Thursday, 24 November 2016

Neural Network-based Image Colorization

Satoshi Iizuka, Edgar Simo-Serra & Hiroshi Ishikawa report: [edited]

We provide a service that uses AI to automatically colorize black and white images based on "Let there be Color!: Joint End-to-end Learning of Global and Local Image Priors for Automatic Image Colorization with Simultaneous Classification" Iizuka and Simo-Serra et al. SIGGRAPH 2016.

[Here's some I made up earlier, Ed.]

Thanks to Brook Jordan for the link.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Microsoft Surface Studio

Released date, early 2017.

Full specifications here

Review by illustrator Gabe at Penny Arcade here

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Playstation VR

Trusted Reviews has published a 10/10 review of Sony's recently released virtual reality goggles.

Snippets follow:

"Priced at £349.99, it’s significantly cheaper than the Oculus Rift (£549) and HTC Vive (£759)."

"PlayStation VR is simply the best virtual reality headset you can buy right now. It’s cheap while not compromising on performance and quality. The headset is simply stunning and incredibly comfortable to wear, and the games already available are some of the best VR experiences I’ve ever played."

"Compared to the Oculus Rift it offers a far more comfortable gaming experience at a much lower price point. Against the Vive it may not offer the level of detail and immersion, but is close and doesn’t require the installation of additional sensors in your home and will not demand as much space for many games, either."

"I was so excited about virtual reality, but this was replaced with frustration the longer I tried to use the Oculus Rift. Now? I couldn’t be more enthused, and it’s all thanks to PSVR."

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Variable Fonts

Adobe Typekit Blog reports: [edited]

Jointly developed by Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Adobe, a variable font is “a single font file that behaves like multiple fonts”. A single font file gaining an infinite flexibility of weight, width, and other attributes without also gaining file size.

The OpenType font file specification now includes a new technology: OpenType Font Variations, which allows type designers to interpolate a font’s entire glyph set or individual glyphs along up to 64,000 axes of variation (weight, width, etc.), and define specific positions in the design space as named instances (“Bold”, “Condensed”, etc.).

For fonts to actually show up anywhere, a rendering engine has to make typesetting and rasterisation calculations. Rendering engines are complex, and will need to be developed before Variable Fonts become viable, along with browsers and design software to support the rendering engine.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

iPhone 7 Plus Camera Review

Austin Mann reports: [edited]

I’m writing from deep in the Nyungwe rain forest in southwest Rwanda. We’ve been tracking gorillas in the north, boating Lake Kivu in the west, and running through tea plantations in the south — all with the iPhone 7 Plus in hand.

Alternating between wide (28mm) and telephoto (56mm) lenses has fundamentally changed the way I see and shoot with my iPhone, including landscapes, wildlife, and people. The 2x zoom is an especially great upgrade for portraiture.

It works exactly as I hoped. It is super quick to switch between lenses, even while you are rolling video.

In terms of quality, I found the the 2x zoom lens to be equally as sharp as the iPhone wide-angle. However, I do not recommend the digital zoom beyond 2x. The quality of digital zoom degrades quickly and I find it unusable for photography (although it’s actually kind of nice as an animal spotting tool).

The 2x works in ALL modes (photo, video, time-lapse, slo-mo, and even pano).

The iPhone 7 features a completely redesigned camera system with a faster f/1.8 lens which leads to better auto focus, a better ability to freeze motion, and shallower depth-of-field. I also noticed an improvement in the the dynamic range of the sensor.

Friday, 15 July 2016

OnePlus 3

Quartz reports: [edited]

It has 6 GB of RAM — triple what the iPhone 6S Plus ships with — and has a top-of-the-line 2.2 Ghz Snapdragon processor on board that means even the most processor-heavy apps and games should run smoothly on the OnePlus 3.

The camera is a 16-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. The rear camera also has a mechanical and digital image stabiliser. The 1080p AMOLED display looks great, it comes with 64 GB of storage space. And it has two SIM card slots.

OnePlus runs a customised version of Android that it calls OxygenOS that’s pretty much the clean, stock Android software that Google intended it to be, with a few minor upgrades.

The OnePlus 3’s “dash” charging system allows the phone to charge to 60% capacity in 30 minutes.

Price: £329 (A 64GB iPhone 6S costs £619).

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Google My Activity

The Washington Post reports: [edited]

A new tool called My Activity allows you to view the information Google is stockpiling about you — and delete things you'd rather it forget.

My Activity shows you what Google has saved about your online activities going back as far as Google has been tracking them. You'll probably be prompted to enter your Google password, after this you will see a chronological list of things you've done using Google's services — the searches you've made, videos you've watched on YouTube, and so on (assuming you haven't already used Google's privacy controls to block the collection of certain information).

You can even search through the data trove to look up a specific record or activity Google has saved.

If you don't want Google remembering a particular search, find the record you want to delete, click on the three vertical dots on the right end of the record and select the delete option.

You can also delete things in bulk by clicking on the three dot menu at the top of the timeline, choose "Delete activity by" and selecting a date range to erase on the next page. If you want an entirely blank slate, opt for the "All Time" option.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III

Digital Photography Review have published a in-depth review of Sony's premium super-zoom 'bridge' camera.

Snippets from the conclusion follow:

"The superb quality of the RX10 III's lens is quite a technical achievement, to say nothing of the overall feature set Sony has included as well. Whether you're zoomed in or zoomed out, focused close or focused on infinity, you'll be impressed with the sharpness offered by this 24-600mm equivalent F2.4-4 zoom lens."

"It's not perfect, that much is certain. It's not a 'caught moment' camera, or a sports shooting machine. But for outright versatility - for when I need 600mm – for when I need really good 4K in a compact package - the RX10 III makes a lot of sense."

"The autofocus system is contrast-detect only, meaning you can expect some hunting, especially at the longer end of the zoom. And while it aced our bike test for a steadily approaching subject - meaning depth tracking is quite good - the reality is that the camera too often goes into a long hunt if the AF point suddenly encounters a low contrast target - meaning missed shots."

"Overall, we've found the RX10 III the most well-rounded all-in-one bridge camera on the market today when it comes to size, feature set and image quality. But, while the RX10 III and its excellent lens might well be worth the price of admission for those that need it, continued ergonomic and user-interface shortcomings keep it from earning our top award."

Price: £1,499

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Google Gigapixel Art Camera

Digital Photography Review reports: [edited]

The Google Cultural Institute, an online virtual museum with high-quality digitisations of artifacts from across the globe, recently added more than 1,000 ultra-high-resolution images of classic paintings and other artwork by Monet, Van Gogh and many others. A new robotic camera system Google has developed called 'Art Camera' has made it possible for the organisation to add digitisations faster than before.

Art Camera, after being calibrated to the edges of a painting or document by its operator, automatically takes close-up photos of paintings one section at a time, using a laser and sonar to precisely adjust the focus. This process results in hundreds of images that are then sent to Google, where they're stitched together to produce a single gigapixel-resolution photo.

Art Camera can complete the process in less than an hour. Google has built 20 Art Cameras and is shipping them to museums around the world for free, enabling the organisations to digitise their artwork and documents.

The resulting gigapixel images can be viewed here.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Google Home

The Verge reports: [edited]

Physically, the Home is a small cylinder with a modular case that you can customise with different base shells to match your decor. It will also have LED lights to let you know it's working. It boasts a powerful speaker, one of the main uses Google is foreseeing is listening to music.

Google Home is designed with multiple rooms and speakers in mind. And you can talk to any speaker and tell it to play music on other speakers. It will work with Google Play Music, but it should also be able to handle any other service that supports Google Cast.

Compatibility with Cast means it can talk to the Chromecast plugged into your TV.

Unfortunately, the Home won't support multiple Google accounts at launch, but the company says that will come in time.

It will let you ask Google questions, with responses optimised for audio and it will to work with a set of home automation devices — including thermostats and lights.

It's coming out later this year for an unspecified price.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Nuheara IQbuds

engadget reports: [edited]

IQbuds are Bluetooth headsets for your phone. They have active noise cancelling, and the same technology can be used to give your hearing a boost, or focus on voices in noisy environments.

Nuheara claims they allow you to blend music and the sounds around you. The touch-controlled IQbuds have a four-hour battery life and charging case.

IQbuds will also let you tweak the sound around you by adding more bass and/or cutting high frequencies. IQbuds also let you change ambient sound for each ear. For someone with high frequency loss of hearing on one side, or similar, it's potentially very helpful.

For more information, click here.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Combining Typefaces by Tim Brown

Adobe Typekit Blog reports: [edited]

Originally published by Five Simple Steps in 2013, my Pocket Guide to Combining Typefaces has sold thousands of copies, been used in college curricula, and been cited in conference talks by industry-leading designers.

Unfortunately, Five Simple Steps closed its doors this month. Because this pocket guide is no longer available for purchase, I’ve decided to make it available for free here on the Typekit blog. Download the PDF and enjoy.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Olympus Pen-F

Digital Photography Review has published a full review of Olympus' digital reincarnation of their 1963 premium compact.

Snippets from the conclusion follow:

“In terms of design, the F is a gorgeous camera, both to gaze at longingly on a table or to physically hold and use. In many ways, the PEN-F is the most physically remarkable Four Thirds camera to date.”

“In the paws the camera sits comfortably; it can easily be used with just a single hand. The touchscreen is especially useful, especially if you are a street shooter: touch-to-focus and touch-to-shoot can help keep things discreet when trying to get candids, and can be near instantaneous.”

“By far, one of the most helpful inclusions is the camera's 5-axis sensor-based image stabilisation system. It is extremely robust for both stills and video. In real-world shooting that it gave us an average of four additional stops of handhold-ability.”

“Autofocus performance from the Olympus PEN-F is on par with what we'd expect from a modern contrast detect AF (CDAF) system, which is to say, good. When using Autofocus Single (Olympus calls it S-AF), focus speeds are fast.”

“Image quality from the PEN-F is very good. The PEN-F's JPEGs are (as we expected) very pleasing, with accurate colours. We also found the PEN-F offered better high ISO JPEGs than its closet competitor, the GX8. Raw performance is also very good.”

“The PEN-F is a very capable camera jam-packed with features and tools to help shooters realise their vision. It offers impressive image quality, some of the best image stabilisation available, acceptable video quality, direct controls and ample customisation, all in one incredibly-handsome digital camera.”

Price: £999 (body only)

Wednesday, 20 April 2016


trueCall38 reports: [edited]

Do you get annoyed when you fill in an online form and have to enter your phone number when you know that the company doesn’t need it?

The solution: enter our phone number 0333 88 88 88 88 as your phone number, and if they call, they will hear our short but sweet recorded message:-

"trueCall38 is handling my calls. I prefer not to be contacted by phone, so please contact me via my email address. Goodbye!"

Note: Some online forms won't accept the full trueCall38 number. If the number is rejected enter 0333 8888 888.

Thanks to Paul Mayers for the link.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

HP Spectre 13.3

engadget reports: [edited]

At 10.4mm thin, the Spectre is about as thick as a AAA battery, making it not just the skinniest PC in HP's portfolio but the slimmest notebook on the market. Think of it as HP's answer to Apple's 12-inch MacBook, except with a bigger screen, extra horsepower and a little more bling.

It looks striking in photos and even more so in person. It is is very, very thin, and though it's not technically the lightest, at 2.45 pounds, it is still extremely easy to hold. The combination of metal and carbon fibre helps the machine feel at once compact and well-made.

A piston-style hinge, inspired by upscale cabinetry allows the 13.3-inch Gorilla Glass screen to almost float above the keyboard. (The skinny bezels also add to the effect.) HP had to go with a non-touch screen to keep the machine's thickness down.

Spectre is powered by your choice of sixth-gen Core i5 or i7 processors, helped by up to 8GB of RAM and PCIe solid-state drives with up to 512 gigs of storage. It also brings more ports than you might expect: three USB Type-C connections, two of which support Thunderbolt.

The notebook is rated for a healthy nine and a half hours of runtime.

The Spectre 13.3 goes up for pre-order on 25 April. Price starts at $1,170.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100/TZ100 Review

Digital Photography Review has published a full review of Panasonic's latest 'enthusiast' compact zoom.

Excerpts from the conclusion follow:

“With a 25-250mm equivalent zoom lens and jacket-pocket-friendly body, the ZS100 gives users the perfect mix of focal range and size.”

“The ZS100 features a 20MP BSI CMOS sensor which is capable of capturing 4K video. Its video capabilities are also used for the camera's clever Post Focus and 4K Photo features. There's also an electronic viewfinder, which isn't great, but it's better than no viewfinder at all.”

“The ZS100 is a responsive camera in nearly all respects. It starts up quickly, focuses in a snap and can shoot continuously at 10 frames per second (6 fps with continuous AF). In fact, the 'Depth from Defocus' autofocus system is one of the ZS100's best features. Not only does it lock focus quickly but it proved itself to be excellent at both subject tracking and continuous AF. We were also impressed with how little 'wobble' there was in both continuous AF and when rack focusing in movie mode.”

”Image quality is very good, though not the best in the 1" sensor class. The 20MP CMOS sensor captures a good amount of detail, though its lens isn't terribly sharp and JPEG sharpening is on the weak side. Colours lean toward neutral and yellows take on a greenish cast, which can lead to undesirable skin tones. In Raw mode we were able to 'push' the shadows stay without a huge noise penalty. Despite a few quibbles, the ZS100's image quality is light-years ahead of any other compact travel zoom on the market.”

“It strikes the right balance between size and zoom. It ticks just about all the boxes that most photo and video travellers might desire, earning the ZS100 our top award.”

Price: £549

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge - Best Mobile Camera

DXO reports: [edited]

The 26mm f/1.7 lens delivers very accurate and repeatable exposures, which helped the S7 edges achieve an outstanding Exposure & Contrast score of 90 during our tests. Even in tricky high contrast scenes, it captures great exposures thanks to its built-in auto HDR feature, making it a great choice for landscape or backlit photography.

The new Samsung S7 edge ranks in joint first place for still photos alongside the S6 Edge and Sony Z5. The main strengths of Samsung’s S7 edge photos are its excellent and repeatable exposures in all conditions, fast and accurate autofocus, and a very good compromise between noise and detail.

Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone also offers notable improvements to its video performance, capturing nice exposures, with pleasant colour and excellent video autofocus and stabilisation.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Nik Photo Editing Collection Available Free

Digital Photography Review reports: [edited]

Google's Nik Collection of desktop image editing plug-ins is being offered free of charge.

Compatible with Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture, Nik's Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro and Dfine apps are all available as a free download from Google, a substantial savings over the previous $150 price.

- - - - - - -

[Ed. Grey Learning has kindly made a number of previously 'paid for' training videos available free.]

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

9.7-inch iPad Pro

Essentially a smaller/slightly slower/lighter (437g vs 713g) version of its 12.9" predecessor , it features an upgraded display with less reflective glass, a wider gamut and sensors that adapt the display’s colour balance to complement the ambient light.

It supports the Apple Pencil, there's an optional Smart Keyboard, and it comes with an improved 12 megapixel, f/2.2 camera (12.9" = 8 megapixel, f/2.4).

Price: from £499 - 32GB WiFi, up to £839 - 256GB WiFi + Cellular.

iPhone SE

If you've been thinking of upgrading from your iPhone 5/5S/5C, but don't want the extra bulk of the 6S/6S Plus, your wish has been granted.

The iPhone SE is almost identical in form-factor to the 5S, as fast as the 6S, with a decent main camera.

As long as you're not worried about its low-quality 'selfie' camera, slower Touch ID sensor and lack of 3D touch, and want an iOS smartphone, you'll be saving nearly £200 over purchasing an equivalently specified 6S.

Price: £359 - 16GB, £439 - 64GB

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Pick of the Month

Would you like to be entertained, informed and inspired?

X1's 'Pick of the Month' webpage contains links to a brief article, a video and an inspirational quote on marketing.

This month’s selection features:

- What are the consequences of bad marketing?
- The power of words in marketing.
- Albert Einstein on creativity.

To view the page, click here.