Digital Slide Shows on Your Palm
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Displaying pictures in AlbumToGo
When you open AlbumToGo on your Palm device, you're greeted with a list of photos you've previously uploaded. You can either view them individually or show them off in a slide show. Amazingly, there are seven transitions to choose from, and you can activate pictures for the slide show by checking the box next to the image title.
The photos are amazingly sharp with a pleasing gray-scale palette. According to Club Photo, the creators of AlbumToGo, the images are automatically dithered using an error diffusion method to provide the highest possible image quality for any given screen. Their technology works surprisingly well. I viewed one of my test photos on both a Visor and a Palm V -- the image looked identical on both.
Of course we're talking about a Palm monochrome screen here, and not a TFT display with thousands of colors. As with most monochrome Palms, the quality of the image display varies with environmental lighting conditions. So if you want to show off the family album, I suggest you don't do it outside in the bright sun. If color is important, then take a look at the Palm IIIc.
I discovered that I could improve results by cropping my JPEGs beforehand in Photoshop and saving them a little oversized, such as 400 x 400 pixels. Then I'd adjust the levels and sharpen the images before moving them over to AlbumToGo.
You can also beam photos to other Palm users. First you need to send the receiver the AlbumToGo application. Club Photo warns that if the receiving device has any existing AlbumToGo image files, they will be overwritten when you upload the app. I'm not sure why anyone would have images without the app, but now you've been warned too. Once the receiver has AlbumToGo, you can send individual photos from within the application. It's really quite fun.
The benefits of metadata
You might be so excited about being able to display your pictures on your monochrome PDA that you overlook the clever metadata functionality of AlbumToGo. By opening the Note tab on the desktop application, you can enter caption information, copyright notice, and keywords. The text can be read on the Palm by clicking on the note icon that accompanies the file name. This information stays with the photo as it's beamed from one device to the next.
You can attach metadata to your images by entering text in the Note field.
What's really cool is that all of that data is searchable via the Find button on the Palm. If you receive a photo that doesn't contain any metadata, you can add it yourself by switching to "Notes" mode within AlbumToGo and entering the text. Since I put copyright info with every photo I share, users can pull up a listing of all my images by simply searching on my name.
AlbumToGo is a steal
AlbumToGo isn't designed to show landscape pictures from your recent vacation (unless you have a color Palm IIIc). But it does do a good job of displaying people and things. There are real practical uses for the road warrior who needs to show a picture or two without lugging around a laptop or a product portfolio.
When using this application, be sure to crop your pictures tightly, bump up their contrast, and sharpen them as needed. By doing so, you'll be able to enjoy the benefits of this nifty application and expand the capability of your existing PDA.
Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit www.thedigitalstory.com.
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