Among my 50by50 goals, I have a series of inter-related ones called “get my sh** together”. Since those don’t look very nice as page titles, I’ve tweaked it a bit to make it a little more family-friendly (my son, Jacob, age 8, does read my blog, so I should clean up my act). And one thing that has annoyed me on the digital front for a very long time is my online photo gallery.
I won’t bore you with the long version of its sordid history, but the short rant is that I have a website (polywogg.ca) that I pay to host. And so I have my own domain, my own file area, relatively unlimited file storage related to the website (i.e. I can’t turn it into a cloud server, but for the purposes of a website, it’s open season). So I should be able to have a gallery for my personal pictures and video clips. But when it comes to video, almost all the basic hosters have the same limitation.
No hosting video.
If you want to have video on the site, you generally have to upload it to Vimeo or DailyMotion or Youtube (with the ownership and advertisement and privacy issues, oh my, that go along with these sites), and then link to it from your site by embedding the link in your post. It works really well, don’t get me wrong, but dealing with those video sites is a pain in the patootie. A few years ago, I was putting the videos in a password protected area of Vimeo or Dailymotion (I don’t even remember now which one it was), and linking them to a web gallery on my server, running Piwigo as the photo gallery with video embeds. It was working okay, I uploaded about 3000 photos, and then I ran into a problem with the hoster. They claimed it was Piwigo, and after a bunch of testing, frustration, and failure, I eventually killed the Piwigo site and moved everything — photos and video — to SmugMug. Like Flickr and others, it allows you to upload personal photos and videos and then share them. There are basic accounts that are free, but I would have quickly overwhelmed those limits, so I bit the bullet — and paid $80 / year to host everything at SmugMug.
Overall, it’s been great. It took me a while to get up and running, but eventually, I had it all working, so all good. Except it has still been costing me $80 a year when I’m *already paying to host a website elsewhere*. Grrr…oh, and about ten months ago, my workplace updated their firewall blacklist and SmugMug was on it (to prevent people streaming video to the office and sucking up bandwidth) — so when I do blog posts and paste pics from the site, the pics don’t show up in my articles when viewed from work or some other government sites. Which means some of my posts about HR that have pics in them don’t show properly. It has been on my list to fix, but a pain in the patootie to find an alternative, as the most likely alternative is finding somewhere where I could host everything. A new hoster, perhaps. There’s a small chicken-and-egg loop in there, move the site or move the pics, and I’ve not bothered to fix it.
As I said, most basic hosters don’t allow video. They are afraid because video can drastically suck their bandwidth, which they can’t afford to do on basic sites at basic rates. And they don’t want to charge someone $5 / month and have them start streaming movies and trailers for the masses. Except that’s not what I’m doing. I have a few personal videos per month that when posted might get watched by up to five or six people, and then it will sit dormant most of the time. Low bandwidth, nothing major. I know that, the hosters don’t, so they have general policies that say “no video” and they block it internally on the site for all their hosting accounts.
So imagine my surprise recently when I tried a video on my WordPress site and it not only uploaded, stored and loaded on a page, it actually played. WTF? It isn’t blocked? But I know it violates the general terms of service, so I contacted them and asked the question. Maybe I pay them a bit more each month or year so I could host a bit of low bandwidth video on my site? I’m paying SmugMug $80 a year; anything less than that, or potentially even a little more with it fully integrated with my website, and I’d be in digital heaven.
Their response? No extra charge, as long as it is low bandwidth, go ahead. Hallelujah and pass the upload app!