Personal Blog: http://www.neibert.com/portfolio
Bio: Peter Neibert's work in progress is FloralDesignbyYukiko.com.. He appointed himself Webmaster (he really likes the title) and lays-out site and page design, flower and flower arrangement photography, photo editing and copy writing, as well as print brochures. He takes pictures of Marin County California landscape and wildlife, prints some, and publishes some on the web, including his new blog Story Pictures.
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The good reason to republish your writing on another blog is to expose your priceless material to a different audience. Good editing may require you tailor the article to the new audience. Blog search engines and directories have rules about doing this: one is the republication must have 25% different material — otherwise, they may consider you a spammer and send you, your post or your blog to blog purgatory.
The bad reason to republish your writing on another blog is you are indeed a spammer. ’nuff said.
The ugly reason is that you are over-committed and can’t produce new material fast enough to satisfy expectations or schedules. Give them something from your old files, they probably can’t tell the difference (be sure to excise contemporary references to President Reagan).
Well, I got an e-mail from Chris Franklin telling me THE BLOGGERS’ BULLETIN schedule has a hole in it and needs something immediately. I write slow (slowly, if you prefer), and now I am bogged down on a piece that is progressing even slower than usual. What to do?
Searching my archives I found a post I like that I had originally published in Yelp.com! I didn’t care for Yelp’s presentation of my Holy Aliens photographs, so I republished it on my own blog, Story Pictures.
Note: The following is an example of a republished post with my new (non-spamming) 25% introduction:
“Silent for Thousands of Years: Now Christians and Ancient Aliens Speak for Its Soul –
The trail down the West rim of Horseshoe Canyon, to the floor 750 feet below, is not difficult in the cool of early morning.
The Park Service says to allow 4 to 7 hours for the 6.5 mile round trip to the bottom, hike to the Great Gallery and return to the West rim trailhead.
The Great Gallery is the photographer’s reward. And The Journey — I’m not sure whose reward that is. In October-November, 6 or 7 hours is probably about right. In June, when we did it, the journey was an entirely different story. By the time you get to the floor, you notice the air warming up. It will go over a hundred by lunch time.
But you’re not concerned about the sun and the heat because you are really determined to capture the Great Gallery and its Holy Ghost (above).
The blue rocks in these pictures – where did they come from? In truth, they are red rocks, but the light reaching them is cold, blue. The light bouncing from side to side of this deep, narrow canyon, is cooled enough to change its temperature from hot at the top to cold at the bottom. Yet in summer daytime, the air down here feels like a furnace.
The main group of characters (below) to the right of the Holy Ghost group holds an ethereal quality. Perhaps it is the consequence of different sizes of figures with different (surviving?) saturation in the rock of the canyon wall.
As you hike from cairn to cairn (it’s a canyon – where else would you go?), you see painted figures on the canyon walls watching you — perhaps 30 to 50 feet above the floor, like this old elk hunter below:
And this complicated grouping (who is doing what to whom?).
Q. How did the artists get up there to paint that?
A. The Indian artists probably painted at shoulder height. Since then, erosion has cut the floor down, say 25 to 45 feet – so, if you can guesstimate the rate of erosion at different points in the canyon, you can play archeologist and guesstimate the age of the paintings and the era when those folks lived down here.
So, how old are these pictures? The Park Service guesstimates range from 1900 BC to 300 AD. Some sources say, no, the Great Gallery is probably more like 7,000 years ago. Other paintings throughout the canyon were probably added more recently, say as recent as 2,000 to 4,000 years ago. Some depict hunting scenes, some may be memorializing ceremonial events, and some may be guardians, placed on the canyon walls to protect it during the absence of its people. In the panel below, some interpret the figures on the left as guardians, while others say, no they are hunters lying in wait for the elk on the right.
Nothing is safe from reinterpretation in the medium of the day. At right is a “photoshopped” version of the guardians shown just above, left. Does Photoshop’s canvas texture and other light and color adjustments achieve a more “painterly” effect? Or is it just kitsch in comparison to the conventionally edited picture above?
Well, to get to the point of interpretation versus reinterpretation, how did the aboriginal inhabitants invent the Holy Ghost in his head piece, even before the Judeo-Christian era? We don’t know whether they did or not.
The Horseshoe Canyon’s Holy Ghost group has at least five members with others close by – hard to reconcile with any trinity concept. Yet, the name of the Holy Ghost group was affixed by 19th Century, European/American visitors on their own authority. Whatever else you might have to say about the Holy Ghost group in Horseshoe Canyon, the name abides into the 21st Century.
And I thought that was the whole story.
But no, just last month I saw a 2-hour presentation of Ancient Aliens on Discovery Channel that changes everything (it was broadcast again last night on the History Channel). Near the beginning and near the ending was a picture of this Holy Ghost painting in the Great Gallery, the presentation grouped it with many other phenomena around the world (Pyramids, Stonehenge, Easter Island mo’ai and numerous Maya and aboriginal sites in the Americas). Indeed interviews within the presentation asserted the totality of these phenomena as scientific, factual evidence of the Ancient Aliens who visited earth and then went away into space. We are to await their return, perhaps soon. Some UFO buffs say perhaps they are already…
According to the Ancient Aliens presentation, the Holy Ghost ceremonial headpiece, is not that at all. It is a space helmet and the squared shoulders are features of his spacesuit.
Well, I hate to be taken for such a doofus — that I was there, saw the Holy Ghost at arm’s length (no, I did NOT touch it) and failed to recognize his astronaut gear. I went back to my photo files and I didn’t see any of the things that either the Ancient Aliens broadcast or 19th Century explorers are trying to push on us. What did I see there and in these pictures?
IMHO I saw a very dignified and mysterious grouping, a part of the canyon wall, looking down on me.
I clicked my pictures, and we started the return trip. There was no more ignoring the heat, and the sun, moving directly overhead, left almost no shade in the canyon.
About a third of the way back, we came to the Great Alcove. An enormous cave-like amphitheatre, naturally hollowed out of the stone wall of the canyon. In this shade we ate, napped, and looked at the walls inside the alcove: more ancient paintings, but also graffiti. 19th century tourists carved their names into the ancient rock paintings.
However, since the tags are 19th century artifacts they are also protected property of the United States. You can see one at the bottom left of this photograph of a procession on the Great Alcove wall:
You’d think that hanging out in a cave for three or four hours would be enough for the canyon to cool down.
Not really. Climbing back up 750 feet in the heat of the late afternoon sun in June must be something of an accomplishment.
After I got down to the canyon floor I learned there is an easier entrance from the East rim of the canyon. You need a 4-wheel-drive vehicle to get there.
But get this: I was driving a 4-wheel-drive jeep, and of course it was parked atop the West rim. Gotta climb up the West rim – sun baked and much steeper going up in the afternoon than it was coming down in the cool of the morning.
Only a doofus…
Next time, from the East rim, new camera for new pictures of the Great Gallery.
End of my Holy Aliens Story for that time.“
If you have a lot of time and nothing else to do, then you can compare this republished version of my story with the earlier version on Yelp. Not so much to say “This is how it’s done,” as simply to say this is how I did it before, and now I’m getting ready to go back to Horseshoe Canyon and try it from the East Rim with my new camera.
Oops, I already said that.
Write a blog.
Yes, write a blog, but not just any blog — post something that makes it indisputably clear that you don’t believe in jury duty — and then circulate it on Twitter, Facebook and, of course, LinkedIn.
Get the word out there, let the electronic buzz precede you into the court room.
Then, 80% of getting out of jury duty is just showing up.
And when you do, be sure to
- wear a full beard, here are reviews of beard oil to achieve it,
- flash your college credentials (advanced degrees are extra good disqualifiers) and
- dress for gardening.
The Marin County Superior Court has summoned me for jury duty on January 29th. When I got the notice in the mail I went to my computer and asked Google, Yahoo and Bing how to get out of jury duty. In their respective first pages of results they returned 171 ways. Not bad.
I came up with one more way on my own (when I count beyond 17 I lose track and have to start over – should work). And of course this post is itself the 173rd meta-way.
Meta-post post script: at left is portrait of
Patron Saint of Marin County and 3 for 3:
full beard, published writer, and dressed for gardening.
The Fotopedia start-up hit a pothole. It uses Wikipedia entries as its framework for photographs, mostly from Flickr. Soon after the fotopedia venture launched, its linchpin Wikipedia began devouring its own questionable credibility — well publicised defections of contributors, resulting in a serious decline of support.
But apparently it did not discourage investors, who put another million dollars into Fotopedia. Management simplified its product offering by shifting from a desktop client to web only. Fotopedia went back to the market, contacting photographers to join them.
Last week I found one of their invitations in my spam filter, and fished it out cautiously. It was from “James” and the subject “Take part in a photo encyclopedia.” Instantly I had visions of Wikipedia’s palace revolution and decided I did not want to make Wikipedia’s problems into my problems — even if they were filtered through Fotopedia’s new spiel.
I touched the delete button. But then, I wussed-out — I left the e-mail in electronic limbo — deciding only to think about it some other time.
Like now (it’s been a week). I still don’t want to get into the Wikipedia donneybrook, but the Fotopedia offering includes some widgets I might really want. I have a project in mind (not the same as a project in hand) that I was thinking to use with Flickr and Slideshare photo widgets. These Fotopedia widgets might be better.
What to do? A smart person would probably make an analytical comparison of the two photo widget packages and pick one. I may not be that person. I might pick them both, run them in virtual side-by-side comparison, and then pick one. Maybe.
What if I wuss-out again and can’t settle on one? Then I’ll have two sets of widgets running in the same presentation. Oh, boy.
I’m so confused.
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Google discussions to buy Yelp were leaked before the deal closed. Shocking. Yelp, the web’s best known directory and reviewer of local business was said to be valued at more than $500-million for its access to this elusive advertising market.
The leakers said: the deal is 80% done. Of course that means the deal was 20% undone, or the leakers would like it to be. The NY Times quoted “one person” who said, “the deal…could still come apart…if another suitor comes forward now.” Whether or not that was wishful thinking disguised as a leak, it did indeed come undone.
So, what really happened? Alas, poor Google was used to set the price, and set it high – commonly believed to have been over $500-million. That would be 17 times gross revenues of $30-million. Oh, no, wait: the annual gross revenue evaluation model is only 2 times gross, so the price must be $60-million plus a venture capital premium for strategic value, say $500-million. Anyway, how would you interest the powers at Google for less than a cool half-billion?
So, what’s the strategic thing that Google saw in Yelp and why would it be worth half a billion dollars to them?
Google has already made its own version of Yelp, using Google Maps and Google money. Yelp is just a competitor and hardly worth a premium. What’s inside the Yelp box that’s worth the extra bucks?
How about the Yelp local ad sales force — estimated between 130 and 200 people. Sales force valuation would be $500-million / 200 bodies = $2.5-million per head, many are recent hires. So, no, that’s not it.
Well, then, it must be Yelp’s iron grip on local advertising. Oops, no iron grip, more like clinging by finger nails while hoping for Smart Phones to pull the market and the advertising together. With Google already into smart phones, it’s hard to believe Yelp is worth a half billion dollar premium.
So, something else. What? Oh, wait — I know: all those user reviews — the depth and credibility they give to Yelp — 8-million, combed-out user reviews. Well, if you had to pay for them…. Don’t go there, nobody wants to talk about that. OK, Google can just say, “Yeah, Great! big pile of user reviews — really good stuff” and keep on going.
It’s not at all clear from the leaks and the comments, that anybody is looking under the pile of user reviews. What’s under there?
It’s the Yelp culture. Would Google pay half a billion dollars for a culture that’s very different from theirs? Maybe, especially if they don’t know it’s there. They could always keep the reviews and squelch the culture after they own it.
And that just might be “it.” If you buy it, you squelch the culture and risk all value. But now a price has been put on the value. If you have it, and Yelp does, where to go with it now?
This post first appeared in slightly different form on Technorati.com; the author, Peter Neibert, is both a staff writer for Technorati and a regular contributor to Yelp.
I Don’t Mean to Complain But… (Yes, I Do)
Social Media are really a damn pain. I do one or two blog posts and then I have to spend more time socializing them than I did writing them in the first place.
They say (the cognoscenti) that a reaction against Social Media is coming, that it will lead to a big shake-out and there will be fewer surviving sites for us ink-stained wretches to deal with.
The Economist of London has already picked the S & M winners for us: FaceBook and Twitter. If The Economist is right, then those two big winners win, the others diminish or die, and the smart marketer better have a strong presence with the winners.
The problem is that most of the losers aren’t dead, or obviously dying, quite yet. So, who wants to give-up on Stumbleupon, Digg or Disqus ? LinkedIn – a niche holding survivor? Probably, but who knows. In the mid 1990”s I worked for a dot-com and visited Netscape in Mountain View many times – they sure looked like winners at the time.
For now, the wise Netizen must feed FriendFeed and buzz up to Buzz Up! The only thing you can afford to give-up now is sleep.
Really. S & M isn’t so much fun as it’s cracked up to be.
If you use photos in your blogs, you need Windows Live Writer (combined text editor and photo editor for blogs) — keep reading.
If you use a Mac for blogging, it won’t work for you, stop reading.
What can you say about a text editor? It edits text, sure enough, and it’s free, Oh, boy! But you can say the same about many other text editors.
But Wait! An integrated photo editor that’s free, easy to use and customizes high quality pictures for the blogger’s medium – well, that’s almost enough to make inveterate Microsoft-haters stop hating Microsoft (OK, nothing’s that good).
But Live Writer is so good, you can stop using Photoshop to edit pictures for your blog posts.
Anathema, you say? Well, Ha!
Yes, you can work from jpg’s never touched by Photoshop. The picture editing commands in Live Writer (they appear on the right side when you click on an image in your post) are intuitively obvious. You can
- change how text wraps around a picture
- change margins and borders (in this post I’ve used a 1 pixel line, but there are other borders available with a single click, including the kitschy drop shadow, if that fits your style).
- resize and crop (in this post, I duplicated the main photo below and cropped from it the square image now at the top left – first time through the procedure took me about a minute, second time needed less than 20 seconds, including placement in the post).
- adjust a picture’s brightness and contrast (oops – this really is anathema to Photoshop users, and I could not steel my sensibilities to use it). If you have a really bad picture that you really must publish, then fix it in Photoshop with levels and curves.
- And then it has a bunch of simplified Photoshop like effects e.g. convert color photo to black and white or sepia, sharpen or add gaussian blur, adjust temperature – good stuff like that.
- The photo below is enlarged in
Windows Live Writer
- beyond its original size on my
If you right click on either image, you can see and read their Alt Text, which is readily facilitated by Windows Live Writer. Search engine crawlers read Alt Text; thus, it often affects the post’s SEO ranking and retrieval.
Live Writer seems to work as well with Firefox as with Microsoft Internet Explorer. It is also said to work with many other blogging platforms, Movable Type, Blogger, and the like.
And, yes, it’s free.