I took Josie to the playground the other day. She delights in climbing on and over the various playground structures, and has recently been doing a lot of independent creative play in this way. She wanted me to play with her, so I happily obliged.
I try to fight the Princess Industrial Complex that maligns young girls today, so I try to introduce gender neutral play elements whenever I can. In this instance, I suggested to Josie that she and I were astronauts on a mission to Mars. She immediately jumped to the helm and started piloting our ship.
I shouted "Oh no, the engine blew out! We're stranded in space!"
Josie said "Don't worry dad, I'll fix it." She then went to the imaginary airlock, donned an imaginary space suit, secured an imaginary helmet, affixed an imaginary tether, and then went out into deep space to fix the engine!
I stood agape as I watched my four year old daughter perform these tasks in the correct order. We've never talked about why astronauts wear space suits, let alone use a tether. Although I've watched a number of Nova and NASA TV episodes with her, I don't recall ever seeing an actual EVA documented such that she'd learn the importance of a tether; yet she knew to wear one so that she wouldn't float away!
I was a very proud parent that day.
Before Josie was born we set up a blog for her. The intent was for Angela and I to record Josie's early years in a fun way, without all the tedium of a traditional scrapbook. We wanted it to be low effort, high reward. We selected Posterous as the platform for Josie's blog, since it offered a decent product for zero cost and very little effort.
Posterous offered some great features for us: it supported dead-simple post-by-email and offered robust media management. The former meant that we could post to Josie's blog just about anywhere simply by firing off an email from our phones. Lots of other blog platforms support post-by-email, too, but Posterous's seemed to be so well baked in as to require no effort from us. Posterous also offers a decent -- though far from great -- application for both iOS and Android, so any kind of complicated post we might want to create could be done with that, too.
Where Posterous really shines, though, is media handling. Photos and videos attached to emails sent to Posterous show up automatically. No fussing with selecting sizes or transcoding videos. In the event that multiple photos are attached to a single post, Posterous generates a nifty little photo gallery automatically. It's super easy for us, the content creators, and extremely useful to all our family and friends who visit Josie's blog.
We'd been relatively happy with Posterous for the past two and a half years. But all good things come to an end. Two factors have driven me to migrate away from Posterous. Frist, Posterous was bought by Twitter. While Twitter hadn't mucked up Posterous much since the acquisition, they hadn't done much to make it a lot better than it was, either. Also, Posterous is shutting down. So there's that. The second big issue is that I finally realized that all our Posterous-hosted media lived off on its own, isolated from all the other media silos we use.
This last bit is the really important bit. I have a slowly growing collection of photos at Google, thanks to the confluence of Google+, Picasa, and Android Instant Upload. But I've also had a Flickr account since 2005, with more than nine thousand photos and videos. This represents the bulk of my digital life. To have another, separate, isolated repository of photos over at Posterous just didn't make sense.
Nor does it make sense to manually upload photos to both Flickr and Posterous. Sure, I could do something crazy with IFTTT, but that's just introducing more complexity by requiring that I create and maintain yet another account somewhere out in the cloud.
So I've spent the last couple of weeks updating the Habari post-by-email plugin to support pluggable storage mechanisms. I then wrote a Flickr storage plugin for PBEM that sends any email attachments to Flickr. This works a treat, thus far.
To make this all work, I've created a new email address for Josie's blog, and configured the PBEM plugin to check that account. Angela and I are whitelisted senders, so any emails we send to that account will appear as blog posts on Josie's blog. Any media attachments we include on our emails will be sent to Flickr, and embedded in the resultant post. This gives us all the benefits of Posterous with the added benefit that all of our photos and videos of Josie's life are part of my Flickr archive automatically.
Angela and I went to pick up Josie from daycare on Friday. It's always a treat for Josie when we both arrive to collect her at the end of the day. Her face lights up, and she hugs us both enthusiastically.
While Josie was putting on her shoes, the daycare provider lowered her voice and said "Something happened yesterday that I forgot to tell you about. Josie said something several times, and I couldn't figure out what she was saying. When I did finally understand, I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how you two would have wanted to respond..." Her voice trailed off a bit, and my blod pressure rose a little. What could Josie have done?
Her vocabulary has been absolutely amazing lately, and she seems to learn new words almost hourly. With her newfound communication skills, she's also become more than a little bossy. She says polite words in a not-so-polite tone of voice ("No thank you!"), so I was worried that she had learned a not-so-polite word and had used it at daycare.
The daycare provider looked at Angela and I for consent to repeat what Josie had said, which we nervously gave. Then she raised her arms out in front of her and said in a half-guttural moan "Zombie. Zombie".
Angela and I both burst out laughing, and I gave Josie a high-five. That's my girl!
"Scott has been working on that with Josie for weeks!" Angela said to the daycare provider. She was obviously relieved that this was acceptable behaviour for Josie.