Bob and Joy
                                      
 
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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February 2006, Week 3 -- Online Storage

Media Max


   Streamload.com is a Web site that has been around a long time as a provider of online storage. Now it's added a new user-friendly site called MediaMax, and it's free.

   When you sign up at www.mediamax.com you get a set of lockers. There's a locker for photos, two for video, one for music, and then mail and file management. The site has a tagging feature that lets you link items in different lockers. So, for instance, you can create a tag called "Timbuktu" to link the photos, videos and notes about your trip to Timbuktu.
   
     An interesting result we noticed when uploading video is that the site displays the video in frames. This answers a problem a number of readers have voiced, which is, what if you want just a single shot from a video? Here you can easily pick any frame you like and save that as a single shot. You can, of course, also view the whole video in normal continuous mode.
   
     Other people can view the contents of your online lockers if you send them an e-mail with a link to the files. If you wish, you can require a password. All this is free, as long as your storage requirements don't exceed 25 GB (gigabytes). That's a lot of storage and should easily be adequate for most users.
   
     For larger storage and some additional services, the site charges $10 a month. For this you get 10 times the storage space (250 gigabytes) and can send files of any size, even high-definition video (HDTV).
   
     This is a great way to handle very large files. You would upload a file once, and then send each person a link and a password. They then have to input only the password and click on the link to download the file.
   

 

A Bigger and Better Print Shop

 

 

Printshop 21

   The Print Shop is probably the oldest continuously shipped software in the known universe. We first reviewed it 25 years ago. It still carries the Broderbund label, though Broderbund was sold long ago. Despite this ancient lineage, the latest version, The Print Shop Deluxe 21, is very up-to-the-minute and a great program.
 
   Along with 320,000 images and 17,500 templates for creating cards, brochures, newsletters and all that stuff, there's a new PDF feature. You can save anything you create -- any file at all -- in PDF format, so that anyone with Adobe's free Reader can receive and open it, and see it exactly as it was created. The software is also compatible with 200 Avery label sizes, the standard for mailing, shipping and business cards.
   
     You can adjust the transparency level of images, so another image can be viewed through the veil of a top image. You can adjust the spacing between text characters, called "kerning" in the printing trade, and you can flip text and images. You can even resize images to fit just right on a cell phone screen.
   
     Pricing on The Print Shop 21 is $50 from www.broderbund.com. But this brings up a point we've noticed about all software. By going to eBay, we found the previous Print Shop version for less than $4.
   
     eBay rules! This is the place to go for just about any discontinued software. We recommended eBay to a reader who wondered whatever became of Math Blaster, a once popular math teaching program for children that has been out of print for many years. She found it there for $2, and some versions were selling for as little as 50 cents.
   
  Fitting Photos
   
     A reader who said he was fit to be tied about fitting lots of photos on a page, sent us on a search for better "contact sheets." This is how it used to be done: Film was cut into strips and laid on top or under a sheet of photo print paper. Turn on the light and "contact!" -- you got tiny pictures of everything on the film.
   
 Photoshop Album    But it's all digital these days, so we turned first to one of our favorites, Microsoft's Digital Image Suite 2006. It was a cinch to print a sheet of thumbnails, as they're now called, with white space between each row. Just click "Print Index Sheet" from the "File" menu. Unfortunately, you can't put a caption on the white space. You have to put it on the photo first. You could also make a collage out of photos of different sizes, with no white space.
   
     Next, we turned to Adobe Photoshop Album Starter, which is free at www.adobe.com. Just by selecting the photos you want and clicking "Print" from the "File" menu, you can print up to 81 pictures in rows and columns, with or without captions in the white space below the photo. The photos, however, are centered in each row. You can't make them line up evenly if they're unequal sizes.
   
Photo Cool    Last, we tried a new program called PhotoCool; it's $30 from Sunrise Software (www.ussun.com). This was easy to use and a perfect solution.
 
   As soon as you drag a picture from the photo well on the left-hand side of the screen onto a blank page on the right-hand side, a layout menu pops up. This lets you choose how many rows and columns of pictures you want and how much white space you want in between. You can right-click a file name under each photo and change it to a caption.
 
     This was great, and if this is all you want, it's a good choice. Unfortunately, the rest of the program was nothing much. This fits a pattern we've often seen: Some programs excel at a particular feature.

 


 

 

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.