A big thank you

By | August 1, 2010
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In the Computers newsletter this month:

  • A big thank you
  • A great way to share photos
  • A quick tip about emailing photos (or other attachments)
  • The truth behind the £23 iPad.

Hello

First of all, I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who sent in their congratulations on Alastair’s birth. I’ve really enjoyed sitting here reading all the messages now that I’m back in the office. I had wanted to reply to each one individually but there were so many – and Alastair wasn’t leaving me with much time free… So here’s a very big thank you!

Julie and Alastair are doing fine and he’s proved he’s got a very healthy pair of lungs and a healthy appetite.

I’m back in the office now and the others seem to have coped fine while I’ve been off.

Anyway, this month, I’ve got a quick tip on emailing photos, a website that I’d never really used before but I found great over the last two weeks and the truth behind something you might have seen in the papers.

Flickr – a great way to share photos
As you can imagine, once Alastair was born I wanted to send photos to all my family. Normally I might email them – so much quicker than getting photos printed and then posting them.

But the problem can be that if you have several you want to send (and as a new Dad, I had quite a few!) the email can end up massive… and it takes ages to send. If the other person doesn’t have a fast email connection, it might even give them problems to download it.

That’s where the Flickr website comes in. It’s a website designed to make it easy to share photos. The idea is you put your photos onto the website, then you just need to tell your friends and family that the photos are there – and they can see them on the site.

For example, have a look at www.flickr.com/photos/julesandtim – that’s the photos (and a couple of short video clips) that I’ve put up over the last couple of weeks. You can see small versions of all of the photos and if you click on one you’ll get a full sized version.

If you’d like to try using Flickr yourself, go to www.flickr.com. Click on “Create your account”. If you have a yahoo email, you can just sign in with the email and password you use for that (Flickr is run by the same people as Yahoo). If not, just click on “Sign Up” at the bottom and choose a “Yahoo ID” and password. You might not get your first choice of ID as someone else might already have it – you might need to try adding a number to the end of your name or something like that to make sure it’s something no-one else will have.

Then click on “Photostream” and it’ll take you to your list of photos – none at the moment.

One thing they’ve not done so well is they haven’t made it very obvious how to add new photos – but luckily once you know, it’s not hard. Click on the down arrow next to “You” at the top of the screen and in the menu that appears, click on “Upload Photos and Videos”. Then you click on “Choose Photos and videos” and find them on your PC. You can add photos or even short video clips if your camera takes video or you have a digital camcorder. Video clips have to be short, though – only up to one and a half minutes.

There are limits on how much you can add in one month – but for photos it’s lots and lots.

One of the reasons Flickr is so handy is that you can just share the web address for your page with your friends (it’ll be shown at the top, in the address bar of Internet Explorer). Then when you add new photos later on, you don’t even need to give them the web address again (unless they’ve lost it!). They just go back to the same web page and the extra photos are there as well as the old ones. The new ones even go at the top, so you can’t miss them.

There are lots of other things you can do with Flickr – arranging the photos in a nice way on the screen, communicating with other people who use Flickr and so on. But the above is all I used it for, and I found it really handy.

A quick tip about emailing photos
If you do want to simply email a photo to someone else, there are several ways to do it. But if you use Outlook Express or Windows Mail, I think the easiest way to do it is to find the photo in My Pictures (or wherever you’ve stored it), right click on it with the mouse and select “Send to” and then “Mail Recepient” in the menu that appears. It’ll ask you a quick question about whether you want it to automatically shrink the photo to make it send faster and then create an email ready to send. You just need to tell it who to send it to and (if you like) type in a message for them.

Oh, and that works for other attachments, too. If you want to email (say) a Word document to someone you can do it in the same way.

There’s nothing wrong with the other ways of emailing photos if you prefer a different way, but I find this way the quickest and easiest.

The truth behind the £23 iPad
A few newspapers have been excitedly running stories about “The £23 iPad from India”. It sounds interesting – if you’re not sure what an iPad is, it’s a kind of laptop with no keyboard or mouse – you simply touch the screen instead of using the mouse and when you need to type a keyboard appears on the screen and you type on that. (I wrote a bit more about it in this newsletter: www.helpfulbooks.co.uk/NL150310.htm)

And the Indian government has announced they’ve made something similar but that will sell for what works out at £23 – to be available from 2011. With no keyboard, that saves money and they’ve kept the cost down by having no hard drive (it uses a memory card like you get in a mobile phone to store everything) and by not using Windows – so they don’t have to pay a big chunk to Microsoft.

Pretty impressive and I certainly don’t want to knock what they’ve done. But there are a few things that the newspapers didn’t mention.

First of all, if they do manage to bring out the gadget at that price, it still doesn’t mean it’ll cost that little over here… or even be available in the UK at all. The £23 isn’t their price, it’s just what their price converts to in pounds sterling. It’s really aimed at Indian colleges and Universities, so the price would be lower as they’d be buying in bulk – buying just one would probably cost more, even in India. More again if it’s exported.

Secondly, at the moment they don’t have a manufacturer lined up. It’s just the developers who’ve made a prototype and estimated the cost. They might have got it right but it might be that once they get a manufacturer sorted, it turns out it will cost more to make it than they thought.

And thirdly, last year the Indian government announced it had a team that had developed a $20 laptop, which was going to be in commercial production within 6 months. When the prototype was seen it not only had no keyboard, it had no screen. Which made it of limited use! As you can guess, it’s still not in production and word on it has gone very quiet. So the precedent isn’t so great.

I’m not trying to put the team who’ve developed it down – even with the above points, what they’ve done is still impressive and I really hope they do get it up and running as planned. It’ll be great for thousands of students in India. But don’t let the newspapers give you the idea you’ll be able to buy a £23 iPad next year – it’s not quite like that!

That’s all for this time

Yours

Tim Wakeling

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