Get Ashampoo Photo Commander for half off

Few photo editors can fulfill most users' needs. Editing software is often either too limited even for beginners or an overwhelming set of tools that would intimidate most pros. Ashampoo rises above the rest by offering something for everyone in one convenient application. Get this highly rated universal toolkit for half off the regular price -- at only $24.99.

If Paint.Net and Adobe Lightroom created a product, it would aspire to be as cool as Photo Commander. With Ashampoo, you'll be able to edit, add effects, perform automated fixes, and share all of your photos and images … Read more

Review: Edit, draw, retouch, resize, and much more with good ol' GIMP

GIMP began life in the 1990s as the GNU Image Manipulation Program, and the free, open-source image editing tool has evolved in both complexity and ease of use alongside the personal computer, itself. The latest version, GIMP 2.8, maintains the program's legacy as a powerful and up-to-date, yet totally free image editor. GIMP is modular in appearance and structure and accepts all kinds of plug-ins and tools. It's a paint and drawing tool, a photo retoucher, and a batch processing and conversion tool, all in one, with sophisticated features like layers, filters, and effects. You can script … Read more

Amateur effort finds new largest prime number

The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) project has scored its 14th consecutive victory, discovering the largest prime number so far.

The number, 2 to the power of 57,885,161 minus 1, is a digit that's 17,425,170 digits long. That's big enough that if you want to see the full text, you'll have to brace yourself for a 22.5MB download.

GIMPS, a cooperative project splitting the search across thousands of independent computers, announced the find yesterday after it had been confirmed by other checks. At present, there are 98,980 people and 574 … Read more

Take image editing on the go with GIMP Portable

GIMP is a well-known open-source image editor that is renown for its powerful features. GIMP Portable is a version of this program that can be taken on the go via installation on removable devices. Although for serious users GIMP likely will not knock Photoshop off the throne, but it's still a great option for anyone who's looking for a freeware alternative that offers a full complement of photo-editing tools.

GIMP Portable's interface will be familiar to anyone who's used Photoshop or similar image-editing programs; the image is placed in the center, with a toolbar down the … Read more

Three free Picnik alternatives

Google announced that it is shutting down its photo-editing service, Picnik, much to the dismay of many Picnik users.

Once Picnik closes its doors for good on April 19, Picnik users will be forced to seek out alternative photo-editing tools. There's always the popular free desktop tools like Paint.NET or GIMP, but true alternatives to Picnik are Web-based editors. Here are a few of them to consider:

Photoshop Express Adobe's Photoshop Express has all the basic editing tools like crop, resize, red-eye, as well as more advanced editing features like fill light, sharpen, and exposure. It also … Read more

Minor updates for Songbird, GIMP

Freeware favorites Songbird and the GIMP updated in the waning days of 2009, offering mostly minor changes that fans of those programs will appreciate.

Songbird updated to version 1.4.3 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The new version can rip music from audio CDs directly into the main Songbird library and introduces a new default feather, called Purple Rain. Feathers are Songbird-speak for skins or themes. Although an add-on is still required, the latest version also supports several Mass Storage Class portable device syncing.

Originally, the update was to v1.4.1, but two late "feather"-related … Read more

Fashion a Windows multimedia suite for cheap

A recent review of Corel Digital Studio 2010 got me close and personal with the consumer-oriented multimedia suite. Corel's studio excelled at providing a consistent, unified look, navigation, and toolset across its applications for editing photos and videos, making movies, burning content, and playing videos. It also copies photos, videos, and music to your mobile device, and can create photo projects like photo books and cards.

All good stuff, but it doesn't come cheap. Multimedia suites like this will put you out about $100. They're worth the price if you frequently use the tools, or if you vastly prefer the convenience and accessibility of a consumer-friendly setup. However, if you don't mind being scrappy, you can cobble together a spread of multimedia tools--your own "suite"--for next to nothing.

Edit and create

Photo editing, video editing, and making movies are the three largest focal points of multimedia suites like Corel Digital Studio 2010 and Roxio Creator 2010 (unfortunately, no download trial is available for the latter). Google's Picasa is one of my favorite freeware tools for casual users, and one of the closest direct matches to what's offered in a multimedia suite. Its uses are multifarious: organizing your photos and videos into albums, editing images and videos, sharing online, creating projects like collages and movies, and ordering prints.

The image-editing tools are serviceable, with red-eye removal, one-click lighting fixes, cropping and straightening, and finer tools for addressing blemishes and lighting. There are also 12 effects, like sepia tones and soft focus. This contrasts with Picasa's low-grade video editor, which can at least rotate videos and trim them. The movie maker has many more controls, but is basic; it doesn't build in the polished templates of a premium program. Picasa does, however, offer to sell you prints from a choice of providers (choice is good), and can help create a collage.

For standalone photo editing, the freeware applications FastStone Image Viewer, IrfanView, Paint.NET, and GIMP range in features from the accessible to the powerful. Read more about them in this resource guide.

Vista and Windows 7 users can try out Microsft's new Windows Live Movie Maker (review), freeware that can slap photos and video clips into a new movie in seconds. Deeper controls let you tweak transitions, captions, and effects after the automation. Editing tools include splitting, trimming, and applying fade points. As a point of comparison, video editors in these consumer-focused multimedia suites are better-equipped, perhaps with audio-tuning tools and features to adjust video lighting.

Creating calendars and photo books are a DIY project within your reach if you have an excellent photo printer and a home bookbinding kit. Otherwise, you can spend your energy on the editing and captioning and get a project printed somewhere else. Retail shops, like FedEx Office in the U.S., will print projects. Online photo albums and services like Shutterfly, Snapfish, and Zazzle will also gladly accept your business. The 12-month calendars run from $15 to $20; large photo books are often in the mid-$30 range (online services often charge for shipping). Corel Digital Studio is similarly priced.… Read more

Have Mac, will open-source

Some in the open-source camp would have you believe that open source is an all-or-nothing proposition. For such people, to believe that Linux makes for a superior server operating system is also to dedicate oneself to using open source for business applications, personal productivity, mobile, and likely brushing one's teeth. Open source on a proprietary platform like Mac OS X? Perish the thought!

But life is more complicated than that, and it turns out that there is exceptional open-source software for the Mac (or for Windows, for that matter).

The H Online has kicked off a nice "Open Source Stars for Mac OS X&… Read more

GIMP adds tools, tweaks UI, integrates GEGL

Several major changes have been implemented in the latest upgrade to the open-source freeware called The GNU Image Manipulation Program. Known as The GIMP, these changes include some midlevel user interface adjustments and improvements to several tools. Version 2.6.0 is also the first release that attempts to integrate GEGL, a graph-based image processing framework that allows for non-destructive image editing.

The GEGL integration is mostly a back-end change with a tentative implementation. In other words, the bugs are not necessarily all worked out. As such, it is not turned on as a default. You can use it in … Read more

Featured Freeware: Scribus

Despite occasional oddities and a distinct lack of polish, Scribus offers up an open-source freeware desktop publisher robust with a full complement of useful features. Available for Windows, in a portable edition, and for Macs, too, they compare very favorably against more expensive competition.

The detailed Web site includes a wealth of documentation, tutorials, and notes on everything from installation problems to drawing a grid to creating a text frame. As with other similar open-source apps like Blender, the online resources for Scribus are nothing less than invaluable. The interface doesn't sing, but it does hit all the right … Read more