Archive for the 'media' Category

Been Busy

Still am. However, while looking for a replacement for Picasa (boo! bad google) for Wen, I did discover that my Photography Subscription to Adobe (Lightroom + Photoshop) also includes a neat little Photographic Portfolio generating tool. Here’s what it did in 15 minutes.

Free Getty Images

Getty Images are now allowing non-commercial use of their image library for free. The images are fixed in size (as above) with the text and links below included.

They say that their photographs appear widely on the internet anyway, illegally, so at least this way the metadata (photographer’s credits and a link back to Getty) remain intact. They also might add advertising later, according to the small print, although there is no mention yet of how any revenue might be shared with the photographers.

There is no individual opt-out for Getty contributors – I wonder if this includes me, because I seem to recall allowing Flickr to pass on my images to Getty, so that they could charge for them and reward me with big money. (It hasn’t happened yet.) All my Flickr images are CC licensed anyway, so I have no problem with that, but I can see that it might be worrying for professional photographers.

I had to create a Getty account to access the “embed image” link when browsing through their library, but you can see that one of the links in the embedded image above allows for re-embedding and that can be used by anybody (with the usual token “By embedding this image, you agree to Getty Images terms of use.”).

Interesting times.

Stop “Reaching Out”

There’s a perfectly good English word available to use when you need to get information from a third party. It’s “ask”. Please stop “reaching out” instead. I’m exposed to this a lot on tech news sites, usually American. I even had it in an email yesterday, “I am reaching out to you to find out…”. It’s usually used in response to some bogus news story, where the author has “reached out” to the party in question for some feedback. Probably they just phoned the press agent.

While I’m ranting, there is an even more galling habit I see a lot in online journalism. It is the irritating imperative to “think”, usually parenthesised, which seems to be a way to avoid using “e.g.” or “i.e.” It’s hard to find examples, as Google can’t search for punctuation, but here’s one: “a fun little distraction .. before Disney Interactive reveals the real iOS (think iPad) app for the game.” And another: “combining raw film footage with animated characters (think Angry Birds in real life)”. I can’t quite explain (even to myself) why this annoys me – probably because it is a little bit patronising and has more than a whiff of dumbing-down. Thankfully this one has not (yet) reached any reputable reporting.

Unlike “super”, which is now everywhere. I remember reading a prediction (but annoyingly not where) that this was going to be the word of the moment for the coming year, and didn’t quite believe it. The last time I’d heard it used in conversation was by my Auntie Marie when I was but a teenager. Now every presenter is “super excited” about their next guest, or “super happy” to be talking to you and “super thrilled” that you can join them.

I’m super reaching out (think: asking) for you all to stop it.

Animated Gif

Animated gif

Charlie, Tony & Gemma.

When I saw these two pictures from Samantha’s wedding on Charlie’s Facebook page, I couldn’t resist making a little animated GIF. Simple things.

Sonos

I’ve tried to avoid buying a Sonos Multi-Room Music System ever since I first read about them back in 2005 but in March I finally succumbed and I haven’t regretted it for a second.

I have our music library on a LaCie NAS, which has a Twonky DLNA server onboard, but either it isn’t very good or the devices I attached never really got on with it. Those devices included the PlayStation 3, a Philips Streamium and a Pure network radio. Even when they did work, choosing what to play was never completely satisfactory – either a single track, a single album or a “genre”.

ZonePlayer 90

On a recent visit to Alf & Anne’s we saw Alf’s latest HiFi extravagance – a whole bunch of Sonos kit. Within 5 minutes we had queued up a selection of tunes ready to play from his library on the CR100 controller. I connected my netbook to his WiFi, downloaded the Sonos Windows Controller, and could add more music through that. Wen liked it too!

Some web research and advice from Alf showed that I needed a ZP90 to connect to the AV receiver in the living room and the network (there was already an Ethernet hub behind the TV); and an S5 with a cheap (as now obsolete) CR100 controller for the kitchen/dining room (sitting in the hatch where the, frankly shoddy, Pure Digital Evoke flow then was).

ZonePlayer S5

That was Sunday. I ordered the kit on Monday from Simply Sonos and it arrived on Tuesday. Sadly, the S5 was a little too big to perch in the hatch, so when the kitchen renovation was finished we moved it to the top of the ‘fridge and I had to order another (black) S5 for the dining room. That was just three weeks later.

It works superbly. It plays all the CDs we had ripped to MP3 directly from the Samba share on the LaCie. It does this so successfully that we have removed the CD player and speakers from the living room so that all the music now comes from the ZP90 via the AV system  – which also has the record deck connected to it. (Oh yes, there’s still room for vinyl, and the line-in on the ZP90 means that LPs and 45s can be streamed around the house as well.) I’m also in the process of ripping the remaining CDs so that they can all be stored somewhere else.

We’ve listened to much more music since we got the Sonos – sometimes even in preference to randomly turning on the TV. There are thousands of internet radio stations: the alarm function plays Radio 1 in the mornings (slightly later on Fridays) and we listened to Robyn on WUSC. There is Last FM if you want to hear music similar to bands you like and for Scrobbling (you can see the last 10 tracks we played under Listen at the right). A subscription to Spotify would get you almost unlimited streaming music. I also bought my first digital-only album, although I’m not committed to that.

ZonePlayer S5

I even used the Sonos as an excuse to get an iPad 2. The Sonos controller app looks really good on the iPad, and is easier to use than the PC application.

Sonos have recently launched the Play:3, a (slightly) cheaper 3 speaker player, and I’m fairly sure it will soon replace the stereo in the bedroom which has a dodgy CD player, a single alarm and a clock which loses a minute a day.

To quote Ferris: “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”

Diegogarcity

My new favourite word, as it describes a phenomenon which happens to me all the time: the coincidence of learning something new (usually a word) and then almost immediately noticing it turning up in the book you were already reading, a radio programme you listen to every day, etc.

It was coined by Aldiboronti, a member of the Wordorigins.org discussion group:

It is a play on serendipity, as Serendip is an old name for Sri Lanka. For this concept, Aldi chose another Indian Ocean island as the namesake.

I don’t know how widely accepted it is, but I hope to promulgate it by using it as often as possible.

Willingham Life

Further embedding myself in Cameron’s BS, I am now on the editorial team of the Willingham Life website, nominally in charge of the photographic content.

I noted that a Facebook page might generate some traffic. The silence that followed seemed to indicate that I had volunteered (again), so here’s the first fruits of that labour:


(As if linking to it here will generate traffic! Ha, the ego-maniacal nature of talking to yourself in an empty, echoing box.)

Quote from Jane Benson

Jane Benson was Douglas Adams’ wife.

There was an interview on Today this morning about the writing of sequels – Frank Cottrell Boyce is about to make a follow-up to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Arts editor Will Gompertz was speculating on what the authors might think and quoted Jane Belson after she sold the rights to HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Asked what Douglas Adams would think, she replied:

I don’t know – he isn’t here.

Nuclear Checklist

Here’s a quick checklist for Western governments concerned over the safety of their nuclear reactors after the media outcry:

  1. Are you expecting the largest earthquake in recorded history?
  2. Do you expect any 10 metre high tsunamis?
  3. Err..
  4. That’s it.

Oh yes – stop basing your policies on the ill-informed jabberings of journalists.

Google and WiFi Privacy

There are reports of people being outraged that the Google StreetView camera cars accidentally captured snippets of unsecured WiFi traffic as they wandered the land. I don’t really see the point of this – I’m pleased when Google can tell me where I am using this WiFi location information rather than the crappy GPS in my phone.

The outrage must surely be manufactured, but why? Do they seriously think Google is going to start emptying their bank accounts? Just because the Daily Mail is insanely interested in the intimate details of everybody’s life (particularly if you are a famous everybody), doesn’t mean that Google is going to start publishing the contents of any emails they found.

It was bad enough when the NIMBYs complained about the photographing of the outside of their houses from the street as an invasion of their privacy. To those I say “Either grow a hedge or put your clothes on whilst you are gardening.” And look up “private” sometime.

Now, people who are too lazy or stupid to turn on the security in their WiFi are complaining that small fragments of their communications might have been recorded by a passing camera car. It’s the criminals sat in the small van with a laptop that they ought to be worried about. Or the security forces who’ve just been promised £2 billion to store every web site you visit for your own protection against “terrorism”.

Is it just an anti-Google agenda, or is it a distraction from the Government’s far more serious snooping with intent?

I know who I trust: Google, criminals, government, Daily Mail.