software

Undercover and Espionage: Peace of Mind For the Tinfoil-Hat Set by Simon Abrams

Since security and privacy are on everyone's mind these days, I thought I'd share a couple of security-related products for the (justifiably) paranoid and tinfoil-hatted amongst you.

First, Undercover is a tiny, ingenious app by software maker Orbicule which runs innocuosuly in the background of your computer until you report it stolen via your online dashboard. At this point, Undercover kicks into gear, watching for your computer to connect to the Internet by any means, including ethernet, wi-fi or even Bluetooth. It then begins reporting your computer's location, its IP address, screenshots and keylogs in a comprehensive theft report that John Q. Law can use to recover your Precioussss for you. Particularly for laptop users, it's sneaky little supplement to Find My Mac that can give you an extra layer of peace of mind. It's $50, but if you use the link above to let 'em know I sent you, you'll get 25% off.

Next up is Espionage, by Tao Effect. This little gem encrypts files, folders, email - whatever - allowing you to use multiple master passwords to keep your files secure. Plus, they insist they haven't given those nosey Parkers over at the NSA any back doors into their encryption software, so you can be confident your data is safe from prying eyes. Espionage is $29.99, but you can save 10% by using the code UNDERCOVER10 until October 31st.

A Serious Imaging Company by Simon Abrams

From Dave Caolo on TUAW:

Finally, the message delivered by the iPhone 5s camera is clear: Apple is becoming a serious imaging company. They spent a lot of time on that camera. You don't need a point-and-shoot camera anymore. There's no need to find a cable or a memory card reader. This is your camera.

This is why it's so frustrating to serious photographers that on the other side of the serious imaging equation -- ie. serious image processing -- all we're getting from Apple is crickets.

I remember being all excited and diving in to the Aperture 3.0 update just as my wife and I were leaving for a vacation in Paris. We took that vacation in February 2010. The current version of Aperture is 3.4.5. In contrast, Adobe Lightroom version 3.0 was released in June of 2010. Lightroom 5.2 release candidate is available now on Adobe Labs.

On the other hand, during the keynote, Phil Schiller did say that the new camera system is "for the rest of us", though - for the folks that just want to get take a picture, and let their cameraphone do the work.

Photoshop CC Favorite Features: Editable Rounded Rectangles by Simon Abrams

Editable Rounded Rectangles in Photoshop CC

This is the first in a series of posts I'm going to be doing about my favorite new features in Photoshop CC. For the uninitiated, CC, or Creative Cloud, is the new designation that Adobe is giving their suite of applications as they move away from the "boxed" retail model of the Creative Suite to delivering their software via digital download.

Today, I'm focusing on a new feature that I, and many, many others, have been begging for for ages: editable rounded rectangles.

It might sound like a small thing, but it really is a big time-saver. In previous versions of Photoshop, you'd create a rounded rectangle Shape layer and whatever settings you used when you created the shape were immediately baked in the second you released the mouse. If you had to replicate that shape elsewhere (either in CSS or maybe as a vector shape in Flash), there was no easy way to figure out what the radius of that shape was without a whole bunch of trial and error, especially if you weren't the original designer that worked on the file. Now in Photoshop CC, you can simply click on the rounded rectangle vector shape and you'll notice that the Properties panel is now populated with all the editable properties of that shape (or Live Shape, as it's labeled in the panel).

The Live Shape Properties Panel in Photoshop CC

Not only do the radii of the rounded rectangle remain editable (or live) after the fact, you can independently edit the radius of each corner, allowing you to create irregular shapes like the ones shown in the screenshot above, without having to edit the shape's vector paths using the pen tool, or by combining shapes with boolean operations, as you would have had to do in previous editions of Photoshop.

I'm thrilled with this new feature - it definitely goes a long way towards solving at least one of the issues that interface and icon designers have had with creating and resizing HiDPI (aka Retina) graphics, and is a big part of Adobe's continuing enhancement of Photoshop's vector graphics capabilities.

Stay tuned for more posts highlighting additional new features in Photoshop CC.