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January, 2005 "Best" Finds

... software, shareware, freeware

During December we invited readers of the Design Cafe list and DTG to write in and relate a comment or suggestion relating to creative designs for the holidays. More specifically:

PowerPro Win-only FREEWARE

Charles writes:
      "PowerPro This nifty little FREEWARE Win-only program is like a Swiss-Army knife of helper programs. Of the huge number of things it can do well, I use for two simple items:
1) It resides in the caption bar of the active window and allows me to open 12 different programs with only four little buttons. A right, left, or middle mouse click each opens a program. I built little fly-out helper windows to tell me what is what. This is wonderful! The buttons are always acccessible and by using colors that are close-to-but-not-quite the caption bar colors, they are unobtrusive yet right at hand.
2) It outputs what ever string of keystrokes one wants when it sees a certain keystroke WHEN A PARTICULAR WORD OCCURS IN THE WINDOW CAPTION. This is killer! I have it set to input my library card number and password for two different county's library websites depending on which county name appears in the caption. For 'Ford' county it outputs that 12-digit card number abd a 4-digit PIN, for 'Chevy' county, it outputs a different 7-digit card number and 4-digit PIN. NOTE: these are both programmed on THE SAME F11 FUNCTION KEY. When combined with a programmable keyboard (the Gateway 2000) I have one button that does zoom-window in 5 different programs (2 graphics and 3 CAD), and another key that does view-extents in the same 5 programs. This lets me not have to translate hot-keystrokes in my head all the time whne using different programs. This rocks! I have the F10 programmed to type out my signature in any program.
*** PowerPro by Bruce Switzer - Download: Version: 4.1 (09-Oct-2004) 2609 kB "
[END QUOTE] Charles is a photographer from Boring, OR, USA

Digital Juice Drops

Caroline writes:
      "I absolutely LOVE Digital Juice's Juice Drops.
They are royalty-free layered Photoshop files that give you a jump start to your own creative design. They come in many different "flavors" and can be used for just about anything, from web pages to print literature to even video backdrops. They are wonderful because you can manipulate they layers to your heart's content, really personalizing your design. Well worth the investment!
(I work on a PC using Windows 2000, and my favorite software is, of course, Photoshop.)"
[END QUOTE] Caroline is a design professional from Westerville, OH USA

Fractal Design Print Pro

George writes:
      "I work on the MAC using Quark, Illustrator, and Photoshop. The Fractal Design Print Pro plugin has really been a good product find for me. Its a plugin for Photoshop for enlarging files without loosing resolution. You save the file as a Print Pro ".stn" file, then when you open it back up the plugin asks you how large and what resolution you want it in. It really comes in handy for enlarging Photoshop designs for banners and vechile decals."
[END QUOTE] George is a self employed freelancer from Martinsville, VA

[Editor's Note: All the Fractal products were purchased by Corel, and we were unable to locate links to this product.


Nikon & Canon

Bill writes:
      "As far as the "Best" digital camera goes; I prefer Nikon. However, Canon is no slouch. So who's to say which system is really the best. When asked I suggest that my system is Nikon based but the real answer is to pick the best tool that is the most comfortable and intutive to the user.
I am an Adobe fan who appreciates the CS versions of Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign operating on PC systems.
See:, and"
[END QUOTE] Bill is a professional in business from Las Cruces, NM

Converting True Type Fonts

Donna writes:
      "Being in the on-demand printing industry, I've encounted lots of problems. My main headache is problems with Fonts. I think the most valuable freeware out there for any printing professional is the True Type Font Converter. Even though it's not new to 2004, I still think it's one of the most valuable tools I have. I can convert my Mac True Type fonts to a PC format, and a clients True Type PC Fonts to my Mac. I sure cuts down a lot of the hassle of having to stop production because the fonts aren't compatible."
[END QUOTE] Donna is a printing industry professional from Corpus Christi, Texas

[Editor's Note: Donna did not provide links, so we found these. I have used the program she speaks of but there are some issues with it. TransType is a much better product even though it's commercial and not 'free' ...

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