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A combination of reviewing the Cemetech Archives screenshots directory and having added a filesize field to the Admin Control Panel for moderating uploaded files has led me to realize that a few users are creating truly ridiculously large screenshots. Here is a sample list of things that are not acceptable:

:: A 1.3MB screenshot because you spend 4 minutes screenshotting you scrolling though source code
:: A 400KB screenshot that is a 600x400 bitmap blown up from 96x64 and renamed to .gif
:: A 2.3MB screenshot of 20 seconds of a game because the screenshot settings are ridiculously high

Although Cemetech has a fair amount of resources at its disposal, I want to make it last indefinitely far into the future, and the slower I can make the overall size of the site grow, the longer I can push off the inevitable move from shared hosting to (very much more expensive) dedicated hosting. Here are some tips to make good screenshots:

:: Don't upload 4 animated screenshots; besides being large, it's distracting. Perhaps two animated screenshots that highlight game or program features, and two static screenshots.
:: All screenshots should be monochrome or low-palette-size color GIFs. Do not rename PNGs or BMPs to GIF. Use a low-color setting in WabbitEmu, for example three or four colors instead of eight or nine.
:: Use a low framerate, like 7FPS instead of 22FPS. You can't even see high framerates on the calculator; why waste space and bandwidth on unnecessary data?
:: People generally will look at screenshots to get the simplest feeling for the look-and-feel. You don't need to (and shouldn't!) show off every feature and a full walkthrough in your screenshot.

I hope this clarifies some confusion. I've deleted a few of the worst offenders summarily, and will try to write a small integrity module to fix the broken images by removing their anchors. As always, if you want a screenshot added or re-added, please feel free to ask me. If you have a file still sitting in the pending queue, chat with me, but things will go faster if you try to make a smaller screenshot and get it to me.

Edit, March 2012: That integrity module exists now, btw.
I noticed ticalc.org still has a notice saying "Please upload only black and white screenshots in .GIF format!" but nobody does that anymore... I guess I should start paying attention to how big I make my screenshots now.
Deep Thought wrote:
I noticed ticalc.org still has a notice saying "Please upload only black and white screenshots in .GIF format!" but nobody does that anymore... I guess I should start paying attention to how big I make my screenshots now.
Yup, it makes life better for everyone, not the least of whom are the visitors who have to load whatever screenshots you uploaded through their potentially limited internet connections.
Deep Thought wrote:
I noticed ticalc.org still has a notice saying "Please upload only black and white screenshots in .GIF format!" but nobody does that anymore... I guess I should start paying attention to how big I make my screenshots now.


The information on the file upload form (like all kinds of other places on the site) could use an update. Wink I've been thinking of looking into updating it and adding a lot of other information users tend to miss (you don't have to reupload screenshots on an update, you must be author of uploads, the “comments to archiver” field is actually optional Very Happy, etc.)

“Black and white or low-color” sounds like a good rule to go by for PC programs and now that we're seeing calculators with color screens.

But yes, please watch the size of the screenshots (file size and pixel size). It's annoying to have to manually resize 96,000-by-64,000-pixel TI-83+/84+ images and repost them. I often do that if I'm feeling nice, but occasionally I may just reject and not bother. Razz
Travis, with the number of programs that you guys have to deal with, I would certainly understand if you simply rejected screenshots that are ginormous. I must confess that I have occasionally submitted color screenshots of computer programs, or once even a photograph of a hardware setup (for the CALCnet whitepaper), greatly flaunting the rules. :/ I think I'm at least starting to get through to some of the Cemetech authors at last that screenshots must be made with some care.
Travis, I was wondering if you ever happened to make something more formal along these lines? I'd be happy to work with you from the programming or FAQ-writing side if there's anything I can do to help.
I don't really have a set-in-stone set of guidelines at this point. It's currently pretty much just an on-the-fly “does it seem to look more-or-less reasonable” decision-making process.

The most common problem I have to deal with currently is excessively-enlarged screenshots. I already use a tacked-on shell script to automatically attempt converting to GIF format as necessary (though the upload form still needs to be modified to accept any file extension), just haven't gotten around to trying to implement some sort of automatic resizer.
That makes sense, Travis, and it sounds like that's a fair way to do things. I fly by the seat of my pants as far as making Cemetech screenshot decisions at this point, too. However, let me know if you ever get around to an automated screenshot-adjusting script for ticalc.org, and I'll let you know if I ever write one for Cemetech; perhaps we could pool resources in some way.
Okay. I'm kind of facing a tough decision at the moment, since I've also had an ultimate dream of designing a brand new file archive system for ticalc.org from scratch for quite a while now. Although probably not something obvious to users, it's painfully clear to staff members like me who use the admin tools and have to maintain the archives that it could badly use a great big overhaul. Very Happy There are many limitations that hold back the development of new features and such. So it comes down to, should I delay my ultimate dream (which may also increase the risk of my never accomplishing it) but make some small improvements to the existing ancient system sooner, or do I continue to put up with all of the shortcomings for an indefinite period so I can focus on the research and work of building a new system that would be a vast improvement as well as fixing all of the existing problems in one fell swoop?
Sorry for thread necromancy, but I think you should make it clear that it is not necessary to include a second copy of your animated screenshots in your zip file nor filling your readme.doc with a crapload of BMP decorations and screenshots. When I download a calculator game, I don't want to spend 4 MB of my precious monthly bandwidth only to find out that I just downloaded a 2 KB menu-based RPG that was disguised as a super epically awesome RPG.
I totally agree. I don't understand when people pack all of their screenshots into their zip files, and I strongly discourage non-plaintext or PDF readmes these days.
KermMartian wrote:
I totally agree. I don't understand when people pack all of their screenshots into their zip files, and I strongly discourage non-plaintext or PDF readmes these days.


I saw this bump and thought I was getting in trouble, and then I read the topic and was like "Very Happy I'm not as bad as all those crazy people....I use PNG!"
For you, I actually JPG'd your screenshots and shrank them down a bit. Smile Hope you don't shank me for it.
KermMartian wrote:
I totally agree. I don't understand when people pack all of their screenshots into their zip files, and I strongly discourage non-plaintext or PDF readmes these days.

But everybody has WordStar^W Ami Pro^W^W WordPerfect^W Word on their computers!

Word documents (or files produced by any word processor du jour) are not document distribution formats! HTML, PDF, and especially plain text are designed for distribution.
KermMartian wrote:
I totally agree. I don't understand when people pack all of their screenshots into their zip files, and I strongly discourage non-plaintext or PDF readmes these days.
Darn, I've been guilty of that on so many counts...

Often it's because I'm lazy and zip the entire folder (instead of just the files relevant to the actual game). And I've had a history of creating enormous GIF files Neutral

Thanks for the tip.
christop wrote:
HTML, PDF, and especially plain text are designed for distribution.


This. PDF should be encouraged if it's not outrageously large.
If people are uploading screenshots that are too large, then can't you just make it reject large screenshots or resize them to a smaller size? I don't mean to be pessimistic, but a lot of people may not read this thread and do it anyways.
amihart wrote:
If people are uploading screenshots that are too large, then can't you just make it reject large screenshots or resize them to a smaller size? I don't mean to be pessimistic, but a lot of people may not read this thread and do it anyways.
Indeed, and then we reject their files and point them to this thread. Wink Resizing is difficult, because the large screenshots are usually long animated GIFs rather than images with large dimensions.
  
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