Follow-up, PicLens awesomeness.

If you didn't read my last post about PicLens, you should. I want to highlight a few of the really cool features this addon has. I have had a bit more time now to play with it, and I'm very impressed. Even more so than when I started using it. Last night, while I was lounging around surfing the web I decided to check out the discover mode available from this Addon. The one thing I couldn't do was to take a screenshot of it to show you. I didn't spend too much time trying to get one, but it seems that the hotkeys for taking screenshots in OS X aren't available while using PicLens. But that's not a big deal, I'll try to explain what I saw.

If you've ever used StumbleUpon, then you've already been introduced to true web-surfing, you pick your topics of interest and off you go into the depths of the Web to find the very best the internet has to offer. Well, for the most part, I have had my share of crappy sites dished out by Stumble, but these seem to be purged out of the system pretty quickly by the thumbs up/down rating mechanism. So what does stumble have to do with PicLens? Well, PicLens has this discover mode where you can pick from a list of categories and simply surf the web. I spent a good hour or so looking at movies, videos, pictures and news that I would not have seen otherwise.

I was blown away by how easy it was to see "stuff". This is similar to finding new sites through Stumble, except your looking for media more than just new sites. When you're on Discover mode, you get a wall of stuff that PicLens has found for you. Then on the left hand side you have the categories I mentioned earlier. Or you can just click on Discover to make this list visible. The list is small, but I find that is sufficient for this type of websurfing. US News, US Sports, International News, Entertainment, International Sports, Movies/TV, Fashion/Lifestyle, Business, Science/Technology, Around the Web and a Feature. At this time, the Featured items is Wimbledon.

In typical PicLens style, when you click on this you'll get what seems like an infinite wall of media to browse through. I really like how intuitive this is and I like how they deliver information without interfering with the eye-candy.

For example, if you go to US News, you'll see a mix of pictures and videos. At the time of this writing, there are several pictures of Mr. Obama, amongst tons of other news-worthy pictures and video. If you click on any one of them you will see a small caption below the image describing the picture. Usually this is akin to the AP caption under the pictures in newspapers and news websites. Then you are also provided with a link to the full news article. This allows you to quickly browse through things that might interest you but it doesn't force you to read any more than is necessary.

A big plus is that they (PicLens) doesn't try to tell you the news story, it simply gives you a quick sentence or two, then provides you the link. The focus on delivering media in a very appealing way is good, and reminds me of the Unix philosophy, do one thing, and do it well. So many other cool apps try to please everybody and start deviating from their purpose, and eventually get ruined. I'm really happy that PicLens didn't try to add some sort of pop-up where you could scroll through the news article and read the text. It simply wouldn't work well for me personally.

Another category I browsed through for a while was the movie/tv section. I found tons of movie clips, tv shows and videos, and I found myself immersed in them. And so long as you have broadband, you'll get really good responses when you're clicking around. Don't like the video you're on? no problem, simply zoom out a little, find another and click it. No searching, no waiting for a million ads to load, no comment spam. Awesome. I think that's enough for now, I'm sure I seem like a fanboy now but oh well. Like my buddy said this morning, "this is one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time". I remember a bunch of things about computers that bring that phrase to life. They're like milestones in the ever-changing web world. When I first got on a chat room, when I first installed Firefox back in the pre 1.0 versions, the disovery of StumbleUpon, Craigslist, Google, this is one of those times for me. Thanks to the CoolIris team and seriously, keep up the great work.

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