The internet is expanding into a vast motion picture and its engine is Flash. Pretty mysterious stuff to many, especially if you pay the toll (the "over-toll") for Adobe's Flash program. Talk about a learning curve! But there's a friendlier, easier to use, and way less expensive alternative. It's called Swish Max2. This gem of a program has been around a long time and probably has more users and devotees than all the other flash programs combined. Out of the box, Swish Max2 is ready to go with plenty of templates and samples. You can make a movie right off the bat. That's right, Swish Max2 makes movies - little movies, big movies, movies with music, soundtracks, links, forms, movies within movies, myriad types of videos, all ready to be inserted into a web page or published as a standalone page using the Swish supplied html.
The Swish interface is intuitive and easy to navigate. A quick read of the various menus tells you all you need to know to get started.
Here's quick list of Swish's features:
Creates Stunning Flash Animations and Websites with Ease
Includes over 350 Preset Multimedia Effects
Includes over 180 Ready-to-use Components and Vector Shapes
Import Images, Graphics, Sound and Video from all popular formats
Export Presentations to Flash, Video, EXE, GIF Animation or Image Sequence
Powerful Scripting Language for Advanced Users
Tools to Control Motion, Draw Shapes, Edit Text, and more.
Obviously, there are a lot more features and Swish also offers a wide range of templates (separate charge) which you can use to create instant, elegant websites. It's all backed up by good online help and excellent support at their website. There's even a neat new version called miniMax2 which is easier and quicker to use if you don't need very complex web pages.
But don't get me wrong, Swish Max2 has advanced levels and tools that are a professional designer's delight and are equal to if not better than any other Flash program out there.
The Swish people also produce a bevy of companion programs such Swish Video and Swish Jukebox which we'll be reviewing in later issues.
You can get complete details about Swish Max2 including a demo and a free fully-functional 15-day version at: www.swishzone.com
In our neverending quest for a good night's sleep, we're constantly on the lookout for a reliable way to protect our precious data. Yes, I'm talking about backup. There are a number of solutions out there, all with their own wrinkles and some rather pricey. The worst pitfall is in the programs that have their own proprietary format which means you can't use your backups with any other program and you have to maintain the software. Well, dear reader, we finally found what we're looking for—a reliable and responsible backup program, easy to use, reasonably priced, and full of smart features including "set it and forget it". It's Backup4all, and right to the point, this carefully deisgned program backs up your files in a Zip format, which can be read by any zip application and allows you to explore your backed up files in the "Explorer" fashion you're accustomed to.
Backup4all's interface is not only intuitive, it's based on common sense as if it were designed by a user, like you or me, rather than a geeky engineer.
It's just that simple and friendly!
Here's an abbreviated list of features taken right from Backup4all's documentation. And we state, unequivocally, they're all there and they all work beautifully.
Backup and restore wizards
Backup4all was designed to be an easy-to-use backup program. It comes with separate wizards for backing up and restoring. The backup wizard for example lets you create a new backup job by selecting Where, What, How and When to backup.
Free backup plugins
You can load plugins for backing up or restoring specific programs' settings or other custom data (like game saves, email data, etc.).
Backup4all offers four backup types to choose from: full backup, differential backup, incremental backup and mirror backup.
Easy File and Folder Selection
You can browse a folder tree to select several files and folders as source of the backup or you can include or exclude them individually.
You can configure Backup4all to send custom emails after a backup finished, with success, error and warning notifications.
You can easily define a data backup job for My documents, My pictures or backup Outlook Express emails and settings from the predefined backups list.
You can selectively restore any previous version of a backed up file directly from the main window.
Data backup to DVD, CD and Blu-ray
You do not need separate software to burn your backups to DVD, CD, HD-DVD or Blu-ray, because Backup4all comes with its own built-in DVD/CD/Blu-ray disc burning engine.
Standard Zip Compression
Backup4all creates standard zip files. This format is compatible with any zip utility currently available on the market.
Backup open files
Allows you to back up open files (local) from NTFS partitions in Windows Vista, XP, 2003 and 2008 Server.
FTP Backup Software
You can keep an online backup of your data to a remote location using a FTP connection.
Mirror with zip
The Mirror backup type creates an exact copy of the files and folders that are selected as sources.
Using Backup4all's built-in scheduler you can define backup jobs that back up automatically your important files at specific dates.
There's even a much desired bonus: Free support. That's right! Not for 30 days or six months or based on a subscription. Free, and exceptionally responsive support.
You can examine the potential for your good night's sleep at:
www.backup4all.com and take advantage of their 30-day try-before-you-buy offer.
— Martin Selkirk