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How to Rescue, Repair and Revive Old Family Photos

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If you see your family pictures starting to fade away in their shoe boxes, crumbling photo albums or moldering slide carousels, fear not. There are easy ways to save your valuable images — and maybe even make them better.

Shipping them off to a professional scanning company for digital conversion and retouching is one easy approach. Services like Memories Renewed, DigMyPics and ScanMyPhotos are easily found on the web and do fine work.

But if you’re inspired (or thrifty) and want to take a crack at transforming the pictures yourself, you just need time and the right tools. Here’s how to get started.

Most multifunction printers include scan and copy features. If you have one of those but have never scanned before, check your help guide. No scanner? Wirecutter, a New York Times Company site that recommends products, has suggestions for reliable printers and scanners.

Unlike photographic prints, slides and negatives need backlighting to properly illuminate the image when scanning. Hardware designed to handle them, like the Kodak Scanza (around $170) or the Epson Perfection V600 Photo Scanner (around $200), are among those that scan prints, slides or negatives.

If you have a flatbed scanner — but no attachment for scanning transparencies — Make Magazine’s downloadable template for a do-it-yourself cardboard adapter is one inexpensive workaround.

Using a mobile app that takes a picture of the picture is a quick way to “scan” photos. The resulting image quality may not be as good as with a hardware scanner, but apps are inexpensive and you spare fragile prints from bright light.

Google PhotoScan (free) and Photomyne (free, with in-app purchases) are two apps for Android and iOS that are created to capture images of physical photographs. They both boost color and contrast for the photos, as does the $7 Photo Scanner for iOS. An all-purpose scanning app — like Microsoft Office Lens (for Android, iOS and Windows) — may also do photos.

Capturing slide and negative images with an app can be more challenging because they are smaller and need backlight. The free Helmut Film Scanner for Android or the $6 FilmLab for iOS are two options.

Once you have scanned your pictures, grab a program to fix the faded color, scratches, tears and other blemishes in the photos. Depending on the images’ condition, you may be able to get by with full-featured free apps, like Photos from Apple, Google Photos or Microsoft Photos. These all include tools for adjusting light and color and cropping torn edges; Apple and Microsoft’s programs also have tools for removing specks and blemishes.

If your default photo program doesn’t fit your needs, dozens of others await in the app store. The Adobe Photoshop family — including Adobe Photoshop Elements for Windows and Mac ($100, but a free 30-day trial is available) and Adobe Photoshop Express (free for Android, iOS and Windows touch-screen devices) — are among the more popular products.

The open-source GIMP program for Windows, Mac and Linux systems is also powerful and free, though it can take time to learn.

Now it’s time to whip out the toolbox:

  • For scratches rips and tears in the photograph, look for the program’s “healing brush,” “spot fix” or “clone stamp” tool, which typically copies nearby pixels to cover up the damage. Use the tool to click or swipe over the blemishes.

Check your app’s help guide for specific instructions, or search YouTube for video demonstrations. Detailed tutorials are available online, like Adorama’s guide for those with Adobe Photoshop; the online Digital Photography School has instructions, too.

When you have the photos cleaned up and looking good, you can share them with family in all sorts of ways. Posting them to the online photo gallery like Google Photos, iCloud or OneDrive allows relatives to view and download copies wherever they may be (and upload images of their own). Online storage also keeps treasured images safe from fires and floods.

If you’re worried about digital formats not standing the test of time, you can also reprint your favorite images on acid-free archival photo paper for safekeeping. A number of picture-printing companies also offer the photo-book option to reprint all the restored images in a bound volume — which also makes a lovely gift for family members in some of those snaps.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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