Category Archives: Technology

Opinion: Google+ Gifs (or My gifs to You)

Warning — if you are at all sensitive to quickly moving animations, turn your images off now….

Back sometime in late June or early July I noticed something strange on my Google+ photos: many of them moved. And they were not videos. I did some investigating and discovered that Google was making gifs out of my photos. Without my knowledge or permission. Not that it was that important, but I really hate animated gifs. I thought they were ugly in the 1990s and I think they are ugly in 2013. They are distracting and take away all semblance of professionalism.

What Google was / is doing is taking photos that were shot within seconds of each other and stitching them together to make mini-animations. For instance I took a bunch of photographs of various family members holding my grand-nephew at a family picnic and when I saw them on my Google+ page the photos were all part of a new photo/animation/gif. (although the photos were there as well)

Jill and Preston with grumpy Dean int he background
Jill and Preston with grumpy Dean in the background
Jill, Preston, Brandon, Ashley, Steven
Jill, Preston, Brandon, and Ashley

When I took a lot of photos of the flower girls and other children dancing at a wedding Google+ made a rather cute animation. (okay, not all the gifs are bad)

Dancing flowergirls
Dancing flower girls
Dancing flowergirls
Dancing flower girls

Then, a week or so ago I took a photo of Rupert in front of a snowy scene. What did Google+ do? Made it snow in front of Rupert. In the house.

Rupert in the snow.
Rupert in the snow.

A few days later I took a photo of a Christmas tree in Bethesda. Google made the lights twinkle. (okay, that was kinda cool).

Estrogen Alley tree
Estrogen Alley tree

I took a photograph of our Christmas tree, and again, Google made the lights twinkle.

Christmas tree
Our Twinkly Christmas Tree

So, while I don’t like most of the stitched together gifs, I don’t mind the twinkles.

Merry Christmas!

My Chromecast

I learned about the Chromecast a day after it was announced by Google. It looked way cool, but I resisted buying it even though it was cheap ($35) and I am a complete Android whore. It was not until I heard it was out of stock at Google that I decided to purchase it.

I awaited its arrival with anticipation, especially after reading all of the glowing reviews. (EASY SETUP!) I was sure it would be the answer to everything. (HOW CHROMECAST WILL CHANGE TELEVISION FOREVER!)

It arrived on my birthday (and was my only birthday present except for a bag of Skittles Dean left under my pillow before he left for Munich) and I tried to set it up on the basement television to watch Orange is the New Black with Clare. Because my computer was in the attic and because my phone was elsewhere, I tried to use Clare’s computer to set up my new Chromecast.  For some reason one thing would not connect with another, so I gave up and tried on my bedroom TV, leaving Clare to watch the program on her computer.

My TV worked much better, however, there is something the glowing reviews and ads don’t tell you — you need to plug it in. I thought that all you had to do was push the Chromecast into an available HDMI port, but you also have to plug the Chromecast into either an electrical outlet or into a USB port on your TV. I don’t think my basement TV has one of those and I am not sure my Bedroom TV has one either.

Another thing I didn’t realize was that you can only use Netflix; Google Play Movies, TV or Music; or YouTube from your phone. Your computer has more options, but the quality is much worse.

I’d envisioned using the Chromecast for work — easily displaying my PowerPoint presentation and demos of JAWS screen reading software onto huge televisions, but I am pretty sure that is not going to work. I also envisioned being able to cast my screen on a huge screen to do everyday tasks like remediate PDFs or prepare for PDF accessibility training. I am not sure how I will be able to do that either.

Don’t get me wrong, the Chromecast works amazingly well for a couple of programs, but I already own 3 Rokus and 1 BlueRay player that do the same.

I feel that I bought into the hype over the Chromecast far before it was truly unique. Maybe it will offer things that other streaming devices do not offer, but as for now I could have easily watched Orange is the New Black on my Roku or Sony device.

A tale of two images

Within the course of less than 12 hours I received two surprise images through the Internet.

The first one arrived via twitter and was an illustration to go along with a blog entry from a couple of days ago. The artist is an old Internet buddy I have followed since my Sidekick days. What a treat! I’ve added it to the Owl-Focals entry. Now I think I understand my story better.

owlfocals
Dona reading with her owl-focals. Image by Mike Popovic

The second was from a stranger via a comment on this blog:

Dad’s photo. Before and after it was Photoshopped.

Hi Dona…..I was searching Google for some old photos in need of restoration to hone my Photoshop skills. I came across the one of your father and thought it a perfect candidate. Not only was it in desperate shape, but he seemed to embody the mettle of a generation unlike we will ever see again.
Needless to say, I wanted to share the picture with you and yours. That generation is leaving us all too quickly and it was an honor for me to get this sailor ready for inspection. I hope you enjoy the picture as much as I enjoyed restoring it.

Thanks!

Gary

It most certainly looks better. However, the Photoshopping took away the twinkle in Dad’s eye and the smart-ass grin that is just about ready to appear on his face. I know that look — he’s about to tell an off-color joke. When I remember my dad it’s the twinkle and the grin I remember most.