SAN FRANCISCO (04/06/2000) - Here are two ideas that don't fit together: "busy professional" and "errands." The only gifts you give are the books you can order (and have wrapped) at Amazon.com. And you even buy groceries online while you wolf down your lunch.
But what about photos? After all, you still haven't sent copies of your favorite wedding shots to your parents and the baby is already a year old. Who has time to run to the photo shop for reprints?
Yahoo Inc. has a nifty new solution to this problem: Yahoo Photos. Yes, it's another free online photo album. But this one has a handy twist.
Yahoo has teamed up with Shutterfly, which will mail you reprints of your photos from the images in your album. Anyone who views your site can also order copies of the pictures they like. What a relief! The next time my mom nags me to send a recent photo of the baby, I can just direct her to my online photo album and let her do the job herself.
Setting up the album couldn't be easier. First you register. Then the fun begins--you get to add photos. Each time I wanted to add an image, I simply located it on my hard drive and gave it a name. Yahoo Photos also offered a space for me to add a brief description to each photo as well as a tool to resize images.
Since I'm familiar with the rules of Netiquette, I know that images should be on the small side. That way, visitors with slower modems (generally the very parents you're setting these albums up for) will be able to view them with ease. And Yahoo Photo limits users to 15MB of space, so resizing images lets you post more.
But there's a catch: If anyone orders hard copies of your photos, the quality could be affected if you change the size of the print. To test that out, I changed the size of some and left others as is.
Once the album is up, you can notify your friends and family. Since all albums are private unless you change the settings, you have to specify the photos you want people to see. This is handy, since you may want different folks to see that picture of you on your vacation in your rented convertible than the ones of the baby with his face covered in cake.
Put Your Order In
Finally, the coup de grace: Ordering photos. You simply check off the thumbnails of the photos you'd like to order and press the Order Prints button.
The service recommends a certain size photo for each image, based on the amount of digital information you uploaded with each photo. Best of all, reprints were reasonably priced: $0.49 for a 4 by 6, $0.99 for a 5 by 7, and $2.99 for an 8 by 10. If you're ordering for the first time, you get your first 15 prints free, along with free shipping (unless you chose Federal Express delivery).
According to Shutterfly your images will be printed within 24 hours and then mailed as soon as possible. When I got mine, I wasn't surprised to see that the images I'd resized weren't quite as clear as the images that I hadn't tinkered with. And, unfortunately, even those weren't as sharp as my original photos.
Still, unless you're looking to enter your images in a photography contest, they're certainly good enough. And for busy professionals, Yahoo Photo is an easy way to send those images out for others to see.