Try The Painting Generator For Your Mac

There’s not much that’s new about digital drawing, painting, or graphic design apps, Mac or Windows. Most of the high end tools come loaded with features that require a few semesters to learn, let alone master. The recent flood of one-trick pony apps bring affordable graphic and image manipulation to the masses, but PaintMee is the first that I know of that uses the term digital painting generator.

For a few bucks you get an app that isn’t a drawing app or a design app in the traditional sense. Embedded within PaintMee takes a photo and repaints it as if the image was painted stroke by stroke, smoothly, starting from a blank canvas. In essence, the photo or image is analyzed, and then re-constructed according to specific parameters, but with vector-like precision.

The result speaks for itself.

PaintMee Sample

One click gets a result like the above but PaintMee comes with many options to alter the appearance of the same original photo or image. For example, you control the Layers, Detail, Precision, Tones, Colors, type of Paint, and Texture, so each image is unique.

As an inexpensive app, PaintMee is quite versatile and one of few Mac image enhancement apps this side of Photoshop which can put some pressure on multi-core Macs. Every core in my i7 iMac gets used, and a simple slider bar determines how much (the Pro version outputs up to 128 megapixels; vs. 16 megapixels in the basic version) time is required.

That means the finished image– and it may take many minutes for more complex detail to complete– is huge and incredibly detailed. Each new painting in the Pro version can be exported as a Photoshop PDS file with layers, up to separate 128 layers on separate transparent backgrounds.

More PaintMee Sample

PaintMee’s output isn’t what you’d use everyday as a photo professional or graphic designer, but it’s priced more like an elegant one-trick pony app, though the price differential between the entry-level version and the Pro version is substantial.

One feature I’d like to see added to PaintMee is an option to re-paint an image in various styles. True, you can control the specific parameters of each element, but having presets that paint like Picasso or Warhol would be a plus.

More 3D Sidewalk Chalk Drawings

They’re only good viewing from a specific angle, but good nonetheless. My favorite is White Water, from BrainJet:

3D Chalk Art

14 more in the group; all good.

Batman v Superman

Gary Collinson with a few more details on Ben Affleck as Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice sees Zack Snyder directing a cast that includes returning Man of Steel stars Henry Cavill (Superman), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Diane Lane (Martha Kent), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White) and Harry Lennix (General Swanwick) alongside Ben Affleck (Argo) as Batman, Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious 6) as Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones) as Aquaman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Jesse Eisenberg (Now You See Me) as Lex Luthor, Jeremy Irons (The Borgias) as Alfred Pennyworth and Jena Malone (Sucker Punch), Holly Hunter (The Piano)…

That’s an all star cast but Superman would win, hands down.

Batmobile Stroller

Anthony Domanico:

They’ve made a custom Groot swing and a “Lord of the Rings” litter box that lets kitties simply poop into Mordor, and now the Hollywood prop designers behind the web series “Super-Fan Builds” are back with their finest creation yet– a stroller taken straight from the streets of Gotham.

Yes, it’s a Batmobile stroller for tykes.

Batmobile Stroller

It would be much cooler if dad didn’t have to push.

This Mac Audio Recorder And Editor Is Just Twisted, Man

For a variety of reasons, some dating back to the middle of the last century where audio recordings were edited with a razor and tape, I collect audio recording apps on my Mac. From Garageband to Logic Pro X, from Audacity to Amadeus Pro, and many others. The latest to be added to the collection is the delightfully competent TwistedWave (which also has an iOS version that graces my iPhone and iPad).

As audio recorders go, TwistedWave is packed with recording and editing features, but has little resemblance to Apple’s Garageband. Recording audio is quick and painless. Press the red Record button. Markers are easily dropped into the waveform during recording, making an editable section easy to find later.

Otherwise, TwistedWave is somewhat traditional as linear recorders and editors go. Toolbar across the top, waveform timeline below, editable waveform across the bottom. TwistedWave comes with the expected array of tools, too, including compression, limiting, equalization and options to drop in Apple’s Audio Unit plugins or VST plugins. Audio files are easily converted from one format to another, and the app has a few extras not found in other recorder editor apps.

TwistedWave Editor Recorder

For example, there’s DIRAC time stretch and pitch shift functions built in to TwistedWave which is more of a pro-level feature. File metadata can be viewed, edited, and saved. Copy and pasting audio slips has an automatic fade in and fade out option, and clips can be re-arranged using the Clip List which makes editing long recordings much faster.

The built-in silence detector finds audio-less gaps, and can split them into sections, but saved as individual audio files (you can name each section). Batch processing is built-in, too, which gives you the option to stack effects and filters all at once vs. one at a time.

An odd one, but useful nonetheless, is the option to create your own iPhone ringtones to load into iTunes for your iPhone. Of course, undo and redo are nearly unlimited, and recording and editing can be handled up to 32-bit and 192kHz sampling, so, again, pro-level basics. I use TwistedWave as an audio file converter, too because it handles wav, aiff, au, snd, sd2, mpg, mp2, mp3, mp4, m4r (iPhone ringtones), m4a (iTunes), m4b (audiobooks), aac, caf, flac, ogg/vorbis, wma, WavPack, Wave64 files, but can also import movie sound track audio files.

Unlike many basic audio recorders and editors, TwistedWave also handles multi-channel editing, including AU and VIST plugins. Considering the premium price tag, the app comes with a 90-day money back guarantee, and a free try-before-you-buy option for 30 days. It costs more than Amadeus Pro but does more. The user interface, especially the toolbar, appears somewhat simplistic because it doesn’t have the professional charcoal look of Garageband, Adobe Audition, and Logic Pro X, but is instantly usable.

If you record and edit audio and Garageband isn’t your cup of tea, this is a worthy app with good support. As for editing, TwistedWave is so far beyond an aluminum editing bar, a razor blade, and audio tape that it’s laughable.

Apple To Design Mac CPUs? Why Not?

Apple loves control. If it can design a better CPU for the Mac, why not? Some analysts think Apple is moving in that direction, and sooner rather than later. Kevin C. Togel parrots the details.

Apple last changed the chips it uses in Mac computers back in 2006, making the switch from PowerPC to Intel. The next change could take place as early as this year, according to KGI Research. In its latest report, it suggests Apple is working to scale up the custom chips it uses in iPads and iPhones for Mac computers.

The questions that go unanswered include, “Why?” And, “What about compatibility with Mac apps running on Intel CPUs?” And, “How much money would Apple save on each CPU?” And, finally, “What’s the benefit to an Apple-designed CPU aver an Intel i5 or i7 currently running in a MacBook Air?

Alien UFO Coverup?

Inquiring minds want to know. UFO hunter Toby Lundh:

NASA has removed the recording from its archives as part of the agency’s effort to conceal what alien UFO believers have long held are clandestine interactions between ISS astronauts and technologically advanced aliens.

Why not just land on earth? Parking is tough in Washington, D.C. Plus, everyone has a camera on their smartphone. Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube would go down in an instant and then where would humanity be?

Everything You Wanted To Know About Owning A Lamborghini Countach

Admittedly, these questions were not high on my list. Harry Metcalfe has the answers to questions you haven’t even bothered to think about yet.

For example: what happens when one of your 345 wide Pirellis at the rear give it up on the go?

My question would be, “How much are the monthly payments?” The answer would be, “If you have to ask then you can’t afford it.”

A Clever And Cheap Way To Control iTunes From The Mac’s Menubar

To say that iTunes is a behemoth application is to deny reality. Just playing music can become a painful process with all those iTunes options staring you in the face. If less is more and small is beautiful, then Now Playing is the affordable, useful, pleasure-to-use anti-iTunes utility.

Click Now Playing in the Mac’s Menubar and this is what you see.

Now Playing

Nearly everything you want and need to have iTunes play your music without having to dig into iTunes is in Now Playing.

It displays the recently played list of songs, lets you share tracks to various social networks, lets you check song lyrics, and save them to iTunes. For OS X Yosemite users there’s also both light and dark modes.

Now Playing’s controls are simple; Play, Pause, Toggle Previous or Next track, volume control, ratings, plus the share controls. The Check Lyrics mode is manual, but you can edit the lyrics and click to save lyrics to the track in iTunes.

The app costs just a few dollars, but there’s no try-before-you-buy option (Thanks, Mac App Store, for making life so much easier for shoppers), and no option I can find to use or switch to a particular Playlist from iTunes.

The Mac Virus That Can’t Be Detected And Can’t Be Removed

This is scary. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes on what is called Thunderstike, a malware variant that uses the Mac’s Thunderbolt connector.

A security researcher has discovered a way to infect Macs with malware virtually undetectable and that ‘can’t be removed.’ The attack, which has been called Thunderstrike, installs the malicious code into the Boot ROM of the system via the Thunderbolt port.

This is a proof of concept malware, so it’s not actually living in the wild. What about a fix?

Apple is working on an update that will prevent malicious code from being written to the Boot ROM via the Thunderbolt port. However, this update would not protect the system from having the Boot ROM tampered with directly.

Of course, someone needs access to your Mac to make it happen.

2016 Buick Cascada

Autos has a few photos of Buick’s new 2016 Cascada convertible. It’s been awhile since Buick and ‘fun’ were used in the same sentence.

It’s been a quarter century since Buick last sold a convertible, but for 2016 it will bring this car to American shores, the Cascada. Designed by GM’s Opel unit in Germany, the Cascada is a 2+2 convertible powered by a 200-hp turbo four-cylinder, with a soft top that drops in 16 seconds. In a market where convertible models have been disappearing, the Cascada could find buyers who might otherwise not consider GM’s oldest brand.

Not so old looking, huh?

Buick Cascada

Are Aliens Watching Us?

Interesting video In Inquisitor from NASA’s Gemini 12 spacecraft in 1966 showing a few UFO’s hovering nearby.

Not one UFO but two glowing objects were spotted by UFO researchers this week in a NASA photo dating from 1966 — almost 50 years ago — showing the final mission of the Gemini space project. But were these UFOs actually alien spacecraft keeping a watchful eye of the progress of human history as mankind took its first baby steps into space? Or is this latest UFO “discovery” just a flaw in a NASA photo from five decades ago?

Ancient Astronaut Theorists want to know. Even the Bible provides plenty of evidence of extraterrestrials visiting earth.

The Sickest Ford

Sickest. That’s the word Chris Ziegler used to describe the new Ford GT.

The latest GT uses a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 making over 600 horsepower. Designed to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the car will go into production late next year for sale in “select global markets” — and needless to say, it won’t be cheap.

The GT will be made of aluminum and carbon fiber. No word on the price tag. Sickest is meant in a good way.

Ford GT

Sickest, indeed.

5 Ways I Keep My Mac Clean And Secure

We live in an insecure world. It’s been said that in a capitalist society, everyone is out to get your money. If not your money, your stuff. If not your stuff, your privacy. Here are a few basic steps I take to keep my Macs clean from trackers and hackers.

First on the list is a password and a non-administrative, non-root user account on my Mac. Complex passwords. When I walk away from my Mac it goes into lockdown mode and requires a password to re-enter. Safari’s password maker can help create a good one with multiple components– upper and lower case letters, numbers, symbols (more of the former, less of the latter two).

Second on the list is the Mac’s built-in firewall. By default, the firewall in OS X is turned off (which should tell you something about Apple’s confidence that Macs are not easy to hack). It’s in System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall. Set and use the options in the Firewall, including Stealth Mode. Then, in Advanced settings, set logout after x-number of minutes of inactivity, and require an administrator password to access system-wide preferences.

Third on my list is Onyx, a free Mac utility which helps to keep your Mac running just a bit better by checking the system file structure, and performing a number of maintenance tasks which should run automatically late at night (when my Mac is turned off).

There’s the added bonus of dozens of hidden and useful tweaks and features to customize OS X which can be turned on with a click, off with a click.

Fourth, there’s Cookie, a Mac utility which cleans browser tracks before, during, or after every browser session for Safari, Firefox, and Chrome (and other Mac browsers). Once setup, Cookie works automatically in the background to both manage and eliminate standard web cookies, Flash cookies, local storage options, web browser history, and much more.

Finally, I use Little Snitch. Think of it as reverse firewall. Instead of watching every incoming port, Little Snitch watches apps already on your Mac and tracks where and when they try to ‘phone home’ and make an internet connection without your knowledge. The controls are simple to setup and use (a bit annoying at first because many apps make network connections you don’t know about) and the security yet another layer for the semi-paranoid.

The number of hackers (mostly scripts and random access attempts) trying to get into your Mac seems to grow daily, so a few layers of security surely won’t hurt.

Nikola Tesla’s Predictions

Some of these are downright scary. Matt Novak compiled a list of predictions from genius Nikola Tesla (obviously influenced by extraterrestrials, as Ancient Astronaut Theorists believe).

We might complain that it’s 2015 and we’re still waiting on our hoverboards. But if Nikola Tesla were alive today, he’d probably wonder where the hell our fuel-free, super fast airplanes were. And who could blame him?

The January 30, 1926 issue of Collier’s magazine included an interview with the legendary inventor. In it, Tesla relayed his amazing predictions for the future — a world of flying machines, wireless power, and female superiority.

Female superiority? Alright, that explains Taylor Swift. Here’s Tesla’s thoughts on telecommunications.

When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.

We shall be able to witness and hear events—the inauguration of a President, the playing of a world series game, the havoc of an earthquake or the terror of a battle—just as though we were present.

When the wireless transmission of power is made commercial, transport and transmission will be revolutionized. Already motion pictures have been transmitted by wireless over a short distance. Later the distance will be illimitable, and by later I mean only a few years hence. Pictures are transmitted over wires—they were telegraphed successfully through the point system thirty years ago. When wireless transmission of power becomes general, these methods will be as crude as is the steam locomotive compared with the electric train.

Tough to argue with that perspective. He also thought we’d print newspapers in the home.

9 Things You Should Have Done Before 50

I like lists, but this is a whimsical list at best. From Ann Brenoff who probably compiled the list on a rainy Sunday afternoon just before a nap.

There are some things we are too young for and other things we are too old for. But there are some clear demarcations of things we should have done by the time we hit 50.

Some I’ve done, some I will, some I haven’t, some I won’t. Here’s the official Spoiler Alert!

  • Owned a matching set of big fluffy towels (seriously; that was #1)
  • Burned your candles (won’t happen)
  • Used your good china regularly (everyday)
  • Presever photo albums and scrapbooks from youth (too long ago)
  • Made peace with the past (working on it)
  • Found a best friend you can call 24/7 (she lives here)
  • Learned how to enjoy things by yourself
  • Been dazzled by a masterpiece (she married someone else)
  • Made a difference (still working on that)

Recharge A Smartphone In Minutes

Latest from CES is a charger that boosts a smartphone battery from near zero to full within minute. Leo Kelion:

A Samsung smartphone has just been recharged from being nearly out-of-juice to full capacity in less time than it takes to boil a kettle.

The Israeli start-up behind the demo, Storedot, has shown off a similar feat before.

But a previous demo posted online eight months ago involved a battery many times thicker than the handset itself as well as an outsized charger – making the tech impractical for real-world use.

This time round the phone involved is no bigger than normal, and the charging dock is pretty slim-line as well.

Progress.

2 Reasons iPad Sales Are In A Funk

Much has been written about Apple’s iPad in the past year, particularly regarding slumping sales, and dropping marketshare. Yet, the iPad remains the most used tablet on the planet. What gives? There seem to be two basic reasons iPad sales have fallen, yet iPad usage remains the highest among all tablets, despite marketshare losses the past two years.

The first reason has to do with the iPad itself. The diminutive device was an unqualified home run, quickly selling more units than the Mac, and selling much faster than the iPhone in the early years.

iPad sales plateaued, then dropped. What happened?

People keep their iPads longer than they keep their iPhones. That would account for slowing or plateauing sales. What about the drop? iPad usage remains very high among all tablets, but Apple has yet to offer the same compelling reasons to upgrade as frequently as iPhone users upgrade.

The iPad, after an initial wave of tremendous success, has fallen back into a more predictable pattern of sales and usage– much like the Mac. Apple’s iPad sells more than double the numbers of the Mac which is selling at record levels each quarter. Both are successes, one is merely falling into a pattern of sales, much like the other.

The second reason has to do with economics. An iPad supposedly does less than a Mac notebook, and that’s certainly true when comparing powerful applications such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite and others which play well to professionals and the enterprise.

Chromebook

From a pricing perspective, there’s little doubt the iPad faces stiff competition from new $200 Chromebooks and Windows PC notebooks. Granted, the quality of such devices falls below that of an iPad, and Apple’s tablet has far more applications from which to choose, but money is money, and $200 to $300 is throwaway money for tech gadgets these days, and the nearly three-year-old iPad mini starts at $249, and a well equipped iPad Air 2 can top $800.

That doesn’t mean the lack of killer new features or competition from cheaper Chromebooks or Windows PC notebooks will kill the iPad, but both forces will keep the iPad from becoming the success the iPhone enjoys now. Still, Apple’s slowing iPad business accounts for nearly double the revenue of the Mac product line.

Funk, yes. Flop, no.

An Insane Wireless Router

Add this to the ‘Must See To Believe‘ category. Bryan Bishop exposes the weirdest looking router of the year. From CES, of course.

The router in question is the D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router, and make no mistake: as these things go it’s more than solid. Six antennas, support for the latest 802.11 protocols, and speeds up to 3.2Gbps

Other than the number of antennas, specs are mostly pedestrian. What else?

But mostly it just looks bonkers. Think about it. Sitting on the corner of your desk. Plotting. Scheming. Biding its time. Waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that there really is a wireless router that would want to murder your entire family before diving through a transdimensional wormhole to plot the demise of an entire civilization.

But this would be the one.

Weird Router

5 Jobs To Make More Money Than Doctors

Interesting set of lists from Erika Rawes. That doctors and other professionals in the medical field make a lot of money each year isn’t news, but the list of those jobs that pay more is.

Jobs that can earn more than that $156,530 amount if they are on the higher end of the wage scale, in the 75th or 90th percentile. Higher-earning workers in each of these jobs may end up with a bigger pot than a doctor when all is said and done.

Spoiler Alert!

  • Sales (real estate, pharmaceutical)
  • Air Traffic Controllers
  • Engineering Managers
  • Petroleum Engineers
  • CEOs (is that really a ‘job’ in the same sense?)