tex.andrews 11:31pm, 8 November 2011
Here is the text of an email I sent today, Nov 8 2011. If you did not get it, you are not on my mailing list, so please email me to get on that list: info@texandrewsart.com

That will bounce to my home email (this to protect me from web crawlers trolling for email addresses). the message:
Hello to all of you, around the world.

First off, let me immediately state 3 things: We will not be spamming you with a bunch of emails (see below). And, If you do not want to be on this list, just let me know and I will remove you right away. Finally, whatever you do, do not "reply to all"!

This list has been created mainly from direct emails I have received from you recently or in the past year or so. A few of you are on this list because I mined your names from DPR, either because you had messaged me there or had responded to recent threads about the demise of LZ. A smaller few of you were mined from DPR post from the last 12 months because you mentioned you had used/are using LZ in your workflow. That is how I got this current group. As you all should know by now, Lightcrafts the company is dead. LightZone and Aurora, its products, are now ....in limbo of some kind. Orphans? Properties being shopped around? We don't know for sure.

So, here is our news, which I think is great. In a nutshell, Doug Pardee has been doing really sterling work on finding out how we can keep LZ alive, both in terms of activations issues, downloading possibilities, now possibly lost license # recovery, and--fanfare, please---the creation of new raw files (4 so far!). Any of us who care owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude. I copy pertinent bits of his emails to me below. We are not attempting a full hack at this time, and we are trying to be careful not to get illegal or tread into murky ethical waters with copyright and IPR issues. Our aim is survival of our beloved software and support of the user community, which should be mutual, I might add. But we've got links to the install-file downloads, including the Mac 3.9.2 install for Java SE6 and Lion (OS X 10.7), and that we've got (mostly untested at this point) updates to allow LightZone to work with Raw files from newer camera models. See what Doug's been doing here (and get your download links, etc):

github.com/Doug-Pardee/LightZombie

He and I have also been discussing starting up a new website for the purpose of LZ support. I have purchased the following domain name (Doug's witty suggestion): www.lightzombie.org----plus several others so there is a little protection. It is on this site that we will create, well, whatever we have to, and we are certainly open to suggestions. We'll start on that later this week, and by that I mean I'll start investigating what it is we'll need for a forum and blog, and whether that's going to be a WordPress thing or etc. Hosting has not been determined, but one of you has made a kind offer of free hosting which we will be happy to accept if it works out at your end (separate email coming just to you on that one). We are also now on twitter (oh, gawd.....): @LightZombie , and we'll see if Facebook is necessary. Once we get this stuff up and properly running, then we won't need to email you directly, you'll just go to the website or Github or the tweets, or etc. yourselves.

So, think of Doug as our CTW (Chief Technical Wizard---not sure what order wizard he is, because I'm technically retarded) and me as CCH (Chief Comms Hobbit). And we are not the zombies, btw, the software is.

Any and all technical and/or other assistance is most welcome! Tech stuff goes to Doug, website and forum stuff to me for the most part. Send questions about your problems to me for now, so as not to bog down Doug who is working on fascinating stuff. I'll be acting as ticketmaster.

Best wishes from us to you!

tex andrews

Now, for the real interesting part, excerpts from Doug's emails to me:

Here's where I am on the technical side:

* The github site is all set up.

* The github site has Wayback Machine links to all of the original install packages.

* I have the dcraw.c source code updated with the three differences that I found. I've set up github so that whenever Dave Coffin releases a new version of dcraw.c, we have a computerized merge process that will produce the LightZone variant without any brain-work needed.

* I have initial builds of the updated dcraw for Windows, Mac, and Linux! I hope they all work.

* I've created custom Raw Tone Curve templates for four cameras, based on interest expressed by DPReview members:
-- Canon EOS 60D for Frischnetz
-- Olympus E-5 for Skaarungen
-- Pentax K-r for jok1000
-- Panasonic LX5 for solsang
LZ logs over 200 error messages about EXIF metadata every time it looks at an E-5 Raw file, but if you don't look at the log file everything seems to work fine. I've opened an issue on github about this.

* I've created some additional Canon EOS Raw Tone Curve templates by copying from other templates. Unfortunately, Fabio seems to have gotten really sloppy with raw tone curves.

* I've uploaded the "classic tools" templates.


I think that tech-wise, we're at a point where we can do some real good for current LZ users, and for those who've reluctantly shelved LZ because it didn't handle their camera models.

I need some feedback from users on how well the new dcraw builds work for them, and what problems they run into.

We can also start collecting requests for Raw Tone Curve templates from LZ users. I'm really not inclined to produce custom tone curves for every possible camera model -- just the ones that LZ users have.

In other words, I'm ready to "go public" and see what the users think.

github:

Over the past year or two, github has become pretty much "the" site for hosting open-source development projects. There are still some on the older big sites like SourceForge and Google Code, but many of the projects there now say, "moved to github." As an indication of github's stature, THE Linux project is hosted there: github.com/torvalds/linux

At its heart, github is a repository for storing and sharing programming code where the project is being updated by multiple programmers. It allows the code to be kept private, for a fee, but for public code like ours github's free.

Anyone can download files from a public github project. Point your browser at the project, select the "code" button — which probably should be called "files" — and you'll see the file/folder tree. Each folder can have a file called README (perhaps with an extension indicating what kind of markup it's using), and github will automatically display that file at the bottom of the folder listing.

There is an optional "issue tracker" that can be used for, um, tracking issues. It's very simplistic, but I think it'll do for us — at least for now — so I've got it turned on.
ferlopez PRO 7 years ago
Is there anything we can do to help LightZone become open source ? It would be the ideal product to be taken up by the Linux community and it's so unique ...
hesitant board [deleted] 7 years ago
I agree... please release this amazing software to the community to make he alive!
Doug Pardee 7 years ago
tex could probably be slightly more definitive, but my understanding of the current situation is that Light Crafts is not (yet?) prepared to give up the source code. Perhaps they're looking to find a buyer for the product, or perhaps they just don't want to put any further effort into LZ, or perhaps something else.

My crystal ball says that we're probably going to have to wait a while before there's any movement, if it ever happens at all. Light Crafts is not being communicative (that's nothing new), and I have a fairly strong sense that flooding them with requests to open-source LZ would only antagonize them and make things worse. Historically, Light Crafts seems to have disliked dealing with end users, which is why the user forums were run by non-LC people like tex.

Again, I have no special knowledge. But I think that for at least the next few months, we need to exercise some patience. That's what I think, correct or not.

My personal participation in the LightZombie Project reflects my opinion. LightZombie will — if all goes as planned — extend the useful life of LightZone 3.9 for at least a year, and maybe a few years. With luck, we'll eventually have a more long-term resolution to LightZone's future.
Nerds of Paradise 7 years ago
I'm a new member of this group, and would just like to say hi and chime in. I use Lightzone almost daily (at least weekly). Luckily I haven't replaced my camera in a while so I haven't had any issues continuing to use it.

I would like to throw in my support if there is any effort to actually bring the program itself back to life. The abrupt disappearance leaves room for all kinds of speculation, and it is possible that there are plans for the Lightzone code base that preclude it from ever being resurrected, in open source form or otherwise. If that ever does become a possibility, however, I would be happy to help that out in any way I can, whether it's financial support for an initial purchase of the source code, or helping with the project in some other way (I do have Java programming experience, primarily on Linux).

In any case, what has happened to Lightzone is one of the unfortunate things that can happen with closed software, it's just the first time it's ever happened to me :/ (Lightzone is one of only a few closed-source programs I use). I appreciate the efforts here to extend its life as much as possible.

David
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