Afterword

ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Funny Photos (K2 #61)

Question
I noticed that in some local magazines and even websites the photos sometimes look stretched or squashed. Why does this happen? How to fix it?
— J. N., Thimphu

Answer
Dear J. N.,

Indeed, I’ve seen those photos too. They remind me of the special mirrors placed in clothing shops’ dressing rooms, designed to make you “look” extra thin in that dress. Or funhouse mirrors in amusement parks that make you look extra short or extremely tall.

Let’s bite our teeth into the issue: each photo has a certain aspect ratio, which is the ratio of the width of the photo to its height. Sounds complicated? Not really. For example, a 4”x6” photo of cute puppies has an aspect ratio of 4” divided by 6”, or 2:3 (two-thirds). Computer images also have aspect ratios. A photo which is 1024 pixels (or dots) wide, and 768 pixels high, has an aspect ratio of 1024 divided by 768, or 4:3. A perfectly-square image has an aspect ratio of 1:1, since the height and the width are equal. CD covers, by the way, are square images. 

Time is Money

Many people no longer use their fixed line at home, but it is still required if you have a broadband Internet connection. (A fixed line is useful for emergencies as well). If you feel that the monthly hassle of paying the Nu 25 maintenance fee is a waste of time, there’s a solution. Bhutan Telecom allows you to prepay for the line. So next time, ask the person at the counter to make an advance payment of Nu 150, and you won’t need to come again for half a year.
Why do you see these distorted images in some publications? The distortion happens when a photo’s aspect ratio is changed. The graphic editor decided to increase (or decrease) the width or height of the photo, but without a corresponding change in the other dimension. Here’s an example: say that you want to design a beautiful CD cover (remember, it’s a square) using a stunning landscape photo taken with a digital camera – one in which the width is larger than the height. You open the photo in a photo-editing software, such as Photoshop, Picasa, or Microsoft Office Picture Manager, and start decreasing the width until the photo is a perfect square. Notice that while decreasing the width, you did not change the height at all. The photo can now fit nicely as a CD cover, but you have squashed the image and it doesn't look very professional. 

In order to avoid a distorted photo, never resize only the width or only the height. You should resize them together. Some software packages allow you to lock the aspect ratio of a photo when resizing; you will want to use that option. And if the photo does not fit exactly into the space allocated for it - the trick it to crop (remove) unnecessary parts until it fits.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to boaz@thimphutech.com