John Conners is “the man”! He’s the John behind John’s Background Switcher, an excellent freeware application that changes the picture on your Windows Desktop on a scheduled basis. A few months ago, I sent a note to John, letting him know about the new Phanfare public API, which lets 3rd-party developers extend what you can do with Phanfare. I told him how much I genuinely liked JBS. I had come across the program one day while looking at Flickr add-ins. For years, I’ve searched for a good utility that would let me switch my Windows background automatically so I wouldn’t have to look at the same Windows background all the time, whether that background was the default Teletubbies landscape or even a picture of my lovely family. JBS really fit the bill. It let me switch among pictures on my computer or rotate through pictures posted on Flickr.
While these were both great options, I don’t have a very complete collection of personal photos on my work PC, and I don’t always want to look at strangers’ pictures posted on Flickr, as excellent as many of them are. I wanted to be able to see all of my pictures, as well as those of my friends. In short, I wanted JBS to work with Phanfare, much like the Phanfare Screensaver does.
John told me that he was actively working on the next release of JBS and readily agreed to integrate Phanfare. I was thrilled. After making steady progress through the beta period, John finally released John’s Background Switcher 3.0 yesterday. This new version can take one of your Phanfare photos and display it to fit the screen, or it can display four pictures at a time, or, my favorite, a thumbnail mosaic that fills the screen with hundreds of your images. On my 1600×1200 external monitor, I get an 18×13 grid – 234 pictures at once! What a great snapshot of my life. And, like our screensaver, JBS can even show different pictures on each screen if you have multiple displays.
Of course it’s a little difficult to make out your desktop icons against the mosaic view, but I never quite figured out the logic for putting icons on the desktop anyway. They’re only useful if you minimize or close your applications every time you want to switch to a different task. That’s pretty unnecessary effort; Windows does a good job helping you get to all your apps and documents through the Start menu and taskbar.
You don’t have to be a Phanfare customer to use JBS – you just have to know one. So grandma and grandpa can install it too, to look at pictures of the grandkids. Or you could install it for them.
John’s Background Switcher currently only runs on Windows, but in a post on his blog, John explains his recent conversion to the Mac. He’s not abandoning Windows; he’ll just run it through Parallels. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see his conversion to the Mac ultimately result in a Mac version of JBS.
Click here to download John’s Background Switcher.