Friday, November 28, 2008

Thoughts I Am

My blog Thoughtsam is meant to inspire, so I'm delighted to find that it's inspired Dave Thurlow to try the same sort of thing with his blog Thoughts I Am. I'm sure I speak for both of us when I say we'd love to hear from you if any of our snippets have inspired your writing, artwork, dance, gardening, whatever.

Still looking for inspiration? Check out my Thoughtsam blogroll.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


FreeRice has been up over a year now, and it's still going strong. It's a fine example of a single-purpose site perfectly balanced to achieve its goal. The design is clean, the concept is evocative. The user has fun, learns something and feels good about what they've done; the sponsors get their advertisement impressions; the organization gets money to carry out their mission, plus they spread the word. Nicely done.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Seadragon Ajax

We've just released Seadragon Ajax, a pure JavaScript version of our high-resolution smooth zooming technology.

I'm especially excited about this one, as it's really been my baby from the start. It also combines a number of my passions: Seadragon, JavaScript, Web APIs, open standards, cross-platform, etc. I'm a big believer in JavaScript's potential, much of which I believe has yet to be tapped.

We have a thing at Live Labs we call "Out of the Box Week", where every so often the whole department forgets about schedules and meetings and we all get to do whatever we want, creating whatever we think might be good for the group. A while ago, on one of these occasions, I decided to see what, if any, of our zooming technology I could re-create in JavaScript. The results after a week of hacking, while not nearly as smooth as our native C++ implementation, were nonetheless stunning to those who saw JavaScript as nothing more than a toy.

Once the week was over I went back to my normal duties. The prototype that would become Seadragon Ajax sat on the shelf until four months ago when we hired Aseem Kishore, an exceptionally bright fellow straight out of college, to turn the code into a real product. In four months he wrapped his head around my prototype and completely transformed it into something robust, efficient and clean. The project also benefited greatly from Ken Perkins's indomitable spirit, Boyd Ferris's attention to detail, Chuck Cummins's eye for elegance, and of course the support of the entire team.

Now that it's out in the world, I'm excited to see what people come up with to do with it! I'll be posting new developments along with various other Seadragon-related tidbits on the blog Dragonosticism.