Archive for August, 2005

Open Source Flickr?

Here’s a question for the Lazyweb – is there an open-source replacement/equivalent for Flickr? Preferably, it’s written in Perl, Python, or PHP, but I won’t rule out Ruby/Rails.

I’m looking for a way to host my own Flickr-like web-based photo sharing app, with similar features (especially notes on specific areas of a photo), which I then want to integrate with other web-based services, such as a wiki and a blog. For this application, hosting the photos on Flickr itsself is not an option; I need a self-contained solution.

My own search has turned up surprisingly little. I found one project on sourceforge, Photospace, which appears to be fairly feature complete, but it’s written in Java/Servlets. Unfortunately, I can’t use servlets in the environment I’m targeting. Other LAMP technologies are okay, but MS based solutions (IIS/ASP/ISAPI) are out. Also, no Flash. Javascript/AJAX are fine.

I also found a couple other projects on SF which aim to do something like this, but haven’t released any files, and appear to have no recent activity. If you know of any working, open source code that fits the bill, please leave me a comment below. Markdown formatting works in comments.

Oh, you wanted that Toasted?

This morning at work (as on many Fridays) Art over in SysAdmin brought in goodies – Einstein Bros. bagels and cream cheese. Now, I absolutely loves me some poppy seed bagels that have been toasted a little crunchy on the outside (toasted sesame seed is a nice second place choice). We have a decent, wide mouth toaster in the pantry, but it’s a bit slow.

So I grab a poppy bagel, slice, drop in the toaster, depress the lever, and head back to my desk. My office is like 10 steps from the pantry, and that toaster is slow. I figure I’ll spend the 2 or 3 minutes it’ll need looking up some info someone asked me for while I was grabbing the bagel.

A couple minutes go by, and I return. My bagel hasn’t popped up yet, so I peek down inside. It doesn’t look toasty, even a little. There’s no heat coming out of the toaster. I look down at the little toastyness-adjustment dial, and it’s set all the way to the left. On most toasters, this is minimum toastyness. But on our WonderToaster, all the way to the left is beyond minimum… it’s actually labeled “Off”.

This device is a TOASTER. You push the lever down when you want something toasted! The basic design hasn’t changed in like a hundred years. In what possible scenario did some white-lab-coat frocked Poindexter (or his pointy-haired boss) imagine I would place my bread-or-breadlike-product into the toaster, depress the big lever, thus lowering my bread-or-breadlike-product into the bowels of the machine, and yet NOT want it to get toasted?

This is a perfect example of over-engineering. Listen up people- a job is finished when you solve the problem. Once I can choose a level of toastyness and initiate toasting, your job is done. “Off” is not a level of toastyness. Its an un-feature. It makes your product less useful. Stop doing that.

Here I Come to Save the Day…

Mighty Mouse is on the way. The latest toy from Apple is (unbelievably) called the Mighty Mouse. It’s the first multi-button mouse offered by Apple, and as always, it’s innovative. It doesn’t look like a multi-button mouse, the left and right buttons are touch-sensitive regions on the top of the mouse. Instead of a scroll wheel, it has a finger-tip sized trackball that allows scrolling in two dimensions. Instead of clickable side buttons, it has “force sensitive” regions where side buttons should be.

When I first saw this, I was ready to hop in the car and head to the local Apple Store to pick one up. As I’ve noted before, the single button mouse heretofore offered by Apple just doesn’t cut it with me; I need at least 4 buttons including scroll wheel. On further inspection, however, my enthusiasm was dampened somewhat.

For one thing, the mouse is only available (for now, anyway) with a tail. I’ve been searching for a good Bluetooth mouse for use with my iMac since I bought it. I’m a bit surprised there’s no bluetooth option; perhaps battery life is an issue given the touch sensitive technology at play. Also, it appears that certain key features- namely, reprogramming the button actions- are only available when using Tiger. I have been putting off that upgrade while I wait for it to stabilize a bit. Plus, it doesn’t really offer anything I’m dying to get my hands on. I find this deficiency deplorable, since my Microsoft Intellimouse lets me reprogram my buttons just fine on OS X 10.3.

Next time I’m in the Apple store, I will definately try one out. The bluetooth issue is minor; I can alwas pick up a wired one now, and use it as a hand-me down for another machine (yes, it works with windows too) when/if a Bluetooth model appears. But to get that all-critical ability to make the side button map to my browsers back button will require Tiger, turning this $50 toy into a $179 investment. You can do better, Apple.