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Editorial Software

Dvorak on 'Rinky-Dink' Software Rant 468

DigitalDame2 writes "John C. Dvorak explores the trials and tribulations of photo editing software and why it's so difficult to use. Unless you are using these programs full-time, you spend a lot of time trying to figure things out. Is it too much to ask for a simple and powerful software program that can do the 45 things photographers do most in Photoshop?"
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Dvorak on 'Rinky-Dink' Software Rant

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  • Dear Dvorak (Score:5, Insightful)

    by katana ( 122232 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @02:35AM (#13869735) Homepage
    People may want only 12 things available, but each person may want a different 12 things. When you put several versions of the "45 things" list together, you get Photoshop. Or, uh, Microsoft Works. Except it doesn't, you see.
  • Gimp (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cave_Monster ( 918103 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @02:35AM (#13869738)
    I can't say that I have used Photoshop, but aren't script-fu etc in gimp what this bloke wishes were in Photoshop?
  • Picassa (Score:5, Insightful)

    by adisakp ( 705706 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @02:38AM (#13869751) Journal
    http://picasa.google.com/index.html [google.com]

    It's free and easy to use and doesn't install any crap / spyware.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @02:38AM (#13869754)
    He wants to do something that is fundamentally complex, which is edit photos. Okay, he wants to remove red eye? He's going to have to tell the program where to remove the red eye from. He wants to crop the photo? Is the program supposed to know how? What about rotating, changing the brightness, etc.

    Of course it's complex. What does he expect? A miracle? Artificial intelligence?

    The best, easiest software is Picasa. It's interface is pretty simple, and I recommend it to all my tech unsavvy friends, and it seems to work.
  • Parent is Funny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheStonepedo ( 885845 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @02:39AM (#13869757) Homepage Journal
    The comment is at least 100% funny. The fact that it makes fun of the subject of the article rather than making fun of Dvorak makes it even funnier and somewhat refreshing. MS Paint is an alternative for Photoshop, regardless of its simplicity and ugliness. Kids can use all of MS Paint's functions while many adults struggle to use Photoshop.
  • by ltmon ( 729486 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @02:48AM (#13869784)
    He should really try iPhoto.

    I think it matches the description perfectly.
  • Ha! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Telvin_3d ( 855514 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @02:52AM (#13869797)
    From the article
    "You want to make the picture more vibrant, get rid of red-eye, remove an object from the scene, and maybe swap the heads of the people in the picture" After all, all these things are easy to describe, so they must be easy to make as a one-click tool, right?
    As someone who uses Photoshop for a wide variety of things, the very thought of trying to boil down any one of these, with the possible exception of the red-eye, to a simple one or two step tool is ludicrous
    You want to make the picture more vibrant? Well, what type of colour range exists? What part of the picture are you trying to emphasize? What colour standard (RGB, CMYK, etc) is it in? These are a half dozen different tools for this for a reason, a different situation calls for a different tool.
    Remove an object from the scene? Well, what types of objects are around it? What is behind it? How do the shadows affect the rest of the image? The very thought of approaching this without a dozen different tools is silly. A half dozen selection tools alone. See, in Star Trek they can hit the 'delete things' button, the computer magically makes up background, but this is real life. Ditto for the 'let's swap heads'. After all, you saw a kid doing it in a computer commercial once, so it has to be easy. Almost all the same problems, and a couple more as well.
    Yes, it would be nice, but at some point the skills are necessary. If you want a more basic package Adobe and a handful of others make things like Adobe Elements which take care of a lot of this, but are still a more complex level of program. However, this is one of those things that where how complex the process is and how complicated the end result looks have nothing to do with each other. Get off it and learn the tools for the job.
  • by amelith ( 920455 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @02:53AM (#13869800) Homepage
    One thing that doesn't seem to need making any easier is to write ill-informed IT commentary columns.

    This sort of complaint would sound silly in another context. Imagine writing to a medical magazine about how "neurosurgery is too complicated" and they should make it easier to understand. Or rocket science? "They should make the 10 most common kinds of rockets easier to design".

    I'm all for cleaning up and improving some of the actively user-hostile interfaces you come across but this kind of complaint really does sound like "complicated things should be easy and require no thought or effort".

    Ironically, some of the programs that are aimed at newbies are very difficult to use because they're inflexible and patronisingly assume the user is a dolt. Better software will help people up the learning curve so they can do more complex things with their photos than they originally knew were possible.

  • Why oh why?... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TLLOTS ( 827806 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @02:58AM (#13869819)
    ...are articles like this getting posted on the frontpage (or at all)? All the article comes down to is a rant from an idiot who appears frustrated with their ineptness at being able to use image editing programs.
  • by WoTG ( 610710 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @02:58AM (#13869825) Homepage Journal
    Irfanview. It's free for personal use, easy to find, and easy to use. It even does batch conversions quite well.

    Open image. Click-drag a box to select an area to crop. Hit Menu-Something to crop. Then Menu-Something-Else to resize. I use it all the time for day to day work w/partial screen shots and other basic image tasks.

    Picassa is great too, but in many cases it's a little too invasive for a quick screenshot fix or image resize.
  • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @03:14AM (#13869869) Homepage
    Because they're hard to do and take skill. Someone who's never used a keyboard before might think it's "overly complex". "Unless you are using the keyboard full time, you spend a lot of time figuring it out".

    Here's a clue Dvorak, doing complex things requires you to learn how to do them. Why do you make this assumption that doing everything is simple?
  • From ignorance... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by venomkid ( 624425 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @03:14AM (#13869870)
    ...yeah, why can't I cure cancer? I mean, we know it's caused by *cells* and it's in the *body*. Why hasn't science made a pill to cure it yet?

    Seriously, I haven't consumed a more ignorant piece of media since the last time I watched the O'Reilly Factor.

    Information isn't that simple, mister Dvorak. How are you going to tell a computer to do you want it to do when you haven't even defined it? And when you do try to define it, it's so nebulous as to be irrelevant.

    You want to be able to do something skillful while lacking skills? And at the same time, you criticize programs that try to lead you through the process? That sounds pretty "rinky dink" to me.

  • by lynzh ( 820948 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @03:14AM (#13869871) Journal
    spend a lot of time trying to figure things out.
    Photoshop IS very easy to use, yet very powerful. What software is he using?
  • by shmlco ( 594907 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @03:22AM (#13869893) Homepage
    Oh come on, he has a point. Too many developers, when faced with designing an "easy to use" program, start out by designing big 200x200 pixel kindergarten-style icons and step one, two, three "wizards".

    Both may help the first time you do something, and maybe the second, but eventually you get the idea, and just want the stupid interface to get out of the way so you can get the job done.

    I'm looking forward to seeing how the contextual toolbars in Office 12 work. Present the options you need for the tool you're using at the time.

  • by Zork the Almighty ( 599344 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @03:25AM (#13869904) Journal
    I don't understand why people like iPhoto. It's quirky and awkward. It organizes all your photos in some crazy scheme on the disk (like the iPod!), it can't do much besides crop, and its "magic button" approach to colour fixing generally produces worse pictures than what you started with. It can't recognize duplicate photos and it will stupidly re-download all your photos every time unless you delete them from the camera - HELLO! The only redeeming feature of this program is the ability to zoom in and out on your entire photo collection, and that's a gimmick. Whoopie.
  • by el_womble ( 779715 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @03:43AM (#13869948) Homepage
    The reason photo editing is difficult to use, is because photo editing is difficult to do.

    The fundamental problem with photo software is that computers don't have a clue about what they are doing so they can't help you. You may just wan't to make the subject stand out from the background, but the computer can't tell the difference between a cat and an orange so you have to describe exactly where the subject is. Magic wand tools are a help, but there not that good because even when you've defined the outline of an object accurately the computer doesn't have a clue what it is so you still have to describe exactly what you want to do with it.

    In this respect photo editors are tools, not aids and must require training.

    Compare this to a PIM tool where the defining a data object is as easy as typing text into a text box. The computer knows what you mean when you gesture to remove an ex-girlfriend from an address book because you have told it what an entry is and how to delete it. We're many years from being able to say "remove my ex-girlfriend from all of my old photos" and have it work as effectively.

    One of the best rules of thumb in computer science is if its hard from computers its easy for humans, and vice versa. Nothing emphasises this more than dealing with images and objects.
  • by miyako ( 632510 ) <miyakoNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @03:52AM (#13869975) Homepage Journal
    Having helped a lot of friends out with Photoshop, it seems to me that the biggest problem that people face when trying to do things is translating what they want to do into "photoshop" speak. Really I think this is perhaps the most common type of usability problems in software today.
    The vast majority of the time when someone asks me for help with Photoshop the conversation usually goes along the lines of: "Hey, how can I remove a blemish in photoshop" "Use the Clone-Brush tool" or "Hey, how can I fix the color on this old photo I scaned" "Adjust the color balance", or "How can I darken this bit of the image to make a shadow" "burn tool" etc.
    It's not that these people are stupid, it's just that photoshop uses a lot of jargon that people aren't really familiar with.
    The second biggest problem I think is that people who haven't done a lot of digital editing don't tend to think in terms of things like layers, fill, opacity, etc. Instead people have the tendancy to see the image like a sheet of paper.
    Aside from these two big problems, the most common thing I see people have trouble with is selecting things out of an image- mainly because people spend an hour meticulously trying to select what they want to cut out instead of using the magic wand to select the background- invert selection and be done with it. Doing so is simply non-obvious to people.
  • by plumby ( 179557 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @03:55AM (#13869985)
    I had a superior give me a very good piece of advice once, and it has served me well. I wish Dvorak and his employers would take it to heart:

    "If you're going to come to me with a problem, make sure to bring a solution, too."

    I'm sorry. That's something I hear quite regularly and it's BS. It's just management abdicating responsibility. If there's a problem somewhere, you should call it out whether you know the answer to it or not - it won't go away simply because you don't mention it. It's great advice for getting you up the greasy pole, but it's useless for actually identifying and fixing problems.

    The correct attitude is "If you've got a problem, think about whether you've got a solution before bringing it to me". I actively encourage people working for me to come forward with problems they can't solve.

  • Re:Irfanview (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @03:55AM (#13869986)
    XNView and Faststone are both terrible replacements for Irfanview. No one who actually gets things done uses either (as a replacement). Irfanview is the best Windows image viewer, and it's superior to any viewer available for Macs. There's no question about this. Irfanview opens instantly. Instantly means as fast as notepad. Instantly. Click click it's there. The window is about 10 pixels wider than your image, and 50 pixels taller. There's no screen wasting border.

    Get Irfanview, as all winners do.
  • by Freexe ( 717562 ) <serrkr@tznvy.pbz> on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @04:10AM (#13870011) Homepage

    What is he doing using a $600 professional software package to edit photos anyway! This is not a program for your parents to edit their home home holiday snaps on, but a design tool that is very good at what is does.

    I have very few compliants about how complex this software is to use and most of them involve finding and editing muliple layers which shouldn't be a concern if you are editing photos.

    Its sounds to me that Picasa would be more to his liking or even MSPaint (and I'm not joking)
  • Re:Ha! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jhoger ( 519683 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @04:17AM (#13870031) Homepage
    As much as I don't like Dvorak, he has a point about the 20 steps to something being a pain in the ass to keep track of.

    Every time I have to search google for a common sequence of steps it's a failure of the program or help in the program I am using. Half the time I can't remember immediately the magic Google incantation that finds me the 20 steps that it took me last time.

    Yes you're right, some actions a user might want to take are inherently complex. No, we cannot make macro keys or wizards for everything, especially activities that require our brain as input.

    However, there really ought to be a better way to dynamically build help systems that help you keep track of how to do complex things. The fact is that if I don't use a program at least once every couple of weeks, if it is complex at all I'm going to hit the learning curve every time I use that program.

    The bottom line is that there is a real fundamental issue there, and where there are fundamental issues there is room to create new solutions.

    Example: imagine every time you searched google it was dead-bang-simple to associate results of searches with the program you are using. Further imagine that anyone could easily record and publish a wizard/script for any application. Actually I am thinking more of a tutor than a wizard; rather then doing the task for you, it teaches you how to do the task. You would keep the tutor around until you don't need it any more.

    That I think would be an interesting middle ground. You still have the full functionality of the app, but complex tasks always have tutors that walk you through it as necessary.

    -- John.
  • Re:Dear Dvorak (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @04:22AM (#13870043)
    Yeah, someone who can't figure out photoshop would be able to go and find all of the programs needed to do what they want. Imagine if you had a resize program, a pixel editing program, a layering program, a flip program, rotate program, crop program, exposure correction program, hue density program, a layer management program, of course a program for all of your different filters: despeckle, blur, edge detection, every effect, a program to view the file, and then a program to translate between all the different file types. Finding and installing each piece is a task in and of itself, starting with figuring out what tools are available, what version you need, etc. And then once you have them all, the interfaces between each is cmpletely different and has to be learned individually. Yeah, that sounds much better than hunting through menus for a little bit to see what I can do to a picture.
  • by OutOfMyTree ( 810249 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @04:30AM (#13870064)
    Yep, I agree. "If you're going to come to me with a problem, make sure to bring a solution, too." sounds tough, but is bad management and probably indicates a boss promoted beyond his competence.

    What benefit is there in broadcasting "Delay coming to me when you have a problem" and "Us guys at the top don't want to share the benefits of our experience with you underlings."?

    "I would be interested in your suggested solution" is great, "Don't come to me unless you have one" is stupid.
  • by Auraiken ( 862386 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @04:35AM (#13870078)
    This is a good example of why some programs are better for certain tasks as others. From experience, I rarely use photoshop for simple tasks like cropping or resizing. Small things like that tend to be used in Paint Shop Pro, mostly because it takes a split second to load compared to photoshop. However, if I want to do long-term image manipulation; photoshop, gimp, and open canvas are normally my choice ( in that order ). If i'm working on something that involves drawings or painted art, I tend to use Open Canvas. IMHO Photoshop is becoming somewhat bloated with plugins and useless features.
  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @04:41AM (#13870097) Journal
    The point is, software and hardware today are hard to use. The even more important part is: they're sold under the explicit _lie_ that they're oh-so-easy, and even your grandma could just plug one in and do everything right away.

    If I step out of the nerd "well, duh, of course it's complicated, and anyway you're an idiot if you can't write your own program to do that instead of bothering me" mentality, and try to use them myself, as a simple user... the fact is, most of these programs are a right pain in the butt.

    The user just has some seemingly simple concept, like "I want to remove the red eye" or "I want to recolor this red dress (e.g., a texture for The Sims 2) to blue, but FFS, leave the gold necklace alone. I don't want that turning purple." (I'm using that as an example, because that's one thing that _I_ got frustrated with in The Gimp. Anything short of manually tracing the outline myself, pixel-accurate, just didn't work right. The fuzzy select tool for example, just loved to go nuts and select the shoes too when I only wanted to change the dress, or and/or select random pixels from other parts of the texture.)

    From a non-technical person's point of view, as in, every-day casual conversation, it's as simple a request as it can be: "I want that dress in blue." If you went to a clothing store with your GF and asked the store assistant "is that one available in blue too?", the store assistant would understand _exactly_ what you mean. You wouldn't have to go through all the hoops that these programs make you go through.

    Tha problem is, yes, that it ends up, in your own words, "something that is fundamentally complex". And that's not what marketting told the user when they took his/her money. If they told the user "see, we have this fundamentally complex tool, and you need a college degree to use it", only then we'd really have the right to tell the user "well, duh, what did you expect?" At the moment he/she's led to expect the exact opposite.

    And, to answer your question, what the average user expects is just that a product he's bought actually fulfills those promises that marketroids made. No more. If they said photo editing would be easy and intuitive, he expects it to be easy and intuitive, not something fundamentally complex.

    And it's not an unreasonable expectation anyway. If I sold you any other product under explicit claims as to what it does and doesn't, you'd expect it to meet those claims.

    E.g., if I sold someone a bicycle under the claim that it's such a new and improved model that even someone completely untrained can use it, they'd have all the right in the world to expect just that: that if they put their untrained kid on it, that kid won't fall over. Asking then "well, duh, what did you expect? a miracle? AI?" is missing the whole point. It's not their business to know how a bycicle would stay up with someone untrained on it. It could involve gyroscopes, or a computer, or whatever. It's not their job to know that. They bought a product under an explicit claim, they expect it to live up to that claim. That's all.
  • Re:Dear Dvorak (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shaper_pmp ( 825142 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @05:07AM (#13870178)
    So what's the solution? Produce a different version of your software for every industry, company or skill-level that requires it? How is it in any way realistic or cost-effective for a company? Sure, I bet I'd love "Photoshop Bob Smith Edition", but Adobe would go bankrupt.

    I've got to say, I'd saddened by Dvorak. He was doing so well in so many ways this time, then we hit the line:

    "Make a print? How about using the drop-down menu under FILE and clicking on PRINT? Is that so off-the-wall? These programs assume that you are a dolt... these programs are in fact harder to use than Photoshop because of the rigmarole you have to go through to do a simple chore."

    So... Photoshop (aimed at professionals) is "too hard", so he gets petulant, but drool-proof bundled software that's aimed at your Granny is "too easy", so he gets petulant. This porridge is too hot... this porridge is too cold...

    So, what he's arguing for is not, in fact, some brilliant new way of presenting user-interface options or simplifying common user tasks. What he's doing is merely throwing a tantrum because the software isn't pitched squarely at his existing skill-level.

    Here's a clue, John. People who want to use Photoshop for anything regularly buy a fucking Photoshop book. People who only want to remove redeye once in a blue moon use the idiot-proof bundled apps that anyone can use. It's not a hassle, because they only do it once in a blue moon. Anyone who wants to do it regularly learns to use Photoshop... acquiring a skill because, y'know, they'll be doing the task a lot.

    Buy a book on Photoshop or learn to love using idiot-proof bundled apps... and for christ's sake Shut The Living Fuck Up, you mindless drolling old troll-fossil.

    Or just, y'know, buy Paintshop Pro.
  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @05:11AM (#13870190) Journal
    "This sort of complaint would sound silly in another context. Imagine writing to a medical magazine about how "neurosurgery is too complicated" and they should make it easier to understand. Or rocket science? "They should make the 10 most common kinds of rockets easier to design"."

    Ok, if you want to make that analogy, let's take it all the way, shall we?

    Imagine a world where people sell you stuff like an iSurgeon kit for home use, or a "RocketMaker Pro 5" for home use. In fact, they'd even throw in a free trepanation drill (you know, for drilling holes in a skull) with other products, as a teaser to make you buy the full version, same as image editing software is bundled with cameras. Imagine furthermore that you're bombarded with ads telling you "Surgery is easy! It's fun! No previous expertise needed! Why, even your old grandma could strap someone on an iSurgeon table and give them a lobotomy, like a pro!"

    Would you still think it's silly to expect those products to live up to those marketting claims? Why?

    Let's say I sold you, say, a watch, under the explicit claim that it just does its job (e.g., stays accurate) and you don't need any expertise at all to use it. Then you discover that not only it doesn't do that, but you need take it apart and rearrange its cogs even for such a conceptually easy task as setting the alarm. Would you consider that scam normal too, or would you consider it just that: a scam?

    That's the whole problem. It's not just that some software is hard, it's that it's sold as something it isn't. If it was sold as some complex tool only for experienced professionals, like surgery equipment is, then noone would have a problem with it. But the user is bombarded with ads telling him/her "Buy our iSnakeOil (TM)! It's easy! It's made for non-technical people like you! You don't need any knowledge or expertise to use it! You can do everything, no matter how complicated in 2-3 clicks, without even knowing what you're doing!"

    And then when said user has problems, we turn around and tell him/her "well, duh, of course it's complicated. What did you expect?" I.e., in other words, "well, duh, you should have known we lied to you."

    And when it's not that, it's what you yourself describe here:

    "Ironically, some of the programs that are aimed at newbies are very difficult to use because they're inflexible and patronisingly assume the user is a dolt."

    I don't even find it ironic, but yes, that is a major problem. That's one main problem I've always had with the "users are idiots" arrogance that's rampant in the software industry. Instead of trying to _understand_ the user, and exactly what is difficult for that user and why, we end up with products that are just dysfunctional crap.
  • by dunstan ( 97493 ) <dvavasour@iee. o r g> on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @05:13AM (#13870196) Homepage
    Everyone is hung up on his, perhaps, ill advised comments on Photoshop. But his comments on Palm Desktop versus Outlook are spot on. Too often user interfaces are designed by techies, for techies, without regard for how it will actually be used by knowledgeable users. Interestingly, it is the same argument which the commercial software lobby use to beat FOSS, ignoring how poor their own products usually are in the same way.

    So rather than getting bogged down in photo editing software, I'd be far more interested in people citing examples of software which has a well thought out UI, which allows simple things to be done without either having to master a lot of complexity or have the software use a condescending tone (the "rinky-dink" Dvorak talks about).

    I'll start with Noteworthy Composer [noteworthysoftware.com]: for fine output I'll work with Lilypond, but for quickly jotting down a bit of music and preparing a presentable printout and midi stream it "does exactly what it says on the tin."
  • The Perfect Troll (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BenjyD ( 316700 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @05:27AM (#13870228)
    This guy Dvorak is good - he's like the king of trolls. He includes just enough sense to keep people reading, brings up several age-old arguments and leaves enough obvious gaps and errors in his articles for Slashdotters to leap on.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @05:58AM (#13870305)
    If you set Preview (or your favourite image viewer if it's not Preview) to be your external editor in preferences you can right click and choose "Edit in external editor".

    Man, this is just a perfect example of how Apple software is slicker and more intuitive than anything Microsoft could ever come up with.

    It's as clear as day that in order to display a photo, you should obviously choose "edit in external editor". And it's only to be expected that the most convenient way to do something should be to right-click, on your... uh... okay, you're going to have to buy a new mouse first, but then you'll be able to right-click. Never mind that you've never had to right-click on anything before in your life.

    Whatever happened to simple and elegant OS design like Apple used to do? Why is OS X so much clunkier than OS 9 was? Why, oh why, have Apple abandoned human-oriented interfaces in favour of eye candy and soaring complexity?

    This sucks.
  • by Fred_A ( 10934 ) <fred@freds[ ]e.org ['hom' in gap]> on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @06:25AM (#13870360) Homepage
    I know you can use preview to view a lot of types of files, however it's a lot less comfortable than a proper image browser such as Phoenix Slides. It could presumably also be done in several other ways with the bundled software, maybe even QuickTime or something.

    However, if iPhoto had been a photo management program, it could at least have included a way to view photos. As it is, I still don't understand the point of this thing. IMO it has a very poorly designed interface.

    All in all I wasn't that impressed with the software that came with the iBook. It was mostly ok but not the insanely great UI I was led to expect by the four colour glossies and the Mac fanboys. I still like KDE better, warts and all.
    Bit I'm still glad I got the iBook, it's a fine little machine that was quite cheap, runs something that's vaguely unixy so that I can more or less find my way around it, install compatible software when I need it (even though it's kind of klunky), and the native interface while not what I'm used to is still quite a bit better than Windows. And the battery life is good and it's silent. So it's quite good value. No regrets there. :)
  • Re:Irfanview (Score:3, Insightful)

    by speculatrix ( 678524 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @07:44AM (#13870553)
    Too bad it's windoze-only
    irfanview runs faultlessly on wine.

    it's one of the few programs I really miss now I'm 99% linux, so I can get my fix that way.

    irfanview wins because it's very easy to use, and has a jpeg lossless rotation plugin. I install it on nearly every machine I help set up for other people, because I know they'd be lost with PSP and other things which are overly featured for 99% of photo processing work.

    free-as-in-beer for personal use only
    Irfan has put in a huge amount of work, it's only reasonable that commercial users should contribute - and in contrast Adobe Photoshop isn't free for personal use, is it?

  • by badasscat ( 563442 ) <basscadet75NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @08:14AM (#13870644)
    I use it once a week or less, and after three years have learnt to do a few things, but every time I need to do something different I have to spend half an hour digging through the help, which is almost as bad as a Unix man page, or Googling for an explanation. Unless you meant "easy to use after you're experienced", certainly not "easy to learn" for most people.

    But it is easy to learn the "45 things" that most photographers do all the time. Cropping, resizing, etc. are all either on the main tool palette or they're top-level menu items. If you can't figure out how to do these things, then I don't see how you can figure out how to use any modern computer application. You can have a discussion about how applications have gotten unuseable in general, but Photoshop is no worse than any other app in this.

    If you want to do something advanced, like, say, dropping realistic clouds into a cloudless sky, then yeah, it's going to take some time to learn to do that. But most photo apps can't do something like that at all, so I don't see that it's something to complain about. And most advanced tasks either cannot be automated or you wouldn't want them to be - I can't even imagine what a "drop in clouds" function would end up doing to your photos. And even if it did basically work (which it wouldn't), you'd suddenly have eight billion photos on the web that all look exactly the same with these fake-looking clouds.

    If you want a really basic image editor that's really easy to use, just download Picasa2 (it's free) and press the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button for all your photos. For most people, that's all they want anyway, and it doesn't get any easier than that (I can't say the quality will always be the best, but you can always undo, and anyway we're talking simple to use now, not best quality). Even cropping can be done automatically for common photo paper sizes, though there's no real reason I can see that you'd want to do this.

    But for anything more advanced, yes, you're going to have to do some work. To me, a lot of this whining about image editors that goes on these days is just laziness - people just want to press a button and have the software do everything for them, even if it's beyond simple things like adjusting brightness, contrast or color balance. Well, it wasn't like that when people had to process all their photos in a darkroom and it's not that way today and it will never be that way. If you want to do real heavy work on your photos, you are going to need to learn how to do things and you are going to need to spend some time doing them. That's just the way it is.
  • by sandwiches ( 801015 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @08:21AM (#13870674) Homepage
    1) Photoshop is marketed to professionals. What kind of amateur uses a $600 piece of software to take out red eye?

    2) Your "seemingly simple" example is not simple at all. Recoloring one part of a photo while leaving another one alone is not that simple. Masking is not simple. You assume it's simple and then gripe when you discover it is not.

    3) I don't even know where to begin with your comparison between a human and a machine.

    4) "Adobe® Photoshop® CS2 software, the professional image-editing standard and leader of the Photoshop digital imaging line, delivers more of what you crave. Groundbreaking creative tools help you achieve extraordinary results. Unprecedented adaptability lets you custom-fit Photoshop to the way you work. And with more efficient editing, processing, and file handling, there's no slowing you down."

    That's a direct quote from the Adobe site. No mention that it's easy. In fact, the second sentence says "professional"

    So, if you have false expectations specifically about Adobe which is what TFA is about, then that's very much your fault.
  • by Fnord666 ( 889225 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @08:32AM (#13870716) Journal
    I really don't think it helps that some of the terms used for the tools, such as Dodge and Burn, are artifacts from analog darkroom photo processing techniques. These were introduced to ease the transition for photographers from film based to digital photography. At this point they could probably be renamed to something that makes a bit more sense. It could be a configuration choice which labels/buttons/flyouts you wanted to see.

    On a different subtopic, Photoshop is a high level and very powerful tool, yet camera manufacturers will include SE versions of it with their digital cameras. Mom just wants to tweak her photos a bit but Photoshop is what came with the camera so that must be the correct tool, right? Guess who gets the support call?

  • Re:Tuxpaint? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:17AM (#13870979) Homepage
    Yeah, digikam has some pretty good tools for photo management and touch ups. I saw a tutorial for removing red eye in gimp [gimpguru.org], And it was way too complicated. Complaining about how difficult it is to use a high level professional tool is a little short sighted. Most people couldn't start up autocad and start drawing out a house. Most people couldn't start up visual studio, and program their own operating system. Why would anybody expect to be able to start up photoshop and instantly be transformed into a graphical genius.
  • by overunderunderdone ( 521462 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:22AM (#13871024)
    The problem with your argument is that the program he's taking to task is Photoshop. It's NEVER been sold as so easy to use "that even someone completely untrained can use it" but as a complex program for professionals. Photoshop may claim it can "turn the red dress blue" it even claims it is "easy". For the people it made that claim to: professional designers & photographers... it was.

    It's not akin to your magical bycical sold as so easy even the untrained can use it but an expensive racing bike that makes otherwise impossible feats "easy" for professionals.
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:26AM (#13871047) Homepage Journal
    Well, as a supervisor, I'd say this:

    If you come to me with a problem, bring me several solutions. They don't have to be workable ones, and in fact I expect you're coming to me because you don't think any of them are. So be ready to tell me why none of them work. I don't expect you to have the answer to every problem, because nobody does, but I do respect initiative. If the problem is that a decision might be too big for you, bring it to me; I may send you back to work on it and eventually you'll learn what I expect you to be able to handle on your own. I'm always free as an independent pair of eyeballs too.
  • Re:Dear Dvorak (Score:3, Insightful)

    by utexaspunk ( 527541 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:31AM (#13871087)
    yes, and then once we have all these separate tools- one for resize, one for hue/saturation, one for cropping, one for brightness/contrast, one for sharpening, one for softening, one for despeckling, one for mosaic, one for posterizing, etc, etc, etc, we'll think- gee- wouldn't it be nice if there were a common interface for these programs? something that makes it easy to step forward and backward through the changes i've made to my original image? where i can easily, visually select a part of an image once and run these different processes on that selection? and then someone will make that program, and since it'll be a suite of little tools with everything you need for manipulating photos, a one-stop shop, if you will, i wonder what they'll call it...
  • by winchester ( 265873 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:35AM (#13871131)
    Photoshop is modelled after the old analogue darkroom and film technologies. Dodging and burning comes easy to people who worked in the dark room. And once you understand channels and how they map to the analogue medium, you can do so much powerful things in photoshop. Pixel-accurate selections for instance. Unsharp masks may seem to work like magic (how can you sharpen something by using the unsharp mask?), but it all maps to analogue processes.

    For analogue photograpers like me, this is wonderful, as I can apply everything I know from the dark room directly to photoshop, and obtain similar results. I still use slide film, and scan the slides. Works wonders. Photograpers who have a digital workflow still understand very well what is going on.

    Poeple who just wish to do simple image ajustments, red eye reduction, cropping and so on, Photoshop is not the tool for them. They never were able to make those corrections, now they can, but Photoshop expects too much of a analogue background. You will leave 90% of the power of Photoshop untouched. (the digital dark room bit, that is). In that respect, Photoshop is just the wrong tool for them. Please note that this doesn't say anything about the inteligence of these people or the capabilities of the tool.

  • by shotfeel ( 235240 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @10:25AM (#13871563)
    On the Mac, the only way I know is to set a password for the the screensaver and wait for it to activate, or put the computer to sleep.

    I have a "hot corner" set up to activate the screen saver. Or you can set up a keyboard shortcut.

    But then, "maybe I don't want a password on the screen saver ALL THE TIME".

    I'm sure I can come up with specific sets of conditions that Linux doesn't handle without an "external application or something". In all OS's if you want something very specific you have to do some work to get it that way. And if you really think all OS's are as bad as they were 20 years ago, I have to say I completely disagree. Just the ability for a PC to run more than one program at a time...
  • by winchester ( 265873 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @10:26AM (#13871574)
    Same here, actually. Anyone who dares to compare Photoshop to Gimp has either no clue what they are talking about or are so blantantly biassed that they should keep their mouth shut. Gimp is nowhere NEAR photoshop, in terms of functionality, feature-set and workflow. Everything I want to do in Photoshop is either very hard or impossible to do in Gimp. And no, the lack of a CMYK color space is not one of them...
  • Re:Dear Dvorak (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @11:24AM (#13872059)
    Come to think of it, that meshes into my personal definition of the difference between ignorance and stupidity: If someone is ignorant of a particular topic, they do not have the knowledge or skills associated with that topic. They can be educated. Stupid people are aware of their own ignorance and simply don't care. Contrary to the common aphorism ("You can't cure stupid") you can choose not to be stupid by putting in some effort. I guess then, John Dvorak is stupid, or at least acting stupidly.

    I feel that there is a problem with your definition: must I then educate myself on everything? I don't know much about theater, and I don't particularly care to learn more about it. When my wife talks about it and I can't follow should I be derided as stupid? Should I accept the other option (to follow Dvorak's article), that my wife should say "Don't you worry your pretty little head about it, honey!"

    What Dvorak wants - a resonable, yet brief explanation - isn't unreasonable, though it might be impractical.

    Oh - and Paint Shop Pro is totally the answer.
  • Re:PhotoStyler (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aardvarko ( 185108 ) <webmaster&aardvarko,com> on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @01:13PM (#13872999) Homepage
    Photoshop's color picker can average 3x3 or 5x5 pixels; right-click in the image to select which you want. The crop tool is, and always has been, pixel-accurate at 100% or greater zoom.

Forty two.