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fizzymagic

Major image hosting problem

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I want to be completely clear about what I am saying, because this is a major issue.

  • In the past, when a puzzle depends on exact image data (intact EXIF, use of non-lossy image formats such as png, etc.), the best solution has been to host the images on the Groundspeak server.
  • Recently,  I have discovered that the new server transcodes those images to the JPEG format.  The JPEG format is lossy. The transcoding process destroys information.
  • Any information that required  a non-lossy image (steganography, subtle color differences, etc) is destroyed by the transcoding.
  • The result:  many puzzles are no longer solvable.
  • There appears to be no way to fix this issue.

I am concerned that this issue affects images that pass through the proxy server as well.

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Aye, if this were something, say a change in policy about allowable images, that was being newly enforced from this date moving forward, then a public announcement would suffice (the only anger likely being that new puzzles couldn't employ prior technical strategies), and existing listings would be 'grandfathered' (or given time to change/archive).

But this change is breaking old and existing puzzle caches, with many cache owners being none the wiser.  There is some very bad development/rollout practices being employed here for the sake of silently (relatively speaking) adhering to privacy laws. Things are breaking. People aren't being told, warned, informed. That ain't a good thing.  :(

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45 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

Aye, if this were something, say a change in policy about allowable images, that was being newly enforced from this date moving forward, then a public announcement would suffice (the only anger likely being that new puzzles couldn't employ prior technical strategies), and existing listings would be 'grandfathered' (or given time to change/archive).

But this change is breaking old and existing puzzle caches, with many cache owners being none the wiser.  There is some very bad development/rollout practices being employed here for the sake of silently (relatively speaking) adhering to privacy laws. Things are breaking. People aren't being told, warned, informed. That ain't a good thing.  :(

 

I'm scratching my head as to why a PNG image has to be converted to JPEG to protect the viewer's privacy. A quick search hasn't revealed anything about PNG privacy issues, but most of my search hits referred to Papua New Guinea's privacy laws and had nothing to do with image formats.

 

It does explain something odd though. Back in November, a new puzzle cache was published here which had a .png background image stored on GS's server as part of the cache gallery. Except the innards of that file weren't PNG but JPEG, which resulted in me spending several fruitless days picking it apart as I thought that was a clue to the puzzle. It wasn't and the CO had no idea how it happened.

 

I've done many puzzle caches that relied on having exact RGB values in some or all of the image, which is destroyed when converting to JPEG. This move would appear to pretty much put an end to a large class of image steganography in puzzle caches. What will be next to go under the streamroller?

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56 minutes ago, barefootjeff said:

I'm scratching my head as to why a PNG image has to be converted to JPEG to protect the viewer's privacy. A quick search hasn't revealed anything about PNG privacy issues, but most of my search hits referred to Papua New Guinea's privacy laws and had nothing to do with image formats.

 

I don't actually believe this has anything to do with privacy changes.  Many sites transcode images to save on bandwidth.  This situation may have been going on since last fall; I have been noticing the behavior and assuming it was something with Firefox.  Yesterday I looked a new puzzle and tried every possible way to get it to give me a png file, which it would not.  So I am not asserting that this is brand-new; only that it is a very serious problem.

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31 minutes ago, fizzymagic said:

 

I don't actually believe this has anything to do with privacy changes.  Many sites transcode images to save on bandwidth.  This situation may have been going on since last fall; I have been noticing the behavior and assuming it was something with Firefox.  Yesterday I looked a new puzzle and tried every possible way to get it to give me a png file, which it would not.  So I am not asserting that this is brand-new; only that it is a very serious problem.

 

In this age of rampant video streaming, much of it now moving to 4G, why are they quibbling over a few hundred kilobytes for a PNG file? The more I see now, the more I'm convinced I'm on the wrong planet.

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13 hours ago, barefootjeff said:

In this age of rampant video streaming, much of it now moving to 4G, why are they quibbling over a few hundred kilobytes for a PNG file? The more I see now, the more I'm convinced I'm on the wrong planet.

 

Here's my guess:

  1. They implement privacy features that interfere (intentionally or unintentionally) with externally-hosted images
  2. Due to 1., they recommend that members upload images directly to the cache listing.
  3. Due to 2., more images are having to be transferred from HQ's image storage rather than from external hosts, so bandwidth use is increasing.
  4. Due to 3., costs are increasing.
  5. Due to 4., transcoding is implemented to reduce bandwidth use and costs.

Of course, then there's the next step:

      6. Due to 5., puzzles that rely on the exact format and content of images are broken.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/1/2020 at 11:49 PM, thebruce0 said:

Aye, if this were something, say a change in policy about allowable images, that was being newly enforced from this date moving forward, then a public announcement would suffice (the only anger likely being that new puzzles couldn't employ prior technical strategies), and existing listings would be 'grandfathered' (or given time to change/archive).

But this change is breaking old and existing puzzle caches, with many cache owners being none the wiser.  There is some very bad development/rollout practices being employed here for the sake of silently (relatively speaking) adhering to privacy laws. Things are breaking. People aren't being told, warned, informed. That ain't a good thing.  :(

 

Someone just reached out for help on one of my caches, it involves using a background image hosted on a photo hosting site...

Originally in the source code the background image appeared as such:

<body background="i.imgur.com/0u38bBj.jpg" class="cache details page">

 

But now it's this monstrosity: 

<body background="https://imgproxy.geocaching.com/9660e2daac2e9e8461ceb68de1b8f1c378eb7ed1?url=https%3A%2F%2Fi.imgur.com%2F0u38bBj.jpg" class="CacheDetailsPage">

When did this change? Anyone find a work around? 

Edited by STNolan
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I went to look at a puzzle that used a png today, and it came through without transcoding!   So whatever it was appears to be fixed.   Thanks, HQ.

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On 4/3/2020 at 10:14 PM, fizzymagic said:

I went to look at a puzzle that used a png today, and it came through without transcoding!   So whatever it was appears to be fixed.   Thanks, HQ.

 

No, it is not.  I tried to upload a png for creation of a puzzle cache yesterday and it cam back as a jpeg.

 

Could somebody from HQ pleasepleaseplease comment on this issue?   Hundreds of puzzles have been ruined.

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