I noticed a few BookMooch-related YouTube videos today.

Here are some I thought were great:

He’s totally adorable.

Funny throughout. Starts with a hilarious segment about a high tech winery.


This is me doing a “lighning-presentation” at a conference in Copenhagen. The slide automatically changes every 20 seconds, and you have exactly five minutes to speak. I manage to almost injure myself by flailing about at the beginning.

Today is BookMooch’s two year anniversary! Yay!

As a birthday present to myself, I spent some frivolous time playing with the PicLens browser plugin, making it work with BookMooch. PicLens is a 3d image browsing program, mostly useful for sites like Flickr.

However, I thought it would be fun to browse books visually. This is what it looks like as you’re scrolling through the 3D book space at BookMooch:


when you click on a book, it zooms forward like so:


To make this work, install the PicLens browser plugin, and then click on the piclens icon Picl3 in your browser when you’re looking at someone’s inventory.

The PicLens folks made it very easy to support their plug-in — all that it needs is a Media RSS feed, which is just like the old RSS feeds I have at BookMooch, but with small & large images indicated in the data feed.

As soon as I got this working, I realized that this would be really useful for browsing large numbers of books, such as browsing topics, browsing nearby books, or sifting through search results.

Unfortunately, that would be actual work for me, rather than the 2 hours this took, because I have to make RSS feeds for those other pages, in order for PicLens to work. I might do that in the future, maybe.

There are a bunch of Flash-based image browsers out there, and that is probably the way I’ll go in the future to bring book-cover-browsing to BookMooch. With a Flash-based approach, every web browser could look at books using a 3d visual interface, and not have to install anything.

Here is a video I made of browsing someone’s BookMooch inventory with PicLens. You’ll notice that some of the books don’t have book covers, which is a little awkward, but it works. Also, I’ve noticed that I sometimes need to reload an inventory page before the PicLens logo goes “blue” to indicate it worked (technology, sigh).

Reserved books irk some folk

On another topic, I’ve gotten tons of feedback from people saying they don’t want to be notified of available books that have been reserved for others. Loud and clear, gotcha! I agree, and I’ve also gotten feedback from people that don’t want to even see as available on the web site, books which are reserved for others. I agree with that too.

I will be rewriting-from-scratch how the reservations feature works, so that reserved books are literarily not in a person’s inventory, and are only visible for the person they’re reserved for. That means reserved books won’t appear in searches, RSS feeds, or email notifications. And, when a reservation expires, it’ll be added-as-normal to the inventory, so people will get wishlist notified as per normal.

However, this is going to take me a bit of time to get to, because…

Taking a vacation: Learning German in Berlin

Last year I had the idea that I should spend one month a year living in a foreign city. Last year, it was Stockholm.

This year… I’m renting an apartment in Berlin, and taking intensive language courses in German. When I was 18 years old (21 years ago!) I thought my future career was teaching philosophy, and for that reason lived in Berlin for 3 months, gaining a little bit of proficiency at it. I’ve always wanted to come back to Berlin (I left weeks before The Wall Fell), and it’s taken me 20 years to get around to it.

I’ll be taking a more-or-less complete break from programming for a month, to clear my brain, and see how much German I can cram into my head!

If you live in Berlin, would like to meet me, and don’t mind listening to your language being mangled, I’m looking for an activities partner with an posting at Erste Nachhilfe.