Friday, 29 March 2013

Logging into websites and wondering why don't people understand licensing

Most of today I was logging into websites.

I use different passwords for each website, as this means that if one website gets hacked, a hacker can't use my password for anything else than that hacked website. It means that I have to keep a written list of all the different sites where I have accounts and the passwords for each site. But in my opinion it is more likely that a site I am registered with would get hacked and my password exposed than it is that someone will break into my house and steal my password list.

I signed up for a service called Lastpass a while back, which is a secure way of storing all your passwords for different sites. I did some checking before signing up, and they have been running for a while, come recommended by others, and there don't seem to be any concerns about the security they use for storing all your passwords.

So yesterday evening I decided to go through my password list, adding each site to my Lastpass account. Once done I won't need to keep looking at my password list whenever I want to log into a site.

Logging into the different sites and then saving the details into lastpass took quite a long time.

Yesterday evening I was reading some photography news about the launch of a new stock agency called Stocksy. The agency was created by the founder of iStockphoto. One of the comments on the news article said that one of iStock's top photographers (in terms of files uploaded and sales), Sean Locke, had been thrown out of iStock and had now joined Stocksy.

I read Sean Locke's blog post about the situation, and it does seem that iStock didn't really have any good reason to terminate his account. However, he does state that he uploaded files to Stocksy while he was still an exclusive contributor with iStock.

Now, this was before Stocksy had launched, and they weren't licensing any photos. However, I think that technically Sean would have broken his exclusive contributor agreement with iStock just by uploading to Stocksy. Although he may not have granted Stocky a licence to sublicense the images he uploaded, he would have had to grant Stocksy a licence to display the photos on their website. And if the iStock agreement states that iStock are the only ones allowed to licence the photos, then he broke that agreement.

Today I was looking at the iStock forums, and there seems to be more misunderstanding of how licensing (and businesses) work on there. I was reading a thread discussing about iStock / Getty licensing a lot of images to Google and allowing google to sublicense these for commercial use at no cost. In that thread the user loooby says:

IMO there are only 2 acceptable scenarios in this ordeal..

 1. Images are removed (unless the artist wants to keep it in there)

 2. Photographers are paid properly for such an extensive license

 Otherwise I would like to see an explanation as to why Getty thought this deal would be beneficial to the photographer?

 If there is no such explanation, then I think at least a sincere apology and a promise that it will never happen again is in order..

and user GavinD says:

This is despite the fact that the photographer owns the copyright. For me, if the photographer requests the removal of the image from iStock, then iStock should request its removal from Google. If Google what monetary compensation then iStock should pay it. It is Getty/iStock who created the mess in the first place.

So they think that once a licence has been granted, you should then be able to revoke it? No-one would ever buy a licence for an image if the licence could then be revoked. Can you imagine, a photographer/agency could license a photo to a large company for prominent use a big advertising campaign. Then once the company has the flyers printed, the billboards up, and TV ad made, all featuring the image, the photographer says I'm revoking your image licence. You must stop using it with immediate effect or you'll be taken to court for copyright infringement. No company or individual would take the risk of this happening.

This is why licences are granted typically for a fixed use, period of time, and are non revocable. The licensee knows what they can use the image for and how long they can use it for. They don't need to worry about the licensor suddenly changing their mind about the licence.

The other thing that annoys me about these posts is loooby's request for an explanation as to why Getty thought the deal would be beneficial for the photographer. As far as I'm aware Getty have never made a statement that they thought the deal would be beneficial for the photographer. Getty is a business, they exist to make money, not benefit photographers. They have a long history of doing things that don't benefit photographers.

(I'm pretty sure I read that in the past they used cheap in-house photographers to take copies of their top selling photos from outside photographers, so they could then get rid of the outside sourced photos and keep 100% of the profit from these new 'replacement' image sales themselves).

In the evening today I 'attended' a webinar about product photography that was pretty good.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Writing code and an article

This morning I was doing more website work on my photo website. I am only trying to add functionality to allow people to buy a licence, which I thought would be quite simple. But actually it is turning out to be quite a bit of work.

Part of the work has been looking for suggested printers. I wanted to see who RedBubble use. I couldn't find out, but did find this site, where I was surprised to see that it gets mostly bad reviews: Site Jabber: reviews.

Another link I thought might be posting here is this one: PHP output buffering - sounds like a bad idea, is it? Like the question poster, I was under the impression that capturing output in the buffer, clearing the buffer, and then echoing the captured content was inefficient and bad practice. I couldn't specifically remember reading this though, and given the answers in that thread, I think I must have just made it up.

I also wrote an article for my photo tips website today.

Monday, 25 March 2013


Today I was just doing more website work on my photo website.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Snowy day in March!

This morning I updated my pog website and did some photo descripting, then went to church.

After dinner I did some website work. I spent quite a bit of the afternoon reading / watching videos on product photography, and tried to find info on getting acrylic dust free.

In the evening I watched an episode of VR Troopers with Billy and did some more photo descripting.

Mauser went off to Japan for two weeks today and it snowed quite a bit this morning.

Mr blackbird looked like he wanted me to give him some food. But he didn't eat the food I gave him and just scraped the snow on the ground with his legs and beak. I thought maybe he meant he wanted some water, so I put some water out, but he didn't drink any. Maybe he just meant he wanted the snow cleared off the ground?

Mrs blackbird was collecting nesting material in the snow.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Trying to see if an ebay auction is fake

I was watching an auction for a Canon 500mm lens, which ends today. The seller was from Romania, only had 3 feedback, and the auction ended in the afternoon, rather than in the evening. (Generally auctions ending in the evening will attract more bids and so a higher price). They had titled the auction as 'Canon EF 500mm f/4.0 Lens', which misses out some of the lens specifications. 'Canon EF 500mm f/4 L IS Lens' would be a better title. The sellers description for the lens was quite minimal.

So, all these things combined, meant the lens had not been bid up very high. They didn't say they wanted payment by wire transfer or anything, so it looked to be a legit deal that many people would probably overlook, and so someone could get for a bargain price.

The seller's 3 feedback appeared to be genuine (they were sales transactions of jackets, and the people who bought them appeared to be genuine as well.

But I did have a slight issue with the images that the seller had used. Often when someone adds multiple photographs to a listing, it will be different angles of the item, all shot in the same place. But this seller's photos appeared to all be shot in different locations. I google image searched for the three images that they'd used, to see if they were just re-using images they'd found on the web (which would indicate they didn't actually have a copy of the lens that they could take photos of themselves).

The first two photos I couldn't find any matches for, but the third photo did turn up a match. This is the auction: and here you can find pictures of a 500mm f/4.5 lens that someone sold: Look at the lens trunk photo in both the auction and that web page, and you'll notice the auction just has a slightly cropped version of the trunk photo from the forum message.

It couldn't be the same person tried to sell the lens via the forum and is now selling via ebay as the forum thread clearly states that the lens has now been sold. (Plus the seller in the forum thread is from USA, not Romania). In the auction, the ebay seller states Please look good at the pictures because what you see it`s what you will get. Well, since they are using a photo they did not take, then it's quite obvious that you will not get what you see in the photos.

There is a slim chance that this could be a real deal, and the seller just used photos pulled from the web rather than taking photos of the actual item they're selling. But on a purchase that will likely end up around £2000 or more, you'd have to be quite brave (maybe foolish) to take that chance.

For reference, here are screenshots of the ebay auction and the forum thread showing the same photo of the lens trunk:

Well, the auction has now ended, and it sold for £3,000.00, which isn't even that great a deal. People on ebay are just silly.

The rest of the day I went out on a walk, did some baking, some website work, went on Wii Music, and watched 24.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


The last couple of days I have been reading about the MVC design pattern.

I also spent quite a lot of time today trying to find out why previews weren't working on a wordpress site I look after. The preview would load, but it wouldn't include any changes that had been made. The only way to see the changes was to publish the updated page.

I first tracked the problem down to the database, and then to the wp_options table, and then to the permalinks structure entry, and finally down to my server settings. The issue was that I was redirecting requests for non-existent files to index.php by using try_files. What I didn't realise is that unlike rewrite, this doesn't automatically append query parameters. So you need to do

try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php?$args

Seems obvious now, but took me ages trying to track the problem down until I realised it was probably a problem with my nginx config.

I got an email today from someone asking to use one of my photos from the website. They said that sxc had changed it's policies recently so that people wanting to use a photo in a manipulation must request the copyright holder's (the photographer's) permission first. (Previously you only needed to do this if the photographer explicitly stated they wanted contacting for permission first). I was kind of surprised at this, as I thought sxc had been left for dead by Getty soon after they bought it.

So I checked the site, but it still appears to be left for dead. Maybe Getty just decided to change to rules for some reason, but leave the rest of the site as it is. It's funny since the front page still has the latest news as being 28 July 2009 Getty Images is proud to welcome Stock.XCHNG into its family of companies..

Now, according to the news article:

Most of all though, we want to keep doing all the things that have already made SXC the success it is, and see it continue to grow and thrive.

So Getty thinks that making it harder for people to get files approved and removing the forums is the same as keeping doing all the things that made SXC a success? In truth their statement should have read:

Most of all though, we want to stop doing all the things that have already made SXC the success it is, and by doing this, see it start to falter and die.

Further down the page, underneath the news item, they still have a piece of text as follows, even though the forums have been removed:

Chat with other members in our forum! Looking for something? Need an opinion? Have a question? Post a topic, and someone will definitely help you out.

Just checking wikipedia now, apparently the founders of started a new agency (not owned by Getty) called stockfresh. I checked their website and they have a counter that shows how many files they have available. This counter keeps going up all the time. I thought it didn't seem right that they'd be constantly adding new files, and it seems they aren't. If you refresh the page, it will just go back to what it was before. So it's just a fake counter.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Gah! spin four rare

I spent quite a bit of time this morning just replying to a few emails.

The rest of the morning and most of the afternoon I was working on an article for my photo tips website.

In the evening I watched the David Brent Comic Relief special. It was okay, not particularly funny or anything, but the song produced to accompany it is pretty funny:

After that we watched another episode of 24 season 2. For the rest of the evening I did some more work on my photo website, trying to work out image licensing fees.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Watching a film

Today didn't start very well. I had moved a folder from one drive to another, because the drive it was previously on was just about full. But I forgot to update this change in the settings on my backup software, so it thought the folder had been deleted, and deleted it from the backup as well.

I then changed the settings to point to the new location, but then accidentally synced it the wrong way, so it deleted the original files, instead of backing them up. The backup software does a permanent delete rather than moving to the recycle bin, so I had to use a recovery program to restore the files.

After this I compared to my other backup, and there were a few differences, so I sorted them out. Then I left it doing a binary compare to make sure none of the restored files were corrupted.

When I got back from church, I got a cup of coffee and then was going to go on my computer. At that moment there was a power cut, so I couldn't see what the results of the binary compare were, and had to run it all over again when power was restored. If only I'd checked it before getting a cup of coffee, it would have saved a lot of time.

In the afternoon I went through a bit of my to do list that was just saved URLs. Some were articles, which I read. Others were articles or ideas that might come in handy later, so I either bookmarked them or moved them to more specific subject related to do lists.

In the evening I watched a Film Noir with Mauser and Bo, which was quite good.

I also worked on using a potentiometer to control the output of a Vivitar 283 flash. I got it working okay, but the optical trigger I bought for the flash isn't much good. It works okay, but triggers on the pre-flash and not the actual flash of the camera. Since my main point in this is to show how you can get a cheap off-camera flash that will work with even a compact camera, that isn't much good. So I ordered a slightly more expensive model, which will hopefully work a bit better.

There is one that seems like it would work pretty well, but it was about £22, hardly cheap.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Not getting much done

The whole past week or so I've got hardly anything done.

Last Friday I was trying to find photos for someone, and even made some amendments to my website to accommodate them. But they haven't come back to me, so it seems that was a waste of time.

To aid in the search for photos for them, I installed Windows Live Photo Gallery, which then broke PNG thumbnails in Windows Explorer. So I've wasted quite a bit of time trying to fix that (with no success so far).

I accidentally copied old files over new ones when syncing my VM with a backup of important files on the host PC. So that took me a couple of days to sort out.

I spent about 2 days testing optimisations of SQL queries on my website, only to find out that the queries I already had worked better than the alternatives. (I did learn some stuff and write up an article for my web dev blog based on the testing though).

So I hope next week will be really productive to make up for this week's lack of constructive results.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Why do I be so stupid?

Today was quite annoying.

First of all I spent quite a bit of time trying to get PHP working as symlinks to libs it relies on had mysteriously disappeared.

After that I found that the script I had written yesterday (that took me quite a while to write) for zipping old log files had disappeared. All the zipped logs had disappeared, and the logs that had been deleted after being zipped had reappeared.

I realised what must have happened - when I backed up my files from my Ubuntu VM to my Windows host, I must have synced the wrong way round. So instead of copying the new files from Ubuntu, I copied the old files to Ubuntu. The symlinks wouldn't have been copied to Windows, and so since these didn't exist, that would have resulted in them being deleted when I did the sync backwards.

After this I worked on my script for zipping the logs again.

After lunch I realized that I was still being stupid, and did what I should have done yesterday when I first realised that the symlinks had gone missing. I retrieved a copy of the Ubuntu VM from a backup.

Then I had to spend a bit of time updating the stuff that I did yesterday (that I could remember) and wasn't on the backup.

I did some more website work for the rest of the afternoon.

In the evening I watched 24 with Mauser and Bo. After that I did some cooking.

For the rest of the evening I did more website work, trying to optimise some sql queries.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


Today I was still doing stats checking. As part of this I updated wordpress on my photo website. This took a long time to do as quite a few plugins had been updated, and they caused PHP notices that I needed to fix. It's annoying because one at least one of them I had told the developer how to change their code not to cause notices, but they hadn't fixed it.

An interesting error I found through Google Webmaster Tools was a 404 for /tag/atom/feed/ on a wordpress site. The problem is that atom is a type of feed, so wordpress doesn't like it if you use 'atom' as a tag, and then try to access the feed for that tag page. The solution is to change the tag slug to something different. My tag related to the ATOM feed / publishing standard, so I changed my tag slug to 'atom-standard'. Now I can access /tag/atom-standard/feed/ and don't get a 404.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Stat checking

This morning I was just finishing off the article I started writing yesterday.

In the afternoon I was doing website stats checking. I noticed for my photo website there was a 404 error that seemed to be genuine (i.e. looked to be for a file that should exist but didn't rather than bots looking for vulnerabilities by checking for specific files).

When I looked into it, this file didn't exist, but should have done. How it got deleted, I don't know. It was an image file, and a larger version and thumbnail both existed, just the small one was missing. So, after creating and uploading the missing file, I then spent quite a bit of time checking to see if there were any other missing files. There were quite a few discrepancies.

I have the images arranged in 3 folders - medium, small, and thumbs. Each folder had a different amount of files (should be the same). The folders on my local copy of the site had different numbers of files compared to the server (should be the same). The folders had different numbers of files compared to the number of records in the database (should be the same).

So checking for all the differences and getting everything synced up took quite a while. There weren't any more missing files though, just extra files.

Carrying on with checking my stats, there were some unusual URLs that awstats had listed as 301s. awstats doesn't list the URL that the user was redirected to, so I wanted to check the server logs to see what it was. After downloading the latest server logs, I got a low disk space message.

So then I spent quite a bit of the afternoon and evening working on a shell script to gzip my server logs. I didn't want to zip the latest ones, so I wrote my script to zip all logs except the 10 most recent ones. After zipping, my logs folder went down from about 4GB to about 1GB. (Likely it would have gone down to about 500MB if I'd zipped all logs).

Going back to the strange 301s, I found that actually the request was different to what awstats had listed. awstats listed a request like /somedirjpg as a 301. The actual request was /somedir, which then 301'd to /somedir/ (which was a 403). Why awstats was appending jpg, png, txt etc. to these requests, I don't know.

I finished checking the stats of my sites on webfaction, so more stat checking with google, bing, and hostgator tomorrow probably.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Spring cleaning

Most of today I was just cleaning my photography stuff. In the evening I also watched 24 with Mauser and Bo, went on Wii Music, had a haircut, and started writing an article about cleaning photography stuff.

Friday, 8 March 2013


Today I was mostly doing more church website work. I put the website live, but then my browser kept bringing up the old site. I thought it must be due to DNS propagation delay, but actually it seemed that I just needed to close my browser and then re-open it.

After I had the site working (now the evening), I wrote an email with all the info about the site, what had been implemented, what hadn't, what could be, etc to send to the person that had asked me to work on the site. One of the pages had a notices section with no notices, I was waiting for these to be emailed to me. So I thought I might as well login and just comment out that empty section before I send my email.

I logged in, but then when I clicked on the Pages link to edit the pages, I received an error page that said:

Error The requested URL /wp-admin/edit.php was not found on this server.

So I checked the server, and that file definitely did exist. I did some googling, thinking the problem might be something due to role scoper. I thought maybe I had a setting wrong somewhere and role scoper was making this error come up as the user didn't have sufficient permissions.

I didn't find any info, so I tried my local copy of the site - it worked fine. I decided to try going back and logging out of the live site, and then log in again as the admin user. But now I got a not found error for /wp-admin/.

I tried the main page of the website, and it had reverted back to the old website! I logged into the control panel of the old host (who I think the domain is also registered with), and checked the DNS settings. They were now empty! So the DNS changes I had made were active for a few hours, but then had reverted back to the old settings.

It's a good job I took so long to write my email, otherwise I would have sent out an email saying the new site was up, and when they came to check it, they would have just seen the old site.

I opened a ticket with the old webhost, though it looks like they only have support mon-fri. The more webhosts I deal with, the more and more it seems like Webfaction are the only hosts who actually know what they're doing.

Thursday, 7 March 2013


Today I was just doing more website work. One very annoying problem I came across that I haven't found before was wordpress breaking an html comment e.g.

<!-- stuff to be commented out -->

Wordpress would automatically change the two dashes in the end comment markup to &#8211;. And of course, this meant that the end comment block was now no longer an end comment block, and so the rest of the page was commented out (disappeared).

You can read other people complaining about wordpress' behaviour here: Visual Editor now strips HTML comments (new in 3.2)... How to prevent? However, for me this was happening in the text editor, not the visual editor. It was also happening with the comment only on a single line (it was enclosing an img tag), there were no line breaks between the start and end blocks of the comment.

The solution was to remove the filter 'convert_chars' from 'the_content' in my theme's functions.php file. This does have the potential to cause problems down the line as the site will be edited by people using the visual editor. So I just hope that TinyMCE converts chars that are not allowed (e.g. &, ") into entities rather than relying on convert_chars to do it.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


Here's a bit from an unsolicited Web Design and Development Services email I received today:

We maintain Web 2.0 standards and W3C validations in all the websites we design and develop.

I've heard of Web standards, and I've heard of Web 2, but I've never heard of Web 2.0 standards. I did a quick web search for it now, and it does appear that other people have also used this term. However, clicking through to read the articles, it gives me the same impression that this email gave me - they've just tried putting two buzzwords together.

Most of today I was doing church work. In the evening I played on Wii Music with Billy and Mauser. It is quite maniacal, but probably worth £3 as it is fun to play with other people.

Monday, 4 March 2013


Today I was just doing Church website work.

Saturday, 2 March 2013


I didn't really get that much done today, just odd bits and bobs.

I went out on a walk, it was nice weather, and in most places the ground wasn't completely waterlogged any more. But there weren't really any signs of springs around. I wanted to find a ladybird or other beetle to use for an illustrative photo really.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Completed but not

Well, I kind of completed my target for this week. My target was to write 10 articles for my photo tips website, and I think I must have written about that. However, quite a few of the articles aren't actually finished because I still need photos to illustrate them.

I did try taking some photos to illustrate them, but they didn't really work very well. I could do with a beetle and some sunlight.

This evening I went through my emails, as I had about 200 built up by not having time to read my emails while I was working on the articles.