Adobe today officially announced its Creative Suite 5 bundle, calling it a "breakthrough release" with full version upgrades of flagship tools.
There are over 250 new features introduced in CS5, including native 64-bit support for Windows and Macs (Photoshop, Premier Pro, and After Effects), new stroke options, better edge detecting technology, and a nifty addition called Content-Aware Fill. Adobe previously posted a demo of its Content-Aware Fill technology (see here), which allows users to quickly remove an object or element from a photo without worrying about filling in the empty background space. With Content-Aware Fill, Photoshop CS5 automatically replaces the removed object with background elements in a matter of seconds, a process that would take far longer if performed manually.
There's a lot included here, such as enabling content and application creation for Flash Player 10.1 and Adobe AIR 2; tighter integration with Nvidia 3D graphics cards, specifically with the Adobe Mercury Playback Engine so CS5 users can open projects faster, refine effects-rich HD sequences in real time, and play back complex projects without rendering; and better online support with Dreamweaver CS5 now supporting Drupal, Joomla, and Wordpress.
CS5 products are scheduled to ship within 30 days. Pre-order and pricing information here.
In a blog post this week, Adobe announced it has been testing out a new updater technology with select beta customers since the company's October 13, 2009 quarterly update. The goal, Adobe says, is to streamline and automate updates with little to no user intervention.
Adobe is apparently happy with the tests so far is now "ready for the next phase of deployment." On Tuesday, April 13, 2010, Adobe said it will activate the new update for all users needing Adobe Reader and Acrobat 9.3.2 and 8.2.2 for Windows and Macintosh.
The new updater will give Windows users the option of selecting "Automatically install updates." If selected, the updater waits for the system to become idle "to avoid disturbing the user" and proceeds to download and install the security patches.
For those concerned about privacy, Adobe promises that it has "no plans to activate the automatic option by default without prior user consent."
The use of a cross-compiler like Adobe's will leave telltale signs in the final code that Apple could easily recognize. Some developers have no choice but to alter their development methods if they intend to put out an iPhone or iPad app. Any work already done in other languages may as well be scrapped, leaving the poor dev back at square one.
This leaves Adobe in a strange place. The Packager for iPhone was supposed to be a big feature in the upcoming Flash CS5. The license was just made available with the new dev preview today, so we'll be interested to see how developers react to this.
Adobe’s stand-alone raw app gives you all the granular photo-hacking horsepower of ACR, plus even more sophisticated photographic adjustments tools and a powerful database tool for managing your collection. And like any good raw app, Lightroom is a nondestructive editor, saving changes to metadata settings, rather than changing the pixels themselves, as Photoshop does.
If you’re only familiar with image editors like Photoshop, Lightroom takes some adjustment. For one thing, there’s no “save” function; if you want to save to another format, like a JPEG or TIFF file, you’ll need to use export. The version we tested, 2.6, is fully 64-bit and robustly supports dual displays.
Version 2 of Lightroom is more tightly integrated with Photoshop, but we recommend that you do as much work in Lightroom as possible. All Lightroom edits are nondestructive, but once you load an image into Photoshop, it’s loaded as a 16-bit-per-pixel TIFF file. Any edits in Photoshop are baked into the pixels, and when you save and exit, the TIFF file shows up in Lightroom with the Photoshop changes. The original raw file is still present, but doesn’t have any of the changes made in Photoshop itself.
Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) isn’t a stand-alone app, but rather an add-on built into Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. Despite its add-on status, ACR offers a rich set of features for tweaking raw files. You can easily adjust exposure, make lens corrections, fix white balance, and do some basic image editing. When you click “done,” Camera Raw creates an XMP file (also known as a “sidecar file”) that reflects the changes you made nondestructively; the actual raw file hasn’t been altered. However, once loaded into Photoshop, any changes made are destructive, and you can’t save the file as a raw file—not even a DNG-variant raw file.
While ACR offers settings for both luminance and color-noise reduction, their overall impact can be hard to discern. ACR’s noise reduction certainly isn’t in the same class as Bibble’s Noise Ninja. And since ACR is itself an add-on, it doesn’t have its own set of aftermarket filters. Indeed, at its heart, ACR is really just a one-dimensional app for modifying the specific properties intrinsic to raw files. It’s got some limited image-editing tools—like crop and straighten—but its real strength lies in easily adjusting basic photographic attributes, like exposure and white balance. Its feature set is limited.
Both Foxit Software and Adobe Systems are looking at ways of warning users about a new PDF attack threatening system security. Didier Stevens, an IT consultant with Contraste Europe, discovered the vulnerability, which entails getting PDF viewers to automatically execute embedded executables when the PDF file is opened.
"After receiving word of a recent security concern, the Foxit development team immediately looked into the issue, confirmed the risk and resolved the situation quickly," the company told eWEEK in a statement. "Foxit expects to release a new version of Foxit Reader with this fix on April 2, 2010.
"To address the specific problems outlined, Foxit has added a warning dialog box that will pop up when a PDF file is opened with Foxit Reader, asking the user to agree to execute or not," the company continued. "This solution adds a layer of safety yet maintains Foxit Reader’s compliance with current PDF standards."
Adobe already has a warning box in place, but Stevens claims there's a way for hackers to partially alter the dialog. According to eWEEK, Adobe is discussing the potential threat but didn't say if it would take any further precautions.
Soccer fans around the world are eagerly waiting for the 2010 FIFA World Cup to kick off. Soccer's marquee event will virtually transform host nation South Africa into the mecca for the sport's impassioned followers around the world. Like with any other major world event or cataclysm, the internet's dark alleys are filled with people ready to tax the outpouring of human emotion during the World Cup. It is likely that some of their nefarious plans are already afoot, even though there is a fair bit to go before the start of the event.
Symantec recently discovered a “targeted attack” that quite clearly tries to exploit the mounting soccer fever. Thankfully, the attack was thwarted before it could cause any damage. The attackers tried to drop their malicious payload using an email message ostensibly sent by a legitimate African Safari organiser, Greenlife. To the untrained eye, the sender had attached a “highly informative World Cup Travel Guide” with the message. But in reality the attached file was a modified variant of the real Greenlife's actual PDF guide. The actual PDF document was first debased with malicious code to exploit a recently patched vulnerability in Adobe Reader before being forwarded as an attachment.
“The patch for this critical rated vulnerability was released by Adobe on February 16, 2010. Since then we have observed a large number of targeted attacks attempting to exploit this vulnerability. Proof-of-Concept exploit code is available in the Internet which is contributing to the large number of observed attacks,” Daren Lewis, a Symantec employee wrote on the MessageLabs Intelligence blog.
Targeted attacks are known to be precise and less spammy. For instance, Symantec only has to deal with less than 100 such attacks every day, despite it blocking around 500,000 malicious emails per day. Such attacks usually target organizations, with people at the top of the pecking order more likely to be attacked first. This way the attackers can gain access to a pretty large chunk of that organization's sensitive information. In this case, the malicious email was sent to a person only identified as “a user in a major international organisation that brings together governments from all over the world.”
The HP Slate’s resemblance to Apple’s iPad looks to be no more than skin deep. Sure, the two devices do basically do the same thing, but Slate looks to offer a bit more potential, if the HP/Abode promotional videos are to believed, with Windows 7 and Flash support.
The tiff between Apple and Adobe raises some key concern about the quality of the Flash application. Sure, it drives a lot of content on the web, but at what cost to hardware? One, it appears, Apple doesn’t want to bear (and thus has hitched it’s wagon to HTML5). Adobe, understandably, doesn’t want to give up its content delivery hegemony on the Internet. Touting the amount of Flash content on the web, and demonstrating it can be used, and used without troublesome hardware consequences, is a good move to negate any bad public relations emerging from Apple’s very public stance.
Adobe may be stacking the deck in its presentation, however. According to Engadget, “Flash is said to be hardware-accelerated on the Slate, which suggests something other than a bone-stock Atom setup in there--we'd guess it's an Atom plus a Broadcom Crystal HD Accelerator”. How much of an impact this has is open to discussion, but it suggests that non-accelerated versions may move slower. Could Adobe’s approach later backfire, when users of other tablet devices don’t get this promised level of performance?
How well Apple’s Flash strategy plays out will be known shortly--if the iPad not just sells, but satisfies, then Apple made the right bet (for its customer base). We’ll have to wait and see later this year, when it is expected HP will release the Slate, whether Flash means all that much to consumers.
Earlier this week security researcher Aviv Raff warned of a potentially serious security bug in Adobe's Download Manager that could expose users to a zero-day attack. At the time, Adobe said it was aware of the issue and working on a patch.
Fast forward to today and Adobe has released a security update intended to plug up the security hole. The update affects certain users who downloaded Adobe Reader for Windows or Adobe Flash Player for Windows prior to February 23, 2010.
Adobe classifies this as a "critical" udpate and outlines steps above mentioned users can take to verify whether or not they are vulnerable. Two ways of doing that include:
Ensure that the C:\Program Files\NOS\folder and its contents ("NOS files") are not present on your system.
Click "Start">"Run" and type "services.msc." Ensure that "getPlus(R) Helper" is not present in the list of services.
If NOS files are found, Adobe recommends uninstalling the Download Manager via the Control panel. Alternately, users can delete "getPlus(R) Helper" from the list of services and then delete the C:\Program Files\NOS\folder and its contents.
Adobe has released the third beta version of Flash 10.1, and it comes with a nice treat for the early adopter on the move. Beta 3 finally adds GPU acceleration support for the Intel GMA 500 chipset. This is the graphics hardware found in the majority of netbooks. What does this mean in practical terms? Well, just 720p Flash video on a netbook, that’s all.
Over at Engadget they were able to coax a Dell Mini 10 to play back 1080p content as well. Both Youtube and CBS streaming appeared to work well enough with minor lag. Still, when any previous attempts to play this content brought a netbook to a grinding halt, you can’t be too picky.
The results are good for a beta. Sure, there’s still some jitter but it’s a vast improvement. Adobe has been racing to complete the update of the much maligned plug-in. The new beta gives us hope that the wait may be worth it. Get the beta 3 version of Flash right here and enjoy.