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by Abigail Van Buren

Computer's Photo Memory Leaves Much to Be Desired

DEAR ABBY: There is an explosion of computer-related activities in the photo industry. Between digital cameras, photo restorations and putting pictures onto CDs, business is good.

The downside is the public's lack of important information about printing pictures on their computers. Most of the customers I talk with don't realize that these are not photographs. They are simply ink printed on paper and will fade rapidly. (This includes the paper designed for computer photos.)

What sets real photographs apart is the fact that they go through developer, bleach-fix and stabilizer. This assures that your memories will be around to be handed down to your children, and their children.

Another problem is: Computers crash, and you can lose images forever. Memories of your wedding, children, family gatherings and vacations are priceless. So always shoot some film, or have negatives made from PC photos. We try to educate our customers, but more needs to be done to let the general public know this.

As a professional photographer, and as a dad, I know how important it is for photographs to last for generations. -- THOMAS S. ROBERTSON, PRESIDENT, 1-HOUR PHOTO CORP., OLD BRIDGE, N.J.

DEAR THOMAS: Your letter is sure to be an eye-opener for many who have been lulled into thinking that the new technologies have made sharing pictures as easy as "point and click."

Caveat emptor: Let the buyer beware. A little extra work may be required for families who would like their computer photographs to last a lifetime or beyond. Having negatives made as a backup is a sensible precaution.

DEAR ABBY: This is a long overdue thank-you. Nine years ago, I decided to go back to school to become a teacher. I didn't know if I really wanted to return to school at my age because I would be 40 upon graduating. Then I read a letter in your column about someone in a similar situation. After thinking about your answer to that question, I decided to enroll.

In no time at all, I completed my studies and went to work in a wonderful elementary school with a great staff and precious children. Now I actually enjoy going to work every day.

I'll be forever grateful, Abby, for that little "push" I needed to get me started. If you print this, please do not mention my name, city or state. -- GRATEFUL IN THE GOLDEN WEST

DEAR GRATEFUL: Thank you for an upper of a letter. The item you are referring to was published many years ago -- and for anyone who is unfamiliar with it, here it is! It is a letter that I'm proud to say has changed many lives for the better. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am a 36-year-old college dropout whose lifelong ambition was to be a physician. I have a very good job selling pharmaceutical supplies, but my heart is still in the practice of medicine. I do volunteer work at the local hospital on my time off, and people tell me I would have made a wonderful doctor.

If I go back to college and get my degree, then go to medical school, do my internship and finally get into the actual practice of medicine, it will take me seven years! But, Abby, in seven years I will be 43 years old. What do you think? -- UNFULFILLED IN PHILLY

DEAR UNFULFILLED: And how old will you be in seven years if you don't go to medical school?

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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