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Camera Tricks

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When is a camera not just a camera? When itís a photocopier, scanner and fax machine too.

This revelation came to me one serendipitous day at a Chapters bookstore when I spotted a guy taking snapshots of magazine articles he was reading. He would leisurely flip through the pages, occasionally commenting on something he saw in the pages to his female companion. This much was normal. But every now and then he would take out a camera and snap a photo of a page he had a particular interest in.

He did this in a natural matter-of-fact sort of way as if this was what one did at a magazine stand when one wanted to read the rest of an article later at a more leisurely pace.

Needless to say, I was outraged. I mean, why hadnít I thought of that! I thought, "Wow, thatís an even better idea than having a photocopier installed in the magazine section - you donít even have to wait in line for the photocopier and you save yourself a dime for every photo taken."

However, Iím not advocating a life of crime like Bonnie and Clyde there at the Chapters. The beauty of these situations is that one can extrapolate from them to other more general and legal situations. For example, what works at the bookstore could surely work at the library.

Whatís wrong with just taking digital images of articles at the library instead of schlepping them to the photocopier and emptying your pockets of all your change?

Save your change for Tim Hortons. Just remember to turn off the flash to avoid both the glare of the page and the glare from the librarian as you snap away. When you later load the pics onto your PC, you can print them out for a fraction of what the library charges for photocopies, or you can just put them into a slideshow and study from that.

If youíre the type that embraces technology to the fullest, feed them into an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) program and youíll have editable text that you can copy, paste and change for your essay. Try that with a photocopy! And hey, if the original article was in colour, itíll remain in colour on your laptop too. Got a colour printer? Even better.

Now, itís not much of a leap to see how you can do the same thing with faxes. If you have a form you have to fax instead of email, then fill it in, sign it and snap a picture. If you have a fax/modem, now is the time to discover the ďfaxĒ part. If you lack a fax/modem, then use an online fax service. Simple.

And thatís not all. If you have some photos you would like to scan to send to your online lover (you know, the ones from first year before you got fat from spending so much time at the library) but donít own a scanner, then can you guess what the other use of a digital camera might be? Thatís right, just take a digital picture of your photo Ė and now you have a ďscanĒ that you can email, Photoshop, or do whatever else your little heart desires.

And now for the bonus section: Your digital camera makes for a great emergency map. Take a photo of a map of the city you are visiting - or if youíre the type that gets lost easily, the city you live in. Then next time you find yourself lost, you wonít need to ask for directions Ė just whip out your camera.

With skillful use of the pan and zoom buttons, youíll find your way.

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