Multiply.com Social Network To Shut Down on December

This post is a reminder for those people who have not backed up their Multiply.com content yet. I\’m going to share my sentiments about Multiply.com and how I backed up my data easier instead of using Multiply.com\’s tools and recommended browser extensions.

Do Multiply\’s Long Time Users Matter?

The news had been out for several month already and it all started with \”we are sorry\” note from Multiply.com\’s CEO Stefan Magdalinsk back in August 2012. To be honest, I was indifferent with the announcement even though I have old blog posts and pictures stored in Multiply.com.

I have expected Multiply to revamp their website long time ago because I have not seen any new feature in the website for a long time. What I don\’t like with the announcement is how Multiply.com decided to shelve the entire social network feature in one overhaul instead of small increments or several phases. What do you expect from long-time Multiply.com users, wave the white flag peacefully?

Multiply.com already knows that the decision will be unpopular but it didn\’t matter because it is a necessary step moving forward (at least for their business).  I\’m glad that I didn\’t buy a premium plan because if I did, I probably have uploaded more than 10 gigabytes of photos and videos, and I\’ll be scratching my head now how to move them somewhere else.

The transition period could have been bitter-sweet than disappointing if only the migration tools work flawlessly.

Until The End of the Year

Initially the plan is to make the export tools available until December 1, 2012 only. After that, there is a very big chance that you will not be able to get your data easily. However, Multiply decided to extend it until the end of the year. What will happen come December 1, 2012 is that you can\’t create new content using Multiply\’s social network features. Below is the excerpt of the update I receive in my email yesterday:

Come December 1st, your site will still be available online for viewing. However, you will no longer be able to create new postings, upload any social networking content (such as photos or blogs) or make any new comments on your existing entries for social networking. However, we will extend the availability of the download tools until the end of the year so you can back up your content at your leisure.

Preserve all content from your Multiply Account

\""Ultimate

The screenshot above happens when you try to download pictures using the media locker download option.

According to Multiply.com, Media Locker option is already available to all users so that you can download all your content more easily. See the screenshot of the email announcement below:

\"Multiply

Apparently, it doesn\’t work. Even if you want to get Multiply Premium account now  just to download high-resolution through media locker (which is silly at this point), the link to Multiply Premium account doesn\’t work. Kind of frustrating if you just want to get all your pictures and videos organized per album.

I have over 1 Gigabyte of pictures in Multiply and to download them all using the download media link (http://multiply-id.multiply.com/download-media) — is simply ridiculous. The recommended Chrome extension and Firefox add-on will attempt to download all the media linked to all URLs present in the page but you still have to click, potentially, hundred times  if you have a lot of stored pictures in Multiply.com.

Multiply has an export tool for Blogger. However, Blogger can\’t fetch photos and videos. Even if you get your blog posts migrated, the old picture URLs will still point to the original Multiply.com content — which is a very bad idea.

Another alternative is to use the Tumblr export tool. However, even if I just want to get my photos  through Tumblr, I won\’t…. because it doesn\’t work. You have to know Tumblr to understand that it has a lot of limitations. Tumblr only support 10 pictures in one photoset. If you import your Multiply albums, it only imports one image. Just like Blogger it points back to the original media in Multiply. Useless! Also, you can only upload 100 items at a time in Tumblr so you have to choose which item category you want to import. You probably want to import only blog posts, reviews and photos anyway. If you can\’t really import photo albums properly, you should at least be able to download them per album right?

There should have been a WordPress export tool but it didn\’t materialize.

If you have tried all these options, you might have lost hope already. Don\’t worry. It\’s not over yet.

The best option I found to download all media effortlessly is to use a download manager such as Free Download Manager (FDM) so that you can download all your pictures and videos without interruption using the media download page.

I don\’t know why Multiply.com did not recommend this approach when it is as easy as downloading all the links using a download manager.

Final Words

I am not disappointed that Multiply.com is transforming their business model to focus on e-commerce. In fact, I am excited to see Multiply.com\’s transformation. What I am very disappointed at is how they made it very difficult to migrate out of Multiply to other blogging and photo-sharing platforms. Without users who supported their social network, Multiply.com would not even exist and find its new direction in e-commerce.

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Timely by Demandforce is Shutting Down

\"Timely

Aside from Buffer, there is one free tool that I keep on using to schedule timely updates on Twitter or Facebook. That is Timely.is by Demandforce. This morning I just received the announcement that Timely is shutting down on November 16, 2012 and it saddened me.

Timely.is is unique because it figures out what time the posts should be scheduled unlike Buffer or Hootsuite which needs you to determine the posting time manually or by means of 3rd-party app. Timely figures out the posting time automatically with its special algorithm.

From the announcement, it is clear that Demandforce is only getting rid of the free version of Timely because Demandforce customers still has access to a version of Timely.

If you don\’t remember Timely.is was acquired by Demandforce last year through its acquisition of Flowtown, the brainchild of Ethan Bloch.

What if Demandforce offered premium account for Timely? I\’m sure there are power users out there willing to pay money  to schedule more posts with Timely. I don\’t want to second-guess what\’s the best decision for this service. I am just upset that they have to retire it.

Below is the announcement from Demandforce:

Dear Timely User,

Timely started as a fun side project back in 2010.

Since then it has grown to help tens of thousands of people publish millions of Tweets and Facebook updates.

We\’re proud of that. And happy we could help you manage your hectic world of social media.

Unfortunately we haven\’t been giving Timely much attention recently as we\’ve been directing our efforts towards Demandforce\’s paid products.

So we\’ve made the hard decision to retire Timely.

As of today we have stopped accepting new signups.

If you already have an account you will still be able to sign in and use Timely until November 16th.

When we launched Timely almost 2 years ago there were no other tools that would automatically figure out the best time for a Tweet to go out.

Thankfully there are some great alternatives today such as Buffer or Hootsuite.

I should also note that a version of Timely is still available to Demandforce customers.

Thank you for being a part of the Timely story,

Ethan Bloch, Co-Creator of Timely

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Best 15 Travel Apps for Android and iOS

Below are 15 travel apps for Android and iPhone that my wife and I use when travelling. I use Android as my primary phone while she uses iPhone. From time to time we swap phones because I don\’t get all the apps I want in Android and sometimes it is the other way around.

These apps are all available in both Android and Apple iOS devices. I hope that these can make your travel easier and more fun.

Travel Apps for Android & iPhone

\"Kayak

1. Kayak

When booking deals for hotels, flights and cars, Kayak gives a lot of options even for most remote place that I tried booking. I mainly use this for researching accommodations but it has other features that will delight seasoned travelers.

It can also consolidate your travel plans in \”My Trips\” which can be done easily  by forwarding booking confirmation emails to [email protected]

Kayak also conveniently gives you a ready-made packing list that you can use to track every items you need to pack to make sure you don\’t forget anything.

Other features include flight tracker, price alerts, airline directory, airline fees, airport information (powered by  GateGuru), currency converter and inflight GPS tracking.

Two features that is existing in iOS but lacking in Android are Tours and Attractions, which gives you a list of places of interest to go with tour guides, and Buzz which lists flight search trends.

\"Tripit

2. Tripit

Even before Kayak added \”My Trips\”, TripIt has been parsing airline tickets, hotel reservations, car rentals receipts and other confirmation emails to create your master itinerary. It is better in organizing your itineraries because it makes them available in one place and you can share it with family and friends who uses Tripit too.

When you add people in your Inner Circle, you can automatically share your complete itinerary with other people using Android or iOS — it is a great way to inform anyone in your Inner Circle your whereabouts.

\"Flight

3. Flight Track

If you do a lot of business travel, you need this application. It has real-time status for gates, delays and cancellation. You can also find alternate flights and view seat maps.

\"Hostelworld

4. HostelWorld

If hotels is not your thing and you prefer back-packing then HostelWorld is the perfect app to get a cheap place to stay.

\"XE

5. XE Currency Converter

It was tough choosing the best free currency converter.

Before sticking with XE Currency Converter, I was using Oanda Currency Converter. It was great but it can only show 1 currency at a time and there was no log when was the latest exchange rate update.

So I switched to XE Currency Converter because it has live exchange rate and I can refresh it anytime I want.

\"Expensify

6. Expensify

This app lets you log expenses, scan receipts, log time with an hourly rate and use mileage, odometer or gps as reference to any bill. Scanning receipts is as simple as taking picture of the receipts and letting Expensify process it using Smartscan that  automatically logs properly whatever value found in the receipt using OCR. The free version is limited to 10 free smartscans a month but when you upgrade to pro, each scans is priced at 20 cents each.

\"Lemon

7. Lemon

If you don\’t need to log mileage then Lemon is a simpler alternative to Expensify. It also lets you process receipt using their OCR technology. You get 25 free receipt processing a month. With a pro account, you can even process line item details – i.e. every item on your grocery receipt will be recorded not just the high level expense value.

On top of this, Lemon can also keep a digital copy of your cards — not just credit cards mind you. It works on IDs, loyalty and membership cards. I don\’t know if Apple copied the idea of Lemon but before Apple\’s Passbook for tickets and coupon, there was Lemon for cards.

\"Foodspotting

8. Foodspotting

When you go places, you need to find recommended great local dishes, not just restaurants. What\’s great about this app is that it\’s all about dishes. You can find the best food nearby and get recommendations from people you follow.

\"Foursquare

9. Foursquare

Since Foursquare upgraded their app to more than a check-in app, I started using it to find recommended places using the Explore feature. You can search for specials, trending, food, coffee, nightlife, shops, sights, outdoors, arts and entertainment. Some of the tips are very helpful to get the most out of the scenic spot or trendy places.

For food and beverages, Foursquare is starting to function like Yelp but unlike Yelp, Foursquare is available in many places, mostly generated by users. You also don\’t get a menu; you simply get tips on what to eat from random users who check-in on those places.

\"Triposo

10. Triposo

I only discovered Triposo lately and it is has travel guides for most countries. The best part is that it is free and it works offline. No need to worry about data access on remote places without signal. You don\’t need to worry about roaming charges with this app.

Each travel guide you install presents you a travelpedia where you can learn the basic history, culture, architecture  and music of the country. It also has some phrasebook that can be handy. It has popular destinations with guides on what you can see and don on those places.  It even has \”eat, drink and sleep\” section to find where to hang out at night, drink coffee and get hotels accommodation with all the contact details and address that you can use to get there.

\"Tourist

11.  TouristEye

This is another app that can work without internet connection. When you add a place in your trip, it will download an offline copy of all the information of the city that you have chosen. That includes maps, all the attractions, restaurants, entertainments, tours and transport information.

It doubles as itinerary planner and travel journal too.

\"Google

12. Google Translate

The latest version of Google Translate is now essential to any traveler going to a foreign country with a foreign language. You can take picture of any sign and with Google\’s character recognition it can translate any language to english.

\"Google

13. Google Local

When you install Google+ in Android, you also get Google Local. It replaced Google Places. This app is actually merged with Google Maps, Navigation and Latitude in Android because it is contained in one unified application. However,you need to install Google Local separately in iOS.

Zagat ratings are incorporated in Google Local because Google purchased Zagat, remember? I still find the 30-point scale unusual but at least it gives you an overview on how good a place is. Google Local also aggregates other reviews from sites like TripAdvisor so you can\’t find TripAdvisor in this list as it is redundant already.

Google Local is also linked to Google+ Local Pages so you can use your Google+ circles to get recommendations.

\"Google

14. Google Maps

Too bad iOS replaced Google Maps in iOS6. It is still the most detailed map available for free and it has live traffic information where it is supported.

Indoor maps for selected places are particularly helpful in navigating unfamiliar buildings. In Android you can also cache map area so you can use Google Maps even if there is no network signal. This is very important if you are going to an island or rural places.

I can\’t think of any maps with chock-full of features that is so easy to use. Good news for iPhone users, you can still use the mobile web version of Google Maps.

\"Siri\"

15. Google Now / Siri

We call them personal assistant and knowledge navigator apps. However, these apps can be your travel buddy too.

Google Now is only officially available in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. It incorporates several features from different apps and made them accessible using voice commands as well location triggers. Some of it features includes traffic guide, public transit information, next appointment notification, flight delay forecast, place recommendations, weather, translation, currency conversion and time conversion.

Siri has almost the same set of features but Google Now is location-aware while Siri is not. For travelling, Google Now gets an edge because it doesn\’t require voice input all the time but when you\’re bored while on the road, Siri could be fun.

Google Now and Siri are applications that can seriously change the way we use information around us.

If data roaming is not an issue then Google Now and Siri is the perfect companion in any place you wish to go. Of course, given the choice I would still travel with my love ones.

So now, it\’s your turn. Let me know what\’s your favorite travel apps for Android or iPhone.

 

 

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Kindle Comparison Chart: Kindle Fire HD vs. Others

\"KindleIt was already expected that Amazon will release a bigger tablet, purportedly called Kindle Fire 2, in order to compete with the bigger tablet iPad. Today, after about a year of Kindle Fire announcement, Amazon introduced their new tablet line up. Interested how the flagship model Kindle Fire HD compare to other tablets?

Last year I blogged about Kindle comparison chart to guide users in buying Kindle Fire. I have updated it now so you will see the new Kindle Fire HD comparison charts below.

Kindle Comparison Chart (all variety)

There are 7 new Kindle models announced today. In Kindle Fire HD family, there are 4 — namely the Kindle Fire (2nd gen)Kindle Fire HD 7\”, Kindle Fire HD 8.9\” and Kindle Fire HD 8.9\” 4G LTE Wireless

Kindle Fire (2nd gen) and Kindle Fire HD 7\” will be available starting September 14 while Kindle Fire HD 8.9\” variants will be available only on November 20 so you better pre-order now to reserve your place in line.

If you are not sure what is the best Kindle for you, use the chart below to compare all the latest Kindle models. At the time of this writing the older models, Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G are already unavailable as they are already succeeded by  Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Paperwhite 3G respectively. Amazon touts that the Paperwhite models are the world\’s most advanced e-readers as it offers high-resolution, high contrast, built-in light and 8-week long battery life.

Interesting enough, the good old Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Keyboard 3G are still available and not refreshed or upgraded this time.

\"Kindle

Let\’s move forward on the top of the line model Kindle Fire HD and compare it to the premium tablet brands in the market.

Kindle Fire HD 8.9\” vs. iPad vs. Galaxy Note 10.1 vs. Microsoft Surface

Dimension

In terms of screen size, Amazon Kindle Fire HD is only 8.9 inches diagonal, which makes it smaller than 0.8 inches compared to Apple iPad\’s 9.7 inches. In fact, Kindle Fire HD is a bit smaller than Apple iPad (3rd gen), Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and the upcoming Microsoft Surface.

To think that Kindle Fire HD is only 8.8mm thick, Amazon must have targeted iPad 2 which is also 8.8mm.

Screen

When iPad 3rd gen was released its 2048×1536 resolution seemed unnecessary. However, knowing Apple is a trend-setter I have predicted that consumers will look for more personal computing devices with better display. And now, here is the Kindle Fire HD  with 1920×1200 resolution packed in 8.9-inch IPS LCD. Many video enthusiasts should be happy because it has 16:9 screen ratio suitable for widescreen movie playback.

In retrospect, if you think Apple\’s retina display is overrated then how about the latest trend in HD TV? The new wave of digital TVs are already showcasing 4K resolution. Who knows how soon 4k will be the standard screen resolution?

\"Kindle

Price

According to Jeff Bezos, \”We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices.\”

Price is one of the best differentiating factor in buying Kindle Fire HD and perhaps this alone can persuade you to buy Kindle Fire HD.  As you can see in the Kindle comparison chart, it shows that the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD starts at $299. That is a whopping $200 difference compared to the 3rd gen iPad. Even with the extra $200 change you can still buy the entry-level Kindle Fire HD 7\” which starts at $199.

Other Features

While Amazon can\’t compete with the number of apps in Apple Apps Store, it compensates for the vast library of movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, books, audiobooks and popular apps that users can buy and consume. There is unlimited cloud storage for all your purchased Amazon content.

It is a little disappointing that Amazon did not even try to put a decent back camera in Kindle Fire HD. This reinforced the notion that all Kindle Fire devices are made for consuming Amazon products and not for producing content. My understanding here is that Amazon wants its consumers to finish reading books or complete watching TV series and audiobooks instead of allowing them to use Instagram to take pictures which doesn\’t add any benefit to Amazon at all. If you get pass this small limitation then everything in Kindle Fire HD is perfect.

Even without a back camera, the front-facing \”HD\” camera can be used for free Skype calls and audiophiles will surely enjoy the Dolby audio virtual surround sound.

Further more, Amazon is introducing Kindle Freetime which allows you to control your kid\’s access to Kindle Fire HD tablet. As a parent you can limit time for reading books, watching videos, using apps, etc.

New users also get one month free access to Amazon Prime for unlimited, instant streaming of thousands of popular movies and TV shows.

Last Words

I hope the 2 Kindle comparison charts above helped you compare the current Kindle model line up and other existing tablets.

Do you think Amazon Kindle Fire HD hits all the sweet spots? Is it a true Apple iPad contender?  I am interested how Apple will respond to this. In several days, Apple night announce a new device. Will it include an Apple iPad mini? How about Google? Nexus 7 is not looking good when you put it beside a Kindle Fire HD.

How can you not love Amazon?

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10 Android Apps for Better Photo Composition

Android Photo Composition

Last week I decided to take my landscape photography seriously. I planned the shot but even if I have the right mindset, it was still a challenge because I found out that I don\’t have the right tools and the correct preparation.

That experience lead me to take composition more seriously. I know this is a cliché — the only rule in photography is that there are no rules but there are composition techniques that we can use to make more artistic photo.  The popular techniques include rule of thirds, golden mean, deep depth of field, shallow depth of field, color, shapes, framing, leading lines and different kind of lines.

You might already know that Nikon released the first Android based camera recently. The apps listed below should could beef-up that camera with DSLR-like features.

If you have a phone camera, point and shoot camera or an entry-level DSLR, you will find these Android apps will be helpful in your composition as well. These apps are not necessary camera apps. Majority of these apps are utility tools to help you understand the technical side of photography. I haven\’t found the iOS equivalent of these apps but I will cover them next time. For now enjoy these Android apps that can help you make better photo composition.

1. Camera FV-5

This is not just a simple camera that puts fancy effects in your photos. It puts DSLR-like manual controls in your fingertips and it\’s probably one of the most advanced camera app in Android.  You can set exposure compensation, ISO, light metering mode, focus mode, white balance and, [shutter] speed mode and program mode. It even have bracketing options and live RGB histograms.

\"Camera

 

2. Sensor Camera

The rule of thirds is probably the most widely use guideline in creating stunning pictures but there are more composition guidelines built around the divine proportions such as golden mean or the golden ratio. Sensor Camera gives you the basic rule of thirds grid as well as golden sections, golden triangle, golden spiral, golden spiral stretched and face geometry.

One of the improvement area on this app is the zoom feature. You can\’t zoom on the current version of Sensor Camera so you have to move closer or farther to you subject if you want to compose your picture using this app.

\"Sensor

\"Sensor

\"Sensor

And one more thing, this app is proudly made in the Philippines.

3. ProCapture Free

You get real-time histogram too but unlike Camera FV-5, you only get 1 histogram with 3 segments to easily figure the midtones, highlights and shadows.  You can overlay 3 x 3 grid or Fibonacci spiral that you can rotate depending on the orientation.

4. Depth of Field Calculator

Depth of field is the most important aspect in selective focusing. If your camera has depth of field (DOF) preview that\’s great, but if you  don\’t have DOF preview it is hard to guess how deep or shallow the depth of field will be until you take your photo.

As part of the  creative process, knowing the depth of field in advance can help you plan the exposure parameters ahead of time so you will not spend your time playing around with different aperture value. Your time is better spent taking great pictures.

Depth of Field Calculator calculates depth of field (DOF) using the specified camera model, the focus length, f-stop and subject distance to give you the near limit, far limit and hyperfocal distance for your camera.

There are several other DOF calculator in this list but this is the easiest to understand. The diagram feature is  the best way to understand how DOF works.

\"Depth

\"Depth

5. DoF Calc

DoF Calc also considers teleconverter in calculating depth of field.

\"DoF

6. DOF Droid

If the diagram of Depth of Field Calculator is not enough, DoF Droid gives you several diagram to compare depth of field against aperture size and focus distance.

\"DOF

\"DOF

\"DOF

7. Exposure Calculator

This app lets you put in the exposure without filter (shutter speed, aperture and ISO) and then the Exposure Value (EV) adjustment which is equal to adding  neutral density (ND) filter.

If you use ND filters, this is the best app you can get in calculating exposure after adding ND filters. Professional landscape photographers would know this by heart but if you are just starting, this app can be a life saver.

\"Exposure

8. Photo Tools

Photo Tools is a collection of photography tools including focal tools, exposure tools, time tools, weather and location tools, color tools and other miscellaneous tools.

If you are learning how to be a good photographer, you can use these collection of tools to understand how your camera works on different conditions.

\"Photo

9. Golden Hour Calculator

This is very helpful if you want to achieve that special sky color when taking your pictures. Golden and Blue hours are calculated by this app using precise algorithms to get the time at any place on Earth at any date.

I wish I have this app when I was shooting seascapes.

\"Golden

10. PHOforPHO

This is a free app for serious photographers – without ads! It includes several tools such as exposure calculator, DoF calculator, timer, distance meter and more.

\"PHOforPHO\"

During design and planning stage of your composition, you can use these apps to setup how you are going to use your camera and photography equipment so that the next time you go on out to take photos you will get better photo composition and a winning shot. 

 

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