Making do

As you may have noticed, I’ve re-designed my site. Again. Compared to the flames, the look is actually rather conservative, although I prefer to think of it as subtle.

While working on a client’s site this week, I noticed that after staring at her pages for a time, my own site seemed, in comparison, very harsh on the eyes. Eventually it got to the point where I would squint when I accessed the weblog. I don’t know if this effect is peculiar to me, but I didn’t like the fact that I might be causing people to half close their eyes when looking at my pages. I hope to generate reactions with my web site, but I don’t want ‘pain’ to be among them.

Now, with the soft greens, blues, and plums, though the design may not make you jump up and down with excitement, and it lacks some of the modern/with-it/hip flourishes, at least it doesn’t make you squint.

Issues of visual overstimulation aside, there is another reason I changed the site design: the purple pixel effect.

I’ve written before about the purple (magenta) pixel that runs down my monitor in my TiBook. Its cause is the continuous opening and closing of the lid, leading to wear in the connections between the video card and the display. Luckily, unlike others, I’ve only had the one line so far, but it is rather prominently situated about 1/4 of the way in from the left side.

For the most part, I’ve been able to compensate for the purple pixel. I’ve even learned to make use of it–it makes a great straight edge when aligning documentation in code and blocks of CSS in my stylesheets. Still, there are times when the purple pixel adds a distracting element and accessing my pages was one of those. The magenta clashed, horribly, with the flame design–really nasty.

With the new look, the purple pixel provides a bit of dash and color when I align the browser window so that the line fits just so over the break between the lighter green and the darker green in the left frame of the content window. Since you can’t see this, I captured part of the screen and then used PhotoShop to create a 1-pixel line the same color in the image–using my one-pixel screen aberration to accurately draw the line.


I heard your pain

Well, I heard your pain and have modified my Burningbird theme to something I hope is a bit easier to read. To be honest, when I was tired and had been working on the computer for some time, even I found my site to be overly bold and colorful.

Yeah and the design was a little tough on the eyes, too.

The original design featured too much of the ‘wings’ of flames to the left, and that was a bit overpowering. I’ve made the design much smaller, and fitted it into the title. I still have the flirty little flip to the right, though. I am not giving up my flirty little flip to the right. Besides, I like my design ‘breaking out of the box’, so to speak.

I’ve added more gray, which should help tone down the bright colors, and also darkened the blue and the orange. In fact, these colors I did ‘borrow’ from Corante–I liked them better than the too light colors I had originally. These were getting overwhelmed by the design.

I like the modifications. It’s not as professional as the Corante theme, and I think I might put Zoë back into the sidebar (I love that photo)–but I don’t believe the new look will drive any reader to want to …yank their eyes out of their head, either.

As for the issues brought up about the use of Creative Commons, my appreciations to Denise Howell for taking time to chat about them. Perhaps the CC folks will benefit from this exchange. Or they won’t and we’ll have opportunities for new ‘themes’ and other exciting adventures in the future.


Distributed digital diet

If you could see my profile, you would see that I’ve dropped a lot of excess weight. Yes, last night I pulled my photos sub-directory, my multimedia directory, closed down the separate account, and downgraded to a leaner, meaner account — with just enough room to work on, and finish, one project before moving on to the next.

I put my request in for the change with the Hosting Matters folks last night before going to bed, and it was all taken care of by the time I awoke this morning. Of course, some might say that if I went with one of the new ‘cheap/lots’ hosts that provided a lot more space for a lot less money, I wouldn’t have to do these changes. However, I’ve been with Hosting Matters for years, now–long enough to know that any request I put in is answered almost immediately. More, I’ve watched the folks at HM enough to know that they a) really know their stuff, and b) don’t host so many people that they’re overrun with trying to keep up. More importantly, they know me. They know my level of expertise, and what I can or cannot do, and respond to each request accordingly. Can’t do that when you’re hosting a thousand accounts on one server. Can’t do that if you hop from host to host on a whim, or because you’ve been enticed by thousands of megabytes of space for 1.95US.

Of course, once I pulled the photos, all those boys and girls who hotlinked my images are crying in their cocoa this morning. I had dropped hotlink protection a couple of months ago, curious to see what would happen with Google and Yahoo images. And I don’t begrudge people linking my images in newsgroups–after all, many of them are relatively inexperienced about concepts such as ‘bandwidth’ use, and think this is the right way to do it (i.e. give credit to the image creator by linking back to the person’s image directly); many are just kids having fun. I figured, as long as I had the bandwidth, I wasn’t going to be worried about a link here or there.

Well, some images proved fairly hot, such as the feminine pirate flag. It ended up being linked in what amounts to hundreds of discussion forums and various other locations. Now, all of these images will be crashed and broken, and though I feel a bit bad (”oh, so sorry”), I feel so much better now that I’m not carrying around 200+M of images. Not to mention no longer being jabbed and pricked and bled, drop by bandwidth drop, by the little hotlinking dears.

Now, the issue of hotlinking has been passed on to flickr, as has the issue of excess fat around the middle of my web site. Eventually flickr may have to deal with bandwidth issues, as well as copyright issues. (A simple approach could be to have owners register the domains that will link to their own images so that hotlinking can be restricted (though this does violate the spirit of the site, which is based on photo sharing).)

As it is, per the terms of use*, avatars and site graphics cannot be posted to the account so if I want to post the pirate flag, I’ll have to do so on my account, and add hotlink protections. Which I did — pointing all of my weblogs to one shared directory to keep things simple and clean. Since graphics either are reused in pages, or much less space intensive than photos, I have room for the odd image from time to time..

Jolly Roger Pirate Flag does pink

Best of all, as I go through my weblog posts and change the URLs to point to the image on flickr, I also use metadata to capture the original image name. Then, if for some reason I want to move the images locally again, it’s just a matter of running an application that will translate each flickr image URL into the appropriate local URL, and I’m ready to rock n’ roll without a break. Centralized storage with a distributed back door.

Speaking of which, back to work on the last metadata bit on Wordform before the release. After a nice afternoon walk that is.

*from the flickr TOS:

Your account will also be terminated if it is used for hosting graphic elements of web page designs, icons, smilies, buddy icons, forum avatars, badges and other non-photographic elements on external websites.


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.

Burningbird Photography

The shop

The Shop: Update.

I installed both Coppermine and Gallery photo management software, and after playing around, I decided to stay with Gallery. Coppermine is nice, and a very clean interface. However, Gallery, with it’s themes and pages of configuration allows me to have more control over the interface.

I uploaded just a few test photos, but they won’t necessarily be in the collection when I’m finished. I have to also go through all the photos and decide which to display. Let me know if you want to help me go through several hundred photos.

My business model for the Shop is based on seeking revenue from many different avenues. I’m going to LuLu for a calendar–the Water Mills of Missouri. I may also do one on my recent Florida trip, and call it One Ticket Please (just like the book that is now making its way around from place to place).

For goods, I have a store at Café Press. It’s a hacked mess now, and the images haven’t been refined for their use — but it was fun to play today. That’s when I got the idea for the limited edition of Burningbird refrigerator magnets. Other goodies too. Not a thong, though.

I’m focusing on my Missouri photos, as I can’t help thinking a regional collection could be the best avenue for revenue. We’ll see.

Finally, at Tinfoil Project itself, in the gallery, I’m following a model that Bill Grant is using (yes, pretty Alley Spring photos); except rather than using email, I’m either going to connect in a Paypal shopping cart, or I may interface directly to OsCommerce. I think the PayPal solution is better, at least right now. OsCommerce is a big, complex app.

What I’m doing different from Mr. Grant is that I am providing a web page image for no charge — free for personal web sites to use as long as they provide a link back. The reason for this is to hopefully start generating interest in the work. A larger, high resolution image is then available for sale, for royalty free use by the buyer.

I’m providing prints through my local development studio, though I won’t be charging as much. I’ll also provide an option of a ‘photographer’ print: hand printed by me and signed. I know–aren’t I special?

I’m banking that my photos–not all, but some–are good enough. Or, at a minimum, you’ll all want one each of my limited edition magnets.

Suggestions, as always, welcome.

(And now I return to regularly scheduled writing…)

The link to the old Tinfoil Project photo weblog can still be accessed for now; but the weblog is going away. I’m replacing the photo weblog with a photographer’s How-To weblog, covering digital photography and tools. And in this site, I will be putting the Google ads back up, since the topic is so focused on photography.

The photos will be in the Gallery software, and once I redesign the new weblog, it and the gallery and the stores will all be linked from a main page.

I thought you all might find the progress–how the software evolves– to be interesting, which is why I’m pointing all these sites out now, even hacked as they are.