Sunday, 23 August 2015

Do e-commerce sites have to state the country of origin? - North American and European answer

The link has a couple of answers for two different trading blocks, North America and Europe.

The American answer says there is a law forcing people to state the country of origin, but that it isn't enforced.

The European answer states that EU makers are too-much lobbied or too feckless to allow their voters such information. The European Union finds it impossible to do something that's possible in America. However things might be changing with a 2014 EU directive, opposed by German and UK delegates, to make force EU manufacturers to label their EU origins.

Neither answer states where to look-up the law or lack of law, but both look pretty convincing and one has links to parliamentary debates on the subject

That's it.

Here are some related blog posts and afterthoughts.
  • is a shoe shop that tries to sell UK-made products and label by country of origin.
    Make It British has a couple of posts about labelling. I hope to get a bit of search ranking by publishing this related stuff.
  • is a post about how bad econmics teaching works. Teachers get lecture notes and such from the McGraw Hill Publishing Company, teach from the textbook, and avoid facts.
  • is a salvedged web site, reclaimed in order to write why the great Pants to Poverty craze did not take-off in proportion to costs as hoped. A review of social enterprise examples, one or two per country for a European Parliament committee, says that Pants "only" sold £250,000-worth in a good year. Maybe the problem was that Pants to Poverty were wrong about whether they were helping. 
    Here is a related subject: how to tell people that your product is made in the UK. A tricky point because you have already spent money on the income tax and national insurance of people who make the product, their high rent, and the costs of safety laws or general civic stuff that don't apply in China or Rana Plaza so there is no money left-over for anything else, like explaining sales points.
  • Vistaprint used to offer more cashback through cashback web sites than they charged in their postage-only offer on 250 template cards with a lie on the back - a note that business cards are free when they're not. They've also cancelled their union jack template from their cheapest templates, so the days of making money by ordering swing tags are over unfortunately.
  • Moorplan sell some cheap made-in cards, one country only.
    Walk-in to a shop to buy 100 at 3-4p per card.
    Order 1 box @ 1000 online and pay delivery but a lower rate per card.
    Order 2 box @ 2000 online to get 1.6p per card with free delivery.

    Moorplan also sell woven name tapes rather like over-size cashe's school name tapes in black or white to say "made in england". I plan to do a post on product labelling some time and so shall keep the other options secret to build-up anticipation. 

If you print your own cards in colour and want a first idea for a design, there's a free one commissioned by a firm called available to anyone who makes something in Britain, as enforceable by trading standards agencies. It is an open source design. They no longer promote the scheme and have picked a niftier logo for a new scheme that you have to subscribe to. Neither logo suggests why anybody should care what country something is made-in, and both are brash about origin in a way that's out of fashion everywhere but sports grounds, but hey.
Made in Britain


Friday, 21 August 2015

Installing pictobrowser galleries of photos from flickr or picassa onto a web page

Installing pictobrowser galleries of photos from flickr or picassa onto a web page

One day I hope to have a site on software that has plugins for image galleries, so images can be hosted on sites like Flickr and Picassa, which saves server space, might increase options for quick uploading, and adds some slider-viewer-gallery-type functions so that the viewer can choose which of the photos to view. (Picassa is now closed to new uploads)

Most e-commerce sites have a single main picture shown and then a 360 degree slide show or a series of other pictures, and mostly with magnification in a pop-up window as an options. My work-around does not offer a magnified version and offers one basic layout for the first picture and icons to others, which can be adjusted by the way you embed it.

Most e-commerce sites aim for quick loading of the first picture if it's shown on the customer's screen. My work-around does not offer that, so it's something that better suits sideline sites and just happens to do for now for ecommerce. I think there would be more services like this, and possibly there are, but they are hard to find because different types of people want different things from this technology. The most common application is showing a bunch of photos. Showing 360 degree spins or ecommerce photos on a flat-file web site is more rare. Flat file sites are coming back into fashion for speed and cheapness, but are still not much good for ecommerce, and the need to drop-in some kind of third party picture gallery (or shopping cart) is one of the reasons.

Pictobrowser is my work-around 

( says that there's another.) - front page with explanation and instructions - samples of what it can do. They start with a grey pattern - is a form that writes a script for each kind of sample - is a form for one default setting that shows the plain text of the script on screen.

Showing a default picture instead of a "get flash player" message

Once you have a copy of the script, it can be easier to lay it out in a text editor with a line for each bit, just in for ease of tweaking and in order to guess how the long the long line of code works.
I don't know how it works
A pattern of phrases beginning "so" and ending ";" seems to define variables.
The file is easier to read if you put each of these phrases on one line with a plain text editor.
There is also a bit a the top that says something like "if you don't have flash player you can get a free one here". Mobile phones are set up not to want to download flash player in order to save phone bills. seems to be set-up the same way as well. It's better to put a default first photo in that space so it shows on the site as soon as possible.

Hosting your own swfobject.js javascript for Pictobrowser

One link at the top of the script is to a javascript:
script type="text/javascript" src=""
It is possible to save this as a file on your own  host - assuming that it allows javascripts - just to stop information having to hop back and forth between your server and pictobrowser's server. You'd have to change the link to the javascript as well. It's a standard javascript and there is stuff on the net about how it works, which I don't much understand.

Hosting your own  .swf shockwave flash file for Pictobrowser

Another link very near the top of the shockwave flash file:
It is possible to save this as a file on your own host - assuming that it allows .swf files - just to stop information having to hop back and forth between your server and pictobrowser's server. You'd have to change the link to the flash file as well. It is not a standard flash file, or at least I have not found stuff on the net about how it works.

Removing the grey patterned placeholder from Pictobrowser's flash file

If you managed to get a default photo from the gallery to show instead of the "get flash player" message, it's frustrating to see it disappear again as flash-enabled browsers load and show the grey wiggle pattern for a second or two instead. It's the same pattern that you get if you click on the "pictorbrowserp.swf" link above, so I think they are connected.

I've discovered that there are flash decompilers that convert it to an .fla file. They exist online.

I've discovered that there are programs like that do more. The help page of that one links to some blog posts about fiddling with flash. This is the point at which I gave-up last time. If anyone would like to suggest a new pictobrowserp.swf file without the wibbly-wobbly grey placeholder, they would make me happy.

I might come back and post some code examples from the site, but don't promise that they're written in the best way.

By the way, if you look at the source code for this last bit, you will see a default script from used to show some UK-made vegan bouncing womens' brogue shoes.
You can see a version with its own default photo instead of "get flash player", and my choice of settings for some other stuff like sizes and self-hosted javascript and flash files on the source of this page: which shows some rather wonderful monkey boots made in the UK. I hope to change it soon. If it has changed you might have to trawl through the source code of an archived version :
Pictobrowser is my work-around - Showing a default picture instead of a "get flash player" message - Hosting your own swfobject.js javascript for Pictobrowser - Hosting your own .swf shockwave flash file for Pictobrowser - Removing the grey patterned placeholder from Pictobrowser's flash file

Get the flash player here:

This shows on the default view of but not the magazine view - I don't know why.
Just another example of why a picture is a better place-holder than a line saying "get flash player here..."


A similar free and easy program geared to flickr (not picassa) is which doesn't have obvious examples of what it can do

Juicebox with Flickr looks a good free one too, with an example on This is what they say:
JuiceboxBuilder is a desktop application for building Juicebox galleries. It runs on:
  • Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8.
  • Mac OS X 10.6 or higher.
Web Server
  • To display Juicebox galleries you need a website and a way to upload files (usually via FTP). We do not host image galleries on our servers
  • Password Protection and Image Download features require PHP version 5.2 (or higher) on the web server. The vast majority of web servers run this version of PHP. To find out which version of PHP your server runs, please check with your web server tech support, or follow these instructions.

Another program like pictobrowser that came-on on searches was, but it turns-out to be $49 for commercial use or to use without a link back to the publisher. An advantage is that there is a version with no flash. Or possibly good: people who pay do download photos they don't want onto their mobiles might think it's bad.

Batteries, chargers and flashlights have a testing blog on where they can read about each other. "I do publish most reviews on BLF, batteries and charger are also published on CPF and Fonarevka", says the author.

This came to mind because product photography lighting can be a chore. You need to use either very bright lights - strobes - or have good curtains to photograph during the day and get even results. For the draw-curtains-and-use-steady-lights method, you ideally need dimmer switches and bulbs that render most of the colours, evenly enough for your camera to adjust. Strobes were the technology of the 2010s but continuous LED lighting has emerged as a new cheap option, with 160-led lights under £15 from China. Their continuous light could be used for table lamps as well as for photography, and allows more intuitive set-up of pictures for someone who hasn't the concentration to stick to one job for a long time. This is why batteries become interesting.

160-led lights appear to use 9v 3a transformers, so far as I can tell from Aliexpress, but are more often used with video batteries which are a couple of lithium-iron in series. Cheap lithium-iron batteries have also just emerged on Aliexpress, and a charger that can cope with them has arrived in the post. In a way, this is exciting. the review of a the cheapest charger for Li-ion batteries and the other sort.
"The charger will charge lots of chemistries, but it do not use the correct algorithm for any of them. The charger is useable, but not the correct charger if you care about your batteries or want a safe charger". If I understood the graphs and explanations a bit better, this might be more useful, but it gets me started.