Category: Computing

Photo Workflow Using Aperture

November 1st, 2009 Permalink

This is my second Workflow post. Previously, I talked about My Geotagging Workflow. I shoot every day. After a while, all those photos start adding up. Often people ask me how I manage all those images, and what my workflow is for processing them. This post details the current workflow that I’ve developed, using Aperture […]

This is my second Workflow post. Previously, I talked about My Geotagging Workflow.

I shoot every day. After a while, all those photos start adding up. Often people ask me how I manage all those images, and what my workflow is for processing them. This post details the current workflow that I’ve developed, using Aperture and a combination of Projects and Smart Albums to automate the details.

At the beginning of each month, I create a new Project in Aperture. The project is named “yyyy-mm Photos”. So today, since it is the beginning of November, I created “2009-11 Photos”. Inside this new project, I create a Smart Album named “TODO” that shows all Unrated photos:

Aperture - Smart Album

All the photos I take during the month will be imported into the Project for that month. After I import a batch, I click on the TODO Smart Album and take a few minutes and look at them, marking any obviously useless shots as Rejected. Marking them as Rejected automatically removes them from the TODO Smart Album, since it only matches Unrated photos.

When I am ready to process some photos, I select a TODO Smart Album. Usually, I have several to choose from, since I am rarely caught up to the current month. I will look through the photos in the album, processing photos that catch my eye. Sometimes I will just concentrate on a batch of photos, rather than processing photos from different months.

When I am finished with the adjustments for a particular photo, I add keywords using the Keyword Controls window in Aperture. I have some predefined keywords that I use often assigned to buttons in the Keyword Controls window. For keywords that are not assigned to a button I just start typing and Aperture auto-completes them. I normally add geographic keywords (at least city and state), as well as keywords for photo type, objects in the photo, and anything else that will help me find the photo at a later date. Adding keywords in Aperture ensures that the exported photos that get uploaded to various web sites will always contain the keyword metadata.

Aperture - Keyword Control

After adding Keywords, I rate the photo from 3 to 5 stars. Any photo with a rating of three stars or higher will be uploaded to Flickr and Zooomr, and possibly other services. Five stars means the photo is a personal favorite. After adding the rating, the photo disappears from the TODO Smart Album, and I can begin processing the next photo.

When I am ready to upload photos to Flickr and Zooomr, I click on my Ready to Upload Smart Album. This is a Smart Album that matches all photos with a rating of three stars or higher, AND photos that do NOT have the keywords “flickr” and “zooomr”:

Aperture - Ready to Upload

I select photos that I want to upload from this Smart Album, and then export them as JPG’s to a folder on my hard drive. After the export is complete, I add the keywords “flickr” and “zooomr” to the photos that are selected, which automatically removes them from the Ready to Upload Smart Album. I then use JUploadr to upload the exported photos to Flickr and Zooomr. After the batch has been uploaded to both sites, I delete the JPG’s, since I can easily re-export them again as needed.

Once I have finished processing all the photos for a particular month, I delete the TODO smart album for that month.

Using Smart Albums and Keywords in this way allows me to easily determine which photos need to be processed, which photos are ready to be uploaded, and which photos I have already uploaded. It greatly simplifies the details of keeping my photos organized, and allows me to concentrate on processing photos, rather than organizing photos.

I Own A Number

March 12th, 2008 Permalink

I Own Number99991MillionNumbers.com That’s the largest 5-digit prime number. And now it’s all mine! Do you want your own number? Just click the number above to get yours! This is complete silliness, of course, but it’s fun nonetheless.

I Own Number99991MillionNumbers.com

That’s the largest 5-digit prime number. And now it’s all mine!

Do you want your own number? Just click the number above to get yours!

This is complete silliness, of course, but it’s fun nonetheless.

GeoTagging, Strike 1

January 18th, 2008 Permalink

I have been wanting to make geotagging my photos part of my regular workflow for some time now. I have experimented with some applications that integrate with Google maps and allow you to tag photos one at a time, but they are too time consuming. To make it practical to geotag each and every one […]

Bar Crudo

I have been wanting to make geotagging my photos part of my regular workflow for some time now. I have experimented with some applications that integrate with Google maps and allow you to tag photos one at a time, but they are too time consuming. To make it practical to geotag each and every one of my photos, I decided that I would have to come up with a solution that is automated as much as possible, and that could work on the raw photo data prior to importing it into Aperture.

After some research, I decided to try the Sony GPS-CS1. The GPS-CS1 is a battery powered GPS data recorder. It does not have a screen, it simply records the current position in a log every 15 seconds. It connects to your computer via USB, allowing you to retrieve the data and work with it. Initial research revealed that Mac’s running later versions of Tiger were able to read the data from the GPS-CS1, so I figured that Leopard would be able to as well. I found one on e-bay, clicked Buy It Now, and had it a few days later.

While I was waiting for the device to arrive, I did some research about the log format, and discovered that a program called HoudahGPS could translate the log format used by the GPS-CS1 to GPX format, which is used by GPSPhotoLinker, a program that can compare the timestamps on photos to the timestamps in the GPS log and automatically tag the photos with the GPS data. I downloaded and installed HoudahGPS and GPSPhotoLinker while waiting for the GPS-CS1 to arrive.

I used it for the first time this morning while walking to work, and excitedly hooked it up to my MacBook Pro this morning, waiting for the drive icon to pop up so I could get the GPS logs… and discovered that the keyboard and trackpad were locked up. I unplugged the GPS-CS1, and the keyboard and trackpad started working again. Hmmm. That is not supposed to happen.

Some further research revealed that Leopard, in fact, does not work with the GPS-CS1, but that Windows XP running under Parallels could see it. This required configuring Parallels to attach USB devices to the guest OS, rather than letting both the host and the guest see the device. I booted up XP in Parallels, and was able to retrieve the log files.

After copying the logs to the Mac, I fired up HoudahGPS, converted the Sony log format to GPX format, and then used GPSPhotoLinker to geotag the photos I had taken. The actual tagging process worked quite well, and Flickr was able to pick up the geotags just fine. Zooomr doesn’t seem to have picked up the geotags, but at least the data is in the files.

This is a good first effort, but I am going to try again. The work required to get the data from the GPS-CS1 is just too much of a hassle. I found another GPS data logger that is supposed to work correctly with a Mac, the Amod AGL3080. It seems that early versions had some problems, but the manufacturer has fixed those issues with firmware updates. One of these is on the way, and hopefully will work better than the Sony. I’ll use the GPS-CS1 until the Amod device arrives, and then sell the Sony. Anybody need a slightly used GPS data logger?

Fix For Vista Shares

January 15th, 2008 Permalink

It seems that Vista has some issues when sharing drives over the network. Connections drop, connections cannot be established, etc. Here’s a fix that may help if you are having this problem: Click Windows Visa Start Orb In search box, type “regedit” and return Once regedit opens, click File -> export to make a backup […]

It seems that Vista has some issues when sharing drives over the network. Connections drop, connections cannot be established, etc. Here’s a fix that may help if you are having this problem:

  1. Click Windows Visa Start Orb
  2. In search box, type “regedit” and return
  3. Once regedit opens, click File -> export to make a backup copy
  4. Navigate to Computer HKEYLOCALMACHINE SYSTEM CurrentControlSet Control Lsa.
  5. In the right pane, right-click the “LmCompatibilityLevel” key and select “modify”
  6. Change the value from 3 to 1
  7. Restart

I don’t use any Microsoft OS’s, so I can’t say that this will fix all your problems. This tip comes from my friend snoops, who knows his Microsoft stuff. If it makes your cat explode and your car catch on fire, don’t come crying to me.

Update: It should be noted that this fix is only applicable when connecting to a share from a Mac. When connecting with a Windows machine, it should work without this change.

Simple, Fast, iTunes Backup

January 10th, 2008 Permalink

Our iTunes library at home is on the large side (250 GB) and I am always looking for a better way to back it up. The main library lives on an external hard drive hanging off of a G5 iMac, and the backup drive is an external drive that gets a copy of the data […]

Our iTunes library at home is on the large side (250 GB) and I am always looking for a better way to back it up. The main library lives on an external hard drive hanging off of a G5 iMac, and the backup drive is an external drive that gets a copy of the data and stays at work most of the time.

I recently upgraded the G5 to Leopard and replaced the main external drive with a 750GB Seagate drive. As part of this swap, I wanted to find a better backup solution. I was using software that came with the LaCie drive, SilverKeeper. This worked alright, but it was quite ugly, and seemed a little bit clunky. I use SuperDuper to do full backups of my computers, but it didn’t seem to be able to backup just a single folder. I spent some time searching for a simple, free backup program, but couldn’t find anything that did what I wanted.

Then I remembered that under all that pretty GUI is the muscle of Unix. Why not just write a simple shell script and use rsync to do the backup?

Here is the script:


#!/bin/bash # Back up files from SRC to DEST # The hidden .DS_Store files will be excluded # The iTunes library will also be backed up #SRC should point to the folder you want to back up SRC="/Volumes/Media/iTunes Music" # DEST should point to the location you want to put the files DEST="/Volumes/My Book" # LIBRARY is the location of your iTunes music library file. # In most cases, this does not need to be changed LIBRARY="$HOME/Music/iTunes" # This line backs up the media drive rsync -av --exclude '.DS_Store' "$SRC" "$DEST" # This line backs up the iTunes Library files rsync -av --exclude '.DS_Store' "$LIBRARY" "$DEST/iTunes Library"

To use the script, copy and paste into any text editor. You will need to modify the SRC and DEST variables to reflect the source and destination for your backup. Once you have modified the script, save it with a .command extension. Then, when you want to back up your music, just double click the file. The Terminal program will launch, and the backup commands will run.

If you store your music in the default location in your home directory, you will only need one rsync command. Just make the value of SRC “$HOME/Music/iTunes”, and comment out the second rsync command by putting a # at the beginning of the line.

This technique can be used to back up any directory. I have found that rsync is reliable and fast. If you have any questions about this script, leave a comment or send me an email, and I’ll try to help.

iPhone Software Update 1.0.1 Crash

July 31st, 2007 Permalink

Apple released version 1.0.1 of the iPhone software today. It addresses the security hole in Safari that has been widely (mis)reported on in the media. When I tried up update my phone tonight, the update crashed (twice) and the iPhone entered recovery mode. After I reconnected it to the computer, iTunes saw it and started […]

Apple released version 1.0.1 of the iPhone software today. It addresses the security hole in Safari that has been widely (mis)reported on in the media.

When I tried up update my phone tonight, the update crashed (twice) and the iPhone entered recovery mode. After I reconnected it to the computer, iTunes saw it and started a restore process. It synced up again just fine, but that was a bit of a scare.

The iPhone was modded with some custom ringtones and system sounds, and I suspect that this is what caused the firmware update to bomb out. I think I will wait a little while and see what is happening with this update before uploading the custom ringtones again.

I Won Something

July 26th, 2007 Permalink

A few days ago, Raoul Pop had a contest on his blog to give away one of the books he reviewed. Well, I won! It was a 50/50 chance, but still, pretty cool. The book came today, and it’s quite good. The section on cryptographic streams is interesting to me at the moment, as my […]

A few days ago, Raoul Pop had a contest on his blog to give away one of the books he reviewed. Well, I won! It was a 50/50 chance, but still, pretty cool. The book came today, and it’s quite good. The section on cryptographic streams is interesting to me at the moment, as my current personal programming project involves using cryptography to enable secure file exchange over untrusted networks.

Thanks Raoul!

Zooomr Mark III

June 17th, 2007 Permalink

Zooomr, if you have never heard of it, is a photo sharing web site. It was created and is still maintained by a single programmer, Kristopher Tate. It is evangelized by its CEO, Thomas Hawk — the only other person on the Zooomr staff. It has some features that really help to set it apart. […]

Zooomr, if you have never heard of it, is a photo sharing web site. It was created and is still maintained by a single programmer, Kristopher Tate. It is evangelized by its CEO, Thomas Hawk — the only other person on the Zooomr staff. It has some features that really help to set it apart. And it has recently undergone a major upgrade.

The recent upgrade to Mark III had been anticipated for quite a while. The first time Kris attempted to deploy Mark III, there were some technical issues that forced a rollback, much to the disappointment of its users. After several more weeks, Kris was ready to try again. And there were more issues, including the death of a server that could have spelled the end for Zooomr. However, in a remarkable outpouring of support, the community rallied around Zooomr, hardware and rack space were donated, and Zooomr Mark III was born. During this time, Kris and Thomas actually set up a live feed which they dubbed Zooomr TV. Many people followed the progress as Kris worked non-stop to restore service, and a whole new feeling of community was developed. You can read more about the troubles and the way the community rose to the challenge here and here.

I’ve been using the new Zooomr, and if you just want the short version of my thoughts, here you go: Two Thumbs Up!

Now for the longer version.

There are some great new features. The Upload has been improved greatly, with nice visual feedback in the form of progress bars as your photos are uploading. If there are errors during the upload of a photo, the progress bar clearly indicates the error, so you know to upload that photo again. You can upload as many photos at a time as you want.

There are great new options for how to view a users photostream. When viewing a users photos, you will see three small icons next to their avatar. By clicking these, you can select blog view, normal view, or thumbnail square view. Thumbnail square view is especially useful because you can easily scan through hundreds of photos and pick the ones that really stand out. Quite simply, thumbnail square view rocks.

Zooomr has become even more focused on the social aspects of photosharing with what is perhaps the most visible new feature, Zipline. Zipline is a way for you to easily track the activity of your Zooomr contacts. This includes their photos as well as their activity, because Zooomr now lets you post a Twitter-style “What am I doing right now” message to your Zipline. This message then shows up in the Zipline of people who are following your activity. It’s a little difficult to describe, so check out my Zipline and you’ll see what I mean.

Another new feature is Marketplace. Marketplace allows any Zooomr user to sell their photos at any price they desire, from $1 to $1,000. The photographer keeps 80% of the selling price, and Zooomr keeps 20%. Zooomr is banking on this as their future revenue stream. Looking at the high quality of photographs that users are posting, you can see why they think this will be a viable business model.

Zooomr also introduced groups with Mark III. These are not groups in the sense of Flickr photo pools, but are more like traditional discussion boards. however, users can easily post their photos to a discussion thread, and there are already photography specific discussion threads popping up on the groups. Again, this shows how the new Zooomr is emphasizing the social aspect of photo sharing.

Zooomr TV, born from the chaos surrounding the deployment of Mark III, is now an official part of Zooomr. You will find Kris and Thomas broadcasting occasionally, and chatting about feature, photos, and bugs. It’s an interesting place to hang out, especially if you have any interest in the behind the scenes activity.

I want to touch on one more feature, and that is Discover. Discover uses a square thumbnail view to render photos from the last hour/day/week/month/year. This is a fun way to find great new photos and photographers quickly.

I have mentioned a couple of times that Zooomr Mark III is more focused on the social aspects of photo sharing. Both Thomas and Kris have very strong feelings about the way a social site like Zooomr should treat its users. There is no doubt that a web site accessible to people all over the world has the potential to bring headaches in the form of political pressure – just look at the mess Flickr has made for themselves recently by cutting off many countries from viewing photos. Rather than hide from the difficult issues, Thomas and Kris have shown that they take their position as a worldwide photo sharing site very seriously by adopting a clear policy regarding censorship. If you have been around Flickr during the last week or so, you have probably seen the uproar caused by their heavy-handed censoring of users photos and comments. Thomas and Kris both have very strong feelings about how a company should behave in this regard, and it is good to see them addressing this issue in a clear and positive way.

If you have looked at any of the links in this article, you have probably noticed that the URL for Zooomr has the word “beta” in front of it. If you saw this, you may have thought to yourself, “Hmmm, I bet that means there are still bugs in there.” If you did think that, I’m here to assure you that you are 100% correct!

One feature that was in Zooomr previously was the Recent Activity view. It is now missing. Hopefully when it makes its return it will be an updated version of the previous Recent Activity incarnation. That was one of my least favorite parts of Zooomr. If Recent Activity was more like Zipline, it would be a huge improvement.

Zooomr also has an ongoing problem parsing the metadata for some photos. Metadata is included in photos in many different ways, depending on the camera it was shot with, the program that imported the photos from the camera, and the program that was used to process the photos before uploading them. Currently, the EXIF information stored by the camera is shown for most photos, but this only includes basic information about the photograph. If you have included IPTC metadata such as keywords, they may not be parsed correctly, and you may need to manually add tags after the photo is uploaded.

RSS feeds for users photostreams are currently MIA as well.

Overall, Zooomr Mark III is a very nice upgrade. Even if you currently use another photo sharing site, I encourage you to head over to Zooomr and play with it. Upload some photos, discover some new photos that you like, and add some contacts. Play with Zipline and Discover. Chances are you’ll like what you see, and you may end up adding Zooomr to your list of must-browse sites.

Zooomr is headed great places, and it is rapidly becoming one of the most enjoyable places to discover new photos and interact with fellow photographers from all around the world.

iPhone Release!

June 4th, 2007 Permalink

Finally. An official release date for the iPhone. I hope I don’t have to do the geeky wait-in-line-for-the-latest-gadget thing. Oh well, it won’t be the first time. For those of you with a Mac, I’ve updated my iPhone Countdown Widget so that it reflects the correct release date. Go get it.

Finally. An official release date for the iPhone. I hope I don’t have to do the geeky wait-in-line-for-the-latest-gadget thing. Oh well, it won’t be the first time.

For those of you with a Mac, I’ve updated my iPhone Countdown Widget so that it reflects the correct release date. Go get it.

There Goes My Productivity

May 19th, 2007 Permalink

Back around 2000 or so, I started playing StarCraft on a PC. I spent many, many hours with that game. I played all the races until I memorized the technology trees. I played through the single player game multiple times. I spent hours in one-on-one battles with first one AI, then two, then three. I […]

Back around 2000 or so, I started playing StarCraft on a PC. I spent many, many hours with that game. I played all the races until I memorized the technology trees. I played through the single player game multiple times. I spent hours in one-on-one battles with first one AI, then two, then three. I spent a lot of time in, er, Team Building Exercises with some of my coworkers. One of the applications I was lead engineer on was named after one of the Zerg units in the game.

I slowly moved away from PC’s, both at work and at home, and as a result I really don’t game much anymore. Although, about a year ago, I threw together a PC from some old parts so that I could fire up StarCraft again.

And now StarCraft II is coming.

And it will release on Mac and PC at the same time.

My productivity is about to take a dive….