I made this, inspired by the geeky HTML jokes pool on Flickr.

 

Flickr's new mapping feature is very cool. I’ve only eaten gellato once in my life, and it was bought from the same shop as the cone this boy is eating, and eaten while looking out the same window:

Photo by robbed on Flickr

It’s something I never would have found without the mapping feature, and I’m amazed at how much it makes me miss places I’ve been before. That gellato was really good.

 

Two days ago, flickr was updated. The update slightly changed the formatting of pages on flickr. For almost everything on fastr, that doesn't matter because it's using the flickr API. But the flickr API doesn't provide a way to get a list of tags used by a group, so that part is taken straight from the HTML on flickr. When that HTML changed, fastr groups broke. It didn't break right away because the tags are only updated once a day. But eventually, none of the group games were working. I just fixed that. Thanks to 'j/gimmeacookie' for pointing out this bug. Or at least I think that's the bug that was pointed out. Maybe that was a different bug?

If you see something wrong with fastr, please report it either by emailing me or by posting a comment on any relevant blog post, and provide as much detail as you can, e.g. which browser you're using, which game you're playing, what exactly happened. As much as I'd like to, I can't play fastr 24/7 on a wide variety of browsers, so these reports are very useful in finding and fixing problems. Thanks, and sorry about the brokenness.

 

A few people have suggested that I should make a memory-style game based on flickr images. As I have told these people, this game was already made a long time ago. It's called Flick-a-Pair. As chance would have it, the person who made this game, Shelley Powers, was also the first to play fastr (from outside my house).

I don't have any plans to make another version of Flick-a-Pair, nor any other flickr-based game. It's fun to be famous on the internet for a day or two, but it just doesn't pay well enough to be worth all the time involved. I'm willing to waste my time on fastr, because I'd just be otherwise wasting my time playing some other game (most likely at Kurnik). But fastr is just not the business opportunity many have mistaken it for. It's just a fun little game.

 

At one point today there were 250 people playing fastr at the same time. It's currently down to about 120. I'm not sure exactly where the avalanche of traffic began (do that many people really read MeFi projects?), but it definitely picked up the pace significantly when fastr landed on del.icio.us/popular, where it currently sits both third and twenty-eigth (twice because I made the mistake I previously cautioned against by pointing to both randomchaos.com and www.randomchaos.com in different places).

I've had a few notes about bugs, most of which I've managed to fix today. One problem that isn't entirely solved yet is that there are few enough tags being used that some people have memorized them and are winning simply because they've been playing the longest. I just started using my new Flickr API key, which allows the game to show a random ten out of a hundred photos instead of the ten out of twenty it was showing before. That will hopefully level the playing field a bit, but I really need to add more tags.

Some people have suggested the tags should be random, but that's how it was when I first made the game (when just Jessica and I were playing), and it really didn't work. The problem is that people use tags that you could never guess from the pictures, like 500v50f or interesting or sarah. So I have to restrict it to certain tags to make it any fun at all. I just need to add more tags to make it more fun.

Other problems: people clearly want to be able to include links with their names, which was possible for most of today, until someone pointed out that it was also possible to insert malicious JavaScript in the name field (by doing so). So now it strips all tags. Eventually I hope to allow only link tags, but I need to remove most attributes (e.g. onload) to filter out problems.

People have been testing the limits of the name field all day, and I need to force the names to be a bit smaller to conserve space, but that's not a high priority. I added highlighting for your own name, so that should make it quicker to see where you fall in the list. But the list is too long, and I'm still not sure what to do about this.

Finally, the Google ads are awful. I don't want to just remove them because that would drop my pay for this project from the current $0.30 or so per hour to nothing, but Google continues to send various general technology ads rather than game ads. I was hoping maybe other people were seeing better ads until I saw a player named "spilt testing is obsolete," which made me laugh.

Later I saw a player named "split testing is NOT obsolete." I've toyed with the idea of adding chat to the game, but I'm pretty sure I won't, for a variety of reasons. It would be hard to chat and play at the same time. Also, there are enough people already using their player names as flame bait that I don't really want to know what chat would look like. And I also kind of like how the limitations of a username forces people to be more creative in expressing themselves.

I expect the numbers will die down eventually, but I hope today's surge of traffic will result in a steady stream of users over time. Despite all the problems I've discovered today, fastr is definitely more fun when more people are playing.

 

After making some improvements and posting to MeFi projects, there were just 72 people playing fastr at the same time. Surprisingly enough, it's still working. The first website I saw pointing to it was Tecnicalia, a Spanish tech blog. That made me think maybe it was worthwhile making a Spanish version. I thought it would be a fun way to practice a second language, and also let Spanish speakers play in their first language. But I haven't seen anyone playing it yet.

 

I made a game today.

Fastr is a game that uses flickr images. It loads ten images that all share a common tag, one by one, and you guess what the tag is. When you guess right, the tag will turn blue. Then you can watch the pictures until the next set begins. The faster you guess, the more points you get.

It's basically win, lose, or draw without the drawing, and more interesting pictures. I still have a few kinks to work out, but I think it's ready for some testing beyond Jessica and I. If you play it and notice any problems or room for improvement, please leave a comment here.

 

Flickr changed format and broke my previous bookmarklet. At first I thought maybe they actually moved protected images to a protected server, but they just changed some variable names. So here's the updated bookmarklet that makes it (too) easy to get the full size version of protected images:

Get Flickr Original

 

A few months ago I discovered that Flickr has no security for images. Flickr has a nice feature which allows users to assign variable levels of copyright protection on images, from full copyright to various Creative Commons licenses. Images with less restrictive licenses show an "All Sizes" link which will let visitors download the image in various sizes. Images with full copyright do not show this link.

But the copyrighted images are still freely available for everyone to download. Flickr is relying on obscurity over actual security to prevent downloads of copyrighted images. And it's not even very good obscurity at that. To find an image, we need to know which server it is on, the ID of the image, and a "secret" key that's added to the image address. A quick glance at the source of any Flickr photo page shows that this information is stored in JavaScript variables named "server," "id," and "secret" respectively. It would appear that they're not even trying to protect these images.

This isn't much of a problem as long as only people with enough technical knowledge to look at the source code of a page can find the images, but I suspect there will be a good number of Flickr users who be a bit upset when anyone can download their full-size copyrighted images with a single click. It is with my sympathies for these users that I publish the following bookmarklet that you can click when viewing any image page on Flickr to get the original full-size version of that image:

Get Flickr Original

My goal here isn't to facilitate the downloading of images that Flick users don't want downloaded, but rather to point out that Flickr has already facilitated such downloading. This is a public service announcement: Flickr has no image security.