First Impressions on Flickr’s New Book Publishing Service

I Just Published My First Book

I just published my very first book.

I’ve been meaning to do a book forever and today I finally did it. Flickr launched their new book publishing service today and I wanted to try it out, so I created a 200 page book called America in Progress.

The book is comprised of 200 photos I hand selected from the almost 88,000 I’ve got published to Flickr. It cost me $137.94.

The basic charge for the new Flickr book is $34.95 for a 20 page book. Additional pages are 50 cents each with a 240 page maximum. In my case shipping was another $12.99. ($34.95 for the basic book + $90 for an extra 180 pages + $12.99 for shipping).

The Breakdown on What My New Book Costs
My book cost me about $138 for my 200 page book.

The book should arrive in the next 5 to 7 business days.

It took me about 2.5 hours to make the book. It’s a photo only book and the only text I was able to add was the title of the book — which is on the cover and on the spine. I didn’t see any way to change the font of the title so I went with what they offered by default.

The Breakdown on What My New Book Costs
My book should be here in 5 to 7 business days.

There were a lot of glitches when I built my book — which is to be expected when you try out a new service within the first hour of launch. The first book I tried to create sent me to a non-existent page when I tried to check out. The publishing page was also running very slowly for me at one point. It would take me about 45 seconds to add a new page to my book. My session crashed and when I refreshed the page it went faster. Fortunately Flickr auto-saves the progress on your book as you go, so I didn’t lose any work when this happened.

The Layout Tool For Flickr's New Book Service Was Super Easy to Use
Despite some glitches, Flickr’s layout tool for creating books was really easy to use.

I was also warned when I tried to check out that there were print quality alerts on some pages of my books, but I carefully checked every single page and didn’t see any alerts anywhere. It would be nice if you could click a link which would tell you what pages specifically Flickr was concerned with.

As far as book publishing goes, it was really easy to create the book. I could either pull from my Flickr photostream or from any of my sets. You just drag and drop the photos into a book publishing sort of layout and you can move pages around so that things go where you want them.

Because I have so many photos in my Flickrstream and so many sets in my Flickrstream, I found it difficult to find all of the photos that I wanted to use in the book. Most users won’t have 88,000 Flickr photos though, so it should be easier for them. It would be nice if Flickr also offered a third way to find photos to publish, search.

The book will be 11” x 8.5 and will be a hardcover. Flickr says it will be printed on “premium white proPhoto paper with a Lustre finish,” and will come with a dust jacket.

If you change your mind on buying the book after you create it and check out, you have an hour to cancel your order.

I will report back more when I actually get the book as to the quality of it compared to other self publishing group books I’ve been involved with. Books can only be delivered to the Continental U.S.

I think it’s smart for Flickr to get into the book publishing business (and their timing is pretty good with the Holiday season approaching). It’s a natural way for them to grow and make money. I suspect that today’s offering is only the beginning. I could see Flickr also offering a way for book publishers to sell their books as well in the future, like blurb offers.

For more feedback on this new book service from Flickr you can check out this thread in the Flickr Help Forum.

When I First Tried to Check Out Flickr Took Me to a Non-Existent Page
An error sent me to a weird non-existent page when I first tried to checkout and pay for my book — Flickr seemed to want to send me to giantsouthern’s photostream instead.

More from Fast Company here.

Update: here is the pdf file of my book that Flickr sent me if you want to check it out. Feel free to download a free pdf copy if you’d like. :)

Converting from Android Back to the iPhone, Initial Observations

I’ve been using smartphones for a long time. I was an original owner of what I believe was the very first smart phone, the Kyocera PDQ 800 back in 2000. I had a couple of Microsoft Windows based phones after that. I waited in line down in Palo Alto with my pal Robert Scoble to get the very first iPhone when it was launched back in 2007. I then upgraded to an iPhone 3G, then an iPhone 3Gs. I skipped the iPhone 4 opting instead to give Android a run for the money. I switched to a Samsung Vibrant in 2010 and then in 2011 to a Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

On Friday my new iPhone 5s arrived.

I returned to the dark side of Apple for a lot of different reasons. I hated the poor battery life on both of my previous Android phones. I hated that it felt like the only way to get updates on Android phones was to buy a new Android phone. I thought it sucked how difficult it was getting updated software and I thought Google didn’t do enough to pressure the hardware manufacturers and carriers to better support Android updates in the aftermarket.

A lot of things felt broken on my Android phones all the time. Things crashed, didn’t work, etc. People kept suggesting that I “root” my phone to fix things — but I didn’t want to root my phone. I’m not a phone geek. I just want something really good that consistently works with little effort.

On my recent trip to New York City last month, I felt like I spent the whole trip apologizing to people who couldn’t get a hold of me on my Nexus because it was constantly dead. I didn’t dare listen to music on it or it would die even faster.

It’s totally unfair to compare my new iPhone with a 2 year old Galaxy Nexus, but I’m going to do it anyways. Maybe Android’s come a long way since my Nexus, but I’m not interested in shelling out $500 to see if in fact this is the case — not after feeling like I’ve been burned twice with my last two Android phones.

I’ve only been using my new iPhone for a few days, but here are my initial observations.

1. The iPhone battery is wayyy better than my old phone. Last night I went to bed with my iPhone fully charged, but unplugged. This morning it had 98% of it’s battery life still. That was amazing to me. My Nexus would have been dead. It’s so nice having a phone that actually has a battery life.

2. The internet reception is better on this phone than my Nexus. For the last two years I’ve thought that Verizon just had really crappy internet service in the Ferry Building here in San Francisco. It turns out it was my phone! All the places in the Ferry Building where I couldn’t get Verizon LTE service on my Android, now work perfectly with Verizon LTE on my iPhone. I was so frustrated all the time when my LTE connection wouldn’t work on my old phone. I was constantly blaming Verizon when the real culprit was MY PHONE! Verizon LTE works GREAT. I just needed the right phone.

3. I didn’t care about the fingerprint technology on the new iPhone. I never locked my Nexus and didn’t think I’d lock this one — I’m one of those optimists who never thinks they will lose their phone. It turns out that the fingerprint tech is so easy that I do now lock my iPhone. I totally get that the NSA likely now has my fingerprint, but I don’t care about stuff like that.

4. It’s nice to be able to hear my music again. One of the things that I disliked about my old Nexus was the music volume. It was too low at max volume. Sometimes when you are on a train or something you want the music louder. The iPhone music can go louder and that’s nice.

5. It’s nice having my iPhone sync with my iTunes. I transferred about 7,000 of my favorite songs on it. I tried downloading doubleTwist to somehow port my iTunes to my old Nexus, but I could never get it working. I think my music library was too large for doubleTwist or something. Letting iTunes manage my music flawlessly with my iPhone is great.

6. My new iPhone just feels better. I don’t know how to describe it. It feels more responsive, more accurate, faster. It feels smoother. The Flickr and Google+ apps flow easier on it.

7. The first shocker for me was how much smaller the phone and the screen felt to me. I got over this quickly and barely notice at this point.

8. I don’t really feel like I’m missing the best Google stuff from my Nexus. I can get Google Maps on my iPhone. I can get Gmail on my iPhone. I can get Google Chrome on my iPhone. All of the best things that sort of set Google apart initially for me as an incentive to go Android feel like they are now on iPhone.

9. Setting up my new iPhone took me a lot longer than I thought it would. Some of this was my fault and some was the phone’s I think. I couldn’t activate it at first. My phone couldn’t connect to the activation server. I finally got it activated and it wouldn’t connect with my wifi at home initially (now it works fine). I had to download all of my favorite apps. It seemed to take longer to download my apps than I would have liked. I had to reset some passwords because I’m always forgetting my passwords (on Flickr now your password must include upper and lowercase letters, a number, a special character AND be at least 8 digits!) I spent about an hour trying to figure out how to get my Google Calendar into my iPhone calendar. It turns out what was screwing me up was two step authentication. Once I turned that off at Google it worked.

Thanks to everyone online on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc. who gave me input on what phone I should buy next. Rosa Golijan was especially helpful. :)

A Taste of Oakland Uptown Block Party

A Taste of Oakland
$2 micro Brew beers tonight at Kitchener in Oakland for A Taste of Oakland.

Earlier tonight mrsth and I enjoyed a night out on the town in Oakland at A Taste of Oakland’s Uptown Block Party. The food/cocktail event included 24 participating Uptown Oakland restaurants and bars.

A Taste of Oakland was founded by two Oakland natives, Helen Wyman (of Oakland Events) and Lamont Dawson. Their mission is to promote local businesses, highlight Oakland’s assets, change perceptions of Oakland, build a sense of community between the residents and the business community and showcase the culinary revolution that has become prominent in the food industry, establishing Oakland as a culinary destination.

I’d say based on tonight’s successful event, they did just that.

Participating restaurants/bars included: Kitchener, Sweet Bar Bakery, Hawker Fare, Pican, Ozumo, Luka’s Taproom & Lounge, Plum Bar, Donut Savant, Era Art Bar & Lounge, Torpedo Sushi, Farley’s East, Anfilo Coffee, Vo’s Restaurant, Telegraph, The Legionnaire Saloon, Kingston 11 Cuisine (although they weren’t open yet), Hutch Bar & Kitchen, Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe, Make Westing, Somar Bar, Camber, Bench & Bar, Dogwood and Mockingbird.

The evening gave Oakland food and restaurant aficionados a great opportunity to sample a ton of different restaurants and bars over the course of the three hour event in stylish Uptown. It was a great opportunity to check out new places and plan for further dinners and reservations down the road.

My favorite restaurant of the event was the newcomer Mockingbird. They served a duck pate that was delicious! I’ve been wanting to try Mockingbird and that will probably be the next dinner I have out.

I also really enjoyed the North Carolina pull pork that Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe served, the pull pork sandwich served by Telegraph, the Thai food at Camber and the Four Roses Bourbon cocktail served by Hutch. The pork meatball at Ozumo was pretty tasty too. The restaurants were all within walking distance and it was priced at a very affordable $20 per ticket.

With 24 venues, the event had a lot of local community support, it felt like most of the restaurants in Uptown participated — although the woman at Catered to You was outside offering samples of her decadent buffalo french fries complaining that this was the second time she’d asked to be included and wasn’t. Hopefully she gets in on the next one. :)

Thanks for a great night out A Taste of Oakland. Looking forward to more of your great events in the future! #taseteuptown #tasteofoakland

To see more photos from tonight’s event, check out this set on Flickr here.

A Taste of Oakland
maitre d’ at Pican.

A Taste of Oakland
Serving at the Pop Up Outside Hawker Fare.

A Taste of Oakland
$5 specialty cocktails at a Taste of Oakland restaurants and bars. This one at Pican.

A Taste of Oakland
Hutch served an excellent Four Roses Bourbon cocktail along with popcorn popped in bacon fat.

A Taste of Oakland
A little Oakland street art between restaurants — a Homer Simpson / Stormtrooper mashup outside Hawker Fare.

A Taste of Oakland
Serving Thai food at Camber.

A Taste of Oakland
Torpedo Sushi was serving up their California roll on a potato chip.

A Taste of Oakland
The dreamland of neon cupcakes at Sweet Bar Bakery who were serving a taste of chocolate or ginger cookies.

A Taste of Oakland
Newcomer Mockingbird, my favorite restaurant of the evening.

A Taste of Oakland
Enjoying a cocktail at the bar at Ozumo.

A Taste of Oakland
Making Jameson and tea cocktails at Plum Bar.

A Taste of Oakland
That pork meatball at Ozumo was pretty damn good.

A Taste of Oakland
Serving pull pork sandwiches at Telegraph.

Flickr Rolls Out New Photo Preview Page to All Users

Flickr Opens Up New Photo Preview Page to Users

Yesterday Flickr opened up their new photo page preview to the world. I opted in to the new photo page this morning and here are my initial thoughts on it. Overall I like it.

1. Photos are bigger. The bigger the photo the better. Flickr eliminated top menu items on the page. They also eliminated the hint area to encourage people to scroll below the fold. By moving the top and bottom non-photo information to the side of the photo, this allows bigger photos.

2. You no longer have to scroll to see a lot of the important information around a photo. Having a lot of the information that people care about to the side of the photo, makes it easier to get to this information. You know, sort of like how Google+ does it. ;)

3. I’ve got mixed feelings on the new hashtags. I do like the fact that Flickr has added #tags to all Flickr tags… I think. This is the new methodology for tags in social media (i.e. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and everybody else in the world), so it would make sense that people would be more familiar with this concept, especially new users.

On the other hand, hashtags don’t really work very well for multi word tags and descriptions (the space between words gets stripped out). So “Saved by the Deleteme Uncensored Group” on the old Flickr photo page now becomes #savedbythedeletemeuncensoredgroup, which looks like a big mess. A lot of Flickr users would tag phrases and thoughts in the tag section of their photos and these are now pretty much unreadable.

Also Flickr now hides a lot of tags underneath a “more” button. This to me would seem to discourage users from using lots of descriptive tags, which I think are important for organizational and search reasons on Flickr. I don’t think any tags should be hidden under a “more” button. All tags should be shown on the photo page.

Groups and others who relied on multi word tags for photo games, may not like the new tagging structure.

4. A lot of the full functionality of the new photo page is being developed. This new photo page is by no means the final product. I think it’s good that Flickr lets people opt in and opt back out, to try it out. It’s a little bit of perpetual beta in a way and I like that Flickr is willing to put itself out there without having everything at 100%. Move fast and break things (as they say over at Facebook).

5. The new Flickr photo page is an under-developed preview, this means that there are quite a few things that still need to be done (some of which are planned and in the works by Flickr).

We need to be able to generate html code to blog images off site still (it’s coming). We need to be able to see all sizes of our photos and download our photos (it’s coming). We need to be able to click on favorites and see who has favorited an image. We need to be able to click on a date an image was taken and have it take us to the calendar archive view for that day of our photos. You can’t edit a comment on a photo after you make it (you can only delete your comment and start over). HTML formated links seem to be borked in photo descriptions.

Lots of little things still need to be added in to the photo page. It’s missing a lot of functionality still. The design looks good though and I hope they implement all these little things quickly.

6. My favorite thing about the new photo page is that it really highlights your sets. Sets are one of my favorite things on Flickr. I’ve made over 1,800 sets on Flickr. With the new photo page, Flickr now shows other thumbnails of photos from the same set and not just a link to the set. I think this will drive more views to people’s sets on Flickr, which is a great thing. [Note: this seemed to be working earlier today, but now it seems like this feature is not showing on my photos]

7. According to Neil Howard, the new Flickr photo page doesn’t support secure SSL browsing. SSL is the “https://” that makes a connection encrypted which is used by a lot of people.

8. I do like the new feedback forum that Flickr is also pushing with this preview. It has a way to vote answers up or down. This seems like an interesting way for staff to pay attention to the things that need to be fixed the most. The forum is already full of the “who moved my cheese” cheeshead bellyaching that comes with every Flickr change, but there is some useful criticism and feedback there that seems to bubble up to the top at the same time.

One other thing worth noting with these new bigger photos. A lot of photographers have told me over the years that they only load small, low res images on social media sites like Flickr. They think that these smaller photos are “good enough” and fret about having their larger images “stolen.”

I’ve always uploaded my full high res originals to the Flickr. As display sizes keep getting bigger and bigger, some of the people who have uploaded low res, small photos are going to see their photos begin to look bad in the larger size formats. On the other hand, those of us who always upload high res photos, our photos will still look good at these larger sizes. Especially as more and more photos are being consumed on things like the Flickr app on AppleTV, people ARE actually looking at your photos in much larger format than what you may have initially considered. Everything with photos on today’s web is going BIGGER — just something to think about.

It is pretty cool that Flickr gives everyone a full terabyte of high res original sized images for free — which means virtually unlimited free storage for your high res photos on Flickr. Google and Facebook should do that too.

These are my initial thoughts. Now I’m actually going to revert back to the old photo page (so that I can get the html code to blog the image in this post) and then revert back to the new page and keep testing it out.

What do you think of the new Flickr Photo Page? Do you like it? Love it? Hate it? And why?

More from The Verge here.

Update: Another little thing I don’t like (that I hope is fixed before release) — when I hover on a tag on the new photo page, I don’t get an option to explore other photos with that tag by me or by everyone. The only choice is to click the actual tag link which takes me to everyone. Flickr is a personal organizer for my photos and I like having the option to only return my photos with that tag, without having to go to search and specify that there.

I’d Plus One That! Why I Think Google’s Shared Endorsements Are a Good Thing for Social Media, Influencers and Consumers

Are You On Google+ Yet?  If You're Not You Should Be

There’s been a lot of talk today online about the upcoming change in Google’s TOS that will allow them to begin selling ads with your endorsement of various products and services on the web. I’ve seen different reactions from some people who dislike this idea and others who are largely apathetic about it.

Because Google gives everyone an opportunity to opt out of shared endorsements, it’s easy to dismiss a lot of the criticism by simply pointing folks to how easy opting out is. Some people are very anti-advertising though and certainly this new advertising channel will naturally be met by some with healthy skepticism. It’s also worth noting that these ads are not going to appear on Google+. Google+ will remain ad free. The new ads simply will use Google+ data to advertise in places where Google is already advertising, like search.

Personally speaking, for myself, I embrace change. In general I’d rather see more change, than less. I think change represents innovation (usually) and I probably tend to look for the positive in change rather than the negative. I’m a glass half full sort of guy when it comes to change.

I think most of us see how today’s announced change in the TOS is good for businesses who advertise. Personal endorsements by our friends are incredibly powerful motivators. Ads which feature personal endorsements by people we know, trust and respect, will be far more effective than other ads that an advertiser might come up with.

I think we can also see where this new product would be good for Google. Google gets paid by the click. If they can run ads that produce way more clicks and are more effective, it would seem to stand that they can make more money selling ads. The more clickable an ad the more revenue per page view it represents.

The last part of this equation though is the user, and I think a lot of people are trying to figure out if this is a good, bad, or indifferent thing for the user.

My opinion is that this is a good thing for the user and here’s why.

1. I believe that this change will push brands, products, services, businesses, etc. to allocate more of their marketing budgets towards social media and social media influencers than in the past. It’s ridiculous to me how much money companies like Canon and Nikon and other old brands, that just don’t get it, spend on things like tired old photography magazines and traditional print media vs. social media.

Social media is the future. By increasing the value of our possible endorsements through advertising buys, companies will spend more time, effort and money to court social influencers.

My favorite lens is the Canon 135 f/2. I love that lens so much. By allowing Canon the opportunity to buy that love in the form of a Google ad and promote it, that gives Canon a more powerful incentive to work with me to be more public about my love for this lens. I love lots of other things too. I’m not shy about telling folks when I like something. I had dinner last night at A 16 in Oakland, and it rocked. I like to spread the good word.

I predict that individuals with large followings on G+ will increasingly be seen as potential partners for brands whose products they use. If you consider yourself a social media type, this will be one more important reason why you’ll want to devote time to building out your presence on G+.

There will be a risk of course that some influencers will be bought off by brands for positive endorsements, but I think most of the time this stuff is pretty easy to sniff out. It’s the true, authentic, natural posts (available for purchase after the fact as ads) that will be most valuable. I bet brands spend more time showing us their cool new tech and products as the value of these ads become apparent and more of their budgets are spent on promoting products to G+ users.

2. When a company buys an ad with your endorsement, this is one more place that your social media footprint is shared on the web. I’m not sure if the endorsements will actually link back to your profile or the actual product review itself, but as I’ve seen it, it will at least include your name and your avatar.

One of the reasons why I never change my avatar is that I believe having a strong avatar that is consistent over the years with your brand helps you build recognition. When I see Robert Scoble’s avatar, I immediately know that it is him — I’m biased of course because I took the photo Robert uses for his avatar. :)

Even faster than I can read Robert’s name, I know it’s him.

When Facebook first started showing brands that your friends liked, Robert jumped right on that bandwagon. For about 2 months every time I logged into Facebook, I was seeing another brand that Robert liked. Were the brands paying Facebook for that? Probably. But it also constantly reminded me of a good friend and also linked back to him in the like. I have to admit that I ended up liking a lot of the same brands Robert did, when it was something I really liked.

3. Knowing that one of my friend’s has endorsed a product helps *me* make buying decisions. Let’s say I’m in the market to buy a new filter for my camera. Wouldn’t it be a positive for me to know that another photographer I respect (like Joe Azure) seems to like his Lee Big Stop Filter? Isn’t that a lot better than just a generic ad? Especially if I see a lot of my friends endorsing one product, this may be a good signal to me that this product is worth checking out more than others.

I saw a report earlier today that said that by 2014 10-15% of online reviews will be fakes. With all the fake reviews and astroturfing out there, I’m more inclined to trust the word of a friend on a product or service, than a stranger.

This is why I don’t really use yelp anymore. Every time I go to yelp I wonder if the review I’m reading is legit or whether or not someone from India or China has been paid to write it up and give it a five star rating. When I was recently in New York City, rather than rely on a service like Yelp to figure out where to eat, I instead relied on my good friend Daniel Krieger, whose opinion I respect and know I can trust. Would a five star dinner recommendation for a new restaurant in the form of a Daniel Krieger advert get my attention? You bet it would. As a consumer, this is a win for me.

Certainly there may be things that go wrong with the implementation of all of this. What if I’m not really endorsing something but my endorsement is slapped on it? Some of this will likely have to be worked though. As far as the general idea of shared endorsement goes though, I think I like it.

Oh, and by the way, if you were wondering whether or not those sea salt and vinegar chips in the dark blue bag by Kettle Chips were the BEST CHIPS IN THE ENTIRE WORLD? Yep, they pretty much are — and if Kettle Chips wants to send a few bags of those over to our place, my daughters and I would totally be down with that. ;)

A 16, A Southern Italian Gem in Rockridge, Oakland

Tonight, along with mrsth, I finally decided to check out one of the highly regarded Oakland restaurant newcomers, A 16, in the Rockridge District of Oakland.

A 16 has been open for about 5 months now and is a sister restaurant to the popular restaurant with the same name in San Francisco’s Marina district. The restaurant took over the old Hudsons/Garibaldi’s space on College Avenue. Like their Marina counterpart, the restaurant focuses on Southern Italian Campania region food. A 16 is a highway in Italy that runs from Naples in Campania to Canosa in Puglia.

Unlike their Marina relative, A 16 Rockridge has a liquor license allowing it a full bar and cocktail service to go along with their menu.

Chef Rocky Maselli has put together a wonderful menu that focuses on pasta and gourmet pizzas, with lots of little extras worth exploring on the menu. Everything we had tonight was absolutely first rate. No dish disappointed. The fresh handmade pasta was the highlight.

Before beginning our meal we started out with two cocktails from A 16’s creative cocktail menu. I had the Hemingway Negroni, which was served over a couple of giant ice cubes in an attractive oversized tumbler. It was made with papa pilar rum and was delicious.

After cocktails we ordered the roasted beets and heirloom tomato salad. The salad was complemented with ricotta and generously dressed with olive oil. The beets, tomatoes and cheese, went well together and it was a refreshing end of a Bay Area summer salad.

After we finished the salad, our main dishes arrived. For our main dishes we decided to share the capunti — pancetta, chanterelles, cherry tomato, smoked caciocavallo pasta and the montanara rockridge pizza.

All three of these dishes tonight were recommendations of the very knowledgeable bartenders who took care of us at the bar. Mrsth and I always prefer sitting at the bar over a table and find that the bartenders frequently are the most knowledgable of a restaurant’s service staff. Tonight, especially, they did not disappoint.

The capunti pasta was my favorite dish of the evening. The taste of the caciocavallo cheese in the pasta gave it a wonderful smokey taste. It was a rich, full flavored rewarding dish. The montanara pizza, named for the local neighborhood, was also splendid. We added prosciutto and arugula to the burrata (again at the bartender’s recommendation) on the pizza and it complemented it perfectly as did the Scrimshaw Pilsner I ordered with it.

Finally for dessert we decided on the fried apple turnovers which came alongside a rich caramel honey type sauce. Before serving us our turnovers, the staff brought us over a complementary plate of Italian cookies to enjoy. The three turnovers were the perfect amount of sweet to end our evening.

We didn’t have any wine with our meal, choosing to stick to more cocktails and a beer with the pizza. The restaurant does have a wonderfully full wine list though. You can also bring your own bottle (with corkage charge). The menu said that they would waive corkage charge per bottle brought with each bottle bought from their list. They offered both tastes and full pours of wines by the glass.

The ambience of the restaurant was very nice. The bar is large and oversized with plenty of room on a large marble slab. The restaurant is open and airy, and once the sun went down and they opened the shades, a rich, warm evening sunset sunlight filled the restaurant.

The service for our meal could not have been better. Two bartenders managed the bar, and even with a full restaurant, were able to give us the highest quality of service. The recommendations of our bartenders were all absolutely spot on. Meals were promptly delivered and dishes quickly removed. They allowed us to sample taste some of the liquors used in the cocktails when deciding on which drinks to order. I usually find that I get better service at the bar, which is one of the reasons why I prefer the bar over a table, and it was especially true tonight.

We were both delighted tonight with our A 16 experience and definitely will be back to this neighborhood gem to try even more dishes. The only downside to tonight was that they didn’t have a television set at the bar and so we had to rely on our cell phones to keep track of the A’s/Tigers American League Divisional Series deciding game. The restaurant also doesn’t have wifi service and cell service in the restaurant was spotty.

Lack of a TV and good cell service, however, are probably a bonus for many. :)

Hemingway Negroni, A 16, Oakland
Hemingway Negroni, A 16, Oakland

A 16, College Ave in Oakland's Rockridge District
A 16, College Ave in Oakland’s Rockridge District

MMMMM... Beets and Heirloom Tomato Salad
MMMMM… Beets and Heirloom Tomato Salad

Cocktail #2, A 16, Oakland
Cocktail #2, A 16, Oakland

Fresh Handmade Pasta, A 16, Oakland
Fresh Handmade Pasta, A 16, Oakland

Dinner at the Bar, A 16 Oakland
Dinner at the Bar, A 16 Oakland

Fried Apple Turnovers with Caramel Sauce, A 16 Oakland
Fried Apple Turnovers with Caramel Sauce, A 16 Oakland

A Little Prosciutto and Arugula to Complement the Pizza, A 16, Oakland
A Little Prosciutto and Arugula to Complement the Pizza, A 16, Oakland

Cooking Pizzas in the Open Kitchen of A 16, Oakland
Cooking Pizzas in the Open Kitchen of A 16, Oakland

A 16, Oakland
A 16, Oakland

Fresh Cocktail Ingredients, A 16 Oakland
Fresh Cocktail Ingredients, A 16 Oakland

Cookie Time, A 16 Oakland
Cookie Time, A 16 Oakland

Cocktail Menu, A 16 Oakland
Cocktail Menu, A 16 Oakland

JBL Synchros Headphones, New York, NY

These new JBL Synchros headphones seriously rock!  Check out more photos I took at their big launch event in NYC last night here:  http://goo.gl/VfrPNo

More photos I took at JBL’s launch event for their new Synchros headphones last night here.

Google+ Releases Advanced New Photo Editing Tools

All At Once Her Heart Opened Up

Today Google+ released a whole new enhanced online photo editing suite of tools. I’ve been playing around with them for the past few hours and am impressed with what you can do with them as an online editor. While they won’t replace my more traditional desktop tools (i.e. Lightroom, Photoshop, Nik, FX Photo Studio Pro, etc.), I think a lot of more casual users will love them.

The online editor does a lot of the basics of editing (contrast, brightness, shadows, cropping, sharpening, structure etc.), but it also comes with some pretty slick vintage and what they call retrolux editing. These new tools allow you to customize your photos in a lot of the more popular faux photo styles currently hip with the Instagram crowd. While G+ offers some quick filters, they also give you more granular control over how much of each sort of effect you want.

The new editor also includes spot editing tools, which allow you to adjust only parts of a photo that need it and some interesting spot focusing tools, including tilt shift editing.

I edited the photo at the top of this post using the new G+ tools. It’s great to see Google continue to invest and innovate in the online photo sharing space. Below are some screen shots of some of the tools in action.

You can find more information about the new tools here and in the embedded post at the bottom of this post.

Google+ New Retrolux Editing

Google+ Structure and Sharpening Editing

Google+ Vintage Filters

Google+ Cropping Tools


Live Hangout At 1pm PST Tomorrow

I’ll be doing a live hangout on sunset photography tomorrow at 1pm PST on Google+. Come hang out with us. Details below.


2,500 Kick Ass Photographers on Google+

2,500 Kick Ass Photographers on Google+

Over the past 2 years I have been super active on Google+. Google+ has emerged as the best community on the web for photographers. Photos look great there, but photos look great a lot of places on the web today. More significantly, Google+ is a positive, visually oriented community where photographers can meet, talk, get to know each other and develop and maintain friendships.

I’ve met more photography friends on Google+, than any other social network.

As I’ve gotten involved with Google+ I’ve shared my circles of photographers. When Google+ first started out and I built my photographers circle up to 500, I shared it, then 1,000, then 1,500, then 2,000. Last week my photographers circle on Google+ hit 2,500 and I shared it again.

If you want to see some of the best photography being published on the web today, check out some of these photographers.

Part 1-5 (A-Da)
Part 2-5 (Da-Ho)
Part 3-5 (Ho-Mi)
Part 4-5 (Mi-Sh)
Part 5-5 (Sh-Z)


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