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MacEdition Pro News : December 12, 2002, Part 1: A little this, a little that and a little lust

by MacEdition Staff (feedback)

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Words to go

All you writers our there can now bring your written masterpieces to the spoken word thanks to the release of AudioBookMaker from Alexander Wilson Studios.

AudioBookMaker leverages Jaguar’s text-to-speech technology to convert any text-based document into an MP3 file. The file then can be played through iTunes, incorporated in a multimedia project or downloaded to an iPod to make the manuscripts more mobile.

AudioBookMaker 1.0 requires Macintosh OS X 10.2 Jaguar (with 10.2.2 recommended). Users may choose from the operating system’s 22 voices, and may initialize the conversion by either dragging and dropping text files or by cutting and pasting text itself. Users may also type out text directly into the program.

The registration fee for the shareware program is a low US$1.35 (which breaks down to a buck for the developer and 35 cents for a non-profit organization known as Amazon.com).

More iMovie magic

Stupendous Software announced two more plug-in packs for Apple’s iMovie, bringing the company’s arsenal of transitions and special effects to 186 for everybody’s favorite little video editor.

Scratch & Dirt (23 effects, 4 free)
This iMovie plug-in package includes effects for making video clips look like film by adding film artifacts and damage. These artifacts include grain, various styles of scratches, dirt and dust, as well as flickering frames, uneven exposure, and drifting focus. Even blip frames (white flashes between shots) can be added.

SplitScreen & PiP (22 effects, 4 free)
This iMovie plug-in package includes effects for combining multiple clips into split-screen and picture-in-picture configurations. Two or four clips can be combined into a split screen in one pass, with control over the split directions, proportions, and edge softness.

Picture-in-picture images can be created using one or more passes, and the smaller image can be placed anywhere in the frame, presented in the original shape or as a circle, and have hard or soft edges.

Each plug-in pack costs US$25 and is available online from the Stupendous Web store.

Kickin’ it into high gear

With USB 2.0 drives and scanners now coming to market, it’s not surprising that somebody at Keyspan Technologies would sit up and take notice. Keyspan just released a new four-port USB 2.0 hub to allow owners of newer high-speed devices to connect to their hardware at full bore (once the mothership drops USB 2.0 goodness into the OS).

“The range of USB 2.0 devices is rapidly growing,” noted Mike Ridenhour, president of Keyspan. “With so many USB 2.0 hard drives, scanners, CD/RWs and other peripherals on the market, more users need to add USB 2.0 ports. Our hub provides a simple way to expand USB 2.0 connectivity on their PC.”

In addition to the new USB 2.0 Hubs, Keyspan offers a family of PCI and CardBus cards that allow users to upgrade their PC or Mac to USB 2.0. Keyspan also offers a PCI card that provides both USB 2.0 and FireWire (1394) ports.

The hub comes in either silver or black and retails for US$59 and should be on the shelf of a retailer near you.

Hit the switch

Proteron LLC released a new version of LiteSwitch X, a keyboard application switching utility, that is compatible with Jaguar and sports a significant numbers of upgrades over the previous version.

Version 1.5 offers numerous new features, bug fixes and performance enhancements. Features include added options in the preference pane, scroll-wheel and key-repeat support, custom color and transparency settings, and support for international Unicode. The update is recommended for all current LiteSwitch X users.

LiteSwitch sells for US$14.95 and is available from the company’s product page. The program is free to all of Proteron’s clients who purchased MaxMenus, and the two programs can be bought together for US$29.95.

Jot this down

Mac users around the world have all found the Mac OS Note Pad to be a handy little application to quickly jot down a few notes. But, as is always the case, a simple little program can be lacking a few features. In that vein, MacChampion has put together Alepin 2.11.

Here are some of the features:

  • A simple and clean interface
  • Simple navigation of multiple pages
  • Categories Drawer, allowing you to name and organize pages into folder-like Categories
  • Live URLs
  • Shortcuts to enter date, time or both
  • Auto-open specific files on launch
  • Auto-save of documents
  • Auto-backup of files
  • Quick Find through all pages
  • Supports all Cocoa features (services, spell-checking, etc)
  • Floating window feature for note taking
  • Internet version checking
  • Copy and paste of graphics with Carbon applications (which TextEdit cannot do)
  • Import from Note Pad, Stickies X and folders of text/rtf/rtfd files
  • File format offering great file recovery in case of file corruption
  • Registers as a System Service
  • Keeps track of creation and modification dates for pages
  • Information bar to edit name and view creation and modification dates.
  • Can auto-create a new page after pasting or dropping

Alepin 2.11 is shareware and costs US$10 and can be downloaded from the company’s Web site.

Quick comments

24U Software has added a a nifty utility to Metrowerks Codewarrior which allows programmers to quickly drop comments into their code.

24U Commenter allows you to comment out or uncomment the current selections much faster. It adds “Un/Comment Selection" as a new menu item to the Edit Menu. You can also assign a shortcut to this command, or add a button to the edit window’s button bar. To comment out or uncomment a block of text, you can simply highlight the text and click on the 24U Commenter’s button or use the assigned shortcut.

24U Commentor 1.0 carries a US$10 user license and can be download from the company’s product page. Information on license packs for various 24U products can be found on the company’s site.

Goin’ pro

Trinfinity Software has released a professional version of Seagull Video Player. The pro version of the multimedia development program adds support for a wider variety of output targets.

Seagull Video Player Professional Edition gives video professionals all of the features of the Standard Edition, including multiple playlists and powerful sorting capabilities, plus they can output to QuickTime Video Output Components such as digital video cameras, monitors, etc.

Seagull Video Player Pro carries an US$89.95 price tag and is available for both Windows and Macintosh. It can be downloaded from Trinfinity’s product page or purchased from the company’s Web store.

Built to serve

Adobe Systems recently released two server packages that will cause a blip on everybody’s radar.

First up is Adobe Graphics Server 2.0, which focuses on making it easier for busy shops to convert print-oriented documents and graphics to the Web. The new server package adds support for EPS and PDF formats and will allow SVG graphics to be converted to PDF. The package has also been retuned for Photoshop 7, will support clipping paths and CMYK image manipulation.

Adobe Graphics Server is designed to be used in both Web and cross-media workflows, while meeting the requirements of content management, asset management and prepress systems. The software has attracted industry support from leading integrators and partners, including Artesia, Burntsand, Context Media, Documentum, MediaBin, NetXposure, North Plains and WebWare. With support for open standards and APIs, Adobe Graphics Server runs on major application servers from BEA, IBM, iPlanet, and Oracle.

The other server package – Adobe Document Server – leverages Adobe’s PDF technology and builds a workflow management system for forms, standard documents an other fixed stationary documents which are the foundation of a corporation’s business correspondence. The package connects with existing ERP, CRM and CMS systems and links industry-standard databases and has hooks for XML.

Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions offers businesses and government agencies the ability to assign usage rights to Adobe PDF documents and forms. Once these rights have been assigned, users of the free Adobe Acrobat Reader version 5.1 software will be able to save, fill and route PDF forms, add electronic sticky notes for comments or questions, and digitally sign completed forms. These features were previously available only with the full Adobe Acrobat 5.0 software. Companies and government agencies can then easily integrate completed Adobe PDF forms and data in XML with back-end systems for round-trip transactional workflows.

But Mac-centric shops licking their chops for a new Xserve will be in for a shock. Both packages are designed to run on NT 4 server and Solaris 8/9.

Looking for old ProNews segments? Check out our index at http://old.macedition.com/news/. Do you have news releases or tidbits of interest to the Macintosh professional? Send them to pronewsnotes@macedition.com.

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