Texture & Colour in Our Garden

This will be a bit left field for people that read this blog. But as well as loving the Internet, blogging and podcasting I love photography. I would not call myself a serious photographer or anything. I just find it relaxing and fun. This afternoon I came home from work and decided to take a few photos around the garden.

We live in the tropics and we have put a lot of work into our garden. It contains so many colours, textures and varieties I decided to try to bring some of that out in a series of photos that I put up on Flickr.

What I did was try to concentrate on texture and colour. I think the photos are not to shabby actually. I put lots of descriptions in to explain what the photos are of and/or why I took it. It was fun to do and publish. If you are interested take a look at my Flickr page.

Texture 8

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Flickr Make it Easier to Share Images

You see an image on Flickr and you want to share it with a friend or a family member. Now you have to copy and paste the link into an email or some other form of getting that link to them, right… Not any more.

Send_to_a_friend screenshotFlickr have introduced easy photo sharing right from the source of the image. Now my only problem was that after hearing about the feature and wanting to check it out but I’d be damned if I could find the feature. After a bit of looking around in a few menus  and having no luck I went back to the image page and looked more thoroughly. I spotted the option in the bottom right of the page in small print. “Send to a Friend”

Not sure why Flickr has made this feature so hard to find. Or is that that I am not observant enough? Features like this should be easy to find and use. No problem with the ease of use, in fact 10/10. They get a 2/10 for easy to find, in my opinion. Maybe they are trying to save on the bandwidth or something. Beats me.

Clicking that link throws you to a page with the option to send the image via email or to another Flickr member. There is a default message that you can add to or just send as is. The default message is fine in my book. I sent one to myself. The cool thing about this feature is that the recipient gets the message and the image in their inbox with an additional link to the page on Flickr that it comes from. What this means is that they can save the image locally. To save a photo on Flickr from the web page you have to have an account and be logged in. Now you don’t, provided someone with an account send it to you.

Nice feature and I think I might actually upgrade my account to a pro account as this is great for family and friends and I am going to use it a lot. I am actually trying to update my Flickr page more often, to keep the family in the loop a bit better. Some of our family are a couple of 1000 kay away and I know they will appreciate it. Thanks Flickr!

Flickr_Home_Screenshot

Storage Limits on WordPress.com

I subscribe to the WordPress FAQ Page. I was doing some catch up tonight, reading stuff that normally I don’t get time to do and came across a post that was made at the week-end and it has caused me to rethink the way I do things.

The reason that I get behind in both blogging and reading feeds that I want to read by the end of the week is my other passion. Podcasting. I get bummed if I have not done some blogging done by Thursday because that usually means that it won’t happen until the following week. I am finalising the show notes for The Global Geek Podcast, sourcing music and everything else that goes into the pre and post production. Something has to, usually my personal blog. But I don’t worry too much as I am still blogging in another way, it just does not feel the same. Especially since I try to keep the two separate, I want people to know that I have different things to say to a focused reader/listener base. It is a hard juggling act.

So I was catching up and I saw that there was an FAQ Post called “Upload Space“. I thought… upload space…, isn’t that; sort of unlimited? Realising that I had made an assumption! But then I thought about it and guessed that some people upload huge images and whatever else they might like to and that unlimited would not be practical at all. So I found out that:

“Images and other files are currently limited to 50MB in total.”

When you consider that a blog is a long term project that may well cover years, I don’t think that it would be that hard to fill it. Even if you optimise your images and change the resolution or even use them infrequently. So I thought about what I do and I guessed that it might just be possible for me to eventually use 50MB.

The suggestions made in the post are the usual suspects: Flickr, photobucket and box.net. So I am going to start using my Flickr page for images such as pictures and stuff like that (because you should never, never “leach” another sites content!). But I thought I might use omnidrive that I previously talked about for logos and screenshots or box.net. Although both the latter have a 1GIG limit, for what I do I am going to be hard pushed to fill it. Then again even if the flickr account looks like going close to the bandwidth limit the cost of a pro account (per year) is less than storage at omnidrive or box.net. So I’ll admit, not sure exactly what I am going to do. I like the downloadable applications that the storage services offer but I like the price of Flickr ($24.95USD p.a) and it is unlimited.

The thing that you have to remember is that while a post for you might be ancient history, the page may well be still viewed and appreciated by your readers. If you want them to look the same way that they did when you posted it then you need to look at the ongoing storage of images and pictures that you used in the post. This hosting requirement will grow as time goes on and the number of posts increases. This then means that your bandwidth need increases. How much? That depends what you post and your reliance on images. Food for thought as you may well be thinking about these things as well.

What solutions are other WordPress.com users doing? If anything.

Box.net

Flickr

photobucket

Mosaic Generator

I think I have seen more cool web based applications come from the Flickr API than any other public API. In addition there seems to be no limit to what people use it for and the development seems to be prolific. This is another example and one of the coolest I have seen.

I have always wanted an easy way to create a mosaic from photos. I have looked and there are ones that you can buy. These then come with a massive photo library that you either have to store on your system or muck around with disks to use. Or you can use your own photos, does anyone have that many photos? Maybe but not me, it would be a boring mosaic when you zoomed in.

Mosaic_Zoomed inThe answer is; Image Mosaic Generator and it is fantastic. The images that are used in the generation of the mosaic all come from Flickr. There are some examples on the main page of the website. But it is far more fun to generate your own. Just select an image that you have and upload it into the generator. It about three to five minutes to upload and generate the image, it is huge so people that have “slow” connections might have to wait a while. But it is worth it.

Once generated you can then scale the image, bigger up to 200% or smaller to suite your needs. Once scaled you can then download the image. I found the button for downloading hiding in the bottom left of the generated image. Or just do what I did and download the big image and scale it with any reasonable photo editing program. The results are great, stand back from the images to get the full effect. The above image is a zoomed image of the one below.

No extra programs or masses of pictures on your PC, fast easy mosaics and it is a heap of fun.

Mosaic of Dave

Search and Explore Flickr with a Sketch

retrievr LogoSearching the Internet for anything with a simple sketch is a technology that is in it’s infancy. Actually getting something useful from the results is difficult if not impossible. The current offerings of searching with drawings or sketches are suited to searching visual databases and today I found a site called retrievr.

retrievr uses the Flickr API and is implemented well. It is a search of Flickr from a sketch that you have made in a small square box. Before I go further I have to say that the quality of tools that are being developed with the Flickr API are getting better and there are some people out there creating very useful applications that are very well done. retrievr is well done in that it’s presentation is great and the interface is easy enough to use.

You have a selection of four brush sizes to choose from and a small box to draw your sketch. Good to see that there is an undo button. Using a colour pallet you have the choice of every conceivable colour you could possibly want to use. Draw your masterpiece. After a few seconds of inactivity the search starts and the results are displayed. You can also search by uploading a picture (no sketching) or entering the URL of the image. If you can’t draw with a mouse (who can?) then you can use the database of images to base a search on. Don’t worry if your sketch looks like a five year old did it, have a look below.

Once the search results are displayed you can then either click the photo and view it at Flickr or you can click a magnifing glass that uses that image as the basis for a new search. The ability to drill down your results is a a good idea and makes the experience more fun and you end up somewhere that you did not think you would.

The results are average as far as form goes. I found that the shape of the image that I was after came up rarely in the results. However the results for colour are better and seem to be weighted more heavily in the search. Although I was impressed with the result below in that it does have an image of a face. This service is new and the technology experimental. The very technology is but a baby and has not yet become a powerful tool for searching. But these are the building blocks that will lead to some exciting tools and services in the future and that is what is exciting!

That said I do not think that is what retrievr is all about, developing the technology might be. However, at the moment it is a great site to search and explore Flickr in a fun way which results in those wonderful serendipity discoveries which are always fun and what we love about the Internet. Sure going to Flickr and searching using tags would probably yeild the results that you were looking for but that would not be as much fun.

retrievr screenshot

Project

I am thinking of taking on a personal project. I say thinking because it is a one year commitment to something and I won’t take it on unless I will complete it.

I have read a bit about people that do a photo a day for a year of themselves, or something over a specific time-line. So I was thinking what about a photo a day for a year of anything. I have enjoyed taking photo’s generally as long as I have had a camera. I would not call myself a “photographer” or anything like that because I don’t think I am. But a photo a day for a year would definitely tell a story.

So I was thinking a photo every day then post it on Flickr, it would roll through the RSS feed in the side bar over that time but would be on Flickr for all to see. If I get really adventurous I could paste them altogether into a video and post it on YouTube. But that would be getting ahead of myself and assume that I would finish it.

The biggest challenge for me would not be taking the photo but doing it every day and something a bit different each day. I was thinking of all the ways I could do that. For example have headings such as; friends, love, family, nature, hate, loss, travel etc. But limit “topics” so that I would cover different aspects of my life. Similar to what Yahoo! is doing with their time capsule at present (worth checking out by the way) in regards to categories. I think it would then definitely tell a story and would be interesting to look back on. So I am more for it as a test for myself than anything and the sense of accomplishment that it will give me.

But I will flesh out the idea and come to some conclusions before I decide but I have almost convinced myself that I can do it. I never start something and don’t finish it. Total commitment or none at all.

I know it has been done before but hey, not by me. So has anyone else done it or in the process of doing it? Anyone want to join me?

He said What?!

Peter Chernin, CEO of MySpace’s parent company, Newscorp unbelievably said this early this week:

“If you look at virtually any Web 2.0 application, whether its YouTube, whether it’s Flickr, whether it’s Photobucket or any of the next-generation Web applications, almost all of them are really driven off the back of MySpace.”

Needless to say that I think he might have his head up his arse. This is the most self indulgent and ignorant, self righteous things I have ever heard a CEO say… well in recent memory anyway. Clearly said without knowledge or forethought.

So what these companies would be nothing without MySpace? I don’t think so, they are successful because the users have decided to support them, as is the case with MySpace. That support can be fickle as well. So just be careful about saying just how good you think you might be. Tomorrow you not be on the “hot” list. Especially if users think you are full of your own self importance, they tend not to like that very much.

In my opinion I think that MySapce is popular with the demographic that they appeal to and that’s it. Right now that is the biggest driving force of any company, market, trend and dollars; the young, hip, trendy youth market. I think it has very little to offer the adult serious blogger or tech-type person. Although some will visit to see what is on offer and maybe have a space to get exposure. This is a powerful market force for lots of obvious reasons and the source of the confidence in Peter Chernin’s comment. They can also turn on you like a rabbid dog. The YoYo was hot once too. They have to concentrate on how they keep this audience interested, not on how they are going to global domination wielding this possibly temporary power that can be here today and gone tomorrow.

These comments were made with reference to the fact that if MySpace were to build a similar service to YouTube for example and make the videos accessible to MySpace users to “embed” in their pages then they would use that instead of YouTube. I think that is a reach. Convincing users to drop what is “cool” or the “service of choice” in favour of an alternative is a tough job. They would want to be offering a much better service or something to make them stand out. I don’t think they can do that. Plus you have to crack the brand loyalty of users to YouTube, good luck mate!

CEO Tip Number 1: engage brain then speak otherwise you will look stupid. Stupid.