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Create Beautiful Photo Collages Free and Without Software

Posted by Alan at 6:21 AM on May 17, 2013

There are numerous apps that you can download and install on your computer to allow you to bring together multiple photos into one single image, known as a collage. But why would you want to junk up your computer with yet another app? These days, web apps can do much of what we need, from file conversion to word processing and image editing.

So you want to create a beautiful collage as a gift for grandma? You can do this, as well, without purchasing expensive software or downloading and installing an app that may or may not work. In fact, you do not even need to pay for the privilege of gaining this capability.

There is more than one source for pulling off this fete, but let’s focus on just one that can do almost whatever you wish, does not force you to open your wallet and has plenty of capability. This web app has the cryptic name of piZap.

piZap does more than just create a collage. The online service is also a more than capable photo editor that is designed with real users in mind. In other words, you do not need a computer science degree here because this is made for every user from advanced to beginner.

Let’s get Started

From the homepage, it is rather hard to miss that large green “Start” button – it is an obvious beginning point. Click it and you will be transported to a Flash-based webpage that presents five options, including “Edit a Photo”, “Timeline Covers”, “Backgrounds”, “WebCam Effects” and our choice – “Make a Collage”.

menu screen

When “Make a collage” is clicked you will be bombarded with options. These are shapes broken down by number of images included and patterns, collages with backgrounds, ones that are framed, even those specially crafted for holidays.

Let’s be rather boring and choose square images. As you can see in the screenshot below, we have numerous options to choose from. Pick a pattern by clicking on the design that suits your tastes.

pizap collage shapes

Add Photos and Effects

Each image space contains an “Add Photo” option, plus there are a number of effects down the right side of the web page. There are also more options presented across the top of the screen, including such gems as text, frames and stickers.

You can upload images from your local computer, or ones stored elsewhere on your network. In addition, the app provides the ability to grab images from Facebook or through your webcam.

add photos

As an illustration of just what piZap is capable of, I elected to use the same image in all four areas of my chosen collage pattern. I then applied a different effect to three of those, while leaving the top left in original form.

The results can be seen in the image below, but this gives only a minor idea of all of the options and effects that are available from this free service.

add effects

Now What?

So now that you have perfected your new collage, what’s next? Well, you could go to the top menu and add one of the many frames available, or perhaps include some text.

However, once you are satisfied with your new masterpiece you can click the green “Save” button that appears at the top right. This will provide options to share the image on Facebook, Twitter or your My piZap account (make it public or private), as well as the more traditional option of simply downloading the collage to your computer.

If you choose to download, and I imagine most customers do, then you can always use traditional desktop apps like Photoshop to make additional refinements. You can then make the image your desktop wallpaper, print the collage yourself or use an online service such as Shutterfly for printing. You could also simply email it to grandma or other interested friends and family members.

Ustream Producer Pro vs. Livestream Producer

Posted by JenThorpe at 2:07 PM on April 12, 2012

I recently compared Ustream Watershed to Livestream Producer. In addition to Watershed, Ustream also has an offer called Ustream Producer Pro. How does it compare to Livestream Producer? Here is the information you will need to see the similarities, and the differences, between the two.

Price:

Ustream Producer Pro : There are three different prices, depending on which plan you want.

The Starter is $99/month. This gives you 100 viewer hours. If you go over, you will be charged $0.50 per additional viewer hour.

The Standard is $499/month. This gives you 4,000 viewer hours. If you go over, you will be charged $0.25 per additional viewer hour.

The Enterprise is $999/month. This gives you 9,000 viewer hours. If you go over, you will be charged $0.20 per additional viewer hour.

A viewer hour is the cumulative amount of time an audience watches your stream. The example they give is if 10 people watch your stream for 1/2 hour, that would be 5 hours of cumulative view-time. It would equal 5 viewer hours.

Livestream Producer: $45.00/month – unlimited bandwith. No overages, ever.

Is it embeddable?

Ustream Producer Pro: The Starter does not include embedding. Both the Standard and the Enterprise allow for embedding. Broadcasters who purchase the Enterprise package will be able to remove their content from the Ustream site by hiding their live channel pages.

Livestream Producer: Not currently available

Analytics and APIs?

Ustream Producer Pro: As far as I can tell, it is not currently available.

Livestream Producer: Not currently available

Storing Recorded Video on their site

Ustream Producer Pro: The Starter has 50 GB of storage. If you want more, it will cost $0.50/GB.
The Standard has 500 GB. If you want more, it will cost $0.20/GB.
The Enterprise has 1,000 GB. If you want more, it will cost $0.12/GB.

Livestream Producer: Bandwith and video storage on the New Livestream platform is unlimited for the life of your plan.

Is it ad free?Ustream Producer Pro: All Ustream Pro Broadcasting packages remove all in-video ads, as well as display ads on your channel page. Ads are even removed from embedded players and recorded content.

Livestream Producer: Yes. You can do live streaming without any advertising.

Integration with social media

Ustream Producer Pro: It has a “widget” framework that will allow you to integrate with outside services. Current extensions include: Facebook Fan Page “Like” Button, Twitter Follow Button, iTunes Promotion, Amazon Promotion, Thumbplay Ring Tones, and Custom Uploaded Banners. New services will be added in the coming months.

Livestream Producer: There is a New Livestream for Producers iPhone app which can be used for live encoding and real-time posting from your iPhone. Livestream Producer does integrate with Facebook. Users can “like” posts, comment on posts, and receive notifications of upcoming events.

New Livestream Producer vs. Ustream Watershed

Posted by JenThorpe at 12:57 AM on April 12, 2012

Recently, Livestream introduced something new called Livestream Producer Account. You might be wondering how it compares to the Ustream’s Watershed offer. Both of them are designed to be used by people who are experienced web developers. Each service will allow a user to stream video through their services. There are several differences between these two offers.

Price

Livestream Producer: $45.00 / month – unlimited bandwith. No overages, ever.

Ustream’s Watershed: Well, it depends. Ustream is going to base the price on how many monthly viewer hours you use. For $49.00 / month, you can use up to 500 monthly viewer hours. If you go over that limit, you will be charged $0.40 per additional viewer hour for that month.

If you have a bigger audience, then you can choose from $179.00 / month for 2,000 monthly viewer hours. If you go over that, you will be charged $0.30 per additional viewer hour. Or, you can pay $879.00 / month for 11,000 monthly viewer hours. If you go over that, you will be charged $0.20 per additional viewer hour.

How does Ustream calculate viewer hours? It is based on the number of viewers and is calculated to increments of seconds. The example they use is that 10 viewers streaming for 30 seconds is 5 minutes of usage.

Is it embeddable?

Livestream Producer: Not currently available

Ustream Watershed: Yes.

Analytics and APIs?

Livestream Producer: Not currently available

Ustream Watershed: It has analytics. Website dashboard reporting provides a variety of data and graphical metrics to measure success. The main page says it has “robust API integration solutions”.

Storing Recorded Video on their site

Livestream Producer: Bandwith and video storage on the New Livestream platform is unlimited for the life of your plan.

Ustream Watershed: You get 500 GB / month of video storage included in whatever tier of the monthly payment plans that you are using. If you need additional GB you will be charged $0.30 / GB.

Is it ad free?

Livestream Producer: Yes. You can do live streaming without any advertising.

Ustream Watershed: As far as I can tell, it is ad free.

Integration with social media

Livestream Producer: There is a New Livestream for Producers iPhone app which can be used for live encoding and real-time posting from your iPhone. Livestream Producer does integrate with Facebook. Users can “like” posts, comment on posts, and receive notifications of upcoming events.

Ustream Watershed: No support for mobile applications. No integration with Facebook or Twitter. Limited chat functionality.

CourseSmart On-Line eTextBooks

Posted by Andrew at 8:41 PM on February 23, 2012

CourseSmart logoCourseSmart is a higher education content delivery system that delivers e-textbooks to over 2.5 million students and faculty members. Sean Devine, CEO of CourseSmart talks to Jeffrey and Andy about the system.

CourseSmart brings together content producers and content consumers, typically publishers, lecturers and students in over 7,000 universities and colleges. The organisation is owned by a group of publishers but it distributes content from a wider range of content producers. Over 30,000 original textbooks and other products are on-line at their website and the publications can be integrated into the college’s electronic learning environment.

As with most things digital it’s not possible to buy or sell e-textbooks secondhand and the book is really just rented. The CourseSmart books are typically 60% cheaper than a new paper book and naturally they’re always in stock. For today’s mobile student the books are delivered through multiple devices – web browser, web app, iPad, iPhone and Android apps.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine and Andy Smith of Geocaching World.

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PlayPlay

SnapCuts Video Messages

Posted by Andrew at 2:45 PM on February 19, 2012

The nuances of human interaction are so complex that even as adults we often misunderstand one another and at other times, we want to shout our message plainly from the rooftops. So to help us communicate more effectively, SnapCuts offers video messaging using prepared clips from film and TV to help pass on the message with clarity. Think “I’m sorry”, “Thanks for being my friend”, “I got the job!”

SnapCuts

The SnapCuts website lets you create the message you want to convey from a fair selection of clips from film and TV. Some are definitely classics, others are unknowns (to me anyway), but there’s enough to get your message over, which is probably the main thing. There is tag search, so if you are looking for clips that have a particular theme, you can find them easily enough. The site has an easy-to-use editor – the snapper – that lets you set up a string of clips, if that’s what you need.

The site is free to use and all the clips are legally licensed too, so there’s no dodgy stuff here. The business model is to encourage rights owners to license the clips in return for a link from SnapCuts to where the full film or TV show can be purchased. Nice idea.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine and Andy Smith of Geocaching World.

Support our coverage sponsors:
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Grooveshark Goes HTML5

Posted by Andrew at 2:36 PM on January 14, 2012

Grooveshark LogoIn order to get round all those pesky app store rules, the musos at Grooveshark have produced a basic little HTML5 player that’s available via Grooveshark’s website. If you’re not familiar with Grooveshark, it’s “the world’s largest on-demand and music discovery service. With over 15 million songs, Grooveshark is an ecosystem that brings together music fans, bands, music labels, and brands.”

A posting on their blog yesterday said:

In an effort to span over this confounded series of tubes and reach as many mobile music listeners as we can, we’ve done the unthinkable.

iOS? We got there.
Android 2.3+?   We got there.
Playbook? We got there.
TouchPad? Yep.  There too.

Should you choose to accept your mission:
http://html5.grooveshark.com/#soopersecretbeta
!!!  For covert opts points, try it on an html5 device not listed above and report your findings to Dr. Lovedoctor at lovedoctor@grooveshark.com for your bonus surprise.

I’ve tried out on an HP TouchPad, a Pre 3 and a Google Nexus S and can confirm that it works most of the time. On occasion, it wouldn’t start playing a track and once that had happened, I had to restart the browser to fix the problem. The app is pretty simple, no fancy cover-flow effects here. This is it on the TouchPad.

Grooveshark HTML5 Web App

Tap on a track and it starts playing. There are also genre “radio” stations for a continuous stream of tracks. Overall, it’s not bad but the tracks failed to start playing too many times for my liking.

BBC Beta Homepage for the Post-PC Era

Posted by Andrew at 7:40 AM on September 21, 2011

The BBC is embracing the post-PC world with a reworked homepage at beta.bbc.co.uk. Here’s what it looks like on my TouchPad.

The black arrows on either side slide the screen through three other views. It’s a little bit reminiscent of how the BBC’s iPlayer displays programmes on my Bluray player, which isn’t entirely unsurprising. Some of the other features, such as setting your location, aren’t yet working but will be fixed before this version becomes the standard interface.

Compare this with the current mobile version of the site and you’ll see the change.

The BBC’s homepage was probably due for a refresh anyway, but I think it’s fairly telling that the new page is going to look the way it does. One can only assume that the BBC has stats on the web browsers being used to visit their site and they show the trend towards tablets and mobile devices. Is this the post-PC era with touch now driving the user interface, rather than keyboard and mouse?

Carbyn – An HTML5 OS

Posted by Andrew at 2:19 PM on September 20, 2011

There’s been a great deal of speculation in the blogosphere regarding a new entrant into the apps-that-run-anywhere competition. Called Carbyn, it seems to be an HTML5-based OS and app store. If you are struggling to see how this is a good thing, most modern browsers support HTML5, so you can setup and use Carbyn from almost any computer or tablet that has an Internet connection. No worrying about Windows, OS X, Linux…you just get on and do what you want to do.

The London, Ontario-based company is holding its cards fairly close to its chest and is using social media to spread the word. TechCrunch managed to get a sneak peak and point out that while comparisons with Google’s Chrome app store are inevitable, it’s different in that Carbyn is an OS. Chrome apps run within the browser, Carbyn HTML5 apps run within the Carbyn desktop which runs within the browser.  Facebook is also expected to get in the HTML5 app action with its Project Spartan, so it’s an interesting space to watch.

Carbyn is using social media and word-of-mouth to good advantage. While you can sign up for an invite to join Carbyn on their website, you’ll get your invite faster, if you get your friends to also sign up for an invite. So if you are interested, please use this Carbyn link to boost my standing. I’m shameless and I’ve fallen for their cheap trick…

And yes, Carbyn appears to have Angry Birds….

IFTTT: IF This Than That

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 6:43 PM on September 19, 2011

I was on Google Plus I believe and someone mentioned a site called ifttt which had just gone into public beta. The idea behind the site is to create simple connections based on if A occurred then B should result. Another words if this then that. For example I created one that says if I post a tweet with a link in it than send that link to Pinboard. Another one I created is at 4 PM I get an SMS reminder that it is time to start dinner. These are just two examples of hundreds of if this then that connections that can be created.

tasks

Some of the sites and applications that can be used to create connections include Twitter, Facebook, Evernote, Dropbox and email just to name a few.

Channels

If you create a connection you can either keep it private or make it public and publish it as a recipe. You can also use any public recipe that has already been create.

I think the idea behind ifttt is a good and some great public recipes have been created. However when I first viewed the site I wasn’t sure what to do or how to do it. There are no directions or how to videos on the site. There is an introductory video before you join, but if I watched it I don’t remember it. There is also no way to search public recipes by keyword or title. Which means a lot of people are creating the same recipe over and over again. Have you tried ifttt if you have what task have you created. If you haven’t and are interested I have some invites available.

Smashing Magazine’s 5th Birthday

Posted by Andrew at 8:12 AM on September 13, 2011

Smashing Magazine is celebrating its fifth birthday and as a wee treat, has prepared a “Best of Smashing Magazine” ebook and is giving it away free. The articles are all about web design, Photoshop, typography and user interfaces (or the user experience as it seems to be called now).

It’s no lightweight either - there are 409 pages of beautifully prepared material packed with information and examples. The first article, “30 Usability Issues”, makes interesting reading even if you aren’t a web designer. By being more educated about design, as a consumer you can be more aware and critical of websites and other media. Did you know that the Macintosh logo is an example of the Law of Pragnanz? No, neither did I but you’ll have to read the article to find out what it means.

Other articles include, “Setting Up Photoshop for Web and iPhone Development”, “What Font Should I Use?” and “10 Principles of Effective Web Design”. There’s the occasional overlap between the articles but it’s never repetition for the sake of it.

The ebook is available from iTunes or for .pdf, .mobi and .epub formats, direct from Smashing Magazine. Warning – it’s 55 MB download as it contains all three versions of the ebook.