|March 1, 2019|
One of the cool features of the Mac OS Mojave (10.14.2) is the ability to have dynamic Desktops. These desktop change as the day changes.
Did you know that you can create your own Dynamic Desktop using Graphic Converter?
Basically a Dynamic Desktop is a collection of 16 images in a heic file.
Apple recommends that each image needs to be 5120 x 2880 which is a 5k resolution. Photos taken with the latest iPhone are 4042x3024 - slightly smaller than Apple's recommendation. You can still create a file, just won't look good on a 5k display.
Simple steps to make a set of image your very own dynamic desktop:
Open up Graphic Converter
Browse a directory that has images that you would like to make a Dynamic Desktop
Select 16 images
Select the Action Cog menu then Export, and then Dynamic Desktops. ( You can find the Action on the Browser Window toolbar, or from the Cog icon in the menu bar.)
Create a unique filename and save it to the Desktop for now.
After the file is created, you'll need to move it to the Wallpaper Desktop folder. Use the Finder "Go" Menu and select "Go to Folder..." and type in "/Library/Desktop"
Then open up the "Desktop & Screen Saver" option. The easiest way to do that is to right click on the desktop and select "Check Desktop Background..."
You should see a new "generic" image in the Dynamic Desktop. If you click on it you should see the desktop change to one of your images.
Dynamic Desktop is one of many cool uses of Graphic Converter. Having a dynamic desktop with different photos is a cool way to add a little variation to your day.
|February 22, 2019|
iResize is a neat application that lets you quickly batch process a bunch of JPEG and PNG images. It's a basic application that lacks some powerful features that are available in other applications.
iResize can resize, compress and save as JPEG or PNG the following image formats GIF, JPEG, PICT, PNG, TIFF and PSD files.
Here are some key features of iResize:
As you may know, I am a big fan of PhotoScape X - which has a batch feature functionality. Here are some key differences between the two applications:
iResize is Freeware. You can download the application from the developer's website: http://www.daniele.ch/.
iResize is a very basic image resize application, if your looking for more powerful functionality, I would highly recommend using PhotoScape X.
|February 15, 2019|
If you have an iPhone, chances are you have used the Contact iOS app. Apple makes it easy to add and edit contact information on your phone. Did you know that there is a Contact MacOS App? There are some unique feature in the Desktop version that makes it worth using.
You can create smart groups, which makes it easy to send emails to teams. Simply add a common "hashtag" in the notes field and the user will be added or removed from a certain smart group.
Removed Duplicate entries - Clean up your address book by removing all those duplicate entries.
Create vCards - Useful to share contact information via email, airdrop, Slack and more.
Manage your personal distribution list - Do your contacts have multiple emails? In Contact, you can designate which email to use. So, for example, you can have a Distribution Group for Work and another Distribution for personal emails to the same group of people. (This feature is located via Edit > Edit Distribution List)
You can print mailing labels, envelopes or a contact sheet from the Contacts App. Great for a way to send out Christmas Cards or to keep a hard copy of your most important contacts. To use, simply select File-> Print and then select the style that you want to use. You can select the Avery Template format or use DYMO to print the labels.
Easily add a face to your Contact. Simple click Edit under the Contact, and then drag/drop an image to the circle next to their name. Why add a photo to a contact? When the person calls you you'll see that picture instead of their name.
Print Dialog allows you to print your contacts address on envelopes or labels.
It's a good idea to manage your iOS Contacts frequently. Having a well-organized contact database will help to find contacts.
If you're looking for a practical task to do while waiting in line, manage your contact on the phone. If you have some downtime
|February 8, 2019|
You can take fairly basic photos using GoPro Hero 7. The only problem with the photos is the FishEye effect. The photos should get touched up so it looks great.
One of the easiest ways to clean up the photos is to use PhotoScape X. There's a couple of tools that will help touch up the image.
Here's an example of before/after of the Boston Public Library from Copley Square:
Under the Transformation category is the Fisheye effect tool. While most people think that it's used to add Fisheye, it's also used to remove fisheye, simply by adding a negative amount:
In my testing '-25' seems to be the perfect amount to remove the fisheye effect, just make sure that the focus of the Fisheye is in the center.
Also located in the Transformation category is the Lens Correction Tool. This is where you have a lot more power in fixing the fisheye effect. The only downside is that there's a lot of different possible changes that can be made.
The best settings is using -35 for the Distortion Correction.
GoPro Photos capability isn't a replacement for iPhone XS Max. You may get some good wide-area photos, but the iPhone XS Max handle low light and colors much better.
GoPro Photos is good for landscape shots or when you want a cover photo for a YouTube video.
|February 1, 2019|
Overall the application works pretty well. I did run into an issue with one of my EPS files where it didn't render very well.
Amadine didn't render this EPS file correctly. The screenshot on the left is the Preview application.
Amadine looks promising. I don't think I would buy it since I have Affinity Designer and ArtBoard. One of the cool features of ArtBoard is several instructional sheets to teach you how to use the pen tool. I think that really helps me grasp the whole pen tool concept.
I think Amadine is worth looking at if you're new to vector applications. It's certainly worth downloading and trying it out to see what you think. While Amadine is still in Beta, download the application and try it out.
I would be interested to see how BeLight Software integrates this into Swift Publisher. It would certainly make it Swift Publisher a powerful desktop publisher applications.
|January 25, 2019|
Back in November, the Escapers announced a new updated to their graphic application called Biff. Since I reviewed version one of Biff in March of 2017, I thought it would be good to check out the changes
Three big changes in Biff: Scenes, SVG Import and Code Generation. This is text from an email that announced the new features
Scenes allow you to add perspective to your work, ideal for publicity shots. SVG import allows Biff to take advantage of great resources like The Noun Project, quite simply, you can now use thousands of free SVG resources in Biff. Finally, we've got code generation for both Mac and iOS. This means you can draw out anything you like in Biff, then export the Swift code to draw the elements in your Mac or iPhone app.
This is a pretty cool feature. One of the neat things is the ability to easily create isometric images. Simply create a design, a couple of clicks later you can have an isometric layout.
There are six different perspectives: Reset, Left Tilt, Right Tilt, Left Angled, Flying and lie Flat.
Anything can be made a Scenes, including text. (Think logo design?)
This didn't work at all. Epic failure is one way to describe it.
I dragged and drop several SVG files and they didn't render correctly. One file, a "happy face," rendered upside down and other SVG files didn't render correctly at all.
Looks like there's some work needed with the import. (In fairness, they do say that Biff doesn't rasterize SVGs, it imports and converts them into regular Biff shapes.)
Files I tested were downloaded from the internet, no special compression or features.
Not sure what happened to the image when I dragged/dropped into the workspace.
This is pretty cool, there's support for UIKit and Cocoa. I don't do any coding that requires this functionality but it's neat to see an application that has this feature.
Biff 2 cost $24.99 and I still don't think it's worth getting - especially since SVG Import didn't work for me. Many of the features can be found in other products, such as Affinity Designer, for a bit more money but they do offer additional functionality.
Having said that, the repeater/tile functionality is pretty cool. It's really easy to use and I have seen it available any place else.
Try Biff 2 and see if it meets your needs. You can download a 30-day trial from The Escaper's Website.
|January 18, 2019|
If you take pictures with the GoPro camera you'll notice that the pictures may look distorted because of the fisheye effect. The photo can easily be fixed so they look good - a process that some people call defishing.
Affinity Photo, PhotoScape, and Photoshop Elements have various tools to fix the images. Here's are some quick tips on ways to fix the fisheye effect in these applications.
But the fastest and easiest way I found is to use an App that is specifically designed for that task. Save time from looking for different filters in various applications, and use a dedicated resource to make things easier.
Liquivid Photo Fisheye Removal by Razvan Chisu is a quick and easy way to fix the photos. Simply drag and drop the photo to the app and presto it's fixed.
The application checks the photo meta-data for the camera type and automatically applied the best fix for the camera type. Yes, there is an option for GoPro 7.
I have been playing around with the application for a few days, and here are some of the things that I have learned.
I would recommend trying out Liquivid Photo Fisheye Removal if you have any photos taken with the GoPro. Its simple design makes it easy to use.
|January 11, 2019|
GoPro is a really cool camera. It's great because you can set it up and record videos over a long period - such as time-lapse or recording going down the slopes.
The camera lens on the GoPro is a “Fish Eye” type of lens that can make some shots look a bit weird. This can easily be fixed in post-production without impacting the overall shot.
Unfortunately it is not possible to fix in iMovie. You'll need to use a different Movie Editor or use something like liquivid Video Fisheye Removal ($7.99) to fix the clip.
I recommend getting Wondershare's Filmora since it offers a lot of very cool functionality.
It's really easy to fix GoPro Video clips in Filmora. First, Upload your video to your computer, the easy way is to connect the GoPro cable to the computer and open up Photos. Then drag/drop the clips to the dashboard.
The good thing about this is that you get a “live feed” of the changes, so you can see what works best for your particular shot.
This is a Timelapse video clip using the GoPro 7 Silver on the Framingham/Worcester MBTA Commuter Rail.
|January 4, 2019|
Apple's Dock is a great way to quickly launch all your everyday applications. Simply click on the icon.
But what if you want to access other applications? Usually, it involves Spotlight or opening up the Application folder.
TabLauncher lite is a better way to launch applications that are used often. With TabLauncher there are category tabs on the side of the screen where you can access applications quickly and easily. Now you can combine work-related apps, or graphics apps into simple categories that's easy to find and launch.
TabLauncher will help you find and launch your favorite programs, web pages, folders, or any type of files in a fast and easy way. Taking up fewer resources as possible, and allowing you to personalize the appearance in many ways, by changing colors, images, transparency, animations, and many other options to make it blend in with your desktop.
TabLauncher Lite uses a lot less memory than LaunchBar. This might be a good solution for computers that don't have a lot of memory.
LaunchBar: 584.4 MB
Tab Launcher Lite: 85.1 MB
LaunchBar does offer a lot more features than launching applications, but if that's all you need to do then TabLauncher might be a good solution.
|December 28, 2018|
This year I tested and reviewed a lot of great Macintosh Applications.
This year I posted a lot of great tips and tricks on many applications that I use all the time, such as Pages, Affinity Photo, Photoshop Elements and Macintosh Tools.
Here are the top 8 Macintosh Post of 2018:
I'll continue looking at new applications and giving my thoughts on them. Media seems to be the big thing that I might focus on, as well as storage solutions.
If you have any ideas, let me know!
|December 21, 2018|
Did you know that you can create a Year-on-a-Page calendar in Apple Numbers? Creating a custom calendar will be more productive to hang up near your desk work or on the back of a kitchen cabinet.
You can put all the important dates and customize the month's colors to your liking. This template gives you more flexibility than some websites. (I wasn't able to find similar functionality in Excel or Word.)
To get the Year-On-A-Page, simply open up Apple Numbers, select new, go to the Education category and select Academic Calendar.
To change the start date, simply, click on the month (September - by default) and then select the month. You can change the year by selecting the year and then up/down arrow the year.
There is a Month tab that allows you to fill in specific details for each month. Data entered here doesn't get carried over to the Description area on the Year-On-A-Page view. (That would be very nice)
You can highlight the background of days but you can't change the text, for example, add an Emoji on your birthday.
The Header text has no effect on the Calendar, so you can enter whatever you want.
|December 14, 2018|
On December 12th, Wondershare officially released the latest version of their video editor - Filmora 9. This update allows users to have up to 100 video tracks, audio keyframing, and more tools that people are looking. They are able to do this while keeping the interface as simple as possible.
Filmora 9 makes it super easy to create quality videos.
The first thing Mac users will notice is the application window is now using dark mode.
The split screen functionality has been removed from the toolbar.
By default the title inspector no longer opens up a separate window, the area above the timeline becomes the title inspector. If you want the previous functionality click on the advance button to see the Title Inspector window.
Music category has been renamed Audio
You can now better sort the various assets under each category. Before you could only sort by large thumbnail or small thumbnail. Now you can do a list view, and group by category.
To get to the Instant Cutter Tool, right click on a video in the Project library and select 'Instant Cutter Tool'
When Exporting to YouTube, there are more options when identifying the Quality. Users can now separately change the video and audio tracks quality.
Anyone that purchased the previous update and selected the Lifetime option of previous versions of Filmora. This is definitely a better option since Wondershare is actively working on making Filmora better and better. The current lifetime price is a one-time fee of $59.99.
You can download a trial of Filmora 9 from their website.
|December 7, 2018|
If you need to convert any audio file SoundConverter is the quick go-to app. All it does is convert sound from one format to another format. There's no editing capabilities and may crash if you try to convert a very large file.
I was working on transcribing a bunch of Real Audio files so that I could play them on the Alexa. I simply set the desired output format and dragged and dropped the files on the SoundConverter Window and within a minute all the audios were successfully covered to the recommended format.
Amazon's own documentation recommends only has two methods to convert sound files: ffmpeg and Audacity. While you can write up a quick bash script to convert a bunch of files using ffmpeg, it's so much quicker to use SoundConverter.
This is the recommended setting to play audio on the Alexa devices when playing it through a skill.
SoundConverter is available on the Apple Store for free. There are other applications that can convert sounds, but this is the quick app to convert a bunch of audio files in a batch mode.
The application is a bit old, and hasn't been updated in a few years - six years to be exact! It still works, it may crash every once in a while, but just restart the App and it just keeps on working.
After converting the sounds, I used Fission to check the audio and Normalize some of the clips.
|November 30, 2018|
Photolemur is a great application that will make digital pictures look much better. You don't have to configure anything - there's no figuring the color temperature, tone or saturation / vibrance. Simply drag and drop any image and be amazed at the transformation.
Description from the Site
The world's first fully automated photo enhancer that makes all your images great automatically with the help of Artificial Intelligence.
Who says you need loads of free time and expensive software to perfect your images? Photolemur does all the heavy lifting, so you can spend more time having photo-worthy adventures!
Check out these two before/after examples:
Cape Cod Shore - Original on the left, Photolemur version on the right. I like how blue the sky is and the bring green color of the trees.
Disney Haunted Mansion at Night - Original on the left, Photolemur version on the right. Notice, in the Photolemur version, you can see more of the tree on the left of the haunted mansion. Also, notice that you can see more of the walkway brick under the light.
Simply drag an image, and the software does all the work enhancing the photo. It might take 10-15 seconds. Afterward, you can see the before/after and then if you like it to save the image to your desktop, email or smugmug.
When exporting, there's advanced settings button. This is where you can set up presets to common settings - such as file location, naming, format and resize.
You can add additional Export Options by adding accounts to the 'Internet Accounts' in the System Preferences. This will allow you to export to Twitter, Facebook etc.
There are additional styles available that help enhances photos better in certain situations, such as fashion, street photography, sunsets, and landscapes. I have found that the default "No Style" had the best results. I did find it difficult to figure out which styles work best for which images situation.
The File Size minimum is 800 by 600. If you try to transform a smaller image you will get a warning.
I had this application in my app folder since July and finally paid for it during the Black Friday promotion. I have found that it's a great way to bring images to life. Pictures that I thought were just 'okay' transformed into amazing photos.
Applications like Luminar give you a lot more options, but if you want a quick image fix. I would highly recommend adding Photolemur
Photolemur cost $35 for a single license, there is a trial version where you have all the image enhancement capabilities of the full version. You're only limited to batch processing multiple images.
|November 23, 2018|
Every year I put out my list of things I am seeing if they offer any special deals during Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Most of my “watch” items are centered around the Macintosh.
Notion - Great App. Some people think it’s a substitute to Evernote, but I think it still lack key features - such as a web clipper. They are working on making it awesome. They may have some great incentive this weekend.
PhotoStyler - Cool application, but it hasn’t gotten an updated in a few years. At $29.99 it’s a pretty steep price.
Photolemur - I have seen deals around $35, I might pick it up if it goes just below that amount.
Wondershare Filmora - I have the application, but they may have some deals around the pack subscriptions
uDemy - I have several courses that I have on my wishlist and if the price is right then I will sign up for them. They are running a $9.99 deal, which is pretty much the same deal they run several times a year.
Flickr - Earlier this month Flickr announced some changes to their membership plans. Who knows if they will have any Thanksgiving Deals. Worth a watch.
Dropbox - They haven’t had deals in the past, but who know’s this year could be different.
Creative Market - Haven’t purchased anything this year. Might have some good deals. Great place to find stock art and vector designs. They are a great source for font and templates.
envatoMarket - Large selection of graphics, audio and code. They do have some unique files that can’t be found any place else.
Fiverr - Thinking ahead to 2019 and to a new video intro for my YouTube channel. Fiverr is a great place to find it.
These are some of the things I am looking at in 2018:
Be sure to check out LifeHacker’s “When is the Best time to Buy Anything.” While you might see a lot of good deals this weekend, you can find good deals all year long.
Have a fun 2018 Black Friday shopping!