Ready to make the jump from crayons to Photoshop? No need to panic -- the internet is packed with resources to guide you through your first steps in the world of professional image and photo editing. TastyTuts' comprehensive 33-video tutorial is as good as it gets and comes complete with extensive course notes and other useful content.
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Whether you're the person others always turn to for tech support or you'd like to learn how to really use sites like Facebook, Netflix, Spotify, and YouTube but don't just want to fumble around, Techboomers is a new service that has well-paced, guided lessons to each of those sites and their best features. Plus, it's all free.
Last year we pointed you in the direction of a cheat sheet for Git, the robust, yet somewhat intimidating version control system that has many uses outside of software projects. If you're still not comfortable giving it a try, there are a number of online resources that allow you to get your hands dirty without even touching a real command line.
Vim is one of our favourite text editors, but there's a steep learning curve because it only uses keyboard commands -- no mouse. VIM Adventures will teach you Vim shortcuts in a very enjoyable way: Playing an old school Zelda-like puzzle game.
One of the best ways to learn a new trick in Photoshop is to grab a tutorial that catches your eye and dive right in. VunkySearch offers just that kind of eye-pleasing, pick-up learning. Users can comb through VunkySearch using keywords or simply hit the randomize button to see dozens of tutorials from different sites thumbnailed on the main page. Clicking on a thumbnail pulls up a larger sample, and the lesson can be browsed in a lightbox-style window on VunkySearch or you can go to the site directly. The tutorial-in-a-window setup is surprisingly smooth, getting you back to the tutorial gallery quickly if you need a different perspective. For some more interesting Photoshop tutorials to increase your photo-editing-fu, check out how to spice up your pictures with lighting effects and creating photorealistic reflections. If you have a favourite site for finding awesome Photoshop tutorials, share it in the comments!Vunky Search
The Web is filled with great learning resources, ranging from YouTube clips to forum posts to helpful sites, but having to endlessly hunt through Google results doesn't always lead to a very structured educational experience. Australian start-up site Clivir aims to fill the gap by providing a system for creating structured lessons referencing existing content and your own expertise, and incorporating a social-network-style feedback and comments system. The content is a little sparse right now, but there's some useful suggestions for new iPhone owners and working with your camera flash, for instance. It would also be a useful way of creating a study group around a particular topic. Clivir is free to use, requires registration.
Interested in getting good with Photoshop but know nothing about the popular photo editing software? Weblog Elite By Design puts together a crash course for mastering Photoshop in one week that might be a good place to start.
The Digital Photography School blog has an instructive tutorial on using layers for those just getting their feet wet inside Photoshop, or other high-end image editors like the open-source GIMP. Those jumping in will learn how to make transparent layers, use masked layers to roll back effects, and duplicate layers for sharpening and other effects. Hit the link for a quick schooling, including links to related lessons, or offer up your own tutorials and advice in the comments.Understanding Layers in Photoshop
If you've ever suffered from seeing a great photo sullied by red eye, reflective skin, or other blemishes, Wired's How-To Wiki is offering an assist. The guide provides specific steps one should take with image editing tools to fix distracting imperfections or backgrounds, and while the instructions are written from a Photoshop user's perspective, users of the free, open-source GIMP editor can follow along by finding the (usually identical) tools called for. Hit the link for a lesson, or contribute your own revisionist tips at the wiki. Photo by Noel Zia Lee.Touch Up Your Pics
Whether trying to win bidders on eBay or attract eyeballs on a tutorial or craft site, the best way to stand out is with an attractive, detail-showing picture. Photography tutorial site Photojojo offers a wealth of tips for your camera, your staging, and other things to keep in mind while trying to represent your goods. Two bits of advice many commerce-minded shooters should heed:For small items such as jewelry, you can use more interesting backgrounds. Gemmafactrix uses vintage books and industrial surfaces to show off her jewelry on Etsy, and it works great. Wood, paper, cloth and metal can all add a little something to your images. For tutorials and larger items like clothing, you'll have to pull back to get everything in the shot. Make sure the rest of your studio/ apartment/ mobile command unit isn't visible in the shot. Set up by a blank wall and use it as a backdrop.
An intrepid user at the Ubuntu Forums has detailed the installation and setup of BlueProximity, a free Linux app that turns a Bluetooth phone into a proximity-based security device for your computer. Yes, that's exactly how it sounds: Your laptop locks itself down when you step a certain distance away, and opens again once you're in range. Certainly useful in coffee shop and book store situations, but not a bad idea in a house with curious little fingers around, either. This kind of measure is more utility than security device, and the instructions require serious attention (forgetting to undo one step could hose your system), but it's a nice privacy feature and seriously cool tweak at the same time.Howto: Use BlueProximity and your cellphone for security
Now that Leopard's long since dropped and the masses have seen the simple power of Time Machine, it might be a good time to take another look at similar solutions for other systems. Luckily, the Howto Forge has posted a helpful step-by-step through installing and configuring TimeVault, an integrated backup solution for Ubuntu and Debian-based Linux distributions. The tutorial walks through the process on an Ubuntu system, but would likely help other GNOME-based systems get most of the way there. If you're more the DIY, terminal-hacking type, you can always use cross-platform solution rsync to get the job done.Creating Snapshot Backups Of Your Desktop With Timevault On Ubuntu 7.10
The Linux community is known for its do-it-yourself ethic and extensive support forums, but sometimes a single voice with solid advice fits the bill. Over at homelinux.org, one kind soul has posted an extensive collection of free Linux-related PDF ebooks, covering topics ranging from installation and dual-booting to specific distribution tweaks and programming guides. The owner has instituted a 10-downloads-per-day quota, but the books are meaty enough to make that a non-problem. You could also consider donating a few dollars to the site if you find yourself downloading, say, the 1,400+ page Linux Bible and coming back for more.Free Linux eBooks
Little appreciated outside the world of academia, there are literally thousands of .edu (AU - or edu.au, of course) sites bursting with incredibly useful and interesting information and resources. Most of these sites won't pop up to the surface of the average search engine quest, and so they wait, neglected and underused...until now. Keep reading for a quick tour through the mysterious underground world of .edu.