Tag Archives: photobucket

Photobucket Apocalypse: What I Learned about Taking Things for Granted

Writing is my core creative outlet, but it’s not my only creative outlet. Even though I don’t advertise it much on this blog, I also have a side hobby in making computer games. In particular, I have a business adventure I’ve been working on (read: picking at) since May 2009, called Entrepreneur: The Beginning, about a recent high school graduate who must defend his honor against the preppy jock who stole his girlfriend by engaging in a cutthroat game of business. The year is 1985, time travelers from the future have recently entered the town of Hybrid City, and our teenage protagonist, Buck Star, must leverage their need for coffee (and other products eventually) to launch an empire and earn enough money in 60 days to win his bet against Chet Armstrong, and maybe get the girl back? Or, maybe just find himself a new girlfriend? It’s up to the player really.

Here’s a recent screenshot:

coffee10192

Well, I keep a blog about this game over on Slime Salad, a forum for indie game-making, in a thread called “Entrepreneur Central,” and in this blog I post news about progress, screenshots, and videos of new mechanics I want to show off. It’s pretty high-tech. (Not really.) For years I’ve been updating this blog, and for years I’ve been using a nifty little website called Photobucket to host my screenshots, as Slime Salad, for years, had no self-hosting of images, and only recently began allowing for a terribly formatted version of self-hosted images.

Basically, I liked that Photobucket could cast true-to-size images in context to the text about the features each image portrays, and do so with the simple copying and pasting of an image link. It’s quite beautiful.

I’ve been using Photobucket in this way for years, showing off numerous promotional type screenshots of Entrepreneur: The Beginning, a few of my other games-in-progress, my book covers, and on rare occasions, images of something that went wrong in the game (or engine it’s built on) to troubleshoot the problem. I’ve got maybe a couple hundred of images posted on these forums, all in forums I’ve since forgotten about, but are still easily accessible by anyone looking for information.

Because I’ve been using this free service for years to keep my “fans” in the know without issue, you can imagine my surprise when in early July I got an email from Photobucket stating that I’m in violation of their third-party hosting terms.

I thought, what?

I didn’t explore it any deeper. I figured it was a mistake, and I went on about my day. I got no further notice from Photobucket.

Fast-forward to late July, when I return to “Entrepreneur Central” to play catchup on announcements I’ve made in the last year, and discover that all of my beautiful screenshots advertising the game and its newest features have been converted to this:

photobucket apocalypse

I thought, what? So, I signed on to Photobucket to see what in the world they’re on about, and discovered that their free hosting service is still free (with the usual upgrade packages for unnecessary inflation of storage space that I’ll never need), but their third-party hosting rules have changed so that you not only have to pay for it now, but you have to buy their most expensive package to use it.

I shook my head. They now want me to pay $40 a month or $400 a year to display the images I’ve already posted in various forums around the web. These places get little traffic, and “Entrepreneur Central” gets hardly anything, and bandwidth problems are not a factor with my photos. Yet, I’m now supposed to pay money I don’t have to keep my photos on display, something I’ve done for free without any problems for years.

Screw that. I’ll sign on with Imgur, or just use the forum’s crappy image self-hosting feature instead. I’m just irritated that I now have to figure out which images I’ve used for those screenshots (I can’t see them anymore, after all), which threads and forums I’ve posted images to, locate them on my hard drive, and reupload them to a new hosting site and relink them in those same threads I’ve posted tens or hundreds of photos to.

It’s a time-sink, and I’m demotivated by it, and I’m tempted just to scrap the whole idea and leave those shell images in place.

I write this story to prove a point. In my travels through marketing lessons, I’ve learned one core message above all others: Don’t put all of your trust into a single corporation to handle your advertising or marketing needs (or, for that matter, your social needs). Amazon and Facebook might handle the brunt of your sales traffic or existing clientele, and their advertising services may work beautifully in automation today. But all the experts say not to trust any of these companies to feed you forever, and you should always have a backup system in place in case the algorithms, plans, or procedures change and your financial (or social) well dries up.

I think the Photobucket Apocalypse is proof of that.

We can put our faith in God in all things, but for everything and everyone else, they have limited reach and unpredictable behavior. It’s best to have side roads in place on your path to success if you’re trying to make a name or presence for yourself.

I think it’s safe to say this applies to all elements of life. You know that job you have that you love? If someone else is in charge of it, you probably don’t want to get too attached to it. If you want to continue to sell things to people, have a backup mailing list that you control. How’s your love life? Have you taken it for granted yet? These things should be obvious, but all the heartbreak in the world proves we’re still trusting in too many things, people, and corporations that don’t deserve our trust.

Don’t take anything you have for granted. Treat it all like it’s a gift. You don’t know when you’ll lose it. Even if that sounds like a cliché, remember that clichés are born from perpetual truth. You can’t make a cliché out of something that has low relevance. Don’t take anything you have for granted. Even Photobucket might turn on you eventually and screw up your entire system without warning you first that it’s about to hold your images for ransom.

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Calendar of Upcoming Posts: August – September 2017

As I said last week in Friday Update #10, the four-month silence of Drinking Cafe Latte at 1pm is coming to an end, and a new slate of posts, series, and big ideas is on the way. Although this may not represent the entire span of things I have planned in the coming month, here is a working schedule of content postings you can expect soon.

August 23, 2017: The Marketing Author 001, Part 11
The emotional recovery hiatus I spent away from writing happened during the weekly stint of The Marketing Author 001 postings, and for months it looked like I would never finish the series. Well, I did, last night. The next installment about finding experts to guide you along your authorship path debuts tomorrow night at 7pm EST.

August 24, 2017: Photobucket Apocalypse
A heart wrenching story about what happened to my online promotional screenshots of a project I’ve been working on for years, wrapped in a lesson about trusting third parties to handle our content and essentially giving them the basket in which we put all of our eggs into. It’s a lesson we can all learn from.

August 30, 2017: The Marketing Author 001, Part 12
The Marketing Author 001 series reaches its conclusion, giving aspiring authorpreneurs encouragement to take a chance on the independent authoring business and have some confidence about the outcome, even if success takes a while.

August 31, 2017: New Entry into the My First Mullet Saga
Although the plot is a secret, at the end of August the next terrifying installment in the ongoing My First Mullet series will make its debut exclusively on Drinking Cafe Latte at 1pm. But to give you a teaser, this time both man and mullet are forced to confront a force that could ultimately destroy them both. Has their war pushed them into the face of a new common enemy?

September 4, 2017: The Art of Censorship
Based on a concern I’ve had as a writer for years, this likely controversial essay will attempt to call out a writer’s responsibility to show authenticity in his or her writing, regardless of how it might be negatively or positively received by people with opinions. This may or may not be split into two parts, depending on length. If it becomes two essays, the second will be released the following evening. For now I plan to keep it as one complete piece. As writers, we need to consider the truths we write about. This essay will attempt to show why that matters.

September 6, 2017: The Marketing Author 001, Part 13
The true final installment in The Marketing Author 001 series, this bonus chapter will offer a list of recommended software to use during your foray into independent authorship. This list includes Microsoft Word and Scrivener, but promises to go beyond just the word processors to help you build a toolbox for future success.

September 7, 2017: Using Scrivener for Game Design
Two years ago, I wrote a first impressions article about Scrivener, but I never wrote the second half of that piece. This isn’t that second half, but it is a new idea for how an untapped market can use Scrivener to its advantage. Even though it won’t outright say so, the theme of this essay is to be creative in how you use software to your advantage, regardless of your industry. Even if you don’t design games, you should still read this for ideas.

September 13 – 15, 2017: Write at Your Own Risk…Er, Pace
A three-part essay exploring the importance of developing quality writing versus the commonly advised approach to rush independently produced books out the door within a month or two of conceiving the idea. This will also double as my postmortem of what happened and will soon happen to my novel, The Computer Nerd. Don’t miss it.

And this is just what’s on the planner. I also aim to produce a number of book reviews for my summer reading list (and many of the books I’ve read in the last few years that I’ve never reviewed), and will hopefully post those one after another throughout the coming month.

In late September, I hope, hope, hope to be ready to launch a series I’ve been wanting to do for the last year-and-a-half, which I’ve been putting off because I didn’t quite know how I wanted to tackle it. But I think I’m just about ready to give it a whirl. I’ll talk more about that soon enough.

So, please come back each evening to see these latest posts. With the exception of “The Art of Censorship,” all of the above posts are written and scheduled for release, and will only be tweaked between now and their live dates. So, they are coming. Look for each one to go live between 7:00 and 8:30 pm EST on their respective release dates. Feedback is welcome. Looking forward to seeing you then.

Please be sure to subscribe to Drinking Café Latte at 1pm to receive alerts when new posts go live. The handy blue subscription button is located at the bottom of this page.

Cover image by Pixabay