Making memories

Lifestyle/Technology | Websites offer advantages for storing and sharing photos

Issue: "Home again," July 12, 2008

When we packed up recently to move from Austin to New York City, I put tubs of photos documenting the first 24 years of our marriage in storage-until some future time when I can sort them.

The past eight years of digital photos should have been easier, but it hasn't worked out that way. I've put them on CDs (which I never look at). I've uploaded them to a commercial website (and later discovered that I have to order prints every so often or lose them). Once I uploaded photos to another site and discovered that the storage was low resolution.

So I was interested in Lifehacker.com's recent feature on photo-sharing websites, in which users nominated and voted on their favorites. The four top choices in order of votes received were Flickr (owned by Yahoo), Picasa Web Albums (owned by Google), Smugmug, and Photobucket. I examined price, privacy, and ease of use.

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Flickr: Offers a free account and for $24.95/year a pro account with unlimited storage. Allows you to set privacy settings but (along with Picasa and Photobucket) is designed for easy sharing on MySpace and Facebook. When I downloaded a tool, this warning bothered me: "Flickr Uploadr wants to link to your Flickr account. You should not authorize Flickr Uploadr unless you trust them with access to your account." I downloaded the tool because Flickr recommended it-shouldn't Flickr vouch for its safety?

Picasa Web Albums: Supposedly will work with Macs, but I had trouble getting it to launch. I was already uncomfortable relying on Google for even more of my online life and wasn't terribly disappointed that it didn't work for me.

SmugMug: My favorite of the four. A standard account costs $39.95/year for unlimited storage. No ads. I signed up for a 14-day trial account and found that the site provides several easy-to-use ways to upload photos. At this point I've limited access to my albums-but I may loosen up my privacy settings and let my photos be visible to Google if I move to a paid account. You can order prints (a 4x6 costs 19 cents), photobooks, and lots of photo objects from the site.

Photobucket: Heavy with ads, even showing them while you're uploading pictures. You can avoid the ads and store high-resolution images with unlimited storage by upgrading to a pro account, which is free as long as you buy something from one of the sponsors. Probably a better choice for someone on a tight budget (a 4x6 print costs only 15 cents) who wants to upload photos to MySpace, than for someone who wants to share photos with Grandma.

Message from beyond

By Susan Olasky

Last month ABC News reported on a new website competing for Christian websurfers: youvebeenleftbehind.com. For a first-year subscription price of $40 ("Re-subscription will be reduced as the number of subscribers increases") Christians who believe they will be whisked away in the rapture can leave documents and emails to be sent to their "closest lost friends and relatives" who have been left behind.

How will the website know the rapture has occurred? Website operators will trigger the post-rapture system "when 3 of our 5 team members scattered around the U.S fail to log in over a 3 day period. Another 3 days are given to fail safe any false triggering of the system."

The website hopes that those lost family members and friends will notice "the millions of missing Christians and devastation at the rapture. They will know it was true and that they have blown it. There will be a small window of time where they might be reached for the Kingdom of God. We have made it possible for you to send them a letter of love and a plea to receive Christ one last time."

Should the rapture occur, would email convince when Scripture has not? Jesus concluded his story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16: 19-31) with this: "If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead."

Online updates

More families facing cancer are keeping friends and relatives informed through caringbridge.org, a free website that allows families undergoing illness to set up personal websites, post updates and pictures, and receive greetings from friends.

CaringBridge is a nonprofit site, supported by donations. It is free and not cluttered by advertising, nor are the individual sites searchable by web browsers. More than 100,000 personal CaringBridge websites have come into being since 1997, and about 100 new ones emerge each day. About 10 percent of those websites originate outside of the United States.

Making a note to yourself

From time to time I get the urge to organize myself. Ten years ago I had a soft leather Franklin planner, which was lovely to hold-although I didn't write much in it. More recently I've set up and discarded Google calendars, preferring to use the paper one that came in the mail.

When I read about Jott.com, it struck me as a useful tool. It's a free service that allows you to send memos to yourself or people on your contact list via your cell phone. It works simply: Just call the Jott phone number, answer the voice prompts, leave your message, and you'll receive an email confirmation with the message in it.

Jott converts your voice to text, so if inspiration hits when you don't have a pen handy, you can call Jott. Send a memo to others and they'll get a text message and an email. You can use Jott with other applications, including many blog formats. One downside: Sending Jott memos is a quick way to fill up an email inbox.

Susan Olasky
Susan Olasky

Susan pens book reviews and other articles for WORLD as a senior writer and has authored eight historical novels for children. Susan and her husband Marvin live in Asheville, N.C. Follow Susan on Twitter @susanolasky.


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