Stark Insider Arts, Film, Tech & Lifestyle Wed, 25 Nov 2020 01:52:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What’s Happening San Francisco: Virtual fireside stories to haunt the holidays Mon, 23 Nov 2020 19:11:28 +0000 Who is the mysterious ghost bride of California Street and what is she looking for?

By Monica Turner - Stark Insider.

Christmas and the holidays may be different this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the grand tradition of the fireside chat. Virtually, at least.

San Francisco Ghost House today announced plans to host virtual fireside stories with  guide Christian Cagigal (who apparently knows where all the bodies are buried…)

Tickets are $25 per device. You can learn more about San Francisco Ghost Hunt — founded in 1998 — by visiting

Per the email PR release:

“Ever since Ebenezer Scrooge was visited by three Christmas ghosts, the holiday season has been a perfect time to indulge in spooky stories. Let San Francisco Ghost Hunt be your go-to (virtual) destination for tales of uneasy spirits and haunted mansions. Grab a blanket and a candle, fire up your browser, and join the frightening fun.

The whole family can join this guided tour of some of San Francisco’s creepiest corners—including destinations not visited on the physical Ghost Hunt. Who is the mysterious ghost bride of California Street and what is she looking for? Would you stay overnight in San Francisco’s oldest, and certifiably haunted hotel? What spirits stalk the city streets, and what should you do if you “catch” one on the hunt? Give yourself the gift of a ghostly getaway from anywhere in the country, and invite your friends and family to join you online, for some good, old-fashioned ghost stories!

Your guide, Christian Cagigal—master of the macabre—knows where all the literal bodies are buried.
Your guide, Christian Cagigal—master of the macabre—knows where all the literal bodies are buried.

Your guide, Christian Cagigal—master of the macabre—knows where all the literal bodies are buried. Instrumental in the creation of the San Francisco Ghost Hunt in 1998, Cagigal has been the sole proprietor and resident raconteur since 2016. An award-winning, bicoastal magician and theatre artist, Cagigal’s unique brand of combining the personal with the paranormal gives the San Francisco Ghost Hunt an intimate insider’s view of San Francisco’s most misunderstood residents—the unquiet dead.”

San Francisco Ghost Hunt: Virtual Fireside Stories runs November 25 through December 30, 2020. And, of course, this year they’re accessible to anyone any where in the world. Happy holidays!

By Monica Turner - Stark Insider.

Your guide, Christian Cagigal—master of the macabre—knows where all the literal bodies are buried. Your guide, Christian Cagigal—master of the macabre—knows where all the literal bodies are buried.
Canon to release 96MP high-resolution R5 style mirrorless camera (Report) Wed, 18 Nov 2020 20:12:53 +0000 2021 Canon roadmap paints a promising future for RF lens mount cameras.

By Clinton Stark - Stark Insider.

Canon is reportedly ready to release seven (!) EOS RF lens mount cameras in 2021. If that comes to pass consider that achievement impressive (most impressive).

Among the new models insiders say to expect a high-resolution 96MP model, essentially an up-leveled version of the new Canon EOS R5, and a likely competitor for other mega-pixel count cameras on the market including the well-reviewed Sony Alpha a7 IV (61MP).

If true, this new 96MP R5 would take the number two spot on the highest resolution mirrorless camera ranking list — just below the 102MP medium format Fujifilm GFX 100. The Fujifilm costs a cool $10K USD so it will be interesting to see where Canon prices this new version. Given that the R5 currently sells for $3,899 USD, if you’re lucky enough to (a) have a large budget and (b) can find it in stock, then we’d realistically expect it to slot in somewhere between the R5 and GFX 100. A guess on the price? I’d go with $4,999.

Canon EOS 96MP image sensor – potential target market

The 96MP R5+ should be appealing for those that need as many pixels as possible to capture detail. Landscape and wildlife photographers would be likely prospects. As would architectural shooters and those who need to blow up images and artwork for large posters and other printouts. Image quality in these situations is obviously paramount.

In any case given how popular the new RF mount and R-series cameras have been so far (EOS R, RP, R5 full frame mirrorless cameras) it wouldn’t be surprising if Canon quickly takes the mirrorless crown.

Although we can expect 4K video (maybe even 8K as found on the R5) I’d expect a R5+ not to be ideal for video shooters. Such is the case too with the high resolution Sony Alpha a7 IV. High end photographers tend to gravitate towards mirrorless models featuring high pixel counts as it affords them lots of creative latitude during post production in editing apps.

Meantime us video first shooters are content with a lower MP count as it means things like: better low light performance; less rolling shutter (Hello Jello); and typically better battery life as well.

Canon Roadmap 2021?

Canon Cinema EOS C70 Camera (RF Lens Mount)

According to Canon Rumors, other cameras featured in the Canon 2021 roadmap include:

  • A replacement for the entry level Canon EOS RP
  • Another model to slot in between the RP ($999) and EOS R6 ($2,499)
  • An APS-C sensor RF mount camera body
  • A “flagship” RF mount camera body to perhaps coincide with the Tokyo Olympics
  • Cinema EOS C50 and C90 cameras to join new Cinema EOS C70

Phew. Holy cow. Keep in mind this is conjecture, but more often than not these rumor sites have been consistently accurate, especially, for some reason, when it comes to Canon.

Then again my cynical side might suggest this slow “leak” drama with repeating cycles of feature and model hints and leaks is in reality a neo 21st century marketing strategy.

Stark Insider - Camera news, reviews, videosCanon RF-mount Camera History

Canon RF-mount camera history timeline

A quick recap of new RF-based full-frame mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras made by Canon.

Canon EOS R (October 2018)

  • 30MP
  • Canon’s first RF mirrorless camera
  • $2,299 USD

Canon EOS RP (March 2019)

  • 26MP
  • Entry level full-frame
  • $1,299 USD

Canon EOS R5 (July 2020)

  • 45MP
  • Flagship RF full-frame (mirrorless update of the 5D Mark IV)
  • $3,899 USD

Canon EOS R6 (July 2020)

  • 20MP
  • Mid-range RF model
  • $2,499 USD

Regardless, if Canon successfully pulls off this barrage I think it would once and for all put to rest the assertation that the company has no interest in the mirrorless camera market. And also we could say that the (relatively) new RF mount is here to stay and is off to a strong start.

But… the smartphone and rise of computational computing…

Meanwhile we’ve been writing about the advent of the smartphone camera for the last few years now, and, yet, camera companies continue to flood the market with all sorts of new models at all sorts of price points.

As we’ve seen with the latest iPhone 12 announcement and presentation computational photography — that is, software-based processing and machine learning — pose the biggest threat to the likes of Canon, Nikon, Sony and Panasonic. And it’s an area where traditional camera manufacturers need to improve. Software is clearly not their forte.

On the other hand Silicon Valley-based tech giants like Apple, Google and others have deep troves of knowledge when it comes to using AI and other technology to dramatically alter products and markets, along with consumers’ expectations of how things like ease-of-use and user experience are now essential must-haves.

Camera user interfaces need improvement and better design philosophy

One example of this disconnect: camera user interfaces.

Most are just… terrible.

By today’s smartphone standards these UIs, which are now typically accessed on an interchangeable lens camera via a touch-based LCD screen on the back, look like something out of the 1990s. Just endless lists of menus, and daunting icons and often cryptic descriptions as a decidedly uninvited bonus. Forget about typography, whitespace and elegant layouts. Hint: look to Blackmagic Design for superb work in that regard. Obviously there’s room for improvement here.

ALSO SEE: Top 10: Best DSLR & Mirrorless Cameras (November 2020)

Whether it’s the Canon EOS R5 or Sony Alpha a7 S III or Panasonic Lumix S5 — all new models for 2020 — the user interfaces are just not up to par. This is where these companies could benefit from smartphone-like or app-centric thinking.

Unfortunately for them this is a new design philosophy. Ages of camera tradition hangs in the balance. But unless Japan embraces computational computing and principles of modern-day interface design these new cameras, great as they are likely to be, will reach fewer and fewer people in the coming years.

However the camera market plays out in the coming years there’s no denying Canon has stepped up to the plate in a big way.

By Clinton Stark - Stark Insider.

Canon Cinema EOS C70 Camera (RF Lens Mount) Stark Insider – Camera news, reviews, videos Canon RF-mount camera history timeline
Peloton adds Bike Bootcamp as an official discipline, offers live classes Mon, 16 Nov 2020 18:14:27 +0000 A more gym-like experience for the home.

By Clinton Stark - Stark Insider.

Fans of the Peloton bike finally got their collective wish when the home fitness company sprinkled in a few “Bike Bootcamp” classes earlier this year. Previously the workouts which feature a mix of time on the bike alternating with time on the mat next to the bike working with weights were only available to Treat customers.

Now Peloton is taking it even further.

In addition to being in the on-demand library Bike Bootcamps will also be offered live — a popular social option given shelter-in-place edicts and the inability to workout at the local gym. Given their popularity it’s no surprise that the company has also announced that “Bike Bootcamp will now be an official Peloton discipline.”

Indeed, here’s the new logo you’ll find on the Bike/Bike+ and Peloton Digital App to denote the Bike Bootcamp section:

Peloton Bike Bootcamp live classes now available

Live Bootcamp Classes start this week. Today, in fact. Jess Sims leads an all levels 60 minute class 11/16 2PM PT/5PM ET. Later it’s Robin Arzón with an intermediate 45 minute Bootcamp 11/18 8:30AM PT/11:30AM PT, with Cody Rigsby closing out the week with an intermediate 30 minute class 11/20 4:30AM (!) PT/7:30AM ET.

Stark Insider Take

First Bike Bootcamp live classes by Peloton

Not the biggest news in the world, but a small indication of where home fitness might be headed. Bootcamps are similar to interval training classes. I used to take “Fire Classes” at our local gym which featured an hour-long mix of rowing, weight station cardio and elliptical. We’d rotate in intervals that differed every class — 4 min, 6 min, 12 min, etc. — coached by our instructor with blaring music to get us pumped. The variety among the stations kept things interesting. And because each type of exercise worked out different muscle groups in unique ways the overall experience felt balanced and effective. The sweat was real.

While a class like Bike Bootcamp — or something similar with just cycling and strength training combined over a short period of time — won’t quite match a large gym environment with large workout spaces and equipment, it does afford a different in-home experience. While I’ve only taken one Bootcamp on our Peloton bike I was instantly sold. When you jump off the bike to hit the mat you need to take a minute to switch shoes, from cycling to running/normal, and it’s that in between moment where things are momentarily zen. You can reflect on the intervals you just finished on the bike, (try to) catch your breath, and look forward to some fun mat work. All the time the instructor is chatting away. Just like you’d experience at the gym alongside other actual human beings.

By Clinton Stark - Stark Insider.

Peloton Bike Bootcamp live classes now available First Bike Bootcamp live classes by Peloton
Upgrading my MacBook Pro to Big Sur didn’t go so well, or really at all (“Installation Failed”) Thu, 12 Nov 2020 21:41:19 +0000 Christmas is ruined.

By Clinton Stark - Stark Insider.

UPDATE: 6:01pm PT: All’s well that ends well. After re-trying throughout the afternoon, Apple finally got it right and the Big Sur download finally worked on my MacBook Pro. And installation proceeded as expected. Demand was likely sky high. Again, I’m definitely not here to complain… though I do wish I didn’t have to use-up unnecessary (capped) internet bandwidth to repeatedly download the same file. I know. The horror.

macOS Big Sur download
macOS Big Sur installation 15 minutes MacBook Pro

UPDATE 3:40pm PT: Apple System Status has marked this issue as resolved (green). Big Sur download still not working, at least for me on a MacBook Pro.

TL;DR – Hold tight. Apple has not yet announced a solution for Big Sur failed install. But the Apple System Status panel does indicate an “issue” and is marked yellow.

Well so much for that. Like a lot of people out there I was excited to give my four-year-old MacBook Pro a fresh coat of paint. Today was the day that Apple made Big Sur (macOS 11) available for download.

Later in the morning here in Silicon Valley I saw the upgrade notification and jumped to my feet, plugged in the Mac, and clicked Upgrade Now.

The initial upgrade time was estimated at 9 days. Busy servers, I thought. No big deal. And keep in mind that the Big Sur upgrade file is about 12GB so naturally it will take some time to download.

Indeed that time estimate number did fall, eventually down to about six hours. No rush. There’s much going on in the world. A software update is the least of our worries.

In any case after a few hours I received the dreaded failed installation message. Worse still, after a reboot my MacBook seemed to be not operating properly. Opening System Preferences did nothing. Google Chrome wouldn’t launch, etc. After a few more reboots things did appear to slowly return to normal. Though I was still on Catalina, at least I had a functioning laptop.

Apple macOS Big Sur installation failed MacBook Pro

Over on Twitter a quick search for Big Sur revealed I was not alone. In a way that was bit of good news, as it meant there was likely nothing wrong with my Mac, but rather an issue on Apple’s side.

Then, I Googled a bit. Most solution links pointed to Apple Support — and none of those web pages were loading. Apple, it would seem, is being overloaded with customers who are experiencing the Big Sur Big Fail. For now I suspect the only resolution is to wait for Apple tech to sort this out.

In addition you can see on the Apple System Status web site that there is, indeed, an issue:

Apple System Status:

macOS Software Update – Issue
Today, 10:00 AM – ongoing
Some users are affected

Users may not be able to download macOS Software Updates on Mac computers. The issue is currently being investigated.

Too bad. I love the direction Apple is taking with the feature set in Big Sur. The UI is looking more like an iPhone, with lots of slick polish, typography and control center style options.

ALSO SEE: Trendspotting: Apple ARM-powered (M1) MacBooks usher in new era of integrated mobile and desktop computing

Part of me wonders if Apple didn’t inadvertently make the case for Google Chromebooks.

Eventually the update will work itself out. Given it’s free and will potentially breathe new life into my otherwise superb 2016 MacBook Pro I’m not really concerned or one to call/contact Apple support. However, given how much marketing and hype went into the Big Sur release I’m guessing there’s going to be more than a few urgent, frantic Zoom calls among CEO Tim Cook and the team. In 2020 this is most decidedly un-Apple like.

Patience. This too shall pass.

By Clinton Stark - Stark Insider.

macOS Big Sur download macOS Big Sur installation 15 minutes MacBook Pro Apple macOS Big Sur installation failed MacBook Pro Apple-Big-Sur-macos-update-system-status-issue
Home Fitness: Beyoncé, Peloton and the power of co-branding deals Tue, 10 Nov 2020 19:53:11 +0000 Beyoncé is joining forces with bike and treadmill maker Peloton Interactive Inc (NASDAQ: PTON) and lending her powerful brand name to a new artist series. The Beyoncé workouts, which will feature her music, already begun yesterday, Monday, November 9, 2020 and will extend through to Tuesday, November 14. All told the seven class workout set […]

By Clinton Stark - Stark Insider.

Beyoncé is joining forces with bike and treadmill maker Peloton Interactive Inc (NASDAQ: PTON) and lending her powerful brand name to a new artist series.

The Beyoncé workouts, which will feature her music, already begun yesterday, Monday, November 9, 2020 and will extend through to Tuesday, November 14. All told the seven class workout set includes 2 cycling classes, 1 Yoga Flow class, 1 meditation, 1 outdoor run, 1 full-body strength, and 1 bootcamp (for Tread owners). In addition the famous singer-songwriter will curate future classes.

Peloton subscribers, both those who use the digital app and those who use the Bike/Bike+/Tread/Tread+ will be able to also access all the classes on-demand after the live workout has been recorded and posted.

In the launch email Peloton called the new Beyoncé artist series “our most epic collaboration ever” and had this to say:

“The launch of our collaboration with Beyoncé, our most requested artist by more than 3.6 million Members, commemorates Homecoming season, an annual fall celebration for students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that honors tradition and legacy. As most Homecoming festivities shifted to virtual celebrations due to the global pandemic, we worked closely with Beyoncé to create a series of themed workout experiences to help extend Homecoming to Peloton Members via classes across multiple fitness categories, including indoor cycling, running, strength, bootcamp, yoga and meditation.”

In addition Peloton announced it will be gifting two-year Peloton digital memberships to students at 10 HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).

As an aside, whoever designed that “X” logo, the featured image as seen at the top of this article, featuring the Peloton and Beyoncé wordmarks absolutely nailed it.

Stark Insider Take: Almost nothing can top the Power of Celebrity to draw attention

Beyoncé and Peloton partnership - Artist Series workouts - Announcement

Clearly this is the future for fitness companies who want to broaden their appeal with customers and potential customers. Celebrities, be they famous musicians, actors, writers or athletes carry along with them massive fanbases. So if Beyoncé says she loves Peloton and partners with the company to allow then to use her image and music than that endorsement automatically brings attention. Nothing necessarily new here. Celebrity endorsements have been around since, well, since the beginning of the idea of pop culture and the celebrity. I guess one difference here is that there’s a sense of engagement with Peloton customers and Beyoncé fans — that is you interact by working out to the music and have the opportunity to do so across seven different classes. That’s quite different than a traditional promotion — say a TV commercial — where an actor holds a bottle of Ketchup and tells us he loves it.

According to CNBC Beyoncé’s is the “most requested artist by Peloton’s community of more than 3.6 million members.” So this partnership aligns with what customers are interested in seeing from Peloton classes.

Further, this is a multiyear deal. Peloton says Beyoncé will curate future classes.

This isn’t the first time Peloton has promoted a celebrity musician or band. There are several “Artist Series” workouts. In addition Peloton successfully partnered with ESPN for an All-Star race earlier this year that was widely watched, and now available on-demand.

In any case, while some Peloton instructors themselves have successfully built-up loyal followings on social media (especially on Instagram and Facebook) there’s nothing like the power of the celebrity brand and its ability to bring attention to a cause, or, in this case, a fitness brand.

By Clinton Stark - Stark Insider.

Beyoncé and Peloton partnership – Artist Series workouts – Announcement