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Announcing sansmirror.com

Today I'm happy to announce that I've taken the first step in redoing this Web site. Wait, nothing seems to have changed!

Yes, it has. Beginning today, you're going to find that bythom.com just became two Web sites (and those of you paying close attention to the new site will notice that there will be further bifurcation shortly). The new Web site is sansmirror.com, and that's now the home of all current and future news, commentary, reviews, and information I write about small system cameras. That includes the Nikon 1, the Olympus Pens, the Panasonic G's, the Samsung NXes, the Sony NEXes, and a number of other small systems cameras. For the time being, the site is headed "byThom sans Mirror" so that you know it's still me, but eventually this will just be "sans Mirror."

One of the issues I found when trying to revise the bythom.com site is that it was sprawling, and rapidly. We're talking about hundreds of long-form articles and thousands of short-form ones. My interests in photography and high tech are wide and deep. Yours probably aren't. Moreover, your requests for even more articles and information from me dot a horizon from one end of tech to the other. Thus, more and more, people were having to wade through a lot of things they weren't interested in to find what they were.

Beyond that, everything needed at least a Web 2.0 makeover, if not Web 3.0. You'll note that sansmirror.com has RSS, social sharing, separate formatting from content, and a host of other modern features, which many of you have been asking for. Despite what it's actually produced in (Sandvox), the site content actually lives in a database, which makes it easier to maintain and expand.

If you're interested in compact systems cameras that aren't DSLRs, you'll want to check out sansmirror.com thoroughly and keep coming back to it, as it's now a live site that gets as much of my attention as bythom.com. If you're not interested in such cameras, you can just ignore the site (though I'd strongly suggest you take a look--there's more going on with these cameras than you might think, and most DSLR users are going to want a competent compact system if they don't already have one.)

For the time being, I'm keeping the reviews and articles that have already appeared about mirrorless systems on bythom.com intact; I've removed nothing from the bythom.com site at the moment. But as I continue working on my Internet presence, these will eventually go away so that this site has a more clear focus.

So what else is in store? Obviously, a lot. I'll be rolling site changes out in manageable pieces for the foreseeable future. There's an awful lot left to do. As I finish a new piece, I'll announce it here. One thing you'll note with sansmirror.com is that there is new material there. Lots of it. Yes, I've been collecting and writing tons of new material for my entire Web presence, including this one. However, rather than rolling that into the now tired bones of bythom.com, I've been keeping it for the rollout of the new sites and the complete re-do of this one.

To be clear, sansmirror.com will be where all news, reviews, commentary, and information about the Nikon 1, Olympus and Panasonic m4/3, Sony NEX, and a host of other small interchangeable lens cameras (Samsung NX, Ricoh GXR, Pentax Q, etc.) will be found in the future. You won't find those articles cluttering up bythom.com in the future.

I'll have additional announcements soon. Trust me, it should all make more sense when I've made the full set of changes to my Internet presence. You'll be able to drink from the fire hose (everything I write), or find the drinking fountain with the water you prefer (individual sites).

One thing that all this Internet rethink does allow is for me to consider adding other voices and contributors. Your continued support will help me do that, so please don't forget those Support this Site links.
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47 comments
 
Glad you're modernizing. Your content is great. Lack of site modernity was my only complaint.
 
Good to hear, your current site is a stumble away from an antiquated BBS, no offense of course ;~}
 
Interesting idea. I hope you have more success than Netflix.
 
Make a Nikon D800 39 Megapixel 16bit rumor page and you could retire on the ad space... Just Sayin'
 
+Richard Gershberg Given that they have 10's of millions of customers and are very profitable, that's wishing me one heck of a lot of success ;~).

I actually get your point, but I don't think it's the same thing. With Netflix, the issue was "the same thing delivered differently." With me, the problem was "different things delivered the same" (and inefficiently, at that). Given the way the Web works these days, it shouldn't be too difficult for someone that wants "all of what Thom writes" to follow it (e.g. use RRS). The only question I considered was whether to do this as sansmirror.bythom.com or separately. In the end, I choose separately. I can always pull it back.

But one thing people are missing is that this also allows me to now consider hiring others to work with me. A site named byThom seems kind of weird if you've got Dhick and Hharry writing for it, too.
 
Yay for RSS! (I can finally follow you in Google Reader, where I follow, well, everyone else...)
 
Unfortunately, the text snippet in each RSS update is so short that I have no idea whether I'm interested enough in the article. There should be at least a complete sentence, and ideally a whole paragraph.

Other than that, the site looks great.
 
Are you still going to be one of the few websites without animated ads?

When I order something from B&H I use the link on your website since I value both the information and absence of animated ads.

I realize ads are a necessary evil on free websites but really appreciate not needing an ad blocker on your old site.
 
Thom I just spent a bit of time looking at your new site. It looks nice and seems well organized. I have one question though: will the "News/View" page get short entries when new articles are added to other areas of the site? For example if you add a new Camera review will there be a short entry in the news section to call out that it is there?
 
+Andrew McNabb Unfortunately, Sandvox only has an unlabeled slider for RSS length. On the next update I'll adjust it upwards a bit and see if that helps.
+Doug Livezey I will not allow animation, no. In fact, static advertising won't have embedded tracking tech. There's already a pretty long page on privacy on the site, and I don't feel like making it even longer and more complex.
+Ian Leslie Haven't decided yet, but probably not. In theory, you could just follow via RSS. But not everyone uses it. However, I always announce reviews on both this Google+ feed and on Twitter. It's other things, like FAQ updates and articles that you might miss.
 
Thom, glad to see you're making progress from entropy toward order, a constant struggle, to be sure. FWIW, I'm also interested in a lot of things, especially stuff I know nothing about, so I appreciate your varied postings and will follow them all as best I can.
 
Thom- so happy to see the sansmirror site. How the heck you managed to get the doamain name. No one thought about it? I love the small reviews you post making a clear statement about Yes or No. Of course long reviews have their own merits, but in the age of quick staus posts and +1 ing, a tiny review is mostly sufficient, especially when it comes from someone like you.
 
Thanks for the hard work you put into the new site. As an m43 shooter, having your insights will be invaluable. Site looks great too!
 
+Thom Hogan thanks for the answer. I'll have to consider how to follow. I am using G+ but never found RSS to be helpful - I guess I have never been happy with the way the RSS info is delivered.
 
Like the site. Fyi the contact page you mentioned doesn't seem to exist, so I'm using google +. I thought you should know that the site doesn't work right in IE 7.
 
Keep up the good work! You also need a favicon.ico for your new site to give our bookmarks an icon to look at besides a blank page. Thanks!
 
This is a great idea. I already like the new site, and as a devoted mirrorless user, I'm happy to see that content separated off and highlighted.
 
It is a good idea to have a dedicated mirrorless site, but regarding the design of the new site: I don't like the menu.
It works badly on my notebook: In Firefox, I have to zoom as article text is too small on high resolution but small size display. That is no problem (I have same issue with bythom.com), but when I do it on sansmirrors.com, the menu is too big to fit the screen height expanded. The menu also requires precise skill and timing to follow a narrow path to activate entries in submenu (Lenses/...) which might be hard for some people and inconvenient for others. Also, when I move mouse pointer over top-level menu entry (i.e. Articles or Lenses), the menu gets expanded underneath, and I slowly move mouse pointer down, the menu disappears before I reach it. Sometimes this happened when I move fast as well. This can be fixed by activating the menu not only by mouse over the text, but by mouse over the whole surrounding rectangle so there is no gap in between. Fact that leftmost entry in the menu bar is does not expand a submenu is also counterintuitive (despite it is lacking a triangle) and that item is quite useless too. That could be fixed by making it more visually different, say by more contrasting background to the rest of the menu bar.

On my Android phone the menu is almost completely unusable like anything that is activated by moving mouse pointer over it.
 
Interesting that you say "most DSLR users are going to want a competent compact system". I really like the m4/3 cameras but I'm struggling to see where they'd fit in. If I'm going light, I'll use my phone and live with 8MP JPEGs. If I'm going to do it "properly", I'll take the D50 and one or more primes. Maybe I don't shoot enough to justify a third option that's sorta not quite enough of either.
 
+Thom Hogan I'd like to mention that the new site hardly works at all in Opera 11.52, pull-down menus are transparent, jump all over the place and links inside are not clickable.
I know Opera is a niche browser used by less than 10% of the people but OTOH it's known to adhere very strictly to the web standards. Please check your HTML code.
 
I rather like the new site design and the general sound of your plans. I'll second the problem in Opera (11.60 &12 alpha) ..very see thru pull downs ;-)
Finding it totally fine to use on an android phone however
 
Congrats on the new site ! It will be a great resource if I ever decide to get a smaller camera in the future... FYI, just spotted a typo at the bottom of http://www.sansmirror.com/lenses/lens-angle-of-view.html
" I don't many that can figure out" probably should read " I don't know many that can figure out"

Good luck with the rest of the redesign !
 
You might as well start including smartphone's here. I think they are unstoppable in being the dominate camera 99% of all users within the next ten years. Open API, shoot/process/communicate in a device you can pull from your pocket, and produces "good enough" images/video for online use - game over.

Nikon/Canon/Adobe I'm sure are having sleepiness nights if they at all understand the wave that is building. Kodak is gone, film is gone, high quality images are very close to depending more on software verses glass. And the small pocket computer/camera/sensor/communications/tracking/location/lifestyle aware device is the dominate camera within 10 years, probably for even the pro's that are left.

cheers, and good luck with the new sites.

Robert
 
Sorry man, bad move from a SEO and site authority standpoint. You're splitting your potential readers by half. When readers come to one of your sites, they may never know of the other.

You should figure out a way to incorporate your new content onto your original site.
 
I've been following your articles for a long time and will continue to do so, your views and reviews are so great and no question "you are the man" when it comes to the topics you write about …but you really should have done a lot better job when it comes to redoing your website. You can't be best at everything, you are way too good of an expert in your field to be content with your new website.

Even though your design is new to you …to me it looks like an antique design already (which means your original website is a web-mastodont) and it's not current with what is current in web-design at all.

Sandvox …I had to google it, never heard of it, no pro web-designer would touch something like that, already a peak of Sandvox's own website is screaming they do not know how to do a pro web design as their site looks even more outdated then Sandvox's templates. Current state of sansmiror.com design at this time is a minimum 3-4 years behind the curve.

Please don't get me wrong, I am trying to be objective here …at least from my point of view which of course is not everyones point of view, but I love webdesing at least as much as I love photography. I just think you deserve something way better and have your re-design done professionally because you are a pro and understand first hand what pro does and why you hire a pro.

On a side note, I can image you could easily struck a good agreement with some professional web-designer for offering some of your services for compensation. Web designers usually love photography and always need great photos too, and some are also amateur photographers that would be happy to trade services for mutual benefit. I trully believe if you would have asked for help …you would get it because many who also do webdesign do follow you, …and I am not advertising my self here as webdesing is only my hobby, as is photography.

I would just start all over ...and please re-think the web-domains splitting to. I see no need to really split the readers between two domains, many like me are interested in both areas of your domains + two domains is 2 x trouble when it comes to staying current with website updates, expanding and so on.@John Nguyen has a strong point too. …but hey you may know better since you know what your "big picture" really includes and have sound reasoning for all I don't see at this time.

Just do it professionally, you are too big of a pro to not do it professionally. Still with all that said, I will continue to follow you, no matter how bad your web-design is …and it really is bad, the only thing that makes up for it is you being such a great guy Thom …and i love the name of the domain bythom.com also, it's sound personal, intimate and it's really you, it's by you!
 
Thom, love your old site (the content) and will no doubt spend plenty of time on the new. But really, is "The sensors aren't small. Only your imagination is." an inviting strapline, a friendly welcome? Telling your readers that their imagination is small? You chastise Nikon for bad marketing, but they at least steer clear of insulting their customers!
 
The site is very promising.
But the menu needs some changes to work with Opera.
 
Sorry Thom, but I tend to agree with John, Marck & Peter. The byThom brand is worth a lot overall so I think you should think again about how to keep it all together. The design could be a lot better - and get rid of that strap line pronto!
 
+John Nguyen +Mark Lobjoit It's a risk splitting the site. However, it's a bigger problem keeping everything under the "Thom" brand and in one huge, sprawling thing. Note that I've thought about how to integrate the sites together--you won't see that until everything is done. You also have to think of this in a different way, too: what happens when I step off a cliff tomorrow (not that I'm planning on doing that)? Under a person-specific branding, there's no value from that point forward. If I manage to build what I'm trying to build and add staff, it will live on. Which would you prefer?

FWIW, note how complex and deep the menus get already on sansmirror (and yes, I have some ideas on how to keep this from getting more complex--I control what does and doesn't appear in menus). Now add film cameras, DSLRs, compact cameras, general photography, gadgets, and more. The visibility of any given thing starts to disappear. I actually tried what you suggest--it doesn't work. You end up with well over a thousand pages of information and you have to use aggressive organizational systems to begin to handle it. What happens is that things get very buried, much like they do on the current bythom.com.

I'm not the first to confront this issue (though perhaps one of the first individuals to). CNET, Gawker, Ars Technica, and a host of others have faced the same issue of how to build deep, rich sites. There isn't a perfect solution. But the best solutions seem to be to separate out individual interests under an umbrella.
Ken A
 
I'm glad to see you move more into m43. I suspect I'm not the only one of your aging readers who had no choice but to give up shlepping around their heavy Nikon DSLRs and lenses...so I've missed reading bythom.com.
 
I see the strapline has changed to something more upbeat :)
 
I think you should have called the new site Qwikster. I hear it's available...
 
Congratulations on Your new website, it looks great. I have a couple of suggestions to improve it even more:

1. Add a search box. That is what was missing on bythom.com, and shouldn't be difficult to implement since site content's are in a database.

2. Drop down menus are too long, they already drop out of the screen. Imagine how long they'll become as You add a new content. Consider different navigation.

Best regards, and keep up the good work.

P.S. Just red Your previous comment, and I see that You're were already thinking about simplifying menus.
 
Did you consider joomla, wordpress or drupal (all open-source) for your project platform with combination of some of the premium template providers for those platforms?

For content special 3rd party apps like zoo come very handy, only a few pure demo & very basic examples from a Zoo CCK (Content Creation Kit) for joomla:
http://www.yootheme.com/zoo/app-bundle/product-catalog/frontpage
http://www.yootheme.com/zoo/app-bundle/documentation/frontpage
http://www.yootheme.com/zoo/app-bundle/movie-database/frontpage
http://www.yootheme.com/zoo/app-bundle/cookbook

Now imagine the possibilities with some CCK like this or similar. The downside is that CCK by it's nature usually demands a very advanced user, sometimes a webdeveloper to set it up and customize it for specific needs …but hey if you want for example to set up something like from those demos, there is even a free download for demo with with preinstalled setup, just change category titles, items, images to something suitable and you have a painless start + choose/change the template.

Just proposing alternatives you may or haven't thought of and I think are worthy to consider.
 
+Александар Парезановић Search is available in the About sans Mirror menu. I have more important things to do at the moment than elevate it to all pages, though I probably will get around to doing that someday. I'm aware of the menu issues. I'll also get around to addressing that one of these days, but first I have to get the content all in place. You'll see me make changes to the menuing as I do that.
+Marck Goran Lorencin Yes, I did. There are reasons why I did not use them, which I won't get into here. The best of the CMS's I looked at for a deep/broad content site isn't any of the above, though, it's a little known product that excels called Big Medium. I may yet move to that, but there are some questions about it's future development cycle at the moment.
 
Nice move! just one question: why you don't like Sony?
 
just one example:
http://www.sansmirror.com/articles/gain-and-loss.html
"Compare the 12mm f/2 on the Olympus Pens with the 16mm f/2.8 on the Sony NEX. From an exposure standpoint, you're shooting a stop faster with the same angle of view, so if the Sony is at ISO 1600, the Pen is at ISO 800 with the same shutter speed. (Yes, I know there are still some other factors involved, but let's not get down in the weeds on a general introduction article. We're in the "did you get the picture and is it decent" realm here.) The Olympus is also stabilized (via the sensor), while the Sony is not, which may mean that you can use slower shutter speeds "
you forgot to tell the Olympus (while the company last) is a 750+ $ lens and the Sony a 250 (150 if bought as kit)
 
Santa Claus comes in early ; congrats on the site Thom;Will you write about Leica too ?
 
+pako dominguez That's what you mean by not liking Sony? I was trying to make a single point there. If you add cost, size, weight, and a host of other things to the equation you lose the thread of the discussion completely. People that read and appreciate my work tend to be looking at the quality aspects first and foremost. They can make the cost/quality analysis themselves if they understand the quality issues.
+Laurent Saint Jean I'm not sure how much I'll write about the M system, but I'll certainly cover the new Leica mirrorless when it appears in fall.
 
Thom, I do appreciate your work and the way you share your knowledge. That's why I "follow" you.
I don't expect you to cheerleader for Sony. What I mean is that most of the times on your blog, Sony is show as a bad example, even when you recognize NEX provides the best quality, Sony's APS sensors are "state of art" etc...
In any case, thank you again for helping us understanding how the industry works.
 
I've become an avid reader of bythom.com for a number of reasons, your take on the mirrorless phenomenon being one of them. I'm excited to see what you have in store with this new dedicated site.
 
The menus are also a pain on my phone's browser.
 
Today's post on ByThom demonstrates to me what I don't like about the bifurcation of your content, Thom. Now I have a teaser link sending me over to a review on the mirrorless site. I am interested in following your mirrorless content, but do not own a mirrorless camera yet and probably will not regularly follow sansmirror.com.

Personally, I think you could have accomplished the same thing more effectively by redesigning your original site with a well-thought-out navigation scheme. I made the "joke" (above) about the name Qwickster being available, only it wasn't completely a joke...

Thanks for the J1 review, by the way...
 
+Paul McBride It's difficult for people to see just how much content I'm juggling. There's little chance that it can fit into one site well. The bythom site already has the problem that some of its content tends to disappear. I tried just organizing what I've got two different ways in one site design, and the result was far worse than you're about to see. Again, we're talking about thousands of articles across dozens of systems.
 
Perhaps Bythom would greatly benefit [and deserve to] being upgraded into a smart CMS so that all it's excellent content can be easily found. ( IMHO, one reason why "sansmirror.com" makes sense is SEO. Not sure even of the importance of mirrorless long term. ( i currently use an iphone4s for snapshots, Panasonic GF1 (family picnics) Nikon D5100 (mikrokopter aerial photog / travel light private day out) and a D3s + D3x for work. If only Nikon would give us a D700 sensor(+video) inside a D5100 form factor , how many would care about mirroless ?
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