Archive for the ‘Website News’ Category

Haloscan vs. Blogger Comments

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

As this TypePad blog crisis stretches into a new day with minimal support and no resolution (not to mention an increasing number of other problems surfacing, like an epidemic of repetitively posted comments, presumably because of some flaw in TypePad’s commenting system), it is becoming increasingly likely that I will be abandoning TypePad and switching to Blogspot. I’m hoping Blogspot might work a bit better than TypePad, and in any event, it’s free, which TypePad is not. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay $15/month for a buggy blog platform that doesn’t provide adequate support when their mistakes are crippling my blog. So unless they fix this, and fast, yet another platform switch is in the Irish Trojan’s future.

Which raises the question: which commenting system should I use, if indeed I switch to Blogger? Should I use Blogger’s native commenting system, or HaloScan? I remember HaloScan causing lots of headaches, back in my blog’s pre-WordPress days, in large part because of its per-comment character limit. (Even though I was a “pro” HaloScan user, there was still a limit, albeit a higher one than for regular users.) On the other hand, I’ve heard mixed reviews of Blogger’s native commenting system. So I’m just curious what anyone with experience using either or both systems might have to say.

UPDATE: Welcome, InstaPundit readers! My TypePad problems have been solved, at least for the moment.

Stylesheet issues? Broken links? AAAHH!!!

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Is anyone else having technical difficulties whereby my blog’s stylesheet is refusing to load, thus causing the website to look all screwed up? (If you’re confused, it’s supposed to look like thisnot like this.) I am, and when I try to load the stylesheet manually, I get a "404 Not Found" error. I have no idea why.

Also confusing: the first time I clicked the URL in InstaPundit’s post linking to me, I got a 404 error. The second time, the link worked. The third time, another 404 error. WTF? I know it’s not just me, because Anonymous Hoosier is reporting problems too. Moreover, the traffic is very much below what I’d expect from an Instalanche… so I think lots of people are having trouble accessing that URL.

TypePad, I’m not real happy with you right now…

Irish Trojan: The Next Generation

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Welcome to the new and… well, downgraded… Irish Trojan’s Blog.

As promised, I’ve split the blog in two. The "old" blog remains archived on my WestHost dedicated server (and will soon be on a shared server, once I’ve downgraded my WestHost account), while the "new" blog — i.e., what you’re looking at right now — is actually located on TypePad’s servers. The fact that it appears at the domain brendanloy.com is just a bit of DNS sleight-of-hand; the new blog appears to be united with the rest of the site, including the old blog, but it’s really not. The end result is that the bulk of my traffic will go through TypePad’s servers, not WestHost’s, thus enabling me to stop throwing $260/month down the memory hole every month to keep the dedicated server up & running.

I picked TypePad over BlogSpot because I felt that its features were more robust in several ways. However, I may yet change my mind on that and switch to Blogspot. In fact, virtually everything about this "new" blog is subject to change, from the title and subtitle to the layout and design. Indeed, I intend to change a number of things. But I needed to make the switch now, before my September bill from WestHost comes due. So this will be a work-in-progress, as major changes to my blog invariably are.

Alas, one key feature that TypePad currently lacks is pagination, so you can’t look at "Page 2," "Page 3," etc. Supposedly, TypePad will be adding pagination sometime soon, but until then, if you fall behind on what I’ve blogged recently and want to catch up, you’ll have to use the daily or monthly archives. Sorry about that.

I did manage to hack together a recent comments page, displaying the 100 most recent comments. (Like the rest of the blog, it isn’t paginated, so you’re out of luck if you want to go past 100.) However, I haven’t yet figured out if I can do pop-up comments, which I know people like. For now, the "comments" link on each post on the homepage goes directly to the comment area on the permalink page. Again, sorry about that. I’ll try to fix it eventually.

I’m sure there will be some glitches and problems, so if you experience any technical difficulties, please leave a comment and/or shoot me an e-mail (irishtrojan [at] gmail.com) so I’ll know about it.

Oh, and if you want to read posts and/or leave comments on the "old" blog, you still can. Posts are at www.brendanloy.com/wp, and comments are at www.brendanloy.com/comments.

This blog has moved!

Monday, August 27th, 2007

The Irish Trojan’s Blog has moved from WordPress to TypePad, for reasons that are explained here.

The old blog archives — from April 4, 2002 to August 27, 2007 — are still maintained on this server via WordPress (though the pages you see have been converted from dynamic PHP to static HTML). But everything from August 28, 2007 onward is hosted on TypePad’s servers.

Click here to visit the new homepage!

Irish Trojan 2.0: Ably Nerd On?

Monday, August 27th, 2007

As I mentioned before, I’m planning to move my blog to either Blogspot or Typepad (mapping the subdomain blog.brendanloy.com to the Blogspot/Typepad servers) so that I can drastically reduce the amount of traffic to my WestHost account and thus downgrade from a $260/month dedicated server to a $15/month shared server. I’m hoping to get this done by Wednesday, and I’m in the process of setting it up now.

Because this plan involves permanently severing the blog’s archives into “old blog” and “new blog,” I’m thinking of naming the new blog something other than “The Irish Trojan’s Blog.” It sort of makes sense to do this anyway, because although I’ll always be an Irish Trojan, that appellation is a less significant part of my identity now that I’m no longer a student at either ‘SC or ND. Anyway, my current tentative choice for a new name is “Ably Nerd On,” which is an anagram of “Brendan Loy” first noted here by Jay Johnson, courtesy of the Internet Anagram Server. I think it’s a pretty good name for the blog, as it’s a rather good description of what I do here in cyberspace — or at least, it’s a good description if you’re willing to treat “nerd” as a verb meaning “to be nerdy.” :) However, Becky hates it. So I’m wondering what others think. To wit, a poll.

Please note, this is a non-binding poll. I’m the dictator of my own blog, and as such, I may choose the name even if everyone hates it. :) However, I would like to know what people think. I’m also curious if y’all have any alternative suggestions for a new name. Feel free to leave those in comments.

UPDATE: Okay, so, everybody hates it. Inspired in part by the overwhelming negative poll results, I’m abandoning the idea. (Hey, even a dictator has to avoid being so unpopular that the people revolt!)

I’m thinking I may just call the new blog “Irish Trojan in Tennessee,” thus maintaining the earlier “branding” while still indicating that something has changed. But I continue to be open for suggestions.

P.S. While “Ably Nerd On” is an anagram for Brendan Loy, the anagrams for my full name — Brendan Loomer Loy — include “Blarneyed Lo Moron.” Heh! Maybe I should use that instead! ;) Or perhaps “Ambled Ornery Loon”… or “Blander More Loony”…

Technical difficulties

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

My apologies if anyone is having trouble accessing the blog. It’s been very spotty tonight, possibly as a result of the two simultaneous Instalanches I’ve got going, and/or possibly because of some unrelated broader WestHost problems (I’m having trouble accessing my manager page, and the support pages, too). I’m not sure what’s happening exactly, and although I’ve submitted a help ticket, I may not be able to seriously tackle it for a while if the problem persists, since I’m going to bed now, and then Becky and I are going to Babies R Us tomorrow morning to create our registry. In other words, life is intervening and de-prioritizing the website for the moment. Not for the last time. :)

UPDATE: A-ha! It was a WestHost issue! They e-mailed me at 12:58 AM:

We are currently under a heavily DDOS attack on our Network which is currently affecting access. Our network administrator is currently working on thwarting the attack such that Network Stability returns to normal. A DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack causes millions of network requests sent to us every few seconds from various locations. This is performed by the attacker to exhaust network resources which is causing the issue.

Apparently the attack has ended now.

A resolution I will inevitably break

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

Okay, here goes. This is doomed to fail, but I’m going to say it anyway, and see if I can actually surprise everyone, including myself, by sticking with it:

I will not use the World Wide Web for the next 96 hours.

You might think this is about the bar exam, and my desperate need to cram instead of procrastinate. You might think it’s just the logical extension of my previous announcement that blogging will be light because I’ll be studying. But you’d be wrong. This about something much more important: Harry Potter. (“[He] needs to work on [his] priorities.” –Ron Weasley.)

I gather that the alleged leak of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows onto the Internets via BitTorrent is, in fact, real. I say “I gather” because I’ve deliberately avoided reading articles or blog posts about the leak, because I’m deathly afraid (pun intended) of accidentally stumbling across spoilers — even unintentional/implicit ones. (I assume the MSM isn’t explicitly reporting who dies, but often times, reporters telegraph information they know but can’t say, like exit polls on election day. I’m guessing there will be some allegedly “spoiler-free” articles that will nevertheless make it pretty easy to surmise whether Harry lives or dies. Anyway, better safe than sorry.)

In any event, now that the cat’s out of the bag, I fear it’s only a matter of time before I accidentally stumble upon some information I don’t want to see, whether via Drudge or Fark or some blog or news article, or via my own website’s comments (as almost happened today), or via some other source I don’t anticipate. Maybe not — maybe I’d remain blissfully ignorant — but it isn’t worth the risk. The only surefire way to avoid accidentally learning the truth on the Web is to, well, totally stop using the Web until I arrive in Denver in four days (at which point I will have presumably finished the book during our day of travel). Hence my pledge — which, of course, has the beneficial side-effect of freeing up extra bar-study time for the remainder of the week.

Even if I stick with my pledge, it won’t totally eliminate all risk, of course. There is also the possibility of accidentally overhearing something in person, verbally. Indeed, it occurs to me that Saturday morning’s midnight book-release parties are now fraught with peril. Some of the Potter fans in attendance will have had it spoiled for them already, but even if (as I would anticipate) those fans are generally respectful and don’t spill the beans for others, all it would take is one a**hole — out of a crowd of hundreds — to walk in and yell, “________ dies on Page __!” to ruin it for everybody. In other words, the real-life equivalent of this afternoon’s troll. And there are a lot of a**holes in this world. I bet it will happen somewhere. I just hope it’s not at my store.

But while I can’t totally protect myself from such accidental revelations, I can at least ensure that I won’t learn the ending online. That means not checking my own site’s comments for four days, but hey, now that my Inquisitorial Squad has been empowered to monitor comments, I don’t need to check them myself. So I won’t.

I guess I should qualify my promise insofar as I’ll probably need to use the Web a few times for purely functional things like printing out directions on Google Maps and the like. As for blogging, I’m sure I’ll post a few things via cell phone. But beyond that, I vow to stay off the Web for the next 96 hours, starting at midnight.

How long do you think I’ll last? Make your guesses in comments. :)

Oh, and in case this wasn’t clear already, NO POTTER SPOILERS, dammit. Those go here.

This is Brendan Loy, signing off. See ya Saturday.

Crunch time

Monday, July 16th, 2007

As should be obvious from the countdown sidebar at left, it’s crunch time for bar prep… and if today’s PMBR practice exam is any indication, I still have quite a bit of “crunching” left to do.

So, at the risk of inviting ridicule vis a vis my tendency to say “blogging will be light” and then ignore my own protestations and continue blogging just as much… blogging will be rather light for the next nine days or so.

Guestbloggers, if you have anything you’ve been saving up for fear of it getting instantly bumped by my hyperactive blogging, now would be the time. :)

PSA

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

There have been some issues in recent days with my blog’s spam filter catching legitimate comments and throwing them into “moderation” because they link to URLs from perfectly legitimate domains (e.g., nytimes.com, sfgate.com, nasa.gov, house.gov) that have been automatically “blacklisted” by SpamKarma for some reason. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing that some spammers are now deliberately including legit domains in their own spam messages, in order to get those domains blacklisted and thus create so many false positives that bloggers will weaken or remove their anti-spam defenses. Unfortunately, that’s not a possibility for me, because I get an enormous amount of spam, so I’m afraid I have to live with the false positives and correct them manually as best I can. I’ve whitelisted the domains in question for now, but I suspect similar problems will recur in the future. So, if you try to leave a comment and it gets sent to “moderation,” please shoot me an e-mail, and I’ll “approve” it as soon as I get your message. Otherwise, I may not see it for several days, if ever.

Need a favor

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

I need a blog-maintenance favor from a regular reader who is not a Harry Potter fan (or at least, who doesn’t mind possibly being exposed to Harry Potter 7 spoilers). If you might fit the bill, could you please e-mail me at brendanloy [at] alumni.usc.edu? Thanks!

UPDATE: I’m all set. Thanks!

The future, Conan? Pondering what’s next for the blog

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

One of the many issues raised by the fact that Becky and I are expecting a child — approximately #1,746 on the list — is the future of this blog. How will I find the time to keep blogging? How often will I update the blog? How will I pay for its continued upkeep?

It’s that last question that I want to focus on for a moment, because it’s really the crucial point in the rest of this discussion. At the moment, I’m shelling out roughly $260 per month for a dedicated server. My dedicated-server buddies Jay, Joe and Brian help me cover some of that total, but I’m still paying about $150 out of pocket — and moreover, for long-term budgeting purposes, it’s necessary for me to set aside enough to cover the whole $260 (since I’m the only one contractually obligated to pay). That means, as I look at our annual budget, I see more than $3,000 going down the drain to pay for the server space that this site lives on. With travel plans in the making, student-loan debts about to come due, and a baby on the way, that $3,000 looms awfully large. Huge, in fact.

Moreover, even putting aside the raw impact of that dollar figure on the rest of our budget, the reality of starting work and starting a family makes the cost seem, well, less worth it. Because the fact is, the blog is inevitably going to diminish somewhat as a priority in my life. That’s not to say I won’t still blog — of course I will. I don’t think I could give up blogging if I wanted to. I’d need a 12-step program, and I doubt even that would work. :) But I’ll spend less time blogging, and focus less energy on my blog’s upkeep. That’s just the reality of what lies ahead. And so while spending $260/month might have made some degree of sense when I was devoting a huge chunk of my (ample) free time to this project, it makes far less sense when I’ll have considerably less free time, and will be devoting considerably less of it to the blog.

Anyway, my first inclination, as I started thinking about this, was to lash out against the necessity of hosting my blog on a dedicated server at all. I’ve never really understood why it’s necessary, considering I “only” average 2,000-ish visits per day. Shouldn’t dedicated servers be necessary only for huge blogs like InstaPundit and Daily Kos? Shouldn’t I be able to host my site on a shared server? Yet experience after experience, with one host after another, makes clear that my blog inevitably taxes a shared server, or even a semi-dedicated server, to the breaking point. I think it’s the combination of the traffic levels with the sheer size of my WordPress database that does it. I may not be one of the blogosphere’s most popular bloggers, but I’m one of its most prolific, and as a result, there is just an absolute ton of stuff in my database for all those MySQL queries to sort through. But that’s just a theory. In any event, whatever the reason, the reality appears to be that I can’t reliably downgrade to a shared or semi-dedicated server without fear of provoking server crises like I’ve had in the past. I might be okay for a while, but a handful of Instalanches — nevermind Katrina Redux, or heaven forbid, a Drudgelanche — and I’d be right back to square one again, scrambling to keep my site online without frying my host’s servers and zapping their other customers. And frankly, I’m so over dealing with that crap.

So, if my blog can’t exist in its current form without being on a dedicated server, and I don’t want to continue paying for a dedicated server, that would seem to leave me with but one choice: fundamentally change the blog’s current form.

This is what I’m thinking. If I stop using WordPress (which runs on, and publishes to, the BrendanLoy.com server) to run my blog, and switch over to one of the big bloggy services like Blogger (on Blogspot) or TypePad, the majority of my traffic — including virtually all of the highly volatile day-to-day traffic that comes with Instalanches and the like — would no longer tax the BrendanLoy.com server. It would instead tax Blogspot’s or TypePad’s servers, which are obviously designed to handle such things much better than any server I could pay for. That would leave the BrendanLoy.com server to handle my photo galleries and miscellaneous static pages (and my old blog archives, but more on that in a second). The overall effect, I think, would be to lessen the load on the BrendanLoy.com server enough that I could downgrade to a shared-server plan (and put that $3,000 toward diapers instead of the dedicated server).

But what about my old blog archives — i.e., this post and everything before it, going back more than five years to April 2002? Would I migrate them over to Blogspot/TypePad, or would I leave them here, severing them from the newly “downgraded” blog? Alas, while it kills me to say it, the answer is obvious: I leave the old posts on the BrendanLoy.com server, archived for historical reference (with comments turned off), and start totally anew. Between the difficulty of exporting from WordPress into a “lesser” service, the importance of maintaining stable links (i.e., not “breaking” five years’ worth of internally and externally linked URLs), and the necessity of making the “new” blog manageable, I think that’s how it would have to be, if I go this route.

So, you’d have my currently active blog in one place — at, say, brendanloy.blogspot.com, for example — and all my other stuff, including my old blog archives, in another place. Of course, there are lots of tricks I could do to make the back-and-forth between these two digital realms as seamless as possible. But the important thing from my perspective is that the bulk of my traffic, and server load, would be handled by Blogspot (or TypePad, or whomever) rather than my server. The huge, honking downside? As of some arbitrary date, Irish Trojan’s Blog 1.0 would abruptly end, and Irish Trojan’s Blog 2.0 would abruptly begin. Searching, categorization, archiving, etc. would all be totally separate between the “old” and the “new.”

I don’t like that, but I’m not sure I have a choice.

And maybe, just maybe, it presents an opportunity. Maybe it wouldn’t simply be “Irish Trojan’s Blog 2.0.” Maybe this is a chance to do some “rebranding,” if you will, and maybe now is the perfect time for it. I’m done being a student, I’m entering the working world, and I’m about to have a kid. At some level, I’ll always be an “Irish Trojan,” but is that really going to be my defining characteristic going forward? Certainly not as much as it has been from 2004 (when the blog first got that name) through 2007. So in other words, maybe instead of separating my blog into Part 1 and Part 2 but otherwise pretending it’s the same blog (just with a technological line of demarcation drawn arbitrarily down the middle), maybe it’s time to actually… you know… start a new blog. Cut the cord on the old one, leave it online in archived form, refer back to it now and then, but: start anew, with a new title, new features, a new outlook.

Well, not a totally new outlook. I mean, I’m still me. :) My blog will always reflect that. And that’s a good thing, I think. But I think maybe the time is coming to retire the “Irish Trojan’s Blog” and move on to something slightly different. Something “rebranded.” I’m not quite sure what that means, or what the new “brand” would be (though I definitely think Jay’s “ABLY NERD ON” has some promise). I don’t know how different the “new” would be from the “old,” really. I don’t know how different I’d want it to be. But I think this is an idea worth considering.

There’s another way in which the “downgrade” idea makes sense, too. I mentioned before that having a baby, starting a job, etc., means that my blog will be de-prioritized somewhat. Well, maintaining a blog that’s hosted on my own server, via server-side software, inevitably means spending a fair amount of time dealing with technical issues relating to the blog’s upkeep. By contrast, hosting it on someone else’s server, via someone else’s software, takes a lot of the technical stuff out of my hands and makes things more streamlined. I’m a user instead of an administrator, basically. In the past, I didn’t like that — I wanted to be as hands-on as possible, with endless options. That’s why I upgraded to WordPress in the first place! But the operative motto going forward might be “simplify, simplify, simplify.” If I’m going to have less time to blog, doesn’t it make sense to spend a greater percentage of what blogging time I do have on actual blogging instead of on technical back-end stuff?

I dunno. I’m still thinking this through, brainstorming about possibilities, trying to imagine what will work best. That’s why I’m posting it here — because my readers usually have some pretty clever ideas, so I figured I’d solicit your input and see what you think. Feel free to comment and make suggestions about any stage of the thought process I’ve just outlined. Do you think you’ve got a better solution to the dedicated-server dilemma? An alternative to splitting the blog in two? A suggestion about “rebranding”? Let’s hear it. As a billionaire presidential candidate — no, no, the other billionaire presidential candidate — once said, “I’m all ears.”

P.S. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that this is the second time I’ve pondered the future of the blog in a post titled “The future, Conan?” — and, in so doing, predicted a reduction in my blogging activity because of impending life changes. The first time around, in April 2004, I wrote:

Of course, there will inevitably be some changes to my blog once law school begins. First and foremost, I’m sure I will be updating it quite a bit less frequently, out of sheer necessity. (This is going to be tough, since the November election is barely two months after I start, but I will have to restrain myself somehow in order to get my damn work done.) Also, although I’ll still be rooting like hell for the Trojans, the USC-related postings may take something of a hit, in order to avoid totally alienating Trojan-hating Domers.

I was, of course, wrong on both counts: if anything, I blogged more about USC once I got to ND, as I discovered the impish glee of being an Irish Trojan (and, yes, alienating the haters); and the overall frequency of my blogging increased during law school. In fact, it more than doubled. From April 2002-August 2004, I blogged 3,287 posts, or 113 per month. From September 2004-May 2007, I blogged 8,446 posts, or 256 per month.

This time, though, I’m pretty sure I won’t be wrong. No way am I going to be averaging 8-10 blog posts per day while clerking (and, ultimately, lawyering) and being a father. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. Perhaps the guestbloggers — whose help I originally enlisted precisely because of the anticipated, never-realized dropoff in my own blogging frequency during law school — will take on a bigger role. Or perhaps the whole blog will just become a bit less “hyperactive.” Probably a little of both. But what’s certain, for real this time, is that I’ll be spending less time on the blog. After all, as much as I love y’all, I’m pretty sure I’m going to love little Baby Loy more. :)

Opening day at the Irish Trojan art gallery

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first ever BrendanLoy.com-inspired artwork, courtesy of my NDLS classmate Emily Chang. She painted this painting…

…based on this photograph, taken by yours truly in Arizona last Thanksgiving:

Cool!

(Posted with permission. Thanks, Emily!)

Who is Brenden Loy? Is he related to Brendon Loy?

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

This is what happens when I don’t pay attention to my web stats: the New York Times‘s “The Lede” blog linked to me on Thursday evening, bringing in a bunch of extra traffic — nearly a third of my last 4,000 hits have come via the NYT post — but I didn’t notice till just now. (The post references my coverage of the alleged Harry Potter spoiler, and links to my “That Which Must Not Be Blogged” post. The body of the NYT post doesn’t contain any Potter spoilers, but I can’t vouch for the comments or the other linked URLs.)

Anyway, it seems the New York Times has a serious problem with the spelling of my name. You may recall that my name was spelled “Brendon Loy” in the Times print edition on Sept. 6, 2005, in a correction to a rather more significant error in the previous day’s Times article about my Katrina coverage (the article had mixed up the first names of my wife and my dog). This resulted in the highly amusing spectacle of a correction-to-the-correction regarding the misspelling of my name. Well, now the Times has found a new way to misspell my name: Thursday’s blog post says I’m “Brenden Loy.”

I’m not terribly sensitive to misspellings and mispronounciations of my name — I’m accustomed to them, and will generally not bother to correct people who call me “Brandon” or the like, let alone get offended by their error — but for f***’s sake, the Times‘s link goes to a domain called brendanloy.com, and the byline says the post in question is “by Brendan Loy.” In fact, my first name appears nine separate times on the linked page, spelled correctly in each instance. Is it that hard to copy-and-paste the correct spelling into your article?

P.S. Not related to the Times, but while I’m on the topic of misspellings, who could forget this:

Heh.

You know, when I was in journalism school at USC, I once got a zero on an assignment that I’d spent an entire week (and an enormous amount of emotional energy) working on — traveling all around the L.A. area, interviewing the wife of a murder victim, even attending the man’s funeral, all to write an article about the murder for Aaron Curtiss‘s reporting class — because I misspelled a proper noun in the article. Just one proper noun. The name of a city or bridge or somesuch, as I recall. Because of that one mistake, all my effort was wasted. Methinks some New York Times (and MSNBC) journalists could use a little bit of Curtiss-style training.

An eventful week

Monday, May 28th, 2007

I realize the blog has sort of been taken over by weddings, graduations and the like in recent days. It’s been a very eventful week in my world! But never fear, dear readers: this doesn’t signal a permanent transition away from “newsy” blog coverage to mostly personal blogging. At least, I don’t think it does! Admittedly, I never quite know what lies ahead with my own blog; it tends to evolve organically. But I fully intend to get back soon to blogging about newsy stuff more often. If nothing else, the onset of hurricane season will force that upon me. :)

Of course, with bar-exam study, and then starting a job, I’ll probably have less time for blogging than during law school, and the guestbloggers may play a larger role. We’ll see. As I said, this place tends to evolve on its own, without any master plan by yours truly. But I just wanted to reassure everyone that the recent trend toward a majority of posts being about personal stuff isn’t going to be the “new normal” here at BrendanLoy.com. There’s just been a whole lot going on in my life recently, and not a whole lot of time to blog about other stuff.

Fix this photo!

Monday, May 21st, 2007

We took a ton of pictures yesterday of Becky and me in front of the Golden Dome, but due to a variety of factors — poor lighting conditions, camera malfunctions, miscommunication between photographer and photo subject, the fact that we were in a hurry, etc. — none of them came out terribly well. In the ones where the lighting is okay, inevitably one of us has a dumb look on our face, or there are people right behind us, or something. Very frustrating. One of the photos, however, is decent enough that I think it could be salvaged into a pretty good shot… but the exposure is way too low, and there are some serious shadows going on, so it definitely needs to be worked on.

Unfortunately, I’m not very skilled at touching up photos in Photoshop or its equivalents. The photo in question is the second picture in my controversially hyphenated post below; I improved it somewhat for the blog, but I think it’s possible to do a better job. So I’m going to post a link to the original, full-size photo here, with a challenge to my blog readers: Can you fix this photo? Send your touched-up versions to brendanloy [at] alumni.usc.edu. Whoever does the best job, I’ll give you credit on the blog, and buy you a beer (or an alternate beverage of your choice) the next time I’m in your city. :)

In addition to being underexposed, the photo is crooked, but don’t worry about that — I can fix that easily enough in iPhoto. It’s the lighting problems I have trouble with. And maybe I’m wrong; maybe it’s not salvagable. But I think there’s enough information there that a skilled Photoshop artist can improve it substantially. Somebody prove me right!