22. August 2016

Seeing Picasa Web Albums after all


Hier beschreibe ich, wie man immer noch an seine Picasa-Web-Alben kommt. Den früheren Zugang (Link) einfach stillzulegen, ist eine Sauerei von Google. August 2016.

I use Picasa Web Albums to share pictures since a digital eternity, thousands of them in hundreds of albums.  On Friday, August 5, 2016, Google turned the old links off. My at least 421 albums with at least 29.671 pictures are not any more accessible via their usual links in the form of
https://picasaweb.google.com/Fritz.Joern/HalleinSommer14#6033991545864629682

   • Fritz.Joern used to be my username, now defunct (dead).
   • HalleinSommer14 used to be the descripive album name.
   • 6033991545864629682 was the unique picture number.
All but the picture number were readable and under my control.
   Trying to reach these addresses now results in an error 404, page not found. Google does not have the decency to tell viewers what’s wrong, or to rerout the address to where Google “clouds” album and pictures now.
Luckily the pictures are still there, but embedded into what Google calls Google photos, or in Germany Google Fotos

If you want to see Picasa pictures online, and or make them available for your family and friends :

1. The owner must make them “public”, no matter if they originally were public or not. This can be done with one click to all albums. This includes albums with an “authkey”.
   A good way to find out about your albums (and your user-id) is the little program by Sven Blüge 
   (Don’t hesitate to trust it, just hit “sign in”, more here.)  You must be logged into Google.

Sven will show you a searchable table of your albums with protection status and the possibility to change that, the album name like Erstkommunionfeier, a link, your Google number, Google’s album number and the protection if relevant. 
   The link there looks like https://picasaweb.google.com/106769394524073309583/Wahnbachtalsperrenklassenausflug.

1.1 First of all find your Google ID number (if you haven’t run Sven Büge’s little program above). As I have a (secondary) Googlemail address, and I use Blogger here, etc. that was no problem for me. They are all one mishmash now under Google. 
   So I just logged into one of my many Google services to be in all. (On another platform, Microsoft’s, this new “grab it all” attitude is even worse: You can login to Skype with your usual Skype name and Skype password or your Microsoft ID with the valid Google password. Watch out: With Microsoft once repaced passwords cannot be reused.) How to even temporarily log out of Google to test “public” accessabilities I never found out. (PS Try Private Mode in your browser, via menu or by Ctrl+P)
   Logged into Google I went to https://photos.google.com/albums. This URL automatically brings you to your albums. Rejoyce: Your albums are still there to see … somewhere. You can even click to see each picture (but you can’t relieably search for them via the captions). To find your google account “albums” is a dead end … 
   So go to
https://get.google.com/albumarchive instead. As to my experience you now get to see an overview of your albums in an URL looking like https://get.google.com/albumarchive/107484383993159578524.  

   Magic by Google! The 21 digit number, in my case 
107484383993159578524
is your one and only Google account number. What a wonderful progress: Not a name with all sorts of capital letters, umlauts and of different length identifies you for pictures, but a Google chosen number with 21 digits allowing for a sextillion (nomen est omen!) users, 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Sexy? 

1.2 When the albums were really set to public you’ve still got to find their individual addresses, album by album. The original, legible album name won’t do you any good you can use the legible album name in the picasaweb link, for example
https://picasaweb.google.com/107484383993159578524/Bruck
   This does not work with newer album names, example:
https://picasaweb.google.com/107484383993159578524/Boggle
   where you should be routed (but aren’t) to  
https://get.google.com/albumarchive/107484383993159578524/album/AF1QipOvoWJE6DDyBU46doRt2fCnEUREN6ipRaUgF1br
    Do not confuse these addresses (including owner number and album number) with the pure direct album address without owner number. Those “direct” albums only the owner can see, e.g.
   An adressable album looks like 
https://get.google.com/albumarchive/107484383993159578524/album/AF1QipPju-EOyu_Q34Tgfu9PMTRpS4zwrEd_CYt-OTIe  
   (Sometimes ?source=pwa is added, pwa meaning Picasa Web Album, but that’s of no effect.) 
   New albums may look like https://goo.gl/photos/hHQ4yf2TYdDxnUvbA, see below.

Without the 12 digit owner (Google-) number albums cannot be shared! Here’s what to do.
1. If you have Picasa link addresses, replace your old Picasa user name (like Fritz.Joern) with your Google photo number (like 107484383993159578524, 12 digits):


(Watch out: First my Wordpad mysteriously changed the album names to (wrong) album numbers in the link, as seen here in the background.)
2. Additionally I suggest to open those new links in new tabs via an added target="_blank", if you have not already done so. Otherwise the viewer cannot come back to the original page, as Google used a redirect in between and so blocked the way back. If you ask the browser in the URL line to “< go one page back” you land on the redirect page, and that’s executed right away, again.
   Here I replaced all a href="https://picasaweb with  
a target="_blank" href="https://picasaweb to keep the original page available.

In Blogger you must edit your blogs’ HTML source. 
Find all instances of your old Picasa name (here Fritz.Joern),
A cutout of the original HTML source code of blog »Trockner reparieren« with links to pictures of album »Trockner«
replace your name with your number. I copied my 12-digit Picasa number into the clipboard (Zwischenablage), searched Fritz.Joern, marked it and replaced it via paste (Ctrl-V). 
   If you don’t want to add target="_blank" into each link, ask your readers to klick on picture links with shift key pressed, e.g. 

Links zu Fotos empfehle ich mit gedrückter Umstelltaste zu nutzen. Nachdem im August 2016 Google alle bisherigen Picasa-Links abgeschaltet hat, musste ich neue einbauen. Google bedient sie mit einem Redirect, sodass es kein Zurück zur aufrufenden Seite mehr gibt. Siehe Seeing Picasa Web Albums after all (engl.). fj
 
Incidentally: Why are public pictures encrypted (https)? I guess to increase data volume on the net.

Conclusion: For my pictures select from (all my public) albums via 
https://get.google.com/albumarchive/107484383993159578524  
(+ https://get.google.com/albumarchive/102798859056923577861 + https://get.google.com/albumarchive/106769394524073309583)   Unfortunately the albums appear sorted to me, when I’m logged in to Google, but you will see them in random order. Google photos is not a cloud service, it’s a careless shoebox storage …

Specific albums are addressed like this:
https://get.google.com/albumarchive/107484383993159578524/album/AF1QipOXHKp4_lyuI1vBKiSiinXfaoAfxxNociUa9K-- 
(or = https://goo.gl/photos/o65ZG8b9MFyg9TwX9)

Specific pictures look like this:
https://get.google.com/albumarchive/107484383993159578524/album/AF1QipOXHKp4_lyuI1vBKiSiinXfaoAfxxNociUa9K--/AF1QipMxyWAyH243VmfvGBGkbpvo5VBfRzpTZ4tvz6Ag 
(or = https://goo.gl/photos/WBNCD45ycR9qxVsg8
   
Picture and album alphanumeric names are unique, but still you can’t address them without the owner number.

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To test without being logged into Google yourself, don’t try to logout from Google. I’ve found no way to do that. Switch your browser into “private” or “incognito” mode, as explained here (thank you janvb). With Firefox you type Ctrl-Shift-P and you get an additional browser page.
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 A shorter link to share an album can be generated. Look at the album and click on the < sign. 

There you can generate a link looking like  
https://goo.gl/photos/8ZHAAgv3VBkiptW37, with which others can see your album. Note the special address goo.gl (Greenland). In some cases you might have to choose “manage in Goggle photos” (»in Google Fotos verwalten«) first.

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Locally installed Picasa can still be used. You can even upload selected pictures to and old or new album within Google Photos, but you cannot manipulate them with Picasa in the cloud. You must find them in Google Photos and operate on them there.
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Blogger pictures were stored in a Picasa web album as well. Here Google managed to change their addresses within the blog. 

http://blogabissl.blogspot.com/2016/08/seeing-picasa-web-albums-after-all.html#newalbum :
New albums. Don’t think: “What you see others can get”. Your album might be “public”, but it might not be so. Giving your album address to others my lead them into Google’s dark empire.
   To test set your browser to “private browsing” (instructions with Firefox) and you will notice what happens if you try access without being logged in(to Google).
   You must get back to your album (you, logged in), to the menu, and select the “three dot menu” for further options (Weitere Optionen). There you can select Sharing Options (Optionen zum Teilen):
Now you see that “Anybody who has the link can see the pictures” is not turned on. The album is not public, far from it! So turn this switch on (to the right)
 You now will be granted a public link for your album, in this case https://goo.gl/photos/hHQ4yf2TYdDxnUvbA (i.e. somewhere in Greenland). This and only this address you distribute.
   You can now allow to add further pictures and or comments. But don’t think Google would not control these: You must log in with your Google account to do so.

http://blogabissl.blogspot.com/2016/08/seeing-picasa-web-albums-after-all.html#two
Two different views

Depending on the way you address an album (URL) – you get two different views. This is so for everybody, not just for you as owner.
   1. If you address the album with the “long address” like https://get.google.com/albumarchive/107484383993159578524/album/AF1QipN9s8RIZ1QQfgP59dH7e4D0x3-gwnf_j3Mdkr6U
 you get a view like this:
Album view with “long address”
This address includes both the long code of the originator (in this case 107484383993159578524) and the code of the specific album (AF1QipN9s8RIZ1QQfgP59dH7e4D0x3-gwnf_j3Mdkr6U).   
   Clicking top left will bring – 1a – a normal viewer to an unsorted overview of your public albums. You, the owner – 1b – will wind up with a chronological overwiew of all your albums, newest first, private and or public. 
   This way to address albums may therefore be preferable.
   2. If you address the album with the “short” goo.gl address “in Greenland” like https://goo.gl/photos/hHQ4yf2TYdDxnUvbA you’ll see this:
Album with “short” goo.gl view (“Greenland view”)
In this case the short address will reroute you to Google photos (same as Fotos) with an endless “share” URL like https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipM-5IncbxkPeO5W8FTLvo1hfj_G1FvnKj9Iotoo_ov0I_QUKnwRwvLJhQSTOms6mQ?key=ckhzYUhHeDByNERpRmxGSlFpaks5VmRSQ1d4N3h3, including an access key. 
   Clicking such a view top left Google sends you to a promotion page for Google photos, not to my other public albums, i.e. nowhere.

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Some current flaws of Google photos as of end of August 2016:
   The messy picture storage of Google photos is like grandmas shoe box, only that grandma had fewer pictures.
1. To the normal viever the album overview of a given author, again given by her or his 21 digit number, e.g. https://get.google.com/albumarchive/107484383993159578524is presented in random order only.
2. Pracically all links do a redirect to another address. A return to the calling page by back arrow is blocked this way.
3. You cannot zoom into a picture, at least not on a PC. (Try https://get.google.com/albumarchive/107484383993159578524/album/AF1QipOMbTETZZt9JrdpqgtkCDl8SmYRe5QrhsEHgkco/AF1QipPT3ltS-6Ir-ic1oTP3y2Pq0GGVdkViPhYpIiMb ) Zooming had only worked well in Picasa at the start.
   Then they changed to flash and messed up enlarging and video sequencing to the next picture. So at the end they scratched the “lens”, and I store videos on youtube now, instead of embedding them in Picasa albums, where they’d sequentially belog.
4. When you open an an album sometimes accompanying text appears first, for less than a second. Still investigation on that.
5. No slideshow. That’s ok for smartphones. (The smarter the phones get, the sloppier Google can be.)
6. Captions only on demand, and then at the right. With the next picture you have to ask fot its caption anew.
7. Long, unreadable and unrememberable links, especially in comparison with “old” links like https://picasaweb.google.com/Fritz.Joern/HalleinSommer14.

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Error 404 (no page) after adding pictures to an online album
   Today I added two pictures to a recently made album. I got the usual acknowledgement by the upload manager of local Picasa:
 
In such a case I click “view online” (Online anschauen) to get to the album (with a page address like https://get.google.com/albumarchive/107484383993159578524/album/AF1QipPJo5tj0nlBNOIBEq2JJed3zzd6KLFvbnWhqybg?source=pwa&authKey=CKSS9t6Pjo27twE, modified here for privacy). 
   The album appears. 
   When I select “manage in Google Photos” (»In Google Fotos verwalten«) in order to rearrange the pictures, I get to see the album all right – for a few seconds, before Google decides to present an error 404:
Google Photo’s magic bug of the disappearing album. Error 404 appears after a few seconds.


Remedy: Always remember the origial Google shortcut to the album (I even write it into the album header name), and address the album ony thus. You’ll have no problems.

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