Create professional greeting cards with Ashampoo Photo Card

ytzwIf there’s one thing that I really don’t like buying, its greeting cards. They’re usually expensive, and don’t get much attention past the initial reading by the recipient. Its too bad, but an unfortunate reality. However, personalized cards, ones made from family photos I think have a better chance of meaning something to friends and loved ones. This is why I really like apps like Ashampoo’s Photo Card. It’s a cool app for Windows.

Ashampoo Photo Card is a fun way to turn your photos into professional looking greeting cards complete with borders and texts in a few clicks. Anyone can do it, really. All you have to do is choose an existing photo, select a theme, edit text on the card and send it.

If needed, you can fine tune and tweak the results. You can adjust the size and brightness of your photos, edit contrast and saturation settings or even mirror and flip your images. Ashampoo Photo Card’s built in tools allow you to do all this and more.

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One of the coolest of the app’s features is its webcam support. You can take live pictures and use them to make cards with. This is a great feature when you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for in your existing cache of photos.

Ashampoo Photo Card, like many of the apps from Ashampoo, is a cool application. Once you have your card created, the app gives you several options to share your work with friends and family. Photo Card supports sharing via Facebook and Picasa; or you can simply email them.

download Ashampoo Photo Card

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XnConvert – batch image-converter and resizer

XnConvert is an image converting program that supports over 500 image formats for easy single and batch image editing and converting. The software has all the standard tools for image editing, whether it’s cropping and watermarking, or adding slick effects to your images. The interface makes for a simple approach to your image editing and converting. Crucially, XnConvert’s interface allows for multi-image editing simultaneously and for the most part, the program is convenient to use for the these tasks.


There’s an easy ‘Clear All’ button for getting rid of your changes and starting fresh on the image but the lack of an ‘Undo’ button is a little testing at times. However, the simple ‘before’ and ‘after’ tabs above your image editing make for quick comparisons as you work. Similarly, there are arrow buttons below your work screen to move easily between each of the images you’re working on. XnConvert’s ease of use is definitely its greatest strength.

XnConvert isn’t an essential program but would be more useful for slightly more casual image editing and not for frequent, more in depth image editing. Other free programs like GIMP are better equipped for that.

Download XnConvert

 

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Make, Edit and Export professional looking icons with IcoFX

IcoFX is the ideal all in one tool to make, edit and export professional looking icons and cursors on your Windows and Mac.

Whether you want to make a cursor or an icon, for Windows or for Mac, the IcoFX allows you to make a professional looking image quick. The IcoFX software comes packed with a wealth of tools to turn any idea into a cursor or an icon quick.

If you’re a beginner, the software allows you to produce an icon or cursor with basic editing skills. The IcoFX allows you to convert any image into an icon or cursor, or edit previously made products to suit your design.

If you’re an experience designer, the IcoFX has a full assortment of tools to unleash your creativity. The product allows you to produce animated as well as static cursors, transparent icons and more complex ones, easily with its layers and soft selection features.

When you’re done creating your design, the IcoFX exports the icon or cursor as a high quality, ready to use file. Installing your cursor or icon couldn’t be simpler.

The IcoFX is easy to use but still has a wealth of features to allow you to make technically complicated icons and cursors. When you install this software, there is very little you won’t be able to do.

download IcoFX

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Bring out the best in your digital photographs with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

There are a lot of digital darkrooms and photo organizing apps out there with a number of different and overlapping features. If you serious about photography and want to take serious control of your shots, then you really need the right tool for the job. This is one of the reasons why I like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. It’s a multiplatform tool with the tools that professionals and prosumers need.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software helps you bring out the best in your photographs, whether you’re perfecting one image, searching for ten, processing hundreds, or organizing thousands.  With it you can create incredible, moving images. One of the best things about it is that you can fearlessly experiment with state-of-the-art, nondestructive, editing tools. If you make a mistake, it’s easy to revert to an unmodified image, or undo the changes.

Lightroom allows you to easily manage all your images, and showcase your work in elegant print layouts, slide shows, and web galleries. You can also upload them to popular, online, photo-sharing sites.  It’s easy to do all of this directly from within this one, fast, intuitive application.

If you’re an advanced amateur or professional photographer, you need a wide range of tools to keep your digital projects creative and organized. Lightroom provides all your essentials in one intuitive package.  It has a wide range of new features and enhanced capabilities, including faster performance, new world-class noise reduction, lens correction, support for DSLR video files, a process to create easy-to-share slide show videos with music, and much more.

In some cases, light, or the lack of it, can create unwanted noise in your photos, even if you know what you’re doing and you meter and light everything as well as you can.  With Lightroom, you can get just the look you want from every shot with state-of-the art image processing tools that let you easily alter contrast, tune color, convert to black-and-white, add grain, reduce noise, adjust sharpness, and more.  Tools of this quality are important, especially if you’re going to go the extra mile and have the photos professionally printed.

read full review | download Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

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Autoruns from Microsoft has been updated to version 11

Autoruns is a Sysinternals utility that shows you what programs are configured to run during system bootup or login, and shows you the entries in the order Windows processes them. Developed by Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell, this utility brings a deeper control in terms of auto-start applications and registry files. It represents everything that MSConfig cannot do.

Autoruns is a portable utility, so all you have to do is to copy it in a secure location on your hard drive and simply run it. The app starts instantly showing you 18 tabs including logon entries, Explorer add-ons, Internet Explorer add-ons including Browser Helper Objects (BHOs), Appinit DLLs, image hijacks, boot execute images, Winlogon notification DLLs, Windows Services and Winsock Layered Service Providers. It’s a classic chaotic interface for casual users, but I have to admit that this is the best way to view from a single look everything that breaths on your computer.

Overall, using this utility is simple if you know exactly what are the components running in your system. For example if you want to disable an auto-start entry uncheck its check box. This option is very useful in case you want to find out what that entry is doing in your system without taking the risk to delete it. To delete an auto-start configuration entry just use the Delete menu item or toolbar button. If you want to locate any registry file of an auto-start item just use the Jump menu item or toolbar button.

This utility works also in conjunction with other Sysinternals utilities. In case you want to view the properties of an executable configured to run automatically, select it and use the Properties menu item or toolbar button. If Process Explorer is running and there is an active process executing the selected executable then the Process Explorer menu item in the Entry menu will open the process properties dialog box for the process executing the selected image.

In addition Autoruns’ Hide Signed Microsoft Entries option helps you to zoom in on third-party auto-starting images that have been added to your system and it has support for looking at the auto-starting images configured for other accounts configured on a system. Also included in the download archive is a command-line equivalent to Autorun that can output in CSV format, Autorunsc.

download Autoruns 11

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Acronis True Image Home 2012 the back-up tool for anyone

So much can go wrong with your computer, such as accidental file deletions, system viruses and total hard-disk failures. Having a complete PC-backup solution is critical. And this solution can come with Acronis True Image Home 2012.

This back-up utility stands out because of its simplicity for casual users and for its comprehensive collection of features that makes it a useful tool for any network or system engineer. Not only that it can recover your data, but it can also restore it as it was before any incident. All the software, shortcuts and all the emails and contacts, everything can be backed up and restored thanks to Acronis’ patented disk imaging and PC-cloning technology. For a more secure environment, use the Secure Zone function to create a secure disk partition on your internal drive. That way you can recover your system easily at any moment, even if your Operating System has failed.

Synchronization is another interesting feature that comes with Acronis True Image Home 2012. If you have two or more PCs and want them to mirror a selection of files or folders you just have to choose the File Synchronization option, which lets you replicate important data between multiple computers, files or devices. Sync files with friends, family or colleagues over the Web. Or sync with local folders, including USB sticks or external hard drives.

Setting up and running your backups is convenient with Acronis True Image Home. Smart Scheduling offers you practical options to decide when your backups should run, like during idle times or just before startup or shutdown. Set&Forget lets you configure your backups just once and then the software does the remembering for you.

Now it’s easier to avoid disasters before they happen. For instance, if you want to try out new software but are not sure if it’s virus-prone, Try&Decide lets you take a test drive first to see if you want to keep or discard the changes to your system. This is also very practical for browsing potentially dangerous websites.

The special Plus Pack add-on gives the user advanced features, such as dynamic-disk support and Universal Restore, which lets you recover your entire system on a computer with a completely different architecture. Besides other additional functionalities, for the first time Acronis True Image Home 2012 can use the full capacity of drive bigger than 2TB, even if the operating system you are running doesn’t support it.

In case you have decided to try it out, I can only say:

download Acronis True Image Home 2012

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Convert, resize, rotate and prepare more than 90 image formats, quick and easy with Picture Dude Image Converter

Digital photography is all the rage. It’s so compelling that most everyone that I know who isn’t computer savvy wants to jump on board. The biggest problem with people in that category, however, is that once they have their pictures, they don’t know how to enhance them. Red eye, resize/crop, etc. and similar activities become problematic. This is where applications like Picture Dude Image Converter come in handy.

Read the full review | Picture Dude Image Converter

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Format Factory, the complete media converter

I think it’s time to say goodbye to all paid video converters, because Free Time team breaks the barrier and introduces on the market a complete free converter featuring all the necessary formats for video, audio and image files, including also formats for all the major portable devices: PS3, PSP, XBOX 360, iPhone/iPad/iPod, etc. With Format Factory you can convert any media file into most popular formats such as: wmv, avi, mkv, flv, mp3, wma, jpg, gif, etc. Additionally you can also add subtitles, crop video files, merge or split audio and video files or rip DVD or audio discs into video and audio files but also into popular ISO/CSO images.

read full review | download Format Factory

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