I searched for images of “awesome” and found… the definition of it. A year ago, I thought Getty Images was the overpriced Rolls-Royce of stock imagery – the unattainable ideal of world-class, top-of-the-line photographic illustration. It felt exclusive and stuffy and snobbish. Rightfully so; good stock photography is not easy, or cheap, and I am all for copyright protection and paying full value for creative work. I don’t begrudge photographers one penny of the I just couldn’t justify spending that kind of money on my little blogging hobby. Worldwide rights for two years’ use of a single photo of a diamond – just one image I chose at random – could easily run $2,965.00.
I’ll take a photo of my own engagement ring with my cell phone, thanks.
And so I could but stare longingly through the window, feeling inadequate…
For the most part, I’m content to take my own photos for this blog. After all, it’s mine – my writing, my photos, and however imperfect, it’s something I can be proud of. When I can’t find an illustration that fits, I’m fine with words, and words alone. But friends and colleagues constantly remind me that it’s a visual world – that a picture is worth a thousand words. I have cried myself to sleep over that expression.
My manager put it more kindly, saying that the pictures are more like…bait for the hook.
Pass the tissues. I can live with that. And just this week, I learned that Getty Images has flung wide the doors to the eye-candy shop. We poor, image-challenged bloggers can now embed “tens of millions” of expensive, gorgeous, awesome images to illustrate our posts – for free. Not ugly, watermarked, second-rate, super-low-res versions, either. Getty has made it so easy that it would be adding unnecessary work to download and use professional images without proper permission and attribution. See that little button under the image – that < / > embed button? You can grab it right here for your blog, too. But you can also go to http://www.gettyimages.com/ and find the perfect image to complement your post.
While I’m at it, I want to give a gorgeous shout-out to my daughter:
It’s been a long time coming, but corporations are, I think, starting to “get it” when it comes to social media. Some still play the playground bully without even realizing they’re driving the other kids to build secret forts and hideaways just to avoid them. But others seem to understand that one of the reasons we go to the playground is to have fun – not to be blasted with commercials and “messaging” that doesn’t fit our needs and wants.
Some Awesome for Your Ears, Too
Spotify got me hooked a couple of years ago. It was the Klout Perk that put them on my radar, but I was initially unimpressed. I signed up, looked around, and left. Then they opened it up to sharing tracks on Facebook. I saw that, and decided to revisit the site. I realized it had been a long time since I’d listened to music. I began to poke around and was delighted to find an eclectic mix of tunes that suited my tastes and moods. I hadn’t even turned on my car radio in a year, and wasn’t missing it. But I started to explore Spotify, to share old favorites on Facebook as a sort of generational code. You know, “How was work today?”
“Oh. That bad, eh?”
See what I did there? Oh, yeah – if you’re on WordPress, all you have to do is paste the URL and you’ve got a soundtrack for your blog. You can share songs and playlists just by pasting the URL. But what I really loved about Spotify was the fact that I could play my own choices – not just “discover” similar stuff. Look, when your playlist includes The Flying Lizards, Lily Allen, Basshunter, The Chad Mitchell Trio, and Tom Lehrer, what do you think Pandora does with that? Throws up its hands and moans, “Mercy! I give!”? (Okay, it was thanks to Pandora that I found The Chad Mitchell Trio. Honest, I’m not that old. But I hate waiting around another two hours for them to show up again.) Oh, this is such a
Then I noticed there was an app – for my Windows phone. Do you know how awesome that is? I love my Windows phone, by the way – I’d rather bitch than switch, at this point. I glare resentfully at sites that advertise apps on iTunes and Google Play, and forget we Windows phone users are here at all. Well, foo to you, too. I signed up for the monthly premium plan and discovered that headphones and Spotify can help to create solitude in a noise-polluted world. It has taken a while to get used to writing with music, but it beats writing to the background noise of television and my son’s Skype calls with gamer friends. Not that I’m knocking my son or his gamer friends – after all, he introduced me to one of the best writing soundtracks I’ve found, yet, and it’s from Final Fantasy, so… yeah.
I walked into the Houston Grand Prix with my phone on full volume, playing this:
Yeah, I’m a dork.
My car is souped up with apps for the iPhone, but I’m not switching phones just because Honda plays favorites. It’s the only thing I dislike about my Accord, and I try to remind myself that the built-in iPhone connectedness is just a nice little extra for those folks – not bigotry and discrimination against everyone who chooses a differently wired carrier.
But doing social right isn’t just about selling, selling, selling. It’s about sticking around and being there for customers after the sale. Last night, I was a little peeved because the background noise was distracting me and setting my teeth on edge. I wanted to write, but my brain felt pulled in ten directions at once. Even a little after-dinner coffee wasn’t helping me to focus. I opened up Spotify and it refused to connect. Error code 101. There was a helpful little link. I clicked it. It suggested checking my connection – which seemed just fine – and then doing a clean install of the application.
Two words I despise: “Re-install” and “clean image.” Stuff should just work. Ideally, it should just work the way you expect it to. Imagine if you put bread in your toaster and it spit out sardines. And then told you you’d have to spend thirty minutes re-wiring the toaster to get a croissant. Well, that’s how it felt, anyway. I was already testy, so while I waited – about thirty minutes just for the old application to uninstall – I shared the pain with @SpotifyCares. Another two hours in – I gave up after the installer appeared to hang for two hours – I was ready to give up. I had plenty of time to check the billing schedule, read how most everything I do on Spotify (including mobile access) is now free, and wonder why I’m paying for Premium. But after uninstalling – which involved stopping the process that was going nowhere, restarting the PC, and redownloading and running the installer – I finally got the thing working again. I went to bed. No writing accomplished, really.
This morning, I found some lovely, helpful replies from @SpotifyCares, which you can read if you follow the links below. Courteous, helpful, friendly, and fun – and like me, they communicate in playlist code. They’ve won me over – again.