Topaz Labs Photoshop Plugins

As I mentioned, I’d be discussing some Photoshop plugins. One of the first I’ll be discussing is a set of plugins from Topaz Labs. This software has a zillion modules and excellent tools, from Image Effects, to retouching to masking. I’ll be reviewing a bunch of these shortly, but in the meantime, here’s a link that’ll get you a $20 credit for whatever product you buy. I own the whole set, and one of my favorite things about these guys is that once you buy a plugin, the upgrades are FREE for LIFE. Check them out HERE!

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Adobe is SERIOUSLY limiting it’s trial software time limits

For students who plan on attending classes using trial software, this notice is extremely important. Please note that if you intend to do so, you’ll want to hold off on installing the necessary application until just before your class is scheduled to begin. Otherwise, you’ll be required to enter their Subscription Program to continue usage throughout your class time.

On May 9th, Adobe posted:

Update on Creative Cloud Trials

Adobe provides free trial periods for Creative Cloud in order to allow individuals to download, evaluate and try Creative Cloud before deciding to become a Creative Cloud member. In order to ensure that trial lengths align more accurately with how trials are being used, we are making some adjustments to the program.

Beginning May 9th, 2016 the length of the trial period for Creative Cloud will be standardized worldwide to 7 days.

Individuals currently evaluating Creative Cloud via a trial will not be impacted.

You can find more information on Creative Cloud trials, including how to sign up on the Creative Cloud trials page.

To see the original post, please visit: http://blogs.adobe.com/adobecare/2016/05/09/update-on-creative-cloud-trials/

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Strategies in honor of World Backup Day!

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 1.37.40 PMToday, March 31st, 2016, is WORLD BACKUP DAY!!!

Many of you in both my live and online classes have heard me, very strongly, tell you to BACKUP your data! As I’ve mentioned before, the only time you miss having a backup is when you need it and don’t have it. 

I always recommend more than one method of backup, just to be safe. Hard drive space has become very reasonably inexpensive, and cloud space can often be had for FREE (my 2nd favorite price, as I often say) ?

Some strategies you might mix and match:

  • A CLONED backup of your system, or just your startup drive. Cloning is creating an exact replica of your hard drive (please note, for this discussion, I’m not referring to “Disk Imaging”, which creates what is essentially a zipped file of your cloned hard drive, but doesn’t use the suffix .zip). You need a hard drive with space that matches the size of the drive you’re backing up for this. As for software, Windows users have the options of Macrium Reflect Free, Paragon Backup and Recovery (Advanced) Free  ,   Acronis True Image 2016 (not free), and several others. I do a weekly clone of my startup drive, so that in the case of disaster, my system is only one week behind. However, please note that I do the next strategy daily.
    For Mac users, there’s DejaVu, Carbon Copy Cloner, Super Duper!, Data Backup, along with many others . Note that there no longer seems to be much FREE cloning software for Mac, but that’s because the MacOS has Time Machine built in – we’ll discuss that momentarily. With any application you choose, I recommend getting one with the following features:

    • Exact duplicate clone capabilities
    • Creation of a bootable backup (contains the files necessary to start from and use the backup drive, should your original drive go “bad”)
    • Duplication of the startup drives “Recovery Drive” feature (I know Carbon Copy Cloner does this on the Mac, but am unsure what does in the Windows world)
    • The ability to SCHEDULE your backups on a regular basis – so that you don’t have to remember to do them – your system does it automatically.
  • A duplicate backup of all my “Work” drives, which includes my USER FOLDER from my startup drive. I do this nightly, scheduled with the same backup software I use for my weekly backup of the startup drive. Every night, the drives (or folders) that contain my daily changes are duplicated to a secondary drive. Note that my user folder is in there, so if I ever need to reinstall from my cloned drive back to a new hard drive, I can also move my user folder into place, and my emails and documents, etc. are up to date. On this drive, I don’t duplicate my startup drive. Since I have several drives in my computer, I need quite a large capacity drive for this backup. However, since it only changes the file that have been changed that day, the backup process is quite quick.
  • Mac users may also take advantage of the MacOS built in “Time Machine”. This requires quite a lot of storage space, but it does an hourly (give or take) backup of all changes made to your system. The advantage of this is that you can store and restore files from many months back, in case a file gets corrupted, accidentally deleted, or just plain messed up. The DISadvantage to this is that the drive is not bootable (you can’t start your computer from it), so there’s downtime if you must replace your original hard drive, while Time Machine copies your files back to the drive.
  • ONLINE backup into the “cloud” is also a great option. Some systems automatically upload your files to their cloud, but you may need to pay for the service. Please note that these will NOT backup your system files, so an Operating System reinstallation would be required). But, your work files will be saved offsite, which is always safe. Nowadays, there are what seem to be a Zillion choices out there for this service. One popular service is Carbonite, and another is Backblaze, there’s also iDrive,  CrashPlan,  Pogoplug (I love this option, because it also offers a hardware “personal cloud”)….. I could go on for days on this. Some of these plans offer a free option for a small amount of space. In addition, there are FREE:
    • Dropbox – 2GB – file size limit 10GB
    • Box.com – 50GB – file size limit 250MB
    • OneDrive Windows – 5GB – file size limit 10GB – or 1TB with an Office 365 plan
    • Google Drive – 15GB – file size limit – varies – but up to 5TB for non-converted files
    • Verizon Cloud – 5GB – 1200KB from phone
    • Amazon Cloud (w/ Prime) – 5GB for video and files, unlimited for photos – file size limit 2GB
    • Copy.com – 15GB no max file size limit
    • hubiC – 25GB Free – got 30GB with code

Oh, and DON’T FORGET TO BACKUP YOUR CELL PHONE PHOTOS AND VIDEOS. Use a cloud to do automatic uploads, use iTunes, or whatever software you have to get those photos on your harddrive and back THOSE up. I’ve seen such sadness when someone loses their phone, corrupts the data, accidentally resets the phone… PLEASE remember that those photos will not be easy to recover, if they’re recoverable at all.

In my line of work, there’s been a lot of money to be made by people having NOT backed up their data – please save yourself the money of data recovery, the heartache of lost files and work. Find a strategy that suits you and remember to BACK UP!!!

Oh, and if you ever do need to have data recovered, I do recommend DriveSavers, in Novato, CA. Their “cleanroom” work is the best in the business. If you ever need a discount, please feel free to use my code DS16297.

****Broken hard drive image, courtesy of DriveSaversDataRecovery.com

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Fabulous Photoshop Format Focused Pharticle

So, I’m a sucker for alliteration. That’s what first drew my attention to the article, written on Postlight, entitled Fun Photoshop File Format Facts.

As a Photoshop geek since version 2.5 of the program (before they even invented Layers), this discussion of the inner workings of how a Photoshop .psd file retains it’s backwards compatibility, along with it’s potential and power is of massive fascination to any Photoshop geek.

Upon first looking at the article, I was brought back to a simpler and easier time, with the help of the first image – Photoshop, as it looked when layers were still almost brand new in Photoshop 4 (version 3 actually first introduced them). There’s a fun retro-splashscreen quiz (for those of us with memories of Photoshop going WAY back – image G was the first one with which I worked), reference to a really interesting commentary by a programmer from 2009, about his utter hatred of the .psd technology (which, by the way, is what gives us ALL the power we have now), and some technical background on what really makes up a .psd file.

As Photoshop users and designers, we really don’t need to know any of this. For us, it just works, and we’re grateful for the power it gives us. But for me, it makes me happy I’m not a programmer working with Photoshop files from a coding perspective!

Just for fun, I’m including the splashscreen from Photoshop CC2015, and what the interface looks like, now!

photoshop-2015-splashscreen photoshop-now

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NY Post Reports That B&H Photo is Unfair to Minority Workers

As a hobbyist photographer, and a professional computer technician and software teacher, I’ve used this company for years. Even did the “pilgrimage” to visit them, last time I was in NY. I was so excited to see the actual PLACE.

This store is very popular online, for computer equipment, photography equipment, video equipment and assorted other, related paraphernalia.

I’m EXTREMELY angered and disappointed to read this about them. I will do my best to find and use good competitor companies to fulfill my needs in the future.

This pains me.
http://nypost.com/2016/02/25/bh-forced-hispanic-workers-to-use-separate-bathroom-feds/

bhphoto

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YouControl app STILL works! – UPDATE

When I upgraded to Yosemite (I know, El Capitan is newer, but I have some older hardware and software I’d rather not upgrade yet), I had several concerns, not the least of which was whether one of my most-used apps would still run under the new OS.

YouControl was last updated in 2009, and it’s currently abandon-ware (the company closed, there’s no support, and there will be no upgrades).

I’d tried to do a lot of research, and all I read was that when doing a fresh installation, YouControl could no longer connect to the developer’s server, so would not authenticate, so it wouldn’t run.

I’m posting this, in case anybody else has the same concern – instead of doing a fresh installation of the OS, I did an upgrade installation (after thoroughly backing up on 2 different media, of course), running utilities and cleanup, and doing extensive preparation beforehand. I’m here to tell you – it STILL WORKS!

All aspects – hotkeys, multi-clipboard, stock checking, system monitoring… I run the gamut (only thing that died was the weather function, which had died years ago).

So, for those of you who don’t know of this app, I’m sorry for the interruption – nevermind – you can’t get it. But for those of you who have the same concern as I, who can’t find a real answer anywhere – I’m writing this to let you know that if you maintain your installation – YouControl will continue to work. Unfortunately, I can’t speak to it’s use in El Capitan, but I would assume upgrading instead of reinstalling would do the same thing.

Last thing – this should also work with a clean SYSTEM installation, and migration – since YouControl never has tried to check in with the server when I’ve done that in the past.

UPDATE 2/23/16 – it seems I may have spoken too soon. While YouControl DOES work, it’s not very stable. Apparently, the application makes a call to a command that was deprecated after OS 10.8. Since the developer isn’t available to fix the code, the application occasionally mis-identifies the Operating System on the computer (thinks it’s 10.9) and gets confused, causing the need to force quit. I will continue to work on finding a fix, but please do note that this application isn’t as stable as I’d hoped. The worst part is that in order to do even part of what i’ve been doing with this great app, I’ll have to run at least 4 other background applications. Sad.

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Adobe is transitioning from Revel app for Devices

Today, Adobe released the announcement that the free Adobe Revel app for devices is being replaced with the Adobe Lightroom App. While the device app is free to use, it’s suggested use is with the Adobe Creative Cloud (for which, I understand, the price will be going up next year), or with the Photoshop/Lightroom CC subscription.

If you’re a user of Adobe Revel, please be sure to download your photos from your device and your Revel Cloud space prior to the switchover in February.

Here’s Adobe’s message:
This is a friendly reminder that Adobe Revel will no longer be available after February 23, 2016. This is the last day you’ll be able to sign in to the Revel app or access your photos and videos.
Members tell us that the Creative Cloud Photography plan — which includes access to Adobe Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC — is the best solution for organizing, editing and sharing their images. Lightroom works on your iOS and Android mobile devices, so you can access all your images anywhere you are — just as you could with Revel.
To get started with the Creative Cloud Photography plan, download your Revel photos and videos and import them into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
If you used Revel exclusively on your mobile device and still have copies of your files in your camera roll or gallery, download Lightroom for mobile to get started.
If you no longer have copies of your Revel files on your device, use our Download tool to download them to your computer.

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Adobe is Severely Limiting it’s Font Installations

In a recent article on InDesign Secrets, I can finally find the reason why so many of my InDesign classes have been having font errors when using files from the Adobe courseware. It seems that InDesign – and all of the Adobe programs, for that matter, are no longer installing the fonts that used to come with the programs! I’ve been using Adobe programs for too many  years than I want to count, so of course, I have the fonts installed, but so many of my students are downloading demo software for their classes, and work in an environment with security limitations, so they can’t easily access Adobe’s Typekit (part of the Creative Cloud suite).

In my opinion, this is a terrible move on Adobe’s part, and I can’t quite figure out why they’re choosing to do it. Over the years, I’ve seen Adobe seemingly losing touch with their users in quite a few ways, but in software that’s ABOUT design, I can’t imagine what they’re thinking.

To view the post on InDesignSecrets.com, please visit http://indesignsecrets.com/adobe-drops-fonts-leaves-users-stranded.php

There’s an earlier article about the issue here: http://indesignsecrets.com/happened-fonts-indesign.php   (which includes a work-around)

And, for a list of the fonts originally installed, and mostly still necessary, please see Adobe’s article here: http://www.adobe.com/products/type/creative-suite-6-installed-fonts.html

As for me, I’ve backed up ALL of my installed fonts into a directory I use for my font management program. I suggest you do the same. If you’d like instructions for doing so, please comment on this post.

 

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Unlimited Cloud Backup – $50/year

It happened. My backup hard drive used for my daily backup died. It was one of those 4TB MyBooks, that is made up of a RAID of 2, 2TB disks. On that SAME day, I had to teach an online class, which often somehow screws up my Time Machine (which takes ages to fix, but is doable, and got done). BUT, I still felt my data was safe in the event of a serious problem because I’d just renewed my subscription (I’d gotten an initial free 3 month trial) for BackBlaze. I figured that having ALL my other work data on the cloud for only $50/year wasn’t a bad idea – and indeed it wasn’t!

BackBlaze doesn’t back up my operating system, applications or parts of my user folder, but I have several other terabytes of data that sits on my startup and other connected drives. I live in earthquake country and my office electrical is… let’s say… overloaded. I was given a gift of a new 4TB multi-interface replacement backup drive so I can have my local backup again (nice gift, right?)- AND I ALWAYS HAVE A SEPARATE LOCAL CLONED BACKUP OF MY STARTUP DRIVE – but for $50 I had peace of mind – and that’s a great thing!

Check them out at www.BackBlaze.com.

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BACKUP – automatically to the Cloud

BACKUP!!!

So, you guys know I’m very neurotic about backing up my files, and I found this service that gives you unlimited space for automatic backups – IN THE CLOUD!

I have dual hard drive backups in my home office, PLUS a separate backup for my startup drive. But living in SoCal, with earthquakes, I’ve always been concerned about earthquake damage hurting my backups, leaving me with nothing.

Recently, I discovered BackBlaze.com. for $50/year, they offer unlimited space for backups, allow the backup of external drives, retain backups for 30 days, and will back up almost everything (system files and Applications won’t get backed up). I have 4 internal drives and several externals. All of my media (photos, videos, and even the files created as temporary files for my video editing), all of my office work files, personal files – and it’s safe and encrypted. All offsite, and all for $50! There isn’t a limit on file size, either – so my largest multi-gig files can be uploaded. It’s not exceptionally speedy, but I can even control the speed of the backups.

I highly recommend checking them out at BackBlaze.com.

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