it to a test and took some awesome photos with Huawei’s latest flagship phone. He shot handheld in the middle of the night and managed to capture the Milky Way and star trails using nothing but his smartphone camera.

Justin admits that he was skeptical at first, despite reading positive reviews of the phone. He took a three hour’s drive to a resort in Mersing, Malaysia and took the first snapshot two and a half hours after midnight. It was a quick test photo of his resort – and the Milky Way was visible in it.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect it to be so easy,” Justin writes. “All I did was to point and shoot HANDHELD in Photo mode (Master AI enabled automatically) and let P30 Pro performed its magic.” The photo above is completely unedited, straight out of camera, and here are a few more attempts, handheld and unedited:

After taking photos of the Milky Way, Justin decided to try shooting star trails using the Photo mode. Here’s what he got:

Later, Justin also tried shooting the Milky Way in Night mode, but he explains that the image quality wasn’t as good as with photos taken in Photo mode.

Of course, smartphone photos in such conditions can’t be as good as photos taken with a DSLR or mirrorless camera. Even Justin notes that would still prefer using a DSLR for a serious shoot. However, these results are rather impressive for photos taken handheld with a smartphone. And as Justin puts it, “the best camera is the one you have with you.”

Justin took some more handheld photos of the Milky Way using the same phone. What’s also stunning about them is that they were taken in heavily light polluted Singapore.

If you’d like to see more of Justin’s work and blog posts, head over to his website and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

from -Hacking Photography, One Picture At A Time