I’ve been searching for a while to find a way to automatically upload photos from my phone to Dropbox, for easy access later. The folks are Dropbox are considering adding that feature to their Android app, but they’ve been “considering” it for a while now and I don’t have much hope.
However, the popular photo-sharing app picplz just added automatic Dropbox uploading to their application and it works great! When you take a photo with their app, you can choose from the following:
Apply an effect to it (black and white, etc).
Post it to your Facebook, Twitter, Posterous, Flickr, Tumblr or Foursquare.
Add it to your Dropbox.
By default, I only have it go to Dropbox, though I push fun photos to Facebook/Twitter from time to time.
What’s great about the Dropbox integration is that it uploads the full high-res untouched version, along with a copy of it with any “effect” you may have chosen.
They have apps for iPhone and Android, so most smartphone users are covered. Feel free to follow me on there to see what kind of photos I post.
Whether you realize it or not, most of you are creating a “lifestream” of some sort. Your Twitter updates, Flickr photos, YouTube videos, and other assorted items are out there on the web in a haphazard fashion. Getting that organized can be beneficial in a lot of ways.
For most people, there are two aspects of this that need to be tweaked:
Posting updates to a wide variety of services, rather than having to update each service individually.
Getting all of your various updates (status, pics, vids) to show up in one place.
:: Posting updates to a wide variety of services
I wrote a fairly comprehensive post on this a few weeks ago, which pretty much tells you what you need to know. In a nutshell, I recommend that you use ping.fm to handle the bulk of your updates. It takes some time to configure for the first time, but once you have it set up it’s a huge time-saver. You can post one status update on there and it’ll post to all of your networks — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and about 50 others. It’s superb.
For photos and videos, I’ve started using Posterous. It’s a very popular micro-blogging tool that allows you to post new items via email, from their site, or using a mobile app. It can be configured to post to a variety of services, to the point where it duplicates much of what Ping.fm does. However, Ping can post to a lot more, so I confine my Posterous posting to simply images and video.
It may look a bit confusing a first, but check out the image below. Depending on what kind of item I want to push out (on the left), you can see the path that it takes. All of that really only requires setting up accounts on two sites (Ping and Posterous), assuming you already have accounts on the destination sites.
The only real downside to this setup is that pictures and videos don’t get pushed out to the “various other microblogging sites”. It’s a small price to pay, since Twitter/Facebook are the main ones for me right now anyhow.
:: Getting all of your various updates to show up in one place.
This one isn’t as important to most people, but I’ve just spent some time figuring out the best way to handle this so I thought I’d share my findings.
My goal was to create a single page that would always pull in my latest “stuff”; blog entries, twitter posts, flickr photos, youtube videos, etc. Here’s what I considered:
storytlr: From what I can tell, this site did exactly what I wanted. Unfortunately, they’re shutting down at the end of 2009. Quite a shame…
posterous: If I chose to push my status updates through Posterous, it would essentially contain my lifestream. Some people do it this way and it works well. However, I have a lot of other sites configured in Ping.fm that I don’t want to leave out. Posterous is adding new features constantly, and it might fit the bill in a year or two.
Sweetcron: This is a nifty script that you can load on your server. It’s very customizable and you can do a lot with it. I ran it as my lifestream for a while, but it seemed to have some issues (duplicate posts, broken videos, etc). When I went to get a newer version of the code, I found that it hadn’t been updated in over a year. It’s never good to hitch your site to an abandoned tool.
Lifestream.fm: This had it all in theory, but the site seemed quite buggy to me. I sometimes couldn’t add new feeds, things wouldn’t appear, etc. Also, ideally, I’d like the lifestream to show up on my domain, not theirs.
wp-Lifestream: A lifestreaming plug-in for WordPress. It supports a large number of sources and integrates nicely into WordPress.
I tried all of them to some degree, and ended up going with wp-Lifestream. Not only does it support the usual suspects, but it has a few neat ties to other sites (like Gowalla).
Out of the 10 parts of this series, keeping photos organized is the one I’ve traditionally been the worst at doing. My wife takes a ton of pictures every time we go on a trip (park, zoo, vacation, etc). It’s wonderful, but we’ve built up a massive pile of pictures over the years. Last time I checked we had about 40GB in various places!
My first priority is to make sure they’re secure. If her computer crashes, will we lose the photos? With that in mind, I keep a copy of her photos on an external hard drive and third copy in a folder on my computer. She posts her favorites to her Facebook account to share with friends and family and it works pretty well.
However, with all of the great photo-sharing systems out there, we’re working on improving our system. Here’s what we’ve considered:
Shutterfly — We’ve used them for printing photos before, and they also offer “free, unlimited picture storage”. It’s an obvious one to consider.
Picasa — Since I use Google for almost everything else, I thought I’d give Picasa a try. It’s a solid system, but doesn’t work well for multiple computers. We’d end up with different sets of photos on each machine, and it gets a little messy to try to remember which ones you’ve uploaded from which computer. For a single-computer house it would probably be a good solution, though.
Flickr — Flickr is one of the most popular photo-sharing sites in the world and I’ve been a happy member for years. However, their focus seems to be on quality over quantity. That’s very noble, but I need a place to dump 40GB worth of photos. That’s just not what they’re designed for.
Facebook — Since we already upload a lot of our photos to Facebook, why not just use it for all of them? The answer came down to two reasons:
Quantity: It’d take a long time to build galleries and upload all of the photos.
Quality: More importantly, Facebook greatly compresses your photos when you upload them. That’s fine for how they’re used on there, but we want to keep high-quality copies of the photos for use in the future.
SmugMug — I’ve used SmugMug for years with our church. We have over 23,000 photos in that library and still growing! Their pricing starts at $39.95/year, which is very fair. The killer feature for me is their “Send to SmugMug” Windows upload tool, which makes it very simple to upload photos to their site.
With all of that in mind, we’re using SmugMug for our photos. I know of friends that use Shutterfly and Picasa, and those are excellent options as well.
As I said before, I’m a big fan of the “Send to SmugMug” tool. The short video below shows how it works, and you can download it here (free, Windows only).
Do you you use a different tool for managing your photos? Tell me about it in the comments.
Lately I’ve had a hard time keeping up with what services cross-post to each other. If I send a status update to Twitter, does it auto-post to Facebook? If I send a picture to Posterous, does it go to Flickr? What about FriendFeed? I had I set up so many different tools that I was losing track of things. I spent some time today rearranging things and here’s what I’ve got:
:: Status Updates via Ping.fm
I’ve used Ping.fm for a while, and I love it. I can send updates using their website or the Pingle app on iPhone, and those status updates go out to dozens of different services that I’ve configured. I’ll still be using it for a lot of my status updates, but I’ve tweaked it a little bit.
I’ve set it to update my status on virtually every service it supports (and it’s a lot of them) except for Posterous. I’ll explain why in the next item.
:: Media Updates via Posterous
I’ll be pushing all photo and video uploads through my Posterous account. I used to use PixelPipe on my iPhone, but Posterous offers a bit better control. I can easily send items to Posterous via email or by using their iPhone app, and they’ll automatically push them to various locations. Specifically:
Photos: To Facebook and Flickr Videos: To Facebook and YouTube
Also, Twitter and LinkedIn will get notified of all new photos/videos
If I had set Ping.fm to send status updates to Posterous, it would then push them to Twitter and Facebook — which Ping.fm already does. That would duplicate my updates on a few services, which is why it’s important to not have Ping.fm push to Posterous.
:: RSS Updates via TwitterFeed
I’ve been using TwitterFeed for a while to auto-tweet new blog entries from my various blogs to their respective Twitter accounts. It works well, and I’ll continue doing that for now.
:: Google Reader –> Twitter via FriendFeed
When I’m in Google Reader, I can “share” an item and it automatically tweets it out. It does this via FriendFeed; I have FriendFeed pull in all of my shared items, and then I have it tweet out those shared items to my Twitter account. It’s very handy when I’m away from my computer on a cell (like at Disney). A single click allows me to share an interesting story with all of my followers.
You could do a similar thing via TwitterFeed, and either method would work just fine.
So there you have it — my new system (for now). I’m always looking to streamline things, so what do you do differently, and why?
What happens when you search Google for [your name]? Do you like what you see?
Part of that depends on your name. If your name is common (Joe Smith) or owned by a celebrity (if your name is Michael Phelps and you’re not a swimmer, good luck) you might be in trouble. For the rest of us, there are some things you can do to help.
Ed Kohler has just written an excellent post on the best ways to control the results that come up for your name. In a nutshell, you need to create accounts using your name on popular sites, then get them to rank near the top. In Ed’s case, he owns all of the top 10 results and 89 of the first 100. I own all 10 for my name, and 49 of the first 50.
So how do you do it? Between Ed and myself, our top 10 consist of pages such as:
The vast majority of those are sites that you can register for in under a minute. The more you can contribute to each site, the better. For example, if you have a lot of followers on Twitter, then you have a lot more links pointing to your profile (from your followers), thus raising your ranking for that profile.
However, even if you don’t have time to build each profile out, at least get registered, get your name reserved, and try to get back to it eventually. Building up your search results will take some time, so do it now while it’s not a big deal, and it’ll be ready for you if you ever need it (job hunt, etc).