Nik Collection – Photoshop Plugins FREE to Everyone!

Today, Google announced that their excellent Photoshop Plugin “The Nik Collection” is going to be free to everybody.

This excellent collection includes: Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro and Dfine – professional level controls to refine your images. I’ve been using it for several years (along with some other plugin sets) for efficient control over my effects, sharpening, noise removal and more.

For those of us who use Photoshop on a regular basis, getting this (previously $149) plugin for FREE is a boon!

Check out their post at:

Net Safety on Public WiFi

CNET has published an excellent article on Web Safety when you’re out and about with your laptop or devices and using a public WiFi station. There are some pretty big risks that people might access and steal your data, your private logins and your identity information (including credit card numbers and passwords).

Check out their article at:

Adobe Premiere Pro CC to include MorphCut

Adobe Premiere Pro CC to include MorphCut – There’s something with the potential for greatness coming to the new Adobe Premiere Pro. In the right hands, this can be used for smoothing edits between different portions of a continuous clip, without having to cut over to a B roll, making (interviews in particular) edits cleaner and fixing a potential slew of problems.
My worry is what it’s going to do in the wrong hands. For example, the hands of politicians, news media, unscrupulous attorneys…
Take a look:

Is Your Email Account Hacked?

Today, I received an email from a well-meaning friend asking if my email account had been hacked. He forwarded the original email to me, and it was immediately obvious that “Hacking” was not what was happening here. The appropriate word for what was done is “Spoofing”. My name was Spoofed. ( To see the email I received, please see the bottom of this post.

What this means is that someone, somewhere got my name and used a bogus email address to send email to my friend – showing my name, but not from my address. This is a very important distinction. Had they used my email address, even with a DIFFERENT name, I would have been “Hacked”. I’d have to change my passwords and worry about my email account’s security. In this case, there’s nothing I can really do, but at least my information is safe.

I’m sure you’ve all seen emails like this. Emails that appear to be from friends, but are promoting something you KNOW your friend wouldn’t promote, or that has some wonky link in it.

If you’re wondering why this happens, there are several possible contributors to the cause:

1) Sending batch emails to dozens of people or strangers and CC’ing all the emails, exposing everyone’s names and addresses to everyone else. This is easily resolved by using BCC (for a tutorial on BCC, please visit my YouTube Channel:

2) Using BCC in your emails, but forgetting to remove the dozens of email addresses that had been forwarded to you by others who didn’t know BCC

3) (This seems to me to be the MOST prevalent) Keeping your Contacts (or Address Book) on a free email server – like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL and others. It’s not too hard for a hacker to access your information from there :!topic/gmail/r8AOu5cPpaU

To support this idea, I can see that my friend received his email on his gmail account. My name is listed on his gmail account as a contact. The link and actual USED email address have something to do with cars. My friend is very connected with the car business and has likely been tracked as we all are, while doing some of his research.

Some articles blame social media, however I’m not among the people who believe that to be the culprit. My personal name is not listed in full, as used in this email on almost any social sites. In fact, the ONLY place this name is listed in this way is in Google+ (in which Google has endeavored to link everything Google to everything ELSE Google).

So, my suggestion is to stop using Free Email addresses on public sites. Now, I know that’s not going to happen, so here’s the next best thing. Check the email information – and look for the email ADDRESS from which the email was sent. If the listing is as it appears in the screenshot below – IMMEDIATELY delete the email. DO NOT CLICK ANY LINKS! Then, consider removing your friend’s name from a public listing on your free email account, and consider using BCC correctly in emails to protect the names and emails of your friends.

Spoofed Email

Look at the email address this was sent FROM

1Password – is it going the way of all the other corporations?

Those of you who follow my posts on my page, or on Facebook know I’ve been a HEAVY supporter of 1Password, recommending it to my clients and students on both the Mac and Windows Platforms.

Well, I’m requesting data from the company as regards their newest upgrade – and it’s possible that I may be writing back with some news that may cause me to retract my support. Please keep watch.

Some info for When you Finally Move to Mountain Lion

The Macworld Help Desk has a really helpful article about what to expect when upgrading to Mac OS 10.8 (currently 10.8.2) Mountain Lion. The article can be seen at

Personally, I haven’t performed this upgrade, but there’s really only one reason for this at this point. I HAVE upgraded to Lion (10.7) and do not particularly like it. It’s GREAT for new users, but for those of us who’ve been using the Mac for a long time, we have to jump through too many hoops to do anything with real control. This is the same issue with Mountain Lion, and from what I see, Mountain Lion has some improvements over Lion. So, you ask, WHY have I upgraded to Lion, and skipped Lion?

Well, I NEED my old applications that run in Rosetta. “But” (you say), “Lion doesn’t run Rosetta either, so how can this be a good reason?”

In my efforts to keep my old apps running, I found the ONE version of VMWare Fusion that allowed us to install Snow Leopard as a guest operating system so I can run my old Snow Leopard installation (my favorite OS so far, btw) in emulation – much the same way I run Windows. Now, I need you guys to know that installing Snow Leopard’s Client OS may be breaking the “letter of the law” unless you use the Server version.

The ONE version of VMWare Fusion that will allow the use of Snow Leopard’s Client (means end-user version) will stop working if I upgrade it, and the old version will not run on Mountain Lion – simple as that!

Oh, and I should tell you that I HAVE tried using the Server version of Snow Leopard in Parallels and VMWare. They work fine, but don’t have the same capabilities as they do when emulating Windows – they don’t allow copy/paste to work between environments, and they don’t allow drag and drop of files from the main environment to the virtualized one (a VERY helpful feature between Mac and Windows – non-existent in Mac to Mac emulation – can you believe it?!)

All this, so you can understand the implications of upgrading your Operating System on the Mac. It may not affect you as most of you have been using the Mac for a short enough time that you don’t have any older programs that require Rosetta. But if you do, you may wish to take heed.

Ranting on the Apple Store… ME?

As you all know, I’m a big fan of the Macintosh and Apple. I like the products Apple makes, their business model (for the most part) and their innovations. But a recent trip to the Apple Store really made me cranky.

Most of you know (especially my students) that I’m a big fan of the phrase “I don’t know, but let me try to find out.” For me, the use of this phrase engenders trust, a sense of security, and a sense of respect. I’m often shocked at the amount of people who have either never heard this phrase, or are too embarrassed or prideful to use it (believing perhaps that they should be perceived to know everything).

First, a little technical background on the question I brought to the Apple Store:
I recently upgraded my MacPro to the 2012 model. I love it. It’s fast, it’s still backward compatible with my legacy hardware and software (it can still boot OS 10.6.8 Snow Leopard, and therefore run my legacy software in Rosetta), and it’s well-made (as I’ve come to expect in my MacPros). In my older computer, I had a wonderful little device that allowed me to use 2 SATA ports that were not in use on the logic board, so that I could have the equivalent of ESATA on my MacPro ( I really appreciate ESATA – it’s very fast and reliable, and excellent for multimedia, but it’s not built into any Macs.

My new MacPro still has this capability, however it only has one available port on the logic board (instead of the old 2), so I’ve been searching for a reasonable PCI-E card to do the trick. However, I’ve seen that some cards don’t play well with the Lion OS (10.7). So, I thought perhaps asking at the Apple Store would help me find out which card to buy. WRONG!

NOW, the problem:
Upon entering the Apple Store, I was quickly greeted and asked if I needed assistance. Nice! When I explained the question, the young lady helping me admitted that my question was beyond her expertise, so she brought me to a young man who, according to him, was very knowledgeable about ESATA. After reiterating my question, this nice young man proceeded to tell me that ESATA was impossible on the MacPro, and always had been. He insisted that the ESATA cable I mention above never existed for the Mac, and that no PCI-E cards were capable of offering that service on a Mac (but it would on a PC). Even after I told him I’d been using this for some time on my own MacPro and knew for certain that there were cards out there (the Apple Store online sells them), he continued to insist that it didn’t exist, and tried to pull up websites that would prove me wrong.

Now… I know I probably should have talked to management or somebody, but at this point I was rather irritated and also didn’t want to get that young man in trouble, so I left. But, I’m hoping some person from Apple may happen along this rant and maybe institute some policy so that employees can be force-taught the phrase “I don’t know, but let me try to find out.” I mean… C’mon Apple Store… what’re you, Fry’s???

Wonderful Helvetica Based Logos

Okay – so many of you who have taken my design classes have seen me “pick on” the Helvetica font. As you know, although I consider it a classic, beautiful, clean and highly versatile, I have some issues with it’s built-in kerning at large sizes, so I usually use it for my kerning lessons.

So, today, posted a Facebook link to a great page with 40 great logos designed using Helvetica. Now, I don’t personally agree that all of these do, in fact, use Helvetica (eg: Nestlé, even if it started as Helvetica, didn’t remain Helvetica, IMO), but if you check these out, you’ll gain some great inspiration as to the effects of tracking and kerning, color, use of space, and all things typography and design. Check it out!

Tutorial on the Painting with the History Paintbrush – Photoshop

Russell Brown ( has created a really good tutorial on how to use the History Paintbrush in Photoshop.

Those of you who’ve taken my Photoshop classes know that I don’t often teach this tool. I actually think it’s an awesome tool – but of course I’m ALL about non-destructive techniques, and this isn’t one of them. This technique changes original pixels permanently (there are work-arounds, but they’re rather indirect). So, I recommend knowing how this tool works, what you can do with it, and then knowing you can use it for more of your “quick and dirty” retouching and repair needs.

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Cool Color IQ Test

For my design students, you may really get a kick out of this! X-Rite, one of the companies that make great Monitor and Printer color calibration tools, has come up with this test to determine your color acuity.

As it turns out, our ability to distinguish small color variations becomes less acute with age (and other factors)

I tried this about a year ago, and found out that, thankfully, my color acuity was much younger than I am!

Even if you’re not a design student, but you’re into color, this test is really interesting and you may find it fun.