Picasa Web Albums!

I'm very very sleepy, so I'm not going to write up the lovely evening I had tonight, not even the part about getting to attend both Nalo et al's reading and Alison Bechdel's (all of which were fabulous), nor the part about buying several more books than I expected, nor the part about getting to hang out and chat and eat with various cool people afterward.

No, instead I'm going to mention the new Google release that I've been waiting to be able to talk about: a photo hosting service, called Picasa Web Albums.

For those who aren't familiar with Picasa, it's Google's photo-organizing software for Windows (roughly equivalent to iPhoto). You can download it for free by following that link. (It's also available for Linux, under Wine, but not for Mac.) And as of a few hours ago, Picasa users can now quickly and easily upload their photos from Picasa to the new photo-hosting service.

It's not clear to me whether you need to use Picasa to set up an account or not. After the account is set up, you may be able to upload files using a web browser (rather than needing to use Picasa to upload), so after setting up the account you may be able to use the hosting service without using Windows (and without using Picasa), but I'm not sure about that. (I'm planning to install Parallels on my MacBook so I can run Windows, partly so I can try Picasa from home. But that probably won't happen for a while yet.)

Picasa Web Albums is free (though you can get extra storage space for a fee), but is currently invitation-only. You can get an invitation if you have a Gmail account by going to the main Picasa Web Albums page and putting your Gmail username in the "Sign up to try Picasa Web Albums" text box. The help page indicates that invitations will be issued "on a first come, first served basis."

You don't, of course, need an invitation to view other people's publicly accessible albums. For example, you can view my gallery, which currently contains only a couple of albums: a couple of photos of my MacBook, and a few WisCon photos. There are a bunch of other WisCon photos I hope to post sooner or later, but I haven't gotten permission from all the photo-ees yet.

For more info, including some notes on useful features, see the Google Blog entry. You might also be interested in viewing the test account's jellyfish photos.

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