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July 28, 2011

Flickr - A Different Type of Photo Sharing Site

If you not only enjoy sharing photos but also being able to learn about photography as well, then you may wish to check out Flickr. Flickr is owned by Yahoo and a Yahoo account is required but worth it if you wish to have a Flickr account. As of a year ago, Flickr had over 26 million users.

A free account allows you to only see the last 200 pictures you have posted and you can only post a picture to 10 groups. Groups relate to a topic which can be related to camera gear used, locations, types of photos, etc.  You can discuss in these groups not only photography but also topics relevant to the group. If you are travelling, there is probably a group for the places you are visiting that you can check out for pictures posted in the group and even post questions or comments about the area.  For $24.94 a year you can get a Pro account. This enables you to have stats on your account, unlimited uploads and storage, ad free browsing and other benefits. No matter what type of account you have, you can tag your photos which enables pictures to be found easier when doing a search by topic.

This is such a popular site for photography that in May of 2009 the official White House photographer Peter Souza started to use Flickr as a way to release White House photos.

If you have even a passing interest in photography this is a site worth checking out. You do not need to have an account to go through the site and check out the pictures and groups. You may decide to stay awhile.  Click to see pictures in my Flickr account.

July 21, 2011

Impressions of Google Plus Part II

Last week I posted some of my thoughts of Google+. After using it some more, I have a few others particularly what other social media sites may or may not fall to the new kid on the block in social media.

While Google+ has been by invite only to date, being able to get a Google+ account has been enabled and disabled on various occasions. While Google has said it had to do with not allowing too many people to sign up at once and Google is better able to develop Google+ by limiting sign ups this is a great way of marketing. By doing this, Google is creating a demand for this new way of sharing. Ever see a long line to get in a club or restaurant? When you do go in, you may note it is not as busy inside as it appears outside. I know how I felt having an invitation but not able to get a Google+ account. Google+ has gotten a lot of attention on blogs such as Mashable and on other social media sites like Twitter and even Facebook.

A lot of people are saying that Google+ will adversely affect Facebook. Facebook has shown their concern and made it more difficult to export Facebook friends. Facebook has also hired some key people from Google the past few months. These people are certainly aware of the workings of Google and have probably communicated this to their colleagues at Facebook. If Facebook were a country it would be the third largest in the world with over 500 million subscribers. I do not see an en mass defection from Facebook of your friends and family despite having a low customer satisfaction rate per a July 19 article in PC Magazine. There will be those who leave Facebook for Google+. This already is happening. There are also security concerns about Facebook that have been noted by many.

The 140 character limit of Twitter is both a blessing and a curse for Google+. A challenge of Google+ is to become less bloated in my opinion. On one side you have a 140 character limit that you can include links in order to share additional information. On the other hand, there are quite a few times when 140 characters are not enough. When using your smartphone which has a small screen, Twitter has an advantage. If using hashtags (#)  in Google+ were to catch on, this could change the playing field here somewhat. While you also can have lists in Twitter, Circles are easier to manage.  Further Twitter is considered to be an information network (news has been known to break out here) while Google+ is considered a social network. I do not see people using Google+ to report on a national crisis like they used Twitter in Egypt a few months ago.

LinkedIn is where I feel Google+ can do the most damage. For starters, LinkedIn is providing more subscription services. Google+ is a networking device where no definition as to whether it is used for personal as opposed to business use. Once businesses are in Google+, I believe the playing field will change. As a whole, LinkedIn users tend to be more tech savvy than Facebook users (how many 70 year old grandmothers are on LinkedIn?). Dell is thinking of allowing their tech support to use Google+.  They can have a video chat in Hangouts where you can see a face and make their job more of a personal interaction. Hangouts can change how customer service is handled.

There are those who also consider other sites like Skype and Flickr at risk. I definitely can see Skype being at risk due to the Huddles feature of Google+. Huddles allows you to have a video conference with as many as 10 people and at no charge. At present, you need a subscription plan to have a group video conference using Skype. Skype will need to change this.
Flickr is another matter. As someone having a Flickr account, it is largely a niche site for photographers.  Without purchasing a pro account for $25 annually, you can only show and access 200 of your pictures on your account. It also is easy in Flickr to tag multiple pictures at once and relatively easy to manage your pictures. Flickr has good discussion groups to discuss about photography related issues and those who participate are always willing to help with photography tips of their own. From what I am seeing, quite a few who have pro accounts are not renewing or debating whether or not to renew their account. Google+ will for one need to make it easier to issue the same tags to multiple pictures.

As I mentioned in my previous post, it will be interesting to see how Google+ is integrated with Google's other programs such as their calendar and mail applications. No matter what happens I have learned this: What is the hot thing now will not be the hot thing tomorrow. Google is hot now but they will have the day when they are not the hot thing.

July 14, 2011

Impressions of Google Plus

Google launched its new social media site (though they refer to it as a sharing site) Google+ this past June 28 as an invite only. You also need to have a Google account as well. There are now over 10,000,000 users and growing quickly. It is considered to be a rival of Facebook.

A big way it differs from Facebook is you can add someone as a contact to any of your Circles without them adding you as a contact. Circles are a way of organizing your contacts. You can choose Circles like Friends, Family, Business, etc. When you post items, you can determine which Circles are able to see your posts. People that are in a Circle of yours can see they are in one of your Circles. They will not know which one or who is in that Circle. If you have someone in your Circle but they do not have you in one of theirs, you can see what they post subject to their sharing restrictions. For those using Facebook, think of Circles as the Lists you may have for Facebook friends. Your Facebook friends do not know what list if any you have them on. You also may share or not share posts with Lists. Circles are considered a strong selling point of Google+. They are easier and more user friendly to use then than Facebook Lists. Further, there are those who use Facebook and do not realize that Facebook has a similar feature as well.

Another feature of Google+ is Hangouts. Hangouts are where up to 10 people can have a group video chat. For this you will need to download and install the free Google Voice and Video Chat plugin for your computer.

Sparks is another feature. Your Sparks are only visible to you. This is where you identify subjects of interest to you. You get to see streams based upon your interests. Without you putting your interests in your profile, there is not a way for others to see what your interests may be. Facebook allows you to share pages, groups that you belong to. There currently is not an option like this in Google+. This link may be of help in getting a further understanding of Sparks.

Perhaps the biggest selling point is privacy. Not only is Google+ more private, it is a lot easier to manage privacy on Google+ than Facebook. It is easy to determine who you wish to see your posts and personal information.

Will items in Google+ get rated better in a Google search?  That is for Google to decide.  I would hope that the protocols used in a Google search ranking continue to be used here so as to be consistent.

Keep in mind that Google+ is a work in process. Improvements and enhancements are being made on an ongoing basis and as I mentioned it is easier to share interests using Facebook. It is expected that Google+ will be opened to all by the end of July. You are able to share photos and video just like Facebook. The quality of pictures shared in Google+ is better. It will be interesting to see how Google will integrate Google+ with its other products as well. Right now Google is by and large discouraging business use of its new program. When it is ready for business use what will it be like? The jury is out and Facebook may have some heavy competition to contend with. Then again with LinkedIn moving more toward subscription services maybe the niche of Google+ will be a professional networking site. My personal opinion is LinkedIn should worry more than Facebook.  Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for that matter have not gotten where they are by standing still. I would expect them to make changes to their product as well.  Time will tell how it all plays out.

July 7, 2011

Making Your Computer Personal: Bayside NY and the Internet

Making Your Computer Personal: Bayside NY and the Internet: "Throgs Neck Bridge This post could be adopted for almost any city, town, area etc. I live in Bayside,NY and most of my customers also li..."