Nothing big happening on The OS Quest this week. Did some researching and stuck my toe in some areas. So let’s recap and see if i can decide where to go next.

Google Docs and Spreadsheets (Visit Site)
I’ve been using Google Spreadsheets for awhile but nothing big. One sheet to track my fountain pens and another to track car expenses and gas mileage. I’d signed up for Writeley but never used it. I decided to use try using Writeley to write up my Windows XP Install. But behold, the Writely URL brought me to Google Docs and Spreadsheets.

So far it looks like “Docs and Spreadsheets” is nothing more than a new front end that manages both docs (Writeley) and spreadsheets. At this time there doesn’t appear to be any integration of the apps. For example, spreadsheets can’t be embedded into docs. At least not yet. Google avoids comparisons to MS Office.

I’m not heavy into Word Processing or Spreadsheets for home use, but both seem perfectly acceptable for what I need.This blog entry [link removed – blog gone] was done with Docs, which also allowed it to be published here. I could also publicly post the document as shown here.

Definitely worth pursing and I’ll keep using it, at least for now.

Well, well. Just did a spell check on this doc. Interesting that “Google” isn’t in the dictionary and is flagged as misspelled. “Blog” as also flagged as misspelled.

Photo Software
I’ve been looking at what’s out there for low cost digital photo organizing and editing software. I currently have iPhoto which came with the Mac and I have Adobe Photoshop Elements. Haven’t spent a lot of time with either editing photos. I’ve used iPhoto for organizing and Elements for any editing.

I have a Nikon D50 which can do RAW photos so I decided to see what other options are out there. Having seen a few apps for RAW workflow reviewed in the past I found a couple reasonably priced options. Nikon has also released their own photo editing software recently which has gotten good reviews, although it’s more expensive than the other.

I downloaded an eval of Bibble a month or so ago. If I was to buy it I’d be using the “Lite” version which goes for $70. I used it for a bit and liked the results. It’s not like I actually know what to look for in this software but it had options that seemed powerful Isince I had no clue) and options that I could use to improve the photo. It’s only for RAW photo processing. Had the ability to batch process but that’s not something I really need. It was a little slow on my Mac Mini (1GB) but not unbearable.

I recently downloaded an eval of DxO Optic Pro (version 3.5 for the Mac, version 4 is currently only available for Windows). When I installed it a second install kicked of that installed copy protection software which caused the software to lose points. More points were lost a day later when I was gold the eval expired. The download said it was 21 days. The start up expiration message said it was 21 days or 10 uses. I didn’t actually count used but find it hard to believe I started it 10 times (might have been ten photos with each photo being a use).

Anyway, DxO is based upon modules for camera bodies and lenses. These module contain a profile for the body or lens to automatically correct the photo. The eval on allows one lens and they didn’t have a module for the lens I used to take my test photos. But, the automatic updates were OK and there seemed to be plenty of manual controls. Again, it’s not like I know what to look for in this software. The “Starter” version doesn’t support SLR’s so I’d need the Standard version which lists for $150. I didn’t pursue the premature expiration. With my limited requirements I wouldn’t be shelling out $150. While I had only a short time to use it the software displayed previews quicker than Biddle on my Mac but the processing and output of jpg files was slower.

Nikon Capture NX software was recently released from Nikon. I downloaded a 30 day trial. It’s also $150 does. Unlike the DxO software, it’s something I might pay the $150 bucks for. It’s a full featured editor. I uses the concept of control points to make the edits. Another feature I like is it keeps a list of the changes which can be turned on and off as needed without losing the settings or having to go back multiple undoes. Probably not for people who are used to (and like) Photoshop (or similar apps) as the concepts are totally different.

Then there’s the free stuff. Google Picassa 2 has an iPhoto plug-in for uploading to web albums. The Windows version can import the Nikon NEF (RAW) files although not the EXIF camera data. As for the Web Albums there’s a 250MB limit (for free space). An additional 6B is available for $25/year. Interesting that the company that pioneered massive space for e-mail is offering less than others for photos. The Windows client includes some photo editing capabilities (which I haven’t looked at yet). Yahoo photos has unlimited storage for web albums but I didn’t see any photo editor. The upgrade they’re promoting will have the ability to edit photos.

So, bottom line is, I going to continue to look at Capture NX until the eval expires. I can’t justify the $150 price for what I need but it looks intriguing. I just have to look at the free stuff first and expand my skills.

And finally there’s Sharpcast which seems like a really cool concept. They’re currently offering a free (for the remainder of the year) 5GB account. There’s web based photo album piece. But the cool part (if it works) is the syncing between the web and all PCs that have the Sharpcast client. Even if you have only one PC the web storage serves as a seemless backup. They currently only have a Windows client. They promise Mac and iPhoto support. They’ll offer a free account after the beta although the storage amounts and upgrades aren’t announced. The real potential seems to be their planned support for other file types.Here’s some Google searches for information about the software mentioned:

Bibble Photo Software
DxO Optic Pro
Nikon Capture NX
Yahoo Photos
Picassa (Google Photos)

Itching to fire up another old PC and do some Linux installs. I haven’t used the PC since moving into this place. Just haven’t had a place to put that big old 21″ CRT. I’ll have to fire up the PC to make sure it survived the move then start looking for some low cost LCD screen. Gotta fire up another OS.

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