1TB free Flickr storage

Gigaom reports:

“We want to make Flickr awesome again,” Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said.

Flickr is getting three big updates. All users will get 1 terabyte of photo storage for free. The site’s s interface is also being redesigned to focus on full-resolution photos — both in photo browsing and in search — rather than words and links. Users will be able to share the full-resolution photos by email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr.

This sounds amazing!  Also:

Flickr Pro, which had allowed users to pay for more storage space, is going away. “There’s no such thing as Flickr Pro today because [with so many people taking photographs] there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore,” Mayer said (though she acknowledged that there are “different skill levels”). There are still a couple of paid options: Users can pay $49.99 a year for an ad-free interface, and can add a second terabyte of data for $499.99 per year. It’s unclear what will happen with existing Flickr Pro memberships that users have already paid for.

I’ve been a paying customer of Flickr for years.  It was worth every penny.  But, at the same time, it was difficult to convince my friends to use it as there were some severe limitations for free accounts.  It’s nice to see them gone now.

The only weird bit of the blog post is this:

And, in addition to the iOS app Flickr launched last December, Yahoo is launching an Android app.

Flickr already has an Android app.  So I’m assuming they will just revamp that as well.

Flickr update : liquid photo page layout

Flickr people once again outdid themselves.  An update to the design of the single photo page changes things to the better, much better.  Now you’ll the image filling almost entirely your screen, instead of a medium-sized thumbnail surrounded by all the navigational clutter.  Here is how it looks now.

And for those of you interested in the technical side of the story, there is a blog post explaining all the different challenges.  It might even be interesting for non-technical people to read, just to get an idea of how complex some seemingly simple things can be.

Instagram – compulsive photographer’s heaven

Instagram is a very well known service in the iPhone world.  But recently an Android application was released as  well, so I had to try it.  Instagram is basically like Flickr, but for the mobile.  With an Instagram app you take a picture and then apply one of a few predefined filters to make that picture look way better than it originally did.  Then you upload the picture to Instagram, where other people can see it, comment on it, favorite it, and do all the usual social networking stuff with it.

What makes Instagram awesome a combination of simplicity and and great resulting pictures.  I’m not much of a photographer myself, but I am somewhat familiar with image editing in Photoshop and Gimp.  And yet if I’d be asked to produce the same results using those powerful programs, I’d be at a loss.  It’ll take me days or even weeks to find all the options, plugins, and tweaking necessary.  With Instagram, it’s literally just a single click.  Of course, Photoshop and Gimp provide for a complete artistic freedom, where Instagram does not, but for mere mortals who just want to snap a quick shot and have it look good – Instagram gives plenty of choice.

The first few days that I tried the app, I didn’t think much of it.  But all of a sudden I realized that I’m using it a lot, both for taking pictures and for browsing them.  Interestingly, Flickr app for Android has very similar functionality – predefined filters that can be applied right after shooting.  The Filters themselves are very similar as well.  And yet I find myself using Instagram, even though I have a Flickr account for years now.

I think that’s because Instagram is simpler, faster, and still produces better images.   Flickr app has other things in it as well – recent activity, sets, etc.  Instagram is very straight-forward.  Instagram is also much faster than Flickr.  It takes me about half a second to get to the camera with Instagram, and almost three seconds with Flickr.  Also, when the images are uploaded, Instagram enforces a smaller size, while Flickr gives user a choice between small, medium, and large.  For me, it’s difficult to say “smaller” when a larger option is available (compensating for something?).  So I keep choosing “large” and then swearing while waiting for the upload to finish on a slow 3G network.

So, for now, I decided that I’ll be using Instagram a lot with my mobile.  Once in a while, I’ll upload all images to my Instagram set on Flickr, since I’m using Flickr as my main storage and backup.  But as for Flickr mobile app – it needs to get faster and better before I will switch from Instagram.  (Unless, of course, Facebook, which recently acquired Instagram, will screw up the services.)

I’ve also added a widget to the sidebar of this blog, that will cycle through the last 20 or so Instagram pictures of mine.  Enjoy!

Flickr update

For a while now I’ve been on the fence in regards to the Flickr vs Google Picasa battle.  With both services constantly changing and improving, it’s difficult to make a decision and stick to it.  But I think finally I’ve decided.  Flickr it is.  They’ve caught up with the features that I wanted so much for so long, and just in the last month released two of my “most wanted” – a much improved uploading tool, and quick and easy image editor.

Both of those additions pushed me to finalize the upload of all my pictures to Flickr.  So now, all I had from my digital camera, is there.  And I’ve enjoyed making the pictures better, more attractive with the editor – all it takes is just a few clicks to convert an average picture of which I have thousands into an eye candy.

Flickr has also recently released and improved its Android app, which once again makes me think about my mobile pictures.  I will probably start pushing them into my Flickr stream as well.

And as far as Google Picasa is concerned, I think they’ve spoiled it quite a bit with such a tight integration with Google+.  And their URLs are still ugly, making it pretty much impossible to migrate links from the blog via automatic redirection. Bad Google, bad.  And while I’m sure they will improve, I don’t think I will change over any time soon – the decision process tired me down.

Postr – Gnome Flickr Uploader

Once again Flickr Web Uploader failed me. I had a bunch of photos to upload and it kept getting stuck on the first one, not uploading even that one. So, once again, I started looking around for a simple tool that would allow me to just upload a huge bunch of pictures to Flickr. No bells, no whistles – just batch upload that I wouldn’t need to babysit (my upload speed limit is rather low).

I’m glad to report that I found my dream tool – postr. Postr is a Flickr uploader for Gnome desktop. It is designed to be very simple and straight forward. And, apparently, that’s just what I need. The only minor bit of functionality that I am missing is uploading pictures to a new set. It lets me choose the existing one or none at all. But not to create a new one. Not a major issue either way. I can either create a new set before uploading images, or I can as easily drop all uploads into a new set once they are up on Flickr. Either way works for me.

I’m so glad that there are still people who make simple software for simple people. Hooray for them!

Flickr vs Google Picasa : The Battle Continues

As some of you know, I’ve almost abandoned my Flickr account. I haven’t uploaded any photos there in the last couple of years. And I’ve also voiced my increasing preference of Google Picasa on several occasions. I’ve even started re-uploading all my pictures to Picasa and tagging people in it. Which is how you probably know about it, since that stirred a massive wave of notification emails.

Anyways. There has been a sudden and unexpected development in this area, which I want to share. Google replaced Picasa link (‘Photos’) in its navigation bar with Google+ Photos. And while Google+ Photos is an improvement over Picasa in some areas, it is an inferior product at this stage. And that was done when I was almost done with my Flickr-to-Picasa migration. I felt it was a blow below the belt. And that gave me yet another opportunity to reconsider my reasoning for the move.

These, to the best of my memory, were my reasons to move from Flickr to Google Picasa.

  • Uploader. This was one of the main reasons. Back a couple of years ago, Flickr web interface only allowed me to upload 5 or 6 pictures at once. If I had to upload much more, the only option was to install a browser addon or a desktop client. Which I tried too, of course. But all of them sucked in general. And required constant permission fiddling. Google Picasa had an excellent web uploader. All I had to do was drag and drop a bunch of pictures into my browser.
  • Mobile integration. Google Picasa had a client for my Android smartphone since the day I needed it. Flickr was a different story. A different story with Yahoo authentication on top of it.
  • Price. Flickr’s Pro account is $25/year. Google Picasa uses my extended Google disk space, for which I pay $5 / 20 GB / year. But those are magic Google gigabytes. Somehow I can fit 40 gigabytes of laptop’s disk space into about 11 Google gigabytes.
  • Image editor. Google Picasa had a built in editor which I could use to do minor editing like rotation and cropping. FLickr didn’t have anything.

Of course, these weren’t all my reasons, but they were the most significant ones I think. So, did any of that changed during my inactivity on Flickr and during my Google Picasa migration process? Yes. Let’s have a closer look.

  • Uploader. Flickr now features an excellent batch uploader. I tried it and it works very well.
  • Mobile integration. Flickr recently released Android app, which works pretty good. It’s not as useful as the Picasa one yet. But it covers the basic needed functionality and I’m sure it will improve in the nearest future.
  • Price. That is always something to consider. In relative terms, Flickr seems to be 4 times more expensive than Google Picasa. But in absolute terms, $25/year is really nothing. $2 or so per month won’t make much difference to me. That was a stupid argument on my part.
  • Image editor. Flickr now has one too.

So why would I want to move to Google Picasa now? There is really doesn’t seem to be any good reason right now. On top of that, Google Picasa is being phased out and replaced by Google+ Photos in which I don’t have any confidence yet.

Therefore, my thinking now is that I shouldn’t really move. Not at this stage at least. I will upload pictures from my camera to Flickr. I will take a bit more time to figure out what I want to do with my mobile pictures – either keep them in Picasa, or upload them to Flickr, or just use them in my blog only. But other than that, I think, I made up my mind about the move now.

What do you think? What is the best photo hosting/sharing option?

Flickr celebrates 200 million Creative Commons images

Flickr blog post yesterday celebrated 200,000,000 images published under Creative Commons license.  According to the same blog post, this makes Flickr the largest Creative Commons image repository in the world.  This is indeed a huge and important milestone and I congratulate Flickr and everyone involved in achieving it.  I’ve always said that there are many photo sharing websites that serve different audiences, tastes, and preferences.  But Flickr goes beyond that by providing an excellent Creative Commons platform.  I hope that this will grow and flourish.