New Flickr

screen shot of new flickr pageI really like my new Flickr page.

This just appeared one day last week, with little warning. It’s taken me a short while to find the things I use on Flickr, but overall I’m well pleased.

I’ve thought for a while that it would be nice to see my photo-stream full page, rather than in small windows. Now, I can scroll through the year quite easily.

E.g. The ‘Gavin’ Coke and picture of Sharon remind me of the weekend we had summer earlier this month. The picture of Kings Cross remind me of what will probably be my last work-trip to London and the various jig-saw pictures remind me of a new hobby.

Right back to Christmas and the inevitable Brussels Sprouts.

Sets and Favorites (sic) are now laid out in a more eye-friendly way too – I’d forgotten all about this picture of me and Danny Atwere; I just found it in my Favourites.

So, whilst I can’t always appreciate updates and ‘improvements’ just for the sake of changing something, I can and do appreciate this major change. Well done Yahoo!

So – Facebook; can you make updates and ‘improvements’ that work as well as Flickr’s?  

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Photo editing – Aviary

Earlier this week, and just after posting my previous blog post I received a notification from Flickr which meant that some information I’d given in my earlier post would now be out of date.

We are thrilled to share the news that we’ve partnered with Aviary to bring you a brand new photo editing experience on Flickr. [Flickr blog]

I wasn’t overly surprised at Flickr’s decision to move from Picnik, given my earlier post [January 2012].

Aviary has never been one of the online photo editors I’ve mentioned or recommended before as although I’d always been aware of the service I had never used it. I’ve always thought that two or three different sites offering the same or similar service, is enough.

So I never went there much, before today!

Flickr does not link to the main (original?) Aviary site, which gives access to a powerful range of tools which go far beyond the sort of editing I want to do quickly and easily online. Instead, it links to a basic, icon-led and very customer friendly interface. This video demonstrates some of the features available (don’t worry that it shows it being used on a mobile device – I’ve only found links to the SDK online, not an actual App – perhaps it’s me?)

So, whilst I don’t always welcome major and constant change, I do do cautiously welcome this one. One of my predicted nails in Picnik’s coffin 😦

 

Photo hosting

picture of angler with huge fishI’ve had a Flickr account for several years now and I like the service so much that I have paid a little extra for the privilege since 2007.  I’ve also had a Photobucket account for about the same length of time, but I haven’t used that much. Mainly because I prefer Flickr’s interface and facilities.

I think that photo hosting sites like these two are essential in today’s online world. With both services, you can show your favourite pictures to anyone and everyone around the world. You can set access controls to individual images so that some can be totally public and some private to only selected viewers. For me the most useful facility is that I can insert pictures into my blog directly from Flickr/Photobucket. Both sites offer editing facilities – Flickr uses Picnik and Photobucket uses Fotoflexer, both of which are useful editing sites (I prefer Fotoflexer).

two chairs covered in snowHowever, Photobucket presents non-stop video advertising during the time you are uploading images and I find this intensely irritating. By comparison, I also have a different ‘free’ Flickr account where the adverts are far less intrusive, whilst on my main ‘paid’ Flickr account there are no adverts at all. I think that I prefer this option. By paying just a little over $47 every two years, I avoid all of the irritation of advertising (I even record T.V. programmes, so that I can fast forward through the adverts) and am not limited to the number of images I upload.

I don’t think that there’s a ‘pay for’ option on Photobucket.

Another service that puts Flickr in front for me is the fact that I can attach various levels of Creative Commons to my images and that I can search for similarly usefully copyright free(ish) images on the site.

Picnik killed by Google

I woke this morning to the news that Google was killing off another superb tool in another (forlorn?) effort to get folks onto Google+

Picnik will now go the way of Jaiku, Etherpad etc. on April 19th 2012.

They wrote:

Since joining Google in 2010, we have been creating editing magic in Google products while continuing to keep Picnik awesome. But now we get to focus on even awesomer things. Picnik will be closing on April 19, 2012.

Picnik is (soon to be ‘was’) one of the better online productivity tools available for free. I know that ‘free’ is a dirty word in the corporate world but there is always an ‘upgrade’ facility if users want to get their hands really dirty. The site allowed users to upload photographs and to carry out basic edits such as cropping, ‘red-eye’ and recolouring. It wasn’t ‘Photoshop’ and it never set out to be, but those using Picnik could do just enough to make their images usable without needing a degree in media editing.

Google have killed off other promising tools in their effort to catch up with Facebook and Twitter – Jaiku (before its time) and Etherpad to name just two.

Just how many social networking tools do I need? Google+ hasn’t set my world alight and I seem to be managing quite well with Facebook (despite my intense dislike) and Twitter. And Flickr, and so on.

For alternative photo editing sites try:

http://www.fotoflexer.com

http://www.pixlr.com to name just two.


Why hasn’t Flickr got a belting App?

There was some discussion recently about the success of new and emerging photo sharing sites such as Instagram and Photovine.

The counterpoint of this discussion was the effect it has on more established sharing sites like Flickr (and Photobucket?).

At first, I failed to see the point of the discussion (as I interpreted it) as Instagram and Photovine offer completely different services to sites like Flickr and Photobucket.

Ref:http://davepeck.visibli.com/share/K4VmAN written in response to http://thomashawk.com/2011/08/flickr-is-dead.html

I had to ask the question (via Twitter): What do people want from photo sites? Why is Flickr dying? What changes are needed? @alextronic replied to @dsugden @jamesclay and @davepeck – It’s an amazing site that could do with a better app!

And that made me realise the problem. Flickr really could do with an App that does ‘stuff’. Following a recent James Clay blog post [http://tech.jamesclay.net/?p=2099]I recently bought the Paper Camera App http://bit.ly/qxJuMK (to go with Instagram and all the other photo Apps). I paid 69p. and am only marginally disappointed with it. How difficult would it be for a company like Yahoo! to develop an absolutely belting App that allows the pencillification of Paper Camera along with all the different filters found on Instagram. Even if they charge more than 69p! After all their customers have an abundance of photos – perhaps they’d like to play too?

AccessApps Workshop

I had a really good day on Thursday. I’d been asked to deliver training to a group of teachers and learner support assistants (LSAs?) and agreed that I should do one hour’s input and then supervise a 1.5 to 2 hour workshop session where they could expand upon anything they liked. This actually worked very well and I came away enthused by the participants’ responses to the event.

I’d been forewarned that they were not as enamoured of AccessApps as perhaps they should be, but that they were pretty open minded about the use of technology generally. Everyone had their own particular need, according to the need of the learner(s) they supported. I therefore planned and delivered an input that delivered three main themes, with and underpinning but less visible fourth.

1 – Mind Mapping web sites:

2 – Photo editing web sites:

3 – Access Apps and

4 – Underpinned by use of various Google Docs facilities.

The big winner, in the end was AccessApps! Which, made me consider why I’d been advised of their earlier dislike. At the end, I asked everyone to tell me (via a TitanPad) what was the one thing they would take away and use again.  The answer? The RSC-Scotland EduApps webpage: http://www.rsc-ne-scotland.ac.uk/eduapps

Of course, I had to consider why this was the case. After all, they had seen the various applications before – hadn’t they?

Well, apparently – previous training sessions where AccessApps had been shown, were either very directed, short or just; well – ‘shown‘! Also (and I think that this is the main reason here at this college), if they wanted to play with AccessApps, they had to book a USB Stick containing the Apps out of the library – presumably to copy and use as they like. What I had given them was access to the website itself where they could investigate and download exactly what they like, when they like and without having to ‘go’ anywhere.

In the same way that it is more beneficial in the long term to give starving people the skills to farm, I’d given the participants ‘permission’ to grow their own AccessApps suite and to use just what they want, when they want. It’s great to see people leaving a training session with smiley faces 🙂