Keeping your holiday photos safe

fz50.jpgThe holiday season is upon us, which means that we’ll be enjoying time spent with family and friends. Many of us will grab our handy camera-enabled data phones and snap priceless shots that we’ll want to share, and keep for posterity.

But that’s where the tech can get a bit tricky. Sure, we’ve tried sharing to our various Facebook, Flickr and Picasa accounts, but what about the ‘saving for posterity’ part.

Photos in the Cloud
Well, two of those three services mentioned above are a great start. Here’s the four that I’ve seen and used that will offer solid photo service over the holidays and into the future:

  • Flickr offers a Pro level account (about $25 per year for unlimited photo and video storage) that will keep all your photos online and available. Free gives you unlimited storage, but only your most recent 200 photos are viewable. Online image editing provided by Picnik.
  • Picasa has a free account that offers 1GB of free photo storage and basic image editing tools.
  • SmugMug is pricier, offers three levels of service, and is geared toward the more serious photographer.
  • Adobe Photoshop Express gives you access to basic online photo editing and organization tools, and 2GB of free photo storage. Additional storage space can be purchased annually.


So, what’s so great about storing your photos online anyway?

  1. Backup — you don’t have to worry about keeping your images safe; the service you’re using does that.
  2. Sharing — easy to embed the images into blogs, email and twitter messages. Each photo usually has a public URL that’s sharable (or private, if that’s your thing).
  3. Printing — a few of the services are offering partnerships with professional printing labs which lets you produce photobooks, custom prints etc.
  4. Integration — some of the more popular services are already integrated into your iPhone camera applications (such as Instragram). Push a button and your latest shot is uploaded to the service, ready for you to edit and share.

Local storage?
Yep, you can keep your photos on your own computer, but you do run risks should your computer crash or worse. I do keep the majority of my images at home, stored on a network attached storage device that’s got two drives, one a mirror of the other. So if one should die, I’ve got a copy of my data on the other.

Also, I backup my photos weekly, and move the backup drive to an offsite location for even greater safety. Yeah, a housefire would ruin a lot of things, but I know my photos and other important data would be safe.

Your needs?
It depends. Take a solid think about what you plan to do with your photos, how you want to share them, and how important they are to you (can you afford to lose them?). I’ve likely given you some ideas to try and experiment with as we head into the holidays. I’d love to hear what you’ve tried and how it worked (or didn’t).

This is the week that was

Wow. I complain that the tech news week is slow, so what happens? Stuff. iPad speculation, high-tech worms, a new tablet computer from RIM and much, MUCH MORE!


I Own An iPad, So What Do I do With It?
NPD has released the second in its series of iPad surveys. While the first looked at buying intentions prior to the launch this one is more focused on what the current ownership looks like and how those owners are using their iPad. In conjunction with the press release we thought we would add some color around the iPad experience, bypassing some of the more contentious product based discussions out there. The survey provided some in-depth information on all aspects of the iPad, but today we are going to look at two distinct areas. First, is what owners like and dislike about their iPads, and second is how consumers are using their iPad.

iPad owners: younger and more male.
As part of Advertising Week‘s Mobile Ad Summit Tuesday, the Nielsen Company released the results of a survey of 5,000 consumers who own a tablet computer, eReader, netbook, media player or smartphone – including 400 iPad owners. The survey found some curious demographic differences.

Apple shuts flagship Beijing store as iPhone 4 scalpers run amok
We reported earlier this month on the quaint habit of iPhone purchasing for a profit all across London, as various folk pick up units to send into the lucrative Chinese grey market for the device — today we learn that Apple had to close its Beijing Apple store yesterday because grey market buyers were sucking all the store’s supply.Seems that Apple bumped up the sales limit on iPhone 4 from two to unlimited in Beijing’s flagship store, drawing an immediate huge crowd of eager customers — but these folks were buying iPhones in large quantities to resell on the grey market, which caused such a commotion security eventually shut AAPL’s flagship Chinese store down.

Continue reading “This is the week that was”

Spending good money on nothing, it’s not a new concept.

Disclosure: I’m involved with an organization that has virtual goods and currency  — and yes, you can exchange real money for virtual goods in it.

fv_250.jpgThe virtual economy is heating up. GigaOm reports that Facebook Could Make $250M From Virtual Goods Next Year; make money from stuff that isn’t tangible. Stuff you can’t hold in your hands. Yet, the concept of virtual isn’t really new, it’s really just a new label applied to an ancient concept.

It is kind of interesting, when you think of it. For the vast majority of human history, ideas used to be the only type of non-physical ‘object’ that people would pay money for — ideas manifested as stories, concepts, music, inventions, etc.

Someone had to come up with the idea. And if it was good, then someone paid for that idea.

Then, the idea had to be transformed into reality — a play, a symphony, a building perhaps. The idea becomes physical (for a short time if you’re witnessing a performance). But still you have the physical manifestation of something created in the mind of someone.

Today, we have the virtual manifestation of ideas. Virtual in that when they manifest, they exist only in the medium they were designed for — a Farmville farm lovingly tended and nurtured by someone using a keyboard and mouse. Or an Elvish Archer who’s virtual skills and abilities have been carefully selected and honed.

Today’s virtual goods economy is wonderful, exciting, and offers huge new opportunities that didn’t exist before — from the swetshop goldfarmer to the (mobile-device-app-store) developer– doing work that has no physical manifestation can be both a pastime and a career.

But it shouldn’t surprise us that people and organizations can make money in this way — because we’ve been doing it for thousands of years. Only this medium is new.

This post of is one of many I publish weekly at the Future Shop Techblog. Read more of my stuff here.

The top three URL shorteners for ReTweets

If you use Twitter at all you know that tweets really are the essence of tight-writing, since you’ve only got 140 characters to work with. If you’re planning to include a link to other web content or leave space so that others can retweet your tweet, your character count drops further.

Savin’ the tweet, one character at a time
This is where URL shorteners come in, they’re services that take long URLs, such as:
(89 characters, leaving 51 for your tweet)

and convert it to this:
(18 characters, leaving 122 for your tweet)

There’s short, and then there’s short
Everyone and his grandma has a URL shortener these days. If you use Google apps for Domains you can even set up your own URL shortener using Short Links. I don’t do this because is already too long.

But if one of your goals is publish your content, as well as make it retweetable, then you want check out these three URL shorteneing services:

According to research recently released by Dan Zarrella, tweets with links shortened by these services are more retweetable than others, with being the best by a large margin.

What do I use?
In my case, I use It’s bundled with Hootsuite, an online twitter management application. Oh, yeah, they’re Canadian too 😉 but I digress.

My Goal
When I tweet, it’s simply to spread the word about something I find interesting. Selecting the ‘most retweetable’ URL shortener won’t give me a huge advantage, but when you add it to  audience consideration, time of day, and your tweet ‘headline’, you’ll find it all adds up. Take a look at Dan’s report for more info. on retweeting, or look at the summary item Fast Company ran earlier this week.

Sponsored post – Lunchster helps you organize your lunch dates

The following is a sponsored post, commissioned by Lunchster, via Izea. Though this is a paid post, the words and ideas below are mine.

Hooking up with friends for lunch has always been a bit of a challenge for me, and I’ve always been looking for a way to make it easier. I don’t often write sponsored posts on my blog, but this opportunity came up and it looks like an application I’ll use, so of course I wanted to share 😉

Lunchster launched (sorry) in beta today at DEMO fall ’09, a conference / tradeshow where, in the words of the conference organizers:

Each company is given just six minutes on the DEMO stage to truly demonstrate how their product will change the world. No PowerPoint or flashy corporate presentations allowed. Just the founders and the technologies many are staking their careers on… it doesn’t get any more straightforward and fast paced than that.

Time for Lunchster
Basically, Lunchster acts as virtual assistant that coordinates lunch dates between me and my friends using email, online calendaring programs (Google Calendar, etc) and even Facebook.

The process works like this:

  1. Sign up and log into Lunchster
  2. Either let Lunchster import your contact list, or manually enter email addresses of your lunch-mates
  3. Select a time, date and place for your lunch
  4. Confirm and send out the invitations

Lunchster does the rest. All your contacts will receive email invitations to your lunch, and can reply accordingly. If a date doesn’t work out, all contacts can tweak the lunch date or decline. Lunchster does all the work and you don’t have to coordinate email, IM, tweets, etc. It’s all in Lunchster.

My Take-away
Lunchster is cool. The interface is a little rough around the edges, but I really liked the way I could set up a lunch appointment — the application uses Yelp! to aid with restaurant choice, and works with my existing calendaring tools (Google Calendar and Outlook).

I’m not a big fan of allowing applications free access to my contact list (though Lunchster does say in multiple places that they don’t save my password, etc). Big points to Lunchster for allowing me to manually enter my lunch-buddies email addresses.

I guess the hard part for me is to get into the habit of using another application. As long as I remember to use it, I’ll use Lunchster the next time I need to coordinate a lunch.

You can join the Lunchster beta (it seems open) or follow @lunchster on Twitter, to keep up to date.

The preceding was a sponsored post for Lunchster.
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Code Of Ethics

How to automatically post your Facebook status to Twitter

Well it looks like Facebook and Twitter are now playing nice. If you’re logged into Facebook, this page will walk you through the process of hooking things up so that your Facebook updates will go out to your Twitter feed. Select what you want, and protect the rest. I’m going to leave this post as it is, but the link above is really the one you should use to make this happen.

I’m in the midst of figuring out a better way to automatically build a list of ‘tweets’ and have them scheduled throughout the day. My current system is a bit broken.

A friend pinged me on Facebook saying that he was looking for something else, an app that would post your Facebook status to Twitter. I thought checking this out would be easy, but given the changes Facebook has been through over the last while the resulting solution is a mashup, not an app.

Yes, it’s possible, not pretty, but possible. Here’s how to do it. Some of this information was gleaned from TechLifeWeb and (thanks!).

  1. In FB, go to your Inbox > Notifications page
  2. At the bottom of the right column, there’s the link for the Notifications feed… right click on it and copy the link (or hit properties and copy the URL that shows up in the new window)
  3. To test that it works, paste that URL into your browser and hit enter. (You’ll see your notifications feed show up)
  4. In that URL, change ONLY the portion that stays “notifications.php” to “status.php” and hit enter.
  5. The resulting page ‘should’ be your Facebook Status RSS Feed. Here’s mine for an example.
  6. Copy your entire URL to a text document and save it. You’ll need it later.
  7. Get a account. Twitterfeed lets you harvest your RSS feed at a set frequency and publish your feed to a Twitter account.
  8. Create a new Twitterfeed using the long Facebook URL you saved earlier, set your publish frequency, and you’re done.

Currently Twitterfeed is having some consistency issues — some, but not all of my feeds are being published correctly. They are aware of the issues and are working to fix them.