“Just google it …”

Something I’ve only just recently become aware of is that people don’t know the difference between Google and an internet browser. Now this is a spectacular success for Google (the company) and drives their revenues up a lot, but means that users are potentially missing out on a lot in terms of their internet experience so this short note attempts to address that balance, albeit in a very small way!

How did this come about? Well principally because Google introduced an app for the iPhone and other smartphones and tablets called (unsurprisingly) … Google. It presents in a nice easy to use interface a way of searching for information on the internet – that is how Google started after all, which is how they also managed to corner the term for searching the internet – “just google it”. [You don’t hear many people saying – “just bing it”, or “just yahoo! it” – in fact in the case of the latter they just gave up and decided to use the Google search engine and ditch their own one.] So … at a stroke, new users to digital devices thought that the way to connect to the internet was through their “Google” app.

No, no – there is another way that presents you with so many other possibilities and no, no – you don’t have to restrict yourself to using just Google as your search tool. [In an earlier post I described some experiments with using DuckDuckGo and other search engines and I will return to that subject at another time.] So … what might you use?

Well even using Google’s Chrome browser is better than using the Google app on your smartphone or tablet. It probably uses the same software  “under the hood” based on Google’s Open Source Chromium code base but it does offer the possibility of adding extensions, and allowing the use of alternative search engines.

But what else could you use? On my iOS (Apple mobile devices) I tend to use Apple’s Safari browser. On my desktop/laptop I tend to use Chrome, or Firefox (another Open Source project) from the Mozilla Foundation. Then there’s Microsoft’s Edge – supplied with Windows, or Opera (a lean,  clean browsing machine), or I could be really radical and use something like Brave (and I am) which doesn’t track my browsing history … but I’ll leave that for another day, and for another post.

For today, the message is simple … don’t use the Google app as your main internet browser, just use it if you want to for simple searches. Find a browser you like and use that … and maybe even choose which search engine to use, it doesn’t need to be Google – I’m using Chrome with DuckDuckGo as I write this. You won’t regret making a change to your internet browsing/searching experience – believe me!

 

 

 

Decisions, decisions … Adobe Lightroom

A couple of U3A members have expressed an interest in purchasing Lightroom. It’s a confusing time in the Adobe world at the moment and the window for purchasing a stand-alone desktop version of the software (Version 6) is possibly closing, possibly … I don’t know!!

Adobe wants its users to move on to a Subscription-based Photography Plan which includes access and use of Photoshop as well as Lightroom, or alternatively a new Lightroom Creative Cloud Plan that is cloud-based with loads of cloud-storage and access to just Lightroom.

I decided to join the original plan about two years ago, and I hadn’t regretted it (until recently), but it does involve an ongoing commitment of c.£10.10 (currently) per month to allow you to keep editing your photos. If you cancel your subscription you can still access them, but the main editing functions are disabled. On the plus side you are provided with all the updates and new versions of the software whilst you still pay your subscription. As it was the main piece of photo software I used – it was a no-brainer for me back in 2015.

When I moved from Lightroom v.5 back in 2015, I opted for the Adobe Photography (20Gb) Plan Creative Cloud subscription. This is obtained from this link.

However beware. Adobe are pushing the cloud based service, rather than Lightroom as a desktop application, and are confusingly using the name of the old subscription Desktop application – Lightroom CC – to describe the mobile-world, cloud-based version which they are trying to push to the consumer market.

The desktop application is however ALSO part of the Photography Plan and IN MY HUMBLE OPINION this is the one you should be installing if you opt for the Photography Plan. It’s NOW called Lightroom Classic CC. This is the version that I upgraded to in the New Year – you could call it Lightroom 7.

However, as I said at the top of the message; if you just want a standalone, one-off purchase of Lightroom v.6 with a CD, it’s still available from Amazon for instance (also John Lewis, Curry’s and PC World I believe), or from Adobe direct.

Installing the standalone version from Adobe is relatively straightforward. You need to create an AdobeID as part of the process, and then you get a Licence Key. If you want to save c.£6  and NOT have the CD you can get it as a download to install the software – see the links from the Amazon page to get the “ xxx Activation code by email” version.

If you have an earlier version of Lightroom (e.g. v 4 & 5) you can upgrade it from this link and save yourself about 50% on the purchase price of Lightroom v.6, and if you’ve installed the Lightroom CC trial here’s a link if you want to change to Lightroom v.6.

Now this is important. Lightroom v.6 will not be upgraded in the future. It is not straightforward to go back to Lightroom 6 from Lightroom Classic CC (v.7) without losing some of the information you’ve applied with that later version. However for the amateur photographer there is plenty in Lightroom 6 and unless you’re thinking of buying some very expensive camera bodies and lenses in the future you probably won’t suffer from just using Lightroom v.6.

Installation assistance for Lightroom 6 is provided here.

If you decide to go down the Creative Cloud subscription route (as I did initially), you should be careful during the installation process, and you may find it useful to follow the assistance provided in this link.

If you want to ask me any questions before making a decision, don’t hesitate to do so, it will be my pleasure to try and answer them. If I can’t answer the question I will point you to a link which I think will answer the question.

So what is my recommendation? This matter has taken up a lot of my time just recently and I’ve agonised over the decision I should make. You can read about my reasoning and the decision I eventually made to probably stay with Lightroom v.6 whilst trying out Lightroom Classic in this blogpost.