Friday, March 23, 2018

Facebook and where to begin for listing displeasure...

For some time now, and usually after much frustration, the reasons for being increasing dissatisfied with needing to use Facebook has left me wondering if I should vent my feelings on this or not.
     Of course there are the many reasons found by just following current news and too the many times over the course of many years that Facebook has made the news but not for good reasons. Quite frankly, the number of these instances are just too many to try to briefly list a few here as examples. Let's just say Facebook has a history of having problems.
    And too there are the many firsthand experiences with trying to effectively use Facebook for both personal and for professional reasons. Again the mess with this history of challenges is just too much to try to list here as part of this post. Lets just say there are many reasons for dissatisfaction relating to dealing with Facebook.
     Many years ago the only reason for me to personally sign up for having a Facebook account was for setting up a shareable page for promoting our bikeMS cycling team (for raising funds for the MS Society). This proved to be effective - at least for those within the Facebook community of connected friends. For beyond this community though (and not everyone is on Facebook), its effectiveness could be questioned.
     It is easy to notice that many businesses and organizations rely on having Facebook pages for their primary, and maybe only, online presence. It is understandable that not everyone would be inclined to have also a website for their business or organization. Facebook does provide a service for such public sharing. It sounds good except that the use of the word "public" is highly misleading.
     For those that are involved with managing Facebook content - such as for "public" Facebook pages - by default you need to have an account. And once you are on the inside, so to speak, it is easy to overlook what the experience is for anyone who visits your page who is not a Facebook person.
     The experience for those folks leaves a lot to be desired. It is not a good one. The animation below shows how relentless Facebook is for using your so called public page as an opportunity to convince anyone and everyone that they should be on Facebook. They flat out state that to "See more" of your content, the visitor needs to have an account and log in. Even if all your information is meant to be public, Facebook is telling folks that by not having an account that they may be missing out on something. In effect, Facebook is using your page to convince everyone that they need to join Facebook. Basically Facebook hides and holds your content in limbo so that they can advertise for themselves in very intrusive ways. And even if a visitor does select "Not Now" for opting out of logging into, or signing up for, an account - Facebook will not go away and will not take no for an answer. It is relentless in its efforts for using your content for its own benefit.

    For myself I have no choice. If I am to continue with providing suggestions and assistance to others for being engaged in public ways I cannot simply delete my Facebook account and move away from it. Personally I would welcome the opportunity to do so and divorce myself from the Facebook experience, though this is contrary to what is generally suggested for anyone interested in providing content in public ways. Having a website can be nice, though that may not be the best solution for everyone. Though Facebook has been the biggest fish in the pond, there are other social media avenues and other online methods of expression that could be, and maybe should be, considered as alternatives for effective public sharing of your content.
     There is really no happy ending for this post. I guess that regardless of what avenue is chosen for online expression, it will come with challenges. And for being specific to Facebook's so called public pages, it is good to recognize what this really means for your visitors and what their actual user experience is. And to be aware of how efforts will be made by Facebook - using your content - to try and capitalize on those visiting and inquiring eyes.
    So if there are options beside just using Facebook, I would strongly suggest pursuing them. For being able to separate yourself from an abusive situation, it is good to have options for not having all your communication eggs in one basket.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

GIF Files: Standing the Test of Time...

Animated GIF files are fascinating for oh so many reasons! Don't take my word for it; in the event this would be news to you, search online and see what you can find. Though many reasons for this could be stated here, to me, one of the most impressive aspects of GIF files is their longevity.
     Who would have thought many decades ago, prior to the Internet, in the dark-ages of computers where the idea of dealing with images as a file was in its infancy, that this file type would still be around today. The reasons then for creating this type of file were drastically different than its appeal now in our modern (a relative term) times.

     Some may find the popularity of these annoying, and maybe especially so for the ones that go on forever, and ever, and ever - distracting your eye from your reading (such as the ones provided here). Though to me - be it for adding life with motion to old photos, or for providing instructional visuals, or for whatever reason - the usefulness for these file types seems endless.

     All this being said, what I find maybe most impressive is the longevity of the file type itself. This is no small achievement. Over the years there have been so many file types, programs, ideas, notions, etc, that have gone by the wayside to oblivion and archives of the obsolete - lost in the dungeons of the abyss.
     I know this is to be expected though in many ways this can be a real problem. For example let's consider layout programs such as InDesign and Quark, or maybe Microsoft Publisher, and let's also consider the one that may be underappreciated but deserves much credit for getting "desktop publishing," and layout of text and images within a computer, started in the first place - way back when - PageMaker.
     When these programs, and their file types, become obsolete what is one to do? I have around fifteen years of work that was done with PageMaker, and thanks to Adobe who took ownership of the program to then abandoned it without a workable means of effectively converting the files forward - what is one to do? Files becoming obsolete can be a real problem.
     What of Office type files, such as Word, for something as basic as data or "word-processing"? When considering the different versions of the programs, the added "x" to the extensions, the "it may work or may not work features" (which depend on having the newest and latest version of the program), etc. (the list goes on) - again, what is one to do? Years ago, from Microsoft, I used their Works collection of programs. I now have files - you know - basic text and data - from the early 1990s that are no longer usable (at least that was my experience the last time I looked for a means for accessing them).
     For text, with some basic formatting, let's consider the file type RTF (Rich Text File). It has proven itself, to me, as a very stable file type which offers longevity. My hope is that generations from now these RTF files will still work for whomever would want to access them. This kind of longevity for a file type seems the exception rather than the rule.
     For another example, lets consider Flash. It was not that many years ago when it was the "way to go" for making websites inviting and visually more interesting. I now have content on sites (as I am sure many others do to) that is now obsolete and no longer working for many visitors and devices.
     I am sure there are many other examples that could be mentioned, though my thoughts for what could be considered the most impressive feature of GIF files is that - wow - they really have survived the test of time where so many others have failed. For this I consider GIFs "most worthy" of my praise - and besides - in addition to being still very useful, they too can be fun.
     (While looking for another example for showing - and with a homemade pizza just placed in the oven while drafting out my thoughts here - I found this GIF from earlier. I guess I will close with this one then - while wondering - maybe I eat too many pizzas! Enjoy; I know I will once the oven buzzer goes off.)

Monday, February 29, 2016

Color with Old Photos...

Having had my eyes worked on (previous post) now has me thinking about old photos and adjusting for color.
     There is great variety with what can be found with old photos, The colors fade and change in different ways depending on the chemistry used in the originak photographic process. Usually this is with how well the photographic prints have held up over the years, though too this could relate to the original negatives or color slides (if available). Basically with color photography, longevity (be it with the film or prints) is often not its strong suit. Black and white photography, by comparison, often offered much more stability for aging over course of decades or even centuries.


     The photo above (left) did not hold up that well, which w ass taken in winter of 1978/79. This was not that long ago (though, depending on your age, maybe it was!). It can be disappointing to see personal photos loose their appeal in such a way. With some color adjusting though, some of the original colors can be brought back to life.

     For the above example, this photo is actually about a decade older though the issue is not so much the deterioration of the photo itself but is with the scan, which was limited in tonal range. The original scan (on left) was very pale with limited contrast. Though contrast can be added by expanding the tonal rage, very often this throws off and distorts the colors. Adjusting the colors for hue and also for saturation can bring it back to the way I remember it from when I took the picture in my youth (it was an overcast and rainy day). And rather than try to turn it into something that looks like may have just been shot, some of the "old photo" character is not lost.

     I included this one (above) for several reasons. It was actually photographed in color though so much has been lost, it looks mostly monotone. The color that is found are those that are from its deterioration. Though a lot was tried (from left to right above) the end result is really not that different. The main thing I like about this photo IS its colorization through deterioration, its uneven fading, its distortion of color, etc. This - its aged look - is its appeal.

     And for the above photo (school in Renova, PA) this is from those years when black and white photography was the only option. And even though the photo was scanned only in grays (left) it does not have the look and feel of being an old photo. In this instance, colorization was done to try and have it look more like the original aged print. And note too, with decades old photos very often as they age there is variety with how they become colorized. Some take on yellow and orange colors, others more green, and yet others more violet and dark blues. Variety can also be found within the different tonal ranges within an individual photograph - with lighter tones taking on one color, while dark tones with different colors.
     There is something really enjoyable about old photos, and when scanning and capturing these as digital records, it's nice see the variety that can be found and work on adjustments that can either revive their original glory, or enhance their aged charm.