Today, July 5th, marked the official opening of the new tallest building in the European Union, although construction was actually completed back in April of this year. Called “The Shard“, and formerly known by the name “London Bridge Tower”, the building is 309.6 meters tall with 72 habitable floors. It also features a viewing gallery and observation deck on the 72nd story.
If you are wondering how this article fits into our normal tech news genre, well there are a couple of reasons. First is the architecture, which likely couldn’t have been done in the pre-computer design era. The long, thin pyramid design is beautiful to behold and a challenge to design and build.
Second, the pictures taken of the new building were picked up by web and mobile photo sharing service Instgram, who today dedicated a page to images of The Shard. They announced this today through a post on their blog, and also added a few images, which you can see below.
Social photo service Instagram just had a big week, although not as big as the week of the billion dollar buyout, but it’s all relative. This week the mobile app company released a slew of updates, including ones to their Android and iOS apps, as well as to their web site. There were bug fixes and new features for everyone, and with the power and financial backing of Facebook behind them, they will likely be moving even faster with their updates and upgrades.
Updates to the android app included:
Improved search functionality
Support for location data taken from Gallery images when geotag is selected
Fix for HTC Sensation 4G freezing using tilt shift
Improved support and bugfixes for devices using the Instagram advanced camera
Addresses tilt shift issues on lower resolution images
iOS users can expect similar improvements.
Revamped profile tab
Search for users and tags in the Explore tab
Improvements to commenting
User search autocompletes based on people you follow
Optionally share likes to Facebook (enable in your Profile > Sharing Settings > Facebook)
If you want to access the service from a computer then you got the biggest update of all. Instagram has finally allows you to follow, comment and like from your web browser.
Instagram, now a property of Facebook, is the number one photo sharing service right now and they continue update and innovate in an effort to stay relevant in today’s ever-changing tech world. Like other social networks, it’s free to use.
Instagram launched their long-awaited Android app just a few weeks ago. It was followed by several small updates to get it up and working properly, but today they have finally released the first feature update, dubbed version 1.1. The latest version adds just one feature, but it’s an important one to anyone that has used Instagram – tilt-shift.
The name may be a bit cryptic, but tilt-shift is essentially an effect that adds depth-of-field to your images. In other words, it’s that cool effect you get in high-end DSLR cameras that causes the background to be blurred, bringing the subject into better focus. With Instagram this isn’t done at the time the image is snapped, but in post-production with a filter.
In you are interested in more in-depth information about using this feature then you can head over to the Instagram blog to read their tips for using tilt-shift. Instagram is available for free from the Google Play Store.
Adobe announced today the official final version of Lightroom 4 is now available. Lightroom is a popular photo editing tool that is used by many amateur and professional photographers alike. Lightroom is part of Adobe’s Photoshop family, but is a cheaper and more dedicated version geared specifically towards working with digital photos.
Adobe claimed they had 300,000 users of the public beta version of Lightroom 4 and used all of that feedback to make changes before their final release. Changes made since the Beta version include:
Reverse geocoding now available in the Map Module
Revamped and improved auto tone in Develop based on new controls
Increased range of local white balance controls (temperature and tint)
Updated Develop presets plus added new presets for video
Maximum Blurb book size is now 240 pages
Over 800 bugs found and fixed!
Lightroom 4 is available now for $149. You can also download a free trial version if you want to check it out first. You can buy it or download the trial from Adobe.
Bing has release an app that documents the massive damage from the May 22nd Joplin, Missouri tornado. The new app is a part of Bing Maps, which has become a really nice competitor for Google Maps. According the Bing team the photos come from “Surdex, one of our Global Ortho flying partners, captured these images 36 hours after the event at an amazing 7.5 cm resolution (which means each pixel represents an area about the size of a standard post-it note). Surdex is making these images freely available to government agencies as a public service (see their website for details).”
The app shows both before and after photos that document the sad damage of the massive EF-5 storm. Users can flip back and forth between both the before and after shots to see the changes.
Many of the new Android phones come with powerful cameras – up to 8 MP in some cases. The built-in camera software works pretty well also. The Droid X, mt current smartphone of choice, even came with Panorama Mode build-in. However, there are many photography apps available in the Android Market. The first one I tried was Camera 360, which I read about in an article right here.
Recently I have been trying out an app called Camera Zoom FX, which is available for $4.79 from the Android Market. For more information you can also visit the maker’s website, AndroidSlide.
The app boasts a long and impressive list of features. Many of them I have not found in any other camera app. Some, while perhaps available elsewhere, are incredibly useful. I don’t think there’s another app that brings all of these together in one place.
40 photo fx! (pencil, fisheye, filmreel, etc.)
1-click simultaneously upload to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc.
customization of all hardware buttons, e.g. volume buttons to control zoom
sound activation to take shots (clap to snap!)
online photo contest (voting using Twitter / Facebook) – best picture wins $100
circular zoom wheel (6x zoom)
upscale zoomed images
tap screen to snap shot
timer + sound effect
auto focus on / off
burst mode up to 16 shots
photo booth, e.g. 2 x 2 passport style combination shots
stable shot mode, including on-screen meter to show current level of movement
props, borders and famous ‘buddies’ in your pictures
customizable grid overlays
support from Android 1.5 through to Android 2.2
antibanding (for TV / computer monitors)
auto save option
flash (supported handsets)
scene modes, e.g. nightshot, beach (Droid only)
Once you open the app you will get a simple right-side menu that includes FX, Buddy (insert), hardware, shooting, and flash. Clicking on each one brings up a more detailed list of options.
For instance, FX gives you such options as Normal, Color FX, Mirror FX, Art FX, Distort FX, and Frame FX. Hardware allows you to hoose Auto Focus options, Filters, White Balance, and Night Shots.
If you click the menu button on your Android device you will get a whole list of settings you can change. You can choose from such options as setting Camera Zoom FX as your default camera, enable shutter sound, zoom sensitivity, upscale zoomed images, picture size, JPEG quality, stable shot sensitivity, voice activation,burst mode options, sharing, and store GPS location in picture date, plus a lot more.
For a look at some of what Camera Zoom FX can do you can browse the gallery below.
Harry Diamantopoulos of HSTI presents the Wireless Media Stick™. The Wireless Media Stick™ is able to deliver to playback devices the files stored in PC, Mac and NAS (network attached storage) devices. For example, plug the Wireless Media Stick™ into your HDTV’s USB port and watch a movie or view digital photos stored elsewhere on your WiFi home network. The memory is on your network, not on the Wireless Media Stick™. The Wireless Media Stick™ sells for $119 dollars. HSTI has also announced an app that installs on Android smartphones that is able to connect with the Wireless Media Stick™ to enable instant, easy sharing of photos and videos from the phone.
Sony launched the new Bloggie Touch today here in the UK and it looks like quite a slick little gadget that will find its way under the Christmas tree this year. Combining a full HD video camera and a 12 MP still camera, it actually looks more like mobile phone than a video camera, with a 3″ touchscreen on one side and a camera lens on the other. It’s quite different from the previous generation of Bloggies, now with a brushed aluminium finish in three colours; black, silver and pink.
In addition to filming in full HD, 1920 x1080, the Bloggie can also record 360 degree video with a special clip on lens. I’ve no idea how this works but it’s quite intriguing. GNC is on the list for a review unit, so when I actually get my hands on one, I’ll let you know. The press release also mentions “freestyle shooting” which apparently allows you to capture video in both landscape and portrait mode. Again, no idea but will let you know.
Details that I do know are that the Bloggie has 8GB storage built-in and should record about 4hrs of video in 1280 x 720, though the battery will run out after about 2.5 hours. There’s a flip-out USB connector plus an HDMI connector for instant playback on a TV. Obviously the LCD screen can be used to review the video and stills but it also sounds like you can use the touch screen to select the photos and movies you want to upload to, say, Flickr, on the Bloggie and then when you actually connect the Bloggie to you PC or laptop, the material is automatically uploaded. That sounds pretty cool and a good compromise on a device that doesn’t have wireless.
Wink by Shutterfly lets you create photostrips from pictures on your iPhone, Camera and Social Networks. They have a new portal at wink.shutterfly.com. You can use Wink with your iPhone or just go to the website and what is cool is that it is a quick way to get pictures you care about most printied.
Have you ever jumped into a photo booth? Well the PhotoStrip pictures that wink prints and delivers for $2.50 is the same exact experience. You just pick the pictures and have shutterfly print them. It’s a fun way to send a picture.
Before I got into blogging and podcasting, I ran a few internet forums. It was easy – setup a YABB (Yet Another Bulletin Board System) forum and let the minions have at. I had some pretty interesting forums in my day, and with it, a lot of controversy. Still, I kept things cleaned and tidy. Spammers were dealt with quickly and swiftly.
I still have one forum running. It’s more of a homage to those days, if anything. There are some that still come on to talk, so I keep it going.
Recently I have seen a lot of forums that have not been touched by a human. The story is the same – the forum owner pretty much abandons it, but keeps the registration simple. Within a couple months, the first spammer shows up. Maybe it’s a post about male growth pills. Maybe it’s about meeting up with girls. Nonetheless, it’s a spammer doing what they do best.
Now normally I wouldn’t care two hoots if you left your forum to deteriorate like an old shack in the middle of the woods. However, the spam starts to grow, and with it malware. Links to websites of naked girls are really sites that try to infect your computer. Links to cool videos turn out to be phishing schemes linking to misleading login pages.
Bottom line – you are infecting computers and allowing people to be swindled out of money.
We as a web community should be aware of what we do. After all, if you do own a house, you want to make sure that it is continually stable in it’s structure. When the power goes down, if the roof leaks, if the basement grows mold – you fix it. That should be the same mentality of a website.
Simple checks of your web domain(s) can keep things running smoothly. Forums that have been over run should be shut down or cleaned up. Deleting forum spam is an important part of being a webmaster.
Even newer websites should have some precautions taken. If you have a blog, make it so comments are moderated first. Install Akismet to block some of the malfeasance. Tie down some areas, including the registrations, so people don’t have to read or accidentally get malware or phished.
Part of keeping the bad stuff off the internet is to make sure the hackers and phishers don’t have a place to put their information – on your dime. And if you don’t have the time or energy to maintain a website, then either lock it down and clean it up or shut it off.
It’s ok to loose interest in something. Heck, I do that all the time. However, you should also clean up your mess you left behind. Otherwise, good people could be swindled out of $250,000 because they think they won a lottery. Good people could loose out just trying to find out about the new miracle male enhancement pill. Most important, you might just get blocked by Google, anti-viral programs, reporting services that keep an eye on the web and a lot more.
You never know when someone gets hit with hacking. Heck, it might even be your family or friends that get affected and infected. You don’t want that, do you?