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What a Year! Photo Essay Captures an Extraordinary 2023 From remote learning to the return to campus life this fall, a year unlike any other in BU history

Year in Review

What a Year! Photo Essay Captures an Extraordinary 2023 From remote learning to the return to campus life this fall, a year unlike any other in BU history

Before we get too far into 2023, we wanted to take a look back at 2023. It was a remarkable year by any measure, overshadowed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which by December had claimed more than 800,000 lives in the United States. 

2024 marked year two of mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing on BU’s campuses, but also heralded the arrival of coronavirus vaccines and boosters. And it was a year that saw not one, but two Commencement ceremonies: the first, in May, for the Class of 2023 without family members or guests present, and another in October for the Class of 2023, whose ceremony was delayed 17 months because of the pandemic.

This photo essay from BU Today photographers Janice Checchio, Jackie Ricciardi, and Cydney Scott, and others, captures how the year played out on campus, tracing the transition from remote learning to the resumption of residential life, live performances, and fans in the bleachers.  

Below, take a look back chronologically at an unforgettable year.

Ayush Kadakia (ENG’24) moves back into his West Campus digs for the spring 2023 semester on January 21. The weather was anything but springlike. Photo by Cydney Scott

Instead of its usual role of hosting large University gatherings, such as celebrations and appearances by well-known speakers, on January 25, the Metcalf Ballroom was the site of the semester’s first History of International Relations Since 1945 class, taught by Igor Lukes, a CAS professor of history and international relations. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

BU Athletics annual Pride Week Celebration supporting the LBGTQIA+ community was held January 31 through February 6, with various panels and events hosted via Zoom by Athlete Ally, the Athletics student-led organization that fosters an inclusive environment for LGBTQIA+ student-athletes and allies. The women’s hockey Terriers—among them Jesse Compher (SHA’21) (from left), Clare O’Leary (CAS’24), Mackenna Parker (CAS’22), and Kaleigh Donnelly (CAS’22)—wore rainbow masks to show support before their February 5 game against Merrimack. Photo courtesy of Patrick Donnelly

When club sports started back up at FitRec in February, there was much rejoicing. Water polo club members, among them Laith Hijazi (CGS’21), on February 21 follow University-approved health and safety protocols, including distancing during practice, but are able to go mask-free while in the water. Photo by Cydney Scott

A cross? A lowercase “t”? No, it’s the COM Lawn, viewed from the Kilachand Center top floor, with some additions—Adirondack chairs placed around campus by the University so everyone can enjoy the much-anticipated, much-longed-for spring weather (while social distancing) on March 23. Photo by Cydney Scott

On April 10, Boston University Upward Bound, a federally funded TRIO Program providing outreach and student services to low-income and first-generation college students from Boston Public Schools, celebrated its 30th anniversary. Former Upward Bound student William Onuoha, executive director of Boston’s Office of Fair Housing and Equity, read a proclamation from Boston Mayor Kim Janey declaring April 10 Upward Bound Day. The proclamation recognizes “30 years of collective work of helping students access educational opportunity and [celebrates] being part of this family,” said Upward Bound director Reggie Jean (CAS’95, Wheelock’04) (holding proclamation). Photo courtesy of Wheelock College

The BU women’s tennis team won their fifth Patriot League championship in eight seasons on Sunday, May 2, beating Navy 4-3 and earning them a spot in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Photo courtesy of BU Athletics

Yuqing Wu (COM’23) receives a COVID-19 vaccine shot from Healthway RN Kristin Lopes at FitRec May 4. Boston Medical Center had provided the University with several thousand doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for BU students, faculty, and staff needing their first or second shot. Photo by Cydney Scott

Whole lotta studyin’ goin’ on: Jack Gardiner (Sargent’22) (left) and Julia Lee (Sargent’22) are among the finals-minded Terriers working on the BU Beach outdoor village April 20. Photo by Cydney Scott

On June 13, a Campus Climate Lab team installed an herb garden on the Warren Towers fourth floor patio, with the intention of creating a living-learning lab for students to better understand the importance of urban gardening. Sidney Hare (CAS’22), who has worked on the idea for some time, and nine other students brought in crates, dirt, herbs, and flowers and got to work. Photo by Lauren Richards (COM’22)

Celebrating a partnership: On July 12, Boston University and Steward Health Care’s St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center (SEMC) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the new five-year affiliation between BU and SEMC, which went into effect July 1. Helping to wield the scissors: Anna Hohler, SEMC chair of neurology (from left); Harrison Bane, president of Steward Health Care North Region; James Terwilliger, SEMC president; Karen Antman, MED dean and Medical Campus provost; Sanjay Shetty, Steward North America president; and Frank Pomposelli, SEMC chair of surgery. Photo by Cydney Scott

Members of BU School of Medicine’s Class of 2025, Austen Mauch (from left), Nisha Mathur, Saaz Mantri, Avni Madhani, and Kendra Lujan, embark on their medical careers at MED’s annual White Coat Ceremony on Talbot Green, August 2. Photo by Cydney Scott

An annual sight: students rolling yellow bins up and down Comm Ave during Move-In. August 16 presaged the return of a fully occupied campus, albeit with pandemic-necessitated safety protocols in place. Photo by Cydney Scott

The BU Class of 2025 Matriculation procession, August 29: In a long-standing tradition, incoming class members march to their welcome and initiation ceremony. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

BU’s ceremony honoring 2023’s 27 Thomas M. Menino Scholars and 57 BU Community Service Award scholarship recipients, all graduates of Boston Public Schools (BPS), was held August 31 at the Questrom School of Business. Robert A. Brown (left), BU president, Brenda Cassellius (center), BPS superintendent, and 2023 Menino Scholar Jami Huang (CAS’22) spoke at the ceremony. Bumping elbows with Cassellius is 2023 recipient and Boston Latin School grad Christian Badawi (CAS’25). Photo by Jake Belcher

What’s a sure sign of a new BU school year? Correct—it’s Lobster Night! The annual event has become a wildly popular tradition. Yan Huang (Questrom’22) (left) and Zitong Zhao (Questrom’22) enjoyed their lobsters at Marciano September 9. Photo by Lauren Richards (COM’22)

The Newbury Center, BU’s support hub for first-generation students—undergrad, grad, and nontraditional—held a grand opening and open house for the BU community on September 3. Maria Dykema Erb, center director (at podium), welcomed guests on Marsh Plaza. Jean Morrison, University provost and chief academic officer, and Crystal Williams, former vice president and associate provost for community and inclusion, were among the speakers. Photo by Cydney Scott

The all-female Veronica Robles Mariachi Quartet was among the vibrant performers at the fourth annual BU Global Music Festival on September 18. Because of COVID, the performances were outdoors, at the BU Beach and on Marsh Plaza—“a silver lining” to the event, according to CFA’s Marié Abe, festival artistic director. Photo by David Green

The final beam for the Center for Computing & Data Sciences building on Comm Ave was put in place September 30. After a lunch on the COM Lawn for about 350 people, who were able to sign the beam, it was moved to the project site to be hoisted. Among those at the momentous occasion: Robert A. Brown, BU president (from right to left), Jean Morrison, University provost and chief academic officer, and Azer Bestavros, associate provost for computing and data sciences. In the photo at right, the final beam, covered in signatures, is in place. The event celebrated the “topping-off” tradition milestone and was a thank-you to the workers. Photos by Cydney Scott

When Ethan Wang left for a BU Study Abroad semester in Sydney in 2023, it was with anticipation and excitement. A few weeks later, a surfing accident made it look like he would never walk again. But with grit, determination, his family’s support and encouragement, and the best medical care in Singapore and Boston, Wang (CAS’20) (front right) on October 2 walked across the stage at the Class of 2023 College of Arts & Sciences Recognition Event, and was handed his diploma by his father, Willis Wang, BU vice president and associate provost for global programs. The event was held in Agganis Arena as part of BU’s historic delayed 2023 Commencement. Photo by Cydney Scott

On October 2, Wheelock Family Theatre celebrated four decades of entertaining families with a 40th Family Reunion held on the Fenway Campus green. Billed as “part picnic, part performance, part creative playground,” the reunion included performances from past productions. Actor, director, and composer Jane Staab (center), a theater cofounder and co–artistic director for 33 years, was among the celebrants. Photo by Michael D. Spencer

Boston University’s 39th annual Joint Service Pass-in-Review was held on Nickerson Field October 23. Each year, cadets from BU’s Division of Military Education Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps ROTC programs, consisting of cadets from several area schools, join together for the ceremony, one of the Army’s long-standing traditions.  Pictured above: Color Guard Commander Cadet Nathan Tadigiri of UMass Boston (from left), Cadet Kenneth Ziniti (Questrom’24), Cadet Salem Adda-Berkane (CAS’23, ENG’23), Cadet Joseph Carey (CGS’22), Midshipman Sasha Wong, Midshipman Ian Benitez-Rio, Cadet Jacob Bresnahan, and Cadet Ju Young Kang (Questrom’24). Photo by Chris McIntosh

A memorial service for BU President Emeritus Jon Westling (Hon.’03), BU’s eighth president, was held at Marsh Chapel on October 27. Westling came to the University in 1974 and his career at BU spanned 46 years and included several top leadership posts. His son, Matthew Westling (CGS’04, CAS’06), read the Wallace Stevens poem, “Invective against Swans,” during the service. Photo by Jacob Chang-Rascle (COM’22)

After Travis Roy was paralyzed from the neck down in his first BU hockey game in 1995, he went on to establish the Travis Roy Foundation, which helps those with similar injuries and has donated millions in grants for spinal cord research. On October 29, the one-year anniversary of his death, BU honored Roy (COM’00, Hon.’16) at Agganis Arena. Pictured are: Albie O’Connell (CAS’99), men’s hockey head coach (from left); Jack Parker (Questrom’68, Hon.’97), former head coach; Roy’s parents, Brenda and Lee; Jay Pandolfo (CAS’96), associate head coach; and Drew Marrochello, assistant vice president and athletics director. Photo by Chris Lyons

A scene from Colossal, a movement-heavy piece following a star college football player in the wake of a spinal cord injury, tackles themes of love, ability, masculinity, and how we use our bodies to communicate along the way. The piece was part of CFA’s annual Fringe Festival. Rehearsing (above): Donovan Black (CFA’22). Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

MBTA Green Line B Branch’s Amory Street Station Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony, November 16: Andres Achury, senior director, project, Green Line Transformation (GLT) (from left); Desiree Patrice, GLT senior director, project; Angel Peña, chief of capital transformation programs; Steve Poftak, MBTA general manager; Kenneth Green, chief, MBTA Transit Police; Derek Howe, BU senior vice president of operations; and Shauna Connelly, GLT senior project coordinator. Photo by Janice Checchio

Trans Listening Circle treasurer Kaiden Kane (Sargent’21) (center) and circle members placed 400 trans flags on Alpert Mall (aka the BU Beach) November 19 in remembrance of the 375 transgender people reported murdered internationally within the last year. They did so in observance of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, held annually on November 20. Photo by Jake Belcher

Rabbi Shmuel Posner of Chabad House of Greater Boston lights the menorah outside the George Sherman Union during the fourth night of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, on December 1. Photo by Cydney Scott

The 20th Aurora Borealis: A Festival of Light and Dance was performed at the BU Dance Theater December 6, presented by the CFA School of Theatre and the Department of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. The annual event features dance and movement pieces by faculty and students in a vibrant exploration of the relationship between light and form. Photo by Jacob Chang-Rascle (COM’22)

Another revered and much-anticipated University tradition was held in person on December 10: Marsh Chapel’s 48th annual Service of Christmas Lessons and Carols. The liturgy, based on the University of Cambridge King’s College iconic century-old Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, included a selection of Christmas carols, motets, and anthems. Photo by Jake Belcher

Each year around the holidays, Terrier student-athletes visit Boston public elementary schools to read to students and give them a book. BU soccer player Claire Orson (Questrom’22) and several fellow athletes were able to visit in person this year on December 13, much to the enjoyment of Blackstone School students. Last year’s visit had to be virtual because of the pandemic. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

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What Is Remini App? An Ai Photo Enhancer

Have you ever wished you could turn your old, blurry, or damaged photos into high-definition ones?

If so, you might want to check out Remini, an AI photo enhancer app that can do all that and more.

Remini is an app that uses state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence to unblur, restore, and enhance any image you want. Whether you want to revive your old memories, improve your selfies, or make your photos look more professional, Remini can help you achieve excellent results in seconds.

This article will explain what Remini is, how it works, its features and benefits, and how to use it.

What Is Remini App?

Remini app is an AI photo enhancer that can turn your old, pixelated, or blurred pictures into high-definition photos.

The powerful photo enhancer Remini can also generate mind-blowing AI Avatars of yourself.

It can also increase the number of pixels in low-quality photos, revive your old memories, improve your selfies, or make your photos look more professional.

Moreover, it is available in English, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Spanish, and Thai.

In addition, you can also use the Remini app on your PC with an Android emulator that lets you run Android apps on your computer.

Features And Benefits Of Remini App

The Remini app offers a variety of features and benefits that can help you enhance your photos in different ways.

It lets you turn your portrait, selfie, or group picture into HD with incredible face details.

It allows you to repair old, blurry, scratched, or damaged photos and make them look new again.

It generates mind-blowing AI Avatars with just one tap.

It enhances any photo with various effects, such as color enhancement, face beautification, and background enhancement.

It can compare your original photo with the enhanced one and see the difference.

By using these features, you can improve the quality and appearance of your photos and make them more attractive and eye-catching.

Furthermore, it is a powerful yet easy-to-use app that can make your photos look amazing in seconds.

In addition, the Remini app is getting popular with the new filter called Baby AI generator.

You can choose this filter to generate the baby version of yourself.

The AI Technology Behind The Remini App

Remini app uses state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence to unblur, restore, and enhance any image you want.

It uses a deep learning model to analyze and process millions of pixels in a photo and generate a high-resolution version.

The model is trained on a large dataset of high-quality images and can learn how to improve a photo’s details, colors, textures, and edges.

Moreover, the model can also recognize and enhance a person’s facial features, such as the eyes, nose, mouth, and skin.

In addition, the Remini app uses a cloud-based service to run the AI model and deliver enhanced photos to your device.

Thus, you don’t need a powerful device or much storage space to use the app.

However, you need an internet connection to upload and download your photos.

Read on to learn how to work from home with slow internet.

How To Download, Install And Use It?

You can download and install the Remini app from the Google Play Store or the App Store.

The app is free to download and use but offers in-app purchases for premium features.

Here are the steps you need to follow to download and install it.

Open the app, sign up, or use it as a guest.

You can also try the Remini web on your PC.

Choose Files like photos or videos and start enhancing it.

Select any features and adjust settings for the feature.

Tap the start button to upload your photo, and wait a few seconds.

View it in full screen and compare it with the original one.

The Bottom Line

Remini app can turn your old, pixelated, blurred, or damaged pictures into high-definition photos with just one tap.

Furthermore, Remini uses state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence to unblur, restore, and enhance any image you want.

Moreover, it offers a variety of features that can help you improve the quality and appearance of your photos and make them more attractive.

Remini is the app for you to enhance your photos in seconds.

Born On A Blue Day: Inside The Extraordinary Mind Of An Autistic Savant

I find some aspects of language much more difficult than others. Abstract words are much harder for me to understand, and I have a picture in my head for each that helps me make sense of the meaning. For example, the word complexity makes me think of a braid or plait of hair — the many different strands woven together into a complete whole. When I read or hear that something is complex, I imagine it as having lots of different parts that need tying together to arrive at an answer.

Similarly, the word triumph creates a picture in my mind of a large golden trophy, such as the ones won in big sporting events. If I hear about a politician’s “election triumph,” I imagine the politician holding a trophy over his head, like the winning team manager at an FA cup final. For the word fragile, I think of glass; I picture a “fragile peace” as a glass dove. The image I see helps me understand that the peace might be shattered at any moment.

Certain sentence structures can be particularly hard for me to analyze, such as, “He is not inexperienced in such things,” where the two negatives (not and in-) cancel each other out. It is much better if people just say, “He is experienced in such things.”

Another example is when a sentence begins, “Don’t you . . .?” as in, “Don’t you think we should go now?” or “Don’t you want ice cream?” Then I become very confused, and my head starts to hurt, because the questioner is not being clear about whether he means “Do you want an ice cream?” or “Is it correct that you don’t want an ice cream?” and it’s possible to answer both questions with a “Yes,” and I don’t like it when the same word can mean two completely different things.

As a child, I found idiomatic language particularly confusing. Describing someone as being “under the weather” was very strange to me because, I thought, “Isn’t everyone under the weather?” Another common saying that puzzled me was when my parents might excuse the grumpy behavior of one of my brothers by saying, “He must have got out of the wrong side of bed this morning.” “Why didn’t he get out of the right side of the bed?” I asked.

In recent years, scientists have become more and more interested in studying the kind of synesthetic experiences in language that I have, in order to find out more about the phenomenon and its origins. Professor Vilayanur Ramachandran, of California’s Center for Brain Studies, in San Diego, has researched synesthesia for more than a decade and believes there may be a link between the neurological basis for synesthetic experiences and the linguistic creativity of poets and writers. According to one study, the condition is seven times as common in creative people as in the general population.

In particular, Ramachandran points to the facility with which creative writers think up and use metaphors — a form of language where a comparison is made between two seemingly unrelated things — and compares this to the linking of seemingly unrelated entities such as colors and words, or shapes and numbers, in synesthesia.

Some scientists believe that high-level concepts (including numbers and language) are anchored in specific regions of the brain and that synesthesia might be caused by excess communication between these different regions. Such crossed wiring could lead to both synesthesia and to a propensity toward the making of links between seemingly unrelated ideas.

William Shakespeare, for example, was a frequent user of metaphors, many of which are synesthetic, involving a link to the senses. For example, in Hamlet, Shakespeare has the character Francisco say that it is “bitter cold” — combining the sensation of coldness with the taste of bitterness. In another play, The Tempest, Shakespeare goes beyond metaphors involving only the senses and links concrete experiences with more abstract ideas. His expression “This music crept by me upon the waters” connects the abstract term music with a creeping action. The reader is able to imagine music — something normally very difficult to create a mental picture of — as a moving animal.

But it isn’t just very creative people who make these connections. Everyone does; we all rely on synesthesia to a greater or lesser degree. In their book Metaphors We Live By, language scientist George Lakoff and philosopher Mark Johnson argue that metaphors are not arbitrary constructions but follow particular patterns, which in turn structure thought. They give as examples expressions that indicate the links: happy = up and sad = down: “I’m feeling up”; “My spirits rose.” “I’m feeling down”; “He’s really low.” Or more = up, and less = down: “My income rose last year.” “The number of errors is very low.”

Lakoff and Johnson suggest that many of these patterns emerge from our everyday physical experiences; for example, the link sad = down may be related to the way that posture droops when a person is feeling sad. Similarly, the link more = up may come from the fact that when you add an object or substance to a container or pile, the level goes up.

Other language scientists have noted that some of the structural features of many words not normally associated with any function, such as initial phoneme groups, have a noticeable effect on the reader/listener. For example, for sl- there is slack, slouch, sludge, slime, slosh, sloppy, slug, slut, slang, sly, slow, sloth, sleepy, slipshod, slovenly, slum, slobber, slur, slog — where all these words have negative connotations, and some are particularly pejorative.

The idea that certain types of sounds “fit” particular objects better than others goes back to the time of the ancient Greeks. An obvious illustration of this is onomatopoeia. (The term refers to a type of word that sounds like the thing it is describing: fizz, whack, bang, and so on.) In a test carried out by researchers in the 1960s, artificial words were constructed using particular letters and combinations of letters thought to link to positive or negative feelings.

After hearing the invented words, the subjects were asked to match English words for pleasant or unpleasant emotions with one or the other of two invented words. The appropriate matches were made significantly more often than would be expected by chance.

Excerpted from Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant, by Daniel Tammet. Copyright 2006 by Daniel Tammet. Reprinted by permission from Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster.

Acdsee Photo Studio Ultimate Review: Still Good In 2023?

ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate

Thomas Boldt

Effectiveness: Excellent RAW workflow management and image editing

Price: $8.9/mo for subscription or one-time purchase $84.95

Ease of Use: Quite easy to learn and use with some user interface issues

Support: Lots of video tutorials, active community, and dedicated support

It is a complete RAW workflow, image editing, and library organization tool. While it doesn’t have a devoted professional following as yet, it aims to be a complete solution for professional users as well as more casual and semi-professional photographers.

ACDSee Photo Studio is not free software, but there is a 30-day free trial with all features available. After that, you have the option to purchase the current version of the software for a one-time fee of $84.95 USD (discounted price as of this update). Or you can get a single device license limited to personal use for $8.90 USD per month for up to 5 devices.

I’m not entirely sure what the logic is behind the separation of these various pricing schemes, but you can’t deny that they are all extremely affordable. Each of these subscription plans also includes licenses for a range of other ACDSee software, further enhancing their value.

The different versions of Photo Studio come with very different price points, but they also have very different feature sets.

Ultimate is obviously the most powerful version, but Professional is still a capable RAW workflow editor and library manager. It doesn’t offer the ability to use layer-based editing, or the ability to make Photoshop-style edits to the actual pixel layout of your images.

Home is much less capable, and can’t open or edit RAW images at all, but still allows you to organize photos and edit JPEG images. As a result, it’s probably not worth considering, since any photographer who is remotely serious about the quality of their work will shoot in RAW.

Adobe Lightroom is probably the most popular competitor to Photo Studio, and while they each duplicate a lot of each other’s features, they also each have their own unique twists on a RAW workflow.

Lightroom offers features such as Tethered Capture for taking photos right within Lightroom and lets Photoshop handle any major pixel-level editing, while Photo Studio skips the capture part and includes Photoshop-style image editing as the final stage of its workflow.

Adobe seems to have paid a bit more attention to the nuances of user interface and experience, while ACDSee has been focusing on creating the most complete standalone program possible. If you’re already accustomed to the Adobe style of workflow you may not want to make the switch, but for budding photographers who still have to make that choice, ACDSee presents some serious competition at an attractive price.

Why Trust Me for This ACDSee Review

Hi, my name is Thomas Boldt, and I’ve been working in the graphic arts for over a decade, but my experience with image editing software (both Windows and Mac) dates even further back to the early 2000s.

We also reached out to the ACDSee support team via live chat, though the question was not directly related to the product’s features. We were originally going to review ACDSee Ultimate 10 but when I tried to download the trial version (which is free for 30 days) I encountered a small issue. In the nutshell, it seems the company has rebranded ACDSee Pro and Ultimate into Photo Studio Ultimate. Therefore, we asked the question (see in the screenshot) via the chat box and Brendan from their support team replied yes.

Disclaimer: ACDSee did not provide any compensation or consideration for the writing of this Photo Studio review, and they have had no editorial control or review over the content.

ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate: Detailed Review

Please note that the screenshots I used for this review are taken from the Windows version, and the Mac version will look slightly different.

Installation & Initial Configuration

I have to admit, my first experience with the Photo Studio downloader/installer didn’t give me much confidence. It may just be a layout issue on Windows 10, but it seems like a serious image editing program should make the effort to use a program that keeps its buttons fully visible in the window, at the very least. However, the download was relatively fast and the rest of the installation went smoothly.

There was a brief (optional) registration that I completed, but as far as I could tell there wasn’t much value in doing so. It didn’t provide me access to any additional resources, and you can skip it if you’re so inclined. Just don’t try to close the dialog box with the ‘X’ – for some reason, it will think you’re trying to quit the program, so choose the ‘Skip’ button instead.

Once that’s all out of the way, you’ll see that Photo Studio is organized in a similar way to Adobe Lightroom. The program is broken down into several modules or tabs, which are accessible along the top right. Manage, Photos and View are all organizational and selection modules. Develop lets you perform all your non-destructive RAW image rendering, and with the Edit module, you can dig deeply into the pixel level with layer-based editing.

Some of the effectiveness of this module layout system is compromised by the placement of a few ‘Manage’ module options along the exact same row as the overall module navigation, which makes it a bit hard to distinguish which buttons apply to which feature. This isn’t a major issue, but I found it more than a bit confusing when first looking at the program’s layout, and only the big red ‘Buy Now’ button helped separate them conceptually. Fortunately, ACDSee has included a thorough on-screen quick start guide to help new users get accustomed to the software.

Library Organization & Management

Photo Studio provides an excellent range of organizational options, although the way that they are arranged is a bit counterintuitive. Of the five modules in the program, three are organizational tools: Manage, Photos, and View.

The vaguely-named Photos module is simply a way of looking at all of your images in chronological order, which – while it’s interesting – isn’t really worth its own separate tab, and provides no unique functions other than a sense of perspective. You can filter images, but it feels like this should really be incorporated into the Manage module.

The View module is the only way of viewing the full-size versions of your images, and would also be much more useful as a different way of displaying the ‘Manage’ module. There’s no good reason that you should have to switch between the two in order to see your photos at full size, especially when you’re sorting through lots of images and you want to compare several flag candidates at full resolution.

Image Editing

The Develop module is where you’ll do most of your RAW image editing, adjusting settings like white balance, exposure, sharpening, and other non-destructive edits. For the most part, this aspect of the program is very well done, and I appreciate the multi-channel histogram with easy access to highlight and shadow clipping. You can apply your edits to specific areas of the image with brushes and gradients, as well as do some basic healing and cloning.

I did find that many of their automatic settings were overly aggressive in their application, as you can see in this result of an automatic white balance adjustment. Of course, it’s a difficult image for any editor’s automatic adjustment, but this is the most inaccurate result I’ve seen.

You can also work on your image in the Edit module, which contains a number of features that are more Photoshop-like than most RAW editors include, including the ability to work with layers. This allows you to create image composites, overlays, or any other type of pixel editing, and although this is a nice addition, I found that it could use a bit more polish in terms of its execution.

I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m working on a 1920×1080 screen, but I found that a lot of the UI elements were far too small. The tools themselves are capable enough, but you may find yourself frustrated by continually missing the right buttons, which is not what you want to be dealing with while working on a complex edit. Of course, there are keyboard shortcuts, but these are also oddly chosen. Why make the eraser tool shortcut ‘Alt+E’ when nothing is assigned to ‘E’?

These are all relatively minor issues, but I don’t think that this editor will be challenging Photoshop as the industry standard for photo editing and image manipulation any time soon. It definitely has potential, but it needs some additional refinement to become a true competitor.

ACDSee Mobile Sync

ACDSee has embraced the role of the smartphone camera, developing a mobile companion app available for the iOS and Android platforms. The app is extremely easy to use, allowing you to send photos directly from your phone to your Photo Studio installation.

Wireless syncing is fast and easy, and is actually the easiest method of transferring photos to an editor that I’ve ever used. The app instantly detected my computer’s Photo Studio installation and transferred files without any complex pairing or sign in processes. It’s always nice when something like this just works smoothly with no fuss.

Reasons Behind My Ratings

Effectiveness: 4.5/5

For the most part, the tools included in Photo Studio are excellent. The organizational and library management tools are particularly good, and many other programs could learn a thing or two from the way ACDSee has set things up. The RAW editor is quite capable and provides all the functionality you’d expect from a professional program, although the layer-based editing features could use some additional work. The mobile companion app is excellent and works perfectly.

Price: 5/5

While the one-time purchase price is a bit high at $84.95 USD, the availability of a subscription that includes the entire range of ACDSee products for under $10 per month provides excellent value.

Ease of Use: 4/5

Most of the tools are quite easy to learn and use for anyone familiar with image editors, and beginners should have no problem learning the basics. There are some user interface issues with the Edit module that can negatively impact ease of use, but this can be overcome with some practice. The mobile companion app is extremely easy to use, and makes it simple to retouch your photos before sharing them online.

Support: 5/5

Alternatives to ACDSee Photo Studio

Adobe Lightroom (Windows/Mac)

Lightroom is one of the more popular RAW image editors, although it doesn’t include the same degree of pixel-based editing tools that Photo Studio offers. Instead, it is available in a subscription package with Photoshop for $9.99 USD per month, providing you with comparably priced access to industry-standard software. Lightroom’s organizational tools are good, but not quite as comprehensive as Photo Studio’s excellent Manage module. Read our review of Lightroom here.

DxO PhotoLab (Windows/Mac)

PhotoLab is an extremely capable RAW editor, which has the benefit of using DxO’s extensive lens testing data to help provide optical corrections automatically. It does not include any kind of functional organizational tools beyond basic folder navigation, and also doesn’t include any kind of pixel-level editing. Read our full review of PhotoLab here.

Capture One Pro (Windows/Mac)

Capture One Pro is also an excellent RAW editor, although it is aimed more toward the high-end professional market for photographers working with expensive medium-format cameras. While it’s compatible with more commonly available cameras, the learning curve is quite steep and it’s not really aimed at the casual photographer.

Conclusion

ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate is an excellent RAW workflow management and image editing program that is very affordably priced. Perhaps I’m too accustomed to Adobe software, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well designed the program is, with the exception of a few odd design and layout choices. The cataloging tools are well thought out and comprehensive, while the editing tools cover everything you’d expect from a quality RAW image editor. The addition of layer-based editing complete with pixel editing and adjustment layers makes for a solid finish to this program’s workflow.

While it’s an excellent piece of software overall, there are a few interface issues that could use a bit more smoothing out. Some of the UI elements are very oddly scaled and indistinct, and some of the separate review and organization modules could be combined to streamline the workflow bit further. Hopefully, ACDSee will continue to invest development resources into the improvement of this already very capable image editor.

Asp Will Be Dead In A Year

In a year’s time the ASP “phenomenon” will have ground to a halt. I won’t dignify it by calling it an industry, but whatever it is, will be no more.

Don’t get me wrong–the concept of software as a service, which is the essence of ASP, is a very good one, and, hence, is here to stay. The delivery of software to a user’s desk across a network is also set to become a major trend for the future.

So how can these two apparently contradictory statements be reconciled?

Let us look back a year or so, to the start of the ASP “phenomenon.” A small number of companies invested heavily in building data centers on the principle that “if we have this capability, customers will come.” Investors also held the view that there was massive potential in delivering applications from these centers to millions of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Based on this potential, analysts started projecting billions of dollars of ASP business. Hence, more people began investing in the industry.

At the same time a whole host of software houses, network suppliers, ISPs, and consultants started labeling themselves as ASPs, thus fueling analyst forecasts. This, in turn, led to further investment and so the story continues.

Where Are We Now?

Most companies have finally realized that delivering applications as a service is not too different to delivering applications as a product. The service needs tailoring, it needs someone the customer can trust, and it needs expertise in both the product and the customer. Inevitably, there are exceptions, and real volume commodity businesses may emerge in real commodity spaces such as mail, messaging, and office.

However, for the most part, the level of skill needed to deliver applications across a network is higher than that required to deliver a product. What we, therefore, see today is many start-up companies retrenching practices and workforce and cutting costs. Many are also moving their business models to a more service-oriented model, with consultancy and tailoring being key elements.

What’s more, the term ASP has become tainted. ASP has the same ring about it as chúng tôi –it smacks of start-ups and perhaps unreliable organizations–exactly what you don’t want when entrusting your applications to another company. There is some justification for these concerns, as very little thought has actually been given to some of the risks of the software rental model.

Where Will We Be Next Year?

I believe we will see a managed service model emerging as a standard way of doing business. This will be a service delivered to a company by a Managed Service Provider (MSP), which may be on a rental model, and it may be shared to a certain extent or it may be individual to the company in question.

This new model will carry many of the benefits that were touted for ASPs. For example, time-to-market and availability of skills. But, to my mind, it will not carry expectations of a substantial price shift. There will also be no pretense that “one size fits all.” This new model will, however, require the same involvement between company and vendor as any application deployment always requires.

Some of the companies emerging as MSPs will have started out as ASPs. Others will emerge from an outsourcing or systems integration background. But, in order to succeed, this should be an activity founded on good practice and technology, and not on hype. As such, MSPs stand a good chance of becoming a self-sustaining, long-term component of the IT industry.

Starting The School Year With A Party

My daughter Sadie-Belle just had her birthday, and as tradition demands in our family, we must decorate her door with crepe paper, balloons, and candy before she wakes up that day. The difficulty this year was that we were visiting her sister in Missouri, and the birthday girl was sleeping on an air mattress in the front room.

One of my other creative daughters found a way around this. She found a foam presentation board, drew a door on it, and wrote, “Happy Birthday Sadie!” We put all the candy on this and laid it beside her air mattress. We then decorated the archway into the kitchen with strands of crepe paper and balloons to satisfy the tradition.

The power of this tradition is that every time anyone, especially the birthday child, goes through the decorated door into the room, they have to remember that this is a special day.

Putting a Fun Spin on Pre-Testing

Imagine something similar at school. Start the school year with a party — a celebration of learning, as teacher and education writer Harry Wong suggests. As every elementary teacher can tell you, enticing student participation often depends on what kind of spin you put on the learning activity.

Envision students that are enthusiastically engaged in discovering how much they know as they take a diagnostic of some sort — on paper or via computers or tablets. Rather than a “testing day,” students realize that it’s a special occasion because the room is decorated with crepe paper and balloons, and they are given party hats. Some unimaginative folk might call this assessment a simple pre-test, but in fact it’s a great opportunity to bolster and build a child’s academic future.

Why Diagnostic Testing Matters

Blended learning tools can make this an easy and enjoyable experience for the student and the teacher, rather than a nonessential chore that is often skipped in the course of learning. If the students have tablets, the teacher can possibly send each student a knowledge and skills test that will preview what the students will be learning this semester. Most textbook companies include diagnostic testing with their textbooks and curriculum resources. Teachers can also utilize the commercial diagnostic tools to which many school districts already subscribe.

Having a pre-test party is only part of the celebration. The most important element of the fiesta is providing individual feedback by taking the time to show each student what he or she has already learned and mastered, and then giving the student a preview of the learning during the coming semester or course.

It’s so incredibly important to establish a baseline for each student at the beginning of the year. How can we expect to be successful in inspiring learning if we don’t know what our students already know and where the gaps in their learning might be? How do we know if they have learned anything from all our effort in creating engaging learning environments and activities unless we determine what they know to begin with?

A teacher must find the answers to these questions, and this has to happen the first days of school. And as Harry Wong convincingly suggests, it should be a celebration.

Pep Talk Follow Up

It seems obvious, but when a teacher takes the time to give a pep talk, explains why the students should try their best, and shows confidence in their ability to overcome difficulty, students are more apt to be resilient and persistent when learning gets more difficult. The conversation that follows the pre-test is a perfect time to give those one-on-one pep talks. As education expert Carol Dweck reminds us, learning is hard work, and even gifted students need encouragement.

Not only can we prep students for success with pep talks, but with the information gathered from each student, we can design custom learning plans to help them accelerate their own learning — and fill in gaps where incomplete learning has occurred.

In what ways do you assess, encourage, and prepare students at the start of the year for their upcoming learning?

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