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The New Way to Do Things

Saw this poster for Post-It Super Sticky notes at Office Depot:

Post-It Super Sticky poster

Seems like a reasonable advertisement, tasteful, with examples, etc. But look closer at one of them:

Post-It Super Sticky close-up

“Sherri, Let’s team up for the civics report!” Since when is teaming up allowed? It would make high school and college so much easier for me.

I think this poster represents a general lost of respect for the education system… because it’s generally less deserving of respect. My Dad taught me at home, but if I went to public school I would’ve been home-schooled too. No real learning goes on at school; the teachers just say “go home and learn this.” Also, you’re forced to spend time on a lot of garbage when you should be focusing on just three things: reading, writing, and arithmetic. Everything else will flow from that. And no, arithmetic is NOT mixing numbers and letters. It’s practical stuff.

Everything is Stock

In the past six hours, I’ve released 53 of my photos as royalty-free stock. Check out the stock gallery to see them all. This means that every photo I’ve published is free for anyone to use. Quite a milestone, I must admit.

All the photos in the portfolio (about page 2 of the stock gallery at the moment) have source images now. I’ve linked to them in each post. So you can get right to the source of things, be it a JPEG (stuff with my older cameras) or .cr2 RAW (from my Canon Rebel XTi). This is great for digital artists. I can’t think of anyone who is doing what I do: putting countless hours into crafting beautiful and artistic photos (hopefully), and then releasing both the edited and original versions for free to all. Even if you just want to see what kinds of files the cameras I use produce, it’s a great resource.

Anyway, I didn’t post source images for the 53 photos I just posted… because my FTP client keeps timing out on the uploads. Maybe it’s SYN Hosting’s fault; I’m not sure. But I’ll come back to that. The source files should roll in at about 400MB, because RAW files are big. Update: I uploaded them overnight and added links to each post. Every stock photo that’s edited has a source image now!

I’ve already noticed that traffic, particularly bandwidth usage, has spiked. Check out these stats:

lots of bandwidth used

That’s how much bandwidth Thripp.com has been using in megabytes per day over the past week. That’s a tenfold increase on the 15th compared to the 14th. Granted, this isn’t drilled down to this particular blog, but I’ve been the most visited one on the Thripp.com network as of late, so it’s safe to say the stock images are being widely downloaded. Thanks everyone! I can go up to 4GB per day safely… then I’ll consider offloading them to a secondary server, because I only get 120GB a month on SYN Hosting.

This is the time to institute some changes going forward. My previous method of posting a photo and then a separate source image has worked well for a long time. It was just last month that I started giving everything away as a stock resource, so it was a fine plan to make new posts for each stock photo instead of adding it only to the old ones where no one would see them. But now that everything’s up to speed (i.e. all the photos are also released as stock), it’s time for a shift. From now on, there will only be one post for each photo, and that post will link to both the edited JPEG stock image and source JPEG or .cr2 file, plus include any 4*6 for-sale versions if applicable. The 8*10’s will stay separate for thumbnailing convenience and because I don’t have many. I won’t make JPEGs for source images with the border and title anymore; just a link to the real source image. This is inconvenient if you want to take a quick look to see my edits (my camera’s raw files can be up to 13MB), but it’s less work for me and it’s worth it because not many people used the old source image function anyway.

I don’t mind the old posts staying the way they are, because it’s historical, it’s different, and it served Brilliant Photography well for many months. I’m looking forward to doing things differently with new photos later today. Must sleep now. :neutral:

Thanks everyone!

The Return of the Shop

The shop is back. It’s a bit different now. If you can recall from a month ago, I gave up on yak because it doesn’t work with WordPress MU. I found a plugin that does: Quick-Shop. It’s less fancy, but a lot easier to maintain. When you click “Add to Cart” on any page, you get redirected to the shopping cart, with that item added. To go back, press back in your browser (the old-fashioned way). To buy, click the PayPal button; you’ll be redirected to them so you can enter your payment info. Here’s the cart in action:

the shopping cart

You can change quantities; just press enter to update. The red X’s remove items, and more shipping policies and such are below the form.

Since this new software has no database and keeps no inventory or shipping logic, shipping is USA only now. You can email me if you really want some prints and can’t move to my country, though. Also, you can order like 500 of a print, because there’s no stock tracking. If you do this, it’ll take me a week extra to have the copies printed.

I’ve released all of my portfolio in the shop, to start. The price is $0.95 plus $0.42 shipping per print, and the size is 4*6 for them all. I like the new software because I can put multiple items to a post, unlike with yak, and I don’t have to do tedious updating of custom fields; it’s really quick for me to add an Add to Cart button.

Unfortunately, the plugin has security issues. I tried commenting about them on the author’s site, but just got a blank screen. Here is that comment:

I’m liking this plugin a lot and am using it on my site. It’s so basic, yet effective, and the lack of stock control isn’t an issue if you can produce an unlimited quantity of your products, like with mine. My only concern is the lack of security. You can easily fudge the HTML to get a site to display a lower price. For example with your site, putting the code below in a local file and clicking the button in a browser will actually load your site with the item at the reduced price ($5.00 from $359.99).

<p>Budget Intel PC: <strike>$359.99</strike> <strong>$5.00</strong> <object><form method="post" action="http://www.ozedeals.biz/" style="display:inline"><input type="submit" value="Add to Cart" /><input type="hidden" name="product" value="Budget Intel PC" /><input type="hidden" name="price" value="5.00" /><input type="hidden" name="shipping" value="0.99" /><input type="hidden" name="addcart" value="1" /><input type="hidden" name="qslink" value="http://www.ozedeals.biz/" /></form></object></p>

Obviously, if anyone does this, you don’t have to send them the item. It gets tricky if you’re giving them a receipt with the price they’ve forged, though. Might even be troublesome if they just cut the price in half and then complain to PayPal if you refuse to take the loss (they’ll have a PayPal confirmation with the product and lower price).

I’m not too worried about it because I’m dealing with low-value items, but otherwise I would be. Nice work on the plugin, nonetheless.

If you do the above to fake a lower price on my prints, I’m taking it as a donation. Most people are good and will use the shop as intended. :sunglasses: Thanks!

My photos on the HTTP 500 Internal Server error page

I made a custom Internal Server Error page for the Thripp.com network, with all the photos from my portfolio. Error pages are fun again. :smile:

I put a lot of ads there too, so I can monetize the outages. Plus, the links are to the photos on my jpgmag.com gallery, and all the thumbnails are on Photobucket, so the page is light-weight, won’t chew up bandwidth, and makes my photos accessible when the database is down. It’s only 10KB!

I posted this to digg too:

Check out this HTTP 500 page; instead of being rudely interrupted with a cryptic error message and an accusation that you broke the server, on Thripp.com, you’re greeted by beautiful photography (and plenty of ads to boot).

Enjoy. :cool:

The Return from the Vacation

Hello again. I’m back from my exciting four-day vacation. I stayed around Palm Beach for three days with my aunt, uncle, cousin, and grandma. It was 200 miles down there. We had a lot of fun, my aunt cooked great food, there was a cool storm, and we played volleyball in the pool. Afterward, I stayed with my Grandma for Sunday and part of Monday, and my Dad brought me home three hours ago. I’ve been unpacking and clearing out emails.

Here’s some photos. I won’t show family because they don’t want to be shown.

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The portrait is me. I’ll be cooking up some edited versions which you’ll see over the next few days. It was hard not having Internet for four days; no computers or Wi-Fi with the family, and all the neighbors had passwords on their networks. I’m glad to be back working on the mission here. I wrote two photography articles I’ll be polishing up tomorrow.

This site and the thripp.com network chugged along fine while I was gone. 2000 unique visitors across both. The HTML caching + gzip compression is working great. I had about 60 new users, but 30 were blatant spam by the same person, which I deleted on the spot. Two-thirds of the rest are non-blatant spam, but I don’t mind that.

The total number of thripp.com blogs is 115, and the MySQL database is up to 40MB. Still working fine on SYN shared Hosting, fortunately. I’ve used 4GB of bandwidth in my 10 days with them. I have 120GB/month, so I’m at 10% capacity. Most of the bandwidth is from my photography, especially the high-res stock photos. If the going gets rough, I’ll outsource the busiest to ImageShack and hotlink.

I made a decision: I’m going to switch to rxthripp.com for future labeling on my prints and photos here. richardxthripp.thripp.com was the old one, but it’s a bit lengthy and just redirects here like rxthripp.com because I’m using subdirectories for thripp.com users (I’m richardxthripp.thripp.com), so I may as well use the shorter one now. All three addresses will work forever. I set up a regex expression with Apache’s mod_rewrite, so even subdirectories redirect: rxthripp.com/gallery goes right to richardxthripp.thripp.com/gallery, for example. Cool stuff.

I came home to find that I’ve made $6.91 from the Google AdSense advertising on thripp.com. $2.51 is from ads on my photography pages here, while the other $4.40 is from clicks on ads on my users’ pages. While it would only take me an hour to earn this when I was working at the library, this is particularly sweet because I earned it while on vacation, not working at all. So it’s “passive income” instead of “active income.” Instead of working every minute for every dollar, you earn while you sleep. A website with ads is the perfect way to do that.

I’ve got till August 25 (when college resumes) to work on my photography. Expect a lot of stuff from me here. :grin:

Spamming Everyone

I was contemplating how to get the word out about the resource I’m developing here at Brilliant Photography. I decided to send an email to everyone know a.k.a. mass spamming. But it’s not spamming, because it’s relevant. I don’t know where the idea comes that messages that aren’t personalized are spam; do we expect the same from the newspaper, television, or even blog articles? Certainly not. Here’s the message, anyway. It outlines what I’m doing here quite well.

Hello everyone!

This is one of those super automated emails to everyone I’ve known over the past four years. I wanted to let you know the great progress I’ve been making at my website, Brilliant Photography by Richard X. Thripp, at http://richardxthripp.thripp.com/ . I’ve been working hard on my writing and photography, completing a portfolio of my 30 best images: clichés like roses, sunsets, raindrops, bugs, and still life. Mine are different because I always try to be sharp and innovative. I have a nice gallery section showing every photo I’ve ever posted, and I’m writing more informative articles on photography; stuff like How to Always Get the Perfect Shot, How to Use Zooming for Explosive Photos, How to Brand Your Prints, and my 4500-word novel, How to give file names to your photos, which arcs across photography, library science, cataloging theory, and the evils of Daylight Saving Time.

Two days ago, I was thinking "how could I make my website an even more useful resource?" It didn’t take long to think of it; I’ve done the unthinkable by releasing my entire portfolio (my life’s work, if you will) as a free stock resource. If you are a digital artist of any sort, or want a nice photo for a birthday card or to print for your wall, this is great news.

Though it’s a divergent topic, I’ve begun writing about personal development, because it fascinates me. I’ve also implemented affiliate advertising which generates revenue per click or purchase, in the case of the photography gear I sponsor. Someday, I will be able to support my passion full time, just from sharing it with the world on my website.

If you’d like to stay in the loop as I publish more photos and articles, you can subscribe by email here, or if you know about RSS feeds, add this one to your feed reader. I’ll be at http://richardxthripp.thripp.com/ forever, so you can also bookmark it or come back to this email when you’d like to see what I’m up to.

Thanks and happy travels. Send me an email back so we can keep in touch.
Richard

New Feature: Richard’s Picks

I added something new today: posts throughout the site will display a random photography-related product from Amazon.com that I’ve chosen. I pick the products (cameras, lenses, accessories) if they have good reviews, are good quality, and priced reasonably, plus using my own experience in the field. They’re all displayed on the Richard’s Picks page (12 so far), and a random one shows next to the 2nd, 7th, and 10th post on each page. So you won’t see them on an individual post or page like this, but you will be seeing them on the home page, and tag and category listings, like the free stock photos section.

If you buy anything, I get a 4% commission from Amazon.com, which will help me support this site. I’ll get that bonus even for other things, so if you’re looking to make any sort of purchase from Amazon.com, click here to share with me. Thanks. :smile:

Doing the Unthinkable

I was looking around today, thinking “What one thing can I do on my website to make it a highly useful photography resource.” It didn’t take long. I decided and set out on releasing my entire portfolio as royalty-free stock images in their high-resolution glory, all free under the least restrictive Creative Commons license. If you’re any sort of digital artist, this is some awesome news, because I’ve literally put years into this stuff. You can do anything with them; even commercial stuff. All you have to do is credit me as Richard X. Thripp, and link back here at http://richardxthripp.thripp.com. Click here to see the complete gallery, or choose from some of the quick picks below:

Thanks, and enjoy. Click “ShareThis” below and get the word out to your friends.

I’m a Gawker Artist!

2008-07-20 Update: They upgraded the site and broke the old URLs! Here’s my new Gawker Artists page.

I have a page on Gawker Artists now. The photo that got me in is The Rebel, one of my favorite portraits, taken for my now-concluded black and white film class. This means the image will appear occasionally on Lifehacker and other exhibitors. Quite cool. Sarah will be proud, if she checks here. She’s representing an entire movement of non-conformity.

The Rebel: a girl smoking in front of a no-smoking sign

I came up with a great summary of my photographic mission for the page:

I’m an experimental photographer who’s been working in the digital medium for four years. I strive to capture nature in inspiring and unusual ways; while I take pretty pictures, they should always make you think. The same effort goes into my portraits and still life; I photograph whatever I like, and am known for forcing people to pose in crazy ways, or for spending hours setting up arrangements of marbles or ketchup bottles. I’m a believer in contributing to the photography community, so I write a lot of behind-the-scenes details and add tips for my fellow photographers to my website.

If you’re a photographer, isn’t that what your mission should be? To make people think. Anyone can do that. Anyone can do what I do. But does that mean you do? For many of you, no. But I’ll do it for you.

In my spare time over the past few days, I’ve been working on the tech side of the site, instead of posting new material (sorry to my viewers). Some advances:

• My Twitter updates are at the bottom of the first post on each page (Twitter tools, with modifications).
• The ads are inline with posts; see the top-right of the first post on any page, and the link ads after the 2nd and 7th posts. That was tough to figure out. Code like “<?php $postnum = 0; if (have_posts()) : while (have_posts()) : $postnum = $postnum; the_post(); ?>” and “<?php $a = 2; $b = 7; . . . ” went into my WordPress template’s index.php file.
• I switched to Google Custom Search for my search engine (in the side-bar). There are extra ads when you search, which I make money on like the normal ads.
• I made the links below the banner nice, and cleaned up the sidebar, moving stuff to an Index page. The cousin and the father have been demoted to there.
• All thumbnail links use Highslide now, so if you have JavaScript enabled, click one and it will pop up right on the page. You can even flip through photos with the arrow keys. This is a big improvement from a plain link to a JPEG file, and was suggested by the author of Post-Thumb revisited, the plugin I’m using to implement and manage it.
• I added a Contact page, with my info and an inline contact form (SCF2 Contact Form).
• I switched over to WP Super Cache, from WP-Cache. After some battling, I thought I had it so every page, except search, the shopping cart, add to cart, and random gallery, was cached and gzipped, from the second visitor every 24 hours onward. I was very proud of it. It worked for a couple hours, but now only some pages are zipped while other, more important ones get nothing, and I have no idea why. I give up, I’ve spend enough time on this. If it’s not good enough for Steve Pavlina, then it’s not good enough for me. I gzipped the larger CSS and JavaScript files while at it (prototype.js is cut from 125KB to 22KB), and that sticks, fortunately.
Comment previewing is gone. I was revising the preview text, and then the text disappeared and I couldn’t get it to work at all, even writing the settings into the database myself. This isn’t an advance; I just gave up. Maybe it’s outdated, I don’t know, but that’s enough dealing with it. If your comment messes up, post a corrective comment, and I’ll fix it and delete the second one for you.
• Added “overflow: hidden” CSS class to the header (with the six random photos). So if you’re browsing in a window smaller than 1024×768, there is no ugly wrapping to the next line.
• I finally hacked WP-Print to put the URI markers after the hypertext instead of before. So now I can print out wonderful articles like How to Brand Your Prints and they can be read logically. If you print (“Printable View” link below any post), do it in Internet Explorer 7. Firefox is no good at formatting in print. Plus, I was sick of the line breaks in my awfully long Amazon.com affiliate links, so I changed the code so there are no line breaks for URIs, and Firefox deals with this by making all the text really small, while Internet Explorer forces a line break (nice).
• People have been signing up for thripp.com despite my lack of advertising. I’ll work on the layout and features in July. I can’t get virtual subdomains like I want without upgrading to a virtual private server, which I won’t yet pay for, so you just get a name like thripp.com/foobar instead of foobar.thripp.com (which I know you’d prefer). Sorry for that. If you start blogging for some reason, I added plugins you can activate to multicast to Facebook, LiveJournal, Twitter, and Xanga, like I do (see links in my footer). You’ll have to hand over your passwords, but they’re safe with me.

It’s good to know when to give up, as I did with a couple of the issues above. I enjoy taking, editing, and writing about my photos more than this stuff, but somehow I get engrossed in tweaking layouts and settings, which is never the most important thing. It was good this time, for the gallery features mainly, but I’ve had my fix, so I can switch back to the important stuff (publishing photos and writing to inspire others).

I also reached a milestone lately; I’m not in the hole anymore. I’ve made $19 from contextual advertising and $2 from print sales, while I only have $16 invested for hosting (till August when I’ll have to pay almost $10 a month). I’m never going away, even if I have to pay $50 a month and lose money. My art and writing must be accessible to the world, forever.

New shop with beautiful, framed prints

2008-06-03 Update: The sale is over. Thanks everyone! :big-grin:

sixteen wonderful photos in frames

I’ve printed up and framed sixteen of my favorite photos as 8*10’s. You can buy them in the new, special photography shop for the brilliant price of $49.95 each. :grin: There is only one of each, so hurry! 2008-06-17 Update: gone now.

Speed, and Sunrays 3 are new here. I’ll have a formal release in a couple weeks, but you can check them out by those links now. 2008-06-17 Update: The shop is gone (read Everything Old is New Again), but check out Speed and Sunrays 3 anyway. and Just one week of school left to go, and then I get a week off, and then six weeks of summer pre-calculus. I’ll be presenting my photography portfolio for my black-and-white film class on May 8th at the college (The Gaze, The Rebel, Wine Bottles, and film versions of Modern Architecture and The Stuccoed House will be included). I’ll throw in a few of the new digital prints. :cool:

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