HDR movies arrive on iPad Pro, and they look great

When Apple announced the new 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro back in June, the company touted their HDR video-compatible displays without really going into detail on what that meant. Now, 4K and HDR content is rolling out across the iTunes Store in time for the arrival of the new Apple TV 4K that was unveiled on Tuesday.

Apple didn’t make any mention at this week’s event of whether these 4K HDR movies would see any benefit on the iPad Pro, however. The short answer is yes, HDR works. But there are a few caveats.

First of all, you have to be using the latest version of iOS 11 on the public beta track — if you haven’t been using the beta, you’ll have to wait until the final release on September 19th. Once you’ve updated your OS, a new option appears in the Video section of Settings letting you download the HDR version of movies.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to download the movies in 4K resolution — you just get 1080p files with HDR color and contrast. The iPad Pro doesn’t have a 4K screen, no, but the panels in both models have resolutions greater than 1080p to the point where you’d notice a significant difference in quality from a 4K file.

There’s also seemingly no way to download these 4K files on a Mac running the latest version of iTunes, even one connected to the Apple-approved LG UltraFine 4K monitor. It's not clear whether the 4K or 5K iMacs will be able to play 4K movies from iTunes, either.

But with all that out of the way, how do HDR movies look on a new iPad Pro? Pretty great, actually. Mobile HDR solutions aren’t going to match what you’ll get from a 70-inch 4K OLED TV, of course, but the iTunes movies deliver on the promise of expanded dynamic range that better shows off what the display can do.

I watched scenes from Logan, which supports the HDR10 format, and Kong: Skull Island, which is in Dolby Vision, on a 10.5-inch iPad Pro. Next to a 2015 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which doesn’t support HDR, the difference was often stark. The harsh Mexico sunlight in Logan’s early moments is far brighter in HDR, for example, while dark parts of the frame deliver much greater contrast. Skull Island, meanwhile, is a much more colorful movie in general, and effectively demonstrates the wider gamut of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro’s display. In comparison, the image on the older 12.9-inch iPad Pro appears washed out and flat.

That flat profile does have its advantages, however — dark scenes in HDR can be difficult to see in a brightly lit room, whereas movies encoded in standard dynamic range don’t crush the detail as much. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro’s LCD is best in class, but it can’t compete with OLED when it comes to black levels and contrast.

Still, if nothing else this is likely to be the best way to watch movies on a plane for the foreseeable future. And it raises the question of why the iPad Pro hasn’t seen more — or any — HDR content until now. Netflix and YouTube haven’t updated their apps as they did for certain HDR-compatible Android phones, though the former service does say it’ll support the iPhone X as well as the LCD iPhone 8, which hasn’t even been advertised as offering HDR.

Apple’s implementation of 4K HDR movies isn’t perfect — the lack of flexibility in what file you end up downloading is disappointing (if unsurprising). But HDR is a legitimate improvement on the new iPad Pro, and perhaps the most immediately impressive way to make use of its advanced display technology.

source : TheVerge

Android TV: New Apple TV Arrives With 4K & Not Much Else

So Apple announced a new version of its Apple TV this week. Apple TV 4K. If the name does not give it away, then to sum up this new box – it is the same Apple TV as before but now with 4K (and HDR) support. Which is fairly revealing in itself. As there are already Android TV devices like the NVIDIA SHIELD 2017 and the Xiaomi Mi Box that support 4K. Although, they do not attach the 4K label to their name. As it is something you get bundled with the device for free – it is not the purpose of the device as it seems to be with the Apple TV 4K.

Besides the 4K support, it doesn’t really seem like there is much else to discuss with this new TV box. The big selling point which everyone seems to be focusing on is that Apple will kindly not charge you more for the luxury of watching in 4K. So if you were to rent (or buy) a movie or TV show through Apple TV 4K, then you will pay the same price for the 4K version as you would for the HD version. Which presumably means that Apple does not intend to sell HD anymore as why would anyone opt to pay the same for a lesser quality – and therein is the catch.

While the whole purpose of this box is the consumption of 4K content, the rest of the world has yet to really catch on with 4K to the same degree. So as well as having the actual 4K box, and have rented/purchased 4K content, you will still need a 4K TV. While these are coming down in price, it stands to reason that most consumers who are using a TV that is of a certain age, or costs a certain amount, will not be able to watch in 4K – even if they have an Apple TV 4K box and have paid for 4K content. For those who do have all of those bases covered, there is still the issue of your internet. Providing you have a stable enough internet connection, some will certainly have a data cap concern to deal with. Take AT&T for instance. If you get your home internet from AT&T, are lucky enough to live in one of their better covered areas, and are willing to pay more, then you probably have a data cap of approximately 1024GB (1TB) per month in place. If that is the case, then plug in your new Apple TV 4K box and start watching some of the 4K content that Apple is kindly making more accessible.

For example, Consumer Reports fairly recently (Oct. 2016) put together a report on this very topic. Using data provided by research firm Frost & Sullivan, the report details how 4K content can consume anywhere between 7 and 10GB per hour. So one 90 minute movie will consume between 10.5GB and 15GB, a two-hour movie, 14GB to 20GB. The report goes on to suggest that this equates to 100 hours of 4K content per month, or 3.33 hours per day – based on the higher GB figures. While that might sound like a lot, if you then thrown two Apple TV 4Ks in one home into the equation, suddenly those figures decrease by half. With each box able to consume less than two-hours of 4K content per day – one movie per day. While that still might sound OK to some, for every day you go above those limits (those weekend binges), you have to deduct a relative number of days to come back within your monthly allowance. Still sounds doable right? But here is the other kicker. Apple also kindly announced that they will automatically upgrade any HD purchases you own to 4K, when a 4K version becomes available. So not only is Apple removing any incentive for you to use less data when buying or renting in the future (HD cost vs UHD cost), but it is also encouraging you to eat through any data cap you might have with titles you already own. Which can become costly. Below shows the current AT&T home internet prices with the added notation that for every 50GB above that 1TB cap you eat through, you will pay a further $10.

Keeping in mind that the figures listed in the last paragraph are solely relevant to the 4K video content you consume through one (or two 4K TV boxes). If you happen to own a PS4, or any other data-demanding devices (chances are you do if you happen to be considering a 4K TV box and own a 4K TV), then all of those devices will be eating through that data cap at the same time. So while the headline announcement on Apple TV 4K caught the attention of most, for a significant number of people, this is unlikely to be something that is – as of right now – an actual selling point. Unless you happen to be one of the very few that tick all the right boxes (own a 4K TV, have a reliable enough connection to stream 4K, have unlimited data to account for 4K usage, and of course have an absolute need for 4K content to begin with), then you might actually be better off with the now-cheaper (older) Apple TV device.

To not come across as too Android-biased in this respect, this is not to say that what Apple announced in regards to 4K is a bad thing. Far from it. The announcement itself is good and actually quite forward-thinking. But that is the issue with it, as it is forward-thinking for a box they are selling today. One that costs more than the original, and one that will soon enough be replaced by a newer box. So while it is good that Apple announced what it did, to do so as the sole purpose of the product is a bit much. What would have been better would be Apple announcing other feature and spec upgrades with this as a side feature – which is arguably what Android TV has and is in the process of doing. 4K support is something that is probably now considered to be a standard feature for Android TV boxes – and yet if you ask Android TV users, they will probably tell you Google is barely supporting the platform. In contrast, Apple announces one box with 4K support, and the market loses its mind.

NASA's Cassini Death Dives into Saturn, Ending Mission

With this view, Cassini captured one of its last looks at Saturn and its main rings from a distance. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

The spacecraft Cassini ended its 20-year mission on Friday with a final death dive into the planet Saturn.
NASA scientists and officials gathered at California’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for Cassini’s last moments.
“Project manager, flight director. Go ahead. Ok, we call loss of signal at one-one, five-five, four-six.”
Cassini had actually burned up like a meteor 83 minutes earlier, as it dove through Saturn’s atmosphere. But it took that many minutes for the news to reach Earth more than one-and-a-half billion kilometers away.
Artist's drawing of Cassini spacecraft ready for its final dive into Saturn (Credit: NASA/JPL)
Artist's drawing of Cassini spacecraft ready for its final dive into Saturn (Credit: NASA/JPL)
Program manager Earl Maize marked the end of the spacecraft and praised the work of the NASA team.
“I hope you’re all as deeply proud of this amazing accomplishment, congratulations to you all. This has been an incredible mission, an incredible spacecraft and you’re all an incredible team. I’m going to call this end of mission.”
The crash was planned by scientists and engineers at NASA’s JPL. NASA is the United States space agency. They decided to end the mission this way because of an important find during the mission -- the possibility of life on one of Saturn’s moons.
Saturn is the sixth planet in our solar system. It is known for its famous rings and many moons. Cassini’s study of the system of Saturn’s rings and moons brought many surprises. The researchers discovered ocean worlds that may contain the elements for life on some of Saturn's moons.
Morgan Cable is an assistant project science systems engineer.
"At the time of its design, we had no idea that ocean worlds existed in the outer solar system."
Numerous plumes are seen rising from long tiger-stripe canyons across Enceladus' craggy surface. Continued study of the ice plumes may yield further clues as to whether underground oceans, candidates for containing life, exist on this distant ice world.
Numerous plumes are seen rising from long tiger-stripe canyons across Enceladus' craggy surface. Continued study of the ice plumes may yield further clues as to whether underground oceans, candidates for containing life, exist on this distant ice world.
Another unexpected discovery came from the south pole of Enceladus, a moon that sits in one of Saturn's rings. Molly Bittner is a spacecraft operations systems engineer. She explains what they found out about Enceladus.
"It has a liquid water ocean underneath and it shoots geysers. So these cracks open up and geysers shoot out."
Instruments on Cassini have examined the grains and gas coming from that geyser plume. Engineer Morgan Cable explains that instruments on board Cassini helped researchers learn what was in that geyser plume.
"We know that there are salts. Now this is important for life because life needs certain minerals and salts to exist. We have very strong evidence that there are hydro-thermal vents down at that base of that ocean, at the ocean flood. Now any time you find hydro-thermal vents here on Earth, you find rich communities of organisms."
Cassini was also able to gather data from Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. It has lakes and seas of liquid methane and ethane, instead of water. There is also evidence of a liquid ocean beneath the surface that probably contains ammonia and water. Scientists and engineers say the environment could hold life. Morgan Cable says life may look different than on our planet.
This 2007 image made available by NASA shows a hydrocarbon sea named Ligeia Mare on Saturn's moon Titan, as seen by the Cassini spacecraft.
This 2007 image made available by NASA shows a hydrocarbon sea named Ligeia Mare on Saturn's moon Titan, as seen by the Cassini spacecraft.

"We're still open to trying to look for weird life in places like this and we found a strange place right here in our solar system."
The possibility of life on Saturn’s moons made NASA engineers think about how to best end Cassini’s mission as it ran out of fuel. Cassini carried organisms from Earth. They did not want it to land on a moon like Enceladus because, if it already holds life, Cassini could have contaminated it.
"I want to find life elsewhere in a place like Enceladus but I don't want to realize later on that we put it there."
Scientists and engineers are already looking ahead to future missions back to Saturn and its moons. Cable says they want to look deeper into the possibility of finding life there.
"And I think with today's instrumentation, things that we could put on a spacecraft right now, we could find that life with our instruments of today."
Right up until it crashed into Saturn, Cassini was still sending back important data to Earth. That information will keep researchers busy as they analyze it for years to come.
I’m Anne Ball.
Anne Ball adapted this story for Learning English from several VOA News stories. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
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Harry Dean Stanton, ‘Big Love,’ ‘Twin Peaks’ Star, Dies at 91

Harry Dean Stanton, the actor with a gaunt, bedraggled look who labored in virtual obscurity for decades until a series of roles increased his visibility, including his breakthrough in Wim Wenders’ “Paris, Texas,” died of natural causes Friday in Los Angeles. He was 91.

The actor was also known for his roles in “Twin Peaks,” “Big Love,” “Pretty in Pink,” and “Repo Man.”

He had a high-profile role as manipulative cult leader Roman Grant on HBO polygamy drama “Big Love,” which ran from 2006-11, and recently appeared as Carl Rodd in the “Twin Peaks” revival on Showtime.

His most recent film, “Lucky,” about an atheist who comes to terms with his own mortality, is set to be released by Magnolia on Sept. 29.

In 1984, when he turned 58, he not only starred in the Wenders’ “Paris, Texas” — his first role ever as leading man — but in Alex Cox’s popular cult film “Repo Man.” (That year he also had a small role in John Milius’ “Red Dawn,” shouting “Avenge me! Avenge me!” to his sons, played by Charlie Sheen and Patrick Swayze, after being captured by Soviet troops invading America.)

“Paris, Texas,” penned by Sam Shepard, was the darling of the Cannes Film Festival, capturing not only the Palme d’Or, but other juried awards as well. Stanton played Travis, who reconnects with his brother, played by Dean Stockwell, after being lost for four years. Stanton’s performance in the film was not so much powerful as it was intriguingly, sometimes hauntingly, absent.

Roger Ebert said, “Stanton has long inhabited the darker corners of American noir, with his lean face and hungry eyes, and here he creates a sad poetry.”

In the cheerfully bizarre “Repo Man,” he played the boozy repo-biz veteran who takes young punk Emilio Estevez under his wing but provides at-best nebulous guidance: “The life of a repo man is always intense.”

In 1986, Stanton hit the mainstream when he played Molly Ringwald’s unemployed father in “Pretty in Pink.” Later in the 1980s he played a fiery Paul/Saul in Martin Scorsese’s controversial 1988 effort “The Last Temptation of Christ,” but the actor was among those in the film criticized by many as miscast.

Later film roles included a pair of David Lynch films in the early 1990s, “Wild at Heart” and “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”; Bob Rafelson’s “Man Trouble,” with Jack Nicholson; “The Mighty,” with Gena Rowlands and Sharon Stone; “The Green Mile”; Sean Penn’s “The Pledge”; Nick Cassavetes’ “Alpha Dog”; and Lynch’s “Inland Empire.”

Stanton was close friends with Nicholson — Stanton was best man at Nicholson’s 1962 wedding, and they lived together for more than two years after Nicholson’s divorce — and the character actor’s first step in emerging from obscurity was a part written by Nicholson for him in the 1966 Western “Ride the Whirlwind.” Stanton played the leader of an outlaw gang; Nicholson told him to “let the wardrobe do the acting and just play yourself.” “After Jack said that, my whole approach to acting opened up,” Stanton told Entertainment Weekly.

In the early ’70s Stanton appeared in films including “Kelly’s Heroes” and “Two Lane Blacktop”; he also had a small role in “The Godfather: Part II.”

On the shoot for 1976’s “The Missouri Breaks,” starring Marlon Brando and Nicholson, Stanton made a long-term friend in Brando when he courageously dissuaded the increasingly eccentric actor from making a foolish choice in his performance.

The actor played one of the doomed crewmen in Ridley Scott’s “Alien” and a crooked preacher in John Huston’s “Wise Blood,” and he had a fairly significant role in John Carpenter’s “Escape From New York” as Brain, who keeps the machines running in the high-security prison Manhattan has become.

In 1983, Shepard got to talking with Stanton at a bar in Sante Fe, N.M., and later offered him the lead role in “Paris, Texas.” “I was telling him I was sick of the roles I was playing,” Stanton told the New York Times. “I told him I wanted to play something of some beauty or sensitivity. I had no inkling he was considering me for the lead in his movie.” He also worked with Shepard in the 1985 “Fool for Love.”

In a 2011 review of Paolo Sorrentino’s “This Must Be the Place,” Variety said, “Like all great directors who make a road movie, Sorrentino captures the physical location as well as the inner transformation, and in keeping with the genre, he also knows Harry Dean Stanton has to be included.”

Stanton did voice work for the Johnny Depp animated film “Rango” in 2011. In a 2010 episode of NBC’s “Chuck,” Stanton reprised his “Repo Man” character.

Stanton was born in West Irvine, Ky. After serving in the Navy during WWII, he attended the University of Kentucky, studying journalism and radio, and performing in “Pygmalion.” He then pursued an interest in acting by heading to California to study at the Pasadena Playhouse.

He made his small-screen debut in 1954 in an episode of the NBC show “Inner Sanctum.” In another early TV role, he was directed by Alfred Hitchcock in an episode of “Suspicion” called “Four O’Clock.” (The actor was credited as Dean Stanton in most of his early roles to avoid confusion with the actor Harry Stanton, who died in 1978.)

On the big screen, Stanton’s earliest, mostly uncredited work was in Westerns and war pics, debuting in 1957’s “Tomahawk Trail” and appearing in 1959 Gregory Peck-starrer “Pork Chop Hill.” (He also guested on many TV Westerns, including “The Rifleman,” “Have Gun — Will Travel,” “Bonanza,” and “Gunsmoke”).

Stanton also led his own band, first known as Harry Dean Stanton and the Repo Men and later simply as the Harry Dean Stanton Band, and would play pickup gigs in L.A. area clubs. Bob Dylan, with whom he worked on Sam Peckinpah’s 1973 film “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid,” was a friend. Another friend was Hunter S. Thompson, and Stanton sang at his funeral.

The character actor was the subject of two documentaries: 2011’s “Harry Dean Stanton: Crossing Mulholland” and Sophie Huber’s 2013 “Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction,” which featured interviews with Wenders, Shepard, Kris Kristofferson, and Lynch.

He never married, though he has said he has “one or two children.”

Overwatch Game Director Talks Hero 26

Since its launch in May of 2016, Overwatch‘s roster has been steadily growing, with new heroes added to the lineup every so often to keep things fresh. Considering the game’s persistent popularity, it’s not surprising that Blizzard has been hard at work on the game’s 26th hero, but some fans may be surprised to learn that Hero 26 is already very far in development.
This is according to Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan, who recently discussed the game’s next hero, though didn’t provide many concrete details. “Hero 26 is very playable and very fun internally, and that’s all I’ll say,” Kaplan said. “It’s not coming out as soon as you think, but Hero 26 is already amazing.”
Kaplan’s comments indicate that even though Hero 26 is supposedly “very playable and very fun,” it may be a long while before fans actually get their hands on the new character. However, there have been a slew of significant updates to Overwatch within the past few months, including the addition of new maps, new game modes like Team Deathmatch, and the latest character, Doomfist. Considering this, there should be plenty of content to keep Overwatch fans engaged before Hero 26 makes their debut in the game.
junkertown overwatch map blizzard
In fact, there’s even more content coming to Overwatch in the very near future. On September 19th, Blizzard will be adding the new Junkertown mapto the game, which should help keep things fresh in the map rotations. Speaking of Junkertown, though, it’s possible that the new map may offer clues as to the identity of the mysterious Hero 26.
Some fans that have played the Junkertown map in the PTR have speculated that Hero 26 is the Queen of Junkertown, who can be seen on a poster. While this could very well be the case, Blizzard has not confirmed it, and it’s possible that Hero 26 is a different character entirely, like the cybernetically-enhanced chimpanzee that was rumored a few months back.
Whoever Hero 26 is, Overwatch fans shouldn’t expect to hear too much about the new character any time soon. However, with BlizzCon 2017 taking place on November 3rd and 4th in Anaheim, California, perhaps Hero 26 will still make their debut before the year is out.
Overwatch is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Source: IGN

Researchers find link between North Korean hackers and Wanna Cry

© Getty Images

Researchers have discovered identical code in the Wanna Cry ransomware and a North Korean state hacking group. 

Wanna Cry has infected hundreds of thousands of machines across 150 countries. Victims have ranged from British hospitals to the Russian Ministry of the Interior, to a Spanish Telecom. 

Google security researcher Neel Mehta appears to be the first to have noticed that large swaths of computer code in an early version of Wanna Cry were identical to code used by the Lazarus Group, a team of hackers linked to the government of North Korea

Mehta tweeted midday Monday a roadmap researchers could use to find the overlapping code. 

The overlap has swayed other researchers. Kaspersky Lab noted that the matching code was removed from later versions of the ransomware, which they believe would be unlikely if it had been intended to throw researchers off the scent of the real criminals. The overlap only shows up in a sample from February. 

"We believe a theory a false flag although possible, is improbable," Kaspersky Lab explained in a blog post.

Lazarus Group is best known for hacking Sony Pictures in 2014 to protest the movie "The Interview." But recently it has been linked to a series of digital bank robberies that, in one case, stole $81 million from the central bank of Bangladesh. The robberies would, many suspect, provide a revenue stream while the country faces crippling sanctions. 

Kaspersky Lab describes the overlapping code as a significant piece of evidence but does not believe it solves the case. 

"For now, more research is required into older versions of Wannacry. We believe this might hold the key to solve some of the mysteries around this attack. One thing is for sure — Neel Mehta’s discovery is the most significant clue to date regarding the origins of [Wanna Cry]," the company's post reads.

‘Wanna Cry’ virus infecting computers around the world, Tampa Bay area bracing for impact

TAMPA, Fla. – Monday, companies across the globe woke up to find they were under attack.

A virus known as “Wanna Cry” started infecting computers before the weekend, but many did not find out until they started trying to open files with the start of the work week.

More than 200,000 systems have been infected in over 150 countries around the world.

Systems at British Hospitals, Germany’s national railway, Spain’s biggest phone company and even Fed Ex in the United States have been victimized by the virus that demands corporations and individuals pay a ransom to regain files that have been encrypted by the attacker.

James Ullery at LED Tampa is familiar with the problem.

His company’s computers were infected by a virus in 2016.

An employee discovered the attack when he tried to open critical files on a company computer.

“He said ‘I can’t open up any of the camera files’ and he said ‘they are no longer JPGES,’ he said ‘they have some strange extension on the end of the camera files,'” said Ullery.

A message demanded the company pay $500 to regain access to the files.

“So, in essence, we couldn’t conduct business, because we had no access to any data that was current,” said Ullery.

His system back-up was more than 60-days-old and Ullery said at that point he had little choice, he elected to pay the ransom.

“You should back your data up as frequently as you can,” said Ullery.

At the Florida Center for Cyber Security at the University of South Florida, director Sri Sridharan said paying the ransom doesn’t always work.

“There are people who have paid the ransom, but they still have the ransomware on their screen, that it’s not been cleaned out. In other words, the attackers have not provided the decryption algorithms to release your data back to it’s normalcy,” said Sridharan.

Still, he said for some companies, it’s a calculated risk.

“It all depends on your situation, you’ve got to make a decision. If you are a company, if you are an enterprise and if your electronic records and patient records are locked up, you have to think twice about not paying a ransom,” said Sridharan.

He recommends frequent system back-ups on a remote system.

Sridharan also said companies and individuals should download and install software updates as soon as they are available.

In this case, Sridharan said Microsoft was aware of a potential security problem and sent out a patch to correct the problem long before the latest attack.

Sridharan said systems that did not install the patch were vulnerable to the attack.
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You’ve been hit! What should you do?

Isolate the infected computer immediately.

Disconnect your PC from any networks it’s connected to.

Infected systems should be removed from the network as soon as possible to prevent ransomware from attacking network or share drives.

Power it off.

This may afford more time to clean and recover data, contain damage, and prevent worsening conditions.

What happens next depends if you’re on a home PC or a work PC.

If you’re at home, get in touch with a local IT support company who’ll be able to get your computer back into working order.

If you’re at work, get in touch with your internal IT department, then make sure a notification is sent out telling everyone about the attack.

Contact law enforcement immediately.

It is strongly encouraged that you contact a local field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or U.S. Secret Service immediately upon discovery to report a ransomware event and request assistance.

Should you pay the ransom?


The United States Government does not encourage paying a ransom to criminals.

Ransomware victims may also wish to consider the following factors:

• Paying a ransom does not guarantee an organization will regain access to their data; in fact, some individuals or organizations were never provided with decryption keys after paying a ransom.

• Some victims who paid the demand were targeted again by cyber actors.

• After paying the originally demanded ransom, some victims were asked to pay more to get the promised decryption key.

• Paying could inadvertently encourage this criminal business model

Source: US Department of Justice, US Computer Emergency Readiness Team