Reminiscences: the LightZombie Project


Posting rules: It shouldn't need saying, but... play nice. Please keep your discussions civil. You can disagree, just don't be disagreeable. And, of course, all of the usual stuff like no spamming. Tex adds: I'll be rigorously enforcing this as we go along. We're probably going to be a small community in a little lifeboat, so we can't have members at each others' throats. This is for the sake of the project as a whole. So when you post, pretend you're speaking in person with your very wealthy auntie who has always treated you wonderfully and currently lists you prominently in her will. I won't be tossing anyone out of the forums because we are all in this together (except spammers: immediate membership cancelation), but I'll delete suspect posts right away.


In a few days, the LightZombie Project will be replaced by something much grander. Right now it's a caterpillar in its chrysalis, undergoing the transformation into a butterfly. This seems like an appropriate time to look back over the history of the project — a history that is essentially complete.

  • September 20, 2011: I notice that lightcrafts.com is down and drop a note to tex.
  • September 26, 2011: tex posts on DPReview, "I have had 2 indirect indications that this time it is not a good sign."
  • October 2, 2011: tex emails me that "It's not good news."
  • October 17, 2011: I put in a trouble-ticket at eSellerate asking if LightZone activations will continue. The immediate response was essentially, "we're looking into it," and no final response was ever given.
  • October 23, 2011: I've got most of the dcraw modifications running, but there's one difference I can't pin down.
  • October 25, 2011: I've located the installation files on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
  • November 3, 2011: The LightZombie Project is born. I find the last change needed for dcraw and advise tex that we'll be able to provide updates to the Raw-file support — I've updated LightZone dcraw from the version 8.99 that was shipped with LZ 3.9 to the then-current version 9.11. We agree on the LightZombie name. I start building the github site, and tex starts acquiring domain names and hosting.
  • November 7, 2011: The LightZombie github site is operational, and I've figured out how to recover lost registration keys.
  • November 8, 2011: I set up @LightZombie on Twitter while tex begins assembling an email list.
  • November 15, 2011: We choose Drupal as our web-site software. I begin installing and configuring it. We seem to be having some DNS problems.
  • November 17, 2011: The lightzombie.org web site goes LIVE! DNS problems are keeping some people from reaching the site. Despite those problems, 34 members sign up that first day.
  • November 18, 2011: I set up a temporary fix for the DNS problems.
  • November 20, 2011: The LightZombie Project has 50 members signed up.
  • December 8, 2011: I come up with a fix for Mac users having trouble with non-ASCII characters in XML.
  • December 24, 2011: I create a new modification to dcraw to handle Fuji EXR sensors.
  • January 2, 2012: Updated LightZone's dcraw to version 9.12, with EXR support. The LightZombie Project has 100 members signed up.
  • January 3, 2012: Logs show that two-dozen people did the initial sign-up for the site but didn't click the link in the email confirmation. I find out that many email systems have blacklisted the server that lightzombie.org is running on. I send out emails from my own account to help get those people registered. I continue to send personal emails for later (non-spammer) sign-ups who fail to click the email confirmation link.
  • January 6, 2012: I release a Ruby script to help produce initial Raw Tone Curve files from Q13 charts such as in DPReview's studio scenes.
  • January 8, 2012: I release a Ruby script to help produce initial Raw Tone Curve files from Gretag-Macbeth Color Checkers such as in Imaging Resource's test photos.
  • January 13, 2012: I update Wikipedia's listing for LightZone to include a link to the LightZombie Project. After that, Wikipedia becomes our #1 source of referrals.
  • January 28, 2012: Moved the site to new hosting, which eliminated the various stability problems we'd been having, and also the problem of blacklisted emails.
  • March 5, 2012: The LightZombie Project has 150 members signed up.
  • June 19, 2012: Updated LightZone's dcraw to version 9.15 (9.13 and 9.14 weren't ever released by Dave Coffin).
  • July 1, 2012: Updated LightZone's dcraw to version 9.16.
  • July 5, 2012: Updated LightZone's dcraw to the new version 9.16 released by Dave Coffin.
  • July 19, 2012: Avangate is no longer selling new license keys for LightZone.
  • July 31, 2012: The LightZombie Project has 200 members signed up.
  • August 19, 2012: Significantly increased attacks by spammers force us to approve newly-registered members.
  • November 17, 2012: Anton Kast joins the project. It's been one year, to the day, since the LightZombie site went live.
  • December 13, 2012: The LightZombie Project has 250 members signed up.
  • December 21, 2012: End of the world. Just kidding.

On October 17, 2011, I wasn't even thinking about starting a project — just trying to figure out if I should start looking for an alternative to LightZone, or if LZ was still viable. Just one month later, the LightZombie Project was live.

Over the thirteen months that the LightZombie Project has been running, we've provided 57 new Raw Tone Curve files, 24 of which were custom-created by me and 1 by AdrianP.

Back when tex and I started the LightZombie Project, we didn't know how it was going to turn out. It was just something that we both felt needed to be done, and we were the ones who could (and would) do it. There's never been any attempt to monetize the project: the site has no advertising, we don't sell anything, we didn't even get affiliate commissions on the sales through Avangate. I haven't personally received nor put out a single cent on the project — just my time and effort. tex hasn't received any money, either, but has been paying the web-hosting costs out of his own pocket.

Now, we know how the LightZombie Project is going to turn out: in the best possible way.

I can't speak for tex, but I'm proud as can be of the part I played in this, and I'm grateful to everyone who's stuck with us through the Dark Ages since Light Crafts ceased operation. Thanks, everyone.

tex
Count me as amazed.

I've done not all that much but cheerlead, send out a couple of mailings, minorly tamper with the website, and front some minor funds for this project, which I agree with Doug completely has been well worth it. And now it looks like it's going to actually pay off (not in a monetary sense, but in other more important ways). Doug should be proud! I thank all of our members so far---more coming in almost daily, now---but especially I thank Doug for his perseverance above and beyond the call of duty. Yes, grander things are coming, and something you don't see all that often. Some exciting times ahead, I reckon.

texascbx
Great news

Thanks for all you have done. I can't wait. Well, I guess I can. But it's some nice Christmas news for sure.

bink
Indeed: great news

Doug and tex,

thank you for keeping the Lights On

regards,

peter
(the netherlands)

levelbest
Glad to hear it, but why can't I post new topics?

I just found this forum today, love it. I loved LZ and still go to it for corrections. Sad that it was let go but I had a dilly of a time getting re-registered a while back, this explains why. I want to post on the wish list forums, or the general discussions forums but I get the "You are not allowed to post new content in this forum".

The only thing I would wish for would be a way to use left and right arrow keys to move through photos after I edit them. In edit mode it's just one photo at at time and them I have to go back to browser. Nice if I could stay in edit mode (once I select the batch I want to look at and edit) and just use the forward and back arrows for that while in edit.

From what I am reading I dont think this will be anything anyone can do unless there is a release of the open source code (which may be immanent from what I have been reading here). Sorry if these comments are in the wrong place but, that was part of my commenting, I cant comment where I am supposed to comment. Thanks to all for all the hard work and the shared passion, LZ really was/is a unique product. - David

Doug
Posting

Hi David, and welcome to the project. Due to heavy attacks by spammers, we've had to require posting approval from admins for new members. Due to some quirks in Drupal — the software we're using — comments can be added pending approval, but all-new postings can't. Yes, that's a bit strange.

Anyway, you're all approved now, so feel free to add new forum topics. And once again, welcome to the project.

sattvakarma
the effort is appreciated!

Thanks to both Doug and Tex in keeping the LZ movement going!

Best wishes for the holiday season!

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