Vampires, Apple, & Adobe

Five New Pieces Of Art!

I managed to complete five new pieces of art yesterday. All follow up's to my Resting Tiger piece which is currently on promotion here. You can view my new work here. Including my previous work, Tigris, here.

The new works were all completed on an iPad, and they are: Prowling Tiger - Roaring Tiger - White Tiger - Watching Tiger and, Swimming Tiger Best of all, you can not only buy the fine art museum quality stretched canvas prints, you can also by phone cases, throw cushions, greetings cards, duvet covers, and a range of other prints.

PC SALES ARE DOWN

 

PC Sales Are Down
PC Sales Down, according to Gartner...

PC shipments took a battering over the second quarter of 2015' after two of the worlds largest research firms reported the biggest drop in two years. This is not surprising with the increase in demand for tablet technology, and with Apple's true multi tasking coming to the iPad Air 2 in the fall, there is less and less reason to buy a new PC.

Figures recently published by Gartner, indicated that shipments had dropped by 9.5%, year on year, to 68.4million units, whereas IDC, who do not include tablet devices in its numbers indicated that there was an 11.8% drop to 66.1million units.

Windows 10 could in theory, start to improve the short term outlook, although Gartner have also indicated that it doesn't think it will improve the situation or will result in another loss for the year as a whole.

I have been working with developer versions of Windows 10 for a while, it's gradually become more stable, and is similar in function to Windows 7. Unfortunately, this will be the last time we see a release of Windows in its present form, there will be no Windows 11. I'm guessing that the model will flatten into a subscription based service, such as those deployed by Adobe. I would also expect Office 2016 will be the last of the current mould too, an Office 365 model will be the obvious way forward for Microsoft, and as a result, I think we will start seeing a higher demand for cloud based storage, and I wouldn't be too surprised if the likes of Amazon don't start to make bigger moves into this arena.

CHINA

Not the Chinese economy this time, but results of investigations from the estimated cyber attacks whereby Chinese hackers seized information from 4-million US citizens, could actually be closer to 20-million citizens being affected. The cyber attack happened in April this year.

Depending on the source, some news agencies and organisations are reporting that the hack could have affected closer to 25-million US citizens. This larger figure is still an estimation, it hasn't yet been confirmed by OPM, but it potentially increases the damage caused through the attack.

OPM detailed the two-part attack after it occurred earlier this year. Hackers targeted and seized the full name, birth date, home address and Social Security Number (SSN) of 4.2 million current and former federal government employees. The second phase of the theft went after background investigations of federal government employees, as well as the classified security clearances of government officials.

Some stats provided by OPM state that the attack claimed the SSNs of approximately 1.8 million "non-applicant" citizens who weren't part of a background investigation, but are "primarily spouses or cohabitants of applicants." At the time of writing, the estimated number of hacked non-applicants hasn't increased, but it very well could.

These statistics give plenty of reasons to worry if you're a government official or if you live with one or even know one, but losing this information isn't what has the government most upset.

ABC stated that, "US intelligence and law enforcement officials are particularly concerned over the theft of forms known as SF-86s that current and prospective federal workers, including certain military personnel, and even contractors submit for security clearances."

In this day and age, cyber security is becoming as increasingly used as traditional warfare. The battle for intelligence has never been bigger. Companies will need to ensure, even by yesterday, that they're prepared for these types of attack not just in the future, but possibly as soon as tomorrow, or within the next hour. It's nigh on impossible to detect a potential cyber attack until it starts to happen. By this time, it's usually far too late if you're ill prepared.

APPLE - Times are changing

Apple Mac
Apple's Watch Sales Are Lower Than Expected...

Apple is generally synonymous with success. Apart from the odd setback such as mobile me, or casting Ashton Kutcher in the role of Jobs, oh, and not forgetting Apple Maps, but a Palo Alto research company claims that Apple Watch sales have been a disaster.

Has Apple Maps become better? In my experience it still has a way to go. I was trying to find an alternative route in London a few weeks ago to a meeting. The result of using Apple Maps was a £15 cab ride, after it telling me to walk 3-miles in the opposite direction. In the end, a London cabbie saved the day after laughing out loudly that he was my saviour. He was, and he probably tweeted, posted and for all I know, could have uploaded my red face to YouTube. This was the day before I received a broken rib from using the lift at the train station. That's probably on YouTube too, people gathered and called others over to see me trapped between two lift doors. I swear they all had a camera phone.

Using e-receipts from 2.5 million online shoppers in the US, the analytics company Slice Intelligence has tweeted a graph estimating that the number of Apple Watch sales has plummeted to under 5,000 units per day. A stark comparison from the 30,000 to 35,000 units per day the company was pushing in the weeks after its launch.

At the ReCode conference in May, Apple's senior vice president of operations, Jeff Williams, said that the Apple watch was selling "a lot, but not enough.

ADOBE KILLER?

Serif is best known for its budget Windows image editing solutions that tend to be lighter versions of photoshop lite. Its brand new Affinity range is designed solely for Apple Mac, and aimed squarely at professional users.

Affinity Designer, Serif's brand new professional graphic design and illustration tool, was the first Affinity product to arrive in October 2014, and scored a Mac App Store 'Best of 2014' in the process. Affinity Photo, announced in February 2015, uses the same core processing engine and aims to do for image-editing what Affinity Designer has done for illustration and vector art.

Professional features

Many so-called Photoshop rivals are actually much more basic consumer-orientated editing tools aimed at people who don't really know any better, but Affinity Photo is the real deal. It offers key tools and technologies essential in a professional environment, including 16-bit editing, RGB, CMYK and LAB color modes, ICC colour profiles and RAW development. It can also import and export Photoshop PSD files.

Its layout and operation is similar to Photoshop's, with a clean and simple vertical tools panel on the left of the screen and stacked (detachable) palettes on the right. It takes some acclimatization after Photoshop, but the basic principles of layers, masks, selections and adjustment tools are the same. The difference lies in Serif's processing engine, which has been designed to exploit the full potential of today's hardware with fast, real-time adjustments that show changes 'live' as you work so that you don't have to close a dialog first or wait for the image to redraw between fine adjustments.

The low price may pitch Affinity Photo in with a whole bunch of other Photoshop competitors, but it's a very different, much more powerful product that just happens to be cheap. Affinity Photo is being sold on the Mac App Store at an introductory price of £29.99/US$39.99 until July 23rd 2015. After that it reverts to its regular price of £39.99/US$49.99.

Its introductory price makes it less than one third of the cost of a one-year subscription to Adobe's Photography Plan. The Adobe plan does include both Photoshop and Lightroom, but not every photographer will want to use both, and many still resist the idea of paying subscriptions to 'rent' an application. Affinity Photo is an alternative that combines the latest software technology with a classic one-off payment model. This is something that needs to be embraced in this micro payment, digital age, and my only hope is that there is a version in the works for the iPad.

STAY WITHIN THE LINES

Colouring Book
Adult Colouring Book Sales On The Rise

There's nothing I like more than retreating into a blanket fort with a colouring book and crayons. Ok, well maybe retreating into a dark room with my iPad and a stylus. Same thing.

Colouring books are usually the tools of harangued parents, a tool to provide a few minutes of "me time", whilst keeping little Johnny amused. Sir Quentin Blake has declared that he is completely against colouring books as a way of teaching children to draw, claiming that they limit creativity.

The 82-year-old illustrators criticism is undoubtedly unwelcome news for adults. Many adults are building the market for adult colouring books, and there are a few apps on Apple's App Store, and Google Play, which virtually let you colour between the lines of some complex patterns. Not quite as good as sitting down with a packet of Crayola Crayons, but none the less, relaxing.

British women have recently caught on to the trend, with Waterstones reporting a 300 per cent annual increase in grown-up colouring books. The sudden interest has been attributed in part to the current vogue for mindfulness, a meditation which, at its simples, involves focusing completely on what you’re doing, including not going over thick black lines on a drawing. Mindfulness is certainly an emerging trend, and despite what Sir Quentin say's, I'm reasonably confident that it won't change my feelings for a packet of crayons and a black and white colouring book.

SANDCASTLE'S

Sandcastle
My feeble attempt, although I didn't have a digger!

If you're taking a beach vacation this year, or you're lucky enough to live by the ocean, you might want to start building a record breaking sandcastle.

A sand structure (not certain if this is a politically correct way of saying sandcastle) measuring some 41 feet and 3.67 inches tall has been built in Rio De Janeiro, using 20-truck loads of Brazilian sand. Over the course of fifteen days, Caterpillar excavators and earth movers hauled sand and water. This resulted in a remarkable feat of ocean architecture. This surpassed the previous Guiness world record by over three feet.

But don’t think the former world record holder will go down without a fight, ice and sand sculptor and 2013 champion Ed Jarrett has already broken ground on his latest attempt to make sandcastle history. He’s building "Castle Laurita" in New Egypt, New Jersey, and he's doing so entirely by hand.

NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL WEIRD

Vampires
It's just not right!

Don't get spooked, Vampires are real. They apparently don't wear a cape, they're people who have normal jobs, but the difference between you, me, and them, is that they consume blood for energy, because, well, it's their thing.

Occasionally they need help from therapists, only occasionally mind. They are generally reluctant to reveal their identities, probably because if they do, those normal jobs will go, and the rest of the world would think they're not too tightly wrapped. Understandably so, given the history of vampires, and the Hollywood makeovers. If you're one of them, seriously, don't come anywhere near me. I eat garlic bread, and I can fashion a sharp stick in a flash.

But real vampires aren’t what many think. D.J. Williams of Idaho State University has studied them for years. "They are successful, ordinary people," he told Laura Zuckerman, writing for Reuters. Many self-identified vampires find each other online. Williams teamed up with Emily E. Prior, of College of the Canyons, to write the new paper.

They explain that while some people who identify as vampires do participate in role-playing games or enjoy wearing specific clothing (think black and cloak-like), others are vampires simply in their belief that they need to feed off the energy or blood of others. Most of the time, consensual donors provide the blood if needed. The researchers write:

Real vampires report that without occasional feeding, their overall health and well-being suffer. Hence, the term vampirism is used to describe the feeding process. Real vampires may or may not find interest in mythical vampires or pop culture vampirism; these seem to be irrelevant to their self-identified vampirism. Yes, in other words, complete nut jobs.

The team’s work shows that while this group spans the gamut of religious views, races and ethnicities, sexual and gender identities, age and occupation, many report feeling marginalized. These vampires also reported feelings of fear about disclosing their identity as vampires. I mean what do they expect? I don't think this is normal behaviour, and I really ain't a therapist, or trained in this level of idiocy. Yesterday I was clearly right when I suggested taking the warning labels off all bottles, and then let nature sort it out.

The researchers write:

People with real vampire identities, at least those within this sample, are fearful that clinicians will label them as being psychopathological in some way (i.e., delusional, immature, unstable), perhaps wicked, and not competent to perform in typical social roles, such as parenting. Again, I have a label for them, but I'm edging my bets in case I meet one.

Williams and Prior end with a call for clinicians and mental health professionals to listen and learn from real vampires, just as they should for all alternative identities. In the case of individuals who seem to function in society normally, as the people in their survey do, effective service includes building trust and listening. I'm afraid I must have lead a sheltered life, this to me seems like a whole new level of daft.

"The real vampire community seems to be a conscientious and ethical one," Williams says, according to Reuters. "Most vampires believe they were born that way; they don’t choose this." Well, at least they're allegedly ethical I suppose.

So this week has been quite a week for news. What with email a tree, and now Vampires, it will be wonderful to see how this one can be topped. If you have heard a new level of crazy news this week, please leave a comment! I can't be the only one who finds this stuff!

 

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