Over the past few weeks I have been plugging away at my FMB unit design. There has been a lot of iteration on the design due to input from people around me and my own creativity but the greatest mover of design changes has been the program used to create the design. For awhile I have been working with paint.net until I discovered the gradual but noticeable degradation of images I got while using it. When I saved my work and then reloaded it I found distinct picture quality issues that actually got significantly worse with each save and reload. It was so bad that I eventually gave up on paint.net and swapped over to Microsoft Office PowerPoint, which at first glance didn't seem like the ideal interface for creating art but in fact worked wonderfully.
Like a lot of geeks I have this idea in my mind that using free software instead of supporting the behemoth Microsoft's (insert Imperial March music here) software is a good thing. After all, Microsoft has been guilty of economically evil behaviour in the past, should we not shun their products as punishment? The problem of course is that I don't use software to make a statement so much as I use software to get things done and Office is simply *better*. It is better because they have massive gobs of money to throw at development, but better nonetheless. This same sort of effect was present when I swapped to Microsoft Excel from OpenOffice's spreadsheet builder. The free to use version was okay at first, but after having experienced both I can say definitively that the evil empire makes much better office programs than the collective of unpaid geeks out there.
Now I have a spreadsheet build in Excel and a set of units built in PowerPoint. It cost me a hundred bucks to buy the home version of Office but I can certainly vouch for the fact that it was worth the price, even for my limited use of it so far. I have gone from a daring pilot flying a X-wing fighter in a trench on the Death Star to a white clad Stormtrooper standing at attention awaiting orders from the Emperor. Perhaps I have betrayed my roots and fallen in line with big business, or perhaps I just use whatever it is that actually does the job. Which it is depends on your point of view.
Below is the picture I created in PowerPoint. Faster, prettier and easier. Go Team Evil.