Apple Pay Cash starts rolling out to iPhone users in the US


December 4, 2017

by Brian Heater Originally Published on via RSS

Apple Pay Cash is finally starting to roll out to users in the States, bringing the ability to send other iOS users payments directly through iMessage. The update is arriving piece by piece to those who’ve downloaded iOS 11.2, which launched two days back with a not-yet-live version of the feature.

Apple Pay Cash was announced back in June at WWDC. However, the company added ahead of iOS 11’s September launch that the feature would be “coming this fall with an update to iOS 11 and watchOS 4,” and while it was intended to launch alongside 11.2, this weekend’s early arrival of the operating system left it behind, as the company worked to push the software live, seemingly in order to address an issue that was causing some iPhones to randomly reboot.

The new feature is a proprietary take on mobile payment apps like Venmo, PayPal and Square Cash, allowing money to be transferred to friends and family in a message or using Siri. Money sent is drawn from the credit or debit card tied to a user’s Apple Wallet. When it’s received on the other side, it shows up as an Apple Pay Cash card — sort of a virtual gift card, also stored in the Apple Wallet.

That money can then be transferred to the bank or kept on the device as a gift card, where it can be spent anywhere that accepts Apple Pay. It’s an added convenience, bringing all of that functionality directly to iMessage, rather than having to mess about with a third-party app. But for Apple, it’s also a way to rope in users who have been reluctant to install Apple Pay, and keep people in the iMessage ecosystem.

The feature appears to still be rolling out in pieces here in the States. No word yet on a time frame for international expansion.

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Blackmagic 7-inch Video Assist for DSLR


December 3, 2017

Today we're looking at the Blackmagic 7-inch Video Assist. This would have to be my favorite piece of camera gear that isn't a camera.

I bought the 5-inch video assist for my DSLR a few years ago, and it was a huge step up from using the back of camera screen. Last summer Blackmagic have a sale, and the seven-inch one was only $500. Now it's really hard to go back to the 5 inches.

The larger monitor is so much nicer to work from. If you've never pulled focus or operated from a 7-inch monitor, it’s a marked improvement. You'll never have focus problems. Going back to the days when we used to try and focus a camera on the back of the DSLR, the tiny little 1.5-inch screen, it was a nightmare. There's no way you can tell whether or not the pin lights in someone's eyes a sharp of such a small screen, it just doesn’t have the resolution. On a larger monitor, it's a piece of cake. You get so much better an idea of the image and the color.

The Blackmagic Video Assist has Many Awesome Features

• SDI in and out
• HDMI in and out
• Mini XLR audio in and out (which is handy for 5d mark 3 where the HDMI out doesn't carry any audio)
• Timecode in

The monitor records externally in 4k 10-bit pro-res in a variety of popular flavors – 444, 442, HQ, LT and others, and it does this to cheap SD cards, not the expensive CFast cards that new cameras are using.

The Video Assist records in 4k, while the actual display is still 2k, it has more than enough resolution to do what it needs to do. The unit also has a USB port that allows you to load in look-up tables or LUTS, that lets you customize the image that you’re seeing if you’re shooting in a LOG mode, as most cinema cameras do now.

As far as monitoring the image, the Video Assist has false color, waveform, histogram, vector gram, grids, and guides. It has everything that you could want in a monitor.

The Blackmagic Video Assist Some Downsides

The unit does have a few downsides, but these can be worked around. It eats power like you wouldn't believe. Unless you use external power, you will find yourself carrying about a dozen Canon LP6 batteries if you want to get through a day’s shooting. The size of the monitor is also not that small. If you have to carry it around all day, you will feel the weight of it. SmallHD makes great monitors that are noticeably smaller, but they are three times the

The power button is something that got a lot of complaints from users. It's not the most convenient location or the most usable design. It’s a little-recessed button that you hold down for 2 seconds to turn on or off the unit. There is also a fan that emits a small hum, but unless you place is right next to the mic, you shouldn’t hear it. I did have an issue once where I mounted it on the same stand as the mic, and the vibration carried through and was audible, but that was an easy fix.

The unit itself is plastic, but it has this great metal exterior that runs around the entire frame, much like an iPhone case. It has quarter-twenty mounts built into to this cage, three in the top and three in the bottom.

Another great feature is that the monitor auto rotates. If you’re set and need to swing the display upside down it, it will automatically adjust the image.

People who’ve worked with other monitors know that there is nothing more annoying than having to go through the options of the monitor upside down trying to image.

All in all, the product works amazingly well for the price. It goes to show when someone like Blackmagic comes along and offers more features than other camera manufacturers for much less money; it disrupts the industry and forces all the other camera manufacturers to innovate or be left behind.

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Why the YouTube of AR won’t be YouTube


November 29, 2017

 A couple of years ago when I was working at Samsung, around the time the GearVR was being launched, there were lots of ideas flying around regarding the services to offer alongside the device. Many (most) of these ideas were related to hosting 360 Video content, and our boss David Eun (ex-YouTube) often reminded everyone that YouTube will be the YouTube of VR. He meant that the content on… Read More

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Huge security flaw lets anyone log into a High Sierra Mac


November 28, 2017

by Devin Coldewey TechCrunch

Update: Apple has acknowledged the issue and is working on it. Statement and workaround below.

Wow, this is a bad one. On Macs running the latest version of High Sierra — 10.13.1 (17B48) — it appears that anyone can log in just by putting “root” in the user name field. This is a huge, huge problem. Apple will fix it probably within hours, but holy moly. Do not leave your Mac unattended until this is resolved.

The bug is most easily accessed by going to Preferences and then entering one of the panels that has a lock in the lower left-hand corner. Normally you’d click that to enter your user name and password, which are required to change important settings like those in Security & Privacy.

No need to do that any more! Just enter “root” instead of your user name and hit enter. After a few tries, it should log right in. There’s no need to do this yourself to verify it. Doing so creates a “root” account that others may be able to take advantage of if you don’t disable it.

The bug appears to have been first noticed by Lemi Orhan Ergin, founder of Software Craftsman Turkey, who noted it publicly on Twitter.

Needless to say, this is incredibly, incredibly bad. Once you log in, you’ve essentially authenticated yourself as the owner of the computer. You can add administrators, change critical settings, lock out the current owner, and so on. Do not leave your Mac unattended until this is resolved.

So far this has worked on every preference panel we’ve tried, and when I used “root” at the login screen it immediately created and pulled up a new user with system administrator privileges. It didn’t work on a 10.13 (17A365) machine, but that one is also loaded up with AOL bloatware — sorry, Oath bloatware — which may affect things.

Apple offered the following statement:

We are working on a software update to address this issue. In the meantime, setting a root password prevents unauthorized access to your Mac. To enable the Root User and set a password, please follow the instructions here: If a Root User is already enabled, to ensure a blank password is not set, please follow the instructions from the ‘Change the root password’ section.

You can find Directory Utility via the instructions in that link, but you can also hit command-space now to open Spotlight and just type it in. Once it opens, click the lock and enter your password and then under the Edit menu you’ll have the option to change the root password. It looks like this:

Anything’s better than nothing, which is the password the root user has now, but make it strong just in case.

We hope Apple has a fix soon because even though this workaround exists, we can’t be sure of the extent of this particular flaw until Apple takes a look. No one should leave their Mac unattended until this is resolved.

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How Hollywood Quality Cameras went from Costing More than a Lamborghini to Less than a Secondhand Moped


November 21, 2017

The Hollywood quality digital cinema revolution

Ten years ago, when I was directing TV commercials in Australia, there was one game in town if you wanted to shoot a feature film and have it play in cinemas: film. You had to buy undeveloped stock by the foot; you had to rent a film camera (because no one owned them) and pay a professional cinematographer to make a lot of educated guesses on set on how to expose it, so the stock wasn’t ruined. You then you had to have the film processed (expensive), then you had to have the film Telecined, meaning transferred from film to video.

All those steps were costly and time-consuming, but that was a there was no real way to get a cinematic image without them. The only alternative to all that expense and time of film was a video camera. These were big bulky things, like the Sony Betacam. They had fixed lenses that were very slow (they needed a lot of light) and have a very deep depth of field. They were also very contrasty they didn't have much dynamic range. In short, they looked like television and not like film.

Video cameras had made some strides in looking better, but few manufacturers wanted to develop a more filmic image and instead settled for video cameras with more features. Filmmakers wanted an image that looked like film because film looked expensive and prestigious.

Interestingly, the first couple of video cameras that shot a filmic image didn't solve the expense problem but were made to overcome other limitations of shooting on film. The Thompson Viper was the one of the first used on feature films, used on Collateral and Zodiac. It cost more than $100,000. It was very pretty large and needed a team of technicians to keep it running.

The two main reasons that the that those directors, Michael Mann and David Fincher, used that camera used it was that it could do more extended takes than the eight or the twelve minute take that a film camera was capable. David Fincher could do his 400 takes without cutting to get the performance he wanted. They could also shoot much more low-light and get shots of cities at night (which is the primary setting for both of those films).

Then the guy that founded Oakley Sunglasses, James Jannard, wasn’t happy with the cameras he was using for his commercials and decided he wanted to be in the film business. Unlike all the other camera manufacturers, he had no existing business to lose by doing digital, and he developed the Red camera.

The red one came out it was $20,000. You had to spend around $40,000 in accessories like hard drives and all the things you need to use it, but it had interchangeable lenses and gave by far the best digital image so far and was cheaper than shooting on film. You could attach very high-end PL lenses, the same lenses that film cameras use

The Red One got an image that was versatile, and easy to grade. It was a pain to use though, taking three minutes to start up. It would overheat or shut down in the middle of a take. It was cutting-edge technology, and that isn’t always what you want when you’re burning through money on a film set. Another problem was that the image that it produced was very digital – it felt cold and impersonal. It wasn’t video, but it didn’t feel like film either. It wasn’t immediately apparent how to make Red footage look like film.

A company called Arri which made most of the film cameras saw the writing on the wall and decided to develop a sensor and create a digital film camera before Red got their act together and put them out of business. They came up with a camera called the Arri Alexa This fulfilled all the hopes that people had had for the Red camera. It was dependable, efficient to shoot with, the image was beautiful and very gradable and very filmic straight out of the camera.

Around 2010 Alexa transformed first the advertising industry, then was adopted by most TV shows. By 2015, most of the film nominated for best picture at the Oscars were shot on the Alexa, and it had become the industry default instead of film.

The Red and Arri systems still cost $60,000 and up. At the same time this was happening, Canon, which made stills cameras decided they would enable video mode their new camera, the 5d mark ii. This camera cost under 5k and had interchangeable lenses like every DSLR. People worked out how to get an amazing image out of this camera and the indie film industry was really transformed, almost overnight. People were able to get use incredibly fast, cheap stills lenses to get an incredibly shallow depth of field and make an image that was much more filmic.

In the wake of that camera being released in 2008, every other manufacturer rushed into the market and tried to produce digital cinema cameras. A couple of years later, a new class of camera emerged that had interchangeable lenses, sophisticated audio inputs and shot an image that was not made to come straight out of a camera but was made to be graded in post-production.

The footage these cameras shot gave control in post-production, rather than something that was ready to upload right away. Probably the last the last big thing to come to digital cinema cameras was a raw workflow. Still, photographers had been using raw for years at this point. Raw means capturing images separately in red, green and blue so that you can mix the colors in post and have a lot more flexibility.

When the first digital cinema cameras appeared, they were in the tens of thousands of dollars range. The second generation was around $10,000 and now Canon and Panasonic have released $7000 versions that shoot Raw in 4k and has a whole bunch of other tools that let you create a cinematic image.

The latest cameras also have tools that film couldn’t even be dreamed of. Dual pixel autofocus means that the camera is able to pick an object, like a person's face, then track with it without having to manually adjust the focus.

Filmmakers used to have to replace street lamps when they want to shoot a scene outside at night. Digital video cameras are able to get ISO images, then clean up the graininess and post with different algorithms.

Digital cameras do have some downsize. The more flexibility you want in post, the more you have to pay for that in file sizes and processing times. This camera produces huge files, almost 500gig per.

At the end of the day, a filmic image was always about more than the camera. You will always need preparation, great lighting, camera movement and all manner of other things to create images that seem ‘cinematic’, but one of the biggest hurdles, the camera itself, is now within the reach of most aspiring filmmakers.

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Aukey KM-G3 RGB Mechanical Keyboard Review: Clicky Keys for Cheap


November 14, 2017

This article originally appeared on Wired.

Aukey is one of those electronics companies that makes everything. It’s known for battery packs and power solutions, but the Chinese manufacturer also makes Bluetooth speakers, drones, dash cams, VR headsets, clip-on iPhone lenses, flashlights, aromatherapy infusers, and selfie sticks. And of course, it sells all that stuff direct to consumers through Amazon at rock-bottom prices.

A few months ago, I took delivery of an Aukey mechanical keyboard. I was eager to try it because I prefer typing on mechanical keyboards, and I’m always on the lookout for new models to test. But also, I wanted to try it because Aukey makes mechanical keyboards? Most models come from companies that specialize in these tactile typing devices, or at least in hardware for PC gamers. Enthusiasts love the clicky keyboards from Das, Logitech, Razer, WASD, and Corsair—none of whom have built a business selling aromatherapy pods or 5,000 mAh battery bricks. This makes things interesting.

Aukey KM-G3 RGB Mechanical Keyboard



A mechanical typing and gaming experience for under $70. Fun, customizable lighting effects. Full-size, 104-key device with tactile, clicky switches. Comfy ergonomics.


Cheap feel to the construction of the case and especially the ABS plastic keys. Switches are fine, but a little wiggly. Keycap font possibly chosen by a 12-year-old. Hella loud. For real, somebody's going to call the cops on you.


How We Rate

  • 1/10A complete failure in every way
  • 2/10Sad, really
  • 3/10Serious flaws; proceed with caution
  • 4/10Downsides outweigh upsides
  • 5/10Recommended with reservations
  • 6/10Solid with some issues
  • 7/10Very good, but not quite great
  • 8/10Excellent, with room to kvetch
  • 9/10Nearly flawless
  • 10/10Metaphysical perfection

The Aukey KM-G3 RGB mechanical keyboard is a backlit model with 104 keys, including the 10-key pad and a full row of function keys. Beneath the keycaps on my review unit are blue switches. (Keyboard nerds can skip this part. Key switches come with different stiffnesses, different feel under the fingers, and different noise levels. The variations are discernable by color. Blue switches offer medium stiffness with an extra loud CLICK.) You can get Aukey keyboards with other switches; the KM-G4 variant has browns, for example. The switches in Aukey’s boards aren’t the expensive, revered Cherry MX switches from Germany, but rather a set made in Asia by Outemu. Either way, Aukey says they’re good for 50 million strokes; pretty durable.

The keys look, feel, and sound cheap. There’s a noticeable thinness to the ABS plastic keycap, a bit of wiggle under the fingers when your hands are at rest, and a plasticky inelegance to the sound of the keypress. It’s here that I should mention the KM-G3 RGB sells for $66 on Amazon. In the world of mechanicals, that’s really inexpensive. Most mechanical keyboards for gamers and serious typists sit north of $100, with the best models in the $130 to $170 range. This Aukey keyboard definitely has the feel of something less expensive, but it delivers the real-deal mechanical typing experience with springy keypresses and just the right amount of friction at the middle of the stroke.

Can You Hear Me Now?

On the first day, I plugged the Aukey into my iMac and remapped the modifier keys to work with MacOS, then started blowing through emails. Pretty soon, the Slack notifications began. “What is that NOISE” and “omg mike your keyboard” and “why the FUCK can I hear you typing five desks away?” Apparently, the noise pollution I was spraying all over the office was unacceptable—though to be honest, even if my coworkers had been the blushing, shy wallflowers I’ve always taken them for, I should have expected such shaming. Blue switches are notoriously loud. But the switches in this Aukey are super-duper loud. I pulled two other blue-bedecked keyboards out of our storage closet (one Razer, one Cherry MX) to gauge the difference. Typing was much, much louder on the Aukey.

As garish as its honk is its look. The case is a drab olive with silver and black highlights. The typeface on the keycaps follows the unfortunate trend in gaming hardware of being stuck in the future-military universe where all writing is boldly stenciled so as to appear more threatening. Ho hum.

As the RGB in the product name should tell you, there are some crazy lighting effects under those keys. The default setting is a nice red backlight, and you can modulate it to be one of seven colors. But let’s go further. Pressing FN and Home lets you individually set each key to be a different color. You can save up to five custom color layouts. Less tedious is the bank of nine preset light modes. You get the ripples-in-a-pond effect, the slow-breathing effect, and the effect where every key slowly fades out after you press it, which makes it easy for everyone around you to learn your passwords. I found the most annoying but also most delightful setting, a constantly cycling, full-color rainbow that washes over the whole keyboard. Every day is Pride!

Pressing Issue

It may be cheap, it may be loud, and it may hurt your eyes, but the Aukey RGB offers a totally decent typing experience. It has a mild springiness, similar to but slightly more than what I get from my more expensive keyboards with brown switches. It also sits at a comfortable angle and has a roomy layout, so typing on it for hours at a stretch isn’t an issue. If you’re picky about using a particular brand of switch, or if your officemates demand total silence, the RGB KM-G3 isn’t for you. But if you want to upgrade from the boring, mushy keyboard that came in the box with your Dell—and you want to do it for under $70—the loud and proud Aukey will get you there.

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