Sweet Suite Tools


onOne Software’s Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition is the most exciting set of photo-editing tools to arrive this year.

I’ve been a fan of the software’s previous incarnations, and relied on its  Photoshop plug-ins. Now, however, I launch the new version  in stand-alone mode. Why? Because I love the interface  and the fluid workflow it enables. Everything I need is a mouse-click away. I switch between apps to perform multiple editing tasks, create my own presets,  and batch process images—all under one roof.


Hot, cold, name your pleasure . . .

f you’re not giving books this year, here’s one alternative I swear by: the Hydro Flask, available  from Magellan’s Travel Supplies.  This 21-ounce miracle flask keeps your java hot or your water ice cold for days. (It claims “12 hours hot and 24 hours cold,” but  exceeded that in my tests.)  Sounds almost too good to be true, eh? Well it’s the real deal with a double wall vacuum seal.

It’s not made in China,  so no harmful side-effects. It’s BPA free, and It comes in colors with a Lifetime Warranty.

How cool (and hot) is that?

Whether you’re traveling across the country or just across town, this baby is a must. And while you’re at it, check out Magellan’s other goodies here


They’re all tech’d up, so what do you give?


That’s the problem… what do you give the techie who has everything? The answer, I’ve discovered, is either RAM or external storage space. Nobody has enough. And since giving RAM isn’t practical, an external backup drive saves the day. Well I can’t think of a better model than the G Drive Slim USB 3.0 Drive from G-Technology. It’s cool and practical. Oh, and did I say slim? Well make that “Ultra Slim” …slim as in stocking stuffer slim.

It looks sexy, it’s dependable, it’s light as a wallet sans the cash, and it comes in various capacities. What more could you want in an external drive? And you don’t have to worry whether the techie on your list runs Mac or Windows, the G Drive thrives on either platform. It comes formatted for Macs, but reformatting for Windows is a  two minute snap.

For those on a tight budget, the 500 GB model is the best bet. I have one plugged into my laptop and—in combination with my GoodSync software—I’ve got reliable, automatic backup 24/7, and don’t have to do a thing.

No speed bumps either with the G Drive Slim, it’s  practically airborne at 7200 RPM. (23% faster than 5400 RPM hard drives.)

So there you have it. Something for the techie s/he won’t return. And while you’re at,  give yourself one, too, even if you don’t have everything.


What Fell Between the Cracks?

Here are a few items Santa may have neglected to bring.

It’s about time you consider giving yourself a gift.


Yes, finally there’s a solution for that dreaded “zoom creep.”  If you own a zoom lens you know what I’m talking about. Say, for example, you’re shooting a portrait  and  focus your 18-200 telephoto at an optimal  85…, then, momentarily, you tilt the lens down and–zap–it slips to 200. A royal pain. Now thanks to the  LENS BAND, you can lock in your desired focal length with no more “oops.” It comes in colors and is only $4,99. Check it out at lensband.com



Candy for the Eye, Oh-My!


Here’s our friend–artist Miggs Burroughs–on a recent visit to London. He wasn’t expecting snow (and there wasn’t any) but we decided to give him some since we were jealous.

To do the trick, we went to one of our favorite special effects Photoshop plug-ins, ALIEN SKIN EYE CANDY 7.

Here’s a snowy screen-shot:


Brrr…  it’s cold outside. We’d better do something to warm him up.



OK, but where’s the smoke?

You know what they say…where there’s fire there’s smoke.



That’s pretty good, but I still think we’re missing something. How ’bout some lightning?




Well… maybe it’s a bit over the top, but we’re not using all the tools Eye Candy has to tweak the parameters, we’re just winging it with the default settings because we’re on a tight deadline.

Speaking of which, it’s time to wrap this up…




Now don’t think this is all that Eye Candy has to offer, this is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. You can find out more at www.alienskin.com


Stay tuned for more missing gifts.


Gifts for Readers

You can’t go wrong if you give the book-lover on your list one of the titles on our Best Books list. But if you don’t know which books the person has read, consider an accessory from Gone Reading … like their nifty Wooden Reading Rest. This adjustable book-holder is ideal for folks who like to read at meals— (will even prop up The New York Times at breakfast). You can of course use it in the kitchen to support a cookbook when following a recipe, or to proudly display a favorite coffee table tome. The Reading Rest is a handy tool for reading outdoors, too. It’s sturdy and looks good wherever you use it.

Gone Reading offers a wide variety of cool tools for readers, including book lights, bookmarks, bookplates, jacket covers, journals, and more. (Literary Action Figures, anyone?)

We like their cleverly designed Books To Check Out journal,  which not only helps you organize your reading life, but keep tabs on books you’ve lent out that might otherwise vanish for good.

Visit Gone Reading for more cool stuff.


Two gems I stumbled upon at Barnes & Noble  were these imported blank books.  I quickly snapped them up as I have a feeling they’ll disappear from the shelves soon and won’t be rep;laced.

Cheers to Fractalius!


Here’s a toast to the Photoshop plug-in Fractalius—which has just been updated to version 1.85.

If you want to explore hidden fractal textures and unusual graphic strokes, this plug-in is the ticket. It’s really in a class by itself. For more information visit Redfield Plugins site.


photo by Derek Pell

It seems like only yesterday we reviewed Corel PaintShop Pro X4 (actually it was March 29th)…and now we’ve got X5 Ultimate to contend with.

Right off the bat I can tell you there are new HDR tools and a bonus pack featuring Nik Color Efex Pro 3, among others.  We’ll be digging into the details this month and will have a report here soon.