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Posts from the ‘5) Other’ Category


On Free Images

I haven’t been able to make money by making images. I can’t keep up with the business side of things for same reasons that I can’t ride-or-drive on a racetrack; I am disabled. Also: if it’s a choice between tires, and photos, the racer is going to choose tires. That’s OK.

I’d love to get paid, but I want to make things, because doing-so makes me feel good. Making things, and helping others, gives life meaning.

So why do I post links to products on and 500px? So far, it’s because I don’t want to upset the pro photographers that get mad when someone gives an image away.

Software developers legally share programs that took thousands of hours to create. Much of the software that runs entire industries includes APIs that are free (gratis and-or libre), or on Linux. Free software is integral to Java, C++, IOS, Android, OS X, and almost everything else out there. There’s even free software from Apple inside Android.

It wasn’t always like this. Companies kept their source code secret, because they believed that was a competitive advantage. There was a strong prejudice against free software for many years. People said, “You can’t get the best work for free,” and people called free software “unfair competition.” We now live in an age where even Microsoft supports Linux for its customers.

So why doesn’t this work for photography? I am not sure that it doesn’t. Photographers often use other people’s images, and videos, on their websites. This is like the software-world; it’s just on a smaller scale.

Trey Ratcliff, and others, have been successful, in part, because they do share their photos. Trey writes about this in “Go Ahead, Steal This Photo and Make Prints“.  “Steal” is a euphemism; Trey’s photos have Creative Commons Noncommercial licenses.

Here’s the thing: for the most part, people don’t buy images, because they want to support photography. Publishers buy images, because they want to produce great magazines. Couples buy wedding photos, because people want a great wedding. Advertisers hire photographers, because they want to make great ads. These are the people that pay.

Some people make-it-big by making art, but most of us don’t expect pay for doing something fun. We don’t expect pay for skiing, although there are pros. We don’t expect pay for surfing, although there are pros. We will make photos, even without pay, because that’s fun too. If this bothers you, then please don’t let it. We aren’t going away.


A Pixel Is Not A Little Square (or anything else that’s shown in this video)

This video was shared by a couple of my favorite photography websites. Here are some of my thoughts about it.

I highly doubt that the analog-video-tech described in the video inspired digital-imagery, at least not directly. Pixelated” (rasterized) images are closely related to arrays, which are data structures that existed long before computers had video terminals. Rasterized-image history started with the teletype. Teletypes created images just like typewriters.

OK: so if pixels were digital, and video was analog, then why did they both have lines? Because books have lines!

The pixels that make up an image, are exactly the same regardless of which display technology is used. So the RGB designs at the end of this video are not pixels. (Where he says, “shapes and sizes on a variety of screens.”)

Pixels are one-dimensional points, just like in geometry class. To get a better understand this, you could read Alvy Ray’s essay: “A Pixel Is Not A Little Square! (And a Voxel is Not a Little Cube)“. If my next paragraph doesn’t sound right, well, Alvy Ray has a more precise explanation.

Now you might be thinking of how when you zoom into a picture you can see the squares that make up the image, but the decision to render the image as squares when you are zoomed-in is something that the computer programmer chose to do. Also: the squares are easier for an artist to deal with when zoomed-in to a paint program (such as Photoshop). As an alternative, the programmer could have chosen to calculate the hues and brightness for the points (pixels) in between the current pixel data, and rendered those when zoomed-in.

Digital video is even stranger. It doesn’t have pixels in it, instead it has a digital representation of what the CRT guns would do, if displays had CRT guns, which they no longer have. That’s why we still use terms like “progressive scan”, and 1080p, instead of 1290×1080. This is a historical artifact. We had video, we needed to digitize it, so we took what we had (analog wave forms), and digitized those.

One thing that’s cool about this is that it’s efficient. If 1080p at 30 fps digital video were a series of rasterized bitmaps, then its uncompressed size would require 1,003,104,000 kbps (24 bits per pixel * 1290 horizontal resolution * 1080 vertical resolution * 30 fps). Another thing that’s cool about it, is that it’s naturally anti-aliased, at least for each line.


More Science!

American manufacturing isn’t growing relative to the-countries-that-are-currently-undergoing-an-industrial-revolution, our children are being taught to hate science, and our public schools don’t teach computer programming. Without more research, more production, or more software, what do we have to contribute to the global economy? Less-than-we-did-before is what I fear.


Frozen River “Geography Quiz”

The movie Frozen River may have made a mistake regarding the geography of Akwesasne and Massena NY. I say “may have”, because the borders are complex there: the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne incorporates parts of two Canadian provinces and one US state. Mohawk residents can buy-and-sell goods to Canadians without collecting taxes, and they can buy-and-sell goods to Americans without collecting taxes, but they cannot buy goods from the citizens one country and sell them to citizens of the other country without collecting taxes. If they do, then it’s smuggling, and smuggling does go on via our northern border: fuel, cigarettes, etc.

IMDB (which hasn’t approved my “Ontario” edit yet) and Wikipedia (which now has my Ontario edit) describe the movie as taking place “near Quebec”. Which is accurate, but the movie depicts the Ontario-side of Akwesasne. The movie specifically shows Ray driving towards the General Motors Powertrain Castings Foundry Massena on State Highway 37. This is one of the few places in the movie that could only have been filmed near Massena. Massena’s GM plant, ALCOA plant, State Highway 37, and international border between Massena NY and Cornwall Ontario share the same traffic circle. How likely am I to be correct here? Akwesasne does straddle New York, Quebec, and Ontario, but the Quebec part is south of the river, so Ray wouldn’t cross the river before entering Quebec from New York.

Because of these aspects, I believe that the movie shows Ray driving over the ice from the US to Canada via Cornwall Island, but the St. Lawrence Seaway passes Cornwall Island on the south side. It can freeze, but the Canadian Coast Guard runs ice breakers through there, so driving on the ice is unlikely to happen on the south side of the island. It’s also true that the Seaway closes for part of the winter, but the place where she drives is perfectly flat, and not like a place where ice had been broken by ships before refreezing.

A little story:

Some friends and I went to a bar-and-grille in Cornwall Ontario for a farewell-celebration before I moved to Texas. We played NTN there. We were doing very well, and beating other online teams, until we got a question “wrong”. What was the question? “Cornwall is in what Canadian Province?” What answer did NTN grade as correct? “Quebec”. We were actually in a Cornwall bar, and it was in Ontario: not Quebec!



Bill O’Reilly, and Donald Rumsfeld, on the risk in Iraq

I didn’t expect this from Fox News. We are in a strange place, where any criticism of war, is viewed as a criticism of our soldiers, when that is not the case. If anything: we should avoid war, because we care about our soldiers.

Bill O’Reilly explains that the American people were not told the risks, and that he didn’t know the risks. Mr. O’Reilly said to Rumsfeld, “Did I know that [all of] Saddam’s infrastructure [would] be fired, so that they would be teed off, and come back and shoot you?” and “Did I know that the Sunnis were going to be shut out, and were going to be so angry, that they would attack American soldiers? I didn’t know any of that.”

Mr. Rumsfeld then replies with, “In fact, [the Iraqi army] disbanded itself, and [Paul] Bremer, and the coalition authority have been criticized for that.” Um… No. Paul Bremer, an American, serving as Iraq’s head of state, disbanded the army, with CPA Order #2.


Tragically Hip: Concert in a Fort

I saw the Tragically Hip, and The Pursuit of Happiness play at Kingston Ontario‘s Fort Henry for a School of Nursing benefit.

As Gordon Downie sang “Loose and complete under skies so smokey blue-green“, I observed that the sky was actually smokey blue-green, I was leaning on a canon, on the wall of an ancient fort, at a rock and roll show, and watching sailboats in the Saint Lawrence from that very same wall. When else does a museum-fort smell like pot? No when-else

A conversation, in line, before the concert (as accurate as I can remember, this was over 20 years ago):

  • Ben: “Why are there old people here? This is a rock concert.”
  • Paul (myself): “I don’t know. Maybe they are related?”
  • Ben to Man-in-line: “Excuse me sir, are your related to anyone in the band?”
  • Man-in-line, “Why yes, I am the bass player’s father. I am Dean of the School of Medicine.”
  • Ben, “I am working on my Physics PhD at Clarkson.”
  • Man-in-line, “I went to school with a guy that wrote stuff on Post-Its, put them together, and that was [the thesis for] his physics PhD.”

The Tragically Hip’s second record,  Up to Here, went diamond. A quick calculation based on a Google search shows that that-makes-it three times more popular per capita, in Canada, than Michael Jackson’s Thriller was in the US.

Interestingly, or not, I was offered a position at another fort (recreated I believe) called Fort William Henry (as in The Last of the Mohicans). My job, if I had chosen to accept it, would have been to throw tomahawks at targets. No, I am not a real Native American. Most of my family has only been in the USA for a few generations. Yes, they expected me to wear my anachronistic eye glasses.

Here’s “New Orléans is Sinking”. That’s the song with the “skies so smokey blue-green”. It was released over 15 years before Hurricane Katrina, so it was meant as no-disrespect. The “sinking” is probably a pun about the St. James Cemetary, and having a rough time of it.
Here’s what Fort Henry is like when it isn’t hosting a rock and roll show:


Volleyball: A True Underdog Story

I worked with this guy that needed to submit to a spanking in order to graduate from High School.

He was one of the non-jocks at the school. This is the mean streets of L.A… Lower Arkansas. If you want to understand L.A., then forget “Boys ‘n the Hood“, and watch “Winter’s Bone“. 

At the end of the Senior year they held a volleyball tournament. This would determine whether the Football players, or the Basketball players were the better athletes: apparently.

So the kids-who-are-picked-last played volleyball. All year they practiced, and when the time came, they beat every athlete at their school. When they won the title, my buddy walked up to the net, and said to the Basketball players, “That’s how we do it in my house.”

That spanking? The Principal said that it was for “inciting a race riot.” To be sure: it wasn’t about that. It was about the kids-who-are-picked-last-in-gym-class showing what they could do.





Wasp: Stabby McStabberson


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