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Over the last two days I have been unable to sleep for reasons unknown. Whenever this happens I try to keep myself busy with something, anything that will help me fall asleep or at least feel tired.

This time my mind wandered to a prank I pulled on a coworker. I installed a small program that changed the wallpaper on her computer every ten minutes. It was meant as something fun and of course non destructive.

The whole program was literally loose pieces glued together and was hard to install. Not being able to sleep and looking around for something to keep myself busy I drifted towards a more elegant solution and a more noble purpose. Please read on, this is going to get interesting.

Your Mac comes with a nifty little program called Automator whose sole purpose is to make your life easier. You can create workflows for your repetitive tasks and use them over and over to save time. For example, I find myself resizing photos to 500px often, so I created an Automator application to which I drag any jpeg file and get an instant copy resized and placed on my desktop.

As you have guessed, this was what I used for that little prank.

A few minutes ago I went back to it and moved a few things around, solving a problem in the workflow (my colleague ended up with over 10 copies of the new desktop image on her computer), and finding a way to install it with a double click. There is still a problem regarding the size of the pictures, that may lose quality once set as the desktop’s background, but I am working on it.

What does this have to do with Lisbon and communication?

Meet Mário Pires. Not only did he inspire quite a bit about my last post, regarding filters, but he has the habit of walking around Lisbon posting photos to his Tumblr. So my litte app now fetches his most recent photo every 10 minutes, easy as that.

This is to serve a simple purpose: so that you can get to know Lisbon from Mário’s perspective. Because after all that is part of what the web is about, discovering new things and finding new perspectives.

On a broader note, this is to serve as a real life example that when you want to communicate online you do not have to limit yourself to the channels everyone uses. You can build new ones. You can turn a simple set of computer instructions, into a window to a city, building upon work you admire and which you feel deserves to be shared.

And the best thing, is that all you need to make this a reality is some imagination and be willing to learn something new to you. There are so many tools and resources out there that all you have to do is choose the one you like best.

But lets stop the chatter, you want the App?

It will only run on OS X 10.5+ I think, and you can change the tumblr where the image is fetched from by opening the app in Automator and changing the URL and removing the “500” within the code. (It’s quite simple, don’t be afraid!)

Feel free to Download and Enjoy!

There are a number of photographers you should also follow, such as Pedro Pinheiro, Pedro Rebelo and everyone over at the Lisbon Photo Walkers group.