Tag Archives: Snapfish

PTJ 139 News: Spring Cleaning

The Googleverse got  a little rattle this week as the company began rolling out its mobile-friendly update. As one might imply from the name, this new tweak to the new Google Search algorithm boosts the rankings of sites that are designed for (or have responsive versions for) mobile devices. The mobile-friendly update also applies only to mobile searches, so if you’re using a desktop web browser, your results won’t be affected. So, relax — unless you’re a website developer with an unresponsive site.

Google has also made it possible now for you to download a complete copy of your Web search history with the site. That is, all the searches you made, (good, bad or naughty), when you were logged in with your Google account for Gmail or another G-service. Remember, though, this is just a copy of your web-search history and doesn’t remove the original information from Google’s records. But you can go into your account’s search and browsing history and delete the information there.

youtube_apiGoogle’s YouTube is also clearing out a little old history. According to a blog post on the YouTube house engineering blog, the company will be retiring its Data API v2. So, why should you care? Here’s why:  A help page on the YouTube site said “select devices” manufactured in 2012 or earlier will be affected and will no longer be able to use the YouTube app. This includes second-generation and earlier Apple TV boxes, Apple devices running iOS 6 or older, some Sony and Panasonic Internet-connected television sets and Blu-Ray players and hardware running older versions of Google TV. Third-generation Apple TV boxes can upgrade to the new version of the YouTube app. Smart TVs and game consoles left out in the YouTube cold may be able to use the site through their web browsers. Bummer if you have the three-old hardware, but this is ultimately a GoogTube decision.

Twitter is also making some changes to its service. The company has added that previously announced feature that, when you turn it on in your account settings, lets anyone in the Twitterverse send you a direct message. At least this is optional and not on by default.

Twitter also stepped up its efforts to fight abuse on its network. The company has updated its policy on violent threats and target abuse, as explained on its website. Violating the policy first results in a temporary account suspension. In addition to the updated abusive behavior policy and a detailed support articled instructing users how to report abuse, the company is also testing what’s basically a bozo filter. The Twitter blog explains it all for you. (One more Twitter-related note: The Atlanta Hawks professional basketball team announced this week that it was going to sell a limited number of playoff tickets via Twitter.)

destinations

Early reports from last fall claiming that Amazon would be launching a hotel-shopping service has proven true. The new site is called Amazon Destinations and goes beyond the previous hotel deals offered by  Amazon Local for regional deals near you. So far, your destination with Amazon Destinations is just limited to Los Angeles, New York and Seattle, and you need to get there by car or ground-based transport because it’s local. But it’s a start.

Hewlett Packard is tossing out Snapfish after 10 years of ownership. The computer maker is cleaving itself into two companies, (one for enterprise, one for personal computers and printers) and is selling the Snapfish photo-sharing site to District Photo. Snapfish customers will continue to use HP printing services even after the sale, however.

Many modders love the Cyanogen open-source operating system based on Google’s Android.  Microsoft seems to love it enough to form a strategic partnership with the company. Microsoft services like Skype, OneDrive, Outlook, OneNote, Office and Bing will be integrated into future versions of the Cyanogen OS .

frogMeanwhile, researchers at the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center have published a report in the Journal Zootaxa documenting a new species of glass frog that some observers say looked very similar to one Kermit the Frog. The similarity is noted on the little creature’s Wikipedia page, which describes it as “The frog is a lime-green coloured amphibian with translucent skin on its underside and has a horizontally shaped pupil that makes it look like Kermit, the Muppet.” Okay, that deserves a bonafide Kermit Flail:

kermit-flail

Facebook has some tweaks of its own to its News Feed algorithm and says content posted directly by friends will show up higher than promotional posts or updates from liked brands and Pages.

Well now. Apple’s recent Yosemite update 10.10.3, was supposed to fix some bugs and security holes but experts are saying that one known vulnerability was not fixed in the patch. The Rootpipe flaw, a potential backdoor in OS X that apparently dates back to 2011, is still present in 10.10.3. Here’s hoping the sequel to that update does the job. Security experts have also pointed out that about 1,500 iOS apps in Apple’s App Store have security vulnerabilities as well.

bothansAnd finally, last week’s new teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens not only put a lump in the throat and a hope in the heart of many a Generation Xer, it also gave a bump to Disney’s stock price. Although the stock got a brief $2 billion dollar goose after the trailer’s debut, share prices dipped back into normal territory the next day. But The Force Awakens was not the only Star Wars news last week. At the Star Wars Celebration expo in California, Disney and Lucasfilm executives shared details for a new film Rogue One, which will be a standalone chapter in the new Star Wars Anthology series. Rogue One is set between the events of Episode III and IV and is supposed to tell the story of how the rebels stole the plans to the Death Star in the first place. The new film is said to be darker in tone than the films in the two trilogies, and is due out December 2016. Let’s raise a glass to the Bothans for finally getting their story told. L’chaim, Bothans!

PTJ 84: Facebook Drones And Bitcoin Heists

J.D. goes all Winslow Homer on us this week and introduces us to apps she uses to convert photos into digital works of art on her smartphone.  In the news, Samsung reportedly spends $20 million on Oscars product placement; Facebook looks to fill the sky with drones; Radio Shack closes 1100 of its retail stores; the US Department of Justice sides with broadcasters in fight with Aereo; Google barge ordered to pull up anchor and scram; Sony’s PS4 arrives in Japan; and Pizza Hut developing an interactive touchscreen pizza-ordering table.

Paint Job

Far from those blurry VGA days of early mobile photography, smartphone camera are getting better and better. These days, 8 to 16 megapixels of resolution are not uncommon on some models, as well as other features like selective focus, add-on lenses and HDR. It all adds up to the ability to produce amazing pictures on the same device you use to talk to your Mom and program the DVR over the Internet. Along with the built-in software that comes with your handset, plenty of third-party photo apps can make your pictures look even better — or more unique.

We’ve all seen filter apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic, which can be great if they produce the effects you’re trying to achieve with your pictures. If you really want that hand-made touch, consider apps that turn your pictures into digital paintings. Through filters and algorithms, these apps cam make your photo of the Empire State Building look like a painting of the Empire State Building. 

If you’ve got an Android phone, check out apps like the Photo Painter, which sells for a whopping $1.49. There’s also the free Oil Painting (shown above), Photo Oil Painter and Camera Illusion, all for Android. Camera Zoom FX, which is $2.99 and considered by many to be one of the best camera apps around, also has some artistic filters you can use to give your photos a new look.

WaterlogueBeeps

If you’re rocking an iOS device, you have plenty of apps to choose from as well. Waterlogue is one app that transforms your photos into digital watercolor paintings. For a mere $3, it does incredibly nice work, as shown directly above. Other options for the iPhone and its ilk include Paint FX for $2.99, AutoPainter for about a buck. Although it’s $7.99, the SketchMee app for iOS does a lovely job transforming your photos, especially portraits, into pencil-sketch art; the same company also has apps that can give your photos the oil-painting treatment, too.

And don’t forget the filters and other features of Adobe Photoshop Touch for either iOS or Android. It’s $4.99 for the phone version and $9.99 for the tablet edition. And those with Windows Phone 8 handsets can tinker with images with Microsoft’s free Fresh Paint app. (These apps are just the tip of the iceberg, so spend some time in your local app store and see what suits you best from the dozens of options for every platform.)

And once you’ve made art out of your photos, wouldn’t it be cool to display them as art?  Many images make great desktop wallpaper, but some would look even better hanging on the wall.  If you want to go that route and print out your image, make sure your chosen app can output decent-size files — none of this 90 KB stuff.

Unless you’ve got a bunch of pro-quality printers around, you need to output the file to your computerand upload it to a digital-imaging service; you may also be able to upload it directly from your phone. Going for the art-museum approach? Use a service that outputs digital photos onto canvas or high-quality paper, suitable for framing.

If you’ve never heard of canvas printing, there are specialty services like CanvasPop and Canvas on Demand, for starters. Photo-printing companies you may already use, like Snapfish and Shutterfly, offer canvas-printing options alongside calendars, mugs, posters and everything else they can do with your uploaded images. Time-honored photo-finishers like Walgreens and Costco can also do canvas prints, too.

As you might expect from material costs, canvas prints are a bit more expensive than your glossy or matte 4 x 6 photos. Prices start around $30 for a smaller size in the 8 x 10 range, but it’s do-it-yourself art — no expensive supplies needed. Your kids won’t sit still for more than five seconds? Snap ’em and app ’em — and boom — you have an arty portrait of the brood, just in time to get it printed and framed for Grandma’s birthday.