Archive for the ‘Beta Sniper’ Category

Beta Sniper: Picasa 3

Posted: October 9, 2008 in Beta Sniper
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Picasa 3 is a worthy update that any picasa user may try out. I am not going into a detailed feature review. But I am going to touch on a few things that everyone should watch out for when the final edition comes out.

Picasa Photo Viewer: This was the only option that picasa lagged. And now it has arrived. You can configure picasa to open files and browse through them all you want. The ribbon like picture sifter at the bottom of the screen is pretty handy. But few things are still required.  First, a setting for controlling the zoom level in the picture viewing window. I have some photos which look miniscule on my 20 inch. I need them to appear at a certain level of zoom everytime I open them. ACDSee had such an option and it made all the difference. Secondly, I need some control over the slideshow mode. The options setting from the picture viewer doesn’t let you do much. At least a timer control would be nice. But I loved the keyboard and mouse based zoom in zoom out and also faded and transparent background that shows the desktop while you are viewing a smaller photo. Oh, you can upload from the photo viewer as long as you are logged into the web album. Loved that part, makes photo upload a piece of cake.

Videos: Ever tried making videos from you photos? Quite a cumbersome task if all you want is to just put a track at the back and some captions at the bottom. Take it from someone who has used quite a lot of video editing options, Picasa3 is the best option for you to make videos out of your pics. The effects are pretty simple, and there are not a bunch of options for editing and text effects. But for making a simpe slideshow, video with a music track, customized timing, and text caption, Picasa3 is by far the best software out there. Best of all? You can directly upload to Youtube from the software

Collages: Now there is a lot more control over the collages you create. The previous pathatic click-and-hope-everything-turns-out-the-best approach is gone. Now you can rotate, change, mix and match and do a bunch of things to the picture pile you just created. Have fun with your background people. That’s what my collages are usually for 🙂

GeoTag: Does exactly what it says. Couple it with Google Earth and you can place your photos on the exact spot that they were taken.

Other things to look out for are the options to make posters, posting to blog and many other teeny tiny improvements. The overall sorting and shuffling and archiving and other functions are better. The whole interface contains little tweaks that make the experience a lot better. Try it out, you’ll see.

Some experimental features are also on this beta. And some of those should make it to the end product. And the one I want most is

Find Duplicates: I have millions of duplicates of my photos and I really need something to sort them out. The experimental feature doesn’t show all duplicates side by side, but that should not be a problem to fix. To the guys and gals at Picasa, “Please make this work right.”

Another killer feature would be the ability to export all your photos to a single place. Sort of like the iTunes music folder organizer option. There might be something already in Picasa for this, but in case there isn’t, “Could you please make this happen as well.”

You can download Picasa 3 beta from here


Before going into a feature for feature review of Chrome and Firefox I’d just like to point out something. At this point Chrome is at a very early Beta. It is supposed to be buggy and underperforming than the others. I shall point out where each browser does well. In the future whoever builds on their own strengths while copying good stuff from everyone else will be the final winner.

Feature against Feature Review:

  • Startup Time and Speed: This is what got me interested in Chrome. Even in my Core 2 Duo, 1 GB RAM mahcine FF takes a second or two to fire up. But Chrome was almost instantaneous. I open and close my browser quite a few times over the day, those two seconds matter to me. Period. Chrome also performed pretty well in processing Java based apps like Gmail. FF 0 Chrome 1
  • Memory Management: Conceptually Chrome is a clear winner with seprate tab processing and stoppage of memory leaks. However, it still doesn’t play well with some of the plugins, especially Flash. So a visit to Youtube and other flash based websites are quite disastrous. This has been an improvement area for FF for too long, particularly on the issue of memory leaks. I’m just sad that Google got the concept right on this early beta. (I’m a FF fanboy) If you use non-flash websites and open a few tabs, Chrome takes much less memory. Closing the tabs also frees up more memory in Chrome than FF. FF 0 Chrome 2
  • Look and Feel: Chromes tab-at-at-the-top, omnibox, translucent windows, lack of a statusbar works for me. I like the small animations in moving tabs, starting downloads,  closing and opening windows, reattaching and reorganizing tabs. They just make a mundane task a little bit bearable. I also like the option to use web apps through stand alone shortcuts. FF 0 Chrome 3
  • Javascript and Other Support: Yes chrome was faster, but it still does not play too well with a lot of Google’s own websites. And in some Ajax based sites, particularly Facebook, it couldn’t process some codes properly and they showed up beside text boxes and other places. For now at least, FF 2 Chrome 3 (This is worth 2 points to me on any day)
  • Plugins and Customizability: Chrome doesn’t even come close to FF. A lot of Chrome and Operas features can be mimicked through plugins. This advantage alone is worth three points to FF. However, I should point out that Google plans to bring plugin support to Chrome and if only a few major FF plugins make it to Chrome then the whole game would change. FF 5 Chrome 3
  • Omnibox vs. Awesome Bar: I’d say I like both. Neither is a clear winner yet. I like the search engine integration in chrome. But FF is better at giving suggestions from history and bookmarks. Somehow I felt Omnibox was a bit confusing, but that maybe just from lack of familiarity. But all in all it’s a draw. FF 5 Chrome 3

To summarize, Chrome is not ready for mainstream yet. It excels in unchartered territories, but lacks in the common ground. I can guess that Chrome will learn to play a lot better and will sort out a lot of the kinks. I am amazed that Chrome works with so many websites at such an early stage. If they listen to the feature requests and bug reports (which I think they will), Chrome has the potential to be at the top. However, I’ll be sticking to Firefox for the days to come. Having said that, I’m not going to uninstall chrome either. Because when Chrome hits 1.0

I just might switch.

Google Chrome is the new browser from, uh, Google. It is the search behemoths take on the frontier mostly dominated by Internet Explorer (IE) and Firefox. Till august, according to Browser Statistics, IE had 50.6%, Firefox had 43.7%, Safari had 2.6% and others had 2.6% share of the worldwide browser share.

The obvious question at this point is where will Chrome fit into that mesh? Will it capture the market from IE or will crash onto the others. Being a loyal Firefox user and lover myself, I felt the threat for my faithful companion. Therefore, I applied the first rule of battle, to defeat your enemy, know him first. Here is my take on the first public beta of Google Chrome.

  1. Interface: Firefox has a pretty good interface with the option to add anything and everything with the help of plugins. I’m sorry to say (as I wanted Firefox to win), Chrome blows it away. The simple clean interface with just the right options blew my mind completely. I love the recent site screenshots, the one-box-for-everything, the graying out of the coding mumbo-jumbo part of a url. The tab system is simple, yet very effective. I just wish they’d include a theme support so that I could change colours. Creating application shortcuts is a wonderful new option. Mozilla had a project called Prism which did the same thing but you had to load another software for it. This one is much better.
  2. Speed: This is where chrome shines. All google apps work much faster, as you’d expect. But other apps are not behind. Facebook works much better than it does on my firefox and so does the other java based websites. It’s mind blowing!
  3. Feature: Chrome’s best features are much deeper than its skin. It manages memory much better. My plugin laddened firefox takes up more than 60 megs when it starts up, chrome started with only 40. And the new tabs took much less space as well. And most amazingly chrome supports those features already (well, most of them. I’d like to have flashgot, sxipper and adblock please!). For more details on behind the screen advancements, check out this fantastic Comic based document.  As for the visible features. Let me take on them one by one.
  • One Box for everything: Works for me. However, the search suggestions take some time to load in slower connections. But the same thing is present in Firefox, no big improvements there
  • New Tab Page: Like Opera’s quick dial page which you can mimic in Firefox with a plugin. I like that it updates based on my recently visited pages and their frequency. However, I’d like to have some control over what stays where. That is, I’d like to organize the box links, put in links that I want to appear there and change icons for each link box. One other thing that I like is that if you open a link from a page in a new tab the tab opens right next the page you linked from. Nifty!
  • Dynamic Tabs: Detaching tabs from windows reattaching tabs together in one window, again, works for me
  • Crash Control: Marvellous. I just don’t know how many times I’ve wished that one tab would trash the whole browser. Thank you! Thank you so much!
  • Incognito Mode: I know a few people who might switch just to have this option :D. In this mode whatever you browse is excluded from cache and history. For those who browse in the office, this might make all the difference.
  • Safe Browsing: Just like firefox, identifies dangerous and suspicious sites. No big leap over FF as far as I can see.
  • Instant Bookmarks: A direct steal from Firefox 3. You copycat, you! It is an excellent option for one click bookmarking, I just wish they’d automatically categorize it as well (You listening Google?)
  • Settigns Importer: Makes the transition very simple. Same as FF
  • Download Manager: A beauty in itself. Simple interface, wonderful search option and excellent handling of downloads. However, it doesn’t support download resuming which is a huge letdown. Another thing that I’d love to have is multi-part downloading and built in torrent support (the last one is a bit too much, I know. Still keeping my fingers crossed)
  • Look and Feel: This is where chrome is a clear winner than both FF and IE. However they still have a thing oe two to learn from Safari. The tab animation, drag and drop animation, download animation everything is excellent looking and quite informative. Kudos to Google for this one.

All in all, Chrome is an excellent browser in the making. FF could definitely learn a thing or two from here. As for IE, I haven’t used it in the last 2 years and will not be using it anytime soon. They better learn a lot from these two. Better still, Microsoft could simply replace IE with FF as the default browser (like that’s gonna happen!).

As for me, I am not switching to Chrome right now, but (I’m sorry to say this FireFox, I really am)

I just might.