Here I am commemorating the second year anniversary of the creation of my website and my triumph over the struggles of learning to write code. It's all so easy now. But you have to realize, and this is an important point, that I grew up in the age of electric, or worse, manual typewriters, and I never really did learn how to type. It was the age of those big bulky televisions with the tubes, black and white only, of course, and before the days of UHF. Up until the nineties I was still on a party telephone line. I was in my late forties before I got my first give-away computer. (The computer I have now was built from spare parts my neighbor had lying around.) Keeping up to date on the latest technology is not even remotely important in my life.
I guess that's what makes my website all the more precious to me. I am doing things with it that I never would have imagined I could do ten years ago. But don't misunderstand. I know there are tons of people out there that make my site look like a kindergartener's finger painting. But that's quite OK. I love my site better than theirs. It is truly a labor of love.
I spent the first year filling it up with book reviews to read and coloring art to enjoy. I shared my knowledge of farming and really a vast knowledge in many different areas in which I excel from years of studying and pursuing my numerous interests. I share all this for free online, to promote literacy and the arts and an awakening consciousness sweeping across the planet. It is my contribution to the online community.
This past year, I have concentrated more on organizing the materials I have reviewed. The Cross-Reference/ Resource Index page has grown considerably and will continue to grow, although the "Genres, Styles" section is pretty much complete, unless I find I suddenly have a number of books that call out for a new category. As of this writing, I only have four more pages in the "Ethnic" section to complete, although down the line there may be a couple more in that one, too. At this point I only have a few more pending pages for the "Eras, Art Movements" section, so I've really progressed considerably in my attempt to make my site user-friendly and organized. I still have quite a few more entries in the"By Subject" category, and the "Authors, People" list has far to go. If you still haven't checked out these pages, please do. They are my pride and joy, and my greatest accomplishment in code writing. Many of these pages took from eight hours to several days to write. It's time consuming, no matter how proficient you become and I can write code pretty darn fast. While I have become comfortable with it, even when I'm challenging myself to do something new, I've found that it's one of the few things I can do that is so absorbing, I become oblivious to my surroundings and the passage of time.
Anyways, the next essential step I've decided to take is to get more serious about my images and graphics. I really haven't had anything but a rudimentary image editing program, plus the one that comes with the Dover CD-ROMs, which has some nice features but is missing important ones. The biggest frustration for me is that I have had no way to remove the white area around many of the images found on the CD-ROMs. I've tried to use this creatively and incorporate the white area as part of the image, for instance by framing it with a border. But the point finally arrived when I refused to deal with this shortcoming. It happened with Renard's Fanciful Fish, which I just bought from Dover, specifically for the creation of the index page for Aquatic Plants and Animals. There was no way I would have my fish swimming around in little white boxes.
I have had the website for GIMP on my favorites bar for over two years—actually since before I unveiled my site to the world. But I kept putting off downloading it, perhaps because I knew I would spend too much time playing on it, or more likely, become obsessed with it as I was in learning code. In case you don't know, GIMP means GNU Image Manipulation Program. A free, totally free, sort-of-Photoshop. Can it do all Photoshop does? No, but Photoshop better have lots more features to justify their price. GIMP does quite a bit, though, and it is perfect for me at the stage of the game in which I find myself now.
And yes, oohh, I've had so much fun playing with it. And yes, I did figure out how to remove the white backgrounds from Renard's Fanciful Fish. Many of the features I am already familiar with from Dover's program, especially the filters, which are very cool to play with. GIMP has SO many more possibilities and I look forward to exploring and experimenting. But I am also limiting my daily work with it, or I could get out of hand, you know.
It is good to realize there are people out there who, like me, offer something to people online free of charge, especially in an era when most people expect to turn a profit for every little thing they do. GNU stands for GNU's Not Unix! and was developed by Richard Stallman at MIT, the purpose being to develop a software operating system which would be totally free to computer users. It was begun in 1983. In 1984, Stallman quit his job at the lab so "they could not claim ownership or interfere with distributing GNU components as free software." Read more at the link above.
So, in any case, you will begin to see improvements, VERY gradually in the images and graphics of my site. GIMP has a vast array of tutorials, and I plan to work, slowly, with each one until I have it mastered. Hell, I'm still excited about the fish, but it really doesn't take much with me.
Anyone can download GIMP onto their computer. With Windows, you must have XP, Service Pack 3 or later. (Yes, I am still using XP. . . .)_Just go to GIMP.org to download it free.
If all goes as planned, I will soon have another advance in technology to share with you. Meanwhile, here is a fish without a white background for you to enjoy.
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