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Baby Pictures

I was finally organizing some of the files scattered throughout my hard drive, and came across the below image. I think it was the first mock-up of, thrown together in the spring of 2007, soon after I’d decided I liked the name better than


I’d been on Twitter for a few months, so you can see how the “big form front and center” was already set in my mind. But I’d devoted most of the homepage to “featured” content (the old-fashioned editorial guy in me), and put the activity feed in the right sidebar. I also had more prominent images… something I’m still pondering for the site. What stands out the most for me, of course, is the stereotypical turquoise-and-pink Flickr-inspired color scheme.


Blog Us, Wear Us!

I just got my first Zazzle-printed T-shirt in the mail, and it looks pretty good. So, of course, now I want someone else out there to have one!

The two things I crave most for are greater exposure and usage, and perhaps moreso, thoughtful feedback. The site is still in its infancy, but I’ve collected a lot of great ideas so far via GetSatisfaction, and I’ve received tons of advice from friends. As resources permit I’m planning on making several improvements to the site, but I know there’s always more I could do.

I’d love it if you’d take for a test drive, then write up a short review for your blog. What do you think about the overall idea? What do you like about the site, and what would you change? Whether three sentences or three paragraphs, I’m curious about what you think.

Post your “Report Bad Drivers” review by April 30, 2009, and you’ll be entered to win a T-shirt. Light or dark color, basic or women’s cut, your choice of size. Just be sure to let me know where I can find your post!



Zapatag Shirts!

Zapatag ShirtThanks to online apparel outfits like Cafepress, Zazzle, Spreadshirt and Printfection, you can have promotional “swag” before you have anything to promote. So, in early anticipation of becoming the next internet sensation, I’ve made some basic Zapatag T-shirts for people who want to show off their inherent coolness.

You can even customize your shirt to add your preferred slogan (I couldn’t decide)… or even other images.


Real Geeks Ride

Real Geeks Ride

Zapatag is still but a baby, an amoeba, an early effort that’s barely begun. But that doesn’t mean it can’t step up and support a good cause. Especially when that cause is advanced by two great guys and meshes with Zapatag’s goal of making our roads a better place to travel. So is proud to support Real Geeks Ride.

Real Geeks Ride is a cross-country bike tour by two geeks — Joe Philipson and Carlos Urreta — who hope to inspire other geeks to bike to work instead of drive. They are not hardcore or even serious cyclists, and they plan to learn about bikes and the biking community as part of their 3,000-mile journey. They’ll be fully “geeked out,” of course, and will document every step of the trip online.

The ride begins May 20 in Pennsylvania, and ends August 2 in Seaside, Oregon. Hopefully, they’ll be “zapping” plates along the way. We look forward to watching their progress across the country, and in getting more geeks onto two wheels.



UnfuddleI’ve used countless bug tracking, ticket tracking, help desk tracking and general project management solutions. Some were overly simple, and some were overly complex for what we needed. All were great, essentially, provided you were using the right tool. Examples include Bugzilla, Flyspray, Dotproject, and Trac (installed), or BaseCamp, TestTrack and TargetProcess (hosted).

For Zapatag, I decided to try yet another option: Unfuddle. Why? Well, they’re a local company, for one. Two, they’ve got a great name. And three, their solution includes subversion and Git integration. Of course, I’m a beginner when it comes to subversion, and I’m not using it to develop Zapatag… but it seemed to be a differentiating feature that could matter down the line.

I wanted a basic, fairly customizable ticket tracking system. Something that was a step up from the static Microsoft Excel spreadsheets that my development team was haphazardly compiling from e-mail conversations and updating only periodically. And Unfuddle was the perfect choice. It has an elegant, straightforward interface, but with all kinds of granular functionality for those who need it. Tickets tied to milestones tied to projects, and a wonderful array of categories and other options to organize everything.

And I’m only using the free version, which allows only two users (my development team and I), doesn’t support file attachments, and a number of other advanced features like time tracking. But looking at the various plans, they seem well structured to allow a project to grow without breaking the bank.

Anyway, if you’re looking for something on the simpler end of the project management scale, but with lots of room to grow, check out Unfuddle. I’m glad I did.


Almost to Beta

After some ups and downs, substantial progress has been made in Zapatag development. I can’t stop cringing at how ugly the site is, but as long as the code works, pretty can come later. If I hadn’t somehow broken the mapping feature yesterday, I’d be asking friends to start beta testing this week.

I think it’ll be another week, now, before other people can start poking around. And they will have to be people who won’t hold the clunky, PaintShop-esque design against me.

Some friends have forwarded me links to a couple of new license plate reporting services, which is always a “good news, bad news” thing: good because this is obviously an idea that people find compelling, bad because there’s a pretty good chance these other sites actually know what they’re doing. One looks more like a .NET database class project than a live site, but the other has a gorgeous “Web 2.0” look with a smooth, beveled blue look and ads already in rotation. Zapatag won’t have ads… but it won’t exactly be making money, either.



Twitter Logo

The simplicity of Twitter is part of what inspired the version of Zapatag that’s finally being built, so of course I wanted Zapatag to interact with Twitter in some way. If all goes as planned, you’ll be able to zap a tag via Twitter. Provided you’re following @zapatag on Twitter, and include your own Twitter username in your Zapatag user profile, you’ll be able to submit reports via Twitter (and therefore by SMS as well).

Just post a tweet beginning with “@zapatag” followed by a space, the two-letter state abbreviation, a colon, and the license plate number. Anything that follows the next space is the text of your zap. It sounds a bit more complicated than it is, but the format includes spaces and colons so Zapatag can parse the different parts of your Twitter post. For example, this tweet:

@zapatag HI:ABC123 Illegal left turn on Keeaumoku Street.

Will zap the Hawaii license plate ABC123 with “Illegal left turn on Keeaumoku Street.”

Of course, zapping tags by Twitter will mean you won’t be able to include every detail you can specify at the Zapatag site, such as car or driver descriptions, map points, or emoticons. But sometimes you’ll want to quickly post a Zap via Twitter’s mobile interface or via SMS, and this is a great way to do that. Please don’t zap tags while driving, however. You’re liable to get zapped yourself, or worse!

Eventually, I’d like you to be able to receive tweets posted in your area… but that requires more map and math magic than I’ve got right now!

July 2018
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