Oct 032014
 

Thanks everyone for your kind support during my last and latest IT crisis. Much appreciated. It’s fixed now. I tried to thank my web host, InMotion Hosting, for finally figuring it out. Alas, the last message I sent them bounced back to me. From what I could tell, their own server (or spam program) thought their own address was spam. Hmm…

And good luck to those of you still suffering from the update to WordPress 4.0. I know I wasn’t the only one. I wish I knew what my web host did to fix it, but it’s honestly incomprehensible to me. Sigh…

At any rate, I’ve started to collect new materials to make pages for my next sketchbook/plaything. As part of that, I’ve been browsing some favorite online places for high-quality, public domain printable stuff. These are listed under “Free Picture Resources” on my links page, but I thought I’d explain a little.

You'll be busy for a while…

The Biodiversity Heritage Library’s Flickr account will keep you very busy if you like vintage images of nature and the physical world. All of their images are provided under under a Creative Commons license. I find that I usually need to touch them up in Lightroom/Photoshop to make them more to my liking, but you could probably also just download and print if you don’t care as much about such things. If nothing else, it’s a great visual reference resource.

Speaking of downloading, it came to my attention recently that not everyone I know is familiar with how to download images from Flickr (on accounts that allow it). It can vary by browser, but I think with most current and supported browsers, it now works like this:

 Click the arrow symbol on the bottom right:

Click here

This will make a little menu appear…

Click here next

Almost always, choosing “original size” will ensure the highest quality for printing. You can always shrink it down later. Click on that, and the picture will be downloaded to your computer.

Another fun browse is brought to us by a professor of the History of the Book at the University of Amsterdam. This account, found at http://www.flickr.com/bookhistorian is filled with detailed scans of fancy initials, ornaments and fragments from manuscripts.

History of the Book on Flickr

Of course, there are plenty of other Creative Commons resources on Flickr and the wider web. Photos from the US government, for instance, are generally not under copyright. So… looking for a nice NASA space image or something from the Library of Congress? You might want to start here.

And, thanks to Amy, I recently discovered some terrific, high-quality maps (among other things) at The Old Design Shop. It is claimed that all of the images here are in the public domain. These are, in my so-far limited experience, unusually excellent quality and ready to print without any digital fussing. I printed out some maps on plain Strathmore 400 Drawing paper and they look great.

Another site popular around the web is The Graphics Fairy, which leans heavily toward Victorian and Edwardian-style imagery.

What favorite sources for printable public domain imagery have you found?

Sep 192014
 
Confusion Reigns

“Off to go get more medical advice!” 8 July 2001

I just returned from my latest medical excursion to the city. Still no answers. I’m supposed to go back next month. Why? I sometimes wonder. I guess because it beats trying to get any help from the local “specialists.” (Insert mental image of a duck. Quack! Quack!)

By coincidence, just before I left, I discovered this page in a sketchbook from July 2001. How some things never change!

And this photo might be the last you might see from me for a while. It’s not that I don’t want to blog. It’s that the last update of WordPress wrecked my ability to upload pictures to my blog. Judging by the help forums, I’m not alone. It turned out that I actually could still upload tiny photos (hence the low quality of this one that I uploaded a few days ago).

However, on the advice of some of those help forums, I contacted my web host, InMotion Hosting. They attempted to be helpful. And now that their IT folks have had a crack at it, I can’t upload any image to the blog. My reward for trying continues to be a server error. To be continued…

The last thing I wanted was to write another hand-wringing post featuring more IT woes. But there you have it. Wish me luck!

Aug 042014
 

[Update: Restoration of the blog has been underway. Things are not nearly as dire now as originally reported. If it still is missing things when you look at it, please try refreshing the page.]

Some surprises are not very nice.

If you are a regular reader, you might’ve noticed the blog is looking rather strange at the moment, and a bunch of things are missing. Little things, such as all of the styling, fonts, colors, my banner, menus… (!) It just suddenly appeared this way today. Two calls to my domain/web host later, and they claim there’s no evidence it was hacked, although that would be the most sensible answer. They thought they might be able to restore it to its former state… but then couldn’t. After the last tech support call, they say they will make another attempt at opening the database that seems to be at the heart of this, um, hair-pulling moment.

I keep reminding myself that it’s only the styling, menus, banner, etc. I still have posts and photos. It could be worse.

But then my inner depressive cries out, “Don’t you remember how many hours it took to put in all those settings, colors, menus, banner….?!”

Alas. I just thought I’d post an explanation for the weird look and lack of some things on the blog. It will return in something resembling its usual state. Either it will be restored by my host… or I’ll be spending several hours clenching my teeth doing it the slow and frustrating way.

I’m curious — has anything like this ever happened to any of you who use WordPress?

Feb 142013
 


One of my favorite reads at the moment is Photoshop Masking and Compositing by Katrin Eismann et al. Partly, I want to improve my photos of books so they look professional for web and catalogues and that sort of thing. I also want to keep improving my photos and illustrations for use in my books. One of the things I love about Photoshop is that there is always something new to learn about Photoshop. Every time I start feeling a bit cocky, I realize I hardly know anything, really.

As one of those whose early design experiences date to before the computer era, I don’t think I’ll ever lose a vague sense of wonder as I watch my photos and digital art transform on the screen. And then to have the ability to do professional-level typesetting and layout in InDesign that can be printed out right here at home…! It’s just a part of life now, but when I think back to the world of pre-computer graphics and design, it’s like magic or science fiction or something. I know people just 10 years younger who barely remember film in cameras and don’t understand the lingering sense of amazement the computer brings, even now, to a middle-aged codger who finished her BA before the 90s (well, in 1990, to be precise).

I needed a picture of a clock for one of the BAO books I’m frantically trying to finish. I wanted it to look photographic and sort of old. I could have taken a photo of a clock or obtained a stock photo. But then I remembered the 60+ clock faces I’d put together for the Minute book earlier this year. However, they are flat, black and white and definitely not photographic-looking. But perhaps, I thought, with a little digital tinkering…? After a little fiddling, I began with this:Clock-first version

And after some playing around, I wound up with this:

Clock for Poison

I’m sure I could have done it with more authenticity, but for my tiny miniature, it works. Kids, I’m telling you, this is like sci-fi!

Jun 252011
 

http://www.says-it.com/safety/index.php

With grateful thanks to Buechertiger, I discovered that my blog feed was messed up without me knowing it. The new feed was working on my end and sporadically working elsewhere, so I didn’t realize that others were having a problem. It used to work. I’m not sure what happened — possibly it had something to do with the forward that I have set up from the old blog. Whatever it was, I’m grateful to my persistent friend for leading me to dealing with it.

Unfortunately, in spite of trying to do it without dumping everyone, the only way I was able to get everything working right in the end was to start over. ARGH!! My growing list of deeply appreciated followers is now . . . gone. Blogger misery and isolation.

I do realize I’m trying your patience at this point over this @#$%! blog move, but please, I’m hoping you’ll find it in your hearts (and that you’ll find that, on the whole, I’m more entertaining than annoying enough) to resubscribe, even if you just did after the move. This really should be the last time. Thank you very much. And now please excuse me while I go pound my head against the wall.

My answering machine says that I’ve been abducted by aliens again and when the probing is finished, I’ll return the call. Moving this blog has, at times, really felt like. . . never mind.

I’ve been thinking about caution signs. I’m currently working on an edition of flag books that has some inside. Not showing aliens, but surveillance cameras. A peek is coming soon.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a paper crafts story. I have a surveillance camera in my studio, aimed over my worktable. It’s actually just a paper model designed by Kenn Munk that came with the book Papercraft: Design and Art with Paper. But the weird thing is, even though I glued it together and put it there, I found myself, in the first few weeks it was there, frequently looking up at it with a vague sense of unease, as if it were real. I’ve noticed that people quietly eye it when they come in. Interesting.

Jun 012011
 

Chipmunk Fretting

I can’t say it’s quite as bad as moving house, but moving a blog turned out to be an adventure. I’m not sure it’s really all done. And there is, I know, some funky formatting on some of the imported old posts.

But the Chipmunk is here, settling in to her new home. I’m feeling a wave of emotion I hadn’t expected leaving the old space. Comfort and familiarity and end of an era and all that . . .

I hope WordPress will be good to me. I will say, setting this up was not easy. I wouldn’t want to do it again any time soon. I also discovered, after much gnashing of teeth and feeling crazed, that the reason I couldn’t properly import my old posts had nothing to do with me or WordPress or the import plugin. It turned out my old domain host had been a hopelessly bad idea. I got to switch my domain around too. But now I am here.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who put up with my attempt at trying a new comment system over at Blogger, which turned out to be neither very useful nor good. That sort of thing won’t be necessary here.

And thanks to my followers and friends who’ve decided to update their readers and bookmarks to stay with me here. If you haven’t already, please consider it. I had no idea when I started this a couple of years ago how amazing the blog world is. I’d hate to lose any of you (well . . . with one or two exceptions . . . ;-)

So pass the nuts and welcome to my new place. And please don’t forget to update your bookmarks and reader settings!

Mar 192011
 
At Kyoto University about 15 years ago.

Just to let you know… my previous prematurely posted entry has now been uploaded for real. Blogger stuck it below, so it’s tucked down a bit. Sorry for these multiple postings over my mistake! (Although it’s a good excuse to use this old snapshot for filler.)

Dec 112010
 
My last film camera. It’s the one I was using in 1997.

I cannot believe it is 10 days into December. How did that happen?

Somewhat fitting the theme, the other day I was browsing through a book called Photomontage: A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Pictures. It came out in 1997.

“In the future,” it tells us, “people will make their family snapshots with digital cameras. At this time, the best digital cameras are very expensive (in Chapter 10 the illustrations for steps 8 and 9 were done with a $30,000 camera . . . ).”

I was sitting in a coffee shop and nearly choked on my brew. Intellectually, I know I didn’t even have a computer in 1997. But it’s still amazing to contemplate that 13 years ago (ok, almost 14) today’s technology was as futuristic as something out of a sci-fi movie. I can only imagine what features that $30,000 camera had (or rather, didn’t have). I hear there was a Canon then that could boast an awesome 6 MP, but 1.5 was more the average.

Oct 012009
 

I have been trying to update my website for roughly the past five years. I originally was going to hire someone to do it. I knew nothing about making a website. After hiring and firing two “designers,” a friend who was in a web design program at the local junior college offered to do it. This seemed perfect. Until she took my first $100 payment, skipped town and wouldn’t reply to any of my messages. This was a couple of years ago. I still haven’t heard from her.

Then I decided I was going to have to do it myself. There’s been a running joke around our house these past few months. “Do you hear something? Is the house possessed? That wailing and moaning . . . The agonized cries of tormented, damned souls are filtering up from hell! . . . No? Wait . .  . oh, it’s just Ellen working on Dreamweaver.”

At last, the big event happened this week. I hit “put” and it went live. I finally have a website again. I feel like the tortoise that just crossed the finish line. Or a damned soul who just got a pardon.

The site is Zebra Crossing Picture Factory, or zebracrossing.org

Apr 022009
 

No email for a day (thank you, incompetent rural ISP). Domain host shuffle (my other site, the “Picture Factory” link to the right). Deleting the latest version of my old web site that I was still needing for a while off my hard drive, after I lost access to it online. My horoscope probably said to avoid technology this week, but I missed seeing it. Just wanted to poke my head in. I haven’t given up on my poor little new blog.

Now back to cursing at my ISP and my stupidity for not backing things up more often. It really is true. You should back up your files. Often.