Cinema 4D Studio – the perfect application for professional 3D artists

cinema_4d_iconCreativity is an awesome outlet. Some of my most relaxing times are when I am busy creating something, be that writing, drawing, sculpting or painting. As computers are one of my most favorite things, being able to combine my creativity with my love of technology is pretty cool. Its for this reason that I really like Cinema 4D Studio. It’s a graphics tool for your Windows PC.

Cinema 4D Studio is a great tool for professional, 3D artists. If you want to create advanced 3D graphics but need a helping hand, then this may be a great choice for you. Cinema 4D Studio adds advanced character tools, hair, a physics engine and an unlimited client network for rendering. The results can be stunning. Cinema 4D Studio can tackle just about any project you throw at.

Cinema 4D Studio’s character tools make it easy to create character rigs and advanced character animations. Adding hair or fur to characters is fast and simple. You can easily grow, comb, style and animate hair and fur easily. The physics engine makes it simple to perform complex collisions and interaction between any number of objects.

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One of the app’s best features is Network rendering. As any graphic artist knows, rendering can take quite a long time, even on the more advanced and more powerful computers available today. Network rendering allows you to take advantage of all computers on your network and can help render your animations faster.

While Cinema 4D Studio is designed for advanced 3D, the extra tools found in it are still user-friendly and intuitive. Generating advanced 3D affects such as hair is pretty easy and fast. The app does much of the work for you. For example, hair will automatically swoosh and sway as you move your character around; and making thousands of objects collide with each other only takes a few mouse clicks to set up.

While the app may be great, its completely out the consumer price range at nearly $4000 USD, as of this writing. Unless you’re a serious graphic artist, or unless this app is something that your company can purchase for you, this isn’t something a regular user will purchase.

Download Cinema 4D Studio

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Microsoft plan to funnel people towards their newer products

Microsoft Merges Windows Live Messenger with Skype and Announces that Support for Windows XP ends in 365 days

On Monday 8th April Microsoft announced that support for Windows XP will stop in exactly 365 days. This announcement came at the same time Microsoft merged Windows Live Messenger with Skype. These recent announcements are part of the new strategy Microsoft is intending to follow in order to channel customers to their latest products including Windows 8.

These updates from Microsoft are certain to affect many businesses and home users. Following we look at how Microsoft plan to funnel people towards their newer products and what you need to do to keep updated.

Windows-XP-Skype

RIP Microsoft XP

Windows XP was originally launched in October, 2001. From April 8, 2014 Microsoft will officially cut off corporate support for Windows XP SP3, as well as Microsoft Office 2003. Once support is cut, Windows XP will no longer receive any new security, hot fixes and most importantly support.

Microsoft announced that come April 2014 any customers using XP will be doing so at their “own risk,” and that failing to update would likely be costly later on down the line. It is estimated that 40 percent of all PCs still run XP, so these changes are set to affect a large amount of customers.

Cutting off support is likely to have a much bigger impact on businesses, than it is on home users. Whereas home users can simply upgrade with little hassle, upgrading for businesses is much more complicated. Microsoft warned businesses that is can regularly take 18 to 32 months to go through the entire deployment phase for new operating systems.

The announcements have put major strains on many businesses still using XP. Many are simply refusing to upgrade to Windows 7, as there is no simple upgrade path. These changes are likely to cause major upset for many a business.

If it wasn’t obvious, Microsoft is using this opportunity to persuade customers to upgrade to Windows 8 stating that it offers cutting edge technology with a stronger interface.

For smaller companies, with one or several computers, updating their operating system will be a breeze. The problems occur for larger companies and if they’ve failed to select a new operating system by now, it may already be too late to beat the XP deadline.

Windows Live Messenger Merges With Skype

In October 2011 Microsoft acquired Skype. Ever since then, they have been working to replace WLM. And on the 8th April 2013, Windows Live Messenger, known to most as MSN Messenger, was finally retired – ending 14 years of loyal service.

The last few years has seen a rapid decline in the amount of people using Windows Live Messenger, mainly due to the success of Facebook’s instant messaging service. Microsoft will now focus on increasing the success of Skype.

If you still have an account with Windows Live Messenger, you can still use those same details to log in to Skype. Once logged in you’ll find a list of all your old contacts, which can then be merged into Skype.

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Industry In-Fighting is Really Starting to Tick Me Off

Enough already, will ya?!  I want interoperability!

apple_1351488311_540x540Attention computer vendors everywhere – I use your software tool it because it solves problems for me, not because it makes you money, or it looks cool, or any other reason other than it solves problems for me. So when you either don’t allow something to work OR if you reduce functionality – i.e. make something stop working that was previously working before, all you’re going to do in the long term is lose a customer.

Case in point – the latest update to the Mail, Calendar and People ModernUI app in Windows 8 removes Google Accounts from its syncable and supported accounts list. This is driving me nuts, because I spent a good 3 years in the Android camp before switching back to my iPhone. Unfortunately for me, my “master PIM account” is my Google Apps account.

This is a problem in an iPhone world because Google and Apple don’t’ work and play well together as they used to do. Both companies are busy having a “smartphone measuring” contest, trying to figure out whose smartphone is bigger, better, faster, etc.

I’ve got the same problem with Google and Microsoft over in the Windows 8 camp. Google recently removed Exchange ActiveSync support from its Google Apps suite. If you’re using a non-Google tool to sync PIM data, you may soon be out of luck. What this means is that if you have an Android Smartphone and a Windows 8 tablet, you can’t sync your contacts from Gmail to your Windows 8 tablet with Windows 8 Mail. An email program without your contacts in it is useless.

If you have an iPhone, you might be able to use CardDAV and CalDAV, but…oh yeah… Windows 8 doesn’t support those either. Apple is also dropping support of EAS from Mail.

So what we have here is a RETURN to the non-interoperability of 2007-2009 before both Google and Apple announced support for Exchange ActiveSync and everybody worked and played nice together.

From a vendor perspective, this is Google, Apple and Microsoft trying to lock users into their paid services. From a consumer perspective, this is a giant pain in the @$$.

Now, more than ever, until everyone decides that it’s politically correct to work and play well together, consumers must pick and choose their tools wisely. If you want all of your information to sync where and when you want it, you’re likely going to have to choose compatible tools.

In other words, due to the fact that it’s becoming increasingly harder to use off-vendor devices and service together, you aren’t going to be able to mix and match devices any longer. If you want to use an iPhone, you’re likely going to have to work with a Mac computer and an iPad tablet. If you have an Android smartphone, you’re going to be tied to Gmail/Google Apps and an Android tablet. Same thing for Windows Phone and Windows 8/RT.

All of these vendors have software and SaaS products to sell you and they want to insure that they hook you, and keep you in THEIR camp, in THEIR ecosystem. This is going to do nothing more than widen the gaps between vendors, their services and tools and firmly draw lines in the sand that users are going to have to cross.

This is going to create some very interesting opportunities for 3rd party developers who might be able to setup sync and consolidation services – think The Missing Sync and Plaxo – but both of those are having their own issues and problems to get around. All of this may do nothing more than narrow and eliminate choices for users as vendors like MS, Google and Apple try to lock them in. it’s going to be an interesting couple of years before this is all worked out. We may end up back with interoperability, but don’t think that it’s going to be for free… if it comes back, users are going to pay subscription and licensing fees.

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Windows 8 Adoption is Slower than Adoption of Windows Vista Was

If this isn’t a “V8 Moment,” I have no idea what might be…

There’s been a bunch of articles hitting the tech rags lately indicating that the current rate of Windows 8 adoption is slower than the adoption rate of Windows Vista was at about the same point in its release cycle.

Well, duh.

If that isn’t a “V8 Moment” (think of the V8 vegetable juice commercials, where people smacked there head out of “stupidity…”) I have no idea what is.

The major reasons why Windows Vista failed were:

  • The interface – Microsoft moved our cheese
  • XP adoption was still strong
  • Enterprise adoption didn’t take off

Unfortunately for Microsoft and Windows 8, the conditions the market is seeing with Windows 8 is either the same or much worse than with Windows Vista. I’m going to break it down, very quickly.

Graph Source: Net Applications via ComputerWorld

The Interface
Unfortunately for Microsoft, I think there’s more negative press with ModernUI than with the Vista version of Aero. The biggest problem with Vista was that MS changed where people had to go to get to most of the same functions they were using in Windows XP. What they were doing when they finally FOUND what they were looking for didn’t really change, though there were some updates to process, method, etc.

Unfortunately for Vista, the changes were considered so drastic that its consumer adoption tanked. People didn’t want to have to relearn what they were doing and those that were buying new PC’s decided to use Windows XP instead. Which brings us to the next point…

Previous OS Adoption
At the time that Windows Vista was introduced, Windows XP was still in very wide use. It was stable. People were comfortable and familiar with it, and most importantly, were productive at home and at work.

Enterprise Adoption
This was a foregone conclusion – enterprise adoption of Windows Vista wasn’t going to happen quickly, even under the best of conditions. IT Admins and managers don’t introduce unknowns onto their networks. They just don’t. They want tried, tested and reliable equipment, software and tools they know won’t fail or cause problems. At the time, Vista wasn’t it, and wouldn’t be for at least a year or more.

The problem with Vista’s enterprise adoption was that people weren’t willing to wait to learn where Microsoft had moved everything. Vista failed to gain any traction because it was considered too different in a sea of Windows versions that had evolved and moved users towards greater productivity.

Now let’s take a look at Windows 8. The interface is a more drastic change from Windows 7 to Windows 8 than Windows Vista was from XP, Windows 8′s touch interface also doesn’t work well with non-touch hardware.

Windows 7 is still very popular and very usable on laptops, desktops, slate styled tablets and ultrabooks. Windows 7 also hasn’t made it into the enterprise in many cases because of the upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 7. You either need to jump to Vista (and pay a license fee to do so) or wipe the PC and install from scratch. Enterprise adoption slows to a crawl there due to the amount of heavy lifting and/or large cost to upgrade from XP (where many companies still reside) to Windows 7 or even Windows 8.

So what’s the bottom line here? Please don’t be surprised that Windows 8 adoption is slow. Please also don’t be surprised when Windows 8.x (including Windows Blue) is declared a flop. I am seeing a great deal of press on all of this and no one should be surprised.

Windows RT should be the tablet OS and Windows 8 should be a desktop/laptop OS. The Live Tile interface on the desktop doesn’t work, and Microsoft is being VERY stubborn about admitting it made yet another mistake.

My biggest fear is that I’m right about all of this. My biggest fear is that Microsoft takes too long to make changes to address the way its users work and it waits itself right out of business. I’m not saying it’s GOING to happen… I’m saying I’m afraid it might if someone at Microsoft doesn’t take control of how the ship is spiraling out of control…

If I were a shareholder, I’d be demanding changes be made…quickly. If I’m wrong, I’d love for someone to present convincing evidence to the contrary. I’m willing to listen…

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Chat with your friends with RaidCall

Chat with your friends with this group-based audio chat software for Windows.

raidcallVoIP is a huge deal. Making calls to friends and loved ones across the internet is easier than ever to do today.  This is one reason why I like apps like RaidCall, It’s an audio chat client for Windows.

RaidCall is free and light weight.  Setting it up is very easy.  With it, you won’t have to rent or set up local chat servers. Its low CPU usage and minimum memory footprint also allow for smooth, uninterrupted communication between you and your call recipients.

RaidCall supports Group Communications, too.  You can have up to 10,000 users at a time in a single RaidCall group and has a flexible group management system.  The client supports Hi-Fi quality voice chat from anywhere in the world; and has additional features like a voice recorder, polling, announcements, and an activity log.

RaidCall also supports instant messaging.  Aside from passing text messages back and forth, the app also handles file transferring and screenshot sharing, and chat records. It also supports personalized themes and emoticons.

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RaidCall is a decent VoIP client, but is seriously lacking in video calling support. With apps like Skype and FaceTime readily available (depending on platform) that support both audio as well as video chat, for many, RaidCall may be a non-starter in the consumer market.

For SOHO, it may be a decent choice, as video chat may not be a huge need here.  However, the lack of video chat support in a client like this is a huge hole.  Even though it’s free, there are other aps out there that are likely a better choice.

download RaidCall

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ZIP Reader

Peek inside SecureZIP or PKZip files with this free Windows utility.

ZR-01Some times, even though your archives are named appropriately, you forget what you’ve stored in them. I know that’s happened to me more than once, especially with archives that have a bit of age on them. This is one of the reasons why I like Zip Reader. It’s a nifty archive utility for Windows, and its something everyone should have.

ZIP Reader is a free Windows utility that allows users to open files that have been compressed using a archiving utility like SecureZIP or PKZIP. ZIP Reader decrypts Secure ZIP files created by any PKWARE product, regardless of hardware platform. That means Windows users can access files encrypted and compressed on any supported platform. It doesn’t matter where you made it. If its in ZIP format, Zip Reader can peek inside and see what’s there.

The application is simple to use and has a cool auto launch feature. All you have to do is double click on any ZIP file or simply drag-and-drop the ZIP file on to the ZIP Reader icon. The file will unzip automatically, showing its contents.

ZR-03

Zip Reader is a must have application. The app is easy to use and it makes sense to have a tool that can read and decompress archives zipped on other machines with other operating systems. The face of computing is changing. Having a cross platform tool of this type is going to be important during this transitional time. If you don’t have Zip Reader, you should give it a serious look.

download ZipReader

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Windows Blue Leaves Me Feeling That Way

I have seen the Windows Blue overview and its left me feeling, well… blue.

Windows-9I’ve been using Widows 8 since the release of the Developer’s Preview. I’ve written comprehensive reviews of both the Consumer’s Preview as well as the RTM version of the new Microsoft flagship operating system. I feel I know it well enough to voice a justified opinion.

 

I’m waiting for Windows Blue.

I don’t want to say that I’m hanging my hat on the next release because Windows 8 is unusable. It is usable, but that usability comes with some serious caveats.

 

  • Pick an interface – ModernUI or Desktop Mode. Mixing both in a single computing session or experience is confusing and leads to a disjointed experience.
  • Desktop Mode is where most 9-5-er’s are going to be productive – ModernUI apps just aren’t there yet, nearly a year after Windows 8′s release
  • The touch metaphor doesn’t work on a PC without a touch screen – This seems like a no-brainer to everyone else OTHER than Microsoft. Hello..! A touch pad is NOT a touch screen and can’t sub for one.

The list goes on. The OS itself isn’t bad. It’s fast. Its stable. The problem Windows 8 has is that its UI really sucks. It’s a drastic step back to Windows 1.x. Seriously. Those of us that can remember what THAT convoluted mess was like have been likening the flat, inefficient screen usage and what appears as a massive step backwards in UX (user interface design) experience between the two computer experiences. It’s confusing, really.

Windows, codenamed Blue, is the latest release of Microsoft’s PC operating system. I initially typed, “desktop,” but that’s not really the case anymore. While it’s not clear yet if Windows Blue is a service pack for Windows 8, or if it’s supposed to be Windows 9, it was generally thought that there were supposed to be some serious UI changes in the OS…and there are. Unfortunately for those of us that don’t like ModernUI, the changes are disappointing.

Windows Blue really reinforces ModernUI. It tries to improve on how the UI works; and perhaps it will improve the experience, but Windows 8/Windows Blue still has some very serious issues. The bulk of Windows compatible software available is still written for either Windows 7 or for Windows 8′s Desktop mode. The Windows 8 software store is relatively empty. The apps available there aren’t very good or don’t provide the value that legacy apps do.

With the “improvements” to ModernUI, Settings, Charms, etc., users are still going to continue to swap back and forth between the two interfaces as they spend more and more time relying on ModernUI to handle more of the OS level tasks.

According to my good friend, Paul Thurrott of The Windows Supersite, the release of Windows Blue sheds a great deal of light on the strategic direction Microsoft is taking Windows in; and it involves the complete elimination of the classic Windows Desktop.

To quote Paul, “Microsoft still sees the touch-centric Metro environment as the future of mainstream computing.”

This means that they have not addressed what many pundits in the tech industry have called a serious schism between MS-based touch-centric computing – ModernUI – and where hundreds of millions of Windows PC users are productive every single day. If you remember, Microsoft did this to us twice before with WindowsME and with Windows Vista. Both were supposed to place new user experiences on the desktop and both were a serious flop. They moved things. They changed the way people worked. The cry went up unto Redmond and Microsoft heard the wailing and gnashing of teeth and “corrected the problems.”

They either don’t seem to care or don’t seem to want to at this point. This combined OS that they seem to think is good for both a tablet and as a tool to get serious work done isn’t working. It just isn’t. I’ve been a Windows user since Windows 1.x, and a serious proponent since Windows 3.x. I was on their technical beta team from Window 95 through Windows XP (That includes Win95, Win98, Win98SE, WinME, Win2K, AND WinXP); and I can tell you, When Windows Vista hit, it was a train wreck.

The difference here is that Microsoft took what the industry and their users were saying into account. It’s clear that they have made a conscious choice to stop listening; and it’s sad. Which is why I noticed that Windows blue has left me feeling that way…Blue.

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Samsung Galaxy S4 – Life Companion

Compared with the very successful Galaxy S3, the brand new Samsung Galaxy S4 is by far the greatest smart phone from the market. Samsung raised once again the standard before any of its competitors did.

S4I don’t think they focused on very much on the case quality, because, as they say, the plastic won’t brake so easy as the glass does. So, it’s light, big and very fast. The display size is a bit bigger than the S III, and it’s now 5″. Also, the resolution was raised to Full HD 1920/1080 with Super Amoled display.

No Speed limit?

Well, it is a limit… But the good news is that is very high, and you have some awesome features. And the processor you either get an 1.9 GHz Quad Core, or an 1.6 GHz Octa Core, depending on the market you’re in. In my case, I would like the 1.9 Quad Core, because the Octa Core is quite a big energy consumer. Speaking of energy, the battery capacity is now bigger (2600 mAh) and they have constantly working on software tweaks to ensure you get the most of your battery.
The RAM memory is 2 GB and internal storage is 64GB and supports another 64 on SD-Card. Really, you can’t get more than that in a single phone! The phone cameras were also improved to 13 Megapixels rear-facing camera and 2-megapixels forward-facing camera. One particular new feature is that Samsung S4 allows you to take a photo or a video with both front and rear camera at the same time. This new feature is called by Samsung, Dual-Shot. Another cool feature is Cinema Photo, similar to Cinemagram, which lets you choose on piece of your photo to move, while keeping the others still.

Software improvements? Yes, there are plenty of great improvements. Samsung S4 is running the latest Android version, 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with other particular Samsung software.
Smart Scroll feature, allows you to scroll through websites by tilting your phone. The Smart Pause feature lets you control the screen with your eyes. The feature stops and starts a video based on whether you’re looking at the screen or not. This feature is similar with LG’s Smart Video feature. Also, if you’re watching a video and you put the phone down to do something else, video play will stop until you return and look at the screen.
The S Translate feature helps you translate your text messages or emails into nine different languages, using text or voice translation. The feature can also translate from both speech-text and text-to-speech.
With Air View you can hover your fingers over an email, S Planner, or image gallery to view a larger preview of content before selecting it, and the Air Gesture feature allows you to change a song, scroll through a web page, or answer a call by just waving your hand. Also this feature is awesome if you wear gloves, or your fingers are full of chocolate and you don’t wanna touch the phone.

Group Play – Now this is fun. You can share music, photos, videos and games with the people near you. You’re in a parking lot and you wanna turn the party ON? Transform the phones into a cool surround system and all the phones connected and playing the same song at once, will sure heat the things up!

So, Samsung is not focused on very much hardware improvements, because is already high-end, and they make their hardware to run spectacular with innovating software. All right, not all the features and softwares are original ideas, but they managed to gather all the cool features from many other phones, and set up an awesome engine under the new S4′s hood.

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