August 28, 2006

Flickr gets (geo) tagged; why not everything?

Flute practice
Originally uploaded by Frank Steele.
TechCrunch | Flickr To Launch Geo Tagging Today

I don't have a GPS receiver yet, but lately, I'm fascinated by some of the possibilities they present.

Flickr is adding an official Geotag interface today, joining some of their competitors. (It's already frozen up Camino on my machine, when I tried to tag some existing photos).

The Flickr implementation, using Yahoo! Maps (of course) is pretty slick, making seamless use of Ajax, and determining how precisely to tag your photos by how far you're zoomed in when you set their location. I've tagged most of my "out of town" photos, and it was straightforward to set up, and to browse other pictures from nearby. It may get a little clunky when there are 5,000 pictures of or from Alcatraz, but for now it's working well.

Click on the picture above, and you'll see it was shot in “Cleveland, Ohio” -- if you then click on the “map” link, it overlays a hybrid satellite/map view focused on the specific location of the photo.

This seems like a component of the perfect portable blogging machine, one of my ongoing quests. The Nokia E61 and E70 have my attention, since both offer full keyboards. The E70's camera is great for a phone, but not a major factor for me, since I don't think I would be happy using even a good cameraphone for images that matter to me. My ideal would be something like the UMPC tablets, but running OS X, and with EVDO or another always-on networking technology.

For now, the smallest blogging tool I've found useful is my 12" PowerBook -- it's the smallest thing that lets me be reading something on the web, click a bookmarklet, and be ready to type a post with the link pre-filled.

Add in GPS, and you could automatically note the location where you took batches of photos, geotag your blog posts, note stores, parks or other attractions you want to be able to find easily later, keep track of restaurants you like or hate, and a million other things.

I know you can do these things in Google Earth, but that presupposes always-on internet access, and so far as I know, few (no?) standalone applications are supporting integration with Google Earth or similar apps. What I'm thinking would be great would be a system-level geotagging interface: One menu selection tags the foremost document with your current location, accessible through a geotag update to Spotlight.

There's so much going on in the mapping space (is that a pun?) -- what's out there for the Mac that's letting me treat it as more than another separate application?

August 28, 2006 in Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 04, 2005

Flickr zeitgeist

Tip of the cap to Janet at tech ronin, who was the first blogger I saw with the Flickr zeitgeist web app on her front page.

Here, it's set to only my photos, which I hope will encourage me to keep posting new photos. There have been a couple of times it appeared to slow down page loading, so let me know if you see loading problems.

I've added it to TdFBlog, as well.

May 4, 2005 in Seen browsing, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 27, 2004

Death to aggregators, Vol. 2

Gareth Simpson quotes an old post of mine, where I wished that aggregators could be more closely integrated into browsers, since most of the time, the aggregator serves as the browser's burly bouncer, figuring out who gets in and who's locked out.

I wrote that in November 2002, and I've come a long way since then, and both the browsers and aggregators have too, with aggregators growing browser features, and browsers becoming RSS-savvy. That's great, because it provides a possibility of eliminating one of the three programs that must always be open for web traffic: the browser, the mail client, and the feed reader.

But even that's just a start. Where do I see this going? In Wired's Googlemania issue, they asked several designers to offer their vision for the future of Google (link). My favorite was Joshua Davis, but it's pointed in the wrong direction. Sure, I care about Edward Tufte, but imagine his Google prototype with you in the center. Here's my web traffic for the day, here are my latest e-mails, here's the day's calendar, here are the 20 or so headlines I'm likely to be interested in. Enter a name in the search box, and you get a results page that includes address book info, appointments, recent e-mails to and from that name, and web search results on the name. All a program needs to know about to do much of this is RSS, POP/IMAP, and search engine interfaces. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see something very much like this in Outlook 2005 or 2006.

As a Mac guy, I see this as a replacement for the Finder, which again, is pointed in the wrong direction. The Finder is focused on files sitting on your hard drive, but most of the interesting stuff is out there, floating on the corporate intranet or on the internet. How much of your day do you use dealing with files on your hard drive? If you're like me, most of your computer's cycles are spent surfing e-mail, the web, and news feeds. The default view into the soul of your computer shouldn't be a floating hard drive or "My Computer" icon. It should be more of an interactive assistant and newspaper all rolled into one.

April 27, 2004 in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 08, 2004

Nick Denton: “No one's going to get rich off blogging”

Gawker's Stalker - Rising Blog Kingdoms

New York magazine's talked to Jason Calacanis about Weblogs, Inc., and the inevitable comparison and competition with Nick Denton, the blog-emperor who owns Gizmodo, Gawker, and Fleshbot (possibly not safe for work).

Denton is quoted in the story as saying that no one will be getting rich off weblogs, but my anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise. I've been making enough money off roughly 1,000 page views a day to more than cover a car payment, and Denton's sites must draw many times the traffic of my couple of weblogs. Maybe he means “nobody but Nick Denton will get rich off weblogging.”

I don't read magazines nearly as much as I used to, and most of that information now comes through the web, so it logically follows that advertisers trying to reach me would now be better served by the web.

Calacanis has hired Peter Rojas away from Gizmodo to head up Engadget, which I might charitably call a Gizmodo clone.

Calacanis is setting things up so that webloggers (at least the stars, like Rojas) have an ownership stake in their projects, where Denton takes a more traditional publishing attitude: My press, my profits.

Long term, I think the friction-free press on the web is going to drive things toward Calacanis' model, and away from Denton's.

I also envision the neighborhood paper/advertiser will eventually be replaced by weblogs. The neighbor papers are at a number of disadvantages to weblogs:

1) They're expensive to print, which means they have to be dominated by advertising, and need lots of stories to counterbalance the ads. Since the staff is typically tiny, you get a lot of press releases or thinly disguised press releases.

2) They have to be delivered. The delivery person/people have to be paid, and they deliver to people who immediately throw the paper away.

3) They have to print even when there's essentially nothing going on.

Neighborhoods are just a special case of the special-purpose categories that weblogs are doing a very good job of covering (and uncovering).

Update 3/8: Kevin Drum of Calpundit is about to start blogging for Washington Monthly, even more evidence that people are making money from this weblog thing....

March 8, 2004 in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 12, 2004

TypePad six months in

I first posted a public weblog entry into TypePad July 6, 2003, in an attempt to parlay my top Google ranking for “Tour de France update” into an experiment: What would it be like to set up a single-issue weblog that was updated very frequently? The appearance of the TypePad beta program meant I could experiment with a new site and a new hosting service all at once, so I signed up.

I wrote a review of my TypePad experiences in August 2003. To sum up, I compared it to OS X: powerful, reliable, and easy-to-use. Now, after six months with the product, I might update that to: “It’s like OS X, if there were no Terminal access available.” Most of the frustrations that I’ve had result from TypePad’s streamlined interface, which doesn’t offer a method to get “under the hood” to customize the service.

The service has been very reliable. I’ve never been unable to load my weblog, although there have been two or three times when I couldn't get to the control interface, and TypePad reported that they were maintaining the service. I don’t generate a lot of traffic, but I’ve had a spike recently, and they’ve had no trouble handling it, and my billing plan looks like it will more than handle the additional traffic without racking up additional charges.

Statistics are still fairly lacking. You get an instantaneous dashboard, displaying your hits in the last hour, the last day, this week, and for all time. But it‘s hard to tell what a “day” is; right now (Sunday night, Feb. 8th) my stats have 3286 hits today. About 24 hours ago, they were showing more than 4000 for that “Today” and about 24 hours before that, they were showing about 3300. Yet my hits for “This week” show 7025 hits, less than the sum of the days.

Also, that “Today” number would require about 130 hits per hour, but I've checked stats three or four times today, and the “In the last hour:” number has never been above 100. Maybe I had some heavy peak traffic that didn't correspond to when I was checking, but I would feel a lot more confident if I could audit my own logs. And I had a 58-minute gap in my logs recently, when TypePad reported no visittors or referers, but my home server was still serving quite a few graphics requested by “” pages.

There’s no way to use MT-plugins, which are available to do hundreds of different things.

There’s (as far as I can tell) no way to delete, or manage, individual files once you’ve uploaded them. Presumably, deleting an entire weblog or photo album deletes all its files, but otherwise, what goes in, stays in. It’s easy to justify this with “If you publish it, it should stay published,” but it’s another measure of control lost.

Once you switch to advanced templates, you're on your own for syndication. I had working Atom templates for as long as I used the basic templates, but when I upgraded, I lost them. On the other hand, I can, with some effort, customize my feeds to provide different content via RSS, Atom, or whatever format I like.

Even with all the little irritations, I’m very happy with the service. The pricing is fair, the look is highly customizable but with attractive defaults, there's support for moblogging, and a number of new features aimed at fighting comment spam. I get a fair number of referrals from the "Reccently Updated Weblogs" sidebar many TypePad sites support. With the addition of Google AdSense and Amazon Affiliate links, I can easily justify what TypePad hosting costs.

February 12, 2004 in Reviews, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 31, 2004

ecto, spawn of Kung-Log, released to the wild

Kula: ecto 1.0

I'm liking ecto significantly more than I liked Kung-Log, and find myself using it about two-thirds of the time. Now that it's out of beta, the download is a two-week trial version, and the price is set at $17.95.

Ranchero's NetNewsWire has a built-in weblog editor, but ecto has finer-grained support for comments, trackback, and notification, as well as the iTunes support that can insert your current song, as below.

Listening to: Eurotrash Girl from the album Kerosene Hat by Cracker.

January 31, 2004 in Apple - Software, MovableType, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 27, 2003

Goodbye, Kung-Log; hello, ecto

They called it "ecto" I've occasionally messed around with Adriaan Tijsseling's Kung-Log, but never registered. I started messing around with it again when posting today, and when I went to the Kung-Log home page, I discovered Adriaan is converting the donation-ware Kung-Log into either a shareware or commercial (can't really tell yet) program called "ecto". ecto is apparently in beta for all registered users of Kung-Log.

December 27, 2003 in Apple - Software, Seen browsing, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 24, 2003

Webalizer hacking

Tristan Louis went to the tremendous trouble of tracking just about every user-agent string out there, and coming up with a custom webalizer.conf file that gives them all descriptive names. Then, in the spirit of the internet, he posted all 256 of them for anyone to copy and paste.

Thank you, Tristan....

Update: But wait, there's more! Tristan has also put together a list of more than 70 search engines, and given them friendlier webalizer faces. If you copy and paste this, you can delete the existing "SearchEngine" lines in your webalizer.conf, since they're included in Tristan's list.

August 24, 2003 in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 23, 2003

More on TypePad vs. MovableType

On 8/22/03 4:25 PM, "Andrew Ostarello" wrote:

> Dear Frank,
> Hi there. My name is Andrew, and I'm a Mac geek
> who's thinking of leaping boldly into 2001 and
> starting a weblog. I ran across your hands-on review
> of TypePad on The Nicest website, and I'm thinking
> that's the way to go. With that in mind, I'd like to
> ask you a few questions:
> 1) You indicated that you used TypePad for your Tour
> de France website. I see you're using movable type
> for your Nicest website. Do you have any preference
> either way?
If you like twiddling with stuff, go with MovableType. You have much more freedom to integrate server-side scripts, etc., since you are managing the server (I presume). You also have much more responsibility: to download and build MT's source, to keep up with updates, monitor your disk usage, etc. With TypePad, all the server stuff is their problem. It's kind of like the difference between running a Linux box and OS X -- most of the stuff underneath is similar, but someone has actually figured out sensible defaults and applied some style to OS X and to TypePad.

I come down on both sides of the equation, which is why, despite using the domain, I haven't moved Nicest of the Damned over there yet. NotD is hosted via MovableType over the DSL in my home office, and runs on an AMD K6-2 450 with perhaps 384 megs of RAM.

TypePad seemed like the way to go for the Tour site because a) I wanted to see what it could do, b) it includes built-in support for Amazon affiliates links (the TdF page has already brought in $8.20 :-) ), and c) it made it really easy to customize the look of the site, both overall, and with things like the marginalia -- recent posts, recent comments, archives, blogroll, etc. On NotD, my blogroll and book links are pretty sour, since I don't like having to edit them in the raw source of the index page through the MT template browser. The interface to this is so much nicer in TypePad that I found myself building lists just to see how they would work and look.

> 2) Which TypePad plan did you opt for for your Tour
> de France website? Just browsing through it, I think
> it's about the level of complexity (pictures + type)
> that I'm looking for.
As a beta-tester, I got to use all the features in Pro. There's really only one pro-level feature I currently use, and I'm not sure I need it. That's 'advanced templates', where you can manually change the way that TypePad's templates work. If I remember correctly, the only place where I'm doing this is to make the calendar go to the daily archive instead of an individual story from that day, and (since I raised the issue during the beta test), that may be an option in the Plus level, as well.

That said, I still signed up for Pro :-). I think I'll use the multiple author stuff at some point, as well as the multiple roles for different authors, and I could easily see running more than 3 weblogs at a time on the service.

Even the basic level of service could build a page of exactly the complexity of my Tour site (possibly with the exception of the calendar links to daily archives mentioned above).

> 3) In your review, you indicated that you had the
> ability to give a discount to people you referred to
> the service. If you think TypePad is the way to go
> for a new blogger, do you have any discounts left?
I still have a few left.

If you want it, your discount ID is:

Removed for reasons of national security -- Ed.

It's a lifetime 20% discount; the email they sent with the codes suggests:

Be sure to let your friends know that they should enter one code in the
"Promotional Code" field when registering.

> 4) Any problems getting TypePad to work with Safari?
I had a little problem with bookmarklets at one point (a bookmark link that uses JavaScript to pull some information from the page you're on, then post that information in a weblog entry ready to be edited in MT/TypePad), but I used this hint or one very much like it, and life has been good:

I also noticed a few people complaining about problems connecting to the server, as here:

I have never seen this error, and have posted 300+ times to TypePad, all from Safari, and many of them while (ugh) dialed up at 22,600 baud.

> Thanks very much for your time. I know you must be
> busy, but I appreciate any info you can give me.
We're all in this together.....

> Take care,
> Andrew Ostarello

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Update 2/12/04: I've reviewed TypePad after 6 months on the service.

August 23, 2003 in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1)

August 16, 2003

Cool RSS trick from Feedster

One of the features on the NetNewsWire feature request list is filtering RSS entries. I've mentioned before how much I would like to see group by referenced link in an aggregator, but even simple filtering would be nice.

Scott Johnson (of FuzzyBlog) has an RSS search engine called Feedster that actually will do most of the heavy lifting for you.

I've been using Feedster to track what people are saying about the Nokia 3650 I just got, and learning about new software and tricks. Here are the Nokia 3650 results (and here as RSS).

Here's a MINI Cooper results page (and the RSS feed.)

Adding the RSS channel to my aggregator gives me a Nokia 3650 channel that's dynamically generated from every weblog Feedster spiders. If there's a topic you're particularly interested in, you'll be glad you tried this out (here's an interesting article comparing MINI and Apple I found through it...).

August 16, 2003 in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack