How to Live: 25 Useful scripts for Flickr users

Following up the post on 10 Really Useful Flickr Greasemonkey Userscripts from the other day is this great article from howtoliveonline.com that lists 25 great Greasemonkey scripts for Flickr users:

25

Flickr is a nice, popular online photo sharing tool. Here is a collection of tools and scripts that will enhance your flickr experience.
Enjoy these collection and feel free to suggest any useful script or additional tool that I might have missed.

Scripts to enhance Flickr browsing experience:

Tip: To install these scripts, you must get Firefox browser and Greasemonkey extension [Read a 30 sec description on GM]. Once you install the Greasemonkey, you will see a smiling monkey icon on the right-bottom corner of your browser. These scripts need to be automatically installed when you select install option.

(continue reading at 25 Useful scripts for Flickr users)

Ryugyong Hotel (Pyongyang, DPRK)

Update: Check out the new construction on the hotel!

ryugyong-hotel-lg

In my continuing search for new and interesting articles due directly to my incredible fascination with North Korea (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea), I recently found an article in Esquire about the monstrous Ryugyong Hotel, a vacant skyscraper hotel that was originally meant to be a shining symbol of the prosperity of the DPRK but has sat empty and incomplete since construction ceased in 1992 (construction began in 1987).

According to Wikipedia,

The Ryugyong Hotel (Korean: 류경호텔)(or Ryu-Gyong Hotel or Yu-Kyung Hotel)[citation needed] is an unfinished concrete skyscraper. It is intended for use as a hotel in Sojang-dong, in the Potong-gang District of Pyongyang, North Korea. The hotel’s name comes from one of the historic names for Pyongyang: Ryugyong, or “capital of willows.” Its 105 stories rise to a height of 330 m (1,083 ft), and it contains 360,000 m² (3.9 million square feet) of floor space, making it the most prominent feature of the city’s skyline and by far the largest structure in the country. At one time, it would have been the world’s tallest hotel.[1] Esquire dubbed it “The Worst Building in the History of Mankind” and noted that the government of North Korea has airbrushed the building out of pictures. The Christian Science Monitor called it “one of the most expensive white elephants in history”.[2] Over the years, the skyscraper has earned such nicknames as the “Hotel of Doom,” “Phantom Hotel,” and “Phantom Pyramid.”[3] Construction began in 1987 and ceased in 1992, due to the government’s financial difficulties. The unfinished hotel remained untouched until April 2008, when construction resumed after being inactive 16 years.[4]

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryugyong_Hotel)

The Esquire article has a bit more scathing review of this enormous structure:

A picture doesn’t lie — the one-hundred-and-five-story Ryugyong Hotel is hideous, dominating the Pyongyang skyline like some twisted North Korean version of Cinderella’s castle. Not that you would be able to tell from the official government photos of the North Korean capital — the hotel is such an eyesore, the Communist regime routinely covers it up, airbrushing it to make it look like it’s open — or Photoshopping or cropping it out of pictures completely.

Even by Communist standards, the 3,000-room hotel is hideously ugly, a series of three gray 328-foot long concrete wings shaped into a steep pyramid. With 75 degree sides that rise to an apex of 1,083 feet, the Hotel of Doom (also known as the Phantom Hotel and the Phantom Pyramid) isn’t the just the worst designed building in the world — it’s the worst-built building, too. In 1987, Baikdoosan Architects and Engineers put its first shovel into the ground and more than twenty years later, after North Korea poured more than two percent of its gross domestic product to building this monster, the hotel remains unoccupied, unopened, and unfinished.

(http://www.esquire.com/the-side/DESIGN/hotel-of-doom-012808)

But, since the Esquire article was posted, there has actually been construction activity, for the first time in 16 years!

SHENYANG, China, May 19 (Yonhap) — North Korea resumed the construction of a highrise hotel building in Pyongyang last month, which was suspended for nearly 20 years due to funding problems, informed sources here said Monday.

The construction of the luxury Ryugyong Hotel began in 1987 with French capital and technology for completion in 1992. The 105-story building has long been left uncompleted since early 1990s amid North Korea’s chronic economic problems.

“North Korean authorities restarted the construction of Ryugyong Hotel in April,” the sources said, quoting those who recently returned from trips to Pyongyang.

Orascom Telecom Holding of Egypt is North Korea’s partner for the construction, the sources said. “If completed, the hotel will be used as an accommodation for foreign investors and visitors, a business center and an international convention center among others,” a source said.

The 330-meter hotel is expected to be the world’s tallest when completed.

(http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2008/05/19/97/0401000000AEN20080519006900315F.HTML)

Now, given that the secretive country is notoriously restrictive to tourists (except during the Arirang Games), such an investment seems like an odd choice, but it looks like there’s another motive…

Traders in Shenyang, China with ties to Pyongyang say the North has now found that funding, partnering with Egypt’s Orascom Group. Orascom has publicized significant investment plans for North Korea in the last twelve months. Orascom Telecom Holding announced on January 30 of this year that it had been granted the first-ever commercial license to provide WCDMA 3G technology-based cellular service to North Korea, and put forth plans to invest 400 million USD to create a nationwide infrastructure.

This deal followed on the heals of Orascom’s first venture into DPRK investment, announced in mid July, 2007, when Orascom Construction Industries purchased a 50 percent stake in the North’s Sangwon Cement Factory near Pyongyang. This venture involved the injection of 115 million USD, which is being used to modernize the facility and increase production capacity from 2.5 million tons to 3 million tons per year.

(http://www.nkeconwatch.com/2008/05/19/orascom-completes-3g-test-call-in-north-korea/)

…which is another odd move, considering that citizens in the DPRK are not allowed to own cellular phones. Or maybe they will be allowed to?

Earlier this year, the company said that it expects to sign up an initial 100,000 subscribers when it launches its new GSM network in North Korea. Speaking on a conference call, CEO Naguib Sawiris said that the service would start in three main cities in the country and the company will then pause to assess the impact.

The company aims to spend an initial US$200 million on the network over the next twelve months, with US$100 per year for the two years after that.

(http://www.nkeconwatch.com/2008/05/19/orascom-completes-3g-test-call-in-north-korea/)

Whatever the case may be, this hotel fascinates the hell out of me. I’ll keep you readers posted, of course, as soon as I stumble upon more info. In the meantime, here’s a couple video “tours” of the hotel. 🙂

Dan Heller Photography: Model Release Primer

This looks like some excellent information about model releases, which will probably come in handy for any of you photographers out there who are planning on shooting portraits for groups such as “100 Strangers” on Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/groups/100strangers/)…

Before we begin, let’s test your basic understanding of when a photo needs to have a model release:

  1. Do I need a release for a photo I took of someone in a public place?
  2. Should I get a release even if the person in the photo is unrecognizable?
  3. Does profiting from the sale of a picture trigger the need for a release?
  4. I’m going to put on a public display. Is a release required?
  5. What if the person is dead?
  6. Do I need a release if the subject is naked?
  7. I have tons of pictures of my ex-girlfriend. Can she sue me if I sold them?
  8. I own a portrait studio. Do I need clients to sign releases?
  9. I took a lot of pictures as a hobby, and now I want to sell them. Do I need releases for all my pictures of people?

To score your knowledge, give yourself one point for each item you answered “Yes,” and two points for each item you answered “No.” In fact, make it three points. Now, total up all your points. If your score is above zero, you have a lot to learn about model releases.

Yes, none of these questions have an answer at all, and no, these were not trick questions. These are the most common questions I get from people just like you. The reason the questions have no answer is because none indicate a use for the image in question. Unless and until there is a specific use for a photo, there is no answer. In fact, it doesn’t even make sense to ask the question in the first place. So, if you have already shot pictures, or you are about to shoot them, and you’re concerned about whether you need a release for the pictures you shoot, the answer starts out no. However, if you plan to license the pictures to someone for publication, then a release may be necessary.

And here is where the wonderful world of Grey opens up to you. Is the image to be used in an advertisement? Or, is the image to be used in conjunction with an article in a magazine or newspaper? Understanding the difference between images used commercially or in editorial contexts is only the beginning. And while many people clearly understand that those differences exist, it’s the over-simplification of them that gives a false perception on what you actually need to do. There is a tizzy of what-if’s and exceptions that go to the very core of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. And once you go there, Whoa Nelly! You’re in for some serious, eye-glazingly boring, sleepy time.

To save you from that, I’m going to try to characterize this stuff in ways that are fun, simple, and will make you a millionaire.

Ok, maybe not. But it’ll be easier to understand. The reason why any of this is discussed to the degree that it is, is rooted in one of the most perpetuated fears about photography: that the photographer can get sued unless he gets a signed model release from the people (or properties) he photographs. The source of this anxiety is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the law: they think photographer’s are the ones who are responsible because they take the photo and sell it to someone. But that’s actually not where the real concern is. To address that, let’s ask the most basic question, “who is ultimately responsible for a photo being released?”

(continued via Dan Heller Photography – Model Release Primer)