I’m looking back at my blog and trying to remember the things that happened.
Google+ replaced Twitter, for all my talk about role-playing needs. For a while, my tweets were all about gaming. These days I use Twitter as an alternative to RSS for the kind of news that I might want to look into every now and then without wanting to read everything.
(Although I’m following Ars Technica on Google+, so perhaps everything will end up on Google+, eventually.)
I also have a few friends on Twitter that aren’t very active elsewhere.
I’m not sure how long I’ll be hanging out on Twitter and Facebook. I heard somebody say that Facebook is for the important people you know and Google+ is for the interesting people you don’t know. 2012 was also the year I stopped using identi.ca (a free, federated Twitter alternative).
I think that in general this blog has had few readers to begin with and has lost some. There are less comments because I write less about Emacs and tech issues. I guess I get a few comments on Google+ every now and then. I have never been one to try and maximize comments, however. I’m getting what I’m aiming for, I guess.
In general, therefore, the blog has also lost a bit of urgency. I no longer post little one-paragraph posts talking about the movies I saw. (Before yesterday it was Cloud Atlas which was nice, but not mind-blowing; yesterday it was The Hobbit part one, which was very beautiful; I could spend hours in Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth. Today I saw Beasts of the Southern Wild which reminded me of one of the best movies in recent years, Winter’s Bone. But then it started to stretch and had some surreal elements I didn’t like, so in the end I wasn’t as happy with it as I was at the beginning.)
At the same time, with the ads and the privacy issues of Facebook and Instagram, operating my own blog has become more important. I still host my pictures on Flickr and I’m happy I never stopped doing that. I pay their hosting fees and hope this means I don’t need to suffer ads and privacy violations.
My blog still uses Oddmuse. It’s a Perl script that I’ve been maintaining for over a decade, now. It still works! I use the same software for Emacs Wiki. Since many people are used to the many editors of Wikipedia and the features of MediaWiki, they criticize my choice every now and then. 2012 was no different. This time, however, I wrote a longer reply: How Emacs Wiki Works. (In fact, a separate wiki called WikEmacs was created using Mediawiki. I’m not sure how well it does.)
One of the benefits of the services I no longer like that much was that they allowed me to keep in touch with my family. My sister, my cousin and my mother in law are on Facebook. My mother, my half-sister and my half-brother are on Twitter where we all have private accounts linked to each other such that it occasionally feels like a family chat. I’ve started using Instagram as a way to tell people that I’m alive and invite the occasional comment by automatically uploading the pictures to this family chat on Twitter and to Facebook. I think it worked really well and now I’m not quite sure what I should be using instead. Rely on IFTTT?
The use of Instagram and all the ironic hipster hate online has revealed that I had already been a hipster long before it was cool!
There was also a tiny flash of activity on Community Wiki. A Facebook group for the wiki got created. Fierce editing did not resume. Wikis as a discussion medium seem to have gone the way of the Dodo. When I look at MeatballWiki, I don’t understand what’s going on. The wikis I was interested in as a discussion of social media are no longer active. Perhaps social media must be discussed using itself. I wonder where Instagram gets discused. Using screenshots?
I just read Yahoo Just Killed… Consumer Confidence In Them and I have to agree. I am a Delicious user, and the first thing I thought upon reading the news was “I should bite the bullet and migrate all my Flickr pictures to Picasa!” I have not done that yet because I didn’t want to keep everything I do online in Google’s multitentacular embrace. Oh well…
I started looking for a non-Windows Flickr backup tool. Right now I’m using FlickrEdit which is a Java Webstart application, so if you have a decent Java installation, you should be able to start it from its webpage. It is currently downloading 1800+ images “in sets” from Flickr. Strangely enough it can only backup “selected” images, so you need to preview all your images before you back them up. That’s a lot of images… I’ll keep you posted. I’m not sure this is quite working as expected.
Now I’m waiting for the Flickr backup to finish. Let’s see whether I can use the Gooogle command line tool to recreate my Flickr sets as Google Picasa albums using the command line… Or just use the Picasa application? We’ll see when we get there.
Update: I had to restart the FlickrEdit backup process a few times, but currently have 1850 images in my folder taking up about 4,6G of space.
I also tried FlickrGettr which didn’t quite work. I contacted the author and he confirmed that no longer maintained it.
I also installed Migratr on a Windows machine via remote desktop. It seemed like the ideal solution. I started downloading all my Flickr images. After a while it stopped importing images and I found a file called
errors.log which said:
The remote server returned an error: (504) Gateway Timeout. at System.Net.WebClient.DownloadFile(Uri address, String fileName) at System.Net.WebClient.DownloadFile(String address, String fileName) at Migratr.PhotoServices.FlickrBasedPhotoService.importFromSource(String filePath)
Hm. I guess I’d have to try downloading the images a few times. This is no good, since it will try to upload the images it got before letting you quit. And it crashed while uploading the images to Picasa Web.
In the mean time, I tried PhotoGrabbr… It took forever to down the pictures. Perhaps that’s why it’s not getting a timeout error? In the end PhotoGrabbr downloaded 2104 images but took only 3,7G of space. I wonder what that means. When I look at the images downloaded by FlickrEdit I notice that some pictures have been downloaded up to three times! And I still get less files than using PhotoGrabbr.
Thus, PhotoGrabbr did the job of getting all the images. It also built an XML file containing an entry for ever picture, its title, its description, its tags, and its location (which is always empty for my images).
I currently have two problems, however:
- The XML file doesn’t provide a unique identifier for the Photos. I now have two files called
02031_Weisstannental.jpg, and two entries for a Photo with title “Weisstannental”, and no way to match them up. This makes no sense.
- There appears to be no information concerning the sets and albums the image belonged to.
I restarted the entire process, picked a different download directory, and instead of clicking the “Download All Photos” button I marked all the sets and clicked on the “Download” button. That should help be reconstruct the sets. I also deselected the following options:
- Use the photo’s title as the filename
- Skip downloading photos with duplicate filenames
- Prepend sequential number to filename
Maybe I messed things up the first time around!
I downloaded all the photos with the settings I mentioned above, got the original Flickr filenames such as
333137065_9520df0f41_o.jpg, and a XML file containing the Photosets – but once again the Photo element itself contained no link to the filename, or the URL. It just contains title, description, tags, and location. It appears to be impossible to link the metadata with a file!
There are only two situations in which this will work:
- you never gave a custom title to your Flickr uploads such that the title tag is the unique filename the photo got from your camera in which case you should check the option “Use the photo’s title as the filename”
- by sheer luck all your titles are unique in which case you should check the option “Use the photo’s title as the filename”
Otherwise you’re toast.
I’m thinking about writing my own script using Perl’s Flickr::API and Net::Google::PicasaWeb.
Whoa, installing these two modules via CPAN pulled in a shit-load of modules!
Spending a few hours trying to get a Flickr login, I think I’m ready to put this to rest until Flickr does in fact shut down.
flickr.auth.getFrob and use the frob to call
flickr.auth.getToken. This fails with the message Invalid frob. Maybe it’s time to authorize my application? I visit the URL given by
$api->request_auth_url('read') and am redirected to a web page that says Oops! Flickr can’t find a valid callback URL. If I face it by appending
&callback= I get the message Oops! The API key or signature is invalid. which makes sense, I guess. The problem is that the first URL doesn’t have a callback URL (and I don’t need one).
Apparently GoogleCL has similar problems accessing Picasa. I keep getting errors and requests for tokens and other crap. This sucks.
I’ve been to another Flickr meeting. New faces! The blonde girl on the picture is also called Claudia. So if you’re going to click on it and explore some of the related pictures, just keep that in mind.
I only spent about an hour there, since I had to leave for Rueda classes. I think Claudia likes it so much, we’ll have to go every second week. They’re alternating between “intermedio” and “show”. A friend of ours loves to go there as well. He’s been doing this for a long time now, and goes every week. Claudia thinks she might go with him every other week. As for me: Too… much… !! I really recommend Salsa dancing. It’s fun. Movements flowing easily, the music guiding you, it’s wonderful when you can get lost in it. At first, I didn’t want to learn it and I didn’t like the music. By now, however, I think it is one of the best things that has happened to me.
I gave in and bought a Flickr “pro” account giving me more than just three sets to work with.  On the one hand, I feel better because I’m actually paying for the service I’m using instead of leeching, but on the other hand I feel lousy because I once again sold a tiny piece of my soul to one of the data hungry molochs of our time – this time Yahoo instead of Google.