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Better backup your free Flickr account in case it flickers out

Monday (April 23), along with 75 million other registered Flickr users, I received email explaining that the 14-year-old photo and video sharing service is now under new ownership. But not to worry, nothing will change “immediately” with regard to my Flickr account.

In fact, I have about a month—until May 25, 2018—to download any images I have in my free account before the new owner—a premium hosting service called SmugMug (which has never offered free accounts) takes control.

As the email lays it down:

“We think you are going to love Flickr under SmugMug ownership, but you can choose to not have your Flickr account and data transferred to SmugMug until May 25, 2018. If you want to keep your Flickr account and data from being transferred, you must go to your Flickr account to download the photos and videos you want to keep, then delete your account from your Account Settings by May 25, 2018.

If you do not delete your account by May 25, 2018, your Flickr account and data will transfer to SmugMug and will be governed by SmugMug’s Terms and Privacy Policy.”

SmugMug is an image hosting and sharing service that does very well catering exclusively to professional users willing to pay for premium features.

SmugMug’s purchase of Flickr could be good news for the relatively small percentage of Flickr users who already pay for the Pro tier of service and have been fairly starved for attention and new features for some years. But I honestly expect that it signals the beginning of the end for tens of millions of free Flickr accounts.

In buying Flickr, I believe that SmugMug (which I don’t expect has half as many registered users as Flicker) only has eyes, ultimately, to absorb the upwards of 5 million-or-so paying Flickr Pro users.

I expect the Flicker name to vanish and I will be surprised if SmugMug commits to permanently maintaining a free service tier. At best, I envision some kind of transition period and/or a limited time complimentary offer to free Flickr users which will require them to signup with credit card information.

Personally, I only have about four images stored on my free Flickr account but I have no doubt that there are hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people who have been using free Flickr accounts as cloud storage and sole backup for gigabytes-worth of photos.

I found it more than a little ominous that SmugMug’s email had nothing to say about what would happen to the data stored in free accounts after May 25. The Flickr blog, however, is at pains to say that nothing will happen to Flickr’s free accounts.

Beyond all free and Pro Flickr accounts coming under the SmugMug terms and privacy policy, the new owner is taking the line that it has no plans to at this time merge the two services.

Which I still take to mean that we all have a month to back up our free Flickr accounts.

Read more…

Do you remember where you were when Twitter died, just now?

At about 11:15 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time the social media platform Twiter began to balk at posting my pithy little thoughts. I would type something in the “Compose new Tweet” window, hit the “Tweet” button and Twitter would respond with an error message: “Sorry! We did something wrong.”

Again and again and again and again and again I tried and each time Twitter responded with a “Sorry…” error message.

I deleted the Tweet and recreated it from scratch. I deleted the tweet, logged out, logged back in and recreated the Tweet. Each time I received the same error message, over and over again.

Then, ffter hitting the Tweet button a few hundred times or so in manic, machine gun-quick succession, I received a new error message:

“Twitter is over capacity. Please wait a few moments then try again.”

That did it. Feeling like I was contributing to a global phenomenon, I started dinging the Tweet button for all that I was worth—ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding…dang-dong!

Take that Twitter!

Whatever outage there was has now ended. The microblogging platform is back to running normally in my little corner of the world.

But just for a moment there, I felt good, you know? Really good—like I was part of something larger than myself! Click the image to enlarge it.

Street sweeping change comes to town

Sweep dreams are made of this? A City of Vancouver Ravo 5 iSeries street sweeper on West Broadway April 18.

I suspect that the City of Vancouver bought its newest street sweeper—a Dutch-made Ravo 5 iSeries—based on looks. When it’s idle the Ravo 5 looks as cute as a bug and when its hard at work it looks like a big wet/dry vacuum cleaner on steriods.

One sales video for the Ravo 5—by the vacuum sweeper’s manufacturer Ravo-Fayat—shows it thoroughly sucking-up a community garden’s-worth of dirt, a pickup truck-worth of coarse gravel and about $3-worth of empty wine bottles—not to mention a whole slough of standing water.

In the process, it has to be said that the little Ravo 5 street sweeper ends up making its older and larger peers in the sanitation department look like obsolete, lumbering dinosaurs.

For one thing, the Ravo 5 has the comparatively small footprint and turning radius of a Honda Civic sedan, It also has a startling top speed of 80 km-per-hour and (belying its size) a “vacuum bag” which holds of 5 cubic metres—only about one cubic metre less than the 30-some percent larger Elgin Crosswind sweeper. Read more…

Trolley power line breaks in 1400 block of West Broadway—again

A taxicab maneuvers around a freshly-downed trolley line, potentially charged with 600 volts of direct current.

Just before noon today (April 17)—and for the second time in two weeks—a bright flash and a shower of sparks signaled that a trolley bus in the westbound lane of the 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue had pulled down one of its two overhead trolley lines.

There were no mishaps fortunately but there was also no way to tell at a glance which of the two overhead trolley lines had come down: the un-powered grounding wire or its mate, which carries something like 600 volts of direct electrical current.

The person behind the wheel of this sedan ended up driving over the power line after they were unable to maneuver between it and the median.

Response was quick: between five and ten minutes for a transit supervisor to take charge of the scene and another 12 minutes on top of that for one of Coast Mountain Bus Company’s Trolley Overhead crews to show up and repair the damage.

However, in the minutes before the first transit supervisor arrived and coned-off the two lanes covered by the fallen trolley line, motorists were literally at potential risk of electrocution as they chose their own way around (and sometimes over) the looping obstruction.

Not only is this the second time in two weeks that a trolley bus has pulled down one of its two overhead lines at this exact location but this was actually the second time today that transit supervisors and a Trolley Overhead crew had to respond to the 1400 block of West Broadway to deal with a trolley bus and the overhead trolley lines.

A trolley bus at 8:07 a.m.—its poles akimbo—one attached to an overhead line and one not.

Closer to the eastern end of the 1400 block of West Broadway, the main overhead trolley line above the curb lane forks to add a line above the median lane, so that trolley buses can turn south onto Granville Street.

At 8 a.m. a westbound trolley using the curbside overhead lines was seriously discombobulated in the middle of the block when one of its two poles connecting to the power lines came swinging free in a spectacular shower of sparks. Read more…

Sunset for an overcast and rainy day

It’s been pouring rain in Vancouver all day today (April 11) but that was no reason not to enjoy a nice warm sunset.

Certainly in the Fairview neighbourhood, where I spend so much time, the forecast generally calls for both a sunny disposition and at least a sprinkling of discarded paintings in the back alleys.

So here’s a thickly-fashioned canvas that I fished out of a Fairview dumpster earlier this week. Let its faux crepusular light shine out one last time as a stand-in for today’s sundown, blotted out by rain.

And when I write how the clouds, in this particular instance, were “painted” all salmon and yellow (as I am wont to do of sunsets), for a change I’m not just waxing lyrically. Click the image to enlarge it.

Electrical trolley wire falls in 1400 block of West Broadway—causes no trouble at all

Firefighters responding to a fallen trolley wire in the 1400 block of West Broadway.

Firefighters from the nearby Fire Hall No. 4, as well as TransLink workers, were quick to deal with a fallen electrical trolley wire in the 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue this morning (April 4).

At 9:14 a.m. a fire truck running its flashing lights turned eastbound off South Granville Street and took up a jackknifed position in the westbound lane of the 1400 block of West Broadway. Two firefighters piled out of the truck and made a beeline eastward.

The firefighters appeared, at first glance, to be headed for an idled trolley bus parked a third of the block away—its pantographs (trolley wire poles) stowed down on their storage hooks. More buses could be seen stopped on the east end of the block and on the other side of the intersection with Hemlock Avenue. Read more…