Sunday, August 31, 2008

TOTW #6: Windows Vista, Buying a Digital Camera

Computer Tip: Windows Vista

There is a lot of negative press out there about Windows Vista, some of which is deserved, but much of which is not.  In an attempt to quell some of the rumors, here's my take on it.

Myth: Windows Vista crashes more than Windows XP.
Reality: Hardware drivers (the software created by the manufacturers of the cards and peripherals to make them work with Windows) in the early days of Windows Vista were quite buggy, and some did in fact cause the computer to crash.  At this point in time, however, the problem seems to have been resolved, especially with the release of Service Pack 1 for Vista.  For most people Vista will be more stable than XP.

Myth: Windows Vista is slower than Windows XP.
Reality: If you attempt to run Windows Vista on a computer that doesn't meet (or barely meets) the minimum recommended requirements it can be painfully slow to run.  Because Vista has more features and more going on behind the scenes, it does require a faster computer with more memory than Windows XP, so it will feel slower.  Some features are faster, though, such as startup time.  But as long as a computer is relatively new and has sufficient memory and CPU power it will run Windows Vista just fine.  My recommendation: if you are buying a new computer and it will come with Windows Vista, make sure you have at least 2 GB of RAM, and a newer video card.

Myth: My old software won't run on Windows Vista.
Reality: There are some pieces of software that cannot be made to run properly on Windows Vista, especially things like anti-virus and anti-spyware utilities.  Fortunately, though, these are in the minority.  Some applications which appear to misbehave can be made to run perfectly fine by adjusting the Compatibility Mode for that application (right-click the program's shortcut, select Properties, then Compatibility Mode).  As an absolute last resort, running the programs with administrative rights (right-click, select Run as Administrator) goes a long away to making older software work as designed.

Myth: Vista will bug me with Cancel or Allow prompts all of the time. 
Reality: When you are setting up your computer for the first time you will be asked if you want to Cancel or Allow different operations quite a bit.  Once you've got everything setup the way you like it, though, you'll only be given this prompt when you install or update software on your computer.  The reason for this is that Vista is more secure, and programs aren't allowed to make changes that affect the way the computer operates without your explicit permission.  XP didn't require this because most people ran it so that permission wasn't required to make permanent changes.  If you're used to a Mac, the same situations where you're asked to enter your password are the times when you will receive a Cancel/Allow prompt on Vista.

Myth: Vista is harder to use than XP.
Reality: Not really.  For someone sitting down at a computer for the first time it is actually easier than Windows XP to learn.  Features tend to be placed where you would expect them to be for the most part.  It just seems harder because we're all used to the way that XP does things.

Myth: I shouldn't upgrade my computer to Windows Vista.
Reality:  You probably shouldn't.  Vista runs best on new computers.  Computers that came with Windows XP probably won't run Vista very well.  The same was true of XP when it first came out as well, though to a lesser extent.  This is normal for new operating systems.

As for me and my house, I am continuing to run Windows XP on the computers that have been running XP, and am running Vista on the computers that came with Vista.  I have only attempted to upgrade one of my computers, and it worked out okay, but only because it was a blazingly fast XP machine to start with.  Under Vista it is just okay.  I advise against upgrading unless your computer is quite new and has a lot of memory.

Multimedia Tip: Buying a Digital Camera

Some of this will be a repeat of an early post on my blog, but digital cameras are so common, and tend to have such short lives, that people end up buying them fairly frequently.  So here are a few tips.

Unimportant Numbers

Megapixels: Manufacturers throw around megapixel ratings like they are the most important specification on a camera.  My advice: ignore it completely.  Any camera with a 5 megapixel or higher resolution sensor will be more than enough for anything you're likely to do with any of your pictures.  On point and shoot cameras the picture quality actually suffers as the number of pixels on the sensor goes up if the sensor size is the same on two different models.  See my Megapixel Myth post for more info.

ISO Sensitivity: ISO is a measurement of the camera's sensitivity to light.  On some cameras you'll see numbers as high as 6400, and even higher on the newest models.  In truth, on point & shoot digital cameras any ISO setting higher than 400 is going to be totally unusable (even 400 on many models).  Like megapixels, ignore this number.   On digital SLRs, this number starts to take on some meaning, but no purchasing decision should be made on it alone.

Digital Zoom: Optical zoom indicates the zoom ratio of the image as it comes through the lens and is focused on the digital sensor.  Digital zoom, on the other hand, takes the captured image and zooms in, which results in a significant loss in picture detail.  Ignore any "digital zoom" numbers completely, and look for "optical zoom" numbers instead.  Digital zoom is totally worthless.

LCD Size: It doesn't really matter what the size of the LCD on the back of the camera is, it's the LCD's resolution that makes a difference in image quality.  If the screen gets bigger without adding any additional pixels it will look worse than its smaller equivalent resolution screen.

Important Numbers

Unfortunately for camera buyers the most important numbers usually aren't advertised by manufacturers.  If you can find them, though, you'll have a much better idea of just how good a camera really is.

Sensor Size: Usually measured in fractions of an inch. The larger, the better.  But pay close attention to the way the numbers are written, since they are fractions of an inch, so 1/2 is larger than 1/3, for example.  The larger the sensor, the sharper your images will be, and the more sensitive the camera will be in low-light conditions, both of which are very good things.

Lens Size and F-Stop: The f-stop is a measure of how large a lens's iris can be.  It is expressed as a fraction, so f2.8 is larger (and better) than f5.6.  But because it's a fraction based on the focal length of the lens, you also have to take the physical size of the lens into account, so two different size lenses can have the same f-stop range.  Bigger lenses (look at the glass, not the barrel!) let more light in and give a much better image.

Shutter Lag: How long it takes between the time you press the shutter button and when the camera actually takes a picture.  On low quality cameras you might wait a second or more.  On better cameras the picture is captured virtually immediately.  That difference might just be the determining factor between getting and not getting the picture you want.

Useful Features

Among the myriad of features advertised by camera manufacturers, the ones that will actually help you get better pictures are: Custom white balance, face detection, optical image stabilization, boutique brand lenses, predefined scenes, and low ISO (<100).  Most other features are gimmicky, just don't work as advertised, or don't do anything to help you get better pictures.

There you go... happy shopping!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I had a company that specializes in helping people get out of debt place an order for my FileBack PC software a few minutes ago. When I tried to run the credit card it was declined. The reason it was declined? It was over the credit limit.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

TOTW #5: Why So Slow? & 50 Cent Tripod Substitute

Computer Tip: Why So Slow?

The biggest problem I see with computers these days is that they are just too darn slow. Even new computers out of the box suffer sometimes. The common misconception is that computers are usually slow because their processor isn't fast enough, but that isn't the case most of the time. The real reason that most of our computers are too slow is because they don't have enough memory.

Computers use two primary types of storage. Temporary storage, in the form of RAM (Random Access Memory), and non-volatile storage in the form of a hard disk drive. When you start a program on your computer a copy is made from permanent storage to temporary storage (hard disk drive to RAM) and the program is run from RAM. Many programs, including Windows, OS X, and Linux themselves, usually require more RAM than is actually available in the computer so they use virtual memory to temporarily store data from RAM to the hard disk drive whenever isn't needed immediately. Then when the time comes that it is needed, data from another program is moved out of RAM to the hard disk drive to make space to pull the required data back into RAM. The problem with this scenario is that hard disk drives are literally thousands of times slower than RAM, so it is a very slow and painstaking process to move data back and forth. Every time you see your hard disk light flashing when you aren't loading a program your computer is swapping data back and forth.

The more programs you have running on your computer (and remember that your operating system is really one very big program) the slower it is going to be if there isn't enough RAM to store all of the data required. Upgrading the RAM in your computer cuts down on the amount of swapping going on, thus improving computer performance dramatically. In many cases you can double, triple, or quadruple the time it takes to start, switch, or use programs just by upgrading your RAM.

How much do you need? If you are running Windows XP or OS X Tiger, 512MB is a decent starting place, but all three are happier with 1GB or more. Windows Vista and OS X Leopard require much more RAM to be happy, so 1GB is the minimum recommended, with 2GB or more being ideal. To find out how much you have, in Windows right-click your My Computer icon and select Properties. In OS X, look under the Apple menu, About This Mac.

If you need more RAM, I recommend shopping at; they have a really easy to use wizard to tell you what type of memory your computer needs, and they have great prices. Installing memory is very easy, and is usually done by unscrewing a single cover or panel, and snapping the memory board into place. In most cases you can upgrade to 2GB for less than $50. It's a cheap fix for an aging, slowing machine.

Upgrading your RAM will give you a very noticeable improvement in performance for not a lot of money, especially if you have a 'budget' computer that didn't have a lot to start with.

Multimedia Tip: 50 Cent Tripod Substitute

So imagine you're hiking in the mountains with your camera one evening and you spot a bird 25 yards away that you'd like to get a picture (or video) of. No problem, right? Except that you're in the shade under cover of trees, so there isn't much light. Holding the camera with just your hands will then cause the picture to blur, and the bird is far enough away that you'll have to zoom in, making your shaky hand that more detrimental to the picture. So you need a way to steady the camera, but you don't want to carry a tripod. Enter the 50 cent tripod substitute.

You'll need:

  • You'll need a piece of string just longer than you are tall.
  • A short 1/4-20 screw or bolt, about 3/4" long.
  • Maybe a large metal washer if you want to get fancy.

Get a 1/4-20 screw or bolt from your local hardware store. They'll know what 1/4-20 means (1/4" diameter, 20 threads per inch). But get something short, like 3/4" or so. Some instructions I've read recommend getting an eye bolt with 1/4-20 threads, but that makes the project more expensive without getting any better results.

Take one end of the string and tie it tightly around the threads of the screw at the base of the head. If you purchased a large washer, cut the string at the same length as your height, and tie the washer on the other end of the string. If you didn't buy a washer, cut your string about a foot longer than you are tall, and make a loop large enough for your shoe to fit inside with a little room to spare, and tie the loop tight.

The idea is that you step on the washer (or into the loop), screw the screw into the tripod mount on your camera, and pull upwards on your camera to keep the string taut, with your foot pulling downward on the other end. The downward force on the camera will greatly improve the steadiness of the camera especially compared to holding it just by hand.

It isn't a total substitute for a real tripod, but it does fit in your pocket or camera bag, only weighs a few ounces max, and is super cheap. It does produce great results, though, and is even more useful for video cameras.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

TOTW #4: Passwords; Rule of Thirds

Computer Tip: Twelve Rules of Good Passwords

I don't do much on-site tech support these days, but over the years that I have, I've noticed a troubling trend with regard to user's passwords. It's pretty bad that an alarmingly high percentage of the time I would be able to guess a user's password within a handful of attempts if I just know a little about them. I sincerely hope that my faithful readers don't fall into that trap, so allow me to share a few tips on selecting good passwords.

Rule #1: DON'T use anybody's name as the basis of a password, especially a significant other. You have no idea how often I see passwords that are just someone's name, especially the name of a spouse or boy/girlfriend. This also extends to the names of celebrities, bands, pets, or movies.

Rule #2: DON'T use an English word as your password, or any other dictionary word in any other language. These are the first passwords guessed by bots on the Internet. And if you have selected "password" or "test" as your password, we need to have a talk about security.

Rule #3: DON'T use any part of a birthday as part of a password. I see passwords that are simply someone's birthday, or a name with the birthday added to the end. If I were a hacker, after trying common English words, I'd try birthdays next.

Rule #4: DON'T use a variant of anything listed above. In other words, don't use leslie01 or kevin2008. That includes adding any variant of a year on to any of the above.

Rule #5: DON'T use your username or email address. Way too easy to guess.

Rule #6: DO select a password that contains numbers, symbols, and some uppercase letters. The more characters you have to select from, the harder your passwords is to guess. If, for example, you only use letters and select a 6 character password, there are 308 million possibilities. Adding numbers, symbols, and varying upper/lower case increases the number of possibilities to 782 billion (a 253388% increase).

Rule #7: DO select passwords, which if they were made visible, look like nonsense. But...

Rule #8: DO come up with some sort of method that allows you to create passwords that you can remember. Make up a sentence about something around you or going on in your life, then take the first letter of each word, adding numbers and symbols. It's easier to remember the sentence than a long string of nonsensical characters.

Rule #9: DON'T use the same password on more than one web site that deals with anything financial in nature. Use different passwords for each bank account, online store, etc. That way, if one of those sites is hacked (or you fall prey to a phishing scheme) and your password is revealed, it won't work anywhere else.

Rule #10: DON'T share your password with anyone or any site but the site where you set it up. Banks, for example, will not ask you for your password over the phone.

Rule #11: DON'T write your password on a Post-It Note and stick it on your monitor. Or the bottom of your keyboard. Or in your desk drawer. Just don't write it down anywhere.

Rule #12: DO make sure your password is 8 characters or longer. Each additional character added makes a password exponentially harder to guess.

Many of these methods are especially important because hackers are constantly trying to hack into web sites and computers connected to the Internet, and the first passwords they try are the ones listed above as part of the DON'T rules. And in most cases they can try dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of passwords every second, so if someone is targeting you it wouldn't take long to break into your account if you break the rules. Here's a link to a list of the 10 most commonly used passwords.

Multimedia Tip: Rule of Thirds

How do you get a picture (video or still) that is appealing to the eye? Well, there isn't any one right answer to that question, but the rule of thirds is a good place to start.

The rule simply states that subjects in your pictures should generally fall along the lines of a tic-tac-toe grid drawn over the picture, with the areas of focus falling at the intersections of the grid lines.

The rule is actually based on the golden mean, but for simplicity sake, just imagine a tic-tac-toe grid, and put your subject on one of the lines, with the most important parts at the grid intersections. For people and animals, the most important part is their eyes, so eyes should usually fall along the upper horizontal line, or about 1/3 down from the top. If someone is looking off to the side instead of directly toward the camera, put them on the vertical line which gives the most room in front of them. Other objects in the scene should fall along other grid lines where possible as well.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Movie Nights?

So about three months ago I bought a new projector for my home theater.  And it has been awesome!  I watch so many more movies now than I did with my last one, because... well, it really is just like being at a real theater; amazing huge picture, killer sound, seats rumbling.  I just need to add sticky floors and crying babies for an authentic experience.  But I have been thinking lately that I have kind of gotten away from my original purpose of setting up the home theater six years ago, and that was to entertain my friends.  Why not share the experience with others, right?

So I'm toying with the idea of having a semi-regular movie night for my friends.  About ten years ago we had movie night every Thursday, and we toward the end we had about 30 people showing up on a regular basis.  Crowded, definitely.  But very fun.  I don't think doing something every week is feasible, but maybe once a month?

So of those of you in the Provo/Orem area, if I were to host a movie night periodically, would you be interested in attending?  And if so, is there a particular evening that is better than others?

So did you notice that every paragraph stared with "so?"


I can't believe I haven't done a personal post since I started the Tips of the Week, so here's my first Non Tip of the Week.

The stake photo directory project is still going on.  Today was the last day we decided to do scheduled photos, and we didn't have very many people show up.  Apparently the people on vacation three weeks ago are still gone?  Sounds fishy to me.  (BTW, for those who know him, I'm working on this project with Bruce Tregaskis.)  But we only have about 10 out of 300 people we've missed, so we actually did really well.  Now I get to compile it all together.  Fun.

Brad and I doubled on a blind date this last Wednesday afternoon.  This was the first blind date I've had in a while now.  I'm normally averse to them because most of the time I get setup with girls just because of their height, or just because they are near my age and single, and we end up having absolutely nothing in common.  I recall more than a few blind dates where both of us were anxious to get home.  But this time I don't think either my age or height even factored into the decision.  And I had a nice time.  Props to Mary for finding someone I could have a pleasant afternoon with.

I don't think I've ever mentioned anything about dating on this blog, probably mostly because it doesn't happen much any more.  Ever since I was excused from singles wards I haven't had many opportunity to meet women.  As an active LDS person it isn't like I can just hop down to the local bar on a Friday night, and working by myself at home doesn't help any either.  I haven't given up, but the opportunities to meet fellow singles (both male and female actually) do seem to be diminishing considerably.  I really hope that doesn't come out as being bitter by any stretch of the imagination, because in reality I love my life, and I don't think I've ever been happier.  Sure there have definitely been times when I've been more social, but I don't feel like my happiness has any connection to the status of my social connections.  Maybe that's just part of growing up; when I was younger having friends, especially girls, around was important to me.  But as things are now, I actually enjoy being home by myself quite a bit more than I ever thought I might.  If that is one of the characteristics of being an adult, maybe I do feel a bit more like one now than I did even a couple years ago.

In other news it looks like I'll be heading back to Washington in a few weeks for some more point-of-sale related stuff.  We're kind of at a point in the project where the stuff left to do is less flashy, and we are getting diminishing returns for the amount of time being put into it.  During this next trip my task is to make the registers talk to the video surveillance system.  Exciting, huh!

TOTW#3: Laser or Inkjet; White Balance

Computer Tip: Laser or Inkjet

Computer users looking to buy a printer are faced with a decision... should I buy an inkjet printer, or get a laser? Most people seem to go right to the inkjet, but that is probably not the best choice.

Generally I steer people toward laser printers; they are faster, more reliable, and the cost per page is a tiny fraction of what it costs to run an inkjet. But if you need to print photos, a laser won't provide the quality you desire at any price. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of printer.

Laser Printer

Pros: Printing cost is generally about 2 cents per page (B&W), including paper, no matter what you are printing. Color is a little more expensive, but still relatively cheap. Fast, with most printers spitting out 12 pages per minute in the real world. Reliable. Very high quality output for text and graphics. Toner cartridges last for thousands of pages between replacements.
Cons: Even color laser printers do a very poor job with photos. Toner cartridges are expensive because they last so long. Color laser printers require purchasing four separate toner cartridges periodically, and the printers are considerably more expensive than B&W-only models, as they actually contain four printer engines (one for each color) in one unit.
Purchase Price: $100+ for B&W, $300+ for Color.
Recurring costs: Toner cartridges, usually $40+ every 3000-6000 pages.

Inkjet Printer

Pros: Quality color photo printing is not just achievable, but with photo paper you can yield excellent results.
Cons: Very expensive per page, with costs ranging from 10 cents per page for B&W text to up to more than a dollar per page for full page color photos, just for ink. Crisp, rich, accurate printing requires expensive paper. The jets on the print head tend to clog and must be cleaned periodically, wasting ink. Many inks fade over time.
Purchase Price: Usually $80+, though you can find promotional deals frequently.
Recurring costs: Multi-color ink cartridges generally run about $30 and up for a few hundred pages of text, or a few dozen full-page prints; black cartridges are usually cheaper with similar capacities. Printers that utilize separate ink cartridges for each color typically run $15-20 each; for a printer with 6 cartridges the costs really add up quickly.

For me it boils down to this: If you absolutely have to print photos at home, get an inkjet. But for everyone else, invest in a laser printer; the cost might be higher up front, but the laser is actually much cheaper in the long run. And everybody should use an online service or local photo finisher for printing photos; you'll get much better results, much more cheaply than doing it on your own.

Bonus Tip: Many printers sold today are available with network interfaces, either wired or wireless. Having this feature makes dealing with your printer much easier. I recommend spending the extra money to get a printer with this feature.

Mac Users: Make sure before buying a printer that it has a Mac compatible driver available. Of the five printers I own, only one is compatible with the Mac, and it was quite difficult to install a working driver for it.

Multimedia Tip: White Balance

Have you ever noticed that videos shot indoors, or pictures taken in low light without a flash are often very yellow/orange in color, when it didn't look that way at all in real life? It's because of white balance.

Despite what our eyes tell us, different sources of light around us are actually different colors. We perceive them all as white, but they really vary quite widely as to their real color. Noonday sunlight and camera flashes, for example, look very blue when compared to indoor lighting, while indoor lighting looks orange if compared against sunlight. We don't normally see this because our eyes and brains adapt very well to different color lighting without us even being aware of it. (See Wikipedia's article on Color Temperature for more information.)

Video and still cameras aren't quite so smart. While many have Automatic White Balance options, they don't always work the way we'd like. For example, any time you fill the viewfinder with a scene that has little or no "white," or a lot of blue or orange, the camera will attempt to use the wrong white balance setting, and you'll end up with a picture or video that just looks... weird.

The way to fix this is to tell your camera the color of light that is illuminating your image. Most newer video cameras have pre-set white balance settings for Outdoor (sunlight), Indoor (incandescent lighting), in addition to an Auto mode. And many of these also add a Hold setting, which lets you lock in a particular setting so the observed color doesn't shift over time. Still cameras usually add Fluorescent, Shade, and Cloudy on top of the Outdoor and Indoor settings. In either case, if one of these settings matches your lighting, go ahead and use it. But under any conditions you can utilize the Hold or Custom White Balance setting of your camera to make sure that it knows the proper white balance. Place a white piece of paper or neutral gray card in front of the camera while it is in the Auto White Balance setting, zoom in until it nearly fills the screen, then select the Hold or Custom White Balance setting. Consult your camera's manual for full instructions; the full list of steps varies by manufacturer and type of camera.

By taking the time to white balance your camera you'll end up with much more realistically colored pictures. Even when your pictures look fine without adjusting the white balance, you'll usually see a dramatic improvement in colors by manually setting the white balance. It only takes a few seconds to set it up, and you'll end up with drastically better images. No more orange mess!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

TOTW #2: Control key shortcuts; Camera Flash

Computer Tip: The Control Key

The Control key on your keyboard is actually quite useful. There are many keyboard shortcuts that utilize the Control key, and while many vary by the software you are using, but there are a few that work in most software. (The Mac uses the Command key instead of Control for the following commands.)

(Windows) Control +

(Mac) Command +

Action Taken



Cut selected text / image (to clipboard)



Copy (to clipboard)



Paste (from clipboard)



Undo last action



Redo last action



Create new document



Select all of current document



Open document



Save document


Option + Arrows

Move cursor forward or backward one word (Left / Right) or paragraph (Up / Down)


Left Arrow

Move to the top of the current document


Right Arrow

Move to the end of the current document

(Alt + F4)


Close Current Program



Backspace over entire word

Then there are character formatting shortcuts as well on Windows:

Control +

Character Format







There you go! The less time you spend switching between your mouse and keyboard the more productive you'll be. Memorize a few of these keyboard commands and you'll get more done in less time.

Multimedia Tip: Using Camera Flash

I've always believed that natural light usually provides the best looking pictures. But sometimes it needs a little help. That's where the flash comes in.

In fact, I almost always use my flash on my camera, whether I'm taking pictures inside or outside, if there are any people or unwanted shadows in the image. And the reason is simple: to take control over my lighting. Anyone who attended/watched my photography class knows that "control of lighting is everything in photography." Don't just turn your flash on all of the time, though; it takes a while to get a feel for how and when. But here are a few guidelines to help get better pictures.

Whenever there is a large difference in the amount of light hitting your subject and their surroundings (for example, someone's face is in the shade but the background behind them is in the sun), turning on the flash to fill in the darker areas of the picture (i.e. your subject) is essential to capturing a usable image. Yet in the camera's default "automatic" setting cameras will leave the flash off in this situation. So turn on the flash to provide the extra lighting needed to brighten your subject to better match the lighting of the background.

Conversely, if you are taking a picture of a subject that is more than about 20 feet away, turning on the flash will do no good. In fact, it will usually result in a very dark image because the light from your flash just can't reach the subject; it dims as it gets farther from the camera. I always laugh when I see hundreds of camera flashes going off in sports stadiums, because 90+% of the time those pictures won't come out properly because the field is just too far away to reflect back any light from the flash. So when taking a picture of a distant subject, just turn off the flash whether it is night or day. The camera will then know to expose the image longer to record a brighter (and properly exposed) image. Of course, the "20 feet" rule varies based on the output capacity of your flash and the camera's ISO setting, but as a general rule, if your subject is 20 feet or more away, just turn off the flash. And if you are exposing a distant object at night, use a tripod to steady the camera.

If you are trying to capture both a dimly lit subject in the foreground and a distant background at night, you will need to find a mode on your camera that exposes the background properly, but turns on the flash as well. On SLR cameras the Aperture Priority (A or Av) setting usually does this; set to the appropriate aperture for the intended depth-of-field, turn on the flash, and fire away. On point-and-shoot cameras look for a night flash mode (an icon with a flash with the moon), but don't be too surprised if your camera doesn't have it; it isn't very common on inexpensive cameras.

Lastly (for this time), when taking portrait pictures, even outside, I like to turn on the flash to not only fill in any shadows, but also to create a little glint in my subject's eyes. Eyes are the window to the soul, and that glint helps to make them stand out more in the photograph.

If your camera has the ability to adjust how bright the flash is (many do), I recommend playing with it to get better control over lighting. Most of the time you will need to dial down the level of the flash (-1 or -2 EV) to avoid having your pictures look flat and washed out. Look for an icon with a flash symbol and +/- to find this function.

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