May 312012
 

Comment below to win a copy of Aimersoft DVD Creator for Windows worth $39.95!

Aimersoft is an easy to use tool that makes the DVD burning process a simple one. The user can burn DVDs from downloaded or home movies or simply from photos – to create slideshows – or even a combination of photos and videos.

Aimersoft DVD Creator

The first step, the Source tab, is to import the media. Here as many videos or images that are needed can be imported. Aimersoft DVD Creator supports the AVI, MOV, MP4, M4V, FLV, VOB, WMV, MPEG, DV, 3GP, 3GP2, DAT, ASF, MOD, TOD and H.264/AVC formats. Use the Add Title button to burn separate movies onto a single DVD. Once the media is visible, hover over its title (in the menu structure section of the interface) and use the pencil button to trim it, enable subtitles for it, add watermarks to it, change its brightness, reduce its volume and more. All the while a preview of changes will be visible.

The Menu tab features templates to use for creating the DVD menu, besides the few available by default other templates can be downloaded from the Aimersoft site using the Templates button on the upper right hand corner. This tab also includes options such as choosing either the 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratios, moving and editing text and other objects, adding text, adding background music, touching up photos and customizing the background itself. The background customization button opens a dialogue window that allows the user to choose a frame of any video or any image to display as the menu background.

The Preview tab shows the final output before the actual DVD burning process is started. The available options are NTSC or PAL and disc playback mode. The latter allows the user to choose how the DVD starts by default. The final product does have a good professional look to it, especially since the menu is not static and, similar to many feature film DVDs, shows a few seconds of the movie itself.

Aimersoft DVD Creator works on Windows versions going back to NT4, a Mac version is also available.

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May 272012
 

Soon after I wrote about MP3 Toolkit  I was contacted by the people behind it,  they pointed me to an online service they run and wondered if I would write about it.

It is the Switch Banner Maker and it is a free service that creates rotating or switching banners and generates the code to insert in web pages. It is a simple service that outputs nice and professional looking banners or images (see sample made below.)



    The user inputs up to 10 images, these must be hosted by the user. Each image can then be hyperlinked individually. The width and height is also required. For best results these values should be consistent across all images. The user has the option to choose the color for the number button and to position it on the lower right or lower left of the generated banner. Delay between images can be set and the image number's visibility can be toggled off as well.

    The output code featuring a hosted javascript is then inserted into any page.

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    May 252012
     

    nomacs image lounge (all lowercase? ) (Version: 0.3.2.5828 beta tested) is an open source image viewer for Windows, Linux, and Mac machines. It supports the most common image formats from jpg to gif (no animations however) and xmp to pgm and others including the raw format. It is capable of  reading and displaying exif metadata. It offers faster than most thumbnail view of images in a folder and a player to view a folder ala a slideshow.

    nomacs

    The program can also be viewed in full screen or various levels of transparency and in frameless mode where the image only is shown, floating over the background. The toggle between frameless and normal view is not exactly obvious but a quick search revealed it to be F10.

    On the image editing side there is crop, resize and a ‘pseudo color function’ where one can play with hue, saturation and RGB color values using a slider.

    nomacs also features a synchronization feature that will work on computers on the same network or LAN.

    nomacs does indeed seem faster than most. It can be found in various Linux repositories and there is a Mac port as well. Its Windows version runs on Windows 2000, XP, Vista and 7 and is available in both portable and installer versions.

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    May 182012
     

    Aml Pages is described as a tree-structured notes manager. It supports plain and rich text as well as webpages, images and attachments. As a fan of such software, whether freeware or shareware as in the case of Aml Pages, here on RGdot I have reviewed and written about many notes managers or organizers.

    Aml Pages

    To start with Aml Pages begins by creating what it calls a document or perhaps re-using the sample that comes with Aml Pages. I believe the interface, especially when looking at the sample or demo is rather busy but if notes structure are convenient for the user this becomes easy to manage soon. Aml Pages probably meets many requirements if one is comfortable with a two pane tree system for keeping notes.

    Aml Pages can create nodes with different colors, fonts and icons to make each stand out if necessary. Each node can be tagged which often eases future retrieval. One interesting extra is the ability to not only sort (right click anywhere on the tree and choose sort) the notes tree by date, category, type, size, title and others but also filter (may need to expand the tree area to see the filter drowdown (see image above)) them to show those created/modified in the last 6 hours, today, yesterday, last week or those largest, smallest or created within the current Windows session.

    Styles and formats can be used and created (Format—>Styles) to give text different colors and fonts. Existing styles can be applied by using the drop down on the far top right of the text area. There is also Format—>Text Templates that can save highlighted text for future re-use. Aml Pages also supports syntax highlighting for the usual like C++, Visual Basic, Java, HTML and other languages. Some of the additional efficiency features include inserting dates (F5 or Insert—>Date and Time) and capturing screenshots (Insert—>Screenshot).

    Aml Pages opens with two processes, the second is the Aml Assist whose icon sits semi-transparent on the corner of the desktop. It’s main use is to be the drop for text and other media dragged from browsers or other programs such as Microsoft Word. Right clicking the Aml Assist icon provides settings for its use and a configurable hotkey for automatic text grabbing.

    The bookmarks feature adds more usefulness. Any part of a document can be bookmarked via a right click. The same right click gives additional ways to find, view, manage and a count of the bookmarks. For even easier later retrieval Aml Pages has tabs on the left hand side of interface to show all bookmarks in one view. The same area offers the different views available.

    Aml Pages

    There is also sticky notes support, most easily created via right clicking the Aml Assist icon. These will ofcourse stay on the desktop even if the program itself is minimized.

    The program’s search has a good number of options as well. The search can be restricted to selected nodes or folders, categories or tags, or creation or modification dates.

    Aml Pages has autosave options (Tool—>Settings—>Autosave) and keeps backups which are then visible in Backup Explorer (Tools—>Backup Explorer). From the same Tools menu one can setup encryption for opening the program or password for opening documents.

    On the program’s site there are many videos and a tips and tricks page highlighting more of Aml Pages can do. On that note I found two potentially useful features. File—>New has two extra options, one is creating a blank document with nodes named from A-Z (or other first and last letters) with optional prefixes or suffixes. The other is creating a diary sort of document with any start and end date as node titles. There are also plugin which include everything from Auto Completion to Spellchecker to Aml2Dropbox (for synchronization of documents) and to Aml Export to save a document in XML format.

    Aml Pages should work on Windows versions going back Windows 98 and it currently costs $19.50.

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    May 142012
     

    MP3 Toolkit is a freeware utility with a useful number of tools for working with MP3s and audio files in general.

    MP3 Toolkit

    The welcome screen is a shortcut to all the tools. These are MP3 Converter, CD to MP3 Ripper, MP3 Tag Editor, MP3 Merger, MP3 Editor, MP3 Cutter and MP3 Recorder.

    The first, MP3 Converter, prompts the user to add individual or a folder of audio or music files and then the options to convert them to or from MP3s. Relevant settings for the conversion process are Bitrate (Kbps), Rate (Hz) and the option to output in either mono or stereo. It addition to WAV, FLAC, MP3 and OGG there is also FLAC, AAC, AC3 and AMR support.

    CD to MP3 Ripper simply prompts the user to insert a CD which is to be ripped and converted to MP3s.

    MP3 Tag Editor is more feature rich. Load MP3(s) to edit, add or remove tags. It is possible to clean file names for some naming consistency and to generate file names based on song, album, directory and other information. There is also support for ID3, v1.1 and v2.x.

    MP3 Merger can combine files into one and supports WAV, FLAC, MP3 and OGG files.

    MP3 Cutter is intended for creating ringtones. Load an audio file, press play, use the marked buttons to choose the start and end points. Finally click save to save the chosen section as MP3, WMA, AVI or AMR.

    MP3 Toolkit

    MP3 Recorder lets the user set a Sample Rate (32000, 44100 or 48000) and  Bitrate and then start recording. This works for voice recording and depending on the PC sound card for capturing system sounds as well.

    In addition to the audio formats listed above MP3 Toolkit can capture audio from other file formats such as FLV, MP4, M4V, M4P, MOV, M4A, MPG, RM, SWF and WMV. MP3 Toolkit should work on Windows 2000 and above.

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    May 092012
     

    Wondershare Software are giving away the DVD Slideshow Builder Standard to commemorate Mother’s Day.

    Wondershare Software's Mother's Day DVD Slideshow Builder Giveaway

    DVD Slideshow Builder Standard is an easy to use tool to burn not just DVDs but also to burn movies to keep on a hard drive in mp4, avi, wmv, 3gp, mov, mpeg, swf, flv and other formats, to create HD videos, for various Apple and mobile devices or of course to share on youtube.

    DVD Slideshow Builder is divided into three sections. These are Organize, Personalize and Create.

    The organize section imports photos or movies from a device and also offers to work with blank clip. Depending on the imported element there are various editing options like crop, brightness, filters (inverse, emboss, blur, etc.) and repair red eye. Plus there are options to add caption or text with various effects such as fade, wipe end, cut in, scroll and more.

    The personalize section is perhaps the most diverse part of DVD Slideshow Builder as it features a lot for one section.

    Styles can be added that fit various occasions such photo wall, rotating photos, action effects and lots more. Clip arts can be added or overlayed on the slideshow or film. Effects such firecrackers, hearts, stars and snow can be added as well. Subtitles (manually added text) and music is available in this section too. Some of these editing options are reserved for the Deluxe version however, this is documented at http://www.wondershare.com/pro/dvd-slideshow-builder-standard.html

    The Create section includes the final touches which includes DVD menu creation and editing with a lot of options for menu music, background, frame, the control buttons (play, back, forward, etc.). The output format and destination is also chosen here.

    Email is required to grab a code and you must do so before 12:00AM EST on May 14th. DVD Slideshow Builder requires XP and above.

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    May 072012
     

    PearlMountain Technology have provided a giveaway in time for mother’s day. Comment below to win a copy of PearlMountain Image Converter, worth $29.90!

    PearlMountain Image Converter is an all in one solution for working with images. It does more than just batch image conversions.

    PearlMountain Image Converter

    The workflow is similar to other PearlMountain software. Images are added individually, several from a folder or via URL. The left hand side of the interface lists the program features. The first is the conversion itself, formats supported here are jpg, gif, bmp, pdf, tga, tiff, psd, pcx,  ico and many more listed on http://www.batchimageconverter.com/image-formats/index.html. It is possible to preserve exif or iptc metadata when processing conversions.

    The second set of features is the resize option. Here the usual by size, by percentage, custom and dpi resolution is possible. There are also presets for best fits on devices like iPhone, Sony PSP and others. Additionally there is a resample setting and the option to switch width and height to match image orientations.

    Image or text watermark is next with all the flexibility of positioning the watermark. These include alignment, rotation, opacity, offset, shadow, edge, font and more.

    The rename option is equally flexible with many options for the renaming. These include having file date, exif and other file info in the output file name.

    Corrections has the brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpen/blur sliders.

    Border can add borders along the images with varying thickness and in advanced mode the border can be applied to any of top, right, bottom and left sides of the image leaving the other sides borderless.

    Crop features more advanced options. Automatic crop cuts the images in preset sizes and manual mode cuts images by percentage.

    The final step is to optionally change the output folder and then click the large Start button. A profile can be saved to re-use the same chosen options later. PearlMountain Image Converter works on Windows 2000 and newer and offers to add itself to the context menu as well. One minor oddity is that it required a reboot after install on a XP machine but it also used the browser to open a thank you page at the same time.

     

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