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All posts tagged "software"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Inventing The Future, 2000-Style

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 08:32 AM

I was posting about Pocket PC Thoughts' 8th anniversary today, and courtesy of - I'm so grateful those guys do what they do - I saw this post I made back in October of 2000:

"Imagine a digital camera running Windows CE. Imagine snapping pictures and having them automatically emailed to you via a Bluetooth chip on the camera that talks to your cell phone on your hip. Storage becomes a thing of the past - the CF card in the camera is more of a buffer for your cell phone than anything else. Or imagine having a built-in FTP program that would automatically push your images up to a web site as you're shooting them - real-time photography and events coverage could usher in a new era of photo journalism. Raw, unedited, up to the second coverage. Imagine having Pocket Artist on your camera - you could crop, edit, and tweak your images before uploading/emailing them. The possibilities are so endless here - if anyone has any upper-management contacts with Kodak, Olymus, Nikon, or any other major digital camera OEM, tell them I want to speak to them."

I thought that was interesting for a couple of reasons. First, because eight years later, we still don't have cameras with rich operating systems supporting third-party software applications for - although we do have some cameras that can do WiFi directly off the camera itself, and of course we have hardware such as the Eye-Fi. We have some DSLRs with expensive add-ons to provide WiFi, but virtually no cameras that bridge into PDAs or smartphones. Read more...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Saturday Operating System Re-Install

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 04:05 PM

It's been a while since I've had to do this, but my installation of Windows Vista Ultimate on my media editing computer was acting so funky it was time for a wipe and re-install. I've been watching it go down hill for a few months now, mostly around codec problems (which is a rant for another day) and random application crashes. This morning was the last straw though: I kept getting DEP (Data Execution Protection) errors when using Sure Thing label-making software. Crash crash crash. I was somehow wishing that Windows Vista was different in this regard, but Windows is still Windows: shared DLLs, shared codecs, sloppy third party development, and a tendendency towards instability over time. I've found Vista to be better XP - most of my installs last a good year - but it's still a frustrating problem to have. Read more...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Giveaway: Roxio Back on Track 3

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Events" @ 02:01 PM

It's that time of year again: too many gizmos and gadgets in my office, and it's time to get rid of some of them. So it's giveaway time! I have here a copy of Roxio Back On Track 3 Suite, software that I was sent but I never installed it. Want it? Post a message in this thread telling me what your favourite colour is, and I'll randomly pick one winner tomorrow afternoon (3 PM mountain time). And see that white box propping up the software? That's another goodie I'll be giving away tomorrow. Check back!

UPDATE: And the winner is...Kursplat. Congrats! I've contacted the winner by private forum message, and they'll have 14 days to respond and claim their prize before I re-draw for another winner. Thanks for entering everyone!

ACD Systems Releases ACDSee Photo Manager 2009

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 12:20 PM

"ACD Systems International Inc. today today unveiled ACDSee Photo Manager 2009, the latest version of its powerful digital organization and photo sharing software designed especially for avid amateur photographers, scrapbookers and crafters. Improved features combine to make ACDSee Photo Manager 2009 the quickest, most flexible and affordably priced organization software available for at-home use. Users enjoy real-time viewing, management and editing of multiple image files, whether they be treasured family photos or digital design elements for creative projects."

It seems like ACDSee 10 was just released, but here we have a new version of the venerable image management program - and it looks like calling it ACDSee 11 wasn't in the cards, so meet ACDSee Photo Manager 2009. It doesn't quite roll off the tongue, but it's a more descriptive name for a very useful product. I use the Pro version of the software (now at version 2.5) but the core functionality is very similar: I use ACDSee every day to view, edit, and resize images. In the time it takes Photoshop Elements 6 to start up, I can open, resize, and save an image using ACDSee. The batch tools are also invaluable when it comes to re-naming groups of files, altering metadata informaton, and many other functions. This is definitely very useful software, and well worth the $49.99 USD asking price.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Nero Announces Nero 9

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 02:51 PM

"Nero 9 is the next generation of the world's most trusted integrated digital media and home entertainment software suite. It features new cutting-edge functionality that makes enjoying digital media content simple. This easy-to-use yet powerful multimedia suite, gives you the freedom to create, rip, copy, burn, edit, share, and upload online. Whatever you want - music, video, photo, and data - enjoy and share with family and friends anytime, anywhere."

Nero 9 is out, and it consists of an amazing 22 different applications. Wow. I'm all for "value for the dollar", but that seems to be getting a touch out of hand. Worse, I can't seem to find anything from Nero on exactly what's new and improved about Nero 9. I've tended to prefer Nero over Roxio in the past, but I'm honestly quite weary of these "mega suites" and all of the files and codecs they vomit all over my system. I have to write up a rant about codec rot this week, because my main media editing computer is in a funked-up state with codecs, and I think I'm going to have to wipe it out and roll it back to a squeaky-clean state in order to get things working again - and let me tell you, I'm not looking forward to that.

I tend to use Nero only for CD/DVD burning - most of the other apps they bundle with it aren't best-of-breed - so I think I could get by with a pure CD/DVD burning program. Any suggestions? If Windows Vista burned ISO files, I probably be able to get by with nothing at all.

Movie Studios Sue RealNetworks for Releasing RealDVD

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 07:27 AM

"The RIAA and music labels gained a bit more notoriety when one of its associates, Sony BMG's head of litigation Jennifer Pariser, remarked during a case, "When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Making "a copy" of a purchased song is just "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy'." Now the MPAA, which typically follows closely in the RIAA's footsteps, is suing software maker RealNetworks and making similar remarks. In a similar mentality, which some say punishes the paying customer, Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, Columbia Pictures, the Walt Disney Company and Sony have all filed suit against the company, which claims it only wants to provide content owners with a means of backing up their DVDs."

This isn't surprising to me, and hopefully it's not surprising to RealNetworks either, because I want them to mount a vigorous defense. If RealNetworks has the fortitude to pursue this all the way, this could be the type of case we've been waiting for: something that would set the legal precedent needed to allow the legal proliferation of DVD copying tools. I haven't purchased RealDVD myself, but by all accounts they seem to have followed all the rules necessary for maintaining the copyright protection on the DVDs - they're just taking the encrypted bits from the plastic platter we call a DVD and moving those bits to a hard drive. As if on orchestrated cue, the movie industry reacts like the ignorant buffons they are, launching a lawsuit against RealNetworks. I hope RealNetworks fights this to the very end!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Released

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 08:26 PM

Adobe, the 800-pound gorilla in the graphics world, has released a new version of their flagship product, Photoshop. I have to admit that since I haven't used Photoshop since version 6.0, I'm not particularly excited about this - but there are a lot of new features, and if you're a Photoshop junkie, this release will probably get you excited. The "content aware scaling" feature looks really cool - this is the commercialized version of some work I saw a year or so ago.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Windows 7 Coming in June 2009?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 10:55 AM

"As you may recall, Bill Gates himself mentioned a little ways back that Windows 7 could possibly be arriving as soon as next year, which prompted some quick backtracking on Microsoft's part, but that earlier-than-expected date has now cropped up yet again, this time supposedly in Microsoft's internal calendar. According to, that calendar pegs the planned release date as June 3rd, 2009, which is a good deal sooner than the "early 2010" date we've been hearing all along, and quite a significant cut into Vista's planned three-year lifespan. What's more, the site also says that Microsoft will take advantage of its Professional Developer's Conference on October 27th to launch the first public beta of Windows 7, although that doesn't quite match up with earlier word that it'd only be revealing some "in-depth technical information" about the OS."

There's not a lot to go on here, but this article that Engadget has linked to has a fairly logical trail of bread crumbs that leads to the June 2009 launch date. There's a certain amount of logic in Microsoft pushing hard to get Windows 7 out the door faster than they'd originally planned: they get a chance to fix the issues with Windows Vista, they get to re-position the product with new marketing campaigns, and they force Apple to re-shoot all their smart-ass commercials. ;-) I just hope Microsoft is working on a configuration of Windows 7 that's optimized for small and light devices such as UMPCs and netbooks. Vista is just too big and heavy for small devices.

I'm exceedingly disappointed to see the word "Ultimate" in the above screen shots. I really hope Microsoft doesn't repeat the same mistake they made with Windows Vista by having four different versions available at retail. I distinctly remember having rather heated discussions with Microsoft people about how bad it was going to be that they were fragmenting the product line and making it more confusing for users, but those complaints fell on deaf ears. I was cautiously optimistic about Windows Vista Ultimate when I first heard about it, but seeing as how the "Ultimate Extras" turned out to be a huge disappointment, the words "Windows Vista Ultimate" are now synonymous with wasted money.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Corel Introduces Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 Ultimate Edition

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 10:00 AM

"Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 has everything you need to create stunning photos. The integrated Learning Center and a selection of one-click photo-fixing tools make it easy to correct common photo flaws such as red eye, color and sharpness. Unique makeover tools let you whiten teeth, remove blemishes and paint on a tan, so you can make everyone look their best before printing or posting photos online. As your skills and confidence grow, you can harness the power of professional-quality features such as HDR Photo Merge, Histogram, Curves and Levels Adjustment tools to make precision edits. You can even get creative with artistic effects and filters to turn your favorite photos into fun projects to share with family and friends."

Hot on the heels of the VideoStudio Pro X2 announcement, Corel has an update to the venerable Paint Shop Pro product line: the Photo X2 Ultimate version. I haven't used Paint Shop Pro in years, but just the fact that it does HDR photos was enough to catch my attention - my current version of Photoshop Elemenst (6.0) doesn't to HDR photos and it's something I've been wanting to experiment with. Paint Shop Pro also supports over 250 different digital camera raw formats, so if you don't feel like dishing out the $299 for Adobe Lightroom, this might be a good solution (though clearly it won't have the same type of workflow). There's a nice bundle that Corel is offering which gives you both Paint Shop Pro Ultimate Photo X2 and VideoStudio Pro X2 for $149. The full press release is after the break. Read more...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ars Technica Reviews Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 08:00 PM

"While some of the new things in 2.0 are tweaks that you'd expect in a second-revision product, Lightroom also supports some significant additions that aim to raise the feature bar for RAW image processing. The much-touted localized adjustments feature, which attempts to bring some Photoshop-level control to RAW image processing, is headlining this release's feature set. Lossless RAW image editing is a bit of a holy grail for digital image processing, so the more granular control we're given over RAW images, the closer we'll be to that digital imaging grail. But Lightroom 2.0 isn't just about localized edits-there are a lot of other additions that warrant a closer look."

Ars Technica wasted no time in getting their review of Lightroom 2 out the door - I'm waiting for my copy to arrive from Adobe, then I'll be taking it for a spin. If there are three words to describe the changes in 2.0, it seems "more like Photoshop" would be a good fit. They've adding masking tools to allow you to make selections, then alter those selections. So if you're processing a RAW file and you want to boost the exposure only in the sky, you can do that. That has some powerful possibilities, so I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do with the new version of Lightroom. I'm also looking forward to (hopefully) the bug fixes they put into 2.0. Version 1.4.1 still has bugs around something as simple as deleting an image. Let's hope 2.0 can do what 1.x hasn't managed to do: not frustrate me every five minutes. Call me an optimist, but I have high hopes!

Google Releases Picasa 3.0 Beta

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 04:20 PM

"A little over two years ago, we launched Picasa Web Albums to make publishing photos online easy. Now Picasa Web Albums hosts billions of online photos from around the globe, with users adding millions of new snapshots every day. Each of these photos records a different moment, or a different perspective, but one thing they all have in common is that in each case, the person behind the camera wanted to share their experience with a friend, their extended family, or maybe the world. Today, we're rolling out major technology upgrades to both Picasa and Picasa Web Albums. As you might have guessed, these are largely focused on how we share and enjoy our photos with others."

I honestly thought that Picasa was an abandoned product - Google hadn't released a significant update in so long I was sure it was a dead product walking. I'm so glad I was wrong! Picasa 3.0 is currently in beta and available for download. Although I haven't had a chance to try it out yet, the features in it look really exciting: the text tool (pictured above), the collage tool, the heal tool, and the movie making tool all look like great additions. After the break, there are two walk-through videos that highlight some of these new features. Read more...

Google Launches "Chrome" Web Browser

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 08:50 AM

Yesterday, Google launched their own Web browser. Since this is pretty big news, I decided it was worth posting network-wide. Do we really need another browser? Before yesterday, my answer would have been no - I'm a very satisfied Firefox user, and Internet Explorer 8 is shaping up quite nicely. But after watching the 90 minute Google Webcast yesterday, I was very interested in with what Google had created. There's a great online comic that walks you through why Google created the browser, and what kinds of things were important to Google when creating Chrome. I think this comic is also how the browser was leaked before Google was ready to announce it. Read more...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Adobe Releases Photoshop Elements 7 and Premiere Elements 7

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 01:00 AM

"New Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 7 & Adobe Premiere® Elements 7 software with Plus** membership combines two powerful yet easy-to-use products, so you can do so much more with your photos and videos. Easily create extraordinary photos and incredible movies, use them together in cinematic slide shows and other creations, and stay connected with your favorite people and memories."

Photoshop Elements is a superb program, and provides most of the photo editing needs for beginner to enthusiast users - a good number of people that dish out the megabucks for Photoshop CS3 would be well served by Photoshop Elements. It's a bit hard to decode exactly what's new, but looking at this page, I'd say they've added the ability to combine a mask with a paint effect - they're calling it Adobe Smart Brush. Might be dodging and burning on steroids? The description is pretty vague. They have Adobe Photomerge as well, which allows you to combine several near-identical photos to get the best parts of each one. It's listed as "new" but this feature is in Photoshop Elements 6, so Adobe calling it new is confusing. Adobe really needs to come up with a better list of what's new and what's not - they can look to Ulead for how it should be done.

One of the new features of this software, and seemingly what they put most of their efforts into, is actually a software service: Plus. If you sign up for the yearly service, you get template updates, 20 GB of online storage for your photos and videos, online album sharing, and the rather-vague-sounding "access your photos and videos from anywhere". Read more...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Goodbye Carbonite, Hello Mozy

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 10:30 AM

A couple of years ago I made an impassioned plea to all the readers of our sites to implement a solid backup solution, preferably an off-site one. I figured it was time for an update on my solutions, and a refresher for everyone on the importance of backing up their data.

I was a Carbonite user for a couple of years, but last year I discovered something quite ugly: Carbonite filtered out EXE files, ISO files, and a few other file types. I have a few small ISO files I keep in my documents folder; these are boot CDs I might need to duplicate in the future. And as for EXE files, I purchase digital software quite often, and these EXE files are required if I need to re-install the software. I consider both ISO and EXE files to be part of my data - things that, if I lost, I'd be very upset because they'd be difficult to get back or re-create. Read more...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Where Did my Hard Drive Space Go?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 09:00 AM

Don't you just hate it how, over time, hard drives fill up? I'm pretty strict about my data, keeping a tight reign on it (I should sit down with John Dvorak and give him some tips, he needs them). On my workstation and media editing station, I have 150 GB Western Digital Raptor hard drives - very fast, but not especially spacious in comparison to the 500 GB drives that ship in even the most humble desktop PC sold today. Normally this isn't a problem, but this morning my workstation PC report that I only had 11 GB of storage space left. Normally I hover around 30 GB or so of free space, so this was rather surprising. I did a disk cleanup, after deleting everything in the Foldershare Trash folder, and got back up to 16 GB of free space. But where was the rest of it? Read more...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Adobe Releases Photoshop Lightroom 2.0

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 02:05 PM

"Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced the immediate availability of Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® 2 software, the photographer's essential toolbox for managing, adjusting and presenting large volumes of digital photographs. With new enhancements such as dual-monitor support, radical advances in non-destructive localized image correction, and streamlined search capabilities, Lightroom 2 is a compelling upgrade that simplifies photography from shoot to finish. As Adobe's first application to support 64-bit for Mac OS X 10.5 Macintosh computers with Intel® processors and Microsoft® Windows® Vista® 64-bit operating systems, Lightroom 2 also provides improved memory performance for dealing with large scale images."

Lightroom 1.x is what I use to process my raw files and for the most part, it's a great program. The list of features in 2.0 looks pretty good, although nothing earth-shattering. The funny thing is that I got a copy of Lightroom 1.0 for review, but kept having little issues with it and in discussing the problems with my Adobe PR person, I wanted to wait until I stopped seeing memory issues with it before writing my review. They released the 1.4.1 update a month or so ago (perhaps a bit longer) and the software was finally stable and more or less glitch free, so I was planning on reviewing it last week but didn't get around to it. Lo and behold, Adobe releases Lightroom 2.0! I knew Lightroom 2.0 was in public beta, but I didn't think they'd take it to production so quickly. It's either remarkably error-free, or it will be like Lightroom 1.0 and have some initial issues. I hope Adobe has learned their lesson with version 1.0...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

PhotoRescue Now Recovers Deleted Images from Hard Drive Sources

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 09:57 AM

I don't know if I've written about PhotoRescue before, but if I haven't, here's the scoop: it is, bar none, the best photo recovery tool I've ever used - and now that they've added support for hard drives, it's even more useful. Version 2.0 was great, but a bit complex to use, version 3.0 added a great wizard but lacked the ability to scan anything but a memory card, and now with version 3.1 they've added the missing piece: the ability to target any hard drive and scan it for missing files.

PhotoRescue is one of those tools that you hope you'll never need, but when you do, it's a lifesaver. I was in just such a situation: I went to Hawaii at the end of 2006, and it was my first big vacation with the Nikon D200. I was still experimenting with RAW processing at that point, looking for the best tool for processing. That vacation I shot in RAW + JPEG. Read more...

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