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May 9, 2008

Google Closes Hello (What’s That Anyway?)

I’m reading that Google is closing Hello, which apparently was (and is, as I’m writing this), a photo sharing service that came with Picasa. I guess they feel it doesn’t fill a purpose anymore.

This from Hello.com:

We originally embarked on a mission to make photo sharing easier and more fun with Hello. We plan to keep carrying that torch in new projects to come.

We hope that you continue to enjoy the other sharing products Google offers including Picasa, Picasa Web Albums and Google Talk.

More over at Google Blogoscoped, with some links to the old version. Matthew Ingram says that Hello was a really cool app, in which case it’s a shame it closes.

On May 15, Google can begin doing something really cool with hello.com, a truly premium domain name. Too bad for the users of the defunct service though.

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April 28, 2008

What Orphan Works Could Mean to Bloggers

The orphan works legislation, last seen in 2006, now has the attention of Congress again with two similar bills, one in the House and one in the Senate. These bills, should either of them pass, could have a drastic impact on copyright holders both within and outside of the United States.

But what should bloggers expect from this bill? How can Internet-based authors work to avoid having their work becoming “orphaned”?

The answer depends heavily on the kind of work you do and how much protection you want for it. However, what is clear is that at least some bloggers have a good reason to be concerned and should consider taking steps now to avoid a problem down the road. read more

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April 26, 2008

VentureBeat: Web 2.0 Expo Annotated Photo Gallery

Filed as News with no comments

VentureBeat has a great annotated photo recap of the Web 2.0 Expo – held this past week in San Francisco.

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The New York Times profiles the new photography professional

The New York Times takes a look at how Flickr has changed the concept of a photography professional:

Consider photography. As art-school photographers continue to shoot on film, embrace chiaroscuro and resist prettiness, a competing style of picture has been steadily refined online: the Flickr photograph. Flickr, the wildly popular photo-sharing site, was founded by the Canadian company Ludicorp in 2004. Four years later, amid the more than two billion images that currently circulate on the site, the most distinctive offerings, admired by the site’s members and talent scouts alike, are digital images that “pop” with the signature tulip colors of Canon digital cameras.

Thomas Hawk weighs in as well:

Today the web is allowing a new breed of photographer as artist. An artist that is increasingly able to bypass the fine art elite and promote their work directly to the public. Although the fine art prices have not yet been attached to today’s new “Flickr Famous” photographer, this too will come in time. Step one is simply getting the exposure.

I’ve found photographs as beautiful and meaningful on Flickr as I have found anywhere else – even in art museums, galleries, or photography exhibits. Every day thousands of new photographs are posted on Flickr – and I’ve never been able to not find what I was looking for through tag searches or just browsing around.

The combination of digital photography and web services like Flickr have completely changed the photography landscape – and we’ve probably only seen the leading edge of this revolution.

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April 23, 2008

Flickr Adds New Sharing Feature

Flickr has added a new sharing feature, making it even easier for bloggers to pull great photos from Flickr to illustrate their blog posts. The new Share This menu gives easy access to embed code, as well as the option to nab the link, send to a friend, and blog it. The latter being if you have configured any blogs of course.

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April 9, 2008

More Room For Photos On Flickr

It’s not just video that is new on Flickr, they’ve also upped the maximum size for photos. Now non-paying users can upload photos the size of up to 10 MB, while pro users gets the new limit upped to 20 MB. Nice.

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March 4, 2008

NowThen offers Brits photo messaging and blogging services

A new startup has launched in the UK which offers a cost-effective way for mobile phone users to send photos to a large group of people at once, or to include on their blog.

The primary aim of the service is to allow anyone to snap a picture on their camera phone and send it, for the price of a single multimedia message, to their friends’ mobile phones. It also stores all the photos you’ve taken on your profile page.

However, it also includes the ability to embed a widget on your Facebook profile, or any web site where you can use the <EMBED> code — and that includes blogs.

Of course, the service isn’t unique — other photo blogging / moblogging sites already exist — but the mix of sending to a closed, but ultimately large, group of contacts as well as sharing online is an interesting one. It’s pretty cheap, too.

Over two thousand people are already using the site. Three-quarters of the UK population now own a camera phone, so the phenomenon of snapping photos on the move is only going to increase. As social networking and blogging also increase, services like NowThen will become ever more popular.

It’s early days for the service at present, but my initial tests suggest that it works fairly well. It takes a few minutes for photographs sent to the service to be available on your profile page, after which any widgets you’ve placed on a web page will update.

It’s not clear exactly how the service is going to be funded. Posting a photograph to a widget is of negligible cost (though scaled up there could be some significant hosting fees) but sending mobile messages to a large number of people, at no cost to the original sender, might be a harder one to sustain.

Perhaps limits will be imposed, a la Twitter. Concentrating on the moblogging aspect would certainly be cheaper and reach a huge audience.

Anyone in the UK who wants to give the service a go can visit NowThen.com, sign up and activate their phone, then start sending photos.

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February 4, 2008

The Dangers of Offloading Images

Previous on my site, I discussed the benefits of embedding images into your blog rather than hosting them yourself.

But while there are many reasons to embed your images, there are also reasons to think twice before doing so. Posting your images on a third party site, such as Flickr, PhotoBucket or Webshots provides you some protections, but also costs you some rights. By introducing a third party into the equation, you subject yourself to a whole new set of licensing terms, some of which may cost you dearly.

That’s why, before uploading your image or other media to your favorite hosting site, it is worthwhile to take a moment and understand what rights you are giving up and decide if it truly is worth it. read more

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January 10, 2008

photoFlow – The Sleek and Easy Path to Flash-based Photo Navigation

It’s no secret that creating sleek and usable interfaces in flash is a big pain in the head. Whether your the average run-of-the-mill blogger who wants to add a little bit of flashy animated navigation or a seasoned web designer working on a tight deadline – creating flash navigation from scratch is almost a death sentence. Unless you really know the inner-workings of animation design, designing visually stunning animation in flash seems far from achievable (or at least not without effort).

Fortunately, there are a number of readily available flash components that you can avail and can make the job of creating professional animated interfaces really easy and fun while achieve quality results. Today we look at one of such components – Flashloaded‘s photoFlow.

photoFlow is a flash component that showcases photos in 3d stack effect, complete with realistic physics-based flipping animation and reflection. This is similar to an already loved interface prevalent in iTunes and OSX Leopard. For this review I was able to play around with Actionscript 2.0 version of the component. Here are some of the key features of photoFlow:

  • Easily update images using the Component Inspector, ActionScript or an XML file
  • Adjustable flip speed, spacing between stacked images and image size
  • Customizable perspective view and reflections
  • Option to flip images as a slideshow
  • Add links/hyperlinks to each image
  • ActionScript events to perform an action when an image has loaded, is selected, etc…
  • Images can be external or included in the library
  • Mouse wheel image flipping (Windows only)
  • Optionally display a name for each image
  • Option to set the number of images to preload
  • Option to automatically scale images to fit or to fill the defined size
  • Zoom in on selected image or on all images on mouse over
  • photoFlow can open on a pre-defined image
  • Customizable background color and opacity
  • Option to start flipping from left-to-right or right-to-left
  • Supports sound effects for image flipping
  • Built-in preloader
  • Light weight (weighs only 18kb with the scrollbar)

Setting up photoFlow was really straightforward and easy. It took me less than 30 minutes to get an actual working photoFlow interface after installing it through Adobe’s Extenson Manager. photoFlow comes with very thorough and easy to understand instructions that walks you through a basic setup to explaining more elaborate integration points through actionscript events.

One roadblock that I ran to while setting it up was that I forgot that I had the actionscript 2.0 version and proceeded to make an Actionscript 3 project – in which case I couldn’t find the photoFlow component in the Components panel. So it’s important to double check whether you have the Actionscript 2 or 3 version of photoFlow before you make a new flash project.

Aside from that everything was a breeze in using the component. There are a lot of settings to play around with. You can even opt to either manually load files through the component options or load via xml for more advanced users. Skinning is also no problem as you can customize the look of your photoFlow component. Animation and transition of photos can be tweaked to your liking including perspective and depth of the reflection.

All in all photoFlow is one topnotch flash component. Easy to setup, install and tweak – photoFlow is an excellent tool for those who want to setup quick but elegant photo galleries for portfolios, photo albums and even as navigation for a product catalog. photoFlow would definitely cut your time in figuring out how to do stuff and just get you right to creating and designing. It’s something I definitely would consider next time I had to make a flash-based interface.

photoFlow costs $59.95 for the ActionScript 2 version, and $79.95 for the AS2 and AS3 version. Licensees of the AS2 version can upgrade for $20.

Asst. Editor’s Note: this is a sponsored post written on request by Flashloaded.

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January 7, 2008

Skitch: Screenshots Made Easy

When it comes to blogging, there are very few tools I feel compelled to rave about or wonder how I got along without.

For example, I edit my sites with Mars Edit because it is easier and faster. However, I am just as comfortable with my browser and the vanilla WordPress editor as they get the job done just the same.

Skitch, however, is an exception to that rule and is both a tool that makes my life much more simple and a great service that I don’t know how I got along without.

For any blogger (on a Mac) that takes a modest amount of screen grabs or likes embedding images into his hosts, Sktich provides an easy and powerful service that combines capture, editing and hosting all within the same application. For me, it has sped up the process of taking screen captures and enabled me to include many more in my posts.

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