Friday, August 15, 2003

Revert to original

"Revert to Original" is a command in Apple's easy-to-use iPhoto software.

After you've performed all the tricks you thought would improve your snapshot--only to discover they didn't--you select "Revert to Original" and with great relief you get back to the original, not-so-bad-after-all, picture.

More and more often I find myself looking for commands like "Revert to Original" in real life as well as on the machine.

Two weeks ago I bought my mom a new iBook, and I've been systematically setting it up, hoping that in that machine she'd find clarity and easy of use--in short, a respite from what's been going on in her life for the past year as my dad becomes increasingly frail and senile. This morning she called with the news that she's given up and is going to put him in a nursing home.

Last night I'd been up late working on her computer, setting up her .Mac mail account in OS X. (NOTE: .Mac is an Apple fee-based service that includes "anywhere access": Mail, address book, calendars, to-do lists, and browser bookmarks are synchronized between devices and accessible from any online computer--plus effectively backed up online. The address book is fully integrated with the mail client.)

.Mac Mail preferences let you set up a picture signature, so I went into my iPhoto library and chose one of my mom that I'd taken at Safeco Statium last August (Mariners v. Red Sox). She was sitting next to my dad in a crowd of people; I chose the square cropping tool, selected a closeup of her face, and voila! there was her signature pic.

Exporting the cropped JPG to my desktop, before choosing in it .Mac Mail preferences, I noticed that the export of an cropped iPhoto image does an odd thing: It displays as a tiny thumbnail of the uncropped rectangular photo. This puzzled me, but on import to .Mac Mail, the picture displayed as the square closeup of my mom in her baseball cap.

Yet the JPG on my own desktop remains a tiny, haunting version of the original picture: Her smiling in the crowd at the baseball game, and next to her my handsome, patient father already looking a little incomprehending.

Everyone who has a .Mac account who gets mail from her will see the .Mac signature photo of Ruth with a big grin at the ballgame. But when I open her email and see that photo, I'll always mentally revert to original and see my father there, too.

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