How to Install Windows Games on Linux

How to Install Windows Games on LinuxWhile there are indeed a fairly reasonable number of video game options for the Linux desktop, none of them are really the mainstream games many of us have come to know and love. This translates into many people either dual-booting their computers or perhaps instead, opting to green-light one of the various solutions that run Wine.

Using Wine is generally a last choice since it’s trying to run Windows libraries on a Linux operating system. Wine makes this possible in many instances, but can also lead to a very buggy experience. The real issue comes down to how the game is coded because games are typically optimized to run with the operating system having native access to computer hardware, not via an emulation mode like Wine.

That being said, there are (at least) a few options out there if you’d like to install Windows games on Linux. Here are a couple that I’ve found deserving of a second look.

WineHQ is purely a community effort to document what games and Windows apps work under Wine, along with documenting whether bothering with the game or app is even worth it. WineHQ is not the recommended place to start for the casual user since many of the configurations are challenging.

CrossOver Games is brought you by the good folks who also support CrossOver Office. Their games dept is the best equipped to get you running with today’s modern Windows games. Using the cutting edge release of Wine at all times, they add their own goodies to the mix for maximum compatibility with Windows games.

Which is the best approach?

While I mention WineHQ, using CrossOver Games is going to yield the highest rate of success. CrossOver Games’ database of compatible games is up to date, the code is fluid, and I see more focus on the casual user than I do with WineHQ. For advanced users, going at it alone with Wine via the WineHQ database is another approach. Again, WineHQ is not always as well supported, but it’s certainly a free option, nonetheless.

CC licensed Flickr photo by Jonathas Rodrigues

Earth Networks Climate Intelligence Services and Technologies

Recently Earth Networks, owner of the WeatherBug brand, partnered up with Borrasca Iniciativas Atmosféricas S.L. (BIA). The goal behind this new business partnership is to provide the best climate data available to Spain, Portugal, and Latin America. By combining the resources of Earth Networks with the expertise already in motion with BIA, everyone involved is expected to benefit with the most accurate and up-to-date weather/climate data possible.

Earth Networks Coverage In RedWhat technologies will BIA use?

Some of the solutions that’ll be used to monitor the weather conditions and climate events for BIA include the following.

StreamerRT: This Web-based weather monitoring tool provides real-time weather data as it’s happening. Commonly used for storm tracking and mapping of potential weather concerns still developing, StreamerRT provides a tremendous feature set ranging from multiple map layers to lighting data from Earth Networks’ own lightning detection network.

DTA Alerts: Known as Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts, DTAs offer advanced notification of severe weather as it develops. With updates taking place every 15 minutes during periods of storm threats, DTAs provide detection of both in-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning. This offers a clearer picture of how a storm threat might develop.

Smart Grid Solutions: Earth Networks utilizes their 8,000+ network of live weather stations in conjunction with their data processing abilities to make sure the power industry has the information needed to send power where it’s needed the most on any given day. The end result is a smaller carbon footprint and reduced cost for all involved.

Greenhouse Gas Observation Network: Climate monitoring is critical for dense population centers where air quality can vary greatly depending on the current weather conditions and existing climate activity. Getting an accurate read on carbon dioxide and methane trace gases is job one for this climate monitoring solution.

Interested in utilizing some of these technologies in your software applications?

If having access to some of this data in your own software is of interest to you, then perhaps looking into the WeatherBug API is something you should consider. Offering both a Rest API with live weather observations worldwide or the GEO API with weather map overlays on Google and Bing Maps, you’re sure to find the WeatherBug approach to an API solution for your software more than meets any criteria you might have. Curious? Fantastic! Register for free today!

Using WeatherBug API with WinForms

In previous articles I’ve discussed the WeatherBug API, while sharing some great examples of people coming up with creative uses for the WeatherBug API during their own development process. Today, I came across a new example that I think really hits the nail on the head. The video provided below shows you how one can use the WeatherBug API with something called Windows Forms.

So how does this work?

Using Microsoft Visual Studio, the creator of the above video demonstrates how he created a simple tool that would use the WeatherBug API’s alert data to send him an alert when critical weather conditions were taking place. The example application itself is a vanilla alert box that provides users with the following basic information.

Using WeatherBug API with WinForms

Alert for: This space is reserved for the locality where the weather alert has been issued (town, region, etc).

Last updated: Here you’ll find the space where the last API update to this simple application will appear.

# of alerts: And finally, this is the space where you can see the number of alerts available. Pretty self-explanatory.

When the creator of this software clicks on “Get Update,” the API updates the application with the latest weather conditions as the command would suggest. It’s really fairly simple to get one’s mind around once you’ve had a chance to examine the basics.

Using WeatherBug API with WinForms

The next step we see in the video is the developer clicking on File, then changing the ZIP code so he can test a new location. One thing that I found to be really neat is how this developer used Google to find a weather alert already in progress from another locale. From there, he took the affected ZIP code info and then entered it into the WinForms app. It took a few attempts to find the right location, but once he got the proper ZIP code in place, this developer managed to get an alert bubble to appear next to the clock. Outside of the bubble, the two alerts given are displayed within the app, easily read.

What I really enjoyed about this video is how easy it was to implement the API in with the functionality of the WinForms experience. It proves that the WeatherBug API is compatible with just about any kind or desktop or Web app programming a developer happens to be working with.

Getting the WeatherBug API for yourself

If you’d like to take a crack at using the WeatherBug API, the process couldn’t be easier. Just head on over to the WeatherBug API page and sign up for access. Once on the page, you’ll be presented with three choices: Personal, Commercial, and Mobile Device. Choose the option that best suits your needs and start developing your own weather app today!

IBM Deep Thunder and WeatherBug Analyze Irene

By now, most of you living here in the US have been alerted to the weather event known simply as Hurricane Irene. What you may not know, however, is which technology is being used to model the likely urban path for this hurricane. As reported here by MSNBC, Hurricane Irene is being simulated carefully by IBM’s own Deep Thunder. This IBM tool allows experts to predict the hurricane’s likely course as it develops with a greater degree of effectiveness. But since the National Weather Service here in the States has its hands full, Deep Thunder draws out additional data from private weather detection networks as well. One of the largest private networks Deep Thunder is accessing comes from WeatherBug. Deep Thunder gathers data from the hyper-local WeatherBug network, in addition to the new WeatherBug Lightning Network.

Lighting up the hurricane’s path with lightning detection

WeatherBug.com

As surprising as this may seem to many of you, lightning can actually provide a good indication as to a hurricane’s strength. And in the case of Hurricane Irene, WeatherBug’s lightning network is called into service to help determine the hurricane’s intensity. Perhaps what makes this so exciting is that WeatherBug meteorologists can not only see the lightning in the clouds, but on the ground as well. This is incredibly powerful data for first responders, city planners, and those simply looking to be as prepared as possible.

Hyper-local weather data on the social Web

Both WeatherBug and IBM’s Deep Thunder technology prove that hyper-local data coming from WeatherBug managed weather stations offer invaluable information during severe weather. Having the technology to manage the lesser indications that others might miss before the worst of a storm hits is a pretty big deal.

To that end, WeatherBug has been on top of making sure that the social media space is kept up to the latest happenings as the hurricane develops. This is nice for people who might be reading Twitter or Facebook, and would like to know how the storm is developing as the weekend approaches. You’ll find critical updates on Twitter and Facebook as new information is available.

Developers: Offer your users access to WeatherBug weather data

If you’re a software developer and would like the ability to provide your users access to WeatherBug weather data, I suggest you signup to use the WeatherBug API right away. Everything you need is on that page including an explanation of the REST API vs the GEO API.

For everyone else, be sure to check for your smart phone updates, then install a copy of WeatherBug for your mobile device. WeatherBug has mobile options for just about everyone, the two biggest being iOS and Android. Yes, you will find options for Android tablets and the iPad as well.

Best RSS Readers for Linux Users

Best RSS Readers for Linux UsersConsidering that I relied on RSS and the readers that support them long before I made the switch to the Linux desktop, having access to a decent RSS reader was a must for me to make the switch to the Linux desktop on a full time basis. Ignoring the half-truths you read elsewhere, there is really no big advantage to running a localized RSS reader app vs. using one located “in the clouds.” The only two things to consider are availability when offline and having a backup OPML of your feeds should something go wrong. Address those two issues, and you’re golden.

Below, I will offer up RSS readers for the GNOME and KDE desktops that I’ve enjoyed over the years. These are applications that I’ve used and have found to be worthwhile for all who bother to try them.

Akregator: The premiere RSS reader used by those on the KDE desktop, Akregator allows you to read your latest headlines and news events without ever needing to open up a separate browser window. Additional benefits include tabs, simple import/export functionality, plus decent integration with the Konqueror browser as well. For KDE users, regardless of Linux distribution, this is the best RSS reader out there in my opinion.

Liferea: This is my favorite RSS reader. Designed for the GNOME desktop thanks to GTK, Liferea allows for cool functionality like Google Reader sync, Google Reader labels, plus the same kind of functionality seen above with the KDE option.

Mix and match

One of the all time great things about Linux on the desktop is that I can mix and match applications designed for different environments. In the end, it’s just Qt and GTK applications at work here. This means, of the two options above, use your package manager to install the one that looks best to you. I find that Liferea offers the best experience, but your mileage may vary.

Alternatives to Cable Television

Alternatives to Cable TelevisionSo you tried to put up with the insanity that is cable TV, only to find that most of the content offered is either of little interest, requires the additional expense of a DVR to enjoy it, or worse, has been canceled and is no longer available. It’s a frustration that I think can get the best of most of  us. But what I have found interesting is that so many people continue to put up with the madness. By no means am I claiming that you’re going to find all of the content you seek on other sources, but most of the time you can find 95% of it!

Netflix

Easily the best money I’ve ever spent on TV programming. The best part is that the TV content making an appearance on Netflix is often keeping close pace with what you’d find with iTunes or Amazon. Sometimes it’s a little behind, but it’s surely the most friendly in price: flat rate, all you can watch TV. The navigation really depends on which set-top box you happen to go with. Since I’m a Linux guy myself, I’ve found that the Roku box more than meets my needs. And if that wasn’t enough, we also have our Apple TV (v2) box as a fall back. Both devices provide smooth access to Netflix.

What I love most about Netflix is that it offers me simple, flat rate access to the kind of content I enjoy. Priced right, with a decent selection that continues to grow, I’d say that Netflix is my first choice when looking to catch up on an individual TV series.

Hulu (Plus)

I know a lot of people have been on the fence about watching Hulu and Hulu Plus. After all, it comes with commercials. Having enjoyed the various TV series on Netflix without this hassle, it’s easy to see why some folks might be put off with the Hulu approach. On the other side of the coin, however, I would suggest that Hulu has more timely content. In addition to a lot of older TV shows, brand new programming appears on Hulu long before it does on Netflix. As to which is better, I leave that to the viewer to decide.

Amazon/iTunes

When it comes to video on demand content, for a price, both Amazon VOD and iTunes are about tied in my opinion. In my living room, we have Amazon VOD on my Roku box and iTunes TV content via my Apple TV. I’ve found both quality and quantity to be about on par on either side of the street. Some will argue that Apple’s content “looks better,” but to us mere mortals it’s a wash overall. The one singular difference I found between the two services however is when one is unable to provide a full HD experience due to an issue on its end, a credit is issued. As it stands today, I have over $50 of free VOD credit with Amazon. Take a wild guess who’s going to get my business in the future?

Npackd: a Package Manager for Windows

Npackd: A Package Manager For WindowsI think that one of the biggest things missing from the Windows desktop is a software package manager. I’m not pointing fingers at any one responsible party, but I just think it’s a missing feature that in 2011 we should have seen by now. Linux has had it for years. OS X now has it with its own software store. Where is the one for Windows? And please spare me that Live Marketplace stuff. It’s not even close to the same thing.

No, we need a real software center with real made for Windows application. As with most things new and innovative, the answer has come from an open source project called Npackd. The software provided in this software numbers 600+ and is all freely downloadable or open source in nature. This, is nice! This means that if it’s free to install (iTunes, Windows Live Messenger, Wink, etc), it’s likely listed within the available repositories.

Good, but not perfect

The single biggest issue I found with Npackd is the lack of being able to navigate categories. I realize this is bit of extra work to implement, but it’s like Ubuntu One offering music streaming without a playlist. It’s a real deal breaker. Because in order to use Npackd successfully, you either have to browse 600+ apps or know what you’re looking for. It kind of puts a damper on any sense of discovery, in my opinion.

Software management made easy

Looking back at my experiences with the software, it’s easy enough as long as you treat it like you would the Mac software store. If you remember to only use it to uninstall software installed by the tool, never software installed manually, it can be lot of fun to use. I certainly don’t think there is any question that a tool like this is a welcome option for Windows users. After all, installing software is a matter of select, click the big + sign, and then install. Once you’ve done this, the software handles all of the heavy lifting for you.

Does this adequately replace our old way of installing software? Well, in its current form I’ve found that Npackd is close, but the issues outlined above must addressed first. Not only that, but there needs to be a simple way to get new applications added for inclusion as well.

Wacom Drawing Tablets for the Mac

Wacom Drawing Tablets for the MacMuch like the Windows desktop, the Mac offers solid Wacom device support for its tablets. Unlike the kind of tablets on which you might watch video or blog, these types of tablets are designed to work with software like Photoshop. In this post, I will share some of the better tablets available as they each have their own benefits. Because the features of the tablets are mostly centered around things like wired/wireless or large/small, I will keep this short and sweet.

Wacom Intuos4 Large: The Intuos4 Large is a larger drawing tablet and will require you to have room for it. Sizing in at 19 x 13 inches, its biggest advantage is that it allows for large strokes. This is helpful for artists who happen to be working from a larger screen. Smaller screen users or those working with smaller forms of art within their drawing software probably won’t benefit from this. The Intuos4 is a highly rated tablet and is considered professional grade.

Wacom Bamboo Touch: Imagine being able to finger paint without the mess? This might just be possible for Mac users looking for a touch tablet that doesn’t require the stylus. No pen, no mess and all of the creativity. The Bamboo Touch allows you to even create shortcuts that can be used without a lot of extra effort. Basically, you can assign up to four personalized touch-based shortcuts with ExpressKeys.

Wacom Intuos4 Wireless: If you have the extra cash and a desire to cut the cord, then perhaps the Intuos4 Wireless is the best approach to your drawing tablet needs. Effective with your Mac up to 33 feet away, you will not find yourself needing to be super close to your monitor. This is helpful if you’re someone who does a lot of moving while they create. No longer are you bound by those silly USB cables. This offers true wireless freedom.

How to Manage Your Digital Camera on Ubuntu

Desktop Linux distributions like Ubuntu, among countless others, all have something in common. They all have great support for your digital camera. But the support doesn’t only translate into actual camera support as it also means great software for managing things. In this article, I will highlight two of my favorite programs for great camera management on the Linux desktop.

GNOME users

I am a fan of F-Spot, as I simply feel like it’s a more mature/advanced product. Branded with a simple user interface, F-Spot allows you to easily manage 16 common file types from just about every sort of image file you can think of. This software will even remove the photos from a connected camera, tag them, and help you with the sorting. Bundled with a fairly reasonable photo editor and the ability to upload your finished photos to Flickr or Picasa, F-Spot it where it’s at for users running Ubuntu and other GNOME based desktops.

How To Manage Your Digital Camera On Ubuntu

If this is just too much for you, then my second choice for GNOME users is going to be Shotwell. Those of you running Ubuntu already have this software installed out of the box. I’d consider this to be a less full-featured option, but a good one for photo newbies or those who just want photo management without the editing options of F-Spot. While Shotwell does allow for some minor editing, I just prefer the workflow of F-Spot myself in this area.

KDE Users

For those of you running a KDE desktop, the natural choice is going to be digiKam. This is an application that has had a special place in my heart for many years. Even though I use GNOME exclusively these days, my first real Linux experiences on a dedicated desktop were with KDE. Early GNOME back then was really bad. Flash forward into today and digiKam is still rocking the boat with user friendly and pro-level functionality. Import/export, organize, edit, and even use plugins!

Introducing WeatherBug For the HP TouchPad

WeatherBug has made it no secret that as a brand, they are to be seen on as many mobile devices and tablets as possible. This has led to success stories with the iPhone, iPad, Android options, among other platforms. In the tradition of keeping up with the latest happenings from the tablet space, WeatherBug has announced that they’ve released a tablet application for the HP TouchPad! WeatherBug for the TouchPad comes with something familiar to users of Google Chrome — the WeatherBug weather Window.

WeatherBug On The TouchPad

A snapshot look at the features for WeatherBug on the HP TouchPad

  • Unique Weather Window – A virtual window to the world outside gives you an artistic view of current conditions for your location.
  • Quick Weather Overview – Take a gander at the current weather and 3-day forecast for your selected location, plus the current conditions for all your saved locations at the same time!
  • Interactive Maps – Several interactive weather map overlays are dynamically integrated with Google maps functionality. Just do a pinch motion to zoom, pan and even map, satellite, hybrid and terrain views.
  • Severe Weather Alerts – Receive critical weather alerts when you need it most! “Always On” alerts for severe weather, such as Tornado warnings, to help you prepare for natural disasters.
  • Forecasts – 7 day extended and hourly forecasts* to assist you in planning your activities.
  • Location-Enabled Intelligence – Let the app help you find the best weather station for your location! “Geolocate” lets you bypass location settings, automatically detecting your location in order to present you with highly localized weather.
  • Traffic and Weather Together – View weather maps in conjunction with Google’s traffic map layer to gauge the impact of approaching storms on your travel plans.
  • Instant Camera Images – See the weather around you with camera images from up to 20 nearby weather stations closest to your currently active location.

WeatherBug for other tablet devices?

For those of you who already own tablets and are tired of tablet apps that promise the moon yet fail to deliver up to date, truly local weather data, WeatherBug has the following tablet app options for you.

WeatherBug for the iPad – Available both in a free and a paid edition, this is the app to run if you want to find local weather that is closest to you and all of the visual bells and whistles to go along with it.

WeatherBug for Android Tablets – Taking advantage of everything that Android on the tablet has to offer both functionally and visually, the WeatherBug app is quite amazing to behold.

 


How to Fix Display Problems on Ubuntu

I don’t care how long you’ve been using Ubuntu or any other distro for that matter. Eventually there will come a time where you go to boot things up and something won’t be working right. Now I realize that at the time of this writing, we’re still seeing Xorg being used with Ubuntu. And in addition to that, the Xorg isn’t really used anymore. This means making manual changes isn’t quite as simple as it once was. But at the same time I’ve found that the stability of the X server is a lot better than it used to be, too. So it’s certainly a trade off.

Common causes of Ubuntu display issues

In my own experience, even a mere update can create problems with an OS where there were none before. And for those who think that display issues only happen to Linux users, think again. But the causes tend to differ from one OS to another. I’ve found that mixing VGA/DVI or even dual-DVI display setups can create problems if a graphics card is underpowered. Another issue that can crop up is relying on the open source video drive for support only to find that one day it stops detecting the monitor correctly. Same can be said for the proprietary drivers for video cards as well.

Fixing Display Problems On Ubuntu

Fixing the problem

When it comes to common problems in this area for the Ubuntu distribution, sometimes it’s easier to just remove the entire faulty Xorg and driver completely than trying to troubleshoot it for hours at a time.

To do this, I recommend using the Esc key during startup to get into the list of bootable kernels. Select the one with recovery in the title, and hit your enter key. From here, you will go through the rest of the boot process and eventually come to a command line area where you will log in as if it were done with the GUI options. After logging in, you will do the following to remove and repair your Xorg setup.

sudo apt-get remove --purge xserver-xorg

then

sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg

and finally

sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

Now during the course of this, you end up with any problems that come up such as an error about a specific file that won’t remove itself or issues with say, the ATI driver. Try these tips.

Problem file removal:

sudo dpkg-divert –rename –remove /problem/file/link

Problems with the fglrx driver

sudo dpkg –force-all –purge xorg-driver-fglrx

Ubuntu PulseAudio Configuration

Clearly, I have no life. Why? Because while most people were doing fun things over their weekend, I found myself playing with Ubuntu’s PulseAudio installation just to see how much this can really do. Now I’ve been using Ubuntu since the early days and Linux since… well, let’s just say long enough to remember early versions of Red Hat Linux.

Now in the past, folks have complained that using PulseAudio was too difficult or otherwise created problems due to the PulseAudio concept still being pretty young. Today, however, it’s pretty tough to run into problems with it. In Ubuntu 11.04, the default volume control allows for much of the PulseAudio control. You can change from one device to another, and you’ve got tabs broken down into Sound Effects, Hardware, Input, Output and, of course, Applications. PulseAudio really shows its face in the Applications tab, as you can control the volume for multiple sources from within one single interface. But to really experience just what PulseAudio is capable of, you really need to install the PulseAudio Manager.

The padevchooser is our friend

With a terminal window open (or via your package manager), do a quick apt-get install of padevchooser (PulseAudio Device Chooser). Once this is done, just set it to run when your computer starts via Startup applications. From there, you will see it running next to the clock, possibly without a clear icon. Sometimes that happens. In any case, just left click on it and select the Volume control. Now from here, you are presented with some very powerful options. What are they? Well check this out…

Ubuntu Pulseaudio Configuration

Getting geeky with PulseAudio

Looking to the image above, showing off the Recording tab with the selection of sources from which you can record, I want you to consider the monitor sources. You know, the ones that are virtual cables to the actual sources such as what is blasting through your speakers or perhaps through your headphones. Unlike the traditional inputs, the monitors allow you to do things that are nearly limitless. Need a simple example? Try this one.

Cheese opened up, the Web cam is recording, but you’re tired of simply recording the audio of you chewing food. Then you remember a podcast you created a long time ago. With the PulseAudio volume control center open, you look to the Video Recording option once. Still with the audio manager open, click the Recording tab and you’ll make sure that Cheese is recording the monitor for wherever you have audio playing out. Speakers, for instance, will be the monitor for your sound card. Stop the recording, delete it, and then redo it. Now your audio source is the podcast playing through your speakers. Cool, huh?

Advanced functionality

While too lengthy to squeeze into this article, you can actually use Pulse Audio’s Default Sink (left click and select Default Sink) to “send” sound. A reverse of this would be to set the default server as a remote machine, then keep the default sink as your local PC. I’ve done this to monitor audio of my cat climbing onto the kitchen table. I then use a reverse option to scream into a microphone, thus promising the cat jumps down quickly.

How to Record Video with Ubuntu

So you want to learn how to record video with Ubuntu? At one time not all that long ago, this would have meant using some command line magic. But with modern implementations of newer software, this has changed and there are more viable options now. Each of these applications offer different benefits and work differently from one another. And to be ultimately fair, some of them just stink.

WebcamStudio: The good thing about WebcamStudio is that I’m part of the project in the feedback/testing/etc. department. I work closely with the developer, who is very creative with finding the best way to offer the best user experience possible. This said, the software can make using a webcam a bit slower than it would be using something that is recording outside of Java. Then again, nothing else out there on any platform has WebcamStudio’s functionality. The software is incredible and offers amazing features, be it slow with regard to video frame rates sometimes.

How To Record Video With Ubuntu

Cheese: Cheese is one of those GNOME-based programs that should be cool, but ends up being a huge letdown. On the plus side, it offers a vast number of cool effects and does well with recording video. Unfortunately, I have never used a Cheese release that didn’t have bugs with crashing or just provide choppy audio. It does work well with no sound and to take fast stills with a webcam.

Kamoso: Webcam resolution? No, really, where is it? Even Cheese has the option to adjust my webcam settings in such a way as not to make things look like I’m a LEGO person! On the plus side, however, Kamoso offers YouTube uploading, which is simply awesome.

Recommended solution?

For basic recording, try using Ustream.tv. No, really. While I might be inclined to bundle my WebcamStudio app into the mix on occasion, I’ve found that not broadcasting and simply recording a webcam produces some decent results. Best of all, you can upload straight to YouTube with Ustream as well!

Simple Alternatives to GIMP

GIMP is a pretty neat software option offering many of the same functions as the proprietary application known as Photoshop. But despite all of the abilities offered by GIMP, it’s not a great fit for everyone. Some people find it’s just too much for them to contend with. The fact is that there will be instances with users who just need to make minor changes to an image or perhaps create something that would be entirely too involved with software like GIMP. It’s with these users in mind that I offer the following alternatives for artists and photographers alike.

MyPaint: More of art creation software than photo editing, MyPaint is a great option for those people looking to get their feet wet with something fun and fabricate something creative vs. editing an existing image. The interface is fairly straightforward, yet decent enough that artists will feel at home using it. And perhaps just as important as the UI and brush options is support for graphics tablets used by many artists out there.

TBO, the GNOME comic creator: If you’re into creating comics with the quickness, this is the software for you! using existing comic people parts to allow for fast rendering of comics without drawing skills, TBO is the best. You create each frame, select a character, and then add any accessories you want. Each frame/page created is like a panel in a comic strip, so the entire process is extremely simple and doable for all ages.

Simple Alternatives To GIMP

Fotoxx: If you’re looking for a program to handle your photo collection on a Linux distro such as Ubuntu, you might have been tempted to use something like F-Spot, another alternative. Fotoxx is a really great solution for those photographers interested in importing and organizing large RAW photos that need to be worked with. Fotoxx offers a wide range of functionality similar to GIMP including manipulation, color adjustments, image painting, and tone mapping plus countless other features.

Shutter: I’d consider Shutter to be a screenshot utility with a kick! Basically, this feature rich application allows the user to capture a screen area, an entire desktop area, a single window, or just a toolbar. Where things get interesting is with the options to crop, reshape, censor, and add text/objects to the screen capture itself. This can prove to be a useful tool when trying to explain something to someone.

Using the YouTube Video Editor

YouTube Video EditorI’ve been suggesting that, over time, more and more applications will be moving into a cloud space, thus making the need for local software less important. Perhaps there are some applications that are a ways away from this, but for the most part I think that we’re going to begin seeing more software being less platform dependent. And I happen to think this is a good  thing myself.

To take this line of thought further, I would point to YouTube’s own video editor. What, you didn’t realize that YouTube even offered such a thing? Don’t worry about it; Google hasn’t exactly been shouting about the tool from the mountain tops.

What’s good about YouTube video editor

The YouTube video editor has a lot going for it despite its basic functionality. For easy mashups of your own YouTube videos, dragging and sorting couldn’t be easier. Another benefit is that this editor provides you with simple and legal access to Creative Commons music and video. This means that if you need some cool tunes for your latest mashup, this editor will make the process very easy. Plus, the music selection isn’t terrible, either.

The downside to the YouTube video editor

The biggest two downsides I’ve found with the editor are the lack of compelling transitions and effects. While the editor provides some level of editing control through its ability to trim back video content, I was disappointed that the transitions were so lacking and the effects amounted to brightness, contrast, and black/white control. That, alone, is something that needs to be expanded greatly on.

With the negatives aside though, I see this as a classic example of more advanced functionality being built into future versions of this editor. As things stand now, I wouldn’t actually suggest that this editor is ready for prime time. But it’s getting there, be it a little too slowly for my taste.