Direct Donations Now Available via Peer-to-Peer Micropayment Service Flattr

first_imgThe social micropayment startup Flattr has rolled out a change to its service today. As we first reported last month, users of the site can now donate specific amounts of money to Flattr users.Flattr lets users “Like” websites and content, but that action is backed with real money. Before this new donation feature was added, the money in your Flattr account was split evenly each month among all the sites you’ve “flattred.” And while you can still use the service that way, you’ll also be able to donate a specific amount – a minimum of €2, up to €50. “We think this will take the system to a whole other level beyond just tips,” says Flattr’s Eileen Burbidge. On every user-profile page, you will now find a “Donate” button. Click it and you can give some of your available means away. This donation can be made anonymously. As we suggested last month, Flattr’s new feature will likely benefit WikiLeaks, as Flattr remains one of the only ways to make a donation to the site now that PayPal, Visa and MasterCard have closed those paths to funding. Beyond the support for WikiLeaks, Flattr has developed a small but thriving network of users: since opening its beta, it has gained 46,056 registered users and has passed more than €114,057 through its peer-to-peer payment system.If you’re still looking for more ways and more things to Flattr, a developer has taken Flattr’s API and built Flattr4Android, a tool that will let users scan a QR code off-line. This code is tied to a Flattr account, making it easy for you to submit and flattr content via your mobile phone.With these changes, Flattr address two things poised to be big trends this year: the growth of mobile money and expansion of peer-to-peer networks. Related Posts Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostingcenter_img Tags:#NYT#p2p#web A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… audrey watterslast_img read more

ZeroHouse: A Modular Take on NZE Performance

first_imgEven though some folks have questioned the market viability of green prefab construction, its design aspects still have legs, especially if we’re talking about the net-zero-energy design concept being developed by Specht Harpman, an architecture firm with offices in New York City and Austin, Texas.Specht Harpman’s ZeroHouse quite literally sports four stainless steel anchors where the foundation sill would be on a conventional home. The anchors are intended to eliminate the need for excavation, help reduce the intrusiveness of the house on the land, and more easily accommodate challenging topography, including shallow water.Renderings of the project have prompted some observers to compare ZeroHouse to a lunar landing module or a space traveler’s way station. As currently designed, the structure is in fact quite small – about 650 square feet of interior space, with two outdoor decks providing another 250 square feet. But its energy and water-supply systems are expected perform to green extremes – completely off the grid and unattached to a municipal water supply or public waste-disposal system.ZeroHouse also is designed to be shipped easily and assembled quickly, features that, when combined with its self-sufficiency, making it suitable for use in remote areas.Ready to buildThe firm’s principals, Scott Specht and Louise Harpman, told the Austin American-Statesman that the firm is now pitching its design to prospective investors in eco-friendly Austin who would be willing to risk $300,000 to $350,000 to construct a prototype and live in it.“The off-grid model has the most challenges, so that’s the test case we designed for,” explained Specht, who said he developed and refined plans for ZeroHouse in his spare time over a 10-year period. “We think that the value is in the complete self-sufficiency, the absolutely minimal environmental and site impact, and the fact that this would be a model for what can be done — a ‘first adapter’ demonstration of the ultimate in green living.”ZeroHouses produced as a line of factory-built homes, Specht added, would cost significantly less than the prototype.The marketability questionSolar panels provide electricity. Rainwater is collected in four 550-gallon cisterns, which are serviced by a special collection system and a filtration system that makes the water suitable for drinking. The house also is equipped with an automated composting system, triple-glazed windows, and high-efficiency air-conditioning and heat exchange systems.In the American-Statesman story, the co-founder and president of energy efficiency specialist Davis Energy Group, David Springer, noted that ZeroHouse “is a bit futuristic and might be difficult to market.” But Springer, like others asked to comment on the project, praised its far-reaching, self-sustaining efficiency and prefab strategy.Whether the ultramodern appearance of the house is marketable remains to be seen (Specht and Harpman note that the futuristic look was deliberate), but many people in the building industry say the project is exemplary.Said Michael Webber, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at University of Texas and co-director of the Clean Energy Incubator at UT: “When we get society’s best designers tackling society’s biggest problems, that’s a good sign, and it’s cause for celebration.”last_img read more

Why Do We Measure Air Conditioner Capacity in Tons?

first_imgA few years ago, a HERS rater student in a class I taught told a funny story. He was an HVAC contractor and said he was installing a new air conditioner for an elderly woman. As he was explaining things to her, he mentioned that they would be installing a 4-ton unit. “Oh, my,” she said. “How are you going to get something so big into my back yard?”The confusion here is completely natural. HVAC and home energy pros find this story funny because when you say an air conditioner is 4 tons, we know we’re not talking about the weight of the equipment. It’s a number that tells how much heat the air conditioner can remove from the house in an hour. (Fro now, let’s ignore the issues of nominal vs. actual capacity and AHRI derating.) A 4-ton air conditioner is one that can remove 48,000 BTUs of heat per hour from the house. (A BTU is a British Thermal Unit, approximately the amount of heat you get from burning one kitchen match all the way down.) For most people, though, 4 tons means 8,000 pounds. For the fearless: If you want to read some funny HVAC banter on this topic, check out this thread in the HVAC-Talk forum. And if you figure out what “heat of zaporization” is, let me know! It’s cold enough to start harvesting, so get out your ice sawMost pros also know how such a common term as “ton” has turned into a bit of HVAC jargon. Before Willis Carrier invented the modern air conditioner, people used to cool buildings in the summertime with ice harvested from rivers and lakes in the wintertime. A Green Homes America article quotes ice production figures from a 19th-century journal, Ice and Refrigeration, indicating that the 1890 crop from the Hudson River was about 4 million tons.OK, so people used to cool and refrigerate with ice. How does that equate to air conditioning capacity in BTUs per hour, you ask? Well, let’s get quantitative and find out. We’ve been talking about “tons of cooling” for a centuryIf you’re wondering how this term got institutionalized, it was probably the usual way. People in the industry start using it, and then the professional organizations make it official.An architecture website has a quote from 1912 that claims the American Society of Mechanical Engineers standardized it. It sounds likely, but their numbers don’t work out, so I’m gonna go with Honest Abe (see image below) on this one and remain skeptical (until someone in the comments shows me what’s wrong with my thinking anyway). RELATED ARTICLES The Magic of ColdAir Conditioner BasicsGBA Encyclopedia: Air ConditioningCalculating Cooling LoadsWindow-Mounted Air Conditioners Save Energy Allison Bailes of Decatur, Georgia, is a speaker, writer, energy consultant, RESNET-certified trainer, and the author of the Energy Vanguard Blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @EnergyVanguard. The latent heat of fusionWhen ice is below freezing and it absorbs heat, its temperature increases. When ice is at its melting point, 32°F, and it absorbs heat, its temperature doesn’t change. Instead, it melts. If you’ve had a physics or chemistry class, you may recall that the amount of heat needed to melt ice is called the latent heat of fusion. In Imperial units, that number is 143 BTUs per pound.That’s actually a lot of heat to pump into a pound frozen water. Once the ice is melted into liquid water, it takes only 1 BTU per pound to raise the temperature 1 degree. So if you’ve got a pound of ice at 32°F, you put 143 BTUs into it to melt it completely. Then it takes only 180 more BTUs to raise the temperature of that pound of water from 32°F to 212°F, the boiling point.Anyway, getting back to our main discussion: if you have a ton of ice, it takes (143 BTU/lb) x (2000 lbs) = 286,000 BTUs to melt it completely. You could do that in one hour or 10 hours or a year, depending on how quickly you pump heat into it. Somewhere along the line, though, someone decided to use 1 day — 24 hours — as the standard time reference here. If the ice melts uniformly over the 24 hours, it absorbs heat at the rate of 286,000 / 24 hrs = 11,917 BTU/hr.Rounding that number up makes it a nice, round 12,000 BTU/hr. In air conditioning jargon, then, a ton of AC capacity is equal to 12,000 BTU/hr. There it is.last_img read more

Using Interior Poly As an Air Barrier

first_img Start Free Trial Already a member? Log in This article is only available to GBA Prime Members Back in the 1980s, Canadian energy experts urged builders to use interior polyethylene as an air barrier material. If the poly was installed conscientiously, and all seams were sealed with Tremco acoustical sealant, the approach worked well — at least in cold climates.When the same techniques were later adopted by American builders in places like Ohio and North Carolina, builders learned an important lesson: “Climate matters.” In hot climates or mixed climates where air conditioning is common, interior poly can become a condensing surface for exterior moisture during the summer. In many cases, the result was mold and rot.These days, interior polyethylene is not recommended in most U.S. climates, especially in any home that may be air conditioned during the summer.But what if you are building in Alaska or northern Canada? Well, in those climates, interior polyethylene still makes sense. That’s why the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) in Fairbanks, Alaska, recommends that Alaskan builders use interior polyethylene as an air barrier.The CCHRC has produced an excellent video on this topic. In the video, Ilya Benesch, a building educator at the CCHRC, explains how to do a good job of air sealing with interior poly. If you are building in northern Canada or Alaska, the techniques shown in this video (below) are worth emulating.For more excellent advice on building techniques for very cold climates, visit the CCHRC website.[Author’s postscript: in July 2012, when I was vacationing with my family in Alaska, we all showed up unannounced at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks, where we were warmly greeted by Jack Hébert and Ilya Benesch. Not only did Jack and Ilya give us a tour of the CCHCR facilities, they let us use the building’s showers — a generous gesture in… center_img Sign up for a free trial and get instant access to this article as well as GBA’s complete library of premium articles and construction details.last_img read more

What The New Kindle Means To Amazon

first_imgMassive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… On Thursday, Amazon announced another family of branded shopping carts in which consumers can pile a wealth of digital goods. Sure, they may look like a Kindle e-reader, or the new Kindle Fire tablets – but make no mistake about the goals Amazon has for the new devices.Company executives pitched the new Kindles as the perfect devices on which to consume e-books and magazines, and the Fire as a showcase for movies, music, the Web and Android apps. So forget the hardware, their purpose is clear – to provide a dedicated sales channel for Amazon’s digital storefront. (To get up close and personal with Amazon’s new devices,  see A Close-Up Look At Amazon’s New Kindles.)Michael Gartenberg, an analyst for Gartner, summed up in a tweet what he told ReadWriteWeb earlier in the week: “Amazon’s proposition: sell devices that connect to an end-to-end set of services.”In fact, that’s exactly what Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos dubbed the Fire at its launch event in Santa Monica, Calif. People don’t want gadgets any more; they want services, and the Kindle Fire is a service, Bezos said. It even greets you by name.Hardware Features Are In Fact ServicesThe range of Kindle hardware Amazon launched Thursday wasn’t spectacular; a new “Paperwhite,” high-contrast Kindle tablet for $119, plus a $179 3G option. Amazon also upgraded the Kindle Fire tablet and added an interesting new HD model that starts at just $299 with an 8.9-inch screen.But the real innovations were in features and pricing: X-Ray, a tool to connect customers to the movies they want to see, via the IMDB database that Amazon acquired, and a new in-game advertising service that can deliver physical as well as virtual items to the customer, using Amazon’s one-click method. And there’s no contract or annual fee to use the inexpensive but limited wireless broadband services attached to the Kindle. The 250MB per month limit is plenty for downloading books from Amazon, but nowhere near enough for worry-free Web browsing or streaming music or video. Amazon wants you to be able to buy for free, fast and on the go – but that’s about it. Virtually every feature was designed to facilitate shopping at Amazon’s store.“The Kindle and particularly the Kindle Fire have served as hardware devices designed to showcase Amazon’s digital ecosystem and services,” Gartenberg told ReadWriteWeb. “In a world driven by ecosystems more and platforms less, that’s an important set of devices for them to have on the market.”“This wasn’t an announcement from Amazon, it was more like a declaration of war,” Gartenberg added via Twitter.Amazon did not announce a smartphone, as some had expected.What Kindle Means To AmazonAmazon’s goal is to lure new shoppers, and once inside, keep them. It’s a walled-garden approach that has been tried by companies ranging from Apple all the way back to the early days of AOL’s dial-up service.But it’s been unusually effective for the company: In the U.S. alone, 86% of consumers who said that they’ve ever bought something on a Web marketplace also said that they have shopped with Amazon at some point, Forrester Research found. The percentage of Amazon’s e-commerce revenues as a total of the total amount spent online by U.S. shoppers has increased from 9% in 2001 to 19% in 2011.As Bezos explained at the announcement, “We want to make money when our customers use our devices, not when they buy our devices.”Apple has also been successful with the walled-garden approach, with its curated iOS Apps Store and its music and movie sales via iTunes. Avi Greengart, an analyst with Current Analysis, noted that Apple’s strengths are in apps, its user interface and its momentum. Amazon just provides cheaper content.Kindle Moves Beyond The Experimental Stage“My hunch is that it started as an experiment,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail analyst with Forrester, of the Kindle family. “There have been other readers before, and it probably started at some level as a way to reduce their friction online. Since then, it has morphed into something else, because of all the fights with publishers.”When Amazon began selling digital versions of books, it originally underpriced them as a way to gain market share. The publishers themselves were outraged, but they were also handicapped; Amazon was also one of their largest customers, after all.And the role of the e-book has only continued to increase; according to a July report by BookStats (co-produced by the Association of American Publishers) revenue from ebooks more than doubled from 2010 to 2011. More significantly, e-books are now the dominant format in terms of net revenue – surpassing print – for the category of adult fiction, the first time that has ever occurred.“I don’t think Amazon expected that to happen – they had never seen something like that happen before, in the print space,” Mulpuru said of the outrage that met its e-book pricing decision. “I think that the company then went back, because they’re incredibly arrogant, and said, ‘We can win! How can we win by making this a complete vertical play, and getting into publishing ourselves?’”Amazon then hired Laurence J. Kirshbaum, who formerly ran the Time Warner Book Group, to head its own digital imprint.But at its heart, Amazon’s business is e-commerce – not just books, but also electronics, garden tools, food, even medical supplies and construction equipment. “Everything has to support that business in some way,” Mulpuru said.“The Biggest Threat To Retailers Since Wal-Mart”What that means is that Amazon is willing to make the Kindle and the Kindle Fire a loss leader to lure shoppers inside its virtual store.That strategy hasn’t escaped the notice of giant retailers like Target, which has booted the Kindle from its own store shelves. Mulpuru suspects Amazon may launch kiosks or small physical stores in airports and other hubs, precisely to convince flyers to pick up a Kindle and download a book before their flight.“I think [Amazon] is the biggest threat to retail since Wal-mart, and it’s one of the most disruptive forces in every industry that it touches, from consumer electronics to fulfillment and logistics, to commerce and retail,” Mulpuru said.“It’s baffling,” Mulpuru added. “It almost begs the question, if  [Amazon has] all these profitable businesses, at some point why don’t they just get rid of [their] physical retail business and just have all these profitable businesses? But I think this is just where the megalomania, the crazy vision of Jeff Bezos comes in. I think this is his libertarian values, his crazy attitude; he just wants to stick it to everybody. He just wants to shake it up in a completely radical way, and prove that it can be done.” IT + Project Management: A Love Affair Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of… markhachmancenter_img Tags:#Amazon#enterprise 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Related Posts last_img read more

Oracle Buys Eloqua: Can It Digest Another Cloud-Based App Vendor?

first_imgCognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of… IT + Project Management: A Love Affair 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now antone gonsalves Related Posts center_img Now that Oracle plans to gobble up yet another company for its growing portfolio of cloud-based software, the question is whether the company can chew everything it puts in its mouth.The business applications maker said Thursday that it would buy Eloqua for $871 million. Eloqua’s apps measure the effectiveness of marketing and sales projects. Oracle plans to make the company’s software the centerpiece of its “Marketing Cloud” product line.The acquisition will fill out the cloud-based services offering Oracle hopes will grab business from rival Salesforce.com. Earlier this year, Oracle closed a $1.9 billion deal for Taleo, a maker of online human-resource management software, and a $1.5 billion purchase of RightNow Technologies, which makes software for managing customer service.Oracle’s ChallengeOracle suddenly has a lot of cloud software to make work well together if it wants to give customers a reason to lease multiple applications. The task won’t be easy, given that the multi-vendor software was never designed “to fit together like Legos,” said Andrew Frank, analyst for Gartner, said.Taleo is a customer of Eloqua, so that portion of the integration challenge may be easier. But the extent of Oracle’s success will be determined when its services go up against products from Salesforce.com, IBM and SAP. “Whether it fits together well is a question for the market to determine,” Frank said.On paper, the acquisition gives Oracle an apples-to-apples comparison with Salesforce.com, which provides integrated marketing, sales and service management applications. Oracle needs the same all-in-one portfolio, because its rival “continues to have a strong win rate against Oracle in CRM (customer relationship management),” said Richard Sherlund, a managing director of equity research for investment bank Nomura, in The Wall Street Journal.Oracle is certainly willing to pay for what it wants. The company offered Eloqua shareholders a 31% premium over the Wednesday closing price. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2013.Based in Vienna, Va., Eloqua was founded in 2000 and went public in August. Customers include Sony, Johnson & Johnson, VMware and Siemens.Cloud-Based Marketing Apps Are HotMarketing applications are favorites of vendors building out cloud-based services, because the data-intensive software is a good fit for cloud deployments, Frank said. Data centers that run cloud services are built to handle lots of data and to provide the computational power needed to analyze that data.In addition, marketing software needs to be integrated with other cloud services, such as social media. An added value is the fact that the applications are accessible to the mobile devices now expanding in the enterprise.As a result, researchers like Gartner see an increase in spending on cloud-based marketing services, and Oracle doesn’t plan to be left behind in the race to grab those dollars.Image courtesy of Shutterstock. Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… Tags:#cloud computing#Cloud Providers#Oracle last_img read more

Office Apps Are Coming, Microsoft Says, Just Be Patient

first_imgIT + Project Management: A Love Affair Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of… 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Related Posts markhachmancenter_img Microsoft’s Office Store still feels more like Goodwill than a Target – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, according to Microsoft. If you think there are too few apps in the Office App Store, a Microsoft executive begs to differ. And as Microsoft moves closer to Office 2013’s business launch on Feb. 27, the company expects more apps to be added both by the company itself as well as third-party developers.Following the consumer launch of Office 2013 in January, the App Store’s cupboard might have been considered somewhat bare. In total, there are about 200 apps within the Office Store, according to Richard Riley, a director at Microsoft, whose responsibilities include both SharePoint as well as the Office App Store.Riley won’t commit to a number of apps that would be added to the Office App Store, but he promises that there will be “much more than the 200” that are there now. “In terms of momentum and as we go through, I think in the next six months or so we’ll see that momentum pick up and carry forward,” Riley says. “I don’t feel bad where we are. I really don’t.”(See also Microsoft: Buy Office 365, Not Office 2012. Or You’ll Get Left Behind)Last July, Microsoft outlined the development model for Office 2013, the current version of Office  – a subscription version, known as Office 365, is also available. Both Office 2013 and Office 365 replaced the familiar Microsoft Basic for Applications with a Web-based language model that essentially takes an XML file and combines it with a Web app, using familiar Web languages like CSS, HTM, and JavaScript. Since the app runs outside of Office, if it breaks, only it crashes – not Office.While the reliance on Web languages might have made a bit difficult for traditional Office developers, the approach theoretically opened up Office to a vast number of Web developers who may have never developed for Office before.Microsoft’s Attempts To Jumpstart Office App Development“Historically, if you wanted to build something for Office, like if you wanted to build an an add-in for Word, you would have to have all of the Visual Studio add-ins for that have to understand C++, have to understand .NET wrapper code – there was a learning curve there,” Riley says. “Like most developers these days, if it was different; you had to go spend time and figure out how to use it. That barrier no longer exists. If you understand how to write for the cloud app model, if you understand how to write Javascript and HTML, you understand REST, you can pretty much get started immediately without having to go wade through a big reference book and how to get going.” Riley says Microsoft has been bringing existing Office developers, as well as developers new to the platform, into “jumpstart events,” where the company puts dives deep into the technology. Afterward, the developers go away, develop, and then return for an “acceleration day,” where those developers receive assistance to push those apps into the store.“We can now credibly talk to a ton of new developers that historically would have ignored us,” Riley says. “And actually go to them with a very credible technology story, but also a really significant market opportunity… when you look at all of the Office and SharePoint licenses in existence today, there is an opportunity for a developer to make a difference, to make a ton of money off of the back of the Office or Sharepoint store.”Riley said that he considers Microsoft to essentially be in the middle of the Office launch, where the consumer edition was released first and then businesses will be encouraged to sign on at the end of the month. “We haven’t finished launching from an app perspective,” he says.It might be reasonable to think that Microsoft would have launched the App Store with a number of launch partners, big-name software developers whose products would instantly have added cachet to Microsoft’s rollout. Riley doesn’t agree. No-Name Apps Are OK“I think it depends on how you look at it,” Riley explains. “You don’t need big names to add value to a product. Would no-name graphics capability that you could get for free from the App Store, to make your Excel spreadsheet sing, and get a pat on the back from your boss, be more useful than a big-brand-name thing that wouldn’t get you the same result? So we have the quality here, and in my experience, we don’t need a laundry list of famous icons.”Fair enough. Unfortunately, when asked to highlight some of the “no-name” apps that could make Office “sing,” Riley turns back toward the Bing apps that Microsoft had launched previously. The hope of Microsoft’s Office 2013 model is that it can combine live data sources from the Web into Office documents, such as combining sales data from a customer relationship management database with the Bing maps web service to create a more effective sales report. Riley promises that here will be a growing number of apps within Excel that help users visualize data. And there are hopeful signs: the Microsoft Oscar plugin for Excel, an Olympics medal tracker, an ESPN fantasy-football app. Riley also makes the point that corporations will write and publish their own internal apps that general Office users will never see.Still, Microsoft needs more. When asked, for example, if there is any app that could take advantage of the datasets hosted by the U.S. government on data.gov, Riley replies that isn’t aware of any. He then adds he would make a note to see what would be needed to make those sources available.Of course, there’s a larger question: For all of its reach, is Microsoft’s Office simply too small a platform for those developers used to the huge installed base of iOS, Android and all of the other Web platforms? For a small app developer like Gliffy, no. Others may not see it that way, though. Opening Office to the Web allows more developers to enter Office. Only time will tell if they see it as a lucratie marketplace, or as a closet. Tags:#apps#Excel#Microsoft#Microsoft Office Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo…last_img read more

Chromebook Pixel: Why It Hurts To Slam Beautiful, Unnecessary Hardware

first_imgRelated Posts The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech …center_img markhachman Tags:#Apple#Chromebook#design#Google#Macbook Pro#Retina display “How many people does it take to change a light bulb?” goes a version of the old joke, best told in a thick German accent, like Klaus Myers. “None, if properly engineered,” is the punchline. That joke speaks to us geeks who look beyond the “it just works” mentality, into something that approaches a harmony of function and purpose. And it’s why I simply hate criticizing products that aspire to a higher form, just because something simpler, cheaper and more straightforward will do just as well.Like the Chromebook Pixel.Quite honestly, I feel guilty about panning the Pixel. As Dan Lyons notes, Google designers have quietly taken their efforts to another level. But, as virtually everyone who attended Google’s Pixel press conference noted, the Pixel simply prices itself out of the game. For now, very little within Google’s cloud – whether it be its 100,000 Stars app or the upcoming Photos enhancement – justifies the 2,560 x 1,700 multi-touch display, not to mention the $1,300 price tag. Google’s Chromebook has established a niche as a wonderful companion PC or netbook: as long as you want to work on the Web, a $250 Chromebook fills the bill. So what the heck does anyone need Pixel for?Still, there’s so much in the Pixel that feels like an homage to notebooks I’ve loved before. On the outside, the Pixel is the aristocratic, well-bred child of a MacBook Air and the Lenovo ThinkPad: a solid, lightweight, rectangular slab of aluminum. A thin light bar on top glows blue when powered on, then cheekily flashes the Google rainbow as the lid closes. Google eliminated the icons on top of the I/O ports, correctly reasoning that most users would identify them by sight. No, there’s no magnetic connector holding the power cord in, but a large LED glows yellow, then green, when the Pixel is fully charged. Vents push air to the side, somehow, presumably through the ports. The “piano hinge” attaching the display to the frame slowly glides shut. There’s even a third microphone buried beneath the keyboard to eliminate typing noises during Hangouts.And, of course, there’s that jaw-dropping display. Don’t be afraid about the Web moving to a touch model; I tried out Internet Explorer’s showcase touch-enabled Web app, Contre Jour, and it runs just fine.Google Is Not AloneThe Chromebook Pixel doesn’t stand alone as an example of marvelously over-engineered hardware. Say what you want about Google’s Nexus Q – as the odd hybrid of an audio amplifier and media player, the fact that it only played back YouTube and Google Play videos eventually doomed it. But from a hardware standpoint, the odd little sphere with the LED strip around its equator and an amplifier inside was a revolution, just one that failed.I feel the same about the Lytro post-focusing camera, which many heralded as the evolution of consumer photography: terrific technology, but one that the world never needed. It didn’t help that the first iteration of the product looked like a spyglass, contained a woefully inadequate LCD viewfinder, and required the photos to be stored on the company website for best effect. Lytro has its fans, but the company’s status as the next “it” thing has long vanished.Everyone has their favorite examples of well-designed, yet ultimately irrelevant technology; the $1,699 Hitachi IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC, for example, which doubles as a high-definition Monopoly table. The Microsoft Surface, possibly, a marvelous piece of hardware that still prices itself out of some tablet conversations. Some lumped Apple’s “retina display” MacBook Pros into this category when if first came out, although over time the MacBook has developed a wealth of graphics apps supporting it that could help justify the high-resolution display.(See also Apple’s Brilliant Boondoggle: MacBook Pro Retina Display.)When Technology Trumps ProductI don’t review products for a living, but anyone who does do must constantly wrestle with a dilemma: How do you inform readers that a particular product may not be ready for prime time, but whose underlying technology is so innovative that it deserves commendation and even preservation? Two years ago, I wrote this piece about the Lytro, partly as a reaction to a generation of young bloggers who too-often seemed to naively accept the promise of any new technology.These days, the tech press seems to revel in asking the tough questions. If anything, the press pendulum has swung back toward cynicism.At the same time, though, crowdsourcing sites like KickStarter have become unabashed celebrations of entrepreneurship, bypassing the press to connect products directly with fans and backers.That’s a big difference: By exposing their plans and pricing, young start ups can work hand-in-hand with prospective customers. The risk of secrecy, as larger corporations sometimes discover, is that you can lose touch with the very customers you’re trying to court. And end up with a powerful, beautiful but over-priced, over-engineered product that isn’t well suited to meeting the needs of actual customers. It just hurts, sometimes, to have to be the one to break it to the folks who worked so hard to create something really cool that doesn’t have a clear place in the world.last_img read more

Alan Turing 101: A Lesson On The Father Of Computer Science

first_imgTags:#Alan Turing#Computer Science#PopSugar Tech#science 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Learn about Alan’s life and work with this multimedia introduction to the father of modern computing.Early BeginningsOn June 23, 1912, Ethel Sara Stoney, daughter of the chief engineer at Madras Railways, gave birth to Alan Turing in Paddington, London. Alan showed signs of genius at a very young age. At 15 years old, he condensed The Theory of Relativity by Albert Einstein for his mother.Computer Science Is BornThree of Alan Turing’s greatest contributions involve computer science, computational science, and the cracking of German Enigma Codes during World War II. My Favourite Scientist breaks down which of Alan’s developments deeply affected these fields of science. The Turing Test, for example, indicated whether or not a machine is intelligent if a human could not distinguish if the electronic communication came from a person or a computer, laying the groundwork for artificial intelligence.The Pilot AceThe Science Museum in London put together an exhibit called “Codebreaker” commemorating the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing’s birth. The Pilot Ace is another invention of Alan’s, and it was this computer that solved the mystery behind a 1954 plane wreckage, salvaged from the ocean, in which millions of measurements from the plane needed to be computed.Victim of PrejudiceAs an openly gay man, Alan Turing was charged with gross indecency and forced to choose between “chemical castration” pills or life in prison. He chose the pills, and later became very depressed. In 1954, Turing took his own life at age 41 by lacing an apple with cyanide.Alan Turing’s LegacyIn this Introduction to Computer Science lecture, MIT professor Eric Grimson outlines the history of computing starting with Alan Turing (at around 23 minutes). Professor Grimson explains how computational machines like the ones Turing developed evolved into the “stored program computers” that were the earliest form of the computers we use today.Images courtesy of Getty ImagesMore stories from PopSugar Tech:5 of the Most Challenged Graphic Novel HitsTwitter and Facebook Censorship Around the WorldCheck In to Los Pollos Hermanos and Other Breaking Bad JointsToyota’s Corolla LE Eco Is Fuel-Conscious (and Full of Surprises)What We’re Loving About iOS 7 Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Editor’s note: This post was originally published by our partners at PopSugar Tech.The Imitation Game, due for a 2014 release, is a new film starring Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, the English genius of math, cryptology, and logic. The movie combines computer science and Mr. Cumberbatch — two of our favorite things — and we can’t wait until it hits theaters next year.But before our beloved Benedict takes to the big screen once again, get to know the man he’s playing: Alan Turing, a fascinating character who established many of the founding principles of computer science. Related Posts Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting nicole nguyenlast_img read more

I’m Buying a Home, What Do I Look For?

first_imgBy Robin Landsman, Wake County Extension AgentThis is the third installment in Robin Landsman’s three-part series about homeownership. This post will cover successful strategies for purchasing a home that will meet a family’s needs.“I’m buying a home; what should I look for?” This is a question many PFMs have probably heard over the years. Determining housing needs and wants according to affordability before shopping, can help homebuyers avoid the disappointment of looking at houses they can’t afford or don’t need. The homebuyer’s lifestyle, and any special circumstances, should factor into the selection. As the homebuyer begins this process, he or she may find the assistance of a realtor to be very valuable. The help of a good agent will save time, allowing the homebuyer to take notes and ask questions while sorting through the hundreds of homes currently on the market. Here are some tips to share with potential homebuyers.First, determine what you can afford. Lenders determine mortgage qualification by assessing one’s credit report. If you know that you have had some late payments and a history of high consumer debt, it is best to postpone looking for a mortgage until you have a satisfactory credit record.A home is more than the bricks and mortar that make up the square footage and rooms. There are several concerns that must be taken into consideration before you select your future home: price, location, size, and amenities. Taking time to proactively examine whatyou want in a home will save you lots of effort when it is time to actually see potential homes. (See first post in this series here).Your price range depends on the amount of down payment you have saved and mortgage amount that the lender is willing to loan. Remember, just because the lender approves you for a loan amount, doesn’t mean you can afford the mortgage. There are lots of considerations, including other financial obligations that could impact your housing budget. (See the previous post in this series here).Location is crucial in your decision to purchase a home. Schools, shopping, services and commuting distance are all fundamental elements that will require your consideration and prioritization.The size of your family and what home features and benefits you seek are the criteria that you will need to use to determine your wish list for today as well as anticipated changes in the future. The needs of a married couple with no children will be different from a bachelor looking to enjoy the single life, or the single mom with three teenagers. A son caring for his disabled father may need to think about spacing for wheelchair access, the ability to add a ramp to the front entrance, or having a bedroom on the first level. In thinking about your needs, you will need to make allowances for any special circumstances that may exist.Many experts recommend making a list of what you and your family must have, would like to have, as well as what you don’t want and prefer not to have. It is important to find a home that fits with your particular lifestyle. The responsibility of yard maintenance may not work well for the businessman who spends 50 percent of his time traveling. The convenience of a townhouse or condo with a small patch of green grass at the entrance may work better. If you are environmentally conscious, finding a home with energy efficient features and appliances is a must. Or as a parent who enjoys spending time outdoors with your children, a home in a neighborhood with a playground, walking trails or a community pool would be very desirable.Your list of “wants” in your new home can be endless. It will help to do a bit of research so you can identify some of the amenities that you prefer. For example, you may prefer hardwood floors versus carpeting or vinyl siding versus brick. Note that certain features may be standard in certain price ranges of homes. Some of your desired amenities can be added, such as new appliances and cosmetic upgrades after you purchase the house; whereas location and lot size are fixed assets. Thinking about all the dimensions to a home will provide greater understanding of the purchase. Again, a realtor can be quite valuable in providing you with this information.As you create the profile of the place you will eventually call home, remember, you are about to make a big investment in your future and that of your family. Take time to think about those things that are important to you and that add to the quality of your life. To ensure your overall satisfaction of your home purchase, look for homes that address your needs, accommodate your wants and complement your life style within a comfortable price.Resources: Homebuyer ResourcesNorth Carolina housing finance agency I’m Buying a Home, What Do I Look For? by Robin Landsman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.last_img read more

Inspiration! 16 Impactful Slow Motion Video Projects

first_imgWe’ve rounded up some of the best slow-motion projects for your video and design inspiration!With the development of recent software and camera technologies, slow motion video is looking better than ever!  Some of the projects below were shot slow motion with high frame rates cameras like the Phantom Flex.  Other  projects were slowed down in post with software tools inside video editing or third party applications, such as industry favorite Twixtor.In the following videos, a slow motion perspective takes ordinary subject matter and makes it extraordinary.  Have a look!Breakfast InterruptedNuit BlancheLondon Bus TourStunt PoetryThe Beauty of MudSlow it DownTokyo Slo MoExperience FreedomSlow Down BarcelonaIRC Dance MovementThe Marmalade IdentityColourforniaDogs in Slow MotionFaces Blasted with AirDrink WaterSlow Motion Puncheslast_img read more

Microsoft Used a Robot and an Xbox Controller to Shoot a Commercial

first_imgSee how Microsoft utilized Motorized Precision’s KIRA robotic camera arm to capture the Surface Studio launch video.Top image via Microsoft/Motorized PrecisionMicrosoft stole the show from Apple last week when the company released this stunning video for their futuristic Surface Studio.We previously talked all about the specs and the amazing tools developed for the Surface Studio, including the Surface Dial that will give you Tony-Stark-like control over apps — like using it as a color wheel in the Sketchable app.Image via MicrosoftWhat we didn’t talk about was the Microsoft Surface Studio release video itself. Outside of of the work of the motion designers, visual designers, and the CG renders — the shots of the actress using the Surface Studio were shot practically using Motorized Precision’s KIRA.KIRA is one of the latest in robotic camera arms. We first covered KIRA after its big splash at NAB 2016. The rig has a maximum height of 9 ft and can extend to 5.63 ft, weighing 570 lb — and the baseplate alone weighs in at a whopping 3400 lb. The KIRA has a maximum camera payload of 40 lbs and can move 3.2 ft in 0.5 seconds.Here’s a look at the KIRA in action.I wanted to know more about the development and production of this commercial, so I reached out to Sean Brown, the President of Motorized Precision. Here’s what I learned about the Microsoft Surface Studio spot.The Microsoft Hardware Design Team reached out to Motorized Precision to create and execute the motion control shots for the launch video. Shot at Cinerent West in Portland, Oregon, the KIRA was equipped with a RED EPIC DRAGON and Canon 15.5-47 mm lens. Image via Microsoft / Motorized PrecisionThere have been some updates to KIRA since NAB, including updates to the MP Studio app — which coincidentally runs on Windows machines. The KIRA also added new camera mounts and is currently testing a new modular track system set to launch next year.Image via Microsoft / Motorized PrecisionAs far as the Windows Surface Studio shoot goes, KIRA was chosen for its ability to repeat moves. Some shots required precise movements, like the multi-pass from the front of the Surface Studio to the back of the machine. The Microsoft Surface team had a series of pre-viz shots created in Cinema4D and Maya — which helped guide and program the KIRA’s motion control movements.After looking at a pre-viz shot, we would take about 5-20 minutes per shot to test it out and modify it for the real-world production. Then it comes down to testing the moves with talent and seeing how creative we can get with lighting and set.Image via Microsoft / Motorized PrecisionThe KIRA is programmed through the MP Studio app and can be controlled with an Xbox One Elite controller.  Above, you can see Sean Brown on set using the controller. With it, he can jog the robot into place and set keyframes within the MP Studio timeline to save moves.When we push left on the left joystick the robot moves left and when we push left on the right joystick it pans left etc. We made it so simple and intuitive to control that we were able to focus on the creative and not worry about the technology.Also within app, Brown can control the focus, iris, and zoom — giving him total control over every shot.Image via Microsoft / Motorized PrecisionI asked about the difficulty of lighting a moving computer monitor, especially while the camera was in motion.The lighting team worked very well with both Motorized Precision and the Microsoft team to make sure we achieved the most clean and sexy look we could for this shoot. Yes, a big screen does present challenges, but we were able to solve them by having KIRA do the same move over and over and see where we might find any problem spots.Image via Microsoft / Motorized PrecisionI finally asked about Brown’s impression of the Surface Studio itself, and how he could see himself using the device.I love the Microsoft Surface Studio from a KIRA control standpoint. We developed MP Studio originally as a touch app. On the Surface Studio I was finally able to see that app come to life with Touch Control that made sense! So I was very impressed by the product.  The Dial on set was controlling some amazing color wheels inside some of the apps used in the launch video and it was very impressive to see all the different functionality they were able to get from such a simple device.Microsoft Surface Studio Launch Video Shoot Credits: ProducersJamie FishAmber GeigerDirector of PhotographyKevin Fletcher Sean Brown (KIRA Motion Control)Grip & ElectricCoach Sarge CineMicrosoft Hardware Design TeamBrittany RedigerNick BauerYoung KimJeff McCartneylast_img read more

Everything You Need to Know About Chroma Key and Green Screen Footage

first_imgIn this guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about green screen backgrounds and achieving a perfect chroma key.The use of green screens has come a long way over the past few decades. Technology that was primarily reserved for Hollywood blockbusters and local news stations is now utilized by many of your favorite YouTubers. Here, we’ll guide you through the entire process of using green screen backgrounds from start to finish. We’ll talk lighting, cinematography, keying, and common mistakes.What Is Green Screen and Chroma Keying?Image via MarvelBefore we jump into how to use a green screen, let’s learn what a green screen actually does and familiarize ourselves with a few key terms.Green Screen: Technically, this term refers to the colored background you want to make transparent and remove from your shot. This is usually a single colored backdrop, which can be any color, but is usually bright green because it is the color furthest away from human skin tones. (Blue screens were frequently used in the early days with film, and might still be used in certain cases.) Sometimes the term is used as a fit-all for the entire process of keying (see below).Chroma Key: This popular term goes hand-in-hand with green screen. It’s the actual technique of layering, or compositing two images based on color hues. Every color has a chroma range, hence where the terminology comes from.Keying: This term is used to describe the process of removing the green screen background in post-production using video editing software. When the green screen background has been keyed, it will be fully transparent. Then you can fill in that transparent area with a different image or video. The goal is to get the cleanest key possible, meaning there are no digital artifacts left on your image where the green screen was originally.Spill: This often refers to the colored light that reflects back onto your subject from the green screen. When a green screen is brightly lit, the light can actually reflect that color back onto your subject. There are a number of steps you can take to prevent spill, which we’ll discuss below.Rules of the Modern Green ScreenThe principles we use for overcoming the challenges of green screen are based on those from years ago, before we had digital compositing and video editing software. As you can imagine, the tools have changed quite a bit with modern video advancements. Here, we’ve broken down the new rules for working with green screens.1. Start with the right green (or blue)Use a non-reflective green screen material and look for colors such as “chroma key green” and “digi green.” These colors are toned to be ideal for use with green screens. Alternatively, blue screens can also be used, especially for replicating night scenes. Learn more about the green vs. blue screen debate to figure out which color is right for your shoot.2. Separate your subject from the backgroundKeep your subject at least six feet away from the green screen. This helps minimize spill and unwanted shadows appearing on the green screen background.3. RAW is KingFilm with the highest bit-rate/least compressed codec you can. 10-bit color will be superior to 8-bit. ProRes 442 and 444 are always great options and RAW is even better if you have that ability.4. Expose the background properlyLight your foreground and your backdrop separately. It is also important to light your green screen backdrop evenly. Proper lighting exposure helps to avoid excess green lighting spill.5. Eliminate motion blurFilming with a faster shutter speed reduces motion blur and helps provide a cleaner key. You can always add secondary motion blur back in during post-production.6. Let the software do the workUtilize chroma keying specific software, like the Delta Keyer in DaVinci Resolve, to get the best key quickly.How to Shoot a Green Screen SceneImage via The Walt Disney CompanyIt is crucial to plan ahead and visualize your final scene when shooting with a green screen. Concept art and storyboards can help with this process. But your main goal is to determine what is real and what is not in your scene. This means you want to know what will physically be in the scene, and what will be added in later during post-production. If your scene is particularly complex, with layers of green screen, you’ll want to establish a clear guide to everything.In certain cases, you may need real props on set that your actors can reference. In behind-the-scenes shots you will often see tennis balls hanging on the green screen set. These provide the actors with visual reference points. Lighting is another huge consideration. Think about lighting your character in order to match the lighting of the environment they will populate. This will make a drastic difference when it comes to the final chroma key composite, and layering everything together.In this section, we’ll cover all the steps and considerations for completing a green screen shoot. Here’s what we’ll dive into:PlanningLightingClean Chroma KeyStep 1: Planning Your Green Screen ShootDetermining ScaleThis is the time to calculate the scale of your final scene and the best lenses for filming your actors. If you are planning on creating a wide-angle scene, it makes sense to film your subjects at the correct scale. This process primarily relies on knowing the field of view of the lens used to film the background element, which is often referred to as a background plate. It’s essential that you shoot both the foreground and background with the same focal length lens, or at least as close as you can guesstimate if you don’t know the lens used to film the background plate.Image via Mark Vargo, Do the Math: Planning Your Green Screen ShootOne thing worth noting is that the wider the background shot is, the larger the green screen will have to be in order to completely film your actors. Luckily, Mark Vargo walks us through this process in this article, which utilizes the lens field of view to calculate the final green screen size required for any shoot. The more notes you have from the original background shot (such as lens, time of day, etc.) the easier this process will be.As a rule of thumb, wider shots that capture your actor’s entire body and action shots that require lots of movement will need a full green screen that also covers the ground, and maybe even the side of the shot. If this is the case, make sure the screen has no edges so that you can key in easily. You’ll want to use a curved screen and drops without hard edges to the floor or to side walls.Prepping Actors and ObjectsYou’ll have to prep actors and props for use on green screen. Obviously, avoid green! Actors shouldn’t wear green or they’ll end up transparent in the key. You should also avoid shiny objects, as these can reflect the green and cause transparent spots. If reflective objects must be used, you will likely have to manually mask around those objects in post-production. This can be very time consuming, so plan ahead if that is ultimately required.Step 2: Lighting a Green ScreenImage via Warner Bros.There are three non-negotiable rules to lighting a green screen:The lighting must be evenThe lighting must be soft and diffuseThe green screen must be lit separately from the subjectWhen lighting your green screen background, the goal is to get the lighting as even as possible. This helps ensure that the green coloring is even, with no hot spots or shadows, which will help with the chroma key process in post-production. You will also need to light your actors and the green screen separately, preferably with the actors and the green screen background at least six feet apart. Remember to match the lighting on your actor to the scene in which they’ll appear once the green screen is composited.In this article on green screen lighting, you’ll find the key to even lighting is the same for achieving soft light in any other shooting scenario — use big, soft light sources. Hard light sources with no diffusion will create hot spots on the green screen background. To diffuse your lights, you can use on-light diffusion boxes or set up large silk frames. If you are on a budget, try using a white bed sheet mounted on a c-stand a few feet in front of your light.The placement of your lights also matters. If you are only using two lights to illuminate your background, place one light on each side of the green screen, a few feet back on a 45 degree angle. You can fine tune/adjust the angle of each light to make sure they’re not overlapping too much in the center. Make sure you are using the same lights on each side of the green screen for consistency. On bigger productions, you may need to use overhead lighting, additional lights, or more diffusion, but the basic principles outlined here will be the same.Step 3: Getting a Clean Chroma KeyImage via Warner Bros.As mentioned, chroma key refers to the technique of compositing two images (or video clips) together based on color hues. And in our case, we are using a green screen to replace what is behind our actors. You will often hear the term “clean chroma key” when editors are referring to green screen composting. A clean chroma key composite is the end goal.Preventing SpillA clean chroma key will leave the actors or subject with crisp, defined edges that look natural. But oftentimes, digital artifacts, jittery/jagged edges and color spill from the green screen can appear. Spill is one of the biggest offenders – it happens when the green screen reflects back on your subject, creating a green halo that’s hard to get rid of in post.This article on clean chroma keying has some great tips and tricks that will help your chroma key results, including how to prevent spill with thoughtful planning. One of the first is deciding if you should use a green screen or blue screen. On today’s digital cameras, green will likely give you the cleanest key. However, if your actor has blonde hair or green clothing, you’ll likely have better results with a blue screen as green can spill into light-colored hair.Using Motion BlurThe whole point of the green screen process is to achieve sharp edges, and motion blur can undo this. For that reason, it’s best to film green screen shots with a fast shutter speed to eliminate motion blur. This may almost appear as a stuttering movement on the actors. You can fix this by adding motion blur back onto your actors in post-production. You can use CC Force Motion Blur in After Effects or try the third-party plugin ReelSmart Motion Blur. Adding motion blur back on your composite will make a noticeable difference.Film with a Low ISOYou also want to make sure you film your green screen scene with a low ISO setting – we recommend the lowest ISO setting your camera has available. This is because higher ISO levels introduce noise artifacts and those will appear on the green screen background. This can result in a lot of “off-color” spots on the green screen background that can make the keying process more difficult.How to Key a Green Screen SceneIf you have followed the green screen workflow recommendations so far, keying your footage will be much easier. Always fix any issues on set if you notice them, because the old adage “fix it in post” won’t work well with green screen footage. It really is a multifaceted process that requires a coordinated workflow.Keying with Your NLE of ChoiceImage via Rubidium Wu, Working with a Green Screen Is Easier than Ever — Here’s WhyNowadays you have a lot of options when it comes to the chroma key software you can use for keying your green screen footage. Keying effects aren’t just limited to composing software anymore. Nearly every traditional non-linear editor has a chroma keyer built into it. There are even some great free software options available, such as HitFilm Express and DaVinci Resolve.Keying in DaVinci ResolveDaVinci Resolve is a free video editor that is regarded as one of the best color grading applications available. It also has some great chroma key tools as well. In this article learn how to pull a clean key in DaVinci Resolve from start to finish. Resolve’s effects are applied using a node-based workflow, which may take some time to get used to if you haven’t used one before. However, this node-based system will ultimately give you the most options when it comes to customizing your footage with various keying effects.Keying in After EffectsAdobe After Effects is another popular option (and this author’s chroma key software of choice). Because After Effects is a dedicated compositing program, you can imagine there are lots of effects you can use to refine your chroma key. The free built-in keyer effect called Keylight is quite powerful and was developed by The Foundry, the same company that makes Nuke, a powerful professional compositing application. Check out this tutorial to learn more about keying footage in After Effects.Keying in Premiere ProEven though Premiere Pro is first and foremost a non-linear editor, it has most of the powerful keying effects from After Effects built in it as well. In this in-depth article, Brent Pierce shows the entire chroma key process for Premiere Pro. The keying effects in Premiere Pro are fantastic if you need a quick turn-around on a project. They’ll save you from having to round-trip into After Effects, which will also save on render time/file management. The only drawback in Premiere Pro would be if you have to do a lot of manual masking. For that type of work, you will be much better off in After Effects.Keying in Final Cut Pro XFinal Cut Pro X has a more causal workflow when it comes to dealing with green screen footage. This can be useful for amateur video users or YouTubers who just need a quick solution. Add your green screen footage to your timeline, then apply the Keyer effect to the footage. It will automatically key out the green screen with varied results. You can continue to refine the look with some simple controls under the Video options when your clip is selected. Check out this tutorial for a simple walk through. Shutterstock also has some step-by-step instructions for keying your footage in Final Cut Pro X.Keying in HitFilm ExpressHitFilm Express is another free option and is comparable to After Effects, with a more compositing-focused workflow. You can key out your footage using two different effects, the Color Difference Key effect and the Hue & RGB Key effect. Check out this tutorial to see the chroma keyer workflow in HitFilm Express. Conversely, if you need an even more powerful keying option, they have a paid Chroma Keyer effect as well. (The Chroma Keyer effect is included in the paid version of HitFilm, but must be purchased separately if you are using the free HitFilm Express.)How to Fix Bad Green Screen FootageIf you are working with a less than ideal green screen setup, there are still methods you can take to help remedy the final footage. While there are some post-production options for fixing green screen mistakes, it’s always better to catch them on set.If your green screen background has problems…If your green screen background is less than ideal – for example, if the green screen has wrinkles on it – you can film with a shallow depth of field to help blur out the background. This will help smooth out wrinkles and potential shadows/hot spots, which will make the post-production keying easier.If there’s too much spill…Use masking as much as possible. As mentioned before, if your subject is wearing green clothing or reflective jewelry, you’ll probably want to manually create a mask around that area and key frame it. Then overlay that back on top of your footage, so it doesn’t get removed by accident during the keying process. I also recommend roughly masking out your actor prior to the key as well. Just make sure they don’t move outside of the masked area at any point. You can always set key frames for the mask and move it around if they do.Green screen spill can be tricky to get rid of. It often requires finding the perfect chroma key balance for the background and your subject, and then desaturating any green color remnants left on your subject.In this article from RocketStock, you can learn how easy it is to fine tune spill suppression with After Effects’ built-in tools. Getting this perfect will drastically help sell the final look of your chroma key.Cover image via TaraPattaDiscover more of our comprehensive guides to everything filmmaking:The Comprehensive Guide To Building Your Own Video Editing PCYour Guide to Getting Started Shooting RAW VideoDaVinci Resolve: THE Total Guide to the Best Free Video EditorChoosing Aspect Ratio: A Guide to Everything You Need to KnowThe Complete Video Editors Guide to Working with Musiclast_img read more

Be Your Own Hero

first_imgAt a Toastmasters meeting, I was given two minutes to give an extemporaneous answer to the questions: “Who is your hero? And why are they your hero?” Without skipping a beat and without delay, I answered: “I am my own hero.” It sounds arrogant, I know.But before you judge the response, bear with me long enough that I can share with you the explanation that I gave the group I was speaking to. See if you don’t agree with me that you must be your own hero.You Have Only One StoryYou have only one story, for good or for ill. You are the producer, director, writer, and lead actor in only one story: your own. You are writing this story now, and you get decide, chapter by chapter, and frame by frame, just how that story goes.You get to decide whether your story is the tale of a passionate adventurer who is living their life and making big choices that make it something special. You also decide whether your story is one of a person leading “a life of quiet desperation,” wishing that things were different, but never taking the heroic action that would make that difference.Since you only get one story, you must choose to be the hero.If you don’t like the way the story is going, scrap it and call for a rewrite. Start it over right where you are. The best stories always have an arc in which the character overcomes their present circumstances to be something more by doing something spectacular.If your leading man (or lady) isn’t the passionate, romantic love interest that would make your story worth living, fire him (or her), and recast the part with someone else.If the great adventure in your story is simply making it to your cubicle day after day, scrap it and write the story of someone who breaks the bonds of indentured servitude and does something daring and remarkable instead. Make it the story of someone who brings so much passion to what they do that it changes everything. Forever.Lest you believe that this is arrogant or selfish, let me challenge you to write another story. How about the story of someone who helps to massively improve the lives of others, someone who touches lives in a way that inspires them to be more than they would otherwise be?Heroes always fight for causes greater than themselves, don’t they. What are you fighting for?When the Curtain FallsMost people have too small of a vision of themselves, and their lives are far less than they could be. They let the tiny voice that lives inside them drown out the voice of the hero. The go along silently, never allowing the hero inside of them to break free. There is no reason to go looking for heroes or heroines. When the curtain falls, when your story is over, you will have had your single opportunity to be whatever it was that you might have been.Don’t miss that opportunity. Don’t sit on the sidelines as a dispassionate observer of your story allowing others to write it for you. Write your own story, and be your own hero.last_img read more

A Short List of Self-Limiting Beliefs

first_imgThese are self-limiting beliefs. They will massively reduce your success and your happiness.I’m Not. There is no greater form of self-limiting belief than beliefs that start with “I’m not . . .” You might finish this sentence with any number of phrases, like “ready,” “smart enough,” “rich enough,” “good looking enough,” or “certified to . . . .” This self-limiting belief is an expression of your fears.I Am. This is belief that you use to absolve yourself of responsibility and rationalize whatever it is you are unwilling to change. It sounds like, “I am a . . . .” You might end the sentence with words like “smoker,” or “procrastinator,” or “horrible salesperson,” or “short-tempered.”I Can’t. This belief prevents you from doing things that you could do, were you willing to try, willing to learn, and willing to put forth the effort. You might say, “I can’t get up early enough in the morning to work out.” Or you might say, “I can’t motivate myself.” Almost anything that one human being can do, another human being can learn to do.It’s Too Late. You’ve heard this one expressed as, “I am too old to start a new career,” or “I wish I would have done that when I was younger.” You might hear, “I should have gone to college.” The truth is that it is never too late to live the life you want to live or make the contribution you want to make.It’s Someone (or Something) Else. This is my favorite. This one is “It’s not me. It’s you.” It’s your President, your Congress, the global bankers, the big corporations, your parents, your teacher, the police, your neighbors, or “them.” If it’s not you, then there is nothing you can do about anything. The world is acting on you, and you are powerless, so why try?I Don’t Have. This is the self-limiting belief that you are not enough, that you are missing something. It goes like this, “I don’t have the education, money, resources, network, right friends, or right abilities.” You were born with the ability to imagine, to be creative, to be resourceful.It might be difficult to shed these self-limiting beliefs and replace them with self-empowering beliefs, but it’s easier than living a life that is less than it should be. Get the Free eBook! Want to master cold calling? Download my free eBook! Many would have you believe that cold calling is dead, but the successful have no fear of the phone; they use it to outproduce their competitors. Download Nowlast_img read more

Where Your Focus Goes

first_imgThere are things that you cannot control, and things you can. Where you focus is important. It has much to do with how you view your life and happiness.Things You Cannot ControlYou cannot control the government or which party controls the Presidency, the Congress, or the Senate. You cannot control the policies they make or enforce. Unless politics is your life’s work, you have very little influence.You cannot control the economy. You personally have no ability change the economy for better or for worse. You can do nothing about recessions, and you can do nothing to make sure you have an opportunity for growth. The economy does what it does with no consideration of your needs whatsoever.You cannot control your prospects, your customers, your clients, your competitors or the people who work inside them. Nor can you control the people you work with, the people you work for, or any other person you encounter. You can’t stop people from making decisions and taking action with which you disagree. People are going to do what they will do.This is a very small part of a very, very long list. But there is another list.Things You Can ControlYou can control what you believe about your government, your economy, your clients, and other people. You can control whether you view them in a generally positive or negative light. You can decide not be consumed with things you cannot control and let them go.You can control your attitude. You can control how you interpret events and circumstances and what they mean to you. You can decide to be grateful, positive, and optimistic. It’s a choice that is wholly within your control.You can also control whether you view the world as a place of scarcity or abundance. You can choose to see possibilities or problems. You choose to see obstacles or opportunities. This decision is yours alone to make for yourself.You can control your own actions. You can control whether you do good work and make a positive contribution or whether you do the bare minimum required of you. You decide whether your work is intentional and meaningful or a “job.” You can give yourself over to your real work.You can control how you treat other people. You can choose compassion as your default in all human relationships. You can choose forgiveness over blame. You can invest in relationships and leave the people whose lives you touch better than you found them.You can control what kind of leader you are. You can be the kind of leader who builds other leaders and leaves a lasting legacy. You can be person who made a difference in people’s lives; you can be the person who helped them to see what they were truly capable of.You can control whether you make a contribution to those in need. You can be that candle that lights dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of other candles, never losing the flame yourself and still having more to give.Your FocusThere is no reason to spend time worrying about things you cannot control. If you are worried about something and there is something you can do about it, do that thing. But if there’s nothing you can do about it, there’s no reason to invest emotional energy in something that brings you pain, fear, doubt, or negativity.The very best investment of your time and emotional energy is spent on the things that you can control. The list above is a good place to start. Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Nowlast_img read more

With Delhi talks, Manipur crisis may have blown over

first_imgThe first crack in the month-old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government in Manipur appeared when Health Minister Langpoklakpam Jayentakumar handed in his resignation to Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on Thursday night, shortly after Health Director Okram Ibomcha was suspended from the post by the Chief Minister, who heads the Department of Personnel. Mr. Singh has not as yet accepted the resignation. Highly placed sources said on Saturday that hectic efforts were on to sort out the “passing phase”. Meanwhile, Mr. Singh has left for Delhi to consult with senior BJP leaders. Though an understanding has been “reached”, indications are that the matter shall be settled after Mr. Singh’s return from Delhi. Sources said Mr. Jayentakumar had resented “too much of interference” by the Chief Minister. The CM appointed a new Advocate-General from outside the State without consulting Mr. Jayentakumar, who holds the Law portfolio. Mr. Singh also overlooked the Health Minister’s recommendation for interim Health Director. The coalition Ministry was formed on March 15 and all four MLAs of the National People’s Party, including Mr. Jayentakumar, are in the Cabinet.last_img read more

Lalu Prasad family and CBI searches: all you need to know

first_imgMr. Prasad says he had not broken any rule or regulation in awarding the two hotels of the Railways to the IRCTC. “Everything was done according to rule and regulations… if CBI officials would ask me, I’m ready to explain them in detail”, he said. “IRCTC was formed in 1999 and I became Railway Minister in 2004… as per rules laid down by the then NDA government an open tender of these two hotels were floated for 15 years on lease…if anyone can prove where is my signature or I’ve done anything wrong I’m ready for the punishment.”Alleging political vendetta, he said: “It’s all part of it… [Narendra] Modi, Amit Shah and RSS are responsible for the raid to frighten me and bully me…but, I’ll not, come what may.”What does the BJP say?On July 5, 2017, Bihar BJP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi said at a press conference in New Delhi that Mr. Prasad acquired 125 pieces of property in Patna, Delhi and Kolkata during his tenure as Railway Minister, and during his wife Rabri Devi’s stint as Bihar Chief Minister between 2000 and 2005. “I have been disclosing his [Mr. Prasad] family’s property details for the last 90 days. They have acquired more than 125 properties in the last 12 years without any real business or industry. Lalu Prasad is Bihar’s Robert Vadra,” he said.Mr. Sushil Modi has demanded that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar should drop Mr. Mr. Tejaswi Yadav from the Cabinet. Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav with his mother and former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi at RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s residence 10, Circular Road in Patna on July 7, 2017.  | Photo Credit: PTI As the CBI registered a case and conducted searches in the residence of former Railway Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad in Patna and in some locations in Gurugram, Delhi, Ranchi and Puri following corruption charges against him, his wife Rabri Devi, son and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav and some others, here’s all you need to know about the issues concerning the development. What is the charge? Mr. Prasad was Railway Minister in the UPA-I government between 2004 and 2009. The CBI’s charge is that Mr. Prasad, Ms. Devi and Mr. Tejaswi Yadav indulged in corruption by misusing the position of the RJD chief. The BNR Hotel on July 7, 2017.  | Photo Credit: PTI  What does the CBI say?The CBI registered the case against Mr. Prasad, Ms. Devi and Mr. Tejaswi Prasad Yadav and others on the charge of corruption in awarding contracts for maintenance of hotels. The others were: Sarla Gupta, wife of Mr. Prasad’s associate and Rajya Sabha member Prem Chand Gupta; Vijay Kochhar and Vinay Kochhar, who were directors of Sujata Hotels; Delight Marketing and former IRCTC managing director P.K. GoelWhat are the specifics of the charges?The CBI alleges corruption in the award of a tender for the development, maintenance and operation of BNR Heritage Hotels in Ranchi and Puri to Sujata Hotels in 2006 during Mr. Prasad’s tenure as Railway Minister. The accused have been booked under Prevention of Corruption Act as well as cheating and criminal conspiracy.The CBI claims that a conspiracy was hatched between 2004 and 2014 to transfer BNR Hotels in Puri and Ranchi to IRCTC and a tender floated later for the hotel’s management was tweaked to ensure that it went to the Patna based Sujata Hotels. In lieu of the alleged favour, 3 acres in Patna were given to Delight Marketing, purportedly a front company linked to Mr. Prasad, at just ₹1.47 crore, against the government’s circle rate (aka guideline value, the value of land as determined by the State’s government). In 2010, Mr. Prasad’s family members started taking over the Delight Marketing and completed the process in 2014. By then the land was worth ₹32.5 crore as per circle rate, and ₹94 crore in market value. The CBI’s case is that the company worth at least ₹32.5 crore was transferred to Mr. Prasad’s family members for the payment of just ₹65 lakh.Where does the investigation stand now?The CBI registered the case on the basis of a complaint filed in June 2017 and the FIR was registered on July 5, 2017. Ten plots of land are under investigation. On July7, 2017, the CBI conducted the searches. The CBI action comes weeks after the Income Tax Department searches against Mr. Prasad, his family members and associates and the attachment of several properties under the newly enacted anti-benami assets law. The Enforcement Directorate, which has powers to register money laundering cases based on CBI FIRs, is currently probing the assets of some close relatives of Mr. Prasad in connection with alleged use of shell companies to launder funds. How did Mr. Prasad react?last_img read more

The jaws in the Parbati river

first_imgPeople living in several villages of Sheopur Kalan district in Madhya Pradesh fetch water from the Parbati, a tributary of the Chambal, every day. As runaway crocodiles from a sanctuary 5 km away have moved up the river near the villages, lives are in danger.Women, who bear the burden of collecting water for their homes, are the most at risk. The Forest Department has put out just a warning sign: “Fetch water at your own risk.” The district administration too has failed to come up with a solution. The women test the waters before dipping their pots. “Take a long stick; if you feel the still water, double-check for a crocodile,” says Mousmi Meena, as she quickly dunks her pitcher in the water. “Of course, my heart quakes in fear. But is dying of thirst an option?”Drought-like conditions prevail in the region. Water pumps and wells have long gone dry, forcing the people of Icchana Khedi, Malarna and Dalarna Kalan to use the river water for drinking and washing utensils and clothes. “We don’t have an option as the water from the village borewell is extremely salty,” Satrawat Meena, a resident, says. The sanctuary for crocodiles and gharials was opened at Palighat two years ago. The big reptiles had ventured outside the protected territory and attacked animals, but the problem went unchecked. The people lost a few of their cows and goats in the past year. “The crocodiles have tasted blood,” says a resident, knowing full well that the conflict is not going away soon. Mangilal Gurjar, sarpanch of a village, has given up hope for a solution anytime soon. The crocodile problem has another social dimension. For over a year, young men in the villages have had to postpone their marriages, with some even facing rejection. “Neighbouring villages refuse to give their women in marriage to men in the affected villages because of the crocodile threat,” Dhanjeet Singh Meena, a resident, says.last_img read more

Centre tried to delay NRC: Congress

first_imgStepping up its campaign on the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Congress on Sunday alleged that the Modi government had tried to delay the process by arguing before the Supreme Court that the NRC could lead to law-and-order issues.The Congress also demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal as the BJP tried to “mislead” the people of Assam.Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera told presspersons that on November 30, the Attorney-General argued before the top court that the publication of the NRC could lead to violence and create a law-and-order problem.“On November 30, 2017, the Supreme Court came down heavily on the Modi government for its excuses to delay the NRC in Assam. The Attorney-General gave the excuse of fear of violence,” Mr. Khera said and pointed out that the court reprimanded the government.“We do not see how the aforesaid situation can even remotely arise as we have already indicated in the earlier part of the present order that claims of 47 lakh persons (regarding whom the doubt pertained to parental linkage) and 29 lakh persons (married women who had submitted gram panchayat secretary certificates) are still pending and would be subject to verification and covered by publication of another draft NRC at a subsequent point of time,” Mr. Khera said quoting the SC.The Congress has stepped up its campaign after BJP president Amit Shah said in Parliament that it was the BJP government that had shown the “courage” to implement it.The Congress counter has been that the NRC update was the outcome of the 1985 Assam Accord, signed by the Rajiv Gandhi govenment, and was started by a Congress government in the State. On Monday, former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi will be addressing a press conference in Delhi on the NRC issue.“The Shah of lies and the Shahenshah of Jumlas tried their best to stall NRC. I will tell you how they hatched a conspiracy to stop, delay and disrupt the NRC process,” Mr. Khera said.“We demand that the Modi government apologise to the people of Assam for attempting to stall the NRC … We also demand the resignation of the so-called Jan Nayak Shri Sarbanand Sonowal who has no right to be the Chief Minister of a State that his party so shamelessly cheated in the Supreme Court on the issue of NRC,” he said.last_img read more