One Billion Picniked Photos

We just announced the ONE BILLIONTH PHOTO edited with Picnik! Who knew back in Feb ’07 when we rolled out the baby beta of our photo editor that it would grow so fast? Here’s a handy dandy chart to help you appreciate Picnik’s incredible rate of growth. Yep, I couldn’t be prouder of what our team has accomplished.

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Word is out on Picnik, the web-based photo editor I’ve been working on for over a year now. With Picnik we plan to achieve three goals:

  1. Provide the best photo editing experience. Easy, powerful, and fun.
  2. Take advantage of everything the web can bring to photo editing and everything that photo editing can bring to the web.
  3. Define a new kind of web application that combines the best qualities of traditional desktop and web applications without compromises.

We’re not there yet, but we’re in Beta! You’re only a click away from trying it out for yourself. Please do.

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News That Vexes moves to a new location

If you haven’t been reading News That Vexes by Mark D. Taylor you are missing out on some of the most entertaining scientific research going on, like this: Girth adds to extra gasoline consumption.

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SidewinderHey look what Jonathan found! Back in 1986 we worked together with Hayes Haugen on a fun shoot-em-up game for the Amiga called Sidewinder. It was a moderate hit. Hayes and I coded and Jonathan did the in-game artwork. This is a scan of the retail box Sidewinder was packaged in.

Good times. Now Jonathan and I are reunited on another venture but I’ll save that for later post.

Update: Sidewinder’s fans have posted videos of the opening music and Sidewinder running in an Amiga emulator on a PSP!

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Welcome To The Beach

For many years I hosted on an old ‘386 box connected via ISDN at my home. I enjoyed having complete control over the software installed on the machine but didn’t like the site going down in the event of power failure, HD crash, or whatever. I also didn’t like the bandwidth it took away from my personal use and having another computer in the office always on and whirring away. Eventually I migrated the site to a shared host at DellHost and when they exited the business I moved it over to CrystalTech. While CrystalTech has provided me with great service I miss the absolute control over the server that I used to have.

When I discovered the low cost ($99/mo) dedicating hosting plan offered by ServerBeach I had to try it out. For the price I get an Athlon 2100 server with 60 GB of storage, 1 GB of RAM and a monthly bandwidth quota of 2 TERABYTES tapped into ServerBeach’s high-speed backbone. The machine is all mine, I can put anything I want on it, and if things go wrong I can even remotely reboot it (while praying that things haven’t gonetoo wrong). I’ve been gaining experience and confidence in the ServerBeach setup since the beginning of the year and I love it. The server is fast and its internet connection smokes. Today I’m switching the domain over to it.

CrystalTech hosts Windows Server 2003 and my ServerBeach machine hosts Debian Linux (they’ll also host Windows if that’s what you want) so I’m migrating from the .NET blog (dasBlog) and photo gallery (nGallery) applications I was using to Linux equivalents. I’ve chosen WordPress for my blog and so far am very happy with it. WordPress is professionally developed and has a dynamic community of supporters enhancing it with tons of plugins and themes. For my photos I’m switching to Gallery2. It also has quite a bit more functionality than my prior solution. It’s not very attractive at the moment but it is highly styleable so when I have some free time I’ll be able to take care of that.

It’s nice to be back in control.

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Remove duplicate Outlook contacts

Some time ago during a hotsync operation with my PDA Outlook ended up with duplicates of most of my contacts. I finally got fed up and wrote this little Python program,, to delete the duplicates. It could easily be adapted for duplicate notes, tasks, etc but I didn’t end up with any of those myself.

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Jay’s New Business

While I was away this summer brother Jay Massena was building a new business here in Seattle, Aris Editions. Aris Editions is a digital printmaking studio specializing in Giclée reproductions from original artwork. They also provide a full range of digital imaging services and prices.

Aris Editions
One thing I can tell you about Jay is that his attention to detail is phenomenal. He is always on top of every aspect of his projects which is critical for this kind of work. If you’re thinking about making prints and want to be sure you have the best possible reproductions, Jay is your man. He won’t be happy until the result is perfect.

It’s really great to see Jay fusing his love for art and technology with his business aptitude to provide a service anyone can take advantage of. Head on over to the Aris Editions web site for the details.

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Shaula is big into BookCrossing. The problem with BookCrossing, IMO, is that hardly any gadgets are required to participate. All you need is an Internet connection and a book. Geocaching is more my speed. Required gadgets: GPS, PDA (to run favorite mapping/logging software), digital camera (to record the happenings), compass, Internet-capable device, car or other transportation system. Some people manage to reduce this down to the GPS and Internet but obviously they just don’t get it. I’m trying to figure out how to incorporate MORE gadgets into the process.

After hearing about geocaching off and on for awhile we encountered a pair of ‘geocachers’ on a train in Norway, Oslo to Bergen. They were very enthusiastic about the, uh, sport and some of their enthusiasm rubbed off on us. Today we decided to give it a try.

Geocaching in a nutshell: Go to the geocaching web site and locate a nearby cache at an interesting location or with contents you want. Use some mapping software to pin the latitude/longitude coordinates on a map andwork out how to get close. Get there, then whip out the ‘ole GPS and start walking to the target coordinates. This is where it gets tricky since it is unlikely that you can walk straight through buildings, rivers, fences, thick underbrush, etc towards the target and your average GPS unit isn’t going to know much about these features or how to get around them.

After resolving this you’ll have to deal with the reality that GPS precision, both yours and the person who placed the cache, is somewhat limited. GPS limitations may not be an issue if you’re trying to hit a target with a 5,000lb bomb but if you’re trying to place your hands on a deliberately concealed tupperware container in the middle of a thick forest it can be a challenge to search a ~100 square meter area.

The reward for our efforts today is a pair of comic book action figures, Batman and Wolverine! We’re going to take them on our next trips and drop them off in caches along the way. These guys are extra cool because they carry “travel bugs“ (Batman’sWolverine’s) which means they’re tagged so we can see on the Web where they’ve been and keep track of where they go after we drop them off.

Additional gadgets with potential for our geocaching ‘kit’:

night vision goggles: for geocaching in the dark
Internet-capable phone: for immediately posting your finds online
metal detector: for those buried caches
RFID tags and reader: for easy tracking of cached items
walkie-talkies: to communicate with the rest of your geosearching team
web cam: keep an eye on your cache and who’s messing with it
robot: why get leave the house when you can remotely guide a robot to the cache?

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UK Phones

I thought it would take a while to sort out all the mobile phone options here but it in the end it only took a couple hours walking down Oxford popping into the many phone shops lining both sides of the street.

If you’re going to be here for less than 12 months you don’t want to be locked in to a phone contract so that leaves you with the “pay as you go” choices. Every phone operator has their twist on the concept but since many shops lay out all the plans from all the operators in a simple grid they’re easy to compare.

To start off, we want the cheapest phone and an operator with good UK coverage. £39.95/~$72.00 (VAT included) for a Nokia 3410 (pictured at left) and service from T-Mobile. 30p/minute up to £10/mo, 20p/min up to £20, and 10p/min for calls over £20/mo. Cool things: no bonus taxes or surcharges, no charge for incoming calls, text messages, voice mail, or for checking voice mail. So if you’re only using a phone for incoming calls and messages the service is essentially free!

They have this concept of ‘top up’ cards which you use to add money to your phone account. Ideally we would just have the phone company bill our credit card as needed but that is turning out to be tricky. They want the address the credit card is associated with to be the same as the address you register your phone with which must be a UK address and it’ll be a little while until we have one of those.

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We’re off!

Shaula has tried every trick in the book to avoid the effects of jet-lag. As the control subject in this experiment I haven’t done much except stay up late most days the past week finishing multiplayer Warfare Incorporated and preparing for the Big Trip.

Here we see Shaula on the plane synchronizing her sleep schedule with GMT. I can’t sleep. Fortunately I have my cell-phone camera and an unwitting model to keep me occupied.

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