Tuesday, August 11, 2009


On choice among free services

They say that “beggars can’t be choosers,” but the adage doesn’t apply to the Internet. With countless free services out there, one really does often have a significant choice.

And I’ve just chosen to say auf Wiedersehen to Flickr (owned by Yahoo!) and to switch to Picasa (owned by Google) instead. Flickr has a bunch of severe limitations for its free version, which you can lift for “only” about $25 per year. I admit that $25 isn’t much for a year, but, well... it’s $25 more than zero.

Flickr has two limitations on their free accounts that particularly annoy me. One’s bothered me for a while, but I didn’t do anything about it: you can only create three “sets”. That meant that I couldn’t group my photos — one would run past the three-set limit almost immediately, if one should try. I did create one set, and I used a search for grouping others, tagging the photos with a distinctive tag. So I could manage.

The other limitation is one I didn’t even know about until the weekend, when I was uploading photos from Sweden. It warned me that I’ve exceeded the 200-photo limit for a free photo stream. It’s saved all my photos, it assured me, and links to them still work. But only the 200 most recent ones will appear in the list that people (including me) get when they visit my Flickr pages.

Well, OK, that is, in a word, useless. Oh, yes, they say, all my lovely photos will be restored to the list if I pay them, and they’ll lift other limitations as well: they’ll allow access to the original, higher-resolution versions that I uploaded; they’ll give me unlimited storage; they won’t limit my uploads to 100 MB per month any more (and they’ll double the maximum size of a single photo, to 20 MB); they won’t delete my account if it’s not used for 90 days (did you know about that one?)

But that’s if I pay them $25 a year.

So I went over and started using my Picasa web albums. They already existed, created implicitly when I post photos through Blogger, but I’d not created any public albums there. I uploaded the Sweden photos to it (including three photos from a two-day visit last year), and then went on to go through all my Flickr photos, find the originals on my computer, and re-upload them to Picasa. The tedious bits were copying the captions and geotagging them again... but that’s done (and it wasn’t too bad, because, after all, there were only about 200 to do, right?), so now I have albums for the other photos, including

Here’s a bonus: now that I can put things in albums, I might go back and do that with some other photo groups I’ve never posted.

Now, Google doesn’t eliminate all limits either. But the only limit I’m aware of is that I have 1 GB in which to store photos. That will eventually be an issue, if I start posting a lot of albums. I can post lower-resolution versions, to delay it... and, in any case, I won’t have to worry for some time yet. By the time I do, perhaps Google will have raised the free limit.

If they don’t, well, I can get my limit raised to 10 GB. I’d only have to pay them $20 a year.

1 comment:

Ray said...

But the only limit I’m aware of is that I have 1 GB in which to store photos.

However, since your Picasa account is tied to your gmail account, all you need to do is open another gmail account, and voila!, another gigabyte.

Not quite as convenient, of course, but then, beggars can't be... oh.