Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Karen's blog needs a new title

Karen finally convinced me to contribute to her blog. Just wait for the hits to plummet...

IMG_4338_1 A couple weeks ago, Karen and I visited my family in Georgia. It was great to see my parents, my brother, his wife and kids, my sister, and her kids. While at my brother's, Karen and I rode his 4 wheelers. I think we'll have to get some because Karen really had fun! :-)

A friend, Joshua, recently moved from CA to GA, so we got to see him. We were made suitably jealous by their new home. The house is beautiful and spacious. Karen and I have been talking about adding a bit to our house and have started talking to contractors. After we're done, our house might be the size of Joshua's basement :-/

As usual, I shot a ton of pictures while in GA, and some are shared up on flickr. Kids (and pets) are much more fun to photograph than adults. We adults always seem to complain about how we look. The kids are especially photogenic, so no problem.


Speaking of flickr... it's awesome, but has a few shortcomings from my perspective. I wanted to find a good online backup solution, and since most of my data is photos, I looked into picasa and flickr. I decided on flickr because they store unlimited photos for a reasonable charge (~$25/year) and they have several ways to organize photos (tags, sets, archives). Picasa is more expensive and seems less flexible. Picasa software is seemingly nice (as long as you don't mind corrupted MakerNotes on your images), but there are many tools out there for flickr (like downloadr to bulk download pictures off flickr).

The true beauty of flickr is that they expose an API, so the shortcomings I've found can all be worked out with a few lines of code or by others' tools. I've written a little tool that I use to:

  • Prepare photos for upload

    • Remove the "OwnerName" tag since I put my name and phone number in my camera. This is a common complaint in the flickr help forums.
    • Add "machine tags" so that I can uniquely match a photo stored on flickr with the version stored on my home machine
    • Add additional tags. Typically for generic tags, like "Christmas", because we add specific photo tags, like "Karen", on the flickr website. Their interface is pretty good for tagging.

  • Upload the photo to flickr

    • There are other uploaders out there, but I didn't like any of them. Plus, having my tool take care of it removed a step in the flow.
    • This gave me the opportunity to optionally re-upload (replace) photos on flickr without losing any of the flickr state (views, comments, notes, etc). That's been useful as I repair photos that the Picasa software has corrupted.

  • Fix the upload time on flickr

    • Other uploaders use the current date/time for the "upload date". Seems logical, but instead, I'd rather have the upload time match the time the picture was taken. This is especially true since I uploaded all my photos (about 16k - not all are public though) from newest to oldest, so flickr displayed my oldest photos first since they sort by upload date. This feature allowed me to fix all the dates of my already uploaded photos. Flickr's selection of upload date seems a common complaint in the flickr help forums.

  • Backup flickr content

    • Now that we're using flickr, there's a bunch of new data created there. We tag and group our photos on flickr. We change the titles and descriptions, and there are comments and notes on the photos. So, the tool can pull this content back and apply it to the photo (title, description and tags fit nicely in IPTC/EXIF fields) or store it locally (notes and comments don't fit so nicely, so I just keep these in xml).

The tool is very customized to my needs, tastes, and usage, but I'm considering sharing it. It addresses some common complaints (OwnerName & upload time). I need to do a little cleanup/documentation before that though.