Interactive Spooky Halloween Cat

As we approach the end of October, the spooky Halloween energy is starting to find its way into my world. I’m not much of a Halloween-er myself, but I have always felt that Halloween is an excellent excuse to show off your killer maker skills, creativity and maybe even scare some folks. This week I made a little interactive Halloween decoration that activates when someone walks by.

My Interactive Spooky Halloween Cat consists of a plastic skeleton cat I found at Michaels and an enclosure that I laser cut from black acrylic. Inside the enclosure is a SparkFun BlackBoard as the brains of the project, an Ultrasonic Sensor for distance sensing, a Qwiic MP3 Trigger Board to add some hissing sound effects, a small hamburger speaker for the sound, a small servo motor to create motion in the cat’s jaw, 16 WS2812 LEDs to create the red light and a small breadboard to make the circuit building quick and easy. A full list of parts used in this project can be found here.

interactive halloween cat

Let's take a look at how this project interacts with the world around it. When a user enters within 100 cm of the ultrasonic sensor, the skeleton and eye sockets light up, it makes a loud, angry hissing sound, and the jaw begins moving up and down.

In order to accomplish this interaction (in addition to the circuitry described further down), the servo motor is connected to a clear strand of fishing line tied to the bottom of the cat’s jaw bone, so when the servo pulls back, the jaw opens up. I also added some white elastic tied to the top and bottom part of the jaw, kind of like a rubber band on braces, ensuring the jaw closes when the servo pushes back forward. I cut small sound holes in the enclosure above where the speaker is to get the best out of the sound.

I also made some modifications to the WS2812 LEDs. First, I cut two individual LEDs from the strip and soldered them together with hook-up wire at a distance of about one half-inch. Then, I connected these via hook-up wire to the remaining 14 LEDs on the rest of the strip. I unscrewed the cat’s skull to remove it from the body and open it up, then carefully drilled holes in the eye sockets, behind which I glued my two individual LEDs. Then I put the head back together and onto on the rest of the skeleton. Finally, I carefully hot glued the remainder of the LEDs down the inside of the cat's spine.

Below is a photograph of the circuit I used in this project. Because some of the parts I used are not available for frtizing diagrams, and because it is hard to see all the connections, I created the table below the image to outline each connection used in this project.

interactive cat circuit

WS2812 Strip VCC 5V on SparkFun BlackBoard
WS2812 GND GND on SparkFun Black Board
WS2812 DIN Pin 6 on SparkFun BlackBoard
Small Servo VCC 5V on the SparkFun BlackBoard
Small Servo GND GND on SparkFun BlackBoard
Small Servo Data Pin Pin 9 on SparkFun BlackBoard
UltraSonic Sensor GND GND on SparkFun BlackBoard
UltraSonic Sensor VCC 5V on the SparkFun BlackBoard
UltraSonic Sensor Echo Pin Pin 12 on SparkFun BlackBoard
UltraSonic Sensor Trig Pin Pin 13 on SparkFun BlackBoard
Qwiic MP3 Trigger Connect to Qwiic connector on SpakrFun BlackBoard via Qwiic Cable
Hamburger Speaker Jack Audio Jack on Qwiic MP3 trigger

My program for this project can be found below. You will notice there are two programs included. The first is the program specific for this project’s interaction. The second is written for interfacing with the MP3 Trigger Shield and should be pasted into a second tab in your Arduino IDE. The MP3 Trigger code has all been picked up from Nate’s example code for this board, which allowed me to add sound incredibly easily!

Interaction Code:

/*Interactive Halloween Cat Sketch by Melissa Felderman for SparkFun Electrnoics October 2018
MP3 trigger control taken from example code by Nathan Seidle: */ #include <Adafruit_NeoPixel.h>
#include <Wire.h>
#include <Servo.h> byte mp3Address = 0x37; //Unshifted 7-bit default address for Qwiic MP3 #define PIN 6
#define numPix 16
#define trigPin 13
#define echoPin 12 bool state = true; Servo myservo;
Adafruit_NeoPixel strip = Adafruit_NeoPixel(numPix, PIN, NEO_GRB + NEO_KHZ800); void setup() { Serial.begin(9600); pinMode(trigPin, OUTPUT); pinMode(echoPin, INPUT); Wire.begin(); strip.begin(); myservo.attach(9); myservo.write(180); mp3ChangeVolume(31); //Volume can be 0 (off) to 31 (max)
} void loop() { long duration, distance; digitalWrite(trigPin, LOW); // Added this line delayMicroseconds(2); // Added this line digitalWrite(trigPin, HIGH); // delayMicroseconds(1000); - Removed this line delayMicroseconds(10); // Added this line digitalWrite(trigPin, LOW); duration = pulseIn(echoPin, HIGH); distance = (duration / 2) / 29.1; if (distance < 100) { // This is where the LED On/Off happens mp3PlayTrack(1); for (int i = 0; i < numPix; i++) { strip.setPixelColor(i, 255, 0, 0); }; for (int i = 0; i < 8; i++){ myservo.write(90); delay(1000); myservo.write(180); delay(1000); } } else { for (int i = 0; i < numPix; i++) { strip.setPixelColor(i, 0, 0, 0); }; myservo.write(180); } if (distance >= 100 || distance <= 0) { Serial.println("Out of range"); } else { Serial.print(distance); Serial.println(" cm"); } delay(500);

MP3 Trigger Code by Nate:

//These are the commands we can send
#define COMMAND_STOP 0x00
#define COMMAND_PLAY_TRACK 0x01 //Play a given track number like on a CD: regardless of file names plays 2nd file in dir.
#define COMMAND_PLAY_FILENUMBER 0x02 //Play a file # from the root directory: 3 will play F003xxx.mp3
#define COMMAND_PAUSE 0x03 //Will pause if playing, or starting playing if paused
#define COMMAND_PLAY_NEXT 0x04
#define COMMAND_SET_EQ 0x06
#define COMMAND_GET_SONG_COUNT 0x08 //Note: This causes song to stop playing
#define COMMAND_GET_SONG_NAME 0x09 //Fill global array with 8 characters of the song name
#define COMMAND_SET_ADDRESS 0xC7 //Checks the status of the player to see if MP3 is playing
//Returns true if song is playing
boolean mp3IsPlaying()
{ mp3Command(COMMAND_GET_PLAY_STATUS); delay(20); //Give the QMP3 time to get the status byte from MP3 IC before we ask for it //01: play, 02: stop, 03: pause byte playStatus = mp3GetResponse(); if(playStatus == 0x01) return(true); return(false);
} //Plays a given track number
//Think of this like a CD. The user can arrange the order of MP3s
//however. playTrack(4) will play whatever is in the 4th file.
void mp3PlayTrack(byte trackNumber)
{ mp3Command(COMMAND_PLAY_TRACK, trackNumber); //Play track } //Plays a file that has been named specifically. //For example: passing in 6 will play F006xxx.mp3
void mp3PlayFile(byte fileNumber)
{ mp3Command(COMMAND_PLAY_FILENUMBER, fileNumber); //Play file number } //Stop playing the current track
void mp3Stop()
{ mp3Command(COMMAND_STOP);
} //Change the equalizer to one of 6 types
void mp3ChangeEQ(byte eqType)
{ //0-normal, 1-pop, 2-rock, 3-jazz, 4-classical, 5-bass mp3Command(COMMAND_SET_EQ, eqType); //Change equalizer to bass
} //Get the current status of the Qwiic MP3
byte mp3Status()
{ return(mp3GetResponse());
} //Checks to see if MP3 player has a valid SD card
boolean mp3HasCard()
{ mp3Command(COMMAND_GET_CARD_STATUS); delay(20); //Give the QMP3 time to get the status byte from MP3 IC before we ask for it return(mp3GetResponse());
} //Get the 8 characters of the song currently playing
String mp3SongName()
{ String thisSongName = ""; mp3Command(COMMAND_GET_SONG_NAME); delay(50); //Give the QMP3 time to get the name from MP3 IC before we ask for it Wire.requestFrom(mp3Address, 8); //Song names are max 8 chars while(Wire.available()) { thisSongName += (char); } return(thisSongName);
} //Get the number of songs on the SD card (in root and subfolders)
//Limited to 255
byte mp3SongCount()
{ mp3Command(COMMAND_GET_SONG_COUNT); //Get current song count delay(50); //Give the QMP3 time to get the count from MP3 IC before we ask for it return(mp3GetResponse());
} //Change volume to zero (off) to 31 (max)
void mp3ChangeVolume(byte volumeLevel)
{ mp3Command(COMMAND_SET_VOLUME, volumeLevel); //Change volume
} //Play the next track
//Think of this like a CD. The audio files can be in any order. The user
//sets the file order. This plays the next one.
void mp3PlayNext()
{ mp3Command(COMMAND_PLAY_NEXT);
} //Play the previous track
//Think of this like a CD. The audio files can be in any order. The user
//sets the file order. This plays the previous one.
void mp3PlayPrevious()
} //Checks to see if Qwiic MP3 is responding over I2C
boolean mp3IsPresent()
{ Wire.beginTransmission(mp3Address); if (Wire.endTransmission() != 0) return(false); //Sensor did not ACK return(true);
} //Pause a currently playing song, or begin playing if current track is paused
boolean mp3Pause()
{ mp3Command(COMMAND_PAUSE);
} //Change the I2C address
//If you forget what address you've set the QMP3 to then close the
//ADR jumper. This will force the I2C address to 0x36
boolean mp3ChangeAddress(byte address)
{ mp3Command(COMMAND_SET_ADDRESS, address); mp3Address = address; //Change the global variable to match the new address
} //Send command to Qwiic MP3 with options
boolean mp3Command(byte command, byte option)
{ Wire.beginTransmission(mp3Address); Wire.write(command); Wire.write(option); if (Wire.endTransmission() != 0) return(false); //Sensor did not ACK return(true);
} //Send just a command to Qwiic MP3
boolean mp3Command(byte command)
{ Wire.beginTransmission(mp3Address); Wire.write(command); if (Wire.endTransmission() != 0) return(false); //Sensor did not ACK return(true);
} //Ask for a byte from Qwiic MP3
//The response depends on what the last command was
//It is often the system status but can be song count or volume level
byte mp3GetResponse()
{ Wire.requestFrom(mp3Address, 1); if (Wire.available()) return (; Serial.println("Error: Sensor did not respond"); return(0);
} //Returns the firmware version as a float
float mp3GetVersion()
{ mp3Command(COMMAND_GET_VERSION); Wire.requestFrom(mp3Address, 2); //2 bytes for Version if (Wire.available() == 0) return 0; float versionNumber =; versionNumber += (float) / 10.0; return (versionNumber);

I hope you enjoyed reading about this project and that it inspired you to get spooky with your projects this Halloween. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Microsoft Showcases New AI Products at Ignite 2018

The cloud and AI are two of the biggest growth areas in technology. Combining the two is big business, and Microsoft is right at the forefront as always. As migration towards cloud-based apps continues, the role of AI in the delivery and deployment of services is likewise gathering pace. With big names like Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services breathing down its neck, Microsoft is eager to demonstrate that it is still a market leader in developing technology. It took the opportunity at its recent Ignite conference to do just that. Original Link

Wildlife photography prize goes to stunning picture of golden monkeys

Hellbenders, vampire finches, and mud-daubers were among animals depicted in winning photographs in the 2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition Original Link

NASA astronaut still confident in Soyuz after launch abort

Hague Ovchinin

WASHINGTON — The NASA astronaut who was on the aborted Soyuz mission to the International Space Station says he has “complete confidence” in the Russians despite this launch failure and other problems, and looks forward to flying again on the spacecraft.

In his first public interviews since the aborted flight of the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft Oct. 11, Nick Hague described the “one wild ride” he had on that flight, which he said reinforced his belief that the spacecraft is safe.

“In terms of whether I have second thoughts about the Soyuz, this has only helped to solidify my appreciation for how robust that system is,” he said during a series of interviews Oct. 16 with preselected media broadcast on NASA TV. During the interviews he expressed thanks multiple times to the thousands of people who work on the Soyuz spacecraft, in particular its launch escape system that pulled the spacecraft from its launch vehicle during last week’s accident.

Neither that accident nor the discovery in August of a small hole in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft currently docked to the International Space Station, both of which are under investigation by the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos, have shaken Hague’s confidence in the spacecraft. “I have no reason to doubt their ability to find solutions to these problems,” he said. “I’ve got complete confidence in them being able to deliver.”

Hague said that nothing appeared to be amiss with the launch for the first two minutes after the Soyuz rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. “It was right after the first staging, when the boosters started to separate, it went from ‘normal’ to ‘something was wrong’ pretty quick,” he recalled.

The automated abort system for the Soyuz spacecraft activated and pulled the spacecraft away from the booster, he said, so that he and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin were “shaken fairly violently, side to side” for a moment as the abort motors burned. Only after the abort system pulled the Soyuz away, he said, did warning lights indicating a booster failure turn on in the capsule.

At that moment, he recalled, “it was a pretty crystal-clear realization that we weren’t going to make it to orbit that day.”

For the rest of the suborbital flight of the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft, Hague said he focused on carrying out the procedures for such an abort that he and Ovchinin had trained for. “What kicks in is the training,” he said. “The thing that I can do to help us get down on the ground as safe as possible is try to stay as calm and as focused as I can, and do the things that I need to do to make us be successful.”

While this was his first spaceflight, he noted he’s had experience in other emergency situations. “It’s not the first high-pressure situation that I’ve been in. I think that’s something that my background has helped prepare me for this moment,” said Hague, a U.S. Air Force pilot whose career included flying combat missions in Iraq.

Only after the capsule landed safely in the Kazakh steppes downrange from Baikonur was he able to “take a deep breath” and reflect on the experience. He and Ovchinin were also finally able to relax, despite being upside down inside the capsule. “We had grins from ear to ear,” he said. “He holds out a hand, I shake his hand, and then we start cracking a few jokes between us about how short our flight was.”

Hague said he was still interested in going to the ISS and expected a flight opportunity, but no decisions have been made about when that would take place. Russian officials have suggested that Hague and Ovchinin could fly as soon as next spring.

For now, he said he’s taking time off to spend with his family, talking with them about the experience and his future plans. He said he expected an assignment from NASA’s Astronaut Office next week on near-term work pending a new mission to the station.

“I really don’t have any clue” about when he might get another trip to the station, he said. “I feel really fortunate to be able to walk away from an incident like that with barely a bump or a bruise. I feel in good shape and I’m ready to get back in it, so I’m here and ready to go when I’m called upon.”

Original Link

Zoom Taps Cable Industry Vet as President & COO

Joseph Wytanis is late of AT&T, Nortel, S-A, Cisco Systems, SMC Networks and Infosys. Original Link

IBM 3Q Revenue $18.8B, Down 2%

IBM’s long revenue decline is back. Original Link

Comcast Scares Up Promo to Highlight Whole-Home WiFi

Will use its line of WiFi routers and extenders to eliminate ‘dead zones’ at purported haunted house. Original Link

Collaboration seeks to simplify large-scale IoT device onboarding

Semiconductor industry powerhouses aim to reduce the complexity associated with the onboarding process for IoT devices. Original Link

Toolset to adds AI support to SoC debugging

Designing a complex SoC is hard enough. The job gets tougher, with higher costs and arduous process of the validation and verification, after the SoC comes back from a fab, according to UltraSoC CEO. Original Link

AI software development environment targets edge devices

There is the growing realization that AI at the edge will require even more processing than anticipated, observed Geoff Lees, NXP’s senior vice president. He hinted, Don’t be surprised that NXP is ready with a GHz MCU for a 2019 launch. Original Link

Antenna builder ThinKom makes push for constellation market

ThinKom antennas

WASHINGTON — ThinKom’s recent collaborations with satellite operators Telesat and SES have the antenna builder jockeying to compete with Viasat, Isotropic Systems and others in the race to build affordable high-tech antennas that can link with satellite constellations in non-geosynchronous orbits.

Hawthorne, California-based ThinKom tested a phased array antenna with SES in August, practicing links with O3b satellites in medium Earth orbit as they rose over the horizon and then tracking them for 30 minutes each. Last month, ThinKom and Telesat announced plans to test an antenna with a Telesat prototype satellite in low Earth orbit (LEO) and to collaborate on business-grade terminals for Telesat’s planned 120-satellite LEO constellation.

Satellite operators and constellation ventures that want to offer broadband from space are increasingly focused on low-cost, flat-panel antennas that can track satellites in different orbits and support more throughput for higher data speeds than traditional dish antennas. The absence of such flat-panel antennas, as constellations start launching and high-throughput geostationary satellites grow in number, has satellite operators “all pretty much desperate to see somebody bring a solution to market,” according to Chris Quilty, president of Quilty Analytics.

“That’s why the Inmarsats, SESs and Intelsats of the world have been investors in companies like Kymeta and Phasor, because they need to see these products to come to market,” he said.

ThinKom is best known for its ThinAir Ku3030 antennas that inflight connectivity provider Gogo builds into its 2Ku airplane Wi-Fi terminals. ThinKom also builds enterprise antennas for customers in defense, oil and gas, and other markets.

Bill Milroy, ThinKom’s chairman and chief technical officer, said his company intends to use the same phased array technology it has used for antennas on aircraft and other “on the move” platforms to create lower cost antennas for the non-geosynchronous-orbit constellation market.

In an interview, Milroy said he is cautiously optimistic about new satellite constellations, believing one or more new systems will be successful.

ThinKom has been burned once by constellation hype. In 2000, when the company was founded, its first contract was with Teledesic, a large constellation venture that collapsed three years later.

“We never got a dime out of them,” Milroy said. “We won the consumer premises equipment deal with Teledesic just as the wheels were coming off.”

Milroy said ThinKom is in discussions with another LEO satellite program for consumer terminals that would be significantly cheaper than those in the works for Telesat and SES, but declined to give names.

SES is attempting to cultivate commercially viable flat-panel antennas for O3b mPower, its next-generation constellation, having contracted with Viasat, Alcan Systems and Isotropic Systems last year to build electronically steered antennas. Though not included in that list, ThinKom has every intention “to make sure our terminal is mPower capable,” Milroy said.

“It would be dumb for us not to,” he said.

ThinKom’s approach differs from SES’s other three partners in that its antennas don’t use electronic steering, despite being relatively flat. The aeronautical antenna it is testing with SES is 20 centimeters thick and uses mechanical systems to track satellites.

Milroy said mechanical steering has the advantage of being able to link with satellites very close to the horizon — its O3b test closed links 13 degrees above the ground — but can be slow when switching links from one satellite to another. Whereas a ThinKom antenna requires around half a second to switch satellites, an electronically steered antenna has the potential to switch in microseconds, he said.

Quilty said the ability of ThinKom antennas to maintain links with satellites so close to the horizon is noteworthy compared to electronically steered antennas since the sharper the angle, the harder it is for them to stay connected.

ThinKom is targeting $10,000 for enterprise, or business-grade, terminals. Milroy said he envisions reaching volumes of around 10,000 or more enterprise terminals a year for Telesat, providing enough scale to keep prices low.

For consumer terminals, ThinKom is targeting “sub-$1,000” prices. Whether that will be low enough for commercial success is still to be determined. Quilty said consumer prices will need to be “way lower,” to make an impact.

“For a consumer terminal to be affordable with subsidization and volume, I would say sub-$500 at least,” he said.  

OneWeb and SpaceX have both mentioned consumer satellite broadband as a target market for their constellations of thousands of satellites.

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Ethereum Foundation Issues $3 Million in New Grants

Ethereum Foundation Grants Program

The Ethereum Foundation has awarded a total of $2.86 million to 20 different projects in Wave IV of its Grant Program.

Announced at the beginning of 2018, the foundation began the new year with a resolution to fund promising projects that develop on Ethereum. Since the program’s launch, the foundation has committed over $14 million to 72 projects, the majority of which has gone to startups focused on scaling, with security and user experience receiving the next most in funding.

The latest wave of capital allocation keeps with the familiar theme of scalability, though it also concentrates almost equally on developer experience projects. Securing $500,000, Status’ Nimbus, an Ethereum 2.0 sharding client, is tied alongside Prysmatic Labs’ Eth 2.0 Prysm client for attracting the most funding. These two are followed by the $420,000 accrued by Spankchain, Kyokan and Connext for a collective project, originally unveiled at DevCon 4, focused on a non-custodial payment channel. To the tune of $375,000, the third largest grant was awarded to Prototypal​​ for “[front-end] state channel research and development.”

Honorable mentions include the $250,000 allocated to Finality Labs​​’ work on forward-time locked contracts (FTLC) and with a like amount given to Kyokan to develop cash and debit plugins for Plasma, an Ethereum payment channel solution in the same vein as Lightning.

For developer experience, TrueBlocks secured $120,000 to create an open source block explorer, and Gitcoin​​ received $100,000 to kickstart bounty funding on its platform.

In the original post that unveils the program, Vitalik Buterin stresses that “[these] payments are NOT intended to be sources of substantial profit to recipient organizations; they are rather intended to cover some of the costs involved, with the understanding that anyone who participates in the scheme will have access to a unique opportunity to participate in Ethereum 2.0 development.” Outside of an infusion of capital, this “unique opportunity” includes working closely with Ethereum’s core research and development team.

At the end of each grant update, the foundation provides a wish list for the projects it’s looking to fund in the future. At the top of the Wave IV list, the foundation calls for more payment/state channel solutions, Plasma development, smart contract auditing, intuitive wallet designs, key management software and privacy solutions, among others.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Huobi Joins OKEx, Adds Four New Stablecoins

Huobi stablecoins

Huobi Global has announced its decision to list four USD-pegged stablecoins by the end of the week.

In a support notice published on its platform, the company noted that users will be able to make deposits for Paxos Standard Token (PAX), True USD (TUSD), Circle’s (USDC), and Gemini exchange’s (GUSD) on its exchange starting from Friday, October 19, 2018 (GMT +8).

That was as much detail as the exchange revealed, as it says further information for when trading would start on the exchange will be announced at a later date. Huobi is the fifth largest digital currency exchange and is currently the ninth largest market for Tether, according to data from CoinMarketCap.

Huobi becomes the latest top 10 crytpocurrency exchange to add new stablecoins as uncertainty continues to mar Tether’s market reputation. OKEx took the same step by adding the aforementioned tokens to its listed assets yesterday. Tether, the world’s largest stablecoin, lost its peg in the early hours of October 15, 2018, causing major price discrepancies between bitcoin’s BTC/USDT and BTC/USD trading pairs across the market.

While uncertainty persists regarding Tether’s USD holdings, Leonardo Real, Tether’s chief compliance officer, in an email response to CNBC, believes the current happenings in the market are no cause for alarm.

“We would like to reiterate that although markets have shown temporary fluctuations in price, all USDT in circulation are sufficiently backed by U.S. dollars (USD) and that assets have always exceeded liabilities,” he added.

At press time, Tether is trading at $0.98, tied to bitcoin trading pairs. Against the USD on Kraken and Bittrex, it is trading at $0.95 and $0.96, respectively.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Father’s nicotine use affects future generations

Mouse study implicates epigenetic changes in paternal sperm DNA. Nick Carne reports. Original Link

Nicotine exposure in male mice may trigger ADHD in their offspring

Mice are more active and have attention problems if their fathers had nicotine in their diet, perhaps because the chemical triggers epigenetic changes in sperm Original Link

New UN IPCC Report Confirms Vital Role of Forests as Essential Climate Change Solution

A new report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forwarded the need to protect and restore forests just two weeks after more than 200 organizations, scientists and elected officials released the #Stand4Forests platform in the United States. The newly released platform aligned with the IPCC report in demanding the protection of forests as a vital climate solution and warned against false techno-solutions like bio-energy carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

“Climate science shows that we cannot stop a climate catastrophe without scaling up the protection of forests around the world, including in the United States. Therefore, the U.S. must be a global leader in not only committing to phase out fossil fuel use but also in protecting our forests,” says the platform, which was released in between California’s Global Climate Action Summit and New York’s Climate Week. Signatories include 40 mayors from coast to coast; organizations such as Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, NRDC and Sierra Club; and leading climate scientists and advocates including Bill McKibben and Michael Mann.

“The IPCC report confirmed what we have been collectively saying for years, that forests are our best defense against climate change and that we need to join together to keep them standing,” said Danna Smith, Executive Director of Dogwood Alliance, a North Carolina-based forest protection organization and principal organizer of the Platform. “Living forests are our best hope for removing carbon from the atmosphere; and yet the rate of forest destruction from logging in this country is among the highest on Earth. To avoid climate catastrophe, we must take immediate steps to protect our forests.”

The new IPCC report found that a goal of keeping the Earth’s temperature rise 1.5 degrees is vital for protecting the planet, and the goal of 2 degrees set forth in Paris will not go far enough to prevent climate disaster. This year, the recorded amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 411 parts per million (ppm)—well beyond the 350 ppm that climate scientists deemed safe for humans.


Original Link

Service Providers Should Adapt to Open Source World

Four operator executives say open source solves more problems than it causes, and that CSPs need to get with the program. Original Link

AT&T Readies More High-Band 5G Tests as Mobile Launch Nears

The operator, however, is still planning to use fixed mmWave 5G basestations for its tests in Atlanta, Hawaii, and – most probably – Los Angeles. Original Link

Let’s embrace the joy of moonmoons and more playful scientific terms

Some say the astronomical term moonmoon makes light of a serious field of study, but it seems a shame to abandon it for po-faced alternatives Original Link

Clean Data: A Prerequisite for Business Success

A lot of businesses these days are trying to incorporate data-driven decision making into their processes, and for good reason. Making better decisions depends on having all the relevant information, and putting it to good use. But in the rush to put data to use, an important concern often falls by the wayside: ensuring that the data is high quality.

Today, we’ll take a look at a critical concern when incorporating more data into your decision making workflow, namely how to ensure that your data is high quality enough to point you in the right direction. In most cases, a few simple tweaks or best practices are enough to take your inputs and transform them into a cleaned-up data set that you can rely on.

Original Link

Reshape Blockchain Security With BlockSafe Technologies – [BTC Media Sponsor]

BlockSafe Thumb

In today’s
rapidly advancing world of blockchain innovation, it’s no secret that cryptocurrency
wallets, exchanges and enterprise platforms are targets for nefarious activity.
Underscoring this threat are three notable hacks and accompanying losses for
investors in recent history: Mt. Gox (650,000 BTC lost), Bitfinex (120,000 BTC
lost) and DAO Ethereum ($50 million lost). 

At the epicenter
of efforts to thwart the proliferation of these intrusions is BlockSafe Technologies. A U.S. company with headquarters in Edison, New Jersey, BlockSafe is a subsidiary company of StrikeForce
Technologies, Inc.,
a leading cybersecurity solutions provider for corporations,
government agencies and consumers that has been in business over 18 years. 

According to
BlockSafe, most hacks involve wallets compromised by malware, where keyloggers
are used to obtain secret codes and clipboard information is used to redirect
destination addresses. Once a wallet has been hacked, getting money returned or
even the prospect of legal recourse has always proven next to impossible. 

employs a multipronged approach that locks down the decentralized ecosystem
along the three primary exposure points of wallets, exchanges and private
blockchains. Through a comprehensive set of solutions, BlockSafe provides a
stable approach for today’s topsy-turvy blockchain ecosystem at its two highest
on-ramps of vulnerability: user authentication and interaction. 

1.     Wallet Security

BlockSafe’s CryptoDefender product includes two versions, one for desktop and one
for mobile, to ensure device protection. It accomplishes this by proactively
mitigating keylogging malware, which is often the source of crypto
wallet credential theft. Available on both Android and iOS devices, it also
includes a password vault, secure browser, two-factor authentication and strong
password generator.

2.     Exchange

BlockSafe’s ExchangeDefender consists of two product features — CryptoDefender, as well as
ProtectID, which protects the computers and mobile devices involved in the

Blockchain Security

BlockSafe’s BlockchainDefender serves as an interchange between applications and private
blockchains. Data fields are scanned for malware, and transactions are
authenticated via ProtectID.

According to BlockSafe CEO George
Waller, $9 million is stolen from crypto wallets every day.

“They are an easy target for
hackers,” he said. “When money is stolen from a user’s wallet, it’s gone. There
is no one to call because there’s no one regulating it.” 

Because of the skyrocketing
growth of blockchains and cryptocurrencies, Waller said that the team at BlockSafe
began looking at vulnerabilities across the ecosystem. It was here where they
began to realize that three areas (wallets, exchanges and blockchains) all have
major vulnerabilities. 

“That’s what led us to open up
and dedicate a company exclusively to the security concerns facing crypto
wallets, exchanges and private blockchains,” Waller said. “We’re dedicated 100
percent to just protecting this ecosystem.”  

He also noted that if you look at the non-crypto world in the last
seven years, over 90 percent of attacks throughout the world are malware and
spyware related. 

“Thieves just don’t decide they want to be in a network and get
in,” he said. “Rather, they have to use brute force and steal credentials and
stuff like that.” 

This, said Waller, is where malware comes in.

“They use it to steal your credentials and to log themselves in,”
he explained. “About 95 percent of the time with that malware, a keylogger was
at least one of the components used to facilitate the breach —what we call a
‘malware cocktail.’ So, as cryptocurrency started to grow quickly over the past
few years, the hackers started turning their attention to using this same malware
with other components, to steal from user wallets and their phones.”   

The good news, according to Waller, is that BlockSafe
Technologies’ parent company, StrikeForce Technologies, has dedicated the past 18
years to helping people protect what they do.

“We live, eat and breathe cyber,” Waller said. “That is all we do;
we do cyber and nothing else.” 

Dean Anastos, founder and CEO of, a
company specializing in token creation, smart contracts and crowdsale services
on the Ethereum blockchain, is adding his own expertise to the efforts of
BlockSafe Technologies.

“We have been assisting George and
his group over the past year or so in getting his

STO [security token offering] project
off the ground,” Anastos said. “They have a very interesting technology that
seeks to basically protect individuals from getting their crypto stolen. It is
a genius idea, and they have a patent on it.”

With help from,
BlockSafe is conducting a security token offering and creating a
revenue-generation token.

“Right now, what we are very concerned about from the perspective
of crypto is minimizing the barriers of mass adoption into this industry,”
Waller said. “Because if malware really starts to reap the benefits of what
malware does, it is going to prevent mass adoption. We see the value of
blockchain technology, but we also know from 18 years of experience how hackers
steal. So, we want to protect the wallets, protect the exchanges and protect
private blockchains. That’s where we are laser-focused at the moment.”

Note: Trading and
investing in digital assets is speculative and can be high risk. Based on the
shifting business and regulatory environment of such a new industry, this
content should not be considered investment or legal advice.

This promoted article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Original Link

How acting as Carrie Fisher’s puppet made a career for Rogue One’s Princess Leia

“Ghost acting” is helping young actors build careers beyond their 15 minutes of fame Original Link

Actors are digitally preserving themselves to continue their careers beyond the grave

Improvements in CGI mean neither age nor death need stop some performers from working. Original Link

Making games like Red Dead Redemption 2 shouldn’t be such hard work

Reports that 2018’s blockbuster video game saw people working 100-hour weeks are troubling, given that tech firms could make workers’ lives easier, says Michael Cook Original Link

Automation’s Double-Edged Sword Demands Sharpening of Skillsets

At the NFV & Carrier SDN event in Denver, Women in Comms panelists examined the impact of automation on women in the tech and communications industries. Original Link

Rising sea levels threaten Mediterranean world heritage sites

Modelling produces worrying results, but solutions can be found. Andrew Masterson reports. Original Link

Lucy Hawking exclusive: My father was the gravity holding us in orbit

On the publication of Stephen Hawking’s final book, his daughter Lucy Hawking reflects on their shared experiences and coming to terms with his death Original Link

Show your support for Firefox with new badges

Firefox is only as strong as its passionate users. Because we’re independent, people need to make a conscious choice to use a non-default browser on their system. We’re most successful when happy users tell others about an alternative worth trying.

A laptop showing a website with a Firefox badge

If you’re a Firefox user and want to show your support, we’ve made a collection of badges you can add to your website to tell users, “I use Firefox, and you should too!”

You can browse the badges and grab the code to display them on a dedicated microsite we’ve built, so there’s no need to download them (though you’re welcome to if you want). Images are hosted on a Mozilla CDN for convenience and performance only. We do no tracking of traffic to the CDN. We’ll be adding more badges as time goes on as well.

So whether you’re excited to use a browser from a non-profit with a mission to build a better Internet, or just think Firefox is a kick-ass product, we’d love for you to spread the word.

Thank you for your support!

The post Show your support for Firefox with new badges appeared first on Mozilla Hacks – the Web developer blog.

Original Link

The Podcast: Innovation, OTTs & the Smart Home

This week Jamie and Scott are joined by Mary Clark or, as her friends like to call her, “Madame Syn.” Original Link

Canonical Announces Partnership with Eurotech, the Big Four to End Support of TLS 1.0 and 1.1, Sony Using Blockchain for DRM, NETWAYS Web Services Launches IaaS OpenStack, Grey Hat Patching MikroTik Routers and Paul Allen Dies at 65

News briefs for October 16, 2018.

announced a partnership with Eurotech
to help organizations
advance in the IoT realm. In connection with this partnership, Canonical “has published a Snap for the Eclipse Kura project—the
popular, open-source Java-based IoT edge framework. Having Kura available as
a Snap—the universal Linux application packaging format—will
enable a wider availability of Linux users across multiple distributions to
take advantage of the framework and ensure it is supported on more hardware.
Snap support will also extend on Eurotech’s commercially supported
version; the Everywhere Software Framework (ESF).”

Apple, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla all announce the end of support for TLS
1.0 and 1.1 standards starting in 2020, ZDNet
. Chrome and Firefox already support TLS 1.3, and Microsoft and
Apple will soon follow suit.

Sony announced it’s planning to use the blockchain for digital rights
management (DRM). According to the story
on Engadget
, the company plans to begin with the Sony Global Education
written educational materials. This blockchain system is “built on Sony’s
pre-existing DRM tools, which keep track of the distribution of copyrighted
materials, but will have advantages that come with blockchain’s inherent

NETWAYS Web Services launches IaaS OpenStack.
According to the press release, “the Open Source experts from ‘NETWAYS Web
Services’ (NWS) add with OpenStack
a customizable, fully managed Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas) to their
platform.” Customers can choose between SSD or Ceph based packages, and in
addition to OpenStack, the platform offers “a diverse selection of Open
Source applications for various purposes”. If you’re interested, you can try NWS OpenStack 30 days for free.
For more information and to get started, go here.

A grey-hat hacker is breaking into MikroTik routers and patching them so
they can’t be compromised by cryptojackers or other attackers. According
to ZDNet
, the hacker, who goes by Alexey, is a system
administrator and claims to have disinfected more then 100,000 MikroTik
routers. He told ZDNet that he added firewall rules to block access to
the routers from outside the local network, and then “in the comments, I wrote information about the
vulnerability and left the address of the @router_os Telegram channel, where
it was possible for them to ask questions.” Evidently, a few folks have said “thanks”, but many are outraged.

Paul Allen—”co-founder of Microsoft and noted technologist,
philanthropist, community builder, conservationist, musician and supporter of
the arts”—passed away yesterday. See the statements released on behalf
of the Allen Family, Vulcan Inc. and the Paul G. Allen network at the Vulcan
Inc. website

Original Link

Half-hearted cannabis legalisation move leaves patients in limbo

Medical cannabis is to be available in the UK from November, but tight restrictions will drive patients to alternative sources, says Henry Fisher Original Link

Mate 20 Pro: Huawei throws down the gauntlet

China’s Huawei has taken the wraps off impressive new high-end smartphone models it no doubt hopes will put it closer to unseating market leader Samsung Electronics and relegating Apple to a distant third place. Original Link

Arista Challenges Cisco on Campus Networks

Arista is extending its Cognitive Campus strategy with networking technology gained from its recent Mojo Networks purchase. Arista says: No more BMOC for CSCO. Original Link

Computer Model Determines Ideal Conditions to Develop Nanodiamonds

Nanodiamonds – the tiny crystalline carbon – have fascinating chemical and surface properties and hold promising applications in quantum computing, optoelectronics, and medicine. These materials… Original Link

Alien life could spread between solar systems on interstellar rocks

Researchers have calculated that living organisms may be able to hitch a ride aboard interstellar rocks to spread not only between planets, but across the galaxy Original Link

34% of Pay-TV Subs Altered Service in Past Year – Study

About 15% of that group downgraded to a less expensive TV service, Parks Associates says. Original Link

OpenVault Gives ISPs More WiFi Visibility

ACS WiFi Insider extends diagnostics and control over modems and WiFi-connected devices. Original Link

Photoshop Workflows And Shortcuts For Digital Artists

Photoshop Workflows And Shortcuts For Digital Artists

Photoshop Workflows And Shortcuts For Digital Artists

Yoanna Victorova

2018-10-16T15:30:51+02:00 2018-10-16T13:39:09+00:00

Adobe Photoshop plays a role in almost every digital creator’s life. Photoshop is what many digital artists, photographers, graphic designers, and even some web developers have in common. The tool is so flexible that often you can achieve the same results in several different ways. What sets us all apart is our personal workflows and our preferences on how we use it to achieve the desired outcome.

I use Photoshop every day and shortcuts are a vital part of my workflow. They allow me to save time and to focus better on what I am doing: digital illustration. In this article, I am going to share the Photoshop shortcuts I use frequently — some of its features that help me be more productive, and a few key parts of my creative process.

To profit the most from this tutorial, some familiarity with Photoshop would be required but no matter if you are a complete beginner or an advanced user, you should be able to follow along because every technique will be explained in detail.

For this article, I’ve decided to use one of my most famous Photoshop artworks named “Regret”:

Picture of the artist writing the article
Author’s illustration (Large preview)

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction To Shortcuts: The Path To Boosting Your Productivity
  2. The Keyboard Shortcuts Window
  3. How To Increase And Decrease The Brush Size
  4. How To Increase And Decrease The Brush Softness
  5. Quick Color Picker (HUD Color Picker)
  6. Working With Layers
  7. Working With Curves
  8. Actions: Recording Everything You Need For Your Project
  9. Conclusion
  10. Further Reading

1. Introduction To Shortcuts: The Path To Boosting Your Productivity

Every single designer, artist, photographer or web developer has probably once opened Photoshop and has pointed and clicked on an icon to select the Brush tool, the Move tool, and so on. We’ve all been there, but those days are long gone for most of us who use Photoshop every day. Some might still do it today, however, what I would like to talk about before getting into the details, is the importance of shortcuts.

When you think about it, you’re saving perhaps half a second by using a keyboard shortcut instead of moving your mouse (or stylus) over to the Tools bar and selecting the tool you need by clicking on the tool’s little icon. To some that may seem petty, however, do consider that every digital creator does thousands of selections per project and these half-seconds add up to become hours in the end!

Now, before we continue, please note the following:

  1. Shortcuts Notation
    I use Photoshop on Windows but all of the shortcuts should work the same on Mac OS; the only thing worth mentioning is that the Ctrl (Control) key on Windows corresponds to the Cmd (Command) key on the Mac, so I’ll be using Ctrl/Cmd throughout this tutorial.
  2. Photoshop CS6+
    All the features and shortcuts mentioned here should work in Photoshop CS6 and later — including the latest Photoshop CC 2018.

2. The Keyboard Shortcuts Window

To start off, I would like to show you where you can find the Keyboard Shortcuts window where you could modify the already existing shortcuts, and learn which key is bound to which feature or tool:

Open Photoshop, go to Edit and select Keyboard Shortcuts. Alternatively, you can access the same from here: Window → Workspace → Keyboard Shortcuts & Menus.

the Edit tab with Keyboard Shortcuts option highlighted
Photoshop’s edit (Large preview)

Now you will be greeted by the Keyboard Shortcuts and Menus window (dialog box), where you can pick a category you would like to check out. There are a ton of options in there, so it could get a bit intimidating at first, but that feeling will pass soon. The main three options (accessible through the Shortcuts for:… dropdown list) are:

  • Application Menus
  • Panel Menus
  • Tools

Typically the Application Menus will be the first thing you’ll see. These are the shortcuts for the menu options you see on the top of Photoshop’s window (File, Edit, Image, Layer, Type, and so on).

 Keyboard Shortcuts and Menus option open, displaying the shortcuts for the Applications menu
Applications menu (Large preview)

So for example if you’re using the Brightness/Contrast option often, instead of having to click on Image (in the menu), then Adjustments and finally find and click on Brightness/Contrast item, you can simply assign a key combination and Brightness/Contrast will show right up after you press the keys assigned.

The second section, Panel Menus, is an interesting one as well, especially in its Layers portion. You get to see several options that could be of use to you depending on the type of work you need to do. That’s where the standard New Layer shortcut lies (Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + N) but also you can set up a shortcut for Delete Hidden Layers. Deleting unnecessary layers helps in lowering the size of the Photoshop file and helps improving performance because your computer will not have to cache in on those extra layers that you’re actually not using.

Keyboard Shortcuts and Menus option open, displaying the shortcuts for the Panel Menus
Panel menu (Large preview)

The third section is Tools where you can see the shortcuts assigned to all the tools found in the left panel of Photoshop.

Pro Tip: To cycle between any of the tools that have sub-tools (example: the Eraser tool has a Background Eraser and a Magic Eraser) you just need to hold your Shift key and the appropriate shortcut button. In case of the Eraser example, press Shift + E a few times until you reach the desired sub-tool.

One last thing I would like to mention before wrapping up this section is that the Keyboard Shortcuts and Menus allows you to set up different Profiles (Photoshop calls them “sets” but I think that “profiles” better suits the purpose), so that if you don’t really want to mess with the Photoshop Defaults one, you can simply create a new personalized profile. It’s worth mentioning that when you create a new Profile, you get the Default set of Photoshop Shortcuts in it until you start modifying them.

Keyboard Shortcuts and Menus option showing the Profiles section
Keyboard shortcuts and menus profile section (Large preview)

The Keyboard Shortcuts menu can take a bit of time to get around to, however, if you invest the time in the beginning (best if you do it in your own time rather than during a project), you will benefit later.

Focusing On The Shortcuts On The Left Side Of Your Keyboard

After people acknowledged the usefulness of using shortcuts, eventually they agreed that time is being wasted moving your hand from one side of the keyboard to the opposite one. Sounds a bit petty again, however, remember those half-seconds? They still add up, but this time it can even fatigue your arm if you’re constantly switching tools and have to move your arm around. So this probably led to Adobe adding a few more shortcut features focused on the left side of the keyboard.

Now let me show you the shortcuts that I most often use (and why).

3. How To Increase And Decrease The Brush Size

In order to increase or decrease the size of your brush, you need to:

  1. Click and hold the Alt key. (On the Mac this would be the Ctrl and Alt keys),
  2. Click and hold the right mouse button,
  3. Then drag horizontally from left to right to increase, and from right to left to decrease the size.
Red circle displaying the brush size increase via mouse drag
Brush size increase preview (Large preview)

The moment I learned about this shortcut, I literally couldn’t stop using it!

If you’re a digital artist, I believe you will particularly love it as well. Sketching, painting, erasing, just about everything you need to do with a brush becomes a whole lot easier and fluent because you wouldn’t need to reach for the all too familiar [ and ] keys which are the default ones for increasing and decreasing the brush size. Going for those keys can disrupt your workflow, especially if you need to take your eyes off your project or put the stylus aside.

4. How To Increase And Decrease The Brush Softness

It’s actually the same key combination but with a slight twist: increasing and decreasing the softness of your Brush will work only for Photoshop’s default Round brushes. Unfortunately, if you have any custom made brushes that have a custom form, this wouldn’t work for those.

  1. Click and hold the Alt key. (On the Mac this would be Ctrl and Alt keys),
  2. Click and hold the right mouse button,
  3. Then drag upwards to harden the edge of your brush and drag downwards to make it softer.
Red circle displaying the brush softness increase via mouse drag
Brush softness increase preview (Large preview)

Again, this shortcut doesn’t work for custom shaped brushes, although it would have been a really nice feature to have. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see that in a future update to Photoshop.

5. Quick Color Picker (HUD Color Picker)

You may or may not be aware that Photoshop offers a quick color picker (HUD Color Picker). And no, this is not the color picker that is located in the Tools section.

Photoshop’s Quick color picker
Quick color picker (Large preview)

I am referring to what Adobe calls “HUD Color Picker” that pops up right where your cursor is located on the canvas.

This so-called HUD Color Picker is a built-in version and I believe it’s been around since at least Photoshop CS6 (which was released back in 2012). If you’re learning about this now, probably you’re as surprised as I was when I first came across it a few months ago. Yes, it took me a while to get used to, too! Well, to be fair, I do also have some reservations about this color picker, but I’ll get to them in a second.

Photoshop’s HUD color picker
Photoshop’s HUD color picker (Large preview)

Here’s how to pull up the HUD Color Picker:

On Windows
  1. Click and hold Alt + Shift,
  2. Click and hold the right mouse button.
On Mac
  1. Click and hold Ctrl ⌃ + Alt ⌥ + Cmd ⌘,
  2. Click and hold the right mouse button.

If you’ve followed the key combinations above, you should see this colorful square. However, you’ve probably noticed that it’s a bit awkward to work with it. For example, you need to continue holding all of the keys, and while you do that, you need to hover over to the right rectangle to pick a color gamut and then hover back to the square to pick the shade. With all of the hovering that’s going on, it’s somewhat easy to miss the color that you’ve actually set your heart to pick, which could get a little annoying.

Nevertheless, I do believe that with a little practice you will be able to master the Quick Color Picker and get your desired results. If you’re not too keen on using that built-in version, there are always third-party extensions that you can strap to your Photoshop, for example, Coolorus 2 Color Wheel or Painters Wheel (works with PS CS4, CS5, CS6).

6. Working With Layers

One of the advantages of working digitally is undisputedly the ability to work with layers. They are quite versatile, and there’s a lot of things that you could do with them. You could say that one could write a book just on Layers alone. However, I’m going to do the next best thing, and that would be to share with you the options I most commonly use when working on my projects.

As you may have guessed, the Layer section is a pretty important one for any type of digital creative. In this section, I’m going to share the simpler but very useful shortcuts that could be some real lifesavers.

Clipping Mask Layer

A Clipping Mask Layer is what I most often use when I’m drawing. For those of you who do not know what that is, it’s basically a layer which you clip on to the layer below. The layer below defines what’s visible on the clipped on layer.

For example, let’s say that you have a circle on the base layer and then you add a Clipping Mask Layer to that circle. When you start drawing on your Clipping Mask Layer, you will be restricted only to the shapes in the Base Layer.

Red circle shape that’s going to be used for a clipping mask
Red circle shape on transparent background (Large preview)
Drawly’s artwork inserted into circle shape
Drawing inserted into circle shape (Large preview)

Take notice of the layers on the right side of the screen. Layer 0 is the Clipping Mask Layer of the Base Layer — Layer 1.

This option allows you to really easily create frames and the best part is that they’re non-destructive. The more shapes you add (in this case it’s Layer 1), the more visible parts of the image can be seen.

Drawly’s artwork added into various shapes as a clipping mask
Drawly’s artwork added into various shapes as a clipping mask (Large preview)

The most common use for Clipping Mask Layers in digital art/painting is to add shadows and highlights to a base color. For example, let’s say that you’ve completed your character’s line-art and you’ve added their base skin tone. You can use Clipping Mask Layers to add non-destructive shadows and highlights.

Note: I’m using the term “non-destructive” because you cannot erase away something from the base layers — they will be safe and sound.)

So, how do you create those Clipping Mask Layers? Well, each one starts off as a regular “Layer”.

To create a regular Layer, you can use this shortcut:

Action Keyboard Shortcut
Creates a new regular Layer Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + N
Makes the newly created Layer into a Clipping Mask to the Layer below it Ctrl/Cmd + Alt + G

An alternative way to make a regular layer into a Clipping Mask is to press and hold the Alt key, and click between the two Layers. The upper layer will then become the Clipping Mask of the layer below.

Selecting All Layers

Every once in a while, you may want to select all of the layers, and group them together so that you can continue building on top of them or a number of other reasons. Typically, what I used to do is simply hold the Ctrl/Cmd key and then start clicking away at all of the layers. Needless to say, that was a bit time-consuming, especially if I’m working on a big project. So here’s a better way:

What you would need to do is simply press: Ctrl/Cmd + Alt + A.

Now that should’ve selected all of your layers and you will be able to do anything you want with them.

Flattening Visible Layers

Clipping Mask Layers may be totally awesome, however, they don’t always work well if you want to modify something in the general image you’re doing. Sometimes you just need everything (e.g. base color, highlights and shadows) to stop being on different layers and just be combined into one. Sometimes you just need to merge all currently visible layers into one, in a non-destructive way.

Here’s how:

Press and hold Ctrl/Cmd + Alt + Shift + E.

Et voilà! Now you should be seeing an extra layer on the top that has all other visible layers in it. The beauty of this shortcut is that you still have your other layers below — untouched and safe. If you mess up something with the newly created layer, you can still bring things back to the way they were before and start afresh.

Copying Multiple Layers

Every now and then we’re faced with the need to copy stuff from multiple layers. Typically what most people do is duplicate the two given layers they need, merge them and then start erasing away the unnecessary parts of the image.

What you need to do instead is to make a selection and then press:

Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + C

Here’s an example:

Three different colored circles on a transparent background
Three different colored circles (Large preview)

As you can see, each color dot is on a separate layer. Let’s say that we need to copy a straight rectangle through the center of the dots and copy it on a layer at the top.

Three different colored circles with a selection box inside them
Three different colored circles with a selection box inside them (Large preview)

We’ve made a selection and once you press Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + C, Photoshop will copy everything you have in your selection to the clipboard. Then all you have to do is simply paste (Ctrl/Cmd + V) anywhere, and a new layer will appear on the top of the page.

Selection box with the three different colors from the circles
Selection box with three different colors (Large preview)

This shortcut can come really handy especially when you’re working with multiple layers, and you need just a portion of the image to be together in a single layer.

7. Working With Curves

In this section of the article, I would like to cover the importance of values as well as Curves which are generally a big topic to cover.

Starting off with the shortcut: Ctrl/Cmd + M.

Pretty simple, right? The best things in life are (almost) always simple! However, don’t let this talk about simplicity fool you, the Curves setting is one of the most powerful tools you have in Photoshop. Especially when it comes to tweaking brightness, contrast, colors, tones, and so on.

Now some of you may be feeling a bit of intimidated by the previous sentence: colors, tones, contrast,… say what now? Don’t worry, because the Curves tool is pretty simple to understand and it will do marvelous things for you. Let’s dig into the details.

 Curves histogram
Curves histogram highlighted in red square (Large preview)

This is what the Curves tool basically looks like. As you can see, there’s a moderate amount of options available. What we’re interested in, however, is the area I’ve captured inside the red square. It is actually a simple Histogram with a diagonal line across. The Histogram’s purpose is to show the values of the given image (or painting), left being the darkest points and right being the lightest ones.

Curves histogram with one anchor point added
Curves histogram with one anchor point added (Large preview)
Curves histogram with two anchor points added
Curves histogram with two anchor points added (Large preview)

Using the mouse, we can put points on the diagonal line and drag it up and down. We typically decide what we want to darken or lighten. If, for example, we want to have the light parts of our image be just a bit darker, we need to click somewhere on the right side and drag down (just like in the first image).

Here’s an example. First, take a look at the normal image:

Drawly’s artwork, original colors and values
Drawly’s artwork, original colors and values. (Large preview)

Now, using Curves with the light parts toned down:

Curves histogram with one anchor point
Curves histogram with one anchor point (Large preview)

AIn addition, just for demonstration purposes, here’s what would happen if we have the lighter parts darkened and the darker parts lightened:

Curves histogram with two anchor points making the ‘S’ shape
Curves histogram with two anchor points making the ‘S’ shape (Large preview)

You see, basically the linework is the darkest part, which stayed and the other darks have been lightened to a grayish type of value.

Now let me quickly elaborate on values and why they matter: by “values,” especially in the art world, we’re referring to the amount of lightness or darkness in a drawing (painting). With values, we create depth in our painting which on its part helps with creating the illusion which element is closer to the viewer and which one is in the distance (further back).

8. Actions: Recording Everything You Need For Your Project

Every so often we all need to deal with repetitive processes which could range from adding a filter over our image to creating certain types of layers with blending modes. Does this sound familiar? If so, keep reading.

Did you know that Photoshop supports programming languages such as JavaScript, AppleScript, and VBScript to automate certain processes? I didn’t, as programming has never been my cup of tea. The good thing is that instead, I came across the Actions panel, which offers a lot of functionality and options for automating some repetitive tasks and workflows. In my opinion, this is the best automation tool that Photoshop has to offer if you don’t know how to code.

The Actions panel basically can record every process you’re doing (e.g. adding a layer, cropping the image, changing its hue, and so on); then you can assign a function key to this process and easily re-use it later at any time.

By using the Actions panel, you can capture just about anything that you do in Photoshop and then save it as a process.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say that you want to automate the process of Create a new Layer, set it as a Clipping Mask, and then set its blending mode to Multiply (or anything else). You can record this whole process which would then be available to you for re-use by the press of a button.

Here’s how it works:

Pressing Alt + F9 will open this panel:

The actions panel displaying all the default options
The actions panel displaying all the default options (Large preview)

As you can probably see, there are some default (pre-recorded) processes on there. What we’re interested in, however, is creating our own action, which is done by clicking on the “Create new action” icon.

The actions panel with the “New Action” button highlighted in a red square
The actions panel with the “New Action” button highlighted (Large preview)

Now just like when you create a new layer in the Layers panel, once you click on the “Create new action” icon, a pop-up window opens with a few options in it.

New Action window displayed with text highlighted
New Action window (Large preview)

You can choose any given name for the Action you want to create and assign a Function key for it. So, for this demonstration purpose, I’ll create an action that will do the following:

  • Create a new transparent Layer;
  • Add it as a Clipping Mask to the Layer below;
  • Set its blending mode to Multiply.

I’ll set its Function key to Shift + F2.

Custom name added and function key assigned in New Action box
Custom name added and function key assigned in New Action box (Large preview)

Once you’re ready with these settings, what you need to do is press the Record button. Once you’ve done that, you’ll notice that the Actions panel now has a red button to show you it’s recording.

Recording the new Action, record button toggled
Recording the new Action (Large preview)

Now you just have to go about the regular process of creating a new layer, set it as a clipping mask and change its blending mode to Multiply.

Heart shape layer added in Layers panel
Heart shape layer added (Large preview)
Heart shape layer added in Layers panel
New layer added on top of the heart shape (Large preview)
New layer made in to a clipping mask
New layer made in to a clipping mask to the heart shape (Large preview)
Blending mode drop-down menu open, Multiply highlighted
Blending mode drop-down menu open, Multiply highlighted. (Large preview)

Once you’re done, you have to hit the Stop icon on the Actions panel.

Actions panel open with the red recording button
Actions panel open with the red recording button (Large preview)

Your automation process is now ready to go! When you press Shift + F2, you’ll get a new Layer set as a Clipping Mask to the layer below and its blending mode set to Multiply.

I would also like to mention that the Actions automation process is not limited to just creating layers and setting blending modes. Here are some examples of some pretty handy other uses and options for actions:

  • You can set up to save images as certain types of files to certain folders on your computer;
  • Using File → Automate → Batch for processing lots of images;
  • The Allow Tool Recording option in the flyout Actions panel menu allows actions to include painting, and so on;
  • The Insert Conditional option in the flyout Actions panel menu allows actions to change their behavior, based on the state of the document;
  • File → Scripts → Script Events Manager lets actions run based on events, like when a document is opened or a new document is created.

Let me give you another example, I’ll create another Action that will change the size of my image and save it as a PNG file in a certain folder on my desktop.

So after we hit the New Action button on the Actions panel, we’ll proceed with picking the shortcut that we want, set a name for it, and I’ll take it a step further and assign a color to the Action (I’ll explain why this is a helpful feature in a bit).

New Action box open
New Action box open (Large preview)
Selecting the Function key
Selecting the Function key (Large preview)
Checking the Shift checkbox
Checking the Shift checkbox (Large preview)
Picking a color for the Action
Picking a color for the Action (Large preview)
Displaying that a blue color was picked for the new action
Blue color picked for the new Action (Large preview)

Now about that color, you may notice that when you assign a color, it doesn’t really reflect in the Actions Panel. Instead, everything stays monochrome. The reason is because when you typically open that panel, you’re in the Edit view, where you’re able to modify the Actions, record new ones, and so on. In order to see all of the available actions in a simpler interface, do this:

  • On the upper-right hand corner of the panel you will see four horizontal lines. Click on those.
  • You’ll get a drop-down menu, where you have different Actions options. On the top, you’ll notice a Button Mode.
  • Actions’ drop-down menu open, highlighted Button Mode
    Actions’ drop-down menu open, highlighted ‘Button Mode’. (Large preview)
  • Clicking on that will change the Actions Panel interface, where you will see your available Actions as colorful buttons.
The Actions’ button mode
The Actions’ button mode (Large preview)

If you haven’t guessed it already, coloring your Actions will help you distinguish them more easily at a glance. In Button mode, when you take a glance at the panel, you will be able to navigate quickly to the Action that you want to apply to your image/drawing (if you don’t really remember the shortcut you’ve assigned for it).

Okay, so what we have so far is the following:

  1. We’ve created a new action;
  2. Set the shortcut for it;
  3. Changed its color;
  4. Named it.

Let’s proceed with recording the process that we need.

To open the Image Size menu, you can either go to Image → Image Size or simply hit Ctrl + Alt + I and you’ll get this window:

 Image size menu open
Image size menu open (Large preview)

What you would want to do is set the desired size for your image and once you’re happy with that hit “OK” to apply the changes.

Image size values changed
Image size values changed (Large preview)

Next, what we want to do is use the Save As option in order to get the option to choose the type of file, destination folder, and so on. You can either go to File → Save As… or you could simply press Ctrl + Shift + S and you will get the following window:

Saving dialogue box open
Saving dialogue box open (Large preview)

Navigate to the dedicated folder in which you want to save the current project in and actually save it there. An additional Action you can do is to close the image/project you’re working on (don’t worry, the Actions won’t stop recording unless you close down Photoshop).

Saving file as PNG, PNG options displayed
PNG options displayed (Large preview)

Once all of that is done, you can hit the Stop icon on the Actions Panel to stop recording your movement in Photoshop.

If you need to resize a bunch of files and save them in a dedicated folder, you just have to load them up in Photoshop and continue hitting the Action shortcut that you’ve created for Resizing and Saving.

If you take the time to get accustomed to the Actions tool in Photoshop and utilize it, you can say “Goodbye” to the bothersome repetitive work that usually eats up most of your time. You will be able to fly through these tasks with such speed that even the Flash could get jealous of.

9. Conclusion

In this article, I’ve shared some of the shortcuts I mostly use. I sincerely hope that they will help you boost up your productivity and make your workflow better as well.

Special Thanks

I would like to mention that this tutorial was made possible with the help of Angel (a.k.a. ArcanumEX). You can check out his artwork on his Facebook page, on Instagram, and on his YouTube channel.

Further Reading

In addition to everything I’ve talked about so far, I’ll include more resources that I believe you might find helpful. Be sure to check out:

What are your favorite shortcuts? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

Smashing Editorial (mb, ra, yk, il)

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Eurobites: Orange Targets Enterprise With LoRa-Based IoT Offering

Also in today’s EMEA regional roundup: ARM and Intel kiss and make up; Nokia adds new chipsets to FTTX offerings; Saudi consulate outrage hits SoftBank. Original Link

Have a Plan for Netplan

Ubuntu changed networking. Embrace the YAML.

If I’m being completely honest, I still dislike the switch from eth0,
eth1, eth2
to names like, enp3s0, enp4s0, enp5s0. I’ve learned to accept
it and mutter to myself while I type in unfamiliar interface names. Then I
installed the new LTS version of Ubuntu and typed vi
. Yikes. After a technological lifetime of entering
my server’s IP information in a simple text file, that’s no longer how
things are done. Sigh. The good news is that while figuring out Netplan for
both desktop and server environments, I fixed a nagging DNS issue I’ve had
for years (more on that later).

The Basics of Netplan

The old way of configuring Debian-based network interfaces was based on the
ifupdown package. The new default is called Netplan, and
although it’s not
terribly difficult to use, it’s drastically different. Netplan is sort of
the interface used to configure the back-end dæmons that actually
configure the interfaces. Right now, the back ends supported are
NetworkManager and networkd.

If you tell Netplan to use NetworkManager, all interface configuration
control is handed off to the GUI interface on the desktop. The
NetworkManager program itself hasn’t changed; it’s the same GUI-based
interface configuration system you’ve likely used for years.

If you tell Netplan to use networkd, systemd itself handles the interface
configurations. Configuration is still done with Netplan files, but once “applied”, Netplan creates the back-end configurations systemd requires. The
Netplan files are vastly different from the old /etc/network/interfaces
file, but it uses YAML syntax, and it’s pretty easy to figure out.

The Desktop and DNS

If you install a GUI version of Ubuntu, Netplan is configured with
NetworkManager as the back end by default. Your system should get IP
information via DHCP or static entries you add via GUI. This is usually not
an issue, but I’ve had a terrible time with my split-DNS setup and
systemd-resolved. I’m sure there is a magical combination of configuration
files that will make things work, but I’ve spent a lot of time, and it
always behaves a little oddly. With my internal DNS server resolving domain
names differently from external DNS servers (that is, split-DNS), I get random
lookup failures. Sometimes ping will resolve, but
dig will not. Sometimes
the internal A record will resolve, but a CNAME will not. Sometimes I get
resolution from an external DNS server (from the internet), even though I
never configure anything other than the internal DNS!

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BlockFi Now Offers Litecoin and Gemini Stablecoin-Backed Loan Options

BlockFi Now Offers Litecoin and Gemini Stablecoin-Backed Loan Options

Crypto-to-USD lender BlockFi has announced that it will support loans backed by both Litecoin and Gemini’s recent stablecoin token GUSD. This is the first time the company is expanding to accept collateral in one of the crypto industry’s top-10 assets besides bitcoin and ether. In addition, BlockFi is also the first crypto-backed lender to support loans backed by GUSD.

Founded in 2017, BlockFi offers both debt and credit products and seeks to bring liquidity to the cryptocurrency space. Based in New York, the company operates in over 40 states and is backed by some of the country’s leading financial firms including PJC and ConsenSys Ventures, as well as Galaxy Digital Ventures LLC, which provided the company with nearly $53 million in capital during a funding round in July 2018. This marked the first investment into crypto-backed loans from an institutional enterprise.

Zac Prince is the company CEO. Speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, he said that BlockFi’s acceptance of Litecoin was a “logical first step” toward supporting most — if not all — of the world’s top 10 cryptocurrencies.

“Litecoin was recently added to Gemini and has a long history of price appreciation,” he commented. “Having large, imbedded capital gains is one of the motivating factors for considering a loan backed by crypto. Litecoin also has strong liquidity with USD pairs in multiple trading venues.”

With the addition of GUSD, BlockFi can offer loan options to customers outside the standard business hours of 9-6 through an option that isn’t cash related. Speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, BlockFi’s director of customer operations, Abbey Young, explained, “Most banks have an outgoing wire cutoff time of 5:30 p.m. EST, so we can only send funds between the hours of 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. EST during the week. However, if a client would like to be funded in GUSD, we can deposit those funds at any time, like weekends or after 5:30 p.m. EST.”

Gemini announced the coin back in September 2018 as an ERC-20, asset-backed token on the Ethereum network. It is supported by USD in a formal bank account where the GUSD deposit balance is examined monthly by public accounting firm BPM, LLP.

“Customers can apply [for funds] in less than two minutes,” Prince said. “The team will then evaluate the application and respond within one business day. Once accepted, the customer sends their crypto to a unique wallet address we generate for them. Then, we send them their funds. With USD, we wire the money directly into their bank account. For our GUSD customers, we can send it to any wallet address they like. This entire process often happens in as few as 90 minutes.”

The company is now designing plans that would enable more lending products supported by an assortment of differing cryptocurrencies to provide further, timely liquidity across the global crypto scene.

“We believe that the crypto asset market will continue to grow, and we are attracted to the promise of being able to deliver financial services on a more equitable and global scale rather than traditional systems,” Prince said.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Men and women think leaders should have “masculine” traits

Characteristics such as kindness are nice, but are not considered essential in business. Samantha Page reports. Original Link

Closing in on a giant ringed planet

Century-old photographs aid in the hunt for a massive and elusive system observed just once in more than a century. Andrew Masterson reports. Original Link

Blood test means some cancer patients could skip chemo

Trials in Australia and the US find biopsies can predict cancer relapse risk. Samantha Page reports. Original Link

A short history of spacetime from Euclid to LIGO

A year ago today, the world learned that a huge team of scientists around the world had confirmed the existence of gravitational waves. Here, David Blair, from the Australian International Gravitational Research Centre, traces the long history of discovery that led to breakthrough. Original Link

A sting in the tail

Photographs reveals an insect’s hidden weapon. Original Link

Grand Opening of INTERGEO 2018

Frankfurt/Karlsruhe, 16 October 2018 | “Digitalisation is turning our industry upside down. We can either take note of this or play an active role in the process. INTERGEO 2018 is the place to find people who have opted for the latter and promote geodesy, geoinformation and land management as independent skills in the digital revolution.” This was the thrust of the address given by Professor Hansjörg Kutterer, President of event host DVW, at the traditional opening ceremony for the INTERGEO trade fair and conference for geodesy, geoinformation and land management, held the evening before the event. In his view, our awareness of the wide-ranging facets of digitalisation will play a key role in its development. In the Emperors’ Hall of Frankfurt town hall, Kutterer called for people to use INTERGEO to gain a better understanding of digitalisation, create networks and present original ideas.


According to Daniel Katzer, who is instrumental in setting the focus of INTERGEO as Head of Trade Fairs and Conferences for the fair’s host Hinte GmbH, INTERGEO is continuously evolving. “We see ourselves today as a supplier of interactive solutions for the key issues of the future,” says Katzer, adding that the hosts have adopted a long-term strategy for this event – and the figures speak for themselves. Once again, INTERGEO will be featuring even more exhibitors and offering an even broader range of perspectives, with over 100 experts addressing the INTERGEO CONFERENCE. The fair is hosting 640 exhibitors from 40 countries, approximately ten percent more than last year. What’s more, over 17,000 visitors from more than 100 countries are expected this year. More so than mere figures, INTERGEO’s distinct portfolio of products, innovations, information and networking opportunities is a true testament to the event’s international recognition.


DiGEOtisation is taking hold

According to Hagen Graeff, the Chief Representative of DVW and conference organiser, the close intertwining of geodesy, geoinformation and land management certainly merits coining this new phrase. “Without geo-components, there would be no digitalisation. It’s as simple as that,” he points out. “That’s why we now talk about ‘diGEOtisation’”. Whether it’s in administration or business, without geoinformation time would stand still. Graeff cites two focal points on the conference programme as examples – smart cities and building information modelling (BIM). Katzer elaborates upon this new catchphrase by listing some of the cutting-edge technological developments underpinned by diGEOtisation – 3D modelling and data management (including the images created in augmented and virtual reality applications), new applications in the GIS industry, networking geodata and BIM, and further advances in photogrammetric methods and mapping.


INTERAERIAL SOLUTIONS (IAS EXPO) Europe’s leading event for civil drones

With its themed platform INTERAERIAL SOLUTIONS (IAS EXPO), INTERGEO has become Europe’s leading event for the drone industry. “All the big movers and shakers are in among our 170 exhibitors. The FlightZone right next to Hall 12 will be bustling with demonstration flights, giving visitors every chance to experience the diversity of drone technology first-hand. What’s more, visitors will have ample opportunity to attend all sorts of talks at the IAS Forum, with 90 speakers covering all aspects of drones on all three days of the trade fair. The first European Drone Summit, an independent specialist conference, will be held on Monday, 15 October, where experts will also address the political issues surrounding drones at both national and European level,” says Katzer.


SMART CITY SOLUTIONS (SCSEXPO): Solutions for liveable cities

INTERGEO’s themed platform SMART CITY SOLUTIONS (SCSEXPO) aims to promote dialogue between solution providers, cities and politicians. Katzer points out that, as urban density continues to increase, this keeps on throwing up new challenges, explaining why SCSEXPO is designed to bring together the local authorities’ decision-makers, urban planners and solution providers who are shaping the cities of tomorrow and turning them into ideal living environments. With over 190 exhibitors and around 50 eminent speakers, SCSEXPO showcases a wide range of smart city opportunities and solutions.

In addition to the specialist exhibition, the World Cafés on the new PLAZA should encourage visitors to get involved and interact. The forum will feature daily talks by prominent smart city experts.







The great value of face-to-face interaction

DVW President Kutterer: “Precisely in this era of digitalisation, face-to-face interaction has become more important than ever. Within the field of geo-IT, there is no other event in the world that offers opportunities for interaction on this scale. We’re looking forward to three full and fulfilling days, many thought-provoking talks at the trade fair and conference, new insights, intensive networking and future collaboration across organisations. For three days, INTERGEO 2018 will make Frankfurt the Mecca of geoinformation. I’m very much looking forward to it.”



The highlights of the next three days at a glance:

TUESDAY, 16 October 2018



DVW President Prof. Hansjörg Kutterer will open the INTERGEO CONFERENCE at 9.30 a.m. with his keynote speech “Digitalisation – challenge and opportunity for the geo industry.” Prof. Jürgen Döllner of the Hasso-Plattner-Institut in Berlin will then provide an outlook on the state of artificial intelligence methods in his keynote speech “4D point clouds and machine learning – based interpretation as a core element for future geospatial applications, systems and digital twins”.

In the INTERAERIAL SOLUTIONS (IASEXPO) Best Practice Forum, Christian Janke will offer an insight into the cybersecurity of unmanned systems from 11.20 to 11.40 a.m. From 2.40 to 3 p.m., Kay Wackwitz will give an overview of the current state of the drone industry. And from 3.20 to 5 p.m., Dr. Christina Eisenberg will be presenting applications and topics relating to the practical aspects of drones.

The IASEXPO start-up session will be held from 11.45 a.m. until 1.15 p.m. This event will see six young international companies go head to head and pitch their business ideas for drone applications. The factors that determine the winner will be the presentation itself along with the sustainability of the idea, the anticipated economic volume, the stage the project has reached and approaches to marketing. A judging panel of start-up and drone professionals will then announce the first three winners.


On Tuesday, SCSEXPO opens its World Café. From 10.30 a.m. until 1.30 p.m., guests will discuss “Mobility in cities”. From 2 until 5 p.m., specialists from the drone industry will give short presentations on “Drones in cities” before hosting roundtable discussions. From 1.30 until 2.30 p.m., a panel discussion on “Bee smart city” will be held in the forum.


WEDNESDAY, 17 October 2018


Starting at 9.30 a.m., Ron Bisio from Trimble and Alanus von Radecki will open the second day of INTERGEO with their keynote speeches. Bisio’s topic will be “Applications of BIM & geospatial technology in infrastructure construction”, while von Radecki will discuss the “DNA of the smart city”.


You’re invited to the World Café: from 10.30 a.m. until 1.30 p.m., there will be a talk on “Potential interdisciplinary data usage in cities”, followed by a presentation on “Specific strategies for smart and resilient cities” from 2.40 until 5 p.m. From 1.30 until 2.30 p.m., a panel discussion on “Smart mobility” will be held in the forum.


Starting at 1 p.m., drones will take centre stage, with a talk on “360-degree VR and AR” from 1 to 1.20 p.m. and another on “The commercial use of drones in urban environments” from 2 until 2.20 p.m. From 2.20 to 2.40 p.m., the topic will be “Autonomous delivery drones as the transportation of the future”, followed by the “Integration of manned and unmanned aircraft” from 3.30 until 5 p.m. The presentation ceremony for the Drone Pioneer Award 2018 will take place from 11.45 a.m. until 1 p.m. The Drone Pioneer Award and € 5,000 in prize money will be presented to the entrant with the most inventive drone application for the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This year’s award is being presented in collaboration with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. A panel of eminent judges will select the most impressive company, project or product from all the applicants.


THURSDAY, 18 October 2018


INTERGEO Starting at 9.30 a.m., Prof. Joaquin Diaz, President of the BVBS, and Prof. Harald Simons, a senior executive at empirica AG, will open the third day of INTERGEO with their keynote speeches. Prof. Diaz’s topic will be the “Challenges of construction software in digitalisation”, and Prof. Simons will give a pointed, potentially controversial talk entitled “Real estate: When will Germany’s housing market turn?”


Presentations begin at 10 a.m.! From 10 to 10.20 a.m.: “Using drones indoors”. From 2.40 to 3 p.m.: “Drone defence options and protecting vital infrastructures”. From 3.20 to3.40 p.m.: “Augmented reality for drones with the AR Box”.



INTERGEO, which consists of a conference and a trade fair, is the world’s largest event for geodesy, geoinformation and land management. It is held every year at different venues in Germany. The conference focuses on current issues arising in politics, administration, science and industry. INTERGEO’s continuing aim is to facilitate process optimisation in numerous target markets with the geo-IT potential it showcases. Its forthcoming venues are the internationally renowned exhibition cities

of Stuttgart in 2019, Berlin in 2020 and Hannover in 2021.

INTERGEO is hosted by DVW – the German Society for Geodesy, Geoinformation and Land Management.


Further information about the trade fair and programme at INTERGEO, the leading international event for the geo-IT sector from 16 to 18 October 2018 in Frankfurt, is available at:

Relevant interviews and video clips can be found at

Original Link

Pointfuse Launches New Laser Scanning Software Suite at Digital Construction Week

Maidenhead, UK – Pointfuse is releasing Pointfuse 2018 a new suite of laser scanning software which includes a cloud based data processing service called Pointfuse Bolt. Designed to promote and support the practice of frequent capture of digitized ‘as built’ data, Pointfuse 2018 will help BIM practitioners create intelligent data that is easy to consume and easy to share. Pointfuse Bolt sits alongside other new developments that are set to disrupt workflows in digital construction by supporting the development of a living model helping to minimize project risk and mitigate unnecessary costs.

“The Pointfuse paragon is founded upon selectable geometry, scalability, small file sizes and optimized speed of processing. These pillars are the foundations to an integrated workflow that de-skills and automates the timely production of intelligent “as built” information derived from a multitude of scanning technologies,” commented Mark Senior, Regional Sales Director at Pointfuse.

“Pointfuse 2018 will challenge the current paradigm of only scanning during design and at completion to become a more integrated and vital part of the construction workflow,” he continued. “With Pointfuse Bolt and the other new features in this release, users can scan as often as possible and use intelligent models across a range of applications achieving benefits in cost, time and safety.”

Pointfuse Bolt is powered by unlimited parallelized computing on an industry standard secure platform to process point cloud captured during the design, build and delivery of complex construction projects. Offering a scalable yet affordable solution, the Bolt service reduces processing times and minimizes the IT requirement for expensive hardware whilst maximizing productivity across a range of BIM workflows.

Pointfuse 2018 also includes the Autodesk Recap SDK avoiding the need to convert native Recap registered pointcloud outputs into other industry standard formats. This is the first of many similar initiatives planned with Autodesk over the forthcoming months and strengthens the BIM360 integration already announced. Support for Z+F laser scanning and measurement systems and Topcon surveying equipment are also included in Pointfuse 2018.

“Pointfuse 2018 offers a road map to an integrated Scan2BIM and Scan2Model toolkit that will empower users, from owners through to sub-contractors, to adopt many of the workflows and technology solutions that are utilized within manufacturing environments,” concluded Senior.

Pointfuse will be on stand D54 at Digital Construction Week 2018. DCW, the only event series in the UK dedicated to innovation and technology in the built environment, takes place from the 17-18 October at Excel, London.

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Swift Navigation and Carnegie Robotics Introduce Duro Inertial

Swift Navigation, a San Francisco-based tech firm building centimeter-accurate GNSS technology and a Cloud-based Corrections Service to power a world of autonomous vehicles, and Carnegie Robotics LLC (CRL), an industry leader in reliable robotic components and systems, today announced their second joint product, Duro® Inertial. Duro Inertial is a ruggedized version of Swift Navigation’s flagship Piksi® Multi dual-frequency Real Time Kinematics (RTK) GNSS receiver combined with Carnegie Robotics’ SmoothPose™ sensor fusion algorithm, which fuses GNSS and inertial measurements into a combined solution. The blending of GNSS and inertial measurements provides a dead reckoning capability that allows Duro Inertial to provide a highly-accurate, continuous position solution during brief GNSS outages and to deliver a robust precision navigation solution in harsh GNSS environments.

Duro Inertial is an evolution of Swift and CRL’s first joint product, Duro. Building on the on-board MEMS Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) that exists in Duro today, Duro Inertial harnesses CRL’s loosely coupled (LC) sensor fusion algorithm, SmoothPose, to blend GNSS and inertial inputs, providing a smoother, more available and more robust position, velocity and time (PVT) solution.

Duro Inertial seamlessly blends CRL’s SmoothPose GNSS+INS algorithms with Swift Navigation’s Starling™ Positioning Engine to deliver a highly-accurate LC positioning solution even in GNSS / RTK denied environments. The inertial aiding feature can operate with RTK, Autonomous GNSS and Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) position solutions from Starling. Duro Inertial also inherits the full set of features from Duro and Piksi Multi including the light-weight SBP communication protocol, interoperability with legacy protocols such as NMEA output and RTCMv3 input, compatibility with RTK corrections services such as Skylark™, Swift’s Cloud Correction Service and many third-party corrections services, and quad-constellation dual-frequency RTK navigation. The combination of Duro Inertial’s positioning accuracy and its ruggedized enclosure that protects against weather, moisture, vibration, dust and water immersion makes it ideal for construction, mining, logistics, positive train control, robotics and agriculture applications.

“We are excited to introduce our second collaboration with Carnegie Robotics and build on the success of the Duro ruggedized receiver launched last year,” said Timothy Harris, Co-Founder and CEO of Swift Navigation. “The combination of Carnegie Robotics’ advanced inertial technology and robotics expertise with Swift’s positioning solution will enable an even broader customer segment to benefit from highly-accurate positioning.”

“Duro Inertial is the culmination of our partnership with Swift over the past two years,” added John Bares, CEO of Carnegie Robotics. “Working together we are able to deliver a consistent and highly-accurate positioning solution to benefit a variety of robotics and industrial applications.”

Duro Inertial is scheduled to be available at for purchase in Q4 of 2018 and is currently available for select customer testing. Single unit pricing for Duro Inertial is $2,895. Contact for volume pricing.


Swift Navigation, Inc. was founded in 2012 to make GPS positioning technology more accurate and affordable. Today Swift Navigation has gained a reputation for defining a new category of GNSS systems as the industry’s first low-cost, high accuracy real-time kinematics (RTK) receiver. It’s GNSS positioning products are available at a fraction of the price of the competition and deliver 100 times better accuracy than the standard GPS in a cell phone. Swift Navigation’s technology benefits a multitude of industries and applications—including autonomous vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), precision agriculture, robotics, surveying and space. With its innovation and technology honored by Inc.’s and Forbes 30 Under 30 lists, Swift Navigation is enabling a world where fields farm themselves, drones fly safely and autonomous transportation can take you home. Swift Navigation provides an end-to-end GNSS solution with a line of Piksi® Multi and Duro® receivers, Starling™ Positioning Engine and Skylark™ Cloud Corrections Service. Learn more online at, follow Swift on Twitter @Swiftnav.


Carnegie Robotics LLC (CRL) was founded in 2010 to be an end-to-end provider of reliable robotic components and autonomous mobile ground robots. CRL has particular focus in inertial-based pose, GPS-denied positioning and perception technologies. Carnegie Robotics offers both its own product lines and custom product development to support the defense, light industrial, agriculture, mining and infrastructure markets. The company fuses engineering, manufacturing and testing expertise with a strong focus on meeting end user needs for reliability, productivity, safety and the dozens of other essential factors necessary for a product to work in the real world. The performance and reliability of CRL’s products is a result of an ISO 9001:2008 certified process which covers all aspects of CRL’s product design, testing, requirement validation and production. Learn more online at

Original Link

The Perils of 3- (or More) Tier Infrastructure

Once upon a time, a long time ago (in 1999), 3-tier infrastructure was the go-to for the needs of applications…from 1999.

I don’t mean to be glib — 3-tier was transformational during the web app explosion of that era, but that’s also the point: any technology that has to be amended with “from that era” is likely due for a good, long look, and especially if you’re planning to run today’s cloud-ready, shiny new apps and the dynamic workloads that have evolved from those apps of yesteryear.

Original Link