Tag Archives: PicasaWeb

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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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.
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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:

Google

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:

Google

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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More About Picasa Web Albums

Forgive me if this sounds especially arrogant or offends anyone, but I think I should be asked to join Google as the project lead for Picasa Web Albums, because I am really let down by what exists today and I think that I might be able to write something better myself with a week’s worth of programming and a server running PHP5.

Google has always been a “release now, update frequently later” kind of company, and I respect that. It’s cooler, as a user, to get something today and slowly and unexpectedly watch features trickle in, but Picasa Web Albums is a disaster right now. Read more for the details.
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I Found a Google Bug!

Yes, I can now confirm that I have found a bug in Picasa Web Albums. Since the new “tagging” features are not validated – either client side or server side – you can use URL signficant characters in your tags. At first, I used a plus sign (+), which was URL decoded as a space. This lead me to try #, then ?, and finally &, which inexplicably – WORKS!

So I created a new tag D&psc=CONTACTS — and guess what? — it has some funny results. It searches all of your contacts’ photos for the letter D (which is common in default photo names, such as DSC001.jpg). Then I thought, “I wonder if I browse the JS source if I can find a command that is passed via URL GET variable that can be instantiated via an intentionally malcrafted tag?” I have posted on the Google USENET group and filed a bug through the standard complaint form. I consider this pretty big news, but I don’t want to submit it to digg or Slashdot or post on OSNews until someone has a chance to implement a fix, which is probably pretty trivial (URL encode the tag links) or fix it properly (validate tags on creation).

Anyway, I’m psyched, because I understand it’s pretty rare to find a bug in Google’s code.

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Picasa Evolves

Well, I’m very excited to report that Google has begun bringing Picasa into the Web 2.0 realm.

Today I signed in and found — tags! and search! and moire storage! Hooray! So this is fantastic, it’s the start of bringing this beast up to “usable” for large photostreams.

Now that Picasa is evolving, they are letting you expand beyond 6GB to 25GB, 50GB, and even 100GB. I can’t image how clunky and weak it would be with that many albums, but I have to assume they’re working on it.

Unfortunately, what’s really missing is the ability to tag multiple photos at once. I’m not going to tag 3000+ photos one by one. But still, nice to see some progress.

I did find a bug. It let me create the tag “A+J,” which is linked on the front page of my photos, but not wrapped with urlencode(), so it throws an error. I found a google bug!

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What I'm Hoping to See in PicasaWeb 2.0

Google’s PicasaWeb program has been out for awhile now, it’s had a chance to sink in and get a little more popular. It hasn’t taken off like Flickr, but no one expected it to, since it’s not feature-packed enough to make it an actual competitor.

I’ve got close to 1GB of photos in my PicasaWeb account now, spread across 46 albums, and PicasaWeb is getting a little clunky now. So, Google, now that we’ve shipped and rolled out fairly well, it’s time to start talking about how to kick it up a notch.

PicasaWeb is in dire need of several features just to keep it usable. We all have our “this would be cool” features – mine is “public groups.” But there are some that are just plan necessary. Read on for more.
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What I’m Hoping to See in PicasaWeb 2.0

Google’s PicasaWeb program has been out for awhile now, it’s had a chance to sink in and get a little more popular. It hasn’t taken off like Flickr, but no one expected it to, since it’s not feature-packed enough to make it an actual competitor.

I’ve got close to 1GB of photos in my PicasaWeb account now, spread across 46 albums, and PicasaWeb is getting a little clunky now. So, Google, now that we’ve shipped and rolled out fairly well, it’s time to start talking about how to kick it up a notch.

PicasaWeb is in dire need of several features just to keep it usable. We all have our “this would be cool” features – mine is “public groups.” But there are some that are just plan necessary. Read on for more.
Continue reading

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Review: Picasaweb vs. Flickr

Now that I’ve successfully used most of the features on both flickr.com and Picasaweb, I decided I would write a short review of the two services. The need for online photo storage is certainly a very real one, and different services have different objectives. Here’s a short breakdown.

Read more for the review.
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