Tag: commercial

Ashampoo Burning Studio 18 In-Depth Review:

Ashampoo Burning Studio 18 In-Depth Review:

You may recall that I reviewed the flagship burning suite from Ashampoo, called Burning Suite 16, not too long ago. Now they have released the updated replacement, entitled Burning Studio 18, and it is packed with nice features and improved functions. Everything that you loved from the prior entry is here, only better, and easier to use. Now, let’s get into the details, and see what is on offer.

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If you are like me, you enjoy listening to your tunes, when you are out and about. This extends to traveling in the car, and this time of the year, singing along with Christmas music. Many newer automotive makers have vehicle product lines have A/V smart radio receivers are factory installed. This is nice to have, without adding an after-market unit, but it comes with some hurdles. Many different radios can only playback certain file formats, while excluding others from the list.

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Burning Studio 18 has a sure-fire way to make it possible to make a disc that will be compatible for whatever device is in the car, and playback is a breeze. The program is designed to allow you to select from numerous presets for radios/playback devices that take the guesswork out of this process, an excellent program feature for 21st Century music disc authoring. This is a must-have feature for disc authoring of today’s digital music.

People this time of year make numerous photos, video, and memories of the holiday festivities. When they sit down to compile the images into a cohesive whole, and lay out albums, it can be overwhelming and in disarray as to how best to present them to the group. Many have elected to turn them into slideshows and add in music and transitions, so they can be shown on the computer and/or TV.

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Since the release of Burning Studio 18, this excellent program has added the support for MPEG-4 H.264/AAC audio-video file formats. This allows you to create state-of-the-art HD videos that give you the sheen of a Hollywood production, yet star you and your friends and family. Now when you add transitions and sound effects, you will how numerous ways to make your memories sparkle.

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Data breaches and e-mail scandals make the headlines, it seems weekly. From the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government, and the recent election fiasco, on down to local government office being ransomed by hackers, to ordinary people getting their personal computers locked out, unless Bitcoin is paid for its release. Now, more than ever, people need solid, controlled environments to backup and secure their data for these and other reasons. Burning Studio 18, and the stable of single and multi-span volume backups/archives. Knowing that you can put your trust in this program, and know that if the worse happens, you can get your data (and to a certain extent, your life) back. This cannot be understated and brushed aside, as a core feature for burning software.

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These are but a few, key features that have been added and/or improved with this edition of the software. I know that if you try this version, you will be very happy with these changes. If you act now (December 2016), you will find that many of Ashampoo’s products are on sale, with significant discounts to be had. As always, the trial version of the program will allow you try it out for yourself. Until next time, Merry Christmas and keep on techin’ . . .

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Incomedia WebSite X5 Evolution 13 Review

Incomedia WebSite X5 Evolution 13 Review

A few months back, I brought to your attention the nice, development-ready platform, Incomedia WebSite X5 Evolution 12, and with the programs stable of site design tools, layouts, and templates. Fast forward to this month (October 2016), and you have the updated release of this fine suite, entitled WebSite X5 Evolution 13. Included with this update, is a bevy of new templates, stock images, graphic libraries, eCommerce site tools, social media buttons/applets, and so much more. You may wonder do these new features warrant the upgrade price. Let’s go through the process, and see what is on offer, and what is best for each type of user.websitex5_800px

If you are someone, like myself, and have your own blog site, having the new tools, such as a large stock royalty-free image library (now numbering at 700,000 images), is a blessing, as I can use the images to augment my posts, with demonstration images, along with the licensed images of the products that I review. I do not have a budget to purchase images/logos/design vector images, as a hobbyist blogger, but now I can choose from the built-in libraries to find what I need for future posts.

pro_en_xlAnother element of this update is enhanced eCommerce tools, with strong-level integration with payment processing gateways that work with your online storefront, which allows you to take a nice range of credit cards that you can accept. I do not have a need of this type of site tools, but my wife does run an online store, where she sells her artwork and hopefully, someday her books and instructional materials. I plan to introduce these, new financial purchasing tools to her, so she can incorporate this into her payment structure, to help cut out the “middleman” and reduce her cost overhead in processing fees.

incomedia-website-x5-product-specificationsMy blog audience and exposure is intrinsically tied to my social media profile. I have been able to contact numerous companies, their representatives, and vested individuals, who want to support my cause of raising awareness for the disabled and technology. One day that I do that, on a day-to-day basis is my contacting companies, through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other media outlets. On top of that, I enter numerous contests with many groups, and disseminate those promotional activities, through these social channels, so you, my readers can take advantage of these along with me.

If, and when I can move to a dedicate domain site, I hope to add these built-in plugins and social buttons from Incomedia’s WebSite X5 13. I want to do this to streamline this process, and make it possible for you interface directly with me, on my site, auto re-post my content to multiple social media channels, and maybe have future giveaways with these features, down the line. Having an integrated social media system will make my portfolio of content much more cohesive entity, and centralized that is currently capable.

incomedia_website_x5_logo_redI could go on and on, in hashing out the new features, but the best service that I can do for you is to tell you the three tiers that this software come in, and their price points. The starting tier is WebSite X5 Start 13, which includes 25 pages to make/manage, 50 templates, and the ability to make sites for desktop computers. This only cost $19.99 USD; nice budget-conscious price point that allows you to utilize this software much more than what a trial can offer you. The next tier is WebSite X5 Evolution 13, which is what I need for my projects/sites, and the one I recommend for the majority of people, who need web page design software. The cost of this is $79.00 USD, and has many, many more features, templates, pages to manage, and the ability to offer online storefronts. The top-tier of this product family is WebSite X5 13 Professional that has all of the aforementioned features, options, and a full-featured eCommerce suite that supports storefronts, payment systems, registration of users, and an inventory system, second to none. These wide –ranging feature set comes at a higher price than the other tiers, but considering what you get for the price (being able to use a license on up to two machines) the cost of $199.00 USD is a great buy!

logo_800px-blackIf you have ever had the pleasure to interact with Incomedia, whether as a customer, a potential customer, or someone who has some questions to make a decision or solve an issue, you know they stand behind what they publish/sell. This should give you peace of mind, in deciding to either upgrade to the new version/tier or become a new customer for the first time. Whatever you choose, I can tell you that you will never be disappointed that you considered Incomedia, and their products. As always keep on techin’. . .

Disconnect VPN – Privacy Pro 1.13 In-Depth Review:

Disconnect VPN – Privacy Pro 1.13 In-Depth Review:

My readership knows how much I treasure privacy and security, with growing concerns that gain strength, with more revelations that governments, corporations, and hacktivist groups are tracking our movements, week after week. This occurs many times, without our express, implicit, permission or legal presidents that justify such surveillance. I highlight companies that help the honest citizen, fight back against such invasive and overreaching practices. One such company that is fighting the good fight is Disconnect, a heralded Virtual Private Network Provider (VPN).

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For those of my readership, who have nominal knowledge and experience with VPN services, I can assure you the process is very hassle-free with Disconnect, and their service platforms (extensions, plugins, apps, etc.). The instructions are very straightforward and require basic software operation skills for PC, tablets, and smartphones. The value proposition inherent in using a service like this is weighed carefully, and once you see the benefits, I am sure that you will find the price point a solid bargain.

disconnect_logoOne, key way of analyzing how this might be helpful to you, and worth the cost can be seen in the gains that you make in data consumption. In looking at the benefits of having ads, tracking protocols, and other data-gobbling data filtered out of your connection, (via VPN) will not only give you peace of mind, but also better speed utilization and greater privacy that using a direct connection to the web. In prior articles that I have written, along with a cacophony of other tech insiders, who have documented and well cited the fact that every piece of data that comes in the down-link can both eat up any caps on monthly transmission limits, but also clog the storage and memory usage of the receiving devices. This is particularly true of mobile smart devices and hotspots, as most provides give you limited and/or throttled data thresholds/month; such devices also have limited storage/memory capacity (usually stated in GB’s).

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On top of this nuisance/menace potentiality, malware has become a greater threat, as the “black hats” have undertaken making phishing/impostors apps that mimic and steal vital information from unsuspecting customers. One way that such nefarious programs get onto devices is through bogus websites/tracking telemetry. With Disconnect protecting you web-enabled computers and mobile devices, this risk is greatly decreased and said sources will have a more difficult time getting to your identity and personal information. With breaches at some of the largest tech companies in the world, where people’s info was stolen with legitimate apps, it is vitally important to make sure the bogus one’s do not get through.

disconnect_scree_capture01 Another excellent benefit of having a VPN is the ability to circumvent Geo-fencing, or the practice of restricting Internet access, based on your location. While in the nation of the United States of America (where I live), we still have a U.S. Constitutional First Amendment that guarantees us freedom of speech, but in many parts of the world, that is not the case. Having access to a VPN allows the user’s of that network service the anonymity to get redacted information and share details of the inner workings of oppressive regimes. A secondary benefit of a Geo-fencing masking IP is the ability to set/show your location as another region on the world, to enjoy content is available to that part of the world, alone. This must be done, under the auspices of acceptable terms of use of any web services one may be subscribed to as a member.disconnect_screen_capture_smartphone01

You may be asking what does a comprehensive VPN service cost to use. The answer may surprise you, as the cost has a range of prices to choose from, starting at Free (Basic – Protect One Browser, Block Trackers, and Search Privately), $40.00 USD (Pro –Block Trackers & Malware across the entire system, with a 44% speed increase in performance, 39% less bandwidth consumption, and longer battery life (if applicable), and $50.00 USD/yr.- 3 Devices (Premium – Pro privacy and performance, secure WI-FI, and full location masking with the VPN). In addition to these levels of coverage, they have a one-time purchase that offers a VPN module for iOS, called Privacy Pro. The cost of this app is $29.99 USD, and grants the user of an iDevice a nice amount of privacy protection and tracking protection, via a VPN configuration plugin for the operating system. All together, each of these work well in conjunction with each other and make a fine addition to one’s security protection plan. All in all, this is a nice company and nice products to help keep your life, data, and online activity, private. Tell them I sent you, and keep on techin’!

Ashampoo Office Catalog Extension 1.0 Review

Ashampoo Office Catalog Extension 1.0 Review

As I wrote to you last week, Ashampoo has created a family of CAD programs, which allow you design a wide range of structures that you might have a vested interest in your life. In my various articles, I went over the benefits of having these tools at the disposal of select groups (and tailored to the final application and potential profession of the user). In addition, to the main software programs that I referenced in my prior articles, Ashampoo has added a new plug program to the line-up, called Ashampoo Office Catalog Extension 1.0.

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While the office furnishings and design elements present in the main programs are quite nice and offer some versatility and variety, the additional items contained in this add-on are well worth the asking price.

As a disabled individual, I have a high priority in having my electronic equipment in close proximity, and in top-tier working order. In my current residence, I do not have a dedicated office space for myself and my wife, and it impacts our productivity quite a bit. I have lived in quite a few places, but I have been the happiest in my working/hobby life in places where I have had a dedicated space for those tasks. I have not been able to design an ideal office space, up until this point, but I am hopeful that will change in the future. When the opportunity presents itself, I plan on having the necessary ports (HDMI, Display Port, SPDIF, USB, etc.) built into the walls, cabinets, and furnishings to minimize tangling and cable management. Not having to worry about cables being tripped over with my wheelchair or cane, nor the hassle of having to constantly move mine or my wife’s computer equipment to accommodate one another’s projects.scr_ashampoo_office_extension_ml_sideboard

Having a well designed office space can dramatically affect the how quickly and proficiently that you can complete tasks. As a disabled individual, I have specialized seating (wheelchair-accessible), and have the need for wireless keyboard and mouse, that can be placed either in my lap or on a movable/portable table. scr_ashampoo_office_extension_ml_tablesWith this design plug-in, I can have access to a larger pool of design office elements that will allow me to add ergonomic furnishings from the prominent design house, Vital-Office GmbH.

Having these expert design powerhouse included inside of this plug-in, means that if their product line meets or exceeds your design needs, you can layout the items that you need, and transition to ordering them for delivery and placement on the job site/office project. I can say, in watching several home improvement shows, how important it is to not only have a fine design plan, but a nice work-flow and follow-through to make the dream a reality. Having a floor plan and “ideal” elements in your design is fine and good, but when you go to execute the plan if the items you need/want are not available, you have to settle for less than want you have planned. Since Ashampoo has gone to the trouble of arranging the license to use the elements from this esteemed firm, the value proposition for this plug-in only grows.

scr_ashampoo_office_extension_ml_tables2Knowing how much this can expand your capability for design above the base programs, it is well worth the asking price of $14.99 USD. As always, they stand behind the products that they sell. If you, my readers, have any experience with their products, you will not hesitate to purchase this product, and have no regrets. Also keep in mind, this catalog extension does work with the other extension (Kitchen) to expand and round out your options, for design elements, as well as potentially work with future extensions, as they are developed. Bottom line, if you need office ergonomic design elements and have an inclination to create your office with CAD, you need this software. Trust me; you will not regret having this in your toolbox. As always, until next time, keep on techin’ . . .

 

P.S. If you are interested, Ashampoo has given away their Home Designer 3 for free this week. All you have to do is apply for a license, via e-mail, after you download and install the program. This is a nice way to try out their CAD programs in greater detail, than just a demo version. The program, along with some details can be found at the following link: https://www.ashampoo.com/en/usd/lpa/download-0367 I hope you check this out, and enjoy this great program for yourself.

Ashampoo 3D CAD Professional 6.60 In-Depth Review:

Ashampoo 3D CAD Professional 6.60 In-Depth Review:

In my last article, I introduced you to the world of Ashampoo 3D CAD Architecture in my last piece. In that article, I shared with you how this family of tools comes in various forms and tiers, which are aimed at distinct types of construction projects and audiences. The first programs that reviewed covered the home, its fixtures, and some light commercial applications. For people who want to branch out of these types of projects, they have a top-tier program that not covers these uses, but almost any type of project that can be visualized or contemplated, including industrial sites and buildings. This fine program is called Ashampoo 3D CAD Professional 6.

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While I have never been an architect or industrial designer, by profession, I did take some of those classes in college. My experiences taught me that these structures have to adhere to stringent requirements in regards to accessibility, energy usage, “flow,” ambient lighting, parking, function, and rigid federal, state, and local ordinances and regulations, among other constraints. This is so much more the case than private residential requirements.

I also had the experience and privilege of studying in an industrial arts building, during my collegiate career, where I learned to photography and develop orthochromatic (black and white) film for paste-up graphic design work. The fascinating structural design that is worth mentioning is that the darkroom was a walk-in camera. Inside of the room were the developing pans, aperture, and a vacuum-assisted film door, that held the film to be exposed to light for each, separate element to be photographed for optical composing. I can only image what must have gone into the designs and laying out the plans for the building, and in particular that camera room.

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In the days that the structure on the campus was built, they had to rely on manual and mechanical techniques (drafting, blue-line/blueprint drawings, optical compositing, etc.), rather than CAD (computer-aided design) methodology. If they had at their disposal the power, versatility, and materials, and plugins that Ashampoo offers in their flagship program, 3D CAD Professional 6, I can only imaging the solutions that they could have come up with for the construction. This is not to knock or denigrate the engineers or architects, who have worked on such projects with older methods, as the one I have highlighted, but rather to show that speed increases, materials testing/cost estimation, could be used to save money, and expedite the timetables for project completion.

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You may be asking yourself, with such power, versatility, and expansive capabilities, why I would go to the expense of selecting this level of program. The answer is multi-fold, and can be broken down in some key areas. Before I explain further, let me reassure you that this program can be for multiple skill levels, so keep that in mind, as I elaborate on my points.

First all, this program is quite capable and useful in a myriad ways. Its inherent versatility can be liked to Adobe Photoshop, in that you can use it in numerous projects, and at various levels. While cost is a factor (not unlike how Adobe has Photoshop Elements to give people access to some key features, at a reduced price), the entry-tier and mid-tier versions of Ashampoo’s products, can offer some features that you want to sample and test the waters, at a lower cost. However, the different costs associated with the full-featured, “expert” programs are worth the expense. These programs will allow any user to grow and expand with the programs, in tandem with their requisite skill level, and 3D CAD Profession 6 fits this bill, perfectly.

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The cost of this program is $379.99 USD, and that cost might give one pause, but keep in mind that is a good value proposition. I have seen many design programs that cost much more than this, and do not do as much, feature-wise. Safe to say, you get what you pay for, and software is no exception. Design software is a fairly costly category of programs, so some cost is expected to occur with these programs, but Ashampoo has done their best to minimize these issues, offering the program in each version that I have reviewed, so their customers only need to buy what they actually need.logo_w10_comp_blue

I know that once you try any of these versions of the 3D CAD program that I shared with you, the last few months; my readers will jump at the chance to get these programs at these fine rates. They do offer demo’s of their programs for you to try, so you can be sure you are getting what you want. Tell them I sent you, and keep on techin’ . . .

Ashampoo 3D CAD Architecture 6.60 In-Depth Review

Ashampoo 3D CAD Architecture 6.60 In-Depth Review

I did an article a short while back, that highlighted the benefits of basic home design software for residential and/or kitchen layouts. Now those fine folks at Ashampoo have released a more full-featured design family. These newer, two levels of software comprise the various applications and approaches, from more advanced home and landscape projects to commercial buildings and solar panel photo-voltaic arrays. Both of these programs can create mutually-accessible files and materials, which can work inter-operator-ability between the programs, and their associated plugins. This works well, in conjunction with the needs of specialized office spaces, kitchens, and universally-accessible structures, which these programs provide for the novice and professional alike.

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The middle-tier, focused program that is inclusive of every major instance of residential and light commercial application, and designed with this in mind is Ashampoo’s 3D CAD Architecture 6. This is an excellent stepping stone from just changing one or two rooms, into a full-fledged home remodel and landscape/hardscape overhaul. If you have ever wondered what would be involved, in terms of material, labor, energy usage,   and general construction planning, this tool has you covered.

Not unlike their Home Designer 3 program, this software allows you to not only layout designs in 2D and 3D formats (blueprints/plans, renderings, accessories), but it has the capability to specify electric grid components/circuitry, and see the utilization in potential action. These calculations can even help you determine the effectiveness of how the solar exposure will impact your energy generation and the offset of the home’s usage, with a photo-voltaic system. This is a very important feature that is only gaining steam, as various municipalities are requiring further self-sustaining “green” energy plans for new and/or remodel construction, requiring clean energy generation and reduced power usage. In addition, implementation of these systems can also qualify the property owner for subsidies and rebates to offset the cost, installation, and operation of “green” energy systems.

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As someone, who lives in a very hot climate in Northern California, USA, I wish I had a home/residence that had such a system in place, along with a geothermal system that would function as an alternate HVAC system. It is my dream someday to live in such a structure. This would augment the added energy usage that I require for my durable medical equipment, and allow me to have extra cooling that might lessen my systems, too.

The feature set of this program does support designs that would fall into the category of light commercial. A good example is my wife’s home-based business. She is a professional illustrator (10 years+), and is in the process of branching out into becoming an author of children’s books. She has used spare bedrooms or dining room tables for her work. However, I could use this program to create her a dedicated art studio, which would incorporate a static place for her to set up to paint (easel, palettes, brushes, paper/canvas, etc.), as well as having dedicated built-ins for reference books, maquettes/models, and her computer equipment. One could make sure that electrical outlets, cable connections (HDMI, TOSLINK/Optical, USB, Display Port, etc.) are at the proper heights and in the correct number. Also natural and artificial light must be incorporated and managed to great effect. This is just one application of this program’s power; there are many others.

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While my disability and my limited mobility affect my ability to do outside work, I would love to have a nice, custom landscape, that would be very wheelchair accessible and friendly access to an outdoor grill and cooking work area. Ashampoo comes to the rescue in this regard, as well, as it allows you to have great flexibility in laying out your landscape plan. You can pick out your materials, colors, plant varieties, and appliances that you want included, and have the program walk you through the steps needed, until you have the patio you have always dreamed of your whole life.

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These are but a few examples, as the limits of what you can do for your home and light commercial projects with Ashampoo 3D CAD Architecture. Such capability in a compact program, it must come with a steep price right? The answer is a nice no. You can have this power at your fingertips for $99.99 USD. If you need more added templates and features, you can add on the Kitchen and Office Catalog Extensions for $14.99 USD, apiece. Basically, for less than $150.00 USD you can have an extension CAD program that will design any home, home office, simple storefront or garden structure that you might need.

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To top it all off, Ashampoo has great customer support, with prompt service, and fast, courteous replies and solutions to all of your needs and questions. While I have never had the need (nor suspect that I will or you will, for that matter), you can always ask for a refund if you are not satisfied; they stand behind what they sell. After all, I know that once you try out this fine program (one of many, many programs they make), you will find that it not only meets your needs, but exceeds them quite nicely. If you think you might need even more designing muscles, and then tune in next time, as I will share with you their top-of-the-line CAD program for all manner of construction/design projects, Ashampoo 3D CAD Professional 6. Until next time, keep on techin’. . .