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post I received a notification from Flickr which meant that some information I’d given in my earlier post would now be out of date.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 😦

 

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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.


It’s easy to forget

It’s been a while since I chose to employ any Microsoft OS for my own use. However, most of the places I visit or work with have now moved up to Windows 7 and furthermore, I have been retained to give someone a report on certain aspects of Win 7’s potential. I have therefore bought a copy of Windows 7 and have installed it on my Aldi-Medion (formerly Vista) laptop. Well, number one son Ben has installed it for me – I may well have asked the laptop AND the software to pick a window (through which I would the throw it!)

I have brought the very same laptop on holiday with me, to a) put Win 7 through some easy paces and b) to upload my pics to Flickr and to keep up to my holiday blog. Internetting has been OK but drafting blogs became a tad tricky as I have not yet invested in Office 2010 – which is the plan. I tried the already installed MS Works and (as I have done many times before and many years ago) wondered what its purpose in life was. I then downloaded Open Office 3.0 and I was ready to go.

I missed Microsoft Picture Manager big-time too, I’d thought that was part of Win 7 but it seems it isn’t. On the ‘net, Fotoflexer wouldn’t work for me because it thought I was French and threw me out; Picnik tried to do the same, but I found the button that said ‘hey – I’m English and need English titles etc.’ so was able to crop/edit some pictures for use later.

So, tonight I tried combining all elements in a holiday blog post: Open Office 3.0 draft words, Picnik’d Flickr photos and WordPress. What a disaster!

My lack of recent familiarity with Windows and the ubiquitous Internet Explorer is to blame I think. I know I could use other browsers like Firefox (which is my default on the Mac), Chrome (which is my default on Parallels) or Safari (Which I use now and again) but for the same reasons detailed above – I need to reacquaint myself with it.

I did all the usual things like importing the words into WordPress via the ‘Paste as Plain Text’ facility and importing the picture ‘from URL’ but things just didn’t go right. I could see that I’d lost half of my text after inserting the picture – I wasn’t sure why that happened – and I pasted it right back in. Then, later in the evening I noticed that an complete paragraph had been missed. I’d deleted my original by now too!

I’m not blaming Windows or IE25 (or whatever version it is this week), it was definitely operator error, but it’s amazing how soon you become unfamiliar with a tool, when it’s been updated. Sorry to anyone who read that post and wondered what I was talking about 😦

#ashton6fc

David Delivering

David Delivering

I’ve just got back from a brilliant day at Ashton 6th Form College in Greater Manchester. The entire college was having an e-Learning day and I’d been asked to deliver an introductory overview to ‘free’ bits of software and Web 2.0. I then delivered three workshops where participants could practice what I’d preached during my introduction!  Kevin Hickey and Lisa Valentine from the Regional Support Centre (RSC-NW) were also there to deliver workshops which were very well received, despite them being cunningly disguised accessibility sessions.

I delivered 50 minutes where we looked at and compared screen capture tools [Cam Studio v Screencast-o-matic], mind mapping software [FreeMind v Mindomo and Mind42] – then looked at free image editing software such as www.picnik.com and Microsoft’s Picture Manager. This is an oft-missed simple editing tool on most versions of Windows. Just right-click on an image and choose open-with >> MS Picture Manager. Both Picnik and MS PM offer facilities to crop, rotate, brighten, colour, sharpen etc – the usual basic editing tools. We also looked at sound file creation (we tried very hard to avoid the semantics behind the word Podcast) via MyPodcast.com‘s recorder software – which is dead simple to use and iPadio. iPadio is a fabulous site which I’ve blogged about earlier and elsewhere. Free MP3 recording via telephone is back.  I finished the presentation by introducing and discussing the perils of Tagging. I’d also shown etherpad and its use as a collaboration tool. 

All of this was delivered with the idea that learners would use the tools to become ‘creators’: but the understanding of that point came slowly to some.

The hands on sessions were well received and I think (know) that most attendees took something away with them. See this – click here – for an example of “how do I?” being put to immediate good use with the help of MoLeNET kit (a Flip Camera), a willing colleague, will and motivation.

Sandra and the college provided us with an excellent lunch at the local Italian Restaurant (I had a delicious 4 cheese pizza) and the Principal (without me knowing) stayed though my entire opening presentation. Good day – good job.

I was reported to the ‘boss’ during yesterday’s work at another 6th form college. I don’t know what the complaint was but as far as I know it was the only one in an overwhelming positive day – coaching teaching teams in Blackboard use and delivery. I know WHO complained and suspect -(I only suspect as she may have thought I was crap) – that it was because I had to give her the ‘talk to the hand’ hand (well: “I think your idea is really really good and I know that you don’t want to take the ideas I am presenting to your colleagues on board, but with the greatest respect – I am going to disagree with you and I will continue to show your colleagues these techniques”). That’s the first time in 40 years I’ve been in trouble with the headmaster!! Tee hee.