Saturday, 8 September 2012

Memories of Japan

While procrastinating I ended up going through pictures from my travels in Japan. Below is a small selection of photos I don't think I ever shared before. It is very tempting to revisit the entire folder and see if what I've learned about post-processing in the last 18 months could bring new life to the collection!

Google+ versus Facebook for photographers

I don't promote my photography heavily or work hard on networking with other photographers, but I do post on social media sites and over time I've noticed a shift in how photo posts are received.

Take a fairly mediocre macro shot like this:

The original had some issues with the composition but it stood out from the rest of the set because of the escaping bubble which I quite liked. A crop, rotate and slight tint improved it sufficiently that I thought it would be ok to publish, so it went up on Facebook and G+. The results are shown below.

The reaction on Facebook

The feedback on G+

While the comment rate was similar, six times more +1's were received than Likes. While I do have about 40% more followers on G+ than I have friends on Facebook, this does not suffice to explain the difference in response. I do not use restrictive privacy settings.

The main differences I can think of are:

- G+ gives a nearly full screen view of the image, while Facebook reserves considerable horizontal width for the description, comments, etc. The image looks better on G+.

- Reaching the right audience for each post is easier on G+ using hash tags, circles and events than on Facebook. There seems to be a strong self-organizing photography community on G+.

- People seem to be losing interest in Facebook, especially since the much-maligned migration to the timeline. The accounts remain active but public participation (sharing, commenting and liking) seems to be dwindling.

The second point, reaching the right audience, strikes me as being most important here. For me there is no doubt that if I was only going to be posting about photography in one place, then it would be G+.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Ticket to Ride Europe

One of my friends brought Ticket to Ride : Europe to our board game night. He was the only one who had played before, with the other three players (myself included) being complete novices. Rules were explained in a few minutes, with a few special cases (tunnels & ferries) taking up about half of that time. The game concept is immediately obvious from just glancing at the board and although there are some considerations about how the colours, tickets etc interact we could dive right in.

The game was fast-paced, slowing down only when players drew new tickets and needed a few minutes to figure out which of the three cards to retain (at least one, but up to three can be kept). Ongoing scoring was quick and there was competition for longest track by all players except myself throughout the game. I dropped out as soon Amsterdam-Essen was developed by another player as I judged it a lost cause at that point.

The game ends one turn after a player hits 2 or less remaining trains and this turned out to add a lot of tension in the last few rounds. Whenever one of my competitors drew cards instead of placing trains it was a huge relief as I was working on one last ticket. In the end I didn't make it as the game ended while I was still missing the Moskva-Smolensk connection to complete the Rostow-Smolensk ticket.

Final scoring for tickets easily doubles player scores, with huge swings for incomplete tickets. We had one player with an incomplete 21-point ticket, giving him a massive penalty without which he would have undoubtedly won the game. This means that while players can have a points lead throughout the game the winner is never obvious and tension remains high. Finals scores were 108-106-100-95 so it was a fairly tight distribution.

Overall this is an enjoyable and approachable game that I'd recommend for casual gamers. We'll almost certainly play it again and it will be interesting to see if the game holds up to repeat play.