I live on the Net. I turn to a browser when a question needs answering, the Web houses my e-mail and photos, and my news and entertainment arrive via broadband.
So it wasn't until the third online Web site failed me that it dawned on me: maybe software running natively on a computer might do better when it comes to printing this year's photo calendar. After iPhoto got the job done, I ended up spending $198.27 for nine calendars through Apple--but even the company that arguably pays more attention than any other to a smooth user experience still made me grind my teeth a couple times. Does it really need to be this hard?
There are times when service at phone companies, insurance companies, and car mechanics frustrates me, but their interests--extracting as much of my money as possible--are often poorly aligned with my own. In the case of ordering up some calendars for family members, the roles seemed reversed: I was happy to pay real money, but it seemed like the online companies didn't want to take it.
This was by no means an exhaustive test of publishing sites. I didn't try Shutterfly, WebShots, or any other rivals, and I haven't even judged the output yet. But since the promise of Internet-based business for more than a decade now has been low-friction commerce, I thought I'd share my experience with the world that indicates there's still work to be done. Here's the route my journey took:
First stop: Qoop In 2009, I ordered my calendars through Qoop, so they had incumbent status this year. I fired up the site, picked an 8.5 x 11-inch calendar, cropped my photos accordingly, and started uploading.
The first problem arrived when about half the images wouldn't upload. I tried again, but had the same problem. A third try with somewhat lower-resolution images seemed to do the trick, but there wasn't any feedback from the site. Each time I clicked through the somewhat cryptic error messages, I saw only my selection of last year's photos at the site. … Read more
Twitter-centric photo sharing service Yfrog released its top 10 searches of 2009 on Monday, and the results are not all that shocking; It appears most of its users are hunting for tween-heartthrob vampires, and/or famous singers. Below is the full list. I've linked each query with a search on Yfrog:
To put this in perspective, Yfrog's list shares only the terms "new moon&… Read more
Once again, Google has embedded new features into its free desktop photo management app for Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7), Picasa, after first launching said features on the online Picasa Web Albums.
This time around Google is offering collaborative Web albums. Since August, you've been able to let friends upload photos into your Picasa Web Album, and vice versa. The way you grant permission on the Web is with a subtle icon next to the name of the person with whom you've already shared the album. Your friends can then quickly add their own photos to the online … Read more
Image identification company PicScout is expanding its efforts to help people identify the rights holders of images they find online.
On Tuesday the company is set to add microstock site Dreamstime's more than 7 million images to its Image Exchange catalog. What this means is that users who have the company's Image Exchange Firefox add-on installed will be able to identify when one of those images (or the other 40 million or so that are in the catalog) winds up on Web sites and in places like Google's image search.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Google's first search engine let people search by typing text onto a Web page. Next came queries spoken over the phone. On Monday, Google announced the ability to perform an Internet search by submitting a photograph.
The experimental search-by-sight feature, called Google Goggles, has a database of billions of images that informs its analysis of what's been uploaded, said Vic Gundotra, Google's vice president of engineering. It can recognize books, album covers, artwork, landmarks, places, logos, and more.
"It is our goal to be able to identify any image," he said. "… Read more
The Immersive Media technology supporting the online video, scheduled for online availability at 8 p.m. PST, is designed to enable users to freely navigate around a video, 360 degrees, letting them explore angles and shots that they wouldn't normally have been able to see.
While I haven't seen the Woodie feed yet, I did have a chance to play around with the technology on some test videos. The video experience … Read more
Coca-Cola on Thursday launched a facial-matching Facebook application called the Coke Zero Facial Profiler.
As long as users have at least three photos of themselves in their Facebook profile, the application searches across other pictures from Facebook users that have used the app to find someone whose face matches theirs most accurately. Those that don't have three images can either upload a picture into the app from their desktop or capture a picture from their Webcam.
I had a chance to use the app this afternoon. After it is added to your profile, you can immediately direct it to … Read more
After a trial release in July, Face.com on Wednesday launched Photo Tagger to the public. Photo Tagger is a free third-party application for Facebook that uses facial recognition technology to automatically tag photos of people.
Facebook users can use Photo Tagger to automatically tag their photos, it uses facial recognition software to tag all of the photos in an album. After selecting an album photo Tagger scans the photos, then batches them into groups by subject and suggests tags for them. When tags are confirmed, they are pushed live to Facebook, within the users privacy settings.
Photo Tagger also … Read more
Google has cut the price to store photos at its Picasa Web Albums site by a factor of eight.
The photo-sharing site offers 1GB of photo and video storage for free, but now going beyond that limit costs less. The options now range from $5 a year for 20GB to $4,096 a year for a whopping 16 terabytes.
"Today we're dramatically lowering our prices to make extra storage even more affordable. You can now buy 20GB for only $5 a year--that's twice as much storage for a quarter of the old price, and enough space for … Read more