I had a chance to slow down in the studio recently, and it allowed me to catch up on some continuing education, new applications (or at least new to me), updates to current apps and industry news. I thought I'd highlight a few of the apps that I've been using or have started using.
The makers of Skype recently updated their venerable app for the Mac to allow screen sharing between computers. iChat has been my screen sharing stand-by for years, but I've run into several situations where iChat choked. Using Skype in those situations worked flawlessly. I now regularly use it to screen share with associates when going over web site wire frames, and recently used it to go over photo edits with a New York photographer. It even solved some color profile mismatches we were having between our computers. The audio and video in those situations were impeccable. Just the other day I used Skype to map out a forthcoming web site design and it's associated contract with a client overseas.
Skype makes the long-distance collaboration experience easy and consistent.
DropBox was just updated for us Snow Leopard users (a timely update, I might add). I've using DropBox for quite some time to share files of any size with associates near and far. It couldn't be more seamless: share a folder, drop a file, done. When Photoshop documents range in the hundreds of megabytes, old-fashioned FTP seems rather dated and obtrusive when compared to Dropbox. It's also allowed me to cancel a somewhat costly online file sharing service that I used for large files. When it's $30/month for the service vs free - $10/month for DropBox, the math is easy.
I have a great appreciation for "cloud computing", but in most cases I prefer some kind of marriage between the cloud and my desktop. So it is with my assortment of business and personal calendars. I've been using iCal to manage and update my online calendars, which in turn sync with my iPhone, but I've never been too enthused by the experience. Adding Google Apps support to iCal in Snow Leopard helped, but I'd regularly use the browser instead.
Then I discovered BusyCal, billed as "iCal on steroids" by many. From the website:
BusyCal is a desktop calendar that provides seamless calendar sharing and enhanced productivity tools for workgroups and individuals. BusyCal combines the calendar sharing and synchronization technology from the award winning BusySync with a beautiful desktop calendar interface that is instantly recognizable to iCal users — all in one easy to use integrated application.
That's no joke. I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the ins-and-outs of BusyCal, its Google Apps integration and customizable UI, and am looking forward to continued development by the folks at BusySync.
New to me is TextMate,
this missing editor for the Mac. Up till now I've used a combination of DreamWeaver, Coda, TextWrangler and basic word processors when it came to writing html. I happened upon TextMate and it seems to hit the sweet spot between apps like DreamWeaver and TextWrangler for us "less is more" types. Not that it isn't scalable; it is. I'll never use all it has to offer. But I'm enjoying very much the snippets and macros that make typing this post fairly effortless. CSS-Tricks Code Snippets section also allows for downloading their snippets right into TextMate.
Neither Apple's Aperture nor Adobe's LightRoom have seen a major version update in nearly a year, but it's usually in October/November that we do see such an update. Typically they are upgraded within a week of each other, and I'm expecting the news to come pretty soon. Which is why I found it interesting that I received an email from Adobe just this week offering to give me a $50 Amazon gift card when I refer photographers to LightRoom 2. If they're about to move to the next version release, why get photographers to shell out their money twice in less than a few weeks?
At any rate, I'm looking forward to updates for both. LightRoom 2 is far enough ahead of Aperture 2 in Photoshop integration and non-destructive editing tools that a version 3 release for Aperture would seem to be a watershed release. Either Apple is going to have to make some giant leaps forward with Aperture or they're going to risk falling even farther behind in the DAM wars. Considering Adobe's recent gloating, I can't foresee Apple just sitting back and taking it. I'm still holding out hope for Aperture… We'll see!
Autumn looks to be a pretty busy season around here. I'm glad I had the chance to look into the apps a bit more. Now: back to work.