There have been several recent (and not so recent) improvements in Picasa web service that Google owns, making it serious challenger to Flickr, which I have long used. (See a list from here.) There is also a cost issue: the Pro account of Flickr is $25 per year (unlimited uploads, unlimited storage), but you can get 20 GB of disk space from Google/Picasa with $5 per year. Rather than cost, it is really the privacy controls that start to concern me more and more as the kids grow up. Picasa web albums makes it a bit easier to share private photo albums (you just enter email addresses and send the invitation link). This, and other reasons have led me to consider migrating my photo galleries from Flickr to Picasa. As I have several deep integrations set up (particularly all photos in this blog actually reside in Flickr), it is questionable whether this transition really makes sense. On the other hand, I hate being tied to any single service, without ability to change service provider when needed. Flickr has not been particularly dynamic in coming up with new functionalities recently. Yet, integration with my mobile camera phones and mail systems is something that works well with Flickr, and I am not sure how such things would appear under Picasa/Google. But we will see. I am using the holiday period to do some tests, experimenting first with the free Migratr tool to backup and transfer all my Flickr photos into the Picasa account. It appears a bit buggy/easy to crash, but lets hope for the best. It is interesting to see how the transfer works out, and having backups in several places is a good idea in any case.
Monthly Archives: December 2009
I just saw Avatar (dir. & written by James Cameron), in 3D, and I must say I am impressed. Not necessarily deeply moved like some other great films I have seen, but impressed as in made to think about cinema and the role it will have for us in the future.
Many people who have written about Avatar have started by dropping a long list of other movies it has borrowed from; my take would be Avatar is “Aliens meets Dances with Wolves meets Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” style of movie. But there is enough originality in this particular blend that the intertextual or -medial reference listings do not make justice to its real essence.
Looking at the film through the thick and rather dark 3D goggles, I felt the basic scenario built around the avatar technology of the movie was sort of metaphor for my own situation Continue reading
Everyone seems to be talking about Cameron’s Avatar these days, but I am actually waiting even more this film to get over here: Continue reading
Another new piece of software that I have been testing lately has been the new free Beta version of Lightroom 3:
For the development of this latest release, we’ve focused on what we believe are the fundamental priorities of our customers: performance and image quality. Lightroom has been rebuilt from its core to provide a performance architecture that meets the needs of photographers today and into the future. The raw processing engine has also received an overhaul in order to ensure that you’re maximizing the potential in your images in terms of sharpening and noise reduction. And, a number of other new areas have also had new features added and enhanced. Like any beta, Lightroom 3 beta is unfinished, which means some of the features we have planned are not in this release, and some of the features in the beta are not yet complete.
I am not sure which parts of the new Lightroom are still not complete, and which are related to the supposed performance and image quality improvements, but according to my experience this Beta version is really slow! Every time you navigate from image to image, it takes several seconds to get a sharp preview. I think at this point the lack of performance really makes this tool pretty useless. The built in previews of Windows 7, and the Windows Live Photo Gallery are fast, and then you can open the shot into Photoshop if you need to get into serious editing. Maybe I am missing something, but what is the real benefit of paying for software like Lightroom?
This is a system you are most probably already using, if you are akin to test driving various operating systems and software combos: VMware Player is a free virtualization software tool that can be easily applied to set up different, “virtual PCs” inside a single OS installation. Very useful, if you do not want to mess up your primary system each time a new interesting tool or OS comes available. I followed these instructions to set up Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala to run as a virtual machine inside my Windows 7 workstation. Seems to run just fine.
We are adopting a more active role in our utilization of social media networking tools in order to distribute information and awareness of what is going at the Game Research Lab at the University of Tampere. You can now both follow us in Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/UTAgamelab) and in Twitter (https://twitter.com/UTAgamelab). See you around!