Trying out Riya: A Step-By-Step Experience…

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Riya went Alpha today and so did their first round of [alpha] invites, glad to say I was on the list. I’ve been waiting to try out Riya for a long while (have to admit the Google rumour only made it more exciting) and so as soon as I received the surprise today morning, I signed up, agreed to their ‘soalphaithurts’ agreement and off I went.

1) Uploading
First, you are asked to download the Riya Uploader (or as Flickr call it, Uploadr) which apparently is as of yet only for Windows (e.g. if you’re on a mac forget trying out Riya). I have to say, my experience with uploading my gig of photos was much much better with Riya than Flickr believe it or not. Simply loved it. It was as easy as logging in, selecting the ‘My Pictures’ folder Picasa saves stuff in, clicking on ‘Upload’ then pressing cancel so it minimizes itself in the taskbar. A few hours later, what do you know.

2) Defining faces x100
There’s the saying ‘no pain, no gain’ and this is exactly the case with such wondering facial recognition technology. At first, you have to go through the pain of telling Riya who this is and who that is, on the course encountering several bugs [of course, this is Alpha people] and reporting them, then finding that Riya just doesn’t get my name is not Sapna Yadav (who is indeed my mum) even after telling it a few times, but in the end, it’s all good.

3) Having fun with Riya
As I said before, once you’ve gone through the pain it’s all gain. Riya has some impressive technology and only the alpha testers like myself are witness to that. Firstly, on the homepage, there are five tabs:

  1. People – Shows pictures of each person I have told Riya to recognise and of course, upon clicking you can find all the pictures of them in Riya’s knowledge. Below, there is the old ‘different-sized-tags-based-on-popularity’ box which is quite visual (even though it’s only different sized text) and easy to navigate through.
  2. Albums – Have to say, Riya did a much better job on this than Flickr. The albums are visually appealing to the eye and also unlike Flickr, while uploading, Riya recognises that each folder in ‘My Pictures’ is another album and saves me the pain of creating so-called "sets". Upon clicking on an album, you are of course shown all the pictures in it.
  3. Text – This is one more thing Riya is known for. It recognises text in any of your pictures unless they’re half-covered by a person (like about 10 of mine) when you have to tell it what it says. Again, visually appealing and easy to use.
  4. Date – This is a pretty standard feature of all photo-managing tools, organising your album by date (years, Riya’s case) and I do believe Riya could’ve done a much better job on the visual side of things instead of having in text "2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002| 2001" etc. but hey, whatever works.
  5. Received – This is a social photo-sharing feature where your friends can send you pictures (instead of by e-mail) for you to look at, but unfortunately because I don’t have any friends that I know of currently testing Riya, I’m unable to comment on this.
  6. Tags and Location – These features only work, to my knowledge, if you’ve manually tagged pictures other than what Riya does for you already (e.g. camera name, model) and unfortunately I didn’t have the time to do this, but it’s still pretty cool. I would have to say Flickr does a slightly better job on this.

Despite of these things, there are some others you’ll either love Riya for or hate it. Firstly, whenever you’re browsing a set of images (e.g. by searching, or by browsing by album, date etc. but in your own account) you have the option to download all the images zipped into a zip file — extremely handy — and also sharing all of them if you’re not already. In addition to this, Riya also has an RSS feed for those, not available in the current alpha.

 Riya was a tremendous experience for me and I’d like to thank Tara Hunt for giving me and all the current medium-sized bloggers a chance to try it out. I’ll be using it very frequently, as I take pictures (have the ‘upload when folder is updated’ option checked) and also when it goes public, will make sure my family is singing ‘O Riya! O Riya!’.


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