A World Within a World: Singapore’s Unusual Biodomes

I enjoyed reading this blog and wanted to share it. I have not had the opportunity to visit these biodomes yet myself, but I will definitely have them on my list when I return to Singapore next year.

K.L. Kranes, Writing Reading Life

Mirror rabits flower domeIn one world, Alice ponders a giant mushroom inside an arid wonderland. Two rabbits mirror each other with claws up as if fighting their own reflections. The scent of flowers fills the air.

In the lost world next door, a skyscraper sized waterfall beats against the ground. Mystical sculptures hide within a tangle of exotic plants. The paleolithic era of giant plants and vines weaves up a mountain.

These are the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, two separate worlds encased in a half- moons of glass on the edge of Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. Both magical and beautiful biodomes evoke an ancient, organic sensation nestled in with fairy tale and science fiction. Upon entering each world, it is as if you’ve been transported to an experimental outpost on Mars built by people with an interesting sense of humor.

The Flower Dome

purple flower, flower domeApproximately mid-way through our trip to Singapore…

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macOS New App Release – PDF Converter OCR for Mac V6.2.0

Product Announcements Cisdem of Madelia, Minnesota has released PDF Converter OCR for Mac V6.2.0 their new release that’s compatible with MacOS 10.14 Mojave.

With the official release of MacOS Mojave on Sep 24, more and more Mac users have upgraded to this great new version. And to allow Mojave users utilize Cisdem PDF Converter OCR without any trouble, the Cisdem team devoted themselves to such an update immediately after the official release of Mojave, and it is available NOW.

Cisdem PDF Converter OCR for Mac, which was originally developed in 2013, is a Mac program helping users to convert native, scanned, even protected PDF files into Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel), to iWork (Keynote, Pages), to eBook (Text, ePub), to web HTML and to image formats. With its OCR feature, this program also enables users to copy or extract text from images, to make scanned PDF files editable and searchable in different formats. To meet users’ needs of generating PDFs from existing resources, Cisdem even integrates the capability of creating PDFs, making this tool an all-round solution for PDF conversion.

New Features:
Cisdem PDF Converter OCR V6.2.0 is now available for MacOS Mojave. Users who work on MacOS 10.14, 10.13, 10.12, 10.11 and 10.10 can apply this PDF tool to deal with all kinds of task regarding PDF conversion.

Key Features:

  1. Convert all types of PDF into 16 formats
    Users can convert native, scanned or protected PDF files into Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Text, RTFD, Keynote, Pages, HTML, ePub, JPG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PNG and searchable PDF;
  2. Convert Images
    The OCR function enables users to convert image to editable text or other formats, even to searchable PDF;
  3. Create PDF
    Users can generate PDFs from Word, PowerPoint, ePub, HTML, Images, CHM and so on. During the creation process, users can merge, compress or protect the PDF file;
  4. Batch Conversion
  5. Select pages for conversion
  6. Preview files
  7. Recognize 27 languages
    The OCR features covers all the popular languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, French, Deutsch, Japanese, Arabic, etc. For users who want to OCR files in more languages, visit here to download;
  8. Preserve original file quality
    The formatting, layout or image resolution will be preserved highly, that’s to say, the output file will look the same as original as highly as possible.

Pricing and Availability:
Cisdem PDF Converter OCR V6.2.0 is now available on the official website and users can download the free trial. With $59.99, users can get a lifetime license of Cisdem PDF Converter OCR, including a free service to get lifetime upgrades.

macOS New App Release – Front Page 1.0

Product AnnouncementsFrozenPepper of Pisa (Pisa), Italy has released Front Page 1.0 for the Mac. It allows users to setup and customize their very personal newspaper. Configure categories of news from RSS and Twitter sources so to have your daily news highly customized and always up to date.

Integrated Twitter API allows users to plug timelines, lists and even their home feed into one or multiple news categories, native-like and retweet buttons allowing them to interact with tweets, and an integrated web browser grants you access to twitters full power while OpenWeatherMap.org data provides weather forecasts at your fingertips.

Some features:

  • RSS, Atom, and JSON feeds supported
  • Twitter
  • Can mix RSS and Twitter news sources into single news categories
  • Integrated Image viewer for tweets and feeds images.
  • Integrated webkit web browser with “private” mode support.
  • Large builtin library of RSS feeds to immediately start composing your newspaper.
  • RSS support integrated into OsX, click on RSS feed links in your favorite browser and add them to Front Page library.

Front Page was born out of our personal needs, we use it and love it. More features and “tunings” are already planned and will come with time, but we would love to hear your suggestions, feedback and bug reports, so reach us out on Facebook, Twitter, or email us.

We are more than open to provide promo codes for journalists who want to give our app a try, reach out to us and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

System Requirements:

  • macOS 10.13 or later
  • 64-bit processor
  • 25.5 MB

Pricing and Availability:
Front Page 1.0 is just $3.99 USD (or an equivalent amount in other currencies) and is available worldwide exclusively through the Mac App Store.


Book Review: “Changeling”


Book Reviews – “Changeling” eBook was published in 2018 and was written by Molly Harper (https://www.mollyharper.com/). Ms. Harper has published more than thirty novels. This is the first in her “Sorcery and Society” series.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’. The story is set in an alternate history of sorts where magic is possible. The primary character is 14-year-old Cassandra Reed, aka Sarah Smith.

In this timeline, those with magic have risen up and taken over the world. Those without magic, the Snipes, are ‘taken care of’ by those with magic. Those with magic grow richer and more powerful, while the Snipes simply become servants and tradesman.

Smith is a Snipe and has grown up living in the Warren. She and her family serve the magical and powerful Winters family. Once Smith accidentally demonstrates a magical ability of her own, things change. Snipes are not ever supposed to have the ability to use magic. Smith, has the ability and it is powerful. The Winters change her looks and enroll her as a distant cousin in Miss Castwell’s Institute for the Magical Instruction of Young Ladies.

The Winters foster the coverup as it would be just as devastating to them as to Smith and her family for the truth to get out. Smith struggles at the school having to deal with snobby girls. She finally finds a couple of friends there who are each an outcast in their own way. Her jealous sister threatens their subterfuge and everyone is threatened by a witch that wants to raise the dead and use that army to take over the world.

I enjoyed the 7+ hours I spent reading this 271-page young adult fantasy. The characters were interesting and the plot, while not new, was well implemented. I did think that the end to the story came more quickly that it could have. The final confrontation might have been strung out a little more. Certainly, a firm footing is laid for follow-on novels in the series. The cover art is OK, but a scene from the story would have been better in my opinion. I give this novel a 4.4 (rounded down to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide

BeginnersGuideLinux – I recently saw that the Raspberry Pi Press has just released its official “Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide”. This 244-page book is intended to get the reader started with their Raspberry Pi. As they say:

From setting up your Raspberry Pi on day 1 to taking your first steps into writing coding, digital making, and computing, The Official Raspberry Beginner’s Guide is great for users from age 7 to 107!

You can order a hard copy of the book through the Raspberry Pi Press store (£10.00) with free international delivery. If you are willing to settle for an electronic copy, you can download the PDF for free. I have downloaded the PDF and look forward to reading it on my iPad.

Just in case you have been living in a cave somewhere, the Raspberry Pi is:

a small, clever, British-built computer that’s packed with potential. Made using the same technology you find in a smartphone, the Raspberry Pi is designed to help you learn to code, discover how computers work, and build your own amazing things.

One of the great things about the Raspberry Pi is that they are very inexpensive. If you search Amazon, you will find various kits and versions of the Raspberry Pi starting from $27. They are also available in Fry’s Electronic Stores if you are lucky enough to have one of those close by.

The book and the hardware would be a great Christmas present for the clever kid (of any age) in your family.

macOS New App Release – QuickLicense Server 2.0


Product Announcements Excel Software of Henderson, Nevada has announced QuickLicense Server 2.0 for macOS and Windows. A developer can generate a vendor-branded, floating license system for their Mac, Windows or Linux applications. Vendors enjoy royalty-free distribution for any number of products or licenses. Version 2 was enhanced for the new QuickLicense 9, new Mac and Windows OS changes add Code Signing of the generated Server and Monitor applications and use 64-bit macOS Mojave compliant executables.

A floating license system consists of a License Server, License Monitor and Protected Applications. The License Monitor is used by a customer to securely configure the Server IP address and Port, change the number of purchased licenses or monitor server operation. The License Server silently manages the number of allowed concurrent Apps in use on a customer network.

The QuickLicense Server Windows edition generates Server and Monitor applications that run on any Windows 7, 8 or 10 computer. It can manage protected Apps running on macOS, Windows or Linux computers connected to that network. Likewise, QuickLicense Server on macOS generates a License Server and Monitor application that runs on any macOS computer with 10.10 or later and serves macOS, Windows or Linux Apps.

The MakeServer application provided by the QuickLicense Server product generates the Server and Monitor Apps using a 10-minute point and click process. The macOS, Windows or Linux Apps are protected with QuickLicense using a programming API or point and click wrapping process. QuickLicense can protect and license almost any software including a business application, Unity3D game, MAX MSP music application, Excel workbook, MS Access project, FileMaker application or Adobe plugin. The system also works with DocProtect to protect PDF files, slideshows, video, audio, and EPUB files or compiled HTML based applications.

A developer can brand the License Server and Monitor applications with their own file names, icons, user presented Monitor window and dialog text customizations and security features. Vendors can offer and price their products with various numbers of floating licenses. Additional licenses can be securely added to the License Server running at a customer site by typing a code into the License Monitor.

Since QuickLicense Server requires no programming, new revenue streams can quickly be added for existing software products. Applications can be licensed to meet the needs of an organization. Customers enjoy the ability to use floating licenses across all computers on their network with minimal administrative effort and no Internet access required.

QuickLicense Server 2.0 is $995 for a Single User License on either Windows 7, 8 or 10 or macOS 10.10 or later. The product includes a User Guide with a step-by-step tutorial. Excel Software provides online demonstration videos, detailed product information, free technical support, and secure online ordering. QuickLicense Server can be purchased through the website.

Singapore, Singapore – Black Tap


Food – A good friend here in Singapore recommended the Black Tap restaurant. We have now been there twice and have really enjoyed it. The Black Tap is located in the Marina Bay Sands Mall. Officially the address is 2 BAYFRONT AVE, SINGAPORE 018972. I didn’t realize it when I was there that the Black Tap is a chain of restaurants out of New York City.


The Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino are shown above, with the Mall spread out at its base. The Black Tap is actually located at the near end of the Mall (building with the curved roof) shown in the photo above.


It is one of the many shops and restaurants in the Mall. Notice at the bottom of the photo above you can see the ‘canal’ that goes through the center of this section of the Mall. It is complete with gondolas that you can purchase rides on.


Exploring the Mall alone is worth a trip to the Marina Bay Sands.


But we had come to the Mall specifically to dine. I chose the Steak Au Poivre Burger (a Blue Cheese Burger) with fries. It was very good.


My wife had the Baja Grilled Chicken Sandwich with fries, which she enjoyed. While these, and the other items on the menu, were good, they were not why we visited the Black Tap.

The Black Tap also specializes in Crazyshake Milkshakes. If memory serves me, we ordered the Cookies ‘N Cream Supreme Oreo Shake (vanilla frosted rim with crushed Oreos topped with a ‘cookies ’n cream’ sandwich, crumbled oreo, whipped cream & chocolate drizzle) and the Sweet N’ Salty Peanut Butter Shake (chocolate frosted rim with chocolate gems & PB cups topped with a sugar daddy, pretzel rods, chocolate covered pretzel, whipped cream & chocolate drizzle). These are just two of the eight shake masterpieces that are available.


We were lucky to have a seat where we could look over to where the shakes were being made. What better entertainment! Dining at the Black Tap is an experience I am sure I will repeat and I recommend it to anyone.

Read my other Food & Location articles


Flash Fiction: Server on the Rack

Flash Fiction – I thought this was an interesting idea and the Flash Fiction worth sharing.

Aethereal Engineer

Did you know a human mind, extracted and cheaply modified, outperforms microprocessors?

I didn’t.

Then I was brain-jacked in Taipei.

Just another missing tourist. Just another server on the rack, your Snapchats and Tweets running through my mind.

…As I scream.

Copyright © 2018 by Jason H. Abbott, All Rights Reserved.

Discover more of my Aethereal Musings.

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macOS New App Release -DEVONagent 3.11

20181108 DEVONagent Pro 3.11

Product Announcements DEVONtechnologies of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho has updated its smart research tool DEVONagent. The update brings compatibility to macOS Mojave, reorganized search sets, and updated search plugins. New plugins becoming available are installed and updated automatically. The update for all three editions of DEVONagent is free and recommended for all users.

DEVONagent is DEVONtechnologies’ web research solution for the Mac. It finds information searching multiple sources in one go and applying powerful filters to the retrieved data. The presented results can be further processed and saved to the internal archive or handed over to other applications, e.g. DEVONthink. DEVONagent also offers a range of automating options to run searches unattended. It adds found data to the user’s archive or sends reports by email.

Sophisticated research tools, AI-based techniques that handle even the largest result sets, and a high degree of integration and automation make DEVONagent the #1 web research tool on the Mac for scientists, lawyers, engineers, and educators.

  • Get pre-filtered, organized results from many sources
  • View and analyze the results the way you want
  • Create reports in many formats
  • Save searches so you can continue later
  • Run searches unattended to stay up-to-date on important subjects

New in DEVONagent 3.11:
Version 3.11 reorganizes search sets into groups. Search sets store search settings, plugins, sites, and more that can be quickly reused for similar searches. Grouping them allows to create more search sets for various use cases without cluttering menus or losing track.

In addition, version 3.11 updates the Mac News, Mac Software, and Marketing example search sets, the Qwant, Yandex, Google Blog Search, Google Patent and various world news plugins. The Thumbnail Galleries scanner received an overhaul as well. Plugins connect DEVONagent to search engines; scanners post-process the search results by e.g. looking for images, RSS feeds, webcams, or thumbnail galleries.

New search sets and plugins can be automatically installed and updated now as they become available. DEVONagent Pro 3.11 also cleans up the editor for search sets by combining the Advanced and Exclude tabs.

Search sets are part of what makes DEVONagent Pro powerful for professional researchers. Whatever the topic for the search is, search sets run them on multiple search engines, add some sites to crawl to the mix, and post-filter the results. And they are where automation happens: DEVONagent Pro can run search sets regularly, archive them, hand them over to AppleScript scripts, or deliver them to, e.g., DEVONthink. With this release we’ve made it even easier to work with search sets tailored at even the most specialized needs,” comments Eric Bohnisch-Volkmann, President of DEVONtechnologies.

Other improvements in DEVONagent Pro 3.11 include better automatic selection of web page content, improved keyboard navigation in lists, and enhanced VoiceOver support. The new version also handles RSS feeds more efficiently, and filters and retrieves links better. It also uses the rendered web page, instead of the underlying HTML code, as a more accurate source for See Also, translation, and scripting. Finally, version 3.11 uses a new web service for generating web page thumnails and fixes some bugs and minor issues.

The updates for all three editions of DEVONagent are free for existing users and highly recommended.

System requirements: OS X Yosemite or later

Availability and Pricing:
All editions can be downloaded from DEVONtechnologies online and be test-driven for free before they need to be licensed. The applications are also available in the App Store; DEVONagent Pro and Express can be purchased in bundles with DEVONthink in DEVONtechnologies’ online shop.

  • DEVONagent Pro: US $49.95 (App Store: $49.99)
  • DEVONagent Express: US $4.95 (App Store: $4.99)
  • DEVONagent Lite: free

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