I had heard stories similar to this over the years, but they took place mostly in Japan, not the US. Using only the photos found on a camera left in the back of a cab, the owner is tracked down and the camera returned. It’s the feel-good story of the year (so far).
Wired has an interesting article and interactive graphic that sheds some light on all of the bots and scrapper and whatnot that descend on new blog postings. It is amazing how a whole background industry has grown up around blogging. I think it also show the great lengths that people will go to try to benefit themselves from work that isn’t their own.
The rumors around Apple software updates have been flying, including a much anticipated (some would say overdue) update to the Aperture photo software. Of course, there was a rumor that Apple were going to release a huge 10.5.2 update last Friday. That update didn’t materialize as planned.
My guess is that we will see both in the coming week as PMA provides the perfect forum for the announcement (and served as the forum for announcing Aperture 1.5). The 10.5.2 update will likely be released at the same time or in advance of Aperture. The key thing about the OS update is that that is how Apple supports new cameras and file formats. This tying of the camera support to the OS release cycle has been a point of bitter grumbling for photographers who like to jump on new cameras as they are first released.
I am hoping for support of the Olympus E-3 in the 10.5.2 update, as well as an announcement from Olympus of a price drop or at least a rebate on the E-3 as I would very much like to upgrade from my existing E-500 before my next trip.
If PMA truly is the backdrop for these announcements, all will be revealed this week.
With a growing number of apps on Mac OS X being delivered with Growl notifications, I find myself wishing that the default behavior of growl was not just display only, but something more actionable. That is, I want something like a configurable Growl client that could ‘subscribe’ to certain Growl notifications (Growl Actions?) and then take action based on them. This would make all of the apps that participate in the scheme much more flexible and powerful using a common mechanism (growl).
For example, if you use Twitter or Jaiku and that client could subscribe to a Growl notification that a batch update to your files in Aperture had just completed and send you a corresponding Twit. Another app might then perform some file housekeeping action based on the same notification having been sent (so one GrowlAction, multiple ‘subscribers’ take action on it. Some of this could probably be done with Applescript, but using Growl feels like a more open and extensible solution (and keeps it open to our Linux brethren). Heck, this could even lead to Growl-based mashups on your desktop (and beyond).
In conjunction with this concept of Growl Actions, I thought it would be handy to have an app/widget that I call a Growl-er (think flower). This is a circular visual widget that would compactly display received growls; hover over a ‘petal’ and it would extend out and show more detail about the growl received. When a Growler becomes too cluttered it could ‘sprout’ another circle to populate.
Mobile applications have come a long way, but still have plenty of ground to cover. Much of that has to do with the lack of consistency in web sites ability to deal with mobile devices. Google Maps for Mobile is a perfect example. GMM is a slick app that runs on most smart phones. The mapping is fantastic; it’s that the linking isn’t very well thought out.
For example, using GMM you can find a restaurant near you on the go, but when you try to read a review or other linked info that GMM provides it is often very painful (if it works at all). Sites like Zagat (and others) are still utilizing the tired Flash-encrusted site designs that do not play well on mobile devices. The ironic thing is that Zagat is offering a new mobile site — but GMM is not using this for its links. Perhaps Google could be a little smarter around where they source their linked content when the browser/app is a mobile client.
The title is a play on Ubiquitous Computing except I don’t necessarily want devices interacting with each other, I want me to be able to interact with all of my data sources. Recently I realized that general purpose desktop apps are becoming more irrelevant for me because they do not have an online and/or mobile access point. By way of example, here are a few desktop apps that I have traded in over time for online counterparts:
NetNewsWire is a fine feed reader for the Mac, but I gave it up for Google Reader the instant that there was a viable version of Reader. I found that I spent too much time trying to reconcile the feeds that I had read online, on my phone and in NNW. Google Reader gives me one place to manage and access them all.
After the initial coolness factor of scanning barcodes via iSight in Delicious Library it soon became clear that Delicious was just another island of personal data that I couldn’t use in the way that I needed/wanted. I exported the book information from Delicious and imported it into the very fine (and then fledgling) LibraryThing and never looked back. LibraryThing liberated my book info and provides both online and mobile access to my data. I would love to find a ‘LibraryThing for music’ where I could upload/synch my iTunes music info and be able to browse and search it on the go.
StickyBrain (now SohoNotes) was a handy utility for capturing random bits of info from the web and other desktop apps. Same problem though — I found myself wanting to have access to the data on the go but there was no good option. Granted they did have a Palm conduit that you could export notes to which was great if you carried a Palm device. I have begun using Google Notebook more and more for this type of data collection because I can get to the notes when I need it. SohoNotes would be 1000% more useful to me, if it could synch with Google Notebook and thereby provide mobile/online access.
I almost bought OmniFocus when it was discounted during the beta. But again I found that it’s lack of an online capability was too much of a limitation for my purposes. RememberTheMilk has been a great GTD solution for me over the years. It is simple to use and does everything that I need it to do without being tied to desktop app.
The next step is to move beyond the apps and get straight to the heart of the matter — the underlying data. The ideal model is that the data is online and available via a common set of services in addition to a lightweight UI. Another bonus would be if the data is also stored in a format that allows it to be repurposed beyond its original use (XML?, RDF?). Consider the possibilities: Mashup your own data. Have a unified set of tags across all of your data.
Granted there will always be things that you want to do on a dedicated app (edit photos, video) but for ‘everyday tasks’ (schedule, todos, bookmarking, contacts, notes, presence, etc) it just makes sense to be able to take that with you. And ‘taking it with you’ could be as simple as desktop apps having the ability to export/sych information into your online personal data hub. Until the personal data hub becomes a reality, there is still a great deal of value in exporting to existing web applications.
Only 7 days left to take advantage of the aptly named Mac Heist where you can get about half a grand of quality Mac software for $49USD. It that isn’t cool enough, a chunk of the proceeds go to charity (you can even pick which ones you would like it to go to). I already have my bundle and am loving it. Heck, I almost paid retail for Wingnuts 2 last weekend, now I essentially get it for pennies on the dollar.
If you don’t make it this year, definitely check it out next year as it only seems to keep getting bigger and better.