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dXine.co.za – Affilliations

Freelance creative, graphic designer, desktop publishing operator, pre-press specialist, amateur photographer, occasional volunteer and adventurer.

Currently available for new projects.

May be able to assist with basic 2 or 3 page website designs; possibly some hosting solutions, but do not do E-commerce sites at the moment.

Please drop us a note for custom quotes, or download a basic rates list from the link below.

What is the next project?
— Read on dxine.co.za/affilliations

Free and Paid PhotoShop and Lightroom Alternatives

Featuredhttps://skylum.grsm.io/dxine
There seem to be many questions about post-processing software. My review is a personal take on these questions. Opinions differ, and there is plenty more software out there to consider. The text does have links to the different sites where the software is available. I will probably change it to affiliate links later if that option is available to move back to the Journal.

PhotoShop and Lightroom

Many consider PhotoShop and Lightroom to be the best design and photo-processing software available. As a result, there is a lot of support and training out there. Adobe offers a monthly photography subscription plan which includes Lightroom and PhotoShop.

Skylum Luminar

A combination of PhotoShop and Lightroom comes to mind when I am using Skylum. Free training is available via training videos and free online courses. A Luminar plug-in integrated into PhotoShop, Lightroom, and other photo editing tools allows easy access from third-party software. The sky replacement tool is better than PhotoShop, and the software also has an AI system built-in that makes suggestions on how to edit if you drop a photo in. Therefore the process is more straightforward if a person is new to editing. I am not always crazy about automated edits, so I generally use custom editing tools rather than presets.

Skylum Luminar Payment Options

  • To try out the trial version, visit https://skylum.grsm.io/dxine.
  • Use the code LUMINAR-FRIEND to get a $10 discount on the purchase price when purchasing.
A trial version of Luminar is available to test out. Luminar is a software purchase rather than a subscription such as the monthly Adobe subscription. The software offers free support and updates for a year until the next major release. Upgrading software usually is discounted and comes with a 1-year SmugMug subscription. SmugMug typically charges just over $55,00 a year for a basic package. It also includes a free user course from ThinkTap Learning

Skylum Luminar: photo-processing software simplified.

  • Less routine.
  • Easy to learn.
  • Added possibilities.
  • With innovative technologies, there are countless ways to express your ideas.
  • You can concentrate on telling your creative story while AI takes care of repetitive tasks.
  • Regardless of your experience level, you will get remarkable results right away, irrespective of how long you have been shooting.

What is SmugMug

SmugMug has some photo sales tools built-in and, if a paid subscriber, can be set to your registered domain as a website.
The original article with the video introduction was first published on my journal. Feel free to visit https://journal.dxine.co.za/2021/01/18/bitcoin/ to watch the videoclip.

A Free Bitcoin Mining Rig and Referral Alternative

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2020 was a challenging year. Covid-19 lockdowns resulted in many rejected and deferred visas, lots of Work-Away Volunteer and permanent employment opportunities lost nationally and internationally. My partner and I have been working as volunteers for the last year, with the odd bit of remote contract work where I could find it and some paving and maintenance or hospitality jobs that happen to cross our paths that paid. Adobe Lightroom, Skylum Luminar, a cup of coffee or tea and I have become good friends in this period. Recent and current projects seem to be design or photography-related, but freelance and contract work seem much less in demand in the last few months.

Online Work Search.

It is no fun trawling online searching for paying work, with millions of previously employed people doing the same. I am currently researching affiliate programs and other solutions but may have to start looking for permanent employment soon. Nobody knows when international borders will open again. We have no idea we will travel to the country where we started working almost a year ago.

Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin Purchase Infiltrations.

I do not like Cryptocurrency proposals after almost being scammed by such an “opportunity” in the past. Posts about Bitcoin scams seem to be infiltrating every job post on every work-related social page. Bitcoin marketers are trying hard to reel desperate individuals in with promises of big money if they buy training or software, generally both. Most of these seem to do so by hijacking social media posts of people searching for employment or work, inviting people to join Telegram or WhatsApp groups, or expecting the people on the feed to invest hefty amounts of money with them. Unfortunately, not everybody is as honest or sincere as they seem, with scams being in abundance. It made me wonder if mining cryptocurrency is so profitable; why do these people spend so much time hijacking work-related posts on social media platforms? Why keep getting people to buy software setups, Bitcoin training, or mining servers at extraordinary high costs? According to what most of these marketers preach, the money is supposedly just flowing into their accounts. Still, it seems that there are more people making money out of selling promises, training courses, Bitcoin Mining Rigs, and Bitcoin networking tools than those mining these digital numbers.

Computta Bitcoin Miner Trial and Referrals

I found a Bitcoin Mining App that does not require selling an organ to invest. It is freeware software called Computta. Consider giving it a test run. It runs in the background of the system all the time. I registered it on a separate Gmail account, running it in a sandbox app for security reasons. It promises little return, $20 a year unless you do referrals. However, you do not have to sell an organ or family member to make use of it. I am still reading up on how exactly it works or not. It is running numbers up in the background, but I have no idea what it does with it. Here is the referral link if anybody wants to check it out. https://computta.com/?ref=662396 Originally published on https://journal.dxine.co.za/2021/01/18/bitcoin-mining/ with video introduction. Watch the video.

A Review: Captain Words Contributor

Starting as an Independent Copywriting Contributor

People are always looking for permanent remote work or an extra income. I spent a short time writing articles for a copywriting company over the last few months in-between a few other research and freelance projects.

Captain Words are an Up-work type service provider, sourcing articles for clients from writers worldwide with quite a few employees and contributors working from South Africa.

Workstation Invoicing Screen
Captain Words Editors Notes and Invoicing

Hopefully, somebody will find some insight into the copywriting zone. Hopefully, somebody will discover a way of earning an extra source of income if they are inclined to do so. Keep in mind that this is an actual job. It takes a lot of time and commitment. It is not passive nor affiliate income.

Recruitment

Before onboarding you as an independent contributor, Captain Words asks you to write two assessment articles to see if you can follow the project guidelines on the job tickets, meet deadlines, and evaluate if you can write.

The articles get graded, editors comment on them. Writers that pass the assessment will be asked to attend a remote interview if the company likes your writing style and you have passed the initial assessment stage.

If your application is unsuccessful, you may or may not receive a notification. The company generally shares the grading and reasons with applicants if they are not selected to continue the onboarding process.

Onboarding Articles

As the company does not pay for onboarding articles, it remains the property of the writer. They can publish it on their blogs or journals if they have one online after grading or keep it as part of their writing portfolio.

After a short video interview, Captain Words will create a Trello board and a Pumble account on their systems if they accept you as an independent contributor. The team communicates via these mediums, and of course, also via email.

After the interview, the writer gets paid for the first two training articles you have to write as part of the training session. There is a 48-hour deadline attached to them. If your rating is good, you may only be asked to write one training article before completing actual projects.

Teamwork

The team is overall pleasant and professional. There are open lines of communication, but expect some delays on answers and much improvisation as remote workers are working in different time zones around the globe, some of them at night.

Working with this company was a rewarding experience with a lot to learn. The tools to manage its freelancers are organized and functional. The knowledge I gained while doing this project is of great value to me as a freelance creative. I use it every day in my writing endeavors.

Subject Matter

Most of the Captain Words writing projects are about igaming. I can’t say I am a gambling fan, having a bit of a history with people who had addictions of all sorts in their lives. One of them liked to visit casino floors and gambling sites online frequently.

However, it allowed me to insert a thought or two about responsible gambling into the projects I had to complete here and there. Hopefully, someday, that will make a difference in someone’s life. I believe the written word can change lives.

I learned an amazing amount about diamonds. Considering I am married, male, and unlikely ever to give or receive a diamond, I know a lot about different shapes and colors of diamonds set in engagement rings in all kinds of mountings.

Suppose you are committed to doing the tasks to the best of your ability and prepared to take on something outside your comfort zone? In that case, there are opportunities to write about other subject matters between the gaming reviews.

Project Ratings and Deadlines

All articles get rated, and every manager has access to the statistics of previous reports that a writer completed. The higher the rating of your work, the more requests for work you will receive to do new work from other project managers.

Meet deadlines and communicate challenges or obstacles via project managers. If the coverage of your subject matter is factual, engaging, and error-free, there will be projects on the board to do.

All articles get checked for errors and plagiarism, returned for revisions, and then go through an editor to do small edits before submitting them to their clients for approval.

Writers must return corrections within 24 hours, but sometimes, they are also urgent. Unfortunately, if articles get rejected, the writer does not get paid for them.

Invoicing and Ownership

On the 13th day of the month, writers invoice the company for completed projects unless otherwise informed. Only after the writer submits an article for editing can it be captured for invoicing. Contributors get paid per word. Captain Words generally pay into a Payoneer or PayPal account the same day or, on average, about five days after invoicing closes.

If you decide to sign up for Payoneer, keep in mind that you have to have US$50 in the account before transferring the money to your bank account. Their service fee is less than that of PayPal.

Contributors own the copy they write up to the point where Captain Words pays them for the piece. Captain Words owns the article and copyright of what you wrote when they pay you for it. They can resell and publish it to whomever and wherever they want to under a ghost writer’s name or a pseudonym.

The Work Arena

All work is done and submitted online via Google Docs. The company does provide you with the tools and guidelines to check your work for errors and plagiarism before submitting it. It is expected from every writer to study, review and proofread their work before submitting it for checking.

Screenshots need to be attached at the bottom of the document piece to prove that writers have checked their work and stayed within the word count required in brief. Initially, it is time-consuming, but it gets faster as a writer gets used to the system. Good connectivity is, however, essential.

Domain Authority

Research links also need to be attached at the bottom of the document. Editors and Project Managers are supposed to use these to check facts and figures after establishing their Domain Authority (DA) score. The higher the Domain Authority score of a site is, the more credible the source.

To be regarded as a credible research resource, a Domain Authority score of 50% or higher is expected for any site used for research. These numbers can change with different writing projects. The DA score needs to be much higher for a web domain to be considered a subject expert, generally above 70%.

Finding a site with a DA rating of over 40% is challenging when writing about the gambling world. It is often best to check the scores of the sites you use and only use information from the higher-rated sites if none of them has a high Domain Authority rating. Make a note to the project manager at the end of the article if no research links had a very high DA rating.

Higher-rated articles mean a contributor will get more work. If editors do not agree with the facts when they check an article, but the writer can prove them wrong, they will generally increase the rating for the article. They learned something from the piece. A research site with a strong DA rating of 70% or higher can achieve the goal of verifying lesser-known facts used in writing.

SEO Strategy

In a successful Search Engine Optimization strategy, the highest-rated sites appear in the top results for most search engines, but usually below paid ads. Unique content combined with a good DA rating means a higher placing and display on the first or second results page. Few people browse further than that when perusing search engine results.

If the plagiarism checks made by the world wide web search engines also have a low score and the meta title and description keywords hit frequently searched for keywords or phrases, that pushes results towards the top of the search results even more.

Read more on https://journal.dxine.co.za/2022/01/28/a-review-captain-words-contributor/

Updated: Luminar Ai and Other Photo Editing Software Packages

Update on the article about alternate photo-processing tools for photo-editing to Adobe Photoshop. The original article was posted in my journal on February 2021.

Skylum Luminar has been giving Adobe applications a run for its money in the photo-processing industry over the last few years. Many younger photographers chose Skylum Luminar as a better alternative to the classic Adobe software packages. Affordability, an effective sky replacement tool, and ease of use during post-processing made this possible.

The software can be bought and offer a referral and affiliation program to their users, making it a popular and much better-priced alternative to Adobe’s monthly subscription services.

Earlier versions of Skylum Luminar reminded me of a hybrid editing system. Combining some of the best editing tools and library management tools from Adobe PhotoShop and Lightroom, it also featured some pretty intuitive Ai functions added to the mix.

A pretty impressive Sky Replacement tool in earlier software releases gave Skylum Luminar a solid footing in the photo-editing marketplace. Even Adobe suddenly created a sky replacement tool and integrated the tool into later PhotoShop releases to gain some ground back.

Skylum Luminar AI

Luminar Ai Photo Editing

In the latest release of Skylum Lumar, the software creators have concentrated on developing the system that has enabled them to grab a huge piece of the photo-editing software pie.

By adding a better Ai system, User Interface and more intuitive editing tools and templates, they assist photographers in transforming their photos into something truly spectacular.

The software works well. It is a much easier system for newcomers to get their heads around the world of image manipulation. In the long run, purchasing the software is much more economical than the monthly Adobe subscriber programme.

To trial Skylum AI, follow the link https://skylum.grsmTo .io/dxine. Once you decide to purchase, use the promo code LUMINAR-FRIEND for a 10% discounted price. The next version of Skylum Luminar, aptly named Luminar Neo, has also been released recently, offering even more automated tools to improve your images. 

Read full article on https://journal.dxine.co.za/2021/09/02/adobe-luminar-update/

dXine.co.za – Experimentals

Freelance creative, graphic designer, desktop publishing operator, pre-press specialist, amateur photographer, occasional volunteer and adventurer.

Currently available for new projects.

May be able to assist with basic 2 or 3 page website designs; possibly some hosting solutions, but do not do E-commerce sites at the moment.

Please drop us a note for custom quotes, or download a basic rates list from the link below.

What is the next project?
— Read on dxine.co.za/experimentals

A Volunteering experience at Wild Lubanzi, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Impressionist version of original photo ©Anthony Gillespie

We had the opportunity to do some volunteer work in Eastern Cape in 2020. Communal gardening, building maintenance, construction, flooring, plumbing, web design, cooking, and rock building projects. A different project every day. Very different from a day at an office and so much more satisfying, other than cleaning toilets. It is hard for paying guests to fathom using a toilet brush or flush a toilet when finishing off in a bathroom.

A Person Cannot Beat the Feeling of Satisfaction

Our visit was short, but it was a nice feeling, leaving something behind that will be used and enjoyed by visitors that go there in the future. We would probably not have had the opportunity to do so if it was not for Covid-19 lockdowns.

Pipe Dreams

Traveling, volunteering in other countries, maybe seeing somewhat of the world could be fantastic. Still, after 3 visa applications being turned in due to lockdowns already, that seems like a pipe dream at the moment. Exploring the possibilities, but the viabilities seem to be at odds.

A Completed Project

©Anthony Gillespie

Finally, natural seating on a rock wall in front of one of the safari tents, looking out onto the ocean. The small outcrop also protects against ground erosion common to these steep hills, serves as a small porch in front of the tent, a step to climb up the hill. The plants still need to grow.

Original post on https://journal.dxine.co.za/2020/10/05/wild-lubanzi/