Monday, March 06, 2006 Source Code: 20060306tbl

A better way to share photos online
By Phil Baker, Daily Transcript Technology Correspondent
Monday, March 6, 2006

I've always enjoyed sharing photographs with my family and friends. And with the digital images it has become even easier -- no longer do you need to be in the same room, or even the same country.
But what's the best way to share online? In the past I've e-mailed photos after reducing the image resolution to a manageable size and splitting up the images among several emails to get past the file size limitations of some e-mail services. But that has some drawbacks. It's time consuming, many still don't like getting large files, and there's no way to converse about the photos as we would do if we sat around home sharing them together.
I've tried photo sharing sites, such as those from Snapfish and Kodak EasyShare Gallery, but they're primarily designed to sell prints and merchandise, and those whom I invite to view the images are sometimes bombarded with ads to sign up and get free prints.
So I was interested in trying DropShots (, a San Diego company that's created a free service that provides more than a place to just view images and videos, but also a place for families to interact with each other at the same time.
DropShots lets you post your images to your own private Web page on its server, and then lets your family and friends view them, add written comments and participate in discussions. Images are displayed along with comments and written exchanges on the right of the page.
To use it, first download its free software (available for both PC and Mac). Then all you need to do is drag your images and videos to a window on your desktop (the "dropbox"). DropShots automatically resizes and uploads them to your Web page. It's that simple.
I tried it out by adding both still and video images taken of my grandson with a Canon SD550 pocket camera. Seconds later when I clicked on my Web page, the images were there. I then invited my son, daughter and wife to view my page by giving them the address. They were able to see all of the images, play the videos and add their comments. As the images accumulate they're easily located by scrolling through them or by date using the calendar interface.
What about privacy? While you create your own Web page on DropShots' servers, none of the pages are accessible by search engines, according to the company. That's good. But there's another potential issue. Since there's no password, making it easy for your friends to access your site, strangers could access it as well by using a web address. So, my advice is when you select your name, pick one that cannot be easily guessed.
According to the company, it's become the No. 1 video sharing service on the Internet, growing at 35 percent per month and hosting 150,000 video clips and 2 million photos.
Cost is free for up to 500 photos and for 10 two-minute videos. For $4.95 per month you can upload an unlimited number of photos and videos, and get the option of adding a password.
DropShots is fun to use and a great way to share images and videos with your friends and family, wherever in the world they may be.

Baker has developed and marketed consumer and computer products for Polaroid, Apple, Seiko and others. He is the holder of 30 patents and was named San Diego's Ernst & Young Consumer Products Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000. Send comments to Comments may be published as Letters to the Editor.