Google Answers & an awesome jpeg utility

Products by on April 2, 2005 at 1:06 pm

I recently tried Google Answers to find a photo utility. For those of you that don’t know, Google Answers is a service where you pay from $2.50 to $200 to have a question answered. You set an amount to pay for the answer.

On the main page, Google claims:

More than 500 carefully screened Researchers are ready to answer your question for as little as $2.50 — usually within 24 hours. Your satisfaction is completely guaranteed.

I bid $15 for someone that could find me a utility that would make bulk changes to the date/time that was recorded with my digital photos. I have multiple digital cameras and noticed that the date/time on my newest camera had never been set correctly. This created tons of viewing problems in Picasa and I wanted to fix it. Based on Google’s guidelines, this seemed to be a reasonable price for the question.

When Google announced the program so many people responded that Google has closed the program to new Researchers. They claim that the researchers were carefully screened and are largely comprised of professors, etc. Google takes a 25% cut of the fees paid to the Researcher, and also charges a $.50 listing fee for each question (whether it gets answered or not).

Over a month later I had the answer I was looking for.

A few observations:

  • Google needs more researchers: I posted the question on 17 Feb, and didn’t get a response until 6 days later. Unfortunately, the Researcher didn’t really read my question and we spent the next 3 weeks going back and forth (about 1 response every 2 weeks). Either Google needs more Researchers or I should have bid more. I think it is the former. I’ve worked with eLance a fair amount, and I expect that I could have had a utility written for me for $50 and in less time than it took for me to get the actual answer. This puts a hard cap for reasonable spend.
  • I had to spend as much time reviewing the responses and clarifying the question that I could have likely found the utility on my own in an equivalent amount of time. This could also be attributed to the fact that the first researcher to try to answer my question just wasn’t that good.
  • Google Answers should be in Beta. I have run into a number of huge UI issues. The biggest problem is that I can’t figure out how to pay the Researcher who gave me the right answer. I have followed nearly every link in my account and on the question and I can’t find out how to pay… I can’t even find a way to contact the Researcher to pay him via PayPal.

I’m unlikely to use Google Answers again unless I have a really hard question to answer, and I’ve exhausted other means…

Despite the hassle, I have to admit that the utility that the researcher found is awesome. It isn’t for the technophobes (command line only - no windows), but it is incredibly powerful. I was able to adjust the date/time on thousands of digital photos in minutes, while not altering those photos taken with my older cameras. Definitely a tool worth becoming familiar with:

Update: The researcher suggested that I thank the author. I ended up contacting him and bought him a copy of Malcom Gladwell’s “Blink”.


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