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.

Death Dates in Reunion 9’s Index (Genealogy Tools)

Yesterday, Ben Sayer over at Genealogy Tools published a tutorial on adding and working with death dates in Reunion 9 (Mac OS X genealogy software), and using that information in Reunion’s index report.

Specifically it covers using the information when working with Reunion’s index feature. If you have a large number of individuals, you need all the information to make sure you’re working with the right person, and the date of death is an important part of that.

Normally death dates don’t appear in the index report, and Ben goes through the steps to make sure that they appear.

Full Article: GenealogyTools.com