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Frequently Asked Questions

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Question What is this site about?
Answer Fractals, and desktop backgrounds. See the about page for more information along these lines.


Question How often is the site updated?
Answer The site is usually updated most months, except in the summer. Fractals Galleries go up whenever I have enough images to fill a gallery, and Backgrounds Galleries are usually posted on the first day of the month. You can see what images have been chosen for upcoming backgrounds galleries and the date of the galleries on the Upcoming Galleries Page. Also, there is now an announcements mailing list (moderated) that you can subscribe to to be automatically notified about updates. Send email to "updates-subscribe@exoteric.roach.org" or click on this link. The list volume averages 1-3 messages a month, and all messages will have the word "exoteric" in the subject line for easy mailbox filtering.


Question What programs are used to make these images?
Answer I'm currently using three main fractal programs plus Photoshop and some KPT filters to create the images on this site. The fractal programs are KPT Fraxplorer, Ultra Fractal and Apophysis. In the past, I also used KPT Fraxflame, but have since abandoned that program due to limitations that prevent large-format rendering. For a more in depth look at why I use these programs and what I think about them, read my long, rambling commentary.


Question Do you sell prints of your work?
Answer Prints are temporarily unvailable. Please check back later.


Question Why is this site free?
Answer The site is free for many reasons. Firstly, I love fractals, and I want other people to be able to see and enjoy my work, regardless of their economic status. Secondly, so many generous people on the Internet have given me so many wonderful and useful free things over the years, that when I had the opportunity, I wanted to give something back. If you do have the money and feel like making a donation to help support the site, visit the donation page. Donations are via PayPal, but if you don't have a PayPal account you can still use PayPal to process your credit card transaction. If you don't have the money, don't sweat it. Just enjoy the images.


Question How many visitors does your site get?
Answer I see anywhere from 40,000 to 70,000 unique visitors every month, who use somewhere between 300GB to 600GB of traffic each month. Traffic varies each month depending on things like what images I have up in the new backgrounds galleries and who links to me during the month.


Question I sent you email, but never got a reply. How come?
Answer If you email me with a question or a request, I will respond to your email. I usually try to get back to people within 24 hours, but sometimes it can be several days before I have the time to write back. If you sent me an email that requests a response but haven't heard back from me in more than five days, please feel free to send again. Please also make sure that spam filters on your end are not trapping my response to you, and that when you email me, you use the subject line provided to you by the website in order to bypass my spam filters. I do check my spambox, but only once or twice a month, so if you did not include the word "exoteric" in your subject line and your email is "spammy", it may be some time before I notice it.


Question How do you choose which images to put in the backgrounds galleries?
Answer Images are chosen for the backgrounds galleries based in combination on their popularity in the small image galleries, and their suitability as backgrounds, with a touch of personal taste thrown in. If you would like to participate in this process (and I'd love to have your input), you can send me email with your suggestions as to what you'd like to see in upcoming galleries. Check the existing galleries to make sure that the image isn't already available. Also, check the Upcoming Galleries page to see what images I've scheduled to be included in a future gallery.


Question I want to use one of your images as a background for my personal website, can I do this?
Answer Yes, images may be used for any personal or educational use, including as desktop backgrounds, and website backgrounds for websites. You may give my images to your friends, distribute them via peer-to-peer file sharing or post them on the web, as long as they remain unmodified and no fee is charged. You may also print my images for your own personal use. However, if you plan to use my images on your website, you must copy the image to your own server first. See the next point. Other use such as for non-profit websites or promotional material is available, but you must apply for a license prior to use. Fees for non-commercial use are minimal. See below for commercial use.


Question What if I want to use your images on a journal site that doesn't allow me to upload images?
Answer There are plenty of free hosting sites on the web, custom made for this purpose. They allow you to upload images for free and then link to them from your blog or personal site. Some of best-known ones are: Photobucket, Village Photos, Ripway, and Flickr.


Question Why can't I link directly to images on your site?
Answer Linking directly to images on other people's sites is generally known as "theft of bandwidth". It causes visitors to pull images from someone else's site with no bandwidth drain on the linker's site, and provides no benefit to the linkee. It's also foolish, as the owner of the site being linked to can cause any image they want to appear on your site. Normally I use a an ugly pink graphic, but habitual offenders may get a more objectionable image. For me, direct linking also messes with statistics about an image's popularity, making it hard for me to decide what are the best images to place in the backgrounds galleries. A direct link to an image from a popular blog can really throw my stats out of whack. For example, someone from a popular journal site linked to three of my images, causing over 10,000 hits that month. That was more than two years ago, and I'm still getting hundreds of (now failed) hits for those three images each month. Lately (April 2006), I've been having a huge influx of visitors from several popular blog sites that I will not mention here (lest the keywords are picked up by the search engines and cause even more unwanted visitors). Because of this I am now requiring a valid local referer in order to view images. If your browser does not report a referer, you will see this image.


Question Why do I get an ugly pink graphic instead of fractal images while browsing your site?
Answer This graphic is intended to stop people from 'inlining' images from my site to their own. If you're seeing it while browsing my site directly, then your web browser is not reporting the correct referer to my web server. This can be due to firewall software that may obfuscate the referer or sometimes due to plain old browser error. Try restarting your web browser and turning off referer blocking in your firewall. Unfortunately incorrect referers also affect people browsing my site via translation sites like Google. I've enabled proper access for all translation sites I know about, but I'm sure I've missed a few.


Question Can I get backgrounds without your signature on them?
Answer No. Backgrounds are not available without the signature. This is my prime method of advertising, and also serves to mark the images so that people who did not download them directly from my website know where they came from and how to get more.


Question Why is auto-downloading software not permitted?
Answer There is a lot of duplicated content on this site, especially within the backgrounds galleries. Most images are available in 11 or more different sizes. A program that downloads each and every file without discriminating puts a strain on my bandwidth and provides little benefit to the user. Auto-downloading software also can request files much faster than a human, which also slows the server down for other people. While some programs can be configured to download slowly or retrieve only certain files, most users don't bother to do this. As a result, many auto-downloading programs are blocked from getting images. If you want to download all files of a certain size, please visit the Download Page and get the zip files via BitTorrent.


Question I got a message that I've exceeded the maximum transfer limit. What does this mean?
Answer This site employs software to limit the maximum amount of data any one person can download from the site in a given period of time. If you are getting this message, you have exceeded your daily limit, and should come back another day. This limit is per-IP address, not global, so only users who have downloaded a large amount of data will be affected. This site does not have a global daily or monthly limit.


Question Why do you require a password to get access to the backgrounds?
Answer This is again related to the problem of people inlining images from my website. I was having so many people trying to inline large images that even the percentage that got past my referer blocking were causing me a serious bandwidth hit. Some of these images are over 3.5MB in size, and having 400 hits a day from some journal site that has linked directly to a large image was problematic. Having the password linked through the Terms and Conditions has helped with this problem, cut down on the number of questions people have about how they may use my images and also keeps rogue web spiders and some caching servers out of the high-bandwidth content.


Question I'd like to use one of your images commercially. Is there a way I can do this?
Answer I'm taking a break from doing commercial licencing for the time being for personal reasons. If you have a really urgent request, you can email me anyway, but I cannot guarantee I will be able to take your order at this time.


Question Are you ever going to do any fractal animations?
Answer To be honest, I don't have much interest in animation. The trade-off between high resolution and animation just doesn't seem worth it to me. I'm more interested in spending my CPU time on rendering images in large format than I am in making low-res, and likely highly compressed, animation. Also, only some of the fractal programs I use have built-in animation support; for the rest I'd have to do it by hand, which is a hugely time-consuming and tedious task. I just don't have the time or interest.




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