Google Photos: One step away from perfection

I’ve always felt, the single biggest contribution of the modern smartphone is the capability to take decent photographs. It’s removed a need for most of us to lug cameras around, and at the same time, exponentially increased our penchant for casual photography.

The logical outcome? An avalanche of photographs, more than we have time to sort and organise into some form of coherence.

I’ve been evaluating photo storage and management solutions recently, and Google Photos (formerly Google+ Photos) is likely the forerunner.

Why so? Consider these:

  1. Unlimited free storage for high-quality images (up t0 16 megapixel resolution)
  2. Mobile app allows automatic upload of photographs taken
  3. Automagical sorting (location, date, objects, even faces if you allow it)
  4. Intuitive creation of events, based around geolocation and timing. For example, it recognises photographs taken during a holiday, and automatically compiles them into a story.
  5. Auto Awesome: create GIFs from successive shots

Facebook is what I use for general sharing. It offers sync from mobile as well, and obviously, its face recognition technology is seriously unparalleled and has helped so much in tagging. Having said that, Google Photos swings some serious clout with the above features.

The only kink I can see? The lack of collaboration features.

I’m a big advocate of sharing and working together, and photographs are no exception, especially for parents. Let’s draw a really simple scenario here.

Right now, there seems to be no clear way for me to create an empty album on Google Photos, and allow my wife to upload her photos of our kids onto the album.

Can you see how much sense that makes? Instead of for example, her transferring the photos to a shared local folder, and me uploading them instead. There’s a Google Photos Backup app that allows me to specify folders for automatic upload, but it’s still a step away from the ideal answer. A workaround more than anything else.

Collaboration really matters. I’ve written before about how Facebook’s recent Scrapbook feature needs better collaboration, and I’ve always felt that the next stage of Facebook albums, would be to allow creation of memories instead.

For example, having everyone who’s attended a wedding, contribute their photographs to a logical container (let’s call it a memory) that allows everyone (especially the happy couple) to enjoy the collective moments as a whole, rather than using hashtags, or having every other friend tag them in the album.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still really happy with Google Photos, but let’s hope collaboration gets baked into the product really soon.


When 1.7% is a reason to celebrate

You know you’re really mad on statistics, when you get excited because the Facebook page’s total likes dropped 0.03% from last week, but yet the amount of Australian fans increased by a solid 1.7%. WAY TO GO!

And yes, I’ve been tracking our progress (geographic breakdown, week over week performance) on a spreadsheet.

I think I need a break. Either that, or a brain transplant.

The three story approach to a job interview

Sharing a really great tip from inreptech on reddit (original thread) on what could probably be the #1 tip for interview prep.


This seems like a good time to throw in my all-purpose interview advice for college grads: well before the interview, come up with three legit stories about projects you did in college, preferably group projects, and practice telling them to a friend or somebody. Then, in the interview, tell those three stories regardless of what question they ask you.

Like, say one of your stories is about a group project to implement a chess engine. Not impressive, probably not relevant to the job, but better than nothing. So:

Q “Tell us about a time you exhibited leadership”

A “Well, I had to take a leadership role in directing the efforts of three partners in my senior project chess engine, in which I….”
Q “Tell us about a time you had to deal with personality conflicts.”

A “Well, there were quite a few disagreements among my partners in my senior chess project, in which I…”
Q “What’s your favorite text editor?” ”

A I really enjoyed using Notepad++ in my senior project, in which I…”
Q”Tell me why I should hire you when you’re obviously hung over and wearing two left shoes.”

A “Well, if you don’t hire me, you’d be missing out on the skills I learned while leading my senior project implementing a chess engine, in which I…”
You get the idea. Point is, don’t go in there and hope to come up with answers on the fly. 75% of interview questions basically reduce to “tell us a story about a project you worked on”, so have a couple ready to go and you’ll do great.

Some other smashing tips in the thread, don’t forget to check it out.

I remember going for my very first interview back in 2003, and flunking it horribly because my mind went blank. Regardless of whether you have three stories or not, rehearsal is important, folks. Always practice, and don’t be afraid to take in critique from friends and family on how you fare.

Is that all it really is about?

So, that’s pretty much it, as far as GE 2015 goes.

Euphoria from SG 50, gratitude from the esteemed founder’s passing, and a goodly dose of “trust-in-us-not-them” won the fight. I’m glad the WP retained Hougang and Aljunied, but the swing in pro-PAP votes was surprising. I’d hoped that people would be keener to have in place, a budding alternative voice that could point out flaws in proposals, or at least be a voice for debate. Hopefully even engender transparency in government workings, and a more tolerant perspective when it comes to issues like LGBT rights and freedom of speech.

Not a government-in-waiting with ministerial-level candidates that could replace the PAP as a new ruling party with an immediate positive impact, obviously. To think that something like this could happen without transition is just silly, and let’s not forget no other party has fielded enough candidates to form a 2/3 majority.

Alex Au summed it up best, really.

The bottom line is this: This election result, when read against the 2006 and 2011 results, is very revealing of the Singapore electorate: one that is very comfortable with trusting an over-dominant government to steer the way and find solutions to immediate problems. It demands solutions, but is uninquisitive as to the details of the solutions, the modelling used, the price (in side-effects) to be paid, or whether these solutions store up problems for the future. This electorate will protest when it feels pain, but is easily pacified with short-term fixes.

I’m a believer in pragmatism and “whatever works” as much as the next man. But is that really it? This mentality reminds me of the general atmosphere of political apathy that existed in my younger years. It’s a little disappointing, to say the least. Well, here’s hoping trust isn’t misplaced and the PAP prove themselves worthy of the mandate.

Should Instagram add repost as a core function?

It’s interesting how Instagram has lacked a share button for so long. Third-party apps have added the repost capability and allowed IG users to share pictures with greater ease, but think about it. Instagram is a social media channel, and the basic premise of social media is about all about creating and sharing content we like. Without native sharing, Instagram loses an easily accessible channel of allowing content to go viral, which means greater reach for content, greater engagement (tons of love) thanks to an increased audience, and ultimately, greater popularity for its users.

Instagram appears to have made initial steps towards this goal, with a new “Send to” button available, that allows you to share images you like with specific friends.

Taking the road Twitter’s travelled

The next step? Definitely a share button, that I imagine will behave along the same lines of Twitter’s retweet function.

Think about the evolution Twitter’s retweet has undergone. Early Twitter users adopted the RT keyword as a means to identify a retweet. That later on, became integrated into Twitter natively. Nowadays, retweet has been baked right into the core as a function, even allowing users to quote tweets without excessive usage of characters.

Is there any downside to having a native repost function within the IG app?

Sharing instead of creation

Perhaps, the possibility of over-encouraging content sharing, as opposed to content generation. Without constant content generation, we might be looking at an endless stream of constantly reshared content on our Instagram feed, which might not be for the best. Imagine watching the same image pop up on your feed ten times within thirty seconds’ of scrolling.

Does that mean the repost is a bad idea? Hardly. But it might introduce further discussions on how feed quality could be maintained, without appearing overly spammish. For now, my vote is for the repost to be integrated into the Instagram app, natively.

The power of constructive criticism

It’s all too easy to make pointed, disparaging remarks on a topic, and all of us have done it before.

Pointing out flaws are a necessary step in the grand scheme of making things better, but what use is knowing a flaw, when a solution cannot be found?

Don’t be a cloud of doom that spews negative energy everywhere. Be positive, be constructive. When discussing a problem, make sure to offer ideas on potential solutions. Or better, offer to help in being part of the answer. There’s nothing better than lending a helping hand to people around you, and given the same circumstances, you’d appreciate the gesture too. Too many cooks spoil the broth at times, but at others, it might very well be the lightning bolt of inspiration you needed to make things work.

Every one of us knows how to whinge. What’s not as easy, is to participate in constructive discussion, and help engineer a solution to the problem at hand.


Of online advertising: CPM, impressions and campaign cost

If this is your first foray into the world of online advertising, terms like CPM, CPA and impressions might seem foreign to you. They’re not as alien as you’d imagine, however. Let’s take a quick look and understand how these terms fit together.

  1. First off, impressions. Impressions are the views a fully loaded online advertisement gets. This does not involve any action from the viewer (clicks are not evaluated in this metric). It’s a commitment from the site owner to an advertiser that X amount of impressions will be served, over a specified time period. Knowing the number of days in a campaign would definitely help in calculating total impressions, so here’s a handy tool to ease things along.
  2. Campaign cost is easy enough. This is the total amount of money an advertising campaign requires.
  3. How do we measure cost of impressions? A widely used metric is CPM, or Cost per mille. This refers to the cost per thousand impressions.

A very handy tool would be this CPM calculator from ClickZ. Fill in two of the three required fields, and hit Solve. The remaining metric is calculated right away. So long as you have two of the three metrics mentioned above, an answer shouldn’t be too far away.

Not sure what industry CPM looks like? Here’s a CPM rate guide that should give you a fair idea of how the number should look like.

Finally, how about CPA? Cost per acquisition, which refers to the cost invested in getting a sales conversion.