Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Free Paintshop Pro Brushes: Algae

Click to Download Algae Brushes for PSP7
This is a set of 50 algae brushes for Paintshop Pro version 7 and up.

They were created from images in the public domain and can be used in any way you wish.

The original images are some remarkable photographs taken by Anna Atkins (1799-1871) and appeared in the book Photographs of British Algae.

If you would like to see the originals, they can be found in the New York Public Library's Flickr Commons collection.

Download link can be found on my art site.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

AutoHotkey is NOT a Virus, Worm, or Trojan!

AutoHotkey I am so sick and tired of irresponsible antivirus companies unfairly flagging compiled AutoHotkey (AHK) scripts as viruses, trojans, and worms.

AutoHotkey is a free, open source scripting language, just as much as Perl, Python, Ruby, or JavaScript is a scripting language.

There is nothing wrong with the language itself, nor is there anything wrong with most scripts written in it. A lot of really awesome, useful, Windows utilities have been developed in AutoHotkey.

The language is powerful, easy to learn, enables you to write Windows utilities very quickly, and you can compile them to .exe and distribute them to others that don't have AutoHotkey installed, or you can give them the source script (.ahk) and they can run that if they do have it installed.

The problem is that there are idiots that will write malware in AHK, just as there are idiots that will write malware in any other programming language. You can't blame the language for this. And you can't blame all the developers that use the language, either.

But that is exactly what the antivirus companies are doing. They have decided that if a single person writes and compiles malware in AHK, then all compiled AHK scripts are malware. This results in tons of false positives, ruined reputations of innocent programmers, and a mistrust in AHK applications by the general public.

Developers have repeatedly contacted antivirus companies and complained, which after enough outcry from programmers and the public will result in them fixing the problem with the false positives. That is until a new version of AutoHotkey is released. Then the antivirus vendors get amnesia and forget that AutoHotkey is a language again, and flag all utilities made with it as malware, once again.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

This has been going on for a few years now and it's a viscous cycle that needs to stop.

I have written utilities that I would love to distribute to the public, with the source code, but I am afraid of putting them on my website, out of fear that my reputation will be destroyed by the stupidity of the antivirus companies.

This is unacceptable behavior on their part. Can you imagine if these antivirus companies decided to pick on another programming language and did the same thing they do to AutoHotkey? Can you imagine if every six months they decided that all applications written in C/C++ were malware? Or anything compiled with Microsoft's Visual Studio was malware? How about if they decided that all JavaScript was malware? You wouldn't be able to load most web pages or run most of your software. If they did that, those antivirus companies would all be out of business very quickly.

But that is exactly what they are doing. And AHK is the language they are picking on.

I am asking all developers and AHK users to join an organized effort to take the bull by the horns and petition the antivirus companies to stop the unfair treatment of our software.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

My Top 10 FriendFeed Friends

FriendFeed In response to Growmap's Top 10 FriendFeed Friend Challenge, I figured I'd post my list and tell a little about my FriendFeed experience and give some tips to those of you that might be new or may be a bit nervous about jumping in and friending strangers.

What exactly is FriendFeed?

Simply put, FriendFeed is a social network that aggregates your activities from other sites and networks. It's lifestreaming.

But it is much more than that. It's a great place to meet people that share your interests, share content, discover great content shared by others, keep up with news and events, engage in conversations, etc, etc, etc. It's the grand-daddy of social networking and a never ending internet content feeding frenzy.

It does not replace the social networks you are already a part of. It compliments them, making them even better.

How did I find FriendFeed?

I was introduced to FriendFeed by Chris Brogan. I was looking for a way to combine all my internet activities into a single RSS feed that my friends and readers could subscribe to. Sites like FaceBook were falling flat and not fulfilling the needs I had. I needed a service that wouldn't limit the number of blogs I could add, could handle some obscure services, and would be able to include my Backtype feed, containing comments I leave on the blogs I read. Chris assured me that FriendFeed was more than capable of doing all that I wanted, so I decided to give it a try.

How did I find people to follow?

When I came to FriendFeed, I came alone. I had no friends that used the service (that I knew about). Originally I didn't intend on using it for social networking. I just wanted to get myself together in one feed.

But curiosity got the best of me and I decided to do some exploring and see what kind of real potential the site had, beyond consolidating my activities into a single RSS feed. To do this, I had to start from scratch, finding interesting people to follow.

I decided to start by subscribing to Robert Scoble and working my way from there, following the writers of some of my favorite blogs and other people of interest. This was the same thing I did on Twitter, although I didn't find Twitter as engaging as FriendFeed. (conversations are much more difficult for me to participate in and follow on Twitter)

Who are the most interesting people I have found?

Of the almost 300 people that I have subscribed to on FriendFeed, these are the top 10 that have captured my interest the most:

  1. Rahsheen - Author of the social media blog, SheenOnline. He is always posting something interesting to to think about and discuss.
  2. Mona N. - Author of Pixel Bits, a great blog about gadgets, technology, pop culture, and Legos. She posts lots of stuff that just screams for you to comment and share your thoughts and opinions.
  3. Kol Tregaskes - Author of the Squashy Frog photography blog. He is always posting links to lots of visually appealing stuff. If you want to be a better photographer, he's the one to follow. And if you just want candy for your eyes, you won't be disappointed.
  4. RAPatton - Subscribing to this guy will bring you a real mixed bag of stuff, most of it quite interesting. If you love click adventures as much as I do, you'll really appreciate what he shares.
  5. Stupid Blogger (aka Tina) - Author of Is This Stupid?. Besides informing you of all the ridiculous stuff she comes across each day, she is also very friendly and down to earth. She is one of the few that I am subscribed to that really lets you inside her head. She makes it quite easy to get to know her as a person. If you are a nice person that has no real friends (online or off) subscribing to her will make you feel like you have at least one.
  6. Live4SoccerVacations - When you have had a bad day and need a good laugh, if you are subscribed to this guy, you won't have to look far.
  7. Cee Bee - If it's cool, unusual, amusing, or nostalgic, you'll find it here.
  8. Duncan Riley - Editor of The Inquisitr.
  9. Robert Scoble - He's Robert Scoble. Need I say more? You can not join a social network he is a member of without subscribing to him or finding him interesting. It's just not allowed.
  10. Zee - Founder of We Do Creative, he has also contributed to The Next Web, ReadWriteWeb, and The Inquisitr. As a fellow reject of the "Internet Addicts Anonymous" outreach program, he'd rather stay addicted than limit or give up his surfing habits. It's a good thing for him that he was able to find numerous ways to make his addiction profitable.

Just as important as the content this group posts and shares, is the conversations they start and contribute to. They really understand what social networks are for and they know how to do it right.

How should you find people to follow?

Now, this might not be the appropriate list for you to subscribe to, since your interests may differ from my own. The nice thing about FriendFeed is that it is different for everyone. Your Home page is not like anyone else's. It's what you make it, and you do this by subscribing to people that post the type of content you are interested in.

My suggestion to you would be to visit each of the pages of the people from my list, look over the postings they make, click some links that catch your eye, read the FriendFeed comments to their posts, then move to their "Likes & Comments" page and do the same. If you like what you see, subscribe to them so you can see more of it.

Make sure you post content, too. This is how people become interested in you. The more you post and share, the easier it will be to find others that like what you like, and more people to subscribe to. Commenting and clicking that "Like" link helps, too.

And check out the rooms that the people you follow are subscribed to. You can find interesting things and people there too.

You could even subscribe to me, if you want.

With some effort from you, you might find yourself on someone else's FriendFeed Top 10 list, some day.

WARNING:

Be really careful with FriendFeed. It is very easy to get sucked in, addicted, and totally obsessed. If you find your productivity going downhill, you will have to set some limits for yourself. Try Instant Boss and only pay attention to FriendFeed while you are on a scheduled break.