Monday, March 29, 2010

The Joy Of Album Covers

I love iTunes, in the sense that it's where my music is, but seriously, look at that interface... it's just a big stupid spreadsheet with a play button tacked on! I don't want that; all I want are the beautiful album covers of all that wonderful music. Coverflow is a step in the right direction, but it's still too rigid and linear.

I love being able to set up a shuffle or a genius playlist and just go, but sometimes I like to get back into albums as albums. What's the point of getting new music if it's just going to dissolve into the sea of random shuffled tracks? Back in the days of CDs, whenever I got a new album, I'd keep it in the stack next to the player and it would go into heavy rotation until it had been burned into my brain.

Okay, so here's the idea: An app that gives you an alternative interface to iTunes that's all about the album covers. In fact, it's basically just a pile of album covers, some big, some little, arranged organically (no grids, no lists). Whenever you add a new album to your library, it shows up prominently. It pushes the other album covers out of the way a little bit. Albums you play a lot, or those you pick out special, stay prominent, while others fade away. Double-click on an album to play it. Delete an album if you don't like it. You could even have a Genius feature that highlights other albums like the current one, or causes them to all group together. Perhaps while the album's playing, the cover will get even more prominent, or we'll show other images related to that artist/album.

This app wouldn't be a replacement to iTunes. You may not even be able to access all of your music through it. It will, however, be a beautiful way to visualize and interact with your current high-rotation albums. If you're familiar with the old Mac app Clutter, it'll be a little like that, but more dynamic and more in tune with your play patterns.

Labels: ,

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Truth about Vampires

Having recently read Life Inc. and watched New Moon around the same time, I found myself inexorably lead to a new theory for the symbolism behind vampires: clearly they are corporations. Soulless, immortal, living only to feed, they promise you great power if you join them, but more often than not you end up just another victim. Hmm...


Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I've got lots of ideas, so many I can't possibly implement them all, especially since I keep having new ones. I love to make stuff, but I don't think I'll ever run out of things to make, and the fact is that generally with an idea, I just want the thing to exist, regardless of who actually makes it.

For instance, a few years ago I came up with the idea of a micropatronage aggregator. Just recently, some folks have put together Flattr, along very much the same lines. I'm stoked! I hope it does well. Of course, I'd be happy to help out, but either way, I'm just glad it exists.

With that in mind, I intend to start sharing my ideas more frequently, on this blog. I'll tag them with "seeds", as a reminder that these are ideas I'm planting in the fertile soil of the Internet, with the hope that they will grow. Perhaps someone will be inspired by one and make something of it (and yes, it would be nice if they give me credit), or maybe someone will be so taken with an idea they hire me to implement it, or maybe the reaction to an idea will be so great I just have to drop my paying work and do it anyway, or maybe nothing at all will happen with them. However it works out, it's better than locking the idea away in my head, or on the many post-its littering my desk.

I already do this for writing, with Thoughtsam (here's a nice post on my intentions behind that project); now I'll be doing it with technology design.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Two Months

Well, I've been doing this freelance thing for two months now, so how's it going?

Quite nicely, thank you! I've done work for five clients in that time, with two steady ones right now, and a few more coming down the line. So far, it's a pretty even split between Web and iPhone/iPad, which is just what I was hoping for; a bit of variety, on platforms I love. In fact, I've been doing JavaScript, Objective-C, Silverlight, and C++, and most of these projects involve a mixture of design and engineering.

So what are these fabulous projects I'm working on? I can't share yet, but stay tuned, once I've got something to show.

Of course I love the new improved commute (though I have been getting less reading done, now that I don't ride the bus everyday), spending more time with my family and my neighborhood, and no longer stressing out about how to change Microsoft's mind about something or other. It's not just that I'm spending more time at home, but it's more quality time. I'm finally getting around to all sorts of things that I've been letting slide for several years (like my new site design... what do you think?).

It's not all roses, of course; the thing I miss the most from Seadragon is the regular time spent working with that great team. I actually see quite a few of them fairly frequently still, which is wonderful, but there are plenty I haven't seen at all. I also miss the long debates about technology, design and philosophy, and the amazingly broad, twisted lunch conversations. I suppose I need to further develop my cadre of compatriots here on the outside.

All in all, I'm pleased with how this new adventure is going.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Caitlyn On Words And Deeds

I was putting away the dishes this morning, when Caitlyn pointed out that I hadn't carried one of the knives safely. "You're supposed to carry it with the point down. You had the point sticking out, you could have stabbed someone."

I thanked her for reminding me and told her that I'd do better next time. She said, "You're just doing what I do when Mama tells me I did something wrong, saying all the right things so you won't get into trouble. What really matters is what you do."

What could I say to that?


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

You've Got Some Gimme Shiny In There

Part of the beauty of Gimme Shiny is that it's so simple, it can be used as a building block inside other things. The folks at ebStart figured that out a while ago, using Gimme Shiny to seriously upgrade their photo homepage. More interestingly, a Second Lifer, utilizing the new "Web on a Prim" feature, has found that Gimme Shiny makes a delightful piece of animated jewelry for their in-world character. I guess I do a similar thing in first life, using it as a screensaver on my living room TV.

I'd love to see more of this sort of stuff. I guess that means I should make it easier to embed a Gimme Shiny straight off the website.

In the meantime, give this a try if you're feeling enterprising, and let me know what you come up with!

<iframe style="width:475px; height:356px; border:1px solid black;" src="" scrolling="no" frameborder="1"></iframe>