Corel Painter X announced, ships late Feb


Corel Painter X announced, ships late Feb

Corel Painter X is now available for pre-order from Corel UK.

The software is a leading application for natural painting and illustration on a computer, ideally used with a Wacom graphics tablet. The software supports Wacom’s Cintiq21 UX interactive pen display and the Intuos3 pen tablet. This release is a Universal Binary for Intel and PowerPC Macs.
 
Blurring the lines between natural and digital media

The company claims its new software “blurs the line between traditional and digital art like never before”. Its developers tried to extend the solution’s natural feel by examining the relationship between the artist’s hand and the canvas.

“Corel Painter X is the most natural, organic and powerful version yet,” said Rick Champagne, product manager for Corel Painter.

Painter X offers better performance than any version yet of the naturalmedia software. It also offers new composition tools and the all-new RealBristle Painting System that provides an organic painting and illustration experience – right down to the individual bristles on the brush.
 
The RealBristle Painting System heightens the responsiveness of the brush, replicating traditional art media with individual bristles that blend and splay, as in the traditional world.
 
The software’s new Composition Tools include the Divine Proportion composition tool which offers guidelines that follow the Divine Proportion (also known as the Golden Ratio) to enable artists to compose their images like the Masters. The new Layout Grid composition tool provides guidelines that follow photography’s Rule of Thirds, but can be customised to other desired grid patterns.
 
The Photo-Painting System has been improved while the Underpainting Palette now includes colour schemes based on various media styles, such as Impressionist, Classical, Modern, Watercolor, Sketchbook and Chalk Drawing.

Palettes on patrol

The Auto-Painting palette has been significantly updated with the introduction of the new Smart Stroke Painting option which applies brush strokes that follow the forms of the original photo. Smart Stroke Painting changes brush size, stroke length and pressure based on the detail and focal areas of the original image.
 
The Match Palette effect includes controls for colour, colour variation, brightness, brightness variation and intensity. Also new is the Universal Mixer palette which offers better control over colour blending between the Mixer palette and the canvas.
 
Workspace Manager lets users back up, share or switch between customised workspaces. Artists can create customised environments for such activities as sketching, photography and painting. In addition, custom brushes can now be quickly exported and shared with others in the community.
 
Dodge and Burn tools have been improved with the addition of two new image enhancement tools to the toolbox. The Dodge tool will lighten specific areas of an image, while the Burn tool can be used to darken areas of an image.

Colour management has also been improved to offer more accurate colour reproduction on devices and when it comes to printing an illustration. Users need only set their Colour Management preferences once and the software will retain those settings.

Photoshop familiar

Users will also find that Layers work in a very similar fashion to the way they do in Photoshop. Files saved to the Photoshop (PSD) file format open in Corel Painter, with layer masks, alpha channels and layer sets (groups) maintained. Enhancements include easier layer grouping and combining, and improved support for layer merge modes.
 
Painter X ships with a printed, full-colour illustrated manual, a selection of training videos (featuring artist Jeremy Sutton) and extensive references to take users to a wide selection of online resources.
 
Painter X is available for Mac OS X and Windows (including Vista). The software also supports many Photoshop plug-ins, the company said.
 
Corel is also releasing the software in a special limited edition can.

Corel Painter X (full version, upgrade version, education edition and Limited Edition Painter Can) is available for pre-order now. Boxed product ships in late February. Japanese, French, Italian and German versions will be available throughout the spring of 2007.
 
Suggested retail pricing (excluding VAT) for Corel Painter X is £229 for full, £119 for upgrade. The Limited Edition Painter Can is available for £259.
 

Scribble Defense soon at Xbox Live


Scribble Defense soon at Xbox Live

Scribbles live a dark and lonely life, with the ever present danger of the void lurking in every pathway. However they are protected by the powerful Scribble Meister using powerful towers to dispatch those who present danger to the Scribbles. Protect your Scribbles by laying down towers that destroy, debuff, and manipulate your enemies. The Scribble Meister is even powerful enough to influence the predestined path the enemies are taking.

Scribble Defense will soon be released on Xbox Live Indie Games.

Features:

  • The player can re-position enemy waypoints to their advantage
  • Dynamic waypoints make the game challenging by constantly shifting their position thus changing the path of the enemies
  • Puzzle elements have been infused with the map design, making players think beyond just placing towers by making the playing field more dynamic with pre-placed towers, and interesting tower powers
  • Players are encouraged to move around the battlefield to collect money and power up their towers with their presence

Apple Remote Desktop software updates ship


Apple Remote Desktop software updates ship

Apple released two updates for Apple Remote Desktop.

Two versions of the update, Apple Remote Desktop 3.1, are available: one for client, the other for admin systems.

According to Apple, the update addresses, “numerous issues related to overall reliability, usability and compatibility”. The update is recommended to all users.

The client update weighs in at just 2.5MB, while the admin version is a 28MB download. Both updates are available through Software Update or for direct download from Apple’s website.

Notes accompanying the admin update state the software includes specific fixes for:

– Remote lights out management of Xserve
– Scanning computers on the local network
– Installation of software meta-packages
– Authentication when using directory services
– Execution of AppleScript and Automator workflows
– Compatibility with third party VNC viewers and servers

Mac developers’ sale to raise cash for US children’s charity


Mac developers’ sale to raise cash for US children’s charity

Independent Mac software developers have joined forces to raise funds for a Seattle-based children’s charity, Child’s Play.

Developers from Astoundit Software, Chimp Software, Clickable Bliss, Code Sorcery Workshop, Delicious Monster, Elgebar Studios, Flying Meat, Happy Apps, Houdah Software, Martian Technology, Mere Mortal Software, MK&C, Prosit Software, Red Sweater Software and RQS have got together for the initiative.

Child’s Play raises funds to buy toys and games for US children stuck in hospital during the Christmas period. It has raised over a million dollars for this purpuse since it was founded in 2003.

Proceeds from sales of the various software titles on Thursday 7 December will be donated to the charity.

More information is available here.

Apple UK shipments up 27 per cent – IDC


Apple UK shipments up 27 per cent – IDC

Apple UK has seen its overall UK Mac shipments climb 27 per cent year-on-year, an IDC UK analyst confirmed last night.

IDC senior research analyst Ian Gibb told Macworld: “If Apple continues to shift units – which is very possible if demand for Mac minis remains sustained – then further market share gains could be made over the coming quarters.”

Apple’s UK market share is climbing, albeit slowly, he confirmed, “market share has risen only marginally to 2.2 per cent”, he explained, stressing that Apple’s desktop shipments: “Have been very strong, expanding by 45 per cent year-on-year and increasing desktop market share from 1.5-2 per cent.”

Notebook slowdown requires action

In recent years, Apple’s success in the European market has been driven by a higher than industry average acceleration in notebook sales. Apple’s success in this area is slowing down, IDC confirmed.

Figures released by IDC in August 2004 showed that year-on-year Apple’s UK notebook shipments grew 41.3 per cent.

Gibbs said: “Notebook sales have only grown by 9.6 per cent year-on-year, much slower than the notebook market as a whole.” He observed that Apple is now facing “stiff competition” in the notebook sector from “cheaper Wintel alternatives”.

Returning to desktops, Apple’s new-found success in this segment has clearly been helped by the launch of the Mac mini.

Praise for Mac mini, iPod

“Desktop growth has undoubtedly been strong due to the Mac mini. Apple has typically generated a great deal of interest, subsequently seeing demand outstrip supply, creating further market hype.”

He also praised Apple’s aggressive Mac mini pricing: “Apple”, he said, “is reaching previously unattainable price points and has taken far more credible steps into the commoditized market”.

Gibbs also observed the positive impact of Apple’s success with its iPod products, saying: “Apple’s consumer brand name has undoubtedly been enhanced by the iPod.”

He noted a trend that may lead Apple toward further gains, the company’s brand is, “now being leveraged into the PC space as users are being encouraged to make the switch from Wintel to Apple systems.”

Macs nicked in bizarre armed robbery


Macs nicked in bizarre armed robbery

Half a million pounds worth of Mac laptops were seized from Inmac Limited, a division of MicroWarehouse, in a bizarre “aggravated burglary” on Tuesday April 3. According to police, the getaway vehicle left a trail of soil and green chilli peppers…

Four masked intruders entered the security lodge of the warehouse based in Runcorn, Cheshire, and overpowered the night security officer at 5:15am.

Firearm frenzy
After producing a firearm, the intruders rounded up staff members, tied them up and locked them into the gents’ toilets. The robbers were then free to steal large quantities of both Apple and Toshiba laptops.

Cheshire police are unsure of the exact value of the stolen merchandise, but have estimated a figure of £500,000.

The get-away vehicle was a 7.5-ton van described as plain white, without lettering or a logo and having a red tailgate.

Red hot goods
Bizarrely, the van left a trail of “soil and green chilli peppers” behind at the crime scene, which police believe may be vital to revealing the culprits’ identity.

Three Inmac staff members sustained serious injuries after being beaten by the intruders. They were later hospitalized.

The cops are keen to hear from anyone who may have been aware of suspicious activities taking place around the premises of Inmac Ltd in the early hours of the morning, or who may recognize the van’s description.

Crimestoppers Hotline, 0800 555 111. MicroWarehouse is also the parent company of MacWarehouse.

Google wants computers to feel ‘regret’


Google wants computers to feel ‘regret’

A team of researchers at Tel Aviv University is working on instilling “regret” in computers–with Google footing the bill.

According to a press release on Wednesday, Google is funding a project from Tel Aviv University’s Blavatnik School of Computer Science. The project, lead by Professor Yishay Mansour, is attempting to write an algorithm that will install “regret” in computers. This isn’t really regret, however–it’s more like hindsight.

Basically, the algorithm will let computers learn from their virtual experiences by measuring the distance between a desired outcome and an actual outcome. Using this measurement, Professor Mansour hopes that the computer will be able to predict the future and minimize future regret.

“If the servers and routing systems of the Internet could see and evaluate all the relevant variables in advance, they could more efficiently prioritize server resource requests, load documents and route visitors to an Internet site, for instance,” Professor Mansour says.

And this is where Google comes in–not only is Mansour’s vision efficient (Google is all about efficiency), but Google hopes to use Mansour’s research to improve AdWords and Adsense.

“Compared to human beings, help systems can much more quickly process all the available information to estimate the future as events unfold–whether it’s a bidding war on an online auction site, a sudden spike of traffic to a media website, or demand for an online product,” Mansour says.

Hopefully, the algorithm will update itself as it runs and “adapt to the situation at hand.” Mansour suggests that, after a task is finished the results will be “almost as if you knew all the variables in advance.”

So yeah, it’s not really regret, per se. Rather, computers will be able to look back on undesired outcomes, determine the difference between that outcome and the desired outcome, and predict what will happen in the future (based on this experience) and take steps to make the next outcome closer to the desired outcome.

For lack of a better word, Mansour calls it “regret.” I do hope that computers are better at the “learning” part of the process than are, say, college students.

[Tel Aviv University via Engadget]

Facebook Home on iPhone? Not a chance, say experts


Facebook Home on iPhone? Not a chance, say experts

There is no way, absolutely no way, that Apple will surrender its iPhone interface to Facebook Home, analysts said today.

“Apple will not do Facebook Home as implemented in the first version of Android. Absolutely not,” said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy.

“The chance of that happening is slim and none,” chimed in Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates.

The experts weighed in on a report Tuesday by Bloomberg, which quoted a Facebook executive saying that the Menlo Park, Calif. social networking giant is talking with both Apple and Microsoft about pushing Home onto iOS and Windows Phone 8.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced Facebook Home on Android two weeks ago, and the app hit the Google Play e-market last Friday. Home, part interactive lock-screen, part app launcher, part user interface (UI) replacement, is the company’s biggest-yet attempt to push into mobile. But reaction from both users and analysts has been mixed.

“We’ve shown them what we’ve built and we’re just in an ongoing conversation,” Adam Mosseri, Facebook director of product, told Bloomberg about discussions with Apple and Microsoft.

Earlier this month, Zuckerberg also talked about Apple, noting that the two companies have a “great relationship” and that Facebook is in “an active dialogue to do more with them.”

Good luck with that, said analysts.

“Facebook may be dogging anyone who listens, but Home as it exists today will not be on iOS,” said Gold.

“Never,” replied Van Baker, an analyst with Gartner, when asked his take on the likelihood that Apple would give up its home screen, even its lock screen, to the interactive Facebook Home. “Why would Apple ever surrender the home screen? Apple believes that Facebook is important, they don’t want to surrender anything to the Android platform, but they would never allow Home on the iPhone.”

The experts cited one overpowering reason why Apple would reject any entreaty from Facebook: Apple’s UI. The design of that distinctive interface, and its contribution to the success of the iPhone are the Cupertino, Calif. firm’s “crown jewels.” It’s a big part of what makes an iPhone, well, an iPhone.

“There’s absolutely no chance of this,” said Moorhead. “The magic of [the iPhone] comes from the holistic experience Apple provides. With Home, they’d lose that holistic experience.”

The UI is one of Apple’s most-important strategic possessions, Moorhead added, and it jealously guards that UI — including the iPhone’s home screen — from any interlopers.

In fact, Apple, more than any other mobile operating system developer or smartphone maker, is fanatical about keeping its customers close, and in not allowing even the thinnest wedge to come between it and those customers.

What the analysts did think likely: Facebook adding some features included in Home on Android to the Facebook apps already available for iOS or Windows Phone. Facebook did just that only yesterday, when it added “Chat Heads” to Facebook on iPhone.

“They could maybe do a subset of Home,” said Gold of the product on iOS. “That would be ‘Facebook Trailer,’ or ‘Facebook Tent.’ Maybe ‘Facebook Pup Tent.'”

Nor has Facebook Home on Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 much chance, the analysts argued.

“I just don’t see what Microsoft could gain outside of a small potential increase in sales if Home works out,” said Moorhead.

Microsoft executives have hinted as much. Just after Facebook unveiled Home, Microsoft’s head of communications, Frank Shaw, belittled it as little more than a copy of Windows Phone circa 2011.

Gold, who characterized Facebook Home as a “hostile takeover” of Android smartphones, said the openness of Google’s OS, the fact that developers are not limited to Google Play to distribute their wares, makes Home possible on that platform. Not so for iOS and Windows Phone 8. Both Apple and Microsoft restrict app delivery to their own stores, and thus have veto power.

“Apple in particular keeps very tight control over what gets on the iPhone,” Gold said. “I’d be shocked if Apple allowed Facebook Home. There have been others who have tried to do much less who have been bumped.”

A rejection of Facebook Home by Apple — if it’s talking with Facebook about possibilities — would not materially harm its relationship with Zuckerberg’s company: Apple already integrates Facebook with iOS in ways that other developers only dream of.

In any case, Facebook Home may not, in the end, be worth Apple’s or Microsoft’s time.

“I think that the jury is still very much out whether [Facebook Home] will be successful,” said Baker as he cited anecdotal evidence that even active Facebook users have told him the concept was, no pun intended, “Way too much in your face.”

Gold agreed. “Facebook Home appeals to the really die-hard Facebook fans, but not to those who use it just three minutes a day,” he said. “Most people won’t like the idea of Facebook taking over their phones.”

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg’s RSS feed. His email address is [email protected].

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile apps in Computerworld’s Mobile Apps Topic Center.

See also:

Auto-playing video ads: Coming soon to a Facebook feed near you?

Google’s Eric Schmidt talks Facebook Home, ‘phenomenal’ new Motorola devices

Facebook Home’s Chat Heads pop up on iOS

Will Apple agree to an iPhone version of Facebook Home?

New Final Fantasy 7 Remake footage hits PlayStation Experience


New Final Fantasy 7 Remake footage hits PlayStation Experience

Earlier this year, Sony shocked fans with the reveal of Final Fantasy VII Remake. This year, new footage was revealed, showing off the game’s stunning new visuals.

It should be noted that the trailer ended with the words “First on PlayStation,” which appears to hint that this will not be a PS4 exclusive. We expect to find out more information on Final Fantasy VII remake soon. In the meantime, the PC port of the original game is available on PS4 right now.

Neverwinter announces release date for Fury of the Feywild 


Neverwinter announces release date for Fury of the Feywild 

You have to hand it to Cryptic Studios. While Neverwinter launched still reeling from some major currency exploits, Cryptic has pressed on and continued developing content at a fairly rapid pace. The MMO launched with the expansive Gauntlgrym encounter and simultaneously announced its first expansion, Fury of the Feywild.

The module -which is apparently what D&D fans call them- will have players fighting evil mutated gnomes, defending Sharandar from Formorian Giants and teaming up with Moon Elves. All of this and a host of new features will be free and available to players starting on August 22nd.

Although not required, Perfect World has saw fit to add two new purchasable packs for players who want access to a new race, mounts, items and unique pets. Details regarding the more expensive ($59.99 vs $19.99) Knight of the Feywild pack can be found in the video above.

If you’d prefer to find out more information regarding the actual expansion then you can do so by heading on over to the official Fury of the Feywild site.