Monthly Archives: March 2005

Best Photo Hosting Site

Readers of this blog know that I have been debating which photo hosting sites deserved my subscription dollars. I finally decided to buy a subscription to pBase ($23 per year for
200MB), primarily because pBase allows me to (i) create subsets (for instance, I am able to create separate subfolders for "Positano" and "Pompei" within my "Italy" folder), (ii) create
password(s) for each of my set(s)/subset(s) and (iii) batch upload my images within a zip file. I also like the way pBase has a camera
database that arranges images by camera model.

I am also considering a subscription to Flickr (about $42 per year to upload up to
1 gigabytes per month but with unlimited storage space). Flickr does not yet have subset or password functionality (which is why I gave the first nod to pBase), but I like the way (i) Flickr protects images from unauthorized downloading (yes, I know it is
not that big a deal for someone like me who does not shoot great
images–who would want to steal my photos, afterall–but it gives me
comfort), (ii) Flickr’s "organizer" make arranging photos within its portfolio easy. Flickr was just
bought by Yahoo, so it is not going to disappear any time soon.
might be worth supporting ($25 per year), because it has so many great tutorials and articles (written by both professionals and serious amateurs), including this one about concert photography. Also, many of the users are highly serious photographers and enthusiasts. An email inquiry I sent went unanswered, though, so I am going to hold off on for now.

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The Art of Money

I have heard of at least one distressed investor (or "vulture investor") who collected depictions of the Garuda, a Hindu figure who is half-man and half-vulture. I wonder how many Wall Street professionals collect the art of Victor Debreuil, a French American painter, who, along with other 19th century American trompe l’oeil still-life painters (including William Harnett and John Haberle), became fixated with drawing and painting money." They had several aims: to show off their replicative skills, to confound federal counterfeiting laws, and, perhaps most importantly, to join in the then – highly- emotional debates over American monetary policy," says The Butler Institute of American Art. Debreuil was known to paint both single bills as well as "barrels" of money. The Federal Reserve Board owns one such painting. (See also the virtual exhibits at The Museum of Money & Financial Institutions.)

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MGM vs. Grokster: Cuban Supports Small Firm Innovation

Mark Cuban explains why he is supporting Grokster in the MGM Studios versus Grokster legal case.

We are a digital company that is platform agnostic. Bits are bits. We dont care how they are distributed, just
  that they are. We want our content to get to the customer in the way the customer wants to receive it, when they want
  to receive it, at a price that is of value to them. Simple business. Unless Grokster loses to MGM in front of the Supreme Court. If Grokster loses, technological innovation might not
  die, but it will have such a significant price tag associated with it, it will be the domain of the big corporations
  only. It wont be a good day when high school entrepreneurs have to get a fairness opinion from a technology oriented law
  firm to confirm that big music or movie studios wont sue you because they can come up with an angle that makes a
  judge believe the technology might impact the music business. It will be a sad day when American corporations start
  to hold their US digital innovations and inventions overseas to protect them from the RIAA, moving important jobs
  overseas with them. Thats what is ahead of us if Grokster loses.

Thanks to Fred Wilson for posting a pointer to the post. The Supreme Court will hear the case Tuesday.

A Quarrel and New Dumas Novel

Speaking of Mark Sarvas (and his literary blog The Elegant Variation): he points us to news of the immiment publication of a new Alexander Dumas novel. (Great news, since I am a fan of Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo.)

A quarrel about who killed Admiral Nelson is
about to be revived with the first publication of the lost final novel
of Alexandre Dumas.The French marksman who shot the British commander at Trafalgar is the hero of Le Chevalier de Saint Hermine, a 900-page work that Dumas was turning out for serial publication in the months before his death in 1870. Dumas appears to have exploited uncertainty over the identity of
the marksmen to put his hero’s finger on the trigger. By weaving
historic fact with swashbuckling fiction, the author of The Three Musketeers was pursuing his life’s mission of bringing French history to the masses through fiction.

Books to Burn and a Deserted Island

This is quite funny. Writer friend Jai Claire has passed me the "stick" on a parlor-game type chain letter. Let me tackle the questions.

1. You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, what book would you like to be?
Looks like you can buy an inflammable ("gag’) book from the magic
stores, but failing that, probably an ebook. Let Guy Montag and his
keorsene try to burn that!

2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character.

course, wouldn’t you pick Buttercup from William Goldman’s The Princess Bride? Because, as Goldman says,
she is the most beautiful woman in the world (although she cannot tell
the difference between her beloved Wesley and the Dread Pirate Roberts).

3. The last book you read.
Candian short story writer
Alice Munro’s Runaway, because it was in the collection left by other
travelers in the library of our hotel in Sorrento during our recent trip to Italy. Unfortunately, my Canadian wife was not that impressed by my attempt to get smarter on her national literature.

4. What are you currently reading?
I am yet another person who dips in and out of several books at a time. Continuing the Italian theme, Italo Svevo’s Confessions of Zeno and D.H. Lawrence’s Twilight in Italy.
Flow (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) and Food for Fitness (Chris Carmichael,
trainer to cyclist Lance Armstrong). Gödel, Escher, Bach (Douglas

5. Five books you would take to a deserted island.
The first four books for sustenance of the soul: Shakespeare’s
Complete Works, Cao Xueqin’s The Story of the Stone (aka The Dream of
Red Chambers),  Dylan Thomas’ Collected Poems and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. And since I would be on a deserted island, the SAS Survival Guide.

6. Who are you going to pass the stick to (3 persons) and why?
This is the toughest question. Since I cannot pass this back to Jai… let me try to pass this to Daphne Buter, Mark Sarvas and Paul Toth, because their answers should be interesting. (I would have named Michael Standaert, but he is on his honeymoon and his head is high in the clouds.)

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Writing Photos

Flickr photos that have been tagged under "writing."

More Small Screen Readers

I missed this Associated Press article about cell phone fiction when it came out a few days ago. Like other articles on the topic, it plays up the growing popularity of cell phone books in Japan, mentioning the popularity of the novel Deep Love among teenage girls. (See also Brian Ashcraft’s interview of Deep Love author Yoshi.) AP also points to the Random House’s acquisition of Vocel as a sign of the inevitable rise of this market, despite the fact that Random House Ventures Richard Sarnoff, has said that cell phones are still inadequate for "sustained reading." One company that is trying to cash in is Bandai Networks.

The Tokyo-based wireless service provider offers 150 books on its site, called Bunko Yomihodai,
or All You Can Read Paperbacks. It began the service in 2003 and saw
interest grow last year. There are now about 50,000 subscribers. […] Users can search by author, title and genre, and readers can write
reviews, send fan mail to authors and request what they want to read,
all from their phones.

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HP Acquires Snapfish

… and Hewlett Packard is acquiring Snapfish, the photo processing service. Ecommerce Times notes that the transaction "puts HP up against Eastman Kodak and its Ofoto service." HP says that the deal is a natural extension of its digital photography business in printers and digital cameras. Forbes in February noted that the pace of digital camera sales has slowed, while lab-produced digital prints continue to drop in price. PCWorld in its April 2005 issue analyzes the print capability and costs of 11 printers, including a chart with the per print costs of each device.

ipod Slights Classical Music Fans

After trying to rip some classical music CDs for my father, I readily relate to the recent Wall Street Journal article: "Highbrow  Lament: Classical-Music Fans Feel Slighted in Era of the iPod."

But even if fans manage to find
the classical tracks they want online, MP3 players aren’t set up to
easily sort classical music. When a digital song is purchased from an
online site, or even "ripped" from a compact disk, it’s more than a
file containing audio information: each track also contains text that
identifies the artist, album name, track name and track number, which
software programs on PCs and in digital music players use to organize
and display songs.

Pop tunes are generally known by their original
performers and are easy to categorize. But there are hundreds of
recordings of Beethoven symphonies under different conductors with
different orchestras. Many classical-music fans often purchase more
than one version of the same work, to compare performances and build
their libraries. It’s not uncommon for an opera lover, for example, to
own several recordings of Mozart’s "The Marriage of Figaro" with
different casts or conductors, or a Baroque-music fancier to have two
or three different recordings of Bach’s "St. Matthew Passion."

And woe unto you if you corrupt your iTunes files on your desktop computer; while Apple makes it incredibly easy to move music from your desktop to your iPod, trying to move the music back from the iPod to your desktop is an incredible chore. The limitation is designed to prevent privacy, but it is yet another example of a company arrogantly deciding what you can do with music that you might have already legally purchased. Additionally, if you live in Asia, you will find it difficult to buy music online from Apple. I guess the assumption is that most people living in Asia live to simply pirate music.

NewsTarget is among those pushing the iRiver flash players instead of the iPods, and The Digital Music Weblog agrees that the iPod is overhyped. A Boston Globe article says that the public’s seemingly unsatiable appetite for digital music is drawing additional attention from the cellphone companies. (Brett’s Blog looks at one such offering from Sony Ericsson.)

Update 4/13/2005: Fazal Majid has a good discussion of the issues for iPod owners who want to listen to classical music.

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Yahoo Acquires Flickr

Reactions to the news that search engine company Yahoo is acquiring photo hosting site Flickr:

Flickr tells its users that its DNA will remain unchanged. The statement did not impress Loren Baker. Eric Brochu says that Yahoo is a company that does not "get it." Jeff Jarvis says Flickr is running for the safety of a deep-pocketed, big brother. Om Malik reports the price tag at close to $35 million, while John Battelle calls it $15 to $17 million.  Terren Tong calls it a reaction to Google’s Picasa. BusinessWeek says Jerry Yang is focused on Flickr’s ability to generate a photo-oriented community, in part by making tagging a popular group activity. According to Search Views, the transaction confirms the "the credibility and profit-making potential of such an application," but wonders why Google has not yet folded in the photo-oriented applications that it has acquired. Fred Wilson says that he will "be watching what Yahoo! does with Flickr a lot more closely than what [Barry] Diller does with [AskJeeves]." (Speaking of Diller, Bambi Francisco says his acquisition of Ask Jeeves will not improve the search engine’s rankings.)

(Update 3/24) – Charlene Li says it is a great move for a portal like Yahoo; she calls portals the 800 pound gorillas of social networking. Clay Shirky believes the deal will allow Yahoo to focus on backend stability while Flickr focuses on responding to its users and developing new features.)

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