Introducing FlickrFan

Update: Over a month ago, I visited Dave Winer’s Berkeley, Calif. home. We went for a walk that knocked the wind out of me, but during course of our conversation, Dave mentioned that he was working on something new. After nearly 45 minutes of rigorous walking, we returned to his house and he showed me an early version of his new application, FlickrFan.

One caveat, the first beta release is Mac only. That’s because I’m doing all my work on the Mac, and this is a one-man show. Later we will work it out for Windows too, and with a bit more work and a bit more luck, for Linux.

It is a simple application — download and install it on your Mac, and using RSS it pulls down images from Flickr and displays them on your screen. It can be a Mac Mini attached to a giant LCD screen or simply your iMac. Doesn’t matter! What matters is that images become almost like a constantly changing channel. Dave showed me his personal channel where photographs from professional news photographers were mixed with baby pictures, photos of vacations long forgotten and friends we have forgotten to call for a long time.

This is a highly personal use of RSS, just like Dave envisioned it long time ago. Our readers are pointing out that there are similar offerings for Windows platform, Slickr in particular. I wasn’t aware of that application, and glad to hear about it. It is understandable that some might be underwhelmed, but to me it is not the application, but the concept that is more exciting.

As broadband becomes faster, who is to say that we can’t randomly pull videos (that some day will be better quality than today) that interest us from YouTube and automatically display them on our screens. What FlickrFan shows that with ample broadband, open platform (PC or a Mac or a Linux device) and RSS (or some such subscription mechanism), we can create real simple convergence.

New Flickr UI with Geotagging is Very Impressive

Flickr has long been a darling of photo lovers, primarily for its minimalist (and intuitive) user interface. However, with over a billion photos, Stewart Butterfield, cofounder of the Yahoo-owned photo service, it is becoming hard to find stuff, and it is time for a new user experience revolving around the concept of discovery.

Search, while it works well on Flickr, needs to be replaced by discovery, he said earlier today while showing off the new UI for service — one that marries serendipity with a map-like user interface and lets the eyes discover the “most interesting.” Yahoo (YHOO) is particularly bullish on geotagging, and the new Flickr interface is a good testimonial.

To me it is a very subtle attempt by Flickr to evolve from an enthusiast service to a visually delightful destination. I captured the demo and Stewart’s thoughts on my newly acquired Sanyo Xacti. Pardon the grainy and shaky images.


The Apple Store Shopping Experience

Over the past few weeks I’ve had to make multiple trips to my local Apple store to pick up this, that, and the other. I’m the typical guy in that I when I go shopping I don’t actually “shop.” I go in, get what I need, and get out as fast as possible.

At most stores this is easy to do…except for Apple stores.

I’ve yet to actually need any help from an employee in the Apple stores. I know exactly what I want and I just want to purchase it and get back to my office to use it. But it would seem Apple doesn’t care to actually have a set checkout spot. No place to to get in line and buy stuff. Nothing. You just have to aimlessly wander around the store and hope to A) get approached by a free employee or B) randomly pick an employee that’s helping someone and follow them around until they’re done.

I honestly don’t understand how this entire setup is a good idea. Sure I get that they want you to interact with the employees so they can hopefully sell you more stuff…but what about the people like me who just need to go in and buy something? I spent almost 15 minutes the other day in fairly uncrowded Apple store just waiting for an employee to free up so I guy by an adapter.

Yes, I’m ranting a bit here. But I really am curious what benefit Apple sees in setting up the store like this. Are all Apple stores like this? Or did I just luck out with the one closest to me?

Devicescape: simple, free WiFi network configuration synching

DevicescapeOne of the minor annoyances of using multiple devices in multiple locations is constantly configuring the WiFi settings. Hop into a new WiFi area and you might have SSID and network key attributes to enter. Bring a new device to a previously used network and you’re entering the same information again, wasting time. It can become a real chore and something that’s frustrating as I drop in on new coffee shops and bookstores during my travels. That’s why I was thrilled to read about Devicescape over at MoDaCo.

Read More about Devicescape: simple, free WiFi network configuration synching

Flickr Interestingness: 7-18-2007

Here are a couple of photos with Apple related content from Flickr. I have plans of doing this type of post regularly…we’ll see how that turns out.

Wake Up

This is a killer angle that shows a near perfect reflection of his computer screen in his coffee.
Wake Up

Home Office

This pic almost looks like an ad for Coke…
Home Office

Ci-Ci & PB

Don’t sit there and say this isn’t cute…you know it is.
Cat on Mac

Broadband Goes Boom

Broadband boom, world wide continues. The latest data on sales of broadband modems, routers and gateways shows that slowly but surely we are all living an always-on connected life. Infonetics Research says that the revenue for broadband modems, routers, and gateways totaled $4.6 billion in 2004, up 15% from 2003, and units totaled 73 million, up 74%. The increase in unit shipmets is far higher than the dollar figures, which shows two things – broadband is booming, and cost of equipment has nosedived making it very difficult for anyone but the Asians to make money in this high commoditized business. Projections reflect this trend in a more stark light. Unit shipments are projected to soar 191% to almost 200 million and revenue will grow 28% to $5.6 billion between 2004 and 2008. Data shows that world wide, DSL is the preferred medium of broadband access. D-Link leads the overall broadband modem, router, and gateway revenue leaderboard in 4Q04, just ahead of Thomson; Motorola claims third place, ahead of Cisco-Linksys and Siemens, which are tied for fourth spot. Notably, one time DSL modem leader Alcatel is not in the list, reflecting the fact, that Alcatel has wisely decided to move on from this money losing business.

End of the Private Networks

trans_atlantic_graph.gifThe private networks might be on their last legs. Latest data from TeleGeography’s Global Internet Geography research service, shows that the Internet backbones now account for over 85% of the world’s cross-border capacity used in fiber-optic networks. The balance of used capacity is dedicated to private corporate networks and international telephone traffic. Among other highlights of the recent report, the rate of Internet backbone growth varies dramatically by region. Mature Internet markets in the U.S. and Europe have seen relatively slow growth, just 30 to 40 percent over the last year. Asian backbones have upgraded much more rapidly—over 70 percent last year—and show no signs of slowing down. Technology Futurist offers a brilliant explanation for the trend. As a sobering though, our friends at Telegeography remind us that despite the super growth, a huge portion of international fiber-optic bandwidth still goes unused. On trans-Atlantic routes, for example, only about a quarter of currently lit capacity is actively deployed to carry voice, Internet, and corporate traffic. The remainder lies idle, either unsold or unused by service providers. This mismatch of supply and demand could persist for several more years due to the still untapped “upgradeable” capacity of current submarine networks.

Rise of the Wireless Metro Nets

Welcome To Broadband City – Business Week jumps on the Metro Nets bandwagon and pens in my opinion a full bodied piece.

New technologies — which extend the range of wireless broadband from Wi-Fi’s cafe scale to metro-size — can cost a fraction of what competing cable and phone systems must pay to dig up streets and upgrade lines. By sending signals over the airwaves from inexpensive antennas mounted on light poles, small-town mayors and local entrepreneurs around the country are already providing low-cost broadband. Now large cities are getting into the act. Corpus Christi and Houston are moving forward on Wi-Fi networks, as is Philadelphia, which recently announced plans to build its own $10 million Wi-Fi network. By next year the city hopes to offer free or cheap broadband access to its 1.5 million residents. “We want everyone to have an equal opportunity to compete in this digital age,” says Dianah Neff, the city’s chief information officer. Not surprisingly, cable and telcos aren’t happy about their new rivals. The muni wireless network is an unexpected twist in what had been a two-way race to sign up broadband subscribers. By creating “a third pipeline,” muni networks should lower prices and speed the spread of broadband, says Michael Calabrese, vice-president at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank.