Our community blogs
We have come a long way since the late 90s when someone had the genius idea of using a small yellow smiling face image instead of the more common colon-bracket representation of a smiling face.
Within our community, there are various places that photography can be used to create visual interest. From uploads in topics, to cover photos for your blogs, calendars, clubs and profiles.
Incidentally, I've recently added some lovely animation to those areas, which you may have noticed!
So the humble upload field has served these areas well, but sourcing images to use can be a pain; especially when you have to walk the minefield that is copyright and attribution.
Fortunately, there are more than a few online stock photo libraries that offer quality photography that requires no attribution and are not hampered by copyrights. One such library is the ever-popular Pixabay, which was established in 2012 and features a very powerful API. Pixabay has over a million images ready to use from apples to sausages, and everything in-between.
This Is Who We Are now includes intergrated support for Pixabay which brings those images to your fingertips (or mouse pointer if you're on a desktop!). I'm hoping to add more integration soon.
All members now have access to this new feature which can be found in various places throughout the site like this:
Launches the Stock Photo Picker!
Search for an image and then insert it into your content...
Then just use the + button on the Uploaded Image as usual to insert the image where you like within your content!
Using it for Profile Cover Images
Adding a stock photo to your profile cover images is easy too!
then click on Choose Stock Photo...
and your images will be inserted as your cover image, ready for you to reposition, just how you like!
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I've debated a long time about whether to commit to this, but I've decided to go for it. A thirteen issue comic series, a Millennium Virtual Season 6, will be posted online for free on October 28th 2016, just in time for Halloween and the shows' 20th anniversary. This is a culmination of the original ground work by myself and fellow VS6 partners Harry Smyth and Joe McBrayer from back in 2009, conducted in secret on TIWWA, reworked and updated by myself. As a comic book artist and writer proud of what we developed, and inspired by the recent IDW series, and as a die hard fan, I felt compelled to get my version of the VS6 out there.
Some basics- each issue will be released for free weekly on a Friday night, starting 28th October, on a dedicated blog (tba), in various downloadable formats. They will each be a minimum of 45-60 pages long (a standard US format comic is usually 28 pages of story in a 32 page comic). This is a lot of pages so I'm starting a year in advance. It will be unrelated to the IDW series and continue in the universe laid down in the previous VS4 and VS5. I'd strongly recommend reading those first (spoilers, sweetie). The plot of this season and (if it doesn't kill me and if i don't get a cease and desist) a proposed 7th season is already worked out in advance. I'll be releasing behind the scenes stuff such as scripts, photo-shoots of models, process videos and sketchbook material a couple weeks after each relevant episode. I love seeing that stuff myself from other artists so hopefully a few people will find that interesting too. I will have need of 'guest stars' for certain characters through the season, so if you fancy seeing your face in the comic, feel free to DM me a headshot and I'll get back to you with the relevant details.
Needless to say this is an independent fan production, unrelated to and unendorsed by 1013 Productions, cast and crew, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Inc or its related entities in any way. It's just a bit of fun, kids.
Anyway anyone with any questions fire away below.
Book review: Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
I learned about this book from a discussion elsewhere about the North Korea situation.
The author is Barbara Demick, an American journalist and Beijing bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times. She interviewed many people who defected from North Korea and came to live in South Korea.
The use of "Ordinary Lives" in the title is a little bit misleading – but very effective in getting the stories across – because those lives were ordinary only in terms of North Korea. None of us in the West would regard those lives as ordinary in any way.
The other part of the title, "Nothing to Envy", comes from one of the many patriotic songs taught to North Koreans almost from birth. Everything is so perfect, thanks to the Great Leader, that there's nothing beyond the borders that any North Korean could possibly want. And, also, there's a lot beyond the borders to be feared. North Koreans are given everything they need: education, jobs, housing, food, clothing, health care, entertainment. But what people get is determined by their status – mostly whether they get accepted into the Workers' Party and, of course, the higher up the ladder, the more you get.
The system started to fall apart in the 1990s when there was a major famine. It became very difficult for ordinary people when food became scarce, because the Great Leader is the equivalent of a god, and North Korea is the equivalent of the Garden of Eden. How can one continue to believe in all that when adults and children died from starvation, and those children who survived had permanently stunted growth from malnutrition? And yet to disbelieve meant running the risk of imprisonment in labour camps, not just for the "traitors" but for the rest of their families for three generations – parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousins. It's a chilling way to control people.
One interesting aspect that I've learned from a world history course is that Korea, like other countries in that part of the world, had adopted Confucianism centuries ago. Confucianism isn't a religion as such, as it doesn't involve an external deity. But one of the important aspects of Confucianism is "filial duty", which is the respect that must be shown to one's elders – including one's ancestors. The cult of the Kims exemplifies that, because every home is expected to have pictures of the Kims displayed in the main room, with a cloth that is solely used to dust the pictures every day, and the expected daily family routine is for everyone to bow in front of the pictures and give thanks to the Leader. Given that homes, even in rural areas, are crowded close together, and probably with paper-thin walls, any family that fails to speak such thanks loudly is likely to be reported by a neighbour.
And, yet, as the doubts grew, the outside world started creeping in. Some people have radios, which are manufactured to only pick up North Korean stations; fewer have TVs which are also restricted; similarly with computers. But the geeks have found ways of circumventing those restrictions.
There's also an increasing degree of illegal crossing between North Korea and China. Some of that is just commercial. Those North Koreans who survived the famine did so by cultivating their own crops in the more rural areas, so had something to trade for what was on offer in the Chinese markets just over the border. Some North Koreans have video players, more recently some have acquired DVD players, and smuggled DVDs take up much less space. No matter how hard the North Korean hierarchy tries, it can't stem the tide of technological advancement.
Despite the recent posturing of the North Korean hierarchy, which is worrying, the regime is beginning to fall apart. It just isn't possible these days for a country to continue to be so isolated from the rest of the world. Knowledge of the rest of the world is continuing to creep in from outside, and knowledge of the excesses of the higher levels of the hierarchy is continuing to creep down to the middle ranks.
But there's a downside to that:
China restricts those who cross the border from North Korea from accessing the South Korean embassies. That is understandable, because China is really the only country that North Korea has trading links with, so China is having to tread a fine line. What China doesn't want is a totally out-of-control North Korea with whatever nuclear weapons North Korea actually has. And also, China doesn't want to open the floodgates because it doesn't have the means to cope with the potentially vast numbers of refugees. Most of those North Koreans who make it to South Korea do so via Beijing with forged documents (so, expensive), or after an arduous journey and through another guarded border, this time with Mongolia, where North Korean refugees can get travel permits to South Korea from the South Korean embassy.
But that's not the end of the problems. North Koreans who make it to South Korea often have tremendous difficulties in integrating into South Korean society. Partly because their accent is recognisably different; partly because they're shorter due to malnutrition; and partly because it's a completely different world. And it is such a different world – most noticeably because in South Korea there's electricity 24/7, and that's not just amazing for North Koreans, they also have to adjust to the consequent light and noise, as well as the shops and restaurants. South Korea does have a residential campus for North Korean refugees, to help them make that adjustment, and they also give financial aid to the graduates. Some of the refugees took years before they could even wear jeans or brightly coloured clothing – symbols of the decadent West. But there are limits to the numbers of refugees that South Korea could assist in that way.
The North Korean regime will inevitably crumble, but it won't be like the Berlin Wall coming down. Those North Koreans who already know that what they've been led to believe is just BS will still have problems adjusting to the outside world. Those North Koreans who still believe will be utterly devastated psychologically. It's likely that the trigger to the eventual breakdown will be another severe famine. But what will be needed then won't be just an humanitarian response to a famine or a war, which could be helped by providing food and shelter and security. There will be vast numbers of people who will be traumatised simply from being set free.
I am thinking I should take the time to watch Millennium from the beginning this summer along with a full reviewing of Battlestar Galactcia. Does anyone watch to watch those episodes with me in tandem wherever they are at and discuss as we make it through the seasons of Millennium and Battlestar Galactcia.
PS I wish Fox would get a third X-Files movie made and do a Frank Black movie (before Lance and Terry are gone from this Earth).
PSS I should post more often in this blog. lol.
[bLOG TEST ENTRY]
Down the lights, a city known
Of romance high and glory gone
Those reveal the hid and hide the shown.
But now the clouds stuff and fill
The broken heights of Eiffel
That rose the pride and domed the will.
And by the shores of darkened eves
And the noon of fates the sun weaves
Cried a sound in hearing heaves.
A sound to depress and harass
yet to abash and embarrass
The current stillness of Paris.
And pale grows the face of Chirac
And so the nationals of bold Barack
For loss has come to erode a name
That donated earth a glorious fame.
Then fades the dream of Liberte
And trusted no more is Sarkozy
Of clues ancient and demode.
And mad goes yet insane
The flowing Seine, the silent rain
Till seas no more, no more main.
Then fall the labors of Rodin
Over the tunes of Chopin,
Combine the thought of Renan.
And now the thick, turning lean
Lands and meadows, deserts green
Of wail heard and doom unseen.
Then lull the noise, the roads quick
And so the times of scrambled tick
Scouring through the city sick.
But found nowhere, the Louver high
The artful residence of the sigh
Gowned in ruins by and by.
Though remains are the greatest
Of every modern and every latest,
The fleeting flaws, the so faintest.
Then Monks sprang to gather
every Saint and every Father
To witness a wound too profound
Spearing the halo of their bound.
But whose belief is a moonlight
To prevent an end of doom tight
Or flare a sun firm and bright.
And out of done and coming day
And of hopeless might and futile may
Lays a gloom which has yet to lay
To purr the sound of fore-dying way.
A way to depress and harass
Yet to abash and embarrass
The current stillness of Paris.
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Something tells me that this month will be better than any of the Decembers since Millennium was cancelled. Already so many wonderful things have happened as we hope for the return of Frank Black, and I can feel it getting better day by day. It feels good to wait for Christmas, and especially the new year. I'm confident. I hope, I believe, I love.
This picture was taken last weekend at the Turku Cathedral. If you look very closely, you can see two angels standing at the top of the stairs.
Well, after a lot of struggle, and some finagling, we are now about to start the moving process to the house I have placed a few pictures here of, and that we've talked about remodeling. They dragged this out as long as they could, and almost screwed us out of this place as well. Terry had some trouble with his heart back in September, and has been on temp. disability. They tried to use that as a way of denying us the loan. Our real estate agent pulled some strings, and since the seller is desperate, with TWO mortgages, we will be paying his mortgage as "rent" until Terry gets back to work....which should be any time now. Then, we can finally close on the house.
I will, regrettably, be offline during the last part of the move, while we try to get net service again.
In other news, some of you may have seen me mention "Chris" in some posts here on the board. Christopher Stone is a very close friend of mine. We met through MySpace back in June. In July, after a terrible physical assault by Chris' roommate, he came here to live with me and Terry. I brought him here on July 5th, and he's been here ever since. Chris and I are closer than 2 friends could ever be, and he will be making the move with us.
Below, see 2 pictures of the house, and me and Chris.