Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Online Pix Sites Are Something to See

Even before I had a digital camera I posted my photos online. This was back in 1999 and I had to scan each picture (and each scan took at least 3 minutes), optimizing them and then uploading through a dial-up connection (painful) to Excite's photo service. Excite went under and I moved my pictures to Yahoo Photos.

Yahoo Photos allowed good album organization, privacy controls, and simple photo editting. But there wasn't a good way to share pictures. Yes, I could make my photos public and, more recently, you could add friends to your photo network, but there were, and still are it seems, few people that were using Yahoo as a social network. I could email my photos, but over the last three years most of my pix have been of my baby and while I think every little thing she does is photo-worthy (at one point I worried all the flash photography I was doing of her would give her cataracts) I didn't want to inflict endless (and I mean A LOT) pix of her on everyone I knew.

So when Facebook came along, I thought it was a great way to post photos, because if my friends wanted to look at kid pix they could but they weren't forced too. I could also send photos out for people not on Facebook to view - great for grandparents. And commenting is cool too. But otherwise Facebook's photo service is pretty vanilla.

Last month, I got a notice that Yahoo Photos was finally shutting down. They encouraged me to move instead to Flickr, which Yahoo has owned for awhile but ran in parallel to their own service. I was dubious, even though Flickr is one of the biggest Canadian online success stories. So I moved my pix over but didn't bother to check out Flickr at all.

Recently, I had to write an article on Toronto's outdoor art and I needed a way to easily transfer my photos from home to work, so I uploaded them to Flickr. This was the beginning of me falling in love with Flickr.

I love Flickr's organization methods, specifically their albums and tagging (they also have collections which I don't know what they are yet). I love how you can download alternative sizes of the image and reference the photo's URL (as I've done below). I love how it shows all my camera details that I've never seen before.

Flickr also has a way-cool interactive map feature. You can "geotag" your photos to an exact location in the city and view it on a map, satellite image or hybrid. The one problem is that you can't identify the locations as the numbers refer to the number of pix at that spot. Also, it appears there is only one map per account and they can't be divided into sets.

I wish there was a way to automatically post my Flickr pix to Facebook! (If there is let me know.)

Since I spent so long on the outdoor art article and it was this article that started my Flickr affair, I have included it below. All thumbnails are hosted on Flickr and they link to the larger version on Flickr.

Exercise and edification
Downtown Toronto has many works of outdoor art (by outdoor art, I don’t mean that guy outside the Eaton Centre posing as a golden Elvis statue). Here are some sculptures & murals that are fun, famous or freaky.

For locations see the numbers below and view this map Or, I also have a Flickr map of these and other works of outdoor art.

1) Deconstruction Workers
"Monument to Construction Workers" by Margaret Priest and the Building Trade Unions
Each panel in this work represents a facet of buildings. It is located in Cloud Garden Park along with a large waterfall, a conservatory and rowdy skateboarders.

11) Upwardly Mobile
"City People" by Catherine Widgery
A series of mobiles and murals of average people lead up to a raised parkette over part of the Royal York hotel, where one will probably not encounter average people.

2) He Will Rock You
A golden idol of rock god Freddie Mercury to promote the Queen musical "We Will Rock You" at the Pantages theatre.

12) Splitting Headache
"Pi" by Evan Penny
The title could refer to the mind-bending effects of solving Pi. I like to use this as a funky bench.

3) Toronto’s Most Controversial Artwork
"The Archer" by Henry Moore
One of Toronto’s first public artworks and the public wasn't happy to fork for it, ultimately losing an election for the then-mayor. But after this tumultuous beginning arose a beautiful relationship with the City and Moore, resulting in the AGO having the best Moore collection.

13) Moove Over
"The Pasture" by Joe Fafard
This beloved herd of cattle, a reminder of our agrarian roots, is a humourous counterpoint to TD Centre's bleak minimalism.

4) Gumby Goes to Heaven
"Per Ardua Ad Astra" by Oscar Nemon
Toronto’s most criticized outdoor artwork. Meant as an air force memorial (the actual title is the motto of the RCAF), it looks like Gumby in one of his trademark elastic stretches.

14) (Dis)Honouring Capitalism
Toronto Stock Exchange frieze by Charles Comfort
Built during the Depression to praise capitalism, it subtly critiques it, however, with such images as a stockbroker with his hand in a worker's pocket.

5) You Support Justice
"Pillars of Justice" by Edwina Sandys
Built by Winston Churchill's granddaughter, it symbolizes citizens' role in the justice system with a missing pillar for you to assume your role in helping uphold justice.

15)Rampaging Elephant
"Tembo, Mother of Elephants" by Derrick Hudson
Lifelike elephant with two babies in tow. I have no idea what this is meant to represent.

6) Shadow of Himself
"Lineal Order" by George Boileau
This pathetic man and his spindly shadow serve to scare one to attendance at the church next door.

16) Market Crash
"Encounter" by William McElcheran
Two fat cat businessman so absorbed in their affairs they only connect when they crash into one another.

7) Fountain of Useless Information
"The Poet, The Fever Hospital" by Bernie Miller

Neat fountain, cool location and intriguing name though as one art historian puts it "interpretation is open to all" or in my words "it defies explanation".

17) Shrine to Hockey
"Our Game" by Edie Parker
Two sculptures by the Hockey Hall of Fame commemorate hockey's hallowed status, including the legendary 1972 Canada-Russia series.

8) Killer Freaky Bunnies
"Remembered Sustenance" by Cynthia Hurley
These strange creatures are for the site's daycare and a reminder of childhood imagination - however nightmarish and traumatizing that may be.

18) Happy Face Icon Is Now Art
"Immigrant Family" by Tom Otterness
The happy face icon has a body, a wife and child, though his current circumstance are nothing to smile about.

9) Another Crazy Glenn
"Glenn" by Ruth Abernethy
Famous pianist Glenn Gould's infamous eccentricities are reflected in this statue in front of the CBC.

19) Whaling Wall
"Heavenly Waters" by Wyland
This huge mural located on a Redpath Sugar building on the shores of Lake Ontario, show whales swimming about, which I've yet to see in said lake.

10) Simcoe Monument
"Campsite Founding" by Brad Golden & Lynne Eichenberg
One of the only monuments to our history, it documents our City and Province’s founder John Graves Simcoe and his wife, Elizabeth Posthuma.

20) Beer O'Clock
The wall of P.J. O'Briens displays a frothy beer and a clock with the wrong time, as if to say time doesn’t matter, it's always beer o'clock.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Second Dot Bomb To Hit Any Time Now

I’m reading a good book, dot.con by John Cassidy - see below to give it a read, on the heyday of dot coms and the Internet bubble of the late 1990s. The events described in the book seem to be happening again, with surreal valuations of Internet companies and hair brain online schemes coming out of the woodwork.

But the book has made me nostalgic for those glory days – the obligatory Fussball table, open and flowing bars, business meetings at Playdium, extravagant launch parties, expensive marketing campaigns, new technologies to learn every month, long hours and fat expense accounts.

While I’d like to think I was more level-headed than the others that got swept into the Internet insanity avalanche, I suppose my decision to go into the Internet field was influenced by rampant hyperbole in the media and business world.

At least I had good reason to go into the Net field. A friend at the time, however, quit her accountant career and took an Internet course to get into the then red-hot field (like many others she was back to her old career soon thereafter). For me though, I was working in dead-end jobs and had little luck putting my Film & Video degree to use. Still going into the Internet was rather crazy, as I didn’t have a computer, no email address, and had only been on the Net about 2 or 3 times before I decided to pursue a career in the field (I did work briefly for an Internet company earlier, by temping for Macromedia in their big launch of Dreamweaver). I almost went into eco-tourism instead as I loved travel so much. But I thought my media education and interest would be more suitable to the Internet. I also thought that television would be on the Net soon and my Film & Video degree would finally pay off!

After the dot bomb things kept chugging along and I thought there was much more sanity in the field. But the excitement over web 2.0 seemed to have history repeating itself again which is bad enough except that it’s happening again so soon!

Yes lately there’s been great reason for excitement (eg. social networking, participatory media, RSS, tagging, the semantic web, etc.).

But a news item today sums up the return to insanity. (As if the purchase price of Club Penguin wasn’t loopy enough, see my prior post on this.)

In MediaPost’s Just an Online Minute Wendy Davis describes the situation of Internet startup Eons. I hadn’t heard of it before, probably as it’s geared to baby boomers, but it was yet another social networking website. There are a gazillion already and really Facebook (& possibly MySpace) and LinkedIn, plus a handful of others are all that will ever be useful.

Eons, as recently as last March, received $22 million dollars plus another $10 million last year. Unsurprisingly, they have not delivered and the company is laying off one third of its staff.

Perhaps dot.con should be mandatory reading for anyone working or investing in the Net.