Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended & EarMaster Pro 5 . February 2009 . Vol. 15 No. 2

Business Software Reviews & Educational Software for Kids & Parents, since 1995


June 2009 - -Adobe Contribute CS4, Adobe Soundbooth CS4 & After Effects CS

May 2009 --Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, Adobe OnLocation CS4 and Adobe Encore CS4 plus My Electric Guitar and My Violin from eMedia

April 2009 -- Rosetta Stone Version 3: Spanish (Latin America) Level 1, 2 & 3, Set, Adobe Illustrator CS4 and Adobe Flash CS4 Professional from Adobe Systems Inc.

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended, Adobe InDesign CS4
& EarMaster Pro 5

By Howard Berenbon

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended

Just before the release of Adobe’s CS4 products, I had a chance to review Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended, which is archived here (see September 2008).  Adobe is always improving their products, and CS4 offers another round of new and improved features.  So, here’s the review of Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended.  But, first I want to offer a little history on one of the most popular graphics tools since the introduction of the personal computer.

Some History

Adobe Photoshop is the best known and most widely used professional photo manipulation program available for the personal computer, PC and Macintosh.  It was developed in 1987 for the Macintosh as a project of Thomas Knoll, a PhD student in computer science at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  He called it Display, to display grayscale images on a monochrome monitor.  John Knoll, Thomas’s brother, who worked for Industrial Light and Magic, suggested he write a full-blown image-editing program.  So, in 1988 they collaborated to create ImagePro, and then changed the name to Photoshop prior to offering it to software publishers.  In September 1988, Adobe Systems licensed the software from Knoll and in 1990 it was introduced as Adobe Photoshop 1.0 for the Macintosh.  It wasn’t until November of 1992 that the Windows version was released. It’s now a versatile multi-function, multimedia graphics program that anyone can use, from beginner to video and multimedia professional. 

What Can Photoshop Do

Basically, Photoshop in all its versions, allows you to take a photo and modify it any way you want using a number of tools, or filters, within the program.  Some tools are built-in while others you can add called plug-ins.  If it’s blurry, you can sharpen it, if it’s too dark, you can lighten, or darken a faded photo.  You can crop it, cut parts out, merge other photos, add text, change the shape of all or part of your work, change color and contrast and even make your photo into a work of art.  You can work wonders even with mediocre quality photos or art.  Ordinary pictures and graphics can become extraordinary if you know what you’re doing with the tools provided.   And if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can learn.  Adobe offers all kinds of text and video tutorials to help you.

Photoshop CS4 Extended is available on its own, or in suites with other Adobe products.  It's designed for the professional photographer or graphics artist, but anyone can use it, amateur photographers, graphic designers and Website designers.  Creative Suite 4 Extended is more for commercial applications for film and video professionals, designers using 3D and animation, manufacturers and medical professionals, architects, engineers and scientific researchers.  It also offers better 3D editing, compositing and motion-graphics capabilities plus enhanced image analysis functions. 


My version of Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended was installed with Master Collection, but the stand-alone version installs from a single CD in about 15 minutes (this varies with the speed of your computer).  Once installed, you’ll have access to the main menu with all available features, which includes an excellent Help menu with several How To sub menus leading to a few dozen detailed tutorials.  They include How to Create Web Images, How to Customize and Automate, How to Fix and Enhance Photos, How to Paint and Draw, How to Print Photos, How to Work with Color, How to Work with Layers and Selections and How to Work with Type, all the Photoshop basics you’ll need to know.  And, there’s a link for help at Photoshop Online.

At the very top of the screen you can click a button to launch Adobe Bridge, and access some tools quickly including the Hand Tool, Zoom, Rotate View, Arrange Documents and the Screen Mode.  Just below the top you can access several more menus including File, Edit, Image, Layer, Select, Filter, Analysis, 3D, View, Window and then Help, which was mentioned above.  From the File menu you can click New, or open an existing graphics document.  On the left side of the screen you’ll find a movable vertical tool bar with the various text and graphics tools (like marquee, lasso, crop, dropper, brushes, text, eraser, etc.) and on the far right the Essentials panel is displayed with access to Color, Swatches, Styles, Adjustments, Masks, Layers, Channels and Paths.  In fact, it looks very similar to Photoshop CS3.  But it is improved, and below is the list of what you’ll find.

What’s New and Improved in Photoshop CS4

Increased Productivity

Fluid canvas rotation

Enhanced Pan, Zoom, and large image navigation

More refined, natural results with Dodge, Burn, and Sponge

Next generation Adobe Bridge

Tighter integration with Photoshop Lightroom

Kuler for color harmony creation and sharing

N-up multiple document view

More powerful printing options

Superior performance on very large images

Support for multi-touch gestures

Extensibility with SWF panels

Unified tabbed interface with self-adjusting panels

Unrivaled Editing

Live, nondestructive corrections with the Adjustments panel

Re-editable, density-controlled masks with the Masks panel

Enhanced Auto-Blend with seamless tones and colors

360° panoramas

Extended depth of field

Camera Raw with localized adjustments

Enhanced Smart Objects

On-image controls for Curves and Hue/Saturation adjustments

Clone Stamp and Healing Brush preview cursor

Breakthrough 3D, Motion Graphics, and Image Analysis

Direct painting on 3D objects

Easy conversion from 2D to 3D

Editable 3D properties (scene, materials, meshes, lights)

New high-quality interactive ray tracer

Create 3D composites with 2D images or other 3D objects

New high-performance, non-modal 3D engine

Volume Rendering

Keyboard shortcuts enabled for the Animation panel

Enhanced preview of non-square-pixel images

Preview and export of audio content and frame comments

Animation of 3D objects and their textures

Enhanced Count tool


Adobe Design Center offers online articles and instruction from industry experts, top designers and Adobe publishing partners.

Adobe Development Center offers samples, tutorials, articles and resources for developers who build Internet Web sites.  Also includes resources for developers who create plug-ins.

Plug-ins are small software programs that extend or add features to Photoshop.  Some are installed with Photoshop and others may be added later.

Presets include useful tools, preferences, effects and images installed as a part of Photoshop.

Templates are included to help start your various products, and can be opened and viewed with Adobe Bridge. 

Adobe exchange at offers free content from users who develop and share software developed for Adobe products.

The improvements from CS3 to CS4, though may seem subtle, are in fact, quite a leap in improvement when you do a side-by-side in comparison.  I had a chance to participate in a press preview of the new CS4 products prior to publication, and the demonstration was impressive.  One refinement allowed compressing the background of a photo while leaving the for-ground objects, like people, unchanged.  So you could resize a photo to fit into a document without changing the proportions of people in the for-ground.   Another demonstration applied subtle changes to the contrast of a portion of a photo in CS4, but could not be duplicated in CS3.  I was also impressed with the ease of use of Photoshop within Dreamweaver, and that it was designed to integrate easier with the other Adobe tools.

Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite 4 Extended, IBM PC version, sells for $865 and is available for the IBM PC or compatible, 1.8 GHz or faster CPU running Microsoft Windows XP or Vista with 512MB RAM, 64 MB Video RAM, 1 GB Hard Disk space, DVD-ROM drive and QuickTime 7.2 for multimedia features.  It’s also available for the Apple Macintosh PowerPC G5 or multicore Intel processor, selling for $925.49.  Requires Mac OS X Leopard or X Tiger, 512 MB RAM, 64MB video RAM, 2GB hard disk space, 1024x768 monitor resolution, DVD-ROM drive and QuickTime 7.2.  For more information, or to order, visit

Adobe InDesign CS4 Desktop Publishing Program

If you are new to the publishing business, or a seasoned professional, you’ll know there are many publishing packages available to get those documents in the right format for publication.  One of the first programs offered in the early 1990s was Aldus PageMaker, which was acquired by Adobe in 1992 and eventually replaced by Adobe InDesign.

pagmaker Our first review of PageMaker was in November 1997 and then we reviewed Adobe InDesign CS2 in November 2005.  The program has improved by leaps and bounds since it was introduced in 1999.  Today, it’s a full-featured desktop publishing program for both print media and online publishing, including the  latest Flash animation and PDF file technology.  So, here’s a review of the latest InDesign CS4 from Adobe.  But first, here's some history.

A Little History

Aldus PageMaker was one of the first professional desktop publishing programs introduced in 1985 for the Macintosh, and then for the PC in late 1986.  In 1992 Adobe acquired PageMaker and changed the name.  The last version, PageMaker 7.0, was released in 2001.  InDesign 1.0 released in 1999, was a completely new project independent of PageMaker.  And though PageMaker and InDesign have some similarities, they are different programs.

Running InDesign CS4

When you run the program, two screens appear: your main menu with work area and a smaller, Welcome Screen, that lets you quickly open an existing file, or create a new one (document, book, library or template).  If you need help, there’s a Community menu with Internet access to InDesign Exchange, InDesign User Group, InDesign Partners and third-party plug-ins.   You can also access the online help at by clicking the resources button.  There, you’ll find lots of help in PDF format files, some video tutorials, plug-ins, templates, community access and more.

If you’re familiar with any of the Adobe CS3 or the new CS4 products, you’ll notice similarities with the look.  In fact, the InDesign CS4 main menu looks a lot like Photoshop CS4.  At the very top, you have access to Adobe Bridge and to the right you can select zoom, screen mode, arrange documents and other options.  Just below you can select File, Edit, Layout, Type, Object, Table, View, Window and Help menus. And on the left side of the screen is a movable vertical tool bar with access to all the text and graphics tools.

To start an existing document, click on the Open Document box to display your My Documents folder.  When you create a new document or open an existing document, it looks a lot like PageMaker but with more controls available on screen. On the left you'll see the floating tool bar, in the middle is the page you’re working with and at the top are the text and page controls.  On the far right, the Essentials panels is displayed with access to Pages, Links, Stroke, Color and Swatches.   To enter text, click on the T symbol, then drag open a text box in your document.  You can add graphics and pages (objects)  in several formats, including PDF, using the Place command.  When you’re done with that perfect project, either for onscreen display with some great animation, or for printing production, you can save it as an InDesign document (.indd) or template, or save and export in various formats, including PDF, Flash, Digital and Dreamweaver.

What’s New in InDesign CS4

Live preflight – alerts you to potential production problems in real time

Customizable Link Panel – can find, sort and manage all your document’s files

Conditional text -  allows multiple versions of documents for different users

Cross-references –updated automatically when you edit

Interactive document design with SWF file export – transforms page layouts into SFW files within InDesign

Export to Adobe Flash CS4 Professional – exports an InDesign document as a Flash XFL file

Smart Guides and Smart Spacing to help quickly align, space, rotate and resize multiple objects

Spread rotation – allows you to temporarily turn your document in 90 degree increments

Smart text reflow – add text without interruption

N-up view—view multiple documents in a single window

Application bar – new control buttons in menu bar to quickly switch to a new workspace, modify the view of a document, perform a search and quickly access Adobe bridge

Task-based workspaces presents keyboard shortcuts, menu commands and panel arrangements

Application frame (new for Macs) – work with documents and panels in a single window

Tabbed documents (for quick access) – manage and work across multiple documents with tabs

If I had to pick just two of the improvements to praise, I’d say “tabbed documents” is one great addition because it makes it easy and fast to switch between documents when you’re working with several pages at a time.  Also, I think “Smart text flow” is another nice feature so you don’t have to worry about re-formatting when you add text or graphics.

Adobe InDesign CS4 is one of the best and highly professional desktop publishing programs available today with great improvements over previous versions.  It’s not only perfect for traditional print media projects, but works as a multi-media publisher for online projects using Flash and PDF files.   It can no longer be compared to Adobe’s original desktop publisher, PageMaker.  Adobe InDesign sells for $639.99 and will run on any multimedia PC, 1.5 GHz or faster processor, Windows Vista or XP, 512MB RAM (1 GB recommended), 1.8 GB hard disk space 1,024 x 768 display resolution and a CD-ROM drive.  For more information or to order, visit

EarMaster Pro 5 from eMedia Music Corporation

If you’re serious about music, either professionally, or for fun, and want to improve your skills, it’s a must to train your ear to recognize the notes and sounds.  Improving your “ear” to music will help you sing and play instruments better, and even help you read and compose music faster.  Well, help is on the way from eMedia Music Corporation, makers of many popular multimedia music instruction titles, some we’ve recently reviewed.  The program is called EarMaster Pro 5 and includes over 400 lessons to help you master the notes.

Installation from the single CD was quick, less then a minute, after you enter your registration number.  When you run the program, a screen is displayed to test your sound card, and then you can pick the type of instrument you play (either piano, strings or other).  At the main menu, you select the Training mode (standard, jazz or custom), click the exercise from a list of twelve, and click Begin to start.

As a test, I picked standard mode and strings, and then selected Chord identification.  A screen popped up with “Welcome to lesson 1, and Get to know the Major triad.”  After clicking OK, a new screen appeared with two staffs and a chord was played with the first note shown.  Next, you click on the notes on the staff to complete the chord, and then click “Play your answer.”  Answers are also accepted by clicking on a piano keyboard, or by clicking notes on the neck of a guitar displayed below the staff.  Another option is to sing or play the notes into a microphone connected to your computer. Exercise areas include Interval comparision and identification, Chord identification, inversion and progressions, Scale identification, Rhythm reading, imitation, dictation and correction, and Melodic dictation.

If you need help, in any screen, just press the F1 key and Help pops into view for that topic.  You can also go through Help for each exercise type, or click Getting Started for suggestions on what to do first.  For example, they recommend that beginners begin with Interval comparison exercises.  As you progress through the lessons, statistics are tracked so you can see how you’re doing.  In my mind, the key to ear training (no pun intended) is repetition.  And you will have that opportunity. So, the more lessons you complete and repeat, the better you’ll get at recognizing what you hear.

In the box, you’ll also find a 48-page printed manual.  These days, that’s a rarity, but I like printed manuals, so it’s plus for me.  The program also includes a guitar tuner and metronome.

EarMaster Pro 5 sells $59.99 and runs on any multimedia PC or Mac with 16 MB of free RAM and 12MB of hard disk space.  For more information, visit  

Software Companies Mentioned

Adobe Systems Incorporated
345 Park Ave
San Jose, CA 95110-2704

eMedia Music Corporation
664 NE Northlake Way
Seattle, WA 98105
Phone: 206-329-5657