El Kaiser gets his feelings hurt by Facebook but composes himself long enough to bring you another Tech Term segment and J.D. takes a look at Apple’s new Photos app. It replaces iPhoto but all is not lost if you prefer the skeumorphic magic of the fruit-themed toymaker’s original photo organizer and editor. In the news Google modifies its search algorithm; Twitter steps up efforts to fight online abuse; and the new Star Wars trailer hits us all right in the feels.
Apple released an update for Yosemite earlier this month, and this new OS X 10.10.3 boots the crusty, trusty old iPhoto program out of the Dock to make room for a new app simply called Photos for OS X. (The new software is also intended to replace Aperture, Apple’s higher-end management tool for professional photographers.) To start using it, just click the new rainbow Photos icon in the Dock and walk through the Welcome and Setup screens Apple has provided to get your Mac’s existing pictures introduced to Photos for OS X.
So how is Photos for OS X the same — or different — from iPhoto?
If you use iOS 8, the new Photos for OS X visually looks quite similar. Same white background and borderless thumbnail images. Same browsing by groupings known as Moments, Collections and Years. Same importing powers to pull all the images off your camera card, phone or tablet into the computer’s picture library.
If you turn it on, though, there’s now online syncing and storage between your computer and iOS devices with the iCloud Photo Library in the sky. These photos are stored in your iCloud account at their original size and resolution too, so there’s so inferior quality for the uploaded versions. But remember, big photos mean big file sizes and that free 5 gigabytes of space you get with an iCloud account will get eaten up a lot faster. So you may want to acquaint yourself with Apple’s price list for additional iCloud storage.
iPhoto devotees who need to supply steady pictures of grandchildren to eager grandparents may be relieved to know you can still create photo books and other picture gifts through the new Photos program. You also have new printing options for square and panoramic shapes.
You can move around your library and navigate using the Photos, Shared, Albums, and Projects tabs at the top of the screen, And yes, you still have the cropping, color-adjustment tools, filters and other photo-editing sliders to make your pictures look better. Finding and using the tools just may take a little extra effort at first.
Apple did throw a few features overboard to make way for the new stuff. For example, although your ratings are preserved for older photos, you can’t apply star ratings to pictures anymore and have to make do with the Favorites heart.
But what about the people who hate change, forced upgrades or having to hang ten on the learning curve? Even though the update sticks a Photos icon in your dock — and removes iPhoto or Aperture from view — the actual programs are still in your Mac’s Applications folder. If you choose to go back and dig up your old editor, the Mac asks if you want to open your library there or in the Photos app. Keep in mind that any changes or edits you make in iPhoto or Aperture do not appear in Photos, and vice versa.
iPhoto was getting a little long in the tooth, and those of you with large picture libraries probably had some issues with sluggishness. So even though the user interface is pretty different, give it a try first. Apple even has a quick-start guide on its site to help you through the transition.
And if you hate it? Off to the Applications folder to dig out your old mothballed program of choice.
This week on a super-sized edition of the best geek culture web radio show on the planet we answer a question from a longtime listener who is about to make the dramatic leap from a Windows PC to a shiny new Mac. J.D. and El Kaiser offer suggestions on how to make the transition painless.
In the news, Apple edges closer to official i-branded wearable tech; a forensic scientist and hacker claims there are a slew of attack points, system backdoors and surveillance mechanisms purposely built into iOS devices; The Electronic Frontier Foundation has developed its own browser plug-in that prevents third party online snoops; Facebook tests new “buy now” and “save for later” features; The FCC closes out the first round of public comments on its proposed new rules for Net Neutrality; Samsung gets into the luxury headphone game; and The Simpsons get the marathon treatment.
So, after all these years, you’ve decided to leave the familiar Windows PC behind and switch to the Mac. Whether it be corporate migration, fear and annoyance with Windows 8/ditching Windows XP (at last), or just the need for a change, the process isn’t as drastic as it used to be. Let’s break it down: After you get the new Mac, you have three basic steps to make it feel like home.
Step 1: Move Your Stuff
You can physically schlep your files from the PC to Mac in a number of ways, including copying folders and files to an external hard drive for a SneakerNet transfer, or moving them over a network. But Apple, wanting to make PC refugees as happy as possible, has its own free Windows Migration Assistant program (shown below) and detailed instructions for using it on its site. The Assistant moves basic stuff like contacts, calendar info, mail accounts, browser bookmarks and more — but not Windows programs. (These won’t run on OS X anyway unless you get fancy, as we’ll discuss in a bit.)
You can also use the Migration Assistant to move files and folders. Common file formats, like JPG photo files, text files and unprotected MP3 audio files work well on both platforms. The Assistant can even put your pictures into the free iPhoto program that comes with the Mac, but if you prefer other photo-editing and organizer programs like Google’s Picasa or Adobe Photoshop Elements, there are OS X versions to download or buy.
Likewise, if you need Microsoft Office, you can either buy the Mac version, use Office 365 or get one of the various other programs out there that can open and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Apple’s iWork productivity suite is now free with every new Mac and can handle a lot of Office chores.
Apple’s iTunes program can’t plan Windows Audio Media files, but iTunes can convert unrestricted WMA files to iTunes-friendly formats. If you were using iTunes for Windows, you can transfer all your ripped and purchased iTunes content between computers.
Many apps and services are cross-platform — Dropbox, Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon’s Kindle Reader, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and so on. You can download new versions from the sites themselves. The Mac App Store may also have useful software.
The bummer for most people is that PC games will not work on the Mac and the Mac has never quite caught up with Windows in that area. (Some say Macs are getting better for games, though, and Steam might help ease the pain of PC-game withdrawal.)
Step 2: Get to Know Mac OS X
Let’s face it, over the years, both Windows and OS X have gotten similar: Taskbar/Dock, Programs/Applications folder, Recycle Bin/Trash Can — navigating the desktop is not that hard to do anymore between the two systems. Mac keyboard shortcuts may differ, as well as the placement of desktop icons, but these are often minor things to relearn.
Apple’s site has tons of basic info about getting used to Mac OS X and even an “On Windows, I used to…” page. Many people around the Web have posted their personal tales of switching from PC to Mac. Resources abound online, so read up.
Step 3: Fine-Tuning, Workarounds and … Windows on a Mac?
Once you get your stuff moved over and become somewhat used to navigating the Mac interface, you’ll probably find some things you need to tweak. You may also find you need some programs that just aren’t available for the Mac.
As for the tweaking, the Mac OS comes with a ton of printer drivers already installed, but you may need to snag more obscure ones or utility software from the manufacturer’s site. Many new Macs don’t include disc drives or Ethernet jacks anymore, so if you need these, external add-ons are available. Of course, you’ll want to get a backup drive for your system, but you get free backup software with Mac OS X called Time Machine.
If there are some Windows programs you still need to use, you have options. Programs like Citrix will let you tap into some Windows servers and systems virtually from your Mac. Apple’s free Boot Camp software (below) basically lets you partition your Mac’s drive and carve out space to install a copy of Windows side-by-side on the same machine. Virtualization software like the $80 Parallels Desktop can also run Windows on your Mac, but without all that partitioning business. Note that you do have to buy the copy of Windows, however. (Microsoft software sold separately. Void where prohibited. Your mileage may vary.)
After years of Windows, it may take a few weeks to get used to OS X — especially if you’ve never used a Mac, but go on in and get comfortable. To help you relax, check out these OS X Easter Eggs left by kindly Apple software engineers. You can play a round of Tetris, see the legendary Mrs. Field’s cookie recipe — and if you miss it from Windows — watch the ASCII version of Star Wars over a Telnet connection in the Mac’s Terminal window. Feels like home already now, doesn’t it? And if it doesn’t…well, Windows 9 is due out next year!
El Kaiser makes a difficult confession: he’s traded in his first person shooters for crushing candy and fuming feathered friends.
Throwback Thursdays on Twitter and Facebook have people digging through their old photo albums but if your old snapshots haven’t held up too well over the years J.D. has tips for how to spruce them up.
In the news the onslaught of the Electronic Entertainment Expo gets underway in Los Angeles; Apple unveils a new headphone standard; Sony debuts its new PlayStation TV; Amazon integrates Audible audiobook lineup into the Kindle ebook app; Google gets into the satellite game by acquiring of Skybox Imaging; Netflix and Verizon continue their corporate slapfight; and Wired magazine dredges up old Star Trek misfires.
You’ve heard of the Facebook tradition of Throwback Thursday, right? That ol’ #TBT? If not, Throwback Thursday is the day you upload an old picture of yourself on your profile page to illustrate the passage of time (and your hairstyle history). The practice has sent a lot of people back to ancient photo albums, slide carousels and snapshot shoeboxes to dig out some of their less-embarrassing pics to post.
As you may have noticed, however, old photos and slides often fade over time, or the color distorts to odd casts — especially if the original media hasn’t exactly been stored in archival conditions in the first place. Sure, maybe you can pass off the weirdness as an Instagram filter, but maybe you’d rather accept the challenge, clean up the photo and return it to a more reasonable representation of the original scene.
If you’ve got image-editing software on your computer, you can do your own color correction, fix blemishes and sharpen up those old snaps with relative ease. And really, who doesn’t have image-editing software on their computers these days?
For example, Windows users can grab Windows Photo Gallery (shown above) for free and Mac users have that copy of iPhoto that came with their computers. Cost-free, cross-platform options like Google’s Picasa (shown below) or the open-source GIMP also await.
Beyond those are the programs you pay for, like the industry-standard Adobe Photoshop, the home-user edition, Adobe Photoshop Elements, or any of the other third-party picture programs around for Windows or OS X. So you have the software if you want it.
[While there are also mobile scanning and image-editing apps out there, too, let’s focus on desktop solutions here. Let’s also assume you’ve used the scanning feature on your multifunction printer to convert that old analog media into a convenient set of pixels.]
Once you have scanned your old photos or 35mm slides and a good resolution on a freshly cleaned scanner bed, take a close look. If the colors are faded, the prints are ripped or cracked, or the slides have a weird pink cast, fire up your image editor and get to work:
- Windows Photo Gallery. This freebie for Windows users has a Retouch button to fix blemishes in the images and an Auto Adjust feature to help pump up color and contrast in faded old prints.
- iPhoto. The program’s Enhance tool can often boost a photo’s colors and correct the contrast with a click, but you have more tools at your disposal, like the Retouch brush (shown here).
- Moving beyond the the OS photoware, the help guide for Picasa has a whole section devoted to photo-editing tips and there’s GIMP documentation for improving color and making 35mm slides look much better.
If you’re rocking the full Adobe Photoshop, Adobe has a tutorial video that shows how to restore a damaged print. Also on the Adobe site: and Colin Smith’s No Stupid Questions show has some tips on touch-ups and working with channels in RGB files.
The Digital Camera World site has a photo-restoration guide as well. Those with the Adobe Photoshop Elements software designed for the home crowd can also find plenty of picture-restoration info around the Web and a tour of the more helpful Guided Edits tools in the latest version of the program.
If retouching (without quite knowing what you are doing yet) makes you nervous, make duplicates of your scanned photos and spend some time experimenting with your program’s color and repair tools. Many programs also include a “revert to original” option in there for your peace of mind.
Once you get the hang of it, you can make all your old pictures look a little bit better and there’s a bonus to all this: Aside from wowing your Facebook friends with your past history of synthetic fabrics, big hair, shoulder pads and other fashion choices of your era, you now have handy electronic copies of your fragile old analog media that you can store more easily and back up regularly. And remember, it’ll be much easier to eventually convert those files into holograms for your grandkids to laugh at if you’ve already got the pictures digitized.
We’re refreshed, rested and ready for more shenanigans in 2014! J.D. gives us some helpful hints for what to do with all those holiday snapshots cluttering up your smartphone. We may be a week into the new year but that doesn’t stop El Kaiser from revealing what he considers the top Tech Term of 2013. Lots of news from Las Vegas as the annual international Consumer Electronics Show opened this week. Samsung announces a new line of PRO models of its popular Galaxy Tab tablets; Panasonic announces a 7-inch addition to its Toughpad family of ruggedized tablets; Google partners with several automobile manufacturers to provide infotainment systems for their new car models; Intel has a new mini-computer called Edison; plus Bluetooth toothbrushes smart TVs and appliances and some fun wearable tech from ThinkGeek.com.
Have you ever looked at your phone’s usage settings and realized you don’t have that much room left on it? Unless you’ve got expansion-card options, you’re probably going to want to dump unused apps and other old files to free up space. So what takes up a lot of space on many smartphones today? Photos and videos — especially on newer models with better cameras that take higher-resolution photos and HD video.
Now, some people like to keep a lot of pictures on their phones – it’s the digital equivalent of the plastic wallet sleeve full of kid, family and vacation photos. Still, there are others who don’t need to have a ton of pictures on hand at all times and some people are just too lazy to clear things off, especially if they don’t want to go through deleting images one-by-one to keep the really good stuff.
Need a quick way to deal with gigabytes of photos? Just copy them all to your computer and then whack them from the phone. Once they’re imported to the desktop or laptop, you can lean back and look at a bigger screen as you weed through the images you want to keep and delete the duds. You can keep an archive of the saved photos on the computer, as well as that computer’s backup disc or drive.
Just plug the phone into the computer with the cable it came with and let the computer offer to import them all at once. Most operating systems recognize a smartphone as a camera and then treat it like any other camera with a variation of the same question — “Hey, do you want me to import all these photos and them delete them for you?” Windows does this (even Windows 8), as do photo programs that run on Windows like Picasa and Adobe Photoshop Elements. Mac versions of those programs, as well as iPhoto, Image Capture or Aperture do the same thing.
Once you copy all the photos off the phone, you can delete them from the handset and have gigabytes more space to fill up with new photos. From the computer, it’s also pretty easy to upload all your favorites to Flickr or another photo-sharing site — where you can still get to them from your phone, without having to give up local storage space.
If you simply want to keep the photos on the phone but do want keep them backed up, you’ve got plenty of online backup options. For example, Google+ has an auto-backup feature for photos and Apple has iCloud Photo Stream for people with iOS devices. Dropbox has a Camera Upload feature and you can also fine photographer-friendly backup apps like MyShoebox out there.
So remember, if you want to free up space on your phone, check to see how many pictures you’re got squirreled away on there. If your mobile photos number in the hundreds, consider moving them off the phone and to the safety of the computer or online archive. And even if you have plenty of room on your phone, back up your photos anyway. A picture is worth a thousand words, but if you lose your phone and the only copies of your favorite mobile snaps, your own vocabulary may suddenly be reduced to a couple of really bad words.
This week we bring the jam! J.D. offers up alternatives to Photoshop as El Kaiser tries to find something decent to watch on Netflix and answers listener mail. In the news, the U.S. Emergency Alert System might be vulnerable to hackers; Google patches a 4 year old vulnerability in the Android mobile OS; bookseller Barnes & Noble get out of the tablet business; and the Mars rovers continue to do their thing on the Red Planet.
The new subscription-based Adobe Photoshop CC has upset some people. While those who use Adobe Photoshop professionally are probably going to stay with it because it’s the industry standard for pre-press and digital imaging work, others with lesser needs may be propelled to move to an alternative program.
The $100 Adobe Photoshop Elements will do for a lot of home users, you can also find free image-editing programs on the Web or maybe even right on your computer. So finding replacement software isn’t that hard — as long as it does all the things you used to be able to do in Photoshop. So how do you find out if a program does what you need it to do? Here are a few free alternatives and links to each one’s help guides and tutorial files so you can get an idea of just what it can (or cannot) do for you.
Also known as the GNU Image Manipulation Program, this powerful cross-platform image editor can do a lot of the same heavy lifting that Photoshop does. GIMP is cross-platform (Windows, Mac and Linux among them) and it can seem dense and complex. But there’s help, including a Frequently Asked Questions page, which answers a lot of basic queries and even has a bit of cheeky humor.
You can also find a user manual in both HTML and PDF formats, plus a whole section of illustrated tutorials for learning how to do specific things like creating icons, making animations, blending exposures or creating contrast masks. The program has online documentation in several different languages. GIMP comes with a built-in help system too. When you are in the program, press F1 for context-sensitive help.
If you simply must have a big old printed book, No Starch Press has a 676-page manual called The Book of GIMP for $50 and you can download a free sample chapter from the site. There’s also GIMP for Beginners, for $45 from Apress.
Google’s free photo program for Windows and Mac OS X can do more than some people give it credit for. Sure, it imports pictures off the camera, but it can also do photo-editing tasks like redeye reduction, cropping, straightening, simple retouching, color and contrast adjustments and includes a bunch of tints and filters. You can also do side-by-side editing to see how your changes are affecting the image. If you want to dig deeper into Picasa, check out Google’s Help Guide and well as the site’s pages for “how to” and troubleshooting.
This popular Web-and-mobile photo editor has a pretty sophisticated toolbox that can handle layers, masks, silos if you need more than the basic cropping and redeye reduction powers. Pixlr has mobile apps for Android and iOS and works well as an online editor. If you need help, check out the “community-powered support” on its site.
Windows Photo Gallery
This freebie from Microsoft has been around in some form for several versions (including Windows Vista) and now has tools like the panorama-maker and Photo Fuse, where you can combine the good parts of two bad photos into one decent image. While Windows 8 has a Photos app that doesn’t do much besides cropping and rotating, you can find more useful image-editing apps in the Windows Store.
Apple has been including iPhoto, its image organizer and editor, with Mac OS X since 2002 and the current version is iPhoto ’11. There are also mobile versions of the program for Apple’s iOS devices. Apple tutorials. The software’s sharing and printing features — including the ability to share directly to Facebook and Flickr or to make books, calendars and cards out of your pictures — are easy to grasp. iPhoto can do much more, though, including color adjustment, cropping, rotating, retouching and special effects. You can find video demonstrations on the Find Out How page for iPhoto ’11 and Aperture and Apple has an iPhoto support section of its site if you have specific questions you want to research. There’s also a Help guide built into the program.
These are just a few of the free photo-editing programs out there and plenty of other freebies (and some fine commercial software) can be found with a few quick Web searches. Just read up, make sure your new program can do all the stuff you used to do in Adobe Photoshop and ease on down the road.