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The computer file — say cheese  

Want to send pics? A look at the latest & greatest in online digital sharing.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

I bet a lot of fathers are going to get fancy new digital cameras for Father's Day.  Dads (and those they trust with their new photographic treasure) will take great shots. But then what? Those 2-inch screens are great for knowing if you've captured the moment — but passing the camera around isn't the best way to show it off. 

Last month, Paul Hochman did a great spot on the Today Show about photo printers. Printing pictures has become as easy as sitting your camera on top of the printer and pressing a button. You can also bring the memory card from inside your camera to the photo processing department of many nationwide store and drugstore chains. 

But what if you want to send your prize winning shots to the other people in your life?  If you're like me, you used to go through the process of looking at negatives, finding picture numbers and ordering copies.  In the last several years, though, digital sharing via the web has become more and more popular. 

Once you sign up with one of the plethora of photo sharing sites, you connect your camera, via the USB cable, to your computer and you can copy your photos to your computer as well as to the website you signed up with.  You then click something that generally says "share" and type in email addresses.  You can share individual photos or albums you've put together.  The recipients receive an email with a link which they can click on to view the pictures.  Then they can order prints as well as other cool stuff like mugs with one of the photos.  You can also do some ordering yourself.  That's usually the only cost.  Most of the sites are free to join. 

The original popular group of sharing sites, including oFoto, Snapfish, and Shutterfly, are still very much around.  There is a new crop, though, like Flickr, Photobucket, Flektor, Phanfare and Smugmug.  The newer ones have "community type" features allowing users to communicate with each other. They can also make your photos more public if you like.  Google's Picasa started life as a free program you can download to organize your photos on your own computer, do basic fixes like removing red-eye and cropping, and one click uploading to any photo-sharing site.  Picasa is now on the web too for sharing.

Ever take short videos with your digital camera?  You might want to share those too, and I don't mean using YouTube, MSN or similar sites which have the world as their audience.  Some of the photo sharing sites, like Snapfish, let you upload and share videos along with your pictures.  Viewing them is generally an extra fee.

And it seems like each day, some new feature comes out; The New York Times reported about sharing your cellphone picturesand geotagging your photos, which means showing their location.  That can then be helpful for someone checking out a specific resort or locale. 

Yes, of course, you can email photos to share them but you run the risk of them being too large to make it out of your email system and into someone else's (just about all email systems set size limits on attachments).  You also run the risk of them being stripped off by an email system's security concerns. 

Thank goodness, I no longer have to sit and look at the back of my pictures initaled by my nearest and dearest and find the negatives.  Now I just have to remember to get them off my camera!  And, since I save them on my computer, to back them up.  But I digress.  Go check out some of the sites.