Mac Developer Roundtable Podcast

December 19th, 2008

Way back in November, the day before the U.S. election, I participated in another Mac Developer Roundtable podcast on the iPhone SDK. These are always fun to record, mostly for the back channel chatter on Skype while recording them. You can find the episode here:

Episode 14: The iPhone SDK

Those of you interested in Mac/iPhone development will find a world of resources at the Mac Developer Network. I highly recommend a subscription: these kind of peer-developed resources are what makes developing for these platforms such a joy. They deserve our support.

Quantified Self Meetup

December 15th, 2008

Last week, I gave a quick MemoryMiner demo at a meetup of the Quantified Self. This is a group of super-smart technologists, designers, writers, and the like, who recently formed and meet once a month. This time it was at IDEO’s San Francisco office, which is a really cool space in one of the old San Francisco piers.

I was pretty damn nervous about trying to present MemoryMiner in 5 minutes, but somehow managed. It was very well received: I had a number of people seek me out, and even some offers of help and support (including design help for some of the tricky time/place correlations I’ve been struggling with). The whole thing was recorded, but I haven’t seen the video yet, so I thought I’d post a video of my presentation at the Los Angeles Idea Project from this past June:

John Fox, Memory Miner LA-IP 2008 from LA-IP on Vimeo.

Coworking In Sunny Carrboro

December 1st, 2008

I’ve been “back home” in Chapel Hill, NC with my wife and child for the last week. I love coming back to Chapel Hill, the town where I mis-spent my adolescence. In addition to stuffing my face with biscuits and barbecue I’ve been able to take note of how incredibly hip Carroboro has become.

How hip? It has the first co-working facility in NC, a place called Carrboro Creative Coworking which, let me tell you, is many many notches above the Hat Factory in San Francisco where I normally toil. No offense to the good folks who created the Hat Factory (a true pioneer), they simply didn’t have the benefit of the truly forward thinking economic development policies that Carrboro has in place.

For many years now Carrboro has been referred to as the “Paris of the Piedmont,” but all kidding aside, it’s an amazing place from which many other American cities, big and small, could learn a thing or two.

And now, back to Objective-J and Cappuccino.

In Sunny Hollywood

November 11th, 2008

I’m in sunny Hollywood attending the Henry Stewart DAM Conference. It’s been fun to re-connect with the people in an industry in which I was so deeply involved. At its core, MemoryMiner is a DAM, so it’s easy to talk about the technical aspects of the software with these folks.

Later this morning, I’ll be on a panel discussing the use of Adobe XMP. There’s a major effort among the major industry players (e.g. Apple, Canon, Microsoft, Adobe, Nokia, etc.) to come up with a new, unified standard for embedded metadata in digital photos.

Naturally, this is something I care about, a lot. Tomorrow, there’s a meeting of the Metadata Working Group, which I’ll also be attending. With some luck, a standard will emerge for dealing with “regions of interest” within a photo, document or video. Who knows, maybe the work I’ve done creating an annotation namespace for XMP and RSS will serve as the basis of this standard.

In Jury Duty, Still Making Great Progress

October 29th, 2008

I’m sitting here in the Jury Waiting Room, which in San Francisco, is in a pretty schwanky place with sturdy wooden chairs and desks with power and free WiFi. Not too shabby.

Meanwhile, I’ve been making a lot of progress over the last few weeks, doing lots of polish to the app, as well adding the ability to publish and continually update Flickr sets. This comes a direct result of the work with Magnes and the Memory Lab. Here’s a great post about the lab:

This week, I’m really diving into using the Cappuccino Framework to make an even more sophisticated web export template (the 280 Slides app is an example of the level of polish possible). For a while now, the MM 2.0 alpha release has had the ability to load different web templates.

We’re getting fairly close to our first beta release, but there’s still a significant amount of work needed to overhaul the graphical relationship view which show the connections between people.

Good things take time.

Memory Lab at the Magnes Museum

October 8th, 2008

For the last few months, I’ve been working closely with the fine folks at the Magnes Museum in Berkeley on a permanent installation called “Memory Lab.” It’s a type of workshop, almost like a kitchen, where people can come with their photos and documents, get them scanned and annotated in MemoryMiner and walk home with a CD ROM of their work.

The Magnes Museum is definitely on the cutting edge of using social media tools to bring their work to larger audiences. Memory Lab and MemoryMiner will help to bring additional materials out of boxes in peoples’ closets and into a “clean, well-lighted place.”

One of the things that really appeals to me is the ability to get early feedback from both experts and novices on MemoryMiner 2.0, an early version of which is being used in the lab. For example, one of the newer features is the ability to create and maintain Flickr photosets from within MemoryMiner.

Here’s an example of a Flickr set created from MemoryMiner:

The exhibit is brand new, and I look forward to a long and fruitful collaboration. On Sunday Oct. 12, I’ll be giving a gallery talk at the museum with Francesco Spagnolo, the Head of Research at the museum:

Information about the lab can be found here:

The Joys of Embedded Metadata

September 18th, 2008

One of the top user requests I’ve seen is to be able to embed the metadata (aka descriptive information) that MemoryMiner creates into the actual photo file itself. For some time now, MemoryMiner has done a great job of using embedded IPTC metadata to automatically create People and Places as well as set dates, titles and captions.

Here’s a link to a screen movie demonstration:

In MemoryMiner 2.0, metadata which you create, including the all important Selection Markers used to indicate where a person is a picture, can now be optionally written into the file itself. This is done using a plugin, which uses the Adobe XMP toolkit to write the metatdata using the XMP specification, as well as the “classic” EXIF/IPTC specifications. Thanks to the fact that XMP is extensible, we could define our own namespace (namely ““) in order to describe our selection markers in a way that it easy for other applications to understand.

Storing metadata in the file is fantastic for a couple of reasons. The first, is that it means the work you do in MemoryMiner exists in a format that is completely independent of the MemoryMiner application’s file format (which is based on the open source SQLite database, by the way). The second is that the data travels with the file and can be used to good effect in dozens of other applications and services such as Adobe Lightroom, Apple’s Aperture, Flickr, and many others. Third, it makes it a breeze to transfer the annotation work done on one or more images from one MemoryMiner library to another.

I look forward to getting feedback from some of the early testers, I’m sure it’s going to be really well received.

MemoryMiner 1.86 Released

September 11th, 2008

Back with a quick maintenance update, MemoryMiner 1.86. This version has an important bug fix for the web export, to fix a problem where the Yahoo Maps portion wasn’t actually loading the map anymore. Oops. The fix involved switching to the “pure” HTML version of Yahoo Maps. As an added benefit, the maps load faster than the Flash version we had been using.

Also updated was the iMedia framework, which is what allows you to visually browse the contents of your photos, videos, music and web bookmarks. This version supports iPhoto Events, as well as sporting bug fixes and major speed improvements. The iMedia framework is one of the very best examples of the super high-quality open source code available to speed development. For more info on iMedia, visit

This upgrade is free of charge to all MemoryMiner users, and can be downloading from, or via the automatic update mechanism found within the MemoryMiner appliction (choose “Check for Updates” from the MemoryMiner menu).

And now, back to developing MemoryMiner 2.0.

Back from Italy

September 2nd, 2008

It’s been ages since I’ve posted. I know, I suck. But, family must always come first. It’s been a rough time of late with the passing of my mother in law, but things should be back to normal soon, especially since my son starts back at pre-school this week.

Meanwhile, development of MemoryMiner 2.0 has come along quite nicely, especially with the full-screen playback/annotation capabilities. Core Animation has really come in handy here. This should come in handy for the soon to be open Memory Lab at the Magnes Museum in Berkeley, more on which very soon.

Back to the grindstone.

Making the Invisible Visible

July 2nd, 2008

In a prior post, I talked about my experiences at the LA-IP conference, and about the general theme of tracing connections between people, place and time, in order to make the invisible, visible.

Here’s a video of a Radiohead song “All I need” which is my favorite tune from In Rainbows. It uses a simple split-screen to explore a day in the life of an ordinary (and presumably) American kid and an Asian child-laborer in a shoe factory.

I find this kind of storytelling to be utterly brilliant in its simplicity. I also have to wonder how long it will take before people look back and wonder why we were willing to go about our lives without taking into consideration the full impact of our choices.