Related Software Updates – Feb 16, 2012 Edition

This marks the start of a weekly series, not always on the same day, where I’m going to cover software updates that maybe of interest to Mac-using genealogists.

VueScan 9.0.80 was released today. It’s scanning software for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux, and has been my preferred scanning software for several years. It handles a large amount of scanners and provides more features than most factory-default software that comes with your scanner. There is also an iOS version of VueScan (VueScan Mobile – Hamrick Software) that takes advantage of WiFi-enabled scanners to scan straight to your iOS device.
More information: Hamrick.com (VueScan website).

iPhoto Library Manager 3.7.3 was released yesterday, mainly covering bug fixes. iPhoto Library Manager is aptly named – it allows you to have multiple iPhoto libraries, rather than having everything contained within one iPhoto library. It also supports copying photos from one iPhoto library to another. I use it to keep track of photos from different branches of my family (and my wife’s family) as well as separate personal/family photos (vacation, holiday, etc.) from older genealogy-related photos. It supports Mac OS X 10.4.11 or higher, and iPhoto 4.0.3 or higher. Handy for those using older Macs and older versions of iPhoto.
More information: Fat Cat Software
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Apple Announces Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion

Apple has announced Mac OS X 10.8, aka Mac OS X Mountain Lion today, or rather the developer preview of Mac OS X Mountain Lion, which is the ninth major release of Mac OS X (don’t forget Mac OS X 10.0! – I know we try to forget Mac OS X 10.0, but that was a long time ago). It brings in several features from its mobile iOS platform, including Messages (covered here), Notes, Reminders, Game Center, Notification Center, Share Sheets, Twitter integration and AirPlay mirroring. Mountain Lion also introduces Gatekeeper, which controls/helps secure your Mac. Gatekeeper provides “complete control over what apps are installed on your Mac“.

It’s being built with a focus on making iCloud integration easy to use and easy for developers to integrate with Mac OS X applications, allowing for easy access to your data between applications, as well as an online backup.

There is a lot going on with Mountain Lion, and I’ll be talking more about it as I take a look at the developer preview.

For now, I’m interested to see how well the iCloud integration is, and whether Mac genealogy software developers are able to better use it to provide an easy way to sync and share genealogy information between Mac OS X genealogy applications and genealogy apps on iOS devices. Apple is already doing things that benefits genealogists – easy backups with Time Capsule and iCloud, and pushing the idea of making your data available anywhere, without a lot of effort on your part. A lot of us have probably experienced the issue of losing data due to a computer crash in the past or just not being able to have easy access to our data/information away from our “main” computer or Mac.
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Apple Releases Messages Beta from Mac OS X Mountain Lion

It may seem odd that I mention this first, but I want to get this out of the way. Messages Beta is the first application released to the general public from Apple’s Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

Messages replaces iChat, but retains iChat’s services/information. More importantly, it unifies instant messaging/communications across Apple’s two platforms – Mac OS X and iOS. It’s the Mac OS X version of iMessage, similar to what iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch users running iOS 5 have.

Some of the features of Messages
* Unlimited iMessages sent between any Mac or iOS 5 device
* Conversations can be continued between Macs, iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches
* Photos, videos, documents, and other information can be sent.
* Can launch FaceTime video calls
* Supports iMessage, AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, and Jabber accounts/protocols

It is true that there are already cross-platform messaging systems for Macs (and Windows) such as Skype, but this is much more heavily integrated with the OS, and a little more intuitive across multiple platforms.

Link/Source: Mac OS X Mountain Lion – Messages Beta

GenSmarts for Mac OS X – We Need This

Back in December, a call for beta testers was posted on the GenSmarts website.

For those of you who have come over from the world of Windows-based genealogy, you may be familiar with GenMarts. If you’ve been a Mac genealogist for a longtime, or have never used GenSmarts, GenSmarts is not an actual genealogy application. It’s more of a genealogy utility, as it interacts with your genealogy application and its genealogy data. It analyzes your data and then provides a list of recommendations for research possibilities – perhaps you’ve not investigated the census information of a particular individual or family that could provide you information about a previous generation (such as the parents). It can also list online websites where you can do this research, and you can even tell it which sites you have accounts or subscriptions too.

It already supports Family Tree Maker, but I’m not sure if it will support Family Tree Maker for Mac (or FTM for Mac 2). That is something I will test out with CrossOver and FTM for Mac 2. Mac users can obviously use it – just have virtualization software with a Windows VM (Virtual Machine) setup such as Parallels Desktop for Mac, VMWare Fusion, or VirtualBox, and generate a GEDCOM file from your Mac software, and then copy it over into the VM. Or use something like CrossOver from CodeWeavers, which makes it even easier since you aren’t loading a full VM session.

During the beta test application, there is a mention of whether a Mac version of GenSmarts is important to you. You rate a list of features from the most important to you to least important, and “Make it work on my Mac” is mentioned, implying a Mac version. Among the list of hardware it asks if you own, a Mac is mentioned, along with Apple iPad and Apple iPhone. Among the most important features, it mentions being able to access GenSmarts’ suggestions on a mobile/portable device.

If GenSmarts is something that interests you, I would head over to the beta application (link – upper right side of website – GenSmarts), and I would pay close attention to Question #3 – What software do you plan to use for genealogy data (you can mention Mac genealogy software in the “Other” section). In Question #4, you can mention that you have a Mac and/or iPad and/or iPhone. In Question #5, you can list how important “Make it work on my Mac” is to you. Finally, at the very bottom, Question #11, there is a section for additional comments you can make.

If I had to make a list of the top 5 genealogy-related applications I’d like to see ported over from the Windows/PC world, this would head the top of the list.

Video – Content Aware features of Photoshop CS6

Photoshop has been releasing videos on YouTube of “sneak peeks” concerning Adobe PhotoShop CS6, Adobe’s upcoming Photoshop release. While it’s interesting that they all seem to be using Photoshop CS6 running on Mac OS X, this video in particular is of interesting to me and other genealogists who use software to correct old images that we’ve scanned in.

The video below was put together by Photoshops’ Senior Product Manager, Bryan O’Neil Hughes, and it focuses on using Photoshop’s Content Aware features (Content Aware Fill, Content Aware Move, etc.) and the improvements that have been made from CS5 – CS6. The Content Aware functionality allows you to remove objects from images, or in our case, flaws (tears, water damage, writing). With the CS6 demo below, you can see Content Aware Move – moving items around.

I wasn’t too impressed with Photoshop CS5’s Content Aware features – I happen to use AKVIS Retoucher which has worked a lot better for me.

If you would like to see a larger version of the video, click on the “YouTube” label on the video (bottom right).

Some of the new features in Photoshop CS6, I wouldn’t use as much, such as moving items around within a photo – I try to leave photos as they were taken, other than to remove problems (rips, creases, damage), or to correct lighting/contrast, etc., but they’ve still come a long ways with Content Aware. I’ll stick to Retoucher for now, but it’s nice to see Adobe is paying attention to this.

If you’d like to see some of the other upcoming features of Photoshop CS6, Adobe has a few other “sneak peeks” and features on their YouTube channel.

Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 – Amazon UK, Plus a Tutorial for Adding Names

Last week, Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 showed up on the Amazon UK website. Here in the US, it’s from Nova Development and supported through Ancestry.com. In the United Kingdom, it’s from Avanquest Software and supported through Ancestry.co.uk.

Link: Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 – Amazon.co.UK

The UK version is being marked as the “UK Version” and does include a 6-month “Premium Membership” to Ancestry.co.uk. It’s also listed as the Platinum Edition if you are looking for an equivalent edition to compare to the Windows versions.

Speaking of Family Tree Maker, in addition to a nice new site re-design, Ben Sayer over at Genealogy Tools has also published a tutorial covering Adding Names in Family Tree Maker.