FX Photo Studio is a great addition to your iPad Darkroom

5388162366_abe71bf517_m.jpgIt seems that new photo capture and editing tools for Apple’s iOS devices are being released every day. Often they’re average quality tools available for a buck.
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Saving time with Text Replacement utilities

I write a lot. Blog posts, proposals, reports, reviews, email…you get the picture. Often times I end up creating new documents that share similar format or content, and I cut-and-paste from older docs into newer ones. But I’m lazy, and always looking for easier ways to get the job done…

I’m Lazy
Over the past year I’ve been slowly learning how to save time and keystrokes by using text expansion software. In the old days we called them Macro keys.

Basically, what you do is create a database of commonly typed words, phrases or layouts and assign unique key triggers to each snippet of text. For example, I usually sign my email thusly:


Brad Grier

———-
Brad Grier Consulting
Lifestyle Technology & Community Media

Lots of characters and formatting, no?  Here’s the cool thing, all I typed to get that email signature was ‘.mysig’ (minus the single quotes). The software did the rest.

Another example? Sure!
Ok, the bright ones amongst you will be emailing me to say that most common email programs have a place for a signature, and it’s automated whenever you compose a new email. True. Save you’re email. But this was just one example. Here’s another.

Let’s say you’re a web designer, and you use common CSS or HTML snippets. It’s a simple matter to add this code to the database, and call it with a few keystrokes. This Lorem Ipsum layout text block, for example:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nunc mattis arcu sed quam tincidunt et lobortis nunc volutpat. Phasellus lacinia nulla quis lectus molestie in commodo mauris blandit. Nullam in vestibulum velit. Donec libero est, volutpat non accumsan ac, rutrum vitae odio. Curabitur pretium mauris non nisi vestibulum tincidunt. Aenean tristique quam sapien, vel dapibus ligula. Maecenas commodo faucibus pulvinar. Donec eleifend ante eget purus luctus ultrices. Nulla quis sem magna, eget feugiat dui. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Etiam sodales enim in dui ultrices in dapibus ligula porta. Aenean adipiscing ipsum id massa luctus vel suscipit metus elementum. Morbi venenatis mauris eget metus tincidunt luctus eget quis elit. Cras eget ligula quis diam pharetra luctus vel ut tortor.

That was generated by me typing ‘.lorem’ and hitting the Tab key. Much easier than pasting it in from the .txt doc I keep in my design snippets directory.

As well, text replacement software can easily automagically enter other dynamic data such as the current date (.d) [ Thursday, October 28, 2010  ] or time (.t) [ 10:09 PM ] in a bunch of formats. You get the idea.

The Software
On windows, I’d recommend the free Texter program, created by LifeHacker editor Adam Pash. And lookie here, there’s a video:

For iPhone and iPad, I use TextExpander Touch. Same features, with a few extra bells and whistles such as application integration.

For OSX, I don’t have one. I don’t do any writing on our Mac, it’s my wife’s computer :smileyhappy: But TextExpander Touch has a counterpart (called TextExpander, of course) that runs on OSX and others consider it the ‘benchmark’ for Mac text expansion and scripting tools.

texter.jpgSaving time?
One other thing, Texter actually tracks the keystrokes you’ve saved, and provides this fun little report showing how much time you’ve saved using it, and provides a handy printable chart of all your replacement macros.

Hello coders and writers, do you use a text replacement application? If so, weigh in on your app-of-choice, or perhaps a favourite replacement macro you use often.



This post of is one of many I publish weekly at the Future Shop Techblog. Read more of my stuff here.


Free and good? It’s for the birds!

Actually it’s for you and me, and I’m referring to the free online suite of tools that flies under the Aviary banner. Actually, it’s more than a suite of tools, Aviary is also a community by and for content creators:

At Aviary, we believe that everyone in the world should have access to powerful creation tools. We therefore chose our company mission to be We make creation accessible to everyone. Our powerful set of tools helps fulfill this mission by enabling small businesses, students, artists & creators across different genres.

What this means for us is that there’s now an awesome set of media creation tools available for you to use, for the cost of your internet connection — yes, the Aviary tools are free (though they originally had a subscription business model).

My most recent forray into the birdhouse had me using the Myna audio editor to trim down a mix I’d created for another blog post reviewing Seline HD (a cool iPad instrument).

MynaEdit.jpg

My mix had too much dead space at the head and tale of the selection. A few quick tweaks in Myna, and the mix is much as you see above.

download.jpg

Then, with a few clicks of your mouse, you can mix it down, and download it or copy some publish code to embed it in your website or blog post (as I did here).

bard1.egg by bgrier on Aviarybard1.egg by bgrier on Aviary

But this is just one of the Aviary suite of bird-themed tools. Others include:

  • Phoenix – Image Editor
    An image editor has layers, masks, effects, undo history, and all that other good stuff.
  • Talon – Screen Capture
    Use Talon to capture screenshots web pages from your browser or desktop and crop, resize or mark them up.
  • Raven – Vector Editor
    The world’s first online vector editor.
  • Peacock – Effects Editor
    It does so many wonderful and amazing things, we decided to call it our visual laboratory.
  • Roc – Music Creator
    Use Roc to create music and loops for use in Myna and ringtones.
  • Falcon – Image Markup
    Use Falcon to quickly capture images and web pages from your browser or desktop and crop, resize or mark them up.
  • Toucan – Swatch Editor
    A color swatches and palettes tool will help you find colors you didn’t even know exist.

And as I mentioned above, there’s a whole set of Aviary communities focused on the tools, and on creating, discovering, mashing up and publishing content.

It’s free — so can you afford not to take a peek into the bird house?



This post of is one of many I publish weekly at the Future Shop Techblog. Read more of my stuff here.