Thursday, March 25, 2010

Howto capture your screen into video with VLC.

I guess many people, including me, did not know that free media player, VLC, can be used to create screencasts of your desktop. It may require some experimentation to come up with the right settings but you do not have to buy any special software to do it. You need download and install VLC.

1. From Media menu select Convert/Save
VLC Media Player
2. Open Media dialog will be presented and you have to switch to Capture Device tab.
Open Media
3. Select Capture Mode: Desktop
4. Set desired frame rate. I used 25 fps.
5. Press Convert/Save button and you will see Convert dialog. Source will be preselected to screen://
6. Browse to select destination file
7. In Settings you need to choose profile. I got best results with "Video - MPEG-4 + AAC (MP4)"
8. Hit settings icon to edit profile.
9. My preferred settings are:
- Encapsulation MP4/MOV
- Video codec H-264, 25fps
- Audio codec unchecked since I am not going to record any audio
10. Press Start to begin recording then stop when you finished.

That's all, you got screencast.


My first customer refund

It hasn't happened to me so far in almost two years of selling images on internet. Maybe some agencies would not even bother notifying contributors, but I got this email this morning from Dreamstime:

Dear Mariusz,

Due to reasons which are beyond our control, we are sorry to let you know that [some $$$] have been removed from your earnings as result of a refund for file IDs 5327340.

Possible refund reasons:
- Accidental download;
- Credit card fraud with mandatory refund issued at request to real card holder;
- Duplicate download;
- Incorrect size/format/license purchased;
- License update;
- Performance issues (misspellings in texts, quality);

Due to the high volume of daily transactions, we cannot provide additional clarification on the refund performed. Measures are always taken for the licenses to be withdrawn and images deleted. Any subsequent unlicensed usage is liable to legal action and penalties.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

I understand that my images were not good enough or not popular enough in the past so maybe that's why it did not happen before. Agency admits they cannot protect my images from stealing. I wonder if somebody steals Sony TV from a store it would ask Sony to give them money back. Normal stores at least got some security to prevent such loss. Microstock agency does not care, they ask contributor to cover their loss. If it was fraud store should take the hit.

Now let's thing about refunding money for digital media download. I am sorry but image download is not a software download. You can somehow deactivate software if you issue refund. You cannot do that with digital image. If somebody downloads a file accidentally it will not be returned when money is refunded. I wonder how enforceable is requirement to delete image if you got refund? There are no tools to track image usage on internet. Unless somebody gets caught with thousands of images acquired this way it is not worth any legal actions. Also because we contributors cover losses agency does not have any incentive to make any actions. All similar reasons are just perfect excuse for stealing image. All downloads should be final. I am sorry but we are not
talking about accidentally spending $100 per image it's usually close to $1.

Have you seen this image somewhere?
Mount Tamalpais


Friday, March 19, 2010


ImageRights , an Internet-based services company, helps locate and identify image use on the internet. ImageRights provides a low-cost, easy to use solution designed to help protect the copyrights of photographers, image libraries and publishers. ImageRights is applying visual search and image recognition technology to discover the use of photographs and illustrations across the Internet, empowering rights holders to reduce illegal image use and ultimately recover fees for the unlicensed use of their works.

[caption id="attachment_567" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="ImageRights"]ImageRights[/caption]

How it works
1. Signup for an Account.
2. Upload your images to ImageRights database.
3. Web crawler scans the internet and comparing images collected against the images you upload to database.
4. ImageRights will post a new report every week, providing the URL and image for any matches we find that are potential copyright violations.


5D Mark II Firmware 2.0.4 Available

That was quick. A day after announcing bugs in latest firmware Canon releases update. I did not have time to really try previous one but I will probably upgrade to this version and next time wait couple more days before jumping on freshly released update ;-)

[caption id="attachment_562" align="alignnone" width="722" caption="Firmware 2.0.4 Release"]Firmware 2.0.4[/caption]


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Canon confirms problems with latest firmware upgrade

A day after its release of the firmware 2.0.3, there are lot of reports about issue with audio functionality Custom modes. Canon is working on update to address it. They recommend to register your camera so you notified via e-mail when future firmware updates become available for download.

[caption id="attachment_556" align="alignnone" width="561" caption="Firmaware 2.0.3 bug"]Firmaware 2.0.3 bug[/caption]


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Google Maps now offers biking directions!

As an every day commuter I am really happy to see this happening. The bike directions take a lot of factors into consideration:
designated bike lanes, tries to avoid areas with lots of hill climbs and drops, busy roads and intersections. In giving estimates on trip times, Google uses an average person at an average Body Mass Index level, peddling up and down the terrain. Let's take a look at my usual morning route. I checked it with GPS logger and it is 9 miles which takes me about 35 minutes. According to Google Maps it is 11.6 mi and takes 1 hour. This feature is still in beta so I hope they will make some improvements :-)

[caption id="attachment_549" align="alignnone" caption="Bicycle directions on Google Maps"]Bicycle directions on Google Maps[/caption]


Monday, March 1, 2010

EOS 5D Mark II Firmware Upgrade 2.0.3

Canon today pre-announces the release of a firmware update for the multiple award-winning EOS 5D Mark II. Originally announced in late 2009, the update adds 24 and 25 frames per second (fps) recording to the camera’s EOS MOVIE video function, and will be available as a free download from the middle of March.

5Dmk2 Firmware


Picnik Acquired by Google

Popular web-based photo editing service Picnik was acquired by Google. Picnik does a great job of cropping and touching up photos, and it comes with a lot of fun effects. It looks like nothing changes today. They will keep supporting existing partners, including Flickr and Facebook. I just wonder how they going to merge it with with Picasa?

[caption id="attachment_535" align="alignnone" caption=""][/caption]


February 2010 earnings breakdown

This was a good month overall. Slightly less (-16%) than previous month which was BME if you look at total revenue. It happened because 123RF did extremely well. This time it did very good so it grabs second place but it was half of what was in January. I am happy to announce new record from SS after 18 months from the last BME. Also I am observing increase from IS. It's very slow but they keep growing few percent every month and this month it gives them 3rd place. It is mostly because my other top 5 performers did not increase contributions very much. For DT and FT it was OK month so they have to do better than that. SXP stop contributing at the beginning of month so in result they dropped from top 5. It does look like transition to ThinkStock has happened yet. I am keeping my fingers crossed, it is good start of the year but you cannot tell if this trend will last.

Feb Feb/Jan
SS 63.37% 123.86% BME
123RF 15.34% 40.42%
IS 5.77% 157.75% BME
DT 5.25% 116.42%
FT 4.41% 118.93%
SXP 3.03% 50.98%
BS 1.75% 150.00%
CSP 1.09% 254.55%
Total 83.88%