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Archive for the Software Category

OS X SteerMouse

Posted by Scott

smouse.pngJust a quick follow up to the design mouse post, wanted to point out a great piece of software I use on OS X to really dial in the sensitivity on my mouse. One of the main roadblocks to me accepting OS X was the strange, sluggish mousing behavior that seems to be inherent to OS X (and I know it’s not just me, a simple Google search will turn up endless pages on the subject). Someone in a forum mentioned SteerMouse, a light weight Pref. Pane app that allows extensive customization of mouse options. It basically replaces your standard mouse drivers and adds a lot of options. It also compensates for the PC/Mac mouse movement difference, now I feel about the same on both systems. I bought it for the “cursor” settings page alone, but soon found that the “buttons” page had a lot of cool options as well. You can set key-combo macros and also have different settings for each mouse you have or have different settings depending on what app you’re using (great for Photoshop). I highly recommend the app for people switching from PC, and anyone else looking to make the most of their mouse. SteerMouse ($20)

Vintage-ize Your Iphone Photos

Posted by Scott

IMG_0665.JPG3023222101_cf7c4e6f36_b.jpgAfter I posted about the Poladroid app some people were asking about a Lomo version of the concept. My friend Erik Pettersson has released a set of photo processing apps for the iPhone which give your digital shots that vintage warmth. There’s a Vint Red, Green and B&W plugin, each treating the colors a bit differently. My favorite is the Green, it definitely gives you that low ISO Lomo feel complete with vignetting. More examples are available on Erik’s Flickr.You can download the Vint plugins from the iTunes store or on your iPhone, one is free, the other two are $1 each.

Erik also sent the photo below he says he found at his parent’s house and which was the inspiration for the plugins. Everything looked cooler in the 70′s in Sweden.

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Intel Core i7

Posted by Scott

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Tech Radar has a good article about Intel’s upcoming Core i7 processor, the first truly integrated quad core from intel (apparently the previous quad cores were actually just two dual cores cobbled together). Judging from the specs and the multi-threading performance this looks to be a very good thing for us in the multimedia world. Couple that with OS X Snow Leopard’s supposed focus on improving multi-core support and it’s looking like things could get very powerful coming up here. That is of course, if the developers hold up their end of the bargain by creating software that efficiently takes advantage of new hardware. But judging from past experience, it’s pretty clear that’s not going to happen (Case in point: Photoshop is still 32-bit on the Macintosh. WTF?). Either way, it’s exciting to see that processor technology is still moving along at a steady clip. Long live Moore’s Law!

Article Link

CS4 Gets Official

Posted by Scott

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As if you didn’t already know, Adobe today announced the latest iteration of it’s Creative Suite, CS4. There aren’t any real surprises and most of the updates fall squarely in incremental territory. I am excited about the intelligent image scaling and GPU acceleration in Photoshop. I was a beta tester for Photoshop so I’ve had a chance to see these features in action. I didn’t notice any huge performance gains with the GPU acceleration, but then again my workflow doesn’t really include a lot of the tasks the new feature is supposed to speed up. I also got a chance to get a 64-bit version of PS running on my Windows XP 64 install to test out the performance now that Photoshop can actually "see" all 8GB of memory in my system. Again, the performance gains weren’t really noticeable which was somewhat disappointing. I think the cause of this was file size though. I think once you’re dealing with files that occupy more space in memory than you have physically installed in your system, the scratch disks are the key. In other words, I don’t think Photoshop seeing and extra 6GB of memory is really all that important when the file you’re working with is taking up far more and still writing to scratch disks.

I’ll admit though, I just haven’t had the time to really put it through it’s paces and get any real figures, these were just my initial impressions from the limited experience I’ve had with the software. I guess I just always looked forward to the day Photoshop became 64-bit with GPU acceleration as the day I could effortlessly tear through an 18×26" poster @ 300dpi without so much as a screen refresh delay; sadly, I don’t think we’re there quite yet. All that aside, I’m always excited to have an update to my favorite software. All of the previous updates have added great features / functionality and this version is no different. Link

Your New Favorite Browser

Posted by Scott

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My friend turned me on to Google’s entry into the browser market today and I have to say I am pretty impressed. Chrome is a lightweight, search-centric take on the web browser which aims to speed up the browsing experience. So far it’s lived up to that lofty goal for me, all while taking up only 34MB in memory (less than half that of FireFox).  The installer is a svelte 475KB and it even did a seamless import of all my Firefox settings. You can take it for a spin over here. Sorry, but it’s Windows only for the time being; chalk that up as at least a temporary win in the Windows UI/UE column.

Via Steve Kustin

Update: Alex / HDP noted that a nice graphic explanation (pictured below) of the purpose / uses / drawbacks of Chrome can be found here. It all starts to hit home when you read the line "we’re applying the same kind of process isolation you find in modern operating systems". Now, when you consider the overarching concept of web apps (I am now completely dependant on Gmail and Gcal) and the still nascent concept of Instant-On Operating Systems, well, you start to get the big picture: Google is potentially positioning itself as an operating system. If you thought MS had a monopoly, imagine a world where the same company makes the OS, browser, and search technology you use. The only thing missing is the hardware, and who knows, I am sure there is a hardware research division somewhere deep within the sprawling Google campus. Oh, and that’s not even counting the fact that your phone could soon be running a Google OS.

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XP SP3 Warning

Posted by Scott

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Hot on the heels of me gushing about the stability of Windows XP, I wanted to give a heads up for those of you XP faithful out there considering the Service Pack 3 Update.  I setup of a new partition on my machine a when SP3 came out to test it out with Photoshop and Sonar (the app I use to record music). For Photoshop at least, the experiment was a total disaster. SP3 somehow managed to cripple PS CS3 to the point that it was crashing every 30 minutes or so. I limped along like that for a couple weeks then tried uninstalling SP3 just to see how well the rollback would go; needless to say, it didn’t work out too well. I’ve since deleted that partition and gone back to my SP2 install. A quick Google search on the topic will turn up some people saying the same thing.

Of course this is not a very scientific study and your mileage will vary, just wanted to note my experience with the update. Besides, from what I’ve read SP3 doesn’t really add much and given the proven stability of SP2, I don’t see much of a reason to gamble with this new service pack. And if you Mac fanatics are thinking "If you just bought a Mac this wouldn’t happen!" just remember: the Leopard 10.5.2 update (the OS X equivalent of a Service Pack) completely screwed a lot of musicians (me included, I have a Mac Pro as well as a PC). Just sayin’, we all got problems!

If you are running SP3 with Photoshop, let us know how it’s going.