This is a test post from my nokia n810 using maemo-wordpy!


The Free Alternative to Photoshop

Since it looks like we will be doing a little bit of graphics work for the English 313 class, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about one of my many favorite open source projects, The GIMP.

GIMP stands for the “GNU Image Manipulation Program” and is a free, open source graphics editing application with capabilities comparable to Adobe’s ~$700 Photoshop. While the feature set for the 2 applications may not be exactly the same, GIMP is more than powerful enough for the purposes of this class and the vast majority of most graphics editing tasks. The GIMP is available free of charge on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and pretty much any other platform you’d be interested in running it on.

If you are not familiar with the concept of open source software, I’ll take a moment to explain it here. An open source application, as compared to a commercial application, is not developed by a a company but by a community of people interested in the project who donate their time and talents to make the project better. The source code of the application is open to the public and can be seen and worked on by anyone. This system has several advantages over commercial software. Because the base of developers working on a project is usually much larger than a commercial equivalent (since the size of the team is not limited by budget restrictions), bugs in the software tend to be found and solved more quickly. If you have a problem with the program you can get support in a variety of channels or e-mail the developers directly. There is also an intangible element of open source software because it is a labor of love. While you might expect something that you don’t have to pay for to be of lower quality than something you have to pay a lot of money for, this is not the case in the world of software. Think of it in this way: Would you rather use a product made by a shirt and tie working for mega-corp in a cubicle who hates their job and is only outputting the minimum number of lines of code per day, or by a devoted computer geek who comes home each and every night looking forward to working on and improving their baby, their Mona Lisa of software, the thing that they love?

If you are interested in doing some photo editing or creating some graphics for class, download the GIMP from www.gimp.org and give it a try. Check out some of the screen shots below for pictures of the GIMP in action.



I’m not quite sure of exactly the right way to start off this blog, but I guess I’ll start by trying to give you a rough idea of the type of content that will be flowing its way through this particular section of intarweb pipes in the next few weeks and months.

Most of the things that I post on here will be in some way related to one of the following:

  • Linux / Open Source Software
  • Computer Hardware / Technology
  • Web Development / Information Security
  • Aerospace / Defense News
  • Math

These broadly, however incompletely, describe my interests and most of the things that I read about.

I tend to blog in a rather conversational tone. I speak in the first person, and use syntax and diction not very different from the way I converse face to face. I do occasionally use profanity, however if my use of profanity offends you, please don’t hesitate to let me know. My personal view on profanity is that is slightly ridiculous to choose a more or less arbitrary list of words to be offended by; however because this is blog is part of a class environment where you may be required to look at my posts, I am willing censor myself in order to make everyones experience more enjoyable.

I should also reiterate the disclaimer that I put up near the top of every page. Essentially, anything that I say on this blog is my opinion and my opinion only. Nothing that you read here will ever represent the views of Air Force ROTC, the United States Air Force, the Department of Defense, or anyone else.

Since I don’t like doing anything half-ass, I do want to make this “a good blog”. I thought the Merlin Mann article we read earlier was interesting and figured that I’d give myself a preliminary screening through Merlin’s definition of what makes a good blog:

1. Good blogs have a voice.
I think I do alright on this one. I think I wear my personality on my sleeve, and provide plenty of gateways to find out pretty much everything about me if you are really that interested.

2. Good blogs reflect focused obsessions.
Not so hot on this one. In the past I’ve been somewhat scatterbrained, and haven’t focused on one topic long enough to legitimately call it an obsession. We’ll see weather or not that changes going forward.

3. Good blogs are the product of “Attention times Interest.”
I’m not sure that I exactly understand what he is getting at with this one. I do try to provide enough links to allow my readers to follow my train of thought. I guess I’ll give myself a point.

4. Good blog posts are made of paragraphs.
Once again, I normally do post in paragraph format, so I think I’ve got that base covered.

5. Good “non-post” blogs have style and curation.
This one dosen’t really apply to me, since I normally write standard paragraph blog entries.

6. Good blogs are weird.
My lack of focused obsession generally makes this one pretty easy. Since my posts won’t always fall into a predefined category, there is bound to be some weird ones in there.

7. Good blogs make you want to start your own blog.
I don’t have any real empirical evidince that any blogging that I’ve done in the past has ever inspired anyone to start their own blog, so I don’t think I get the point for this one. I did originally start blogging because I read one of my friends that I liked enough that I thought I should throw my hat into the ring.

8. Good blogs try.
This is the point where I have to agree with Mr. Mann the most. The difference between creating content that people are interested in seeing and the mindless blather that goes on in comment sections and message boards around the internet is effort. I hope to put enough effort into this one to make it worthwhile.

9. Good blogs know when to break their own rules.
Since my rules are pretty loosely defined, I don’ have much of a problem with this one.

While I don’t think that Merlin Mann is the final authority on what a quality blog is, I think that is is always interesting to look at your own work through someone else’s perspective.

Hopefully this has given you an idea of the kind of things I’ll be writing in the next few weeks. Cheers!


Any opinions expressed on this blog do not represent the opinions of Air Force ROTC, the United States Air Force, the Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin, Iowa State University, the Department of Aerospace Engineering, or any other group or organization. If you don't like what I have to say, disagree, don't understand, or have a better idea, feel free to leave a comment, facebook me, e-mail me, call me or hunt me down.