Oct 312012
 

BabelPad (Version: 6.2.0.3) is a text editor or word processor that comes with a lot features, especially if Unicode, fonts or foreign languages are concerned. BabelPad supports rendering to make different language display properly, in particular it uses Microsoft’s Uniscribe services. It is made to ease rendering of different fonts, simplified and traditional Chinese for example. It supports CR and LF new line formats, left to right and right to left layouts, encoding like UTF-8, UTF-16, UTF-32, ISO-8859-8 (Hebrew), ISO-8859-6 (Arabic), Windows CP 1258 (Vietnamese), EUC-JA (Japanese), TSCII (Tamil) and many more and saves files in some and auto-detects them in many cases too.

BabelPad

Other features are drag and drop files, multiple undo/redo and an option to auto-indent text as you type, open large files and not only do a normal find and replace but batch replace whole series of words (Edit —> Batch Replace). Text conversion is another part of its strength in Unicode. It can convert case for multiple encodings and languages, between simplified and traditional Chinese, HTML entities to Unicode characters and lots more like it.

Other tools included are font coverage, analysis and information to provide info about an open document or any section of one. An advanced character frequency and character map with 1000s of character and symbols. An Advanced Character Search tool (Tools —> Advanced Character Search) where it can scan an open document for every kind of character combination one can come up with (see image.)

BabelPad

BabelPad is less than a 3MB download and the few words above are just scratching the surface of the number of options available. It can run on Windows 2000 and newer and is made available in a portable version by portableapps.com

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Oct 292012
 

Desktop iCalendar Lite (Version: 1.9.6.1) is a small calendar and to do program that sits on the desktop. Its lite version features to do and event lists besides its configurable calendar. It supports multiple calendars so one can have public holidays, personal calendar (including iCalendar support) and public google calendar displayed together.

Desktop iCalendar Lite

Using the plus buttons – visible when hovering over their respective windows or sections –  one can add events and to do items. Events can have summary, description, date range, category (icon), alarm and recurrence. To do items can have summary, description, start and due dates, category and reminder. Calendar days with events are shown in a different color. Hovering over a day with an event offers a tool tip style summary of the event and clicking on a day with one shows the text associated with the event inside the events docked window.

Several themes are available. Font, color, background and transparency of each can be configured to make it more individual. The to do and events windows can be turned off in the program’s settings.

Desktop iCalendar Lite should run on Windows XP and newer. Note that while testing it I noticed that it was trying to sync – the tray icon would change – when there shouldn’t be anything to sync with. Using the tray icon menu —> Calendars I turned off all calendars except the local one created for testing but it seemed to try to want to sync.

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Oct 272012
 

Video Studio Express is one of the many easy to use software from Aimersoft. I received the news that the developers are having a Halloween giveaway of the program – which normally costs $35 – along with discounts on some of their other programs. A brief review of the Video Studio Express follows.

Aimersoft Video Studio Express

As always working with such tools begins with importing the media, using the Add Media button. Video Studio Express supports most input formats including those from iDevices and others like AVI, MOV, MP4, MPG, MKV, FLV, WMV and audio formats like MP3, OGG, WMA, FLAC and others.

When importing one or more videos drag them to the time line and you will notice they can occupy any place in the time line so a video can start from any moment in time with its (if any) audio linked to it. If there is no audio the background music section, lower most on the time line, can be edited to add your own.

When more videos are added transitions can be added by using the Transitions button. Many are available to make the completed video look more professional. These include blind, merge, column split, drop, roll, wave, wind and others. A preview is shown when any one of the transitions is clicked. Optionally gaps between video can be removed using the Remove All Gaps button which is the right most one above the timeline. There is a split option as well. It is done by dragging the ‘indicator’ anchor to a point on the time line and clicking the Split button.

Click and highlight either the video or audio and click the pencil like edit button. Audio can be lowered and faded in or out. The video can be rotated, resized and its aspect ratio changed. Its brightness, saturation and contrast can edited. Additional available effects are emboss, gray, negative, old film and various deinterlacing methods.

When done click the Export button on the top right and choose device, format or Youtube. Videos can be saved for iPhones, iPads, PS3 and others or in one of many formats like mov, wmv, mp4 and even DVD PAL, SECAM and NTSC. It is also possible to upload videos directly to Youtube by providing login, title, description, tag and category details. Videos can be saved locally as a project as well.

Video Studio Express should work on Windows XP and newer. A Mac version is available too.

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Oct 242012
 

If looking for an app to create, print and share greeting cards the free Greeting Box for Mac is a capable option. It has an easy to use interface with instant previews and templates that offer a good amount of personalization.

Greeting Box for Mac

A number of templates are available for different occasions and holidays. Photos can be inserted on the cards and can be dragged and dropped, rotated, positioned and edited with clipart, text, frames, masks and other effects.

It is possible to just save the greeting cards as images, shared or printed ready for folding and save settings as projects for re-use later too.

Check the tutorial pages for step by step details. Samples are also available there to give a better idea what Greeting Box for Mac is capable of.

Greeting Box for Mac requires Mac OS X 10.7 and is available at the App Store.

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Oct 192012
 

Video Rotator is a simple and easy program that does what it says but also does another, as if almost by accident! The other function, other than the rotate in its name is that it converts videos.

Video Rotator

Video Rotator’s main aim and feature is that it rotates vidoes. This is perhaps mostly or only useful when working with mobile devices and the (sometimes) habit of holding mobile devices in a wrong orientation.

Video Rotator supports 15 videos formats as input and can convert them into any one of mp4, mpg, avi, mov or flv. Open or drag one or more vidoes into the interface and choose the output format, rotation – 90 degree clockwise, 90 degree anticlockwise, horizontal mirror, flip upside down or none – and optionally change the default output folder and click on the Rotate Videos Now Button. Video Rotator goes to work and opens the output folder and also provides a sound reminder when the task is done.

The program’s sole setting is turning off the aforementioned sound reminder.

Simple, easy and clean Video Rotator requires Windows XP and newer.

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Oct 172012
 

ToolWiz Pretty Photo (Version: 1.5) is a freeware image editor with lots of features that place it very high when compared to other free, shareware and expensive editors.

ToolWiz Pretty Photo

ToolWiz Pretty Photo supports the more common picture formats and can also do screen captures. Screen captures, available from the File menu, are rectangular ones created with click and drag of the mouse. When an area is chosen a mini toolbar offers to save the capture, open or return to ToolWiz Pretty Photo’s window or add any of a collection of shapes, lines or text immediately.

ToolWiz Pretty Photo can merge layers, when objects are added to an image for example. It can rotate, crop and move layers to the back or front.

The Add Objects menu has a large collection of symbols in addition to lines and shapes such as rectangle and ellipse and others like cloud popups.

The Adjust Picture menu features the common resize, hue/saturation, color balance, curves, levels, brightness/contrast and invert. Additionally Add Frame adds a (configurable thickness) border that can be filled with a solid color or another image. A shadow can be added in a similar manner and the Picture Selection option allows the user to select and crop any part of an image. The cropped section can be a rectangle, ellipse, round rectangle or lasso (free form.)

ToolWiz Pretty Photo

The Beautify menu is the fun part of ToolWiz Pretty Photo. Available options include Add Wig, Blush, Eyebrows, Necklace, Glasses, Mask, Hat, Pupils and more. Various other effects are also available and include adding Mosaic Paint to an image. Color Paint is another which turns an image into grayscale and then allows the user to color section(s) of the image. Soft Focus Paint (shown in the image above) is another useful feature to blur out an image and then only reveal a part of it.

Image Filter includes 39 “art filters” such as Gothem, Kelvin, Nashville, Toaster, Lomo, Polaroid, Sunshine Beach, Old Photo, Early Bird, Brannan, White and Black, Closer Black and White, Emboss, Happy Tone, Color Emboss, Diabolical and others. Emboss, AntiAlias, Add Noise, Pencil, Split Blur, Motion Blur and Fill Light are here as well.

ToolWiz Pretty Photo requires Windows XP or newer, it is available in a portable version as well.

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Oct 072012
 

ClipMon (Version: 1.0.1.1) is a freeware clipboard monitoring tool with an aim to improve on the drawbacks of the Windows’ single clipboard feature.

ClipMon

The first and obvious feature is that ClipMon can remember and store more than one clipboard item. The second is that it keeps and categorizes them into text, images and files. It comes with history browser, a separate process (HV.exe) on its own, where clipboard items can be viewed and also edited. ClipMon also features a floating and resizable sticky note look-a-like window where the latest clipboard item is displayed.

Text items can be edited inside the program and using available scripts text items can be opened in Notepad or Wordpad (with a double click), converted to numbered or bullet lists and encrypted/decrypted. The latter option didn’t work using the portable version of the program. Image files can be previewed and re-copied. Double clicking images shows them in the internal viewer. The viewer has a selection tool (drag the mouse to draw a rectangular selection) to be used to crop images. External programs to open images with can be added as well.

Use the Send This Clip To to email or save an item outside of ClipMon’s history. Configure a recipient and then email items to him or her or send and save a copy of an item to a directory outside of ClipMon’s. The send to feature is rather non intuitive as ClipMon seems capable of sending any item in its history but it is not immediately obvious how to send the non current clipboard.

The program’s options (accessible from the history browser window) include assigning hotkeys for opening the history browser window or the right click menu and defining the maximum number of text, image and file items ClipMon remembers.

ClipMon works on XP and newer and is available in both installer and portable versions.

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Oct 022012
 

TagBook (Version: 0.1 beta 2) is a young beta software with a simple yet useful feature. It bills itself as a “cross-platform desktop bookmarking utility” but with a reminder that it can store any text information. Whether the text storage potential works for the average user will depend on the user of course but also on the progress TagBook makes.

TagBook

Download the jar file and run it. Click on the Database menu to create a new database. Add a new item using the Bookmark menu. The Edit window that comes up requires a Name, Description, Address, Notes and Tag(s). Tags can be added on the fly and applied using the same window or use F3 (View—>Tag Manager) to add tags separately.

Bookmarks can also be added by dragging and dropping text into the Edit window or by pasting the contents of the clipboard using Ctrl+V and Ctrl+Shift+V or Bookmark—>Paste. Search and Filter as you type using Ctrl+F and Ctrl+Shift+F.

TagBook can be locked into a read only mode by clicking the lock button to the far top right. It can export whole or selected items to csv, xml and html formats and attempt to import them from the same file formats too.

Using the filter sometimes causes errors with a disappearing database, this requires reloading or reopening a database, not unexpected for an early beta.

TagBook has potential and worth keeping an eye on. It requires java and is cross platform.

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