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/​q​u​a​k​e​r​g​ive. Oth­er options are avail­able on the dona­tion page at http://​www​.quak​erquak​er​.org/​p​a​g​e​/​s​u​p​p​ort. 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 Quak​erQuak​er​.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/​n​N​H​jGY #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://​mak​er​faire​.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/​c​s​/​2​0​1​1​/​1​0​/​s​t​e​v​e​_​j​o​b​s​_​a​n​d​_​t​h​e​_​p​u​r​p​o​s​e​_​o​f​.​h​tml I also got a lot of per­spec­tive on this top­ic from +Lean­der Kah­ney’s book, Inside Steve’s Brain http://​www​.ama​zon​.com/​I​n​s​i​d​e​-​S​t​e​v​e​s​-​B​r​a​i​n​-​L​e​a​n​d​e​r​-​K​a​h​n​e​y​/​d​p​/​1​5​9​1​8​4​1​984 )

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.