Category: General

GIMP: Replacement for Photoshop?

I was reading this article on slashdot.  The article is a review of a book on gimp which is an open source image editing package.  The quesion is how it compares with Photoshop.  Clearly, it does not compare from a price standpoint as it is opensource and thus free.  I personally have never used GIMP, but am certainly interested in the story and application.  The idea of an opensource Photoshop is hard to pass up; however, Photoshop is really the industry standard these darys.  It is easy to find plugins and tutorials on Photoshop which there seems to be very few for GIMP.  I also wonder whether GIMP supports camera RAW images.


GIMP certainly looks like it is worth a look.  If it is interesting, I may considering purchasing he book for educational purposes.  However, it will be difficult to convince me off of Photoshop given my experience with the application.

Update on Web Portal Software

I previously posted about the various web portal options I was considering. I had narrowed the choice down to Metadot and Joomla/Mambo and decided to go with Joomla.

I now have a couple of months under my belt with Joomla and have to say that it is a great product. I really like it. The whole extension concept with Joomla is very valuable because it has allowed me to add additional features and functions. I have installed the following plugins and have been happy with them.

  • Docman – Excellent document repository
  • Jevents Calendar – An easy to use event calendar
  • JCE – An updated HTML editor
  • mosKnowledgeBase – I actually purchased this component because I wanted a KB option and this looked the best.

I would highly recommend this tool to anyone interested. I am still using the older pre 1.5 version due to the fact that 1.5 is still in testing with limited plug-in support. I will upgrade at some point, but am in no rush since I am happy with my current installation and configuration.

Web portal software

I have recently been doing some research into open source web portal software. I need to create a portal for my company and so am looking at the various options. My initial analysis yielded three options which are highlighted below:

  1. Metadot
  2. Mambo
  3. Joomla!

Each of the packages above have their pros and cons. I installed and tested two of them and have decided which way to go. Here is what I found:

This provides a very attractive portal out of the box. Ease of use is excellent.

Perl based design makes for extremely complex installation. (Must not only install perl, but also 10-20 specific module for the application.) Awful performance — This application performed terribly in my environment which was annoying.

PHP/MySQL based. Strong installed base and support community. Many add-on components available.

Confusing history since this is a derivation from Mambo. Upcoming release of new version.

In the end I chose Joomla. The application seemed to have the best support community and add-on developers. Truthfully, it was a bit of a toss-up between this and Mambo given the application similarity.

FiOS Gotcha

I previously posted about Verizon’s FiOS service. This is a high speed fibre to the home service offered by Verizon. The service is much faster than cable Internet service or DSL and offers high speed uploads AND downloads.

There was recently an article in the International Herald Tribune. This exposed an interesting challenge of the service. When you sign-up for it, Verizon unhooks the copper connections to your house and so they effectively lock you into the service. This is a very scary case of lock-in since Verizon are the only people who control the fibre access and so they are effectively monopolizing your Internet and phone connectively. The ability to lease copper wires is protected by law; this same requirement does NOT apply to Fibre. It sounds like you can re-connect the copper, but that they discourage this and make it difficult. In many respects, this seems like a step backwards. I am okay with the exclusivity thing, but Verizon should be required by law to re-connect copper. The consumer should not have to fight for this; it should be a basic part of the service.

Highspeed Internet

I live in MA and am a user of Comcast high speed Internet. The service works fine and provides excellent download performance the problem is crappy upload speeds. I just ran a speed test at Speakeasy and found download speeds of about 5.5 Mb/sec and upload speeds of about 360 Kb/sec. I find the slow upload speeds frustrating. The issue is that I periodically upload data for backup purposes and it takes forever. Fortunately, this leverages a cron job in Linux at 1:00 AM, but there is not reason that it should be so slow. Why do they limit upload speeds so much? I assume that it is a cable bandwidth and/or technology limitation and is frustrating.

What I am looking forward to is FiOS. This is the new broadband to the home service offered by Verizon. It looks very interesting and promises about 15 Mb/sec downloads and 2 Mb/sec uploads, a dramatic improvement over Comcast. Lance Ulanoff from PC Magazine wrote about the installation process. Personally, I really want this service. I am frustrated with the weak upload performance of Comcast and would be interested in trying something new. Unfortunately, FiOS is not currently available in my neighborhood. The reality is that my town is fairly rural and so it is unclear when or even if FiOS will be available in my town. Trust me, the moment it is available, I will order it.