Ashampoo Kitchen Catalog Extension 1.0 In-Depth Review

As I wrote to you last week, Ashampoo has created a suite of programs that allow you design your own residence or office, business, or many, other structures that you might need to have in your life. In my initial article, I went over the benefits of having these tools at the disposal of the masses, particularly if you are disabled and need customized adaptations and modifications that are not included in many basic floor-plans.

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In addition, to the base software that I referenced in my prior article, Ashampoo Home Designer Pro 3, the companion program/plug-in, called Ashampoo Kitchen Catalog Extension 1.0, from those same fine folks adds specialized cabinets, appliances, flooring, and other implements needed for 21st. Century homes and offices. While the detail designs in the base program offer many choices, the abundance afforded the final recipient of the built structure will greatly appreciate.

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For many, many years, the central room and “town square” of the home has been the kitchen. Since the days of families gathered around mom or the cook, making three meals a day, from scratch, interacting between the parents and children, between the kids themselves, and sometimes the extended family or neighbors, the most time spent in the home was in the kitchen.

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Fast forward to today, when people are in/out of the home, in their own worlds, on phones, tablets, game consoles, with minimal cross-interaction between members of the household; irrespective of this fact, what time spent in the home, with people talking, sharing, or having a common experience, it most likely will be in the kitchen, with the second choice being in the living room/den. Such emphasis can only be necessary if this room is important, inherently, as it, due to its generational significance and the exchange of information that spans the years.

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Knowing this has been a cyclic constant from way back, having the tools that allow us to cater the layout, appliances, and storage, traffic flow, etc., is a freedom that the disabled have needed, but has eluded them. In being in a wheelchair, crutches, walkers, power chair, getting around your home or a place of business can be a daunting task. In 1990, in the USA, a law was passed called the American Disabilities Act (ADA), which mandated that government and commercial buildings, going forward would have to be more disabled-accessible, plus some modifications and retrofits for previous construction, would be rolled out over the years, going forward.  I am sad to report that while this law was a great step forward, the law should have included residential construction, as anyone, at any age, and at any time can become disabled, and having to retrofit or rebuild a home is daunting and very costly.

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Many people have a basic knowledge of this fact, but when they are able to save up and buy a home or permanent residence, they are disenfranchised in having affordable resources to have “universal access-based” construction planning. Companies, such as Ashampoo and their product families have filled in this gap, and allowed us to have these, previously non-affordable resources made available to us, at a fair price point.  The programs, such as Ashampoo Home Designer Pro 3 and Kitchen Catalog Extension 1.0 are shining examples of these tools, and I am happy to introduce you to them.

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In saying all of the important factors that this tool offers, the cost of Kitchen Catalog Extension 1.0 is very reasonable at only $14.99 USD, which is quite a steal. If you factor in the cost of the main program, Home Designer Pro 3, at $49.99 USD, you can have the full suite of tools to make your home and kitchen your own, in design, for under $100.00 USD; cannot beat that easily. No matter what you need in your home, office, and/or other building; Ashampoo will fit the bill for what you need. Until next time, keep on techin’. . . !

Ashampoo Home Designer Pro 3.30 In-Depth Review

Many people were not very aware of housing and building constraints that affect the disabled, or the modifications they need to be independent, until war, and its effects were put on the world stage, in the early 2000’s. This is getting more exposure, due to many returning home veterans from these recent wars/conflicts, and the help they get from various charitable and government entities. While a tragic by-product of combat, our connected world now has seen that those who have injuries (which modify how they can interact with cabinets, doors, hallways, bathrooms, etc.) need specialized housing, equipment, and accessibility devices. These brave men and women deserve our consideration and help in either obtaining or modifying their homes, so they can remain independent and further support and care for their families, within their homes. They embody how those with disabilities reflect the respect that they disabled deserved, and need to be accommodating to those, who are not as able-bodied as themselves.

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It is a dream of many people to own their own home, especially if they could design it, to their specifications. This is very near and dear to the hearts of the disabled, as well. While many people dream of palatial estates, with numerous stories, diverse rooms, and sprawling grounds; the disabled many times just want rooms that allow them get into them without getting stuck on thresholds, wide enough for their wheelchairs to pass through, cabinets that can be reached from a low position, tubs/showers that do not have to stepped into over lips, etc. These desires are not just for plush comfort, but rather to allow those who are disabled, to be independent and not have to depend on others to fetch their food, bathe them, nor take them room to room. Many times, people do not have someone to be their caregiver, around the clock, so blueprints and architectural drawings that are used for buildings should keep this in mind.

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Having these improvements and design plans should be required, so residences and commercial buildings could be used interchangeably, without costly renovations. Sadly, building codes and typical floor-plans are not made, with these considerations, except in the case of government buildings and commercial structures. Even so, many times, I can tell you, firsthand, the door clearances, thresholds, and traffic flow is not up to the task for easy access, for those in manual wheelchairs.

 

The fine folks at Ashampoo have created a suite of CAD software programs that get thus done, the primary program is called Ashampoo Home Designer 3 Pro. In starting this project, I can tell you that I was overwhelmed and felt ill qualified to design a residence (even with my design background), but the wizard and furnishings that the program provides more than makes up for this apprehensions. Most importantly, these tools can help you brainstorm ideas that you want to incorporate into your dream home, and need for your specific needs. Using the systematic wizard will allow you to set some key parameters, such as your number of floors, basic materials used, and giving your project a rough outline for it to take shape; naming your dream structure will help you make a reality of your goals and dreams tangible.

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If you are need of ideas or basic structures, the program ships with numerous structure and fixture samples. This virtual portfolio will give you a strong sense of going into an architectural firm or design center, and just window shopping or going for your initial consultation; laying the groundwork for how your home can look. I would advise you to choose several different “modal” homes, and use the mouse/keyboard controls to walk through them to better know what actual space you need, and what amenities that you need to properly accommodate your needs, both now and as you and your love ones age. Of note to consider in conjunction with this is to see how your choices in materials, location, and size will be affected by natural light/heat, so you can get an accurate estimate of how much energy consumption the structure might need. This could very well change, as more specialized adaptive devices (rechargeable scooters, lift chairs, stairway lifts, respiration devices/C-PAP machines, etc.) might require additional power and redundant systems to be put in place, and brought online.

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This software is very scalable, with an emphasis on interior designers and architects, but it does offer ideas for the laymen and the intermediate DIY’s alike. Ashampoo believes in this fact so much, they recently had a giveaway version for Home Designer 2.0, to give people a taste of what this program can offer you. If you missed this opportunity, you can still try out their excellent demo version of this program. The retail price for this program is $49.99 USD, and is an excellent value for the money. ashampoo_company_logo01If you need additional options and added fixtures, they have a companion program, called Ashampoo Kitchen Catalog Extension that plugs into this program. I know that once you try this program, and dream about having a universal access home, you will pick up Ashampoo Home Designer 3 without hesitation. As always tell them I sent you, and keep on techin’!

Day-of-Release: Ashampoo Slideshow Studio HD 4.0

Two generations ago, family and friends might gather around a projector screen, with a slide projector with a slide rotary caddy. They would take these opportunities to recap trips they went on, things they saw, and people they experienced the events with. As been the subject of numerous parodies and skits, people have been subjected to seeing the same scene, over and over again, with off-handed quotes. You typically hear such things as “Here is Gene, on the right!” Now he is on the left!” “You remember the heat that day, Gene?” What do you think, Barbra?” The purpose of these gatherings was to track and chart the milestones of people’s life.

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Today, the technology is different, but the purpose has carried on into day, with computers, mobile device cameras, optical media (DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K-UHD) and streaming video being the media that these memories are recorded onto for preservation. The scope has been expanded to now encompass the avenues of commerce, education, entertainment, and journalism, in addition to the personal recordings of yesteryear. The learning curve of these software programs has varied over the years, coupled with the available feature sets that they each offer. If you get an easy-to-use program, the features might be limited. If you choose a more full-featured program, you tend to find yourself facing a less-friendly GUI/UX that is much less intuitive and systematic.

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I am glad to report to you, today, that a new, more powerful, and full-featured program has debuted today, from those fine folks at Ashampoo, entitled Slideshow Studio HD 4.0. This great program fully carries forward the fine, long-standing tradition that Ashampoo has come to represent; demonstrated by the craftsmanship you find in this and all of their programs. Not only does have the standard functions you would expect from a slideshow program, but the forward-looking embrace 4K Ultra-High-Definition video standard that is bursting on the scene.scr_ashampoo_slideshowstudio_hd4_simplemode_adapt_to_music

This promises of up to 8x the resolution of 1080P video, with support for High-Dynamic Range (HDR) for extreme life-like imagery and natural shadows, mid-range tones, and highlights. As Hollywood has begun taking this file format as the go-to choice for how they capture our blockbusters, and present them to us for home theater consumption, not many home enthusiasts programs offer this functionality, but Slideshow Studio HD 4.0 comes through for you, in this regard.

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Not only does this software program that has these feature-set, included, but it also introduces the addition of 17 new transition effects, not available in prior versions. If the included transitions and effects that come bundled with the program do not meet all of your needs, post-launch, additional templates will be made available, free of charge from their website. I can attest that having an online depository for specialized templates has been a lifesaver, on several occasions, with other software; I am very looking forward to have this resource for this program available to me and to you, my faithful readers.

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As a faithful user of iOS devices for seven years or so, I need tools and software that allows me to enjoy my media and share it with those in my circle, on these devices. While I have yet to make a mobile-enabled slideshow, with Slideshow Studio HD 4.0, has specialized output settings for these devices, so you have full confidence that your final project will work on these devices, with minimal hassle and problems. For those of you that use Android or other operating systems on your mobile devices, they have output device profiles for those pieces of equipment.

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As you may recall my wife has a home-based art business, and she has branched into tutorials and training videos, in addition to her artwork for sale. She has done videos on Periscope, and uploaded some basic time-elapsed videos of her paintings, but having this tool in her arsenal will allow her to create more polished and professional videos in this vein. I can see that she might very well start laying a narration track over her work, and better explain her creative process to help budding artist reach their potential. I can see that the software’s support of this feature will help her obtain her goal for this purpose.

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Right now, if you purchase this program on the launch day or soon after (which is today, July, 11, 2016), you can have this program for 50% off its regular price of $39.99 USD for a Single-User License. This is a nice savings, and will allow you to become a paying customer for Ashampoo’s products, and might entitle you to future upgrades and discounts on this program, as well as the other members of their product family line. In my opinion, this is well worth the money for such a powerful and versatile program that can be used for personal and professional projects, alike. If you need this program for multi-user environments or for business purposes, you can contact them for a price quote, directly. If you still are not convinced that this is for you, you can use their trial version, and test it out for yourself. As always, keep on techin’!

Tenorshare iPhone Data Recovery In-Depth Review

Our day-to-day lives depend on mobile technology more and more. Our phones are the epicenter of our data, photos, apps, movies, music, etc. With so much invested in these devices, a reliable and dependable resource management system needs to be in place, so you can get to this critical information when your device is inaccessible and is possibly broken or physically damaged. The recovery options for iOS devices has grown for both Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh Operation System(s), in regards to programs and utilities that accomplish this task for average users.

Of the options available, a highly-rated program has risen through the ranks, Tenorshare’s iPhone Data Recovery.

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This fine program has you covered, not matter what issue is preventing you from getting into your iDevice, and its key information. No matter if you have dropped your device, and broke it, hung on the boot-up logo, accidental deletion, and many other issues, it can get it back for you. It accomplishes this in one of three ways: retrieval from you iCloud account, restoring from you iTunes Backup, or even directly from you iDevice. Each has their advantages and uses, and which one you ever choose; you will be pleased with the results.

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As someone, who has an old iPhone 4, from 2010, I can tell you that being able to access critical data that has been invaluable is getting back restored photos and notes, along with app data backups. In having an older device, I have not been able to use iTunes to do backup/syncs, without causing errors and problems. Now having an option to use iPhone Data Recovery to get these files either from my device or from iCloud, I can feel a peace of mind, in knowing that my information is not too far out of reach.

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Once you initialize the backup sequence, it is well organized and easy to see what is available for recovery. You can easily see your call history, photos, and texts, in real-time, so you can only restore that stuff you want, and not bring back things you do not need, or no longer require. Whatever you recover from your device, you can take those, and re-sync them back into your device to use them, going forward.

 

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In trying to preserve my digital life, recorded on my iPhone and iPad, which covers my entire married life, having software that will help me use my data to migrate to a set of newer iDevices (which I am hopeful that I can acquire sometimes this year), will make this dicey proposition possible, with a safety net. I use my mobile devices, and their features to keep my life focused and on-track. Any prospects of losing this critical information that I cannot get back is something I want to prevent, and having tools, such as Tenorshare makes is a much less probably outcome.

 

Tenorshare_logoYou may be asking yourself, why I should choose iPhone Data Recovery for my iOS device recovery options, over other options on the market. The answer is many reasons (some which I have already cited). One standout that you, my readers may find important and treasure for your peace of mind, is that Tenorshare is an award-winning company, with iPhone Data Recovery winning 2016 Golden Award from TopTenReviews.com. This is a nice, prestigious award to win from a reputable software review site, and further highlights the advantages that this software offers your iOS devices, whether or not your computer runs on Windows or Mac.

The entry cost for this peace of mind and tool-set is very reasonable, and scalable, based upon your needs as an individual, family, or if you have an organization or commercial enterprise that would require vast number of device support numbers. The starting tier is a 1-yr. Subscription, which runs $83.95 USD, and includes a license for one computer, one year support and one year of upgrades. The second tier is the Family Pack, $139.95 USD, and is a license for 2-5 computers, lifetime usage, lifetime support, and lifetime upgrades. The top-tier of licenses is the Unlimited License, which runs $699.95 USD and that is unlimited devices, support, and upgrades, and the best value across the board. If you act right now, they are running a 40% off sale that slashes the prices drastically, but only for a very, short time (the sale ends on 07/11/16). As is usually the case, most software I review has a demo/trial version that you can try, risk-free.

If you have ever had an iDevice that has failed on you, you can be sure that this program can give you the best chance to get your data back. I know that once you try this software, you will be hooked on keeping your data safeguarded with the umbrella of programs from Tenorshare; do not forget to tell them that I sent you. As always, keep on techin’!

SoftOrbits Photo Background Remover In-Depth Review

I cannot tell you how many times I have had the need to extract an image or element from a composition. I used the selection tool and the magic wand in various graphic design software programs, for this task. The process is time-consuming, and requires finesse and training to do this effectively. This can be compounded and multiply many fold, when you have to do this multiple times, across several images for a project. I have seen many programs that have come down the pipeline and promised an automation process, that streamlines the time needed, requires less technical know-how; yet allow some oversight and nuanced changes. Suffice to say, those that have come before have sorely disappointed and under-performed in their delivery and results.

Flash forward to today, and an up-and-coming design software company has risen to the occasion. I am speaking of SoftOrbits, and you have seen in my reviews of their products (hopefully you have tried their products, by now), you know the can deliver. In fact, a maxim of business is to under promise, and over deliver; SoftOrbits has taken this to heart, and done that with excellence, in their products, customer service, and how they develop and create future features/programs.

In tackling this challenge head on, they have developed a program that solves this problem, entitled Photo Background Remover. This fine product combines several well-sought features that have been desired, (many that I have alluded to earlier in this review) plus one or two that might not jump to mind immediately. Such additions will seem like a natural fit, and you will wonder that why you did not think of them, yourself. Once I go into these features, individually, you will see what I mean, all the more.

 

As I stated before (in my halcyon days of being a graphic design student), many of the assignments that we were giving required us to take stock images and composite them into collages and projects, with image extraction. On top of Molière patterns and digital noise in the images from scanning them into the computer, we had a difficult learning curve in how best to crop and cutout images, and has them look good and clean. Many of my efforts looked crudely cut out and misshapen and starkly out of place in the composition. Granted in time, and with the passing of years in school, I got better, but it get it just right, required extra effort to get it to an exacting place, even as I was graduating.

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While my life went in a different direction, after my art school years, I always appreciated that I knew how to do this task; ever hopeful that computers and technology would advance to better streamline this process. Thankfully, the abilities of SoftOrbits Photo Background Remover makes this task so much simpler than I thought would be possible, until I tried this software, for myself. I was so impressed that whatever I threw at the program, it would just cut it out, without issue and so cleanly. It looked like it was just an image that was made without a background and created in isolation, rather than being taken as a portion from something else.

While I have my, own experiences in the technical arts, my wife has been a professional artist, illustrator, and graphic designer with eleven years’ experience. I have spoken with her on the benefits and potential of this software for her purposes. She said that it might be useful for her creation of stencils and maybe other applications. One, specific example that we thought might work well would be used for “tubing” applications and projects.

You may ask what that might be. The answer was unfamiliar to me, until my wife informed me that many people use avatars of their favorite artist’s work and pop culture references; the source of these avatars and “digital stickers” are processed artwork, run through programs, such as PaintShop Pro. Their backgrounds and non-needed elements are removed, and stripped out of the images, so they can be overlaid over message boards, websites, online profiles, etc.6147989

The finished images are called tubes, and are in demand with a nice sector of the graphic art market. Sadly, if artist/company-endorsed versions of these artworks are not available, people tend to create “unauthorized” versions that lack the polish and professional quality that is needed, much less lost revenue to the creators that make the images, in the first place.

My wife creates these from her artwork, and it is always time-consuming process. Having this software to not only do this semi-automated background removals, but being able to take advantage of batch processing and watermarking of a collection of images; makes it all the more beneficial and impressive tool that she can utilize to a great end. Since she shares her work on social media for her portfolio promotion, being able make sure that her work gets a proper attribution and legal protection is a vital step in her business workflow. In others words, this is a tool that she has needed for years, and now thanks to SoftOrbits, she has one, finally!

This is a specialized example with very specific and specialized applications. However, this program will serve you well, with the fact that it feathers the selection for your cutouts. While “tubes” need this to look polished, just taking anything out of your images and having it appear natural is invaluable. If you want to fantasize of putting you and your family in Hawaii, but only can afford to go to the lake, the compositing will look flawless. When people see your images, they will ask if you got a tan, not why the picture looks off. This is just one, fun example, and your imagination can run wild

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If you have concerns that you might lack the skills to do this effectively, put those to rest. If you have a strong sense of what you want to take from an image, and what is the background you want to leave behind, it is just a matter of clicking on each element, and choosing whether to keep or clear it. It is just as simple as that. No muss, no fuss, and easy as cutting a picture up with a pair of scissors, without the rough edges.

As I have stated in this article, going through this process manually requires a fair it of time for each edit or mask task. This is multiplied numerous times, if you have a large batch of images to work through. A saving grace of Photo Background Remover is that you can do this, with an automated system that does a bulk edit of one or two steps. It simply chooses the main element of the image, selects it, and either clears the background or fills it with a solid color. This is a great way to get a bunch of your images prepped for making tags, badges, or I.D. photos.

As always, SoftOrbits suite of programs has several tiers of their programs for various applications. Photo Background Remover follows this model, and comes in three versions. The first version is the Personal Edition ($49.99 USD), which is the full version and allows unlimited usage for non-commercial, non-business locations on one computer. The Home Edition ($74.99 USD), is the same as the Personal Edition, except it comes with a license for usage on two computers. The last tier of the software, is entitled Business Edition ($99.99 USD), which has allowed usage in commercial and business environments. Each of these versions includes free updates for minor versions, and unlimited e-mail support.  In summation, this program will change the way that your photos can be used. Just try the trial, and I know that you will be hooked. Tell them I sent you, and keep on techin’!

InComedia WebAnimator GO In-Depth Review

You may recall a while back that I reviewed a web creation program/suite from Incomedia, called WebSite X5 V.12. Now those same fine folks have created a companion software program, called WebAnimator Go. This version is designed for basic-to-intermediate animation projects that are very systematic and easy to comprehend for the bulk of the general populace, which wants to add some pizzazz and eye-catching elements to their websites.  Fret not; if you need more advanced features and toolsets than provided in this program, they have fuller-featured versions, simply titled WebAnimator/WebAnimator Plus. No matter which version you might need, this is an excellent program you will need for animation and slideshows that is warranted by the interconnected world of the Internet, today.

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You may be asking yourself, what about WebAnimator GO would make me choose to add this program to my toolbox, over its competitors. First off, this program allows you to import images from almost any format you can think of (.jpg, png, gif, .tiff, etc.), without the need to convert to a specific format, beforehand. As someone, who has had to change my original image to a more usable format for a slideshow/animation, saving a step/generation is a nice change and time-saver.

Secondly, having pre-built, included templates that are ready to use from the get-go, allows you to get a jump-start on your animation, by having a framework to place your images, texts, and overlays into, so you can preview/compile what your final product will be, and then create it, succinctly. This has an added benefit of not having to make a template before you start your work of not having to make a set of templates means that you can start on your work. This difference can be likened to having pre-cut lumber, versus having to fell trees, process the wood, and turn it into lumber before you can build the structure that you have planned out.

Thirdly, once you have your animation finalized, it will save, create, and embed HTML5 code into your object/element, so you can just drop it in the webpage/presentation. As someone who does not have any experience in coding, nor really interest in learning to do so, having a GUI solution that allows me make a viable code snippet is a nice addition. I know that my wife has had to develop websites for construction companies that build custom homes and structures. Many times she has had to create a slideshow that cycle through the images of the various stages of construction. When Flash vulnerabilities began to rear their ugly head, and HTML 5 started to replace that plugin for moving image management, it was an uphill task to try and encode the show in a combination of CSS and PHP. I can only image how much time would have been saved with this tool-set.

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Nor unlike their flagship program, WebSite X5, you just go, step-by-step, with simple to comprehend prompts and dialog boxes. Each step just asks you for what you need nothing more, nothing less, so you always just have enough information to process in your mind and in the program. One key step that you will pay a little more attention to is the animation images/frames that you intend to use for the project. This is not due to an overly complex step, brought on by the program, but rather by the linear nature of animation (first image, second image, third image, etc.; either top to bottom or left to right). You need to place the images on the order that you intend them to be shown.

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If you are not in the place for needing to make a slideshow and/or a presentation, this makes a fine tool for animation and short films, which could be distributed, via the web. I have always enjoyed animation, VFX, and other CGI elements in film and games, but I never had the formal training, nor very much seat-time with software capable of making these (3D Studio MAX, Alias, AfterEffects, etc.) files. However, having a program, such a WebAnimator GO, gives me the option to make flip drawings and minimal, limited animation comic strips as a real possibility. I will not promise to actually make these and share them with you, my readers, but the option is there.

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No matter your skill level or potential needs, Incomedia, and their animation software programs have you covered. The cost-effectiveness of WebAnimator GO, WebAnimator, or WebAnimator Plus, makes the value proposition a highly-sought after option for professionals, intermediates, and rank amateurs, alike. The prices for each reflect the various functions and features. If, you are like me, the GO version is all that you will need to get started, with one Template collection, and basic animation functions that writes the code for you. The cost for this is $24.99 USD, and well worth the money. If you need more Template collections (4 or more) and the need to embed audio/video files inside of your animations, I would recommend either the WebAnimator or WebAnimator Plus editions.  The features, sans the media embedded version, is the WebAnimator, and cost $59.95 USD. The top-of-the-line, WebAnimator Plus runs you $89.95 USD, and has the media embed function built-in. Each of these versions can be upgraded, with a customer discount, many times reflective of the differences between cost tiers.

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In my interfacing with Incomedia’s Customer Service, I want to reassure you that they have your best interest in mind, and will do whatever it takes to make sure of your satisfaction. In short, they stand behind what they sell, and works to not only provide you with great products, but beneficial partnerships with ISP’s and DNS/hosting companies, to maximize your savings for web-based commerce. I know that if you have had dealings with them before, or have yet to purchase something, you will enjoy your transactions, going forward, with them, no doubt. Try this animation family of programs, and you will always want to use them for your projects. Tel them I sent you, and until next time, keep on techin’!

Gamani GIF Movie Gear 4.3 In-Depth Review:

Social media has grown in importance and significance as the years have gone by, with memes being used to share popular culture and trending topics. Gone are the days of 8-bit (256 colors) simple graphics of the early 1990’s, replaced with 24-bit/32-bit true color images that show HD movies and TV clips of today. Such changes have required file formats to evolve, and animated icons and images are no different. As PNG image formats have supplanted GIF for web images, so too APNG format has began to replace animated GIF’s. Trying to find a qualified program that accomplishes this that is easy to understand, use, and is reasonable priced, is a fairly narrow field. The cream of the crop can be found in Gamani Productions GIF Movie Gear, which supports both the legacy GIF format and the aforementioned APNG formats.

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This program has a very familiar interface that anyone who has familiarity with standard Win32-Bit/Win64-Bit applications can attest. Inset inside of the main window, you can see a sub frame, which allows you to open a file, add frames, or start the tutorial. As you can see, the main window has a toolbar, with File, Edit, Frame, Animation, View, and Help, common to an art program. The thrust of this program is to take a series of still images that you have already created/imported, and turn them into an animation, cursor, or icon. You can also break down an existing animation, and turn it back into individual still images. This program also allows you to blend/merge multiple animations into a single animation that is a hybrid of the originals. Above these options, you can make edits and palate changes to your animations.

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Breaking down individual elements of this program will allow you to better comprehend and understand how these files are created, and the nuances that go into producing professional-grade final images and animations. The tutorial will take you through some sample images, animations, and modifications. I have followed these steps that the program’s author outlines, and as someone who has minimal experience with making animations, I had very little trouble following the instructions. Anyone has any image manipulation experience, can do this with ease. I like how you can take a portion of an image that does not really change between frames and streamline the final animation, by just using the parts that do change. Bottom line, this program has an easy-to-follow, systematic approach that anyone can use.

You may be asking what does a program such as this might cost. The answer may surprise you, as it is only cost $29.95 USD. Many graphic design programs cost well above this price point, and cannot easily do these tasks, with the same ease. This price is for a single-computer license, and entitles you to tech support and extended customer service. If you need this program for corporate environments or multi-computer setups, you can request a price quote for bulk orders. I definitely believe this program is well worth the cost, and I can see putting this in to practice with both creating memes fir social media and potential animations on my blog website.  If you still are uncertain, you can try the program risk-free for 30 days, in a trial/demo version of the program. Check out this program and company and I know that you will agree that Gamani Productions and GIF Movie Gear are well worth your business. Buy this great program, and tell them I sent you. Until next time, keep on animating!

Ashampoo WinOptimizer 14 In-Depth Review:

As a technician, I know all too well how important routine maintenance on your system is to its overall health. Back from the days of Symantec, and its Norton Utilities and SystemWorks program suites, people have been clamoring for advanced and full-featured tools that augment the operating systems ability to manage their hard drives and registry. As the last twenty years can attest, the growth of the Internet and its transmitted data left behind in people’s systems has only grown the need to add temporary file cleaning and cookie management to system tools, beyond the blocking of malware and pop-ups. While such programs has traditional cost upwards of around $99.99 USD for a single, consumer license, back in the late 1990’s, options available today can be had for less money. You may ask who I should trust with these vital system tasks, the answer is the fine folks at Ashampoo, and their new flagship system utilities suite, WinOptimizer 14.

box_ashampoo_winoptimizer_14_frontThis fine product launches, today, and I can tell you that this program has a nice pedigree of both features and solid customer service/support. At only $49.99 USD for a single license, this program covers the following features and services: Computer Management (info, performance, restore points, processes, etc.), Security (privacy setting, file deletion, file encryption, file splitting, and file restoration), Hard Drive(s) (free space, defragmentation, health status, resource hogs analysis, software uninstallation, duplicate files, speed measurement, etc.), Internet (delete web traces and connection optimization), Operation System (registry clean-up, defrag registry, service management, system settings, icon positions, rick-click menus, file associations, and user permissions), and General Settings (undo changes, maintenance plans, and options). These umbrella categories allow you to protect, tweak, and customize how Microsoft Windows 10 performs for you individual system. While this operating system does have some of these functionalities, it is not as encompassing as WinOptermizer 14 or as user friendly as Ashampoo’s GUI layout across their program family. Breaking down some of these sections will allow me to highlight what each facet of this program suite can be of use to you, my readers, in your daily lives.

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Of primary concern to both business and consumer users is security in the 21st. Century, Internet-connected, inter-operative devices and networks. As I have highlighted before, being able to set limits on data sharing between your computer, operating system, and third parties is a high priority. WinOptermizer 14 has a nice, clean interface that lets you set the different telemetry data restrictions, Cortana (Microsoft’s virtual assistant/search app integrator) limits, and how your apps interact with your personal data. These limits help protect who you are, and what programs you use, to shield companies from using this data for marketing, without your permission.

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A simple menu module that gives each category (where features are held) on the left and various tabs that allows you to make sub-category choices from there, via checkbox. The process is straight forward and very intuitive, even for someone who has any form of disability (such as me), and explains what these changes will mean to the user, and whether or not you want to enable/disable said options. Such straight forwardness is not often found in many security-focused programs, but Ashampoo has made this a priority.

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Along with app/telemetry data protections, WinOptermizer 14 is a strong cookie/temp file deletion program. No matter what browser you might choose to use (Edge, IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Opera), the simple, concise module will show you what junk is left behind from your browsing/downloading. Each browser has its own row, so you can be selective of what you remove or leave behind. Most people will want to delete all of their history, cookies, temp files, etc. to best protected themselves from snooping and any nefarious usage of their system on the Internet.

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The likelihood is not high, but with ransonware and new forms of malware being developed all of the time, it is better to be safe than sorry. One added benefit of this habit is it wills the freeing up of hard drive storage consumed by accumulated web debris. I can tell you how quickly these types of files can eat up your drive space. When I was an active on-site tech for a major IT companies, I had a service call, in which I had to start an Internet cleanup sweep for a residential customer. I had to leave it running overnight, and when I checked up on the progress the next day, the customer informed me that he had retrieved back over 3.5 GB of disk space. Not only did that give some breathing room on the drive, but allowed the man and his wife to be able to visit websites without a tremendous slowdown on connection speeds. This is a vital toolset and task that should be done with great regularity.

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I could inundate you with more benefits of a system utility suite, but the program really can speak for itself. The thing I want you to take away from this article is that you need this program in your computer life. No matter if you use everything that this program offers; whatever you choose to implement it is well worth the price tag. As I alluded to you earlier, many programs of this type cost around $100.00 USD, but Ashampoo WinOptimizer 14 only cost half of that price. If you are not certain that you need this program, you can of course try out the trial/demo version. If you act now, they can offer you an extended trial period, to give you extra time to decide if you want to get this great program. Also, as this is a new version of this program, you can buy this for 40% off ($29.99 USD, instead of $49.99 USD). Once you try this program, you will become not only a customer of WinOptimizer 14, but all of Ashampoo, and their product family. Just try this program, and I know you will agree. Until next time, keep on computing. . .

Ashampoo Snap 9 In-Depth Review:

My regular readers will know that I use screen captures, frequently, in my review and product highlights. I have reviewed programs from this software category before, but I wanted to revisit this area, due to some people needing to not only capture static images, but videos/clips. While so far I have not done video tutorials or instructional feeds, the potentiality of being able to do so may spark some creativity in my mind for future applications. Most capture programs that can do static captures or even use the alt-print-screen keyboard shortcuts, if you do not have capture software installed. However, Ashampoo and its software cadre of programs come to the rescue! The great program that takes the lead is Ashampoo Snap 9 and it is loaded with features for all capture duties.

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Screen resolutions are growing all of the time, with a new benchmark being 4K (2160P: 4,096px x 2,160px), becoming the top-tier for consumer and web media production. Most programs top out at 1080P, but not so with Snap 9. This great program can allow to you make screen captures and snaps of your desktop, browser, windows selection, and so forth. This is especially nice, if you are fortunate to have an ultra hi-resolution monitor/TV to work on and create clips. Even if you have a screen size and resolution that you are using, which does not match or too large for your final application usage, you can take this program and size it down for distribution; vital for streaming and downloading on non high-speed connections.

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Resolution aside, a standout of this program is the ability to use OCR text processing with your captures. No matter what languages that you might use in your projects, Snap 9 has support for seven languages (Japanese, English, French, German, Spanish, Turkish, and Russian). Being able to take your captures that contain text and either convert them to usable design elements or isolate them as editable and type-able font excerpts that you can reuse. I have had middling results with OCR before, but I am sure that you will find that Ashampoo’s results with Snap 9 to be great!

 

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For my readers, who might be growing in their skills with more advanced video-making tools, I am happy to report that this fine program has built-in support for major graphic design software suites and social media distribution. If you happen to use video editing software that is compatible with Adobe Photoshop and its file formats, Snap 9 has supports for all layers and objects. You can export to WBEP format and auto-sizing of the content for whatever destination platform or device you are optimizing for.

 

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Social media support allows you to share your captures on Dropbox, Microsoft SkyDrive, and Twitter. If you have an Ashampoo Web account, you can upload them to the service, and share links to your videos with unique links. If social network platforms are not your speed, Snap 9 can aid you in sending your e-mail, via a dedicated client or through a web-based email service. No matter what way you want to share with people, your clips and captures are going to be up to the task.

 

What does such a full-featured program such as this cost you? The short answer is $49.99 USD, for non-members of Ashampoo products. If you have purchased other products from them, you can pick this up for $24.99 USD, as a reward for customer loyalty. If you are a registered owner of a prior version, you can upgrade for $19.99 USD, also for previous purchases. Unsure if this program is for you, you can try the demo version out first.

logo_w10_comp_blueI know that once you try this, you will buy this without reservation. Ashampoo’s products are time-tested, blogger-approved programs are great, and they have stellar support to backup any issues that may arise. They get my unabashed endorsement, and your usage of them will only grow and grow. If you think of great Windows programs, think Ashampoo!

SoftOrbits Privacy Protector for Windows 10 1.6 Review:

Twenty-first Century O/S’s have many advantages of built-in programs and features, but they can have some undesired side effects. One of those categories is the emergence of data mining and privacy leeching. With the latest operating systems and programs, individuals and businesses have had to weight trading their personal data and information, for enhanced services and free software. As society movies away from traditional media channels, with their in-place advertising systems and metrics, to on-demand, 24/7 world, with these same groups clamoring for all the information and customer data they can retrieve. They need this info to help them reach their customers and make more sales, but at the cost of the individual’s privacy.  You need these programs, but how can you combat these requests and take advantage of these new programs, you may ask. Your friends at SoftOrbits have you protected, and ready to move ahead.

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Their new privacy advocacy protection program, Privacy Protector for Windows 10 allows you to install Microsoft Windows 10, and then shield them from snooping on your data, searches, keystrokes, OneDrive, etc. Being able to take advantage of the advanced features of this cutting-edge operating system, while establishing boundaries between you and these corporations is a great compromise. Not only can you shield these aforementioned elements, but also remove the pesky built-in apps (Metro apps) that come bundled with the operating system. This is a great addition, if you never use these programs, and would rather use alternatives or need programs to access these slated file types.

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The list of options that can be chosen range from establishing a system restore point to deleting the OneDrive application. I recommend that you choose the following options: delete the key logger and telemetry, spying tasks, block spy hosts, deny access to your Contacts, Calendar, Camera, Location, Sensors, Messages, Handwriting, Disabled Cortana, Bing Search, Wi-Fi Sense, password reveal, etc. These features can help provide a nice level of protection, while allowing you to still carry on with basic Windows features. While some people may love Cortana’s virtual assistant and scheduler, I am not comfortable with Microsoft or any company building a profile of my personal habits, on my searches and appointments. If you are fine with this level of data sharing, you can leave this option unchecked. No matter what options that might pick, you will go a long way to keep your information yours.

 

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As I alluded to you earlier, some people might want to remove the built-in Metro apps. It might be a space requirement (HDD space), or maybe these apps you do not personally like or find intuitive. It also might be based on the fact the Metro apps do not work for the file types you might need or use regularly. I personally use other media programs for music/video playback, so my usage of Groove Music will be minimal or not at all. It might consider uninstalling this program to free up some space or to keep this from accidently becoming the default program for these file types. If I choose to do so, I will use this program to remove it, as it cannot be uninstalled from the Programs menu in the Control Panel.

 

The last section that this program offers is the Tools section. Inside of this menu, there are just a few options to pick from that allows you to modify the Windows Update feature, restore the system, disable User Account Control (UAC), and finally edit the Hosts file. Each of these features has their uses, especially if you are leery of Windows Update causing you problems or the UAC causing you to not be able to run/install programs correctly. The Hosts file editing option is great for experienced technicians to make tweaks to what website DNS look-ups your system uses.

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No matter what level of your technical skill-set you possess, this program makes your Windows 10 installation behave the way it should have, right from the factory. I know how well this company stands behind its products, so I can only imagine what they have in store for this program, once the Windows 10 Anniversary Edition launches later this summer.

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I know once you try SoftOrbits Privacy Protector of Windows 10, you will buy this game, immediately. As always, this program comes in three tiers. The first tier is Personal ($39.99 USD), which allows you to use this software on one computer, in a non-commercial, non-business environment. The second tier is Home ($59.99 USD), which is the same as Personal, except it can be used on two computers, instead of one. The last tier is Business ($99.99 USD), which can be used in commercial and business environments. These all include minor updates to the program, and you can try the demo, before you buy the program. A great product, and great company; you cannot get better than that, folks! Until next time, everybody . . .

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