Well, I’ve finally done it. I’ve finally written a piece of software that makes me smile when I use it. Something that as far as I know nobody else has done. And a piece of software that everybody I’ve shown it to has gone “wow!”. And the best bit? Despite the fact that I should probably sell it for real money, I’m giving it away for free instead!
I’ve spent quite a few evenings over the last month or two working on version 2 of my beloved John’s Background Switcher utility. This started as an application that would periodically change your desktop background selecting from a list of pictures you’d provide. I’ve had a lot of nice comments and suggestions from the surprising number of people who’ve downloaded and use it.
Everything was going well as I ticked off the suggestions people had made until my friend Ian made the suggestion “why don’t you integrate it with Flickr?”. I had a look at the Flickr API and realised it wouldn’t be hard at all to do so I set about putting it together.
The night I got the Flickr integration working was one of those moments I’ll never forget. When I got it to select random pictures tagged with “beach” and a beautiful photo from a beach in California came up, then one from Australia next a large grin came across my face – I was on my own yet I said out loud “this is brilliant”. No, not my coding skills, but the fact that you never know what’s coming next (something that doesn’t happen when you look at random pictures on your hard drive). Flickr really is very good.
A few friends and colleagues have been testing the software for the past few weeks and once I realised that I could make it choose the most popular photos from Flickr rather than most recent everyone agreed that the quality of the selected pictures went up drastically. There really are some amazing photographers out there and I’ve come across so many beautiful pictures I’m building up quite a collection (for this reason I added a “Save current picture as” option so you can save the picture to your hard drive for future viewing).
Anyway, if you’re running a Windows computer and want to see what I’m talking about, I’d urge you to go and download and install it (it uses Microsoft.NET 1.1 but if you don’t have that installed already it’ll be downloaded for you). Put it in Flickr mode and type “beach mountains sunset ocean” into the tags edit box (without the quotes). Then double-click the tray icon a few times to see some of the fantastic photos that come through. Alternatively, you can just tell it to monitor “My Pictures” on your hard drive and be bamboozled by your own pictures!
Oh, and in the event that you don’t like it, I’ve put a lot of effort into the installer so it’ll remove itself very efficiently! All suggestions and comments are gratefully received. 🙂
Go to John’s Background Switcher 2.
Dude! That’s way cool! I love it! The flickr thing is totally awesome! I like the Monitor folder too, because I add files to my “Wallpapers” folder now and then, and didn’t like having to go back to the settings control panel to add the new photos. You rock!
Thanks Phil! Glad to be of service! 🙂
Excellent work John!
What I need is an option to revert to a blank screen in case anything dodgy comes up – given that I use it at work…
Maybe a checkbox “Use ‘May Offend’ Pictures only”…
Thanks Stuart. Apparently it won’t show ‘May Offend’ pictures but I agree, it does need a ‘clear picture’ option. I’ll put it on the list!