Saturday, December 31, 2011

As the world turns...

Well, here it is, the end of another year, and the blogernets will be overflowing with 'What a Year That Was' posts....

It's true we'll never see another like it, simply cos you can't go back (unless you're the Doctor's companion). But the world keeps turning and the sun will rise on 2012 without a jolt or murmur. Yet I will look back briefly, just to see if the monsters have stopped their chase...

I didn't make any new year's resolutions 12 months ago, so I can score 100% for not failing any. That's a good way to start. I'm still alive, and for a guy who has in the past been a step away from depression-related suicide that's also a bonus, although 2011 was not by any means a bad year. I can count my blessings.

For starters I have a wife who has stood by me through difficulties, slow times, unsure times and poor times. Love can inspire passion, but at bedrock it is patient, kind, forgiving, loyal, selfless and hopeful. I can't ask for more.

Work has been slow, with occasional photoshoots (I got to shoot the World's Greatest Treasurer...) and some steady delivery work to bring in the $$. So I'll be looking for something that can inspire me and be enjoyable while earning me a crust.

I've helped some groups and people get books published, and put out some 2012 calendars of my own work.

My trusty iMac crashed, so I had to replace that, which made me think what can I do on an iPad? Is it an expensive toy, or can I do my work on it? After a slow start where the apps seemed geared towards fun rather than functionality, I'm getting to discover that some serious work can be done, even on the original iPad (which is what I got).

I'm a photographer (among other things) so I've been playing with photo apps, and let me tell you, good ones are thin on the ground. The usual suspects are fine and fun - Camera+ and Instagram are great for the 'retro' look that's a craze on the internet. But I need something with a bit more bite, as I usually work with Photoshop, and those apps don't have the chops.

First up I tried Photogene, which has some good controls built in  - but runs out of puff before the finish line. A good try nonetheless. Then, hidden in the deep dark recesses of an app review, was PhotoForge2. Now we have controls for curves, levels, brightness/contrast, HSL, vibrancy, Unsharp Mask, white balance, and more. There's also a plethora of presets that people expect nowadays, to replace photoshop 'actions'. In the mix is a range of camera, film, lens, filter, flash, developer and paper choices! And layers, this app does layers! And it also comes with a multi-level undo. Now this is more like it! All this for $10, and it replaces more than 90% of what I would do in photoshop.

As a printer, I relied heavily on the Pantone PMS colour matching system. The print world revolves around it. But a PMS colour book costs hundreds of dollars, and there's more than one needed. So of course now there's a cheap app from Pantone with all that on board. One gripe I have is you can't do a search, typing in 330 and getting the colour and breakdown with it - seriously, why not? But it does have a good touch for designers, photographers, printers and decorators, you can upload a photo (of say a shop interior) and it will hunt up the PMS colours in that photo. Great for web designers and interior decorators etc. Get it!

For audio work, which  do occasionally for my radio show, I've got most bases covered, except for a decent replacement for Audacity, but I'm hopeful! I have Dragon for converting speech to text, Speak It for converting text to speech, and Translator who knows why as our guests are all English speaking, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. But I do need an app to do serious editing work on sound files and export as mp3's. I'll probably find one next week...

As for fun, I look to the early days of PC games and came up with Retro Pinball, which is Epic Pinball rebuilt for the iPad - seriously awesome :) Then to top it off, I came across that psycho pair, Sam n Max in the game The Penal Zone. Who could ask for more?

So with all its ups and downs, the year hasn't been too bad. The thing is, a lot of this stuff is just things. And things come and go. There's more important stuff that makes life worth living. So when I put my iPad down, life doesn't just stop! People are important, relationships go on, they sustain you, help you think and grow, and come with their own rewards. And above all that, there's a God who has proved to me that he will 'never leave me or forsake me'. He's there in the bright sunlight, he's there in the darkest pit. If I turn my back on him, I can't see him, but he's still there, guarding my back. That's my greatest treasure.

All the best for 2012.

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Keep it nice :) or get kicked out :(