Tag Archives: services

Google’s Picasa TO DO List: Wake Up And Get It Done

Google's Picasa TO DO List: Wake Up And Get It Done With all the features, bells and whistles being added to Gmail recently I look at yet another Google’s failing project – Picasa. This piece of software hasn’t been updated for God knows how long. Yes, they’ve added a few nifty things here and there but these little perks can’t make up for core features that users have been begging for. In order to assist Picasa’s developers team I have jotted down a short list of thing we, users, needed as of 2008, so you, guys, are, like, 2 years already late. Pay attention!

1. Folders and Sub-folders. Seriously, one level structure is so very CP/M-86 that only very old people like myself can remember the days when we DIDN’T have folders. My regular structure of storing photos – and I have found it to be very simple, most people got it even more complicated – is as follows:

/2010-01-01.New_Year_Celebration
      /All
      /Good_Originals
      /Bad
      /Edited_Large
      /Edited_Small

Why in the world would you deprive me of having folders? Yes, I want to maintain that structure on my web albums as well, where some people get to see Edited_Large folder and others are only allowed to see Small_Images_For_Web folder. It could be photos, it could be web design mock-ups – anything. Not having sub-folders is a usability killer.

2. Storing Raw Images. I hope you are aware of the idea of Picasa being a photo management tool. I would also fancy a wild guess and say that photographers would be interested in it, especially with such a good pricing on storage. In case no one told you before most photographers – even amateurs like me – like to shoot RAW images, the so-called “digital negatives”. They also would love to store them – UNCHANGED! When I upload RAW file (it’s a .NEF file, since I shoot with Nikon) to Picasa it gets crap-converted to JPEG and there is no way to get the original back. The whole point of my purchasing a 200GB space chunk is to be able to store RAW files. Look at your own support forums, there are people who did the same. There will be more people doing the same if you let them do the thing they want the most – back up their work “in the cloud”. I am not a professional and I’ve got 100GB of photos to store, think of all the money you are missing from true professional photographers.

3. Web Albums Usability. Did you know you have to make 5 clicks to delete a photo, counting from your albums home page? Did you know it takes the same 5 clicks just to get the link to the image if I want to embed it somewhere in my blog? Isn’t there anyone who could just go through the Picasa Web Albums once or twice and point to obvious usability flaws like these? Did you know there’s sorting by folder/album name pretty much everywhere except Picasa? Also, have you ever seen the how long the URL for RSS feed is for album? Can we make it user-friendly? Can we make it sorted with latest picture on top? Also, how long since anyone clicked on that “Share” button – where’s Buzz, Facebook, Twitter links? E-mailing people a whole album of images in 2010? Seriously?

4. Picasa Software Usability Flaws. I will not complain about lack of sub-folders again, because this it seem to be a feature rather than a bug. Since Web Albums lack sub-folders it is only natural that this inconvenience is propagated down to the desktop app. My biggest gripes are the Web Albums synchronization (or rather lack of thereof) and lack of mass-editing features. I have Picasa installed on 2 PCs and want certain folders to be synchronized. I can easily do it in DropBox, but for some reason Picasa can’t seem to understand how it’s done. Every time I try to sync a folder with Web Albums Picasa creates a new album. Why? I have no idea. As to the mass-editing features – it would be nice if I could assign tags in Picasa to bunch of images at the same time. You know, like – select them and tag all selected. If iTunes can do that to mp3 files I don’t know what the problem is with images.

5. Things That Will Make Picasa Better. These are not things that make Picasa completely unusable, these are things that – if implemented – could give Picasa a significant advantage over other services.

  • E-mail to a specific album – since I can already e-mail photos to a specific address that will place picture into a “dropbox” folder, I see no reason why you couldn’t make a next step with this and actually allow using different aliases for different folders. No one else does it – as far as I know.
  • Google Analytics for Picasa – let me use my Analytics account to see who’s looking at my photos. This would be incredible.
  • Group Photos or Lists or Streams – let me combine photos from different albums into groups or lists. Think Gmail Labels feature. BTW, did you know Gmail allows nested labels now? Oh, and customizable RSS feeds for these lists, too?
  • Different picture sizes links and feeds – how about being able to get direct links to various sizes of a picture? Can we also get an album’s custom RSS feed to be able to pull images of various sizes? Flickr had it for ages.
  • Versioning – let me keep different versions of the same picture. I know it’s rare and far-fetched, but it’s a surefire hit with professionals – and who else would buy hundreds of gigabytes of space?

Still not convinced? How about open sourcing the Picasa, so that someone else picks up the ball you’ve dropped awhile ago?

P.S. I find it interesting that Picasa blog has comments turned off. So I cannot even tell them their ten times more albums feature is just another lousy workaround of not having sub-folders in albums.

Verizon Wireless Data Tests From Florida

As I was returning the Storm after a little test run (I talked about it in the previous post), I decided instead of ditching Verizon altogether to try out their data plan. I got UM175 USB wireless modem and Verizon’s “unlimited” 5GB data plan for $59.99. But testing all that from the middle of New York City isn’t as much fun as taking the set to vacation.

So here I am, in one of Orlando, FL resorts, checking the quality of the service. There’s no problem with connectivity, my question is – just how good the internet connection is for an advanced user like me. All tests were conducted through SpeedTest.net, so that you can enjoy the pretty graphic fonts instead of boring tables.

The most important criteria to look at are latency (how fast the signal travels from point A to point B and back) and upload speed. Big latency is what will kill your IP phone conversation, your online meeting or your live webcast. Download speeds are usually more than adequate, but when you’re trying to upload a bunch of pictures from vacation, a huge Excel spreadsheet or heavy PDF, the podcast or videoblog post – that’s when little upload speed is starting to hurt. Besides, slow upload speeds will also have their say in making your online meeting or IP phone conversation useless.

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Windows Live Installer is going to the computer near you.

TechCrunch is reporting on the evil empire Microsoft releasing Windows Live Installer Suite with whole bunch of goodies (full list available here). Citing NYTimes, that called the release a “Netscape-Level event” TechCrunch boldly disagrees saying that MS isn’t offering anything compelling to users.

So was the case with Netscape. Internet Explorer was much worse by the time it was released. In my opinion, IE now is still suffering from certain “child diseases” comparing to Firefox or Opera. Nevertheless, it’s market share is over 75% roughly. The reason behind it – it comes preinstalled with any Windows system, available immediately (while Firefox/Opera/Netscape requires additional knowledge and download) AND appeared (not anymore, though) as an picture captioned “Internet”. For some people (and I heard this myself), blue icon with word “Internet” and AOL browser were two totally different worlds. “And then my son came and put that Firefox internet on my computer, so which internet do you want me to go?”.

With both XP service pack 3 and Vista service pack 1 coming later on, I can’t help but think that one way or another Live Installer will land on everyone’s computer via service pack or somehow else. So Windows Live Installer is going to the computer near you – whether you want it or not.