January 2007

Flickr’s Dirty Little Secret: You Suck at Taking Photos

by Joey deVilla on January 31, 2007

[via Reddit] On her blog, ColorsPretty, Kara Barrett writes that flickr gives your photos a subtle “lift” when you upload them — namely running them through a “sharpen” filter and possibly altering the saturation.

Comparison of identical photos uploaded to Zoto (top) and flickr (bottom)

She writes:

This is a capture of the exact same photo. On the top is a thumbnail of my photo rendered on Zoto (3.0 beta) . It’s blurry and the detail is lost. On the bottom is the same photo thumbnail rendered on Flickr. Notice how sharp the detail and color appear. Unlike Flickr, Zoto is rendering an ‘accurate’ thumbnail of my photo.

The result? On Flickr I am fabulous, wonderful taker of photos. On Zoto, I am just a loser who can’t get a photo in focus.

Of course, if such processing is actually taking place, there’s the question of whether it’s desired or not. Perhaps there are some pro photographers out there who’d be horrified at the idea, and I figure that there are some people who just don’t like things being done to their pictures without permission. Perhaps flickr should take Kara’s suggestion and make the sharpening/saturation a default option that can be turn off if the user wishes.

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It’s Vista Day!

by Joey deVilla on January 30, 2007

It’s only fitting that Global Nerdy would be plagued with server and DNS woes on the general launch of Microsoft’s Vista operating system, but we’re back in business! Expect some more updates from me today, and in the meantime, allow me to present what we consider as the official comic of the day:

'The Joy of Tech' comic on Windows Vista
Click to see the comic on its original page.

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Pardon the Mess!

by Joey deVilla on January 29, 2007

We’re busy rebuilding Global Nerdy right now, and we’ll have the tasty tech news and commentary you’ve come to know and love before you know it!

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iPhone Shuffle?

by Joey deVilla on January 29, 2007

From our “It’s just crazy enough to be believable” file: It stands to reason that if there is an iPhone, there very well might be an iPhone Shuffle:

iPhone Shuffle Preview
Click to see the ad at full size.

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A couple of people have asked me how I've been comparing the Acer Ferrari 1000 running Vista with OS X running on my PowerBook (a 12″ with a 1.33GHz processor and a 1.25 gigs of RAM) — do I take the PowerBook to work one day, and then the Ferrari the next?

Actually, it's a little crazier than that. I take both. They both fit in a Targus knapsack handily, and considering that I'm used to carrying an accordion on my back, the weight of two laptops feels pretty minor. At work, I bounce between the two laptops, and there's also a desktop I brought from home on which I run Ubuntu. For years, I've relegated desktop Linux to an old machine with yesterday's horsepower; getting the Ferrari has freed my home Windows box (which I almost never used) for use as a Linux desktop at work.


The Tainted Vista ReviewIf you were commission a time-and-motion studies specialist to watch me at work, they would probably say that the application that I spend the most using is the text editor, typically…

As Tucows' Tech Evangelist, much of my day is spent either writing for the web or writing code, so the text editor is my home. I realize that my experience differs quite a bit from the typical office worker's, whose main tools are probably the Word/Excel/PowerPoint troika, but in the end, it all boils down to typing.

After bouncing back and forth between systems, an OS X annoyance has been made very clear to me. I've made a video of the annoyance and posted it below. You should make sure that your audio is turned up if you watch it:

If you play the video, you can hear my typing for the first couple of seconds, after which I stop. However, characters are still appearing onscreen. That's right — the Mac's not keeping up with my typing.

This problem doesn't appear right after boot-up, but it happens after a few hours' use, which suggests that something, somewhere is slowly hogging up system resources. This typing lag isn't confined to just one app, but applies to any running apps. Furthermore, the amount of lag varies with the application. On a fairly lean app like TextWrangler, it's annoying. On a more layered app, like Gmail chat running within Firefox, it's downright maddening.

Windows, for all my complaints about it, never shows this sort of behaviour. I can have lots of apps running, and as far as I can recall, I've never experienced this type of lag in either XP or Vista, even with Aero running; there's never that perceptible lag between hit a key and having the corresponding character appear onscreen. This is an area in which Vista clearly delivers the better experience.

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Googlebomb

Googlebombing won’t be the same anymore. Here’s what Matt Cutts wrote on the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog:

By improving our analysis of the link structure of the web, Google has begun minimizing the impact of many Googlebombs. Now we will typically return commentary, discussions, and articles about the Googlebombs instead. The actual scale of this change is pretty small (there are under a hundred well-known Googlebombs), but if you’d like to get more details about this topic, read on.

He goes on to state that since Googlebomb phrases are mostly “well off the beaten path,” they were considered to be a minor annoyance. Even so, there was a perception that Googlebomb results — such as a search for the phrase “miserable failure” returning George W. Bush’s page as the number one result — were some sort of editorial being published by Google. Hence the change to Google’s algorithm.

Cutts then answers an important question: Why doesn’t Google just edit these search results by hand?. The answer, while obvious to most programmers, may not seem so to laypeople. Simply put, with the number of users and searches and new ideas that come up every day, keeping an eye for for Googlebombs and then writing some code to circumvent them is impractical. The approach that most programmers would recommend is one of “enlightened laziness” — see if there’s a way that Googlebomb detection can be automated.


In many cases, it seems to work: searches for miserable failure and “miserable failure” (note the difference — one’s in quotes, the other isn’t) — now point to pages on which the Googlebomb is discussed rather than a page about George W. Bush, the target of the Googlebombing. Same for talentless hack and “talentless hack”.

But how about the Googlebomb in which I have a personal stake? By this, I mean the phrase deadbeat ex-housemate, for which the personal weblog of my deadbeat ex-housemate — who owes me thousands of dollars for rent, utilities, the largest domestic phone bill I have ever seen (really, did you have to call London during business hours?), my being saddled with having to pay the phone company a $500 deposit just to get long-distance service and a borrowed laptop that was never returned — was the number one result. Is his blog still the number one result?

Yes, for both deadbeat ex-housemate and “deadbeat ex-housemate”. Honor remains satisfied!

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FoC*

by Joey deVilla on January 26, 2007

I guess we're going to have to drop Cory's name into casual conversation more often.

Hmm…no link to the review of Overclocked running in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly (which was started, incidentally, by another Web celeb, Jeff Jarvis), so here's what Noah Robischon is saying:

If you want to glimpse the future of copyright policing, video-game sweatshops, robotic intelligence, info war, and how computer geeks will survive the apocalyse, then this collection of shorts is your oracle. Studio Pitch I, Robot meets Dr. Strangelove. Lowdown The four-page opening fable is as absorbing and prescient as the gruesome 76-page war story that ends the book. Doctorow is rapidly emerging as the William Gibson of his generation. A

Kubrick, Asimov, and Gibson, all mentioned in reference to Web Celeb and Young Global Leader herr professor doktor Doctorow. Oy.

*Friends of Cory

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