5 on Friday: Photo Extensions

Many of you may serve on committees and are responsible for providing pictures to a printer.  YIKES!  What do you do now?  What are you supposed to send to the printer?They want a certain kind of file extension.  What the heck is that????

A file extension is the suffix of a file name that comes after the “dot.” For example, a file named “Lyla_birthday.jpg” has the file extension “.jpg.”

Among the different extensions:  JPG, GIF, PDF, BMP or PNG. Each of these types of photos does a different job, so it is important to know which one to use for which job.

So here’s a short (and extremely simplified) primer on photo extensions. 

JPG:  JPEG image stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group which developed the format. It compresses the information in the picture for use on the web, but maintains high quality and limitless color.  This is the most common and the default extension on most computers.  It can be used in virtually any situation.

GIF:  Graphical Interchange Format. GIFs are common format for Web graphics, but are limited to the number of colors they can display. GIF images can also be animated and saved as “animated GIFs,” which are often used to display ads on websites. They may also include transparent pixels, so GIFs can be layered over other images or text.

PDF:  Portable Document Format. Commonly used for e-mail attachments or for saving publications in a standard format for viewing on multiple computers; usually created with Adobe Acrobat or another PDF creation program. PDF files can be opened and viewed using the free Adobe Reader, which is available for most Web browsers. PDF files may contain text, images, forms, annotations, outlines, and other data. They preserve fonts and formatting electronically and appear the same on the screen as they will when printed on paper.  Commercial printers love PDFs and may ask for them when printing your job.

PNG:  Portable Network Graphic. Similar to GIF, but a PNG cannot be animated.  When you grab pictures off the web, they will often come in as PNG.  These will need to be SAVED AS JPG or PDF for use in some applications.

BMP: Bitmap Image File. Uncompressed image comprised of a rectangular grid of pixels which are little squares of color. All digital images are made up of pixels,   You may never use a BMP image EVER.

So, in your everyday world, you will use JPGs and PNGs in your computer. You will send and receive PDF documents as attachments in emails and to share and print.  Unless you’re working in graphics you will rarely use BMP or GIF.

As a final note, you will need a photo editing program to change one image extension to another.

So when you are tasked with printing the flyers for National Night Out, don’t despair!  Just remember that JPGs and PDFs go to the printer!

Ciao, sweeties,



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Wednesday Wine Pairings and Memories

This week our daughter, Molly, and her husband, Beau, and two tiny daughters are moving, so I am helping them pack.  They have been living for the past three years in my mother’s home–our “family home” if you will.

So as we pack, we discover a mix of their new, techy, trendy stuff: the baby monitor, the hydraulic wine opener, the digital photo frame.  And I pack a gilt clock of my mom’s, brought back from Europe, decades-old children’s books, a gift from Beau’s mother to Lyla, and a closet full of Christmas decorations, left behind because they “belong” to the house.

Memories for me,  memories for my child, memories to be made for her children, all carefully wrapped in newspapers and packed into boxes, to start their new lives in a new home.

I love that high tech gadgets and antique books can co-exist under one roof. I’m glad my children appreciate their roots and celebrate them.

But they still love a cool, new “thing.”

They’re our kids, after all.

And now a word from someone who appreciates old roots, too.  Grape ones.

Wine of the week: Chateau Bonnet Rouge 2010

Chateau Bonnet rougeChateau Bonnet Rouge ($10, purchased, 14%) is the quintessential cheap red wine:

• It tastes of where it’s from, in this case the Bordeaux region of France. That means enough fruit to be recognizable (mostly red); some earthiness so that it doesn’t taste like it came from Argentina or Australia (almost mushroomy for this vintage); and tannins that make the wine taste better.

• Varietally correct, so that the merlot and cabernet sauvignon taste like merlot and cabernet sauvignon, and not some gerrymandered red wine where the residual sugar level was fixed before the wine was made.

• It doesn’t have any flaws or defects, and is consistent from vintage to vintage.

In this, it shows that simple wines can be enjoyable and that simple does not mean stupid or insulting. What more do wine drinkers need?

And if the Bonnet needs any more to recommend it, this was a four-year-old $10 wine. Too many four-year-old $10 wines don’t make it past 18 months before they oxidize or turn to vinegar.

Highly recommended (as are the Bonnet blanc and rose). The only catch is pricing. Some retailers, even for older, previous vintages like this, figure they can get $15 for it because it has a French label that says Bordeaux. It’s still a fine value for $15, but I hate to give those kinds of retailers my business.

Thanks, Jeff, for the rec.
Ciao, sweeties,

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Mini-Tip: Managing Computer Files

A couple of glasses of Chardonnay ago,  I told you how to find all your files on your hard drive. Now let’s take it one step further.

Suppose you want to divide one folder of photos into three or four in order to manage them better.

Using the instruction from last Friday, open your PICTURES folder.  Click it open and you’ll find some individual photos or maybe more folders with photos inside. These folders might be identified by a date, place, event or person’s name.

Let’s say you want to move pictures into a new folder. To make a new folder:

1 – Right-click anywhere in the white space (not on top of an existing photo file).

2 – A drop-down menu will appear with New as a choice near the bottom of the list.  Click on New.

3 – Click on Folder when the next drop-down menu that appears.

4 – A new folder will appear. It will be named New Folder and be highlighted in blue type. You can then type right over the blue with whatever name you want to call the folder.

Now you can click open this folder and one of the old ones that was already there then drag photo files back and forth between them to manage them as desired.


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5 on Friday: Finding Your Files

Computer-keyboadSo you’re not sure exactly where your computer puts things when you hit save and close. You may be able to locate the files you use all the time by opening Word or Excel or the Pictures folder in Libraries or Favorites. But what about navigating to seldom used files or folders?

I’m talking about the official path to finding any file in your computer.  Contrary to popular belief they don’t actually live in Libraries or Favorites or on your Desktop.

Here’s the most direct path to all of your files:

1 – Click the Start button at the bottom left of the screen. That’s the one I call the WINDOWS ORB.

2 – Click on Computer on the right side of the start menu that pops up.

3 – The window that opens will display all the available drives in your computer. Click on Local Disc C. That’s where the files live that you always use.

4 – Click on Users in this alphabetical list of manila folders.

5 – Click on the folder that has your name or owner or something similar that identifies your master folder of stuff. Don’t click on Default or Public.

Once you’re in this master folder you will see all the sub-folders that store your various files including downloads, contacts and music. From here you can move files back and forth between folders, delete files, drag them off onto a USB stick (flash drive) or open them and work with them in their respective programs. The computer won’t care how you move them around or manage them. You can even make more folders or folders inside folders,  but enough clicking for now, we’ll get to that next time.

Ciao, sweeties,

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Wednesday Wine Pairing

I’m currently standing in line at the Apple store waiting to check out the new iPhone.  So we’ll just turn this blog over to Jeff Siegel, the Wine Curmudgeon, forthwith.

Yes, I said forthwith.  I’m standing in line and I’m bored.

Kerrville 2014: They really like Texas wine

texas wineRosanne Palacios rose to her feet, took a breath, and then slowly and carefully, in front of the hundred or so people in the audience, said: “I”m a recovering Texas wine snob.”

The crowd cheered and there was even a ripple of applause. “Five years ago,” said Palacios, a hospital development director in Laredo, “I thought all Texas was wine terrible. Then I came here, and I’ve been drinking Texas wine since.”

Here was the Texas wine tasting at the annual Kerrville fall music festival, where I’ve been preaching the gospel of Texas wine for almost a decade. So you can imagine how I felt when Palacios stood up. Giddy, practically. But that wasn’t the only reason to be excited about Texas wine based on what I saw during my three days in the Hill Country:

• There was the 20-something man at the Walmart automotive center getting a flat on his pickup truck fixed. “I don’t drink much wine,” he said, talking about the Texas wineries he and his wife had visited over the weekend, “but this has been a lot of fun.”

• The chef who stood up during the Kerrville panel and said, “Thanks to the Texas industry for getting this right. I was here 20 years ago, and I really wondered if they’d ever be able to do it.”

• The middle-aged Jack Daniels drinker who made a return trip to one winery tasting room because he couldn’t believe how much he enjoyed the wine. He even bought a couple of more bottles.

This does not mean there still aren’t problems, which I saw at this year’s Lone Star judging and that cropped up a couple times over the weekend. We still have a long way to go with wine education, for one thing, though that’s not necessarily a Texas problem. What’s important is that the first step in making Texas wine work has been taken. Consumers are willing to try it. Now the onus is on the wineries to produce quality wine at an affordable price that is uniquely Texas, and not a California or French knockoff.

Because consumers like Palacios are ready, willing, and able. “I’ve got a lot of wine drinking friends who won’t drink Texas wine,” she told me when I chatted with her after the panel. “So I’m going to do a blind tasting with these wines when we do our next tasting.”

What more can any wine business ask for?

Thanks, Jeff. I, for one, love Texas wine.  I think I’ll give up the Apple store line and go fine some.

Ciao, sweeties,

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Photos: The Rule of Thirds


Nine-section grid that makes up the Rule of Thirds

I love it when you all ask me questions!  I live to be needed, so don’t hesitate to comment or question any post.

My friend Mikky asked about the Rule of Thirds I mentioned in my last post.  So, here you go!

The rule of thirds is a guideline for  composing photographs or graphic presentations like websites or advertising.  Looking through the viewfinder of the camera, imagine that the image is divided into a grid consisting of nine equal parts.  The subject of your photo should be placed at one of the intersections of the imaginary lines.

By placing the subject off-center, more energy, motion, and interest are created in the image overall.  In the examples here, you can see that by putting the would-be subject near the grid intersections, the setting becomes more important.

Flagstaff056     Flagstaff044

In the next example, placing granddaughter Lyla in the right-hand of the picture, conveys a sense of forward motion.  And I will promise you, she was definitely moving forward as she hunted Easter eggs.

phone with horiz image

So, there you have it, Miss Mikky.  Thirds Rule!   And thanks for asking!

Let’s hear from more of you.

Ciao, sweeties,

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5 on Friday: Taking Better Photos

chewbacca desktopSummer’s over, but here comes fall.  It’s the season of hot cider, crispy leaves, and knubby sweaters.  And pictures of the kids.  School pageants.  Pumpkin carving. Halloween costumes. Football games. And leaf raking.

This season, let’s create some beautiful pics of children enjoying cooler weather and all that comes with it.   Here are some tips.

  1. Take the time to get ready.  Get into a comfortable, stable position. Hold the camera steady with both hands.
  2. Decide whether you need flash or not.  Not using flash indoors will likely cause the camera to shake and your picture will be blurry.
  3. Don’t shoot into the sun or a window or lamp.  Put the light in front of your subject.
  4. Frame the shot.  Use the rule of thirds. Put your subject in the center of the shot or  to the side if the scenery or setting is important.
  5. Move in.  Take a closer picture to capture an expression, detail of clothing, aging hands, a bed of flowers,  the texture of stone.   But if the scenery or setting is important, back away from your subject.

So, go forth and shoot tons of pictures.  Then get them out of your phone or camera and into the computer so you can print a copy for your mother.

More to come as always.

Ciao, sweeties,




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Wednesday Wine Pairing & Mini Tip: Laptop Battery Life

Today I’m talking to you laptop users. You are now the majority of computer owners.

Here’s one quick rule for long laptop battery life.

Don’t leave your electrical cord/charger plugged in all the time. That’s right, unplug it until the computer notifies you to plug it in to charge the battery up. If you operate with the power cord always plugged in, your battery will quickly learn that it serves no purpose and it will become lazy and weak.

If you leave the laptop plugged in all the time, then unplug suddenly because you have a need to use it somewhere remote,  don’t be surprised if the battery runs completely down in ten minutes or so.

Rechargeable batteries need to work for a living or they die. It’s a little more trouble to plug and unplug the power cord every two to three hours but it’s good to know you can rely on the battery when you want to browse the Web out by the pool.

Speaking of out by the pool.  I bet Jeff has just the thing for the last swim of summer.

Wine of the week: Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Line39 Sauvignon Blanc 2012In the old days, which in wine means the end of the 20th century, sauvignon blanc came in three styles — California, French, and New Zealand. Each tasted like sauvignon blanc, but was just enough different from each other to be noticeable. Some time after that, the first two styles started to merge toward the third, so that most sauvignon blanc tasted like grapefuit. That’s because the New Zealand style was about as trendy as trendy gets, and we know how the wine business loves a trend.

Fortunately, the styles have started moving back to where they used to be, and especially in California. I’ve tasted a variety of delightful California sauvignon blanc over the past 18 months, where grassiness — the smell of a freshly-cut lawn — is the predominant note. There is also citrus and tropical fruit, but those don’t overwhelm the grassiness, and the wines are refreshing and enjoyable.

A fine example of this change is the Line 39 ($10, purchased, 13.5%), which has worked its way from New Zealand to California over the past several years. In this, it was always more than adequate, but has improved the more California in style that it has become. The 2012, which is apparently the current vintage though a bit old, is grassy, with lime fruit and rich mouth feel. All of this makes it more than just another grocery store sauvignon blanc. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2015 $10 Hall of Fame.

Thanks, Jeff, for the rec!

Ciao, sweeties,

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Where Did I Put That Icon?

desktop-lylaLosing control of your house, kids or daily schedule is bad enough. Losing control of your desktop icons can drive you crazy. And what happens if they disappear off the desktop all together?

But we’re jumping ahead. Let’s start at the beginning.

What, exactly, is the desktop?

Boot up your computer and it goes through some startup screens until it comes to your desktop, your main screen, the one with all the icons, your start button down in the left corner and the time in the right corner. The time usually has other little icons swimming around it. We’ll get to their purpose another day.

The icons on the desktop, with the exception of the recycle bin, are just shortcuts from your main startup menu. You can add or delete them as desired. This does not add or delete them from the computer. It doesn’t change their functional status in any way.

Except for the recycle bin. You need it to keep junk from piling up in your computer. Delete the recycle bin icon and it takes some doing to get it back.

Having trouble keeping your desktop icons arranged the way you want them? Right-click anywhere on your desktop that is not on an existing icon. You will get a drop-down menu that includes view as one of your choices. Mouse over it (You may have to left-click on it) and you will get several choices for how your icons are displayed on your desktop. These range from completely automatic to a custom arrangement in three different sizes. The only one that must be checked is show desktop icons otherwise they will all disappear.

There are other choices on the desktop right-click customizing menu. I talked about the personalize button a few posts back. And we’ll talk about the others another day. For now, at least, you have your desktop under control.

Unfortunately, there’s no where to set a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. You’ll have to use your actual desktop for that.

Ciao, sweeties,

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5 on Friday: Keeping Up with the Stuff

softwareIt’s fun to watch treasure hunters on TV when they open storage units to reveal the bounty within.   I’m waiting for the moment that they open a box to reveal stacks of computer software discs and operation manuals. OH NO!

Hubby Scott, the computer whisperer, has told me for years how rare it is for his clients to be able to lay their hands on all those important items. That leads to having to download anew or re-purchase expensive software.

So here are some things to remember:

  1. Put all your software discs and manuals in a plastic tub with a lid.
  2. It’s okay to put EVERYTHING in the tub–for software or hardware.
  3. Just FYI–software refers to programs you run in your computer,  Hardware refers to physical pieces of your computer or printer like the monitor or speakers or the computer itself.
  4. Stash the tub on a closet shelf or under the desk.
  5. Go through the tub occasionally (maybe when you get a new piece of software to put in) and throw out all the discs and manuals for hardware and software you no longer use. If you’re in doubt whether to keep something–KEEP IT.

It’s better to be safe than sorry.  And Hubby Scott will be so excited.   And you will save time and money!

It’s  happy day!




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