Thursday, December 30, 2010

PhotoPad: Proving that Change Can be Good

PhotoPad Image and Photo Editor has a new look. It now uses tabs to sort the categories of features, effects, and filters to make more efficient use of the toolbar. Each time you click a new tab, the toolbar displays the options associated with that tab:

PhotoPad Photo Editing Software new tabbed ribbon toolbar

Remember when we first started seeing tabs in our Internet browser windows? At first we had to get over the impulse to keep numerous windows open and play the memory game with the task bar, but we recognized the convenience they provided us. Now we’re getting used to tabs atop some programs, such as Word and Excel, which Microsoft calls a ribbon. The initial change was stilting to those of us who had become experts at navigating the labyrinth of menus and options, but we’re starting to get used to this change too.

My point is, even though we resist it, without change we wouldn’t grow and develop.

When developing software, the rule of thumb is to stick with what people are comfortable with, or what they are used to seeing. That way, people won’t spend too much time looking around the interface before they can actually start using their new program. Another rule of thumb is to do what is best for your users. Sometimes these rules clash, and decisions have to be made. That’s what happened with PhotoPad.

PhotoPad is a product with lots of features, options, and cool buttons. Imagine all the possible photo manipulations there are, and then imagine designing a program that will organize all those features into the most user-friendly way possible. Then imagine that you are going to add features to the program over time, and need to plan for where those features might go. Enter tabs. They allow us to display many more options along the toolbar than one static toolbar would.

I know a lot of you are dubious. If you never got used to the Microsoft ribbon, and you really miss the menus. But believe me, everything that was in the menu is now on this tab, and the tabs require much less fine motor control over the mouse than using menus would. I happen to be a great fan of the new look.

Let us know what you think about the tabs, and look for them in more NCH Software products in the future. Let’s embrace change!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Streaming Audio Recorder Saves Time for Radio Producers

Izi Mann has been a radio personality and producer for decades, including work on the NPR show Voice of Israel, he now also produces Internet radio shows.

SoundTap Streaming Audio Recording SoftwareUsing a variety of audio files from different websites is key for an Internet radio show to offer a digest of varied, newsworthy content. When Mann found SoundTap streaming audio recorder, it saved him so much time he was able to do more shows than before while offering much better content.

Mann estimates that he spends at least 30% less time recording audio files with SoundTap than with other comparable programs he has tried. "I use SoundTap to 'catch' audio files from different websites. The software does this so cleanly and smoothly, and without the numerous time consuming requirements that appear in some other programs I have tried. Just one click!"

The challenge Izi Mann faced before finding NCH Software's SoundTap was that many software applications were time consuming and demanding. He was searching for an efficient audio recorder but many of the other programs he tried did not actually work, or asked so many questions before recording the audio he found them impractical for what he wanted to do. "When you have a show to produce, it is important that it’s done perfectly, but also immediately,” Mann said. “Actually, who does have time to waste?"

When his search was coming up dry, he suddenly remembered a colleague from the BBC had introduced him to NCH Software’s Switch Audio Converter software, and how smoothly it converted CD music files to wav files. So he went to NCH looking for an equally capable solution for his audio recording problems. He found that solution in SoundTap Streaming Audio Recorder.

SoundTap saves Internet radio producers like Izi Mann time, creating high quality audio files at the click of a button, and this is just one example of the many uses for this versatile streaming audio recorder. Download SoundTap to capture any audio playing through your computer and convert that audio to mp3 or wav files. You may well find that like Izi Mann, after you have used SoundTap, you'll be willing to recommend it to anyone.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solving A Musician's Tuning Stress

string instrument tuning software for musiciansAs a musician for 16+ years, I encountered many challenges while learning to play the violin. One of the most frustrating and embarrassing aspects of learning an instrument was learning how to tune it. As a child, I was given a few tools to experiment with but none compare to PitchPerfect Tuning Software.

I started out with a pitch pipe, which was really more like a quiet whistling toy than an aid for tuning my instrument. It was especially difficult to use, because one must simultaneously blow into the pipe, play a soft smooth note and adjust the violin pegs to tighten or loosen the strings accordingly - all at the same time. This tuning approach was incredibly time consuming and somewhat inaccurate. I would typically give up after struggling with this method for about 5 minutes and proceed to play my violin in tune or not; much to the dismay of the audience who suffered through concerts.

My next tool was an electronic tuner, which was a pretty nifty device. You fed it a couple of AA's, bowed across the strings softly and it showed little indicator lights telling you when you were too sharp or flat. It was a nice enough contraption, but I'm sure you can see where the problems began when the batteries would wither. The machine would gradually begin to point you in the wrong direction and your strings would no longer match up with the person in the chair next to you. Eventually the poor gadget would cease to work altogether and it would OF COURSE happen to be on the day of a big competition or a show and you would flit about minutes before stage time, begging everyone nearby for their tuning device (heaven forbid they still used a pitch pipe; sharing spit with strangers is never pleasant) and frantically tune yourself before going on stage.

As you can tell, it was very stressful growing up in the age before laptop computers and smart phones, but now it's as simple as a quick (and free!) download to my iPhone and laptop and I have an easy and accurate way to get my violin in tune wherever I may go. The PitchPerfect Instrument Tuner has a clean interface and easy-to-read note identification that comes in handy not only for tuning, but perfecting and identifying individual notes.

If you like PitchPerfect, you should try out TempoPerfect metronome software and our other software for musicians, so you never miss a beat.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Image Editing Turned Scrapbooking Resource

Image editing and photo scrappbooking softwareAlong with a brand new user interface, the latest release of PhotoPad Image editing software brings with it many new tools, my favorite of which is the collage tool. Collage does exactly what you’d expect, making a digital college out of your images, but does it better than you might anticipate supporting an unlimited amount of images, orientation and background color options, random skew and (the best part) export options for web, HD and print. Better still, once you’ve set up your collage, PhotoPad separates each image into its own layer so you can optimize and edit individual photos while still keeping your layout. When you're satisfied with your creation, save it for the web or print it for your photo album. It's easy to get carried away with the ease and benefits of the collage tool, and if you’re into digital scrapbooking, this could be an absolute life saver. Best off all PhotoPad is free, so download PhotoPad today and try it for yourself. We would love to know what your favorite feature is. And if you like PhotoPad, you might also want to take a look at other graphics software.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Put a DJ in da House (Next to the Christmas Tree)

Give DJ Software to the music lover on your holiday shopping listDo you know someone with tons of music, opinions on how it should be listened to, and with a desire to share their music with others? It might be time to give them the opportunity to become a disc jockey.

At first thought, it sounds expensive. Think of all the records, the turntables, the earth-moving speakers, the disco ball—then calm down. You don't need any of these to get started! All that you need is Zulu DJ software, and your existing music collection. Designed for beginners and professionals alike, Zulu gives any DJ-in-training the tools to start out with a basic setup and will grow with them as they begin to buy and use all that hefty equipment later on.

Beginners can practice transitioning between songs loaded on virtual decks, and with automatic beat detection, cross-fading, live effects, and synchronization between tracks, Zulu will make any DJ newbie sound like they know what they are doing. Soon, they'll be cueing up the next track and applying effects on the fly for a completely customized music experience.

Zulu also works great as an auto-DJ for those who want control over the music without the maintenance. Simply pre-load a playlist into the program, and Zulu will keep the music coming all night long, with seamless transitions between each track so you'll never hear a pause in the music at your holiday parties or upcoming New Year celebrations.

So if you're struggling with those last-minute gifts, consider Zulu for the music lover on your list. Then throw a party and put them in charge of the tunes!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Give A Gift of Memories

If you are looking for a really special gift idea, why not give new life to your home movies? Whether they are on VHS cassettes or just taking up disk space, you can easily edit them together and create a memorable home movie DVD for a truly priceless gift to give your loved ones.

First, collect together all of the home videos you want to use. If you have any old analog home movies stored on an old camcorder or VHS tapes you can use a Golden Videos VHS to DVD Converter with a video capture device to connect your camcorder or VCR to your computer and digitize your home movies in no time.

Edit Home Movies for a Memorable GiftWhen you have all your video clips collected you are ready to start editing with a quick and easy video editing program like VideoPad. Trim down clips, arrange on the timeline and select transitions. Add a soundtrack or record your own narration to share your memories about the recorded events. VideoPad also has a video stabilization feature to help clean up shaky video if your hand wasn't very steady when you were recording. And for a little extra emphasis you can even adjust the speed of video clips to add in an instant replay of that first home run or other momentous event. VideoPad is very user friendly so editing your home movies really only takes a little time and a little creativity.

Once your editing is complete you are ready to package everything together. Give your video the finishing touch by burning to DVD and adding a custom DVD label for a polished and professional looking final product.

See our software gift ideas page for more ideas on software programs to give, or other ways to add a little personal flare to your gifts.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Photo Creativity

Create custom video slideshows to share online or DVD with PhotoStage slideshow softwareIt’s the holiday season again, which means it’s time for family, food and photos. What should one do with the boundless amounts of photographs taken at this time of year? You should share them – and this year instead of making a resolution to send out a custom scrapbook to each family member (a goal most of us can never keep), I’m going to create a custom slideshow to send to the whole family.

It’s quick and simple with PhotoStage Slideshow Software. You can easily combine pictures with video clips and add sound or narration for a more festive slideshow. What better way to show off baby’s first Christmas than to give a play-by-play with sequence shots or add your favorite holiday tunes and videos? If you’re anything like me, you print your photos and stack them in a dusty box in some remote location, where no will actually see them – this year I’m going to make a captivating visual experience with them instead.

PhotoStage comes equipped with an array of transition effects so you can make every slideshow a unique event to be shared. You can edit your photos from right within the program, giving you complete control of the outcome.

My favorite part is being able to share my slideshows on my iPhone so I can look at them on-the-go! Making video slideshows really is worlds better than leaving holiday photos in a dusty box to never be seen again.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

More Transitions and Other VideoPad Video Editing Improvements

New VideoPad Transitions and EffectsThe latest release of VideoPad video editor is making it even easier to do more with your video files. Version 2.20 was a significant and exciting release, adding even more of the features you've been asking for. If you have used VideoPad before, you will notice that the main screen has tabs for easier access to the additional transitions and effects that we have added. Now you can make your clip look like it has an old film quality, transition between clips with a wipe or a page curl, and play around with the numerous other transitions and effects for a video that’s all your own.

VideoPad also features a new overlay track that will allow you to extend the same text over one or more video clips, with options for making things like scrolling credits a breeze. VideoPad fans won't want to miss these improvements, and people new to video editing will be amazed at how easy making movies can be. Be sure to keeping feeding us your comments and suggestions on all of our software products so we can tailor them to better suit your needs.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Announcing Verity Parental Control Software

Verity Parental Control Software to monitor your children's computer useThis week we added a brand new program to our ever-growing range of software, this time a little something for the family. Verity Parental Control Software is now available and completely free, giving parents more confidence and peace of mind. By monitoring a child's computer activity both online and off parents can rest easy that they can always look back at what their kids are doing on the computer without needing to hover and watch over their shoulder.

After a quick setup, Verity will begin logging the programs being used and the websites visited. Activity is tracked by user, program, keystrokes, mouse clicks, and screenshots and can be monitored through a password-protected web interface. Additional parental controls allow you to block specific websites and applications.

So if you are looking for a quick and easy way to track computer activity in your household you should give Verity a try, and be sure to let us know what you think.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Do More with Audio - Blog Carnival December 6, 2010

Audio is everywhere you look, or listen. Add a little time a dash of creativity and you will be surprised at what you can find out there to listen to. Take for example the discovery that you can get the Google translate tool to sound like a beat box. But be warned playing around with the different language combinations will suck away a chunk of your day before you know what happened.

Here are this edition's entries to Do More with Audio:

Nils J. Sandback presents Piano Humour: A Victor Borge Tribute posted at Piano Street's Classical Piano Blog, saying, "A tribute to the Danish pianist and humorist Victor Borge."

Bart Bryars presents First Time Success Making A Music Video, saying, "This is my first video, and the opening number the musical, Joey, that my wife and I have been working on."

Gregg Fine presents Getting Started in Advertising Music-The Video Reel Pt. 1 posted at Hidden Tiger Music Blog, saying, "This blog focuses on the art and craft of making music for advertising and television commercials. Additional topics include mixing, recording, audio engineering, composing, arranging."

You might also be interested in:That concludes this edition of "Do more with audio." Be sure to Submit your audio article, story or success to the next edition.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Software-Buying Decisions

organic search results for softwareThis article on Organic Search Driving Software-Buying Decisions caught my eye since I have a continuing interest in Software Buying Trends. Some of the key findings from the research done by iPrsopect in their study on the effects of organic search, paid search and online display advertising were:
  • 37% increased likelihood of visiting a website
  • 30% increased likelihood of purchasing a software product
  • 14% lift in brand recall with exposures to both organic and paid search results
  • No change was seen in brand favorability based on organic results
Familiarity with a brand name has long been looked as important when making purchasing decisions. People tend to select things they are more familiar with, associating familiarity with reliability, so I have to agree that it is interesting that increased exposure didn't seem to have any impact on brand favorability. For a closer look at the research and findings see the full report on iProspect,Real Branding Implications of Digital Media - an SEM, SEO, & Online Display Advertising Study .
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