SEO spammers wearing a printout of my face as their mask

Screenshot 2018-01-19 12.29.03

Over the past year, I’ve cut way back on my plethora of wacky domains used on long-lost web projects. I’ve let loads of domains go and only updated the few I still use or need. As a result, most projects have been lost to the ether but there’s a good enough record of them in The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine that I started to feel OK about it. But this week I learned one of the long-running projects I let lapse ended up in a particularly strange state.

Ten Years of My Life was one of my earlier projects, started in 2003 as a photoblog I intended to run for a decade, which seemed ludicrous at the time (there was no Flickr, no Google Photos, no real photo hosting of any kind in Fall of 2003). I built it out of Movable Type, made sure URLs were as short and stable as possible, and began posting my favorite photos. I had a backlog of great shots, so it was daily at first.

Within the first week of launch, it started to gather mentions on other blogs, and people immediately gathered that I wasn’t just doing a photoblog for ten years hence, but I would be doing it daily (I never intended this) but being young and stupid, I took it up as a challenge, and from then on out, it was daily.

Reality caught up with me about two years later, when my daughter was born and being able to casually spend 15 minutes each night tweaking my favorite daily shot in Photoshop became too tall of an order. Those first couple years were incredibly instructive to me, I went from terrible amateur photographer to vaguely better amateur photographer and began to understand how light and lenses worked.

Since late 2005, the site sat in a holding pattern. At first, I went to a favorite weekly photo, but it quickly became less often than that. Post-iPhone release in 2007-2008, I tried to streamline posting by removing all friction. In the end, I had it working where I simply needed to upload a photo to Flickr, tag it with a special tag, and it would automatically import to the blog as a new entry. Even with all the speedbumps smoothed over, I was posting a new photo an average of 3-4 times a year.

As a result, the project always felt unfinished and unrealized and it bummed me out a bit, but I also had half a dozen other things going on, as well as a growing family member that thankfully took more of my time.

Fast forward to two months ago, at the 14 year mark, I felt like it was time to finally let go. I hadn’t touched or even loaded the URL in a couple years, and I felt like whatever guilt I had about not fulfilling the original goals for it were long since passed. As you can guess, the URL was snapped up and repurposed by domain squatter/SEO spammer types.

I’m not going to link to the site, but here’s a couple screenshots. For some odd reason, they copied a handful of posts from 2004-2005, took my text descriptions word-for-word, then added a generic image (likely gathered from Google Image Search) related to the titles. You end up with weird stuff like this, using the exact same URL pattern I made in 2003:

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They took these tactics to hilarious ends when you see the About page, which is an about page I had last touched around 2010, along with a random cycling image they found.

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I’ve had domains lapse and fall into strangers’ hands in the past, and sometimes they tried to put up related content to what was there previously, but this time, making a copy of a half-dozen pages and inserting random images to match was a new low to me.

The Eye-Fi mobi card is the real deal

Back in 2006, I was an avid user of Flickr and was asked to help test a new camera card that was going to offer uploading via WiFi. At the time, this meant you could conceivably skip the step of connecting your camera/card to your computer via USB. It was a bit buggy, but eventually worked, but I didn’t find it super useful since you had to be near your home WiFi for it to work.

Since the iPhone came out in 2007, it’s become my primary camera due to ease of use, flexibility in apps, and ability to share photos easily from anywhere. All my other cameras became “dumb” cameras once that smart phone came out. I was curious if a Eye-Fi card could bridge the gap so a few years ago that I tried out the final production versions of Eye-Fi’s cards in point and shoot cameras. On home WiFi, with many camera models building in native support for Eye-Fi cards, the process was much smoother than that initial beta, though connecting away from your home WiFi to your phone was very buggy, clumsy, and was such a time-consuming and tedious process I rarely used the Eye-Fi cards with my phone and mostly gave up on the devices.

I was skeptical of the new Eye-Fi mobi cards recently released, but when I bought a new compact full-frame camera for an upcoming bike tour, I decided to try it out after hearing the smartphone integration was much better than previous models.

After having used a 32Gb mobi card for a couple weeks, I have to say I’m totally impressed and amazed. This is everything Eye-Fi was likely going for over the company’s history, but it never quite hit the mark until now. You start by installing a custom profile to your phone which stores the WiFi password on your card and auto-connects your phone to your camera whenever you power up your camera. You run a mobi app on your phone, and it quickly transfers images (even 26 megapixel RAW images) to your phone. From there, you can selectively choose which images to save to your phone’s native Camera Roll, then share them any way you see fit. The whole process is fast and automatic in a way none of their previous cards were, since you never need to touch your phone’s WiFi settings.

In essence, the card turns any dumb camera into an outboard lens for your phone. Last week on a trip to NYC I took my new compact camera with me and could easily upload photos to Instagram and Twitter within seconds of taking the photos. I mean that literally: I can take a photo with my camera, open up my phone, touch the mobi app icon and about ten seconds later I can be saving that image to my phone’s camera roll. I could also manipulate and tweak the images in a plethora of iPhone apps like VSCOcam, Photoshop Express, etc. directly on the phone before sharing it out to the world.

There’s also a web service to the mobi card, where all your originals will be uploaded to Eye-Fi (when your phone is on a full WiFi connection) with unlimited storage for $50/yr, which seems like a perfectly good deal.

I can’t get over how well the mobi card works. The connection between my phone and my camera is now almost instant, transfers are fast, and sharing is easy. The mobi line of cards are worth every penny and I’d strongly suggest anyone that misses walking around and shooting with a “real” camera to try them out.

Giro di Portland

Every summer there are some crit races in downtown Portland and they are a blast. I missed last week’s Twilight Criterium but got to see last evening’s Giro di Portland. The racing was hot and fast, with some surprise results. The Cat 3 race was won by a 13 year old that won a race earlier that same day and won a race the day before. The final Mens 1/2 was won by a late breakaway from one of the oldest riders in the bunch. Overall, it was a great summer night of racing in downtown Portland.

Attacking

Racing over cobbles

Racing by

Racing by

Spectators on the cobbles

Women's race

Coasting over cobbles

Looking back

Women line up

13 year-old Cat 3 winner

Traffic control

Looking back

Full set of photos is on Flickr

Some Hot Air Balloon Photos from a local event

A few days ago, I saw a mention of a hot air balloon launch going on this weekend locally, both on Saturday and Sunday. When I woke up around 6am after just a few hours of sleep on Saturday the thought popped back in my head, I threw some warm clothes on, grabbed my camera, and headed out. I was greeted with dozens of balloons in various stages of setup and flight. Walking around near each hot air balloon’s base, I was pretty awestruck by the colorful beauty, the great early morning light, and the sheer size of them up close. The whole experience was overwhelming in a nice way and on the second morning I dragged Fiona along with me. Here are my favorite shots from the last two mornings:

Setting up

Filling up

Filling up

Setting up

Firing up

balloons

balloons

About to head up

Balloons

Ready for launch

Over the wheat/weed fields

The full set of shots is on flickr.

My first art show: Songlines at PointB

My stuff at the show

Last year I visited my friend Becky’s gallery at Point B Studio while driving up the Southern Oregon coast. She mentioned the idea of including my stuff in an upcoming show and I filed it away under the “someday, yeah, that’d be cool” pile. Fast forward to earlier this year and Becky asked me to submit something to a show with several other artists. I kicked around ideas for the past few months until I came up with something I’m calling Twitart.

I went through my most favorited items at Tweeteorites and Favstar, picked ones I liked and then went through my 30,000 photo archive of stuff I’ve shot over the last seven years, looking for images to match. My favorite piece is this one:

Twitart: Superhero

It was fun to see other artists and talk with other photographers in the show. I particularly liked Christopher Garcia’s work that combined pixel art in digital prints with hand drawn elements and finished with screened inks. The pieces were really beautiful:

Cool digital/drawing/screenprints

If you’re headed up the Oregon Coast, stop by and check it out.

Art show logo/sign