The Power of Communities

It’s great to see that Facebook is opening up their platform even more for others to develop against. With that people are starting to think of the possibilities of using trust and community relationships to enable an even greater applications. And it’s nice to think that we’re already moving in that direction in a number of ways. Hopefully we can continue to hook more into facebook as that platform becomes more available, but of course we’ll also keep hooking into other interesting systems.

Amazon Wishlist and Review Support
Amazon Support is almost here…

Observing the Blog Creation Process

I find it really cool seeing parts of the creation process through mugshot. Sometimes I see brad upload videos to youtube, behdad put photos on flickr, and jdub add delicious links before they create a new blog entry.

Some people upload everything at once just before blogging it or they upload things and a while later a blog entry comes along. They are all different and unique in their process and it makes them fun to see in action.

I am Jack’s Geek Photographer

Yesterday I joined the ranks of many other geek photographers when my Canon 400D arrived. Thanks to the recommendations of many I’m really happy so far and can’t wait to take more!

And if you were on Mugshot you would have already seen my creation process in action as I added new albums to my Picasa. I can’t choose which service to use, Flickr or Picasa, so I’ll just keep juggling between them as I have free space.


Bullish on Finding New Applications

Walters had an awesome post showing off the cool new stuff on the Big Board Application Browser and there’s even more featuresf in the pipeline for the application browser.

We’ve been continuing to work on improving application browsing and adding some nice searching of applications. The default view from the Application Browser shows the applications you use in your desktop while the rest of applications you don’t use are not shown immediately. If you browse into a category you’ll see the full set of applications you have installed in that category. And searching is performed across all the applications you have installed, not just the ones you use.

Getting what you want and wanting what you’ve got

Searching for applications is where things get especially cool. We’ve essentially integrated the idea of an application install search with the regular application finder. The two actions are so closely related together it just makes sense to have them be the same.

Lets say you search for presentation and you don’t have Open Office Impress installed on your system. A typical application search system would just display no results. However the Online Desktop Application Browser searches not only your local system, but also the application listing to find applications that match your search terms and returns links to those applications inside the window. So if you didn’t have a presentation application installed before it’s about 1 click away now.

Next Steps

There are lots of next steps to improve this system. Already the application pages are wiki like so people who created or use the application can make sure it has updated and useful descriptions and icons.

Liferea Feed Reader

But we could also allowing tagging applications with keywords, which would help a lot of searches perform better. If Liferea and other RSS readers were tagged with the RSS keyword then someone could easily find it when searching for the term RSS.

Liferea Feed Reader with Tags!

Big Board and the Search Stock

Continuing my earlier post on Big Board and Your Personal Stock

The Big Board search interface is meant to provide a quick access search for a lot of different items. The search isn’t intended to be a Beagle or Tracker or desktop search replacement, it’s actually just intended to quickly search a small subset of handy items.

Deskbar Entry Searching Big Board

The system is heavily inspired from quicksilver and what the deskbar team has done, therefore we pretty much took the deskbar applet wholesale and placed it on Big Board. Currently we haven’t changed much of what the deskbar is doing other than changing it’s default search plugin set. But you figure the basics of application and web searching are included already, so lets not focus on that right now.

Searching You and Your Friends

Right now Big Board is setting what systems deskbar is searching by default, however we’re planning to dynamically change what search plugins should be available. Because the people in your Mugshot network have specified what online applications they use we can make the big board search adapt to search across those applications as well as your own.

Mugshot Network
Through these brave internet people you could search awesome photos and bookmarks and recommendations

With the current deskbar code base it’s a bit of a hack to have this working, we are pretty much shoving settings down deskbar’s throat. Hopefully lots of these issues will be cleared up when the code is worked on over the summer, thanks to the Google Summer of Code project.


Here’s an example of how it could work. Lets say between myself and my friends we use a mix of these accounts listed.

  • Flickr
  • Delicious
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • And blogs…
Deskbar External Accounts Search Results
Mix of integrated results from different peoples public systems

When I search using the Big Board search I can get results from all of those accounts even though I might not have a twitter account myself. The search runs over not only my online accounts, but the publicly available online accounts of my friends.

Enhance Your Network of Resources

A little while back tigert posted how searching delicious gave better results than searching for “free fonts” on google. This is in part because delicious is a strong network of anonymous people who are interested in bookmarking good sites.

Now take that idea of a strong network of anonymous people and make that network stronger by making them not anonymous. You still have the ability to search the anonymous world, but why not use your different levels of connections through different types of networks to build some kind of trust, at least a greater trust than you’d get from the anonymous internet.


Mugshot, Big Board, and the Online Desktop

Tomorrow night (wednesday the 18th) Havoc and I will be talking about Mugshot, Big Board, and the Online Desktop for the NYLUG.

If you’re in the area stop by and say hi. And anytime you can still talk about Mugshot, Big Board or the Online Desktop by hopping on our mailing list, IRC, or Community Group. Check out the contact page for all the details.

Update: The NYLUG requires pre-registration so you can’t just show up all “I know Havoc Pennington!” You actually need to register by 2:30 pm today.


Upload and Share on the go (without all that hassle)

I’ve been encouraging lots of people lately to get setup using various services from their mobile phones… because it’s fun. If you have a mobile phone with an ok camera and some data access you can do it too.

Look at me I’m working from the OLPC offices today

Here’s how I’m working it.

I added both my YouTube and Flickr accounts to my Mugshot Page and Mugshot does the polling of my accounts notifying people when I upload new things. With Flickr you can upload by email and with YouTube you can setup a mobile profile. Tada, now when I upload a new photo or video I don’t have to worry that they have the right phone or cell plan to see my stuff. And Mugshot just makes it so everyone else doesn’t need a corresponding account at all the places I have, or that they log into them regularly to see what changed.

I hope owners dont really look like their dogs
And I brought my dog to work

For a while I was trying to send camera photos around using SMS, but it never seemed to work. If someone was on a different network or phone didn’t allow photos or evil monkeys stole the message it wouldn’t seem to be delivered. However when I upload it to a site I can assume people will see it eventually and I can use the photo or video later in a blog post… like this.

Wooh! I made Beer Can Chicken (youtube video)

Quietly, Mugshot signup has become open to anyone.


all your drones are belong to (corporate) us

Recently friends of mine described being worried about their online presence in relation to sites like MySpace, YouTube, and Facebook. Their concern is that if an employer sees their public profile on one of these sites they might think badly of them and then not be inclined to hire them.

Kathy Sierra does well explaining part of this problem in her post Knocking the exuberance out of employees. Is it possible to hire bold, creative, smart, passionate, and independent people who live quiet lives of desperation at home?

Seth Godin relates somewhat to this issue with his writing on Change Agent where he describes the problems of hiring competent instead of incompetent people. Competent people are boring, they handle problems in the same way every time; but competent people are reliable and often in many companies this value carries more weight than someones ability to be innovative, adapt, change and essentially rock the boat.

So sure, an incompetent creative person might not have a profile on myspace, facebook, and other sites. But should they worry about the backlash of employers discovering that their lives aren’t as professional and responsible as their work? I don’t think so. And while posting pictures of yourself doing illegal acts is pure idiocy, actually it’s called “evidence”, having pictures of you and your friends having fun and possibly acting stupid probably means you’re a real person.

Some people have said it’s because I work in the software industry that you can get away with this kind of attitude. I think it’s having this kind of attitude that keeps me out of these other crappy companies and industries. I’d rather people were real about their lives and I wouldn’t want to take part in an organization that didn’t feel the same way.

So if you want to see the online profile of me it’s all here in my mugshot, feel free check it out. Behind this chilling professional corporate persona… there is someone who has probably signed up for too many accounts. In a coming release there will be even more of what I do online to look at, but for now you’ll get the idea.


Where Mugshot is At

Since the last time I blogged about Mugshot we’ve had a bunch of changes going on and are continuing to improve existing systems while also doing research into new stuff.

One of the latest changes we’ve pushed is a first version of the Where I’m at section. Currently this allows you to take a position on existing services by setting your account name (and thus setting up some public services for that account) or telling people how you think it sucks.

The where I’m at in it’s current state is only displaying this account information, we selected a small but diverse set of initial accounts to experiment with so we can get an understanding of how to display and access the accounts. As we’re learning more about displaying and accessing these accounts we’re moving towards the next stages of the system.

The next push of Where I’m at should include not only more accounts to relate to, but also subscription to those accounts. The goal is to make friend relationships on the mugshot system the same as a subscription to their friends activities on various sites and systems they entered. So when you set your digg account on Mugshot anyone who adds you as a friend will get notified when you digg something, likewise if your friend uses reddit you’ll be notified what links they like and dislike so you can take part in that as well.

So there are a couple cool things you get when doing this, one is that you can keep up with your friends and what they’re checking out on the web. Another is the simple and disconnected re-experiencing of events. Take this example, when you use evite to setup a party or event the evite system emails everyone after the event asking them to post their pictures and thoughts to the evite site so you can share with your friends. This re-experiencing is a very common activity, however what’s uncommon is for people to continuously use new systems (like evite) to post their photos and thoughts for this re-experiencing. Many people already have a place where they upload their photos, flickr, shutterfly, or picasa; yet new services spring up all the time trying to get people to use exclusively their system.

On the Horizon

Last week I observed more people watching TV, this time we watched Project Runway together and I have to admit it’s a pretty good show. Also we’ve got some great ideas for the client and will be looking for comments soon. Will write about all that later.



Havoc gave his keynote segment at the Red Hat Summit announcing the project our group has been working on for the past couple months. It’s called Mugshot and our team has been working on it for a little while.

If you’re looking to understand what Mugshot is, take a look at the blog and the developer site which attempt to explain what we’re doing better than slashdot comments. Take a look to Havoc’s post on Mugshot and Social Networking for a good comparison of what we’re doing to other things.

I wanted to describe a little of the design of Mugshot and what went into that, it’s late for me so I’ll keep this first one brief.

Link Swarm

The Link Swarm (dev) part is designed around this idea of Swarming (read that link, no really). When someone shares a link to a set of friends there is a building of momentum surrounding that share activity that takes place when the people involved are available.

This is how most of the activity on Mugshot is taking place right now. Shares are not meant to be invading and because of the way the swarming works you can look at a new link on your own time; unless that link becomes too interesting to not see what everyone else is looking at. This came from some researching and observing of how people share links through email and IM and other ways; and what effect the method of sharing has on the way people share them. We’ve created a new method for sharing which hopefully creates a new effect.

The effect is awesome, I’m not sure how else to describe it. You can try to slap feature labels on it, like comments or group chat but the effect is not any of those things. Saying you have to experience it is kind of a copout but I’ve tried describing how it works to others and I’ve failed. It’s fun, a few people said it’s “like crack” but they could have been on crack at the time and just talking about that.

There’s lots more to do on this, which is why we created this as an open project, hoping others would enjoy it and be interested in helping out in whatever ways they’d like to.

Technical Confusion

Just to clear a little confusion, there is a Windows Client as well as a Linux Client and both work equally well. Of course with out the server and an invitation / account neither is very useful to you. Don’t worry those invitations are coming soon!