May2008 Archive

Image Editing Software

2008 May 05   category: Technology   author:  

Given how much good free software there is in all categories it says something that we actually forked out money to purchase Paint Shop Pro® from Corel® (  Well alright, what it actually says is that, in the image editing category, decent software sophisticated enough for our needs does not come for free – and we were certainly reluctant to purchase the much more expensive but highly regarded Photoshop® from Adobe®.  That said, we have been more than happy with our Paint Shop Pro® experience and would like to give it due credit in this post.

Caveat: Our version of Paint Shop Pro® is 9.01, which is a few years old now.  The Wikipedia entry for Paint Shop Pro® (, notes some issues with later versions, including the installation of adjunct software (spyware?) named PSIService.exe, which runs in the background collecting licensing information and does not deinstall if the main program is deinstalled.  We find this quite nefarious and it would certainly give us pause were we considering an upgrade.

Overall we have found Paint Shop Pro® to be a very capable and reliable workhorse when it comes to editing images for our designs.  Our most intensive requirements arise when tidying up source maps and when applying special effects for our more quirky designs.   The editing capabilities have typically met or exceeded our requirements and in fact we’ve become more demanding as we discover all that Paint Shop Pro® can do (yes, we’re somewhat perfectionist).  For example, there are ten methods for adjusting brightness and contrast including: curves, gamma correction, highlight/midtone/shadow adjustment and histogram adjustment.  Another good example is our favorite tool for noise reduction, ‘edge preserving smooth’, which serves us well in removing jpg artifacts and enhancing the appearance of our map images.  This may not be the appropriate tool for other kinds of image but then there are the eight other noise reduction methods to choose from!

We really haven’t found any big drawbacks with this version of the software.  At times the program can become resource hungry, driven among other things by the size of the image being edited and the large number of ‘undos’ being held, but we have only very rarely found that it has become unstable.

So based on our extensive use of Paint Shop Pro® we heartily recommend it for digital image editing.  It’s hard to imagine many tasks it couldn’t handle but we do have far less experience with other image editors and would certainly welcome comments anyone experienced with the alternatives. Business Startup

2008 May 04   category: Business Devt   author:  

So how did business concept begin?  Well it really didn’t begin as either a business or a concept.  Instead it slowly evolved from a rather more limited activity.

It began with a rare concurrence - time away from corporate servility and sufficient funds to pursue some personal interests.  It began with a casual attempt to see if artwork could be created and sold online.  And it really began after a drift away from ‘artwork’ and the discovery of something that did sell.  (Yes, you will notice that flagandmap designs aren’t especially ‘artistic’ – yet!).

As soon as the relative popularity of flagandmap designs became clear, all efforts were focused on creating a comprehensive range of designs on a number of products – a goal that has yet to be fully met.  For a long time this was being accomplished solely by means of a gallery/store on the Zazzle site (  Only later, after appreciable progress toward this primary goal, was effort devoted to the development of a decent flagandmap website ( and were funds applied to internet marketing.  Only now are we ready to start the blog that you are now reading.

So the above approach was to start small, to test the waters with a number of ideas and then run with the one that seemed to be the most promising.  Even at that point investment was modest and growth of the business continues to be gradual.  We suggest that this approach is sensible if resources are limited and the opportunity being addressed can be divided up between many smaller operators.  Clearly this approach won’t work if the intention is to set up something like ’’ where most of the opportunity is captured by an early and aggressive entrant.  Nevertheless, there are many smaller internet business, such as those operating through ebay,  where the lessons learned here might be applicable.

Perhaps you have a comparable or contrasting experience with a similar kind of internet based venture - it would be great to hear from you.  Please feel free to add a comment.

Welcome to the FlagAndMap Weblog

2008 May 04   category: Business Devt   author:  

Finally the website has a voice!  We’ve been selling products for some years now and the website ( has steadily been gaining functionality but it required a little extra learning to create a blog design that matched the appearance of the website*.  We hope you approve and will visit now and again to see what we have to say and add your thoughts too.

Blog topics will include development of a small internet based business, news updates on the FlagAndMap business and occasional observations on our global marketplace.

* Thanks to WordPress ( whose excellent open source software makes this customized blog design possible.