October 21, 2006

Google Picasa screensaver a little bit evil

I love Picasa, and was delighted to try out the new version 2.5 that just came out. They did an incredible job in addressing just about every one of my concerns (such as not being able to see photos based on where they are on disk, and not being able to save changes to photos back to the photo that was edited). And they even added a very nice pan & zoom screen saver that integrates into Windows, much like OS X's nice one.

However, they must have been feeling a little too proud of themselves. Because they have gone wild in forcing the Google logo on you. The screensaver starts with a *4* second full-screen Google-only logo display. I thought that was a bit much, but hey, I figured - it is a free product and it is reasonable that they take some advertising attention from their users. But the issue is how much. I thought that 4 seconds was a lot (half a second would have been plenty for me to remember that it was a Google screensaver without being annoying).

And then it starts to get a little bit evil. Every so often, during a photo transition, a fairly large bright colorful Google logo is displayed on top of the photo. I couldn't bear to watch it too long, but it appeared after the 3rd photo, and then after 8 more.

Does Google really think I don't know where Picasa came from? Do they really think that by presenting their corporate logo on top of my personal pictures while I sit and look at them with my family that I am going to think - oh what a nice little company to give me this free software. No, I'm going to think - what a greedy multi-billion dollar corporation that would never have done this a couple of years ago. Google, you apparently haven't the learned the lessons of Real, AOL and other companies that making your customers mad at you by being pushy is never a good idea.

Simplicity and trust goes infinitely further. And I fear that this is the beginning of a corporate shift away from their users and trust - which could spell big trouble for Google if they're not careful. Proove me wrong. Remove this ridiculous feature in version 2.5.1 and I'll look at this as a short misguided fit of hysteria.


Also, despite Google's great success with this software and its continued improvements, I was puzzled that the screensaver was missing one simple but crucial feature - which is to have an easy way of including all your photos in the screensaver. There is just no way to do this. You can include all "starred" photos, but I want all of them. The only way to do that is to look at one folder of photos at a time, and for each one, select all the photos and then add those photos to the screensaver "album". But then every time you add a new photo, you'd have to remember to add it to the screensaver album, or it wouldn't appear.

There's also a way to include photos from disk via the Windows Screensaver Settings. However, I was flabbergasted when I manually added the photos in question, and Picasa explicitly excluded all the photos that Picasa manages. So, not only do they not make it easy to do this - but they purposely stop you from doing this. Do they actually think that no one ever wants to just see all their photos? This is our family's favorite thing to do - precisely because you never know what you're going to get, and that gives something to talk about. Looking at only your few favorites gets boring pretty quick.