Review: – Photo Book

Qoop book
The other day my book arrived! Qoop has a partnership with Flickr, and users can order books and posters and such of their photos. Ordinarily I’m happy to be rid of the clutter of paper copies of photos, but I made an exception with I finished my year in photos project. Having a printed copy of all 365 entries is just too cool!

Unfortunately, cool is not cheap. This volume ran me around $40. Not something I’d do often, but as a splurge it was manageable.

Anyway, on to quality. I went with four photos per 8.5 x 11 page, for a 90something page count, and everything is crisp and viewable. I also had the book perfect bound, instead of stapled, and it looks very durable as a result. My captions for each photo are included as well. I was worried that some might be cut for length, but photo placement and font size is adjusted a bit where necessary to make sure nothing is lost. I’m sure there’s an upper limit to this adjusting, but I didn’t run into it.

My only real complaint is that there isn’t enough customization available. In particular, I would have loved to be able to design a better cover. The set of photos there is chosen at random, and I was allotted two short lines of text. If I liked some photos but not others, I had to generate an entire new random set. It took me an absurd number of tries to get one that I mostly like.

While this is unrelated to Qoop themselves, I was also disappointed with DHL’s shipping time of my book. The package got lost in limbo somewhere, and spent three days bouncing back and forth between Atlanta and Chatanooga. Thankfully the book was packaged very nicely, and suffered no harm.

So in summary: Due to the price, I wouldn’t recommend Qoop for mass production. But for one-off copies like this, I’m quite happy.

Review: Private Wars, by Greg Rucka

Product Image: Private Wars
My rating: 3 out of 5

Just a brief review this time, but I liked Private Wars. Greg Rucka continues the story of British spy Tara Chace, in her second novel. The character originated in the Queen & Country series of graphic novels, so there’s more backstory out there than you might think at first.

Rucka loves his politics, there’s no doubt. This time around Chace gets involved in the affairs of Uzbekistan, particularly the ascension of a new President. I learned a lot about Uzbekistan in the process, but have to question how much is true and what is made up for the novel. If there was an afterword or some kind of notice establishing this, I’d be much happier for some reason.

Worth a read, but if you’re new to Tara Chace I’d recommend starting at the beginning. You’d be a bit lost at the start of this book, and definitely wouldn’t appreciate some of the longer-running character relationships. Plus, the cast is very large. Having a visual connection to them from the comics is a big help.

I do knock a few points off for the abrupt ending. I’d appreciate a bit more of where each character ended up, but if the series continues that may be taken care of elsewhere.

Library 2.0 – My 2.0 Cents

I realized just now that I’ve never chimed in on the Library 2.0 debate.
Here’s some background reading, in case you’re not familiar with the topic.

The whole concept is rather nebulous at best. I’m not sure if there is a concrete, agreed-upon definition yet. But to me, a Library 2.0 mentality means refocusing on patrons/users/customers/whatever you call them. With the possible exception of applying new technologies to a user focus, this really isn’t anything new. But user-focused planning and services are absolutely critical if a library wants to remain viable. Public, academic, private, any kind of library should work this way. And anything that puts a focus in that area, whether it be better web utilities or more ‘traditional’ services can’t be a bad idea.

To some, ‘Library 2.0’ conjures up only images of new computer and web-based services. That’s part of it, to be sure. But only as a means to and end. Opening up your catalog, adding custom RSS feeds for searches and the like serves the user. But evaluate the new services by existing criteria. Does it improve accessibility? Will users actually use it? etc. Don’t get distracted by the shiny new things if they’re not actually worthwhile.

Much has been said by others in the links above and elsewhere, so I’ll leave it at that.

2005: A Year (almost) in Pictures – 1 year later

Today I posted the last entry (taken yesterday) to my year in photos project.

It’s done! I’m both excited and sad. To be honest I’m a bit amazed that I not only stuck with the project, but also remembered to take one every day. Sometimes it came down to literally one minute before midnight, and me madly taking a shot, but it worked. I ordered a book of all 365 photos from Qoop, and can’t wait to see them all in print! I’m also glad to regain my freedom of when to take my camera with me, when to take shots, etc. Towards the end of the project I got very un-creative, and it shows.

Here’s some of my favorites from the year, click them for larger versions and descriptions:














New writing: The Camera Eye

I’ve been waiting to post this until I actually wrote an entry there, but this year I’ll be posting movie reviews to The Camera Eye.

The blog is the brainchild of Evan, who I went to college with. He pretty much got me into writing movie reviews for the campus paper (and later I became entertainment editor), so how could I say no? I’m really looking forward to contributing, even if I don’t see as many movies as I’d like. We have seven contributors at the moment, so there should be a pretty steady stream of new posts.

Here’s my first review, King Kong.


Via TechCrunch, I stumbled across Retrievr yesterday.

Sketch something in the white box, and Retrievr will do its best to find Flickr pictures of what you drew. My results were a bit mixed, as you can see in the screenshot to the left (click for a larger version). With my amazing art skills, I drew a picture-perfect (ha) rendition of a tree. The site did its thing – lo and behold, the first result is a picture of a tree! Unfortunately, nowhere near all of the results are trees. But there are a couple, and some of the rest are sort of vaguely tree-looking. I got similarly apt results when attempting to draw a santa hat.

Obviously, the service has a while to go yet. But I’m excited! I experimented with examples of similar retrieval methods in grad school, but none were as effective as I’ve found Retrievr to be. Sometimes finding images with keywords just doesn’t cut it – this sort of graphical search has a lot of potential.