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TidBITS Watchlist: Notable Software Updates for 30 March 2015

BusyContacts 1.0.2 -- BusyMac has issued BusyContacts 1.0.2, a maintenance release for the company’s new contact manager app (see “BusyContacts Turbo Charges Mac Contact Management,” 17 March 2015). The update adds support for opening contacts in BusyContacts from third-party launchers (such as Alfred and LaunchBar), displays a contextual menu after Control-clicking a field value, adds support for custom date formats, improves change notifications for social networks, fixes a bug with Exchange Birthdays that caused some birthdays to be off by a day, and adds support for importing vCards with the .vcard extension. ($49.99 new, free update, 5.4 MB, release notes, 10.9+)

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Napkin 1.5 -- Aged and Distilled has issued Napkin 1.5, a significant release that updates the user interface to be more aligned with OS X 10.10 Yosemite and adds a number of user-requested features (for our review, see “Napkin Offers a Fresh Take on Visual Communication,” 16 February 2013). The image annotation and diagramming app adds the capability to switch a shape between a flat and gradient fill as well as make a shape hollow with a filled border, enables you to adjust the thickness of an arrow via the format bar, adds image cropping, speeds up scrolling, adds Pixelate and Blur redaction styles, and enables you to export in JPEG format as well as PNG. Napkin also now expands text downward instead of horizontally, properly aligns the bounding box drawn around shapes, and ensures that Undo and Redo work as they should for many format bar actions. Napkin 1.5 also introduces a new document file format, which is not fully backward compatible with previous versions of Napkin. Aged and Distilled suggests making duplicates of any documents you may need to use with previous versions of the app. Napkin 1.5 now requires 10.9 Mavericks and later. ($39.99 new from the Mac App Store, free update, 5.4 MB, release notes], 10.9+)

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Backblaze 4.0 -- Backblaze has updated its eponymous backup software to version 4.0 with significant improvements in upload and download speeds. Backblaze 4.0 (which is tied to the subscription-based Backblaze online data backup service) introduces a new threading approach that optimizes bandwidth utilization when network latency is present. Differing from the more typical use of the term threading (where multiple threads of data are contained within a single process), Backblaze uses multiple processes to independently send encrypted blocks of data to the Backblaze data center. (Backblaze admits that they’re “actually creating and using multiple processes” as opposed to true threading; see this blog post for more background on Backblaze threading and how to implement it.)

In addition to improving upload speeds, the Backblaze Downloader app has been given threading capabilities to quicken the pace of downloading recovered files. Backblaze also now allows very large files to be backed up over the course of several months (should you have a slow upload Internet connection); previously, backing up a very large file would have been abandoned after a few days. Alas, the new version still can’t put restored files in their original locations automatically.

The auto-update process for current Backblaze subscribers will begin in the next couple of weeks, but you can get the update now by downloading directly from the Backblaze Web site or performing a Check for Update within the Backblaze software. Version 4.0 of Backblaze now requires Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or later, though previous versions of Backblaze will continue to run on 10.5 Leopard and will be supported for the foreseeable future. (Free with Backblaze subscription, 9.8 MB, 10.6+)

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PDFpen and PDFpenPro 7.1 -- Smile has released version 7.1 of PDFpen and PDFpenPro with advanced page numbering options and improvements to the custom stamps. The PDF editing apps add capabilities for specifying a custom range for page numbering, as well as options for color, font family, size, and formatting. The update also enables you to create custom stamps — including dynamic stamps with name and date — and adds new stamps such as Paid, Faxed, Copied, and more. Both editions of PDFpen allow form field detection for US Legal sized documents, avoid file size increases after image manipulation on Macs with Retina displays, fix a rotation issue with some documents, restore VoiceOver access to buttons, and improve the German localization. Note that as of this writing, the Mac App Store editions of PDFpen and PDFpenPro were still stuck at version 7.0.2. ($74.95/$124.95 new with a 20 percent discount for TidBITS members, free updates from version 7.0, 52.4/53 MB, release notes, 10.7+)

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