Possible outage next week

September 30th, 2016
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

That’s ‘Outage’, not ‘Outrage’. I’m outraged most of the time, so there’s no news there.

We’ve been informed by our data centre that they are having a problem which can only be solved by the complete replacement of a unit, rather than a repair. So they are beginning to follow the Volkswagen Franchises Dealer model of no longer being a garage, just a place that slots in replacement parts. They don’t repair things any more. I guess something might break down, and then they might get sued, so it’s all our fault really.

This is what our data centre tells us:

As you are aware it is our intention to entirely replace the unit which caused disruption to services this week. We have a plan in place that rather than work around a complete outage for all customers, instead a controlled migration of individual cabinets to new supplies will be conducted. This will reduce downtime for individual cabinets and allow engineers to respond to any individual issues should they arise. 

Delivery and commissioning (including testing and verification) of the new device will take place over Wednesday/Thursday next week, with the migration of customer circuits to a clean supply occurring over the evening of Friday. Please note that these timings are approximate at this time and are still subject to change,  however i wanted to give everyone a chance to have as much notice as possible prior to the work starting. 

I will issue a further communication early next week confirming precise windows for the work to be completed in and also raise individual tickets with affected customers in order to arrange clean shutdown and restart procedures for devices.

Well, all that tells me is that there’s a vague chance we might be offline for a while late next week. fotoLibra hasn’t been affected by this problem as yet, and there’s no real reason to think we will, as we appear to be in a different sector, so this is just a heads up. If you come across fotoLibra behaving strangely, it should clear itself up within 24/48 hours.

Apologies in advance!

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Real people

May 26th, 2016
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

It’s hard to deal with real people. They smile, they laugh, they have fun, they have temper tantrums, they storm out of the room, they are unforgivably rude and then utterly contrite. They make no sense.

Sometimes they don’t do the work they’re employed to do. For no reason at all.

That’s why, when you send an email to, say, customer services or Support for a large organisation, you’ll get an email back almost the instant you click the Send button.

Now THAT’s customer service. No human involvement whatsoever.

fotoLibra only employs real people. It’s hell in here, folks.

Which is why we’ve always promised we will answer emails sent to Support within 24 hours (but give us a break at weekends).

Your support query will have been read by a human being and answered by a human being. If you haven’t heard back from us within 24 hours, there’s a simple reason: We Did Not Receive Your Email.

It happens. It happens more often than we would like. Just as letters used to go missing in the post, so emails can vanish into the ether. Sometimes it’s the fault of the spam checker at our email provider — which pulls out 400 junk emails a day from my account alone — and sometimes it just happens.

If you want to speed up our response time, put your Member ID in the subject line. (Hint: Sign in> Details> Member ID)

If you haven’t heard from us within 24 hours, send it again.

From one real person to another!

BobBooks

The medium of photography has often become far too disposable, our pictures stored on digital platforms rather than in a format we can hold, pass around and display.

Bob Books was founded in order to solve the problem of the disappearance of this magical art form — allowing you to create your very own photo book. You can bring your memories to life: use your images and tell your story.

My favourite Bob Book this year, which won the Bob Books Photo Book of the Month competition in February, has got to be ‘Travels with My Father’ by Thomas North. Here, a son created a visual diary for his father of their travels to Australia and Japan. Their journey is moving and full of life as he captures both their surroundings and their bond, perfectly.

Colour

For the past 10 years Bob Books has established itself as the most well-loved and trusted platform for creating, printing and publishing photo books in the UK. Bob Books is used by countless professional and aspiring photographers, who understand that photographs can easily be transformed into keepsake objects with just a moment of inspiration.

As the UK’s top supplier of photographic paper photo books; our best-selling, lay-flat, photographic paper books are produced using
 a silver halide photographic process. Images are exposed onto 300gsm photographic paper and then developed through traditional chemical photographic processes. The pages are then bound using our unique lay-flat binding, displaying double page spreads at their best. Our product range includes hardback and paperback books and boasts a wide range of papers and finishes, all of the highest quality. We even offer logo-free printing for free.

Using the easy Bob designer software, PDF to book or simple drag-and-drop app for the iPad, Bob Books gives you the opportunity to make a customized, beautifully crafted photo book (suited to every design ability).

Once ordered, you can then choose for the book 
to be published in the Bob Bookshop, an exciting platform for people to share and sell their creations.

And now, Bob Books is offering a 15% discount to all fotoLibra customers!

Galloping horse

Galloping horse

Make the most of your collections of archival images or family photos and turn them into an object of beauty.

Palmyra Syria

Palmyra, Syria

Krak des Chevaliers

Krak des Chevaliers

Wherever your passion lies, your pictures can tell a beautiful story.

African Fish Eagle in Flight

African Fish Eagle in Flight

Take advantage of this today by visiting www.bobbooks.co.uk/fotolibra to quickly claim your discount and get started!

Picture credits: Selection of Bob Books  © Bob Books | Bob Books spread © Bob Books | Galloping horse © Paul Richards / fotoLibra | Palmyra, Syria © Paul Gapper / fotoLibra | Krak des Chevaliers © Bernard O’Kane / fotoLibra | African Fish Eagle in Flight © Linda Wright / fotoLibra

Gwyn Headley

 

Gwyn writes: Bob Books is owned by an old friend of mine who works to the highest possible standards. Give them a go — you won’t regret it. And if the pictures illustrating this guest blog look familiar, it’s because they’ve been chosen from the fotoLibra archive.
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

When we ask fotoLibra contributors to rummage through their attics to find old photographs that can never be taken again, this is what we hope they’ll come up with. FOT3028 is just an average, everyday shot of a mass funeral in Hawai’i.

Boy Scouts funeral  Hawaii

Boy Scouts funeral Hawaii

It was taken by the grandfather of our next-door neighbour in London. He was a travelling organ builder, and this was taken from his organ loft at the funeral.

But look carefully at the yellow circles. What he wasn’t to know, and which has only later been uncovered by posterity and diligent research, is that this is the only known photograph showing Elvis Presley and the Emperor Hirohito of Japan in the same picture!

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley

Emperor Hirohito

Emperor Hirohito

What a find. This will rewrite history.

 

London vs. Bradford

March 18th, 2016
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

I’m London Welsh, fiercely proud of both Wales and London WGC*, but even I sometimes get the feeling that Great Britain Ltd pays a little bit too much attention to the Great Wen.

London Wasps play their rugby in Coventry, 100 miles from Charing Cross. When Yvonne was flying, she flew me into London Lydd, which is 80 miles from Charing Cross in the opposite direction. That is a BIG city.

Wouldn’t it be easier for all concerned if England was renamed London? Just a thought. After all, the rest of the world knows this sceptred isle as England, with not a thought for poor Wales or Scotland.

I was driving through Belgium last October when I heard a radio sports announcer previewing the forthcoming Belgium – England Davis Cup tennis tournament. I wondered how the Murray brothers would like that.

Where am I going with this? It’s the news that the Royal Photographical Society’s archive is to be moved, along with 400,000 other photography-related items, from the National Media Museum in Bradford to the V&A in London, to be replaced by a light show.

Whatever the merits or demerits of this move, we can be sure that the 400,000 objects out of the NMM’s 3 million strong collection being taken from Bradford will be the pick of the crop, leaving behind assorted knurled focussing knobs from a few old Thornton Pickards and a couple of Box Brownies.

When the NMM opened in 1983 it was called the National Museum of Photography, and it was hailed as a brave new initiative to devolve a part of Britain’s artistic heritage out of London. I worked with them on a number of projects, notably with Brian Coe and the Kodak Gallery (there’s a Harlech connection for you — Kodak’s first UK boss George Davison built his summer house in Harlech).

Now the best of the best is being shipped to London, which already has more and better museums, theatres, art galleries and entertainments than anywhere else in the world, leaving Bradford with a light show, an IMAX and a couple of curry houses.

As a proud Londoner, I say it’s simply not fair. We’ve got enough down here. Why do we have to have more? Make Bradford a destination for all photographers!

London’s got it all. It doesn’t need this. Bradford does need it. Please think again.

*World’s Greatest City

$ocial Media

March 15th, 2016

Not being a great user of social media personally,  I find it mildly offensive when people bump into me in the street because they’re too intent on reading their screens.

However when I was their age, I used to bump into people as I hurried down the street with my nose buried in a book — so where’s the difference?

The difference is that the boors who bump into me today are communicating with their own user-defined communities, which definitely does not include portly old gentlemen meandering down the street.

But as the great New Yorker cartoon by Peter Steiner pointed out, ‘On the Internet, nobody knows you’e a dog.’ So I don’t know if these hurrying, bustling, busy people might be picture editors, photographers, or any other members of a community which could be interested in fotoLibra, in the wonderful variety of images we hold, and in the great opportunities for reaching picture buyers around the world.

Shortly after we started up fotoLibra we approached what we recognised as social media blithely and without fear. We set up this fotoLibra Pro Blog, we set up Facebook and LinkedIn identities, we fed them with content and … not a lot happened. So we asked around, and people told us “Oh, you should be on

  • Picasa
  • Google +
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Reddit
  • Tumblr
  • Snapchat
  • Flickr
  • Twitter

and so on and so on and so on.

Keeping a visible profile on a dozen or or so social media sites (all American, of course) is hard maintenance for a small English-speaking (as opposed to American-speaking) business. In fact it’s almost a full-time job.

But it’s not impossible. So I started checking them out. The first one I looked at was Picasa.They closed it down today, Tuesday 15th March, after 13 years.

That would have been annoying, pumping thought and effort into something which has the cord yanked just as you get it up and running.

All these SocMed sites seem to follow the same pattern — smart young entrepreneurs start them up, they achieve quick success, a larger corporation buys them out, it doesn’t have the same drive and vision as the founders, the division lurches from new initiative to desperate new initiative until the enterprise is quietly remaindered. Whatever happened to Bebo? Myspace? They still exist, albeit as husks of their former selves. Friends Reunited? It was closed down 18 days ago.

When Facebook went public, 18% of the listed value of the company would buy you Belgravia. At the time, I commented I’d rather have Belgravia. Now more teenagers are signing up to Snapchat than Facebook, and who knows what they’ll be joining in 25 years time? Whereas Belgravia will still be there.

All this was partly prompted by coming across a New York photographer who started taking photos in 2008, now has 400,000 followers on Facebook and no, she doesn’t post naked selfies. I am lost in envy and admiration. My NYC chums have never heard of her. fotoLibra rather fewer followers on Facebook. Our challenge is to multiply ours a thousandfold.

Whether the SocMeds are on the rise, or in graceful decline, the more people who are aware of what fotoLibra offers, the better it will be for contributors, picture buyers and of course us.

We’re asking around again. Naturally, all advice will be gratefully received!

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Tags:

For over 40 years psychologist Merrill Elias and his team has been tracking the cognitive abilities of over 1,000 people in the north-eastern United States. The study basically observes the relationship between blood pressure and brain performance.

There have been seven waves of research so far, each one lasting five years, and in the sixth wave, 2001-06, Elias’s team decided to ask participants what they ate.

Researchers compared cognitive tests on participants who reported eating chocolate at least once a week with those who ate less.

The results were remarkable. The chocolate eaters had significantly superior visual-spatial memory and organisation, working memory, scanning and tracking, and abstract reasoning.

In other words, people who eat chocolate are better at multi-tasking, looking at things, remembering numbers and a host of other benefits.

“Our study definitely indicates the direction is that chocolate consumption affects cognitive ability,” says Elias.

It’s clear that if chocolate consumption enhances visual awareness, then photographers and picture editors should be bolting the stuff down.

We are well known in the picture business for handing out large bars of chocolate at trade fairs to picture editors in exchange for their business cards. It seems we were doing right all along.

Stand by therefore for the fotoLibra Enhanced Visual Perception Chocolate Bar, coming as soon as the highly qualified fotoLibra team has conducted extensive empirical research by scoffing as much chocolate as we can find.

Voucher Copies

February 22nd, 2016
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Every invoice we send out for a picture sale contains the same wording: ‘Please send two voucher copies to fotoLibra at 22 Mount View Road’ and with a very few honourable exceptions it is routinely ignored. Of course we can’t enforce it; most of the time we’re more than happy just to have made the sale.

But a line has to be drawn somewhere. And this is it. We have been providing the images for the labels on a series of rather upmarket Scotch whiskies recently. Each whisky has been paired with a famous author. So far we have sold them images of Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Leo Tolstoy, Gustave Flaubert and Alexandre Dumas. But not Marcel Proust. I don’ t think Proust was much of a whisky drinker, more of a crème de menthe merchant.

Here’s one of the bottles with the fotoLibra image on the label:

naked.ardbeg

And here’s what they have to say about this particular malt:

“This Authors’ Series is a range of limited edition and exclusive single malt whisky, created by the prestigious blenders and bottlers, Hunter Laing Ltd. Each whisky has been paired with a famous author, ensuring that the unique taste and character of the malt has been inspired by the author’s life and work. Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling & Edgar Allan Poe are the first three expressions that have been released.

“This particular expression is an Ardbeg 21 year old, matured in 1993 and bottled in January 2015. This limited edition whisky is one of only 120 bottles, which have been drawn from a Refill Hogshead cask, and bottled at natural cask strength of 56.4%. Ardbeg fans will not be disappointed, as this rich and peaty expression has all the typical Islay attributes, whilst the the character of Rupert Kipling shines through. Charles MacLean said: ‘Deep amber in colour with moderate beading. The first aroma is of lanolin and damp, untreated wool, even a hint of sheep dip, with roast chestnuts in the background. Oily and surprisingly sweet to taste, with fragrant woodsmoke in the aftertaste. Faintly waxy with a drop of water, backed by charred wood. Smooth and sweet, with hessian and washed out creosote.’

“Each bottle is presented in a brown leather box, embossed with gold medallic text, which adds to the luxurious feel of the product. The bottles are also individually wax sealed with a stylish monogram design.”

I’ve been sitting by the front door since January last year waiting for our two voucher copies to drop on to the mat, but bizarrely enough they have failed to materialise.

I think I may have discovered why. This particular whisky costs £900. Per Bottle! And it’s not even a litre! That’s €1,150, or $1,275. Blimey.

Because it’s not a whisky, it’s an Expression.

 

One-Off

January 26th, 2016
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

It didn’t make the News at Ten but a seismic news event has just occurred in the picture industry,

Corbis, the picture library set up by Bill Gates, has been sold to Visual China Group and henceforth will be distributed by their former arch rival Getty Images.

I’m not really an industry commentator, more of an industry worker, but I can see this will have a massive effect on the picture buying world, and not necessarily all bad. If you want an industry commentator, Will Carleton of Photo Archive News is the tops.

Minnows like fotoLibra can’t possibly compete with this megabehemoth on price or range. We have nearly a million images, a number which when we went into business a dozen or so years ago would have made us a monster.

And unless we stop paying contributors — we have no intention of so doing — we can’t compete on price with microstock agencies or with special deals done by Messrs. Corbis and Getty.

Where we can make a difference is with unique one-off images, photographs which can’t be taken again, the reason we set up fotoLibra in the first place. We wanted to access the photographs in your attic, your shoe box inheritance, the stories of all our lives.

Of course we were swamped by the digital revolution, but we struggle gamely on. We do tell all you fotoLibra contributors that historic images are really popular and remember, anything taken before the year 2000 can be uploaded to fotoLibra without any charge. At all. Ever.

If it’s in a box in your attic, you’re paying its rent. If it’s in a digital file on fotoLibra, it could be helping to pay yours.

We sold a photograph to News at Ten last week. It was an old photograph of a castle before the recent floods. Getty and Corbis hold huge curated collections, not one-offs like that.

Who’d a thought it?

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

The fotoLibra site was down from about noon on Sunday 17th January to this morning, Monday 18th. Apologies for that. The problem was down to domain name system renewal propagation, which has now been sorted out.

When we started fotoLibra back in 2004 we got the fotoLibra.com website, and we had to pay some company in America to point people towards it — to make sure that an IP address, a series of numbers, in our case 77.240.1.218, would resolve into fotoLibra.com. We paid them for two years. Hey — we didn’t know if we’d still be around in 6 weeks, let alone two years.

Two years later we were pretty confident. Things were going well. So we renewed the DNS service for another ten years.

And promptly forgot all about it.

Yesterday, when we logged on to fotoLibra and saw a holding page offering the domain name fotoLibra.com for sale, our first reaction was outrage. The second was self-blame. We contacted Network Solutions to demand to know why we hadn’t been told. They assured us they had sent renewal notices on November 30th, December 11th, December 28th and January 11th.

They were not able to reveal the email address to which the renewal notices had been sent. I see all correspondence through the email box we registered with Network Solutions, and I saw nothing. Of course, it could have landed in Junk. I get about 600 junk emails every day and before deleting them I speed scan the senders to ensure I haven’t missed anything I recognise.

Which reminds me — if you contact fotoLibra and you haven’t had a reply within 24 hours (longer at weekends) please send your email again, because it may have fallen into the Junk folder.

Anyway, because they hadn’t heard from us, they cut us off. I was watching Harlequins vs the Cardiff Blues when our technical development manager rang. “The site’s down. DNS service not renewed.”

It was then we discovered that our broadband service was also down. I couldn’t get on line, I couldn’t see the site. I rang our ISP, the wonderful Zen Internet, to hear a recorded message to say the Crouch End district was suffering an outage. Outage? Outrage!

So the elderly 3G phone was pressed into service, and I finally, after long delays and several hours picking through a tiny keyboard, managed to renew our domain name system. User names, contact details and passwords all seem to have changed over the years, but we managed.

Then comes something called DNS Propagation. It takes time to circulate info across the world wide web, and as I write the fotoLibra site is up and running on my computer here in London, on Network Solutions’ computers in the States, but not on Yvonne’s computer across the room from me.

It will all have resolved itself by 9pm GMT at the very latest.

I’m very sorry about this. It’s not my fault but I feel I’m to blame. To stop this happening a second time, please could you all make a note in your diaries to email me in December 2025 to remind me to renew our DNS through Network Solutions?

Many thanks!