Tag Archives: Picnik

Is Picasa the Only Software for Managing all your Travel Pictures?

by Chris Guld, www.GeeksOnTour.com Aren’t digital cameras great?!  Just snap away to your heart’s content, no worries about wasting film, or costing more money, or taking up more space.  You can see right away if you captured the image you wanted, and take more shots if you didn’t.   I’ve been known to take over 100 pictures in any given day when we’re traveling thru beautiful countryside.  For RVers, like us, you can quickly rack up thousands of pictures! 

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Now what?

If you put your pictures onto your computer, which we think you should, then you have lots of choices for what software to use for managing and editing them.  At Geeks on Tour, we’ve been evangelists for Picasa over 7 years now.  It’s a free program that you download to your computer from Google.  We teach several seminars on it, produced over 60 tutorial videos, have a website dedicated to Picasa, and wrote a book on it!    But, we know it’s not the only game in town.  Many people with Macintosh computers are very happy with iPhoto which comes preinstalled on their Macs – even though Picasa does have a fully compatible Macintosh version.  On Windows computers, the gold standard photo editing program is Adobe Photoshop ($700!) or Photoshop Elements ($99.)  There are also several free programs, including Microsoft’s offering – Windows Live Photo Gallery, and a full featured, Photoshop workalike called GIMP.

Why we Still Like Picasa the Best

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As you can see from the crowd of over 700 people in one of our Picasa Seminars for FMCA, Picasa is very popular.  The free price certainly has something to do with that, but Picasa also gives you the greatest capability for the least effort.  When we started teaching Picasa about 7 years ago, it was drop-dead easy.  Over the years, Google has added more and more features.  Some areas have now become a bit complex, but it’s still pretty darned easy, especially compared to the full-featured image editors like Photoshop or GIMP.  Before Picasa, I used a program called Fireworks – generally in the same class as Photoshop.  It would take me 1 – 2 hours every time I went thru my process with the day’s 50 or so photos, when I switched to Picasa, the time shortened to about 15 minutes! 

IMG_1712-003The closest competitors to Picasa in ease of use are iPhoto and Photo Gallery.  They even have some features that are an improvement over Picasa.  iPhoto gives you multiple ways to view your pictures in location on a map, better slideshow features, and built in ways to make cards and books.  Photo Gallery has that cool photo fuse feature where you can replace one person in a group shot, it has a Panorama feature that Picasa lacks, and I like the way tags are handled better in Photo Gallery.  I actually considered switching to Photo Gallery but then realized that I simply could not live without Picasa’s features of Text on photos, or combining pictures in a Collage.  And Photo Gallery as well as iPhoto only have a fraction of Picasa’s photo editing features.  I have so much fun just trying all the different single-click effects, then undoing them if I don’t like it.

What about Flickr, or Snapfish, or SmugMug?

I talk to many people who say, ‘Oh, I don’t use Picasa, I use Snapfish.’  They don’t understand.  Picasa is software on your computer for working with pictures on your computer.  No Internet involved.  Flickr, Snapfish and SmugMug are photo sharing websites.  Google also offers a photo-sharing website called Picasa Web Albums, but Picasa and Picasa Web Albums each can stand on their own without the other.  So, “I don’t use Picasa Web Albums because I use Snapfish.” would make sense, but I would still ask them what they use to edit their pictures on their computer.  Maybe they use nothing – just copying the pictures from the camera to their computer, then uploading them directly to Snapfish.  Oh what they’re missing! 

Is Picasa going Away?

picnikGoogle is going thru a lot of transition these days, with their social network – Google + – leading the pack.  They made an announcement a few months back that Picnik is closing on April 19.  Picnik was an online photo editing website that Google bought last year.  They linked it to Picasa with a button along with Picasa’s main editing tools.  Now they’re taking it away, and that is starting a lot of rumors about the future of Picasa.  Many of the cool photo editing tools that were developed at Picnik are now incorporated directly into Picasa 3.9, and many more have become part of the online photo editing available thru Google Plus.  The Picasa desktop product is still very strong at Google.  Google is certainly not above killing product lines, but they do it with failures, not stars.

That said, Picasa may very well be renamed to Google Photos.  It’s certainly appropriate that a star product be recognized by the company’s brand – and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they used the April 19 date to make that happen.   If that happens, I sure hope they do something to distinguish between the online photo-sharing software and the desktop photo management software.  Over and over again, I ‘ve had to explain the difference between Picasa (desktop software) and Picasa Web Albums (online photo-sharing.)  It would be even worse to have Google Photos (desktop software) and Google Plus Photos (online photo-sharing) !!

The Best Software is the One you Know How to Use!

The bottom line with any computer software is knowing how to use it.  You’ll accomplish a lot more with a half-good program that you understand, than with the cream of the crop that you can’t figure out.  I’ll keep using – and teaching – Picasa because I understand it inside and out.  Whenever they come out with new features, like the side-by-side editing introduced in version 3.9, you can count on new videos like the one -below from GeeksOnTour.  Sign up for our free Picasa Tip-of-the-Week if you want to stay on top of all things Picasa!

Geeks On Tour is Jim and Chris Guld. They have been traveling the US in their RV since 2003. They teach fellow travelers how to use computers and technology to plan, preserve, and share their travels. They have both been involved in professional computer support and training since the early 80s. They maintain a family of websites including www.picasatutorials.com containing hundreds of articles, and www.geeksontour.com where members can watch tutorial videos on all their topics.

Facebook vs Google+

facebookI use Facebook a lot.  I frequently post pictures and little snippets about my life on Facebook.  My Droid smartphone has a Facebook app that allows me to upload the pictures I take with my phone with just a couple of taps.  I love the new timeline feature where I can see my life laid out by year and month.  Most of my friends are on Facebook.  I like being able to keep up with their lives all at once when I open Facebook and see my newsfeed.  I’ve been using Facebook since 2008, I’ve studied it in depth so I can teach it. I understand Facebook

Can Google+ Beat Facebook?

Google+ is a Social Network like Facebook.  Google+ was just launched in 2011.  We don’t know how many people are on it, but it has a long way to go to catch up with Facebook.  I’m trying to get to know Google+ and I’m not having an easy time of it.  Not because it’s more difficult than Facebook but just because it is different, and I already know Facebook.  Understanding Facebook does not directly translate to Google+.  With 850 million people on Facebook, I view it as a directory – the white pages – for the people of the world.  I don’t think there’s a place for two such directories.

Google That said, Google+ does have some cool features. 

  • Google Hangout gives you an instant, easy way to video chat with a group of people.  You can also share your screen, or watch a YouTube video together. 
  • Since Picasa is also owned by Google, you can expect more and more of Picasa’s features to be showing up in Google+.  They’ve already taken what used to be Picnik and put the basic editing features right in with the online pictures.  Google+ accounts allow you to upload an unlimited number of pictures.  With Picasa Web Albums, you were limited to 1GB.
  • I have installed the Google+ app on my Smartphone and now, any picture I take with my phone gets uploaded automatically.  They start out as private, but you can then share them with whoever you want.  Nothing to think about … I took a picture with my phone – I can look at it on my computer.
  • When I write a Blog post with Blogger (owned by Google) I can automatically share that to my Google+ profile

The biggest problem with Google+ as a social network is that all my friends are on Facebook!  Some have migrated to Google+ but, just like me, they keep going back to Facebook because that’s where their friends are!  That’s a big obstacle for Google+ to overcome. 

We had a question in our Forum this month from a member who was unhappy that her Picasa Upload button had turned into a ‘Share with Google+’ button.  She didn’t want to share with Google+ because she likes the specific features in Picasa Web Albums.  In the forum thread we discussed the procedure to remove Google+ so she could continue with Picasa Web Albums as before.  Check out the forum question and answer if you’re wondering the same. 

Better yet, register for our Techno-Geek Learning Rally April 22-28 in Bushnell, Florida.  We’ll be having lots of seminars as well as hands-on classes with Picasa.  We’ll be able to compare notes on Google+, Facebook, and Picasa Web Albums. Our co-hosts from TechnoRV use Macintosh and iPhoto.  This will be a valuable assembly of computer knowledge for travelers – and don’t worry, we’re known for being best with beginners!

Picasa’s Latest: Picnik for online Photo Editing

I had never heard of the website Picnik.com until I got the message that Google bought Picnik as part of the Picasa group.  Picnik has been around for a while as an online editing tool for photos that you upload from your computer, or that you link to on Picasa Web Albums and many other Photo Sharing Websites like Flickr, Facebook, and Photo Bucket.image

Why would you want to use Picnik?

If you don’t have Picasa or any other program on your computer for cropping, color-correcting, and retouching your photos, Picnik will do it for you completely web-based.  Even if you do have Picasa, Picnik has features that Picasa lacks, like the ability to add frames and round the corners, callouts, and special clipart images called ‘stickers.’  Here’s the results from my playing for just a few minutes with one of my photos:

 

Is Picnik Free?

Yes and No.  A lot of the editing tools, frames, and stickers are completely free.  You can start using Picnik for free.  Then, you may discover some more advanced tools, like Curves, Levels, and Cloning, that require a Premium Account.  For $24.95/year you get all the tools, plus Priority Help Support.

What Will Google Do?

Hopefully they’ll make it faster.  Picnik is very bandwidth intensive, if you have a slow connection, you better have a lot of patience!   I expect that Google will keep maintaining the Picasa software for your computer, but they are looking to the future when nothing is on your computer!  Your pictures will go directly online from the camera to Picasa Web Albums, and you’ll do your editing with Picnik. I’m certainly not ready for this yet .. but that’s what my crystal ball sees for 5-10 years from now.