OPINION: When will we stop violence against women

Written by admin on 27/07/2018 Categories: 南京夜网

A WOMAN is killed almost every week in Australia by a male partner or ex-partner.
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Violence against women isn’t something that happens in isolation in developing countries, and more work needs to be done to protect females locally and internationally from sexual harassment and domestic violence.

In neighbouring countries such as Kiribati, Samoa and Papua New Guinea the instance of violence against women is at near-pandemic levels, yet the statistics are also frightening in Australia.

Nearly 20per cent of women have experienced sexual violence after the age of 15.

Aboriginal women in remote and rural communities are 45 times more likely to experience rates of family violence than non-Aboriginal women.

In NSW, 19 out of the top 20 local government areas for domestic assault are rural or regional.

That’s our backyard.

For those of us who have wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, nieces and female friends, this is a dismal reality.

Last week, the Newcastle Herald reported an aggravated sexual assault on a young unsuspecting woman out jogging in Warabrook in the early evening. This is simply too close to home to ignore.

The police caution women against walking alone in the early evening as a strategy to protect them from similar attacks.

We must be careful not to shift the blame for any assault from the perpetrator to the victim.

Hopefully, the police will identify and charge the offender, however it is abhorrent to suggest this young woman put herself at risk.

Recently we have seen the widespread reporting of violence against women, prompting open conversations about how it occurs and what can be done to end it.

The outpouring of emotion for Jill Meagher, raped and murdered in Melbourne last year, is an example of a necessary shift in attitude.

This is also evident globally, in the fallout from the gang rape and subsequent death of a 23-year-old Indian woman in December last year.

There have been strong and sustained calls in India – where roughly half the female population think it’s justified for a man to beat his wife – for societal change so more women are not assaulted, harassed and mistreated based on their gender.

In order to break the cycle of domestic violence against women in our community, there needs to be a commitment to providing sustainable, effective assistance and support services to victims.

Assistance includes immediate and ongoing support for women who experience domestic violence, education programs for school children as well as adults and specialised training for police officers on how to respond to incidents of domestic violence.

Assistance costs money, and our government has supported many initiatives to help end violence against women. But the community must play a role as well.

March 8 is International Women’s Day and the global theme for 2013 is Ending Violence Against Women.

Money raised from official events will go directly to the Critical Services Initiative that funds projects in countries, including Australia, that need assistance in providing these important support services.

Attending these events is also an opportunity to learn more about the work being done all over the globe by organisations such as UN Women to bring about legislative and attitudinal change to gender equity, pay equity and domestic violence.

The Hunter’s official event is being held on March 8 at Wests Leagues Club New Lambton, and will feature guest speakers Terry Lawler and Helen Cummings.

Ms Cummings, herself a survivor of domestic violence and author of the bestselling e-book Blood Vows will share her story in a bid to make a difference.

For more information, go to www.unwomen.org.au

Belinda Smith is the chair of the Hunter Chapter of UN Women Australia

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OPINION: Reckless gambles threaten our future

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MINING has been part of this country from the ochre pits of the Aboriginals, the first coalmine at the mouth of the Hunter, the gold shafts at Hill End and on to the wealth coming from Cadia gold and copper mine, near Orange.
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It has made an enormous economic contribution to this nation.

As a specialist engineer I have spent most of my 40-year career working for major construction and mining companies on underground and open-cut mines, and in the disposal of the waste products of those mines.

I have worked, and continue to work, for most of the major mining companies and for the big construction companies in Australia and south-east Asia.

Until a few decades ago, mining in this country tended to be confined to relatively small areas.

So even if some mines had adverse impacts on land, water systems, and important environments – take the massive landslides in the Burragorang Valley and at Katoomba, the cracking of the Cataract River, and the draining of swamps on the Newnes Plateau – most impacts from these mines covered limited areas.

But with coal seam gas (CSG) extraction we are dealing with a new animal.

CSG extraction is a relatively new industry and a form of mining that covers very large areas very quickly. It has the potential to adversely affect groundwater systems over large parts of this state.

In order to extract coal seam gas, one first has to depressurise the groundwater in the coal seams and move it to the surface.

So the coal seams are, in effect, groundwater voids – the same as coalmines. But we are no longer talking about relatively localised effects. We are talking huge areas.

The enormous expansion of CSG mining has occurred in a poorly controlled manner over a very short period.

Large areas of our state will be affected by a relatively new industry where the science behind these impacts and the key hydrogeological parameters are poorly understood.

We have very little empirical information about long-term impacts from CSG operations because the industry is so young.

What we do know is that the impacts will develop over many years – and that, if the impacts are substantial, they will be almost impossible to reverse.

The current NSW government listing of exploration licences for CSG totals 189,567 square kilometres, almost 19million hectares.

To this we must add 24,000 hectares in production leases for CSG and all the coalmining areas.

Together this comprises much of our populated area, our forested wilderness, our wetlands and rivers, and our productive agricultural land.

What we do with our water matters.

Rainfall is our primary water source and is subject to huge swings.

In times of plenty, our rivers flow, our dams fill, but most importantly our groundwater systems replenish.

Huge quantities seep into the Great Artesian Basin from the recharge zone along the east coast, into the porous and fractured rocks in the Sydney-Gunnedah geological basin that extends from Sutton Forest to Narrabri, and also into the older rocks west of the divide.

Apart from feeding bores, groundwater sustains the baseflows of our creeks and rivers, and our wetland systems.

Diminish those groundwater systems and you create a tendril effect of damage that extends from an individual vegetable farmer at Picton to a complete river system in the Yarramalong Valley, or at Gloucester.

CSG mining puts our groundwater under enormous pressure.

It is simply a matter of physics, not of opinion, that this depressurisation from CSG mining will adversely affect the whole groundwater system, because like the apple that fell on Isaac Newton’s head, groundwater is controlled by gravity and flows from zones of high elevation to zones of lower potential energy.

How long will it take for the changes to our groundwater to be substantial?

We don’t know.

How extensive will they be?

We don’t know.

One thing we do know is encapsulated by Dr Richard Evans, principal hydrogeologist of Sinclair Knight Merz

‘‘There is no free lunch here – every litre of water you pump out of the ground reduces river flow by the same amount.’’

I don’t believe as a society we should just let this process run helter skelter – a process whose consequences on our environment are not yet fully understood by scientists and engineers.

And we cannot rely on what is called “adaptive management”, because if monitoring of CSG does show significant impacts on water systems, there is very little that can be done to reverse the process once the damage is done.

Wisdom demands that the whole process of CSG extraction in this state be urgently wound back.

That may allow the science to catch up with the present rapacious desire to exploit a resource.

To allow CSG mining to proceed before more is done to understand its impact is a reckless gamble with our future.

Perhaps we can learn from past lessons involving asbestos, tobacco, thalidomide and Agent Orange.

Damage may be done that cannot be repaired.

Dr Philip Pells is a civil engineer who has spent four decades in geotechnical and groundwater engineering.

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Travel flies in the face of retail gloom

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We are all familiar with the depressed level of retail spending in Australia. From fridges to fashion, and televisions to toys, the picture of the typical consumer is one of short arms and long pockets.
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But even this sobering data has been distorted. Because these broad spending trends ignore the fact that Australians have been spending on travel – in particular overseas air travel.

The bad news is that once that is accounted for, it makes the other areas that make up retail sales look even worse.

When it comes to discretionary spending we are more inclined to take a holiday overseas than buy a flat screen TV – and here is another misconception – it is not all about the strength of the Australian dollar.

That’s part of it, but not the whole story. If it was all about the currency, the outbound travel market would be strong and the inbound markets weak. Both these segments are experiencing solid growth.

So why is this demand for travel not strongly reflected in the earnings from our major airlines, Qantas and Virgin?

In the first instance we are not only using these carriers. The liberalisation of bilateral agreements between governments has allowed more international carriers into Australia.

And secondly, while our local airlines are carrying more people, they are offering discounted fares, and thus are not getting the boost in their bottom line profits. Their market share of overseas travel (and this particularly applies to Qantas) is being eroded and so are the margins.

And it’s even a bit more complicated than this. There is the domestic travel side, which includes business and leisure (or holiday) markets, and then there is the international side.

There has been massive increase in capacity in domestic travel, which is the main reason both Qantas and Virgin reported weaker earnings over the past week.

Then there is international travel, which is particularly interesting. Over the long-term the cost of overseas travel has been coming down and becoming more affordable. This is part of a structural shift in the market. Overseas travel long ago moved to the middle-class market and away from the domain of the wealthy.

If you ignore the business market (which travels because it needs to and is less sensitive to price) the factors that influence overseas travel are just the same as any other purchase decision – price and therefore value.

In the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis the Australian dollar rapidly appreciated, making offshore travel a far better value proposition.

We are now pretty accustomed to this and despite a number of fundamental reasons, economists said it would fall, but our currency has remained stubbornly high. This might explain some of our reasons for offshore travel. But it doesn’t account for why incoming travel to Australia is also pretty strong.

A Deloitte Access Economics report shows international visitor arrivals during the second half of 2012 accelerated strongly. International arrivals were up 5.8 per cent in December and 4.6 per up on the year. And it is expecting growth to continue at this annual rate over the next three years.

What is particularly interesting about these numbers is that the geographic source of visitors is also changing. It’s no longer about Europe and the UK – growth in international passengers is coming out of Asia. The trend is backed up by financial statements from Sydney Airport, which showed strong growth in passenger numbers.

Again it’s about supply and demand combined with geopolitical change and technology.

Put simply, there are more flights coming into Australia particularly from the emerging middle class areas of Asia. So on the supply side there has been some substantial expansion, which in the past year alone has included two budget airlines entering the Australian market, Scoot out of Singapore and AsiaAir X out of Malaysia.

The existing airlines are also adding capacity (rather than flights) by using larger planes, which are also more fuel and environmentally efficient.

On top of that the Chinese and the Indians are boosting the numbers of inbound passengers. There has also been some revival in traditional markets – including the US and Japan. Outbound travel that experienced a boost when the Australian dollar started its post-GFC rise is only now showing some signs of tapering off in terms of growth rates.

We are still growing outbound travel but the double-digit growth rates have eased, according to Deloitte. Air fares are still coming down but the adrenalin hit from the exchange rate is not as potent, as we have become more accustomed to a high dollar.

Deloitte suggests that this will continue to lose momentum as they expect the currency will depreciate over time. That remains to be seen.

In the meantime, the domestic leisure market remains subdued despite the fact that increased capacity has pushed down airfares. The area of increased activity on this front is derived from visits to family and friends rather than holiday travel.

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Mapping edges of human experience

Written by admin on 29/06/2019 Categories: 南京夜网

THERE is a moment of confrontation in Cloud Atlas when Jim Sturgess, playing the role of a 19th-century British lawyer, returns from an arduous voyage to the South Pacific to tell his pompous father-in-law (Hugo Weaving) that, having seen slavery in action, he is joining the Abolitionists.
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The older man is both furious and curdled with contempt. Nothing this young upstart does will make a blind bit of difference, he says, adding, ”You are just a drop in a limitless ocean!” Sturgess pauses. ”Yes,” he replies, ”but what is an ocean but a multitude of drops?”

This is possibly the key line in Cloud Atlas, an epic that mingles six stories ranging from the 1849 shipboard drama to an end-of-days adventure set on a devastated Earth in 2346. From one era to the next, characters struggle towards finding truths or freeing themselves from oppression.

”It is a beautiful thought,” says co-director Tom Tykwer, ”that decisions we take and actions we do have consequences. But we are not in a position to judge how big or small those consequences are, which gives our deeds more gravitas and more relevance. We have a responsibility with everything we do.”

Cloud Atlas is based on the Booker-nominated novel by David Mitchell, who adapted it with the three directors, Andy and Lana Wachowski – directors of the Matrix films – and the German director Tykwer, whose earlier films include Run, Lola, Run and Heaven. Tykwer took on the film’s more naturalistic stories: a young gay composer working for a mentor in 1936, a crusading journalist fighting plans for a nuclear reactor in 1973 and the comic story of an ageing London publisher monstered by a thuggish author in 2012. The Wachowskis handled the voyage, the 24th-century Armageddon and, playing to their strengths as sci-fi supremos, an extraordinary view of 22nd-century dystopia called Neo-Seoul, where service roles are filled by pneumatic clones.

These stories are told sequentially in the novel. The film cuts them all together. Some scenes run only for a few seconds before they shift to another place and time, the idea being that the viewer’s brain will sort out these small gems to create a vast mosaic in which, inevitably, every story echoes inside everything else.

This interweaving of character and theme is further underlined by the redeployment of the film’s starry cast – which includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving and Hugh Grant – in different guises, usually still recognisable but clearly living another life altogether. It is up to the viewer whether to treat their reappearances as evidence of the transmigration of souls, as a twist on modern genetics or merely as metaphor.

Tykwer certainly isn’t a reincarnation man, but he is sure that each of us presents something remarkable. ”I had a son born a few years ago,” he muses. ”I looked at him coming out and he looked at me and I knew there was somebody already there; I could really see a character and it was proven right: he is that character now.” He has no idea where that character was formed; perhaps it was in some parallel life, as Cloud Atlas might suggest. ”But one of the beautiful things about the novel is that you can both read it as a spiritual or secular tale,” Tykwer continues. ”It allows every perspective on it. Some actors I would ask, because it seemed appropriate, ‘Where are we now in your soul’s development?’ Other days you would say, ‘Inside your genetic string, what is your situation?’

”The movie in a way is an investigation of progress as a subject in general related to humanity,” Tykwer says. ”Is progress happening? Is it even a possibility? We are so talented and so gifted … we can build the most incredible bomb imaginable, but then in the end we can’t resist throwing it at ourselves. No other species would ever do that.”

But no other species can imagine itself, either. In that sense, the wild, tumbling fantasy of Cloud Atlas is absolutely human.

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Mussel inspiration for sticky problem

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Sticky solution … reseachers have development a surgical glue based on the mussel’s ability to grip on wet, slippery rocks.WHEN it comes to hanging on tight, the lowly mussel has few rivals in nature. Researchers have sought the secrets behind the bivalve’s steadfast grip on wet, slippery rock. Now they have used the mollusc’s tricks to develop medical applications. These include a biocompatible glue that could one day seal foetal membranes, allowing prenatal surgeons to repair birth defects without triggering dangerous premature labour.
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To hold fast beneath the surging waves, mussels secrete liquid proteins that harden into a solid, water-resistant glue. What’s easy for the animals, however, has been hard for human engineers. Not even Super Glue will stick in a fish aquarium because a layer of water forms that keeps the two surfaces from bonding. But mussels somehow elbow the water aside, Herbert Waite, a biologist at University of California, Santa Barbara, says.

Over 30 years, Waite’s team has uncovered the basis of this remarkable ability. Each of the 15 proteins that make up the molluscs’ holdfasts – thread-like structures that help attach the mussel to a hard substrate – contains an abundance of an amino acid called dihydroxyphenylalanine, or DOPA. This is particularly abundant in parts of the proteins that face out towards the hard surface. It enables liquid holdfast proteins to solidify rapidly and stick flawlessly to wet and salty surfaces.

“If I were to list the desired properties for medical adhesives, they would look exactly the same,” Phillip Messersmith, a materials scientist at Northwestern University in Illinois, says. He and his colleagues have created a synthetic, thread-like polymer called polyethylene glycol that mimics the mussel protein, and they have attached a synthetic form of DOPA to the thread’s tips.

To see if the compound worked in live animals, a veterinary surgeon collaborating with Messersmith’s team made a 2.5-centimetre incision in the carotid artery of a dog and placed four stitches along the length of that incision to hold it in place. With the stitches alone, the incision bled when the surgeon pressed it. But just 20 seconds after the mussel-based glue was applied, the artery was sealed and did not bleed.

More recently, Messersmith’s team began testing its glue on foetal membranes. For the past few decades, surgeons have begun surgically repairing birth defects such as spina bifida while a foetus is still in the uterus. But the process is risky because the surgery risks rupturing the foetal membrane prematurely, sending the mother into premature labour.

There are no good adhesives on the market for surgeons to repair such foetal-membrane tears. But in recent, unpublished experiments in rabbits, Messersmith’s team found that after a veterinary surgeon poked a 3.5-millimetre hole in the foetal membrane, the new, mussel-inspired glue readily sealed up the puncture.

ScienceNow

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Review: Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 lens

Written by admin on  Categories: 南京夜网

Price: $550A winner.
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THE LOW-DOWN

This is the latest addition to the Olympus range of premium prime lenses for the micro Four Thirds system cameras. It can be used on either Olympus or Panasonic cameras. The new lens is not to be confused with an older 17-millimetre f2.8 unit. The new optic is faster, sharper and has quicker autofocus. Switching between auto and manual focus can be done in-camera – in which case you get the focus-assist enlargement of the LCD image – or by sliding a clutch ring on the barrel. That way there is no enlargement of the LCD image but the smooth focus ring has stops at each end of the focus range, which is preferable to having the ring go around endlessly, as it does when the in-camera manual focus is selected.

LIKE

Optically and mechanically this lens is outstanding. There is very slight barrel distortion, which is to be expected in a 34-millimetre equivalent medium-wide angle. From f5.6 we were satisfied with the overall sharpness of the image. The compact dimensions and its lightness, combined with the superior construction materials, make this an ideal walk-around lens.

DISLIKE

It is a shame to have to trade off the lovely action you get when the manual focus is selected on the lens with the loss of the manual focus assist.

VERDICT

For anyone who has owned and loved an Olympus OM camera, this lens (and its companions in the M.Zuiko premium range) is a return to the good old days of brilliant, beautifully made prime lenses. And now we have the added benefit of lightning-fast autofocus. What more could we ask for?

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Make a note of it

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IT WASN’T until the Evernote note-taking and archiving application launched its business service in Australia at the beginning of February that Bleeding Edge realised the extent to which it had captivated the memory-challenged and/or mildly obsessive record keepers of the world.
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In the not quite five years since Russian and American entrepreneurs Stepan Pachikov and Phil Libin combined to launch a Windows beta web application in 2008, Evernote has lured about 50 million users – 800,000 of them in Australia.

Along the way it has gained versions for OS X, iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows 8 and changed the concept of the note.

The conventional idea of ”a brief record of facts, topics or thoughts” now includes mobile phone images – which, in the case of a snap of a whiteboard, for instance, may be converted to text and uploaded to one’s electronic notebook – voice memos, clips of marked sections or entire web pages, tweets and email dispatches etc.

Evernote Business formalises and extends to users the process of sharing notebooks that have been beneficial for virtual teams and knowledge sharing.

In Melbourne, frustrated by challenges of cataloguing details of damaged vehicles, a panel-beating company uploads 400 images of damaged vehicles every day for easy references and exchanges with employees, owners and insurance companies; a teacher shares a notebook with her students; a landscape architect shares plans, photos and sketches; a magazine editor runs her publishing schedule via Evernote.

Evernote is a suite of tools and services that includes Evernote Hello, which allows users to create new contacts by scanning business cards; the Skitch image-creation and annotation tool; and the Penultimate handwriting app for the iPad that syncs to Evernote.

Evernote Clearly cleans up blog posts, articles and web pages for easier reading in a browser – although it’s a good idea to check whether its judgment of ”inessential” text matches your requirements. The Evernote Web Clipper browser extension provides a simple way to capture a permanent snapshot of web pages.

There’s increasing integration of hardware devices with Evernote. The Livescribe smart pen, which synchronises handwritten notes with audio for a record of interviews, presentations and meetings, wirelessly transfers its files to Evernote.

The iHealth Labs function has a blood pressure monitor, wrist blood pressure monitor and a digital body analysis scale that uploads records to the company’s MyVitals iOS app, which integrates seamlessly with Evernote.

There’s even a clever cross-over from analog to digital note-taking via the Moleskine Evernote notebook, which works with Evernote’s Page Camera app for iOS and Android devices to capture and recognise written text and upload it to Evernote.

Having observed that many of its users store clips from foodie blogs and recipes, Evernote has a recently updated Evernote Food app for iOS and Android that allows users to record recipes, images of meals, restaurant details etc.

Perhaps the most promising aspect of Evernote is that it provides a great model for the software development industry in terms of its communication with users and response to and, in some cases, anticipation of their demands.

It has a forum for users’ questions, four blogs that include tips and guides and exchanges between designers and users. Its appointment in 2012 of former CNET journalist Rafe Needleman as ”platform advocate” enhanced its efforts considerably. His Opportunity Notes blog is worth a regular read.

Working on the ”freemium” model, Evernote offers a free, highly useful, ad-supported version, which allows users to upload 60MB of data a month. Its utility expands considerably, however, with the $US45-a-year ($43) premium version.

That increases the monthly upload limit to 1GB, allows larger notes and files, makes scanned PDFs searchable, processes images with printed or handwritten text faster, and allows iOS and Android users offline access to notebooks.

Evernote Business adds sharable business notebooks, a business library and improved sharing features including simple setting of permissions to the basic product. It costs $US11 a user a month but increases the upload limit to 2GB a month.

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Heads in the cloud

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WHEN Adobe chief executive Shantanu Narayen was in Australia a couple of weeks ago he was asked at a press conference why his products cost so much more here than they do in the US. As one pesky journalist pointed out, you can fly to the US, buy the Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection, have a nice time and fly back to Oz and still save hundreds of dollars.
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Like a good capitalist, Narayen simply refused to answer. He kept referring to a recent drop in the price of Adobe’s cloud subscription service. Every attempt to get him to reply to the specific question about the disparity in software prices was sidestepped or ignored. It would be nice to think the parliamentary inquiry into software pricing by Adobe, Microsoft and Apple will result in some changes.

Flying pigs, anyone?

Photoshop 6 is so expensive here that only professionals and well-heeled amateurs can afford the latest version. Presumably that is a large enough customer base to keep Narayen happy, but it leaves a lot of photographers discontented with their ancient versions of the industry-standard photo-editing tool.

Although we’re reluctant to put business Adobe’s way while it sticks with its present pricing policies, we know there is no point in cutting off the nose to spite the face. There is an alternative to the ruinously expensive Photoshop – the $185 Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4. We still pay a whopping 50 per cent more than Americans, but the difference between $120 and $185 won’t buy a return plane ticket to the US.

Lightroom is a file-management system and photo editor and, as such, demands a rethink of how we import photos and store them. The process with this program is incredibly complex and you won’t work it out without help.

Similarly, the Print module in Lightroom is excellent but not intuitive. A guide is needed, so it is advisable to risk a few more dollars for Scott Kelby’s book The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Book for Digital Photographers (paper, e-book or PDF). Mr K has a juvenile style but he knows the application and is a good guide through its intricacies.

The web module is a straightforward web-gallery creator and file-transfer set-up that is easy to use, and we like it and use it. The downside is that the gallery templates are not exciting and you can’t use the animated Flash-enabled ones if you want people to see your gallery on an iPad.

Because Lightroom is, at its core, a RAW converter, the company sends out regular online updates to cover the newest cameras.

All in all, we would rate Adobe Photoshop Lightroom as great value for money and it almost makes Photoshop itself redundant. Pity it doesn’t cost $60 less.

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Duplicate data to weather storms

Written by admin on 28/05/2019 Categories: 南京夜网

‘There’s no one-size-fits-all back-up solution and you might need to test a few to see which works best.’FROM fires and floods to a simple hard-drive failure, there’s no shortage of disasters waiting to claim your family photos and other precious data. An insurance policy might cover your home and contents, but irreplaceable family photographs are perhaps our most precious possessions. These days your photo library is probably spread across computers and other gadgets scattered throughout the house. All those artefacts could be lost forever, and it happens to people every day.
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Also spare a thought for important documents such as school assignments, business reports and tax records you can’t afford to lose.

Even if fire and flood aren’t lapping at your door, there are plenty of more mundane threats to your precious data. Burglars are quick to reach for notebooks, smartphones, tablets and digital cameras. Power spikes and hard-drive failures can wipe your digital life in a flash, as can a nasty virus. Even something as simple as a leaking roof or burst water pipe can wash away your digital memories forever.

The best way to insure yourself against a digital disaster is to make back-ups of your precious files for safe-keeping. That doesn’t mean keeping them in the desk drawer, where they’re also likely to fall victim to the disaster that claims the computer on the desk. It’s vital to safely store ”off-site” back-ups.

The easiest way to do this is to burn files to disc or copy them to a USB drive and leave them at a friend’s house, or maybe in your desk drawer at work. But it’s easy to become lax with your back-up habits. For an extra level of off-site protection, also consider making automatic back-ups to a cloud storage service. Choices include Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, Mozy, Carbonite and Jungle Disk. Cloud back-up software runs in the background on your computer, automatically uploading new and changed files.

The initial back-up might take a long time, and you’ll need to keep an eye on your monthly data limit if your internet service provider counts uploads towards your monthly allowance. After the hefty initial back-up, regular incremental back-ups should run quickly. Some software lets you create flexible schedules, perhaps backing up school assignments once an hour but your photo library once a day or week.

Get into the habit of regularly copying the photos from your digital camera to your computer, rather than leaving months’ worth of photos sitting on the memory card. If your smartphone tends to be your camera too, your photos are even more at risk of being lost or stolen. One simple back-up strategy is to email the best photos to yourself. You should regularly back up your mobile devices to your computer so the files will be copied to the cloud.

The iGadgets option needs Apple’s iTunes software to back up to a computer, but the back-ups are locked away in hidden files. Use the camera import settings in Windows, or Image Capture on a Mac, to copy the photos on your iPhone or iPad to a folder on your computer. Or use photo management software such as iPhoto or Photoshop Elements to import them into your photo library.

The same techniques should work with most Android devices, which let you see your photos as if the gadget were a USB stick. Windows Phone owners should use the Windows Phone desktop app.

Many smartphones and tablets can automatically upload your photos to the cloud wirelessly, but it’s important to keep an eye on your mobile broadband usage. On an iPhone or iPad, you can automatically back up the camera roll to Apple’s iCloud. Photo Stream copies photos from an iGadget to your computer and other iGadgets. Dropbox and Google+ can do a similar job on Apple or Android gadgets, as can SkyDrive on Windows Phone devices. Or you might manually upload photos to these or other cloud services. Apple’s iCloud and Photo Stream back-ups run only over wi-fi but the others can also use 3G/4G, so watch your mobile broadband allowance. There’s no one-size-fits-all back-up solution and you might need to test a few to see which works best. If you can’t afford to lose everything, you can afford to spend the time protecting your precious files.Back up versus sync

NOT all storage services are created equal, and it’s important to understand how they work.

Back-up services such as Carbonite, Mozy and Jungle Disk lurk in the background on your computer. You tell them which folders to watch and how often to check, and they automatically upload new or changed files to the cloud. Some back-up services will protect several computers using one account, but others require separate accounts for each computer. Should disaster strike, you can download the files again or perhaps access them through your browser.

Google Drive, SkyDrive and Dropbox can also lurk on your computer, but they’re designed mainly to synchronise files and folders between devices. Copy a file into your computer’s Dropbox folder, or edit an existing file, and it’s copied to the Dropbox folder on your other computers. A copy is also kept in the cloud, which is a handy back-up.

Unlike back-up services, sync services tend to lack advanced features such as throttling upload speeds, restricting back-ups to specific file types and keeping old versions of documents. Even so, the pressure from sync services has forced back-up services such as Mozy and Jungle Disk to add sync features, along with competitors such as SugarSync and CrashPlan.

Apple’s iCloud is another contender, but it lacks the flexibility of other services; it syncs Apple’s iWork files between iGadgets and the desktop iWork applications on a Mac. Some third-party desktop applications also tap into iCloud. You can use iCloud to sync your calendar, contacts, email and photos, but it’s not a general storage service and you can’t use it to back up a desktop folder full of photos and non-Apple Office files.

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Westfield hit by falling rents as retail stays flat

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Westfield Sydney … no renewal of leases yet.WESTFIELD, the world’s biggest shopping centre owner, has admitted rents are falling in its Australian centres due to weaker retail trading conditions.
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New tenants will be offered rents up to 5 per cent lower this year, while tenants who are negotiating to extend their lease face moderate increases below the rate of inflation.

Westfield Group is considered the market barometer for mall landlords as it has interests in and manages 105 shopping centres across Australia, the US, Britain, New Zealand and Brazil, covering more than 22,800 retail outlets, and has total assets under management of $64.4 billion.

But any drop in rents is not expected to affect the tenants in the flagship Westfield Sydney centre in Pitt Street Mall. Given Westfield Sydney is only two years old, the initial leases still have about three years to go.

Westfield’s co-chief executive Steven Lowy said on Wednesday that while renewals were flat, ”new leases are about 4 per cent to 5 per cent below leases at the previous expiries”.

When queried on the outlook for sales, Mr Lowy said they would be about 1.5 to 2 per cent. That rate of growth would be lower than this year’s 2.9 per cent, due to a combination of remixing tenancies, increased savings by households and low inflation, which would keep prices flat.

”There have been subdued retail sales in Australia for a number of years now and I suppose we are feeling a lagged effect,” Mr Lowy said. ”It’s fair to say the December [2012] quarter was softer than we would have liked. But of course, we are pleased with a bounce back in January. Whether that continues or not … we can’t really predict that.”

Another reason for the forecast declines in rents is the rise in online shopping and less demand for bricks and mortar stores. To stem that tidal outflow, Westfield has created a new digital division, Westfield Labs, based in San Francisco.

”With so many shoppers now connected to mobile devices, we are well advanced with strategies to connect the digital shopper with our malls, including sophisticated car-park technology, concierge and lifestyle services, efficient delivery channels for retailers, and utilising social media and interactive advertising to better interact with consumers,” Mr Lowy said.

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Westfield forwards showing goal skills

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ANALYSTS asking when about Westfield’s new Milan development might have been looking for a construction update, but co-heads the Lowy brothers seemed keener on soccer fixtures. Asked by Simon Garing of Merrill Lynch for a ”kick-off date” for Milan, Steven Lowy said: ”Are you talking about the score today? They are playing Barcelona next week.”
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The remuneration report for the 2012 year, issued on Wednesday, shows some of Westfield’s executives are on pay resembling that of a handy player for a European soccer team. Sydney-based youngest brother Steven was paid $10.94 million, including a $4 million bonus, up from $8.9 million the previous year.

That’s significantly better than Australia’s highest-paid round-baller, Sydney FC import Alessandro Del Piero, who reportedly signed on for $2 million.

Steven’s brother Peter is based in LA, where David Beckham was on a base salary of $US6.5 million until he quit the Galaxy last year. Peter bent it better than Beckham, scoring $US10.5 million, including a bonus of $US3.36 million, up from $US8.2 million the previous year.

Westfield finance director Peter Allen, whose name was touted last year as a possible candidate for the CEO job at Stockland, was paid $6.22 million, up from $5.8 million.

Patriarch and non-executive chairman Frank Lowy was paid a positively un-world game $750,000, up from $451,236. None of them came close to matching the deal enjoyed by a man Milan’s players face next week, Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, who is on €16 million (about $20 million) a year.Fashionable listing

CAN you make a dress out of hundred dollar bills? Fashionista Lisa Ho might need to work out the answer to that question if her company Lisa Ho Designs prospers following its listing on the not particularly glam secondary exchange, the NSX.

Ho is seeking up to $1.7 million from punters who want a slice of what the prospectus calls ”one of the most respected and iconic labels in Australia”.

The prospectus shows she is to be paid an entirely reasonable $109,000 (plus travel, hotels and expenses) a year as ”creative and group business leader”. Not even enough to keep one in Hermes handbags. However, she also gets a bonus of 2 per cent of gross annual sales and, after three years, 3 per cent of gross annual income (for the right to use the Lisa Ho name).

The business had a rotten 2012 – apparently ”a result of one-off business issues” including overstocking of garments ”that Lisa would not have selected” – making a loss of $2.36 million.

If in a few years the business were to bounce back to the healthier 2010 levels, CBD’s calculations show Ho would collect $713,635. That’s about 2½ times the profit declared in that year of $276,000. Oh, and following the float, Ho will hold at least 72 per cent of the shares.No Midas touch

IF YOU hit gold, the last thing you’d expect is for your share price to halve. But that’s what happened to Inca Minerals on Wednesday, possibly courtesy of a disgruntled former director.

Before the market opened Inca announced that in a ”major breakthrough” it had found gold, silver, copper and molybdenum at its Chanape Project in Peru.

Managing director Ross Brown told CBD the company found ”bonanza” grades of gold and silver close to the surface and he was ”ecstatic” about the find.

But shares in the company plunged in heavy trade, falling from 10.5¢ to close at 5.1¢. CBD hears that much of the selling came through Bell Potter from former director Sue Thomas, who appears to have rid herself of most of her 26 million-odd shares. She quit the board of the company earlier this month after the rest of the board refused to let her load up on shares at a steep discount to the market price.

”I haven’t heard that [Thomas was selling],” Brown said. ”I think the market’s reacted negatively to the extent of the grade, but the market sometimes gets ahead of itself.”

Meanwhile, over at Western Mining Network, executive chairman Christopher Clower pursued the opposite strategy, exercising his option to buy half a million shares in the company at 30¢ – 6¢ more than the stock was fetching on Wednesday.You’re fired. I quit

NEWS of bizarre goings-on at a Tuesday afternoon meeting of shareholders in Boris Ganke’s Southern Cross Exploration has clawed its way to the outside world.

Shareholders rebelling against Boris wanted to kick his son Eugene Ganke and long-time associate Evelyn Goh off the board and replace them with Bruce Burrell and Alex Keach.

But before the meeting Eugene and Evelyn resigned and were replaced by Steven Baghdadi and Antonio Vieira. Bruce and Alex then found themselves appointed to the board, but no nearer loosening Boris’ grip on the company.

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Westfield admits stalling sales

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Peter (left) and Steven Lowy: Weaker local conditions will be offset by the US and Britain.THE world’s biggest shopping centre owner by assets under management, Westfield, has put into numbers what its tenants and consumers already knew – sales are slipping across the country.
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To stem the decline, the retail juggernaut has admitted it is dropping rents for new leases. In a rare admission, the group said reductions of up to 5 per cent were being negotiated.

But reductions were unlikely in the newer centres such as Westfield Sydney, where specialty rents on long leases remain at an average $15,660 per square metre.

Joint chief executive Steven Lowy told an investor briefing on Wednesday that while lease renewal rates were flat, the slowing economy, lower inflation and the continued rise in household savings rates had led to subdued market conditions.

”In Australia, while retail conditions have been subdued for most of the year, the business responded well and in January specialty retail sales were up about 4 per cent,” Mr Lowy said.

”But this year lease renewals are basically flat and new leases were about 4 per cent to 5 per cent below leases at the previous expiries.”

In its full-year result, the group reported sales for its Australia and New Zealand malls were up 2.9 per cent on a comparable store basis. The forecast for 2013 was growth of 1.5 to 2 per cent, which was at the lower end of analyst expectations.

Weaker southern hemisphere business will be offset by improvement in US and British operations, as well as up to $550 million in developments earmarked for 2o13.

For the year to December 31, Westfield reported an 18.3 per cent rise in net profit to $1.72 billion.

The spinoff Westfield Retail Trust, which has a 50 per cent stake in the Australian and NZ shopping centres, reported a net profit of $830.8 million, slightly down on the $849.1 million a year earlier due to a fall in some property valuations.

Westfield Group will pay 49.5¢ in distributions per security, and expects that to rise to 51¢ in 2013. Investors in the Westfield Retail Trust will receive 18.75¢ per stapled security, rising to 19.85 in 2013.

Despite the cautious outlook, Westfield issued an earnings guidance growth of 3 per cent, equal to about 66.5¢ on a funds from operations calculation.

Mr Lowy said the redevelopment works at Miranda and Mount Gravatt in Australia, the opening of Westfield Stratford City in London last year, and Century City and Valley Fair in California, would underpin future earnings.

Co-chief executive Peter Lowy said the company expected 60 per cent of its income to come from the US and Britain in about four years, from about 55 per cent now, boosted by joint ventures in Milan and Brazil.

Analysts said the overall profit result was in line with expectations, but the outlook for the Australia/NZ portfolio continued to deteriorate, while the US portfolio was expected to deliver stronger net operating income growth in 2013 and beyond.

Simon Wheatley, head of real estate research at Goldman Sachs, said: ”We believe investors may be disappointed by another year of low funds from operations (FFO) growth.”

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Early signing helped Maloney’s focus

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JAMES MALONEY, who signed with Sydney Roosters 14 months before his first game with them, believes there is no better player transfer system available to the game’s officials.
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Maloney’s signing with the Roosters in November 2011, before he played another season with his incumbent club the Warriors, sparked criticism of the system – in the same way Josh Papalii’s potential move to Parramatta has.

But Maloney said the fact he knew he was playing for another club did not affect his game last year – and in fact maintained that he deliberately made the decision so early so he would not be distracted in his final year with the Warriors.

”That was the whole idea,” Maloney said. ”I wanted to get it done before the season was under way. Towards the end of the previous year, there had already been talk about what I was doing when I was off contract. It would have kept popping up, so it was good to be able to put it to bed. The players that you play with, they don’t mind that you’re moving on. Everyone understands. It’s a business, and I never came across any boys who were dirty on it. It was done and as long as I put my best foot forward, no one was worried.

”I don’t think it affected me. I don’t think last year was my best year, but I don’t think it was the decision. I didn’t find it a distraction at all.

”There were a few jokes amongst the boys, blokes making sure I went into the right sheds when we played the Roosters, but at the end of the day, everyone understood.”

Papalii is still wrestling with his decision, even though the Eels have trumpeted the signing. Having signed a contract with the Eels, Papalii can still back out of the deal before round 13 this year, and Canberra officials believe there is a strong chance that he will.

While he acknowledges that the system would be frustrating for supporters, Maloney said he didn’t believe officials had come up with a better one. ”I don’t have an issue with it,” he said.

”I can understand why it’s hard for the fans, knowing players are signing 12 months out. It’s not ideal. But we had the June 30 deadline before that, but it was pretty obvious to everyone that a lot was being done and finalised before that. And the transfer window at the end of the season – you can’t just pack up and move your family on a dime. We don’t have a perfect system.”

Brian McClennan, who coached Maloney for the majority of last season, said he didn’t believe the five-eighth’s early decision affected the squad.

”Every player has the right to secure his future,” McClennan said. ”They’re not talking about it – they’re concentrating on their next game. From my point of view, once they sign a contract, that’s it – they just compete. They don’t walk around wondering about their pay cheque.”

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