Category Archives: Commercial Applications

MachStudio Pro 2 – Price Cut From $4000 To Zero!

imageA product price reduction is one thing, but reducing the product price from $4000 to zero, zilch, nada – well, that’s a whole other thing. In a rather surprising move, StudioGPU, the developers of MachStudio Pro 2 (which has an excellent reputation in the 3-D industry), has done just that. Sort of beats a Wal-Mart rollback hands down!

If serious animation is your thing, and you have the hardware to support it – then rush on over to StudioGPU, and download their flagship product – MachStudio Pro 2.

I should point out; this application is not a toy – this is the real thing; designed by artists for artists, and shaped by the actual demands of a production environment.

Sample screen captures from video productions available at the developer’s site.

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Fast facts:

  • Real-time rendering on your desktop — say good-bye to expensive render farms.
  • Groundbreaking levels of interactivity giving the power back to the artist instead of the pipeline.
  • Provides revolutionary workflow allowing manipulation of cameras, lighting, ambient occlusion, animation, and materials in real-time.
  • Seamless interoperability with most leading CG software programs including Autodesk Maya and 3ds Max .
  • Resolution independent, allowing renders at any resolution and format (e.g. 1080P, 720P, 16:9, 4:3, NTSC, PAL and even 2K and beyond).
  • Render as final frame, or as passes for additional compositing work.
  • Generate higher quality CGI results for less time and money.

System requirements:

Windows 7 – 32 bit or 64 bit, Vista Business – 32 bit or 64 bit (SP1 or higher).

Minimum Hardware Requirements:

  • Intel Pentium 4 or higher, AMD Athlon 64, or AMD Opteron processor
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 2 GB of available disk space
  • 1 GB DirectX 11 compliant video card (tested w/ ATI and NVIDIA)

Download at: StudioGPU

If you’ve got a creative streak, and you have a drive to create imaginary worlds populated with imaginary characters, then this is a terrific opportunity to harness the power of your computer with the magic of MachStudio Pro 2.

Checkout the video at the developer’s site.

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I’m not an artist, a movie producer or director, but I’ve been playing with animation creative software since the days of Autodesk’s ground breaking 3-D applications in the 1980s. You can be sure, I’ve already downloaded MachStudio Pro 2.

Special thanks to Michael F., who brought this to my attention.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Animation Applications, Commercial Applications, Digital Media, downloads, Enterprise Applications, Free Full Versions, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Graphic Software, Multimedia Tools, Productivity Software, Software, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista

The 411 On Enterprise Resource Planning Software

Guest writer Sachin, lays out the case for Enterprise Resource Planning software (ERP) – what it is, and what it does.

imageEnterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is an integrated approach to a whole suite of business operational functions. ERP software is an integrated suite of software designed to manage these functions on a “same page” basis. It’s similar in some ways to project management software, but covers multiple field of business needs.

ERP software basics

ERP software provides a very large range of functions, and like good business software should, it’s able to be customized to suit any business environment, seamlessly.

This class of software is generally considered best practice, high-ROI software because of its ability to provide a single-stream management function. ERP software includes:

  • Quote functions
  • Business planning templates,
  • Manufacturing processes,
  • Sales
  • All aspects of marketing
  • Reporting functions

The software also provides functions like stock control capabilities, ordering, customer service functions, financial management and staff payroll, etc.

As you can see, this is a comprehensive list of basic business operations, consolidated on one system, which is where ERP software provides valuable solutions not available on other packages. A package like MYOB can do some things, but not others. ERP software is designed to provide this overwatch capability in one package.

This huge range of functions is particularly useful for businesses in planning mode, because it provides a useful structure which can operate as a single entity, not sourcing materials from outside or other programs. For small businesses, it’s a godsend, providing increased capabilities on one system, not an expensive range of different software.

ERP in the workplace

ERP methodologies are part of the new generation of advanced business management practices and techniques. The fact is that management is now very much based on business software. The better the software, the better the management capabilities, so being able to manage a business from a single desktop environment is best practice in more ways than one.

ERP uses a concept called “workflow”, which is a systemic, step-by-step methodology designed to operate as a quality control system, ensuring, for example, that all steps of ordering are carried out properly, in sequence, from order picking to invoicing.

The good news for businesses is that this drastically cuts down on administration. Time is more than money. ERP software automates administration, as far as possible. (Those who’ve spend hours on administrative details will appreciate how much of a saving on time, frayed nerves and other distractions this really is.)

Applying ERP software to your own business

The best way to check out the advantages of ERP software is to “test drive” the software and see for yourself the practical applications.

Check out in particular:

  • Reporting functions – These are critical to any business, and a well-organized reporting system really does provide management with a wealth of information, quickly and efficiently.
  • Sales – Another key aspect of any business, and if you’ve been finding your sales data more cumbersome than helpful, you need to look at this aspect closely.
  • Marketing and related operations – This very high value, and often capital intensive area of operations can be streamlined and literally put on a single page, single function basis for management.

ERP is likely to be exactly what you need to move your business forward and streamline your administration. Check it out, because you won’t be disappointed.

Guest article by Sachin.

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Filed under Business Applications, Commercial Applications, Computer Tools, Guest Writers, Point of View, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Timberline Estimating Software Review

Popular guest writer, Glenn Taggart who, in the real world, has a real job (like many of us bloggers), has some definite views on construction estimating software and, on how to avoid being lured into purchasing  a less than suitable solution.

imageWhile the thought of being a full time blogger is certainly romantic, the reality of my life is that of a construction project manager and estimator. As I become busy in my professional life, something has to give and I guess writing articles is that something that has to give.

Before any project gets built, the owner wants to know how much the project is going to cost. Most of the time we are providing cost estimates and competing with anywhere from 5 to 10 other contractors. In most cases, the low responsible price wins the contract.

On a $3 million dollar project, I will spend about 2 weeks putting the project estimate together. Estimating software is of the most important software that I use on a regular basis.

Recently, the company I work for tasked yours truly to oversee a new computer and software upgrade. This particular upgrade included a new company server, workstations, and estimating software.

Prior to the upgrade, we were using a product from Sage software called Timberline Estimating. I believe Timberline was the first mainstream estimating software. I personally have been using Timberline Estimating software for the past 15 years.

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After enduring multiple webinairs from multiple estimating software platforms, I narrowed it down to two choices – ProEst and Timberline.

Timberline has the advantage of being a tried, true, and tested estimating platform by companies large and small. It also had the advantage that all of us at work have been using it for a long time. Because estimating software is the most important function for us at work, we desire to utilize the best software to help us with our estimating.

Let me make it clear that the estimating software is a tool that we use. We are NOT slaves to the software and the software does not “think” for us. I guess an analogy would be playing the guitar. You aren’t simply going to put a Les Paul guitar in someone’s hands and all of a sudden they become Eric Clapton.

ProEst has a great marketing department. They are able to clearly articulate and demonstrate the great things that ProEst can do. Unfortunately, that is as good as it gets with ProEst. The program is slow and klunky and I personally ran into several bugs that, according to ProEst support, were being worked on and “would be fixed in an upcoming release”.

Our company went so far as to buy several licenses under the false pretense that we would be able to get some of our money back if things didn’t work out. Long story short, things didn’t work out. Nearly all of our estimating team found the software to be too slow and time consuming to use. Our estimating team consists of 6 who all have at least 10 years estimating experience. Once they have their hands on your money, they will not do the honorable thing and hand it back (as we were lead to believe).

Unfortunately, ProEst’s answer to our unwillingness to have them force feed their software to us was simply that we needed to sit through umpteen hours of their web based support. I beg your pardon? Hey ProEst, we’re not dummies. We recognize a sub par estimating platform when we see one.

What I can’t explain are all the favorable reviews for ProEst. The only thing I can think of is the people who are favorably reviewing ProEst are ProEst employees or folks that have not tried the more superior, refined, and FAST Sage Timberline estimating.

Like I said, Timberline estimating has been around since day one. The folks that put this fine piece of precision software together are not without their A-Game. The programmers who put Timberline together have obviously made it their priority to have people from the estimating profession give input into making the program function.

Timberline really excels with it’s excel spreadsheet integration (no pun intended), report writing, address/contact book, and did I say FAST! With Timberline you never more than two clicks away from entering an activity. ProEst on the other hand…Ugh! After opening at least 3 or 4 windows (I honestly lost count), you finally get the opportunity to enter an activity. ProEst is simply too slow of a process to contend.

If you are sitting on the fence in trying to decide which estimating software to use, look no farther than Sage Timberline Estimating. There is absolutely no comparison. Simply put, no other estimating platform even comes close.

Bio: Glenn Taggart of The Crazy World of G, – one of the hardest working people I know – brings a background as a high level super user, to the Blogging world. Glenn has been a contributor here almost since “day one”.

Drop by Glenn’s freeware page.

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Filed under Commercial Applications, Computer Tools, Guest Writers, Opinion, Productivity Software, Software

NetWrix Offers An Extensive List Of Freeware Tools For IT Professionals

imageAward winning NetWrix Corporation (13 industry awards in 2010), offers a surprising number of free tools for IT Professionals, which may be less powerful than the commercial editions, but nevertheless, are efficient and effective – and the price is hard to beat.

If you’re involved in systems management, NetWrix’s extensive freeware collection is sure to pique your interest. In fact, a number of these free applications are suitable for individual users as well.

This article is posted for informational purposes only. I have not tested these  applications  for functionality, reliability, or any other “ility”. However, in a quick scan of user comments, NetWrix’s applications generally receive top marks.

From the site:

1) Active Directory Change Reporter: This is a simple auditing tool that keeps tabs on what’s going on inside your Active Directory. The tool tracks changes to users, groups, OUs, and all other types of AD objects, sending detailed daily reports with lists of changes.

Learn more»

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2) USB Blocker: The increasing mobility of flash drives, MP3 players, cell phones and iPods makes the threat of data theft greater than ever, and with a couple clicks of the mouse, this aptly-named tool blocks unauthorized usage of removable media via USB ports. USB Blocker hardens end point security by preventing the spread of harmful malware and restricting the transfer of confidential information.

Learn more»

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3) Password Expiration Notifier: This tool automatically reminds users to change their passwords before they expire, helping keep busy helpdesk administrators safe from password reset calls. It works nicely for users who don’t log on interactively and, thus, never receive standard password change reminders at log on time (e.g., VPN and OWA users).

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4) Inactive Users Tracker: This tool tracks inactive user accounts (e.g., terminated employees, graduated students) so you can easily disable or remove them to eliminate potential security holes. The tool sends reports on a regular schedule, showing what accounts have been inactive for a configurable period of time (e.g., 2 months).

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5) File Server Change Reporter: The File Server Change Reporter detects changes made to files, folders and permissions, and tracks newly created and deleted files. The tool is useful for detecting mistakenly deleted files and it allows quick backup recovery in case of accidental changes to important files.

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6) Active Directory Object Restore Wizard: A part of the Active Directory Change Reporter, the Active Directory Object Restore Wizard provides granular object-level and attribute-level restore capabilities that allow administrators to rollback unwanted changes (e.g., mistakenly deleted users and OUs, modified group memberships, etc).

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7) VMware Change Reporter: Tracks and reports configuration changes in VMware Virtual Center settings and permissions, such as newly created virtual machines, containers, alerts, ESX servers, etc.

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8) Service Monitor: This simple monitoring tool alerts administrators when one or more Windows services suddenly stop working on the specified servers. The tool also detects services that fail to start at boot time, which sometimes happens, for example, with Exchange Server.

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9) Virtual Machine Sprawl Tracker: Uncontrolled creation of virtual machines that are rarely, if ever used, consumes physical resources and diminishes the value of virtualization. This common drawback is typically called “virtual machine sprawl”. NetWrix VM Sprawl Tracker is designed to address the issue of VM sprawl via tracking of VM activity over time and reporting of VMs that have been inactive for too long, allowing administrators to decommission them.

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10) Disk Space Monitor: Even with today’s terabyte-large hard drives, server disk space tends to run out quickly and unexpectedly. This monitoring tool will send you daily summary reports regarding all servers that are running low on disk space.

Additional free applications, for both companies and individuals, are available at NetWrix’s Freeware Products page.

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Filed under Commercial Applications, Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Network Tools, System Administration Tools