SmugMug

Apparently SmugMug recently purchased Flickr.  This is just one of those normal things that happen with tech companies, but since I use Flickr extensively for backing up all of my photos and videos, this concerns me probably much more than others who don’t use the service.  SmugMug support assures everyone (and has reassured me directly through several direct support e-mails) that Flickr isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future.  Both SmugMug and Flickr will remain intact, and the acquisition will only strengthen both platforms moving forward.  I guess this is much like when Google acquired Waze.  Google Navigation and Waze Navigation both remain intact, but they are improving by sharing information and data.

I tried going with SmugMug for awhile many years ago, but it wasn’t anywhere near what it is today.  So I started trying it out again this week, and I’m in the process of migrating all of my Flickr photos and videos at this time.  I found a nice site that automates this process, and it’s running right now.  Here’s some interesting number I don’t quite understand yet:  Flickr says I have 48,888 photos and videos on their site.  That’s TOTAL – both public and private, and 31.517 of those are public.  That sounds about right I guess, those totals have been increasing slowly over the years at a normal rate.  Every photo I take auto-uploads to Flickr as my backup (as well as to Google Photos), both of which are free (Flickr has a 1TB limit, Google Photos has unlimited storage as long as I have a Google Pixel phone).  The tool I’m using to migrate Flickr to SmugMug (PicBackMan) says I have a total of 94,511 photos and videos!  That’s nearly DOUBLE my grand total that Flickr says I have, so it’ll be interesting to see what SmugMug shows when it’s finally done migrating.  A couple initial things I’ve found with SmugMug that I really like is with GIFs and just the simple motion in every photo I take with my Google Pixel phone… Flickr never showed this and doesn’t support GIFs, but SmugMug recognizes both GIFs and the motion in all of my photos and displays it!  I might eventually switch to SmugMug, depending on how this trial goes.

If you’d like to check it out as my SmugMug site evolves, you’ll find it at https://jimsphotoworld.smugmug.com/.  My cover photo is even animated.  There might not be many photos there yet, as the first album it’s migrating is my “Auto-Uploads”, which is private.  But all the others are right behind it, so they’ll be coming in soon enough.

Sargeant Update (less important than a General Update…right, Captain Obvious?)

Well, Rickochet is out now, so we’ve been working on our basement a bit. I guess it’s what they call a “partially finished” basement… We have carpeting down, and have one room down there paneled, but that’s about it–the rest is your basic basement, but it’s clean and dry, so we’re fixing things up a bit. We have a carpeting install coming for the one room down there, and once that’s in, we’ll be setting that up as Sandy’s “She Shed” (that’s the equivalent of a lady’s “Man Cave”). The rest of the basement will be for recreation, laundry, etc. We also gained some much-needed garage space, so we have some room to work on getting THAT cleaned up. It’s been waiting, with everything still in boxes, since we moved 3 years ago!

Matt helped us out recently by trimming the branches on our backyard tree. I picked up a nice, lightweight electric chainsaw from Menards, along with a tall ladder, and he able to get to nearly all of the branches we wanted removed–especially those overhanging our roof and one in the front yard that had our flag wrapped around it! The flag (still attached to our flagpole) got pretty damaged, but I was able to remove the branch from it after Matt cut the branch from the tree. It’s a little shredded on the end, but it’s flying free again, in time for the upcoming holidays. Thanks, Matt!!

We sold our big Ford Edge and switched to a Ford Focus Titanium instead. It’s a bit smaller and isn’t 4-wheel-drive, but we were able to cut our payments to less than half–even with the Titanium model, which has ALL the goodies on it–so it helps us a lot. The only regret I can see us having might come in the winter–a bigger, stronger 4WD vehicle can be a blessing in certain situations. But we’re well aware of that ahead of time, so we’ll work around it as best as we can and tough through the Wisconsin winters with it. At least it has remote start and a rear-view camera, which the Edge didn’t have.

Sandy, Ty, Kevin and I went to see Jurassic World yesterday. Awesome movie, they really pulled it off with StarLord as the main character. Chris Pratt seems to be great in everything these days. And then there was Vincent D’Onofrio, who played Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket… He played a military guy (go figure) looking to use genetically-engineered animals on the battlefield. I half-expected Lee Ermey (his unforgettable drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket) to make a cameo appearance, like Stan Lee always does in the Marvel movies. It was great though–not even any really slow points in the movie either… Every time things started to slow down, BAM! They hit you with something else and off it went again. I think they were able to successfully pull off this one, using the same old island group “Isla Sorna”, etc., and they’ll probably do some record-breaking numbers. I just hope they can keep it up with the inevitable sequels. I have already heard that Chris Pratt is on board for more of them. We’ll see what happens.

I got a new phone last week – the Samsung Galaxy S6. 64GB of memory & a 8-core processor, but it’s sealed–no SD cards and no battery changes. So far it’s nice–amazing speed and features. The only downside is the battery time. I get about 10 hours out of it, before I need to recharge. I have to keep my brick pretty handy–but my brick is huge, so I can actually recharge my phone completely about 3 or 4 times from a single charge of my brick, so that’s not so bad. Having 64GB of internal memory–which is a first for me–eliminates a long-time problem I’ve had though: Juggling all of my apps, music and data files. Now that it’s all in one place, I don’t have to think about where things are or specially-configure specific apps (like DSub for my music) so they put their files in the proper locations. Everything just works. The camera is awesome too–supposedly the best smartphone camera out there today. 16 megapixel photos, animated GIFs, as well as many other modes, and it’ll even record 4K video. I already recorded a couple to test it out. I’ll have to watch them at Matt’s house, as he’s the only one I know with a 4K TV right now. And for those geeks who are even more curious–yes, after the usual 1-day of use, I again dumped the stock launcher and installed Nova Prime. No stock launcher ever comes close to the features and ease of use it provides!

Photomosaic of Socks

SocksPosterI created a 3-foot posted of Socks for the wall above my desk using 10,000+ photos I had on my PC as the palette.  I created it with Andrea Modaic Professional, then loaded the final image into CorelDraw and printed it as a 3-foot poster on tiled sheets of standard 8.5″ x 11″ paper.  The hardest part was using scissors to trim the proper edges, and align and tape them, but it was fun.  If you’d like to see the actual poster, up close, here’s the actual image, full size.   I gave it the option to NOT re-use any images (but some are burst shots, to they LOOK very similar) and gave it permission to horizontally flip images, but not to rotate them.  And if you’re interested in the rest of the geeky details, here they are:  Socks Mosaic Details

 

New photo albums added

Ok, getting caught up over my 5-day weekend!  Here’s some new photo albums–including THIS Thanksgiving!

Civil War Museum – Sandy’s photos from her recent visit with a client.

Halloween 2014

Haylie’s 5th Birthday

Snow Sculpting Championships 2014 – from nearly a year ago–this year’s is coming up at the end of January!  I’ll be there.

Thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving 2014

That should about catch me up.  Keep in mind a few of those are pretty raw.  Since I dumped everything, very quickly, I didn’t pick and choose the best photos.  Yet.  I’ll get to it, I just need more time.  So for now, a few of those albums contain hundreds of photos.  Consider this a “behind the scenes” preview.  Many of those will disappear soon as I curate them.  Enjoy!

Moved to Google Photos

I have recently moved all of my 29,000+ public photos from Flickr to Google Photos.  Google has been making a lot of progress with their photo services recently, including integrating Picasa into Google Photos.  With everything they now offer, and how easy everything just is to use, compared to Flickr and the difficulties I have had trying to stick with them, I decided to move everything.

I made the final decision a couple weeks ago, when I found this site: http://www.flickrtoplus.com/.  It allows you to simply login to Flickr, then to G+, and it lists your albums and you just choose the ones you want to migrate from Flickr to Plus.  It couldn’t have been easier.  I tried a few albums at first, wondering how they can afford to devote all the processing required to to this for everyone for absolutely nothing–no ads on the site, nothing, it simply works.  After a few albums came through just fine, I did a dozen more, then queued up dozens more after that, then the hundreds more after that.  Within a week everything was done!

It uses your “Google Drive” space for storage and allows you to keep your photos at their original size & quality–a huge factor in my decision.  I recently realized that Google will scale down large photos you upload to G+, so that was disappointing, but after looking into it, using Picasa I can upload photos at their original resolution without it re-sizing them, and the flickrtoplus site also gives me the option to migrate them in original size or “large” size, which is smaller.  I chose “original” for everything I migrated, and I always upload my photos full-size.

With how simple Google’s search features work, it’s just so easy to find any photo or album I need now.  And Google Photos even looks simpler than Flickr’s interface, even though there are many more features you don’t see, that Flickr isn’t capable of at all.  There is one thing missing from Google Photos, however, that I liked in Flickr–and that’s “Collections”.  Flickr called its photo albums “Sets” and “Collections” were groups of Sets you could group together, like “Birthdays”, “Vacations”, etc. to keep things more organized.   Google Photos doesn’t offer an option for this, so all of my albums (402 of them right now, to be exact) are shown on one page.  I thought this would make things difficult to locate, but since Google’s search is so fast–and page searching is also so fast (using CTRL-F) I can find anything I need in my albums very quickly.

As far as price and space, it does cost a little more to go with Google than Flickr.  I was paying a flat $24.99 a year for unlimited space on Flickr, which is a really good price, especially for unlimited photos at full-size.  On Google, there’s a limit depending on the plan you choose: $4.99/month for 100GB, $9.99 for 200GB, $19.99 for 400GB, etc.  But–and this is a BIG BUT for me–this space is combined with Gmail, Google Drive, and Photos.  Right now I’m using just over 60GB for everything with all of my 29,000+ photos and everything else, so I could get by with the $4.99 a month, but I’m on the 200GB plan instead, just to have some breathing room for future photos and all of my documents, which are backed up on Google Drive, and my e-mail.  So, for me, that’s $120 per year now, instead of $24.99, but it’s more than just my photos, and I just trust Google more that Flickr.

So that’s that.  I’ve changed the “Photos” link on my site to go to my Google Photos Albums now instead of Flickr, and some time in December my Flickr account will downgrade to a free account.  This will make only 200 of my latest photos available there, the rest will be hidden.  I’ll probably delete my Flickr account at that time anyway, just to avoid people adding comments to the 200 latest photos they can see.

Connor

Connor Matthew Krumm
Connor Matthew Krumm

Ok, I’ve started a photo section for Connor Krumm, Matt and Anna’s baby.  This will be the first time I’ve started an album before someone is born, so I guess this one is at age zero.  I figured I might as well start now, since we already have a stack of photos (sort of) that Matt and Anna have shared with us, and now that they’re accumulating I wanted to make sure they didn’t get misplaced or lost.  So here we go, Connor’s place in the cloud.  The set will include photos from both inside and outside of the womb.  His expected arrival date is December 21st, 2013.

Camera & Eye-Fi Review – Sony DSC-HX20V with Eye-Fi Pro X2 16GB

I got this camera for my 50th birthday this month. So far, it’s nothing short of great. And after reading about the Eye-Fi card, and how it works, I immediately ordered one to use with the new camera. The 18.2 MP photos are great, and the 20x (40x digital) really is nice too. I’ve been using the “i+ Superior Auto” mode, which is new for me. What it does is pretty nice: When you take a picture in this mode, depending on the lighting and the image contents, you might hear multiple clicks as the shutter snaps multiple times using various settings. Then it combines all of the images and blends them automatically into one photo, much like HDR. This allows you to take excellent low-light photos that are still crisp and clear with little or no graininess in them. The camera also has built-in GPS tagging (and logging, for recording your journey on a map!) It takes the camera a couple minutes to grab the GPS signal once you turn it on, but from that point on it works great.

Another excellent feature is “iSweep Panorama” mode. This mode allows you to simply click the shutter button and sweep the camera from left to right in one clean motion, either slow or fast. Once you’ve rotated it 180 degrees, your panorama is completed and it displays as a nice, long photo on the screen, at a resolution of 4912×1080 (5mp) in STD mode, 7152×1080 (7.7mp) in WIDE mode, or a whopping 10480×4096 (42.9mp) in HR mode! This is tons better than many other panorama methods I’ve seen cameras (and apps) use, involving stitching of multiple separate photos together, or doing virtually the same thing, but by having you click for each photo, then overlapping them in-camera as you rotate to the next spot, line it up, and click again.

The camera also shoots very nice, full 1080p video, while using image stabilization (optional) and optional zooming, so it’s great for home movie-making as well. It will also shoot 3D photos and 3D panoramas as well as 3D multi-angle images viewable in-camera and on 3D TVs.

The final kicker, which makes this pretty much my “dream” camera, is the addition of a Eye-Fi Pro X2 16GB SDHC card! This is a memory card, used just like a standard SDHC memory card–with one major difference: It has built-in Wifi! When configured (initially, on a PC, with the included SDHC card reader), it will automatically sync all of your photos and videos–as you take them–with your home PC, laptop, or your Android or iPhone! And it can optionally auto-upload to your favorite photo-sharing service like Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, and many others! I will never have to worry about losing any of my photos, because they’re automatically backed up–both on my PC and in my Flickr account in the cloud!

Once I take a photo or two, after about a minute (as long as I keep the camera’s power on) the photos start streaming into my Android phone. It will also optionally GPS-tag the photos from your cell phone. I actually set this option, even though the camera has GPS, because I like to turn the camera on and snap photos quickly, and sometimes I’m done shooting before the GPS ever gets a lock. So with this option on, the GPS from my phone (which is on all the time) is used to tag the photos instead, and it’s fairly accurate all of the time. Once the photos are uploaded to my phone, my phone then uploads them to my preferred backup destination–which is Flickr. You can choose to make them automatically public or private, or only viewable by certain people. I have mine set to private, then later on I can sort through them on Flickr and publish those that I want to share, and delete or keep the rest as I want. This will be great for vacations! I can setup the photo album ahead of time, make it public, then snap all the photos as we travel and everyone gets a live photo feed of our trip! Hopefully it’ll work out much better than EveryTrail, which has pretty much been a flop for our vacations thus far. I can understand having some “dead spots” in very rural places at times, when crossing the country, but for it to just stop working completely when we take just a few photos and never pick up again until we’re at our destination two days later, is simply unacceptable. That’s EveryTrail though, and has nothing to do with Eye-Fi or the camera.

I tried the camera today for a new Ingress Portal Submission, and it worked great. Took a minute to get to my phone, and once the photo was there, I shared it to NIA Super-Ops, gave it a title, and submitted the new portal. The Eye-Fi Pro X2 Android app also has the ability to simply auto-upload photos taken with just your cell phone camera as well, so all of the photos taken with just my cell phone are also automatically uploaded to Flickr and/or my PC just as the camera’s photos are. This is a great bonus because it fully backs up EVERY photo I take, not just those taken with the camera containing the Eye-Fi card.

The only issue I have with using the Eye-Fi card is how I have to leave the camera power on after shooting photos. I have the habit of powering it off immediately after I’m done to save battery. When I do this, it can’t establish a connection to my phone and send the photos to it. Granted it does transfer the photos just fine the next time the power is turned on again, but that makes backups a little less instant, making my photos a little more vulnerable. Once I leave the camera on and the photos finish transferring to the phone, then the camera power shuts itself off automatically. Though, how an Eye-Fi card (which can be used in ANY camera) can control THIS camera like this, I have no idea. Don’t question the magic Jim, just go with it…

Another old photo album scanned

Old Photo Album 13
Old Photo Album 13

Today I scanned in another one of my dad’s old photo albums.  This one is Album #13.  I think most of its photos are from 1987-1988, but I’m not sure.  There are definitely a couple black & white photos that are WAY out of that range, but those had details written on the backs.  Many others were unlabeled and I don’t know who they are.  It’s a rather random collection of nearly 100 photos, including many of Joe Smith, Harold, Donna, Penny, Linda, Missy, Kari, Beth, Loretta, Roger, Clayton, and many other kids and adults.  There’s even a shot of lil Jayson on my lap… Ha!  As usual, I could use a little help with the unknowns, if anyone recognizes someone.  I think some of these are of Paula and her family, so, Paula, if you can help out with some names, I’d appreciate it!  Please add any details to a photo under the comments for that photo, and I’ll update the captions accordingly.  Thanks…and enjoy the photos!

My first look at the Samsung Galaxy S III

This is my dream phone. (The HTC Desire was my Nightmare!) For starters, the 32GB of memory is fully open to your apps, data, files, music, photos, whatever you throw at it. (The HTC Desire, after all of your updates from a fresh wipe of the phone, had about 80MB available. That’s about 1 or 2 apps you can install, since you’re “supposed” to leave 30MB free so the phone will run properly). With Andoid 4, like I have on my tablet, there’s no arbitrary 1GB or 2GB app memory limit, it’s wide open for whatever you want, giving you all of the memory in the phone, whichever way you need to use it. Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is very smooth and functional, and it means I can install the Apex Launcher and get all of the benefits I only previously had on my Motorola Xoom tablet on my phone now! With the same OS and launcher on both of my devices, it also makes things so much easier to deal with all the way around. If you end up getting an SIII yourself, save yourself a lot of frustration and re-learning, and install Apex Launcher as one of the first things you do. It’s really worth it! If you wait until later, you’ll end up having to re-learn how to use with the menus and functions, which are much different (and very enhanced and expanded) in Apex Launcher, and you’ll also have to completely setup all of your home screens from scratch, of which, by the way, you can have nine, and I always increase it to the maximum, just to I have an extra home screen or two to play around with, or view the wallpaper cleanly at any given time.

The camera has some nice improvements over my Electrify–it has a great HDR photo mode that takes awesome shots, has a 20-frame burst mode (the Electrify could only do a 6-frame burst), and a very cool addition to burst called “Best Shot” where it will take a burst of photos, analyze them, and suggest the best one for saving. You can even look through them yourself and choose one, but, as expected, the phone probably chooses the best one correctly every time…unless you WANT some blur in your phone. There are many more new camera features as well, but I leave it at that for now.

Siri is even included on this phone! Well, actually her name is “Galaxy” on this one, but it’s virtually the same as Siri. Double-click the only button on the phone and she makes a tone and says “What would you like to do?”, and waits for you to talk to her. She reminds me a lot of “Eliza”, the old artificial intelligence program that started the whole “AI” revolution just after PCs came out and started to do speech synthesis. She’ll make smart remarks to silly questions, just like Siri. She’ll give you the weather when you ask if it’s going to rain, and answer all those questions you would normally use Google for. I asked her “What’s the population of Kenosha, Wisconsin” tonight. She said “99218 people”. It’s like you’re talking to web. And that’s about what it is. If Google or Wolfram Alpha can give you the right answer, Galaxy can…while incorporating a little “AI pizazz” to make it seem more human.

The S3 runs on a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor, which is even faster than my tablet. It has a larger screen size that previous Androids, yet it’s much thinner than all of my previous phones (a whole two of them).

Complaints? Sure, I have a few: Since it doesn’t have an NVidia Tegra graphics processor in it, I can’t play my Zen Pinball tables! I guess I’ll have to keep playing those tables on my tablet…aw shucks. I also have a problem with the location of the volume buttons in relation to the power button. They’re exactly opposite each other on the phone, and I tend to squeeze the phone when I need to power on, power off, or adjust the volume, causing the other side’s button to push as well. This results in me either turning the volume up or down when I try to power the phone on or off, or vice versa. I think I just have to get in the habit of holding the phone properly in my palm, so that my thumb is always higher than my other fingers. And, lastly, at US Cellular, the only 32GB Galaxy SIII that they sell is WHITE. It’s not my preferred color–far from it–but I put it in a nice blue case, so it looks much better to me that way. The area around the screen is white, the bezel and back are blue…now, if I can just find a way to add a RED touch to it somewhere… “U-S-A!! U-S-A!!”

So, even with those negatives out there, none of them are deal-breakers for me. I love the phone and highly recommend it. Price? I paid $199 (after a mail-in rebate of $100) on an existing US Cellular plan (no contract).