Free alternative to Photoshop

At a fraction of the size, and incomparable in cost, since it’s available for FRE, Artweaver is a pretty good alternative to a very expensive piece of software. It supports most of the features Photoshop does, like layers, plugins, brushes, a few effects and even tablet support. !t is currently in version 0.5 and is available in English and German but since it has an SDK other languages and plugins can easily be developed and added by other developers. 

You can see the list of available features and download the application (8.8MB) to try out for yourself – no complicated installation, just download, extract and try it out. If you’ve used Photoshop before you’ll feel right at home.

Windows XP SP3 Woes

If, like me, you’re still using Windows XP you may already have SP3 installed. Others of you out there might still be skeptical about installing it especially with the multitude of problems people out there have encountered.

I’ve been running Windows XP SP3 on my home and work desktop since the end of May 2008, including my work laptop since the beginning of August. All 3 systems are very stable and have been so since the completion of the service pack installation but not without a few problems.

Desktop machine at work was installed by the IT guys before I joined and the did some sort of magic to raid the two hard drives without using a RAID controller. Basically forcing Windows Server raid on a Windows XP Pro OS. This was fine for the use of the machine while it was running SP2 the 6 months prior to installing SP3. After installing SP3 however the machine blue-screened almost immediately after the install completed and a reboot was required. No matter what trick I tried to fix it (and let me tell you I just about tried everything you could find through Google) nothing worked until I gave in and reformatted the boot drive and did a clean install. Straight after doing the clean OS install I did the SP3 install and since then things have been fine.

The work laptop was also a clean XP install with SP3 straight afterwards without any problems – I’ve been using the laptop for the last 6 weeks doing development without any problems. 

My home PC had recently been rebuilt since I upgraded most of the hardware so it had a clean OS but had been running various software, networking and development tools with SP2. I thought, well lets give it a try here too – worst case scenario was that I’d need to rebuild it again. So I installed SP3 and first thing that didn’t work after the reboot was my internet connectivity. After a lot of digging and back-and-forth communication with my ISP tech support as well as Billion’s tech support I managed to fix the problem (mind you not without installing and uninstalling SP3 three times before figuring out what it was).

Somehow, somwehere, my network drivers had gotten corrupted under SP2 – but strangely with SP2 they worked fine, which led me to believe that SP3 was the culprit. Eventually I uninstalled SP3 for the third time and decided to remove all networking components from the Device Manager and reboot the machine. Of course upon reboot it re-detected the hardware again and re-applied the drivers for the newly found networking components. After a quick check that everything was working, I reinstalled SP3 for the fourth time. This time after a reboot everything worked as it should have. And a little over 3 months later the desktop machine at home is still stable.

The guys at Windows Secrets also have a few ideas and information about XP’s SP3 which you may found useful too: