Last call for Google’s Picasa photo service

A screen capture showing Google's Picasa desktop software running on a Windows 7 computer on Thursday, March 10, 2016.

A screen capture showing Google’s Picasa desktop software running on a Windows 7 computer on Thursday, March 10, 2016.

After years of languishing behind projects like Google+ and Google Photos, Picasa is finally going to the great software and Web service cemetery beyond the clouds. Google announced last month that Picasa was being retired, and the end begins March 15 when the company stops support of the Picasa desktop app. Picasa’s online Web albums will be changing starting May 1.

I’m writing today so people may have the chance to download the Picasa’s free software for Windows and Mac before it’s taken offline. Although I started with Picasa’s Web service, the desktop software has become an invaluable way to quickly sort images and do some basic editing (although the editing tools are closer to Instagram than Photoshop). Although Google is seeking a single service that works on mobile and desktop, that solution isn’t ready today.

At first glance, Picasa is a tough sell as it was first developed when software companies were determining how to bridge software that resided on local computers with cloud services. Picasa was both a desktop app (that Google initially acquired) and an online photo service and it could be hard to explain the difference between the two to others. The two services even had different Web addresses — the app was available at while the Web service was available at

A screenshot shows the desktop software at the top of this blog post. Readers may contrast that with a view of the Web albums below.

Here's a look at the Picasa Web Albums service as viewed in Google Chrome on March 10, 2016.

Here’s a look at the Picasa Web Albums service as viewed in Google Chrome on March 10, 2016.

Compared with modern applications and Web services, both versions of Picasa look a bit dated but they were still generally effective.

When it came to sharing photos online, Picasa Web Albums made things simple without the clutter of other photo-sharing services, like PhotoBucket. You could embed individual Picasa images on other sites or share slideshows of entire albums. These features are not currently available in Google Photos.

The biggest advantage of Google Photos is that it can store all of your photos at a usable size (Google+ Photos had a pretty small image size limit). I’ve found it extremely convenient for locating and sharing individual photos, but I’m less inclined to share whole albums. To be fair, I didn’t choose to share many albums with Picasa Web Albums, but I miss the ability to view other’s public photo profiles and share my own.

Ultimately, I’ll likely miss the desktop software most of all, especially when it came to processing screenshots. As someone whose personal computer is a MacBook, it’s easy to take cropped screenshots with the Command-Shift-4 keyboard shortcut. On a Windows PC, it’s initially easy to take the screenshot with the PrtScn key, but then you have to go to an image app like MS Paint, paste the screenshot into the image, crop it and then save it.

Picasa for Windows allowed users to skip a couple of steps. When Picasa was running, the PrtScn key captured the desktop directly to Picasa (alas, no secondary screens). With the image already saved, it was easy to go into Picasa, edit and crop the image and export it from a bitmap to a JPEG or PNG file.

The rest of the desktop app’s tools were straightforward. You couldn’t cut out or easily modify smaller elements of an image (something that had me running to Photoshop a couple times last year). The tools were useful for basic photo editing and caption information was saved in an IPTC format, which saved a lot of time for work. Users could also add text to an image, which saved me a lot of grief when I was working on my Christmas cards.

As much as I liked the desktop software, it could get a bit difficult to manage images, especially as it tried to cope with updates from other developers. For example, it was great that Picasa was able to read Apple’s iPhotos image database, but that advantage is practically wiped out when the image database splits up images by date (instead of albums or something more useful).

Ultimately, it makes sense for Google to let go of Picasa as the desktop app was last significantly updated more than four years ago. It will also reduce some of the confusion of Google’s image programs (which will still include Google Photos and the Snapseed mobile editing apps). I hope Google Photos will pick up some of the features of the Picasa services. Google Photos offers some incredible advantages, especially with facial and object recognition, but I think it has some ways to go before it can be a suitable replacement for Picasa.

Is Google Photos the future?

Is Google Photos the future?

#nbcfail: Complaints about NBC’s Olympics coverage reach new heights

NBC Live bug during Vancouver Games

“Live – NBC” Something West Coast viewers saw only briefly during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. For this year’s London games, seeing such a thing may almost be a mirage.

During the Calgary Winter Games in 1988, I remember the announcer for ABC (I want to say Jim McKay) explaining to the audience watching at home how, even though the event was live, there could be brief seconds of delay as the feed is uplinked from Canada and downlinked from orbiting satellites to local stations. I believe the point was that ABC was making was that the coverage was as live as technically possible.

Contrast that with NBC’s coverage of the London Summer Games, where they’re largely sticking with their “If you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you!” mantra. That motto didn’t work for summer reruns in 1997 and it doesn’t work for covering an immense, live sporting event in an age of Facebook and Twitter.

With the London Games fully underway, an old sport of sorts has taken off online — complaining about NBC’s ever-lackluster presentation of the Olympics. As this Associated Press article indicates, critics and supporters alike will point out that this isn’t a new event, but the increasing use of social networking has bolstered criticisms and underscored NBC’s relatively poor broadcasting choices.

Social networking spoils NBC’s tape-delay plans because people around the world are sharing results as they happen. Unless people go out of their way to avoid the results, the results of key competitions are known hours before NBC gets around to broadcasting them over the air.

This was an issue during the Vancouver 2010 Games, but it seems like a much bigger issue today.

I’ve never been shy to criticize NBC’s broadcasting choices, especially those that force West Coast viewers to suffer tape delays for events happening in their time zone (like during Vancouver). In the past, the complaints just seemed to peter out after a while. Not so in London, where comments are shared and added to like flames of a fire.

Thus far, people watching the London Games have taken to using the #nbcfail tag on Twitter to help express their disdain of the coverage. The complaints have been wide-ranging, but have thus far focused on the delayed Opening Ceremonies on Friday and a 7- to 11-hour delay for Saturday’s 400 IM men’s swimming final featuring Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps.

Sunday’s gripes seem to be less focused, with people carping about a bevy of events delayed into primetime and some tweeting about the reaction to #nbcfail. There’s also a Internet meme where people are jokingly tweeting about NBC’s tape-delayed coverage of historical events.

So what’s the solution? I think the Canadian model works well for a sports fan and a viewer — live coverage whenever possible and highlights when necessary. I’m not sure what current rightsholder CTV is doing, but the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation would only air highlight packages during times when live coverage wasn’t feasible … but after airing the live coverage.

Looking at NBC’s position, they did fork out the dough to air the Games, so they’re obviously in the driver’s seat about their decisions. Their arguments include the fact that they can reach a greater audience and earn more ad dollars by airing taped events in primetime. That seems to be borne out by the record ratings for the first two days of the London Games.

They’ve also made fun of the Canadian model. I remember during the Athens Games in 2004 reading about an NBC producer touting the higher American ratings than their Canadian counterparts.

NBC has also countered critics by saying all the events are streaming live online. I appreciate that effort — although I question how much of an effort it really is, considering that Olympic Broadcasting Services provides feeds of every event anyway. Still, it’s a step up from the Vancouver Games, where most events were kept offline until they aired on the Peacock.

The service was fairly comprehensive during the Beijing Games, but I’m shut out this time — people need to prove they’re paying for an expanded cable or satellite subscription before they can get access. People with rabbit ears on their televisions are shut out.

One final point about NBC that people rarely seem to consider is the fact that NBC isn’t a monolithic network — they have to keep their local affiliates happy. I have no doubt that local stations’ desires to garner the largest audiences is also a factor in NBC’s scheduling. That’s also why I believe local news and key syndicated shows are still shown, despite the huge amount of Olympics events available.

It’s hard to say what the ultimate impact of #NBCfail will be. For now, the ratings tend to support NBC’s decisions regarding the tape-delayed experience they offer television viewers. However, perhaps #NBCfail will continue to point out that this should be a golden era of sports broadcasting and that a significant number of people are aware of better, live offerings than what NBC is serving up.

Opening Ceremonies concerns: While I’m still making my way through an over-stuffed Opening Ceremonies, I have to ding NBC Olympics for its decision to air ads instead of showing the Olympic Oaths (prior to the caldron lighting). Amid all of the symbolism of the Opening Ceremonies, having athletes, coaches and officials swear to the true spirit of sportsmanship is a huge one.

The Age of Australia identified the oath takers as UK taewondo athlete Sarah Stevenson, boxing referee Mik Basi for officials and canoeing coach Eric Farrell.

Also, according to the International Olympic Committee’s guide to Opening Ceremonies (PDF), every ceremony is to include 11 elements. The oaths are three of the elements. NBC should have made time for at least the athletes’ oath.

For the record, the oath for athletes is — “In the name of all competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams.”

The network was also criticized for airing a pretaped interview instead of showing a portion of the ceremonies commemorating victims of terrorism (particularly the July 7, 2005, attacks in London).

Facebook offers games, extras, but I’m not playing

I have huge queue of requests in my Facebook account. I’ve been meaning to go through and clear them out — by denying nearly all of them. I thought it would be useful to explain why.

  1. Games – A ton of my friends are playing social games, like Mafia Wars or Yoville. The thing is, I’ve played similar games before and they really don’t interest me. I don’t really want to spend time hunting for items or recruiting friends for specific causes.

    So instead of adding clutter to my account and perhaps leaving my friends in a lurch when my attention is focused elsewhere, I’d rather not go down that path again.

  2. Special apps – Some of friends have asked me to submit information for apps called “We’re Related” or “Birthday Cards.” They’re pretty straightforward — to help people track relatives or people’s birthdays.

    Sounds great. right? Well, Facebook has most of them without needing to add a different program.

    Some of the apps are also scuzzy — full of poorly implemented advertising and visual traps for users. They often try to get the user to send out spammy messages about the app in order to view quiz results (but you should always be able to skip past such prompts). Thanks, but no thanks.

  3. Causes – Some people have asked me to join certain causes. Professionally, I do my best to keep my Internet position agnostic (although it can be tough given the worthy causes and controversial issues that we face).

While I feel bad turning down these requests, these apps aren’t what I’m looking for on Facebook. When I come to social-networking Web sites, I would like to see what people are up to and what they’re producing (like stories, photos, discussions, etc.). There are places for games on Facebook, but I’m just not playing right now.

BSG is on Friday – Time to party

My user name is “Galactican” and yet I’ve done next to nothing about my fav show “Battlestar Galactica.” Well, no more. Here’s a bulletin because I’m sorta hosting a party on Friday.

– Season 3 Premiere is Friday night on Sci Fi. The first act is already online. It is a great piece of television and definitely makes me want to see the whole episode.

– If you want to see if there’s a Friday viewing party in your area, check out Someone set up a party in Chico.

– The preseason “Resistance” web episodes concludes today at Sci Fi’s Web site. For short 3-minute episodes, they were pretty good once the story got underway.

If you haven’t given the show a chance, I highly recommend you do. It’s a pretty dramatic show following human refugees fleeing the destroyers of their homes. There are some sci-fi elements, but it’s a pretty good, yet grim, drama.

You can get caught up with Sci Fi’s Story So Far primer. There are 3- and 42-minute video recaps of the show to this point.

This is a feature? – Aug. 19

Hey, Tom —

This text editor that you have to write blogs is dreadful, to the point where it is nearly unusable (at least on Firefox). I can use neither the arrow keys or keyboard commands to edit my post. It’s like I’m back on a terminal using PINE to check my e-mail.

This is almost as bad as trying to write a text message on your cell phone. Actually, it’s worse — nearly every phone I’ve used allows you to use the arrow keys.

I don’t know what the problem is, but I would really appreciate added functionality to these blogs.

Your friend,

Random MySpace muse – 2 June

There’s been a little pestering thought in the back of my mind as I browse through MySpace profiles. It’s nice to see what people are “here” for, but Tom only gives us four options. It’s not nearly enough.

We can be here for “dating,” “serious relationships,” “friends” and “networking.” I’m certainly here for more reasons that the four stated. I sometimes use MySpace for work, there’s not really an entry for that (although I suppose “networking” would qualify).

Tom — How hard would it be to include a box for people who are “here for the party.” 😉

Good night, folks. Try the veal.

MySpace musing – 14 May

Animated greatnessAfter a brief hiatus, my animated profile image is back. It was down briefly because I wanted to look respectable. However, what’s more elegant than the inflated Garlic Dude from the Gilroy Garlic Festival? Nothing!

It’s interesting, but some people are impressed about how I animated the graphic. There’s nothing much to it — it’s an animated GIF. Somehow it adds an extra touch to the page without a lot of loud noises or videos.

Speaking of loud noises, how is everyone enjoying No Luck Club? I first heard them on the CBC Radio 3 podcast. They’re pretty good, but they’re no Dick Dale and His Deltones.

At the same time, No Luck Club hasn’t prompted my friends to say “Change the godawful music.” I guess that’s a good thing.

BTW, do you want to see the most information-rich MySpace profile I’ve ever seen? Check this guy out. For some reason he’s tracking my blog and I wanted to learn more about him. There’s a lot to learn about him it seems.

The cool thing is that he puts all the information together in a classy way. It’s a ton of information and photos, but it’s as readable as things get on this site. I do miss the animated fish that follows my mouse cursor, though.

Well, I guess that’s enough of the classic stream of consciousness writing that keeps so many people coming back to this blog.

False advertising

My frakking username is “Galatican” but I haven’t posted one lick of BSG commentary since the second half of Season Two started. Is that false advertising or something else?

I just haven’t felt the great urge to write about BSG on this space, although maybe I should. Still, there’s other things I could write about. I don’t know, I never seem to capitalize on these sorts of sites.

OTOH, my real blog is hopping compared to this one. A whole whopping seven posts in the last 30 days.

Me and music

Last week, I replied to a bulletin about the songs in my iTunes library. I determined that I have nearly 1,600 songs. Since there’s a Smart Playlist for the 25 Most Played Song, I wanted to see what my least played songs were.

I quickly found that there are 909 songs that I’ve played five times or less. On the surface, I’ve barely listened to the songs in my library. It’s not wholly accurate — many of the songs I’ve had on another computer for years. Needless to say, I’m trying to remedy the situation.

Aside from podcasts, radio shows, audio books and the hour-long Beethoven concerts. I’m listening to those at least five times because it would be extremely trying.

Here’s the bulletin:

I (heart) iTunes Body: Open iTunes, go to your library, and supply the following: Answer, no matter how embarrasing it is!

  • How many songs: 1596 songs (6.9 days, 8.13 GB)
  • Sort by Song Title: First Song: ¿Donde Se Fueron? by Ozomatli Last Song: Zydeco Boogaloo by Buckwheat Zydeco
  • Sort by Time: Shortest Song: cnn_sting_5a_copy1 (:06) Longest Song: 61804 (an episode of the “American Who” radio show), 1:40:36 Longest Actual Song – Beethoven’s 9th Symphony – BBC Philharmonic, 1:07:24
  • Sort by Artist: First Artist: 3Style Last Artist: Yoshikazu Iwamoto
  • Sort by Album: First Album: 1st Magic (D’Nell) Last Album: You’ll Disappear (Augustana)
  • Top Three Most Played Songs-BE HONEST: 1. Duel of the Fates (Star Wars Episode 1) – 100 times 2. The Breaking of the Fellowship (The Lord of the Rings) – 95 times 3. Theme from “Battlestar Galactica” (original) – Stu Philips – 93 times
  • First song that comes up on shuffle: Entire Library (No Party Shuffle): Saturday Night Fish Fry – Louis Jordan Party Shuffle (Entire Library): Ballad of Ted Clampett – From “The Beverly Hillbillies”
  • Search for… “sex”: 2 out of 1596 “death”: 2 out of 1596 “love”: 43 out of 1596