Digital Insider’s Tips & Tools; What You Need But Don’t Know It…Yet Page 2

Time Machine
Western Digital's ( My Passport Studio portable drives are designed specifically for Mac OS users and are compatible with the Leopard operating system's Time Machine back-up feature. It's tiny, too, weighing in at just 5 oz, and is available in the following three capacities: 160GB ($129.99), 250GB ($159.99), and 320GB ($219.99). With a single My Passport Studio drive you can store thousands of photos and video clips for easy transport or completely back up your computer's contents. A Capacity Gauge allows users to see how much space is available on the drive quickly and easily. My Passport Studio drive's interfaces include FireWire 400 and a hub-powered USB 2.0 that eliminates the need for an external power source.

Real Prints And Real Frames
Real Memories ( simplifies the framing process by combining high-quality digital photo printing and custom framing. You upload a digital photo, choose a frame, personalize a matte, and view your entire creation before buying it. You can even hang it on a virtual wall to see if it matches your home or office decor. The frames cost less than at a traditional frame shop, although they are not inexpensive. A 4x6 print matted and framed in an approximately 8x10 frame, albeit a luxurious one, costs $50, including shipping. Real Memories provides an extensive choice of custom frame sizes, shapes, and matte configurations as well as online photo editing for enlarging, cropping, and enhancement. You can also emboss any matte with a special message to mark a special occasion, enhance a memory, or create a truly personalized gift. All this gives you the ability to own a frame that is uniquely yours. As a way to create a truly personal gift, Real Memories can't be beat.

Take Flight With X2
For many of us X-2 is forever associated with the Bell X-2, an American research aircraft built to investigate flight characteristics in the Mach 2 range. Dropping out of supersonic speeds and back here on earth, X2 is the name of a new series of imaging software from the Nottingham-based (no Robin Hood jokes please) Serif ( that includes PhotoPlus X2, software with an array of digital image-editing features. A workaday feature of the program includes Makeover Studio that lets you automatically fix redeye, remove blemishes, smooth skin, brighten teeth and eyes, and remove bright hot spots. The Blemish and Patch features combine pixels from pickup and target areas, automatically softening the edges of the selected area to quickly remove imperfections from portraits. What I really liked is PhotoPlus X2's compatibility with Photoshop plug-ins, plus its own array of cool effects filters, including Comic Book, Vignette, and Texture effects. Monochrome fans will appreciate the Black & White Film image adjustment (and adjustment layer) that lets you independently vary the gray scale tonal sensitivity of up to seven colors in your original image and apply a color tint to your converted image. Price for this Windows-only and
Vista-certified program is $79.99.

© 2007, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved

Free Photoshop Actions
PanosFX FAN is a complex but free Photoshop Action from our Greek friend Panos Efstathiadis ( that creates a handheld fan from one of your photographs. Tip: Make sure you run the Action on images that have a landscape orientation. The Action creates 20 slats and, making use of semitransparent layers, adds a number of decorative elements. In addition to the main effect, the Action creates fans with two other interesting perspectives. The Actions work with both Mac OS and Windows computers and you will need an extracting application that handles ZIP files to decompress after downloading the file and Photoshop 7 or higher to run it.