Our January guide to digital photography and some of the cool things you can do with iPhoto drew all kinds of reader mail. Beyond the simple thank-you notes, many of those missives included suggestions for even more photo-based gift ideas, including (believe it or not) putting a picture of you and your pooch on a miniature Milk-Bone box. What’s the cleverest or weirdest thing you’ve done with a digital photo? Let us know by
sending an e-mail.
Old photos, new tricks
—Amazing coincidence: just last night I spent nearly an hour cursing PhotoWorks and its cool but hard-to-use interface. (I even went so far as to fire up my PC to see whether PhotoWorks worked any better on that platform. While there were some slight improvements, the interface was still troublesome.) Then tonight I opened the January
to “Digital Photography Help Desk” (
) and its sidebar about how to turn photos into cards, “In the Cards,” and read that you’d had the same problems. I only hope that the results are ultimately as good as you say they are.
—About your suggestion to use Automator to make a poster out of dozens of iPhoto photographs: I love that you got Automator to do the job. But I think your readers should know that this is not a new idea: Mike Matas, now of Apple Computer, posted instructions for doing the same thing
more than a year ago. His instructions also included some cool suggestions, such as inserting a panoramic photograph in the poster for visual variety. Still, thanks for the workflow.
—Thanks for the tip about using Kodak EasyShare Gallery to get printed calendars. I accessed the site on the evening of Friday, December 16, and had my calendars in hand on Thursday, December 22. Even better, they’re beautiful. They’re the best personal calendars I’ve seen in the eight or so years I’ve been going this route (in the past I’ve used a neighborhood print shop and Staples). Keep up the great work. I look forward to your magazine each month.
—I enjoyed your article about how to make gifts out of digital photos. May I make one other suggestion? Dog lovers may want to check out our site,
www.onthepackage.com, which allows them to put pictures of their dogs on actual miniature Milk-Bone boxes.
Noisy Power Macs
—As the considerably disappointed owner of a 10-month-old Power Mac (my eighth Mac), I could not believe your review of the latest Power Macs (
): while reporting that the new dual-core models use “the same elaborate thermal-management system” as their single-core forebears, you neglected to mention the problems users have had with noisy fans in desktop Macs. Apple might have used the release of these latest Macs as an opportunity to fix their cooling systems, but apparently it has decided to leave them the same. If that’s the case, forget about using one of these new machines for anything that requires low ambient noise, such as dubbing voice-overs for a Final Cut project.
—In his review of the new video-ready iPods (
), Christopher Breen said that when he ripped his DVDs to one of the new iPods and then watched the video on a TV, the quality was akin to a VCR’s. I experienced the same thing when I used the H.264 codec at a resolution of 320 by 240. But then I tried using MPEG-4 at higher resolutions, and I found that doing so resulted not only in relatively small files (under 1GB for a two-hour movie) but also in quality closer to that of the original DVD when the video is viewed on a TV or computer screen.
—I’d like to add another note to Franklin N. Tessler’s comments about the use of laptops as desktop machines (“Laptop Ergonomics,”
). Since I started wearing bifocal lenses about 12 years ago, I’ve found that using a laptop can actually be more comfortable than using a desktop. With a standard desktop monitor in a standard desktop configuration, I find that I have to tilt my head back in order to use the “reading” portion of my bifocals to read the screen. With a laptop and a separate keyboard, however, the laptop screen is lower and at just the right angle to let me see the screen clearly without tilting my head.
—In your article about laptop ergonomics, you had an illustration that made me cringe. It shows a PowerBook on an airplane tray, with its screen poised to be crushed by the seat in front if that seat’s occupant decides to recline. I feel safer tilting the screen forward a little so that the tray recess won’t catch the screen, even if doing so compromises screen quality. You also suggested resting the laptop on a stack of magazines in order to raise its screen to an appropriate height. This is an interesting idea, but I don’t know where I’d get such a stack of magazines on a flight or where I’d put them if I had to move the laptop temporarily (to get into my bag, for example, or to get out of my seat). As an alternative, I slide the laptop toward me and tilt the screen up so that when I look down, the viewing angle is good. I also recline my seat to lower my head. (But I check with the person behind me first, to be sure I’m not crushing his or her screen.)
Bullets that don’t bite
—David Sawyer McFarland wrote an interesting article about getting customized bullets using CSS (“CSS Tricks for Custom Bullets,”
). While I’ll agree his approach is nice and allows more customization, he seems to have overlooked the simple
property, which can change the bullets for list items much more easily. If you just want all the list items to have the same bullet, and you’re tired of circles and discs,
is the way to go.
What’s not hot
—“What’s Hot” has been on the back page for quite some time, but I think it’s as entertaining as a piece of drywall. It wasn’t funny when it started, and it isn’t funny now. Please use the space for more
items or, better yet, a good Macintosh pundit who can make that back page a destination in your magazine. “What’s Hot” is killing me—and not in a good way.
Keep the iPods
—It’s human nature that people with complaints are more likely to write a letter than those with praise—hence the disproportionate number of letters complaining about
’s coverage of the iPod. But before you go and change the content of your magazine, I want to make sure you know that I’m perfectly happy with your coverage of the iPod, as well as of digital cameras, printers, and other Mac peripherals. I’m getting a wealth of information about products I purchase that are an important part of my Mac world.