Thomas Hawk Digital Connection
Sat, 22 Oct 2016 13:12:25 +0000Cluck Yeah! Two New Downtown San Francisco Fried Chicken Sandwiches!
Downtown San Franciscans were treated to not one but two new fried chicken sandwiches this week in the heart of San Francisco’s Financial District. Two new restaurants, Organic Coup and The Bird are both located a mere 2 blocks off of Market Street. Organic Coup North of Market at 224 Kearny and The Bird South of Market located at 115 Montgomery.
The Bird is open Monday through Saturday from 11am to 10pm.
Organic Coup is open 11am to 3pm Monday through Friday for lunch.
Since who the cluck doesn’t like fried chicken sandwiches, I tried both this week and thought I’d write a few thoughts on each of these fine new chicken coops. My co-worker Sam Greene joined me (because birds of feather stick together) and I’ve added his thoughts on each section of this review.
Let the great San Francisco Cluck Off begin!
Ordering. (Winner: tie)
Although it’s probably not fair to compare the foot traffic at both of these restaurants on opening week, plan on spending a lot more time waiting for your chicken sandwich at The Bird than Organic Coup.
I arrived to a line already 50 deep at 11:10 am Friday at The Bird. The wait was approximately half an hour from start to finish. By contrast you get in and out of Organic Coup much faster. I went to Organic Coup on Wednesday and Thursday at 11:10am and there was no line. On Friday I went to Organic Coup after the Bird at around 11:45am and the wait still was only about 4 people for about 5 minutes.
Organic Coup had a very efficient ordering system. An order taker walks you through your order on an iPad. You make your designation side by side and then when you swipe your credit card the system automatically pulls your name and then uses your name to call you when your order is ready. The Bird offers a more formal across the counter cash register based system where they print out a receipt for you to sign. They do capture your name from your card as well though and use it to call your order.
Organic Coup has a sign up by the order taker that says no cash / no tipping. On their website they say that they are committed to paying their workers a livable wage and say that they “pay the highest wages in the industry.” With tax their sandwich is $11.
By contrast the Bird has you either write in or decline a tip on your credit card receipt when you sign. Their sandwich is cheaper at $9 with tax no tip.
I will write more on the whole tip no tip thing below, but I will say I liked the fact that Organic Coup doesn’t allow cash. Cash tends to slow things down and pretty much everybody has a credit or debit card these days.
I would clearly give the win to Organic Coup here based on the faster service, except for the fact that The Bird had a server come outside to the line and give everyone in the line a free sample of their clucking amazing ice cream sandwich, one of the best I’ve ever tried. Not only did they hand out free samples to the line, the guy handing out the samples came by afterwards to take everyone’s trash from the sample that was handed out. Such thoughtfulness and such an amazing treat made the line totally worth it. That was very smart. So the verdict here is a tie but both were pretty clucking great.
Ordering (winner: Organic Coup)
I’m a big believer in the holistic evaluation process so it is hard for me to say which restaurant offers an absolutely better ordering system. I would start by saying the ordering systems are different. The Organic Coup offers a clucking-efficient iPad based self-service ordering system while The Bird offers the more traditional cash-transaction at the register system. I personally like the iPad self-service system much better for a few reasons. For starters, the pressure of having to field a barrage of questions at the counter is completely removed with the iPads. Additionally, what’s nice about ordering on the iPad is that it gives me a little more time to consider what options are available before making my selection. This way you don’t have to fumble over your words dictating your order to the cashier while you’re looking at the menu. Sure, it may be a bit awkward and anti-social to prefer the iPad system, but the reality is that ordering through the iPad is much easier and simpler for all parties involved and saves everybody a little bit of time.
However, since the fried chicken sandwich itself is a bit simpler at The Bird in that there is only a spicy and non-spicy option as opposed to an overwhelming assortment of sauces to add and choose from at the Organic Coup, I didn’t feel like the register-based system slowed down the ordering process significantly. Overall, I think the two are tied for the best ordering system. The Bird’s products don’t complicate ordering at the register, and Organic Coups iPad system nicely handles more complicated orders.
Cost (Winner: tie)
Sure the sandwich at Organic Coup is two clucks more, but the fact that there is no pressure to tip and apparently you can feel ok about not tipping because of the living wage thing, it sort of makes up for the extra cost. If you tip a buck at the Bird, the sandwich still comes in a dollar cheaper, but I’m sort of a fan of including gratuity in the price of a product which feels more like what Organic Coup is doing. It would be interesting to know how much each place pays their workers, but to me there’s not much difference between paying $11/no tip or $10 or $11 with manual tip.
Atmosphere (Winner: tie)
Both sandwich shops feel really nice although just a little crowded. Organic Coup feels a little more like a chain/corporate (and with multiple locations it sort of is) vs. the pop up feel of The Bird. The Bird (which is in the space that the old Melt use to use) has some seating which is nice if you want to eat your sandwich there. Seating is very limited, but at least they have some. I usually take my lunch to go though so seating didn’t matter to me. The Bird offers you a water cup which is nice. Organic Coup is more open and airy and light in my opinion — both are very nice and clean.
Both restaurants had people with menus outside greeting you. Both restaurants had friendly employees. Both restaurants were marketing with the San Francisco “Cluck Yeah” tag line sure to appeal to millennials everywhere. The Bird uses a hashtag based #CLUCKYEAH while Organic Coup chose to go with an exclamation point based CLUCK YEAH!
Both shops were nice, clean and up to snuff. However, I feel like the Bird may have a slight edge in the overall atmosphere. Fist and foremost, the Bird has a larger space that is big enough to offer counters, seating, and complimentary water and bathrooms. Keep in mind though that around 11:00am when we went the place was hustling and bustling so it was difficult to find a place to stand and lean let alone sit and dine, so if you’re looking for a place to enjoy a leisurely meal I would look elsewhere. That being said, the fact that seating is available for less rushed and frenzied times during the day is a huge plus for me.
In contrast, the smaller, more cooped up space at the Organic Coup (no pun intended), did not feel large enough to adequately handle the 11:00am rush of lunch-goers who inevitably end up waiting on the sidewalk. Granted, the line at the The Bird wound around the block as well when we went — however, once all the hype dies down from the opening weeks for each location I think The Bird will be more attractive to a larger percentage of the lunch-going population since it does offer a place to sit. In light of all that, the smaller space offered by the Organic Coup is nice in that it sort of naturally moves folks along in and out of the building faster since nobody likes to stand around in claustrophobic, shoulder-to-shoulder, tight-knit spaces for long. If your intention is to grab your food and go, the Organic Coup is perfect. However, given the choice, I would rather have the option to sit and schmooze over a quick bite with a co-worker than feel rushed in and out of the place.
Secondly, the Bird felt like it actually had a personality. The interior design maintained what appeared to be the original look and architecture of the establishment that preceded The Bird. As a matter of personal preference, I thought it was nice that The Bird chose to maintain the integrity of style rather than give it a radical makeover to conform to the recognizable and modern look. There is an aura of traditional, classic fried chicken sandwich shop that emanates from the old-school single-letter-insert-menu hanging down from the ceiling. Overall The Bird presents itself as more of unique local, self-sufficient, one-of-a-kind joint while the Organic Coup is more of a modern and contemporary fast-food chain.
I have to hand this one to The Bird.
Nutrition (Winner: Organic Coup)
Organic Coup markets itself as America’s first USDA certified organic fast food restaurant. What’s more, they provide you with calorie nutritional information on their website. According to their website their Chicken Sandwich is 500 calories. For such a big fried sandwich I almost can not believe it is only 500 calories. They also offer a bowl, which is more like a fried chicken salad, with only 320 calories. For someone like me trying to maintain my sleek physique, those numbers are very reasonable and I appreciated that they shared them with me on their website.
The Bird does not provide nutritional information on their website. Based on the taste of their sandwich though (and the fact that it has mayo on it), I’d suspect it’s more than 500 calories.
I have to agree with the Hawk here. I think it’s clucking-smart that the Organic Coup makes an effort to disclose nutritional facts on its website to its frequenters. In the age of the IoT, information is data and data is power to the consumer. As a consumer, I feel clucking-empowered by nutritional information in what I’m choosing to buy and eat, even though the information may not necessarily ultimately drive my decision. For example, I may find that the Organic Coup is less calories than The Bird, but I may still like the bird better since it has those incredible pickles. Merely the fact that Organic Coup openly shares with us the nutritional facts so transparently makes me more trusting of them as a restaurant regardless of whether or not their sandwich is any healthier, less caloric or has overall more nutritional value than The Birds. Props to Organic Coup on this one.
The Sandwich (Winner: The Bird, by a beak)
First off, I have to say I liked both sandwiches. I will definitely be back to both in the future.
Organic Coup’s sandwich reminded me very much of one of my favorite East Bay secrets, the fried chicken sandwich at Bakesale Betty’s in Oakland only on a tasty bun instead of a roll. Organic Coup uses a vinegar based slaw with jalapenos in it just like Betty does. This is also the base for the slab of fried chicken that they serve with their bowl (which is more like a fried chicken slaw salad) and it is clucking delicious. You get a choice of four sauces for your bowl/wrap/sandwich. I got my sandwich with the vegan mustard vinaigrette sauce. The sauce was good but the irony that they were marketing my choice of sauce as “vegan” when I was eating a fried chicken sandwich was not lost on me. The spicy BBQ sauce seemed the most popular.
Organic Coup’s piece of friend chicken felt a little bit bigger to me than The Bird’s and hangs out of both sides of the sandwich.
As much as I enjoyed Organic Coup’s sandwich, The Bird edged it out here by a beak. Given the mayonnaise on the sandwich it definitely made it taste a bit richer. More than the mayonnaise though the chicken itself was more tender, flavorful and succulent. The Bird’s bird was a juicy, flavorful, delicious piece of mouthwatering bliss. The Bird’s sandwich had less slaw than Organic Coup’s but the slaw itself was a cabbage-onion-apple based slaw which gave it just the slight amount of sweetness that went perfectly with the spicy flavor. It also had Super Duper pickles on it which added a nice finishing touch.
The Bird had two versions of their signature sandwich, spicy and non-spicy. I of course opted for spicy and I’m glad I did.
The Sandwich (The Bird, it was beak-and-beak the whole way through)
Both places offer un-clucking-believable fried chicken sandwiches. Both offer great, high-quality sandwiches sure to satisfy any afternoon deep-fried craving San Franciscan dropping by for quick bite to eat. The Bird differentiates itself from the Organic Coup in a few notable ways. While both offer delicious crunchy deep fried gustatory experiences, The Bird seems to let their birds simmer a bit longer in the pan allowing a thicker, deeper-fried coat to form. The deeper-fried coat made it all the more delicious and rich, though perhaps slightly less healthy. Additionally, the sandwich served at the Bird championed an artfully infused African Berber spice in the batter that was a flavorful and interesting homage to the origins of the fried chicken sandwich.
The coleslaw prepared at the Organic Coup offered more intense, spicier coleslaw than The Bird though. It beautifully complimented the spicy BBQ sauce served with the sandwich that I had chosen. Additionally, the Organic Coup offered a much larger chunk of chicken than The Bird which made me feel like I was getting better value for the two extra clucks I paid.
However, although Organic Coup made an eggs-ellent final product, the bird at the The Bird was slightly more succulent and juicy than at The Organic Coup. I’m pretty sure there was an element of marketing responsible for this perception though. Since I knew in advance that the Bird only made 200 sandwiches a day for the lunch crowd I think I was primed to believe they put more TLC, attention and energy into making each sandwich perfect than the Organic Coup. Upon deeper reflection, however, I do not think the modern fast-food nature of the Organic Coup takes away from the quality of their artfully though more industrially crafted sandwiches. It was just an observation I made when writing this review. I simply think I got a bit luckier at the Bird at the time I went in regards to the juiciness factor of the chicken. All in all, The Bird stood out to me as overall slightly tastier due to the tenderness of the meat and the deliciousness of the deep-fry recipe despite its shortcoming in size compared to the Organic Coup.
The Logo (Winner: The Bird)
Very hipster San Francisco looking fox with a chicken sandwich in his mouth, would also look good on a Bon Iver album cover.
I didn’t really get into the extras beyond the fried chicken sandwiches in this review, but it is also worth pointing out that The Bird sells beer which may be a plus for some while by contrast Organic Coup offers fresh squeezed lemonade. I have a general rule that I don’t consume alcohol before 6pm so I can’t imagine having a beer at lunch, but for more thirstier friends that might be a good option to know about.
The bottom line is both of these new fried chicken sandwiches are abso-clucking-lutely delicious. So the next time you and your cluck buddy get a craving for some fried chicken sandwich for lunch try one of these two hen houses. You won’t be disappointed and you might even get a free sample of some ice cream sandwich to go with it.
Sat, 10 Sep 2016 15:51:38 +0000Flickr’s New Home Page is Fantastic!
Even in the new Instagram, Facebook, Snapchatty world, Flickr still remains my favorite place to share photos. I have now posted over 120,000 photos to Flickr and it remains my primary online archive for my body of work. Even though you don’t hear about Flickr as much in the headlines these days, there is still a very robust community there who shares great work every single day. I usually post two batches of photos each day to Flickr, once in the morning and once in the evening.
The value proposition for Flickr is compelling. Both free and $49/year Pro accounts offer 1 terabyte of storage for your photos. One terabyte should be enough for almost every photographer out there today. Fortunately for me, I’ve been grandfathered into the old Flickr Pro account structure, which allows *unlimited* photo storage. I have already passed 1 terabyte at Flickr, but I am a very rare outlier. 99.9% of the photographers using Flickr today are nowhere close to this limit.
In addition to generous storage, Flickr also gives both Pro and free accounts a terrific iPhone/Android app and a beautiful web experience. Where Facebook and Instagram downsize and degrade your photos, Flickr allows you to host your full high resolution original JPGs. This also makes Flickr a great place as an additional layer of backup for published JPG images. Pro accounts also get ad free browsing and sharing (that’s why even free accounts don’t see advertisements on my photo pages) which makes the account worth the $49 a year alone. There are also some nice additional benefits to going Pro.
Recently Flickr made a very significant change to the web version of the site. Flickr.com, the main home page has been completely redesigned and in my opinion is 1000% better.
You may or may not have the new home page yet, but they are slowly rolling it out to everybody over time. If you haven’t been to flickr.com in a while I’d encourage you to check the new feed page out. You have to be logged in to see the new changes, but they make following your Flickr friend’s photos such a better experience.
Several new design elements have been brought into the new feed page.
1. There is now a three column layout. Photos are easy to browse and you can just scroll down the page looking at photos from your contacts.
2. Preview. This is my favorite feature of the new feed. If you see a photo on a page that you want to see larger you just click on it. The photo instantly blows up big and beautiful in a very clean version on your screen. Even better, Flickr has incorporated keyboard commands to the large view of these previews, so if I like a photo and want to favorite it or comment on it I can just press the F or C key on my keyboard. If someone has uploaded multiple photos in a batch (like I usually do) I can also easily use the forward and backward arrow keys to go through a batch of photos, easily interacting with each image with my keyboard commands.
Once you are done looking and interacting with a batch of photos using preview, you can just hit the escape key and it takes you right back where you were to your place in feed. Very slick!
Previously if I wanted to go through my contacts’ photos I would have to go to the “People” menu item which was a very glitchy page that bounced around too much on page reloads. I still use the People tab because it allows me to filter between friends/contacts photos and sometimes I just have time to look at my friend’s images, but I’m finding that I’m spending the majority of my time following my contacts’ images through the new feed page. I also like that it includes entire batches of photos that I can click through if I want whereas the old People page only would show the last 1 or 5 images depending on how I set it.
In addition to providing a great new way to look at your contacts’ photos huge, the new page is very fluid and very fast. It feels like a big tech breakthrough vs. the old People page.
My only complaint about the new page is that like other pages on Flickr it still makes you hit the dreaded “load more” button when you get to the bottom of the page. I wish that Flickr used true infinite scroll like Facebook does. It is such a better experience.
At first I did not like that you cannot fave/comment on batches of photos directly from the page, but after playing around with preview and seeing how well it worked and how fast it was, combined with awesome keyboard shortcut commands, I became a convert and now flickr.com has earned a coveted spot on my bookmarks bar. Hats off to the Flickr design and engineering team for such an awesome improvement to the site.
There is a help forum thread on the new Flickr feed where you can read more about the new Flickr feed and see what others think of it here.
Sat, 16 Jul 2016 14:43:24 +000015 Photographs from Ed Ruscha and the Great American West
I had a wonderful opportunity to attend the press preview on Thursday for the new exhibition “Ed Ruscha and the Great American West,” which opens today and runs through October 9th at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.
Ed Ruscha has long been a hero of mine. With my own photography focusing on the American Road and my background growing up in Los Angeles, so much of Ruscha’s work has always rung true to me personally and I’ve felt a certain sort of affinity with it. Gas stations, neon signs, old swimming pools, and the images of a uniquely American experience, fill the current Ruscha exhibition. Mixed in with these beautiful, nostalgic and iconic images are the words that further explain this modern life: “Honey . . . . I Twisted Through More Damned Traffic to Get Here,” “God Knows Where,” “Slobberin Drunk at the Palomino” I remember back in high school or was it college once watching X, or maybe the Blasters or the Knitters perform back at North Hollywood’s Palomino, my memory is hazy and alcohol likely was involved.
“In 1956, at the age of 18, Ed Ruscha left his home in Oklahoma and drove a 1950 Ford sedan to Los Angeles, where he hoped to attend art school. His trip roughly followed the fabled Route 66 through the Southwest, which featured many of the sights—auto repair shops, billboards, and long stretches of roadway punctuated by telephone poles—that would provide him with artistic subjects for decades to come.” This may be all the inducement you need to read to get you to this show.
Here are 15 photographs that I took on Thursday at the new exhibit representing my own interpretation.
Fri, 03 Jun 2016 15:19:35 +0000Happy National Donut Day
Sat, 21 May 2016 23:12:06 +0000Your First 100,000 Photos are Your Worst
Henri Cartier-Bresson once said that your first 10,000 photos are your worst. The point of that statement was that photography ought to be an art that is perfected with practice, hard work and repetition. It takes time before a photographer feels as one with their camera. Over time though you eventually learn your camera backwards and forwards, the two of you are old friends and you handle it with the skill of an expert. Likewise, after enough experience you begin to develop your own style. You find what works for you compositionally. Light and color take central stage as you do what you do best, naturally, borne out of habit and experience.
I would change Cartier-Bresson’s quote in the modern digital age to say that your first 100,000 photos are your worst. Maybe it really ought to be your first 1,000,000 photos are your worst.
My love affair with photography began early when I was given my first camera, a Kodak Instamatic at the age of 7 or so. When I really became most interested in photography though was at the age of 15 when my parents bought me my first SLR. It was a Sigma camera with a zoom lens. The very first photos I took with that camera were the Summer between 9th and 10th grade when I rode my bicycle across America. I did the trip with a group called Wandering Wheels out of Taylor University. I rode my bicycle from Lincoln City, Oregon to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware over the course of about six weeks. It was one of the best things I did in my youth and seeing and photographing America in my youth has carried on with me as I continue documenting America now at the ripe old age of 48.
On my coast to coast trip in 1983 I shot Kodak slide film. I had the slides developed back in 1983 but I’ve never scanned or published any of these images. Today I finally got around to spending some time with Epson V700 and scanned in the 100 or so images I took on that trip. The slides are old, dirty and scratched, but here are some of my first 100,000 images.
Mon, 25 Apr 2016 23:27:03 +0000The 4th Generation AppleTV is a Flawed and Frustrating Device
*Disclaimer: Many of the problems of the 4th generation AppleTV are problems by the app creators for the device. Further, cable companies and content providers in many cases are likely disincentivized to make AppleTV a good or smooth experience. Cord cutting certainly hurts the profitability of cable companies and content providers are probably paid more by cable/satellite than AppleTV. I do understand that Comcast is directly responsible for much of what is broken on AppleTV. That said, I believe that Apple could do more to ensure that app creators fall into line. As the largest publicly traded company in the world, Apple has unique clout, an enormous amount of cash, and should bear more responsibility for a solid end user experience.
I purchased 4 new AppleTVs last year when Apple launched the new 4th generation AppleTV. I have also owned each previous generation of the device. With each release I’ve been hoping for something more and with each release I’ve been let down and disappointed by my experience with AppleTV. While AppleTV may offer the best solution available today, it’s a shame that it is still such a flawed and frustrating device.
1. My number one issue with AppleTV at present is that it feels like the content companies are at war with the device. Many of the content companies have created apps for the new AppleTV but these apps still require you to maintain a cable/satellite subscription. I am actually fine with this. I don’t mind paying the cable company to access content on my AppleTV. What annoys me though is what a miserable experience it is trying to actually consume your cable subscription content on AppleTV.
The basic way that content apps on the AppleTV allow you to access their content is by authenticating with your cable subscription. When you launch the app it asks you to go to a website with your phone or computer. Once you are there (each content app has it’s own unique approach) you are required to enter in your cable TV credentials and a code from your TV screen to “activate” that content. Having to do this multiple times for multiple apps on multiple AppleTVs is a drag. With my four AppleTVs it took me over an hour to authenticate all of the content on all of the devices. It should not be this difficult.
If consuming cable paid content on your AppleTV were as easy as spending an hour authenticating 50 times, even that might be ok. The problem with AppleTV though is that these content apps make you re-authenticate over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. When you are tired at the end of a day and just want to turn on HBO and watch Vinyl, it’s a drag to be jolted with the reauthentication screen yet again. It boggles my mind that my AppleTV and Comcast cannot find an easier way to verify that I indeed do pay and am entitled to consume the content. I’m sure Comcast makes it hard on purpose (it feels like you have to reauthenticate content every 48 hours or so), but Apple shouldn’t let them get away with that.
2. If the reauthentication were not bad enough, some of the content that I get through my cable provider that I want to watch the most is not even available. AMC is probably my favorite network for content right now (Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead) and there is no AMC app for the AppleTV.
3. Watching live TV is difficult. While there are apps (like CNN and CNBC) that let you watch live TV, it’s a pain to get to this content. With my Comcast X1 remote I just press and button and say “CNN” into the remote and instantly CNN comes on. When I press the mic button for Siri on my AppleTV app and say “CNN” I get a message on my screen that says “I’m sorry, I can’t do that here.” Even if I say “CNN Go” and get to the app, it still won’t let me watch live TV with Siri. I have to manually go through the menu process to watch TV (and many times once I go through all of this I’m just prompted with yet another requirement to reauthenticate for the 75th time).
4. Streaming content on AppleTV is a crappy experience. The other night I decided to watch a Bruce Springsteen documentary on the River on HBO on my AppleTV. While watching the show locked up at least 10 times. Sometimes it would take five minutes or more for content to resume streaming. While it’s tempting to blame my ISP for this issue, it should be noted that HBO plays flawlessly on my cable TV box and I have the fastest available internet speed available at present in my neighborhood. Content streams just fine to my computers, it only has freezing issues with my AppleTV.
5. Photos are boring on AppleTV. I have hundreds of thousands of photos that I’d like to consume on my AppleTV, but seeing the same photos over and over again gets boring very quickly. When you point AppleTV to a folder on your hard drive (through iTunes) of photos to share to the device, it will allow you to create a slideshow or use the screensaver for those photos. Unfortunately AppleTV only chooses about 100-200 random photos from the folder selected and just plays those photos over and over and over again. I would love to watch photos on my AppleTV but it needs to truly send me all of the photos randomized in a folder, not just 100 of them.
6. I was hopeful that Flickr would work better on the new AppleTV. On my 3rd generation AppleTV Flickr photos suffered the same limitation. If I had Flickr as my screensaver and pointed it to my 100 faves or more album, it would just recirculate 100 or so of the photos from that album. On the new AppleTV Flickr slide shows have the same limitations and Flickr screensaver does not even work at all.
7. I hate watching commercials. I love the Americans on FX and watch it each week. When I watch it on my Comcast box I just fast forward through all of the commercials with my DVR. When I watch it on AppleTV I can’t fast forward through the commercials, that’s a big drag. Also when commercials play on AppleTV it’s the exact same commercial over and over and over and over again. At least on real TV they mix up the commercials. Having to watch the exact same commercial 5 times in a show is dumb. It makes you hate the product being advertised even more.
For a 4th generation device I expect something better than what AppleTV offers up today. It’s easy to pass the buck and blame Comcast and the content providers for such a miserable experience on AppleTV, but I think that AppleTV also bears some responsibility for ensuring a better experience for their customers who purchase the device.
Sat, 09 Apr 2016 18:54:00 +000010 Bitchin’ Accounts to Check Out on Ello
Without a doubt Ello is one of my most favorite places to hang out on the interwebs these days. No site looks better for photos and in addition to a well designed web experience they also have a first rate iPhone app as well. Structured as a public benefit corporation, Ello has no advertising and they don’t target you and track your usage to sell your activity to advertisers. I hardly ever use Facebook or Instagram anymore because because the advertising just seems so overwhelming to me. I also find that I feel much more positive after spending time on Ello instead of Facebook and Instagram.
In addition to such a clean, ad-free experience, Ello has some of the most creative photographers, curators and artists posting anywhere on the web today. It’s always such a delight to find new and interesting people to hang out with there.
Below are 10 Bitchin’ Accounts to Check Out on Ello. If you’re not on the site yet, these might be 10 good accounts to start with. If you already are there you may already follow most of these accounts. This post could have easily been titled 100 Bitchin’ Accounts to Check Out on Ello or even 1,000 Bitchin’ Accounts to Check Out on Ello. In that sense, this list is almost a bit random, and just represents 10 accounts that came to top of mind that you might want to check out as is by no means meant to be exhaustive.
Pro Tip: when on a page on Ello use the = key to toggle between large photos and thumbnails for any user.
1. David Seibold. I’ve known David for a few years now. He hails from Bakersfield and is very active using various social media channels. One thing I like about David is that he interacts with others so well and really engages on the sites that he uses.
3. fxzebra. Karen Gkiounasian is a photographer and filmmaker behind the faxzebra Ello account and posts wonderfully creative works in a style of his own.
4. girlmuse. A self described vintage lover, child of the 70s, new bohemian and soul sister, girlmuse and I both grew up in the 1970s which is probably why I enjoy the nostalgia on Ello page as much as I do. A wonderful showcase of the best of vintage culture.
5. karinkarst. karinkarst’s account is full of wonderful digital abstraction. Combining photography with abstract processing there is a lot to love here.
6. katatonic. katatonic is Sarah Katherine from Colorado who always seems to come up with the best random images of the day.
7. lawnparty. Julie Fuller runs the LP account which focuses on fashion, styling and curating. Julie is also 1/2 of thecontinual account on Ello. It seems like so many of the great Ello accounts hail from Colorado.
8. Matt Harvey. I’ve enjoyed Matt’s terrific photography on Flickr where he posts as 75Central for many years now. Full sized photos on Ello though look even better than Flickr and so it’s always nice to see his work on Ello as well.
9. neonicecream. Andrew Simoni is a Santa Cruz based photographer and musician. He does wonderful work with water and wave among many, many other things.
10. belartandstyle. Each day I look forward to what Saatchi artist Bel Colozzi is going to come up with next. In addition to her own paintings and prints that she showcases, she does it with style and flair mixing in her photographs from her Arizona desert along with what seems like an endless need for coffee.
As mentioned before, these 10 accounts are but a tiny sample of the amazing talent you will find on Ello. If you want to see more beautiful work by the thousands of artists posting there daily, I’d encourage you to check out my loves page on Ello where you can find so many more interesting people worth following.
Are you on Ello yet? If not, what are you waiting for?
I post daily on Ello myself and you can check out my work on here.
Sat, 09 Apr 2016 16:43:47 +000020 Random Thoughts on Google Photos in a Rambling Stream of Consciousness Format
Not exactly beat poetry, this list is a rambling mess of 20 things that I thought about today about my experience with Google Photos.
This list is very poorly written and absolutely lacks coherence. It’s a stream of consciousness jumble of unrelated thoughts about Google Photos.
I’ve been using (and uploading to) Google Photos non-stop since it launched. I think the service holds great promise but is also flawed in some ways at the same time.
Disclaimer: these are my experiences. My experiences are probably different than yours. I likely have more photos on Google Photos than 99.999% of users, so things that may be broken for me may work perfectly for you.
1. My single biggest complaint about Google Photos is how long it takes to generate shareable links to content. Being able to share a photo or album or video by creating and copying a link is a nice feature, but in my case it typically will take several minutes to several hours in order for that link to actually work. When I create a link and copy and paste it I always get: “Album is empty use the plus to add items,” when I first try to share or access that album.
Link sharing should be instantaneous (like it is on Flickr), but even if it is not it would be better for the user to get some sort of messaging saying “your album will be ready in 27 minutes, come back later” or something like that. For the first six months or so I just thought sharing by link simply did not work, now I know it’s just a delay thing, although sometimes even after weeks a link will not be created.
2. Google face tagging is awesome! It’s wonderful to have my family and friends’ photos grouped by face and I love that I can go back and put their name on them. Unfortunately Google Photos would appear to limit you to 200 different people at which point the tagging functionality will no longer tag any new people. In my case Google Photos early on chose to facial tag a lot of musical acts that I photographed at Coachella leaving no space for other real friends that I wish were in there.
I’m not sure why there is such a low 200 face limit or why there should be any limit at all. At a minimum, Google Photos should let me manually tag people and then run facial recognition on these people instead of the random 200 that the software has selected.
3. I wish Google Photos had a public sharing option. Private by default is nice, but it would also be nice to be able to make some photos in the service public.
4. I wish Google Photos used all of the careful keywords and metadata that I embed in my photos. One of the nice things about Flickr is that when I add descriptive keywords to my photos in Lightroom and save them to the file Flickr automatically populates the tags along with the photo’s title and description. Google Photos ignores this data. I’m not sure why Google Photos does not care about this data as I would think it would be very useful for search and also very easy to include with uploaded photos. If Google Photos can bring in the iso and shutter speed setting with my photos, why not the keywords too?
5. Google Photos gives you a “card dismissed” message when you dismiss a card using Google Photos’ assistant. This message disappears after about 10 seconds. The problem is that if you are trying to go through a number of different Google automatic creations the page jumps as this message disappears. This makes you accidently click on the wrong place on the page all the time when trying to process more than one creation at a time. This message is not important enough to justify the instability it creates for use on the page.
6. On March 22, Google Photos announced smarter auto albums. It’s been several weeks now and I have not had a single automatic album suggested for me yet by Google Photos assistant. It would be nice to experience what these are like.
7. Since Google Photos launched I’ve found that it takes much longer to upload my photos to Google+, usually as long as 2 minutes or so to upload a photo. Not sure that this has anything to do with Google Photos.
8. Google Photos seems to do a little better job uploading photos than it did in the early days. In the early days sometimes it would only upload 50 photos for me in a single day. Now it typically will upload several hundred a day, but it’s still going to be a long time before it finishes with the 489,052 remaining in the current batch — and then I will still have many more batches to upload. By contrast Amazon Photos does not resize my RAW files at all and goes about 10x as fast.
9. Sharing very large albums with people does not work. At present Google Photos will not allow you to share over 2,000 photos at once. I spent a long time trying to figure out how to share all of the photos I’ve taken with my friend Scott Jordan with him the other day. Finally I had to give up trying and just create a new Google Account that we could both share and reupload all of the photos to that account. That was a pain and there should be a better way for people to share larger albums of photos.
10. Auto facial recognition is good but if it can’t auto tag everyone, Google Photos should let you manually tag people. A combination of automatic AI facial recognition with manual user tagging would make more complete collection.
11. When scrolling through your main Google Photos Library Google Photos will let you fast forward many years into the past. For example, it will start by showing me photos I took yesterday but then I can pull the slider all the way down and easily jump to say photos from 2010. When you are scrolling through photos of people Google Photos has facial tagged though they will not let you jump forward this way. If you have a lot of photos of someone getting to the year 2010 can take a very long time if you have to scroll through everything to get to that time.
12. Sometimes thumbnail versions of photos load very slowly on Google Photos. Other times they render quickly. Not sure why the difference at times.
13. When I search for cats on Google Photos it brings up a lot of photos of my black labradors. If Google Photos uploaded my keywords they would probably have a better idea that it was a dog in the photo than a cat.
14. The share photos to Facebook functionality doesn’t work for me on Google Photos. Sharing Photos to Google+ seems to work just fine though.
15. Google Photos has only identified 143 “things in my photos.” I’ve collected over 2,000 albums on Flickr, many dedicated to specific things. My Flickr albums are much better organized than my Google Photos albums — Flickr allows me to build albums by my keywords though, Google Photos does not. After using the service as long as I have with as many photos as I have I feel like it should have identified more than 143 things.
16. I have to launch Google Photos and the Assistant to get it to add photos from my iPhone to Google Photos on wifi. I wish as soon as my phone connected to wifi photos from my phone just automatically uploaded to Google Photos, even without having to launch the Google Photos app on my phone.
17. When you can get album sharing to work it can be a very powerful way to share photos with people. Here’s an album of all of the photos that Google Photos recognizes of my friend Robert Scoble by face. This includes both my processed and unprocessed photos so the quality is very mixed. I bet Robert hasn’t seen some of these photos.
18. I love how much infinite scrolling Google Photos uses. Paging sucks. Flickr should take notice of how much better Google Photos does infinite scrolling.
20. I wish in the share menu for Google Photos there was embed code where you could embed the photo on your blog or somewhere else on the web.
21. Duplicates seem to be a problem in Google Photos. Duplicates are a problem for everyone these days with multiple copies of images as backups, etc. If a photo is the *exact* same photo (size, image, title, etc.), 100% identical in every way, Google Photos should be smart enough to recognize that and only present one copy of the image to the user. Of course similar images, or images with the same title but processed differently, should be retained, but it feels like 100% perfect copies should not.
Tue, 05 Apr 2016 12:56:42 +0000Priime Styles for Mac
Disclosure: I am a style author and advisor for Priime.
One of my favorite ways to edit photos on my iPhone the past year has been with the Priime app for iOS. In addition to being one of the style creators for Priime, I’ve enjoyed utilizing the custom styles created by so many other talented photographers for my mobile photography. I don’t always have as much time to work with an image when I’m editing it on mobile and it’s nice to have some super easy styles that I can easily apply to my photos and quickly publish on the go.
As great an app as Priime for iOS is, 98% of my photos that I work with are still processed the old fashioned way, using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop on my iMac. One of the things that I love about using Lightroom in my workflow is that more and more you are finding quality external editors that can be used as part of your editing process. Recently Google made headlines when they decided to give away their Nik software (which I have also used for several years now and love). So I was really pleased to hear that in addition to the iOS app, Priime was also releasing an external editor for Lightroom.
The way that I use Priime Styles for Mac is as part of my normal Lightroom editing process. Here I can easily take a special photo (or batch of photos) and quickly move them into the Priime editor to make changes and then have copies saved back to the Lightroom catalog I’m working in. I don’t process every photo with Priime, but if I find one that is special I will often import it in there and work with it.
Sometimes you want just one final version of a photo, but oftentimes I find myself making multiple versions of a photo. While some photos look great in color or black and white. Some photos look great in color AND black and white. I like creating different versions of photographs and then later deciding which I like better or maybe even publishing a few different versions. Priime allows me to try different things with a photo that I may not have thought about creating organically myself in Lightroom. With over 100 different editing styles from some of the top photographers out there today, there are a lot of new things to explore.
The nice thing about editing something in Priime with Lightroom is that I can still iterate on that version even after I bring it back into Lightroom, adding additional edits or touches to the photo, customizing it more as my own even as I borrow edits from others.
I think Priime Styles for Mac will be an excellent Lightroom add on tool that serious and professional photographers can have at their disposal to make their photos look as good as possible.
In addition to more serious and professional photographers using Priime Styles for Mac as a Lightroom plug in, I think it also is a great first step for the new or emerging photographer. Some people are not quite ready yet to pay $10/month to Adobe every month to use Lightroom. They just want something that can quickly make their photos look better that’s a bit more affordable.
Even if you are not a Lightroom user, in fact especially if you are not a Lightroom user, Priime may be something for you. In addition to the Lightroom plug in, Priime can also be used as a standalone editor as well. You simply launch the app and then drag and drop the photos that you want to work with. For a lot of people $24.99 (on sale for launch) as a one time cost is a better value proposition than paying $9.99 a month ongoing for Lightroom.
Priime Styles for Mac has a great Explore function as well. This allows you to look at all of the styles as they’d be applied to a photo at once, which makes it easier to narrow down what might look best.
Another way I think Priime can be helpful is for the less serious photographer/blogger who just wants a consistent look for a batch of photos. A lot of bloggers I know are not exactly photographers but need to include images with their posts. Priime Styles for Mac allows bloggers an easy go to solution where very quickly they can edit a batch of photos and have a consistency to their photos that makes them work much better together as part of a total post.
Priime Styles for Mac supports JPG, RAW and TIFF files.
Fri, 01 Apr 2016 04:21:21 +000047 Random Thoughts on Flickr in a Rambling Stream of Consciousness Format
Not exactly beat poetry, this list is a rambling mess of 45 things that I thought about tonight about my favorite photo sharing site Flickr. This list is very poorly written and absolutely lacks coherence. It’s a stream of consciousness jumble of unrelated thoughts about Flickr.
There is no order or rhyme or reason behind any of these thoughts. These are just my thoughts as a heavy user who uses the site every day.
1. Flickr could be the most successful stock photography site in the world. They could be bigger than Getty Images and could become the leader of a multi billion dollar industry.
2. On the Flickr mobile app, comments specifically take too long to load.
3. Yahoo requiring phone numbers to create accounts (and by extension Flickr) greatly reduces the amount of harassment and trolling that takes place on Flickr. This is a positive thing.
4. On the Flickr mobile app you eventually run out of your contacts’ photos. There should be no reason to run out. When people run out and it defaults to a repetitive staple of Flickr promoted photos this encourages the user to close the app and go to another social network. Flickr should strive to keep users in their app for as long as possible.
5. While the “connect” splash page in the mobile app encouraging users to try to hook up their Facebook and Twitter friends in Flickr is likely a good thing, after you have seen this splash screen 500 times it’s just wasting real estate. Flickr should limit the number of times it shows this screen to users or allow users to dismiss it after say 60, 70, 300 times it’s shown and no action is taken.
If you actually click on the “Facebook” button on the connect screen and follow it through, it is the most convoluted mess I’ve ever seen in a mobile app and asks for Facebook verifications, SMS, and all kinds of other things that no user would actually go through.
6. On the Flickr mobile app you can double tap to favorite a photo. Frequently I will accidentally tap the photo once and an unwanted larger version of the photo appears. Instagram does not have this problem. Might there be another gesture to open larger photos or an option for advanced users to disable one click photo opening?
7. Groups were where the magic happened in the early days of Flickr and the conversations that took place in the discussion forums were powerful social lubricant. By diminishing the discussion functionality of Groups, Flickr hurt social on Flickr. Groups can and should be rebuilt and represent Flickr’s greatest possible potential in social. The rebuild should focus on social and conversations over pool photos.
8. Flickr allows you to view your contacts’ photos by contacts and friends and family. More customization here would be helpful. Google+ failed but their idea for circles was interesting. Allowing advanced users the ability to create more than two buckets would be a wonderful power user feature.
9. Sometimes users will change the “date uploaded” on their photos to make their photos appear more often in their followers photos from contacts page. This can be annoying as a consumer of photography, but I get it, they want more views on their photos.
10. Flickr still needs strong block functionality. Facebook has done a much better job here and should be studied. If I block someone or someone blocks me, Flickr should do everything in its power to make sure that we are entirely invisible to each other. This should include making comments invisible from someone you are blocking in all areas of the site, including the help forum and groups especially. When you block someone their photos should not appear in your search results on Flickr.
11. When you block someone their existing comments will be removed from your photos. This should happen faster than it happens at present.
12. My single personal biggest complaint with Flickr today has to do with the photos from my contacts page. As the page adds photos it jumps around. Very often exactly as I’m going to favorite a photo the entire page will jump and I will accidentally open a photo that I did not mean to open. This page should remain static and in place as new photos are loaded.
13. Collections and Profiles should both be included under the “You” menu at the top of the Flickr page.
14. Explore is interesting but it would be more interesting if there were two versions. One for general Flickr and one specifically for the people that you are following.
15. Flickr needs a better way for Flckrmail to work on mobile.
16. The non-app mobile site for flickr m.flickr.com is very slow. Chrome users frequently have to use “request desktop site” to use the web version of Flickr on mobile.
17. Publicly designating Flickr “Pro” accounts as well as prominently showing the date someone joined the site are very helpful tools. It allows users a good way to gauge authenticity of accounts.
18. I never use any of the camera or editing functionality of the flickr mobile app.
19. Flickr is currently the best site on the internet for photo sharing for more serious photographers.
20. On the Flickr photo page there is a “date taken” field. This field should link to the archive view of that date for the photographer in question.
21. I love using SuprSetr for managing my albums on Flickr. I don’t know why when using SuprSetr Flickr’s API limits me to 4,500 photos in an album.
22. Personal interestingness scores seem to have deteriorated over time on Flickr. There especially seems to be given preference for more recent photos, but overall it feels like it’s heavily discounting the value of favorites, comments and other social data. The result is that when using the Flickr API to sort a SuprSetr album by interestingness, it is not really in the best order.
23. Similarly with search on Flickr when you search and rank by interestingness. A photo with 1 favorite should not appear ahead of a photo with 100 favorites.
24. The “albums” page for Flickr users should not have any paging at all, it should infinite scroll forever.
25. Recent Activity is the most important page on Flickr. It is so well done and the ability to filter it by different types of activity is very powerful.
26. I wish Flickr had so much more infinite scroll than it does. While iterating on designs over the past few years there was a point when it had more than it has today. If I had it my way I’d never have to page on Flickr for anything ever.
27. Stats are awesome and worth the price of Pro alone.
28. When looking at your Flickr contacts’ photos if your mouse is over a photo and you press the F key on the keyboard it should favorite that photo.
29. I miss notes in Flickr.
30. In most areas of Flickr they use an empty star for an unfavorited photo and a full white star for a favorited photo — except on the photos from your contacts page where a full white star means the photos is unfavorites and a pink star means the photos if favorited. Flickr should be more consistent. On the photos from your contacts’ page it should be changed to match the format with the rest of the site.
31. When you hover over a tag on Flickr it should tell you who added that tag. Flickr used to do this.
32. Flickr should show more than 6 albums on the main photo page without a user having to click on “show more albums.”
33. I love the fact that flickr uses AI to auto tag my photos with tags that I forgot.
34. Sometimes I feel like I’m interacting with photos from people on Flickr that are just autoposts from their instagram accounts and that these people do not really interact on Flickr. Instagram auto posts to flickr diminish the authenticity of the flickr experience and are much less valuable than organic posts to flickr.
35. Interestingly enough my own personal Instagram to Flickr functionality has been completely broken for about a year. Probably Instagram’s fault though.
36. Sometimes if I put 16 photos in the uploader form to upload some of the photos immediately generate a thumbnail while others might take several minutes to generate a thumbnail. I’m not sure why this is and feel like all photos should generate a thumbnail immediately.
37. It is a very cool thing that Flickr has figured out a way for both regular content and adult oriented content to exist on the same site.
38. I wish there were a way for flickr to identify photos that have signatures, watermarks or borders and then give me an option to eliminate those photos from my search results.
39. Flickr is an amazing tool to find things to photograph if you are going to be visiting some place new. It’s my number one “go to” place for researching things to photograph ahead of any trip that I embark on.
40. I’d love to see “suggested” facial tags for my flickr photo stream that would go into a holding bin for my approval and private photo facial recognition along the lines of what Google Photos offers today, grouping people into private albums.
41. Yahoo Image search should rely much more heavily on Flickr than it does. Flickr has the largest, high quality, highly organized collection of images on the internet today. Yahoo image search should strive to send traffic to Flickr photos over other photos on the web and should weight Flickr images and Flickr tagged images (and especially highly rated interestingness images) very high in their image and web search results.
42. It’s harder for me to blog flickr images on my blog than it used to be. The html doesn’t render right. Having the old code was cleaner.
43. I should be able to have an easy option to exclude certain flickr users from my search results when searching for images on Flickr. This is different than a block, I should just be able to easily exclude a list of users from my search results.
44. With regards to search results there are two different thumbnail views I can select. I wish I had a third that was just a bit bigger and more consistent with the size of photos on the “photos from my contacts’” page.
45. I always visit the Flickr page of anyone who adds me as a contact on Flickr. If I like what I see I add them back. If their photos have signatures, watermarks, or are largely commercial related images I never add them back.
46. You should be able to like or +1 individual comments on Flickr like you can on Facebook and Google+.
47. For some reason I can view the last 1 or 5 photos from my friends but I can only load the last 1 photo from all my contacts. The last 5 photos from my contacts causes the page to hang.