Laugh like a child – a taste of pure joy!

photo108I don’t laugh – laugh like a child – very often these days, but yesterday my early Christmas present to myself arrived – a 24-inch IMac – and a few hours later our grandchildren were here helping us decorate the tree. That was great family fun, as usual, but what happened next had no scripting, no planning – just spontaneous reaction, and oh my – I really enjoyed it.

Maybe you will too. A brief explanation before the slide show. The kids discovered the Imac, I turned on the “Photo Booth” software ona whim – unused until that point – and they just started going wild. I started snapping photos and videos and it was non-stop fun for nearly an hour, with the dogs and an occasional adult getting involved as well – all taking advantage of the built-in – and weirdly cool – filters. It was like tumbling into one of those old-time, carnival fun houses!

Hmmm. . . right now WordPress isn’t letting me embed the Flickr slide show. So for the complete show, go here I am able to make avideo of it, though, so . . .

Hey, maybe no one cares – maybe this was only fun if you were there – maybe you’ll be bored to death after yu see the first picture nelow. That’s OK – just turn it off – I just hope everyone manages to have such fun once in a while and, of course, you don’t need a new toy to do so – but for me it was just such an unexpected Christmas bonus! See for yourself.

I should add here that I’m hard of hearing – I was wearing headphones with a little amplifier so I could follow the conversation – and this hearing problem has frequently made it difficult for me to relate well to children – I simply seldom can understand what they say, even when wearing sphisticated, very expensive, hearing aids. (See my earlier rant here.) So the experience was priceless – and I feel like I’ve done my part to help the slumping economy as well πŸ˜‰

Interested in details of how this is done? OK. I don’t have a clue how unique this is or isn’t to the Mac. And it may all be old stuff to other folks. But I didn’t even know the capability was there in this Mac – I bought it because in my retirement I still design some Web sites and stuff and it has been more than six years since I had a new machine.

I knew “Photo Booth,” which came with it, allowed you to see yourself on the screen. I didn’t know anything about how it worked and I didn’t have to – it was all so typically Mac intuitive. The kids just hammed it up and I just kept clicking on things. I took six videos, each of which went a minute or two. Picture quality and sound was great. Where’s the camera? Not at all obvious – hidden near the top of the screen, I think, where there’s a tiny green light that comes on during these sessions.

Remember those old photo booth at the amusement park? Put in 50 cents – was was it 25 cents? – and you got four pictures of yourself – or maybe of yourself and a friend hamming it up! Well . . .

I think the main goal here is for use with video chat – I got to give that a try – and to do things such as create iconic photos for social networking sites. The fact that when you stand in front of the computer your image appears on the screen made it instant fun for the kids. When I then started clicking on various backgrounds that could be added to it – clouds, Paris, the Moon – they started gobbling up the clouds and trying to eat the Eiffel Tower! I found I could throw in photos of my own from Iphoto, so I put in one of the puppies playingin the snow. That lead to the real puppies joining us and in the mean time we had discovered all the “fun house” mirror filters that were included and that just lead to more craziness. “Try mirror image!’ Try “squeeze – no try swirl!”

To take a picture you just click and it gives a 4-second countdown and makes a sound like a camera. The photos you take can be ported right over to Iphoto library and from there to email or whatever. I picked out some of the better, exported them to a folder and sent them all up to Flickr where it was simple to create this slideshow. You can then email a link to it – or grab the code (copy) and paste it into a blog like this one.

Honest folks – people put down technology sometimes – especially people of my generation – but there is some genuine usefulness showing up here – usefulness for grandparents especially and well beyond what I discovered in this one instance. Take a look at this NYT article, for instance. Makes a whole lot of sense to me. And yes, all of this is genuinely simple. You don’t need to be a techy. I’m a writer with not a spec of formal computer training. People say we spend too much time in front of the computer. I say we don’t spend enough time – time like this, anyways πŸ˜‰

And happy holidays to all!



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