Here, I would like to introduce you to two open-source graphics editing programs that are worth taking for a spin.

1. Actually, I have been using the free, open-source graphics editor, Gimp for quite some time and I can tell it’s as good as Photoshop in many ways. The new 2.6 version support for 32 bits per color channel and a new GEGL-based backend, polygonal and sectional selection with the Free Select Tool, docked tools, and menus, and a "brush dynamics" sub-menu that gives creators serious control over their pixel-pushing tools. Try Gimp!

2. Inkscape is another lovely, free, open-source vector editing program that you could use instead of Adobe Illustrator. I’m not a hardcore illustrator but as far as I can tell, all the tools and functions that you would ever need for your designing purposes are available on Inkscape too. Check out the Inkscape gallery at Deviant Art to see how lovable it can be.

GIMP and Inkscape are two free programs that you must take a spin at. Installation Packages are available for Windows, Mac, or Linux platforms. Go give it a try | Gimp 2.6 | Inkscape >>

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Each and every day we start new projects, install new Applications to our computers, cluttering the desktop and often dispatching mysterious Malwares and Adware’s to the system. But not many are concerned about organizing their desktops for productivity. I have seen badly cluttered desktops with like over 90 desktop shortcuts. If you are one of the victims, better take action now than never. With the right Software applications and WebApps, one could easily double his/hers productivity.

Part- 1> Install and keep updated with dependable Programs and Drivers
Most of our daily-use Applications come with the Operating System itself. However, these might not be the best Application for the job as there are better, free Applications a click away. For example, I bet some of you will have probably about 3 instant messaging clients running on your computer. But what if you could use all your instant messaging services (yahoo,msn google talk etc) with just one Application? Fixing small slip-ups like this will help you boost your computers overall performance.

Here are afew Free Software’s that I would recommend for a better computing...

Digsby or Pidgin: Manage all your email and social networking accounts within one window. (Supports AIM, Yahoo!, MSN, ICQ, Google Talk, Jabber and even Facebook Chat).

Opera or Firefox: These are the two best web browsers on the internet. Opera is much faster than firefox, however Opera lacks extensions, addons, compared to firefox. These two browsers are limitlessly customizable.

VLC Media Player: If you are using Windows Media Player, it will ask to install many codec’s to play vague formats. However, if you have the Free, VLC Media Player installed on your PC, you will never suffer of indistinct media formats. VLC Media can play virtually any media file, including DVDs, CDs, and various streaming protocols. Moreover, it can be used to rip your DVD’s too. (Just another reason not to install an extra Application just to rip DVD’s and CD’s)

Open Office: Best Package for all your Office needs. Free, alternative office suite OpenOffice already supports the upcoming OpenDocument Format 1.2, allowing you to save your documents in ODF for a bit of future proofing. It’s lighter than Ms Office and can save your files as PDF’s (again, bye bye documents to PDF converters).

7-Zip: Free, 7-Zip has a higher compression ratio compared to WinRaR or Winzip and can unpack almost any compressing format. Usually, 7-Zip compresses to 7z format 30-70% better than to zip format. And 7-Zip compresses to zip format 2-10% better than most of other zip compatible programs.

Winamp or SongBird: Free, wonderful media players that can be tweaked, customized, and personalized for your music pleasure.

Windows Live Photo Gallery: Google's free desktop software, Picasa used to be my favorite until MS Live Photo Gallery showed up. With the New Free Live Photo Gallery, you could do anything with your photos within the Gallery itself. It automatically organizes your Photos based on date, time, rating, and type. Additionally, you can adjust image details, Fix Red Eye, Adjust image exposure with just one click.

Stay in touch for Part- 2> More Free Desktop Applications that could be used to replace your existing ones.

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Despite the unsuccessful “the Next Big thing of MS 2007– aka windows live”, Microsoft still continues to develop live services and it seems that now MS had learned from their mistakes and finally come up with a Web 2.0 and afew must-have PC and Internet goodies. If you have recently visited Windows live home page, you must have noticed afew cool things worth trying. I like to recommend Photo Galley, Profile and SkyDrive.

Certainly the recent upgrade of live Services will increase Windows Live adoption rates. And moreover, if MS unite with other leading services like Flickr, Photobucket, Twitter, WordPress etc as said by Chris Jones, windows live could be the best service on the internet. However Apple, Google and Yahoo will certainly fight against it and the results are unpredictable. Anyways let hope that this is something worth to bother!

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My Favorite web browser, Opera still continues to be the fastest Internet browser of all time. Although it never seemed to achieve the kind of success it deserved, Opera Developers still ain't gonna stop until they surpass IE and the Mozilla Firefox. Two days back, Opera Developers announced the popular cross-platform web browser's new version, Opera10 alpha and I could say that the new version continues to please me with the Presto 2.2- rendering speed (up to 30% speed boost compared to previous versions).

Most importantly Opera is looking forward to offer stiff competition with the blazing rendering engines of Firefox and the Google Chrome. Moreover, the Opera10 will offer afew new features including inline spell-check, full HTML email support for Opera's built-in email client, and a perfect score on the Acid3 web standards test.

With ever growing amazing features, Opera still continues to stay below MS IE and Mozilla Firefox. I would say that's not because Opera is weaker compared to IE or firefox, However that’s because IE and firefox's adoption rates are higher than the Opera and on the other hand, many users highly depend on some features like Extensions (Fx) which Opera does not have. Moreover, more than 40% of users choose IE since it’s the default browser that comes with the MS Windows.

Opera just needs to get the attention of the above mentioned users and Opera will be the greatest Web Browser of all time. Maybe advertising it would help Opera gain more love it deserves. And yeah, Opera needs to be more versatile with better addon support, Extensions and also streamlining the password prompt and search bar window might be a good change. Let’s hope for Opera10 final with overall standard improvements.

Opera 10 (alpha)
Opera 9.62 (stable)
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I am wondering how you feel about an American Degree compared to any other. It seems many of my friends go after American Degrees because it sounds more pro. Others choose Singaporean, Australian etc to get a cheap degree (depending on the University of course). Or could it be because they don't want to waste their time and energy studying crappy subjects like US Constitution, US History, Psychology and other Subjects that don’t concern ones Degree Major.

I don't know about you guys but I think it’s too much for a person who doesn't intend to live in US. I personally had already completed about 23 Subjects despite only 6 Subjects that really concern my Major.

Actually, all this is about a letter I received from Excelsior College. More than 2 years after enrollment, I have been told by Excelsior that they no longer offer the Degree I applied for. Hence, they want me to choose a different concentration. So before I start my last batch to complete the specialization subjects, I must change my entire course. However I’m still not sure what I’m going to choose. So I’m thinking to talk to the management and let them recommend a concentration that best suits me.

If any of you would like to share your opinion you’re most welcome. Also I look forward to transfer my credits to any other College that accredit all the subjects I had completed already and if only I could get the exact Degree I have always worked for, which is IT Graphics Design (BS in Information Technology with a concentration of Multimedia and Web Development ).

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Lately I have been receiving emails requesting to re-upload some of my stuffs (blogger templates & PSD’s) that have been deleted from the uploaded servers. So after more than a month later, here I am posting on my blog.  Anyways, it’s worth to spend afew minutes checking on my files and re-uploading those which were deleted since there are people visiting and downloading my stuffs at least ones in a while.

Note that all files uploaded by me has been checked, if you have any problems downloading my files please contact me at mfayazatlivedotcom (or just post a comment ;)
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