Wal-Mart On-Line Picture Software
For a limited time Wal-Mart is offering free software to help you select, retain, edit and upload your pictures to the Wal-Mart photo centers.
This software is found at the Wal-Mart Photo Centers and a similar version comes on their store produced Picture CDs you have made from your digital images.
Installing this software is a breeze after you get past the “Flash” intro and wait for all the fancy-smancy images to fade in from white. It took me about a two minute wait before I could press a button and make this disk install the software (don’t blame Wal-Mart for this bug, today’s software developers seem to think they are “auteur” filmmakers just because they are ordered to waste the first 10 minutes of your DVD time with previews of coming attractions and advertisements from the movie studio before you can get to the menu and see the actual film). The software installed in moments and I was up and running!
A word of caution, before attempting to place an order with this software establish your on-line Wal-Mart photo account by going to walmart.com, creating a user name and password.
By default this software automatically opens the “my pictures” folder found inside the “my documents” folder on Windows 95 and above. Which is a logical place to find pictures, but you can use the browse tool to search other locations on your computer.
The software then imports the selected digital files into an “album” for further work.
Editing tools allow you to rotate the image, change brightness, contrast and saturation. It’s patterned much after a TV set, which makes it easy to work with once you understand this concept!
Moderate low contrast on left and very high contrast on right.
There is also an “auto adjust” box you can click on that works just great! When I tried it, I found that it gave me identical results to the work I did manually with the brightness and contrast controls. I highly recommend you try this “auto adjust” feature out as some programmer actually got something right for a change!
Original image on left and "auto adjusted" image on right.
The saturation control changes your color intensity from pale and weak to dripping with color. I personally would have preferred to also see R-G-B controls like Wal-Mart has in the stores on both the Aladdin and Kodak self-service machines.
Weak color saturation on left and heavy color saturation on right.
You can also make your prints black and white or “antique” (which is a type of beige or sepia tone image quality). You can also crop the image.
Black and white on left and sepia or antique on right.
Finally, there is also a “restore” button which undoes everything should you want to return to the original picture quality.
Besides the lack of R-G-B color adjustment there are no controls for sharpness, blending or touch-up. Touch-up controls (such as a color sample control and a paint brush or pen tool with adjustable size, so you can clean up blemishes, cuts, folds and dots in your pictures or scans). If you want these types of features you’ll just have to invest into a suite from Adobe or Corel...
You can then pick the size and quantity of prints to be made from a given image file. The thumbnail image shows a box and arrow when you select it for printing. Once you have finished you can then check-out and this software automatically logs you into the on-line Wal-Mart Photo Center site (you will need your user name and password for the on-line site, which is different from the username you gave this piece of software at start-up, so have your on-line account information and if necessary your credit card information ready). It then uploads your images to the site (which is run by Fuji Photo Service).
After uploading you then select if you want the lower costing 3 day service or the one-hour service. By entering a zip code the site will give you a list of Wal-Mart stores near your location. Not every store can do the one-hour service (only "matte" finish is available one-hour, so if you want "glossy" finish you must use the "two day" service) so you may have to travel to a more distant location for this option.
It will show you your cost for the services and you may have a payment option. Some one-hour orders can be paid for at the time of pick-up, while other options must be paid for on-line via credit card. You can go into the store and don’t have to pay when you pick up the order. This is especially nice if you want to send some pictures to family or friends in another state. They can pick up their order without having to pay a red cent.
You can also have the order mailed to you or anyone else for an extra fee.
The beauty of this is you can do a little editing on your pictures for free, using very simple to work software. You can do all this on Christmas day at 3 in the morning when the stores are closed, send it off to them and possibly pick it up the day after Christmas by 11 am.
If you’re stuck way out in the sticks, far from a Wal-Mart you can have them mail you the prints. This way you can create your order on Sunday at midnight, pay for it and by the end of the week the postal person will be delivering your prints to the house or box. This is idea for those in rural locations as well as those persons who have limited mobility.