Flickr Original updates

Saturday 08/7/2010  –  Category: Uncategorized  –  19 Comments

I've updated Flickr Original (both Firefox and Safari) to be compatible with Flickr's new photo page.

For Firefox users, you will have to go though an extra step to re-enable the context menu when right clicking on a photo on the because the new Flickr photo page has disabled the right-click context menu, you will need to adjust a setting in your Firefox preferences to restore it:

1. In Preferences, select the "Content" panel.
2. Click the "Advanced..." button next to the "Enable Javascript" box.
3. Deselect the "Disable or replace context menus" checkbox


For Safari users, you will have to right-click twice to bring up the context menu.

Download Flickr Original 1.1 for Safari 5
Download Flickr Original 1.0.6 for Firefox

LED Light for iPhone 4

Monday 06/28/2010  –  Category: Uncategorized  –  72 Comments

UPDATE: All new version featuring adjustable brightness mode and support for iPhone 5!

Introducing...LED Light for iPhone 4!

The iPhone 4 comes with a super bright LED for flash. Why not use it as a flashlight?

The app also includes an adjustable strobe light mode:

A video from a beta tester (thanks Michael!)

Update 7/7/10: The app has been approved!

Also, a free (iAd supported version) is available for download here.

Note: If the app stops working for some reason, try manually killing it from the multitasking menu or hard restarting your phone - I'm investigating why this happens for a future fix.

WWDC 2010: Worth Every Minute

Monday 06/14/2010  –  Category: Uncategorized  –  No Comments

Going to WWDC is a pilgrimage that every Apple developer should make, and as a first-timer it was quite a spiritual experience.

On keynote Monday, I arrived just before 6am at Moscone West and found the line already wrapped around three-quarters of the building. Anticipation and excitement increased as the hours slowly passed. Finally at around 9:30am they opened the keynote room, causing a small stampede of folks trying to try get a seat close to the stage.

In the keynote room, the atmosphere was electric. Press photographers were posted with their huge telephoto lenses poised at the main stage, and everyone in the crowd was trying to connect to the congested wifi network in efforts to communicate with the outside world. Throughout Steve's presentation my attention was split between furiously taking notes on Google Wave and trying to take in the whole experience.

The conference really does bring developers from around the world; throughout the week I met folks from France, Germany, Australia, and more. I also noticed that there was a good distribution of younger and more experienced older folks who have been around the block. However, you could tell by the bathroom lines that the gender split was much more uneven...probably about 97/3.

The catered lunch was not bad the first day, but after that variations on the sandwich/wrap got old very quickly. Thankfully, snacks throughout between sessions and my favorite--Odwalla drinks--kept me awake throughout the day.

Though I can't delve into details of the sessions, I can say that their quality was top notch. They started and ended on time, the presentations were well rehearsed and of high content quality, and the demos were fantastic. I'm glad that they will be available for download later, because they went by fast. I found the labs very helpful as well. It was really nice having an Apple engineer to ask questions and help you through specific issues in code.

During the conference I was a bit starstruck when I met the developers of some really popular apps: Angry Birds, Words With Friends, Bump, Things... I had to remind myself that behind every app there are developers, who are real people.

WWDC is a unique gathering of tons of smart people, bleeding-edge technology, and exciting new software, all in one place. I learned a ton, met lots of cool developers, and left saturated with new information and ideas.

Flickr Original for Safari 5!

Wednesday 06/9/2010  –  Category: Uncategorized  –  29 Comments

Safari 5 (released this week at WWDC) now supports browser extensions! So, I've ported my popular Flickr Original Firefox extension, you can give it a try here!

I found the extension development process to be much easier than Firefox, especially with testing. The Extension Builder is built in to Safari and makes it easy to edit your extension info and content items. You can also quickly reload the extension during testing and build when you're ready to publish.

(Protip: when testing, reload the plugin first, then refresh the page. That way the page will pick up the reloaded plugin.)

I found a few differences in the development between Safari and Firefox:

  • You need a Safari developer certificate to sign your extension
  • You have to host the extension on your own server (no extension gallery yet AFAIK)
  • Safari uses an event listener method of handling events (at least for context menu extensions)
  • No XUL, thank God!

Some similarities:

  • The browser checks for updates to the extension by checking an XML (.plist) file on your server
  • JS is mostly the same, except for Safari specific objects (to refer to browser window, etc)

Download Flickr Original for Safari 5

iPad thoughts

Friday 04/2/2010  –  Category: Uncategorized  –  2 Comments

Buzz around the iPad has come to a fever pitch this past week--tech bloggers are writing first reviews, developers are rushing to submit their apps for launch, and people are probably starting to line up to pick up their pre-ordered devices tomorrow morning. Aside from all the hype, I'd like to share a few thoughts about the Apple's latest device.

Though tablets have been around for awhile, I would say it wasn't until the iPhone was released that touch-based technology became natural and easy to use. With multi-touch, Apple has taught us new ways to interact with a screen: expand/pinch to zoom, swipe to pan, et cetera. Kids this generation have grown up easily learning these intuitive gestures which have now become second nature when interacting with a screen.

Before touch technology, desktop computers trained us to use a mouse and pointer: slight movements of the hand translate to movement of a pointer on a screen; initiating an action requires a button press. Doug Engelbart (father of the mouse), describes the mouse as the easiest way to interact with on screen objects:

We timed how long it took the users to move the cursor to the object. It quickly became clear that the mouse out-performed all the others. Devices like the light pen simply took too much time, by repeatedly requiring the user to pick up the pointer, and reach all the way to the screen -- very tiresome.

Touch removes a level of abstraction. Instead of moving a device to move a pointer to touch something on the screen, you interact directly with a much more natural device: your finger.

However, touch technology has its disadvantages. You no longer have the same level of 1 pixel precision as a mouse, the concept of a "hover" state doesn't exist anymore, and click-drag (think: selecting text) actions are not easy. Because of this, user interfaces have to be adjusted accordingly. With the iPhone's limited screen real estate, user interaction and experience had to be redesigned in the form of iPhone's UIKit: big buttons, navigation bars, table views, tab bars are all finger-friendly.

With the iPad, the paradigm of user interaction needs to be rethought again with its larger screen size. As a developer, I'm excited to work outside of the 320x480 box and think of new applications that will take advantage of the 1024x768 display.

The iPad will bring everyday computing closer to us. If the iPhone has taught us that we can stay connected everywhere all the time, with access to anything we wanted in our pocket, then the iPad will teach us that we no longer need to sit at our desks for most of our computing needs. Browsing the web, watching videos, and viewing pictures will all be more organic experiences when we use our fingers to interact--the feedback loop is drastically shortened. For iPad owners, I'd say that the desktop/laptop will be staying on the desk, and the iPad will become the new primary consumption device.

I'm still not sold, however, on its capability to create complex content. After watching the iLife app demos, the apps themselves look great, but the actual experience of trying to create a complex presentation or report looks a bit painful. Complex apps like Photoshop don't seem to be practical on a touch interface. For writing essays, programming, or photo editing, I'll stick with my laptop and mouse.

That being said, it's hard to say if that will change: we learn fast and adapt quickly, so who knows what the next computing paradigm will be.

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