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January 15, 2007 meeting notes:

Graphics SIG & Software

Once upon a cold January nighttime, several pixel-peeping adventurers, who were spared the freezing rain in adjacent counties, gathered at the Central Library. We looked at "easy to learn & use" Paint Shop Pro Photo X1, the predecessor to X2 and X3 because Corel knows you buyers are all as superstitious as skyscraper architects! Confer CorelDRAW X3 and WordPerfect X3 which are actually v.13s. Marketers are now inventing new ways to count with Roman and Arabic numerals combined. I bet you'll see X2 this September.

Corel was headed in a good marketing direction with its feature-packed, less expensive Essentials version of pro software, such as my DRAW Essentials, and Painter Essentials. Along came a cozy Corel alliance with Pixmantec for Raw Shooter creating the still popular RS Essentials free for download. Raw Shooter Pro was even purchased by one of our members. Then Adobe, already one of the best with its Adobe Camera Raw file converter, decided to buy Pixmantec (remember they recently bought Macromedia, makers of Flash). And there goes Corel's plans (if any) for incorporating RS's popular raw file conversion into PSPP. Too bad.

A couple of us purchased the $24 PSPP X1 deal mentioned last month in a SIG email with the corresponding new $20 book by Ken McMahon for photographers. But the book does not have the word raw in its index! So those who shoot jpeg-only will continue to be pleased with PSPP's abilities. But Corel better get on the raw-file bandwagon again if they want to attract serious users. Raw has been around for consumers since the late 90s-- a long time in computer years. Such files enable a digital photographer to better rescue a photo that has been over- or underexposed, and to draw out more detail and color, almost like dealing with a negative or slide film.

That $24 deal listed at Amazon for just 3 days also included a product key for unlocking the accompanying software Snapfire Plus. I will check it out and give the group a report soon. The basic Snapfire is included in PSPP X1. In November's issue, I said a version of Jasc-designed Corel Photo Album 6 Deluxe was included in the new version. Not so, my bad. But Photo Album continued selling as both a stand-alone program and with a Painter Essentials/PSP "X" bundle. Can anyone say "Dumping"? Corel has since assured me they have re-written the organizer from scratch in vX1. So no more auto-downloading jpegs but none of my raw files and asking if I'd like to erase the flash card! I notice on their site the buggy organizer offered in December is no longer there as of this year.

Ah yes, back to the meeting. We watched a couple of the training videos that come free with vX1 and I always learn something from each of the lessons I view. New features in the cropping tool now allow preset sizes that really are "easy". In older versions, cropping has been a headache for Graphics SIG users. Even PSP guru Dave Johnson complained about it several times in his Digital Focus free newsletter from PCWorld. We also looked at some Christmas photos taken with available light.

We hope to see you 7pm, Monday, Feb. 19th at the Central Library's Retama Room as we explore the depths of graphics software and learn how it can be used in our everyday computing.

  - Bruce Switalla

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