Hurrah! Smug Mug have bought Flickr. Which, I think, is great news. It’s time to get out the bunting and celebrate. I’m pretty invested in Flickr. I’ve been paying my annual Pro subscription since August 2006, but I originally signed up some time before that. I get unlimited storage for my $25 a year, which I am trying hard to fill up. I’m beginning to think I’ll never succeed, but so far the 17,008 photos that I’ve added have consumed 67.74 gb of disc space. Needless to say, changing to another photo host would be a bother.
Come August, I will have had my Flickr Pro account for 10 years. I originally signed up sometime in 2005, but it took a while before I was convinced to part with my hard earned cash for a paid account. A decade, 15,000 photos and over 1 million views later, I consider that to have been a great decision. Money well spent. Flickr has had its ups and downs, but it remains, in my opinion, the best photo sharing/storeage site on the web. Continue reading
Got a smartphone? Haven’t we all. Got a weather app? I’m sure you have. Have you got the best weather app? If you have Yahoo’s weather app, then the answer is yes. Or so I will have you believe. If not, you can get it for Apple or Android. The things I like about Yahoo’s weather app is the photography they use as the backdrop. All sourced from Flickr. You have to join the Yahoo Weather app group and submit some photos to get noticed. I did that about a year ago, and a couple of them were chosen.
But over the last few weeks, I’ve had dozens of photos of mine from Mexico added to their pool. Almost all are mountain or archaeological shots I’ve taken from across central and southern Mexico. So if you do have the app and are travelling to sites of interest in Mexico, have a look out for where the photo came from. There’s every chance it came from yours truly.
I posted a small article on the Yahoo Weather Project a few days ago. An update – two of my photos have been accepted. If you should be in Xochicalco or Arundel Castle on a clear sunny day, and open up your Yahoo Weather app, you might well find yourself looking at one of my photos. Exposure is always good. Providing it’s decent.
The process was straightforward. I added photos for consideration, then they were added to pool upon approval, and tagged with ‘clear’ and ‘day’. Looking through the pool it is clear than they like photos with a lot of sky. And I suspect that adding photos from slightly obscure locations will have a greater success rate.
The Yahoo Weather project has me thinking about my photography a little more. I’m going to be shooting with ‘weather’ more in mind. Not just with a view to capturing the cliched clear sunny day. I am sure this project will help improve/develop/direct my photography over the coming months.
Yahoo’s latest weather app is a thing of true beauty. It looks to have taken a leaf (autumnal or spring, I cannot say) from the Windows Phone 8 book on aesthetics. Incidentally, I think Yahoo and Microsoft are a match made in heaven. The latter are looking for a new CEO. The former have one of the best. There probably won’t be a better time for a merger. Yahoo sources it’s photos from Flickr. Naturally. To do anything else would be ridiculous. I did wonder, though, exactly how they went about procuring these photos for their weather app.
So I Googled it. Because Yahoo search is rubbish. And I found my answer. Would you like to join in the Yahoo Weather Project and have your photos featured on the app? No problem. Go to their Weather Project Group on Flickr, join, upload some photos and hey presto. Just make sure the photos can be related to weather, that they are geo-tagged and that there are no people in the photos.
If you get any photos approved, then you’re prized snaps may soon be on a mobile device near you. I’m having one small problem though. I’m clicking on the Join Group button and nothing is happening. I’ve tried multiple browsers, and tried on my phone. No joy. Still, I’ll keep trying. In the meantime, I’ve prepared a whole bunch of images to add to the group. Mostly local to myself.
For three reasons. Firstly, less competition for space on Yahoo than if I started uploading loads of London photos. Secondly, I’m more likely to see them appear on my phone as I tend to check local weather more regularly. Thirdly, because it’s a social project, so why not try and ‘fill in the gaps’ rather than saturate an already over saturated part of the world already. What do you think? Do these tell you about the weather?
I don’t normally publish two posts in a day. But…wow. Flickr just completely reinvented itself. I do mean completely. So many changes that it’s all a bit much to take in. I guess the first thing most people will want to know is that everyone now gets a free terabyte of space. That’s huge. In full resolution. No shrinking your images. For free. Ok, for free, plus the ads they’ll run.
I’m a Pro user, so what does that mean for me? Unlimited space. Although, to be quite honest, I am decades away from the point where a terabyte will be insufficient for my purposes. But I get my Flickr account ad free, as well as unlimited. And stats. Free users don’t get stats. Want to go Pro like me? You can’t. No more new Pro accounts will be allowed. And I could, if I wanted, step back to the free account and get a pro rata refund. But I’ll keep my Pro status thanks, and I’m pleased to see I will be allowed to keep renewing. Good move, Yahoo.
The next things I noticed? Wall to wall photos with a customization banner up top. Do I like it? Hmmm. I’m not sure. I guess I like the banner, once I’ve created something a bit funkier. You can choose one from your photos, but it’ll only let you select a recent photo. Perhaps offering us the chance to dig deeper into our collections would have been nicer. I’d like a little bit more space between each image as well. Is it just a bit too busy? I do hope I can get rid of the text on that banner though. I don’t feel I need my name, joining date and how many photos I’ve taken displayed quite so prominently.
There’s infinite scrolling on the Photostream page. But not on the Sets page, which is disappointing. It’s quick and easy to see full screen images and slideshows. That’s a positive step. The background is black. Most people prefer that. I am the odd one out. I prefer white, or grey backgrounds. Can I change it? Are there any new features I’ve missed? I always wanted the option of a custom domain. You know that new photoblog site that I just launched? That could lose it’s garydenness.com domain real quick…
There’s plenty of news on this on the blogosphere. Flickr’s own blog (currently hosted on WordPress, but you’d imagine coming to a Tumblr blog near you soon…) has the full scoop. Flickrite Thomas Hawk offers his early impressions. Mashable chip in with the story too. I’m told that once I’ve finished typing this and go to my cell phone, I’m going to find a super duper all new Android App for Flickr waiting for me to play with.
There’s one more button that’s quite prominent. It’s ‘Edit’, up on the banner. Click it and you get the layout above. But if you click on Photostream, it goes back to the normal layout. What’s the deal with that? I don’t know. But I guess I’m going to have plenty of fun trying out all this new stuff. And checking that the good old stuff still works. I checked the Organizer straight away – it’s the most powerful online photo management tool on the web. It’s still there and works just the same. So. Anyway. I’m off to check out this new Android app. The question is, for you non-Flickerites out there…..has a terabyte of free hi res apce tempted you?
Last Wednesday I got an email from Yahoo! telling me that Yahoo! Video is changing. It was pretty clear by the end of the first sentence that what they really meant was ‘Yahoo! Video is closing.’ It dies in March. Meh. Does anyone actually use it? No one that I know of. It was dead already.
Then I started coming across blog posts and other news articles. It’s not just video that’s going. Delicious, the bookmarking site that they purchased about 5 years back is apparently doomed too, although recent stories suggest it may be sold instead. MyBlogLog and others Yahoo! acquisitions are also for the chop. Most of these products have something in common. They were fantastic, innovative, class leading and popular sites – until Yahoo! bought them.
Really, it’s a tragic story. Yahoo! has some great internet properties, they have the audience and are the world’s number one web based email supplier. Yet they have utterly failed to turn these strong products into a complete, consistent, all-in-one internet site. Yahoo! should have looked to McDonalds for inspiration. Go to any McDonalds in the world and you know what you’re getting. The same should be true at Yahoo!
No matter which of their sites you’re at it should have the same feel, be unmistakeably Yahoo! and it should all integrate together. There’s an easy method to do the latter. And they do have a navbar. Well, that’s the problem, actually. They have several. Instead, Yahoo! is nothing more than a collection of undeveloped/underdeveloped, scattered web properties.
But this isn’t the important part of this post. There’s one Yahoo! product where nothing has been said by Yahoo. It seems it’s not a ‘core product’, nor is it in the list of products awaiting the executioner. And it’s their best site. I’m talking, of course, about Flickr. The world’s premier photo sharing site.
Sure, Facebook has more snap shots on its servers. If low quality blurry snaps of pet cats sitting on a sofa are your thing, the Facebook photos is great! It has to be said the social part of photography is definitely a Facebook strong point, albeit from a friends and family sharing point of view. SmugMug is a nice looking site too, but they don’t get community, or social, lack the third party additions that Flickr can boast and really haven’t the sort of collections that you’d boast about. SmugMug can be slow and messy too.
So why the Yahoo! silence on Flickr? I’ll have a wild stab in the dark. A sale is already being worked on. With whom? Google have the cash, but then they also have Picasa, their own photo sharing site. I’d hope it doesn’t go to Google. They have a habit of doing ‘ugly’. That leaves Microsoft. And buying Flickr would be a logical move on their part. And one that I’d actually like to see happen.
Microsoft has made massive improvements to its online offering over the last couple of years and is moving in all the right directions. They already have a decent suite of photo software products, and recently revamped their mail/docs/photo/profile/messenger suite. But I dare say their photo facility is underused. Badly underused. Plugging flickr into it would make perfect sense.
It would also make perfect sense for them to acquire Flickr on four other counts as well, besides the fact that Yahoo! and Microsoft have been teaming up lately. Firstly, there is Bing, their search engine. It’s going from strength to strength, and integrating Flickr’s library more tightly would give them another plus point and advantage. Secondly, there are Bing Maps, which could also utilize Flickr’s library. Thirdly, as 10% owners of Facebook, and with increasing integration between Microsoft Live products and the social network site, gluing Flickr into the mix would just add to the attraction of both products.
Lastly, there is Windows Phone 7. Sales haven’t been overwhelming apparently. And yet the new OS has received decent reviews, and is a very worthy alternative to Android and iOS. It needs a killer app or two. Enter Flickr. Oh, and of course there is Xbox, which is also a media hub and would love some real tight Flickr love!
So what would be in it for me? Yahoo! can’t be trusted in my opinion to take Flickr much further, development wise. The company’s CEO, Carol Bartz, seems to be a clueless buffoon who doesn’t really understand what she is supposed to be doing. I don’t mean to be sexist, but if ever there was a piece of evidence to support the argument that women should stay at home to cook and clean – she is it.
I’d rather a large financially secure company take over Flickr. Microsoft fit that bill. They are also investing big into ‘cool’. Flickr is cool. I’m so deeply invested in Flickr, that I really need the company to survive and grow. Not only do I have a huge collection of photos there, but my blogs are full of images hotlinked straight from my Flickr account. I have my fingers crossed for a happy outcome.
PS. Microsoft Security Essentials 2 has just been released. I’ve been using it since the original beta a year or two ago. It’s an impressive anti-virus/security suite. Low drain on resources, well designed, easy to use and extremely effective. And free – I highly recommend it.
I wrote a piece a couple of weeks ago with regards Flickr, and my wish list for the photo sharing site. Almost immediately, Galleries appeared. Not something I had on my wish list. Not something I think is terribly useful, but I dare say some will like it. Yesterday (or was it the day before), Flickr gave us another new addition. They rebranded the top of the Flickr page adding “from Yahoo” to the Flickr text. It’s not gone down well with a lot of Flickr users who don’t seem to like it. It’s at the top of the image below.
I don’t like it much either. It’s tacky. It’s page pollution even. But I don’t blame Yahoo for wanting to brand a site they own, one that is surely one of their crown jewels. But they could have done it an awful lot better. I’ve long felt that Yahoo needs to bring their disparate products under a unifying umbrella of some sort, and the simple way, it seems to me, would be to have a bar along the top of the page.
I’ve made a mock up below, using the graphic I created for the ‘wish list’ post, to demonstrate what I mean. A banner which displays Yahoo sites to allow users to access other parts of Yahoo’s online empire. Which parts? The E button on the right is for Edit. Let the user choose which sites are on the banner. Don’t force irrelevant or unwanted options on us. The S button, to allow us to Sign In. And the last button, the C? C is for Close. If a user doesn’t want the banner, let them turn it off. Easy as that. And then everyone is happy.