Notcot.org: Novel Design

I stumbled across notcot.org this morning via a post on freshome. Notcot describes itself as “…a place to collect and share fascinating images/links.” In theory it’s a digg for images, in practice most of the images are of unique product or website designs. The result is a site that’s much more interesting than what an image section on digg would produce.

The first thing that actually struck me about the site this morning was the layout. The site features a 3×16 grid of 250x250px images surrounded by a polaroid picture type square that contains the post’s description, link, voting buttons, etc. Pretty cool, can’t say I’ve ever seen anything quite like it.

PS. They’ve got a similar site for food images, tastespotting.

Is Reddit better than Digg?

This week has been a bit of a revival in terms of my computer usage, I’ve found a great photoshop alternative and now I think I may have found a Digg replacement. A few weeks ago my good buddy notian mentioned that he had started reading the social news site reddit, I’d heard of the site before and never gave it much thought. But, I decided it was time to give Reddit a chance, I added the main RSS feed to my netvibes News tab at the end of last week. As I checked the feed more frequently I started to see a lot of stories that weren’t popping up on my digg widget, my slashdot feed or any of the other main news feeds I read. I started checking out the site a few times durning my work day, created an account so I could vote and I’ve barely checked digg since.

For several months now I’ve found Digg a little frustrating to actually use. With 6 main categories – each with numerous sub-categories, a video section and (a useless) podcast directory there is just way too much content to be able to follow casually. The customizable topics feature helps a little, but with such a large userbase the front page content changes really quickly. I always feel like I miss tonnes of good stories. Digg’s comment system has never been great, but the new threaded/fetch on request comment system is borderline terrible – I don’t understand how they cannot afford enough servers to push out their comments properly. I was a pretty big fan of Digg’s last redesign when they first launched it, but when you compare it to reddit’s simplicity, Digg looks like the 40lb gorrilla it really is.

Reddit’s design is far more functional/utilitarian than digg; it has good navigation, a lack of ads and it’s just plain usable. Reddit’s story placement algorithm is far superior to digg, they seem to use a formula based on votes over time, possibly taking into account click-thrus and comments over time as well. I’m finding that stories stay on top of the list much longer – up to a day or more – and new stories generally rise to the top a lot more slowly; this has the net result of giving me more time to look at a story. I know that if I don’t read the story right away it will still be there later – Reddit also has a ‘saved’ stories feature that I just noticed, again making it easier for me to read a story later. The actual content of the stories appearing on the front page seems to be quite diverse, stories related to a given subject seem to move up and down the list in an organic wave. Reddit seems to be a bit more of a Zietgiest. It’s hard to say whether or not their algorithm would scale well to meet the Digg’s traffic, I suspected it would.

If you don’t really care about getting the latest news right away and/or you don’t have the time to wade through a thousand stories an hour, give Reddit a try. You’ll still be getting your news way faster than your non nerd friends anyways.

Paint.net

I thought I would force myself to use a photoshop alternative this week, I’ve tried The GIMP and GIMPShop in the past, and found them to both be impossible to use. I decided to give paint.net a try, and I’ve really been digging it. I don’t do a lot of hardcore design work and paint.net has all the basic functions I use: resizing, cropping, measuring, stuff like that. Not only that paint.net loads in about 20 seconds and only uses 15 – 20MB of RAM. Photoshop takes at least a minute to load and tends to use anywhere between 80 and 300MB of RAM. Oh and if you need to open psds someone has developed a plugin.

Google + Double Click = Kittens?

Google announce their acquisition of doubleclick over 3 months ago. I having been wondering how long it would take for Google to actually start doing something with it.

This morning I logged in to my DFP (that’s “DART For Publishers”, or “DoubleClick Advertising, Reporting and Targetting For Publishers” – what a wonky acronym) account to put up some ads for work. I noticed two new things that I assume are are a sign that Google has started to take over DoubleClick’s tool development: 1) A new more friendly logo 2) a new menu item called “dfp dashboard beta.”

I love betas! So I open the dashboard. It looks fairly AJAX-ey, web 2.0-ish, vaguely reminiscent of the Google Analytics dashboard. The DFP dashboard (DFPD??) had a limited number of options, the only one that really seemed promising was the “widget catalogue.” The widget catalogue contains about half a dozen widgets related to the DFP product and two rather intriguing widgets. A sudoku widget – seems a little strange to have a game in a productivity tool. And something called “kitty” – a widget that displays pictures of cute cats.

Take a look at Kitty In Action[PIC].

Yup, that’s right folks, I knew this merger couldn’t be all evil. Apparently Google + DoubleClick = Kitty.

Only, I thought Google was a dog only employer.