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Smartphone cameras invite shooting more photos than at any time in the history of photography.

Film with developing costs a significant amount. Digital costs next to nothing.

However, after capturing those digital photos, we need to improve, edit, store and catalog them.

For a decade, Google offered the best free solution: Picasa. It provided everything an amateur needed to touch up, modify and catalog photos.

Then Google discontinued Picasa as it has with many, if not most, of its other programs and apps.

That brings us to this reader question: “I also like Picasa and do not want to update to a new computer and lose it. At the time, you mentioned Photoshop Elements as a possibility with a steep learning curve. I concur with that. I took a class on it once and remember nothing about what I learned. You also mentioned IrfanView.”

If you use Windows, the consensus goes with free Microsoft Photo Gallery. It provides basic enhancements and editing along with various storage and cataloging options, including Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage. Photo Gallery lacks some of the power of Picasa, but like Picasa, the price is right.

Free IrfanView, which I occasionally use, offers useful and straightforward photo enhancement, correction, resolution changes, cropping and more. IrfanView aims more toward working with photos than organizing storage.

DigiKam, also free, received favorable notice online for its powerful capabilities in editing and storage. However, it can be difficult to use, it’s very slow, and one reviewer noted stability problems.

As our reader noted, Adobe Photoshop Elements, which costs about $90, offers the most features and greatest power but comes with a steep learning curve. That curve probably dissuades casual photographers.

Another reader noted that he saw no difference in speed between existing WiFi and the new WiFi 6 with a new WiFi 6 router and a Dell XPS laptop similar to the one I wrote about recently. This comes as no surprise.

The WiFi 6 standard is yet to be finalized, and some features that make it superior to previous versions of WiFi are yet to be enabled. It’s somewhat akin to 5G cellular, which thus far rarely surpasses good 4G LTE but ultimately will be far superior.

Comcast continues offering free WiFi as stated in this press release: “As cities and towns across the country begin to open up, Comcast is continuing its efforts to help people connect to the Internet during the COVID-19 crisis. Today, the company announced it will extend free access to its 1.5 million public Xfinity WiFi hotspots to anyone who needs them, including non-customers, through the end of 2020.

“Recently, Comcast announced that it has extended an offer for 60 days of free home Internet access for new eligible Internet Essentials customers to help provide additional support to students and families in need through the end of the year. Comcast will also continue to waive the requirement that those customers not have a past due balance with Comcast to qualify for the free offer.”

We all like to gripe about the cable company but must acknowledge that Comcast goes the extra mile when needed. I live outside the Comcast coverage area, so there is no conflict of interest.

Another reader query: “Is there a true all-region Blu-ray/DVD player? My understanding is that most players which claim to be all-region have been modified from OEM specifications. When I download manuals for supposed all-region players, they always state they play only the region specified or all region disks. I’m a fan of many English and Australian shows which are not supported in region 1 (the U.S.).”

Amazon advertises several “multi-region, code zone free” LG and Sony Blu-ray players modestly priced from $140-$160. If you buy any unit that indicates “fulfilled by Amazon,” you can return it with free shipping both ways. Thus, you take no risk in trying one out.

Rich Warren, who lives in the Champaign area, is a longtime reviewer of consumer electronics. Email him at

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