Month: June 2016

Technology Transforming Future Generations

download (18)Nature Valley launched an ad campaign in early July that showed a huge difference between the generations alive today.

They asked 3 generations the same question: “When you were little, what did you do for fun?”

From the grandparents and parents you heard answers like berry-picking, growing watermelons, playing baseball, and building forts.

The children’s responses to the same question included video games, texting, sending email, and watching videos. Nature Valley didn’t stop there, though. They spread the gap even wider when asking the kids how long each day they spent on their electronics. They responded with at least 3 to 5 hours everyday and one little girl aged around 6 said she would “die” without her tablet, their tagline following: “Nature has always been a part of childhood.”

What changed from one generation to the next?

There are currently 6 living generations today:

  1. The Greatest Generation (1901-1926)
  2. Silents (1927-1945)
  3. Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
  4. Generation X (1965-1980)
  5. Generation Y/Millennial (1981-2000)
  6. Generation Z/Boomlets (after 2001)

Technology was introduced during Generation X and Generations Y and Z grew up not remembering a time without certain technologies. The technological revolution that brought along the first mac computers to cell phones to smartphones happened all within the short span of 42 years. Yet, already it seems that technology is changing the habits and lifestyle of future generations. It is a scary thought to think that for so many years prior to this revolution, generations grew up in nature and sent this tradition down, yet in less than a lifespan of the average human being, this healthy and natural way of being has virtually gone out the window (quite literally).

The Greatest Generation, Silents, Baby Boomers, and Generation X are the only generations alive today who remember a world without computers and cell phones. They are the ones who spent a majority of their childhood outdoors and did not have all the conveniences of life as we have them today (some of The Greatest Generation grew up without electricity, refrigerators, or air conditioning). In the 1950s the obesity rate in America was at 9%, but about 50 years later, after the technological revolution, this rate tripled to 33% and in 2006, not a single state reported obesity rates below 10%. An estimated 1 in 3 children are overweight in America today. Is this just a coincidence that as soon as generations starting becoming addicted to technology, obesity rates skyrocketed? While there are more factors to obesity than exercise (diet is also a huge factor), it seems as though children who spend up to 5 hours a day playing video games or texting on their cell phones are not prioritizing time outside of the house. Today, the typical child spends an average of 30 minutes outside per day.

Being outdoors has been proven to be beneficial for children’s body, mind, and spirit. Along with exercise building strong bodies, being outside in the sunlight provides essential vitamin D, which helps protect against future health issues with heart disease, bone problems, diabetes, and more. It can also be said that being outside can improve distance vision and help prevent nearsightedness (which is also a common issue today). Some studies have found that being in an environmental setting can extensively improve symptoms of ADHD, while an outdoor-style education can increase test scores and critical thinking skills. Another study shows that children’s stress levels decrease immediately when they see nature and playtime outside reduces the anxiety that come from the fast-paced, 24/7 world that technology provides.

Not only does technology steal most of the time children spend outside in nature, but there are a number of studies today that show other negative implications of continuously using electronic devices.

Addiction to some forms of technology are real medical conditions. One boy, around 6 years old, answered that sometimes he forgets that he has a family–parents, a sister, a dog–because he is so immersed in the virtual life of his video game. Nomophobia–the fear of being separated from your cell phone–is also a real term that many people feel everyday. Addiction to technology, just as addiction to anything, is considered a psychological disorder that is treatable. Addiction to video games, for example, is being treated as an “impulsive control disorder” along the same lines as compulsive gambling. Along with the side effects of any addiction such as depression or anxiety, addiction to technology also hinders social development.

Even more alarming studies today have claimed that certain technologies, such as cell phones, can physically cause harm to the body over time. Cell phones, while switched on, emit invisible electromagnetic radiation that is absorbed by the body. There has been much debate over a vast array of health effects of mobile radiation over the years including cancer, infertility, autism, learning disabilities, depression, hormonal imbalance, and more.

Currently in US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set a regulation for the specific absorption rate (SAR) of mobile radiation allowed to sell a cell phone in the marketplace. Today, phone companies are testing their SAR’s with a dummy designed after a 220 lb (100 kg), 6’2″ (1.88m) adult man. Clearly, this model doesn’t work well for children who may be a quarter of that size or less-in fact, Om Gandhi, a professor at the University of Utah, children absorb 10 times the amount of radiation that adults absorb. Even if the health effects associated with cell phone radiation haven’t been proven yet, it can’t be good to have your child constantly absorbing high amounts of electromagnetic radiation that is speculated to have these effects.

None of this is to say that you should unplug yourself or your children from technology entirely–some of it acts as a necessity in our society today. Without a computer and cell phone, almost all businesses would not be able to function. The important thing to take away from this information is to be cautious and healthy about the way you approach technology. Limiting time spent on electronic devices, making time to spend with your family outdoors, and remembering that we are just human beings, not robots controlled by technology, are important in leading a healthy lifestyle for you today future generations to come.

 

CD and DVD Printing and Packaging – Preparing Your Artwork

download (17)Creating Artwork for CD or DVD On-Body Printing

Always use a template

This sounds fairly obvious, but there are a few very good reasons why you should always design using a template.

1. If you’re printing onto a printable CDR or DVDR using an office inkjet printer then you need to carefully measure the printable area of your chosen disc because they can vary wildly in terms of exterior and interior diameter.

2. If you’re going to be supplying your completed CD or DVD artwork to a professional printing company then they will have their own printable area constraints for the particular brand of CD or DVD that they supply. In some instances the printer may print right up to the centre hole of the disc but other printers may prefer not to. Check with them before beginning your design work and ask for a template to be supplied.

3. A template supplied by a professional CD and DVD printing company will be at the correct resolution (300dpi to 400dpi) and will specify any additional requirements such as inner and outer limits for any text that is included in the artwork. There is often a requirement for text to be at least 3 to 4 mm clear of the inner and outer edges of the disc. Also, the acceptable file formats of the finished artwork will be specified.

4. Always allow for artwork bleed. If you can supply an artwork file for CD or DVD printing that allows an extra 2 or 3mm outside of the external and internal printable disc surface diameters then this is ideal.

Most of the artwork supplied to us by experienced packaging designers is a 124mm square artwork that contains all the pertinent features well inside the printable area of the CD or DVD.

In our experience, most project delays with artwork, occur because the designer wasn’t working to the correct printable disc area size or has supplied artwork at a resolution lower than 300dpi which would result in a poor quality print.

A Typical CD or DVD Template

Consider the Appropriate CD or DVD Printing Process

Screen Printing – If your design consists of solid block colours then the most effective print process for your CDs or DVDs would be screen printing. Screen printing involves producing fine mesh screens, one for each colour in the artwork, and then using a screen printing machine to apply UV light sensitive ink in the appropriate colour. This process can only apply up to 6 separate colours and should not be used where there is any colour gradient; the colour should always be solid and consistent.

If you’re design features any specialist ink requirements such as metallic ink or fluorescent ink, then this will be the process used and the rest of your artwork will need to conform to the requirements for screen printing.

Lithographic (Offset) Printing – For complex images, such as photographic images or artwork featuring colour gradients, litho printing is used. This process involves using a rubber sheet wrapped around a cylinder to transfer the ink from a printing plate to the disc. Very high resolution prints can be achieved using litho printing but there are still a few constraints to be aware of, such as:

    • Don’t use subtle colour gradients (transitions from one colour to another) over large areas. This can result in a “banded” print where there are not enough shades of colour to make a smooth transition from dark to light or colour to colour.

 

    • Don’t use photographs taken in poor light conditions, they may look cool and artistic on a computer screen but when printed the subtleties of a dark figure against a slightly lighter background will most probably be lost unless you alter the exposure of the photograph which will open up another can of worms.

 

  • Avoid having large areas of one, solid colour in designs destined for lithographic print. It can be very difficult to litho print a large, flawless block colour area and you would more than likely get inconsistencies.

Creating Artwork for CD or DVD Packaging

The process used to print onto cardstock packaging is a digital printing process. The card will normally have a semi-glossy silk finish as standard. The packaging can then be finished with a gloss or matt laminate if required, depending upon your artwork requirement. Some of the considerations for CD packaging or DVD packaging artwork are the same as for CD or DVD on-body artwork, such as not using subtle gradients over large areas and not using dark photograph images, but there are also a whole host of other considerations due to the variety of CD and DVD packaging available and how it is printed and manufactured.

Card Wallets

A typical template for a basic card wallet will have the front panel on the left hand side and the rear panel on the right with the spine area marked. There are variations available such as extra folded printable panels or a “gatefold” design where there is a printable panel to either side of the centre panel which houses the disc.

When designing artwork for card wallets, you will need to give some thought to the following:

    • Crossover images – If the artwork for the front and back of the wallet is a completely different colour then you will have a hard colour transition at the spine fold. Movement may occur during the digital print process which could cause slight misalignment of the front and rear images, so wherever possible, try to use images that blend into one another or use a consistent colour for front and rear artwork.

 

    • Creasing – If your artwork is very dark and particularly for black artwork, you can sometimes experience a “cracking” effect along the spine or folded edges of the card where the dark ink at the fold cracks away from the card and you see white card exposed beneath it along the crease. You need to run a test print and try carefully creasing the spine if you’re doing your own printing, to check whether your material will suffer from this effect. If you’re using a professional printing company ask to see samples of dark coloured, folded card packaging to check the creasing process used by your printer won’t cause this effect.

 

  • Text Position – Keep any text in your design at least 4 to 5 mm away from any edge in case of slight printing misalignment.

CD Jewel Case Booklets or DVD Case Booklets

Very often, CD or DVD packaging will require a booklet of some sort to accompany the disc. In the case of audio CDs they usually contain lyrics and acknowledgements of anyone who worked on the project. In the case of computer software supplied on CD or DVD, the booklet would contain instructions on how to use the software.

The printing material is obviously a lighter grade than that used to make card wallets but the same considerations need to be acknowledged.

    • A dark print needs to be creased correctly to prevent “cracking” as in the case of the card wallet folds.

 

    • Crossover images need to blend into one another, again, as with the card wallet

 

    • Text needs to be kept 4 to 5 mm away from any edge as well as the crossover edge down the booklet spine

 

    • When a booklet contains many pages, an effect known as “creep” occurs because of the bulk of the folded paper which causes the inner pages to extend further out than the outer pages when they are folded. The creep will vary as the number of pages and the paper thickness increases. The greater the number of pages in a booklet, the greater the need to ensure all text, graphics, images and objects are kept a minimum of 10 mm inside of the vertical trimmed edge.

 

    • If your booklet contains more than 2 printed panels bear in mind that booklets can only be made with page numbers that are a multiple of 4 (4,8,12,16 etc.) as each new sheet will have 4 printable panels.

 

  • When laying out the design for your booklet, consider carefully where each page should be positioned on the template. For example, in an 8 page booklet pages 1 and 8 will be printed on the same sheet with page 1 on the right and page 8 on the left. The rear side of this sheet will feature pages 2 and 7, with page 2 on the left and page 7 on the right.

Create a rough mock-up of your booklet before beginning the design work in order to understand clearly how pages are positioned in relation to one another when printed.

Digipack Printing

A digipack is a cardstock CD or DVD packaging solution with a plastic CD holding tray glued onto the inside right-hand panel, where the design is printed onto one side of the template.The template is then folded and glued to form a robust and stylish package. As with the Card Wallet above, you will need to consider the position of crossover images but also this is one packaging option where you will definitely need a template to understand how the panels that make up the finished product are positioned so that all images are correctly orientated.

In Summary

Hopefully, the information contained in this article will assist you in creating your CD or DVD disc and packaging artwork and help to eliminate some of the commonly made and potentially costly errors that are possible when embarking upon your first project of this kind.

Even for experienced disc art and packaging art designers there remains a need to check and double check that the artwork meets the printer’s requirements as different printers will often have different working parameters.

 

What You Need To Know About VPNs

download (16)VPNs make it possible for businesses and individuals to communicate and transmit data over a wide area network. The cool thing with VPNs is that you are able to send private information over public channels. Since VPN relies on WAN connections, computers connected to the network don’t need to be physically nearby-they can be countries or even continents apart and they will communicate perfectly.

Types of VPNs

There are many types of VPNs with the main ones being:

Virtual private dial-up network (VPDN). This is a user-to-LAN connection where users have to connect to the company LAN. As a company owner, you need to set up a NAS (network access server) and then provide your users with software that will enable them to reach the NAS from their computers.

You should note that this type of VPN requires a third party to provide encryption services.

Site-to-site VPN: as a company owner you have to invest in dedicated hardware that will make it possible for your multiple sites to connect to your LAN through the public network. It’s good to note that most of the site-to-site VPNs are extranet or intranet-based.

Benefits of VPN

There are a good number of benefits that come with VPNs. These benefits include:

Business application: if you have a business you are able to maximize the businesses efficiency courtesy of VPN. Using VPN your employees are able to connect to the computers in the office network using their personal computers at home. The employees are able to access messages, documents and other information. This ensures that the employees don’t have to wait to report to the office to start working-they can work from home.

In addition to employees being able to access information from home, different office branches can connect to the VPN and share confidential information securely.

Protection: as a regular consumer you can use VPN to access Wi-fi or other loosely secured network. The cool thing with accessing Wi-fi using VPN is that you add a layer of protection against information theft.

Conclusion

This is what you need to know about VPN. You should note that while the network is great to use, it tends to reduce your transfer speeds due to the additional network overhead involved. It’s also challenging to set it up for the first time as a novice. For ideal results, you should hire a professional to do the work for you.

VPNs have been around for a long time. The unfortunate thing is that you need to pay to use them. We have a free VPN that allows you to encrypt your data free of charge.

 

Apple Watch – First Impression

download (15)Apple Watch has been around for a few months. Well, in some countries at least. It arrived here, in Thailand in mid-July and I made sure I got it on the first day it became available. So, after calling all the people I know have anything to do with Apple, I got it reserved. Into a car right after work, 2 hours in traffic, another 30 minutes to find a parking spot and another 20 to find the shop and… I was finally able to put my hand of the watch. Or rather, to put Apple Watch on my hand.

The first thing you want to do it to link it to your iPhone and start playing with it but… you need to be patient. It takes a few good minutes to boot. It seems like forever as you want to play with your new Apple Watch right away. After all, this is very different from any other Apple product.

So, 5 minutes passed and I was at last able to play with my new toy. First thing I wanted to do was to check the watch faces. I expected 20 or 30 faces and was given a choice of just 10! Just 10 faces is not enough and, to be honest, they are not that exciting. Modular face is what I went for as you are able to add 5 complications to it. So I added things I use more often, namely weather, calendar, date, activities and battery status.

Next, let’s have a look at the apps. There are some apps preloaded and more and more apps have the Apple Watch version now. You can upload apps to your watch via iPhone. The process is smooth and very fast. The menu of the apps might be a bit confusing in the beginning. All those little circles moving around might be something overwhelming at first but you will get used to it. And soon you will realize that it is probably the best possible layout. A long list of apps would not, most likely, work well. Also, you can change the layout of the apps on your iPhone. You should place the apps you will be using most often closer to the center for easier access.

On your hand, Apple Watch feels good, it is light, touchscreen works very well. Overall, the user experience is great. If only we had more faces and apps that run natively on the watch it would have been perfect. Yes, now the apps run on the iPhone and are mirrored on your Apple Watch. Because of this, they are sometimes slow to load. However, it should all change with WatchOS 2.0 where the faces will open for the developers and apps will run natively on the Apple Watch.