Free Drawing & Graphic Software

13 10 2010

As the onset of Open Source software has been making more headway in the past couple of years, there is a bounty of quality free software around for anyone to try on for size.  Some more notable than others, but most are very well made products, and regularly updated through a small army of programmers.  The most common license for these products is the GNU General Public License, but there are other, less notable licenses as well.  This licensing ensures the quality and trustworthiness of the products you will be using in the future.  Anyone who has spent some time with the Linux operating system will be familiar with most of this.  If you are not familiar with Linux, get familiar.  Without further ado, let’s get listing!

1. GIMP – The GNU Image Manipulation Program

http://www.gimp.org

GIMP is essentially a full on Photoshop alternative, and it is 100% free.  I use gimp for almost all of my graphic design, and you can save your files in Adobe friendly formats that allow you full functionality with any Adobe suite or products you may already own.  This program runs much more efficiently than adobe in my opinion, I just enjoy the interface more.  Sure, there are some shortcomings that you just cannot ignore, such as the sheer quality edge and color detection you have in Photoshop, but if this is not essential for you, then why bother.

2. Blender – model – shade – animate – render – composite – interactive 3d

http://www.blender.org

Blender is a quality 3D modeling platform, also created under the GNU license.  It can be used for creating everything from 3D models and smoke simulation to creating animated films or video games!  Quality wise, Blender stacks up to other comparative programs, aka Maya and 3D StudioMax, rather well.  Sure it is limited in lack of Font Preview for text, lack of N-gon-based modeling workflow and some missing modeling tools.  It also is on the leading edge with advanced algorithms utilized for its UV unwrapping.  Basically, compare the price tag of Maya or 3D Studio to Blender and you definitely get what you don’t pay for.

Just a sample of what Blender can do:

 

 

3. Google SketchUp

http://sketchup.google.com/

Sketch up is essentially a simplified AutoCAD.  It has some one-dimensional aspects to it as well, and you can build houses for display in Google earth.  The simplicity lies in the interface, and the projects really just seem to come together.  I downloaded it on a whim, and wound up losing hours to trying to recreate my home, and building my dream one.  With some nice snap-to options, and a fun scaling platform, its worth the download.  And hey, who doesn’t trust Google?

This is really just scratching the surface of quality free drawing, image manipulation, and 3D modeling software out there, but if I had to pick, these are my top three.  Once you get into open source, or Google for that matter, it can be really hard to quit.  Hopefully this can help send you down a long and happy road of new, healthy computing options.





The Difference Between Boxee & Hulu

1 02 2010

The differences between Hulu and Boxee are numerous. To better understand the services they offer you need to understand that the only similarity between the two is they enable you to watch some of your favorite shows, over the internet, in one place. Effectively reducing the need for a regular television in your living room. From there, the similarities seem to fall off track. Boxee is the first and only open-source software/hardware combo to compile so many different sources of online video content in one place, for your organized ingestion. As they state on their blog, “This is a direct result of the generational shift towards over the top video during the past few years. Recent college grads will tell you the Internet is vital to them in a way PayTV could never be. Their social, professional, and family lives are reinforced by (and sometimes wholly self-contained within) the social networks, blogs, and interaction the Internet provides. This generation has turned to the Internet for their entertainment needs as well.”

Hulu was, and still is, a pioneer in this direction with their service, but theirs is still contained to just a web browser. Boxee is a stand-alone program (beta right now) launch-able from your desktop. You can download it at http://www.boxee.tv, and is very much a Windows Media Center-esque program. The look and feel is brilliant, with an innovative navigation system, and an enlightening interface that helps you organize your many interests across the web efficiently. Also supplies you with a very iPod-like option where you can download “apps” like CurrentTV, Discovery Online, or even College Humor.com, and then organize a channel for you to view in your Boxee interface.

Boxee is also about to release its own stand alone hardware that will plug directly into any television, preferably an HDTV, and feed you free television and movies linked with your internet video favorites, Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix accounts. Because Boxee is a stand alone open-source program, it is not tied to the licensing issues that websites like Hulu will encounter to hinder their growth (who can no longer offer their content on Boxee http://blog.hulu.com/2009/02/1 8/doing-hard-things/). According to the Boxee blog you can, “Enjoy a fluid and responsive user interface that is similar to the UI performance up till now available only on full blown PCs. Play 1080p video from locally stored content and stream HD video content from the Internet, and Play Adobe® Flash® 10.1 content from across the web, including HD content.” Sounds pretty good.

Due to the threat that Boxee shows the content producers, they cannot stand beside and watch their grip on what we as consumers ingest be challenged. Boxee is a definitive step into the future by changing how we approach our televisions, and another big step towards integrating our internet and our television a bit more. The more than line blurs, the more opportunities will be available for independent producers to start having a chance in an industry that has been under corporate lock-down for decades. Another reason why Hulu is no longer available on the Boxee service. Once the Boxee hardware peripheral is made available to the public, it will challenge the major cable companies like Comcast and AT&T to respond with some similar type of service to ensure they don’t lose a customer base to some new kid service on the block. It is only a matter of time before all of our Media becomes one seamless entity, not tied by the greedy binds that it is today. Hulu and Boxee are two great steps in that direction, and at this rate, it will be possible to have a fully integrated media ingestion system in line by the end of the decade. With people like this steering the way, its only a matter of time.

Sources

Boxee Blog http://blog.boxee.tv/

Hulu Blog http://blog.hulu.com/