Adobe releases Photoshop Lightroom 3 for Mac OS X, Windows

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Date: Wednesday, June 9th, 2010, 05:34
Category: News, Software

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On Tuesday, software giant Adobe announce the release of Photoshop Lightroom 3 for Mac OS X and Windows. Per AppleInsider, the new version includes bells and whistles such as support for DSLR video files and tethering shooting on selected cameras.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 boasts a performance architecture that Adobe said better handles growing image libraries and provides a superior raw processing engine with noise reduction and sharpening tools. The new 64-bit capable software also has new features to optimize workflows.

Adobe said Lightroom 3 was rebuilt to be fast and responsive, and the new application provides a fluid experience for photographers. Images are said to load almost instantaneously, and importing of images has been redesigned to be more intuitive, with added previews and default selections that give users quick access to sort through and find images.

Lightroom 3 also allows users to import and manage DSLR video files, as well as take advantage of tethered shooting for select Nikon and Canon cameras. It also has a new set of photographic tools for features like Luminance and Color Noise Reduction, which are said to help produce a clearer picture from high ISO or underexposed images while still preserving details.

The latest version also adds the highly requested Automatic Lens Correction feature, which improves results by allowing users to apply profiles that correct for undesirable geometric distortions, chromatic aberrations and lens vignette effects that most lenses introduce to the image.

There’s also a new straighten tool, allowing users to perfect vertical vertical and horizontal perspective, additional presets for applying more photographic adjustment styles, three new contemporary vignette styles, and a grain effect to add a more natural look with images.

Output options in Lightroom 3 have also been expanded, with new capabilities to publish collections to online sharing sites (for example, Flickr users can sync accounts to Lightroom with one click, and integration with other websites can be added through third-party plugins).

Lightroom 3 also has customizable print layouts which provide more refined control over how photographers present final images, and new watermarking features with options to modify text, size, location and style. Users can also export polished slideshows as video files with the option to add audio and title screens.

Photoshop Lightroom 3 is now for both Windows and Mac on the Adobe store and retails for US$299 for new users, and US$99 to upgrade. The app requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and an Intel-based processor to run on the Mac end or Windows XP with Service Pack 3 or later on the PC end.

VMWare Releases Fusion 3.1

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Date: Wednesday, May 26th, 2010, 03:52
Category: News, Software

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On Wednesday, virtualization softare maker VMWare released version 3.1 of its Fusion software for the Mac.

Similar to other virtualization software packages, VMWare allows users to run alternate operating systems such as Windows and Linux distributions on Intel-based Macs at native speeds. Other features, such as Unity, allow users to run and minimize Windows applications from the Mac OS X Dock.

The new version, which can be found here, offers the following new features and fixes:

Improved Overall Performance – 35% Faster than VMware Fusion 3.0:
- Reduced time for suspending virtual machines.
- Faster Windows application launch times.
- Greatly improved scrolling speeds in Windows Vista and Windows 7 with Mac OS X 10.6.3.

2D/3D Graphics Improvements – Up to 5X Better 3D Graphics than VMware Fusion 3.0:
- OpenGL 2.1 for Windows Vista.
- OpenGL 2.1 for Windows 7.
- Greatly improved graphics performance.
- Aero is much faster on Windows Vista and Windows 7.
- Some games up to 10x faster than VMware Fusion 3.0 with VMware Fusion 3.1 and latest Mac OS X release.
- Greatly improved scrolling speeds in Windows Vista and Windows 7 with Mac OS X 10.6.3.

Unity Improvements:
- Minimizing Unity apps to the dock now shows app contents.
- Works with Exposé and Dock Exposé.

USB “EasyConnect”:
- Easily assign USB devices to virtual machine or Mac when connected.
- Remember USB device assignment between Mac and virtual machine restarts.

Bigger, More Complex Virtual Machines:
- 8-way SMP.
- 2 TB virtual disks.

PC Migration Improvements:
- Improvements to Migrate Your PC assistant, including better validation of names and better location prompt.
- Prompt user if Mac OS X guest account prevents guest access to shared folders instead of failing.
- Open new virtual machine upon successful migration.
- Enhanced user interface on PC being migrated including:
- New progress dialog on the PC being migrated as well as in VMware Fusion.
- Option to show converter logs and troubleshooting steps on PC if PC migration fails.
- Avoids port conflicts with Web server software installed on PC being migrated such as IIS, Tomcat, and Apache.

Boot Camp Improvements:
- Up to 5x disk performance in Boot Camp virtual machines.
- New option to minimize prompting for password (authentication dialogs) when using Boot Camp virtual machines.
- Handle Mac OS X disk changes better to avoid multiple references to Boot Camp partition in the Virtual Machine Library.
- Support for Office 2010 activation in Boot Camp virtual machines.

OVF Tool 2 Comes with VMware Fusion 3.1:
- Directly convert between any vSphere, VMX, or OVF source format to any vSphere, VMX, or OVF target format.
- Deploy virtual machines to vSphere using OVF Tool.
- Import and export of OVF packages into a vApprun 1.0 workspace.

User Interface Enhancements:
- Drag a disk image or virtual disk to the installation media pane of the assistant.
- Add shortcut for opening a virtual machines configuration file in default text editor for VMware Fusion (Hold down option and right-click in Virtual Machine Library).

User Interface Enhancements:
- User Experience Improvement Program.

New Guest Operating Systems Supported:
- Ubuntu 8.0.4.4: 32- and 64-bit.
- Ubuntu 10.04: 32- and 64-bit.
- SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 Service Pack 1: 32- and 64-bit.
- SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 Service Pack 1: 32- and 64-bit.
- RHEL 5.4: 32- and 64-bit.

Fusion 3.1 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and retails for US$79.99.

Strange Knowledge Base article points to potential Boot Camp update for mid-April MacBook Pro

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Date: Friday, May 21st, 2010, 04:48
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

This is interesting.

Per CNET, Apple has released a knowledge base article outlining a Boot Camp update for the 2010 13″ MacBook Pro notebook. The update is for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of windows, and addresses a problem where the Boot Camp Control Panel would display warnings when changing the display brightness, as well as problems with no audio for headphones.

The 2010 MacBook Pro models were released in mid-April, and since then there have not been any Boot Camp updates so this is the first mention of one for these machines and perhaps a sign of fixes to come.

The update should be available through Apple’s software update utility in Windows, and is currently unavailable as a standalone download. When you install the update it should show the Boot Camp build number as 2354 when you select “About Boot Camp” when clicking the Boot Camp tool in the Windows task bar.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mac OS X 10.6.4 update to address OpenGL, iPhoto, DVD Player and VNC-related issues

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Date: Friday, May 7th, 2010, 05:46
Category: News, Software

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The Mac OS X 10.6.4 update will pick up where Mac OS X 10.6.3 left off by tackling compatibility issues with OpenGL-based applications and bandaging glitches with first- and third-party applications.

Per AppleInsider, a list of code corrections that Apple provided to some developers on Thursday alongside the second external beta of Mac OS X 10.6.4, carrying build number 10F46 is pointing development along those lines. The build arrived roughly one week after Apple issued the first external pre-release copies of the Snow Leopard update, which focused on graphics drivers, Windows file sharing, USB devices and Voice Over.

While the focus areas remain relatively the same in Thursday’s build, Apple added a fix for dropped connections with Cisco VPN and thus asked developers to evaluate the overall reliability of VPN connections under the beta.

According to sources testing Mac OS X 10.6.4, other fixes are also in the cards for pairing Apple remotes with Macs, graphics anomalies that surface when editing images in iPhoto’s full-screen mode, and video playback in DVD Player.

Additional code corrections reportedly target glitches with Parental Controls, erratic USB keyboard behaviors, 3D animations, and problems launching Adobe CS3 applications like Photoshop and Illustrator.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new Mac OS X 10.6.4 build and have any feedback, let the rest of the class know what you make of it…

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.4 build to wider developer base for testing

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Date: Thursday, April 29th, 2010, 04:40
Category: News, Software

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Apple on Wednesday released a widespread developer beta version of its Mac OS X 10.6.4, the fourth maintenance and security update for its Snow Leopard operating system. Until now, the future OS had been under development internally for several weeks.

According to AppleInsider, the beta, labeled Mac OS X 10.6.4 build 10F37, made its way to Apple Developer Connection (ADC) members just one day after a more elite set of testers belonging to Apple’s Apple Seed program were able to test the beta.

According to sources familiar with Wednesday distribution, Apple has asked developers to test four key areas of the system, including graphics drivers, Windows file sharing, USB devices and Voice Over.

Although the build released to ADC members on Wednesday is identical to the one issued to Apple Seed members on Tuesday, an emphasis on evaluating Time Machine backups noted in the Apple Seed distribution was not extended to the ADC version.

It’s unclear what specific issues Mac OS X 10.6.4 will target upon its release, as Apple reportedly stopped short of including a list of enhancements with either of the aforementioned distributions.

That said, the updated build could arrive sooner than later given that the Mac maker went through 36 builds internally before tapping its developer community to put its weight on the software.

Apple listed only one known issue in documentation accompanying Wednesday’s build: that iChat will require a password each time it’s launched.

Apple opens up video decoding APIs to Adobe, other developers

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Date: Monday, April 26th, 2010, 04:36
Category: News, Software

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Sometimes a well-publicized conflict between two large companies can actually lead to something good. Per Macworld, Apple has released information on how third-party developers can take advantage of hardware acceleration for graphics, a previously unavailable feature that’s been blamed for Flash’s poor performance on the Mac platform.

Traditionally, Flash hasn’t performed nearly as well on Mac OS X as it has on Windows, especially when it comes to video playback despite the fact that these days both platforms run on comparably-powerful hardware. Adobe has been adamant thatany performance issues in Flash are the result of Apple not making the necessary video decoding application programming interfaces (APIs) available to developers, thus preventing them from taking advantage of hardware acceleration on Macs that support it.

However, a recently released Apple Technical Note for Mac OS X 10.6.3 details a new Video Decode Acceleration Framework that may help developers. The framework seems to be a relatively simple and straightforward set of APIs to do precisely what Adobe wants: use hardware acceleration to decode raw H.264 video.

“We will be enabling support for hardware accelerated video decoding for Flash Player on Mac,” said Adobe spokesperson Matt Rozen. “Now that the required APIs are available, we are working on an additional Flash Player release to follow shortly after Flash Player 10.1 to include this functionality for the hardware configurations supported by the new APIs.”

Until now, the only way to take advantage of hardware acceleration when decoding video was to use Apple’s QuickTime APIs, which only work with video that is stored in a “traditional” H.264 container, such as an MP4 file. By letting developers use the raw hardware-decoding capabilities of the graphics processors available in many Macs, Apple allows decoding video that is stored in any format, even if it’s not considered “standard.” By communicating directly with the hardware, an application can now decode video regardless of where or how it’s stored.

Unfortunately, the Video Decode Acceleration Framework has its limitations in that it can only take advantage of hardware video decoding with those GPUs that support that functionality. These GPUs include NVIDIA’s GeForce 9400M, GeForce 320M, or GeForce GT 330M graphics chipsets and, because they require Mac OS X 10.6.3, the new APIs are only available on Intel-based Macs.

Even with these limitations, Apple may be lending Adobe and other developers the access they need to help improve Flash on Mac OS X or even bring it to the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad somewhere down the line…

Amidst harsh words, Adobe cancels Flash port work for iPhone OS

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Date: Wednesday, April 21st, 2010, 03:39
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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A lot can change in two week’s time.

Per Mashable, in that span of time, Adobe has gone from touting its technology for building Flash applications that run on the iPhone to canceling future development of that technology.

When Apple altered the terms of its iPhone 4.0 software developer kit license, it effectively blocked Adobe’s move. But in his Tuesday announcement that Adobe will cease future development of the Flash-apps-on-iPhone technology, Mike Chambers, Adobe’s principal product manager for the Flash platform, offered the following quote outlining the conflict between Adobe and Apple:

“As developers for the iPhone have learned, if you want to develop for the iPhone you have to be prepared for Apple to reject or restrict your development at any time, and for seemingly any reason,” Chambers said. “The primary goal of Flash has always been to enable cross browser, platform and device development. The cool web game that you build can easily be targeted and deployed to multiple platforms and devices. However, this is the exact opposite of what Apple wants. They want to tie developers down to their platform, and restrict their options to make it difficult for developers to target other platforms.”

The company also disclosed in a regulatory filing that its business could be harmed if the iPhone and iPad don’t support Adobe technology with one report stating that the company could be considering legal action against Apple, too, according to one report.

Recently, Adobe also gainded an ally in competing against Apple: Google.

“Fortunately, the iPhone isn’t the only game in town. Android based phones have been doing well behind the success of the Motorola Droid and Nexus One, and there are a number of Android based tablets slated to be released this year. We are working closely with Google to bring both Flash Player 10.1 and Adobe AIR 2.0 to these devices, and thus far, the results have been very promising,” Chambers said.

The upcoming Flash Player 10.1 and related AIR 2.0 programming foundations are currently in private beta testing stages for Android and the software, which is scheduled to arrive this quarter, will work on a variety of other phone operating systems, including Windows Phone 7, the BlackBerry OS, Symbian OS, and Palm’s WebOS.

“I think that the closed system that Apple is trying to create is bad for the industry, developers, and ultimately consumers, and that is not something that I want to actively promote,” Chambers said. “We are at the beginning of a significant change in the industry, and I believe that ultimately open platforms will win out over the type of closed, locked-down platform that Apple is trying to create.”

The Adobe technology for bringing Flash-derived applications to the iPhone is now effectively irrelevant at the very moment when Adobe is bringing it to market in its CS5 product line.

“There is no technical reason that Flash can’t run on the iPhone,” Chambers said.

Apple may include printing support in iPhone OS 4.0, other update

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Date: Wednesday, April 7th, 2010, 03:34
Category: News

A recently discovered clue is hinting that Apple may add printing support to iPhone OS 4.0 or another update of the operating system. Per AppleInsider, support notes for the iPad’s iWork apps all note that “printing directly from iPad is not currently available” and imply that it will be an option at a later date. Rumors so far haven’t confirmed whether or not it would appear in Thursday’s special event, though it presents the first clear opportunity.

Pure touchscreen tablets have been rare, but most non-Windows tablets have traditionally had printing as a key weakness. Neither Android nor iPhone OS currently have built-in faculties for printing, and many also lack USB ports. Any Apple solution would most likely involve connecting either directly to a printer over Bluetooth or over a local network using Wi-Fi.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recent Study Finds Neither Adobe Flash, HTML5 Has Significant Performance Advantage

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Date: Thursday, March 11th, 2010, 06:36
Category: News

As the war between Adobe Flash and HTML5 heats up, a recent comparison with numerous different browsers on both Mac and Windows produced wildly different results based on the operating system and browser, making neither a clear winner.

Per Streaming Learning Center, which conducted the study in response to recently alleged comments from Apple CEO Steve Jobs that reportedly called Flash a “CPU hog”, the test found that HTML5 is significantly more efficient than Flash on the Mac when running the Safari Web browser, those same advantages do not exist on other Mac browsers, or in Windows.

“It’s inaccurate to conclude that Flash is inherently inefficient,” author Jan Ozer wrote. “Rather, Flash is efficient on platforms where it can access hardware acceleration and less efficient where it can’t. With Flash Player 10.1, Flash has the opportunity for a true leap in video playback performance on all platforms that enable hardware acceleration.”

The report noted that Apple has not enabled the hooks to allow GPU-based acceleration for H.264 video decoding. Anand Lai Shimpi, founder of AnandTech, asserted “it’s up to Apple to expose the appropriate hooks to allow Adobe to (eventually) enable that functionality.”

Adobe’s update to Flash 10.1 on the Mac improved CPU efficiency within Safari by 5%, but the Web format still trails far behind HTML5 due to hardware acceleration. With Google Chrome, neither were particularly efficient, and Firefox saw slightly better performance than Chrome.

On Windows, Apple’s Safari browser doesn’t play HTML 5 content. But the Google Chrome browser in Windows played Flash 10.1 content with 58% more efficiency than HTML5.

HTML5 has yet to receive native support in Firefox or Internet Explorer, but the update from Flash 10 to Flash 10.1 improved CPU performance for the browsers by 73% and 35%, respectively. Flash 10.1 in Windows offers added hardware acceleration.

“When it comes to efficient video playback, the ability to access hardware acceleration is the single most important factor in the overall CPU load,” Streaming Learning Center noted. “On Windows, where Flash can access hardware acceleration, the CPU requirements drop to negligible levels.

“It seems reasonable to assume that if the Flash Player could access GPU-based hardware acceleration on the Mac (or iPod/iPhone/iPad), the difference between the CPU required for HTML5 playback and Flash playback would be very much narrowed, if not eliminated.”

Google added native YouTube support in January. The beta opt-in program is available only for browsers that support both HTML5 and H.264 video encoding.

Scrutiny over Flash has grown in recent months since Apple introduced its multimedia iPad device, which does not support the Web format from Adobe. Apple, instead, has placed its support behind HTML5.

Adobe CTO Defends Against Rumored Flash Criticism From Jobs

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Date: Thursday, February 18th, 2010, 05:22
Category: News, Software

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Adobe Chief Technical Officer defended the Flash platform this week against rumored comments from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, and also said performance improvements for the scrutinized, embattled Web platform are coming to the Mac.

Per BoomTown, Lynch stated that unlike Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ rumored comments, the Adobe staff wasn’t lazy and said he and his team work very hard on their company’s product.

“It feels pretty busy around here, so I’m not sure what that’s about,” Lynch said. “And that’s a rumor. I haven’t heard that necessarily he did say that. But maybe he did, whatever.”

He went on to say that regardless of whether Jobs said anything disparaging about Adobe, he and the company are receptive to public criticism. He said they are working to improve the Flash experience for users.

“We’re totally open to hearing feedback like that,” Lynch said. “And that’s one of the really important things to do in a situation like this, when people are complaining about something — not going into internal mode, or whatever, (but) really listening to what people are saying. We do that with our customers, we do that with our critics, and often there are kernels in there that we ought to do something about, and so we are.”

Lynch then revealed that Adobe is working to improve the performance of Flash on the Mac. Currently, he admitted, video renders are more processor intensive on Apple’s hardware than they are on Windows machines.

He also made note of Adobe’s forthcoming Creative Suite 5 for Mac, which he said is “just terrific.”

“We work with Apple all of the time,” Lynch said. “We’re one of the biggest Macintosh software makers around.”

Lynch said that 19 of the top 20 smartphone makers (Apple being the only one absent) have signed on to the company’s Open Screen Project and its push for Flash on mobile devices. He also said that 85% of the top Web sites on the Internet feature Flash content.

But Flash’s spotty performance history on the Mac platform and processor-intensive requirements have led Apple to support alternatives such as HTML5. The Cupertino, Calif., company has even encouraged developers to “stick with standards” and use CSS, JavaScript and Ajax instead of Adobe Flash.

Lynch told Swisher that Adobe is supportive of the progression of HTML, including HTML5. This week it was said that an Adobe official was attempting to hold up advancement of the HTML5 spec, though those claims were later disputed.

“I know that there are certainly some who are working on HTML5 who are out to kill Flash,” Lynch said, adding that he doesn’t see the push for HTML5 as a move to “kill” Flash.

As always, feel free to hurl your two cents in on this.