Four of Our Favorite Things

Here are 4 handy utilities worth their weight in gold. If you want to keep your ship sailing smoothly this summer, you can’t beat these gems: GoodSync; AKVIS Sketch; Sorenson Squeeze; and Snagit.


Sync or Swim

First up is the synchronization powerhouse GoodSync from Siber Systems. We’d be lost without this app which keeps our laptops & desktop PCs backed-up and in sync so we’re all on the same page. GoodSync runs flawlessly on a network (or locally) and is simple to use. All you do is select the folders/subfolders/files you want to keep synchronized and the program sets a connection between them.


Simply click the Analyze button to begin the process.


The above screen-shot shows two folders being analyzed.

The little green arrows indicate files not in sync and point to the folder which needs to be updated. One-way synchronization is super-fast, too. Once the analysis is complete, just click the Sync button and you’re done.


The routine is hassle-free and nearly instantaneous. I launch GoodSync daily before leaving the office to guarantee my laptop is loaded with the latest files.

Go grab GoodSync here:


Draw Me


AKVIS Sketch

We’ve long been fans of the artful software from AKVIS and their new sketch conversion tool is another winner. Sure you can use Photoshop’s native filters to turn a photo into a sketch, but it doesn’t come close to the realism possible with AKVIS Sketch. This dedicated application gives you infinite control over the process while working within two main modes: Artistic and Classic—the latter best suited to color and B&W drawings with well-defined contour lines such as technical illustration and architectural images.

Artistic provides the hand drawn look of an actual living-breathing artist.

Here’s an example of both styles:

AKVIS Sketch


When working on an image, there’s a preview window atop your original which can be moved to sample various areas, or you can simply click on the After tab for a full-sized preview.

AKVIS Sketch

AKVIS Sketch

You’re in the driver’s seat here with the ability to control hatching density, line and stroke thickness, and many other parameters via slider bars. Or you can choose from a list of preset effects.

The program manages to be simple to use, yet capable of extraordinary results once you master the art of fine-tuning the controls.


You can download a trial of AKVIS Sketch here.




Sorenson Squeeze 8.5

As an out-of-the box test I squeezed a 182MB AVI video down to a minuscule 2.49MB (mp4) file in under a minute!  Now I’ve never experienced a compression that fast. It turns out this is direct result of the new accelerated encoding for MPEG-4 in Sorenson Squeeze 8.5. And did I mention the quality was superb?
Yep, that, too.


Without a doubt, Squeeze is the best video compression tool on the market, and the de facto standard for professional workflows. We’ve been using it for years on Zoom Street and now it’s even better.

In addition to rapid compression, here are some highlights in 8.5:

Input: JPEG-2000 (MXF)

Output: MPEG-DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP)

Intel Quick Sync Video (H.264)

Encoding Controls

Encoding Compression Load Settings (Light –> Heavy)

· Enter timecode to place the playhead in the preview window

· Improved search and folder organization

· watermark your videos and add them to preset compression routines





Zoom Street video

The bottom line here, however, is accelerated encoding, which is a significant achievement—especially when you’re converting a batch of videos to multiple formats.

Visit and say, “Squeeze, please!”



Screen Gem


Snagit 11

We’ve been using Snagit for so many years (and so often) that it seems like part of our operating system. It’s certainly central to our workflow when it comes to screen-captures.

Version 11 from TechSmith is the penultimate capture utility—it snags everything from basic full screen images to  regions, menus, scrolling windows, web page images, objects, text from windows, and more. You can even draw free hand areas and  capture them  like this…


freehand capture

We use Snagit to record screen videos and for all our screen-shots used in reviews on Zoom Street.

Perform a quick one-button capture and your results appear within Snagit Editor:

Zoom Street

The editor enables you to add borders, page & edge effects, highlights, arrows, call-outs, watermarks, spotlights and magnifications to your capture. This in addition to basic editing functions such as resize, crop, rotate, trim and chose a background color. In other words, you have total control over the look of your screen captures. You can also export them in every imaginable format, upload via FTP, email, copy to the clipboard, send directly to Microsoft Word, upload to YouTube, etc.

Wow and how! It doesn’t get any better than this.

Check it out here.


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