What I love about Christmas is the lights on the trees and the excitment of gift giving. What I don't like is trying to figure out what to buy my friends. Every year I have this great idea about some gift but before I know it, it's December 19th and I only have a few days to drop off the gifts. Typically I end up getting them some gift certificates at a local music store with a small card. This year is not much different but I think I can twist it up a bit.
Just looking around some popular sites I have found some great tips about digital photography. Here at Microsoft's Digital Photography site they have a bunch of good resources, including a page about Photoshop CS2 RAW tips written by Scott Kelby.
If you never taken photos in RAW instead of JPG it's a great help when you need to "pull" that extra amount of detail from the photo. There are lots of pros and cons about using RAW but personally I think it's worth it, also it saved a few "lost" photos for me.
Half Life 2 and C++?
While I have a interest in computer programming, I don't have a great grasp on the technology used. I've taken classes in Visual Basic .NET and Java but still never made more than a small data base application. While playing Half Life 2, a computer game, I started to wonder about making my own Half Life level. After some research I found a great site with lots of info about modding (customizing a level) Half Life 2. This site from Valve's Developer Community is great and shows a very detailed basic beginner steps for creating you first mod.
Doing a quick search on Google, I found another page about modding Half Life 2 from Microsoft's Coding4Fun Half-Life 2 Mod Spot page. In this page they list a bunch of other sites for developers and mention that the free version of their C++ editor will not work with Half Life 2. In an updated Microsoft page I found that they now can use the Visual C++ 2005 Express Version, which is free to download. You can create you own games from all of these free tools! Except you still need to buy the game Half Life 2, which costs about $40. lol
Here's the site for all Microsoft Visual Studio Express items. It's free for a limited time.
World of Warcraft
I've been playing World of Warcraft on-line recently. It's a great game that is more interesting to me that typical on-line games. It's classed as a MMORPG, massivley multiplayer on-line role playing game, where people are playing in virtual worlds together. I have only been playing for three days but so far the worlds are really nice, lots of things to do and interact with other players.
Here's a picture of my character.
Then this is what a typical gaming area looks like.