Candidates speak on the issues

St. Louis Today, the online site for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, has put together a clever page for Missouri voters: side-by-side videos on the issues by the single Democratic and two Republican contenders for governor.

I won’t hide the fact that I’m a big supporter of Jay Nixon. It was with relief, though, that I saw the videos because, frankly, Nixon blew the doors of of Steelman and Hulshof.

Nixon had specific plans in mind about how to deal with the individual issues. He didn’t equivocate on his beliefs; nothing he proposed was left deliberately vague or over generalized. You know where he stands on issues, and you know what he’ll do as governor. He’ll follow through, too. He’s been a phenomenal Attorney General for the state of Missouri.

As for the Republican candidates, as much as I support women in politics, I thought Steelman was terrible. One platitude after another, with vague Party Line waving ideas of how she would fix problems. I don’t think she had one original thought.

Nixon talks about increasing Medicare for the uninsured, and getting those Federal dollars we lost thanks to our current governor’s poor decisions. Nixon also talks about a pool for those who work but can’t afford private sector insurance—a plan many other states are adopting. Both Republican candidates had awful ideas on the growing health care crises. Steelman thinks we just need more private sector involvement. Yeah. Right. After all, health insurance organizations aren’t interested in raking as profit as they can from the people they insure. And Hulshof thinks all we need is tort reform. Yup, that will solve the problem of the millions of under-insured Missourians: tort reform.

How to create more jobs? Steelman wants to bring in an oil refinery. An oil refinery. And Steelman and Holshof both focused on the business end in their proposals. I found it interesting that Nixon focused on both business and the people. He’s also the only one interested in actively recruiting the bioscience business, which could potentially turn this state around. The voters of this state also support the bioscience business, while Steelman and Holshof want things like…oil refineries.


Vector Magic: The tech that could, the company that could not

Vector Magic originated as a free online service hosted at Stanford University. You could upload a raster image, such as clip art or a photo, and use the service to generate a vector-based image. You could then export the image in a format such as SVG.

The service was simple to use and did an excellent job, especially if you’re not experienced with using tools like Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape’s Trace functionality.

The developers behind Vector Magic split their software off from Stanford, creating a company named Vector Magic and began to offer the web services for a price. Unfortunately, the price was high: to download a vectorized image would cost about $2.50 American, which ended up being too steep for most folks.

The company then came out with a monthly “all you can download” subscription service, costing $7.95 a month. That’s not a bad price for the service. However, the company also demands that you maintain a credit card on file, which is something I’ve never been comfortable with. Again, a case of good technology but not the best business practices.

I looked forward to the long awaited Desktop tool, where I could create as many vectorized images I wanted without having to pay $2.50 per vectorized download, or tie into a monthly subscription service that wants to keep my credit card on file.

Vector Magic just announced the release of their first desktop product, this one for the PC. The Mac version will following in a couple of months. This is a production release—if there was a beta release, it wasn’t public. I tried the application and it is very efficient, and does a terrific job at converting raster images into vectors. For one license you can also run the application on two machines, though you have to activate the license on each machine over the internet. If something happens to one machine, an email to the company should be enough to open the license for install on another machine. Should be enough, as there is no formal deactivation process, like you would have with Photoshop.

However, the cost of the application is $295.00. This is more money than I’m willing to pay for a tool just to make a vector conversion of an occasional raster image. I’m not one to begrudge people making money off their work and products, but I’ve been effectively priced out of Vector Magic’s market. It’s time for me to return to an open source tool like Inkscape and regretfully leave Vector Magic for those whose use of the product either justifies the cost, or who have deeper pockets than mine.

Vector Magic desktop tool