Trending December 2023 # 8 Structures That Were Impossible To Create Without Parametric Modelling Software # Suggested January 2024 # Top 15 Popular

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© Maxim Schulz

As Jean Nouvel rightly said, “Each New Situation Requires a New Architecture“, Parametric is the future, it truly is – The possible refinement of the design processes powered by digital processes has led to a rethinking of an engineer’s or designer’s approach to various application areas. Prototyping in architecture, parametric modelling software, and designing have all seen exquisite approaches in recent years that have come to be known as ‘Parametric Design.’

In the field of architecture and design, the phrase ‘What’s old is new again’ holds a valuable place. Today’s breakthrough designs, however, defy convention. Where the conventional styles thrived on – straight lines, acute angles, and sharp corners, Parametric architecture is on free-form architectural ideas and concepts. Each structure owns its individuality and character defined by sweeping lines, irregular shapes and curves.

The development of a digital model consisting of a set of pre-programmed guidelines or algorithms described as parameters is known as ‘Parametric Modelling’. Rather than being manually edited – the model or components are generated by internal computation and logic arguments.

Parametric modelling software isn’t a new concept for architecture or design. Neither did the PC invent parametric architecture, nor did it redefine engineering; it did, however, provide a vital tool that has subsequently enabled designers to plan and construct innovative structures under increasingly complicated subjective and quantitative constraints.

Let’s look at some of the astounding works and structures that could have been impossible to create with the absence of parametric modelling software. Here are our Top 8 picks from some of the finest works in the world of computation.

Learn more about parametric and computational design from pioneers at the CD NEXT conference series:

1. TERA, Upstate New York by AI SpaceFactory

© 3D Natives

Building Type: Spacefactory’s Earth Habitat

© 3D Natives

This building provides a more straightforward, long-term solution for a building in this world while also developing systems for existing on another planet. TERA was constructed out of compostable materials with the help of 3D printing and parametric modelling software which was designed for the sustenance on Mars. a material developed from crops like corn and sugarcane – Biopolymer Basalt Composite was tested by NASA to get a confirmation of the material being 50 per cent more robust than concrete. With the use of natural materials and fun decor, TERA is a luxuriously minimalist design.

Learn more: AI SpaceFactory – Sustenance through Sustainability

© 3D Natives

2. The Yas Hotel, Abu Dhabi by Asymptote Architects

© Asymptote Architects

Building Type: Hospitality

The Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, by Asymptote Architects is utterly sci-fi. With a weblike shading structure that masks the hotel’s two 10-story elliptical towers, the hotel opted for a cutting edge technology and futuristic form. 

The hotel accommodates 500 rooms on a 900,000 square feet land sits on the edge of Yas Marina Formula One race circuit, with a steel bridge knitting the two towers together. The steel and glass latticework on the exteriors, also known as the grid shell, was generated in order to recreate speed, sleek form, and the dynamic energy Formula One racing beholds.

© Asymptote Architects

With the help of parametric modelling software and BIM, the curvilinear shape appears to be effortless. The parametric model manages the form and detail of the structure, resulting in precise tolerances and the creation of a universal joint connection. They were also able to deduct the structural members: the grid shell is supported by only ten supports.

Each of the 5000 fritted glass panels that make up the faceted surface has LED luminaires built-in which allows the geometry to transform into a full-spectrum light show at night. This grid shell apart from conveying a sense of high-tech luxury also balances the demands of the harsh desert environment.

© Asymptote Architects

3. MX3D bridge, Amsterdam by Joris Laarman & Arup

© Thea van den Heuvel

Building Type: Pedestrian Bridge

It is a 12 meter wide 3D printed pedestrian bridge in Amsterdam that took almost a span of six years to built considering its design complexity. Designed by Joris Laarman in association with the Dutch Robotics company MX3D; co-founded by Arup and Laarman, the bridge is a pre-fabricated design by six-axis robotic arms that were equipped with welding gears; which could span across the bridge, which was fabricated from stainless steel rods by six-axis robotic arms equipped with welding gear, spans the Oudezijds Achterburgwal in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Truly a future, where we can say that robots have taken over the construction industry!

© Thijs Wolzak

The curved form from stainless steel along with the lattice styled perforations were all designed using parametric modelling software. This was also a research project for the Alan Turing Institute where they built a network of sensors around the bridge to collect data like environmental conditions, load changes, pedestrian usage, climatic zones, footfall, etc. The digital twin of this bridge helped the designers to make an informed decision.

This project was heavily supported by the Amsterdam Municipal council as the researchers were going to play a pivotal role in catering to tourism. Through technologies like digital twin, parametric modelling software, robots and 3D printing, the MX3D bridge is a futuristic take on analysing the urban environment to create viable interventions through informed design decisions.

4. Hamburg Elbphilharmonie Auditorium, Germany by Herzog De Meuron

© Maxim Schulz

Building Type: Auditorium

Made up of 10,000 individual acoustic panels lining the walls, ceilings, railings and balconies, Hamburg Elbphilharmonie Auditorium by Herzog and De Meuron is an excellent showcase of parametric design possibilities where each panel is made up of one million different-sized cells that help in defining the sound in the environment. 

A collaboration of the architects with acousticians was done in order to create the algorithm responsible for the unique panels of the hall. 

© Maxim Schulz

While designing this, the power of the parametric design was conceived as it could create a million cells, each with their own features based on the set of the parameters and the whole set-up of the algorithm was under control. This algorithm was used to impart a unique shape to the gypsum fibre acoustic panels lining the walls like an interlocking piece of a puzzle.

© Maxim Schulz

Had this been done manually, the result would have looked less original. Functioning with algorithms helped to generate – intricate, functional and beautiful new and surprising forms.

5. City Of Dreams Hotel Tower, Macau by Zaha Hadid Architects

© Zaha Hadid Architects; 2014 Melco Crown Entertainment Limited

Building Type: Hospitality

A 40-storey luxury hotel designed by Zaha Hadid Architects is an entertainment destination known as the ‘City of Dreams.’ The simple volume of the two connected towers was extruded from the rectangular site to create this massive monolith of computational design finesse.

© Zaha Hadid Architects; 2014 Melco Crown Entertainment Limited

These towers are knitted together at podium and roof level with organically shaped bridges that punctuate the towers central external void. The whole structure is perceived as a ‘sculptural element’ unified by an exposed exoskeleton mesh structure.

© Zaha Hadid Architects; 2014 Melco Crown Entertainment Limited

The exposed face which is both expressive and forceful adds to the design’s vitality and envelops the building. China’s rich traditions of jade carving guided the fluid forms in order to create dramatic public spaces combined with guest rooms with innovation in engineering and formal cohesion.

6. Drift Bridge, Fort Worth, the United States by Volkan Alkanoglu

Building Type: Bridge

Volkan Alkanoglu’s Drift bridge is an amalgamation of art in urbanism. It is a pedestrian bridge constructed out of timber and steel which is an innovative example of plug-and-play urbanism. It is a sustainable design with an affordable strategy fabricated off-site with only a few hours of project installation.

© Jennifer Boomer

Responding to the site’s requirements, this project bridges the physical division of the neighbourhood and park system by a creek. This community-driven project with the employed installation and fabrication techniques can be further applied to communities.

© Jennifer Boomer

The 62-feet long bridge resembles a ship’s hull with a convex underbelly and a concave hull with roadway, railings and benches uniquely incorporated into a single design with uneven undulations and curves. This prefabricated bridge has a complex geometry which deals with timber as a core material. The internal bends and curves form seating spaces which later transition into the exoskeleton. This monolith of a bridge was assembled and executed in one piece on the creek, bridging the gaps within the community, well literally!

7. Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul, South Korea by Zaha Hadid Architects

© Virgile Simon Bertrand

Building Type: Public Architecture

ZHA’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza is Korea’s first public project that has used 3-Dimensional Building Information Modelling and digital building technologies. The construction requirements were treated as a collection of interconnected spatial relationships throughout the process which defines the social interactions and user’s behaviour in and around the project. 

© Virgile Simon Bertrand

The adaptation of the design with the changing brief, the incorporation of engineering and construction needs was made possible with parametric modelling software and design computation. The use of a parametric modelling system improved the efficiency and also assisted in taking design decisions within a short duration of time.

© Virgile Simon Bertrand

The use of digital technology enables the team to control design details with better precision offered than the conventional methods. The cladding of over 45,000 panels in varying sizes and degrees of curvature was made possible by parametric modelling and was designed at greater cost and with better quality.

8. Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles by Frank Gehry

© Gehry Partners and LLP

Building Type – Concert Hall

You cannot say, ‘Parametric’ without Frank Gehry!

Although, parametric modelling software took a fast-paced rather recently in the 21st century. But the Walt Disney Concert Hall was the first-ever parametrically designed buildings.

© Carlos Eduardo

Gehry designed this using a variety of techniques, he combined the usage of sketches and models to think about the exterior. He used various asymmetrical forms to blend into a compact shape; representing the musical movements in a dynamic way. He had to use various parametric techniques too, to make this complex form, a reality. He used computer modelling to study the lopsided entropy of the angles he had created. The computational technique proved to be an asset in the interior and exterior setup.

© Gehry Partners and LLP

He associated with Minori Nagata, an acoustic engineer to maximise the acoustic potential of the hall. Through 1:10 scale models and computer modelling with parametric design, the acoustical clarity was achieved. The structure even had bent ceilings and curved constructions that were solved through computational modelling and parametric techniques.

The Evolving State of Architecture with Parametric Modelling Software …

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3 Best Software To Create Newsletters That Gain Traction

3 best software to create newsletters that gain traction




If you own a business and want to promote it effectively, then you need the best software to create a newsletter.

We provide you with a tool that has a native newsletter wizard to build a basic template.

You can also choose a free tool that allows you to customize each message.

There’s a software for almost everything these days and the newsletter software is one of them.

These type of software programs add to the efficiency of a business system and help promote their brand.

A newsletter is one such important aspect of a business and it vastly helps with brand’s email marketing. And, the best software to create a newsletter helps accomplish that effortlessly.

There are a wide number of powerful tools available these days that can help create and manage email newsletters easily.

While users may choose any tool for regular needs, there are certain features specific to only certain tools.

So, instead of choosing a tool a blindly, we suggest you check our recommendations for the best email newsletter tools.

Here’s a quick list of some of the best software to create a newsletter.

For those looking for a convenient tool, SamLogic MultiMailer 2014 is one of the best software to create newsletters.

While it creates newsletters seamlessly, it also sends the newsletters to the desired recipient easily.

As a part of the process, it creates HTML messages in graphics editor that looks like a word processor. This makes the entire process easy to use even for those with no knowledge in HTML scripting.

It comes with a native newsletter wizard that enables users to build a basic template which can be later customized based on needs.

The program helps users create notable HTML or plain text newsletters that may include images, tables, colors, fonts, and more.

In addition, users can also add sound and attachments to the HTML newsletters. Users can also data fields in the message that may help in creating personalized messages.

Besides, the integrated database manages the mailing lists just right. It also allows users to import email addresses and contact information from platforms like Oracle, Outlook, MS Excel, etc.

Users can also get the email delivery status from the status tab in the software. While the statistics tab in the software offers detailed data about the mailings, the software also handles the email bounces efficiently.

Price: starts from $49.

Download SamLogic MultiMailer

While the Email Platinum Customer Bulk Emailer does not exactly create a newsletter, but it does sort your email addresses. Moreover, it can help users enhance other aspects of the newsletter.

This means that it automates the search engine marketing process by automatically submitting the email addresses and the URL entered to the different search engines, live.

Expert tip:

Send out your newly-created newsletter with these email clients

Users receive the feedback from the format ensuring that the recipient indeed received and accepted the URL and the email address. The status is displayed live on the special browser pane.

Meta tag generator is another feature that activates the meta tags such as, keywords, title, and description that can be formatted in HTML source code.

These codes are then ready to be copied and pasted into the webpage. While the submission log keeps a record of the data submitted, the code wizard offers a range of tools to create amazing JavaScript effects.

Popup magician and sitemap maker are among its other significant features.

Price: free trial available, upgrade available at $29.97.

Use Email Platinum Customer Bulk Emailer

For those looking for a free alternative to the best software to create a newsletter, PIMEX MailExpress is the answer.

This tool offers a robust and effective method that helps reach customers and contacts through email.

This free program is just the right solution for an individual as well as for businesses helping them send newsletters and other important details.

What’s interesting is, users can personalize every message using plain text or HTML templates.

Since each message can be personalized, this ensures that all recipients receive the letters that are especially sent to them.

The software also helps import the complete lists email addresses in addition to the optional guidelines in either text or CSV format.

Price: free

Download PIMEX MailExpress


Newsletters form a critical aspect of the email marketing process of a business. Doing it the right way in and in an attractive manner, prove to be beneficial for the business in the long run.

Therefore, make a choice of your email newsletter software from the above list and get going with the marketing campaign.

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How To Create Urgency Without Hurting Your Brand

Urgency messaging is a great way to raise conversions but is getting an increasingly bad rep

Getting visitors on your site and converting seems to be more difficult than ever. Consumers are indecisive, and, with more choice online than ever before, your website visitors are less likely to hang around.

Creating urgency is one of the best ways to raise ecommerce conversions. In my 16 years in ecommerce, there are few techniques I’ve seen that so reliably raise sales.

Urgency works by overcoming your visitors’ mental hurdles to purchasing from you. Perhaps they’re indecisive, prone to overthinking, or they just want to shop around a bit more. There are so many psychological factors at play that influence whether someone will buy from you.

It is, however, a technique to be used with caution. The problem with urgency messaging is that it can come off as disingenuous or just all round scammy. At best this renders your urgency efforts ineffective, and, at worst, it hurts your brand image, damaging trust and losing potential customers.

Download our Premium Resource – Campaign timeline/project plan template and example

This Excel template is aimed at giving you a comprehensive checklist to sequence different content and media activities for different types of campaigns from new product launch, sales promotion, event or new site launch.

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Consumers are more suspicious than ever before when it comes to urgency techniques. There have been numerous news stories in recent times about how brands have been accused of misleadingly using urgency techniques, with some possibly facing court action. These stories inevitably filter into public consciousness, putting more pressure on marketers to deliver.

While urgency as a marketing tool is going nowhere, it’s more important than ever to implement it in a genuine, helpful and engaging way. In this article, I’ll run through some of the most effective urgency techniques I’ve seen, with some ideas for how to ensure they’re done well.

1. Social call-outs

Using call-outs on product pages with stats about other shoppers’ behaviour increases the perceived popularity of a product in real time, as well as activate the fear of missing out. And this, of course, increases urgency – 50 dresses bought today? Wow, other people like this too – I don’t want it to sell out! Rebellious Fashion saw some great results by using these call-ous on their product pages.

Popular products are the most likely to sell out, and showing a product’s popularity is a persuasive technique. However, it doesn’t make sense to show these stats when a product is selling poorly, as it could have the reverse effect. Use a targeting tool to define how many views/purchases need to be reached to trigger a call out message.


The fear of missing out is more motivating than the promise of gaining something. Scarcity messaging no doubt plays on this fear factor, but it is also genuinely helpful. We all want to know when products we like are running out, don’t we? Scarcity also increases the desirability of a product – we all know that studies in psychology have shown that things in a short supply are perceived as more appealing than those in an abundance.

Consider using call-outs on product pages, stating how many items are left in stock. But be careful. The trick with scarcity messaging is not to let it be counterproductive. Set parameters for when scarcity messaging is triggered – when a product has, say, fewer than 10 items left. Test to see which numbers are most effective, and try different ways to deliver the message such as slide-in containers used above by fashion retailer, Rebellious.

3. Use urgency-increasing copy – but make sure it matches your brand voice

Your web copy will help considerably in increasing urgency and persuading your visitors to act fast. There are certain words that are known to create urgency: buy now, hurry, only one left, quick, approaching, selling fast. However, it’s important to use a tone of voice that matches your brand.

Sadly, some retailers go all out with a ‘Hurry now!!!’ tone that can often come across as cheap or desperate. This tone of voice just wouldn’t suit a store selling luxury products, for example, and may alter the perception of your brand and products. However, the only way to truly know is to test different versions of the copy to see which converts best.

4. Bring urgency into social product recommendations

A good way to kickstart browsing on a site is to show best seller recommendations such as these on the Love Sofas homepage. These recommendations let your visitors know which items are popular in your store, and the injection of social proof can increase perceived desirability.

There are various techniques you can use to imply your store is really popular. Showing these bestseller recommendations “from the last hour” gives the impression your store is overflowing with visitors (which it might well be – if so, let it be known!). You can amplify this effect by adding stats to the recommendations showing how many have been sold or viewed that day.

5. Time-limited incentives with countdown timers (but don’t overuse)

There are few techniques more urgency-inducing than a time-limited sale or offer, with a prominently placed timer ticking the remaining hours or minutes away. They can be used in a number of ways.


X hours left to get free delivery

X% off an item for the next X hours

Summer sale ends in X

Order in the next X hours and get a free gift

One of the issues I see with countdown timers is overuse. Are you using countdown techniques so often that they’re becoming less effective, or that your visitors are reliant on them, or perhaps even questioning the authenticity of them?

Be sure to measure the effectiveness of your countdown methods on your conversion rate over time.

6. Use colours that promote urgency – but make sure to test

We all know that certain colours promote caution and fear – yellow, orange and red being the ones we usually think of. Red is usually the colour we most associate with urgency, and is the colour we most often see adorning shop window signage when a sale is on.

When it comes to colour, it’s worth remembering we’re all wired differently and, thus, react differently. Test different colour variations on your site to see what works best with your audience. If you already use a lot of red in your branding, you might find other colours work better in drawing attention and promoting urgency.

Amazon often uses green in its scarcity messaging, and also assures the customer that more items will be in stock soon. This use of green to promote urgency comes across as genuinely helpful and certainly less aggressive than techniques I‘ve seen employed by others. Red, in this case, is used to draw attention to the lower price.

7. Be Truthful

For many, this will go without saying, but it’s worth pointing out – don’t state anything in your urgency messaging that isn’t true. There’s nothing wrong with implied urgency, but if you’re misleading people, eg. applying a false timescale to a sale, your visitors will soon work this out.

This will then make further urgency efforts redundant, as many shoppers simply won’t believe you. Customers buy from brands they trust, not ones that manipulate their shopping habits through false claims.


To wrap up, urgency messaging works best when it’s used carefully and genuinely, by nudging your customers to overcome mental hurdles and take action quickly. It’s important to be careful to avoid bad practices that might damage your relationship with customers, as well as being wary of making your urgency efforts ineffective through overuse.

Try some of the techniques in this article to see the difference it makes on your site, and as always, make sure you test, test, test!

13 Otherworldly Photos That Were Actually Taken On Earth

Earthlings, get ready for your closeups.

Close-up Photographer of the Year has revealed its fourth annual contest winners, and the results are a doozy. With 11 different categories, the Top 100 features everything from octopuses and Atlas moths, to trails of pheromones and the delicate cross sections of leaves.

The story behind the overall winner (seen above):

“Northern pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea) are carnivorous, allowing them to survive in nutrient-poor bog environments. Here there is no rich soil, but rather a floating mat of Sphagnum moss. Instead of drawing nutrients up through their roots, this plant relies on trapping prey in its specialised bell-shaped leaves, called pitchers. Typically, these plants feast on invertebrates—such as moths and flies—but recently, researchers at the Algonquin Wildlife Research Station discovered a surprising new item on the plant’s menu: juvenile spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum).

This population of Northern Pitcher Plants in Algonquin Provincial Park is the first to be found regularly consuming a vertebrate prey. For a plant that’s used to capturing tiny invertebrate, a juvenile spotted salamander is a hefty feast!

On the day I made this image, I was following researchers on their daily surveys of the plants. Pitchers typically contain just one salamander prey at a time, although occasionally they catch multiple salamanders simultaneously. When I saw a pitcher that had two salamanders, both at the same stage of decay floating at the surface of the pitcher’s fluid, I knew it was a special and fleeting moment. The next day, both salamanders had sunk to the bottom of the pitcher.”

– Photographer Samantha Stephens

“The universe is something that stirs the imagination, from our childhood games to science-fiction films. In this image I tried to induce the viewer to imagine the existence of extraterrestrial worlds with unusual life forms, by only using macro photography and a bubble film made primarily of three liquids: water, soap and glycerine. After testing many mixtures with different proportions, I got the images I was looking for. Each small change created very different patterns and colours. Curiously, this kind of worm-like formation is a unique situation in the bubble’s life and only happens for a few seconds before it pops.” Bruno Militelli/Close-up Photographer of the Year 04

“On the afternoon of August 23, 2023, on a rural road in Haining County, Zhejiang Province, China, I saw many butterflies near a small puddle. To ensure that they were not disturbed, I took photos from a distance first. I found that the butterflies did not fly away because of my presence, so I slowly approached and took dozens of photos and selected this image.” Guanghui Gu/Close-up Photographer of the Year 04

“In January last year, following two days of freezing fog and sub-zero temperatures, I found some mature Comatricha, growing on an old fence post lying on a pile of discarded, rotting timber. I was attracted to the way the ice had encased the slime mould, creating strange, windswept, leaf-like shapes. The tallest one was only 3mm high, including the ice. The final image is the result of 55 focus-bracketed images combined in Zerene Stacker.” Barry Webb/Close-up Photographer of the Year 04

“It was early autumn as a friend and I were exploring the rainforest creeks of the Australian Sunshine Coast Hinterland by night when we stumbled upon this remarkable scene. Emerging from the abdomen of a fire back huntsman spider was this long cylindrical worm. I had read about these horrific creatures before, but this was the first time I had witnessed a Gordian Worm.

Named after the impossible knots they form when out of water, these parasitic worms thankfully only infect invertebrates. After hatching, their microscopic larvae swim free in water and are ingested by drinking insects. They grow inside the stomach of the insect until they move through the stomach lining and begin devouring the non-vital organs of its victim. Reaching maturity, the worm releases a mind controlling agent, forcing its now zombie like host to walk to water where it bursts through the abdomen and drops into the water to complete its life cycle.

I was able to scoop the worm out of the water placing it on the rock as it knotted up and allowed me to photograph it. It’s often a challenge photographing in environments with slippery rocks and flowing water as it is hard on the gear and difficult to find a comfortable position to shoot from. I was using my regular macro set up with an external flash and a homemade diffuser to soften the light. I often explore natural areas by night trying to document some of the remarkable and less seen wildlife that occurs in these places.” Ben Revell/Close-up Photographer of the Year 04

“This is a Lucernaria quadricornis (Stauromedusae), a stalked jellyfish, photographed beneath the ice of the White Sea in Russia – the only freezing sea in Europe. The green colour of the water is a sign of spring as algae grows.

The “leg” of the jellyfish helps it to attach to a stone or seaweed. Its tentacles project up or down, waiting for prey. If its hunt is successful, it catches the prey and collapses its tentacles into a fist. If the hunting site is no good, Lucernaria walks away on its ‘leg’ or sometimes its ‘hands’.” Viktor Lyagushkin/Close-up Photographer of the Year 04

“The scorching hot rocks on Mjältön, Sweden provide an ideal habitat for these large jumping spiders. All along the rocky beach I found several of this species Aelurillus V-insignitus. These spiders can reach an impressive size, as big as your fingernail, which makes the species one of the largest jumping spiders in Sweden. This is a female, she can be identified by her grey colour and size – the males are slightly smaller, with a darker palette. Also, a pattern shaped like a V is found on the male’s head, which is what gives them their Latin name. This particular specimen was quite energetic, and I had to spend some time with it in order to get the shot I wanted. When the spider got interested in my flash, it looked up, and I then took the opportunity to get a photograph.” Gustav Parenmark/Close-up Photographer of the Year 04

“In this image I have tried to portray the dream like feeling one feels underwater. It was taken in the Red Sea, Egypt, where these beautiful fish, the Red Sea anthia, abound. I used an in-camera double exposure to create the image. A retro Meyer optic Oresten lens was used to capture the bokeh bubble effect, which was combined with a more traditional shot of the fish with a Sigma 17-70mm lens.” Catherine Holmes/Close-up Photographer of the Year 04

“Before the start of the monsoon every year, some species of termite swarm in the late afternoon and early evening – this behaviour is known as nuptial flight. One day I witnessed this event near a petrol pump in the town of Cooch Behar, India. There were thousands of termites drawn to the powerful street light, and one black drongo. This bird spent almost 20 minutes swooping through the termites, snatching and eating them as it went.

I shot multiple exposures to capture this event, which I had never seen before. Three frames were recorded and combined in-camera. The first one with a high shutter speed and in Kelvin white balance, the second with a high shutter speed isolating the drongo and the third with a slow shutter speed in Tungsten white balance.” Anirban Dutta/Close-up Photographer of the Year 04

“After three luckless attempts of searching for Sahara sand vipers (Cerastes vipera) in rainy conditions, we finally had a dry day and night that brought us success. We followed the tracks of this snake for over a hundred metres through the dunes of the Negev desert in Israel. At times, our eyes were almost directly over the sand so as not to lose the trail. We even saw that it had crossed our foot tracks from earlier in the night. After quite a while we finally found this specimen digging itself into the sand to get into an ambush position, right next to the tracks of a dune gecko (Stenodactylus petrii) that had turned around at the right moment before becoming a meal.” Paul Lennart Schmid/Close-up Photographer of the Year 04

“The wrinkled peach mushroom (Rhodotus) is classified on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species as an endangered mushroom species due to the reduction of elm and ash wood caused by fungal diseases and removal of dead woods. In the UK they are illegal to pick or destroy. A rare sight and a huge wishlist encounter for any fungi enthusiast. This was found in a London Park in 2023.

These mushrooms are deceptively small. The ones pictured in this image are only 1-2cm in height at most. The syrupy looking liquid dripping from the mushroom is called guttation, which is the mushroom purging excess water from its fruiting body as it grows. Because of the pigment in this fungi, the guttation is a vibrant orange color.” Jamie Hall/Close-up Photographer of the Year 04

“This image was taken in 2023 on the east coast of Australia near Inverlock in Victoria. I was actually there to photograph a well-known sea stack however the conditions were not great so I spent time looking at the interesting details along the beach. As I was walking along these huge flat rocks near the water’s edge, I came across this patch of mussels. I was initially drawn to the golden barnacles, which gave a nice contrast to the mussels and to me looked like little specks of gold.

I wanted to find a nice even distribution of these golden barnacles across the mussels below. As I wanted to be able to capture the entire scene in one frame without the need to focus stack, I looked for a relatively flat and level area of mussels to photograph. The sun was peaking through at times making it difficult to photograph with the harsh direct light hitting this section, so I waited until the sun was behind the clouds in order to get a nice even distribution of flat light to reveal the intricate details of this scene.” Jeff Freestone/Close-up Photographer of the Year 04

Virtual Tour Software: 8 Best To Use In 2023

Virtual Tour Software: 8 Best to Use in 2023 360, 3D, free or paid, for real estate & more – check out this year’s best virtual tour software deals




How do you create a digital virtual tour? It’s easy with the right tools at hand.

Check out the best virtual tour software and score a sweet Black Friday deal or even grab a free edition.

Add sounds, or narration, share on social media and go 360 degrees or 3D, there is no limit!



To fix Windows PC system issues, you will need a dedicated tool

Fortect is a tool that does not simply cleans up your PC, but has a repository with several millions of Windows System files stored in their initial version. When your PC encounters a problem, Fortect will fix it for you, by replacing bad files with fresh versions. To fix your current PC issue, here are the steps you need to take:

Download Fortect and install it on your PC.

Start the tool’s scanning process to look for corrupt files that are the source of your problem

Fortect has been downloaded by


readers this month.

If you’re a real estate agent, or you simply want to show someone what a certain location looks like, you might be interested in virtual tour software.

These tools can create a virtual environment through which you can navigate with ease.

If you’re looking for such a tool, today we’re going to show you the best virtual tour software on the market. Here’s a quick preview of our top picks:

My 360 – top-notch 360 virtual tour software

iStaging – best virtual tour software for real estate

Tourweaver – interactive multimedia support

3DVista – 3D virtual tour software with granular panorama controls

Pano2VR – amazing free virtual tour software with automatic linking

Note: All the prices and offers in this article are subject to change, so be sure to check the official product page to get the latest deal. If the product or offer you’re looking for is no longer available, you can try to find it on its official manufacturer page or get another one from our list.

What is the best virtual tour software deal this year?

My360 online property virtual tour software is a great software to build your interactive virtual tours. It’s compatible with any 360-degree camera from Insta360, GoPro, Samsung, LG, Ricoh Theta, and many others. You can even use DSLR images that can be stitched.

With this software, you don’t need to hire professionals because the virtual tour software is very easy to use. Also, they offer a 2-week free trial period without any payment details so that you can try it and adjust it to your exact needs.

And even if you still need assistance, a support team is available 7 days a week from 10 AM to 10 PM to guide you through the process using the live chat.

Next, you just need to hit the publish button and use the link and embed codes to display your virtual tour on your website, portal, and on social media.

You can easily also add a floor plan to your tour. This way, visitors will see exactly where they are all the time.


With My360 it’s extremely easy to make your own virtual tour by using any 360 camera.

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With iStaging it’s even easier to create your own virtual tours because you don’t even need to use a 3D camera, you can make everything with your phone.

Actually, iStaging is not just an application, it’s a platform where you get to work with more solutions that will get you the perfect result. For instance, you can start with the VR Maker app that will transform your smartphone into a 360 camera.

The catch here is to get the iStaging motorized support for smartphones that will automatically turn your phone to get the perfect 3D shots.

The app captures up to 16 photos, which are then instantly and automatically stitched and will result in awesome panoramas. 

To create your virtual tour there is the VR Editor app. With this tool, you will be able to put together the panoramas, build the floor plan and even brand it if you desire.

After you finish, you can, of course, embed the tour on a website or portal.


It’s really easy and pleasant to create virtual tours using only your phone.

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This is a professional virtual tour software that allows you to create realistic 360-degree presentations. The application allows you to create a virtual tour in Flash or in HTML5 format.

Regarding the supported features, there’s Google / Bing map available that will show you the location and directions while viewing the presentation. We have to mention that Bing map works only with Flash tours while Google Maps work with HTML5 tours.

The application allows you to add multimedia elements such as voice narration and text to all your virtual tours. Tourweaver also supports interactivity, and you can add buttons and hotspots to your tours, thus making them interactive.

The application also supports multiple scenes, and each scene is represented by a thumbnail. As a result, you can easily navigate to the desired scene.

Tourweaver also supports 3D models and you can add them to your virtual tours with ease. There are a few limitations though, and you can only use models in 3ds format. In addition, 3D models are only available in Flash tours.

Regarding the virtual tours, you can host them online and share them easily on Facebook. In addition, you can save your virtual tour locally as an EXE file and send it to your clients.

You can also save the tour in HTML5 format that will work on any mobile device. If you want, you can even create a local app for your virtual tour and run it on Android or iOS devices.

⇒ Get Tourweaver

If you’re looking for professional virtual tour software, we have to recommend 3DVista Virtual Tour. This application allows you to create interactive tours simply by using a set of pictures.

This software offers great compatibility, and all your tours are compatible with any computer, tablet, Android, or iOS device.

In addition, you can also export your tour to your local hard drive. This allows you to copy it to a USB flash drive or send it via email.

This application is simple to use, and you don’t need to have any programming skills in order to create impressive virtual tours. 3DVista Virtual Tour has a simple user interface, so it will be perfect for first-time users.

It’s worth mentioning that 3DVista Virtual Tour can also optimize your tours for mobile devices. By using this feature you’ll create a smaller version of the virtual tour that will preserve the bandwidth of mobile users.

3DVista Virtual Tour also supports the Live Panorama feature. This feature allows you to create time-lapse panoramas and show how the tour looks at different times of the day.

The application also has automatic color and exposure correction, so all your photos will be automatically adjusted before you merge them. It supports 18 types of projections as well as Batch Stitching. This feature is great since it allows you to quickly stitch your panorama and add it to the queue.

Expert tip:

In addition, you can set the starting point of your panoramas as well as the spinning speed. You can also limit the speed and zoom level for the users that are interacting with your panorama.

⇒ Get 3D Vista

If you want to create virtual tours and panoramas, you might be interested in Pano2VR. This application comes with a special Patches mode that lets you fix your images.

For example, if you use a tripod to create a panorama, you can use this tool to remove the tripod or any other object from your panorama.

To do that, simply select the area that you want to fix in order to extract it.

After that, open it in your image editor and apply the necessary changes.

The changes will be applied to your panorama as well.

The application also has Leveling tool that allows you to straighten the horizon of your panoramas easily.

Pano2VR allows you to create virtual tours easily thanks to the Automatic Linking feature. If you want to change the linking or the location, you can do so by using the Tour Map feature.

Of course, you can filter your images using tags. The application has a Master Node feature that allows you to add information or patches to all your nodes.

The software also supports interactivity, and you can add hotspots to your panoramas. In addition, you can also add directional sound and videos.

It’s worth mentioning that you can use hotspots to show additional information such as text, video, or image. There’s also a Skin Editor that lets you create custom buttons and controllers for your presentations.

Pano2VR also supports automated virtual tours. This is perfect if you don’t want users to interact or interfere with your presentation.

Of course, you can stop the automatic tour at any time and navigate freely. In addition, you can also export the automatic tour as a video file and share it with others.

Regarding the file export, you can save your tours in HTML5, Flash, and QuickTime VR formats. We have to mention that this tool supports a wide range of plugins so you can easily upload your virtual tour to WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal.

⇒ Get Pano2VR

If you’re looking for cloud-based virtual tour software, this is the perfect choice for you. This application is mobile-friendly, and it will adapt to any screen size and device.

Vtility also offers a simple and straightforward user interface, so you can easily create virtual tours. The application is fully built in HTML5, so it doesn’t require any third-party plugins in order to work.

Thanks to HTML5 technology, you can embed your presentation on any website with ease. We also have to mention that this web app doesn’t require any special photography gear, which is a major plus.

The application offers a simple interface, and you can add hotspots for simple navigation through different scenes.

We have to mention that this service isn’t free, so you’ll need to purchase a package in order to use it. The main difference between the packages is the number of supported virtual tours that you can have at a time.

⇒ Get Vtility

MakeVT is another virtual tour web app. Just like any other virtual tour software, this one allows you to use spherical or cylindrical panoramas. We have to mention that this web app works only with panoramas in .jpg format.

After uploading your panorama, you can edit it by adding hotspots to it. You can switch between panoramas with ease by using hotspots. In addition, you can add popup images, text, and external links thanks to hotspots.

MakeVT also supports sharing, so you can publish your virtual tour online or share it on social networks. In addition, you can also embed the virtual tour into any website with ease. Alternatively, you can simply share the link to your virtual tour with others.

We have to mention that this service comes with several pricing plans. If you want your tours to work on mobile devices and use custom styles or icons, you might want to use the Ultimate plan.

⇒ Get MakeVT

Another virtual tour software that we need to mention is TourMaster. This tool supports spherical, full, vertical, and partial panoramas. The application also supports Tour Movie mode which will automatically guide the user through the presentation.

If necessary, the user can cancel the automatic tour at any time. In addition, the application supports the Tour Map feature as well.

There are also tour map pages and static hotspots that can show additional information such as text, images, or URLs. There’s also support for soundtracks, so you can play music or narration during the tour. The application also allows you to export your tour and add it to any web page with ease.

Despite these minor flaws, TourMaster is still a decent virtual tour software. You can download and try TourMaster for free, but you’ll need to purchase a license if you want to continue using it.

Virtual tour software is perfect for real estate agents or any users that want to make beautiful and interactive panoramas.

There are many great virtual tour applications, and we hope that you found a suitable one for you on our list.

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How To Create A Program That Gets Parents Involved

The key, says the district’s superintendent Eduardo Cancino, is to treat all parents as essential, whatever their educational or language background. “In our community, parents have a high level of respect for educators,” Cancino says. “But we work hard to convince them that we need their help. The wisdom of their lives is worth more than any degree.” Cancino offers the following pointers about creating parent partnerships:

The Hidalgo Independent School District rallies parents — many of whom are originally from Mexico and primarily speak Spanish — to help their children succeed in school and move on to college. They achieve this goal by teaching necessary skills to parents, like how to negotiate the U.S. school system and how to speak workplace English.

Have a Vision

The district maintains a three-tiered vision of parent partnership. Parent involvement includes basic volunteering, with parents coming into schools to support day-to-day activities. Another level is parent engagement, in which families become part of site-based decision-making processes. Ultimately, Cancino says, they’re working toward parent empowerment, by which parents have a real voice in how higher education, school financing, and their children’s future careers work.

Know Your Audience

“Parent engagement doesn’t come in a can,” says Cancino. “You have to know your community and what’s going to make them comfortable.” In Latino culture, he says, there’s a tradition of comadres (literally “co-mothers,” or close family friends) coming together to drink coffee, cook, and chat. Each school in the district boasts parent centers modeled after this idea, with kitchens, sewing machines, and space to talk. “It’s a place where parents can be secure,” Cancino says. “We say, ‘This is your place, this is your kitchen, this is your home away from home.'” Parent involvement in the school develops naturally when they’re connected to these centers, such as in building much-needed biliteracy by reading to students in Spanish in dual-language classes, preparing college-information bulletin boards, and working with other parents new to the district on long-term planning for their child’s college readiness.

Focus on Building Parents’ Skills

At each campus, parent liaisons not only encourage other parents to volunteer but also provide them with the know-how to navigate the often-unfamiliar landscape of U.S. schools and support their children in life and academics.

The district provides information more formally, too, by holding frequent workshops on topics such as conflict resolution, nutrition, student assessment, and financial aid for college.

Parents can also join the four-year Parental Career Pathways Academy, a partnership between the district and South Texas College. Participants take two years of English-language acquisition, and then they can continue with either occupational skills courses or GED and college-entrance exam-preparation classes, giving them a variety of opportunities for postsecondary education.

Be Practical, and Avoid Letting Logistics Get in the Way

Hidalgo focuses on working around obstacles to get things done. When principals asked if they could add stoves to parent centers, the district simply asked schools to relocate the centers to the edges of campus so that adding ventilation would be easier. When the district started the parent academy, it struggled with finding the best class times for working parents. South Texas College, which provides the instructor and the facilities, agreed to multiple sessions, in the morning and evening. And when the district ran into obstacles with transporting parents to the college, it found an empty classroom on one of the elementary campuses and offered the classes there, where parents had easier access.

Prioritize Parent Partnerships in Your Budgets

The cost of the Parent Career Pathways Academy is covered by South Texas College and a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, with the district providing facilities and any needed transportation. For other parent involvement programs, the district pays out of its general fund. “It’s not easy,” Cancino says, “but it’s an investment we make.”

Lisa Morehouse, a former teacher, is now a public-radio journalist and an education consultant.

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