Its getting there…

Well, I finally got my version of FlickrView to a point where I’m happy with it. Pretty close to the original anyway, which was my goal. Now its time to take a step back and try to go over things I’ve (re)learned. Javascript, Perl, the DOM, etc. By the way, I’m using a Perl script to access the Flickr API to get a list of recent photos that have been uploaded to Flickr. It runs once a minute or so and generates an XML file that FlickrView then reads in every minute or so to update the list with new pictures. Its funny, but I’ve found that when returning to something I used to do, such as programming or playing an instrument or recording a new song, its useful to take something that exists and just try to reproduce it. For example, when I was getting back into music recording, I took a song I like such as “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” and just tried to do a version of it. I figured out which instruments would sound good, how the song went, etc, and just tried to replicate it. It is an excercise in pure execution. Its generally accepted that I’m not going to get close to the original, but that’s not the point. Its more to have a roadmap all laid out in front of you, so you just have to get your feet moving and follow the path. It gets my mind back in the game. Practicing and getting yourself used to going through the motions is invaluable when it comes to re-igniting old skillz. That’s really the reason behind this whole FlickrView excercise. Not to copy or ape something cool that someone else did or anything, just to get my fingers moving and my brain thinking like a programmer again. It feels good.

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Mucking about with Google Maps

Like many others, Google Maps holds a special fascination for me. Whenever I have spare (!!) time, I find myself looking for new uses of it. Here’s a typically interesting one:

http://www.sfgate.com/maps/sfhomicides/

See who died where. Great fun. This is probably one of the simplest and most mundane uses I’ve seen, but it shows how google maps is nearly everywhere- and along with that how easy it is to integrate with it.

One of the much more interesting uses is called “FlickrVision” by David Troy. I LOVE FlickrVision. Seriously. I come back to my desk and its running as my screen saver and I sometimes find myself just staring at it for like 10 minutes. Things I love about it:

  • It proves that people exist elsewhere and they too take bad pictures just like me
  • It makes the world seem a little bit smaller (it fits in my browser window)
  • It does one (seemingly) simple thing very quickly and efficiently (a rare thing for software these days)
  • It doesn’t try to be too much (there’s no excessive controls or flashing dingleberries)
  • Looking through other people’s pictures is just awesome.

In fact, I love FlickrVision so much that I wanted to try to reproduce it in some way so I could modify it and make it more complex, unstable and unusable. You can see my attempt here. My next target- Wikipedia! I’d really love to see who’s editing what and from where. For that I need to dig into a bit of geo-coding of IP addresses, but heck- how hard can it be?

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