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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.....

OneApp Slide Show Reviewed & More On Computer Eye Strain
February 17th, 2000

There is a new software application on the market for making slide shows. It is a totally cool program, easy to use and fun, although it does have one minor limitation. If you are a long term reader you may remember that I have discussed slide show applications before. In that column I talked about all the reasons one might enjoy knowing how to create slide shows. I noted: "For instance, do you have a beloved child or grandchild getting married this summer? How about a special slide show to present at a shower or at the reception that shows the bride or groom (or both) from childhood to the day of their wedding. How about an end of summer barbecue with all your vacation shots from Tahiti? O.K., maybe for you it is Chicago not Tahiti, but you get the idea. Do you have a family reunion or a school reunion coming up? Think of the possibilities!"

This new program is easy to use while having more options than programs I previously reviewed and the technical assistance I sought was quick and responsive. I have created a sample slide show for your viewing pleasure so that you can get a quick overview of the quality of the product. You can download the file, unstuff it, and click on "Nancy's Demo Slide Show" to get it going.

I made this slide show with OneApp Slide Show 5.2.6, a product of OneApp Software. It is available in English, Dutch, and Italian versions and sells for US$25. It operates on Macintosh, Power Macintosh (including iMacs). System requirements include Mac OS 7.1 or later, and QuickTime 3.0 or later. You can download a trial copy of OneApp Slide Show from the home page listed above or from The Mac Observer's Version Master. The download includes a user manual. QuickTime 3.0, which is an application that allows you to view motion pictures, is available free from Apple.

What It Is

OneApp Slide Show is a slide show and presentation tool for multimedia files, QuickTime movies, and sounds and images. General highlights of OneApp Slide Show include:

  • You can personalize the presentation with colored backgrounds or patterns, use a soundtrack during presentation, and display the names of the images and movies that are shown.
  • It works well with several other graphic packages such as QuickTime Movies and will take all the main graphic formats such as JPEG, TIFF, Pict, Photoshop, PNG, MacPaint, GIF, animated GIF, Windows Bitmap BMP and SGI.
  • You can create easy to use projections that can be distributed as standalone applications using Zip disks, or CD-ROMS. Regular style 3.5 x 3.5 floppies won't work.

Choose Your Slides

There are a number of different kinds of presentations you can do with this application, depending on your skill, experience, and interest. For this column we are going to keep it on my level and do the simplest activity which is a basic slide show.

The first step, obviously, is to choose or create your slides. I choose to create .JPG files, but .GIF will work just as well. If you are simply using photos that have previously been saved to your computer or items downloaded from the internet, it is very easy to save them as .JPG documents. Chances are they are already in that format. (The subject of downloading and saving documents is discussed in the columns from December 23, 1998 and July 14, 1999.) When I made my sample slides I added words to each picture so I created them in my word processing program, printed them, and scanned them. Then I saved those scanned documents as .JPG files. (Documents can be scanned professionally at most jiffy style copy outlets if you don't have access to a scanner.) You can be as creative as you wish, depending on the capabilities of the software at your disposal and your own skill. Save all your slides in a folder, doing so will save you extra steps later.

The User Manual

The user manual gives a broad, easy to understand overview along with specific directions.

Create the Slide Show

When you first open up the OneApp Slide Show you will see this image.

Set Up Page for Slide Show

The goal is to list each slide in its own folder on the work page(s). First you click on the icon on the far left, next to the little folder icon. That just tells the application that you are entering a slide there.

Then open the folder you previously created that contains all your selected slides. Click once on the one you want to go first and then click on OPEN. The slide will automatically appear in the box designated for the first slide.

Sample of Step Two - Selecting the First Slide

Sample of Step Three - The First Slide is Ready to Go

You will see a little wastebasket icon and a check box at the right of the name of each file or folder. The wastebasket icon lets you delete a file or a folder from a presentation. The check box, on the other hand, allows you to include or exclude a file or a folder from the presentation. If the box is not checked, OneApp Slide Show will simply ignore that file or folder during presentation.

You can move a file or a folder to another position in the presentation. Simply drag its name, and drop it into the new position by releasing the mouse button. If you want to make a copy of it, keep the Option key pressed while releasing the mouse button. Keep going until you have entered all your slides. There are five pages which allows you to use up to 100 slides.

Dress It Up

The last step in the development process is to identify your Presentation Preferences. Click on the bar at the bottom of the page so labeled and make the choices necessary for each of the three pages. For instance, indicate if you want the show to continuously loop or go through one round and stop. You can also add music or vocals to your presentation. In next week's column I will go into detail about how find, adjust, and load music or sound (this gives me another week to make sure I understand it myself!)

Save It

When you have everything set to your satisfaction, go to the File pull-down menu and choose either Save or Create Standalone. If you are creating a standalone document your slide show file and each slide must be saved in one folder as must your music or other vocal selection.

Show It

There are two options available to you for showing your slide show. The first is to save it to your computer and then transport your computer to where the show will be viewed. This is probably the most reasonable solution for one time events such as a wedding reception, retirement party, or a craft display. If you have selected the option of continuous loop then you just start the show by clicking on the OneApp Slide Show icon and walk away.

The second option available to you for showing your slide show is the Standalone presentation. With this option you can save the slide show folder (and all it's contents) to a zip disk or a CD. Even a simple slide show is too large to try and use a regular 3.5 x 3.5 floppy. Once the presentation is saved it can be handed out or mailed to others for viewing. I would think that mostly this would be useful in a commercial endeavor, but think what a creative invitation you could make for a high school reunion or other large and important event. For this kind of thing you will want to save the show to a CD because while many people can play CDs on their computer, most people don't have zip drives. The catch here is that if you don't have the proper equipment to "burn" CDs then you will have to pay someone to copy them for you. Before you get too excited about this though, it is necessary to consider the one limitation to this excellent application. You can only send CDs to people who have Mac computers. Well, actually you can send them to anyone you want to, but only those with Mac’s will be able to open and view them. By e-mail the company told me the following: “Currently we haven’t a PC version available. Unfortunately the application and standalones created work only on Mac and we have no plans to port it on PC.” This was very disappointing to me, but the reality is that an application capable of working on both platforms would probably be financially prohibitive for the average user. Just because I am stuborn, I tried e-mailing a copy of the standalone show, including the individual slides, to a friend who uses a PC. She was able to download the documents just fine, but could not open and view them. If you have any interest in working with these kinds of applications I strongly recommend that you give this one a try.

Follow Up Stuff From Other Columns

Last week's discussion of eye strain brought several informative letters from readers. David Crandon, a Doctor of Optometry noted that computer eyestrain is a common problem; estimates are that up to 70-80% of computer users experience symptoms of visually related strain and that up to 25% of visits to an optometrist are for the same thing. "A separate pair of "computer" glasses is always the best choice. Computer glasses do differ from reading glasses though. Generally speaking, in bifocals and single vision reading glasses we focus the lenses for use about 16 inches away. That's the average distance at which people read and write. However, most monitors are 20-26 in away. The power needs to be reduced accordingly." He notes that "for some patients we will prescribe bifocals, with the top set for monitor distance and the bottom for reading and writing." Dr. Crandon agreed with me that most people's eyes are not the same power as each other which means that across the counter reading glasses will not help.

He also noted that most people need a small correction for astigmatism. "One of the most common sources of eye strain are small amounts of uncorrected astigmatism". Dr. Crandon encourages anyone who uses a computer routinely to check with their eye care professional to assure not only that they have a correct prescription, but that they also are free of eye disease of any kind. He reinforced my suggestion that monitors should be set at eye level or below. "The higher the monitor is, the more the eye has to open to look up, the more exposed the eyes are to the air, the drier they get." He also said that as a user you want to eliminate reflections in the surface of the screen. "Turn the screen off and see what's reflecting in it. Try to position the screen to eliminate any reflections. If you can't, as a last resort, buy an anti reflection screen that has the seal of the American Optometric Association on it. If you have one of those old anti reflection screens made out of "window screen" material, get rid of it immediately."

Martin J. Koning Bastiaan, Senior Scientist & Development Manager for the Center for Distributed Learning also took the time to write. Much of the information that Mr. Bastiaan included is covered by Dr. Crandon, but he also provided a great explanation of why computer eye strain occurs. "The human eye is great at seeing contrast, but the computer screen is pixelated -- the pixels are brighter in the middle than on the edges, so everything is fuzzy. Your eyes cannot focus on a computer screen properly, so will rest at a point behind the screen (this is called a lag of accommodation). Your eyes (and mine, and everyone else's) will constantly want to drift out to the resting point, causing us to have to strain to remain focused on the screen. After a time, our eyes will get really tired. What causes eyestrain is this constant struggle to remain focused on the computer screen in front of us." I really appreciate this easy to understand explanation. Mr. Bastiaan and other writers also recommended a new kind of eyeglass lens that is now available specifically for computer users. I am going to see what I can find out about it and will cover it soon.

There were other letters from readers that contain excellent information, but they will have to wait until next week. Please come back as we cover those suggestions and get into the whole sound thing.

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.

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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!

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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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