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How Google Helps Index & Organize Your Room  (View post)

J. McNair [PersonRank 10]

Wednesday, December 5, 2007
12 years ago4,471 views

Hmm...I'd put Google's contact management at 2 stars. There's no way to differentiate between an organization and a person. Some more default fields could be included (birthdays that interact with Google Calendar). Also, there's no real "self" contact that you can send to others easily. People seems to have "accepted" that social networks are the future of contact management, but I am largely unimpressed.

Mind, I'm not asking for Outlook. Microsoft Outlook is kind of a perfection of the paper address book. It is very useful for what it is but that's it.

I would like a way to define rich relationships between people and among entities. "Friend of" is not enough. How about "Parent of", "Coworker of", "Works for" and "Volunteers for"? I'd like a more refined contact manager that creates a social graph, and can manipulate and understand other social graphs (OpenSocial, I'm looking at you). More importantly, I don't want another Social Networking Platform. It should also be somewhat automagic in defining new relationships as new PUBLIC data changes. I mean, "works for" should obviously become "worked for" if someone changes jobs. I understand this could get unwieldy quickly, but that's why Google has tons of smart people, right?

I mean, can we please do something better than Outlook? Better than more social networks?

sreds [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Look at the Chumby for displaying pics from RSS feeds

David Mulder [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

You do miss out the standard examples in google mashup... it has a really bad music manager... which one can extend to an acceptable music manager in 30min.

Bud [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

You give Picasa 5 out of 5 stars? In the presence of Adobe Lightroom? Lightroom blows Picasa out of the water. Given the higher quality of this latter option, I would downgrade your rating for Google a bit.

Bud [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

[put at-character here]David M: Even if "one" can extend a really bad music manager into an acceptable one in 30 minutes, the point is that Google hasn't already done this extension for you. You have to do it yourself.

If it really takes only 30 minutes, certainly some Googler in their 20% time could do this? And yet no one has.

photoactive [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

What do you mean, David? What really bad music manager is there, and how can it be improved?

Future Converged [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Here is a competitive product released in 2030: A robot that does all of that for you. It takes care of the info coming in, records all the information, takes care of your semi-expired food, tells you what you need to do like a calendar, indexes everything you have and you receive and you produce. Would this be called Google Robot, or GRobot is yet to be seen.

David Mulder [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Well... take lisa.googlemashups.com/ for example... it was the first mashup in the google mashup creator I created... and one can extend it easily (check the source in the right upper corner.)

R Dunphy [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

There are PC games ..lots of them. What program could organize them?

dualsub2006 [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

[put at-character here]Bud

How can you try to compare Adobe Lightroom to Picasa? I own Lightroom and I use Picasa as well. While Picasa has a place in my world it is by no means even meant to compete with Lightroom. It would be right to compare it to Photoshop Album if they still make that, but your attempt to put it on the same level as Lightroom is stoopid.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

The blog post mentions RFID a few times, as a way for Google to know where items are.

I think it's much more likely that this will be done photographically. A ceiling-mounted cam, for example, could keep track of everything that visibly occurs in a room. It will be able to tell you "Your car keys are under that pile of papers on the chair" without needing RFID.

I give it ten years to reality.

Bud [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

[put at-character here] dualsub2006

You make my point for me. Thank you. Picasa is nowhere near the level of Lightroom. Picasa is more like Photoshop Album. I absolutely agree with you.

But that is my point! Google's purpose, its whole reason for existence, is to organize the world's information. Therefore, it should be coming up with the best, most useful set of tools to help us do that. The point of Philipps blogpost was to grade Google on how well they are doing in helping us organize various aspects of our lives.

And he gave Picasa a 5 of 5 for that organization ability. But given that Picasa is nooowhere near Lightroom in terms of its ability to store, manage, organize, search, etc. your images, I think Picasa's score should be downgraded to, say, 3 of 5. Because again, Picasa is more like Photoshop Albums (which is also a lesser quality, less capable organization tool).

So you completely misunderstood me. You think I was putting Picasa and Lightroom on the same level. Just the opposite. I was saying that because they are not on the same level, because Lightroom is just so much better, organizationally, than Picasa, in so many ways, Adobe is eating Google's lunch in terms of its ability to organize this particular aspect of your world's information!

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I agree Picasa is far from perfect; it has accessiblity problems, and was slow to roll out critical features, and even had security problems in the beginning. There is no official support for Creative Commons licensing, which is one of the most useful fesatures of Flickr (on that note, I sometimes wonder why Google didn't buy Flickr when it was still available... now it's Yahoo-owned...). I guess I awarded the stars not for the quality of the service, but more for the capability or lack of capability to do X (e.g. store a photo album, which Picasa is fully capable of I think).

Bud [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Ah, I see your point, Philipp. Yes, Picasa does meet that basic functionality.

But then again, if you're just talking about basic functionality, my operating system can store photo albums, too. It's simple, really:

(1) Create New Folder
(2) Rename Folder -> "Tahoe Ski Trip 2007"
(3) Select photos
(4) Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V into this new folder

Done! Photo album named and stored! The OS even has built-in thumbnailing, as I'm scrolling through the photos in that "album".

So clearly just having the functionality isn't enough. And that's where I think Google is clearly lagging behind, for example, Adobe.. in the very area Google is suppose to be excelling: Organizing information.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Bud, what would you like to see in Picasa Web Albums, feature-wise, by the way, before you'd consider it a good software?

Bud [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Oh, I didn't say it wasn't good software. I just didn't think it was better software than Lightroom. Especially for organization. Lightroom is extremely flexible when it comes to viewing your photos.. you have many different modes in which you can select and compare your shots, e.g. grid mode, loupe mode, compare mode. Picasa has grid mode, and a simplified (reduced funcationality) loupe mode. No compare mode that I am aware of. You might not think this is a big deal, but for keeping things organized, sorting through my collection, figuring out which shots I want to keep and discard, it is a big deal.

Lightroom has cool things like the ability to create keyword (label) taxonomies, so that you can create, structures like U.S.->Colorado->Denver and Europe->Germany->Karlsruhe. So when I then go in and tag an image with "Denver", the tags "Colorado" and "U.S." automatically get added to it. So when I search, later, for photos of Colorado, all the ones that I marked Denver will also appear, even though I never manually, explicitly used the Colorado tag.

These taxonomies can be anything. They are very "folksonomic" in character, i.e. you can do whatever you want. Google's tags, on the other hand, are just flat.

Lightroom also lets you create keyword (label) synonyms, so that if I have created the personal taxonomies for my collection of Europe->Sports->Football and U.S.->Sports->Soccer, I can set it up so that searches for soccer match european football, but not U.S.->Sports->Football.

And when I rearrange my label taxonomies, when I decide to refactor them, the changes automatically get applied to all my images.

And another thing Lightroom does really well, organizationally, is the non-destructive editing and the stacking. Have you ever been in the situation where you have a photo you really like, and you create like 9 copies of it? You create one copy for the web, at a smaller size and ppi. You create another copy for a large print, another for a small print. You create one version that is black and white, and another version with a bit of a sepia tone. You create another version where you've boosted the saturation and hyper-increased the sharpness.

As far as I understand Picasa, if you made all those different changes, you would have to save those N different copies as separate files. The sepia version, the web version, etc. And then they would all appear in Picasa, in grid mode, right? One picture after the other. All cluttering up your albums.

Well, Lightroom lets you stack those pictures, so that all the versions of that one picture appears as a single picture. Like a mini-collection inside your collection. That way, your interface doesn't get all cluttered up with N different versions of M different photos.

At the same time, if you've applied all those changes, made all those different versions of a photo, Lightroom doesn't actually make N different copies. It saves your changes as a set of instructions, any of which are completely reversible at any time. Thus, any edits you make are non-destructive. This totally helps my ability to stay organized, because before this capability, I would always wind up with lots of different versions of the same shot. And I would have to keep all the versions somehow organized. Again, Lightroom lets me stack them.

And besides, just look at the interface. Lightroom is just so much.. nicer.. than that Google aesthetic. And just as simple! Google uses those horrible Microsoft primarily colors on a large white background. It just makes me want to cringe sometimes! Ultimately, I understand that function rules over form, and I wouldn't criticize Picasa too much for adhering to its design aesthetic. Still, if it is something that I'm going to be using a lot, Lightroom's even more minimalist, subdued interface lets me concentrate much more on my photos.

I could go on and on, but my intention is not to bash. I don't think Picasa is bad. It's decent. It's just not 5 of 5 stars. And it's not something that I would want to use regularly to manage my photo collection.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Not sure if you are talking about Picasa or Picasa Web Albums by the way. My score was not for Picasa (desktop program), but Picasa Web Albums (online photo albums). And Lightroom if I understand it right is a desktop program.

Colin Colehour [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

[put at-character here]Philipp, Bud appears to be talking about Picasa. Lightroom is a desktop application that costs $299. I'm a little confused on how you can compare something that is free to something that costs $299 dollars and expect them to be an Apples to Apples comparison.

Bud [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Ah yes, I do see that your original blog post says "Picasa Web Albums" rather than "Picasa". My mistake; I apologize. But.. how are you going to import your photos into Picasa Web Albums? How, my dear PC user? From the information on the Google page to which you link, it appears that the only way you can do so is to use Picasa. So we're really talking about Picasa anyway. We're talking about any/all software Google offers to help you organize your photos. Because that's the ultimate goal, right? To organize your information. Doesn't matter if the tool is a web service, a desktop download, or whatever. The delivery mechanism of the software is of secondary concern to your primary goal: Organizing your photos.

And @Colin: You ask how I can compare a give-away piece of software with a piece of software that costs $199 (if you're buying it for $299, you don't know where to shop!)

The reason I can compare it is because I am starting with the assumption that Google is striving to be "best-in-class" for all the software it develops. They have all those PhDs, remember? Their motto is to organize information. They have a secondary motto about how it is best to do one thing, really well: search.

As a consumer who has used their web search, I have expected that same level of commitment from them towards search and organization that they display on the web. I have expected that they are going to strive to offer the best possible services/tools/software, because they are trying to be the best in the world at what they do. Searching and organizing photos is their home turf.

So when I see them offering something less than the best, it is disappointing. They could be doing so much more. And there are those of us willing to spend a little bit of money ($199) to get something that is really good. The fact that Google doesn't even offer something better for people even willing to pay for it is disappointing as well. So much potential, gone to waste.

Again, the reason I feel comfortable comparing Picasa and Lightroom is because the ultimate goal is to organize your photos. Let me make a few analogies: Suppose your goal was to find shelter, a place to live. You could spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars every month (depending on where in the country/world you lived) on an apartment or on your mortgage. Or, you could get a cardboard box for free, and live there. Yet I still think comparing the cardboard box to the condo is an apples2apples comparison, because your ultimate goal is finding shelter. (Suffice it to say that the condo is the better option, even if it is not free!)

Similarly, if you are like most people, you probably don't live right next to where you work. And if you're in America, public transit sucks. So let's say you live about 10 miles from where you work. You have two basic choices: (1) walk, (2) buy a used car for $8,000, pay insurance, gas, etc. and drive.

Well, how can you even compare walking with driving? Walking is free, right? So you would say there is no comparison. Well, there is a comparison. Walking is going to take you 3 hours, one way. It might not cost you any money, but it will certainly cost you other things, like time. And effort. Driving, though it costs thousands of dollars, is actually the much better option if your goal is to get to work every day.

(Let me note: I am actually even more in favor of public transit over driving. But again, it is lousy here in the U.S., so that is not an option for most people. And even where it is an option, it costs money. So it is still not "free".)

I hope by now you can see the comparison to Picasa and Lightroom. If I've got a couple of photos, say a few hundred, then Picasa works fine. But for that matter, storing the photos in separate folders on my hard drive also works fine. But if I have a thousand photos, or five thousand photos, then I need a real tool to get organized. My ultimate goal is the organization, just like my ultimate goals in other areas are traveling to work and having a place to live. I need a car to drive to work. I need a real house or condo to live in. Adobe offers me that car or house. Google does not.

Even if I wanted to pay Google, for something better, I couldn't. It's disappointing.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> But.. how are you going to import your
> photos into Picasa Web Albums?

I upload my stuff to Picasa Web Albums using their web upload form (which is available in two versions: a deluxe version which requires a plug-in but supports some drag and dropping, or a normal version which uses the usual "browse..." buttons). Perhaps Picasa the desktop program is easier and more automated, but that one works too. But yeah, I think Google should push Picasa the desktop program a little less when you go for Picasa Web Albums.

Bud [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Well, and the other thing I was saying is that since you were giving grades for how well Google organizes your room, you should have reviewed Picasa itself, rather than Picasa Web Albums, if Picasa is indeed the better of the two tools for the purpose of organizing your photos. Is PWA really better than Picasa? Or vice versa?

Either way, neither piece of software (whether delivered on the desktop or delivered on the web) is anywhere as good as Lightroom. And in the end, how good the software is at organizing your photos was the reason for your original blog post, to begin with.

BTW, Lightroom also has an easy method for creating and uploading web galleries. You have to provide your own hosting, but as long as you've got ftp access, you can easily create nice galleries from within Lightroom itself, complete with annotation, etc.

This thread is locked as it's old... but you can create a new thread in the forum. 

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