Foosball Rules!Haven’t you always wanted to play foosball on your Mac? Come on, sure you have. Foosball rules. And this is a light, practically brainless, stress-relieving, palate-cleanser of a foosball game, perfect for breaking up long stretches of...whatever it is you do all day.
Stereotypical, shallow DJs have more depth than this iPod game. Imagine you’re spinning turntables in the hottest nightclub in the city, keeping the party rocking until the fire marshal shuts you down. The role of the fire marshal will be played by The Sims DJ. This iPod game is spun around the winning idea of a DJ simulator, but the result is just a repetitive series of mini-games wrapped around boring rules.
iPod game wins second prize in a beauty contest, collects $10 iPod Monopoly is just as fun as the capitalist board game, minus the joy of throwing houses and hotels at your sibling after a three-hour stalemate. For better or worse, almost nothing has changed from the physical game, with the iPod version sporting the same rules and play. You can even customize more than a dozen “house” rules; we never realized that putting tax money on Free Parking wasn’t in the official game, but iPod Monopoly let us add that jackpot to that space.
If you like a little eye candy with your online applications instead of minimalist geek-chic, have a look at Acrobat.com, a new collection of free collaborative tools and software from Adobe. Beta of online collaboration suite impresses.
Choose Music > Pop-H when you're rocking out to Abba with headphones. Sure, it's easy enough to do, but we were too lazy to change Hear's preset to Hip Hop / Rap-H when the song switched to Akon's Smack That. Even nonaudiophiles can appreciate an app like JoeSoft's Hear, which, for $49.95, boosts the sound quality of your entire digital music library - and any other audio you care to listen to on your Mac. After an admittedly quick look at the app, however, we found ourselves wishing JoeSoft could build in a few more features that cater to lazy mousers like us. To wit: With its dozens of music presets - from Alternative / Punk to Hip Hop/Rap to Techno, all for both speakers and headphones, choosing the one you want quickly is, well, a challenge.
The Virtual Globe is almost as fun to twirl as a real one. Family rifts aside, it’s a nice idea to keep track of where you’re from and who your ancestors are. MacFamilyTree 5.1 makes it easy to organize the myriad limbs of your family’s tree—even those you wish you could lop off at times.
HDR and tone mapping bring out all the detail in this shot of Venice’s Grand Canal. High dynamic range (HDR) photography is a technique designed to capture much more detail in color and contrast than traditional photography can. When taking a photograph, a camera can only capture a single exposure. A shaded subject with a bright sky behind it presents a classic conundrum. Capturing the details of the shaded subject requires an exposure that will wash out the sky. Yet an exposure optimized for the sky will underexpose the shaded area, swamping its details in inky darkness. HDR photography captures all those details by snapping three or more images at differing exposures and blending them together.
While there are lots of controls for tweaking the sound, you’ll fall in love with Pianoteq by just playing the darn thing. While the digital music world is ruled by gnarly synthesizers, decked-out drum machines, and spacey sound effects, most musicians will tell you that the Holy Grail of software is one that can emulate the good old acoustic piano. Sampled piano instruments typically require sample libraries that eat up between 15 and 30 gigabytes of hard drive space, and are constrained by the limitations of sampling technology. Well, fear not: A group of French geniuses have come up with the ultimate nonsampled piano, and it’s downright luscious.
Our level 10 knight battles a level 11 troll to become Lord of the Swamp. Practically everyone has played a board or two of Bejeweled, the match-three puzzle classic that sucks casual gamers in on Macs, PCs, consoles, iPods, and mobile phones. Puzzle Quest starts with the same gameplay, but adds strategy and RPG elements to keep things interesting.
The Guided Edit mode gives you a column of options for easy editing. Photoshop Elements has long played the role of little brother, with a streamlined interface and toolset designed for amateur photographers, hobbyists, and anyone who doesn’t need all of Photoshop’s advanced functionality—or $649 price tag. At $90, Elements 6 is a tremendous bargain, and head and shoulders above previous versions. This is the first Universal binary version of Elements, and the performance boost on Intel Macs closely mirrors that of Photoshop CS3—it boots quickly and generally feels smooth and responsive. We also ran it on a G4 Titanium PowerBook and a Dual Power Mac G5 with respectable speeds. While Adobe claims that Elements can run with 512MB of RAM (1GB is recommended), we found that the program sometimes crashed on our PowerBook, which has 1GB of RAM, but never on our MacBook Pro or Power Mac G5, with 3GB and 2GB of RAM, respectively. We suggest downloading the trial version to see how it performs on your machine.