Thought / Cache the text area, web browser

Hey you, web browser! Yes, you! Why don’t you cache the content of any text area every time I get some focus on it and start typing in?

Please. You know how to recognise them (does sounds familiar to you?) You know I’ll be typing that kick-ass, witty reply to one of those jackass know-it-all bloggers. You know I’ll be spilling my guts on my lousy-but-cherished blog. You know (and if you don’t, you should) I might be adding that project description on my most recent state-of-the-art ajax-enabled online killer-app subscription project management service I just paid the buck for.

So yes, you might say I’m an ass. And I might decide to not discuss that point. But I’m human and I err. What is your excuse? You have the means and the knowledge, so please, smart up! Is that too much to ask from you?

(note: I know half of browsers already do that. I’m talking to the other dumbass half).

Thought / In the reign of the digital ‘A’

I’ve been using computers since I can remember (and perhaps most of you have too). I’ve had an iPod for more than three years and I’ve used many cellphones throughout the last 7 years or so.

And I have come to realise it pays for your name to start with an ‘A’. Very much. Too much.

In the digital world, if you’re an ‘A’, you’re top of the crowd. You stand out. You made it to the top, boy! You’re among the elite that has always the first screen real estate in any list. Why? Because digital still arranges everything alphabetically by default for the most.

I think even the music groups I don’t blindly succumb to that don’t start with an ‘A’ (or even an ‘F’ for that matter) have less chance to be listened repeatedly by me when I start looking for something new in my alphabetically-organised iPod artists list, just because those are the first I see every single time I browse my iPod. If you’re not an ‘A’ band, then you might have an ‘A’ album, and you bet I’ve seen you a thousand times.

Digital is not that young anymore. It’s a 30-something already. Perhaps it is time for digital to start looking for other ways to organise information. I like Spotlight search (and all search) since it cares for ‘M’ as much as for ‘B’. I like organising pictures by date, so I don’t always get ‘Aunt Sally’ the first. I like putting brackets, dots, underscores and asterisks at the beginning of my perferred playlist name in iTunes, so I can feel I own my music realm and its ordering.

Perhaps digital ordering is where digital democracy should start.

Thought / About minishowcase

This is my current vision of the minishowcase online photo gallery software (developed by me):

Hi there,

I am very happy about what minishowcase has proven to mean to some people that have shared it with me here in this forum and in some emails I’ve received.

minishowcase has been a delight to work on some times, and a pain some others. But in the end I did it because of two main reasons: 1) I wanted to understand how ajax worked and 2) I wanted to prove that easiness of install and use is something that people care about and want in their software.

So with my very limited resources (I am not much of a programmer) I started minishowcase, and it grew from a very simple php bare-bones gallery to what it is today.

I started this gallery for my personal use, since all other galleries I found were so bloated it took me 4-5 hours to upload 10 albums of 40 pictures each. Then I decided what worked for me could work for others and I started sharing it. It has been useful for some, so I continue sharing it.

Of course, it cannot be good for everybody. I have tried to make decisions that could satisfy my needs and those of the most of you. Unfortunately, I get to hear more often from the ones that don’t like something, since those are more vocal, though many have left great ideas, tonnes of help and support and good praise that I truly appreciate.

Right now I’m faced with several important decisions:

1) On the short run, I have realised loading the galleries is faster and more efficient if done through php, since anyway more than 90 percent of the assets are reloaded, so a total reload wouldn’t hurt and it might prove a faster, more user-friendly (bookmarkable) and less prone to error than the current version. On the long run, I think minishowcase has many needs and flaws (internally mostly) that require attention , and even perhaps a thorough rewriting.

2) I  find myself having less and less time for this project, and to be sincere, it is aiming a tough crowd: one of less code-inclined people that just wants their business done without problem. I’m extremely happy about catering to such a crowd, since I think all software should be as easy to use as minishowcase is, but there is little support coming from this audience, and I’m starting to realise this project is a big burden for me alone.

I continue to believe in the same principles and guidelines I believed when this project started, but I want to take it to the next level, and a photo gallery has proven to be in a market with many offers from teams with better skills than mine. Just take a look at the fabulous work done by the creators of the Lightbox JS2 and the ThickBox 2.1, the other two image previews included with minishowcase.

Right now I’m thinking that the little free time I have might be better on projects with more return, so I’ve started to develop other projects I’ve had in mind since a long time ago.

I won’t be abandoning minishowcase until it reaches the 1.0 maturity. However, other paths are proving very tempting, and I’d love to explore them right now, along with you, if you fancy so.

Even though minishowcase has not reached wide notoriety, I’m extremely happy with what it has became. I wish I had the skills to make it even better, or more stable at least. If I ever will, I might try to take it to the next level. This would require integration with blogs and more complex sites, accepting modules or extensions or plug-ins, having an API and being scriptable, an interface that allowed for uploads from mobile devices, adding sub-galleries support, and a good and stable online file manager.

Thanks again to all those that have contributed in any way to make minishowcase a better photo gallery. I hope to see you all around here.


Thought / Optimism and Service Design

I was asked (indirectly) what was I optimistic about this year. The answer to that: I am optimistic about applied intelligence on service models, or better, service design being a major player these days.

I heard about services the first time in 1999, on one of the simplest presentations I’ve ever seen. Simple because it was mostly data, and hard concepts explained from the data, and mostly because understanding services (those days) was a very hard thing to do. It was given by someone that knows a lot about services, someone that lectures everywhere in the world, sort of a scientist and a genius. His name is Ezio Manzini. I was blown away. I paid a lot of attention. I couldn’t figure it out. Then I worked for some years on service design, and I felt that was the most difficult thing to design: a service.

It took almost 7 years for the world (and myself) to understand it. And now we’re very close to really harnessing its power, or at least we know there’s power in it. Distributed systems, social collaboration, interaction and support, community-driven models, pay-as-you-use, sustainability, are some of its advantages, and getting you exactly what you need without caring on how to do so is kind of the main goal.

Today I saw a presentation that made me feel optimistic again, or better: made me feel like there’s something that has to do with what I feel optimistic about. Still can’t put my finger on it. Instead I’ll share it with you:

In the meanwhile, I’ll keep thinking on that tickling I feel about this year to come.

Thought / work work work

well, nobody told me my company was taking collective holidays between the 24 and the 31st, so i stayed here working. i’ll take those days later, i guess.

btw, the company i work with is in london, and i’m in caracas, venezuela, case you wondered how stupid i might be not noticing the entire empty office for 4 whole days.