Tag Archives: edit

SpringPublisher Free Version – Design And Output Business Cards And More

imageOne of the very first freeware applications that I remember downloading, when the Sun first rose on the Internet, was a business card design application. Now, here I am, many years later, reviewing for the first time exactly that – a business card design application.

SpringPublisher 2.1 is a freeware application (upgradeable to a pro version), which allows a user to design and print a Business Card, Flyer, Postcard, and Letterhead with ease. The learning curve is … well, there is no learning curve really. If you can use a word processor; you’re good to go.

The following screen shots represent a walkthrough in designing a business card with SpringPublisher. Clicking on any graphic will expand it to it’s original size. Since these shots were captured on a 22 inch screen, they are very large.

You can create a blank project or alternatively, you may choose to use the Template Library to create a project from a template. In the following example, I’ll work with the template option.

image

For this walkthrough I’ve chosen the business card style indicated by the hand icon. I should point out, that the “style” you choose can be carried forward into additional projects, including – Letterhead, Postcard and Flyer.

image

Expanding the following screen shot to its original size will give you an opportunity to carefully study the GUI. I think you’ll find the GUI uncomplicated, easy to follow, and self explanatory.

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Clicking on any element within the template opens an edit input box (text, image, shape). In the following example, I’ve just completed work in the address, telephone, email address, etc., edit box. You’ll notice, I’ve replaced the suggested graphic with something a little fancier.

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The completed business card is shown below.

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But then, since I’m into simple – I replaced the background color with plain white. Which meant, it was necessary to replace the “company name” color with black – very easy to do with the “select color” command.

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This simple walkthrough doesn’t begin to test the power built into this application. The “fast facts” will provide a better overall picture of what can be accomplished with a little creativity.

Fast facts:

Enables you to add images, texts, vector shapes, logos and arrange them as you like.

Provides various image effect: shadows, opacity, rotation, and more.

Allows you to download high quality templates from the template store.

Makes it easy for you to print your artworks either with your own printer or in professional print shops.

Generates high resolution artwork with a maximum output of 350 dpi.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7

Download at: Developer’s site (SpringPublisher)

I haven’t used this type of application in years, so I’m not surprised to see that  SpringPublisher is a major step up from what I recall from back in the day. There are just enough tools and selections available  that customization possibilities are considerable – very impressive for a freeware application.

Along with your appearance (that great big smile  Smile ), your firm handshake (the dead fish handshake is a no-no), your business card can tell a tale. Make sure it’s the one you want to convey. SpringPublisher is a terrific little application which can help you experiment in developing a card which expresses who you are.

The professional version, with Template Store credits and high-quality output is available from the publisher at $23.95(USD).

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Comments Off on SpringPublisher Free Version – Design And Output Business Cards And More

Filed under DeskTop Publishing, downloads, Freeware, Productivity Software, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

FastStone Image Viewer – Browser, Converter and Editor – Supports All Major Graphic Formats (and then some)!

FastStone Image Viewer (updated November, 2009), is one of my favorite photo applications, with good reason. It’s not just a viewer, but an image browser, converter, and an editor as well. You’ll find the interface intuitive and very easy to use.

This program is loaded with features including, renaming, cropping, color adjustments, lossless JPEG transformation, drop shadow effects, image frames, scanner support, histogram and much more.

image

With FastStone installed you’ll have support for all major graphic formats including (BMP, JPEG, JPEG 2000, animated GIF, PNG, PCX, TIFF, WMF, ICO and TGA) and popular digital camera RAW formats (CRW, CR2, NEF, PEF, RAF, MRW, ORF, SRF and DNG).

image image

Quick Facts:

True Full Screen viewer with image zoom support and unique fly-out menu panels

Crystal-clear and customizable one-click image magnifier

Superior Red-Eye effect removal/reduction with completely natural looking end result

Image modification tools: Resize/resample, rotate/flip, crop, sharpen/blur, brightness/contrast, etc.

Eleven resampling algorithms to choose from when resizing images

Image color effects: gray scale, sepia, negative, Red/Green/Blue adjustment

Image special effects: watermark, annotation, drop shadow, framing, bump map, lens, morph, waves

Draw texts, lines, highlights, rectangles, ovals and callout objects on images

Multi-level Undo/Redo capability

One-touch best fit/actual size image display support

Image management, including tagging capability, with drag-and-drop and Copy To/Move To Folder support

Histogram display with color counter feature

Compare images side-by-side (up to 4 at a time) to easily cull those forgettable shots

Image EXIF metadata support (plus comment editing for JPEGs)

Configurable batch processing to convert/rename large or small collections of images

Slideshow creation with 150+ transition effects and music support (MP3, WMA, WAV…)

Create efficient image attachment(s) for emailing to family and friends

Print images with full page-layout control

Create fully configurable Contact Sheets – just like the pros (and save $$$ on ink)

Create memorable artistic image montages from your family photos for personalized desktop wallpapers (Wallpaper Anywhere)

Acquire images from a scanner

Versatile screen capture capability

Powerful Save As interface to compare image quality and control generated file size

Run favorite programs with one keystroke from within Image Viewer

Offer portable version of the program which can be run from a removable storage device

Configurable mouse wheel support

Support multiple program skins

Support dual-monitor configurations

System requirements: 32 bit Windows – XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7

Download at: Download.com

This really is an incredible application and I often wonder why it’s still free. The author does ask for a donation, if you find the application useful. This is an application that’s worth supporting so please, consider doing so.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

6 Comments

Filed under Digital Media, downloads, Free Photo Applications, Freeware, Graphic Software, Image Editors, Multimedia Tools, Software, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Audacity – The Best Free Multiplatform Audio Recorder/Editor?

image A year or so ago, I needed to record 20 minutes of streaming audio from the Internet, and since I am not an audio hobbyist, and have limited experience recording using my computer, I simply launched Windows Sound Recorder and sat back to watch it do it’s job. I thought!

No such luck. I was surprised to learn the maximum recording time on Sound Recorder is only 30 seconds, which was far too short for my purpose.

A mad scramble to find a freeware/open source replacement for Windows Sound Recorder led me to Audacity which, as it turns out, is the most popular free, open source audio editor/ recorder available. It works with many operating systems, including Windows, Mac, GNU, and Linux.

Audacity has a surprisingly easy to use interface, and I found it to be feature-rich and flexible. The first thing that struck me on launching the program was, it advised me I had several hundred hours of available space on my drives in which to record. Not 30seconds!

image

Audacity has the capacity to handle multi-track editing, a good number of audio effects including reverb, delay, compression, echo, phaser, wahwah and reverse. Its audio export functions include MP3, OGG, AIFF, and WAV and more.

One of the more interesting features, for me, is Audacity’s capacity to convert tapes and records into digital recordings. I have a large collection of old 70’s and 80’s albums that I have many times considered converting to digital recordings and burning to CD’s. I now have the application to do just that. Now, if I can only find the time!

System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista

The Audacity web site lists the following features:

Recording:

Audacity can record live audio through a microphone or mixer, or digitize recordings from cassette tapes, vinyl records, or minidisks.

With some sound cards, it can also capture streaming audio.

Record from microphone, line input, or other sources.

Dub over existing tracks to create multi-track recordings.

Record up to 16 channels at once (requires multi-channel hardware).

Level meters can monitor volume levels before, during, and after recording.

Import and Export:

Import sound files, edit and combine them with other files or new recordings.

Export your recordings in several common file formats.

Import and export WAV, AIFF, AU, and Ogg Vorbis files.

Import MPEG audio (including MP2 and MP3 files) with libmad.

Export MP3s with the optional LAME encoder library.

Create WAV or AIFF files suitable for burning to CD.

Import and export all file formats supported by libsndfile.

Open raw (header less) audio files using the “Import Raw” command.

Note: Audacity does not currently support WMA, AAC, or most other proprietary or restricted file formats.

Editing:

Easy editing with Cut, Copy, Paste, and Delete.

Use unlimited Undo (and Redo) to go back any number of steps.

Very fast editing of large files.

Edit and mix an unlimited number of tracks.

Use the Drawing tool to alter individual sample points.

Fade the volume up or down smoothly with the Envelope tool.

Effects:

Change the pitch without altering the tempo, or vice-versa.

Remove static, hiss, hum, or other constant background noises.

Alter frequencies with Equalization, FFT Filter, and Bass Boost effects.

Adjust volumes with Compressor, Amplify, and Normalize effects.

Other built-in effects include:

Echo

Phaser

Wahwah

Reverse

Sound Quality:

Record and edit 16-bit, 24-bit, and 32-bit (floating point) samples.

Record at up to 96 KHz.

Sample rates and formats are converted using high-quality resampling and dithering.

Mix tracks with different sample rates or formats, and Audacity will convert them automatically in real-time.

Plug-Ins:

Add new effects with LADSPA plug-ins.

Audacity includes some sample plug-ins by Steve Harris.

Load VST plug-ins for Windows and Mac, with the optional VST Enabler.

Write new effects with the built-in Nyquist programming language.

Analysis:

Spectrogram mode for visualizing frequencies.

Plot Spectrum command for detailed frequency analysis.

Download at: Download.com

28 Comments

Filed under Audio Applications, Audio Software, Free Full Versions, Open Source, Portable Applications, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Free FastStone Image Viewer – Stands Up to XNView and Irfanview

FastStone Image Viewer is one of my favorite photo applications, with good reason. It’s not just a viewer, but an image browser, converter, and an editor as well. You’ll find the interface intuitive and very easy to use.

This program is loaded with features including, renaming, cropping, color adjustments, lossless JPEG transformation, drop shadow effects, image frames, scanner support, histogram and much more.

image

With FastStone installed you’ll have support for all major graphic formats including BMP, JPEG, JPEG 2000, GIF, PNG, PCX, TIFF, WMF, ICO and TGA.

Quick Facts:

Windows Explorer-like user interface

Supports popular image formats

Full Screen viewer with image zoom support and unique fly-out menu panels

One-click image magnifier

Red-Eye removal/reduction

Resize/resample, rotate/flip, crop, sharpen/blur, brightness/contrast, etc.

Image color effects: gray scale, sepia, negative, Red/Green/Blue adjustment

Image special effects: watermark, annotation, drop shadow, framing, bump map, lens, morph, waves

Multi-level Undo/Redo capability

Acquire images from a scanner

Screen capture capability

A no-install, fully portable version, can be run from a removable storage device

Latest Version 3.5 – January 15/2008

FastStone Image Viewer includes two versions in one installation:

Standard Edition – Free for private or educational use.

Professional (Pro) Edition – Registration required.

Download at: Download.com

This article is a followup to an earlier review of this application in April, 2008.

3 Comments

Filed under Freeware, Graphic Software, Image Editors, Photo Tools, Software, USB, Windows Tips and Tools

Create Your Own Web Site With Free Serif WebPlus 6

Serif Box WebPlus 6_ As I’ve mentioned before on this site, SerifSoftware has an unusual way to get you to try, buy, or upgrade, to their latest software offerings. They will give you, free of charge, an older version of any of their software packages. An interesting twist on the usual “try it for free for 30 days” we are all pretty familiar with.

I have used, and tested, Serif’s free editions for 10+ years now, and I have found that even their older software is more than up to the tasks I set.

Sure, the applications may be older than the current versions, but in terms of functionality and features, generally you are not missing much. Much of today’s software tends to be overblown and bloated with features that many users have little or no need of. So, in these older free versions there are not as many tools as one might find with more recent versions of Serif’s products, but those that are there tend to be the ones that are most used by typical users.

Despite the slightly dated appearance of Serif’s WebPlus 6, this is not an “old” program that’s been revived just for give-away. WebPlus 6 is still a very functional and easy-to-use tool that will output a unique custom designed website to promote your club, hobby or business, or to put your favorite family/holiday photos online.

This application doesn’t profess to match Microsoft’s FrontPage or Adobe’s DreamWeaver in functionality; or for that matter, the price you would have to pay to purchase either of these top of the line web development tools. After all, Serif WebPlus 6 is FREE!

So what can you expect from an application that’s an older version of a current application. Well surprisingly, for novice users, Serif WebPlus 6’s easy controls, simple step-by-step wizards and colorful templates are a quick and easy route to creating fun and attractive websites.

With its easy to use Desktop Publishing style interface, automated Web Site templates, visual web page creator, wizards, drag ‘n drop functionality, WYSIWYG editing, and comprehensive help, you can create your own home page on the web in minutes. Best of all, you can do this without having to have had previous experience.

serifwebplus6screen2

Quick facts:

Website Templates

Choose from professionally-designed site schemes, provide some basic information, and then customize to suit your needs. The Layout Checker helps you fine-tune your design for most efficient web use. Then preview your site in your own web browser and publish it to the web.

Easy Editing and Special Effects

With WebPlus, it’s easy to import your own text and graphics to replace the samples in the web site templates. You’ll find integrated word processing tools, plus tools for creating text hyperlinks and hotspot graphics. The Snapping feature and Dot Grid help you achieve a crisp layout. Everything’s wrapped into a friendly desktop publishing environment with onscreen tool tips, hint line, and context-sensitive help!

Logo/Graphic Module

Produce attention-grabbing headlines, unique text effects, and powerful logos instantly using LogoPlus.

Animated Marquee Wizard

Custom-design your own varied and colorful multi-line text messages that scroll across the screen.

Spell-Checking and Thesaurus

Enhance your proofreading potential and ensure your site’s readability with these built-in support tools.

Direct Import of Digital Images

Now you can include images from your digital camera or photos and art work from your scanner, adding sophistication to your pages.

Color Schemes

By using the convenient pre-sets, or by customizing your own intelligent colors, add continuity or dramatically change the appearance of your Web publication with a single mouse click.

Studio Bar

Help your design break out of boring box formats. For a suave designer or fun and funky look take advantage of dozens of new graphic shapes.

Multiple Document Interface

Work on more than one web page at a time, even drag & drop items between them as you work.

System Requirements: Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP

Download at: FreeSerifSoftware

5 Comments

Filed under Freeware, Interconnectivity, Multimedia Tools, Productivity Software, Software, Web Development, Windows Tips and Tools

Audacity – Free Multiplatform Audio Recorder/Editor

Several months back, I needed to record 20 minutes of streaming audio from the Internet, and since I am not an audio hobbyist, and have limited experience recording using my computer, I simply launched Windows Sound Recorder and sat back to watch it do it’s job. I thought!

No such luck. I was surprised to learn the maximum recording time on Sound Recorder is only 30 seconds, which was far too short for my purpose.

A mad scramble to find a freeware/open source replacement for Windows Sound Recorder led me to Audacity which, as it turns out, is the most popular free, open source audio editor/ recorder available. It works with many operating systems, including Windows, Mac, GNU, and Linux.

Audacity has a surprisingly easy to use interface, and I found it to be feature-rich and flexible. The first thing that struck me on launching the program was, it advised me I had several hundred hours of available space on my drives in which to record. Not 30seconds!

Audacity has the capacity to handle multi-track editing, a good number of audio effects including reverb, delay, compression, echo, phaser, wahwah and reverse. Its audio export functions include MP3, OGG, AIFF, and WAV and more.

One of the more interesting features, for me, is Audacity’s capacity to convert tapes and records into digital recordings. I have a large collection of old 60’s and 70’s albums that I have many times considered converting to digital recordings and burning to CD’s. I now have the application to do just that. Now, if I can only find the time!

System Requirements: Windows 98/Me/2000/XP

The Audacity web site lists the following features:

Recording:

Audacity can record live audio through a microphone or mixer, or digitize recordings from cassette tapes, vinyl records, or minidisks.

With some sound cards, it can also capture streaming audio.

Record from microphone, line input, or other sources.

Dub over existing tracks to create multi-track recordings.

Record up to 16 channels at once (requires multi-channel hardware).

Level meters can monitor volume levels before, during, and after recording.

Import and Export:

Import sound files, edit and combine them with other files or new recordings.

Export your recordings in several common file formats.

Import and export WAV, AIFF, AU, and Ogg Vorbis files.

Import MPEG audio (including MP2 and MP3 files) with libmad.

Export MP3s with the optional LAME encoder library.

Create WAV or AIFF files suitable for burning to CD.

Import and export all file formats supported by libsndfile.

Open raw (header less) audio files using the “Import Raw” command.

Note: Audacity does not currently support WMA, AAC, or most other proprietary or restricted file formats.

Editing:

Easy editing with Cut, Copy, Paste, and Delete.

Use unlimited Undo (and Redo) to go back any number of steps.

Very fast editing of large files.

Edit and mix an unlimited number of tracks.

Use the Drawing tool to alter individual sample points.

Fade the volume up or down smoothly with the Envelope tool.

Effects:

Change the pitch without altering the tempo, or vice-versa.

Remove static, hiss, hum, or other constant background noises.

Alter frequencies with Equalization, FFT Filter, and Bass Boost effects.

Adjust volumes with Compressor, Amplify, and Normalize effects.

Other built-in effects include:

Echo

Phaser

Wahwah

Reverse

Sound Quality:

Record and edit 16-bit, 24-bit, and 32-bit (floating point) samples.

Record at up to 96 KHz.

Sample rates and formats are converted using high-quality resampling and dithering.

Mix tracks with different sample rates or formats, and Audacity will convert them automatically in real-time.

Plug-Ins:

Add new effects with LADSPA plug-ins.

Audacity includes some sample plug-ins by Steve Harris.

Load VST plug-ins for Windows and Mac, with the optional VST Enabler.

Write new effects with the built-in Nyquist programming language.

Analysis:

Spectrogram mode for visualizing frequencies.

Plot Spectrum command for detailed frequency analysis.

Download at: Download.com

9 Comments

Filed under Audio Applications, Audio Software, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Open Source, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Free Serif WebPlus SE Web Design Software – New User Friendly

If you’re looking to create that first web site using a WYSIWYG visual web page creator and you want to do it for free, then this free application from SerifSoftware will fill the bill admirably.

With this free package you can turn out an attractive and effective web site without the need for any complex HTML or other programming skills.

Despite the slightly dated appearance of Serif’s WebPlus SE, this is not an ‘old’ program that’s been revived just for give-away. WebPlus SE is still a very functional and easy-to-use tool that will allow you to output a unique custom designed website.

This application doesn’t profess to match Microsoft’s FrontPage or Adobe’s Dreamweaver in functionality; or for that matter, the price you would have to pay to purchase either of these top of the line web development tools. After all Serif WebPlus SE is FREE!

Serif’s objective in releasing older versions of their current programs at no cost is to hopefully convince at least some users to upgrade to current versions of their popular software. An interesting twist on the usual “try it for free for 30 days” we are all pretty familiar with.

Sure, the applications may be older than the current versions, but in terms of functionality and features, generally you are not missing much. In these older free versions there are not as many tools as one might find with more recent versions of Serif’s products, but those that are there, tend to be the ones that are most used by typical users.

So what can you expect from an application that’s an older version of a current application? Well surprisingly, for novice users, Serif WebPlus SE’s easy controls, simple step-by-step wizards and colorful templates are a quick and easy way to create a fun and attractive website.

With its easy to use Desktop Publishing style interface, automated Web Site templates, visual web page creator, wizards, drag ‘n drop functionality, WYSIWYG editing, and comprehensive help, you can create your own home page on the web in minutes. Best of all, you can do this without having to have had previous experience.

One caveat: If you’re an advanced user, this application is not for you since you’ll find its limitations too restrictive for your needs.

Quick facts:

Website Templates – Choose from professionally-designed site schemes, provide some basic information, and then customize to suit your needs. The Layout Checker helps you fine-tune your design for most efficient web use. Then preview your site in your own web browser and publish it to the web.

Easy Editing and Special Effects – With WebPlus, it’s easy to import your own text and graphics to replace the samples in the web site templates. You’ll find integrated word processing tools, plus tools for creating text hyperlinks and hotspot graphics. The Snapping feature and Dot Grid help you achieve a crisp layout. Everything’s wrapped into a friendly desktop publishing environment with onscreen tool tips, hint line, and context-sensitive help!

Logo/Graphic Module – Produce attention-grabbing headlines, unique text effects, and powerful logos instantly using LogoPlus.

Animated Marquee Wizard – Custom-design your own varied and colorful multi-line text messages that scroll across the screen.

Spell-Checking and Thesaurus – Enhance your proofreading potential and ensure your site’s readability with these built-in support tools.

Direct Import of Digital Images – Now you can include images from your digital camera or photos and art work from your scanner, adding sophistication to your pages.

Color Schemes – by using the convenient pre-sets or by customizing your own intelligent colors, add continuity or dramatically change the appearance of your Web publication with a single mouse click.

Studio Bar – Help your design break out of boring box formats. For a suave designer or fun and funky look take advantage of dozens of new graphic shapes.

Multiple Document Interface – Work on more than one web page at a time, even drag & drop items between them as you work.

Download at: FreeSerifSoftware

6 Comments

Filed under Free Full Versions, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Multimedia Tools, Productivity Software, Software, Uncategorized, Web Development, Windows Tips and Tools