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.

internet social

Monopolies of the Crowd: Our Near Future

Various federal commissions are keeping tabs on companies in order to prevent them from turning into monopolies. But the onerous “web crowd” might overpower them with ease by creating de facto monopolies.

Starting with my own area of expertise – web site creation. If your web site isn’t on Google’s first couple of pages for your search terms – you’re effectively off the market. Why? Because no matter what FTC would do, we, the people, will “google it” first. Google didn’t just buy those 80% of search market – we handed it to them on our own.

If your video isn’t on YouTube – there’s hardly any substitute on that. Recent TechCrunch post on percentage shares of US video streams confirms that. I don’t remember YouTube stalking me with a bat to make me use their services.

Next – social networking. While MySpace/Facebook/Ning leave some room for competition, Twitter is the only game in town so far and so are Flickr, and LinkedIn (to a point).

It’s not that these companies are brutal in extinguishing their competition, something Microsoft did to Netscape back in the old age of browser wars. Also, there are alternatives –  technically speaking. But there is no real competition in terms of services’ social population and  amount of interaction one would encounter. Heck, the reason Twitter crumbles every now and then because there is no competition, so there is no other place to tweet. It’s just that after we played with most social web sites out there, we tend to come back to one or two most populated, since being where the social action occurs is the whole point of exercise.


Las Vegas Learning

Well, if you have followed my twitter you already know I am a married man now (applause, congratulations; gifts accepted too!). It happened in Vegas on November 27. Sorry for not posting for such a long time.

The trip was fun (I have never been to Vegas before) and it was a very interesting learning experience. Not many people would argue that Vegas knows how to make money. So it was very interesting to watch how to make money off the leisure activities in the time of world financial crisis.

Everything is over-blinged. I mean – we all know that extra bling don’t hurt, but boy – Vegas is one big bling all by itself. One thing that I found very amusing – all life happens in casinos. Food, shows, shops, restrooms – everything is in casino. In fact I was surprised there was a wall between McDonald’s and a casino. My thought was – why not create a McDonald’s casino – you throw in some money, pull lever or hit the Spin the Mac button – BLING! – and Chicken McNuggets fall down the tray. Or fries if you aren’t so lucky. Or, if you are lucky enough – a cheeseburger with soda. Or, as a jackpot – a Big Mac, extra fries and soda. Imagine the possibilities!

Out of all the annoyances – if you want to do anything you will have to pass through casino. Except for Bellagio, where I found a show entrance, their buffet and restrooms to be in direct visibility line from each other. Pretty much everywhere else, you have to pass through a casino to get anywhere. Or through a row of very expensive shops. One way or another – you are watching either a mandatory display of some expensive brands or stimulated to put your money into a one-armed bandit. Now, that’s an effective advertising.

A lot of things change in Vegas very quickly. Two hotels are standing right where was simple nothing just two years ago – Wynn and Encore. As we walked down the Las Vegas Strip I saw at least four other buildings being built. There’s your real-estate crisis, right there. Not.

Everyone – from last cleaner in the casino all the way to the security at the McCarran Airport – is very nice and polite. In fact the only rude person I’ve met was some 300 miles east, at the Grand Canyon tourist center. And even then – it was 7am, so it could be just the morning rust.

Everything is aligned in such a way to help you effectively spend your money in the most convenient and pleasurable way. If there’s a line – it’s almost never to pay for something, it’s usually to get what you’ve paid for already. Sometimes cashiers are slow, it happens mostly because of all the language niceties they have to go through (sometimes I wondered if there are scripts they have to follow), but in large numbers they take care of that anyway.

If there is any luxury that will be in demand – expect to pay a premium price for it. If this is a “necessary” luxury – it would be complimentary. For example – parking in any casino on the strip is free. At the same time a single ride in monorail from one casino to another is a whopping $5.

And speaking of wedding itself – we found the chapel on the internet and the deciding factor was that right there on the first page there was a little video presentation with thorough explanation of all the chapel’s benefits. Plus – they have a live broadcast of the wedding ceremony over the internet, so I had friends all over the world watch it live. People who I could not afford to invite were there with me. It was amazing experience.

For those really interested – I will post a video on YouTube once I catch some sleep after this vacation.