New club computer

December 23, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

I was very pleased that the Committee agreed to my proposal to replace the club computer with a new one. We now have it! Here is a bit of information about it, and about what we are doing with our old Sony computer.

Our old Sony computer has a few limitations. It's battery is weak, its screen is only 1440x900 (which doesn't work well with our Canon projector which will project our PDIs at 1400x1050), it runs Windows 7 and is rather slow. However it has plenty of memory to run any photographic software we might like to use, and works fine when on its mains charger.

Our new computer was made to my specification by PC Specialists Ltd in Wakefield. I have bought my last 3 computers from them, and have been very impressed by their service, support, prices and product quality. By specifying most components in the machine where choice is available (for example, the screen, RAM, hard drive, solid state drive, graphics card etc) you can get a PC which suits your need at an optimised price. So we now have a Cosmos laptop, with a fast 256GB solid state drive, 8GB of fast RAM, a 1TB hard drive, a 1920x1080 screen, a mid speed i5 processor and Windows 10. It made it's debut for the Set Subject competition, although the projection was a bit yellow and so I need to set it up for our projector with ColorMunki when I get the chance. It has a 4K output in its HDMI port so if we upgrade our projector in future (a much more expensive proposition) then it will work well with that.

Amongst the software we have for it is Microsoft Office 2016, so all emails to me now come directly to this computer using my favourite email program Outlook. This avoids me having to move you PDIs from one computer to another. Before the end of the season I hope that we will introduce a new system for PDI entry called PhotoEntry, but more of that later when we are ready to introduce it.

So what of our Sony computer? We have decided to make it available on loan to all club members, and so have bought some software for members to try. So you can try Adobe's Lightroom and Photoshop Elements (PSE), but these are older versions which will run on a PC rather than on the Cloud. However they can give you a good flavour of how they work, and if you don't have either of these and decide that one suits you, them you can get the latest version for your computer and will get a few newer features with it.

Many people aspire to the full version of Photoshop when their photo editing needs get beyond what Lightroom or PSE can give. It's a great program, but only available now on the Cloud and is rather expensive I think (around £140 per year). Especially when there's an equally good program available for less than either of those Adobe products. This is Serif's program Affinity Photo. There's a copy on the Sony computer now for you to try. Plus there are lots of excellent Serif online tutorials (as well as plenty of third party ones on youtube) to help you. I also have a Serif workbook (a large, hardback book) of help and tutorials using downloadable example files to get you up and running quickly.

All of the PDIs submitted to WPS competitions in the last few years are on this computer. These are there to show you how the programs work. Obviously they are still the copyright of the authors, so they are there for your inspiration and instruction only.

Lightroom and PSE have their own inbuilt catalogues for browsing the photos, but Affinity doesn't have this. So there's an alternative program which I use all the time, XnViewMP, a free program which is far better than the Adobe catalogues in my view. If you move pictures using any program other than the Serif one (eg Windows Explorer), then the Adobe catalogue "loses" the photo - you can see its thumbnail still, but you can't open the original file as the program has lost its location. I found this very frustrating when using these Adobe programs. You can do what you like with your photos using XnViewMP, it will always find them.

There are also other free programs on the Sony, for browsing, editing and resizing your photos. If there were a demand, we would consider getting others to try.

"OK, how do I borrow it?"

Easy, just ask me, and we can consult the loan diary and put you in. Presently I'm offering loans of 2 weeks at a time, but if no-one else has booked it after you, then you can hang onto it for longer if you wish.

 

Stuart Ord

 


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