Tag Archives: Flickr

Giving Flock a Try

flock_beta_1.jpg

You may have spotted the announcement of a first beta release of Flock. I gave one of the pre-beta versions a try out a few months back, but ultimately stuck with Firefox as my primary browser due to the lack of stability with the pre-beta software. However this new version of Flock promises to be better.

Under the covers, Flock is based on Firefox. What makes it different is that it integrates with a number of services that I make use of such as del.icio.us, Flickr and Technorati. It also includes the ability to post to a blog straight from the browser, and a multi-item clipboard similar to many that turn up in programming tools and word processors.

So far it’s been a bit of a mixed bag. The Mac version crashed several times at annoying moments, so I’m back with Firefox for the moment. PC wise it seems a bit more stable, and since I don’t tend to do as much with the browser on the PC, I’m still using Flock. I haven’t tried out the blogging tools, as Ecto does me just fine. Having said that, I suspect it might come in useful for a quick post now and again. The del.icio.us integration is okay, but I have to say that I can find my way around the existing del.icio.us button I have on the toolbar in Firefox.

I have to say that the part that has impressed me the most so far is the Flickr top bar, which is very nice and smooth, and is also able to pull out pictures from other photostreams on Flickr – having said that, it’s still not impressing me enough to suggest that Flock would be my browser of choice. To be honest on current impressions it isn’t doing enough to differentiate itself and make it stand out from Firefox and a good selection of extensions.

Cats Love Macs

Catching up with the Unofficial Apple Weblog tonight, they had a great little article that highlighted the ‘Cats Love Macs‘ group on Flickr – just the kind of group for Mac owners who are cat lovers too…

The contents of the group are essentially what it says on the tin – loads of pictures of cats with Macs, and there are some great shots there.

However, my favourite has to be this one by khirano.

What is Flickr? (In Four Words)

One of the blogs I read quite regularly is The Flickr Blog, which is a companion weblog to the main Flickr site. One of the interesting recent posts came partly out of their move to being part of Yahoo!, and how they now had to in some eyes waste time trying to articulate the vision behind Flickr for the wider organisation. Whilst you could describe what it does, i.e. allows people to store their pictures online, that doesn’t say it all, it’s also not right to look at it as some sort of vast stock photo library. You can throw terms around like Web 2.0 or Social Computing, but none of these give the kind of big corporate vision type description that was needed.

What they came up with was ‘The Eyes of the World‘ – which I think does do a good job of summing it up.

For the purposes of the article, they looked at some of the big events recently that have been captured on Flickr. In the same way as with the London Bombings, and Buncefield one of the best places to find images of the events has been on Flickr. Take for example this incredible picture from the recent riots in France posted by Hugo*, which really has to be viewed large. The article also highlights the recent demonstrations in Blelarus which were largely ignored by the local state controlled media.

However it’s not all big events. Many people also share events that on an international scale are small, but in many ways just as important. The The Flickr Blog highlighted this with their post yesterday called ‘A daughter is born and a father is dying‘ which highlights two of the deeply personal pictures that people choose to share with the rest of the community on Flickr. It very much goes to back up their description as the ‘Eyes of the World’.

Noticed By Flickr

Wild Goose Island and Saint Mary Lake

I came across a neat little Flickr tool called Scout, which given a username, e-mail or id, will return details of any pictures that user has taken that have appeared on the Flickr Explore page – of which there are 500 per day.

Now I wasn’t actually expecting it to come back with anything, because as far as I knew, one of my pictures had never appeared – certainly I’d never heard anything about it. However I was wrong…

Take a look at this page from August 20th 2005

About halfway down is one of the pictures from our holiday in Canada, the shot of Wild Goose Island in Glacier National Park.

Shozu Support Round 2

After my first exchange with the Shozu support team yesterday, I wasn’t expecting a reply until next week. However I was most surprised when a reply popped into my inbox early this afternoon, together with another nice e-mail from Andy Tiller.

Anyway, Gerard, the support person confessed to being mystified as to why it wasn’t working, and made some more suggestions, again none of which worked. However alongside this I did some more experimenting, one experiment being to use my PDA to download the relevant files, both of which came down without a problem, despite using the same connection on the phone.

I also succeeded in getting the Shozu application installed, but it produced an error on it’s first screen because it didn’t have unrestricted access to the internet, despite my having given it the highest settings available. All of this rang a few bells with issues we’ve had at work with getting .Net applications to work – basically weird behaviour for no apparent reason.

After this I did some digging around the Mobile Java sites, and also took a look at Beth’s Sony Ericsson phone too. The main difference proved to be buried deep in the internet settings, on the Java Certificates page. On Beth’s phone, she had certificates from GeoTrust and Thawte, whereas I had just the one – marked SonyEricsson. I’m now pretty certain that this is the source of the problem, as a looking at the .jad file that Shozu uses reveals that the application is signed, so the Download Failed error is actually somewhat misleading – in actual fact the signed file has failed validation, and it is this same problem that is stopping the manually installed copy running too.

At this point I thought I’d see about manually installing the certificates myself – as both the required certificates are available from the relevant sites. Both were recognised by the phone when I transferred them, but both only installed into the trusted certificates folder, without appearing in the Java certificates. A bit more reading and I found the answer in this SonyEricsson support posting:

As specified in MIDP 2.0, it is not allowed to download new root certificates to the device. New root certificates can only be added to the phone at production/customization. A firmware upgrade of the phone can include new root certificates specified by Sony Ericsson.

So, if at this point you’re wondering why my phone doesn’t have the relevant certificates, if they’re so common, you might like to take a read of this blog entry I posted last June – basically O2 were sending out K750i’s that wouldn’t connect to the internet, so faced with not having the phone, or replacing the firmware, I de-branded the phone and installed the standard, fully working firmware. However it looks like the firmware image I used to fix the phone was lacking the relevant certificates, so in order to get it to work, I need to find a firmware that includes them, or the relevant customisation file – neither of which I can find.

Anyway, since re-flashing the phone costs รขโ€šยฌ10 a go, and currently aside from Shozu everything else works fine (indeed I can still upload pictures from the phone to Flickr – just via the Mac instead) I won’t be loosing much sleep over it, just one of those things I guess. Having said that, it will probably be a bit of a disappointment to Andy Tiller who aside from his e-mail, also looked me up on Flickr. Although there is now only six months to wait until I’m due another phone upgrade anyway, and by that point the fantastic looking SonyEricsson P990 will be about. ๐Ÿ™‚

Ecto – First Impressions

One of the things I’ve been trying out over this holiday, is using something other than the built in editor to edit blog postings, mainly from the point of view that offline editing allows me to make better use of some of the tools on the Mac to make writing the posts easier – chief among those being the built in spelling checker.

After comparing the options, I decided to go for Ecto, some of the things that swayed my decision where the glowing reviews, particularly a detailed review that a friend of Howards produced, the impressive feature list, plus the fact that there is a PC version too.

So far, aside from this posting the only published posting on the blog that uses Ecto is the New Year posting. There have been a couple of annoyances, which I suspect may be as much to do with the way I have been doing things before, and I may be able to work around with the configuration settings.

I had to spend a little time getting the preview window set up so that the preview looks like the finished posting, which was primarily copying chunks of the style-sheets from the web site into the Ecto configuration screens, it was slightly tedious, but is all done now. There is still one hiccup currently, although the main preview window looks fine, the font size in the front page preview pane is still too small, which is annoying, but I can live with it.

The actual posting turned out to be a bit more complicated, particularly with regards to doing the picture. Recently I’ve been using the WordPress Javascript Quicktags to put pictures into postings, and taking pictures straight from Flickr – although usually just by cutting and pasting the link from the relevant page on Flickr. For a start, Ecto doesn’t have Flickr support built right in, but that is pretty easy to get around by pasting in the image link. However getting the drop shadow quick tag to work is again going to require a bit of fiddling I think – for the New Year post I actually ended up wrapping it in the quick-tag in the web based editor first.

There also seems to be a bit of a bug in that it is failing to set the post categories correctly for any edits that are posted, so I’ll have to take a look at that. Again probably a configuration issue somewhere.

Having said that, it is really nice having a spelling checker on my posts – hopefully weird and whacky spelling on the blog will be a thing of the past now – and Ecto seems configurable enough that I should be able to get it working with Flickr in the way I want too. Once I’ve made a few more posts I’ll write something a bit more detailed.