NEXT MEETING …    7:30pm Thurs 22nd February 2018:

Shuffell Trophy Round 3 for Prints & PDIs: Subject=Open, in monochrome.  Judge Malcolm MacNaughton

This is the final round of our “Photographer of the Year” trophy and members can enter 2 PDIs and/or 2 Prints.  Images should be in monochrome which is slightly wider than B&W as it allows for sepia etc: anyone wanting help please ask!

Members who haven’t entered the previous rounds might like to try their hand at this round as a prelude to participating next season or of course our “Image of the Year” competition in 3 months time.

DEADLINE for PDI uploads and Print Titles is 15th Feb. or contact us

Member Western Counties Photographic Federation   §  Affiliated to Photographic Alliance of GB

There is a huge amount of genuinely free software available for Windows computers (and Linux but if you use this, you already know that!).   Anyone not used to freeware or Open Source needs to be sensibly cautious because attempts can be made by undesireable people to trick you into downloading virus and malware programmes.

 None of my recommendations should ever require you to register, submit your email address, or give any other details and I always give the direct link to the web site.  When downloading, always choose the “Save” option rather than the “Run” option as this gives you an extra layer of safety against accidently clicking on an unwanted programme or scanner advert.   Some excellent free software is now being packaged with software you definitely need to avoid, so I now recommend members email or phone me so I can check they have got the genuine download link.

In this brief note, I will list a few of my favourite programmes together with their home page.

Why is this all free?  Some programmes are released under “Open Source” rules which have a legal framework which simply means that everything has to be disclosed so anyone else can develop it further provided they also continue the Open Source rules.  The vast majority of the internet including web servers and programmes use Open Source or near equivalents.  Other programmes can be free but not “Open Source”: their developer may offer a “cut-down” version in the hope you may buy their full professional package.  Sometimes they need to get a large user base quickly in order to be able to become credible in their field.  For example anti-virus and malware software scanners need a critical mass to prove they work!

Do be careful where you download programmes from: they often have big “CLICK HERE” buttons to entice you to install unwanted programmes, and some once-trustworthy sites like sourceforge now appear to be “wrapping” bona fide programmes with persistent adware which takes over control of your web browsing and searching.  Try to ensure you only download from the original project website and that you are not re-directed to a mirror site.


Faststone Image Viewer

This is my favourite image browser – very fast, reads a huge number of formats including RAW!  You can do simple editing, intelligent batch file renaming, resizing for emailing, and even set it up to drop the image you’re viewing straight into Photoshop or other advanced editor.


This is a relatively new variant of a good alternative to Faststone.   The big difference is that XnViewMP is multi-platform and can be run on Apple Mac as well as MS Windows.  There’s even a version that runs on Linux machines, and an App version for Android tablets and smartphones.  If you like using folders to organise your photos, give either Faststone or XnViewMP a thorough test.

Macrium Disc Imaging/Backup

Why disc back up and imaging?  Well, your photo files are likely to occupy by far the largest percentage of your hard disk, and of course, you must not only back up your disk but also find a way to archive your photos for posterity.  There are many many backup programmes available but this one is free, very simple and pretty fast.  Use it together with an external hard disk drive to make a full copy of your desktop PC c:\ drive at least several times a year (or more frequently for portable notebooks) and thus protect both your personal files and your computer operating system against misfortune.  One of the attractions of Macrium Reflect is that you can always browse your backup so you know it works, plus you can restore individual files if you accidently delete or overwrite them!  You can also create a bootable recovery CD.


PC security

As ever, if you are happy and totally confident with your present software, stick with it although you may find the following notes of some help.

For PC virus and anti-malware, some of the best programmes for home use are totally free.  At present one of the best is Microsoft Security Essentials  as it is free, easy to install and runs silently in the background without slowing your PC too much.  It provides anti-virus and malware protection and works with the in-built MS Windows Firewall for all round protection.  Provided you have anti-virus, a firewall and anti-malware installed, you are pretty safe.

Some Internet Service Providers also provide free anti-virus as part of their service, and even banks are now attempting to give you their software.  The problem is you need to understand, stay in control and be sure not to overdo it – never have two or more anti-virus scanners installed so if you use two or more different banks, you may have fun!  It can be tricky to remove one anti-virus programme to replace it with another!

IMPORTANT  Software can not protect you from some web sites that will try to trick you into downloading a “fix” or software to “repair” your computer.  Some of these can be very convincing and I was once nearly tricked late one night.  There are also people who ring you to tell you they are from Microsoft or from your phone/broadband company responding to a fault on your computer – they can be very persistant .  This is becoming a serious problem with now something like 1% of computer users having been phoned.

Please keep safe, don’t have nightmares, and enjoy your photography and computer!

Chris W

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