Travel industry waiting to see if storms force change in winter destinations

MONTREAL — Airlines scurrying to evacuate customers from Caribbean islands in the destructive path of hurricane Irma say it’s not yet clear if the storm will have lasting impact on next winter’s sun vacation options.“We aren’t yet in a position to discuss this,” said WestJet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart. “It sounds like the islands that have been affected are still assessing damage. In addition to that, the hurricane’s path continues.”The Calgary-based airline has joined Air Canada and Air Transat in sending airplanes south to bring customers home.The deadly hurricane that carried 298 kph winds caused massive damage as it barrelled through Barbuda, Antigua, St. Maarten and Puerto Rico.It was causing flooding as it tracked north of Dominican Republic and Haiti on the way to Cuba and Florida.“We have very little information today on the impact that the hurricanes may have on the rest of the season on our sun routes next winter,” Denis Petrin, chief financial officer of Transat A.T. said during a conference call Thursday to discuss its quarterly results.About 60 per cent of its seats to sun destinations are for travel to Dominican Republic, Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean.The Montreal-based company (TSX:TRZ) said it is trying to be very flexible to accommodate passengers whose holiday plans are affected by the storm. It will divert travellers to other destinations that aren’t impacted or give them credit to travel at another time of the year.Chief executive Jean-Marc Eustache said the immediate financial impact is not huge, but costs will increase if there are new hurricanes every few days.He noted that it’s not the first time that island hotels have faced hurricanes.“Five years ago was a very tough season for hurricanes and at the end of the day everything was there to send the customers,” he told analysts.The executive director of the Canadian Association of Tour Operators says some resorts will definitely be impacted by the storm.“But history shows that they are amazingly resilient and capable to rebound quickly,” said Pierre LePage.He said Canadians wanting to escape the cold winter will look to other destinations, such as Mexico, if the one they were considering is heavily damaged.“It will affect some resorts but it certainly won’t affect the business model that our tour operators utilize,” LePage added in an interview.Shares of Transat plummeted 9.2 per cent at $9.15 on the Toronto Stock Exchange even though it profits nearly tripled during the summer.The company said its third-quarter net income soared to $26.6 million, from $9.4 million a year earlier, while revenue grew 10.5 per cent to $733.2 million.Transat said higher revenue was driven by an 8.7 per cent increase in travellers on transatlantic routes, its main market for the third quarter.But the travel company said major storms in the Caribbean and surrounding countries could hurt its forecast that adjusted operating income in the fourth quarter will be similar to 2015, and up from last year.Industry observers expect the company will benefit from a lower Canadian dollar. read more

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Push for establishment of an OHCHR Office in Sri Lanka

It also calls for assistance to Sri Lanka to bring witness protection into line with international standards and to ensure its independence.The statement also calls on the UNHRC member states to enter into agreements with Sri Lanka to relocate to safe countries victims and witnesses who face serious risk due to their engagement with the justice, truth or reparation mechanisms. Amnesty International also notes that technical assistance and financial support must be offered for the development and implementation of a genuine and effective consultation process and justice, truth and reparation mechanism in Sri Lanka that meet international standards and for legal reforms and any other steps to ensure non-recurrence. The written statement also notes that efforts must be taken to ensure that all assistance provided emphasizes the centrality of victims and their special status in the design and implementation of mechanisms to deliver truth, justice, reparation and nonrecurrence of violations. The UN human Rights Council is to be urged to push Sri Lanka to establish an office linked to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Sri Lanka.In a written statement submitted to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for its 31st session which begins next week, Amnesty International has urged the Council to encourage the Sri Lankan authorities to affirm and deliver on the national and international human rights commitments made in 2015 and ensure that the Human Rights Council monitors progress and insists on implementation. Amnesty International also wants assistance for Sri Lanka to develop a rigorous human rights vetting program for law enforcement agencies and the military for domestic purposes.It also seeks cooperation and mutual legal assistance to Sri Lankan or hybrid courts seeking to prosecute persons suspected of crimes under international law or other serious human rights violations, subject to safeguards precluding the imposition of the death penalty. (Colombo Gazette) read more

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Stingray Group drops takeover offer for US company Music Choice

MONTREAL — Stingray Group Inc. has dropped its takeover attempt of Music Choice.Montreal-based Stingray, which provides music and in-store media, had made the unsoliticited bid for the U.S. company in August last year.The offer was worth US$120 million.Music Choice produces music programming and music-related content for digital cable television, mobile phone and cable modem users.Stingray chief executive Eric Boyko says while the company continues to see benefits in a combination with Music Choice, it’s confident in its strategic direction.Stingray announced Monday a distribution agreement with Altice USA, which will bring 50 Stingray music audio channels and hundreds of music videos from its on-demand catalogue to Altice USA’s subscribers.Companies in this story: (TSX:RAY.A) read more

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Amazons 2nd Prime Day orders breezed past firstyear totals

FILE – This Sept. 6, 2012, file photo, shows the Amazon logo in Santa Monica, Calif. Amazon’s “Prime Day” is back. Amazon says Prime Day, on Tuesday, July 12, 2016, was its biggest day ever with orders up 60 percent globally from a year earlier. Sales of Amazon’s own electronic devices were particularly strong. The e-commerce powerhouse launched the event in July 2015 to promote its $99 annual Prime loyalty program, which offers free two-day shipping and other perks. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File) by Mae Anderson, The Associated Press Posted Jul 13, 2016 9:38 am MDT Last Updated Jul 13, 2016 at 3:25 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Amazon’s 2nd Prime Day orders breezed past first-year totals NEW YORK, N.Y. – Amazon’s big sales day is here to stay.Amazon says Prime Day orders rose 60 per cent globally this year versus last year’s inaugural showing. It says sales of Amazon’s own electronic devices were particularly strong.And the company says that this won’t be the last “Prime Day.”“After yesterday’s results, we’ll definitely be doing this again,” Greg Greeley, Amazon Prime vice-president, said on Wednesday.The e-commerce powerhouse launched the event last July to promote its $99 annual Prime loyalty program, which offers free two-day shipping and other perks. The loyalty program is a key platform for Amazon because Prime members shop more frequently and spend more money.After some morning checkout glitches Tuesday, sales accelerated later in the day. For example, the company said it had sold 22,000 TVs in the U.S. by 11 a.m. Eastern time, but that number grew to 90,000 by the end of the day.The Fire TV stick was the bestselling Amazon device and it was the biggest sales day for Amazon’s smart speaker the Echo.The Seattle company did not disclose any specific sales figures.Sales were offered in the U.S., Canada and Europe where Prime membership is available. Amazon says orders grew 50 per cent in the U.S. alone.PiperJaffray analyst Gene Munster said Amazon’s results beat his expectations for 37 per cent growth, and the results solidify Prime Day as an annual holiday sales day.“While many investors had feared that early day cart glitches would hinder Prime Day, we believe that the results indicate that the Amazon Prime brand remains strong and user engagement continues to improve,” he said in a note to clients.Benchmark analyst Daniel Kurnos said that while he didn’t find that many “compelling” deals on the site, and that some deals were on older models of goods, Prime Day was an example of “how to make clearance look good.” He estimates the day added 3 percentage points to quarterly revenue and 6 million new Prime members. Amazon, which doesn’t disclose the number of Prime members it has other than that it is in the “tens of millions,” did not comment on how many new Prime members signed up for the program during the sale.Amazon.com Inc. shares slipped $4.56 to $753.65 in afternoon trading Wednesday. Its shares are up 63 per cent over the past year. read more

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Track and Field Kendall Sheffield breaks 60meter record in Ohio States final

In the final meet before the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships, the Ohio State men’s and women’s track teams placed in the top two spots of 25 different events in the Buckeye Tune Up on Friday at French Field House, highlighted by Kendall Sheffield’s record-breaking sprint. Men’s recapSheffield, the Ohio State football team’s cornerback, broke the Ohio State’s 60-meter dash record and the French Field House record with a time of 6.663. The previous team record held by Jonathan Burrell and was 6.665. “It feels great to break the record,” Sheffield said. That time currently puts him at 24th in the nation. With his goal being one of 16 competitors at the national championships in March, Sheffield will have to trim off 0.03 of his time to earn a bid.Junior Coty Cobb reached the 5.41-meter mark on the pole vault for a personal record and stand as qualifier for nationals with one competition remaining. This was the goal for Cobb heading into this meet, and before he even landed on the pit, he was already celebrating what he had accomplished.“I was trying not to celebrate too hard and get ready for the next jump,” Cobb said.Cobb’s teammate senior Cole Gorski, whose personal best 5.47 meters is currently inside the top 16, had a disappointing day, but still finished second at 5.12 meters.The next jump was at 5.49 meters, or 18 feet, a mark that would’ve placed Cobb inside the top 10 in the nation. The closest he came to jumping that height was on his first attempt, when his body grazed the bar just enough to dislodge it.With one meet remaining before the national indoor championships, the No. 20 Ohio State men’s team has six athletes currently qualified, including top long jump qualifier Zach Bazile.Women’s recapIn throwing, junior Sade Olatoye finished second in weight throw at 22.61 meters. The distance would have broken her previous record she held at the French Field House had it not been already surpassed by Cincinnati’s senior Annette Echikunwoke, who recorded a 24.78-meter throw, the best in the nation so far this year.Olatoye did go on to win shot put with a throw of 16.78 meters.Freshman Anavia Battle continues to lead the Buckeyes’ sprinters, this time winning the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.43. Although she didn’t compete in the 200-meter dash, Ohio State didn’t have any trouble with the event for freshman Syaira Richardson finished first with a time of 24.69. Freshman Brooke Mangas got her first collegiate first place finish in high jump. She won with a jump 1.63 meters. In a rematch at pole vault from last week’s Music City Challenge meet, Cincinnati’s junior Brooke Catherine finished first at 4.11 meters ahead of senior Madison Roberts, who finished second at 4.01. Ohio State sophomore Megan Hoffman finished fourth (3.91).Ohio State heads off to the Big Ten Indoor Championships next weekend in Geneva, Ohio. read more

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Iceland halts road project to avoid affecting elves

first_imgICELANDIC AUTHORITIES have halted construction on a major road project to avoid affecting ‘hidden elves’ living in the country’s wilderness.The road – a direct route from the Alftanes peninsula, where the president has a home, to the Reykjavik suburb of Gardabaer – has been stopped until the country’s Supreme Court rules on a challenge brought by elf advocates and environmentalists.The Friends of Lava group fear disturbing elf habitat and claim the area is particularly important because it contains an elf church.And it’s not the first time issues around Huldufolk, Icelandic for “hidden folk,” have affected planning decisions.They occur so often that the road and coastal administration has come up with a stock media response for elf inquiries, which states that “issues have been settled by delaying the construction project at a certain point while the elves living there have supposedly moved on.” The Northern Lights, seen from Kópavogur, Iceland Source: aevargElves are no joke to many in Iceland, population 320,000. A survey conducted by the University of Iceland in 2007 found that 62 percent of the 1,000 respondents thought it was at least possible that elves exist.Andri Snaer Magnason, a well-known environmentalist, said his major concern was that the road would cut the lava field in two, among other things, destroying nesting sites.“Some feel that the elf thing is a bit annoying,” said Magnason, adding that personally he was not sure they existed. However, he added, “I got married in a church with a god just as invisible as the elves, so what might seem irrational is actually quite common” with Icelanders.Terry Gunnell, a folklore professor at the University of Iceland, said he was not surprised by the wide acceptance of the possibility of elves. He said similar beliefs are found in western Ireland, but they thrive in Iceland because people remain in close contact with the land.This Samsung advert is the most hilariously awful thing you’ll see today>Dublin driver wins Christmas with fully-decorated tree… on his truck>last_img read more

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Irish priest being sued for alleged rape in USA

first_imgOn one occasions when [the defendant and plaintiff] happened to be alone in the kitchen. [She] was still in deep emotional grief about her father. Suddenly, [the defendant] pushed her up against the kitchen cabinet, started kissing her, put his hand down her pants and digitally raped her.She broke away and hid in a closet, according to the files. She also has a “vague memory” of another incident where the defendant was “on top of her”.Attorneys for the plaintiff say she has “virtually no memory of the details of that evening or anything else for the remainder of 1970″. She was eventually diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2009/2010.The actions for damages cited in the complaint are sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. A jury trial has been requested.In a statement to TheJournal.ie, the chancellor of the Diocese of Fresno confirmed that a “third-party, unsubstantiated complaint” against a priest on a short-term visit in 1970 had been received.The Diocese of Fresno immediately engaged response procedures, which includes: a request that the third party encourage the complainant to come forward so that the diocese may be directly present to the concern by offering outreach, opening a diocesan investigation, notifying any other (arch)diocese or religious order of which the accused priest is currently residing, and following mandated reporting law if applicable. Response procedures can evolve upon the receipt of more detailed information.It added that a further response could evolve once further detail is received.The Spiritans are aware of the law suit filed against a named member of the congregation but told TheJournal.ie it could not comment on specific claims or legal proceedings.After reading a TIME Magazine article about abuse by Catholic church priests in Boston in 2003, the plaintiff reported the alleged sexual assault to a parish deacon and parish priest in her local diocese. A separate suit was filed for injuries suffered as a result of the way she was treated after she reported the abuse.Comments have been disabled as court proceedings have started.High Court to hear case of African man allegedly abused by Irish priestThe Irish Province of Spiritans: “Failure to create safe environments for children” A CALIFORNIAN WOMAN is to sue an Irish priest who allegedly raped her in 1970 when she was 16 years old, US court documents show.The priest, who is believed to be about 80 years old and living in Dublin, was visiting the diocese of Fresno when the alleged incident occurred.The civil complaint, filed at the Superior Court of the State of California in Fresno County on 6 May, outlines the plaintiff’s claims that she was molested and digitally raped by the member of the Holy Ghost Fathers (now Spiritans) shortly after the sudden death of her father.According to the woman’s lawyers, the defendant became a close friend of the family while he was assigned to the local St Anthony of Padua Church. He regularly swam with the children in their swimming pool and often played golf with the father.The complaint contends that a total of 25 un-named defendants – including other people within the Catholic Church in Ireland and the US – “knew or should have known” that the priest may sexually assault minors “yet did nothing to prevent this from happening”.The plaintiff believes that all 25 defendants conspired to “facilitate, ratify or authorise” the alleged unlawful conduct. She claims that she has suffered severe emotional distress, including post-traumatic stress disorder, as a direct result of the alleged rape.Charisma and a brogueThe civil action details the plaintiff’s Catholic faith and the importance of the Church to her family. The documents state that she was taught that priests were to be revered and trusted, and that she must be “wholly obedient”.The priest is described as “very striking and charismatic” with a strong Irish brogue. He had been working in Nigeria was was “between assignments” in the summer of 1970.Court documents recount details of the alleged incident, as recalled by the plaintiff. Her father died on 8 July and in the subsequent weeks, the priest continued to “hang around” the family home.last_img read more

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Romanera lovers of Modena buried handinhand were men

first_imgRoman-era ‘lovers of Modena’, buried hand-in-hand, were men Exactly why the two men were carefully laid to rest with their hands interlocked remains a mystery. Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article Image: Archeomodena Fri 10:30 PM 34,552 Views Image: Archeomodena Short URL A PAIR OF fifth-century skeletons buried hand-in-hand and known since their discovery in 2009 as the “lovers of Modena” are both men, researchers reported this week.Unable to verify their sex, scientists had simply assumed the degraded skeletons belong to a man and a woman, possibly lovers who resided in the north Italian town famous for its vinegar.But a new technique for analysing protein in tooth enamel has left no doubt that this was a same-sex burial. Exactly why the two men were carefully laid to rest with their hands interlocked remains a mystery.Several of 11 other skeletons unearthed at the same burial site showed signs of violent injury consistent with warfare, according to the study, published in Scientific Reports.“The two ‘lovers’ could have been war comrades or friends who died together during a skirmish and were thus buried in the same grave,” University of Bologna professor Frederico Lugli and colleagues speculated.“Alternatively, the two individuals were relatives — possibly cousins or brothers given their similar ages — sharing the same grave due to their family bond.”It seems unlikely, they continued, that they were buried as a same-sex couple.“Although we cannot exclude that these two individuals were actually in love, it is unlikely that people who buried them decided to show such a bond by positioning their bodies hand-in-hand,” the researchers concluded.There are at least half-a-dozen other examples of adults buried with hands intertwined reaching back to Neolithic times 8,000 years ago, but all are thought to be man-and-woman couples.“The discovery of two adult males intentionally buried hand-in-hand may have profound implications for our understanding of funerary practices in Late Antiquity Italy,” the researchers said.The technique used to distinguish sex is based on a protein, called amelogenin, that is expressed differently in the tooth enamel of men and women.- © AFP 2019  By AFP 26 Comments Share5 Tweet Email Friday 13 Sep 2019, 10:30 PM https://jrnl.ie/4809311 last_img read more

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Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram The Pontiaki Estia, in conjunction with the Lemnos Gallipoli Group, is hosting a fundraiser as part of its monthly mazi tavern nights, with proceeds to go towards the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial Appeal.Join in on the festivities, as the night will commemorate the connection between Lemnos and the Anzacs throughout the Gallipoli campaign in 1915. Entry is free and meze plates and drinks can be purchased on the night. Entertainment will be provided by local musicians from Pontian, Cretan and Thracian regions.When: Friday 29 August at 7.00 pm Where: Pontiaki Estia, 540 Sydney Road, Brunswick, Melbourne, 3056 To book a ticket call 03 9381 1761 For more details visit http://bit.ly/1sE7pp0 last_img read more

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Free Web Tools for Everyday Operations

first_imgFlickr, an online network that features photographs and images submitted by members, offers publishers an alternative to the stock images from services like Getty and Corbis, as well as a chance to showcase their own work. Flickr does not own the rights to use photographs found on the site—every photo is property of the appropriate rights-holder of the image. A large collection of Creative Commons licensed photographs are available to anyone as long as they are using the appropriate licenses, provide proper attribution and have cleared any additional requirements, such as model releases.From time to time, companies may choose to advertise on or sponsor a Flickr group or area of the site in order to engage the Flickr community through the sharing of photography. Flickr has a formal and standard sponsorship program that allows for sanctioned activity but community guidelines do not allow commercial usage by third parties except through formal relationships, or through Getty Images. In July, Flickr announced a partnership with that old publisher standby, Getty Images, which can now invite Flickr members to participate in a Flickr-branded collection on gettyimages.com. Thousands of images are available for licensing to Getty Image’s creative commercial and editorial customers.Twitter: The Editor’s New Best Friend? Many publishers are leveraging established social networks like Facebook to promote their titles and push content out to the Web. The Nation recently added Twitter—a service that lets members stay connected and share news with short messages—to its arsenal. “We’re putting up four stories a day,” says online director Jeff Larson. “Right now we have 66 followers but that’s just word of mouth. We will soon start promoting onsite with RSS.” During the first week of September, The Nation received an additional 24,130 viewers from links and postings on other free sites. “That’s relatively quiet,” says Larson. “Often digg, reddit and del.icio.us can send much more when a big story hits.”Twitterholic is a service that scrapes the network for the most popular posters. Many publishers, including Time, are having editors post to Twitter to develop a following. “Get your columnists and experts to put stories on Twitter,” says Jim Louderback, CEO of Internet video company Revision3 and former editor-in-chief of PC Magazine. “When they develop a following, it binds that following to your brand. You may also find people in the community who should be part of your brand.” Portal sites are also offering new traffic-driving services. With Yahoo! Buzz, Yahoo determines the most popular searches, then showcases the most popular stories within those topics, based on activities like voting and users e-mailing the stories to friends. Stories with the most buzz may be published on the Yahoo home page. Publishers can put Yahoo Buzz buttons on their own site to drive votes.Sphere is a service that offers contextual matching technology, which can index and text artifacts or media associated with text and generate related content without additional meta-data. Services include contextual embedded links, widgets and video. The Sphere-related content widget finds blog posts and media articles related to the content. Time, Newsweek and People.com are using Sphere.SIDEBAR:How Open Source Might Come Back to Haunt Magazine M&AOpen source—a program whose source code is made available for use or modification as users or other developers see fit—is enabling publishers to ramp up their online businesses quickly and cheaply. And a publisher with a healthy Web business can be valued between 10-to-15x EBITDA, compared to six-to-10x EBITDA for print-only.However, some M&A experts say an open source-based business could come back to haunt the buyer of that business—especially if they buy something without realizing its key products are based on open source software. With software patent lawsuits costing $2 million to $5 million, you better know what you have and whether all conditions have been honored.“Open source is a big issue,” says Charlie Engros, managing partner at legal firm Morgan Lewis. “When you buy a commercial enterprise today, there’s an excellent chance it includes open source software. You could also be buying a lawsuit because someone could force you to make that software freely available to the world.” New applications are emerging that can detect open source installations, such as OpenLogic Discovery, which identifies installed open source software through graphical interface and command-line interface. With the American IP Law Association estimating defense against a software patent lawsuit costing between $2 million and $5 million, that’s a strong incentive for potential buyers to make open source part of the due diligence process and make sure all terms and licenses with open source software have been fulfilled. In today’s Web-first, print-second workflow, any tool or service that offers a high quality solution quickly—and even better—for free, is highly prized. But publishers are starting to catch on to the fact that they can leverage public and shared sites to meet many of their needs, from pushing stories out to more eyeballs than their usual audience to finding high quality stock photos and artwork at a fraction of the cost of hiring a photographer or dedicated illustrator.“We’ve been using quite a few open source solutions for years, which is what many of the sites like Flickr, Twitter and Facebook are based upon,” says Jay Hook, IT director for Reni Publishing. “Personally, I feel that open source in the publishing world is going to become a turning point for many independent publishers as they become more user-friendly and feature-rich. Many publishers are unaware of the solutions available, mainly due to a lack of research.”Reni is now in the early stages of looking at a free site for creating digital editions, called Issuu. “It also has its own markup language, which is used to control the viewer’s theme,” says Hook. “This means that designers will have the ability to create all kinds of new things for the Issuu viewer.” More for Lesslast_img read more

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Sitkans DOT look for solutions to bleak ferry schedule

first_imgThe ferry Taku sails into the Wrangell Narrows on its way south in 2013. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)Sitkans turned out in force last week for a lunchtime brainstorming session to address the proposed ferry schedule, but the Department of Transportation couldn’t make any promises that things would improve.Deputy Commissioner of Transportation Mike Neussl spent about two hours explaining the shortfalls in his budget next year, and listening to ideas from the more than 30 Sitkans in the audience.Sitka will have only two ferry calls a week under the proposed summer schedule for 2016 — one northbound ship, and one southbound. In 2015, Sitka had a total of eight ferry calls a week, four ships in each direction.Neussl explained that his budget has been cut by nearly $15-million dollars next year — part of cuts across the board in the Department of Transportation — and that he simply couldn’t keep 11 ships in service on the reduced funding.He said that the current strategy at the Marine Highway System was to maintain service to all ports, at reduced levels, rather than cut any runs out altogether.But some in the audience thought this was where the marine highway should start looking for savings. Barb DeLong:“I just think a lot of people use that in the wintertime — or whenever — that don’t necessarily go all the way to Bellingham. If it comes down to that — and I wouldn’t want to be shot for saying this — but I almost think that our Southeast connections are more important to us in Southeast than going all the way to Bellingham.”Neussl responded that eliminating redundancy — or eliminating ferries that covered routes served by roads — made sense. However, Canada’s restrictive border policies regarding firearms and pets were among the more compelling reason to keep the mainliners running within US ports.He also emphasized that the marine highway system has a service component; it was important to make runs to Pelican and Tenakee, for instance, even though the passenger revenue didn’t always justify the costs.Service was a consistent theme of the meeting. Sitka High student Colin Baccioco said sports teams and other student activity groups would pay more for better ferry service, as long as it remained economical compared to air fare.Superintendent Mary Wegner said the reduced ferry service would affect how many students could afford to participate in extra-curricular activities.“These co-curricular activities are critical from a student’s point of view, as well as an adult point of view. We also have a school board activities committee that’s been meeting with coaches. The number one thing they say is that ferry service is really impacting equity and participation.”Mayor Mim McConnell urged caution on increasing rates too much, because of the economic strain it would place on Sitkans. But she would accept some increase “as long as it meant improved service.”Neussl said that the marine highway had already made significant cuts: The on-board bars are gone, so are travel agent commissions, the Taku has been tied up and the system is looking at retiring other ships, and it’s imposed cancellation fees on large commercial shippers.But, like the overall state budget, cuts alone don’t even come close. “We’ve kept service to every port,” Neussl said, “but it’s bleak.”last_img read more

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US quarantines thousands of migrants over mumps

first_imgEmergency Medical Technician (EMT) Tyler G Massey ties a migrant child`s shoe at a shelter in Deming, New Mexico, US on 27 May . Photo: ReutersUS authorities said Friday they had placed 5,200 detained migrants into quarantine, mainly over exposure to mumps, linking a surge in cases to a recent outbreak of the contagious disease in Central America.An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official told AFP that as of 13 June almost 4,300 detainees were being confined across 39 facilities for exposure to mumps, more than 800 for exposure to chicken pox, and about a hundred for both.The first confirmed case of mumps among ICE detainees was reported on 7 September, 2018 and since then the figure has grown to 334, the official added.Nathalie Asher, ICE’s executive associate director of enforcement and removal operations, said that 75 per cent of the current detention population came directly from the border, while the others were detained within the US.Given this, and recent outbreaks of mumps in Central America, “the preponderance of evidence points to the major influx at our Southwest border being, at minimum, a significant contributing factor of these occurrences,” she said.”The impact is significant in the short and long term,” she said, including longer detentions and delayed removals.The number in quarantine represent about a tenth of the approximately 52,000 ICE detainees overall.The agency was giving exposed asymptomatic detainees measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines and quarantining them for 25 days from the last incubation period, it said.Mumps is a contagious disease with symptoms such as puffy cheeks and a tender, swollen jaw as well as fever, muscle aches and loss of appetite.Most people make a full recovery within two weeks but in rare cases there can be severe complications.The US has been experiencing its own sporadic mumps outbreaks in the past several years, which scientists believe might be linked to the vaccine’s waning immunity over time and the need for a booster shot at the age of 18.Cases fell dramatically after the two-MMR dose program was introduced in 1989, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with only a few hundred reported annually for several years thereafter.But they have been on the rise again since 2006, with more than 6,000 cases in 2006, 2016 and 2017.There have been 1,002 cases reported this year from January 1 to 24 May.last_img
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How Steven Spielberg Used VR Headsets to Shoot Ready Player One Video

first_imgSome of these efforts aren’t quite as elegant as the VR Oasis depicted in the movie, but Spielberg’s use of VR headsets to film “Ready Player One” goes to show once again that the technology of the film isn’t as futuristic as it seems. Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” isn’t just an ode to virtual reality (VR), the famed director also used VR headsets to work on the film. A new video, released by HTC on Twitter Friday morning, shows how the company’s headsets were used by Spielberg himself as well as some of the actors on set. ×Actors Reveal Their Favorite Disney PrincessesSeveral actors, like Daisy Ridley, Awkwafina, Jeff Goldblum and Gina Rodriguez, reveal their favorite Disney princesses. Rapunzel, Mulan, Ariel,Tiana, Sleeping Beauty and Jasmine all got some love from the Disney stars.More VideosVolume 0%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard Shortcutsplay/pauseincrease volumedecrease volumeseek forwardsseek backwardstoggle captionstoggle fullscreenmute/unmuteseek to %SPACE↑↓→←cfm0-9Next UpJennifer Lopez Shares How She Became a Mogul04:350.5x1x1.25×1.5x2xLive00:0002:1502:15 Popular on Variety The idea to use VR for the production of movies isn’t entirely new. Film makers have and VR developers have in particular been looking for ways to use headsets for pre-visualization — the raw animated versions of movie scenes that give directors a first idea on how sets are coming together, and how actors will move through a space.Last month, Disney Research even unveiled a new project that is designed to automatically turn scripts into VR pre-visualizations. That project, dubbed Cardinal, combines artificial intelligence with VR, and is currently focused on VR-specific film productions. However,  Disney Research digital platforms group lead Sasha Schriber said that her group was looking to possibly bring the technology to traditional productions over time as well.As for “Ready Player One,” the movie has been regarded by many VR enthusiasts as a possible stepping stone to a wider VR adoption. HTC’s partnership with Warner Bros. also involves a few VR experiences based on the film, and other VR companies have produced their own versions of the film’s VR worlds as well.last_img read more

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Facebook to LiveStream Boxing Matches From Oscar De La Hoyas Golden Boy

first_img ×Actors Reveal Their Favorite Disney PrincessesSeveral actors, like Daisy Ridley, Awkwafina, Jeff Goldblum and Gina Rodriguez, reveal their favorite Disney princesses. Rapunzel, Mulan, Ariel,Tiana, Sleeping Beauty and Jasmine all got some love from the Disney stars.More VideosVolume 0%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard Shortcutsplay/pauseincrease volumedecrease volumeseek forwardsseek backwardstoggle captionstoggle fullscreenmute/unmuteseek to %SPACE↑↓→←cfm0-9Next UpJennifer Lopez Shares How She Became a Mogul04:350.5x1x1.25×1.5x2xLive00:0002:1502:15 The boxing bouts will not carry any advertising. So far, none of the live sports broadcasts on Facebook have carried ads but the company has been experimenting with inserting ads into live-streaming video.For the live Facebook boxing series, Golden Boy has teamed with Kathy Duva’s Main Events boxing promotion company to increase “the number of world-class fighters to be featured.” Golden Boy’s live boxing series on Facebook will be augmented with “shoulder programming,” including rebroadcasts of past fights featuring commentary from the boxers themselves, with the first content slated to debut July 13. The on-demand programming also will feature celebrities, influencers, and boxing commentators.De La Hoya, a former prizefighter who won multiple boxing world titles in six different weight classes, touted the Facebook agreement as a “game-changing deal for the sport of boxing.” “The reach of Facebook is just incredible, and our sponsorship conversations will truly resonate with brands across all categories,” De La Hoya said in a statement. Kathy Duva added, “We look now to a future with Facebook with unlimited opportunity, where promoters can work together to best serve the interests of the fighters and fans all over the world.”Golden Boy Media and Entertainment will produce the live fights and original programming for Facebook, with De La Hoya serving as executive producer. The content will take advantage of Facebook’s social features; for example, the live broadcasts will incorporate the real-time fan interaction and engagement.For Facebook, the Golden Boy boxing deal is the latest in its strategy to drive up viewing on Watch. The company’s most recent live sports deals include with action-sports company Nitro Circus and Fox Sports for Ice Cube’s Big3 basketball league. Popular on Variety center_img Facebook is punching up its video lineup with more live sports, inking a deal with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions to stream live boxing and original programming on the platform.The live boxing will be available to fans in the U.S. on Facebook Watch and globally via the Golden Boy Promotions page on Facebook (at this link). The pact expands L.A.-based Golden Boy’s distribution outlets, which include deals with ESPN, ESPN, ESPN Deportes, HBO, EstrellaTV, and RingTV.com. The company also distributes content on owned-and-operated sites CaneloGGG.com and GoldenBoyPPV.com.Under the pact, the first of Golden Boy’s five live fight nights on Facebook will be Aug. 11, featuring Jesus Rojas (26-1-2, 19 KOs) defending his WBA World Featherweight title against Joseph “JoJo “Diaz Jr. (26-1, 14 KOs) at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood. The second live bout be on Aug. 18 with light heavyweight contender Sullivan Barrera (21-2, 14 KOs) squaring off against a yet-to-be announced opponent at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pa.last_img read more

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Cold War Spy Photos Show How Fast Himalayan Glaciers Are Melting

first_imgAs for Mount Everest, which was part of the study area, the authors say they expect the mountain’s glaciers won’t melt in the next few decades, but trails will likely be more difficult to traverse with falling rocks and bigger streams to cross as the ice continues to melt. Mountaineers say climbing routes in the Himalayas will get tougher as glaciers that keep the rocks together are now retreating, fragmenting, and melting.One researcher says using Cold War satellite images was a clever scientific trick. “Other people used [the images] on a case-by-case, or mountain-by-mountain basis, but covering the entire Himalayas was quite a feat,” says Jeffrey Kargel, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson who was not involved in the study.Both lead author Maurer and his advisor Schaefer have hiked through the Himalayas for the past few years to collect data about the fate of the world’s highest mountain range. Schaefer believes their research on melting glaciers will affect millions of people. “We have to prepare the societies living there with realistic predictions of what this landscape will look like in 10 or 20 years,” Schaefer says.Rebuilding the glaciers and reversing the melting waters will take a massive effort not only to cut down on emissions, but also by somehow pulling carbon out of the air, he adds: “You have to cool the planet.” During the height of the Cold War, a telescope-shaped American spy satellite code-named Hexagon circled the globe snapping high-resolution photographs of forests, mountains, and perhaps a few Russian military bases. From time to time, the satellite would eject metal canisters containing the film of the imagery. The canister would deploy its parachute, and high-flying spy planes would pick it up midair.Now a team of scientists has stitched together these once-classified analog images to form a three-dimensional digital model of the Himalayas as they existed more than 40 years ago. By comparing the model with images taken today, researchers found that the mountain’s glaciers are melting at double the rate since 2000 as during the period of 1976 to 2000, and that a warming climate is the culprit.[embedded content]While scientists have documented melting of individual glaciers in the Himalayas, this new study looks at a 1,250-mile-wide range across Nepal, Bhutan, India, and China, and reveals some disturbing news. “The fact we can look at ice losses over this long of a time scale and see most of the glaciers have lost similar amounts of ice really indicates there is one overarching factor causing this,” says Josh Maurer, a graduate student at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and author of a new study out today in the journal Science Advances. “Global temperature rise is the only one that makes sense.” More Great WIRED StoriesThe Cold War project that pulled climate science from iceiPadOS isn’t just a name. It’s a new direction for AppleHow to stop robocalls—or at least slow them downEverything you want—and need—to know about aliensHow early-stage VCs decide where to invest🏃🏽‍♀️ Want the best tools to get healthy? Check out our Gear team’s picks for the best fitness trackers, running gear (including shoes and socks), and best headphones.📩 Get even more of our inside scoops with our weekly Backchannel newslettercenter_img Maurer said he and his team eliminated two other possible causes for the rapid melting: tiny particles of black soot from Asian factories that land on the snow, absorb solar radiation, and melt the ice; and less rainfall in the high mountains. The study looked at images of 650 individual glaciers and found they have been losing a foot and a half of ice each year since 2000, threatening water supplies for millions of people who rely on Himalayan meltwater throughout large parts of Asia. A similar study released earlier this year by a group of more than 250 researchers predicted the Himalayas could lose two-thirds of their glacial ice by 2100. But until this year, most researchers have focused on individual mountains or specific regions, and as a result have not pinpointed the overall cause of the melting.The Columbia team’s report is more bad news for a region that is likely to be hit by stronger coastal flooding from tropical monsoons that arise in the Indian Ocean, and less fresh water draining from the mountains. This double-whammy from climate change is already underway, and waterways such as the Ganges River are most at risk, according to Joerg Schaefer, a climate geochemist at Lamont-Doherty and another author of the paper.More than 800 million people in South Asia rely on seasonal Himalayan runoff for irrigation, hydropower, and drinking water. “In 10 years, the conditions will change the hydrology of these huge rivers” like the Ganges, Schaefer says. The loss of glacial meltwater “has impacts on agriculture, on energy, given the huge expansion of hydropower in India.” Schaefer adds he and other scientists have been meeting with policymakers in the region to discuss what they should do about their results.Rapidly melting glacial water poses another more unpredictable danger as it gets blocked by piles of rubble and forms glacial lakes that can burst and flood communities downstream. These glacial lake outburst floods have killed thousands of people in the Andes, Himalayas, and Alps during the past century.last_img read more

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Latest Budget Smartphones on Discount Includes Redmi K20 Pro Xiaomi Mi 9T

first_imgWe have updated our list of smartphones which brings the latest smartphones to your reach. That’s right, today, we have one of the most hyped devices available on our list of budget smartphones on discount. While we entitled the smartphones as ‘budget’, the smartphones themselves give a tough time to high-end devices with their unique features and design. So let’s dive in to see some more details on the list of best budget smartphones on discount.Latest and Greatest Budget Smartphones on Discount – Featuring Xiaomi Mi 9T, Redmi K20 Pro and Huawei Nova 4Before we proceed with the list, do take note that the budget smartphones on discount are only available for a limited time and the price drop might expire soon. What this means is that the discount will revert to its original model and we wouldn’t want that. So be sure to grab your share as soon as you can.Xiaomi Mi 9TXiaomi is back with another major addition to the Mi 9 family. Today we have the mighty Xiaomi Mi 9T in store, which brings several major design variations compared to its elder flagship sibling – the Xiaomi Mi 9. First, we get the pop-up selfie camera, bolstering the practicality of a full-screen display. Also, it features the Snapdragon 730, 6GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage.If you’re enticed to get your hands on the device, it is available at a good 6 percent off as part of our list of budget smartphones on discount. This brings the price to come down to just $286.99. Use the code GBMI9T500 to avail the discount. Head over to this link to get it.Redmi K20 ProOne of the best budget smartphones on discount on our list, the Redmi K20 Pro brings power to the budget category. That’s right, the mighty Snapdragon 855 is just too much for your everyday tasks and bolsters long gaming sessions without a single hiccup. In addition, it also features a pop-up selfie camera so you enjoy the entire display as it is meant to be. Furthermore, the Redmi K20 Pro features 6GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage.If the Redmi K20 Pro piques your interest, it is available at a massive 23 percent discount, which brings the price down to just $398.99. Simply head over to this link to get it.Huawei Nova 4The Huawei Nova 4 was one of the first smartphones to bring the hole-punch display. The all-screen design boasts an immersive viewing experience which you cannot find on any other smartphone at this price point. In addition, if you’re not a fan of the pop-up selfie camera, this is the one you should get. The Huawei Nova 4 features a Kirin 970  processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage, so that’s not something to be concerned about.If you’re excited to get your hands on the Huawei Nova 4, it is available at an insane 32 percent off as part of our budget smartphones on discount. This brings the price down to just $389.99. Head over to this link to get it.This is all for our list of budget smartphones on discount. If you wish to get one for yourself, all options are available at a price drop for a very limited time. Grab your share as soon as you can. Also, do check out our massive discount on high-end smart Android 9 powered TV Box options.This is it, for now, folks. What are your thoughts on our list of budget smartphones on discount? Which one are you willing to get? Let us know in the comments. Share Tweet Submitlast_img read more

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Build intelligent interfaces with CoreML using a CNN Tutorial

first_imgCore ML gives the potential for devices to better serve us rather than us serving them. This adheres to a rule stated by developer Eric Raymond that a computer should never ask the user for any information that it can auto-detect, copy, or deduce. This article is an excerpt taken from Machine Learning with Core ML written by Joshua Newnham. In today’s post, we will implement an application that will attempt to guess what the user is trying to draw and provide pre-drawn drawings that the user can substitute with (image search).  We will be exploring two techniques. The first is using a convolutional neural network (CNN), which we are becoming familiar with, to make the prediction, and then look at how we can apply a context-based similarity sorting strategy to better align the suggestions with what the user is trying to sketch. Reviewing the training data and model We will be using a slightly smaller set, with 205 out of the 250 categories; the exact categories can be found in the CSV file /Chapter7/Training/sketch_classes.csv, along with the Jupyter Notebooks used to prepare the data and train the model. The original sketches are available in SVG and PNG formats. Because we’re using a CNN, rasterized images (PNG) were used but rescaled from 1111 x 1111 to 256 x 256; this is the expected input of our model. The data was then split into a training and a validation set, using 80% (64 samples from each category) for training and 20% (17 samples from each category) for validation. After 68 iterations (epochs), the model was able to achieve an accuracy of approximately 65% on the validation data. Not exceptional, but if we consider the top two or three predictions, then this accuracy increases to nearly 90%. The following diagram shows the plots comparing training and validation accuracy, and loss during training: With our model trained, our next step is to export it using the Core ML Tools made available by Apple (as discussed in previous chapters) and imported into our project. Classifying sketches Here we will walk through importing the Core ML model into our project and hooking it up, including using the model to perform inference on the user’s sketch and also searching and suggesting substitute images for the user to swap their sketch with. Let’s get started with importing the Core ML model into our project. Locate the model in the project repositories folder /CoreMLModels/Chapter7/cnnsketchclassifier.mlmodel; with the model selected, drag it into your Xcode project, leaving the defaults for the Import options. Once imported, select the model to inspect the details, which should look similar to the following screenshot: As with all our models, we verify that the model is included in the target by verifying that the appropriate Target Membership is checked, and then we turn our attention to the inputs and outputs, which should be familiar by now. We can see that our model is expecting a single-channel (grayscale) 256 x 256 image and it returns the dominate class via the classLabel property of the output, along with a dictionary of probabilities of all classes via the classLabelProbs property. With our model now imported, let’s discuss the details of how we will be integrating it into our project. Recall that our SketchView emits the events UIControlEvents.editingDidStart, UIControlEvents.editingChanged, and UIControlEvents.editingDidEnd as the user draws. If you inspect the SketchViewController, you will see that we have already registered to listen for the UIControlEvents.editingDidEnd event, as shown in the following code snippet: override func viewDidLoad() { super.viewDidLoad() … … self.sketchView.addTarget(self, action: #selector(SketchViewController.onSketchViewEditingDidEnd), for: .editingDidEnd) queryFacade.delegate = self } Each time the user ends a stroke, we will start the process of trying to guess what the user is sketching and search for suitable substitutes. This functionality is triggered via the .editingDidEnd action method onSketchViewEditingDidEnd, but will be delegated to the class QueryFacade, which will be responsible for implementing this functionality. This is where we will spend the majority of our time in this section and the next section. It’s also probably worth highlighting the statement queryFacade.delegate = self in the previous code snippet. QueryFacade will be performing most of its work off the main thread and will notify this delegate of the status and results once finished, which we will get to in a short while. Let’s start by implementing the functionality of the onSketchViewEditingDidEnd method, before turning our attention to the QueryFacade class. Within the SketchViewController class, navigate to the onSketchViewEditingDidEnd method and append the following code: guard self.sketchView.currentSketch != nil, let sketch = self.sketchView.currentSketch as? StrokeSketch else{ return} queryFacade.asyncQuery(sketch: sketch) Here, we are getting the current sketch, and returning it if no sketch is available or if it’s not a StrokeSketch; we hand it over to our queryFacade (an instance of the QueryFacade class). Let’s now turn our attention to the QueryFacade class; select the QueryFacade. swift file from the left-hand panel within Xcode to bring it up in the editor area. A lot of plumbing has already been implemented to allow us to focus our attention on the core functionality of predicting, searching, and sorting. Let’s quickly discuss some of the details, starting with the properties: let context = CIContext()let queryQueue = DispatchQueue(label: “query_queue”)var targetSize = CGSize(width: 256, height: 256)weak var delegate : QueryDelegate?var currentSketch : Sketch?{ didSet{ self.newQueryWaiting = true self.queryCanceled = false }} fileprivate var queryCanceled : Bool = false fileprivate var newQueryWaiting : Bool = false fileprivate var processingQuery : Bool = false var isProcessingQuery : Bool{ get{ return self.processingQuery } } var isInterrupted : Bool{ get{ return self.queryCanceled || self.newQueryWaiting } } QueryFacade is only concerned with the most current sketch. Therefore, each time a new sketch is assigned using the currentSketch property, queryCanceled is set to true. During each task (such as performing prediction, search, and downloading), we check the isInterrupted property, and if true, we will exit early and proceed to process the latest sketch. When you pass the sketch to the asyncQuery method, the sketch is assigned to the currentSketch property and then proceeds to call queryCurrentSketch to do the bulk of the work, unless there is one currently being processed: func asyncQuery(sketch:Sketch){ self.currentSketch = sketch if !self.processingQuery{ self.queryCurrentSketch() } } fileprivate func processNextQuery(){ self.queryCanceled = false if self.newQueryWaiting && !self.processingQuery{ self.queryCurrentSketch() } } fileprivate func queryCurrentSketch(){ guard let sketch = self.currentSketch else{ self.processingQuery = false self.newQueryWaiting = false return } self.processingQuery = true self.newQueryWaiting = false queryQueue.async { DispatchQueue.main.async{ self.processingQuery = false self.delegate?.onQueryCompleted( status:self.isInterrupted ? -1 : -1, result:nil) self.processNextQuery() } } } Let’s work bottom-up by implementing all the supporting methods before we tie everything together within the queryCurrentSketch method. Let’s start by declaring an instance of our model; add the following variable within the QueryFacade class near the top: let sketchClassifier = cnnsketchclassifier() Now, with our model instantiated and ready, we will navigate to the classifySketch method of the QueryFacade class; it is here that we will make use of our imported model to perform inference, but let’s first review what already exists: func classifySketch(sketch:Sketch) -> [(key:String,value:Double)]?{ if let img = sketch.exportSketch(size: nil)? .resize(size: self.targetSize).rescalePixels(){ return self.classifySketch(image: img) } return nil}func classifySketch(image:CIImage) -> [(key:String,value:Double)]?{ return nil} Here, we see that the classifySketch is overloaded, with one method accepting a Sketch and the other a CIImage. The former, when called, will obtain the rasterize version of the sketch using the exportSketch method. If successful, it will resize the rasterized image using the targetSize property. Then, it will rescale the pixels before passing the prepared CIImage along to the alternative classifySketch method. Pixel values are in the range of 0-255 (per channel; in this case, it’s just a single channel). Typically, you try to avoid having large numbers in your network. The reason is that they make it more difficult for your model to learn (converge)—somewhat analogous to trying to drive a car whose steering wheel can only be turned hard left or hard right. These extremes would cause a lot of over-steering and make navigating anywhere extremely difficult. The second classifySketch method will be responsible for performing the actual inference. Add the following code within the classifySketch(image:CIImage) method: if let pixelBuffer = image.toPixelBuffer(context: self.context, gray: true){ let prediction = try? self.sketchClassifier.prediction(image: pixelBuffer) if let classPredictions = prediction?.classLabelProbs{ let sortedClassPredictions = classPredictions.sorted(by: { (kvp1, kvp2) -> Bool in kvp1.value > kvp2.value }) return sortedClassPredictions } } return nil Here, we use the images, toPixelBuffer method, an extension we added to the CIImage class, to obtain a grayscale CVPixelBuffer representation of itself. Now, with reference to its buffer, we pass it onto the prediction method of our model instance, sketchClassifier, to obtain the probabilities for each label. We finally sort these probabilities from the most likely to the least likely before returning the sorted results to the caller. Now, with some inkling as to what the user is trying to sketch, we will proceed to search and download the ones we are most confident about. The task of searching and downloading will be the responsibility of the downloadImages method within the QueryFacade class. This method will make use of an existing BingService that exposes methods for searching and downloading images. Let’s hook this up now; jump into the downloadImages method and append the following highlighted code to its body: func downloadImages(searchTerms:[String], searchTermsCount:Int=4, searchResultsCount:Int=2) -> [CIImage]?{ var bingResults = [BingServiceResult]() for i in 0.. let results = BingService.sharedInstance.syncSearch( searchTerm: searchTerms[i], count:searchResultsCount) for bingResult in results{ bingResults.append(bingResult) } if self.isInterrupted{ return nil } }} The downloadImages method takes the arguments searchTerms, searchTermsCount, and searchResultsCount. The searchTerms is a sorted list of labels returned by our classifySketch method, from which the searchTermsCount determines how many of these search terms we use (defaulting to 4). Finally, searchResultsCount limits the results returned for each search term. The preceding code performs a sequential search using the search terms passed into the method. And as mentioned previously, here we are using Microsoft’s Bing Image Search API, which requires registration, something we will return to shortly. After each search, we check the property isInterrupted to see whether we need to exit early; otherwise, we continue on to the next search. The result returned by the search includes a URL referencing an image; we will use this next to download the image with each of the results, before returning an array of CIImage to the caller. Let’s add this now. Append the following code to the downloadImages method: var images = [CIImage]() for bingResult in bingResults{ if let image = BingService.sharedInstance.syncDownloadImage( bingResult: bingResult){ images.append(image) } if self.isInterrupted{ return nil } } return images As before, the process is synchronous and after each download, we check the isInterrupted property to see if we need to exit early, otherwise returning the list of downloaded images to the caller. So far, we have implemented the functionality to support prediction, searching, and downloading; our next task is to hook all of this up. Head back to the queryCurrentSketch method and add the following code within the queryQueue.async block. Ensure that you replace the DispatchQueue.main.async block: queryQueue.async { guard let predictions = self.classifySketch( sketch: sketch) else{ DispatchQueue.main.async{ self.processingQuery = false self.delegate?.onQueryCompleted( status:-1, result:nil) self.processNextQuery() } return } let searchTerms = predictions.map({ (key, value) -> String in return key }) guard let images = self.downloadImages( searchTerms: searchTerms, searchTermsCount: 4) else{ DispatchQueue.main.async{ self.processingQuery = false self.delegate?.onQueryCompleted( status:-1, result:nil) self.processNextQuery() } return } guard let sortedImage = self.sortByVisualSimilarity( images: images, sketch: sketch) else{ DispatchQueue.main.async{ self.processingQuery = false self.delegate?.onQueryCompleted( status:-1, result:nil) self.processNextQuery() } return } DispatchQueue.main.async{ self.processingQuery = false self.delegate?.onQueryCompleted( status:self.isInterrupted ? -1 : 1, result:QueryResult( predictions: predictions, images: sortedImage)) self.processNextQuery() } } It’s a large block of code but nothing complicated; let’s quickly walk our way through it. We start by calling the classifySketch method we just implemented. As you may recall, this method returns a sorted list of label and probability peers unless interrupted, in which case nil will be returned. We should handle this by notifying the delegate before exiting the method early (a check we apply to all of our tasks). Once we’ve obtained the list of sorted labels, we pass them to the downloadImages method to receive the associated images, which we then pass to the sortByVisualSimilarity method. This method currently returns just the list of images, but it’s something we will get back to in the next section. Finally, the method passes the status and sorted images wrapped in a QueryResult instance to the delegate via the main thread, before checking whether it needs to process a new sketch (by calling the processNextQuery method). At this stage, we have implemented all the functionality required to download our substitute images based on our guess as to what the user is currently sketching. Now, we just need to jump into the SketchViewController class to hook this up, but before doing so, we need to obtain a subscription key to use Bing’s Image Search. Within your browser, head to https://azure.microsoft.com/en-gb/services/cognitive-services/bing-image-search-api/ and click on the Try Bing Image Search API, as shown in the following screenshot: After clicking on Try Bing Image Search API, you will be presented with a series of dialogs; read, and once (if) agreed, sign in or register. Continue following the screens until you reach a page informing you that the Bing Search API has been successfully added to your subscription, as shown in the following screenshot: On this page, scroll down until you come across the entry Bing Search APIs v7. If you inspect this block, you should see a list of Endpoints and Keys. Copy and paste one of these keys within the BingService. swift file, replacing the value of the constant subscriptionKey; the following screenshot shows the web page containing the service key: Return to the SketchViewController by selecting the SketchViewController.swift file from the left-hand panel, and locate the method onQueryCompleted: func onQueryCompleted(status: Int, result:QueryResult?){} Recall that this is a method signature defined in the QueryDelegate protocol, which the QueryFacade uses to notify the delegate if the query fails or completes. It is here that we will present the matching images we have found through the process we just implemented. We do this by first checking the status. If deemed successful (greater than zero), we remove every item that is referenced in the queryImages array, which is the data source for our UICollectionView used to present the suggested images to the user. Once emptied, we iterate through all the images referenced within the QueryResult instance, adding them to the queryImages array before requesting the UICollectionView to reload the data. Add the following code to the body of the onQueryCompleted method: guard status > 0 else{ return} queryImages.removeAll() if let result = result{ for cimage in result.images{ if let cgImage = self.ciContext.createCGImage(cimage, from:cimage.extent){ queryImages.append(UIImage(cgImage:cgImage)) } } } toolBarLabel.isHidden = queryImages.count == 0 collectionView.reloadData() There we have it; everything is in place to handle guessing of what the user draws and present possible suggestions. Now is a good time to build and run the application on either the simulator or the device to check whether everything is working correctly. If so, then you should see something similar to the following: There is one more thing left to do before finishing off this section. Remembering that our goal is to assist the user to quickly sketch out a scene or something similar, our hypothesis is that guessing what the user is drawing and suggesting ready-drawn images will help them achieve their task. So far, we have performed prediction and provided suggestions to the user, but currently the user is unable to replace their sketch with any of the presented suggestions. Let’s address this now. Our SketchView currently only renders StrokeSketch (which encapsulates the metadata of the user’s drawing). Because our suggestions are rasterized images, our choice is to either extend this class (to render strokes and rasterized images) or create a new concrete implementation of the Sketch protocol. In this example, we will opt for the latter and implement a new type of Sketch capable of rendering a rasterized image. Select the Sketch.swift file to bring it to focus in the editor area of Xcode, scroll to the bottom, and add the following code: class ImageSketch : Sketch{ var image : UIImage! var size : CGSize! var origin : CGPoint! var label : String! init(image:UIImage, origin:CGPoint, size:CGSize, label: String) { self.image = image self.size = size self.label = label self.origin = origin } } We have defined a simple class that is referencing an image, origin, size, and label. The origin determines the top-left position where the image should be rendered, while the size determines its, well, size! To satisfy the Sketch protocol, we must implement the properties center and boundingBox along with the methods draw and exportSketch. Let’s implement each of these in turn, starting with boundingBox. The boundingBox property is a computed property derived from the properties origin and size. Add the following code to your ImageSketch class: var boundingBox : CGRect{ get{ return CGRect(origin: self.origin, size: self.size) }} Similarly, center will be another computed property derived from the origin and size properties, simply translating the origin with respect to the size. Add the following code to your ImageSketch class: var center : CGPoint{ get{ let bbox = self.boundingBox return CGPoint(x:bbox.origin.x + bbox.size.width/2, y:bbox.origin.y + bbox.size.height/2) } set{ self.origin = CGPoint(x:newValue.x – self.size.width/2, y:newValue.y – self.size.height/2) }} The draw method will simply use the passed-in context to render the assigned image within the boundingBox; append the following code to your ImageSketch class: func draw(context:CGContext){ self.image.draw(in: self.boundingBox)} Our last method, exportSketch, is also fairly straightforward. Here, we create an instance of CIImage, passing in the image (of type UIImage). Then, we resize it using the extension method we implemented back in Chapter 3, Recognizing Objects in the World. Add the following code to finish off the ImageSketch class: func exportSketch(size:CGSize?) -> CIImage?{ guard let ciImage = CIImage(image: self.image) else{ return nil } if self.image.size.width == self.size.width && self.image.size.height == self.size.height{ return ciImage } else{ return ciImage.resize(size: self.size) } } We now have an implementation of Sketch that can handle rendering of rasterized images (like those returned from our search). Our final task is to swap the user’s sketch with an item the user selects from the UICollectionView. Return to SketchViewController class by selecting the SketchViewController.swift from the left-hand-side panel in Xcode to bring it up in the editor area. Once loaded, navigate to the method collectionView(_ collectionView:, didSelectItemAt:); this should look familiar to most of you. It is the delegate method for handling cells selected from a UICollectionView and it’s where we will handle swapping of the user’s current sketch with the selected item. Let’s start by obtaining the current sketch and associated image that was selected. Add the following code to the body of the collectionView(_collectionView:,didSelectItemAt:) method: guard let sketch = self.sketchView.currentSketch else{ return}self.queryFacade.cancel()let image = self.queryImages[indexPath.row] Now, with reference to the current sketch and image, we want to try and keep the size relatively the same as the user’s sketch. We will do this by simply obtaining the sketch’s bounding box and scaling the dimensions to respect the aspect ratio of the selected image. Add the following code, which handles this: var origin = CGPoint(x:0, y:0) var size = CGSize(width:0, height:0) if bbox.size.width > bbox.size.height{ let ratio = image.size.height / image.size.width size.width = bbox.size.width size.height = bbox.size.width * ratio } else{ let ratio = image.size.width / image.size.height size.width = bbox.size.height * ratio size.height = bbox.size.height } Next, we obtain the origin (top left of the image) by obtaining the center of the sketch and offsetting it relative to its width and height. Do this by appending the following code: origin.x = sketch.center.x – size.width / 2origin.y = sketch.center.y – size.height / 2 We can now use the image, size, and origin to create an ImageSketch, and replace it with the current sketch simply by assigning it to the currentSketch property of the SketchView instance. Add the following code to do just that: self.sketchView.currentSketch = ImageSketch(image:image, origin:origin, size:size, label:””) Finally, some housekeeping; we’ll clear the UICollectionView by removing all images from the queryImages array (its data source) and request it to reload itself. Add the following block to complete the collectionView(_ collectionView:,didSelectItemAt:) method: self.queryImages.removeAll()self.toolBarLabel.isHidden = queryImages.count == 0self.collectionView.reloadData() Now is a good time to build and run to ensure that everything is working as planned. If so then, you should be able to swap out your sketch with one of the suggestions presented at the top, as shown in the following screenshot: We learned how to build Intelligent interfaces using Core ML. If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, do check out Machine Learning with Core ML to further implement Core ML for visual-based applications using the principles of transfer learning and neural networks. Read Next Introducing Intelligent Apps 5 examples of Artificial Intelligence in Web apps Voice, natural language, and conversations: Are they the next web UI?last_img read more

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Microsoft reveals Russian hackers Fancy Bear are the culprit for IoT network

first_imgTwo days ago, Microsoft revealed that Russian hackers are attempting to compromise IoT devices including a VOIP, a printer, and a video decoder across multiple locations. These attacks were discovered in April, by security researchers in the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center. According to the Microsoft report, “These devices became points of ingress from which the actor established a presence on the network and continued looking for further access,” “Once the actor had successfully established access to the network, a simple network scan to look for other insecure devices allowed them to discover and move across the network in search of higher-privileged accounts that would grant access to higher-value data.” Microsoft officials said, “We attribute the attacks on these customers using three popular IoT devices to an activity group that Microsoft refers to as STRONTIUM,” which is a Russian-based hacking group also known as Fancy Bear or ATP28. “In two of the cases, the passwords for the devices were deployed without changing the default manufacturer’s passwords and in the third instance the latest security update had not been applied to the device,” the officials further added. “After gaining access to each of the IoT devices, the actor ran tcpdump to sniff network traffic on local subnets. They were also seen enumerating administrative groups to attempt further exploitation,” the officials added. “As the actor moved from one device to another, they would drop a simple shell script to establish persistence on the network which allowed extended access to continue hunting. Analysis of network traffic showed the devices were also communicating with an external command and control (C2) server.” “Microsoft said it identified and blocked these attacks in their early stages, so its investigators weren’t able to determine what Strontium was trying to steal from the compromised networks,” ZDNet reports. Microsoft has notified the makers of the targeted devices so that they can explore the possibility of adding new protections. Microsoft’s report also provided IP addresses and scripts that organizations can use to detect if they have also been targeted or infected. Microsoft plans to reveal more information about the Strontium April 2019 attacks later this week at the Black Hat USA 2019 security conference. To know more about this news in detail, read Microsoft’s complete report. Read Next Winnti Malware: Chinese hacker group attacks major German corporations for years, German public media investigation reveals An IoT worm Silex, developed by a 14 year old resulted in malware attack and taking down 2000 devices A cybersecurity primer for mid sized businesseslast_img read more

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Milkwood Road taken over by illegal dumping

first_imgCllr Warasally makes an appeal to the community of Smartiesville to contact Public Safety on 036-631-1777 if they see anyone dumping illegally.Cllr Warasally says he is very disappointed that people have so little care for the area in which they live that they don’t mind seeing it turning into a rubbish dump.For the latest news, visit our webpage or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. WebsiteWebsiteWebsite Milkwood Road in Smartiesville has been taken over by illegal dumping due to people simply discarding their rubbish on the pavement.Milkwood Road resident Anil Badri is tired of the area looking like a dump-site. He brought the problem to the attention of IFP National Council member Cllr Abbas Warasally.The area is being plagued with people dumping asbestos (which is harmful to humans), dog faeces, rubble, grass cuttings and broken glass bottles. The dumping takes place on the sidewalk right outside homes in Milkwood Road, making the area an eyesore for residents.center_img WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite last_img read more

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CLIA Launches New Membership Category

first_imgCruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is accepting applications for a new Executive Partner membership community for the hotel operations and food and beverage categories which allow these key aspects of the cruise holiday experience unprecedented access to decision-makers from more than 50 global cruise lines.Julia Brown, Chief Procurement Officer, Carnival Corporation and Chair of the new CLIA HFB working group, said: “CLIA is predicting that more than 30 million people will take a cruise in 2019, and there will be more than 110 new ocean-going vessels deployed over the next eight years.  This new community for hotel operations, food & beverage professionals will greatly enhance our ability to drive efficiencies and meet the growing demands of provisioning our worldwide fleets.”CLIA hosted an inaugural event for this new community in Miami in November last year, and thanks to overwhelming positive feedback, applications are now being received from the wider hotel, food and beverage sectors.The gathering last year saw 80 procurement professionals from hotel and culinary operations at the world’s largest cruise brands, and 200 suppliers, meet for a day of business sessions and more than 700 one-on-one meetings.The new HFB community joins a well-established Executive Partner Program which has nearly 400 global partners who engage in four different communities. This fifth HFB community will provide a number of partner benefits throughout the year which include several live engagement networking opportunities.The CLIA HFB working group consists of procurement leadership from the world’s largest and most significant cruise brands who have pledged their full support and resources to all HFB events.  The 2019 HFB calendar starts with a forum and reception at Seatrade Cruise Global in April, followed by similar engagements at The National Restaurant Association’s 100th anniversary trade show in May, ANUGA Germany in October and the CLIA annual HFB Business Conference in November.  Beyond the planned live engagements, there are numerous other promotional benefits afforded to HFB members.“As a Diamond partner of CLIA’s HFB community, we welcome this new opportunity to join collectively with other CLIA HFB peers, to solve industry wide challenges and optimize the supply chain management for all of CLIA’s cruise line members.” says Kasper Sommer, Global Head of Cruise & Marine Logistics, Blue Water Shipping.Sommer continues; “Blue Water Shipping is heavily invested in the Cruise sector.  Our decision to join at the Diamond Partner level was driven by our desire to bring our vast experience to the table, meet existing and potential new customers and support the cruise lines and their global association”.CLIA Senior Vice President, Strategic Partnerships Bo Larsen, commented: “We are very excited to launch this new community, so far the response from suppliers has been incredible. We look forward to our next engagement during Seatrade Cruise Global, April 10that the Miami Beach Convention Center where we will host a number of Business Sessions targeting the hotel operations, food & beverage segment, followed by a networking reception.”The post CLIA Launches New Membership Category appeared first on Discover the South Pacific.Source: Bloglast_img read more

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