Adobe Creative Suite 6 Kicks!

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If you’re doing anything at all creative with your computer, you’re likely aware of the excellent suite of creative tools from Adobe (coincidentally called the Adobe Creative Suite).

Well earlier today, Adobe announced a huge upgrade to the suite, Adobe Creative Suite 6 — CS6 — which contains a lot of new features to all products within the suite and is also designed to drive Adobe users to their new subscription-based (and also announced today) Creative Cloud service

Aimed at the serious creative hobbiest or professional, Adobe Creative Suite has long contained many of the industry-standard creative tools including Photoshop and Illustrator.

Creative_Suite_6_Design_Standard_mnemonic_RGB_300px.jpgAnd if you’ve been using an older version of Adobe Creative Suite, here’s some of the new feature you’ll find in CS6.

  • Content-Aware image retouching tools
    Retouch images with stunning results in Photoshop Extended. Use the Remix tool to move a selection with auto-recompose and blend. Content-Aware Patch lets you control patch samples.
  • Fluid grid layout for mobile devices
    Design and develop confidently for mobile devices with advanced tools in Dreamweaver CS6, including CSS3-based layouts that scale responsively to virtually all screen sizes and form factors.
  • Global Performance Cache
    Create more in less time with unprecedented 64-bit Performance. This revolution “under the hood” makes After Effects CS6 fast and responsive by taking full advantage of the power in your computer’s hardware.
  • Extraordinary image editing
    Use the Mixer Brush and Bristle Tips in Photoshop CS6 Extended to explore lifelike, naturally textured painting. Add dimension to your imagery with 3D extrusions using Adobe Repoussé technology, and make precise image selections with Truer Edge technology.
  • Interactive documents and presentations
    Create memorable documents and presentations with interactivity, motion, sound, and video in InDesign CS6. Enhance layouts with rich media using motion presets and support for FLV and MP3 audio file import to engage your audiences.

As with previous CS releases, Adobe has bundled tools into various configurations and pricing. According to Adobe’s news release, CS6 and Creative Cloud will be available within 30 days — we’ll update this post when we have precise details on their arrival and pricing at Future Shop.

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Taking a look at free online storage options

UPDATES Wow, another one today (Thursday, April 12, 2012). LogMeIn has entered the ‘cloud storage space’ space by announcing the invite-only beta of Cubby — which gives you DropBox-like access to 5GB. I’ve requested an invite and will post about it when I have some hands-on time.
DropBox has doubled the amount of free space they’re giving out through referrals and Spider Oak is also in my testing suite. It starts out with 2GB free, and I’ve just opened my account so I’ve just started testing, but you can expect I’ll write about it in a week or two. If you want to check it out, here’s an affiliate link (which will get you one extra GB of storage!).

Currently, the latest buzz is all about a possible April launch of Google’s much-anticipated free cloud storage app called dubbed GDrive.

Reports say it’ll come with a local, desktop client for most operating systems that will enable you to store and access about 1GB of files in the Cloud. Nice.

But it’s not here yet, and there are already other excellent cloud / drive solutions that offer the same or better. While it’s hard to compare apples to apple (different providers offer different storage and utility packages) here’s my thoughts on the current leaders:

Dropbox
The current market leader, offers 2GB free, desktop and mobile clients for all leading hardware. Recently, DropBox has become more active in the enterprise space offering solutions for groups and teams.
Affiliate program allows you to expand your storage space by signing up friends etc. Nice that it’s pretty seamless. Install the app on your device, log in, and your files are instantly accessible. I’ve written before about Dropbox here and here.

My affiliate link is here, if you want to check out Dropbox.

SugarSync
SugarSync ups the ante a bit by offering a free 5GB account. They also have a nifty desktop client, great web interface, and the ability to extend your storage capacity through an affiliate program (signing up your friends, blogging about it, etc). Here’s my affiliate link if you feel so inclined to check it out:

Box
Recently made the news by announcing Box OneCloud — a collection of mobile apps designed to work with Box’s cloud storage systems:

Signing up to Box gets you an initial 5GB of storage, but they often run promotions with prizes up to 50GB.

While Box does offer free clients for mobile devices, if you want to have the seamless integration of Dropbox or SugarSync, you’ll have to upgrade to the $15/month Box business plan.

Microsoft Live SkyDrive
This is the big surprise — Microsoft is offering 25GB of storage, Mobile apps, online MS Office integration (and you don’t need to have Office installed locally), group collaboration, and public file sharing.

For example, here’s a public link to an Empire Avenue promotional video, stored in my public SkyDrive space.

Currently there isn’t a desktop client available, so you will need to use the web interface (which is quite slick, even in Chrome and Firefox) to manage your files. But a Windows and OSX desktop client is rumored to be available shortly.

One or many?
Well, for me, I’m actually using a mixture of these. Dropbox is my daily go-to storage solution, simply because I’ve been using it for so long.

SugarSync I’m using to keep some backup files stored safely. Box, well, I’m not consistent in my use of it, and SkyDrive, well that’s my new darling. I’ve neglected it for a while but now will be trying to integrate it into my workflow wherever I can. And yeah, you’ll here from me if there’s problems.

So, did I miss anything? What’s your online storage solution look like?

Have you backed up your data today?

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Today is World Backup Day, I’m told, but to be frank, every day you should be thinking about the safety of your data, there’s just too much of it that’s irreplaceable.

So, today, I’m going to take a quick look at some of the backup systems I use and have in place. Yes, I said systems. No one backup system is infallible, so redundancy is important.

And, of course, this is my thinking on the subject. You may have differing opinions, which is great, as long as you are backing up :smileyhappy:
Continue reading “Have you backed up your data today?”

Keeping your holiday photos safe

fz50.jpgThe holiday season is upon us, which means that we’ll be enjoying time spent with family and friends. Many of us will grab our handy camera-enabled data phones and snap priceless shots that we’ll want to share, and keep for posterity.

But that’s where the tech can get a bit tricky. Sure, we’ve tried sharing to our various Facebook, Flickr and Picasa accounts, but what about the ‘saving for posterity’ part.

Photos in the Cloud
Well, two of those three services mentioned above are a great start. Here’s the four that I’ve seen and used that will offer solid photo service over the holidays and into the future:

  • Flickr offers a Pro level account (about $25 per year for unlimited photo and video storage) that will keep all your photos online and available. Free gives you unlimited storage, but only your most recent 200 photos are viewable. Online image editing provided by Picnik.
  • Picasa has a free account that offers 1GB of free photo storage and basic image editing tools.
  • SmugMug is pricier, offers three levels of service, and is geared toward the more serious photographer.
  • Adobe Photoshop Express gives you access to basic online photo editing and organization tools, and 2GB of free photo storage. Additional storage space can be purchased annually.

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So, what’s so great about storing your photos online anyway?

  1. Backup — you don’t have to worry about keeping your images safe; the service you’re using does that.
  2. Sharing — easy to embed the images into blogs, email and twitter messages. Each photo usually has a public URL that’s sharable (or private, if that’s your thing).
  3. Printing — a few of the services are offering partnerships with professional printing labs which lets you produce photobooks, custom prints etc.
  4. Integration — some of the more popular services are already integrated into your iPhone camera applications (such as Instragram). Push a button and your latest shot is uploaded to the service, ready for you to edit and share.

Local storage?
Yep, you can keep your photos on your own computer, but you do run risks should your computer crash or worse. I do keep the majority of my images at home, stored on a network attached storage device that’s got two drives, one a mirror of the other. So if one should die, I’ve got a copy of my data on the other.

Also, I backup my photos weekly, and move the backup drive to an offsite location for even greater safety. Yeah, a housefire would ruin a lot of things, but I know my photos and other important data would be safe.

Your needs?
It depends. Take a solid think about what you plan to do with your photos, how you want to share them, and how important they are to you (can you afford to lose them?). I’ve likely given you some ideas to try and experiment with as we head into the holidays. I’d love to hear what you’ve tried and how it worked (or didn’t).

Online backup one of Time’s top 50 websites for 2007

Odds are, if you’re reading this, you’ll have read one of my previous articles about Mozy, a free (and subscription based) online backup service.

Well, Time magazine has selected Mozy as one of their top 50 websites for this year. Now, which position is actually up to you and me. You see, Time has this nifty voting gadget that lets you select the spot you feel Mozy should be in.

Now Time is asking users to rank the top 50. If you like Mozy, this is a great opportunity to give us some props by visiting the Time website and giving us an appropriate rank. So here’s how to help: when you get to the website, just slide the slider to something like, say, 100, and click the submit button. We really appreciate the kudos!

Cool idea, and yeah, I like Mozy so I turned the volume up to 11, so to speak.

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Free online backup to the rescue

Recently I had to rebuild the c: drive of my main desktop computer. Yes it was a pain. I had many programs installed there, and am still slowly reinstalling all the ones I use as I use them.

One thing that made the process easier was my online backup. Mozy stored all my program settings and configuration files (you know, the ones that live in c:Documents and Settingsusername
etc…) safely in their online backup structure. It was an easy matter for me to login to my Mozy account and retrieve them.
That saved me hours of rebuilding my settings for various applications and games.

Now, the free version of Mozy isn’t intended as a full system backup, you only get ~ 2GB of online storage. Mozy only backups local drives, so a removable or network drive will be skipped, but the fact that backup is automated, intelligent, and configurable make it a winner.

I’ve also been looking at Xdrive (from AOL) recently. It’s 5GB of free online storage, but it doesn’t seem to have an automated backup facility. You just drag and drop whatever you want saved there, and gets saved there. It’s more of an online storage solution than a backup. Kinda cool if you need to keep your 4GB iPod Nano music where you can get at it online (provided you’re not firewalled at work or anything).

Xdrive allows you to store any file that your computer can see, so that does include network and removable media drives. And with Xdrive, you can share your files or folders, and manage access to them if need be.

I’ve just started playing with Xdrive, but if they just added the background backup function to Xdrive, I think it would challenge Mozy.

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