photos has never been easier
by Alan Zisman (c) 2003 First published in Business in Vancouver
Issue #724 September 9- 15, 2003 High Tech Office column
On August 11 HP's
CEO Carly Fiorina introduced 158 new consumer products,
including printers, all-in-ones, digital cameras, scanners, DVD
recorders, Media PCs, and more.
Stealing a page
from Apple's playbook, Ms Fiorina said: "The digital
experience is anything but empowering.... There is nothing harder than
making something complicated easy." HP's new cameras and printers, she
said, would cut the steps needed to print a digital photo from "more
than 50" to three.
That left me
puzzled. fifty (or more) steps to print a digital photo? So I plugged
my Olympus C-720 digital camera into my Dell notebook
to see just what it would take to print a photo. Quickly, a dialogue
box popped up offering possible actions, including "Print Pictures
using the Photo Printing." One click to select that, another to click
"OK." Up popped a list of 10 print arrangements and sizes. One click
to select a size, another to click "OK." Done. Total: four clicks.
nice ($75) Photoshop Album software installed, I could have
picked that from the initial pop-up. Then, I would click on "Get,"
then click to close Album's initial window. Click to select the
to print, and again on the printer icon. Finally, select a size and
page layout from an extensive list, and click "Print." Nine clicks,
but still reasonably quick and easy. Album provided more options
without overwhelming the user.
Apple, with its
digital hub strategy, has tried to make it easy for users of new Macs
to get down to business with digital cameras, camcorders, MP3 players,
and the like. On my Mac, when I plugged the camera in, Apple's free iPhoto
program popped up. I clicked "Import" to get the photos, selected my
photo, and clicked the "Print" button. Again, I got to choose a size
and layout option, and clicked "Print." Total: 5 clicks.
using a relatively new camera with modern operating systems: Windows
XP and Mac OS X 10.2. Users of older hardware and software don't have
built-in tools to simplify these tasks.
At work, I have
an older Agfa ePhoto 307 digital camera connected to a Windows
98 system. In order to use the camera with either a Windows or Mac
computer, Agfa's PhotoWise software needs to be installed. Then
double-click an icon to start the program (I guess that counts as two
clicks for Ms. Fiorina). Click on the "Camera" menu, and on the "Get
Pictures" menu item. Another click to approve the folder name where
the photos will be stored. Click on a photo, then click on the "File"
menu, then click "Print." Click "OK." Once installed, even this older,
proprietary software only needed a total of eight clicks.
So I remain
baffled how Ms Fiorina needs 50 clicks to print a photo. Nevertheless,
some things remain too complex, requiring users to navigate through
screens of mysterious icons and translate dialogue boxes of jargon.
On those new
Windows XP and Mac OS X systems, users shouldn't just unplug their
cameras when they're finished. (Ironically, I can safely do this with
the older camera.) On the Mac, the camera appears onscreen as a disk
drive, and users need to drag this to the "Trash." Simple, if not
In Windows XP,
it's more complex: first, locate an icon in the lower right-corner
with a microscopic picture of a card (or something) with a green arrow
over it and double click. A dialogue box pops up, labelled "Safely
Remove Hardware." No camera is listed; instead, pick "USB Mass Storage
Device" (huh?), and click "Stop." This time, a second list pops up,
including the camera name. Pick it, and again click to shut it down.
Finally, you get a notice that it's safe to remove the device.