One thing you've probably discovered if you've owned a computer for more than five days is that purchasing software can be very expensive. In some cases, you get what you pay for, particularly if you are purchasing software for professional use. But for hobbyists, who occasionally need to edit a photo for a blog, or convert a document to .pdf format, or provide basic, general protection for their home computer, it doesn't have to be expensive.
Today, let's start with photo editing software.
Blibs.com is a site that allows you to upload a photo and add from a large assortment of formatted or animated text, graphics and effects. The edited photo can then be downloaded from the site for use on your computer or the web. I've used this site extensively, and really like it. Animate your online holiday greetings with snowfall, or create a slideshow of several photos quickly. Blend images, or add a water effect - all very easily, with very little knowledge of photo-editing needed. Remember that animated photos usually need to be saved in .gif format.
GIMP.org has been recommended to me by several graphic designers. It's a free download, with features similar to Adobe Photoshop. While the features may not be sufficient for the pro's, they are usually more than enough for hobbyists. I have not used this one extensively, but the few features I have tried on this program were quite easy for me (a total photo-editing newbie) to use.
And remember, for very, very basic photo editing (cropping, re-sizing, adding text), the software already installed on your computer just might do the trick. I've successfully edited a lot of photos using Microsoft Paint (for adding text, and manipulating colors and content), and Microsoft Picture Manager (for re-sizing and cropping).
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.