New Tools

 Posted by at 1:06 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 242012

It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, whether you are a mechanic, a carpenter, or a plumber, you need the best tools you can get your hands on to do your job. Now, anybody who knows me knows that I am not allowed to touch any kind of tool you can buy at a hardware store, but I still have tools to do my job. In my case, those tools just happened to be things that are fun to play, with like computers, software programs, and digital cameras.

A lot of our time yesterday was spent setting up and getting used to some new tools. Until now, both Miss Terry and I have done our bookkeeping, which was a chore I really hated. A while back Terry volunteered to take over the bookkeeping if I would get her a current copy of QuickBooks. Always one to shirk any duty I can, I quickly jumped on that offer. So a lot of Terry’s time yesterday was spent installing the program and getting it set up the way she wants it to be.

As I wrote the other day, I have kept my ancient Dell desktop computer running beside my iMac, because there are some programs that are not available on the iMac. Yes, there are programs like Parallels that are supposed to allow you to switch from one to the other on the iMac, and I have it, but I wasn’t very impressed with the way it worked.

So when we were at Sam’s Club the other day, Terry spotted an Asus laptop running Windows 7 at a good price and we picked it up. I plan to replace the Dell with the new laptop, but use the wireless keyboard and the 21 inch monitor that I use with the Dell, because a laptop screen and keyboard just don’t seem to work well for me. Yesterday evening, our friend Barb Westerfield spent a couple of hours getting the new laptop set up for me, transferring programs and such.

The iMac has made it much easier and much faster in producing the Gypsy Journal. The one hang-up was that, while I was able to upgrade Adobe InDesign, the program I use to lay out the newspaper, my version of Adobe Photoshop was too old to qualify for an upgrade when we switched to the iMacs. A new version of Photoshop cost over $600, so I tried a less expensive version called Adobe Photoshop Elements. There were things I couldn’t do with it that I need to when producing the newspaper, so I was still using the old version on my Dell for the color photos.

Adobe has a new program going whereby I was able to lease Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and all other Adobe products on a monthly basis at a very low price, so I decided to give it a try. Yesterday evening was spent downloading the new programs and getting them set up on my iMac.

There’s one more new tool decision to be made soon. While Terry loves her Panasonic Lumix FZ-40, it has been giving her a lot of problems lately. When she zooms in and out it locks up and she gets an error code, when she turns the camera for a vertical shot the display screen goes black, and the built-in flash has never been all that we would like it to be. So we have been looking online at new cameras, trying to decide what our next step will be. We really don’t want to go to an interchangeable lens SLR, due to weight and a hassle lugging around an extra lens or two. That gets to be quite a load when we’re out all day covering stories for the paper. We have been looking at some Nikon and Canon models, but haven’t found one yet with comparable lens configuration to Terry’s Panasonic and that also has a hot shoe for an external flash. The Canon SX40 comes close and will accept an external flash. We’ll see what our research turns up.

This is our last day in Elkhart, and we plan to leave for Celina on Saturday. We have quite a bit to do before we leave, so it’s going to be another busy day! But aren’t they all?

Thought For The Day – Everything we think of as great has come to us from neurotics. It is they and they alone who found religions and create great works of art – Marcel Proust

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Nick Russell

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  14 Responses to “New Tools”

  1. Nick & Terry, I do a lot of wildlife photography and have used a Canon Digital Rebel for several years and have been happy with it except for the weight and the need to constantly change from the zoom to wide angle lenses. But I wanted something lighter and an all-in-one camera. I received a Canon SX40 from my son for my birthday in May and have been very impressed with it in every aspect. I expected to use it as a second camera to my SLR, and to take it with me in my canoe. But I have found that since I got it the SLR has sat in it’s case. The SX40 does 90% of what the SLR did, it is lighter and is easier to carry and use overall. Picture quality is superb. I think you will be happy with it.

  2. Hi Nick, If you are looking for a new camera, check out the web site:, they have extensive reviews of nearly all camera models along with thorough testing.

  3. Have you inquired about sending the camera to Panasonic for repair? We sent our Canon G7 Powershot in and had it repaired. It was cheaper than buying a new camera and works great. Also, there is a camera repair guy on Ebay we have used. Figured my little pocket camera that I loved (Sony) was trash since Sony wouldn’t repair it. I like it because it has a viewfinder which you cannot find on pocket cameras anymore. We got it fixed by “Tran” for $49. It’s still working great.

  4. I sure like my new Canon T3i! With a lens that goes from 18 wide angle to 135 telephoto, I rarely need to change lenses.

  5. Nick, You might want to use 2 monitors with the new laptop, the built-in and the external. You will find you can get much more done. For instance, in accounting, you can have one monitor viewing online bank statements and the other running the program. Try it. You’ll be glad you did.

  6. Nick, have you looked into the new mirrorless ILC (interchangeable lens camera) class of cameras? They have swappable lenses but are a fraction the size and weight of a normal slr. They’re really catching on. Olympus E-P3, Sony NEX-series, Panasonic G-series, are all getting good reviews. Jim

  7. I have a Canon SX40 and adore it…the 35x optical zoom is fabulous!

  8. You should have whatever tools it requires to be successful. . .go for it!


  9. Similar experience to you Mr Bob Hensen. We bought a point & shoot fully automatic Kodak CD 82 on sale a couple yrs ago to augment our Nokia D-70. It wasn’t long before the D-70 with numerous accessories stayed in the big bag and the CD-82 became like a set of car keys always handy in our pocket. It is amazing how a $75 camera is almost as versatile as $2K worth of photographic equipment. We are now shopping for something different. From the above comments it sounds like the Canon SX 40 might be worth looking a little closer at. The D-70 package is for sale if anyone is interested.

  10. When my Canon SX10 started misbehaving much like Terry’s Panasonic FZ-40 I started researching a new camera. I ended up choosing between the Canon SX40, essentially an upgrade, and the Nikon p510. Since I didn’t need the hotshoe I went with the p510 and have been happy with my choice. I do love the 42X zoom. But if I needed the hotshoe I am also sure the HX40 would have also made me happy. Since Terry was happy with the FZ-40 before it had issues, the Panasonic FZ60 might be feel more comfortable and can probably use the same flash for the hotshoe.

    I went through the SLR/point-n-shoot debate a few years before I had a digital camera. I found myself carrying and using my Fuji point-n-shoot more than my two Minolta SLRs with a nice set of lenses. I keep looking at Sony DSLRs since they will use those Minolta lenses, but remember my experience and stay with a point-n-shoot.

  11. We should arrive late Saturday….looking forward to seeing you and Miss Terry!!

  12. My old camera was dying so I did alot of research. I almost went to an SLR but the weight & battery issues would have prevented me from using it as much. I wanted a high zoom, fast shutter speed, under $500, was a point & shoot,but still had some manual settings. The winner was Sony Cyber-shot DSCHX20v . I LOVE this camera. It has 20x optical zoom & up to 40x clear image zoom, Fast shutter speed, great pics. You can crop in the camera. Set manual settings. Even take 3d pics or HD movie. For $20 more you can buy the next camera up 30v) which has wireless camera to computer downloading. Take a hard look at this one.

  13. re: Adobe updates- I had the same problem- Photoshop CS does not get me the upgrade discount. So I picked up a copy of CS3 on eBay and used that. Costs a lot less than the full-price new version. I just don’t feel comfortable using a cloud version yet. Plus- $600 a year?!

  14. John,
    It’s $360 a year for me, but that includes Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, PDF Creator, and several other programs I use or can use. Besides, if I don’t spend the money, the IRS will.

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