Friday, June 20, 2014

Sharing (a Shedload of) Vacation Pictures and Videos

Ok, so now I have a shed load of pictures and videos with meaningful names and I have deleted the crappy ones.  But through the wonders of technology and the convenience is provides in capturing images, I have tens of gigabytes of pictures and videos to share.  So, what do I do?

My God, It's Full of Choices

There are more choices on the web than I can elaborate, and I am not even willing to try to delineate a full list.  In a nutshell, the major choices would be:

  1. Share via file-sharing (e.g., Google Drive, SkyDrive, DropBox)
  2. Share via a third-party sharing service geared to your content (E.G., Picasa for photos, YouTube for videos)
  3. Host on your own site
Some folks are very passionate about the options.  I am more resolute than passionate, but I have my reasons for my choices.

For Pictures, Use Google Photos (Formerly Picasa) or Google Drive

You may immediately think, "Hey! What about that DropBox?  I hear lots of people use that."  Sure, you are welcome to use whatever you like.  Knock yourself out.

IN MY OPINION, the salient reasons for why I prefer to not use DropBox:
  1. DropBox only gives you 2 GB for free, which can be extended to 16 GB by a lot of tedious things, like getting other people to sign up (cf. each Google Account gives me 15 GB of free storage immediately, and YouTube and Google Photos uploads do not appear to count against this)
  2. Shared folders from other people eats up your storage limit
  3. If you upgrade, Google charges $2/month for 100 GB, whereas DropBox costs $10/month
  4. I don't care for the missing features in the free DropBox account
  5. DropBox is very particular about one person setting up more than one account (I had trouble setting a second account dedicated to work use because DropBox saw that I was on the same device or IP)
  6. DropBox is too focused on forcing people to sign up for their services
  7. Because Drive and Photos are tied to a Google account, you have the option to use various mechanisms for sharing
  8. I find it incredibly easy to share files, folders, etc. via Drive and Google gives me a lot of great choices for it
  9. I don't expect Google to disappear or go out of business any time soon
So, sure, if you want to pay for the service anyway, you might not care, but I would rather recommend a solution that is more approachable to the vast majority of people.

This Computerworld article discusses some other choices. [Note: it was published in 2012]

For Videos, Use Google Drive or YouTube

There are two distinct use cases for sharing here.
  1. I want to let others watch my videos - use YouTube
  2. I want to give others my video files - use Google Drive
I like YouTube for simply sharing the video so that others can watch it.  YouTube organizes videos in a meaningful way and has a rich set of features for editing, cleaning up, annotating, etc.

If you want to simply give people your video files, then I would use Google Drive as with the pictures. But what if you have a lot of video files to share?  Here are a few ideas:
  1. Use the free allotment and just hand off the videos a few at a time, deleting them from the Google Drive as they are picked up by people; you could even give them "edit" permissions on the drive so that they can delete them as they grab them and speed things up
  2. Buy more space (Google is only $2/month to upgrade to 100 GB)
  3. Because of the way Google works, you could create additional accounts for more space or have an account dedicated for video hand-offs
Some folks like Vimeo, but, like DropBox it is aimed at being a paid service and it has nowhere near the market penetration of YouTube.

If in doubt, thought, I would highly recommend YouTube:
  1. It's use is widespread and people are familiar with it
  2. If a person has a mobile device, it is very likely that they have an application to directly find and view YouTube videos
  3. The chances you will have to explain YouTube to your relatives (as opposed to Vimeo or a file sharing service) is very small, so minimal teaching and training is involved
  4. YouTube is *very* good at providing sharing options

What About My Own Site?

I have my own site.  I have developed and maintained web pages since the 1990s.  I have the ability to install applications to share pictures and videos on those sites with a single click.  So, why don't I do that?

Because of the burden of ownership and maintenance.  Those applications need to be updated.  They have their own quirks.  I have to personally manage spam bots, hackers, etc.  The application may cease to exist or be supported.

I did try twice before.  In one case, I handed off the administration to THREE other people, in the other, I had to kill it off because of the time it consumed (IIRC, spambots ultimately managed to break the application in a way that it could not be fixed nor upgraded).  That is not to say, it is a bad thing, but for this purpose, I highly recommend using the robust, heavily-tested, and well-understood tools of Google Drive, Photos, and YouTube.

Google has an army of people making Drive, Photos, and YouTube a great tool for sharing and I am happy to use them.  I have no interest in re-inventing these wheels.

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