My photos on the HTTP 500 Internal Server error page

I made a custom Internal Server Error page for the 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 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, 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.











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 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 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 for future labeling on my prints and photos here. was the old one, but it’s a bit lengthy and just redirects here like because I’m using subdirectories for users (I’m, 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: goes right to, for example. Cool stuff.

I came home to find that I’ve made $6.91 from the Google AdSense advertising on $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:

WordPress Plugins I’m Using

I wrote this for a fellow photographer and photo-blogger named Nokao, since he asked what plugins I’m using for this site. As you may know, Brilliant Photography is powered by WordPress: WordPress MU to be specific, since I’m in the same database as the network with many other bloggers. I’ve been able to leverage all the great plugins people have created; I haven’t had to do any original coding yet.

You can look up any of these plugins in the WordPress repository:

Alakhnor’s Post Thumb Revisited creates the thumbnails for all the images, the JavaScript pop-up effects (Highslide), and the gallery pages (PHP code calling the plugin). I just post photos as normal WordPress posts (just an img src HTML code), and it does the rest. I use it for the random photos in the header and the random stock photo in the sidebar. You can have it just show thumbnails from a particular category, which is what I do.

The category feeds are included in WordPress, but not linked anywhere. You can see them on your site; just add “/feed” to the end of a category’s URI. You can link to these in your template if you want. For the RSS feeds and email newsletters, I outsource to, but there are WordPress plugins too (I’d prefer to keep the load off my server).

I use Exec-PHP to put Post Thumb’s PHP code in pages and posts, and Text Control to keep WordPress’ filtering from putting line breaks between thumbnails on gallery pages, by setting it to “No Formatting.” On those posts and pages, I just add HTML myself (paragraph and line break tags).

I use WP-Sticky to keep an introductory post at the top of the home page.

Related Posts, SCF2 Contact Form, SEO Title Tag, Top Level Categories, Ad Rotator (Amazon ads), Post Template, WP-Print, and Simple Tags add good features and help me out.

WP Thread Comment powers the threaded comments system. ShareThis adds social bookmarking. Sem Dofollow removes WordPress’ “nofollow” tags from commenters’ websites. Live Comment Preview does what it says. WP Grins adds clickable smilies to the comment box. Wordbook and LJ Crosspost let me multicast to Facebook and LiveJournal.

And finally, WP Super Cache gzips every page and does static HTML caching, making the site fast and allowing me to hobble by on shared hosting.

Keep in mind that I’m running WordPress MU, and there are many other blogs on Many of these plugins (such as post thumb) are just for me, and I have a special template for my sidebar, header, and footer. I might add the features for my users, but it will be some work.

Hmm, sounds like you’re saying my photos aren’t artistic because I said that about photography. The article is tongue-in-cheek, but I do feel people give too much credit to photography at times. Like it’s something sacred. My photos have meaning to me, and photography is my life and blood.

The last bit is about my latest writing, 10 Reasons Why Photography Sucks and Isn’t an Art Form. I’m glad to be able to get people thinking about photography in different ways, even if by being derogatory and sarcastic. :sunglasses:

Thanks for reading, guys.

Switched to SYN Hosting, Outage is Over

Hi everyone. The website’s been down for the last 18 hours, since 7:30 A.M. (EDT) this morning, but I’m back now. I discovered it when I awoke at 2 P.M. (I’m happily unemployed), and immediately began trouble-shooting. It wasn’t on my end at all; it had to be Netfirms’ fault (they’ve given me trouble before). Netfirms wasn’t serving up anything from the MySQL database, which cripples me, because this blog is all dynamic.

Netfirms has been growing progressively worse in the past two weeks… FTP has been terribly slow, the website is slow, it’s gone down a couple of times because of them, etc. I called them… and after 30 minutes on hold, hearing only an automated message telling me how “extremely important” I am, I just hung up. By then, it was 3:30, and I decided to give up and switch web hosts. Even though I have Netfirms’ first-year $10 special ending on August 2, I can’t stand it anymore. I did an hour of research, and picked SYN Hosting because they sound good and honest. I sent in the request for an account, and then headed for school (my night class was from 5:30 to 9 P.M.), not being able to do anything more for the time. I had a test in precalculus algebra, and I did poorly on it (will find out Monday). If I do well on Wednesday’s final (2008-06-25), the grade is dropped, so that’s what I need to do now. I should be fine with 85% on the final.

So when I got back home, I got my email from SYN Hosting. I’d already started downloading the files from Netfirms before leaving, and it was done. I promptly switched DNS servers in my control panel and began uploading files to SYN Hosting. Still haven’t done everything (the stock photos are ~160MB and will take hours). But the site’s back.

It takes a long time on my slow ADSL connection with just 128kb upstream bandwidth. Especially when you have 3000 small files, like with my WordPress MU installation and army of plugins. And I had some trouble importing the MySQL database, since it is so large (23MB). I got it all worked out finally. I’m glad to be back, and sorry for the trouble.

All of the network was down. I’m posting this here, because I get 60% of the community’s traffic.

SYN charges $8.34 a month for their basic plan, billed every six months. I searched first, and found the SAVEME offer. Basically, if you’ve had your domain for over six months and are hosted elsewhere, you get three months free. I sent this emphatic message in the notes field when I registered:

Save me! I’m using Netfirms now, and after four outages in the past two days (one right now), and no one to answer their phones, I’ve had it, even though I have a over a month left on my contract. SYN Hosting is a lot better, I can tell.

Boy, was I surprised to log on and see that I’d been given six months free. Here’s what my invoice looks like:

SYN hosting paid

Mind you, I haven’t actually paid them anything. I was expecting to get an email to do so, or at least provide credit card or PayPal billing information for their security, but no. You don’t often see this kind of commitment from hosting companies.

What I’m really enjoying, is the fast loading times. Checking on this website speed test, I see my page takes under a second to be compiled: loads quickly

In my last days with Netfirms, it was often over 4 seconds. Waiting isn’t fun.

Netfirms claims to give me something ridiculous like 2TB of disk space and 2000TB of bandwidth. SYN Hosting keeps it real: 6GB disk space and 120GB bandwidth each month. And their interface and control panels are better. You can even see how much CPU and RAM resources you’re using. That’s far more important than bandwidth, because with a dynamic, database-powered site, bandwidth isn’t what drags you down.

Managing your own website is hard work. I’m glad now I can stop worrying about it disappearing. Go ahead and try out SYN Hosting; they’re a real gem. Make sure to enter the coupon “saveme” and tell them who you’re transferring from in the notes, if you want a few months free. I’m looking forward to much more enjoyable days here, for my readers/viewers and me.

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 . 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 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.

New Feature: Richard’s Picks

I added something new today: posts throughout the site will display a random photography-related product from 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, 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, 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 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.

My New Plan

What I wrote about here was a no. Disappointing.

I put up a little sign above my computer that says “$20/day.” That’s how much I need to make (from this blog) to replace the income from my job. If I can do that, I can do anything.

What I need to do now, is to make this site such a great resource that generating that much revenue is a cinch. I’m on the way, but I’ve got the weekend to focus. I’m going to start a section for desktop wallpapers. My photos make great wallpapers.

2008-06-14 Update: I had an even bigger idea! I released all my portfolio as royalty-free stock. Read about it, or start browsing the stock gallery.

Banned from Technorati

I pinged all of the blogs on Technorati using this tool, and now Brilliant Photography has been removed from Technorati. Guess they thought I was trying to game the system (good guess on their part).

Technorati is a blog tracking and ranking service. The main ranking is “authority,” which is based purely on how many blogs link back to you. Since all blogs link back here (in the footer of each one), my authority should have shot up from 11 to 71. My blog is still listed on my user page, with a modest authority of 17.

I’m taking the Technorati link out of the Brilliant Photography footer. Our community deserves recognition. the blogging network

I’ve slaved hours away on the blogging network, and it’s now open in a public beta. :grin: Sign up for your spot now. This is great step forward for social blogging, and you can take advantage of the same great scripts I use to multicast this blog to LiveJournal and Xanga. Read on . . .

I wrote this two days ago, but didn’t expect to get rolling so quickly:

People have been signing up for 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 instead of (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.

Today, 2008 May 24, it all starts. I’ve established a WordPress MU powered blogging network here at, complete with an integrated community forum (thanks to bbPress), log-in and blog management links right from the side-bar, the same clean design from Brilliant Photography by Richard X. Thripp, RSS links for each blog right in the footer, and PHP scripts that automatically aggregate the latest blogs, comments, and posts. I’ve gone ahead and done it with subdirectories instead of subdomains, but they are no less memorable, especially with the eye-catching name. 14 people have already gotten started, with fascinating blogs like OpinionSource and Wisconsin Mortgage. You can get started immediately, as this is a public beta. plugins

I’ve even added some great plugins to enrich your blogging experience, which you can activate under “Plugins” on your dashboard, after you sign up, of course. Advanced Category Excluder lets you leave out any categories you pick from the home page, RSS feeds, or archives, with handy check boxes. Top Level Categories cuts out the “/category” part of your category URIs, keeping your addresses short. WP Grins lets your commenters add emoticons with ease, while Wordbook, Twitter Tools, Xanga Cross Post, and LiveJournal Crossposter (under “Settings”) let you automatically and seamlessly broadcast your blogging to Facebook, Twitter, Xanga, and LiveJournal, complete with links back to your original entries at

Social commenting is actively encouraged. Gone are the Captchas, registration forms, and moderation queues you see on other networks; here anyone can contribute feedback to any post, immediately and with ease. And if you’re against unmoderated commenting, you can go to “Settings > Discussion” and suit your tastes. This is backed with the excellent spam filtering of Akismet, to stop the Viagra ads in their tracks.

This is beta because it hasn’t all been thoroughly tested, and I’m on shared hosting so I don’t know how far I can push the network. Feel free to make a donation to help keep me out of the red. I’m open to any suggestions or feedback; just add them to the comments on this post.

Cheers. Contribute, blog safely, and share alike. I’ll be reading.

Richard's signature