Monthly Archives: January 2005

Picasa gripe

I’ve been playing with using Picasa from Google for the last week or so and overall I’m quite impressed with it. It’s already better for managing a big pile of photos than the software that came with my digital camera, and that’s without making use of all the metadata, plus it provides good basic photo editing features and makes it easy to tweak and resize photos for sharing via e-mail.

I just discovered something I don’t like today though: The way it imports new photos from a digital camera. I’ve just built a new PC, and rather than installing the software Canon provided with my camera, I thought I’d use Picasa to pull the photos over.

Yuck. Before I can actually save the photos to disk, Picasa forces me to name a folder to put them in and prompts me to add various bits of metadata. This requires thinking I’d rather not do. I hate having to remember to upload my photos in the first place and would rather they just magically flow to my computer whenever the camera gets close enough. Requiring any more thought is an entirely unwelcome imposition.

Even if I wanted to think about how to categorize my photos when I upload them, Picasa imposes a flawed model. I don’t upload from my camera after ever activity, as a result, there may be a week or more’s worth of images taken on different days of different things. It’s stupid to steer me into tagging a group of unrelated photos with the same metadata.

Even worse, they practically force me to tag it with incorrect metadata since I have no choice but to assign a single date to all the photos in the batch I import. I don’t even see the point in assigning a date, since the camera time stamps each file in the first place.

As much as I resent being forced to think at a time I’d rather not think at all, I do see the value in making it as simple as possible to add metadata to photos when you are downloading them from the camera. Unfortunately, Picasa seems to have made it too simple to be of much use.

I’d prefer:

1. That Picasa has the option of automatically downloading the photos from my camera with no effort on my part other than hooking up the cable. Sticking them in folders by shooting date (either by day, week, or month, as a configuration option) seems like a reasonable bit of automatic categorization to do.

2. That Picasa stops after downloading the images and allows me to choose to add metadata, or to just click Ok and have the images imported without further effort.

3. The Picasa actually make it easy to select related images at import time and quickly tag groups of them with relevant info.

All in all though, I’m still like with Picasa, I just wish its import functionality was more sensible so I don’t have to install some other package to download stuff from my camera.

More Personal Peer2Peer

Hamachi : Stay Connected

Hamachi allows you to establish secure direct connections to computers that are not accessible otherwise due to the restrictions in network setup.

I just stumbled across another P2P app that facilitates personal filesharing across the Internet without lots of firewall traversal hassles called Hamachi. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m interested in learning more.

I tried Grouper and dropped it because of it panders to the RIAA by streaming audio files at a low quality, rather than just treating them like any other file.

Then I tried Foldershare to make some files available between my home and work machines, and also to share various files with my brother in Utah. I like FolderShare’s simplicity, and that it works well for individual scenarios (like the way I used it to make a few files available at both home and work), and for group sharing and collaboration (like the way I’m sharing some files with my brother).

Groove supports similar functionality in their products. It will be interesting to see if Skype uses the P2P infastructure of Skype to enable other communications applications like this in addition to their IM and Voice features.

P2P Platform with support for decentralizing bittorrent

FromScripting News: 1/8/2005

Kenosis is a “fully-distributed peer-to-peer RPC system built on top of XML-RPC.” Their first app is a decentralized BitTorrent. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Very cool! It’ll be interesting to see how it works, but I like the idea, the architecture sounds good (to me, based on a quick read, and what do I know anyway), and I applaud their choice for the demo application.

Don’t take Bandwidth for granted.

Last week, I took Dave Winer to task for suggesting that RF spectrum didn’t matter in a world of things like iPodder helped people route around the traditional broadcast media. Such a view was, I thought, shortsighted, because without open spectrum and cheap transparent internet access, innovative new applications like iPodder are dead on arrival. Without it, the big companies who control DSL and Cable net access are likely to seek to restrict our choices, both for how we access the net, and what we do with it.

To highlight that fact, I want to call your attention to this appeal from the independent ISP I buy net access from.
The River Report: January 2005

Almost 30 million people connect to the Internet through an independent Internet Service Provider (ISP). An Independent ISP is any business (such as The River) outside the largest providers such as AOL, MSN, Cox and Qwest. We need you to take action to preserve your ability to choose how you connect to the Internet.

The time to act is now, whether or not you use an independent ISP, whether or not you have DSL or cable net access, this matters to you. The remaining baby bells are trying to garner FCC support for limiting choice in most markets in the US, this will decrease competition, which will almost certainly lead to increased prices and/or decreased quality of service. It’s also a step closer to giving to putting these big companies in a position to control what you can use the net for by blocking or otherwise degrading your ability to use third party communications tools and services, like instant messenger based video and audio conferencing, and cheap feature rich net telephony services like Skype and Vonage. And don’t even think about multi-player Halo2 without kicking in an extra $20 month for their “gamers package.”

Please, don’t wait. People in Qwest territory only have the remainder of the day to comment. People in other territories don’t have much longer. It will only take a few minutes.

For all the info and links you need to comment and help framing what you should say, please see the link above and a copy of the comment text I submitted below.
Continue reading