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British Passport 2010/03/14

Posted by Daddy Dave in Musings, Reviews.
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My 10-year passport expired last August, and I have been meaning to get around to sorting it out, but you know how it is when you are busy and not thinking about taking a vacation; it just got pushed to the bottom of the to-do list.

It kind-of annoys me that we need a passport to go to mainland Europe, which is pretty-much the only place I like.  For example, if you are Spanish, you can leave Spain, cross through France and even Germany (or wherever), and enjoy a vacation in Italy without requiring a passport, it is just us Brits who have to spend a fortune on passports.

According to the government website, it can cost me between £77.50 and £129.50 to renew.  This is just another stealth tax in my opinion. For a family of four (two parents and two babies), for new passports would add a whopping £253 to the cost of their European holiday.

Of course, I need to get a new photograph.  My last photograph was taken in a studio — and the photographer used a camera that had a 50mm lens or longer (maybe 75mm), which meant that I would either look natural or thinner.  Those Photo-Me booths put weight on because they use a wide angled lens, probably 35mm.

The trouble is that this adds to the considerably to the cost.  However, these days we can simply take digital pictures and print off the best ones. Or so I thought.

Don’t get me wrong, we all love our Exilim camera, and it has been one of the best buys ever for us, but for once I wished we could have fitted a long lens.

Anyway, we followed the strict instructions, and Ruthie took loads of pictures of my ugly mug, you know the sort of thing — with flash, with daylight, room lights on, yadda yadda yadda.

I quite like Microsoft Office’s Picture Manager OIS, it lets me crop landscape or portrait, and is pretty good at automatic fixes (brightness, colour balance etc), and you can crop to a ratio — in this case 4:3 as the end product is supposed to be 45mm x 35mm.

However, I like other graphics packages for getting it exactly to the right size.

  • I was amazed that I could not print 1:1 , every package — even the Lexmark Productivity Suite wants to resize the image to some weird size to fit the paper.  This was very frustrating.

In the end, I had to copy the image to the clipboard and paste it into Abiword.  Of course, it resized to fill the paper width, but at least you can easily right click on the picture and select “image” from the pop up menu to resize the picture to 45mm x 35mm on an A4 sheet. I put on two at this size and printed to photographic paper and all was well.

What a palaver! It reminds me of work, where we all spend such a lot of time trying to get printing done properly. We work to exact sizes, drawings need to be to scale, and quite often we need photographs to be a specific size for forms, ID cards — or passports, we cannot be the only ones who do stuff like this, so why is it so flippin’ hard?

Anyway, we have cut the pictures up and so we can get on with renewing my passport so we can possibly think about going across the Channel this year!

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