New Year’s Rockin’ Software; Treasures From Around The World Page 2
Don't Burn The Toast
Roxio's (www.roxio.com) Toast is the de facto software standard for burning CD/DVD discs on the Mac OS, including hybrid discs with unique content for Mac or Windows users. Toast 7 Titanium lets you produce HD (High Definition) slide shows with pan-and-zoom effects, transitions, and background soundtracks; audio DVDs with 50 hours of Dolby-quality music and advanced navigation; and data spanning, allowing users to back up large files, folders, and applications across multiple CDs and DVDs. There's also powerful back-up options that allow you to compress and copy an entire 9GB dual-layer DVD onto a standard 4.7GB DVD. Toast 7 supports DivX 6 (see "Not More Buzzwords!"), allowing you to turn DivX video files into DVDs or convert any video file into DivX. New features let you turn iMovie HD and Final Cut HD projects into high-definition discs for playback on an HD TV. You can also personalize your discs with custom icons and backgrounds. Toast 7's retail price is $99.95.
Concerned about digital theft? One way to stop it cold is to watermark your images. There are two ways to watermark images. The first hides code within the picture that generates a recognizable pattern identifying it as your photograph. The second is the visible method used by iWatermark from Script Software (www.scriptsoftware.com) that lets you superimpose a logo or signature onto an image. You can use special effects such as aqua, shadow, or emboss; you can also rotate, scale, and place your watermark anywhere on your photograph while preserving the image's EXIF and IPTC data. This application supports TIFF, PNG, PICT, BMP, JPEG, and GIF images. When creating thumbnails you choose the width and height and iWatermark will scale the image proportionally to fit those boundaries. iWatermark 3 is available for Mac OS and Windows and is the easiest to use watermarking application I've tried.
Behind The 8-Ball?
A while ago I did a rather scathing review of ACD Systems' (www.acdsystems.com) ACDSee 7 image management software. Let's face it, the program sucked and many readers wrote to agree with me. But if I am anything it's forgiving, so when they offered a peek at the beta of ACDSee 8, I said yes. Do I like it better than 7? Yes. ACDSee 8 lets you organize, view, edit, and share your images with improved usability, allowing you to manage photos faster and with more control. A new Quick Search feature lets you type in a word and ACDSee returns in captions, author information, and notes, but you can include matches for file names, keywords, categories, and folders. The Burn Basket eliminates the need for a third-party CD/DVD burning tool, and can create archives and backups of your image files. A Photo Repair tool fixes common photo defects such as blemishes, flares, and lens scratches, and you can fix redeye with a single click. You can also add up to 13 special effects such as Blur, Ripple, Shift, and Twirl. Add text to photos? My favorite new feature lets you write funny captions, including thought bubbles. Sure it's only a beta, but ACDSee 8 offers improved usability, a cleaner interface, and is a big improvement over previous versions.
Stamp Your Images
If you've ever wanted to see your photographs on a postage stamp, try the Stamp Action from our old friend Panos Efstathiadis who designs the most amazing Photoshop Actions I've ever used. His website (www.PanosFX.com) features inexpensive commercial and free Actions, including the wonderful Stamp.
Not More Buzzwords!
DivX (www.divx.com) is based on an open source video codec (compressor/decompressor) called XviD that is based on the MPEG-4 video standard. DivX became a commercial product, while XviD (DivX backward) is distributed under a General Public License. It's a digital media format that lets you play, create, and share digital video by turning bulky files into compact DivX files. The DivX codec compresses video to a convenient size without noticeably losing quality and lets you play those videos on almost any device. For example, the DivX codec can compress a DVD file to 1/10 its original size or a DV home movie by 25:1. For more information, visit www.xvid.org. Don't confuse it with Divx (Digital Video Express), a DVD rental system that rolled out in 1998 and was taken off the market a year later due to poor sales. Divx included a special disc playable only in Divx-enabled players. Consumers paid a rental charge for the non-returnable disc, which was good for two days after its first viewing. It was a bad idea that deserved the fate it received.
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