Trying out Google PhotoScan

Today Google came out with a new app called Pho­to­Scan that will scan your old pho­to col­lec­tion. Like just every­one, I have stash­es of shoe­box­es inher­it­ed from par­ents full of pic­tures. Some were scanned in a scan­ner, back when I had one that was com­pat­i­ble with a com­put­er. More recent­ly, I’ve used scan­ning apps like Readdle’s Scan­ner Pro and Scan­bot. These de-skew the pho­tographs of the pho­tos that your phone takes but the resolution’s is not always the best and there can be some glare from over­head lights, espe­cial­ly when you’re work­ing with a glossy orig­i­nal pic­tures.

Google’s approach clev­er­ly stitch­es togeth­er mul­ti­ple pho­tos. It uses a process much like their 360-degree pho­to app: you start with a overview pho­to. Once tak­en, you see four cir­cles hov­er­ing to the sides of the pic­ture. Move the cam­era to each and it takes more pic­tures. Once you’ve gone over all four cir­cles, Google stitch­es these five pho­tos togeth­er in such a way that there’s no per­spec­tive dis­tor­tion.

What’s remark­able is the speed. I scanned 15 pho­tos in while also mak­ing din­ner for the kids. The dimen­sions of all looked good and the res­o­lu­tion looks about as good as the orig­i­nal. These are good results for some­thing so easy.

Check out Google’s announce­ment blog post for details.

Quick scans from an envelope inherited from my mom.

QuakerQuaker on the move

Crossposting from QuakerQuaker:

Cardboard boxes in apartment, moving day

The biggest changes in half a decade are coming to QuakerQuaker. The Ning.com service that powers the main website is about to increase its monthly charge by 140 percent. When I first picked Ning to host the three-year-old QuakerQuaker project in 2008, it seemed like a smart move. Ning had recently been founded by tech world rock stars with access to stratospheric-level funds. But it never quite got traction and started dialing back its ambitions in 2010. It was sold and sold again and a long-announced new version never materialized. I've been warning people against starting new projects on it for years. Its limitations have become clearer with every passing year. But it's continued to work and a healthy community has kept the content on QuakerQuaker interesting. But I don't get enough donations to cover a 140 percent increase, and even if I did it's not worth it for a service stuck in 2010. It's time to evolve!

There are many interesting things I could build with a modern web platform. Initial research and some feedback from fellow Quaker techies has me interested in BuddyPress, an expanded and social version of the ubiquitous WordPress blogging system. It has plugins available that claim to move content from existing Ning sites to BuddyPress, leaving the tantalizing possibility that eight years of the online Quaker conversation can be maintained (wow!).

I will need funds for the move. The subscriptions to do the import/export will incur costs and there will be plugins and themes to buy. I'm mentally budgeting an open-ended number of late Saturday nights. And the personal computer we have is getting old. The charge doesn't hold and keys are starting to go. It will need replacement sooner rather than later.

Any donations Friends could make to the Paypal account would be very helpful for the move. You can start by going to http://bit.ly/quakergive. Other options are available on the donation page at http://www.quakerquaker.org/page/support. Thanks for whatever you can spare. I'm as surprised as anyone that this little DIY project continues to host some many interesting Quaker conversations eleven years on!

In Friendship,
Martin Kelley for QuakerQuaker.org

Steve Jobs on his major mistake during Apple’s troubled years: “Letting…

Reshared post from +Tim O'Reilly

Steve Jobs on his major mistake during Apple's troubled years: "Letting profitability outweigh passion" http://huff.to/nNHjGY #ditto (a tweet by @stevecase) struck home for me, because in the aftermath of Jobs' death I've been thinking a lot about O'Reilly, wanting to make sure that we streamline and focus on the stuff that matters most.

Here's the money quote from the article:

"My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products," Jobs told Isaacson. "[T]he products, not the profits, were the motivation. Sculley flipped these priorities to where the goal was to make money. It's a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything."

Jobs went on to describe the legacy he hoped he would leave behind, "a company that will still stand for something a generation or two from now."

"That's what Walt Disney did," said Jobs, "and Hewlett and Packard, and the people who built Intel. They created a company to last, not just to make money. That's what I want Apple to be."
All of our greatest work at O'Reilly has been driven by passion and idealism. That includes our early forays into publishing, when we were a documentation consulting company to pay the bills but wrote documentation on the side for programs we used that didn't have any good manuals. It was those manuals, on topics that no existing tech publisher thought were important, that turned us into a tech publisher "who came out of nowhere."

In the early days of the web, we were so excited about it that +Dale Dougherty wanted to create an online magazine to celebrate the people behind it. That morphed into GNN, the Global Network Navigator, the web's first portal and first commercial ad-supported site.

In the mid-90s, realizing that no one was talking about the programs that were behind all our most successful books, I brought together a collection of free software leaders (many of whom had never met each other) to brainstorm a common story. That story redefined free software as open source, and the world hasn't been the same since. It also led to a new business for O'Reilly, as we launched our conference business to help bring visibility to these projects, which had no company marketing behind them.

Thinking deeply about open source and the internet got me thinking big ideas about the internet as operating system, and the shift of influence from software to network effects in data as the key to future applications. I was following people who at the time seemed "crazy" - but they were just living in a future that hadn't arrived for the rest of the world yet. It was around this time that I formulated our company mission of "changing the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators."

In 2003, in the dark days after the dot com bust, our company goal for the year was to reignite enthusiasm in the computer business. Two outcomes of that effort did just that: +Sara Winge 's creation of Foo Camp spawned a worldwide, grassroots movement of self-organizing "unconferences," and our Web 2.0 Conference told a big story about where the net was going and what distinguished the companies that survived the dotcom bust from those that preceded it.

In 2005, seeing the passion that was driving garage inventors to a new kind of hardware innovation, Dale once again wanted to launch a magazine to celebrate the passionate people behind the movement. This time, it was a magazine: Make: (http://makezine.com), and a year later, we launched Maker Faire (http://makerfaire.com) as a companion event. 150,000 people attended Maker Faires last year, and the next generation of startups is emerging from the ferment of the movement that Dale named.

Meanwhile, through those dark years after the dotcom bust, we also did a lot of publishing just to keep the company afloat. (With a small data science team at O'Reilly, we built a set of analytical tools that helped us understand the untapped opportunities in computer book publishing. We realized that we were playing in only about 2/5 of the market; moving into other areas that we had never been drawn to helped pay the bills, but never sparked the kind of creativity as the areas that we'd found by following our passion.)

It was at this time that I formulated an image that I've used many times since: profit in a business is like gas in a car. You don't want to run out of gas, but neither do you want to think that your road trip is a tour of gas stations.

When I think about the great persistence of Steve Jobs, there's a lesson for all of us in it.

What's so great about the Apple story is that Steve ended up making enormous amounts of money without making it a primary goal of the company. (Ditto Larry and Sergey at Google.) Contrast that with the folks who brought us the 2008 financial crisis, who were focused only on making money for themselves, while taking advantage of others in the process.

Making money through true value creation driven by the desire to make great things that last, and make the world a better place - that's the heart of what is best in capitalism. (See also the wonderful HBR blog post, Steve Jobs and the Purpose of the Corporation. http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/10/steve_jobs_and_the_purpose_of.html I also got a lot of perspective on this topic from +Leander Kahney's book, Inside Steve's Brain http://www.amazon.com/Inside-Steves-Brain-Leander-Kahney/dp/1591841984 )

Embedded Link

What Steve Jobs Learned From His Biggest Failure
Walter Isaacson's authorized biography of Steve Jobs traces the Apple co-founder's career in Silicon Valley--from its soaring highs to its crushing lows. Jobs has been hailed as a tech visionary, but ...

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Becky Thomas Ankeny’s recent message at George Fox University via Wess Danie…

Becky Thomas Ankeny’s recent mes­sage at George Fox Uni­ver­si­ty via Wess Daniels

Reshared post from +C. Wess Daniels

Becky Thomas Ankeny’s mes­sage at George Fox Chapel yes­ter­day is beau­ti­ful litany of God’s call to all peo­ple. It is espe­cial­ly meant for those who grew up in a reli­gious culture/church who told you that you can­not min­is­ter.

Embed­ded Link

George Fox Uni­ver­si­ty Chapel — GFU Chapel
One Moment Please. Con­nect­ing to iTunes U. Load­ing. George Fox Uni­ver­si­ty Chapel. GFU Chapel. We are unable to find iTunes on your com­put­er. If iTunes doesn’t open, click the iTunes appli­ca­tion ic… 

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Floating on Clouds

Last week­end I found myself with the sce­nario no solo web design­er wants to be faced with: a dead lap­top. It was eigh­teen months old and while it was from Hewlett Packard, a rep­utable com­pa­ny, it’s always had prob­lems over over­heat­ing. Like a lot of mod­ern lap­top mak­ers, HP tried to pack as much proces­sor pow­er as they could into a sleek design that would turn eyes on the store shelf. They actu­al­ly do offer some free repairs for a list of half a dozen mal­adies caused by over­heat­ing but not for my par­tic­u­lar symp­toms. When I have a free after­noon, a big pot of cof­fee and lots of music queued up I’ll give them a call and see if I can talk them into fix­ing it.

Once upon a time hav­ing a sud­den­ly dead com­put­er in the mid­dle of a bunch of big projects would have been dis­as­ter. But over the last few years I’ve been putting more and more of my data “in the cloud,” that is: with soft­ware ser­vices that store it for me.

Email in the Cloud

I used to be a die-hard Thun­der­bird fan. This is Firefox’s cousin, a great email client. I would take such great care trans­fer­ring years of emails every time I switched machines and I spent hours build­ing huge nest­ed list of fold­ers to orga­nize archived mes­sages. About a year ago Thun­der­bird ate about three months of recent mes­sages, some quite cru­cial. At that time I start­ed using Google’s Gmail as back­up. I set Gmail to pick up mail on my POP serv­er and leave it there with­out delet­ing it. I set Thun­der­bird to leave it there for week. The result was that both mes­sages would be picked up by both ser­vices.

After becom­ing famil­iar with Gmail I start­ed using it more and more. I love that it doesn’t have fold­ers: you sim­ple put all emails into a sin­gle “Archive” and let Google’s search func­tion find them when you need them​.You can set up fil­ters, which act as saved search­es, and I have these set up for active clients.

Why I’m hap­py now: I can log into Gmail from any machine any­where. No recent emails are lost on my old machine.

Project Man­age­ment in the Cloud

I use the fab­u­lous Remem­ber the Milk (RTM) to keep track of projects and crit­i­cal to-do items. Like Gmail I can access it from any com­put­er. While mess­ing around set­ting up back­up com­put­ers has set me back about ten days, I still know what I need to do and when I need to do it. I can review it and give clients renewed time­lines.

An addi­tion­al advan­tage to using Remem­ber the Milk and Gmail togeth­er is the abil­i­ty to link to emails. Every email in Gmail gets its own URL and every saved “fil­ter” search gets its own URL. If there’s an email I want to act on in two weeks, I set up a Remem­ber the Mail task. Each task has a option­al field for URLs so I put the the email’s Gmail URL in there and archive the email so I don’t have to think about it (part of the Get­ting Things Done strat­e­gy). Two weeks lat­er RTM tells me it’s time to act on that email and I fol­low the link direct­ly there, do what­ev­er action I need to do and mark it com­plete in RTM.

Project Notes in the Cloud

I long ago start­ed keep­ing notes for indi­vid­ual projects in the most excel­lent Back­pack ser­vice. You can store notes, emails, pic­tures and just about any­thing in Back­pack and have it avail­able from any com­put­er. You can eas­i­ly share notes with oth­ers, a fea­ture I fre­quent­ly use to cre­ate client cheat­sheets for using the sites I’ve built. Now that I use Gmail and it’s URL fea­ture, I put a link to the client’s Gmail his­to­ry right on top of each page. Very cool!

Anoth­er life saver is that I splurge for the upgrad­ed account that gives me secure serv­er access and I keep my pass­word lists in Back­pack. There’s a slight secu­ri­ty risk but it’s prob­a­bly small­er than keep­ing it on a lap­top that could be swiped out of my bag. And right now I can log into all of my ser­vices from a new machine. 

Keep­ing the Mon­ey Flow­ing from Clouds

The lat­est Web 2.0 love of my life is Fresh­books, a ser­vice that keeps track of your clients, your hours and puts togeth­er great invoic­es you can mail to them. I’m so much more pro­fes­sion­al because of them (no more hand writ­ten invoic­es in Word!) and when it’s billing time I can quick­ly see how many unbilled hours I’ve worked on each project and bang!-bang!-band! send the invoic­es right out. Because the data is online, I was able to bill a client despite the dead com­put­er, pro­vid­ing my exact hours, a detailed list of what I had done, etc.

Oth­ers

Cal­en­dar: I always go back and forth between lov­ing Google Cal­en­dar and the cal­en­dar built into Back­pack. Because I can nev­er make up my mind I’ve used ICal feeds to cross-link them so they’re both synced to one anoth­er. I can now use whichev­er is most con­ve­nient (or whichev­er I’m more in the mood to use!) to add and review entries.

Pho­tos: Most of the pho­tos I’ve tak­en over the past four years are still sit­ting on my dead lap­top wait­ing for me to find a way to get them off of the hard dri­ve. As trag­ic as it would be to loose them, 903 of my favorite pho­tos are stored on my Flickr account. And because I emailed most of them to Flickr via Gmail most of those are also stored on Gmail. I will do every­thing I can to get those lost pho­tos but the worst case sce­nario is that I will be stuck with “only” those 900.

Your Exam­ples?

I’d love to hear how oth­ers are using “the cloud” as real-time back­up.

Live Web Coverage from FGC (not)

23028940_2a342308d2Over on Beppe­blog Joe dreams of dai­ly web cov­er­age of the FGC Gath­er­ing [Update: link long dead]. Well, FGC’s not pay­ing its web­mas­ter (me, for now) for such ser­vice but I’ll try to sneak in a few posts between book­store cus­tomers. The book­store set-up was remark­ably easy. There was no truck cri­sis, no com­put­er cri­sis, no get­ting lost on high­ways.

As reg­u­lar read­ers will know, I’m lead­ing a work­shop called “Strangers to the Covenant” with Zachary Moon and this morn­ing was the first work­shop. Although it was billed as a work­shop for high school stu­dents and adult young Friend (so 15 – 35 years old), though almost all of the par­tic­i­pants are high school­ers (what does that mean?). It seems like a great bunch. I arrived about fif­teen min­utes ear­ly to cen­ter in wor­ship; two of the atten­ders came in the room and sat with me and one by one every­one came in and joined the wor­ship. I had to won­der if a group of old­er Friends would have been able to resist the temp­ta­tion to ask about each other’s jew­el­ry, com­plain about the air con­di­tion­ing, etc.

Julie reports that the cafe­te­ria food is good. We’ve also been hap­py patrons of Gillie’s and Bollo’s Café.