September 2009



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Where in the world? Location determined screen - Nice guess of Rome!

From where in the world is Matt Lauer to Carmen Sandiego to Waldo this is an age old theme (at least to the mid 1980s.)  And now Google has their own twist on the classic called, “Where in the World?“.

Techlife readers come to learn, engage and discuss at our little corner of the world.  Be it a reader who stops me on the street, emails in a suggestion, or comments on an article in the online site we welcome the interaction.  We have heard from thousands of readers, and while not everyone gets featured in a column, sometimes they get a mention.

Today’s column harkens back to our early days, as our newest find we stumbled upon all on our own.  This little secret game is almost hidden, I would call it an easter egg, yet it is sitting there in the open.  We have always covered neat visual tools here at Techlife. From our review of Picasa in “Picture Perfect” to “Life Poster: A Picasa How-To” to our most recent “How to Create Online Tilt Shift Miniature Photos” we have covered various fun things to do with your photos.  Now we will explore other people’s photos.

Picasa Web's Explore Tab

Our adventure started one day when a reader sent us trip photos.  Are you a little surprised?  Don’t be.  We get lots of fun things from the great readers of Techlife. After viewing the photos, I noticed the tab, “Explore”  near the Picasa logo, next to “My Photos” and “Favorites.”

Hey I love to explore!

So I clicked, you are taken to a pseudo homepage with a few interesting sections, each of which could take hours of time to Explore.  There are 12 “Featured Photos” which sort of change if you hit refresh, though same stay.  Then there is “Recent Photos” which you can watch in a slideshow format.  There are also 40 of the most “Popular Tags”, which is a method for indicating what a picture contains is about.  Popular tags include, wedding, vacation, lake, house, birthday, beach, flowers, you get the idea.  Then in a small corner is our hidden gem.

Picasa Web's Explore Screen

Titled, “Where in the world?” and a button stating “Start Game” with this simple explanation, “Check out photos from around the world and guess where they were taken!”  As Sherlock Holmes said, “The game is afoot.”

In a great mashup of their own tools, Google has used Google Maps and Picasa along with Geotagging to create their game.  (Geotagging is a method for tagging a photo with location data, indicating where on the blue marble we inhabit a photo was shot.)  Play is simple, you guess where the photo they show you was taken by clicking on the map of the world.  Sometimes the photos contain clues, subtle or obvious.  Your score for that photo is determined by how close your guess was to the actual location of the photo.  The closer the better.  You get five different photos per round.

Where in the world? - game screen

The game is strangely addicting.  Five clicks and you get a score.  Then you want to beat that score, then you convince yourself you will beat it the next round.  Then you do!  To celebrate let’s see if we can beat it one more time.  Okay an hour later, this is definitely my last game.  Hey look at that I got a high score!

My high score is 2,597 can you beat it?  Let me know.


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Techlife covers Hulu

Techlife was called into the principal’s office.  One of the Publisher’s of a paper that carries my syndicated column Techlife, called me to complain.  Now before you get all high-falutin’ as the superfans of  Techlife are often apt to do, and organize a FlashMob at the offices of the Publisher.  Let’s talk about the facts.

FACT: I have written Techlife since 2005.

FACT: I have written more than 230 columns to date.

FACT: I have had more than 5000 readers interact with the column.

FACT: I am stopped at least once a month for my good looks as the writer of a famous syndicated technology and life column.

FACT: We welcome opinions of all types, especially those that support the above fact.

“Not to shabby,” I can hear you thinking.  And of course you the readers have made this possible.  The phone call in question was a bit of a principle issue. (Notice how we used both versions of the word, who says we can’t turn a phrase.)  It seems that allegedly a reader or too contacted the Publisher thinking my column was more advertorial than witty, high brow, useful, well written, drivel that I intend it to be.  Let’s examine the recent evidence shall we, here are some recent columns in reverse order…

Now I submit to you a jury of my loyal readers, biased in all ways they should be, who have lined their birdcages read the columns does it sound advertorial to you?  Sure I throw in a bit about my life, my company, my family like all good writers do.  It makes me seem authentic and smart, a thinly veiled ploy to connect with the reader.  And if one of you were to contact me for cup of a coffee to discuss your own business ideas, would I not pretend to listen?  So if a few of these advertorial accusers would like to step forward, we can comment back and forth as so many others do here at Techlife. We welcome all feedback.  Special thanks to our Publisher and our Editors on this one.  Did I do Dave Barry proud?

In speaking with a client, I was told I often remind them of Michael Bluth, Jason Bateman‘s character on the show Arrested Development.  I had never seen an episode, but this client mentioned it was on Hulu.  So I proceeded to watch all of Arrested Development on Hulu, you might detect that a bit in this month’s column or else, I’ve made a huge mistake.

Hulu, a partnership between some of the major networks, has old and new movies and television shows that play in full screen on your computer.  Everything is on-demand, loading in a few seconds in HD.  It is well thought out and easy to use.  I don’t love the control factor, for example they recently cut out Season 2 and 3 of Arrested Development with no reason given, though message boards guess to sell DVDs.  I can already see the complaints by employers to my Publisher for introducing this time sucker.  And for that I know Dave Barry would be proud.


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