Web, gadgets, games
It's time, friends. It's time to purge your camera phone of those drunken pictures, time to make better use of that digital camera you got for your birthday, time to quit e-mailing photos and start posting them. Publish those pictures once and for all using our favorite photo-sharing tool, Flickr.
We have tried Ofoto, Fotolog and Webshots, among other less-useful tools, and while each of those services had something going for it, we were never as satisfied with them as we are with Flickr. Here's your step-by-step guide to sharing your photos with the world:Sign up. Head to www.flickr.com and sign up for a free account. You can upgrade to pro anytime, but a free account should get the job done.
Pick a URL. You don't have to pick a URL to go with your photostream, but you should—that way, all your photos are in one easy-to-identify spot. Your URL will be www.flickr/photos/whateveryoupick.com. Ours is /timeoutchicago.
Upload your first photo. It's easy. You're on your own in terms of getting the pics onto your computer. Flickr provides an "uploadr" tool that you can download, which will streamline the uploading process. It works for Windows XP, ME, 2000 and 98, and there's a version for Panther, too. If you can't or won't use the application, don't sweat it. The upload page is easy to use. Also handy: You can upload a photo by e-mail,which means you can post a photo directly from your camera phone. Flickr will generate a unique e-mail address to which you can send photos. Whatever goes in the subject line is the title, and whatever goes in the body of the e-mail is the caption. On a free account, you get 20MB per month, so if you take high-resolution photos, shrink your image down before you post. If you're using a camera phone, don't bother—those shots are usually around 70KB.
Tag, tag, tag. This is one of our two favorite features on Flickr. Tagging is a way of indexing content that makes your photos easier to search both for you and the Flickr world at large. We uploaded a photo of a doofy-looking green dinosaur we snapped at the minigolf/batting cage/all-around fun place the Bunny Hutch. We tagged the photo green, dinosaur, bunnyhutch, chicago, puttputt and minigolf. In the future, if we're trying to find all the Bunny Hutch photos we've uploaded, we can search by tag. But suppose someone out there in Internetland is on the prowl for photos of dinosaurs. He can find the photos all Flickr users have tagged dinosaur by going to www.flickr.com/photos/tags/dinosaur.
Make notes. This is our other favorite feature. You can add a scroll-over note to portions of your photo if you want to explain or highlight info.
Explore. Flickr just logged its millionth member, so the variety (and quality) of photos posted is extraordinary. The site recently launched an "interestingness" feature that organizes links, comments and popularity into an algorithm to post an especially interesting photo. You can find special shots at www.flickr.com/explore.—Margaret Lyons