Category: Software | Apps

Make the move to the Adobe Creative Cloud

Using Adobe products for the past 20 years, I’ve gotten use to every 12-18 months upgrading to the latest CS build. Over the past couple weeks, I decided to test drive the new Creative Cloud and I was blown away by the experience. As a existing user, I was able to take advantage of special pricing for the first year and then it runs $69 per month. Once you are a member you gain access to the entire creative suite and you can choose which options to install and download. The setup and installation process was painless and easy to complete. 

As you can see below, you get access to the full suite of tools including the new Edge tools which include Preview versions of unreleased HTML5 software tools.

Looking for a Cloud Backup solution – I love CrashPlan

Just wanted to share a great tool I discovered about 3 months ago – CrashPlanPro http://www.crashplan.com/

 

The service works great with mac and windows machines, I’m using it with my MacBook Pro’s and love the service. After using a couple of the others, I found this one offers the best throughput and ease of use for macs. I went with the 3 year plan and can add all my computers and I don’t have to think about backing up with it working in the background, I can see that my data is easily available than via any machine as long as I have my login id and password. My main laptops use a 500gb hd so I was looking for a way to backup and archive without having to worry about drives locally and storing them offsite. They even offer a hard drive exchange to do a initial back or to get your data back if you ever require a full reinstall. I still use a local hard drive with time machine to have a local copy available.

 

They offer a 30 day trial, so I would recommend giving it a test drive if you are looking for a easy way to back up data.

Apple introduces iBook Author, the cost? FREE

 

 

Apple introduces a new app iBooks Author which allows you to integrate and develop content right within the tool. Will play and report back with some examples shortly. Content is published to the iOS platform via the new iBooks app. You can download today via the App Store. You can use HTML and Javascript to expand capabilities further. McGraw-Hill: hard at work on Algebra 1, Biology Chemistry, Geometry, Physics, used by 3m students. All five available today. Read the event coverage by MacNN: http://www.macnn.com/live/#ixzz1jvT0JAa8

 

Watch the Apple video here to learn more:

 

They also announced a new app for iTunes U so you can have a course with content in one place.

iOS: Zite: Great news app for keeping up on what interests you…

 

Zite is a great iOS app for exploring and keeping up on the latest news in your favorite categories, similar to FlipBoard, it displays the latest stories in several views which you can easily navigate by moving left to right in the top area and then your stories will display. Selecting a story will display the article with options to share with others as well as vote which will improve the news items that are presented each time you use the app.

You can easily setup an account so you can share you profile and categories between multiple devices. Easy to use and great app to keep up with the latest information.

Download:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/zite-personalized-magazine/id419752338?mt=8

Lego’s Life of George interacts with the iOS platform – very cool Augmented Reality

Life of George includes both a building game mode with single and 2 player mode, as well as creation mode where you design and capture your own models. In the building game you receive challenges on your iPhone/iPod Touch that you build with real LEGO bricks. In the 2 player mode you can challenge a friend and compete on 5 different models to see who builds the fastest. There are various difficulty levels determined by the models and the time setting you choose (easy or hard).

Expecting one from Santa, will report after I, I mean the little one gets to play with it.

Learn more at:
http://george.lego.com/

Order at:
http://shop.lego.com/en-US/Life-of-George-21200?CMP=EMC-SH2011_Oct_LifeofGeorge_US&HQS=Hero_CTA&RRID=1234232&RMID=SAH_2011_10_Life_of_George_PR_US

Great Mac App – WREN – Quickly tweet without distractions

Been using this new app that I found on the app store and it works great. You can keep it open, type a quick note, comment, or url you want to share and tweet away without having to worry about catching up with your main stream. You can do that when you have time…
Allows you to have 3 drafts, chose a link shortener and shows your last tweet. It’s $4.99 and available at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wren/id439545337?mt=12

Great app for the iPad – Apollo News, lets you keep informed with the latest news.

If you are looking for a easy way to keep up with the news, science, technology, sports, and entertainment check out the new Apollo News app for the iPad. It automatically pulls in the latest news and you can give it a thumbs up or down on an article and it will customize the content as your provide feedback.

The app is similar in design to Pulse News which is a great way to keep on RSS feeds that you enter. I prefer the interaction on Apollo News for Quick Viewing an article and navigating from the dashboard to the article and back.


Blurry video with annoying music but still a great app for $2.99 -turn volume off first (I warned you if you didn’t.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cqlu-kWAcHA?wmode=transparent]

Wireframing and Interface Design with MockUp for Mac/PC/Linux and SketchyPad for iPad #lrnchat

Balsamiq’s Mockup

If you are looking for a easy and quick way to start designing UI’s without creating your own templates, check out MockUp. We’ve been using it the last couple of weeks and after using several tools over the last dozen years its a refreshing way to start to design layouts and work with various elements from the built in object library.

Balsamiq’s Mockup for Desktop $79 (Windows, Linux, Mac Desktop app)

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SketchApp
A great little app for the iPad for reviewing ideas and wireframes or interactive sessions with the team to design interfaces and content layout. You can also export to XML for use in MockUp. Learn more at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sketchypad/id372049989?mt=8

Demo of how it works:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbyxzYb9q08?wmode=transparent]

MytubeIphoneexamplesWiki

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HTML 5 – What does it mean to me? #elearning #web development #creative #lrnchat

HTML 5 is a major step forward for the web and the ability for developers to create the next generation of tools and applications for users. There’s been a lot of talk over the last couple of weeks with Adobe and Apple and I think there is a lot of confusion out there so I hope this assists in clarifying what it will mean to you. 
Overview
HTML 5 is a open standard that is still in development but the major browsers FireFox, Safari, Chrome and Opera have jumped in to support it. While the standards are still being developed there are features that are common among them and over the next several months we’ll see improved support as updates come quick from the browsers. You’ll notice one browser is missing, did you catch it? Microsoft announced a beta version of Internet Explorer at the Mix conference earlier this year. You can download the latest rev at: http://www.ietestdrive.com/

Does HTML 5 replace Flash?
HTML 5 is not designed as a replacement for Flash but does provide new tags for directly dropping in audio and video without 3rd party plug-ins. This is a huge improvement and makes it easier for content developers to deliver their content to users. A great example of this is how YouTube can be currently viewed in HTML 5 or via Flash and HTML 4. 

HTML 5 also supports animation, vector graphics and several new standards which overlap with Flash and would strongly be considered before using Flash because of their ease of integration and delivery within the browser. Flash will not go away but will continue to grow and be used as a language for delivering content and interactive experiences and applications.

This provides developers with additional tools to have users interact with content, information and improve web based applications.

HTML 5 brings 4 major improvements to the browser:


1. Graphics – improve graphics and animation support without additional codecs within the browser


2. Location – create an API for being able to show where you currently located or what is around you for mobile devices


3. Storage – ability to store offline locally within the browser data so that you do not have to have a constant connection to a site


4. Speed – improve browser speed in working with content, running scripts in the background and improving user experience

The HTML 5 committee wants to insure:

1. Support Existing Content so whatever was created in the past will still continue to work


2. Insure Interoperability between browsers and technologies so that it would be easier to create apps. 


3. Support of Standards – these are still being developed but they are off to a great start, explained below. Hopefully the major browsers will see this the same way. For example, when you shop for a car, its standard for a car to come with wheels and brakes.

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4. Improved Error Handling – when a browser encounters a error, instead of crashing the browser, a dialog box will appear asking you if want to continue or stop the action. 


5, Evolve, not recreate what we already have – which translates to not just creating new standards for the sake of it, they want to focus on building and developing standards that will improve the language and improve developers as well as viewers experience with the web.

There are 5 major areas that you can start to play with and take advantage of the technology today.

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1. Canvas & SVG
HTML 5 includes support for two new graphic formats:


Scalable Vector Graphics – SVG
– this allows you to embed Illustrator graphics/content or EPS files in the SVG format and directly support it via the browser. Because of the vector format, these graphics are scalable, look great and appear to the user as a rendered JPEG. This means you can use one product or company logo and instead of saving in multiple files and sizes you are able to use one SVG graphic and resize via code without additional file size or graphics to maintain or load on the users browser. 


Canvas API – provides a new way to deliver graphics and animation via the browser with interactivity. Examples:

First Person Gifter – in this example you walk around a maze using the arrow keys on your keyboard. Notice the alpha channel on the flowers as you move around. Excuse my collisions with the walls. 

Canvas and SVG are currently supported in: 

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2. Video
Currently when we think of video playback on the web we think of Flash as our major delivery technology. HTML 5 introduces a new tag for directly embedding video onto a page just like we include a graphic currently.

// HTML 5 makes <video> as easy as <img>
versus a Flash embed:

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Currently there are two main codes competing, H264 supported by Apple and Chrome and OGG Theora supported by Chrome, FireFox and Opera. Interesting tidbit – OGG Theora codec was named after Theora Jones, Edison Carter’s Controller on the Max Headroom television program.OGG was released into the open source community by On2 Technologies which was acquired by Google late last year. Google is suppose to announce a newer version of the On2 codecs. Steve Jobs made a comment last week that the OGG codec has issues with licensing and patents just as the H264 has. Currently, from what I’ve read the H264 content is ok to use until 2015 when licensing could become a issue again. 

H264 is supported by all major video technologies and what’s nice for video content developers is that the same compressed video can be supported via Flash and HTML 5 so you can have one video running in both environments and not have to compress multiple versions.

QuickTime supports the export of H264 easily and you can export to OGG via a free add-on to QuickTime at http://xiph.org/quicktime/download.html.

Another great feature HTML 5 video is going to support is the ability to click anywhere within a download stream, prior to it being cached which will provide a nice way for viewers to jump around in video content and cache from the point that they want to view.

Video tag currently supported in: 

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3. Geolocation API
The geolocation api brings browser based location to applications. This will allow you, while viewing browser content and a map to show your current location on it or while walking down the street you can search for a restaurant or based on your interest in eating lunch your phone or mobile devices shows you several stores or locations on a map.

Example: http://htmlfive.appspot.com/static/whereami.html

Geolocation currently supported in: 
 (currently mobile safari only supported)

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4. App Cache and local database storage provides a way for users that are viewing or working with content to continue while offline. This will allow developers to sync or move data to the local side, allow the user to edit and then automatically upload once an internet connection is available.

App cache and local database currently supported in: 

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Web workers defines an API for running background scripts.

Web workers currently supported in: 

How do I get Started?

http://www.html5doctor.com 

Great place to learn about and get started with HTML 5

http://www.caniuse.com/ 

To learn about what works in each browser, a great resource

http://www.html5demos.com

Resource for examples and how to’s

http://html5gallery.com/

See mainstream examples of sites using HTML 5 today

http://www.css3.info

Learn about CSS 3

http://www.kesiev.com/akihabara/

A 2D gaming engine for HTML 5

There are also javascript libraries that you can use today to test if the browser is compliant and if not switch to an alternate version of the content or page based on the browser.

Looking Ahead
With the latest from Apple and Google building upon the webkit browser, the future looks great for developers and users to get the best in content delivery. Blackberry also announced last month that their OS 6 releasing this summer will be built on the Webkit browser as well so look for consistency there now as well.

Hope that helps you get started and gets you thinking about how to incorporate into your next project!

SnagIt for the Mac Beta now available – Screen Capture Utility

Snagit is a great screen capture and annotation product that has been available for Windows for several years and TechSmith is just announced an open beta for the mac version. If you haven’t used it I would recommend taking it for a test drive, it provides several great features in capturing screens as well as adding annotations during reviews or sharing information with clients or internal teams. Remember TechSmith also offers the free jing screen capture for stills and video at: http://www.jingproject.com/.

Snagit-icon

Download the beta at : http://www.techsmith.com/snagitmac/

Learn more by watching the video:

Snagit_mac_beta-1




For Windows: Learn more at: http://www.techsmith.com/screen-capture.asp


TechSmith also introduced Camtasia: mac earlier this year for $99. You can download a test drive, it works great for training videos, screencasts as well as marketing pieces. http://www.techsmith.com/camtasiamac/

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TweetDeck .25: The Twitter Desktop Tool and so much more….

If you are using Twitter and looking for a desktop tool, take a look at TweetDeck. It’s in beta, it’s free and it’s available for both mac and windows.

The interface can be used as a simple 1 column feed and tweeter or you can customize it to include groups of friends, Facebook Status, Direct Messages and include several columns of information based on the size of your monitor and your needs.

http://www.tweetdeck.com/
 
For a quick tutorial, check out this getting started video by Cali Lewis/Geekbrief.tv <a href="http://www.geekbrief.tv/gbtv-517-how-to-tweetdeck-like-a-pro.

http://www.geekbrief.tv/gbtv-517-how-to-tweetdeck-like-a-pro.</p>

Safari 4 Beta – Play with it Today!

The latest beta release for the Safari browser looks great and is fast. When you first try it out, the tabs (now above the title bar) seem a little out of place but once you play with it for a while I’ve come to the conclusion it is an improvement. So far I have not run into any problems on my routine daily sites, blogs and apps.

 As you type in a url or in the search area, a auto-drop down appears with choices which is a great time saver. There is also built in spell and grammar checking now. The new zoom in/out page view is nice implemented as well. The beta is available for both mac and windows. Full feature list at: http://www.apple.com/safari/features.html

 Learn more at http://www.apple.com/safari/

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