Tag Archives: Thomas Hawk

Discovering Great Flickr Pictures

Last week, blogging photographer Thomas Hawk wrote a great piece extolling the virtues of FriendFeed for discovering great pictures on Flickr.

I’m certainly with him in that respect for a couple of reasons. Firstly, unlike the contacts page on Flickr itself, FriendFeed has a nice expanding interface that allows you to see all the picture thumbnails in a particular batch. Secondly, it shows you more than the Flickr contacts page, in particular it shows you pictures your contacts have marked as favourites, and also pictures posted and marked as favourites by their FriendFeed contacts. As a result you get a great, and sometimes pretty eclectic collection of great pictures coming through. Thanks to the filtering features you can even get to a page of only Flickr items.

The down side? Back to the old chestnut of having to manually add people to FriendFeed, which is an incredibly tedious process with a lot of contacts (Thomas has over 9000).

So what sort of things have I been finding? Check out this great set of pictures of Ghost Towns of Saskatchewan from bonedad:


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Flickr Adds Video – People Start to Moan

It didn’t take long for a group of Flickr users to start kicking up a fuss about the latest new feature. Lets face it, it seems it doesn’t take long for a group of Flickr users to start kicking up a fuss about almost any change – indeed I myself have moaned about some of the ill thought out ones such as the initial change to forcing users to use Yahoo accounts when the mobile site didn’t support it – and after some bad experiences with Yahoo I was less than keen at the prospect of having to deal with them for accounts.

The latest change to cause people to get upset is the addition of video. Thomas Hawk has a page collecting together the negative feedback, the general gist being that Flickr is a photo site, and videos should go elsewhere, for example YouTube.

However, when you actually look at what Flickr say they are trying to do, it isn’t the same as YouTube. They specifically limit video clips to 90 seconds, so rather than going after people with video cameras, they are targeting people with modern digital cameras that can shoot short clips of video too. It’s not all the time, but there are occasions now when I will be switching backwards and forwards between taking static shots and short video clips, and currently the clips go to a video site such as YouTube or Vimeo and the pictures to Flickr. Sometimes I edit multiple clips together for a longer video, however in general to tell a visual story, I really want the clips and the pictures mixed in together – just the kind of thing that Flickr is now offering.

The issue really is that there are now a number of distinct groups on Flickr. There are some very vocal photography fans, and indeed some fantastic pictures on the site. Equally there are people that are using the site to share holiday snaps with friends and family, or even just as a convenient way to host up visual content for their sites. By far the biggest group of users are the everyday snappers, but equally those are also the ones who probably least use features like the forums and the groups, whereas the photography fans make a lot of use of these to look at some of the great pictures you can find on the site. Flickr have provided the ability for moderators of the groups to restrict submissions to photographs only, so these groups can continue to focus only on photography, but unfortunately there seem to be some users who object to the mere presence of video because it affects the purity of the site.

From my point of view, I like browsing through some of the impressive pictures you can find, but equally for the kind of use I make of my camera now, for the occasions when I need movement, the support for short video clips is ideal – well done Flickr, great addition.

Stealing Pictures

A few days ago, Thomas Hawk highlighted the misuse of a photographers picture posted online. It’s not something new, every so often a story surfaces of pictures being ripped off – indeed a while ago it transpired that there was a company in London called Only-Dreemin running a business selling prints of other peoples pictures. However this is decidedly more sleazy. The photographer in question is a talented seventeen-year-old, and the picture in question was a self-portrait she took when she was fourteen. The people who stole the picture? A company selling porn movies, and the picture is on the cover of one of their DVD’s… Quite apart from the theft of the picture, the fact that they used a minor on the cover is illegal too. Check out her story, the reaction from the company, and the picture at the centre of the whole episode here.

Playing Trains

I’ve just finished watching the latest of Robert Scoble’s Photowalking videos with Thomas Hawk. This time Scoble reveals himself as a bit of a train buff, as they go around the California State Railroad Museum. Thomas has some great close up shots up on his own blog. Maybe someone should take Scoble up to our own National Railway Museum next time he is in the UK.

Anyway, it was strangely appropriate, as whilst watching that, I was going through the rather tedious process of rebuilding my Microsoft Train Simulator install following my switch to Vista. Unfortunately the package is one of the many that have hiccups with the new security model under Vista, although setting the application to run as an administrator has thus far seemed to solve most problems.

What takes the time though, is replacing all the add-on’s I had installed. In total, my previous install had almost 4gb of various trainsets from around the world, including quite a few British add-ons from Making Tracks, and a couple of US outline add-ons too.

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It has to be said, that the electronic train-set has come a long way since the first one appeared on the market back in 1985. Southern Belle simulated the London to Brighton line, thanks to wire-frame graphics of key landmarks on the route. Although there were various activities, essentially you were limited to that one route.

Microsoft Train Simulator gives you a potentially infinite world in which to play, thanks to the pretty open architecture. So whilst the original release included routes from the USA, Japan, Austria and the UK, a pretty impressive add-on industry has grown up.

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The game engine is not surprisingly much more powerful, allowing you to produce quite atmospheric views, a far cry from the old wireframe graphics back in 1985.

However, the game wasn’t quite the success that was hoped for in 2001, so it looked like that would be it. However, Kuju, the company behind the original release has been working on a successor, Rail Simulator, and now it seems that Microsoft themselves are going to do a sequel using the graphics engine from Flight Simulator X.

Anyway, back to the current choice, Microsoft Train Simulator. The real annoyance with the reinstall, is how tedious it is having to install all the individual extensions, especially those that don’t query the OS about the install folder (on Vista 64 the game ends up in ‘Program Files (x86)’…) – worse still are those which don’t have an installer at all, and you’re left copying and replacing game files all over the place. Hopefully the sequels will handle the expansion market a bit better and give some foolproof way for third-parties to extend the game… It will also be interesting to see whether the spiritual successor (Rail Simulator), or the official Microsoft offering grab the market.

Watching the ScobleShow

Over the past couple of days I’ve been watching the first fruits of Robert Scoble’s much publicised move to PodTech. I have to say that I’ve not watched any of his Channel9 stuff, partly because all of that was (not surprisingly) in the somewhat less Mac friendly Windows Media format. However with the ScobleShow I was just able to plug it straight in alongside the other pod-casts I have set up in iTunes.

I kicked off with a look at the Photowalking items, where Scoble goes out and about with Thomas Hawk, someone who could probably be described as one of the stars of Flickr. Above is one of the shots that Thomas took during the walk that Scoble filmed. In terms of content, the Photowalking items were great, the main annoyance was the camera work. Whereas Thomas is able to sort out his images after the event to compensate for the lighting effects, Scoble was having real problems with the video camera as the automatics struggled to cope with the dusk lighting conditions, there are also times in the item when it really would have helped to have two cameras, since as Thomas spotted something interesting, the camera would swing round to try and catch it on video. I guess it’s the limitation of the one man and camera set up that Scoble is using, and also the fact that he is trying something new here. As Scoble says himself on his blog he’s fully expecting the show to suck for the first couple of months as he plays around and learns things. Having said that, it’s worth saying that from what I’ve seen so far it doesn’t really suck in my opinion – but it will certainly be a better viewing experience when Robert has found out a bit more what works and what doesn’t!

Anyway, the item I’ve found most interesting so far has been the visit to Printing For Less who run an internet based print operation from an office in rural Montana. The item is a great example of why in these days of high-speed internet connections and reliable courier services someone can run a successful and profitable business from what is effectively the middle of nowhere. From what we saw on the tour the staff are happy, the location is fantastic, and they are making money without having to cut corners on equipment – everybody had at least a dual screen set up, most had three screens. I can’t speak for the actual quality of the output as however cheap their prices, the fact I’d have to pay international shipping charges, plus the fact that being a US company their standard paper sizes are totally non-standard for the rest of the world resulting in anything I would want printing being a special order, I doubt it would be that cheap from here! However as an example of a successful internet business, and an interesting tour for someone who know little about commercial printing it was a great item.

So as a start, the ScobleShow is definitely an entertaining watch, and I’ll look forward to more to come in the future.