What Computer Programs Should I Buy?

mdrzycimski Jul 14, 2006

  1. mdrzycimski

    mdrzycimski TrainBoard Supporter

    I am about to purchase a few computer programs that will help me in my structure building and general modeling. The problem is, I don't know what to look for.

    So, I am looking for some suggestions of the computer programs that you find most useful in your activities with modeling.

    I was thinking about a vector-based drawing program and software that I can use to edit and manipulate photos. What do you recommend that is a very good value?

    One more thing: My computer is running Windows XP Pro.
  2. Doug A.

    Doug A. TrainBoard Supporter


    Sometimes it is a little scary the topics you come up with, because often they are things I've thought about that same day. I was thinking about vector graphics and modeling possibilities. I'm not to the point yet where I will use it for structures, but there are other uses, especially logos, custom decals, etc.

    I'm gonna toss in a vote for an old favorite...(actually not, but...)...CorelDraw. I used to really hate CorelDraw. I owned what I seem to recall being version 3 or 4 if memory serves, and I regretted spending good beer money on that during college. However, not long ago I needed to use a vector app for a logo I was doing (the NMRA Lone Star Region 2005 convention logo, if you ever saw that) and my company had an extra license so I installed it expecting it to be a beating to use. Well, there was a learning curve, but I patiently followed the built-in tutorials and it turns out to be not a bad little app. Now, the "suite" is pretty pricey, but if you have a prior version it is somewhat reasonable at $179. Not sure how the photo editor is, but if it's decent then the price is good when you consider PS Elements or Paint Shop Pro being around $100. A little trick...you can often find boxed prior versions at used bookstores for dirt cheap, so that's an option as the upgrade requirement doesn't seem to have any note about what version.

    I had already searched on open source and/or share/freeware and I'm not still really up on what's on there. One called Inkscape looked promising.

    Gimp is a good open source "Photoshop-style" app...I've used it as well and I will soon be downloading it again to replace the p-o-s PS Elements 2 that came with my 20D....Photoshop elements is so way off from being on the same planet as Photoshop it ain't even funny.

    On a somewhat related note, I just loaded JMRI on my machine and I'm playing around with my LocoBuffer/Zephyr combo a little more. I'm loading Fedora linux on an old laptop as we speak to function as my dedicated DCC box.

    BTW, I did get my Win2K3 domain controller issue figured out. I ended up renaming the DC, which took some major cahonas but surprisingly it worked.
  3. Glenn Woodle

    Glenn Woodle TrainBoard Member

    There's a ton of photo editors on the market. Adobe photoshop appears to be most popular. Corel recently bought Photoshop 10. For prices, it's hard to tell sometimes with all the rebate & store sale offers. Don't forget to chack out the office store like Staples or Office Max/Depot.

    I use MS Works for spreadsheet/database/wp. It will read MS office files. There may be a 06 version out soon with newer MS Money & other programs. Works does a decent job with templates for your CD or book collection that can easily be adjusted for model trains. They also have other decent homework projects.
  4. Tim Loutzenhiser

    Tim Loutzenhiser TrainBoard Supporter

    Maybe try going to:
    Check and see if they have anything and how it's rated - you can probably find something free.
  5. Doug A.

    Doug A. TrainBoard Supporter

    Actually, Corel bought Paint Shop Pro 10. Photoshop still belongs to Adobe. I think Paint Shop Pro is tops for "non-Photoshop" photo editing. I still use PSP7 and I'm hoping to upgrade when I get some funds to 10, although I'm holding out because my wife is an educator and she can get the Adobe Suite (with Photoshop AND Premier) for a fairly cheap price and I'm wanting to spring for that.

    As far as office productivity (Word Processing, Spreadsheet, etc.) look no further than OpenOffice. It's free (donations encouraged, of course) and I have been using it at work, even with access to Office Pro 2003, for over 6 months now.
  6. mdrzycimski

    mdrzycimski TrainBoard Supporter

    Doug, Tim, Glenn,
    Thanks for the replies. I had Corel Draw in mind as I want to be able to design decals, pcb layouts, etchings, etc. I have been reading that you must use a vector graphics package to achieve any acceptable results. The fact that it comes with a photo editing package is a plus. I was doing some looking around the web and found Corel Draw Suite version 12 for a pretty reasonable price ($60 - $100). This is probably all I need for modeling. Then, if I wanted to upgrade at some point I could.

    Congratulations on the server. I knew you had it in you.

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