Harshdeep 2.0

December 23, 2006

Fauxto – online image editor with Photoshop-like UI

Filed under: Web 2.0 — harshdeep @ 8:40 pm

Online image editors are a good case study of how Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) are evolving. It started with pxn8 that lets you do some basic operations on your images, including some filters. Then came pixoh, now called snipshot, that has even more limited functionality but you can move the image around on your screen as you can do in a desktop application.

And now comes Fauxto, with a UI unabashedly similar to Photoshop. It is built in Flex.

The functionality is ofcourse nowhere close to Photoshop. But one big advancement over other online image editors is the concept of layers

I frequently felt the need of Undo/redo while playing around with it. It seems to be the highest priority feature in their list. Number of filters is still limited.

It would be very interesting if they can come up with an API of sorts to let other developers write filters for them. They have a good platform and involving developers is always a good idea – they form a community around your platform and add extensions that you would’ve never thought of, or would’ve never found the time to implement.

Fauxto is still “way in beta” and sure there are bugs. Like if you apply Free Transform on a layer and move it, the layer goes blank. I’m sure they are working on it.
Among other things, it’s a proof-of-concept of the possibility for an RIA to have a UI similar to a desktop application.

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November 3, 2006

GMail Mobile

Filed under: Mobile, Web 2.0 — harshdeep @ 8:25 pm

Google just released a J2ME application to get GMail on the mobile phone. You can get it by pointing your browser here. Since it’s J2ME, there is a very high possibility that you phone is supported.

I installed the application on my Nokia 6630. It downloaded the mails quickly and browsing through them is quite fast. They say it keeps downloading messages in the background. The UI is pretty neat, and it can also display word and PDF files.

There are some issues though. If your message is too long, this app would just truncate it. If you want to read the entire message, you have to open gmail on the browser.

MobleCrunch reports that on Nokia S60 3rd edition phones, you should go to the app download page through the WAP browser (for some reason called “Services”) and not the Safari-based browser (called “Web”). Apparently, there is some issue in identifying the model of the phone when you are using “Web”.

It’s never really been a problem to check out my GMail account on my Nokia 6630. I can use the factory installed web browser, or I can pop the mail directly to the inbox and get SMS-like alerts for each mail (which generally is more irritating than useful).

But the UI and speed improvements are enough for me to switch to this app.

July 17, 2006

Labeling of maps by the people, for the people – Wikimapia

Filed under: Maps, Web 2.0 — harshdeep @ 7:11 pm

Some time back, I got hold of a PDA with a GPRS receiver. It was pretty neat but I was disappointed by the fact that there were no digital maps available for Delhi and surrounding regions that would work with it.

The task of labeling every street and corner of the world is mind-bogglingly huge and expensive. Add to it the complications of regularly maintaining it – it is impossible for any one company to do this.

This task is essentially suited for the community. And that’s where Wikimapia comes in. As the name suggests, it lets everyone label locations on the map. As with Wikipedia, there’s a good chance that someone somewhere is interested in the thing/place you are looking for and has already entered it in the database.

WikiMapia is a project to describe the whole planet Earth.

Every entry can be marked with an open set of tags. It makes search easier as users are generally interested in certain types of locations – restaurants, theaters, bookshops, parks etc. As data becomes denser (it’s already pretty dense for many regions, including Delhi), the search feature will become more important.

Along with the diversity and sheer amount of information, Wikimapia has also inherited the problems that vex Wikipedia. There is no guarantee of the accuracy of the user-marked locations and once in a while, you’ll come across locations like “Bunty’s old house”.

Some features that I’d love to see here

  1. Reddit-style user voting This is required to keep the content accurate. If some user discovers that a certain label is wrongly placed, he can give a thumbs-down to the entry. User gets a sense of reliability of the label by looking at the votes and sufficient number of negative votes can bury an entry. This mechanism can also be used to display the most popular locations in a region.
  2. On the handset This application is far more useful on a mobile device than a desktop/laptop. It may interpret my location from the GPRS chip on my phone and show me the neighbouring areas. Now that would be cool.

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