Barnyard BBS

…enemies becoming friends,
…when bitterness ends
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July 2008 Followup
7/19/2008 9:34:00 AM

I realize that I have not posted updates to the site in what seems an eternity.  I've been distraced by my many side projects, and have been unable to devote much time to Barnyard.  Most of this is due to the recent demands of the photography business.  We've become much more successful that I originally anticipated.  It's taking more time than I expected, and we're growing more quickly than I imagined.

Additionally, Jessawick and I have celebrated our third anniversary.  My family has an interesting tradition, which was continued this year...

At our wedding, the cake was really, really good.  In fact, it was so good that the entire cake was demolished before we got very much of it.  For our first anniversary, my mother got the idea to get us a baby-sized version of the original.  Ever since, it's been tradition.  Here's this year's installment:

AnniversaryCake.jpg

Secondarily... We went to Red Square for our anniversary.  Red Square is easily the best restaurant that we've ever visited.  We've been there twice, and each time the experience was impeccable.  I can't say enough nice about them.

Unexpected Travels of Open Photos
7/11/2007 6:10:00 PM

I stumbled across something pretty interesting today, while trolling the internet...

One of my photos ended up in the publication "A Comicbook Orange".  Although it's quite random and unexpected, it's exactly the kind of thing that I wanted to happen.

See video here: http://www.acomicbookorange.com/2007/06/27/tales-from-the-crypt-1/ (it's the opening photo of the haunted house)

I release all of my photography as Creative Commons.  This means that other people are free to use them in their projects.  I don't use the normally restrictive copyright rules; but rather release my work freely.  I always hope people will make use of it.  In this case, that's just what happened.

Splendid.

In other photography news... I've recently shot my first wedding.  As you are likely aware; photography is my hobby, not my occupation.  I do it because I enjoy it, not for any profit.

I received an interesting phone call on the weekend of the 07/01/2007... It was Ray Devine (of WMPH fame), and he was working at a wedding.  He told me that the ceremony was about to start, and the photographer was nowhere in sight.  He asked if I could gather my gear and photograph the wedding.

Needless to say, I wasn't really prepared for such a task.  Normally, a wedding photographer would own much more gear than I do.  For example, I only have enough storage for about 700 photos.  Jessawick shot almost 500 photos, I shot almost 1,100.  That's a lot of photos.  In fact, we had to unload to a laptop when we found a few moments of downtime.

I thought that the day went pretty well.  If you're interested, here's the website:

xandraandjohn.barnyardnetworks.com 

Photo 10,000!
6/30/2007 10:57:00 PM

I've done it.  Tonight, I rolled the D80's odometer.  It's been 10,000 photos already.  Oddly enough, it's only taken about 9 months to do it. For those of you interested, here's what photo 10,000 looks like:

D80-10000.jpg

It's the Longwood Gardens fountains, during one of their summer shows.  I pledge my next Guinness in honor of the next 10,000. 

New Flickr Account
6/8/2007 6:20:00 PM

After some careful deliberation, I've finally started a Flickr account of my own.

In case any of you aren't familiar with it, Flickr is a photo sharing site.  They're probably the biggest one out there.  They were recently purchased by Yahoo, as well.

I've set up a "pro" account, mostly because I want people to be able to download the originals.  I intentionally went with Flickr because of their strong ties with Creative Commons.  As you may have noticed, I release all my photos under a Creative Commons License.  I want people to be able to freely share my stuff, if they find it to be useful.  This is the same reason that I explicitly encourage downloading in my gallery.  I want to make content accessible.

Flickr will help serve my purpose.  Although I personally prefer my photo gallery to that of Flickr; they do bring something big to the table... They have a huge audience and they are directly integrated into the search facility of Creative Commons.  This should let a lot more people find my stuff, and hopefully pass it along.

Here's a link to my photos

FlickrAccount.jpg

Don't worry, I'm not stopping with the BarnyardBBS photo gallery, nor am I stopping development of the ASP.Net GalleryControl.  BarnyardBBS will always get the updates first, and the Flickr account only contains a subset of the total.  Flickr is for sharing the "broad appeal" photos with as many people as possible.  BarnyardBBS will always be home.

If you're anything like me, you're probably thinking that cross-posting so many photos will be very tedious.  That's why I'm not planning on doing it.  I've written a program that uses the Flickr API to automatically post updates from my regular photo gallery.  It scans the database that runs the photo gallery, and posts updates when necessary.  It's even smart enough to update my photosets with recent photos, to keep it fresh.

Don't worry, I'm going to share.  It's going to be a new feature of my open source ASP.Net GalleryControl in the next release.  Thus far, it's worked pretty well (as I've already posted over 500 photos to Flickr).  At the moment, it's running in the background on the webserver, waiting for updates.  As soon as it's stable, I'll make it available to everybody else using the GalleryControl.

Update: I've published an update to the ASP.Net Gallery Control that includes the Flickr Synchronization support.  It's available in the usual place, http://testdrive.barnyardbbs.com.  Unrelatedly, this update also contains improvements to the Blog Control for linking to Digg and Del.icio.us, as well.

Improvements Abound!
3/15/2007 6:40:00 PM

I've just finished another round of upgrades to the site.  We're running a shiny and new photo gallery.

A few months ago, I rewrote the blogging engine into a modular, CSS-able, fully validating control.  It was good.  This time, it was the photo gallery that got the rewrite.  Here are a few notable points about the new gallery, and also galleries in general:

  • I wrote the new gallery with the intention of making it a reusable control.  As soon as I feel that it's stable, I'll start sharing it with the world; much like the Content Control.
  • The new gallery does away with the "choose your options" screen of the past.  The new one is designed to "get straight to the content".  Advanced options are available (but are entirely optional).  I didn't like the fact that people were often confused by choosing options before seeing any pictures.  I like the new way much better, as you get to see the pictures right away.  The new system for category navigation is much easier to use.
  • I've added an option for full-text search.  It will let you search both the categorizations and the text description of each image.  It works pretty well. I like it.
  • The new gallery makes more use of Javascript / AJAX concepts.  It's got special resolution-detection, so images will always fit your screen perfectly.  The gallery works from the master images, and downsizes them to your screen size on the fly.  I think of it as a way of future-proofing (and not degrading my content in a permanent form).
  • CSS is wonderful.  Much like the blogging engine, the new gallery is completely CSS controlled.  The "look" of it is entirely determined by my site's style, and it's looks can be radically altered on some other installation.
  • The administration interface is all new and greatly improved.  It makes categorization incredibly fast.  It dramatically reduces the pain of posting new photos.  In fact, I've got special code that reads the EXIF data directly from the photos.  That saves lots of retyping.  I really should get a Canon test file; I've only tested it with Nikon images.  God shoots Nikon.

For the moment, assume that the gallery is unstable.  Let me know if you encounter anything weird.  Come to think of it; let me know what you think of the revisions.  I was trying for a very natural and modular design on this one.

Anybody who's running a .Net website... The gallery script will be open-sourced as soon as the code is proven.  Contact me if you just can't wait until then, and I'll give you a beta copy.

News
12/23/2006 10:21:00 PM

I've been working a number of different concepts during the runup to Christmas.

Soon I will be replacing the BarnyardBBS blogging system with one of my own creation. I've become very strict about having my sites validate, and none of the existing packages have a fully validating editing interface. Not to mention, I've grown to love the TinyMCE javascript-based editor. I'm reusing a bunch of the code from the Content Control project to make a self-contained blogging control. I'll switch over the site's blogs as soon as I have it ready. Hopefully, other people will be able to make use of it as well.

Speaking of other people making use of things... I've posted the Content Control over at SourceForge. Although I've distributed the source here at Barnyard for a long time, I wanted to make it more available to the masses (who gravitate to SourceForge). SourceForge is the hub for open source software. I hope by making the Content Control available there, it will be more useful.

Also, I've been experimenting with HDR photography lately. I've posted a few photos in the gallery's Philadelphia section. HDR is an abbeviation for High Dynamic Range. It's a technique where several photographs of different exposure are merged together to create a hybrid image. Andreas Tofahrn is the master of HDR. This is the best example that I've managed thus far:

BenFranklinHDR.jpg
The Ben Franklin Bridge, by night. Three photo hybrid.

Oh, and one final note. Jessawick has no idea what her Christmas presents are...

New Toys
9/8/2006 7:22:00 AM
My new Nikon D80 arrived today. I haven't had a chance to learn everything about it yet. However, it is already clear to me that it's a big evolution from the D50. It gives much more precise control. It also includes several new options for me, such as wireless flash control (commander) and double exposure.

This is a terrible example, but here's my first double exposure (fidgeting in the living room).

DoubleExposure.jpg
New Toys
8/18/2006 12:12:00 AM
I finally received the 18-200 VR lens that I've had ordered for months now. The Nikon 18-200 is really an impressive piece of work. It covers a very wide range, and it covers it very well. It's gotten great reviews all over the place. Technically, it's been available for almost a year now. However, it has been heavily backordered everywhere. I've been on a waiting list for a long time.

I don't have much to say about it yet; as I haven't gotten to use it much. I'm going to a family event this weekend though, so I should get plenty of chances.

Nikkor18-200mm.jpg
New Toys
8/9/2006 9:18:00 PM
I just preordered the new Nikon D80. It was just announced today, and I wanted to get on the list early.

Knowing Nikon's production schedule, I ought to see it sometime in October.

The D80 is really quite an improvement. Nikon has taken most of the good points of the D200 and fit them into a body the size of a D70. It's got a 10.2 megapixel sensor, includes "Commander Mode", and shoots 3 frames per second. Much like the D50, it uses SD memory rather than Compact Flash. That's a plus for me.

I'll post updates when it arrives.

NikonD80.jpg
New Toys
7/30/2006 12:10:00 AM
After a lot of reading and researching, I've picked up another lens for my Nikon. This time it's a 60mm Macro, for shooting small / close subjects. For those of you interested, it's a 60mm f/2.8D AF Micro-Nikkor.
Nikkor60mm.jpg
The picture quality is incredible. I'm really quite happy with it.

I took a trip out to Longwood Gardens to give it a go. It was a good batch.

For those of you not familiar with Macro lenses... Macro lenses are capable of focusing on a target that is much closer to the camera than is usually possible. For example, my 50mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor has a minimum focusing distance of about 16 inches. The new Macro lens is capable of focusing down to about 6 inches. This may not seem like a big difference, but in practice the difference is huge.

Take a look at the latest pictures to see what it can do.