The Tula is a stylish portable audio recorder with AI noise cancellation

EngadgetThe Tula is a stylish portable audio recorder with AI noise cancellation

Ever since we all started spending more time at home, I’ve had to pay especially close attention to production gear — we’re now shooting our videos and handling our live streams away from our old office, after all. So far, I’ve struggled most with audio, especially when recording on the (socially distanced) move, which makes the new Tula mic an especially tantalizing option.

You probably haven’t heard of Tula before, but you may be familiar with founder David Brown and his other microphone brand: Soyuz. They’re best known for their strikingly designed, tremendously expensive TUBE microphones, seen in any number of the company’s YouTube videos. Needless to say, recordings sound great — as they should from a $3,000 microphone. The Tula is different: it’s a surprisingly flexible portable recorder that promises quality audio and clever features for $199.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Tula is its design — while not nearly as ostentatious as a Soyuz, it shares a sense of old-school whimsy lacking in more « professional » gear like, well, anything Zoom makes. With its tiny flip-out stand and metal-and-plastic chassis, the Tula manages to come off as practical and adorable at the same time. (Or, « practicadorable, a word I will now use incessantly.) Just because it’s sort of cute doesn’t mean the team cut corners on controls — The Tula is festooned with buttons to tweak gain, skip through files, toggle ambient noise cancellation, and play back recordings. Honestly, there’s enough going on here that you’ll probably have to keep the tiny manual handy at first.

Tula

But enough about that; how does this thing sound?

I spent part of an evening crooning and playing bass badly in my basement — can you tell I miss karaoke nights? — and came away mostly impressed with the Tula as a mobile recorder. Unlike our managing editor Terrence O’Brien, I’ve never really recorded myself playing anything before, so you could probably do without my less-than-professional opinion. Still, on the whole? Not bad at all, though I’m sure not doing the Tula’s Burr Brown op amps justice.

To me at least, the Tula makes much more sense as a proper production tool. For one, the Tula also plays nice with TRRS lavalier mics like the one I wear when I shoot the to-camera bits of our review videos. I haven’t been able to justify buying the sort of fancy wireless lav mic we used to use when shooting hands-on videos at briefing sites, but knowing I could run my cheapo lav directly into the Tula and sync with camera footage later is something I’m looking forward to trying in the field. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that I haven’t had to recharge this thing yet; Brown says the Tula can record for up to 12 hours with its AI-powered noise canceling on, or up to 17 hours without it.

That noise cancellation, by the way, might be one of the big reasons to splurge on a Tula instead of something like a Zoom H1n. It’s designed to eliminate the low-level ambient sounds that pervade even the quiet rooms in our homes, and it certainly seems to handle those situations well. To really get a feel for how well the noise cancellation works, though, I fired up a hefty electric fan in my basement and started talking:

(Also, I’m a dummy — I meant TOS communicators, not tricorders.)

The Tula also pulls double duty as a USB mic that connects to Macs and PCs, and despite its size, it stacks up favorably to the two other desk mics I use frequently: Blue’s mostly venerable Yeti and the much-better Audio Technica ATR-2100X I use for all our streams. That’s at least partially because of the flexibility it offers — you can toggle the Tula between cardioid and omnidirectional mic modes, either — the former is better for straight talking while the latter is well-suited for in-person group chats.

To get a sense of just how well the Tula stacks up, I did my best impression of an audiobook narrator and read the first lines of a favorite novel into the Tula and the Audio Technica, and the results were surprising:

I should quickly note here that both mics were connected to my work laptop via USB-C and were positioned the same distance away from my face. The Audio Technica mic did a really nice job here, reproducing my voice with even-keeled tones and notable substance in the low end. The Tula, meanwhile, sounded completely different: it in some ways sounds fuller, but I didn’t get nearly as much meat in the low end. That said, how good these samples sound compared to each other depends a lot on what you’re using to listen to them — through a pair of Sony earbuds, the Audio Technica clip sounded better, but the Tula’s rendition felt more satisfying through a MacBook Pro’s speakers. Your mileage may vary, but I’d feel plenty comfortable tucking the Tula into my bag and using it as a portable podcast rig.

The only knock against using the Tula with a computer is its size; it’s ideal for a device meant to travel with you, but the Tula’s is a little too short to capture quality audio if it’s sitting on a desk inches below your mouth. (Brown says the team plans to release a multitude of mounts so you can prop up the Tula properly, but for now, I’ve had to settle for a pile of books.)

While on-the-go audio professionals swear by their Zoom recorders — with good reason — the Tula is charming and competent enough in most scenarios that it could be worth the splurge for the stylish audio nerd. And who knows? The Tula has grown on me so much that I might start using it in our upcoming livestreams.

https://www.engadget.com/tula-usb-c-microphone-portable-recorder-soyuz-noise-cancellation-140048009.html

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Father of the Web Tim Berners-Lee Prepares ‘Do-Over’

Hacker News Father of the Web Tim Berners-Lee Prepares ‘Do-Over’

(Reuters) – Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the British computer scientist who was knighted for inventing the internet navigation system known as the World Wide Web, wants to re-make cyberspace once again.

With a new startup called Inrupt, Berners-Lee aims to fix some of the problems that have handicapped the so-called open web in an age of huge, closed platforms such as Facebook.

Building on ideas developed by an open-source software project called Solid, Inrupt promises a web where people can use a single sign-on for any service and personal data is stored in “pods,” or personal online data stores, controlled by the user.

“People are fed up with the lack of controls, the silos,” said Berners-Lee, co-founder and chief technology officer of Inrupt, in an interview at the Reuters Next conference. This new, updated web, Berners-Lee said, will enable the kind of person-to-person sharing and collaboration that has helped make the big social media services so successful while leaving the user in control.

John Bruce, a veteran technology executive who is CEO of Inrupt, said the company had signed up Britain’s National Health Service, the BBC and the government of Flanders in Belgium as pilot customers, and hoped to announce many more by April.

Inrupt’s investors include Hearst Ventures, Octopus Ventures and Akamai, an internet content delivery firm. Bruce declined to say how much has been raised.

Bruce said the NHS pilot was addressing the long-standing problem of incompatible medical records. With Inrupt, he said, the NHS could give everyone “a holistic presentation of your medical history,” with various doctors and other service providers able to update that record even as it remains in the users control.

A key aim for Inrupt is to get software developers to write programs for the platform. Inrupt, like the original web, is at its core mostly a set of protocols for how machines talk to one another, meaning that specific applications bring it to life.

“The use cases are so broad, it’s like a do-over for the web,” Berners-Lee said.

For more coverage from the Reuters Next conference, please click here here or.

To watch Reuters Next live, visit here

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-tech-bernerslee-interview/father-of-the-web-tim-berners-lee-prepares-do-over-idUSKBN29H1JK

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Adobe Flash is Officially Dead After 25 Years With Content Blocked Starting Today

MacRumors : Mac News and Rumors Adobe Flash is Officially Dead After 25 Years With Content Blocked Starting Today

A few weeks ago, Adobe dropped support for Flash Player and continued to strongly recommend that all users immediately uninstall the browser plugin for security reasons. And starting today, Adobe has gone one step further and blocked Flash content entirely.


When a user attempts to load a Flash game or content in a browser such as Chrome, the content now fails to load and instead displays a small banner that leads to the Flash end-of-life page on Adobe’s website. While this day has long been coming, with many browsers disabling Flash by default years ago, it is officially the end of a 25-year era for Flash, first introduced by Macromedia in 1996 and acquired by Adobe in 2005.

« Since Adobe will no longer be supporting Flash Player after December 31, 2020 and Adobe will block Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning January 12, 2021, Adobe strongly recommends all users immediately uninstall Flash Player to help protect their systems, » the page reads. Adobe has instructions for uninstalling Flash on Mac, but note that Apple removed support for Flash outright in Safari 14 last year.

Adobe first announced its plans to discontinue Flash in 2017. « Open standards such as HTML5, WebGL, and WebAssembly have continually matured over the years and serve as viable alternatives for Flash content, » the company explained.

Adobe does not intend to issue Flash Player updates or security patches any longer, so it is recommended that users uninstall the plugin.

Over the years, Flash had an infamous reputation due to numerous security vulnerabilities that exposed Mac and PC users to malware and other risks, forcing vendors like Microsoft and Apple to work tirelessly to keep up with security fixes.

Apple’s co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs offered his « Thoughts on Flash » in a 2010 open letter, criticizing Adobe’s software for its poor reliability, security, and performance. Jobs also said that Apple « cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers. »

Flash’s discontinuation should not heavily impact most users since many popular browsers have already moved away from the plugin. Additionally, iPhone and iPad users are not affected by the change, as iOS and iPadOS have never supported Flash.

This article, « Adobe Flash is Officially Dead After 25 Years With Content Blocked Starting Today » first appeared on MacRumors.com

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https://www.macrumors.com/2021/01/12/adobe-flash-era-is-officially-over/

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AI controlled a US military aircraft for the first time

The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) AI controlled a US military aircraft for the first time

The U-2 FedLab team spent a month training μZero’s algorithms to work the radar, teaching the AI to spot enemies and watch for danger while interacting with a pilot. The polished ARTUμ was cut off from other subsystems to minimize the risks involved with its decisions.

You won’t see AI take over combat duties for a while, even in tests. An AI-guided dogfighting drone isn’t scheduled to fly until July 2021, and it’s not hard for these systems to be fooled by human ingenuity. As it stands, the Defense Department has been developing AI ethics guidelines that stop short of allowing computers to launch attacks on their own.

Full control isn’t needed for the AI to prove useful, however. Roper saw the AI as helping pilots who might otherwise be overwhelmed by “complex” situations — the technology can assist or even take over some systems. The military could have an edge in battle simply by letting pilots focus on the most pressing issues during a mission.

https://www.engadget.com/ai-controls-us-military-aircraft-142844768.html

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