New release features DST correction

kind visitor from the USA pointed out a bug in that daylight savings time was only being correctly applied for the initial starting location and not for locations you selected from the menu or locations reached by clicking on the map.

I was mulling how best to fix this when I came across the geonames project which has a great little webservice for turning latitude and longitude into timezone information. Adding this into the code has enabled me to correctly track daylight savings time as you move around the map and so the local times should now be accurate wherever you are looking on the map.

Enjoy …

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Hello Belgium, Denmark & Sweden!

I’m delighted to see so many visitors to the site from overseas, but today I’m wondering why I’m getting a huge traffic spike from our friends in Belgium, Denmark and today, Sweden. Have I been mentioned on the radio or something?

I’m most flattered by the attention, but I would love to know why so many of you are searching for this site at the moment?

Can anyone shed some light (ha!) on the matter??

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Google Rank #1

Just noticed that searching for golden hour on google brings this site up in position number one 🙂

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Swimming against the tide

Regular visitors (thanks!) will notice that I’ve taken the public flickr photographs offline and replaced them with a selection of my own photos. This is not what I desired, however the creative commons licensed images on flickr are simply not representative enough and the better images that you get when using the public API to search for public images sadly resulted in a DMCA take down notice as flickr think it is appropriate to return copyright images in that particular feed.

I might have lived with using just the creative commons images, despite the huge impact on performance (flickr do not yet make it easy to purge copyright images) but after seeing too many portraits of pets and black and white images that had nothing to do with the golden-hour, I decided that until another source of photos available for non-commercial use becomes available, the use of flickr images will be withdrawn.

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Tidy Up & Fixette

Some work to clean up the code, place javascript in external files and improve page loading times is complete – also this morning spotted (& fixed) a small calendar bug whereby the red “today” square could be displayed twice depending on the month layout.
Next development for the calendar is to localise the public holidays – at present it shows a UK format calendar and UK holidays although the underlying module supplying the data can in fact render this information for a range of countries around the world. Just need to map information returned by the geolocation code into the correct localisation – possibly using google maps API on location information, we’ll see.

Just need the time to do it…

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Unintended Consequences

Well what a day that’s been. Who’d have thought that innocently using the public flickr api to display public images on a personal website could cause such aggravation!

The issue arises from the fundamental flaw in flickr in that public images appear in all the rss feeds and default searches even when the owner has marked them as all rights reserved.

Now call me picky, but there seems an inherent conflict with uploading images to a public web service, marking the pictures as public, and then indicating that they are all rights reserved.

It seems to me that Flickr should take steps to prevent images that are all rights reserved from appearing in any feed unless they are being accessed by the owner’s api key. That would stop the problem dead and might encourage photographers to make more use of the creative commons licenses which give perfectly enforceable protection against commercial exploitation which is why some people seem to be so tetchy about it all.

Now I have no wish to offend anyone, so I spent the entire day coding a much more sophisticated feed for the photography page that checks the licence of each image to ensure it is not rights reserved. However, there are two unfortunate consequences of this.

The first is that the photo page is now much slower as instead of a single API call, I have to make over 72 to check rights and owner details of each image. I would implore Flickr to expose this information as standard in any API call that retrieves a result set of photos or simply stop protected images being exposed in the API.

Secondly, and more seriously, due to cross domain policy issues, I now have to proxy all the images through my server which means my bandwidth costs will rise, possibly to the point where the service has to dropped.

I think it would be a shame to have to drop it for that reason, however I may be left with no choice.

Hey ho …

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Well, here it is! The Golden Hour website is an idea I’ve had for over a year now as I’ve wanted an easy to use site that shows, in a visually interesting way, how this period of beautiful light around dawn and dusk is a) Not an hour long and b) Varies dramatically in length as you travel around the world and through the year.

Only now that I’ve left my previous company to found a new venture do I find that I’ve had the time, and the brain space so to speak to devote some energy to the project and finally realise something that I hope you might enjoy.

I must first of all thank the huge open source community without which the site in it’s present form wouldn’t be possible. The mapping technology comes from the OSGeo project and openlayers in particular and is a great tool for integrating a range of GIS services into your websites. I have chosen to use a Microsoft Virtual Earth layer as my main map, but this was purely an aesthetic choice and I could just as easily have used a google map or an open source one – heck I could even let you, the user, choose which map to view. It really is a great resource.

As indeed is the amazing freeearth project by poly9. They provide the 3D globe which is just as interactive as the 2D map – I could allow you to click to locations on it like the 2D one, but have chosen to have the globe gently track your location on the 2D map for now as the globe’s purpose on my site is to show the live position of the day-night terminator.

The client side of the site is powered by the amazing jQuery library without which the project would have taken me months, and not the week from start to finish that it actually took once I hunkered down to it.

Next there are the astronomical calculations. I confess I really want to rewrite all of this as the code I am using (which I have licensed from elsewhere) was designed several years ago for another purpose and has proved extraordinarily difficult to work with, indeed that has been my main challenge for this project. The rewrite will have to wait though as I have a day job to be doing that needs my time too!

Please do comment on the site as it has been your encouragement on other forums that have led to some tweaks already such as the extension to local time and the addition of the azimuth display – I’m happy to do more work to the site as time permits so do add some comments!

Roger Moffatt

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