Archive 2007

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended review

The 10th release of Adobe’s flagship product — and the most well-known graphics manipulation program in the world — is Vista-ready, has a few interesting new features, and is now fully integrated with the latest versions of what were Macromedia’s Web development tools. If this is your first version of Photoshop in a professional atmosphere, you’ll love it; but if you’re happily working with an older version, I doubt Photoshop CS3 will convince you to upgrade.

Adobe Flash Professional CS3 review

Flash is one of the most important media formats in the history of personal computing. It will never be accused of being technologically advanced, resource-efficient, and optimally compatible across multiple versions and platforms, but undeniably Flash is the de facto animation standard on the Web. Tools to create Flash programs and animations have varied in depth of features and quality of operation, but nothing has ever been able to compete with the original Macromedia Flash development environment. Now in the hands of Adobe after its acquisition of Macromedia almost two years ago, Flash is finally alive and fully operating under a new corporate banner. Unlike previous releases, Flash Professional CS3 offers a number of must-have improvements, but it also has a larger number of marginal or meaningless enhancements, and the elimination of Flash’s 2D counterpart, FreeHand, is a huge negative point for veteran Flash developers and artists.

Using OpenBSD 4.1

If you’re a software enthusiast who has never used OpenBSD before, you might enjoy installing it by yourself and figuring it out as you go. If, however, you’re looking for a more practical approach to using OpenBSD 4.1 on a desktop or server machine, here’s a quick guide to get you started in this spectacular operating system.

OpenBSD 4.1 review

OpenBSD 4.1 was released on May 1 with its usual mix of new hardware support and enhanced operating system features. OpenBSD releases generally represent a large collection of small changes plus a few new administration and networking tools. Beyond the standard “many little changes,” the big news with 4.1 is a working native port of OpenOffice.org, the elimination of the Simtech StrongARM “cats” architecture from active development, and improved greylisting capabilities in the spamd spam filter.

Ubuntu 7.04 Review

Ubuntu Linux continues to show steady improvement with version 7.04, but there’s still room for improvement. Despite the handful of shortcomings in 7.04, this is the best release Ubuntu’s yet had. If they didn’t before, commercial GNU/Linux vendors should now feel quite threatened by Ubuntu Linux.

Windows Vista review

It’s been more than 6 years since the last release of Microsoft’s Windows desktop operating system. In that time, the operating system market has changed dramatically. No longer are there simple, standard PCs — we now have tablets, handhelds, set-top boxes, and network appliances. We have low-end “email and Web” desktops, high-end gaming machines, and superpowered workstations. Having tested Windows Vista Ultimate Edition — the most aggressively-featured edition of Vista — I have to wonder if the Microsoft software engineers have been paying attention to any of these markets, because Vista, though an improvement over XP in many ways, doesn’t seem to fit into any of them. It performs poorly, has substandard software and hardware support, and is prohibitively expensive. That’s not to say that there’s nothing to like about Vista, but the negative outweighs the positive.

Improving video quality on the Nokia E61 Smartphone

The Nokia E61 was billed by many as the next “Treo killer” smartphone, with an impressive array of email options, multimedia capabilities, a vibrant 3-inch screen, long battery life, comfortable QWERTY keyboard, and above average reception and voice quality. I think it’s definitely lived up to the hype, and many reviewers and users agree. Be that as it may, there are some shortcomings that irritate me — specifically, the E61’s relatively poor performance playing video. This article will examine video recording, encoding, and playback options that will help improve a video’s quality when viewed on portable devices like the Nokia E61.

Mandriva Linux 2007.1 review

After making a lot of progress with Mandriva Linux 2007, I thought perhaps Mandriva had turned over a new leaf, and was using that release as a starting point for an overall better quality operating environment. I was totally wrong. Both the PowerPack Edition and Discovery/LX have slid so far back with version 2007.1 that I have serious doubts as to the future of Mandriva’s viability as a commercial desktop operating system. Though some small but noticeable bugs were fixed and all of the usual packages have been upgraded in this new release, so much important functionality has been removed from it — and new, more serious bugs introduced — that Mandriva Linux 2007.1 has no hope of competing with other recently-released desktop operating systems.

Cedega 6.0 review

Though it’s updated almost every month to account for various patches and other incremental improvements, version 6.0 of TransGaming’s Windows gaming API emulation framework, Cedega, has more substantial improvements. Specifically, Cedega 6.0 performs markedly better and has improved support for DirectX 9 games. It’s probably not enough of an improvement to sway new users to ditch Windows and move to GNU/Linux, but current Cedega subscribers should have something to be excited about with version 6.0.

SoftMaker Office 2006 review

What started as a good, inexpensive word processor and later an equally good spreadsheet application has evolved into an office suite that rivals the low-end editions of Microsoft Office and Corel WordPerfect Office, while harrowing OpenOffice.org and StarOffice with better performance and Word document format compatibility. The TextMaker word processor and PlanMaker spreadsheet have been updated with new functionality, better compatibility with file formats from competing office suites, and better inter-program communication between both applications. It’s the best cross-platform (Windows, Linux, BSD, Windows Mobile) office suite I’ve yet used.

CrossOver Linux 6.01 review

Though each CrossOver Linux (formerly known as CrossOver Office) release offers substantial improvements, version 6.01 is the most revolutionary release I have seen since I started reviewing this product circa version 3.0. Many important new programs are supported, but the real news is not in the number of programs supported, but also their purpose: World of Warcraft, Half Life, and iTunes now have silver (almost perfect) status along with dozens of other applications. There are nine gold applications now as well. Overall, CrossOver has again made a number of significant and upgrade-worthy improvements to an already useful product.

Tirminal email file transfer tool review

Sending large quantities of files over the Internet can prove to be a challenge, particularly when you’ve got many megabytes worth of photos from your recent family reunion and many aunts and uncles (as well as Grandma) awaiting their arrival via email! Sure, maybe you could attach some of this content to an email from your regular email client, but even if you’ve got the patience to upload each image one at a time, how many of your family members will actually be able to receive a digital package of that size? Just before this realization led me to start burning DVD’s and prepare for a mass delivery throughout the United States and abroad, along came Tirminal.

FreeBSD 6.2 review

It’s been a long road to recovery, but after years of mediocre releases, and months of delays in the development process, FreeBSD is finally back on its feet with 6.2-RELEASE. Though it is an excellent operating system, even this latest version offers few or no competitive advantages over Solaris or the other BSDs in a server role, and can never hope to compete with commercial GNU/Linux distributions for desktop computers. FreeBSD 6.2 is what FreeBSD 5.0 needed to be, and for those who have already switched to other operating systems, there are few or no compelling reasons to go back.

openSUSE 10.2 review

Many changes have gone into the SUSE Linux operating system since version 10.1, including a name change: the entire operating system is now known only as openSUSE. All of those changes appear to have been for the better — openSUSE 10.2 is as great a release as 10 was — but despite the improvements and bug fixes, there are still several underlying problems that prevent openSUSE 10.2 from being competitive with commercial desktop operating systems. As far as free (of charge) operating environments are concerned, openSUSE is among the best. It’s also comprised mostly of free (of licensing restrictions) software, but it’s neither free enough to be totally restriction-free, nor proprietary enough to be maximally useful.

Music Morpher Gold 3.0 review

The market for sound editing software is pretty saturated; a quick Google search yields a ton of results, from simple freeware to professional level, super-high-quality programs. The same goes for multi-tracking and CD authoring software. Music Morpher Gold competes in all of these markets and attempts to be an all-in-one solution. It allows you rip a CD, edit the extracted audio, apply effects, potentially mix it with other audio files, and burn the finished product to CD, all from one interface. When I work on audio, I typically use no less than 4 different programs to accomplish this, and I was interested in seeing if Music Morpher Gold could really achieve acceptable results as a standalone product.

Win4Lin Pro Desktop 3.5 review

For several years, Win4Lin has offered a virtual operating environment whereby you can run Microsoft Windows inside of GNU/Linux. The first several generations of Win4Lin were limited to Windows 98, difficult to install, and had requirements that were difficult to satisfy, such as a proprietary kernel module and various acts of command line kung fu. Version 3.5 still has some of these problems, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be.

Welcome to Software in Review

FreeBSD 7.0 review

Here we are at the moment of truth for the FreeBSD operating system — the 7.0 release. This is what FreeBSD users and developers have been waiting for ever since the dark days of the 5.X series when the promises of superior performance, threading, and stability fell flat. Though each release in the FreeBSD 6.X series improved markedly in quality and performance, 7.0 has been widely anticipated as the release that FreeBSD fans can have confidence in. I wish I could say that FreeBSD 7.0 lived up to the hype.

NewNovelist 2.0 review

As an experienced writer, I can say with certainty that it is difficult to keep track of all of the various aspects of a fiction novel. I’ve known other writers who use various gimmicks and techniques to remind them of events, story elements, and character progression. I’ve used index cards pinned to a corkboard above my desk, and a notes file open in a separate tab of my word processor window to keep track of odds and ends in a story. When I first reviewed NewNovelist several years ago when it was in its 1.1 release (the review is no longer online), I said that it was a valuable tool for fiction authors, but wasn’t all that it could be. Now in version 2.0, NewNovelist has seen a gigantic overhaul, now including nearly all of the suggestions I’d originally made. Can there be a more useful software tool for fiction writers?

Roxio Easy Media Creator 10 Suite review

Veteran Windows users are certainly familiar with the ubiquitous CD/DVD writing program, Easy CD Creator. Before Windows had native CD writing capabilities, Easy CD Creator was the application of choice for a large portion of the Windows-using population. In this day and age, people don’t usually give much thought to the software they use for creating physical media. Though it’s still available as a standalone program, the most full-featured edition of what is now known as Easy Media Creator is actually a suite of programs. Version 10 offers a number of interesting new tools and functions, but it seems to over-promise and under-deliver when it comes to expected and desired functionality.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 review

Dreamweaver is the world’s best-known and most technologically advanced WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) Web design and development tool. Unfortunately for Adobe, the Web development market has exploded in two different directions, neither of which require a tool like Dreamweaver. On the low end, people use blogging software and content management systems; and on the high end, Web developers are working with complex logic in non-traditional Web languages to create dynamic sites. Though Dreamweaver can be made to work with either approach on a limited basis, there are other, cheaper, more task-appropriate tools on the market, leaving Dreamweaver as a relic of the static site era. With a market challenge of this proportion, Dreamweaver CS3 had to be an impressive new release with innovative, must-have features. For the most part, it has not met that requirement.

OpenBSD 4.2 review

As usual, OpenBSD 4.2 offers a large collection of intelligent changes to an already great operating environment.

Using OpenBSD 4.2

If you’re a software enthusiast who has never used OpenBSD before, you might enjoy installing it by yourself and figuring it out as you go. If, however, you’re looking for a more practical approach to using OpenBSD 4.2 on a desktop or server machine, here’s a quick guide to get you started in this spectacular operating system.

Mandriva Linux PowerPack 2008.0 review

Mandriva Linux has a history of inconsistency; one release will be superb, and the next one will be so bug-ridden and feature-weak that it’s unusable. The only commonality among all releases are the excellent system configuration tools, which have continued to evolve over the years to match an increasing level of complexity in the desktop software stack. True to form, Mandriva 2008.0 is an excellent release, following the terrible 2007.1, and the just as excellent 2007.0. Some of the important things that were dropped from the previous release (Cedega, LinDVD) are back, and some of the problems (huge K menu button, cluttered menus) have been mitigated.

Adobe Illustrator CS3 review

Among vector drawing programs, Illustrator has traditionally had a dominant market position, in no small part because of its Adobe brand name. Unfortunately for Adobe, vector drawing programs are easy to create, and the market now offers several Illustrator competitors on a variety of different platforms. In an effort to focus sales on Illustrator, Adobe killed off its recently acquired (and popular) FreeHand product, but to FreeHand fanatics, Illustrator is no replacement. Being under attack from all sides from free and inexpensive alternatives and FreeHand non-defectors, Illustrator CS3 really needed to be an amazing new release with important features and outstanding FreeHand-replacement functionality. It still is no replacement for FreeHand for Web graphics, but unlike the majority of its Creative Suite 3 counterparts, Illustrator has succeeded in adding important new features and making itself a must-have upgrade for graphic designers.

Hacking openSUSE 10.3

Novell’s openSUSE 10.3 is an exciting desktop operating environment that includes or supports nearly every program you need for work and play. But there are those last few programs and issues that make openSUSE just short of perfect. Web browser plugins for some kinds of online content; Windows Media and DVD movie playback support; and drivers for Atheros wireless devices and Nvidia and ATI video cards are the chief things holding openSUSE back for some users. This guide will help you remove as many of those barriers as possible.

Adobe Fireworks CS3 review

The good news about Fireworks CS3 is, it’s still the best tool for designing Web graphics and for rapid site prototyping. But like nearly every other Adobe product in the Creative Suite 3 series, it just doesn’t offer enough new features to justify the high cost of upgrading.

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