Tuesday, 14th February 2006
Internet and Blogging by
Posted at 19:57 IST (last updated: Wednesday, 16th July 2008 @ 20:20 IST)
Thursday, 2nd February 2006
Software and Technology by
Are you hosting any graphics that you found on the web in a free image hosting account like photobucket or Flickr for use on your blog or personal website? You'd better think again, because you might just be violating their ToS (Terms of Service).
I have now transferred all the images used in my blog articles from Flickr to my own hosting account, thanks to the timely warning
issued by Creative Hedgehog
. I believe that Flickr only allows you to host photos belonging to you and is not meant for generic website graphics. Fine. I confirmed this with them by e-mail and I immediately took down most of the images I host with Flickr. Now I thought of hosting them on another free image hosting service, photobucket, but I decided to play safe and confirm by e-mail whether I could store images which I don't own the copyright of. In other words, if I write an article on George W. Bush, could I host a picture of him I found somewhere on the web at photobucket for use on my blog? The reply I got was rather cryptic:
If you own the image or have permission from the owner to copy the image, then you can host it here. Otherwise you may be infringing on copyright which is a violation of our Terms of Service.
In other words, if you don't own a picture, you cannot host it at photobucket. But the problem is that, most people tend to use pictures they find on the web for use in their blogs. I can think of situations where "fair use" might come into play, particularly with photos of prominent people like actors, politicians and so on.
From what I have come to understand from my correspondence with photobucket support, suppose I write an article on George W. Bush and want to use a picture of him within the article, I either have to:
- Take a picture of him myself or,
- Write to some major media source which has a copyrighted image of him and get their permission to host and use it.
The first alternative is almost impossible in most situations and the second is a big hassle, particularly because most of these huge website owners might not respond to individual e-mails and secondly it might be hard to ascertain the true copyright holder of many useful images that you find on the web. Therefore complying to the law is next to impossible and so, naturally, most people take the easy way out. All over the web you see thousands of pictures used in websites which just directly link from the original source in question (which amounts to bandwidth stealing) or hosted at photobucket or Flickr or similar image hosting sites (which amounts to a technical breach of copyright). There is a third alternative, by the way, which is to use public domain images, but finding suitable ones for use in context is a more difficult task.
I am yet to understand the full implication of copyright law in such situations. I am entirely willing to attribute the original copyright holder in each instance of such use. However, I have no idea whether such use is (technically) allowed or not under the "fair use" clause. Most of these copyright holders probably couldn't care less either way if you used their images as long as you didn't do so with an intent to steal their work or benefit commercially from them, but unfortunately the image hosting services in question are understandably rather particular about this since they don't want to throw themselves open to any potential litigation since "fair use" is a rather subjective concept which can be contested by Law.
So if you are in the habit of using graphics which don't belong to you and host it on some free image hosting site, then beware, for you run the risk of your account being deleted at any time. To be on the safe side, always credit the original source in question and clarify with your image hosting provider whether such use is permitted or not.
In the meantime, this
seems to be a good read on the subject.
Posted at 17:39 IST (last updated: Thursday, 7th May 2009 @ 21:17 IST)
Tuesday, 31st January 2006
The next set of recommendations are for the category Media players (audio and video
in the top 50 Linux apps
. Here are my top 5 in this category. As always, feel free to make your own recommendations and suggestions.
My favourite video player for Linux. Need I say more?
Another very good general purpose media player for Linux. Can play most audio and video formats and is one of the more popular media plugins in Linux.
This is a good audio player for KDE. I like the way it integrates with KDE (being a KDE user) and its playlist feature.
A software MIDI synthesizer for Linux. Unless you are one of the few lucky people to own a sound card which actually has hardware MIDI support in Linux, you'll need this to play your MIDI music. Must have if you need MIDI playback in Linux (you also need to download some free sound patches to use it though).
X Multimedia System
Surprisingly, many people still prefer this slightly dated audio player for Linux. The wide variety of plugins and skins available for it seem to keep it popular as ever.
So what do you think?
Posted at 09:20 IST (last updated: Friday, 29th May 2009 @ 21:23 IST)
Monday, 30th January 2006
Internet and Blogging by
The next cartoon character in the line - Dharmaprakash.
Collecting "mamool" (donations) from local traders and evicting troublesome tenants from low-rent apartments for a fee.
"Don't cross my path. It's a bad omen for you!"
Posted at 20:15 IST (last updated: Wednesday, 16th July 2008 @ 20:22 IST)
Monday, 30th January 2006
Software and Technology by
recently added a social network feature to the LinuxQuestions.org
forums and I must say that I find it got me thinking about the phenomenon of online communities and social networks in general. I must say that when I first started my online forum journey with LinuxQuestions.org a couple of years ago I had no clue as to what an online community meant. Today, I am still confused and fascinated by it, although in a different way - namely what it takes to build one.
There are plenty of forums, mailing lists and groups out there, but very few of them actually succeed in building healthy, long-lasting and self-sustaining communities. People do join up to seek and share knowledge and interests, but very few of them stick on to become part of a community over the long haul. Take me for instance. I have joined plenty of internet boards since LQ.org, but I guess I hardly post at one or two of them nowadays. It's not as though I forgot their URL or something like that (I have most of them bookmarked) but it's just that I don't participate any longer. One reason is obviously lack of time, but I don't think lack of time can explain it all, especially considering that many people seem to find the time to stay connected with several online communities through their busy lives.
So why join a community and be a part of it? The answers are not easy. Giving and seeking help is only one reason for the existence of internet communities and there are so many non-technical communities that exist for entirely different reasons. But if a successful community administrator could ever universalize the reason why people flock to his particular forum in such large numbers, he could probably become rich by selling the formula. The truth is, ideas differ and reasons differ. In trying to find out one single reason why online communities thrive and survive, people often generalize to the extent of sounding unrealistic.
My own understanding is that a social network is built by like-minded people with similar levels of intelligence and emotional development, but not necessarily similar interests. Confusing? Not really. Having observed so many online communities I don't believe that similar interests or fields of knowledge can create sustainable social networks. Sure, these forums bring together people sharing similar interests, but then you rarely get a successful community built just out of that one factor. More than a common interest, what binds together people are mindsets, emotions and levels of intelligence. For instance, two people who are highly interested in Linux might be entirely different as far as their emotional wavelengths and maturity are concerned and their intelligence levels might conflict as well. Believe me, the online world does not hide such distinctions, although it's relatively harder to detect people's mindsets using their written words. Within a period of time, you do get to subconsciously "sense" people for what they really are and you gradually form your own set by identifying those who match your profile the best. Thus a social network is born. To really build a community, you need several such social networks within which there are enough number of individuals to sustain them. Sure, the common interest factor (namely the community's main focus) might still bring together people, but most of them won't form a social network unless they find enough individuals who identify with their own intelligence level and emotional seeking. I am a great believer in the theory that however much you hide behind a mask, you can never really hide your true self from the world. This goes for real-life interactions as well as interactions on the internet. However knowledgeable you might be, if you cannot find people who match your wavelength of thought and emotions, you will find it hard to live within an online community. Even where the pull of knowledge or shared interests is relatively strong, you still need emotional involvement to participate over a long period of time. Maybe that's why bloggers tend to form very powerful social networks with other people who don't necessarily blog about similar things or share similar fields of knowledge. While the network might be very informal, they tend to be quite strong and long-lasting. In fact, the very informality of such a network might be its biggest asset.
In essence, I think the online world is just a mirror of our society. Maybe not a perfect mirror, but it is just another medium - far more open and limitless perhaps - but a medium nonetheless. Even in a very large online community, you might hardly find four or five people who actually identify with you and build a genuine relationship over time. The medium might be open, but people's minds aren't going to change just because the medium is different. You cannot ever pull together ten people and tell them to be part of your community. They will either become part of a network within or stay out of it. It's hard to reason why. There's no logic or rationality behind it, but only a strange chemistry which cannot be dissected or understood except by social scientists or psychologists. To the layman I guess it makes sense: no friendship ever happened in life just because two individuals wanted to become friends for a reason. Business relationships are different, but they don't last long either. Online communities are no different and online social networks are just a reflection of that fact.
Posted at 10:14 IST (last updated: Wednesday, 16th July 2008 @ 21:04 IST)
Sunday, 29th January 2006
Software and Technology by
The 2005 edition of the LinuxQuestions.org
members' choice awards is here
! It's always interesting to find out what the most popular Linux and Open Source applications and distros are.
Here are some of my votes this year:
- Distribution of the year: Debian
- Web development editor of the year: Quanta
- Text editor of the year: Kate
- Web browser of the year: FireFox
- Office suite of the year: OpenOffice.org
- Desktop Environment of the year: KDE
- Graphics App of the year: GIMP
- Open Source game of the year: Frozen Bubble
Obvious choices, eh? I thought so too.
Anyway, one of the biggest issues I have with the LQ members' choice awards is that the categorization sometimes leaves unrelated apps inside the same poll. Take for instance, Audio Multimedia application of the year
has been included in this category with other miscellaneous audio players as well as authoring tools and miscellaneous media utilities. To me, this definitely makes some of the polls skewed. I will be casting my votes in the other categories after careful consideration.
Posted at 14:47 IST (last updated: Thursday, 7th May 2009 @ 21:17 IST)
In this category for the top 50 Linux apps
, I have a few good recommendations. Feel free to discuss and debate this selection. Here goes:
A very good cross-platform and lightweight word processor and a good option for those who don't prefer OpenOffice.org writer. I don't use it much, but it's definitely good for writing short and simple documents.
A complete TeX distribution for UNIX systems. It's a great package used for typesetting and publishing beautiful documents using LaTeX and teTeX provides most of the basic components of a working LaTeX system.
LyX is a WYSIWYM document processor which uses LaTeX as the back-end to produce great looking documents. If you don't want to type in commands in LaTeX, but want to publish documents using LaTeX, use LyX. It's easy to learn and use.
Scribus is an open source desktop publishing system along the lines of PageMaker. Uses a point and click interface, it's useful for designing documents like brochures, posters and newsletters.
Actually Ghostscript is a Postscript and PDF interpreter. It is a must-have if you intend viewing or publishing PostScript or PDF documents on Linux. It comes under two licenses, AFPL and GPL. Also includes the previewer Ghostview.
More suggestions and nominations are welcome as always and will be considered for the final list in this category.