Make all your photos the best they can be with Photoshop CS5

With the holidays here and gone, it’s likely that most everyone has more digital pictures than they know what to do with. Once you’ve gone through all of them, you’ve likely found the ones that you’ll keep, the ones you’ll delete, and the ones you want to tweak. This is why I really like tools like Adobe Photoshop Extended CS5. It’s the premier photo editing tool for PC, and it’s a must have, if you can afford it.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended delivers all the state-of-the-art editing, composition, and graphic design capabilities of Photoshop CS5.  It also adds breakthrough tools for 3D design and motion editing. Now, it can also be used with creativity-boosting, mobile apps. Working with your pictures away from your computer with CS5 just got easier.

If you’ve ever had a really tricky shape or area you wanted to select, but had trouble getting it just right, you’re going to like what you see in Photoshop CS5 Extended.  Now you can get better-than-ever results when selecting these tricky image elements, such as hair. You can also eliminate background color around selection edges and automatically vary selection edges and perfect masks using PS’s new refinement tools. You can also create photo-realistic, high dynamic range (HDR) images quickly and with unprecedented accuracy. You’ll get stunning results thanks PS’s automatic ghost removal; and have greater control of  tone mapping and adjustments.

Photoshop CS5 Extended is perhaps the most advanced image editing tool available on the internet today. With it, you can do almost anything that you can imagine with your digital photos. Its tools are state of the art and top of the line, which provide not only its strength, but its weaknesses as well. As much as EVERYONE will want to use it, the tools are often not the easiest to learn and use.  Many of its features require a great deal of skill and a steep learning curve to master. However, once you do master them, you’re going to find that this is THE tool to have, provided you can afford to purchase it in the first place.

read full review | download Adobe Photoshop Extended CS5

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Keep your PC safe with this industry leading malware tool – ESET NOD32 Antivirus

I had a friend of mine come to me and tell me of a malware infection he caught over the weekend. It happened because he was sent a piece of email, that he did NOT open; but the message hit his inbox and created a huge amount of havoc anyway. The virus got around his AV scanner.

Having the right AV scanner for your system is important, as my friend is likely going to have to completely blow his system and rebuild it from scratch. This is one of the reasons why I like ESET NOD32 Antivirus. It’s a professional malware prevention application for Windows.

ESET NOD32 Antivirus intercepts and eliminates viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware and other Internet threats with their proactive, heuristic technology. ESET NOD32 Antivirus protects you from known and emerging threats. It offers a simpler, more secure digital experience; and its accompanying Internet security training teaches you how to avoid cyber threats, scams and hackers to make your online experience even safer.

Its New, Enhanced Interface allows you to manage functionality efficiently with intuitive controls that includes access to Most Frequently Used Actions from all its screens. It also enables easier navigation of the advanced setup tree, including its customized, behavior-based HIPS to improve your PC’s security by specifying rules and permissions for the system registry and active processes and programs.

In today’s information-centric communities, ESET NOD32 Antivirus helps protect your data and your PC when you share files.  Not all computer threats come through the Internet. Removable Media Control protects you from potentially infected files exchanged through USB flash drives, CDs and DVDs. Its Cloud-Enhanced Whitelisting allows you to scan faster using its Cloud-Powered Reputation engine that compares your data to trusted files compiled in ESET’s Live Grid database of over 100 million ESET users.

Read full review | Download ESET NOD32 Antivirus

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Must Have Android Apps and Widgets for Business Users

For those that got an Android smartphone for Christmas, finding the right software to assist you in your work and personal life can be a bit of a challenge. Here are some great suggestions to get you started.

Any time you move to a new phone, you’ve got to determine if the software you’ve grown accustomed to or dependent upon will work on your new device. If you’re moving from one device to another that uses the same mobile OS, this isn’t a huge issue, however, when moving from, let’s say a Blackberry to an Android smartphone, this can be a problem.

A good friend of mine recently took a position at a new company and had to leave his Blackberry behind. He chose a new HTC EVO Shift 4G from Sprint; and while he loves the phone, moving from standard BB fare to something as connected and capable as the EVO Shift 4G can be a bit daunting, especially when you’ve got to integrate one device for both work and play into your life. There’s a great deal of valuable software in the Android Market that can help do that for you. Finding it, is the hard part. Here are my suggestions for must have applications that can help the busy work and road warrior integrate a new Android Phone into their daily routine.

Android Agenda Widget
Whether you’re a C-level exec or a busy soccer mom, having your schedule in front of you when you turn your device on, is a must have for many smartphone users. Unfortunately, the Android Calendar widget leaves a great deal to be desired. Thankfully, I found the Android Agenda Widget from Everybody all the Time. With the ability to display multiple calendars and supporting a number of different display sizes, this free Android widget fills a huge hole; and makes it easy to keep your next appointment in front of you.

Go Weather
EVERYBODY that I know of, loves the HTC Clock & Weather widget that their SenseUI interface made famous. Unfortunately, unless you root your non-HTC/non-SenseUI device and install a custom ROM on it, non-SenseUI devices won’t have anything similar available to them by default. Thankfully, a similar look and feel is available through apps from many different developers in the Android Market. One of my favorite freebies is Go Weather.

Like the HTC widget, the app is Location Services compatible, and will give you not only current time and weather conditions on your home screen, but a separate app that displays your extended, local forecast information. The application supports skinning, full motion HD video, has live wallpaper as well as a status bar icon that displays current temperature information for the location you’re currently “following.” The application is worth installing, regardless of the type of device you have, solely for its status bar, temperature icon.

 This gets your schedule and a decent weather presence on your device. It also gives you a healthy sense of how location services can provide value without compromising too much personal information. Come back next time, and I’ll give you my final recommendations for must have Android apps.

Launcher Pro
Android’s stock program launcher is ok; but there are other launchers available that offer increased functionality at a very reasonable price. Launcher Pro provides access to not only the standard Android application tray, but also an unlimited number of scrollable docks. The launcher is free, and is less memory intensive than SenseUI. The registered version is $3.49USD, and offers users access to its custom home screen widgets.

If you use Launcher Pro on a SenseUI device, you may disable SenseUI, so you’ll need to be aware of this.

Google Voice
All Android phones can benefit from Google Voice. Its deep OS integration provides for free, unlimited text messaging through your standard cellular data connection. Its visual voice mail features bring this highly coveted feature to all users regardless of what your carrier and specific voice/data plans provide for. Sprint users get the added benefit of using their standard cell number as their Google Voice number without having to port their number to Google Voice thanks to an agreement between Google and the number three US carrier.

Google Maps with Navigation
While Google Maps is a standard application from Google, not every Android device has it installed. This may be the case if your wireless carrier has a branded navigation app. In that case, installing and using this data connection dependent, free, turn-by-turn navigation app is high on my recommended application list. For a freebie, it’s one of the best navigation applications available, and its data connection dependency for map delivery insures that you’ve always got the latest maps for your geographic area.

There are a TON of other apps in the Android Market that are more than likely, part of the MUST have list in your mind. These, really are just a few, and despite what most anyone thinks, they’re safe and solid choices; and they WILL provide you with value.

Do you know of any other must have Android Apps for the business professional bringing their personal smartphone to the office, or for the busy prosumer? Why not join us in the discussion below and tell us about them?

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Get in touch over email, IM, or a call with Google Talk

You know…Skype is the thing. It really is. The Jetson’s video-style chat is something that many people have been dreaming of as the standard M.O. for voice communications for the last 50 years. Now, thanks to the Internet and to those tools like Google Talk, it’s now possible; and it really doesn’t matter what platform you’re using. Google has a communications solution for you.

Unified communications is one of THE buzz words of the coming year. Google is doing its best to provide most everyone with the single best way to communication with family and friends and they are hoping that their Gmail and Google Talk combination are the key to that success.

With Google Talk, you can IM and voice chat with friends, family and just about anyone with a Gmail address or Google account.

With Talk’s text chat, you can send instant messages, make status updates, and transfer files. With voice chat, you get free PC to PC GLOBAL, long distance calling, and can hold an video conference with multiple parties all at once. All you need is Google Talk, a Gmail address and a web cam at each end point. Even if someone is missing a web cam, they can still participate either via audio only or one-way video

 

 

 

Read full review | Download Google Talk

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Mozilla Firefox 9 – one of the best alternative web browser for Mac and Windows

I remember the big Microsoft Antitrust Trial and shake up back in the 1990′s. Everyone got their undies in a bunch because it was thought Microsoft making and integrating their own internet browser into Windows created problems for other browser vendors, some of whom tried to sell their browser rather than give it away. Thankfully, we’re well beyond all that, and end user choices – good ones – remain available. This is one of the reasons why I really like Mozilla Firefox, and it’s available for both Mac and Windows.

Mozilla Firefox is an advanced web browser, based on the Mozilla Open Source project. It’s got multiplatform support and a great many features that make it a great choice for the default browser on a computer near you. Chief among those is its advanced, efficient interface.

With Firefox, you can get to your sites quickly, even if you can’t remember the URL’s. Its Awesome Bar allows you to type a search term within it, and the autocomplete function will include possible matches from your browsing history, bookmarked sites and open tabs. Its adaptive technology learns your browsing habits over time, and will continue to offer better fitting matches the more that you use it.

Above the Awesome Bar, Firefox supports tabbed browsing; making it easier to focus on the content of the sites you visit. You can browse multiple sites at once, simply and easily. Each site appears as a new tab within the current browser window and can be accessed in one click. If you use browser based apps, like Gmail or MS Office 365, you can take these sites off the tab bar and give them a permanent home in your browser.

There is a great deal of information on the internet and Firefox makes it easy for you to find what you’re looking for. Its Integrated Web Search makes searching for information easy. The search box, located just to the right of your location bar allows you to select the service of your choice and enter your search terms into the box. The box width is even adjustable if you need more space. As soon as you start typing in the search bar, it will prompt you with a drop down of filled-in suggestions. You can also use the search bar as a calculator, converter and more.

Read full review | Download Firefox 9 for WindowsDownload Firefox 9 for Mac

 

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RIM turned down acquisitions overtures from Amazon, Microsoft AND Nokia?

RIM is headed for a very difficult 2012. It seems that it can’t even GIVE it away…

Case in point – RIM has been a huge player in the PDA/Smartphone market for more than 10 years. Its closer to 15, really; but not quite. Anyway, in 2011, it was stated that RIM’s stock lost 75% of their value, and while that loss still leaves them with well over $1.7B in cash, it’s not clear how long that cash will last when they are constantly losing market share to both Apple and Google’s Android. Big decisions need to be made, and made quickly.

One thing is very clear, however – RIM needs to get their act together…quickly.

One thing that really puzzles me is that RIM has turned down acquisition overtures from a number of really big players in the tablet and smartphone markets, including both Amazon and Nokia. They seem to have scared off Microsoft and their interest in the Ontario handset manufacturer more than once. They also don’t seem to care. Their co-CEO’s appear hell bent on trying to right the company. While I applaud them for their tenacity, they really just need to knock it off. The party’s over.

Not only is the party over, but the the BGR reported rumor that sparked a 7% uptick in the company’s stock on 17-Jan-12, has been emphatically denied by Samsung. They have CLEARLY stated they have NO interest in RIM, and have never considered or formally discussed any interest in them. At this point, I not only expect the market to give back yesterday’s ample gains, but for the company to lose additional value in the immediate future’s trading.

Nearly every industry pundit that I know of is predicting RIM’s future to be dismal at best. C|Net’s Buzz Out Loud podcast recent 2012 Prediction’s Show also spelled out a bleak to dismal 2012 for the once dominant RIM.

Everyone else can see it…why can’t they?

Any way you try to look at this, RIM needs to act, and act now if they are going to do save something, anything of themselves. The company lost 75% of its value in 2011…75%! It can’t stand to have that happened again. If their board is paying attention, much of the tech industry is chiming in on their rather pronounced misfortune, and they are making provision for that continued misfortune. Unfortunately, most everyone thinks we are past the water bailing point. According to the industry, the ship is going to sink. It’s just a matter of time, and it’s just a matter of determining how much value for their shareholders can be saved.

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Today is the day when the Internet goes on strike against SOPA

January 18th – A day we’ll remember. Thousands of sites went dark to protest against SOPA and PIPA, two US bills racing through Congress that threaten prosperity, online security, and freedom of expression. Sites are striking in all different ways, for example, Google censored its own logo and Wikipedia decided to bring out drastic measures in the fight, as they make the website unavailable for 24 hours in protest against the bill.

One thing is clear, if the bill will pass, the Internet will never be the same and it will affect everyone around the world, not only the people of US, by blocking site’s web traffic, ad traffic and search traffic using the same website censorship methods used by China, Iran and Syria. All websites both inside and outside the US could be blocked based on an infringement claim and website based on user-generated content like YouTube and Reddit could be really effected.

By clicking Google’s logo or the link just under the logo takes you to a SOPA / PIPA landing page that displays these words:

Millions of Americans oppose SOPA and PIPA because these bills would censor the Internet and slow economic growth in the U.S.

Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA.

The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.

The page gives you the option to sign a petition against the legislation, and I hope you will!

https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/

You can also declare your opposition to it via a PIPA petition website

To find out more information about SOPA, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act

 

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Give your digital photos the professional touch with PhotoFiltre

I’ve said this a couple of times now, but it’s very true – with the Holidays come and gone, you’ve probably taken quite a number of digital photos that you’d like to do something really cool with. I see it nearly every year. Post-holiday sales of graphic apps are generally very good for one reason: people want to retouch their photos and give them a professional touch. This is why I really like applications like PhotoFiltre. It’s a prosumer photo retouching application for Windows.

PhotoFiltre allows you to do simple or advanced adjustments to an image and apply a vast range of filters to it. It’s simple and intuitive to use; and has a shallow learning curve. Its toolbar gives you access to the standard filters with just a few clicks. It also gives the application itself, a robust look.

PhotoFiltre has a wide range of filters, allowing novice users to familiarize themselves with the world of graphics. You can find the standard adjustment functions – brightness, contrast, dyed, saturation, gamma correction – and its artistic filters – watercolor, pastels, Indian ink, pointillism, puzzle effect via both toolbars and menus. The application has more than 100 different filters.

PhotoFiltre uses both automatic and lasso/polygon vectored selection methods to select objects and photo elements. Both allow you to select a customized form by drawing a shape by hand or using a series of lines. Every selection can be saved into a separate file, to be used later on.

You can further enhance your photos with PhotoMasque.  You can create advanced contour and transparency effects on your images by using preset masks. PhotoFiltre’s masks are gray scale images, where white is the transparency color.  Opacity increases as the shades of gray become darker. Black is completely opaque. PhotoMasque comes with several basic masks to inspire you to create your own.

Read full review | Download PhotoFiltre

 

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