I managed to get an unusually nice photo of my dog the other day, and then I made it nicer with GIMP. Proving that “free” (open source) does not mean “cheap” (lacking in functionality).
My brother gave me a new camera for Christmas — a little red Nikon “Coolpix” that I can carry in a pocket if I want. I’d been using my brother’s camera, which is a bit bigger, and is 3 megapixels. My new one is 12 megapixels. Nice. I was able to download the stuff off the CDs that came with the camera onto my laptop, but couldn’t get the transfer software to run. So I had to have my brother download my pictures onto his computer and then move them to a flash drive for me.
Funny thing, though. The Nikon transfer software wouldn’t work properly on his computer, either. He always ended up having to transfer the pictures using his PhotoShop (not even the full version) program. So I wondered if there might be some alternate program I could use. I looked on SourceForge for Nikon photo transfer downloads, and my search results turned up several possibilities.
I downloaded one and tried it. No go.
Then I wondered “if PhotoShop can access the image files on the camera, maybe GIMP can, too,” and I connected my camera to my laptop and opened GIMP. It didn’t automatically open a prompt asking if I wanted to download the photos, but when I clicked on the “open” line in the menu, the camera showed up as a file location. I was able to open the folders in the camera drive and select the ones I wanted to transfer. I had to open them in GIMP and then save them separately, so it’s not perfect. It may be pretty time consuming if I have a lot of photos to transfer. But I can do it. Without having to return to microsoft slavery.
A recent update “did something” to my printer driver, or the network that my printer is connected to — or is supposed to be connected to. I suddenly couldn’t print. And I had a very important print job waiting. A recipe for a five minute chocolate cake that I wanted to try. I ended up writing the recipe on a small notepad, and left out the line about the milk. I made the cake without the milk because I couldn’t get my printer to work! It tasted fine — it’s hard to ruin a chocolate cake, after all. But still.
This is when I really feel a serious lack of tech savvy. Maybe I could have gotten around the network that wouldn’t connect if I knew more about how to nuts and bolts program. But I don’t. I just had to assume that someone else (who could work on the program) would have the same issue and would write a patch, and I would get an update shortly that would make everything shiny again. And so it came to pass.
I just love my Ubuntu.
Yesterday as I was browsing the Linux links, I stopped and read this article on Ubuntu User about the next release of Ubuntu including the Banshee media player as the default player included with the download. I was curious enough to go to the Banshee site to see what kind of features it included. As soon as I saw the line about “Sync your music and videos to your Android, iPod, iPhone, or other device – or import its media,” I thought it might be the answer to the issues I’ve been having with my iPod Nano.
When I installed Xubuntu, the default music player was Exaile. It is a nice enough music player, but it took me a while to figure out how to import my music files, and I never could get it to import from a CD. If you visit the Exaile site, you may find, like I did, that the descriptions of its features are written in code. I don’t mean machine code, exactly, but for a non-techie like myself, it might as well be. The wiki for the player is not much more helpful. But at least I was able to use it for the music files I had. Later I found another application that I could use to copy my CDs to my hard drive. From there I could add them to my Exaile collection. Extra steps, involving extra apps. Not cool. And I still couldn’t sync my Nano. The software I had downloaded for that didn’t work — I suspect because my iPod was, in fact, a Nano, and not a standard issue iPod. So I had three separate programs to handle my music, and not well, at that. I decided to give Banshee a try.
Because I have a handy service in my Applications folder called Ubuntu Software Center, I didn’t have to download the app from the Banshee site. I just found it on my list and clicked “install.” And spent most of yesterday test driving it. It did everything as advertised — charged and added music to my Nano and my old Shuffle, imported music from some new CDs with no problems, and generally gave me no reason to regret giving up iTunes. It definitely gets my vote for media center of choice.
Although I don’t think I’ll ever have reason to regret making the move from my previous operating systems (I include Mac OS, too, because I used an early-generation iMac for years before I traded it for my iBook, and thought I’d never use anything but Macs), there have been some significant stumbling blocks. One reason, I think, may be that I resist the temptation to use all the patches to Linux that make it possible to use the authentic windows programs. I don’t know if doing that would solve all of my incompatibility issues, anyway.
For starters, I only recently got a Blackberry phone, but I can’t use the software that came with it on the CD because my computer won’t open any of the files on it. I have looked on the Blackberry website to see if they have a download for Linux users. Nada. Same story with my new camera. At this point it is fortunate that my brother has a computer with windows on it so that I can download my photos onto a flash drive and then put them on my computer.
And my iPod Nano is in a holding pattern. I can’t add any new music or photos, and I can only recharge it from my old iBook. I can’t update the iBook to a MacOs more recent than Leopard, which means I can’t add iTunes 8 or later, which I would need to sync my Nano. And I can’t find a Linux app that will sync it, either, without having to know a lot more than I do about using the command line. All I can hope for is that future updates will include those patches. It has happened with other programs I thought I was going to have to do without. I started out my Linux life unable to watch video clips. I couldn’t watch the YouTube clips of puppies on the “I Has a Hotdog” site, or TED videos, or the replays of NCIS episodes if I had to work on Tuesday night and missed one. Then a few updates later, I was able to install the Flash player for Linux and was back in mindless-video-viewing business. And I have to say that, at least as regards watching NCIS replays, this player is better than the one I was using on the windows version… running away better.
So I’m hoping that a future update will include the features that I need for all my electronic toys. In the meantime I keep telling myself that things could be a lot worse. I could still be using the old windows xp that wouldn’t let me have more than one window open at a time without freezing up and requiring me to reboot the whole thing. That shit just doesn’t happen anymore. FTW.
Although I’m not doing the Postaday2011, I’m subscribed by email to The Daily Post blog where they are posting topic suggestions every day. Today’s is: Best accomplishment of 2010? And I thought I could actually do something with that, relative to the theme of this blog, because deciding to erase the windows operating system from my laptop and install a Linux OS, all on my own, was a pretty big deal, considering I’m not an uber-geek. Of course, I’m no stranger to making rash decisions and taking rash actions, but I try to limit them to only a few a year or so.
It has been almost six months since I made the transition, and I’ve had no reason to regret my decision. I think using Ubuntu/Linux will allow me to get a lot more use out of this laptop, and I won’t have to deal with it taking longer and longer to perform some operations trying to open new documents and new web pages with an old worn out OS. Life in open source is not completely frustration-free, however. To get photos from my new camera onto this computer, I first have to download them to my brother’s computer, because the transfer software is not translated for open source systems — yet. I’m waiting, uber-geeks.
As part of my effort to be more productive as a writer and artist in the new year, I’m joining the WordPress community challenge to post regularly throughout the year. But not every day. I could probably find enough material about open-source software and how to use it to write every day, but don’t really want to make this my full-time job.
The challenge for me will be to do my writing in the mornings, when I’m on my own time, and when I normally fritter away that time on Facebook and Twitter. Below I’ve quoted the sample post from the WordPress blog to fill in some more details. I’ll be back next week.
I’ve decided I want to blog more. Rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting right now. I will be posting on this blog once a week for all of 2011.
I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.
If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way.
(I forgot to make the “Postaweek2011” tag yesterday. My bad. Added now.)