Adding location info to your picture (geo-tagging)

February 13, 2012

More and more, we find our users need to add the metadata info for each picture or asset with location information (what is also called “geo-tagging). This practical information is used by engineers, journalists, travel writers as well as other specialized industries like film commissions. The CleanPix iPhone app enables you to capture GPS metadata information directly into CleanPix when using it to upload new photographs. This is good but not everyone uses an iPhone for their professional photography! There are many quality cameras on the market that capture and embed GPS information and CleanPix will find and use that information, too.

But perhaps your collection of existing photos does not have GPS coordinates embedded at all (which right now, is likely most of them). Here is one option you can do to find these GPS longitude and latitude coordinates using Google Maps. You can then manually enter when editing a photo’s metadata on CleanPix.

Getting the GPS for a picture:

Step 1:

Open up this page to view a bookmarklet you can drag to your bookmarks bar. This bookmark will allow you to pull GPS coordinates from Google Maps. We needed to put this on a separate page as the blog is not compatible with the bookmarklet.

Step 2:
First manually find the location of the photograph you are looking to update with GPS coordinates at http://maps.google.com
Sometimes you can use a street address to zero-in the location. But what you need to do is to center the found location on the map and close-up as much as you can. (Note: the GPS is true for the center of the map only…so close-in! )

Step 3:
While the location is on view and dead center in the Google map, click on the bookmarklet that you saved to your bookmarks bar.

Once you click on the bookmarklet, a window should pop up showing the GPS coordinates over your Google map location for that picture.

Step 4:

The first number is the latitude and the second is the longitude. These are the GPS positions for whatever is at the very center of the map you are viewing. (The latitude or longitude may have a MINUS sign prior to the number, this sign is part of the coordinates.)

You can then copy these GPS coordinates in your CleanPix metadata fields for that picture under: Longitude and Latitude fields that you will find under the Editing Pencil icon for each picture. With CleanPix, the GPS metadata info you just written stays with each picture when being downloaded by your users, and can also be viewed on the Caption page for each asset.
With CleanPix when an asset has coordinates, then a line “Click to view of the map” appears with each picture. Please note that the map is only precise to 3 decimal after the point. This means it has GPS precision within a 100 feet or so.


Fruit of labour

January 16, 2012

Sometimes there comes along a little piece of technology worth noticing. This is the case of a mini (credit card size)  computer that will cost a small fortune… a whole $35. It is called the Raspberry Pi. It is scheduled to be released in the next 4 – 6 months.

Powered by the ubiquitous 5V micro USB cable (the standard charging method for most small mobile devices), the computer boasts a 700Mhz processor. While that is a relatively modest speed, it remains capable of about everything from internet browsing to high definition video playback and is designed to be programmable.  Check it out : http://www.raspberrypi.org/faqs.

Part of what attracts our attention to this device is the possible impact this little computer can have for developing countries or for that matter even for any wallet in size as well as in cost.  The latter seems a bit obvious, but the most telling part of the story has to do what with why this Raspberry Pi came to flourish in the first place. While discussing the topic, the developers mentioned “We could try to do something about the situation where computers had become so expensive and arcane that programming experimentation on them (by children) had to be forbidden by parents” (See About Us section on www.raspberrypi.org/sample-page)

And certainly a statement like this is very disruptive to the corporate computer world we are living in. Further on, the developers continued saying “we want to see cheap, accessible, programmable computers everywhere; we actively encourage other companies to clone what we’re doing” and “we want owning a truly personal computer to be normal for children.”

Over the last 15 years we have witnessed how the internet can give wings to world democracy. Who will be the main players and who will dominate the “computer pie” in years to come?  This freshly baked Raspberry Pi might just bring to the table a slice of the answer. From its conception to its launch, it offers great hopes and a welcome alternative to conventional and inflexible hardware. Imagine a tiny inexpensive computer that works!


What is the Cloud, anyway?

April 11, 2011

The “Cloud” is simply a metaphor to describe the internet in laymen’s terms. When you connect to our website, you are using the Cloud. When you send an email using Hotmail or Gmail, you are using the Cloud. When you have an internet connection, you have a “Cloud connection”.

If you are a client in California and upload a photo to CleanPix and later your customer downloads that file from Brazil, it’s possible because we exist in the Cloud. This kind of example is known as “Cloud storage”. Simply, your file is stored somewhere in the world that is available anywhere you can connect with the internet: The Americas, Europe, Asia, Japan …anywhere.

What is Cloud Computing?

If you have ever heard of Cloud Computing, you can begin to guess what that means. When you load an app on your phone or start a program on your computer, you are “computing” on your own machine, because that software runs in your machine. However, when you use the Google Docs application (their online text processor), your own computer is not responsible for running that specific program. Instead, Google is “computing” in the Cloud for you (or in another way: Google is running an application that is available to you from somewhere on the internet).

In the same way, our CleanPix application runs in the cloud and is made available to you via our website. You don’t have to download and run any program yourself.

What about Cloud storage?

While the term “Cloud” has only been used widely as a marketing term recently, the idea of it has been around as long as we have had the internet. CleanPix (now in its 10th year!) has offered this kind of “Cloud storage” service from the very beginning. We host (store) your files in our secure international locations somewhere on the internet (the Cloud).

The advantages to this are straightforward… our clients do not need to maintain, upgrade or buy extra servers for themselves and the files are available wherever you go. Looking back over the years, CleanPix has been one of the forerunners for what is now becoming popular and the desirable thing to do and we’ve been doing so for a very long time. Lets remember, the internet was barely in its teens when we started.

What is a CDN (content distribution network)?

One of the recent breakthroughs that the “Cloud” provides is a content distribution network (CDN). When you use CleanPix, you have access to a world class network that intelligently and securely moves your file to a location closest to where you are downloading from. For example, if you are downloading from California, the file you want will be available from Seattle. If you are downloading from Brazil, that same file will be moved to Florida. These are just possible examples, but what it means is that you and your users have fast and reliable downloads even if you aren’t close to our Headquarters. The core advantage a CDN provides is blazing fast speed and reliability, even for huge files.

The Cloud is the internet. It is really that simple. As innovations have developed and matured, those marketing experts have decided its easier to use the Cloud metaphor to illustrate the fluidity and “everywhereness” that is becoming more widely available everyday. And when you use CleanPix, you will leverage that flexibility  for your own organization.


10 things we ought to know about energy.

March 18, 2011

energy(1) Wind power works best in tandem with hydro power, using the water basin as the accumulator.

(2) Geothermal is best suited in northern climates, like Canada’s: for warming in winter, and cooling in summer, while the underground mass is restored with heat exchange in the summer. My high school won the Quebec Hydro Prize and economizes a mammoth $135,000 a year in heating oil (College Ste-Anne La Pocatière, Qc). Way to go leaders!

(3) Hydrogen fuel cells offered much hope a decade ago, but no cigar. Hydrogen as a combustible is doomed to remain too costly to produce and too dangerous to transport, and the fuel cells have too short a working life.

(4) But its child, the natural gas fuel cell (Solid oxide fuel cell : see video), can also produce electricity with little to no waste, works pretty well for medium industry needs for power stability, like what eBay and Google use from BloomEnergy, among other makers.  Yes, gas is gas, but the idea here is to combine the best of all worlds. On the topic of natural gas, let me introduce you to (4.5) A nordic home owner’s very elegant solution for heat, hot water and electricity might just be found in the micro-generator designed initially for yatchs in New-Zeeland by Whispergen. This 2 cubic foot unit is based on the sterling engine and is likely a very good candidate for decentralization of energy production.

(5) Solar photovoltaic panels still need improvement but are rather useful to relieve power spikes, particularly in climates such as Sydney’s in Australia, where they are used in enough numbers to alleviate the cost of AC during times of scorching sun exposure. I personally like the type that are made in wave-like forms, similar to the old, terra-cotta roofing tiles, since they go on the roof.

(6) Electric cars have bad batteries (bad, heavy-metal chemistry when put to waste), and they need power from the electrical grid, which is already under stress. But super condenser battery technologies offer some hope. All our computers work with condenser batteries, which is why we do not have to replace the internal battery anymore to keep the clock ticking. Next is to build a super condenser battery for cellulars, then possibly for cars. A condenser battery is somewhat like what we use is in a photo flash to accumulate the power and release it instantly in the form of light.

(7) Nuclear energy, in the form of liquid-fluoride thorium or Fluid Fuel Reactors, offers the best hope for optimizing percentage of fuel use, minimizing radioactive waste and catastrophic failure: read  “Uranium Is So Last Century — Enter Thorium, the New Green Nuke” in Wired magazine. Check out Kirk Sorensen, NASA. The old, uranium nuclear plants are time bombs, no matter what the well-paid, nuclear CEOs lead us to believe. Science is derived from experiences, we have experienced it enough, I think. Petroleum disasters are not much better, but the land remains habitable soon after, which is not true for nuclear. That said, petroleum kills more people than nuclear, in car accidents for one… That would be an after effect!

(8) Compact fluorescent bulbs turn out to be not so green: not so durable, not so inexpensive and bad in their waste cycle. Perhaps OK as a stop-gap measure while we wait for the new LED-driven compact bulb. LED fixtures are now produced in powerful and good color light.  LED bulbs are impoving to a point where, in 3 years, they will be the standard household devices. They work because most of the energy consumed produces light versus heat. This means 90% of electricity goes into light versus the other way around in the case of conventional quartz-tungsten bulbs. I just used 5 large 40 watt LEDs in my office to replace my five 150 watt quartz bulbs — what a winner!

(9) Replacement of old, buzzing transformers (ballast) with electronic ballast in conventional fluorescent fixtures, mainly in large office buildings, is a sure improvement on many fronts, the savings are instant, while keeping the old fixtures makes the conversion cost effective.

(10) Rent a bike, make green fun, see the Bixi system in Montreal. Much better than fighting lack of proper transit in Calgary with downtown parking now at $12/h. The minimum salary in Alberta is $8.80/h since January 2011.

Nelson Vigneault
CEO CleanPix Corp.


Newsstand

January 6, 2011

2010 saw the disappearance of many obsolete technologies, such as Teletype, and let’s not forget the end of the telegram era. In the same vein, we have seen a trend for the closing down of DVD video and CD audio stores, perhaps simply because it just makes sense that digital files be handled and transfered digitally.The Internet is the vehicle of choice to do so. Since video and audio files are digital, we could conclude that any sort of physical handling or packaging of digital files is a thing of the past. We can also predict that the practice of CD burning and flash-drive file transfers are perhaps examples of the last vestiges of this dying breed. Not a big loss. On an ecological scale, from handling to delivery, these devices were certainly not the best quality choice one could make.

Synergy
In recent years, we have also heard much about “the Paperless Office”. And yet, the business world probably uses more paper than ever. On the side of the NEWS world, we have witnessed that a good proportion of advertiser dollars has moved from newsprint and/or TV to the Internet. But is it the same for the magazine publication world? It appears, not exactly, if we look a the vibrancy of the typical Corner Newsstand. These retail stores remain gorged with magazines of all types, and there is a growing appetite from the audience. The newsstand is not only surviving the Internet “takeover” but is thriving because of it. There is somewhat of a synergy to be noted between information content found in magazines and on the Internet. Whether the material is editorial or advertising in nature, the two media streams constantly play to one another. Just recently, we saw, for example, a clear increase in popularity of QR Codes, to drive content from printed matter to the Internet via Smartphones.

Magazine editorials are thriving.
At the corner newsstand, there is something about balancing a coffee cup in one hand, holding a magazine in the other, while juggling some texting, that escapes me. That said, the importance of being featured in a magazine editorial remains definitely a winning marketing strategy for PR Media professionals. Needless to stress the importance of having your content material, photos and files, in all formats and of a quality ready to be used for that glossy magazine article, as well as for social media Internet applications. Being in control of your brand may just mean being ready to deliver your content securely and swiftly to ensure your presence in key editorials. Clearly, to reach audiences, magazines are as popular and lively as the newsstands that display them.

Nelson Vigneault
CEO CleanPix.


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

December 21, 2010

The CleanPix team will take some time off during the up and coming holidays. We will monitor closely any requests you or your end users might have during the coming days. So if you need assistance just leave us a message. We are looking forward to the new year 2011 which will mark our tenth anniversary. The economic forecast is now showing a positive trend to the coming months, this is great news for everyone.


Wedding on a sandy beach

December 8, 2010

The Cleanpix team is delighted to announce the wedding of Donna Roberts and Chip Hoffman.

The wedding took place last Sunday, December 5, 2010, on Sanibel Island, Florida. Inese Bisrtins and I were present at this idyllic Sanibel beach event that was staged just moments before a glorious sunset. As a CleanPix partner, Chip, together with Donna, was happy to be able to select this site as one of the best wedding destinations from one of our long-time clients, the Lee County CVB in Fort Meyers. Donna and Chip met on that very white, sandy beach 9 years ago. At the ceremony, Chip gave Donna his grandmother’s ring, a gesture that precipited in the audience a wave of Ahs! as well as a few tears of love and affection. After the ceremony, following a Brazilian tradition, Donna tossed her flower bouquet into the ocean for good luck. The guests followed suit, throwing more flowers into the sea as tokens of our best wishes for their voyage together. May their lives be filled with joy and happiness.

On behalf of the CleanPix team, my business partner Inese Birstins, and myself,

Nelson Vigneault,

CEO CleanPix Corp.

Photos by Inese Birstins


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