Welcome to a new column that will appear every two issues. This column will be about computer programs and equipment, what’s hot and what’s not. How many times have you bought a program (game or work related) and found nothing but garbage, or something that didn’t work out the way you wanted? Have you ever gone to a Web site that wasn’t worth the hype? It happens a lot and it can be frustrating! With this column we will attempt to offer a quick and painless path straight to what you want and need. If you have any questions concerning computers, games, software and equipment, please send them to the Nation and we’ll help to find the answers you need.

Adobe’s Photoshop 6.0 and Right Hemisphere’s Deep Paint-Wi//

Everyone who’s done any serious work has Photoshop. Photoshop is used for working with scanned photos, web design, pre-press production, digital photography, or fine art. It is the tool of both professionals and gifted amateurs. The latest version brags that “Photoshop helps you explore your creativity, work at peak efficiency, and achieve the highest quality results across all media.” This isn’t far from the truth. Photoshop is used here everyday in some way and I noticed the difference between the older version and the latest version. That isn’t something that happens every day when you are looking at an upgrade. It also has great support. You can go to www.adobe.com and download the latest updates or take a sample course in Photoshop 6.0. Check it out as this is the best photo design software in the industry.

Photoshop has a lot of support across the board in the industry in the form of plug-in’s. These can take the form of filters like Alienskin’s Eye Candy. This filter not only allowed me to cut down on design time, but had me playing with Photoshop for a while trying out new ideas. I am currently trying to get Alienskin’s Eye Candy 4000. It’s had rave reviews and I’ll let you know how the latest version is.

Another plug-in is Right Hemisphere’s Deep Paint. This is a must have for artists. I know I never found things so much fun and just by fooling around came up with some great stuff. It’s quite easy to take some line-art (black and white drawings) and change it into something you want and need. My only problem with this program is that it sometimes seemed to use up more resources than I was prepared to let it have and became slower when I was multi-tasking (using more than one program at a time). Given the output though, it was worth it.


There is no better place to learn about music and music

recording than the Internet. The information available about instruments and how to play them is limitless and growing. Most people have a sound card in their computer. With a sound card you can hook up a microphone, electronic instrument or a midi keyboard along with a set of headphones or speakers. You can then record on one of several free recording programs available on the Internet. You can also take samples off of any cd and mix these into your own songs. One excellent program is protools and it’s free.

Just go to the website at http://www.digidesign.com/ (go into support/downloads/protocols etc). The professionals use a very expensive version of this program.

Age of Empires- Neil

Computer games have changed since the days of Pong and Pacman. I was fascinated with Pong, for about five minutes. I played Pac Man in bars until my beer money ran out. Others held my attention for a few boredom filled school afternoons. I haven’t changed that much. At “work,” I turn down the volume and start up Age of Empires.

“A of E,” as new-schoolers call it, came out a few years ago. We were hooked. We spent our afternoons playing marathon games on the office network. We couldn’t get enough. Girls started looking at us weird (or not looking at us at all), but it was worth it.

The object of the game is simple. Destroy your enemy. But before all that you have to choose a civilization. There are several: Choson, Egyptian, Persian, Yamato, Shang. Each have different attributes. The Phoenicians have superior naval power, the Choson have long range catapults, and the Egyptians have scary priests. My favorites, the Yamato, have horse archers that can lay waste to empires.

The game starts in the stone age. As you move through the ages, you can employ new technologies. You go to your storage pit to research armour, iron arrow heads, and the like. You can visit your temple to research monotheism, afterlife, or fanaticism, to turn your villagers into crazed zealots. Your villagers gather wood, gold, and food. Your priests heal the wounded and convert the enemy. Your soldiers kill, of course. Stone walls and guard towers should be built ASAP.

The scenario builder allows you to design your own battlefield. I once created one with a map of James Bay. All the major rivers were there. Up north, I had herds of caribou. I had lions instead of wolves.

A of E received many awards when it was released and has evolved. Age of Kings takes place in the middle ages. I haven’t played it much except for the trial version. I can’t wait to be the Mongols, with a horde of horse archers racing across the plains.

The latest version of the game is Age of Conquerors. Here they’ve added the Mayans and the Aztecs, two little known powers who built vast empires just prior to the “discovery of the new world.”

The makers of the “Age of…” series have tried to be faithful to history. As a result they have a game that’s not only entertaining and fun, but also a small lesson in world military history.