Photos, networking and tweets

A bit of a potpourri this week: A revised Eye-Fi product line, image manipulation applications, Twitter update, and Friend Feed, which could replace Twitter

First an update on the Eye-Fi SD memory card with built in Wi-Fi support for your camera that I discussed a few weeks ago: Eye-Fi has released a new product line that includes the $79 Eye-Fi Home targeted at consumers, the $99 Eye-Fi Share (essentially the original product); and the $129 Eye-Fi Explore.

The latter automatically locates nearby Wi-Fi networks and uses Skyhook Wireless (a positioning system for determining the card’s location using Wi-Fi triangulation) to geo-tag pictures, and provide access to over 10,000 Wayport hot spots in the United States.

Very cool. Now we can use Flickr to see more or less real-time photos of you in Starbucks and know the latitude and longitude of where you consume your vente two percent hazelnut cappuccino with extra foam and a dusting of chocolate.

Actually, a problem I’ve found with Eye-Fi is that, unless you have access to a PC to check out the client-side Eye-Fi Manager or the online Eye-Fi site, you don’t know whether your pictures have all uploaded, which means that you can’t safely wipe the card.

While I’m talking photography, I must digress for a moment and mention a couple of remarkable photographic applications that I’ve been playing with that do some truly amazing technical tricks.

The first is Photomatix Pro, published by HDRSoft ($99) which can combine three or more photographs taken at different exposures to create a composite image with a dynamic range far greater than the range found in a regular photograph – the results are amazing. This technique is called High Dynamic Range or HDR, and you can see lots of great examples on HDRSoft’s site as well as on Flickr.

The other photo tool I received was Photo Acute Studio from Almalence ($49 for the standard version and $119 for the professional version). This cool application can combine multiple images to increase image resolution (by up to four times), reduce noise without losing detail, remove moving objects (great for architectural photos), create HDR images, expand the image’s depth of field, fix chromatic aberration, and remove handshake artifacts in low-light images. Incredible.

Anyway, back to our uploading of images to the Web: You could go one better than just making static pictures available online . . . you could go to live streaming video. There’s a newish service called Qik that allows owners of Nokia S60 phones (N71, N73, N75, N76, N77, N80, N82, N91, N92, N93i, N95, E50, E51, E61i, E65, E70m E90 Communicator, 3250, 5500, 5700 Xpress Music, 6110 Navigator, 6120 Classic, 6121 Classic and 6290) to stream live video wherever they have service. Of course you will need a data plan, and Qik suggests you might want to get an unlimited data plan for obvious reasons.

I’ve seen the results of this service by watching, from my desk in Ventura, Calif., my friend and longtime Gearhead reader Scott Lemon walking up Provo Canyon in Utah a few days ago. With Qik you can not only see and hear the remote broadcast, you can also instant message the broadcaster through the Qik interface. Way cool.

Following on from last week’s discussion on posting to Twitter using command line tools such as cURL and Wget, I should warn you that over the past week Twitter has been pretty unreliable. It appears the service is having serious scaling problems that have resulted in a complete loss of service for hours on end as well as ongoing limitations such as historical tweets not being accessible.

An alternative that is attracting a lot of comment is FriendFeed, which aims to aggregate your social networking and blog accounts so you have, in theory, one point of contact with your social network as well as one point to make comments on content and share it using service like Digg and Some commentators claim it is the heir to the Twitter throne but, while I like the service, I have yet to be completely convinced.

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