Myron Kassaraba's weblog about digital photography on the web

Friday, October 24, 2003

Personal Servers - Act II

There is a new crop of devices coming to market that are designed to provide both peace of mind and new capabilities to home users who are now using PCs as repositories for their digital lives. A few years ago, Memora launched a personal server appliance. They are out of business though Google still has some cached information. Their focus was primarily on storing, organizing and sharing photos and music.

A new personal server/appliance from Mirra is leading with automatic backup as their value prop closely following with secure remote access and sharing (photos, music, files). Here's a good roundup article from NWFusion. Several limitations of the device are obstacles for me such as no support for Windows 98SE. The Mirra server is a Linux box that requires a client application to talk to it. Once connected to your DSL router the Mirra appliance talks to the Mirra servers to allow for secure remote access - In the past, this required poking a hole in your router's firewall - they seem to have been able to overcome this somehow.
Like other photo-sharing approaches, I assume the Mirra photo app allows you to send invites to friends & family who then need to set up an account at to access the files/photos you have chosen to share with them. If talked about this before - this is where using RSS would be really cool so that every time new content was added to a shared folder, notification would be available through a feed with a thumbnail of the photo. In some way the Mirra photo app and appliance can be used to run your own personal Ofoto service (the sharing part, not the printing) off of your server not some disk farm in the cloud. I'm sure some will find this attractive as Mirra solves the static IP problem by routing the access through their network.

Something that needs to be figured out is how all of this stuff works in practice in the digitally-enabled home. I get a little hung up on how to use a Mirra-device to manage the central repository of my digital images on my home network. Today, I connect my cameras to an older PII machine I have on the network with a 60 Gb drive and store the original files in date-coded folders. It has a CDRW drive so I can do periodic backups (I usually don't delete the files from the camera or memory card until I have a copy written on CD). I just hit a big snag since Adobe decided not to support Win98SE in version 2.0 of Album.

In conclusion, I think the Mirra or a network attached server/appliance like it is one of the pieces of the puzzle, though still not a real solution. I'm also not sure that I want my friends & family making their way to a machine on my network to get photos. I always liked the idea of having a 20 Gb drive inside a gateway so that you could put your shared data on the other side of the firewall. Maybe if the Mirra could automatically talk to my Shutterfly or Ofoto account to upload the pictures I wanted to share and print. With the billions of images now being captured in digital form, these management/organization/storage/backup/sharing issues are fertile ground for some innovation.

Friday, October 10, 2003

HP & Kodak Blog

HP Blog? Well not exactly .......

Hewlett-Packard Co., Palo Alto, Calif., launched a major advertising blitz Oct.
1 to promote its digital photography line and improve the computer maker's
stodgy image, The Associated Press reported. The ad campaign debuted with a
24-page insert in USA Today and it includes a Web log, or blog, where people can
submit photo collages for online publication.
Photo Marketing Newsline (October 08, 2003)

HP's new site for promoting digital imaging - you may have seen the commercials "you are the photo lab" - provides a place for users to upload their photos and tell their story. You know the blog phenomenon is peaking when everyone wants to say they have one -

From the HP Press Release = "HP has created an online "YOUstories" photo gallery blog (short for "Web log") and invites consumers to submit and share online photo
essays". These YOUstories are then displayed in a "gallery" that has a Flash
UI that personally I find very confusing and hard to navigate.

From ECommerceTimes article: "The digital photography movement is on the verge of becoming the newest, hippest form of self-expression and communication," Allison Johnson, senior vice president at HP, said in a statement. According to HP, the main message is that high-quality photography need no longer be complex, thanks to advancements in technology."
This is a very true statement! It is too bad when technology gets in the way of the message! Once you get to the user-submitted pictures, there are some very nice shots. The YOUStories are more "multimedia slide show" than a blog. This site is part of a high profile $300 million
ad and branding campaign, "You + HP", that is sure to raise the stakes in the consumer digital imaging market. This should be an interesting holiday season!

Kodak does blog.....

Smallville's Allison Mack is getting into her Kodak-sponsored blog & photo galleries on the WB site.

Publishing User-submitted Photos -

There is an increasing trend towards the publishing of user-submitted photos on a variety of web sites. These include public group blogs from events like the Blackout of 2003 (TextAmerica moblog) to sites publishing a "photo of the day". Kodak has used "photo quilts" in a similar way to promote the power of pictures and digital imaging with user-submitted photos. The Tribute to American Spirit Photo Quilt is quite moving and the National Park Photo Quilt has some great photos. All of these are great ways to get users more "photo engaged" and will have a positive impact on the sales of digital imaging devices, software and services. The more people feel that they have viewers for their photos (it could be a small group of firends or the whole World Wide Web) the more excited they are about taking photos. This is a major shift for an industry where the % of the population that has been "photo engaged" has stayed somewhat stagnant for decades.

Shameless promotion: these topics of how photoblogs, online photo journals and user-submitted photos are impacting the photo market are covered more thoroughly in the Future Image Market Study titled: Photoblogs - The New Paradigm for Photo Sharing.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

IDC Cameraphone predictions

298 million camera phones in 2007!

IDC: Smiles for the camera phone?. Sales of camera phones are expected to jump
dramatically over the next several years, but mass-market success for the
technology will ride heavily on customer satisfaction. [CNET - Front Door]

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Nokia & Blogging

Marketing Sherpa has published a fascinating Case Study titled: Nokia Tests Viral Marketing Via Bloggers to Launch New Phone. Nokia?s marketing people sought out bloggers to get samples of the 3650 camera phone. They were not asked to blog about the phone or to use the pictures on their blogs, only to take pictures with the phone and post them to Nokia?s micro-site. Well, guess what happened? They blogged about it, posted pictures on their blogs and sent traffic to the Nokia site -?several participating blogs were in the top 15 sites sending traffic to Nokia's microsite? says the Report.

I used to know the guys over at PC Mag's Labs down in NYC and was always envious of how many toys they had to play with. Hey, if you get a enough traffic to your blog, maybe you'll start getting free stuff to try and blog about!. You could be the next Walt Mossberg! Maybe my next blog will be about skiing or sports cars!

Nokia finds blogs to be an effective marketing & promotional vehicle for camera phone.

Belgians gets their own Photoblog site - is in Beta with several hundred users. It is amazing how similar this site looks to This is one of the concerns when thinking about approaching someone for funding for a photoblog site - the barriers to entry are quite low and the noise level is increasing. I'll go back to my point from an earlier post today. EBay succeeded by providing a safe and reliable place for individuals to transact and because of this, they were able to grow their user base and reach critical mass. The good news was the more traffic they got, the more people transacted - generating revenue to fund development and infrastructure.

One thing that came out of Sunday morning's discussion at BloggerCon was that developing commercial software can be very expensive - so can building a robust online service. Some of these early photoblog services that do not have a viable business model may become victims of their own success. You know what they say about "pioneers" - they are often the ones laying on the ground dead with the arrows in their backs.

Great Photo Montage of Toronto Skyline

Toronto in 14 hours. Toronto in 14 hours, by Sam Javanrouh, who owns the number one Canadian photoblog: Daily Dose of Imagery [MetaFilter]

Photoblogs can be both an outlet for instantly publishing photos from a camera phone and a creative outlet for both "pro-sumer" amateur photo hobbyists as well as for professional photographers. Daily Dose of Imagery is a photoblog by Sam Javanrouh, a visual effects and graphics pro. The effects of compositing multiple frames from different times of day of Toronto from a stationary camera are really breathtaking. Make sure to check out the Quicktime movie of the entire sequence of shots. is a good resource for finding other photoblogs. They seem to have tightened up their requirements and cleaned out some of the dead wood.

TypePad Launches

TypePad launches. it's called TypePad, and it's a thing of beauty :) [anil dash's
daily links

Though Anil can't be completely objective in regard to TypePad, the quote was actually from CNN/Buzz Factor! Type Pad is worth a serious look for a single web-based platform for both text and photo weblog publishing. These guys have really raised the bar in terms of providing a simple to use but elegant and extensible service for weblogs. Of particular interest are the photo features. TypePad allows the creation of Photo Albums as a stand-alone place to share photos in conjunction with your weblog. Photos can either be uploaded or emailed to an album. I wish there were better ways to include thumbnails from an album in a weblog post but I'm sure they will continue to evolve the product in subsequent versions. I know some will attack their decision to make TypePad a subscription service. Having lived through the last personal publishing revolution with free services trying to aggregate eyeballs for banner ads (remember or or, subscription services are one of the only viable models to run this type of business.

Having a subscription-based services is a wise decision for several reasons:
  1. if users are going to feel comfortable putting work and effort into building an online presence, they want to know that the service is going to be reliable and have the resources to continue to run and develop it. How many remeber the outrage from users a few years ago when went under - some users had uploaded years of photos what went "poof", never to be recovered.
  2. There is a very real opportunity for abuse on personal publishing services. Having a user base that has to give you a validated credit card is one way to try to keep a community "well lit". There is no guarantee that it won't happen, but is a high enough barrier that most people with bad motives will go elsewhere. This, I'm sure was the primary motivation in Microsoft's decision to close their forums only to subscribers.
    EBay has done a good job of creating a safe community for facilitating transactions between individuals. Do we need a similar "reputation-based" system for the exchange of information and ideas on the web between personal publishers?

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Megapixel Dreaming

I'm dreaming of a megapixel Christmas................
With so many new choices of "real" digital cameras, we're lucky to have sites like DP Review and Imaging Resource to keep us well informed about all of the newest models, I find their insights to be invaluable (they both also have RSS feeds!). From the $500 Kodak DX6490, new high-zoom cameras from Olympus, Fuji, Minolta, to the $999 Canon Digital Rebel, there will be a lot of first and second generation digital cameras getting handed down and replaced by some of these new models. I think we'll see a lot of users replacing one camera with two, an SLR-like camera that takes great pictures and a pocketable carry-everywhere camera. Now there's a bundle deal - buy a $799 five megapixel model and a get a free SMaL Camera UltraPocket. I'm sure SMaL would be happy to private label it for them!
This new Panasonic Lumix has a lot of positive buzz......

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ10. Panasonic has today introduced the first 4-megapixel
consumer digital camera with 12x optical zoom. Featuring F2.8 brightness
throughout the entire zoom range, the camera's powerful 12x zoom (equiv. to
35-420mm on 35mm). It has Panasonic's MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer)
which helps to deliver sharp, vivid images even when taking handheld telephoto
shots or shooting in low light. It is targeted for retail introduction in
November, and will have a manufacturer's suggested retail... [Digital Photography Review (]

Lightsurf is - "providing the underpinnings of instant imaging--the Polaroid of the 21st century." says founder Phillipe Kahn in new PC World Interview.

philippe kahn's doing moblogging?. the crazy frenchman behind Borland is finally back in the news [anil dash's daily links]

Lightsurf is a major player in providing imaging services and infrastructure for companies like Kodak and Sprint. I'm sure the interest and media attention around photoblogging has not gone un-noticed as well as competitive offerings from companies such as NewBay (see PicturePhoning link below). It will be nice to see the mobile operators recognizing that picture publishing (one-to-many) is just as important, maybe more, than picture messaging (one-to-one or one-to-few).

Irish Mobile Operator offers Phoneblogging Service, Newbay Software - who claims to have developped the world?s first mobile phone blogging system - announced today that its Foneblog service is now available to customers of one of Ireland?s leading mobile operators ? O2. []

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

LIFE Digital Journalist

Preview of new LIFE book illustrates the power of pictures...........

The Digital Journalist: 100 Photographs That Changed the World. The Digital Journalist website has presented a selection of images from the "100 Photographs That Changed the World" book, which were voted for by readers of LIFE and The Digital Journalist earlier this year. "A collection of pictures that ?changed the world? is a thing worth contemplating, if only to arrive at some resolution about the influential nature of photography and whether it is limited, vast or in between. We do not claim that LIFE?s 100 are the 100 or... [PhotographyBLOG]

A new book from Life Magazine's publisher Time, Inc. is truly a testament to the power of visual communications. Click through to the Digital Journalist site to view a subset of them. Many of the pictures are graphic and all of them are moving. These images and the stories that go along with them make you stop and think, they convey much more than the pixels that represent them on your screen. As our society gets more and more digital and electronic, are images loosing their ability to have the same impact? The "noise level" has certainly increased. 30 years ago it was the editors at LIFE that framed our view into the world based on the photos they selected to publish. Today, the stream of imagery is like drinking water from a fire hose. It is the paradox of open-source media. The free flow of ideas, images and opinions can be both empowering and overwhelming.