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Dell P649N Battery www.all-laptopbattery.com

As with Corel PaintShop Pro, the default workspace is pretty cluttered, especially on a laptop. You can lose some of the palettes to make room to work – click for a larger image
Layers and masks work in a way that’s more familiar to Photoshop users than Corel’s. Vector masks are supported, but you can’t load or save clipping paths, despite the presence of a Paths palette. Warp Studio is a direct equivalent of Photoshop’s Liquify, while Cutout Studio provides good tools for creating and refining selections, although it only works in 8-bit mode; 16-bit editing is supported for most operations.You can also work in Lab colour mode, preferred by some retouchers, but the only CMYK support is an option to export CMYK TIFFs. Colour management and soft proofing support is even more basic than PaintShop Pro’s, though adequate for most purposes. Macros and batch processing are available.Lab mode enables you to edit the luminance of an image independently of its colour, a useful technique, although many tools are greyed out in this mode and in 16-bit RGB – click for a larger image
Compared to PaintShop Pro, Serif’s app feels a little more approachable, especially if you’re used to Photoshop, but less feature-packed and slower in complex operations. Its superior raw processing may be a deciding factor.

It’s also worth mentioning that having your users work at home during a crisis is a particularly useful concept if the users themselves are part of the problem. I’ve seen a surprising number of businesses (particularly small- and low-end-medium ones) knocked sideways by an outbreak of one or other of the sickness-and-diarrhoea bugs that do the rounds from time to time. If you suddenly find that 20 per cent of your people are out of action because they’re terrified of being more than ten feet from the bog, it’s not a bad idea to send some of the others home to work before they’re struck down and unable to perform.Home working does have its downsides, of course – namely that everyone’s spread over the space of several square miles and productivity is usually impacted as a result of the reduced intra-company communication. In a business-continuity context it does keep you going, though, which is what we care about.

The other thing you need to consider is how you interact with your customers and suppliers. For telecoms you need to ensure you have a means of diverting calls to staff members’ mobile devices, but that’s not generally a hard thing to do. What’s often forgotten in a business-continuity scenario, though, is that if you can’t get to the office then neither can your customers or suppliers – so if you’re a very face-to-face business you’ll need to think about how you can substitute electronic systems for that personal contact. This could be desktop video-conferencing and electronic white-boarding, but similarly it might just be that you talk to your key clients and rearrange your interactions so that while you’re having your premises crisis you concentrate on the bits of the contract that require less personal interaction.There is one more thing you can do in a crisis, by the way: accept it and tell everyone to go to the pub. Actually I don’t really mean everyone – you’ll need a small skeleton crew to deal with managing and monitoring the crisis, handling key communications with staff, suppliers, customers and perhaps the emergency services. But in fact in the early days of a crisis it can be better to have a dozen or so core people remain while everyone else goes home than to have everyone waiting to be told what to do. By all means send people home, so long as you’re sure you can contact them once you have something to tell them, so you can focus on the matter in hand.

What I’ve given you in this feature is little more than a few ideas that you can take away to your colleagues: the thing to do is brew a big pot of fresh coffee, break out the flipchart and sit for a couple of hours asking questions starting with: “What if?”If you find yourself starting to fret then you need to appoint someone to own your business continuity strategy and spend some time and money creating and managing one properly.Business continuity is an industry in itself – as well as being part of internally focused business continuity teams, I’ve also taken part in full-blown exercises where we’ve spent entire days sitting in our business continuity premises working through imaginary scenarios with real people and real systems.GDS had four goals for government, according to its deputy director. It would “fix publishing” – by creating a single domain for government publications, rewriting content to make it more accessible and more widely used.However, GOV.UK has been strongly criticised for confusing users and making government information less accessible. GDS’ own staff described transitions to GOV.UK as “a nightmare”.

GDS would also “fix transactions”, with Mike Bracken CBE promising that GDS would take 25 of the most-used “exemplar” services, and by March 2015 turn them into services “so good, people prefer to use them”."Government need outweighs user need every every time. And the way around that is by making sure the product is so useful and so beautiful it cannot be ignored," Bracken told a US audience in 2013. [video]“The Cabinet Office has not hit its target of 25 exemplar services being live by March 2015, despite the budget of the Government Digital Service increasing from £9.7m in 2011/12 to £23.3m in 2013/2014. Spending by GDS on IT specialists has also notably increased in the last financial year, with a spend of £7.9m recorded in the latest data available,” Labour’s report (pdf) noted.Only by “marking its own homework” did GDS turn alphas into betas, and betas into “finished” services, and then only hurriedly, after Labour pointed out it had missed its own target by a mile.Today, few of the exemplars are truly operational or transformative. One, the “Digital Self Assessment exemplar”, is simply an email sign-up. Another, the digital front end to subsidy payments for farmers – touted by Bracken as a show-piece for GDS’ agile skills – has been scrapped, after its users reverted to paper and telephone en masse.

GDS furthermore promised that a new identity system would underpin UK government transactions with citizens, but it also failed to deliver this.For now, both the Conservative and Labour parties continue to support the fourth GDS objective, “go wholesale”: become a software factory and box-ticker for regional public sector IT. This has been the focus of GDS strategy this year.Our publication of the external consultants’ report into culture and management should make them assess whether GDS is fit for purpose in achieving this fourth ambition, of “government as a service”. Or whether, as some now openly argue, the same goal can be achieved much more cheaply by the use of industry standard tools, parts and practices – and without the box-tickers. The last of Acer’s new notebooks was the ruggedised Chromebook CB3-531 with a 15.6in display, 16GB storage and Intel Celeron dual-core N2830 processor, all weighing around 2kg. Turning its back on the industry trend to sacrifice hardware connectivity for form factor, this Chromebook still comes with USB 2 and USB 3 ports, an HDMI socket and SD card slot. The product will cost a thoroughly reasonable €249 / $199, in Europe from June and North America in July.

In fact, Acer has made a conscious decision to keep the faith with hardware ports. It remains company policy to keep providing 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports on all its business Windows notebooks, we note.For the gaming sector, Acer presented a new 34in 21:9 ultra wide monitor offering 3440×1440-pixel resolution, memorably named the XR341CKA. Its unique feature is being curved on the horizontal axis in a concave fashion, supposedly giving a more immersive experience for the serious gamer. It will cost a not-inconsiderable €1,399 / $1,299, reaching European shores in August and North America in September.Also on show were Acer’s other gaming displays, including the IPS-based XB270HU, which came out earlier this year. To our eyes, it looked as sharp as a scalpel while running full-res animated sequences.For other gaming hardware, however, Acer was restricted to promises. There will be a new Predator gaming “desktop” PC – albeit one so large and hideous that you’ll definitely want to keep it on the floor – but not until Q3 this year. A similarly huge and ghastly looking Predator notebook, a preproduction model of which was flashed briefly during the keynote but not put on demonstration, should arrive in Q4. It is, as we were told many times, “awesome”, although much of the bulk of this gaming notebook looked as if it might be the cooling system.

Looking like Maximilian from The Black Hole, the promised Predator desktop gaming PC could have done a lot worse by looking like Old Bob
PIC: [predator-desktop.jpg] CAPTION: Looking like Maximilian from The Black Hole, the promised Predator desktop gaming PC could have done a lot worse by looking like Old BobYet another tease flashed from the stage was a Predator gaming tablet, built to include four speakers and provide haptic feedback. No price was given, nor any idea of what games might be available to take best advantage of whatever a Predator gaming tablet does better than other tablets. It should become available in Q3.The company’s shiny little Revo One could easily be mistaken for a NAS drive but is a fully fledged PC with two 2.5-inch drive bays. It has been given a software upgrade to support its emerging cloud platform, Acer Open C+C 3.0.According to Acer, the whole IoT market was going nowhere fast other than in the minds of futurists, so it released this platform to encourage more developers to get involved in something Acer calls BYOC: Build Your Own Cloud. So far, Intel, MediaTek, RealTek and several others are looking at putting it into chipsets for IoT devices.

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