How to Change Your Domain While Keeping Your Search Engine Ranking

I found this very interesting article on how to add bits and bobs to your .htaccess file, which then redirects one domain to another.

The great thing about this is that – as the title suggests – you can keep you search engine rankings. The downside is that doing it this way requires hosting – which often you don’t have on domains.

Another way to deal with the problem is to simply forward the domain (speak to your hosting provider about this), however you’ll lose your search engine ranking.

I hear though that Google is rather up-to-speed with changing links. I’m saying this becuse I want to free up one of my domains (www.wordpress-guru.co.uk) and import all articles into this site – so the content stays the same, but all URLs will change. Let’s see how Google can cope with that.

Here’s the .htaccess article– enjoy!

http://www.searchenginejournal.com/how-to-change-your-domain-while-keeping-your-search-engine-ranking/11072/

How to contact Yahoo Customer Services

I love Yahoo! I’ve been with them since 2000, and their free web-based email is one of a kind.

In fact I’ve been so excited that I pay them $25 a year for Mail Plus, with better Spam protection and the fact I don’t get bamboozled by freaking adverts anymore. A good price to pay I think.

However, contacting Yahoo! isn’t as easy as you might think – as I found out the hard way.

Here’s what happened:

In a moment of weakness I discovered their Small Business Package for another $35 a year, which in principal sounded great, so I decided to buy it – only to find out that I didn’t need it – and in fact never used it.

My idea was to send mails that “appear to come from” another email address using the excellent Yahoo! webmail interface, a feature that Mail Plus already has built-in. I only found that out after I had hit the ORDER button. So I grumbled the loss of my money, cancelled the service, and a year goes by.

That time has come, and I’ve just realised that I’ve been billed AGAIN by Yahoo! Again for another year, and again I won’t need that service. The money would be much better spent on a Flickr Pro account, so what would be easier than to get in touch with Yahoo! and ask them for a refund.

Trying that turns out to be impossible though. You CAN’T contact Yahoo – all you can do is browse the gigantic help section featuring ready-made questions. No good for what I’m trying to accomplish.

However, for Small Business Cusomters they DO offer email and phone help – so I thought, since I’ve BEEN a Small Business Customer for the last year and a bit, I’d be eligible.

WRONG!

Want to know why? Because as of 30 seconds ago, I am NO LONGER a Small Business customer, having cancelled my account for good measure. Not only have I thrown money away once, I’ve done it TWICE now…

I’ve spent the last hour being chased around in circles on the Yahoo! site, only to find out that their refund policy is “YOU WON’T EVER GET ANY REFUNDS FROM US – EVER”.

Seems almost pointless to speak to someone at Yahoo (even if I could).

Lesson learnt:

How Yahoo! is making money… by ripping punks like me off, that’s what we’ve learnt!

Yahoo! is not as good as it seems after all… what a shame. Will I ever get a refund, or a “service-swap”? Unlikely.

Will I be billed AGAIN next year? The way things are going, probably.

How to upgrade PHP on CentOS 5

I’ve learnt a lot since this article went up – including how to do this properly. This article is left here for historic purposes. Read how to upgrade PHP on CentOS 5 on my other site The WordPress Guru

Original Article:

An account of events – not dramatized

yesterday, 09:12

Idea:

The need for amazing shopping cart software arises. Decided to install CRE Loaded on my website. Tried it a year ago, didn’t work. Better luck this time.

11:23

Installed the package, but found that minimum requirement is PHP 5.2.x – I have an older version. Hm. Must upgrade. What a challenge.

11:37

Huge Google search for “how to upgrade PHP on CentOS 5” brings up 90 million articles, all about something different than my question. Currently don’t’ even know what the hell a SSH connection is or what it stands for

12:08

Through sheer luck stumbled onto option to access my server via SSH. Feel very confident now that I can execute command line things and poke around professionally

12:27

Found that upgrading PHP is only possible using something funky called YUM. Must install that first.

13:01

Another Google search begins – WTF is YUM and why do I need it?

13:44

Stopped asking questions. Determined to get this going.

the next day, 17:55

Excited to have found this list – a detailed account of how to do it. Of course, the 10000 characters cannot be copied and pasted – just to drive us all completely nuts

18:37

Tried it. Doesn’t work. Pissed off with all things internet now. Giving up in search for another solution.

CONCLUSION:

pHP on CentOS can’t be upgraded by human beings. And if it can, I never met one of them. Just like Lottery winners. Time to find a different hobby, maybe connected to the outdoors. Hacking wood or drive-by shooting pigeons maybe.

How to shoot at 30.000 ISO and still see pictures

The other day I spoke to the biggest source of knowledge himself, Mr. Paul Weston. We were chatting away about all things darkrooms and photography, when he told me a fascinating tip I can’t wait to try out: develop a film to become incredibly sensitive to light.

Films like Delta 3200 or HP5 allow you to shoot at whichever speed you see fit (within a range of 400 to 3200 ISO that is), by compensating developing times. It’s not recommended with every film of course, but maybe we should disregard this statement on the manufacturer’s packet.

Paul used to shoot sports for newspapers back in the days, when the most sensitive film was the Ilford FP4 at 100 ISO – a very fine grain black and white negative film. I remember that when I started shooting 25 years ago, the HP5 was already well established. I’ve never even considered life without it.

You can imagine that 100 ISO on a cloudy day isn’t exactly the sports photographer’s choice when it comes to capturing fast movement, when all you have is your camera telling you “use your widest aperture with about 1/4th of a second”. Forget it!

So Paul and his colleagues shot at much faster shutter speeds to capture the motion properly, disregarding the film’s speed. When they came back to develop their film, they’ve used a technique to exploit the reciprocity failure of the film.

Here’s how they did it:

Using regular one-shot developer, Paul would agitate the film for as long as it says on the packet, as if it were a 100 ISO film. Once that’s over (say after 4 minutes), he’d stop agitating the tank, pop in on a shelf and go to the pub for several hours.

Upon his return, the developer would have completely exhausted itself – gradually darkening the film like we know from traditional push processing (with added ker-pow factor). Ending the process with stop and fixing baths, the film would come out a very grainy – but at least yielding pictures usable for newspapers.

“The important thing is not to agitate the tank while you’re overdeveloping, otherwise you end up with a completely black roll of film”, says Paul. Thank you for the tip!

I can’t wait to try this out, but am not sure if I should use FP4 or HP5 (the latter might be too sensitive and could easily come out black after half an hour). I’ll try this out with an old bottle of Ilford HC10 concentrate, made up as 1+31 – a close enough dilution to one-shot developer.

I’ll keep you posted – when I’ve got results, they’ll be here on the site.

Concept: Cigarette Machines

Style:

Social Documentary with community input.

Topic:

Outdoor Cigarette Machines in Germany, possibly other European countries

Synopsis:

Although smokers are just as much frowned upon in Germany as they are here, one thing remains commonplace ever since the seventies, almost on every street corner:

Cigarette Machines

Even the tiniest little cul-de-sac back alley in Germany has one, and most of the time they look like you shouldn’t put any money into them. Surprisingly, they work better than coke and chocolate machines.

The community turns them into artwork (i.e. graffiti over them, or stick posters on them). Both my parents were fairly heavy smokers, and sometimes I volunteered to walk down the road and get “the good stuff” for them. You could argue I grew up a drug runner!

I’m sure many other European countries have cigarette machines, so why not take a camera and document them all.

It’ll be impossible to catalogue them, and it’ll be impossible to do this all by myself, but I can see an interesting project here. Walk around through major cities and find them all. Get the community involved. Offer free cigarettes as prizes maybe.

Hell, even contact the boys who fill’em up and ask them for a list of their vending outlets.

One thing I’m not interested in is Indoor Cigarette Machines. They’re well maintained, probably filled by a different company – I’m after the battered old yellow-ish hunk of metal that stands the test of time.

We need to move quickly though: I’m sure smokers are a dying breed, so is the cigarette industry. Let’s get them all on film before they vanish.

This is a social documentary, and I’m interested in how different countries handle “dubious substances”. The open sale of cigarettes for example, does this lead to more smokers than over here, where coffin nails are more expensive and sold only to over 18s? Is there a link to the lack of pub closing time, absent in Germany, yet they don’t have the same getting drunk quickly attitude as we have over here?

Let’s explore.

Concept: Fashion Victims

Style

Portraits / Street Photography

Number of Images

loads – this could become an ongoing project with communty input

Synopsis

We went down to Camden Market this weekend, and although I’ve been there every day this week for lunch, I’ve never taken the time to explore the stables until yesterday.

So much wacky and off-the-wall fashion is being sold around there. It’s presented usually by sticking random items onto some poor old battered mannequin. They look hilarious, like Fashion Victims.

I want to use the Fisheye 2 and Holga with off-camera flash to take pictures of them. I want them to become Fashion Models, and treat them as such.

These creepy plastic puppets could be the stars of their own lifeless colourful series. It’ll be like a comic book, where you get to love the character, although s/he doesn’t exist.

I’d like to go on and have “high-end” models participate, like the ones in the window at H&M and in fact everywhere around town. We’re drowning in fashion outlets here in London, let’s utilise them all. I want the lomo look on all of them, blurry, highly saturated, whacky. No make-up assistant required, just plenty of real film.

How to do it?

Hm. Tricky. I’ll work on that.

Camden Market won’t allow photography in certain places, and fashion stores present their mannequins behind glass. Ideally we want a two-flash setup. Maybe I can get into a store at night and twiddle around.

Any fashion store owners want to participate?

New Category: Random Concepts

There’s an old saying that goes “write down your ideas – otherwise you’ll forget them”.

Very true, especially a few months or years down the line, just when you’ve run out of ideas, and you’ve got time on your hands without a clue how to seize it wisely. This can often lead to depression and the well known black hole with no light at the end of it. Not good.

Therefore, here’s a list of Concepts that keep popping into my head, and not knowing if I’ll ever get to make them all, here’s to a new category called CONCEPTS.

Please note these are rough sketches, and they can change at any time.

If at any time you feel you want to collaborate on any of these, please let me know – I think community input is very important this century.

Thank you ;-)

First Shots from my Holga with Aperture Mod

This is exciting: I’ve just scanned two rolls of film shot with my modded Holga 120SF!

As I said yesterday, I always wanted a larger switchable aperture on Holga. Even in the slightest bit of shade, Holga pictures are too dark (that’s 299 days of the year in the UK).

I’ve now got a working switch in my plastic friend that will have me choose between f11 and f5.6 (or thereabout).

mod-holga-camden-11-of-22.jpgWithout further ado, let’s have a look at some of the pictures I’ve taken this week.

It was probably the last sunny day in London for a while, a sunny morning in Camden, and I had stocked up on some fresh Velvia.

I also had a roll of expired Fuji RMS with me, which unfortunately I developed in the same tank as the Velvia…

I’ve learnt the hard way they don’t mix – and Velvia won the battle for attention somewhere around the First Developer. I’m saying this because half the shots in this gallery looks a bit weirder than the other.
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Here’s a good example of how the same shot looks with and without the mod.

mod-holga-camden-13-of-22.jpg
orignal aperture (about f11)
mod-holga-camden-14-of-22.jpg
and with modded aperture (about f4)

What we can see clearly is that the exposure seems to work OK, but we lose a hellufalot of focus!

Focusing is a gamble with Holga anyway, I mean how do I know that some thing’s “seven people” away or only “three people”? My aperture is now fully open, letting in everything the plastic lens has to offer – but maybe that’s a bit much. A tad more focus would be welcome, even if we trade off a stop of light.

What I love about this

[singlepic id=365 w=300  float=left]The “instant artwork” effect. Every picture you take, no matter what you point the camera at, becomes something weird and abstract. Much more so than the original Holga aperture would do I find.

Plus, you can do this in lower light situations, which inevitabley will happen upon us all (until of course, we permanently move to Miami Beach).

It reminds me of what Lomography boast about their beloved Diana: “A blurry-soft and dreamy-toned Diana image is more an interpretation of reality than a correct representation of it”. Now we get the same with Holga, at a fraction of the cost (and without all the marketing hype).

What have I actually modded?

I’ve removed the metal ring (i.e. the original aperture) and glued it onto the aperture arm. That way, I can switch to “Original Holga Mode” by choosing sunny, and go to “Modded Aperture Mode” by choosing cloudy.

The resulting bigger hole behind the lens would probably have been f8, possibly f5.6 (who knows really), but I saw some more plastic on the side that I’ve drilled away – making mine probably an f4. That way, all the light from the plastic lens goes in and takes the picture.

Next week, I’ll mod another Holga – this time without drilling to see if that gives us more focus.

Stay tuned folks, enjoy the rest of the gallery – and Happy Shooting ;-)

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I’ve modded my first ever Holga 120SF

cimg3109.jpgBig news:

You remember the first ever Holga camera I’ve bought? The 120SF (plastic lens, no tripod mount, no bulb switch, no colour flash)?

Well guess what: I’ve taken a screwdriver, some superglue, a drill bit and increased the aperture by two or three stops using this very detailed article by Mark Hahn.

By default, all Holgas only have one aperture – despite the switch. The switch only puts an arm with a hole in front of the “default” aperture of around f10 (give or take half a stop). I guess the plan at Tokina (makers of Holga) was to put a different aperture bit onto the arm. Ever since Holga went into production, they er… “forgot”.

Never mind, we can do this ourselves with only 30mins of work and get a lifetime of enjoyment out of it. f10 isn’t huge, and I always wanted something bigger like f5.6 or even f4. It won’t be enough for indoor shots without flash, but it WILL be enough for outdoor shots even when the sun is hiding.

So far, I’ve only modified one camera to see if it works, and I’ve just developed two rolls of fresh Velvia. The film is still wet as I type, but I have to say it looks rather great to the naked eye. Scans coming soon!

Next week, my plan is to make a video of how to modify them – so stay tuned for another Pinkstone Pictures production.

Panorama Shoot-Out, Part 7: Fisheye Holga

Wcimg3108.jpghen the colour-splash Holga came out, I knew I had to have one! It had a tripod mount and a bulb setting too – nowadays the standard for Holgas – but it wasn’t pre 2006. This one also has a glass lens, and a dedicated 6×6 gate.

Lomography were selling it for a lot more than eBay seller “uranium-99″. Although I usually stay away from items shipped in from Hong Kong, I gave it a go – and was extremely happy with his service. I ordered many other Holga related items from him since then.

To make my shots more interesting, I ordered Lomography’s Fisheye adaptor. Having used their 35mm Fisheye 2 camera for many years, loving the close-up look and warped images, I imagined amazing results with added Holgalicity. How right I was!

Since it’s not that easy to mount the adaptor (you have to screw two bolts into the focussing ring), it has since then become my permanent Fisheye Holga, delivering excellence in weirdo-imagery whenever it tickels me.

For panoramas, I suppose you have to get “up-close and personal” with your subjects to really make an image standout. I imagine them to be just a series of circle-ish images stuck together, and I didn’t have high hopes for this camera to become a sterling panorama candidate. Nevertheless, I gave it a go.

It didn’t help that the day I popped a few rolls of expired Kodak EPP into my heavy-lensed friend, it was very overcast. Not good Holga weather. But, the local fun fair was in town, and I thought what the hell.

This Holga gave me some excellent results in the bright sunny conditions of Las Vegas in 2007 – I love it dearly, and the Fisheye adaptor is now its permanent lens. I’m not going to give it bad remarks for dark pictures. I have to admit that I’ve not used it as close up as I normally would have. What I do see though is that the subjects 20 yards away won’t come out the way I want them to – i.e. up close and personal. Probably to be expected with a super wide lens.

I love the circular images it produces, but stuck together to make up a larger picture, I can’t quite see this as a good panorama contestant. Sorry, Fisheye Holga – you’re out of the Panorama Contest!

Tell you what: if there’s room in the suitcase, you can come with me ;-) I always need a whacky Fisheye friend, especially when the weather is good.

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[singlepic id=667 w=550 float=center]

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