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Adobe will charge your credit card even if you cancelled their trial

It seems Adobe interprets the term “free trial” differently than most people and charges your credit card for the subscription fee even if you cancel the trial after a day or two, deactivate their software and remove it from all your devices.

I downloaded Adobe’s latest Photoshop version, tried it out for a day and cancelled my trial and – as it would have been logical, even from a legal point of view — my subscription (“plan” as they call it) with it. But that’s not how Adobe sees things. Here is what happened next.

When I installed the trial, I was suspicious of the demand to enter credit card details before you’ve even started a trial period, so I used a prepaid card with very little money on it (some €5 or less even). When I cancelled the trial, I removed all the software including all the software’s support folders. I used Path Finder’s folder/file search for this so that I could even remove files like plists and other files that Adobe dumps in the oddest places on your Mac.

We’re a month later now and in the meantime, I haven’t even bothered to visit the Adobe account. This morning, however, I received an email from Adobe’s billing department, telling me there was a problem with the payment of my monthly subscription; it was the third time they’d tried to charge the card to no avail. They asked whether I would be so kind as to take a look and pay the fee.

This doesn’t make sense and, luckily, I live in the EU where we have rules that protect buyers from practices such as these. Consequently, the fact that nowhere on the Adobe site it says what I need to do if I want to cancel the actual subscription when I have cancelled the trial weighs heavier legally than whatever might be stated in Adobe’s T&C’s.

In some countries – my native country Belgium being one of them – the way Adobe has set up its system can be considered an infraction of the law on consumer protection – when I was still a lawyer, I would have enjoyed setting up my plea accordingly. The sheer fact that they’re asking for payment information – your credit card data – before you can try out the software is not allowed.

Even if you’re not living in a country where such practices are not tolerated, Adobe interprets the rules as flexible as they can and as most people don’t seem to care, they get away with it.

Yet, the list isn’t short:

  • They ask for a credit card before what I – and you probably as well – considered to be a mere trial.
  • The trial offer’s webpage does not inform you that, at the end of the trial period, you can only cancel the subscription by explicitly launching a request through Adobe’s support team.
    • This effectively contradicts you having a trial in the actual sense of the word. What you get is, in fact, a free week of subscription time.
  • You can’t cancel an Adobe subscription by going to your account page and clicking on the “Manage Plan” page. Instead, you must ask for help from Adobe’s support team.
  • However, nowhere will you find an email address, phone number or another way to contact Adobe’s human support directly.
  • Instead, you need to initiate a chat with an automated support “agent” — a robot — which has standard replies that aren’t helpful.
  • The only way you can get in touch with a human is to explicitly tell the bot you need human input and hope that it understands what you’re saying and put you in touch with a human being.

In short, Adobe makes it as difficult as it possibly can for you to cancel your subscription and fools you into thinking a “free trial” means that, if you cancel the trial you also cancel the subscription.

Conclusion

It’s no wonder that two million people have jumped ship and transferred their business to Serif’s Affinity software, for which you pay a good, old-fashioned licence, get a generous number of updates, often with new capabilities over the course of five (5!) years for Designer and three years already for Photo, and are free to upgrade or not when the time comes.

The fact that Affinity Photo, Designer and Publisher are lean and mean creativity machines and that they too let you create the most beautiful art is, of course, just as important.

In a sense, Adobe could be doing us all a favour by acting the way it does. It makes it perfectly clear that very large corporations are only interested in making money no matter what, that they’d better bury the marketing rubbish about how they want to empower their customers and that they aren’t shy of using dubious practices in the process.

In a sense, Adobe behaves just like Facebook. That company buries its T&C’s, intellectual property rights and privacy statements deep into many pages of esoteric legalese so that users of the platform are basically without rights. Only a scandal like Cambridge Analytica rattles their cage.

That doesn’t mean we are all powerless victims. We do have a choice.

Affinity Publisher is an InDesign killer

Serif, the developers of Affinity Photo and Designer, last week released their much-anticipated publishing app, Affinity Publisher. The new layout design app comes with a good deal of unique and very clever features, including “StudioLink”, an integration system – that re-defines the adjective “seamless” – between Publisher and their Designer and Photo apps.

Serif hasn’t been around all that long and yet it has released its third major design app in less than a decade. During the live event to launch Affinity Publisher and discuss Affinity Photo and Designer 1.7 – which come with their own high “Wow” factor – the Managing Director communicated some stunning usage figures. It appears Publisher has been beta tested by over 200,000 people and that the company’s user base has grown to two million.

It’s clear what the reasons are for this success:

  • The company listens to its users’ needs
  • They don’t include unnecessary or obsolete features in the products
  • They innovate but only if it benefits a workflow and your working pleasure
  • They heavily focus on features that enables users to be more creative and productive in less time.

StudioLink is the most head-turning and time-saving new feature of Affinity Publisher, but it certainly isn’t the only one. Instead of allowing an image in Publisher to launch, for example, Affinity Photo when a placed image needs to be edited, StudioLink simply replaces the tools of Publisher by those of Photo. This seems to be based on Serif’s use of “Personas” which, when the Affinity products were first launched, seemed a bit odd to me. Now that the benefits of Personas have become crystal clear, it has become obvious that it enables a much faster workflow.

Of course, a layout artist’s basic needs are all catered for, including double page spreads, live master pages, nested master pages, image frames with intelligent scaling options, text wrapping with fine padding control, custom shaped text frames, the ability to link multiple text frames together across your document, advanced guides, grids and snapping, tables and custom table formats, etc.

Simply brilliant is that you get a lot of visual feedback about sizes, positions and more. This is all done with automatically appearing and disappearing helplines and dots, as well as number bubbles along lines as you move the cursor or an object that you are placing somewhere on the page. Snapping is, of course, possible too, but with the help lines/dots you can place objects with high precision too.

I also found Publisher offering some very intuitive tools that I’ve never seen before… Table customisation is an example. You can do the usual things to tables and cells, like changing frame and line colour and thickness, but also, for example, rotate the complete table.

Another such tool is the fonts list that drops down when you click on the font name in the toolbar. If you selected a word, line or paragraph before scrolling, as you go up or down the list, you’ll see the font under the cursor being previewed live in your design on the page. That’s extremely efficient as it doesn’t leave anything to imagination.

Yet another example is font styling. Some fonts contain, as you know, swash and other embellishments, including fancy numerals and multiple designs for an uppercase character. In Affinity Publisher, you can open a panel that shows you all those styles in a checkbox list. Select the character(s) you want to experiment with in terms of these embellishments, and check each box (or some, of course) in succession, and you’ll instantly see the characters change in the document – no guessing.

Publisher places PSD, AI, PDF, JPG, TIFF, PNG and Affinity files with the ability to pin graphics to float or be placed inline with text. I sort of expected the Photo Persona taking over when I wanted to select a RAW file, but that didn’t work. RAW files do require you to open Affinity Photo and “Develop” the image and then save to one of Publisher’s supported formats.

Of course, Affinity Publisher is designed to create printing press ready files as well as desktop printing and web-distributed PDFs. Hence, it supports Pantone libraries, end-to-end CMYK and ICC colour management. And it opens, edits and outputs PDF/X files.

Conclusion

Just as Serif has done with Affinity Photo and Designer, Publisher is sure to quickly have a huge and faithful following of hundreds of thousands of users very soon. It’s at least as good as InDesign – my educated guess is that it’s going to be gauged as even better by the layout designer community.

And of course it’s a perpetual licence you’re buying, not a subscription. Just like in the olde days of computing, when QuarkXPress and Aldus PageMaker (which later became Adobe’s InDesign) were the layout apps of choice. The difference is that, while I could create lovely things with PageMaker and later with InDesign CS, Affinity Publisher’s power blows those out of the water at a price that is ridiculously low.

Affinity Publisher is now available at €54.99. For the time being, you can have it with 20% off.

DPA Microphones d:dicate 4017

How to make a 300 EUR S-Mic 2 sound like a 1800 EUR microphone

What’s the difference between a €300 Deity S-Mic 2 and a €999 Sennheiser MKH 416? Not much in terms of sound characteristics and accuracy. The S-Mic 2 comes close enough to confuse sound engineers. But then again, there are much better microphones than the MKH 416.

The DPA Microphones d:dicate 4017 and 4018 (which is much, much smaller) are a lot better. That explains why they’re used by classical music sound engineers like the “Ton Meister” from Deutsche Grammofon to Decca and Sony Classics. And if you’re shooting a documentary or a feature film, you’ll also want to ensure you’ve got the best possible microphone for the job.

Many of the professionals in these environments use the d:dicate series microphones because of their accuracy and – what I heard so very clearly when I tested the 4017 and 4018 – their silky smooth sound quality. This characteristic is hard to describe but very discernible when you hear it – certainly when you compare recordings done with a MKH 416, an S-Mic 2 and the d:dicate 4017.

Because the price of the d:dicate 4017 is way out of my league, I thought it would be nice to try make the cheapest of the three, the S-Mic 2, closer to the 4017 in post-production, for example by adjusting the EQ.

Needless to say, this is bound to fail to some point. However, the S-Mic 2 is a good microphone, so I did find a combination that makes it sound much closer to the d:dicate 4017 than it is now.

And the good news is that you can replicate my Logic Pro X settings in any other serious DAW to make the S-Mic 2 sound closer to the d:dicate 4017 bar the silky smooth quality that is unique to this mic. That smoothness is entirely due to the materials used by and the engineering DPA Microphones is capable of.

Instructions to get closer to a d:dicate 4017 on a shoestring budget

For indoors recordings, you actually need to adjust the S-Mic 2’s response in three areas:

  • Equaliser settings
  • De-reverb
  • De-ess (this step is optional).

For outdoors recordings, you only need to adjust equaliser settings.

Any DAW worth its money will offer you at the very least an equaliser. A De-Esser will come with some of the best, while a reverb filter will usually require you to buy a plug-in.

For the De-Ess and De-reverb filters, I used iZotope RX 7 Advanced, but I believe the basic version of RX 7 includes those two as well. The De-reverb step can also be done with one of iZotope’s Exponential Audio Reverb plug-ins. For this tutorial, I kept myself to De-reverb because I think more people will use that one and also because I’m not at home yet with Exponential Audio’s many, many features.

DPA Microphones d:dicate 4017

The instructions sheet I created uses the latest version of Logic Pro X and its Channel EQ, which is a simple equaliser. Using the settings I applied will make your S-Mic 2 sound pretty close to the DPA Microphones d:dicate 4017.

However, the silky smooth quality that you hear when using a real 4017 and which is so nice to hear cannot be replicated by any post-production intervention.

Find the instruction sheet here:
Instruction sheet

Q: Is Agenda a journal, a calendar, a task manager? A: It’s all of that.

Often apps that perform many different tasks ultimately perform none brilliantly. Once in a while, though, there comes along a developer who has a vision, creates and sells an app, listens to its users and succeeds in making that app a powerhouse without losing focus. Examples are DEVONthink Pro and Agenda. The latter is a relatively new app that’s available from the Mac App Store for free with premium features requiring a subscription. It’s worthwhile downloading this app for many reasons, but here is the most recent one.

It’s rare that I write a piece on software that I use and pay for myself, as it tends to be too anecdotal, but for Agenda, I must make an exception. Agenda started life as a journal based on the notes paradigm with very simple task management included. At first – and to me – it failed as a task manager simply because the developer started from the desire to have a journal for recording events and projects without obliterating them when you’ve finished them. When the app was released about two years ago, I downloaded it, gave it a try and removed it from my system again.

Until a year ago, that is, when I revisited the app and realised it had huge potential. We’re now almost another year further down the road and Agenda is a powerhouse and most of that is due to the developers listening carefully to users and implementing features faster than a Japanese bullet train swishes past. They do all that without losing the original focus.

The latest iteration of the software has brought support for Apple’s Reminders in addition to the already existing support for calendar events. Agenda doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. For events, it simply creates them in your macOS Calendar. Calendar is good enough; it’s actually brilliant in its simplicity and user-friendliness. Other attempts at creating such an app have resulted in adding features that only add clutter, making it actually harder to plan your day, week or month.

Agenda’s new Reminders support integrates Apple’s Reminders app in that you can create reminders right from within Agenda and that you can pull in existing reminders into Agenda. Now, I agree with you that Reminders is far from a powerful task manager such as OmniFocus, Things or others. It’s simple and straightforward but lacking in many ways.

That’s probably the reason why it took the Agenda developers so long to implement the integration in the first place. But then Apple announced macOS Catalina which comes with a re-designed and much more powerful Reminders app. And Agenda’s developers answered the call of their users immediately.

The app now supports Mojave Reminders and it’s been implemented in an equally user-friendly way as its previous features. Reminders support is a premium feature. It includes creating a reminder in a Note (via the menu and a shortcut) and you can create a dissociated reminder in the sidebar (as in not-associated-with-a-Note; accessible from the pop-up menu). It allows you to select only the Reminders lists you designate in the Preferences.

On Mojave, it already works like a charm, so imagine what it will be like when Catalina becomes available. For those of us who use OmniFocus or other “real” task managers, we can pull in the Agenda reminders via Apple’s app, but personally, I don’t see why you would like to do that.

Although this is a premium feature, I much recommend you to download Agenda and try it out for free. You’ll most probably like it, even without the Reminders integration. Judging from what my subscription fee has brought me over the past year in terms of new useful features, I can only say a subscription is worth the money – even as I loathe subscriptions.

Review: DxO NIK Collection 2

DxO recently released a brand new version of NIK Collection. NIK Collection 2 now includes Analog Efex Pro 2, Color Efex Pro 4, Dfine 2, HDR Efex Pro 2, Sharpener Pro 3 Output and Sharpener Pro 3 Raw Presharpening, Silver Efex Pro 2 and Viveza 2. DxO created over 40 new presets, includes U Point local adjustment RAW editing capabilities and adds support for HiDPI displays — which is interesting for Windows users only.

Knowing DxO Labs’ expertise from their other apps – Photolab 2, ViewPoint 3 and FilmLab 5 – I was very interested in what the company was going to do with the NIK Collection.

The wait was for a new version that would really show us what DxO plans to do with the software. Version 2 makes that very clear. DxO is picking up where Google messed up this fine software.

I tried NIK Collection 2 with the DxO Photolab 2 host app and it works smoothly. The integration is brilliant, the interface to open the plug-in you need is well done and the plug-ins themselves are crisp, modern and user-friendly.

DxO has included 40 new “En Vogue” styles, including Blue Monday and Clarity Bump as well as a whole set of B&W settings — most of these are nice, but if you’re even a little bit creative you’ll want to create your own looks.

I started with Analog Efex Pro 2, a plug-in that wasn’t in the Collection when I last saw it. This plug-in lets you alter your image, based on characteristics of other cameras. Analog Efex contains a few film plate cameras, a video camera, point-and-shoot thingy and more, and you can create your own camera modules. It’s a great way to evoke a time when photographers were juggling with dangerous chemicals, but it’s just as easy to change your DSLR image into one that looks like it’s been shot with a compact camera.

When you buy NIK Collection, you’ll get DxO Photolab 2.3 Essential Edition so you don’t need to have a host installed on your system like Lightroom or Photoshop. In addition, using DxO Photolab 2.3 has an added benefit, which is that you can apply U Point local adjustments directly to RAW images without sacrificing the non-destructive qualities of the app. This is not the whole NIK Collection, though. It’s actually the same functionality you’ll also get from running Photolab 2 Elite. It simply means that you can, for example, increase the contrast of just one area and leave the rest of the RAW image alone. That opens up possibilities that would require you to create brushed masks in other apps. You can create brushed or gradient masks if you want, but it’s much easier and faster to just use a U Point to create the mask and later remove the spilled over areas with the brush.

In those cases where you want to work with one of the modules of the whole NIK Collection, you can’t directly work with RAW images but need to create a JPEG or TIFF version first.

When you launch from within Photolab, a dialogue window pops open with buttons for each module. Once you select your desired one, the software will create that converted file for you first, then launch the module and open the image to apply your creative edits.

When you’ve done and save your image in the NIK module, you’re returned to Photolab and the TIF or JPEG image – the file format is your choice per preference setting – is changed in Photolab’s thumbnail list with an orange camera and read-only icon next to it.

This approach does come with a disadvantage: if you want to process your image using multiple modules, Photolab creates a new TIFF/JPEG for each new edit. That’s probably done because you can then back-track your steps, but it does add to the clutter of the filmstrip or image browser. There are bright orange icons that designate clearly the thumbnail represents a NIK-edited version of your RAW image, but unless you’ve used SilverEfex or the HDR module, it’s not really clear which NIK module belongs to which of those images.

In addition, the generated TIFF file is not tied to the NIK module you’ve used, i.e. if you select it after saving your NIK edit and then re-select it in the browser, there’s no way that NIK is going to open the correct module and let you change what you’ve already done – you can, however, edit the image with the same module again… only to create another new TIFF file, etc.

A brief overview of NIK Collection 2

Conclusion

In the past days, I’ve read some nasty comments on forums wit people who used the NIK Collection when it was in Google’s hands. They were criticising DxO Labs for charging an upgrade price for the software. I’m not going to comment on that. Instead, I have reviewed the NIK Collection after a long period of ‘absence’ and from that perspective I think the price for the upgrade is right, especially so as you get a good RAW editor with it.

The addition of the NIK Collection to DxO flagship RAW editor makes its offering more interesting to a larger group of photographers, especially those who like to boost their images with visual enhancements or creative elements without having to delve deep into masking, painting, etc.

Except for the potentially almost endless generation of NIK edited TIFFs or JPEGs, I found the NIK Collection 2 a great addition to DxO’s already excellent portfolio of products.

DPA Microphones d:dicate 4017

The DPA Microphones d:dicate 4017 and 4018 shotgun and supercardioid mics Review

When I mention a shotgun microphone many of you will spontaneously think of a Sennheiser MKH 416 or perhaps a Schoeps CMIT 5. But if you’re really into quality and flexibility, a DPA Microphones d:dicate 4017 or – for smaller spaces and other recording types – a d:dicate 4018 could be a much better fit. These mics are available with three different preamps for different environments and come with DPA’s reputation as one of the top microphone suppliers for recording classical concerts, which is a very strong reference.

Knowing all that, I decided to ask my DPA Microphones’ contact if I could try out these two mics with two preamps, the MMP-B (with low cut and high boost filters) and MMP-C (no cuts or boosts whatsoever). DPA agreed to a generous loan period and I took to experimenting.

Just for completeness sake, I must mention there’s an MMP-G preamp as well, but for that to properly try out you got to have a wireless system and I still don’t have that available.

The d:dicate 4017 Shotgun Microphone has been made for use with camera systems, in fixed positions at sports facilities, for broadcast, ENG, film booming and even studio recording environments.

The d:dicate 4018, on the other hand, is a Supercardioid Microphone with a shape that is frequency-independent and that has an identical sound colour around the microphone. The usual rear lobe heard on most supercardioids is minimised to the bare minimum.

This makes this mic much more isolated without sudden frequency-dependent peaks and dips. It too has been designed for a broad range of long-distance broadcast, ENG and film miking applications, including booming, dialogue, interview and table or podium use and it has a big set of modular accessories.

Supercardioid mics are often used on a live stage, both during concerts and spoken-word events to capture the focused sound of an instrument or a voice. The narrow angle of sensitivity helps to minimise the bleed from other sounds on a busy stage.

However, supercardioid mics do suffer from the proximity effect, which causes an increase in bass response the closer the microphone is moved to the sound source. That proximity effect can be undone by using the MMP-B preamp and turning on the first-order low-cut filter at 120Hz in addition to the permanent third-order low-cut at 50Hz.

If you’re going to measure, you’re bound to find some loss of recording quality with the MMP-B preamp because of its filters. In real-world tests — by listening — you must have perfect pitch to hear any difference between the MMP-B and the MMP-C. To me, both sound, well, perfect.

Another thing that surprised me about these mics is the weight of the 4017 model. It’s much less heavy than any other shotgun mic I have tested. That is good news for boompole operators, especially so as the sound quality exceeds that of heavier kit…

Testing the d:dicate 4017 and 4018 with the MMP-C and MMP-B preamp

The d:dicate 4017 – with both the MMP-C and MMP-B preamps – sounds great and very, very accurate. It has transparency in the highs, extreme clarity overall, beautiful low tone representation and it picks up almost nothing off-axis. In fact, this was the first characteristic that struck me. I always thought the MKH 416 did a decent job of noise rejection, but its performance in this respect pales in comparison with the 4017. The 4018 is even yet a tad better at this.

What the d:dicate 4017 does pick up off-axis has the exact same sound colouration as what is dead ahead — there’s absolutely no colouration at all. I doubt if you can do better than this capsule with the MMP-C preamp, except for when you’re recording audio with much booming. In that case, I found you’ll be better off with an MMP-B with its permanent low-cut and two switchable filters. As I said before, I couldn’t hear a difference in the sound quality between the two preamps. That is kind of odd given that the B model comes with digital components that are bound to change the recorded sound at least somewhat.

The d:dicate 4018 is said to suffer from the proximity effect and it does, but not in a way that it becomes disturbing. It’s more a gentle booming that you hear and which you can get rid of completely by using the MMP-B preamp as I said before. An added benefit of the 4018 is its size. It’s so small – even with the MMP-B mounted – that you can place it without disturbing the view of an instrument, for example to pick up the sound from above a grand piano. More importantly, it doesn’t pick up sounds from behind it at all and the 90-degree rejection is yet a tad better than that of the 4017. Needless to say, colouration is a non-issue.

Here are three sound files with me reading the same text. When listening, please be mindful of the fact that I did not position the 4018 correctly, yet the quality of the sound still is quite satisfying in my opinion. Let me know your views in the comments section!

An experiment

I decided to run a non-scientific but useful experiment that I worked out a couple of days before I started trying out the microphones in all kinds of settings. I thought it would be interesting to see what I would need to adjust in post to make the “industry standard” MKH 416 sound the same as the d:dicate 4017. To that effect, I recorded the same audio in the same noisy environment, using Logic Pro X set at 96 kHz and my Apogee Element 24.

I recorded a monologue with the 4017 at my left and the MKH 416 at the same distance and in a mirroring position at my right. I then recorded the same monologue reversing the position of the mics so I was sure that the positioning wouldn’t affect the results that I was bound to hear.

In Logic Pro X, I could now quickly switch between each mic to know where they differ and what to change using iZotope’s Nectar 3 and RX 7 Advanced plug-ins to make the MKH 416 sound the 4017 as closely as possible.

With the d:dicate 4017 sounding clearer, with less room reverb being picked up and a nice, non-booming bass tone that – I can’t put it another way – still sounded “open”, I couldn’t make the MKH 416 sound exactly the same. The Sennheiser picked up more room echos, sounded a bit less punchy, slightly more hollow and a bit muddled in the lows.

I could bring the MKH 416 closer to the d:dicate 4017 by using iZotope’s Nectar EQ with adjustments in the basses and at around 1200Hz, the RX 7 denoiser to reduce the off-axis noise and the RX 7 de-reverb to reduce the echos. None of these adjustments, however, gave me the clarity and the accuracy the d:dicate 4017 is capable of.

Even more important is that I could not ‘correct’ the MKH 416 recording to give the low tones the same “short” or “dry” sound that characterises the 4017; one of the main reasons why many a classical music “Ton Meister” grabs a DPA model instead of other mics to record a symphonic orchestra.

Why DPA Microphones’ mics are so good

The reason why DPA Microphones’ microphones are so good is that microphone abuse is part of their manufacturing process and that they go at great lengths to find a mic’s breaking point sound-wise.

How else can you describe a test they ran with their microphones recording a space shuttle launch only 175m from the rocket engine and exposed to flames and chemicals, or taking the microphones to the Arctic to record ambient sounds at -45°C. They have also taken their microphones into the rain to record raindrops and have demonstrated the omnidirectional microphones’ behaviour after being submerged in water.

All of this knocking about happens for one reason only: to find out how the materials in the capsule behave because it is essential to the stability of a microphone that the materials in the cartridge work well together. They must expand and contract together while exposed to heat or cold.

DPA must be the only company that publishes which materials they use and why. They have a treasure trove of information on this matter on their website. One of the things you learn there is that making microphones that capture sound as accurate as physics allow and which perform in all circumstances you would care to use them doesn’t stop at sputtering a bit of gold on a capsule. It involves an in-depth knowledge of sound and physics and an R&D department that goes to extremes to find the best combination for the most accurate sound capture.

The resulting products are pioneering and the best money can buy. The d:dicate 4017 and 4018 are no exception.

Review: Typinator 8, the text expander which has the user in mind

My favourite text expander Typinator has reached version 8 and except for its Regex capabilities, its assistant for creating forms to enter variable data in an expansion, its calculation features and its ability to set your cursor where you need it after an expansion, Typinator 8 now also offers usage statistics, literal support for inclusion of the Mac’s modifier keys in abbreviations, and time zone support.

The new statistics mode lets you see the number of times you’ve been using abbreviations and sets, as well as how long ago an abbreviation has been used. That’s useful if you want to clean out your collection of expansion sets from time to time.

Better even, you can sort (ascending/descending) your entries by clicking the tiny clock icon (how long ago) or hashtag icon (how often) in the column header. That way, you can instantly see which abbreviations you are using frequently and the ones you may have forgotten about and which are perhaps ready to be thrown over the left.

A feature that I was really surprised to see included in version 8 are what the developers call “Magic Keys”. Those are actually the modifier keys – Shift, Control, Option and Command – which you can now use in abbreviations as if they were regular keys typing literal characters.

If you’re puzzled; don’t worry, I was too, until I started using them and found this novelty to be very efficient. The reason is that you can use them as additional trigger characters that are only rendered as literal characters inside Typinator so you can use the same abbreviation for different extensions and still avoid conflicts.

The new “mini menu bar” right above the expansion field improves the UI by grouping together all of the markers and editing functions. It also groups together the abbreviation options under a separate icon from included scripts and texts. An abbreviation marker group I find particularly interesting is the Time Zone group which is associated with the “Language for Date Elements” group.

These allow you to expand time expansions in languages and a time zone that differ from the one your system is using. So, for example, if you want to enter US-Pacific time in a document that was actually saved in the UK, you can direct Typinator to use Pacific Time for the time expansion and it will automatically create the correct entry without you needing to look it up from a world clock website or similar. And you could enter it in Chinese if need be.

New also is the integration with Ergonis’ own Popchar 8.2 or newer. You can now use Typinator to search for and insert arbitrary Unicode characters by their name or Unicode number. You first enter a prefix for Popchar in Typinator’s quick search, then the number or the name. To me, this was the least eye-popping novelty of the upgrade, but if you’re a coder or a layout designer, you might see things differently.

Finally, with KeyCue 9 you can show your Typinator sets and select the abbreviation you need to expand without having to look it up or remember anything.

As with its previous upgrades, Typinator’s developer keeps adding features and improvements that are incredibly useful at making your work a lot easier and more comfortable. Typinator costs €24.99.

bubblebee windkiller

Sounds for video, presentations, timelapses and FX

Sounds make your presentation, film, or video stand out. Imagine a drama with a scene where the main character, a homeless man, is slurping coffee and you hear a toilet flushing. I guess that would work on most people’s laughing reflex, rather than being disgusted or feeling sorry for the guy.

Here on Visuals Producer, we offer a growing collection of sounds for you to use any way you want. Buying our sound collection will help us from going bankrupt and ending up in the gutter.

So, if you can spare a fiver, we would be very grateful – if you have a use for these sounds – if you would buy a licence. You’ll get an update with each addition of extra sounds that we make until we’ve reached the 500 mark. We’re now at 79, so we’ll still have a long way to go, but your contribution will make us reach 500 sounds much faster than we currently can.

When you buy the set today, you’ll be downloading a folder with 79 24bits/48kHz files.

GET THE LINK TO THE SOUND FOLDER

Thanks for your Help!

news

News: Typinator 8, CalDigit Connect 10G, Affinity Publisher, Affinity Photo & Designer 1.7

Starting with Affinity Photo and Designer, these two apps have been updated to version 1.7 as you undoubtedly know by now.

The updates have a lot in common and bring a much improved and certainly faster RAW processing engine. On my iMac 5K Retina mid-2017, they load my Sony Alpha 700 images much faster than before. The update also comes with a new demosaicing algorithm that is a bit more accurate in rendering the colours and sharpness of my old camera’s files. It should also be more effective at reducing noise and hot pixel removal, but I haven’t tested that yet.

Another new feature is that you now get access to a wider colour space in Affinity Photo (great for HDR). The brush engine was rewritten as well and all-new multi-brushes were added. My personal favourite is the new symmetry mode that works with up to 32 “divisions”.

Batch processing has been improved, a new assets panel is available for quick drag and drop of commonly used elements, and the layers panel has had a complete overhaul and is more efficient than the previous one.

Affinity Designer got new isometric controls that allow you to work directly on any isometric plane – or fit existing elements to a plane with a single click. I tried it out briefly and it’s great to see your designs adapt magically to a different plane.

For those of you who are really digital artists, vector shapes can now possess an unlimited number of strokes and fills, with complete freedom to interleave different attributes and control how they are blended together.

And arrowheads have been added to the stroke panel too, which is a feature even I use on occasion and which I found lacking in previous versions.

There are also improvements to almost all vector tools, including lasso selection of nodes, the pencil tool adding a sculpt mode, a new point transform tool as well as huge improvements to guides, grids and snapping.

Typinator 8

Typinator 8 offers a new statistics mode, where you can see the usage counts for abbreviations and sets, and how long ago an abbreviation has been used most recently. You can also sort your snippets by these values, to see which abbreviations you are using frequently and which ones you may have forgot about.

Another new feature of Typinator 8 are Magic Keys. You can now use the modifier keys Shift, Control, Option, and Command in abbreviations as if they were real characters. This allows you to use them as special trigger characters. You might wonder why, but that soon becomes clear when you have a lot of snippets that you want to give the same abbreviation – that is a surefire way of introducing shortcut conflicts. This offers an elegant way to avoid those conflicts.

A user interface enhancement is the new “mini menu bar” right above the expansion field. Here you can find all markers and editing functions in one central place. A nice side-effect of this improvement is that the expansion field is now wider and you have more space to enter your expansions.

New is the integration with Ergonis’ award-winning PopChar. With PopChar 8.2 or newer installed, you can now use Typinator to search for and insert arbitrary Unicode characters by their name or Unicode number. In combination with a hotkey for Typinator’s quick search, this is a great way to type arbitrary Unicode characters without taking your hands off the keyboard. And with KeyCue installed, you can further increase efficiency by recalling abbreviation sets through that Ergonis app, saving you a trip to Typinator’s Quick Search.

CalDigit Connect 10G

CalDigit just released a new high-performance Thunderbolt 3 10Gb Ethernet Adapter that connects to any Thunderbolt 3 Mac or Windows laptop. For users looking to connect their latest Thunderbolt 3 computers to a server or Local Area Network, the Connect 10G brings performance up to 10Gb/s and connects over distances of 100 meters.

This makes the Connect 10G ideal for shared storage environments. For video users working with 4K video in a shared editing environment, the Connect 10G will allow your Mac or PC  workstations to join a shared storage environment. The Connect 10G also features Wake-on-LAN that allows you to wake up your computer remotely to access your files and no external power is required to use the Connect 10G. It draws power straight from the Thunderbolt 3 port.

The device features AVB over Ethernet, so the adapter follows a set of IEEE standards that ensure that audio and video are transferred in realtime over the Ethernet port without any delay.

Finally, CalDigit says that if you already have an existing Cat 5e or Cat 6 twisted-pair copper cabling network setup that cannot exceed 1Gbps over 100M, the Connect 10G’s NBASE-T technology allows you to achieve data transfer rates that exceed 1Gbps without having to replace your existing Cat 5e and Cat 6 twisted-pair copper cabling network.

Affinity Publisher

At around 18:00 BST, Serif, the developers of Affinity Photo and Designer, are going to be revealing Affinity Publisher, a long awaited competitor for Adobe InDesign (and, up to a point, QuarkXPress).

There’s a live event you can tune into.