July 2006

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Right after my last post on Zooomr where I whined about SmartSets not working well for me, I got an email from Kristopher saying that my SmartSet problems have been fixed.

Sure enough, when I logged on…

smartsets_working

Great work, Zooomr! It’s alway nice to see such quick response from the dev team. If only you guys could get that change log out, it would be that much easier to gush over all those new features and bug fixes… 🙂

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I’ve been holding back on doing a review on Zooomr until 2.0 is out the door, but it has been a week since the launch and still no official change log (as was promised by the devs).

So here’s my mini-review anyway.

What’s Hot

» Geotagging. The ability to tag your photos with geographical coordinates. Coupled tightly with Google Maps, it is a very interesting feature which, I suspect, can eventually be spun into a multitude of 3rd-party applications. TagMap is probably a good Zooomr example.

» Zooomrtations. Audio annotations for your photos. No online real-time recording feature currently but you can upload audio files to be attached to your photos. Like geotagging, this has potential for spin-off applications.

» People tagging. You can tag your photos with fellow Zooomr users, making photos part of the online social webbing that is so popular these days. A rather innovative concept that may take off with the MySpace/Friendster crowd. Earn your 15 minutes worth of fame by getting on the Zooomr Most Famous listing.

» Navigation. Zooomr has integrated the Lightbox user interface into the site, allowing you to view a specific photo without leaving the the main user listing page.

lightbox

On top of that, Zooomr also provides a sweet-ajaxy Inspector interface, which lets you call up the meta attributes of the photo in the current window.

inspector

» Trackbacks. The ability to see who’s linking to your photos. Can’t imagine why nobody else thought of it. Simple but great feature.

trackbacks

» Localisation. Zooomr comes in 16 languages currently. A very nice nod to a global user base. Not nearly enough sites out there cater for an international audience, so thumbs up to Zooomr.

languages

» Blogger-friendly. Free pro accounts to bloggers is a brilliant way to score publicity and brownie points for a startup. Getting users hooked on pro-only features early is a sure-fire way to get them to sign up for a paid account later. 😉 Unlike Flickr whose move to discourage screenshots kicked up a storm in the blogsphere, Zooomr has no such restrictions.

What’s Not

» SmartSets.The ability to build dynamic sets of photos based on a pre-defined metadata-based criteria was, for me, one of the highlights of 2.0.

smartsets_build

However, I never got it to work quite as expected for me. Initially, the smartset only picked up photos uploaded after the set was created, but after some patches, the smartset stopped working altogether. Re-creating the smartset didn’t work either [link to my travel smartset here].

smartsets_edit

» User Tags. I can’t seem to find a way to browse my own tags. The tag cloud in the Profile page links to all photos in Zooomrverse instead of my own photos. A nitpick perhaps, but I was hoping to browse using my own tags to troubleshoot the problems I was having with SmartSets.

» Signing Up. By default, Zooomr encourages you to sign up using a OpenID account. In fact, the sign-up page sends you to an account sign up page on MyOpenID. There is an option to authenticate using Google but it’s not at all obvious on the sign-up page.

login

If you created 2 accounts like I did, one with OpenID and one with Google, you are supposed to be able to merge the accounts. However I wasn’t able to do so successfully and ended up with a rather spartan looking error message.

error_merge

» Community & Feedback. Short of posting a comment on the Zooomr blog, there isn’t any way of submitting a bug or any feedback. Frankly, I’m a little surprised at this. With Thomas Hawk onboard as Chief Evangelist on the Zooomr team, I would think building proper community feedback channels would have been a key priority since Thomas is known to be pretty big on community-building.

This brings me to another surprise that 2.0 didn’t bring any specific community-building features. No interest-focused groups, no forums. Puzzling.

To sum it up…

Zooomr 1.0 was pretty interesting to explore initally, but 2.0 was a little disappointing. Smartsets was something I was really looking forward to in 2.0 but the execution has been buggy and a bit of a letdown. To take a contrarian view, without taking any credit away from Kristopher Tate and the Zooomr crew, I would say that Zooomr still has some catching up to do with Flickr on the little things that make online photo management such an ease.

Still, it’s early days yet, and I look forward to more good things ahead.

I’m keeping my Zooomr accounts for now, all two of them 🙂

[UPDATE] 25th Jul: My SmartSet problems got fixed!

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Cat's EyesCat’s Eyes Hosted on Zooomr

I bought the Canon 50mm f/1.8 recently and have been testing it out. Amazing result for a S$130 lens.

Oh and I’ve just started playing around with Zooomr (with a triple ooo), it’s looking promising so far. Version 2.0 is set to be launched this week but no word on the features. If I can get off my lazy ass, I will probably write a short review (if no one else has already done so).

PS: Zooomr loves bloggers

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