iMessage Forces Hands

I love iOS 5 on my iPhone. iMessage is so dope. Totally beats BBM. #iPhone #iOS5 #apple #iMessage #BBM anyone else have it?

I’ve been a happy iPhone user since picking mine up on launch day last summer for the iPhone4.  With the announcement of the much anticipated and then slightly disappointing 4s I’ve chosen to not upgrade, there’s not enough bang for the buck and I’m still tied to my current contract for another 8ish months.  What I did do was upgrade to iOS5 though, curious to get some of the new features and functions; one of which is iMessage.

Continue reading »

Use Understudy to stream TV / Movies to your television using Front Row on a Mac

Just over a week ago I published the complete list of websites to stream full TV shows and movies from, the legal way to stream content to your computer.   The problem is, I don’t want to watch videos on my computer, I have a 42” plasma that I’d much prefer to watch TV and movies on from the comfort of my couch.  Yesterday Twitter user @scpi shared a link to an obscure piece of software featured here on Macworld called Understudy.  The article on Macworld is well written but simply doesn’t convey how awesome Understudy really is.

In a nutshell, Understudy is a small plugin that works in conjunction with the Front Row application on Macs (must run Leopard) to gain access to both your existing Netflix account and Hulu by default, other streams can be added in by the end user.  So why on earth am I so stoked for this?  Simple, I can now use the Apple Remote Control to navigate Front Row after connecting my Macbook to my plasma from my couch!  It’s easier than it sounds.

Here’s what I used to make this work:

My Macbook came with the remote, so my total investment was less than $25, depending on the total length of cables you need your out of pocket expenses could vary.  My plasma has HDMI inputs; make sure yours does before starting.

Install Understudy by downloading the package file and double clicking it.  Since the manual for their software is pretty much just the source code for other coders to look at, you should know that’s all you need to do, it doesn’t say that anywhere on their site though.  Understudy is not a stand alone application, so you won’t need to launch it by itself.   Launch your web browser and make sure you are logged into Hulu (free to create an account) and if you use it, Netflix.  In Netflix, add some movies or TV shows to your Watch Instantly queue.  Start up Front Row either from the Applications folder or by pressing the Menu button on the Apple Remote.  You’ll now see the Understudy icon show up in the list of options.  Navigate through the menu to add Netflix movies and Hulu streams, this can all be done by the remote control.  The only thing that still isn’t perfect is finding shows on Hulu from Front Row, as you have to add streams such as Popular Today or Newly Added Movies, so it might take a few minutes to find the exact show you are looking for.  Understanding that Understudy was meant to work with the Apple remote, I can only imagine that no search box will be added, but perhaps as the plugin becomes more developed they ability to add streams by network can added.

To connect my Macbook to my TV was pretty straightforward.  I used the Mini DV to HDMI adapter on the side of the Macbook, then connected the HDMI cable to it and the other end to the TV, this transfers the video content.  Connect the Mini audio cable to the headphone jack of the Macbook and, in my case, I plugged the white and red RCA jacks into the back of my stereo receiver, but could have easily plugged them right into my TV’s audio inputs as well.  That takes care of sound.  Lastly, make sure to have power to your laptop, don’t want the battery to die in the middle of a movie; again if you are using a Mini, you need power to work.

Getting the video to display on the plasma is takne care of, doing it so the laptop screen goes to sleep took a bit of experimenting to get working properly on my Macbook (not Pro, not applicable to a Mini).  In the preferences pane, set the display to Mirror with a second monitor attached, not Span.  On the TV, change the input to the HDMI (this is usually done with your TV remote control and choosing the source option, much in the same way you’d select a DVD player) and you should see the same on the laptop screen as the TV.  It was annoying to watch a movie with my Macbook on the stand below my plasma showing the same thing, but there is no easy way to sleep the Macbook’s display and keep the stream on the TV, but there is a trick!

Close the lid to the Macbook, wait for it to go to sleep, the hard drive will stop spinning and the light on the front will start to pulse slowly.  Plug a USB drive into the Macbook, this will wake the computer up and start the hard drive to spin, wait about 15-20 seconds and open the lid to the Macbook.  The display on the Macbook is now in sleep mode and enables the video to continue to work on the Plasma.

Edit: Randomn3ss commenter joelco pointed out that simply lowering the LCD brightness on my Macbook would turn it totally black, skip everything in the top 2 paragraphs, that’s much wasier!

Get comfortable on your couch, use the Apple remote to start Front Room and enjoy watching Hulu and Netflix on your television.  I will be experimenting with adding other feeds into Understudy from the laundry list I now have and will be looking at purchasing a Mac Mini sometime in the soon future to use full time as a media center so my Macbook can remain my working computer.

Reclaim disk space on your Mac in 5 minutes

Last year I bought my way into the cool club with a Macbook and haven’t looked back.  At the time of purchase there was a pretty hefty difference between the 120gb hard drive I got and the 160gb drive on the upgraded models, nothing else was readily available for the Macbooks and I figured the 120gb would suit me just fine.  It more or less has, but I did gut the 250gb hard drive from Ubuntu box I built more than a year and a half ago because it was getting dusty and backed up my entire 60gb iPod and started to archive photo shoots from 2007 and the first half of 2008 to clear space on the Macbook.

For a working computer, 120gb suits me fine; I don’t need 500gb or more of photo archives or movies stored locally.  What I could use is an extra few gigs deleted out of the Mac OSX install that I never use, but how do I do this and what could be deleted?  A few weeks ago I got my answer from an RSS feed in my reader (sadly I don’t recall which blog) that would grant me my wishes of reclaiming disk space.

A very small application called Monolingual installs simply and quickly and lets you delete unused languages from your OSX install.  Don’t know about you, but I only use English, I will never have a need for Cantonese language set.  Running the application is simply, most languages are already ticked but I went through and ticked everything except for English and Spanish (who knows, maybe I will learn Spanish one day).  Click Remove and sit back and wait.  In less than 5 minutes I freed up 2.4gb of space!

Officially, the software,

is a program for removing unnecessary language resources from Mac OS X, in order to reclaim several hundred megabytes of disk space.  It requires at least Mac OS X 10.3.9 (Panther) and also works on Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger).

Additionally, should you delete the English resources your install will be FUBAR’d and you will start to cry.  This should be added to one of those few things that just about everyone does when they first get a Mac or reinstall the operating system.  Does anyone know of a similar program that will remove all the printer drivers and devices that I’ll never use?

F*ck with your coworkers

General disclaimer. You should only do these non damaging practical pranks to your coworkers computers if you are on good terms with them and can actually take a joke. I, nor Randomn3ss will take the blame for you getting fired because you wanted to get a laugh at someone else’s expense. OK, now that the bullshit is over with, thanks to Scott for passing this little gem of a site onto me!

The concept is simple. When your coworker goes for a potty break or to fill up their coffee mug, slip in front of their computer, download and install a small application and then laugh at their expense. RGL Software supplies dozens of these fun, non-harmful applications, the best in my opinion is based on Clippy, possibly the most annoying thing Microsoft ever created.

RGL’s version of Clippy can be downloaded here, and once installed will pop up randomly with sayings like,

  • It appears you are connected to the Internet.
  • I see that you have been using your mouse.
  • Your computer seems to be turned on.
  • It looks like your keyboard is working correctly.
  • Your productivity has been decreasing lately. I hope everything is ok.
  • Sometimes I just popup for no particular reason, like now.
  • I have detected a mouse move, this was normal.
  • Your posture seems to be degrading, please reposition yourself now.

The best part is that they give you instructions on how you can customize these messages to really screw with your coworkers. This will work on all versions of Windows from 95 to and including Vista. Now go have a laugh at your coworkers expense.

Halo 3 Drops Today!!

I reported it here first… well, not first, but whatever, I reported it and I’m gonna link back to it. For those of you who spent the last 9 hours sleeping instead of PLAYING THE LATEST CHAPTER OF ONE OF THE BEST VIDEO GAME FRANCHISES OF ALL TIME, then you weren’t aware that Halo 3 from Microsoft and Bungie Games dropped at midnight. If most of your male and/or nerdy co-workers are absent today, it’s because they’ve been up all night shit-talking to 12-year-olds in Kansas via XBOX Live and shooting the shit out of each other in Slayer mode. Halo 3 is Microsoft’s core game (with Master Chief being it’s new hero) and they apparently had everyone at Bungie working their asses off to make this deadline. Well, they did, beating out RockStar Games (GTA4 got pushed back until freaking 2008) and making this the sure hit of 2007.

Sadly, I have not gotten the chance to try it out yet. My buddy Dan is picking it up after work and hopefully he won’t kick me off his front lawn where I will sit until he lets me in to play.

Here’s a screenshot from the game to hold you over until you get home from work:

halo3.jpg

Mac word processor review: Bean

Nearly a week into making the switch to my new Macbook, I think I’ve found a decent word processor, one other than Microsoft Word. I’ve previously tried AbiWord and OpenOffice, each have their own characteristics to them that I liked, however the negatives to each were far greater. OpenOffice was pretty much a diaster, not user friendly at all and as much as I wanted to like AbiWord, the spacing of words on anything other than 100% was terrible. Most of the time when I write articles, I prefer to do so at 120-150%, just my preferance. Sure I could just increase the font size but that causes problems when I want to print, since 12pt looks just fine on printed paper.

On the suggestion of Randomn3ss commenter Joe, I downloaded and installed Bean. Bean is one of the first programs I saw on several sites listing open source software for Macs but I overlooked it, I’ve had success with OpenOffice on Windows and figured it would be very similar on Mac so that was my first choice. Upon first launching the processor, I knew that a coder didn’t write this program, it’s aesthetically beautiful to look at, well as nice as a word processor could be.

As a blogger, it has two of the most important things that I need and use,

  • Easily zoom in and out
  • Word / character counting

The zooming is done live via a left to right slide bar in the bottom left of the application, this is a slick idea, one I’ve never seen done before.

The word / character count is also live and in the middle bottom of the application, as you type, it updates. This is particulary handy for me because when an article that I’m writing starts to get close to the 1,000 word point, I consider splitting it up into two parts. For school students who need to meet a minimum word count, this feature alone is a time saver.

I’ve written the last few articles in Bean and now this one, I’m rather fond of it. Each time I use it there are a few more features and functions that show to be more useable. This definitely isn’t a piece of software that you need to read a book to use, finding answers to what you want to do is really intuitive.

The only down side to Bean and the two other word processors I’ve used is that they don’t do grammar checking, only spelling, which is built into the Mac anyway. If there was a grammar plugin for Bean, it would be everything I need from a word processor. I’m leaving AbiWord and OpenOffice installed for a few more days, just to make sure there isn’t anything from that that I may need from them, but Bean is the clearly the break away word processor from the pack.

Mac word processing review: OpenOffice & AbiWord

Three days into using my new Macbook and one thing not built in to my liking is a word processor. TextEdit is nice, but just seems lacking and not robust enough, not that I’m a super user of word processing, but it just felt lacking. Microsoft Office is an option, but I didn’t want to pig up the hard drive space with bloated software, even though Word is what I am very used to on Windows based systems.

OpenOffice.org is really interesting, I’ve used it on Ubuntu and a few times on Windows, it is a really polished system, but for Mac they only really offer the Alpha software called Aqua, which comes with a nice big warning message

DO NOT USE THIS SOFTWARE FOR REAL WORK IN A PRODUCTION ENVIRONMENT

Even with that big warning, I downloaded and installed the program last night and wrote Dig a big hole for a little rock article, works really well even if it is in alpha. I don’t really have any complaints about it, but it just didn’t feel like it was giving me enough.

Today, as I sit here using the WiFi at a local Panera Bread, I installed the open source word processor AbiWord. It is super clean and aesthetically resembles Word a lot. Writing this article is my first time using it, but there are some minor issues that I’m not fond of. Mainly, the spacing. Viewing the page at 100% in 12pt Times New Roman font on this monitor, running at 1280×800 is a bit small. Zooming to page width or 200% (no 150%) is much easier on the eyes, however the spacing is way off for the letters. By this I mean the space between letters and words is off. See the screen capture below.

Outside of that, I really like the program. Common things I use like word count are readily available, however other things like spell check use different shortcut keys. In most programs, F7 will do spell checking, for Mac, FN + F7 usually does it. For AbiWord, Command + Shift + : does it. Not a bad thing, just different. It will take a bit more writing to choose, I may install MS Word just to see what it’s like in OSX, but open source stuff tends to be a bit smaller and faster.

Anyone have suggestions on any other word processors I should be looking into?�

How to get better prints from your digital camera

Over the last 7 years or so I’ve teetered on the scale somewhere between advanced amateur and semi-professional photographer. The reason for the teeter is that one classification just doesn’t seem to fit everyone and I’m not everyone. Since about 2000, I’ve been taking photography pretty seriously, in spurts, but still with a good amount of vigor. During this time I’ve had images published in several national magazines, used for CD covers, promotional flyers, inserts in books, and countless websites and so on, so I’d say I’ve learned a few things along the way, mostly at a price and over a longer period of time than it should have been. Additionally, I’ve worked in the photographic print industry for the last three years, mainly doing IT work, but in the industry none the less. Over this last three years I’ve realized most people don’t know how to get a decent print from their digital camera, I’m going to share some really simple tips to help with this.

  • Shoot better
  • Understand your camera
  • Take a class
  • Learn what white balance is
  • Know what size print you are ordering from what size file
  • How to crop your files and understand aspect ratios
  • Making edits on your computer
  • Don’t convert to grayscale
  • Don’t print at home
  • Order lots of samples

First and foremost, shoot better. Just like nearly anything else in life, the better you start with the better you end up with. Several months ago I gave you 5 tips for getting better photographs, if you haven’t read it, it is a good base.

Understand your camera and what all the little buttons and dials do on it; learn how to navigate through the menu options and what everything means. Back when most people shot film, they really only had a few choices, the two major ones were color or black and white. For color, they needed to choose chrome (aka slide or positive) or negative film. Once that choice was made, regular or tungsten, based on the lighting conditions and then onto the actual film characteristics and grain. Black and white was mostly about choosing the right speed film for the application and how much or little grain you wanted. Confused? Not a big deal, don’t get too worried about it. Be aware however that with your point and shoot digital camera, you have even more options than that, they are all laid out in your owners manual. Most of this stuff is pretty self explanatory, camera manufactures have presets for most conditions, take the few minutes to flip through the manual and figure them out, Auto mode isn’t always best.

Can’t get a grip on what all these terms are or what the crazy buttons and dials all mean? Look up the camera shop in your area, chances are they offer cheap or free classes on the basics of photograph and / or basics of digital cameras. These classes, usually under $20, are designed to help you feel more confident with your camera so you can enjoy it, not be mad at it. Usually they are anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours long and a once and done class, this isn’t something to be scared about getting locked into. Want more knowledge, check with the local community college, most now offer several levels of digital photography classes.

White balance is a funny thing that no one outside of photographers really seems to grasp onto, but it is possibly the single most important element in digital photography. Without going into some crazy dissertation as to what it is, I’ll simply give you an example. The image on the right shows streetlights, you can see how green they are, this is something we should all be familiar with. In the example on the right of the fluorescent bulbs, often seen in schools and office buildings, you can see how white / blue they are. They are both light bulbs however they shine at a different temperature, this is called Kelvin. If you were to hold a piece of white paper under each of these light sources, you would see the color cast projected onto them.

All digital cameras made in the last 5+ years have a setting to adjust the white balance in them; this is meant to compensate for the different color light that emits from different sources. Auto works most of the time, however it fails miserably when shooting in school gyms or outside at night with no flash. Camera manufactures have made this fairly easy, making the choices in most models symbols of what each light looks like. Look at your situation, look at the camera’s white balance symbols and match them up.

Understanding what size print is native to your camera and associating that with a print is possibly one of the most painful experiences I’ve seen consumers make while working in the industry. It is simple math once you understand it, but too many choices have confused the hell out of nearly everyone. Most point and shot digital cameras on the market shoot in 4:3rds mode. This means that the aspect ratio is 4:3. Since I’m aiming this article at the amateur photographer, I won’t get anyone confused with the DSLR market. That said most people who have had film pictures printed are pretty used to ordering a 4×6” print. Problem is, your shiny new point and shoot digital has a native picture size of 4×5.3”, not 4×6”. One of two things will happen, depending on who does your printing, cropping will occur or you will end up with two thin white borders on your images. It gets even more confusing when you start to look at larger sizes, such as 5×7, 8×10, etc. It is crucial that you either do cropping ahead of time on your computer or you find a place that will give you the proper aspect ratio prints, these are sometimes referred to as 4xD, D for digital, but usually just called 4×5.3 or 4×5.33 prints.

Exploring this cropping a bit more, I found a piece of [Windows only] free software called JPEGCrops, a super simple program that allows you to crop to a specific size and maintain proper aspect ratio. I personally do all of my cropping in Adobe Photoshop, however spending a grand on a piece of software isn’t in everyone’s budget and this is not only free, but super small, fast and really easy to use.

Download and install it, then go to Start > Programs > JPEGCrops to launch it. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the layout; I’m not paid by the guy who wrote it, I just think it’s a nice little program. This also means I’m not his tech support, however we will customize the settings a bit to make it more user friendly and I will answer questions that I am capable of.

Click File > Preferences, this brings up Settings applet. Delete out the sizes you won’t be using, mostly anything that is in centimeters and the European paper sizes like A4. When you are done with that, highlight 4×5 and then Edit that size so it is 4×5.3. You may want to check with whoever is doing your printing to see if they offer other sizes, like 8×12 and add those in there as well. For convenience, I suggest moving the 4×5.3 and 4×6 options to the top. When you are done, click OK at the bottom of the applet to return to the program

Click the Open Images button to select an image to work with and select the 4×5.3 size, you may need to tick the Flip Aspect button depending if you are working with a horizontal or vertical images. You should see no cropping occurring.

Now select the 4×6 crop option from the drop down box and notice where the cropping will occur on the image, this is what I was talking about when I said order the proper size print from the proper file. Had you gone ahead and ordered a 4×6, you’d loose a sliver off each side, not a big deal in this photo; it can be in others though.

You can do this with any size you are ordering, just make sure you do crop and order the proper size. A word to the wise, when you save, do not over-write your original. Save the image as a new file, I’d suggest appending the file name with _cropped, so you know next time you go to order.

To crop in closer to the subject matter, simply left click on the corner of the white outline and drag inwards. Because the aspect ratio is set, you can’t free crop and screw this up. In the example below, I’ve cropped in closer to the subject and maintained the 4×5.3 aspect ratio; this would mean ordering a 4×5.3 print would also be in order.

Digital photography has allowed us all to soft-proof on the computer prior to order, it also allows us to edit files. This is not entirely a good thing and you may be very unhappy with the print results if you don’t take a couple of steps prior to making edits on your home computer. Most computer monitors and nearly all laptops are not color balanced when you buy them, the brightness and contrast are usually set to 100%. This means that the colors you see on the monitor are not truly what the output is going to be on any given printer. To complicate matters, the ambient light in the room where you use your computer will have a direct reflection on what your eyes determine colors to be. I won’t bore you with the details, but be aware that making even slight adjustments to color, density, brightness or contrast to an image can be drastic changes on the printers end. If you are truly serious about editing on your computer, look into getting a monitor calibration unit. Every professional lab uses them to color balance their monitors. How can you check to see how bad your monitor is off color? Take a photograph of something you know and see daily that doesn’t change, like your front door, mailbox, etc. Ensuring you are properly exposed and the white balance is correct, send it off to a lab to have it printed with the request please do not make color corrections (more on this later). When you get the print, hold it up next to the subject you shot, it should be really close. Now take that same print and hold it next to your computer monitor with the digital file on screen and compare. I’m willing to bet you will be shocked at the difference you see. If you don’t want to spend the money on a calibration unit or go through the hassle of using it ever 4 weeks, learn to trust your lab’s judgment. Dan’s Camera has gone as far to post on their site,

If you are going to have Dan’s make prints for you, do not adjust the images. Our expert technicians use state of the art machines and software to adjust each image for you at No Charge. Since every computer monitor is calibrated differently, the corrections you make could negatively impact your photos. Feel free to crop, using a software program that maintains the proper proportions.

Don’t convert to grayscale if you want black & white prints. There are several ways in many different photo editing programs to get your images black & white, the trouble is, most offer grayscale as an option. Grayscale is a color space, not a conversion that will work anywhere properly, except for text printers. All labs and all printers print in the sRGB color space, converting to grayscale strips the important data out of your file that the printers need to make a quality black & white print. If you don’t know how to do the conversion properly, simply ask your lab to do it for you, most do at no extra charge and you’ll be more than pleased with the results.

I just suggested you send a sample photo off to your lab; note that I did not suggest you print it at home. Home printing of digital files is not only complicated, it’s downright expensive. There is more color management and calibration to do and the cost per print when you factor in the printers cost, ink and paper is usually 4-20 times that of a real lab. Most home inkjet prints also start to fade within a few years. The only time I advise someone to purchase and use a printer at home for digital photography prints is if they need instant gratification, say if a grandparent is in town and wants prints of their new grandbaby. Outside of that, avoid them.

Order lots and lots of sample prints! The digital print market is booming, as a result, most places give away 10-20 digital prints, shipping on these freebies is usually only a buck or two, so give them a test ride. I’m making this suggestion because every lab is different. There is no given industry standard for matte or glossy paper, most places use Kodak or Fuji, however there are dozens of different finishes for each. Other factors will come into play as well, such as speed of delivery, cost of shipping, customer service, quality of packaging, so on and so on. I’d also highly suggest giving your local lab a try. Chances are they are a few pennies more than the big box store, but they will more than likely better build a rapport with you and give you much better customer service. Building a rapport can be extremely important when you need favors out of them, such as a same day rush on prints, something you can’t always get from an online or big box service. Another thing to consider is the level of corrections being given to your prints. Some places now offer a no correction checkbox. If you are comfortable with your monitor setup and have done samples, use this, for most people, don’t use this option. Nearly every major lab, even the big box stores, has someone sitting at a printer looking at your files and making color corrections to them. This is done to give you the best quality print. Getting samples made from several different sources will help show you who is doing what and to what extent. When you find a lab you like, stick with them! Additionally, when you place your sample order, use the same set of photos for each place! I know it is really tempting to order 10 from here and 10 from there and so on, but use the same set of files. This will allow you to really compare the print quality from store to store. Some of the places I’d suggest trying out are:

Concluding, photography is very much a growing hobby and passion for many people now, it can also be extremely frustrating, like any new hobby. Ask questions, don’t be afraid to take classes, learn as much as you can, it will all pay off in the end.

Resources:

Mac saber and tilt scream pong, taking Macs to a geeky new level

A few days ago an Apple loving co-worker showed me a new piece of software installed on his MacBook Pro laptop, Mac Saber. While I don’t have an embarrassing video of my co-worker to share, a quick search on YouTube yielded this overly happy Mac geek.

[youtube ba9GwAGkvco]

It is based on the sudden motion sensor built into the new Mac laptops that essentially detects when the laptop has moved a significant amount and tells the computer to spin down the hard drive so no data is lost. The purpose for this being built was in case you dropped your laptop, it was smart enough to know it was being dropped and spin down the hard drive and park the read / write heads to prevent any physical damage to the platters inside the drive. Also for those idiots who insist on walking around with their laptops powered on and open.

This technology isn’t new, it has been used for years in digital cameras to auto-rotate an image. These sudden motion sensors can be setup to know what level is and 90 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise. Additionally, they are used in video cameras and cell phones, so they’ve been around for a while.

Mac users tend to be a little more on the geeky side and being based on the UNIX kernel; all the UNIX geeks are now writing small little apps for Mac users as well.

Yesterday my co-worker installed a new, frighteningly more geeky game onto his laptop based on both the sudden motion sensors and the built in microphone, Tilt Scream Pong. While this is more of a one person Pong game, it is unique in that, like the name implies, you tilt the laptop to move the paddle around. After a few seconds the ball speeds up and a second one is introduced. When you feel that you need a little help, simply scream out and the paddle grows in size. The louder you scream, the bigger the paddle, the easier it gets to play the game, that’s how it’s supposed to work anyway. Take a look at this chick going nuts flailing her spendy laptop around and screaming like an idiot.

[youtube X7aJU5RfSFA]

Generally speaking, moving a laptop around in this kind of manor while turned on is not the best of ideas, but leave it up to those silly Mac users to come up with a way to look amazingly stupid while doing so. I’d strongly advise that, should you install either of these, you do not use them in public nor make videos to upload to YouTube for all of us to laugh at.

How to recover lost files

In a previous article I wrote about keeping your camera memory card healthy, what happens if you accidentally erase all those images? Even worse, what if the hard drive in your computer starts to give you problems or you’ve deleted something and now you need to recover deleted files from the trash can. There is hope, a small yet robust piece of software called Handy Recovery can probably bring everything back for you.

As with all software that is worth a dang, Handy Recovery is free to try. In my honest opinion you should never have to pay for something without being able to give it a try. The software is small, installs fast but is extremely powerful. I tested it on a memory card that I had recently deleted all the files from (on purpose) and was able to salvage everything that was on it and even some images that I didn’t know would come back.

The software will run on Microsoft Windows 9x/Me/NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista operating systems. The program supports all Windows file systems for hard and floppy drives including FAT12/16/32, NTFS/NTFS 5 and image recovery from CompactFlash, SmartMedia, MultiMedia and Secure Digital cards. It can recover compressed and encrypted files on NTFS drives. Sorry Mac and Linux folks, this one is Windows only.

My experience also tells me that this should work fine on Sony memory sticks, xD memory cards, and micro SD and mini SD cards. When I ran my test, it was using the built in card reader in my computer, I doubt this will work if you leave the card in the camera and attach it to the computer via the USB cable.

To use it, download the trial, install it, run the application. You’ll see a window very similar to Windows Explorer with the tree structure. Select the drive you want to recovery from the drop down menu on the left and hit recover. You’ll soon start to see a list of files (and folders) showing up. Highlight all of them and recovery to the specified folder of your choosing. One of the really nice things about this software is that it will tell you prior to recovery the files what the likelihood of a good recovery will be. It also runs very fast, doing my entire 2GB CF card recovery in only a few minutes.

A license for the software will cost you $39 after the 30 day trial has expired. If you are an avid photographer or just really good at getting viruses on your computer, it is a small price to pay for the ability to recovery lost documents and family vacation photos.

Disclaimer: This was a sponsored review.