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Worth a thousand pixels

Digital photos look their best when no one can see them.

Isn’t digital photography wonderful? When you see an image you want to preserve for the ages, you simply turn on your camera, hold it steady six inches from your face, adjust the zoom, click the button, and look for new batteries.

Once you import those snapshots into your computer, you can alter them with a program like PassportPhoto, creating the illusion of photographic competence. If a picture is underexposed, you can fiddle with brightness and contrast until it looks merely washed out. If it is out of focus, you can sharpen it until it looks like an acid flashback. You can even correct its gamma, which, as everyone knows, is a quadrant in the Star Trek galaxy.

But then what do you do with your picture? How do you make it available so that friends and family can wonder why they ever got to know you? Here are a few of the best ways to distribute your digital photographs.

E-mail your love

There’s nothing that will make your loved ones happier than a 10MB e-mail attachment of your love. This is especially true of those who still use conventional modems–they’ll have all the more time to sit in eager anticipation as your message downloads.

But once your friends get your message and your pictures, what can they do with them? After all, you can’t assume that everyone you know has the resources to view JPG files. The answer is to e-mail not just the pictures but a slide-show presentation program like Micro Utility Presentation’s MUDslide II. Your loved ones merely have to install the software, reboot their systems, download some drivers, rewrite their registry, and enjoy the show. Then they can show their appreciation by registering their copies of MUDslide for a mere $15. (Some of MUDslide’s best features, including uninstall, become active only after registration.)

A MUDslide slideshow will be particularly appreciated by all of your Mac-owning friends, as they won’t be able to install it.

Time to waste paper

People have received photographs via the post office for centuries. To prepare the photos, you’ll want software that will allow you to print multiple pictures in various sizes on the same page. There are many photo-handling and printing programs that will not quite do exactly what you need. Fortunately, your word processor probably will.

In addition to software, you’ll need an inkjet printer and special photo paper. You can identify special photo paper by the shiny gloss on one side, the words “Photo Paper” on the box, and the high price.

When you’re ready, insert the special photo paper into your printer, then print the picture. When the printing is finally complete, realize that you forgot to insert the paper shiny side down. Print the pictures a second time, then a third time after you have set your printer properties for a high-quality image.

When you succeed in printing a good-looking page, use scissors to carefully cut out the separate photos. Then reprint the ones you accidentally cut in half.

These last photos you print will have a strange, bluish tint. Replace your ink cartridge and try again.

For all to see

You can post your photos for free on a Web site like ohnofoto.com. That way, anyone in the world can look at and admire your family. Not only is this convenient for your far away friends and relatives, but it’s wonderfully useful for stalkers.

Before you can upload your photos to ohnofoto.com, you must sign up for a free membership. This involves filling out an 18-page form, giving such information as your e-mail address, credit rating, and reason for living. If this makes you nervous, relax; the ohnofoto.com site contains an extensive privacy policy that promises to be very long and boring.

Once you’ve uploaded your pictures, written captions, and designed an album, you can recommend it to your friends. Another ohnofoto.com form allows you to type in all of their e-mail addresses, so that ohnofoto.com can invite them to fill in the 18-page form and join ohnofoto.com themselves.

Put on a CD slideshow

If you have a CD-RW drive, there’s another option: Create a slideshow and distribute it via CD-R discs. If you don’t have a CD-RW drive, shame on you; the recession is your fault.

You can create a slideshow using software like the aforementioned MUDslide II. And you can set up your CD so that MUDslide installs automatically whenever the recipient inserts the CD. MUDslide is especially designed to support multiple installs on the same system, each of which supports a separate $15 registration to uninstall.

Once you have the slideshow set up, copy it to 50 CD-Rs, which you can then mail to everyone you know. Before long, you’ll discover that you wrote the data to disc in a format that renders them incompatible with older drives. You may have to mail your friends and family five or six different discs before you get it right and they can finally install MUDslide.

They’ll thank you for it.

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