Quick Screenshot Service

kwout logoFor some people getting that elusive screenshot can be difficult. Not only that, once you have it you then have to host it and code it into a web page or blog post. A service I found a few while back will make this job easy and quick, with some nice formatting and features as well.

The service is called kwout (don’t ask me to say it). When you arrive you are presented with a blank space to input a URL of your choice and some quick straight forward instructions. The process is dead easy to clip a screenshot and have it on your blog in quick smart. Enter the URL of the site or page that you want to take a screenshot of. A new page loads. select the specific area you want clipped and hit the “cut out” button on the floating toolbar. If you want a larger version you can specify exactly or use the slider on another floating toolbar. Essentially this is scaling of the image and it actually looks good. Scaling sometimes screws with an image to the point that it looks awful, this does not seem to be the case here.

From here you get presented with your cut out that you selected. You can change the border, corners and colours of the background. All this changes in real time and you get to see exactly what it will look like.

Next you can select a few options regarding sharing and decide if you want to post it to Flickr or Tumblr.

Copy and past the code and you are done. Another cool thing is that this service uses code and not JavaScript. That means that they work right here on WordPress. Here is the one that I created for the purpose of this post:

This is a great service in that it simplifies the process of getting a decent screenshot for a blog post or some other page that allows html. For people that can’t accomplish the rounded corners, borders and drop shadows it is a great option. Also, if you were in a flat out hurry to post something or on the road or at an internet cafe something like that and wanted a quick image or screenshot, this would do the trick and nicely.

One thing that my be a potential problem is that if you used the service you are at the mercy of that service, or indeed any service upon which you were relying on for content in your pages or blog posts. If the service disappears one day then so do your images. If they decide to change the terms of service or make the service a paid one then the availability of your images might also be affected. So my advice is to use wisely and don’t bank on things never changing. Although the ability to send the image to another service like Flickr does mitigate this problem somewhat.

Still a great way to get a nice fresh image that you can use anywhere.

kwout screenshot homepage
Advertisements

Flickr Make it Easier to Share Images

You see an image on Flickr and you want to share it with a friend or a family member. Now you have to copy and paste the link into an email or some other form of getting that link to them, right… Not any more.

Send_to_a_friend screenshotFlickr have introduced easy photo sharing right from the source of the image. Now my only problem was that after hearing about the feature and wanting to check it out but I’d be damned if I could find the feature. After a bit of looking around in a few menus  and having no luck I went back to the image page and looked more thoroughly. I spotted the option in the bottom right of the page in small print. “Send to a Friend”

Not sure why Flickr has made this feature so hard to find. Or is that that I am not observant enough? Features like this should be easy to find and use. No problem with the ease of use, in fact 10/10. They get a 2/10 for easy to find, in my opinion. Maybe they are trying to save on the bandwidth or something. Beats me.

Clicking that link throws you to a page with the option to send the image via email or to another Flickr member. There is a default message that you can add to or just send as is. The default message is fine in my book. I sent one to myself. The cool thing about this feature is that the recipient gets the message and the image in their inbox with an additional link to the page on Flickr that it comes from. What this means is that they can save the image locally. To save a photo on Flickr from the web page you have to have an account and be logged in. Now you don’t, provided someone with an account send it to you.

Nice feature and I think I might actually upgrade my account to a pro account as this is great for family and friends and I am going to use it a lot. I am actually trying to update my Flickr page more often, to keep the family in the loop a bit better. Some of our family are a couple of 1000 kay away and I know they will appreciate it. Thanks Flickr!

Flickr_Home_Screenshot

Font Inspiration: MyFonts

Boycott Image DemoI am not big on fancy fonts and such but I came across a website this week that had a great top 10 list of what they considered the best fonts of 2006.

It is not that I am against fonts or anything like that, I like a nice font. But fancy unique ones have their limitations. For instance if you have a font installed on your machine you can use it all you like, print a letter with it without any problems. But send a document to someone and they don’t have it on theirs and it will bork. They won’t see it. Same goes for a web page. It has to be resident on the machine for the user to see it.

One way around this is to create an image that uses the font. But that changes it as well, it is now an image and is treated as such. Creating a header or logo using a fancy font is not so bad because within the html you can edit the text to reflect the content on the page. This raw html of the page is what the web spiders crawl for indexing.

I heard a podcast this week where there were open questions and one podcaster was wondering why her content was not being indexed. It turned out that the whole page of text that she referred to was an image. She wanted the page to look nice and so that the visitors could see it she made the whole block of text an image. Google does not index the content of an image as far as content is concerned. In all honesty I am after content crap can still look good and some of the ugliest web sites have the best content.

I should also mention as a side point that having a massive number of fonts installed is notorious for slowing down your machine. So be picky with what you install and maybe review them once in a while and cull out the ones you don’t use any more. Saving them to disk is a great idea as you can always install them again if you ever have the need.

So now that I have trashed fonts… I found this nice collection of fonts this week. The Best Fonts of 2006. While I am not sure what the best is based on they are a nice collection. They are from a site called MyFonts and I would suggest that these are what they consider to be the best fonts as opposed to being judged or voted on. You can see the whole collection as an alphabet and you can purchase them if you wish. Must be hard to develop fonts because the ones I looked at range in price from $19.00 to $40.00. But they have some great specials as low as 10 bucks! Cool. What is the going rate for a font anyway? Still worth it if you are after something unique in my opinion.

Looks like a great site by the way lots of fonts and styles to suit anything that you would want to do, 52,454 at last count. I really liked the “more like this” feature that selects fonts based on the one you are looking at. These fonts definitely have a place for the designer and artist. But remember that they have a place and more importantly when and where you shouldn’t be using them.

Best Fonts of 2006

Tools to Prevent you “Breaking” Your Blog’s Template

The majority of people unfortunately still insist on using Internet Explorer. There are better browsers out there you know. Different browsers “read” the page that it displays in a unique way. So a page can look totally different in a different browser. Especially where layout and images are concerned. I too rarely “test” my blog and make sure that it is being “read” correctly by each browser. //engtech has created a tool that will do it for you.

//engtec is lazy unmotivated  forgets that IE exists like the rest us us when it comes to testing his blog. He gives a good description as to what can happen to IE when you add images that are to wide, I’ll leave that for you to read. So he created a Greasemonkey script that does all the checking that you need and lets you know when you have done something that will “break” your blog in IE.

As can be expected from //engtech he has some detailed instructions about customizing it to your blog to be able to use the script. It even has pictures. A very useful tool. But you should really be making sure that images fit your space as well, even for Firefox. Re-size an image to fit. If you can not do that then link to a larger image on a separate tab. Or do it in two parts. Badly done images in blogs look cheap and half arsed. But at least we don’t have to worry about IE, nice work //engtech.

For those that do not know Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension that allows you to manipulate the way that a web page is displayed using JavaScript. There are tons of different scripts and applications. Plus you can do what //engtech did and write your own.

I have just noticed that //engtech’s script has no name, does any one have any ideas? ImageAlert, TempAlert, IEisBusted, BlogBrokeGMS…

engtech Blog Screenshot

Mosaic Generator

I think I have seen more cool web based applications come from the Flickr API than any other public API. In addition there seems to be no limit to what people use it for and the development seems to be prolific. This is another example and one of the coolest I have seen.

I have always wanted an easy way to create a mosaic from photos. I have looked and there are ones that you can buy. These then come with a massive photo library that you either have to store on your system or muck around with disks to use. Or you can use your own photos, does anyone have that many photos? Maybe but not me, it would be a boring mosaic when you zoomed in.

Mosaic_Zoomed inThe answer is; Image Mosaic Generator and it is fantastic. The images that are used in the generation of the mosaic all come from Flickr. There are some examples on the main page of the website. But it is far more fun to generate your own. Just select an image that you have and upload it into the generator. It about three to five minutes to upload and generate the image, it is huge so people that have “slow” connections might have to wait a while. But it is worth it.

Once generated you can then scale the image, bigger up to 200% or smaller to suite your needs. Once scaled you can then download the image. I found the button for downloading hiding in the bottom left of the generated image. Or just do what I did and download the big image and scale it with any reasonable photo editing program. The results are great, stand back from the images to get the full effect. The above image is a zoomed image of the one below.

No extra programs or masses of pictures on your PC, fast easy mosaics and it is a heap of fun.

Mosaic of Dave

WebShots Unusable Due to Popularity?

WebShots_pro LogoI was doing a post for The Global Geek Podcast Blog and I needed a screenshot of the webpage that I was talking about. So I thought I am feeling lazy, I will just shoot over to WebShots who offer a free website screenshot service. But I fear that popularity is killing it (for “free” users at any rate).

Webshots is a great service. They offer free and paid accounts with various plans. When I first came across WebShots it made getting what you needed fast, easy and convenient. You could have your image in seconds. I went to WebShots and put in the site that I wanted a screenshot of, hit enter. I get transferred to the next step, in which (usually) your screen shot is displayed. You then get to choose from a few sizes and you can either save the image and host it yourself or use the code snippet to use it from WebShots. However, this time I find that I get transferred to a que which at the top of the page says:

Screenshot is in job queue. There is a total of 68494 jobs, and 23596 ahead of you.

I can tell you that it has not moved much since I started writing this. While I appreciate a good service especially a free one. This service has now become unusable for the quick and easy screenshot for the blog approach. What has stuffed it? Popularity. The developers are laughing but for me, unless I wish to pay for the service then I can’t use it at all. I am not paying. Screenshots are easy, but it is nice to get the shots that WebShots produced as they had no browser in them! Now I will have to edit out the browser and OS toolbar. Not hard but a bit time consuming.

Sure the paid service gives you priority over free users. However, for the little that I use this type of thing the $25 US for a basic service; per month is a bit steep. Especially since I would not be using their embedding service. I prefer to host my own images where I can. In addition if there are as many paying users as free then it will be just as bad, even if there are half as many!

So there goes another great free service down the tubes because it was and is so good. One thing that really irritated me was that I am probably waiting for porn, as the couple of webshots that appeared while I was waiting were of porn sites! Some things are just nice to keep to yourself, it would have been nice if WebShots was not quite so good as it is. RIP Webshots pro.

WebShots_pro Webshot

I just remembered another service, no not telling.

Search and Explore Flickr with a Sketch

retrievr LogoSearching the Internet for anything with a simple sketch is a technology that is in it’s infancy. Actually getting something useful from the results is difficult if not impossible. The current offerings of searching with drawings or sketches are suited to searching visual databases and today I found a site called retrievr.

retrievr uses the Flickr API and is implemented well. It is a search of Flickr from a sketch that you have made in a small square box. Before I go further I have to say that the quality of tools that are being developed with the Flickr API are getting better and there are some people out there creating very useful applications that are very well done. retrievr is well done in that it’s presentation is great and the interface is easy enough to use.

You have a selection of four brush sizes to choose from and a small box to draw your sketch. Good to see that there is an undo button. Using a colour pallet you have the choice of every conceivable colour you could possibly want to use. Draw your masterpiece. After a few seconds of inactivity the search starts and the results are displayed. You can also search by uploading a picture (no sketching) or entering the URL of the image. If you can’t draw with a mouse (who can?) then you can use the database of images to base a search on. Don’t worry if your sketch looks like a five year old did it, have a look below.

Once the search results are displayed you can then either click the photo and view it at Flickr or you can click a magnifing glass that uses that image as the basis for a new search. The ability to drill down your results is a a good idea and makes the experience more fun and you end up somewhere that you did not think you would.

The results are average as far as form goes. I found that the shape of the image that I was after came up rarely in the results. However the results for colour are better and seem to be weighted more heavily in the search. Although I was impressed with the result below in that it does have an image of a face. This service is new and the technology experimental. The very technology is but a baby and has not yet become a powerful tool for searching. But these are the building blocks that will lead to some exciting tools and services in the future and that is what is exciting!

That said I do not think that is what retrievr is all about, developing the technology might be. However, at the moment it is a great site to search and explore Flickr in a fun way which results in those wonderful serendipity discoveries which are always fun and what we love about the Internet. Sure going to Flickr and searching using tags would probably yeild the results that you were looking for but that would not be as much fun.

retrievr screenshot