If you’ve been playing Destiny 2 for a while, you probably know the fate of “the city”. What’s set to follow — as I try not to spoil anything– is the return of factions. We all love some good in-game tribal battles, and the shooter’s Faction rallies will kick things off on September 26, at the decidedly precise hour of 2AM PT / 5AM ET / 9AM BST — with some nice rewards for the faction that comes out on top.
On a Bungie blog post, Senior Designer Tim Williams explains that factions of the Tower will rally to collect resources for its cause. This involves both gathering their own supplies… and destroying the enemies’. Do a good job and you’ll be suitably rewarded. According to Williams: “As an incentive, each faction has set aside a powerful weapon to entice players to choose their side. The faction whose Guardians collect the most faction packages will be declared the winner.”
The eventual faction that wins will offer the weapon to everyone, but if you picked the right side to support you’ll land a huge discount. Oh, and you must already be level 20 character, with access to the Tower. Once you’ve picked your faction, you can assist through public events, Lost Sectors, strikes, raids, or simply winning in the Crucible. Wins mean tokens, and tokens can be turned into loot.
The official blog post details what’s on offer, but rest assured, there’s plenty of items on offer, regardless of your affiliation. You’ll be able to save up faction tokens until 2AM Pacific on October 3, with the eventual winner declared eight hours later, at 10AM Pacific time. While it’s a temporary event, it’s a nice touch to see the return of the factions, with a more interesting proposition that the rep system of the original, which depended solely on individual players’ actions.
In 2013, the European Commission ordered a €360,000 ($430,000) study on how piracy affects sales of music, books, movies and games in the EU. However, it never ended up showing it to the public except for one cherry-picked section. That’s possibly because the study concluded that there was no evidence that piracy affects copyrighted sales, and in the case of video games, might actually help them.
Done by Dutch organization Ecorys, the study might have been lost altogether if not for the effort of EU parliamentarian Julia Reda. She submitted a freedom of information request in July 2017, and after stalling twice, the commission finally produced it. The conclusion? “With the exception of recently released blockbusters, there is no evidence to support the idea that online copyright infringement displaces sales,” Reda wrote on her blog.
It’s not as though the EU just forgot the study in a drawer. It concluded that one specific category, blockbuster movies, is negatively impacted by piracy, with ten downloads leading to about four fewer cinema visits. Overall, that reduced sales for certain films by about 4.4 percent on average. Two EU Commissioners used those results in a 2016 academic paper to bolster claims that piracy impacts cinema ticket sales, digital rights group EDRi noticed.
As for the other industries that rely on copyright (games, books and music), the study found “no robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online piracy.” In the case of games, it concluded that unauthorized playing might actually make it more likely users will buy them. None of those results ever appeared in any EU Commission academic studies or to the public anywhere else, however.
This seems to substantiate suspicion that the European Commission was hiding the study on purpose and cherry-picked the results they wanted to publish, by choosing only the results which supported their political agenda towards stricter copyright rules.
Why not? Reda observes that the EU has been trying to force ISPs to install filters that spy on all user-uploaded content, and may have hoped the study would justify such heavy-handed enforcement. “This seems to substantiate suspicion that the European Commission was hiding the study on purpose and cherry-picked the results they wanted to publish, by choosing only the results which supported their political agenda towards stricter copyright rules,” EDRi wrote.
Shortly after the information request by Reda, the EU elected to release the study to the public after all. “We understand that the Commission says that it is a complete coincidence that its decision to publish the study, a year and a half after it was finished, happens to coincide with Ms. Reda’s freedom of information request,” said EDRi.
It’s not surprising that piracy may be impacting sales less than before, considering that paid streaming and downloading have made it more economical for consumers to purchase content. That has resulted, for instance, in a music sale boom, with 2016 the best year since 2009, and 2017 looking even better. Yet, blockbuster films are still vulnerable to piracy. “This might be due to the higher price policy for films in comparison to the music, books and games industry,” the EDRi says.
Source: European Commission (PDF)
By Ben Keough
This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.
After 42 hours of research and testing over the past few years, we’ve found that the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS (or the IXUS 285 HS, outside the US) is the best cheap point-and-shoot camera. It produces crisper, clearer photos than even some more-expensive models, and fits better into tight jeans pockets. But before you buy one, you should ask yourself if you really need this camera or if you could just use your smartphone instead.
Can’t you just use your smartphone?
The cheap compact camera is on life support, facing an existential threat from ubiquitous smartphone cameras. In response, camera manufacturers have pruned their lineups to a startling degree. In years past we would see dozens of new models launched every year, but today, only a handful of models are available. If you’re already an avid smartphone shooter and you haven’t found yourself routinely wishing for a zoom lens, you probably don’t need a stand-alone camera—or at least not one this pared-down. You’d be much better off saving your money for something that provides a more noticeable improvement in image quality and features, such as the picks in our midrange point-and-shoot guide.
But a cheap dedicated camera can still make sense. Though the battery capacity of cheap compacts is necessarily limited by their svelte design, they’ll still last longer during a day of shooting than a smartphone that’s also in use for navigation, texting, and video chat. The low price of beginner-level compact models also means that if your camera is lost or damaged, it’s a lot less painful to fix or replace, making them a great choice for kids and tweens.
How we picked
Our test group included, from left to right, the Nikon Coolpix S7000, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS, and the Canon PowerShot SX620 HS. Photo: Ben KeoughK
If you’re looking to buy a cheap compact camera, you really have only a few choices from reputable brands. Former heavy hitters such as Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Samsung, and Sony have essentially given up on the category, leaving only the big two—Canon and Nikon—to duke it out. Still, these two brands make enough near-identical models that it can be hard for the average shopper to separate the wheat from the chaff. Here’s what we look for:
- A higher-end but slightly older model: A camera that’s been marked down from say, $300 to $200 will generally have better features than one that started at $200.
- An easy-to-use interface: Nothing turns off photography novices like complex control schemes.
- A Wi-Fi phone app: It should be simple to set up, and able to quickly and easily transfer images from your camera to your phone.
- A CMOS sensor: The older CCD sensors found in many budget cameras have worse low-light performance and are slower to take photos.
- A 10x (or greater) zoom and 1080p video recording
- Long battery life: You want one that will get you through at least an afternoon of shooting.
- Frustration-free performance: Does the camera produce sharp, detailed images? Does it focus quickly, with minimal delay between your pressing the shutter button and its taking the photo?
Photo: Ben Keough
For most people looking for a very inexpensive camera, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS (aka the IXUS 285 HS, outside the US) is the way to go. In good light it takes sharp, brightly colored photos with minimal effort, and it also produces reasonably clean low-light images. At about 1 inch thick and 5.2 ounces in weight, it’s easy to slip into your pants pocket, even in tight jeans. Canon also managed to stuff in an impressive 12x zoom.
The best thing about the 360 HS is its image quality. It produces crisp images with vibrant colors and keeps image noise to a manageable level up to about ISO 800 (even ISO 3200 is acceptable if you’re only posting photos to Facebook). Canon’s engineers have wisely set exposure parameters to prioritize faster shutter speeds in low light to avoid camera shake and blurry photos. Simply put, you can just turn this thing on, and most of the time it’ll take a good photo. Startup time—from when you hit the power button to when you take a shot—is brisk at just over 1 second. Autofocus is also speedy, which is important when you absolutely have to catch a shot.
Wi-Fi connectivity is now standard on cameras in this price range. The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS can connect directly to your computer, or you can use Canon’s free Camera Connect app (for iOS and Android) to create a link between your camera and a mobile device. From the phone, you can browse all of the images stored on the camera’s SD card and select which ones to copy over. You can also use the app for remote shooting, zooming the 360 HS’s lens, and triggering its shutter button from your phone.
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS, like any camera in this price range, has some shortcomings. That isn’t to say it’s a bad camera, but you do have to accept a series of trade-offs for something this inexpensive. The most obvious compromise is short battery life. The 360 HS is rated to shoot just 180 photographs on a full charge, which is substantially fewer than what you can get from a more full-featured compact camera. Its maximum burst speed of 2.5 frames per second is also pretty slow, even by cheap-compact-camera standards, so it will struggle to catch the action at, say, your kids’ weekend games.
Zoomier and longer-lasting, but more expensive
Photo: Ben KeoughK
If our main pick is out of stock, stepping up to the Canon PowerShot SX620 HS makes sense. Just be aware that this model is a slightly bigger, slightly heavier, and somewhat more expensive camera. Of course, you get some extra features in exchange for your extra dollars. The SX620 HS provides more than double the zoom of our top pick, along with significantly longer battery life.
On the downside, the SX620 HS’s shots are slightly fuzzier than the 360 HS’s in bright light. The two cameras use the same 20-megapixel CMOS sensor and DIGIC 4+ image processor, so we can attribute this difference only to the SX620 HS’s more ambitious 25x zoom lens. In lens design, it’s a truism that bigger zoom ratios amplify optical imperfections. But in dim conditions, the SX620 HS produces slightly better image quality, most likely thanks to its marginally wider aperture at both wide-angle (f/3.2 versus f/3.6) and full telephoto (f/6.6 versus f/7.0).
This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.
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Microsoft had a fun announcement this week. All Xbox 360-era Halo games, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo 4 and Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, are now backwards compatible for the Xbox One and Xbox One S. (Halo: Reach was already backwards compatible with the system). They aren’t yet playable yet on the Xbox One X, but it’s coming soon.
Earlier this summer, Microsoft made all Xbox 360-era Halo DLC free on the Xbox Store, so the release of these backwards-compatible games isn’t a big surprise. If you own these games digitally, you can download all of them from the Xbox Store, except for Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, which requires a disc (it will be available digitally soon). You can also play multiplayer with both Xbox 360 and Xbox One owners using your Live subscription; the Halo 3: Mythic disc can be used to play Halo 3 multiplayer as well.
Microsoft also teased the character Pavium from the Awakening the Nightmare expansion for Halo Wars 2. Pavium is a Banished Leader, along with his brother, Voridus. He’s a combat engineer, but hasn’t advanced through the ranks as quickly as he could have because of loyalty to his brother and clan. He’s armed with a Heavy Mortar System in combat, which means he can bombard his enemies. You can find out more about him at Halo Waypoint.
Source: Halo Waypoint
If you haven’t ever heard of Privacy Shield, it’s an agreement between the US and the EU. It allows companies that store personal data of people who reside in the EU (such as Facebook) on servers in the US, all while adhering to European standards for privacy protection. It replaced Safe Harbor last year, and the EU has been keeping an eye on it since mid-2016. Now, the first review of Privacy Shield has taken place. Despite behind-the-scenes dissatisfaction, both EU and US officials have stated their support for the framework in a joint statement. They also hope to further improve the agreement based on what the review found.
Criticisms for Privacy Shield have been broad. Safe Harbor was struck down back in 2015 by the European Court of Justice after Edward Snowden’s leak of classified NSA data. Companies like Twitter had to either store data locally or prove that they were adhering to EU privacy standards on US servers in regard to data protection. Critics have maintained that Privacy Shield has many of the same problems as Safe Harbor. And reportedly, EU officials were unhappy with the draft agreement.
That’s why the positivity of the official statement is surprising. According to The Register, the US has been stalling on provisions that would prohibit secretly sharing this user data with intelligence agencies. Additionally, its safeguard mechanisms are weak.
Privacy Shield does allow those whose data originates in the EU (not just its citizens) to complain if they feel their information isn’t being adequately protected. And now that the one-year review is over, you can bet that privacy groups will be keeping a close eye on what happens with the agreement. Despite the statement’s emphasis on the program’s success, it’s clear there’s still a long way to go.
Source: The Register, European Commission
What does an NBA champion and Finals MVP have in common with Taylor Swift? In the case of the Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant, it’s that internet trolls love calling them snakes. Swift earned that label last year after a feud with Kim Kardashian and husband Kanye West; for Durant, that scorn came after he decided to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder to join its main Western Conference rival, the Warriors. Since that day, July 4th, 2016, his mentions have been overtaken by angry basketball fans calling him a cupcake, coward, sellout, traitor and, yes, a snake. That’s right, a cupcake and a snake.
Durant has claimed that these negative interactions on Twitter and Instagram don’t bother him, but the evidence suggests otherwise. Earlier this week, a user sent him a tweet saying, “man I respect the hell outta you but give me one legitimate reason for leaving okc other than getting a championship.” Through his @KDTrey5 account,, Durant replied, “he didn’t like the organization or playing for Billy Donovan. His roster wasn’t that good it was just him and russ [Russell Westbrook].” In a separate tweet, he continued, “imagine taking russ off that team, see how bad they were. Kd can’t win a championship with those cats.”
KD has secret accounts that he uses to defend himself and forgot to switch to them when he was replying to this guy I’m actually speechless pic.twitter.com/9245gnpa3c
— 🐗 1-1 / ✭ 1-1 (@harrisonmc15) September 18, 2017
Given Durant’s history of not shrinking from confrontations with bitter OKC fans, who can’t get over the fact he became a free agent to go to the Warriors, his response wasn’t particularly newsworthy. What was surprising was how we defended himself in the third person. And although he hasn’t confirmed the existence of a burner Twitter account, all signs point toward that being the case. After all, this is a guy who once responded “your mother” when someone asked if he was softer than the football program at the University of Texas. Why, then, would he refer to himself as KD? Twitter users started wondering the same and it wasn’t long before Durant’s third-person tweets went viral.
Was he hacked? Have we reached peak Kevin Durant? Did someone from his entourage take it upon themselves to stand up for him? Or, did he simply have another account that he used to defend himself from time to time? As it turns out, Durant revealed at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference this week that it was indeed he who sent those tweets bashing his former team — but he didn’t explicitly say if he did that thinking he was using another account. “I use Twitter to engage with the fans,” he said. “But I happened to take it a little too far, that’s what happens sometimes when I get into these basketball debates. What I really love is to just play basketball, and I went a little too far.”
Apparently he’s so embarrassed that he hasn’t been able to sleep or eat since posting those tweets, so you know he definitely regrets not switching to his presumed ghost Twitter account. The thing is, Durant is already one of the most-hated men in the NBA, and this latest gaffe won’t help. Some of his peers have already started mercilessly mocking him on social media, making comical comments and creating hashtags like #burnertwitter. Thanks, Joel Embiid.
This is hardly the first time Durant has been roasted he’s endured regular backlash over the past year on Instagram and Twitter, platforms where he frequently engages with NBA fans. And by “engages,” I mean he’s not afraid to share his opinion with the world — even if, as mentioned earlier, sometimes it leads to “yo momma” jokes. Last month, another user sent him a tweet saying, “Never have someone like @KDTrey5 on ya team because they’ll switch up on you when they think times are rough.” Durant replied: “Cool, ill give u 30 if you don’t want me on your team chump.” Then there’s this one:
you must be a piece of 💩 if a dog chooses to live in the streets instead of your house
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) July 24, 2017
By now, the list of sour words used to describe Warriors-era Durant is so long and well-documented that his sponsor Nike actually designed a sneaker that reflects his meme status. Seriously, it’s called the KD 10 Finals, and it features a sole with text of all the bad things he was called during his first season in the Bay Area. “Cupcake,” “soft,” “sellout,” “snake,” “pathetic,” “can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” they’re all part of the shoe. The name-calling didn’t just come from the disappointed OKC faithful either, but also fans of other teams and even his ex-teammates. And it all seems to have caught up to him this week.
“I don’t regret clapping back at anybody or talking to my fans on Twitter,” he said at Disrupt, where he was on a panel discussing his investments in the tech industry. “I do regret using my former coach’s name, and my former organization that I played for. That was childish, that was idiotic, all those type of words. I regret doing that, and I apologized to them for doing that.” Durant says he will now “scale back” his social media usage and instead plans to focus more on playing basketball: “I want to move on from that. I was really upset with myself. I definitely want to move on and keep playing basketball. But I still want to interact with my fans as well.”
I do regret using my former coach’s name, and my former organization that I played for. That was childish, that was idiotic, all those type of words. I regret doing that, and I apologized to them for doing that.
As for Durant’s secret Twitter account, no one has been able to find it, meaning we may never know how many more times he had his own back. That’s a shame, really, because if it does exist there’s probably some clever stuff that we’ll forever miss out on. Either way, Durant’s actions showed that the adverse reaction from fans has, in fact, affected him. Otherwise why would he be out there with a fake Twitter account, defending himself from trolls?
Still, he’s lucky his situation is sports banter more than anything, not serious online abuse like other famous people have had to deal with in the past. Maybe Kanye West, Solange and Ed Sheeran have found the perfect formula to live a stress-free life: vanish from social media, even if it’s only temporary.
Amazon’s been getting into the food game for awhile now. After all, they’ve introduced Amazon Fresh and drive-through grocery pickup. And oh yeah, they acquired Whole Foods earlier this year. Clearly Amazon is serious about the food business; they’ve established their presence on the grocery side, but what about the restaurant/takeout side? While they’ve had the Amazon Restaurants delivery for awhile, it hasn’t exactly taken off. A new partnership with a company called Olo might help with that.
Olo is a digital platform that allows customers to order and pay for delivery and takeout food online. They focus on large restaurant brands and chains, with over 200 restaurants on their list that have a total of around 40,000 US locations. Their clients include Chipotle, Cold Stone Creamery, Five Guys and Jamba Juice. The value for Amazon here is that this partnership gives them potential access to the many different chain restaurants in Olo’s client base.
This agreement will allow Olo to continue handling the menu and ordering side of the equation, while Amazon Restaurants will take care of delivery. The real question is whether Olo’s customer base will want to work with Amazon. So far, the Italian chain Buca di Beppo is the only client cited in the press release that will be offering delivery through Amazon Restaurants. It remains to be seen whether this will pay off for Amazon, but it seems like a smart and relatively row-risk move for the online retail giant.
Source: Business Wire
iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X feature advanced cameras with a new Portrait Lighting feature that uses sophisticated algorithms to calculate how your facial features interact with light. That data is used to create lighting effects, such as Natural Light, Studio Light, Contour Light, and Stage Light.
In a new interview with BuzzFeed News reporter John Paczkowski, Apple says it studied the work of portrait photographers such as Richard Avedon, Annie Leibovitz, and Johannes Vermeer, a seventeenth-century Dutch painter, to learn how others have used lighting throughout history.
“We didn’t just study portrait photography. We went all the way back to paint,” said Apple’s marketing chief Phil Schiller.
“If you look at the Dutch Masters and compare them to the paintings that were being done in Asia, stylistically they’re different,” said Johnnie Manzari, a designer on Apple’s Human Interface Team. “So we asked why are they different? And what elements of those styles can we recreate with software?”
Apple said it took what it learned, went into its studio, and spent countless hours shining light on people from different angles.
“We spent a lot of time shining light on people and moving them around — a lot of time,” Manzari added. “We had some engineers trying to understand the contours of a face and how we could apply lighting to them through software, and we had other silicon engineers just working to make the process super-fast. We really did a lot of work.”
Schiller acknowledged that Apple aims to make a professional camera, ranked the best among smartphones in a recent review, but he added that the company also cares about what it can contribute to photography as a whole.
“We’re in a time where the greatest advances in camera technology are happening as much in the software as in the hardware,” Schiller said. “And that obviously plays to Apple’s strengths over traditional camera companies.”
Apple’s software advancements allow anyone to simply pick up an iPhone and capture a high-quality photo, eliminating the learning curve that can come with a high-end DSLR camera from the likes of Canon or Nikon.
“It’s all seamless; the camera just does what it needs to,” said Schiller. “The software knows how to take care of it for you. There are no settings.”
Both the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X rear cameras been advanced with larger, faster dual-lens sensors, new color filters, and deeper pixels. iPhone X also has optical image stabilization for both the wide-angle and telephoto lenses, the latter of which has a larger ƒ/2.4 aperture that lets more light in.
Read More: How Apple Built An iPhone Camera That Makes Everyone A Professional Photographer
Tags: Phil Schiller, Portrait Lighting
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There’s an Emergency SOS feature built into iOS 11 that has hidden functionality – it automatically disables Touch ID and makes it so your passcode has to be entered to unlock your iPhone.
Because it essentially shuts down the biometrics on your device, you can’t be compelled by a police officer or malicious person to unlock your iPhone with a fingerprint, nor can your fingerprint be used to get into your device should you be unconscious after an emergency.
Emergency SOS is enabled by default, and there’s only one step to activate it: Press on the sleep/wake (power) button of your iPhone five times in rapid succession. On the iPhone X, instead of pressing the sleep/wake button five times, you’ll hold the volume up and the side button on the device at the same time instead of pressing five times.
This gesture initiates a screen that gives you the option to power the iPhone off, make a call to emergency services, or access your Medical ID.
Though not expressly stated, once your iPhone is in this emergency state, Touch ID is disabled. You will, however, have to press the cancel button to get back to the Home screen, so it’s not an entirely secretive process.
If you’re using Emergency SOS to disable the lock screen and don’t want to set the feature up to automatically call 911 when the sleep/wake button is pressed, make sure to disable Auto Call in the Settings app. Here’s how:
Open the Settings app.
Scroll down to Emergency SOS.
Disable Auto Call.
With Auto Call disabled, pressing sleep/wake will bring up the aforementioned screen with the option to slide to make the emergency call. With Auto Call enabled, emergency services are called automatically when the sleep/wake button is pressed five times, following a five second countdown timer.
It’s best to leave Auto Call on if you want to be able to get in touch with emergency services immediately should you be in danger.
While this feature was likely built to keep your iPhone secure in a situation where you might be incapacitated, it can also prevent authority figures from forcing you to unlock your device.
This is notable because there have been legal rulings where a defendant has been compelled to provide a fingerprint, but not a passcode. Most people will never need to disable Touch ID, but it’s worth knowing the option is there should there be a situation where it is necessary.
Related Roundup: iOS 11
Tags: Touch ID, Face ID
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Target Begins Notifying Some Apple Watch Series 3 Pre-Order Customers That Shipments Will Be Delayed
Target customers this morning began pointing out on Twitter, through tipster emails, and in our forums that their Apple Watch Series 3 orders have been delayed, unfortunately mirroring similar events that plagued many Target pre-order customers for the Series 2 model last year. The affected users were originally promised a delivery window surrounding today’s launch day, or soon after, and Target has now pushed some orders back by weeks, landing between October 10 and October 13 for a few customers.
Target hasn’t officially yet commented on the shipping delays. All customers affected appear to have pre-ordered the Series 3 device on or around September 15 (the first date they were available to pre-order), and were subsequently given delivery estimates for today’s launch or early next week. One customer has canceled their Target order and ordered the Apple Watch Series 3 from Best Buy, with a delivery estimate of next week on Tuesday, September 26.
Last year both Target and Best Buy delayed the orders of many customers’ Apple Watch Series 2 devices, and both companies ended up offering affected users a $50 gift card to use at each respective retailer’s physical or online store. If delays are widespread again this year, it’s possible that Target will offer some kind of compensation for those suffering from Series 3 delays.
@MacRumors Looks like Target didn’t learn their lesson from Series 2. Bunch of us who preordered Series 3 got delay emails this morning.
— Dima Spivak (@dimaspivak) September 22, 2017
Target explained in 2016 that it was facing delays in receiving Series 2 models from Apple at the time, leading to inventory shortages and slipping delivery estimates. When and if Target comments on the matter, we’ll update this article with any new information.
Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)
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