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Computing With Bifocals
by Nancy Carroll Gravley

A column for people who remember what
the world was like before there was color.....




Letters
July 12th, 2000

Mac Logos

Reader Kathi Ganong wrote this past week asking about a web address from a previous column. The column was published in July of 1999 and when Kathi tried to access a recommended web address she found it was no longer available. She wanted to find the cool Mac logos I had recommended in that particular column. I found another address that she can use, and as is often the case, this new one offers more than the first. If you want to find logos you can also check them out at this site. This location includes 100 different logos as well as linking to other sites. Kathi's note reminds me of something I want to mention. Unlike print media, the internet is a fickle friend. Sites can come and go quickly and for no apparent reason. Usually the reason has to do with money because the web masters have to pay for their web sites. Sometimes creators can find sponsors or hook onto their work web site, but usually the only option is cold, hard, cash. Because of that, it is helpful to download items that you may want to access again.

Eliminating Background on Web Pages

Another reader wrote to comment on my personal web page. Each page on my site has a different background featuring lots of nifty accessories. This is all fine and dandy for most people, but this particular reader has vision problems related to an illness and he found the background features to be a hindrance. It is possible to disengage the backgrounds when using either Netscape or Internet Explorer. This can also be a handy technique for users with very slow computers or slow internet connections. Disengaging the backgrounds will speed up the process.

When using Netscape:

Choose Preferences from the Edit Pulldown Menu.


Click for a larger view

(This View is From Netscape 4.7. A Different Version May Look Different)

 

  1. Go To Advanced
  2. Deselect "Automatically Load Images"
  3. Click OK

Until such a time that you once again choose to automatically load images by activating that option, they will not download. A nice touch to this is that if you are at a site and you want to see a particular image you can open it by clicking on the spot where it would be.

When Using Explorer:

Choose Preferences from the Edit Pulldown Menu.


Click for a larger view
(This View is From Internet Explorer 5. A Different Version May Look Different)

  1. Go To Web Content.
  2. Deselect "Show Pictures," "Animate Gifs," "Allow page to specify fonts," and/or "Allow page to specify colors"
  3. Click OK

Again, these options will remain off until you choose to select them again. On Explorer I was able to view any individual image when I clicked on the spot where that image would be. The exception was when I clicked on an image that was linked (such as a photo). That would not open.

Digital Cameras

Reader Vicki Bennett wrote to ask about digital cameras. It seems she just signed up for a new internet service and she will receive a digital camera as a promotion from the company. Although I have heard the term I didn't know anything about them either so I went searching on the internet. At this point, although I am writing about them, I have yet to actually use one so the following can be considered theory.

Digital photography begins with capturing images in a digital format. We can do that by taking photographs with a film camera and then scanning the slides, negatives, or prints. According to the literature it is much faster and easier to capture those images with a digital camera. This figures, since I just bought a scanner. I guess it will be out of date in a week and a half.

Digital photographs are made up of hundreds of thousands or millions of tiny squares called picture elements - or just pixels. The computer and printer can use these tiny pixels to display or print photographs. To do so, the computer divides the screen or printed page into a grid of pixels. It then uses the values stored in the digital photograph to specify the brightness and color of each pixel in this grid - a form of painting by number. Controlling, or addressing a grid of individual pixels in this way is called bit mapping and most digital images are called bit-maps. If you try to enlarge these pixels too much, the individual squares will start to show. I have come across this phenomena a number of time when making counted cross-stitch patterns from images so I know what it looks like.

 
 
 
 Normal Image of a Dog's Eye
 
Enlargement of The Same Image

While doing this research I came across some fairly compelling reasons for considering a digital camera.

  1. Going digital saves you money in the long run because you don't have to buy film or pay for development.
  2. It saves you time because you don't have to make two trips to the store to drop off and then pick up your pictures.
  3. Digital cameras instantly show you how your pictures look so you'll no longer have those disappointments a day or two later when your film is developed.
  4. You can view images before they are printed and if you don't like what you see, edit them to perfection or delete them.
  5. Digital photography doesn't use the toxic chemicals that often end up flowing down the drain and into our streams, rivers, and lakes.
  6. No more waiting to finish a roll before having it processed. (Or wasting unexposed film when you can't wait.)

All of this sounds very interesting, but it still doesn't tell me what I have to know to use a digital camera and I think that is what Vicki was really asking. I think it can be summarized as follows.

Digital cameras are very much like a traditional 35 mm camera. Both contain a lens, an aperture, and a shutter. The big difference is how they capture the image. Instead of film, digital cameras use a solid-state device called an image sensor. All of the calculations necessary to take and process a picture in a digital camera are performed by microprocessors similar to the one in our computers. Once you take photos with your digital camera they lie dormant until you download them to a computer. In the simplest format, relating to a Mac, this would mean having a digital camera with a USB plug that you could attach to your Mac just as you would attach a scanner, or an external floppy drive. I have not found any information that leads me to believe that digital cameras will work on Mac's that are not USB connected. Special software (included with your new camera) is also required to make a digital camera work. Another required component, if you plan to edit your photos, will be software applications such as Graphic Converter or Adobe Photoshop. I have written about Graphic Converter a number of times and you can find it referenced in the Index linked at the end of each of my columns. I frequently recommend Graphic Concerter to new users because it is easier to use and cheaper than the professional oriented Photoshop.

I hope this brief overview helps. Obviously every camera will be different and when all else fails, one can read the directions.

If you have any tips, suggestions, or other comments about this, or any other Mac topics, send them to me so that I can share them with other readers.


Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions  for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping.   To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.


Post your comments below.
Check out Nancy's complete index of all her columns for the most complete list of tips anywhere. The list is categorized and is a great reference when you are looking for help!

A Capacious Catalog Of Computer Tips

Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color, covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.

Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.


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