Tag Archives: Google

Sold To Google

Something happened today that I never expected in a million years. I am in contact with a few Google employees on Facebook and Twitter, and in the course of conversation, I shared an idea I once had about a PHP application. We talked it out, I coded the first tidbits, a friend helped with some Python, and, a few short weeks later, Google decided to buy it! But not just the code, this afternoon, we finalized the deal that includes them taking over the domain firsttube.com, since the code is currently running as a daemon on my server here. As a result, this will be one of my last blog posts. Effective tomorrow evening, the domain will transfer to Google and it will become the host for a new Google app (which I’m still hoping will be called “firsttube”). Also, by the end of the week, I will be a full tim Google employee, which is very exciting. For now, I’ll still be working and living in Florida.

Unfortunately, due to legal restrictions, I am unable to say any more, but trust me when I say that most of my friends will have immediate use for this site!

Check back tomorrow for the details!!

Updated: For those who missed it, April Fools!


Picasa for Mac Beta Arrives!

Last night, after several years of waiting, the beta version of Picasa for Mac was released. I’ve only had a short time to tinker with it thus far, but in short: so far, so good.

Picasa for Mac (beta)

Picasa is tightly bound to Picasa Web Albums, the first 1GB of which is also free, in contrast with Apple’s MobileMe, which runs $99/year.  In addition, in my experience, Picasa Web, while it has its drawbacks to be certain, worked pretty much everywhere, whereas I’ve had problems getting MobileMe’s photo gallery to work properly.  

I’ve chronicled my wish for Picasa for Mac for about 3 years now.  As you can see, the post continues to receive comments and remains, to this day, one of the most visited entries on my site. Clearly, there is demand for this product.

What I believe makes Picasa such a successful product is just how powerful it is. Although iPhoto works very well on the Mac and the iLife integration across applications is priceless, the fact remains that for serious editing and effects, the Mac user must venture outside of iPhoto. Picasa, on the other hand, has an entire suite of tools for photo finishing. Furthermore, Picasa features Google’s search tool, a bevy of organization tools, a plugin system using “buttons,” out-of-the-box integration with Gmail, Blogger, Picasa Web Albums, and the ability to make collages, movies, and more. In fact, there is little doubt that Picasa is a much more robust application that iPhoto.

There are some missing features in this beta: Geotagging didn’t make the cut, nor did webcam capture, screen capture, and screensaver. Also missing are the ability to order prints, an HTML export, and the fantastic Picasa Photo Viewer. Most of these features are certainly tied tighter into the OS, and while they will be missed, they are by no means deal-breakers.

I noticed the menus in Picasa for Mac are very “Windows-y.”  The menu bar still has a “File/Edit/View/Tools” bar across the top, which is decidedly “un-Mac-like,” although the preferences window does use the current Mac look and feel.  

What remains to be seen is whether or not Picasa is stable, whether or not it’s fast, and whether or not it can handle large photo libraries. I know people with well over 15,000 photos in their iPhoto collection, and the application is solid. Since Picasa doesn’t store it’s own library, but rather, merely catalogs photos elsewhere on your disk, we’ll have to see whether this translates into a performance advantage or disadvantage. It remains to be seen if Picasa for Mac can go toe-to-toe with more mature, native solutions. That said, count me in as one of the many waiting to find out.

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Back to Google Reader

I’ve chronicled my adventures with Bloglines before, several times, in fact.  I was not happy when their new “beta” was released, but after several revisions, it proved to be a worth successor.  Some time ago, I switched over full time to the beta version and never looked back.  It’s better looking, smoother, with a much more modern feel to it.  However, from time to time, it’s done weird things.  

Most recently, I realized that it simply stopped updating certain feeds.  One, in particular, was TUAW.  I later found that TUAW had moved their feed to Google, and were 301 redirecting requests to their RSS URL, http://tuaw.com/rss.xml.  Bloglines is supposed to follow 301s, but in this case, it just stopped updating the feed.  Other feeds has items that were clearly missing.  All of this came to a head yesterday when I was having regular troubles just getting into Bloglines at all. 

The lack of any sort of Sync API and the lack of tools being developed around Bloglines forced me to make a decision: am I going to stick to Bloglines, which has worked well for me for a long time now, or jump ship? 

Suffice it to say, I’m back on Google Reader.  The things that really annoyed me are mostly fixed: the site is much faster and smoother than before.  My only gripe is that when I click on a feed, the items must be scrolled past in order to be marked read.  I preferred the Bloglines “classic” way, which was clicking on a feed immediately marked all items as “read.”  

Anyway, we’ll see how things go with Google Reader.  You can be certain I’ll report back on the situation.

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Buh Bye, Picasa Web Albums

After settling in on Picasa Web Albums, I’ve taken my album offline and cancelled by Google paid storage. I’m going to be deciding on a new picture host soon. Hopefully one that actually support subfolders, password protection, and has a good, quick, easy iPhoto plugin. This is when I wish MobileMe wasn’t so damned expensive.

Picasa Web Albums, even with their incredible face-recognizing people tagger, is so sub-par compared to every other photo album out there. Its feature-poor interface lacks so much that it makes using it a chore for me. I’ve tackled this before: Picasa Web just ain’t cuttin it.

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Google Slips on SLL Renewal

It happens to us all. We network folks admins have a lot of responsibility put on us that no one else understands.

Google is sometimes seen as the company who can do no wrong. Well, they’re human, and it’s time to hire someone to do your administrative work, boys.

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From Bloglines to Google, and Back

I ditched Bloglines the other day for Google Reader. I’m not a huge fan of Bloglines’ new beta interface, most because I find it clunkier than the current interface. Sure, the current one feels a little dated, but it works. Plus, the iPhone interface is nice.

Google has a lot going for it. For one, it seems everyone who uses it raves about it. Also, the iPhone interface is integrated with all the other Google services I use, Picasa Web, Gmail, etc.

This all came about because I wanted to use a desktop RSS reader at home and sync it with my web interface for work and iPhone, but that doesn’t exist unless I use Newsgator. Bloglines and Google both appear to have a sync API, but neither Vienna nor NetNewsWire (nor any other client I could find) actually syncs back to them.

But it appears Vienna is working on one for Google’s reader, and with the Bloglines beta looming, it seemed like a good enough time to make the jump. So I did.

Google’s Reader is awfully attractive, but it’s really keyboard driven. Not only that, but there’s no way to have it mark all items as read as you click a feed. You must begin the tedious task of scrolling through every single item, or hitting “j”, “j”, “j”. And YouTube embeds don’t go away – at least in Opera 9.22 – they just wait at the top of the reading pane, obstructing text, until I click a new feed.

Did I mention that Google Reader is slow slow slow? I can click a link and watch it “Loading…” for several seconds. Opera is a second class citizen in Google-land, which is why all new Gmail features don’t work (v2, label colors, AIM) and Picasa support is flaky, but I think Reader fits in that boat too. It’s painful.

So, after 4 full days, I bailed. I’m back to Bloglines classic. I’d love to tweak the stylesheet a little, but it works and it’s so much faster. I’m pretty pleased with Bloglines, especially now that I’ve had a chance to experience something else.

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A Review of Online Photo Services

Some time ago, I switched to Google’s Picasa Web Albums online photo management software. Although it’s simple to use, Picasa Web has been missing too many features for too long, and after Google locked me out of their software for a few days due to a bug of some sort, and their iPhoto plug-in stopped working, I decided it was time to start checking out the alternatives. I have played with a few services, and judged them based on a number of criteria, including these 15 questions:

1. How easy is it to do batch uploads?
2. Are there decent Mac and Windows upload tools?
3. Does it work in all major browsers (Opera and Safari are both important)
4. Will the default display scale to upwards of 2500 photos?
5. How fast does each page load?
6. Is the image scaled down? If so, is the original available?
7. Is it a fly-by-night startup that I can count on to be around?
8. How much does it cost for a pro membership, if anything? What are the benefits?
9. What are my storage requirements?
10. What is my traffic/bandwidth limit, if any?
11. Are there integrated ads?
12. How easy is it for others to access my photos?
13. Is there any sort of privacy?
14. What type of tools exist for me to manage my photos once they are online?
15. Is there some sort of embed/slideshow for my webpages?

I’ve tested the following services: Picasa Web Albums, Flickr, Zoto, Zooomr, SmugMug, Photobucket, Facebook, and MySpace. Read on for my initial results.
Continue reading

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Gee, Thanks Google!

Google resolved their storage blunders recently and, in an unannounced act of reconciliation, I assume, extended my paid storage upgrade for a few extra weeks. But imagine my surprise when I got this email today:


At first glance, you might think to yourself – that’s nice of Google, warning you that they are about to charge your card, a service which they do automatically to prevent you from having to take any action or lose your data. Except if you see this:


Apparently, they want me to pay $25 for 6GB of space, but everyone else gets the same thing for $20? My reward for being an early Google adopter is that I get to pay a steeper fee?

Is Google the next “Boston Market,” expanding too fast to keep quality at the same level? Lately, it seems like Google’s apps are quirkier, their service flakier, and their support non-existent. Is it a mistake to continue to entrust all of our data to Google?

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My Faith in Google Is Now In Question

As my readers will know, I’ve detailed my isses with Google, or more specifically, Picasa Web in the past. Well, today, I was surprised when Picasa refused to upload new photos for me. I cannot use my iPhoto exporter anymore, since that broke with one of the last two updates to iPhoto, so I tried the web interface and then the “Picasa Web Albums Uploader” application Google provides. The reason it failed? No storage.

“That’s odd,” I thought. I have extended storage and about 5 GB free. But alas, it expired. In fact, my storage SHOULD have expired in August, but just did recently. So I tried to upgrade again. After all, Google’s been good to me on the whole. But my order was cancelled by Google. The reason: “Another order modified the user’s storage plan before this order was received

What the heck? So I tried again. And once again: cancelled. So my storage has been cancelled for a few days now, no upgrade has been applied, no warning whatsoever from Google (at my account, which is a Gmail account!), and no way to upgrade!

Gmail has been a fantastic app for me, but I’m just not sure about extended Google services. I’ve heard way too many nightmare stories about people having stuff cancelled and there is just no recourse: Google provides no support, no assistance, no real time communication, nothing other than crappy, slow-to-respond Google groups from very unofficial people.

Google’s storage engine has been modified heavily lately, and this does not bode well. If it can expire without notice – will they delete my stuff? How long will they hold it, being as though I can’t upgrade? If Google deletes even one bit of my stuff, I am through with PicasaWeb and Google’s expanded storage for good.

Boo Google! Boo! It may be time migrate to smugmug, Zoto, or zooomr.com.

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Google Error

Dear Google, WTF? Love, Adam

Google Error

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