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17 Year Old Creates Flickr Competitor 224

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the any-kid-in-a-garage dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch has an article up on a new Flickr competitor called Zooomr. The interesting thing about all of this that it was developed in only three months by a 17 year old and to top it all off, the site is currently localized in 16 languages."
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17 Year Old Creates Flickr Competitor

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  • by Kickboy12 (913888) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:30AM (#14913636) Homepage
    Although it is nice to see someone so young get the attention they deserve, this isn't unique. I can personally vouche there are thousands of people between the ages of 15-18 that have the potential to create things like this. In terms of the technology behind this type of website, I've been working with it for almost 2 years. The problem with people in this age group getting noticed, or getting the attention they deserve, is quite simply a financial issue.

    Not to gloat, but I've created some pretty usefull projects and technologies in my time comperable to this one, just as simple side projects. However, most of them don't make it past a few months of development for one simple reason: I can't financially support it. As I just noticed when I tried to load the Zoomr website, the ammount of money needed to buy a server that can support such a community is overwhelming, especially for someone in the age group of 15-18 who's primary concern to buying lunch every day.

    I would love to see more projects of this calibur come from this same younger generation, and I would love to be part of such projects. But getting ones foot off the ground is the first, and hardest step towards this success.

    Kristopher Tate, the 17-year-old who make Zoomr, will undoubtedly become noticed by companies looking for such ambitious programmers. But he got lucky; the rest of us aren't so fortunate.
  • by humankind (704050) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:35AM (#14913650) Journal
    Good for this kid. He's not necessarily a genius, but he is atypical IMO. Not because other kids his age couldn't do the same, but because most other kids his age aren't because they're being sedated by mass media.

    When I was 14 I was doing programming for a Fortune 500 company; when I was 15 I wrote and designed the accounting system for my city's municipal water company; when I was 16 I wrote my own BBS system, which got the attention of Bell Atlantic who then contracted with me to develop a prototype of one of the first online electronic yellow page systems. By the time I was 17, I had written software for Disney, the United Nations and plenty of other companies. I really don't think I was special... I just made the most out of my time and resources. If I had unlimited access to a Playstation or 500 channels of television when I was a teen, I'd probably be working for an insurance company or a restaurant instead of being self employed and successful doing something I truly enjoy.
  • by forkazoo (138186) <wrosecransNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:37AM (#14913657) Homepage
    Indeed, many people have made similar technological things. I count myself among them. By 18, I was working at a small local phone company, running their website. A ton of money was probably made from the orders that went through the site. But, it wasn't especially glamorous. It was like any other "E-commerce" site at the time, really. And, the company wasn't about to advertise the fact that their tech staff was extremely inexperienced.

    So, I won't bow down to this kid from a technological standpoint.

    But, shit. He did his own thing, and he managed to get the word out about it. My hat is off to him as a self promoter. Nobody ever heard of me, so he pretty much has me beat from that angle... Even if his website is dead.

    Lots of guys like me and the parent poster have a reasonable amount of skill with technology, and did so at a rather young age. We all had neat ideas. He made his idea. That deserves respect. My real time strategy game, for example, still only exists as notes on scrap paper, and the start of a header file for a prototype...
  • Google ID? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:40AM (#14913672)
    The article says you can log in with your account from several other services. All are covered by OpenID except one - Google! Did Google open up some kind of authentication API while I was sleeping?
  • by eobanb (823187) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:40AM (#14913674) Homepage
    I feel like Zooomr's use of OpenID alone is reason to celebrate. I mean so far OpenID has been used by, uhm, LiveJournal...and that's just about it. It's a really underrated technology.
  • by woolio (927141) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:41AM (#14913677) Journal
    Kristopher Tate, the 17-year-old who make Zoomr, will undoubtedly become noticed by companies looking for such ambitious programmers. But he got lucky; the rest of us aren't so fortunate.

    I'm not sure this kid getting notice is a good thing for him...

    I'm not sure how fortunate he will be. If Ebay can get sued for the "Buy It Now" feature, how long will it be until Flickr [or another compnay] sues the 17yr-old for patent infringement? [Or maybe they will wait until he turns 18]

    That is, when his thing takes off and starts to compete, I can see Flickr sueing him into smitherenes. [I didn't read the article:] And since he probably hasn't taken the necessary steps to hide behind his own cooperation, this kid will be paying for more than just college loans...
  • by humankind (704050) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:54AM (#14913718) Journal
    ...by age 30, had you moved out of your parents basement? ...by age 40, had you kissed a girl?

    I moved out of my parents house when I turned 18. I'd post the number of women I've slept with but I'm worried my current girlfriend would read this and be horified, not that I want to know how many men she's slept with either.

    But ha ha, I get your funny joke... in my case I didn't match the stereotype though.
  • by Anthony Boyd (242971) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:55AM (#14913721) Homepage
    The interesting thing about all of this that it was developed in only three months by a 17 year old and to top it all off, the site is currently localized in 16 languages.

    Localization systems are really easy once you know how to do them. I used to be intimidated by such things, but then I started making phpBB mods. I saw that the phpBB localization system was basically a set of arrays of text strings that gets loaded depending upon the user settings. Then the array is used as variables to drop in the appropriate text. I've since seen some better systems, and mostly I'm impressed with how simple good developers can make it.

    I put some of that into practice for Agitar, a company whose site is available in English & Japanese. I don't speak Japanese, I just added some tweaks to a Movable Type system, and voila, two fields per entry. I do the English, and any employee who speaks Japanese will enter a translation. I suspect that I can create a basic i18n framework for PHP in an afternoon.

    What would be really cool would be if he did the translations himself. Does he speak 16 languages? Or did he sit with Babelfish or Google, and nurse some automated translations into something sensible? That's the step that takes talent or hard effort. I would be impressed if he did that completely without outside help. For that matter, if he has a system in place for people to upload translations, have them verified, and be automatically put into effect, that would be impressive too. I tried such a thing, but I just couldn't find good ways to deal with the character sets and launder data that is so open-ended, without human inspection.

  • by humankind (704050) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:01AM (#14913739) Journal
    I was doing a lot of subcontracting when I was younger. When I was working for the Fortune 500 company, my father got me that job and he handled it all. So I know nothing about what the law was at that time. However, when I was younger and working, people didn't seem to care about my age except they were concerned I was so young I wouldn't be responsible enough to work on something so important to their business... so I had to be that much more dilligent.

    Someone modded my post a "troll". That's really sad. I know there are people here who are big gamer fans and I didn't mean to malign those who like to obsess over sitcoms and shit like that. It's just not what I did, and I honestly think if my parents hadn't made an effort to not expose me to much TV during formative years, I wouldn't have had the skillset I have now. I'm very grateful to them for it. Some here, apparently resent it, but that's not my fault. I'm only trying to empower others, and not really brag about myself... I'm just saying, you can do what this kid has done; I know because I did stuff like what he's doing too. You just have to use your time and energy more wisely. I don't think playing Halo several hours a day is going to get you a great job... your milage may vary... but don't take it out on me.
  • If I had unlimited access to a Playstation or 500 channels of television when I was a teen, I'd probably be working for an insurance company or a restaurant instead of being self employed and successful doing something I truly enjoy.

    I think I got your idea, but you didn't quite hit the nail on the head. See, I had cable TV and i've been enjoying videogames since I was a kid. But I learned to program nifty stuff like you, and I cracked my first videogame when I was 12. By 18 I cracked my first shareware app (curse those register screens :P ). Currently i'm working with an MVC framework for PHP that I designed myself. I work in an e-business company.

    I really don't think having videogames or cable TV will make a difference. What really matters is the education and the interest in Science that you're raised with.

    See, my dad always bought me science books when I was a kid. Science for kids, that is, with nifty graphics and all that. I really have to say his effort was worth it.

    About your talent, I really think you're a gifted individual, there are people who even with good circumstances around them, have trouble learning to program a "hello world". A potential problem with gifted people is that if they don't recognize their gifts, they might end up judging others too harshly, crushing their own self-esteem. Don't make that mistake.
  • is this a PR stunt? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by moochfish (822730) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:20AM (#14913800)
    Not to troll, but I find this whole thing a little odd.

    In the terms of service: "By accessing the web site Zooomr (hereafter known as the "Web Site"), a service of BlueBridge Technologies Group..."

    While both the summary and TFA seem to focus on it being developed by a 17 year old in three months, the website has job postings. The article seems to gloss over the fact the entire project is sponsored (owned) by some company. Is this a case of sensationalistic journalism? This doesn't seem like a case where someone hacked it out of their basement. It seems unlikely the company picked it up AFTER development started since no mention of the company is made in any journal entry. So if the company is backing the project financially, am i the only one who finds it odd that it is not mentioned in any journal entry? It's a little weird that he's the face of the project, but it could be a PR move. It definintely doesn't add up the way the article's author seems to want to imply.
  • Re:pr0n (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) <john.oyler@comcast . n et> on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:26AM (#14913822) Journal
    Actually, I am working on this problem. But instead of a lame tag-based system, I've opted for a strict relational model.

    Each picture consists of one or more actions.
    Each action consists of of exactly two people (both of which can point to the same person record).
    Each person record is broken up into "static" (things unchanging throughout their life, e.g. birth name), "daily" (things true for a short period of time, e.g. color her hair was dyed that week), and "instant" (things only true for that split second the photo was taken).

    The data model is much more complete than this, and more importantly, I've found a way to actually collect the metadata.

    Let people in for free. Have them go through a custom webapp, collecting the metadata (clicking on the photo with the mouse, to grab the pixel color value for skintone), maybe as few as just a few pictures a week. In exchange, they get to search for free.

    When finished, it should be possible to search only for pictures with just one girl, whose legs are spread exactly 57 degrees in a "sitting up" pose.

    Like I said, you wouldn't believe just how much metadata I figure it's possible to collect.

    Anyone want a free account?
  • by CoughDropAddict (40792) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @03:21AM (#14914013) Homepage
    Unfortunately, OpenID is very weak for an authentication system; it has no authentication or integrity checking.

    What are you talking about? It's an authentication system! Of course it has authentication and "integrity checking."

    Do you actually understand what its limits are?

    (Hint: do you trust your bank's authorization scheme on their website? Your bank could authenticate you with third party sites using OpenID just as securely as they authenticate you with their own).
  • Age? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by resonte (900899) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @03:59AM (#14914111)
    Should we accredite people for something jsut because of thier age? Why is this story in the news? ...Well we can gain two things from this. For some people it might be a nobrainer on how to make your child have more potential to be succesfull, - you just introduce it to the right environment. But for the masses who don't know how to raise their child stories like these could be an inspiration to try harder, perhaps they should look at how his parents have brought him up and apply that same technique to their own children. Stories like these can also be used as a motivational factor for other people. It shows that anyone can get somewhere if they try hard enough. Well at least I'm impressed/motivated by this guy most people his age still have a localised view of the world.
  • Lets do a survey (Score:2, Interesting)

    by j.a.mcguire (551738) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @06:25AM (#14914494)
    Who thinks they could do this? Woah, everyone?

    Not exactley impressive is it, if you did it for your dissertation you'd be lucky to get a 2:2.

    As the guy above said, must be nice to have financial support.
  • by somersault (912633) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @06:31AM (#14914502) Homepage Journal
    I dont think you were modded as a troll because of saying that TV is a waste of time (which is very true), it did almost sound like you were taking the piss when you said you'd worked for all those companies though. I was doing programming when I was 14, but only in 'AMOS Pro' BASIC on my Amiga. I've rewritten the timesheet system here from pretty much the ground up (the users wont notice a difference, but everything is done in databases now instead of all on spreadsheets), but since then haven't done anything I'm particularly proud of or think was challenging.

    Everything you say is very true though, but it's not easy to get out of the groove of just lazing around once you start :/ I dont watch TV but I do watch DVDs and go to the movies (which I guess almost amounts to the same, but at least I dont watch 'reality' TV shows..). Since I've got a job now anyway then I guess it's not so important to have to conquer the world in my spare time, and I'd rather spend time with my girlfriend than code up an FPS these days anyway.. though.. hmm, well maybe I can get her interested in coding and she could help :D
  • I Googled around for some stuff on BlueBridge and found out that they had a couple of PDFs lying around. It looks like some stuff from earlier projects, one being a Subway sandwich shop web site to order custom made subs. Anyway, just thought you might be interested.

    http://www.google.com/search?hs=akR&hl=en&lr=&clie nt=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&q= site%3Abbridgetech.com+filetype%3Apdf&btnG=Search [google.com]
  • by Omaze (952134) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @11:32AM (#14915937) Journal
    I work(ed) around many wealthy families at my previous employer. In the 40s the trend for parents to bluster about their kids was the military. In the 50s and 60s the trend was the football team. In the 70s, 80s, and early 90s it was all about which colleges they could get into and the size of the family SUV. In the last part of the 90s and into the 00s it seems that the parents are one-upping each other with what sort of business ventures their children can get into. The people I worked with had children as young as 15 who were: movie producers (with offers from major studios), MMORPG game writers (with offers from game producers), day traders (to the tune of tens of thousands in profit), and database consultants (with small company contracts). The bottom line was, though, none of those kids could have even come close to doing what they did without the several thousand dollars' investment from their parents and the parents' willingness to stand back and give the kids room to pursue the ideas rather than hounding them to get some part time job at the local restaraunt.

    I don't mean to take away from the fellow who's created Zoomr. More power to him and my hat's off to him. Let's stop short of automatically giving him an adult measure of respect, though. He wouldn't have been able to do what he did if he'd been spending his 5 evenings/week after school bagging groceries. Let's not start flogging ourselves remorsefully over wasted youth. The bottom line is opportunity--which most of us never really have.
  • Or to put it another way - just how many million dollar concepts have you turned into reality recently?

    I've been working on one [dynobright.com] for the last four months, actually. Yes, some concepts are obvious, and for those concepts, all it takes is the gumption to sit still for a significant chunk of a year. Other concepts, though, aren't obvious at all. If you're curious, watch that URL - once my patents are in, it's going to start screaming what I'm up to loud and proud.
  • Good luck to you. Given what you are doing - I think you will have or will get a good understanding that having an idea and writing some code is just the first part. Something that is lost on many people here.

    Yeah. Actually, writing code wouldn't even have been the first part for me, except that the basis of the product comes out of my hobby work. The startup capital requirements for this plan are in fact higher than are typical of the Nintendo DS development world, though the total cost won't be nearly as bad.

    Then theres marketing (slashdot seems to do a good job of that),

    Actually, we have a firm on retainer already.

    patents,

    About half paid for already.

    creating revenue,

    Given the nature of the business, this won't be terribly hard; coming to market is a lot more difficult in gaming than benefitting from one's market position.

    building the business,

    Yeah, this has turned out to be surprisingly difficult. Luckily for me, I have an experienced business partner with more than a dozen successful businesses under her belt.

    support, releases, maintenance, bugfixing, delivery,

    Nothing new here.

    revenue, documentation, white papers,

    Documentation and "white papers" are the last things on our mind right now, and the least of our concerns.

    attracting investors...

    Actually investors seem to be finding me, oddly enough. It comes rather as a surprise to me, but it turns out that one really needs one's patents in place before one can safely accept investment. The mines aren't where I expected for them to be.

    Did I mention revenue?

    Yes.

    Doing this on a shoestring (which I think is *very* healthy) requires determination and inventiveness.

    I'm not doing this on a shoestring. What I'm doing could not in fact be done on a shoestring.

    A S/W engine for Nintendo DS eh?

    Yep. I'm an authorized developer, and it won't be my first. It will, however, be the first one solely for my personal economic benefit. I'm sick to death of the bonehead maneuvers that developer companies make, watering their games down for the lowest common denominator then being surprised when they end up with crap. I want direct control of my work, so that I can see it through to its appropriate output. That means I can't take publisher money until the game is done, because that's the most common way to get control taken away, and to get quality stomped into the ground.

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