Free Images

Websites are pretty booring without images of some sort. Professionals pay big money for world-class photos and illustrations. For the rest of us, searching google images is often the first place we look – however there is little guarantee that the images we find are ok to use.

Here are some links to various sites I’ve found that promise free photos, and by free, I mean free to download + Free to use*

* = within the intended use – for example, many pictures are free if you intend to put them on your website, so long as you credit the author, while almost no images are free if you intend to pack up a bunch of images and sell an image collection…

Sites that offer some free images:
Some of these grabbed from the awesome book: “How to Cheat in PhotoShop CS4”
Stockxchng (
MorgueFile (
Mayang textures (

US Government public domain images:
Space images  (
Skies and Nature: (
Military (

Awesome Book: How to Cheat in PhotoShop CS4

I picked up this amazing book called “How to Cheat in PhotoShop CS4”.

Over 400 high quality full color pages, plus a great DVD filled with videos on many of the techniques, as well as starting files if you wish to follow along.

Best thing is, unlike your typical $60 programming book, this one is $45 list, I bought mine at a Borders near my house for under $30 with one of those coupons they email out all the time.

Highly recommended!

Trade your old Video Games

Those old video games have plenty of value – to someone.

Here are some options for getting rid of them:


Another option is to use a game swap site – you list your available games, and someone tells you to send it to them, you then send it away for no money, but get ‘credits’ you can use at the swap site to use to ask someone to send you thier games. A friend of mine told me about

Personally, I prefer my the US Dollar as a currency over swap credits, but I’m sure each method has it’s benefits.

Ebay is your best bet for newer games -you can often get $45 for a used $60 game, so long as its pretty new.

Gamestop will rape you in all cases, but sometimes it’s such an easy option you just don’t care. Gamestop is great if you want to trade in 20 somewhat old games and get 1 somewhat new game.

When a used game is only worth a few dollars, goozex might make sense – it’s not worth selling a game for $ on ebay – there are too many fees. Gamestop will give you a quarter for it – which doesn’t cover your gas to get to the store. Goozex could be the ticket for swapping one old game for another.

SSW rules to better…

An interesting list of ‘rules’ from a consulting company out of Austrailia.

While you might not agree with every rule, there are a lot of good ones, and I admire them for writing it all down – very smart for a consulting organization to have all this documented, then ask that each consultant follow the guidelines.

Debugging app crashes on windows

At some point or another it happens: either windows blue screens, or an application locks up.
With a little effort, there’s no need to feel helpless nor to guess at what the problem might be,
debugging tools for windows can help.

below is a summary of some techniques – sorry that its not real descriptive. I’ll add to it one day – I promise..

In vista, you need to attach to the dying process.
Launch windebug and attach to the dying process.

Configure vista or 2008 to always generate a dump file (for application crashes)
Create key named:
Hklm\software\microsoft\windows\windows error reporting\localdumps

Dumps go to %localappdata%\crashdumps
Override with a Dumpfolder (string) value
Limit dump history with a dumpcount (dword) value

!analyze –v

If this doesn’t work –
Look at the thread stack for functions with ‘fault’ ‘exception’ or ‘error’
Open callstack window – the look at the threads looking for stacks

~0 kb (inspect call stack of CPU0)
~1 kb  (inspect call stack of CPU1)
Lm kvmvpn* (list driver version?)

Network Monitoring

Network monitoring is critical if you want to know that your computer systems are working.

I looked into a few choices:
SmokePing: pings a bunch of addresses and graphs the response times

Nagios: Nagios is a free, full blown network monitor for Linux. When I looked into it, it was a fair amount of work to set up – there are a few books available

Another app is Groudwork opensouce edition.
I am always leary of open source software that has a paid version. Seems like what could be a great free app usually ends up being little more than a demo for the companies paid version.

Another tool I found is ServerSentinel ( Server Sentinel isn’t free, but it’s not pricey either $65. Has a nice variety of sensors (you can do a lot more than just ping an address)

Version Control with Subversion

I use Subversion at home to keep my projects in order.
Subversion, being free, and lacking a marketing team, can be a real pain to get into -there are different versions of it out there, built by different groups etc…

The combination I’ve settled on so far is:

Server: I use the free VisualSVN server at
VisualSVN server basically takes Subversion and turns it into a nicely packaged windows service and MMC management plug in. It takes 2 minutes to install, 1 minute to configure.

Client: For the client, I use 2 pieces: TortoiseSVN ( Tortoise adds shell integration to windows to support subversion – what this means is that any folder on your system can be added to version control. There are a few commands that took some getting used to, but overall a very nice experience.

Visual Studio integration: the VisualSVN folks make a nice Visual Studio add on, but unfortunately they charge money for it – a lot of money – $50. Now $50 isn’t bad if you’re just buying one copy, but one of the benefits of knowing and using open source free software is that moment at work when you give your boss a nice alternative to sourcesafe that won’t cost the company a penny. That whole sales pitch goes out the window if they need to buy 50 copies of an add in for $50 a piece.  So I use AnkhSVN. (  When I started with it, it was a bit rough going, the official release didn’t work for me, but the latest nightly build at the time did. I’m sure by now the current release works just fine, but if you have problems, don’t give up, try a nightly build.

If all the nice gui stuff isn’t for you, Coding horror has a nice article on setting up basic subversion server usng text commands:

Cover Commander

an interesting little program I found from the makers of AWIcons.

Cover Commander makes fake pictures that look like books, boxes, CDs etc..

you design a layout in your favorate paint program, then Cover commander warps it in 3d and add’s it to some of it’s pre-defined layouts to make an image that looks like a cartoony rendering of the real thing.

You see this all the time on shareware and software sites – programs that you know don’t really come in boxes – but they have a picture of the program in a box anyways – cover commander does that for about $70. So does Photoshop, but not for $70.

Icon editor

I’m not sure why this is, but the icon file format seems to alude popular programs like photoshop, and others.  If you’re writing software of any kind, you’re likely to need a custom icon at some point or another.

I found awicons lite to be a nice free tool (

Test your memory

For years I’ve relied on Memtest after building a new PC.

the results: I’ve had stable PC’s that have gone for long periods of time without crashing.

Testing is critical when you’re using multiple sticks of memory. It seems there are a number of issues that show up with 4 sticks that get by just fine when only 2 are used.

here are a few links:

Memtest86+ is found at – it’s free. Download an iso, burn to CD and  boot it in your pc – wait 24 hours and see if your screen shows any errors – easy easy easy… is by the guy who originally wrote memtest. It wasn’t updated for a few years, so sort of took over, but I see he had an update in Jan 09 so it may be worth a look. Free – he also sells a CD for $11.

Microsoft has a tool, which is a nice start, except one tiny problem: it won’t test more than 4 gig of ram.

Online backup

Mozy offers an online backup tool with 2gb of free storage. ‘unlimited’ is $5 a month.


Here’s an interesting idea:
Google provides a good chunk of free storage with each gmail account – someone wrote a utility to turn that into a drive: