The ESA/Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter’s CaSSIS camera took this bizarre image of Mars’ north pole, which looks like melted white chocolate. (Photo Credit: ESA / Roscosmos / CaSSIS)
The Red Planet’s red hue is nowhere to be found in an image snapped by the ESA/Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Oribiter’s CaSSIS camera, which shows Mars’ north polar region.
The image, which looks like melted white chocolate and was shared on September 16, gives a sneak peek at dunes on the Red Planet’s surface. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), dunes vary in shape on Mars and may provide clues about the prevailing wind direction. By studying dunes over time, researchers can see how dunes evolve on the Martian surface and how sediments move around the planet.
When it’s winter in the Red Planet’s polar regions, a flimsy layer of carbon dioxide ice covers the surface and then sublimates, meaning it turns directly from ice into vapor, when spring hits. This springtime defrosting takes place from the bottom up, trapping gas between the ice and the sand in the dune fields. As the ice experiences cracking, this gas is violently released and carries sand with it, developing the dark patches and streaks that can be seen in the CaSSIS image above.
The CaSSIS camera also spotted “barchan” dunes, the crescent or U-shaped dunes that can be observed in the right side of the image, as they merge into barchanoid ridges. This transition from barchan to barchanoid dunes indicates that secondary winds are also important to Mars’ dune field.
Sony’s latest advanced compact camera is the highly pocketable RX100 VII, the seventh iteration of the RX100. Since its debut, this line of cameras has proven a very popular option among enthusiasts looking for a great travel camera, vloggers, and even pros who want a compact backup option just in case. The RX100 VII should suit all those needs very well, provided you’re okay with coughing up the $1,200 asking price.
Not that $1,200 is too expensive for what you’re getting, since Sony has packed tremendous value in the Mark VII, including an extremely versatile 24-200mm (35mm equivalent) zoom range, 20fps continuous burst mode shooting, a flip-up touch screen, built-in images stabilization and the same powerful autofocus technologies you’ll find on its flagship full-frame interchangeable lens pro cameras.
The Sony RX100 VII satisfies a specific need, but it’s one that a lot of people probably have: Striking a balance between image quality, range and portability. One the convenience end of the spectrum, the ultimate device is probably your smartphone, since you have that with you always. On the IQ and range side, you’re looking at a top-end DSLR with a high-quality, low aperture zoom lens that can weigh more than a large dog. The RX100 VII manages to be so impressive because it can delivery near the portability of a smartphone, with some of the photography chops of a setup that typically requires its own suitcase.
Inside the RX100 VII you’ll find a 1-inch sensor, which is very big relative to smartphone imaging sensors. This is important because it means there’s no contest between which will capture a better image, with lower noise, greater depth-of-field and better color rendering. For all the software magic that companies like Apple and Google can bring to the photography table, nothing yet can totally compensate for simply having a larger sensor.
The RX100 VII’s compactness isn’t just impressive because of the large sensor it packs inside, however; you also get an EVF, an integrated flash, an external microphone jack and an articulating LCD display. To get all of this into a package this small is astounding – the EVF in particular is a great feature for anyone who wants to be a bit more direct and particular with their shot composition, while the flip-up LCD means you can also have a great selfie screen and monitor for use when vlogging.
Last but not least in terms of its portability benefits, you can charge the RX100 VII via USB directly so that you can leave any additional charging hardware at home. The camera has a micro USB port for both data and power, and while it would’ve been nice to see this upgraded to USB-C on this camera to keep up with the latest in terms of computer and smartphone charging, it’s still better than requiring an external charger.
Sony decided on a very long zoom range for the RX100 VII, which sports a 24-200mm (35mm equivalent) f/2.8-4.5 powered retracting zoom lens. That’s the same range and aperture as the RX100 VI, which opts for more range over the brighter 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 lens found on the V and earlier.
While you’ll lose some ability to separate your subject from the background vs. a brighter lens, you get a lot more reach for shooting action or wildlife. The added range definitely makes it a better all-around travel camera, too, and makes it possible to get some shots you otherwise just wouldn’t be able to get at all with a shorter lens.
The long end of the zoom range also offers stunningly sharp images, especially in bright, daylight conditions. In the examples below, you can see some of the 200mm samples shot on the RX100 VII next to the 24mm wide versions of the same scenes to get a sense of just how close you can get with this lens, and the quality of the images possible even at those extreme zoom lengths.
At the wide end, you have plenty of real estate to capture great sweeping architectural or landscape shots, and the sharpness is also fantastic in great light. There’s some distortion, but it’s mostly corrected by Sony’s software on JPG output. That 24mm wide angle is also the right width for arm-length selfies, though you’re probably going to want at least a short selfie stick for vlogging applications to give yourself a little more in the way of framing options.
Leaving aside the fact that this is one of the better sensors available on the market for a camera this size, there’s another very compelling reason to pick up this camera, and one that likely gives it the edge over competitors from other companies. I’m talking about Sony’s autofocus system, and the RX100 VII gets the latest and greatest that Sony has developed, which is found only in much more expensive cameras from the company like the A9 and the new A7R IV.
You get face and eye tracking, for both human and animal subjects, and these are both best-in-class when compared with other camera makers’ systems. The animal one in particular is a Sony speciality, and worked amazingly well on my real dog – and on Sony’s Aibo robot dog, captured at the Sony Ginza experience center in Tokyo.
The face and eye detection settings are available in both still shooting and movies, and you can set eye preference (left or right), too. The newest AF feature, however, is object tracking, which allows you to point your AF point at a specific object and have the camera automatically track that object as you zoom or move, or as the object moves within frame. You can choose from a range of options regarding how large of a focal area to track, and this works in tandem with human face detection so that the camera will automatically focus on the subject’s face when it’s visible, and on them more generally when it’s not, which is amazing for sports or action photography.
In practice, this works extremely well. Sony’s claims about how well this sticks, and how good it is at picking a subject back up after it moves behind an object, for instance, are spot on. This is really the best AF system available on a camera in the pocketable category, at any price point, and it’s truly amazing to experience. In the shots below, you can see how it allowed me to capture a very clear picture of a soaring hawk at the 200mm tele zoom, how it tracked a bike in motion and got a clear image of the rider’s face, and how it froze a motor bike in motion during a burst series (all the shots were in focus, by the way).
Another area where Sony’s RX100 VII and its 1-inch sensor are going to have a leg up on your smartphone is in sub-optimal lighting conditions. Bigger sensors mean bigger pixels and less noise, with better blacks and shadows. Sony is also using a backside illuminated stacked sensor, and there’s built-in optical image stabilization which means you can take sharper photos at lower shutter speeds, letting in more light for clearer images.
In practice, what you get are pretty good low light photos, especially outdoors with ambient light present, or in decently well-lit indoor settings. In poorer lighting conditions or when you’re trying to freeze action in low light, you’re going to get fairly noisy results, especially when compared to an APS-C or full-frame camera. Sony’s tech can do a lot to make the most of less than ideal photographic conditions, but at some point, it runs up against the limits of what’s possible.
Sony also doesn’t get quite as aggressive with computational photographic techniques for digitally compensating for lower available light, as do the Pixel phones and the latest iPhone 11. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though – the images from the RX100 VII present more accurate night and indoor photos, by comparison, and you can still get much better indoor images with the RX100 VII than you can with any smartphone.
As you can see in the gallery above, the camera does extremely well as long as there’s one well-lit subject or element in frame. It’s less effective when the image overall is uniformly dim, but if you’re looking for great photos in those conditions, you should probably consider upgrading to a larger camera with a larger sensor anyways.
The RX100 VII’s greatest strength might just be how good it is at shooting video for a device this size. Video out of the camera with very minimal adjustment from the default shooting settings produces highly usable results, for both home video enthusiasts and for YouTubers or vloggers looking to produce great looking content without lugging an entire film production studio along with them on their travels.
Once again, the versatile zoom range really shines here, and the you can even shoot at the tele end of the zoom handheld and get totally usable footage provided you’re a bit careful about movement, as you can see in the third clip in the sequence below, which was shot at the 200mm range. Low-light footage looks great, as is evident from the second clip in sequence, and at the wide end you can capture sweeping landscape vistas or flip up the screen and turn the camera around for selfie-style video.
The added microphone port makes it an even more powerful filmmaking tool, and if you pick up their optional VCT-SGR1 shooting grip, combined with a small shotgun mic or something like the Rode Wireless Go, you’ve got everything you need to create very compelling travel diaries in an incredibly lightweight package that will be able to produce quality and get zoom and wide shots that are impossible on a smartphone.
The RX100 VII is a delight of a camera and an easy recommendation to make. There’s nothing that compares in this size category in terms of the range of features, autofocus capabilities, video prowess and performance as a general all-rounder. This is the do-everything travel camera that you could really only dream of five years ago, and it’s become more ideal for this use with every generation that Sony introduces.
Whether you’re looking to step up your photographic possibilities from your smartphone, or you want to supplement your professional or advanced enthusiast equipment with a pocket camera that’s available as a b-camera for video or to grab a few choice stills, the RX100 VII is hard to top. It’s only downside is that $1,200 asking price, which is definitely above average for a compact camera – but on a value basis, $1,200 isn’t at all expensive for everything this camera has to offer.
The Android tablet market isn’t exactly a hotbed of excitement and activity, which makes it all the more impressive that Samsung continues to iterate its own tablet lineup in smart, meaningful ways that push the technology forward and deliver a stellar experience. Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab S6 (starting at $649.99) is no exception, and this latest offering expands the definition of what a tablet can be while retaining or refining everything that’s been its predecessors.
Thin, light and luxe design
Samsung has been delivering outstanding body design on its tablet lineup since the introduction of the all metal and glass Tab S4, and the Tab S6 continues this tradition with a full metal back and glass front that’s lighter and thinner than its predecessor. The look and feel is more reminiscent of the Tab S5e, which was released after the S4 earlier this year and which acts as a more economical alternative to Samsung’s flagship lineup. The S6 manages to feel just a touch more premium than the S5e, though both are class-leading in terms of their industrial design.
The brushed finish of the back looks great, and feels nice in the hand, and if you have larger hands you can even one-hand this device when reading for limited periods of time. Samsung has also shrunk the bezels, giving you a more front face-filling screen than on any previous tablet, which does a very good job of putting the gorgeous sAMOLED display in focus. More than ever, this feels like one big sleek, metallic hand-held display – the future, in your hand, reduced to the essentials in an awesome way.
Display and cameras
The display on the Tab S6 isn’t much changed from the one used on the Tab S5e and the Tab S4 – but that’s actually great news, because Samsung has the best tablet display in the business when it comes to watching media. The 10.5-inch 2560 x 1600 pixel Super AMOLED display gives you true blacks that are outstanding, and impossible to replicate on any LED-based display, and Samsung offers a range of color options to choose from, including ‘natural’ settings for photo-accurate editing, and enhanced saturation modes for getting the most out of eye-popping movies and videos.
That display now comes with a neat new trick on the Tab S6: An integrated fingerprint reader. This authentication and unlock method is new for this generation, and replaces iris/face scanning as the only biometric unlock option on the Tab S4. It performs very well in my testing, and has the added cool factor of being just an amazing big of whiz-bang tech magic, especially if this is your first time encountering and in-display fingerprint reader.
The great display makes a fantastic editing surface for photos and videos, and that’s why it’s super interesting that Samsung went out of their way to upgrade the cameras on the Tab S6 – adding dual camera options, in fact. There’s now a super wide angle lens in addition to the standard one, which gives you a lot of creative options when it comes to both still photography and videos.
While the Tab S6 is great for editing, I still wouldn’t lean too heavily on the built-in cameras for actually capturing content. They’re fine cameras, augmented by Samsung’s built-in software, but the super wide has a fair amount of distortion and not the best resolution, and in general I still think you should avoid shooting too much with tablet cameras in general. Still, it’s nice to have the option in case you’re in a pinch.
Your pen pal
I mentioned editing above already, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 has an added advantage over other tablets in this area: The S Pen. Samsung’s stylus is updated in this version, with Bluetooth connectivity that gives it additional super powers like the ability to act as a remote for the camera, presentations and other software.
The S Pen still performs best as an actual stylus, however, and it excels in this capacity. For pressure sensitive applications including sketching and painting, it’s fantastic, but where it really shines in my usage is in editing photos using software like Lightroom from Adobe. Stylus input means you can get super specific and accurate with your edits. This applies to editing video, too, where the stylus works well for making concise trims to video timelines.
You can also easily create handwritten notes with the S Pen, and if you do using Samsung’s built-in Notes application, you get automatic OCR and search indexing. In my testing, I found that this worked really, really well – surprisingly so, considering how bad my handwriting is. For printed characters, the Samsung Notes app had no trouble at all identifying words accurately in my scrawl and retrieving the right results when searching by keyword.
Since this S Pen uses Bluetooth, it now has a built-in rechargeable battery. Like Apple’s Pencil, it charges wirelessly, attaching magnetically to the tablet to power up. Samsung has designed a groove in the back of the tablet to receive the S Pen for charging, and while this isn’t sturdy enough for you to trust it to hold the stylus when you throw them in your bag unprotected, the Tab S6 cover accessory nicely wraps the S Pen with a fold-down flap for easy storage.
A true workhorse
Samsung’s official case options include a back panel protector/detachable keyboard combo that are probably the best accessory of this style available on the market for any tablet. The back cover includes a reusable sticky surface to ensure a solid fit which will be more reliably fixed than a magnetic attachment, and it has a multi-angle kickstand that works wonderfully to support the tablet on any table or even on your lap.
As mentioned, there’s a top flap that provides protection and easy access to the S Pen, which is a very clever way to keep that stored without complicating matters. The cover has a finely textured surface that increases grippiness, and it has proven resilient in terms of not picking up dirt or grime so far.
The keyboard attaches via magnets to one side of the tablet, folding up to protect the display when not in use. It’s slim, but it still had defined keys with actual travel that feel really good to type with, and there’s something you probably weren’t expecting to see on an Android tablet keyboard – a built-in trackpad.
All of this is designed primarily for use with DeX, Samsung’s desktop-like software experience that’s aimed at boosting productivity (though you can use the trackpad in the standard Android interface, too). When it works well, the DeX experience truly makes the Tab S6 feel like a mini desktop, giving you the power to tackle tasks in multiple windows – including in multiple windows for the same apps. It’s great for things like seeing Slack open and working in multiple browser windows, along with your email client, for instance.
That said, there are definite limitations to DeX, including the need to re-open all your windows when switching back from standard Android mode, for instance. Not every app behaves well in this novel mode, either, since third-party ones especially aren’t designed for it, and there are quirks to the windowing (like overflowing and weird-sized windows) that make it occasionally a little strange to work with. Still, all in all it’s great to have the option, and can really increase your ability to do work on the road in the right circumstances.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 is, without a doubt, the best Android tablet available. It combines top notch hardware with Samsung’s evolving DeX approach to mobile productivity, and while DeX isn’t perfect in all settings, it’s at the very least not doing any harm and you’re better off having it available vs. not. Meanwhile, the Tab S6 working in standard Android mode is an excellent, super-fast media consumption and photo editing powerhouse. If you’re in the market for a tablet, the Tab S6 is an easy choice.
‘Riverdale’ is returning to The CW for its fourth season on October 9. (Photo Credit: The CW)
TGIF. While you’re planning for the long weekend ahead, we’ve rounded up the top movie and TV trailers that you may have missed during the week.
A new El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movietrailer revisited Jesse Pinkman’s journey, while Archie, Veronica, Betty, and Jughead are getting ready for their senior year in Riverdale Season 4. From AMC’s The Walking Dead to Magnolia Pictures & Magnet Releasing’s creepy documentary Wrinkles The Clown, here are the top movies and TV shows to keep on your radar.
The Walking Dead
“Now is the end of the world, we will raise all dead.” (All the chills here.) The Walking Dead Season 10, which stars Danai Gurira and Norman Reedus, premieres October 6 on AMC.
Watch Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson drive each other mad in A24’s The Lighthouse, a chilling film about two lighthouse keepers living alone near the sea, which hits theaters on October 18.
AppleTV+ dropped a trailer for See, a fantasy-meets-futuristic series about a pair of twins believed to be the only humans that aren’t blind after a virus kills most of mankind. The show, which stars Jason Momoa as their father, is coming to AppleTV+ on November 1.
Wrinkles The Clown
Explore the day-to-day activities of a real-life Pennywise in the haunting documentary Wrinkles The Clown, which will debut in theaters on October 4. Who’s the man behind the eerie mask? No one knows.
Into the Dark: Uncanny Annie
Game night takes a hellish turn in Into the Dark: Uncanny Annie, the next episode of Hulu’s Into the Dark horror anthology series that will air on the streaming service October 4. When a group of friends unboxes some fun on Halloween night, they realize they’ll have to play along and not break the rules to survive.
Castle Rock, a horror anthology series set in the Stephen King multiverse, is returning to Hulu on October 23. Lizzy Caplan stars as Annie Wilkes, a nurse by day and a serial killer by night, as she finds herself in working in Castle Rock, Maine.
Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead are officially seniors in Riverdale Season 4: The scandals, secrets, and shocking mysteries continue for the group, when the show returns to The CW on October 9.
Cooking may be under sustained attack by a wave of on-demand food delivery startups, with names that can double as gluttonous calls to action (oh hey Just Eat!), but that hasn’t stopped London-based startup ckbk from pushing in the opposite direction — with a digital service that offers on-demand access to high quality recipes licensed from major publishers of best selling cookbooks.
Indeed, the ckbk platform serves up not just individual recipes but entire cookbooks for browsing in app form.
The ckbk platform, which launches out of beta today — after a Kickstarter campaign last year that raised just over $55k — is being touted by its creators as ‘Spotify for recipes’. Think ‘playlists’ of professionally programmed dishes to whip up in the kitchen.
At launch it offers access to a catalog of more than 350 cookbooks (80,000+ recipes) — a culinary library that’s slated to keep growing.
For $8.99/£8.99 per month the premium ckbk user gets to tuck in to unlimited access to this “curated collection of cookbooks” — with content selected using “recommendations from hundreds of chefs and food experts including Nigella Lawson and Yotam Ottolenghi”.
A freemium layer offers access gratis to three recipes per month.
Subscribers are essentially paying for someone else with (most likely) superior knowledge of cooking to sort the wheat from the chaff so you don’t have to do the legwork of figuring out what freebie Internet recipes are worth investing your time (and after it, teeth) in.
Not just any old recipes, editorially curated recipes is the ckbk promise.
Culinary content available via the platform is billed as spanning both contemporary authors like Molly Yeh and David Tanis, to award winning authorities and Michelin starred chefs, while also dipping into old culinary classics, such as On Food & Cooking and the Oxford Companion to Food, and offering works penned by legendary French chef and restauranteur Escoffier.
Publishers participating in ckbk’s platform are being promised a new digital revenue stream (it’s not clear what the revenue share is) — sweetened with data in the form of “new insights into patterns of cookbook recipe usage” they can use to feed into future editorial output. So of course all ckbk users are having their foodie browsing extensively data-mined.
To push its ‘premium recipes’ proposition ckbk is trailing a bunch of forthcoming promotional partnerships with kitchenware brands, food-related ecommerce brands, food events, culinary schools and publishing channels — which it says will be launching in the next few months.
It also says recipes on the platform have been optimized for integration with connected kitchen appliances.
European company BSH (whose appliance brands include Bosch, Gaggenau, NEFF and Siemens) is named as the first strategic partner for ckbk. It will be offering premium membership of the service to UK buyers of its NEFF N90 connected oven.
A subset of ‘smart’ cookbook recipes on ckbk will automatically set the correct time and oven temperature via the N90’s Home Connect system — for anyone who can’t be bothered to twiddle the dials themselves.
ckbk adds that selected recipes will be further “optimized” to make the most of features and cooking modes of the smart oven. A tidbit which might make a seasoned chef raise an eyebrow and question whether that’s heading towards recipes for robots.
The licensing project has certainly been a slow burn. The company behind ckbk, 1000 Cookbooks, has been working on getting the concept to market since 2014, per Crunchbase.
It says it’s currently raising a $2M seed funding round — having previously raised a total of $750,000 in pre-seed funding via investors, the Techstars/BSH Future Home accelerator program, and its Kickstarter campaign.
Apple announced in a press release that iOS 13 will be available on September 19. Even if you don’t plan to buy a new iPhone, you’ll be able to get a bunch of new features.
But that’s not all. iOS 13.1 will be available on September 30. Apple had to remove some features of iOS 13.0 at the last minute as they weren’t stable enough, such as Shortcuts automations and the ability to share your ETA in Apple Maps. That’s why iOS 13.1 will be released shortly after iOS 13.
As always, iOS 13 will be available as a free download. If you have an iPhone 6s or later, an iPhone SE or a 7th-generation iPod touch, your device supports iOS 13.
In addition, watchOS 6 will be released on September 19. Unfortunately, Apple will release iPadOS 13 on September 30. And it looks like tvOS 13 will also be released on September 30, according to a separate press release.
Here’s a quick rundown of what’s new in iOS 13. This year, in addition to dark mode, it feels like every single app has been improved with some quality-of-life updates. The Photos app features a brand new gallery view with autoplaying live photos and videos, smart curation and a more immersive design.
This version has a big emphasis on privacy, as well, thanks to a new signup option called “Sign in with Apple” and a bunch of privacy popups for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi consent. Apple Maps now features an impressive Google Street View-like feature called Look Around. It’s only available in a handful of cities, but I recommend… looking around, as everything is in 3D.
Many apps have been updated, such as Reminders with a brand new version, Messages with the ability to set a profile picture shared with your contacts, Mail with better text formatting options, Health with menstrual cycle tracking, Files with desktop-like features, Safari with a new website settings menu, etc. Read more on iOS 13 in my separate preview.
On the iPad front, for the first time Apple is calling iOS for the iPad under a new name — iPadOS. Multitasking has been improved, the Apple Pencil should feel snappier, Safari is now as powerful as Safari on macOS and more.
When Apple announced AirPower, it was a revelation. They took a problem that we accepted as a given (too many chargers) and came up with one device that charged everything wirelessly. But after years of mounting anticipation, they inexplicably canceled it and left us empty-handed. Fortunately, there are a bunch of similar devices that fill the void like the AirZeus 3-in-1 Fast Wireless Charging Pad.
This wireless charging pad can simultaneously charge your Qi-compatible smartphone, Apple Watch, and AirPods from a single device. It only uses one cable so it’s perfect for reducing clutter. Take that, rat’s nest of cables!
AirZeus supports fast charging, so you can quickly top off your iPhone or Android phone. It also works through cases, so you don’t have to remove anything from your phone.
View inside the eye of Hurricane Dorian captured by Air Force Capt. Garrett Black Monday. (Photo Credit: Garrett Black / Twitter)
As Hurricane Dorian pounded the northwest Bahamas as a Category 5 over the weekend causing devastation across parts of the islands, NOAA and the US Air Force captured footage from inside the eye of the monster storm.
Air Force Capt. Garrett Black, a meteorologist and hurricane hunter, shared imagery and footage captured while flying through Hurricane Dorian Sunday.
In incredible photos and videos, the eye wall of Dorian is visible, with the sun shining brightly through a blue sky.
“The storm itself, once we get into the eye, was incredible. It’s one really that I’ve never seen quite to that extent,” Black told CNN. “We had the giant cumulus towers surrounding us that gave us the same effect it felt like we were sitting in the center of a football stadium. Then we could also see the water at the surface and see how calm it was directly below us but could see off in the distance how large the waves were.”
Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas Sunday night and left catastrophic destruction in its wake, according to government officials.
As the hurricane stalled near Grand Bahama Island from late Sunday into early Tuesday, the storm also inundated large portions of that island with dangerous storm surge, weather.com reported.
VIDEO: “High storm surge with floating vehicles speaks volumes to the conditions on Grand Bahama Island. Hurricane Dorian is stationary and is a strong 140 mph killer storm.” H/t @DavidBegnaudpic.twitter.com/aAAIARCRQK
The satellite comparison below shared by ICEYE on Twitter shows what parts of Grand Bahama Island were underwater Monday. (The yellow lines show the coastline of Grand Bahama Island when the water level is normal, and roads are depicted in white). Darker shaded portions of the island within the yellow borders were still dry land while the turquoise color shows what areas were submerged by ocean water.
#HurricaneDorian has affected Bahamas heavily on Monday, with vast areas hit with #flooding, including the Grand Bahama International Airport, Freeport. ICEYE #SAR satellite image from 11:44AM local time. Please, stay safe! (Y: coastline. W: roads. Source: OpenStreetMap.) pic.twitter.com/ruXau8QhKn
A nature cam at a wildlife sanctuary in Big Sur, California captured the rare sighting of a black bear feeding on a condor carcass. (Photo Credit: Ventana Wildlife Society / Facebook)
Nature cam watchers recently caught a rare sighting of a a black bear feeding at a condor sanctuary in Big Sur, California.
It’s the first black bear documented feeding at the site, according to the Ventana Wildlife Society, which captured the scene in its Condor Cam.
The organization, which works to restore endangered species native to central California, said bears are not common in Big Sur, so the sighting is unusual.
For the past 20 years, the Ventana Wildlife Society has provided stillborn calves to help establish newly released condors, and provide a clean (non-lead) carcass source to help reduce the threat of lead poisoning —the number one condor threat.
Previous studies conducted over the past few decades have highlighted lead-based ammunition as the main source of lead poisoning in condors. Condors that feed on remains from an animal killed by a lead bullet ingest the tiny fragments and become poisoned. Because condors scavenge communally, a single contaminated carcass can poison several condors.
“Since we are not releasing young condors in Big Sur this year (6 to be released in San Simeon later this year), we temporarily stopped putting out calf carcasses to encourage the bear to move on,” the Society said on Facebook. “We loved seeing this bear on Condor Cam but did not want to habituate it to the site.”
Ventana Wildlife Society’s Condor Sanctuary, located two miles east of the Pacific Ocean in Big Sur, California, is surrounded by pristine US Forest Service lands, visible in the background in the Condor Cam (streaming live below).
The live-streaming webcams are used to monitor Endangered California Condors at the sanctuary and, when possible, at active wild nests along the central California coast.
According to the Society, observers of the webcam can see the most condor action from late morning to early afternoon. A variety of other species such as mountain lions, bobcats, black-tailed deer, golden or bald eagles, ravens, or blue birds, also occasionally make an appearance in the webcams.
Juul Labs, the e-cigarette behemoth partially owned by Altria, has today announced a new POS age-verification system that it will require all Juul retailers to comply with by May 2021.
The Retail Access Control Standards program, or RACS for short, raises the standard for age-restricted POS systems, automatically locking the POS each time a Juul product is scanned until a valid, adult ID is scanned. The system also looks for bulk purchases (four four-count packs of Juul Pods is the legal limit for a single transaction) and locks when the fifth Juul Pod pack is scanned, automatically removing the fifth pack from the customer’s cart.
Thus far, more than 50 retail chains, which represents 40,000 outlets, have committed to switching over to RACS, with 7,000 stores in the process of switching now and 15,000 to have implemented the technology by 2019’s end. The deadline for switching over to the RACS system is May 2021, at which point Juul will only sell its products to RACS-compliant retailers.
The company recognizes that overhauling a POS can be costly and difficult, and is offering $100 million+ in incentives to retailers that switch over. For retailers with newer POS systems, the switch might only require a software update, while others may need to update their hardware, as well.
Now, the system isn’t foolproof. After an ID is scanned, all personal information is automatically deleted from the system, which means that bad actors/unauthorized resellers could amass a bulk amount of Juul products by visiting various stores or returning to the same store multiple times.
However, this is likely just the beginning for the RACS program, which for the first time gives Juul much more control around how their products move through the market, ultimately limiting the opportunity for Juul products to end up in the hands of minors.
Alongside the introduction of RACS, Juul is also expanding the Track & Trace program it piloted in April in the Houston area.
Track & Trace allows teachers, parents, law enforcement and otherwise responsible adults to log the serial number of confiscated Juul devices, giving Juul the information it needs to track that device through the supply chain and identify the store where it was sold.
Using Juul’s secret shopper program, the company can then specifically target those stores and shut down the illegal sale of Juul devices to minors.
Today, Track & Trace is expanding nationwide in the U.S.
While these are major steps in combating underage use of Juul products, the company itself admits that it believes youth vaping numbers will continue to rise.
It is our expectation that this year’s survey, unfortunately, will likely show continued growth in youth use of vapor products in the U.S. If this turns out to be the case, it will be due in part to the fact that:
When this year’s NYTS data was collected, T21 laws were being passed in a dozen states but had not been implemented
Little to no category-wide actions have been taken as FDA is finalizing its guidance that, once implemented, should impose additional restrictions on the sale and marketing of certain flavored vapor products — actions that we voluntarily imposed on ourselves last November
In November 2018, Juul announced its Youth Prevention Plan ahead of the FDA’s crackdown on e-cig products. It included the ban of flavored Juul pod sales in convenience stores and other Juul-approved retailers, limiting the sale of non-tobacco and non-menthol flavored pods to its online storefront. Juul says this represented 50% of its revenue at the time. The company also took down its Facebook and Instagram pages, and revamped its Twitter to ditch any promotional or marketing content from the platform.