Last modified on 16 July 2014, at 10:07

User:Jim.henderson

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This is my own User Page, which contains my autobiography, sporadic blog and general wikiphotographical nattering. My talk page can be found by clicking my talk page

where everyone tells me what a splendid fellow I am or more often how I'm ruining everything.

A New Yorker since the 1960s, I've always enjoyed writing and bicycling, and in the autumn of 2006 began writing in Wikipedia (logically enough, my userpage there is en:User:Jim.henderson) about what I learned while bicycling. In October of the following year, a relative decided to get rid of a slightly broken Nikon Coolpix 2200 camera, which I used to start snapping pictures during my travels about town and uploading them to Wikipedia NYC geographical articles.

Bought a better and not broken camera in February '08, a Canon point and shoot A570IS tourist model. Advised to send my pictures to Commons instead, I started doing that at the beginning of May. Took weeks to get used to the differences, but the advantages in categorizing and sharing are worth it. Warm weather encourages more outdoors time, which brings a great increase in quantity if not quality of pictures.

Inadvertent self portrait in far east Brooklyn

Geotagging CameraEdit

My wish list was:

  1. Automatic Geocoding in EXIF
  2. Shorter time between shutter and zoom
  3. Sensitivity, so low light doesn't make blurs

The Nikon P6000 looked like it might do the job, so I bought it Feb 16, 2009 and have studied it. Indeed its sensitivity lets it take less blurred photos in a gloomy subway station. The delay after the snap until zoom is activated seems little changed, alas.

My usual drive-by shooting style makes GPS important. I seldom spend many minutes in one place to get establishing shots and look for subtle angles, but rather take snapshots several meters apart and then pedal to the next victim on my hit list. Sometimes an interesting building a few blocks off my track redirects me, and a series of such happenstances may send me wandering in entirely unexpected directions. Due to lack of clear view of the sky, the camera's GPS rarely receives enough satellite signals here in Manhattan, except along the waterfront and on uptown hilltops lacking foliage. Outer Borough reception is more frequent, but often the camera remembers where it was five minutes ago, before I pedalled a quarter or half mile away. At first I uploaded the picture and later corrected the Wikimedia geotag online. Since Autumn 2009 with a more modern computer I can easily correct the location offline, and in any case a location that needs manual correcting is much better than not having an automatic geotag at all.

Picture pipelineEdit

See User:Jim.henderson/Picture pipeline

CatsEdit

Many pictures in Commons are poorly described and categorized, or not at all. Of course many are also just bad pictures, but I can't do much about that. Anyway when I see an interesting pic in Wikpedia and jump to its Commons page, I check and fix the cat and descrip. This leads to discovering disorderly and overstuffed categories which, if I've got the time, I rearrange and destuff by creating subcats.

Oh. In June 2008 I learned of Category:Image cleanup templates which is handy for post upload improvements, and then I started giving meaningful names to my pictures. In June 2009, learned of Wikimedia techblog.

GeotaggingEdit

For pictures that are already in Commons and never had a geotag, I use This Google Maps crosshair page adapted from a German one by moving the crosshair from Europe to Lower Manhattan. Zoom in, move the map so the crosshair falls on the camera location, and click on the crosshair which produces a help balloon with Wiki {{Location}} template filled out for that location. Paste it into the file description and add a "heading:SW" or whatever direction the camera was pointing, save, and presto, the map will show the blue and red roundel for this camera location.

There's also an external page about free geotagging and software and related topics and other information in our own Commons:Geotagging page.

2010Edit

Progress: With cat wrangling and geotagging for old pictures as well as uploading new ones, at the beginning of 2010 my Commons watchlist hit 5000, 2100 of them being my pix, the others more geotagging than category adjustments. In mid-February my Wikipedia watchlist fluctuated around 5400 and a few new pictures near Madison Square pushed my Commons watchlist above that point on Feb 14. Edit(and upload) counter. Early April, watchlist passed 6000.

Wow; I have very much been neglecting this page, due to more fun with pictures. 7400 pictures and categories on watch now, the majority being there due to geotagging someone else's. I found out about the useful {{GeoGroupTemplate}} , very handy. Jim.henderson (talk) 20:36, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

July, retired from the phone company. More bicycling and photography.

2011Edit

Mid January I bought my first mobile phone, a en:Samsung M910 Intercept with Internet, GPS and camera. Pictures are somewhat poorer in quality than my real camera but much more reliably geotagged. I no longer carry my separate camera every day, just on photographic expeditions. The camera phone's Google Maps program tells me about nearby Wiki articles, which I check to see whether I should take time to try to make better pictures. After an injury in April I became more dependent, often using the little "W" symbols on the map to direct my path even after my healed rib allowed me to climb on the bike again. This produced richer hunting and a backlog, usually at least two months, in processing the pictures.

Few of my uploaded pictures are from the camera phone except when the real camera runs out of storage or power or something, or I want to be sure of the geotag. The camera phone is more slippery and subject to blurring when light is poor, and its touchscreen controls don't work with gloves. Next year a bigger, better camera phone might replace both, or else I'll just go for a bigger real camera than the P6000.

Early in November the upload wizard began reading EXIF locations and converting instantly to a location template. This quickness is a big improvement and helped me discover that my adjustments by Picasa/Google Earth are a major source of failed tags, so I moved to using MSPPT exclusively despite its lower precision.

2012Edit

Goodness, almost a year since my hypothetical fans got an update. I uploaded more thousands of pictures, using the Upload Wizard since that started working well. Other editors began making and diffusing categories, with two benefits: I get more time for other things, and they usually do it better. I started refining my Pro Photo Tools coords with Picasa alone, which is less powerful than when combined with GE but more reliable on my old Windows Vista computer. I replaced my little old smartphone in July with a HTC EVO V 4G with much bigger screen, which is a help with the maps. Early September I started using the WTM Android app to find targets, which works well except

  1. it seems to have crippled Google Map's ability to go to a Wikipedia page, and
  2. it drains the battery quickly, so when using it on the bike I must keep the phone turned off most of the day.

Mid September the Nikon P-6000 which had become flaky with heavy use and some abuse finished dying, so I bought a Nikon P-510, bigger, heavier and mightier, but the GPS availability disappointed me so I brought it back for a little Nikon AW-100 which much more often knows where it is, and even provides a compass direction in EXIF. Buttons are inconveniently small, however. In October I began using Geosetter [1] whose complexity harbors many pleasant features including camera heading, which alas is not extracted by the Upload Wizard.

In December the Mobile Web Beta test version of Wikipedia got an upload button on every article, soon relegated to the Alpha (dragon) test version for bugs which for me don't get in the way of its high efficiency http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Talk:MobileFrontend/Photo_upload]. Reliability of my windows Vista computer deteriorated, so I wiped, reformatted and reinstalled most software but not Geosetter which I suspect of being part of the unreliability, or Picasa due to my learning to make some use of the mighty GIMP.

2013Edit

New toys in Feb:

  1. Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 replacing my old 10 inch netbook (mightiest computer I ever owned). Handy for looking things up as they appear in TV news. Also during lectures for note taking, at dinner for showing off what Wikipedia can do, etc. Replaced it in May with a Dell XPS-10 tablet when a relative needed a tablet. Mindows 8 RT has a nice Adobe Photoshop Express, a simple photo retoucher. No EXIF geotag adjuster. Can't see Wikipedia's video.
  2. Specialized Tri-Cross bicycle with Extra-Large frame. Fastest one I ever owned, good for hilly and daylong trips of tens of miles for which the little folding Brompton bike is inadequate.
The Parmer Branch in Brooklyn of the Wikipedia Feminism and Art Editathon, February 1, 2014.

Summer, replaced my Nikon AWB-100 with a Nikon P-330. Better pictures when light is poor; much less reliable locations by GPS. Clerking old pictures somewhat burned up the time I would have used for examining and uploading new ones.

2014Edit

Time to vent about February's decision Commons:Requests for comment/MP4 Video to stick with only Free Software video formats that other Websites don't use and most consumer computers cannot see. Terrible idea. My old Android phone and my new Windows 8 RT tablet, for example, cannot see Wikipedia's moving pictures. Surely I'm not alone. Sales of old fashioned desk and notebook computers are declining and stagnating, respectively, while close to a million smartphones are sold most days worldwide and a million tablets every week or two. Those are mostly people who can't see our videos but can see Youtube, Netflix etc. Yes, I could search and probably download the necessary Android software for the phone. For the RT tablet it doesn't seem to exist, but I've got an old desk computer that can see our videos.

And what about the clueless hundreds of millions? Most are not computer fixers or auto mechanics or plumbers by trade. When their pipes are clogged they rely on a pro. But when they can't see our video, the sweet and bright people of the free software community recommend that they identify the cause, find out which viewer or browser will fix it, and take care of it themselves. Disregarding that most smartphone users don't know what a "file format" is. Yes, file formats are as important to modern life as fuel pumps and drainpipe elbows, so it would be ideal for everyone to learn how to do elementary repairs and upgrades by themselves. No, that's not realistic for the ignorant majority. So, those millions jump to the conclusion that Wikipedia, unlike other popular Websites, is broken. They're right, even if they don't know that it's a dumb Wikipolitical failure by the thousands (or hundreds) in our little community. Huff puff, that's enough ranting for awhile.

AprilEdit

Decided to start listing sites that use my photos. Last year I found a few but didn't get the URL. Presumably many more have escaped my notice.

Tour guideEdit

I E-mailed non-Wiki friends about my adventure:

Sent: Monday, April 07, 2014 22:33

NB> So, how'd ya do? It never occurred to me that you'd be nervous; I was surprised to hear you say that. You're so forthright and outgoing. I would love to hear all about it.

All went well for the new guide. We didn't expect over 20 people but some had their own Brompton and the shop fleet handled the rest. Jack Ramsey who works at the shop and privately reminded me to speak up, gave a rousing introductory speech more about the bikes than anything, I said a few words about what we would see, and mounted up and off we went up 85th Street into Central Park where we stopped and I explained about the Temple of Dendur which everyone knew anyway, and the south gate of the existing reservoir, and the reservoir that used to be in Great Lawn.

Stop at 90th Street for Church of the Heavenly Snooze and the Mayor who died learning to fly Army airplanes. Stop at Mt St Vincent for Black Horse Tavern, Greene Bench, and northern forts. Stop at Harlem Meer for salt marsh, Boston Post Road, Farmers Gate, and Commissioners Plan of 1811. Stop umm, 120 St or so to let people catch up who got stuck at red lights and for words on Unitarian Church and Israel Temple. That stop wasn't in the plan. Stop at 123 for Harlem Gentlemen's Club, Second Dutch Reform Church and hate crimes.

Jack started issuing instructions about downshifting to pedal up the steep slope of Mt Morris but I overruled him, saying I'm too feeble to make that climb, so nobody else is allowed to. Walk up for, unfortunately my guest lecturer couldn't be there so I blabbed about Harlem Fire Tower and MMP Ascension Church and Jack took the official tour photo. Walk down the hill and stop at Harlem Courthouse for that and more about Post Road. On Pleasant Avenue I made up some stuff, well, I think most was true, about mobsters and when I got to the Irish gangs someone yelled from a passing car, "We’re still here!" which made a good laugh.

Too late for Power Station #7 or Islamic Center of New York, so we crossed FDR drive and I yelled about Robert Moses, Municipal Asphalt Plant, and Battle of Horne's Hook. And carried on a little too long about the New York and New Jersey Campaign of 1776. This was a noisier location and I was glad at the next stop when someone asked a long enough question about Gracie Mansion to give me time to take a swig of orange juice. Lacking a good answer, I then maundered along about Donna Hanover.

Maybe I'll change the route to point out Donna's Gate, but we just climbed 83rd Street back to the shop. Next weekend is Tour de Staten Island when we may get a chance to see the mighty Fresh Kills Dump, and following weekend is my astronomy club followed by Easter, so next chance for me to do my tour guide thing is Saturday April 26. For the second run I might adjust the route further west, and pick a few talking items to talk less about. And get the bright and lively Professor Hulser up that hill to give a coherent lecture while I rest my voice.

Cameras vs ComputersEdit

NB> I'm sorry you're not so thrilled to bits with your camera as you believed you'd be. I see a friend of yours suggesting you build your own. Could you really?

Lately I've been writing Facebook words on my tablet, which is appropriate since neither is well suited to long messages. I mentioned the matter briefly on FB. Here's a dollop more with the real computer I use with E-mail.

Computers are made to connect, to cooperate with the world of computers. There are conventional plugs and signals so you can connect them and they work, pretty much but with some complications. Yes, it varies. Apple is less eager to connect than the various Wintel and Android makers are, and sometimes there are format wars for market domination, reminiscent of VHS vs Beta of ages ago. Recently Wikipedia took a wrong policy towards the current struggle between Google, Apple and Microsoft over video formats, and is now stuck with a fourth choice which hasn't a ghost of a chance of victory. Says me, anyway, but anyway in a couple years this will be settled just as past format wars have been won and lost and the new features got the power to connect together properly until the giants found some other improvement to fight about.

Cameras have never been made to fit each other. Every manufacturer makes a consistent line of products whose parts fit better than computer parts from different manufacturers fit together. But they don't even try to fit with other manufacturers and sometimes not with another line from the same manufacturer. Once you buy a camera body, any further lenses, remote controls, batteries, flashes (well, fancy flashes anyway) and many other parts and accessories have to come from that manufacturer. Okay, there are standards for film, memory card, tripod screw and some few other items.

Of course, nowadays cameras are computers, too, and many are made by a company that also makes more general computers, but cameras are special. They don't want to fit other things. They use special USB cables, special chargers, special every darn thing. Their software is custom made; there's no OS, so nobody can make improved apps like they make new apps for smartphones. Years ago I bought a Nikon P-6000 with Ethernet port. Lovely camera with good GPS but eventually I found out that the software only allows uploading photos to Nikon's own Web site. It can't send them to my computer or to Wikipedia or anything else.

This is for no reason, except that camera makers have always made their stuff to fit only with their own other stuff and not with the world, so they can harass their users forever with overcharges for add-ons. I can get a Wi-Fi add-on for my new Nikon P-520 but only from Nikon, and it can't work as a Webcam because the software doesn't have that feature and there's no way to add software features. Grr!

Some progress is underway. Samsung sells a Galaxy Camera that's also an Android tablet. It can run many apps, and uses a standard USB cable. But its case is designed to serve as an occasional tourist camera, not for a fanatic like me who needs greater handiness when bicycling. And I've been told its Android system has oddities that keep it from running some of the software that many Wikipedians favor. But Android cameras may become more commonplace, more diverse, and more computery. Then I'll be able to buy a physical camera with the optical capabilities and manual handiness I want, and add software that will serve my somewhat odd mapping and Wikipedia desires, and thus create the camera I want. Not this year, however, and probably not next.

Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 18:55

JB> With some of the small Canon cameras crowd sourced public software is available to have greater control.

Far as I see, this kind of effort is usually directed at increasing the photographic versatility of a small camera, to allow greater manual control for studious photographers to get a better picture using that particular hardware. They are working the problem from the camera end, and they aren't aiming in my direction. They won't aim my way, because the lack of OS narrows the software market and they're starting with a camera that sells only on the order of a million per year worldwide.

I have put considerable study into sharing, mainly via Wikipedia, and wish to go farther in that direction. My special concerns call for specialized software, mainly apps designed for geotagging and Wikipedia. Such narrowly directed apps that are made for a commonplace platform can be offered to users of consumer grade equipment whose numbers will in a few years approach a billion. Those devices run Android or iOS, each of which gets many millions of smartphone users every month, hundreds of whom may be interested.

The geotagging apps I want don't yet exist, not even for high end smartphones. I hope they will arrive in the next few years. Wikipedia apps, in contrast, are fairly plentiful and useful. Current versions leave much room for improvement. Here, my hopefulness verges on confidence.

The problem is, these apps only go into phones and tablets. Those are crummy cameras despite rapid progress in adding more pixels. Megapixels help make better prints; but don't do much for users like me who are only interested in putting pictures on screens. Some of the more expensive camera phones also have higher sensitivity, wider angles and other relevant qualities. Unfortunately phones in general are tied to particular carriers, and mixing an arbitrary fancy phone with a service that doesn't offer it, is usually impractical.

More important, at least for me, a phone or tablet is physically clumsy when used as a camera. The shape is a good fit for the primary use as phone, and not bad for used as computer. When held up as camera it's usually an awkward operation, due in part to a lack of a grip. Steering my bicycle with one hand while snapping a picture with the other is completely unworkable given my limited dexterity. They also lack something as simple as dual strap lugs for hanging from my neck. They're all intended to be pulled from a pocket by a wrist strap, at most. I don't expect any great progress in the manufacturers trying to move their smartphones in the direction of being cameras that can do what I want. It would be pleasant to be wrong.

However, there is hope in the other direction. Camera makers are moving more towards properly equipping low end products as Android tablets, as seen in http://www.theverge.com/2014/4/10/5598996/nikon-coolpix-s810c-android-camera-announced and I think some of the products of the next year or three will be better aimed at my wishes. Of course, they will continue to lack the connective power of a mobile phone. That means they can only upload their pictures and download maps where a Wi-Fi connection is available. The ability to get maps on the road will be sorely missed, unless someone makes a Wikipedia article mapping app that can store and use internal maps. Still, it will probably be much better for me than what exists this month.

Target mapsEdit

There has been some progress this summer in guiding Wikiphotographers to unphotographed places. They include a somewhat rough "Unvisited" app for Android and iOS, and two Wikimedia Labs pages: