Getty opens up (some of) its stock photo vault for free

From engadget:

Whether it’s @HistoryinPics or just an Imgur-hosted picture posted to Reddit, professional photos are being used everywhere on the internet — and usually without payment or credit to the original owner. Getty Images licenses out stock photos (including coverage of sports, news and fashion events) for use by the media (cough), businesses and artists, and now it’s hoping to get some control back, by letting anyone use them for free. Free that is, as long as they’re posted with Getty’s new embed feature which, like the ones we’ve gotten used to onFlickr, YouTube and other internet sites, produces the appropriate HTML to pop the picture in a blog or social media post.

At launch, it’s specifically designed to tie in with sites like WordPress and Tumblr, and on Twitter, links produce a card with the image and information. The pictures won’t be watermarked, but it also links back to and includes attribution for the photographer. It seems like a win-win for everyone, and an admission by Getty that simply trying to paywall access to high quality pics won’t keep them from being posted everywhere anyway. Meanwhile, everyone from casual tweeters to those starting great websites for the next ten years just getting their start can access high quality photos without worrying about scary legal letters or getting their account shut down.

According to CNET, Getty has opened up 35-million images for free use. When you randomly go through images and look for the embed button, though, there seems to be — at least for the moment — more misses than hits. Also, while I don’t mind that clicking on the image directs you to Getty’s site, I’m not crazy about the giant Getty tag under the image. But free is free.

Embed from Getty Images

(That’s was a result in a Getty stock image search for “unimpressed.”)

Make your iPhone read to you

I’m on my phone a lot. Lately, I’ve started growing increasingly annoyed at trying to read stuff on-the-go, which is something I do quite often. Trying to catch up on emails or the early news of the day during the morning commute is all fine and good when I’m on a bus, for example, but not so much when I’m making my way through rush-hour crowds. And if I’m heading to an assignment, it would be great if I could listen to past stories on the subject as I make my way there.

I tweeted about wanting an app that would read my stuff to me, and friend Devon Goodsell replied suggesting iSpeech. I downloaded it — it’s free — and checked it out.

Pros: The voice is pretty great. The default is a fluid-sounding female voice, almost human-like. The intonations are fairly accurate too, for a robot. I tested it with a profanity-laced email and it was pretty great to hear it read out it in this sweet voice. You can also select a voice with a British accent for free. For money, you can apparently make it read you stuff in Barack Obama’s voice. (Bush is also an option.)

Cons: You have to copy and paste the text into the app, which means you still have to fidget with your phone, but it’s a step. It also limits the amount of text it will read at once. (Not sure what the exact limit is.)

I then Googled, and found out iOS5 actually has an option that will do exactly what I wanted — right at the screen of whatever you’re reading, without having to open another app. To toggle it, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Speak Selection and turn it on. You’ll likely want to slow down the rate of speech a bit, as the default is pretty quick.

Pros: It only takes a couple taps to get it reading and you don’t have to open another app.

Cons: It’s in Siri’s robotic voice. (Total first world problem, I’m aware.) This option also doesn’t really work with Instapaper, which is really the exact type of thing it should work for. (For those who don’t know: Instapaper allows you to save webpages for later reading. On a smartphone, it essentially downloads a webpage, strips it of unnecessary formatting and saves a cleaned up (think print screen) version of it within the app for you to read later — even if you’re offline.) On other pages, you select Speak Selection by holding your finger on a block of text for a second, as if you were going to copy it. In Instapaper, it suddenly removes the “select all” option, and the drag-highlighting mechanism doesn’t work.

I’m going to play with these for a couple of days and see how practical they are. Can’t see anything being more simple than the Speak Selection option despite its flaws, though. In the mean time, does anyone have any other suggestions? Help, please. Don’t let me be this guy:

Google’s new privacy policy: an explainer

On March 1, Google will launch its new privacy policy. What will this mean to you? In a nut shell: While Google has always collected user data — evident in the “personalized” ads based on search queries, for example — it will now share that info across 60 of its web services. So, say you’ve been Googling Ryan Gosling all day…

Ryan Gosling, in pancake form

…recommended videos about Gosling might then pop up on your YouTube homepage. Before, data collected at each of these services was kept separate. Users cannot opt out of this new policy.

Google policy manager Betsy Masiello says this is merely to streamline matters and that Google won’t be collecting any more data than it did before. Critics are concerned about whether this violates privacy rights — what will Google do with the new, super-thorough user profiles? — and what it will mean for Android users, who access much of the smartphone’s functions by signing in through their Google accounts.

Others still argue Google is upping its aggregation of user info to better compete with Facebook for advertising dollars. From

Why does Google need to improve its social ad targeting? Because Facebook is already doing exactly this. As a result, Facebook is crushing all comers, including Google, in user engagement. This means users are spending more time on Facebook and seeing more ads, which allows Facebook to make more money.

Eight members of congress wrote a letter to Google CEO Larry Page asking for clarification on the changes. Among their questions:

Does Google offer users the option to permanently delete their personal information from its archives? If not, why not?

Does Google store or permanently delete user information once a user closes or deletes his or her Gmail account or Google+ account?

Does Google plan to offer distinct privacy protections for children and teens?

Again, Google users who have logged in to use its services cannot opt out of the new cross-service info gathering. But there are Google services that don’t require signing in to use (e.g. search and YouTube), and you can make it all a little less annoying by turning off personalized ads.

If you’re still nervous enough to consider abandoning Google for good, Gizmodo has compiled a list of Google service alternatives.