Never Satisfied Mistress?

This is a good question

I was thinking out loud with my wife one laze Sunday afternoon about if it would be better if I went to a tablet and forgo another computer. This is when my wife spoke these words:”Will it be enough?”. What she was implying was two fold.  The first implication was would the tablet I was considering be powerful enough to do what I would do on a machine and the other part was would I have to keep upgrading each and every time something else came onto the market.

Initial reaction to this statement

Quite honestly it was an angry response! I think I heard my Mistress cry in my ear and that hurt the feeling enough to allow anger to initially take over. However just as quick as the rage came, it left and I was back to rational thinking. Quick to think about what got me angry and about the statement in general, I replied:”Most likely it will never be enough for what I do.”. Which is true unfortunately! I do things that require quite a bit of computer horsepower and I could get by on what is presented now however most likely I will not be able to keep going forcing me to either quit what I do or get something else.

Other parts of the equation

The other parts of the equation would be what programs have a good app equivalent that I can use to go straight to a tablet. As of this blog post, sadly the answer would have to be no. Tablet manufacturers as well as the folks who have apps (what some will call programs on a personal computer) have made quite a bunch of improvements to the functionality of these devices however to give up a computer at this time is not feasible. I would have to change too much in order to go that route.

Don’t misunderstand me here

I think that tablets are great and I would love to own another one. However with the current financials, that is not a possibility at this time. Yes I can do quite a few things with said device and yes it would be helpful however common sense has to prevail here. Don’t worry, the Mistress will punish me later for that comment. So it looks like for now I will need to start dropping the pennies in the ol’ piggy bank for a new machine.

So let this be a lesson here

If someone questions your love for technology and someone rightfully (like in this case) questions it, don’t get angry even though the feeling might be strong! Take a second to ignore the Mistress and come to rational thinking.  Then tell the individual that asked the question why you feel the way you do or explain why something is needed.  I will admit however the sultry allure of the Mistress’ voice can drive a tech geek wild and intoxicate them to do some things they may later regret!

 

The Mistress Learning Curve

Learning Curve?

Yep! You’d better believe it! This can occur in several ways but the most common ones are you choose to change something and have to get into the learning curve or you have to learn something new (for a job for example) and enter the learning curve that way.

Most folks don’t mind the whipping of the Mistress’ whip when it’s a learning curve they walk into on their own however feeling the sting of the learning curve when you have to just plain outright sucks!

Why Talk About This?

Well why not? This is my little corner of cyberspace after all isn’t it? Well mainly it’s because in my particular instance, I am having kind of both instances occurring! Come along as I explain my punishment and maybe gain a laugh or three at my expense.

OK the skinny is this, I am having to learn (much to my unhappiness) the program Photo Paint that comes with the CorelDRAW suite. Yes I still have Photoshop but I refuse to update to the cloud service based model and so far for the stuff I’ve been doing lately, Photoshop Elements has been working very well for me. There is a new version of Elements however that will have to wait until I can free up some funds. There are some things that Elements just cannot do that Photoshop and/or Photo Paint can do. So why not stick with Photoshop? I can however my version is a few version behind and my version of Photo Paint is more recent. Since I refuse at this point to do the Creative Cloud and have already paid for Photo Paint, why not learn how to use it?

So back to Photo Paint.

I will have to say this, for the long time users of Photo Paint, I’m sure that the ways the program does things is straight forward to you however since I’ve got my schooling on Adobe and GIMP, this program does some things rather “funky” IMHO. My pain here and this is where the learning curve is giving me it’s powerful sting! In order to use Photo Paint, I will have to either learn how to convert what I know over to this program OR find new ways of getting stuff done!

My only fear and the Mistress has done this on more than one occasion, force me to change again! In this case, I really am trying to get ducks in a row to get a Mac computer (personal preference) however the *insert several explicit adjectives here* people at Corel have decided NOT to create a native Mac version meaning if you wish to continue to use DRAW, you better find a way of emulating Windows in order for you to continue to use DRAW. Since I do not wish to go this route, I will be forced to use Adobe again and I will have to relearn both Photoshop and Illustrator! I will have to as well use the Creative Cloud product because the current Adobe software I have is for a PC.

I’m sure that the Mistress is looking over my shoulder and thinking; “You haven’t paid for something in a while! Well buddy get ready to pony up in both money and give yourself to the learning curve once again PEASANT!!!!”.

Is there a pleasant side to the Mistress’ whip of the Learning Curve? Depends on your point of view!

Sounds weird but I will give you a few examples here. The Mac thing. I haven’t touched a Mac in quite a few years however they have gotten much better and for what I would like to get into, they are a better fit for me than a PC. They however have a different way of getting things done than a PC does. I won’t mind learning that difference as far as OS (operating systems) go. I actually find that fun! Yes, I’m a geek!

Another example is I just started my journey down the path for the love of fighting style games mainly the older ones! I get my butt owned at every opportunity however I’m still learning and having fun. Because of my hand issues, I may have to play those with a arcade or fight stick. The Mistress will get some cash but not as much if she forces my hand the other way (PC to Mac total conversion)

As you can see by these brief examples, If you are wishing to learn something, then the learning curve is not too bad of a punishment. However if you don’t want to learn something, then well be prepared for some punishment!

Need to keep this brief…

I need to get back to the pain of learning Photo Paint. So Mistress get that ol’ whip going because it looks like I’m getting ready to get right smack into it here directly!

Learning Curve, hate it and/or love it…

Technology is an EXPENSIVE mistress!!

Should go without saying!

Yes I have to admit that technology is a great and wonderful thing! Technology allows us to do more easier and more efficiently.

However as they say, “You have to pay to play!”.

Someone like me who loves all kinds of technology, this can be expensive! Depending on what area of technology you are interested in, well it can get VERY EXPENSIVE!

As far as technology goes, I like a mixture of things. As stated on my little viewed post on cooking technology, I have gone back to the ways of our forefathers and begun cooking on cast iron. I still am looking into more efficient ways of cooking with the cast iron such as induction technology and the sort but as far as cookware is concerned, I like the older tech here. Same goes for automobiles. I like the older technology that just worked without a bunch of computers and sensors. Sure the more modern vehicles are more fuel-efficient, powerful and leave a lot less carbon footprint than their predecessors however I grew up with the older cars/trucks and that is where my love lies.

However as far as some other technologies goes such as cell phones, computers and their software, I could be considered a junkie! However being a technology junkie does hurt the ol wallet especially if you wish to keep up!

Yep! She (The Mistress of Technology) can be expensive!

Well I will give my example, I really need for what I have been doing as a hobby/paid hobby to do some computer and software upgrades in order to keep up and make my life easier and make the time I spend on projects a lot shorter. The software and hardware costs money and in this economy, it’s hard to move ahead because you have to tell yourself (and the Mistress) no I can’t do these updates now. That’s being sensible however sometimes when the ol heart is set on something, you will give in to your desires and do something that you will later regret!

Kind of like a human mistress huh?

Stop your complaining about keeping up!

I know that this might be going through your heads so I would see if I can redirect this towards you and see how you would react here. Again I do some old school tech and some new school. Most folks only do new school!

How many folks when some manufacturer of cell phones such as Samsung, LG, Apple or insert your favorite name here announce that they have a brand new model that supposedly has better features than your current phone or more power will be waiting in line at your favorite cell phone outlet to be the first one to buy this product? I know quite a bit of you would be.

How about when a new vehicle hits the market that supposedly does everything except cook your dinner and give you back rubs? Do you look at your vehicle a bit differently? Some not all of you but some will be wanting that vehicle and be hounding the dealerships to see when said vehicle can be in or can be ordered.

How about the cooks out there that see the latest and greatest gadget for the kitchen? Oooohhhh that can same me some time or reduce my costs.

See no one is immune to the Mistress!!! No one!!

No one is safe!!!

Even with me liking some of the old school things, I’m not immune to the pay to play mantra either!

I’m getting more and more pieces of cast iron cookware and these pieces do cost money! I really only need a few more pieces to complete what I need but these pieces can really put a dent in the ol wallet! So I have to accumulate these older tech pieces slowly.

Vehicles? Well the ones I really like are definitely out of my price range! Old school muscle cars and even some of the older trucks are way beyond what I could ever spend for one. Unless I find one that I can basically rebuild from scratch and can aquire the vehicle at a fairly inexpensive rate, then this will have to stay a dream.

There are some who are somewhat exempt to these rules

Yes there are some that are (seemingly) fully exempt and some that are partially exempt. I will explain below.

The partially exempt ones actually get to borrow the tech for a short amount of time to test and review it. Either the manufacture will send them the item to test or a merchant will send the item to be tested for again reviews or other kinds of testing including betas. Some of these folks might even have what I call extended trails or extended testing. Basically they can test these items for up to and sometimes over 1 yr before they have to return the item. Some of these can be something small such as a bluetooth device for a phone all the way up to a vehicle!

The fully exempt ones actually get the product to be looked at, tested or reviewed for free! I would LOVE to be in this category!!! However you will have to have some popularity in order to do this such as a well-known blogger or a vlogger on YouTube. Most John Q Public individuals will not get this chance to test like this. Yes this kind of cost can hurt some manufactures and some budget for it however the feedback they receive and if the product is good enough, the publicity they gain will make this investment well worth it!

Let’s wrap this one up shall we?

Even though I do not hate those who are either partially or fully exempt from the Mistress’ money requirements I do envy them at times.

C’mon now, who wouldn’t! Do you think that if a big name corp contacted me and said here drive our latest model vehicle for a year giving us feedback on it I would say no? Not likely! Same can be said with computers or computer software. Hey look, we’ll give you a computer or software for free as long as you test it out and give us and the public an honest review of the product. I will most likely be like “Here is my home address and send all you want!”.

However back in the land of reality, I will have to do like almost everyone else and look at reviews from others and save up for what I wish to have. Nothing wrong with it however sometimes technology junkies like myself will have to go through some withdrawal before we can satisfy our urges! Like other junkies such as drug, sex or other addictions.

Well folks that’s it for now. I’m hoping to start to get some other things going as well. Taking a bit longer than what I like for it to however I want to be satisfied on how I’m going to get it done so please be patient.

Ever Evolving Mobile Device (Cell Phone) Camera technology

WOW!!!!

It sure has been a while since I posted! Life along with the Mistress kind of had me tied up for a while! No pun intended!! While I had a few moments of peace and quiet, it made me ponder on the subject of this post. So here we are…

Modest Beginnings

As I touched on in a previous post, the mobile phone or cell phone didn’t even have cameras back in the day. They only did one thing and that was work as a telephone. Now a days I don’t even think that you can find a phone that doesn’t have a camera! The Mistress has come a long way in the photography department! Might give away my age here but I can still remember shooting with film and developing photos in a darkroom! Now a days, this can be done digitally right in the palm of your hand with your phone.

Early Phone Cameras

The early mobile device cameras were fairly simple compared to the ones we use in the here and now. Their focal range was not very good and Lord help you if you tried to take a picture in low light. The pixel noise was something to behold! Resolution was not that good either. You’d be lucky if you could get a 3×5 print off the phone. Still it allowed us to capture a moment if we didn’t have a camera with us and we got what the photo would look like instantly. Similar to a Polaroid. Still at that time, it was very cool to see technology get reduced that small even though the quality was not that awesome.

To The Here and Now

Now your retinas are bombarded with commercials talking sometimes even boasting about how good a mobile devices camera is. From how much resolution to how well it works in low light, the newer devices are a sight to behold! Their resolution has gotten a ton better allowing some users to even print portrait sized photos from pictures from their phone! Low light handling has gotten a ton better. Yes you still will have the noise in them but it is greatly reduced! The focus mechanics are getting so much better as well! This really allows everyone from the complete novice to even an expert to take some nice photos without having to lug a camera around all of the time. See a moment happening, just grab your phone and take a photo! When you couple these cameras with different software, you can even get different cameras all on one device. I will explain below!

Different Cameras from the Same Hardware?
Are you Nuts?!?

Nope not at all even though the Mistress has had me in her clutches for a while! I’ll explain this statement. For this example, I’m using the camera found in a iPhone (Android has similar things happening as well. Not sure with the Windows phone. Only dabbled with one for a very short time.). The stock application that works with the hardware to make the camera allows me to take photos, burst mode (rapid fire) photos, video, slo mo video, panorama and time-lapse for starters. That in itself is impressive and with the recent updates, I can change exposure on the fly! Pretty nice.

Now you can get apps short for applications that can change or modify how the camera works! I will give a sample of a few that I use. These may or may not exist on other brands of phones besides the iPhone. These are what I use and with a little research, you might find something similar.

Camera +

This app is actually two apps in one. It not only has more advanced features than the stock camera on the phone, it also has a darkroom app that is very cool. I love how sometimes the Mistress can reward sometimes! Back on track here, the camera part of this app will allow the user to have closer to a DSLR experience from their phone. You can adjust the exposure on the fly (similar to what the iPhone native app can do) however you can change the mode of this feature from auto in which it adjust the shutter speed and ISO automatically to where you can control both manually! You can also set one spot for the camera to meter the exposure while having another spot set for the focus! That’s cool to me!There is so much more that this can do and if you are interested to see what it can do, then please have a look at this URL http://campl.us/

Hipstamatic

This app essentially turns your modern-day device backwards in time to an old style camera. With this program, you set up a kind of film that ranges from black and white to color, from clean to grungy and with a few effects such as light leaks and tints built-in. You also will set up a lens that can set up such things as vignettes and other effects. The combination of the two will affect what the final output looks like. These folks have even gone as far as to make the interface look like some older cameras! I’m feeling all nostalgic right now! The company does also offer a free/subscription based app called Oggl which I use time to time but if you want the push the shutter and see what comes out in a minute (kind of like a Polaroid), then you want to invest in the Hipstamatic. Hipstamatic has packs which have not only different films and lenses you can use but sometime also have flash effects as well as new camera bodies you can dress up the application with. So for the ones who feel nostalgic (like me), give this app or Oggl a try. Oggl if my feeble mind recalls correctly, is available on all platforms. More information can be found here http://hipstamatic.com/classic/ and here for Oggl http://hipstamatic.com/oggl/

645 PRO

For those who are used to a DSLR and wished that you phone would behave more like one, this is the app for you! The interface looks like a high-end DSLR back and will allow the user very finite control over the devices camera including exporting out some very high-resolution TIFFs! You can change the format of the film and so much more! If you are a control freak and maybe want to score come cool points, check it out here http://jag.gr/645pro/

Pro HDR X

This app allows the camera to take HDR (High Dynamic Range) photos and creates the final results without having to use another program to complete merging of the exposures. You can allow the camera to select the spots in which it will get the exposures for or you can select them. The results can be quite impressive! After the camera has taken the multiple exposures, you can adjust the final for your specific taste. To see more about this app, please go here http://www.eyeapps.com/2014/10/13/introducing-pro-hdr-x/

Let’s Wrap This Up

As you can see by this post, we did a very small comparison from where we were to now. I also touched on how powerful the modern versions of the mobile camera can be by using some examples that I use. Again I apologize for using almost exclusively Apple apps. Again I don’t have an Android nor Windows phone anymore so I have to use what I know. I’m sure that there might be similar ones in your respective app stores. Just have a look and see.

If you thought that the apps for the camera are impressive, you should see the photo manipulation apps! That might be a topic for the next post I believe!

The Mistress handed down a butt whoopin!

The Mistress can be cruel!

As I have stated before, the MIstress can be wonderful but she can hand you a cruel wake up call and that is what happened to me about a month ago. This was one of the reasons why I haven’t been on here posting. I will keep this as brief as I can I promise!

Here’s what I get for thinking!

You’d better believe it! Here is some background. I’m an old school geek when it comes to quite a bit of things technology wise. I try to keep up but currently my financial situation doesn’t allow such to occur. The Mistress doesn’t like that. Guess she is high maintenance!

When I learned about PC’s, it was back in the DOS/Windows 3.1 days. Ahhh yes the time when you played with jumpers and different files to get your soundcard and the like to work. No plug and play or as we call it when it came out plug and pray. Life was simpler back then. So was how the computers used hard drive space. The filesystem type was FAT and you had BIOS in control over the disk. The section of code that allowed your operating system to start-up was called the Boot loader and it was a very simple code (compared to now) and it did take some knowhow but one could easily find out how to fix the issue and keep on moving.

As the years went by, technology in this advanced. To the point in which I went blind to the changes involved. Modern day systems now have UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) and it is still something that I’m still researching to understand. It basically is the upgrade to BIOS and controls not only what size of hard disk the system can use but also in part controls the boot loader.

Me still being blind to how this works didn’t do my homework and well I had some issues.

The Mistress will now punish me for my insolence!

Boy did she ever!!!! Let me explain briefly how I got myself into the mess.

First off, I still don’t understand UEFI so that really didn’t help! I’m still getting my head around it. Then I got all nostalgic.  I decided I wanted to try a distribution of Linux again. I actually ran a flavor of Linux for a few years many decades ago called SuSE now referred to as OpenSuSE. I was able to work with its bootloader and was even able to convert the system back to Windows with no issues. Because I understood the BIOS/boot loader relationship. Fast forward to the present day with UEFI in control and my lack of knowledge of it made for a HUGE mess!

The first thing that occurred is I had trouble getting the Linux distribution to work correctly. I choose Ubuntu to try. After fighting it and getting it working, I noticed that Linux has come along way since my SuSE days! Yay! Then because of the things that I have to use my computer for, I needed to put in a graphics card. The Windows side of things was tooling along with the change not even breaking a sweat. Things weren’t so rosy on the Ubuntu side. It took me FOREVER it seemed to get my Ubuntu to play nice and work again! But I was able to do it and the world was good once more.

My wife then tells me that she might need the machine to do some side work and I didn’t want her to keep rebooting the machine each time she needed to get on it, so I decided to get rid of Ubuntu.

NOW THE TROUBLE”S START!

Using Windows, I was able to quickly and effectively get rid of the Linux partitions easy enough. Thinking I was being smarter than the computer and the average bear, I wrote down a command that switched the boot loader from Windows boot loader to the one that Linux was using called GRUB. Then I had to reboot….OH S***!

The machine was now stuck inside of GRUB’s emergency boot environment which would have been OK except that there was NO KERNEL for it to load so I could not get the system to restart back into Windows!

Great!

Here starts the looking at my phone and researching how to get myself out of the mess! I tried and retried several methods that I found on the internet trying desperately to get rid of GRUB and get Windows to replace it with its bootloader. The troubles got worse and worse! Following directions, the problems over the next few days got worse and worse til finally I was able to get rid of GRUB however, now I was facing the dreaded No Operating System Detected message.

Wonderful!

Getting more desperate, I kept on working with the system. Well it finally came that I was defeated. I’ve tried all free resources and needed to find a paid solution to the issue. Maybe the Mistress might at least soothe my behind from the butt whoopin she administered if I shelled out some cash.

She did.

The Mistress lends me a helping hand

Reaching the end of the free rope, I started to research any method that can get the machine to boot back up. Searching a few forums, I found that a user used a disk from a company called NeoSmart Technologies to solve his woes. Looking at their site, I saw a demo on how their software worked. They have different recovery software disc images for different Windows versions so I broke out the plastic and ordered the image. Burned it to a disc and put it into my machine. Got my machine to boot from the DVD drive and waited.

I started to see all sorts of code fly by. I was thinking “Oh NO!” really! Linux was going to help me here. But it wasn’t Linux, it was FreeBSD. I was really feeling skeptical now but still was hoping. After what seemed like an eternity, the system showed me a graphical interface. Nice! However I still wanted to recover my boot loader or whatever was wrong with the poor hard drive now. A moment more, the choices popped up for what do I want to do. I selected the choice and the partition that had my Windows in it and prayed.  I allowed the program to do all the checks.

Then the message popped up for me to reboot. Well here is where the rubber meets the road.

Reboot.  LO AND BEHOLD, I SAW WINDOWS BOOTING UP FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ABOUT 9 DAYS!!!!

Went in and change any setting back to the way they were before the dual-boot odyssey and rebooted again. JOY TO THE WORLD THE THING BOOTED UP AGAIN!!!

I can tell you this, I don’t care what they used on that disk, it was able to get my system to restart!

Tail between my legs

That was an eye opener! I now need to research and FULLY UNDERSTAND how UEFI works before doing something like this again. I learned a lesson from all of this.

Don’t walk away from this thinking that Linux is evil or anything like that. I was the idiot that didn’t keep up with the flow of technology and because of it, I had to learn the very hard way.

I guess what I was trying to show in this blog post is if you don’t quite understand the technology you are about to mess with, then you might want to leave it well enough alone and research it before making any drastic changes. I know that I will have some “light” reading for a while on this subject. UEFI and the new Windows boot loader.

That might cure my insomnia!

Free or Paid software is the question.

That’s a interesting question isn’t it!

That is a interesting question and it has a non-clear answer too! I will explain that dodgy sounding answer coming up here in a bit. Right now however, I just wish to say this. I have seen both versions of software (Paid and Free) get better and better. I’ve also seen both get worse and worse.

Some people think that one is better than the other. They might be correct however it doesn’t mean that it is the correct answer for you. There are several factors that can sway the obtaining and usage of the software question for you. Now we start to get ready to help answer the question.

Why pick one over another?

There might be several reasons one might pick paid over free and vice versa. So here we start down this path and maybe this can help you decide what is best for what you need it for.

Familiarity because you use it at work or other previous experience. This here seems to be a big one especially when it comes to trying to change a office who is used to using brand x of the software to brand y. If you want to be productive immediately, you will need to have chosen a software package that you are familiar with. However the money question might slow that down quite a bit.

Money (purchasing) factors. This is one that can really make a decision for most people here. The cost of the software. Some may have the extra bread lying around to spend on the exact same software that they use at their office place but others do not. Now since some software companies do have a (possibly) lower cost solution in the form of subscriptions. These software subscriptions allow users to use the higher priced software for a monthly fee. These users also have their software updated to the next version for free is the subscription is kept current. However if you don’t pay the subscription fees, the software will cease to function. Please keep that in mind.

TCO Total Cost of Ownership. Whether you work for a business or you do your own thing, this does apply to everyone from casual user to a business user. One needs to actually sit down and look at TCO. This is where it can be a make or break for the software choice. One part of this is again the initial cost. Can you as a individual or business take the initial cost hit? Now armed with that answer, answer this one. Will it be easy for me or my employees to learn and use? How fast can they switch from one software to another? Why did I bring this up? Simple…It is the question of training!

For a home user, we really don’t think about it. We can learn from a variety of sources from places such as Lynda.com to YouTube and learn a new software from these resources. However this is true with people who work in a business environment however while they are glued to a screen or to a professional tutor in a class, they are being paid to sit there and learn. Paid for what is sometime referred to as NPW or Non Productive Work. This can be a good thing or a bad one depending on the companies bottom line and several other factors. Good companies try to keep the productive output high but keep their employees trained as well. Seems like things keep going back to money doesn’t it?

User/Company needs

What does your company need the software for? What specifically does the software need to do in order for you or your company to continue rolling along? This answer like most of the others is not so cut and dry. Depending on your needs and where the future might take you will depend on which one you may need to choose no matter what payment model the program uses. I can give a quick example below. This is not comprehensive at all but is here to hopefully illustrate a point.

Home user doing personal projects using photos. Mainly print pictures at kiosks and at home. Low budget and does not use any software in the workplace.

This individual seems like they are not perusing any kind of business venture nor are they going to share files with any business such as a commercial printer. This instantly tells me that their requirements are very low. IPHO (In My Personal Humble Opinion) they will not need anything as expensive as Photoshop or any software costing over $200. This kind of individual can use free software such as GIMP and Picasa to name a few. Some lower costing paid software that they can use would be things like Photoshop Elelemts and Corel Paint Shop Pro. They will most likely get what they wish to get done with a very low TCO. They obtain the software, choose a learning method (again paid or free) and then use said software for their purposes. In this case, the TCO will vary but should be within the range of most home users.

Home user who also uses software in a production environment is familiar with software.

The only real TCO factors here for this kind of individual is going to be the software acquisition and making sure that his home computer has the necessary components to use the software. They are already trained on the software so that isn’t a issue. This kind of person might need to bring something home from work and finish it to meet a deadline. In this case since the work files need to be at maximum compatibility, then it would be wise for this person to get the same thing they use at work.

Small company uses software for internal use only. Does only use outside sources to get work completed. Most things done in house. Few employees.

Here in this case, it will depend on operating budget and how fast the individuals working at this company will need to get proficient with the software. If the operational budget is shifted towards training only, then some of the free versions of software maybe a good option. Since the actual program is free but you are using the budget to get your workers up to speed on how to use the software, the TCO of that software will be in the training. Also since the work for this company will be only used for final output of something non-digital such as printed pages, manufactured goods or anything tangible, the free software saving formats are not a issue. However if they change the business model to include taking files for processing, they will have to be very careful what files they can use. This can get into a can of worms on it’s own. I’m trying to make this somewhat simple.

Here is some examples that I was asked to evaluate for people

I need to get some software so my little Johnny can type up a school report or two and the wife and I might need it to maybe do budgets and letters. What do you recommend?

My first questions were: Are you familiar with Microsoft Office and what does the purchasing budget look like? The responses were that they weren’t familiar with Office and they were needing something as cheap as possible. Other question were: Are you going to exchange the files the software creates and if so how often? Again the answers were that they really don’t exchange files and will mainly be used for family use and printing documents. My answers were OpenOffice now called Apache OpenOffice or LibreOffice. Both of these software packages will do what they want, very low cost (FREE) and they could either ask me for help or head onto the web and YouTube and see how to use the software. Simple requirements, simple needs, very low TCO with selected software equaled one happy individual.

I need a program or programs for my upcoming graphic based business. I will need to be able to output my files to certain machines and again the money question was a concern since they dropped the money on equipment and not on software.

Ooohhh that is a bit dangerous. I actually puckered up and shivered here. However the questions had to be asked. How often will you need to use customers files? What kind of a budget was I looking at here? Was the owner of the business familiar with using any graphics design software and which ones and were there going to be any employees that needed training?

What came next frightened me more. This person will sometimes need to use customer files but not all the time since the files were mainly used for the production machines in house. The budget was like non-existent, He was not familiar with ANY software and he said that he might be hiring down the road.

Here is what I recommended to this person. I haven’t spoke to them in a while and don’t know what he choose to do. I wish him the best of luck. I suggested for raster files (picture files) that he downloads and installs GIMP and for the vector file part of the equation I suggested Inkscape. Both are pretty powerful and free. Both will work with his existing machinery but the training factor might just come around and cost him greatly! He can absorb some of the cost being the only employee however training others to work for him with software that isn’t “industry standard” might make it a bit rough. This can be done and it has been done but planning needs to be the key word here!

Wow this got kind of long didn’t it? Let’s wrap this up shall we?

Well as you may have read up above, there are quite a few things to consider when trying to answer the question of free or paid software. Someone might have thought, can I do both if the money will allow? Use both paid and free software? Short answer is yes! I do it all the time actually. Just be careful however that some programs have different methods of solving the same problem and the programs will have different abilities and drawbacks. If you can learn those, you will be in great shape! Whatever you choose, just ensure that it will fit into your or your business needs.

Well y’all I’m off to bring out the inner caveman in me. Yep going to go play with some old school technology now. The natural wood charcoal grill!

Cooking Technology and My Regression with it.

What the…

I know that is what some would be saying by the title of this post. What is he talking about? Cooking Technology!?! Yes believe it or not, there is a science to how our food is prepared. Science has evolved how we get our daily grub fix on from making it faster and more convenient to more energy efficient. Technology has affected our lives in this regard as well. In this post, I hope to very briefly touch on the basic history of cooking and how technology has evolved to make our lives a bit easier in this matter. I will also show how and why I’m kind of backsliding on technology. I hope that my mistress (technology) don’t find out! Sssshhhhh!!!!!

The cooking history basics

I’m not discussing the technology that we used to kill or gather our food, I’m mainly touching on the actual food prep technology here. That topic might be addressed later on.

Well in the very beginning, there was really no cooking. We gathered or hunted. Once we killed our prey and as primitive and gross as it sounds, it was consumed raw! Definitely not the best way but it did allow the evolution of food preparation technology to start. The first advance was fire! Oh yes the magical thing that kept our ancestors warm and provided light found it’s way to cooking their food. Whether it was on the embers or on a spit above the fire, we evolved up the process to cook on a open fire. Again primitive but it was a step up from eating raw meat!

Moving along a throughout the years, we invented ways to cook with fire but with more controllable results. Inventions like grills, cookware, ovens and stoves that used fire as their heat source made food prep easier still. We were now able to more easily and creatively able to combine what we hunted and gathered together to form recipes! Not only now can we sustain ourselves but we can have a tastier way of doing so. This old school method of cooking with wood fire still exists today. It is a art that I’m seeing revived somewhat but still that mistress tempted us with more advances that can be argued to be cleaner easier to use and has really up the game again.

The technology that I’m describing is electricity and gas such as natural or propane. This technology to cooking has made it easy for the masses and is readily available. These two are the most common way of food prep today! We still use cookware, grills and other inventions from the past however their method and construction has varied throughout the years.

Stove tops, ovens, ranges and grills can and do use these newer technologies to cook food. They can have better and more efficient heat control and again readily accessible. We also invented different types of cookware that helps us prepare food with the new technology and made them lighter and easier to care for. Since electricity became wide spread and safer to use, we invented smaller and more compact ways to prepare our foods. Some of the things that we have used in some form or another are crock pots, electric skillets and woks, deep fry devices, toasters, counter top ovens and microwaves to name a few.

I know that this was a very abbreviated history of food preparation technology but it was used to kind of prove a point. Cooking technology has come a very long way and still evolves today as I’m typing this. Technology is wonderful right?

OK but why are you regressing?

Well before everyone thinks that I’m a hypocrite, let’s lay out a few ground rules OK?

First is that I use modern technology all the time. I use some of the modern day “cooking marvels” that some might argue don’t work but for me, they work amazingly! These items are

  • Ninja 3 in 1 cooking system (I LOVE THIS THING!)
  • Pizzaz pizza cooker
  • Pasta Boat Pasta Cooker
  • Microwave Rice cooker

Other modern technology I use everyday is the electric range/oven and microwave.

Are you confused yet on why I might be backtracking? Well hang on folks I’m about to reveal what exactly I’m starting my backtracking on and why. The two things I’m backtracking on is cooking method and cookware. I’m going back to the old ways. Cooking with fire and cast iron cookware.

What the!?! WHY!!!!

Well simply put, I like the flavour that cooking with open flame puts on my foods. Some might disagree with this but we can agree to disagree here. I also live in a area in which rough storms especially in the summer can knock out power. With fire, I can still keep on cooking. The same could be said if you have a gas grill or gas appliances. If you’re using electricity and have a generator you’re set but what if you don’t have a generator? Unless you have a good neighbour that has some form of a more primitive method of cooking (gas or fire), you might be eating cold food.

I’m also getting back into camping and because of the versatility of the cookware, I can still eat good while away from home. Mind you this stuff is heavy as heck but I was thinking about maybe getting some sort of camper to haul said cookware in Since I won’t know what all the camper might have as far as cooking technologies(because we haven’t got one yet), I can have my cookware and some all wood charcoal, all natural lump charcoal or some sort of wood that came from either a fruit or nut tree, I will be set.

Now onto the cookware. I’m chose cast iron for several reasons. It’s proven technology that has worked throughout the years. People have used this cookware to fry, sauté, bake and do just about every kind of cooking method there is. With this cookware, I can use it with any existing technology methods of heating up the cookware. I can also use it with fire and coals. Some modern cookware can do this but I will go with what is tried and true.

There are some disadvantages of cast iron. Unless you upkeep the “seasoning” of the pan, it can rust so maintenance can be a issue. These things are heavier then traditional cookware! Quite a bit heavier. Need some exercise, cook a complete supper with nothing but cast iron cookware. You get to cook and lift weights at the same time. Cast iron does take a little longer to heat up. If you are in a hurry, then cast iron cooking may not be for you.Here are the advantages. Cast iron can be used with any form of heat. From fire/coals to electric stoves and ranges. This cookware will retain heat very well! You will most of the time need pot holders or some other form of heat protection when working with cast iron. Once properly seasoned and with proper cooking techniques, this cookware will be just as non-stick as most of the modern cookware. I’ve personally cooked eggs and cornbread in my cast iron cookware and it was very non-stick and easy to clean. If the seasoning comes off, you can completely re season the cookware! Try that with your Teflon non-stick pan. With proper care, cast iron will last generations!

The cookware that you can get made from cast iron is very diverse. From various sizes of skillets, pots, “indoor” Dutch oven, enamelled pots, grills, griddles and the “campers” Dutch oven (this is the one with the feet and raised lip on the lid). I personally need to only obtain two of the listed pieces and they are a grill/griddle combination and a campers Dutch oven.

I have the others in one form or another and everyday they keep getting better because of use and also my ability to use them. This form of cookware is a bit different so if you do wish to try using cast iron, please be patient and take the time to learn how this cookware works with heat!

Almost done!

I guess what I’m trying to get at here is that I’m a hybrid as far as cooking is concerned. My interest really peaked when I got for my anniversary present a smoke box for my grill so I can smoke up some goodies. This is when it really hit me that I can do most everything with the old school ways especially if I can get the “campers” Dutch oven. I can bake then! If i can’t get it, I can supposedly hack my existing indoor one to use outdoors. I may have to try that and see how it goes. Unless I all of a sudden become a hermit in a cave somewhere, I still will use modern day cooking devices as well.

If my mistress finds out that I’m not using the latest and greatest, I might just get hit over the head with said cast iron skillet. She doesn’t like when I don’t keep up with technology.

Until the next time I post, y’all have a good un!