Photo Software

It looks like I have about 8 gigabytes of photos over >6,000 photos.  Like everything else, I’ve tried several software packages for working with the photos.  I don’t use most of the editing features, other than crop and red-eye removal (when I remember.)  I do frequently need to adjust the photo date, as many of my old pictures didn’t capture it correctly (my old camera would lose the date/time everytime the battery got changed, so lots of my photos say 1/1/1998.)

I’ve been using Google’s Picasa for the past few years.  It has the above mentioned features, and a pretty good facial recognition system for tagging.  As I add pictures, it scans them and identifies faces and who they might be, then I confirm or change that.  This has been really good for requests like this one from Bethany:  “I need a baby picture for next year’s yearbook by tomorrow.”  She was able to easily look through all of the photos where her face is tagged and pick one in minutes.

Picasa lets you upload pictures to the web, and has the ability to import from iPhoto, although it doesn’t do a very good job.  It loses the iPhoto events, albums, faces, etc., and shows them in a mostly meaningless folder structure by date.  Plus, most (all?) of the stuff in iPhoto I’ve already brought in to Picasa, so there are lots of apparent duplicates.  I want to get down to one authoritative collection, get it tagged right, post if online and back it up.

Picasa uploads to Google Drive, and you see it through G+ Photos.  15GB of storage space.

I’ve tried Windows Live Photo in the past.  It has most of the same functions, is also free, and works seamlessly with MS Skydrive.  Since they give 25GB of space, that’s pretty appealing. Of course, it’s easy to get multiple accounts in either service, or you can pay for additional storage.  I don’t think this product works on the Mac, which was a plus for Picasa.

I use an Apple MacBook Air as my notebook machine now, so have moved all of my personal photos here.  I’ve tried iPhoto, which is pretty cool, but locks me into the Apple world.  Still, since I also use iPhone and iPad, and have an Apple TV, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Still, I’ve done all of my tagging in Picasa, and would likely need to redo that if I moved the photos over to iPhoto.  I haven’t looked at Aperture yet.

Now Flickr is giving us 1 terabyte of storage, with most of the functional limits removed.  I’ve only started to look at that system and what it can do.

I’m sure you have a system that you use and love – please let me know in a comment here!


Becoming more social

Having always been the computer geek in my crowd (albiet a small crowd), I’ve accumulated accounts with nearly every social networking system out there.  I lurk on most of the services, and try to understand what their value is relative to the others.  Truth be told, many times I’m somewhat reluctant to post what I think, because I hate getting flamed by people who disagree with me, don’t want to offend people, and don’t want to create ghosts that come back to haunt me later in my professional life.

I do believe in the value of social media, and am intrigued by the massive pricetags of properties like Instagram and Tumblr as they’ve gotten bought up by the giants of the industry.  I’m going to try to step up my usage of these systems, posting whatever insights I come upon along the way.  To that end, I’ve linked many of my accounts together so that when I post on one, the others get a reference.  This blog is hosted on WordPress; I’ve linked it to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr.  I think that means that a “wall” post of some sort will appear on each.  Since my Twitter is already linked to Facebook (Tweets get posted to Facebook), it will be interesting to see with this post if I get doubles on Facebook. [Follow-up: I got a post via Twitter with a link back to this post, and a post via WordPress with a link.  The words included were the same – most of the first paragraph here.]

In part I’m doing this out of jealousy.  A close friend from high school, Peter, posts frequently to his blog.  He decided when he turned 50 to write something everyday, did so every day for more than a year, and continues.  He has inspired me to try to share more.  I’ve learned so much about him and his family, and get to participate in his life from several states away.

Here’s what I think so far:

  • Facebook – the big dog in the social networking game.  Some days I love it, and other days hate it.  I don’t play any games (like Farmville or whatever the current rage is), although I did try once – I hated having my crops die if I left it alone for a few days!  I have tons of “friends” there, including many people from high school, churches I’ve attended, and singing groups I’ve belonged to; I also have acquantances there, people who found me and connected for one reason or another.  Sometimes I get irritated because my newsfeed has gotten very politically polarized, and I’ve become a little too liberal to let some of the “conservative” stuff roll off my back.  Facebook doesn’t make it easy enough to filter that stuff out, particularly from the mobile versions (I use iPhone and iPad.)  So far this is where I’ll share from first.  I am reluctant to include people I work for here, and don’t currently follow my boss.  I do follow the college CIO, but I don’t think he uses his account much.
  • Twitter – My son Alex loves this, and it’s hard to get him to disengage from his Droid long enough to maintain a conversation.  I find Twitter to be the best place for up-to-the-minute news and reactions.  The web version has gotten much better as a way to read the feed.  I follow lots of computer industry types, as well as a number of local media people.  It’s not my go-to place for sharing, unless I think it might be interesting for anyone (not just my friends.)  The feed moves fast, so it’s a bit hard to follow.
  • LinkedIn – This is designed for professional connections.  It had the best interface for collecting my online resume and sharing.  I find work connections generally are willing to connect here, even if they refuse to use Facebook.  I rarely post here, although with this WordPress publishing connection that may change.  I don’t generally want to put personal stuff on this account.  I did realize early on that it could reflect my singing career in addition to my computer career, so I’ve made connections that way.  They have a group feature which sends me daily summaries of messages posted in the group.
  • Tumblr – With the recent buyout plan by Yahoo, I’m reconsidering what it is about.   It has a very different blogging paradigm: very simple, visually oriented.  I thought it was just a place to post pictures/animated GIFs with comments.  They don’t seem to filter postings as much as the other big services, so allow nudity and NSFW (Not Safe For Work) content – and as something of a dirty-old-man, I can confirm that some of that content is first rate.  However, this is one of the places that really scares me for posting and following.  I’m only human, and my wife prefers that I look at pictures with nudity along with her (as opposed to by myself); I’m really afraid that anything I look at or like there could hurt me professionally or otherwise.  As such, I’ve stopped following any of that (find it yourself) and tried to reform how I look at this product.  Not many of the people I know have accounts here (based on Facebook and Contacts searches for accounts), and few of those actually post anything.  One of those happens to be my beautiful daughter, Bethany.  I’ve read recently that young people are fleeing from Facebook because they don’t like that their elders are all there now.  That’s too bad, but I do see a major difference in the kind of postings each group makes.
  • Google Plus – the latest effort by Google to compete in the social world.  I have an account, follow some people, but don’t really use it yet.  Hangouts are supposed to be a great feature, allowing multi-person video chats.  It’s on most of my devices, and my family email is hosted on Google Apps, so who knows for the future?  The link I provide here may not be very good – it’s not the simple form that I have for most other accounts.  G+ integrates Picasa photo sharing, which I’ve been using for quite a long time, even if I haven’t publicly posted that much.

Photo sharing sites are subject of another post.  Since I’m writing this during a quiet time at work, I should probably wrap up.

Till next time …



This is the first Thanksgiving in some 30 years that I spent without Laura.  She’s away with Bethany and her Mom at a Rideout family reunion in Phoenix.  We miss her!  My parents took care of me and the boys – God knows we’d probably starve otherwise!  Only five more days to fend for myself.

The day started with the annual Grace Church Thanksgiving Service, this year next door at Mt. Zion AME.  (We’ve been out of our sanctuary since September due to damage from the 8/23 earthquake, which caused the clerestory walls to separate and be judged as potentially unstable.)  We had a small choir today, 15 compared to our normal 30, but sounded good.  It was nice to sing from the front of the church instead of the rear balcony, as we have been over at St. Mary’s the last couple months.  Church politics in the “Episcopal” Diocese of SC have been really irritating lately, so it was good to have a quiet, positive service.

The next few weeks are one of our busy seasons at Grace.  Advent Lessons and Carols are Sunday night at St. Matthew’s Church.  I really look forward to singing with Scott Bennett playing a full-size organ again.

We got to my parent’s house in Mt. Pleasant around noon, armed with Dunkin’ Donuts.  I for one am pleased that some businesses choose to be open this year on Thanksgiving.  Mom prepared a great feast, even appropriately sized for the 6 of us (Mom, Dad, Grandma H, Alex, Ben, me).  Mom usually cooks for 20, even when it’s just the 3 of them!

We watched football, CofC Basketball (lost to UCF in the Bahamas), and then Dirty Harry.  A fine holiday film, you might think!   I needed my boys to understand the reference “You’ve got to be asking yourself, ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, Punk?”

I finally gave in to Ben’s frequent calls to return home (which started on the steps before we entered the house at 12!)  I’ve been catching up with a much more prolific friend (see Limeguy’s blog), and realized what a slacker I’ve been here.  I usually rely on Facebook and an occasional Foursquare post to communicate, and haven’t had much to say.  Sorry.

There have been lots of things going on here in beautiful Charleston.  You should come and visit sometime.  Before we kick out those cruise ships ruining the view near the waterfront on the peninsula.  (I really like seeing them.)

I’ve been taking my second course at the College of Charleston, Object-Oriented Programming with Java.  The last time I programmed full-time was nearly 20 years ago, back before most of this technology existed. I’m finally getting to a place where I don’t feel like a complete idiot with the language – just a rank amateur.  Hopefully I’ll feel a touch more accomplished after I finish coding the windows for my semester project by Tuesday night, and pass the final on Thursday.

Fortunately, my load at the College is starting to lighten a little.  We hired on a new supervisor for me, and a new account administrator as well.  Both are working out well, allowing me to breathe a bit.  They even pledged to take the inevitable support calls this weekend – first time in years!

I have plenty swirling around my little head thanks to work, school, the kids, figuring out how to get through the next few days, church politics, continuing inner conflict about internet piracy, etc.  Since I probably lost you in the first paragraph or so, I’ll save that for another time.

What am I up to lately?

Just a quick update:
– Finished the CSO Chorus year with a big concert last night with Westminster and the Spoleto Orchestra – went really well
– Been trying out FourSquare. Sorry to my Facebook friends who get annoyed by too many updates – I’m trying to find the balance
– Got ahold of a collection of Rolling Stone Top 500 songs of all time – cool stuff

Should I be mad / life

As I took a quick breakfast break this morning, I pondered:
– I got angry last night thanks to a misunderstanding with my daughter. She attended a school function (30 minutes away from home). When I got home at 7:15, my wife told me Bethany would need a pickup at 8:00 at school, but that she (Laura) would get up and go. At 7:50, I learned that the pickup would now be from a friend’s house (at least 20 minutes away) at 8:30. When we got to the friend’s house at 8:25, we learned that Bethany hadn’t even left school yet (20 minutes from that spot.) We told her to call when she left, and started driving. Her call came 5 minutes before we arrived at the school, and we told her to stay put. By this point, Laura and I were both unhappy. Bethany’s first words “is everyone happy?” did not get the response she wanted. She felt I was unreasonable for not calling her before we left for the friend’s house.
– The young girls are in full bloom here in Charleston. If you like attractive young women, this can be a real job benefit or curse here. I just remember, “I’m old; I’m married; I love my wife!” I feel like there’s practically nothing appealing about this nearly 50 year-old, pudgy gray-haired guy, but Laura says she finds me appealing. I try, unsuccessfully more often than I’d like, to avoid oggling. Damn, why couldn’t I be gay for a few moments? (CofC is 66% female, and I think most of the guys look like slobs.) Anyway, most of these young women are not fully cooked yet – most would run away upon viewing a drum corps show, a church choral performance, or my empty bank account! My wife wouldn’t, except maybe from the empty checkbook …
– Services for the disabled and poor. As I walked over to church Wednesday, I passed a person with a severely disabled child in a motorized wheelchair. The child (I think it was a young person) was grunting or yelping. I wanted to stop, but felt it would be an intrusion. I realized a couple minutes later that they were here to protest our governor’s town hall meeting, since she is strongly in favor of balancing our budget by cutting medicaid and services for the disabled, not to mention education at all levels. I couldn’t help but feel sad – if you have a disabled child, you understand the continuous challenge of life and advocacy for your child. But it seems like if you don’t, and/or you are a Republican, that challenge is too bad, but not your problem. (We know many caring people who don’t hold that view.) This whole budget cutting madness brings out the worst in people. “Hard choices”, “spending beyond our means”, “just because we started this program doesn’t mean it should stay forever” are all just some of the refrains. The cutting always seems to be driven by people who want to protect their money. I could go on a rant here, but am on the losing side. Ultimately it’s people like that child and my son that get hurt.

That’s enough for now. Anyone care?