Flickr

technology

As you've probably noticed, I've been playing around with posting images from my Treo 600 via Flickr. I used to occasionally post things via email on the phone using mfop2, back in the days when I used Movable Type. I got out of the habit because I dropped the GPRS package; I just wasn't using it enough to justify the cost. But I missed taking spontaneous photographs — the camera on the Treo is pretty bad, but at least I carry it around all the time. However, another slight snag prevented me from taking more pictures with it, apart from the dodgy quality. With Palm Desktop on a Mac, there was no easy way (apart from emailing them) to get the images off to the phone and on to my Mac. That piece of the puzzle has been solved now, as I've got Missing Sync 4.0, which lets you mount the SD card of the phone on the desktop, and then just drag files on and off it in the usual way.

Seredipitously, this coincided with finding out about Flickr — an online gallery space in which you can share your photos with others. Flickr also lets you upload photos by email and/or post them to your blog, which is what I was attempting to do yesterday (more on that later).

Flickr1 is a fabulous service with a few minor glitches (it is in beta, after all). The interface is wonderfully clean and simple, and yet has a lot of impressive functionality. They're developing a thing called Organizr2, which allows you to view photos from different time periods, interactively zooming the thumbnails as you roll over them with the mouse. You can also create custom albums by dragging and dropping, which seems miraculous in a web app. Uploading photos is very easy, and can be done with the standard file browser dialogs, by email or with a desktop app (available for MacOSX and Windows XP). You can add descriptions and tags (like deli.cio.us tags) to categorise your images, and other people can comment on your photos.

One of the most addictive things is the tags page where you can surf other people's tags. For example, you can see pictures that others have uploaded under one of the tags that you use, or look at collections like 'blue' or 'architecture'. I haven't investigated these aspects yet, but it is also possible to form a collective album with a group of friends (for example all the guests at a wedding), or to mark your images private. I like the 'Calendar' page, which places your images on a calendar (duh!) and turns your images into a visual diary of sorts.

As I mentioned, there are a few minor problems. The page where you edit the settings for your blog instructs Wordpress users to use the BloggerAPI setting. However, I found when using this setting that the entry had a blank title, even if I set one up. This is a major problem when you are using the 'human-readable' URLs, as the title becomes part of the permalink. As an experiment, I tried the Movable Type setting, and this transmits the title correctly, but places the entry in the queue as a draft. There is some mention of this problem in the support forum, but the link to the solution seems to be broken.

There are also one or two minor interface problems. All of your account settings are found at https://www.flickr.com/account/ when you are logged in, but I stumbled on this by accident as the link isn't listed on your page. Other than these minor things, it's extremely easy to use and very well thought-out. At the moment, you can only have a free account, which limits you to 10 MB of uploads per month, and will only show the last 100 photographs in your 'photostream'. There will also be a 'Pro' version at some point, which removes or increases these limits, but there's no indication of pricing yet. Incidentally, if anyone fancies trying Flickr out, do let me know. If account holders introduce five new people to Flickr, they get a free 3-month long Pro account (though I see that expires on 31st August, so I don't have long!). You can see my latest Flickr shot in the box in the sidebar, or see more of my photos here. I can see myself becoming as addicted to Flickr as I am to del.icio.us.

1 My inner proof-reader keeps trying to insert the missing 'e'.

2 What have they got against the letter 'e' anyway?

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