Going offline soon

I will be taking this blog offline on 1 Oct 2010 to concentrate on the on nova-rowing.com – I will be moving the linux related material to a new tbd blog.

My new rowing blog is Nova-rowing.com


Rowing Blog Is Moving

I have moved the rowing portion of this blog to a new site.  Since it is a separate domain it is taking me a while to organize the site.  All the original rowing content is there.  All new content is there.  You can find it at

Northern Virginia High School Rowing

I will continue to try to clean it up and get all the content together.  I will post occasionally over the summer and be ready to roll come next season (2010-2011)

Money, Time, and Backups

It is a feature of getting older.  When you are young you have all the time in the world, but no money.  As you get older, if you have done OK, you have enough money to satisfy most needs – but not enough time.  Money can be renewed.  Time cannot.  I have become very obsessive about my use of time.

If I go somewhere where I assume I will be waiting, I always bring a book.  Even though I may only get through 2-3 pages, I still will finish a book in a few weeks.  I feel like I have gotten something for nothing.  I have not wasted time.

I hate doing things twice.  I know the second time is nothing but a pure waste of time.  This is why I like backups.  With backups, if I lose something, I have a good chance of recovering most of it.  I will waste as little time as possible.  On my computers at home my primary disk copies off to three separate backup disks.  Much of  what I have can’t be replaced (pictures).  If I invested all that time into getting it  in it then it is certainly worth a couple hundred dollars to improve my chances of saving it.

I switch my ‘primary’ computer about every 18-24 months.  Linux makes this easy.  All my storage files are in a specific directory.  I can just copy my “home” directory to the new computer and be up and working quickly.  With a new computer I spend most of my time improving my backups with what I have learned.  This is time well invested.  It pays dividends by giving me time back in the future in the event of a problem.

My reason for mentioning this is because of another post I was writing earlier.  I usually don’t write in wordpress.  I write in a text editor because it is easier.  I then copy/paste it into wordpress.  I was on a windows machine at the time.  When I was done I wanted to print it out and read it.  I hit print.  The printer program hung.  My program crashed.  I lost everything.  I hadn’t hit save as I was working.  It was a stupid and careless mistake.

Posts are much easier to write the first time.  There is a sense of excitement as you write it out.  That fades as you make corrections to it.  You become tired with what you have written.  I’ve heard it said that books aren’t completed – they are merely abandoned.  I believe that.

I read about Rossini once.  He was so talented as a composer he was writing in bed when the score slipped to the ground and under the bed.  Rather than get up he started a new one.  I’m not that good.  I will have to rewrite my post.  It won’t be as much fun.  Time is lost. It will bother me all night.

Don’t make the same mistake.  Save your work and do backups.  It is good insurance and the time lost can’t be replaced.

Scanned Photos in Picasa – Use This Tool!

While Picasa is a wonderful tool – it does have one flaw.  It sorts pictures by the date in their exif header.  If you keep the date on the camera correct, this isn’t a problem.

However – I have two sets of pictures that give me problems.  I have been scanning my old 35mm film at home for a couple years in my spare time.  I have also sent away some APS film that I wanted to have scanned before it became totally obsolete.  When these pictures are scanned, the date in the exif header is the date that the film was scanned. (The scanner creates the exif header)

Even if I file them in folders for a particular date – I still have scanned photos from the 1980’s showing up in 2009 under picasa.

To fix this you have to modify the date in the exif header.  The best tool I have found to do this is jhead.  Luckily – jhead works on windows, mac, and linux.  Now to set the dates for a whole series of pictures in a particular directory I can just do this:

jhead -ds2000:12:25 * (set the exif dat to Christmas 2000)

You can even set the filestamp to the date in the exif header with

jhead -ft *

This may not seem like much – but it might be the only tool I’ve found that can do this.

If your image doesn’t have any exif data – you can even create the header:

jhead -mkexif *

Now these pictures will show up in the correct chronological order in Picasa – and finding the ones I want is much easier.  I suggest you check out the documentation page for all the options available.  But I have found this to be one of the critical tools in my Linux Photographer Toolbox.  And all you lucky PC/Mac users get to use it too 🙂

Managing Photo Libraries in Linux – A Simple Method.

I use my Linux machine as my primary machine for photography.  I import my pictures with a card reader, edit them as needed with GIMP, and then file them.  For backups I created a simple shell program with rsync which backs them up nightly to another disk.

I take about 1500-2000 pictures every year.  I only delete the absolute mistakes.  Right now I have about 12,000 pictures on my system.

I have been though several programs to manage my pictures.  On my mac I tried Iview Mediapro – which was then bought by Microsoft (and recently abandoned once again.)  I must admit – having used computers at home since 1987 I’m not too willing to surrender myself to a single program.  I’m sure that every year since I have owned a computer I have had to worry about migrating my data either because of the operating system, the computer, or the program.  This has influenced how I manage pictures today.

I use a simple directory structure to store my pictures.  For example – suppose I take Easter pictures on April 20th of 2010.  I will put all those pictures in a folder that describes them: “Easter_at_Bunny_House”.  Then that folder will be put into my overall picture directory – and will look something like this:


  • /storage is my storage folder at the root level
  • /storage/primary is a dedicated disk mounted at that point (I actually have a /storage/backup as well)
  • /storage/primary/photos – I store other stuff
  • /storage/primary/photos/dated – I have other photos which might be categorized (a clip art collection perhaps).  I also have others where I don’t know the correct dates yet (collections from relatives.)  Although I try to get everything into the ‘dated’ directory – there are other spots for some photos.
  • /storage/primary/photos/dated/year_2010 – Each year has it’s own folder, and within each year are 12 months (I copied a few years into the future so I wouldn’t have to do the months by hand)
  • /storage/primary/photos/dated/year_2010/d_Apr – I have the months listed alphabetically – so you will see “a-jan, b-feb, c-mar” and so on – just to keep them in order.

Why I don’t use IPTCIPTC is a great standard.  Unfortunately, many of the popular programs don’t use IPTC. Iphoto didn’t before.  I don’t know if they do now.    Here is a list of programs that work with IPTC.   The problem is simple.  Adding keywords to programs is a lot of work!

I find that by naming the folders correctly I can often find the pictures just through memory or a simple search.  This works a majority of the time.  When it doesn’t, I use Picassa for Linux.   I poiint this to my photo directory and can scan my photos quickly to find the one I want.

I have about 12,000 photos.  I am not dependent on a particular program.  I can move my files easily to another system.  If you have fewer photos a photo program might work for you (although good luck migrating in the future.)  If you have many more pictures a professional implementation might be worth your time.  For me – the simple method seems to work best and I am quite happy with it.

Extremes – QOTD (Quote of the Day)

“Whether the instances you select be men or dogs, or anything else, few are the extremes, but many in the mean between them.”


Planning – QOTD (Quote of the Day)

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”

Alan Lakei