Monthly Archives: July 2015

Google Photos tip: Finding photos from friends

Actually giving friends photos (vs. merely sharing them in a hard-to-download/keep manner) is one of my favorite things about Google Photos. When you share a link to one or more images or videos, your recipient can simply click the little “cloud download” icon to add the content to her library. (Try it now with some aircraft/missile photos I shot Monday evening.)

The slightly frustrating thing is that if the images you’re given weren’t recently captured, it can be hard to find them in your library because they’re sorted according to capture date. Fortunately you can easily show recent files: bookmark this link or just click the search bar, then click the “Recently added” tile at the bottom. And boom, whatever files you just added from your friend will now show up at the top of the list.

A look at the Street View Trekker

I got a kick out of this insight into Google’s wearable (and borrowable!) Street View capture devices:

In this episode we’re learning how Google Street View gets off the streets and into some of the crazier places it goes – like the Grand Canyon, the Pyramids of Giza, and the Amazon Jungle.

If you’d like to apply to borrow the Trekker (aka the Google Street View backpack) to map a place you care about,


Big-data brainiac wanted for the Google Photos team

Does this sound like you?

[Y]ou serve as an analytics expert for your partners, using numbers to help them make better decisions. You weave stories with meaningful insight from data. You make critical recommendations for your fellow Googlers in Engineering and Product Management. As a self-starter, you relish tallying up the numbers one minute and communicating your findings to a team leader the next.

If so, check out more details in the job description—and hope to meet you soon!

[Via Chris Perry, with whom you’d be working, and who’s great]

OctoMadness: A 3D-printed zoetrope

Spinning in infinity:

The OctoMadness is a combination of 3D animation, 3D printing, sawing, painting and gluing every piece together… Designer and animator Klaas-Harm de Boer, wanted to create very flexible characters that show the power and freedom of animation. This zoetrope enables the audience to see each individual frame separately and gives a great insight into creating the final animation.


What’s the big deal moving from Google+ Photos to Google Photos?

Not much, fortunately. Longtime G+ photo community maven Trey Ratcliff has posted a quick overview for people making the transition.


From his G+ post:

  • Effectively, nothing really changes because you can still upload photos and share them on Google+ publicly or in communities.
  • The new Google Photos is just an improved interface which I like way better because I can upload once and share anywhere.
  • People can still comment on photos that are posted to G+ or Communities… hashtags, tagging, and all that stuff still works…
  • You can still access all your old photos and videos on Google+ from the photos tab of your profile page.
  • None of your old comments and +1’s will go away (where did people get that from?)

Artists visualize data

I really enjoyed this set of works:

Six major data artists (Mark Hansen, R Luke DuBois, Kate Crawford, Jer Thorp, Fernanda Viegas, and Martin Wattenberg) discuss what it means to make art in the 21st century and how quantification and digitization is completely changing the way we live and create.


Snapseed update enhances brushing, more

Small but welcome tweaks:

  • Brush allows working with a finer tip size and deeper zoom
  • Quick access to online resources: links to Snapseed’s YouTube channel and Google+ page in the Help & feedback menu
  • Many new languages supported: Català, Dansk, Ελληνικά, English (British), Español (Latinoamérica), Suomi, हिन्दी, Hrvatski, Magyar, Bahasa Melayu, Norsk (Bokmål), Português (Portugal), Română, Slovenčina, Українська, Tiếng Việt
  • Fixed several crashes and other bugs

The update will be rolling out today on Android devices through the Play Store and on iOS devices through the App Store.

As always, please let us know what you think & where you’d like to see things go next!

“What do I stand for? I don’t know…”

Why am I here? Why do I deserve to exist?

Yes, I’m one of those young guys—now not so young, as I watch the last grains swirl through the hourglass of my thirties—who’s always been given to asking these questions. You know those guys, the ones to whom people give Rainer Maria Rilke quotes on cards for high school graduation. It’s all kind of tedious—but fine, so be it. Aspire to the words of Chuck D: One in one million residents/Be a dissident/Who ain’t kissin’ it.

Professional I’ve tried to translate my hierarchy of values like this:

  • I want to be a good man (to lead a just, meaningful, and useful life)
    • …by helping others
      • …by unblocking the light of their creativity & expressiveness
        • …by building software they love.

Now, though, that’s at best what my lawyer friends might call “necessary but not sufficient.” I catch myself wandering far out on the leaves of that tree, far from the trunk, wondering why I don’t get closer to the action of being good & helping others.

None of this is new to me. Three years ago, for example, I spent a little time in a Guatemalan orphanage, hoping to help others a bit and at least improve myself, deepening my perspective and gratitude. But damn if it all isn’t some abortive feint—some vanity inoculation against the sense of having to do anything material. Back I come into my regular world, which takes hold, submerges me… Never again is what you swore the time before.

But not this time, mofo (I say to the mirror). Not this time. I am not going to blow my life.

The search is on.

“We Don’t Sell Saddles Here”

I just re-read Slack (and Flickr) founder Stewart Butterfield’s essay from two years ago (right before Slack launched), and man, it eats like a meal. If you care at all about product development, you should read the whole thing. I jotted down a few of my favorite observations & am sharing them here:

  • [O]ur job is also to understand what people think they want and then translate the value of Slack into their terms. … [This] something we all work on. It is the sum of the exercise of all our crafts.
  • We should be working carefully from both the product end and the market end: Doing a better and better job of providing what people want (whether they know it or not); Communicating the above more and more effectively.
  • We are setting out to define a new market. And that means we can’t limit ourselves to tweaking the product; we need to tweak the market too.
  • Innovation is the sum of change across the whole system, not a thing which causes a change in how people behave.
  • What we’re selling is organizational transformation. The software just happens to be the part we’re able to build & ship.
  • We will be successful to the extent that we create better teams.
  • The best possible way to find product-market fit is to define your own market.
  • Who Do We Want Our Customers to Become?… We want them to become relaxed, productive workers… masters of their own information and not slaves… who communicate purposively.
  • Be harsh, in the interest of being excellent. [Or as I’ve always put it, “I swear because I care.” —J.]

24 Hours of Le Mans in Stop-Motion

Camden Thrasher (name FTW!!) took a novel approach to capturing this year’s race. PetaPixel writes,

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is one of the racing world’s oldest, most famous, and most grueling races. Racing photographer Camden Thrasher covered the 2015 race last month and shot over 1,000 photos over the course of the day. Afterward, he took 1,158 of the photos he shot and turned them into this stop-motion video for Audi.

Some of the more stroboscopic results are a big GIFfy for my liking, but the slow-shutter sequences look terrific:


Lego prosthetics

So completely rad.

For Colombian designer Carlos Torres, how to best tackle the low self-esteem and social isolation felt by child amputees is about more than finding the the most advanced prosthetic money can buy. His IKO Creative Prosthetic System is aimed at unleashing the creative expression of those with missing limbs, and to do so he’s enlisting every child’s favorite building blocks. The result is an artificial limb where kids can swap robotic grippers for laser-shooting spaceships whenever the opportunity arises. […]

Torres then jetted off to the Lego Future Lab in Denmark, the toy company’s mystical research and development lab. Here he tapped into the Lego brains trust and formulated a design to bring his ideas to life.


Google machines’ crack-pipe dreams

What witchcraft is this?

A journey trough all the layers of a artificial neural network.This video is made using a visualisation technique applied to a neural network trained to recognise a broad range of images. Each frame is recursively fed back to the network starting with a frame of random noise. Every 100 frames (4 seconds) the next layer is targeted until the lowest layer is reached. Based on the work by Google researchers Alexander Mordvintsev, Christopher Olah and Mike Tyka.

And of course, “Oh God, Someone Ran Fear and Loathing Through Google’s Neural Network“:

[Vimeo] [Via Aaron Hertzmann]

An independent look at Google Photos compression

I’ve often wanted to demo the negligible visual impact of the compression applied by the High Quality option in Google Photos, so I figured I’d register a memorable short URL for the purpose. To my great surprise, I discovered that was already taken. Clicking through, I found that back in May Brian Young of PetaPixel did a detailed review of compression in Photos. Hopefully it’ll help put folks’ minds further at ease about choosing this option (which I use for everything that comes off my iPhone).

Oh, and as for the gallery I like to show, I registered Pass it on. 🙂

Rephotography: A beautiful animation of Portland now & then

I’m captivated by Yesterday’s Tomorrow from Uncage the Soul Productions:

We knew this piece needed a soul, some heart, but not via the traditional history timeline narrative. But what is the story, the words? For inspiration, guidance and insight- we interviewed multiple 90+ Portlanders and spent an evening with each asking all the questions we could about their lives and opinions on a big list of life issues. Our favorite of these amazing people is Katherine Livingston. Her eyes are bright, her wits are sharp, she was born in Portland, her grandfather was involved in commissioning the Skidmore Fountain, she recently held the world record for fastest 2000 meters on a stationary rowing machine for the 95-100 yr old bracket, and this weekend she turns 100 years old. The length of that last sentence should be an indicator of how impactful she was to us. We were honored to sit down and listen to her share her story and insights of living for 100 years. These sentiments became the words that guide the piece.

[Vimeo] [Via Alex Powell]

The best computer art of 1968

A few years back when the Flash drawing app Scribbler & innumerable clones got briefly popular, I showed them to After Effects creator Dave Simons. “Oh,” he said, “I remember creating something like that in school 20 years ago.” Sometimes it seems there’s nothing new under the sun: Five years ago you could make a hot HTML5 blog by recreating hot Flash designs from 10 years earlier, which in turn were repurposing Java applets from five years before that, which… you get the picture.

I think of all this when seeing the winners of a computer art contest from 1968. As Kottke notes, the ads are fun to peruse as well.



Help bring educational posters to design students

To connect non-profits & design students, teacher & Olympian Kevin McMahon has started the very cool Art Heroes:

Art Heroes provides nonprofit causes with free, high-quality design work. We accomplish this goal through a global community of over 500 design educators and students. As a result, good causes save precious funds and design students build portfolios with real-world clients. (Yep, we think its pretty cool, too.)

Still in our first year, Art Heroes has already completed 70 nonprofit design jobs – helping environmental, educational and social causes to better communicate their important messages and saving them well over $100,000.

Now they’d like to bring educational posters to design programs in need:

These peer-reviewed, unparalleled art education posters took 5 months to develop and cover over 80 essential Art and Design concepts. As a result, they will benefit not only the 100 high school and college educators who have already expressed interest – but also the thousands of students who will view them for years to come.

I’m off to kick ‘em some tax-deductible bucks.


Photography: A great talk from Doug Menuez

I’ll be honest—I figured I needed to hear yet more about the “Fearless Genius” of Steve Jobs like I needed a hole in the head. During WWDC, however, I got the very pleasant surprise of hearing photographer Doug Menuez recount stories of documenting a range of Silicon Valley innovators (including the Adobe founders & Russell Brown) 1985-2000. I think you’d enjoy his talk (below) and a selection of images from the book.