Category Archives: Software

May AVT: Will Windows 8 Make Tablets More Useful?

In an article in the May 2012 issue of AVTechnology magazine, we muse on whether or not the Microsoft’s introduction of Windows 8, which includes a version that runs on ARM processors and promises to provide a Desktop environment which will handle the Office suite on a tablet.

The real question would seem to be “Will the ARM version of Office make tablets as useful for content creation as they are for content consumption?” Because otherwise the likes of Samsung, Nokia, and Dell will settle for what’s left of the market after Android and iOS have their share.

HTTPS Everywhere

As most of you know (or certainly should know), a secure web page is one whose URL begins with https:// where the “s” after the “http” indicates that the page uses a secure HTTP protocol (http over ssl, actually) to display the contents of the page. For example, most webpages that accept credit card information are secure and use https, but most social media sites do not.

Sound Forge Pro 10 reviewed in November 2009 RAP

The November issue of Radio & Production magazine features my review of Sony Software’s latest release of Sound Forge, labeled Pro 10. You won’t find a lot of new features, but there are a couple that are compelling enough. No, the major improvements are in workflow and in the user interface, and these are substantial. I like it.

What’s kinda funny is that Sony pulled a quote from my review and used it in an email campaign advertising a free webinar on Forge 10:

Steve Cunningham, (Radio and Production Nov 2009) writes “Sound Forge Pro 10 is to version 9 as a 2010 Ford Mustang is to a 1969 Boss Mustang… still wicked fast, still sounds like business, but so much easier to drive.”

Don’t misunderstand me… I like publicity as much as anyone, and the pull is a direct quote — yup, I wrote that. What’s amusing is that at no time did I ever speak to anyone at Sony Software, either before or after I wrote the review. Furthermore, I bought the upgrade and paid for it myself (which I think is as it should be). But my contact info is in there at the end of the article. I’d have thought they’d send a note asking if I objected to their use of it, or at least telling me they were going to use it.

Makes me go “hmmm…”.

Ten Myths About Pro Tools for Voiceover: Why They’re Myths.

ProTools8It’s my belief that a lot of voice actors actually fear Digidesign’s Pro Tools for recording and editing voiceovers. Often, VO artists have taken one look over some engineer’s shoulder and muttered “Nope, that’s not for me, it’s too (fill in the blank).”

No wonder — the engineer is probably focused on how many whizzy-cool features s/he can invoke per second, and this can be give the talent a false impression. So here are the top ten objections to Pro Tools and my response to each. Read the rest of this entry »

Audio players for websites in June 2009 RAP

Flash Audio Player

This month we take a look at several embedded audio players for use in HTML websites, as well as for those based on blogging software like WordPress. Nearly all of these players require MP3-formatted audio players to work, although some will play other formats as well. The players themselves are based on Adobe’s Flash technology combined with some Java scripting.

The reason for this is simple; nearly 97% of all online users have Adobe’s Flash player already installed on their computers, and almost all modern browsers know how to handle javascript properly. Using Flash insures that your clients will be able to hear your demos without the annoyance of having to stop and install yet another plug-in in their web browser.

Free iServices Mac Trojan removal tool available

MacScan_logoA free tool that removes the iServices Trojan is now available, courtesy of anti-spyware developer MacScan. This tool removes both the OSX.Trojan.iServices.A and OSX.Trojan.iServices.B Trojan horse, and can be downloaded from this page.

As reported last week, the first remotely-controlled “botnet” created from Macintosh computers has been identified in the field. These Macs are infected with one of the above-named Trojan horse programs, which were identified back in January as being spread via illegal copies of Adobe CS-4 and iWork 2009 software.

No_trojanMacScan’s removal tool is a stand-alone program that searches for these trojans and removes them if they exist. If neither Trojan exists, the program displays the dialog box to the left and you’re free to quit the program.

Mac users have been particularly fortunate, in that little in the way of malware has yet been aimed their computers. Clearly that has now changed, and given the potential of this malware to at minimum slow your Mac’s performance, and at worst to turn it into a “zombie,” there’s simply no reason not to download and run the removal tool.

First Mac-powered botnet identified

The first botnet based on Macintosh computers is here, according to security researchers at Symantec and reported in Ars Technica. A botnet is a collection of software robots (so-called “bots”) which can act automatically and autonomously after being infected with (usually) malevolent software. Botnets consist of a number of such compromised computers known as “zombies,” and these can be directed by the originator of the bot software (the so-called “bot herder”) to perform various nefarious tasks, such as conducting organized DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks on servers, or sending spam emails. Botnets are commonly comprised of Windows computers, although this is the first known botnet comprised of Macs.Ars_technica_logo

Mac users who downloaded pirated copies of Adobe’s Creative Suite CS4 or iWork 2009 may have got more than they bargained for, as some of these copies contained trojan horse software OSX.Trojan.iServices.A and OSX.Trojan.iServices.B. When the user unpacks the pirated software, the trojan is installed and becomes active, turning the Mac into a “zombie.” Since the trojan software was first discovered in January 2009, most anti-virus software has by now been updated to remove the trojan and its remnants. Still, the botnet was recently implicated in DDoS attacks on several servers.

This incident provides yet another reason to avoid installing pirated software on your computer. The success of this Mac-based botnet almost guarantees that more pirated software will be released that is infected, so it’s best to stay away… stay far, far away.

Real knobs on your monitor

Since we’re looking at interesting controllers, here’s an entirely different take on the issue… what if you could just stick a physical knob onto your computer screen, and the physical knob became one with the onscreen knob? Intriguing.girton_labs_mixer

There’s a prophead-type gent in Cambridge UK that proposes to give you exactly that. Seems this Lyndsay Williams fellow and his company, Girton Labs, are busy working out how to build knobs that magnetically stick to your lappy screen, and via both hardware and software, let you manipulate the underlying onscreen controls and therefore the attached software function.

It’s all very much in the beta test phase, and no prices or delivery date is set (or even hinted at). But there are videos on the website showing the SenseSurface in action… you should go check it out for yourself.

I’m not sure a laptop is the best platform for this — I’m thinking 30″ flat-screen monitors angled back — but if this can truly be made to work it would give us DIY controllers that could be easily re-configured on the fly, depending on the application. I can visualize a box ‘o pots and sliders next to the monitor… sweet.

Hat tip to Charlie Richmond at Richmond Sound Design; the full story at Girton’s website: girtonlabs – SenseSurface – Girton Labs Cambridge

Mac OS X 10.5.3 released [updated]

Yesterday Apple released Mac OS X 10.5.3, the latest revision of their newest “Leopard” operating system. This release contains what appears to be a boatload of security fixes, as well as a tidy list of improvements to various Apple applications.

I do have one Mac running Leopard for evaluation purposes, but the “money” machines are still on 10.4.11, at least until Digidesign qualifies Pro Tools LE and M-Powered for Leopard. Pro Tools HD is currently qualified on OS X 10.5.1, but not 10.5.2; LE and M-Powered are not yet qualified, period.

[Update 05/30/08] So-called pre-release versions of all three, ready for Leopard 10.5.3, are now available from Digidesign’s website. See this. Continue reading Mac OS X 10.5.3 released [updated]

May’s product reviews in RAP magazine

I haven’t decided yet, actually. In fact, I just figured out that I have another couple weeks to finish writing it (joy!).

But I’ve been playing with two very kewl products… the MicPort Pro from CEntrance and Magix’s Samplitude 10. Actually I’ve been playing with both at the same time. MicPort is a USB-to-audio converter that so far sounds great, unlike some others out there. Most of the existing converters are noisy and sound like crap, but the MicPort actually sounds very good, and does 96k/24 bits to boot. I think I’m keeping this one.

Samplitude 10, like previous versions (the last one I reviewed was version 8 back in 2005), is very deep. My concern with it is finding whether it’s still a resource-hog… I’ll be checking that this week. More later.