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Google Releases Desktop Gadgets For Linux 172

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the more-time-wasters-than-you-can-shake-a-stick-at dept.
mstrom writes "Google announced it has ported its Google Desktop Gadgets platform to Linux, making it the first cross-platform [desktop] gadgets framework. In a sign that Google is fully embracing the open source model, it admits the product is not feature-complete and has opened up the code base hosted on Google Code 'to give everyone a chance to tinker with the code powering the gadgets.' According to Google: "Gadget support is not just a single feature, but rather an entire platform for miniature applications.'"
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Google Releases Desktop Gadgets For Linux

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  • Google gadgets? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Yetihehe (971185)
    How much search bars and adboxes do one need on a desktop?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:36AM (#23652171)
      42 I guess
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jsnipy (913480)
      Think bigger. Gadgets can be more than just the typical fare that you download. Imagine all those pointless reports with executive gauges ... they can now be gadgets!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Djatha (848102)

      Good question. On the other hand, I often enough see desktops littered with widgets, programs with extra toolbars, the start menu with all kinds of shitware, etc. So I guess, for a substantial part of the population yet another gadget/toolbar/thingie is just what one always wanted ...

      What is wrong with superkaramba/Plasma/etc already existing on teh Linux desktop? I mean, what extra value adds the allmighty Google, speak its name with reference, to the desktop widget landscape for a typical Linux user who

    • Re:Google gadgets? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by D Ninja (825055) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:44AM (#23652343)
      I don't know - however many you want?

      Seriously, whatever Google is actually making is not the point here. What is notable here is the fact that they are providing serious application development for the Linux platform. With so many "big name" companies somewhat ignoring the *nix platform, this is a good thing.

      With that said, I don't know if you were trolling, but have you tried out Google Gadgets (for Windows presumably)? There is some great stuff there. RSS feed readers, weather, traffic reports, etc. Yes, I agree, none of it is terribly important, and you can always head to a website to get that information, but it's always nice to have that information right at your fingertips. And, just because you don't have a use for something doesn't mean other people don't need it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Yetihehe (971185)
        It was aimed at "funny". I didn't try it because I don't typically use windows (only at work). I've tried some weather reports, but none have yet worked form me (Poland, small city) and it is impossible to find traffic information here (Poland, small city), not that it would be really useful (Poland, small city). Otherwise, I agree with you.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hatta (162192)
        But we already have tons of dock apps [dockapps.org] that work with just about any window manager. Why is Google reinventing the wheel here?
        • Re:Google gadgets? (Score:5, Informative)

          by D Ninja (825055) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @12:33PM (#23654487)
          That's because they want you to use their product - not one of the other dock apps that exist. That's just smart business strategy there. First, Google looks great because they are supporting Linux when so many big companies don't touch it with a ten foot pole. Second, they get the "common geek" using their tools/APIs/etc. And third, they get more mindshare [wikipedia.org] which is huge for any company.

          And, honestly, you could make this argument for any piece of open source software. Why do people make their own? Because they can. One of the best things about OSS.
        • by nguy (1207026)
          Dock apps aren't widgets, neither in what they do nor in how they are written.

          There are some widget frameworks for Linux, but they aren't all that stable and there aren't a lot of widgets available for them.

          Google's release is a good thing and fills a real need.
    • by paskie (539112)
      I guess none if it's really open-source?
    • Re:Google gadgets? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:51AM (#23652475)
      better question:

      How much spying on your data, surfing, searches, and miscellany does one need on your computer?

      Oh, I forgot. Do no evil.

      Mod me down, but it's true.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by ZerdZerd (1250080)
        You know it's open source, right? You can check if their spying on you by reading the code.
    • by Rob_Bryerton (606093) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @11:20AM (#23653079) Homepage
      If they correct grammar and spelling, the answer is "more than you're currently using."
  • It's about time... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRedSeven (1234758) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:30AM (#23652067) Homepage
    For all the Google talk about organizing information and their 'open platform' push with Android, it's about time they start taking Linux platforms seriously.

  • by Fackamato (913248)
    ... but is it open source? Yes! Screenshot: http://google-gadgets-for-linux.googlecode.com/svn/images/ggl-standalone.jpg [googlecode.com]
    • by ArcherB (796902)

      ... but is it open source? Yes! Screenshot: http://google-gadgets-for-linux.googlecode.com/svn/images/ggl-standalone.jpg [googlecode.com]
      There are many reasons for me to hate Google. Their commitment to Linux and Open Source makes me look past all of them!
      • Re:;o (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bsDaemon (87307) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @11:02AM (#23652711)

        ... but is it open source? Yes! Screenshot: http://google-gadgets-for-linux.googlecode.com/svn/images/ggl-standalone.jpg [googlecode.com]
        There are many reasons for me to hate Google. Their commitment to Linux and Open Source makes me look past all of them!
        Isn't that like a woman saying, "I know he beats me, but he bought me a nice car so I'll stay" ?

        It really ought to take a little more to impress you.
        • by ArcherB (796902)

          ... but is it open source? Yes! Screenshot: http://google-gadgets-for-linux.googlecode.com/svn/images/ggl-standalone.jpg [googlecode.com]

          There are many reasons for me to hate Google. Their commitment to Linux and Open Source makes me look past all of them!

          Isn't that like a woman saying, "I know he beats me, but he bought me a nice car so I'll stay" ?

          It really ought to take a little more to impress you.

          Actually, it's more like, "He is the political opposite of me, he pees on the toilet seat and treats our neighbors like shit, but he treats me well and buys me a nice car, so I'll stay."

          • by bsDaemon (87307)

            ... but is it open source? Yes! Screenshot: http://google-gadgets-for-linux.googlecode.com/svn/images/ggl-standalone.jpg [googlecode.com]

            There are many reasons for me to hate Google. Their commitment to Linux and Open Source makes me look past all of them!

            Isn't that like a woman saying, "I know he beats me, but he bought me a nice car so I'll stay" ?

            It really ought to take a little more to impress you.

            Actually, it's more like, "He is the political opposite of me, he pees on the toilet seat and treats our neighbors like shit, but he treats me well and buys me a nice car, so I'll stay."

            Yeah, but that pretty much describes every relationship, though. I don't know why people don't get urinals installed in their homes...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Niten (201835)

          Isn't that like a woman saying, "I know he beats me, but he bought me a nice car so I'll stay" ?

          No. Not even remotely.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by barnackle (905200)

          Isn't that like a woman saying, "I know he beats me, but he bought me a nice car so I'll stay" ?
          yeah, but apparently the nice car was worth the beating. just look at fear factor.
        • ... but is it open source? Yes! Screenshot: http://google-gadgets-for-linux.googlecode.com/svn/images/ggl-standalone.jpg [googlecode.com] There are many reasons for me to hate Google. Their commitment to Linux and Open Source makes me look past all of them!

          Isn't that like a woman saying, "I know he beats me, but he bought me a nice car so I'll stay" ?


          Sharon Phillips sang it best...

          I ain't goin nowhere, baby take off your clothes, I don't mind being slapped, I deserve the blows, You know I speak the truth, ask God, he
  • What about Opera? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:38AM (#23652217)
    If you count Opera's widgets, this isn't the first cross-platform widget/gadget system.
    • Re:What about Opera? (Score:5, Informative)

      by dsparil (844576) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @11:10AM (#23652887)
      Plus, it runs on the most platforms; Windows, OS X, Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, Symbian* and Windows Mobile*; and it's just vanilla HTML, JS and SVG zipped up.
      *Once Opera Mobile 9.5 ships.
      • It's not Free (as in speech) & Open Source.

        BTW, Plasma works on all platforms. I've also heard that since 4.1 it can display Mac OS X dashboard applets.

        BTW2, what exactly is holding people back from porting eg. gdesklets or superkaramba to the other platforms?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Count_Froggy (781541)
      Opera's widgets are a good thing, but they do not run under the OS, but within a web browser. The advantage of Google gadgets, Konfabulator, Karamba, or indvidual apps like Rainlendar is that they are available without needing to load a browser. As much as I like Karamba, I welcome another Open Source solution. There may be an opportunity to recognize that all gadgets ought to be runnable under a common framework. Anybody remember TSR's (early MSDOS/DRDOS/other variants days).
  • Konfabulator? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PainMeds (1301879) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:39AM (#23652265)
    making it the first cross-platform [desktop] gadgets framework

    Wasn't Konfabulator the first? It supported both Mac and Windows, and was the tool of choice until Apple decided to release the Dashboard.
  • Although KDE4.1(?) was planning to impliment the ability to run Apple Widgets (or whatever they're called).

    Of course, Apple didn't design them to work cross-platform, though.
  • Wouldn't KDE 4 be the first cross-platform desktop widget framework? Or don't they count it because it isn't completely done yet?
    • by Xtifr (1323)
      I think Tk has it beat by a long shot (over a decade).

      (Plus, Tk is something I'd willingly install on pretty much every platform I have, while KDE is something I don't want on any platform, no matter how much you pay me. But that's a separate issue.) :)
  • by MistrBlank (1183469) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:41AM (#23652297)
    Do people really use them? I don't use any of the widgets on my Mac OSX system. I sort of used the calculator, but do I really need one in the background all the time? On Vista I shut down the sidebar, what a huge waste of resources. And why do I need a clock gadget when there's one already in the system tray? This just seems like a gimmick to waste collective time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chyeld (713439)
      I don't use the Google versions, but I do have Confabulator/Yahoo! Widgets installed and do actually USE some of the widgets for more than eyecandy.

      Granted 90% of the widgets out there are useless, and the other 10% probably have alternatives to them that don't involve running in a widget engine. But the fact that there are other ways to skin the cat doesn't immediately invalidate the way you prefer.

      That said, when I'm expecting to do heavy duty work that will probably peg the resourse on my aging computer,
    • by qoncept (599709) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:58AM (#23652627) Homepage
      There are a whole bunch of things that make you think they'd be useful. "Oh man, that would be so cool if only I [insert something you don't do, and realize that even then it probably wouldn't be very useful]." I used it for a while, mostly for the weather and and to keep an eye on my network activity. Huge waste of space and now that I'm in Linux there are much better options.

      For the most part, you get blocks that staticly show one unimportant thing, or tickers. Tickers aren't convenient. You have to wait to see what you are interested in, or actively watch it. If you're going to actively watch it, you might as well visit whatever site the RSS feed is coming from.
      • by 3p1ph4ny (835701) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @11:21AM (#23653089) Homepage
        For what it's worth, I think you're right. However, I've been using conky (http://conky.sourceforge.net/) forever, and I think it's great. That's about as close to gadgets as I come, though.
      • by Otter (3800)
        Huge waste of space and now that I'm in Linux there are much better options.

        Those being what? The only Linux options I know of are things like KDE and GNOME toolbar applets, things like gkrellm and (my favorite) WindowMaker dockapps. Those aren't any different from "blocks" and "tickers" on other platforms.

        • by rar (110454)

          The only Linux options I know of are things like KDE and GNOME toolbar applets, things like gkrellm and (my favorite) WindowMaker dockapps.

          Gnome toolbar applets don't really work as "gadgets" or "desklets" in the most accepted sense, since while the toolbar can be set transparent, there is no way to configure it to stay below other windows. It is funny to see this discussion pop up just when a few days ago I posted a lengthy post [gnome.org] in gnomes bugzilla about re-opening a feature request that would make this use of the gnome toolbar possible. Sadly, it doesn't seem to get any attention.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Knuckles (8964)
          Well then you missed at least these:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SuperKaramba [wikipedia.org]
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GDesklets [wikipedia.org]
          • by Otter (3800)
            I'm familiar with both (not sure why you're linking to the Wikipedia pages instead of the projects themselves) and use SuperKaramba on a work account that doesn't have WindowMaker. But neither of them, nor conky, which someone else mentioned, strikes me as a fundamentally different way to display information on the screen. I'd say both fall into "things like gkrellm".
            • by Knuckles (8964)
              The wikipedia pages were faster to google, simple. What#s the problem with them, they have links to the projects anyway.

              I don't consider these things "things like gkrellm" at all, I'd rather say they are quite exactly in the class of things that Google now brings to the table, and as such I wonder what more Google has to offer.
      • I find that there are some things that are pretty useful... task lists that integrate with your calendar are nice... some of the mini media player controllers are nice as well... other things, not quite so much.. I like some of the sticky note widgets better than tomboy, but that's just me... ymmv.
    • I like the side bar in Vista. I keep the weather up, sometimes the notes and I installed sphere clock (which I use as a very loud alarm when I simply must not oversleep). The only gadget I wish they had was a simple tell me how hot my cpu is.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Sporkinum (655143)
        Nothing like having an alarm clock that draws several hundred watts of power.
        • by Reapman (740286)
          You got stats to back that up? My entire SYSTEM running doesn't use "several hundred watts" of power running, I'd be rather suprised if a little clock was doing even remotely that much.

          Then again I guess I am not the type to be so concerned with electricity that i also unplug my microwave when not using it, or run a computer so old I have to turn everything off for it to be responsive.

          Why is it someone that thinks just because they don't like eye candy, that nobody with a brain should either? I mean if yo
          • by Dog-Cow (21281)
            I think the GP meant that most people would by a $5 alarm clock that uses about a watt, instead of wasting an entire PC for the task.

            He was also trying to be funny.
    • by onion2k (203094)
      As an RSS reader, sure. Mostly it's just the obvious news feeds from the likes of the BBC and Engadget, but additionally I have a couple of other less usual ones - one is a box for the latest posts on a forum I moderate, and the other is a script that takes any interesting activity (code errors, spikes in CPU usage, etc) in the logs for the servers I maintain code on and pipes them to my sidebar (and soon a sideshow-enabled display :) ). Admittedly emails would work just as well (better perhaps, I have a te
    • by Mascot (120795) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @11:03AM (#23652727)
      Huge waste of resources? Waste, ok, but huge? The default sidebar thingiemajigs don't exactly drain a few CPU cores and gigs of ram.

      Anyhoo, yes, some people do really use them (Yahoo's in my case). While I could perfectly well live without it, I do find having the free space of all my partitions readily visible, along with CPU, harddrive and network usage and some other tidbits to be handy. When I played Eve Online for a bit I also found the Eve skill/training monitor rather nice.

      At work I find a world clock widget to be very useful when it comes to keep tracking of the local time at our various offices. Before we changed our presence system I also had a self-created widget that listed the activity and phone numbers of people key to whatever I was working on at the moment.

      Sure, all this information is available elsewhere. It's just not as convenient as the always present always updated desktop widgets. It's not for everybody, but it does have its uses.
    • My Windows desktop has Clock, Running Programs, Tooltray Icons ... and nothing else

      No Desktop Icons
      No 'Start' Button
      Nothing!

      My Linux desktop is the same!

      Why would I want gadgets that either take up valuable screen space or hide beneath windows?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Do people really use them? I don't use any of the widgets on my Mac OSX system.

      I used to be in the same boat as you. Right up until 10.5, widgets seemed to use up too many resources to make them worthwhile. Since 10.5, however, they are a lot better about being idle in the background, but still coming up quickly enough when desired. I regularly use the white and yellow pages widgets, a widget to track time I put in on various projects, a weather report widget, and a simple timer.

      I think widgets are a reflection of improvements in multitasking and resource allocation. Back in the d

      • by friedmud (512466)
        Having just gained 3 leopard running computers in the past couple of months... I gotta say that I've used Dashboard a lot more than I thought.

        At work I use a resource monitor, calculator, weather, sticky notes, iCal events (which shows my upcoming google calendar events since I sync it with iCal) and calendar all day long. I also use a subset of these on my work laptop and home laptop... but I really use them more at work.

        When I first got all these Macs I wondered how much I would really use Dashboard... I
    • by mortonda (5175)

      And why do I need a clock gadget when there's one already in the system tray?
      The default clock in windows is next to useless, when it comes to looking at the calendar. I hate the double click needed to open it, and the mechanism for changing months is horrible. I like the Gnome version which is much more click friendly.

    • by psydeshow (154300)
      On my Dashboard:

          Weather, including an animated display of the last 6 radar images for my region.

          A widget that uses the "rule of three" to find proportional values (very handy for finding dimensions that fit 4:3).

          An egg timer.

          A clock with the time in New Zealand where my in-laws live.

      That's it. That's all I use Dashboard for, but I really can't live without them.
    • by bkr1_2k (237627)
      I use the clock widget to keep time in several different time zones because either I or someone I speak to regularly is traveling often. US, Europe, Asia, etc. One clock for every person/city. It's easy to know when they might be available. Sometimes I use it for weather too.

      I did disable dashboard for a while, but left it enabled when I upgraded to Panther. Dashboard is a memory pig, but it's occasionally useful.
    • by Eil (82413)
      My problem with desktop widgets is that I would never see them, even if they were enabled. I run a dual-head display with 4 virtual desktops and I tend to make use of all available screen space with the applications I have open. One screen has a browser with a few xterms while the other typically has email, IRC, IM, and maybe a window for viewing documentation.

      Desktop eyecandy may be pretty and mildly functional but not so helpful if you actually use your computer for something other than recreation.
  • From TFA:
    [Google] admits the product is not feature-complete and has opened up the code base ...to give everyone a chance to tinker with the code

    Since when was "open source" just an excuse for releasing a half-finished product? Google is a multi-million-dollar company. Surely they can afford to pay some programmers and testers to produce a finished product before they release it?
    • by ciaohound (118419) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @10:57AM (#23652601)
      Are there any apps that Google has released in the traditional sense? Seems like they stay beta forever.
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @11:14AM (#23652971)

      Since when was "open source" just an excuse for releasing a half-finished product? Google is a multi-million-dollar company. Surely they can afford to pay some programmers and testers to produce a finished product before they release it?

      Google's development methods are quite different than other companies. Many of these beta services and products they release are not something the company is using to make money, but are the individual projects of the engineers. Each engineer gets 20% of their time where they must work on their own thing. A lot of those "things" eventually get tossed out for the public to play with, usually as betas and often as OSS projects. Sure, Google could pay engineers to work on this full time, but it isn't clear that is really going to make them money. Linux on the desktop improvements aren't exactly a goldmine. Rather, I think it is nice they let the engineer donate this code to Linux and let people help him integrate it into Linux.

      • As long as stuff is in beta you're not responsible in a product liability sense. If you're computer goes up in smoke because you tinkered with unreleased software - you should have read the fine print on "beta software".
        • by Bandman (86149)
          That doesn't matter so much. How many click through agreements have you seen where the programmers and companies are responsible for any damages.

          I don't know if they'd stick in court, but I suspect that Google's reasoning for releasing this before it's 100% is that they want the community to be able to play with it
      • by niko9 (315647)

        Since when was "open source" just an excuse for releasing a half-finished product? Google is a multi-million-dollar company. Surely they can afford to pay some programmers and testers to produce a finished product before they release it?

        Google's development methods are quite different than other companies. Many of these beta services and products they release are not something the company is using to make money, but are the individual projects of the engineers. Each engineer gets 20% of their time where they must work on their own thing. A lot of those "things" eventually get tossed out for the public to play with, usually as betas and often as OSS projects. Sure, Google could pay engineers to work on this full time, but it isn't clear that is really going to make them money. Linux on the desktop improvements aren't exactly a goldmine. Rather, I think it is nice they let the engineer donate this code to Linux and let people help him integrate it into Linux.

        Correct me if I'm wrong but..

        Gmail, which is still in beta, is someone's personal pet project that Google does NOT make money on?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Bandman (86149)
          No, it started as a pet project. Like Google Maps, which also produces income.
    • by s4m7 (519684)

      Since when was "open source" just an excuse for releasing a half-finished product?
      Since about the same time "free" gave you the right to bitch about the quality of it.
      • The food came to the table.

        One of the guests shouted out: "I can't eat that!".

        "Why?" enquired a troubled hostess.

        "This fish is still frozen in the middle."

        That was a true tale. The meal was free to "the guest" but he rightly pointed out that it wasn't fit to eat. If I give you something and it's sucky I'd rather you told me.

        Summary: You should complain no matter what price you pay, or if something is free-gratis. That means that your benefactor can make a correction if there is some error. Of course that mi
    • Since when was "open source" just an excuse for releasing a half-finished product?
      Since this [google.com], perhaps?

      But that project didn't work out so well, so you're probably right -- it's a bad idea :)

    • by Bandman (86149)
      See, if Google made you pay for this, I could see your argument.

      Heck, if Google even implied that this was a useful tool, I might agree.

      Suppose in another universe, Google waited until it was 100% to release it. Would you rather have it in 6 months, when that happens, or would you rather play with it now?

      And since they released it now, it doesn't matter what your answer was to the previous question. If you want to wait until it's done, then wait. If you want to use it now, then use it now.

      In other words, st
    • by Xtifr (1323)

      Since when was "open source" just an excuse for releasing a half-finished product?

      "Just"? I think you need to RTFCatB [catb.org]. Open source (or Free Software or whatever) has never been "just" an excuse for releasing a half-finished product, but "release early, release often" is one of the open source mantras. Why should they try to make it "feature-complete" (whatever that might happen to mean) before they go out and try to find out what features people actually want?

      Surely they can afford to pay some programmers and testers to produce a finished product before they release it?

      Hey, if it's not good enough for you in its present state, I'm sure they'll be happy to refund your money in full. In the me

  • To find out more I visited this link from the OP's original link http://desktop.google.com/linux/ [google.com] This gives the inspiring:

    Not Found
    Error 404
  • by GreyDuck (192463) <greyduck.gmail@com> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @11:00AM (#23652663) Homepage
    the first cross-platform [desktop] gadgets framework

    So, this Konfabulator thing I've been running for years isn't cross-platform after all? Thanks for clearing that up, Slashdot!
  • How long until a .deb file is made. good news all around.
  • Does coming from Google automatically make something newsworthy, no matter how insignificant?
  • Hi all, I am not sure if they are not breaking rules of GPL. Of course, I don't think this is intentional - but if their gadgets use Qt - they should be released under the terms of GPL and not Apache Software License 2.0. Quick browsing their code repository shows that even files that require Qt headers have Apache license header - not a GPL one. Does anyone know if this stuff is legally possible? I'm not accusing Google of anything, I'm really happy that they released it and I'm building this software
  • by Nicopa (87617) <nico.lichtmaier@ ... .com minus punct> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @02:35PM (#23656519)
    This new release rewrites the plugin used to provide applet support to browsers. One of the new features is the ability of dragging an applet to the desktop, and the applet would stat there. It's really simple and it's very cool. This is coupled with the newly added support for abitrarily shaped applets.

    Sun is trying to revitalize applets. There's no reason a Java applet should be slower than flash, and the language is much more powerful.
  • My experience with google software is that very little, if any, is a port to Linux. Most of it is simply a wine implementation. So, in effect, it is a windows program running on linux.

    If google wants to really commit to linux they'll make real linux programs and not some wine implementation.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Benley (102665)
      afaik, only Picasa for linux is the wine crap. google desktop and earth are native ports. Earth already used QT on windows so the port was probably easier than Picasa.

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