Monthly Archives: February 2013

GNU Lilypond | Free Music Engraving Software

GNU Lilypond (Free Music Engraving Software) There are two major problems with the big names in music engraving software (Finale, Sibelius, and the like): (1) they’re expensive and (2) it’s difficult to make the music really look good. Enter GNU Lilypond.

Lilypond was started with the intention of providing a high-quality, low-cost means of producing sheet music that mimics the way sheet music used to be made–by hand. The creators of Lilypond felt that today’s computer engraved music was too mechanical–too precise. Their solution was to start from scratch and recreate the original look of the notes and other marks from thousands of samples of hand-engraved sheet music. And Lilypond can produce some amazing looking music. For all it’s wonderful attributes, however, Lilypond does have one major drawback. It’s not very user friendly. Unlike Sibelius or Finale, Lilypond doesn’t offer any means of graphically entering music. Instead, you fire up a text editor and write a series of codes that Lilypond understands. For instance, to produce a dotted-quarter note b-flat, you would type “bes4.”–and that’s just one note. Thankfully, there are a few other projects out there to make life a little easier. The most well-known (and most advanced) is a project called Denemo. It’s designed to make creating Lilypond files easier. There is also a plug-in for Jedit that also helps. The bottom line is, Lilypond is a powerful engraving suite, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. If you’re willing to put in the time, you can do anything in Lilypond you can do in the big boys.

Plasma Pong

Plasma Pong – Highly addictive Pong Game Plasma Pong is a free pong game in which when you play pong it releases plama liquids with cool looking fluids.

You can control the flow of the plasma, with the left mouse button and you can gather the power with the right mouse button and release it at a critical moment. One should experience and see it with their own eyes to fully appreciate the game. Besides it is completely free, and includes an option to play with your friends. NOTE: You may need a Pentium 4 with an average graphics card to appreciate its quality. You can download it free from

Phone Tray Dialup

Phone Tray Dialup is an inexpensive solution for single phone line dialup Internet users not wanting to miss calls while online.

The 30 day free trial download is easy; the purchase price is a small one-time fee (about $14.00) and you can use it on all of your computers forever. Caller ID feature provided by your phone service is required. Once you have Phone Tray installed, the screen flashes and audio alerts will sound when you have an incoming call. You can customize the ring and voice alerts for different phone numbers and apply different options like blocking and “zapping”. The call is identified and you are shown a dialog box with selections to stay online and ignore the call or hang up and take the call. Just click on your choice and Phone Tray handles it.

Cowon A2 Review

The Cowon A2 is one incredible device, and manages to pack tons of features into a great little package.

The A2 is first and foremost a video player, as evidenced by the huge 4″ 16:9 screen. Videos look fantastic, with sharp colors and fast response times. It plays several formats, including Xvid, DivX, MPEG and WMV. (Although it does NOT play MPEG2, or VOB files. You must transcode DVDs before watching them.) On the audio side of things, the A2 has the standard options, including Vorbis, MP3, FLAC, WAV, and WMA. (Although it does not play DRM WMA files.) AC3 support is included for videos, and supports up to 6.1 decoding. However the A2 does not support gapless playback, something I was deeply disappointed to find out. There are two ways to resolve this, either by decoding everything to WAV which has a very small gap between tracks, or by combining all the individual tracks into one long file. Neither way is ideal, and hopefully Cowon will add this in later firmware updates.

Despite these playback flaws, the A2 sounds fantastic. It offers a custom 5-Band Equalizer, as well as several advanced options developed by iAudio. It also features built in stereo speakers, which although lack bass, sound pretty decent. The A2 is also capable of recording video, radio, and audio, as well as watching TV in Korea if you buy the optional DMB receiver. In addition to that, the Cowon A2 runs a custom version of Linux, making third-party modifications a possibility. Overall the A2 is a unique device, offering tons of great options in one package. It retails for $300 for the 30 GB model, and $270 for the 20 GB model.

ABBYY Software’s PDF Transformer Pro Version 2

ABBYY Software’s PDF Transformer Pro Version 2. As a purchaser of ABBYY’s original PDF Transformer, I was impressed by the software’s ability to convert PDF files to Word, Excel, HTML or Text formats quickly and accurately.

The company’s latest release, Version 2.0, now offers a couple of highly desirable new features, which have been much desired by users like myself for sometime now. Version 2.0 now offers the ability to create searchable PDF files. PDFs can be created from within a Word document; the ABBYY software adds a toolbar to word, and with one touch on the “Create PDF” button. In addition, PDFs can be created from within most other windows applications, by using the “Print File” function. This latest version of the PDF Transformer software also improves on its already impressive capabilities in converting PDFs to Word, Excel, or other format types. In general, PDFs containing primarily text are converted to Word quite accurately, with accurate preservation of the text formatting, and PDF documents columns of numbers are generally preserved well. The program runs into greater difficulty in transforming mixed text / number documents into the Excel format, particularly in preserving the format of the original document. However, quite often users are trying to convert financial documents, e.g., quarterly reports or budget documents, into a format, e.g., Excel, simply for the purpose of extracting the number data for use in analysis, while avoiding the need for typing in the data by hand, and format retention in this situation is not the primary concern. And, overall, the software does an excellent job of converting to Excel formats. Other new functionally in PDF Transformer 2.0 includes the ability to convert standard, scanned PDFs to searchable PDFs, which very useful for users looking for particular words / phrases in the document, but not desiring to convert to Word, with potential effects on appearance or formatting that it might entail. Always an outstanding value, with the additional functionality included in Version 2.0, PDF Transformer is now an exceptional buy, and a “must have” for most office and home computer users’ desktops!

Corel Draw X3 Suite

Working in architecture, graphic design and photography, I use a lot of graphic packages, and unfortunately most are very very expensive. So it’s a real pleasure to have found the Corel Draw X3 Suite, a very reasonably priced product for the things it does, for a series of reasons.

First of all, it does the same things more popular industry-standard software do, but better. And it comes as a complete suite including two main programs and many additional utilities. Corel Draw is a truly vectorial software, which means you can do a lot of editing and still obtain high quality final graphics, without losing quality in transformations. Corel Photo Paint is a powerful retouching tool. A large number of filters are included, meaning that you will be able to open and save to all common graphic formats – and a lot of uncommon formats too. Let’s add that this piece of software works well even on reasonably basic computers, without requiring dedicated graphic workstations. And it’s easy enough to use for beginners and powerful enough for more advanced users.