This old skool Flickr user doesn’t care

From: FlickrHQ
Subject: Update for Old Skool members

Dear Old Skool Account-Holding Flickr Member,

On March 15th we’ll be discontinuing the old email-based Flickr sign in system. From that point on, everyone will have to use a Yahoo! ID to sign in to Flickr.

It seems that everyone is up in arms about recent changes at Flickr:

  • Flickr and Yahoo! accounts must be merged into a Yahoo! login. If you have multiple Flickr account then you’re logging in and out of Flickr all the time, now do it with Yahoo! Surely you do most of your Flickr work in one account anyway, so why not make that the one your main Yahoo! account?
  • Tags and Contacts are going to be limited. I see that this would affect a tiny minority of the userbase on Flickr, unfortunately for Flickr it’s likely to be the most active (and vocal?) membership. I also feel for Thomas with his Where I’ve Been Lately image because a lot of those tags will be removed but does anyone else have more than 75 legitimate tags on a photo? I’m sure I only have 15 at most on mine. Limiting contacts will hurt the most prolific users of the site such as Thomas Hawk, but others are probably just spamming the system.

Yes, the changes to tags and contacts will hurt a tiny minority but for almost everyone on the site it won’t make any difference. Yes, the change to using Yahoo! IDs will mean Yahoo knows about your photos, but if they know about your email and stock portfolio already what are you worried about? They’ve got more than enough demograpic data to go on to market to you!

Unfortunately I can’t recommend Zooomr either because their service is so slow – images take an age to download, and when they do download, they aren’t cached by the browser. It’s really frustrating using Zooomr.com when it’s so slow as it has so much potential and the people behind it are so smart and full of ideas! Fix the slow connection, caching and add a “blog by email” feature and I’d be over to Zooomr faster than you can say “Flickr sucks!”

There are plenty of pissed off Flickr users, but I’m not one of them. Have a nice day!

Update: Treasa is as upset as I am! Oh Lordy!

Update 2: Richard isnt worried either. Definitely a storm in a teacup.

Is Zooomr slow for you too?

One of the things stopping me hugging and embracing Zooomr is how slow it is for me to view images off their servers. Take for example the image on this post on Thomas Hawk’s blog. There are two things wrong with it:

  1. It’s 241k, but it downloads on my fast shiny broadband connection like it’s ten times bigger. Brings me back to the good old days of dialup and a modem connection. Remember how that was? Oh, there’s the connection made, first bit of the image, oh oh, a small bit more, half way there, yawn, zzzzzz. I’ve fallen asleep.
  2. It’s not cachable. Every time you reload that page the whole image has to download again. Go check out what the cacheability engine thinks.

    *
    http://static.zooomr.com/images/265853_8ec115b6db.jpg
    Date Thu, 14 Dec 2006 09:22:30 GMT
    Expires –
    Cache-Control –
    Last-Modified –
    ETag –
    Content-Length 241.9K (247754)
    Server lighttpd/1.4.13

    This object will be considered stale, because it doesn’t have any freshness information assigned. It doesn’t have a validator present.

    Compare that with the image from my previous post:

    *
    http://static.flickr.com/131/322052492_c728e66f9e_o.jpg
    Date Thu, 14 Dec 2006 09:24:50 GMT
    Expires –
    Cache-Control –
    Last-Modified 2 min 28 sec ago (Thu, 14 Dec 2006 09:22:22 GMT) validated
    ETag –
    Content-Length 127.2K (130220)
    Server Apache/2.0.52 (Red Hat)

    This object doesn’t have any explicit freshness information set, so a cache may use Last-Modified to determine how fresh it is with an adaptive TTL (at this time, it could be, depending on the adaptive percent used, considered fresh for: 29 sec (20%), 1 min 14 sec (50%), 2 min 28 sec (100%)). It can be validated with Last-Modified. The clock on this Web server appears to be set incorrectly; this can cause problems when calculating freshness.

    Despite the problems reported above the image is cached by my browser and even with a force reload, it loads quicky.

I’m not sure how to fix the first problem except by adding a faster pipe to the servers hosting the data or upgrading the hosting hardware, but the second problem is very easy to fix using eTags and better headers. There are numerous tutorials and even code examples out there. Please, please, please look into it and make your images more cacheable! Your European neighbours will really appreciate it!

Looking for a wedding photographer?

When Thomas Hawk had a less than satisfactory experience with a family photographer he blogged about it and the resulting discussion is interesting because there are comments from customers and photographers. The problem is that photographs own the copyright of any images they take. They don’t have to give the customer digital files because part of the revenue stream photographers depend on is making prints. The reasoning goes that the customer can make as many prints as they want if they had the files.

If you think portrait photography is over-priced, consider for a moment the investment the photographer has made in equipment, time, insurance, salaries and other expenses. They have to make a living too. Chris Garrett provides his own views on the matter with some good advice:

  1. Discuss beforehand your requirements (both Photographer and client)
  2. Provide the option of work-for-hire rather than traditional portrait shoot.

My own experiences with a photographer were much more positive. We hired Mike English to shoot our wedding after making enquiries of many other photographers. Mike is based in Cork and works from home so he can keep his costs down, a bonus when you’re paying for an expensive wedding. From the moment we met him he was pleasant and patient, answering our questions and showing us prints of past weddings. Most importantly, he’s very good at what he does. We have great memories and photos of the day and he gave us the digital files so I can work on the photos in my own time and compile a wedding album myself. Oh, and his son shot the video and did a great job, without a huge halogen lamp beaming down on the dance floor. I still cringe when I see my speech however!