Mac OS Meets Windows; Peaceful Coexistence Within Platforms

"Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome."
--Isaac Asimov

I've tried to dump my Windows computer many times over the past few years, but the reality of writing Digital Innovations dictates it should be cross platform. So when my eMachines motherboard was fried, it was easier and cheaper to replace the computer with a new Compaq from Micro Center (www.microcenter.com). Since I'd just upgraded my Power Mac G4 with a 22" Cinema Display, I decided to move my 20" Apple widescreen monitor to the Compaq, which proved easier than you might think.

Apple Widescreen

Older Cinema Displays used a propriety--big shock here--Apple Display Connector (ADC) connection, so the first thing I needed was an adapter that would convert ADC to standard DVI (Digital Visual Interface) as well as provide power. The solution was Apple's $100 DVI to ADC Display Adapter, not to be confused with its $29 ADC to DVI connector cable. The second piece of the puzzle was installing a video card that's equally at home inside a Mac OS or Windows computer. This turned out to be an ATI (www.ati.com) Radeon 9600 PRO. The result? The quality of the image on the 20" Cinema Display is spectacular. High rollers will be glad to know that this video card supports Apple's 30" HD display. The board requires a computer with an AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) slot so before installing make sure yours has one.

Radeon 9600 PRO

As part of the upgrade, I replaced Compaq's flimsy ball mouse with Logitech's (www.logitech.com) MX400 laser mouse. Designed for gaming, the MX400 is fast, precise, and ergonomically comfortable. At PMA 2006, I got a glimpse of Logitech's S530 wireless keyboard and ergonomic scrolling mouse. More on this cool Mac product next month.

Logitech MX400

Plug-In Of The Month
Alien Skin Software's (www.alienskin.com) Exposure brings the look and feel of film to digital photography. Exposure is two plug-ins: Black and White Film emulates a dozen different film stocks and Color Film not only recreates a film's distinctive look as a more-or-less one-click operation but manages saturation, color temperature, dynamic range, softness, sharpness, and grain at the same time. These presets are just the starting point and can be tweaked to suit a particular photograph or applied to a batch using Photoshop Actions. Exposure can add grain to an image's shadows, mid tones, or highlights and models the size, shape, and color of real-world grain. The plug-in presets include high-level contrast and highlight and shadow controls that can be applied with just a click.

Additional features reproduce studio and darkroom effects such as cross-processing, split-toning, push processing, and glamour portrait softening. Exposure even includes presets for cross-processed Lomo-style image shots with your choice of four different manufacturers' films! In addition to a before/after button, the preview window includes an optional split preview and combines unlimited undo/redo pan and zoom using Photoshop-style keyboard shortcuts.

Exposure

Actions Of The Month
The PanosFX Synthesis Action creates a classic collage effect and is free to registered visitors of the website (www.panosfx.com). There are two versions: One creates a collage that can be easily customized; the other uses a standard configuration. Cracked Wall Paintings is another freebie set of Photoshop Actions that will make your photos look as if they were painted on a wall long ago; time has left its marks on the wall's surface, making it look cracked and part of the painting has peeled off.

Synthesis Action

Cracked Wall Paintings
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