Monday, November 14, 2016

Free apps are fine with me


I'm not sure whether it's a blessing or a curse, but there are more apps out there than you can shake a stick at. I'm not just talking about apps you can put on your smartphone or tablet. I'm referring to all applications in general. If you're anything like me, you probably have a handful of apps you enjoy and work well for you. You may even be like me in the sense that it's easy to get distracted with the latest version, or a competitor's version, of an app you like. Chances are also pretty good that you don't really enjoy spending a lot of money for new or upgraded apps. 

I like to take that a step further by saying I don't like paying for apps at all. (No. I am not referring to piracy.) Working in the IT industry, I completely understand the necessity to pay for line of business applications and the utmost importance of keeping them up to date. Don't tell any of my clients, but I am the opposite in my personal life. Of course, my personal life doesn't have the success of a business and my clients' businesses riding on the state of my own technology. 

The only thing I dislike more than having to pay for apps in the first place is having to buy a subscription to an app rather than buying a single license outright. Ever since Microsoft started the greatest con of all time by coming out with the subscription-based Office 365, many other companies are jumping on the bandwagon. Many of them are also starting to only have cloud-based versions of their software. (That's also great way to enforce their mandatory subscription model, but that's a topic for another day.) 

The latest company to irk me with this is Adobe. I had been a huge fan of Adobe Photoshop for many years. Now that they have switched to a subscription-only model, I am fairly certain I will never buy one of their products again....at least not for my own personal use. I guess I should clarify that I had pretty much come to this conclusion before their subscription model, but it really helped seal the deal for me.

When I decided I should upgrade my Adobe Photoshop a couple years ago, I just couldn't justify the cost. That's when I discovered Paint.net as a free image editing application. 

paint.net
Paint.net has a very simple and easy to use interface and and it's a few steps ahead of the stock Paint program you get with Windows. My photo editing needs aren't all that crazy, but I haven't found a feature missing that I wish was there...except one. 

Staying in the mindset that I like free stuff, I use free Linux operating systems on my home computer. Paint.net does not (easily) work with Linux. I am told it has something to do with the fact that it uses the Windows .NET framework. I may be in the IT industry, but I'm not one of the technicians. Long story short, I had to find something else. 

I started out using Gimp as it was a cross platform application that I could use on both my Linux and Windows systems. Truth be told though, I wasn't impressed with it. It opens as multiple floating windows and didn't prove to be super easy to learn how to use it effectively. I'm sure it's a fine option for many, but I wanted something closer to the simplified and clean layout I enjoyed with paint.net. That's when I stumbled upon Pinta

pinta
Pinta is almost a carbon copy of paint.net. Just like Gimp, it is a cross platform app that can be used on Linux, Windows and Mac. After having used Pinta for over a year now, there is only one feature I have found to be missing from Pinta that I used quite a bit on paint.net. For some reason, there is not a function to allow you to turn the image by only a few degrees. It only allows for image and text rotation in 90 degree increments. 

I know that probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but I was surprised to learn just how often I want to rotate text or an overlaid image by just a few degrees. Since that's not really worth complaining about, I just found other work-arounds to get me by. The nice thing with open-source software is that the feature will probably be added if I hold my breath long enough. (Or maybe if more people made app improvement suggestions.) 

So, for those of you debating whether or not to start an Adobe subscription so you can manipulate your images, I'd recommend test driving one of the above free image editing apps first. Then again, you might be looking for more advanced editing capabilities and features. If that's the case though, you probably stopped reading this a few paragraphs ago. 

Enjoy the free stuff when you can. There's always something else you can spend your money on. At least that's what I keep finding. Anyone with kids can attest to that. Until next time....


PS- The image at the top was created in about 5 minutes using Pinta. It's not my best work, but it was free and quick. (OK, maybe 8 minutes, but a few minutes were spent trolling Jeremy's profile to steal a photo of him that I could manipulate to put him in the driver's seat.)