Closing TinFoil

This was such a huge mistake. I can no longer match existing photos with Flickr URL, so any embedded photos are lost.

I’ve decided to close down Tinfoil Project site as a separate site, and not try and open a Cafepress store. The more I’ve thought on it, the more I think using flickr as a repository of photos is actually a very decent idea. I like the API, which I can use for all sorts of nefarious deeds; and I like the fact that storage is unrestricted — the restrictions are placed in upload bandwidth. At 1G a month for a Pro account, that’s a lot of photos.

Once I move the photos from Burningbird to flickr, I’ll have room to bring the Tinfoil domain over, and still keep the weblog and the page–just the links will go to flickr. Additionally, I am going to focus more on writing about digital photography and imaging, less on just posting photos at the site. I’ll also be closing down the galleries.

As for the store, I don’t think this is a good area to put time and energy now. I believe that Wordform is a better use of my time, for both personal and professional reasons. And whatever time isn’t spent on this application needs to be focused on work, finding work, and writing (hopefully professional as well as personal).

I prefer to save my photography for how I use it here–to mix with my words to make a story. This is what I love to do. If there is anything uniquely Burningbird at this site, these stories are it.


SourceForge help

Me thinks you’re all tired of hearing about Wordform, at least until you can get your hands on it (and maybe even if you can get your hands on it). Fair enough and I’ve felt that way about many a project. So I’ll restrain my normal over enthusiasm until after the first release is out and you can download it and see for yourself if I’m making a bubble out of a diamond or if it’s the true sparkle.

However, I haven’t worked with SourceForge for a considerable time and I had a couple of questions about management that I couldn’t find answers for in the documentation. If you wouldn’t mind helping me get this account squared away, could you please send me an email? I’d be grateful.


Sunny and sweet

Oh I’m in a marvelously good mood today, not the least of which is that the weather is perfect for a gentle walk in the woods, I and my code are one, and my life is become full of wonderous possibilities.

The first of my metadata plugins is almost finished and it is a pure delight, and sure to be the selling point for those who embed photos into their pages. It will take a URL to a photo and create as rich a metadata block about that image as it can, just given the URL and, optionally, some additional information provided by the weblogger.

There is a great deal of information that can be extracted automatically for a photo. For instance, if there is exif information attached to the photo, this information will be extracted and added to the metadata. If the photo is at flickr, accessing the API this site provides gives the number of comments, ratings, tags, photo information, notes, description, etc, which are also added to the metadata. In addition, if the photo is at flickr and you want to identify a local name for the picture (just in case you replace the flickr link with one locally), you can do so and the metadata will not only map the photo to the page, but also to the local photo name.

(If the photo is not at flickr, you’ll then have the option of adding additional information: description, title, tags (or keywords), license, and notes. But you don’t have to–it’s all optional.)

But wait, there’s more…

If you search for weblog posts based on some category or search keywords, clicking on the link provided by another plugin will take this search result and access the metadata and extract out a mini-photo album containing photos in these posts. You can then click on each photo and see the rich metadata attached to it, as well as link to the post where the photo is found (or link to flickr). To make things more interesting, I’m also looking at what I can do with the tags for the photo — this chain could go for miles before I nail it to the ground.

But the metadata can be used for more than just reporting. I’m also looking at building a second plugin that will convert the URI for a photo in case the location of the pictures has been changed. This will make updates not only in the metadata, but in the actual IMG link within the post, itself.

Another benefit to this functionality is if the weblogger is using Creative Commons licensing, they can now identify a separate CC license for each photo, in addition to the page writing, all separate from the overall page design and stylesheet–that’s precision in licensing.

The issue has been with rich metadata that it takes too much effort for people to add it when they write their posts or other web page content. Well, how is clicking on a list item in the edit page and in a page that opens, filling in a minimum of one field and a maximum of six and making a selection from another list box just to get all of this? Still too much work?

In fact, there’s no reason why a person can’t do another plugin which scans for images within posts and automatically pulls in whatever it can find, allowing the weblogger to add the additional information when time and opportunity presents itself.

Lordy but this stuff is just too much fun. I have to go on a walk before I burst from all the fun.


Dabblers and enthusiasm doesn’t make it so

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Doug from Creative Karma sent me a link he found at Stefan Tilkov to a writing that’s been making the rounds of weblogging: Maciej Ceglowski’s Dabblers and Blowhards. In it Maciej takes on Paul Graham and his popular book and series titled, “Hackers and Painters”, and does so in a manner both pointed and funny. In the process, Maciej also exposes so much of the hyperbole and hooplah that underlies much of the “hip talk” that pervades our environment:

I blame Eric Raymond and to a lesser extent Dave Winer for bringing this kind of shlock writing onto the Internet. Raymond is the original perpetrator of the “what is a hacker?” essay, in which you quickly begin to understand that a hacker is someone who resembles Eric Raymond. Dave Winer has recently and mercifully moved his essays off to audio, but you can still hear him snorfling cashew nuts and talking at length about what it means to be a blogger . These essays and this writing style are tempting to people outside the subculture at hand because of their engaging personal tone and idiosyncratic, insider’s view. But after a while, you begin to notice that all the essays are an elaborate set of mirrors set up to reflect different facets of the author, in a big distributed act of participatory narcissism.

…shlock writing onto the Internet. There is, indeed, an abundance of schlock, or jumping up and down writing on the internet; writing where metaphorical descriptions of the most mundane of categorization is stretched–thinly!–to cover the next, best version of the web. Where solid science and technology and even common sense is pushed aside in a breathless rush to discover something, anything, new in the one aspect of technology that seems to provide us so much gratification–the almighty link. It is a joining of words to cover a big, black space on the chalk board saying, “a miracle happens here”.

It’s not that I begrudge anyone their enthusiasms; it’s just enthusiasm does not, by itelf, make good technology–no more than computer hacking makes one equivalent to a great painter.

Anil Dash also focused on these elusive transitive equalities that seem to thread their ways through so many of the ‘jump and down’ conversations; while I don’t necessarily agree with all of them, I found the following to be appealing:

* Loud != Persuasive
* Gets other people to stop talking != Persuasive
* Writes a lot != Writes well
* Funny != Correct
* Similar to me != Correct
* Well known != Respected
* Rude != Honest
* Polite != Honest
* Fast != Smart

I haven’t done justice to either Anil’s or Maciej’s writing, and *recommend you read both whether you’re a technologist or not. These writings really aren’t about technology so much as they are about those who walk the talk, and those who just talk.

*With one caveat — not all painters want to get into women’s pants…because not all painters are men or gay. And we can safely assume the same about hackers. Or:

painter != male
hacker != male
blogger != male