Nick Heer on web hosting and user data

These are all concerning avenues for users. Adding advertising tends to mean user privacy is compromised, as ads become increasingly targeted by the day; shutting a company down means all user data gets removed, and it’s up to each user to find a new product or service to fill the hole. Rinse and repeat.

Arguably worse is when the company and all attached user data is acquired. There’s very little control any user has over that decision: they may like the original product, but are uncomfortable with the new owner. These decisions are impossible to foresee: if you signed up for Flickr ten years ago, or Tumblr five years ago, would you be expecting your photos and blog posts to end up in the hands of Verizon today?

Source: Don’t Cry for Yahoo — Pixel Envy

We see the same thing in education. Hopefully, a vendor is successful and things go smoothly. But, corporate (or open source) failures, acquisitions, or changes of terms will all impact what happens to student data.

We need to make sure we own our data, or at the very least have workable backups and/or exports that can be quickly spun up if things go south.

on advanced software camera lenses

This is cool. Hipstamatic released a bunch of new lenses. I got a notification on my phone last night, and grumbled something about camera apps spamming me with ads. Then forgot about it. This morning, I see a post from Nick, referring to the official Hipstamatic blog post on the lens:

The Tinto 1884 lens uses facial recognition to recreate a very shallow depth of field unique for each photograph. This is similar in some ways to what some apps do with tilt-shift or radial blur effects, but Hipstamatic’s effect is more customized for faces. Notice, for instance, that it will leave eyes and mouth unaffected, while blurring out the nose and forehead. If the app can’t detect a face, it just switches into a radial blur.

A software camera with a software lens that does more than just compositing grunge effects layers and vignettes onto the photo. It’s actually manipulating the transformations in (near) realtime, based on code within the software lens. In this case, facial detection is used to direct the application of blur. How awesome is that? Check out the first sample photo I shot with the new Tinto lens:


The possibilities for software-enabled realtime transformation are interesting, too. What about a lens that uses your geolocation to tint a photo (similar to the Breaking Bad “New Mexico is brown and Mexico is yellow” tinting). Or based on who is in the photograph, and their relationship to you. Or based on time of day. Or how many messages are waiting in your inbox. or how fast or far you’ve traveled recently, etc…

Anyway. This is the first software lens I’ve seen that does something more interesting than just pasting a few layers of gunk onto a photo and calling it vintage. You may not like the aesthetic of the end result, but the process is absolutely fascinating.