Friday, July 20, 2018

Photo: Its iPhone Awards Time again

A picture is worth a thousand words, a way to tell a visual story and now that you can take increasingly high-quality photos with your mobile device without having to carry a bulky DSLR camera, it’s easier than ever before to experiment and get creative no matter where you are.
The iPhone Photography Awards (IPPAWARDS) platform recognizes these creative individuals and every year the bar is raised as the iPhone evolves and more specifically, the camera features and abilities to take truly beautiful high res images continue to advance and impress. This year the IPPAWARDS saw thousands of photographers from more than 140 countries enter in categories including Abstract, Animals, Architecture, Children, Floral, Landscape, Lifestyle, Nature, News-Events, Panorama, People, Portrait, Series, Still Life, Sunset, Travel, and Trees.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Auto: Nissan Gives All-Electric Leaf the Nismo Treatment

Following a smattering of concepts over the years, Nissan has now revealed the production Leaf Nismo that’s soon to go on sale – in Japan, at least. And while it doesn’t encompass any powertrain enhancements to speak of, it does offer an array of visual and handling upgrades.
Not the least of them is an ECU recalibrated for better acceleration response. It also features a retuned suspension with 18-inch alloys with grippier tires, reworked electric power-steering system, and aerodynamic enhancements to offer increased downforce without compromising the Leaf’s slippery drag coefficient.
Other upgrades include new bumpers (front and rear), a new grille, LED daytime running lights, and a smattering of Nismo emblems inside and out. The interior’s also been enhanced with a sportier steering wheel, wrapped in Alcantara and leather with a red center mark. The shifter, instruments, upholstery, and other trim are also unique to the Nismo model.
For better or worse, Nissan says it has “no plans to bring the LEAF NISMO to markets other than Japan,” so don’t go asking your local dealer (anywhere else in the world) for the performance-tuned EV or you’re liable to be laughed out of the showroom. But the Nismo model may help the Japanese automaker move more of the electric vehicles in its home market and help it achieve its stated goal of selling a million electrified models around the world each year by 2022.

Auto: Hyundai Sets Up On Amazon

Hyundai Motor Co. said on Wednesday it will set up a showroom on Amazon that will help car buyers book test drives, check dealer inventories and compare pricing and reviews.
The showroom will operate through Amazon Vehicles, a platform the world’s biggest online retailer launched in 2016, for users to research on cars, auto parts and accessories.
In recent months, Amazon has deepened its partnerships with automakers, aiming to embed its voice aide Alexa into cars.

Business: Wal-Mart Stays Top

Walmart keeps the top spot for the fifth consecutive year in FORTUNE's annual Global 500 list, ranking the world's largest corporations by revenue:
  1. Walmart (U.S.) 
  2. State Grid (China) 
  3. Sinopec Group (China)
  4. China Natural Petroleum (China) 
  5. Royal Dutch Shell (Netherlands)
  6. Toyota Motor (Japan) 
  7. Volkswagen (Germany)  
  8. BP (Britain)
  9. Exxon Mobil (U.S.) 
  10. Berkshire Hathaway (U.S.) 
Editor-in-Chief Clifton Leaf: “A decade ago, America was home to nearly a third (153) of the world’s 500 largest companies by revenue ... Our share is now a quarter (126). Over the same 10 years, meanwhile, China boosted its own representation on this venerable list from 29 companies to 111.” 

Culture: "Forward, Rewind"; The Pop Culture Resurgence of Cassette Tape

L-R: 13 Reasons Why, Guardians of the Galaxy, Better Call Saul
In a key action sequence in the forthcoming spy thriller, Atomic Blonde, the MI6 agent played by Charlize Theron proceeds to beat the hell out of several armed men who burst into her apartment. But before the ass-kicking begins, she pauses to do something crucial: pop in a cassette tape of George Michael’s “Father Figure,” the ’80s pop ballad that blares from old-school speakers as she uses ropes, refrigerator doors, and the heels of her boots to violently show these guys who’s boss.
The cassette tape has been showing up lately in a lot of major motion pictures and TV shows, and not just in films like Atomic Blonde or series like Snowfall that are set in the 1980s, the heyday for TDK. What’s unusual is how often they’re appearing in stories about the present as well.
In 13 Reasons Why, the contemporary Netflix teen drama that made headlines and dominated social media last spring, Hannah Baker leaves a suicide note in the form of multiple, dual-sided cassettes, just as she does in the book that inspired the series. On the third seasons of both The Leftovers and Better Call Saul, audio tapes become key to the plot. (Two of the year’s buzziest shows — Twin Peaks and The Handmaid’s Tale — also happen to feature tapes in their original source material even though the new incarnations haven’t touched on that element … yet.)
Meanwhile, at the movies this summer, Star Lord continues to demonstrate his cassette fixation in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The music-obsessed getaway master played by Ansel Elgort in Baby Driver maintains his own significant collection of mixtapes, in addition to plenty of vinyl and iPod playlists. Even in Despicable Me 3, the villainous Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), a former ’80s child star who never mentally graduated from that decade, uses cassettes to provide the soundtrack to his dastardly behavior.

Region: Cuba Makes Mobile Internet a [Limited] Reality

Cuba continues to make strides opening up to the rest of the world, and the island nation took another step with the addition of internet service on the mobile phones of select users.
According to, new Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel opened access to the mobile internet for journalists at state-run news outlets, but still blocks access to dissident websites. Even with the remaining roadblocks, the addition of internet access is a radical change.
The government previously approved an unspecified number of companies and embassies to purchase mobile data plans from state-runtelecom group, ETECSA. Officials from ETECSA also announced plans to offer mobile internet to five million mobile phone customers by the end of 2018, but the company did not provide details or a plan for achieving the goal.
“This rollout will expand slowly at first and then more quickly, if the government is increasingly confident that it can control any political fallout,” Baruch College Cuba expert Ted Henken told Reuters.
Over the last five years, Cuba has worked to increase connectivity on the island, including the introduction of cybercafes and outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots, but the country is still pushing hard for citizens to use government-sponsored applications and intranet providers.
While many Cubans are hopeful of a more connected nation, the process has been slow. The island is installing 3G technology and just 11,000 homes last year were connected to the internet.
One of the biggest issues facing the growth of connectivity is the price tag. The average monthly wage is $30 in Cuba, and internet hotspots charge $1 an hour while ETECSA charges companies and embassies $45 a month for four gigabytes. It remains unclear how much it will cost for mobile internet access.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Music: Ja. Youth Chorale Takes Silver in South Africa

JAMAICA Youth Chorale (JYC) is in celebratory mode after winning silver awards at the July 4-14 World Choir Games in South Africa.

The group — who competed last Thursday and Friday in the Champions Competition, second half of the Games — was awarded in the Spiritual and Mixed Chamber Choir genres.

JYC's principal, director and founder Gregory Simms is elated with the performance.

“I am very excited and satisfied by the performance the team gave, considering the circumstance we went through, we were not at our optimum,” he told the Jamaica Observer. “We experienced a major issue when our originally scheduled and booked flight was cancelled and that cancellation led to the team being split up, arriving on different days, taking two different routes...”.

As a result of the flight hiccup, Simms said the full team arrived in Johannesburg hours before they graced the stage.

“They got in about 11:00 pm and we had competition about midday the next day (Thursday) so that is how close we had to come in and go on, which is really a tough thing to do and to achieve the silver awards,” he explained. “Looking at the complex repertoire we had to compete with, I know we could have done better if we were at optimum; if we had arrived when we needed to arrive and do the necessary rest and hydration and exercises to be ready to compete when we needed to.”

The JYC competed against 11 choirs in the Mixed Chamber Choir category. Their collection comprised Psalm 24 by Noel Dexter, Northern Lights by Ola Gjeilo, Contate Domino by Josef Swider, and Andrew Marshall's Home Thoughts. The Spiritual category had 10 competitors; JYC copped the silver medal with My Soul's Been Anchored in The Lord by Carol Barnett, Give Me Jesus (Marques LA Garnett), Wade in The Water (Mark Butler) and Caan Ketch Mi Again (arranged by Andrew Marshall).