Learn Pixelmator Free

pixelmator

One of the multitude of things I love about Macs in general, and my retina MacBook Pro in particular, is the photo editing application, Pixelmator.  For many years I was a semi-dedicated Photoshop user.  But Photoshop is expensive, and I have a natural dislike of pay-as-you-go applications.  A few months ago, I decided to dump Photoshop and go all-in with Pixelmator.  Like any good geek, I looked around  for a series of tutorials to get me started.  Drippy Cat has an excellent series of Pixelmator tutorials, freely available on YouTube.

Here, for your and my perusal and reference, are links to Drippy Cat’s excellent Pixelmator tutorials:

Save your Photos from Yourself: The Pixelmator Tutorials 1 and 2
An Overview of Photo Enhancing : The Pixelmator Tutorials Parts 3 and 4
Balance up Your Colors :The Pixelmator Tutorials Part 5
Cure Jaundice with Hue Shift and Saturation: The Pixelmator Tutorials Part 6
What you need to know about Curves :The Pixelmator Tutorials Part 7
The Big and Beautiful Guide to Selections : The Pixelmator Tutorials Part 8
Zap Those Spots and Cure your Redeye: The Pixelmator Tutorials Part 9
Clone Those Mistakes Away: The Pixelmator Tutorials Part 10
Why Layer Masks are Fab: The Pixelmator Tutorials Part 11
Back to Black and White plus Spot Colors: The Pixelmator Tutorials Part 12
Dodge and Burn: The Pixelmator Tutorials Part 13
Why You NEED Layer Modes!: The Pixelmator Tutorials Part 14
Flawless skin – Not just for Hollywood: The Pixelmator Tutorials Part 15
Getting that old Polaroid Effect: The Pixelmator Tutorials Part 16
Best Pencil Effect Tutorial in the World Ever: The Pixelmator Tutorials Part 17

I was surprised by how powerful Pixelmator is.  It can do everything I need and more.  You can even import and open your existing Photoshop files.  In short, unless (and even if) you are a professional photographer, I see no reason whatsoever to rent Photoshop monthly, when you can buy Pixelmator for only $30.

Pixelmator also has an iPad app.

Apple and the Backwards Looking Advance

applewatch

The second biggest problem with the Apple Watch is that it’s a watch.  I get that there are a lot of people who (still) love wearing a watch.  I also get that there are people who (still) wear ties and high heels.  There are also people who still write letters.  Fifty years ago, almost everyone wore a watch and ties and high heels were the rule, not the exception.  Fast forward to 2015, and the trend line for ties, high heels and watches is not on the upswing.  Betting large on watches is a backwards looking advance by the greatest technology company in the world.

I haven’t worn a watch in close to a decade, and sadly not even Tim Cook can make me want one.  I saw some interesting stuff yesterday.  How much indispensable stuff is another question.

What I do wear is a fitness device.  I’ve worn my Fitbit (the pocket version) for over two years.  It is as integral to my day as my phone or my reading glasses.  I feel anxious on those rare but unavoidable days when I lose mine and have to wait a day for Amazon to deliver me another one.  Until now, the best hope for an Apple Watch to find its way onto my suntanned wrist was as an improved fitness device.  But, no.  The fact that you have to carry your iPhone with you to get the full benefit of the Apple Watch’s fitness tracking features is the biggest problem, and a deal-stopper for me.

macbook2015

 

And while I am bemoaning the recent Apple announcements, as opposed to my more typical reaction of counting the days to preorder some new wonderment, I’m underwhelmed by the new Macbook.  I’m not moved by the tech specs or the single port (and associated, expensive adapters to come), and I worry that it may spell the beginning of the end of the beautiful MacBook Airs.  Yes, these new laptops are light and small and lovely, but they seem like the child of an iPad and a netbook. I want something more powerful.  Like my beloved 15 inch retina MacBook Pro- the most beautiful and productive computer I’ve ever owned.

I hoped to be blown away yesterday, but I wasn’t.  I’m still all-in on the Apple train, but I worry just a little about where we are headed.

The Two Best Music Channels on YouTube

oldrecords

Back in the day, internet time- which means just a few years ago, the best thing about YouTube was the funny cat videos.  Now, by far the best of the many great things about YouTube is the multitude of great, otherwise hard to find music.  When I’m looking for a particular old or obscure song, it’s the very first place I look, almost always with success.

I’ve talked about it at least once before, but if you only subscribe to one YouTube channel, it should be Soulhawk:

All I have ever wanted to do was keep this music out there, for I’m sure there [are] still a lot of people in this world who would stumble across these old 45’s and fall in love with some of them.

Soulhawk is single-handedly preserving and making available hundreds of great songs.  Each song comes with a photo of the original 45.  Very cool.

Back in college, I bartended and DJ’ed at the local college bar.  In many ways, the late 70’s and early 80’s is an overlooked treasure trove of good music, particularly funk music.  I used to spin those wonderful 12″ extended cut records, full of 6-7 minutes of righteous funk.

Happily, FunkNation did for funk what Soulhawk is doing for early soul.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they are adding additional songs to the FunkNation channel, but what’s there is pure vinyl gold.

 

Bloodshot Eyes

Here’s a new video for Bloodshot Eyes, a song I wrote with my friend and long-time writing partner Ronnie Jeffrey.

The song started with the bridge- the Visine line, and grew from there.

The Problem with the Apple Watch

applewatch

Or, more precisely, the problem with the Apple Watch priced at five figures.  If someone buys a fancy iMac or MacBook for $2,000 and a year or two later it starts looking less than awesome when compared to newer models, that’s frustrating.  Paying $20,000 for a fancy Apple Watch and having it look less than awesome a year or two later when compared to newer models would be devastating.

Listener’s Poker, Vol. 1

Since my days of fantasy football are just fading memories and old blog posts, maybe we can play a game involving live music.  Liar’s Poker, but with sound.  Somebody pick something good, and others try to top it.  We’re talking playing, and musicianship.  Not just some studio-created and network-marketed nonsense.  Music.  Reeeeeel music.

So, to my kids and their pals who think the music they listen to is so much better the ancient stuff that often comes out of my Sonos, I say simply…

this.

Your turn.

Dictating Blog Posts on an iPad Air 2

I’m writing this blog post on my new iPad Air 2, using the WordPress iPad app and iOS 8.1’s native dictation feature.

The dictation feature is much improved. I love the way I can now see my words typed in real-time, as opposed to having to wait until I’m finished talking, click the “Done” button and wait for the iPad to process a lot of dictation at one time. I also like the way autocorrect suggests words when you tap an incorrect word. It’s still cumbersome to add links and images via the WordPress app, but blogging on a tablet is definitely getting a little easier. [Note- there was no way to search for and link to that prior post via the iPad app.  I had to save this post as a draft and add the link via my desktop computer.]

One nit I wish they would fix in the WordPress app is to add an option to insert two spaces between sentences. Like a lot of people, I learned to type that way, I think it looks better, and that’s the way I want to do it.

Photos are still hard. [Note- when you add photos via the app, it links them to the full-sized copy.  If, like me, you want no link, you have to edit the photo via the desktop, which breaks the photo embed and puts a huge, full-size photo in the post.  You have to delete it and reinsert it in the desired, unlinked size, from the desktop.]

Photos By Trail Camera

It’s getting easier to do some heavy lifting on your iPad, but we’re not quite there yet. Some of it falls on developers to take full advantage of the increased flexibility available in iOS 8. Apple needs to continue to make it easier for developers to write apps for complicated workflows and power users.