On the suggestion of Phillip Torrone from MAKE, I've spent much of the past week adding groups to fastr. Previously, fastr only showed photos with certain pre-selected tags. This was a necessary restriction because so many tags are nearly impossible to guess. Using flickr groups makes otherwise difficult tags more guessable by adding some context.

I'm excited about groups because they make fastr more like what I originally had in mind, more open-ended. Because you can play fastr with any flickr group, there's no limit to what kind of game you might play. If you like birds, you can play the birds game. If you like cats, you can play the cats game. And of course, the reason Phillip was interested in suggesting this, if you like MAKE, you can play the MAKE game. The possibilities are endless.

In the process of creating the group version of fastr, I completely rewrote the whole thing. Most of the changes are in the background, making it easier for me to make changes in the future. But one major change you can see when playing is that you have to sign in now to play. You don't have to register (though you can), but you do have to choose a name first, which is checked for anyone already using it. This prevents name conflict and makes it more difficult to cheat, both of which I think improve the game. I don't like that you can't jump right in to a game now, but I think it's a worthwhile sacrifice.

After working out the new bugs I've introduced (I'm sure there are many), and upgrading the non-group version, I plan to add chat. I've avoided this previously because I didn't want to deal with the problems chat introduces, e.g. mean people. But now I can add chat only for registered users, and if someone causes a problem, I'll just delete their registration.

If you play the fastr groups and have any problems, I'd appreciate a note. If you play and don't have any problems, enjoy.


The Des Moines Register today published what must be their twentieth report on Iowa Governor and Democrats Looking Conservative chair Tom Vilsack's surprise Easter trip to Iraq:

The whirlwind trip with three other governors also gave the Midwestern Democrat, who is working to establish a command of world affairs, a key line on his resume as he looks at running for president.

I can see that resume already:

Foreign Policy Experience

  • Spent a day in Iraq posing for pictures and doing conference calls with press back in America.

"Almost subliminally, the governor is saying to activists, 'I have foreign policy experience,' " Sabato said. "There will be people out there who, without realizing it, check a box in their own mind that he understands something about the critical hot spot on the globe."

I know which box I've checked in my mind.

exploits war for personal gain

He hasn't even announced his candidacy yet, and I already want to vote against Tom Vilsack for President.