Super Captcha

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

My trusty steedREI released a playlist of downloadable MP3s for the upcoming skiing and snowboarding season. In order to download each song, though, you have to pass a captcha - a captcha that’s animated with shifting position and colors - which is a bit of a challenge even if you are a human!

It seems a bit overkill to have a captcha here in the first place. The site itself is a Flash monstrosity that few robots or crawlers would be able to parse, and the the songs are free downloads anyway. The only justification I can see is conservation of bandwidth, though given the number of sponsor logos, I don’t imagine this is a cash strapped operation.

Cloud Computing vs Platforms

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

I’m going to be recapping some recent talks I participated in on cloud computing, so by way of introduction, here’s a post from Marc Andreesen detailing the three kinds of platforms you meet on the Internet (cloud computing being Level 3):

A Level 1 platform’s apps run elsewhere, and call into the platform via a web services API to draw on data and services — this is how Flickr does it.

A Level 2 platform’s apps run elsewhere, but inject functionality into the platform via a plug-in API — this is how Facebook does it. Most likely, a Level 2 platform’s apps also call into the platform via a web services API to draw on data and services.

A Level 3 platform’s apps run inside the platform itself — the platform provides the “runtime environment” within which the app’s code runs.

Ethics and the $500 Blog Entry

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

Last week I received an unusual offer: $500 to remove a blog entry that a company didn’t like customers seeing in search results for their name.

Don't tread on meIt gave me a brief pause, but was a pretty quick decision: I simply felt it was unethical to take payment in exchange for my right to free speech. One of the nice things about this being my personal blog is that only that argument mattered, with no trade-off against management, advertiser, or investor considerations. If I have one goal here, it’s to share information of interest to the audience, however small it might be.

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New Front Page: WordPress Without Themes

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

If you read this via feed or email, don’t miss out on the new front page. Since this site is now as much about photography as blogging, I wanted the front page to reflect both. It also has a few other cool features: hover over the slideshow to pause it, click an image to see its details or buy a print, and hover over any blog title to see a one-paragraph preview. The blog and gallery themes also received fresh headers.

I plan to update the slideshow occasionally, so please nominate your favorite photos in the comments.

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Multi-Tag Search for Gallery2

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

You can now search by multiple tags in my photo gallery! (Since spaces are usually allowed in tags, the whole search was previously treated as one tag.) If you’d like to add this feature to your own Gallery2 installation, replace TagsSearch.class with the file in this zip:

Download Multi-Tag Search for Gallery2

Unity Press at Enterprise 2.0

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Unity at Enterprise 2.0It’s pretty cool to see one of my former projects, the Unity enterprise social suite, getting plenty of coverage at the Enterprise 2.0 conference. (Naturally, the news came to me through the social grapevine of my del.icio.us network.) I was involved in the first year or so of the project, and it looks like it’s really evolved - this photo by David Terrar gives you a hint.

As noted in the articles, it was a big undertaking with lots of technical challenges. Sharepoint seems a little overemphasized; we also built a handful of custom web applications, feed infrastructure (ATOM as well as RSS), Google Search Appliance integration (one of my contributions), NewsGator Enterprise, and security.

Shawn Dahlen, Mihir Patel, and Matt Becker all in mid-sentanceOf course, the bigger challenge in any enterprise is cultural adoption by employees and management. To that end, deploying enterprise 2.0 takes passionate advocates from project management to grassroots early adopters. The Unity team has carved a solid beachhead there, so it’ll be exciting to see how it continues to grow!

Sharpening Gallery2

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

This week’s Assignment: Sharp on DPS made me realize that the resized photos in my gallery always loose the sharpness they originally had. Thankfully, that problem has already been solved in Gallery2; this post explains how to automatically sharpen images on resize. Once that’s in place, you can dump the cache of existing images by deleting your g2data/derivatives folder.

Here’s a quick example of a normal and processed resize using the 0.2 setting from the above post:

SEO Haiku

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

You’ve climbed to the top of Google, or at least to the first page. Now how do you make sure you get that click through to your site?

Quick, describe your site in 155 characters or less - that’s how much of your meta description is going to be displayed below your (already optimized) site title. Here’s what I came up with:

Nature, sports, & event photographer for hire in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. Blogs on the intersection of technology & modern life.

In Wordpress, you can set this in Admin > Settings > Description. In Gallery2, it will be the description of your album, which you can override in the theme if needed. Google may take a week or two to reflect the changes.

What’s in a Naymz?

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

I was recently invited to join Naymz, a professional social networking site like LinkedIn, but with more emphasis on reputation. Going through the initial setup and looking around, several features caught my eye:

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LinkedIn Company Profiles

Friday, May 9th, 2008

I happened to click on a LinkedIn Company Profile today, and realized it provides metrics that most companies themselves don’t. These range from things that are hard to track (where do people go on to work afterwards), to ones human resources more closely guards (age and gender). Of course, these are just from the LinkedIn crowd; some companies aren’t as young or diverse as that subset appears. In any case, it’s one more source of information about employers, and potentially a gauge of how Web 2.0 and social network savvy a company is as a whole.