Monthly Archives: April 2013

SA plastic surgeon offers 3D breast imaging for help with big decisions

SA plastic surgeon offers 3D breast imaging for help with big decisions
The software also allows the patient to play "paper dolls" by trying on different outfits to see what size is the most flattering for their frame. He also said the program helps patient avoid having implant remorse when it comes to size. "Being able to …
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Arshad Warsi attends the special screening 3D animated movie 'The Croods'

Arshad Warsi attends the special screening 3D animated movie 'The Croods'
Mumbai, April 19 (ANI): Bollywood actor Arshad Warsi along with his family was spotted having a great time at the special screening of 3D animated movie The Croods in Mumbai. Arshad was seen clicking pictures with the animated character and the kids …
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Technology Advancements and Declining Costs Drive the Global 3D Printing

Technology Advancements and Declining Costs Drive the Global 3D Printing
GIA announces the release of a comprehensive global report on 3D Printing markets. Global market for 3D Printing is projected to reach US$ 4.5 billion by 2018, driven by the development of innovative printing techniques, expanding application areas and …
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Here's 1D In Movie Poster Form

Here's 1D In Movie Poster Form
Earlier this week, the band and TriStar Pictures unveiled the official first poster of This Is Us, a 3D concert movie directed by Morgan Spurlock (of Super Size Me fame). According to MTV, the poster is made up of photos of Harry Styles, Niall Horan …
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A Buyer’s Guide to Flatbed Scanners

Flatbed scanners generally deliver the best combination of quality, flexibility, and usability in scanning. They can be used to scan different kinds of media, including photos and film (with the additional use of a transparency adapter); they can be used to scan text for OCR and document archiving; and they can be used to scan material of varying sizes and thicknesses — from small postage stamps to large mechanical blueprints and 3D objects. To determine the flatbed scanner for your needs, this buying guide covers some of the more important flatbed scanner specifications that you will need to know.

Bit depth and color pass

Practically all scanners today are single-pass types with 48-bit color. Gone are the scanners of yore that required three passes to capture the full RGB (red, green, blue) color information from an image in individual, painstakingly slow takes. Gone too are 24-bit and 36-bit scanners that proved sufficient in the past for delivering up to 68.7 billions of color.

Today’s single-pass, 48-bit scanners are fast and can theoretically capture up to 250 trillion colors — clearly more color than the human eye can distinguish or what monitors and printers can reproduce — but impressive nonetheless for the promise of yielding hues as close to life as possible and delivering smoother color gradations. Ignore all but single-pass scanners when shopping for a flatbed, and aim for 48-bit color as well. Consider lower-bit models (such as 42-bits) only if your scanner of choice has other specs that a higher-bit counterpart may not have — such as patented technologies and special features — that more than compensate for the lower bit depth of your selected model.

Resolution

The resolution of a scanner determines the level of detail that can be captured; the higher the resolution, the sharper the scan will be. There are two types of resolution: optical and interpolated, with optical resolution being the more important spec, as it relates to the scanner’s actual optics and amount of information that it can sample. The interpolated resolution of a scanner is helpful only in specific applications — such as scanning line art, where higher resolutions can even out jaggedness and produce smoother contours.

Most flatbeds today feature respectable specs for optical resolution, ranging from 2400 dpi to 4800 dpi. Any scanner with such resolution figures would prove a respectable choice, since these specs are more than capable of delivering sharp detail or enlarging images for most print applications. Remember, too, that scanning your images in the full resolution of the scanner is likely to yield file sizes of unmanageable proportions — without delivery any discernible benefit towards increasing image clarity or quality. So forget the resolution wars of the past when manufacturers trotted out their resolution specs to trump their closest rival. Instead, look for other features today in flatbeds that may be more important for your needs, or consider the resolution spec TOGETHER with these other features when choosing your choice of flatbed.

CCD vs. CIS Sensor Technology

Image sensors in flatbed scanners can be of two types — CCD or CIS. Scanners with CCD (charge-coupled device) sensors use a system of mirrors and lenses for redirecting light reflected from the original document to the CCD array. Because of the required optics, CCD scanners are more expensive to produce and result in bulkier scanners, compared to their CIS counterparts. The image quality produced by CCD scanners, however, is far superior to that produced by CIS scanners.

CIS, or Contact Image Sensor technology, is a more recent development in which the sensor array lies just under the scanner bed, so that the sensors catch reflected light directly. Since CIS scanners do not need a complex optical system, they are cheaper to produce and are smaller in size, resulting in portable, lightweight models that may be prove ideal for cramped desktops. CIS sensors also contain on-board logic that consumes less power than CCD. But because the on-board logic utilizes space that would normally be used for the mirrors and lenses in a CCD to sense light, scans from a CIS scanner are lower in quality. As a result, most people tend to forego the slight savings that can be obtained from a CIS scanner in favor of getting higher-quality CCD models instead.

Connectivity & Interface

Most consumer-level scanners today will feature USB ports — either Hi-Speed USB (USB 2.0) on more recent models, or the earlier USB 1.1 standard. Hi-Speed USB is backwards compatible with the USB 1.1 and has a data transfer rate of 480 megabits per second (Mbps). Higher-end scanner models are likely to include the FireWire interface as well, allowing scanners to be used in advanced, professional such as audio/video transfer and data storage. Scanners with either USB or FireWire interface are hot swappable — which means the scanners can be plugged or unplugged from other devices to which they are connected without having to turn the scanners off and on. Older scanners will include SCSI or parallel ports, but you shouldn’t have to consider these legacy-type models — unless you are using the scanner to connect to older computers. When shopping for a flatbed, any scanner with a Hi-Speed USB port should be purchase-worthy, but consider getting a model with dual Hi-Speed USB and FireWire interfaces to expand your range of possible connections to many other devices and peripherals.

Scan Speed

Speed specifications in flatbeds are hard to determine — unless the scanner manufacturer provides the specs or the exact conditions in which material is scanned. Scan speeds can run from seconds to several minutes, depending on a wide variety of factors. For instance, to compare scan speed between two comparable models, one will need to know the size of the material being scanned, the resolution setting, the interface being used, and the processing speed and power of the computer to which the scanner is connected. Check speed claims carefully if these are made at all; it may help to do an actual or sample scan with the model of your choice, and see if you are satisfied with the speeds of the preview and actual scans. You could also check to see if your flatbed model has been reviewed in computer magazines or sites and rated for speed, as benchmark tests may give a more comprehensive picture on how fast the scanner runs.

Size of Scan Bed

Most flatbeds today will start out with a standard scan bed size of 8.5″ x 11.7″, approximating the dimensions of a letter-size image or document. From there, various bed-size configurations could come into play, including 8.5″ x 14″ to accommodate legal-size material, and 12″ x 17″ for large, tabloid-size scanning. It’s usually a good idea to consider a flatbed with a bed size that’s beyond the bare minimum — in this case, larger than the barebones 8.5″ x 11.7″. Not only can you fit larger-sized material onto the scan bed, you can also group several smaller pieces on the scan bed and perform batch scans (scanning in groups) to save time and effort.

Dynamic Range

The dynamic range of a scanner measures how well it can capture the tonal range of an image, ranging from the brightest highlights to the darkest shadows. Dynamic range is measured on a scale from 0.0 (perfect white) to 4.0 (perfect black), and the single number associated with a scanner indicates how much of that range it can tell apart. The minimum and maximum density values that can be captured by a scanner are called Dmin and Dmax, respectively. If a scanner’s Dmin was 0.2 and its Dmax was 3.0, then its dynamic range would be 2.8.

While dynamic range is a term often bandied about, in truth the spec is more important for film scanners used to scan slides, negatives, and transparencies — as these types of media have a broader range of tones compared to photos, and for which a scanner’s higher dynamic range can make a difference. Most flatbed scanners will have a dynamic range of 2.8 to 3.0, but don’t be surprised if you can’t find it in the specs, as this is not critical information needed by the average user looking to scan photos or prints.

Software

In selecting the scanner of your choice, consider the software that comes with it. Software will always include the scanner’s own driver or scanning software, as well as a host of complementary programs such as image-editing software like Adobe Photoshop to which the scanned image is delivered; optical character recognition software like ABBYY FineReader Sprint for text scanning and OCR; color calibration software for higher-end scanner models; and even photo-repair software like DIGITAL ICE. Check for extras as well, such as proprietary or exclusive technologies. For instance, some Microtek dual-bed scanners (a flatbed for scanning photos, a separate bed for scanning film) include a technology called E.D.I.T., which features glassless transparency scanning to eliminate artifacts such as Newton Rings and improve image quality.

The driver or scanning software is a critical component of your flatbed, as it will determine how easily and efficiently you will be able to perform your scans. Good scanning software will offer fast previews, automated settings if you wish to simply operations, and plenty of image adjustment or enhancement functions to scale images up or down in size, calculate input vs. output dimensions, set brightness and contrast, correct histograms, apply filters, and more. Microtek’s ScanWizard scanning software, for instance, offers a standard interface for simplified and automated scanning, as well as an advanced interface for more detailed and sophisticated control of the entire scanning process. Make sure you find out what scanner driver and software bundles are included with your scanner before finalizing your purchase.

Accessories

Flatbeds are able to extend their function and versatility when outfitted with accessories such as a transparency adapter or automatic document feeder.

The transparency adapter — which may also be known as a transparent media adapter — allows you to scan film and transparencies in addition to the photos that can be scanned by your flatbed. TMAs are installed easily, with the lid of the flatbed scanner removed completely and the TMA installed in its place. With its own overhead lighting, the activated TMA is able to control the amount of lighting it shines on the film to be scanned, preventing overexposure of the film and delivering correct image results. Usually included with purchasing a transparency adapter are any number of film templates or holders to scan various types of film, such as 35mm slides, 35mm filmstrips, 4″x5″ film, and medium format (6×6-cm up to 6×17-cm panoramic) film. Premium color targets for calibrating the scanner to obtain optimal film scans may also be part of the package.

The automatic document feeder, or ADF, enhances the document imaging potential of your flatbed scanner. ADFs allow continuous scanning of multi-page documents — anywhere from 50 to 100, or even more pages — for imaging or OCR. With an ADF attached to a scanner, you can simply put a sheaf of documents into the ADF, launch the OCR software for your scanner, and choose the appropriate settings for scanning pages of text. The pages can then be saved either as graphic or image files for reference and record keeping, or the pages can be prepared for OCR and further text editing.

In deciding on the flatbed scanner of your choice, see if it can accommodate a transparency adapter, automatic document feeder, or both. The additional options may cost a bit more, but the money spent will be worth it if these accessories allow you to do so much more with your flatbed, boosting your efficiency and extending the range of the scanner’s functions.

Other components

A final element to consider in your flatbed scanner purchase will be your service and warranty options. Depending on the price and level of your scanner model, service and warranty options can be free for a limited period of time, with extended warranty options available if you think you need additional protection and security. Most manufacturers will offer some form of service and warranty plan; check to see if these are adequate and fit your needs. The best warranty will cover parts and labor, and a more extensive warranty for a shorter term may serve you better than a longer-lasting but watered-down warranty. It may be a good idea to check what sort of technical support may be available with your flatbed purchase, and whether online support, downloadable drivers, and update information can be obtained from the manufacturer’s web site.

Microtek Lab Inc. is a consumer electronics company focused on scanners, plasma and lcd televisions, digital projectors, lcd monitors, digital cameras, home theatre equipment, and accessories. You can view their online store at [http://www.store.microtek.com]

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Board Games – Have Deep Historical Roots Buried In The Sands Of Time

Monopoly, Risk and Clue have roots buried deep in the sands of ancient Mesopotamia.

British archeologist Charles Leonard Woolley unearthed the earliest known board game in the late 1920’s. He was excavating a burial tomb in Ur, what is now southern Iraq. The game, buried with other treasure, had been interred nearly 4,500 years earlier. The Royal Game of Ur is the earliest known board game. Not only did Woolley find the game board and game pieces, he also found instructions for playing the game. They were engraved in cuneiform texts located at the site. The Royal Game of Ur, or the ‘game of 20 squares’ was a race game with two players racing to the end of the board. Since that time similar game boards have been found throughout the ancient world, from Egypt to India. The game Woolley found can still be played today, just as the ancient Sumerians enjoyed it.

Board games have been popular in nearly every known civilization. Many civilizations were playing board games before they developed any form of written language.

Board games come in two basic types. The first uses strategy to win the game. The object is to block or capture opposing game pieces or to capture larger portions of the game board. Monopoly and checkers are both examples of the strategy game. Strategy alone does not insure victory.

Chance plays a significant role in most board games, but not all. Some of the most respectable board games, chess for example, focus on skill with very little luck involved.

Purists feel that luck is an undesirable element. They feel the games should be based entirely on strategy and skill. Others feel the element of chance gives these games more complexity with many more possible strategies. These people feel the element of luck makes these games more exciting. On the other hand, games that are completely games of chance, where no or few decisions are made, quickly become boring to most adults. Many children’s board games are games of luck with few decisions to be made.

The second types of board games are race games. Two or more players move pieces in a race from one point on the board to another. Backgammon is an example of a race game. Again, the element of chance is an essential ingredient in these games.

Luck is introduced into the game in a number of ways. One of the popular ways is by using dice. The dice can determine how many units a play can move, how forces fare in battle or which resources a player gains. Another common method of introducing change is by using a deck of special cards. In yet other games spinners or other such devices are used to determine the play.

A third type of board games is a combination both of the above types. These games employ strategies to conduct a race.

Board Games Pre-date Reading And Writing

Board games have been popular for centuries. The game of 20 squares was played from Egypt to India more than 4,000 years ago. Nearly 3,000 years ago a game that resembles backgammon was developed in the same region. Games using stone marbles were developed in Egypt nearly 1,000 years later.

A board game is a game played with a pre-marked surface and counters or pieces that are moved across the board. Methods of chance are often used, usually dice or cards, to determine the movement of the pieces or counters across the surface of the board.

We are not really sure why early board games were developed. Some argue these games were a device for conducting religious services. Others claim they were employed to teach strategies of war. Today’s board games are recreational and considered good family entertainment.

Board games became popular in the U.S. in the early 1900s. As the population moved off the farm, people had more time and more money to pursue leisure activities. Board games were a family recreation easily played in the home. Chess, checkers and backgammon became tremendously popular.

The most popular board game of all time is Monopoly. In 1904 Elizabeth Maggie patented “The Landlord’s Game” an early version of Monopoly. It was based upon economic principles and was designed to teach real estate ownership and management.

In 1933, Clarence Darrow copyrighted a version of “The Landlord’s Game.” He called it “Monopoly.” He went to the game company, Parker Brothers, for help producing the game. They turned him down because they said it would never sell. He began selling Monopoly for the 1934 Christmas season. He was overwhelmed with orders. Parker Brothers agreed to produce the game the following year. Monopoly is now printed in 15 languages and sold worldwide.

Favorite old board games have recently been redeveloped for a whole new generation. These classics have been developed as electronic games. Most popular board games have now been successfully adapted as electronic games. These games are played on game consoles and on personal computers.

Board games have come along way since the days of ancient Sumerians when they were played around campfires of camel trains. Astronauts millions of miles above the earth have played board games. Now, with the Internet, players half a world apart can come together in cyberspace and enjoy the challenge of board games.

Royce Armstrong is a successful freelance writer with a business and banking background who believes consumers should get the best value for their money when shopping for leading board games such as monopoly [http://www.a1-in-toys.com/board-games.html], yahtzee [http://www.a1-in-toys.com/electronic-games.html] and scrabble [http://www.a1-in-toys.com/index.html].

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Lagoa Debuts 'Industry First' Cloud Based 3D Design Platform, Raises $1.6M

Lagoa Debuts 'Industry First' Cloud Based 3D Design Platform, Raises .6M
From physical to digital rendering, 3D is being hailed by many as the future, and today, Lagoa, one of software startups in this space, is unveiling a new product, called Lagoa, that's helping 3D enter a new dimension: a full 3D rendering and …
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InfiniteSkills' "Learning Bentley Microstation V8i 3D Tutorial" Targets 3D

InfiniteSkills' "Learning Bentley Microstation V8i 3D Tutorial" Targets 3D
Software training firm InfiniteSkills Inc. this week introduced its "Learning Bentley Microstation V8i 3D Tutorial," a course designed to teach users of Microstation to optimize its capabilities for 3D modeling and rendering. Microstation is a computer …
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