Bob and Joy
                                      
 
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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April 2005, Week 3 -- The Return of the Drugstore Photo Print

 

 

Fujifilm

   Whatever is old is new again, as several sages have observed over the years. You used to take your film to the drugstore and a few days later you picked up the prints.

  Fujifilm has gone that one better: You can email your pictures and pick up the prints at a lot of stores, 7,500 of them in fact, including Wal-Mart. Upload your digital photos to www.fujifilm.com/pictures  and you can usually pick them up from any of those locations in an hour. This is not going to be good news for the companies that are trying to sell us photo printers.

 

   The cost is 18 cents a print and there are no extra charges. Other online photo services are quickly getting into the action but have higher prices and don't provide the wide range of locations. Here's a current sample:

 

-- Ofoto (recently renamed Kodak Gallery) charges 25 cents a print, and tacks on $1.49 "convenience fee." You can only pick up prints from drugstores in the CVS chain. Check them out at www.ofoto.com

 

-- Snapfish www.snapfish.com was recently acquired by Hewlett Packard and is expected to offer a similar print pickup service. Check their web site for coming attractions.

 

   You can connect to the Fuji service and others quickly through Microsoft XP's "online print wizard." Just go to the "Start" menu and click on "My Photos." When your thumb-nail shots appear, so will your print options. One of those options allows you to immediately burn your pictures to a CD.

 

Now appearing at the Roxio

 

   "Easy Media Creator 7.5" is finally on the shelf. The wait has been worth it.

Easy Media Creator 7

   The program has been a market leader, but a laggard in processing time. It's very fast now. You can burn any digital material you want to a CD or DVD and switch between the various programs in the Roxio suite with a mouse click. The previous versions were so slow you spent most of your time waiting for applications to load.

   Pick a category: audio, video, photo, backup, etc., and choose from dozens of activities, from movie making to music editing. Audio files from tapes or LP records can be converted to digital format and burned to disk. You would use the "sound input" jack on your computer to bring in the analog sound from tapes and records.

 

   The new "media manager" component lets you go to, view and organize all your media files. You can take them in groups, making exposure corrections to a whole collection of photos at once, for instance. One click can remove "red eye" from all the pictures of people at the dance.

 

   Roxio has also tacked on a bunch of very handy programs they either purchased from other developers or cut a joint marketing deal. One is Photo Suite, a popular program developed by MGI and one of our favorites; we like to use it to make fake magazine covers as gifts for friends. Another is DVD Builder, from Sonic Software, It can capture video directly from a digital camcorder and burn it to disk; it also makes slide shows that are smooth and easy.

 

   If you click on "label creator" while burning a music disk, the label will be automatically populated with the song title, artist and track number. Selecting "Plug and Burn" copies unedited video directly to disk and allows you to add sound. The new "Audio Capture" utility lets you capture radio broadcasts and PBS (Public Broadcasting System) TV programs over the Internet and record them to an external disk or your hard drive. We went to "live365," clicked on classical, and immediately recorded a Mozart concert from Milan.

 

South Pacific

   You can use Easy Media Creator 7.5 for making backups as well as video and audio disks. These can be scheduled for regular backups and the disks can be password protected.

   There's lots going on here, and it makes CD and DVD disks as convenient to use as the old floppies. Creator 7.5 is $100 from the Roxio web site www.roxio.com, or $70 if you upgrading from any similar product.

Internuts

-- www.live365.com  Links to commercial-free radio stations around the world. Has listener ratings for most.

-- www.mapsouthpacific.com  Dreaming of a real getaway? Maps and guides to the islands of the South Pacific. (Say! That might be a good title for a musical.)

Cyber Spying

Books

   "Cyber Spying," by Fair, Nordfelt, Ring and Cole; $40, Syngress, www.oreilly.com.

   How to spy on just about anyone, using search engines and readily available software. Did you know that you can use Google to find web pages that have supposedly been erased? You can spy on people's email, look up criminal records, and tune into all those new wireless networks.

-- "101 Cool Smartphone Techniques," by Dean Andrews; $25, Wiley www.wiley.com.

SmartPhone techniques

   No doubt about it: The latest cell phones are smart, and they're getting smarter. They can now take pictures, contact your computer, view PowerPoint and Word files, access the web and TV programs, send text messages and, oh yeah, make phone calls. Send group messages in one swoop. This book covers tips and tricks for 60 cell phones from all the major makers. The author works for Nokia, by the way.

NOTE: Readers can search several years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at bobschwab@aol.com and Joy Schwabach at joydee@oncomp.com.