Blog photos

2007-03-27

Conclusion (Pdf)

  1. Blogging with photos – you will need a photo editing program – Picasa is my suggestion or use your favorite. The tools supplied with Vista could be an alternative, but I think they lack my favorite not modifying my original.
  2. Word’s photo editing tools are not good enough.
  3. When publishing JPG:s inserted from a file Word 2007 makes silly resizing of the bitmaps.
  4. I publish with Word and catch up the silly names given. After publishing I copy the correctly sized JPG:s to remove the silly copied by Word!!
  5. Very, Very Annoying!! Especially after republish my copies are gone again…
  6. Don’t use the advanced photo effects in Word with pictures copied inside Word. Insert them and edit to achieve the correct result.

     
 

The story.

Since my blog vision includes posting rocky photos I will have to find out a descent way of handling photos in a smart way. Since more than one year I am a big fan of Picasa from Google. It is a simple tool to keep order on my digital photos and to make them look much better than raw from the camera. I have been a digital amateur since I bought my first digital camera 1999, Nikon Coolpix 100 with 480×640 pixels and storage for 20 pictures on a pcmcia card. Today I am on my third, an Olympus CF-70 I bought two years ago. When I bought my new computer this autumn Corel Paint Shop Pro was available for free for testing. I tested it but didn’t manage to get up in speed and didn’t find was I was looking for sp I gave it up and uninstalled it some month ago. Many of my friends using digital cameras like me just dump their photos to the hard disk and never tries to edit and correct them.

In this blog I will try to compare the functions offered by Word with those of Picasa to figure out a smart way of doing what I am planning to do. Let us take a photo I shot when I was out walking last Sunday with my wife in our village, Bjärred in the south of Sweden. I downloaded my photos to my hard disk, in my camera I always use best quality JPEG with 7 Mpixels. On many of photos I have problem with the white balance making them look blue, uninteresting and flat. When loaded into Picasa one of them looked like this:

I chose to do some corrections so I chose the middle tab showing the adjustment tools, which are simple to use. With the tool I chose a gray, white or black area. The cover of the field in the foreground I knew was white so that is where I point with the tool. Other spots to look for are clouds in the sky which might be blue instead of gray. You get an instant view of the photo after the correction, and if you fail you could easily undo it.

After grayscale correction you will often find the picture a little bit over exposed, but most of the time I use the upper for my second correction.

As you might see on the sliders that a correction is done for the second and third which are contrast and shade. This auto correction made the photo a little bit too dark in my taste, so I will do a little adjustment of shadow until a result I accept.

With the final correction of the photo will make it look like this :

Picture after what I call ‘The three click wonder of Picasa!’ Crisp and clear with depth.

 

With the cropping tool I select the part I would like to use in the blog:

The photo ready for being used in a blog.

 

If you leave Picasa all your modifications of the photo is stored so when you return you will see the modified picture. But what has happened with your original – NOTHING. That is the main reason why I like Picasa, in most other photo editing software I have used I have had to store the modified photo somewhere else, with Picasa I keep the original and in a small tine file in the folder a file name picasa.ini the modifications are stored. If you look into a folder you have included for Picasa editing it may look like:

Where my original is saved together with the screenshots, actually there are two copies of my original photo, and if you look at one of them with another program than Picasa you will see it is still unmodified. Looking into the ini file we could see how Picasa stores our modifications in text format. (Happily not in XML so it is easy to understand..)

When all corrections are done I select the photos I want and do an export to another folder in Picasa where. In that process I could decide the width and what quality I want for the JPG:s.

 

I make them 500 pixels wide so they will fit into my 510 pixel width in my CSS for the blog, and the get small and feasible for using for blog purposes.

The cropped and revised photo aimed for publishing in the blog is just 19kb and sized 500×313 and I think it is good enough for a blog.

 With the tools in Word After changing contrast and sizing and cropping I get the following result

Result of editing photo with tools in Word – and the picture is diffuse due to error in white balance.

 

And as expected it is resize after publishing so it is cut to the right when viewed in the blog! Microsoft, please correct this bug ASAP!! I think reading without any picture might make a lot of readers bored!

View on my blog screen in Word it looks like this:

This makes it a PNG with correct size and lost colors – and growing from 15k to 88k!!

 

And now let us have a look on the features available in Word but lacking in Picasa. There are almost endless possibilities to add effect in both programs but I think Word is stronger in this part so here are some variations of the selected photo:

This is called Preset5.

 

Black border with shadow.

 

Soft edges 10 points.

 

As you see above none of the effects where moved to the blog. When looking at my screen it looked like this:

Instead of copying this picture is inserted as a JPG and the softened which make is correct but since it is a JPG it is resized.

 

The solution is that for the above samples I did a copy and paste inside Word, which made Word believe I published the same picture four times and not doing a correct transfer to my FTP-site. If I instead insert my JPG with the insert picture function it will be correctly displayed with the effect, but since it is a JPG is incorrectly resized!

You can’t win them all!!!


GIFJPGPNG

2007-03-27

Conclusion (Pdf)

  1. Use PNG to publish screenshots, a little bit bigger but it will work as you expect, i.e. no resizing.
  2. Word behaves strange with JPG:s resizing them when publishing.
  3. Picture tools in Word are good enough, no need for a special program.
  4. Use Paint for a first preliminary cut, then size or crop inside Word. Avoid sizing if not needed – you will loose in sharpness!
  5. Avoid frames in Word they are costly in size and degrade picture sharpness. Frame with CSS.
  6. Compress option not worth trouble?
  7. The names given by Word is strange but logical and types are kept at least if no modifications.
  8. Be careful when moving around pictures after first publish… Word seems to mess them up sometimes!
  9. Word’s nice tables look great and not too ugly in published HTML, have a look!

What happens with my picture when publishing?

I just thought I have understood how to handle pictures when using Word 2007 as my blog client..

But something happens that I don’t understand!

It is always like this!! I took a screenshot with Alt/Prnt Scrn and then opened Paint and pasted it. I cut out the peace I wanted and opened a new picture in Paint and pasted it back with roughly the correct picture size that I wanted to show. Then I saved it as PNG, GIF and JPG with paint. Looking at the pictures files at the hard disk with Windows Explorer they have the following properties: before and after publishing:

File Pixels local HD Size local HD Pixels FTP-site Size on FTP-site File type FTP-site
JPG 601×267 24216 755×338 31437 JPG

         
 

I publish to my account on WordPress with the picture setting to my own FTP-site and it all look great in Word, i.e. the JPG is in the size it was on my hard disk, but when looking at my publish post on WordPress the JPG is in greater size than in Word. One could wonder why?? In the samples below you see the same screenshot saved under a different formats. I had made up my mind to skip GIF:s because they lose too much of the gradients built into Office 2007 as could be seen. I thought it would be smart to have a look on whether choosing JPG or PNG for screenshots and then this happens. In one way or the other this made my choice very simple, since Word destroys my JPG:s by resizing then I have to choose PNG, which seems to be best quality but with rather high impact on file size.

Another way around could be to let Word publish on my FTP-site and then renaming and copy the correct files manually to my FTP-site, but being lazy….

         
 

GIF (032607_2103_JPPNGGIF3.gif)

GIF size 606×271, 18k.

       
 

JPG (032607_2103_JPPNGGIF4.jpg)

JPG, resized by Word!! Why?? To 755×338 and 31k.

       
 

PNG (032607_2103_JPPNGGIF5.png)

PNG 601×267 -> 605×271 (invisible fram, or??) 33k->37k.

       
 

Now let us see if we could have any benefits from all the new picture modifications built into Word 2007. The content area in my CSS used at WordPress is set to 510px, which means that all pictures above got truncated when shown in the blog. We start with adding a border to make the screenshot more precise. Then we will try to resize the picture to get it to fit into 510px. I will also try to crop it with the cropping tool, and then I will test to use compress to save file size when publishing.

PNG with border in gray. (032607_2103_JPPNGGIF6.png)

Done with ‘Picture Tools’,’Picture Border’ choosing 50% black. What happens is a little bit strange, the picture gets dimmed and the sharpness seems to be lost in the picture shown in Word.

       
 

Size by 84%. (032607_2103_JPPNGGIF7.png )

With ‘Picture Tools’, ‘Size’ I make it to be 84% of original size, 605px -> 510px is about 84%.

       
 

Cropped only.( 032607_2103_JPPNGGIF8.png )

With ‘Picture Tools’, ‘Crop’ I make it 13,34 cm (5.25″ for ‘inci-people’) wide and cut off some of the under part. Exatly the same width I have got on my printout from WordPress!! I am impessed!

       
 

Sized and compressed. (032607_2103_JPPNGGIF9.png )

This one is sized to 80% and then compressed with these options set. -6%! Not impressed!!

       
 

       
 

Cropped and compressed. (032607_2103_JPPNGGIF12.png)

Cropped to same size but also compressed with the options above.

       
 

Publishing the pictures after modification and then copying them back to my local HD gives the following result:

Let summaries these figures, you have to excuse my computer is talking Swedish. Headings in the picture above are Name, Size, Type, Changed and Pixels.

Pic Picture

Sizechange

Comment
6 Gray Border

+65%

Costly!!
8 Cropped

-29%

-63% in pixels!!
12 Cropped & compress

+4%

As above!

 

Let us look into the docx-file of the saved document to see how the pictures are stored there, it is done by renaming the docx-file to zip, and then ‘Exploring’ gives:

Some pictures seem to be missing in the saved document?? (Only 9 out of 12??) No clue about what has happened. Feel free to investigate and tell the World more about these pictures and you picture of Word 2007! Send me a post and I’ll post it!!


Blogging with pictures

2007-03-24

Conclusion.

  1. For screenshots the picture support in Word 2007 is good enough.
  2. File size might be a little bit to big sometimes since they will be in PNG.

 

Story.

Screenshots.

How to handle screenshots with ease? I have no great picture editing program and have no plan to either buy one or invest time in learning how to handle a tool like Adobe or Corel. Still I want to have screenshots and photos in my blog.

Concerning photos from my digital camera – I am an ordinary amateur like most of us. This means I download my photos from my camera to the hard disk. Then I do some fast face lifting with a few clicks of Picasa 2. ( What I call 3 click magic with Picas, to be cover another day.) In some future I wish I will have time to tag them and organize them better…. I have the unique naming convention of naming the folders by date!! Smart isn’t it?

Using screenshots, I produce them with Alt/Prtn Scrn or Ctrl/Prtn Scrn, if I want to crop them I usually use Paint to cut out the peaces I want and then paste them into a Word documentation for documentation purposes. I have considered SnagIt but never really found I have the needed for it. Some day in the future I will probably give it a try. Before Word 2007 this has been my intentions, but since Word 2007 offers a lot of goodies for picture formatting, I will try to investigate this more in the future. For photo publishing so far I have been lazy using either the Picasa support for publishing on my own Web-site or using photos in a Word document printed into a PDF-document by Fineprint. (The example happends to be a travel documentation from Morocco in Swedish, if wonder about the silly spelling..)

I took a screenshot from Word before starting to write this post, and I got a far to big screenshot to fit into my blog, I did a fast resize shrinking it to what I thought was a reasonable size to fit into my blog. Most blogs seems to handle it OK, just clipping it at the right. The first one is just pasted into Word 2007 from Alt/Ctrl Prnt/Scrn. After that it is resized (shrunk) in Word 2007 and then just published into WordPress with the options I specified for transfer to my FTP-site. Now what type of picture file will you get being that lazy, for screenshots you get PNG. File size might be a little big to bigger, but the good quality might be worth it, at least if my readers have acceptable bandwidth. Bandwidths in the US might point to an opposite opinion…

Size modified in Word (shrunk). This picture is in PNG and is too wide to fit, size is 33kb.

I would like to trim the file size so I will try to make the picture a JPG file. I pasted the picture into Paint and then saved it as a JPG. But that was really silly; you can’t resize it in Paint!! So where to find the shrunk pictures? I saved my Word 2007 document as a DOCX-file, the new file format of Word. Then I renamed the file to zip and opened it with Winzip, and there were my PNG-file inside the Word document. So I grabbed it and saved it on my desktop. After that maneuver I could open it with Paint, and then save it as both JPG and GIF. With JPG the file size shrunk from 33 kb to 18 kb but the result lost a little bit of sharpness. Good news was that Word 2007 kept it as JPG when I published it. I.e. it was sent to my FTP site as a JPG.

Same picture but converted to JPG, size 18kb. I think PNG size is worth it! On my computer it is sharper.

Same file as GIF, 15kb, but a lot of degradation in both sharpness and color. GIF might have been good for screenshots but with the gradients in Office 2007 it will not be a hit. So after these experiments I will drop GIF. Still to consider is PNG or JPG? Using JPG means a little bit wore work and lost quality for the picture above, but is it general. To handle screenshots in your blog you will need more functions. Sometimes the picture is too big, as above, sometimes you will have to crop sometimes you would like to make the picture bigger. What will happen then?

 This is a PNG resized by Word to fit into my blog, by a little bit of experience I found out that 13,5 cm is good enough (I have 740px in my CSS for the area where the pics appear) . I also have give the screenshots a dark gray border, which I think looks better… But since no conversion is done Word seems to prefer PNG, size is impressing 144kb in the docx file.

 


Start blogging experience

2007-03-24

Conclusion

  1. WordPress is the best choice for my blog vision.
  2. Pictures in your blog, you will need to resize them to the width of your blog.
  3. If you want to have a personal layout touch, you need to master newbie CSS.

The story.

Vision.

A month later! And a lot of adrenalin and frustration… I will try to save you all my troubles and just tell you what to do and why.

My vision was and is:

  1. I want to blog, and I want to do it to reach more than Swedish talking people.
  2. I want to be effective, using the right tools to make it happen.
  3. I need to use screenshots pics in my blog.
  4. I want my blog to have inspiring picture to make my boring text more interesting.
  5. I want it to be found and hopefully read and inspiring.
  6. I would like to see that I manage to reach out…

And that is about all… I think my vision could be shared by many, i.e. nothing strange at all. Though I had to invest a month to get going, my personal problem maybe…..

Reality – client tool.

I have tried three popular blog-places: Blogspot, MS Live and WordPress. After a long evaluation period I have made up my mind about what I hope is my optimal blog strategy. I will use all of them! If that is a correct decision, I DON’T KNOW!

I will use Word 2007 to create all posts. The primary reasons being: It is an editor where I feel comfortable, all the other I have tried make me feel inconvenient. I would like to have WYSIWYG and I need good spellchecking support. The standard tools offered at any of the three above mention places are good, but not good enough. They all offer a tiny spot in an IE window where I could enter my thoughts.

This is the interface in BlogSpot (Google).

This is the offer from Live Space (MS).

This is WordPress window for entering thoughts.

Word 2007 as blogging tool seems appealing… My preferences are space, spellchecking and if possible WSIWYG.

The interface of client tool MS Live Writer 1.0 (beta)

Life Space has no spellchecking what so ever. Blogspot and WordPress offers insulting spellchecking, you have a tool to active whenever you like to, that tells you what it think is wrong. I don’t want to be insulted, I just want to know the correct spelling!! Live Writer is far much better, a tool you active that give you suggestions, like MS Word ten years ago. The polite way of telling that I think is unique for MS Office, telling you when you type. There is just one choice!! What so ever if you need spellchecking like I do. I could of course use Word for spellchecking and then past it in the silly window offered, but then I will miss a lot of formatting to redo and the features of pictures inserted into the text. If you are interested in other client tools for your blogging you better do your own investigation.

What makes MS Live Writer great is the possibility to view your post and what it will look like. For both WordPress and Blogspot you get a nice way 99% WYSIWYG, but for MS Live Spaces it misses… This tool handles to load the CSS and then painting the HTML based on this information. It is a beta product released in September 2006 from MS. One could wander what their intention is and what the prize will be. The blog support entered into MS Word seems to be entered just before the release of Office 2007 – the only help I have been able to find is the webpage that gave me panic when I started.

New post or what?

Let’s for a while consider, what is a new post and what is a changed post? What type of model is built into Word 2007 to handle this? I had my vision on what a post is, but that was not what Word 2007 presented for me. My first problem was entering Word 2007 I only have the choice to create a new Blog Post, or if I create a new Word document I will have the choice to publish it as a blog post. Both these two actions creates a new post, at least at WordPress, on the other sites I guess it is similar. If you for safety reasons also save the post into a docx-file locally on your computer what will then happen? If you open that document and publish it you will have a duplicate post, i.e. two cousins. I do understand why this happens and now I think it is OK, but in the beginning I felt odd. The golden rule to remember is, if you have posted a post and wants to revise then you should open it with ‘Open existing’ after you have started Word 2007 and made the choice of creating a new blog post. A little strange but logical…, at least when you understand that this is the way it works.

When starting, I also felt very unhappy with all the duplicates of the pictures Word 2007 sent to my FTP-site. If Word figures out this to be a new post it will produce new picture files and send them to the place you asked for, which is fair enough I think. What was difficult to understand was why Word thought it was a new post. I also think Word 2007 handles the pictures OK, even if the names used are a little bit strange to make them unique. They are though good enough, you only have to maintain one folder on the FTP-site where you store them and the chance of getting collisions are small. I also found that if you delete one picture and replaces it with another, the old one will disappear from my FTP-site, good work! If I republish I think it will only sent the pictures changed since previous publish, which I also think is good working!

So far I have not used the ‘Draft’-functions but only used ‘Publish’ and save docx-file, so I guess there are more to be discovered in the future, when I probably have to use the Draft.

Pictures, pictures..

The biggest problem with my blog vision has been my idea of using pictures in the blog. I need support for screenshots and I want to use ‘rocky photos’. After much consideration I think the best solution for me is to store my picture files on my own FTP-site. If I ask Word 2007 to handle the pictures for me, I could do but often it will either fail or recopy them when I republish a post or publish the post it on another blog site. If I have had a descent preview before publishing I would not have needed to publish in theory, but in practice I always find errors in any reread, before or after publishing. After having experienced many failures with the picture support in Word I finally managed to figure out how to use it.

   


Last testpost – translation Swedish to English

2007-03-19

Conclusion

  1. I have tried translation before so I was eager to see if it has gotten any better with Office 2007.
  2. It had not – still need for many humans to do a decent job, at least for Swedish – English!
  3. So you have to stand my English, it is not native so in this blog there will be a lot of errors. But please forgive me, I will try to do my best and Word 2007 will help me with the spelling!

The story.

Highlight the text and right click to get the offer of translation!!

Normal ie this means the normal text I have to enter into to get going. It shows up with all my spelling errors which are very comfortable to correct in MS Word. I will also try to use the translate function in Word 2007 to see if I could blog in Swedish and get it well translated into English.

We try by typing the above text in Swedish and then I will do a translation.

The first test failed. Word 2007 crashed but it managed to restore my document.

Normal dvs det innebär normal text som jag måste skriva in för att komma i gång. Här visas alla mina felstavningar som jag enkelt kan korrigera i MS Word. Jag ska också prova att använda översätttnings funktionen i Word 2007 för att se om jag kan blogga på svenska och få det bra översatt till engelska.

Vi provar med att skriva in ovanstående text på svenska och sedan kommer jag att göra en översättning.

Första testet gick inget vidare. Word 2007 bombade men det klarade av att återställa mitt dokument. Första testet misslyckades.

This is what I got from ‘Lingo’:

Normal i.e. it means normal text that I must enter in order to come in time. Here, all my error spellings are shown that I simple can correct in MS Word. I will also try to use översätttnings the function in Word 2007 in order to see if I can blogga on Swedish and few
the good translated to English.

We try with entering the above text on Swedish and since
comes I to do a translation.

The first test went nothing furthermore. Word 2007 bombed but it coped with of restoring my document. The first test failed.

What is your opinion is it readable? I think NO.

  • ‘Come in time’ – phrase in Swedish that failed. ‘komma i gång’ is similar to ‘get going’ or maybe ‘start up’.
  • ‘error spelling’ – understandable but wrong order used the Swedish order.
  • ‘översättnings’ – didn’t find the word, ok if failed. Means translation the ‘s’ is to connect it with the rest.
  • ‘blogga on’ – blogga is a new Swedish word coming from blog, on is a direct translation of ‘på’ which is a preposistion but the wrong one in English ‘in’ sounds better.
  • ‘few’ – funny mistake Swedish word ‘få’ has many translations into English both few and get is correct, but since it is a verb here it should be ‘get’.
  • ‘the good translated’ – ?? good try…
  • ‘on’ – should be ‘in’ or maybe ‘into’ I am not sure.
  • ‘since’ – ‘sedan’ has many meanings in English ‘later on’, ‘then’, ‘since’ (from my dictionary). ‘Later on’ or ‘Then’ would be correct.
  • ‘comes I’ – ?? I Swedish we have two construct for future with a verb, either ‘skall’ or ‘kommer att’ both should be translated into English with ‘will’ or ‘shall’, I think..
  • ‘nothing furthermore’ – ‘gick inget vidare’ is a kind sort of ‘failed’ if I have used ‘misslyckades’ it would have worked. But in Swedish that is much harder and asks for sympathy.
  • ‘coped with of restoring’ – ‘managed to restore’ I think sounds more correct.

So for the time being and with my budget there is no option. If I want to reach out in the world outside of Sweden I have to use my English from high school (8 years). I hope you could cope with it but probably there will be many errors. So please forgive me…