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.

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