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Picasa vs. iPhoto vs. Flickr vs. Panoramio

Ledges along Doan Brook in ClevelandEarlier I mentioned that I have some photos uploaded to Panoramio. I’ve also played with Flickr off and on, and have recently started uploading some photos there as well. To add to the confusion, I use Picasa to manage photos on my hard drive, and my wife uses iPhoto on her Mac. Picasa has a web albums feature, and I’m sure iPhoto has something similar with a .Mac account.

Why use four different services that overlap each other to such a degree? Picasa and iPhoto both do the important job of managing photos locally, Flickr seems to have the largest community and the most widgets written for it, and Panoramio integrates with Google Earth. Since I want to do all those things, I have to use them all.

There are ways to make them play nice together. You can use a Gmail account to email photos from Picasa to Flickr, and so far it seems to work fairly well. There are a few iPhoto plugins to upload to Flickr and you can use iPhoto to subscribe to Flickr photostreams. Google just bought Panoramio, so I’m sure there will be more integration there soon as well.

Even with all these options, there are some annoyances. Picasa’s keyword tagging is not very useful, it only allows one-word tags. I tried creating multi-word tags with dashes or by enclosing them in quotes, but Picasa ate the special characters. There’s also the complication of managing public photos vs private photos.

Still, it is amazing how well these different websites and programs work together, through the magic of RSS, web API, and plain old email.

If you’d like, you can see my Flickr photos here. You can also see my photos in Panoramio, or just look close enough in Google Earth, since a few of my photos now how up there.

Data Visualization with Maps

One of the best ways to show relationships in data is also one of the oldest: maps. There are lots of cool, fun visualizations out there like topic maps and tag clouds, but sometimes they emphasize form over function (and usability). Maps can be a great choice, even if your data is not directly geographical.

Here’s one example: a map of the United States showing where people use the terms “soda,” “pop,” or “coke.”

You might think this one was a pretty obvious choice, but you could definitely imagine someone using a pie chart to show the total percentages instead, throwing out a ton of information in the process.

Here’s one that’s a little more clever: a map of the United States, which each state labeled by a country with the same GDP. from strange maps.

states-gdp.png

Now, you could argue with the precision of presentation since most people don’t know the exact GDP of Algeria off the top of their heads. But show them a table of figures and ten minutes later they still won’t know. This is a much more interesting and memorable presentation of the data.

How mainstream is your music taste, and which reviewer should you believe?

Here’s something interesting: the Last.fm mainstream-o-meter. Apparently my music tastes are 41.48% mainstream, at least within the Last.fm community. The biggest boost to my mainstreamness is Radiohead, which is listened to by an astounding 103.56% of Last.fm users.

Last.fm no doubt attracts a skewed population, but I do have to say I’m surprised that it continues to differ from radio playlists and CD sales. Radiohead is a perfect example – from my sampling of commercial radio over the past few years I would say they are almost completely absent. Yet a large number of people listen to Radiohead on their PCs.

Next up is a page that tells you which movie reviewer has tastes that best match yours. I’m sure we’ve all read reviews online or in the local paper and wondered if the reviewer saw the same movie. With sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, you’re n longer limited to the opinions of a few writers. The average scores on those sites are interesting, but still don’t always match my tastes or your tastes. This will give you some names to look out for.