Category Archives: Technology

The Super Cool Fun Time GNU Image Manipulation Software

The Gimp is damn cool. I dig it. No, I am not talking about your friend with a bum leg, like a college fraternity brother I had who was nicknamed “Gimp.” The Gimp I dig is the friendly photo editing software also known as the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP).

I have been using for years. Mostly for personal photo editing, some of the basic tools like brightness, contrast, and occasionally adding text or some other simple edit. It has been very helpful. Recently, however, I have been using for more creative purposes. It all began when I was bored of work and other personal writings I have been working on.

First thing I did was read about all of the other tools, features, and fun that can be done with the GimWelcome to the Internetp. So much information can be found online about it like the options, settings, filters and oddball functions which can be very useful in a professional setting. I am not here to go over a huge, full, in-depth review of it. That has been done a bunch of times by reputable websites and magazines (Extreme Tech, Arstechnica, PC World).

The next thing I did was find a website with free pictures to download. Anyone can take a picture of the internet, but I wanted to find a website which had royalty free public pictures. Of course, many are out there, but I really dig Pixabay.com lately. Then after finding a couple odd free photos, I went to work with all the fun of the Gimp!

One of the great things about it has nothing to do with the functionality of it. It is also a great program because it is free. I mean, free, and beautiful with the Gnu The Pine PathPublic License. Not like free beer, but more like free speech. GNU is super. I am a big fan of open source, open minded software and people. I am also a nerd who uses Linux. So sue me (don’t really).

The licensing of the expensive alternatives like Adobe Photoshop makes it difficult for many of us to enjoy that quality. Even those big guys at Adobe are changing it up and making it more difficult.  No, the Gimp is not really top of the line with functions like Adobe Photoshop, but it has some great options that makes it almost as good or “good enough” for the price and the need of the amateur, average Joe.

I admit I am not very good with graphic design or anything similar to it. I am not expert or professional. It is fun, though. My intentions of this little write-up about it is just to get the Gimp some attention. I enjoy it. It has been helping me pass the time at my boring job. When I am not busy with my job I tend to write or find some other creative outlet. With all of this time, the creativity in me needs to poor out somehow because I am an oddball. The Gimp is helpful with my need to create. I want to give it some praise, some love, and some respect. Give it a try. You will learn to love it. I recommend if you like it to donate at the Gimp website. It needs some love.

Telecommunication Service Providers Grind My Digital Gears

Today my cellular phone started to have some charging issues. I have been “eligible” for an upgrade, and I have been out of a contract for some timGears and stuff and thingse. So, today, I started looking at my options with my current provider. Not to name any names here and cause a big stink, I am going to call this provider “Dash” for the remaining of my little rant here.

First things first – I did some research. I am very technology savvy. I am a nut for technology. I know too much, but I still want to hear some things in plain words to understand it all. So, as the technology nut I am, I did much of my research before going into the store. I like to read, so it is all good.

Next, as I wanted to hear some information in plain speak, I went to Dash’s store. I walked into the store and made my way over to the new phones they had on display. I was quickly greeted by a very friendly salesman, let’s call him “Johnny Five” because I am a huge Short Circuit fan and to make it easy. I explained to him that I have been looking into a newer, more advanced model of phone, the Android Galaxy S4, and I wanted to compare it to some other options they had.

Before telling me about the phones, he told me the plans have changed for new phones. I guess he needed to let me know that before anything else. Here is how the conversation progressed (paraphrased some).

“So, I was looking into these two phones here,” I said.

“Great! We have some great new options with our ****** plan. No contracts, so you can get new phones every year!” said Johnny Five.

“Well, some that sounds great,” I said. “What about discounts?”

“We do not have discounts any more,” explained Johnny Five.

This is where I began to wonder what is going on. No discounts? Then how do I get a phone with your company in a way which it would look appealing to me? I do not remember reading about this on the website. I pressed him further.

“No discounts? You mean I pay for the phone outright?” I asked.

“Yes, it is through payments,” Johnny Five explained. “It is kind of like a lease. No contracts.”

Okay, I thought. Pay for the phone, no contracts, sounds like it would be good if I ever wanted to change carriers or frequently changed phones. I could live with this deal even if I had no intentions of leaving the company because so far I have had no problems with them.

“So, no contracts, monthly payments for both service and phone in one bill?” I asked. “Then, if I wanted to, I could leave or change my phone or something in this deal as a trade? It is like a lease?”

“Yes,” Johnny Five said. “That is now the only way we roll.”

“How much would my monthly rate be?” I asked.

This is where I became irritated and confused. He told me the new plan price which was the same price I had been paying plus $25 more a month for 24 months for the phone. I do not like the newdollajohnnyfive “roll” of Dash. I quickly got out of the store.

I understand how this can be appealing to some people. It does not catch me as a good deal for what I need, and I do not change service providers or phones often. I am a loyal customer. Loyal! Then I looked up some information online and my loyalty soured.

Online, the company’s website to be exact, I can order the new phone with the 2-year contract extension for about $200. Great, same plan and price without that extra $25 a month. That saves me money being I had no intention of leaving within the two years. Then I started thinking about $200 and how expensive that was compared to previous “deals” the company gave me.

I thought for a minute or two about it when an idea came to mind. I understand how the sales and deals work as a former salesman for a different telecommunications provider. At that company, attracting new customers and stealing them from the competition was where the big money was to be found. They had plenty of great deals for new customers while the other, loyal, long-time customers paid more and more and more. It did not seem fair to me at the time, but to some degree, I get it. It is a numbers game in sales. Money. It is all about the numbers and dead presidents.

I wondered, as I stared at the website, what if I was not logged into the website while searching for phones? I logged out, deleted cookies, and went back to the website as if I were a new potential customer. The screen loaded and voila! Eureka! What great deals! Instead of $200, it was $100 for the same phone if I were a new customer. Seriously, Dash, what about me? Your good friend and loyal customer? I kept looking.

I found another place to search for deals. Through a well-known electronic store website I found the same phone for the same provider at half the price as Dash had for new customers!  It had the same terms as Dash’s website for new customers except I could come in as a current customer and get the deal. That means less money out of my pocket with the rebates! Well, I have much to think about.

Why, I wonder, can the company I pay every month not give me a better deal like that? Why are they not catering to me as a long-term customer? What am I? Chopped liver? Well, I am not chopped liver, I am an educated consumer with a fist full of cash and an open eye for some other company to take my money. Get it together, greedy bastards, or you will lose a customer. Then again, do you, Dash, care if you lose me? My money every month enough for you to care? Do you even give a damn? I have much to decide, and maybe I need to do some shopping around at other providers. Digital gears are grinding now.

The Technology Fad, Twits, and InstaTwits

I don’t know about this technology fad. Strange how it has been embedded into the culture. Everyone wants the new device to access the internet for college classes and whatnot. People use it for blogs like that on WordPress.com, people search for people like old friends on Facebook.com, and people are using it to share pictures on sites like Instagram. People are even using it to meet people on websites like Plenty of Fish (pof.com). What happened to the good old days when if you wanted to talk to someone you showed up at their house or met them at a bar? This is a silly fad.

Of course I jest about technology. Some of it is good, some of it is bad, and sometimes I just feel nostalgic about the times before it was mainstream. Technology has been growing as a way to share thoughts, ideas, opinions, and general information. I would not know anything about sharing my opinions of course. We, the consumer, do this through our mobile devices or laptops or computers, and these devices seem to help us reach out and touch someone as AT&T would say. The network and the websites which offer these social digital services, however, is how these devices are able to reach people.

We connect everyday with people through this websites. Some of it feels a little cold to me. With Facebook I can find people I know and try connecting with them. In fact, I have recently connected with some old friends using the website. That website I understand. Some of the other sites make me feel as if a connection is incomplete and distant. I wonder if anyone out there in the digital world is real because I cannot see or touch them to know if they are flesh and blood. That is how the digital world works, though, and that is why some of it feels cold. I am trying to warm up to it.

Technology is nifty. I understand the importance and value in it. I am a technology-nut of sorts. I dig it. Then again, some of these sites I don’t really even understand. For example, and the reason for me to start thinking about the technology fad, Twitter and Instagram are two of the sites I just do not “get” fully. Eating dinner? Post a picture of it on Instagram. Watching a program on television or participating in an event? Tweet about it on Twitter. I just do not get it. Some things people just do not care about. It is as if technology is for the “it is all about me” people. Then again, as I type this in a blog, I cannot say too much about it.

I just started using Twitter. I follow a few people, but I’m not really followed by anyone. The word “following” makes me think of a stalker though. I don’t know how I feel about following people in real life. I guess it is okay if you digitally follow.

The idea of just sending out a message like done on Twitter seems odd to me, too. A message is called a tweet. Some of the messages are informative while others are just rambling junk messages by dumb Twits. Maybe those who tweet should be officially called Twits and people can then upgrade their status from twits to tweeters or some other hierarchy. Just a thought. Pass it on if someone has not brought this up before.

So, a tweet is 140 characters sent out in often broken internet-speak as if it is just yelled out loud to a big crowd. I imagine as I tweet that I am just yelling in a crowded train station or public event. It seems cold. Twitter has a fix for that general yelling thing with “#” a.k.a. the hashtag. With this you can use keywords about your tweet and put a hashtag in front of it so you can easily categorize their message and other people can find it. If you want to yell at someone specific you can use their Twitter name which begins with the “@” like mine which is @themushandmilk if you want to follow me. Follow me, you creeps.

Another website I do not fully understand is Instagram. It reminds me of Twitter except with pictures. I could be wrong. I see if you prefer the idea that “a picture is worth a thousand words” then uploading pictures to share is a great idea. Pictures show so much more than I can ever in the words I write here. Other sites, like Facebook, you can share with friends and family, but with this site it can be shared with more people I guess. I get it, but I don’t know why some people use it to share a picture of their meal on Instagram. These people I can affectionately call InstaTwits.

The more I think about these sites the more I think about how in ways it brings people together. People can share thoughts with like-minded people and have a soapbox of their own. It seems, as Twitter and other social media sites, all of these sites are just other ways to both share and distance oneself from other people. At the same time it brings people together. Hmm. I “get” it, but I do not know all of the fun ways I can share, distance myself, and bring myself closer to other people at the same time.

I am no expert. These are just my thoughts and understandings. I am not trying to be funny, however, I am a technology-nut trying to understand and explain it for myself. I see the good and the bad. Some people who send tweets are just twits, and other people are really trying to do something with the site. I am warming up to it – slowly.

So many choices. So many ways to share information. The great wide internet, as it does, is coldly reaching out with digital fingers and grabbing people by their eyeballs. As I learn more about Twitter and Instagram I think I may learn to enjoy them. These can reach many people in short bursts and pictures unlike other technology sites and other forms of communication. Maybe the coldness of these technology tools will warm up to me. We will see, my digital, possibly not real people-like friends. All of these hashtags are making me dizzy. Tweet me you twit, and tell me about something. If you have nothing to say, just tweet me about your meal you just uploaded to Instagram. Creepy stalkers can follow me on Twitter @TheMushandMilk and send me a message. You Twit. #hashtagsforthemushandmilk #tweetsfortwits #instatwits