Sunday, June 29, 2008

F-Spot's Import Rolls

I discovered F-Spot quite a while back and it immediately became my replacement for Adobe Photo Album: one of the last Windows applications to go in my complete move to the Linux desktop.

F-Spot continues to develop and improve with each release, and one of my favourites has to the the Import Roll feature.

I tend to import photos into F-Spot in a bit of a rush when I really don't have time to properly vet, delete, edit and tag them. I get around to doing that later.

The basic idea is that every time you import any photos, the application remembers when this happened. Photos with the same import time are grouped into the same import roll. You can easily filter on import roll either by selecting a specific one, choosing all after a given roll or all between two that you select.

Import rolls make it easy to come back to these photos later as a cohesive set without worrying about which photos mark the start and end of the import. The problem would be even worse if the dates of the photos imported overlap the photos you already have: properly distinguishing them would be very tricky indeed. Import rolls make it easy.

The only thing I would like to see added is the ability to add a short name or description to the roll. That would allow me to note things like "From Mum's camera" or "after holiday" etc. I could also shove some character in at the start of the name to tell me that I need to go through them, and remove it later when done. That would make it even better...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

AIM == Site usability FAIL

So I find myself needing to use AIM again: something I've not used for years.

I used to have an account, so I go to the site and go to the 'forgot password' section, enter my email address and it tells me they've sent me an email.

30 minutes later and no sign of it (and yes, I have checked my spam folder).


So I figure I'll create an account, which I always hate doing because all of the good usernames have already gone. The signup form has a kaptcha imagse for fraud defense. Fair enough.

So my chosen username is taken, and guess what? I have to do the kaptcha thing again. And again. For every username I try, I have to do it AGAIN!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thunderbird + GMail IMAP == "Almost great"

Yes, it's almost great.


Most of the time it's brilliant: labels appear as folders, starring things in TB stars them in GM too, creating a folder in TB creates a label in GM etc.

The problem is that sometimes authentication fails. I'm not sure where the problem is, but it's most likely a server-side problem (i.e. GMail).

Now, I'm certainly not going to complain that the free GMail service has the occasional outage with its IMAP server. As I say, most of the time it is fine. The problem is how Thunderbird deals with it.

It pops up a window prompting me for my password, with my password already pre-populated. So I hit enter, and it appears again. And again. So I decide to hit escape to get out of it, and it pops up again, and again.

While this is going on TB is of course completely unusable for other purposes.

Anyway, after a short while of banging away at escape it finally gives up and goes away for a while.

Then it tries to check my email again and decides that it has forgotten about my password, so I have to type it in again. And more often than not IMAP is still down so I get the box back again, leading to more escape pounding.


It's not ideal, so what would be better? Well, I'm no HID expert, but for me TB should account for the possibility that your password is actually fine, it's just the remote server that is playing up a bit. Perhaps it would be better to do this non-modally for a start so the user can continue to do things like use lightening, or other mail accounts. A non-modal alert could tell the user that it is unable to access the account, and provide an option to enter alternative credentials.

Without any further input from the user, TB should continue to try with the credentials it already has stored in the background, without interrupting anything else.