Words and Pictures (of note) - January

Holidays gave me a bit of time to watch and read in January. Here are the articles and movies that I enjoyed most:

And a few that didn’t hit the mark:

  • Prometheus: Really good eye-candy, so good that I didn’t notice the paper thin plot until most of the way through. While I think that’s an achievement, there was nothing to talk about or reflect on, which is big part of the experience for me.
  • Inside job: 90 minutes of interviews with people who benefited from the 2008 financial crisis but had the power and duty to prevent it. It felt tired and whingey and it didn’t need to be (If you want to see how this sort of thing can be well done see Chasing Madoff or Enron: The smartest guys in the room)

Videos on Vimeo

I’ve been looking for a place to host my videos in the wake of my move from Smugmug, and I’ve settled on Vimeo. They don’t flag my videos as breaching copyright simply because I use a commercial song as a backing track and their interface is nice enough so I’m in.

The software that I use to publish this blog, Nikola uses a form of plain text called reStructuredText to define the contents of the web pages and it didn’t have an existing method to display the Vimeo embedded video player… so I adapted the existing YouTube one, and the author of Nikola integrated it. Hooray. One more little step.

So here it is in action, showing one of our videos from our time in the US a few years ago.

The rest of the videos are over at my Vimeo page. Hope you enjoy them.

Little steps: My first open source contribution

I made my first open source contribution today and I’m pretty stoked. The change itself is almost inconsequential (https://github.com/getnikola/nikola/pull/245) but there have been a series of events that have helped me get here, including:

Sometimes it’s hard to see how a sequence of little steps set you up for what’s ahead. Here’s to another little step, and to what’s ahead.

Our Chicago video and photos are up

It seems I process photos in fits and starts. I’d like to say that I got inspired to do this batch but the truth is that I was bored of all the other activities that were within reach, work was intense and I needed to do something, anything to get my head away from planning technical changes, people management issues and whether my team was getting through enough work, and the right work to keep our traders happy.

So I sat down to sort, sequence, prune and geotag the photos from our time in Chicago. As is often the case, the memories flood back, the details resurface from the depths of one’s mind, the travel sites are loaded and the planning for (or is it dreaming of?) the next trip commences.

Here’s the result. I hope you like it: image gallery

Finding a new home for my photos

I love sharing my photos. I’m not kidding myself that I could take photos professionally, but I do think I have an eye for some aspects of the craft and besides, I’m proud of my photos. In the last few years I’ve found that friends and family have responded well to my video clips as a way of sharing the photos. I choose the best images, sprinkle in a few seconds of video and tell the story of the event with the aid of a soundtrack in the background. I enjoy creating the clip and I think it’s low-risk to agree to a 5 minute video of our trip to Hawaii as opposed to seeing our photos and video from our trip to Hawaii (which could be completely unedited and run all afternoon!).

The most enjoyable way sharing these clips is with a cup of tea in our lounge room. The most effective way is through the internets, so it was time to work out an effective method of doing so.

My requirements:

  1. Photo sharing (der!) for many hundreds of images, grouped into tens of separate galleries
  2. Support for displaying geotagged images on a map, automatically
  3. Sharing of videos of a few minutes in length, preferably at up to a reasonable resolution (720p)
  4. Sharing videos where I’m using a soundtrack from an album in the background
  5. Photos and video in the same place, not on two different sites
  6. The interface looks stylish
  7. Low cost - \$50/yr is OK, free is better

Shouldn’t be too hard, should it?

Here’s what I found:

  • Flickr Pro: Videos are limited to 90 seconds. It’s a non-starter.
  • YouTube: Flags my videos as violating copyright. Meh. It’s a personal video for goodness sake. Fail. (and there’s no image support)
  • Facebook: Also flags my videos as violating copyright. No geotagging support. Fail.
  • Google Picasa Web: Nasty terms-of-service (I won’t grant Google the right to use and redistribute my photos). Google owns YouTube so I expect the copyright issue that spoiled my YouTube experience would apply to Picasa too. Yuk.
  • Photobucket: Takes the worst of MySpace ‘08 and Angelfire ‘98 then adds even more ads and visual clutter. It’s about my photos, not your ads. Next, please.
  • Gallery: I have pretty decent web hosting and could probably set this up again, but couldn’t be bothered. I’m a user, not a sysadmin. I just want things to work these days.
  • Apple MobileMe: Looks polished and professional and works seamlessly with my standard tools (iMovie & Aperture). I really wanted to try this, but there’s a long-running, known problem with using MasterCard to setup the MobileMe trial. I only have a MasterCard. Seriously, Apple, I wanted to give you money but you stopped me.
  • Smugmug Pro: cha-ching. It costs \$60/yr, but works a treat so I don’t mind. It’s easy for me to upload from Aperture and has the added bonus of being able to appear within my domain.

Note (Feb 2013): While I did choose to host my photos and videos at Smugmug after this exploration, I recently moved photos to Flickr and videos to Vimeo. I guess having everything in one place really wasn’t that important to me.