Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas lights / Lumix LX-7

Here in New York, some people just seem to lose it at Christmas time. This block in Corona Queens is typical of this over the top Christmas lights decorations.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Time to think of food

My version of bruschetta

Sicilian tomatoes and onions salad

Pasta alla Norma

Pasta riminata
So to celebrate the end of the world that wasn't,  my thought once again turn to good but simple Sicilian food. I am not a foodie just someone who likes to cook and eat good traditional food.
Please do not worry, this  is not becoming a food blog.  BTW, I cooked and photographed these dishes. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A late summer afternoon

Again with the summer. It's just that the thought of the winter solstice makes me cold all over.
BTW, if you can see this post on 12-12-12, we dodged the Mayan bullet.
As you may know by now, my two favorite places in New York City have to do with Brooklyn. One is the Brooklyn Bridge and the other is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. These photos  were all taken in late summer of 2011 with the Canon 5-D and the Canon 16-35 F 2.8 L.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Winter is almost here in the northern hemisphere as we hopefully reach and survive the winter solstice. These photos show a precocious snow fall. There will be more snow, I'm sure.

They couldn't stand the heat

Instagram responds to clamor around TOS changes

Instagram stirred up concerns amongst its users after updating its terms of service yesterday.
Instagram says isn't going to sell your images and is now recalling the phrasing it released yesterday which seemed to say just that.
Instagram has updated its blog with a post from co-founder Kevin Systrom that attempts to soothe concerns that the social photo-sharing service was about to start selling users' images.
Systrom writes:
"Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear."
The reworded terms of service language that caused the uproar specifically stated: "To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you."
But Instagram's latest response seems to compare its intentions to an advertising model akin to Facebook, which just officially completed its aquisition of Instagram three months ago. Systrom explained that a potential scenario:
"Let’s say a business wanted to promote their account to gain more followers and Instagram was able to feature them in some way. In order to help make a more relevant and useful promotion, it would be helpful to see which of the people you follow also follow this business. In this way, some of the data you produce — like the actions you take (eg, following the account) and your profile photo — might show up if you are following this business."
Instagram's new policies are set to go into effect 30 days from now, and Systrom claims the service will spend that time rephrasing them. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thoughts of summer

North eastern Pennsylvania
Lafayette, New Jersey

North eastern Pennsylvania
With all the depressing news these days, when it appears that the world is going mad, it's pleasant to escape mentally to happy summer days. These photos were all taken with the Olympus EL-300 back in the summer of 2004. The greens alone are very relaxing.

BEWARE, nothing is free

Instagram says it now has the right to sell your photos

In its first big policy shift since Facebook bought the photo-sharing site, Instagram claims the right to sell users' photos without payment or notification. Oh, and there's no way to opt out.
Instagram said today that it has the perpetual right to sell users' photographs without payment or notification, a dramatic policy shift that quickly sparked a public outcry.
The new intellectual property policy, which takes effect on January 16, comes three months after Facebook completed its acquisition of the popular photo-sharing site. Unless Instagram users delete their accounts before the January deadline, they cannot opt out.
Under the new policy, Facebook claims the perpetual right to license all public Instagram photos to companies or any other organization, including for advertising purposes, which would effectively transform the Web site into the world's largest stock photo agency. One irked Twitter user quipped that "Instagram is now the new iStockPhoto, except they won't have to pay you anything to use your images."
"It's asking people to agree to unspecified future commercial use of their photos," says Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "That makes it challenging for someone to give informed consent to that deal."
That means that a hotel in Hawaii, for instance, could write a check to Facebook to license photos taken at its resort and use them on its Web site, in TV ads, in glossy brochures, and so on -- without paying any money to the Instagram user who took the photo. The language would include not only photos of picturesque sunsets on Waikiki, but also images of young children frolicking on the beach, a result that parents might not expect, and which could trigger state privacy laws.
Facebook did not respond to repeated queries from CNET this afternoon. We'll update the article if we receive a response.
Another policy pitfall: If Instagram users continue to upload photos after January 16, 2013, and subsequently delete their account after the deadline, they may have granted Facebook an irrevocable right to sell those images in perpetuity. There's no obvious language that says deleting an account terminates Facebook's rights, EFF's Opsahl said.
Facebook's new rights to sell Instagram users' photos come from two additions to its terms of use policy. One section deletes the current phrase "limited license" and, by inserting the words "transferable" and "sub-licensable," allows Facebook to license users' photos to any other organization.
A second section allows Facebook to charge money. It says that "a business or other entity may pay us to display your... photos... in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you." That language does not exist in the current terms of use.
Google's policy, by contrast, is far narrower and does not permit the company to sell photographs uploaded through Picasa or Google+. Its policy generally tracks the soon-to-be-replaced Instagram policy by saying: "The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our services." Yahoo's policies service for Flickr are similar, saying the company can use the images "solely for the purpose for which such content was submitted or made available."
Reginald Braithwaite, an author and software developer, posted a tongue-in-cheek "translation" of the new Instagram policy today: "You are not our customers, you are the cattle we drive to market and auction off to the highest bidder. Enjoy your feed and keep producing the milk."
One Instagram user dubbed the policy change "Instagram's suicide note." The photography site summarized the situation by saying: "The service itself is still a fun one, but that's a lot of red marks that have shown up over the past couple weeks. Many shooters -- even the casual ones -- probably aren't that excited to have a giant corporation out there selling their photos without being paid or even notified about it."
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom speaks at the LeWeb conference in Paris. Click for larger image.
(Credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET)
Another unusual addition to Instagram's new policy appears to immunize it from liability, such as class action lawsuits, if it makes supposedly private photos public. The language stresses, twice in the same paragraph, that "we will not be liable for any use or disclosure of content" and "Instagram will not be liable for any use or disclosure of any content you provide."
Yet another addition says "you acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such." That appears to conflict with the Federal Trade Commission's guidelines that say advertisements should be listed as advertisements.
Such sweeping intellectual property language has been invoked before: In 1999, Yahoo claimed all rights to Geocities using language strikingly similar to Facebook's wording today, including the "non-exclusive and fully sublicensable right" to do what it wanted with its users' text and photos. But in the face of widespread protest -- and competitors advertising that their own products were free from such Draconian terms -- Yahoo backed down about a week later.
It's true, of course, that Facebook may not intend to monetize the photos taken by Instagram users, and that lawyers often draft overly broad language to permit future business opportunities that may never arise. But on the other hand, there's no obvious language that would prohibit Facebook from taking those steps, and the company's silence in the face of questions today hasn't helped.
EFF's Opsahl says the new policy runs afoul of his group's voluntary best practices for social networks. He added: "Hopefully at some point we'll get greater clarity from Facebook and Instagram."

Monday, December 17, 2012

I love this city

The Highline that starts at the meat packing district on the West Side and goes all the way up to 34th Street, is a most pleasant surprise. It is a must visit.  Built by a  NYC government and private sector union, it is a splendid use of old elevated train tracks that were no longer used. Instead of continuing to be an eye sore, these tracks have become a beautiful space that enhances this great city.

These photos were all shot with the Olympus E PL-2 and the M. Zuiko Digital 9-18mm lens.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Buon appetito

I hope that your week is a delicious one. Last spring, while visiting Scopello, just outside of Castellammare along the western part of the gulf, we came upon this restaurant that had just opened for lunch.  After trying the freshly made caponata, we settled for these wonderful dishes: couscous with fish, misto fritto and spaghetti  with clam sauce"verace." A really memorable lunch.
BTW, you have not tasted shrimp, baby clams or calamari unless you eat them in Sicily.