Review: 64-bit PaintShop Pro X6 is faster, but its interface is still clunky

Dave Johnson , PCWorld

Dave Johnson is a writer and photographer who has covered technology for magazines such as PCWorld and Wired. He is currently the Editorial Director for eHow.com's Tech channel. Dave is the author of How to Do Everything with Your Digital Camera, and over a dozen other books.
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For most professionals, Adobe Photoshop CS is the only photo editing tool worthy of consideration. Casual snapshooters can choose from a wealth of free and Web-based editors. For everyone in the middle—photo enthusiasts, serious shooters, and even pros dissatisfied with Adobe's new Creative Cloud—there's Corel's PaintShop Pro.

A viable Photoshop alternative for 20 years, PaintShop Pro offers 90 percent of Adobe's features for a tenth the price. In PaintShop Pro X6, Corel offers almost nothing new...which isn't such a bad thing. With a few exceptions, this upgrade is all about improved performance.

Performance is key

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Review: Slender: The Arrival expands on the original, but it's still not enough

Jim Norris , PCWorld

Jim Norris has been writing articles about technology for more than 20 of your Earth years. Whatever you do, don't call him Chuck.
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Slender: The Arrival is the long-promised, full-sized commercial follow-up to the popular Slender: The Eight Pages free minigame. While the original was a hit with Slenderman fans, it was just a proof-of-concept piece with acknowledged gaps in mechanics, locations, and narrative. Blue Isle Studios has addressed all of these shortcomings in the sequel, but fundamental problems in both design and execution remain.

Slender: The Arrival screenshot
Environments are more immersive in Blue Isle's second Slender game, but the hardware hit is high.

Since Slenderman's debut as a creepy supernatural stalker in a series of photoshopped fakelore pictures, the noodle-armed menace has become the horror mascot of the hipster age. Slender appears in countless YouTube videos, social media feeds, and blog stories, snatching postmodernist hearts.

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Review: Corel Painter X3 makes natural media more accessible

Erez Zukerman , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Endlessly tweaking his workflow for comfort and efficiency, Erez is a freelance writer on a mission to discover the simplest, coolest, and most effective software and websites to make tomorrow happen today.
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Corel Painter faces a problem similar to that of Microsoft Office: When you're already at the top of your field, it's hard to see the path to improvement. Just like Office is the go-to suite for everyday productivity tasks, Corel Painter is the go-to application for serious artists looking to create natural-looking paintings and concept sketches using a computer. That gives Corel the enviable problem of trying to get artists to upgrade from a program that's already more than good enough...a problem the company tackles ably in Painter X3.

Painter's Start screen tries to be both inviting and inspiring.

Corel's solution: Keep the powerful tools, but make everything more accessible. Almost every change and addition in the new Corel X3 is meant to lower the learning curve, make features easier to discover, or make common drawing tasks simpler than they used to be.

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Review: Raptr Desktop App makes gaming social

Alex Cocilova Assistant Editor, PCWorld

Alex covers desktops, everything from fancy to practical. He's also an avid (addicted) gamer and loves following the industry.
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Social networks are great for family and friends to share their favorite details of life, but there aren't enough places specifically for gamers to congregate. Gamers need a place to use a handle instead of a name and emphasize gaming skills over baby pictures. Social network Raptr connects all your gamer friends in one place, stockpiles a ton of gaming data, and ranks you among the masses. In the latest version of Raptr's PC desktop app, you can show off your skills to the world with the newly integrated video streaming feature via Twitch.

Raptr game launcher screenshot
The Raptr Desktop App lets you keep all your games in one place and launch any of them with one click.

Raptr tracks your Xbox, Playstation, Steam and other various games installed on your hard drive. Just add your PSN, Steam, and Xbox Live accounts and use the game scanner to find everything not in your Steam library. It's ridiculously easy, and it imports all your playtime and achievements automatically. While on the PC, the Raptr Game Launcher can launch any game you have installed, whether DRM-free or through Origin or Steam. It's like the mega-Steam, perfect for the organized aficionado.

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Review: NASA's Curiosity App for Windows 8 lets you explore Mars rover in detail

Erez Zukerman , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Endlessly tweaking his workflow for comfort and efficiency, Erez is a freelance writer on a mission to discover the simplest, coolest, and most effective software and websites to make tomorrow happen today.
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As I write these lines, a car-sized robot powered by 32 cubes of plutonium is roaming the surface of Mars, taking photos using no less than 17 cameras, vaporizing stuff with infrared laser beams, drilling into rocks, and generally having a good time. NASA's Curiosity rover is one of the space agency's most ambitious, important, and exciting scientific missions.

The SUV-sized Curiosity rover is packed with scientific gear optimized for an alien landscape.

As you may expect from a machine that had to be flown for over 350 million miles just to begin its work, Curiosity is an incredibly complex beast. Weighing in at 1980 pounds, the rover carries 180 pounds of scientific instruments. One nice way to gain a better understanding of those instruments and the rover's mission is using NASA and JPL's free Windows 8 app, Mars Rover: Curiosity.

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Review: The gaming is thin in free survival horror Slender: The Eight Pages

Jim Norris , PCWorld

Jim Norris has been writing articles about technology for more than 20 of your Earth years. Whatever you do, don't call him Chuck.
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Slenderman's hipster-Frankenstein genesis as a haunted-Polaroid Photoshop contest winner has spawned an unexpectedly popular homebrew horror cottage industry. Slenderman: The Eight Pages explores the self-styled urban legend as a short-form first-person survival game, and the result is a mildly diverting proof-of-concept piece that meets its meager goals, but fails to match the creativity and impact found elsewhere in the Slenderman mythos.

Slenderman The Eight Pages dim light screenshot
It's not a bad view, but get used to it, since there isn't much else to see.

For the uninitiated: Slenderman is a distorted, faceless, man in black who stalks people and makes them disappear. For a supernatural entity, Slender is pretty sloppy with his abductions, leaving behind a handy mountain of photo and video evidence for endless posts on places like YouTube.

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Review: Audio Notetaker lets you sit back and listen while it takes notes

Yaara Lancet Contributor, PCWorld

Yaara is a foodie, horse-lover, and biologist who enjoys being a geek as a full-time job.
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Every student or conference attendee knows the ever-present dilemma: listen to the presentation, or try to take notes? Sonocent Audio Notetaker is an ambitious product that brings an end to this plight...at least some of the time.

Audio Notetaker analyzes audio recorded either by the program or outside it to create speech bars that are easy to navigate. You can enhance these bars with colors, text, images, screenshots, slides, and PDF documents, and add text and references to boot. Audio Notetaker can record live lectures, interviews, Skype calls, and even online talks a la TED. It makes it possible to concentrate on listening while taking minimal notes, and easily go over the recorded material later.

Audio Notetaker is a truly innovative way to handle recordings, but at its current price of $150 for a perpetual license, it's not an impulse buy. It also crashed multiple times while I tried it, causing me to lose my work, so frequent saves are advised. It's a great product if you can soak the cost.

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