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“He offered her the world…”

October 14, 2015, 11:50 PM

I’m always surprised to see how some of my photos are used.  I recently got a membership with Pixsy, which skims the Internet for potentially infringing photo usages, and then allows the user to go after infringing users to get them to pay for their usage.  One photo that surprised me as a frequent candidate for infringements was this one from 2003:

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While hunting for a photo…

August 29, 2015, 9:29 PM

Yesterday, I was hunting through my archives to find a photo to show a friend.  My photo archives are arranged by subject and by date.  If I took a bunch of photos in a single day, then all of those photos typically go into a folder marked with the general subject of the photos and the date.  One-off photos usually get dated, marked with their subject, and get put in a folder with all of the one-off shots for the month.  The photo that I was looking for depicted a bus sign after the normal text for that route had changed.  So I knew what it was, and knew what the photo looked like.  I also knew that the photo was a one-off, since I took the photo at Glenmont on the way home from work.  However, I didn’t remember exactly when I took it.  I had an approximate range for when I took it, but didn’t quite know.  So that meant that I needed to hunt.

First of all, I was successful in finding the photo.  Here it is, dated September 24, 2012:

Route Y5, destination MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

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“I feel important, just like a king…”

May 30, 2015, 12:49 PM

So today is my birthday.  I am officially 34 years old.  I rang my birthday in doing one of the things that I always enjoy doing, i.e. driving the bus, and watching out for Virginia drivers (yes, Virginia drivers are, by far, the worst drivers in this area as far as I’m concerned).  Then I took my birthday as a floating holiday, so I don’t have to work my birthday (yaaaaaay!).

But at the beginning of my workday on Friday, my friend Elyse met me at the location on the street where I pick up my first bus, and gave me a birthday card.  Check it out:

  

And of course, I immediately made sport of the grammatical error in the handwritten message.  But no worries – I did it with a smile, so it’s all in good fun.  Then down at the bottom is an Edwards Integrity fire alarm horn/strobe, like they have at work.

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A splash photo that’s open to some interpretation…

November 25, 2014, 1:38 PM

This past Saturday, I got together with my friend Elyse, and we spent the day seeing what we could see, mostly in Rosslyn and Ballston.  While we were in Rosslyn, we checked out the open-air patio on the fourth floor at the Le Méridien hotel (formerly Hotel Palomar) at the Waterview complex.  The patio had decent enough views, but we ended up spending more time taking photos of the fire alarms, and as a result of that, got December’s splash photo:

Two conflicted lovers?

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“I am always so thrilled when people realize how much better a place can look with just a few simple changes!”

October 12, 2014, 12:07 PM

This past week, I finally finished the work that I’d been doing at my house for the past two months.  The way I figured, since there was a period of time while the various processes related to onboarding at the new job were still coming together, I might as well take the time to finish a few things on my to-do list.  It’s funny, however, what inspires a person to decorate.  Back in July or so, my friend Suzie described my house as “a hot mess”.  I thought about that over the next week or so, and came to the conclusion that she was right.  And I admit – it was looking a little bit too “lived in” at the time, with a lot of unfinished business all over the place.  The closets were not being used to their full potential, I had a pile of stuff on the counter between the kitchen and the living room, the table was full of junk, and there were things in visible locations when they should have been in closets.

I started out on August 5, doing what I called the “demolition” phase.  This was where I cleaned out the closets and determined what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to get rid of.  It’s amazing how much junk can fit in a one-bedroom apartment.  I ended up getting rid of a ton of stuff.  I had long-outdated information about the 2008 Democratic National Convention from the Unconventional Action consulta that occurred in January 2008.  I had the banner from the black bloc at the National Equality March from October 2009.  I had an expired bottle of generic Solarcaine from the time when I got sunburned at Splash Down Waterpark in June 2008.  I also had a carton of fabric softener from 2007 that I had never opened, where all the liquid had been absorbed by the carton itself, leaving a blob of whatever solids were in the softener at the bottom.  No, seriously.  Take a look:

Yeah, I believe that the light parts of the carton were supposed to be white...  The blob of fabric softener solids in the bottom of the carton.

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At last, my Washington Monument photo set is done…

February 20, 2014, 12:30 AM

At last, I have finished my Washington Monument photo set.  I started work on this photo set in September, finished up the photography for it in November, and now it’s February and with the scaffolding mostly gone (only a quarter or so of the height is now covered) at the time of this writing, the set finally goes out.  This was quite a project, too.

I spent most of the first day, September 5, out on the Mall, shooting photos of the monument under clear to partly cloudy skies.  I was out there from mid-to-late morning until around 5:00.  I got home around 7 PM, after having walked 6.35 miles around the Mall area.  I got off the train at Metro Center, headed to the Washington Monument, and looped around it once at fairly close range.  Then I did another loop around it from a distance, following the path around the Tidal Basin, going past the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the MLK Memorial, the DC War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, Constitution Gardens, and the World War II Memorial.  Then I headed back up to the Washington Monument, and did another loop up close before heading out.  I went over to the Old Post Office on my way out in order to get a few photos of the Washington Monument from up above, before returning to Metro Center to head home.  After I got home, I don’t think I made it to 7:30.  I was out like a light.  Walking all that distance while taking some 900 photos, I definitely earned my sleep that night, as I was both physically and mentally exhausted.

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No more Creative Commons license?

February 20, 2014, 12:00 AM

As of today, The Schumin Web is no longer offered under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.  The site will now be offered under the traditional “all rights reserved” model, i.e. explicit written permission is required for most downstream usages.  I am doing this for one purpose: to make money.  I went to the Creative Commons model back in November 2005 in order to give my work more exposure through downstream uses, and apparently it’s worked.  I now have a portfolio of over 250 downstream usages, both online and in print.  I now have plenty of exposure.  People know who I am, and know about my work, based on multiple usages from a few high-profile entities.  Therefore, I believe that I have reached the point where I can monetize my photography work and bring in a few extra bucks.  The idea is that if you work for some vague notion of “exposure”, that is all you are ever going to get, and it’s very easy to be taken advantage of that way.  As I field more and more licensing requests from companies, it is clear that there is monetary value in what I produce.

Because of this, there are a few changes in the way that things will operate as far as image licensing goes, as I attempt to reconcile the old Creative Commons license with the new all-rights-reserved model.  First of all, please note: as of today, no new downstream usages of any Schumin Web content are allowed under any form of Creative Commons license.  Please see the new Content Licensing page for information about new downstream usages of Schumin Web content.  All existing downstream content usages that were made using the old Creative Commons license are grandfathered.  Thus, for example, if you used a picture under the Creative Commons license last year, nothing affects that past usage.  However, if you want to use another image today, you need to receive explicit written permission to use that image, even if the image was originally published during the period when the Creative Commons license was in effect.

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Look at what I unearthed…

December 24, 2013, 11:22 PM

So I was digging around in the Internet Archive Wayback Machine tracking down some missing text for Project TXL (the Today’s Special site revamp), and I ended up finding this gem from approximately December 1, 1999:

Schumin Web 404 error from December 1, 1999, viewed at modern resolution

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

At last, I found a format that I can work with…

November 19, 2013, 11:18 AM

You may remember that a few weeks ago, I discussed how I’m constantly evaluating my website properties, and determining what is the best course of action for each individual property.  At that time, I mentioned that while the main website (i.e. what you’re looking at now) and College Life have both taken modern forms, with a content management system (CMS) driving everything, the Today’s Special site and Transit Center still had an older architecture, with no CMS driving everything and making things easy to maintain.  The idea with the Today’s Special site was to convert it to a knowledge base about all things Today’s Special, covering the show more deeply and more extensively than I had ever done before.  Transit Center was still a bit up in the air, with my being a bit undecided on what to do with the site.

Now, I have updates for you.

Let’s get this part over with first: The Schumin Web Transit Center will be closing at the end of the year.  It’s closing because it doesn’t meet my current quality standards, and I believe that the site has run its course.  That’s not to say that I’m not still very much a public transportation nerd, but I no longer feel that the separate website is the best way to express that enthusiasm for transit, as I don’t feel that it puts my best foot forward.  So take a good look at it now, because it won’t be there when the ball drops for 2014.

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Constantly evaluating my website properties…

October 27, 2013, 2:29 PM

You may not realize it, but I am constantly evaluating my various online properties.  After all, technology changes, systems change, interests change, quality standards evolve, plus I’m always coming up with new ideas.  My goal is to always have things looking fresh and exciting.  When sites start to look stale or otherwise dated, it reflects kind of poorly on me.  That’s one reason why the splash photo changes monthly, and the photo feature changes weekly.  It’s all about keeping things fresh.  You know that if you’re going to Schumin Web, there’s a good possibility that it’s going to look different the next time that you see it.

Of course, things don’t always look as fresh and new as I’d like.  Sometimes things do become stale.  Schumin Web carried the same design, more or less, for nearly eight years before getting a full redesign in September 2012.  What looked fresh and exciting in October 2004 looked dated by 2012, and many things were shoehorned into that design over the years, with some being integrated more successfully than others.  Even the current “Modern Blue” design got a refresh, updating holdovers from the earlier design, and making a more consistent appearance.

But now, I’m looking at my subsidiary sites, i.e. what you find in the “Major Areas” section.  I’ve always had subsidiary sites, going back to shortly after the website began in 1996, when I spun out a links page into its own website.  Such subsidiary sites have come and gone over the years.  The spun-out links page is long gone.  A jokes site came and went, spun out from a page on the main website before being closed down.  I had a game show fansite, which was a completely new creation and not a spinoff from Schumin Web, and then was later handed off to another webmaster (who has since closed it down).  I had a site about ocean liners for a while, before handing that off to another webmaster (who has since closed it).  Then of course, my old discussion forum site, The Schumin Web Community, is alive and well as The Fire Panel.

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

If you can’t follow a license as easy as mine…

October 9, 2013, 3:21 PM

I am of the view that information deserves to be free, which is one of the reasons that I make my work available under a Creative Commons license.  For those not familiar, I provide my content under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license.  In a nutshell, that means that you are welcome to use materials found here for any purpose, including commercially, as long as you provide proper attribution, and share it under the same or similar license as you found it (it’s only fair, after all).  I even wrote a guide on reuse of content found here.  When I converted the site to WordPress, one of the changes that I made was to make the images available for download at full resolution.  That was done specifically to help downstream users get what they need and get creating without assistance from me.  That same conversion, with the image restoraton and such that went along with it, also finally allowed me to provide clean images right out of the box.  Recall that at one point, I put my logo and URL in the corner of the large-size images for photo sets.  Then I stopped doing that in 2005 or so, right around when I introduced the Creative Commons license to the site.  The conversion and image restoration work removed all of the remaining tagged images, making every photo “clean” without any extraneous markings.

I like to think that I’m one of the more permissive and lenient content owners out there.  Unlike many other entities that do not allow downstream use without explicit permission, I do allow downstream use right out of the box, as long as two things are present: attribution (preferably as “Ben Schumin/The Schumin Web”), and a free license.  That’s not that hard to do, and by and large, most people who reuse content found here follow the license.  But it really frosts my cookies when people don’t follow that, and because my license is so easy to meet, I take a very dim view toward noncompliance.

It always amazes me how many people think that because something is on the public Internet, that it’s public domain and can be used with wild abandon.  It’s quite common.  I’ve even had to disabuse my own mother of this notion before.  Rather, just like any other medium, just because it exists does not mean that you have carte blanche to do whatever you want with it.  Most material on the Internet is not, in fact, public domain, and therefore potential downstream users have to play by the content owner’s rules (or you don’t play).  Those rules are up to the content owner.

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Two near-identical photo features…

September 2, 2013, 11:54 PM

A very upbeat goodbye…

July 22, 2013, 11:28 PM

You may have gotten a hint from the notes in the July 14 photo feature, but this past Friday, July 19, was my last day working at Food & Water Watch.

On my last day, we were having an ice cream social in my honor.  I wanted to make it a celebration of me rather than an emotional goodbye, so I made a slideshow of photos to go through and talk about with the folks gathered.  Many had never seen these photos before, and I was sure that the photos would garner some laughs and rekindle fond memories.

On the evening before my last day, though, I was a bit nervous.  I was somewhat uptight about how my emotional state would be when I finally said goodbye.  I didn’t want to cry on my last day, but I was really afraid that I might.  I even went to far as to post this Facebook status at 1:44 in the morning:

Thinking about my last day at Food & Water Watch on Friday. Wondering how the mood will be when I finally say goodbye, and thinking about it in terms of the ending theme for an episode of Today’s Special. I think it could go one of three ways:

1) A very upbeat end to the day. That would warrant the regular ending theme.

2) A more emotional ending that might have me in tears at the end of it. That kind of end would call for the flute theme that was used in “Butterflies”, “Babies”, “Wishes”, and “Phil’s Visit”.

3) Considering that I have a slideshow with old photos planned, it might be a celebration of days past with mixed emotions of laughter and sadness. For that, I would lean towards the ending theme used in “Memories”, the series’ last episode, which was a continuation of that episode’s final song.

We’ll see how it plays out on Friday, but I’m rooting for the day to warrant the regular ending theme.

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Big anniversaries this weekend…

June 29, 2013, 4:36 PM

So this weekend marks a couple of big anniversaries.  First, tonight marks the anniversary of the big derecho that came through the DC area.  That was a rather interesting time.  I remember that Montgomery County looked like something had hit it, with power out and tree branches down all over the place.  Lots of traffic lights were out as well, which snarled all of the traffic as people had to actually be courteous on the highway.

But as far as I was concerned, that derecho couldn’t have come at a worse time.  See, the next night was the night that I had announced a major upgrade to Schumin Web.  That was the night that the final cutover to WordPress would occur.  That work was the completion of a project that I had codenamed “Falcon” (after a JMU student web server) that converted the entirety of the site to run on the WordPress platform.  Prior to that, the site was a mishmash of different systems put together to make one website.  Some of the site was static HTML.  Some of it ran on a MySQL database.  Some of it ran on a different MySQL database.  Some of it ran on yet another different MySQL database.  And there were some dependencies between the main site and my other sites (in “Major Areas“), where material was shared between them, including one shared database between College Life and the main site (historical note: College Life was part of the main site until October 2004 – thus the shared database).  Thus with the final conversion, that changed some things.  First, it rolled out a single, unified system for the main site, as I could now edit the entire site from a single place.  And second, it broke all of those dependencies with the old site.  On that latter point, I had to do quite a bit of prep work, since the goal was to cleanly “divorce” the main site from the others, while not breaking anything on either side.

Not breaking things was key there.  And I was more worried about the side that wasn’t the main site.  I wasn’t worried about Schumin Web proper.  Everything was being reworked and moved around over there, and so things were not going to be broken because everything was being placed new again, and checked over multiple times.  But the other sites were being left as they were, and needed to be fixed.  Whether they would be converted to WordPress or another CMS would be a different discussion based on each site’s needs.  But I had to make sure that the shared databases were separated.  I had to make sure that any images were brought in-house for the specific site (i.e. no more cross-hosting).  I basically had to make sure that each site was completely independent of the other, which I should have done from the get-go, but for whatever reason, didn’t do back then.  But I managed to get it all working.

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Categories: Schumin Web meta, Weather

So I’m at work modernizing websites again…

December 11, 2012, 1:07 AM

So I’m at it again, working to modernize a Schumin Web property.  You may recall (and it’s pretty hard to miss) that Schumin Web proper was converted to WordPress over the course of a year in 2011-2012.  Then College Life was converted to WordPress last month in a process that took about a week and a half to do.  That leaves the Today’s Special site and Transit Center left to be upgraded.

The current project is to convert the Today’s Special site to a content platform of some sort.  However, unlike Schumin Web proper and College Life, this one isn’t going to be where the site is ported to a content platform but looks the same to the user in the end as it did before.  This is going to be a big project for different reasons.  I am finally going to take the Today’s Special site and bring it into the 21st century.  Here’s a little secret for you: I have been unhappy with that site’s design and structure for a little over five years now.  The site last received a major redesign/overhaul in 2005 (while I was out of commission due to some minor surgery), and that mainly improved the writing and the layout, while keeping the general structure the same.  When I converted the site to PHP with the move to Dreamhost in 2007, I had wanted to do a big overhaul on it, but ultimately ended up converting it more or less the same as it was before, owing to time constraints and also my own capabilities at that time.

Now, my long-dreamed-of overhaul is coming.  I have the time, and I now have the technical knowledge and the maturity to bring my vision to reality.  The Today’s Special site is going to become a wiki.  It’s going to move away from fansite and more towards being a knowledge base – the source for all things Today’s Special.  Using Homestar Runner Wiki and Muppet Wiki as inspiration, my plan is to greatly expand the depth and breadth of coverage of the Today’s Special site, and be as extensive as I can get it.  And with the wiki format, this can and should be a collaborative effort.  I want other fans to join in.  I hope that Today’s Special alumni will contribute.  I hope that TVOntario joins in, too.  I think everyone with an interest in the show has something to contribute, even if it’s just correcting a typo, or removing a stray comma.

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