Friday, December 29, 2006

Flickr (Sad Face)

You know, I like Flickr. I really do. It's clean. It's white, the logo is well designed with two main colors, and they're beautiful.

But it saddens me that Yahoo owns it.

Sure, I'm a brand man (and in a minute I'll qualify that). And Yahoo is on my bad list. The list you get to be on after screwing with people. The list you get on for offering inferior products.

Mapquest sucks. Geocities sucked. Yahoo Chat sucks. Yahoo itself is just BAD. I hate it. Up until now I've vowed never to use something Yahoo-based. I think our list server for the Low Brass & Woodwinds section was with Yahoo -- something I've despised. I think I set it to basically not e-mail me unless someone used the list to spread information of the apocalypse or the second coming of Christ.

But then comes Flickr.

Now, before, I said I was a brand man. I would like to point out I don't blindly trust one brand until I own all of it and one day my posessions either all fall apart at once or rise up against me in some science-fiction b-movie.

But if I find a product I like, I will explore other products by the same manufacturer, and often will be swayed to use them over competitors due to factors of interoperatability or similar design.

Apple is about as good an example as I can think of. I love the design of, well, every single product they slap their name on, and I can't think of an instance when I would buy a third-party keyboard over an Apple one, even if the Apple keyboard costed a little more. This is also relevant toward Mail over, say, Thunderbird, &c.

Another good example is Duracell. While I can find no scientific proof Duracell lasts longer than Energizer of Rayovac, I find myself buying exclusively Duracell. Perhaps something left over from my childhood.

Google is the example relevant to this entry, though.

Three years ago, I thought "Gmail" was some seedy Hotmail-replacement. Then I read up on it, and was angry I had to place my name on some waiting list for an account. Much to my joy, I was e-mailed a week later with an invitation.

And I've used Google pretty much exclusively ever since. I haven't really used Calendars or Writely, because I have no use for them. But I had a Blogger account (until they came out with Blogger Beta, and allowed me to sign in with my Gmail address... Another reason why I love Google). I have a Picasa account, and I deeply wish more people would use Gmail Chat instead of AIM.

AOL is another brand I loathe. And while their current slew of television commercials lead me to believe they may be sucking less, they have a lot more to make up for than a little rebranding can do.

But that seething pile of venom-soaked opinion is for another day.

Back to Flickr.

I love Flickr. If I didn't know better, I would say it's a Google project (or, at least, a Google-absorbed project, much like Blogger, Picasa, Docs, &c.)

Heck, Flickr is more Google than Picasa. Flickr is truly free. There's no limit. There's a bandwidth limit, that's all. Without paying, you can upload as many photos as mankind can comprehend, as long as you only uplad like 2GB per month or something like that.

Not so with Picasa.

But I come to learn Yahoo have got their slimy hands on it. Now, you have to understand. Yahoo is the kind of company that, when you want to download a television-listing widget, you get a third-party piece of complete horse diarrhea that loads up your system with half a dozen Yahoo-brand "widgets," which do NOT run through Dashboard, and just eat up system space, memory and it just freaking pisses you off.

They think they're doing you a favor. They think you're a computer user too stupid to use anything, so they'll do it for you. "Don't worry, we'll take care of it."

Screw you, Yahoo.

But this doesn't seem to be happening with Flickr. Yahoo hasn't even put out a Flickr-plugin for iPhoto. They list one on their Web site, but it links to a third-party page where you have to purchase the widget from a developer. Something of which I'm glad.

I don't know about the straight Flickr-uploading software, that may be tainted with Yahoo's bile. I don't plan on using it.

Part of my interoperatability speech included iLIfe (which is a word I use to clump every Apple app that begins with i followed by a majuscule character), so I like iPhoto.

To end a painfully long rant, I'm thinking of switching to Flickr.

Google got Picasa wrong. Or, at least, Flickr had the layout first, and Google had to design something else.

Picasa's photos are square in Album view, which is ugly.

There's no easy way to post a photo on another page using PIcasa, unless you want to post a painfully small version, which links to the actual photo.

But with Flickr, I've found people posting huge images on pages, which still link to the Flickr version, but are also large enough for people to actually see.

It's a sad day when I decide a Google product just isn't working.

It's a sadder day when I'm forced to log into something using my Yahoo ID, the username and password I keep locked in a drawer somewhere, for fear they may infect my other logins.

Sad face.

Post-Christmas, Pre-New Year Limbo

So I went to Alabama for Christmas, to see my family (read: the 34 people crowed around my Grandmother's living room Christmas Day).

They tell me all of us hadn't been in that house at the same time since my Grandfather died, and that was like 10 years ago.

It was really nice to catch up with everyone. I still feel like a little kid when I go down there. There's just something about that house, the area.

Sure, it didn't really feel like Christmas. In Alabama, I think it may have snowed (flurries) once during all the times we went down there. All the other years, it's cold, but not too cold. Think of a brisk late-October day in Northeast Pennsylvania. Instead of snow, all the grass dies. All the grass. It sort of looks like a fall wasteland, but without the pretty colors. All the leaves are gone, so it looks sort of like a perpetual day-before-the-first-snowfall.

But I like it.

I flew down this time. It's only the second time I've flown intra-nationally (We flew out to Los Angeles with the Concert Band two years ago). So it's the first time I've flown to and from the same coast.

I like to fly. I think it gives you a sense of importance. Well, it gives me a sense of importance. I drive everywhere. I drive to and from work, I drive to the lake, I drive to catch a train into Manhattan. I drive to Washington, D.C.

So when I have to go through the trouble to haul my bags on a shuttle bus, stand in line and check in, and then get violated by security, it makes a person feel like they're going somewhere important, to do something worth-while.

Now I'm not saying if I weren't flying the trip wouldn't be worth-while, and I'm not saying people who don't fly aren't important.

But you cannot deny the man who flies from JFK to Heathrow three times a week, first class, is not more imporant -- at least in his mind -- than the shlub sweating in a metro car on his way to work.

Plus, even though the flights (there was a connecting flight each way, so I was on a total of four planes) were only an hour and a half, they serve you free soda, give you airline peanuts, or Sun Chips, and provide you (at least in Delta's case on the way from Atlanta to BWI) with non-stop, heart-pounding, back-to-back episodes of Alias.

I read. I finally finished Murder on the Orient Express. It ended like I thought it might, having had the plot ruined by a stray episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I also had the delightful experience of feeling uber-important by opening my laptop once the stewardess (flight attendant, my left foot!) told the plane us important people could. I didn't really do much. As I've found, most of my idle computer use relies heavily on an Internet connection. I watched a movie in the background while working on the masthead to my Web log at work. Then I closed the computer up, and went back to being a normal, regularly imporant person.

The one thing I've found, though, it you don't really have a sense of how far you've traveled when flying, because for the flight you're in a tin can, rustling through the upper atmosphere. Sure there are clouds, but I think I would be able to comprehend the Atlantic Ocean better if I would be forced to traverse its vast expanse by steam boat.

But in this limbo of a week between holidays, I find myself (at the end of it, but also) wishing I was little once again.

Or, maybe, older. If I were younger I would have this week off. Everyone between the ages of 5 and 21 usually has this week off. Public schools are not in session, and colleges are in winter-break mode.

If I were older, I would perhaps have accumulated enough vacation time to take this week off, like Caitlin's dad.

Instead, I am in the very heart of the grind. The slimy, greasy spot of the machine that forces its workers to, well, work. Plus I'm in an industry on which not putting out a product on holidays is generally frowned.

Check it out, no preposition at the end of that baby.

The week went fast though. Sure, one day was basically travel. Even though the flight was four hours, if that, time spent in line, security, layover, and baggage claim, plus driving to and from the airport... It's pretty much a day.

But, I think I've rambled about my mind enough to become thoroughly separated from the point I began to make, so for now adieu.