Organize your digital photos with Picasa - I've ranted about how great Picasa is before, but after having returned from a 5 day fantasy spree at DisneyWorld I can say I haven't ranted enough. Mostly, my exitement is over the advantages of digital photography. My Nikon 5000 Coolpix cost $800, but I got a $200 discount by using it at DisneyWorld. How?
In the past, I would take about 10 or 15 rolls of film and use it all (the secret to great photography is to take lots of pictures and throw out most of them). Then I would have to pay to have all of them developed. You could order a contact sheet, but like most people I usually don't. So that's at least $200 in film costs. But not with a digital camera.
I have a 128 MB Compactflash card. I use a high, but not the highest, resolution setting on the camera, and that gives me 250 pictures. If I shoot 10 or 15 rolls of film I usually only get about 25 or 30 pictures that I'm really happy with, but I usually keep about 100 of the pictures. So 250 on the memory card is plenty. But if you have a laptop with you (as I did) you can dump the day's worth of pictures on the computer hard drive each night and so you can take 250 pictures a day. Advantage: digital. Big time.
With digital, since you don't pay for development, you are free to take pictures of almost anything that you think might conceivably be interesting. If it doesn't come out you can ditch it 20 seconds after you take the picture. The Nikon has the ability to fire off several pictures in a couple of seconds. My film camera had this ability too, but I seldom used it because I knew I would be paying for pictures that I was going to throw away. Still, it is a great way to catch that elusive expression on your loved one's face. With digital you can use this feature all the time.
But what about Picasa? Well, the reason that Picasa is so great is that it let's you deal with all of the pictures that you take. You can import the pictures from your flash card right into the program and create mini-albums that keep everything straight. The program automatically takes note of the date of the photos and, over time, will organize your albums chronologically in a really stylish way.
The program lets you fix red-eye, and quickly "enhance" the photograph to correct exposure problems. After you've organized the photos, you can E-mail them to friends and family members and the program quickly and easily optimizes the photo's file size for viewing on a computer screen (that is, you probably don't want to E-mail someone a photo that is a 1 megabyte file). The program also makes it easy to order prints, which is a feature I hadn't used until a few minutes ago. I was struck by a really nice feature when I placed my order: after I selected the photo I wanted to order, the program presented various sizes to select from (i.e. 4x6, 5x7, 8x10) but the 8x10 size had a yellow caution flag that alerted me that the photo's resolution wasn't good enough for an 8x10 blow up. Not that I planned to order an 8x10. But I assume it would do that if the photo wouldn't look good at other resolutions as well.
In the past I complained that the program doesn't have the ability to crop pictures. Well, version 1.5 of the program (which I was given a copy of to test) allows cropping and is quick and easy to use. The new version will allow you to work with additional file types besides just JPEGs (i.e. TIFFs, BMPs, PSD's and even movie files, such as MPEGs and AVIs). I think if you order the current version you will be entitled to the 1.5 version when it is released in the near future. The program is a steal at $29.95. If you have a digital camera and haven't found a good way to organize your photographs then give Picasa a try. It's free to try for 15 days. It is a Windows-only program, but I'm sure the the Apple guys are happy with iPhoto so they won't cry. But me? I'm crying tears of happiness. Oh, and I'm gearing up to sell a boatload of expensive 35mm photography equipment on eBay. Anyone interested?
Depending on the Randomness of Strangers - my last couple of posts seem to have attracted the comments of an interesting woman named Ailina, who has a blog that is a scant three days old. Paper Bent is a pretty cool site, and amazingly well-formed for a three day old blog. Apparently, Ailina is from Hawaii and now lives in Lafayette, Louisiana. I love her sidebar dictionary-like entry that describes who she is. Even more, I love the way the Internet allows for these sort of random connections between people who could be thousands of miles away, but which in this case turns out to be just over a hundred. Oh, one thing, she has an XML button, but I tried it and it didn't work (I got an error message about poorly formed XML or something). Come one, though, let's give her a break; the site's only 3 days old.
Law Blogs - my comments provoke a reaction - Bill Altreuter (of Outside Counsel Blog) has some thoughts on what should be considered a "law blog." I agree with his point, but I think that as more non-blogging lawyers discover blogs they are going to first gravitate to the ones that are fairly specialized --and mostly about legal issues-- rather than ones like this one, with reviews of movies or links to pictures of nude women playing soccer.
A wishing and a Listing - here is a strange site that apparently compiles wishlists for bloggers, and also groups the blogs by birthday. I found this in my Technorati referer list because I guess they recently added my wishlist and also had my birthday correctly listed. What is the point of this? Are random strangers going to send me presents on my birthday? Well, yes. That's already happened. But I mean intentionally.
Catch Me if You Can - just saw this movie (which is classified as a 'light comedy') and enjoyed it greatly. I was not a Leonardo DiCaprio fan, but I have yet to see Tom Hanks in a poor movie so I was somewhat conflicted as I entered the theatre. The opening credits, which are a semi-Jules Feiffer cartoon sequence, smartly set the tone for a film that is set in the late 60's time period. But the emphasis is on the urbane, and not the disruptive/revolutionary, 1960's. DiCaprio does a great job in his role as the beguiling and handsome lad, who turns into a check-forging con man, and Christopher Walken is perfect as his father, who is ever-optimistic, but a major con-man himself.
A major strength of the movie is its snap-heel style and cinematic flair. At various points there are great close up scenes of miscellanea such as checks, toy planes in a bathtub, and choreographed revolvers that not only reflect clever style but also advance the story. For a lot of people the emphatic style of the movie will overshadow the basic moral theme, which, as I see it, is the ambiguous dichotomy between an idealist and a con-man. There are other themes such as the bond between parent and child (Tom Hanks and his daughter) or father and son (Walken and DiCaprio). Catch Me if You Can deserves to be considered for Picture of the Year, but I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't. Its strengths are too subtle and its cleverness will cause a lot of people to overlook the strength of its story, the superb acting. In addition to Hanks, Walken and DiCaprio, Martin Sheen also appears.