Tuesday 25 July 2023

Rant: Google Has Ruined Google Photos On The Desktop

 It's not often I complain about free services, but Google Photos used to be good, other than the occasional glitch it was very useful. That is until very recently when Google made the web app more like the mobile app, including making the image Aspect tool more like the Android app, which is mildly annoying to use with a mouse. And with every single image I have to choose the aspect ratio, otherwise it stays on Free! It used to stick to whichever aspect was used last. 

Oh and putting every quick edit tool behind a Google One paywall is annoying too, particularly when those same tools are available in the mobile app for nothing. The Enhance button usually makes photos far too cool by lowering the Warmth level for some silly reason.

But no, that is not the most egregious change. No, that prize goes to the removal of Copy and Paste between images. You used to be able to edit one image to how you wanted it, CTRL+C the changes, then move left or right, without clicking Done, to the next image and then CTRL+V those image settings. I could get through dozens of images in no time at all with this method, with maybe a slight alteration to the settings throughout. But no, now you cannot move to the next image without clicking Save. So that's one hurdle to productivity, and you cannot copy and paste, so that slows me down even more! Just why were these removed? Does Google even use their own software? This is just the worst change to Google Photos I have ever encountered! And they still have not fixed odl bugs like after archiving an image, the web app refuses to move to the direction of the next image, so i have to go back out to all images and in again. I shall now continue editing today's photos, which will take about 4 times longer than it did before!  

/Rant endeth

Update 14/10/2023:

Copy and paste of edits is back, but you still can't move form image to image without exiting edit mode.

Thursday 13 July 2023

Linuxiversary... Three Years With LinuxMint.

Today is my third ‘linuxaversary’, that’s three years using Linux full time, leaving a twenty year relationship with Apple behind in 2020 and what a journey it has been.

I wrote an article on the first anniversary and on the second anniversary and I have to say this year has been a lot better.

While I had played with Linux while still in the Mac world, jumping in to it full time for all my computing needs was a daunting task. I had to make sure it was capable of doing everything I needed – and I was fairly up to speed with it - with as little down time as possible. I’d already been using a lot of cross platform open source apps on my Mac so it was mainly the OS swap I had to cope with.

The first year was a steep learning curve. While Mac and Linux are quite similar, there was still a lot to learn and a handful of times I did question whether I had done the right thing. I get very frustrated when I can’t do something or work something out. The second year was a lot smoother, I had settled in quite well, with only a few minor issues which were easily fixed. This last year has been a breeze, an absolute joy to use and now I cannot see myself using anything else.

Linux Mint Cinnamon is my distro of choice and is fantastic. I have run it on a few different laptops over the last few years but currently (and for quite a while now) I am using it on a Dell Latitude E7250 – a rather modest fifth gen i5 machine, maxed with an mSATA drive and 16GB of RAM. It more than copes with my daily life – which consists of web browsing and video editing.

Linux and the choice of desktop environments have come a long way in the last ten years. Very rarely would the average user need to dip in to terminal and a lot more software is cross platform and if not there are software managers – like App Stores – where even a non-technically mind person can browse and install what they need. I certainly think in terms of Linux Mint and Ubuntu they are easier, less complicated, less intrusive and far more stable than running Windows.

That is the beauty of Linux. There are distros suited for everyone – new users, pro users and those with specific needs. And while Mac and Windows really need modern hardware to function fully, Linux can be tailored to run on modern hardware as well as less capable hardware and even very low end kit – depend on which distro and desktop environment you choose – making it fantastic for just about everyone.

So I am happy. I won’t be writing an anniversary article next year. I have reached that point from initially switching where I had minor hiccups and learning new Linux related things daily, to just being able to use my laptop for what I need without anything getting in the way. After all, I just want to get done what I need to. But if I need to I can comfortably install new software, dip in to Terminal and fix any issues – although finger crossed I haven’t had any in the last year – without it eating up an entire afternoon.

On a small side note, for anyone who relies on Windows software – there is always the option to run some of these inside Linux. I do a lot of gaming on portable devices and I like to mod them or run hacked games which need specific small piece of software or patching tools, which are generally developed for Windows only and I have had great success running these using WINE – which is a great tool (available for Mac as well as Linux) which adds a compatibility layer and emulates the Windows environment (although it does stand for Wine Is Not an Emulator) allowing a lot of Windows only software to run.

So I am going to finish this article (and mini series) with one piece of advice. If you are fed up with the constant chase of new hardware with Apple, or hate the intrusiveness and downright awkwardness of Windows, you should give Linux a serious thought. There is a distro and a desktop environment to suit everyone's needs and while it might be a little more complicated initially – if you don’t rely on Mac or Windows only software – then I highly recommend giving Linux some consideration.

Written by Simon Royal. Follow me at twitter.com/simonroyal

Wednesday 12 July 2023

Shotcut Video Editor: How To Create a Simple YouTube Video With a Still Image

Here's just a quick and simple tutorial on how to make a basic video from a still image and some audio. I usually make these simple videos for uploading my own music to YouTube. I used to use web apps or command line stuff for this but i find it a lot easier, better, to use a decent video editor. Shotcut can usually be found in your Linux distro's package manager if it's not installed already. I am using KDE so i usually use Discover to install Shotcut. That usually works best though if there's an issue you could also try the Appimage, or, as a last resort, the Flatpak or Snap packages but they won't integrate as well with your distro. Shotcut is also available for Mac and Windows.

1. Click Timeline, if the Timeline is not showing. 

2. Right click on the Timeline, select Track Operations and then choose select Add Audio Track (or use the keyboard shortcut)

3. Drag an audio file onto that track, so now you should have an audio file in like so:

4. Right click on the Timeline, select Track Operations and then choose select Add Video Track

5. Drag an image from the file manager onto the Timeline, Hover over the edge of the image in the TImeline, drag so it fills the whole line, making sure it lines up with the audio track at both ends. You may also like to experiment with adding effects - click on the image or audio and then click Filters, click the plus symbol and choose some suitable effect, I often use the Fade Out Video and Fade Out Audio filters, 

6. Click Export File, choose a name and press enter to save it. By default it saves as an H.264/AAC MP4 video, which is suitable for Youtube. 

And that's it, just drag the resultant file into Youtube's upload box and it should work just fine. 

Here's a YouTube upload of mine that I made using Shotcut.