Is our love of Instagram misplaced?

I was really in love with Instagram. I’ve put tons of photos into the system, and love the feedback I get there, love the quality of photos I see flowing through the system there, love the user interface, and more. So do many other people. It was the hit of 2010, breaking a million users after just being out a few weeks.

But is our love misplaced?

I’ve found my love waning after learning that competitor PicPlz is cross platform. That alone should be important, because more of your friends can see (and share with you) photos.

But after talking to PicPlz’ CEO/founder Dalton Caldwell I learned something far more important: it doesn’t destroy image quality the way Instagram does.

Let me explain what I mean.

If I use Instagram it reduces the image size to fit into its format. That’s throwing pixels away.
But worse, if I apply a filter in Instagram, say, to make an image black and white, it permanently throws away the color info and only uploads to its servers a black and white version.

PicPlz, on the other hand, uploads the full quality photo (which takes slightly longer) but then applies any filters you use on the server. Even then it stores both your original image as well as the new, black and white version (or whatever filter you chose). That’s a HUGE difference in philosophy and one that is making me question my love of Instagram.

Further, PicPlz has an API (read and write) that lets you do filters and other stuff server side that Instagram is going to struggle to do.

How about you? Are you still in love with Instagram after hearing all this?

Here, watch Dalton demo his app and tell me how PicPlz works.

Exclusive first look: Zoho Books, taking on small business accounting

This week Zoho announced another service in its online suite of collaboration tools for small businesses, this one for keeping the finances, called “Zoho Books.” Here’s the news from around the web:

Techcrunch: Zoho Preparing Online Accounting Service Zoho Books
GigaOm: Integrated Online Accounting and Bookkeeping With Zoho Books
ZDNet: Zoho launches Books to round out its suite, targets QuickBooks

Here I sit down with Zoho’s CEO, Sridhar Vembu, and Evangelist Raju Vegesna, to learn more and get a demo of how it works.

First look at's new features; rolling out to five million users!

This week announced a ton of new stuff. You can read the press on Techmeme, or here:

Techcrunch: Upgrades Cloud Storage Platform With New UI, Collaborative Features And More
ZDNet: Box shakes up site with complete makeover, new tools
GigaOm: New Version of File Sharing and Collaboration Service Targets Simplicity
PCWorld: Overhauls Content Management App’s User Interface
VentureBeat: looks to keep it simple with new version of cloud storage software
Mashable: Unveils New, Simplified Interface

To get more detail, though, I sat down with Box’s CEO, Aaron Levie, and Senior Web Developer Florian Jourda, who gave me details behind the new features (like how they used open source technology from Facebook) and showed me around the new features.

Learning more about the hotel marketing system Techcrunch loved

If you read Techcrunch they love pretty much any startup, but they dedicated more words and images to this one than usual: Buuteeq. Sarah Lacy, there, wrote that it’s a cool company with an awful name. What does it do? Helps independent hoteliers market themselves online. So, I sat down with Forest Key, founder, to learn more about it. It is indeed impressive and I learn a lot about how hotels market themselves.

Cargo Collective: A stunning web publisher for eye-popping content

Note: this article was copied from a post on Building43.

There’s a whole lot of content on the internet, and much of it doesn’t look all that good. But if you visit the Cargo Collective, like we did, you’ll see just how amazing the web can look when designers empower fellow creatives.

“Cargo is a web publishing system meant for creative professionals,” explains Folkert Gorter, co-founder of Cargo, and an interaction designer originally from Holland. “You can say it’s a CMS, as well as a system that provides web site templates that are starting points for designers to create their own web site. It’s mainly used by people who have a lot of visual content to publish, like designers, photographers, architects, stuff like that, though it’s transitioning more and more toward more textual as well. If you think about it, WordPress is mostly text-oriented publishing, and say, something like Tumblr is a lot more visual, like pictures. Cargo is sort of in between those, where we are truly multimedia: we put a lot of emphasis on the combination of text and image.”

Cargo isn’t a CMS for everyone—but those with eye-popping content and some knowledge of CSS can create sites that look better than almost everything else on the web. Amid their stylish design and sophisticated programming, Gorter and co-founder Josh Pangell have discovered some tricks to making HTML look fantastic. “‘Float left’, the CSS rule, is like our biggest thing,” says Gorter. “We float everything left, and it becomes liquid instantly,” adapting to whatever size screen it’s on.

How does Cargo set itself apart from a web dominated by big guns like WordPress? “L-O-V-E,” says Gorter. “We make no compromises. We have design skill, and we have programming skill, and we don’t f-ck around. We really design it in the best way possible and we don’t compromise.”

More info:
Cargo Collective web site:
Cargo Collective on Twitter:
Space Collective web site:

Behind one of the best designed iPad apps: History of Jazz

One of my favorite new iPad apps is the “History of Jazz” app. It’s a bit expensive, at $10, and not everyone will care about the app, but it is one of the examples of where I hope the book industry goes. It’s one of the more popular apps, and has a very high rating on the iTunes store right now.

So, I went and met the team, 955 Dreams, who built it, and had a conversation about what it took to build it. I love this company and their process behind developing apps. Great conversation and you’ll get a good demo of the app during the conversation, too.