Alternatives to Microsoft

Here's where to post all those technical queries and problems which aren't Internet-related.

Postby ruggie » Mon 21 Feb 2005 13:53

Is it really that close in usage to Photoshop? I tried to add a stroke to some lettering and couldn't manage to find it (I'm quite comfortable with Photoshop).

I'm still in the early stages of learning to use Photoshop to clean and enhance photographic images. The Gimp appears to use the same concepts most of the time. I haven't really learned Photoshop's decorative and text capabilities - but unfortunately that seems to be what most of the Gimp fora concentrate on.
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Postby Savannah_Alan » Mon 21 Feb 2005 16:06

OK, maybe I'll give Gimp another look when I get time.
I'm still batting backwards and forwards between Photoshop and Macromedia Fireworks. I've studied photoshop a lot over the years and used it extensively, but somehow I still end up back in Fireworks - it's just so much nicer for web stuff I feel.

I've now made the decision to stop using photoshop just because I feel that I should. I'll use it when I really need to. That really just means for touching up photographs (I've been using it this weekend to rescue and archive some of my wife's family photos from the turn of the century - last century).

Other than that, I'm not going to fight it any more. Fireworks just does everything for web design easily, intuitively and while maintaining editability and has superior vector graphics capability.

If only it were available for Linux.

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Postby Martin Pickering » Sat 12 Mar 2005 19:52

I use both Mac OS X and Windows XP Professional. I think the main differences are:

X - built on UNIX so it's very stable. Fewer security issues.
XP - More choice of software, particularly games.

It's now what the marketing types call a 'mature market' so there are fewer real differences. It's more to do with style and image now.

Peter Forster


I've used Macs since 1987 so I'm pretty well "dyed in the wool". My sons use XP but, although their Pentium 2.4GHz feels a little faster than my G4 1.4GHz Mac, I find it a little "clunky" to use. It's not as intuitive and the graphics are less refined.

The worst thing about all the Windows PCs that I've used recently is the darn spyware and pop-ups that plague Internet Explorer. With "Firefox" offering a simple cure, I can't understand why people plod on with I.E. and Outlook Express.

I agree that Macs have far less games than Windows (but more are appearing on the market every week) and generally run them more slowly but I have to ask - why would anyone want games on a computer used for business?

And with Windows having such big security loopholes, why would anyone use Windows for business?* The only software I can think of that doesn't have a direct equivalent (often better) for Mac is "Sage" accounting software. Thankfully, I'm not an accountant.

*You can't quote "cost" as being a reason for using Windows for business. The "cost of ownership" of a Mac is the same or lower over 3 years and, as most Macs get replaced every 5 years (compared with 3 years for PCs) the real cost is probably lower. Macs cost more to buy new but are more reliable.

I tend to buy my Macs second hand. They will then last at least 5 years, requiring only a memory battery and hard drive during that time. Total maintenance cost around £50.

The biggest penalty in changing to a Mac is the software cost. Microsoft Office will set you back around £300 and you'll probably have to invest in a new scanner and printer because you'll want Firewire versions. But I'm sure the same comment applies if I were to switch to Windows. Unless I relied on pirate software, I'd have to buy new programmes.

BTW if you do decide to buy a Mac, please plan to use it in tandem with the PC for at least a year. The switch will be much easier if you make the learning curve shallow.

The Mac Mini looks like a good buy at first, until you count the cost of a new keyboard, mouse, monitor, scanner, printer....
(C'mon, there's no way you want to use that clunky PC keyboard with a beautiful Mac Mini!)

My vote goes to the Apple Mac G4/400 (or faster version) these "old" units can be snapped up used from £300 including keyboard, mouse, monitor and software. And you'll be amazed what you can do with them. Yes, OK, PhotoShop rendering will be noticeably slower compared with the latest P4 Pentium but just try "surfing the net" without worrying about pop-ups, viruses, trojans and spyware.

Jeez, you got me going there. Good job nobody mentioned my other favourite topic - smoking! ;)
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Postby Savannah_Alan » Fri 18 Mar 2005 15:47

Dave, how are you doing with the move to Linux?

After quite a few different distros, I'm currently using Fedora Core 3, which I'm really impressed with. It was the only one that recognised my printer, it seems very stable, plays nicely on the Windows network and is the first one that worked on my laptop with the WEP encryption I have enabled on the wireless portion of the network.

It must be significant, I have changed the boot loader to default to Linux now, rather than default to Windows. :)

I haven't heard so I'm guessing you went back to Windows?

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Postby Dave » Fri 18 Mar 2005 16:22

I'm still in transition, Alan. Unfortunately setting up a Samba share for the website's main files has proved more tricky than I thought (I only have a small window of opportunity to work on it in the mornings, before Kay gets up :twisted: ) so when I'm working I have to log on with Windows if I'm going to get access to the files. And I've still to transfer my emails over from my Thunderbird client in Windows to my Evolution client in Linux.

Not long to go now, though. I hope.
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Postby Dave » Sat 19 Mar 2005 05:02

Progress!

I got up extra-specially early this morning and had a really good go at setting up the network properly. The upshot is that I can now see Kay's one and only FAT32 drive (all the rest of her partitions are NTFS, so no good for Samba) and she can access a folder I've set up for her on mine.

I'm now wondering what the best way is of going about editing BE's page files - but since I do most of my coding in text and the site is now largely managed online anyway, that shouldn't be much of a problem in practice.

I'm not altogether convinced that Evolution is the email client I want to use either. It's nice for the extra bits and pieces it's got, but against that it doesn't have the same adaptive junk mail filters that Thunderbird has. So I may well stick with T-bird.
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Postby Savannah_Alan » Sat 19 Mar 2005 05:22

Well done Dave :D A couple of things:

all the rest of her partitions are NTFS, so no good for Samba

Now, I'm extremely green at Linux, but I'm sure samba can see NTFS drives - well I know it can as I've been transferring files to and from my Windows 2003 server all day today (working in Linux and saving the files to the server).
My server is definitely NTFS with active directory and samba can see the files (I haven't had the courage to actually join the domain yet :? ).

I'm now wondering what the best way is of going about editing BE's page files

Yes, there's the rub. I'm wondering now just how well I can do without my beloved Dreamweaver and fireworks. I've been working on a site today using various editors and have finally settled on Screem as being the best for me. It's not WYSIWYG, but as I've been scripting in PHP (yes, I've even gone over to that camp now :lol: ), it's been fine.

On the subject of PHP/MySQL as opposed to ASP/SQL Server: As a hard core ASP coder since it first came out I was extremely pleased to find that PHP is by an order of magnitude simpler than ASP.
For someone with experience of other languages (especially C++ and even Javascript), it is really a shallow learning curve. I like the simplicity of it and was productive in about 10 minutes!

it doesn't have the same adaptive junk mail filters that Thunderbird has.

Are you sure about that? I installed Thunderbird on my Windows machine, but didn't like the way that all the accounts are kept separate. I have about 15 active e-mail addresses that I must monitor and that is a pain if I have to check different folders. Evolution puts all your mail in the same folder. It appeared to me that Evolution had exactly the same junk mail filtering as Thunderbird. It has the identical "Junk/Not Junk" buttons on the toolbar. I stand to be corrected on this if Thunderbird is better in this respect though.

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Postby Dave » Fri 25 Mar 2005 16:36

Savannah_Alan wrote:I'm sure samba can see NTFS drives - well I know it can


Hmm, looks as if I was misinformed somewhere along the line. I'm sure I read something that said a FAT32 drive was needed. Maybe an earlier version of Samba couldn't read NTFS. If Samba 3 can, so much the better. :)

I'm wondering now just how well I can do without my beloved Dreamweaver and fireworks. I've been working on a site today using various editors and have finally settled on Screem as being the best for me.


I tried downloading Bluefish the other day (which is WYSIWYG). Unfortunately I ran into problems installing it as there were various packages which I apparently didn't have installed. So I'm doing my editing text-only in gedit (which highlights code quite nicely, so no problem there).

I suspect that somewhere along the line I've made a mistake installing packages - I wasn't familiar with the concept - and as a result there are things which are present but which aren't in the right place as far as RPM's concerned. Unless I can shift things around and get it right (and I have no idea how long that might take) I'm tempted to put it down to experience and do a clean reinstall.

Having said that, I'm using FC2, which seems to be a bit on the buggy side (there are countless postings on various fora to that effect). I might have a look round to see if I can find FC3 on CD-ROM anywhere round here, but otherwise I'll slog on - no doubt it'll be a rich and rewarding learning experience :wink: .

I'm enjoying it, though - I do find that things tend not to hang anything like as often as they seem to in Windows. And yes, I too have changed my default boot to Linux now!

Evolution puts all your mail in the same folder.


One of the reasons I don't like Evolution! I like to keep my identities separate - one account for the work-related stuff, another for the personal.

It appeared to me that Evolution had exactly the same junk mail filtering as Thunderbird. It has the identical "Junk/Not Junk" buttons on the toolbar. I stand to be corrected on this if Thunderbird is better in this respect though.


I've not found that anywhere on my version of Evolution (1.4). Although Thunderbird's not perfect (I've only just discovered how to get all accounts to download automatically) I find it easier to work with, so I think I'll be going back to it at least for the time being.
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Postby Savannah_Alan » Sat 26 Mar 2005 01:29

Yes, I'd try Fedora core 3. I love it!
Funnily enough, I've been AWOL all day because I managed to zap my install of it in the early hours of this morning.
When I was first playing around with linux, I only set aside a 5 Gig partition from my 60 Gig workstation drive for Linux.
Now, I've come to love Linux so much, I found I needed the extra space so I had to "bite the bullet" and attempt to resize the partitions.
Well, of course the upshot was that I toasted the MBR, but was able to recover my windows partition. I decided to just go for a fresh install of linux (now on a 25 Gig parition with 1 Gig swap (windows needs the lion's share, of course) :roll: )

Anyhoo, I'm back up and running now.

I suspect that somewhere along the line I've made a mistake installing packages

I'm finding that yum is working very well (don't bother to use the up2date thingy). Yum seems to deal with all the dependencies very well.

As far as the html/web editor goes - I had an epiphany last night.
There are only one or two programs that I really would have a problem doing without (mostly Dreamweaver and my beloved Fireworks). I was just wondering how I could really do without them when it dawned on me that VNC works fine on linux and I've got my windows server running 24/7 10 feet away from me! So, what I'm going to do is to load my crucial windows programs on the server and when I need them, just vnc into the server from Linux and run them from there 8) . All the files are on the server anyway!

I might have a look round to see if I can find FC3 on CD-ROM anywhere round here, but otherwise I'll slog on - no doubt it'll be a rich and rewarding learning experience Wink

Can't you download the FC3 iso's? It is a 4 disk set, but you could probably get away with a minimal (they call it personal computer) install using the first 2 disks and using yum to get the rest as and when you need it.
If you can't get them there, I'll burn you a set and send them over.

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Postby Dave » Sun 27 Mar 2005 03:59

In principle I could download the ISOs, but since our connection's metered it's not really a valid option in practice.

I'm reasonably confident I should be able to find the CDs somewhere round here. If not, though, I might just take you up on your offer - thanks! :D
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Postby Dave » Mon 18 Jul 2005 19:49

Time to resurrect this thread, methinks...

At about the time we first started planning our temporary move over to the UK, we heard that a pal of ours from another forum had a Mac G3 he wanted to sell cheap (£150). So we took him up on it as a cheap way of getting onto Macs. (Kay's used them in the past; I never had.)

So far, so good. I'm using it now to type this (it's taken us this long to try to set up a shared connection through a laptop PC running Windows Me - mistake :evil: - then give up and buy an ADSL router instead). It's taking a bit of getting used to do things differently, but it's not so different that you can't work out how to do things. For info, it's running OS8.6. And it's got a lovely big 21" (yes, 21 inch) monitor.

My only criticism so far is the keyboard (sorry, Martin); it requires considerably more finger strength than any PC keyboard I've ever used. Great if you're planning to take up the piano professionally, but it's slowed me down quite a bit as I backtrack to fill in all the missing letters! (I don't like the transposition of the @ and " keys either.)
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Postby Savannah_Alan » Mon 18 Jul 2005 20:12

Apple recently saved me some money. I was considering trying a Mac until I recently heard that with OSX they have stopped providing an English version. Instead, they have elected to provide an "International English" version which - surprise, surprise - is American.

I know Microsoft have always displayed this cultural imperialism, but Apple used to take care of us English speaking people. As they've now given my language the one finger salute, that's what I'll give their overpriced hardware/software.

BTW. I'm currently running Fedora Core 4 Linux. I love it and it speaks English! In full colour.

Image

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Postby Savannah_Alan » Mon 18 Jul 2005 20:34

DrDaveHPP wrote:(I don't like the transposition of the @ and " keys either.)


You must have an American keyboard then Dave. After 3 years here, I finally gave in and changed to an American keyboard. 2 years later I still look for the double quotes above the number 2 key :roll: .

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Postby Kay » Mon 18 Jul 2005 22:02

I had an American keyboard in Thailand. I didn't mind the transposition of the @ and " so much, but not having a £ sign drove me mental. We've already bought a new British keyboard for me to take back with us. Dave had the sense to take his British one from India to Thailand. I left mine behind in India saying I'd be happy to have a new one when we got to Thailand. :roll:
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Postby Dave » Mon 18 Jul 2005 22:06

Savannah_Alan wrote:You must have an American keyboard then Dave.


It seems like it, except Shift+3 gives a pound sign (£) rather than a hash. Some kind of weird hybrid... Oh well, I'll persevere, since I have to. But Kay's posting gives you some idea of my attitude towards these things.

I was considering trying a Mac until I recently heard that with OSX they have stopped providing an English version. Instead, they have elected to provide an "International English" version which - surprise, surprise - is American.


Disappointing. I wouldn't necessarily let that put me off altogether, if there were positive benefits to using a Mac rather than a PC (eg the much-vaunted image processing abilities). But it's one more reason to go for Linux rather than one of the commercial OSes.
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