People have often told me, I need more images on my blog. Images get people to stop and look, and, if you're lucky, read a little bit. Yet, mostly, I haven't gotten around to it. You see, I love words. I love text. Putting words together has always been easy.
I typically tell people I'm not really a visual sort of person. Yet that's not exactly right. I was in the photography club in junior high school. I had an early fifties vintage Exacta SLR. I would roll my own canisters of black and white film, shoot roll after roll, and then spend hours in the darkroom developing the film and making prints.
I learned some of the tricks back then of over exposing, under exposing, burning in clouds, and so on, but while ability to craft words made it over to the Internet, my photography never has. Now, recently developments online are causing me to consider ramping up my digital image making.
One thing that has gotten me thinking about this is Pinterest. People 'pin' articles on their boards at Pintrest, and this seems to be very image driven. Perhaps, if I want to keep building audience here, I need to have more images with my stories to encourage more pinning.
Then, there is a discussion going on over at Empire Avenue. People have found that being active in photo sharing sites can really boost your performance on Empire Avenue. A key focus has been on InstraGram. The problem with InstaGram is that it is limited to iPhone users. So, some people have become more active on Flickr.
One person who has some very interesting images on Flickr is Liz Strauss. I commented that it looked like one of her photographs had been put through and Edward Hopper filter and another through a Soviet Realism filter. It made me think about different filters for different famous painting styles. Can I create a Chiaroscuro filter? How about a Pointillism filter? Perhaps something emulating Picasso's blue period? Maybe I could even create some sort of palimpsest.
InstaGram, Hipstamatic, and the Flickr app for Android have some sort of filters like that, and another site I recently discovered thanks to a friend on Empire Avenue, StreamZoo, has a bunch of interesting filters. Unfortunately, StreamZoo does not seem to have an easy way of posting to Flickr. I couldn't even find a way to do it with IFTTT. So, I'm mostly cross posting my StreamZoo pictures to .
Beyond this, sites like InstaGram have their set of filters you can apply. With something like StreamZoo, you can really do an awful lot, but what if I want to create my own filters?
I've always been an open source sort of guy, so I started looking around for articles that talk about how to do some of this via Gimp. A good starting point is Create Instagram Style Photo Effects with GIMP or Photoshop.
I read through that and started experimenting. It took me a little while to get comfortable with layers, and color curves, but slowly it started to take shape. There is a lot more that can be explored, as well as how to relate this to semiotics. So, who else is doing interesting thing with modifying images? Got any suggestions?
One of the topics that people have been kicking around for Podcamp Western Mass is 'Social TV'. It probably means a bunch of different things to different people, so I'm going to hit on a few different topics.
First, there are the video streaming devices. These days, there are more and more Internet enabled video devices. We currently use Roku, which streams Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and a lot of other 'channels'. It is a relatively inexpensive device that has worked nicely for us. On top of that, we can still use it with our old analog non-HD TV.
A friend of mine has spoken highly of the Western Digital TV. I haven't played with this, so I can't comment, but it looks fairly similar to the Roku. Another older device is Boxee, which I also haven't tried, but I've read a bit about. Of course, everyone is watching Apple TV and Google TV closely to see how they do, and now, there is talk of Ubuntu TV.
Ubuntu is a version of the open source Linux operating system. Ubuntu TV sounds particularly interesting to a geek like me, but I don't think it is available yet.
Then, there are all the Blu-Ray DVD players and HDTV sets that come internet enabled. In some cases, Google TV is incorporated into Blu-Ray players.
With that, you then get into the 'channels'. More and more of what we watch online is from Netflix streaming. Then there is Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and more and more players entering the market everyday.
There are also all the other things out there. Smaller channels available on some of the streaming devices. Roku has private channels, as well as a developers environment. This even allows for connecting other devices like the Plex media player, which you can run on a Mac, or MythTV, an open source DVR, although apparently the MythTV to Roku connection requires a bit of hacking.
Finally, there are the sites enabling social interaction. Some of this may be done on Twitter, other interactions on sites like GetGlue, and new site I'm starting to look at called tweet.tv, which looks interesting, but so far has been pretty buggy.
I should note, with all of this, that I actually watch very little television. I like to watch videos on YouTube from time to time and have always wanted to find good sources for obscure movies and foreign television, but so far, nothing has really captured my attention.
So, what are you doing for social tv?
Today, Mashable reports that Flickr is getting a makeover to make it look more like Pinterest. This caught my attention, because recently there has been an upsurge of interest in photo sharing sites over on Empire Avenue.
It started off with a discussion about how to maximize people's Instagram scores on Empire Avenue. However, Instagram is currently only available for iPhone users, and this left out a bunch of people, so some of the discussion shifted over to Flickr.
With that, I've picked up about a dozen new contacts in the past couple days. (If you're interested, please connect with me at http://www.flickr.com/photos/aldon.) I've received and place more comments in the past couple of days than I have probably over the years on Flickr.
I'm also spending a lot more time looking at other people's photos. There are some really good ones, and I'm trying to figure out how best to tie together what I am seeing and talking about there with my other social media presences without becoming duplicative.
I often comment about being much more of a textual person than an image oriented person. It will be interesting to how this shifts.
So, are you doing new and exciting things with images? How do you decide whether to share the images on Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, or other sites?
This coming Saturday, Podcamp returns to Western Mass. I went to a couple Western Mass Podcamps, as well as podcamps in other locations and helped organize the first Podcamp in Connecticut.
Before I go much further, I should explain what a Podcamp is. It is an 'unconference' where people gather to discuss topics related to social media. I put it this way to contrast it from a typical conference where a keynote speaker or a group of panelists talk at the audience.
With my focus on the discussion aspect of an unconference, you may wonder my thoughts about where presentations fit in, especially if you've read some of my other thoughts about presentations. As a general rule, I don't think they fit in well at all. I really dislike presentations, and particularly Powerpoint presentations.
I guess that is some of the reason, I really haven't done a lot with Slideshare or Scribd. But recently, I saw a Clearslide presentation, and I thought it was pretty interesting. I've set up a test account, but I'm not yet sold on it. I also recently set up a Prezi account. I did this during a conference, and since I rarely do presentations, I didn't come back to revisit it, until today.
I went through the tutorial, and I really liked it. I will have to play more with Prezi.
With this, let me return to a moment to Podcamp. While I try to avoid sessions with presentations at Podcamp, and if I accidentally find myself in one, I try to reshape it into a discussion, or I use the 'rule of two feet' and head off for a different discussion, a discussion of presentation tools, from SlideShare to Clearslide and Prezi, might be a bit of fun.
A related topic that might be really interesting is video animation. On the simple level, there are tools like XtraNormal, GoAnimate, and Animoto. From the little bit that I've played with each of them, I like XtraNormal the best. Then, there are the whiteboard animations, like RSA animate videos. I've read tutorials about how to do this, but it seems cumbersome and I wonder if there are tools or shortcuts to make it easier. Then, of course, there is machinima, or making animated videos using computer games. I've always like Second Life based Machinima, and have made a few very simple examples. For the serious animator, there is Blender which I've also played with, but not come close to developing any proficiency. Video animation might be another fun topic to explore at a Podcamp.
We'll see who ends up at Podcamp Western Mass, as well as a Podcamp in Connecticut, hopefully later in the year. I look forward to hearing about other topics I haven't even thought about.
Recently, a friend was talking about LED lighting and I spent a little time looking into LED lighting options. Starting at about ten dollars a bulb, you can get LED light bulbs that fit into a standard screw base light bulb socket. These lights use between 6 and 12 watts and are much more efficient than traditional incandescent light bulbs. They are little more efficient than compact fluorescent bulbs, but last much longer without some of the disposal issues.
Yet a lot of the efficiency seems to be lost in trying to get them to behave like traditional light bulbs. Instead, if we used different power sources, we might be able to get much better efficiency. I thought about the Syrcadian Blue light that Kim got me. It runs 25 blue LEDs off of a mini-USB connection. Could better, more efficient lighting be done using USB connections?
So, I started looking around for ideas. The first blog post I found was USB LED Light. It was right along the idea that I was thinking of. It used a 10,000 mcd white LED. The author calculated that putting it together with a 100 ohm resistor would work fine, and he goes through what he did to make it. He notes that with a 100 ohm resistor, the light draws 15.47 mA, well below the 500 mA limit for USB. All nice and good, but what if you want to have more than one LED? What if you use a different LED? How do you calculate the appropriate resistors or the best wiring?
Looking around, I found another blog post, DIY USB LED Keyboard Light. This one used a 5000 mcd orange LED. It went into details about how to know the positive and negative side of an LED, and most importantly, provided a link to a .
The author notes that the voltage range for USD is 4.75-5.3 Volts, and it is best to use 5 volts in the calculator. I did some searching to find some good LEDs to use. SuperBrightLEDs had this listing, a 30 degree 18,000 mcd cool white LED. With a forward voltage of 3.4 votes and continuous Forward Current of 30 mA, I plugged the values into the calculator.
My first pass was to see if I could create something with 25 LEDs, however the calculator came up with an array that would draw 750 mA, 50% higher than recommended for USB. 16 LEDs would take 480 mA, a little close for comfort for my initial calculations. 12 LEDs would take 360 mA. That sounds reasonable. The array of LEDs would draw 1828 mW and would use 12 1/4 watt 56 ohm resistors.
The LEDs are 89 cents each when buying between 10 and 99 LEDs, and it looks like all electronics has the resistors at five cents each when buying a dozen.
I also recently got into a discussion with a friend that was looking buying a chandelier. So, I started thinking, could I take this and build a DIY LED chandelier? Looking on Amazon, I found lots of interesting crystal ball options. You can buy 40 mm crystal balls for $2.72 each. 20 mm for $2.22 each, 50 mm for $6.98 and 70 mm teardrop crystals for $4.54. This would probably be the most expensive part of the project, ranging from $25 to $85 depending on what to use.
The only other part would be the wire, the frame and any other pieces to put this together. So, for around $50 to $100 it may be possible to create a very interesting DIY USB LED chandelier. On the other hand, I suspect it might not give a lot of light. Each LED gives off 4 lumens, so 12 of them would be 48 lumens, It might be good for ambient lighting, but not much else.
What do you think? Does this make sense? Have I missed something or done my calculations wrong? Should I give this a try? Should I try different combinations, like a narrower viewing angle or a different color temperature