IrfanView 4.53 Image Viewer released

IrfanView is one of the most advanced image viewers that is available for Windows. IrfanView 4.53 was released last week; it is the first release of the program in 2019 and one that introduces several new features and options.

Just like the password manager KeePass, IrfanView belongs to a category of well designed powerful programs for Windows. The program’s main feature is image viewing but it supports a large number of related functions such as image conversions, batch processing of images, filter and effects, image optimizations, or the creation of slideshows that makes it an universal program when it comes to working with images on Windows.

We have reviewed other great image viewers in the past such as Honeyview, XnView, or FastStone Image Viewer.

Tip: Add IrfanView options to Windows Explorer.

IrfanView 4.53 Update

irfanview 4.53

IrfanView 4.53 is available as a free 32-bit and 64-bit download for the operating system. Users may download and install the new version to update existing installations or start from scratch.

The new version of IrfanView introduces new effects and options. As far as effects are concerned, it is now possible to insert speech bubbles using Image > Effects. Two additional groups of effects, “shadows, shapes, rounded corners, and snowflakes” and “Hexagon, Star, Spikes, Hearts”, have been added to the Image menu directly. Last but not least, support for the new Radial Brighten effect is available now as well.

As far as options are concerned, the screen capture dialog features a new option to draw a red circle around the cursor, and there is a new advanced batch conversion option to set the maximum dimensions for resize operations.

The application’s zooming functionality got a new feature as well. Hold down Ctrl-Shift while moving the mouse to move in the zoomed image; you may use the mouse wheel for zooming just like you do normally. A click returns to the previous view.

The Contact Sheet dialog has a new profiles option, and IrfanView can read 1 BPP images in RAW as well now.

The new version includes loading fixes for TIF, PCX and PSD files. Several plugins have been updated as well and users who use plugins need to install the new versions from the official plugins page of the extension.

Closing Words

IrfanView is a powerful feature rich image viewer for Windows that is really fast even on systems that are not uber-powerful. The new version adds several new features to the application; while minor in the grand scheme of things, they do improve the functionality of the application.

Now You: which image viewer do you use?

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PCRADIO Internet Radio app that works with low speed Internet

Mobile users have several options when it comes to listening to Internet Radio on their devices. Some like to stream directly from the Radio station’s website, others prefer music apps with radio support to do so.

Most radio apps work well when you have a fast-enough Internet connection but most fail when you don’t. Failing does not necessarily mean that you cannot play the stream at all, but that you may experience buffering issues and other interruptions.

The default stream quality, 128 Kbit/s, uses quiet a bit of data already; a single hour of playback requires about 50 to 60 Megabytes of data. If you play music for two hours per day, you end up with up to 3600 Megabytes of data just for the streaming.

That’s exactly the situation where Radio Online – PCRADIO comes into play as it was designed specifically for low speed Internet situations (think car, subway or train ride, workplace with bad Internet connectivity..).

The service converts the radio stream to the data efficient AAC+ audio format using custom servers. Doing so reduces the required transfer rate to play the Internet Radio stream without buffering interruptions and reduces the data that playback uses significantly.

A quick test using the Android version of PCRADIO resulted in savings of about 60% when compared to the default stream of tested radio stations. The data requirement per hour of playback drops to less than 20 Megabytes per hour when you use the application.

You may also benefit from uninterrupted playback as the less demanding stream tends to work better because of the lower requirement.

PCRADIO Internet Radio

pcradio low speed internet stream

The free (with ads) or paid application has been designed to work well even in low speed environments thanks to the use of AAC+. The free version provides access to most features but it comes with advertisement in the main interface. The premium version costs €6,49 per year on Android; it removes ads and adds two additional stream quality, high quality, and low quality, to the mix.

Free users are set to medium quality, about 32 Kbit/s, automatically with no option to change the quality in the free version.

The radio app displays a list of radio stations on start. The list displays recommended stations from around the world by default. A tap on a station starts playback immediately.PCRADIO displays the artist and song name in the interface when playback starts. Options to copy the information to the clipboard and to run searches on Google or YouTube are provided as well.

You can add a station to the favorites for quick access, and tap on the information icon next to a station to display a description (if available).

A search is available to find radio stations, e.g. by name, a tap on the globe icon opens the country filter to display only stations from the selected country. The app features an equalizer that you need to activate before you may use it.

PCRADIO offers a good selection of stations but you may miss some of your favorites. The app offers no option to add custom streams to the list of radio stations, and it would not make a whole lot of sense either considering that you would not benefit from the reduced bandwidth requirements if you’d be able to do that.

You can contact the developers of the app to request support for new stations. The support email address is listed on the application’s Google Play store page.

Closing Words

If you like to listen to Internet Radio while on the go on your Android or iOS devices but run into streaming issues regularly or even only occasionally, you may want to try Radio Online – PCRADIO to find out if it resolves the issue for you.

The audio quality is acceptable; users who cannot stream Internet Radio using regular streams may prefer it regardless of the quality.

Now You: do you listen to Internet Radio regularly?

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Counterpoint: Why I’m keeping my subscription services

Recently my colleague, Martin Brinkmann, wrote why he was getting rid of streaming services. That’s fine, he’s entitled to do what he wants, and if he doesn’t watch them, then, by all means, save the money. We are not all the same though.

Several years ago I got rid of a DirecTV service that was running me around $100 per month. I have not looked back since that day.

I filled the gap with TV that totals much less. Martin ran through the numbers, but in the US those are cheaper and we also don’t have the broadcast fee, which makes a big difference.

sling

First, I don’t listen to a whole lot of radio, but I occasionally listen to Pandora on Amazon Echo, better known as Alexa. I originally had a paid account, but dropped it years ago, opting to hear the infrequent ads.

I have had a Hulu account for years, ever since I cut off DirecTV, it allows me to watch the few major network shows I like. Because they now allow multiple users I added my daughter who graduated college last May and now lives hours from me. In exchange, she added me to her Netflix. It was a fair trade. I watch neither very much, but they have their place on my screen.

Mostly what I watch is Sling, which is live TV with many channels available. I keep it on most of the day, normally on CNN. It’s background noise. I can hear news, but don’t need to look up most of the time.

My estimated cost is $53 per month, plus Amazon Prime which is continuing to go up, perhaps because Bezos is about to owe half his fortune. I don’t watch a lot on it, but the free two day shipping is handy.

If it weren’t for all of this, my entertainment would now be my dog. So what are your thoughts on all of this. We’d love to know where everyone else stands, so tell us in the comments.

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2019: the year I dropped all entertainment subscription plans

This is somewhat of a personal story but it is probably one that is of interest to many out there.

For the past couple of years, I had Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions. I never subscribed to music streaming services because of the many alternatives out there.

I started with Amazon Prime a long time ago to reduce shipping costs. Amazon added more and more features and services to it, and eventually Amazon Prime Video.

I always saw it as an add-on to Prime and not something that I paid extra for. When Netflix became available in Germany, I decided to subscribe to the service after looking over the pond jealously for years.

While I was subscribed to both services, I have to admit that I did not really use them much. Sure, I watched a lot during my first month of Netflix and Amazon Prime, and the occasional show or movie throughout the years.

netflix membership end

In 2018, I started to analyze the time spend using these services and came to the conclusion that I did not really use them all that much.

There were months in which I did not watch a single show or movie on Netflix or Amazon Prime. It became clear to me that it was not worth it. With Netflix costing about €120 per year and Amazon Prime about €70 per year, I spend nearly €200 (about $226) per year on entertainment services that I did not use much.

Add to that the €210 that I’m forced to pay for a broadcast fee in Germany — despite not watching any TV or listening to Radio — I’d spend about €450 per year for these three.

While I cannot get rid of the broadcast fee, as it is forced even if you don’t watch any TV or listen to Radio, I could cancel my Amazon Prime and Netflix subscriptions.

For Netflix, it was an easy decision. The streaming service offers some good shows but the number of movies and shows that are available is relatively low. Netflix does add shows and movies regularly, but it always felt like a dozen or so new additions of which maybe one or two could be interesting, and that was not really worth it.

Amazon Prime was a bit different as it included not only Video but also free shipping and other benefits. The Prime Video content on the other hand was not better than Netflix’s offering; not enough content to warrant a subscription. So, I decided to cancel it as well and change my buying habits as well (buy less on Amazon, and mostly when free shipping is included).

The streaming landscape, at least that of TV and movie shows, will become even more fragmented in the future as it is. It will even lead to more fragmentation and more subscriptions that you need to access it all.

The alternatives

While I don’t watch a lot of shows or movies, I like some very much and completely ignoring all of them was never an option.

Here is how I handle, and plan to handle, things in 2019:

  • Buy DVD or Blu-Ray shows or movies, preferably when they are discounted or offered on marketplaces like eBay. I understand that this may cost more than what the yearly subscriptions cost. Then again, the shows and movies that I want to watch are not on Netflix or Amazon Prime (last examples: Death in Paradise and Poriot TV show) and I can play them whenever I want wherever I want, even without Internet. Doing so will reduce media consumption as I have to think about the purchases and not just click on play.
  • Watch interesting shows on YouTube and other platforms. There are lots of cool shows out there that I’m more interested in than in shows and movies that get  arguably worse and worse.
  • Listen to Internet Radio streams.
  • Listen to Podcasts.

I’d consider an offer like Spotify, but for movies and TV shows. If a service would offer everything, more or less, and for a reasonable price, I’d probably would subscribe to it.

The likelihood of that happening is relatively low, though. Maybe after some mergers or consolidations.

Now You: Are you subscribed to media services on the Internet?

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SoundFixer fixes sound issues on YouTube

SoundFixer is an extension for the Firefox web browser that attempts to fix sound related issues on YouTube and select other sites with audio.

Internet users who watch videos with audio on the Internet may run into a number of issues: audio may be too quiet or too loud, or sound output uses a single channel only.

While you can adjust the volume of sound using built-in volume controls, volume options of the operating system, and maybe even volume options of the speakers or headphones that you are using, it is sometimes the case that these don’t fix the issue at all that you experience or that it is too cumbersome to use these controls regularly.

SoundFixer

soundfixer

SoundFixer attempts to fix these issues on YouTube and some other sites; the Web Audio API limits functionality as it prohibits access to cross-domain audio sources.

The extension adds an icon to Firefox’s main toolbar that users can interact with. The interface displays gain and pan sliders on pages with audio playback.

Use the sliders to reduce or increase the volume of the video or change the speaker output. Gain offers finer controls over the volume; use it to increase the volume of videos that are too quiet even if you have set the volume on the video site to the maximum or decrease the volume if the video is too loud even if you have set it to the lowest value already.

The changes are applied as soon as you release the mouse button or lift your finger if you use touch. They remain until you reload the page or leave it.

SoundFixer does not include any other options; it would be useful, in my opinion, if it would offer options to make the changes permanent or include a reset button to reset them to the default without having to reload the page. While you can move the slider to the middle to reset it to approximately the default value, adding a reset button would make the process more comfortable for users of the extension.

Closing Words and verdict

If you run into sound issues on the Internet regularly, especially on YouTube but also on other sites, then you may find SoundFixer useful as it may resolve these issues for you. I’d like to see more automation, especially in the form of saving settings per site or domain, so that it is not necessary to adjust the values for each page individually on supported sites.

Now You: Did you run into sound issues on sites before?

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader. The post SoundFixer fixes sound issues on YouTube appeared first on gHacks Technology News.