Posts from January 2006

Four Things

Jason tagged me—and how can I ignore a taunt?

Four jobs I've had:
1. Wedding videographer
2. Guitarist
3. Best Buy, music dept.
4. Web Application Developer

Four movies I can watch over and over:
1. The 400 Blows
2. 2001: A Space Odyssey
3. Un Chien Andalou
4. Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Four Three places I've lived:
1. Nebraska
2. California
3. Oregon
4. ???

Four TV shows I love:
1. Daily Show
2. Colbert Report
3. Family Guy
4. South Park

Four places I've vacationed:
1. Hawaii
2. Alaska
3. Mexico
4. Yosemite

Four of my favorite dishes:
1. Steak and Potatoes
2. Steamed Clams
3. Mussamun Curry
4. Fish and Chips

Four sites I visit daily:
1. Google
2. Flickr
3. ORblogs
4. Metafilter

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Yosemite
2. Hiking
3. Napping
4. In the sun

Four bloggers I am tagging:
1. alison
2. merlin
3. kathryn
4. nelson

I'm Feeling Googly

After focusing on Yahoo! and Flickr for most of 2005, I've been kicking off 2006 by poking, prodding, and generally hacking another side in the search wars: Google. I'm going to be bringing Google Hacks up to date and into its 3rd edition.

The first edition of Google Hacks was published in February, 2003 and it was a runaway success. Here's an article Tim O'Reilly wrote just months after it was released: Thoughts on the Success of Google Hacks. (The key ingredient? Having fun with technology during the darkest post-bubble days.) Google Hacks, 2nd edition was released in December, 2004 during the mad frenzy to get a gmail account. (Doesn't that seem like ancient history?) It's been over a year, and there are plenty of new topics to cover. 2005 was the year of Google Maps Mashups, and O'Reilly felt the topic deserved its own book: Google Maps Hacks. It's out now—and it rocks! (please note O'Reilly bias, but seriously. it's good.). I'll be including a few Google Maps Hacks in the new addition along with many, many more new Google features that you can tweak to your advantage.

And of course I'll be keeping a close eye on the news that Feds are after Google data. Wired News is already on the case letting people know that there are some privacy hacks you can use with Google or any other search engine. Personally, I'm happy to see Google standing up for their users' privacy.

I'm very excited to be adding to what's already a fantastic book, and I'm honored to be walking the trail that Tara and Rael blazed. Plus I get to play with all of the Google goodness at and from around the Web. I'm searching for the most useful (and fun!) hacks, tips, and tricks I can find to include in the new edition. Got a Google Hack? Lay it on me.

Update: On a negative but important note, Philipp Lenssen is doing good reporting on the latest news that Google Censors Its Results in China.

Guest Post at Yahoo! Search blog

I'm a guest blogger today over at the Yahoo! Search blog talking about (what else?) Yahoo! Hacks. The Good Kind....

O'Reilly Rough Cuts

Safari Books Online just launched a new service that gives you access to books before they're released. It's called Rough Cuts—here's a press release: Safari Books Online Launches New Rough Cuts Service. Flickr Hacks is one of the first books offered through Rough Cuts. We're not finished with the last round of editing yet, but you can get access to the full text of the book as it is now for $12.99 if you'd like: Flickr Hacks Rough Cuts. (You can pay $27.99 if you want the hard copy in addition to the online version once it's printed in a month or so. The printed book alone will be around $16.99.)

One of the most frustrating aspects of working on print books for me is the lag time between writing something and getting it out to an audience. The applications I'm writing about change quickly, so it's critical to get information out quickly. The editorial and review process is fantastic, and I love tightening text and tuning code. But it's frustrating watching your work expire while the book is in process because an application has changed. I think Rough Cuts will be a way to shorten the cycle. I also think it'll be great to get feedback from early adopters of the books so O'Reilly can tweak things before printing. Every book has errata, and with more people consuming books before they're out the door, hopefully more of that errata can be eliminated before the book is printed. (With enough eyeballs, all errata is shallow?)

So yeah, I'm excited about this new service—especially because Flickr Hacks is one of the inaugural titles. The author side of me is a bit nervous about letting people in early, but it's natural to the Web developer side of me. A few days ago I read through the entire book again as part of the editorial process and really enjoyed it. I know I'm biased, but I'm also proud of the book. (And let's face it, Flickr is fun!) And now you can read an early version too.

Update: For insights into the economics of publishing, check out Tim O'Reilly's take on Rough Cuts: The Long Snout.

Update (1/30): The Rough Cuts version of Flickr Hacks now has color figures. Check out Jim's Squared Circle mosaic in the Flickr Hacks Preface.

New Zealand or Bust

Later this year sk and I will be taking a trip to New Zealand. For the past five years, sk has worked with a company that imports wine from New Zealand into the United States, so I've been getting to know New Zealand one bottle at a time for a while now. (Once you try a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc you'll never go back.) But you can only learn so much about a country by drinking their wine, reading books, and watching Lord of the Rings.

Luckily we have friends and fofs in New Zealand, and we've been collecting their advice about things to do and see for a while. But I thought I'd tap the collective knowledge of onfocus readers to gather even more advice. So if you've been to (or are currently in) New Zealand and you had a limited time to explore, is there anything you wouldn't miss? Please leave a comment, or email me directly. I should add that we'll be on the South Island for the duration of our trip. Thanks!

Yahoo! Hacks Down Under

G'day, mate. CNET Australia has a few excerpts from Yahoo! Hacks for your consideration: DIY: Yahoo Hacks. Be sure to read the article to yourself with an Australian accent for the full effect.

Also: Insider Tips at ZDNet and CNET. (hooray for syndication!)

The Long Rain

I have to complain about the weather at least once each winter. Here's the Corvallis forecast:
Corvallis Forecast
It's been gray and rainy for quite a while, with continued gray and rainy. Oh, and flooding. During stretches like this I imagine Ray Bradbury wrote The Long Rain after a trip to Oregon.

Bloglines filtering

If you subscribe to any of my RSS feeds in Bloglines you might be wondering why images aren't appearing in my posts there. Well, onfocus is a common JavaScript function and Bloglines changes any instances of onfocus appearing in a link tag to nofocus to prevent cross-site scripting attacks. Unfortunately, that means all of my image URLs are pointing to at Bloglines, and of course my images aren't at that domain. I knew choosing a geeky domain name would eventually come back to haunt me. ;)

I sent an email to Bloglines support explaining the issue, and hopefully they'll be able to make an exception for my feeds.

Update: Bloglines asked me to find a workaround, and they say they're still looking into it. I guess I could host all of my images at another domain, but that kind of defeats the purpose of having a domain. oh well, I suppose this is an odd problem for them.

Flickr Hacks Cover

Flickr Hacks has a cover!

Flickr Hacks

You can't tell from this tiny version, but seeing the cover is also fun because it mentions that Caterina has written/is writing the foreword—it must be true! It's great to see the book coming together. Click the cover to see a larger version at Amazon.

Monday Yahoo! Answer

And we have a winner! Congrats, Ryan. Your copy of Yahoo! Hacks will be on its way later today. Thanks to everyone who played!

The answer I was looking for: February 2005. You can read more about this moment in history here, here, here (my post), or here. And if you already have Yahoo! Hacks you'll find the answer on page xiv in the Preface. This launch was a turning-point in my perception of Yahoo!, and of course that release kicked off an entire year of suprising announcements from Yahoo! including acquiring Flickr, launching Yahoo! 360, launching My Web, and acquiring upcoming and among many others.

Sunday Yahoo! Question

Just for fun on a Sunday—I'll send a copy of Yahoo! Hacks to the first person who sends me the correct answer to the following question.
In what month/year did Yahoo! publicly launch their Search Web Services?
Be sure to include your name, mailing address, and site URL (if you have one)—and you'll need to be ok with me publishing your name/URL on this site. Employees of Onfocus Holdings, Ltd. are not eligible, this is for entertainment purposes only, void where prohibited.

Update: oops, I didn't realize this question would be so confusing. Here's a hint: try searching for the phrase yahoo search web services launch at Yahoo! Search, and check out the date on any of the announcements from Yahoo! sources in the results.

More Mexico Photos

If you like photos of statues and water check out 10 more photos from my trip to the Mexico Coast.

Mexico Cruise Photos

Happy New Year! I spent the last week or so on a ship with sk's family and 2,000 of my closest friends—cruising around the Mexican Riviera. Here are a few photos I took along the way.

cruise ship

The cruise left from San Francisco, and it was a bit of an adventure getting there. We missed a couple of flights sitting on Highway 84 with traffic stopped all around us. Portland was a sheet of ice as we flew away, and we finally got to SF at 3 am. Luckily we built in an extra day in SF so we didn't have to worry about missing the ship.

San Francisco

The first stop was Catalina Island off the coast of California where I snapped this pic of P&A:

p and a palm

Puerto Vallarta was my favorite stop. I enjoyed the surreal sculptures along the waterfront.

surreal sculptures

Here's a picture of P looking at some colorful, intricate Huichol Indian art in Vallarta.

huichol art

On Christmas day, sk and I hiked to the top of the tallest working lighthouse in the world, El Faro. This dog was carefully guarding the lighthouse.

el faro perro

It definitely didn't feel like Christmas day while hiking straight up in 90 degree weather. We had a great view of Mazatlan from up there.

The last Mexican stop was Cabo San Lucas, here's a panoramic of Cabo I took from the ship. sk and I kayaked around the bay, and we saw some of the best scenery of the trip. I was kicking myself for not taking a camera along.

mexico sunset

It was nice to see the sun and spend some time away from the world, but it's also good to be home. I have a bunch of bold items to unbold in my inbox and newsreader, so I'll be digging out for a few days. I also have a bunch of photos from the trip, and I'm hoping to put together a gallery with larger photos in the next couple of days.