Our First “Kid” and Confounding Computers

There are millions of people in the world who would be glad to have chicken noodle soup. So, I took my lumps and put up with the broth running off the noodles and onto my chin as I fished for the actual chicken in Campbell’s version of the classic.

To be honest, I was not thinking of the starving millions as I watched person after person perilously pile paper plates high with delectable desserts. I was torn between having them describe it to me and telling them to keep their big traps shut.

But enough about that…

Lexie Sleeps

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Are you ever going to print those?

Ben on Beach

Be honest. Does at least one person in your family still prefer looking at prints in a photo album, but your digital pictures just sit there on your hard drive or memory card? Does finally getting a print from your digital photos cause marital strife? Does your printer either lack the quality you want, or usually run out of at least one color while you’re printing?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, then read on for my review of three services that can help you solve these problems.

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Digital Media issues

I started this as a rant on the woes of the ever-increasing space demands of digital media, but turned into a sort of primer.

Digital Photos

Do you use a digital camera? Do you scan in your film photos? If so, and you’ve been doing this for any length of time, then you know how much fun it is keeping photo files organized and backed up.

You’re not backing up your photos? Please start now. Copy them to another hard drive, put them on a CD or a DVD. Something. Anything. You can lose pictures forever if you do not have a backup plan.

If you copy some photos to an optical disk of some kind, don’t rely on that as the only copy. The CD’s and DVD’s you create today are not infallible. I’ve placed a CD in my drive, and other drives, only to find that the data on it is inaccessible. I was lucky it was only some freeware I could download again, but it could just as easily have been photos.

So, you say that storing all those photos is starting to take up too much space? The moment you copy photos from your camera onto your computer, before you’ve deleted them from the memory card, look through them and weed out the pictures you do not want. This should not be hard for most folks, as even the pros shoot frame upon frame to get the “right” shot. This can save an enormous amount of space. If you do not do it right away, then you probably will not do it.

Once you have weeded out the pics you don’t want, make a second copy of the keepers somewhere (remember that backup I was talking about). Then, and only then, should you clear the memory card, and you should do that within the camera, not with your computer. Otherwise, you can end up with a card that the camera will not read correctly.

You can, of course, weed through the pictures in the camera, before you even copy them to the hard drive. If you have a large number of pictures, though, this can be fairly time-consuming and you cannot always tell from the small LCD whether a picture is a keeper.

Digital Video

Do you shoot digital video and then download it to your computer? If so, then all of the above apply, but deleting the parts you don’t want is trickier. You can use a video editor to cut them down, and then save the final cut onto the hard drive. Windows Movie Maker 2 (freely downloadable from Microsoft) is pretty good. Otherwise, use something like Pinnacle Studio or another of the products in that range. Mac users, you have the excellent iMovie. Enough said there.

Then, if you have the capability, output your edited video to DVD. Most modern DVD players will play DVD’s you make yourself, and it is a great way to share you videos. Remember, though, that your miniDV camera records an image that is higher quality than a DVD, so just paying someone to archive your tapes to DVD will result in quality loss. Many people do not know that.

I encourage you to keep the original, whether on tape or on the hard drive. If you keep every minute of all your originals on a hard drive, then you will start using up hard drive space very quickly. I recommend you keep the original tapes and just buy a new tape when you fill one. Sure, archive the best moments to avoid losing them to tape damage and/or degradation, but keep the original tapes, too. Until there is some inexpensive way of archiving the full-quality original, that seems the best way to do it.

This obviously is not meant as a comprehensive guide, but it was on my mind, and that’s why I have a blog.

The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful

Cable Car Fun in San Francisco
Wow. We hit 104 degrees here on Wednesday. A little thunderbanger blows through that night, and we get not one drop of rain. We wake up to a day with a high of 78 degrees, our first break from 100-degree heat in at least a month. It felt like San Francisco out there (only west coast city I’ve been to, so that’s why I mentioned it), only it was a little bit warmer. A slight breeze, actual temperature variance in the shade. I half expected a Rice-a-Roni cable car to stop and wait for me to jump on board. Wouldn’t give my wife the front spot this time, though (see pic). That was taken before we had a digital camera. See more of my San Francisco pics here, categorized. Muir Woods, Monterey Bay, etc.

Ben and I played outside for about an hour after I got home from work. If you’re watching reruns or playing video games instead of spending time with your child, then shame on you. If you don’t have a child, then stare at a screen if you want. We’re not supposed to hit above 90 in the next 10 days, and lows in the 60’s and 50’s. Okay, enough weather geekery.

I got 27 pages into An American Tragedy, but dropped it like a brick (which it resembles at 800+ pages) when I found a borrowed copy of Ringworld. I’m getting back into sci-fi after a long hiatus. Thanks to Simon of Space and its community of commenters for rekindling my love for the genre. It’s one thing to watch it on the silver screen, but quite another to read it. The movies generally sacrifice character depth for number of explosions. Oh, wait, that’s not just in sci-fi. ;-)

Plus, I’m stoked about sci-fi again because Ben says “rocketship” as plain as you please. There’s one on a set of his pajamas, but we don’t know where he heard the word.

Probably going to see the Serenity movie this weekend. It’s based on the short-lived but excellent TV series Firefly (Serenity is a Firefly-class cargo ship). I think sticking with the original name would have made it more attractive to the uninitiated than the other. Oh well. As they say on Seinfeld – Serenity now!

Have an excellent weekend, my faithul (if few) readers.