If you’ve never used a quick-launch tool, you might not want to start. As a word of warning, these applications will change the way you use your computer forever. Once you’ve experienced the productivity these bad boys offer, they will quickly become a necessity that’s as essential as your mouse or monitor. So if you like your old-fashioned computin’ lifestyle, move along. But if you’re ready to give your productivity a turbo boost, LaunchBar is the ticket.
When we saw the Producer USB microphone on the front of the Avid Vocal Studio packaging, we did a double-take--we bought that mic from an online clearance outlet last year, and for half the price of its current incarnation. But here it is again, headlining a software combo that promises everything you need to create voiceovers, podcasts, and multitrack musical recordings in one tidy package.
For close to two decades, Sid Meier has fed the monkey on many a strategy gamer’s back. His prolific Civilization series has set the bar for turn-based strategy games for a long, long time. The series puts you into the shoes of the leader of one of a number of civilizations—each with their own advantages and shortcomings—as you guide your people from the dawn of time to the space age. The latest iteration, Civilization V, is easily the most addictive and accessible so far. Since it was released last fall for Windows, Mac gamers have been champing at the bit to get their hands on an OS X version, and at last they can.
If you have a project to finish or a test coming up, do not play Bejeweled. Don’t even launch it, thinking you can clear your head for 5 minutes before getting back to work. Hours later your stomach is rumbling, you have three missed phone calls, and your legs are asleep.
In my household, we have years-old receipts stored in grocery bags, and no memory of who borrowed our favorite, not-made-anymore PlayStation games, both of which could be remedied by a database. Instead of just storing information, a true database acts on it, reminding you about deadlines, dynamically sorting contacts based on upcoming birthdays, and otherwise remixing your data. But iDatabase 1.0 does none of this. You’re better off with the grocery bag.
The new iPhoto ’11 looks amazing—and that’s a great thing for software that helps you get the most out of your photos. But it’s more than just a pretty face, letting you actually do some pretty amazing things with all those pixels. Apple built in major enhancements to the full-screen mode, slideshow templates, and online sharing tools. But iPhoto isn’t just about zeroes and ones—’11 boasts improved book-design tools and a new letterpress-card feature for those extra-special anniversaries and events, making it that much easier and more satisfying to bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds.
Ever since Apple completely redesigned iMovie back in 2007 to make it more approachable for novice home-movie editors, it’s received a lot of flak from all those who were using the previous version for more pro-level work. But iMovie was never meant for professionals, and that version (iMovie ’08) was ideal for anyone who didn’t know a thing about video editing. As iMovie ’09 came and went, the howling continued, but with the return of audio editing and more to iMovie ’11, the outcry should subside at last.
When Apple rolled out iLife ’11, it touted the fact that more than 5 million folks are using GarageBand to create music, podcasts, and other types of audio, making it one of the most successful DAW (digital audio workstation) programs of all time. With this newly updated revision, there are even more reasons to really dig this maestro of a music-making app.
Perhaps the single most important new editing addition, Flex Time, has been brought over from GarageBand’s older sibling, Logic. Simply grab a part of a sampled audio track—a guitar lick or a vocal—and instantly drag it to a new position in time, with extremely smooth—and musically useful—results. It’s a study in effortless, clear interface design, and once you drag a guitar lick into place with it, you’ll instantly be hooked. GarageBand is incredibly smart about automatically grabbing the desired audio segment, and adjusting either the head or tail of the waveform based on where you click the mouse.
Rage HD is packed with an overabundance of mutants, and each and every one of them wants you dead. Luckily for you, your will to survive is only surpassed by your ammunition and the itching in your trigger finger. Some crazy, unexplained event places you at the disposal of a fat-cat TV host, who has you all too willing to engage in a fun house of horror.
The Mac’s window-based user interface was cutting edge in 1984. And while OS X has features that the first Mac users couldn’t have dreamed about, the basic metaphor for interacting with our machines hasn’t changed all that much in the last few decades.