Fixing old photographs

Old family photos are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for family historians, but often when you find them they have been damaged over the years. I have been practising my photo-editing skills to overcome this problem.

I have used Paintshop Pro for years. I know it’s not the industry standard; when I was deciding between it and the similarly priced Photoshop Elements (the cut-price version of Adobe Photoshop, which is very expensive) I decided that Photoshop Elements was going to take too long to learn and I just didn’t have time.

That was years ago, and Photoshop Elements has come a long way. I have continued to upgrade Paintshop Pro until this last one, and I still like it for some things like lightening up the photos I’ve taken of archival documents. Last year I was persuaded to buy Photoshop Elements for fixing scratches in photos because it does it so well and so easily. They have really tried to make Elements easier for novices to use since my first trial all those years ago.

This is one I worked on the other night for a client using Photoshop Elements. The brickwork was particularly tricky!

Unedited photo

 

Here is the photo after I had a go at it:

Edited photo

I spent about an hour on this on my laptop while watching TV. When I got to the bottom left corner I just decided that there was too much woodwork anyway and cropped the bottom off. There’s still more I could do. I was a bit nervous about his eye but I think it works.

Photoshop Elements and Paintshop Pro are about $100, depending on where you live; less for an upgrade. Paintshop Pro has most of the same tools as Photoshop Elements but Elements has a very cool brush  that lets you paint along a scratch and it takes the image on either side and fills it in for you. It’s like magic!

Online software

Today I attended a Dear Myrtle webinar on free online photo editing software, and was introduced to PicMonkey. It is fully-featured photo editing software that runs online. You can start editing without even signing up, upload (or drag) the photo you want to edit, and the resulting photo is stored on your computer, not on the website. And it’s free! I was very impressed.

Have a look at PicMonkey. Save a copy of your photo, upload the copy, and see what you can do. You can always undo what you’ve done, or rub it out with the eraser, so don’t be afraid to experiment. And you have your original stored safely because you made a copy to edit. Always make a copy before editing.

I highly recommend Myrtle’s webinar for a demonstration of how easy it is if you’ve never played with photo editing before. She recorded it so it should become available soon.

MyHeritage buys FamilyLink and WorldVitalRecords

I DO NOT WORK FOR MyHeritage or FamilyLink or WorldVitalRecords. THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO TO HELP YOU.

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MyHeritage has bought FamilyLink and WorldVitalRecords. MyHeritage is a social network for sharing family history and family trees, and it does it very well. FamilyLink is an attempt to do something similar that never really worked, in my opinion, and WorldVitalRecords is a source of genealogy-related records, like Ancestry, that also never really made it, at least in Australia.

FamilyLink has/had a Facebook application for creating and sharing trees that I could never manage to get to work properly, which is a shame as I think there is a market for such a thing. I had a subscription to WorldVitalRecords that I haven’t used for a long time, and now that I’ve gone in there again I can see that it looks exactly the same as FamilyLink:

FamilyLink.com

My subscription to WorldVitalRecords was most useful for its Australian content from Archive Digital Books Australasia, which has since moved to FindMyPast.com.au, and so I haven’t been in there for a long time.

It all sounds like a particularly messy family tree, doesn’t it!

I will be watching to see what MyHeritage does with its new purchase.

This is the press release from MyHeritage:

MyHeritage Acquires FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com

Significant move into US and addition of historical content mark major evolution for world’s most popular online family network
PROVO, Utah & LONDON, UK & TEL AVIV, Israel-MyHeritage, the most popular family network on the web, announced today the acquisition of FamilyLink.com, Inc., maker of the family history content sites FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com. This is MyHeritage’s seventh and largest acquisition since 2007. The purchase marks a significant move into the US market commercially and operationally, and will boost MyHeritage’s offering to families with the addition of a vast database of more than 3 billion historical records. With offices and staff in Europe, Australia and Israel, MyHeritage will now be adding its first US-based office in Utah, the home of FamilyLink.com and often cited as the family history capital of the world.“We are delighted to join forces with the talented FamilyLink team in Provo to deliver meaningful value to families across the world,” says MyHeritage CEO and Founder Gilad Japhet. “Combining close to one billion family tree profiles on MyHeritage with FamilyLink’s massive library of historical data delivers a perfect one-stop-shop for families looking to discover and share their family history”.Founded in 2006, both FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com are subscription services which provide access to a huge database of historical content, covering several billion individuals within census, birth, marriage and death records, as well as the web’s largest archive of historical newspapers. This content will deliver new insights and value to the 60 million people who have signed up on MyHeritage in 38 different languages, creating more than 900 million profiles in 21 million family trees. When brought together under the MyHeritage umbrella, the company’s innovative Smart Matching technology will automatically match any of the new historical data to the relevant users’ ancestors and relatives within the family trees.“Our team of family history veterans couldn’t be more excited about joining forces with MyHeritage”, said FamilyLink.com CEO Paul Brockbank. “This acquisition creates new horizons in exploring family history. People will receive the opportunity to search the most comprehensive historical content sources and make exciting new discoveries; share this information with their close family and save it into their family tree. Combined under the leadership of MyHeritage, the service will continue to flourish and add more value to millions of families”.MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet adds: “The establishment of a US base for MyHeritage in Utah, the international center for genealogical research, is an important milestone in our growth and brings about an exciting opportunity for the company and the families we serve. MyHeritage provides the perfect service to collect the family’s treasured archive to share and keep for future generations in a setting that is friendly and secure – and now we’re excited to top this off with vast amounts of content that will add more color and life to family trees. Through our powerful search engine and automatic Smart Matching technology we’ll find your mother’s yearbook, your great-grandfather’s will and your ancestor’s immigration record, leaving you with the time to marvel at, enjoy and share your family heritage. We’ll do that on a massive, global scale, as we live in a world that is smaller and more tightly connected than ever before”.This is the latest in a series of strategic purchases by MyHeritage since 2007 which have included Pearl Street Software, makers of GenCircles.com and the Family Tree Legends software; free family tree backup service BackupMyTree.com; European family social network market leader OSN (Verwandt) GmbH; Dutch family network ZOOOF; British family network Kindo.com and Polish family network Bliscy.pl.The majority of the FamilyLink.com employees will join MyHeritage, based out of the company’s new US office in Provo, Utah: bringing the benefit of their collective expertise within the family history and North American genealogy market. The CEO of FamilyLink.com, Paul Brockbank, previously CEO of Logoworks and GM of Hewlett Packard Web Print Solutions, will play a key role in supporting the transition over the coming months and will later join the MyHeritage advisory board. FamilyLink.com founder Paul Allen, previously a co-founder of Ancestry.com, and FamilyLink.com’s “We’re Related” Facebook application, will not be part of the merger with MyHeritage.

In the short-term, MyHeritage will continue to operate the two sites FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com, with the intention of achieving full integration within MyHeritage in 2012. With immediate effect and for an introductory period, loyal subscribers and users of MyHeritage will be entitled to discounts of up to 50% on FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com subscriptions, and vice versa.

About MyHeritage

MyHeritage is the most popular family network on the web. Millions of families around the world enjoy having a private and free place for their families to keep in touch and to showcase their roots. MyHeritage’s Smart Matching™ technology empowers users with an exciting and innovative way to find relatives and explore their family history. With all family information stored in a secure site, MyHeritage is the ideal place to share family photos, and celebrate and preserve special family moments. The company is backed by Accel Partners and Index Ventures, the investors of Facebook and Skype. For more information visit www.myheritage.com.

Ask Google!

GoogleIf you are having problems with a computer application, or a new wireless router, or a printer, or even a cake that won’t rise, type your problem into Google and look at the answers.

I’ve been struggling since Wednesday with a new wireless router. It worked fine for all the computers and phones in the house except my Windows 7 Professional laptop, and despite spending hours on the phone with technicians at Netgear and Dell I fixed it myself by finding the answer in a forum that I found by using Google.

Then I couldn’t get the printer to work, and I used Google to find the answer, which was to delete the printer and then reinstall it.

Then the printer would print the same document over and over again until I took the paper out of the printer. I typed this into Google: “hp laserjet p1102w printer prints multiple copies” and read through the first 3 results, and one of them had an answer. I had to uncheck a box that was ticked in the printer configuration options. Now it works fine. Only one copy.

I have a fair few years experience with computers from my days as a computer programmer. If I have trouble getting things to work, I can imagine how hard it must be for people who have spent their time more productively. And I am always encouraged to see that other people have the same problem as me.

Ask Google! There are people out there who have had the same problem, and others who know the answers and take the time to write them in a blog post or a forum question. If you don’t understand the answer, or the next person in the discussion says it didn’t work, move on to the next result in the Google list. Find one that spells out the steps you have to take in a way you can understand.

Here’s another example. One day a few years ago my husband’s ageing laptop wouldn’t start. I went looking in Google for suggestions. One of them said take the hard drive out and put it in the freezer for a while, then put it back in and try starting it up. We didn’t try that one. Another person had suggested turning the laptop upside down and pressing the power button. We tried that and it worked! The laptop started up normally and we were able to get everything backed up.

Remember what you did so you can undo it if necessary, especially if it tells you to change a setting somewhere. Write it down if you think you may not remember, or keep the page open that has the instructions so you can go back and do it again in reverse it didn’t work. The chances are it won’t matter if you don’t change it back, but it might.

You are not alone.

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