Friday, January 4, 2013

Digital Imaging Essentials

When I saw advertising about Geoff Rasmussen's book Digital Imaging Essentials : techniques and tips for genealogists and family historians (Australian edition) I was quite excited as I thought that this would be the book for me. I duly ordered a copy by mail from Gould Genealogy.

Having received the book I now have mixed feelings, I have not yet completely digested its contents but have read most chapters (more than once) to form an opinion on the work. I will apply my favourite PMI strategy (with my librarian's hat on as well) to review this book.

I really wanted to give a positive review of this book as it has great potential but I had to be honest.  Hopefully a Revised Edition will be published soon. I trust that the issues in the print edition will be sorted in the mooted ebook version of the title.

  • The book is a useful resource for beginners and would be a valuable addition to a library if a revised edition was published (see Minus).
  • It has a Table of Contents and an Index.
  • It has many illustrations.
  • I realised that I did not need this book; it confirmed that I have a a reasonable knowledge in this area.
  • Diagrams in the book are not labelled.
  • The book is poorly formatted with too many blank pages and too much white space. There are many instances where text wrapping could have been employed and image sizes reduced.
  • The number of pages in the book could have been reduced resulting in paper not wasted, trees saved and even a few cents on the final cost.
  • The book  received was supposed to be an Australian edition. Some attempt has been made to Australianise it yet American terms and examples are used  eg on page 28 the author writes "if I lost the digital image of the death certificate, I could reorder it from the vital statistics department." On page 79 an American example of Minneapolis, Minnesota could have been replaced with an Australian example eg New South Wales, Australia.
  • There are formatting errors eg on page 24 the text commences with " Above are two documents...": the documents are actually at the bottom of page 23.
  • The scanner section ignores sheetfeed scanners that are commonly used in business to scan large amounts of paper. These are great tool for the genealogist who has lots of loose paper and photographs to scan. 
  • Chapter 5 fails to warn that not all scanners will work seamlessly with all computer operating systems or programs like Photoshop Elements or Picasa. 
  • The quality of some of the images in the book is poor. All labels on the menu bar on the screenshots on pages 123 and 124 are so fuzzy that they cannot be read. There are fuzzy images on many pages eg 40, 50, 117, 136. 
  • On page 117 the author stresses the importance of adding a citation to a digital image but appears to only give instructions for Photoshop Elements (apologies if I have overlooked the Picasa instructions. In this instance that referred to clipings from US newspapers it would have been good to show people how to save clippings from Trove with citations already attached - another case for Australian examples.

  • One should take what one reads on a vendor's site with a grain of salt
  • I should have waited and perused the book at a Gould event; I would not have purchased  it after an inspection and could have saved my money. Ahh, the perils of impulsive online shopping.
  • The author has based his book on a collection of 20,000 images. I had a different experience with Photoshop Elements (albeit an earlier version) when I used it with my collection of 50,000 images. I now have 90,000+ images and Picasa works well with them.
  • I thought the file formats were TIFF and JPEG (not TIF and JPG as mentioned in the book) as shown in the diagram on page 25 and the file extensions attached to files were .tif and ,jpg. A small point but nonetheless important.


Suzie Henderson said...

Thanks for the "heads-up" on the book quality. Will check it out in person before purchasing. I appreciate your specific examples. I'd expect better from Geoff as I have high respect for him.

Cut him some slack, however on the tiff/.tif and .jpeg/.jpg issue. tiff and .jpeg are the Mac versions.
.tif and.jpg are the PC version of the same format.
Each reads the other correctly but there is not right or wrong.

Not sure where Unix falls. I upload a.jpg to my website, but if I download the same image to my mac it comes back as a .jpeg!

GeniAus said...

Thanks Suzie. I think .jpg and .jpeg are both file extensions and JPEG and TIFF are file formats.

Some of the issues may not be Geoffs they may relate to the publishing.

Rosemary said...

Jill, you say, All labels on the menu bar on the screenshots on pages 123 and 124 are so fuzzy that they cannot be read. I suggest that this has been done deliberately so that private information is not readable.

GeniAus said...

That could be the case, Rosemary, as I have noticed purposeful blurring on other clear images in the work.

Perhaps a note to this effect would help curious people like me :-))

Judy Webster said...

Thanks for this honest review. I think I will borrow the book from a library and save my hard-earned dollars for something else (maybe the next edition of Google Your Family Tree). I was pleased to know that Picasa works well with your 90,000+ images, as I am planning to switch to that programme.


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