I'm Feeling Lucky – Good News for Camera Phones

Camera Phones and Grotty Pictures

Whilst being able to take photographs with my mobile phone is very convenient (a truly pocket-sized camera at last), my inability to hold such a flimsy little thing still, poor imager sensitivity and crappy optics don’t make for particularly good photographs.

Having said that, I downloaded my phone to my laptop today and fired up Google’s Picasa to rotate all the non-portrait images (most of them). After wincing at the awful colours of my recent shots, I tried the I’m Feeling Lucky control. Picture after picture – about 80% of those I tried – were miraculously corrected to very true colour. I was very impressed. The image accompanying this post is a self-portrait, taken with the phone and post-produced with Picasa.

I have also been saved a lot of time and energy; over the last three years, I have been mucking around with some (Perl) code for rotating, scaling and annotating digital images. Whilst Picasa doesn’t handle all the metadata that I would like it to, it’s good enough. At least I will be able to find images by keword now, without having to resort to renaming every single picture that I take.

In and Out the Windows

Sadly, Picasa was written as a Windows-only programme – I would have thought that with the brain-power available at Google, someone might have considered writing a multi-platform application, say in Java. However, us Linux users have not been left out, as Google has bundled Picasa with a Wine wrapper, allowing it to run fairly seamlessly on Linux, under X. There are a few odd quirks, especially in file management, where sensible Unix paths are seen represented as those awful, neolithic, Microsoft drive letters.

One thing that does not work is access to my phone. I mount it – as with other USB memory devices – under /mnt/usb. As soon as Picasa tries to browse this directory it simply dies, which is a bit of a nuisance, as it renders the import facility useless.

I Wish…

The announcement that I would really like to hear would be that Google were open-sourcing Picasa. Unlikely, though.

Oh, and if you are wondering why the photograph is in black and white, I prefer monochrome portraiture.