GIMP 2.8.2: A Free Photoshop for Graphic Editing

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GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)

The recent release of Photoshop CS6 continues Adobe’s reign at the top of editing/design software. There is no question that Photoshop is the best image editing software program, but GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is an application designers can take advantage of — without spending a penny. The latest build — GIMP (or GimpShop) 2.8.2 is the powerful Photoshop look alike that is underrated by most graphic editing software designers. Over 17 years of international collaboration and development have created the open source program (developed by volunteers). The leading-edge advanced graphic tools compete with Adobe Photoshop in terms of professional high-end photography and image manipulation.

GIMP vs. Photoshop

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What sets GIMP apart? It’s price. Free. Yep. Free.  The Adobe Photoshop price tag, with all of its bells and whistles, comes standard at $699. For $700 you can hold the most powerful image manipulation software. You can also hold the most powerful image manipulation software…for free. Other features, in relation to Photoshop, are similar (if not exact) in design. The file compatibility of each program is the same, boasting a broad range of file choices. Most importantly, each program is comparable world-class leading, image quality. The point of difference, if not already established with the price, is reflected by the ease of use. The GIMP help library and tutorial section have been rated higher (easier to learn) than complex Photoshop tutorials. Without a doubt, professional image editing designers, without a budget, have the ability to operate Adobe’s class-leading, high-priced, closed-source programs. For the rest of us? GIMP provides a FREE, equivalent to image editing with identical photo manipulation at our fingertips.

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GIMP Product Features

The ability to restore, touch up/manipulate photos, generate complex animations, or using GIMP to substitute former “paint” programs — rivals Photoshop features, with the $700 price exception. Some of GIMP 2.8.2 features include:

  • Professional photo enhancing and restoration tools to effortlessly repair image flaws. Red-eye removal, background/foreground replacement, and unwanted imperfections all within reach.
  • State-of-the-art tool settings permit customization of your workspace, providing complete management over Photoshop-grade tools, brushes and plugins.
  • The Channel Mixer allows for precise optimization of black & white photos, converting colors to a limitless spectrum of black & white tones.
  • Importing/Exporting images via a wide range of file formats include: TIFF, PNG, GIF, JPEG incorporating advanced multi-resolution, multi-depth Windows files as well.
  • The recently expanded brush dynamics engine provides designers with unmatched control and flexibility in image manipulation.

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This application is advanced in terms of graphic design and I recommend playing around with it (that’s how I learned). But for users who need the Help Files, you can download them here in English.

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Available for multiple operating softwares, you have no excuse not to download your FREE copy of GIMP 2.8.2 today.

Download for Windows

Download for Mac OS X

“…One of the most powerful general-purpose image editors around, the upgrades make the GNU Image Manipulation Program eminently comparable to Photoshop…The application provides professional tools that can stand against the big boys without the hefty price tag…Extremely powerful and easy to work with, GIMP is ideal for both amateur and pro photographers, Web designers, or anyone who wants to create and edit professional-quality digital images on a budget.”

Alfred: Improve Launching Apps and Search Optimization

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Quite possibly the most used productivity app I’ve used, the application launcher, Alfred, makes my life as a Mac user increasingly manageable.  A direct substitute for the default Finder application, Alfred is a keyboard-driven productivity application, assisting users in launching … Continue reading

Desktop Tweetin’ Made Easier: TweetDeck 2.0 Update

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A few weeks back my post Simplifying Social Media: Applications to Maximize Efficiency introduced TweetDeck as the premier desktop client to supercharge your Twitter use. This week Twitter delivered its update to the TweetDeck application, providing a wide range of new capabilities.  Version 2.0 is predicted to signal the end of the short-lived default desktop Twitter App for Mountain Lion (10.8) users. Now running on Web, Google Chrome, Mac and Windows, TweetDeck 2.0 continues to maximize your social media efficiency.  Updated design enhancements, frequently-requested features and personalization options highlight Version 2.0’s updates.
Check out the Mac TweetDeck 2.0 Download (available in App Store)

What’s New?

Theme Choice

The Classic Black theme has improved, becoming darker and clearer. A new Light option gives a clean white look with dark text. Theme’s can be switched back and forth with one click at the top of the application.

Light theme

Theme switch

 Font Choice

Requests to change the font size have been answered, as you can now select from small-large (13-15pt) sizes.

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TweetDeck Updates

 Improvements Dating Back to December 2011

  • Increased navigation efficiency (new column navigation), track-pad scrolling (easier column reordering)
  • List management – Now you can create, edit and delete lists directly in the app
    • Two new columns of Activity and Interactions to see additional activity
    • New Media previews to view images/videos faster with large preview displayed in gallery view
    • New Edit/RT view to replace the “RT @username” format
  • New profile design with headers and following indication
Summary
Profile design
ActivityAvailable App Store

“Wunderfull” Organization and Task Management with Wunderlist

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Wunderlist iconIf you’re like me…let me re-phrase that. If you’re like the 99% of this generation  who has trouble keeping up with tasks, remembering homework due dates and time management in general, you will want to pay attention. Instead of blaming your self-diagnosed ADD, maybe it’s time you checked out Wunderlist, the multi-platform, FREE, and easy-to-use task manager; developed by 6Wunderkinder.

Organization via Wunderlist is my personal recommendation to anyone out there struggling to keep track of all the little things life throws at us. The utilities of Wunderlist are simple and self-explanatory and can be used for any part of your life that needs a little structure. Shopping lists, class projects, to-do lists, due dates and personal tasks are all at your fingertips; literally with multi-platform availability.

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For me, the best quality many new applications possess is the ability to synchronize across multiple devices.  What good is a task list that stays on your Mac, but can’t be taken anywhere? Providing ultimate organization, Wunderlist has synchronization capabilities with Mac, Windows, Linux, iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone devices. And if you forgot you’re smart phone or handheld device you can even open up your personal Wunderlist via any web-browser. Unlimited interactivity allows users to share your tasks/lists by email or the application itself. For all you college students that means an easier way to give mom and dad your grocery list, because Chef-Boyardee just isn’t cuttin’ it anymore.

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Organization has never seemed so easy. Lists filled by importance and task date can be set to receive notifications as well. Adding notes to tasks allows for more detailed content. Collaboration between friends and family is vital in today’s growing social marketplace. The ability to share between Facebook, Twitter and personal email to whoever you want, whenever you want can come in handy. For experienced Mac OS X users, Wunderlist capabilities can be synced straight to the Cloud with a single click. Synchronization overkill would be a good way to put it, but when it comes to  important tasks, you can never be TOO careful. Users who are struggling to keep up with synchronization, clouds and technology in general, can always just print their list.

Sort2    Share Wunderlist

 Sort    Print your lists

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What’s the best part of Wunderlist? One word. Free. Yep. Free. If you’ve finished reading this and you haven’t downloaded Wunderlist yet, there may be something wrong. Take advantage of possibly the most powerful, most productive, most efficient app you can find here at The MacMentor. Download Wunderlist today.

Available App Store

Dashboard Confessional: Stress-Free Widgets

Here’s a topic you may be familiar with, Mac’s revolutionary Dashboard function. First introduced in the Tiger OS X, the Dashboard is basically a playground for mini-applications, also known as widgets.  For everyday processes, heavy-duty applications may be necessary, but for smaller tasks the Dashboard provides a unique jungle for a wide range of widgets.

If you’ve never discovered the Dashboard, don’t be worried, its usage isn’t imperative to Mac use, but its advantages can help your productivity, manage system settings and stay up-to-date on breaking news. The default Dashboard key is the F4 function (four keys to the right of esc) and can also be located in your applications menu. For the more advanced Lion/Mountain Lion OS X users, swiping up with three fingers opens the Mission Control to the Dashboard.

Dashboard Widget Control

Your Mac OS X comes standard with default widgets, often running parallel to their parent applications.  The Stickies application, Address Book and iCal, for example, all feature simplified dashboard widgets that always remain open to allow for a quick sneak-peak instead of opening the full program.

The App Store provides a great resource for downloading widgets straight to your Dashboard. Because widgets are small processes, they don’t pose any threat or sacrifice to hard drive space when downloading. If you aren’t satisfied with your download, Apple makes the removal of widgets just as easy.

Those comfortable with HTML, CSS and JavaScript even have the option of creating their own widgets to perform individualized tasks.

Customizing Your Dashboard Space

Once you have a collection of widgets to work with, customizing the Dashboard has literally limitless possibilities.  The ability to add any combination of widgets and their locations makes each Dashboard unique to its user. For example, my Dashboard includes:

The WordPress Widget – A bloggers right-hand in up-to-date news on WordPress

The MacJobs Widget – Search for web, design and creative IT jobs from the Dashboard

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 The iStat Pro – Monitor all aspects of your Mac (CPU, memory, disks, network, battery, temperatures, load and uptime and processes)

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As well as a Dictionary, Calculator, CSS Cheat Sheet, PHP Cheat Sheet, my Keyboard Shortcuts, an Image Converter, Album Artwork Helper and an Apple Download Menu.  As you can see the possibilities are endless, directed at the individual user and their needs.

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Performing functions that would be tedious or complicated to access manually, the Dashboard and its widgets live up to the saying, “Big Things Come In Small Packages.”

Taking Advantage of The App Store

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Spending 90% of my application-browsing energies on the Internet, I sometimes find myself unappreciative of one of Apple’s default applications, The Mac App Store. Popular between numerous Mac-product interfaces, The App Store allows users to download thousands of apps, all within one central location.  Users of the new OS X Mountain Lion take advantage of having The App Store built into their Mac, whereas users previous to 10.8 (Mountain Lion) had to use The App Store online or through their iTunes.

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The main advantage I find in using The App Store is its ability to specialize in Mac-only applications. Browsing for applications online often becomes tricky when users have to distinguish between what products they can download.  Because many products are specifically engineered for Windows Operating System, unable to work on Macs, downloading apps is a difficult task. The Mac App Store makes it easy to find and download Mac apps, without the Windows application clutter.
Browsing through applications is easy with the category feature, allowing users to distinguish between: Apple Apps, Productivity Apps, Lifestyle Apps, Games, Finance Apps and Music Apps. With each category separating further into Featured, Purchased and Free Apps; users have the ability to pick out programs that best suit their needs AND their wallets.

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For those of you who remain skeptic about downloading applications on your MacBook, The App Store allows for a simple solution to grabbing your favorite program.  Unlike applications that involve clicking through multiple-step pages and unzipping folders, The App Store provides a one step download process, transferring apps immediately to the Launchpad. Maximizing efficiency, The App Store allows Mac users the ability to spend more time with their new apps and less time installing them.

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Once downloaded, The App Store provides the unique ability (unlike applications download from your browser; manually updating) to automatically update your apps, with notifications appearing in the Mac header.  Default applications such as iPhoto, iTunes and Safari are also automatically updated through The App Store.  Including your all-important OSX Software updates, App Store updates can be done individually or all at once.

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Keep yourself updated, and in-tuned with all that Apple has to offer. The Mac App Store is right under your nose and ready to expand your Mac usage with thousands of apps, and one simple way to get them.
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Simplifying Social Media: Applications to Maximize Efficiency

It’s no surprise that social media continues to dominate the majority of our computer usage habits. When we log on, our first action is usually to open up the browser and go down the line of our social media priorities.  Irregardless of the task at hand, no matter how important it may be, the distraction of social media applications is a “necessary evil” that won’t change any time soon. We know staying updated has little benefit to our daily priorities but one factor that does have an impact on our schedule is time. If you are an avid user of social media applications (99%) here are a few helpful suggestions to help you surf efficiently and maximize navigation techniques.

Facebook32x32   Twitter32x32   Wordpress32x32

At the very least, using your browser for social media is adequate with the use of Bookmarks.  Rather than manually typing in each application URL in the navigation bar (i.e. www.facebook.com) use a bookmark to quickly take you to the homepage, without touching the keyboard. For most browsers the “Bookmarks” tab is located in the Mac navigation bar at the top of the screen. Simply “Add to Bookmarks” giving each website a personalized label. Create bookmark folders to organize categories or I suggest adding websites you use often to the Bookmark Tab (instead of hidden Bookmark Menu).

If you want to take your MacBook skills to the next level, maximizing efficiency even more, here are a few applications that can redefine the way you post, tweet, blog and surf.

Socialite by Realmacsoftware

This friendly, desktop interface provides a simple solution to integrate your Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Reddit, RSS and Google Reader. Developed by Apparent Software, Socialite allows users to post statuses and tweets, sync photos and feeds; in the most efficient manner.

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Download Socialite Free

TweetDeck

Similar to Socialite, TweetDeck provides power users the ability to maximize Twitter-specific operations, in addition to Facebook and Google interactions.  Arranging feeds into columns (lists, tweets, mentions, etc.) gives a filtered, manageable view of all your Twitter interactions, without browsing through different pages. The ability to schedule tweets provides a unique opportunity to reach an audience away from the keyboard. Staying up to date has never seemed so easy with the social world on your desktop.

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Download TweetDeck Free

MarsEdit

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Blogging has never been this easy, free from browser influence, with MarsEdit developed by Red Sweater. Browser blogging is ideal for reading blog updates but remains clumsy and inefficient while writing posts. Offline editing also provides the advantage of productivity without internet access. MarsEdit provides a desktop interface for multiple blogging platforms, including: WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr. Uploading files and integrating media, through MarsEdit, is miles above browser blogging as well.

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Download MarsEdit Free

The MacMentor Pilot-Post

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Riddle me this. Dating back to the purchase date of your MacBook, how much do you think you have fully taken advantage of its capabilities? Many Mac users are comparable to “fragile” sports-car owners. You  know, that rich old guy who never takes his Ferrari out of first gear? The horsepower, torque, and potential underutilized by this “residential rover” is a great way to characterize usage habits of MacBook owners, everywhere. The potential is, literally, at your fingertips; behind the wheel of a machine that can red-line at 2.5 GHz. While exploring your MacBook, I challenge you to shift up from first and discover the seemingly endless benefits. For those of you who have opened a total of four applications and still continue to use Safari (which is a personal pet peeve), I will provide step-by-step instructions to make MacBook efficiency as easy as possible.

On a daily basis, I observe classmates struggling to find files, cluttered with unknown desktop icons, while cursing the complexity of an operating software that is designed to simplify these processes.  Post-by-post I will break down these problems, providing applications to assist you, in addition to advanced information for applications you already have.

To the readers who think they have it all figured out, I will include a few curveballs to spice up your Mac-Life. Remember: you can always learn something new.  I don’t claim to be a product manual with all the secrets and am certainly open to discovering new secrets, so take the same approach.

Being that this is the Pilot-Post, why don’t we start out with something fun to re-design your desktop. Today’s featured app is CandyBar (v.3.3).  CandyBar gives you the ability to customize icons in your Dock, and application icons on your desktop.  Developed by Panic and Iconfactory, CandyBar allows you to create smart lists to drag/drop icons, transforming your desktop into a unique expression of character.  The ability to download icon collections allows for symmetry and a conversation-starter when noticed.

This type of application would usually run on the expensive side with its ability to organize large collections of custom icons for Mac.  Here’s The MacMentor’s SECRET: due to a minute developer flaw within the Mountain Lion OS X 10.8 MacBooks (new MacBook purchased July-Present, or with operating system upgrade) the developers have made CandyBar v.3.3 FREE with the following serial number: PPQA-YAMA-E3KP-VHXG-B6AL-L.  Take advantage of this application before they start asking for money again!

I will provide a more in depth look at CandyBar features in the near future but I will leave you with a few of my icon collections.