Nifty art tools in the cloud

Do you often find yourself away from your workstation, deprived of access to CS5, or even GIMP, but with a burning need to edit some images, stat? Then you need to check out the tool suite at Aviary. I stumbled upon these guys when I was looking for a browser plugin to do some screen clipping. They have a product called Talon that does screen clipping well with easy access to cropping and annotating. Exploring further I was playing with some of their other tools and produced this picture from a Windows sample picture by applying a color filter using their Effects Editor. The filters offered didn’t have anything I thought particularly unique but they did cover all the ones you’ll need most of the time. The nifty thing about the bitmap editing tools though was a graph based user interface. You can drag and drop image resources and filters onto a canvas and wire them up. This is different from the stacked filters UI paradigm I’m used to and I thought it was pretty cool. I commend their UI designer for thinking outside the box of established paradigms for this kind of functionality. I’d have to spend more time with it to become proficient but I liked the approach. It definitely wasn’t a flop as departures from well established UI paradigms so often are.

Martian landscape.egg  on Aviary

They also have a vector editor, color palette creation tool, and even a multi-track audio editor. It’s all Flash-based and seems pretty well thought out. Your work can be stored in their cloud and even published directly from there. They may not be fully professional tools, mostly because large file operations are one of the worst candidates for cloud computing, but they can color me impressed. Sorry. I had to.

Go check them out. It’s nifty stuff, and you can’t beat free.

Constellation Cancelled?

Orion crew capsule

Unfortunately, due to the horribly managed Federal budget the Constellation program is on the chopping block. President Obama, in an effort to decrease costs by refocusing NASA and trimming fat, has proposed cutting the entire Constellation program but appears now to have been talked down to just the crew launch vehicle, Ares I. This sounds horrible but I’m not sure it’s the death knell for manned space exploration that it sounds.

Continue reading

The Label “Atheist”

Throughout this blog I will probably use the term “atheist” quite a lot. This is because everyone knows what it means, generally, and is therefor a useful term for discussion. I have pretty strong objections to it as a label for a group of people though. I don’t self-identify as an “atheist”, for example. For the same reason that I don’t label myself as a non-bigfoot-believer. It is utterly insufficient as a descriptive term for a human being. Since no human believes in all of the gods that have ever been invented by man every human is an atheist to some degree or another. I am myself only fractionally more atheist than Pat Robertson, for example. Also, since one has to be taught religious beliefs and isn’t born with them every human starts their life as an atheist. Continue reading

Netiquette Reference

While looking for a netiquette guide with which to reprimand an ALL CAPS comment poster I ran across this guide for children. It’s a pretty good guide for adults as well. It also points out a great technique that I haven’t had to think about yet because my children are too young. It suggests making your kids use fabricated profiles while online to thwart predators. I’m going to have to remember that for when they’re older. Maybe we can have some fun making up their profiles together.