Welcome to the 424th issue of the PC Improvement News. PCIN consists mainly
of news and tips. There is something for everyone, and if this is your first
issue, I'm sure there will be something for you. If you give me two or three
issues, I know that you will come back for more!
Over the last few days we've put up our Christmas tree and other decorations
around the house (both inside and outside) and while I'm typing this up, I'm
listening to Frosty the Snowman (for the second time because Andrew wanted
me to play it again). Christmas is a great time of year, and it's even more
fun with the kids!
I'll have my review of Paragon Partition Manager 8.0 ready next week. I've
used the product for a bunch of different operations and it is very impressive.
Chad Troutwine, an entrepreneur in Malibu, Calif., was negotiating a commercial
lease earlier this year for a building he owns in the Midwest. Though talks
began well, they soon grew rocky. The telltale sign that things had truly
devolved? The sign-offs on the e-mail exchanges with his prospective tenant.
"As negotiations started to break down, the sign-offs started to get decidedly
shorter and cooler," Mr. Troutwine recalled. "In the beginning it was
like, 'I look forward to speaking with you soon' and 'Warmest regards,' and by
the end it was just 'Best.'" The deal was eventually completed, but Mr.
Troutwine still felt as if he had been snubbed.
What's in an e-mail sign-off? A lot, apparently. Those final few words above
your name are where relationships and hierarchies are established, and where
what is written in the body of the message can be clarified or undermined.
The sky over San Francisco is cerulean blue as you begin your descent into
the city from 2,000 feet. As you pass over the southern hills, the skyline
of the Financial District rises into view. On the descent into downtown,
familiar skyscrapers form an urban canyon around you; you can even see the
trolley tracks running down the valley formed by Market Street. But then
a little pop-up box next to the Bay Bridge explains that an accident has
just occurred on the western span, and a thick red line indicates the resulting
traffic jam along the highway. A banner ad for Emeryville, Calif., firm ZipRealty
hangs incongruously in the air over the Transamerica Pyramid. You are actually
staring at your PC screen, not out an airplane window.
The number of women working in IT has fallen dramatically over the past
five years to a low of 16%, a DTI sponsored study shows.
The research, published by Intellect, shows that many of the women employed
in the IT sector are in the lower skilled, lower paid areas of the industry
rather than more professional and technical positions.
Essential Filters for Digital Photography - Digital Photography
Tip of the Week
Filters have been used throughout photographic history to manipulate the light
entering the camera before exposing your film. There is an expansive array
of filters available for color correction, adding mood to an image, and special
effects. Black and white photographers traditionally have used a number of
colored filters to change the way colors are represented in their images. With
digital photography, many of the effects that we used filters for previously
can be duplicated in our editing, rendering the filters themselves useless,
however there are few filters that are still indispensable.
The three filters that I continue to use are a polarizer (circular polarizer),
neutral density and a split neutral density.
The polarizing filter is used for saturating color and removing glare and reflections
from objects. A polarizer has two rings, one used to mount the filter to
your lens, the second to rotate the polarizer to modify the degree of polarization.
There are two types of polarizers, linear and circular. They both do the
same function, however, many autofocus/autoexposure cameras require a circular
polarizer to function correctly. Polarization is most prevalent 90 degrees
from the sun and will decrease as the angle to the sun approached 0 (or 180
degrees). One of the most common uses of a polarizer is to create rich, blue
skies. One word of caution with polarizers though, as the angle of the light
changes, the degree of polarization changes. When using a wide angle lens,
you will see a falloff in polarization as the angle of the light changes
across your field of view. This is most likely to be seen on lenses wider
than 28mm as you can see in the second shot below, photographed at 18mm..
These two images were both shot with a polarizer. Without the polarizer, the
sky would have been a less dramatic blue and the clouds would have blended
in more with the sky in the first photo.
Neutral Density Neutral Density (ND) filters really have only one purpose, that is
to decrease the amount of light entering the lens. ND filters come in various
densities, with the most common being 1, 2 and 3 stops of filtration, usually
expressed as either 0.3, 0.6, 0.9 or 2x, 4x, 8x. They should be neutral in color
and should not alter the colours in an image at all though some of the lower
cost filters may. ND filters are useful for either achieving a slower shutter
speed for a given aperture, or for using a larger aperture for a given shutter
speed. For example: for this photograph taken in Letchworth State Park, NY I
used a shutter speed of 1/6 second while using and an aperture of f22, ISO 100.
I also used a combination of a 2x ND filter (1 stop) and my polarizer (1.5 stops).
Without the filters, I would have had to shoot the falls at 1/30 second which
would have been fast enough that the water would not look as soft and flowing
as it does. I would have preferred to have had a 4x ND filter which would have
allowed me to use a 1/3 second exposure and added more 'flow' to the water. If
I had not been using a lens that allowed me to stop down to f22 though, I would
have had a much faster shutter speed. Many digital point and shoot camera's have
a minimum aperture of only f8, which in this case would have resulted in a shutter
speed of 1/250 second, more than sufficient to stop the flow of water in the
Split Neutral Density
Split Neutral Density filters are similar to neutral density filters in that
they reduce the light coming into the lens, but differ in that the entire
filter is not coated evenly. They most common split neutral density filters
are are graduated and they gradually change from clear to translucent gray.
There are also available with a hard edge which varies from manufacturer
to manufacturer. The hard edge split neutral density filters are useful when
you are photographing a subject with a bright area that suddenly changes
to a dark area, and graduated filter is best used when you have a bright
area gradually merging into a dark area. These filters are used because in
difficult lighting situations (such as photographing the morning sun) the
difference in light between the lightest and darkest areas of your image
may be substantial enough that you film or sensor cannot capture the entire
range of values. Using a split neutral density filter masks some of the light
in a darker area of your image so that the exposure between extremes are
As you can see in the illustration above, the image on the left (simulated
to show the effect of not using a split neutral density filter) does not show
the colour of the first light peaking over the horizon that the second does.
Filters are available at most retail camera stores and come in different sizes,
shapes and qualities. B+W, Lee, Singh-Ray and Cokin all
make filters of varying qualities. Round filters are sized according to your
filter ring on your lens, and you can also purchase rectangular or square one
similar to the diagram of the split neutral density filters above. This type
uses a filter holder and is the best way to go for split neutral density filters
as the holder lets you adjust what parts of the image are receiving filtration
by moving the filter up or down in the holder. For digital point and shoot
cameras, Cokin makes a filter holder
that can be used when you lens does not have a filter thread.
There are many more filters available, but these are the three I filters I
keep with me all of the time, and each produces results not easily achievable
in an image editing program.
The digital photography tip of the week
is written by the PCIN Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Chris is a long
time photographer and is currently the President of the Niagara
Falls Camera Club. You can see more of his photography at his Photo
of the Day website.
If you have a tip to send Chris, or a question about digital photography
he can address in the newsletter, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When people read out a phone number, they use "phone rhythm." No
one has to explain "phone rhythm," we all just seem to do it
automatically, "...713...555...12...34". Similarly, when we answer
a phone call we all say, "Hello." No one taught us to do that,
but somehow we all seemed to pick it up.
So why is it that when it comes to emails, there are no accepted standards?
Even though 6 billion emails are sent every day, almost no one agrees about
simple things like email etiquette, how to organize a note, or whether
emails are considered private or not.
The 99 tips in this article make up the best in email practices. From
how to ethically use the 'BCC:' to what attachments will make your mobile
emailing compatible with everyone else's, this list covers everything you
need to know about emailing.
As mentioned above, there are 99 different tips about email, broken out
into several categories: Etiquette, Communicating & Effectiveness, Mobile
Email, Productivity, Folders, and Filtering, Email Attachments, Tricks, Hacks,
Backup, System-Specific Mail, and Last but not Least: Privacy and Security.
There aren't any tips for specific software packages. These are general suggestions
on what to do.
Good things are simple and come in small packages. If you wanted a plugin
for your music player that finds and displays lyrics for your songs, Lyrics
Plugin is a good answer. It's free, small (around 60 KB) and available
for Winamp and Windows Media Player. You don't have to configure anything,
the plugin works well out of the box.
PCIN is brought to you by Graham Wing. The opinions expressed are those of
the Editor, Graham Wing and the Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Graham Wing
and Chris Empey accept no responsibility for the results obtained from trying
the tips in this newsletter.
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