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Month: September 2018

Two weeks with a $16,000 Hasselblad kit

For hobbyist photographers like myself, Hasselblad has always been the untouchable luxury brand reserved for high-end professionals. To fill the gap between casual and intended photography, they released the X1D — a compact, mirrorless medium format. Last summer when Stefan Etienne reviewed the newly released camera, I asked to take a picture. After importing the raw file into Lightroom and flipping through a dozen presets, I joked that I would eat Ramen packets for the next year so I could buy this camera. It was that impressive. XCD 3.5/30mm lens Last month Hasselblad sent us the XCD 4/21mm (their latest ultra...

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Blok.Party raises $10M, will adapt Settlers of Catan to its blockchain game console

Blok.Party, the company that built the upcoming PlayTable game console, announced today it raised $10 million in new funding. It’s also unveiling a big content partnership, where Blok.Party will create its own version of the popular board game Settlers of Catan. I first wrote about Blok.Party and PlayTable earlier this year, when co-founder and CEO Jimmy Chen first laid out his vision to use blockchain technology to build a console that can recognize real-world objects (like figurines and cards), creating a hybrid between tabletop and video gaming. The idea may have sounded a little abstract at the time, but it got a lot clearer when Chen dropped by the TechCrunch New York office to play a couple rounds of Catan with me. I’ll admit that I hadn’t played in a while, but it was clear from the start that PlayTable saved us some setup time — instead of putting all the pieces of the physical board together, you play on a digital representation of the board. Most of the pieces are digitized too, and we used and traded our cards using smartphones. But there is a physical “robber” piece, because Chen said this allows the robber’s movement to remain “a very visceral experience … that a digital version can’t ever capture.” It may not be too long before you get to try this out for yourself, at least if...

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California cops bust crime ring that nabbed $1M worth of devices from Apple Stores

Fear not, citizens — the law enforcement apparatus of California has apprehended or is hot on the trail of more than a dozen hardened criminals who boldly stole from the state’s favorite local business: Apple . Their unconscionable larceny amounted to more than a million dollars’ worth of devices stolen from Apple Stores — the equivalent of hundreds of iPhones. The alleged thieves would wear hoodies into Apple stores — already suspicious, I know — and there they would snatch products on display and hide them in the ample pockets of those garments. Truly cunning. These crimes took place in 19 different counties in California, the police forces of which all collaborated to bring the perpetrators to justice, though the San Luis Obispo and Oakland departments led the charge. So far seven of the thieves have been arrested, and nine more have warrants out. In a press release, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra harangued his state regarding the dangers of the criminal element: Organized retail thefts cost California business owners millions and expose them to copycat criminals. Ultimately, consumers pay the cost of this merchandise hijacking. We will continue our work with local law enforcement authorities to extinguish this mob mentality and prosecute these criminals to hold them accountable. You hear that, would-be copycats? You hear that, assembling mob? Xavier’s gonna give it to you… if you don’t fly...

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How aerial lidar illuminated a Mayan megalopolis

Archaeology may not be the most likely place to find the latest in technology — AI and robots are of dubious utility in the painstaking fieldwork involved — but lidar has proven transformative. The latest accomplishment using laser-based imaging maps thousands of square kilometers of an ancient Mayan city once millions strong, but the researchers make it clear that there’s no technological substitute for experience and a good eye. The Pacunam Lidar Initiative began two years ago, bringing together a group of scholars and local authorities to undertake the largest-yet survey of a protected and long-studied region in Guatemala....

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Soviet camera company Zenit is reborn!

If you’re familiar with 20th century Soviet camera clones you’ll probably be familiar with Zenit. Created by Krasnogorsky Zavod, the Nikon/Leica clones were a fan favorite behind the Iron Curtain and, like the Lomo, was a beloved brand that just doesn’t get its due. The firm stopped making cameras in 2005 but in its long history it defined Eastern European photography for decades and introduced the rifle-like Photo Sniper camera looked like something out of James Bond. Now, thanks to a partnership with Leica, Zenit is back and is here to remind you that in Mother Russia, picture takes you. The camera is based on the Leica M Type 240 platform but has been modified to look and act like an old Zenit. It comes with a Zenitar 35 mm f/1.0 lens that is completely Russian-made. You can use it for bokeh and soft-focus effects without digital processing. The Leica M platform offers a 24MP full-frame CMOS sensor, a 3-inch LCD screen, HD video recording, live view focusing, a 0.68x viewfinder, ISO 6400, and 3fps continuous shooting. It will be available this year in the US, Europe, and Russia. How much does the privilege of returning to the past cost? An estimated $5,900-$7,000 if previous incarnations of the Leica M are any indication. I have a few old film Zenits lying around the house, however. I wonder I can...

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