CC

I thought it would be useful to do a short post about Creative Commons, what it is and why I use it.

Creative Commons (CC) allows others to use the photos that I’ve taken without the need to ask permission. It also allows me to place restrictions on how the photos are used, should I wish to do so. The only requirement that applies to all of the variations of the CC licence is that attribution is given. That is, if you use my photos then you must credit me.

By default I share my photos under the “Attribution-ShareAlike” variation. This means that not only can you reuse my photos as they are, but that you are free to use them as a basis for other works – so long as you then share that work under the same licence.

I have considered the use of more restrictive licences (and occasionally need to use such) but this version has been pretty much problem free since February 2009 when I started using it.

Questions

Why do you even bother sharing your photos? It’s effort right?

To my mind there is little/no point in taking photos if they don’t get seen. I’m old enough to remember when photographs were printed on paper. I have a large collection of them. They’re in the Boots cardboard folders, in a box, under the stairs. Sad!

Why don’t you charge for them and become rich?!

Because as soon as you get paid for something it becomes a job. You have to deliver something of value in exchange for the money that you get paid. I enjoy photography as a hobby.

What are the rewards for the effort involved?

First, I get into places for free! I used to attend ThinkVisibility for free because I took photos at the first one. I now get to watch loads of roller derby for free, and stand in the middle of the track whilst doing so. It’s great! (When I say ‘free’ here I mean that there is no exchange of money in either direction. I don’t buy a ticket to get in, but I don’t get paid for the hours of work sorting through, tagging and titling photos.)

Second, if people are happy with the photos I’ve taken then they use them. People generally don’t like having their photo taken. It’s such a compliment when someone chooses to use one of my photos as their profile picture on Facebook.

Third, as people like/share my photos then I get a reputation and a portfolio and so I get to take more photos.

Do you have a preference for attribution?

The best way that people can give credit is to link back to the photo on Flickr. When people follow that link they will discover other photos. Flickr provides statistics on the number of views. It’s satisfying to see a peak following an event:

Flickr stats, April 2014This peak, of over 8,600 views in a day, was from the B-HARD vs SOFT game :-)

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Libraries, bookshops and e-readers

Recently I nipped out of the office at lunchtime to get some air. I called into WHSmith, not for any particular reason, just to browse I suppose, and saw the book to the right: The Most Human Human

The cover is delightful, the title intriguing; I picked it up and began to read. It was fascinating! I wanted it. Whilst Amazon do their best to feed me adverts for stuff I might want, bookshops offer the opportunity to easily discover books quite by accident. However, I have found that WHSmith always have higher prices than any other shop. I checked Amazon, found it on Kindle and within minutes had it on my phone at half the price.

I have also been visiting the library every week recently to get books for Wendy (my partner). She broke her ankle and was in plaster. She reads crime novels, lots of crime novels, more so whilst she was off sick. These events lead me to consider libraries, bookshops and e-readers.

I’m opposed to Kindle for a number of reasons:

  • Kindle uses a DRM format
  • Users can’t easily share or pass on content
  • The format doesn’t allow for easy navigation
  • You can’t borrow Kindle books from the library

The first of two of these are obvious, the third and forth perhaps less so. I find that because an e-book has no physical form it’s not so easy to comprehend where I am in the book. With a physical book "about half way" has a meaning, it feels like half-way. It’s also fast and easy to flip between pages, useful when reading technical matter. Page numbers are also rather meaningless. For example, a quick check of the book I’m currently reading (Bravo Two Zero) gives my position as 847 of 7340. Is that 7,340 pages? If I had a Kindle, with it’s larger display, would I have fewer pages? It doesn’t make sense.

The restrictions make it difficult to borrow books from a library, but not impossible. But it’s not how Amazon anticipate users will use the books. They want users to buy the book, even if they only read it once. This is how Wendy reads crime novels; once. I keep a list of books that I have borrowed for her, to avoid duplicates. If she had purchased these on Kindle, at an estimate of £5 each, it would have cost her over £100. That’s a lot of money for books that she won’t read again and can’t pass on to friends/charity shops.

On the other hand though I find Kindle (on my phone) useful:

  • I always have a book to hand if I’m bored
  • I can carry many books and I don’t even realise it
  • I can read at night in the dark
  • If I see a book I like I can get it immediately at a reasonable price

So as you can see, I’m torn. What are your thoughts about e-books?

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Internet Explorer #fail #hate

I was asked if I could create a page on the intranet that had navigation something like this:

Page navigation with heading left and two rows of four buttons

This is the Firefox rendered version, I don’t have the original Word document. The requested design had top right corners clipped, but Sharepoint messes with CSS. I created it with HTML/CSS as a list, so that it would degrade nicely. I just sat there, design on one display editing on the other. After a while you understand the language. You know what to alter in the code to make it look right. A few iterations and I was happy with it, so I published it.

Now, I’m lucky enough to be allowed to use Firefox in the office. Everyone else uses Internet Explorer. I have IE8 installed on my machine. I didn’t test it in IE (yeah, I know!) I just assumed that it would look ok.

I rang the requester. They weren’t happy with the result:

broken rendering in Internet Explorer

Well, I can see why! So I checked it in Chrome:

Page navigation rendered by Chrome, heading top left, two rows of four buttons

Chrome and Firefox agree on what it should look like.

And this is why I hate Internet Explorer! It takes my thoughts, my translation of them into HTML/CSS, and completely mangles them! It’s not the first time I’ve seen this either. Previously I have had minutes render as I invisaged in Firefox, Opera, Safari and Chrome but fail in IE.

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Invisibility

Well, I think I’ve found my next big challenge; Making channel-e visible in Google search results. (Yeah, I know, I have lots of slow moving/stalled projects going on, whatever.)

I was on my phone just now and couldn’t be bovvered to type “channel-e.co.uk”. Instead I searched for “channel-e”.  This site might be on the list. Somewhere. But I got bored looking for it.

Time to put into practice some of that stuff I’ve heard about at Think Visibility :-)

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Email Exemplar [action]

There’s a fad at the moment of adding “[action]” to email subject lines when the sender expects the recipient to do something. It really annoys me; here’s why.

If someone sends something “To” me then there is an expectation that I will read it. I’ll consider it and if necessary  I’ll take/plan action. What the sender is actually saying is closer to “[my stuff is so important, do it now!]”.  Well no, no I won’t.

So what about those email messages that I receive that are just for information? A courtesy perhaps so that I’m aware of a situation. Well, that’s what the CC box is for. Use it wisely.

As far as I can tell this “email exemplar” crap has come from a company. Well done to them, I suppose, for finding enough idiots willing to buy training materials from them. They had a website for a bit, but it’s back to the Square Space holding page now. Perhaps the idiot pool dried up?

Email ain’t broke, so don’t try and fix it.  Use To is you want action and CC for informational messages.  (BCC when sending to large groups where recipients need to be hidden.)

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Moving to WordPress

I keep having thoughts that I want to share, or moan about, or both. A blog seems like the right way to do these things, and I’m told WordPress is really easy to use.  We will see.

The process has started then to migrate my channel-e site from plain old HTML to WordPress.  Along the way I want to learn how to make WordPress serve clean pages.  I’ve always edited my websites by hand, so I don’t really care for bloated pages.

Update: A big plus for WordPress is that it’s released under the GPL.

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