Monday, September 17, 2007

Windows Live Photo Gallery - Almost right

Windows Live Photo Gallery is a digital photo management application that is part of the Windows Live family of services. It is probably an attempt by Microsoft to create a complete and seamless online experience and compete with the likes of Google and Yahoo.


The downloadable installer is a common for other Live applications like Live Mail, Live Writer, Live Messenger etc. and provides the options for selecting the required Live applications. In some ways it is similar to Google Pack except that all the Live applications have a similar look and feel.


The Live Photo Gallery interface is by default divided into 3 vertical panes. The left most pane list the grouping into which the photos are organized. The groupings into which the photos are organized are

  1. Folders
  2. Dates and
  3. Tags

The grouping are not mutually exclusive and the same photo can be accessed through any one of the above groupings. A screen shot of the interface can be found below.


Selecting a photo in the middle pane displays its properties in the left pane and enables the toolbar at the top which provides the options to

  1. Fix -  Make corrections and adjustments to the photo
  2. Info - Displays basic information about the photo in the left pane
  3. Print - Provides options for either printing or uploading to an online provider.
  4. Publish - Support for publishing on Windows Live Spaces or MS Soapbox (for videos only).
  5. Make - Creates a data CD or a panoramic stitch from the selected photos.
  6. Open- Opens the photo using the selected application.

Right clicking on a photo provides the usual selection of options. However, the one option that I found useful was to change the date and time of the selected photo(s).

Photo Import

The import feature of the Live Photo Gallery is one of its distinguishing feature. It groups the photos on the camera by dates. The import properties of each group of photos can be set separately. Hence, in one import session photos can be imported into multiple destination directories and tagged with multiple tags.

The import feature provides the option for automatically rotating photos during the import and deleting the photos from the camera after the imp0rt is complete.


The indexing performance of Live Photo Gallery was pretty fast. In fact it did not seem to be doing any obvious indexing at all. The photos from the directories selected for inclusion seem to just appear when the application is started.


Windows Live Photo Gallery take in isolation as an application is well designed and implemented suited for organizing and light weight editing of photos.

However, photo sharing through Live spaces prevents it from being the perfect application for sharing photos considering the fact that sharing photos through online services has become the primary method of sharing photos with friends and family.

The Live spaces interface for sharing photos is cluttered and I could not find an option to send an email to share a gallery.

However, since the application is still  a beta  I hope Microsoft will improve the online sharing service which would make Windows Live Photo Gallery the perfect application for organizing and sharing photos.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Quintessential phone pda, Motorola Q

This is kind of late to be writing about the Motorola Q. However, I wanted to wait till get a complete feel of the phone before shooting my mouth of about it. Please find below my impressions of the phone.

I got a silver Motorola Q from Verizon Wireless about 5 months for the nice price of free after the discounts. The discounts that were applied were the new every 2 as well and the discount for adding the data plan.

Initially there was a bit of apprehension about using a smart phone without the touch screen interface. However, as I started using the Q the lack of the of a touch screen interface did not feel like a drawback. The ability to operate the Q with one hand more than makes up for the lack of the touch screen interface.

The Q is first a phone and then a pda. The number keys though overloaded with alphabets and characters start the dialout process as they are pressed . In addition the numbers in the contacts and the call list can be looked up by pressing either the first few digits of the number or the first few character of the contact. All the above operation can be comfortably performed with one hand just like a regular phone. The Q has voice activated dialing software included. The voice activation is speaker independent and no voice tagging or training is required. The voice activation needs some practice. However, once familiar it works like a breeze even with a Bluetooth headset.

The pda functionality of the Q though subservient to the phone is no slouch. The full QWERTY keyboard requires some familiarization. However, after that using it is quite comfortable. The keys provide nice feedback on pressing and they are a nice compromise between size and functionality. The Outlook email client can be configured to sync with Microsoft Exchange over the air and/or pull email through pop. The included IE (pocket version) can be used to browse the web, though it can be quite frustrating since most of the web content is not yet formatted for mobile displays.

The camera on the Q is quite ok and take mediocre pictures and video under normal lighting conditions. The Windows media player can play most if not all Windows formats (though I should admit I haven't tried it out). The battery life on the Q used to be quite pathetic initially. However, after applying the updates it is quite satisfactory and it lasts about 3 days on a full charge.

The Q was described initially in some circles as a Blackberry killer. However, 'crackberry' addicts have not dumped their Blackberries to pick up Qs. The Q appeals more to the first time users more used to regular phones tentatively dipping their toes into the world of smartphones and apprehensive of a difficult learning of a full fledged smartphone.

In conclusion, I have been using the Q for the last 5 months and have been quite satisfied with it. The intial apprehension of having a striped down smartphone has given way to appreciation of the simple design and the simplicity of use.