Software en Audacity Crash Course <!--paging_filter--><h3><span style="font-weight: normal;"><img src="/files/u162579/audacity-logo_0.png" alt="Audacity Logo" title="Audacity Logo" width="200" height="200" style="float: right;" />Turn your PC into a music computer with the best free audio editor</span></h3> <p><strong><a href="" target="_blank">Audacity</a></strong>’s been around for a long time—since mid-2000—and for good reason. It’s a relatively lightweight, open-source, and completely free audio editor that can handle pretty much every task you throw at it. Need to edit together a podcast? No problem. Looking to do some simple noise reduction? Looking to turn your PC into a <strong>music computer</strong>? Audacity’s got you covered.</p> <p>Although it’s available for free, it’s not exactly the most intuitive program. The interface isn’t necessarily dated, but it does look pretty spartan alongside programs like Adobe Photoshop and even Microsoft Office. Getting up and running with Audacity isn’t hard, but it does take a little know-how.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">The Toolbar</span></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/toolbar.jpg" alt="Audacity Toolbar" title="Audacity Toolbar" width="600" height="109" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The toolbar of Audacity is home to all of the app’s basic tools.</strong></p> <p>The first thing you’ll want to get familiar with is Audacity’s packed toolbar. It’s filled with tools, and fortunately, they’re all labeled. Hover over a button, slider, or drop-down box, and you should see a text label pop-up with the name of the tool. There are a lot of tools, but you really only need a small subset of them for all but the most demanding projects.&nbsp;</p> <p>Make note of the playback controls—play, pause, record, et cetera. They’re essential to all audio editing since you’ll want to constantly be reviewing your work as you go along. Next, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got your output and input devices set correctly. Both should be set to your Windows default devices—if they aren’t, make sure you select the correct ones in the dropdown. Once you get your audio into Audacity—we’ll cover that in a second—you can monitor your levels in the output and input level monitors (usually somewhere near the center of the toolbar).&nbsp;</p> <p>You’ll also want to make sure that you’re always aware of which cursor tool is currently selected. The standard Selection Tool is exactly what you’d expect; it’s a cursor that lets you mark your position on a track and highlight specific sections. The other essential tool is the Time Shift Tool which lets you move clips along the timeline.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Getting Audio Into Audacity</span></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/import.jpg" alt="Audacity Import" title="Audacity Import" width="600" height="439" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Importing is a cinch.</strong></p> <p>If you’re working with pre-recorded audio, getting it into Audacity is just a matter of jumping into the File menu and selecting Import &gt; Audio—hit Ctrl+Shift+I if you’re feeling fancy. Find your audio files and they should pop into Audacity as separate tracks.</p> <p>If, on the other hand, you want to record a voiceover or instrumental track directly into Audacity, all you have to do is check to make sure that your input levels are set appropriately (a maxed out slider is usually fine) and click the record button. Clicking stop will end the recording whereas clicking pause will let you continue recording on the same track.&nbsp;</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Editing Your Audio</span></h3> <p>Now you can get down to the fun part: actually editing your audio. The tools and effects you’ll use will depend on what you’re trying to accomplish, but we’ll run through some basic tasks that most projects will require.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/remove_audio_menu.jpg" alt="Audacity Remove Audio" title="Audacity Remove Audio" width="600" height="331" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Remove Audio dropdown in the Edit menu will be your audio-editing brother-in-arms.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Most audio editing projects requires a fair bit of cutting, splitting, and rearranging sections of a track—or multiple separate tracks. Cutting, splitting, silencing, trimming, and deleting is all handled in the Remove Audio section of the Edit menu. The shortcuts are simple and worth learning since these are common tasks in any editing endeavour. Highlight the section of the track you want to manipulate and select the action you want completed. Trimming removes everything but the highlighted area on any continuous piece of audio. Cutting moves the selected clip to your clipboard, and shifts the remaining pieces over. A split cut or delete removes the selected audio, and preserves the empty space between the two remaining clips.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/effects_menu.jpg" alt="Audacity Effects" title="Audacity Effects" width="600" height="390" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Like a kid in a effects store?</strong></p> <p>Most of the other things you’d want to do to an audio track is under the Effects menu. Here you can amplify, bass boost, change pitch, fade in and out, and normalize audio. Most of the effects are self explanatory and work as you’d expect. Some of the commands lets you select specific settings when you click on the effect.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/bass_boost.jpg" alt="Audacity Bass Boost" title="Audacity Bass Boost" width="321" height="178" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Pump up the bass!</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Bass boost gives you control over Frequency and the amount of Boost. Other effects like Fade In and Fade Out simply alter the audio without any confirmation. Pay attention the waveform and you’ll see it turn into a gradual fade. The expansive effects menu is one of Audacity’s greatest features. It’s the reason why the program has been a freeware staple since it's release.</p> <h3><span style="font-weight: normal;">Exporting the Finished Product</span></h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u162579/export_menu.jpg" alt="Audacity Export" title="Audacity Export" width="600" height="429" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Where and how you want it are your choice.</strong></p> <p>Once you’re done editing, you’ll want to get your audio out of Audacity into a format that works for your project. Audacity supports a pretty large number of formats, although exporting as an MP3 requires an external codec. If all you want to do is get your file out as a WAV, FLAC, or any of the other available formats, you just have to go to File &gt; Export and select where you want it to be saved and the format you want it in.</p> <p>MP3 file exports are available after downloading the LAME MP3 encoder. It’s completely free, but can’t be distributed with Audacity directly because of software patents. Head over to the LAME download page and download the “Lame v.399.3 for Windows.exe” installer. Start up the installer and don’t change the default destination of the program. Once it’s finished, try to export your Audacity project as an MP3 and you should be asked to find “lame_enc.dll”. Go to “C:\Program Files\Lame for Audacity” and select the dll. Your project should export as an MP3 file and you’re ready to enjoy your finished product in an audio player of your choice.</p> <p>You probably aren’t an audio editing expert yet, but hopefully you’re well on your way to editing out unwanted noise, adding fades to clips, and editing homebrew podcasts with Audacity.</p> <p><em>Follow Ben on <a href="" target="_blank">Twitter</a>&nbsp;and <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>.</em></p> audacity audio editor beginners crash course freeware music computer Software tutorial Features Tue, 19 Aug 2014 23:02:33 +0000 Ben Kim 27534 at Rebooted King's Quest Adventure Game Won't Be a Point and Click <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/kingsquest.jpg" alt="King's Quest" title="King's Quest" width="228" height="144" style="float: right;" />King's Quest is coming back in a different way</h3> <p>News broke last week at Gamescom that Activision is bringing back the Sierra brand, which it will use as a launching ground for different indie developed titles. One of the first will be a reimagined version of <em>King's Quest</em> developed by The Odd Gentlemen, a small game studio known for <em>The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom</em>. There aren't a lot of details to share just yet, but one thing we do know is that the <strong>reimagined King's Quest won't be a point-and-click game</strong>.</p> <p>"There's not much I can say about King's Quest," Activision's MacLean Marshall posted to Twitter. "All I can say is that I've seen it, and it's not a point-and-click game. But it looks awesome."</p> <p>The Odd Gentlemen later took to Twitter to clarify that even though it won't be a point-and-click title like the original, "the game is very much an adventure game. It doesn't only use the mouse."</p> <p>Marshall had a lot more to say to <a href="" target="_blank"><em>GameInformer</em></a> about the sudden Sierra movement,<a href="" target="_blank"><em></em></a> though nothing too specific about King's Quest, other than Activision might allow more than one studio to use the same characters and universe. Color us intrigued.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> adventure game king's quest point-and-click Sierra Software News Mon, 18 Aug 2014 19:49:40 +0000 Paul Lilly 28370 at Microsoft Yanks Patch Tuesday Kernel Update Containing a BSOD Bug <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/bsod.jpg" alt="BSOD" title="BSOD" width="228" height="171" style="float: right;" />Just when you thought that BSODs were a thing of the past</h3> <p>After installing Microsoft's August 2014 Patch Tuesday updates, you may have noticed some wonky behavior in Windows. If you're especially unluckly, you may have even been experiencing those dreaded Blue Screen of Death errors that have largely been eradicated in recent years. It turns out <strong>there's some potentially buggy code that could cause BSODs after installing the updates</strong>, which prompted Microsoft to pull the patch offline while it investigates the issue.</p> <p>"Microsoft is investigating the behavior in which systems may crash with a 0x50 Stop error message (bugcheck) after any of the following updates are installed:</p> <ul> <li>2987291: MS14-045: Description of the security update for kernel-mode drivers: August 12, 2014</li> <li>2970228: Update to support the new currency symbol for the Russian ruble in Windows</li> <li>2975719: August 2014 update rollup for Windows RT 8.1, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2</li> <li>2975331: August 2014 update rollup for Windows RT, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2012</li> </ul> <p>This condition may be persistent and may prevent the system starting correctly," Microsoft says.</p> <p>There are a couple of other known issues associated with the update, both of which relate to fonts, though the BSOD problem is by far the most concerning. If you're negatively affected by the update, or simply don't want to risk that something will go wrong, Microsoft details a <a href="" target="_blank">step-by-step instructions</a> to get things working again.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> blue screen of death BSOD microsoft Patch Tuesday Security Software News Mon, 18 Aug 2014 19:20:33 +0000 Paul Lilly 28369 at Blizzard's Bumping Up the Price of World of Warcraft Subscriptions in the U.K. <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/wow_2.jpg" alt="WoW" title="WoW" width="228" height="165" style="float: right;" />As subscribers flee, subscription pricing goes up</h3> <p>Gravity ensures that most of what goes up must also come down (even that helium filled balloon will return to Earth one day, minus the helium inside), but when it comes to World of Warcraft, the world's most popular MMORPG, the opposite is true. That's to say that hot on the heels of Blizzard Activision announcing that <strong>WoW's number of subscribers have gone down, the price of a subscription is going up. </strong></p> <p>"We regularly look at our pricing around the world and from time to time we make changes in light of local and regional market conditions. As such, we want to give everyone a heads-up that we will shortly be adjusting the pound sterling subscription price of World of Warcraft," Blizzard Activision <a href="" target="_blank">announced on</a>.</p> <p>Beginning November 13, a monthly sub will rise to £9.99 for 30 days (up from £8.99), to £28.17 for 90 days (up from £25.17), and £52.14 for 180 days (up from £46.14). The suggested retail price of the 60-day prepaid time card will be £20.99.</p> <p>Players with recurring/auto-renewing subscriptions at the time of the price change will keep their current price for two years, as long as there are no interruptions.</p> <p>Some 800,000 players fled World of Warcraft in the last quarter, bringing the total number of subscribers to 6.8 million. That still qualifies WoW as biggest MMORPG in the world, though it's a far cry from its peak of 12 million in 2010.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> activision blizzard Draenor games MMORPG Software world of warcraft News Mon, 18 Aug 2014 18:53:48 +0000 Paul Lilly 28368 at Microsoft Releases Hotfix for Recent Internet Explorer Speed Issues <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="" alt="IE Hotfix" title="IE Hotfix" width="228" height="195" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>Couple of recent security updates to blame</h3> <p>When a Microsoft exec revealed that company currently has no plans of porting Internet Explorer over to Android and iOS during a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, we were left scratching our heads as to why that might be. Here’s a possible explanation: It could be that the <strong>Internet Explorer team is too busy fixing IE for Windows</strong> to build entirely new versions of the browser.</p> <p>No sooner had Microsoft finished patching 26 Internet Explorer vulnerabilities as part of its August Patch Tuesday update than it realized Internet Explorer was a tad slow as a result of all the recent patching and that the issue was serious enough to warrant an out-of-band fix.</p> <p>“After you apply the MS14-037 (July 8, 2014) or MS14-051 (August 12, 2014) cumulative security update for Internet Explorer, web applications that implement consecutive modal dialog boxes may cause Internet Explorer to become slow and unresponsive over time. This issue occurs in Internet Explorer versions 7 through 11,” Microsoft wrote in it security advisory. </p> <p>In case you’ve the security updates that are to blame for this issue, all you need to do is to download the appropriate hotfix file based on your operating system and browser combination from this <a href="" target="_blank">link</a>.</p> <p>Follow Pulkit on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a></p> browser hotfix Internet Explorer microsoft patch Software update News Mon, 18 Aug 2014 05:40:36 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 28362 at Play 'Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare' Free for 72 Hours <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/pvzgardenwarfare.jpg" alt="Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare" title="Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare" width="228" height="128" style="float: right;" />Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare sprouts on EA's GameTime</h3> <p>The original Plants vs. Zombies hooked gamers on its unique and quirky style of tower defense, and to this day it's a fun time waster, especially if you've never played it before. It was even great (and arguably better) on tablets, though that's a discussion for a different day. Today's topic is <strong>Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare, a $30 third-person online shooter that's free through EA's Game Time program</strong> for a limited time.</p> <p>In case you're not familiar with it, Game Time is EA's way of offering gamers an extended trial of games, and to promote its Origin digital distribution service. At present, you can download the full version of PvZ Garden Warfare at no cost and play it for 72 hours. Should you decide to buy the game when the timer runs out, you'll retain all your progress, saved games, unlocked characters and weapons, and other goodies.</p> <p>Not all gamers are fans of EA's Origin service, and for some, that might be a deal killer. However, we have to give props to EA for offering promotions like this, which is probably a necessity if it's going to try and compete with Valve's Steam platform, which also frequently runs promotions and tantalizing sales.</p> <p>If you want to give PvZ Garden Warfare a spin this weekend, <a href="" target="_blank">head over to Origin</a> and claim your extended trial.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> EA Electronic Arts games gametime origin plants vs. zombies garden warfare pvz Software News Fri, 15 Aug 2014 19:06:11 +0000 Paul Lilly 28357 at Get a Sneak Peek of Window 9 in September or October <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/windows_9_1.jpg" alt="Windows 9" title="Windows 9" width="228" height="173" style="float: right;" />Microsoft is planning a technology preview of Threshold next month</h3> <p>Now that Microsoft is no longer bothering itself with major updates for Windows 8.1, the company can switch focus to its next operating system codenamed "Threshold," or Windows 9 if you think Microsoft will keep the numbering scheme going. What will Windows 9 bring to the table? If that's a question you'd like answered, stay tuned -- <strong>Microsoft is reportedly planning a "technology preview" of Windows 9</strong> either late next month or early October.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">According to <em>CNET</em></a> and the multiple sources it spoke with who wish not to be named, anyone who installs the technology preview of Windows 9 will be required to accept subsequent monthly updates that are automatically pushed out. One of the sources "who has provided accurate information on Windows in the past" added that the tech preview will be available to anyone interested.</p> <p>Microsoft hasn't said much about Threshold or confirmed any features, though there have been a number of supposed leaks showing off different aspects of Windows 9, including a new mini Start Menu. If the leaked content is true, there will also be windowed Metro-style applications on the Desktop, virtual desktops, and no more Charms bar (except on tablets).</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> microsoft operating system OS Software threshold windows 9 News Fri, 15 Aug 2014 18:38:55 +0000 Paul Lilly 28356 at 11 Awesome Tips and Tricks to Become a Google Maps Guru <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u69/google_maps_guru.jpg" alt="Google Maps Ninja" title="Google Maps Ninja" width="228" height="152" style="float: right;" /></p> <h3>Never get lost again with Google Maps</h3> <p>Assuming you have an Internet connection and can read this -- and who doesn't these days? -- then there's a strong possibility you're at least a little bit familiar with Google Maps. Maybe you use it to look up driving directions before heading to a concert at the other end of the state, or fire it up to find a gas station when the needle creeps uncomfortably close to E. But did you know you can use Google Maps for suggestions on what to do when you're in a new area? Or zoom in or out with one hand?</p> <p>Google Maps is constantly changing (for the better), with new and enhanced features being added at an almost breakneck pace. It's pretty mature at this point, but if all you're doing is typing in directions, you're missing out on just how slick this piece of software is.</p> <p>The good news is, you've come to the right place. <strong>We've put together a gallery of 10 gnarly tips and tricks that will level up your Google Maps-fu to Guru status</strong>. Let's get started!</p> directions gallery google maps navigation Software tips tricks Features Thu, 14 Aug 2014 22:07:55 +0000 Paul Lilly and Jimmy Thang 28226 at Internet Explorer 8 Support to End in Early 2016 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="" alt="Internet Explorer 8" title="Internet Explorer 8" width="228" height="171" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>Per one estimate, IE 8 still accounts for over one-fifth of the PC browser market</h3> <p>Microsoft detailed its browser support plans in a post on the Internet Explorer Team Blog on Thursday. In its post, the company included a <strong>list of operating systems and browser version combinations that will continue to be supported beyond January 12, 2016</strong>, and the five-year-old Internet Explorer 8, currently the most popular version of the browser, is not on the list.</p> <p>“After January 12, 2016, only the most recent version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates,” Roger Capriotti, director of Internet Explorer, wrote in the <a href=";utm_source=pulsenews" target="_blank">blog post</a>, urging all users to enable automatic updates. “For example, customers using Internet Explorer 8, Internet Explorer 9, or Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 7 SP1 should migrate to Internet Explorer 11 to continue receiving security updates and technical support.”</p> <p>Apart from Windows 7 SP1, Microsoft will continue to support Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 beyond the said date. <br />The other versions to which support will continue to flow are IE 9 on Windows Vista SP2 and Windows Server 2008 SP2, and IE 10 on Windows Server 2012.</p> <p>Follow Pulkit on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a></p> browser end of life Internet Explorer 8 microsoft security updates Software Windows News Mon, 11 Aug 2014 05:21:31 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 28321 at Hey Look, Windows Phone Store Now Features Over 300,000 Apps <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/windows_phone_apps.jpg" alt="Windows Phone Apps" title="Windows Phone Apps" width="228" height="168" style="float: right;" />Windows Phone Store is growing up</h3> <p>In case you haven't been paying attention, the Windows Phone Store is growing and expanding into a legitimate contender right before our very eyes. By Microsoft's count, the Windows Phone Store now boasts over 300,000 apps and games, with over 2 billion app downloads to date. Sure, that's only a fraction of the available apps on Android and iOS, but it's a big fraction.</p> <p>For the sake of comparison, Android is home to over 1 million apps and 50 billion downloads to date, while iOS has over 1.2 million apps and can brag about serving up 75 billion downloads in the past 6 years.</p> <p>Judged by itself, Microsoft's Windows Phone Store is doing just fine and <a href="" target="_blank">growing at a decent clip</a> -- back in December 2013, it had 200,000 apps, so it's added 100,000 in the past 8 months. Not too shabby.</p> <p>Despite the number of apps and downloads, Microsoft has its work cut out in the mobile space. At last count, comScore pegged the Windows Phone platform as having a <a href="" target="_blank">3.4 percent share</a> of the smartphone market in the U.S., versus 52.1 percent for Android and 41.9 percent for iOS.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> apps mobile Software windows phone windows store News Fri, 08 Aug 2014 17:55:55 +0000 Paul Lilly 28318 at Moving On: Microsoft Confirms No More Major Updates for Windows 8 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/windows_8_0.jpg" alt="Windows 8" title="Windows 8" width="228" height="128" style="float: right;" />Bring on Windows 9!</h3> <p>As Kenny Rogers famously advised a legion of country music fans, "You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, known when to run." Microsoft isn't quite to the point of running away from Windows 8, though it is ready to walk away from putting time and resources into major updates. <strong>There will be no Windows 8.1 Update 2</strong>, which seemingly suggest Microsoft is now looking ahead to Windows 9.</p> <p>Microsoft tried to address consumer complaints in Windows 8 with Windows 8.1, and then again with its first major update for Windows 8.1. However, Windows 8/8.1 isn't grabbing market share the way Microsoft hoped it would, even with Windows XP taken behind the shed.</p> <p>That reality must have finally hit Microsoft like a ton of bricks, and now the firm is changing gears -- rather than release another major update to Windows 8.1, it's going to add any upcoming changes to its monthly update schedule, better known as Patch Tuesday.</p> <p>"Rather than waiting for months and bundling together a bunch of improvements into a larger update as we did for the Windows 8.1 Update, customers can expect that we’ll use our already existing monthly update process to deliver more frequent improvements along with the security updates normally provided as part of 'Update Tuesday.' So despite rumors and speculation, we are not planning to deliver a Windows 8.1 'Update 2,'" Microsoft stated in a <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a>.</p> <p>That means the next truly major update to Windows will be a brand new version. It's currently codenamed Threshold and is expected to be called Windows 9.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> microsoft Software threshold windows 8 windows 8.1 windows 9 News Fri, 08 Aug 2014 17:30:40 +0000 Paul Lilly 28317 at Heads Up: EA Tosses Battlefield 4 on Game Time, Play Free for a Week <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/bf4_screenie_0.jpg" alt="Battlefield 4" title="Battlefield 4" width="228" height="145" style="float: right;" />Try BF4 free for up to a week</h3> <p>Have you heard both good and bad things about Battlefield 4 and now can't decide if you want to grab a copy? Don't sweat it -- <strong>Electronic Arts just made BF4 its newest "Game Time" title, meaning you can play the full version for free for a limited time (up to 7 days in this case)</strong>. Yes, that entails going through Origin, EA's digital distribution platform, but if you're okay with that, you can download the title and hop right into the action.</p> <p>"Go ahead and try it on. Take a bite. Look under the hood. This is the full game so check out every feature and every option, and play for as long as the Game Time clock runs," EA says.</p> <p>If you play out the full week (or just a portion) and decide to buy the game, your progress will be saved so you can pick up right where you left off, EA says.</p> <p>Not your cup of tea? EA is also serving up Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning on Game Time, giving you 48 hours of free play time.</p> <p>You can find out more information about either one by <a href="" target="_blank">going here</a>.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> battlefield 4 bf4 game time games origin Software News Fri, 08 Aug 2014 17:08:58 +0000 Paul Lilly 28316 at Microsoft May Ditch the Charms Bar in Windows 9 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/charms_bar.jpg" alt="Charms Bar" title="Charms Bar" width="228" height="128" style="float: right;" />Will you miss the Charms Bar?</h3> <p>It's only a matter of time before we see how much Microsoft learned fom Windows 8/8.1 and the feedback it received from users. Windows 9, otherwise known as Threshold, will usher in a new era of Windows, and early indications point to a different design philosophy than the one that drew criticism in the current version of Windows. For example, one of the rumors floating around is that <strong>Windows 9 will get rid of the Charms Bar</strong>.</p> <p>According to <em></em>, Windows 9 will be very different from Windows 8/8.1 with the desktop taking center stage once again. Part of that entails getting rid of the Charms Bar, at least for the desktop version -- there's a chance Microsoft will retain the Charms Bar for tablets.</p> <p>"We can confirm that Microsoft have been toying with multiple different ways they could implement a new charms menu which is fluent and makes sense for mouse users. One method that we heard about that stands out is having a button up near the window controls that once pressed, would reveal the Search, Share, Devices and Settings charms from the top of the window (there's no need for a Start Button for desktop users in the charms)," <a href="" target="_blank"><em></em> says</a>.</p> <p>Microsoft may also remove Charms altogether, though it gets a little complicated since a bunch of Modern UI apps depend on it for certain features and functions.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> microsoft operating system OS Software threshold windows 9 News Thu, 07 Aug 2014 18:00:10 +0000 Paul Lilly 28310 at A Crash Course to Editing Images in Adobe Lightroom <!--paging_filter--><p><strong>When your images aren’t up to snuff, there’s always photo-editing software</strong></p> <p>Photography can be impenetrable from the gear to actually shooting and then the image editing software is a whole other uphill battle. Even with Adobe introducing Lightroom as a lightweight Photoshop alternative, it can be daunting to see a screen full of sliders as a complete novice. To help get you from serial Instagramer to amateur photographer, here’s a crash course to making your images look great with just a few steps in Lightroom.</p> <p><img src="" width="620" height="419" style="font-weight: bold;" /></p> <h3 dir="ltr">Why you should shoot in RAW</h3> <p>First off, before we get to editing any images, it’s super important to start shooting RAW format images in case you haven’t already. Unlike JPEGs, RAW files are uncompressed digital negatives that carry much more information. This in turn makes them easier to work with in Lightroom or any image editor. Thanks to this full allotment of the data packed into RAW files, you can fix more images otherwise destined for the trash heap such as blue-tinged messes or almost completely black frames.</p> <p>If that wasn’t enough to sell you on shooting in RAW, this entire guide was done using the uncompressed format to show off and take advantage of the full image editing power of Lightroom.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">Getting started</h3> <p><img src="/files/u170397/image_import.jpg" width="620" height="324" /></p> <p>The first thing you’ll need to in Lightroom is to migrate your images of course. Upon starting Adobe Lightroom, navigate your mouse up to File and select “Import Photos and Video” (Ctrl+Shift+I). Another shortcut users can take advantage of is Lightroom will auto-detect any memory cards or cameras plugged into the computer.</p> <p>Lightroom will automatically drop images into dated folders. Unfortunately (or fortunately for some) this is programmed into the software, but users can always rename their folders. More importantly keywording your photos will be an indispensable tool to manage, search, and organize your images.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">Getting around inside lightroom</h3> <p><img src="/files/u170397/main_screen.jpg" width="620" height="333" /></p> <p>Once your images are all loaded into the library we can start editing one by clicking over (or hitting "D" on the keyboard) to the “Develop” screen. On the right edge of the screen users will find a list of settings that will allow them to tweak their images.</p> <p>There’s a lot to take in with Lightroom’s interface, but the most important thing users will navigate to are the filmstrip along the bottom to navigate images. Clicking anywhere on the image displayed in the center window, meanwhile, will zoom into the frame.</p> <p>Just beneath the featured picture there’s also a box designated with “X|Y” that will allow you to view the original image next to their processed counterpart. The button to the left of this aforementioned comparison toggle will return the window to normal, displaying only the final picture. Along the left side of the screen users will find a history log of all the edits made so far to each individual photo--and speaking of image settings, they’re all stacked on the right side of the window. At the bottom of this list of editing options there's also a handy "Previous" button to let users undo one chance or "Reset" to start all over again.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">Fix your framing</h3> <p><img src="/files/u170397/image_rotate.jpg" width="620" height="333" /></p> <p>Sometimes in the rush to capture that decisive moment there isn’t enough time to line up a perfect composition. But as long as the subject in the photo is in focus and your camera has enough megapixels, there’s always the option to crop the image.</p> <p>The crop tool is located on right, underneath the histogram, and is designated by a boxed grid icon closest to the left. Depending on the shot it might be smart to cut away some of the background to isolate the subject. Alternatively, cropping could come in handy to remove a busy or boring background (otherwise known as negative space). Sticklers for completely level images can also bring their mouse cursor to the edge of the frame to rotate the picture as well.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">Red Eye Correction</h3> <p><img src="/files/u170397/red_eye_correction.jpg" width="620" height="364" /></p> <p>Red eyes and flash photography seem to be inseparable despite all our technological advances, but at least it has gotten incredibly easy to fix this niggling issue. Located just two icons to the right from the Framing icon, clicking on Red Eye Correction will give you a new cursor that you'll want to select any red eyes in the photo. After that Lightroom will use the point users select and auto detect red pupils.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">White balance</h3> <p><img src="/files/u170397/white_balance.jpg" width="620" height="418" /></p> <p>Lighting is one of the toughest things in photography, especially when there’s a mix of sunlight and a blue hued lightbulb. Not only do the two different types of warm and cool light clash, they also completely throw off all the colors in your photos. With this in mind shifting the white balance should be one of the very first stops on your image editing train. Lightroom comes with a series of preset white balance settings just as cameras do with options such as daylight, shade, tungsten, and flash just to name a few.</p> <p>There's also the option to have Lightroom figure it out all on its own and most of the time it does an admirable job of picking out the right type of lighting. In case anything still looks a little off, there are also sliders that users can move around. Each slider is fairly self explanatory—shifting the top knob leftwards will make the image take on a blue shade while shifting towards yellow will cause your image to take on a sepia tone. The one underneath splits the spectrum between green and violet.</p> <p>For those wanting a bit more fine tuned control with a point-and-click solution users should select the eyedropper tool. Simply hover the dropper over to a neutral gray or white area and clicking it will have Lightroom take a best guess on white balance from that one spot.</p> <p><em>Click on to the next page where we'll dive into more editing magic.<br /></em></p> <hr /> <h3 dir="ltr">Getting to the Meat</h3> <p>Now that we’ve colored corrected the image and fixed up the composition, it's time to adjust the exposure. But before we start, there’s no hard and fast rule for what is the perfect image. It does not have to be a perfectly balanced image where everything in the frame is evenly illuminated. There’s nothing wrong with having harsh shadows or a blindingly bright spot—in fact it can actually be the thematic part of the picture you want to accentuate.</p> <p>Without further ado, here’s are the main ways you can use Lightroom to manipulate your images.</p> <ul> <li> <h3 dir="ltr"><img src="/files/u170397/basic_settings.jpg" width="200" height="610" style="float: right; margin: 10px;" /></h3> <p>Exposure: In a nutshell this lets users make the entire image brighter or darker.</p> </li> <li> <p>Contrast: Contrast changes the difference between the bright and dark parts of the image. Lowering the contrast evens out the exposure making it helpful if the picture was caught with extremely dark and bright sections. As such it can help to restore parts of the frame caught in shadows, but the trade off is this can also cause the entire picture to turn gray. On the flipside making photos more contrasty will produce a harsher look and cause colors to intensify.</p> </li> <li> <p>Highlights: Similar to affecting the brightness of the image, highlights specifically tones down the brightest parts of the frame. In most cases this could be useful for bringing back clouds lost in the blinding sunlight. Alternatively, photographers will want to tweak the highlights when photographing anything with a backlit screen or lights at night.</p> </li> <li> <p>Shadows: On the flipside of highlights changing the shadows will brighten or darken any areas caught in shade.</p> </li> <li> <p>Whites: Despite the fact we’ve already adjusted the bright parts of the frame, changing the White level in the image appears to do the same thing. Appears. What changing the white level really does is affect the lightest (or brightest) tones in the image, whereas highlights control the midtones in the frame.</p> </li> <li> <p>Blacks: At the opposite end of the spectrum blacks dictate how the darkest part of the images look. This can be helpful to make sure dark colors aren't grayed out when you've already brightened up the shadows.</p> </li> <li> <p>Auto Tone: Aside from setting all the parameters manually, Lightroom also has a handy Auto Tone tool. As with auto white balance, auto tone automatically adjusts the picture for what the program thinks will look best.</p> </li> </ul> <h3 dir="ltr">Time to get technical</h3> <p>Aside from the mix of sliders and staring at the image preview, a much more technical way of editing is using the histogram, which appears at the very top of the right side panel. Essentially it displays a graphical overview of the pictures’s full tonal range in which darker pixels fill out on the left side of as they lighten towards the right. Every edit we just explained can be done by clicking on parts of this histogram and dragging them around. Either way works so it's really up to your preference.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">Making photos “pop”</h3> <p>The tonal curve isn’t all there is to editing images. Just underneath the exposure settings is something called presence. Starting with Clarity, users can increase the sharpness of their images or give them a dreamy, hazy quality. Saturation intensifies colors in the photo, which can be useful to bringing back some color on gray and cloudy days.</p> <p>Vibrance does a similar job of intensifying colors except in a slightly smarter fashion than Saturation. Rather than uniformly bumping up the hues in the frame, Vibrance increases the intensity of muted colors whilst leaving already bright colors alone.</p> <p><em>Next up Sharpening, Noise Reduction, Lens Correction, and more.<br /></em></p> <hr /> <h3 dir="ltr">Detail control</h3> <p>Located in the "Detail" section below Lightroom’s "Basic" editing options you’ll find options to sharpen and reduce the noise of photos.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Sharpening</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><img src="/files/u170397/sharpening_mask.jpg" width="620" height="363" /><br /></strong></p> <p>Firstly to quell any misconceptions, Sharpening won’t fix images for soft focus, camera shake, or any mistakes made at the time of taking the shot. Rather sharpening is a tool to accentuate details already in the photo. Just don’t over do it as over sharpening images introduces a slew of new problems including harsh edges, grainy noise, and smooth lines transforming into jagged zigzags.</p> <p>There are four parameters when it comes sharpening images:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>The Alt key:</strong> Well before we actually get started with any settings, holding down the Alt key is an invaluable tool that will give you a clearer, alternate view of what’s going on while you move around the sliders.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Amount:</strong> As you might have guessed this increases the amount of sharpening you add. This value starts at zero and as users get towards the high-end they will end up enhancing the noise in the image along with sharpening details.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Radius:</strong> Image sharpening mainly refines edges, but the Radius can be extended by a few pixels. In this case the radius number corresponds with the number of pixels Lightroom will apply sharpening around the edges in the picture. Having a high radius number will intensify details with a thicker edge.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Detail:</strong> The Detail slider determines how many edges on the image get sharpened. With lower values the image editor will only target large edges in the frame, meanwhile a value of a 100 will include every small edge.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Masking:</strong> Although every other slider has been about incorporating more sharpening into the image, masking does the opposite by telling Lightroom which areas should not be sharpened. Just keep in mind masking works best from image with an isolated background. The sharpening masks' effectiveness is significantly more limited with busy images, where there are edges everywhere.</p> </li> </ul> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Noise Reduction</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><img src="/files/u170397/noise_reduction.jpg" width="620" height="364" /><br /></strong></p> <p>Noise is unavoidable whether its due to shooting higher ISOs or a result from bumping up the exposure in post—luckily there’s a way to save images from looking like sandpaper.</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>Luminance:</strong> Our first stop towards reducing noise. Increasing this value will smooth over any stippling on the photo. Take care not to raise this too high as Lightroom will begin to sacrificing the detail and turn the picture into a soft mess.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Detail:</strong> In case users want to better preserve the sharp details in their image, they should increase the Detail slider.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Contrast:</strong> This is specifically used to tone down the amount of chromatic noise—typically green and red flecks that make their way into high ISO images. Unless there is colored noise in the image, it’s best to leave this set to 0.</p> </li> </ul> <ul> </ul> <h3 dir="ltr">Lens Correction</h3> <p>Moving on, we’re going to start correcting for imperfections in the lens by scrolling down the right sidebar to "Lens Corrections."</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Lens profiles</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><img src="/files/u170397/lens_correction.jpg" width="620" height="333" /><br /></strong></p> <p>Enter the round hole, square peg problem. No matter how well engineered an expensive lens is, it will always produce some amount of distortion thanks to the nature of curved lenses filtering light onto flat sensors. The good news is this is the easiest thing to correct for. Simply click on "Enable Profile Corrections" on the "Basic" pane of Lens Corrections and Lightroom will do the work for you. Witness as your images are automatically corrected for barrel distortion and vignetting (dark corners). It's pretty much fool proof unless of course Adobe has not made a Lens Profile for the lens you shot with. It also might not be necessary to always click this option on as some photos might look better with the vingetting and distortion.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Color Fringing</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><img src="/files/u170397/fringing.jpg" width="620" height="333" /><br /></strong></p> <p>Fringing for who don’t know appears as a purple or blue and green outline when an object is captured against a bright background—the most common example being a tree limb with the bright sky behind it. It can be a minor quibble with photos in most cases but certain lenses fringe so badly it can make a scene look like it was outlined with a color pencil.</p> <p>Luckily getting rid of fringing in Lightroom can be easy as spotting it and then clicking on it. To start, select the Color pane within the Lens Corrections and use the eyedropper just as we did with white balance. Usually fringing appears at points of high contrast so bring the cursor over to dark edges that meet a bright background. It might take a little bit of sniffing around but stay vigilant and you should be able to spot some misplaced purple or green-blue colors eventually. Some lenses are guilty of fringing terribly while others control it well, so it’s really up to you if the flaw is noticeable enough to merit correction.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Chromatic Aberration</strong></p> <p>Since we’re here anyway, go ahead and click on the option to remove chromatic aberration—another type of color fringing where wavelengths of light are blurring together—since it’s as simple as turning the option on.</p> <h3 dir="ltr">You Can’t Save Them All</h3> <p><img src="/files/u170397/cannot_save.jpg" width="620" height="333" /></p> <p>Despite how extensive this guide might appear, there’s even more editing magic to mine from Lightroom—we haven’t even gotten to making black and white images, or split toning! This is only a crash course to help you make your images look better and the only way to master photography is to keep on shooting and practicing.</p> <p>In the same breath, however, we would recommend users should not use Lightroom as a crutch. Although Lightroom can do a lot to salvage poorly shot images, it’s no excuse to just shoot half-assed and expect to fix things up afterwards. Otherwise post processing will end up eating up most of the shooter's time and eventually they’ll realize that there are even certain images Lightroom can’t save (as evidenced by the one shown above). Image editing software can be a great help, but its no substitute for good old skilled photography.</p> Adobe image editing Lighroom Lighroom crash course Media Applications photoshop post processing Software Software Features Wed, 06 Aug 2014 17:43:10 +0000 Kevin Lee 28246 at Windows 8 Market Share Stands Pat as Windows 7 Gains Ground <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/windows_8_ultrabook.jpg" alt="Windows 8 Ultrabook" title="Windows 8 Ultrabook" width="228" height="152" style="float: right;" />Windows 8 may have hit a brick wall</h3> <p>Not much has happened in the Windows space this summer, though what little movement there's been indicates that <strong>users are still trending more towards Windows 7 than Windows 8/8.1</strong>. The combined share of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 in July was 12.48 percent, down a sliver from 12.54 percent in June and 12.64 percent in May. All of those figures are up slightly from the 12.24 percent share Window 8/8.1 held in April when support for XP ended, but nothing to brag about.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Windows 7 continues to inch forward month after month. Here's how the market share numbers have been playing out for Windows 7 since April of this year, according to data from <a href=";qpcustomb=0&amp;qpsp=163&amp;qpnp=25&amp;qptimeframe=M" target="_blank">Net Applications</a>:</p> <ul> <li>April: 49.27 percent</li> <li>May: 50.06 percent</li> <li>June: 50.55 percent</li> <li>July: 51.22 percent</li> </ul> <p>That's a 2 percent bump since Microsoft yanked support for Windows XP. And speaking of which, the legacy operating system is still installed on about a quarter of PCs around the world at 24.82 percent, which is down from 26.29 percent in April.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> microsoft operating system OS Software windows 7 windows 8 windows xp News Mon, 04 Aug 2014 18:21:22 +0000 Paul Lilly 28287 at