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The New Flickr Pro

Today I noticed a new stats page for Flickr. Flickr has the last year gone through a lot of changes. Mostly to the better.

Recent changes are:

  • New and improved stats, including improved navigation for viewing data on your photos, providing better insight on your most popular and impactful photos.
  • Ad-free experience (both on your own photos and when viewing everyone else’s photos)
  • Pro badge highlighted on your account

The statistics page provides a better view of where visitors come from: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumbler. And you also get a better overview of search terms used to see your photos. All in all, a really good improvement.

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Microsoft Office: Save to Cloud services

One of the new things I like about Office 2013, is that the office packing is capable of connecting with other cloud services then Office 365 and OneDrive. Recently Google released a Google Drive plug-in for Microsoft Office and it plays fantastic along with a Chrome plug-in that let you launch desktop apps from inside Google Drive. Using the new Google Drive plug-in, people using Office for Windows can now open their Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents stored in Drive, then save any changes back to Drive once they’re done.

The Google Drive plug-in for Microsoft Office is for now only available for Windows, but let us hope that a similar integration will be made available for Office 2016 for Mac.

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Android 5.1 for my Sony Xperia Z3

Seems like Sony is getting the hang of upgrading Android with newer versions across their product line.

They’ve released their Android 5.1, Lollipop upgrade for Xperia Z3, Xperia Z3 Compact, Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, Xperia Z2 and Xperia Z2 Tablet. It is not only an upgrade of the stock Android, but also includes improvement to their own camera app and new functionality with a SmartWear integration – selfie snapping made that bit easier, with SmartWatch 3 as a remote shutter button. For the few of us having such a watch!

Oh well, no update available for my phone as I write this. But I will continue checking…

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Windows 10 with auto update

This morning I read an article on Boy Genius Report on how wrong Gordon Kelly from Forbes where in not recommending users to upgrade to Windows 10 Home Edition. Oh yes, also this version of Windows will come in many flavors!

I guess the Home Edition would be sufficient for most of us, but not for all of us. My critics are the following, what else should the enduser use? Windows 7 and 8 will soon enough not be supported any more. Microsoft like Apple and Google, wants to limit their costs on maintaining older platforms. Is that wrong?

More concrete, is forcing updates on users wrong? How many of us have helped our parents or neighbors over time and found that nothing is updated since last time we helped them? Is keeping these machines and users safe and secured in any way wrong? Why is Gordon Kelly and Forbes worried that Microsoft is trying to pull a sneaky trick over on its user base? Are they just as concerned when Google pulls the same trick on the Chromebook platform?

Go Microsoft, go! This is the right thing to do and should perhaps be done on other versions of Windows 10 as well.

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Facebook Hello

Yesterday Facebook came with a new app for Android, Facebook Hello. I’m not surprised that this app comes from the Messenger team. Facebook just announced some changes to the timeline, letting you see more of what your friends are posting instead of pages. And in Facebook’s eyes your friends are those you communicate most with, and what better way then to harvest this data from Messenger and now Hello?

Hello replaces the default dialer app on your Android phone. But it does a little bit more then that, as it also connects with Facebook so you can see who’s calling, block unwanted calls and search for people and places. If your Facebook contact doesn’t have a phone number published, no worries, Hello makes it possible to call the person through the Messenger app! I find myself calling from Facebook Messenger more and more often. Sound quality is just awesome!

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Facebook is only offering Hello in Brazil, Nigeria and the US right now, but it won’t be surprising if the app spreads elsewhere before long. It is by the way already fully translated in to Norwegian and telling me that my phone just got smarter!

TechCrunch has a lengthy newsupdate on Facebook Hello, also talking with the Hello Product Manager Andrea Vaccari worth reading.

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Trip to St. Petersburg

I was sent off to get to know and work at Norwegian University Center in St. Petersburg. March may not be the best time to visit the city, as spring was not quite there yet. But never the less I had three cold, but beautiful days there with lots of sunshine. Here is a summary of the things that I got to see in St. Petersburg.

First a few facts about the city. Saint Petersburg (Russian: Санкт-Петербург) is the second largest city in Russia with about 5 million inhabitants. It was founded by Tsar Peter the Great on May 27 1703. Between 1713–1728 and 1732–1918, Saint Petersburg was the imperial capital of Russia. In 1914 the name of the city was changed from Saint Petersburg to Petrograd (Russian: Петроград), in 1924 to Leningrad (Russian: Ленинград), and in 1991, back to Saint Petersburg.

Saint Petersburg was founded upon a swamp, with little sunlight, and it was said only cabbages and turnips would grow there. It was forbidden to fell trees for fuel, so hot water was permitted just once a week. As a result of pressed slave labour from all over the Empire, work on the city progressed quickly. It has been estimated that 200,000 people died in twenty years while building the city. A diplomat of the time, who described the city as “a heap of villages linked together, like some plantation in the West Indies“, just a few years later called it “a wonder of the world, considering its magnificent palaces“. (more…)

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Photographing Rock Ptarmigan in Oslo

Saturday morning I got up before dawn, before the last party people put their heads against their pillows, and headed for Ryen Varde, a small hill just outside of Oslo in the search for the last spot of snow. All this, just in the hope of photographing a rock ptarmigan observed here the last two weeks! I guess you got to be a little bit cuckoo to do this voluntarily… But, that’s me.

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I was successful and got series of great photos that I’ve published as a photo story on my Exposure page.

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The White-Tailed Eagles at Pusztaszer

I’ve posted a new photo story on Exposure from perhaps the greatest photo session I’ve had. Exactly two years ago I visited my good friend Bence Máté and spent two days with him in a photo hide to photo shoot the magnificent white-tailed eagles on the puszta.

Enjoy the photos and the story on my Exposure profile. I hope to have some more photo stories to share with you this spring, so stay tuned and please subscribe to my stories.

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Facebook Group Sales

Facebook with a market changing move

Hav you noticed how many local groups there on Facebook that sell used stuff? Facebook has noticed that too! Facebook is now in picking up the battle with eBay as it announced that it will be rolling out a new set of features for Groups, allowing users to buy and sell stuff using Facebook. The new part as far as I can see it that people posting in groups on Facebook will now have the option to add whether they’re buying or selling a certain item, and include prices and shipping methods. It is sure gonna make it much easier to do this type of business.

Currently, members in those groups usually post photos of items for sale and add details in the description. With the new feature, each profile will have a list of previous items bought and sold. Facebook is only the platform where the business is being done and Facebook emphasises that it’s simply giving users a new option and is in no way affiliated or responsible for the business done. This new set of features are still in a testing phase and suddenly it make sense that Facebook made Groups in to a separate app for Android and iOS. I think the Facebook mobile app other wise would have gotten to many features included.

Facebook Groups sales mobile app

The official words from Facebook have been published in a blog post:

“We will continue to introduce new features in the coming months to help people in the For Sale Group community easily connect, browse and search” and “These new features will roll out to all Facebook For Sale Groups in the coming months across iOS, Android and web”. Facebook Group admins who would like to participate now can nominate their Group on this link.

I wonder when these features will appear in Norwegian groups, locale, regionale and nationale ones. I can see sales of used camera equipment fast move in to Facebook groups from Finn.no and Foto.no. One thing is sure, Facebook is again changing the way we do things. Social security is something perhaps only Facebook can provide. Often people will know each others in the groups, which is a garantuee that the business will go down as it is supposed to.

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In the search of the best image stitcher

I love making panorama photos and have yet to find a tool that really works for me. So far I have used the free and open source Hugin, with various success. It often failed me, but once in a while made gorgeous panoramas. I also tried the first version Image Composite Editor (ICE) of Microsoft Research, but didn’t like it and feared that as it was from the research department it would be gone tomorrow. I was almost right, the last update of the first version was done in 2011.

This week Microsoft Research released a new version with a few major improvements and also great new functionality.

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What is a panorama photo?

A panorama photo is a set of overlapping photographs of a scene shot from a single camera location, the app creates a high-resolution panorama that seamlessly combines the original images.

There are several stitching tools available for Windows and OS X, and many of them struggles being precise enough when partly overlapping photos to one big photo in the end. Modern smartphones with a good rear camera will have such a tool built in to the camera software and make panoramas on the fly.

ICE takes it one step further and can also create a panorama from a panning video, including stop-motion action overlaid on the background. Finished panoramas can be shared with friends and viewed in 3D by uploading them to the Photosynth web site.

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What makes ICE stand out

ICE is the first free consumer tool that I know of that can fill in any missing pixels around the edges of your panorama, making a smooth boundary even in cases where you missed a shot.

It has a state-of-the-art stitching engine with no image size limitation and therefor even has support for “structured panoramas” (gigapixel panoramas)— panoramas consisting of hundreds of photos taken in a rectangular grid of rows and columns (usually by a robotic device like the GigaPan tripod heads).

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@Work

Just a day before ICE v2.0 got released Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History made contact and asked if they could get ICE v1.0 installed on the student PC lab in the Conservation building. I was reluctant. As I started this blog entry, the tool had not been updated for three years. But as I learned about the new version and saw the video above, I was fast to change my mind. The PC lab will get ICE v2.0 installed and I hope to be able to follow up with a new blog entry on actual use of ICE v2.0.

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