Flickr debuts new HTML5 image uploader, drag-and-drop interface

Flickr, Yahoo’s popular photo-sharing site, received a number of new features today, including an HTML5 photo uploader and a new drag-and-drop interface. Flickr, which now hosts over 7 billion images, says that thanks to the addition of HTML5 technology, users can look forward to a speedier, more robust experience. For example, instead of having to upload images manually, users can now drag and drop photos directly into their browsers. Nifty. Users can also manage and reorder images before they hit their photostream, rather than after.

To check out the new features, visit your Flickr page. Assuming you have one.

Facebook, HTC co-developing Facebook-branded phone, sources say

Since 2010, rumors have swirled that Facebook would launch a branded phone that deeply integrated its services, and today, assuming the rumor mill’s on the money, we have a clearer picture of what that handset might look like. According to DigiTimes, which cited anonymous industry sources, Facebook and HTC have joined forces to develop an exclusive, Android-based smartphone that will allow users to tap into all of the social network’s features on the fly. HTC released two Facebook-enabled smartphones last year, the Salsa and Chacha, but DigiTimes suggests its new device will take the concept even further.

What’s more, a Facebook-HTC mashup could launch soon. Earlier in the month, Skyhook CEO Ted Morgan said his company, which offers Wi-Fi-based positioning software to the likes of Android and iOS, had been tapped to help develop a “major” smartphone that won’t be a “Google experience” device. Morgan said that phone will drop this year.

Google Drive launches, specs revealed

Google Drive launches today, and contrary to our earlier report, it won’t coexist with Google Docs. Instead, Google Docs will be folded into Drive, which boasts far more features than were previously expected. Here’s the rundown, courtesy of All Things D:

  • Each Google Drive includes 5 GB of free storage. Docs created with Google don’t count against that limit.
  • Users can pay for up to 16 terabytes of storage: 25 GB for $2.49 per month, 100 GB for $4.99, 1 TB for $49.99, 16 TB for $799.99 — with many levels in between.
  • Drive is available for Web, Mac, PC and Android phones and tablets. The team showed me a working version on an iPad, and said iOS would be available very soon.
  • Drive is the new Docs. For users who have Drive on their accounts, docs.google.com will start redirecting to drive.google.com. All of users’ Google Docs are automatically imported into their Drives.
  • In addition to creating regular Google Docs files, users can install apps through the Chrome Web Store. The 18 launch partners include HelloFax (faxes), Balsamiq (mockups), Lucidchart (diagrams), DocuSign (signatures), SlideRocket (presentations) and MindMeister (mind maps).
  •  There are lots of ways to sort and view files, including an activity stream of all the most recently modified documents that you have access to, and a grid view that shows thumbnails.
  • Users can also search across all their files, with image recognition and optical character recognition automatically applied to new pictures and scanned documents so they can be more easily searched even if they don’t have much metadata.
  • When users click to add a photo in Google+, they’ll now have the option of taking it directly from their personal Google Drives. Google Drive will also be available for attachments in Gmail, but not at launch.
  • There are chat conversations associated with every file, where users get notified whenever someone leaves a new comment.

As Google Drive launch looms, Google Docs storage increased to 5GB

Update: Google Drive has launched, and instead of coexisting with Google Docs, it will absorb it.

Google Drive, Mountain View’s take on Dropbox, will go online any day now with a rumored 5GB of free storage, but lest it overshadow Google Docs and its relatively paltry lockers, it was revealed today that Docs’ storage will be expanded from 1GB to 5GB, bringing it into line with what’s thought to be Drive’s standard capacity. Like most Google rollouts, Docs’ expansion seems to be staggered, so don’t be surprised if your friends get the 5GB treatment before you do.

Source: The Verge

Samsung to reveal iCloud competitor alongside Galaxy S III

Speaking of SamsungThe Verge reports that the company will reveal an iCloud competitor alongside its flagship Galaxy S III at its May 3 press event in London. According to The Verge, Samsung’s cloud service, to be called S-Cloud, differs from Apple’s iCloud in that users will be able to upload whatever content their hearts desire. What’s more, it’s “expected to ship with access to popular TV shows, movies, and music with free and paid content that will be available across a range of Samsung devices, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones.”

Storage lockers will reportedly start at 5GB, but it’s unclear whether they’ll be free.

Source: The Verge

Facebook fires up new server farm in North Carolina

Facebook’s second American data center went online yesterday, and it’s a beast. The social network’s latest server farm was built in Forest City, North Carolina, over the course of 16 months and with the help of nearly 2,000 workers who contributed a combined 1.2 million man-hours to the project.

George Henry, the data center’s operations manager, said of the new facility:

It’s no mean feat to bring a service like Facebook to more than 845 million people around the world, and our innovative data centers play a big role in making that possible.

Facebook put the achievement into perspective in a blog post:

  • “Forest City is the first major deployment of the v2OpenCompute Project web servers, which are in turn are some of the first to use Intel’s Sandy Bridge processor in production.
  • “We expect Forest City to join our facility in Prineville, Oregon, as one of the most energy efficient in the world, with a projected power utilization effectiveness (PuE) measurement for the entire facility of 1.06 to 1.08.
  • “Forest City will be the first live test of the Open Compute Project’s outdoor-air cooling designs in an environment where temperature and humidity conditions are considered to be outside the range of typical data center operations.”

Source: Wired

iPhone 5 to get thinner display thanks to in-cell technology, says source

Apple’s iPhone 5 could be svelter if sources are on the money about a slimmed-down display. Taiwan’s Central News Agency spoke with a Taipei-based analyst who said Apple’s next iPhone will likely feature a thinner display based on in-cell technology. We assume that term’s as meaningless to you as it was to us, so here’s a simple breakdown:

Compared with on-cell technology (the prevailing technology), touch panels that use in-cell technology can be made thinner because the touch sensors are actually placed inside the color filters rather than on top of them.

Microsoft releases Windows-only app for making cinemagraphs

Cinemagraphs, which are basically still images that include a bit of movement, are becoming more popular by the day. So much so that Microsoft Research has created a new tool for crafting the slightly animated pictures, which they prefer to call “cliplets.”

A still photograph is a limited format for capturing moments that span an interval of time. Video is the traditional method for recording durations of time, but the subjective “moment” that one desires to capture is often lost in the chaos of shaky camerawork, irrelevant background clutter, and noise that dominates most casually recorded video clips. This work provides a creative lens used to focus on important aspects of a moment by performing spatiotemporal compositing and editing on video-clip input. This is an interactive app that uses semi-automated methods to give users the power to create “cliplets”—a type of imagery that sits between stills and video from handheld videos.

Microsoft’s Cliplet app is completely free and can be downloaded right from the software giant’s website. Unfortunately, there is no Mac version. Check out the video below to learn more.

NYC seen through Canon’s 5D Mark III

silloutte 33 NYC seen through Canons 5D Mark III

A photographer never goes anywhere interesting without his camera, so when I recently traveled to New York City, you can bet I brought along my best hardware. In this case, it was Canon’s new 5D Mark III, a 22.3-megapixel beast that shoots at 6fps and captures images with a 35mm full-frame sensor. The latter was a major improvement over my crop-sensored 7D and 50D, especially for a backdrop like NYC, where the sheer scale demands a camera that can drink in all the detail.

How’d it fare? Read on to find out.

thegear 2 NYC seen through Canons 5D Mark III

Editing & shooting mode

lightroom1 NYC seen through Canons 5D Mark III

It should be noted that all of images you see here have gone through some form of post processing in Adobe Lightroom 4.0. I’m fond of Lightroom because it works quickly and has on tap all the effects I could ever want. I also shot all my images in RAW format. While that leads to fairly large image sizes (roughly 30MB per image), the uncompressed pictures give me free reign to edit. Now that that’s out of the way, on to the pictures!

biker NYC seen through Canons 5D Mark III

One of the first pictures I took in NYC was of a man riding his bike. What stuck out to me wasn’t that completely unremarkable activity, but the blue grip tape he’d chosen for his handlebars. It added life to an otherwise boring scene, and the crosswalk pattern beneath the rider provided the perfect contrast. With the 5D’s new 61-point focusing system, I was able to quickly lock on to my subject while getting a nice bokeh effect to boot. Lens: 50mm f1.2

dicktracy NYC seen through Canons 5D Mark III

While out for a stroll, I happened to pass Dick Tracy on his way to solve a murder mystery. The 5D’s 6fps shutter allowed me to quickly snap away and capture the crimestopper while he moved about the city. Then, as luck would have it, his partner, who was no doubt watching his back, brought up the rear. Lens: 50mm f1.2

buildings NYC seen through Canons 5D Mark III
There’s obviously no shortage of tall buildings in NYC, but from street level, it’s hard to appreciate their scale. So in these two pictures of the same building, I offer two perspectives — I snapped one picture from the sidewalk, and the other from one of the building’s top levels. Without the 5D’s 35mm sensor and a 24mm wide-angle lens, I wouldn’t have been able to get the top-down perspective. And look at that smog! Lens: 24mm f1.4

mobile transport NYC seen through Canons 5D Mark III

In a city as crowded as New York, even taking the subway can be a real pain in the ass. That’s why many people (when the weather permits) rely on alternate transportation, like skateboards and bicycles. Here, the 5D was especially helpful in allowing me to not only get the subjects, but also capture the environment behind them. Taking this picture on a crop-sensored camera would have been more difficult. Speaking of the weather, it was so nice during my visit that at times I forgot I wasn’t at home in SoCal.  Lens: 50mm f1.2

fish1 NYC seen through Canons 5D Mark III
Chinatown is one hell of a place. I’ve now been to the country’s most popular examples, in both San Francisco and NYC, and the similarities are striking. But I guess that’s the point. In this picture, the beautiful fresh fish caught my eye (and nose) and demanded I take a shot. Again, the 5D came through with a really nice focus while blurring out the background where I desired. Lens: 50mm f1.2

bikes NYC seen through Canons 5D Mark III
Here I opted for black and white to capture the age of these bikes. In fact, now that I think about it, much of NYC lends itself to black and white photography, and if I lived there, I’m sure I’d go old school more often. Lens: 50mm f1.2

graffiti NYC seen through Canons 5D Mark III
I don’t think you can go anywhere in NYC without seeing graffiti, but this especially colorful piece grabbed my attention. Rounding out the scene was an overdressed man (it was 80 degrees at the time) who stopped to wipe the perspiration from his face. Lens: 50mm f1.2

people NYC seen through Canons 5D Mark III
NYC is known for its diversity, and walking around, you really get a sense of it. Within a block, I encountered a few guys hastily shooting a movie and a businessman absorbed in his laptop, determined to get his taxes in on time. The new 5D now incorporates a silent-shooting mode that allowed me to get close to my subjects without disturbing them. Lens: 50mm f1.2

pizza NYC seen through Canons 5D Mark III
What’s NYC without pizza? This amazing-looking pie is from a place called Artichokes, and it was quite possibly the best pizza I’ve ever had. Because of the 5D’s improved noise reduction, I was able to get a well-lit shot in a dimly lit pizza shop. Lens: 50mm f1.2

Thoughts

Shooting with a full-frame camera is truly a different experience, and while I haven’t had a lot of time with the 5D Mark III, I can easily appreciate its 35mm advantages in day-to-day use. Not only does it take wider shots than crop-sensored rigs, it brings to the table unrivaled sharpness and noise reduction, too. It’s like my 7D on steroids, and it truly captures 100 percent of what I see in the viewfinder.

As for NYC, what can I say without sounding trite? Seriously, I’ve got nothing.

Canon introduces 4K-capable EOS-1D C DSLR camera

oday, Canon introduced the latest camera in its Digital Cinema line, the Canon EOS-1D C, a DSLR that combines “the convenient form factor of a digital SLR camera with full HD and 4K video recording up to 4096 x 2160-pixel resolution.” The new Canon also includes dual DIGIC 5+ image processors, which allows the EOS-1D C to deliver high-precision AF and AE performance while also allowing high-speed continuous shooting of up to about 12 fps.

The icing on the cake is its compatibility — all existing EF lenses will work with the EOS-1D C. Canon says its newest DSLR is scheduled to arrive sometime in 2012 with a price tag of $15,000.