Right Reading

concept to publication

Month: August 2008

Hotlinking reconsidered

It has long been accepted that hotlinking is an evil practice that steals the bandwidth of others. And indeed it is a free bandwidth ride, and one that hardly ever is accompanied by credit for the originator of the image. So there is a kind of malicious satisfaction in changing the hotlinked image to something like, oh … maybe naked David Haselhoff playing with puppies.

But a new analysis by Bill Slawski of a paper from Google and a patent application from Microsoft calls this point of view into doubt. Slawski attempts to determine why some images rank better than others in search engines, when conventional considerations seem not to fully account for variations in ranking.

Unsurprisingly, surrounding text and anchor text in inbound links are probably the biggest factors in determining image relevance. But image sizes, relationship to other images, frequency of use, image quality, and other factors can play a part.

The most intriguing consideration, however, might be “number of websites that contain an identical image.” If the same image occurs many times, especially in conjunction with certain keywords, it is a plausible surmise that it might be an important image to people searching for those keywords. As Slawski reports:

Images that appear on more than one web site might be more relevant for a query term than images that only show up on one web site, or they could be considered less relevant.

The reasoning behind this isn’t described, but maybe the text associated with each showing of the image is compared, and if it is similar from one to another it might be considered relevant for the text used. If that text differs with each display, it might be considered less relevant.

Finding whether images are identical might mean looking to see if the images shown on different pages are actually at the same address. For example, the same picture maybe show on ten different web pages, but the image itself is at one address, such as:

http://www.example.com/picture.jpg.

Identical pictures that aren’t at the same address might be compared by electronically reducing them to a computer readable hash value and comparing them to each other.

Bottom line: when you serve up some mischief to hotlinkers you could be reducing your rank in image search results.

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Some posts related to webwork
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Friday roundup

“Every separation is a link.” — Simone Weil

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Never the same stream twice

getty moodstream

Getty Images has come up with an odd, inventive, and intriguing take on the streaming music service (pandora, last fm, etc.). Getty’s Moodstream combines audio with shifting still and video images. The user dials up a “mood” by adjusting sliders for such qualities as “happy” vs. “sad,” “calm” vs. “lively,” and so on. (Or you can choose from presets.)

Moodstream is intended as a promotional tool. Getty hopes that creative people will use it as a brainstorming tool and end up licensing some of the images. Certainly Getty is rich in excellent stock images. Unfortunately, the music is the weak link, and I suspect after the site’s novelty has faded the comparatively insipid music will not be good enough to attract a sizable audience.

Still, it’s an interesting concept, and one worth checking out.

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A WordPress plugin, and how to find category ID numbers

This is post that will be of interest only to WordPress bloggers. Fernando Briano, a programmer based in Uruguay, has created a simple WordPress plugin that produces a list of posts by category. You can adjust the number of items shown, but the adjustment is global — it would be nice to be able to control the number of items in each instance that you use it. Also, the posts are listed in chronological order, and there is no option to change that.

To use the plugin you place some code in your post that calls up the category by ID number. Many plugins use ID numbers. But since version 2.5, WP doesn’t show ID numbers in the administration panel. What to do? The answer is to click on the category in the “manage categories” list — the ID number is shown in the url.

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Graphic design fads and Olympics posters

Are there fads in graphic design? Well, duh! Check out these eras of Olympics poster design.

1. 1912-1924: the homoerotic era

homoerotic olympics posters, 1912-1924

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Correcting color cast with Photoshop

I wish I could say I invented this technique for correcting color cast, but I actually learned about it from an online tutorial. Here I’ve added a wrinkle that is helpful for people like me who haven’t upgraded their Photoshop in a while.

We’ll start with this image of the multimedia center at the main branch of the San Francisco public library.

color cast to be corrected

The first thing we need to do is to duplicate the image.

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Friday roundup

“Honour commercio’s energy yet aid the linkless proud, the plurable with everybody.” — Finnegans Wake

Nomadic netizen

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The design process

Here’s n interesting case study in how a final magazine layout is arrived at. The designer is Matt Willey, the magazine Royal Academy.

The title changes are amusing, in a wicked sort of way (I assume the endless revisions are coming from an editor) — at some point Wiley just stops entering the changes and works with a row of exes instead.

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Silhouettes

frank chimero's silhouettesGraphic designer Frank Chimero had the cool idea of comparing his silhouette to those of a bunch of famous people. He turned the project into a nicely designed little book. A selection from the book is on his website (though the text is too small, regrettably, for reading).

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Via Swiss Miss

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Six classic wordle poets

Wordle is “a toy for generating ‘word clouds’ from text that you provide.” Words that appear more often are presented more prominently. The site will make word clouds from text that you provide or from urls or even from a del.icio.us user’s tags. It’s so pointless it almost becomes interesting.

What if some well-known American writers had become wordle poets? I fed six poems into the machine and accepted the default output (except in one case where I rejected a black background).

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Language differences between men and women

man and woman talking

According to the dust jacket of The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, published by Morgan Road Books in 2006, the book explains why

  • A woman uses about 20,000 words per day while a man uses about 7,000
  • A woman remembers fights that a man insists never happened
  • A teen girl is so obsessed with her looks and talking on the phone
  • Thoughts about sex enter a woman’s brain once every couple of days but enter a man’s brain about once every minute
  • A woman knows what people are feeling, while a man can’t spot an emotion unless somebody cries or threatens bodily harm
  • A woman over fifty is more likely to initiate divorce than a man

But are these assertions in fact, well, factual?

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Friday roundup

“Every separation is a link.” — Simone Weil

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The books we need

franz kafka on the books we need

“The books we need are the kind that act upon us like a misfortune, that make us suffer like the death of someone we love more than ourselves, that make us feel as though we were on the verge of suicide, or lost in a forest remote from all human habitation — a book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us.” — From a letter of Kafka to Oskar Pollak.

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via Book of Joe

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DoFollow scrapped

DoFollow: it was a noble experiment. But it brought me a lot of thin or spam comments that benefited no one. I spent a fair amount of time either deleting these or agonizing about whether they had a shred of content and should be spared.

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Translate server error — yum!

translate server error restaurant, china

You might have heard about the restaurant in China that, in preparation for the Olympics, decided to translate their name into English. I guess the translation program was down and, well …

Here’s a picture from tenz1225’s photostream.

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Rules grammar change

News flash!

rules grammar change (onion audio)

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Testing BibMe

BibMe, bibliography maker

BibMe, despite its unfortunate name, may be the easiest bibliography maker available. The site allows you to construct a bibliography in MLA, APA, or Chicago style and download it or save it to the site. You enter an ISBN, author, or title and BibMe does the rest. In addition to books, BibMe can handle websites, journals, videos, newspapers, and “other” (whatever that includes). The service is free.

I tried it with my “books for writers” list at Powell’s (that meant only testing books, so I threw in this blog to see how it would handle a website). I chose Chicago style. BibMe produced the following results.

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Friday roundup | Duly quoted

If Folly link with Elegance no man knows which is which … – William Butler Yeats

Duly quoted

  • Cuil is “a great search engine if you’re not interested in finding what you’re looking for.” —lardvark

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