It’s not too hard!

Mizen_The Expected Lifetime for Printed Security Cards_20171107_Page_10For the past twenty years, I have worked with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to develop standards for the photographic industry. All too often, the standards group comes to the conclusion that because too many factors are involved, it is too difficult to come up with a standardized test that will determine how long a product will last or to determine if it is suitable for its intended application. The committee gives up and choses to work on a different question which has an easier answer.

Questions which currently have no ISO answer include:

  • How long can I display a photograph before it fades unacceptably?
  • How long will photos in a scrapbook last?
  • Is a photo book suitable for long-term preservation?
  • Will digital photos last longer than traditional photographic prints?

The common thread with these questions is that they address issues that are relevant to typical photo consumers.  They are non-technical questions that are relate to how photos are used.

The printed security card industry has taken a different approach. Instead of worrying about the perfect answer, the security card industry has developed standards that combine usage, application, and lifetime requirements into single, probabilistic assessment as to whether the card is suitable for a specific application. The example given here is for an access card, but the standards also include application profiles for health care, national ID, transportation, campus card, driving license, and financial card.

Mizen_The Expected Lifetime for Printed Security Cards_20171107_Page_20My challenge to the photographic industry is to do the same thing: develop standards that provide consumers with guidance as to whether a product will meet their needs, without worrying about the fact that the answer may not be perfect. To assist in this process, I presented a talk on The Expected Lifetime for Printed Security Cards at the 2017 Printing for Fabrication Conference in Denver, Colorado., and at the Fall 2017 TC42 WG5 Photographic Standards Meeting in Washington, D.C.

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50 Inventions


Passport_002The passport is included in the 50 inventions that shaped the modern economy. The modern passport is a relatively recent invention. For most of history, travel documents consisted of a letter of protection, rather than a formal booklet. Governments used these documents to prevent skilled workers from leaving, as well as to control the movement of people from town to town.

It looked like passports were going to disappear in the early 20th century, since free movement of labor ensures that resources will be used most productively. Instead, World War 1 and the resulting concern for security motivated governments to implement additional restrictions on the movement of people. The restrictions evolved into modern passports and border controls, along with the restrictions on where we can work, live, and travel that we live with today.

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Photo Book Construction and Preservation

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I presented a paper on Photo Book Construction and Preservation at the International Symposium on Technologies for Digital Photo Fulfillment in Denver, Colorado. In this presentation, I highlighted different photo book constructions, along with test methods to ensure their permanence.

Photo book permanence is critical since photo books have become the means to preserve photographs for future generations, replacing the scrapbooks of yesteryear. Photo books include photos along with related information creating a unique body of work often dedicated to a specific location, time period, or group of people. They provide a unique perspective on today’s events. Unfortunately poorly constructed books with inferior bindings or unstable images will not survive the test of time. These books result when manufacturers use materials and manufacturing processes that they have not properly tested for long-term permanence. In some cases, manufacturers may not have the resources or expertise for testing; in other cases they may not consider it important. While it is impossible to address apathy, experts within the industry can provide general information that makes it easier to produce high-quality photo book.

For the original presentation, see Mizen_Photo Book Construction and Preservation.

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Am I a victim of Kobe Steel?

Kobe Steel

I have recently posted about the failure of the ball joint that caused the right front wheel to fall off my Ford Fusion, as well as the failure of Minnesota law to protect me in this situation.

There may be more to my case than I initially thought. Quality Progress headlined their December 2017 Progress Report with the admonition: “Dinged and Dented: Falsified quality data and flawed safety inspections tarnish manufacturing industry’s reputation in Japan.” Quality Progress goes on to state:

In October, it was discovered that Kobe Steel, Japan’s third-largest steel maker, had been falsifying its quality data for at least a decade. The organization admitted that workers altered data about the strength and durability of its steel, copper
and aluminum products, and data on its iron ore powder. An internal investigation
uncovered 70 cases of data tampering.²

More than 500 Kobe Steel customers across the world are affected by
the falsified data, including Boeing, Ford, General Motors and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, who are left scrambling to verify the quality and safety of their
own products.

I have no evidence that the front axle on my Ford Fusion was made with Kobe steel, but it sure would explain a whole lot.

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The One Device


Brian Merchant provides a comprehensive history of the development of the iPhone in The One Device. This book shows that Steve Jobs did not invent the iPhone. Instead, many engineers worked tirelessly behind the scenes to develop the iPhone. These engineers combined many existing technologies to develop a revolutionary new product. In doing so, they forever altered telecommunications and photography.

The One Device provides extensive details about the camera that was included in the iPhone:

  • The original 2 megapixel camera was subpar, included only because competing phones included cameras.
  • Apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic were key to the success of the phone and the camera.
  • The camera module included over 200 separate parts, and there were 800 employees dedicated to improving the camera in 2016!
  • The camera is based on CMOS and image processing technology developed for the iSight laptop camera.
  • Optical image stabilization ensures that photos will be sharp. Optical image stabilization takes advantage of the gyroscope that is included in the iPhone to measure and correct for any movement that may be taking place.

The  iPhone camera has changed our lives forever, and its impact goes beyond the technical features. We now always have a camera with us, and photography is no longer relegated to special occasions. Instead, we are able to document life as it happens, preserving memories for the future.



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Minnesota law fails to protect consumers

edit_IMG_3014The right front wheel on  my Ford Fusion fell off after 67,120 miles. This failure was not normal wear and tear and not due to an accident. Instead, the ball joint cracked and the wheel fell off, bringing my car to a screeching, uncontrolled stop. Fortunately, I was going rather slowly and was not hurt.

I felt the axle to the car was defective when it was purchased, and Ford was negligent in manufacturing my vehicle with this part. In my experience metal parts do not spontaneously crack unless a defect is present. Ford refused to accept any responsibility, and I filed a small claims conciliation court case against Ford. The trial took place Friday, August 25, 2017 and here is what I learned:

  • Minnesota law does not allow a claim of negligence against a manufacturer if the only damage is property damage. Had I been injured or killed then I would have had a potential negligence claim against Ford.
  • Ford has done an effective job of limiting their exposure through carefully worded warranty statements that restrict claims that may be brought against them under Minnesota law, including the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose and merchantability.

I lost the case, and I believe the judge correctly decided the case according to Minnesota law. However, it doesn’t make me feel better, and next time I buy a car, it will very likely not be a Ford.

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Growth Continues at Forever

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Forever is a direct sales company focused on digital storage and photographic products. It follows a direct sales business model with Ambassadors who promote its product and services. Forever has a lot of the positive aspects from Creative Memories without the baggage of traditional scrapbooking. Ambassadors are not required to inventory products and instead earn money by selling products that are fulfilled by the company. Their most unique product is Forever Permanent Storage, which relies on an endowment to fund future storage costs for photo preservation.

2017-08-17 Additional Info for Mark Mizen_Page_05Two things are required for a successful direct sales business: a growing sales force and an expanding market. They are related in that it is difficult for a direct sales company to grow its sales force if the overall market is contracting.

2017-08-17 Additional Info for Mark Mizen_Page_04At Forever Live! I was excited to learn that Forever is succeeding at its mission.  During the past year, the cumulative number of photos uploaded has increased from 16 million to 41 million and the  number of Ambassadors has increased from 2,200 to 5,200. Sales have increased along with these gains.

Forever has shown that direct sales can be a successful business strategy for digital photography. Their success is particularly noteworthy given the number of businesses in the photographic industry that are either struggling or have shut down entirely.


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