Sunday, January 27, 2008

Visual Bookshelf, again

Visual Bookshelf 2.0 has been released, and I'm liking the upgrades. Given that it has to fit within the facebook column structure, the design works really well. The images also look better, although they're still smaller than I want them to be.

Hey, VB team - keep up the good work on facebook, but if you have some spare time to work out a full-page design that you can host on your own pages, I think you might get some usage there as well, and more space to do things like advertise.

Just a thought. :)

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Next up on my Web 2.0 tour is StumbleUpon. It's a(nother) collaborative filtering mechanism for the Internet. I think the killer app for for the Web is something along these lines -- the problem with the fact that anyone can publish is that it's hard to find the good stuff. As Ted Sturgeon so aptly pointed out, 90% of everything is crap. I think with the lowered barriers to entry of the modern Internet, the percentage of crap may well be higher.

But there is some really, truly great stuff out there. The problem is finding it. Blogs help a bit, when they aren't being part of the problem -- boingboing, for example, is a great way to find out about interesting stuff. But some of what they cover doesn't interest me, and some (a lot, really) of what I find interesting is stuff they don't cover. So I build an aggregate of streams via RSS, which helps, but there's not necessarily that feeling of discovering something. I think in part it's because reading a blurb about something and then seeing it takes a bit of the impact out of the process.

StumbleUpon, on the other hand, just presents the potentially interesting thing in my browser window with no explanation. I get to determine for myself what this thing is and what I think of it. So far it's pretty good -- over the course of several days and about 50 or 60 Stumbles, I've only seen two or three dogs.

Setup is painless -- set up a username/password, minor toolbar install, click on a few items out of the list of possible topics, and you're off. Any time I am looking at something I can Like it or Dislike it, and that (apparently) gets saved to my profile to improve results.

Coolest thing today was this list of the 100 oldest currently-registered dot-com domains. Geeky fun.

Now I think I'll go do some housecleaning in iTunes.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Visual Bookshelf

I like VB. But as noted below, I'm finding the UI a bit clunky. I did get feedback from Tim at Visual Bookshelf (perhaps Tim O'Shaughnessy from Hungry Machine?), who gently pointed out that I could choose larger images. He was even good-natured about my expressed desire that the team have their phalanges smashed. :) I'm not able to make the change work for me, though, which is a bit frustrating. The screenshot on the VB page at Facebook (linked in the title of this post) shows a somewhat different UI than I get. Not sure if that's something to do with FireFox, or if the screenshot was a mockup or earlier version that's different from the current code.

I just wish I could use all of this 22" monitor, I guess. :)

Monday, January 07, 2008

More fun with new web stuff

Facebook is interesting. I find the vast majority of the apps to be completely uninteresting -- my desire to "poke" on Facebook is very, very low -- but there is some really neat stuff going on with information-sharing apps like Visual Bookshelf.

Although the people who designed the UI for Visual Bookshelf should have their fingers broken. Okay, that's a bit harsh. They should, however, have it explained to them that HTML resizing of images is a really bad idea, and that book covers, which have words on them, should not be resized down into unreadability.

I also stumbled upon (or rather was sent a link to) Plaxo, which I am liking a bit more than FB. I have been a LinkedIn user for a couple of years now, and Plaxo is closer to that, with a more profesionally designed UI. Plaxo also lets me separate my profile between personal, family and professional segments, which lets me give my relatives my home address and phone number without sharing it will all of my business contacts.