AUGNQ meetings will recommence on Tuesday September 9th

The Events calendar in the right side bar have been updated to the September dates.

If you have any problems, or want some information, please use the email list for a timely response.
The meeting on Tuesday 9th. will also be the Annual General Meeting for 2014 – 2015.
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A New Year – 2014

February 3, 2014

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A very happy group at the 2013 end-of-year brunch, held at Jupiter’s Casino in the Aqua Restaurant. – I think we may well be returning for the 2014 celebration.

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Clicking on any of the photos above will let you download them, (full size), to your computer. Thanks to Barry Bamford for providing the images.

Welcome to 2014

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Apple Adds Chat Support to AppleCare Web Site

Courtesy our friends at TidBits.com

by Josh Centers: josh@tidbits.com, @jcenters

Apple has streamlined its AppleCare Web site, (finally) adding a chat support option for when you just have a quick question and don’t want to pick up the phone or make a trip to the nearest Apple Store.

Here’s how to access the new chat option. First, visit the Apple Support Contact page and click the Get Started button.

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Next, you’ll be asked which product you need help with: Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, Apps & Software, or something else. Click the appropriate subcategory, if prompted, to continue. However, if you click iPhone or iPad, you go straight to the next screen.

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You’ll then be asked to select what you’re having an issue with. Click the issue category, then choose the appropriate issue from the menu. You’ll have to supply the serial number for your device so that Apple knows that it’s still covered by AppleCare. In the case of the iPhone, you can either enter it manually, or have Apple send a link to your phone by SMS or email — click the link to automatically identify your device.

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Once you’ve jumped that hurdle, you’ll be presented with a list of contact options, including chat, with an estimated wait time before someone responds and hopefully solves your problem quickly.

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Can You Replace Photoshop with Pixelmator?
An update to an earlier post about Adobe’s new ‘Cloud’ based software
by Michael E. Cohen: mcohen@tidbits.com

In “Adobe Flies from Creative Suite into the Creative Cloud,” , Josh Centers described the stunning announcement made at the Adobe MAX conference that future versions of the sun-dried brick company’s Creative Suite products, including Photoshop, would be available only on a subscription basis. Many Photoshop users — particularly hobbyists and those who don’t live and die by the program — were outraged at the announcement and its implications. In particular, many worried about the prospect of being locked out of all of their accumulated Photoshop documents if their previously purchased version of Photoshop should stop working (because, say, of an update to the operating system) unless they gave in and subscribed.

It seems that the most recent update of Pixelmator, version 2.2, achieved 500,000 downloads in its first week of availability in the Mac App Store .

Which raises the question posed by this article’s title: Can you replace Photoshop with Pixelmator?

The answer to that, I’m afraid, may disappoint those who want cut-and-dried answers to complex questions: it depends on how you use Photoshop, and what you use it for. In my case, and in the cases of other members of the TidBITS staff whom I asked, the answer seems to be “Yes.”

As writers, of course, we scribblers at TidBITS tend not to have intense or complicated image editing needs: the most common needs recounted to me by my colleagues were for cropping and sizing images, composing screenshots, putting borders and text on images, and making minor adjustments to the colors and levels of images. Add to that my own peculiar need to manipulate the truly terrible cartoons I occasionally draw, and you end up with a list of use cases that make the feature set of Pixelmator, let alone Photoshop, seem like overkill on the level of a thermonuclear fly-swatter.

Pixelmator has a set of image editing and manipulation tools far in excess of our needs, with some of them similar in both operation and presentation to their Photoshop counterparts. For example, it has a Tools palette similar in many ways to the Tools panel found in Photoshop, with tools arranged in a similar order and sporting icons that won’t look unfamiliar to a Photoshop user. (Click image to enlarge)
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Pixelmator also has a rich array of vector shapes you can use and stylize for those times when bitmap graphics don’t fill the bill. It has a bunch of gradient fills and controls to customize and adjust them. It provides all sorts of effects — color adjustments, blurs, distortion, sharpening, tiling, styling, and more — presented in a browser that enables you to preview them. It has lots of brushes, from simple to complex, and offers the capability to modify and add to them. It has layers, of course, and commands to link them, group them, merge them, adjust their blending with other layers, hide them, and use them as masks. It offers a Photo Browser so you can quickly peruse and choose from images in iPhoto, Aperture, Photo Booth (yes, Photo Booth!), plus any other images in your Pictures folder hierarchy. Put all of Pixelmator’s various palettes onscreen and you’d be hard-pressed to find the image you’re working on amid their vast richness of offerings. (Click image to enlarge)

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Even Pixelmator’s menus bear a passing resemblance to Photoshop’s, with commands like Transform, Stroke, and Fill on the Edit menu, and a Layers menu with some familiar layer manipulation commands. You’ll also find an Image menu with the basic image and canvas size commands and color adjustment commands. These are not one-to-one copies of Photoshop’s offerings, of course — that application has many more commands and options — but if you have come to Pixelmator from Photoshop you will, at least, have a reasonable chance of finding the command you want if Pixelmator offers it. (Click image to enlarge)

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But among some of the things that Photoshop offers that you won’t find in Pixelmator are the following: layer styles, adjustment layers, saved masks, editing in the CMYK color space, non-destructive editing, and channel chops. There are many other lacunae in Pixelmator’s capabilities as compared to Photoshop’s, as well, and if you regularly need any of those capabilities, Pixelmator is obviously not the right Photoshop replacement for you.

Here’s the possibly inconvenient truth: if you are a graphics or pre-press professional, Photoshop remains the best tool for your job, and whether you like the new Creative Cloud subscription-only model or not, you will eventually need to subscribe.

But if you’re not sure, investigating Pixelmator is hardly a wallet-buster. As I write, Pixelmator is available in the Mac App Store at a special half-price “introductory” cost of $14.99 (USD). Putting it in perspective, that’s half the $29.99 (USD)cost of a single month’s subscription to just Photoshop in Creative Cloud.

When you compare the two programs, it’s clear that Pixelmator is not the best choice for fully employed illustrators and graphic designers who must interact with others in the Photoshop-driven community of creative professionals. Instead, it is well positioned to meet the needs of users who Adobe’s new strategy has largely abandoned: hobbyists, people doing occasional photo touch-ups, and students and starving artists who can’t afford the overall cost of the Creative Cloud and who don’t need all of Photoshop’s professional (and sometimes arcane) features. If you’re trying to get your head out of the cloud, the combination of Pixelmator’s low cost and rich feature set may be just what you need to brighten your day.

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iTunes 11.0.3 Updated with Redesigned MiniPlayer

May 21, 2013

From our friends at TidBits: by Agen G. N. Schmitz: agen@tidbits.com Apple has released iTunes 11.0.3 with a number of playback and interface improvements. At its heart, the MiniPlayer remains svelte, but it gains a track progress bar as well as visible volume/AirPlay control icon (previously, you needed to mouse over the MiniPlayer for this […]

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Adobe Flies from Creative Suite into the Creative Cloud

May 14, 2013

Courtesy of our friends at TidBITS By Josh Centers: josh@tidbits.com On 6 May 2013, Adobe stunned the creative community at the Adobe MAX conference by announcing that Adobe Creative Suite 6 will be the last boxed version and that Adobe’s design products will be available only through the year-old Creative Cloud, which offers a slew […]

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Do You Need Mac Antivirus Software in 2013?

January 15, 2013

by Rich Mogull: rich@tidbits.com It has been over four years since I wrote “Should Mac Users Run Antivirus Software?” (18 March 2008). Although much has changed since then, my recommendations mostly haven’t. While Macs aren’t immune to malicious software (malware), and we even experienced one reasonably widespread incident in 2012, malware on Macs is still […]

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Christmas 2012

December 24, 2012

It’s that time of the year – Hope you like our video:

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Dictation

August 8, 2012

by Kirk McElhearn: kirk@mcelhearn.com Perfect speech recognition is one of the Holy Grails of computing — shouldn’t our computers be able to transcribe exactly what we say, complete with proper spelling and punctuation, as has been the case in science fiction for many years? In fact, speech recognition software is nothing new in computing. Windows […]

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Mountain Lion

June 13, 2012

Now available via the Mac App Store – Watch the video below for some of the features you will see in Mountain Lion – 10.8

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