Apple's Preview application initially was just a quick viewer for displaying image and PDF files in OS X, but over the years it has acquired a number of features that have turned it into a useful utility, especially since it is much simpler than tools like Photoshop and iPhoto while offering similar basic manipulation options. We recently covered how to use Preview for editing and organizing multipage PDFs, but in addition it can be used to import images from various sources, including locally attached or shared scanners that use Apple's Bonjour print services. Unfortunately, even when scanning relatively … Read more
Google Books has great tools for keeping track of things you've read, are reading, or want to read. However, it can be a cumbersome task to add each book to the virtual bookshelf individually. So instead of spending countless minutes keying in numbers, follow these steps so you can easily scan and add all your books at once:
1. Install Barcode2File from the Android Market.
2. Open the app and press the Scan barcode button to start collecting a list of ISBNs from the books (one list at a time).
3. Once you're finished scanning, press … Read more
E-book aficionados who use Google Books will find a few enhancements waiting for them the next time they open their favorite book.
As of yesterday, Google lets you search for any word that appears in the text of one of your books as well as letting you highlight text to ask for a definition or translation. You can access the new features by opening a book in your Google Books library through any desktop browser. Double-clicking on or dragging your mouse over any piece of text then opens a pop-up menu with a series of choices.… Read more
For all the accomplishments of the video game industry, there are still barriers that interactive entertainment has yet to break. Many games look fantastic and play well, but with few if any exceptions, there remains a stubborn wall between the player/observer and the characters in the game world (sometimes linked to the evolving "Are games art?" debate). There are many symptoms of this phenomenon, from stiff animation to stilted dialogue to unconvincing voiceover work, and the situation now is only marginally better than it was when I started writing about games more than a decade ago (many players can name a handful of choice performances, but these are the rare exception, rather than the rule).
Coming closest, in recent memory at least, to bridging that gap (which is much deeper than the typical explanation of an "uncanny valley" between near-photographic images and reality) is L.A. Noire, a gritty detective story set in 1940s Los Angeles. The combination of careful writing (much rarer in interactive entertainment than it should be), a cast of competent professional actors, and a few bits of new technology, puts the game leaps and bounds past the typical action/adventure experience, where it usually feels like most in-game conversations exist only to push the kind of dull exposition that would make David Mamet's head spin.
I've criticized some of my otherwise favorite games for this very problem, saying of Dragon Age, for example, that the game was buried under uptight, wooden characterizations that come off like the dated, stagy delivery of an old fantasy film. Arguably among recent games the inventive detective thriller Heavy Rain probably came closest to surmounting these obstacles--or at least bravely attempting to.
So, why is effective storytelling, as seen in television programs such as "Mad Men" or "The Wire", such a difficult task for video games, where paradoxically nearly any setting, character, or event imaginable is just a few keyboard strokes away for an able team of programmers and artists? … Read more
Following up what we thought was 2010's best game of the year is no small task, but if there's one developer/publisher powerhouse that can handle the pressure, it's certainly Rockstar Games. From a pairing with Sydney-based developer Team Bondi, L.A. Noire was born, with preproduction dates ranging as far back as 2004.
It's certainly been a long road for the massive title, involving more than 400 actors, more than 20 hours of voice acting, and the invention of a whole new technology to capture realistic facial expressions. Our eyes having been glued to the TV for every waking hour of the past few days, we're ready to share our final thoughts.
First, a little background: L.A. Noire is a crime drama-thriller set in 1940s Los Angeles. Players assume the role of Cole Phelps, a war-hero-turned-cop who is in the process of making his way up in the ranks of the L.A.P.D. In a notoriously violent time in L.A.'s past, Phelps finds himself confronted with an unsettling number of possibly connected murder cases.
Of course, the game borrows its name from the film noir genre, dating back to crime dramas of the '40s and '50s that used stylized cinematography and the high contrast of gritty black and white for dramatic effect. While L.A. Noire is presented in color, players have the option of choosing black and white in the display settings.
Every effort was made to recapture the Los Angeles of 1947, from the painstaking details of a residential kitchen to the historic landmarks on the outskirts of town. Aerial photographs, blueprints, public records--just about every resource available--was consulted in the game's reconstruction of the city and the result is absolutely astonishing.… Read more
QR codes aren't just for boring business marketing. We recently checked out Barcode Gallery, a company that sells QR codes (two-dimensional bar codes that link to messages or Web sites) as wall art. Now you can emblazon those codes on a custom T-shirt for a high-tech fashion statement with ScanMe's shirt-printing service.
ScanMe creates a custom QR code just for you. It links to your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter profiles and can include your latest status message, a way to e-mail you, or even your phone number.
Anyone who wants a modicum of privacy can control how much information the scan pulls up. That's smart, because the people you want checking out your LinkedIn account usually aren't the same as the people you want to be friends with on Facebook.
These T-shirts offer more of a fashion statement than a mere black and white collection of boxes within a square. Some of the designs veer off into Threadless territory with the bar code buried within a Space Invaders-style illustration or coming from the mouth of a blue Twitter bird.
ScanMe is a United Kingdom company, but it offers free worldwide postage on the shirts. Prices start around $22 and range up to around $35 per shirt.… Read more
Advanced Excel Repair is a simple but powerful tool for recovering and repairing damaged or corrupted Excel spreadsheets. It's designed for businesses and others who rely on Excel, for whom a lost or damaged file can be either a nuisance or a catastrophe.
Advanced Excel Repair has a simple, attractive dialog-based interface with tabs for Repair, Batch Repair, and Preferences, although Preferences covers nothing more than selecting a directory for temporary files and the internal process buffer size. The default tab, Repair, is dominated by a log display, a progress bar, and a Start Repair button, which offers options … Read more
Genius Scan+ is an excellent application for when you're away on business and need to keep track of expenses, letting you quickly use your iPhone camera to scan receipts for your records. It also comes in handy for making quick copies of documents, shopping lists, or recipes, for example, but really any time you need a quick copy, Genius Scan+ does the job well.
Upon launch, you have the option to use a picture in your iPhone library or to create a new one using the iPhone camera. Once you have your scan, you can use Genius Scan+ to … Read more
The big Apple news out this week was the event that launched the new MacBook Pros--and they are certainly drool-worthy. All three new models are twice as fast as their predecessors, featuring quad-core Intel i7 processors for the 15- and 17-inch models, and dual-core i5 and i7 processors for the 13-inch models. The AMD Radeon graphics processors have been improved along with newly added Thunderbolt technology that lets you use a new port (along side your USB ports) to transfer data at up to 10GB per second. Read our full coverage here.
I'm not sure whether I'll rush out and buy one of these new MacBook Pros with the iPad 2 coming out in April, but that's mostly because I don't have as much use for the high-powered graphics and processing power in my line of work. I also can't afford to buy both.
Are you in the market for a new laptop and thinking about getting a new MacBook Pro? Are you waiting to see what the iPad 2 will offer before pulling the trigger? Are you going to buy both? Let us know in the comments.
This week's apps include a handy image-scanning app for getting quick copies on the go and a 2D side-scrolling game where you can reverse gravity with a touch of your finger.… Read more
That's a lot of photos, though the company likes to point out there are something like 550 billion more, by one estimate, that it views as in danger. "We've got to preserve many more, before they are lost forever," said CEO Sam Allen in a statement.
It's debatable whether digital copies of photos will outlast analog ones, of course. Multiple identical copies of digital images can easily be stored in different locations, protecting against fires, theft, chemical … Read more