Monthly Archives: August 2005

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I was looking for some photo gallery software for my wife’s photography site with a couple of strict criteria: it had to look professional, render fairly quickly, and be easy to administer. Oh, and I’m cheap, so I didn’t want to spend alot of cash (hence the anal consumer thing). After demoing countless products, I found one that stood out among the rest: Simpleviewer. It’s Flash-based with a simple, but elegant implementation. It uses the Flash – XML interface to pull in image and album information and is customizable to an extent. Oh, and it’s free (or a small $45 if you want the source). Best of all, you can also get this terrific admin interface. Written in php, it allows my wife to log into her website and administer the photo galleries – add, delete, reorder, captions, colors, and more. I also used the php functions provided by this program to learn more about php myself and ended up completely rewriting Simpleviewer from Flash to php. Of course, the Flash version is way more slick, so I’m reserving the php version for the two people who don’t yet have Flash installed in their browsers – it was more of a learning exercise anyway.

This was the best viewer/admin combo I found out there, free or paid. The fact that this was on the free end of the spectrum was icing on the cake.

Well, I’m sure there are already a billion sites that aggegate podcasts, but I’m just starting out in this phenomenon and this is the first I came across. Odeo uses tagging (a la Flickr and to organize the podcasts on the service (and there are thousands of them). You can post a URL to your own podcasts and they’re planning on having a service that would allow you to create podcasts from your computer microphone, an existing MP3, or over the phone. So far, it looks pretty cool, but we’ll see how good the content and the accuracy of the tagging is.

So, I haven’t yet joined the ranks of people who have completely abandoned the old paradigm of bookmarks and have started tagging them a la I was using Yahoo! Bookmarks in conjunction with Yahoo! Toolbar to make sure I had access to my bookmarks across browsers and over the web. Yahoo! Toolbar, however, doesn’t have universal support for all browsers out there (IE and Firefox are covered) and it has a bunch of other functionality that I frankly didn’t use and didn’t want to clutter my browser UI. Hence, my use of FavoriteSync. This is a nice little agent that runs in your system tray and automatically syncs your IE and Firefox bookmarks with a central server. You can create an account on FavoriteSync’s site, or you can select an FTP server of your choice. I sync with my own FTP server, but have tried using a FavoriteSync account and both work well. The sync puts an XML file on the server containing your bookmarks and the sync program is smart enough to do two way syncs and the understand that the “Links” folder on IE is the same as the “Personal Toolbar” folder in Firefox. There’s also a XSL style sheet that they provide to customize the look of the display on the web. Pretty nice for a free product!

I’ve been trying out Avant Browser and it’s really quite good. I usually use Firefox, but there are occasions where I know I need to use IE. Avant Browser is basically a new shell for IE and supports most of the functionality I’ve grown to love on Firefox. Tabbed browsing, robust ad and popup blocking, configurable toolbars, several good skins, RSS feed handling…all there. It doesn’t support the Yahoo! Toolbar, but I was only using that for bookmark handling and found a potential alternate for that as well (more on that in a seperate post).