BBEdit brings bare-bones, functional text, code, and HTML editing to the Mac.
BBEdit, from Bare Bones Software, has been updated to version 9.1. With the update the straightforward and simple text editor sees a host of improvements and new features.
The award-winning BBEdit is designed as a no-nonsense editor for programmers, web designers, and anyone else who makes heavy use of text editing, bringnig straightforward functionality to text editing with plenty of features designed to make text editing hassle free while avoiding unnecessary frills.
Among BBEdit’s many features is an automated scripting function called Text Factory. Text Factory does the dirty work of script writing, simplifying the automation of repetitive text-editing tasks and saving the user time and frustration. BBEdit also includes automated markup for CSS and HTML, reducing coding errors and making the life of web designers easier.
As well, BBEdit is the only text editor to include Consolas Regular, an anti-aliased font specifically designed for text and code editing. This font is made to reduce eye-strain, and makes the process of visually identifying specific parts of code, which can get difficult in text-dense programming projects, less difficult.
New features in BBEdit 9.1 include auto-completion of words, an improved autosave feature that backs up work every minute, improvements to many features, fixes to some problems in earlier version, and much more.
I’ve had trouble finding a text editor that I like; the TextEdit program that comes bundled with Apple computers is too bare-bones, offering basically no features. OpenOffice, on the other hand, tends to be a bit bloated for my tastes, and sometimes does strange things like telling me my project has no spelling errors when it is obviously full of them. BBEdit strikes a balance between the two that is good to see and just plain works, which is the sort of thing people expect to see from quality Mac-focused products.
BBEdit costs $125 new or $30 for an upgrade from an earlier version. Or if you’re upgrading from version 8.5 to 8.7 and purchased on or after January 1st, 2008, your upgrade is free. On top of that, educational discounts are available at the Bare Bones store.
Microsoft’s new Free Your Avatar site lets you pop your custom Xbox Live avatar into a picture.
Ever since Xbox Live’s new format went online, people have been clamoring for the chance to put their custom avatars into little postcard pictures with firework backgrounds. Well, now that dream has become a reality.
The Free Your Avatar tool allows you to enter an Xbox Live username, and then allows you to drag an image of the account’s avatar into a picture frame, where you can position it and add different backgrounds and text.
One interesting aspect of this web-tool is that you can enter any gamer tag you know and make a photo out of it. This means you can finally make that family Christmas photo of all your friends’ avatars that you always wanted. Or you can always just deface the avatar of someone you don’t like.
Once you’re done with your masterpiece you can either download it, email it to your friends, or export it to various social networking sites such as Facebook, Bebo, or MySpace.
Even if you don’t have an Xbox Live account, the site gives a catalogue of a few preset avatars for you to play around with, so that non-gamers aren’t left out of the exciting avatar-framing action.
All sarcasm aside, this little tool is actually kind of neat. It would be nice to see some more entertaining options than just backgrounds and text, like props or different poses, but for a quick distraction it’s pretty fun.
The soon-to-be-released Orbita Mouse is designed to change the way pointing devices are used, while bringing ergonomic benefits.
The Orbita Mouse, designed by the somewhat ridiculously named Cyber E Sport company, is a new take on the mostly unchanging mouse that promises to lower hand-strain on the user and offer an easier and more intuitive way to scroll.
The circular mouse works at any angle and rotates freely. This rotation can act as both vertical and horizontal scrolling, making the Orbita function almost like a dial.
This unique approach to scrolling allows constant, smooth scrolling for the user, instead of the jerky, staggered sort of scrolling that results from using a scroll wheel. Further, users of 3D modeling programs and music-recording software will see unique benefits as well: the Optima’s rotation acts as a 3rd axis, allowing more robust manipulation of 3D objects in rendering programs, and the circular scrolling motion provides more intuitive rotation of knobs and dials in recording software.
The Orbita also comes with the traditional left and right click buttons, albeit in a slightly un-traditional arrangement. The left click comes in the form of a normal push-button, but a right click is executed by squeezing the mouse at any point; the right click squeeze feature encompasses the entire radius of the mouse, meaning it doesn’t matter what angle you squeeze at.
I must admit, at first I was skeptical that the Orbita mouse was worth looking at, because to me it looked just like a gimmicky rehash of a normal mouse. But after seeing how the rotational scrolling works, I think I’m sold.
I find that one of the most annoying things about using most recording software is manipulating the digital dials and switches most of them have. The simple act of rotating a knob does not translate well into normal mouse gestures. But the Orbita looks like it allows for intuitive and satisfying rotation, making a lot of scrolling actions easier.
Plus the thing is downright cute looking.
The Orbita is scheduled to be released in January of 2009, comes with a wireless USB base that also charges, and will cost $98.50.
The latest version of BatchOutput Server, an automatic file processor for Adobe InDesign, has been released, finalizing the product.
BatchOutput Server version 4.1, designed by Zevrix Solutions, is a time-saving system for any workplace that makes heavy use of Adobe InDesign. BatchOutput automates output for InDesign files, allowing batch processing of procedures like printing, exporting to PDF and exporting to Postrscript.
The program simplifies the processing of InDesign files, dealing with bulk loads of InDesign files at once, and also makes InDesign available other projects in the mean time, potentially freeing up hours of formerly unproductive time.
Further, BatchOuput does its work on a dedicated BatchOut Server workstation. This means resources aren’t taken up locally, and also allowing for centralized settings, meaning users don’t have to micro-manage the settings for each computer.
The newest version apparently simplifies the process of sending files to BathOutput; according to Zevrix’s site, once BatchOutput is installed users simply select Submit to BatchOutput from InDesign’s menu instead of Print or Export, and BatchOutput automates the rest.
BatchOutput Server is fully compatible with Mac and PC and starts at $499.95; if your design team wastes a lot of time waiting for InDesign to process files, BatchOutput might pay for itself with greater productivity in a short amount of time.
Yesterday Google released the latest version of their free web browser that Google has coined Chrome. With this fifteenth release comes the dropping of the beta tag, now that google is satisfied that the program has met their stability standards.
Chrome has a few important features. For one, it comes with built-in security features. Thanks to its sandbox security process, which runs Chrome in a so called “sandbox” where malicious executables and other exploits cannot effect the rest of your computer, worries about phishing and exploits are minimized.
Chrome also comes with safe browsing features, which warn you if a page is suspected of being malicious, protecting you further from dangerous sites.
Chrome also provides a unique tab-management system. One clever idea Google implemented is that upon opening a new tab, Chrome gives you an organized list of thumbnails of your most visited pages, as well as your most used search engines. This feature makes creative use of the glaring whitespace left in most browsers when you open a new tab only to see a blank screen.
Chrome’s tabs can also be manipulated and shuffled around to make organizing your tabs more intuitive. For example, tabs in Chrome can be pulled out into new windows, and then popped back in to a window. I have found this feature useful, as I tend to have a lot of tabs open that are hard to keep track of; by popping the most important tab out into a window I can keep track of it easier, and when another tab becomes my focus I can switch them easily.
Chrome also makes interesting use of the address bar. The address bar is in fact an amalgamation of three features: a traditional address bar, a search engine and your browser history. Chrome intelligently chooses which one you want to use, streamlining searching and browsing nicely. This cuts down on the amount of buttons in the interface and makes your history more accessible and well-integrated.
With the new version comes improved video and audio plug-in support, which fixes glitches formerly experienced with media. Also, a bookmark import and export feature has been added, making the switch from your old browser painless. This compliments the new bulk bookmark management system, which allows you to organize and deal with all your bookmarks easily, and the quick bookmark button, which takes the form of a star at the top of the browser window.
Google also added some new privacy features to Chrome, including an incognito mode that allows you to open a page without making an entry into your history. This ensures that your mom will never find out about saucyclownworld.net. (I haven’t checked if that is a real website, and I recommend you don’t either.)
Overall, Chrome looks to make web browsing simpler, more intuitive and faster. Google’s focus seems to be straightforward usability, and all of Chrome’s features seem to have ease-of-use in mind. Chrome is also apparently very fast, and the latest version benchmarked at 50% faster than previous version
Unfortunately a few key features are missing. Form auto-fill and RSS support are absent, and without such features Chrome cannot be said to be a complete browser yet. Nonetheless, if you’re looknig for a fast, aesthetically pleasing, no-nonsense, user-friendly browser, check out the new version of Chrome, right here.
Imagine the day when a GPS and a video game console are one. Actually, don’t bother, because this day is now here with a totally free iPhone application known as Parallel Kingdom.
If you have an iPhone, Google Android, or T-Mobile G1 then you will be able to play an online role playing game that super-imposes a virtual world atop the real one. No more going into virtual worlds on the computer when you can attack, chat, and interact with a new world that is based in the actual world.
Parallel Kingdom uses a mobile’s Wi-Fi for the Internet to find the Points of Interest. You should be able to download it from the Apple App Store for free, but it doesn’t look like there is much for it now. In short, don’t expect to be stepping into a somewhat real Mordor any time soon.
However, I believe that Parallel Kingdom will only be the beginning of games that will allow the user to get off of the couch. I’m not talking about Wii Sports, but games where you will have to get up and out of the house to fully experience.
So how about it gamers? Are you ready for a healthy dose of reality in your virtual world? If so, start playing Parallel Kingdom now.
The application, which will reportedly only work with Safari and email, is web-based, meaning it will circumvent Apple’s application store and won’t require installation. Nonetheless, Pastebud will not come free and will most likely come at a price tag of $5; a small price to pay for such a useful function.
Gizmodo had early access to the program, and recorded a short video of the application in action. The video is imbedded at the bottom of the post.
Even though the application will only function in Safari and email, copy and paste functionality will come as a very welcome feature for most iPhone users, as its omission has been a glaring problem for many iPhone owners. It is definitely curious that such basic functionality is not available in one of the most advanced and user-friendly cel phones ever made, and is a source of frustration for many.
It’s hard to say whether Pastebud will be able to stick around for long; other applications designed to bring copy and paste functionality have been broken by Apple in the paste. OpenClip was one such casualty, and was broken by an iPhone update released by Apple. It appears that Pastebud could be immune to such a problem, considering it is web-based instead of requiring an install on the iPhone. But if Apple doesn’t take a liking to the service it wouldn’t be surprising to see Pastebud shut down in some manner in the future, whether it be through updates to the iPhone or otherwise.
If nothing else it is hopeful that this program will at least make Apple see the demand for copy and paste on the iPhone, forcing their hand in releasing an update with full copy and paste functionality.
According to Pastebud’s Twitter, Pastebud is set to be released tomorrow.
Using the same scanning technology used to upload books to the web, which automatically recognizes each word and indexes it into Google’s search engine, Google will be uploading entire issues of magazines, pictures and all. Magazines will be searchable page by page, and will will show up in the Google Book Search.
Eventually magazines will even show up in normal Google searches, meaning a search for world’s most challenging crossword, for example, will produce links to New York Magazine not just in the Book Search, but in any old query.
In my opinion this is an interesting and important move by Google. Google’s launching of the ambitious Book Search service was a great step towards open information, ensuring that many important books are made available to the broadest number of people possible. Information best serves us when it is available to everyone, and by providing access to many pieces of literature through the internet Google has brought information to a huge number of people.
Magazines are a slightly different issue though. While it is normal for many influential books to be made available for free, magazines are a different story; the magazine industry is deeply profit driven, and, except for a few exceptions at libraries, many magazines are generally only available through subscription. Nonetheless, magazines often offer unique and important insight into world affairs, and by making them available online for free, Google has made a bold move towards open access to such things.
If nothing else, the ease of getting access to magazines has been increased greatly; after all, the internet is far closer to home for most of us than the library or magazine store.
Universal Type Server, Extensis’s font management software, has been updated with plug-in based support for Adobe InDesign CS4 and Illustrator CS4, plus compatibility with the 64 bit version of Windows Vista.
The update, which is free for owners of Universal Type Server, allows users to make use of the program’s centralized font management features within Adobe products. Universal Type Server allows fonts to be held on a central server and distributed to design teams efficiently and consistently, and through a collaboration with Adobe the program’s functionality has been deepened, ensuring ease of use and cross-platform effectiveness.
Features include corruption checks to flag bad fonts, font pinpointing and auto-activation, ensuring designers need not wade through an enormous list of fonts, an attractive and simple user interface, real time or on-demand font synchronization, to ensure the entire design team has access to the right fonts at all times, and web-based remote administration.
Rifling through fonts by myself can be frustrating and difficult, so I can only imagine what a chore it is to collaborate a whole design team’s font usage. This program seems ideally suited for just that, giving administrators a great deal of control over font databases while keeping font acquisition simple and quick for designers.
Universal Type Server starts at $1,395 for the lite version, which includes 10 installs, and is available for Windows and Mac. Free trials are also available at Extensis’s site.
It’s a situation we’re all familiar with: you’re bored, trying to kill time, or just looking for a break, so you look to the web for some fun distractions in the form of free online games. There is a plethora of sites available that offer up such entertainment, but few that include as many quality features and games as Kongregate.
At its core Kongregate is a site driven by community game submissions. Users make their own Flash or Shockwave games and upload them to the site, where anyone can play them. Almost every genre is covered, from action, adventure and RPG, to puzzle and music-based games. For a start, check out I Wish I Were the Moon, an experimental point and click puzzle game, or Ragdoll Cannon, a game, not surprisingly, about launching ragdolls from a cannon. There are even multiplayer games available, which allow users of the site to play together or against one another.
One aspect that sets Kongregate apart from other free gaming sites is the quality of the games that are offered. Like any community-driven site there will be a share of lemons, but the majority of Kongregate’s games are fun, interesting, original, and well-designed. One of my favourites is The Several Journeys of Reemus, a very well illustrated point-and-click adventure game with some hilarious dialogue, creative characters, and a unique and wacky story.
But Kongregate isn’t simply a collection of free online games; as its name suggests it is also a social networking community where people can meet, talk about their favourite games, discuss strategies, make critiques, add friends, and set up multiplayer games with one another. Kongregate has the usual forum-based discussion area, like many websites, but what makes Kongregate unique is that every game comes bundled with a chat room that allows you to chat with other people on the site, look at high-scores, and so on.
Multiplayer games even allow you to chat with other people playing the same game as you. Unfortunately, there are no rooms for people playing single-player games to chat in together, a feature I hope will eventually be added. Nonetheless, this focus on community gives Kongregate a notably social aspect, taking advantage of the possibilities offered by social networking sites, and making the web-gaming experience feel less isolated and more like a visit to Facebook.
Kongregate has some other inventive features that make it noteworthy. One of the reasons that many of Kongregate’s games seem to be of particularly high quality for free online fare is the support offered by the site. Kongregate has built in mechanics for game-sponsorship, so it is very common to see various websites sponsoring the game you are playing. This gives the site’s game developers more exposure and more opportunities than simply uploading the product of their hard work to a site that may not reward the author’s contribution.
Also, every game on Kongregate is given a percentage of the ad-revenue generated by the game, allowing indie developers a chance to make a few dollars off of their creations. Finally, the site’s users can purchase “Kreds,” which can be used to donate funds directly to game developers. Aspects like these further strengthen the community aspect of Kongregrate, ensuring people that quality games are rewarded, and giving community members the feeling that they are doing their part to help, all while having some fun.
But it isn’t just developers that get special benefits from Kongregate; players have a chance too. While it isn’t fully worked out yet, as Kongregate is still in beta, the infrastructure for a points system is in place, whereby players gain badges and earn points for completing achievements and challenges. Points earned will increase your avatar’s “level,” and prizes and rewards for reaching high scores are being planned.
The Kreds I mentioned earlier can also be used to buy power-ups and virtual items, enhancing the experience for the player.
Social and reward features like these are what turn an experience with a website from a casual visit to a compelling and personal experience. Rewards, points, avatars and special achievements that are tracked and viewable by all other players give the site an integrated and professional feel, akin to using XBox Live.
Overall, Kongregate has some fun little games to play, but more importantly it also seems to be taking the next step in online gaming, towards a complete community-based form that will keep players interested and benefit designers at the same time.