Tag Archives: Internet

Happy Birthday From Google

Happy birthday to me from Google. This was the Google Doodle on my Google Chrome homepage on my birthday. Thank you, Google. (I think...)

Happy birthday to me from Google. This was the Google Doodle on my Google Chrome homepage on my birthday. Thank you, Google. (I think…)

The Google Doodle changes every day.  Yesterday, when I opened my Google Chrome home page I saw that the Google Doodle was composed of birthday cakes. I thought “Well, isn’t that a coincidence, today’s my birthday.”  Well, there are no coincidences with Google. When my mouse passed over the Doodle, I got a birthday greeting.

Of course, Google knows my birthday. And pretty much everything else about me. Yikes!  I can’t complain, because I’ve willingly given Google my information so that I can use its services.  I haven’t told Google my cell phone number, yet. I’m sure Google knows that, too, though.

I checked my husband’s Google home page yesterday, and his Google Doodle was different from mine, the one for the ordinary non-birthday people.

Usually, I don’t pay that much attention to the Doodle except when there’s a fuss over the Doodle subject. Google sometimes features obscure and controversial figures rather than major events and holidays. I guess that’s a way to keep things interesting. It got my attention!

Next year, when I’m expecting a birthday greeting from Google, Google may ignore me!

To learn more about Google Doodles, check out this blog post from my friend Planetjan.

About Google Doodles from Planetjan.

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Filed under Commerce, Communication, Humor, Internet, Life, Technology

Picasa, Farewell

Google is replacing the multi-talented desktop based Picasa (left) with the minimalist cloud-based Google Photos (right.)

Google is replacing the multi-talented desktop-based Picasa (left) with the minimalist cloud-based Google Photos (right.)

Changes in technology come with breakneck speed. Some we embrace, some we don’t. At least when WordPress streamlined its format, it allowed us the opportunity to use the more beefy original administrator. (Thank you, WordPress.)

One change I’m dreading is the loss of the Picasa photo editing website.  Google is retiring it in spring 2016.  Google has every right to do so, especially since Picasa users pay nothing for its use, but it’s still a bitter blow.  A lot of Picasa users don’t even know it’s going bye-bye yet, although apparently people knew it was coming a while ago. Google is focusing on Google Photos, which is quite different from Picasa and not as useful for my needs. Supposedly, we’ll still be able to use Picasa, if we already have it installed on our desktops, until it dies out from bugs and glitches. We’ll see.

Google Photos is a nice photo storage system, but not a good replacement as an editing and design tool.  In Google Photos, you can upload all of your photos to the cloud for free in a small version, which is probably large enough for most uses, and pay if you need to upload large files when you exceed your large-size quota. I’m transferring all of my large-sized photos to external hard drives.

My son gave me the heads up on Friday night on Picasa’s impending demise, and I was shocked. I was working on my taxes, so I was already in a foul mood, and I quickly went into mourning.  I taped a black ribbon to my monitor. I searched the web (using the damnable Google) to find an alternative.  I use Photoshop a lot, but Picasa is just so darned easy and could do so much. It has lots of design and editing tools and is great for  organizing my photos into files and albums. It will still be usable on your desktop, if you already have it, but won’t be getting any support from Google.

I used Picasa to edit this photograph that I took of Harvest, a cat available for adoption at Wayside Waifs in Kansas City, Missouri. Using Picasa, I could easy crop this photo to the pixel size and aspect required for uploading to the website. Also using Picasa, I could add my initials so that the shelter administrators would know who took the photo if they needed a larger size. Auto contrast, auto color, straightening and sharpening were Picasa tools I often used.

I used Picasa to edit this photograph that I took of Harvest, a cat that was available for adoption at Wayside Waifs in Kansas City, Missouri. Using Picasa, I could easy crop this photo to the pixel size and aspect required for uploading to the website. Also using Picasa, I could add my initials so that the shelter administrators would know who took the photo if they needed a larger size. Auto contrast, auto color, straightening and sharpening were Picasa tools I often used.

For more than five years, I’ve been using Picasa to edit the photographs I take of adoptable cats for an animal shelter’s website in Kansas City, Missouri. It makes it so easy to tag the photo with the cat’s name, attach a watermark and be able to find the photos later.  As far as I can tell, you can’t tag photos in Google Photos. Face recognition will not work with cats.  Because of the ease of use and because it was free, Picasa has been a godsend for other volunteer cat photographers who aren’t photo editors. Now, we’re scrambling to find an alternative.

Here’s a Hibiscus poster (below) that I created using Picasa. I used the posterize function to transform my hibiscus photograph, I used the add a border function to add the initial two-toned border, created a wider border with the collage tool, then added another two-tone border. I added the text of Hibiscus waimeae above the flower and added a band of an hibiscus font that I uploaded, which automatically transferred into Picasa when I downloaded it. Picasa allowed color matching so that I could match the greens and reds of the hibiscus photo to the font and background colors. Though there were many steps, it was easy. I don’t relish learning a new program to do these functions.

If you know of an easy, inexpensive alternative for downloading, editing and organizing photos, let me know in the comments.  I’m checking into FastStone.org.  Anyone have any experience with that program?

Hibiscus Waimeae Square Canvas Print

R.I.P Picasa: Google shutters aging photo service

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Scientists Discover Google

Facebook and Google “know” too much about me already, yet I can’t let go. I promise to post my writing soon. It’s in the works. But Shouts from the Abyss always has something intriguing to say, so I’m happy to share. Google, are you listening?

Shouts from the Abyss

In the spirit of Don’t Be Evil, I’ve got something to say.

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Spammy Christmas

I'm not sending Christmas cards this year. I'm sending spam! Isn't that better than a one-size-fits-all Christmas letter or a family photo in which we all wear matching sweaters including the cats and dog! I awoke this morning to find three pages of returned mail in my inbox of people whose mail programs rejected the spam hijacked in my name for Viagra sales. Plenty more people got the email.

One of the first things I do each day is check my email, cheerfully hoping for a few personal emails in my inbox. I got some personal emails, all right, from people telling me that I’d been the victim of a spammer who had hijacked my address book to contact EVERYONE on it with a link to Viagra sales.

I checked the returned mail, and the faux address on each link was different. Many sounded harmless, such as “How to remove pet stains,” which is exactly the sort of link I would send. Others were a bit racier, including the word jerk or similar, and these weren’t recipes for jerk chicken. No matter what the link said, apparently they were all for Viagra sales.

On the bright side, I heard from people I hadn’t heard from in years, which was delightful. I emailed as many people as I could to warn them not to open the link. I realized that there were many people in my address book I didn’t even realize were there, such as people who were on other people’s mailing lists who emailed me. There were city councilmen, customer service addresses, people I freelanced for (now I look super duper professional sending out that spam crap, eh?)

Anyway, I hope I didn’t do any damage. I’m grateful for everyone’s understanding, and I’m even fortunate to have touched base with some old friends! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year.

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Constantin Films Claims Copyright Violations on Hitler Film “Downfall”

Enjoy these parodies while you can.  There are more than 145 of them.  Take the poll.

Constantin Films claims copyright violations on Hitler film “Downfall.”

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Farmville on Facebook

farmville

A cousin's virtual farm.

I signed up for Facebook a few years ago to see what my children were doing at college.  Yes, that sounds like spying…. Instant Messenger, MySpace, Facebook.  They signed up, I signed up.  (They weren’t sneaky enough to keep it a secret.) As soon as they moved on — it took me a while to catch on — I trailed after. (The latest is LinkedIn.) I wanted to reassure myself that my children were still alive, since they weren’t big on calling home or answering their cell phones, which never seemed to be charged — or so they said.   When my daughter was very sick with mononucleosis, I saw it first on her status update. She had dragged herself to her computer, typed in that she had never been more sick in her life, and then collapsed.

Both children are graduated now, and although my anxiety is no less, I have found that I’ve been sucked into some of these sites without giving much thought to my children’s online activities. (They seldom post anyway…)  A recent Time Magazine article reported that Facebook  isn’t even for young people anymore, even though it was started for college students.  Too many parents have invaded it.  Middle-agers are the ones who seem to use Facebook the most.  I’ve re-connected with far-flung relatives and friends.

A friend, also on Facebook, recently urged me to sign up for the Farmville game on Facebook. I’d never seen much from her on Facebook, but she is very active on Farmville.  She claimed it was addictive.  I signed up as a favor, since you need neighbors on Farmville.  But you can’t sign up and forget it.  Immediately, my strawberry crop withered because I forgot all about harvesting it.  Farmville is a very interactive game, because you help out your neighbors, rescue their crops, give them livestock and other gifts, etc., a very idealized version of the real world.  You can’t rise in the Farmville world without helping out your neighbors or getting help from them.

It’s only been a week since I’ve joined, so I don’t know how long I’ll last. I’m not a video or computer game player. I’ve accepted other invitations for other Facebook games and never played them.  I waste too much time already in the “real” world.  However, I already feel responsible to my neighbors in this virtual world.  I was amazed to see how many Facebook friends were playing this game. You can publish your results on Facebook, but most don’t, so it’s not until you join that you see the “closet” players.   It’s fun to see what different “neighbors” have chosen to plant or raise. Masses of daffodils, vast herds of cows, avocado trees, acres of corn….An Aussie Facebook friend playing Farmville has a lot of leisure equipment, a pool, many topiaries and a lovely banana grove on her farm, which looks more like a resort. Those Aussies know how to live!

P.S. on Nov. 8, 2009.  On Farmville, a popup informed me that I needed to buy more coins.  I said ok, but it asked for real money!  I could pay with a credit, paypal, whatever.  Pay real money, no way!  I feel I’ve logged enough hours that I should get paid! 

Here’s the Time Magazine article.  Oh Crap. My Parents Joined Facebook.

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I’m Addicted to Digital

My Newest Addiction!

My newest addiction! My photographs are the tabby cat in the second row and the Texas waffle in the third row. After all of the "arty" photographs I've taken and submitted, I never dreamed that my two most popular photographs, featured on the RedBubble home page, would be my cat and a waffle I made for my breakfast.

Last month, I stumbled across a photographer’s blog that mentioned the RedBubble art and photography website, so I checked it out — then I signed up.  Now, I can’t stay away from it.  The amount of incredible excellent art and photography on cyberspace is mind-boggling — and from teenagers, even.  

If only we’d had digital photography and computers when I was a kid.  (We did have electric typewriters with correction tape.  And boy did I need the tape! ) All of my hard-earned darkroom skills are now archaic.  Using film, an enlarger and developing chemicals these days is like listening to your music on vinyl disks.  You have to be hard-core to do it.  I love the instant gratification as well as the ability to edit in so many ways in digital photography!  We “edited”  in the film darkroom, too, but it was limited.  And I only did black and white.   (I won’t even go into cameras.  More on that later.)

I dsicovered that birds are an extremely popular photography subject.  You need a twist.  Here, a cardinal holds on for dear life as he's buffeting in a snow storm on a pear tree branch. encrusted with ice The blossoms are covered with snow.

Birds are an extremely popular photography subject. You need a twist to stand out from the flock. I took this photograph of a cardinal holding on for dear life as he's buffeted in an early spring snow storm on a pear tree branch outside my kitchen window. You can't see the detail here, but the blossoms are covered with snow and the branches encrusted with ice. The poor cardinal, as brave as he is, is probably too common.

I started with Flickr, but I love RedBubble’s Aussie cheekiness.   Etsy is fun, too. (I discovered Kenna Foster on Etsy. She’s also on Flickr.  She’s on my blogroll. Check her out!)  I don’t know how many photography and art sites are online, but there must be tens of thousands of photographers and artists looking at and commenting on one another’s work, everyone from professionals to the people posting their first work.  It’s inspiring, overwhelming and humbling at the same time.

This photograph of Paddington with his mis-matched eyes has been very popular.  Paddington is tired of me pursuing him with a camera and is going to take out a restraining order against me.

My photograph of Paddington with his mis-matched eyes has been very popular with other cat owners and lovers. Paddington is tired of me pursuing him with a camera and is going to take out a restraining order against me.

On RedBubble or Etsy, there’s a chance that someone will see one of your great photographs or artworks and decide that they can’t live without it. On Etsy, the artists themselves produce and deliver the work.  

If you order through RedBubble, RB produces and ships the art as a card, print, canvas, calendar or poster.  I suspect that much of the art sold on RB is to the artists and photographers themselves.  I bought my own photograph (below) of the View from the Sydney Tower on canvas.  Those RedBubble people know what they’re doing!

Anyone who signs up for RedBubble (It’s free) can also get a free photography website, which is very cool.  You can organize your photos into galleries.  It was incredibly simple.  You can join a huge number of specialty groups on RB, such as landscapes, sunsets and sunrises, wildlife, doors and windows, old theaters, rivers, pets, food, skies  — in fact not even the sky is the limit.   Each group has sub-sets, too.  There are groups with minimal standards, and there are groups by invitation only, and everything in between.

I like to photograph oddball things, such as this van parked at Bondi Beach in Sydney.  I think the driver is trying to contact the mother ship.

I like to photograph oddball things, such as this van parked at Bondi Beach in Sydney. I think the driver is trying to contact the mother ship.

Featured photographs and art usually are exceptional, awe-inspiring, off-beat, fresh or eye-popping or else tug at your heart-strings (or else the person who selected it just took the next artwork that came along…..)

I know many of you out there are photographers.  What is your favorite photography website?  What are your favorite subjects. What do you do with all of your photographs? Do you print many?  Why do you take photographs?  I wanna know!  If you want to see a RedBubble website, here’s mine.  I’m still working on it.  My favorite gallery is “Fun Stuff”.  Catherine Sherman Photography.

RedBubble.      Flickr.   Etsy.  Beholden to Nature – Kenna Foster Photography.

Thanks to my daughter for saving the RedBubble screen shot for me.

I thought this view from the Sydney Tower was spectacular, but the number of spectacular photographs in cyberspace seems to be infinite!

I thought my photograph of this view from the Sydney Tower was spectacular, but the number of spectacular photographs in cyberspace seems to be infinite!

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