Monday, April 27, 2009

As If...

overhauling my genealogy database wasn't enough, (see The Oracle of OMcHodoy), my printer unit, which was also a scanner and copier, broke. Which translated into a new machine which translated into learning how to use that. Last night I downloaded a free trial of Photoshop Elements by Adobe and I spent part of this afternoon playing around with it. As if I had time to take on another major project.

Well, actually, I kind of do have time to take on another project, at least for now. I'm finishing up my last few days off work so I thought I'd try out this new photo editing program on a free trial basis. It will be a while before I can actually buy it if I decide to, but at least I'll have an idea on how use-able it is. After about 90 minutes of fussing with it, I think it's a great program. It doesn't look too incredibly user-friendly, but there is a lot you can do with it.

I do not like how it organizes photos it imports from your hard drive. It's rather Picasa-like and if you follow me at Facebook at all, you now know I hate Picasa's organization style. I do not, for the most part, like the "auto-fix" feature; it tends to change the original coloring of the photos as opposed to fine tune it. However, you'll see below a dramatic difference the auto-fix feature made on one photo, so it's not always bad.

Perhaps in a few months I'll splurge and buy this program. For now, I'll enjoy the 30 day trial and fight the impulse to buy now. Below, then are a few quick edits I'd made to two photos, the first using only the auto-fix feature on Adobe Photoshop Elements and the second using a touch of the "touch-up" tool and paintbrush.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

When it Rains...

It pours. I've been a bit off-kilter the past few weeks. Seems like everything goes at once. My body, the microwave, the printer/scanner. At least I can say they've all been fixed. I think.

This morning I did something I shouldn't have and purchased a new four-in-one printer/scanner/copier/fax. I'd done a little research and asked around a bit and finally decided on a Lexmark 9575, mainly because it was on sale for a really, really good price and had more features than the HP I was looking at. But nothing in life, I have learned, is easy. Well, setting up the unit was very easy, but getting it to actually print, well, not so much.

However, after having to damp-clean the brand new black cartridge (after wasting ink on three machine-cleanings and three alignment attempts), the print seems fixed. Now I get to play around a bit with the scanning feature so I can be prepared for tomorrow's Scanfest.

I scanned some images from my collection; three to be exact. It is automatically set to scan at 300 dpi (which can be changed) and once the scan is complete it offers the opportunity for some minor editing, which is good since I want three individual images, not one conglomerate. So I scan the tree images on the same scan and hit "Crop". I crop one of the photos and save.

YAYAY. Well, not quite. I can't find my way back to the scan image to crop the other two images. Not an option to be found. Nor can I find and automatically saved copy of the overall scan. I never needed that on the HP but it was always there. Now I need it with the Lexmark and can't find it! But I haven't given up yet.

I proceeded to rescan the images, this time trying to crop all three images at once. No go. Soon as I click on image number two to crop that one, the field to crop in image number one disappears. So I do what any intelligent woman would do: I open the user's guide and search for "Scan Multiple Images". There is such an option, so I read the instructions and find that on the "Simple Scan" Screen (not the default screen to which the program opens) you can select "Multiple Photos". So I did and repeated the editing process above to crop.

Only I still can't crop more than one of the images at a time and once I crop one I cannot get back to the screen that has all the images to crop the next one. I will have to explore this more after dinner.

In the meantime, here is a comparison for me and for you (for me as I haven't looked at the two images side-by-side yet either). The photo on the left is the image I have from my old HP scanner. The image on the right is the same image from the new Lexmark scanner.

The bottom image is the same photo scanned on the Lexmark unit with "Sepia" added on the advanced editing screen. The first one, scanned from the HP, is the coloring of the actual photo, and, oddly, was scanned at a dpi of 200 since I didn't know when I originally scanned it that I could change that. The Lexmark scans at a default of 300 dpi. I'm not liking that scanned image off the Lexmark has different coloring than the original.

I haven't played around much with the editing on the second scan, and there are settings available to change the saturation, so maybe that will help. Just seems to me that the image should be scanned and portrayed as is and leave the editing to the person doing the scanning.

Does anyone in Blogville own this unit? Any ideas? I hope to play around with it a lot tomorrow, as I may be able to exchange it if I don't like it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Blogging Prompt #13: Expertise

Several bloggers take advantage of common subjects to post about, known as a Blogging Prompt. This 13th edition asks one to talk about an area of expertise one might have. Well, my area is quite unique, I must say.

It's been said (by someone, I'm sure) that everyone is an expert on something. As luck and Murphy would have it, my area of expertise is on such an important topic as dog poop.

You heard me right. Dog poop.

When I adopted Izzie almost three years ago, he wound up being sick. On his second day home with me, he was pooping blood. I won't describe the rest of the poop's appearance; suffice it to say it wasn't what I expected to see even coming out the other end of this cutie pie. Over the course of the next six months we (me and his vet and the internist vet at the Specialty Center) poked, prodded and scoped my poor baby from both ends and determined that he had Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). We tried to manage it with diet. As many a child had said in a sick kind of game, "Diarrhea Diarrhea....". We tried managing it with low doses of metronidazole (basically, flagyl), which helped his poop. But he was still tossing food out his mouth, so we added prednisone. Two and a half years later, he's stable on the two meds and a Royal Canin hypoallergenic diet.

So, if any of you genealogists have any questions about dog poop, I urge you to ask me. Go ahead, make my day!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I'm B-A-A-A-A-C-C-K!

What better time to get back to blogging than a Randy Seaver Saturday Night Fun post? Okay, I know it's Sunday night, but I spent all day yesterday raking up the thatch in my back yard and all day today chasing down the perfect frame for my dog Izzie's portrait (Can be seen HERE). Not to mention that I had to re-arrange several photographs to accommodate Izzie's! So I'm exhausted, and quite sore from the raking to be honest. So I'm a day late.

Randy challenged GeneaBloggers to show off their genealogy working space. I challenged our group to do that quite some time ago, with the following results from my space:

I was very proud of my cleaning results.

Now, lest you think my work space is always so pristine, here's what it looks like today:
I am usually snacking when I'm at my computer. Tonight it's popcorn and water. My scanner is also used as a shelf for papers and light-weighted objects. Probably not a good idea. The door to the tower cabinet won't close because it was easier to plug in the speaker to the front USB port than the back so I can switch it with my Skype headset if need be. I forget I have that. To the left is a plastic storage unit for paper, scrapbook stuff that is wasting away (if I ever do scrapbook, it's digital anyway), and a gazillion USB & other computer related cords I no longer know to what they belong!

I love the windows in this room for aesthetic reasons and for a pleasant work environment. They look out onto the street. I had to put a towel over the top crescent-shaped window because it gets blasting hot in here when the sun hits it. It's too expensive to get custom drapes or shades for a rented house so a towel matching my color scheme suffices. Atop the TV is the outer packaging from one of the frames I bought today. Why is it there, you ask? To keep Izzie away from it. He loves cardboard.
And here's my beloved bookcase, of which I wish I'd purchased another. On the top shelf are my genealogy related magazines, my research binders, and my maternal digital scrapbook. Why the card table resting against the bottom? To keep Izzie away from the bottom two shelves that he can reach. He loves books.

Inside these closed closet doors is a filing cabinet, some winter clothes I just put away, lots of old textbooks, a piano/keyboard, and "stuff" to keep out of sight. Why the closed doors, given there are some genealogy-related things in there? To keep Izzie away from it. He loves "stuff".

Finally, you might ask why there was no chair in front of the computer desk? You got it: To keep Izzie away from the desk when I'm not sitting at it. He loves popcorn. And pencils. And paper...