Writing a Post

An idea for a post strikes and what do you do? If you are busy you may ignore it or forget it. What a loss that may be. The best article you ever could create gone forever. So is there a better way?

I prefer to make a note of the important points and get back to it later. I use a text editor, word processor or even a pen and paper, whatever is at hand. I have a text document that contains a few half written posts. That way when ever I add something new I can see the notes I made previously and it reminds me to do something with them. When I need something to post this is where I come looking for ideas.

Next step is to type out the details. I use the same document so all my ideas are together. I try to flesh out the notes I made into a readable piece. I don’t normally post it straight away. I leave it and come back and reread it. I make some changes if I think it needs it and then post it, maybe. Sometimes I edit a few times, occasionally it never gets posted. Only post when it is as good as you can get it.

Of course this doesn’t work with the latest news, that must be out immediately but most things are not as time sensitive.

Of course this isn’t a perfect system. Sometimes an article may sit here for a long time, maybe forever. There are times when I intend to post something open this document, edit a few articles and not post anything. But usually the final post is better than the original effort.

What do you think? How do you work, do you have a system?

Keeping It Private

A blog is somewhere you can share your thoughts, ideas and views with the world so the idea of a private blog sounds like an oxymoron. But a blog can be much more and can have uses beyond that originally intended. A private blog may be the very tool you need for the job at hand.

First what is a private blog? A private blog is one that you control access to. It is not open to public view. It may be one only you can read or one that only selected people can read or optionally post to.

Most blogging platforms have some type of privacy controls. WordPress.com allows a totally private blog, one to which only you can have access, or one with controlled access, you select who can read and post to it. Other blogs may allow you to control access to the whole blog or just individual entries. Look for Privacy or access levels or it may be like Vox and ask “who can read this?”.

So you have a private blog, what can you do with it? The answer is almost anything but here are a few ideas.

OK the simplest one first, a personal diary. As long as you keep the password secret your innermost thoughts are safe from curious partners, siblings or house mates. Better still keep its existence secret.

A private blog can be a basic form of groupware. You have an idea for a scheme that will make you a fortune but you need some help getting it off the ground and your most trusted ally is on the other side of town, country or planet. You need somewhere you can bounce ideas around until you come up with the prefect plan. A private blog with you selecting just the two (or more) of you to have access and you are set. More colleagues can be brought on board as needed.

You travel regularly and carry your contacts, schedules and meeting notes on your laptop, pda, cellphone etc. What happens when it is stolen, lost or just stops working, do you have a backup? If you had entered all that information on a private blog you do. Just find the nearest internet café. Give your assistant access too and any updates are there when you need them. After the meetings add your reports and they are back are at the office and hopefully being acted on before you get back.

Your family is spread across different time zones but you still want to feel close. A private blog only the immediate family can access is the perfect place to share your news, photos or whatever.

What about an electronic sticky note? There are applications for your desktop but if you use a number of computers a blog can be a temporary storage to keep notes, addresses, numbers etc.

These a just few ideas you may find useful. But what could you do with a private blog? Do you use one now? and what for?

Scanning Film

I find when scanning film it pays to follow a procedure. Failure to do this often equals failure to achieve a successful scan (or archived copy). I mentioned earlier the steps I had to go through to get the scanner working so this time I will concentrate on the actual scanning process. I follow the same regime whether I am working with slides or negatives. It can be broken down into three steps – scanning, produce an archive, produce the required useful image.

Scanning

I use Vuescan to control the scanner. It has the advantage of being cross platform but I principally run it under Linux.

After selecting the shot to be scanned I select the appropriate settings in Vuescan. I have set the defaults to be close to what I need so the main settings to be made are negative or slide and type of film. Vuescan comes with presets for common film so this is easy if I can identify the film. With negatives it is printed on the film strip but with mounted slides it is not possible to tell.

I sometimes change the presets particularly if the film is faded or otherwise degraded, some of the film I am working with is more than 20 years old. Next a preview is made. Although the quality is a little less than the final scan it is a good indication of what I will get. At this point I may try some changes to the settings. Eg, I may preview different white balance settings. The area to be scanned is selected at this point too. There are options to keep the existing aspect ratio if that is important. I don’t crop too heavily at this stage especially if any perspective adjustments are going to be made later.

When I am happy with the preview I select scan. When the scanner has finished it will ask for a file name. Over time I have developed a naming procedure that works for me, it is YYYY_mmddtitle-nnnn.ext. This is year followed by an underscore then month and day, a title (or subject) follows then the image number. The image number is made up of my film catalogue number and the frame number on the film. (I use the same system with digital images but there is no film number so I just use a shot number.) I save the output of the scanner as a tiff.

Produce an Archive

As the output of the scanner has been saved I have an archive but I may do some additional work with a photo editing package. I use the Gimp for most editing. This includes fixing any perspective problem (ie. straightening sloping horizons or leaning buildings) and cleaning up any dust or scratches. A graphic tablet is an ideal tool for cleaning up images. It allows excellent control. I find it a must for detailed editing.

When I am satisfied with the results I save it, still as a tiff. I usually replace the scanned image but I sometimes rename it, usually by appending an “a”, if I consider I have altered it to the stage it is a new image, although this is rare.

Most importantly I save and backup this original scanned image.

The Final (or Useful) Image

This can be done at any time but usually I have scanned an image with the intention of using it, often as a post on my photo blog, “cewatticey”. So at this stage I make any changes to the image I think it needs and resize it and save as a jpeg if it is for use online. I will save in a different format if needed for some other use. I keep the name, just changing the extension unless the site has restrictions on file names, this applies to my photo blog. In this case I rename it to a generic name often using the title. If I have changed a colour photo to monochrome for example I will append a “m” to the filename to make it easy to identify in future.

The copy is saved with the original, if I want to post it somewhere else it saves reprocessing it. If I want to create a version for a different purpose it is created from the original.

A Call for Manners in the World of Nasty Blogs

High-profile figures in high-tech are proposing a blogger code of conduct to clean up the quality of online discourse. Many bloggers have been the victim of abuse, harrassment and even threats. Now some are suggesting a voluntary code of conduct among bloggers and commenters.

While the internet is a place for free speech does that free speech give everyone the right to abuse anyone they choose? Does a blogger have the right to delete any comment left on their blog?

What do you think?

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