Going a Different Direction

I just got my bill for Flickr.  $25 for the next year of use.  $50 for the next two.  Staring down the barrel of a holiday season in the biggest economic SNAFU since the 20’s, I’m wondering what $50 for the next two years gets me.

Do you know what features they came out with in the time since I last paid them $50?  Let’s review:

Some of that stuff is great (geotagging was fun but tiresome, video was pretty cool but uploader could be better).  Some of it was garbage (mobile THIS).  And a lot of it I just don’t use (looking at you, place pages and stats).  The least inspiring of these was the redesigned homepage which I don’t think works that much better than the original.

My biggest gripe, though?  I can’t customize how I want my photos displayed.  Meaning my most interesting photos seem to fall off the homepage, and my wife’s eBay product photos are right up front.  Lame.

Turns out, WordPress launched this thing called the Media Library which I just realized isn’t half bad.  They also let me password protect my posts so I can hide photos that I don’t want so public outside of friends and family. Their momentum is awesome, and there’s this plugin that’s not half bad, too.  And, besides, we’re already paying $100/year for our web hosting — why not make good use of it?

So, we’re going a different direction and posting our photos here.  Contents may shift as we move them out from Flickr.  Most of our stuff will be public, but I’ll be posting some family shots that we’ll want to keep more private.  Just email me if you’d like the password for the photos.

Which Battlestar Galactica Character Are You

OK, being a total BSG geek, I couldn’t resist taking this quiz. I have to admit that it was difficult to answer objectively when I could practically read which character each choice represented. The question about what would be the hardest to deal with is a good example:

  • Getting shot in the stomach
  • Losing an eye
  • Gaining a lot of weight
  • Having your car blow up
  • Finding out you are not in control of our actions

I mean, c’mon. They could have been a little more subtle, no?

Coincidence?

Was Apple sending us subconscious signals about the upcoming “MacBook Air”:http://www.apple.com/macbookair/ release?

Around Christmastime at apple.com, the site featured a cartoon of the well-known “Get A Mac”:http://www.apple.com/getamac/ads/ ads on their homepage. I got a screenshot of the ad from Cabel Sasser. He “described it this way”:http://www.cabel.name/2008/01/2007-cabel-yay-awards.html:

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Best Desktop Picture You Can’t Download: Mac & PC
Hooray to Laika (Portland represent!) for their awesome work on the Apple holiday commercial. But when super-talented character designer Shane Prigmore posted his illustration of “Mac & PC” to his blog, the long-time Apple-understander in me knew it might not last — and it didn’t. (The good news? Naturally, I saved it before it was pulled — and you can download it right here — for now.)

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Here’s the image.

macpc_final-2.jpg

Note what PC guy is holding in his right hand — a manila interoffice envelope. You know, like the kind they’re using to advertise a certain lithe sub-notebook computer announced at yesterday’s MacWorld.

promo_macbookair_20080115.jpg

Coincidence? Or a clever hint from our glorious leader Steve?

New Features at TVC

We’ve officially launched a few new features at The Village Church site. Specifically:

* *Comments and pingbacks!* Taking question authority online — make your voice heard
* *Ratings!* Similar to rating movies on “Netflix”:http://netflix.com or digging a news article on “Digg”:http://digg.com — tell us what you like
* *Manuscripts!* All of the wit and wisdom of ??Sam Andreades?? in print — our podcast is now much more Google-friendly

I’m hoping we can overhaul some of the sermon and news archives in the near future. And, we’re also launching a secret project in April. Stay tuned.

Permission

We’re on the verge of a 1.0 release. Hours of planning, designing and coding over the past few weeks have produced a usable product, and we’ll be launching this week. Along with the _other_ priority I’ve had over the past nine months, it’s been, uh, a bit of a tough go. Deadlines and constraints have a funny way of eliciting a sort of desperate creativity. As they say in the business, “shipping a 1.0 product isn’t going to kill you, but it will try.”:http://www.randsinrepose.com/archives/2006/04/20/10.html

Writing code for the first time is usually a painfully clumsy experience — sketchy objects, redundant variables, wantonly inefficient loops. I’m keenly aware that there are thousands of people who can code better than I can; I imagine them standing over my shoulder, quietly shaking their heads. As I started writing significant portions of the code, I heard these words bubble up from the back of my mind:

Give yourself permission to do it wrong the first time.

So I did. One ugly portion at a time: design, build, test, demo, refine. Once it was good enough (read: _barely working_), move on to the next piece: design, build, test, demo, refine. After a while, it became test, demo, refine, refine, refine. Then: refine, refine, refine, refine, refine. Suddenly it occurs to you in the middle of a demo: wow, everything just worked.

That’s how we did it. We didn’t write any requirements-gathering documents. We didn’t build out a massive infrastructure. There were no draconian change processes or review committee meetings. Just a few clever ideas and a lot of “getting real”:http://gettingreal.37signals.com/toc.php.

Doing it all wrong — that’s exactly how we’re going to ship on Friday.

Undesign

And so we swing back to the 3 Column K2, rapidly-maturing K2, newly-discovered “Blue Zinfandel”:http://www.briangardner.com/themes/blue-zinfandel-wordpress-theme.htm theme. The timeline, which I’ve taken to calling the “attention stream”, may likely reappear in later iterations.

It’s a love/hate thing I have about blogging: design is hard, and harder still to justify when you have to actually _tell_ people that you spent your Sunday afternoon “designing the blog” — looking at the ground, tracing your foot through the dirt. Admitting to having a vested interest in the online world (like having a MySpace or Facebook profile) is still embarrassing for those of us over 25. Well, those of us who are over 25 and aren’t making a dime at this, anyway.

Homepage

I like to play at writing more than I like to actually do it. Same goes for coding, praying, and just about anything that requires hard work. I recently realized this and changed the homepage of my browser. (It used to point to my newsreader, where I download the world into bite-sized chunks and read about what other people are doing.)

It takes others less time, I think, to realize that there’s a very short window to accomplish anything in life, and a lot of mundane steps to get there. Sometimes it takes me a while to figure stuff like that out.

So I changed my homepage to my to-do list, instead.