Google+ Automated picture story timelines

Google+ picture story timelines are a combination of several Google features that automate editing and place photos in context with time and location. The animated, multimedia picture stories just occur without any user interaction.

For about a year, I have been taking advantage of free cloud storage for my smartphone photos as I take them via the G+ app, while watching G+ create automated creations from the backed up photos.

Weekend in New York   Google

Weekend in New York, A STORY BY Paul Kuehnel appeared in my G+ notifications Monday after a three day weekend in New York City. I haven’t edited it so that you can see how Google edited it.

To make automatic story/video timelines happen, several free Google functions need to be in place. Google+ auto backup has to be turned on as well as location services on your handset. You have to opt into timeline stories when prompted in the G+ app.

Android handsets will more likely have G+ (play link) installed by default, but it appears to work the same way in iOS after installing the app (although I haven’t used my ipod to shoot photos). G+ will also combine pictures from multiple devices if they are logged in with the same Gmail account.

Activate G+ Auto Backup in the Settings of the G+ app on your smartphone. There are several settings to keep in mind.

In options in Auto Backup: Limit photo backup size to 2048 px backups (free option). You can backup photos from your smartphone at full size, but on my 10 MP Moto X that means a 4320 x 2432 huge image. Anything over the 2048 option will count against my total free Drive/Gmail storage of 15 gig.

Next, limit when the photos backup. If you have unlimited data or shooting in a high risk situation you may want to switch back to uploading in real-time over your wireless data plan. Otherwise, you can choose to backup handset photos ONLY when on Wifi, adding only when plugged in (Android) if you are in daily battery conservation mode.

You can choose not to back up videos. Backing up videos (huge files!) will deduct from your total Google storage, like large still images. I allow videos to backup and then clear out in a month or so. Deleting photos/videos from the cloud archive gallery on your smartphone will hold them in a deleted folder that you can retrieve, unlike deleting from the smartphone gallery (that displays what is in the physical memory of the handset). Continue reading “Google+ Automated picture story timelines” »

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Review of the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST


I pulled up in my well used 2011 Ford Fiesta (early review from 2011), visiting two BMW owners polishing and repairing in the driveway, one is a mechanic at a BMW dealer. A conversation sparked.

The BMW mechanic had put a friend’s 2014 Ford Fiesta ST through the paces. He said heIMG_20140530_124417590 was impressed and started rattling off good impressions of the torque vectoring front-wheel drive and how it interprets 197 horsepower and 202 lbs.-ft. of torque into pulling a 2720 lb. vehicle straight ahead and through the turns.

I was a performance car owner once, a Volkswagen GTI. And I have owned quite a few inline 4 cylinder sport bikes.

Any vehicle with a high power to low weight ratio is fun. A small car that takes that power and skillfully translates it through the wheels is a whole new level of fun. The Ford Fiesta ST is the fun of my sport bike with the benefit of  seven airbags.

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Historically speaking, the ST weighs less than my 1986 GTI and has twice the horsepower. And weight to power ratio is what makes 200 horsepower quite incredibly fun and nimble with only 2720 lbs. The average pickup truck has to push around double the weight.

The engine is a 1.6L 16-valve Ti-VCT Turbocharged Direct Injection EcoBoost® 4 cylinder which does it’s best at ramming air and squirting fuel directly into cylinders and making tons of usable power. It even sounds like something crazy good is going on under the hood when you lay into it. Maximum horsepower is obtained by using 93 octane fuel.

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The six speed manual (no automatic and there shouldn’t be) tops out the RPMs at a nice low 2400 while going 60 mph so this isn’t a buzzy ride for the long commute.

There is a slight turbo lag as the engine spools up from the standstill (or maybe you just think there is because what comes next is so much fun), but most of the 202 lbs of torque blasts out to the wheels in a nice meaty band staring about 1500 RPM making the Fiesta ST great for passing without downshifting, or blasting past something slow by kicking down a gear or two.

This is one of the first small cars with a 4 cylinder engine I have driven that running the air conditioning really didn’t have any effect.

I bought a 2011 Fiesta SES in July of 2010 from Beshore & Koller in Manchester, Pa., and I am often in there visiting, so they asked me last week if I wanted to take a new ST out for a few hours and compare. My Fiesta at 62,000, has held up well. It’s the first new car dealer I have returned to for service because I actually wanted to return.

The ST version of my car is a blast to drive. The six speed (with reverse up to the left) is slick and the clutch feels firm like it is going to handle 200 lbs of torque for many miles.

Torque vectoring takes all the power and keeps you straight, or powering through a curve. Forget anything you experienced historically with front-wheel drive cars and crazy torque steer with engines that had half the torque.

IMG_20140530_125720026You can disable the electronic stability control with a 3 mode mechanical button on the dash if you want to partially or fully disable for more spirited driving (or dealing with getting out of a snowy hole). Reverts to full on when car is restarted.

Check out this video about how 3-mode ESC works. The torque vectoring continues to work in any mode.

IMG_20140530_125803877_HDRHill start assist, working with the Anti-Lock Braking System, engages automatically. It holds the car stationary for two seconds after the brake is released, giving you time to apply the throttle.

Electric Power-Assisted Steering (EPAS) continuously learns how the car is tracking and adapts to steering conditions and gradually compensates for changes that can cause the vehicle to pull left or right.

image (3)The optional Recaro seats have really tall side bolsters that hold an average sized person snugly in place for the twisties.

There is climate control entirely separate from the touch screen MyFord Touch infotainment system.  The 2014 Fiesta ST also has an enhanced version of the Sync voice-recognition software making language commands more natural.

I could feel the potential fun in the car, but since it was on a good will loan I will borrow a quote from Fiesta ST test drive

Think about it this way: You won’t find yourself in a controlled four-wheel drift in any other subcompact, sporting intentions or not. Not in a Mini Cooper S. Not in a Fiat 500 Abarth. And certainly not in Chevy’s Sonic RS. It just won’t happen. The ability to rotate off-throttle, remain composed and point its drive wheels in the desired direction is a defining component of Ford’s ST product line. It’s what the Fiesta ST does best. And it’s wildly entertaining.


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Updated: Odd stuff I hear on the police scanner – 911 calls

The sometimes sad, often odd and mostly amusing bits and pieces of life in York County, Pennsylvania tweeted while listening to York County Department of Emergency Services, 911 Communications from April 2010 to present while covering news for the York Daily Record/Sunday News.

The 732 tweets almost never made the paper or a web update, but are still a micro slice of life.

Originally posted to twitter @paulkuehnel

June 2
#911call: caller advises a neighbor swept mulch on to property and wants to see an officer
May 28
#911call: For a neighbor who comes out of his house in his underwear, not occurring at the moment, but an ongoing problem.
May 26
#911call: Caller advises subject ate a bag of beef jerky, left it sit, said he would come back and pay for it and never did
May 25
#911call: retail theft of a grill in Hanover, a red Chevy truck with Maryland plates just tarped it – Memorial Day weekend
#911call: For a snake hanging in the rafters of the kitchen and it looks like it has a rattle
#911call: Last 15 min – Money stolen from coin operated vacuum and 2 women fist fighting (Sunday in York County)
May 7
#911call: 911: I have tired calling Verizon about the pole numerous times, but keep getting disconnected #ironic
#911call: Caller advises MetEd pole shocked his tractor trailer. Police: I am assuming the truck struck pole and not the other way around.
April 22
#911call: Caller advises that the person fixing her washing machine didn’t do it right
April 21
#911call: Caller advises that she wants the police to come and take the drinking glasses back that her neighbor borrowed
April 20
#911call: Caller advises that they are having an Easter egg hunt at the park and want the dead deer removed.
April 14
#911call: Caller arrived home, found neighbor’s phone ringing in house, confronted neighbor and neighbor said didn’t know how it got there
#911call: Caller advises that they bought a new refrig, when they went to get old, left new on curb and it was taken,
#911call: Caller advises that his daughter is trying to beat him up.
April 13
#911call: Caller advises subject is wearing an ankle bracelet, seems to be on drugs, and is pushing a stroller that keeps tipping over
#911call: Caller advises there is a woman in her 20′s sitting outside of store begging with a sign “Mother of 2 needs help”
March 31
#911call: The caller advises that the subject had her hair done, didn’t pay, left and they know who it is.
#911call: Caller advises that “his neighbor is a weirdo” Did not elaborate.
March 23
#911call: Police to 911 “sorry to bother you again my CAD is down again” 911: “As long as you need me I have a job” Police: thanks
#911call: Caller advises son says he is running away and living in the woods because he doesn’t want to clean room.
March 19
#911call: Police: This a situation where people without communication skills lack the ability to solve problems on their own.
March 10
#911call: For ice balls being thrown with a battery in it. Ongoing problem.
March 3
#911call: Caller advises that she believes her bf took her wiper blades and replaced them with his old wiper blades
Feb 26
#911call: For a subject masturbating in a vehicle at Dick’s
Continue reading “Updated: Odd stuff I hear on the police scanner – 911 calls” »

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Review of the HTC One (M8) on Verizon Wireless


The HTC One of 2014 (M8) is an evolution of a solid phone many praised as the best Android handset of 2013. I reviewed the first HTC One 10/2013

The case on this metal and glass beauty is well fitted and finished.

However, unlike some of it’s rubbery rivals, I found the polished aluminum case slippery and… woops!

My hands are construction tools on my non-paid journalism days, so maybe soft and sweaty hands will offer more traction. With glass that is within a couple millimeters of the sides, this is a candidate for a protective case.

A case for the 2013 HTC One won’t fit this phone. It is a tad taller and about the same width.

The bold, front facing speakers are back with their sweet, stereo sound. The best speakers in any smartphone I have tested. Front facing sound means it isn’t muffled by sitting on a blanket. It’s hard to go back to any other phone for Netflix; a crisp, in your face audio experience on the M8

2 cameras

Three cameras in one smartphone

The M8 has one rear facing camera and two front facing that all work together in different ways. Continue reading “Review of the HTC One (M8) on Verizon Wireless” »

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Measuring distance, space using Google Maps for live storytelling

measure4I suddenly got the idea of re-coating a garage roof while at Yorktowne Roofing & Siding Inc., but I hadn’t taken any measurements for square footage of coverage so I used this free handy Android app called Maps Measure.

Maps Measure is a free measuring tool using Google Maps API that measures distance and square footage.

It also runs well in the most recent versions of Android in that it will display the full screen floating transparently beneath all the app and system buttons to give you maximum working space. If you are familiar with Google Maps, Maps Measure is a simple, added value layer.

Pinch to zoom or use the +/- keys to zoom and just push the map around where you want it. Like with Google Maps you can zoom right down into your house and switch between satellite and maps view.

The trash can doubles as a back history button. Tap it to remove your previous plots.

For journalists, it’s a handy measure of distance and square footage while working on a live story.

Answer questions like:

  • How far from the building did that accident happen?
  • How large is that quarry?
  • How many miles is it around that pond?
  • What is the mileage between two Interstate exits?
  • How far is it across the Susquehanna River from Where I am standing.


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Succcess: Glyde to find the cheapest iOS for Tout maintenance to satisfy an Android user


As an Android user, trying to use a mobile video platform that doesn’t support Android very well, I wanted to find the cheapest iOS solution possible to fill in some of the maintenance necessities of using Tout, namely selecting a thumbnail for a video.

I have never owned an Apple product in my life and didn’t want to put alot of money down for one app, but also didn’t want to get stuck with a piece of junk.

The minimum operating system Tout can run is iOS 5 and the 4th gen iPod (stuck at 6) that can’t be upgraded to iOS 7 was the perfect candidate.  Now the iPod doesn’t have a camera, but I didn’t want to use a camera because I primarily use Tout (see videos here) with a Moto X.

I figured people would want to dump their 4th gen iPods and it was old enough not to be anywhere near the new shiny… so not worth much. A slightly damaged one that still worked would be a bonus!

I found an “acceptable” 4th gen iPod for $61+$6 shipping on Glyde. As it turns out, what is “acceptable” to most people is in pretty darn good shape by my standards. No dents, no cracks, just some surface scuffing on the slippery, chrome back that was probably scratched in the first 10 minutes. Battery still good. Even came with a new charger.

Glyde gave the sender the shipping container and I had the option to refuse the device within 48 hours if it wasn’t acceptable, thus not releasing payment to the sender, taking the mystery out of the purchase.

Whole process took 1 week, with shipping in one day from Florida via USPS

All it needs is a chunk of rubber around it so it doesn’t slip out of my hands the first day I use it and get smashed.

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Easy way to compress, assemble video clips, Tout Android

While waiting for Tout to push an update for their Android app that allows trimming and splicing, here is a robust way to quickly trim and assemble video clips on your Android device with an option to do much more.

  • I prefer to shoot video directly with my Android handset, it’s quicker and more stable than opening an app
  • Keep shooting your clip and trim out the meat of it later, not limited by the total allowed length and missing a moment. Shoot one after another rapidly.
  • Not worry about keeping the Tout app open between shooting clips and loosing earlier clips if app closes
  • Screenshot_2014-02-23-11-42-23Not worry about crashes, loss when you need to multitask between shooting clips in an open Tout project
  • Clips previously shot at an event are available by default to compile later with new clips giving your new video edit more options
  • Save time and space by keeping all the shooting/editing/processing/uploading in the handset

I am using a Moto X. It’s a quick shooter. Twist your wrist, start rolling/saving video, swipe up to zoom, built in steady cam.

The Moto X is pretty close to stock Android 4.4, the gallery of your device may vary. My video clips collect at the top of my gallery in the order shot or processed by default.


I like to trim my clips using the built-in trim tool, at left, (a link off any video) before importing the clip into the video editor. That speeds the import of each clip into the video editor.


The trimmed clips are saved above the originals in the gallery.

AndroVid Video Editor in Google Play is a robust video editing program for your Android phone and tablet that is simple to handle. I bought AndroVid Pro through an in app purchase.

For Tout, all we need to do is join clips and render the usually large video files into a smaller file for upload into Tout.

If your phone doesn’t have a built trim function, you can also trim in AndroVid, as well as add text, filters, add a sound track over video and stills and make a slide show (video) from stills.

Screenshot_2014-02-24-16-11-52I import my trimmed clips into AndroidVid’s merge function. Here I can change the order or delete.

I save the combined clips into a new video. It appears at the top of my gallery.

Continue reading “Easy way to compress, assemble video clips, Tout Android” »

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Huawei’s E5786 MiFi 300Mbps 4G plus a battery booster

Announced at Mobile World Congress, Huawei’s E5786 Mifi offers 4G LTE download speeds of up to 300 Mbs. Up until now 150 Mbs was the maximum. Of course, this is all dependent on what is available at your cell tower by the carrier.

The unit, that says it will last for 10 hours, also doubles as a battery booster. More speed means more battery needed to transmit the data between the cell tower and your device, but Huawei adds the ability to use the unit’s large battery as a charging source for other devices.

Faster video streaming and a battery backup is a double win for journalists.

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More about the Elio Motors engine

  • Uses a timing chain (not a belt common in small overhead cam engines)
  • 5w 20 engine oil
  • sequential port fuel injection
  • common off the shelf air filter “keeping in concert with the overall strategy of using existing parts where we can”
  • From the picture I see one serpentine belt running coolant pump, A/C compressor and alternator
  • From the picture, I see a coil for each cylinder

Elio: A new truly green car following a new U.S. demographic

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Pushbullet ties notifications, files, info between devices, desktop browser

I have two smartphones (personal and work), both a Moto X (review), on two different mobile networks and a Nexus 7 tablet. It works well for me to mirror all the devices with all the same apps.

I leave the mobile data shut off on the personal phone and only pay for what I use with This gives me the redundancy of two handsets, two batteries and two different networks (Verizon and Sprint) on a mirrored device so my work flow (and personal flow) remain the same while minimizing cost.

push 5

Pushbullet is my new favorite free journalism tool that ties together all my devices, alerts, and information with my browser.

Pushbullet is an Android app working with extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

Once tied together you can mirror all the notifications from your phone (or multiple phones, tablet) as pop-up messages in your browser.

You can customize Pushbullet to mirror only notifications from services that you want to show from specific devices.

In my configuration, I have two phones and a tablet with the same apps, all getting the same notifications with one device live all the time on the Verizon network. I only want to see one notification for each type of my mirrored apps all running on different devices.

You can also customize the length that the pop-up notifications stay on screen of your desktop browser. It’s easy to sift though the notifications and customize your stream exactly to suit your device configuration though the desktop notification pop-ups or in the Android app.


Now you know what your phone(s) are doing (notifications and calls, weather apps anything with a notification) while at your Chrome browser without looking at any of the devices.

Today I was in a restaurant working on my laptop processing photos and left my personal phone in the car. The phone in the car received a call and a notification popped up in my Chrome desktop browser on my laptop.

This is a time saver while working in a browser because you don’t have to waste time looking at your devices. I even turn my sound/vibration off when glued to a desktop screen. It’s less distracting.


The second part of Pushbullet is an instant file and information transfer system between your mobile devices and your desktop.
Continue reading “Pushbullet ties notifications, files, info between devices, desktop browser” »

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