Tag Archives: google

Google PhotoScan – a genealogists best friend?

google-photo-scan

Google has introduced a new app for both Android and iPhone for scanning printed photos. You can even photograph pictures in glass frames and it will remove the glare.

They’ve put out an amusing video to explain how it works:

I’ve had reservations in the past about phone-based scanning apps for genealogy purposes, especially those that try to scan more than one photo at once (such as a page of photos in an album). My primary concern was that by scanning multiple photos in a single picture, you are drastically reducing the resolution of the photos. Google PhotoScan, however, seems to go in the opposite direction, letting you take multiple photos with your phone to construct a single hi-res glare-free version of the photo you are scanning. This seems more in the right direction.

One problem genealogists run into is finding and copying family photos. Sometimes they’re sitting in one’s attic in a box, but many times they’re sitting in someone else’s attic, or some distant cousin’s photo album. This is the kind of problem that has been addressed by products like the Flip-Pal mobile scanner in the past, although this app is probably easier to use and in many cases will probably return a better result. There are still some cases where a flatbed scanner will probably return a better result, but the advanced algorithms used by this app will be able to get better results most of the time (especially for pictures behind glass).

I haven’t had a chance to test out the app yet, but I welcome comments by others who have, and I will add my own observations once I’ve had a chance to kick the tires.

Starting to use Google+

I’ve been on Google+ as long as anyone, but I admit that at the beginning it didn’t seem very useful. Over time I started to notice, however, lots of discussions going on – particularly about genealogy. Then Google introduced Communities and real discussions started happening. I started to comment on other people’s questions, usually through the iPhone app which makes it easy, and realized that it holds some advantages over Facebook in fostering discussions.

I’ve had a Facebook Page for a long time, with over 2600 followers, and I answer questions there all the time, but it seemed time to get more involved in Google+.

As such, I’ve connected this blog directly to Google+, which should allow me to easily share posts there, and I have set up a Google+ Page for this blog that people can follow.

So if you use Google+, follow this blog’s page to keep updated, and to take part in discussions connected to the posts, and to ask your own questions. If you have suggestions on how to best use Google+, let me know in the comments below (or post on Google+).

Blood and Frogs +1

You may have noticed recently that there has a been a small button popping up in Google search results and in other locations (like at the end of blog posts). This button is a new Google initiative called the +1 button that Google is trying to deploy across the Internet to help people recommend specific sites and articles. When the button is unpressed it is clear, but when you click on it it turns blue, and the number next to it increments by one. You can ‘unclick’ it also – just click it again and it will go back to being clear. You can try that below in the button I have in this post.

If you have a Google account (and are logged into it), then pressing this button for sites, articles and search results you like will actually change the search results people in your online social circle see when doing searches in Google. In other words, if a site you clicked on shows up in the search results of someone you know, it may then show up further up in the search results since Google knows that a friend (you) of the person searching liked that result. For those of you familiar with Digg or Liking on Facebook, this is a very similar concept, except it is fully integrated into Google which makes it very powerful (if you use Google).

This is still experimental, and who knows if Google will keep this feature in the long-run, but if you want give it a try you might already see it in your Google search results (it is being rolled out now to users of English-language search).

You can also try the button here:

which will add a +1 to this post, and/or you can press the button in the upper right of this page to +1 this site as a whole.

Of course, if you’re reading news posts in the future, or are looking at older posts on this site that you like, please press the +1 button at the end of each post to help increase its visibility on Google and I appreciate all the help I can get, so +1 away!

If you start using this feature here and on other genealogy sites around the web, this should increase the relevance of the search results you and your friends get online as more and more of your social network starts to contribute information (instead of it just being determined by a computer algorithm). I don’t know yet if it will also change your own search results based on the sites you click on, but I guess that doesn’t matter much since Google already knows about which sites people are visiting. Perhaps pressing +1 will rank more important than visiting the site (since you may have visited a site and not liked it).

For those interested in adding this button to your own web pages, Google has a page that will generate the code for you automatically. One thing they leave out, however, is that the link they give you will increase the count of only the page it is on, not of the site overall. For example, when this article is posted you will see it on the main page of this web site, which is different from the permanent link to this article, which is also different from the page you would see if you searched for all articles with the  ‘google’ label. If you take the code Google gives you (from the previous link) and place it on your web site (like in the top right of the page like on this web site) it will actually give a different count for each of those views since the web address is different in each case.

Originally I figured this out by looking at how Blogger (which this site runs on) was adding the +1 buttons to posts, but it turns out the ability to direct a +1 button to a specific web address is fully documented on the +1 button API page. For example, the +1 button in the top right of the page has a specified web address for the site’s home page to insure the count is for the site as a whole and not whatever page the person happens to be on at the time. Indeed each button that Google automatically adds to the bottom of each Blogger post (like on this site) links to that specific post. That’s why you can have multiple versions of the button on this page and each one is specific to the post and not to the page (which could contain multiple articles).

p.s. You’d think Google would be smart enough to come up with a name that could easily be converted into a verb. People Like things on Facebook all the time (Like in the sense clicking on the Like button for a page, post or comment) and they Digg posts on sites that support Digg. When I wrote “+1 away!” above it felt a bit contrived. +1 to Facebook and Digg for coming up with the better terms…