27 Nov 2005
piconsdatabases and how are they licensed?
"picons"is short for
icons". They're small, constrained images used to represent users and domains on the net, organized into databases so that the appropriate image for a given e-mail address can be found. Besides users and domains, there are picons databases for Usenet newsgroups and weather forecasts. The picons are in either monochrome XBM format or color XPM and GIF formats.
These databases have been compiled in hopes of helping make cyberspace a
more personable place. With them, software and services can be developed
to identify persons on the net by face (or, at least, by institution logo)
instead of by a cryptic e-mail address. Although this software is still
more potential than actual, much already exists (see
picons databases themselves, of course,
are only a first step toward this goal.
picons databases have been built from the submissions
of hundreds of contributors across the net, and, as such, their accuracy
and appropriateness has not been extensively verified. Contributions and
corrections are welcome and encouraged (see 8.).
picons databases that currently are available are:
domains, logos for Internet domains
misc, picons for common accounts and miscellany
news, icons for Usenet newsgroups
unknown, default picons for very high-level Internet domains
usenix, face images of Usenix conference attendees
users, picons for individual accounts (often face images)
weather, icons for displaying weather forecasts
piconsdatabases have previously been referred to as "faces" collections or databases, because they were originally compiled for use with the
"faces"software. Since they're now used for more than this and include more than actual face images, they're referred to as the
piconsdatabases to make the distinction and to avoid overloading the term "faces".
piconsdatabases and how are they licensed?
piconsdatabases are available via WWW in the Picons Archive at <URL:http://www.cs.indiana.edu/picons/ftp/index.html> or via FTP in ftp.cs.indiana.edu:/pub/faces/picons/. This archive also includes sources for
piconsapplication scripts and icon utilities and a set of demo window dumps of some
piconsapplications. An interactive random
piconssampler and a
piconsdatabase search facility are also available via WWW here.
The databases are also mirrored in the UUNET archives in ftp.uu.net:/published/usenix/faces/bundled/picons/, where they're available via FTP or UUCP.
The databases are updated in these archives each day they change so the most current version is always available. Since many of the databases are constantly growing, you may want to update your local copy of them periodically.
The databases are also available as packages for Debian GNU/Linux at ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/distributions/debian/, though these are updated much less frequently.
Most of the databases have a license that places some conditions on
their use and distribution. Generally, this is just to ensure that the
volunteer efforts put into the databases are recognized and protected.
Otherwise, they're essentially freely usable, but see the LICENSE section
README file in the top directory of each database
"users"database under my most general e-mail address, email@example.com, in the file
users/edu/indiana/kinzler/face.xpmThe picon files themselves are always named
face.gif. If a
face.xpmfile exists, then an equivalent
face.giffile will also exist, and vice versa. If the picon applies to the domain as a whole and no user in particular, the username
"unknown"is used. These picons are typically in the
"unknown"databases, for example
domains/edu/indiana/cs/unknown/face.xpmIf the picon applies to a specific user in any domain (usually standard system accounts), the domain
"MISC"is used. These picons are typically in the
"unknown"databases, for example
misc/MISC/postmaster/face.xpmNote that, with the exception of the special
MISCdomain, all parts of the path are in lower-case.
"news" database is organized by Usenet newsgroup name
components with an
"unknown" username. For example, the
XPM picon for rec.humor.oracle is in
face.xbmfile and a
face.xpm/face.giffile set. Picons in all formats are constrained to be 48 by 48 pixels in size. (An exception is the
weatherdatabase which has picons 64 by 64 pixels). Furthermore, XPM picons are in the version 3 format of XPM and must use only colors in one of two limited subsets of common colors. This restriction minimizes the competition for colormap space for many users and usually allows applications displaying picons to do so with the standard colormap. GIF picons are equivalent to their XPM counterparts with the XPM "none" color converted to "grey75" (rgb:BF/BF/BF) and marked as transparent.
The first color set is that used in the AIcons collection, version 1.6. See <URL:http://www.cit.gu.edu.au/~anthony/icons/docs/> for more about the history and rationale of this color set. The colors in the set are (by hexadecimal RGB triplets and X11 color names)
00 00 00 black EE 82 EE violet 2F 4F 4F dark slate grey FF 00 FF magenta 70 80 90 slate grey A0 20 F0 purple BE BE BE grey 00 FF FF cyan DC DC DC gainsboro A0 52 2D sienna FF FF FF white CD 85 3F peru 00 00 80 navy FF A5 00 orange 00 00 FF blue FF D7 00 gold 1E 90 FF dodger blue FF FF 00 yellow 87 CE EB sky blue D2 B4 8C tan E6 E6 FA lavender F5 DE B3 wheat 2E 8B 57 sea green FF FA CD lemon chiffon 32 CD 32 lime green B2 22 22 firebrick 00 FF 00 green FF 00 00 red 98 FB 98 pale green FF 63 47 tomato
The second color set is a greyscale set for use with photographic-type icons when the first color set isn't satisfactory. Its colors by hexadecimal RGB triplets and X11 color names are
00 00 00 black 87 87 87 grey53 12 12 12 grey7 99 99 99 grey60 21 21 21 grey13 AB AB AB grey67 33 33 33 grey20 BA BA BA grey73 45 45 45 grey27 CC CC CC grey80 54 54 54 grey33 DE DE DE grey87 66 66 66 grey40 ED ED ED grey93 78 78 78 grey47 FF FF FF white
The transparent or "none" color can be used with both color sets. In fact, its use is encouraged as the background color.
The recommended order of the
picons databases for a
search path for Internet e-mail addresses is:
unknown("smoking spy" catch-all default picons)
weatherdatabases are usually used alone or with just personal and local additions.
Each database is searched for a matching picon from most specific to least specific. The search typically stops with the first match. Each database is searched entirely before continuing with the next one. For example, a lookup for the picon for firstname.lastname@example.org would proceed with this sequence of checks occuring within each database in the search path. The picon used would be in the first of these directories containing a suitable one:
All such software can be found in the Faces Archive available via WWW at <URL:http://www.cs.indiana.edu/ftp/faces/index.html> or via FTP in ftp.cs.indiana.edu:/pub/faces/.
The Faces Archive is also mirrored in the UUNET archives in ftp.uu.net:/published/usenix/faces/bundled/, where they're available via FTP or UUCP.
The Picons Search engine at
picons databases for requested picon sets and displays
the found picons. As such, it can serve as an icon lookup service for
Internet users and domains and Usenet newsgroups.
The Picons Sonification page at <URL:http://www.cs.indiana.edu/picons/javoice/index.html> uses the vOICe Java applet to compute and play auditory representations of images, including GIF picons, intended as a step towards a vision substitution device for the blind.
The WWW-Finger Gateway with Faces at <URL:http://www.cs.indiana.edu/finger/gateway> displays picon sequences for the users and hosts it fingers.
Anthony's Icon Library (AIcons) at <URL:http://www.sct.gu.edu.au/~anthony/icons/> includes some picons among its various icon sections, which are organized for programming, application and Web usage. In particular, the library highlights the country flag domain picons and the Olympic event logo picons.
The Indiana University Computer Science Personnel Directory at <URL:http://www.cs.indiana.edu/people/index.html> uses picons of users in indices of its personnel information pages.
The Gmane mailing list archive at <URL:http://www.gmane.org/> displays picons with the messages displayed on its website.
The MailFaces documentation at <URL:http://members.cruzio.com/~jthomas/mailfaces/picons.html> provides advice on creating picons under Windows 95 and OS/2 environments. If you can put your image on the Web, then you can use the PIconCreate service at <URL:http://members.cruzio.com/~jthomas/mailfaces/picons.html#piconcreate> to process and submit it as a picon.
Below are some software packages I commonly use for creating picons under a Unix/X11 environment. The Iconolog site at <URL:http://www.ozemail.com.au/~afactor/tools/iconTools.html> references many icon tools for other environments.
piconsdatabases and working on sets of picons.
To submit a new or revised picon to a database, mail its XBM, XPM or ASCII PNM (ASCII PBM, ASCII PGM or ASCII PPM) file to one of these addresses
In any case, the subject line should contain only the e-mail address (in email@example.com format) the users picon is for (eg, "firstname.lastname@example.org"), the domain address or hierarchy the domains picon is for (eg, "sei.cmu.edu" or "cmu.edu"), or the newsgroup or newsgroup hierarchy the news picon is for (eg, "comp.unix.shell" or "comp"). Please submit each picon in a separate mailing.
For picons contributed to the users database, the domain specified in the subject should be the most general at which the given username is uniquely applicable, even if such a domain isn't valid as a mailing address. For example, if "kinzler" is the same user in every subdomain of "indiana.edu", his picon would be submitted as "email@example.com" even if that's not a valid mailing address.
The body of mailed files should contain only the picon, preferably
already within the standard
(see 4.) and preferably as an XBM, XPM or ASCII
PNM picon unpackaged in plain text. A GIF version of a picon need not
be mailed in if its corresponding XPM or ASCII PNM version is submitted.
But, if you do mail in a GIF, or other non-ASCII format image, you'll
need to package it somehow for mail transfer. You may mail in images (or
URLs for images) with other sizes, formats and color sets, but they may
not be able to be successfully processed and added to the databases.
See 7. for pointers to software and advice to aid in creating picons. Any extra comments about the submitted picons can be mailed separately to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After being processed, submissions are deleted from the FTP
picons incoming directory. They will then appear in the
distributed databases within the next 24 hours.
xfacessoftware and the
piconsdatabases. See 6. about accessing the Faces Archives for these, as well as archives of the mailing list.
Mail sent to email@example.com is mailed to everyone on the mailing list. Mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your requests to subscribe to or unsubsribe from the mailing list.
piconsdatabases, application scripts, and online services. He began around 1990 after installing
facesand finding its potential limited by the lack of a substantial collection of domain icons. He's created or adapted a good share of the picons and reviewed, installed and tweaked most all the rest.
<Daniel.Glazman@der.edf.fr>, Iain Sinclair
<Dirk.Craeynest@cs.kuleuven.ac.be>, Dougal Scott
and Juhapekka Tolvanen
have contributed a substantial number of picons
themselves and some of the picons have been adapted from
bitmap collection. Rich Burridge
<Richard.Burridge@eng.sun.com> compiled early
versions of a combined
database. Hundreds of others around the net have contributed
some number of picons to the databases. Under the
FaceSaver project, Dave Yost, Lou Katz,
<email@example.com> and David C Lawrence
have compiled and made available thousands of face images of
Usenix conference attendees which
form the basis for the
usenix picons database.
developed and supports the
PIconCreate service for the processing and submission of Web images
as picons. Hakan Ardo
prepares Debian package versions of the
Daniel V Klein <firstname.lastname@example.org>
included the Picons and Faces Archives on the
1997 Usenix Technical Conference CD-ROM.
These fine folks are acknowledged for their development work
with applications which use
(MailFaces), Brian Redman (MailGlance),
and John LoVerso
exmh), Ido Hardonag
with Faces), James Ashton
faces, the software which started
it all, was itself inspired by seminal work by
vismon program for
Labs Version 8 Unix described in
Face the Nation
And these folks are acknowledged for developing software which has been
especially important in the creation of the
Davor Matic (
bitmap), Lionel Mallet (
and Ashley Roll
<email@example.com> and the NetPBM
Plus others I'm sure I've neglected to mention.