I spent a bit of time pruning/nuking my Flickr account. I let my pro subscription lapse again after a brief period of paying again. Flickr was one of the first web services I ever paid for, and I’ve had an account for my of the time I’ve been online. (See also last.fm, which just turned twenty, and my own account is about nineteen and a half years old!)
Since the end of my subscription I’d had a few rather clumsily worded reminders that my account, having been previously pruned, was still in breach of their regulations for the number of hidden photos they’ll host for free. I get it, online storage isn’t free, and a website like Flickr can be completely ruined by the sheer weight of its historical user base and their users’ uploads. But it’s still so hard for me to simply walk away. So I pruned the images to less than a thousand again – quite an enjoyable process in itself, picking which should stay and which should go.
I’ve just realised that a good mechanism for Flickr would be a Tinder-esque ‘swipe left/swipe right’ – when you approach a thousand uploads and your account is due to be limited, you’re shown ten or twenty of your photos and you’re asked which you want to keep and which you could happily get rid of. I dunno. I suspect their current practice of just sending sternly worded emails and not gamifying image curation is probably working out better for them in the long run.
But anyway. I’ve cleared the log jam and started uploading a few best-ofs from the year that I’ve missed since unsubscribing. I still browse Flickr once every few days to keep up with a number of people, particularly those for whom I feel their work needs the breathing space Flickr provides over Instagram’s claustrophobic, only-relevant-shortly-after-being-posted vibes. It is so much more enjoyable paging through someone’s photographic archive on Flickr versus Instagram. But anyway, these are all arguments that have been done to death. I suspect I’ll go through yet another cycle of re-subscribing to Flickr again in the next six months or so.
Phil Gyford talked briefly about the Guardian app getting worse, and his own Today’s Guardian website which after all these years is still a fantastic experience. He remains modestly proud of it and as well he should.
(He also recently launched a new blog directory which looks extremely promising although I need more time to have a nose around. It has quickly become, as he describes it, another once-in-a-decade hit for him – I can’t wait to see what Phil comes up with in 2034!)
On the subject of the Guardian reading experience, I had been using the Libby app to read books and magazine made available for free by various local libraries of which I am a member. But Libby has become quite clunky on the devices I tend to use – admittedly my own fault for obstinately using older devices, though as Phil points out, how they can make an app which is just displaying block of text and images slow is just insane.
Recently I tried out Press Reader again. Press Reader is a service I’ve been aware of for probably fifteen years or so and it simply provides full scans of newspapers and magazines from around the world. Being able to browse the NZ Herald and The Listener and all kinds of magazines over the years has never not been a massive novelty to me. I would occasionally grab a free trial and dig in.
But Press Reader is now also available via my library account, linked to via the Libby app – which doesn’t make much sense to me, as Libby already provides access to magazines which you ‘check out’ digitally within that app.
Libby now lets you start a one month account with Press Reader, linked to your library account, which in turn allows you to view and download unlimited newspapers and magazines from around the world – including a large number that are also available through Libby.
It’s a very confusing landscape and it always makes me wonder how much XYZ Local Authority is paying for these services, or whether it’s based on the number of users. I’m sort of glad I don’t know.
The bottom line though is that where Libby has become a bit clunky and cumbersome (again, only via my own use of a c.2016 phone and a c.2013 iPad), the Press Reader app is acceptably snappy. The app navigation can be a tiny bit slow, but crucially once you’re in a publication, sliding between pages and double-tapping to zoom in feels about 95% as good as it should do. So that’s good.
I’d recommend Press Reader, although the barrier to entry seems to be: get a library account, log in via their e-library services, download Libby, sync up your library account with a Libby account, tap a link in Libby which sends you to Press Reader, create an account in there and pray to god it syncs with the Libby account, and then download the Press Reader app, logging in and once again praying the account syncs up correctly. It’s a bit much and I do wonder how many people bother.
But once you’re in, the service and range of publications available is great.
To ‘Heist’ in St Leonards for dinner and drinks, which is a lovely little place. A sort of food hall, home to a number of small food and drink producers, with various areas of seating and a kind of open policy for sitting wherever you like and ordering whatever you like from whichever provider you want. It means you can combine various orders, and do as we did, having a weissbier and a sour beer from one area, something from the Japanese section, and the these delicious tofu puffs from the Korean place, served with some magical blend of seasoning, crushed up corn flakes and popping candy. We had a second serving of what was meant to just be a starter of these – another nice thing you can do at a food hall like this.
It all adds up to a calmly bustling space that welcomed everyone from families with small children, couples on date nights, and even a salty merchant navy type who propped up the bar. (We did visit on a day when England were playing a World Cup match, so maybe it was quieter than normal…?)