Category Archives: Image Editors

Ashampoo’s “No Charge” Five App Giveaway – Continues

imageI first reported on this Ashampoo giveaway in early January, 2012, and while driving around the Internet today, I found that the original free offer is still valid. If you missed out – now is your chance to take advantage of this super offer.

If you’re wondering if you should bother; here’s what regular reader, super user, and good friend, John Bent, had to say following the last free offer.

I can endorse your comments about Ashampoo, particularly Burning Studio. I installed this a couple of years ago and liked it so much I upgraded to the paid-for version. Subsequent upgrades are a bit more than one third the cost. It’s not something I use daily but, when I do want to do some copying, it’s good to know I have something reliable in the locker. Anyone who is not familiar with Ashampoo’s products should certainly grab this offer.

Original post:

Ashampoo, is noted for developing top quality, easy to use applications, and periodically makes available free, current or previous versions of their retail products. This time round, Ashampoo is offering 5 of their applications, gratis (retail value $110, or so). I believe this a limited time offer and, there is no guarantee the offer will not be withdrawn without notice.

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Click to expand graphic.

Applications include:

Ashampoo Registry-Cleaner – Update your registry and optimize the performance of your PC.

Ashampoo Photo Optimizer 3 – Click-and-go editing for point-and-shoot photos.

Ashampoo Photo Commander 8 – The only tool you need for organizing, editing, presenting and sharing your digital photos!

Ashampoo Photo Converter – Your powerful tool for photo conversion, size adjustment, watermarking and lots more!

Ashampoo Burning Studio Elements – Get your burning projects done – fast and simple.

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If you’ve not used Ashampoo’s applications in the past, then you’re in for a treat. This company develops absolutely first class applications, and I recommend that you give all of these applications a try.

To take advantage of this offer, go here and enter coupon code – merryxmas.

I must point out that registration is required to unlock any application past the original 10 day trial period. You might consider this process a bit of a hassle. But, then again – maybe not.

System requirements (all applications) – XP, Vista, Win 7.

Ashampoo loves to remind you occasionally of the value of their full software lineup, so if you find it bothersome to receive this type of email, you’d be better off passing. Personally, I find it easier to stay in the loop on new software developments.

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Filed under CD/DVD Tools, downloads, Free Full Versions, Giveaways, Graphic Software, Image Editors

Aviary Application Suite – Free In Browser Creativity Tools

imageI’ll admit, I’ve never been a big fan of cloud based applications – too old, too staid, too set in my ways, and of course – my dissatisfaction with cloud security. Still, I’m slowly being converted to the idea that online applications are, in some cases, as powerful and as convenient to use, as onboard applications.

A recent discovery – Aviary Application Suite – an impressive suite of browser-based design tools (see the following graphics), has been a bit of a convincer for me -maybe it’s time to get on the “cloud” bandwagon. Could be that this old dog can learn new tricks, after all.

The Aviary Application Suite offers an amazing range of high quality applications including –

Image Editor: Use the Aviary Image Editor for basic image retouching or complex effects.

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Markup Editor: Use the Markup Editor to crop, resize and markup images and web pages captured from your browser.
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Vector Editor: Use the Aviary Vector Editor to create fully scalable vector art.

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Audio Editor: Use the Aviary Audio Editor to remix music tracks and audio clips. Apply sound effects and record your own voice and instruments.

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Additional components.

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First impressions:

The developer has put together a first class set of full blown creative applications that have been designed with simplicity in mind – yet, has managed to retain the power one would normally associate with locally installed applications. I must admit – I’m very enthusiastic about this cloud service. Scores a definite 10/10 in my book.

As part of the package, Avery provides a full range of tutorials (60+), designed to help users get the most “bang for the buck” from each suite component.

There’s much more to be discovered on the site than I can cover in a short review so, I recommend that you drop by the site and wander a bit.

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Filed under Cloud Computing Applications, downloads, Drawing Software, Freeware, Graphic Software, Image Editors, Online Tools, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

More Freebies From Microsoft Research Labs

imageWe are excited to be developing technologies that weave software, hardware, and services into every aspect of our lives, thereby advancing toward the goal of making computers genuinely useful — We see a future in which computers interact with people the way we interact with each other, think ahead to anticipate and meet our needs, and support us as we make the most of our ideas, efforts, and intellect.”

Joulemeter

Joulemeter is a software tool that estimates the power consumption of your computer. It tracks computer resources, such as CPU utilization and screen brightness, and estimates power usage.

System Requirements: Windows 7

HD View 3.3

With HD View, you can view and interact with very large images on the Web. HD View supports smooth panning and zooming, as well as appropriate viewing perspectives as you zoom in and out. HD View also makes creating and hosting your own HD View images easy. HD View is available as a plug-in for Windows-based browsers, including Internet Explorer and Firefox.

System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 (32-bit version).

Image Composite Editor (32 bit)

Microsoft Image Composite Editor is an advanced panoramic image stitcher. Given a set of overlapping photographs of a scene shot from a single camera location, the application creates a high-resolution panorama that seamlessly combines the original images.

The stitched panorama can be shared with friends and viewed in 3D by uploading it to the Photosynth web site. Or the panorama can be saved in a wide variety of image formats, from common formats like JPEG and TIFF to the multiresolution tiled format used by Silverlight’s Deep Zoom and by the HD View and HD View SL panorama viewers.

System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7

Download 64 bit version here.

StickySorter

Ever found yourself lost in the eye of a brainstorm? Lots of great information, but it’s all over the place! Sticky Sorter is a Grassroots Project, developed by two Microsoft Employees, that you can use today to manage such challenges.

The inventors, Julie and Sumit, were looking for an easier way to capture, sift through, and organize hundreds of research observations traditionally done on physical sticky notes in an affinity diagramming exercise with researchers from around the world.

The result is StickySorter which met their complex needs, supports virtual collaboration, and is now available for you to use in managing your next brainstorm.

System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 with .Net Framework 2.0.

Touchless

Touchless is an Office Labs Grassroots Project that started from an idea Mike Wasserman, a Microsoft Office Graphics developer, started during his college days to create multi-touch experience using a webcam. Through Office Labs sponsorship, Mike’s weekend hobby turned into an open-source prototype, currently available for download.

With just a webcam and color markers, you can get a taste of Touchless through the multi-touch demos provided. Play a pong-like game, rotate maps, control a snake, and draw with markers. If you’re someone technical, the Software Development Kit (SDK) is available for you to view, contribute to the code, or create your own multi-touch applications to help explore the possibilities.

System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Webcam

Bonus – Not free, but free trials:

Songsmith

Songsmith generates musical accompaniment to match a singer’s voice. Just choose a musical style, sing into your PC’s microphone, and Songsmith will create backing music for you. Then share your songs with your friends and family, post your songs online, or create your own music videos.

System Requirements: Windows XP (SP2), Vista, Windows 7

AutoCollage 2008

Researchers from all disciplines and the Cambridge Innovation Development team worked together, building Digital Tapestry and AutoCollage research into a new product. Face detection, saliency filters, and other Microsoft research identifies interesting parts of pictures. Advanced object selection and blending technologies seamlessly combine these pieces into a beautiful new AutoCollage.

System Requirements: Windows XP (SP3), Vista, Windows 7

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Beta Software, Computer Tools, Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Image Editors, Microsoft, Multimedia Tools, Photo Tools, Productivity Software, Software, Software Trial Versions, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Free Nero Kwik – Media Management Application

Nero has just released a free media management application, Nero Kwik Media, that’s definitely worth a look. Richard Carriere, Nero’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing explains the new application this way – “Kwik Media …….. lets you do picture, music, and video organizing, managing, exchanging, putting up on social sites, viewing, and basic editing.”

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Click graphic to expand to original.

The install is a two stage process. In the initial stage, a number of Direct 3D extensions and sundry other bits and pieces, are installed – as per the following screen shot.

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Following the required reboot, the main Kwik Media application is installed. If you’re watching the install carefully, you’ll notice that an Ask Toolbar appears to be installed. The reality is – the Toolbar executable is copied to the HD. However, you will have an opportunity to reject activating the Toolbar.

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The user interface is underwhelming from a styling perspective – a perfect example of form following function.

If simple and unobtrusive is what you want – then, you’ve got it here.

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Click graphic to expand to original.

Media library user interface:

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Click graphic to expand to original.

Media Center user interface:

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Creation Center user interface:

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Click graphic to expand to original.

Burn and copy Disc Center user interface:

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Click graphic to expand to original.

Fast facts:

Move photos, videos and music anywhere – Move all the files your heart desires to and from your PC and mobile devices

Play back Blu-ray movies – View HD video projects on DVD and watch Hollywood Blu-ray movies on your laptop

Burn Audio CDs from MP3s – With just a few clicks, you can create a CD mix from your favorite playlists

Play and rip music – Play back your favorite jams from your laptop and rip Audio CDs to add to your computer

Find and organize friends by faces – Easily organize photos of friends and family by faces

Search and organize – Browse and organize photos, music and videos in one place

Play and rip music – Conveniently create projects to burn and share straight from your library

Edit photos before sharing – Make quick and easy edits of photos before sharing or adding to slideshows

Share videos on YouTube or myNero – Upload your photos, music and videos to social media websites with just a few clicks

Edit slideshows with effects – Add exciting, animated background themes to slideshows

Easy Media Syncing – Sync your music playlists as well as photo and video album contents from your PC to any mobile device with USB mass storage

Download at: Nero

Additional functionality can be purchased (although, some apps are free), from the Nero Store.

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Click graphic to expand to original.

Bottom line:

If you’re looking for a reasonably inclusive free media application, capable of handling videos, music, and photos, then Nero Kwik Media should make your short list.

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Filed under Audio Software, CD/DVD Tools, Connected Devices, downloads, Freeware, Graphic Software, Image Editors, Integrated Solutions, Media Players, Photo Tools, Software, Video Tools, Windows Tips and Tools

Is Awesome Screenshot Browser Add-on, Really Awesome?

So, is Awesome Screenshot, a screen capture add-on for Firefox 4.0 (which I recently installed), Chrome, and Safari really awesome? If you’re an active Blogger and you have a need to capture web graphics, or you’re the type of web enthusiast who likes to share unique content, then I think you’ll agree that it just might be.

Using Awesome Screenshot by activating its Browser toolbar push button icon

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(which launches the add-on’s toolbar), you can capture a visible part, a selected part, or an entire web page. You then have the option to annotate the screen capture with rectangles, circles, arrows, lines and even text.

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Sample Capture

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Saving the image to your Hard Drive, or sharing – by uploading the image to the Pict image hosting site, is a snap. In the following illustration, I’ve uploaded the sample capture to http://awesomescreenshot.com/0879qyp64, which, when clicked, (try it), opens the following.

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This neat add-on doesn’t stop there though. You can share your capture on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Buzz – and even email it with Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail.

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Fast facts:

Capture

  • Capture visible part
  • Capture any region
  • Capture the whole page
  • Crop any portion and show crop dimension

Annotate

  • Annotate it with rectangles, circles, arrows, lines and text
  • Erase the sensitive information with blur tool

Share

  • One-click Upload the screenshot to awesomescreenshot.com
    and get a sharable link
  • Hard to guess URL to allow private sharing
  • Share the link to Twitter, Facebook, email etc.

To see  Awesome Screenshot in action, watch this YouTube video.

Compatible with: Firefox 4.0, Chrome, Safari.

Download at: Mozilla, or the developer’s site.

Note: No restart required for Firefox 4.0 add-on.

Just a quick word on Firefox 4.0, which I’ve been running for a few weeks.

Contrary to most of the hype I’ve been reading regarding Firefox 4.0 which attempts to reposition Firefox 4.0 as the “reinvention” of the Browser, it’s simple not so.

Yes, there are major differences under the hood in this latest version, some of which you may find valuable, but in terms of productivity increases, I doubt if an average user will notice. For example, I have a very high end Video Card which Firefox 4.0 is designed to take advantage of – I have yet to see any improvement in performance based on this.

The following type of pseudo scientific testing is misleading, and really just twists reality out of shape – “performance tests on the Kraken, SunSpider and V8 benchmarks, for example, Firefox 4 blew away previous versions of the browser, with performance results between three and six times better.” The test results may be accurate, but unless you can count in milliseconds, I doubt if you’ll notice any appreciable increase in speed.

Nevertheless, if you’re a Firefox user, you do need to upgrade for security reasons. But don’t expect that you’ll be walking into a new and exciting Browser world.

With all the new releases, upgrades, and what have you in the Browser market in the last few weeks, and the accompany trumpeting of “were the best”, “we’re the fastest”, “we’ve got the best technology”, ad nauseam – it very much reminded me of children bragging in the school yard.

It would be helpful for average users if certain tech journalists, and the product developers, stopped trying to “sell” browsers as if they were used cars, it seems to me.

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Filed under Blogging Tools, Browser add-ons, Browsers, Chrome Add-ons, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Gmail, Google Chrome, Image Editors, Interconnectivity, Safari, Safari add-ons, Screen Capture Utilities, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Looking For The Best Free Screen Capture Utility? Checkout MWSnap

I like to use a lot of screen captures when I review an application – a picture is worth a thousand words, and all that. Lately, I’ve gotten more than a few questions from readers requesting the lowdown on the program I use to generate these screen shots.

Since I’m heavily into freeware (85% of my apps are freeware), I’ve been using the freeware screen capture application MWSnap, for years.

MWSnap is a highly rated small, yet powerful, Windows program for snapping (capturing) images from selected parts of the screen. I use it daily to create high-quality screen captures for presentations, documents, and most particularly – application screen captures for my Blog.

I use MWSnap so often, that I’ve pinned it to the Taskbar.

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The user interface is very simple, and very easy to follow. I must admit though, that I rarely see the interface since I generally use the “hot key” function.

mwsnap newf

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Fast facts:

Image editing – basic image editing options

5 snapping modes.

Support for BMP, JPG, TIFF, PNG and GIF formats, with selected color depth and quality settings.

System-wide hotkeys.

Clipboard copy/paste.

Printing.

Auto-saving, auto-printing.

Auto-start with Windows.

Minimizing to system tray.

An auto-extending list of fixed sizes, perfect for snapping images for icons and glyphs.

A zoom tool for magnifying selected parts of the screen.

A ruler tool for measuring screen objects lengths.

A color picker showing screen colors with separated RGB parts.

Fast picture viewer.

Adding frames and mouse pointer images.

Multilevel configurable undo and redo.

System Requirements: Any 32-bit Windows OS. I run this app on both Windows 7, and XP Pro systems.

Download at: Download.com

This application is an excellent choice for everyone –  from casual, to experienced users.

Additional free screen capture utilities mentioned by regular readers.

PicPick – PicPick is user friendly and full of features for creating your image, suitable for software developers, graphic designers and home user.
It is an all-in-one program that provides full-featured screen capture tool, intuitive image editor, color picker, color palette, pixel ruler, protractor, crosshair and even whiteboard.

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EasyCapture – EasyCapture is a easy-to-use free screen capture software that can capture any part of screen from your desktop. It can capture scrolling windows and entire web pages.

With this screen capture freeware, you can edit captured images and save to bmp, jpg, gif, png, tiff image format. You can add text annotation, arrows and other objects to create professional screenshots for inclusion in online tutorials, Word documents, manuals, promotion material, presentations, websites, emails and so on.

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Filed under downloads, Free Photo Applications, Freeware, Graphic Software, Image Editors, Multimedia Tools, Photo Tools, Screen Capture Utilities, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Adobe Lightroom Release Candidate 3.4 Cleared For Download – Save $299, Maybe

imageIn the past, running beta and release candidate software could be challenging. But, I’ve noticed in the last year or two, that beta, and more particularly release candidate software, can often be as stable as the final release. It may well be, that Microsoft raised the bar for both beta, and release candidates, with reasonably flawless releases of Windows 7 in both these formats.

Adobe, well known for its very expensive, though admittedly highly sophisticated applications (with high production costs), has just cleared release candidate 3.4 of its Photoshop Lightroom 3, for download.

Adobe’s definition of a release candidate

A “release candidate” label indicates that this update is well tested but would benefit from additional community testing before it is distributed automatically to all of our customers. The Lightroom 3.4 update includes support for many new cameras and lens profiles.

If you’re unfamiliar with Lightroom, try this description I came across not too long ago – “For the uninitiated, Lightroom is Photoshop’s specialized sibling; where Photoshop is an imaging Swiss Army Knife, Lightroom is a steak knife for photographers.”

A little confused? I must admit – so was I. So, try this definition from Adobe –

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 software unites your digital photography essentials in one fast and intuitive package. Create something beautiful. Express your vision. Move your audience.

Lightroom gets you there with the tools you need to create great images, manage all your photographs, and showcase them with style and impact.

If you’re a high level photographer, or you have aspirations in that direction, you might consider downloading this release candidate. There’s no guarantee that this is a perfectly flawless application, but if it’s relatively so, you just might save yourself $299 USD.

Personally, I’ve taken advantage of this offer and plan to test drive Photoshop Lightroom 3.4 in the coming weeks.

System requirements:

Windows –  XP with Service Pack 3, Vista (32 bit and 64 bit); Windows 7 (32 bit and 64 bit), 2GB of RAM, 1,024×768 display

Mac OS – OS X v10.5 or v10.6, 2GB of RAM, 1,024×768 display

Languages: Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Swedish.

Check it out at: The product page.

Download at: Adobe Labs

As with all beta, or release candidates, take sensible precautions prior to installation. This should include setting a new restore point.

Note: The application installed with no difficulty on my test system.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Adobe, downloads, Free Photo Applications, Freeware, Image Editors, Mac, Mac OS X, Multimedia Tools, Photo Tools, Release Candidate, Software