Category: Uncategorized

InComedia WebAnimator GO In-Depth Review

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’!

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iMobie AnyTrans In-Depth Review:

You may remember some months back, I did a review of iMobie’s PhoneClean. This fine product/tool you recall allowed you to sanitize/clean the junk files and leftover temp files stored on your device, eating up valuable space. While this fine tool does this in a fantastical fashion, the day-to-day management of your media files and apps has fallen to iTunes for both MAC and PC for years. Now iMobie has risen to this challenge, giving us a viable alternative that allows you to manage, transfer, upload/download files/apps in a simple, clean interface. Being able to have a drag-in-drop ability to import, export, add and subtract the various files that your iDevice can use. I know that being tethered to iTunes, with its ups and downs over the years has been bittersweet to say the least. Having a viable alternative to Apple’s flagship software suite is a breath of fresh air. Having familiarity with iMobie’s other great offerings allows people to jump into a refined GUI interface that is clean and very easy to systematically operate.

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Once the program is downloaded and installed, just fire up the software and you can begin the trial period, with its limitations, (but I feel confident that you will spring for the full program package, once you know the features/price point) and connect your iDevice(s) to start your untethering from iTunes. Keep in mind, the purchase price includes lifetime updates, and a two-tiered pricing model, which allows you to use the software on one PC (Single-User License – $39.99 – Sale Price) and the Family Edition ($59.99 – Sale Price). The price is going to increase to $59.99 and $99.99, respectfully on January 24, 2016. Either way, I know that you will have gotten your money’s worth.

 

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Once your device is connected/accessible, you are presented with a GUI menu that has a couple of tabs. You can choose between your iTunes library and your iDevice(s), and get an overview of what is in your library and what has or has not been transferred. Having this information is the basis of how to manipulate/manage the media files that are on your iDevices, your computer, and between iDevices, in a bi-directional fashion. A nice feature of this software is the ability to utilize multi-thread CPU’s to expedite this process and management of the various file type and apps, compared to iTunes (which seems to chug and drag, when you have a lot of files to update, sync, and transfer between devices).

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On the device tab, you are presented with some nice 1-click options that can streamline common tasks. You have the option of rebuilding/importing your media files from your iDevice into iTunes Media Library. This is especially nice, if your library has damaged or missing files, playlists, and ratings. A second option is to transfer the contents of your iDevice to your PC, for backup purposes and then make an archive of those files onto other HDDs or portable devices. Thirdly, you can move your files from one device to another, for the purpose of upgrades, sharing or migrating to a new device. Next, you can clone your device (1-to-1 copy) that allows you to get back up in running; a key option, if you have a hardware failure. You also can merge two devices into one, cohesive whole (so that you can have a unified media library on one device). This can take place, without erasing the files on the target device. Lastly, you can add files to your device, bypassing iTunes Media Library and the files already in on the device.

 

 

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As someone, who has never messed with playlists, being able to make, transfer, edit, and delete them seems intriguing in AnyTrans. I have always made sure that metadata inside each file is accurate (artist, album, and year, title, genre, artwork, etc.), so when I import files into iTunes, everything cross-checks and cross-references, copasetic. Usually, I just play my music, podcasts, and movies (to some extent), based solely on this metadata. However, my wife does use playlists, frequently. Being able to do this for her, between our devices will be a godsend. After you connect your device into AnyTrans, go to the Audio Button, click it, and soon you will shown a Playlist button, which will show you a divided window with the lists on the right, and songs on the left. It is very easy to comprehend, and follow if you use this option in iTunes.

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Another key feature of this fine suite of products is the ability to transcode your media. As I have highlighted in times past, native file formats that play on your iDevice are not as prevalent as those used on the web or desktop arenas. I know that my computer, over the years has used MPEG formats, then WMA, and now AAC for my audio. I have used VCD, SVCD, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MOV, and now MP4 for video. While I have the utilities needed to make the files work on my iDevice, natively, being able to add files, with AnyTrans, without needing a conversion is a breath of fresh air. I know that trying to sync large media files, even through a dedicated cable interface (in place of wireless) is a headache.

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I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to sync my media files, through iTunes, only to have files come up missing or orphaned. I have an older iPad (1st. Gen) and an iPhone 4, with older iOS versions, and keeping them current with my updated files flunks out frequently. Now having an alternative way to add and manage my files and apps will be a saving grace. This software’s strongest function falls solidly into this category, and it is the number one to buy this software, in this reviewer’s opinion.

I could go on and on about how this software will vastly improve you iDevice life, but the software speaks for itself. With the fine developer, iMobie at the helm, and the stellar reputation precedent set forth by their PhoneClean program, you know that you will not go wrong. You can purchase a Personal License for $59.99 USD or a $99.99 Family License that can used on all of you PC’s. As always, they have lifetime priority support and updates/upgrades for this program. Check out this fine offering from iMobie, and you will agree that this is a great addition to you fine library.

iMobie PhoneClean In-Depth Review

In an Internet-connected, smartdevice-centric world, people seem to easily forget the byproducts of constant web searches, app caches, orphaned files. Every site we visit every file we download, every media file we stream, we accumulate gunk that slows down our devices and Internet speeds, accordingly. After a while, those leftover files eat away at our storage capacity; limiting our ability to store what we want to retain.

Until recently, a person could not have much control over this issue, until today. The industry-leading smartdevice software company, iMobie, has released the defining application, PhoneClean. With this fine product, you can clean the temporary Internet files, history, app caches, redundant junk files, web-mail residual boxes, shrink app display images, and corrupted media sync libraries, as well as smart backups and restores. Each of the features allows you to have peace of mind, that your security and privacy are well protected and shielded from prying eyes.

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Continue reading “iMobie PhoneClean In-Depth Review”

Recover Keys Review:

In today’s world, people buy their software digitally, rather than through physical means, such as “boxed” software with its printed manuals, licenses, and product keys. While this offers many benefits, including near-instant delivery of titles and reduced packaging materials, it has an important downside; the ease of losing the codes/keys needed to activate/register their software. This compounds, when software needs updates/upgrades, or complete reinstalls, due to malware or hardware failures.  I can tell you that even under my best auspices; I have lost such codes and had to go through a hassle to get them retrieved/replaced. This is magnified, when it comes time for an OS upgrade, when you must provide your product keys for reinstall or for proof of upgrade eligibility for the upgrade product/price.

In anticipation of needed said information, I was wondering how to best track down my Windows 7 Product Key, as I was going to being upgrading up to Windows 10, since they were offering it for free, for one year for individuals. I knew that they would require me to go through the Upgrade Wizard for an in-place upgrade, but I wanted to capture my product keys so I could do a fresh install. (I plan on taking this on, when I finish my hardware upgrade, later this year, as my new hardware will need DirectX 12.)

I have used various methods to get my licenses recorded, with mixed results. There used to be registry tweaks, small executables (with risky sources) to recover keys, all the way to just putting everything down in a text file or physical notebook. Nowadays, with greater encryption methods, more software using Product ID/Product Keys activation servers and even a return of hardware dongles (iLok), more advanced tools are needed. One of those tools that meet these challenges head-on is One-Up, Ltd.’s Recover KeysRecover Keys Boxshot 220x328.

This fine tool allows you to view, recover, backup, and save your keys into a myriad of formats. You can save them as a PDF, text file, XML, Excel, or even print them out, to have a hard copy on hand; all while supporting 6500+ software titles for decryption. Many of the tools that I alluded to earlier would only show you the Product Key on a screen, which you would have to write it down, manually, to use later. Not to mention that they would only support one product family (maybe Microsoft products, like Windows or Office), and maybe contained malware, to boot.

This excellent software program/suite allows you to scan your main HDD that it is installed on, other HDD’s/partitions on your system, or other computers connected to it by a network. When you get your results, it will show you the Product Name, Location, License Keys, and version numbers for supported software in a table format. It is able to do this, with a small installation footprint, so it does not take up significant storage space on your system. In fact, they make a portable version, which can be installed to a thumbdrive for analysis on multiple computers. As I stated before, you can easily take your results, and save them in multiple formats or print them out for your records. Whatever works best for your disability or record keeping, you are covered. You may be asking, how does this work in the real world, with an actual usage sequence; fear not, I will use myself for an example of this in action.

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Using my current experience as a case study, I downloaded and installed Recover Keys for Windows (Single-User License Version), and decrypted my keys for Microsoft Windows, Office, and all of my other installed software, before I attempted the upgrade. (As I side note, backup/archive practices should include retaining your software installers and decrypted keys, for a complete backup.) I took my results, and saved them as a PDF, so I could reference them later. I was then ready to take the plunge, and start the Windows 10 upgrade process.

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After some hiccups, with my older hardware (particularly my old NVidia video card), and internet connections/speed problems, I was ready to re-run Recover Keys, and see what keys changes that have occurred, particularly the changes to Window’s Product Key/Product I.D. (In my process, Windows 7 to Windows 10 keys, so I could do a clean reinstall of either OS, at a later date.) I got my results, and saved these new results in a new PDF, for comparison. I now have both keys for each Windows version that I own, so I am ready to go forward.

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This may seem a cursory review or advocacy for this software tool, but the reality is that this tool is very straightforward and easy to use. Its purpose and usage is very well focused, and meets the goal set for it. As you can see, if you get your keys, and save them, like it did, you will be set for any unforeseen or mandatory installs, alike. Take my advice, try out the demo of this tool, and you will see the $29.95/ 1 PC is worth it. If you need more PC’s covered or a portable version, the price for these are competitive, considering the loss of your software licenses or having to pay additional fees to get them restored, makes them well worth it. The bottom line, saving your keys, saves money! Until next time, keep your keys to the kingdom . . .

Epubor Ultimate Review

I have always been a voracious reader throughout my life, and I continue to strive towards that goal, in my disabled years. While books have gone from hardback, to paperback, to trade paperback with aplomb in my lifetime, no single change has so radically altered the landscape as much a digital publishing of the last, fifteen years. In the beginning of such a revolution, one had to rely on PDFs being read on one’s PC, as simple user guides/manuals for software and consumer electronics; today you can read whole novels, short stories, and so much more from the comfort of bed, on the go, at the beach, etc., with eBook readers. Such a change has gifted us with the freedom we have longed for, but at a pivotal cost. We have competing storefronts that promise us the best selection, best value, sharability, and so forth, yet many do not use formats that most devices can interpret. The means for many of us, we have had to choose one device and one provider for our reading materials. A glaring problem, if you have a multi-device household, with various OS’es being used and books to share back and forth.

I have to announce to you, my faithful readers (yeah I know, accidental pun) that I have found a way through this mire of DRM-laden closed bookstore systems. The fine folks at Epubor have developed a piece of software, called Epubor Ultimate Converter, which decrypts and transcodes DRM proprietary eBook formats into a range of open eBook formats, easily.  Some pieces of software allow you to change an unprotected eBook between formats, but I have never found another software title that will remove the DRM (especially for several prominent bookseller formats).

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As many of you are aware of, I am disabled and rely heavily on technology to augment my way of life, and my reading is no exception. When I read, it is usually in my wheelchair, in bed, or some other seated position, away from my computer. I own an iPad (1st. Gen), while my wife owns a Nook HD, so us being able to share books that we have discovered is quite hard, as my selections come from iBooks, while she gets things from the Kindle Store or even Barnes & Noble. To complicate matters further, I have visual impairment, and as I enter fully into middle age, I find listening to audiobooks enjoyable and more pleasant that having to have the text in front of me blown up to a larger size to be read, manually. Also, I am working on other tasks, many times, so being able to hear it works well with the workflow that I find most productive.

Something that I was not aware of, until recently, is that many eBooks have DRM encoding to prevent them from being read, via Text-To-Speech (TTS). This was discovered, by my wife, who also enjoys having her books read, than reading them, as she was working one day. My assumption for such protection is that this is done to preserve audiobook sales of the written editions or any unauthorized audio transcription of said book, without the author/publisher’s permission. While I fully support protecting the intellectual property of the creators, this causes serious financial and accessibility issues for the disabled. As a disabled person, with a fixed income and a spouse, I rely on getting cheap or free ebooks offered by the storefronts, daily/weekly. I have rarely seen audiobook versions available, so I get the written editions. As I stated before, I tend to listen, rather than read my books, so I need to use TTS software to playback my books. The combination of these factors is why I went looking for a solution to this problem, and Epubor Ultimate Converter is delivered in spades.

As I have alluded to earlier, Epubor has not only created a wonderful, powerful, full-featured software tool, but one that is very easy to use. Not unlike many Windows programs, the GUI interface is very reminiscent of a Visual Basic design, coupled with column/category split window that is easy to read/operate. Upon startup, if you have your eBooks downloaded to your computer, you will be prompted to auto import them for conversion. This makes it very easy to change your books into the format(s) that you use, without much fuss or configuration.

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Once the eBooks are decrypted, you can take your eBooks and convert them to numerous formats, including Nook, Kindle, Kobe, Sony, and iBooks. For right now, Epubor supports DRM decrypting from most DRM eBook formats, with Apple iBooks being the exception. Support for that format is in the works, and hopefully will be announced in the upcoming future. I am looking forward to this feature, as I would love to be able to share my iBooks that I have acquired with my beloved wife, as well as making audiobooks for our listening pleasure.

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As is the norm, any piece of software has drawbacks, but Epubor Ultimate has only to document. The issue that I am referring to is the lack of iBooks DRM decryption, as they hoped a third-party provider would fill that gap. However, as I have noted, this is being addressed, by Epubor, in upcoming software updates. Knowing this is being fixed only raises my opinion of them, as a company, and their fine products.

You may be asking what does such a universal eBook DRM remover and converter cost? The answer is $59.99 (one-year license), but right now you can get it for $24.99 (one-year)! If you are wary of buying a piece of software outright, they do offer a 30-day trial version, which is fully-featured for you to test out. I know that if you give this a try, you will want to purchase this program.

One additional point of buying with confidence from these fine folks is their top-tier customer support. In writing my review, I have had to contact them for detailed questions, licensing issues, and feature clarifications, several times. Every time, I heard from their very knowledgeable, prompt, and professional staff, within one business day. They had the right answer, and were very willing to resolve my problems, to my satisfaction! I am very confident that if you give these people, your business, you will never regret buying any Epubor software product, Epubor Ultimate included. Please try out this fine software product, and you will love the freedom that having your ebooks readable on your devices habit-forming. Stop by Epubor and check out their software, and tell them I sent you, along.  Remember from childhood, “Take a look; it’s in a book. . . .”

Hobbyist Software’s VLC Remote & VLC Streamer Review

As my avid readership knows, I am fully in the court of having software tools for media playback in various operating systems. While HTPC software allows people control all of their media (discs, video files, audio, files, etc.), it tends to have a dedicated system to function as a server, wired into a home network. A wonderful playback sequence, but what if you wanted something less dedicated or even more portable.

As a disabled individual, sometimes I just want to listen to a few audio files or watch DVD from my wheelchair. I might be in my bedroom, kitchen, or away from home, so I need to use a laptop over my desktop tower. That level of portability means that I will end up using VLC to undertake these tasks, as it is lightweight, free, and handles most formats with ease. The problem that I have run across is that I have to always have to use my mouse/keyboard to control the software. What I have wanted is a way to emulate the couch experience of using a remote control to manage the experience. My wish has come true, in the form of VLC Remote and VLC Streamer.

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Hobbyist Software has made a set of companion apps that interface with VideoLan’s VLC Player. VLC Remote and VLC Streamer, come in both a free and paid versions (ad-supported or ad-free), allowing people to control their VLC experience from the palm of their hand. My desire to watch away from the computer drew me to these apps, and I am not disappointed. While they do require some setup on the PC (Wi-Fi configuration and PC Companion applications), once configured, they deliver on their promises, effectively.

First up on the list is the VLC Remote app that I will discuss. As I eluded earlier, you install the app on your smart device (phone, tablet), then install the companion helper software, from the link within the application. Do not worry if you are not close to your computer when you do this or your device does not support direct download links, as you can email the link to your inbox, as an alternative. (Note: I have iDevice hardware (iPhone/iPad) and a Windows PC, so the reviews of these apps will be based upon these families of products).

Once you have the companion software installed, run the Helper, and have it auto-configure VLC to support remote interface, as well as identify the mobile device that will be used for the remote. As you probably already downloaded the app for your device, just make sure that you select the right OS to minimize any hassles that you may have getting it to work. If auto-configure does not work, you have a troubleshooting guide and built-in Help system to iron out any connectivity problems.

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After you are setup, just open VLC on your computer, and then open the app on your mobile device. You will see a list of detected computers to connect to that are running VLC. Select the one you are going to use, and the control panel will appear. You have options for Album/Media Cover display, audio/video playback controls, DVD Remote controls, Equalizer, and other panels to explore. The usage is straight forward, and models VLC Controls in a GUI interface that closely resembles a physical remote control. It makes it very easy to sit back and watch/listen to my media from the comfort of a chair or bed; an essential thing for me, as that is what I want in a control scheme.

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While you can get an ad-supported free version, the full app price is worth the asking cost. The free version does show ads (as stated above), as well as does not let you browse media files from the remote (you have to go back to the computer to change what you are viewing/hearing). The current price is $4.99 USD for iOS and $2.99 USD for Android/Windows. Buying the full version also contributes to development of new features and tech support; plus gives the developers’ reasons to help facilitate incremental changes to the GPL code base for VLC, itself.  Try the free version and you will see what I mean; buy VLC Remote.

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Second on the agenda is VLC Streamer, which allows you to play media files in VLC, and stream them to your smart device, with transcoding on-the-fly. This is a great tool that allows you to watch non-native audio/video formats without having to re-encode them, transfer them to the device’s storage, and then play them back. The popularity of HTPC technology, including streaming media to all of your devices, via home network is the wave of the future. This handy little app can do this easily; without dedicated hardware setups for portability/travel.

All you need to do (similar to the remote app) is to download the app to your device, then the VLC Streamer companion software to your computer. Once both have been installed, run the companion app, add your media to stream, set the quality settings, and open the app on your device to start streaming. It is a very simple process, and a fun way to share your media, wherever you are in range of your computer network.

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The VLC Streamer comes in two flavors Free (ad-supported) and Standard (no ads). The Standard price is $1.99 USD for iOS/Android/Windows. Again well worth the entry point to help keep these folks going. Knowing that they stand behind what the sell/offer and that their tech support is of a very high standard gives me peace of mind on giving them my business.

What else can I say about Hobbyist Software, except that they make great products that work as advertised, priced competitively, and strongly supported. They make other fine software offerings for remote PC usage monitoring, PC Power Management, and handy Timer apps. Check out theiur offerings, and I am sure that you will find something you like/need. Just tell them I sent you, O.K. Until next time, happy trails to you all!

PDF FORGE PDF Architect PRO+OCR Review:

In today’s article, I want to highlight an important area that disabled individuals (and their non-disabled family members) have to deal with, frequently.  In applying and filing for government benefits, medical records and legal documents have to be obtained, processed, and filed electronically. I know from my own process in this manner, that I have had to request paper copies of my records, scan them in and make PDF(s) to give to my attorney, and thus the court/SSA for claim evaluation. Being able to do this is vital, in keeping the process going, saving some legal costs (lawyers charge extra money to order copies of one’s records, which is above their contingency fees), and being a strong self-advocate for one’s case and ultimate finances/care.

Knowing this is a key piece of using technology for the aforementioned need; how do you choose what software use with your hardware. The flagship product that comes to mind is the originator, Adobe and their Acrobat family of PDF creation tools. The cost of their software is now a subscription-priced, cloud-based service ($14.99/mo.), which is in-line with how Adobe now charges for their software products. That price model might work for some people, but an open-ended monthly cost does not work for low-income disabled (people like myself), and I would guess not work well for my audience (especially if you consider that the application process for getting SSA/SSI benefits can run two years or more).

Seeing how Adobe has moved to this model, and the prolonged process, how can you choose one of their alternatives? The continuum of choices runs the gamut from $140.00 PDF software suites to very basic, markup-only $40.00 PDF editors. The problem of these options is that the cost of the high-end software suite is not priced to be affordable for individuals on fixed income, while the cheaper options do not have the toolset that the same individuals need for their tasks. The best solution that I have found is a great tiered-priced PDF Suite with easy to add modules, called PDF Architect 3 from PDF Forge.

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This fine product starts as free basic software, with the ability to open, search, and create PDF’s from 300+ file formats. From there, you can purchase modules that allow you to edit, convert, secure, review, create forms, and even take scanned in text as OCR readable data. The price tiers for this range from free up to $119.99 USD, but the wonderful thing is that you only have to pay for what you need, and can easily add modules, if your needs change. If you elect to go for the Professional Package+OCR, you do get a discount on cost, versus upgrades later. For my purpose, I need the options that the top package offers, but you might only need the Standard or Professional package.

Price aside, what makes or breaks a software suite is ease of use, great support, and versatility. Let me put your concerns to rest, as PDF Architect delivers on all these fronts. Using my own experiences, I can tell you that my testing of this fine suite has proven this out, every time.

In my testing this past week, I found it very easy to make PDF from various sources. I first tried to convert a sample business letter in Microsoft Word format, and the conversion was seamless, fast and ready to roll in minutes. I know how important that my end-user needs to be able to view and read my documents, without errors, corruptions or potential malware infections. PDF has had some in-roads to becoming vulnerable to malware, but is more secure and hardened that text files or .doc(x). That allows me to being able to send my files with stronger confidence that what is submitted get there, in one piece.

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I next tried to reverse the process of taking a PDF and converting it to Word file; seamless as before.  The wonderful thing is that this process works just as well for other Microsoft Office file types, as well as numerous other file types this great software supports (300+). Being able to take a PDF of a business file, receive it, and be able to convert it to a format that you need/want, is a vital piece of a disabled person’s ability to handle business/legal affairs without extreme costs. My final testing included the creation of a PDF, within the PDF Architect software.

PDF_Arch_Create_Screen

The process to create such a file as this, involves scaled-back, page layout-light controls, in the vein of Adobe PageMaker from the late 1990’s/early 2000’s. Do not let that put you off, as the layout is intuitive, based on a ribbon-like tab system that lets you view, edit, set page layout, and so forth, as seen is later versions of Microsoft Office.

I made a blank PDF, and proceeded to add images and text. While my sample is very basic it does highlight that PDF Architect is powerful, without needing other programs to function to make your ideas a reality. The finished product is just great and allows people to put together something, quickly, yet professionally. (Note: It bears mentioning that I also have the OCR module and a scanner, but I did not have time to test these out thoroughly. However, I have no concerns that the features work flawlessly and effortlessly.)

Blank_PDF_Create

Coming back full circle, I have tried various PDF solutions, and while each offered pros and cons, I have never found a better, scalable solution than PDF Architect. The price continuum, platforms available (Windows/Mac), software integration, and ease of use make it the winner.  You may find other ways to make your versatile documents flow, but you will be hard pressed to find one better; check out PDF Architect from PDF Forge, and tell them I sent you. Until next time.  .  . Keep the faith!

A Nifty Tip for DMR Members

Just a quick tip for my readers, who are either members of Disney Movie Rewards or are considering becoming members. If you register your discs (DVD, Blu-ray), via Magic Code on the website (even being able to register your discs, if the code is missing) you can have a little insurance coverage on those titles. Disney allows you to replace scratched/lost discs for a fraction of the MSRP, if you prove proof of ownership. The cost is under ten dollars and well worth taking the time to register, above the other benefits that come with said action.

This is something that many entertainment companies do not offer, and really a nice gesture for families (especially those with children that might damage physical discs). The importance of this is of course, growing, as Disney has acquired numerous other companies/brands in the last decade. You can now replace not only Disney films and shorts, but Marvel, and soon Star Wars and Indiana Jones titles as well. A great expansion that I hope moves on other companies to follow suit.

That is all I have for this week, as my newsfeed has been a little slow, but stay your fear, as I should have more things to share very soon. Until then, Hakuma Atada ( No Worries) my friends. . .

FutureMind Weblock and AdBlock for iOS Software Review/Shout-out:

Every week, practically every day one hears of data breeches/attacks on various sites and services. When one is not having their critical data potentially stolen, it seems we are being watched by prying eyes of various bodes, companies, and associations, via cookies, transparent GIF’s, and general ad tracking code. Such intrusions are hazards that need to be dealt with smartly.

I, for one, am very concerned with my identity’s presence on the web, therefore I use multiple tools to try and turn the tide against these and more threats. The usage of antivirus/firewall/antispam on any device that supports them is the first line of defense, but not an option on Apple mobile devices. These devices are somewhat hardened to infections, but lack critical coverage for ads and tracking constructs to close the gap. This is a critical area that needs to be addressed by Apple, or a forward-looking company to step in and correct this flaw.

For myself, I have always used adblocking plugins on my desktop devices and browsers, and have been looking for a way to bring that to my portable experiences as well. I have wanted an iOS version of a popular adblocking plug (AdBlock Plus) in available to Chrome and Firefox desktop, but it was not available. Recently, I discovered a company, called FutureMind, who makes many applications, but the two standouts that fix the above issue are Weblock and AdBlock for iOS.

These, two programs, available on the Apple iOS App Store for $1.99 USD and $0.99 (respectfully), give excellent approaches to blocking the annoying/dubious content. They have their differences and uses, but both are great choices, depending on what sort of environments that your devices may be used. I will now go over each piece of software, in greater detail.

Weblock allows you to block content on Wi-Fi connections, with customizing rules, based upon whitelisted/blacklisted URLs. Weblock also allows you to set filters, manually, which allow you to control what is or is not blocked, and even make custom rulesets above this protection. The customization is great for users, who want to configure the blocking and filter settings, in detail, while only needing blocking on Wi-Fi (great for home usage or on devices without a cellular data plan). Around two dollars is not a bad price for the streamlining of apps and the added peace of mind this provides.

AdBlock for iOS, on the other hand, is a “set it and forget it” model of blocking. Currently, you purchase and install the app from the Store, run the Setup wizard, and allow it to install a faux VPN configuration file that will function as a cellular/Wi-Fi ad blocking solution. There is no user-defined rulesets or blocking filters that can be set, but this feature is projected to be added, at a later date. While some users may miss this feature now, the ease of configuration and full domain blocking (*.people.com vs. *.people.com/ads) far outweighs these missing features as an offset program. Whether you choose AdBlock for iOS, or the other option, both will serve you well.

I could go on about these fine pieces of software, but I recommend you see for yourself. Check out http://www.weblockapp.com/ and http://www.adblockios.com/ and see what you feel will serve you better. I use both for my various devices, so I can attest as to their usability, functionality, and value. I know I fell better that I have more control of ad tracking and content blocking, and I am sure you will too! As always, until next time. . . Keep on fighting the fight of web privacy and disabled user empowerment.