From DT Online
It is the use of images where perhaps knowing the material in this way can have greatest impact. It is not unusual for even quite experienced ICT users to load images from a scanner or digital cameras directly into a 'PowerPoint' presentation and then be surprised that the resulting file size is several tens of megabytes and far too large to email or post on the Internet – and Broadband is not the answer!
Features and Applications
Competent users who understand the nature of the material would first ‘cut it to size’ by importing the images into software such as PaintShopPro, XaraX, CorelDraw (or the free GIMP or BIMP offerings) to reduce it and optimise the colour palette for Internet use. There is simply no point storing an image at a higher resolution than the intended display medium can support and monitor screens do not demand nearly as much as a printer does. So 800 to 1200 pixels wide and saving as a JPEG or GIF can result in a 'PowerPoint', from needing to be posted on a CD to one which can be emailed (50Mb down to 1Mb is really not that unusual using these techniques – 'PowerPoint' may look as though it has resized the image but actually stores it at full size!). For a more complete treatise on using images on the Internet see - http://www.blunham.demon.co.uk/WebImages/
The most common ‘raw’ materials for use in CAD software are the Data Exchange File (DXF) and, more recently, the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format. These are a Vector file formats which mean they scale well because they comprises essentially a list of instructions on how to plot lines on screen. Most CAD software will export and import DXF (and, increasingly, SVG). The free download from www.emachineshop.com for example, enables drawings and 3D representations to be created very easily which, if exported as DXF, can be imported into 'TechSoft Designer', for example, where its facility easily to output to a CNC machine can be exploited.
The ‘IKEA Kitchen planner’ (and Officer planner) software from http://kitchenplanner.ikea.com/gb/UI/Pages/VPUI.htm sadly will save only as a Bitmap (BMP) in addition to the IKEA native format. Bitmaps (which contain a catalogue of how every pixel on screen should behave) can be imported into most paint-type software from where they really should be converted to a GIF, JPEG or similar before they are of any use, because of the very large file size of a bitmap – still not bad for a free download however!
Images provide some examples of how understanding this new material can help us create new products in new ways – both in their own right, as enhanced presentations and graphics products, and also as part of a process leading to high quality CNC-produced components.
New materials and processes bring new challenges, not least to the examination boards, who must now come to terms with how they might react when a student presents an ICT-generated portfolio describing a largely CNC created end product. It would be unfair to dismiss it and ludicrous to insist on an arbitrary proportion of hand-crafted anomalies to justify an outdated system. Students may no longer be limited to what they can make but liberated to contemplate what can be made. In such circumstances more emphasis can be placed on questions such as should it be made, is it worthwhile or sustainable.
- Single Core processors are hardly ever available these days and Dual Core quite adequate (unless required for gaming and video editing etc.) but Quad Core would be better especially in view of the high graphics content likely to be needed for Design and Technology use.
- Generally, the more expensive and newer processors and faster and more power efficient (although faster will almost always mean shorter battery life). Intel Core i5 and AMD Series-A8 processors or better are first choice but older Pentium or less expensive Celeron may be OK if only basic use is envisaged and speed is not a critical factor but cost is an issue.
- Laptops for Design and Technology should have at least 4Gb of RAM (preferably 8Gb), 500Gb (preferably 1Tb) Hard Drive (but SSD is better), screen resolution of no less than 1600 × 900 pixels and Dedicated Graphics Card in addition to the usual network connections.
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