Archive for Reviews

Review: iPhoto the missing manual by Peter Sanderson

iPhoto the missing manual®

By David Pogue (original author, editor) and Lesa Snider (updates)

Published by O’Reilly Media, 2014, $ 34.99

This book, by Lesa Snider, covers iPhoto version 9.5 for Mac and 2.0 for iOS. Note that iPhoto for iOS is no longer available from the US iTunes or App store, see “Photos” in iOS8.

This well-written update to previous editions has screenshots and step-by-step instructions for both the beginner and professional. It opens with a history of iPhoto and moves to what’s new in version 9.5, introduces 2.0 for iOS and then takes the reader directly into iPhoto Basics. The “Basic” segment covers everything from how the application works, requirements (OSX Mavericks), through working with photos and a segment on using “Faces and Places”.

Part 2 covers Editing and Sharing and is well detailed for the beginner and advanced user. The author then covers advanced operations and file management, even suggestion other applications to use in conjunction with, or which may suit the user better than, iPhoto.

Part 4 covers iPhoto for iOS, which is informative for those who use this application.

This edition encouraged me to build an iPhoto Library and work my way through the book as if the author was sitting with me. The beauty of this release is that it is backward compatible with previous versions of iPhoto, although not all features are available to the earlier OS’. Look for a possible update to iPhoto 9.6 when Yosemite (OSX 10.10) becomes available.

I found the segments on using Key Words, Places and Faces of particular interest as these allow the user to quickly search for photos without having to wade through an entire library.

The author provides well written, yet short, Tips and Notes on use throughout the book to help the reader with details. I was put at ease knowing that editing does not involve the original file, instead an “alias” is located within the iPhoto database. This allows the user to revert to the original if the editing result is not what is desired.

I would recommend this manual to anyone with a Mac who shoots digital photos. Having used other vendor’s programs in the past, I found iPhoto easier to use because of this well thought out and written book. The examples are easy to read and follow and the investment is worth the minor expense. Rates a 5 out of 5 on my scale, Mahalo for the kokua Lesa.

Peter Sanderson

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Review: NuGuard KX iPhone Case and NuGuard KXs protective cover

Product: NuGuard KX iPhone Case and NuGuard KXs protective cover
Manufacturer: NewerTech
Price: Starting at $25 for case and $9.99 for cover
Reviewed by: Lorene Romero

NewerTech has recently updated their product line of NuGuard KX and introduced the new impact X-Orbing screen armor called KXs. Alone each one of them gives phenomenal protection to your IOS devices, but bring them together and you have a winning combination.

First off, the NuGuard KX case uses state of the art X-Orbing gel to protect against impact damage and scratches. This one-piece case only takes seconds to install and best of all it is not bulky.

The brand new NuGuard KXs is a triple layer X-Orbing screen protector and is built to prevent scratch, shatter and impact damage. It is virtually invisible and very easy to put on. This case comes in two styles: case friendly or full size.

In tandem these products are a lifesaver. I now have an iPhone 5s and love it. I’ll never forget a hard-learned lesson when I dropped my iPhone 4 a week after I bought it and cracked the screen. That annoying crack reminded me daily how fragile our phones are. As soon as I got my new phone, I also bought the NuGuard KX. Earlier this year the KXs was introduced and I am the proud owner of that also.

So run, don’t walk, to buy your own NuGuard KX and KXs products now.

NuGuard KX can be purchased starting at $25

NewGuard KXs


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SV600 ScanSnap review by Amanda Pearson

This is a co-review done by ScanSnap Squadmember Lorene Romero and Amanda Lee Pearson, Graphic Designer of Okini Design.

As technology grows and provides us with more and more options to organize or work more efficiently, I often feel overwhelmed by too many options. I am also stubborn. When I find something that works, why change it? For example, I own a compact ScanSnap S1300 desktop scanner (since replaced by the S1300i) and absolutely love it. I use it everyday for various paper organizational needs. But I am a designer who also works in a colorful, three-dimensional world. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to stick a cool art book into my scanner to capture its inspiring visual brilliance.

For the full review please visit:

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Product review: PDFpenPro for Mac version 6.0.4

Product: PDFpenPro for Mac version 6.0.4
Creator:  Smile Software,
Price: $99.95
Operating system: Mac OS X 10.7 or later
Reviewed by Amanda Lee Pearson, Graphic Designer of Okini Design and NCMUG Board Director
Rating: Awesome, 4.75 out of 5 Macs
PDFpenPro for Mac version 6.0.4
(special NOTE:  NCMUG members receive a 20% special discount. Valid until August 30, 2013). This offer is available only through the NCMUG announcement list, not on this public site.
As technology grows and provides us with more and more options to organize or work more efficiently, I often feel overwhelmed by too many options that don’t quite have everything I want in one program.
As a designer, I strive to customize even the simplest of forms such as QuickBooks invoices.  Yes, though Intuit has done a great job providing better templates, the things I cannot do is mark PAID with custom payment details for clients who have submitted deposits, for example, or add a signature or written note of thanks.  My workaround for this has been to 1) enter all financial details into QuickBooks for record keeping, and then 2) recreate the invoices in InDesign for those customized details.  I realized I was doubling my work, but willing to sacrifice time for a better client experience with my documents.
Well, no more!
Solution?  PDFpenPro by Smile Software.
Can I say that I love this program more than some of my relatives?  (shhh…)
With PDFpenPro’s library of graphics, I can now save my signature in my favorite purple color as well as my branded Okini graphics to tag onto any PDF document.  I can also save groups of text boxes to update payment or deposit details for each project.
And shall we start dancing down the path of other things PDFpenPro can do?
1.    Customize those W2 forms that clients inevitably need during tax season
2.    Replace text in original PDF with editable text blocks
3.    Move, resize, copy and delete images in original PDF
4.    Perform Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on scanned documents
5.    Converts websites into multi-page PDF documents (an option with Pro version only)
6.    Insert and remove pages; re-order pages in a PDF by drag-and-drop
7.    Markup documents with highlighting, underscoring and strike-through
8.    Available in English, Spanish, Japanese, German, French and Italian.
9.    If you sign up on their email list, they will provide FREE wonderful tips to make it even easier to use their program












Bottom Line:

PDFpenPro by Smile Software is amazing.  For such a powerful program, it is so easy to use and makes me feel like “I finally know what I’m doing.”   Stop wasting your time with cutting and pasting or other workarounds.  This is a no-brainer and total win.  You won’t be disappointed!

NCMUG Board Director Amanda Lee Pearson has owned and operated Okini Design for 17 years, offering distinctive graphic design for marketing communication.  She also serves as Co-Vice Chairman for the Windsor Chamber of Commerce.

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Review: NuGuard KX Protective Case for iPhone 5 & 4/4s

NuGuard KX Protective Case for iPhone 5 & 4/4s
Manufactured by: Newer Technology

Reviewed by Lorene Romero
Price $35

I love my iPhone; it’s sexy, fun, easy to use and I carry it with me at all times. The only downfall of the iPhone  is that it has glass and is fragile. Let’s be honest, I tend to be a little rough on all my equipment and I had a crack on the screen the first week I got it.

When I was down at Macworld I visited the OWC booth and discovered a case that was perfect for me. It’s called the NuGuard KX by Newer Technology and is mil-spec drop certified.

NuGuard KX is lightweight, comes in eight colors (I chose red so it is easy to find), and is easy to install and remove. What I’m most impressed by is the case, which is soft, flexible and has the “X-Orbiting” gel technology which evenly distributes impact energy, which protects your iPhone if dropped.

If you’re looking for a great case for your iPhone, I would highly recommend the NuGuard KX Protective Case for iPhone.

You can purchase the NuGuard RX from OWC at: Romero

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Book Review: Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4 By Stephen Laskevitch

Review by Joan O’Brien

Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4
Stephen Laskevitch

Rocky Nook Inc. Distributed by O’Reilly Media

List Price: $44.95

With the advent of the digital camera, we have all become, in our own minds, photo journalists, family archivists, nature and portrait photographers and recorders of history but we have a DAM (digital asset management) problem. Since we have no film and negatives any more, all of our digital images are kept on computers or separate disc drives and, hopefully, backed up on more or in the cloud. Now we spend time looking all over when we try to remember where we put the picture of Uncle Herbert’s 90th birthday, the great Hawaiian sunset, a sister’s new house or the grandchild with cake batter all over as well as editing and enhancing those images.

Stephen Laskevitch’s book Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4 can be a big help to devise a plan to organize and edit photos. Photoshop, of course, is Adobe’s gold standard for image editing and Lightroom is its data base program that keeps track of photos. Together they make a powerful pair, along with their cousin Bridge, a photo viewer, there is no end to your photographic capabilities.

On page 2 the author says the book is for those who want to learn the basic tools and image editing steps with the two programs to create professional looking images. A beginner or a professional photographer will be equally at home using the book. He takes a very conversational tone as he provides some good background on basic terms and concepts of photography and then moves on to help configure your system for the programs and then gives a hands-on tour of the programs. Each page of the book has a visible color coded margin tab so you can find relevant information about that program. He gives you his reasons for his suggested plan as well as alternatives here and there that might also work. Then he moves on to workflow steps. He uses Photoshop CS6, the latest version from Adobe but his information is applicable to earlier versions. You don’t have to be an expert in either program when you start but when you finish you will feel very confident with your photo editing skills and the organization of your digital assets.

The key to keeping track of digital images is to use Lightroom and the author takes you through the learning curve. Once you understand the terminology, how the program works and what it can do, you are on your way. The first step is importing all of your photos into the catalog in the library module in a way that suits your personal organization or workflow. If you don’t have one, you will need one to get started. Your choice might be chronological or by subject, then you can drop down a notch to months or subtopics and on with more specifics that fit your particular choices. It may take some time to gather your photos from all the places they have been filed, but once you make that effort, each time you download additions to your library it will be much easier and much better organized.

The other trick is learning the value of key words, ratings and metadata so that you can retrieve photos from the catalog in the library module. A picture of the Golden Gate Bridge might include key words, water, San Francisco, boats, bridges, landmarks, etc. Enter any of those key words and you will be able to retrieve that picture, along with any others that fit that parameter without looking through a lot of files and folders. The authors also describes the use of folders and collections.

Lightroom has double value. Along with the organization of your images in its data base, it has powerful photo editing features. Your digital assets can be retrieved and then edited in the development module non destructively. A small file is added to the photo indicating the changes and their history but the original is not changed, ever. Lightroom has photo editing capabilities similar to Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw so you can organize and edit your work with one stop shopping. Photoshop then is the place to go for more editing and creativity with its powerful features and filters.

The author is very helpful as he describes the concepts and features of the programs and gives step by step directions for using them. It is like having a coach or mentor by your side. The book is well illustrated with screen shots for a clearer understanding of the concepts and directions. If you haven’t used Bridge, you will learn the value of it and it’s photo viewing capabilities. If you don’t know Photoshop well or have forgotten a lot you did know, nearly half the book focuses on Photoshop so the book works well as a primer or as a refresher and with its Lightroom component the book gives you more than enough information in a clear and easy manner to improve or expand your photographic world.

Joan O’Brien

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Elgato EyeTV review

Review by Maria Arguello

EyeTV Mobile



Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd, 4th, and 5th generations) and iPad. Requires iOS 5.1 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.

Three out of five stars.

The Elgato EyeTV Mobile is a TV tuner that lets you watch live streaming TV on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch over the air without Internet access.

Packaging is quite beautiful. It comes in a black box. The tuner is located and visible on the upper deck, the rest of the accessories are cradled within a compartment underneath.  It has a built-in antenna and a larger external one for better reception. The QuickStart Guide is printed on the box flap itself. You’ll need excellent vision or a magnifying lens to read the tiny white on black print. My EyeTV Mobile needed charging which took about 4 hours to fully charge. You get a USB cable to connect to a power source when not connected to the iPad or iPhone like a computer. A red light indicates low power and green a full charge. Once fully charged it can last beyond 12 hours. New dock connectors may need a Lighting-to-30 pin adapter.

Elgato’s EyeTV Mobile plugs into your dock connector to provide over the air access to TV stations. The moment you connect the EyeTV Mobile to your iPad or iPhone it connects to the App Store to download the free app. Once the app installation is finished, position the antenna, open the app, and follow the instructions.

The scanned channels in Bala Cynwyd, PA were WCAU and WTFX Fox. The picture came in very clearly. Adjustments are available for pause and resume live TV, close captioning, and small screen to large screen view.

The second time I scanned for channels, I got three; the same two mentioned already plus ei qubo but the resolution was blurry and the sound choppy. It was more of a kid’s channel.

I had a cable black out for a day and the EyeTV Mobile came in handy at least to watch the news on the limited two scanned channels.

I have been a fan of Elgato products for many years.  I can’t justify the price of this product for just three channels of TV viewing however.

Pros: You don’t need the Internet.

Cons:  It eats your battery and your data allowance quite rapidly. Needs PIP. Limited scanned TV channels.

Maria O. Arguello has been a long-time member of NCMUG and an Apple evangelista. She enjoys teaching new technology, swimming, fine dining, family, friends, and her Mac addiction.

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My Pages book review

Review by Wayne Till

My Pages - a book review

My Pages by Gary Rosenzweig, published by QUE books, 2013. $24.99

My Pages, by Gary Rosenzweig is a thorough examination of Pages capabilities with step by step instructions.

If all you intend to use Pages for is general correspondence and an occasional holiday letter or flyer, the little booklet that comes with iWork and the Pages Help menu are all you need. However, if you want to use Pages for business correspondence, newsletters, brochures, or other more advanced projects, this is the book for you!

The book is well-written with illustrated examples and step by step instructions for virtually any task Pages can handle.

It starts with word processing documents and encourages you create a document and follow along with their sample. It then encourages you to create a Page Layout document, and explains the differences and advantages of each format.

The author then gets down to the features that advanced users are looking for, such as: adding images; wrapping text around images; adding tables headers, and footnotes; creating merge documents; adding hyperlinks; text styles; creating your own templates; and creating charts. The book also discusses Pages integration with Numbers and the Address Book app (or Contacts app).

I’ve used both MS Word and PageMaker in the past, and Pages can handle 75% or more of the tasks those programs can do. I didn’t realize all of its capabilities before reading this book. It is quite amazing for a program that retails for $79! But to take full advantage of Pages capabilities, you need a guide like this one. It is easy to read and easy to follow the examples, and I recommend it.

Wayne Till

My Pages by Gary Rosenzweig, published by QUE books, 2013. $24.99


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