Google Plus: A few more features would be a plus

As I finally got my hands on Google+ invites and started exploring the service it’s inevitable that it was found lacking. No, scratch that, it was found definitely wanting. It is well understood that Google+ is in a very early stages and, in words of some popular blog “they haven’t even put it in the oven yet, so don’t judge the cookie by the dough“.

So consider the following a “please do” list, rather than a list of complaints.
1. Where is my real-time integration with other services, Facebook and Twitter in particular? This is a big one and besides – Google is about “you and them”, while all others are about “them and you”. Had Google come to a bare land, it would be fine if no import/export functionality would exist. Now, I have people following me on Twitter, I have Facebook account and a separate page for my photography business. I also have a bunch of other account more or less social (Blogger, LiveJournal, Flickr – to name a few), so it’s hard to keep them all in sync. Had Google provided the facility to post to them all – I would visit my +Zealus more often than once a week.

2. Picking who to add could be better. I have a list of 500 people none of whom I know and the only reason why they show up is because they have Google+ account. If I want just anybody – I’ll go to Twitter, Circles is a great idea, now let me use it! Especially that Google+ has access to my address book.

3. Sane URL to my profile page. It’s not a big deal, but again – Google+ isn’t coming to a barren land, even Facebook has “vanity” URLs feature.

4. Put in the Wave functionality! Not into chat, but into the main thing! If anything can have the most bang out of Wave technology – it’s Google+, particularly in smaller circles. Example – distributed development team and management brainstorming their next move. Or client in Chicago working with PM in New York and team in Ukraine on a new web site. Possibilities are endless.

5. Let me change that damn color scheme. It’s depressing, boring and totally discouraging me from using Google Plus. I don’t say I want to go Myspace on it, but at least I want different colors.

6. I can haz Pages? I can’t possibly stuff all the things I do into my profile, it would not make any sense. So something similar to Facebook pages (only more sane) would definitely do some good. Now if these pages could have circles… If circles can have circles… Gets kind of scary.

Again, this is just a cursory overlook of all the things that should essentially be a part of GooglePlus, but aren’t. For a brand new social engine – they are must have. Let’s see how long it will take Google to implement the most important ones.


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:


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.

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Google Superbowl Commercial

Google’s Super Bowl Commercial is very cute. But why Paris? Why not Kiev, Hong Kong or London?