Ira Wilsker's archive

It has been about three years since Microsoft released its very popular Windows 7, intended both as a full release product and as an upgrade for the problem-prone and controversial Windows Vista. Now, Microsoft has simultaneously released a free “Microsoft Windows 8 Release Preview,” as well as a nominally priced Windows 8 upgrade offer for anyone purchasing a new Windows 7 PC, as of June 2.

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About two years ago, I upgraded my traditional cell phone to a (then) state-of-the-art Nokia smartphone running the latest version of the Symbian operating system. With that smartphone I had 3G Internet speeds, could read my e-mail, watch YouTube videos, browse Web sites and download any of the hundreds of Symbian apps then available.

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In recent days, I attended another college graduation, completing my 35th year as a college faculty member. For many, an appropriate college education is a key to personal success, while many others may benefit from other forms of education.

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I have long been a proponent of free software. Much of the free software available is often as good, if not superior to, its commercial competitors. Many of the free software products are written by altruistic individuals in order to solve a particular problem or to fill a specific niche, while many others are free versions of commercial software where the publisher hopes that the users will be so satisfied with the free version that they willfully upgrade to the paid version, which often offers additional features.

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There are many excellent and free image editors available that are fully capable of performing most simple image editing tasks. My personal favorite simple image editor is the free IrfanView (irfanview.com) capable of the common imaging editing tasks such as cropping, removing red-eye, and performing color corrections and related enhancements. But you need to do much more than simple photo editing, such as producing creative enhancements and other artistic effects.

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