This and That

March 29th, 2007 | Posted in News

New Photoshop Arriving Shortly- Adobe officially announced the newest version of their Creative Suite (CS) applications on Tuesday, which includes a new version of Photoshop called CS3. Some of the software will be shipping in April with the rest in the third quarter of 2007.

I’m not a big fan of getting the latest versions of software upon release. There are ALWAYS bugs and issues that need ironing out, and there is invariably a service release several months later. Plus it’s tough to justify the expense of upgrading when the product version I currently use is doing the job nicely. And with Adobe, it’s VERY expensive. I have Adobe Creative Suite 2 “Standard” which includes Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat and Indesign. The cost of the upgrade is a whopping $399.99. Yikes.

I have to say, though, that this is one I’ll dish out the cash for and probably sooner than later. With the CS3 applications, Abode finally delivers a Universal flavor of program. For Apple computer users, Universal programs are ones that run natively on an intel-based Mac. This is a long awaited move, as it is supposed to represent a significant performance (i.e. SPEED) increase for the processor heavy Adobe applications. Up until now, Adobe programs have been PowerPC based applications, or ones designed to run on the old type of Apple microprocessor. Since Apple switched to Intel chips, the Abode programs (and any other PowerPC programs) have needed to run under a software emulation program called “Rosetta” on Intel-based Macs. The emulation software is invisible and you don’t even realize it’s working, but opening a PowerPC program means you are using it. Any emulation software is going to slow down the speeds and performance of a programs that use it to run. So, Adobe programs have been running at less than their potential performance levels on those shiny, new Mac Pros and other Intel-Macs. The Universal versions will change all that, and finally take advantage of the power of the new line of Macs.

So, I think sometime in the late spring or early summer I may move on up to CS3. I’ll certainly post some thoughts on the pros and cons of the new software after I get a chance to play with it.

More Reuben Stuff- The National Cartoonist Society has posted a list of Reuben nominees complete with links to artwork samples. Not all of the samples are up yet, but hopefully that will happen soon.

Parallels Universe- Since I switched to a Mac one of the most annoying things I had to deal with was to find Mac counterparts to Windows programs. In some cases this was impossible. Microsoft Access, the Office database program, was something I used a lot for keeping my contractor info and mail merging with Microsoft Word for contracts, labels, lists, etc. I tried Filemaker Pro but there is no database program for Mac that works so well with Word, so I gave up there. Anther one was Internet Explorer. I prefer Firefox in general anyway, but IE is needed for certain websites that use it’s specific software for interactive forms. No other browser will work. My payroll company is one of these.

The switch by Apple to Intel chips meant that Windows could be run natively on Macs using virtualization software. Apple has it’s own in Boot Camp, which is in beta right now but is supposed to be bundled with the next Mac OS, “Leopard”. It requires a reboot of the Mac and a special partition on the hard drive to work, which seems to me to be a big hassle.

The virtualization program I use is called Parallels, and unlike Boot Camp it works within the Mac OS without the need for a reboot or a hard disk partition. It works like a charm, and within a few seconds I am looking at a Windows XP desktop and can launch Internet Explorer which uses my Mac’s wireless network connection to access the internet. It couldn’t be easier… well, it could and apparently now is. Parallels was recently updated and now has a feature called “Coherence“, wherein the Windows environment disappears entirely, and your Windows programs appear to be operating right on your Mac desktop. It promises to blur the lines between the Mac and PC environments even farther.

While I haven’t had time to play with this upgrade too much, I will say that “Coherence” does what it promises but not very well. The window containing the program is slow to resize or move, and seems unstable when you do either. I was unable to figure out how to lose the Windows taskbar, which it says you can do and use the dock’s Parallels icon for easy access to the Windows “Start” menu. No time to play with it to figure out how to do it. Right now the taskbar sits atop the dock.

It’s a nifty trick, but I preferred and still prefer to use the full screen mode when I have to use Windows. A simple click of a button and the desktop rotates to the left ala switching to a different user, and the Windows desktop fills the screen. It used to be a quick “alt+command” to switch back, but now that just brings up the Parallels menu bar and you have to use the mouse to change the view. It’s just as quick as “Coherence”, and is easier to use once in the environment. A useful tool if you must use Windows programs and you have an Intel Mac.

Apple TV a Little Sour- Looks like my fears about the video quality of the Apple TV were justified. This review of the new gadget on CNN.com referred to the picture quality as “generally disappointing“. It goes on to say:

Movies and TV shows in iTunes are currently available in what Apple calls “near-DVD quality” — a maximum of 640×480. Perhaps “bad analog cable quality” would be more descriptive–all of the videos were quite soft, lacking the sort of fine detail we’ve come to expect from well-mastered DVDs.

That was predictable based on the fact that the resolution was at the low end of what an HDTV (which is the only kind of TV the Apple TV unit can be hooked up to) can display and the MPEG compression of the videos is much more aggressive than found on broadcast TV or regular DVDs. They look good on a tiny ipod screen and even on a 15 inch computer monitor, but on a 50″ plasma??? Nope. This is a function of the iTunes content, not the machine. The Apple TV is fully capable of outputting true HD video at 720P or 1080i resolutions, but it is chained by the limitations of iTunes and the small size (33 GB of usable space) of it’s hard drive. 33 GBs would barely hold a single film in HD quality even if iTunes could make something like that downloadable in less than 5 hours. Until either internet speeds reach ridiculous levels or some alien technology is harnessed to compress a true HD film down to a managable download size with no distortion, the Apple TV is a race car with a tiny gas tank and only low octane, dirty gasoline to run on it.

Comments

  1. SteveH says:

    Well after a recent issue with my main pc and the mcafee security suite I am determined to make the change over to Mac next time I need to upgrade the computer! Maybe I will give it another 12 months until Mac have the new OS out and its all running smoothly! At my age I lack patience with the technology, guess I am a grumpy old man! Haha! Still its good to know you made the switch over Tom and with minimal hassle. Look out Mac, I’m a comin…

  2. Sendak says:

    Tom,
    Great blog post as always. I have followed the CS3 release with interest for months now. Like you I am pretty happy with CS2, but I’ve been learning web design and Flash (on a trial version). I have wanted to buy the (formerly) Macromedia Studio 8 to get Flash Pro and Dreamweaver on my machine for several months, but I figured that they would be included in the CS3 release with an “adobe-ized” interface. I’m very glad that I held off. I’ll save a several hundred dollars by purchasing the CS3 Design Premium bundle upgrade instead of the entire Studio 8 bundle. And I’ll get the software with the new adobe interface. I did the Photoshop CS3 trial and can honestly say that it is a MASSIVE improvement, specifically in the new panel arrangement.
    I know some people aren’t happy with the loss of Adobe GoLive and the change of Flash and Dreamweaver into the Adobe look and feel, but I love it. I say “HOORAY” for Adobe and CS3!

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